A new webzine with an unfortunate title that brings to mind the lunatics of the UK Independence Party. The fanzine aims to bring together the best and latest happenings in European culture. It will be published in a number of European languages on a monthly basis. You can find it here.

The Thumb Drive Gospel

In the beginning there was memory, and it was called flash. It was small, expensive but convenient and the geeks saw that it was good.

What is a thumb drive?

Research done at Microsoft recently found that much of the time the most effective way of moving files around was via the sneakernet. Thumb drives are small pocket sized devices that have no moving parts and can store almost as much information as a CD-R. They use flash memory to hold the data and connect to a computer via a USB port. They generally can get on to all but the most locked-down computers and can be used to remove or transfer computer files. I use a 256MB Sony MicroVault

Why do I need a thumb drive?

Your work computer doesn’t have a CD writer and you want to move a presentation or work on it at home. You could run an FTP server and move the files electronically, but this could be hacked, is hard for a nebbish to set up and relies on your broadband service provider to not fall down at the wrong moment. Its cross platform, I can use mine on my Mac and PCs at work

Cover thy ass

A friend of mine recently ended up in court. The wrangle ended in their favour but it could have been avoided. At the time, redundancies were on the cards and they had developed a business plan in association with another friend regarding the possibility of setting up a new business. The time past and all that was left of the idea was a pipe dream on an spreadsheet that was stored on a network drive that had backed up their email account. Years later when their employer wanted to get rid of them, they used the file as evidence in a legal move to get them out the door. Anything like this, do on a removable drive if you have to use a work computer at all.

Out-Law Posse

Masons are a large and respected legal firm. What on earth are they doing with a kick-ass website? is their online presence, as well as a weekly news round up, a quarterly magazine and helpful guides they even have some cool online games in their fun section.

The site is a classic example of the way a website should interact with prospective customers rather than the starched-collar brochureware you see elsewhere in the legal sector.

Free Party

The One Cell Brain crew are throwing a party tonight. Info line details below:

From the One Cell Brain newsletter service

Well here you are on a lovely sunny London afternoon with another World (or at least London) famous outdoor party coming your way today Saturday 7th August.

Lift off is at 10pm and all things permitting we hope to go on until midday on Sunday. Weather reports are very favourable with temperatures of 30deg predicted for Sunday so bring your sunscreen and shorts.

It will be in a different location… details to be released tonight after 9pm but I can tell you that it will be in zone 3 again.

Phone us on our recorded message partylines to get details tonight after 9pm:

07932 066485

07958 502769

07985 200554

You can speak to one of the crew tonight after 10pm

07932 758687

So that\’s OCB Outdoor party *TONIGHT* Saturday 7th August from 10pm

See ya there

Love and Flowers

Thee OCB Boyz n Girlz

The Demise of the Superfreak

First of all sorry about the late posting on this, but needs must, Musician, songwriter and producer Rick James died on Friday. For most people under the age of 35, Rick was the artist whose work was sampled my MC Hammer to provide the backing track to his smash hit U Can’t Touch this. Rick was one of a wave of artists like Cameo who were influenced by the likes of James Brown and George Clinton. His style of music discussing sex and drugs in a funky way influenced the rap community. Classic cuts include the Mary Jane Girls – All Night Long and his own Mary Jane (see the connection here), Superfreak and Give it to me baby. Newswire coverage of his demise can be found here.

LexisNexis – the web isn’t everything

Over the past few days I’ve had an opportunity to use LexisNexis Professional. LexisNexis is an information database drawn from 11,000 publications and other sources. It reminded me of how much information never goes into Google, a quick search revealed far more of my press releases (though not all of them) than a search on Google would do.

The web front end to it is friendly than I remember Factiva, although the earlier Dow Jones Newswire service that was one of the parents of Factiva has not been bettered. In order to make the most of LexisNexis you have to have a four page cheat sheet of commands, which betray its old school database roots.

The whole process has reminded me how overrated the web is an information source nowadays, especially as media players have partitioned off and price segmented much of the information. Projects like Wikipedia are useful but will only go so far.

Link: a quick rundown of the features and usage of LexisNexis by Sheffield University.

So true its not funny and other stuff around the web

Apple spoof product lifecycle article which can be found here.

Trendwatching is back with a pattern that they call five-star living, where property developers and high-end resort or hotels sell a home away from home to the super dumb but loaded. They put a whole pile of luxury living brand experience about it, but what they are seeing is the window dressing not the trends. Hotels are capital intensive and unless you have high occupancy all the time, expensive. Apartment complexes can draw on the service aspects of hotels but farm off a lot of the capital risk to apartment purchasers and still charge them for premium rate services, its hedging your bets in a post-September 11 world. I realise that this is a less romantic and stylish explanation of this trend, but its all about the money.

Finally, the New York Times have got a great interactive presidential election guide that they are going to keep updated. So go to this link, have a play and bookmark it until November.

