Friday, March 31, 2006

Wagamama ditches HP in favour of Symbol

Wagamama adopt Symbol devicesSilicon has an article about the Wagamama restaurant chain opting for rugged Symbol mobile computers to reduce the maintenance costs. Glad the restaurant chain read my feedback form in late 2002 :) The article, I think rather diplomatically, says that Wagamama "flirted with using iPaqs". Come on. Back in late 2002 the Soho branch was using iPaqs. In 2003 they were using iPaqs. Their recipe book of 2004 shows staff using iPaqs (amusingly seemingly struggling in the background with a pair of them on page 29). Flirting? Give me a break. We used iPaqs for customer service duties in 2001. Within 3 months we'd killed all their batteries. Within 6 we'd dropped them (Compaq in those days of course).

Let's get real for a sec. iPaqs are not designed to do what the Symbol devices do. HP need not make any apology. It is a white collar device. Symbols are made to take a battering on the front line.

1. I'm surprised at Wagamama taking so long to see the light.
2. I'm amused by Silicon apparently not wishing to offend the mighty HP (and their advertising revenue).

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Engineering vs Politics

I'm delighted to report that the March meeting of the Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEE) in Bournemouth drew a larger audience than the meeting of the British National Party (BNP) in the same town and the same month.

Great for engineering. Possibly great for politics too, but I'll leave that for you to judge.

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Traffic and Travel

I don't know if anyone has tried a Traffic and Travel blog with mobile updates yet but here's my attempt:

The M25 is running ok clockwise from Junction 10 to 11. A minor two car incident at 11 is slowing things a bit before a larger fenderbender between 11 and 12 really slows things up. The volume of traffic then seems to make for slow going through to at least the junction with the M4.

The Anticlockwise M25 is running smoothly over the same stretch.

The M3 northbound exit slip at Junction 3 is backing up onto the motorway.

Now imagine if you aggregated similar blogs from other 'traffic watchers' with a useful search tool, you could build quite a useful real time travel news feed. Even better, if I had a mobile gui to save the typing and improve the data order.

If you make your fortune from this idea, I'm prepared to barter my "prior art".

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Should Google manually intervene with its blessed algorithm?

GoogleLet's get one thing on the table. Google's brilliant. Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with a genius idea and executed it well. I can't wait to see others trying to muscle in when their patent expires in 2011. However, the aggregator sites seriously obstruct the search results in many cases.

I'm doing a simple and quick search engine optimisation exercise for a legitimate traditional small business in a small UK town. When I enter the town and the nature of the business into Google, the first actual business returned isn't until page 3 of the returns. The rest are aggregators. Now, if a listing adds some value, then I don't have a problem, but they seem to solely exist to extract money from the likes of my client. Google seems to have overcome any possible ethical problem with tampering with results, so I wonder how much of an effort it would be or whether there would be legal consequences from disrupting the aggregators' business.

It leaves me wondering where Autonomy are with their Baysian search engine. They have their IDOL search product, but aren't really there in the consumer web domain. It could be really handy at times like this to have something which 'understands' context. Although I guess as soon as people know the rules, they apply them to their own ends.

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A train, Angelina, and Me

Now I'd say that I'm fairly upbeat about the state of our train services. Certainly, the carriages are more comfortable than the ones I remember as a teenager. Not so long ago- let's round it up to a decade or so. I depend on the railways to get me to business appointments several times a week, and it's saying something that I abandon the car to do so. Therefore, when I have a bad experience like today, I try and be sympathetic. For example, a delay in bringing a ramp to our carriage at one station to let a wheelchair user alight, swallowed up to 10 commuter minutes (equivalent to half a Sunday hour).

But basically, if the idea of standing (with nothing in particular to even lean on other than content, but intolerant, seat dwellers) for a good hour* appeals to you, then I can recommend dropping into your local travel agent and booking yourself onto the 1635 from Waterloo to Weymouth, Mon-Fri. I dare say you can do it on the interweb these days. I dread to think what the 1705, 1720 and 1735 are like.

The one redeeming fact was that I was able to watch the best part of Mr and Mrs Smith over someone's shoulder on their laptop- albeit without sound. I've seen the film before so the dialogue wasn't particularly important. As a side note, it was interesting to be able to see on how good an actor Mr Pitt can be.

*For the exact duration of my stand, find out when Angelina Jolie's character (Jane?) fires the shot gun through the wall at her husband from the stairs. You won't be reaching to dial for Norris McWhirter but to put this into perspective I booked flights to Carcassonne, France for less than today's return to London. No matter what you say about the lo cost airline in question, I figure I'm due a seat. I might land at the wrong aerodrome down the road, but I'll have a seat.

And another thing. I always considered using the train to be the green thing to do. It seems that it might not be all that simple. More later...

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Why should I listen to film critics?

Whilst I was preparing my ClickDinner this evening, I was listening to a fairly negative review of Basic Instinct 2 on BBC Radio 4's Front Row. On moving to the lounge I switched on to a glowing review of the same film on Channel 5's Movie Lounge.

At the heart of the Radio 4 review was a "it's so bad, did they do it deliberately?" theme. I would concede that on that level they felt the audience might find it fun.

Now, I'd never have bet my mortgage on the word of a film critic, but this was a particularly stark example.

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Great weather for Ducks

The Ouse, York, in floodIt's a funny old world. One minute I'm listening to the radio talk of hose pipe bans and 'essential use' restrictions. The next I'm watching the Ouse in York stretch the flood defences.

I know one downfall doesn't solve the water company's problems, but you wonder whether this is something to do with a changing climate- or 'twas it always thus?

As a Brit, I'm pleased to have managed several months before blogging about the weather.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tech Acceptance- Verbalised Trademarks

Don't worry, I looked up the word "verbalised" in the dictionary and with mixed emotions I have to report that it really does exist. At least, I've missed the opportunity to be the first person to think of it. However, if anyone is interested, I'd like to coin the phrase "verbalised trademarks" which Google has zero returns for (in either the verbalized or verbalised form).

This talk of Google, brings us to what I mean by verbalised trademarks. In an earlier blog I commented on BBC Radio 4 having a podcast and how this is a measure of technology acceptance. Well, building on this, another measure of super-acceptance is when your technology trademark becomes a verb. It is something we have striven for in my business, although that only applies in the niche we operate in- as sort of a term of endearance.

It won't be long until the verb "google" is entered into the dictionary and is joined by derivatives of the verbs "to photoshop" and "to skype". This is nothing new- unless Zip is a trademark, the earliest example which springs to mind is "to hoover". Obviously in this case a proper noun has become common aswell as a verb being created. On that note, why has Biro never become a verb when it has achieved common noun status? I doubt whether google or photoshop will become generic nouns to describe that area of functionality, but skype may yet stand a chance. Watch this space.

