July 30, 2008
The Future is Here

Michael is twittering his wife's labour. Scary.

She should consider herself lucky it's not a Flickr photostream.

Update: OMFG, he's not alone: Realtime results for contractions.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
June 10, 2008
Adrian Holovaty at the Guardian

I was well aware that Adrian Holovaty is a very big name in the Python world. He's one of the two original developers of Django (my personal favorite web-app development framework) about which he's written the book. He's since used it to power some very cool mashups; chicagocrime.org and everyblock.com, amongst others.

What I didn't know is that he's also well known and regarded by forward-looking journalists. Emily Bell's introduction to his talk at the Guardian set me straight.

Adrian's talk was inspiring, both to the few techies in attendance and to most of the journalists, who made up the bulk of the audience. His central idea is that we should ensure that the information that the journalists have collected is stored in a structured way wherever possible. It's hard, skilled work gathering that valuable information, but full use is not being made of it. If it were stored in a structured fashion (rather than just in the text of a story; in a "blob" as Adrian put it) it could be made use of in many different ways.

A great example of this is Faces of the Fallen. The information here is gathered by the journalists, but it can be explored in many different ways; by age, birthplace, all sorts of things.

Another interesting strand to Adrian's talk was the automated collection of data. The Washington Post runs a congressional voting record site, almost all the data for which is collected automatically. everyblock.com is another example of this kind of thing.

Explorability is crucial. Think how often you get stuck in the Wikipedia, 'cos there are just so many interesting links to follow. You go in to read one article, and find yourself with half a dozen tabs open all containing apparently unrelated corners of the 'pedia that you've stumbled upon, all of which you want to read. Don't you want your site to be like that?

Jemima Kiss has written up Adrian's talk better than I ever could here: Future of Journalism: Adrian Holovaty's vision for data-friendly journalists. Well, she is a pro.

Then, after work, Adrian, Julia and I headed off to Le QuecumBar for some disappointingly inauthentic Gypsy Jazz.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
April 23, 2008
Twitter Tracking

Twitter tracking; creepy, not creepy (I hope, in response to this).

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
April 21, 2008
Missing the Point

Cluetrainwreck - Comcast have been monitoring twitter for averse comments about them, and responding with messages along the lines of "I hope we can change your perception".

The creepy stalkerish twitter-scanning side of this aside, this so reminds me of New Labour. Whenever some New Labour apparatchnik appears on TV to discuss an unpopular policy, the line always seems to be "we accept that we have to work harder to get our message across". The idea that we all understand the message perfectly well, but don't like it, doesn't seem to occur.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 09:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
April 17, 2008
DOSing the big G

We often have applause rippling around our office. Usually it's positive but not always...

Yesterday, one of our devs (who shall remain nameless) was looking for duplication in some form of content or other, and came up with a script. It was always going to be evil - it was in Perl. The script made calls to Google, looking for duplicate results. He kicked it off, then went out for lunch.

Google, naturally, blocked us PDQ. Quite right too - see 5.3. They blocked the entire Guardian. (You could still use Google, but had to get past a captcha for each search.)

Of course, we've all done it. Haven't we? But blocking the entire Guardian was a bit of a coup.

Took us a while, but we managed to find the box in question and kill the script. The nameless dev was late back from lunch - we were speculating that he might have been bundled into a black van with a G on the side. But he did get back safe and sound, to a rousing round of applause from the entire office.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
April 16, 2008
Welcome to the newest waste of time on the 'net

Backward looking old fart that I am, I've only just started twittering.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
More on the GAE

One of the most interesting things about the GAE to me is the non-relational data store. I've blogged only recently about my doubts about that approach.

A friend of mine from the big G go back to me about this. "To answer your question about what's wrong with a real database, the datastore is all about scalability. The API trades off flexibility with access paths and transaction boundaries for the ability to store terrifyingly huge volumes of data, while serving a bazillion concurrent accesses.

Compared to an RDBMS, I find this style of data storage requires a bit more thought and design up front. However, almost every RDBMS based app I've ever written has required me to go back and optimise my schema and queries any way, so overall, schema-related work is about the same. Not having SQL does make running arbitrary reports and so forth more difficult."

