Simon’s Backup Weblog

Too Many Laws, Too Few Examples

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 30, 2006

Too Many Laws, Too Few Examples
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

A rather apt inscription on a wall in Bond Street.

June 2006


Here – have a rose!

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 30, 2006

Originally uploaded by sbisson.

A lovely deep pink rose, just off my walk home here in Putney, crying out for a macro shot (even with a little pocket Casio).

June 2006

Why the ID database will never work…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 30, 2006

…you just have to look at the problems people have with CRM systems…

Standard data cleaning metrics show that data in any contacts database degenerates at a rate of around 30% a year, just through people moving, changing jobs, getting new phones – all the trivial things we never really think of. It’s a massive problem, and the companies set up just to help people clean corporate contact databases struggle to keep up with things.

Now imaging trying to keep the data of everyone in the UK clean. It’s going to be virtually impossible. And the national database will be storing much more than just where everyone lives.

So, you have to ask yourself, are you able trust a national ID database?

Recording Skype

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 29, 2006

One thing missing from Skype is the ability to record calls.

As a journalist, I often need to make recordings of phone interviews – and getting them on my PC in digital format makes it easier to transcribe interviews (and hopefully soon, to search them). I have a small Sony recorder, but that uses a proprietary variant of ATRAC, and you need their software. It’ll plug into a phone line, with a bit of kit from Maplin, but the recording quality, err, sucks. This device from Olympus looks good for the future, but I need something now!

Luckily, while doing some research for my Office column, I came across an Outlook plug-in called Skylook that not only integrates your Outlook address book with your Skype address book, so you can call people using Skype Out or Skype-to-Skype, but also records conversations as MP3s, ready for archiving and editing. There’s even a built-in answerphone that adds calls to an Outlook folder. Microsoft may have made a splash earlier in the week with their unified messaging announcements, but Skylook’s there already. Tie it in with the integration and you’ve got a very interesting set of CRM tools…

The recording quality is good, and the size of the resulting MP3 isn’t too bad either. Skylook’s a rather useful piece of code. Businesses can use the recordings as part of any compliance procedure, while the rest of us can quickly turn them into podcasts (or should that be “skypecasts”?).

There’s a 14 day trial, and the final registration cost isn’t too bad either. A nice bit of code from our Aussie cousins…

Blurred Scenes From A Thomas Dolby Gig

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 29, 2006

Blurred Scenes From A Thomas Dolby Gig
Little camera at the back of the hall – what else do you expect!

Last Friday Thomas Dolby played another small gig at the Scala in London. Like the earlier concert and I saw back in March in San Francisco it was an intimate event, with a lot of interaction with the audience. TMDR is obviously playing because he wants to, not because he has to…

And last Friday night he was coming home…

The set started out with a system reboot a few chords into Leipzig, so TMDR gave a short talk about his life, his music, and why he was playing again. Then on with the songs. Leipzig was followed by One Of Our Submarines. The video rig that was being tried out in SF had matured over the tour, and I Live in A Suitcase and Flying North, two of my favourite travel songs, showed off the mix of live images and video clips.

Much like the video clip from TED he blogged a few months ago, The Flat Earth showed how he used his collection of equipment to build up songs from snippets of sounds. Windpower introduced a little experimentation, that led on from some of the work on his studio last album, The Gate To The Minds Eye, turning data from the SOHO satellite into sounds to build a new introduction to a familiar song. Europa and The Pirate Twins was a blast (as always), and we were in the home straight with a ride through Hyperactive, She Blinded Me With Science, and a complete reworking of the George Clinton collaboration Hot Sauce.

The show ended with a final blast of Airhead. Unfortunately the Scala’s early curfew brought things to an end too quickly, though we did get nearly two hours of prime Dolby.

It’s been a blast seeing TMDR twice this year. Well worth the 23 (or is it 24?) year wait, from those Saturday afternoons with an early interview and session on the Stereo Sequence, and then finding a cassette of The Golden Age Of Wireless.

And of course the evening rounded of nicely with a drink with and …

Yes, I have ordered the T-shirt. Both of them!

Getting your laptop video up to speed…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 29, 2006

I’ve been a little frustrated with Nvidia recently. They regularly update the drivers for their desktop graphics cards, but tend to leave out the laptops – even when the’re running the same hardware!

Time to let go of the frustration, as you can take your laptop to the video driver ball in new glad rags. While trying to get more up to date Vista drivers for my tablet, now that I’m running the latest post Beta 2 build, I came across, a site that produces modified .INF files for Nvidia’s stock drivers, so they run on laptops. All you need to download are their modified installer descriptions, use them to replace the Nvidia description file, and run the installer…

A useful resource.

Just a pity that the modified .INF file for 88.61 for my tablet didn’t support screen rotation. Ah well, back to the old versions.

One of my favourite 419 scambaitings yet!

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 29, 2006

In this twist on the familiar tale, a 419 scammer ends up carving Creature Comforts characters and a Commodore 64 for the man he planned to scam – and sent them to the UK!

More “conversations” with the scammers here.

Original link from BoingBoing

Reflecting Ammonites

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 27, 2006

Reflecting Ammonites
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

Empty fountain with a base of fossils, Covent Garden.

June 2006

Mapping the LJ corner of the Blogosphere

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 26, 2006

A map of LiveJournal interconnections, using citations for 24,000 LJ blogs.

Part of a fascinating blog mapping project. Click here to see a link graph of the set of blogs in general…

Original link via BoingBoing

“Good evening, gentlemen. Mei Ling. Or should I say good morning?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on June 26, 2006

The recent redesign of The Onion has opened up a lot of its archives (which used to be locked behind a paywall), including one of my favourite “columns”, the briefings of Department Head Rawlings.

Gentlemen, Mei-Ling, we are in crisis as of seven minutes ago, when space station UCCCPZ-5476-43-B failed to crest the horizon over Gdazny. Even if our adversary’s NKVD-trained orbital-warfare officers have been uncharacteristically slow on the uptake, we must assume that the Uzbekistanis have, by now, discovered the disappearance of their Rasputin orbital kinetic-energy-weapon platform.

The five short columns build up into a rather enjoyable hi-tech SF super-spy thriller involving malevolent half-brothers, strange chthonic devices, and a stolen orbital weapons platform. Fun stuff that leaves you wondering just what the rest of the story was – or could have been, as the last Rawlings column was posted nearly two years ago.

I wonder if the the Department for Special Acquisitions and Liquidations has gone on to bigger and better things, as certainly the anonymous author had to be familiar with SF technobabble, and the conventions of the conspiracy theory (and of course the wide screen spy novel). Perhaps someday we’ll see a carefully renamed Rawlings walk onto the pages of a book…

After all, what did happen in Barcelona? And what is Mei Ling’s role in this?

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