Archive: January, 2006


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Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Actor Baker becomes voice of text

Former Doctor Who actor Tom Baker is to be the voice of a talking text message service for three months.

Monday, January 30th, 2006 slides gave me an ultimatum

Anina, the blogging model, is told by her agency to stop blogging because "fashion and technology do not go together". Asshats.

Disposable urination funnel

This airtoons like animation demonstrates the correct usage of the magic cone.

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

Banned Xbox 360 Ad

Fairly amusing and strangely unbanworthy.

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

Dave Shea London Geek Dinner - 23rd January 2006

A transcript of the Q&A session with Dave.

Friday, January 27th, 2006

BBC - Culture Show - Design Quest

Vote on your favourite Britsh design. It's a tough call but I might plump for the Penguin paperback.

Four listless things

My sore throat has turned into a full-blown cold. My vulnerable immune system has left me susceptible to memes and, wouldn’tchya know it, I’ve gone and caught one from Rob and Steve.

So I’m supposed to list four of various things. Why four? It seems a strange number to pick for a meme (not an odd number, just a strange number). Usually, prime numbers are the ones that capture the popular imagination: five of this, seven of that, 23 of the other. Four seems an unusually straight-laced number: 2 x 2, binary 100. You never hear about the four dwarfs or the four samurai.

Anyway, on to the things I’m supposed to enumerate. As I’m feeling somewhat listless, this will, in a stroke of hypertextual pathetic fallacy, also be listless.

Four jobs I’ve had. If busking counts, then that’s one. I had a very brief stint working in an Irish bar in Germany before moving on to selling bread (with a little bit of busking on the side). Somehow I ended up making websites, so let’s call that number four. Phew! Just made it.

Four movies I can watch over and over. I’m not sure if this means I could watch them at regular intervals or if I’d have to literally watch them over and over, Clockwork Orange style. Assuming that I’d at least get the occasional bathroom break, I’d choose Night Of The Hunter, Touch Of Evil, Laurence Of Arabia and Revenge Of The Sith. If it hasn’t got "of" in the title, it’s crap.

Four places I’ve lived. Galway (Ireland), Ottowa (Canada), Freiburg (Germany) and, if "lived" includes the present tense, Brighton (England).

Four TV shows I love. University Challenge, Battlestar Galactica (the new much-improved version), The Sopranos and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Four places I’ve vacationed… or "gone on hols", if you prefer. Bacharach (Germany), Bologna (Italy), Imatra (Finland) and Seattle (USA).

Four of my favourite dishes. Any four dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Failing that, three steaks and a mackerel.

Four sites I visit daily. Adactio Elsewhere - it’s four sites in one.

Four places I would rather be now. Now? Like, right now? It’s late right now in this timezone so I’d better choose four places on the other side of the globe where it’s still daytime. But then again, I’m pretty tired so I wouldn’t really be able to appreciate the sights and sounds of a foreign land right now. Maybe I’d really just rather be asleep. Oh boy, sleep! That’s where I’m a viking!

Four bloggers I am tagging. I’ll say Jessica (because I know she’ll do it) and Joe (because I know he won’t). And I’m tagging them both twice, just to be certain.

events:sxsw2006 [Inside Avalonstar]

Going to South by Southwest? Add your name to the WiKi.

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Eugene Mirman

Behold! The Marvelous Crooning Child.

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Google Code: Web Authoring Statistics

Useful markup statistics from Google, complete with snotty commentary.

Chuck Norris Facts

There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

New York Hack

The blog of a New York cab driver.

Met so blue

It’s been a busy weekend here at Chez J&J. Following in the footsteps of fellow Canadians, Derek and Joe, Dave came to visit.

He paid for his keep by presenting a Skillswap on CSS. It was most edifying. As usual, the real fun happened afterwards in the pub. Mind you, it was a logistical nightmare trying to track down a pub that could fit umpteen geeks, wasn’t filled with cigarette smoke, and had more than one person manning the bar on a hectic Friday night. We eventually found ourselves ensconced in the Duke Of Wellington which turned out to be quite fortuitous. How else would we have discovered Richard’s royal roots?

The rest of Dave’s stay involved the usual touristy things: tea and scones, the pier, the pavilion. The visit culminated with an Iron Chef style pizza cook-off between Dave and Jessica that I’ll write up on Principia Gastronomica.

Sadly, my body has rebelled at all this fun and rewarded me with a bit of sore throat. That’s why I backed out of attending the Geek Dinner in London. I figured lots of drink, smoke, and geek chat wouldn’t do my throat much good. But, damn, it looks like it was fun. : Articles - Know Your Type

A really nicely laid-out introductory article on typography from the folks at Red Labor.

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Cleanup on aisle 5

Hilarious account of a cross-cultural mix-up in a Brighton supermarket.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Backlash 2.0

Wintertime… and the coding ain’t easy. Sharks are jumping and the bubble is high.

This season’s must-have accessory is the backlash. Jeffrey is modelling his cheeky little number over at A List Apart:

“To you who are toiling over an AJAX- and Ruby-powered social software product, good luck, God bless, and have fun. Remember that 20 other people are working on the same idea.”

