March 2007 Archives

March 30, 2007

The White Horse bridge comes back to haunt me in Salzburg

It is funny how things can come back to haunt you - in the way the F.A. are currently being haunted by their decision to employ Steve McClaren for the England job. With the much delayed opening of the new Wembley stadium taking place last weekend, it was the White Horse bridge that came back to haunt me. A couple of years back I worked on the vote, hosted by the BBC's Radio Five Live station, to determine the...
Read the full post.

March 29, 2007

Google putting Wikipedia extracts at #1 - for Bruce Hornsby anyway

I've only noticed this once when using Google recently, but it looks like they have been playing with putting direct extracts from Wikipedia in at #1 in their search results. It doesn't look like a sponsored result i.e. advert, but the call-out where the "URL - size - Cached link - Similar pages link" metadata would usually be is distinctive and different: According to Perhaps it was just a ploy to detract from the fact that at #3...
Read the full post.

March 28, 2007

Server response codes interpreted as political censorship on the Newsnight blog

I'm sure when the great and the good in the formative days of the internet sat down and defined the server response status codes, they didn't expect them to be interpreted as political censorship. However, there is a great comment on the BBC's Newsnight blog, in a piece about tonight's upcoming interview between Jeremy Paxman and Guido Fawkes, following what must have been a typo in the link URL to the clip. I would like to watch, but on...
Read the full post.

The Sun using blogs to solicit amateur Page 3 Girl style photos

When The Sun first launched their MY Sun social networking / blogging / message-board platform last year, I wondered how long it would be until they started soliciting topless pictures of their reader's wives. I didn't have to wait too long. I don't know if it is strictly the first time they have done it (given their Page 3 Idol competition a couple of months back), but during the run-up to Easter, in their "Easter Bunny" competition (first prize...
Read the full post.

March 27, 2007

Too many statistics? The National Statistics site runs out of memory

Whilst I was doing the research over the last few weeks for my articles about the Biased BBC blog, I came across quite a few usability and technical gremlins on the web. (Not least of which was the Haloscan comments system used by Biased BBC itself. Mirroring the "technical difficulties" it is claimed often mysteriously affect BBC Have Your Say debates if the tide of comments isn't going in the direction the BBC's 'bias' would prefer, I found that...
Read the full post.

March 25, 2007

My 'biased' view of the Biased BBC blog - part seven

  Download a print version of this article Over the last couple of weeks I have been writing about my experiences of visiting the Biased BBC blog, with my view, as I've already mentioned, no doubt tinted by the fact that I am wearing ex-BBC spectacles. I wanted to bring the series to a conclusion by looking at my own personal experience of bringing impartiality to the services I worked on, and to look more generally at the future of an...
Read the full post.

March 23, 2007

Petition the PM about advert proposal

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the BBC does not compromise its integrity and reputation by taking advertisements on its news website Alex Kirby has set-up a petition on Number 10's site to ask that the BBC be restricted from placing adverts on their international news pages. This petition wants to make sure that the BBC, one of the United Kingdom's most valuable and cherished gifts to the rest of the world, does not agree to...
Read the full post.

Flickr imprvment

I'm well behind the curve on this, as I see it was announced at the end of February, but yesterday I noticed a significant user interaction improvement on Flickr around adding photos to groups you don't currently belong to. The old way was a bit cumbersome. Someone would spot your photo of the lesser-spotted outer Mongolian tortoise-shell widget, and you'd get a Flickrmail saying: Hi, out of your 6,512 photographs, I notice that once, in the corner of one,...
Read the full post.

March 22, 2007

Bob Woolmer's wife rules out / doesn't rule out* murder [Delete as applicable]

I've been following the Cricket World Cup as best I can from Austria, mostly via desktop scorecards since, understandably, it isn't a big thing over here. Sadly, as any cricket fan knows, the event has been over-shadowed by the death of Pakistan's coach Bob Woolmer. Jamaican police have so far been unable to determine a cause of death, and so the story has seen developments all week, with acres of speculation in the press alongside the tributes and obituries. This...
Read the full post.

My 'biased' view of the Biased BBC blog - part six - Moderation failure

  Download a print version of this article Yesterday, as part of a series of posts looking the Biased BBC blog and the accusations it makes against the corporation, I started to look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issue, and pointed out some recent mistakes that had been made on the BBC's website which fit into the Biased BBC pattern of seeing bias against Israel, and more generally Judaism, at every turn. Today I want to look at an even more serious...
Read the full post.

