December 2007 Archives

December 31, 2007

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A visual iconography for DRM

In a recent BBC News article Paul Garland, head of intellectual property litigation at law firm Kemp Little, said about DRM: "The biggest problem is that it is actually quite difficult as a consumer when downloading content to know what you are able to do with it. If DRM is going to survive, there needs to be much greater effort to tell purchasers what they can or can't do with it." It is a problem I have struggled with myself,...
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December 30, 2007

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Reflecting on reflections of a Newsosaur

A few weeks back I was directed to Alan D. Mutter's site - 'Reflections of a Newsosaur' - because he had published a new white paper about how local newspapers could use new technologies to make up the ground they'd lost to Google on the web. Rather obtusely, in order to read the paper, you had to email and have it sent to you, rather than being able to download it directly from the web. I left a slightly facetious...
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December 29, 2007

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Doctor Who against ID cards?

Thanks to the successfully revived show I'm very easy to buy for at Christmas these days - and a good proportion of my presents came branded with the Doctor Who logo in several variations. I also got this card from Paperlink, drawn by Steve Best. At first glance it is just a joke about relative dimensional properties of the TARDIS. A closer inspection, however, seems to reveal a subliminal message from the Doctor about Britain's plans for an ID card...
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December 28, 2007

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My bookmarks of the year 2007 - part 2

Yesterday I started having a delve through some of the things I had bookmarked on during the course of 2007, partly as an exercise to decide whether to start integrating these into the currybetdotnet blog and RSS feeds. In my recent 8 random facts about me post I revealed that I used to have a terrapin. My better half also volunteers here in Crete to help the ARCHELON society for protecting turtles. Which is why I was delighted to...
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December 27, 2007

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My bookmarks of the year 2007

For some time now I have been toying with the idea of integrating my feed into either the main blog or the main RSS feed. A couple of the blogs I read (Martin Stabe and Robin Hamman for example) do it really effectively. I'm not convinced at the moment that I've got the required self-discipline to do it well. There may be an element of chicken-and-egg scenario here though, as unless I know I am publishing it, I probably...
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December 26, 2007

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My favourite blogs of 2007

It is Christmas holiday week, so clearly a time for self-indulgent lists rather than proper blogging. Although, of course, it isn't like I haven't been producing self-indulgent RSS subscription lists all year - ho hum. I don't have a 'blogroll' on currybetdotnet. If I was doing a site feature comparison charts of the blogs I read, I'd have to give myself a red cross for that - but if I did have a blogroll, these are some of the sites...
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December 25, 2007

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The 20 most popular currybetdotnet posts from yesteryear in 2007

One of the interesting things for me of producing a list from Google Analytics of the most viewed pages on currybetdotnet for the whole year, was the proportion of pages that appeared near the top of the chart that were posted prior to 2007. Yesterday I listed the top 20 posts from 2007 - today I wanted to list the 20 most visited posts on currybetdotnet in 2007 that were written before the year started. "I Used To *Really* Love...
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December 24, 2007

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20 most popular currybetdotnet posts 2007

Well, it is Christmas week, and so, with nothing happening in the world, it is time to be introspective and make end-of-the-year charts. Actually it isn't strictly true that nothing happens at Christmas- republishing the currybetdotnet archives I was reminded that Yahoo! announced the purchase of Inktomi on Christmas Eve 2002, and that in 2004 I was fully stretched at work trying to get the BBC homepage to respond to the tsunami in Asia, and fend off cheaters from the...
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December 23, 2007

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This year's digital Christmas number one

Today we'll find out what is the UK's Christmas Number 1 for 2007, following in such luminary footsteps as Bob The Builder's "Can We Fix It?", Mr Blobby's "Mr Blobby" and the unforgettable St Winifred's School Choir with "There's No-one Quite Like Grandma". It is the first year that sales of tracks that are only available as digital downloads will count towards the chart, as the last major chart rule-change occurred in January 2007. The biggest Christmas music story has...
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'Militant' atheists are not killing people

One of the bug-bears of Biased BBC and their ilk is the BBC's refusal to use the word 'terrorist' in conjunction with groups like Hamas. The BBC prefers the term 'militant' amongst other things. On the whole I subscribe to the view that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, the use of the term 'terrorist' is judgmental, and that militant does a job of conveying that generally the perpetrators of 'terrorist' acts represent a small hard-core subset of...
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December 22, 2007

