February 2008 Archives

February 29, 2008

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What happens when computers get the Leap Year wrong

It is only once every 4 years I get to blog on February 29th, and fortunately, thanks to the modern miracles of Bytemark, Debian and Movable Type, the machine that publishes currybetdotnet knows that 2008 has an extra day. Getting a computer to realise that a year is a leap year is the kind of test often set to people studying programming, as it makes you think hard about catching all the exceptions. Professionals don't always get it right, of...
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February 28, 2008

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Making the most of blog comments: Part 6 - Making a unified blog post and comment feed with Yahoo! Pipes

I've been writing a series of posts looking at various aspects of implementing comments on blogs. This week I've been concentrating on the way that blog comments can be output as RSS. Yesterday I explained how to add a recent comments RSS feed to Movable Type. Today I want to look at how you can publish one feed from your blog, which features both the entries written by the author, and the comments left by users. What I want...
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February 27, 2008

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Making the most of blog comments: Part 5 - 'Recent comment' RSS feed template for Movable Type

I've been writing a series of posts looking at the best ways to implement comments on blogs. Although one of the often championed features of the blogosphere is the 'conversation', not all blogging platforms make it easy for users to track their part of the conversation. One way to facilitate that is to provide streams of the comments added to a site in the RSS format. Although there doesn't seem to be a huge take-up for this kind of...
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February 26, 2008

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Making the most of blog comments: Part 4 - Do people read comments via RSS?

I'm doing a series of posts about the way that people implement comments on blog sites. I started by looking at the methods that can be used to promote comments prominently to users, and then undertook a survey of 100 blogs to get a feel for which ways were popular. I found, thanks in part to the growth of Wordpress as a platform, that distributing RSS feeds of comments was being increasingly used, either on a 'per blog' or...
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February 25, 2008

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'Achtung! Surrender' from The Mirror - Get your Euro 96 newspaper xenophobia here

The other week when I was looking at the websites of the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finalists, I mentioned in passing that were England to ever reach such a stage of a tournament again, you could guarantee the press and the official FA website would be in a patriotic frenzy. It called to my mind the coverage of the Euro96 semi-final between England and Germany at Wembley. In Mark Christopher Watkin's excellent 2002 analysis of the relationship between hooliganism and...
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February 24, 2008

The Buffy guide to the Internet - 1997 style

Back in 1997, in an episode called "I, Robot...You, Jane", Joss Whedon pitched Buffy The Vampire Slayer against a demon that had invaded the Internet. This article looks at all of the computer and technology in the episode. Was Sunnydale High was a Mac or Windows school? What does demon possessed computer software look like? And how can techno-pagans build 'circles of protection' using chat room software alone... Ms. Calendar: Oh, I know, our ways are strange to you,...
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February 23, 2008

Chipwrapper goes to church

As well as an array of 'vanity searches' and 'vanity alerts' from Google trying to track down every reference to this site on the web as it happens, I also look out for references to Chipwrapper, the custom search service for British newspapers that I put together. It has turned up some very kind comments about the service, as well as some very thorough reviews that have rightly found it to be lacking in some key areas. One thing I...
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February 22, 2008

Making the most of blog comments: Part 3 - The 100 blog survey II

This week I've been looking at some of the ways that blog owners can promote the comments on their blog to make them more prominent. Having listed a series of different ways of promoting comments, I undertook a survey of 100 blogs, to see which methods are the most popular. I used blogs that are top of the subscriber list in Bloglines, blogs from my own reading list, and 50 blogs at random via searches on IceRocket and what...
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February 21, 2008

Making the most of blog comments: Part 2 - The 100 blog survey

We often hear that having a blog is being part of a conversation, but it sometimes seems difficult to direct your readers to the latest comments that have been left. Yesterday I listed ways that you can promote and showcase the comments that have been left on your blog. I wanted to get an idea of how popular these methods were, so I did a survey of 100 blogs. 100 isn't a big enough sample to be truly representative...
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February 20, 2008

Sky News message board users get 'zapped'

It seems that Sky News have been having a torrid time on their message boards this week, to the extent that Simon Bucks yesterday posted an apology and explanation on their Editors Blog. A technical glitch and some unsporting behaviour have practically decimated the boards, which are dominated with discussions of the mysterious 'zapping' phenomena. "OK, first the apology. We have had a technical problem with the discussion boards which allows perverse individuals to block other people's identities. It's an...
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Making the most of blog comments: Part 1 - Promoting blog comments

One of the great strengths often cited about the blogosphere is the fact that it is a 'conversation', and the ability to leave comments on individual posts has long been an integral part of that. However, it isn't always clear how to get the most out of the comments left on a site. With blogging, a lot of the emphasis is on the continual update, the perpetual breathless rush to publish something new. That doesn't leave much space for...
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February 19, 2008