Hmmmm. Now, coming from Google, this bears thinking about. Scalability as an issue I can see. We do have to put in a lot of work to keep guardian.co.uk performant, and it's almost all at the database, fiddling with schema and queries level. Much to think about...

Other people's thoughts on this; Google Datastore and the shift from a RDBMS and Google AppEngine, BigTable and why RDBMS mentality is harmful.

More on the GAE:

Posted by Simon Brunning at 03:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
April 09, 2008
Google App Engine Roundup

Loads of stuff in the blogsphere about the Google App Engine, unsurprisingly, some of it even worth reading.

So, it's looking good, though I'm still concerned about lock-in. It's not just the Datastore API which locks you in - that's probably fairly east to emulate - but also the Authentication and Authorization API, which looks much trickier.

Update: As Ade says, you certainly don't have to lock yourself in to GAE's Users API.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
Website of the year

The Guardian wins the website of the year award at the British Press Awards. Well done us. There will be cake today. ;-)

Fingers crossed for the webbies...

Oh, and some people appreciate the fine details, too.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 09:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
March 03, 2008
Quote of the Day

I've always said, the Web is the sum of all human knowledge plus porn.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
The End of the Affair, Version 2.0

He dumps her on Wikipedia, then she sells his stuff on eBay. Magic.

And there was me that thinking that the way to dump someone these days was to mark yourself as single on Facebook. Clearly I'm not as Web 2.0 as I thought I was.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
February 11, 2008
New guardian.co.uk site...

It's been a busy weekend, but it's mostly done now. We did UK, World, The Guardian, The Observer and Audio this time, along with a few bits and pieces. The biggies.

Next up for re-launch, Sport. And given the storm-in-a-teacup over the removal of the football link from the front page, and you imagine what it'll be like when the entire sport site changes?

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
February 06, 2008
Have the Stars Come Right?

Five submarine cables cut now, is it? I wonder if The Bloop is occurring a lot at the moment?

Posted by Simon Brunning at 03:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
February 04, 2008
The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: Monkey Boy's three-legged race

Fake Steve Jobs has really nailed the Microsoft/Yahoo! merger here: Monkey Boy's three-legged race.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 13, 2007
Something Rotten in the State of Facebook

Nasty stuff on Facebook. I'm really going off it, I must say.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 04, 2007

Bebo seems to be all the rage with the primary school attending demographic all of a sudden. Both my girls are on it, terms of service or no, and were squabbling over the computer all weekend. It's sort of like a Fisher-Price Facebook.

I'm happy enough for them to be on there, so long as I watch over their shoulders to make sure they aren't up to no good. Besides, we've had the whole "The Internet can be a dangerous place, don't trust (or especially meet) strangers" talk, and they are smart girls.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
February 08, 2007
QCon London

I don't think I'll be able to make QCon, London this year - my current employer doesn't really see the point of conferences. Which is a shame, 'cos it could have been designed for us. There are an uncanny number of speakers relevant to us: Jeff Sutherland ('cos we Scrum), Gavin King ('cos we use Hibernate), Rod Johnson ('cos we use Spring), and Alex Russell ('cos we use Dojo), plus movers and shakers like Martin Fowler, Werner Vogels, Kylie, and Dave Thomas. I might be lying about one of those, though.

Never mind - there's always PyCamp!

And who knows - I might win a ticket. ;-)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)
February 06, 2007
What is Web 2.0?

We'll have to re-think a few things:


Via Media Influencer.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 31, 2006
Where's mine?

Thanks to Nick, I discover that my dad has a Wikipedia page. The world has gone mad.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
October 24, 2006
Walk It

Steve pointed me at a nice new route planning site - Walk It. The difference between this and, say, Google Map is that (as the name suggests) Walk It is aimed at pedestrians. I'm fed up with being told that I can't take a footpath or walk both ways up a one way street. ;-)

My main issue with the site itself is its lack of obvious URL hackability. The site won't show you the URLs it generates for the searches, unlike Google Maps. There is an "Email to a friend" option, though, and having played with the URLs sent by that, it turns out that you can use URLs in this form: http://www.walkit.com/validate.aspx?from=e18an&to=se18lp. (That's me meeting Steve for a beer this evening sorted!)

