I have moved!

February 21, 2008

You can now find me at:

www.midnightexcess.com


Musical Madness

October 15, 2007

A Kwik-Fit car repair centre in Scotland is being taken to court by the Performing Rights Society (PRS), who claim that music broadcast on the radio that the mechanics listen to whilst working constitutes broadcasting said music to other staff and customers. The PRS are after £200,000 damages. Not surprisingly, Kwik Fit want the case thrown out, but so far it hasn’t been so.

I’m not a lawyer, and there may well prove to be a legal case to answer. However, I find this quite staggering. As I understand it, the staff were playing the radios for their own benefit, not broadcasting the music to customers. It would seem to be somewhat akin to the cigarette companies coming after me for ‘enjoying’ somebody else’s smoke after they exhaled it!

I like this little parable, found on Slashdot, which sums the situation up perfectly:

‘Nasrudin was walking down the street one day, and came upon a man arguing with a merchant who was selling stew out of a street stall. According to the merchant, the man spent all day hanging around next to the stall, inhaling the aroma of the stew, but not buying anything; the merchant was demanding compensation for the service that he provided.

Nasrudin, hearing this, took the man’s money purse, held it near the merchant’s head, and shook it gently for a few moments. Then he said: “Now you’re even. He’s smelled your food, and you’ve heard his money jingle.”‘


Message To Staff: “No Yawning”

October 11, 2007

We are currently at what is hopefully the tail end of a bogong moth invasion here in Sydney. There are (seemingly) billions of the little buggers in the city at the moment, lost on their way to their annual vacation in the Snowy Mountains.

Luckily they are more annoying than dangerous and don’t bite, sting or eat your clothes.

The kind management at ACP magazines has, nevertheless, issued a warning to their staff to ‘refrain from yawning’ lest the moths mistake their gobs for a mountain tunnel and fly in for some hibernation action! I’m not sure who that makes the bigger fools – the management for giving the advice, or their staff for needing it! I’m going to be charitable and assume the former.

What’s next I wonder?

‘Would all staff members please be aware of excessive blinking. Closing your eyes for too long may result in being hit by a truck.’
‘When licking your lips, be careful your tongue doesn’t accidentally come into contact with an electrical socket.’
‘Dear staff, please don’t smear your body with honey and jump into beehives.’

What do you think: health and safety gone mad? Or an office prank?


Facebook and Social Networking Are A Fad

October 3, 2007

Or so says Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. To be fair to the king of the chair-throwers (alleged), Ballmer does say there is a risk that this is the case.

He may well be playing a clever game of toning down Microsoft’s interest in a rumoured stake in Facebook. Or he may just have missed the point entirely; particularly as he seems to be focussed just on the technology.

I’m with Scoble on this one. There will undoubtedly be a lot of consolidation and casualties to come from the plethora of social networks currently around. There will be cooler and more seamless technologies, new players and new cool toys to play with. What Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Thursday Club (sorry, gotta get a plug in :-)) and who knows what else provide though is a platform and a ready-made largely self-segmenting group of identifiable and targetable consumers.

Let me explain: the platform, when done right, offers an open and extensible opportunity for the originator and third-parties to build on and add interesting new twists based on existing data. Witness the Facebook API (although, as an aside, I think that whilst the viral nature of the applications built on the API is superb, they need to be cautious that people don’t get turned off by the sheer volume of ‘Zombie vs Pirate’ style requests. I’ve turned off most of the plug-ins – it was starting to feel too much like crappy cc’ed joke emails. But, I digress.)

Take that platform and add in millions of people who have voluntarily decided to add an advertising persons dream set of demographic data: age, sex, location, marital status, interests, pets, groups, fetishes, favourite bars, clubs, food. You name it and people on sites like Facebook are telling you about it. Or if not you, they sure are telling the automated algorithms that will shortly be feeding them targeted adverts and other useful information. Users on Digg might hate the adverts and a number of the tech-savvy may have ad-block or clever host files set-up so they don’t see them. But your mum? Your sister? The other sixty three and half million emo kids on MySpace? Pure gold if you can mine it.

