China Leads The Way

Reading Time: 1 minute

America historically has led the Internet, by setting many of the technology standards and being home to many of the main companies whose technology underpins and makes use of the Internet.

A small geeky announcement on indicates that the balance is shifting. The announcement is significant; think of it this way, how many extra phone lines could you have if you added an extra digit to the area code of a phone number? Well imagine that jump but much, much bigger to understand the leap forward that the Chinese are making with the Internet by adopting IPv9.

This also marks a profound future social, economic and information shift to the East; especially when considering how the most brutal and naked form of capitalism since the Robber Barons of the 19th century America is reshaping the country. The futures red, the future’s China; get ready for video on demand Shaw Brothers Classics.

Barcode turns 30

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Boston Globe online has a mildly interesting article about the UPC (universal product code) or bar code that graces all our groceries. They give a potted history of the code and mention the various urban myths that rose around it including:

– it represented the Anti-Christ

– it was a corporate plot against consumers (though the lack of technology before the bar code had not stopped collusion).

The article goes on about the inventory savings items, but neglects to mention other add-ons that came out of it including:

– Near-real time sales data, which could be datamined for purchase paterns, this allowed Walmart to famously increase beer sales by putting a six pack and nappies (US Eng: diapers) together for stressed fathers

– Increasing the power of retailers who can provide research companies and suppliers with data on product sales faster, fattening the coffers of AC Neilsen

– Dramatically altered store design by being able to trial changes in layout or promotion and see the results through the tills, this was as dramatic as the spreadsheet allowing senior business folk to run what if scenarios

– Loyalty cards, when you can analyse purchase patterns and inventories, match them both together to decide how to influence consumer behavioiur

– It revolutionised kick-backs for music shop workers. When I DJ’ed far more (and had more time), I used to hang with a number of record shop assistants who worked in ‘chart shops’. By being signed up to promo agencies for white labels, the specialist shops for my imports and underground vinyl and the small chart shops I got the freshest music cuts. The smaller independent chart shops got a lot of support from the major labels:

– Cheaper records to sell on to the public

– Items often arrived in their stores first

– Exclusive access to limited edition remixes

– Instore band signings (often at the expense of big chains like HMV)

– Promotional record label items: jackets, bags, gig tickets

– One high selling record for free with every two hype items they put through the scanner (note that I did not say sell)

I remember Jez and Tony of Penny Lane Birkenhead well. Tony had been with the firm for time and was a seasoned ligger, Jez was a quiter dreadlocked skater kid who used to work in a secondhand dance vinyl shop in the Palace – a trendy shopping complex on Wood Street L1.

This barcode revolution did not happen overnight, I still remember being in primary school in Liverpool and seeing sticky price tags and the guns being used in the local Tesco and Asda supermarkets. Bargain bucket department story chain TJ Hughes, only implemented a stock management system utilising bar codes less than five years ago after new owners discovered stock in their warehouses that may have been over ten years old. The local supermarket to my Uncle living in rural Western Ireland still uses sticky price labels with no barcode scanner in sight, a nod to our modern times came when the labels changed colour from white to fluorescent yellow.

Jargon Watch: counter-googling

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Interesting article on about businesses using Google to research customers and better tailor their offering to their needs – Google as a kind of ad-hoc CRM solution. Trendwatching label this counter-googling.

An interesting example they cite is “The Bel Air Hotel in LA already Googles first-time guests upon arrival, based on their reservation details (name and address), leading to personalized services like assigning guests a room with morning sun if Googling shows the guest enjoys jogging early in the day (source:”

Sell your Siebel Systems shares NOW! :-)

B-Boy Bulletin: Freestylers ‘Raw As F**k’ album out Monday!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Live and Direct from Supercharged Music

From: SuperCharged

To: Ollie Lewis Date: Fri Jul 02, 2004 01:40:59 PM BST

Subject: Freestylers ‘Raw As F**k’ album out Monday!

After over a year of blood sweat and beers Against The Grain are very proud to announce the release of their first artist album…

Freestylers ‘Raw As F**k’ released this Monday 5th JulyAvailable of CD and triple pack vinyl

“We chose the name Raw As F**k, because it was brash and would stand out,” continues Aston. “We released the track ?Punks? and it was meant to be a one off, but the reception was so good we just kept going. We ended up with three number one breaks tunes in DJ magazine and won a best newcomer at the International Breakspoll Awards. Before we knew it, we had an album that we felt was our strongest to date.”

From the slavering bass-carnivore Slammer, to the purple-rain phunk of Push Up, from the off-wall vocals of Reprazent home-girl Onnalee on the album?s first single Get a Life, to the break-neck toasting of dapper-one Million Dan, Raw as F**k is an ambitious album, aimed at more than just hardcore breaks fans. Over thirteen tracks it plays an exhilarating game of genre hop-scotch, the traditional Freestylers sounds on the raga-laced Boom Blast and jungle stylings of Punks, sitting perfectly alongside more poignant moments like the epic Too Far [“It’s a slightly more chilled record,” smiles Aston. “Well ? we had to have one!”]

