Archives for May 2005
Sunday, May 29, 2005

Smiting for fun and relaxation

As part of my recovery program I bought myself a copy of GuildWars an online, multiplayer, RPG. I blame Don Park for this and if I get addicted it's entirely his fault :-)

I've never played one of these things before and it's a somewhat wierd experience having people coming up to you asking you if you want to join guilds or go out hunting. It's like, and unlike, joining a new IRC channel in some way I can't quite put my finger on. Still it's fun to play and looks great even on my low-end hardware. Oh and there are no montly fee's to pay (which always put me off previous online games).

Does anyone I know already play?

29/05/2005 13:23 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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phishing != phasing

I wonder how long it will be before spell-checkers will recognize phishing for what it is?

29/05/2005 13:15 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Error #11 -- system overload

Some things about last week that I very much enjoyed (not the exam, although that went okay) were:

  • not having to keep up with my mailing lists
  • not having to check, or reply to, email
  • not checking bloglines
  • not having to think about what to post
For a few days I felt a pleasurable sense of disconnection. Now I am asking myself "Why?"

My current line of thinking is that thought itself may be the problem. I am wondering if I have reached some kind of attentional boundary for concurrent, on-going, tasks.

I have 3 major ones (as well as a raft of minor ones) which are:

  • personal study projects around information management, topics, and sense making frameworks. These have lead me, in the previous 8 months, to learn Ruby, a bunch of new mathematics, AI algorithms, and so on
  • a growing role in my company requiring me to develop new knowledge and skills and to be better at communicating and persuading
  • a psychology course which is stretching me and leading me in many new directions

Now I choose to take on all of these silver linings. All bring me pleasure and fulfillment of some kind. Yet, in the last few weeks, I have found myself at a point where my brain is giving me active resistance and making life difficult. Why?

In cognitive psychology I learned about some models of attention which represent how the brain handles concurrent task processing. A central assumption of all the cognitive models is that useful resources are in limited supply. Common sense suggests this is a good assumption. Somewhat unsatisfyingly for my purposes though these models that I have studied deal only with simultaneous competition for resources, e.g. "How well can someone write from dictation while simultaneously reading a novel?" The answer is "surprisingly well" but it doesn't address background processing very directly.

When I'm working on an identity fraud presentation I'm not directly trying to understand support vector machines or why humans don't reason with propositional logic. When I'm studying Baysian theory I'm not thinking about communicating technical proposals or how neurons communicate. Whilst learning Andersons ACT model of skill development I'm not thinking about data protection or clustering algorithms. And yet I feel that, somewhere in the background, I am doing all of these things. It seems to me that my mind is dealing, at some level, with more problems than the one which is my current focus of attention.

For my purposes I require a model of attention that attempts to explain both focused attention and background attention. I have learned attentional models that describe the brain as having a kind of central executive function, a shared facility which plans tasks and shares available, modal, resources between them. Although it wasn't part of the syllabus for this semester some of my reading suggests that more current theories involve multiple executives. I think that background processing must also involve (to some degree) reasoning and access to memory.

As an aside, I found it very unsatisfying in the cognitive psychology module I took that everything seemed disconnected. It wasn't until the very end, the last week before the exam really, that attention, memory, and reasoning all began to interweave for me. I think lesson #1 of a cognitive psychology course should eschew history (as much as I love William James) in favour of building the backbone which will support every other concept.

So I'm looking for an attention & thinking model which handles not only focused attention but the way in which background tasks are processed. Is there anyone out there who is current in this field?

Returning to my starting point I have recognized that I am facing some internal resistance, my stress levels have gradually risen, and I find it harder to concentrate. Floating has been a boon, it deals effectively with the stress, but it's a band-aid solution. In the three months I have off from my course I aim to manage my stress levels downwards and to try and come up with a better solution which allows me to continue my interests along more managable lines.

I'm certainly open to suggestions.

29/05/2005 12:48 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
Friday, May 20, 2005

Floating resolve

Did the 3rd float of my trial tonight. I spent an hour happily floating, drifting, dreaming, and am now deeply relaxed. So much so that I don't want to spend time in front the computer in case it jangles it out of me as computers are won't to do.

I have also been thinking about my exam next Thursday on the Biological Basis of Behaviour. I'm finding it hard to study and I've concluded that the temptation to check email & news and the need to post are continuous distractions that I can well do without right now. So I've decided to take an electronic holiday. I'm shutting down for a week. It'll be another form of sensory deprivation.

Sorry if I don't respond to your email, comments, and so forth. Catch you in a week.

20/05/2005 22:47 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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It's no coincidence

I've just ordered Arthur Koestler's Roots of Coincidence and Modeling the Internet: Probabilistic Methods and Algorithms for the Web via Amazon. The first book is out-of-print and I'm getting it via the Amazon marketplace for a quite reasonable £8. The second book is available at £45. However I'm getting an as-new copy from the marketplace for £30.

It's not the first time I've used Amazon marketplace. I also picked up a few Guy Kawasaki books this way. I'm beginning to get comfortable with the idea that the Amazon marketplace, as regulated by them, is a safe and comfortable place to buy. If these two go okay I can see myself ordering a lot more books this way.

Amazon remains, for me, the essential internet service provider.

20/05/2005 14:32 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Browsable blogging

Over at How to Save the World, Dave Pollard is talking about how to make blogs browsable.

The task of making weblogs' architecture more robust should be much easier. Weblog software with more dynamic information architecture would not only make blogs much more valuable to those browsing for information, they would make weblogs much more valuable in corporate environments. The current emphasis on adding 'tagging' information is, in my opinion, misguided: That would make their content easier to search, and might solve the information overload problem when they're embraced by keyword search agents, but it won't make them easier to browse. Much of the readership of weblogs is serendipitous -- people stumble on them (usually through search tools) when they're looking for interesting reading. Or, they blogroll a weblog because some of its content is of interest to them. What is needed is a way for people to browse through a selected subset of weblog content, all of the articles on a particular topic.
I guess I'm a little surprised not to get a mention. My recollection (am I wrong?) is that I chatted to Dave about this (among other topics) back when Paolo and I were working with K-Collector.

