New blog

All new content on my restarted blog is here

Saturday, July 5

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less

Music: Unfinished sympathy

My gorgeous mate Jack made me think of this idea, music vids: why not. I will occasionally post faves.

And here's my favourite OF ALL TIME!!

I can remember when I first saw this and was blown away in Virgin's office on Sydney's North Shore. Megastyle in a drought-ridden, Aussie-rock, fly-infested, deracination city ... of course it wasn't a hit there.

Scrapbook catch up postscript

"John McCain is Aware of the Internet"

Here's one example:

"Ze republicans dominate ze web!"

Friday, July 4

You may proceed ...

Keeping the world safe from weirdos.

"I'm offended, I'm appalled".

First: Zimbabwe vote-rigging filmed

The Guardian has an astonishing underground video of vote-rigging in the Zimbabwe election as well as how the violence is organised and of MDC Deputy Tendai Biti, a heroic man, in prison.

The video was shot by a very brave police officer. Police were made to vote in front of 'war veterans' - no secrecy.

Shepherd Yuda, a 36-year-old prison officer, fled the country two nights ago. His wife and children are with him. He said he hoped the film, much of which was shot inside his country's notorious jail system, would help draw further attention to the violence and corruption in Zimbabwe.

Yuda, who has worked in the prison service for 13 years, was motivated both by the increasing violence directed towards members of the Zimbabwean opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and the murder two months ago of his uncle, an MDC activist.

Initially, he had just intended to chronicle secretly what life was like inside the country's jails but he found himself present when a war veteran and Mugabe supporter organised the vote-rigging by getting prison officers to fill in their postal ballots in his presence.

Using a hidden camera, Yuda filmed for six days prior to the run-off election last week in which Mugabe claimed victory with 90% of the poll. The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had earlier announced that his party would not be participating because of the intimidation.

"I had never seen that kind of violence before," said Yuda, of the run-up to the election. "The impact has left a lot of orphans; it has left a lot of people displaced. You cannot expect that from your government. You expect that from a rebel group. How can a government that claimed to be democratically elected kill its people, murder its people, torture its people?"
The video will also be shown on BBC Newsnight.

According to the MDC, over 1500 party officials and activists are now in custody.
103 supporters have been murdered by Zanu PF supporters but not a single Zanu PF supporter has been arrested.
Postscript: Shepherd has a history of resistance. In 2001 he was suspended from the prison service for supporting the MDC.

Postscript: Now on YouTube

Live by the sword ...

One of the Daily Mail's laptops was stolen - with thousands of personal and financial details on it. As noted, only, in The Guardian and ComputerWorld, funny that.

Dear Sir/Madam

Unfortunately one of the company's laptops has been stolen. The contents included personal data, some of which related to you. The laptop was password-protected.

We are writing to you as quickly as possible to alert you to the fact that the theft has happened and to inform you of the data types lost, so that you can take appropriate action.

In your case, your name, address, bank account number and bank sort code were the sensitive information lost. We suggest you should take two steps:

1. contact your bank to ensure that it is alerted to the loss of the data, and so that it can advise you on any possible security issues and on any steps that it would be advisable for you to take in order to minimise the risk of any consequent loss occurring;

2. consult at the government website for advice on avoiding or dealing with identity theft.

The likelihood is that this theft was carried out in an opportunistic manner by a thief who will not realise that there is any personal data on the laptop and who may just erase what is on the hard disk in order to disguise the fact that the laptop is stolen. We have, of course, notified the police of the theft of the laptop and are talking to the Office of the Information Commissioner about what has happened.

On behalf of the company, I would like to offer my sincere apologies for any annoyance and inconvenience to you that this breach of security may cause. I can assure you that we take security of personal data very seriously and have, since this incident, which was inadvertently caused by a technical issue, already further strengthened procedures.
Yours faithfully
M J Hindley
Group Finance Director
Nothcliffe Media Limited

Wonder if this'll shut them up about the 'incompetence' of others? Ya'think?