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York Breweries serve up Samplers

A great idea from York Breweries is this tray of 4 third-of-a-pint samplers. They now have 3 pubs in York and although their best known ale, Wonky Donkey (named after the local nickname for the Three Legged Mare- their pub in Petergate) was not on offer last night, this would be a great way to open a long evening. And what a long evening it could be with the local ales being complemented by a range of Belgian beers.

Their website doesn't seem to be ready yet, but watch this space.

Interestingly, despite many informative posters, blackboards and leaflets I saw no mention of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Odd that.

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Benti at Buzz, York

Benti at BuzzIf I'd asked you to guess where I'd have ended up for a Mothering Sunday meal in York, the category with the fewest votes would have probably been "Japanese". So, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself chowing down some sashimi in York's Buzz Bar on Sunday evening.

It was a great meal which everyone seemed to enjoy- even those new to the delights of benti, teriyaki and tataki- although I think I was the only one to have any raw fish. That's right. It's not all raw fish!

What was a surprise was to see flyers in a Japanese Shop in Coppergate, York advertising a Leeds Sushi restaurant called SiSushi. Not a wasabi about Buzz. I wonder how two such synergistic businesses in a modest sized city have avoided joining forces in some way.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Not so grim up North

The Crescent, IlkleyIf I'd been the owner of
The Crescent in Ilkley staring out at this scene on Friday lunchtime, I might have been concerned. However, one word with the maitre'd and he'd have dabbed my financial brow by pointing out that it was only midday and every table in this picture is actually booked. Not only that, but once the revellers turned up, they would be knocking back the vino. Not quite the scene you expect for a provincial town but it ain't as grim up north as some people want you to believe.

Timothy Taylor BeerI understand that the venue may be listed in The Daily Telegraph's "lunch for a fiver" promo, but this was proving a popular lunchtime spot by any measure.

For those wanting the usual incisive gluttony review (and in the words of the locals)- "it was nay t'bad 'n' proper beer n'all".

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pushy or keen? PC World

It's a fine line in retail between trying to engage customers in long and profitable relationship and coming on too strong. This morning, a Sunday, I saw a young mother juggling her restless kids trying to buy an antivirus package. Not a large personal retail commitment by her, and clearly all she wanted was to get on with the day. However, the keen young salesman knew his job was to sell in the options so off he went ,"how do you wish to pay?".

"Credit card" she said, wrestling a toddler down the aisle.

"Do you pay that off monthly?" he continued.

As the conversation went out of earshot I had to wonder whether it would have been more appropriate to just make her experience as easy as possible. That way, she might come back again.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Podcast tech acceptance reaches BBC Radio4

If ever there was a benchmark that a technology has gone mainstream, is when it's adopted by the listeners of Radio4. Having said that, the launch of their Newspod was met with enquiries about "what happened to the old spod?". Ah well...

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Mobile Phones have Killed the Camera

Nokia LogoAccording to the 80s song, video might have killed the radio star, but if an interview with a Nokia Exec in the Financial Times is anything to go by, mobile phones are set to kill the portable video star. Ok, so some poetic license, but they have already pushed the camera to the wayside. If not actually killing the camera, the mobile phenomenon has certainly hugely restructured the supply chain.

My film munching Minolta SLR has been sat under the bed for about two years and even my digital camera has not seen the light of day since way before Christmas. Instead, my Nokia N70 (and 6230 before it) have been an ever present camera about my person. With the ease of transfer between devices, I haven't printed to hardcopy in months, but when I last did, I used an Internet based service that delivered to my door for a very reasonable fee.

Now, I'm building quite a sizeable music collection on my phone and any thought of needing an iPod or iRiver is long gone. Video quality doesn't quite compete with camcorders yet, but then, I never felt the need to buy a camcorder.

So it looks like world domination is in order. I wonder when my idea of Nokia doing a joint venture with Victorinox, the makers of Swiss Army Knives, will happen? Just think, all those tools in a phone form factor. You read it here first. More realistically, I think Swatch's design concepts could work well for a mobile phone maker. They should look into that.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Brown trying too hard with Presentation

Aside from all the debate about the content of Gordon Brown's latest budget, I'm going to do something very unpopular and bring up his presentation style. Ok, so he has been accused of being brusque and straight talking in the past and we've all nodded in collective disapproval. However, on seeing the new, shiny, slimmer and smilier Brown today, I'm left wanting the old one back. In a leader, you want to know where you stand and today's performance was trying too hard to say "look at me, I'm the Prime Minister elect". Gordon, we liked it how you were. Don't polish it... be yourself.

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Westminster follows Stratford and Kent with WiMax

Finally, WiMax is starting to gain some traction in the UK. With the idea having struggled to find its role amongst WiFi, broadband and EDGE/3G; the standard taking a long time to be ratified and the propensity for investors to favour other opportunities through the early noughties, there are finally some commercial services coming through.

After trials by Pipex in Stratford and Telabria in Kent, Urban WiMax are launching their WiMax service across customers in Westminster with plans for other cities to follow. The service will offer businesses up to 10Mb symmetrical internet access at up to half the BT rate for SDSL.

I'm close to one of the world's largest WiMax equipment manufacturers but have never 'consumed' their product, so I'd like to know if there are any differences from S or A DSL services. Latency springs to mind. Let me know your thoughts.

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Vista Delayed

The big news in the technology and business arenas is an announcement by Microsoft that Windows Vista is delayed. Actually, in their true up-beat style what MS have said is that they've "updated the roadmap".

All the big tech blogs are covering this, but what interests me is that Bill Gates made his keynote speech at MIX06 just the day before. I wonder if the news was kept under wraps until afterwards?

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Rejuvinating Art Deco Architecture

Vulcan HouseWhen I was an excitable young engineer I was sponsored by a company who was, if you listened too carefully to management, hamstrung with having to work in some run down old buildings in West London. Everything was considered a constraint or a chore. There were some much heralded concrete spalling works intended to buy us a few more years in this dreadful hole. On a recent trip on the Heathrow Express I was able to take a trip down memory lane and saw one of these buildings- Phoenix House. Just as I expected, it is really run down. Just like I remember it was, but with smashed windows to boot.

But then, I saw something amazing. A far sighted developer has seen the buildings for what they really are- prime examples of Art Deco architecture. One of the sister buildings (it used to be called Vulcan House I think) has been turned into highly desirable office accommodation. I wonder if they've kept the name? By the way, I think I got lucky with the blur of the train on the Great Western (Hail Brunel)- it adds to the pic.

