Showing posts with label barely relevant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label barely relevant. Show all posts

Friday, November 23, 2012

Gifts for Geeks

I love Christmas shopping!   Not wishing to blow my own trumpet, I think I'm pretty good at finding unusual & creative gifts for people.  So, here are my picks for Christmas gifts for geeks.

For the science geek:

The Geek Manifesto, by Mark Henderson - a book about why science matters

For the cooking geek:

Ninja Bread Men cookie cutters

For the climate change geek:

Polar ice caps ice molds - set of two - Just don't tell them that you shipped them from Japan...

For the glamorous geek:

Jewellery made from the pattern of your online checkins - upload different checkin locations and make a pattern

For the streetfood geek:

One of these American Hot Dog prints

For the cycling geek:

The Rouleur Bradley Wiggins mug - #Wiggo #PedaltotheMedal

For the camera geek:

A set of 3 camera lens shot glasses - Canon or Nikon

For the LEGO geek:

Have yourself made as a LEGO Minifig - Done to order from photos

For the Instagram geek (1)

Make a bag from your pics - other products also available

For the Instagram geek (2)

Make some fridge magnets from your pics

For the Gaming geek

Some Penguin-style game covers

To be continued!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Privacy warning notices

This warning has appeared on the FT, displayed the first time you visit the site.  It warns of cookies on the site, and if you dismiss the notice you are accepting that they can track your usage of the site.  It's in response to the new EU cookie directive becoming UK law.  I haven't seen any other examples this morning - but I'll post them if I do.

Update - The Sun has a much more minimal notice - a thin band along the bottom, saying "By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can change this and find out more by following this link"

From looking at the screengrab below you can see how people could fail to notice it...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Advanced GCE Media Studies - Critical Perspectives in Media

I caught up with an old colleague last night.  He now works at OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations), one of the UK's main examining bodies.

He told me that some past Media Studies papers were online, so I thought I'd take a look.

From June 2010, here are two essay questions from the section Media in the Online Age.  The exam is for 18 year olds, and they'd be expected to spend an hour on one of these essays, if they chose to answer one.  (Candidates had to answer two short questions worth 25 points each, and one long question, worth 50 points, in two hours.  There were 12 essay questions in total.)

- "For media audiences, the internet has changed everything"  Discuss

- Explain the extent to which online media exist alongside older methods of distribution in 2010

How do you think you'd do?

The full paper is here.

Update - after I posted this, my friend sent me a couple of examples of coursework by students, published on blogs.

The Vixens - a music video project

LiveWire - a student's magazine

Both excellent!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mucking about

One thing that never ceases to delight me about digital media is people's ability and ingenuity in using it to much about.

Two examples:

Google image search (& Flickr).  Intended to serious things, but at some point someone decided to take a picture of his or her head in a fridge, and tag it with the number 241543903.  If you do an image search on this number you find a baffling amount of photos of other people with their heads in their fridges.

Quora.  Quora is the latest thing everyone seems to be talking about.  It is short for QUestion OR Answer, and it's an online forum where people post questions, and answer those left by other people.  At the moment it's ferociously dull, with endless questions about 'what's the business model for this?' and 'which startup is best for that?'.  But... now it looks like people are starting to much about with Quora too - as evidenced by this question.


Be playful everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The greatest ever unsolicited product endorsement?

I love this letter from today's FT - written by Jordan Sekulow, Attorney and Director of International Operations, American Center for Law & Justice, Washington, DC, US (you get a better class of letter writer at the FT)

"Sir, After reading Jonathan Margolis’s review of the new Olympus Stylus Tough camera in How to Spend It (Travel Unravelled, May 15), I immediately went online and ordered it for my recent trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In South Africa, the camera performed excellently in the rapidly changing conditions of World Cup venues from temperate Rustenburg to rainy Cape Town. The versatility of the camera is impressive.

After being tossed around in luggage and drenched during a World Cup match, the camera performed excellently in formal meetings with Zimbabwe’s government leaders in Harare. Whether I was taking photos at a game or tossing the camera to a colleague to snap a quick photo with prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the camera’s performance was superb.

You need not be a professional photographer to use the camera and the settings are easy to operate. Yet, after seeing the 14-megapixel images the camera produces, people may not believe an amateur took them with a point and shoot.

This camera is a must-have for business travellers who find themselves in photo-necessary situations inside and outside of boardrooms. I’ve already got my camera charged and ready for an upcoming trip to Bermuda."