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My Flickr photos from Torcello, Salzburg and Frangokastello on the web

Every now and again I like to write a little run-down of sites that have been using my Creative Commons Licensed photographs from Flickr. With all the moving around Europe I've done since I left the UK in 2005, it isn't much of a surprise to see that the three photographs I've recently been asked about are from three different countries. The About Archaeology site has used one of my shots of the exterior of the Santa Maria Assunta in...
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February 18, 2008

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Reviewing The Independent's re-design for the Press Gazette

I had another piece appear in the Press Gazette a week or so a go, in their 'Expert Eye' column, looking at the recent web re-design by The Independent. I'm broadly approving of the new design, and certainly see it as a major step forward for a newspaper that earned a scathing review in my 'How Web 2.0 are British newspapers?' series last year. The site is more visually appealing, with a greater emphasis it seems on opinion and comment....
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February 17, 2008

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Is nobody blogging about the BBC's The Editors Blog anymore?

I've generally been a big fan of the BBC The Editors Blog since it was launched. Although not everybody agrees with the points of view put across by BBC News staff on the blog, I find it an interesting forum of discussion, and a useful attempt to try and grasp how the new interactivity of the internet impacts on the day-to-day decisions made by news editors. However, there is one bit of functionality on the blog which I've been noticing...
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February 16, 2008

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All your flame wars are belong to us - BBS systems are 30 years old

I love stories about the history of online computing, not least because of the seeming serendipity of it all. In 1978 a man gets trapped in a blizzard in Chicago, and thirty years later, I'm happily earning a living as a consultant helping people with the internet from a Greek island. Well, if you've ever wanted someone to blame for the incessant fanboy flame-wars on Digg, the necessity of Godwin's Law, and for the reason that the mainstream media keeps...
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February 15, 2008

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Search the blogs of the Miami IA Summit

I've put together another couple of tools for people attending, or interested, in the upcoming IA Summit in Miami in April. I've made a Google Custom Search Engine, which allows you to search over the blogs and personal sites of speakers and attendees. I've doubled the number of sources from the 37 bloggers speaking at the conference I previously identified. As well as searching over the conference's official site, the custom search engine will return results from another 36 personal...
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February 14, 2008

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Computer love in the 1960s - the origins of online dating

With it being Valentine’s Day today, I thought I’d take a look at the history of ‘computer dating’. It is actually one of those topics that illustrates the shortcomings of our current internet search tools. Whilst researching it I seemed to find an awful lot more about getting a mail order bride sent to me from Russia than I found out about the origins of computer assisted love. The whole computer dating dream was begun in 1965 by Jeff Tarr...
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February 13, 2008

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Saucy Sun snaps in their Facebook apps

Over the last couple of years I've had more cause to be critical of clumsy attempts by newspapers to incorporate advanced web features into their offering than I've had opportunity to praise them. However, I feel I have to grudgingly offer some respect to The Sun for the way they are using MySpace widgets and Facebook apps. They've launched a MY Sun Girl Next Door application on both platforms. "Is your Facebook or MySpace profile lacking some hotty action? Fancy...
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February 12, 2008

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Measuring the iPlayer impact on broadband usage

There was an interesting piece on the new-look online Guardian yesterday about how the better than expected take-up of the streaming version of the iPlayer was putting undue strain on Britain's broadband infrastructure - "What is the true market impact of the BBCi iPlayer?" Steve Hewlett points out some flaws with the original market impact assesment as part of the regulatory process for approving the iPlayer - the Public Value Test - because it did not rigorously enough examine the...
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Those Daily Express migrant arrest statistics in full

The Daily Express was leading yesterday with another story about the "extent of the damage unlimited immigration is causing to the fabric of society". Statistics are fun, of course. The Express claim that "A Migrant arrested every 4 minutes in UK" is based on an extrapolated figure of 360 foreigners being arrested a day, which makes up 7% of the total. If I remember my O-Level maths correctly, that suggests that the total number of arrests per day is 5,142,...
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February 11, 2008

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British television sci-fi is seventy today

It is a genre that has been a big influence and source of entertainment for me ever since I first saw Tom Baker's boggle-eyes staring out at me from the opening credits of Doctor Who when I was 4 or 5, and today is the seventieth anniversary of what is generally attributed to be the first piece of sci-fi television. On the 11th February, 1938, the BBC broadcast a thirty-five minute segment adapted from Czech playwright Karel Čapek's play "Rossum's...
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February 10, 2008

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Worst Amazon phishing attempt ever?

