Archive for March, 2005

Who will be the next Doctor?

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Despite the pre-airing hype and attracting massive interest with the first episode of the revived ‘Doctor Who’, Christopher Eccleston has stepped down for fear of being type cast.  The BBC is running a poll to see who will replace Eccleston as the Doctor but, as you can see form the screen shot below, the Beeb’s code monkeys look like they need the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.


my lo-fi ears are listening to My Favorite Mistake/Sheryl Crow


Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

On my return to the UK from Australasia, I was asked by a website owner to write an article on the first days of my visit to New Zealand based on my posts to my No.8 Wire blog.  Today, I noticed that the edited article, First Impressions, has been published on the British Expat website.


How I wish this were true

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

“Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?”

Messenger memories

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

It is perhaps a little strange that, of all days, it is today that I read Frank Duff’s great piece on Kuro5hin about giving up coding for a life on Toronto’s streets as a bike messenger.  I say this because yesterday, whilst I was out bike riding with sprog No.3 round the docks, I bumped into an old courier friend Sally, who used to ride for the same firm and whom I haven’t have seen for at least 15 years.  These events have brought memories flooding back and have made me more than a little nostalgic for the days I spent as a bike courier in the early eighties.  Whether breaking the winter’s ice on the outdoor toilet at the courier office or wolfing down chocolate pudding and custard in the fuggy atmosphere of of the Court Cafe, I doubt I’ll ever find a job like it.

That said, it appears that whilst the radio technology has improved beyond all measure…

One of the defining items of the courier pastiche is the radio. Though, in fact, these days it is much more likely to be a phone. The phone my particular company uses is a really snazzy unix based number by Motorola with ‘net access via the Telus network. We use text messaging for general communication and each courier has their own PHP generated webpage which they access to view their jobs. When voice communication is needed, the phones also function as MIC radios.

…the choice of bike hardware amongst those in the know remains pretty much the same:

The most common sort of bike you will see couriers on is your standard street bike. Light frame, slick tires, no suspension and between 18 and 24 gears. Among veterans however, the favoured bikes are single speeds. There is a large variety among single speeds as well (fixed drive or freewheel, coaster brakes or hand brakes, etc.) but they all share the advantage of being mechanically simple machines. When you are riding eight hours a day, any part that can fail, eventually will. And probably dramatically. Thus, the simpler the mechanism, the lower the mechanic’s bill.

 1900 bike messenger

From Furl to

Monday, March 28th, 2005

Want to convert your numerous Furl listings to entries?

I have just found a way to do this. Export your Furl listings to an .html file on your desktop. Surf to loader and point it at the .html file, enter your username and password and hit the upload button.

Two hints: take the time to add tags as you go and, as the developer suggests, convert about 40 items at a time, wait for the loading page to refresh and show the upload has completed – then hit BACK and tag & convert the next forty and so on.

Easy like Easter Monday

Monday, March 28th, 2005
Easy like Easter Monday

Chilling in the park…

Sunday sounds

Sunday, March 27th, 2005

With the clocks going forward in the early hours of the morning, I overslept and woke to be greeted by the dull leaden clouds of first day of British Summer Time. I needed to lift my mood and so…


…whilst the rest of the family are out observing their religion, I have spent the morning taking a wander down a musical memory lane with the help of iTunes and eBay. Back in the early ‘80s, I first heard the The Neville Brothers when a friend made me a tape of Neville-isation (remember those days before digital and CDs?). I loved their stuff and, whilst I went on to explore more of their work, this is the album that got me started and remains a favourite.  To get an idea of the seemingly endless variety of music hailing from Louisiana, from southern R&B and Gospel to Cajun and Zydeco, you can do a lot worse…


…than pick up the soundtrack of ‘The Big Easy’, a good movie that owes more than a little to it’s soundtrack. This recording makes a great primer with which you can explore the vibrant and emotive musical forms that are to be found in and around New Orleans – one of the few places that are on my ‘must visit someday’ list. Moving from the sublime to the downright unusual…