Count Arthur Strong

Back for a new series on Radio Four. Absolutely hysterical.

Health sites and memories

A friend pinged with with info about a patient community website he'd just found; Patients Like Me.

He'd found it very useful to exchange experiences and information with those with his condition. I had a look around the site and found thriving communities, including one for HIV/AIDS.

This took me right back to two decades ago (gulp) when the first internet responses to AIDS appeared. In the early 90s I edited a magazine which needed the latest research information. This, literally, came off the boat, so was several months old. So when I encountered the net it was with astonishment that all this info was there and brand new!

The info was pure text and basically a fairly unusable, certainly unsearchable, database interface. But it was astonishing.

What I was looking at was the AIDS Education Global Information System (AEGiS), which is now the world's largest Database of AIDS information. (The only resource larger is the U.S. National Library of Medicine, but it only offers some of its information on a website).

Since 1992, AEGiS has sought out scientific abstracts from local, regional and international AIDS conferences, related news, reports, and journal articles and compiled them a fully-indexed, cross-referenced and keywords searchable database.

The site is deliberately light on visuals that would make it difficult to access for those with slower computers.

It was originally started as a small electronic bulletin board system (BBS) by Jamie Jemison in 1986. Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, a transsexual pioneer, and US Navy/US Army veteran took it over in 1990, inspired by meeting an isolated young man with AIDS in rural Missouri. Under her direction and tireless effort, the database grew and grew.

She worked 18-hour days from the living room of the mobile home she shared with her aging parents. It sits just across San Juan Creek near LA from the new 1,700-square-foot office, which Clark's 93-year-old father, Ed, happened upon and recommended for AEGiS just months before he died. They moved into that office only a few years ago.

AEGiS is nowadays funded by the US National Library of Medicine, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, John M Lloyd Foundation, Roche / Trimeris, and the Bridgestone/Firestone Trust.

Sister Clark is one of my heroes, a real web pioneer and a true inspiration.

She's received many awards including the 'Award of Courage' from the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Human Rights Award from the International Assn. of Physicians in AIDS Care. AEGiS was nominated for U.N. honors in 1999, 2001 and 2003.

Another hero and inspiration is epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani.

HIV/AIDS work is very political, including in affected communities, and that slants priorities and funding.

A good example would be the lack of promotion for many years of a 'negative' status for gay men - it was seen as somehow undermining HIV+ gay men. I suffered a lot of grief for that view when I worked in the area.

Pisani talks a lot of sense on these sorts of topics:
The problem, Pisani says, is that 80% of the Pepfar (Bush's AIDS initiative) budget goes on treatment. "Pepfar says great, we've got 1.8 million people in treatment. And next year it will be another 1.8 million! That will mean 3.6 million people. It's exponential - and that's the biggest question mark over the entire approach to Africa. The more treatment you have, the more infection you get."

ARVs [antiretroviral drugs] reduce people's viral load, she agrees, making them less likely to infect someone else - as long as they don't miss a single dose. "But it also keeps them alive longer, and healthy enough to want to have sex. You only have to look at the experience of the UK or US gay communities where we've had more or less universal access to ARVs for at least eight or nine years, and the number of new infections are rising. More people are living longer with HIV, and there is what we call behavioural disinhibition: 'Fuck the condoms, I don't need them any more, because if he's positive he'll be on drugs, so he probably won't infect me. And if I do get infected, it would be annoying, but not the end of the world.'

"But having Aids is not a picnic. Yes, it's great that all this stuff on treatment is happening. But it becomes all the more urgent to have effective prevention. And that's not happening."

"Is not a picnic" is putting it mildly, you can expect to live around 25 years on ARVs. It makes me despair that so many young gay men are condemning themselves to shorter lives without a single clue that this is what they're doing by ignoring the condoms. Plus the government is cutting back on preventions spend.

Pisani did a few interviews in the UK last month for her brilliant book The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS.

On News24's HardTalk, professional dick Stephen Sackur spent a lot of time quizzing her about 'mafia connections'.