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Ten years of BBC Online

This week the BBC's Internet Blog published the last of ten articles they commissioned from me about 10 years of the BBC's website. I was to delighted to see they emerged relatively unscathed from being sub-edited - in fact in a couple of cases either Alan or Nick supplied names or details where I'd written 'somebody', and added better pictures. The ten articles were: A brief history of time (travel) Developing search at the BBC: Part 1 - Part 2...
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December 21, 2007

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I'm gonna spend my Christmas with a Dalek

Well, not literally, we'll actually be trying to balance Western European traditions and Greek Orthodox Christmas in Crete, as opposed to last year when we were in Munich, and the year before when we were in Qatar. However, anyone who has been checking out my profile will realise that I am now only half the Grinch I used to be, and near the top of my Christmas pop charts is The Go Go's "I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With...
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Biblical Christian names still out-number Mohammed for Britain's boys

The tabloids have been spluttering their outrage at the news that Mohammed is now the second most popular boys name in the UK. Well, provided you massage the figures of course, I mean, why let facts get in the way of your editorial line that 'the fuzzy-wuzzies are taking over our country'. To get that result, you have to add up all the variations on Muhammed, whilst steadfastly refusing to aggregate any other names - I noticed both Jake and...
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Blogging at the BBC: Part 9 - The formal blogging years

Having guest blogged for the BBC about the tenth anniversary of the BBC Online website, I've been fueled with nostalgia, and writing a series of articles about what I remember of the history of blogging at the BBC, and what it was like to blog about my work whilst I was there. One of the prime movers in getting the BBC to adopt a formal blogging platform was Pete Clifton, then editor at BBC News Online, now Head of...
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December 20, 2007

The BBC's new international homepage beta

Aside from rejoicing over the demise of the pulsing-blue-squares logo, I've kept pretty quiet on the development of the BBC's new homepage - despite being invoked by ghenghis over on plasticbag a month or so ago. "Obviously since it's the homepage, really we need to wait for Martin to tell us what to think." Most of the angles seem to be covered in this comments thread on the BBC blog - love/hate the clock, too chunky, love/hate the colour...
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Blogging at the BBC: Part 8 - Guidelines

This week I've been looking at what it was like to blog from within the BBC's great firewall of Shepherd's Bush. I started blogging in December 2002, and frequently wrote about my work at the BBC when I was a full-time employee there. I wasn't alone in this, and so after some time, the BBC began to formulate some guidelines about staff blogging. The guidelines were formed in a very collaborative process guided by Nick Reynolds, then at Editorial...
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December 19, 2007

Blogging at the BBC: Part 7 - The downside of blogging from the inside

Yesterday I was almost relentlessly cheerful in my description of how blogging about my work when I was at the BBC was 'a good thing'. The truth though is that there was a downside as well as an upside. Anyone thinking about starting a blog about their work that isn't anonymous should bear in mind that being well known for your site internally can also have drawbacks. There would be times when I would be half-way through a very...
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December 18, 2007

Blogging at the BBC: Part 6 - The upside of blogging from the inside

I've been looking at the way the BBC has gradually integrated blogging as a medium into their website, and reflecting on several years spent working at the BBC whilst personally frequently blogging about that work. Today I wanted to focus on what, for me, have been the positive effects of blogging. I began really attracting visitors to the site with my 2003 article "A day in the life of BBCi Search". One of the most beneficial effects for that...
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December 17, 2007

I'm not convinced online voting shows Rhydian was robbed on X-Factor

"In years to come when someone asks the question Where were you at 10:35 on 15th December 2007? most people will instantly know." Well, I'm not entirely sure about that, but there has certainly been a furore over the result of the X-Factor voting at the weekend. I always loved these spats - I remember well disgruntled Fame Academy and Strictly Come Dancing fans having it out with each other on the BBC's Points Of View message board with the...
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Blogging at the BBC: Part 5 - Blogging from the inside

Last week I started writing about the way the BBC began to incorporate blogging as a medium within their web offering in the early 2000s. By the very end of 2002, I was joining in, with my very first currybetdotnet post, about disappointing results when you searched Google for Turkey just prior to Christmas. For the next three years, whilst working full-time at the BBC's New Media department in London, I often blogged about my work. I wrote about...
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December 16, 2007

The "feelthy" French get hold of The Sun's front page

The editorial tone of The Sun has very often represented the epitome of British contempt for our French neighbours. Perhaps the most famous example is 1990's "Up Yours, Delors!" front page. The Sun today calls on its patriotic family of readers to tell the feelthy French to FROG OFF! They INSULT us, BURN our lambs, FLOOD our country with dodgy food and PLOT to abolish the dear old pound. Now it's your turn to kick THEM in the Gauls...
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More RSS errors - The Sun and The Express

