-- 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).

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Read all about it: Wellbank in good hands!

A post about how the namesake of this blog is prospering under new management.

Field Fishing
Photo credit to Ajnabeee. More photos tagged with ‘Wellbank’. fyi a place in Scotland called Wellbank.

I was at the Codeworks Connect Christmas party 10 days ago. There I bumped into Andrew Robson, its outgoing Chairman. Andrew is the boss of Perfect Image, an IT systems integrator in the North East of England.

The ever-genial Andrew ventured that he knew something about me that I probably wasn’t aware of. I immediately thought “Oh no, what have I done *this* time?”.

It was therefore with a mixture of fond memories and slight wonderment that Andrew announced that he and his family now live in my Granny’s old house – blog post passim.

So, we proceeded to have a long chat about the history of the house, and what the Robsons have done to refurbish the house. We talked about:

  • My Uncle floating this slippers in the bath, and jumping down the stairs
  • The marvellous outside loo
  • How they had found some fascinating stuff, e.g. university newspapers and some books[?] from the late 19th century.
    • uni newspapers
    • 1880s records
  • What needed to be done about refurbishing the house

Apparently (and thankfully) they have left the garden pretty much the same. And Don the Gardener still comes to look after the garden when he can. :-)

So, a happy story and good to think that my roots are in good hands.

More news as I have it.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Monday, 8 December 2008

My Identity being spoofed on YouTube

If you follow my Twitterstream, you will have seen this on Friday:
"Reporting some geezer to YouTube who is spoofing my id & posting humourous videos. Lately however, they are such I must disassociate myself"
By way of explanation, as a result of drafting an experiment with video sites , I came across this user on YouTube.
Having skim-viewed the content, I submitted this text to the YouTube customer complaint web page:
"I would like to complain about someone who is spoofing my ID and my videos. Initially this was amusing, but I find videos which refer to terrorist beheadings (albeit with a toy dog). I deem this to be a completely inappropriate use of my identity. It seems like an open and shut case, and I'd like to know what you are going to do about it."
Although it seemed rather funny, if not painfully embarrassing, I became uncomfortable with how this was developing, and felt I should do something about it. Hence this post on my personal site, as I believe it relates to my personal identity.
This was the clip that got me worried - I haven't watched this all the way through because of being slightly spooked by it all (also, check out the comments):

I would be very grateful for feedback from you:
  • What you think
  • Should I be worried - or is it a back-handed compliment[!]?
  • Whether to contact the YouTube account concerned and how to play it...
  • How to deal with this in a sensible way without over-reacting.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Separating work and pleasure (blogs)

dream more...work lessThanks to those of you who voted on the poll regarding whether I should separate out my postings on work and my home life.

Photo credit to wageslaves

The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of creating a work blog [thank you, 2 voters!], and therefore I have done so, here. I have also put a note underneath the blog header, just in case anyone doesn't see this post...

I will continue to post here about the divergent and the unexpected. I was going to say the posts would be less frequent, but I'm not sure that's possible! ;-D

Thursday, 30 October 2008

(Un)Funny Tummy update

At the top of this piece, I'd like to say that I'm writing these posts because I believe others may benefits from knowing about this sort of stuff.
I'm essentially following on from the post I wrote about Angela Beecroft. I'm still taking the bio bacteria, but now I have discussed the results of the test with Angela.
It turns out that I have a nasty little fella called Dientamoeba fragilis in my tummy.
Wikipedia says that this can cause Dientamoebiasis: "[...] symptoms reported have included:
  1. Weight loss
  2. Fatigue
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Fever
  5. Uritcaria (skin rash)
  6. Pruritis (itchiness)
  7. Biliary infection"
[I don't think I've had all this, but it gives you an idea what can happen]
Dientamoeba fragilis fig1At present, I'm taking some anti-microbial tablets recommended by Angela.
Although they cause mild heartburn at times, in conjunction with the bio bacteria, I'm not feeling so exhausted all the time. In fact, I'm sometimes waking up feeling almost raring to go!
Anyway, there's still a few weeks of pills to go, so hopefully my system will sort itself out. It will be interesting to see what happens. I've got the sense that my tummy is more sorted, so that's good.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Business and Personal posts in the same blog?

Folks, I need some advice please.

Up ‘til now I’ve been using Wellbanked as a personal equivalent of Speakers' Corner.

Given that I have left Fujitsu, it’s natural that I should use this blog to publicise the new direction in my working life.

The downside to this is the confusion created by having posts about personal issues cheek-by-jowl with work ones – prospective Customers / Employers might be put off by this!

So, I am looking for feedback on my thoughts so far:

  • Leave my blog as it is – i.e. keep posting on various topics
  • Try and separate out work and personal posts through the use of metadata or tags in some way
  • Set up a separate blog for work issues and cross-link etc.
  • Port to another platform – e.g. Wordpress
  • Set up a website and embed this blog into it

If I was to start a work blog, I need help cooking up a name – the domain I bought appears to be too close to an existing Company. Doh!

I’ve done a quick Google search, but although the answer may be obvious, I’m a bit stumped, and need a bit of crowdsourcing love.

Hopefully you should find a poll running alongside this post – please also leave a comment if you can bear it!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

… "one can't believe impossible things."

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Alice in Wonderland.

Lovely quote sent to me by lovely Kay Cooke.