Controversy, Islam and the Sunday Telegraph

According to BBC Newsnight’s pre-programme email newsletter some controversal articles that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph are brewing up a bit of a storm. They were authored by someone calling themselves Will Cummins and have already drawn the wraith of contributors to Dar Al Hayat and Arab Media Watch with writings designed to inflame and polarise viewpoints.

Here are links to some of the articles so that you can make up your own minds about it:

The Tories should confront Islam instead of kow-towing to it

We must be allowed to criticise Islam

The real danger is indiscriminate fear

Muslims are a threat to our way of life

Terrified publishers won’t print truth about …

I suspect that the debate on this could run and run.

Tactical Conversation Weapons

Being a communications professional, I was very impressed by this site which is a font of conversational put downs that can be used in any home, social or professional environment. Really good stuff with instructions on usage. Remember, less is more, don’t just use them willy-nilly – use them sparingly on people who deserve it. As Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War, you may need an army to fight a war, but you need special forces to win it.

New Art to be unveiled (updated)

Banksy, a grafitti artist with a Mark Thomaseque sense of humour is unveiling his latest work later today. I am gutted that I have got a leaving do to go to, obiligation is a bitch sometimes.

Banksy Unveiling tonight 7.30pm sharp


Full details on the BBC (courtesy of Stephen)

Spod Spot

Something for the ‘crasher kids;

  • glow in the dark ice lollies. Basically an ice lolly with a glow stick (chemical light stick) instead of the traditional wooden spatula
  • Pedestrian turn signals’ or in British English – indicators for people? Weird

For right thinking folk there is a cool review of of the Bourne Supremacy on Salon (subscription or free-day pass required). Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series were books that I read when I was 12 and 13, I guess they were the Rudyard Kipling of my day.

On another note, I must say I think Salon’s day pass scheme is one of the best ideas I have seen in making online advertising pay for media owners. Oh yeah, the film is supposed to be very good.

Entertainment Cartels Fight TiVo Development Tooth and Nail

An article below from Sundays Washington Post by Rob Pegoraro illustrates why sports bodies and the movie industry should be locked up under RICO and the key thrown away. Original here.

Maxium kudos to Dwayne Hendricks of the Interesting People mailing list for flagging this up.

TiVo vs. the Broadcast Flag Wavers By Rob Pegoraro The Washington Post Sunday, August 1, 2004; Page F06

TiVo, the company that makes the digital-video-recorder boxes that inspire such strange idolatry among their users, is in a weird spot. It’s asking the Federal Communications Commission for permission to add a new feature — the option for a TiVo user to send recorded digital TV programs via the Internet to nine other people.

Huh? Permission? Doesn’t the government’s involvement in consumer electronics stop with making sure that a gadget doesn’t jam your neighbor’s reception or electrocute you? Since when do the feds get to vote on product designs?

The answer is, since last November, when the FCC voted to require manufacturers to support the “broadcast flag” system by July 1 of next year. This convoluted mechanism aims to stop full-quality copies of digital broadcasts from circulating on the Internet.

The FCC didn’t mandate any one anti-file-sharing scheme and instead invited companies to submit their own proposals, which brings us to TiVo’s vaguely Soviet predicament. Among the schemes a handful of firms have proposed, only TiVo’s would allow tightly controlled online transfers of recorded programs.

For this, the company has drawn the ire of the National Football League and the Motion Picture Association of America, which have asked the FCC to deny TiVo’s proposal. The NFL says that TiVo’s Internet-sharing feature will allow people to send game broadcasts to blacked-out viewers in real time (a team’s home game can be aired locally only if it sells out beforehand). “It’s a question of pure ability to sell tickets,” said Frank Hawkins, the NFL’s senior vice president for business affairs. “Buffalo typically sells out September and October, but they’ve got an open-air stadium. They’ll never sell out those December games if they are unable to enforce the blackout rule.” This is an important point:

The NFL is not asking the FCC to protect its television business — never mind that the flag exists only to stop indiscriminate file sharing, not cure every copyright-infringement issue. No, the NFL is asking for help with a stadium business, one that already benefits from massive government welfare. (A December 2002 Buffalo News story calculated that the taxpayers of Erie County, N.Y., had anted up about $148 million for the Bills and their stadium over the previous decade.) In other words, the league is asking manufacturers and viewers to further subsidize team owners who are already gorging themselves at the public trough. There’s also the slight problem that the NFL’s nightmare — blacked-out viewers watching a game live on the Internet — is all but impossible. With almost every broadband connection available today, it would take hours to upload a game. A recipient would be lucky to finish watching a Sunday afternoon game before Monday, and sending a high-definition copy would take most of the week.