The basic idea is to allow authors to mark up their posts with topics (I still don't like the phrase tag in this context but I accept I may be in a minority) which are fine grained. Categories for me have always been too inflexible and unwieldy. The use of multiple topics allows rich description of a post.

The magic part is what happens next. In my current experiment it means I can generate a page which allows my content archive to be explored by topics. Clicking a topic name takes you to a page that lists the posts, in reverse chronological order, associated (I would say tagged if I didn't think it was confusing) with that topic. Under each post is a link to the other topics associated with that post. Hence each post also offers a cross-reference facility throughout the rest of the content. It makes my blog into a fully-browsable content index, automatically.

These topic pages like Aggregators, Psychology, and Blogging are, if you check the URL, actually RSS2.0 feeds (with ENT topic metadata) being rendered in the browser as HTML. But you could also subscribe to a topic like RSS in an aggregator and only read my posts on that topic, blissfully ignoring what I write about Politics, or Microsoft.

But there's more to come. I also publish a Facet Map of my weblog in XFML format. The potential value of this is not just in improved browsing because XFML also offers a way to connect topics together. This offers us the opportunity to make sense of each others tagging schemes, harmonizing the view of data whilst allowing us to preserve our own preferences.

Two level, even three level, categorization is possible by grouping topics together although things can get tricky at this point. The approach Paolo and I took was to use a simple 2-level structure comprising

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
At the moment I only use two of these. My topics are currently implicitly What and I have automatically generated Date of Publication topics in my facet map file. I might do the other again, maybe.

What I've done others can do just as easily. As much as anything it's a mind-set issue. If you think in terms of categories you're thinking in terms of a rigid hierarchy. Topics are more granular and should be used liberally since the tools at the other end will make them usable by users, as I have done.

20/05/2005 13:49 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Another life used up

I don't know who the miscreant was but during the night my iPod headphones lost a cover and acquired a large claw print in the right ear piece. Fortunately for the furry individual concerned the damage appears to be entirely cosmetic!

20/05/2005 12:32 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Swipe me, he paints with light.

LightScribe looks kinda cool. If you have a LightScribe enableded CD or DVD writer you can flip the disk over and burn the label into the dye coating. No more fiddling with applying labels.

20/05/2005 08:28 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Grok it faster

Pretty though.

19/05/2005 23:49 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Grok it

I just installed the latest version of Grokker. It's name has changed to MyGrokker but functionally it appears much the same as the previous version. I confess i've never gotten as much use from Grokker as I'd hoped I would. I think this is partly because the maps, at the end of the day, don't go anywhere. I can't do anything nice with them and it's not soo much more powerful a search tool for the kind of searches that I do that it's worthwhile starting it when I can be in Google in 2s.

19/05/2005 23:46 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Who aggregates the aggregators

I've been reading Stowe talking about following Jon Udell's lead and unsubscribing from feeds. The reasoning being that anything good will bubble to the surface anyway.

Jon's [Udell] choice is to withdraw the feed tube on a blogger-by-blogger basis. Bloglines and have helped cull the wheat from most chaff feeds, so Jon is willing to forego the main feed and wait the additional few minutes it takes for other filters to bubble up the occasional gem to the surface. But multiply this effect by thousands, as Bloglines reports indirectly via its public subscription data, and a power law begins to emerge. When thought leaders like Udell stop subscribing, thought readers follow suit.

It's hard to argue with on one level since blogs are often about finding stuff other people are doing and reporting on it. People posting what they find that's relevant. This is added new layers.

But I think it takes care to select the channel from which you are going to receive these gems. What's most relevant to you is down to how content gets analysed. Do you always get the right analysis? As in every case where you appoint an intermediary you have to trust they will report what you need to hear.

Of course at a certain point 80/20 is good enough I suppose.

For myself I'd rather find ways of scaling better.

19/05/2005 16:17 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Visualising the topic space

I've been trying to think about better ways of visualizing the topics I use in this weblog and how to make my content archive easier to navigate as well as exposing recent threads. I've added a graphic to the navbar which is a shrunken version of the topic index page and links to it. The size of a topic on that page indicates how recently used it was so current interests poke out of the crowd. However it's rather a one-dimensional approach. It's also not live, it's just an image. I'd have to regenerate it regularly to make it relevant. There is also an element that, within an archive page, it maybe should reflect those topics I was using at that time rather than those I am using now.

I'm thinking some kind of flash based UI (Laszlo?) might be a reasonable approach to this. I had some idea about concentric rings where topics closer to the centre were used most often and the size corresponded to overall use. The idea being that you could make it small in the page so that it's unobtrusive but eye-catching and them, when the mouse goes over, expand it so that people could begin navigating with a usable interface.

Anyone interested in working on something like this? We can export the topic information in a standardized format so that other blogs can play along.

19/05/2005 12:18 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Getting things to play nice

I seem to have solved the problems with having my 120GB Western Digital USB2 disk and the iPod on the same computer. Previously both were connected directly to the computer one via front USB ports and the other at the rear. I bought a Belkin USB-2 tetrahub and connected both devices to that. I emptied and refilled the iPod without any of the problems I had last time and it's lovely and fast. Fingers crossed that has it cracked.

19/05/2005 12:10 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Making images

I'm questing for a tool which will automatically generate an image of a web page for me, allowing me to scale it so that the image is small. In my search I came across the CoolText logo generator.

19/05/2005 11:36 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Getting the monkey on my back

I've been seeing more and more stuff about GreaseMonkey the FireFox extension which lets you add user scripts to existing web pages. It enables all kinds of content modification and so can be used for good or evil but, unlike other such technologies, it's far more in the control of the user.

I had some problems last time I tried to install GreaseMoney but I came across Mark Pilgrims Dive into GreaseMonkey site and thought it was time to have another go. Happily there was no trouble this time.

I'm too busy to begin trying to write scripts but I might peruse the list of useful scripts although I'll be careful about messing with GMail as they have a tendency to lock your account.

Two scripts I would like to see are:

  1. A BlogLines monklet to export the current post into my blogging tool as a new post (which happens to be Radio Userland right now).
  2. A Radio Userland monklet to replace the editor with a working WYSIWYG editor for FireFox.