By contrast Andrew Marr, was more interested and asked great questions.

Her blog is also called The Wisdom of Whores.

Wouldn't it be better if...

Way back in March I sent off 'an idea' to a project called 'Mind the gap - Re:Designing the public sector', which comes from thinkpublic and Ideal Government.

I hadn't actually heard back from them! but my alert picked up that they'd published it. Here it is:

Wouldn't it be better if...

Instead of being sent down 'channels', those channels found you — online.

What do I mean? Things like widgetising existing services, most of which are easily widgetisable.

So, to pick somewhere at random (cough! injoke), Netmums would actually have government widgets on it where you could sign up there (rather than following a link) and be informed by auto-email or txt when you could register your kid online for school.

Or another example might be something like bin collection times or bus routes or Google mapped services - offer them to other websites like your local newspapers or some of the newer, very local, sites or community group websites.

Some sites like Transport Direct already do offer a widget but that's about it.

Something simple like this gets around the issue of 'findability' for services. For most, unless you know the exact title, they aren't bang at the top of Google search, which is the starting point for most. And internal search for government sites is usually not brilliant (because it's hard to get right).

All along these existing 'journeys' you are losing people — so go to where they already are, the audiences for specific services, online. Plus offline marketing and banner advertising is expensive and hit and miss. Proper, broad terms, search marketing can be expensive, especially where there is competition. Plus you could imagine other websites all wanting to be able to do this ('win-win'). Plus you're not as reliant on whatever others choose to 'mash-up'.

These suggestions are along the lines of how online marketeers get more clicks and more eyes for their products: go where the audience is and not just hope they'll find you.

For the potential payback in take up, strikes me as an 'easy win' which wouldn't cost very much at all.


Paul Canning

NB: I have blogged a fair bit about these ideas.


There are a few more on their website, including Tom Steinberg about the unusability of HMRC's website.

For the week before the tax payment deadline the HMRC webpage should be replace by three HUGE links: "Pay your tax", "File your tax return", and "Find out other stuff about tax". When you click on "Pay your tax" it should take you directly to a page where you can enter your tax reference number, and your credit card details. Really not so hard when you come to look at it that way is it?
I Liked this one from Neil McGuire as well:
Wouldn't it be better if everyone had a PO number which moves with them when they move house avoiding misdirected mail and removing the need to change your address on everything every time you move etc.
And this one from Nick Leon (Richmond actually does something like this):
Wouldn't it be better if pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and fast food outlets were part of a scheme to help the city with the shortage of toilet facilities in London? What if everyone could literally cash in their pennies (which are largely unwanted) for credit on an Oyster card type system? Cash in your pennies to spend a penny as it were. Some of the money would go to a worthwhile charity some of it to cover costs for materials and cleaning. Any establishment taking part could have a sign on their window clearly stating they support the scheme and thereby supporting the citizens of their city.

Thursday, July 3

Everything the Taliban hate

For once, I'm at one with The Spectator - on Kylie, OBE. They pick the gold hotpants video though (I'm more bassline driven), must be a gay/straight thing ;] Do any straight men not 'fancy' her?

I never got the sheer OTT cult for her until I saw her through a, sadly lost, Sydney friend's eyes and off camera. She's a very lovely lady.

Spanner in works

In their review of the use of vote counting machines in the London elections, Open Rights Group (ORG) have thrown a huge spanner in the works:

"There is insufficient evidence available to allow independent observers to state reliably whether the results declared for the May 2008 elections for the mayor of London and the London Assembly are an accurate representation of voters' intentions."
The company involved are Indra and The Register reported the very visible issues a while back from their observations at the poll count - not fraud but a lack of transparency.

As well, some of the issues sounded like those experienced during the 'electronic counting fiasco' at the Bedford poll count last year - counting blank ballots as valid votes, jams in the scanning machines and system freezes.

The margin of error ORG thinks there may be would affect some of the declarations for positions in the London Assembly - not the Mayoral vote.

