A splash of wine, a home made pizza and some tomatoes we grew will have to do until I get back from the Alps...
A splash of wine, a home made pizza and some tomatoes we grew will have to do until I get back from the Alps...
Two interesting articles from Ben Hammersley and Tom Coates, both in The Guardian. "Second Sight" has Tom explaining that we should not shy away from the oncoming hordes of new bloggers from Yahoo and AOL. Instead we should improve our tools and work out how to keep finding the wheat in the chaff.
Extended version of the comment I left on Plasticbag.org — I think that it is an interesting article, I think it is important to deal with the oncoming situation rather than sit wishing it would go away.
Ensuring that people's voices are heard against the power curve is an interesting challenge and aspires to create loosely connected and communicating networks of people. Each group of people has different members and hopefully the non-overlapping edges of these circles amount to enough churn to stop the insular nature of the in-group. We all operate in our wells of 150 of people, weblogging is a way of at least hearing other narratives, even if you never meet the actual people, you can at least see the world from their point of view.
It is a kind of low-level pattern matching AI that is needed, trying to classify all of this woud be madness. The tools are out there, but rudimentary. the various aggregators and filters, all allow us to create a unique picture of the web for ourselves. Finding interesting ways to allow persistant rich communication that does not exclude people from participating is probably going to involve modifying how email works, Brent Simmons has been thinking out loud about RSS and email. He links though to an article by Chuq Von Rospach on the same topic and looking at mailing lists. Chuq used to run several mailing lists I've been on and he knows his stuff.
Ben Hammersley writes about RSS and newsreaders, giving a great overview of why RSS rocks and how it is putting control of finding what you want from the web into your hands. Quite introductory stuff, but a great grounding in explaining it to other people.
Taking all of this together points to a user controlled collaborative future which gives us richer communties to join in with and hopefully will bring some of the richness of mailig lists, with the presistance of web communities and the personality of weblogs. Maybe kind of like the Pattie Maes personal agents.
Fascinating notes from Matt who is at Hypertext03 at the University of Nottingham, where I used to work. Hypertext conferences are always good value, lots of interesting ideas sparkling away about how people relate to and find information. I've been to them twice, in 94 and again in 97, presenting at a workshop on adaptive hypertext, for more on this field, look at the ah mailing list. It feels quite nostalgic to read Matt's notes, definitely makes me wish that I was there.
Dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate and so much nicer too. The health benefits are mainly down to anti-oxidants in dark chocolate, which the milk proteins in milk chocolate bind to and thus you lose the benefits, as they cannot be absorbed.
So eat dark chocolate, coffee and red wine - yum.
Woman's Hour on Radio4 had a package about women and climbing on Tuesday. Llisten to programme, 10 minute segment. The segment starts with some interviews at the Castle of women climbers and then there is an interview with Gwen Moffat, who was the first female British mountain guide, and Anne Arran, who was UK climbing champion a few years ago. They make interesting points about the role of women in climbing, the main being that it is more or less an equal sport now, many woman can climb as hard as men and often do it with more finesse. The sport has also changed radically since Gwen started climbing in the 1940s. She has written a book, Space Below My Feet, which collects her experiences from the earlier days of climbing.
Camelback and similar drinking systems are a really great idea, you can sip on the move and ensure that you stay hydrated. However a dangling hose and dusty conditions can mean that your drinking end gets a dunk in the grit and ends up manky. One good idea I read a while back, not sure of source, was to cut a small hole in the base of a camera film case and then slide this onto the hose, removing the mouthpiece first. You can then use the cap to enclose the end in a protective box. So, remove mouth piece, cut hole in film canister base, slide onto hose, replace mouth piece and then put lid on film case. This works perfectly for most straight mouthpieces, the newer bent camelback ones don't work as well. I use a platypus, so don't have a problem. Makes drinking dust and dirt free, thus more hygenic.
Regular readers will know that I like to hike and climb. One book I have found essential in these endeavours is a decent book on stretching. My favourite book is Bob Anderson's book, Stretching which has been released in a 20th anniversary revised edition. It is only 9 quid and a bargain.