19/05/2005 10:40 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What's believable?

American citizens were horrified when they saw the photos from Abu Ghraib Prison, but we were only shown the tame ones. Senator Richard J. Durbin saw the photos our government wouldn’t let us see and he said, "There were some awful scenes. It felt like you were descending into one of the rings of hell, and sadly it was our own creation." Congressman Martin T. Meehan said, "I was obviously shocked and horrified to discover that the new photos are even more gruesome than those we have seen in the media." Now Washington wants the world to believe that our values and culture are such, that we would never desecrate a Holy book. Torture, sexually humiliate, and sexually assault, Yes. Desecrate, No [James Glaser]

18/05/2005 08:02 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Play nicely now

I'm having trouble figuring out how to make best use of iPod playlists (especially with respect to getting random playback and not including audio books, comedy, documentaries and so forth). I've done some searches and not come up with anything truly useful. Can anyone point me at the definitive guide to playlists on the iPod?

17/05/2005 21:30 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Monday, May 16, 2005

Banks hang the merchants out to dry

Is there anyone who thinks banks aren't a bunch of sharp practice merchants who exploit their position to screw everyone (and then bleat loudly enough to get bailed out with taxpayers money if anything does go wrong)?

Via Mary Hodder a story of a pro-active merchant who tried to do something about credit card fraud. He thought he had his bank on his side but it would appear they hung him out to dry when it didn't go to plan.

He called his bank, which had helped him engineer his credit card fraud solution in the first place, and demanded it not charge him this fee. Greenhome had been proactive, trying to help prevent fraud, he argued. Yet his bank refused to let him off the hook.

Comras' theory is, "It's possible that the banks have done the calculus and it's more in their interest to force the merchants to put whatever they want through because the banks can charge more when there is not a match." What he means is that the banks charge a slightly higher rate for transactions when the zip code doesn't match, yet they don't inform the merchants.

In other words, the banks don't care, since they make more money on fraudulent transactions anyway.

Banks make money on fraudulent transactions. Need we go on?

16/05/2005 20:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Not quite a disaster

The exam wasn't a total disaster although it didn't go to plan. I expect to pass (hell the passmark is only 40% I'd be embarassed if I didn't) but don't think I'll do as well as last time and certainly won't improve on it which is disappointing.

Oh well, best laid plans and all that. I'm still feeling pretty unruffled about it all although I do exhausted. Next exam is Biological Basis of Behaviour in 10 days.

16/05/2005 20:07 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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No stress yet

Right, I'm off to do this exam. I'm still feeling calm and collected which still feels totally unnatural both for me, and for this situation. We'll see if I've managed to retain my cool come the end.

One thing I would say is: If you are feeling a lot of stress in your life, I can recommend spending one hour in a floatation tank. I don't know how it works (yet!) but it seems to have some impact.

16/05/2005 12:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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I'll have a glass of that

Michael Duffy rates 2,767 winery web sites on effectiveness. He then sells a customized report to any winery that cares to pay for it. Home Page - The Winery Web Site Report.

This is the new sort of non-fiction publishing model that is going to demolish the old one (at least from an economic point of view). At $500 a copy, the report is almost certainly worth the money. And at $500 a copy, a customized overview is also quite profitable for the author. And finally, at $500, it's an effective calling card that builds his business among a (very small but important to him) target market. [Via Seth Godin]

What a cool model: find a niche (or already be in one), do the research, publish your own report, customising for each purchaser.

First, your customized report, printed on high-quality paper and wire-bound, tells you exactly how your Web site compares against all 2,400+ winery Web sites on the basis of visitor effectiveness, including a color copy of your own site rating. For each of 25 rating elements, the report contains both numeric and graphic comparisons of your score to the aggregate rating of all sites, common shortcomings, and suggested best practices. The printed report provides a context for thinking about your Web presence as part of your overall sales and marketing strategy.

I wish I'd thought of it.

16/05/2005 12:08 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
Sunday, May 15, 2005

The calm before the storm?

Tomorrow afternoon I take my Cognitive Psychology 1 exam. I'm feeling quite calm about the idea which I think has more to do with floatation tanks than it does to comprehensive preparation and deep knowledge of my subject.

One thing I will say is that I really didn't enjoy the course while I was doing it. I found it rather dull right up until the last lecture on reasoning and decision making. However, studying it since then, I've found the links between attention, memory, problem solving, and decision making have woven themselves into a very interesting pattern culminating, for me, in Anderson's Adaptive Control of Thought (ACT) theory. I've actually learned quite a lot especially from the problem solving research.

When the exams are over I would like to go back and recover that and write up some of the the thinking i've done.

Oh well, a couple of hurdles to get over first.

15/05/2005 18:25 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Great concept, well implemented

I'm very grateful to Dave Pollard for blogging about IHMC CMapTools. I used it to draw these study aids and I think it's the program I have been looking for ever since I realised that I often want to think at a different level to Mind Maps (for which I use Mind Manager, but not Mind Manager X5). It fulfills a need that PersonalBrain never could. It allows me to concept map on a grand scale. PB always tightly constrained your focus which didn't suit me for many tasks. (BTW have TheBrain gone out of business?)

When I first looked at the IHMC website I was a little suspicious. The history of Academically developed software is littered with programs even a mother couldn't love (I should know, I wrote some of them). Even though the IHMC home page was a map exported from their tool, was it a tool that normal people would ever choose to use?

In fact the answer is a resounding yes! CMapTools is a polished Java application. In 2 days of heavy use I've come across no bugs and, whilst it is a bit of a memory hog (routinely running around 170MB on my system) it's acceptably responsive (P4 1.6GHz, 1GB RAM, ATIRadeon7200 GPU).

