Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Updated software, new post

So I’ve finally updated the software that this blog uses – WordPress – from 2.0.1 to 2.8.4 – which will mean nothing to most of you but cause others to wonder what the hell I’ve been up to.

I’ve also tidied up the page and fix a range of bugs so the site is clean and ready for some new posts. I’m still undecided how exactly to split up my two main blogs – kierenmccarthy.co.uk and kierenmccarthy.com. Or whether to just point them to the same place.

I’m tempted to make this (.co.uk) my personal blog and the dot-com site my professional face. But then I’m not sure I’d stick with that separation for very long and would find work posts here and personal posts on the dot-com site. Blogs sort-of dare you to be more personal.

Ah well, we shall see.

Hey, ho, Delhi here we go

I’m writing this in that neverworld of an airport waiting for a slightly delayed plane.

And, of course, as it always is, that airport is Heathrow. I hate Heathrow. I’ve always hated Heathrow. Even as a kid, I remember the sensation of life ebbing away from you as you sit in uncomfortable chairs next to grumpy people, eat dreadful food and get annoyed with snooty staff. It’s Heathrow, it’s British Airways, it’s delayed, and I’m flying economy, seat 49J, which means no sleep, cramped legs, and an incredibly frustrating effort trying to do work on my laptop for the next nine hours.

Still, I’m on my way to the ICANN meeting in Delhi which should prove to be the usual mix of fun, exhaustion, confusion and interesting events. Plus I’ve never been to India before. What’s happening at the ICANN meeting? Well, plenty. Discussions on front-running, on domain tasting, on new gTLDs and IDNs. And the JPA. And the translation programme – which I have been working very hard on and should really help ICANN become an international organisation. And, you know, all the other sorts of issues that underpin the future evolution of the Internet and which I now concern myself with every day.

I have to say though that I felt an itch as a journalist to get stuck into the US elections yesterday. Shame I wasn’t in the country for Super Tuesday. Ah well, new gTLDs and IDNs are going to have a bigger impact on the world than the next US president. And I mean that too.

Can someone please get to the ebook reader before Apple

Amazon's KindleI’m quite excited about the fact that Amazon has brought out a new ebook reader that it calls the Kindle. I haven’t seen one in the real world but I am assuming with the effort they’ve put behind it that the screen technology is what it claims to be – easy to read without straining your eyes.

I believe ebooks are the inevitable future. It’s just another step along the digital revolution. But – and what a but – have you seen the state of the “Kindle”? It looks like a prototype. A prototype designed by 18-year-old students back in the 1980s. Here is good technology and big demand with crappy design – i.e. the perfect opportunity for Apple.

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Now playing: Radiohead’s In Rainbows

This morning I received an email from downloadinrainbows@waste.uk.com providing a link to a 48.3MB zipped file. Three minutes later I was listening to Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows. I am listening to it now as I write this.

What is particularly interesting about this is that Radiohead was entirely in charge of the whole transaction. They even extracted five pounds 45 pence from me simply by asking. I could easily have downloaded the album for free this afternoon.

Radiohead - In RainbowsAside from being one of my favourite bands (no, I don’t find them remotely depressing, which makes me wonder about my base state of mind), Radiohead are an interesting and smart bunch. They are currently outside music industry contracts and so have control of their product. And so they decided on a unique project – they would let people decide how much to pay for their next album. Literally.

Aside from a 45p admin fee, you could type in exactly how much you wanted to pay for the album. It’s a fascinating experiment and I hope Radiohead releases the results so we can see just how people’s behaviour breaks down.

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The participative web – follow my Web2.0 ramblings at the OECD meeting

For those interested in Internet things – and in this case the sexy side of the Internet, Facebook and all that stuff – there is an interesting conference due to start in two hours in Ottawa, Canada.

I know because I’m here and I’m on of two official bloggers. See can see the full agenda here, and the front page to the blog, which I will be updating all day can be found here.