“We?ve got some great collaborations on there,” adds Matt. “Mostly just people we know and respect who are all into what we are doing. At the end of the day,” he concludes. “We just really enjoyed making this album. We?ve got to a stage where we don?t feel we have anything to prove anymore. We can concentrate on having fun making music that people can dance their fucking ass off to.”

Raised on a diet of Public Enemy, Afrika Bambaataa and, erm, The Jungle Book [“That soundtrack was the first record I ever bought,” laughs Aston. “I was the original junglist!”], the Freestylers sound is rooted in hip hop but has evolved into a unique British concoction, taking in everything from dancehall to reggae, electro to soul and breakbeat to drum and bass.

“It?s pretty tricky trying to sum us up,” admits Matt. “Our sound is pretty raw, raw and?”

“Voluptuous?” chips in Aston helpfully.

“No! You’re not allowed to write that down!” Matt laughs. “We can’t go around saying our music is raw and voluptuous it’s just very instant. Basically it?s like breaks for the masses, but as we?ve both got pretty eclectic tastes we bring a whole spectrum of influences from the seventies onwards.”

“Hip hop heads come to see us,” continues Aston. “But so do ravers, reggae fans… it?s quite mad really – two funky white boys bringing all these people together.”

Back in the day their debut single Drop The Boom soon saw a Stateside release [renamed AK48], and The Scratch City and Uprock EPs followed swiftly on its tail. But it was release of the jump-up breakers? anthem B-Boy Stance and the boys subsequent brush with the Gallagher brothers, that firmly put them on the media map. MC Tenor Fly’s vocal appropriation of Wonderwall didn?t go down to well with the simian siblings, the Freestylers were forced back into the studio to re-record their masterpiece and the hype was enough to send “B Boy Stance” soaring into the Top 20. It was only when all the fuss had died down that everyone realised it probably would have got there anyway.

Things moved pretty quickly after that. Their debut album We Rock Hard sold over 250,000 copies, the boys got a MOBO nomination and picked up the late Muzik Magazine?s Best Band accolade. “We had a few drinks at the award ceremony,” remembers Matt fondly. “There was this girl who I was sure I recognised from my school. I went over and started trying to chat her up, giving her all these lines. She didn?t seem too impressed ? it was only later I found out it was Kate Moss!”

But aside from spectacular drunken failures to pull celebrities, it’s the Freestylers live performances that really set them apart from other dance acts. When playing live they have a band of up to eight people on stage with them ? guitarists, DJs, MCs, vocalists and a full rhythm section. “The sound we get together can best be described as a 3D effect to our albums,” explains Matt. “When you listen to our albums then come to our shows, you?ll see the sound literally come out at you – everything is dynamic.”

And it was one of these electric live performances that caught the eye of rock lothario Lenny Kravitz, who was so impressed he personally chose them to open for him. The popularity of their debut album meant Matt and Aston could really take the Freestylers on the road, playing not only the biggest clubs and UK festivals, but also touring America. “We?re pretty big in the States,” admits Aston. “It?s great because it means we get to go over there a lot.”

“The last time we were there, we stayed with a friend in LA,” Matt recalls. “He knows a few celebrities out there and we found out that Anastasia was having a barbeque. We thought it would be really LA to crash it, thinking it would be this plush pool party.”

“It turned out that it was this intimate meal for just her family and a few close friends,” chuckles Aston, picking up the story. “There we are on her doorstep without even a bottle of wine to offer! She let us in though and we ended up chatting to her mum for about two hours it was all very surreal.”

The band soon capped a series of stunning live performances, with their legendary gig in front of 23,000 screaming fans on the World Jazz Stage at Glastonbury. The crowd was so blown away they clapped and cheered solidly for over fifteen minutes after the set finished and Time Out declared The Freestylers “the highlight of the entire festival.”

A second album Pressure Point followed and went on to sell over 100,000 copies. “We didn?t want to just make a We Rock Hard Pt. 2,” explains Aston. “We wanted to do something in our own distinct style, so we used influences that we had hints of on the first album, but made it harder and clubbier.”

But after touring the new album, the boys decided to take a short break from the studio to recuperate and began to feel it was a time for a change of direction. “Our label Freskanova had stopped functioning,” explains Matt. “We were feeling a little disillusioned, so we decided to get back to our grass roots and started doing some tracks for Krafty Kuts and Skool Of Thought’s Against the Grain label . We began to work on a project we called ?Raw as F**k? ? it was great because no-one had any expectations of us. There was nothing to live up to and we feel the music became stronger as a result.”

Buy now!

For the LP click here

For the CD click here

Oprah Time: Ugly Americans by Ben Mezrich

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My book of the moment is Ugly Americans by Ben Mezrich. Ben previously wrote Bringing Down the House; a book about a group of maths geeks who take on the Las Vegas casinos by team playing with a gambling system and making a killing at poker.

In Ugly Americans, Ben turns his attention to hedge funds exploiting the economic collapse of Japan in the 1990s. There are many similarities with the books:

– they both are written in the same style, paced with a future film adaptation in mind

– they both alternate chapters of action with ‘expert testimony

– they both claim to be true, however I have my doubts (names have been changed to protect the innocent et cetera)

– both are a ripping read regardless