Props to The Victorian Web

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Zingthing - facilitation tool

Yesterday I went to a demo of Zingthing, a tool to help workshop facilitators bring together the input from workshop participants.

Carol and Catherine - good people from CPCR - gave Kate & Caroline (from The Bridge Club), and myself a keyboard each and we were able to test-drive it.

"The Zingthing 3.0 software is a specialised meeting system to support organisation-wide knowledge creation, fast implementation of new expert decision or learning processes, cultural change and accelerated innovation." - Max Dumais.

Max gives an excellent intro, so I won't re-hash a description here.

Apparently it is good for brainstorming, and also collecting the input from multiple break-out groups.

In our view, it would be great to help participants feel really involved in proceedings, and also allow shy folk get their voice heard.

CPCR are offering to bring their kit and expertise to a conference near you, for a fee.

n.b. It's not the same as the Backchannel, as described:

  • Here by Roo Reynolds
  • Here in Wikipedia
  • This is a tool to help create a backchannel - BackNoise (referenced by Wikipedia article)

My skills as a Business Consultant

A quick bulleted list to give readers an idea of what I have to offer:

Consultancy skills

  • Business Change: deep understanding of how to combine people, process, and technology to achieve business outcomes—with the emphasis on people
  • Business consultancy: Strategic and technical IT consultancy from a programme viewpoint; business / process analysis and design; report writing and presentation delivery
  • Benefits management: Experience of Fujitsu’s Benefits Realisation methodology, which focuses on business outcomes, and creates network of activities to assure delivery of business benefits
  • Business networking: active business school Alumnus and business networker (online and face-to-face).
  • Project delivery: architecture and design; technology selection; team-worker and leader
  • Project management: project planning and basic financials; awareness of PRINCE 2 methodology

Business Understanding

  • IT Strategy and Governance; Peer collaboration, Financial Services regulation; Corporate Performance Management.; Virtualisation; Enterprise Application Integration & Web Services, Business Process Management, Virtual Worlds; IT Architecture; J2EE and Application Servers


  • Internet protocols and infrastructure; Collaboration platforms and online communities; Windows Operating Systems (MCSE 1999); Database Systems; Gadgets of all kinds

Grasp of Business and Technology Marketspace

  • Through reading The Economist; McKinsey Quarterly, Harvard Business Review; subscription to various Industry Sector and Technology newsletters and blogs
Props to Hugh Macleod

Monday, 29 September 2008

Business Consultant for hire

I leave Fujitsu today, i.e. at the end of September. I am striking out on my own, and plan to do contracting work in the North East of England. Hopefully this will be a springboard to more varied projects – reflecting my interests in cutting-edge collaborative tools and virtual worlds etc.

In putting together my leaving note to Fujitsu colleagues (and the associated mailing list), I was able to reflect on all the fantastic people I have worked with, in nearly 10 years with Fujitsu. Also, that I genuinely believe Fujitsu has been an excellent employer and good place to work.

Those ten years have given me a great foundation to help Customers maximise their return on their Technology investments. In practical terms, this means helping them:
  • Exploit existing collaboration tools and infrastructure
  • Understand impact of consumerization and Web 2.0 on Customers and other stakeholders
  • Create a successful blend of infrastructure, using established collaboration / information management tools and leading edge ones
  • Understand technology’s impact on People, and create programme of change to manage this impact and maximise Return on Investment
  • Make informed decisions about which tools / trends match needs of organisation - don't just go with the flow
I’ve worked for Fujitsu with a number of large Government Departments, and a mixture of Private and Public Sector bodies.

More details at http://www.linkedin.com/in/justinguysouter.

sex blogger consultant
Props to Laughing Squid / Scott Beale, Ariel Waldman and, of course, to Hugh Macleod

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Angela Beecroft, nutritionalist

A quick follow-up post re Dairy Intolerance.

As a Christmas present, my Mum offered for me to visit Angela Beecroft, a nutrionalist based in North Yorkshire / Teesside.

I was keen to take this up, as Caroline and I thought I might have some other food intolerances and I was thinking Angela could suggest some further tests.

I managed to combine a visit to Angela with one of the “Experiences” from Croft Circuit – as the circuit is close to Stockton, one of Angela’s locations.

It was a pleasant surprise that Angela takes a holistic view to dietary health, and although wanting to do a further test, suggested that a healthy tummy might have further benefits – e.g. less fatigue, sharper thinking etc.

Anyway, I’ve started taken a treatment of powerful Bio bacteria – i.e. stronger versions of the bacteria you find in Bio yoghurts.

The plan is to have a tele-conference on 8th October to review the results from my test and see where to go from there…

Angela doesn’t have a website [although I’ve suggested looking into a blog or similar to her], but she can be contacted via Beecroft4 – at – aol – dot – com.

Useful websites she recommended are:
n.b. I’m posting this using a date just after the original DI post, as I’m trying to concentrate on business things at the mo’!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Lactose / Dairy Intolerance

A post about problems with my digestion - with the gory bits avoided wherever possible.

Growing up, I bore a unfortunate similarity to Johnny Fartpants. :-s

Now, I'm pretty sure I've got an intolerance to Lactose. Lactose is the sugar in dairy products, sucrose being the sugar in plants etc. [I think that’s right – Ed.]