Clearly written and explained with simple line drawings, he explains how to do each stretch and what you should feel. He covers about 15 sports in the first edition I have, the newer version should cover more.
If you go to the gym, hike, run climb or bike then buying this is a great idea. I've recommended it to several people and they all like it.
Phil Askey from Digital Photography Review has reviewed the A70 (amazon) and has done a much more thorough job than I have time to do.
Some quick additional thoughts, the camera is excellent and for the money highly recommended, especially if you are familar with the Canon SLR layout. Simple and straightforward to use and also offering sufficient manual control over white point and aperture or shutter speed. It is also ready to shoot quite quickly from poweron and doesn't suffer too badly from shutter lag, you tend to get what you intend to take, except in really fast moving events.
Some caveats, the lens had barrel distortion at the minumum focal length, but this is quite common. The screen needs to really be read straight on and suffers in bright sunlight.
You really need to budget for rechargable batteries and additional memory (128MB compact flash) too.
The camera offers some fun and useful additional features, movie mode being one, but the panoramic mode is quite well thoughtout and I've used it several times to take scenics.
One of the better 2-300 pound cameras around at the minute. It has replaced the 35mm compact that I used to carry, but I'm still taking my EOS 30 if I intend to take real pictures. A perfect take anywhere camera.
I've been in London nearly six years and for the first time made it to Borough Market today.
It is really great, excellent fresh tasty produce, ranging from smoothies, to oils, veg and fruit and superb meats, highly recommended.
Don't leave it as long as I have, head down there on Saturday between 9 and 4.
Off the back of a somewhat heated work conversation on the origin of pizza, Lucy went and found the possibly definitive history of pizza. Contained within this document is the origin of margherita plus the source of Napoli and New York's pizza fame.
Short review of North Lees campsite.
North Lees Campsite:
Detail map from streetmap and overview including route from Chesterfield, nr J29 on M1
Phone number: 01433 650838
This is the nearest campsite to Stanage Edge, as you can see from the maps above, it is literally a 15 minute walk to the cliff.
The campsite is really quite nice and a great base for climbing on Gritstone (the rockfax book).
The picture above is of the main shower and washing block. It has one shower and three toilets and sinks for both men and women, but the shower is excellent, better than many in some hotels I've been in. Also it is free with hot water on demand. There are two big deep sinks for doing the washing up in too.
The site is clean and well looked after, with platforms made from pallets for cooking on, to avoid scorching the grass. The ground is nice and soft, so easy to get tent pegs into, though the site gently slopes as in the picture above. There is parking for about 30 odd cars and there are three main areas for picthing your tent in, most of them are not beside your car. The main area behind the block is probably the best, disabled access information.
The site is run by the Peak District National Park and they have specified a good maximum number level of around 60 pitches, which means even when full the place is quite spacious and pretty quiet. They also have a small family of quite cute black cats who get a lot of fussing.
It is not too expensive at 2 pounds for a car and 4 pounds for an adult. Highly recommended for a place to stay whilst climbing.
The Guardian have launched a new weblog aimed at removing all agricultural subsidies worldwide, it is called KickAAS. Thanks to Tom Coates and Matt Jones for highlighting it first.
Interesting to use a third party blogging tool to create a political platform for raising awareness of a very important issue. It gives them some freedom to actively promote an issue and lend support to it, without it being directly on The Guardian's actual website.
I wholeheartedly agree with the idea, agricultural subsidies have been a bind for the EU via the CAP for decades, producing food that no-one wants and maintaining a hold over land that could otherwise be used for other activities.
The stated ambition of several American cereal and basic food stuff companies (name escapes me right now) is to have everything that is eaten using some of their products. This is supported via the GATT and other agreements to the point whereby it is impossible for a local farmer in Indonesia to grow and sell crops in a manner profitable for him to make a living, therefore he cannot participate in trade even with his neighbours so stays in poverty.
Well done to The Guardian for taking a stand on this issue and promoting it from within their paper. It'll be interesting to see how this develops and whether issue based weblogs are taken up by other broadsheets or if KickAAS becomes another pressure group.
GCSE to become optional at head's descretion. I was in the first year of GCSE, so I suppose it is time for a change, it is the only area in education that seems to not have changed in a decade or more.
