Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Nightmare Flight to Norwich

 Posted by Picasa KLM, Royal Dutch airlines have been cutting back on a lot of things, much of which I don't mind as long as safety remains number one. The flight to Norwich this afternoon, to see parents, was an example of really poor organization. Norwich airport had been shut by freezing fog for the whole of Thursday morning. So when we took off from Amsterdam at 1255, they must have known the chances of landing there in "45 minutes" was going to be rather slim. In the end, we circled North Norfolk for 45 minutes before concluding that this Fokker 50 flight was going to have to divert to Stansted. Passengers were promised everything has been taken care of - a bus to Norwich airport had been laid on. In fact it was. The only problem was that KLM has zero ground staff at Stansted and the staff that were recruited to assist hadn't a clue what they were doing. Cabin baggage was delivered to a mystery belt number, and after customs they put a guy with a clipboard and a stammer in charge of telling people where the bus was going to leave. Nothing against the guy - he couldn't help his speech impediment, but he also couldn't explain to the Dutch people on the flight what was supposed to be happening. The driver was sulking because people had thrown suitcases into the back of his bus without permission - so he didn't get credit for driving us safely to Norwich in pretty awful conditions. A classic case where a little bit of information would have made KLM into heroes of the day, instead of just fumblers in the dark.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Mandriva and Skype Partner - Linux

Mandriva, publisher of the popular Mandriva Linux operating system, announced today that the Mandriva 2006 Linux operating system integrates software from Skype to add free voice calling over the Internet capabilities. Mandriva Linux 2006 offers out-the-box use of Skype's popular application.
The two companies have worked closely to provide users a special version of Skype's software customized for Mandriva 2006. The resulting application enables customers to start using the voice calling feature immediately - without going through a supplementary installation."

Russia Yesterday -or already History?

Update: The Russia Today site has now gone from being a promise that things would happen after December 20th into a "404" site. New Years Resolution - hire a real website designer. This makes the station look absolutely ridiculous.

Wide Open

We found it amusing that the Russia Today satellite TV station was hacked within 48 hours of going on the air. The Voice of Russia website looks equally vulnerable. Don't these webmasters care - or don't they know? Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 19, 2005

Have a Very Wierd Christmas

Had an interesting bunch of Christmas cards arrive this afternoon. Three were actually for the neighbours, one was addressed to someone who used to live in this house in the 1970's and who must still have an Uncle Theo somewhere in Holland - and one that was addressed to me simply said " Happy New Year 2006. p.s. I am a celebrity. Please help me to get out of here!". With the gloom surrounding Dutch broadcasting (I see jokers have manipulated the old NOS logo already), the fun is definitely happening in other sectors of the media industry. If you're celebrating, have a Merry Christmas. Happy New Year to everyone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005



Just came back from an interesting dinner with other bloggers, some of whom were in Paris last week for Les Blogs, others just using software to blog their passions and share with the rest of the world. Great conversation. I am sure it was on par with the Rotary meeting in Utrecht in the room next door. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Russia Yesterday?

What is going on? Lou Josephs advises that the new Russia Today channel is already off the air after two days. The reason? Computer Hackers. This is according to the Gazeta.Ru internet newspaper quoted Russia Today's press service as saying.

"Due to attempts to break into the channel's computer system from outside and a suspected virus infection, the channel has had to cease broadcasting until technical malfunctions are mended," Russia Today said in a press release. "The channel offers its apologies to its audience,".

The 24-hour, English-language, state-funded television channel Russia Today was launched on Saturday, Dec. 10 and the first announcement about the channel was made in June. It is headed by Natalya Simonyan, a 25-year-old former Kremlin correspondent for state TV channel Rossiya.

This must be a very soft launch...the website says it will start on December 20th 2005. Is this a Russian way of launching things?

 Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 12, 2005

Livesupport Nears Completion of First Stage

Radio is still the most powerful method of disseminating news and educational material to disadvantaged groups and in areas with high poverty, fragile technological infrastructure, and/or instability. But while radio is extremely effective, the tools available to most community stations are very limited in function. The LiveSupport project, based in Prague, seeks to address this by giving stations an open source, end-to-end solution for managing a radio station.

LiveSupport is the first free and open radio management software that provides live studio broadcast capabilities as well as remote automation in one integrated system. They have also understood that such software is worthless unless it is backed by support - and a simple way to maintain it. I've been impressed by the first betas, all of which are posted on the website
As in all Campware products, LiveSupport software is language independent: virtually everything in the user interface can be translated into any language using Unicode. Multilinguality is implemented on all levels of the user interface as well as for the metadata for audio files in the storage system.

LiveSupport has been designed for a Linux environment, but it was built it on top of standard, cross-platform classes. Such an architecture allows for easy porting of LiveSupport to different operating systems in the future.

In short, expect interesting developments in this sector from these guys in the first quarter of 2006.

Edam like cheeze


Eat your heart out Holland. This is on a Czech menu... Posted by Picasa

Global Voices

Global Voices Online is a non-profit project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society in the USA. In addition to building a global community of bloggers, they aim to create a useful resource for news editors and reporters to tap into story ideas and information from bloggers and podcasters in all parts of the globe. Many communicate ideas and information that the mainstream press in their countries won’t publish.