What this means is that I can't / shouldn't eat things which I love, namely no:
  • Cream
  • milk
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Dairy Yoghurt
If I do, then (as my Uncle, a retired Doctor described) lactose is broken down into carbon dioxide[?] gas, and a substance used a commercial laxative. (Most people can put 2 & 2 together, and seem to find this description acceptable – apologies if you don’t!).

So, it's dreadfully boring. When someone's eating a fantastic piece of [insert your favourite cheese here], I can only sit there and pine. Bah.

However, what's even more boring is how pathetic my Doctor was in terms of diagnosis and helping me understand the situation:
  • I told him that Caroline reckoned I had a dairy intolerance – the response was “you probably have Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    • I asked what that was - “er, it’s when your bowel is irritated”: I wasn’t impressed
  • They suggested I see the Practice’s Dietician
    • When I walked through the door, the lady concerned said “you’re not overweight”
      • I agreed, but said that I was seeing her about a dairy intolerance
    • She suggested that I take the dairy out of my diet
      • I responded that I had already done this
    • She said that last time she had studied this was at University (presumably 15-20 years previously) and she couldn’t really help
    • I asked whether she could recommend articles that I could read on the Web
      • She couldn’t, but offered to look on the Practice database – but didn’t have a password. Doh!
  • In fact, I went into the Practice a week later about another matter, and was given a piece of paper which had http://lactose.co.uk/ printed on it (it’s now http://www.foodreactions.org/intolerance/lactose/index.html)
So, the upshot was that the principle of taking a pill to help me digest food with dairy products in it was established – hooray! Lactase is the enzyme that my stomach appears to lack, and hence filling the gap with a pill *does* help.

I now tend to buy Lactase via eBay from the States. I have found that the CostCo own brand (Kirkland) pills seem to be the most effective.

Otherwise, I have eliminated as many dairy products – and products with dairy in them – from my diet, as possible. I put soya milk on my cereal and in my tea. I use Pure margarine, and Caroline uses Lactofree milk for cooking.

It’s worthwhile knowing that Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury do “Free From” ranges, designed for people with various intolerances. I’ve also found soya yoghurts pretty good, although the plain ones are best avoided. Alpro does pretty tasty desserts.

Caroline has been fantastically helpful in terms of shopping, and takes a lot of trouble to check ingredients in the food that we have. However, we agree that I may have other intolerances.

N.b. I have tried products from sheep and goats, and they aren’t as effective as giving me trouble-free digestion as the products above. I’ve also tried things like Oatly, which isn’t bad. However, I find the Alpro ‘cream’ to be better.

Note – I first started drafting this in May 08.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Template construction lessons learned

(so far)

  • Save your template before and after each change, e.g.:
    • Embedded code, like Google Analytics
    • Adding various widgets
    • [Change control becomes important later, so best start at the beginning! :$]
  • Going back to original Blogger template
    • Under Layout | Edit HTML | Edit Template, choose "Revert template to classic"
      • This indeed takes your right back to the default Blogger template, which includes your blog posts, and a couple of standard widgets, e.g. About Me, Previous posts etc.
      • There is then an intermediate step -- to be able to get to the 'upgraded' Blogger layout editor, you have to 'upgrade' the layout editor
      • This seemed to bring back my existing widgets! :-s
      • I then removed the widgets one by one
        • I was expected that a reversion to the Classic template would take them away
        • It did, but 'upgrading' seemed to bring them back... :-(
  • I then ran the reverted template back through Disqus - still no joy :'(
  • I then chose "Revert widget templates to default", and ran the code through Disqus - success!
    • I think returning the widget templates to default stripped the Disqus code from any widgets
  • N.b. I encountered an "Upload template error" in Blogger (code bX-9khcxc), when I pasted the code from Disqus back into the Blogger edit html frame - very frustrating!
    • However, I did a quick search and found that the problem was because I was using Chrome, and also Firefox - use IE instead, it worked for me :-D
    • This Google Group helped me work this out
  • I have opted to keep existing comments on this blog, and chose the option on Disqus for comments 'from now onwards'
    • Will check existing posts and Not allow comments, and hide existing ones (where there aren't any) - if I can be bothered!
    • The only glitch with Windows Live Writer that I have come across is that you don't have the option to switch off comments - essential if you want to allow Disqus to handle comments for you
    • Therefore, one has to publish a draft from WLW, and then go to the Blogger interface online to switch them off <yawn>, before you publish!
  • On the other hand, Flickr publishing in WLW is rather good
  • I'm putting a couple of FriendFeed widgets into the template until I have a discussion with a web designer I know.
  • I'm also trying to get the 'Recent Readers' widget from MyBlogLog
    • Part of the process is to paste this following link - Undergoing MyBlogLog Verification - into a post, which 'verifies' your site in the eyes of MBL.
    • You can also try putting a meta tag in your site homepage, but putting it into the Blogger template hasn't worked for me, hence this Plan B...
  • Umm, I think that's it for now! Comments / amendments very welcome.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Template under Construction

DC Under Construction Series - DC USA Retail Complex in Columbia Heights

Photo by Otavio_DC

Quick head's up to say that I'm editing the Blogger template which makes Wellbanked look nice -- ostensibly to sort out the Disqus commenting function.

At the moment the functionality seems to appear twice for those commenting, which isn't good.

