Wednesday, November 29, 2006

France Vingt Quatre

I see the new France 24 channel has a promo up before the launch on December 6th. Interesting that some of the tags are BBC and Al-Jazeera - probably hoping that people searching for video from those stations will bump into this one. All the video will be posted on line it seems. France 24 has been the first to use the blogging community for its launch - but I am surprised they haven't launched a question or an issue for the blogosphere to argue about. Unless you're in the biz, you're not that interested in the technology. I'd like to know how France 24 will be different from TV5, CFI - apart from doing stories in English and Arabic. I also wonder whether there will be duplication with Euronews.

I truly hope you will be seduced by our approach!

  A bottle of champagne and a brochure just arrived by Fed-Ex with an invitation to celebrate. It is part of the launch campaign the new 24hr news channel from France is organising. Clearly from the brochure it is the start of something....France 24 says their new TV channel will start with an equal web-presence. They are hoping that the buzz in the blogosphere will last longer than a brief mention on (competing) TV channels when they get going in French, English and Arabic a week today. They certainly get points for using social media from before Day 1. I wonder if they will be using User Generated Content? Will that be allowed by the French broadcast unions, famous for resisting technology in many other French public networks? But for the moment, I am not complaining. Cheers! (the title of this post is taken from the last line of the letter from the Director of New Media, Stanislas Leridon.)  Posted by Picasa

Find a job on Google Maps

I see the Dutch magazine for those in higher education, Intermediair, is now using Google maps as an aid to job finding. 488 management jobs are marked on the map of the Netherlands. I think we're only just discovering what maps can do when coupled to databases.

Safe to Drive?

  Interesting machine has appeared in a car park in Amsterdam. You can pay to take a breathlizer test near the lift before you go down to retrieve your car. It doesn't say what happens if the machine decides your over the limit. Sirens? Flashing lights? Police escort home? Could you use it as an excuse if the machine passed you, but you were later stopped by the cops? (no!). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bollard Souvenir

Same old trash in the London souvenir shops. Even the Gadget Shop in Covent Garden has been taken over by someone who has filled it with the most incredible rubbish. So the best store for unusual stuff is here on the web. I've been to many British pubs where they display (presumably stolen) road signs from other parts of the country. This Japanese designer, living in the UK, has come up with a rather unusual lamp for 40 quid. No way will you get that through Heathrow airport these days.

Coke Free Music


The small print seems to indicate the promotion is only on this particular sign in the UK and that the code word going round on the sign is changed. You had to text ROCK to shortcode 85100 when I walked past. The table on the website shows how many songs they are giving away to UK mobile owners only.

One "free" song

  I see that the Coke sign on Picadilly is offering one free song from iTunes if you SMS to a number in the UK. Actually, one free song doesn't sound like much of prize these days. The song is free, but of course there is a charge from the mobile company for the SMS. Posted by Picasa

Strange Spam

My spam filter catches quite a lot of spam, something I notice when I travel with my Nokia 9300 which has a Blackberry function. But over the last few days, one particular SPAM message has made it into my inbox. Its one of these share gossip spams, supposedly addressed to someone else about a hot share opportunity, in the hope that the tip will be stolen. Most of the time, the text is complete nonsense. But this one is pushing Advanced Powerline Technologies, Inc.'s a US company who's principal business focus is to create and develop Broadband over Power Line (BPL) and Power Line Communications (PLC) friendly devices, products and services. The company's main products at this time are cellular phones and liquid crystal display (LCD) digital televisions with high definition tuners and built in broadband over power line technology.

Personally I would never invest in a company that is "polluting" other parts of the airwaves....the power lines in your house are not shielded and so just try using an AM radio in a room fitted with PLC technology. Curious to see what happens to the stock as a result of the spam.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Walmart Head of Web

I wonder if the stock shock today can be blamed on the head of IT at Wal-Mart, who's website overloaded and crashed on Friday morning. There was very heavy promotion suggesting people visit the website on the first day after Thanksgiving to get details on the great deals. Today the stock of the world's biggest retailer plumetted when it revealed Friday had seen disappointing sales.