So Mr Ballmer, it really doesn’t matter whether Microsoft could technically build another Facebook in a short time period (and that’s debatable, but we won’t get into that). It doesn’t even really matter that one particular platform loses some of its appeal, a’lah Friendster (which still goes great guns in Asia by the way). The methods might shift too. But the concept of the network will stay.

Final thought: I’ll bet there are people in Microsoft, lots of super-smart, super-switched on people in groups like Live banging their heads on the table thinking “We know how to do this, but we are missing the boat. Stop frigging around with politics, protecting positions, re-orgs and headcount manipulation and give us a few smart people, a long enough rope and some space and then see what happens.”

And, no, I don’t work at Microsoft :-)


All I Can Say Is *Ouch*!

September 28, 2007

I note that a Russian lady has given birth to her 12th baby. That’s a feat in itself, but this freaky monster, err lovely girl, weighed in at a part-stretching 17lbs! 7.7Kgs in new money. Youch.

Luckily for the mother the baby was delivered by Caesarean section.

The thing that struck me as quite cute though was that the Russian social services gave her a washing machine. I’m sure that’s the first thing you’d want after carrying and giving birth to a small elephant! Aspirin, morphine, a wheelchair, large amounts of vodka, burgers for life for your huge bundle of joy. Then give me the washing machine.

Anyway, good luck to them. Must be fun for their neighbours though :-)


Humans too Lazy for Web 2.0?

September 27, 2007

There’s an interesting article from The Futurist at CrunchGear which posits that the web 2.0 bubble will burst because humans are too lazy to continue contributing to collaborative websites.

I don’t buy it.

The bubble may burst for a number of reasons, but I don’t think inherent laziness will be one of them.

People love to feel connected. They love to have the chance to have thousands of ‘friends’ (however unreal those relationships may actually be). They love to show-off: blogs, videos, job skills, podcasts. They love the fleeting chance to become the next Chris Crocker or Tay Zonday.

And I love the fact that random strangers read my ramblings (hello to both of you!).

Sure, we’re always going to be searching for the next new new thing. In shorter and shorter timeframes. It’s natural therefore that Friendster gives way to MySpace which moves over for Facebook and so on. Or that people move on as they grow-up. First to Ecademy or OpenBC then LinkedIn or something else.

I’m pretty sure we’ll see more consolidation and aggregation. Maybe one virtual profile, manageable from your GPS enabled mobile device? Location info, personal details, video, pictures, blogs – all available via one uber-OpenID. Other services or people subscribe to you as appropriate.

The article asks whether people will also get fed up contributing to sites like Wikipedia for pretty much no reward? I don’t think so, but I do think that what will need to happen is the site will need to automatically utilise other sources of reputable data and will also have to tap into people’s drivers for recognition (it will be interesting to see how the new editor rules work out).

Keep us engaged, make it pretty easy to do and give us the smallest hint of global glory and we’re sold!

[update] good timing: front page of tonight’s MX paper in Sydney mentions Facebook alone growing nine-fold in Australia in the past three months. Even MySpace, so disparaged by the technorati, has trebled its numbers. What comes next? Stay tuned!


Beer or Whine?

September 27, 2007

A hot topic for debate here in Sydney currently is mayor Clover Moore’s proposal for more intimate ‘Melbournesque’ bars and lounges. I have to say I am in 100% agreement with her. Sydney has some reasonable cool bars and a lot of pubs, but for great little Euro-cafes, bistros, wine bars, lounge bars, supper clubs and hole-in-the-wall cool venues, Melbourne wins hands-down.

Right now, Sydney laws mean that in addition to expensive alcohol licenses, you also have to pony up for a ‘social impact analysis’ at roughly $60,000 plus associated legal fees and other nonsense. In Melbourne, a handful of virtually penniless students could open a bar in an upturned skip at the back of an alleyway. And they do. And it works.

The crusty old folk at the AHA, who seem to be stuck in some 1960s timewarp, believe that Sydney folk don’t want to have a nice glass of wine in a small quiet bistro and that large pubs with pokies and sports on TV are what us bogans really enjoy. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

I’m glad to see that support for Ms Moore is coming from people like Neil Perry and other notable nightlife owning Sydneysiders too.

I do enjoy Sydney, but having recently returned from a trip to Grenoble in France, we need some good old Euro-chic. Bring it on Clover!


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