If I were in the market for a new camera (which I'm not), I know which one I'd buy. The people at Olympus must feel very happy!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

How I accidentally deleted my twitter account

Update - Thanks to the Twitter team I'm @dancall again - phew!

Oh blimey.

I've been on twitter since 2007, I think. I signed up early on to see what the fuss was, tweeted a bit, then stopped for about a year.

Then I got back into it in about mid 2008 , as it seemed to be gathering momentum in the UK, and there were lots of interesting people that I wanted to follow and interact with.

At one point I decided to link it to my Facebook account, so that I wouldn't need to update both. As time went on and I started to tweet more work-related stuff, including posts from this blog, and my stats blog.

Eventually I decided to break the link between my twitter and my Facebook.

So, earlier this morning I went to the twitter app in Facebook, and selected the option at the bottom to 'deactivate my account'. There didn't seem to be any other way to unlink twitter from Facebook.

Anyway, it deleted my entire twitter account - 1,100 or so followers, and 1,300 or so people that I'm following. It's a bit of a nightmare.

So please, if you used to follow me, please re-follow me at my new account @dancall1 (I'm now @dancall again)

It's been a bit of a shocking experience, to be honest. I'm not even going to go into how much I'd potentially pay to reverse the deletion, but I do know that it's less painful than:

Losing my Gmail
Losing my blog archives
Losing my delicious account.

& also it's a lot less painful than losing anyone 'real' if you know what I mean.

But anyway - beware with the twitter Facebook app (don't bother) and please re-follow me on twitter - @dancall1 (I'm now @dancall again)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Curzon Midnight Movies

Curzon Midnight Movies is the latest initiative to create collective events for cult film fans in the UK.

It's kind of an attempt to recreate what happens in the US in places like the Alamo Drafthouse and the New Beverly (which Quentin Tarantino now owns).

Yes, we have the NFT on the South Bank, but it always feels a bit frusty and severe.

Curzon Midnight Movies take place once a month at the Curzon in Soho. This month (tonight) they've invited Edgar Wright to screen one of his favourites, Deathwish 3. Check out the specially commissioned retro poster above. It's the sort of film that would go down well at the Alamo! Join the fan page on Facebook for more information (1,800 members)

It's sponsored by Jameson, who also do their own film nights. The next one is a showing of Moon at the Royal Institution on 17th of March.

Both excellent initiatives. Just as the iPod was reckoned by some to have increased the audience for live music by making people want to experience the music collectively too, I'm sure lots of people who love to collect DVDs would like to see some of the classics on the big screen as well.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Another great bit of trivia I've learnt recently is that The Guardian own the url - it just re-directs to

(The Grauniad is the slang name given to The Guardian by Private Eye, due to the very high level of typos that used to appear in the paper.)

Smart thinking by The Guardian to own the domain - you wouldn't want a rival to own it!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Steve Jobs' Issey Miyake sweater

Apropos of nothing I love this story recounted by John Lassiter of Disney about his friend Steve Jobs, in yesterday's Financial Times:

“He found this one really great black turtleneck which he loved – I think it was Issey Miyaki [sic] – so tried to buy another one and they didn’t have any more. He called the company and asked if they would make another one, and they refused. So he said: ‘Fine, how many do you have to make before I can buy them?’ So they made them – I think he has a closet full of them.”

That's why he always wears the same thing...

(Howard Hughes did the same thing with Baskin Robbins when they stopped making his favourite flavour, Banana Nut)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The rise of 'Free' at the Edinburgh Fringe

I've just returned from a few days in Edinburgh, watching shows at the annual Fringe Festival, and generally enjoying the atmosphere and the vibe. It's easily my favourite UK festival.

One thing that I noticed this year was that the Fringe has effectively evolved into a 3 tier pricing model. It's a nice example of 'Free' as a naturally evolved business model.

First, you get the premium shows, generally featuring acts you'd see on TV, or theatre shows from established companies. An example of this is the unofficial Comedy Festival that is a collaboration nbetween the 4 main venues. Typically tickets were £10 for a 50 minute show.

Next, you get the Five Pound Fringe. These are less established acts, geerally performing in well-equipped venues. Again the shows last about 50 minutes, and for a fiver people are willing to check out new talent.

Finally, you get the Free Fringe, or in fact two different versions, the Peter Buckley Hill one and the Laughing Horse one. All shows are free to watch, and the acts don't need to pay for the venues. Venues make money from selling drinks to the audience, and the acts gain valuable exposure and pass around a bucket at the end for donations. Acts get a far bigger audience than they would otherwise - most of the shows were full - and get to make spending money.

