Film 4

Well done Channel 4 – Film Four went free from 9PM tonight and is now viewable on all digital platforms including Freeview. Unbelievably people are complaining that it now sucks as the films contain adverts. I just wish for those people Channel 4 had a pay option so they could still have there advert free movies but at a cost…I wonder how many would pay. I wonder how many ever paid as it is so much easier to complain than complement.

Why Blog?

I caught the tail end of BBC Breakfast this morning and they were discussing blogs. What are they, why do people do it, how it’s a fad with the average blog lasting four weeks and then the ultimate comparison – it reminds the presenter of CB radio a few years ago. While I thought the piece was biased towards the technically ignorant (non geeks) it did get me thinking – why do I do it?

It’s certainly not because I think I’m a journalist – far from it, although the fact that many sites think blogs are replacing news agency’s has got the traditional news sites in a bit of a tizzy. BBC themselves are running a survey on blogs and journalism that is showing just under a quarter believe that blogging is journalism. BBC nail their colours to the mast stating the findings of another survey cut through ‘blog hype’. The hype is really from mainstream media so it’s good to see them dismiss their own reports. While I’ve drifted onto this, an example of two cracking sites that have highlighted issues on the middle east crisis that I would have missed if it hadn’t been for blogs. Firstly, Kottke posted an image from the Independent that summed up world opinion in an instant (reposted below).

Independent - 21/07/06

Secondly, this site has been keeping a Google Earth kmz file up to date with positions of all the atrocities in the current crisis alongside media cuttings of what happened.

Middle East Crisis via Google Earth

Anyway – back on topic. I don’t blog to get readers either (just as well). I am interested in people who do visit and where they came from (thank you Mint) but I’m not motivated by how many 100’s visit, employing search engine optimisation techniques or indeed getting loads of good page rankings and then adopting some Google ad’s – just not me.

The first reason I started was down to having a ‘can I do a blog’ niggle. It lasted a while before I eventually got up and running. I eased into geek ramblings and non personal postings as it was easier and to this day the blog is still very impersonal. I also had a feeling of giving something back. I’ve learned so much from reading other blogs whether it be personal experiences, tech opinions or just ramblings that make my day a little easier to get through and from time to time I might offer something that someone might gain from.

The second reason was to have some sort of journal that I could look back on. It’s not turned out the way I wanted but I do have around three years worth of postings, links and comments that I do occasionally look back on. Ideally it would have been more personal and also had some work related ramblings but that isn’t worth the hassle it could potentially cause.

There have been downsides. A feeling of ‘I have to post’ has got me a few times as well as ‘time to shut this down’. I’ve also received a few nasty comments especially during this years World Cup…the English really do have a problem with people not supporting them especially Joe who’s worthy contribution was ‘Die you Scottish Prick’. Nice. I do edit crap like that out of my blog as I just don’t want to read that again in a few years time.

All those are outweighed by the genuine people who do frequent, the occasional really nice comments and mails that are left, the invites to closed beta’s (Diigo being the latest and also one of the more impressive apps I’ve used recently. Turbo charged bookmarking and social commenting and if you want an invite I do have some at my disposal – full write up soon.) and the ability to keep in touch with real world friends through postings, pictures and comments. Nice. It’s also fun…usually. So it’s two fingers to those who sneer at blogs in general – this is one that won’t be disappearing.

Neither will blogging disappear. A blog allows a person to become their own media mogul, linking to anyone in the world (if they choose to) and allowing anyone worldwide to read their posts. Who would have thought years ago that from your own home you could post real time news, have people easily find the content, have discussions raging that are in your control, easily link to your own photo’s of the story, allow people to listen to your own podcast and broadcast video even if it is only through a webcam. Empowerment is a wonderful gift. In the right hands it can have a massive impact. In the wrong it can be dreadful. Instead visit 9rules to see some of the better blogs available for your consumption and see what empowerment really can deliver.

Tracking Comments

I don’t comment too much on the old t’internet but when I do I easily lose track of where the comment was and the subsequent follow on comments and questions. coComment looked like providing a solution but it was limited in tracking only other coComment members. Last week I tried the new Commentful service which worked well tracking blogs, Flickr and avforums with ease and let you know via a Firefox extension when new comments arrived. However you can only track a conversation for three days which is just way too short although the maximum of 30 conversations wasn’t an issue. Shame as I really liked the site.