One of the main issues raised by ORG was value for money: is it actually cheaper to do it all by hand? Their three recommendations are:
  • London Elects should perform a full cost-benefit analysis of e-counting against a properly costed manual count of similar scope.
  • There should be time for formal consultation at national and local levels before e-counting is used in an election.
  • There should be long lead-in times, at least 18 months, for the procurement and implementation of election technology.
More about this on Kable

Postscript: Ella Taylor-Smith posted to the UKIE-EDem list, reminding me of the other botched example of electronic voting and answering the point made by James Gilmour that "because the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2007 were counted electronically, the Scotland Office has made voting data available at polling district level (subject to a minimum of 200 voters). This has never been done before in the UK. That information is of very great value to the political parties.".
"While the data may well be of value to political parties they don't pay for the elections, which, in the case of Scotland 2007, cost nearly £40 million compared to £17.5 million in 2003. Both were parliament and local government elections."
More on this from The Scotsman, though Ella notes that they "are not unbiased in this matter".

Wednesday, July 2

Scrapbook clips catch up

According to the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM:

More and more German citizens use the Internet to performing authorities courses. 43 percent of Germans in 2007, electronic services of public administration claimed.
And the UK is slipping down the rankings (p. excuse translation).

Putting a spanner in the gears of the drive to council web ads, Accessible banner adverts, from the RNIB.

Jack Pickard says Better Connected: Sigh - Here we go again

Perchance, I agrees. Forsooth I said ..
There are methods for discovering what terms people use ‘in the street’, that’s how people spend money with search marketing.

One reviewer doesn’t constitute testing best practice, there are well-developed methods used elsewhere which enumerate the issues with this.

The central theme being a disconnection to web best practice.

I am sure that professionals in such areas would find these methods odd.
Webcredible has issued a highly related report 'Local Council Websites: Good, But No Cigar'. PDF download and fairly damning.
Usability will undoubtedly prove to be a key factor in the success of the online channel, particularly when it comes to transactional support for key user services. Compared to last year’s average score of just 45.5%, this year’s sample has performed a lot better against our guidelines. However, there is still significant scope for improvement
Tops for Webcredible? Dan Champion's old stamping ground: Clackmannanshire.

New blog for your Reader: blindaccessjournal.

Business leaders call for accessible technology
"The business case for accessible technology is compelling. IT that is accessible for disabled people is easier for everyone to use and improves everyone's productivity.

"Indeed, it's estimated that over 60 per cent of the workforce would be more efficient were they to use existing accessibility features."

HMRC chief operating officer Steve Lamey said: "We want to raise the profile of the business case for having a disability competent IT sector, not just to suppliers but to every chief information officer in Europe.
Microsoft is lining up Senior PC for the UK. "The PC will come with simplified software for email, word processing as well as managing prescriptions, finances, travel planning and photographs." Age Concern and Help the Aged are the co-conspirators.

HT to Headstar for breaking the walled garden - they have Gerry McGovern starring at an upcoming function. is a new community space, developed by Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Group. The aim is to create a space where people with ideas can meet, share their thinking and link up with each other. The site is open to anyone who wants to get involved. They want this to be a user-led, user-dominated space :}

The Cabinet Office has set up a competition for people to develop their own mash-ups from public sector information, according to Kable.

Actually it's Minister Watson. Praise where praise due.

Great primer from Jack Aaronson at ClickZ on new developments in ecommerce producing A Widget World?

Companies like Citibank should hop on this bandwagon and create true mini ATM interfaces that allow users to perform various banking transactions via the iPhone. The iPhone interface would need to operate more like an ATM and less like a Web site (which is how existing online banking tools are designed).
Authoritarian Governments Can Lock Up Bloggers, But Not Outwit Them
What do Barbra Streisand and the Tunisian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, have in common? They both tried to block material they dislike from appearing on the internet. And they were both spectacularly unsuccessful.
CIA collaborates online
Although people do not generally think of the spy agency as an information-sharing organization, that's an important function of the CIA. And like executives of news organizations, [it's] feeling pressure to make content accessible to an audience that now expects to stay connected from any location.