Naturally, some of the routes it suggests are sub-optimal - it's pretty new, and besides, software generated routes often look a bit odd to me.

Anyone care to guess how long it will be before Google Maps' route finder includes an "on foot" checkbox, swatting this impudent newcomer like a fly?

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
October 06, 2006
Google remains as smart as ever

I appear to be #1 page for any old crap. Fantastic.

I'm no longer the only hit for "I hate Carol Vorderman", but I'm still #1 for that too. Top!

Update: Also irritating habits.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
February 15, 2006
Google Mail

WTF? For the past two days, Google Mail has been making all off the effbot's posts to c.l.py as spam! How the hell did that happen? You'd be hard pressed to find a higher signal to noise ratio than you'd find in the effbot's posts - they are the complete opposite of spam.

How does Google Mail decide what is and is not spam anyway? Is it based on what I've marked as spam, or is it a community effort? Might I perhaps have marked one of Fredrik's posts as spam by accident?

Other than that, Google Mail just keeps on getting better and better - Google-turning-evil concerns aside. The new integrated chat works very well. (You may have to pretend to be a yank to get it, though.) One less widget that I need hanging around my desktop. The only thing it's missing is some prominent way of notifying me that someone's trying to message me, but they've done the best they can given the limitations of the browser window, and I'm sure that forthcoming versions of the GMail Notifer will have something.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
June 23, 2005
Instant Messaging

Mum is looking to do a spot of Instant Messaging with her Amida Buddhism chums. (My, look at all those blogs! All down to Mum's example.)

I've been looking at IRC recently, and it's really nice for techies. I've been using Bersirc as a client and Freenode as a server, and it's dead good. I've had some really useful help with Spring on #spring, and #python is cool too. (Say "Hi" if you are around there - I'm on as "small_values".)

But is it good for non-techies? If not, what should I recommend to her instead? Trillian? Miranda? Using what protocol? ICQ? (Anyone mentioning MSN can bugger off. These people are Buddhists, and need to keep their souls pure.)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)
April 19, 2005
A Local Search, for Local People

Google Local comes to the UK.

My locals. Shocking, the lot of them.

Via Random Acts Of Reality.

Update: See also Google SMS UK.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
March 01, 2005
Where did it go?

The Internet went missing today. It's only just come back - hence no posts today.

I think the sys-admins eventually found it under the sofa.

Update Wednesday 2nd: This was it - Redbus power failure - companies form group to voice concerns.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
February 22, 2005
Mad website of the day

Project C-90, via Rhodri.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)
December 10, 2004
Google Suggest

Google Suggest, via Ned. Just start typing a search term - slowly...

How do they work out the ranking? Mind reading, that's my theory. They just know what you want. They are that good.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 24, 2004
Kick Ass!

Go Firefox!

Update: see also The enemy within. ;-)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
November 19, 2004
Google Scholar

Google Scholar. I'm not first hit for brunning in that one...

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
September 27, 2004
Managers are *weird*

I've just been flamed by El Presidente for bottom-posting, would you believe!

I did steer him towards Top-posting vs. bottom-posting - or - Microsoft Outlook vs. The Right ThingTM, a good, non-dogmatic, seeing both sides of the argument overview, but he's not having any of it: "personally it irritates, my eye skips backwards and forwards trying to find the pertinent point without having to re read all the text". :-(

Anyway, that's me off down the pub now.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
I could stop...

If I wanted to.

Two weeks? That's evil. Isn't there something in the Geneva Convention about that kind of thing?

Via holygoat.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
September 24, 2004

Firefox extensions. Geddit? (Whistling wind, tumbleweed.)

Suit yourselves.

