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Thursday, December 18

OMG - shoe tossing goes viral

"This shoe is for you"

"There's no business like shoe business"

Ghandi would like this. Violence without the violence. Just Dada enough.

Can someone do Blair? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese?


Serafinowicz goin' viral.

It's a cult I tells ya, a cult ....

Tearing Dallas a new party hole

Ah, Will Ferrell. What will he do next?

'E-democracy' and, er, democracy

Jakob Nielsen has produced for Pew a very interesting usability study of voter information websites from all 50 united states and the District of Columbia.

Some points of interest. He identifies these neglected usability aspects:

  • Homepage usability
  • Search
  • Accessibility
  • Web presence (that is, how users get to content from outside the site, or "usability-in-the-large")
And makes this spot-on comment on his results:
there's a negative correlation of r=-.1 between homepage usability and accessibility ... the negative correlation indicates that designers aren't treating accessibility as a component of user experience quality. Most likely, government agencies are focused on complying with legalistic accessibility regulations instead of trying to make the sites easy for people with disabilities to use.
As an observer of 'e-democracy', where's usability in the mix? Well it's nowhere - because it's simultaneously nowhere in egov. That's true of the UK and - Nielsen suggests - the US also.

Not very democratic, I'd venture to suggest.

According to E-Access blog, Robin Christensen now of AbilityNet and formally of the RNIB reviewed the FAB! NEW! WEB 2.0! Number 10 Downing Street website and found it wanting:
While relatively accessible in many ways, still has various untagged links which read simply ‘click here’ [sic], offering the audio browser no clue as to what lies behind. The website also features auto-start videos, with unlabelled control buttons, so that blind users are confronted with video noise drowning out their own audio controls and cannot work out how to turn it off.
A very polite way to put it. Picture the scene ....

Again with the not-very-democratic.

Sez Jakob:
There's a reason that we have a "total user experience" concept to encompass everything that users encounter. It's not enough to have a great design for part of the user interface. Good navigation, say, is certainly a necessity for a great user experience, but it's not sufficient. Offer a bad homepage, and users might turn away before they even start navigating.

We can liken a website's user experience to the metaphorical chain that's no stronger than its weakest link. If any one usability attribute fails, the overall user experience is compromised and many users will fail.
It's all very obvious, really - auto-start videos FCS!! Unless one is sitting inside a walled garden ....

Wednesday, December 17

Artifical leaves in 20 years

Yeah, but. We need MAJOR carbon reductions very quickly (if it's not already too late) and we hit peak oil in a few years (if we haven't already).

This guy's Obama's new energy secretary.

Think 'glass half full' ... think 'glass half full' ...

HT: Andy Sullivan

The collective yawn

Excellent Keith Olbermann piece with law professor Jonathan Turley.

This follows Cheny's out and out admission - possibly begging for a presidential pardon - that he signed off on torture. Whether he will face consequences entirely depends on the 'politics' - meaning public pressure.

Turley said:

“It most certainly is a crime to participate, to create, to in many ways monitor a torture program. What [Cheney] is describing is most certainly and unambiguously a war crime.”

“It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? … If someone commits a crime and everyone’s around to see it and does nothing, is it still a crime?”
Ron Susskind told Rachel Maddow that the record is clear, Cheney was always clear he wanted to invade Iraq no matter what - "it was a matter of simply selling it like a bar of soap".

That goes for Blair too - another war criminal?

Postscript: Andy Sullivan reminds me of the mentality of these pigs.

From a piece of dialogue, recorded at Notre Dame University. In it, John Yoo, Dick Cheney's favorite legal protege, explains the Bush administration's view of the legal limits of the president's power:

"Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty

Cassel: Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo...

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that..."

Music: T Plays It Cool

It’s captivating how this Marvin Gaye track could be put out nowadays by some so called R’n B genius, T Plays it Cool knocks the pretenders for six and turns out to be timeless though it was written in ‘72 (Motown Records).

It belongs to the blaxploitation Trouble Man soundtrack, so often compared to the Shaft one but they are truly poles apart, both for the movie genre and for the atmosphere they create.

P Diddy loves it. Check him out shaking his buttarooney in this pre-November 5 vodcast: Meet Ciroc Obama.