"People don't always sit at their desks," he said. "If we are really going to be successful, we need to get information to our customers whenever, wherever…by whatever means necessary."

Fowler said the WIRe, which has been online in its current form for less than two years, includes several Web 2.0 tools from text and video to social bookmarks and Really Simple Syndication feeds. "We are really trying to push the envelope," Fowler said.

Content is published seven days a week, and Fowler was awarded the Intelligence Medal of Merit in 2007 for his work on the unique, user-driven format of the publication. The WIRe's newspaper-like interface, which reflects editorial decisions about what should go above the fold, is released six times weekly, he said.

In a sense, Fowler added, the product is like a wire service but more scholarly in style. Reports combine field intelligence, open-source information and analysis.

Fowler said the goal is to use various online tools to make the reports more interlinked for the customer, and there's an opportunity for readers to comment on a particular article and follow links to other, related articles.

The collaborative tools "are a means to an end," he said.

Latest PEW Internet & American Life Project survey says 46% Of Americans Partake In Politics Online. A. Lot.

McCain appears to have, finally, hit a NetNerve with an online appeal for more drilling.

BBC: Supermarket of the future.

It's all about the mobiles. But I find the robot scares me.

Al-Qaeda's Growing Online Offensive
Every three or four days, on average, a new video or audio from one of al-Qaeda's commanders is released online by as-Sahab, the terrorist network's in-house propaganda studio. Even as its masters dodge a global manhunt, as-Sahab produces documentary-quality films, iPod files and cellphone videos. Last year it released 97 original videos, a sixfold increase from 2005.
Jakob has been bizzy:
The 1% of websites that don't suck can be made even better by strengthening exceptional user performance, eliminating miscues, and targeting company-wide use and unmet needs.

Different traffic sources imply different reasons for why visitors might immediately leave your site. Design to keep deep-link followers engaged through additional pageviews.
More wisdom.
It's unfair to blame Google for the facts of information foraging. The easier it is to get around an information space, the earlier people will leave any one location and surf to the next beckoning hit. That's a fact, and Google is just designing the best product it can.

If we didn't have Google, it would be Yahoo and Live Search that were making us stupid, even though maybe they wouldn't make us quite as stupid, because they would make it a little harder to find the next promising place to go, and thus make people dig a bit deeper at each site.

Also, I have observed the same reading behavior in user research since 1997 (the year before Google was founded) so it's definitely not Google's fault that the very nature of the Web makes users treat individual websites contemptuously. Yes, the behavior is stronger now, with more people that ever using search and diving into sites for very short dips, but fundamentally it's the same style of behavior.

After all, I talked about the importance of designing and writing for search long before Google, and the guidelines are pretty much the same. It's simply become more important to follow them.

The guilty party is not Google, it's the Web.
And, from numbers:
Remember that IE7 was released in October 2006: 20 months ago.

Thus, the UPTAKE SPEED is slightly less than 2% per month (in terms of IE users upgrading from the old version to the new one).

Ten years ago, in 1998, I noted that the uptake speed for new browser versions was 1% per week. Thus, users are now twice as conservative as they used to be.
Here's a usability tip: it never ends. ATMs are over 30 years old but they're still up for improvement.

Study Ranks Twenty Best Country Portals: Singapore, Argentina, Costa Rica Take Top Spots

The study is from this guy, but I haven't been able to find the actual study ;[ The portals are great though. Google them.

Personal Democracy Forum 2008.

Absolutely heaps of good stuff. Barely. Scratched. Surface. Also check this tag.

John Edwards' surprise appearance:

Google redefining 'community standards'?
In a novel approach, the defense in an obscenity trial in Florida plans to use publicly accessible Google search data to try to persuade jurors that their neighbors have broader interests than they might have thought.
Very neat idea: non-stop trains:

Line of the week from BBC Radio News: "there's been an 18% reduction in the carbon dioxide Prince Charles produces"

And an added extra, from Chris Kelly:

What if Obama spent the next week calling McCain Dracula?

