Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hacked!

Posted by Chris @ 10:49 PM

If you visted my site between 20.20 and 21.30 today, you might have seen the below screen.

hacked

Somehow (I'm awaiting a response from my host) a load of default and index files got placed in every directory of my website, which meant you saw that screen, and not my website. Luckily, it didn't remove any of my files, just showed their message. It happened not only to this site, but also my other site Judgeabookbyitscover.co.uk

To say I'm a little annoyed is an accurate description, however it could have been worse. But just to clarify, I'm not "Murderer to Childs"

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ali and Adi's engagement do

Posted by Chris @ 9:13 PM

On Saturday night we headed off to Wakefield for my sister's engagement do (yep, that's right, she's only bloomin' getting married!)

Anyway, for those of you who haven't heard, her chosen husband to be, my brother in law to be, is Adi. And a thoroughly decent lad he is too. (I shouldn't say lad really, he's older and bigger than me!) By all accounts it was a good night, and for the history books below is a picture of Ali and Adi, congratulations you two!

Ali and Adi

Friday, June 23, 2006

Touché

Posted by Chris @ 2:41 PM

I've got a bee in my bonnet about the word touché. I keep hearing it getting misused, and it really is beginning to annoy me.

For the record, here is a definition of the word touché. Its origins are in the sport of fencing, and is said when your opponent gives you a good "hit". In other words you are praising you opponents skill in the art of fencing. That leads on to the second definition of touché, which means you concede / acknowledge a particularly good point in an argument or discussion.

IT IS NOT AN EASY WAY OF SAYING "BACK AT YOU"

How people have come to use it in this fashion I don't know, but please, stop it! You sound ridiculous if you say it without understanding its meaning. E.g - Me: You are a lazy slob. You: Touché! - With the wrong intonation, you're actually saying, yes I am a lazy slob, rather than throwing it back in their face. Only if the point is a good one, like You: You spend too much time on the computer. Me: Touché - is the use of touché correct, as I would concede I spend too much time on the PC.

So anyway, my point is this, next time you are about to use the word touché, stop, think about it, and only if its meaning will actually be correct in the context, say it.

English class dismissed!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New search!

Posted by Chris @ 8:58 PM

I decided it was time to make finding things on my site a bit more of an experience, so I've done my own wizzy AJAX search page!

Basically, enter a query, then each tab for Google Blog Search, Google Search, MSN Search and Flick Search, will load asynchronously using AJAX techniques. When they've loaded the little icon will disappear. Click around the various tabs to see the results.

Hopefully this fusion of web search technologies means you can use the one that will find the most relevant results.

The Google Blog search and MSN Search make use of search result feeds you can get from their sites, whilst the Google Search and Flickr search make use of their respective APIs. To make the Google Search a REST API rather than a SOAP API (its easier), I'm also using Xoomle, a handy little service someone wrote.

Planned updates include adding a tag search to search my tags, and an option to search the web and not just my site.

Oh, and an intelligent 404 means you can write quick searches like this http://cgriley.com/search/keywords and it will load the search page and perform the search automatically. (Also handy for linking to search results.)

Anyway, as usual comments welcome, I'll make changes where I can be bothered! Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Top of the Pops no more

Posted by Chris @ 8:08 PM

As reported today, Top of the Pops has been axed by the BBC. I feel, as a child of the 80s who grew up with TOTP that I should mourn its passing.

However, I'm not. With this decision, unlike the decision for Grandstand, I agree with the BBC. TOTP no longer fits into how we consume music and music videos. Music is delivered over the Internet, on numerous digital radio stations, and the videos of course are readily shown on music channels for every kind of genre, and on websites. There is no need for TOTP anymore. No wonder so few are watching it, we've already seen the video, heard the song, read the bands blog, seen pictures of them, listened to it live in a webcast. Its simply reached the end of its useful life.

Lets hope however, that the BBC take this opportunity to replace it with something more current. Take a look at how new bands are promoting themselves, the Arctic Monkeys a prime example. An active online community, meant downloads sales propelled them to success. So why not let the BBC encourage this. We've already got the unsigned podcast on the Radio1 website. So why not extend this to all of the BBC's music radio stations. Get new music (and popular classics) airplay, get listeners texting in to vote for the favourites; listen, watch and vote on the website. Based on that the BBC can invite new, unsigned talent onto a TV show to perform live and reach an even bigger audience. Backed up with interactive TV, a website, etc it could be the launch pad for new bands, but crucially, it will be audience driven. Certainly TOTP was that to a degree by featuring chart acts, but they were generally signed artists, part of the pop world already.