Hopefully I should have this sorted in a couple of days. I have / intend to:
  • Saved the existing template to my PC
  • I have saved the titles and contents for the various widgets in my Google Notebook
    • Gives me a backup of the widgets :-)
  • I've checked the underlying code for analytics tools like Google Analytics, AmungUs etc. that I've put in over time
  • Revert to original template - Blogger functionality
    • Save it
  • Put original template through the Disqus template integration process
  • Restore widgets as appropriate / as needed
  • Put in a widget from Twittercounter
  • Put in a widget from MyBlogLog
  • Pick up on a number of dormant draft posts and publish them!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Podcasts to Listen to on the Beach?


Rather than a Tweet, a quick post to request some suggestions re interesting things to listen to on the beach.

I usually read books like The Tipping Point, Emergence, Synthetic Worlds; I've lined up The Big Switch, The Black Swan and even Mycelium Running for this year (not that I'll have time for them all / more than one...).

I was looking for suggestions for what I could listen to on my MP3 player. Thoughts I've had include:

Not exactly racy, perhaps plain dull - but I have to be myself! I'm not a big fan of novels, unless it's something like Snow Crash or Neuromancer. Can't recommend two these highly enough.

So maybe something self-improving, or of interesting from work / business arena perhaps?

I did a quick Google search, and came up with a similar post, and potential link. Unfortunately, this latter site seems to be defunct.

UPDATE: Still trying to get Disqus comments right! I need to sort out the Blogger template to allow the Disqus system to work properly. :-s

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Seesmic experiment / trial

I'm told that Seesmic comments are enabled with Disqus, so have changed the options in Disqus.

This is a test post to see whether it works. I have also re-integrated my Blogger template with Disqus. If this doesn't work, I'll need to contact the Discuss help people.

n.b. the "Reader comments" option for this post is 'do not allow'.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Jarvis Cocker (spaniel)

This is Jarvis. He is a working Cocker spaniel, and this is a link to his Dad (I think). You might know him as #Jarvis, if you follow me on Twitter.

We had an Advertising exec around the week we'd got him, and there was only one name that made sense! (even if Popular Culture has passed Caroline by...!).

He's a beautiful little mutt, but his kidneys are shot, which is rather tragic.

That means that he's on a special diet recommended by our nice vet, Hilary Ross (search for Ross on this page [Midlands for some reason!]).

He gets sore kidneys and suffers quite a bit. On the upside, Caroline and I live on a farm in the country, and we can take Jarvis on the footpaths and by-ways around the local fields. Here's a photo of him in his "garden":

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...

Friday, 23 May 2008

Flickr vs. Picasa - which one to choose?

I'm wanting to do more photography. I've dusted off my FujiFilm A201. I've recently taken some photos of where we live, for a future post. I'm now thinking, what's the best way to store them online to use them.

I reckon my choice is between Flickr - part of Yahoo!, and Picasa - owned by Google.

I've had a Flickr account for some time, and a several dozen photos uploaded. I've liked being able to upload my photos into sets. Most, of all, though - I love that Flickr is a photographer's website. The quality of photos on their is fantastic.

Picasa is different, it that it seems to be aimed at people who want to organise the photos on their hard drive, and maybe publish them online to share with others.

The software indexes all you photos, and then helps you to upload them. You can then use the photos directly in conjunction with Blogger - nice.

However, the site itself is pretty underwhelming.


So, I'm thinking - which service do I want to go for in the longer term? To increase storage, one has to pay for both:

  • Flickr Pro is $25
  • Picasa - 10Gb of storage (i.e. up from the 1Gb that's free) is $20

Apart from the increase in storage for Picasa's $20, I'm not sure what extras I get. I was checking out http://www.flickr.com/help/forum/15730/?search=pro+features, where Brenda Anderson says:

"Upgrade to a Pro Account for just US$24.95 a year. Here's what you'll get with a Pro Account:
* 2 GB monthly upload limit
* Unlimited storage
* Unlimited bandwidth
* Unlimited photosets
* Permanent archiving of high-resolution original images
* The ability to replace a photo
* Ad-free browsing and sharing

Compare that to what you get with a Free Account:
* 20 MB monthly upload limit
* 3 photosets
* Photostream views limited to the 200 most recent images
* Storage of smaller (resized) images"

Call to Action

I'd like some feedback from you, what experiences have you had?

Which would you recommend and why?

Am I missing another service which is even better?

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Espléndido Hotel

Quick post to celebrate this fantastic hotel we stayed at in Mallorca.

It's on the seafront in Port de Sóller / Puerto Sóller - depending on whether you speak the Mallorcan dialect of Catalan, or Spanish.

Things to note:
  • Fantastic staff
  • Funky decor and ambiance, we loved it
  • Good facilities - we both had excellent massages, a real indulgence
  • Restaurant was v. good - I had a top entrecote steak on the night we arrived
  • Just a really good vibe.
It's owned by a Swedish couple, who have another hotel in Palma. Therefore, there was a mix of staff - Swedes, Mallorquin, Spanish etc. The guests were mainly professional people, with & without children. Swedes, Dutch, Brits, some Germans.

Wholeheartedly recommended. Not cheap, but fantastic value. We had a Seaview balcony, which was just the job.