No offense, right?

He wouldn't really be calling him a macabre horny corpse that only sunlight can stop. He'd just be kidding around. About his energy policy.

And to mention that I've been rated "8.0 in the Society category of". Sorry Amy Liu, no link for you. No 'benefit' sold ;{

Paul Canning’s 10 point plan

Well it wasn't meant that way but 'the plan' has now been picked up and echoed (this is now a few more echoes than I may have 'planned' for, if I was 'planning'). Jeez, I love the web somedays ...

The original post was a response to Minister Watson's question 'so what should we be doing then?' Some sort of web exchange provoked the question (lost). Literally off the top of my head I thought of ten things. This has now become a 'plan'. Er, Hokay ...

'The 10 point plan'

  1. Findability
  2. Disengagement from the wider web and those damned walled gardens
  3. Engaging the industry
  4. Marketing
  5. Widgetising services
  6. Engaging the local
  7. Cheaper usability methods
  8. Content
  9. Fixations on ‘engagement’
  10. Utilising reputation
Details in the original post.

Biggus dickus

Been dying to use that title ...

CONTEXT (bad translation)
The site french yesterday which covered the protests in France 3 has posted a video of the President of the Republic "off", before his speech under the presidency of the Union.

In this video aired yesterday via the site Dailymotion, Nicolas Sarkozy is in the hands of technicians and makeup artist from France 3. Faced with him, the director of news and three journalists. The atmosphere is quite tense. She still rises a notch when a technician does not meet the "Hello" Presidential.

The President of the French Republic, nervous, s'offusque then the attitude of the technician, "it's going to change," said he. Further, the president calls the journalist Gerard Leclerc on its placardisation, a few days after the signing by the latter with a forum published in Le Monde, before intimer journalist in the plateau to address the tragedy of Carcassonne.

It will not take more than 24 hours to take the buzz, video displays 316 000 hits on Tuesday afternoon and generating number of comments, particularly on the usefulness of the dissemination of material "In the context of a presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, a politician whose long known he does not hesitate to put pressure on the media, I think it is the information released a video which can be seen interacting with journalists.

It reminds us that tutoye journalists. What he said Gerard Leclerc, a few minutes of an interview, shows that blows hot and cold, "says Augustin Scalbert, Rue89 journalist who had obtained the video and was instantly broadcasts on Dailymotion. For him, the interest of journalistic document and the legitimacy of its availability on the Web would be further strengthened by the context of reform of public broadcasting.

Even his bell side Grevisse Benedict, director of the School of Journalism Louvain, which defends the launch of the video. "A president who has expressed during his tenure, which has twice makes comments who can pass for threats, two direct pressure exerted before the interview. That is, the President, forget that journalists are not in the service of executive power but to public service. As a result, elements of this nature have a clear public interest and must be disclosed. "

Another benefit of the video, for Benedict Grevisse, is that it can be read on several levels, with devastating consequences for the image of the president: "agitated character and manages to control politically, to threats, precise and barely veiled. It will affect lots of people to varying degrees because it talks about lots of things at once, " he says, still media french fairly discreet so far on television the incident.

Information or simple anecdote mounted pin? Approach or very salutary criticism in terms of ethics? François Heynderickx, a professor at the University of Brussels, will not validate about him not journalistic approach. "We're here in a very limit, namely that uses an image taken in a context inappropriate to limit privacy . It seems to me that using images taken in a context which denies that insofar as they reveal new, which justifies their dissemination or we could not prove otherwise.. " Images without real interest other than "find confirmation of what we already know" about the personality of french president concludes François Heynderickx.

Images, especially, who have contributed to establish the reputation of Rue 89, "which is there a way to remind the public attention, and it will be recalled that it was already with a scoop on Sarkozy that the sites It was made known to be î "and who, for Benedict Grevisse, strengthens its position as free media, compared to the traditional information channels in France. Ce n’est donc pas perdu pour tout le monde. This is not lost for everyone.
I think you get the jist! [Telegraph translation]

Previous Sarkozy video hits!