Because American blogs currently dominate the English-language blogosphere, their aggregator does NOT include U.S. blogs and the roundups focus on countries and regions that tend to be under-represented in the mainstream media. The problem is that it is difficult for reporters to build up a "reputation" with mainstream media - just at the moment they are trusting the reporter, the story from that region loses its significance for the mainstream media.

That said, this is an extremely useful resource.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Gigapixel Project

If you are reading this text on a 1280x1024 computer monitor, a one-gigapixel image would be 35 of your screens wide and 22 screens tall. A four-gigapixel image is twice as wide and twice as high—that is, 70 screens wide and 44 screens tall. I'm sharing this info because a group in the US are using a 4 Gigapixel camera....the sort of resolution used in spy satellites in space. This is a film camera...since digital resolution on a chip hasn't got that far yet. When printed at the highest resolution discernable by the human eye, these images range from 5×10 feet up to 10×20 feet in size. Compared to leading 6-megapixel digital cameras, a Gigapxl™ image has between 160 and 666 times the number of pixels. Image collection during 2005 has remained at a brisk pace; bringing the total number to around 1,200. Naturally, only a portion of these will make it to the Gigapxl™ Project web site. Nevertheless, compared to the small number of images currently displayed in the Gallery, this represents an enormous backlog. Fortunately, during the next several months, they anticipate a substantial increase in the rate at which images are processed and prepared for display both in the Gallery and elsewhere. This, in turn, will put the group some way on toward satisfying a further objective of the Gigapxl Project; namely making the Portrait of America available to the widest possible audience. My favourite is the picture of Angel's Window in the Grand Canyon. The canyon drops some 5,000 feet down to the Colorado river....seen it once on a plane trip, but not in this kind of detail.

Focussing after the Shot...

Following a tip from Jim Cutler, I explored this piece of research at Stanford. Knowing what it is like to rescue important shots that went out of focus, you have simply GOT see this. Scroll down and watch the WMV (or the AVi if you have a really fast connection.

Bush Falling

James Burke alerted me to an amusing site where Bush is apparently falling out of control.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Google Fights

I don't take this too seriously. Seems I won in a battle with Adam Curry. But what were we fighting about? The mystery deepens.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rubbing Shoulders with Royalty


This afternoon I went to the annual Prince Claus Awards in Amsterdam, this time held in the new IJ Music Centre because the Royal palace at Dam Square is being restored. This year the theme was Humour with the main prize being awarded to Jonathan Shapiro, the South African political cartoonist. There was also a stunning performance by a Senegalese dance ensemble. It a preview of an opera which has been commissioned by the Prince Claus Fund and will be performed in Senegal and the Netherlands next year.

I expected the awards ceremony to have rather more jokes - bearing in mind the theme. But it was great to be able to speak to Shapiro after the event...he was obviously gobsmacked at getting the award. He deserves it bearing in mind the risks he has taken - and continues to take. Posted by Picasa

Shapiro & Farnon


Had a chance to speak with the Prince Claus Award winner Jonathan Shapiro just after the event. He's pictured here with Katherine Farnon of Radio Netherlands. Posted by Picasa

Innovation Platform Event


On Wednesday morning, I joined 2000 people in a former factory on the outskirts of Utrecht. The Dutch Innovation Platform had organised an event designed to show how Holland is blossoming as an innovative centre again. The purpose was clearly not to convince any foreign investors (it was all in Dutch). I wonder how effective it all was. It may have looked "cool" and innovative to hold it in this factory, but the acoustics were terrible and the technica facilities only so-so. Presenters had to shout to make themselves heard since the presentation areas were open and (non-interested) public was milling around within metres of the presentation space.

Stand holders I spoke to complained that the organisation left a lot to be desired. Perhaps they should have farmed it out to the private sector? No, not perhaps...they should have hired different set of professionals. Posted by Picasa

Scratchworx 2


The Society for Old and New Media in the Waag were showing off a VJ/DJ machine they had built for a kids project in Amsterdam. It allows you to mix video and music segments into a live performance. It runs on a Mini Mac and is intended to be robust as well as "reasonably" light to transport to different venues. I am surprised that the Waag doesn't seem to have plans to market the design - if it is such a success, why doesn't it want to move from just a student's research project into a commercial project. Posted by Picasa

Audience from the Prime Minister


Naturally, the session where the Dutch Prime Minister turned out where well attended. Posted by Picasa

Cramped Innovation

 Posted by Picasa

Workshop in the Portocabin


I quickly escaped from the workshops in a portocabin...cramped and hot. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 05, 2005

loic looks for a connection

loic looks for a connection
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks.

In Paris today for the Les Blogs convention. I'd like to hear a lot more about what's happening in the non-English blogopshere - not everything is happening in the US.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Downtown Geneva Blues

Although not obvious from any signs, the centre of Geneva (by the famous fountain) has decorated the trees in the same mysterious blue as Leicester Square in London- does Harry Potter live here too? I think we should be told. It is cold by clear in this part of Switzerland with heavy rain forecast for tomorrow.Posted by Picasa