We were really lucky with the weather, but there seemed to be quite a lot to do in the hotel if the elements weren't favourable.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Free Trade Pop Star

I'm thinking of becoming a pop star. I thought about becoming a musician, but then you don't need to play an instrument or sing to be a pop star. ;-)

It's because I want to become the first Free Trade Pop Star, who reads The Economist and is centre-right on Economic matters. Social matters don't matter in this scenario.

I'll try to avoid looking like a Young Conservative [heaven forfend], but I'm going to right on in a kind of non-political way.

I'm thinking of all those agitators who think they know something about business / international Economics because people like their music.

Ok, I *think* I do because I've subscribed (and read) The Economist for over ten years. [god, how boring ;-)]. Oh, and I got a C grade for Economics A Level (back when they were difficult).

Please may I have suggestions on what other Pop Stars / Musicians are unlikely to say, the following are examples:
  • Bono - would he say "get rid of the Common Agricultural Policy"?
  • Sir Bob - would he say "I want vouchers in Schools and the NHS?
  • Chris Martin - "I know what the Non-Accelerating Inflation rate of Unemployment is - nah nah na na nah"
  • Cheryl Cole - "don't talk to me about the Laffer curve"
  • Paris Hilton - "Oooh, I've been using my knowledge of Econometrics to figure out who's going to win and lose in this brilliant 10p re-working by my friends Alastair and Gordon" [or something like that]
You get the gist.

Would my credibility be sky-high because I'm counter-cultural? Or would the institutionalised "we know know how Economies work, stupid" from the musical fraternity mean I was frozen out of gigs and recording contracts?

Mmm, perhaps the business folk are capitalists. But then again, they probably don't like mp3 and get confused by the Pirate's Dilemma. Bah, you can't win.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Psychology experiments - Zimbardo and Milgram

I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol, in Psychology. It was a fascinating three years, and always relevant: i.e. it's about people.

I did a variety of modules
  • Social - about groups of people
  • Developmental - "from sperm to worm" apparently ;-)
  • Neuropsychology - about the brain and its physical functioning
  • Neuropsychopharmacology - chemicals in the brain, and also the effect of recreational drugs
  • etc.
This post is all about giving me an excuse to re-visit a couple of top experiments - basically social psychology, about how compliant people can be to authority. They involve two titans of the field, Philip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram.

Most of the following text is taken from Wikipedia.

Philip Zimbardo

"In the year 1971, Zimbardo accepted a tenured position as professor of psychology at Stanford University. There he conducted the infamous Stanford prison experiment, in which 24 normal college students were randomly assigned to be "prisoners" or "guards" in a mock prison located in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford (three additional college students were selected as alternates, but did not participate in the experiment).

The students quickly began acting out their roles, with "guards" becoming sadistic and "prisoners" showing extreme passivity and depression. Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited "genuine" sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and four had to be removed from the experiment early.

Ethical concerns surrounding the famous experiment often draw comparisons to the Milgram experiment, which was conducted in 1961 at Yale University by Stanley Milgram, Zimbardo's former high school friend."

Stanley Milgram

"The experiment

The role of the experimenter was played by a stern, impassive biology teacher dressed in a technician's coat, and the victim (learner) was played by an Irish-American accountant trained to act for the role. The participant and the learner (supposedly another volunteer, but in reality a confederate of the experimenter) were told by the experimenter that they would be participating in an experiment helping his study of memory and learning in different situations.[1]

Two slips of paper were then presented to the participant and to the actor. The participant was led to believe that one of the slips said "learner" and the other said "teacher," and that he and the actor had been given the slips randomly. In fact, both slips said "teacher," but the actor claimed to have the slip that read "learner," thus guaranteeing that the participant would always be the "teacher." At this point, the "teacher" and "learner" were separated into different rooms where they could communicate but not see each other. In one version of the experiment, the confederate was sure to mention to the participant that he had a heart condition.[1]

The "teacher" was given a 45-volt electric shock from the electro-shock generator as a sample of the shock that the "learner" would supposedly receive during the experiment. The "teacher" was then given a list of word pairs which he was to teach the learner. The teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to the learner. The teacher would then read the first word of each pair and read four possible answers. The learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the teacher would administer a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing for each wrong answer. If correct, the teacher would read the next word pair.[1]

The subjects believed that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual shocks. In reality, there were no shocks. After the confederate was separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level. After a number of voltage level increases, the actor started to bang on the wall that separated him from the subject. After several times banging on the wall and complaining about his heart condition, all responses by the learner would cease.[1]

At this point, many people indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the learner. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Most continued after being assured that they would not be held responsible. A few subjects began to laugh nervously or exhibit other signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner.[1]

If at any time the subject indicated his desire to halt the experiment, he was given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter, in this order:[1]

  1. Please continue.
  2. The experiment requires that you continue.
  3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
  4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

If the subject still wished to stop after all four successive verbal prods, the experiment was halted. Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in succession. This experiment could be seen to raise some ethical issues as the experimenter did not truthfully tell the people involved what the real test was for."

Monday, 14 April 2008

Lion's Mane here we come! Probably


You may recall that I bought some products from www.fungi.com just before Christmas. One of these was a little packet of wooden dowels, which have corkscrew channels cut in them. Into these channels, Fungi.com have innoculated Lion's Mane mushroom spore.

My challenge has been to drill holes in a geet big log of Poplar, which I bought from our friendly firewood supplier, Mark Ridley from Birtley (near Hexham). I then had to tap the dowels into the holes, and seal them with beeswax - according to the instructions.