I don't know, maybe my idea is also flawed, perhaps the public are already well serviced with new music. But its a thought. All that said, goodbye TOTP. Comments...

Build your own HD LCD Projector

Posted by Chris @ 8:01 PM

This is pretty cool, Lumenlab have a guide to building your own high definition LCD projector, for less that it would cost to buy one. I'm not sure why, but it seems to be awakening the dormant modder within me, I might just have to make this a long term project...

[via boing boing]

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Thank you for Smoking

Posted by Chris @ 4:53 PM

We've just been to see the film Thank you for Smoking. It is a very enjoyable, amusing film, and I recommend it to anyone.

If you want some more info about it, try these...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427944/
http://uk.rottentomatoes.com/m/thank_you_for_smoking/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thank_You_For_Smoking

Oh, by the way, Fathers Day is not the day to go and have a quiet round of pitch and putt!

Sheffield Symphony Orchestra

Posted by Chris @ 4:34 PM

A couple of weeks back at work Liv sent round an email saying she would be playing in a concert, and if anyone fancied it to pop along. Well, yesterday I remembered this email, so we got dressed up, jumped in the car and headed off to St Marks Church in Broomhill.

Liv plays with the Sheffield Symphony Orchestra, an amateur orchestra, though you wouldn't know it to listen to them. For £8 each we were treated to a fantastic performance.

The concert started with Mozart's Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, a great opener. After that we had a stunning performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto no. 3. The soloist, Peter Foggitt, was rumoured to be only 21 but was extremely talented, and the orchestra played their part well. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up in places, a real testament to the quality of the playing.

After the interval they started back with Til Eulenspiegel by Strauss, an enjoyable piece following Til Eulenspiegel's adventures, until he is caught and hanged! It was good, although at the point where the music changes to the "march to the scaffold" theme, I wanted it to last longer. But that's aimed at Strauss, not the SSO! They finished off the evening with a medley of tunes from Girl Crazy by Gershwin. Although a light and somewhat more "jazzy" piece to the rest of the evening, it finished the night on upbeat note, and we left very pleased.

On a side note, BBC Radio 3 were there recording this concert, but I'm not entirely sure what for, or if it will get broadcasted. If anyone in the know knows, let me know!

All in all, the SSO are very accomplished, and I shall be keeping an eye out for future concerts.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Senseo coffee pods

Posted by Chris @ 5:36 PM

Senseo. I think it would be safe to say this is a fairly popular coffee machine in the UK, and for it you can buy specific coffee pod; mild, medium, dark and decaf. Everything was right with the world.

Then I went on holiday to France, and discovered a whole bunch of other, very tasty Senseo coffee pods, and I felt cheated. So what did I do? I did what any consumer would do, I wrote to Senseo, and asked, what the devil's going on? They replied (I'm showing an excerpt).

We are very sorry that you feel that the choices of Senseo pods in the UK are very poor. The Senseo range of blends differs from country to country, and the Senseo brand is growing fast here in the UK. Although some of the blends you may have seen are not yet available here, they may be launched in the future. I am pleased to note below our full UK range for you together with their stockists:

Mild- Asda and Sainsbury stores.
Medium- Co-op, Sainsbury, and Tesco stores.
Dark Roast- Co-op, Sainsbury, and Tesco stores.
Decaffeinated- Co-op, Sainsbury, and Tesco stores.

Senseo City Rio de Janeiro- Vanilla- Tesco
Senseo City Sydney- Vanilla & Lime- Tesco
Senseo Vienna. Vanilla, Chocolate, and Hazelnut- Tesco

Senseo Selection Brazil- Waitrose stores
Senseo Selection Kenya- Tesco stores.
Senseo Selection Sumatra- Tesco and Waitrose stores


Fantastic, so they sell the varieties I'd seen France in the UK, just not down my local supermarket. So next on my contact list, you guessed it, Tesco.

My question was simple enough "could you possibly tell me which Tesco stores sell the extended range of Senseo pods?" The response was unexpected.

Thank you for your email.

We are unable to contact our stores on your behalf as our stock situation is constantly changing and we may inadvertently provide our customers with incorrect information regarding availability. For example, when a customer contacts us regarding product availability, our system may show that stock is available, however, when the customer visits the store, stocks have sold through.

However, if you would reply to this email providing us with your postcode, we will supply you with up to three stores in your area including the phone number so you may call in advance before you travel.