Phoenix HouseIf I remember rightly, this is the building where microwaves were first discovered or applied, being part of the EMI "His Master's Voice" factory complex bordering Blyth Road, Hayes which turned from producing gramaphones and music, to churning out munitions in the First World War. Activities then broadened into other areas of Defence engineering until the 1990s under the names ThornEMI and Thomson-CSF. These buildings tell quite a story, including employing royalty (perhaps a later blog), it would be a shame to see them disappear when they can be put to such good use.

The manufacturing facilities and management suite was in a building called Apollo which is currently in the same sorry state as Phoenix House. Just a glance on Google Earth (513015N002537W) and you can see the extent of the redevelopment by the cool new car park layout and the whiter-than-white lick of paint. I wonder whether all the buildings are scheduled for redevelopment?

When will Phoenix rise from the flames?

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The future of the Millennium Dome

Three piles of scrap- The Millennium Dome is the one in the middleI took this photo earlier today of a load of scrap material. In the foreground is a metal reclaim merchant. Ha ha.

The Millennium Dome was commissioned by the Government and designed by Richard Rogers, as a showpiece for the Millennium celebrations. Marred by controversy, this amazing building -the World's largest dome- lies empty and with an uncertain future. Bidders were invited to submit proposals, but after the winning bidder, Nomura, withdrew this left merely deflated discussions with the Plan B team, Legacy, who wish to turn it into some sort of technology business park. Sadly, it seems that it has lost its ability to excite and spur the imagination. I had wondered whether the London 2012 Olympics might be a cause to bring it back to life, but it seems that politicians dare not utter its name. Let's build a new velodrome instead shall we? Don't tell me it's not big enough.

For all its grandeur on the south bank of the Thames, it's quite a sad sight... especially when framed between two mounds of scrap metal on the opposite bank!

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Carry-on Airport

No, not the name of a film starring Babs, Kenneth and Sid, but an observation at a trend in our airports. For quite a while air travellers have tried to avoid the wait at the baggage reclaim areas by optimising their overnight inventory and shoe horning it into the largest bag they can get away with as carry-on. A whole new genre of bags have been developed to just come in under the airline rules (plus whatever smiling sweetly will let you get away with).

Now, the low cost airlines are set to accelerate the phenomenon by charging extra for hold baggage and encouraging us to jam everything into the overhead lockers. Makes perfect business sense. Baggage systems and the associated costs of handling bags is not trivial. Add in the fact that laptops need to be separated at the scanners and things are starting to spiral.

Already it has got to the point where I select my queue at the security based on who is statistically likely to be carrying their worldly goods in their flight bag- tutting at whoever can't do without conditioner for just one night or scoffing at those who have not down sized from a brush to a comb. A short comb at that. I'm also used to protecting my head when my plane has landed at the destination and said bags are swung out of the overhead bins. I can't complain, I'm one of these air warriors. I admit to being able to cram my overnight goodies into a space the size of an ice cream tub (Wall's, not Ben & Jerry's- who do you think I am, Gandhi?). However, I dread the logical conclusion this is all heading towards for the air travel experience.

I wonder what the space in the holds of aircraft will be used for in the future? Will aircraft design change with the times?

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Monday, March 20, 2006

TAG Aviation Points mean Prizes

TagAviation CardFurther to my recent posting about TAGFarnborough, the owners have launched a sort of loyalty/account card. TAG's interests in exec aviation are far broader than 'just' Farnborough, with dozens of jets globally. Now they’ve introduced the TAG Aviation JetCard which is, apparently, designed to simplify your travel needs. By 'your' I clearly mean if you've taken time out from counting your money to either breathe or read my blog. This card is not about getting you to the front of the EasyJet boarding queue.

To be considered, you must be in the ball park of deciding whether the $100,000, $250,000 or $500,000 deposit is appropriate. With that small matter out of the way, all you need to do is telephone TAG when you want to fly, and they’ll get it all sorted. As this post goes to press, I'm not sure whether Thresher or Sainsbury's are affiliated to the scheme.

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Dorset a technological black hole?

I wouldn't have said so... until the arrival of a new HP printer in our office today was met with awe as we all stood around watching it reel off it's first dozen duplex pages. How sad are we?

On the flip side we have a mutual blog-back-slapping in the finding of another local blogger called Matt. To be fair, he found me. Once I've been scrumpin' apples I'll learn how to use a search engine :)

I'll be staying tuned to Matt's musings.

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Filming on the beach

SandbanksThis photo has the digital zoom cranked up so the quality isn't great, but there was a film crew on the beach on Saturday, seemingly shooting a music video or something. There were three kids (two girls and a boy I think) with Xs and Ys printed on their tops being led through a dance routine by a choreographer. The cameramen etc were on standby and, I think, waiting for their security folks to keep the scene out to sea clear of dog walkers and nosey parkers like me.

If anyone's watching TV and that rings bells, then let me know. I'm curious to know what it was all about.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Unimaginative F1 Coverage

I think that ITV's Formula One coverage in the UK is extremely professional, high in quality and rammed with pundits who know their thing. However, it strikes me that their use of in-race graphics has moved on very little in the last few decades. An opportunity is being missed, by someone, to make the sport more entertaining. By someone, and I'm not terribly well informed about this, I probably mean Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management organisation which controls the broadcast rights and, so I'm told, retains a tight grip over the production feed itself.

Just watch the World Rally Championship and you start to realise how much more understandable and exciting the appropriate use of production technology can be to a sport. Formula 1 has increasingly become a sport of tyre and fuelling strategy and this often means that the competition for a position at the end of the race is between two cars who are not racing head to head for the other 50 laps. With a little imagination it would be fantastic to play out this race.

Last weekend Raikkonen came from being nowhere in the coverage before I stepped into the shower, to 3rd place on my exit from the shower. Why could his progress not be tracked as a sub plot to the big story nearer the beginning? Today in Malaysia, even the commentators were unsure as to where Button was as Alonso exited the pit to take 2nd place. In the event there was no buzz around a few critical seconds of the weekend. If the experts haven't a clue, how are punters expected to know?

Come to think of it, Murray Walker used to bring these tussles alive supplemented by a graphic to indicate the growing or decreasing gap between two cars- I've seen little of that of late. In a time of interactive TV, open standards and the web, the boffins should be a hotbed of ideas. There is no reason why an ounce of the technology effort going into the teams can't be directed into bringing these visualisations to the audience.

Well, actually I guess there are reasons. Politics. It would seem that the revs, gear, throttle, brake and speed indicator has been the full extent of their imagination to date. Come on F1. Think laterally.