It was going to be straightforward, but I borrowed the wrong sized drill bit from my Cousin, and therefore got a bit fed up when I couldn't get the dowels into the holes. Happily, Mark was happy to swap the 8mm for a 9mm drill bit, so I got cracking again.

Also, upon re-reading the instructions, I found I'd over-specced the size, so the log I've used is probably twice the diameter required. :-s

The beeswax seal keep any bugs out from munching the evolving muchroom / mycelia, I think.

For the beeswax, I ordered some beeswax candles from eBay: although I have to say I'm not impressed with the parcel service from Royal Mail. This is the second item I've had to had re-sent by an eBay seller as RM have "lost" my goods*. :-(

I will be uploading some "before" photos, so I can compare in, say, six months.

On a related note, my Parents kindly helped Caroline dig some pig muck (from the porkers next door to us) into the flower beds at the front.

I'd put my back out lifting some garden furniture [that's a convenient excuse... - Ed.] so it fell to Dad to plant the seed potatoes kindly donated by Tom next door (ok, over the fields). Dad sprinkled some Mycogrow for Vegetables in the trench, before putting the spuds in.

* Apparently, Ian Fleming's Auric Goldfinger said that "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action." I wait with dread for the next thing to disappear in the mail, as then I'll be forced to complain, and endure the hell that is the RM's customer complaint process (judging by the description on their website).

Friday, 11 April 2008

The limits of Web 2.0

Apologies if you've seen this from me via Twitter.

I wanted to replay it via a blog post because, behind the humour, I believe there's an important point here.

My sense it that we'll go through the Gartner Hype Cycle with various aspects of Web 2.0, and with Web 2.0 itself.

However, I reckon that whether you call it Wikinomics, Enterprise 2.0, Peer Collaboration, or vanilla Web 2.0, [I hope] we'll punch through to the "Slope of Englightenment" without too much of the froth.

My take is that it's down to us, working in the Technology sphere, to help others understand the concept, refuse to oversell things, and focus on organisational value. Our credibility, dented by past excesses, depends on everyone keeping their feet on the ground.

Oh, and developing the necessary upper body strength. Buwha-haha!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Choosing Adverts

Following on from my post back in January about what to blog about, here's one...

I was watching some TV recently, perhaps one of the series of Carlsberg ads. For me, they have been a really interesting and sympathetic experience, as well as enjoyable. [Enough of the flowery language - Ed.]

There is one in particular that I like, which is "Carlsberg doesn't do flatmates, but if it did, they'd be the best flatmates in the World". [I think maybe this ad was meant to appeal to blokes... ;-)]

OK, back to the point.

It led me to think that perhaps, if:
  • there is a series of ads
  • and the one you're just about to see is clearly the pants one
  • because you've seen all the others
  • and there's no way one was avoid the ad
... then perhaps we could be given the option of which ad we'd prefer to see in the series? That way the advertiser would know that the viewer was interested in the ad [she'd expressed a preference], and the viewer didn't have to go through the pants advert.

Probably madly complicated from a technological point of view, but I thought I'd put the idea out there, anyway.

Maybe Phorm could be adapted so that it knew which ads you'd like... ;-)

btw is it called Phorm because it thinks you're a criminal, or perhaps a racehourse? I wonder! >chin stroke<

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Is the Internet your silent Partner?

Caroline was on Radio Newcastle this morning. As a dutiful Partner, I decided to tune in and listen to her insights.

The DJ, Mike Parr, asked her whether the Internet was the silent Partner in our Relationship. Her answer made me smile (and gave me my 5 seconds of fame) - along the lines of:

"Yes, absolutely! He was spending so much time in the shed [where we have a small office] I thought he was having an affair... Apparently he was updating his Facebook profile..."

I'd like to state, for the record, that I was spending time in Second Life ;-)

fyi - work av is Fujitsu Infinity; personal av is Tandoorichicken Masala.

p.s. I'm feeling like the straight man in a double act - perhaps Syd Little? ;-D
p.p.s shame on you Bill Thompson, your frequent tweets have Caroline checking my text messages as well... ;-)
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Friday, 4 April 2008

Big up Gourmet Spot! :-)

Allow me to say a big "Thank You!" to Dr. Raj Naik, proprietor of the Gourment spot and surgeon Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Newcastle, UK (amongst other things).

An amazing gastronomical evening last night, with "Post-Modern Food" on the menu - cooked with Liquid Nitrogen, Dry Ice, and all sorts of confections. Raj and Sean the chef prefer Post-Modern Food to another term, molecular gastronomy - which you may be more familiar with.

We were privileged to be part of chef Sean Wilkinson's experimental evening, and to be joined by Sam and Dominic from Animmersion, Janice and Graeme Webster, and also Caroline Theobald (aka my lass)

Those of you following me on Twitter will know I'm interested in Virtual Worlds. Recently I was lucky enough to attend an RSA organised demo of a 3d appendectomy simulator. Very clever technology, delivered via web browser.

Raj has partnered with Sam and Dominic, and via NHS Innovations North (and connected together by Janice) they have put together the simulator. It could turn out to be the future of vocational training / tuition. :-D

Thursday, 27 March 2008

How to make a small Fortune

Some people say it's by starting with a big fortune and then buying a football club or string of racehorses.

