Friday, March 31, 2006

Lost in Obsession

Lending further credence to the idea that the TV series Lost is like a video game the fansite SledgeWeb's Lost... Stuff has enhanced the diagram from Episode 17

I've never seen a show that plays like a videogame more than Lost. Season 1 was the outdoors level, Season 2 is the underground level.

Of course, the non-filesharing Brits out there will have to wait at least another 6-8 months to understand what I'm talking about.

Really... given the kind of rabid-geek fanbase shows like Lost create, by not synching their schedules with the US series, UK's Channel 4 might as well run advertisements for BitTorrent.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I just took this Wired AQ Test for Autism/Asperger's Syndrome -- and was only marginally above average (18).

That's a relief -- I guess my obsessive, detail-oriented nature is 'normal'.

However, after seeing the sheer obsessive genius of Urville -- a city designed by an Autistic French guy over the course of 16 years, I'm thinking the world could use a few more of this type of person.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Project Rooftop

Project Rooftop is inviting illustrators and designers to revamp the classic Marvel and DC superheroes with some delightful results.

(link via Warren Ellis)

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Monday, March 27, 2006


Over at Vintage Computing there's an interview with a guy who has managed to fill his basement with his video game collection.

Surprisingly, this guy is not big on conversation, so the interview isn't very enlightening.

I feel bad for the kid. When he finally emerges from the basement and realises there's a world outside where people aren't made of pixels.

(link via Kotaku)

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Web 2.0 is eating itself

There was a time when someone would come up with a novel idea for a website.
You'd find out about it, sign up, tell some of your friends about it and the watch its community grow more robust.
Maybe, after using it for a while, you'd find a deficiency, so you'd recommend a feature to the website's creators, and feel like you've helped them make something better.
Someone else would come along, find a richer service, and the story continues.

Then came 'Web 2.0'
Now, someone comes up with a good idea, but it's 'beta' and there's quite a bit of room for improving it.
Instead of suggesting improvements to the team, you decide 'I can do that better' and build your own site to compete with it.
So you launch your own 'beta', concentrating on how to be the next Google acquisition instead of how to build your community.
Maybe someone else comes along, and decides they can do even better than both fledgling services and launches a third 'beta'.
Now a new user, who perhaps barely understands the big idea, has three services to choose from. So instead of trying to figure out if X is better than Y or Z, they just decide to wait until someone establishes themselves as the leader and they'll sign up for that.
Or maybe all three services will never get a chance to develop the idea to maturity and will shut after a couple of years.

That's the danger with all this hype. Most of the sites that position themselves as the 'next best thing' -- would be more appropriate as a feature added to an existing site.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

3D Projector

This guy has put his game,SiN Episodes, through a 3D projector by IO2Technology, called Heliodisplay -- with brilliant results. Download the video here.

More pictures of this cool technology at IO2Technology.

This is certainly a technology to watch. It's a bit wispy at the moment, but I'm sure the future will bring a stable 3D projection technology.

Just think -- Resident Evil right in your living room.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006 shows the way forward in ads

While I generally dislike for taking over TV Tome and making it a lot less user-friendly, and a lot more profit-driven -- I think they've hit the nail on the head when it comes to the future of web advertising.

I've mentioned before, and Nielsen-Norman confirms, that people are learning to ignore Google text ads.

My conclusion was that a sponsorship model, where advertisers create a more comprehensive co-branding campaign was a better way to get the message across. is doing just that, with an adbanner that is related to the background image.

I only wish I was in the position to implement this idea on a larger scale. It would be easy enough to create a snippet of code to insert into the CSS of the majority of blogs with empty space around their content to create a sponsored background image.

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Coca-Cola Blãk

Sounds BãD

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Overprotective Information Design

While I generally appreciate the care that stores like Marks & Spencer have put into the package design to highlight the various ingredients and nutritional guidance -- when it comes to nut allergies it's a bit overkill.

This 'warning' comes from a cereal which I enjoy (as a nut allergy sufferer), but since it was produced in a 'factory which uses nut ingredients' -- they've decided to call it unsuitable.

While this is legally safer for them, practically it's teaching me to ignore their warning -- because the odds are against my eating a errant piece of nut landing in my cereal.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006


I've been reading Superdickery a funny collection of Superman (and other) comic book covers highlighting the nonsensical plots used in the Golden and Silver age comic books.

But it's also made me think about Smallville, which is setting itself up for the most annoying plot device ever.

Too impatient to not have Superman encounter primary characters such as Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, if the TV series hopes to end with Clark Kent becoming Superman, they will somehow have to explain how all these people who have known him acting normally (as in, not the bumbling, inept Clark Kent who wears glasses to disguise his identity) will forget all that and stop recognising him as he flies around wearing a cape.

Or maybe they'll put an end to all this foolishness and have him wear a mask, like he really should.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

What gets you fined in one country will gain you citizenship in another

I read about a new Dutch citizenship test in which people must watch a topless woman on the beach (to gauge how tolerant they are) -- shortly after I reading about the FCC fines imposed on US television stations. Most notably, the Janet Jackson nip-slip that will cost CBS $500,000.

I find it incredible how conservative America is becoming. When I was living there it seemed like the most liberal place in the world. But now I'm in the UK where they occasionally use the f-word on TV and show the odd bit of nudity, and yet there is no anarchy in the streets, nor are children sticking forks in their eyes to 'get the bad out'.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why I don't like server-side services

This story about how Gmail cancelled some guy's account without warning is a poignant example of why I am increasingly uneasy about server-side services.