I do have some issues with the interface, when I have a little more time I'll try and get in touch with the developers. The ones I've listed so far are:

  • I haven't quite got the hang of getting text & line control how I want them. Especially when I want everything one way with a few exceptions.
  • I'd like a way of creating anonymous propositions. That is I want to link two concepts but not have to describe how they are linked. You can leave the text for the proposition blank, but it doesn't look right and the connecting line is still jointed.
  • I'd like to see improved window management. When you have a bunch of maps open you need some way of herding them sensibly. Something like Apple Exposé would be perfect.
  • You can insert diagrams by making them the background of a node but it's quite fiddly and I've not been able to make it look good. I'd like to see more direct support for including diagrams (one idea that occurs is an auto-zooming icon: have a small iconic representation of the diagram in the node, which zooms to the full diagram on mouseover). I'm thinking now that nested nodes might also be a solution.
  • The collaborative facilities look as intriguing as they do baffling.

There are also features I haven't experimented with so far:

  • The most intriguing is nested nodes which allow you to create expandable sub-maps. So far I've been using ability to cross-link maps to sub-divide a topic but nesting might be more effective. I'm not sure how it will work in the HTML version which uses image maps (bonus marks would be available if this was implemented with DHTML).
  • As well as adding sub-maps as resources you can link map nodes directly. The linked nodes will be included in both maps and a shortcut icon jumps from map to map.

I'll conclude my capsule review by giving CMapTools 9 out of 10. Oh, and did I mention it's free?

14/05/2005 08:19 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Friday, May 13, 2005

Life is but a dream

Damn. I've just realised that I've run out of rope for next weeks title. Oh well...

Just back from my second floating session at the London Float Centre. This was a completely different experience to the first float. Last week I was nervous about doing something new and my body was so tense it was an effort to relax. This week I was more confident of what I was doing and my body is in much better shape (it has been ever since the last float). I slipped into the tank and was comfortable almost immediately.

As the music died down I found I could put my arms over my head which is very comfortable (I couldn't do it last time) and lie back and I lost the sensation of my body being there except momentarily. I used a headrest this time which was good and bad, I'd use it again because the support for my neck was nice but next time a little less inflated.

My mind has been racing all week and I guess it didn't really stop so much as slow down and learn to meander all over the place. It was nice, just drifting...

Then. Bam! The music was there again. It was hard to believe an hour had passed. Unlike last time when I felt the time passing and was more or less ready to come out this time it seemed to pass in the blink of an eye and I was inclined, for a moment, to barricade myself in.

Afterwards in the lounge over herbal tea I considered attention which is one of the topics I am studying for the exam on monday. Attention is all about how we handle the many stimuli rushing at us all the time. In the tank maybe 90% of those stimuli just aren't there. Without weight, without action, without stimuli - your brain is free.

Now I'm back home and feeling very calm and relaxed. It's a very un-2-days-before-an-exam-like feeling and only time will tell if that's a good thing. For now though I am happy.

13/05/2005 22:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Problem solving

Another concept map representing today's study.

13/05/2005 18:10 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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It's good, but the price is too high

Anu's getting fed up with being locked out of his GMail mailbox. Like me he loves the GMail interface but thinks the price may be too high. I've been using GMail for about 8 months and, despite it's flaws, think it's a great interface. But my feelings about Google have gone through an inflection during this time. They're not a company to whom I want to give anything any more. I'm looking out for the company who can eat Google's lunch.

My plan is to move my mail service over to my domain (where it belongs anyway) and use the GMail account as a backup. But I'll sure miss this great web interface.

13/05/2005 13:20 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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You have my attention

For a flavour of the sort of thing I'm working on I have uploaded a concept map of attention which I am working on. Attention is one of the key topics I am studying for the Cognitive Psychology exam on Monday. I picked it because it is a compact topic with close links to Memory, another topic I am studying. I'm building concept maps from my notes because my reading in memory suggests that incidental learning through organisation is very effective.

13/05/2005 10:08 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Control your destiny or somebody else will.

Scoble nails my view on corporate blogging:


So, why are we bringing them here? We're bringing them here to find out what they think and to start an interesting new conversation. One that we can't control.

As I met with Boeing and Target over the past few days that's what I told them too. You can't control this new world. At best you can participate in it. Just like if you hear someone talking about you at a cocktail party. You can't make them stop. You can't make them change their minds about you. At best you can join in the conversation and make sure they have a complete picture of who you are. [Watch out for that Scoble guy, he's just trying to control your mind]

Guess I'll have to buy his book after all ;-)

13/05/2005 08:26 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Finding a function call in a haystack

Via Phil Pearson, Koders is a search engine for source code. For example a search for GPL Ruby code using delegation. Quite specific.

13/05/2005 08:12 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Terry Frazier MIA

Can it be true? My good fried Terry is gone?

We are sad to report this morning the tragic death of blogger Terry Frazier. Mr. Frazier, whose real name was Mr. Frazier, disappeared from sometime in late March or early April. His unheralded and unmarked disappearance went unnoticed for some time, until friends and relatives reported him missing. Authorities have been uncooperative to date, ignoring repeated calls for assistance. -- [From the ghost of Terry Frazier's Weblog]

Perhaps we should call in the Feds?

12/05/2005 20:56 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Truly a fate worse than death

[Via Seth Godin]

12/05/2005 16:53 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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A little respect

Let me be clear about a definition here: disrespect is in the eye of the beholder. It occurs when someone feels slighted, or demeaned, or undervalued or lied to. There is no absolute measurement, and, because it's relative, people will surely disagree about whether or not it has occurred at all.


All the other person had to do was use a one or two sentences and the whole thing would have been fine. Almost all the instances of disrespect didn't have to do with the substance of the transaction, it was the style of it. If the person had accepted some responsibility and acknowledged how I might feel, the outcome wasn't really a big deal.


People have a hard time with this. If someone feels as though they're treating you technically correctly, they don't want to apologize. They don't want to acknowledge the feelings of the other side. This is awfully short-sighted. These are words that are worth thousands and thousands of dollars in lost sales and word of mouth.

[Seth Godin's Blog]

12/05/2005 16:50 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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The Tiger has claws

Not everyones happy in Tigerland:

The Internet is filled with angry OS X Tiger upgraders, there are security exploits, the whole thing is a mess. [Sam Gentile's Blog]
I'm hoping they'll have 10.4.1 out in July when I look to buy.