However, the folks connected with Bear Stearns must be feeling it. It puts the performance of my FTSE ISA in a good light. :-s

I've been reading some articles in The Economist which make scary reading.
  • This from 5th Nov 07:
    • "Some think that Jimmy Cayne, Bear Stearns’s boss—fingered for playing golf and bridge while two of his bank’s hedge funds imploded—will be the next to pack his briefcase."
  • This from 10th Jan 08 (when :
    • "Mr Cayne had been under huge pressure to go, thanks to $1.9 billion of mortgage write-downs—leading to the bank's first-ever quarterly loss—and accusations that he had been more interested in improving his own performance at bridge and golf than shoring up his bank's standing in the markets.
    • He will remain as non-executive chairman, continuing to command an eight-figure salary, after Alan Schwartz, a trusted lieutenant, takes over as chief executive. Mr Cayne's durability prompted one observer to dub him the “Harry Houdini of the boardroom”."
  • This from 19th Mar 08:
    • Bear's executives have lost billions.
    • At $2 a share, the 5% stake held by Jimmy Cayne, the chairman and former chief executive, worth $1.2 billion at the shares' peak last year, is now valued at $11m (less than half of what Mr Cayne recently paid—mortgage-free, naturally—for an apartment in the Plaza Hotel).
For other investors (large and small), the damage is phenomenal (same article):
  • "Lowlier workers have been hit even harder. Bear encouraged them to buy shares after it went public in 1985. Their purchases have pushed employees' combined stakes to one-third. Some have lost their main nest eggs, others the money to put children through college. Worse, half or more of the 14,000 staff are expected to lose their jobs. Counsellors are on hand. Comparisons are being made with Enron, where the employees lost $2 billion in pensions.

    The shock is fast turning to anger: that bosses left it so late to seek capital; that employees were prevented from selling shares because an earnings announcement was coming; and, above all, that JPMorgan Chase has probably got a bargain.

    Allied with big shareholders such as Joe Lewis, a Bahamas-based billionaire who spent $1 billion on Bear stock last year, some employees like to think they can muster a majority against the deal when the vote is held in six weeks. On March 18th Bear's shares closed at $6.51, reflecting the chance of a higher offer."

That's a shocking turn-around.

Jimmy Cayne will presumably get a pay-off in the tens of millions of dollars. As our friends in the US say - go figure.

The Diving Bell and the Butterly - IRL #3

Final post on this: I recently came across a headset from a company called Emotiv. It sells something called the "EPOC Neuroheadset". Apparently it reads your brainwaves and you can control video games and virtual worlds. It can represent emotions in a robot-like interface, presented via a computer screen: see where I'm going here?

I haven't heard back from them yet - I dropped them a line about how appropriate this kind of tool might be for someone with major brain damage, but another potential way to unlock The Groom's world?

Blurb from their website follows. I realise it's a bit long-winded, but explains things infinitely better than I could!:
  • "Emotiv EPOC
    • The Emotiv EPOC now makes it possible for games to be controlled and influenced by the player's mind. Engaging, immersive, and nuanced, Emotiv-inspired game-play will be like nothing ever seen before. Based on the latest developments in neuro-technology, Emotiv has developed a new personal interface for human computer interaction.
    • The Emotiv EPOC uses a set of sensors to tune into electric signals naturally produced by the brain to detect player thoughts, feelings and expression. It connects wirelessly with all game platforms from consoles to PCs. The Emotiv neuroheadset now makes it possible for games to be controlled and influenced by the player's mind.
  • Technology
    • Emotiv's core technology was developed based on our research into the human brain - the central control center for all our interactions and experiences.
    • The brain is made up of approximately 100 billion nerve cells, which are called neurons. With the billions of active neurons, the brain tissue contains a myriad of active current sources that cause the local electrical potential to endlessly fluctuate with a great deal of variability.
    • Each human brain is unique, both physically and functionally. The folding of the cortex of the human brain is also highly individual, meaning the way in which the external surface of the brain is folded individualizes the potentials, regardless of how functionality is mapped in each brain. Using non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG), it is possible to observe each person's individual electrical brain activity.
    • At Emotiv, we've created a robust system and methodology for detecting and classifying both human conscious thoughts and non-conscious emotions. This revolutionary patent pending neural processing technology makes it possible for computers to interact directly with the human brain. By the detection of thoughts and feelings, our technology now makes it possible for applications to be controlled and influenced by the user's mind.
    • Detection Suites

      The Emotiv Game Developer SDK comprises of our development neuroheadset and proprietary toolkit, which incorporates our unique set of detection suites. Detection suites can be used alone or combined for an even more spectacular game play experience.

      Affectiv™ Suite
      The Affectiv suite monitors player emotional states in real-time. It provides an extra dimension in game interaction by allowing the game to respond to a player's emotions. Characters can transform in response to the player's feeling. Music, scene lighting and effects can be tailored to heighten the experience for the player in real-time. The Affectiv suite can be used to monitor player state of mind and allow developers to adjust difficulty to suit each situation.

      Cognitiv™ Suite
      The Cognitiv suite reads and interprets a player's conscious thoughts and intent. Gamers can manipulate virtual objects using only the power of their thought! For the first time, the fantasy of magic and supernatural power can be experienced.