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Bel Air? Beverley Hills? Nope, Dorset

Dorset ResidenceReplete with columns and a pair of lions, this colonial-style residence is just what you'd expect to see in the nouveax-riche areas of LA. But no. This is down on the South Coast of the UK in Dorset. The blue roof tiles are supposedly a deterrent to gulls taking up residence.

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X-Ray Of Hope- IT in our hospitals

ClickRich took a spill yesterday and ended up in hospital with a suspected broken foot. It turns out to be just bruising and I'm a big wuss, but whilst sat in A&E for some TLC it was hard to see where all this money was going in the NHS. The receptionist clearly had no access to my records through the computer. Despite a promising LED sign, there was no information on how long I should expect to wait. In fact, the LED was telling us nothing that the posters and signs weren't- "No Smoking", "No Phones" and "Welcome to our Hospital". The A&E nurse took all my details down on paper from scratch (no doubt someone will need to copy that into a system later). What a waste.

But then, on arrival at the X-Ray department I saw something promising. With a new system they are evidently very proud of called Photographic Archive and Communication System (PACS) the hospital is able to capture the image digitally so that other departments (in my case A&E) can look it up on a high resolution monitor before the patient has hobbled back to the ward. The viewing software has facilities to make use of the high image quality (zoom, pan, artificial colour etc), hence making more effective diagnoses, and making the whole end-to-end process more efficient. On talking to the Emergency Practice Nurse, it would seem that they use an Orthopaedic dept in a different trust. Nowadays, the "Orthopods" can just access the images at the press of a few buttons. Referrals like that used to take days- at least.

Anyway, back to the rest, ice, compression and elevation for me.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

A likeable lawyer... at Microsoft!

Lawyers display their humour infrequently. Americans use irony sparingly. Saturday mornings are for kids and sports preview TV.

So, it's come as a surprise to be slurping my coffee this morning whilst watching an amusing interview with a Microsoft lawyer who's coming across as someone you could enjoy a drink with. The man is Don McGowan and you find that a 50 minute masterclass in software law comes across as entertaining.

Just over 9 minutes in the truth slips out- Don is Canadian. This picture before me starts to become more understandable.

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Ring side seats at 1812, Bournemouth

Live act at 1812, BournemouthIt was a funny kind of evening, and I'm not sure it was just the Rioja. MissClick and I decided that a meal out was in order to celebrate, well, Friday. We went to 1812, a restaurant bar which forms part of the Royal Exeter Hotel in Bournemouth and named after the date Captain Tregonwell set up shop on an empty stretch of the South Coast and founded Bournemouth (or something like that). The hotel already boasts "Bar So" which was hyper chic when it opened. With Bar So acting as a honeypot for the crowds, it seems that the sophisticati have now moved onto 1812, and to other bars which have raised the definition of cutting edge cool. Bar So gets on with the slightly more bouncy activities very well and is still a fistfull of notches above your mainstream clubs and bars.

Anyway, 1812's restaurant is at the back of the bar and we were given excellent seats by the stage (which is actually in the bar area, but seperated from the foodies by only a glazed wall and the music is piped through). Aside from enjoying the fantastic company (she reads this occassionally you know), I spent an evening experimenting with engineering solutions to the water feature by our table, that was decidedly lacklustre.

Water Feature, 1812, BournemouthIt was the sort of menu you would expect. No huge surprises, but then, that's not what this place is about. I'm not a great food critic, but the Tempura prawns and Lamb went down a treat (the tenderness of the lamb is worth a mention however). MissClick's gravalax looked a bit stingy to me, but the steak was apparently done to perfection. The puddings HAVE to be mentioned- an Eton Mess in a tall knickerbocker glass and a Creme Brulee without fault.

To add to the merriment of the waterfeature's shortcomings, there was a waiter (otherwise excellent by the way) who was having one of those nights with his wine glasses and some ClickFriends through in the bar who did their best to damage the self esteem of the musicians (a keyboard and guitar combo) by walking out after their first song. I'm sure it wasn't personal and they just had somewhere to be :) Good to see you guys.

I think that the 1812 website risks being misleading. If you look at the "people galleries" you might be led to believe that 1812 is more raucous than it really is. To its disadvantage I think. This is because the websites, phones and emails of the hotel, Bar So and 1812 are very intertwined and the pictures are actually almost entirely from Bar So. Don't get me wrong, I like Bar So for a loud and lively night, but 1812 is the place to go and enjoy the company of your friends. It's by no means dowdy or quiet for all of that.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Jensen comments on BAR-Honda's progress

In my blog posting earlier this week about whether BAR Honda are a top tier team, I think we now have the evidence we need. ITV F1 have published an interview with Jensen Button ahead of the second F1 race of the season in Sepang, Malaysia which pretty much concludes, for me, that the Honda package is not as strong as those of Ferrari, Renault or McLaren.

In response to questions about his ability to get on the podium he referred to needing the perfect race and then said "If you have any sort of issue these days, with how competitive the field is, you have no chance of getting on the podium, let alone winning a race."

Well, Kimi Raikkonen managed to put his McLaren in the top three after a huge, ahem, “issue” which put him to the back of the grid. So clearly, the Button rule does not apply to McLaren. You have to put the Ferraris and Renaults in that league too.

I’m sure Jensen has the ability, but it looks like he needs a weekend to go all his way and perhaps for others to run into difficulty. Still, it’s early doors and let’s see how all the teams evolve over this weekend.

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Fresh Look for Justgiving

JustgivingA big congrats to the Justgiving team for creating a fresh new look for the site. From their blog posting, it would seem that they are relieved at the change, after the original logo was created about 5 years ago- and when you live and breathe this stuff, the change must be great.

If this wasn't reason enough, the new logo compliments the US side of the operation, Firstgiving.

I hope this breath of fresh air carries you well into the future guys!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Coffee Nation for your Quick Stop Caffeine Fix

Coffee NationCoffee Nation is a revelation. At least it was first thing this morning! With the phenomena of Coffee Republic, Starbucks, Costa Coffee and co bringing quality caffeine-shakes to the UK high street, the palettes of the nation have become more selective. However, we still had to put up with dodgy vending machine coffee at petrol stations. Then, a few years ago, along came Coffee Nation and road warriors like me could get a reasonably good Cappuccino with the next 300 miles worth of fuel (what's a couple of quid when you're spending 40 or 50 already?). I've alot of respect for this company. They've really met the technology challenge head on with great machines and a servicing model which apparently works.

I'd be interested to know if this is being done outside of the UK too or is it something peculiar to our culture?

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Smart Car Mods

Smart ModsSome people pick the funniest cars to modify. Spotted in central London, this person was either sick of trying to park their Ferrari, or they're The A-team's biggest fan.

I've seen the Brabus Smart. They're fairly common, but "Pimp my Smart"?

