Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still Not Getting It

Warner is threatening YouTube again. Take down those videos of Warner artists or we'll get you! Yawn yawn yawn.

The below image is a screen grab of the wonderfully interesting Digital Bites (found via TIGS).

The quote, from a BBC interview with Chad Hurley (one of YouTube's founders) is:

"The people that they are trying to go after are their biggest fans".


Monday, December 15, 2008

Star Wars here we come!

"Airborne laser lets rip on first target" - here from New Scientist. Cool and scary at the same time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Save Cranberry

Lovely Christmas campaign from CMW.

Save Cranberry the turkey from being cooked here, or don't.

Bonus link: my recent CMW blog post on Obama.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Innocent Newsletter (no planning cliches, I promise)

Think what you like about Innocent, but without question they get the need for being interesting. I subscribe to their newletter, not to learn about their new smoothies or latest kerazzeee marketing ideas, but for the links at the bottom.

Every week you get 5 or 6 links to weird and wonderful things on the internet. Here's this week's "And finally..."

And finally...

  • Squid with elbows.
  • Huge hula hoop.
  • Veg art.
  • Leaf mimic.
  • Whack-a-mouse
  • Monday, November 17, 2008

    Whether to own-up or not?

    A year and a half a ago, the wife and I purchased a Quinny Buzz for our first born. We were very happy with it and recommended it to a couple of friends who bought it too.

    Now that our little one is a bit bigger and winter is drawing in - we noticed that the straps were getting very tight, without any visible means of lengthening them. A quick Google search found this link, and several others with the same story. There was a production error on the 2007 models meaning the straps were too short. Dorel, the UK importers of Quinny, were matter of fact when I called them and they've ordered some new parts for me. No trouble at all. (Call 01842 763 281 in the UK).

    Now Dorel / Quinny must have sat around a table and decided what to do when they realised this problem. And in my opinion, they've picked less than wisely. Their options were:
    1. Keep as quiet as possible, hope no-one notices and sort out those that do efficiently. (Which is what they've done)
    2. Shout loudly that they've made a mistake and get all the products sorted.

    Option 1 minimises the shock. The shock that sending out all those extra parts means to profit and resource. But it also alienates your tribe (visit Seth's blog for more on tribes). For those that find out, they tell the same friends as before and so the parts are still required, but you've lost some love and trust. Others will suffer in silence, ultimately not using their pushchair anymore and certainly not recommending it to friends.

    Option 2 keeps your tribe of recommenders, keeps everyone happy, keeps the Buzz visible in all the smart London parks, keeps your business going in the future.

    It seems to me that Quinny / Dorel forgot the Cluetrain. Forgot that their customers move a lot faster than they do, forgot that they can talk to each other (a lot).

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Sun Headlines - A New Blog

    Sun headlines capture the mood and consciousness of the nation. So I've started a new blog to showcase them. I'll be posting the headline of the day as well as some of the classics.

    Here's the link to the blog.

    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    New Faith In Humanity

    I simply love it when the public is a bit naughty. It restores my belief in humanity - that people out there are fun loving and generally social rather than knife-wielding loonies.

    Rick-rolling the MTV awards is a perfect example.

    Similar to the "Jedi" as a religion meme in the British Census a few years back.

    Keep on misbehaving people!

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Just Testing...

    ...the Lifecast iPhone app.

    Posted with LifeCast

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Visualising Freetext Data

    Faced with a mighty amount of freetext research data, I naturally wanted a short cut to understand what was there and then an interesting way of presenting it.

    Then I remembered tag clouds - look down the right hand side of this blog for an example from Zoom Clouds. But my data was in Excel, not on a blog or website.

    A spot of Googling and a dear colleague found Tag Crowd that makes a nice cloud from any data.

    Here's a result from the question "What is the worst thing about France?"
    It would have been a bit better if I'd filtered the results a little - you can do this easily in the Tag Crowd interface.

    Happy Planner.

    iPhone, iCal, Microsoft Outlook and the Sync Conundrum

    A little bit different from my normal posts, but I've found a fix that's worth sharing.

    So using iphone for multiple calendars...

    [Note added later: the most effective method for this is to use MobileMe, but I'm way to cheap to pay for that. So using iphone for multiple calendars for free...]

    I have a PC with the usual Microsoft stuff at work. And a Mac with iCal at home. Switching on the calendar element of the Microsoft Exchange stops exchange of data with ical and removes the iCal data. So how do I get both my calendars on my iphone?

