Category Archives: Uncategorized

The end, goodbye (and hello)

I’ve been writing here for over eight years, and in that time what started out as a simple collection of links and bits and bobs that I  found interesting has mushroomed into something huge. I’ve no idea how many posts.

But I’m tired of it, so I’m effectively closing the site. I’m not taking it down, although I might do at some point in the future. I like the idea of things disappearing from the Internet, because I’ve often been more intrigued by what vanishes than what persists online.

So why? Basically two things. First, this started because my day-to-day job was about technology: Evaluating it, dissecting it, reading its runes and writing about it. The tech industry was my beat, and this site was a reflection of that.Hence the name, of course.

This is no longer true. My day job involves, but isn’t about, technology, and I no longer care about it in the same way that I used to. It’s not something I’m as passionate about, in the abstract, as I used to be. Occasionally, something comes along that I really do find interesting. But all too often my interest comes down to “oh yes, Microsoft tried that in 1995″ or some variant thereof. Been there, done that.

The second reason is more personal, but equally important: this blog – and by extension, me – has become more “influential” than I’m comfortable with. And I don’t like the direction that influence takes me. When what you write has the power to make someone else miserable, and you do it without a second’s thought for the consequences, it’s time to take a step away from the computer. When you start to write because you know other people will pick up what you post – and start to tailor what you write to appeal to that – it’s time to stop.

I’ll still be writing online, of course. I like the clack-clack sound of my fingers on the keyboard far too much to stop that. But not here, and not in the same way that I’ve been doing.

I don’t know what I’ll be writing about, yet – it’s far more likely to be about fashion, design, marketing, words, pictures and nonsense than hardcore technology – but I’ll be writing about it at my new domain (you’ll probably have to wait to find it, as it will take a few hours to propagate around the DNS’s – give it till Sunday). Expect, though, it to be much more personal than here. A better reflection of me, in fact.

(And yes, nerds, I’m using Tumblr rather than WordPress. I’m bored of WordPress. I’m bored of using a “publishing platform” rather than something that just lets me write nonsense.)

You’ll also find me, of course, on Twitter, Facebook, and so on. And, if really want to, you can always IM me, or email me. Old school style!

So, signing off: Thank you all for reading. It’s been fun. Time to do something new.

Hold on there: Copyright Office ruling doesn’t give blanket protection to video remixes

The US Copyright Office and Library of Congress have made some much-needed rulings which clarify when it’s legal to break copy protection on things like DVDs, as well as stuff like jailbreaking phones to allow you to install software on them. It’s all good stuff, sensibly extending fair-use protections to people who ought to have them.

Lots of sites, of course, have taken the “easy page views” approach of leading on the iPhone jailbreaking angle, mostly without understanding that something not being a Federal offence doesn’t mean a company can’t put a clause forbidding it in a EULA or other contract.

However, Boing Boing and others have lead on the “protection” this gives people who rip DVDs to use clips in mash ups. This perhaps isn’t surprising, given that the EFF’s release specifically leads on “new legal protections for video artists”.

Only one problem: despite the implication, this ruling does not give a blanket protection to video mash ups, even for non-commercial use. What it does is specifically extend the existing protection that some academics had enjoyed to get round copy protection “for the purposes of criticism or comment” to all academic contexts, documentary film-makers, and other non-commercial uses.

The EFF even go as far as to say this in their press release:

“The new rule holds that amateur creators do not violate the DMCA when they use short excerpts from DVDs in order to create new, noncommercial works for purposes of criticism or comment if they believe that circumvention is necessary to fulfill that purpose.” [My emphasis]

So if you’re making a non-commercial video about (say) science fiction movies (a piece of criticism or comment) you can clip away to your heart’s content. If you’re making a mash up of cats and Star Trek to amuse your 200 friends on YouTube, that’s not automatically protected – unless you can show, somehow, that it’s a piece of criticism or commentary on the original. Good luck with that.

Google desperately looks for way to get more cash from YouTube

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

New Role – YouTube as Outlet for Live Sports – NYTimes.com:

“Until now, YouTube has concentrated mainly on amateur user-created content, professional music videos and short promotional clips from television shows. The only major international event it carried live before the I.P.L. was a U2 concert from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last year, but it did not have corporate sponsors or pay the band a fee.

Now, though, YouTube could carry concerts and games from around the globe. Google will be looking at ‘more live events and live sports,’ said Shailesh Rao, managing director of Google India, in a recent interview in his office in Gurgaon, the outsourcing boomtown south of New Delhi. Many sports leagues noticed the cricket tournament’s successful webcast, he said, and Google is having ‘new conversations with lots of folks.’”

Translation: We’ve realised that there’s no way that we’re ever going to get enough revenue from YouTube to cover the vast costs of churning out all that video, so we’re desperately experimenting with every kind of paid-for and premium content we can find.

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Smartphone market share

Apple smartphone growth puts competition in the shade

Canalys has released its smartphone market share figures for Q1 2010, and the big winners are undoubtedly Apple, HTC and Motorola, all of which posted treble-digit growth in unit shipments compared to the equivalent quarter of 2009.

Smartphone market share

To put that into a little context: Apple’s worldwide market share increased by 4.4%. This increase is almost the same as Motorola’s entire share of the market, even after the excellent growth it showed over the quarter. Continue reading

Facebook blocking all bit.ly links? UPDATE: Nope.

UPDATE: And it’s fixed. Looks like it was a short-term glitch in the Facebook matrix.

It appears that Facebook has decided that all links using popular link-shortener bit.ly are potentially dangerous – and has blocked them.

Bit.ly blocked on FacebookI’ve tried this with a number of bit.ly URLs, and it appears to be for everything, not just “objectionable” content that bit.ly is linking to.

I’ve got no idea whether this is a mistake on Facebook’s part, an error in their code, or deliberate – I’ll be dropping them a line when I finish this post.

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Idiot post of the day (TechCrunch edition)

And it’s from our good friend, Mike Arrington and his Nexus One review!

“I was able to kill the fully charged battery with 1.5 hours of continuous gameplay (Robo Defense) on the full-brightness screen. Be prepared to keep this phone near a charger at all times…

Overall the Android is a superior mobile device, particularly when paired with Google Voice. Google is calling this the first of the Super Phones. And they may not be exaggerating all that much.”

A superior mobile device that you need to keep near a charger at all times. Seems like Mike and I have very different ideas of what “mobile” means.

(Lovely image by Thomas Hawk)