Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Last.fm and BBC Radio

Posted by Chris @ 9:34 PM

A few weeks ago I blogged about last.fm, a social music service that is pretty cool. Anyway, at the time I said to a few people it would be cool if you could tell last.fm when you'd been listening to a radio station (between two times for example) and have your profile updated as listening to the songs played during that time. Well, that's not quite what I've discovered, but it is still pretty cool!

It turns out that Matt Biddulph, who I admire for his great ideas involving mashups, meta data and the like, who used to work for the BBC, had access to feeds from the BBC's new hard drive radio playlist technology. From this he knocked together a service to ping last.fm when a song was played. (He explains it better!)

What this essentially means is that there is a user profile on last.fm detailing the top songs, most recent tracks etc played by that radio station, and more importantly opens up neighbour radio for these profiles - so you can listen to the music similar to that played on that radio station randomly without DJs or breaks. Matt first did this for BBC 6 Music, but as doctorvee pointed out, he's created user accounts for Radio1, Radio2 and 1Xtra too.

So what does this all mean? Great music without much dross (hopefully), from stations to suit almost everyone, played randomly with no annoying DJs or breaks! Magnificent, and of course there are still the fantastic range of other artists radio and tag radio if you get bored of the BBC's neighbour offerings.

If you don't get the significance, or any part, of this blog post then do ask questions and I'll do my best to answer, I have a tendency to ramble and not make a very good point! Happy listening!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

BBC video archives online for Humber and Lincolnshire

Posted by Chris @ 8:42 PM

The BBC have put some of their film archives (mainly news stories) online on their Humber and Lincolnshire websites. Check it out, you might find some treasures.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/calc/wil_humber/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/calc/wil_lincolnshire/

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Big Brother on TV

Posted by Chris @ 9:03 PM

With the latest round of Big Brother it could be quite easy to miss one of the many shows that are on daily. So to ensure you never miss a second, I've created a handy new feature for my site, Big Brother on TV.

Simply click on the link in the top nav labeled "Big Brother on TV", and a little screen will popup on the page you are on and tell you when Big Brother related programmes are on TV, today and tomorrow. It is designed to be as quick and easy as possible to access on my site.

In the background I've updated my script that gets TV data for my online TV guide from bleb.org/tv to now filter any programmes on Channel 4 and E4 with Big Brother in the title into a database, which I then pull out using a special page, which is loaded into the hidden div on demand via AJAX when you click on the link. Simple!

I hope it is of use, and who knows, I may extend it to some other programmes I and my readers regularly watch. It can break now and again if the data isn't up to scratch, which I have raised with bleb.org, but other than that all other comments welcome! Enjoy!

Friday, May 19, 2006

BBC Good Food and Homes exhibition

Posted by Chris @ 8:03 PM

Today we've been down to the NEC in Birmingham to visit the BBC Good Food and Homes exhibition.

Its been a very good day, with the highlight being a live kitchen demonstration by Gordon Ramsay and a wine tasting session in the afternoon. We also saw Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (pic).

Gordon's bit was very good, entertaining, and as we managed to bag front row seats we could smell it all, and got some pics! The wine tasting was equally good fun, with two wines and two sherries to taste. It only served to reconfirm our dislike for sherry, but the white wine we tasted was exceptional - Dourthe No 1 Sauvignon Blanc 2005

The rest of the show was filled with wandering around hundreds of stalls. In all we bought some ginger cheese from the Snowdonia Cheese Company, a proper Melton Mowbray pork pie from Dickinson and Morris, and a pricy, but very useful pan from RUN Cookware.

Along the way we saw some funky radiators, clocks, aquariums, water features, and quite a few show rooms. Finally on the way out we caught Andrew Winter giving a talk on buying and selling houses. All in all a very enjoyable, busy day. Recommended!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

BB7 - First reactions to the housemates

Posted by Chris @ 10:19 PM

Well, I've just watched the housemates enter the house, here's my fist impressions of them.

Bonnie (20), oh dear, annoying voice and catchphrases, but growing on me already.
Pete (24), off his rocker, gonna be fun, the one with tourettes.
George (19), posh boy, could cause friction.
Shabaz (37), like him, funny, quirky.
Lea (35), troubled.
Imogen (23), the Welsh Saskia? The natural beauty of the house.
Mikey (25), male chauvinist, going to either push or pull the women's vote.
Dawn (38), going to be a loner?
Glynn (18), loves himself, erm? Not much more to add.
Richard (33), Overtly gay, and is going to annoy and entertain me at the same time.
Grace (20), posh girl, the much needed party element?
Lisa (27), mad Manc Chinese, crazy ladette, could be fun!
Sezer (26), geezer.
Nikki (24) wannabe princess, been put in there to kick off the sex, nudity, love stories for the producers. Thinks she is special!