    This isn't perfect but it seems to work (NB I've not done steps 2 or 3 yet, that's a task for tonight!). The trick is to use an internet based calendar. I've gone for Google Calendar, but I've heard you can do similar things in Plaxo.

    Step 1: Sync your Outlook with Google Calendar.
    Nice easy instructions here.

    Step 2: Take the feed from this Google Calendar and subscribe using iCal.
    Instructions here. As noted above, I've not tried this yet, so fingers crossed for this (& particularly step 3!)

    Step 3: Sync your iphone with your mac as normal
    Fingers firmly crossed.

    Not perfect especially as the Google Calendar to iCal sync is unilateral. But a good start nonetheless.

    [Note added later: this all works just fine. Just a pity that iCal doesn't sync back to Google Calendar. You can buy this if you want to solve that problem]

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Community and Antisocial Behaviour

    The video in my previous post has got me thinking a bit on how the changing nature of community could be impacting on (antisocial) behaviour.

    So here's another unsubstantiated hypothesis.

    Community used to be defined by geography and the people contained within your personal catchment area. Now it's about who you're connected to via whatever means you have available. Geography is irrelevant.

    As you're getting your sense of community and belonging from elsewhere, perhaps you care a bit less about your physical location and its populace. Because you're uber-connected to people and ideals that resonate strongly, you don't need the people and places whose only relevance to you is physical proximity.

    Link this to a lack of emotional intelligence or mind-blindness, and you can explain quite a bit of what appears to be antisocial behaviour.

    Anthropology of You Tube

    Find an hour and watch this.

    From the guy who bought you this piece of wonderfulness.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Sprint Cuts - save valuable time!

    Check out these handy time-saving tips

    (OK, so it's part of an ad campaign, but it's still funny).

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    Mind-Blindness & The Yoof of Today

    Another week, another teenager murdered in London.

    Fingers are being pointed in all sorts of directions - the parents and their lack of involvement, the government and their too soft policies, teachers and their inability to control, violent video games, poor behaviour of the football-playing role models. The list of suspects is very long indeed. And the solution is, no doubt, not as linear as people would hope - with the cause most-likely being the summation of genes, events, locations and relationships that forms the context in which these teenagers are learning their world view.

    There seems to be plenty of solution-hunting going on without true appreciation of what the problem is. Yes, teenagers killing each other is the obvious problem, but we need to get to the root of why this is occuring rather than trying to solve things which ain't necessarily broke. I won't labour the obvious analogy with much marketing / advertising.

    The seemingly psychotic behaviour, with the perpetrators apparently lacking any care or insight into the victim's suffering reminded me of a theory of autism, mind-blindness. Initially described by Simon Baron-Cohen, mind-blindness is where a person has an inability to develop an awareness of what is in the mind of another human. (I suspect there is a link to the more well-known Emotional Intelligence which describes the ability to understand emotions of the self and others).

    Perhaps the problem is that these teenagers simply can't comprehend other people's feelings. Perhaps they don't have their own feelings to project onto others, therefore lacking the ability to empathise.

    Just a thought.

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    The Revenge of the Interrupted

    Spotted whilst out and about in Crouch End over the weekend. Worth remembering when you next use the word "consumer" to describe sentient human beings.

    The obscured word is "saving". Oh I get it. Show a picture of a happy retirement and that will make people think about saving now! What piffle.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Environmental Sense In The Media

    An Article written by Lionel Shriver (the author of "We Need To Talk About Kevin") in The Telegraph that has a bit of a pop at the mindless world-view the majority of our race has succumbed to.

    "Greenies continually badger us with their lofty edict that we must care for "the planet". But "the planet" is happy as Larry at any temperature; we're the ones who can only abide within a narrow band. "The planet" will adapt to and recover from whatever we do. If we foul the air and water we need to survive, the last laugh is on us. Green policies are all about self-interest - albeit enlightened self-interest. "The planet" doesn't need us; we need it. The improbable aspect of the programme's premise is that our species clears off overnight."

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Polite notices

    Polite notice
    Originally uploaded by Mark Charter
    Truly polite notices don't need to tell you that they're polite. It's the old adage about telling jokes not shouting about how funny you are. Also reminiscent of Dickett's finger.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Creme Egg Gooeyness

    The season finale from Creme Egg. Brilliant!