      Expressiv™ Suite
      The Expressiv suite uses the signals measured by the neuroheadset to interpret player facial expressions in real-time. It provides a natural enhancement to game interaction by allowing game characters to come to life. When a player smiles, their avatar can mimic the expression even before they are aware of their own feelings. Artificial intelligence can now respond to players naturally, in ways only humans have been able to until now."
So, I was thinking that someone afflicted by Locked In syndrome (and others like it) could communicate with others using a tool, by being present together in a Virtual World environment. Probably expensive, but a really positive way to use this technology. :-D

See also my earlier posts - here and here.

The Diving Bell and the Butterly - IRL #2

So we arrive at the hospital and go to the High Dependency Unit. This is where the Groom was being cared for, because he lacks bodily movement and needs to be looked after round the clock.

We clean our hands with the cleaner provided, doing our bit to help with MRSA etc. :-s

There's the Groom's children, and various friends and relations from both sides. There are balloons and other accoutrements to get everyone in the spirit. The Registrar and her assistant wait patiently.

I'm in a suit for the big occasion and after while I get a little warm. The Bride is there, looking fantastic, if a little apprehensive.

The Groom is wheeled in and we make supportive noises; the ceremony begins. It's the standard marriage ceremony - most UK folk will be familiar. One of the key passages is the exchange of vows - i.e. saying "I Do".

Now, given that the Groom can't speak, can't sign anything and can't do sign language - how does he say / indicate "I do"? In this case, it was using a fascinating gadget called My Tobii.

This is a nifty, flatscreen-based device "with a difference". The difference is that around the screen are sensors which track eye movement. The device itself runs software which can be controlled by eye movements ("saccades" I believe), also with blinking.

So, the Groom was able (although with some assistance) to say "I Do"--rather like Stephen Hawking can, although Professor Hawking can move his fingers slightly, but it's the same deal.

Also, the Groom had to be based as mentally capable by one of the Hospital Consultants. What we observed was the Registrar applying the same tests which she'd use for any other wedding in this particular one.

What made the difference was technology, a tool to give a window into the Groom's life. :-D

Once the Ceremony was over, the Groom was able to trigger the My Tobii device to read out a little speech he'd prepared in the days leading up to the big day.

So, a man whose life has been drastically altered has a way of showing his inner will and love for his (now) wife, in front of the assembled throng. How he copes with the frustration of being "Locked In" is beyond me, but here's something to make us all smile.

See also my earlier post - here. Also #3 post here.

Worrying signs of how out of touch our MPs are :-(

Just reading some of the comments on Nick Robinson's admirable blog. I'm getting the distinct impression that the World of the Web, blogosphere et al--and what it has come to mean--is totally alien to our Members of Parliament.
This is beginning to feel like a struggle that Parliament is likely to lose - i.e. they've been trying to keep us in the dark, and for good reason (of their own). :-(

The format for the comments is:
  • Comment number
  • Time posted
  • Who by
I think you get the gist! ;-)

"6.Tony wrote:

Isn't it strange?

These people are concerned over their security if they reveal a few spending figures and yet the very same people are trying to force through legislation which would require everyone to carry a card with even biometric/genetic information on it!!!

As the government spying on it's citizens is now the norm they are forever telling us it shouldn't bother us if we have done nothing wrong, now we want to see how they spend OUR money suddenly it's all protect their privacy and civil liberties.

I say we shake all the MPs down and reveal every single detail about everything they have done/do, after all the decisions these people make affect wether people live or die, prosper or suffer. I say let them have it!"

Some more, to fully make the point:

" 8.
Liz Jordan wrote:

Said of the great Roman Empire before it fell: "The most important people in the empire had put aside the interests of the nation in place of their own."

Lets hope history repeats itself.

Peter Wood wrote:

NuLab is now totally reliant on the support of their massive welfare state clientele, who don't give a stuff about MP's expenses, as long as the benefits gravy train keeps rolling.

What MP's seem to have forgotten (or nervously try to ignore) is that there is still a sizable chunk of the electorate who can do basic maths and who do recognise chicanery when they see it.

The bottom line is that this is public money - yours and mine - that they're spending and they should have to properly account for every last penny of it.

Gerry Runcorn wrote:

I have some options to the MPs who don't want their expenses published.
1. The public don't want to know or care where you all live. All the voters want to know is that they are not being taken for a ride. So publish your expenses without your addresses.

2. If security is your issue, then the taxpayers could always build high
security accomodation in London for all MPs. I am sure the tax payer would not mind paying for them to have 24 hour guards when in London. You could all be bused to the commons together, save on congestion and improve your carbon footprint. This seems a saver option than MPs scattered all over London in houses that they/taxpayer has bought.

3 If the MPs still want to buy a 2nd home,with taxpayers help.
When they stop being an MP,the property and contents should be sold at auction,the taxpayers percentage of the sale of returned to the treasury.

If all else fails and they won't publish maybe we should all stand against these MPs at the next election.

Andy M wrote:

Oh dear. How ridiculous. Can't they see how bad this looks? I understand they don't want the side-benefits of being an MP to be widely known due to fears of damage to the institution of Parliament. But trying to prolong the inevitable like this is far worse. At least us taxpayers are keeping the legal teams well fed and watered-so someone's benefiting...

Hylton wrote:

Ahh, security the excuse again.

Simple, release details of the expenses but not the address to which they relate.

What is legitimate about the expectation to keep such lavish expenses secret?"

Enough said.