Anyway, Gordon mentions some of his favourite extensions. The Web Developer extension in particular is a must-have. If, that is, you are a web developer. ;-)

There are a few extensions that I'd hate to be without that he doesn't mention:

  • Linky allows you to drag-select a bunch of links and open them all at once.
  • IE View allows you to open a page or link in IE - dead handy for testing. And like it or not, you have to test with IE.
  • Tabbrowser Extensions allows you to drag and drop tags, close loads of tags at once, and quite a few more things. Give it a try.
  • Google Bar - a clone of Google's IE toolbar.

That's what I use, but your needs are probably different, so check out all the Firefox Extensions and see what you fancy.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)
September 13, 2004

I suspect that Google's Gmail is topping out now - everyone seems to have an account if they want one at this point, and everyone has accounts to give away.

Charles Miller's controlled growth theory is such a brilliant but simple idea that I'm sure it has to be true - in which case, we might see Gmail's doors thrown open to all and sundry any time soon. Still, in the meantime, I have invites if anyone wants one...

BTW, Charles' reply is a scream.

Update: Perhaps the marked isn't as sated as I thought - only one more invite to go...

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
September 03, 2004

Chris Applegate has put together a useful little web app: Post2Tiny. Give it a UK postcode, and it'll give you a short URL to a map. Nice. Details here.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
July 20, 2004

People have been mentioning del.icio.us, the on-line bookmark manager, on and off for some time, but I've only in the last couple of days got around to giving it a go. It's fabulous! I'll never save bookmarks to my desktop again. It's very simple, but it does everything it needs to do. Give it a go.

My bookmarks.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
June 18, 2004
I am not a hacker

I'm not what the general populace calls a hacker (and what we nerds call a cracker). I don't have the skills, and I've never had the inclination.

(I am also not what I'd call a hacker - but I'd like to be.)

I've never had the inclination before, but oh boy, I'd love to take these guys out...

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
May 21, 2004
Blogs in Business

Two and a half years ago, I suggested that my company publish an industry news feed, and build a feed reader into the web applications that we build for our clients. Most of our clients are in a very vertical market, so this could have flown, I thought - we could have delivered useful news, and slipped product release information in there too.

Did my company pick up this idea and run with it? Did they buggery.

Well, it appears that it wasn't such a stupid idea after all. Even Bill Gates thinks that blogs are useful business communication tool now.

This is distinct from the plogging idea I mentioned recently, BTW. Plogging is the use of a blog as an internal communication tool - Gates was talking about using them as external communication tools, too.

Via Coté.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)
May 20, 2004
Unnecessary Communications

Lucky you're not a monk, Mum - A bhikshu who has his private e-mail account with the result that he spends an inordinate amount of time in making unnecessary communications or communications which foster attachment commits an offence for which he must express regret.

Lucky I'm not a monk, too, I suppose. Besides, my existence is monk-like enough as it is. :-(

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 18, 2004

brunningonline.net has been down all morning. My credit card refused a £6 payment - I don't know why; it went through without issue when 1&1 retried.

I'm still on client site, so I missed the warning email. It wasn't until brunningonline.net disappeared that I know there was a problem. Sigh. All OK now, though.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 14, 2004
The acronym tag

Am I abusing XHTML's acronym tag if I use it to mark up abbreviations as well as actual acronyms?

Am I a pedantic arse?

I know I'm abusing it when I use it to hide rude messages in peoples' names, but that's another matter entirely...

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)
March 22, 2004
Offline today

Our poxy proxy server is dead, so we have no Internet access and no external email today. Sigh.

Update: I'm back.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
March 15, 2004
More orkut

I've had a bit of a play with orkut now, and it's quite interesting. I'm still far from sure where it's all going to go, but there is a lot of potential here.

I think that Sam's right in that orkut is better at providing a framework for existing communities than it is at creating new ones. Similarly, it's not really a way of making new friends; it's just a way of linking to friends you already have.

One thing it would be good for, though, is enabling people to make contact with friends of friends. If I wanted, say, to get in touch with that interesting friend of Steve's that I met in the pub the other night, then orkut could provide a path.

The community forums don't really seem to have taken off. What would you discuss at the Python community forum, for example, that wouldn't be better discussed at c.l.py?