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The Poor state of IT Strategy

I sat on a panel listening to the IT Strategy Capability pitches yeterday of 5 management consultancies. All have a global presence and whole practices devoted to the sector appropriate to my client. What shocked me was that 3 showed such a great misunderstanding of IT Strategy that I fear for their clients. Another was pretty much what I expected and one was "knock me over" superb.


This was not an issue of cost either. The superb pitch which showed insight, expertise and capability was in the bottom two by hourly rate. The most expensive two showed a singularly black and white, one dimensional view of IT.

Anyway, the old bug bear of mine reared its head. The "we will integrate all functions to create a single system" mentality. Oh please. This is enterprise computing. We thought that a decade a go. When will these people learn that it is about collaboration. Taking technology pockets of excellence and orchestrating them to do do something valuable. Interoperability is the starting point, not the weaving of it together afterwards to make sure it works.

Things to look out for in IT Strategy pitches are:
1. a list of skills like "Oracle, .Net, J2EE". *bangs head against wall*
2. any description of IT strategy which begins, and possibly ends, with "requirements gathering".
3. any patronising 'sage' advice given with a nod and a wink such as "the one thing I would urge you to do is get a prime contractor".
4. hidden agendas. Often these rear their heads in the form of alliances, product plays and an overemphasis on "proprietory vs open source".
5. boilerplate strategy. Let them pitch a methodology or framework but one size does not fit all. See how good they are at tailoring the process on the fly to your circumstances after raising some specific issues. Many will run out of steam.
6. Single faceted, unqualified, stock answers. The answer is not the same for all organisations and often there are many answers. Answering a question with a question is ok if it starts a meaningful debate that the consultant narrows down to a solution set. The "single monolithic system" sceanrio mentioned above falls into this category.

Anyway, it's not all bad. Let's remember that one out of the 5 was phenomenal.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

That's a hat-trick

FlickrFollowing on from Technorati and Zooomr having performance problems and my postings about it being a badge of honour. Well, Flickr must have been reading because they've joined the party to make it three in a row today.

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BAA Cloud has silver lining

TheCloudAt last, all but one of BAA's UK airports is going to have WiFi installed for passengers, courtesy of The Cloud. It's been a long time coming and taken an interesting route. BAA issued a contract notice for a wireless network at the new Terminal 5 in August 2005. I was worried that T5 would therefore not be pioneering the technology and service until way out into 2008, when the new terminal opens, for subsequent roll out to other terminals and sister airports afterwards. But no, we are go with Stansted already live and another 5 going wireless this month.

I'm not sure where that leaves the T5 contract notice- is it a shoe in for The Cloud? Is it scoped so as to seperate the kit from the service? Will BAA build it's own wireless infrastructure for its own apps? This'll be interesting to see play out.

It's also not clear whether BAA Aberdeen is part of the deal. The press releases talk of 6 airports, with Aberdeen being the only one of BAA's 7 airports not mentioned in the rollout plan. However, the example of a business traveller includes Aberdeen in the scenario.

Still, I'm glad that I'll be able to use my TheCloud account in most of the UK's major airports now.

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Zooomr earns obligatory Web2.0 downtime

ZooomrI'm reluctant to make this a blog about website availability, but it seems that all's going well over at the new site to compete with Flickr, called Zooomr. Opening to much acclaim from TechCrunch et al, it soon needed to move up a gear and posted a holding page "Due to really high-volume traffic from around the world, Zooomr is now being moved to a bigger data center." It looks like, with Technorati also under capacity strain, that this type of socially acceptable downtime is some sort of badge of honour for Web2.0 sites.

Can't wait for Zooomr to be back up and running. My fave feature is the ability for photos taken in the same area at the same time to be associated around the concept of being a common event. Compare your photos with others at the same event!

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Technorati pedalling to catch up

TechnoratiA big thanks to Dave, CEO of Technorati, for leaving a comment on my post about Technorati's search engine being stretched to the max. Well, it seems that more than being aware, Dave's team is well on the case.

"...massive rumblings under the hood" eh Dave? Watch this space.

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Lay on 10

TenOk, I make postings every few days about technology. If I had a quota and I could only make post one a week, possibly month, then this would almost certainly be it. It's early days so stay tuned to how things unfold, but a team of (mostly) respected Microsoft employees have launched a complimentary site to Channel9 called 10. Where Channel9 is designed for all things in IT development, 10 is about those who want to use technology. They rather altruistically use the phrase "...use technology to change the world". Watch out for that overhyping there MS.

Anyway, each day the site is updated (evening in the UK) with videos that highlight people and the technology they're using. At the end of the week the clips are compiled into a 'best of' style programme. In the UK we'll probably already be in the pub so it might, at best, be decent hangover material or something to crank you into Monday.

The secret to success will be how gripping that content is, but with the success of Channel9 (moreso Stateside than in Europe) the formula is proven.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Taking Information Security Seriously?

InfoSec 2006Responsible for enterprise information systems? Think that your really hot developers must make them impregnable to security compromises? Watch Breaking into Las Vegas on The Code Room. From my experience, no system can't be hacked. All systems have vulnerabilities. Step 1 is that you need to know the score and the best way you can do that anytime soon in the UK is by attending Infosecurity Europe 2006 at Olympia.

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"It's Free"- Misunderstanding Open Source

It's amazing how many people who should know better still do not grasp the fundamentals of Open Source software. This blog was prompted by an interview with a VP of an IT Integration company that employs people of 140 nationalities, serving 1,800 customers in 220 countries. Even worse, the interview was in a respected IT magazine that really should know better. In response to the question "What place is there for open source software", the interviewee responded " is free...". No, it's not necessarily! They aren't the only culprits, a quick search on Google is testimony to that.

OPEN SOURCE does not mean FREE. I don't mean in some clever ambiguous total cost of ownership sense, but in the basic "I want to buy this software" sense. If you want free software, look out for "Free Software". Often, Open Source is free, but not always.

The Open Source Initiative says, with respect to free, that the software must be able to be REdistributed for free. It is about not placing restrictions downstream. The code owner could choose to charge the buyer for it, but is not permitted to restrict the use by the buyer.

As the Open Source initiative puts it in answering a developer's question about whether they can charge for their Open Source software, "You can sell your code. Red Hat does it all the time. What you can't do is stop someone else from selling your code as well".

This is an important distinction. The source code has value which the owner is permitted to generate revenues from whilst still falling within the scope of Open Source. Obviously, the model encourages you to look for other ways to add value to your code such as consultancy and support, but all those pedalling "it's free" as a benefit of Open Source should check- it's not always true and they're doing the industry a disservice.

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Is Technorati a victim of its own success?

