October 2007 Archives

October 31, 2007

Haunted St Paul's and Barbican - "The city of the dead"

With it being halloween tonight, I thought it an appropriate day to continue the stories of our recent ghost walks... During our recent stay in London we have done four of the walks from the Richard Jones "Walking Haunted London" book. Last week I wrote about our trip around Westminster, and a rather disappointing and long journey around Knightsbridge, Kensington and Notting Hill. Our third walk was called "City of the dead", and started off from St Paul's station to...
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October 30, 2007

The Daily Star's unique approach to promoting RSS feeds

I've been doing some research around newspaper RSS feeds again - the results of which I hope to be able to publish later this week - and during the course of it I noticed that the Daily Star was publishing RSS for the first time. Whenever I've been doing studies of newspaper features and so on, I've generally not included the Star, as their site had remained firmly undeveloped for some years. However that appears to have changed with a...
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Unsubscribing from a blog stealing my content

One of the curses of blogging and providing an RSS feed is spammy content thieves, ripping off your stuff on their 'splogs', risking that you get a 'duplicate content' penalty from search engines, and just trying make a quick buck off some advertising on the page. I've recently noticed that this site has fallen victim to it - alerted in a couple of ways. First of all Feedburner listed a strange looking blog domain in the 'unusual uses' part of...
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October 29, 2007

BBC Programme pages illustrate the value of metadata and simplicity

A couple of weeks back in one of the softest of soft launches, the BBC introduced to their website programme support pages for every single programme. Tom Scott was involved in the project, and has blogged about what it does, and what it hopefully will do in the future. It has long been overdue, as one of the main user expectations about visiting the BBC site is that it will have at least some information about every programme - and...
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October 26, 2007

Top 100 UK Blog RSS feeds and OPML file

I've never been a big fan of long numbered league tables of bloggers whose main purpose is link-bait, or of using things like Alexa for measuring site popularity with any kind of granular accur...Oh, what's that you say...I'm in this list? [Changes tune] I was fascinated this week to see Blogstorm publish a list of "Top 100 UK blogs" which included currybetdotnet I found myself nestling just below the Biased BBC blog in the list, and slightly above Boris...
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October 25, 2007

Haunted Knightsbridge, Kensington and Notting Hill

Long-term readers of currybetdotnet will know that as well as the usual technical and media bits'n'bobs on the site, I used to recount the ghost walks my wife and I went on in London, and further afield. Whilst we've been in London we've done a couple more walks from Richard Jones' excellent book "Walking Haunted London". Yesterday I wrote about our trip starting in Westminster, and today here is what happened when we walked around Haunted Kinghtsbridge, Kensington and Notting...
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So where did those 900,000 mysterious Spooks viewers go?

Yesterday Stephen Brook was reporting in the Media section of The Guardian that BBC1 Islamic propaganda vehicle Spooks had lost nearly a million viewers in a week. He put it down to the effect of the Champions League on ITV1 "Arsenal's bravura win in the Champions League last night attracted nearly 6 million viewers to ITV1 - and BBC1 spy drama Spooks was hit hard. The audience for Arsenal's 7-0 victory over Slavia Prague, peaked at 5.9 million at 8pm,...
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October 24, 2007

Haunted Westminster and Piccadilly

Long-term readers of this blog may recall that I used to regularly intersperse the usual mix of observation about websites, moaning about newspapers and wittering on about the slightest thing that my BBC team had done online with tales of the ghost walks that my wife and I did around London when we lived here permanently. Most of them were based on the book "Walking Haunted London" by Richard Jones, although we also made up our own route through Haunted...
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October 23, 2007

Clumsy inclusion of Facebook groups in advertising

There has been a headlong rush to get your applications and presence on Facebook this year, but I spotted on the London Underground the other night the first time I'd seen a Facebook group included in an advert alongside the more traditional URLs. It all looked a bit clumsy though. I've written before about Facebook's need for shorter 'nickname' URLs to make the content more linkable, but it seems that this need extends beyond personal profiles to groups. The advert...
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October 22, 2007

I think I've Schmapped myself

I noticed this in the cartoon strip of one of the London free-sheets at the tail-end of last week, and wondered whether Schmap had actually paid for some product placement, or whether the whole thing was instead a bit of a co-incidence. I however, have not been paying for the product placement of my Creative Commons licenced Flickr photographs within their Schmap guides, which now seem to have grown to cover most of the major cities in Europe I've visited....
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October 20, 2007

"How do I get a refund for an ITV phone call?"