March 21, 2007

My 'biased' view of the Biased BBC blog - part five - Israel and Palestine

  Download a print version of this article Over the last week or so I've been writing about the Biased BBC blog, which claims to hold the BBC to account for the biased coverage it broadcasts over the airwaves and online. So far I've looked at why I visit the site in the first place, some of the successes the site has had in altering BBC output, and also several reasons why I dismiss some of the complaints. Earlier this week...
Read the full post.

March 20, 2007

BBC Jam closes today - how far will the repercussions be felt?

Today sees the suspension, pending review, of BBC Jam, the BBC's digital curriculum service, which was announced last week by the BBC Trust. Last week I littered my initial reaction liberally around various comment boxes on the web, but having had a bit of time to gather my thoughts on the subject, four points stand out for me 1) The loss of business to the independent web sector The complaints portray the BBC as a massive well-funded elephant that...
Read the full post.

March 19, 2007

My 'biased' view of the Biased BBC blog - part four - Global Warming

  Download a print version of this article Over the last couple of days I've been writing about the Biased BBC site, no doubt, as I pointed out, through my own ex-BBC tinted spectacles. I looked at some of the reasons why I visit the site, some of the success it has had in influencing BBC output, and in a couple of posts I looked at why I dismiss some of the common charges levelled against the BBC in the comments...
Read the full post.

March 16, 2007

My 'biased' view of the Biased BBC blog - part three

  Download a print version of this article This week I've been writing about the Biased BBC blog site, about why I visit, some of the small successes it has had in influencing BBC output, and the ways in which some regular complaints made against the BBC don't bear up to much scrutiny. Today I wanted to look at three more accusations of BBC bias that regularly appear in the comments threads on the Biased BBC blog - and explain why...
Read the full post.

March 15, 2007

My 'biased' view of the Biased BBC blog - part two

  Download a print version of this article Yesterday I wrote about my visits to the Biased BBC blog, and why I think it is a useful and enjoyable place to spend a few minutes on the web each day. I also pointed out a couple of the success stories the site has had in getting the BBC to make changes to online content. I find though, that there is a real difference between what is written on the blog "proper",...
Read the full post.

March 14, 2007

Slacker equivalent already on the market in Europe - meet Sony and Vodafone's Radio DJ

There has been a bit of a buzz around the announcement of a service called Slacker in the USA, which will be a device which plays personalised radio stations to the user on the go. Matt Marshall at VentureBeat even touted it as a potential "iPod killer". As I read through the promised feature-set, I started to get a little nagging voice in my head, saying "Hang on, isn'" Because for the last few months I've been working on...
Read the full post.

Blue Peter fakes competition result - in the Middle East?

It has not been a good day for the BBC so far. First up was the announcement that the BBC Trust is suspending the expensive digital curriculum project BBC Jam for review, following increasinging complaints from the private sector that the BBC has not kept to the conditions under which it was granted permission to launch the project. Then in a development that will shock thirty-and-fortysomethings across Britain, Blue Peter has admitted to faking the results of a competition. It...
Read the full post.

My 'biased' view of the Biased BBC blog

  Download a print version of this article I'm sure that I qualify genetically as a Beeboid, and so view the site through a prism of my own telly-tax funded bias, but I enjoy reading the Biased BBC blog. And I do mean enjoy. I always used to keep it in my subscribed RSS feeds when I worked at the BBC, and still dip into it from time to time in Austria. And there are a few reasons why I still...
Read the full post.

March 13, 2007

Badly configured blog comment spam adding to global warming. Probably.

This is going to be a rant about blog comment spam. However, it isn't going to be your run-of-the-mill rant - so you can click away now if you were gearing up to lecture me on how I wouldn't have this problem if I was using Wordpress / Bloxsom / such-and-such Movable Type plugin / hand-crafted everything using vi and the command line alone. The thing is, I don't detest comment spam. It is an occupational hazard of blogging....
Read the full post.

March 12, 2007

Gaza strip kidnapped by BBC Journalist according to the Daily Mail

Reports have been coming in this afternoon that BBC correspondent Alan Johnston may have been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip in Palestine. If the reports are confirmed, I hope that he is speedily set free and that no harm comes to him. Now, typographical errors when rushing to publish breaking stories are an occupational hazard of the online news world - and, if you've ever checked the spelling on currybetdotnet you'll know I'm a fine one to preach. However,...
Read the full post.

Where do you go to complain about spammy Google adverts in the UK

Google AdSense has been a successful product because it manages to act seamlessly as the broker between publisher and advertiser, but one of the problems with Google's contextual advertising is that is open to abuse. Most of the time a judicious bit of common sense can steer you clear of the extreme cases, but on Friday I noticed some AdSense abuse that I was astonished had escaped the Google quality detection net. A post on a friend's blog featured...
Read the full post.