Over the last couple of months I've found Googlemail's spam filter generating an increasing number of false positives when handling the re-directed mail from @currybet.net, and so I've had to build into my daily routine going through the spam folder. The main disadvantage, as I pointed out on a Sciencebase post about letting go of your spam folders, is that I've developed a terrible complex about the inadequate size of my p3n|s, and think that the army of Russian girls...
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February 9, 2008

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"Filtering" user-generated content on the BBC News site

Late last week someone left a comment on one of my old pieces about the BBC's moderation policies, asking my opinion on some of the things mentioned in Peter Horrocks' recent speech about user-generated content and citizen journalism. Bryan has left comments on currybetdotnet before, and we've exchanged email. We don't agree on everything by a long chalk, but he's always been very pleasant about it, as I hope I have. I started writing a response, but once it got...
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February 8, 2008

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From Athens, Georgia, to Athens, Greece - Democratic primary goes global

It may have been Super Tuesday that caught the world's press attention this week, but today the U.S. Election preliminaries switch from Athens, Georgia to Athens, Greece. The Democratic Party are holding their first 'global' primary for ex-pats and U.S. citizens serving overseas, and voting in Greece starts today. Although U.S. citizens can vote in the primary of the state they were last registered as resident in, some states have an electoral process, like the Iowa caucus, which requires the...
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February 7, 2008

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African football association websites get ready for the Ghana 2008 semi-finals

Were England to get to the semi-final stage of their continental football championship, you can sure that the country and the press would be swept along in a tide of patriotic euphoria, and the FA's official website would be part of that. Well, that won't be happening at Euro2008, but with the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations reaching the semi-final stage in Ghana this evening, I thought I'd have a look at the websites of the Football Associations of the...
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February 6, 2008

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Flickr users protest about Yahoo! takeover. Again.

The interweb's tubes have been buzzing that Flickr users are already in open revolt over Microsoft's offer to take-over Yahoo!, Flickr's parent company. Image by sebestyenistvan "A splinter faction of Flickr photo-sharing community members is threatening a symbolic 'mass suicide'" - Wired "I'm not cross and I'm not bitter - I'm just a little sad because I have a belief that things can be good/great without taking the obvious route". - grange85 "My fear is that over time they won't...
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February 5, 2008

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10 tips for integrating your del.icio.us links into your blog

Over the last month I've been experimenting with publishing my del.icio.us bookmarks on the currybetdotnet site for the first time. Publishing daily lists of links in this way gives a blogger an opportunity to 'micro-blog' about items they've read but haven't wanted to or had the time to write a full-length post about, and to add another regular stream of content to their blog. It is really simple to get the basic set-up running - all you need is a...
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February 4, 2008

IA Summit bloggers mash-up feed

Last week I published a list of 37 bloggers who are participating in the 2008 IA Summit in Miami in April. As well as in individual list, there was an OPML file to allow you import all of the sites into your feed reader of choice in one go. I've now put together an alternative way to subscribe to them. I've mashed 35 of the feeds together using the awesome Yahoo! Pipes - partly thanks to Kevin Cheng who features...
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Sony finally ready to disconnect music store

Sony have just announced the final steps towards the closure of the Sony CONNECT Music Store that I worked on when I was with Sony NetServices in Austria. They are taking a two-step approach. The whole service will cease on March 31st 2008, but before that, on March 1st, the online component - http://www.connect-europe.com - will be closed. That always, in my view, should have been the unique advantage the Sony service had. Unlike the iTunes music store, which required...
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February 3, 2008

Following Ghana 2008 on the official Africa Cup of Nations websites

I've been struggling to follow this year's Africa Cup Of Nations tournament in Ghana. None of the local channels in Greece, even sport specialist SuperSport Hellas, are showing the games, and so I've been relying on the web to follow the fortunes of the Bokkies. Today sees the start of the Quarter-Final stages, without Bafana Bafana, but I thought I'd quickly review some of the official sources of web information coming out of the tournament. Official Ghana 2008 Site The...
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February 2, 2008

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Personal search engine optimsation for Information Architects

Searching the web for the people on the list of the 100 contributors to the upcoming 2008 IA Summit, I was struck that they fell into two very distinct camps - those that were managing their online presence, and those that weren't. The other day I published links to blogs from around a third of the people featuring on the conference programme, which means that around two-thirds of the participants did not have one regularly updating canonical URL for me...
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February 1, 2008

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Vote Super Furry Animals!

I noticed last week that my favourite Welsh band, Super Furry Animals, were adding an interactive element into their North American tour. They are visiting the US to promote their most recent album, 'Hey Venus!', and are allowing people to vote for the songs they most want to hear included in the set-list. It reminded me of a couple of earlier attempts at doing this kind of interactive set-list. In 1986 Elvis Costello went out on tour with the 'Spectacular...
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