TechnoratiAt the risk of biting the hand that feeds the blog, I was wondering if anyone has noticed the high proportion of "We couldn't complete your search..." messages being returned by Technorati? Technorati is undoubtedly king of the hill when it comes to searching blogs but it looks like the success might be straining the systems. Hopefully they'll sort it soon. The number of blogs out there has apparently punched through the 50 million mark so it would be quite forgiveable if the job has become harder far quicker than expected.

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Are BAR-Honda a top tier F1 team in 2006?

With Renault kicking off 2006 where they left off last season, with a victory in Bahrain, I'm analysing whether the winter has been kind to BAR-Honda. In pure test programme terms they seem to have delivered, with more track miles than you can shake a monkey wrench at. However, are they up there with Ferrari, Renault and McLaren? Those 3 seem to continue to be the top teams, but on the strength of one race; i.e. total conjecture, BAR-Honda may have closed the gap a touch. OK, so they still don't appear to compare in head-to-head terms, but I think they're closer than last season and if their claimed reliability holds true and one of the top 3 put a foot wrong, BAR-Honda could start to rack up some serious points. Of course, that means 6 cars need to grind to a halt before Button get his much vaunted first victory...Hmmm.

If Button and Barrichello had spent less time in the opening laps trading manouevers, it might be easier to tell if their cars could hold with the pace of Ferrari and Renault. Ok, so Button was closing on Raikkonen in the closing laps, but Kimi was probably nurturing a vehicle which had come from the back of the grid to overhaul all but two cars. Incredible achievement.

Whatever happens, I think the first race bodes well for the season. An apparently exciting qualifying format. Close racing between the top two teams. An undoubtedly fast McLaren. Williams putting in a fastest lap from a fresh F1 talent in the shape of Nico Rosberg, and proving that the privateers stand a chance against the might of the manufacturer backed teams. Lots of overtaking in the midfield with much to play for between Red Bull, Toyota, Midland F1 etc. Tyre changes are back (wahoo). The questionmark over whether the V8s will go the distance in Malaysia. Oh, and the occasional irreverent remark over the pit-to-car radio... nice one Giancarlo.

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Sunshine of your love- Cream vs Hoxton

Cream vs HoxtonBy the way, thanks to Andy of The Outpatients for resolving my week of sleepless nights trying to work out who the Eric Clapton sample was used by. It turns out that it was Cream (Mr.Clapton and chums) being mashed up by the Hoxton Whores so that's why it wasn't so easy to find. From being a bootleg, it's just gone official. From the plaudits, it would seem that I'm not the only person who thinks this is set to be a big tune this year- Jules was playing at long ago as September 2005. I expect to see it crossing over and charting... until then and we all get sick of it, get down your small independent music store and buy Cream vs. the Hoxton Whores, "Sunshine of your love" on Manisfesto now.

Andy really rates a Spanky Wilson version on the Tom Middleton mix CD "The Trip" too. Must get hold of that.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Eating Pigs in Salisbury

Fondant FancyTaking a leaf out of the Eating Leeds blog, I'd like to devote this posting to the delights of food. This weekend has been great for eating out- from a Thai curry to a Beef Wellington. However the most blogworthy delight had to be the fondant fancy in the shape of a pig. Even 30ish year old guys aren't too old for a Fondant Fancy. Thanks to The Polly Tea Rooms of Salisbury.

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Who writes Fairy Tales?

What are they on? As well as the well known tales, I've just been hearing about a less popular one these days. Imagine a Princess who ran away to hide under a donkeyskin from an animal which used to pass gold coins. Imagine describing that plot to a potential publisher. Quite.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Farnborough Airport takes a long term view

Farnborough TowerI was lucky enough to visit TAGFarnborough Airport this week and pleased to receive a thorough tour- even round the new terminal which isn't officially open yet. The new tower, terminal and hangars are of a space age design and built on a scale which should service the airport and its customers along way into the future. A hotel is due to join this stable of buildings within 18 months. I thought that the architecture owes alot to the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, but despite both McLaren and Farnborough sharing the same owners, TAG, I'm assured this is a coincidence. I'd be surprised if a publically owned enterprise could have justified this investment given the time horizon and the difficulty in identifying the drivers of growth behind European exec jet travel.

As this is exclusively a private jet airport (no chance of Ryanair flying from here in the next decade!) it was particularly interesting from the perspective of seeing how the other half live.

Farnborough hangars and the new terminal in the distanceThe owners of the holding company know a thing or two about the executive jet business AND lifestyle. TAG stands for Technique Avant-Garde and that reflects the ethos of the activities to which the Swiss brothers who own TAG elect to apply their expertise. Farnborough is just one strand of their aviation portfolio and compliments the Formula 1 and luxury goods interests. Technically, TAGHeuer is no longer owned by the brothers, but their father's legacy lives on and with far sighted investments such as the new airport infrastructure, that success can only continue well into the future. A success, I hope, that will be trailblazed by their F1 team this year.

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Good Morning F1 fans- 2006, here we go

In this 2006 season, the ClickRich Blog is officially supporting to the BAR-Honda Team.

In part this is because Jensen Button is the UK's home grown talent most likely to do great things. However, it also due to me thinking they could be the most exciting team in terms of progress since last season.

Note that for the record, if I were choosing a team for a fantasy F1 team, I would choose Torro Rosso because they're a well funded team using what should be ultra reliable V10s. They may start way down the grid, but should come through on the basis of attrition.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Opera Browser on the Nokia N70

I recommend anyone with a Nokia N70 who is frustrated with the web browser which came as default to try Opera. It seems that the default browser depends on the country, network and date you bought your phone, but I found the browser mine came with to be slow to boot up, clunky to navigate and really slow to download.

Then, on the advice of crazylittleworldofmine I thought I'd try Opera. It is like a breath of fresh air. Bear in mind the limitations of a small screen and these folks have really cleverly thought about how to scale down the experience whilst keeping the whole shebang slick. Hats off to you.

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My Moment with the Brazilian Prime Minister...

Brazilian PM- honest...lasted all of a split second as their convoy rocketed along Victoria Embankment, London. At the junction with Temple Avenue I saw the cavalcade of bikes running ahead to close the next junction and the constellation of blue lights as the mass of vehicles approached. I was going to edit this photo, but I think its 'point and click' nature says it all about our lengthy discussions about politics and football. Is the PM a man or a woman? No idea.

Only when I picked up the Evening Standard later that evening did I put two and two together and return to the picture to confirm it was a Brazilian flag on the vehicle (which I believe belongs to the Queen). I'm glad we saved them the tube fare.