Walmart says it has solved the glitch - and presumably learned an expensive lesson. Wouldn't want to be their web manager right now....guess it must be outsourced to save costs.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lobster in Virgin, London

  Bought a Lobster phone to experiment with. CarPhoneWarehouse had a deal which was 50 pounds cheaper than the Virgin Megastore with this sign. This phone also has a built-in electronic programme guide to digital radio. Impressed by how easy it is to use and all the features on the phone. Makes my Nokia 9300 look particularly clunky. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 24, 2006

Capital Radio Awards

  Capital Radio in London with a row of International Radio Festivals New York medals on someone's window ledge.

Sadly, the New York Radio & Promotion Festival has degenerated into a money making farce, getting worse every year. I notice press releases by winning stations fail to explain that this commercial company dishes out more than 130 awards/certificates in one evening - the event in NYC itself is one of the most disappointing celebrations in the business. It has grown into the world's largest -and most impersonal - certificate factory, and I am surprised people continue supporting it blindly. Enter enough programmes and you are almost guaranteed to win a prize. There are over 150 people listed on the site just as judges, yet the stations are almost exclusively from the English speaking world. So face it, winning Gold means very little these days. Oh, and the Radio and Promotion festival is only one of several others.

I guess that apart from the profit on bringing people to a NYC hotel, station's order duplicate trophies at a mere 189 dollars a time (sorry, shipping is extra). This is not the industry reflecting on itself. This is a money making machine - reminds me of the Who's Who nonsense in the 1990's. You would be nominated to be in "Who's Who in the World" - with an opportunity to buy the hard-back edition of that year. Along with bios of some famous people who didn't need to be in Who's Who, were a lot of entries from head librarians who felt they ought to be. Google must have killed their biz model. Who will finally speak up for the NY Festivals nonsense?  Posted by Picasa

Capital Radio Cafe Closedown

  I remember the flourish with which Capital Radio in Leicester Sq opened the Internet cafe under its offices. Evidently, it wasn't to last. I wandered in to the entrance Friday morning. "No, there hasn't been a Capital cafe or shop on these premises for at least six years, mate." barked the security guard inside the entrance with a strange smile on this face. "We proudly closed it down. Now, unless you have business with GCAP, please leave sir." I didn't and did. I sense serious "interface problems with the public" there.

Many stations in the UK and USA have hired external security firms who have no interest in the broadcast business and probably present the worst business card of that station to the outside world. They must get thse guys from nightclubs. The worst I ever experienced was the security at Radio Marti in Washington DC, who refused to let me bring a tape recorder into their building to interview Ernesto Betancourt, the director at the time. The reason? They had never heard of him and were too lazy to pick up the phone to check. Posted by Picasa

Stuffed to the brim

  See what I mean? Posted by Picasa

Short Recycle Cycle

 Just got out of the Green Park tube station. The free newspapers are shoved in your face. Many, I suspect are shoved in the special recycling bins a few metres down the road. Its 9 am and the bins are stuffed full. Posted by Picasa

Q 2 C Paul

  Paul McCartney is to appear in the Virgin Megastore (used to be Tower Records) on Picadilly to sign his new album this morning. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Radio At the Edge

  the UK Radio Academy is gaining the reputation for putting on really relevant sessions for the radio industry - much better than over-priced commercial competition. This time it was in the Radisson Mayfair in the London with a mixture of presentations and panels. Thought James Cridland did a great job of putting technology like Vision Radio into an international perspective. The lack of women on the panels was noticeable by their absence. Posted by Picasa

Radio at the Edge - Opens

  Really enjoyed the keynote speech by Andy Duncan of Channel 4 in London this morning. He gave an excellent overview of the way commercial public service broadcasting should (and is) tackling the cross-media future. In short, they are preparing a bid for bandwidth for a third national DAB bouquet to be announced in the UK shortly. Andy also says that Channel 4 will put all its TV shows up on the web soon, although limiting the access to the UK because of rights issues. Most people in the UK do not realise that Channel 4 has a public service committment. I'm impressed with the standard of radio shows on the website. Posted by Picasa