The Girl Effect


Tuesday, July 1

Zimbabwe economic collapse very near


The new week dawned with even more dramatic news. The USD, trading at over 30 billion to 1 on Friday opened the day at over 60 billion.

As the cash crisis grows, the disparity between the street and the business rates widened as the former relies on the availability of hard cash. When it is in short supply, desperate relatives of economic exiles compete for the ever diminishing ZWD by reducing the price.

As it stands now, no matter the size of the corporation or business, the limit on daily cash withdrawals still remains at ZW $25 Billion, enough to buy 6 fresh eggs!

Likewise, employees do not have enough days in the month to withdraw sufficient cash to pay for their groceries as the financial sector nears collapse.

The OMIR sits at 66 Billion to USD1 and the Hard Boiled Egg Index Fair Value Rate has risen to 28 Billion which is just above the street rate.
Mugabe may literally run out of money - protests have started at the Munich based printers, Giesecke & Devrient, who produce Zimbabwe's money, including, finally, by the German state. Because the trade is a tiny fraction of the company's income, as with Tesco they may well decide to stop the bother and the supply.

UPDATE: Pressure pays, they've stopped supplying notes.

A visibly rattled Mugabe at Sharm el-Sheikh

The Daily Hate

Absolutely classic example in the Daily Mail of what Aussies call a 'beat-up' aka 'making a mountain out of a molehill', for profit.

Not asylum seekers this time but that old stand-by, 'muslims'.

'Muslims outraged at police advert featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat', reads the headline. Read the text and it's one local councilor. So the headline should actually read 'Muslim outraged at police advert featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat'.

Kindof makes a big difference don't you think?

Kudos to the Mail though, managing to hit numerous buttons with both 'cute puppy' and 'muslims' in the same headline. A certain kind of evil, McKenzie-ite genius.

Postscript: I actually bothered to post a comment pointing out the difference between 'muslims' and 'muslim'. Not published. Needless to say, the Daily Hate doesn't publish any standards for comments, so no idea which 'term' or 'condition' I may have breached. One for the regulators?

Monday, June 30

More dangers of filters

This one comes at you sideways.

In addition to blocking traffic from websites they don’t like, it looks like the web-geniuses behind the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow site have a few other tricks up their sleeves, such as automatically replacing any use of the word “gay” with the word “homosexual” in any of the AP stories they run … leading to instances in which proper names are reformatted to meet their ridiculous standard, such as this article about sprinter Tyson Gay winning the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in which he is renamed “Tyson Homosexual”.

Tee hee ;]

Sunday, June 29

And the winner is ...

All MattWardman's work - he has more versions ...

Google Reader clips catch up

Sneak preview of iplayer 2.0.

The most important change is that we combined TV and Radio in the same iPlayer interface.
Which will be great for introducing a lot of radio comedy to new audiences and entirely appropriate for the viewing circumstance - via computer or via mobile.

There's a stack of other great user-driven new features in it.

Elizabeth Pisani: Washington has more HIV than Nigeria
In part because Congress has until just a few months ago stood in the way of clean needles for injectors in the city, the capital of the world’s largest economy has HIV rates similar to those in many African countries.
Much web 2.0 isn't accessible but this looks set to rapidly change. Accesify reports that Firefox 3 is "a big accessibility enhancement in the form of WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications) support."

And the RNIB’s Web Access Centre Blog says:

This is an exciting time in the browser area as support for the Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) suite gathers pace in the next generation of browsers. Browsers with support, partial support and planned support for WAI-ARIA include Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 3, Opera and Web Kit based browsers including Apple’s Safari.

Leading industry commentator John Battelle declares that with search It's Over. Google Wins.