There has been a lot of hype about Google creating a suite of online services to rival Microsoft Office. And in the Web 2.0 world, this is seen as generally a 'Good Thing'.

But if you've ever experienced Blogger, or or web email service going down -- then you realise how powerless you are.

I've said this since Flickr launched. Why can't services like Flickr exist as a client-side application with a network component? I would love to have a local Flickr to organise and tag my media files.

I already know the answer. It's easier to develop a web application because you can hide shoddy implementation behind a flashy front-end and fix it as it breaks. Whereas you can't hack together a standalone application overnight an expect to release it to the public.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Switched to GAIM

I'm trying to get control of the AIM situation I blogged about before. The final straw was when I discovered that the new AIM installed two memory hogging processes on my machine and didn't seem to close them when I signed off.

So now I'm using GAIM. Not only can I keep my AOL, Yahoo and MSN instant messengers in one app, but it's a lot less of a memory hog.

The only downside is I don't get to use some of the nice, graphical features offered by each.

Still, it's worth it.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Simpsons - Live Action

The Simpsons opening intro has been made as a live action clip for the new series. Read about it here, Watch it here

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Sketch Planet

Similar to Sketch Swap, which I mentioned before, Sketch Planet has brought in a touch of Flickr community-building.

The drawing interface is much more limited, but that makes it all the more viral in nature. You can even put a little box on your blog for visitors to sketch in.

Of course, no round-up of doodling websites is complete without Cock-A-Doodle -- as Loz won't let me forget. Perhaps the best sketching app out there -- shame the subject matter is limited to ... well, take a guess.

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Unseen - Generative music video

The Unseen Video is a music video that changes appearance according to your local weather information.

Like I needed to be reminded that it's rainy in London.

There is also a Flickr gallery of what different people have seen from their locality.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006 should be a Wiki

I'm currently building a directory of links, and many valuable resources (usually University homepages) are now dead.

The Wayback Machine on is a good resource for digging up these old links, but often the pages are incomplete -- and hardly a robust snapshot of the website you're looking for.

It made me think that they should open this up to the public for editing. Site administrators could check the archive for their site and make sure that the images and links have been archived properly, ensuring that their digital legacy remains intact long after their site is gone.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

The New AIM: My vendor lock-in love affair

I've installed the new AOL instant messenger. I wanted to voicechat with my family, and since different versions don't seem to be completely compatible, I reluctantly upgraded.

I say, 'reluctantly' because I hate AOL to the core of my being. Having started my career developing content within their walled garden of a service, I watched them ignore and miss countless opportunities as the WWW caught up and surpassed their offering.

More specifically, I hate the fact that they try to get back to their good-old-days by attempting to lock you in to any of their offerings. I'm stuck with AIM because of that lock-in. Most of my friends and family are on AIM, so I have to use it.

With the install came a variety of stuff I didn't want. Like a Plaxo client that installed itself into my MS-Outlook, and a special AOL flavoured variant of Internet Explorer.

They made some improvements, like tabbed messages, but they also changed some things I was used to. Like...
wtf is this icon? I'm guessing they replaced the easily understood 'door-open' icon, signalling a returning buddy -- with the more abstract buddy 'dropping in'.

But -- back to my rant about vendor lock-in. With everyone and their mother making web browsers these days, why doesn't someone develop a truly open and independent instant messenger?

I would love it if someone could just enter my domain, into their IM client, and it would use a peer-to-peer reference to look me up and connect to me.

It would still need a server of some sort, but the idea is that I'd have something I could take with me, like an XML file of all my buddies which I could move to another server if they have a better offering.


[UPDATE: Jabber seems to do some of what I'm asking for, but still, someone needs to find a way to get the general population to make a switch. I'm not sure it's possible.]

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

MODx - Ruby on Rails for the PHP/MySQL crowd

I've posted a few times about my quest to find the ideal CMS, but so far they all fall short of the type of flexibility I need in terms of both design and functionality.

Loz pointed me MODx and I've taken to it like a fish to water.

But don't think of it as a CMS. Think of it as a PHP/MySQL development environment. Which is perfect for me, because I'm always debating whether or not to code something by hand.

MODx neatly splits the programming logic, from the structure for the display (HTML) and the design (CSS).

I'm working on a site with it now, and I think it help me cut a 30-day job down to about 7-days including the learning-curve.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Local and Google Earth - missing a trick

local live com

Microsoft previewed its keeping-up-with-the-Googles product, Local, which is promising, incomplete and doesn't seem to work on Mac browsers (no surprise there).

They've found the missing feature of Google Earth and Google Maps, namely a street-level view.

However, both companies are missing a trick. These products need to be Open Sourced.

What they are building is a virtual world based on the real world. If you look at successful virtual worlds, like Second Life, you see that there is an enthusiastic community of people that will develop a 3D environment if you give them the tools to do so.

Think of all the people that look for their current location on Google Earth. Now what if they saw there was no street level view, but if they walked outside, took a few snapshots, and uploaded it in a specific format, they could update the service.

Considering that Google has already added a number of community contribution features, I'm hoping they will wake up to this idea too, and send Microsoft's buggy beta into obscurity.

Microsoft is like an annoying kid in high school, who has no sense of style himself, but poorly tries to copy the fashion of all the 'cool kids'. Go back to the Dungeons & Dragons club, Microsoft, we don't want you hanging out with us.

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