12/05/2005 16:39 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Ruby: less is more, in a most elegant fashion.
12/05/2005 13:08 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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This blog has many facets (well 2 anyway)

After a gap of nearly 3 years I am, once again, publishing an XFML facet map of my weblog.

The facetmap links the posts I have published to occurrences of topics I have used. I am also automatically generating a Date Of Publication facet which allows you to drill-down by year, month, and then date along with selecting topics. This can be demo'd at via Trav Wilson's FacetMap service.

The current map of my site is browseable, as an example posts I wrote in November 2003 concerning email.

12/05/2005 11:19 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Apparently I have much to worry about

Histrionic:Very High
Narcissistic:Very High

-- Personality Disorder Test --
-- Personality Disorder Information --

And I answered no to the ESP questions damnit...

12/05/2005 11:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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The 7 laws of securely identifed people

Via Marc I see Digital ID world has lots of interesting things going on. For me in particular the ID Gang meeting with, amongst others, Kim Cameron. The work PAOGA is doing is totaly congruent with 6 out of 7 of Kim's 7 laws of identity:

  1. The Law of Control: Technical identity systems MUST only reveal information identifying a user with the user's consent.
  2. The Law of Minimal Disclosure: The solution which discloses the least identifying information is the most stable, long-term solution.
  3. The Law of Fewest Parties: Technical identity systems MUST be designed so the disclosure of identifying information is limited to parties having a necessary and justifiable place in a given identity relationship.
  4. The Law of Directed Identity: A universal identity system MUST support both "omnidirectional" identifiers for use by public entities and "unidirectional" identifiers for use by private entities, thus facilitating discovery while preventing unnecessary release of correlation handles.
  5. The Law of Pluralism: A universal identity system MUST channel and enable the interworking of multiple identity technologies run by multiple identity providers.
  6. The Law of Human Integration: The universal identity system MUST define the human user to be a component of the distributed system, integrated through unambiguous human-machine communications mechanisms offering protection against identity attacks.
  7. The Law of Contexts: The unifying identity metasystem MUST facilitate negotiation between a relying party and user of a specific identity - presenting a harmonious human and technical interface while permitting the autonomy of identity in different contexts.
We've taken a pragmatic approach to #5 'pluralism'. Right now we don't integrate with other identity platforms. But as identity management services gain ground it will become a key issue for users. I forsee us adopting #5 in due course.

12/05/2005 10:41 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A quick view of where I am today

11/05/2005 22:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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As if we needed the stress

Currently studying for Cognitive Psychology 1 exam which is scheduled for next Monday afternoon but may be postponed due to a strike by lecturers in the NATFE union. Of course you'd be hard pressed to learn about this from the Pravda like London Metropolitan University website. It's good news only there and any students who might be wondering whether their exams will go ahead can go hang.

Topics include:

  • History of, and major influences in, cognitive psychology
  • perception
  • attention
  • memory
  • decision making and reasoning

Note I have no argument with lecturers withdrawing their labour if they're in a dispute. I do have a problem with the University (to whom I am paying over a thousand pounds of my own money) keeping me in the dark about something like this.

The University makes quite a lot of money from us postgraduates. I'm sure that, aloong with the other problems we've had, this will be encouraging many (myself included) to consider where else we might spend our money next year.

11/05/2005 22:09 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Bring back the voices

"Once, on the Merritt Parkway heading for New York, I came upon The American Atheist Hour, the sheer tedium of which was wildly entertaining--there's nobody so humorless as a devout atheist."

Via Doc I came across a piece by Garrison Keillor on the fortunes of Radio and, in particular, good-neighbour radio.

"The deregulation of radio was tough on good-neighbor radio because Clear Channel and other conglomerates were anxious to vacuum up every station in sight for fabulous sums of cash and turn them into robot repeaters."

Keillor thinks that the days of ClearChannel style Robot Radio are numbered and that the iPod owning, satellite radio listening, generation will tune out - robbing them of their reason to be. Keillor wants to hear voices, all kinds of voices.

"I enjoy, in small doses, the over-the-top right-wingers who have leaked into AM radio on all sides in the past twenty years. They are evil, lying, cynical bastards who are out to destroy the country I love and turn it into a banana republic, but hey, nobody's perfect."

Keillor doesn't worry about the rise of right-wing radio. He attributes it's growing popularity to a need for constant reassurance and the road rage induced in listeners by traffic congestion. Putting up with it is a small price to pay for all other voices, all the other worlds, radio can tap into.

"Here at the low end of the FM dial is a show in which three college boys are sitting in a studio, whooping and laughing, sneering at singer-songwriters they despise, playing Eminem and a bunch of bands I've never heard of, and they're having so much fun they achieve weightlessness--utter unself-consciousness--and then one of them tosses out the f-word and suddenly they get scared, wondering if anybody heard. Wonderful."

For me Keillor evokes happy memories of a time I never new in a place i've never lived. Where Radio was something the community used to reach out to each other. At the end of which I knew that my Radio station is right here and I'm talking into the microphone right now.

11/05/2005 13:53 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Them nifty boxes

Docking boxes look pretty cool. Check out the demos.

10/05/2005 22:16 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Must it always be this way?

So today it's Apples turn to incur my mighty wrath. Having gone to hell and back solving all the browser related issues with XSLT rendering of RSS feed, Beth dropped the bombshell that Safari 2.0 was completely ignoring my stylesheet and rendering the feed itself.

Now, i'll grant you that Safari does a pretty good job rendering the RSS, it's sweetly pretty. However it rather pisses on my parade since Safari doesn't know a damn thing about topics!

So i'm busy rendering up topic cross-references (major thanks to Beth for solving what she said were simple XSLT problems but which, nevertheless, had me pulling my hair out) which Safari will happily ignore. Why does it have to be this way? Especially when I am actually telling Safari exactly what XSLT stylesheet it should be using.

Can anyone supply me with the magic incantation to make Safari honour my stylesheet?

10/05/2005 18:37 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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MaxB on k-logs

Max Blumberg is talking about using Weblogs for Knowledge Management. That's interesting both because Max and I did work on that together while I was at Evectors but also because I am currently persuading people in my company of the value of blogging over e-mail for much of our communication needs.

10/05/2005 13:34 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Telemarketing counterstrike!