Lets see how my opinions change as the weeks roll by...

Big Brother 7

Posted by Chris @ 7:26 PM

Yeah!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Illegal Immigrants

Posted by Chris @ 9:04 AM

Am I missing something? This might be me blogging before thinking again, but seriously, how is this news.

The BBC are reporting that "Reid 'has no idea' on immigrants". No shit Sherlock, the clue is in their bleedin' title; illegal immigrants! It's not like they stop off at customs with a nominated leader and inform them politely that there are 25 in their group, and that they are coming here illegally, please add us to your tally!

I mean, come on, how is anyone going to know the number of illegal immigrants in the UK, really? John Reid even makes that point in the interview they are quoting from, shame the headline doesn't read "Reid knows we can't count illegal immigrants as they're illegal, but we don't because we're muppets."

What a load of drivel!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Golf update

Posted by Chris @ 7:25 PM

Harder than it looks, but more fun than it looks. Probably the sport the phrase "Don't knock it until you've tried it " was created for.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sparklines - see my post frequency

Posted by Chris @ 5:06 PM

The latest cool weby thing I've seen are sparklines. Developed by Edward Tufte they are a way of producing small graphs that can be easily inserted into text and web pages. I first saw it on the BBC Programme Catalogue (that graph thing on the right) and thought, that's cool.

After researching it a bit, it turns out there are a couple of websites that allow you to create sparklines with their web service (nothing more than a fancy image link). The most linked to one is on BitWorking and whilst perfectly usable, I wanted a .Net solution, so I followed the links to ewbi.develops. This is exactly what I was after, and the 2.3 version includes a scaling parameter which is mighty handy.

Anyway to cut what could be a rather long blog post short, I've downloaded the source, put it on my website (to avoid cross site calls where I can) and have implemented a sparkline on my archive page. It basically shows the number of posts per month for each month I've been posting. Nice and easy.

The only changes I've made are to the colour of the line to make it match my site. If you want to use my implementation of the sparkline generator then feel free, the url is http://cgriley.com/sparklines/sparkline.ashx. For documentation on the parameters to pass see the ewbi.develops site - I'll try and keep it up to date with that version so the documentation there should always apply to mine. Think of mine as merely a proxy version to avoid http requests to a strangers website!

In the not to far future I hope to write my own extended service on top of this one, which will graph the post frequency for any feed provided to it. Not sure what anyone will use if for, but it is always useful for these web services to exist in my opinion.

Now go, make some sparkline goodness in the world...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Big Brother 7 is coming

Posted by Chris @ 9:04 PM

For those eagle eyed readers of my blog you will have noticed a new edition to my blog roll, the Digital Spy Big Brother news feed. Because yes it is that time of year again, Big Brother is back on our screens on the 18th May. And don't come the "I'm not watching it this year" with me, because I know that you will all get sucked into it, like you do every year.

You are weak, you love it, accept it, embrace it and let the madness begin!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cats

Posted by Chris @ 5:12 PM

As Tony mentioned I thought about blogging an in-depth review of Cats, but was stopped by my mum's voice in my head saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." So I won't. (Dawn might have something nice to say though.)

What I will say is that the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield is a great little theatre, and one I shall try and make more of an effort to visit, along with the Crucible. However I feel it ought to show better things than This is Elvis and The Blues Brothers Party. Is that really the best they can do! I fear not, but it just means you have to look a little harder at their schedule to pick out the theatrical gems.

Hot days

Posted by Chris @ 1:33 PM

Today is a hot day in the relative temperatures of late.

They are good as the good looking women (including my good wife) suddenly appear on the streets of Sheffield, as they do every hot day of the year.

The downside is that some people don't prepare for the hot weather, and you have to suffer walking past people who stink of BO because they forgot to put antiperspirant on.

Flowers

Posted by Chris @ 1:32 PM

Sheffield railway station have recently put up some colourful hanging baskets on the main platforms (2-5). It is amazing how such a simple addition of a dozen hanging baskets can help lift the somewhat functional design of the station to an altogether more inviting and mood lifting experience. There should be more flowers in our public buildings to try and help lift the mood of everyone who uses them. And The Lord said "Make it so...."

Monday, May 01, 2006

The tags are back!

Posted by Chris @ 9:09 PM

For too long I've left my tagging script in a disheveled heap in the virtual corner of my website, collecting dust and being ignored.

But now I've picked it up, dusted it down, oiled it's insides (with some thanks to Ant for pointing out the obvious human bug in my code!) and it is now working once again!

I've even gone so far as to improve it by being able to exclude tags! So hopefully the tags selected by Yahoo, once screened by me, will be more relevant. I think you can see the a difference in the tag cloud already. Enjoy!