A few gripes:

Why do I have to be someone's friend before I can be their fan? I've put myself down as a friend of Alex Martelli and Steve Holden, for example, though I've met the former once and the latter never at all. I had to do this in order to register myself as a fan.

Also, there aren't enough categories. "Haven't met", "acquaintance", "friend", "good friend" and "best friend" are all very well, but where do I put my mother in there? (Well, out of those options, obviously it's got to be "best friend" - especially since she reads this blog. ;-)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
February 23, 2004
My blog stinks

Well, I like to think it doesn't, but one day it might...

OK, OK, perhaps it does. :-(

If your blog had a smell, what would it smell of?

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
January 27, 2004

Watch out for this new worm: Mydoom spreading as fast as Sobig.

On the other hand, if it's going to perform a denial of service attack on SCO, I'm tempted to let it in...

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
January 05, 2004
Congratulations, Sir Tim

Tim Berners-Lee gets a knighthood.

And via Ben, the pun of the year (so far) - “And why stop at a knighthood? They should make him an Url.”

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 05, 2003

I just received a very odd email. Clearly it's a scam of some kind, but I can't work out exactly what's going on.

The mail's "Subject" was "Transaction Receipt (UKCards)", and it claimed to be from "UKCards [receipt@ukcards.com]". The body of the mail was as follows:

"Please note: All charges to your statement
will appear in the name "UKCARDS LIMITED".

Order Information
Amount: £399.95
Currency: GBP
Description: iPod Music Player 40GB

Customer Service
Telephone: 01480 456111
Email: N/A

Delivery Address
47 Silver Street, London, NW1 5TR

If you have any questions on the delivery
of this order or product details please contact
the merchant directly using the above details."

Needless to say, I've placed no such order. (I only wish I could. Mmmm, iPod.)

Now, no credit card details are mentioned - certainly 'cos they don't have my credit card details. "NW1 5TR" isn't a valid postcode, and there is no Silver Street anywhere in NW1.

Here's the really funny bit - 01480 456111 is the phone number for the Cambridgeshire Constabulary. WTF is going on here?

Update: Bogus Apple iPod spam attempts to launch attack on police phone system, Sophos comments. "On 8 December, police announced that a 21-year-old man has been arrested and released on bail in connection with the incident."

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)
November 27, 2003
Spam filtering tools a bad thing?

Spam - it's a bad thing. So far, so uncontentious.

The volume of spam that people are receiving these days is such that many are using automated tools to filter it out. Many of the state-of-the-art use Bayesian Filtering to decide if something is spam or not. SpamBayes seems to be one of the most successful at the moment.

In Bayesian Dark Side, Ian Bicking raises an important issue which hadn't occurred to me. An oppressive government could use this technology to control its citizens' access to the 'net. The better spam filters become, the more effective they might be as censorware. And they are getting very good indeed, given the Red Queen style arms race that the spammers and the spam tool writers are engaged in.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
November 21, 2003
Website of the week

One for Tracey - RecipeZaar.

This is a great website. It's a recipe database, with superb search facilities.


Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
Technology in the pursuit of human happiness


Via Minnow town.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 17, 2003
The Nigerian Scam

You can't con an honest man, they say. An avaricious fuckwit, OTOH...

This is the sort of thing that makes generating spam worthwhile. If one recipient in a million falls for it, the spammers are quids in.

Via Tilesey.

Update 17th December: Good God, they got Polly Toynbee now!

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
November 05, 2003
How to stop spam for once and for all

Break email altogether! Thank you, Derek Wyatt MP, for showing us just how well informed the UK decision making process is.

Via random stuff.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
September 22, 2003
More addictive than crack

The Wikipedia's Random page link.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
September 19, 2003

I missed out on Sobig.F and the other recent viruses and worms, but this scurvy bilge rat is doing the hornpipe all over me servers. Arrr!

Norton is sending it to Davy Jones' locker, so I hope everyone updates right smartly.

I spotted Microsoft Press' Writing Secure Code the other day. Yeah, right, I'm sure that's a top seller.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
August 26, 2003
Aunty is giving it all away

It's one of those moments when one can feel really proud to be British. They seem to be getting rare these days - the last one I can remember was when Gordon Brown wrote off hundreds of millions of Third World debt.