MP Tom Harris got roasted in the MSM for comments on his blog and Minister and longtime blogger Tom Watson's points to hypocrisy and lack of MSM coverage of that hypocrisy by one of Harris' tormentors - Tory MP Philip Hammond.
If ever there was a time for British bloggers to pick up on a story that the mainstream press have missed/ignored, this is it.
Steve Dale artfully dismisses a CBI claim that Browsing websites costs billions in lost productivity.
I just hope that managers will not use this report as further ammunition to restrict workers from using the web for anything other than browsing their own company’s web site. Let’s not apply 19th century working practices to 21st century workers!
The BarCamp idea just happened in Nairobi!
Fantastic idea posted by Simon Dickson, The power of postcodes.
Postcodes are the country’s greatest example of the Power Of Information. I believe we would unlock significant power if we enshrined postcodes as our key national geography, asking Royal Mail to bequeath them to the nation. All statistical and political geography should be aligned with postcodes, with a commitment not to change them for 10 years, perhaps coinciding with the Census cycle. I don’t care if there are marginally more meaningful statistical boundaries; a flawed system we all understand beats a perfect system nobody understands. Oh, and it’s cheaper too.
Shane McCracken channeling Steve Webb posts that MPs are only just now being allowed to utilise laptops in HofC committee meetings.

Dave Briggs issues Three cheers for Dylan Jeffrey, a civil servant who took part in the debate about ICELE by commenting on his blog in Jeffrey's official capacity.
Of course, this week saw the publication of the guidance for civil servants engaging with the social web. Of the five main points, three were: be credible, be responsive and be a civil servant. Dylan hit all three of these.

Let’s hope other civil servants take note, and that Dylan’s colleagues at CLG thank him for doing this on their behalf.
The guidance has been the subject of much justified, excited comment within egov. It's genesis behind the scenes should be noted for some future history of this period. The actual movers here know who they are and deserve, unfortunately anonymous, thanks. The guidance just needs extending now beyond Whitehall!

John Edwards for CIO examines how new text analytics technology is being deployed in the US to examine customer comments on surveys and e-mail as well as monitor blogs, text messages, online chats, phone calls (through speech-to-text conversion) and social network profiles.
For content management products, Halper notes, text analytics can be a complementary technology; for example, text analytics can help categorize or enrich content, analyze content in a data repository, or improve workflow.

Also, vertical industries, such as the legal industry, are becoming increasingly intrigued by text analytics' ability to add insight to an array of routine business tasks, she says.

Today, many text analytics users believe that the technology provides a useful bridge to help nontechnical staff members get a handle on complex problems without running high-level searches.

"You can have business users who are not analysts really understand 'What are my top 10 problems?' or 'How is this issue trending over time?'" Bodoh says.
All new and early days though.
But while text analytics can rapidly generate vast amounts of deep customer insight, the technology is still far away from becoming an out-of-the-box solution.

"For our purposes, in order to get full value from the application, we will have to train analysts to use the software, invest in tuning the taxonomy to produce more granular analyses and integrate the output...with our enterprise data warehouse so we can use the combined data for even greater customer insight."
Emma Mulqueeny really likes Hazel Blears work on citizen empowerment.
* I can’t precis Ms Blears’ intro, you need to read it then come back for the rest if you need :)
* Bearing in mind that it is based on the GOB Green Paper, you need to know this bit of it: It aims to give citizens the means of participating in decision-making at every level; to clarify the role of Government, both at central and local level; to rebalance power between Parliament and government and give British people a stronger sense of what it means to be British (FWIW: I do not agree with the importance of the second point but hey ho)
* This paper is an action plan covering three areas:
1. Widening and deepening empowerment opportunities locally
2. Supporting and enabling people to take up empowerment opportunities
3. Strengthening local representative democracy
* In Summer 2008 there will be a review of this action plan, with a further plan set out thereafter (I know, I KNOW… these things take time)
One line which leapt out at me was:
Give citizens a greater role in planning
• Build an e-consultation hub: 2007 link every local authority and 2008 open the hub to the general public.
I wonder if this will replace, duplicate or actually means the much-loved, semi-privatised Planning Portal.