Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2 out now.

The title said it all really. I think its a great improvement and a worthy submission from the Mozilla corporation. Unfortunately I don't know whether it will be enough to combat IE7. You can get Firefox 2 here.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Is the internet losing its diversity?

When the internet was first conceived there was millions of small websites all adding their bit. Now there are a select few. Search is covered by Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask. blogging is covered by blogger and wordpress, videos are covered with youtube, flash with newgrounds and so on. In the past if I wanted a driver for a piece of hardware I would have searched several small websites, now there are just a few databases. Virtually every subject has been covered by a few major sites.

I used to like hearing the views from lots of different people running their own sites. Search engines however are often dismissive of small sites (fewer people link to them) and we are amidst the age of the web portal. Of course, in many instances this has improved the web and reduced duplication, but several small sites have gone in recently times. However there is one force increasing diversity: social networking and blogs. Loads of small sites created by the people but hosted by larger companies. Maybe this is where the future lies?

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Flash player 9 beta version!!!

Flash Player 9 beta version has arrived! Check out Penguin.swf for full information. It seems to work well and makes some huge improvements to flash player performance under linux. I think the best part is that Adobe has shown it is prepared to support the linux and open source community, and who knows where it will stop!! Shockwave player for linux? All their software working on linux? Maybe not that far, but this action is certainly a move in the right direction and has made Adobe very popular with the linux community, which, if history is anything to go by, is a very smart move indeed.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Interesting articles 2

I have made several proposals on how to manage the UK transport situation, but today I discovered an article which features some very interesting propositions. You can read it here.Although at first it appears rather dangerous, I think aspects of the ideas presented could be adopted, if applied with common sense.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Interesting news....

The Times has a rather cynical article on working as a librarian at Guantanamo Bay. I have looked for indicators that this is some sort of practical joke, but it appears legitimate. Still I imagine deciding what people can and cannot read is a rather tough decision to make when you've a massive bureaucratic government watching over you. The full story is here.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Religious symbols: if you're foreign its fine.

If you believe in a religion other than Christianity and are foreign then it is ok for you to wear religious clothing in Britain. Otherwise its not ok. Don't believe me? Check here

Update: That was a bit of a sensationalist story wasn't it. Seeing as how this is not a tabloid blog, I thought I'd better readdress the balance: check here

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Friday, October 13, 2006

What happened to late night television?

We all get them - those nights where no matter what you do you simply cannot sleep. At times like these your options are limited, but watching television is a good way to think about something else.

However when all that is on are news repeats and shows like "The Mint" and "Quiz Call" its time to despair. I have absolutely 0% interest in watching people phoning up at 3am for £50. There are three very good reasons for this:

1) The presenters and show format are appalling.
2) The people who actually phone up are guillible (the odds of winning are low) and/or insomniacs with nothing else to do. When they do get through you can bet they'll say either "ok" or "fine". So thats all you hear over and over.
3) This isn't actually helping me forget I'm not asleep.

So what can you do. Its 3am and your still wide awake? The answer: Go online of course!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Microsoft claims they can defend pcs alone?

Microsoft are making claims that they have changed. They are working with the hacking community a lot more now and claim to have learnt lessons from groups such as mozilla and the various Linux vendors. However they are systematically attempting to control all aspects of PC security. They now have anti-spyware, a firewall package and are working on anti-virus software. They've also locked down a lot more of the Vista operating system (apparently..). I am sceptical. The reasons for this are that I don't think a company like Microsoft is going to devote enough energy into creating a truly secure package because they have too many other interests. They also do not have the real world experience of Symantic or Zone labs and most software by Microsoft is targetted. Also let's not forget how infrequently they patched IE6. So essentially I think their aim to provide complete pc security is fine for beginning home users, but I doubt anybody serious about security will be disabling their own firewall/anti-virus program any time soon...


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Yahoo answers has become very useful.

When the web was in its infancy the only "answer" service was from Google, who got people in the web community to act as researchers. Question setters set a price they were prepared to pay for an answer (from $2.50 - $200) and this indicated the level of detail required. Google took a percentage and the researchers got paid when they answered satisfactorily. Great model, with one problem - what if people didn't want/couldn't afford to pay? Enter Yahoo answers. Not only can you ask anything at all, but anybody can reply and then the best answer is selected either by the question setter or by the public who can vote for their favourite. I was sceptical at the start that the quality of answers would be too low, but I think on most questions where enough people respond the selected answer is usually very good. For instance I found a question about sheep asking "Will my sheep be lonely?". There are more academic questions too. Check out this answer to: "Is Pluto a planet" I think this is a very good idea and I bet there are people at Google annoyed that they didn't think of it first.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Parody to yesterday's post.

David Cameron's website has been parodied. Check out the videos at Whilst the parody isn't great, there are several other videos available and some of these are better (and some are worse too). Be selective.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Where do you want your propaganda from?

The BBC, ITN, Sky? If you are a Conservative party supporter, in addition to visiting their homepage ( you can now check out David Cameron's video blog. It looks a little "home-video" and I am sure this is part of the idea, but in fairness I think it is a nice idea for raising his profile as a normal human being with several previously socialist areas. (Afterall I think the real distinction between parties now is how systems are going to be improved rather which issues will be focused on) e.g. we all want a good NHS, education system, better police etc. Labour has a top-down approach to this and the Conservatives have a down-up approach.

Trouble is, I haven't decided whether it is clever marketing or a cheesy gimick. I think time will determine the answer to that question.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shocking Google PR stunt.

I am always rather concerned that my blog is just one giant advert for Google. Today however I am rather alarmed that Google has attempted a new PR stunt, this time exploiting children to do their marketing for them. I find it depressing that so many children (15000 +) attempted this. That is because it is not like an art competition promoting originality and using your imagination; it is essentially designing an advert. I am sure there will be lots of people (probably Labour voters) who will think Google is wonderful and nice for doing this. I however can picture the scene in the Google boardroom and I think it is a low corporate trick.


David Cameron gets attacked on today program.

I often listen to the Today show on radio 4 (although when they run pieces on the price of the women's institute going up four pounds I sometimes doubt my selection). Anyway this morning David Cameron gave an interview and he was asked firstly why the Conservative party bought and then sold a property next to their headquarters from someone in the channel islands and didn't have to pay £650 000 in tax. Ok, thats not so bad but then he was asked why, if you donate £50 000 to the Conservatives, you get to meet David Cameron. He replied that this was a fund raising exercise however the Today presenter described this as "cash for access". David Cameron managed to just about scrape through with some answers, but I thought those were very tough questions indeed.