"How do I get a refund for an ITV phone call?" - a question that around 10 million people might be asking themselves today. Or maybe they are thinking: "I wasted money on entering a competition via telephone or SMS, and I want to get my money back from ITV" Either way, they are probably not thinking, oh I know, I'm a consumer who needs a PRS reimbursement. However, that is exactly how ITV have phrased the call-to-action on their...
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October 19, 2007

No news today from Five

When I first put together the headline RSS feeds for my newspaper search engine Chipwrapper, they'd occasionally go blank, or fall over, or have some ugly characters in them. That is because I'm a hobbyist developer on the coding front, and so didn't have a very sophisticated approach to error trapping within the XML files, although through trial and error debugging they behave a bit better now. I'm not entirely clear what Five's excuse is though for having such...
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Biased BBC blog in the BBC's Ariel newspaper

In amidst the BBC axe-wielding and blood-letting this week, in some areas it has been business as usual, and in-house newspaper Pravda Ariel had a feature this week where Nick Reynolds was discussing the Biased BBC blog site. Nick often takes part in the conversation over on the Biased BBC site - and sometimes on here as well - and it is a topic that interests me greatly. I enjoy visiting the site and the debate on there, partly, as...
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October 18, 2007

A good day to bury bad broadcasting news?

For a second this morning I thought ITV had pulled off a "good day to bury bad news" trick of Jo Moore and Martin Sixsmith proportions. With Britian's media hacks camped outside the BBC's Television Centre all debating whether it would still be there next week, and, if it was, would there be anyone left to staff it, ITV appeared to quietly let slip the results of the inquiry into their phone call scandals. Actually, it turned out that it...
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A strange day due at the BBC

Today is going to be one of those strange days at the BBC, as the staff find out officially what the plan is for the next 6 years, and where the cost-cutting axe will fall. All at the same time as the public do, but slightly later than the rest of the media, who will have had all the details explained to them in carefully embargoed press releases already. Although, that is all a bit moot, since most newspapers have...
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October 17, 2007

Telegraph nails England Rugby World Cup Final colours to their mast(head)

By the time Saturday comes around, I suspect you won't be able to move in England for printed supplements about the England teams appearance in the Rugby World Cup Final in Paris. In the meantime, the war for the nation's patriotic attention is being played out online. Even with the distraction of this afternoon's crunch Euro2008 qualifier against Russia in a different type of football, most of the newspapers online have lots of Rugby World Cup features, and 'Rugby'...
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"East Meets West" at Tower Bridge

I was rather lucky on Monday to get to go to a promotional evening on the walkways of Tower Bridge, called "East meets West". I've been up there a few times, as my wife used to work there, and I've even DJed up in one of the towers. The bridge itself is unique in being both a heritage monument, a working bridge, and an astonishing feat of Victorian design and engineering. The event was being held to celebrate the success...
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October 16, 2007

There's only been one unforgettable dinner in Portugal this year

I spotted this advert for tourism in Portugal at Queensway station on my way to work yesterday. Is it just me? Or do you think that, given that the biggest media story in the UK this year has been about a dinner in Portugal that turned out to be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons, promoting the country with the strapline "To be continued...at an unforgettable dinner" is a little ill thought out?...
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October 15, 2007

Batten down the hatches! BBC phone scandals go back 20 years

Tomorrow is the twentieth anniversary of Britain's "Great Storm" on 1987, which is estimated to have felled 15 million trees, and killed 23 people. BBC's Breakfast programme this morning was reminiscing about it all, in the company of Michael Fish. He famously (well, in tabloid folklore anyway) declared that there wasn't going to be a storm with the immortal line: "Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way…...
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October 12, 2007

BBC homepage introduces embedded black'n'white television

Without any fanfare whatsoever, the BBC's homepage started carrying embedded video for the first time today. It might seem like a done deal for the rest of the net - apparently there is this interweb thing called JoostTube or something - but having sat in the homepage's technical driving seat for a couple of years, I should imagine that the teeth-sucking about bandwidth and accessibility and so on was considerable. And that's without anyone even considering whether it should...
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Unwelcome to Britain (again)

I've been zipping over Europe between London, Barcelona and Crete a lot over the last few weeks, and so I've spent quite a bit of time hanging around airports thinking about the whole user experience. I've never quite been able to put my finger on what it is exactly that makes the entry into Britain via London's airports so unwelcoming, but over the last few trips I've come to think that it is the combined effect of lots of the...
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October 11, 2007

Gatwick Yotel not quite so swell

Anyone who has been following my trips on Dopplr will know that I've been stomping my carbon encrusted feet all over Europe in the last couple of months, with six flights in just over as many weeks. I've been dragging my better half around with me, but last week she headed back to Crete slightly before I did. She had an early check-in at 5:15am at Gatwick. We decided, instead of travelling through the dead of night, that we'd go...
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October 10, 2007

The Daily Express Inheritance Tax 'Crusade' re-writes British politics. And massages the numbers in the process.