    Science & Policy

    On a similar track to my recent rants about thinking non-linearly about environmental issues, here's an article from New Scientist. The following excerpt highlights some of the key issues:

    "I was struck by the fact that we were doing a lot of research into the environmental effects of GM crops after policy makers had made their decisions – it was just the wrong way around," Sutherland told New Scientist. He notes that the future supply of biofuel is already becoming a political issue because a thorough environmental assessment has yet to be carried out.

    The European Union has been criticised for backing biofuels too hastily, by scientists who argue they raise food prices and threaten food security.

    Offshore wind and wave power might be a solution to the growing energy crisis, but Sutherland and colleagues warn that it could also affect marine ecosystems.

    And they call for research into the potential environmental impact of releasing manmade viruses. In Australia, researchers have developed a novel way of controlling the invasive red fox – a virus that infects and sterilises it – although it has not been released into the wild population.

    "What happens if the virus spreads outside its target range?" asks Sutherland. "Could it sterilise other foxes? Could the virus combine with another and infect different species?"

    Saturday, February 23, 2008

    Vampire Babies

    Spotted in a Tokyo toy store...

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    Linearity & The Environment

    A few weeks ago I posted about the dangers of linear thinking on caring for the environment.

    I found this article today on World Car Fans. It claims that Science Magazine has reported about the bigger picture impact of using Ethanol as an alternative fuel source. The problem lies not with the fuel per se, but rather with the production process. (I've not been able to find the original report as yet).

    I'm with Seth Godin - there's no such thing as side-effects. Just effects that you don't want in addition to the ones you do.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Does "A problem shared..." Scale?

    If "A problem shared is a problem halved" scales, then my cold is going to be much better in the morning, having spent 12 hours on a 747.

    Thursday, January 31, 2008

    Things That Bug Me #1

    Dithering. In all contexts.

    People wearing back-packs on crowded trains.

    Women walking along like giant Ws with enormous bags in the crook of each arm.

    People thrusting free newspapers in my face.

    (I've got a feeling that this will be a frequent strand of posting.)

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    Work In Progress Art

    To return the arty present that I gave for her birthday, my wife commissioned her up-and-coming artist cousin, Charlotte Jackson for my Christmas present. This is the work in progress photo that Charlotte emailed through. Looking forward to the finished article!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Mattel, You Are Being Stupid.

    Mattel is grumbling that the Scrabulous application on Facebook infringes its copyright on the game Scrabble. It probably does.

    However, Scrabulous has meant that thousands more people are playing the game across the globe than would be otherwise.

    Why doesn't Mattel sponsor the site? Make Scrabulous legit? Wow, they could even find a new way of making money from their board game. I'm assuming that board games are not exactly all the rage these days, so a new revenue stream would be good, surely? Mattel could even put a link on the page for Scrabulous users to buy a copy of the board game direct.

    Why don't they make some of their other board games available on Facebook?

    Mattel's luddite, "this is how we've always made money so it's how we'll always make money", "let's not change the game", "let's not react to new opportunities", thinking makes me mad!

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    We Don't Need To Save The Planet

    We don't need to save the planet. It will be around a lot longer than humans.

    We don't need to save life on the planet. Life finds a way.

    We don't even need to save human beings (in the short term). We're bound to be able to survive somehow. Dinosaurs are still about, albeit as dinosaurs 2.0.

    When people say "save our planet", do they really mean "save my current lifestyle"?

    On the Linearity of Carbon Footprints

    I don't care about my carbon footprint. I care about my footprint.

    Current thinking (and associated media frenzy) is too linear. Nature is a system. Changing one part of the system impacts all of it. Nature has frequently demonstrated its ability to counterbalance events - the basic predator / prey dynamic for example.

    Human attempts at controlling nature are riddled with disasters that resulted from linear thinking. Releasing myxamitosis in 1950s Australia is just one fine example. Killed off the bunnies admittedly. But also endangered the predators that eat the bunnies. How on earth could someone think that introducing an incurable virus into an ecosystem is a good idea?

    If we are to stay living our current little existence, we need to think more generally about our impact on the ecosystem. Yes, please reduce your CO2 output. But that's only part of it. In a few years time we'll no doubt learn how some of our CO2 reducing tactics have damaged the ecosystem in another, equally disasterous, way.

    And please go and speak to a geologist to get a proper perspective on climate change through the ages.