-- Business blog now available --

A quick note to say that I've set up my Business blog, to be able to speak with a clear voice on both personal and work issues (i.e. by having separate blogs).

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Microsoft vs. Yahoo! My tuppence

A quick contribution to the debate.

I grew up on, and with, Microsoft. I have only come to Open Source through Firefox, and lately, Ubuntu.

I use tools from Google; from Microsoft; from Yahoo!; and others. I don't use a Mac, nor an iPhone: I'm still on XP (although I started on a Sinclair ZX81).

I understand the anti-trust issues that Microsoft has been faced with over the years, and have a reasonably good grasp of both sides.

I admire Google, and am happy to use their fantastic search and free tools.

I used to admire Yahoo! Their taxonomy was always useful, although I've come to rely on search.


My take is that Yahoo! is going down the plughole, and Jerry Yang's tenure as CEO has been a disaster.

Although I respect where Tim O'Reilly is coming from, I'm with Michael Arrington on this one.

Although I suspect that the time has passed for the Microsoft deal, I hope Carl Icahn is successful with his boardroom coup at the AGM in early August.


I believe in competition, level playing fields, regulation. I'm often wrong, but I believe Google needs strong competition to keep it on its toes.

I'm hoping there's enough of Yahoo! for Microsoft to salvage and create the competition we all need - it's better than regulation...

Thanks to the Guardian team for their coverage on this.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Extremes meet (politically)

A post about strange things happening to the political weather at the moment:

  • EU Lisbon treaty is taking a pasting, viz:
    • The Irish voting "No" for various reasons
    • The Polish President refusing to sign the Lisbon Treaty
  • An amorphous mass of people with different grievances are talking about politicians doing things without a mandate
    • Or ignoring the will of the Electorate expressed through the Ballot Box
  • Me agreeing with importance of Democracy at the local level with the leader of the centre-left Compass group - see this article.
    • (although we'd probably quibble on the details!)
  • David Davis offered support by Labour's Bob Marshall-Andrews on a platform
  • David Davis debating the merits of freedom etc. with Tony Benn
    • DD's even written to The Economist - lucky I've seen this now, or I'd be spluttering into my Saturday morning cornflakes! lol

In terms of the "Democratic deficit", it was the recent vote in the UK on the 42 days detention without trial that tipped me over the edge. I agree with David Davis that it was also the grubby way it came about, which was the last straw.

I'm also gobsmacked by the glaring EU democratic vacuum: we're being kept voting until the Powers-that-Be get the result they want... How is that Democracy? :-(

My feeling is that, if Politicians don't heed what their Electorate signals through their votes, there's going to be a big falling out.

I'd like to finish by quoting from Andrew Rawnsley writing in the Observer (dated Sunday June 15, 2008):

"That David Davis is several marbles short of the full bag is certainly the consensus view at Westminster. Tory and Labour MPs are united with each other and with most journalists in thinking that he is mad.

The public, though, appears to be responding in a strikingly different way. So far, we have only rough and ready indicators from radio phone-ins, websites and the like. But public opinion there has been heavily admiring of David Davis.

More than one member of the shadow cabinet who thinks David Davis is crazy has also told me that they have had emails and calls lauding him as a man of great principle taking a heroic stand.

This, I think, is something for the political class to ponder and ponder hard. So ingrained with cynicism is Westminster about itself that it can only see David Davis as a lunatic for sacrificing his career on the altar of his beliefs. The politicians need to ask themselves why so many of the public seem to regard David Davis as the only sane man in the asylum."

Friday, 6 June 2008

Please check my list of Web & Enterprise 2.0 tools / concepts

I'm helping a colleague put together a presentation called 'The Future of Innovation'. He's looking into lots of different areas, e.g. Commercial, People, etc.

My chosen specialist subject is Web & Enterprise 2.0. I'd like you to check my list below and give me your thoughts, amendments, omissions.

I'm thinking of how to change the idea capture spreadsheet into something web-friendly, but will probably only do so if there is a stampede of comments. List so far is:

  • Blogs
  • Social Networks
  • Micro-blogging - twitter, pownce, jaiku, plurk
  • Wikis, Google docs, Acrobat.com etc etc.
  • Virtual Worlds
  • Crowd-sourcing - digg etc.
  • Bookmarking
  • Ideas Markets
  • Instant Messaging
  • Mashups
  • SaaS
  • PaaS
  • Rich Internet Applications - Air, Silverlight, Android
  • Folksonomies
  • RSS
  • SOA
  • Cloud computing
  • OpenID
  • The Long tail
  • Remix
  • Geotagging

I've been checking material from Gartner and Dion Hinchcliffe to help compile the list.

All constructive suggestions very gratefully received. Let me know if you have problems with the Disqus comments etc.