March 9, 2007

BBC News linking to the TRNC "government" in Cyprus related stories

The BBC has been reporting today on the demolition of one of the barriers along the Green Line in Nicosia, Europe's last remaining divided capital. I was interested to note that in their related internet links section on the story they choose to link to not just the legitimate sites of the EU, Greece, Turkey and the island's Greek Cypriot government, but also to the website of the TRNC "government" in the Northern part of the island. Internationally, of...
Read the full post.

My plastic bag photo is re-cycled by New Consumer

It is always nice to see some of my creative commons licensed photographs on Flickr getting recycled, and last week New Consumer were using one of my pictures of a plastic bag. It is a little ironic actually, as they are using it to illustrate Adam Vaughan's article about "High street pledges to slash plastic bags by 2008" The photo of the Tesco's bag is part of my Flickr series "Things Our Neighbours Have Thrown Into Our Garden". Thanks...
Read the full post.

March 8, 2007

Watching video of the Valencia - Inter Milan brawl via newspaper websites

If you follow European football at all, you can't have failed to miss the fact that Tuesday night's match between Valencia and Inter Milan ended up with one of the funniest mass brawls you will ever see in sport a shocking brawl that tarnished the image of the beautiful game. As a result, it also provided the perfect opportunity to see how the British press incorporate video into their websites. On Wednesday morning I had a trawl through the major...
Read the full post.

Turkish YouTube ban unleashes the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast within

Yesterday the internet was buzzing with the news that a judicial decision in Turkey had blocked access to YouTube for users in that country. Most people looked at it as part of an ongoing narrative of states trying to control what could be published on the internet, but I found the whole Greece / Turkey subtext of the story to be the most interesting part. It seems that the offending videos on YouTube were user-generated content made by Greeks...
Read the full post.

March 7, 2007

Search Engine Land's social bookmarking faux pas

Neil Patel, in an article on Search Engine Land yesterday, talked about the way social networking widgets are placed on websites. These have been appearing like a rash across the web, especially since the SEO crowd spotted their potential for helping to generate a lot of incoming links to their content, with a minimum amount of promotional effort. Neil was arguing that placing the widgets on most pages on a site reduces their impact, since they begin to blend...
Read the full post.

March 6, 2007

The depressing DRM debates on the BBC's mailing list

Since the announcement that the BBC's iPlayer would contain elements of Microsoft's DRM, and that any forthcoming versions for the Apple or Linux OS would also need to incoporate some type of DRM, a debate has been raging on the mailing list. Opinion is broadly split into two camps. There are those who understand that in order to facilitate any kind of on demand service, the BBC needs to protect the interests of the rights-owners involved in making...
Read the full post.

March 5, 2007

T-Mobile hot-spots in Austria suffer from poor translation

I posted earlier about my experience of using a localised survey product at Salzburg's airport last week. Whilst I was there I also bought an hour of internet access via a T-Mobile hot spot, and experienced a little glitch in the English translation of the Austrian version of their service. I was quite happily browsing away, when my copy of Firefox was brought to a halt by an urgent dialogue box. Your time has run out! The thing is,...
Read the full post.

Patchy interface localisation in Salzburg Airport's touch-screen customer satisfaction survey

I had to travel briefly to London on business last week, and the first leg of my journey, from Salzburg to Frankfurt, was a bit delayed. That gave me time to explore Salzburg Airport's customer satisfaction kiosk. The departure gates have a touch-screen information point, where you can rate your airport experience. It offers a choice between German language and English language, and was one of those applications that displayed the importance of getting the little details right when...
Read the full post.

March 2, 2007

Playing with the Virgin Radio player beta

I was nudged the other day into looking at Virgin Radio's beta test of a new streaming internet radio player. The limited testing is only open to those who have registered as VIPs on the Virgin Radio site, which was a nice way of getting a small group of enthusiastic users of the site to try out the new service. My first impressions of the player were very good. Apart from having the streaming area and radio controls, the...
Read the full post.

March 1, 2007

The BBC takes another hit from the 9/11 conspiracy theorists

The BBC, and more specifically BBC World, have been under fire this week again from 9/11 conspiracy theorists, after a video "emerged" which appears to show the BBC discussing the collapse of the WTC7 Salomon Brothers Building some twenty minutes or so before the building collapsed - with it at times still visible on screen behind the reporter's shoulder. I say 'appears to show' because like everything in conspiracy theory circles, there are no clear-cut answers. Because the footage...
Read the full post.

Read more about…