In doing some research for work I came across the ECBG anti-telemarketing counterscript.

The counterscript gives you questions to ask a telemarketer and takes you through a script which is sure to make their day! I particularly liked one of the responses for use if the hapless telemarketer gets upset:

I can appreciate the concern Mr/Mrs ... but aren't you calling me?
I look forward to the opportunity of testing it out :-)

10/05/2005 13:12 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Sound schemes apparently a rare species

This is really odd. Try as I might I cannot find any sound schemes for Windows XP. I'm getting really fed up with the strident default scheme but I do like sound notifications for various events. I had assumed there would be thousands of them (desktop themes seem to spawn like rabbits) but I couldn't find a single one.

Has no-one created any nice, unobtrusive, sound schemes for WinXP? I don't want a lot of movie clips and loud explosions but something that subliminally enhances my computing experience.

10/05/2005 12:47 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Monday, May 09, 2005

IE is such a piece of crap

I hate Microsoft Internet Explorer so much right now. It appears that the very neat trick Sean Burke developed to cope with XSLT processors which don't honour the disable-output-escaping setting causes IE6 to cough up it's spleen. It displays nothing, no errors, won't trip the debugger, it just sits there fat, dumb, and happy.

Further Microsoft (who I seem to remember as a company that made software tools for developers) seem unable (or unwilling) to offer a credible solution to browser based debugging. Given how long IE has been around I think the IE team should be ashamed of the pitiful support they offer developers. The script debugger is a piece of crap and there is no DOM inspector.

Take a long hard look at FireFox guys and remember you have frustrated me to the point that I want to tell all the IE lovin bastards out there that I don't give a rats ass if my pages work for them or not!


Update: it appears as if there is something ugly in the MSXML processor where an element in the generated by the XSL stylesheet stops IE from rendering anything at all. Changing the element name to x-script fixes that. As does commenting out the whole element. What is up with this?

Update 2: after much messing around I trial'n'errored into a first solution and the feeds now seem to work in internet-explorer. I'm not entirely sure what was throwing IE, it may have been the use of the html namespace in the XSL stylesheet. I'm not sure I really care at this point. As long as it works.

Update 3: in all fairness I should point out that IE does honour the disable-output-escaping setting. If FF did too this mess could have been avoided.

09/05/2005 21:59 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
Sunday, May 08, 2005

Go go Styled RSS!

Big thanks to Phil Ringnalda for providing the answer to getting RSS styled properly via XSL. It's so obvious once you know. Add JavaScript to the page to detect whether disable-output-escaping has been honoured and, if not, fix up the HTML. Now my topic pages work fine in FireFox and I'm a happy man!

Thanks Phil!

08/05/2005 23:33 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Why 3 pints all of a sudden?

Finally went to see Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy this evening. My Dad and I are both big HHGTTG fans and I think we were both a little nervous about what might unfold.

Once I got over the idea that this was something new and stopped trying to compare it to the Radio show or be indignant about favourite lines that were no more (as was bound to be the case in a movie under 2hrs) I settled down to rather enjoy it.

Dinner at Milliways? I hear the Universe will go Foom for our pleasure!

07/05/2005 22:39 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

A quick "state of mind" update: That good feeling from yesterday has remained with me throughout today. I woke up this morning with my usual shoulder and back ache noticably reduced which was worth the price of admission by itself. I've felt very calm and relaxed. This in itself is a strange sensation for me where tightly wound is a more normal state of affairs. Maybe I should experiment every Friday.

07/05/2005 22:29 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Firefox not XSLT standards compliant?

As I wrote yesterday, I'm now rendering individual topic feeds. Each is a (slightly bare) RSS feed of posts on a particular topic. Taking slighly more than a leaf out of the FeedBurner playbook each feed has an XSLT stylesheet which renders it for display in the browser. That way the same file that you can subscribe to in your aggregator can also do dual purpose as a cross-reference index of my blog. So far, so good.

What sucks is that, when you view a feed in FireFox, the HTML pokes through instead of being rendered as part of the page. I've spent some time this morning trying to figure it out and just couldn't seem to make it work. I called on Don Park who gave me some useful pointers.

Then I made an interesting discovery. In both IE and XML-SPY the output from the StyleSheet appeared to be correct, i.e. the entities were decoded and the HTML took it's rightful place. Some hunting turned up a FAQ on Mozilla XSLT which seems to hold the answer: Mozilla's XSLT engine does not respect the disable-output-escaping option.

They claim it causes trouble and I'm not in a position to disagree, however it also appears that this means Mozilla and FireFox aren't XSLT standards compliant which, if true, is both irritating and hypocritical because, as far as I can see, it's not an optional part of the standard.

How is the Mozilla team picking and choosing which bits of the XSLT standard they choose to implement any different to situations in which other vendors do it, and get called on it?

I'm not in a position to contribute to the Mozilla codebase or to look at this problem so it's unfair of me to gripe. Nevertheless I will. The reasons given are that it causes crashes and can slow down rendering. Both are reasonable first responses when pushing to get a 1.0 product out the door. But neither Mozilla nor FireFox are 1.0 products any more and these reasons don't stand up. Crashes can be solved (write better quality code) and, ultimately, judgements of rendering speed should be down to the user, not the developer.

In short, I think it sucks.

On a more practical note I really do want to see if I can figure out a way around this. I am a FireFox user and I care more about FireFox users than I do about IE users (for whom the feed renders properly, damnit!)

Since I am generating the XML for the feeds myself is there perhaps another way of solving this? Some way of getting the HTML in the field through XML validation but without requiring the entities to be unescaped in the XSLT?

Any help you could give me would be much appreciated.

07/05/2005 09:46 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Friday, May 06, 2005

Drifting gently down the stream

This evening I did something a bit out of the ordinary: I spent an hour in a floatation tank. I'd heard about it in a documentary on Acetylcholine (from Brainwaves a series of documentaries on the chemicals which make our brains work) I listened to during the week and it turned out the centre was right next to Clapham Common tube station. It seemed intriguing so I gave it a shot.