Anyway, Danny O'Brien's coverage is excellent - freeing the bbc.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
August 21, 2003

Sobig is biggest virus of all. Nasty.

I've not had any of these at all. This is odd, 'cos the anti-virus software we use quarantines email viruses, but the emails themselves do get through. I suppose that out security guys must have done something clever with the firewall or something, to strip this virus out before it even hits our email server.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
August 20, 2003
Blue screen of megadeath

Slammer worm crashed Ohio nuke plant net

They use Windows to run nuclear power stations? That's insane.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
August 13, 2003
Perhaps it will be worth getting WiFi after all...

The idea of surfing over a coffee at Starbucks is an attractive one - but not at the prices they are charging.

One day, though, WiFi may be free. Charging for online usage would be like charging for salt and pepper.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
August 01, 2003
Jail Babes

Is Jail Babes some kind of a joke? It must be, surely?

Via Yorkshire Soul.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
July 22, 2003
A post-literate society?

Rebecca Blood points out that society has moved from a being an oral society to being a literate one in the (comparatively) recent time. She also suggests that we are now moving towards post-literacy.

This is resulting in Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder. I know exactly what she's talking about here...

The Internet, we all know, is flooding us with information. Rebecca points out that this isn't all bad, but that it's giving us problems with focus.

(Post-literate doesn't mean that we can't or won't read, BTW. Read the article.)

(Also BTW - is Rebecca Blood a real name? It's too good to be true for a goth to be born with 'Blood' for a surname.)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
July 09, 2003
Online groups

A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy

So there's this question "What is required to make a large, long-lived online group successful?" and I think I can now answer with some confidence: "It depends." I'm hoping to flesh that answer out a little bit in the next ten years.

As a participant (to one extent or another) in several online communities, I found this a fascinating read.

Via Joel.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 03:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
July 07, 2003
The internet is shit.

The internet is shit.

Well, I'm with Andy on this one. And there's two of us, and only one of him. Besides, he doesn't even seem to know that 'Internet' should be capitalised! Stupid bastard.

And with arguments like those in our arsenal, the argument is as good as won.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
July 02, 2003
Google toolbar 2.0

The Google Toolbar 2.0 is in beta. The popup blocker is fab, and I'm sure the 'Blog This' button would be great too, if I were a Blogger user.

But what happened to the info button? Version 1.0 if the toolbar had one, and it allowed quick access to English translations and back references (amongst other things). I miss it!

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)
July 01, 2003
Email on the road...

I was previously using beer.com for my email on the move. Sadly, it's been pretty unreliable, though, so I've had to switch to Yahoo.

This is a shame, 'cos I'm sad enough to think that a beer.com address was pretty cool. But it was bouncing mails sent to me, and those that did arrive were not becoming visible for an hour or two. Yahoo, though not cool, works fine.

Hotmail? Wouldn't touch it with yours, mate.

Anyone had any notable experiences, good or bad, with a free web-based email account?

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
April 16, 2003
Bottom-Heavy Email

If I've ever sent you an email from work, you'll have seen the big wodge of cruft at the bottom.

The information in this email is confidential and may be legally
privileged. It is intended solely for the addressee. Access to this
email by anyone else is unauthorised. If you are not the intended
recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution, or any action taken or
omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be
unlawful. <My Employer> Ltd. cannot accept liability for statements made
which are clearly the senders own.

This is pretty embarrassing - since this was added, I've posted to c.l.py and the like very much less frequently.

Well, it looks like companies are pretty much obliged to put this stuff in these days - you can't get insurance without it. So it looks like we'll just have to put up with this waste-of-perfectly-good-bandwidth in future. Sigh.

Oh, and the missing apostrophe in "senders" is just the icing on the cake. ;-)

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
December 12, 2002
Google goes shopping

For all your on-line shop search needs - Google's new Froogle service.

Superb name!

Via b3ta.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 26, 2002
Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam: how unwanted e-mails are taking over cyberspace

So it's not just me, then.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
September 24, 2002
Google News

Google News, for all your news gathering needs. What more is there to say?