Windows Live tools - so far, so good

A quick post about some Microsoft tools that seem to be genuinely useful. :-)

Tip of the hat to Roo Reynolds for pointing me in the direction these Windows Live tools (via Twitter post):

  • Live Writer
    • I'm using Writer to compose this post
    • A neat tool, much more functionality than the Blogger interface
    • You can compose off-line and upload later
    • Appears to match Blogger features - e.g. newly arrived scheduled post
    • fyi there seem to be a whole load of add-ins
  • Live Mail
    • I can see my two Hotmail accounts, along with my gmail one in one place, and not have to muck around--again--through a browser interface
  • Live Photo Gallery
    • A way to keep track of your digital photos
    • This looks quite promising
    • A competitor to Picasa

Maybe because I've grown up with & on Microsoft, I seem to be comfortable with these tools.

They appear to have good / the right amount of functionality for what I'm looking for - once I'd installed and played with them a bit, they seemed to have tools that I'd only subconsciously considered.

Not sure about impact on system performance, but some things that've made my life easier.

There seems to be a gap in the market for these sorts of things - I think MS has piled in probably because competition is doing this (e.g. Google's Picasa).

Interesting that Live Photo Gallery allows you to upload to Flickr, given bid for Yahoo! by Microsoft...!

Disqus experiment - volunteers needed

Quick post to say that I'm experimenting with this particular way of creating comments.

The website blurb says "Disqus makes your comments more interactive for readers and easier to manage for you — all while connecting your community with other blogs."

Pretty much a work in progress, and an experiment. I made an impulse decision last week and hopefully someone will stop by and have a go at it. My details on the Disqus tour.

If if doesn't work / is too much hassle, I'll switch it off!

[UPDATE 15Jul08]: I have re-integrated the Blogger template with Disqus, in the hope that the Seesmic comments are now enabled. It hasn't been working in the same way as my Disqus Experiment blog. :'(

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Google Advert trial

This post summarises learnings from a free trial for Google Adwords. I'm experimenting with it to generate traffic for this blog. It's been an interesting learning experience.

I subscribe to Information Age, an computer-related technology magazine. In a recent mailing, I also received a marketing flyer from Google, featuring a company called Wriggly wrigglers - you may also have seen it if you're in the UK.

The freebie part was a £30 voucher, so I thought I'd have a go. The time limit is the end of June '08, so thought I should get cracking.

I've gone some fairly idiosyncratic posts on here, e.g.: Locked In syndrome, Mobile Cranes, choosing adverts, Psychology experiments. I thought they be a good way of reaching a specific audience. Besides, these are things I'm interested in.

So lessons learned so far:

  • I've done a general ad and two specific ones (Zimbardo & Milgram, Locked In syndrome)
  • When you sign up, you start with Starter edition
    • This is probably only good for setting up your account
    • Otherwise, Starter edition, you want Standard - no price difference apparently - this is the comparison
    • With the Starter edition, you can run variations of the same ad, but I wanted to run ads on different keywords, so you *have* to upgrade to get this functionality.
  • You can choose "bundles" of Countries
    • Basically, I've chosen English-speaking countries from around the World, with some Scandinavian ones (and Spain, I like Spain)
  • I've got it running for a month, although need to check regularly - you have to give them a way of payment (they want to wean you and hope you forget you're paying)
    • The "cost per click" is supposedly optimised by Google - but quite a lot of my keywords seemed not to be active because of 1p minimum Google has chosen
  • It's one Campaign - multiple ad groups (i.e. ads for different posts
    • The usability is actually pretty good, decent tools
  • A fat pipe would be nice, saves lag between pages when you're setting everything up (although you can download software to do things offline)
  • Demographics
    • You can target 10 year cohorts (e.g. 0-17 years)
  • Site and Category Exclusion
    • You can choose to be excluded from various sites / pages, e.g. "Death & Tragedy"
    • Also certain page types - e.g. Parked domains
  • There was a £5 "Activation fee", so I've only got £25 to spend
    • There seems to be a daily cap on spending
  • "I already have a Google Analytics account. Please link it to this AdWords account"
    • Nice, already have the Analytics code on my blog, I can link automatically to it, and Google joins it all up. :-D

One other thing - I've linked to my original "Diving Bell & the Butterfly" post, so I've updated that to give links to posts 2 & 3...

I'll report back about how I get on!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Flickr vs. Picassa (cont'd)

Ok, reporting back about what I've found so far. Please see my earlier post if necessary.

Thanks to Dave Briggs and Puller for their comments. I went with Dave - "Flickr every time."

  • Flickr
    • I've upgraded to a Pro Account, and have started uploading various photos
  • Picasa
    • I figured that Picasa and the online service weren't as good as Flickr, in terms of look & feel
    • I didn't really check out the functionality - it was more a gut feel thing
    • I plan to keep using Picasa on a limited basis for publishing photos to this blog
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery
    • Sister of Windows Live Writer (being used now for this blog post)
    • See also Live Mail, can read my Gmail account as well as my Hotmail accounts
    • Integrates with Flickr - useful, as this is my chosen destination for photos!
    • fyi earlier post on these
  • Memory card reader
    • I'm buying a memory card reader for both Memory Stick and my old Smart Media card, so I can more easily upload photos to Flickr
  • Joomeo
    • This is what Puller recommended - I'm afraid I didn't take it terribly seriously...