• 6:52 am, 31st March 2006
  • web
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Apple fools?

Test drive Macintosh System 7
Play with the classic Mac operating system (including Breakout!) in this Flash app. Nicely done.

And will Steve Jobs be announcing anything exciting tomorrow, the 30th anniversary of Apple?

  • 9:01 am, 28th March 2006
  • misc
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Blogger ampersand bug?

I was looking at the feed to my site today and realised one of my posts was garbled. All the HTML had spilled out all over the nice atom XML as character references. I tried republishing the offending post but no matter what I tried it didn’t make any difference. In the end I thought it might be the ampersand in a URL forcing Blogger to format the post explicitly. I removed it and hey presto it worked.

This isn’t the most exciting way to spend an hour or two and I’m not completely sure whether I’m right but it looks like Blogger has a problem with ampersands… so I’m going to avoid them from now on. This process also made me realise how my site is read and by the looks of things the feed it much more important than I first thought. May be I shouldn’t have spent so much time messing around with css…

Radiohead

Having missed the opportunity to book tickets to see Radiohead at V Festival, I was happy for the span from Ticketmaster about Radiohead’s tour going on general sale this morning. I duly got up and started fighting for tickets at 9am. I wasn’t prepared for gigsandtours to ask for my credit card and address details before allocating my tickets. By the time I had filled in the form the Hammersmith Apollo was sold out. Ticketmaster wasn’t much better – I just kept getting ‘no tickets available…’. They still don’t say its sold out but I think they are just being vague.

In the end we decided to get tickets for their Edinburgh show in August (part of the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe). Thankfully it was available and we’ve wanted to visit Edinburgh so we can turn it into a short break. I have since found out Beck will be supporting so it should be a great show. If you managed to get tickets to see them, well done! If you’re going to the Edinburgh show, see you there.

Audio visualisation on the web

In a couple of weeks I will be returning to the development of the Annotatable Audio project at BBC Radio and Music. We spent a lot of time investigating how best to render audio for playback and editing. Today Tristan pointed me at Google’s share price graph widget, a Flash visualisation of recent stock activity. They have done much the same thing we have in using two views and I like how they update the HTML text view as you scroll around the graph – we could apply something similar for audio segments.

Odeo have also used Flash in building their audio player and editor. Here’s an interesting example about corporate blogging featuring the father of Annotatable Audio Tom Coates.

And there’s always the fridayforward radio :-)

  • 3:17 pm, 13th March 2006
  • music
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Having

…is a really great album by Trespassers William. Anna-Lynne Williams sang on The Chemical Brothers‘ track Hold Tight London on Push The Button. Her voice is beautiful and the music compliments her the perfectly.

  • 11:38 am, 12th March 2006
  • events, web
  • 1 Comment

ETech 06

I went to ETech for a number of reasons, one of which was to see Cal Henderson‘s tutorial on how they built Flickr. Another reason was to find out what developers wanted from data feeds and APIs and possible examples for best preactice. I succeeded in my first quest but largely failed in my second.

Cal’s tutorial was well structured and its content well thought-out. He does go deep into some of the mechanics of mySQL database federation and character encoding but the low-level stuff is all the more evidence to back up his high-level view for well-structured web applications. He has been and done it and I wouldn’t bet against what he said. I’d certain recommend going to see his Carson Workshops tutorial if you get the opportunity.

I had hoped ETech was more about the little people so-to-speak. The developers and designers. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of people like me, and a wide variety of disciplines were represented. However, a large number of the sessions were either too vague (allbeit inpirational in some cases) or too specific (a company trying to sell their platform rather than share their wisdom in development).

When the balance was right, the sessions were excellent. Ray Ozzie‘s opening talk on composite applications on the web was both high-level and fundamental and did not advertise. Ray demonstrated a cut-and-paste framework which worked cross-browser implemented in
much the same way as the windows clipboard. It was clever and practical, especially when he showed it applied to dynamic data feeds. The session immediately succeeding Ray also hit the mark for completely different reasons with Jeff Han demonstrating NYU’s multi-touch interface.

The overarching theme of this year’s ETech was the attention eceonomy (tm yet to be established). This was explored by some in very abstract terms, others (such as root.net) are trying to market a service on the back of it. Linda Stone’s inspiring speech on continuous partial attention took the subject at face value and cut through some of the accepted behaviour of the always-on generation. Our attention is becoming consumed by multiple activities as we attempt to constantly feed part of something bigger and physical interaction no longer takes precendence (for some at the conference this was very evident).

As the conference wore on some themes began to bubble up. In order to keep users’ attention, the barrier to entry and participation must be a low as possible. This was expressed by Clay Shirky and Bradley Horowitx from Yahoo! An API is assumed functionality and by this time next year, everyone will have one. Tom Coates put this into context in his discussion about becoming native to the web of data. Tom’s ideal of new services adding value to the aggregate web might not be shared by some of the people seeking a way to make money out of the web of data but I like the thought that it is all for the greater good.

The final afternoon prvided some additional highlights. Scott Berkun‘s advice for good deign in web 2.0 was based on some sound thinking but was largely shouted down by the audience. They sure do love their tag clouds! Jason Schultz and Danny O’Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation finished with both a depressing and uplifting account of where the next lawsuits are going to come from. It is very disturbing that developers are put off adding fun and innovative features to their services because of threat of litigation. The example of Second Life not introducing musical instruments into their virtual world through potential (and inevitable?) action from the RIAA is sad. It is good to know that the EFF are trying to tackle this sort of problem through fighting landmark cases and hopefully setting precendence. Sadly they do not have the funds to support litigation against small web sites.

At the end of the ETech the main thing I have learned is the same thing I learned when I first arrived: I need a 15-inch PowerBook.

  • 12:48 pm, 11th March 2006
  • design
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New layout

I’ve playing around with the styling of my site and this is the interim result. I’m not happy with it. I wanted to incorporate ‘blobs’ for each posting – something I found on another site. It separates the posts nicely but somehow looks quite cheap and nasty, I’ll have to do something about that. May be its down to the colour, I don’t know.

As for the logo, that needs sorting but will have to wait until I get home.

I have a problem when it comes to css, especially on my own page. I can’t stop tinkering with it. I keep having ‘brilliant’ ideas about what I could do and then spend hours playing around until it looks worse than it did to start with. Must stop, must stop…

  • 10:34 pm, 8th March 2006
  • misc
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Fourth Street San Diego

Fourth Street, San Diego

San Diego early evening feels more like a holiday destination than a place for business. Walking up Fourth Street en route to my hotel, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter has a great buzz about it. Restaurants beacon you in and the street is lively but not tacky.

  • 7:52 pm, 5th March 2006
  • events, misc
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San Diego

In some ways flying half-way around the world seems to take a really short amount of time. In some ways it seems like forever. The jet-lag hasn’t been too bad at.

Arriving in Los Angeles and walking between terminals made me appreciate how fast we can get to (almost) anywhere. The short flight down to San Diego gave me a great view of LA and the west coast. San Diego itself seems really nice. Downtown is a strange mix of commercial skyscraper, apartments and hotels and if you look in the right direction you might be forgiven for thinking you were in dubai.

After a day of looking round I’m sat in my hotel room watching the Oscars. Work starts again tomorrow with the first day of ETech.

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