Now people are asking "is gsce too easy ?" Grades have improved every year for twenty odd in a row. The Government claim that there are rising teaching standards, maybe a comparison between papers 5-10 years apart might show if they have got easier. Obviously the curriculum changes would need to be taken into account.
So will dropping GCSE leave the British educational system even narrower as compared with continental europe, or does the combination of AS and A2 mean that there is enough flexibility to have more than three subjects. The classic science combination of maths, physics and chemistry is not exactly broad based. The French Baccalaureate system appealed to me when I did my A-levels in 1990. Having some breadth in your education makes for more interesting education and , I feel, gives people a better basis on which to relate to the world.
Though A-level results have broken records again and people are now doubting the validity of these exams too. I guess if 20 odd percent (approx) of people who sit Maths get an A grade then it is kind of hard to assess who is better. The Guardian have a results coverage special section.
Lastly in this educational round up, University choice to happen after A-level grades are handed out, also this article. Now this I think is a great idea, even if it takes five years to figure out how to make UCAS accommodate it. Deciding where to go on the basis of known grades has been the priviledge of the year out crowd until now and it must be a lovely feeling. Applying and missing the grades or doing better than expected must be disappointing or frustrating. It seems to be that it will also even out the assignment of places within the university system.
So the major examination milestones of my life are all changing again, it seems that no British Government is happy to leave anything alone for more that one or two years. Education is an important element of the Government's offering to the public and it needs to match the needs of the different abilities and social groups that we have. Not everyone wants to go to university and as such it is important to have a set of qualifications at 16, at least it used to be.
Broader qualifications at A-level would be a good thing, combined with choosing your degree place once you have the actual grades might improve things, but then leave it alone for a few years. Otherwise how can you know what is having an effect.
Another interesting thread from the UKclimbing.com website, this one on how long it might take the Alps to recover and rebuild the permafrost that holds the mountains together. A variety of mountaineers and glacier researchers have contributed and it is still open for discussion. There is some good stuff in there, plus quite a lot of ecological banter.
I like mountains, you might have noticed. However to get to real mountains I usually need to fly, this is not very good for the environment and is heavily implicated in global warming, there is a good comment section on climate change, on the guardian website.
The Alps are falling to bits around Mont Blanc and on the Matterhorn, everything is falling. Most of the classic snow and rock routes are unclimbable. See this thread on the uk climbing alpine forum, it has been written by someone who is in Chamonix at the minute.
So am I destroying the environment by flying too much. I like cheap airfares as much as the next person, but will these quick weekends in France destroy some of what I travel for? Can flying be made more accountable in terms of the pollution it creates or will it always be a protected industry because of the benfits of tourism to the country. No country is going to impose high taxes on aviation fuel first, as they will loose out immediately. Though flying is not the main contributor at less than 5 percent, it is the fastest growing one. Recent reports have also said that even cutting green house gas emissions to the levels specified in the Kyoto treaty might not make any real impact, not that the USA or Australia even agreed to those minimal reductions.
I try to save electricity when ever I can, I recycle and use public transport, but it all seems small beer in comparision. Global warming as a weapon of mass destruction, perhaps this does not over state the case.
Fun bit of branding from Marmite and Nikon, extreme sandwich making. Now I don't like Marmite and I'm a Canon user, still I can imagine the fun that was had in the ad agency brainstorm over this...
Found this serendipitously whilst googling for something else entirely on blackbeljones, the citypoems project.
You can find signs across the city of Leeds prompting you to send a text message to a number and in return you get sent a poem as a text message written by people who live in Leeds mainly.
Lovely idea I think, using real physical space to cover a city in a virtual overlay of poetry, which is perfect for the medium at the minute. I like these kinds of virtual physical interplays.
Business Week have a special online section on Apple this week. It makes for interesting reading, with one columnist justifying writing about Apple week after week because Apple is essentially the only innovator in the computer business, corporate desires removing any interest from the standard Windows laptop.
Another article suggests that Apple may become the new Sony, citing the success of the iPod as the basis for this. Steve Jobs said that Apple would "innovate through the downturn", when the stock market bubble burst. They have done that well with a series of new products over the past few years, starting with iMovie and iTunes then the iPod and the focus on laptops.
