Monday, October 17, 2005

Geeks love to gossip...

It's true, they are like the proverbial 1950's housewives chatting over the fence , holding forth about the latest rumors, whether Google has sold its soul or if Linux ever will be a viable alternative desktop OS.

The past few weeks us geeks have been in gossip heaven because of the few companies that understand this phenomenon and fuel it to their advantage. First we had Apple's announcement that they would soon be announcing something (that turned out to be the iPod nano), then the joint Google/Sun press conference and finally Apple's "One more thing..." press conference (which turned out to be the new iMac and the Video iPod). Other companies choose to fuel rumor mongering after the announcement by making it so bizzar that no one can quite understand what is going one (eBay's purchase of Skype). Finally there are those companies that just don't get it and make announcements that nobody is interested in (Microsoft/Real, Microsoft/Yahoo).

So looking back on the last few weeks, how did they all do?

Apple (nano announcement)

Rumors built about a new iPod, but few anticipated the storm of media attention that would brew up over the nano. I am constantly amazed at how Apple can keep such a big announcement under wraps and be ready to ship the next day. Unfortunately, while initially this gained them many points they ultimately lost a lot of these amidst problems with easily broken screens on their shiny new nano range. 8/10


Never have I seen a single press conference announcement trigger such outlandish behavior. The rumors had this about anything from a Wi-Fi infrastructure partnership to GoogleOffice to GoogleOS (that one will never die it would appear). After setting the net alight with wildfire rumors Google's tactic of keeping schtum really backfired with a nothing announcement of a joint marketing and software distribution deal. "Joint marketing" is a phrase that will never get a Geek excited, unless (there you go Craig I didn't use "thanless"!) its Eidos and Playboy.

Interestingly I do wonder if the rushed release of Google Reader (which was the most unready for release Google Beta I've seen) was in part a reaction to the boredom surrounding the Sun joint press conference? 4/10

Apple (iMac and Video iPod announcement)

Rebounding from the iPod nano screen problems Apple offered up their mysterious "One more thing..." press invite. This was designed to really get the rumors flying, and it did. This time there were no disappointments and after telling us for four years that no one wants to watch programmes on a small screen Steve Jobs announced a new iPod "and yes, it plays video". Lots of people saw this coming, they also saw the updated iMac coming however the "One more thing..." of the title was the tie up with Disney (previously, for a short time and while wearing a different hat, sworn enemies of Jobs) to allow the purchase of TV episodes of 5 series, including Desperate Housewives and Lost for $1.99 each.

As always I recommend watching the stream of the announcement as Steve Jobs is still the best at this stuff. 9/10


Apparently Microsoft and Real have settled their dispute and are teaming, in some strange Power Ranger style combo, to defeat the evil Apple and its all destroying iTunes/iPod weapon. No one listened, no one cared. 2/10


To stem the losses on its western flank (Google, Apple is definitely the eastern flank) Microsoft called on old enemies to make a stand with them. M$ and Yahoo announced that in a landmark deal they would allow MSN Messenger and Yahoo "whatever its called" talk to each other. The rest of the world went "woo hoo, I use Gaim ". 1/10

eBay buying Skype

eBay bought Skype for $2.6billion ... no one seems to know why ... but they are still talking about it! 7/10

But the silly season is not yet done. There is another Apple announcement set for the 19th October, could be new PowerMacs, could be a new semi-pro iPhoto who knows...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Google's RSS Reader...

Google Reader is the newest addition to Google Labs. Fantastic AJAX interface, very like GMail, in which you can see the design ideas that could remain consistent all through Google interfaces.

However the most important aspect of this the ability to add any metadata tag/labels to each post as you like. This is very much in the Folksonomy vain. This is only a very small feature of Reader but quite a sea change for Google to include it....of course I cannot see any way in which these tags are used???? Database of Intentions then :)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

4th annual 24x24...

This Saturday my friends and I will be doing 24x24 for the 4th year. Watching 24 Season 4 in real time. This year obviously starts at 7am, which is going to be quite hard. The last time we had to start in the morning, Season 2 starting at 8am, we made the mistake of staying up far to late the night before. It was very hard to make it all the way through.

That will be a nice end to a manic few weeks. Yesterday we delivered the most recent piece of work to one of our main clients, MLA (the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council). We've been building an Institutions Server, a central database of institution contact details. It has several Web Services and an OAI Harvesting interface so that the data can be shared between several other MLA websites. The Institutions Server, while a relatively small project, will have quite a reach within this sector so I am very excited to see it finally out there and being used.

We have also started up the developer research days again, now that things are calming down. This is based on Google's model of ring fencing some time for everyone to do work that interests them but that might not prove to be commercial to the company. Each developer is supposed to do one day each month on something, although this tailed off for while during our busy period. Over the last few years we have ended up with some very commercial code out of these days, and it is always nice to take a break from the usual projects for something a little different.

Now that the Institutions Server has been delivered I will finally get round to mine next week. Still firming up what I will do, but looking forward to it a lot.

So that's what I've been up to recently and what's coming. Finally there are a few websites that I wanted to let you all know about.

1) The Clerks 2 Production Diaries

Much like the King Kong and Superman production diary videos, just with a lot more swearing and the wonderful Kevin Smith view on the world.

2) The DARPA Grand Challenge - or the modern Wacky Races

With $2 million up for the autonomous vehicle which completed the 140+ Mile course the quickest the competition this year looks a lot better than last, during which the furthest anyone got was a little over 7 miles. The event itself is on the 8th when the link above will cover everything. Unfortunately my favourite team, the Blue Team, who in a moment of madness decided that they would do it with a motorbike instead of a car, look like they won't make it through he qualifiers. But do go to their website and check out the videos of the riderless bike!