Generally speaking all acts lose money in Edinburgh, but those on the Free Festival probably lose less, and have less admin (paying for venues, ticketing, splitting the box office, taxes etc) and thus enjoy it more. It's not a perfect analogy for the digital world, as it's only a short festival rather than a year-round thing, but it shows Free as a natural evolution.

I saw 5 free shows, and all were excellent. Check them out if you have a chance:

Iona Dudley Ward - character comedy
Peter Buckley Hill - Standup
Kunt and the Gang - very rude songs - has to be seen to be believed
The Peculiar River - Dark musical theatre from the Alchemy Troupe
Goldenanorak Unzipped - standup and sketches

See also - my review of Free by Chris Anderson.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Daily Mail poll Vs. twitter

Twitter users have had fun this Friday afternoon voting in this very inflamatory Daily Mail quiz:

The question posed is "Should the NHS allow gipsies to jump the queue?"

So far the result is 92% 'Yes' (which I'm guessing isn't what the Mail wanted from such a loaded and leading question. I'm also guessing that the Mail will remove this from their site pretty soon [update - they did]).

Some have argued that this is actually good for the Mail because it sends lots of traffic to their site, but as far as I can see it's just providing a cast iron example of the Mail putting a bigoted slant on the news. The glee with which people have responded by passing the link on shows that it vindicates many people's prejudices about the Mail.

Well done to all of the twitter users like Graham Linehan (22,000 followers) who've been passing the poll link around.

See also - Cheers to Social Media

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The myth of HBO

The UK is currently seeing a bit of a crisis in TV, with major broadcasters seeing falling revenues, cutting budgets, and cancelling shows.

In the midst of this media commentators keep talking about how brilliant the American cable channel HBO (Home Box Office) is, and how that is the way forward for the UK. On Friday night's Late Review this went unchallenged, and a few weeks earlier Greg Dyke (who should know better) made a film for The Culture Show comparing the budgets for the BBC and HBO, and thought that HBO did far better than the BBC with less money.

But it's all a myth. Every time I've been to the UK I've looked forward to watching a bit of HBO. Perhaps they'll be showing an episode of The Sopranos, followed by an episode of The Wire, followed by an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. No such luck. Last time I was there (July 2008) the evening schedule was dominated by Bean's Holiday, the poor sequel to the poor The Bean Movie.

Remember HBO is Home Box Office. It's primarily a movie channel, which produces some of it's own content.

Perhaps I got a bad night. What's on today? According to the online schedule, tonight we have Ocean's Thirteen, followed by a drama Big Love, followed by Flight of the Conchords. Tomorrow we have Real Time with Bill Mather, Eastbound and Down 05, and more Flight of the Conchords. On Tuesday we have Nim's Island, and then Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Wednesday seems to be devoted Big Love (3 episodes in a night), Thursday has Juno and a Will Ferrell show, Friday has Jumper, a plug for Monsters Vs. Aliens, and more Bill Mather, and on Saturday we get 2 movies - What Happens in Vegas, and Knocked Up.

Overall it's about 60% movies, 20% drama, and about 20% other stuff, including Flight of the Conchords. Ages ago I wondered why HBO didn't allow people from the UK to subscribe to their service - this would be very easy to do - but they won't because they only own the US rights to the films.

Now let's move onto the programmes. Yes, some are excellent. Yes, you've got The Wire, The Sopranos, Sex & The City, and Deadwood, but you've also got Real Sex, G String Divas (pictured), Cathouse - the Series, and Boxing After Dark. They've produced some brilliant shows, but also some terrible shows.

HBO succeeds because they are in America, and have a potential subscriber base of 300m. Just as the US is a big enough market to sustain putting TV show characters into successful films (Waynes World for example), a model that cannot work in other countries, they can also offer a premium content channel and get enough money to make some excellent, challenging drama and comedy. That does not mean that we can do this in the UK.

So please - let's not think of HBO as something that British TV should or could aspire to. If you're a viewer, subscribe to something like LoveFilm instead - it'll be better value. Personally I value BBC Four far more than I would HBO.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Walkers Do Us a Flavour - crisp tasting

I've really enjoyed watching the progress of Walkers' Do Us a Flavour initiative.

A quick re-cap: Walkers asked their customers to devise a new flavour of crisps to join their range. They had thousands of entries, via their campaign site, and now six flavours have gone into production. During this phase customers can buy them and vote on their favourite; the winner will go into permanent production, and the person who suggested the flavour gets a cash prize, and a royalty on future sales. This is a birlliant example of a company using crowdsourcing and customer interaction on a large scale. Digital is at the heart of it - there is a website, some Facebook pages, and text voting.
Today I organised a tasting for the office. Six flavours on six plates (Builder's Breakfast, Cajun Squirrel, Chilli & Chocolate, Crispy Duck & Hoisin, Fish & Chips, and Onion Bhaji).

