Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

'Out of this World' at the British Library

Last Thursday evening I attended the launch of the Out of this World science fiction exhibition at the British Library. I’ve blogged about the exhibition for work.

The launch night was fun in a peculiarly geeky way as I got to play spot the author/critic/BNF. Some people (Kim Newman to give the obvious example) are easy to spot but far too many fall into the general category of middle aged men with greying beards. In fact I could easily have been looking at the crowd at Salute or @media instead.

At the same time that I was listening to China Miéville give a speech to open the show, Lettice was at a different exhibition launch with Cilla Black and Ringo Star. There’s probably something profound in that contrast but I’m really not sure what.

Latest storm in a teacup over at LiveJournal is worth a few notes.

Much of the functionality in the latest release is good or at least inoffensive (pingbacks, cross-post posts to Twitter and Facebook, add Facebook Connect alongside OpenID for non-LJ users to log in and post comments). But one item, the ability to cross-post comments to Facebook and Twitter has caused a bit of a fuss (understatement, this is LiveJournal so toys have been ejected from perambulators with great vigour).

It seems like a dumb idea, badly implemented.

  1. Context
    Why cross-post a comment out of context from the post it is commenting on (and indeed out of context of an any comments it may be in reply to, LJ having a decent threading system for comments unlike some other blogging systems)? It seems pointless.
  2. Privacy
    The fact that the choice to cross-post is entirely at the hands of the commenter and ignores the privacy settings of the original post has caused the biggest fuss and rightly so. If someone posts a friends only post to their blog, then should their friends be able to share their (out of context) comments on that post with everyone on Twitter or Facebook? Well, at least you’ll find out who your real friends aren’t…
  3. Poor User Interface
    The positioning of the checkboxes for cross-posting between the comments field and the comments submit button is likely to lead to accidents. And considering the context and privacy issues such accidents will be at best nonsensical and at worst deeply intrusive.

I would never have gotten beyond the context issue if someone had brought this up in a brain storm with me. The sheer pointlessness of this function means it should never have been developed, and now that people have expressed almost entirely unfavourable opinions because of the privacy and UI issues, should mean that it gets removed rather than “fixed”.

I hope that the cross-posting of comments, and only the cross-posting of comments, is removed soon, as it threatens to overshadow the other features in this release which offer useful functionality that can enrich the LiveJournal experience for users who use it as a general blogging platform rather than a private, anonymous, slash-fiction, walled garden.

BTW, this post was created in the WordPress blog on my personal site; cross-posted to LiveJournal; syndicated via RSS; a notification tweeted; and Facebook notes will pick it up from the RSS in a couple of days. Your comments and replies will only appear in the place they were made however, unless you use (on purpose or by accident) this misguided feature on the LiveJournal version of this site.


At the start of the year I was working Wicked Web in Clerkenwell, living in West Norwood and had been going out with for six months. We went on holiday to Boston and Tennessee. WW moved office to Old Street in the spring. I went to Las Vegas for Andy’s stag weekend.


I took Lettice to Budapest for her birthday. WW started laying staff off towards the end of the year.


WW went into liquidation and hence I was made redundant. I became self-employed and started freelancing for many ex-WW clients. Went to the south of France with Lettice’s family – first time I’d ever seen the Mediterranean.


I spent the first part of the year working on a site for the BBC. Towards the end of the year I started doing contract work via an agency which meant that I got a large refund from the tax man, eventually. I went on a falconry day and flew a Harris Hawk. I asked Lettice to marry me.


I started this blog and spent several months working for the Home Office.


I gave up freelancing and started work at Visit London. I started cross posting this blog to LiveJournal and joined LibraryThing and Last.FM. I moved house to larger flat, ten minutes down the road from the old one, and Lettice moved in. We got married and went on honeymoon in Canada. 🙂


I learnt XSLT. 🙁 Lettice also started to work at VL. I joined Flickr


Relaunched with a new CMS, clocking up a stupid number of days off in lieu in the process. I did jury duty. I joined Facebook. We went to Dublin and Amsterdam.


We went to Venice. I learnt JSP and jQuery. I joined Twitter


We went to Barcelona and tried to buy a house. I grew a moustache for charity.

November has arrived accompanied by wind and rain and cold (and indeed a cold). How to spend the month?

Well mostly Lettice and I will be spending it buying a house. Or trying to. The other day we took a tame civil engineer to have a look round the place we’re hoping to buy (in a sort of “look for the massive faults before paying a surveyor” kind of way) and he could only see one potential problem. Fingers crossed that it isn’t.

Like last year, I’ll be taking part in NaBloPoMo as a form of half-hearted solidarity with the people who are attempting NoNoWriMo.

And I’ll be growing a moustache. Some banter in the office on Friday has somehow led to me agreeing at the last minute to take part in Movember. Now, despite having a silly name and being an Australian import, this is a very good cause so please make a donation. I promise to only post very occasional photos of the mo’s progress.

Finally I’ll be hiding from the bad weather and watching telly, not least Doctor Who which is back for a special on the 15th.


It’s November so some brave souls are embarking upon this year’s NoNoWriMo. Good luck to you if you’re one of them.