The experience itself was interesting but, because I have so much tension stored up in my shoulders, not always comfortable. But there were moments that are, well, hard to describe. Weightless, alone in a complete void, completely peaceful. Quite a trip.

And then, suddenly the music came up and it was time to get out. And that's when it really hit me, as I sat in the lounge and I felt like I was continuously falling into the chair. I felt light headed and peaceful and happy.

Now, a couple of hours later, I feel better than I can remember, still a little giddy and smiling to myself. Apparently it gets better from here.

06/05/2005 23:03 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Experimental Friday

It's like casual Friday only with fall-out!

At one point, when I was using liveTopics, there were topics all over this weblog. Then I decided to go as minimal as possible and stripped a lot of it out. Now, on a whim, I'm bringing some of it back.

In the right hand pane I now have a Zeitgiest listing which I shamelessly tried (and failed) to pinch from Joi Ito. Alas my CSS skillz were not sharp enough to work out why the layout goes to hell if I put display: inline on the list elements. So I have to have 'em in a drab list for now (Can anyone tell me why it doesn't work? The list items end up at the bottom of the page)

However I wasn't done stealing there. Looking at a FeedBurner rendered RSS feed gave me an idea. Rather than rendering a table of contents as HTML why not just publish each topic as a separate RSS feed and style it? Then it will work either programmatically or in the browser.

Turns out it works quite well (although it takes a devil of a time to upstream all 534 feeds). The only problem is that the tags in the field are poking through and not getting rendered into HTML. Apparently my XSLT skillz are no better than my CSS ones. Can anyone tell me what I did wrong?

However I think the end result is promising and it means that you can now subscribe to individual topics that I write about. Which is a probably boon if you think I blather on about, for example, politics way too much! :-)

Also I have a quick view of all topics (a blatant ripoff of Joi's format) which highlights those that have been used most recently.

06/05/2005 18:58 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Trillian contact management sucks

Trillian is generally great, version 3 has made the multi-protocol IM experience very sweet. I'm definitely wondering "How will it's nearest Mac equivalent stack up?" However, one area where it does not shine is contact management. Here I have some issues.

I wanted to add a new group to re-organize my contact list. I tried right-clicking in the contacts pane, no menu. So I ended up using "File|Add Contact or Group". Okay, lame but livable.

So I see the Create Group button and click it and make my new group. But where the hell is it? I realise I've created it tucked deep in the existing hierarchy. So I go look for it to drag it to the right place. But it's not there... I can't actually find it although it does appear in the 'Add Contact or Group wizard'. But you can't move it from there.

So, with a sigh, I go back and carefully make the group again putting it in the root of the contacts folder. Ok. This one doesn't appear either. Yes it's in the contacts pane in the wizard, but not in the main interface. I'm getting bored with this now. Let's start again.

Except I can't, because you can't delete them from the wizard either. So I wonder "Is it because I have two with the same name and now it's confused?" I create another one with a different name. That one doesn't appear either. Now I have 3 useless groups which clutter the wizard but don't help me one bit.

At this point I'm pretty pissed off: Shall I just live with the damn folders I have then!?!

I'm definitely feeling that the contact management side is letting down this excellent application. Apart from stuff like this the 'Add Contacts or Groups' wizard feels very Version 2. I really hope this whole area gets an overhaul in v3.2, or v4

06/05/2005 09:43 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Tube test

CuriousPod passed the tube test today requiring only 75%-80% in the noisest stretches to give me a good quality sound. I'm dubious whether audio books would come though quite as well, that's the next test. Overall i'm very pleased though.

05/05/2005 20:30 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Longhorn... what a yawn...

Longhorn looks incredibly dull.

How long have they been hacking at this thing?

05/05/2005 09:50 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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It is better to be ignorant than misinformed

Charley Reese holds these truths to be self-evident...

05/05/2005 08:33 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I’m definitely getting...turquoise vibrations

While I was making lunch today I was listening to The Poetry Society a Hancock's Half-Hour first broadcast on BBC Radio in December 1959. The first one I ever heard.

Bill: Hi ya, doll. How about you and me whizzing down to the pub? There’s a piano down there, its ‘talent-night’, tonight, in the saloon bar. Are you musical? Greta: I can only tolerate Bartok and Weber. Bill: Well, that’s all right, sing a couple of their songs, the lads won’t mind. Greta: What an intriguing little savage you are. Hancock: Bill. Come away, come away. I must apologise, Greta, he’s not one of us. He’s very suburban in his musical taste. He doesn’t appreciate the finer points of classical music like we Gilbert and Sullivan fans.

Tony Hancock is far and away my favourite comedian and, better than that, listening to him always reminds me of my grandpa who introduced me to him and, like my Dad, was also a big fan. One evening he gave me a tape player and 4 slightly crackly recordings. I was hooked. It was a marvellous gift from a kindly, good humoured, man that I miss.

04/05/2005 13:38 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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It's a fine ART

Something I was messing around with at the weekend is a Ruby implementation of the ART-1 and ART-2 clustering algorithms. ART stands for Adaptive Resonance Theory. I have no idea what "adaptive resonance" means but that hasn't stopped me so far.

Basically, what the ART family of algorithms do is partition a series of vectors (whose elements represent features of some subject) into a number of clusters (sets) where the features of the vectors in one cluster are "closer" to the centre of that cluster than they are to the centre of any other cluster.

The centre of a cluster is a mathematical point which depends upon a function of the features of the vectors in the cluster. As the centre moves vectors may drift between clusters accordingly.

ART-1 clusters boolean vectors (that is each feature is either on or off) while ART-2 clusters real valued vectors. It's ART-2 i'm primarily interested in as I'm looking at concept clustering in weblog posts as part of MemeScope. I went back and did ART-1 for completeness. Both will be released soon.

Different clusterings can be obtained by adjusting parameters to the algorithm. This is much like a b-tree where each bucket can have a different number of keys leading to different shaped trees. My perception is that, for ART-2 to be useful to me, I will need to find a good way of dynamically adjusting the parameters and reclustering as new data appears.

The first thing I need to do is to prove that my implementations are sound. I developed my ART-2 implementation from reading an outline summary of the algorithm. I have a paper on ART-2 but frankly can't understand the math or the terminology. My ART-1 implementation was implemented with reference to the code in AI Application Programming (an excellent practical book on this subject).