We all tasted and voted. Each flavour was someone's favourite, but Onion Bhaji came out top overall. Builder's Breakfast was my favourite, but came second overall.
So well done Walkers for this, and let's see whether our vote reflects the public's taste. The voting ends on 1st May 2009.

Update - some people are even keener - these guys are uploading videos of themselves tasting each flavour, and putting them on YouTube (Warning - some bad language)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fraser Digby's Washbag

This is an internet meme in the making.

Danny Baker presents the BBC 5Live Tuesday night football phone-in show 606. Unlike most football-phone ins this isn't full of fans ringing up to say how rubbish / great their team are; Danny Baker sets more arcane and amusing subjects like 'how did you miss seeing a goal' or 'instances of people wearing replica kits while abroad (& not watching football)'.

One week he was doing an item about 'what do you have that used to belong to a footballer', and one fan rang in with a tale about doing a backstage tour of Swindon. During the tour of the players' changing room he saw the washbag belonging to Fraser Digby, their goalkeeper, and managed to steal a tortoiseshell comb from it.

Danny Baker seized in this, declaring that 'Fraser Digby's washbag' was a very poetic phrase, and asked listeners to re-write popular songs around it.

In the weeks that have followed we've had versions of My Old Man's a Dustman, Eleanor Rigby, Changes, Sunny Afternoon (probably the most inventive - see it above) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Other songs in the pipeline include (apparently) All Along The Watchtower, The Ace of Spades and I Predict A Riot.

This clip shows the moment Fraser Digby came onto the show to help to sing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It shows radio at it's best, and how a great presenter can create something magical out of nothing. Well done for 5Live for putting it online, although apparently it's blocked for people outside the UK. You can also hear them by downloading the podcasts - search iTunes for '606'.

Wikipedia entry on Fraser Digby, now incorporating his bizarre new cult status here

Monday, November 24, 2008

Special Edition 'Hacienda' Kickers

This is a bit of an off-topic post, but I wanted to write about this to preserve it for posterity. Somehow the people in charge of protecting the heritage of the Hacienda in Manchester have given Kickers permission to make a licenced boot.

I don't associate Kickers with The Hacienda. I associate kickers with a kid in my class called Bozkurt, who, as soon as he had a part time job saved up to buy 2 pairs of kickers, one red and one silver. Each day he'd wear one pair to school, and sit the other pair on his desk. For about two years.

So do a 'Bozkurt' special edition, but not a Hacienda special edition. I can't see many pairs of Kickers being worn in the Hacienda, in any era.

For the record the blurb says:

"Be a part of this unique collaboration between Kickers and legendary Hacienda nightclub. Paying homage to iconography from the interior of the Manchester hot spot, these boots feature black and yellow chevrons on the in-sole, two-tone laces and FAC 51 emblem on the heel. The 88/08 print references 20 years of acid house, of which both the Hacienda and Kickers are an integral part. Made of leather and available in brown."

There's also a Buzzcocks special edition.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Puppies! On a Webcam!

Or click here

What makes this (vaguely) relevant to this blog is that it's a great way of promoting the other channels on UStream.TV

Update: Except that it's not live 24/7 - currently just showing a slideshow. Boo.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

One Star Reviews on Amazon

You've been able to see reviews by star rating on amazon for ages now, and lots of pleasure is to be had by look at either one star reviews of stuff that is generally accepted to be great, or five star reviews of stuff that is pretty lousy.

For example - there are 3 one star reviews for series 1 of The Wire:
"After seeing all the positive reviews I thought it would be a sure thing that this would be a good show... but how wrong could I be. The show is so slow paced, the actors are all one dimensional and every episode is like a repeat of the last with about 10 seconds of actual action. All this is topped off with language that is unnecessarily difficult to understand. Please don't waste your money like I did, the most I could stomach was 3 episodes.
24, prison break, lost and house are all far better than this garbage."

There are 4 one star reviews for Willam Boyd's novel Any Human Heart:
"I've tried hard to like this and ploughed by way to page 200 and something but have finally decided to knock it on the head. This is without a doubt the most boring book I've ever picked up, I don't care one jot about LMS or any other cardboard cut-out in this novel. It's deeply uninteresting and the constant references to famous people of the day are really irritating."

Happy browsing!
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