When I touched down in the UK in the early hours of this morning, I didn't realise that I had walked into a land in the grips of a political revolution. I mean, I know there is a new PM here, and there has been some to-and-fro over the merits of a November election, but I had missed the seismic change in British politics that happened with Alistair Darling's pre-Budget announcements earlier in the week. Fortunately, the humble Daily Express...
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'War Gifts' exhibits at the BBC's Television Centre

One of the interesting things about being back at the BBC for a couple of months contracting is seeing the exhibitions and information that is put on within BBC buildings for both visitors and staff. I got to see some technology demos which included some astonishing 3D television, and go to a session about the Doctor Who related multi-media content. Also at Television Centre at the moment, there is a cabinet full of fascinating 'war gifts' given to the Corporation...
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October 9, 2007

Let's hope The Westway doesn't collapse on a weekend

I was wandering around White City the other week between various bits of the outer-lying BBC empire, when I spotted this sign on one of the bridges that makes up the intersection between "The Westway" and the local rat-runs of W12. Let's hope it never develops a major structural problem that only becomes apparent out of office hours, eh?...
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October 8, 2007

Sister Ray's vinyl footprint

A couple of weeks back I did something that used to be one of my main leisure activites - and the source of my income - and went record and CD shopping. I note that in the UK people seem to have become obsessed with their carbon footprints. Monday's BBC Breakfast had Declan debating whether washing up by hand or via dish-washer was more carbon neutral, and I see even Walkers publish the carbon footprint of each pack of crisps...
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October 5, 2007

Doctor Who versus the Darleks on BBC Prime

I suspect that amongst the chattering classes it is considered "poor form" to blog negatively about your client of the moment, but, sometimes the target is so obvious, and so tuned to your special interest, that you can't resist. So here I am blogging about the BBC, a BBC website, and Doctor Who. BBC Prime are about to start broadcasting Doctor Who. I remember at the time the first (new) series transmitted in the UK, that one troll on the...
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October 4, 2007

The London freesheets and the web - Part 7: New media coverage

Over the last two weeks I've been looking at how the London free sheets - Metro, London Lite, and The London Paper - have incorporated user-generated content and interactive features like voting, video, music and gig reviews, sports comment and celebrity spotting into their print editions. This increased integration of web-based and interactive content - well, as interactive as the print medium can get on a daily basis - hasn't necessarily improved the way that new media and technology is...
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October 3, 2007

The London freesheets and the web - Part 6: Video

I've been looking at how the free newspapers given to commuters in London use interactivity and content from the web and their users in their print editions for things like voting, TXTing in and music reviews. The focus of today's post is on how they use video content. Even a couple of years ago the idea of newspapers incorporating video content belonged to the medium-future, when we have electronic paper and ubiquitous network connectivity. However, we now have initiatives like...
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October 2, 2007

The London freesheets and the web - Part 5: Messageboards and comments

Last week I started looking at a bunch of the free London newspapers I picked up as a commuter in July. I've been highlighting the areas like music reviews, voting and sport where they have been using the web and user-generated content to enhance their print editions. Most newspapers have a "Letters to the Editor" page, but the 3 London freesheets also enjoy publishing TXTs and emails to the editor as well. London Lite goes as far as to call...
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October 1, 2007

Pay what you want for Radiohead's new digital album "In Rainbows"

Well, that was unexpected - Radiohead appear to have rather arbitrarily decided they've finished their new album and are going to release it themselves as a digital download.Next week. I was alerted to it by Shane Richmond's blog post, which also pointed out the fact that there is no set price for the download. Instead, users get to fill in themselves how much they want to pay for the set. It is an interesting variation on the usual music...
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3D Television wows me at the BBC Vision Multiplatform day

As I mentioned on Friday, last week I went to a bit of the BBC TeleVision department's multi-platform day. As well as marking the announcement of a new strategy for commissioning multi-platform content, there were a few presentation sessions - one of which was about Doctor Who which I sneaked into. There was also a big demo area. The event wasn't just for BBC staff, it was open to independent producers and (I believe) journalists as well. The exhibition area...
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