What is interesting from this is not the news that Apple is a cool company, but that it is being talked about in the business press in this way. Apple are the industry innovator and it is important that they are around. Apple's focus on media content and creation is I think key, people need tools to organise and distribute the digital content that they are creating. Otherwise they will end up drowning in content, with no way to organise it. They have done a great job with music, I think that iPhoto needs some work on large collections. The .Mac programme needs some work, I'm due to renew in a while and I'm not sure that it is really worth the money, they need to provide more services that are unique and compelling. Products like TypePad are the kind of quality internet offering that Apple should be providing, the .Mac homepage stuff is so 1999.
In terms of high end video, they have done amazing things through development work on Final Cut Pro and clever acquisitions, this array of Hollywood friendly tools gives some respect in these circles.
Apparently Apple got the iTunes Music Store to have all five major labels on board as Apple has three things, Jobs as a media saavy front man. Through the iPod and clever product design they have the attention of the people who create street cred or the people who influence style choices. Lastly they have a tight business relationship with the people who create content, that gives them some flexibility.
Essentially it doesn't matter that Apple's market share is small, just so long as they continue to have enough money for research and development to keep creating compelling products. Sony created desirable consumer products, but seems to have lost its focus. It is at war with itself internally over the success of the Playstation. Apple can move in on the computer related consumer electronics end of the market, partnering as they did to create the iPod. Sony will continue to make broadcast products and news video cameras etc, but there is an opening for Apple, they have the brand and the credibility.
It is hard to be sure what they might create, but it will involve digital media in some form, but probably not digital stills or DV cameras. A phone looks unlikely, as they are too difficult and expensive to test. Collaboration on a smart phone might be a possibility, tools like iSync and good bluetooth make dealing with a phone a pleasure, it is connected to my computer giving me the same information on both devices. I still feel that the world is going to become more laptop centric so I see less of a place for the pda type device, but a cleverer location aware camera might be an idea. You take pictures of places, so it might be good to record where and when they were taken.
Clive Sinclair has plans to release an update the C5 next year, see fan sites and an old review. In an article on the BBC, he is interviewed after taking a ride on a Segway.
His C6 is under wraps until next year, it should hopefully be an interesting machine. Clive Sinclair epitomises at times the British manufacturing entrepreneur, far from the bullish American and not the production line Far eastern approach, he built machines that are best described as quirky. It used to be said that the British invent things and the Japanese make them, things have changed a bit, but there is still a ring of truth to it. Even the empeg in car mp3 player was sold and has now been discontinued. Dyson is one of the few to survive.
However the UK owes its gaming heritage to Clive Sinclair for the ZX80, 81 and most of all the Spectrum, without them the UK would not have the position in the technical world that it does. Each time I use my mac it reminds me of swapping my old spectrum for cashback on my first Mac LC, so it sort of lives on.
I caught the beginning of a very interesting new Radio4 series this morning. It is called Auto Motive and the first episode followed the beginning of the impact of the car on our culture. The emphasis is largely on the UK and the USA and makes interesting listening, valid for this week at least.
Peter Day presents and discussed the first cars in the UK and the London to Brighton run. He then moves to the USA and looks at the Model-T Ford, that was pitched as a means for farm workers to get the means to bring produce to market.
The programme make an interesting conclusion that the car inadvertantly started the urban sprawl and gradual social decline that Robert Putnam discussed in Bowling Alone.
Neil Gresham on hard climbing from last weekend's Observer. He is interviewed on how to climb at the hardest level in the UK. In a very short article he talks about the psychological aspect to it, thinking you will climb the route and also talks about the physical aspects of it too. Interesting to see climbing getting reasonably high billing in the sports world.
In yesterday's Independent, there was an article on how weapons are being disguised in cameras. Apparently this is a common place to hide weapons, should make bring a camera on to a plane a barrel of laughs. Hopefully it won't encourage a clampdown on carry on bags on flights, though I managed to get a hand inspection of 400 asa slide film in Florence when I flew there recently.
How weird is this...
While sitting at your desk make clockwise circles with your right foot.
While doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
What direction is your foot going now?