I’m in no way dedicated enough to try an entire novel in one month, but I do want to write more so I’m declaring November to be my NaBloPoMo – I will be endeavouring to post at least once a day for the next 30 days.

“Na No Wri Mo Na Blo Po Mo” – I think I know how RTD comes up with Judoon dialogue.

This blog now has a theme tune courtesy of Brother Typewriter of the Burning Lodge.

Very True Things is a tribute to my friend Steve’s blog of the same name. The idea was to have a 16-note sequence running throughout the whole song and then play different stuff against that – which sort of worked, I think. Actually it was more to do with the fact that I couldn’t be bothered to write any more complex sequence in Moog Modular V. I am VLT – Very Lazy Thing.)

Thank you Howie, I think…

The past couple of columns extolling the virtues of Firefox were enough to tell that he was ‘one of us’, but this week Stephen Fry is blogging about the W3C and WHATWG. In fact, this makes a lot of sense, if the W3C’s efforts were to be compared to a gameshow then one, like Mr Fry’s QI, where the contestants regularly end up with a negative points total would be an appropriate analogy.

Recently: Opera takes Microsoft to court, which leads to calls for the CSS Working Group to be disbanded, which is, unsurprisingly, shrugged off by the working group itself, and then Microsoft announces that IE8 passes Acid2.

And as you’d expect there’s been a lot of froth and nonsense across the interested blogs.

My thoughts are that progress is being made, both by people like the the IE team (the current versions of Opera and Safari already pass Acid2 and Firefox 3 will pass it as well) and by the W3C which has made some good efforts this year to be more open and transparent.

It’s good to question the way things are, and Andy Clarke’s post about the working group has certainly made people take a good look at the status quo. But I feel that his proposed alternative would take us back to the time where the W3C created specifications that bore no relation at all to what the browsers were actually doing or planning to do.

As far as Opera and Microsoft goes, this is more about commerical advantage and business models than it is about web standards per se. Opera’s current business model aligns itself with web standards. Microsoft’s business model is so large and complex that it can be both for and against web standards and as the Acid2 result shows the team building IE8 are for them. I think the lawsuit is a sideshow and shouldn’t be allowed to dominate the standards discussion.

For many of us the shenanigans of the CSS working group hold a strange fascination, but I think that Mr Fry is right to point out that it’s in the areas of video and audio that the next big battle will be fought. As such Microsoft aren’t the main bad guys, Apple and Adobe probably are. Going back to business models, these companies are both secretive and fond of closed proprietary solutions. I’m not saying that either of them are evil through and through, but I’d love to see a lot more openness and cooperation from them in 2008.

Anyway, Stephen Fry is blogging about W3C working groups and open source video formats. He’s so one of us.


A charming individual,, has been posting abusive comments (now deleted) on an old post of mine, accusing me of over reacting when I laid into some idiots who decided to use the word gay as an insult.

His/her latest missive is presented below, as he/she didn’t included any punctuation I’ve had to guess where one sentence ends and the next begins.

you must be the biggest loser on earth not one person has wrote to you for a long time so i thought i should say some thing

A few facts first, since your last comment on 23rd November, six people have posted comments here (some multiple times, hi Jack) and a further three people have commented on the LJ mirror of this blog. As I’ve only posted seven posts in that time that’s fair number of commenters for a modest little personal blog like this.

your last comments were quite rude implying that im gay and bigot

They were meant to be rude. You came to my web site and attacked me, you reap what you sow.

However, I did not imply that you were gay – I suggested that you might have fun in a gay bar, something that lots of straight people do all the time. Also, I did not imply that you were a bigot – I stated it clearly.

well thats a big word for a small minded person like your self you are strait up and down stupid and i dont have to go off at the deep end like your self and try and use words hat you dont even understand good one brainiack

Bigot. Five letters, two syllables, easy to pronounce, quite easy to define. That may be a big word to you – judging by your spelling, punctuation and grammar you have problems with the English language. However, as your IP address resolves to the Netherlands you may well not be a native speaker.

ha ha ha your such a fool i await your reply wich im sure will be inthrouling

Did you mean enthralling? I don’t know about that, but I’m sure this post will raise a smile or two somewhere.

Got a short e-mail today about my StarDate Converter:

Have you considered making the current stardate available via RSS?

Hmm, interesting. First of all I’d have to translate the calculator to PHP or whatever to do the calculations on the server, but after that making the output available via RSS would be easy enough.

But would it be practical: the second decimal place represents a period of little over five minutes, so if someone wanted this to create a stardate ‘clock’ they’d be hitting my server at least that often. Not a disaster on its own but something that would need keeping an eye on if it proved popular.

Maybe I should test it out with the French Revolutionary Calendar first (I really need to convert that to PHP anyway so that the dates on this blog aren’t reliant on JavaScript). Hmmm, let’s see where this leads.


I’ve created a page listing various 25/28mm Dinosaurs and other prehistoric miniatures. It’s a work in progress and but will probably grow into some sort of monster listing with pics and reviews.

This is the first time I’ve used the Page feature in Word Press and I’m sure I’m missing out on all sorts of features I could be using to make it better.