In theory Chipwrapper should be so easy to product manage. I spent a little while registering the domain name, making some HTML pages and finding a logo image. I set up a Google Custom Search Engine. I mashed up some Yahoo! Pipes and pumped them through some of my own Perl and then Feedburner, and it should all just run just tickety-boo. Unless, of course, newspaper publishers kept doing really dumb things with their RSS feeds. The Sun's feeds remain...
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December 14, 2007

Blogging at the BBC: Part 4 - Life, the Universe, and Everything

So far in this series about blogging at the BBC I have looked at the pioneering work of the BBC Scotland department in using a blog to supplement their WebGuide directory. Scotland was also the source of the 'Island Blogging' initiative, which saw remote communities on the fringes of Scotland given internet connections by the Scottish Assembly, and then blogging tools and an audience by the BBC. This wasn't though, the BBC's first venture into user-generated blogging. They got...
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December 13, 2007

Blogging at the BBC: Part 3 - ...and Islands

Yesterday, as part of a series of posts about what I remember of the history of blogging at the BBC, I was looking at the Scotblog. Another major blogging initiative to come out of the BBC Scotland offices was 'Island Blogging'. I can remember there being some debate in the offices in London about whether any of the technical platforms that were currently being used by the central new media team were suitable to support this initiative. It was...
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December 12, 2007

Blogging at the BBC: Part 2 - Highlands...

Yesterday I started a series of posts looking at my experiences of blogging at the BBC, explaining how I first found blogs like Blackbeltjones, The Obvious and Plastic Bag. I also said that it seemed to be BBC Scotland who were the first area of the BBC to really grasp the blogging nettle. Without being 100% sure that there isn't some prior art lurking on the servers somewhere, Scotblog was the first thing on the BBC that looked...
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December 11, 2007

Blogging at the BBC: Part 1 - My introduction to blogging

6 or so weeks ago the BBC finally launched a website equivalent of the news editors blog, called the BBC Internet blog.[1] It was long overdue, and an idea that had been kicked around internally at the BBC for some time. I'm fairly certain that lurking around the folder on my laptop called 'Old BBC documents' I've got at least one, if not two, product pitches for just such a thing, or at least something pretty similar at any...
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8 random facts about me

I've been tagged by Dan Taylor on Fabric of Folly in an '8 random facts about me' blog chain letter type thing. I thought of just linking through to "5 things you probably don't know about me" and adding 3 more, in a Blue Peter here's-one-I-made-earlier style, but that didn't seem to fit the spirit of the thing. 8 random facts about me: I owned a terrapin for much of the 80s and all of the 90s, until it went...
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December 10, 2007

Voting for your American Idol in Greece

One of the causes of the recent ITV premium phone line vote scandals was the re-showing of programmes on their +1 chaanel without giving the viewer information that the competition had closed. There doesn't seem to be any similar pressure over here in Greece. At the moment, on Sunday nights the ΣΚΑΙ channel is showing "American Idol". After each contestant sings, Greek television shows the presenter giving viewers the instructions on how to vote. Not only doesn't Greek TV indicate...
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Finding, sharing, and playing with that Tony Palmer BBC rejection letter

There has been some righteous indignation in the arts press this week about the philistines at the BBC declining to commission the Tony Palmer film about composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. In The Observer, Mary Riddell was moved to opine that "Our national love of tackiness is killing culture". Much of the ire has centred around the ludicrous rejection letter that Palmer received from the BBC. As quoted in The Observer, it read: Having looked at our own activity via the...
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December 9, 2007

Life is sweet with UK Nova

When we were living in Salzburg, pretty much all TV was dubbed into German, and so UK Nova became something of a cultural lifeline for us. With no internet connection where we stayed, we relied on downloading podcasts and radio and TV at the weekends in various internet cafes around the city. [And, I should add, most certainly not whilst in the offices of Sony, advises my legal team]. However, UK Nova has restricted membership, and your account is terminated...
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December 7, 2007

Currybetdotnet archives re-open for business (#3)

Over the last couple of days I have finished a project that has taken me a fair bit of time over the last few weeks, to re-publish all of the archives on currybetdotnet. Why should you care? Well, unless you had a pent up desire to comment on something I wrote back in 2004, to be honest, you probably won't Why do I care? Hmm, I know posts on a blog about the blog itself are dull - but indulge...
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Farewell to the logo. Thankfully.