Richard MacManus is also sporting his own tailor-made backlash:

“Web 2.0 as an umbrella term has become too problematic a term. It’s simply not worth arguing about any more, in my view.”

Sure, some backlashes are rather gauche, but you’d better get yours on if you want to stay hip.

Seriously though, this kind of railing against the term Web 2.0 was inevitable. Without a clear definition, it succumbs to the most nefarious abuse a buzzword can inflict: it can mean different things to different people.

The only problem with throwing out the Web 2.0 bath water is that we might also discard our technological babies. Ruby isn’t a buzzword, it’s a programming language. Rails isn’t a buzzword, it’s a framework. Ajax isn’t a buzzword… well, okay, Ajax is a buzzword but it does refer to a concrete set of technologies.

Since the term was first coined, people have been conflating Web 2.0 with a disparate set of technologies that just happen to be popular in a certain group of web applications. This cargo-cult mentality has spawned websites that use RSS, Ruby on Rails, Ajax and folksonomies, in the mistaken belief that this automatically confers Web 2.0 status. But, as anyone who was at d.Construct can report, Web 2.0 isn’t a cluster of technologies, it’s a way of thinking about data, design and user experience.

Too wishy-washy? Probably. It isn’t a very good definition but, let’s face it, it’s not a very good term.

So stop using the term. But judge its satellite technologies on their own merits. Just as you shouldn’t use Ruby on Rails just because it’s the hip thing to do, neither should you dismiss it when the backlash is in full swing. Just as adding Ajax to a site for no reason would be pointless, it would be equally foolish to reject the use of Ajax out of hand just because you don’t like the kind of sites currently using it.

Let each technology,methodology or framework rise or fall on its own merits, independent of its association with Terminology 2.0.

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

REST web services interface :: Tagyu

As a follow-up to my post about Yahoo's term extractor, I should point out that Tagyu also has an API. It's RESTful and simple.

wankr beta - collaborative masturbation network

"wankr will be a place for web 2.0 people to gather together in one humongous circlejerk so they can masturbate each other into a sticky frenzy over useless, meaningless bullshit."

Guardian Unlimited Technology | Technology | This is a bubble that won't burst

"Not only did the head of Waterstone's underestimate the internet. Even Rupert Murdoch was caught out"

Digital Web Magazine - CSS Typography

Garret Dimon runs through some of the options available when using CSS to improve readability.

Burninating 3 Candles!

Happy Trogday! All your burnination are belong to us.

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Term extractor

There are a lot of little coding things I’d like to play around with. I have a whole Ta-da list of ideas to investigate and rummage through. Unfortunately, real life tends to get in the way, sucking away all my available time so that few, if any, of these ideas actually get implemented.

Rather than simply letting them wither and die, I thought it would be better to at least drone on about them here so that someone else (with more time than me) can take something and run with it.

One of the things I keep meaning to investigate further is a Web Service from Yahoo called Term Extraction. This little REST request is tucked away on the Yahoo Developer Network. Don’t let the innocuousness fool you. This looks like one powerful API.

You pass it a string of text like, oh say, the contents of a blog post. It then returns either XML or JSON (whichever you prefer) containing the keywords it extracted from the text. In other words, it sifts out all the "noise words" and brings back the terms that appear relevant. In fact, it’s using the very algorithm that the Yahoo search engine uses to rank pages.

Now, I was thinking that it would be fun to mash this up with APIs from other Web Services. What if you treated each returned term as a tag? You could then pass those tags to any number of tag-based services, like Flickr,, or Technorati.

So, instead of the simple "here’s my Technorati profile" or "here are my Flickr pics" on a blog, you could have links that were specific to each individual blog post. If I sent the text of this post to the term extractor, it would return a list of terms like "api", "yahoo", etc. By passing those terms as tags to a service like Technorati or, readers could be pointed to other blog posts and articles that are (probably) related.

That’s the idea anyway. Like I said, I just don’t seem to have much time these days to investigate this kind of thing further. But, at the very least, I can point others to the term extractor and infect people with my meme-ish ravings.

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

David Seah : FYI, I am Not Dave Shea

With a name like Dave Seah, misunderstandings are bound to occur.

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

news @ - Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye - Potential readers can make snap decisions in just 50 milliseconds.

People enjoy being right, so continuing to use a website that gave a good first impression helps to 'prove' to themselves that they made a good initial decision.

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

The Sysadmin Song

Geeky but good.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

iIR: img Image Replacement

Aaron uses image replacement on an image to provide one image for screen and another print. Very clever.

Create an e-annoyance, go to jail | Perspectives | CNET

Unbelievable. Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime in the USA. Bye, bye, whistle blowers.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006


This is fascinating in a voyeuristic way - photographs found on peer to peer networks from people who are (perhaps accidentally) sharing their entire home folder.

Buzzword Hell

Am I buzzword or not?

By the time I get back from Phoenix

I’m back from Arizona and my nose is firmly pressed against the grindstone here in Brighton.