The conference is basically bringing together experts from across the world to discuss what these latest Web2.0 technologies – which the OECD has placed under the banner “the participative web” – mean, what impact they will, what we should do and not do about the societal, business and political changes they invoke and so on. The reason why this is important is because the OECD is one of the full bodies in the world that the world’s most powerful governments listen to.

So check it out. Reply to my blog posts – if they’re pertinent I’ll read em out in the meeting.

Am I keeping in touch with people – or just spreading tedious ditties?

I finally joined Facebook last week. It was when the fifth person from a different sphere of friends send me an invite that I realised it had hit that point where I was most likely missing out on something. So I signed up.

And Facebook is nice. I now have 26 friends and they can see what I’m doing (sort of); and I can see what they’re doing (sort of). And I can wonder how odd it is that my friends know so many people that I haven’t met; and wonder if they wonder who on earth are the people listed as my friends.

But I am beginning to get the same sort of feeling I started getting with LinkedIn about a month ago. At first, it’s kinda like collecting football stickers, except rather than having Gary Lineker staring out at you, it’s your old mate from university.

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Amazon.com now selling my book

This has to be good – I note that Amazon.com is now selling my book – Sex.com.

Unfortunately there is still a four to six-week delivery date on it, which leads me to conclude that my publishers have yet to strike a deal with a US publisher. I also note on a quick perusal of the Net that the Sydney Morning Herald and ran a whole extract in its edition today – Chapter 3, I believe. And I’m pleased to see that Techworld – where I was news ed – ran an extract last week. Alot has happened since I’ve been away.

I’ve also got a lovely review on Amazon.com. Although this doesn’t appeared to have helped my ranking much – it’s still way down at book no 186,461. Anyway, the review:

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So much for Google translation

Three weeks ago, I added a translation module to this blog as an experiment with automated translation software.

The technology worked although thanks to some readers of different nationalities, it quickly became clear that the translations were not great – and in some cases barely comprehensible. Part of the reason is that I write in a very chatty fashion in English, complete with slang, odd sentence construction and often an idiosyncratic style. There’s no way a computer can accurately translate that sort of material. And it would seem that Google has decided not to bother at all.

Click on any of the flags on the right-hand column and I have just noticed you are informed that Google considers that your action “looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application” and that you may want to run a virus checker on your computer. There is no manual override. Google simply refuses to translate the page. So much for Google translation. I’m shifting to a different one that hopefully will be able to do the most basic job or telling a click on a website to a virus.

And people wonder why we shouldn’t get too caught up with Google software.

Translation experimentation

The next real big step for the Internet in revolutionising this planet is, I am convinced, mass accurate translation so that the language barriers that have divided and enclosed the world ever since we as a species first started talking, will be if not exactly cast away, certain diminished.

And so I have installed a translation plug-in for this blog as an experiment. There are about five out there that plugin to WordPress. I would like to say I will test them all, find the best, and write about it but I already know I won’t have time. Anyway, let’s see how it handles this post.

Update:

This is terrific – looks at the little flags under the search on the right-hand-side. Just click on your flag and the site is translated. I have a choice of Google translation engine or BabelFish. Gone with Google for the meantime. Now the big question is: is the translation good enough to be worthwhile for people to read or is it just frustrating? It’s a very difficult thing to judge. Any readers whose first language is not English that may try this, please, please do comment below on what you think.

Digg-ing its own grave?

The user-generated content finder Digg may well have just dug its own grave with a defiant message to Hollywood lawyers, posted by its founder on the site’s blog yesterday.

There is another very short crack out there for the High Definition DVD standard – much shorter that the infamous DeCSS crack released in 1999 – and the Movie Association is going all out again, threatening anyone that posts the 32-digit code with legal action. It told Digg that it expected it to remove any reference to the code, and so Digg complied, but then was hit by a tidal wave of complaints by its users, prompting Kevin Rose to write the following blog post:

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