Details of the new design of the BBC homepage have gradually been 'leaking' onto the web. It was hinted at by Richard Titus a few weeks back, and then he posted about clocks on the BBC Internet Blog. Meanwhile Adactico put a sneak picture from BarCamp in London up on Flickr. This week, upyourego published a much clearer screenshot, and Keithnet added a picture of it once he'd done a bit of customisation. Couple all that with the fact that...
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December 6, 2007

Return of 'A lemon tree of our own'

Long-term readers will know that when I left the UK, my wife and I published a travelogue on Yahoo!'s extraordinarily awkward 360° service. Once we arrived in Crete we switched to the far more user friendly Typepad, and started 'A lemon tree of our own', which chronicled our attempts to settle into life in Greece. Later that transmographied into 'Some Edelweiss of our own' when we moved to Salzburg for 6 months. This year, once the sunset went down on...
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Sky News give up on the hunt for Madeleine McCann

Well, after over 8 months, it seems that Sky News have given up on the hunt Madeleine McCann. Since May 2007, the single word Madeleine has been the third item on their main navigation - above Politics, World News, above Business and the Weather. That has all changed with today's redesigned homepage. Editor Steve Bennedik has even been moved to blog about it: There's one other change you may already have noticed. We've removed the heading "Madeleine" from the navigation...
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British newspaper robots.txt files

When The Times announced that they would be supporting the ACAP protocol, they did so by re-formatting their robots.txt file to include the new style directives to search engine spiders. It made me curious as to what might be in the robots.txt files of the other major newspapers in the UK, and so I thought I'd have a peek. The Times appears to be the only major newspaper site where a concerted effort has been made to keep out particular...
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December 5, 2007

It is so hard to be a Depeche Mode completist these days

It used to be so easy to be a Depeche Mode completist. In 1981, their first single, 'Dreaming Of Me', was only available as a 7". After that everything came as 7" and 12", with the occasional limited edition 12" remix or special format. The full excess of UK chart multi-formatting peaked in 1990 with 'Enjoy The Silence', which came on 3 different 12" singles, 3 corresponding CD singles, a 7" and a cassette. Record companies eventually realised that they...
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The Sun's broken RSS still affecting Chipwrapper one month on

Well, it has been a month now since Dave Cross pointed out on his blog that The Sun's re-design utterly broke their RSS feeds, and still we await them being fixed. As a consequence it also broke several aspects of Chipwrapper. Until today I'd resisted the temptation to poke around and try and fix things, on the grounds that surely The Sun themselves would put things right. That doesn't seem to be the case. The first problem was that The...
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December 4, 2007

I make Doctor Who news at last

Technically, it wasn't even an ambition I was consciously aware of having, but after the weekend it appears that I can now die happy. I was just casually perusing my Doctor Who news RSS feeds, when, sandwiched between news that David Tennant had won a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland award, and that Andrew Cartmel was going to a convention in the USA, was my name. Thanks to my article on the BBC's Internet Blog about 10 years of Doctor Who...
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The lowest ranked UEFA teams should have to pre-qualify for World Cup and Euro Finals

I'd hate to come across as a bitter England fan who has been brooding about their failure to qualify for Euro2008, but I am, and I have. My brooding wasn't helped when I realised that if my ticket application for Euro2008 had been successful, in the summer I would be going back to Salzburg to watch my adopted homeland of Greece twice. I've also been brooding about the way the European section draw works out for the next tournament. Sports...
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December 3, 2007

Movable Type comment spam solutions

I wanted to apologise if you've recently had trouble leaving a comment on currybetdotnet, or indeed, even had trouble accessing the site. I've been suffering badly with Movable Type comment spam, and was finding that I had to restart either MySQL or Apache2 a couple of times a day. Obviously that situation was less than ideal, and even more so if you consider that in Greece I can be a bus ride away from an SSH session. Dave tipped me...
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December 2, 2007

ACAP - flawed and broken from the start?

Last week a consortium of online publishers announced ACAP - Automated Content Access Protocol - a new 'standard' for instructing search engines how to index content. For me there were three immediate major flaws apparent. It isn't user centred The entire thrust of ACAP seems to be to control the way in which newspaper or publisher content is indexed and displayed by search engines, in an attempt to strictly define the commercial parameters of that relationship. On the ACAP site...
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