What would really, really help me is a set of sample data with expected output. It's hard to write test cases for the algorithm when I don't know exactly what to expect. Can anyone help me? Or point me at someone who can?

04/05/2005 11:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Coming through loud and clear

A couple of audio questions:

  1. Can anyone recommend a brand/model of directional microphone which would be suitable for recording lectures from a distance? Some people put MP3 recorders with condenser microphones on the lecturers podium but I'm guessing they get pretty bad quality (I notice less people are doing it this semester than last) and it's not always possible anyway. I'm also not keen to leave one of these things lying around so my thoughts have moved to laptop + a directional mike. Anyone have any advice?
  2. I want to convert a lot of my old tapes into MP3. I have borrowed a good quality tape deck but I need some (Windows) software to handle the recording and clean-up. Recommendations?

04/05/2005 10:26 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Initial iPod reflections

So far, so good.

Sound quality is excellent. My MP3 CD player never reached a volume that allowed comfortable listening on a busy road. Spoken word stuff was hard to listen to on the tube. My perception is that the iPod is considerably louder and I haven't even tried the volume boost from euPod yet. Any recommendations on noise-cancelling headphones?

Battery life is likely to be as mediocre as I was led to expect from the Amazon reviews. In practice I don't think this will be an issue for me and, if it is, the solution is probably an external 'AA' battery pack (I already have rechargable AA's). A car charger is also an option.

The iPod won't play Layer-2 MP'3, only Layer-3. I found this out after I dragged a bunch of stuff over and, later, found gaps in the playlists on CuriousPod itself. Fearing more problems I gingerly tried dragging files one at a time and discovered some of them came up with the Stop icon. The common factor was layer-2 and easily solved by converting them within iTunes. So far I'm sticking to MP3 rather than AAC. I have 9Gb free on the pod, I don't think space is going to be the major issue.

Having a good case is a must. This thing feels solid but that just means it will make an even louder crash if you drop it. I bought a leather exspect for 4G which has a removable front flap for complete protection. The only problem with it is that you have to remove it from the case to sync or charge. As an aside exspect have the worst website i've come across in some time. It's a flash site which, after several minutes still hasn't loaded, and has no alternative site. Checking the source to the page I found that if you don't have flash it directs you to a page saying

"Go Download Flash"
Very lame. Nice case though.

I'm still assailed by the Joy of having so much stuff to listen to wherever I am.

04/05/2005 08:36 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Happy Happy Joy Joy

So yesterday I bought a 20GB iPod. I haven't had a decent MP3 player since about 2001. The last couple of years I've made do with an MP3 CD player which was fine for car trips but too cumbersome for walkabouts. CD shuffling was a PITA too.

What pushed me over the edge was Beth's SpeedyPod nestled in it's funky speakerdock turning it into a portable stereo. I realised I had waited too long. I also realised I could afford it which, after a couple of years of being broke, took me a little time to get to grips with.

I'm using Windows so I expected a little roughness around the edges. It took me a few goes to get iTunes to recognize the iPod was present via USB-2 despite it appearing as a drive letter in explorer. I ended up downloading the 2005-03-23 updater and reflashing it and, although that didn't seem to make any difference at the time, a couple of reboots later all seemed well. Seemed well.

I'm not the hugest iTunes fan but I'm getting used to it again and it does have one of the best music browsing interfaces i've come across. Smart playlists are also handy. Of course I am now having to fix the ID3 tags on a huge pile of files. Oh well. Anyway with the iPod recognized and a library of music on hand it was time to go crazy and fill it up.

That's when something bad happened...

I keep most of my MP3s on a 120GB USB-2 external drive. This has been working great for about 5-6 months. In the process of copying some music over to the pod there was a momentary glitch. After that I seemed unable to copy anything more. iTunes would do the copy, you could see the files being copied, only they didn't appear on the iPod either in iTunes itself or browsing the hidden folders on the iPod disk. All that was visible were the couple of dozen tracks which copied first time.

Shortly thereafter I got a "delayed write failure" error on my USB-2 drive which began to behave a little odd and then wouldn't unmount. I rebooted. The drive seemed fine, all data present and correct.

I tried again but now iTunes would not copy anything to the iPod at all. I did a factory restore on the ipod (and am now stuck with it called IPOD because I can't see how to change the name). No deal. Then I got another delayed write failure on the USB-2 drive.

Now I was getting a little jumpy. I keep all my data backups on that drive. Then, worse, the drive started reporting device failure when I plugged it in. I had a terrible sinking feeling. A complete reboot did nothing to buoy me up.

Feeling panic brought on by data loss to be imminent I powered everything off and moved the USB-2 drive back to my laptop. With a quiet prayer to the universe I restarted everything.

Success! The USB-2 drive came back to life and, once mounted over the network, I could re-add it to the iTunes library and happily copy, copy, copy, to my shiny iPod.

Happy Happy Joy Joy Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy Happy Happy Joy Joy
Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy!

Sure it's much slower transferring to the pod now that the files have to come over the network and it's not convenient to have the USB-2 drive plugged in to my laptop but I can't risk fucking up that drive so that's how it'll have to be for now.

Deep breath in, deep breath out

Now I have a slightly more than half filled iPod containing tons of music, comedy, drama, documentaries (including a bunch of BBC radio broadcasts on the chemistry of the brain), and podcasts. I listened to the Bruce Shneier IT conversation in bed and, as Terry said, the man makes a lot of sense.

Music and radio are important things in my life and this makes me very happy.

Some lingering questions though:

  1. How do I rename my iPod back to CuriousPod?
  2. In iTunes how do you get it to recognize that files have been added to folders you've already added to your music library?
  3. Is there a known problem with iPod's and other USB-2 devices in Windows?
  4. Is it possible to design a surface more guaranteed to get scratched than the back of an iPod?

Update#1: Beth gave me the answer to Q1. You select the iPod in iTunes and, with it selected, click on the name which then becomes editable. My iPod is now called CuriousPod again! Thanks Beth!

03/05/2005 10:10 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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