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"The Apprentice" a la Microsoft...

courtesy of Microsoft...and I don't mean that nobody gets fired. No, this is a cunning new way for Microsoft to publicise new releases to the Dev community- The Code Room. Sadly, I think white papers and dry presentations are with us to stay, but wrap all that juicy new dev stuff in a snazzy (perhaps corny) TV format, and you have something really accessible and entertaining.

Three developers are set a challenge which involves a voyage of discovery into whatever new thing MS are trying to let us know about. They then have to build a solution against the clock involving what they've learnt. There is always an interesting slant- Epsiode 2 was delivered from a dev environment set up in a Seattle Shopping Mall. Episode 3 was titled "Breaking into Las Vegas" and pitted the whits of six world-class security experts against ThePlaza's online money management system.

The Code Room has laughs for everyone, but I think the world will be divided into those who laugh with and those who laugh at. Full realism- from the geek social skills right down to the last slice of pizza.

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Thought of the Day: "The square root of minus one is like religion"

Ok, so I didn't have a thought yesterday. Nor one the day before that. So let's say it's "A solitary thought today". This is one for the mathematicians and theologians to discuss. I know they're big readers of my blog :)

The square root of minus one, i, is like religion:
They're both an extra plane which are difficult to define in the physical space but which are essential to solving many problems. You don't need to understand in tangible terms what you are dealing with, but you come to the right answer when you re-emerge into the real world.

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Vertigo and Claustrophobia on the Heathrow Express

Heathrow Express StationWith its decade celebrations just round the corner, the Heathrow Express continues to impress me as an engineering and service achievement. As a resident of West London for many years, journeys from the centre outwards take along time. Heathrow Express cuts through all of that and makes you realise what happens if you take the congestion away. Paddington is really only a 15 minute blast from Paddington- not the hour it might take by car.

As the train peels off the Great Western line in Hayes it plunges into a tunnel. A very deep tunnel. By the time you alight at Heathrow, it's quite a way to the surface. In fact, on my last visit the other day, it struck me that it's a real problem for claustrophobes and vertigo sufferers (not a core market for air travel, I'll grant you). You have a choice. Rise to the surface on an air-on-all-sides escalator which must climb something like 50 to 80 metres. Even I held on a little more firmly than I normally would. Or take a lift... those small boxes on a cable.

All this just goes to reiterate the engineering feat, most markedly with immense concrete walls rising from the depths. Little wonder that the return ticket price needed to pay for it all was over 3 times the same journey by tube.

Paddington StationI wonder how the modern experience compares to what the Victorians thought when they first saw I K Brunel's wonder at the other end of the Heathrow Express- Paddington Station?

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Extended Thanks to San Carlos Airport Pilots Association

Further to my thanks to Bob Leutens of the San Carlos Airport Pilots Association for researching an aircraft accident in 1967, I have to say "Bob's done it again". He very kindly went to the County library and looked through their San Mateo Times archive. Much microfiche later and Bob's found an article printed two days after the accident discussing the search for the wreckage. Unfortunately I had not, as yet, published the fact that it apparently took 4 weeks to find the wreckage, otherwise the library search might have been able to find a later story. Nevertheless, thank you so much Bob, the article has opened up several further avenues of research. The newspaper records the flight plan as a take off from San Francisco, routed via Stockton CA and Phoenix, presumably eventually landing in Houston. I'll be looking to contact flying clubs and associations at those locations to see if anyone remembers Harry Lee Roy.

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Compare and contrast domes

Russian Orthodox ChapelIn the last two days I've visited two very different companies, both with very different domes. The first was a start up who happen to have the orthodox chapel of the 18th century Russian embassy to London as a board room (very bling). The second are one of the world's largest IT companies who have a very different take with their dome.

Compare and contrast.
Modern glass domeIt just struck me how excited civilisation gets at domes that for centuries organisations of all sizes have aspired to them. Or should that be 'adomed'?

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Christmas gets earlier

The 2006 1st prize for 'Advertising Christmas Early' (sponsored by Noel Edmond's jumper knitters) goes to Youngs Hotels of Bournemouth. According to the leaflets adorning reception at The Queens, their 5 hotels have everything sorted down to the chipolatas to ensure your Christmas party goes with a swing.

Welcome to Spring.

Techies in the audience might like to know that this was my 1st blog posted from my mobile. Apologs for n e mistoikes.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Huge floating IT networking opportunity

The opportunity to meet with the most influencial IT groovers was never likely to be cheap, but it might prove to be the best investment you ever made. I think Richmond Events are a breath of fresh air, bringing successful innovation to an area of my company's budget which has traditionally underdelivered. I'm torn between writing about it, and keeping it a secret.

Here's the deal. One luxury cruise ship. A captive audience of handpicked and vetted IT execs adrift for 4 days beyond mobile telephone interruptions. One on one match-made meetings. A pre-prepared insight into the issues of each IT exec based on a comprehensive survey. Opening and keynote addresses by top entertainers and business leaders. Black tie, compulsory attendance dinners every night with carefully planned seating arrangements.

Want to find out more? Look at the IT Directors Forum. Hurry, there are only a few places left.

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Gender pay gap reversed in IT Sector

Gender Pay GapThis week I've be intrigued by two pieces of news. The first was a debate on Question Time ***grown up alert*** about a recent report by the Office of National Statistics which concluded that women in full time employment earn on average 13% less than their male counterparts. As the ensuing conversation with MissClick proved, this is a testy subject! Therefore, I'll tread carefully. The reasons behind the pay gap are very complex and despite the DTI's Women and Equality Unit carrying out a reasonable analysis, I'm not sure there is enough understanding to support policy decisions. When you consider that women's rights in the workplace are fiercely protected (it is illegal to pay women less than men for the same job, for example) the nuances are just too subtle for the available stats to untangle. Decisions need to be made nevertheless and one suggestion, which will no doubt put the financial burden on businesses, is for an audit of the gender payroll gap on a company by company basis. Ouch.

As someone whose career has been spent in engineering and IT, I've seen the dangers of when things swing too far the other way and all the positive discrimination nasties creep out. So, I was very intrested to see how this gender gap is actually reversed in the IT sector where, in a study by the Chartered Management Institute in 2005, the average female IT manager earned 2% more than her male equivalent. Before we hoorah the apparently progressive IT business- why is this? According to the Women In Technology (WIT) networking group, women are definitely more in demand for things such as their soft skills and having more interest in results than in the bits and bytes. However, with laws designed to maintain gender pay parity, it seems odd to me that 'demand' should make any difference.