…I snapped up a copy of The Crash Test Dummies’ God Shuffled His Feet. This tape was a constant in the FFWD-only player in my rusty old Nissan years ago. Best known for their surprise hit Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, Brad Roberts’ voices his (some say) highbrow lyrics with rumbling vocals against a band who appear to draw influence from pretty much every musical style there is. Revel in something different.

my lo-fi ears are listening to Swimming in Your Ocean/Crash Test Dummies

Doctor Who

Saturday, March 26th, 2005


“If you’re an alien, how come you sound like you’re from up North?” asks Rose suspiciously.  “Other planets have Norths, you know” replies the Doctor cheekily.

Tongue in cheek? Yes.  Faithful in tone and content? Certainly.  The first episode of the all-new Doctor Who has just finished and gets the thumbs up from me and the team of four Doctor Who newbies in this house.  As someone who grew up with the various incarnations of Doctor Who, I think Chris Eccleston makes an excellent ninth Doctor and Billy Piper defies her media moppet image to have a good crack at the new sidekick, Rose.

A great excuse to spend 45 minutes on the sofa with the kids each Saturday evening – as if one were needed.


IMazon, anyone?

Saturday, March 26th, 2005

Instant messaging is one of those things that many younger web users simply can’t image living without. Although it can trace its parentage to the bulletin boards and online services of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, it only really emerged as a distinct entity in it’s own right a little under ten years ago when four Israeli programmers released ICQ to an unsuspecting world. Before long, other pretenders for the IM crown appeared, including AIM, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. Like many, I spend a fair proportion of my days and evenings with one form of instant messenger or another running behind whatever else I’m doing. During work hours, I use Jabber and Lotus Sametime to talk to my team and colleagues the world over via a secure intranet connection. For family and other folks beyond the firewall and when I’m on my own time, I rely heavily on Trillian to hook me into the AOL, Yahoo, MSN and ICQ networks and Skype to provide VOIP connectivity when I need it – and a great job they do too.

That said, there are folks out there who are pushing and stretching instant messaging, moving away from the established chat, voice, video and ftp stuff and tackling enterprise-style projects. One of these folks is fellow London blogger Riaan van Schoor, whose company Inside C is developing Person to Application Messaging (PAMs) solutions. These ‘technolutions’ enable the use of IM clients to interact with data sources and websites which normally require portal access. If this sounds a little dry and lacking in fizz, there’s one example you can try immediately that might help demonstrate the possibilities. One implementation of Inside Messenger lets you search your regional Amazon site from an IM client window with no need to fire up a browser until you’ve found the item you want to purchase.

Rather than take my word for it, fire up AOL or MSN in your favoured IM client and try the following:

  1. Add the following buddies to the relevant contact list:
  2. Fire up a chat window for that buddy, type the word ‘domain’ and hit the ‘Send’ button. You will receive an automated message in return offering you a choice of localised Amazon domains to choose from. Enter the number for your choice.*
  3. You’ll now be offered the main menu from which you can search for CDs, books, DVDs, iPods, software, electronics and more.
  4. Go explore.

As you will see from the screen grab below, where I’m shopping for a Kasabian CD, the Inside Messenger PAM is simple to access and use. For those who don’t need bells and whistles or prefer less ‘noise’ in their online shopping, this might be an indication of another way to interact online. If you need a little more warmth in you online dealings, simply type “call me XXX” using your name and it will be used from then on. If you like what you see and have an idea for an enhancement, why not post it to the Inside Messenger forum?


* Riaan mailed me to point out that “you don’t have to type DOMAIN. You can type anything to get started, it will force you to the menu at some point.” There goes my career as a technical manual writer!

my lo-fi ears are listening to Club Foot/Kasabian

A River Runs Through It

Saturday, March 26th, 2005


There are many things wrong with London.  However, views like this one on the Thames riverside cyclepath last night help to remind me that many live in places and conditions that are far worse. Small mercies and all that.

my lo-fi ears are listening to Club Foot/Kasabian