Jim Burger, a lawyer for TiVo, fumed about the NFL’s complaint: “Maybe their engineers understand how to inflate a football, but I don’t think they understand encoded, encrypted MPEG-2,” TiVo’s tightly secured format. Whenever full-quality, real-time video on the Internet does become commonplace, I expect to see the NFL capitalizing on it instead of complaining, just as it has profited from such earlier advances as satellite TV. The MPAA, meanwhile, says that the way TiVo would allow customers to share recordings online with people who may not be friends or family members amounts to indiscriminate redistribution. The Washington-based group wants TiVo to impose an “affinity requirement,” said Fritz Attaway, its executive vice president for government relations.

But how can TiVo tell if the people to whom you’ve sent a program are really friends and family without launching its own Total Information Awareness program? Attaway called that “a good question.” Until that can be answered, his lobby contends that the safest course is to block Internet sharing — after all, he noted, you can just pop a DVD in the mail. What the MPAA and the NFL overlook is that every TiVo box includes analog video outputs that can’t enforce copy controls. These allow these devices to work with the millions of TV sets lacking digital inputs, but they also let anybody plug a TiVo into a computer to upload video at will. The FCC has already ruled out proposals to eliminate or deactivate analog outputs. (“We’ll probably have to go to Congress to enact legislation to deal with that,” Attaway said.)

If the problem the MPAA and the NFL describe is real, the remedy they seek won’t solve it. Understand that TiVo itself is no hero. Its proposed system is thoroughly hobbled. The people to whom you’d send recordings online would need you to add them to a “secure viewing group” by ordering special security keys for their Windows computers, associated with your TiVo bill. Each viewer would need to plug one such key into a PC to receive, watch or edit your recordings. Left on its own, the market could give TiVo’s system its appropriate reward. Except we don’t have a free market in digital television — the FCC guaranteed that by approving the broadcast flag.

The MPAA and the NFL phrase their objections as reasonable attempts to err on the side of caution. “We’re asking them to just wait awhile, let’s think it out more thoroughly,” Attaway said. But if a programmer or an engineer with a bright idea has to go to Washington, hat in hand and lawyers in tow, to request permission to sell a better product — and is then told “just wait awhile” — we are on our way to suffocating innovation in this country. Living with technology, or trying to? E-mail Rob Pegoraro at

Coca-Cola Makes Up For Dumb Marketers

Beverage monster Coca-Cola has put some clever viral clips on the web in a cunning ploy to target early beverage adopters with its new apple flavour Fanta, aside from lacking a human LD50 serving of caffiene its bright process green colour an artificial taste could make it an ideal rival to Mountain Dew for a late-night coding marathon or LAN party. Makes up for the dumb marketing tactics used to promote their signature drinks brand recently in the US; though the Doom3 clip ending could be viewed in bad taste when one considers the recent controversy of life imitating the Rockstar North’s Manhunt console game with the murder of a school boy in England.

No Apple Product Launches Until September at Earliest (updated)

According to Dow Jones, Steve Jobs has taken August off to recover from cancer surgery:Apple CEO Jobs Has Surgery To Remove Cancerous Tumor

Sunday August 1, 11:45 PM EDT

NEW YORK — Steve Jobs, chief executive of personal computer maker Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) and animation studio Pixar Animation Studio (PIXR), underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his pancreas over the weekend, Monday’s Wall Street Journal reported.

The surgery was successful and Mr. Jobs will return to work in September, an Apple spokeswoman said.

Mr. Jobs, 49 years old, disclosed the news about his surgery in a memo that he sent to staffers at Apple, Cupertino, Calif., on Sunday. In the memo, Mr. Jobs told Apple employees that he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer, called islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which can be cured by surgery if removed in time. Mr. Jobs’s tumor was diagnosed in time, he said, and he won’t require any chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Mr. Jobs, who co-founded Apple in the 1970s, said in the memo that he will take August off, returning to work in September. During his absence, Tim Cook, who heads up operations, sales and Macintosh hardware at Apple, will run the computer maker’s day-to-day operations.

Wall Street Journal Staff Reporter Pui-Wing Tam contributed to this report.

Dow Jones Newswires

According to ThinkSecret here is Steve’s memo that he sent out the Apple workforce

Team,I have some personal news that I need to share with you, and I wanted you to hear it directly from me.This weekend I underwent a successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my pancreas.


I had a very rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which represents about 1 percent of the total cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed each year, and can be cured by surgical removal if diagnosed in time (mine was).


I will not require any chemotherapy or radiation treatments.The far more common form of pancreatic cancer is called adenocarcinoma, which is currently not curable and usually carries a life expectancy of around one year after diagnosis.


I mention this because when one hears “pancreatic cancer” (or Googles it), one immediately encounters this far more common and deadly form, which, thank god, is not what I had.I will be recuperating during the month of August, and expect to return to work in September.

While I’m out, I’ve asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, so we shouldn’t miss a beat. I’m sure I’ll be calling some of you way too much in August, and I look forward to seeing you in September.




PS: I’m sending this from my hospital bed using my 17-inch PowerBook and an Airport Express.GET WELL SOON STEVE!