Battery Blues

  Still not impressed by the life-time of the batteries in the iPod. My kids have had two iPods fail within 14 months - and surprise, surprise it is just outside the warranty period. Replacing it costs half the price of a new one. Apple Store in Regents Street not sympathetic. Not inclined to splash out on Final Cut Pro yet either. Posted by Picasa

Parking Meter Disappearance

  Looks like the "park by phone" system is so successful that parts of London (photo taken in Covent Garden) are going to get rid of the parking meter altogether in December 2006. So don't forget your mobile if you ever want to see your car again. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Great View from 2 Savoy Place

  There is a great view of the Thames and Waterloo Bridge from the Riverside Room on the 4th floor of the Institute of Engineers building. This is at 2 Savoy Place. This is where the British Broadcasting Company started in the basement so they didn't have this view. All the other rooms are named after famous British scientists - its like walking through a physics book.

The awards are going well. Good attendance, interesting company and great food. Posted by Picasa

The Eye at Night

  As Patrick Moore might have said, by accident. Posted by Picasa

Awards about to begin...

  Posted by Picasa

Stage is Set

  Impressed by the crew that Simon Spanswick has found to build a stage for the AIB awards at Savoy Place. Never seen a video screen go up so fast. David Costley-White is producing, so it is all in good hands. Posted by Picasa

Orange & Yellow Park


In London on business. Staying at the Royal Overseas League - where the average age seems to be 88. But they have excellent cheap rooms and a great network of reciprocal clubs around the world...oh and a commanding view of Green Park.

Preparing for the AIB awards tonight. Hope the video plays OK...I had a last minute challenge with the DVD burning software which, I learned later, had an argument with a Windows update. The Click-to-DVD patch is buried on Sony's support website. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Racing against the clock

Helping the Association of International Broadcasting by producing short videos to be shown in London on Wednesday 22nd. The sources of video are a challenge - some of the DVDs are encrypted and I didn't realize the Sony DVD authoring software was so difficult to use in a simple way. So lots of midnight oil, but we'll get there. There are some very moving entries this year.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Love Making Sandwiches

  Guaranteed to get traffic to this entry. Actually, the sign said "We love making sandwiches in a shop just off Leidseplein in Amsterdam. Posted by Picasa

RIPE Conference Success

  Interesting to be part of the RIPE conference in Amsterdam and Hilversum this year. Held every 2 years, its a gathering of academics and media policy makers which has all the potential of being boring as hell.

In fact, this one was a nice mix of those studying both contemporary and historical broadcasting - and the impact of genres on the public. This one focused on the future role of public service broadcasting. They held the opening day in the (nearly) finished Sound and Vision experience in Hilversum (going to be one of the wonders of the Netherlands ) and the second day in the Royal Academy of Arts and Science in Amsterdam.

I have several ideas for useful PhD projects they could be working on to help broadcasters with the the impact HD is going to have on newsmaking. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 17, 2006

Trip on a real steamboat

  I have done the canal boat trip many times in Amsterdam - its always different. This time the boat was actually a steamboat, though with an oil-fired boiler. Shoveling coal would be a bit too much. Almost impossible to take a picture because of the reflection. What looks like fire is infact the lights along the canal reflected in glass. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good Fake in Amsterdam

  Just discovered that all the insides of the Dutch East Indies house at the University of Amsterdam are least they have been lovingly re-created by examining paintings of the colonial period. Like being on a TV set. Posted by Picasa

Clear but cold

  In Amsterdam for a few days to give presentations, both at Artis and at the Netherlands Royal Academy for Arts and Science. Very different, but both very interesting events. We're having a VERY warm summer wandering around at the moment. Posted by Picasa