I appear to be over the worst of the jet lag. I have a method for dealing with jet lag that works surprisingly well: when I’m tired, I sleep; when I’m not tired, I don’t sleep. Admittedly that means I’ve been keeping some strange hours over the last few days, but that’s one of the advantages to working from home (one of the others being the ability to work in your pyjamas… well, not your pyjamas specifically - I mean “one’s” pyjamas).

Travelling from Phoenix to Gatwick via Dallas is enough to sap the holiday spirit of goodwill from anyone’s bones. I try not to let these things get to me but there are certain traits and patterns that I see again and again when I’m travelling by air that are really starting to bug me.

Firstly, unless you’re travelling with a cut-rate airline, you have a seat with your name on it. Nobody will take your seat. You do not need to huddle around the boarding entrance when elderly travellers or travellers with toddlers are attempting to board. Likewise, boarding by seat row means just that. Hovering won’t get you on the airplane any quicker - all it does it hold up the people who are supposed to be boarding.

Of course, the people doing the standing and hovering act are probably the ones with the biggest (and I use the term loosely) carry-on luggage. Y’know, I would just love it if, for once, airlines actually enforced their maximum dimensions for carry-on. It would cause absolute chaos but it be worth it just to enjoy the feeling of smugness as I breezed on board with nothing more than a mandolin to go in the overhead compartment.

So, okay, I can understand why you might be in a hurry to get on board - it’s because you have a bag bigger than my checked-in luggage and you want to shove it into an overhead compartment (not necessarily one near your seat; any one will do, right?). But for crying out loud, why the hurry to get off the plane? I mean, you can’t even wait until the seat belt sign is switched off? You do realise that minutes will pass before the doors even open, right?

If I was a pilot I would deliberately stop near the gate, wait a few seconds, then lurch the plane forward suddenly. Anybody injured by that manoeuvre would have it coming.

The rush to deplane is understandable on a short puddle-jump that might be followed by a connecting flight or an oh-so important meeting. But on a transatlantic flight, we are all in the same boat. It doesn’t matter who gets off the plane first, we’re all going to end up standing at the baggage carousel together. They don’t unload the baggage in order of quickest passenger of the plane first.

Ah, the baggage carousel. That wonderful anthropological paradise where you can observe multitude of people saying exactly the same thing into their mobile phones:

“Hi.” … “I just landed.” … “I’m at baggage reclaim right now.” … “Not bad - a little bit of turbulence.”

Airports should provide pre-recorded versions of those messages as a courtesy to their customers.

There are inevitably more people on an aircraft than can be lined up in single file at the baggage reclaim conveyer belt, yet everyone insists on crowding right up to the edge, thereby restrict vision and access for everyone else. If everyone just took One! Step! Back!, then everybody would be able to see when their luggage was coming and step forward at the appropriate moment to retrieve it. I try to get the ball rolling, Imo-like, by maintaining a respectful distance from the conveyer but the other 99 monkeys on my flight won’t play ball and follow my lead. Wisdom of crowds, my ass.

Friday, January 6th, 2006

The Patent Epidemic

An article delving into the crazy, crazy world of the US Patent Office.

The Mystery of Dinner for One - How an obscure British skit has become Germany's most popular New Year's tradition. By Jude Stewart

This is all true. When I lived in Germany, nobody there believed me when I told them that this skit wasn't shown on television... on New Year's Eve... Every. Single. Year!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

Jesus and Mo

A comic strip about Jesus and Mohamed that uses my JavaScript image gallery.

Faster, more intense

George Lucas is infamous for providing limited direction to his actors. His advice generally consists of:

"Faster, more intense."

That more or less encapsulates how 2006 is shaping up for me.

2005 was quite a busy year. I did a lot of traveling, I spoke at some conferences, I wrote a book and I joined forces with Andy and Richard to form Clearleft.

The traveling will continue in 2006. I’ve already got a trip to Ireland planned for February.

More conferences are on the cards. South by Southwest is going to be a blast: the British invasion will be twice as big as last year’s. @media is going to be supersized this year. Details will follow from Patrick soon.

And, just like every other web developer who knows his ass from his elbow, work is hotting up.

Added to that, I’ve got a new blog for 2006. Jessica and I have joined forces to create a food blog. It’s called Principia Gastronomica - a geeky name for geeky foodies. If you’re interested in food (and who isn’t?), go and peruse our humble scribblings. We soft-launched it a month ago and already Jessica is putting me to shame with her prolific output.

Somewhere in there, I need to find the time to fulfill one of my new year’s resolutions, which is to play more tunes. I’ve been neglecting my bouzouki.

My other resolution is, by hook or by crook, to make it to Web Essentials ‘06 in Sydney. I’d better start stalking John and Maxine now.

Fairvue Central >> Bloggies >> Sixth Annual Weblog Awards

Nominations for the 2006 bloggies are open.

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

Sunday, January 1st, 2006

For Many AJAX is Not Degrading, But it Must :: Off the Top ::

" must degrade well. It must still be accessible. It must be usable. If not, it is a cool useless piece of rubbish for some or many people."

Honour goes to Apple gadget guru

Jonathan Ive is getting a CBE. Strong Language

The verb form of “leverage,” like all forms of Cheetos®, is composed mainly of hot air surrounded by a shell of creepily artificial substance.