Phew, you try writing that whilst trying to avoid being accused of rampant sexism.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Sinking of the Sidon and Kursk Submarines

KurskDon't miss the stories of the sinking of these two Russian submarines in modern times as told by Maurice Stradling, a former torpedo engineer with the UK Government's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency(DERA). The presentation has been jointly organised by the Institute of Electrical Engineering and the Institute of Mechanical Engineering and takes place 7pm Thursday 27th April at Weymouth College. Contact Andrew Criswick ( for more details. All lectures are open to members of the public and as admission is free, there is no booking necessary.

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When is a back door not a back door?

Key Microsoft staff have been keen to stifle the story that they've been in discussions with Government Agencies over a backdoor into BitLocker, the new drive encryption method for Vista. The story was first published by BBC News in February.

Niels Ferguson from the BitLocker team explained that whilst they have been talking to Government Agencies, it has been about their own data security. He then leaves it wide open again by saying "[law enforcement agencies]... foresee that they will want to read BitLocker-encrypted data, and they want to be prepared". So, despite absolute statements about there being NO back doors, Microsoft's position remains muddy.

Are we, therefore, looking at a potential cat flap? Side door perhaps? Keys under the doormat anyone?

I could be reasonably thought of as broadly a supporter of Microsoft so I'm not raising this because I believe they have malicious intent. Far from it, I just find this discussion interesting from a definitions point of view. A back door suggests something about access. Well, to allow the law enforcement agencies to do their job, they don't need to go the whole way to providing access to Microsoft's clients' PCs. But if MS were to share encryption algorithms and techniques with forensic infosecs, would that technically be a back door?

What if that information was also publically available. Or to a lesser degree of detail? Or the knowledge released to officials first? What shade of grey is this back door?

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

What did Islam do for us?

1001 InventionsWith the current state of global political affairs, it is frustrating to see the world polarised by the media into Christian or Muslim, Religion or Politics. The hard time Tony Blair is getting the UK media for comments he made about his beliefs is another aspect to this. Not only are things not this black and white, but actually we should celebrate the rich cultural diversity, look at our common ground and remind ourselves at how all our collective histories have come together to create the society we live in.

Although the organisers could not publicise the event with this sort of preamble, 1001 Inventions at The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester looks like just the tonic. At a time when many consider Islamic countries to be technologically inferior to those in the west, it is perhaps a useful reminder that after the collapse of the Roman empire and the rise of a relatively dictatorial Chritianity, Europe was plunged into a dark age. It was cities like Bahgdad and Cairo that became the hotbeds of scientific progress, nutured by the spirit of enquiry enshrined in Muslim teachings.

The headline inventions, as published to the excellent website, are " to clocks, from a 1000 year old cook book to how the camera works.", but my favourite is cheese!

The website even has a blog and some excellent comment features which, rather than being sidelined to a forum, are right at the heart of the content. One comment sure to raise eyebrows is that in the 13th Century, Ibn Al-Shatir figured out that the earth rotated round the sun- long before Copernicus or Kepler.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

The Burj Dubai- Keen gardeners need not apply

(c) Emaar PropertiesYou know when your body involuntarily expresses your emotion even when there's no one around to see it? Pointless. Why do your motor neurones not know this? Anyhow, I just found myself in a room on my own with my jaw dropped in wonderment as I surveyed an artist's impression of something really very special. The current tallest building in the world, Taipei 101, is by 2008 to be rendered little more than a footnote in architectural history. It was only through some last minute high jinx of adding a rather tall viewing platform that it pipped the previous holder to the record. Pah. Now, let's play oil-rich-nation Monopoly for a moment and take Taipei 101 AND stand the Chrysler Building on top. Now you're approaching what is being constructed at the rate of a storey a week in Dubai- the Burj Dubai. Unlike the corporate backed tallest buildings of the last few decades, the Burj Dubai will be a relatively trivial hotel and residential complex. For a city which already boasts The Palm, Jumeirah and The Palm, Jebal Al, they really do have something to prove in the UAE about their rapid rise to global prominence.

Yes, it's amazing, but personally I'd be concerned at how the level of attention required to build their mere 18 page website is projected onto the 160 storey, 705 metre high giant. On the website, click on "Downtown Dubai" followed by "Burj Dubai" and a hyperlink appears to the same website as you're currently looking at- but pops it up in a new window. Terrible. I hope that when I step into the bathroom in my 120th floor apartment that I don't step out again into the foyer of the Boulevard Crescent next door.

I initially enjoyed the website for avoiding the cliched profile of the building's silhouette compared against the other tallest buildings of the world. It was refreshing for them to put aspiration before the stats. However, in the end I found myself wanting the numbers and loathing the marketing. Where are the numbers? How big? How tall? How many rooms? It makes you wonder what the thinking behind the site is. It's too patronising for a direct sell. It's subtler than that. I think it's fanning the egos of prospects by attempting to provide an insight into how the great unwashed will be in awe of their "vision" and "resources" affording them "the opportunity to live in the world's tallest building". Interesting, because that's not quite how I tick.

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Digitally Imported Radio

Digital Imported RadioYou'd have thought that after my rant about music genres, the last thing you might expect to excite me is an online radio station called Digitally Imported FM(DI FM) with 15 channels all dedicated to a different form of dance. That's right, there are apparently 15 mutually exclusive subcategories. Of course there are. For you doubters, you'll instantly recognise the differences between Trance, Vocal Trance, Chillout, House, Hard Dance, Euro Dance, Progressive, Goa-Psy Trance, Hardcore, Lounge, Ambient, Drum 'n' bass, Classic Electronica, Breaks and Gabba. Additionally there are channels dedicated to DJ Mixes and Replays. Anyway, I'm typing this whilst bouncing away to the Trance channel and I must admit to being very impressed so thanks due to DJ Amber for the tip off.

Many stations have started to charge and some have disappeared from the e-waves like Coppernob Radio (aka cnSohoLive)- probably something to do with that aforementioned charging and tight folk like me. Anyway, DI FM have premium services for those whose wallets aren't big enough to hold all their disposable income, and retains certain tight-wad options for the rest of us. A broad looking array of download speeds and formats are available. If I didn't hide my journalistic review talents behind a thick wall of laziness, I'd work out if there were any options they've missed, but then I'm doing this for free you know. Buy a few books through my links to Amazon and I might start to see what I can do. Lots of community and syndication stuff for the full sticky experience* too. Meanwhile, I suggest you give it ago. Even if dance music isn't in your duffle bag baby, there are listings of everything from classical to new age across DI FM's sister network,

Incidentally, if your bag is less duffle and more metallic and you live in London, the hot guest list this weekend is the launch of Above and Beyond's new album, "Tri-State", on Saturday night. I wonder if the wonderful Justine Suissa will make a live appearance (Above and Beyond+Justine=Oceanlab)? A 3 hour set by the lads would be a long time to go with out some Oceanlab shaped breathers.

*something I read once

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