Tuesday, December 16

Our two-tier rights regime

Watched a funny episode of the Welsh sitcom High Hopes, 'A Passage to India', which had this synopsis:

The Immigration Department, in the guise of Adam Mosley, plan to deport Muktar Rahman, the elderly patriarch of the local Indian restaurant, back to the Punjab. The community rallies around to save him, led by Mam.
Moseley indeed. In a big, black leather Matrix coat and a copy of Mein Kampf on the desk. All very funny and perhaps only in Wales as I'm sure some English newspaper/Minister would object were it on BBC1 (England).

Thing is, it was drawing on a big grain of truth. The 'Immigration Department' (the Home Office) may not actually be Nazis but they are out of control, with asylum seekers being deliberately made destitute, beaten in detention centres and the whole system riddled with racism and homophobia where other parts of government are being systematically un-riddled.

The treatment of refugee Zimbabweans (many of whom are professionals) has, perhaps, shone some light on just how disgusting the regime is in its treatment of people fleeing persecution. But I could quote you case after maltreated case, particularly of gay people.

Just where we are is best shown by the case of Labour populist Minister Phil Woolas who recently got out the big tar brush to attack NGOs who support such people as causing "more harm than they do good." Did anyone complain about what he said?

The Queen's Speech featured another attempt by the government to remove higher court appeal and review rights on refugee decisions by civil servants (which consistently find more than a third of initial decisions to be wrong under existing rules).

Other proposals included new powers for immigration officers to stop people in the street and demand to see proof of entitlement to be here, no statutory limitation on the length of immigration detention, no limitation of the power to detain children, anyone assaulting, obstructing or resisting anyone exercising functions 'under the Act' commits a criminal offence and - most relevant to the sitcom - the exemption from deportation of certain long-resident Commonwealth citizens has gone.

Were you aware? Read of this anywhere other than vague references to a 'crack-down' and Ministers being 'hard'? Thought not.

As Nick Clegg said on the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are "fast developing a two-tier rights regime."

And what are we becoming in the process? Not the country which welcomed tens of thousands of Jewish refugees, or the Ugandan Asians, or exiled Poles or numerous others but some other country and, particularly, some other Labour party I barely recognise.

Smith, Woolas and their ilk come across as having not a shred of humanity. We are better than this.

Monday, December 15

Bush's Boot Camp

Iraqis so well-off they've shoes to spare

Best ... Xmas present ... ever.

"This is a goodbye kiss, you dog."

"This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

Sunday, December 14

What does spam look like?

Image generated by a computer program that accepts as input, junk email. Various patterns, keywords and rhythms found in the text are translated into three-dimensional modeling gestures.

From a series by Romanian artist Alex Dragulescu.

Another from his series malware.

Justin Webb is not "formidable"

According to Radio 4's controller, Mark Damazer, the replacement for Ed Stourton on the Today show, North America Editor Justin Webb, is "one of the joys of the network".

Today editor Ceri Thomas said:

"Justin has always excelled on radio and has become a truly formidable North America editor for the BBC. "

"The chance to bring his foreign affairs expertise home to the programme was too good to miss."
This is the same Webb who oversaw the truly, embarassingly awful election night coverage for the BBC?!

I would love to know on what criteria they are judging him. Mateship? I've cataloged Webb's consistently Washington/MSM-centred, misleading and plain wrong (sometimes amazingly wrong) coverage over the past year. He was just another MSM journo spinning out the 'conflict' in the primaries and the general when by any reasonably criteria the result was known.

And his coverage of race in the election was cringeworthy.

I would also love to know how someone who consistently and rather snootingly ignored the enormous role of blogs in that election is going to fit-in with the now web 2.0-focus of the new Beeb?

My only conclusion is because Webb failed to hide his McCain-leaning sympathies that he'll fit in better with the Daily Mail leaning sympathies of Today.

Plus that I'll be avoiding the show come next September.

Functionalism in web analytics

Excellent primer from the leading edge on how to frame analysing web stats.

There are dozens of insights here from Gary Angel, CEO of Semphonic, and all very much common-sensical (well, I thought so).

Here's a whitepaper backing up Gary's points: Functionalism: A New Approach to Web Analytics