However coComment has just been updated and finally looks like meeting my needs. You can now:

  • Track comments of non coComment members
  • Track comments that you haven’t contributed to
  • Create a comment page about a webpage that doesn’t support commenting
  • Use the Firefox extension to easily see new comments when they arrive or track new comments – and this time it seems to be stable

Highly recommended service and great add-on to Firefox for frequent commenter’s.


I mentioned Preloadr a few days ago and finally got round to giving it a proper test. It’s an image manipulation tool which is integrated with the Flickr photo sharing website. Once you have granted access to your Flickr account you can easily select an image via sets or tags for editing.

Preloadr - Advanced Tools

The options available are extensive for an online only tool. You can crop, rotate and mirror your images and also add text. You can view the images histogram and also alter red, green, blue intensity. Layer support is also available along with the ability to scale and move images within a layer. Finally there are a number of filters including blur and sharpen as well as ‘Auto Contrast’ the results of which you can see below. The more helpful red-eye removal is not currently available but it is an early beta.

Preloadr - Auto Contrast Filter Applied

The only snag I found was that I couldn’t upload the saved changes back to Flickr which is a bit of a fatal flaw – hopefully this is just a temporary issue. For quick editing on the move away from an editor this was more than adequate though I’d still prefer a USB stick and Irfanview. It did highlight that I don’t pay enough attention to making the most of my snaps – the lightning image after applying the filter was dramatically different. I’ll give the Adobe Lightroom beta a try.

Sky Broadband

A few months after buying Easynet Sky have launched their Sky Broadband package. On the surface the offerings are very cheap compared to competitors and also offer a free wireless Netgear router for all customers.

Sky Broadband

Look a little deeper though and things aren’t so clear. Firstly the max package is subject to a fair usage policy which if going by UK Online’s FUP will be similar to most other providers.

Secondly is that the broadband will be provisioned through Easynets LLU (Local Loop Unbundled) exchanges. This at the moment covers 28% of the UK but by year end will be over 50% and by end of 2007 over 70%. This is an extremely aggresive expansion over the coming months which will test the capacity of the network and also the quality of support staff. If you don’t connect to an LLU exchange you will use Sky’s Connect package which doesn’t offer as good value as the three packages mentioned above.

Third – you need to pay for a BT phone line which for many will add to the cost.

Fourth – you need to be a Sky Digital customer. If these points don’t cause you an issue then the broadband package is an amazing offer. Great value and the prospect of a fast Video on Demand service linked in with your Sky box. Despite this it’s not enough to tempt me into moving and that’s all down to Easynet/BT.

Six months ago I moved to NTL. That’s the last time I had issues with my broadband connection. Previous to NTL I had a short but unhappy experience with Freedom2Surf’s LLU service provisioned by Easynet. Unreliable, prone to disconnects and difficult to resolve due to problem being passed between Freedom2Surf, Easynet and BT forced my hand into switching to NTL. It will take a lot to convince me to move back although £10 a month compared to £35 with NTL is a strong argument. At the very least the competition from Sky should make NTL offer a more competitive service. More on the Sky offers can be found in the investor presentation.


EdgeEdgeHosted on Zooomr

I love my Edge magazines and the spines of the first few years look so much better than the drab recent ones. Anyway, the real reason for the post was to link to a Zooomr image I had uploaded and activate my Zooomr Pro account. Which I have done. Not tried out much of the Zooomr service yet but will over the next few days and report back. Still, if you want a free photo sharing account that allows for 2 Gig of uploads per month and you have a blog…..

  • Sign up for a Zooomr account
  • Upload a photo to Zooomr
  • Publish a blog post on your site containing the Zooomr image you uploaded
  • Visit the Proitizer to validate your blog post and get your pro account

And ultimately wax lyrically about how great Zooomr is. Will try some of the features soon although they will be down for a day next week while they ‘perform’ an upgrade… but kudos to Zooomr team for sharing the goodness.

Back to Edge – I do still love the mag, the style, the content (even in this web world where they can be 4-6 weeks behind) and the arrogance. Lovely.