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
September 13, 2002
A real piece of history

The First Smiley :-)

It's the 20th anniversary if the first smiley next Thursday.

International Smiley Day. I like it.

Via The Register.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
September 03, 2002
Google Glossary

The Google Glossary, at Google Labs. Very cool.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
August 27, 2002
Unwanted Internet fame

When bright ideas bite back

It's a good thang that I don't have any good ideas, isn't it.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
July 23, 2002
The Italians disable 5 US based websites

Police in Italy didn't care that five Web sites they deemed blasphemous and thus illegal were located in the United States, where First Amendment protections apply. The police shut them down anyway.

The Yanks are up in arms about it, naturally. "Other nations shouldn't be allowed to impose their laws on our citizens! Only we should be able to do that sort of thing!"

More light than heat at Slashdot, for a change.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
The Human Clock

The Human Clock.

Via chris.carline.org.

This one is good, too.

But don't look at this one. Trust me, you don't want to see it.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
July 03, 2002
How to win friends and influence people - online

In Top of the Heap, David Gallagher talks about his quest to become the top David Gallagher in Google (which he is), then the top David (which he isn't).

I'm the top Simon Brunning. But then I'm the only Simon Brunning, so that isn't saying much. I don't show up under Simon at all, so far as I can see. But there are over four million hits - I'm probably in there somewhere.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 27, 2002
A History of Teapots

A History of Teapots.

It's, er, a history of teapots. No, really.

Safe for work. Very safe for work.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
June 24, 2002
Microsoft bids to control your PC and the Internet

Palladium is Microsoft's attempt to gain full control for once and for all.

Amongst other things "Palladium won't run unauthorized programs". And Microsoft get to decide which programs are authorized. Yeah, right.

Still, they aren't getting it all their own way - further coverage of Peru's OSS laws, which I've mentioned before.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 18, 2002

According to News.com, AlltheWeb has now indexed more pages than Google.

"However, the number of pages in an index is only one indicator of a search engine's power. Others include how often it is updated, how easy it is to use and how quickly its results are generated", they say. Even more important, I think, is how good the links are. From Google you get quality rather than quantity - the link that I want is usually on the first page.

Besides, AlltheWeb doesn't support Elmer Fudd.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 12, 2002

Fantasy death-row.

Sick, sick, sick.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 05:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
New release of omniORB

A new version of Duncan Grisby's CORBA ORB for C++ and Python, omniORB, has been released.

I saw Duncan speak at this year's Python UK conferance. He sold me on CORBA, I must say, but I haven't put it to use yet. I wouldn't be surprised if I used CORBA with Java first.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 03:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 07, 2002
Are your beliefs self consistent?

Try Battlefield God and find out.

I took two hits, and bit no bullets.

There are some other philosophical games here too.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 22, 2002
Sigh. More unmissable daily reading...

Question of the Day at HowStuffWorks.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Google Labs

Check out some of Google's new toys.

Pretty cool, most of them. But Voice Search? Why?

Update: Ha! Beat them to it! BTW, don't expect quick responses from Google's lab machines for a while.

Further update: Incredible! It really works!

Posted by Simon Brunning at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 21, 2002
Pub guide

What an excellent pub guide!

Combine with CurryPages, and all your evening planning needs are catered for.

Also check out the pulling guide. I follow the Nik and James technique myself.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 04:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 15, 2002

K5 is becoming increasing eclectic - less like /. every day. Interesting stuff, when it isn't navel gazing.

For example, there are a couple of articles on particle physics, a discussion about US military doctrine, a guide to eating for cheap, and a discussion about violent video games and sport.

They have nerdyness in common, I suppose, but other than that, they are pretty varied.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Enemies reunited

The Grauniad has this article about a net stalker. Be careful out there!

Posted by Simon Brunning at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
The BBC's search engine

According to The Register, the BBC's new search engine isn't as "editorially independent" as they would have us believe.

Quite how they thought they could improve upon Google, I can't imagine. Still, it's only money. Our money, that is.

Posted by Simon Brunning at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)