Phone numbers to ring stores, what!?!?! I tried again, hoping for a better response.

I understand you can't give specific stock advice as it might be out of date by the time you contact me. However I was hoping you could just tell me which stores generally stock the wider range of Senseo pods. Surely this is just a matter of seeing which stores have placed orders for the more unusual pods in the past? The actual number of available pods at this point in time isn't important, just knowing that a store generally sells the wider range is.

Failing that my postcode is S73 8** and I'll do some ringing around, but to be honest I thought it would be easier than this to find out!


And their response, finally, was:

Thank you for your email.

Your biggest selection would be at our;

DONCASTER EXTRA
Woodfield Plantation
Balby
South Yorkshire
DN4 8SN
Tel: 0845 6779207


So the conclusion of this long post? You can buy the better Senseo pods in the UK, but its the luck of who answers your email at Tesco as to how quick you find out where!

After all that I think I need a coffee.....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Clues on Google TV?

Posted by Chris @ 10:17 PM

Rumours of a Google TV product have been flying around the web for a while, with the latest pointing towards some kind of huge searchable programme guide, which would then let you stream the content you find to your TV. [via Google Blogoscoped]

Well, some new clues have emerged about a new direction the Google TV offering could take. On the Google Research blog the latest post talks about a paper they presented at the Euro ITV interactive television conference. In it they talk about a system that uses the microphone on your laptop or desktop PC.

The microphone picks up the sound coming from the TV, your laptop processes it and sends a statistical audio fingerprint to the "Google Audio" server. Google identifies the audio, and sends back relevant information about what you are watching. This could be websites, news items etc. It can also link you with people watching the same thing, creating an instant chat community. It would also be able to provide live viewing figures, and of course display ads relevant to what you are watching! All this is independent of any television technology or format, now or in the future - very clever.

Here are some key snippets from the paper.

"..while watching a news segment on Tom Cruise, a fashion layer might provide information on what designer clothes and accessories the presented celebrities are aearing." - A huge meta data surrounding broadcast material will be needed for this?

"Thus, content providers or advertisers might bid for specific television segments. For example, local theaters or DVD rental stores might bid on audio from a movie trailer.." - Adwords for TV then!

"the closed captions provide keywords useful for searching for related material. The search results can be combined with a viewer's personal profile and preferences (ZIP code and 'fashion') in order to display a web-page with content automatically obtained from web-pages or advertisement repositories using the extracted keywords." - An automated Google Local based on what you're seeing?

"Importantly, as the viewer's viewing context changes (by changing channels)...re-sampling the ambient audio...the viewer need never indicate what program is being watched;" - Clever, as you change channels, it updates conversations, information, ads, to what you are watching without any input from the user.

"the popularity ratings are easily derived by simply maintaining counters on each of the shows being monitored." - Realtime audience figures, which leads to..

"advertisers and content providers to dynamically adjust what material is being shown to respond to drops in viewership." - clever, now their data is of value to advertisers.

The last idea they have is bookmarking what you're watching for future reference with a single click, they'll figure out what it was from the audio fingerprint at that time. Then from that they can direct you to view that programme online (using Google Video) at a later stage, if its available online.

The rest of the paper goes into technical details about how they do the audio matching, but it seems they've run experiments on this. So what does this all mean? Well in my opinion I think this could be where Google TV is heading, this is the biggest set of clues they've let out of the bag yet. I'd also think it means it is not going to be released anytime soon.

But what do you think, the paper is openly available, take a read and see what conclusions you can draw from it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Flickr Gamma

Posted by Chris @ 9:19 PM

Heh. Just had it brought to my attention from the BBC Backstage mailing list that Flickr is now in Gamma! Genius. Quite literally.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

YouTube video galley

Posted by Chris @ 1:47 PM

I've noticed recently that my web space was a little near my limit, and after a bit of probing I found out the main culprit was the videos I was hosting for you all to enjoy. So what is the solution? Get them hosted elsewhere, for free!

That is not as hard as it seems, as there are a few video websites out there now where you can upload your videos and share them with the world using cool flash players and streaming, much quicker and easier than downloading a file from my server! The sites I looked at were Google Video, Yahoo! Video and YouTube.

After a bit of deliberation, I decided to go for YouTube, for a couple of reasons. 1. It is used by a lot of like minded bloggers, and if they're using it, it can't be bad. 2. It has an API, which is pretty important if I'm going to try and integrate the videos into my site.

Essentially YouTube is Flickr for videos, so all of the benefits my photo gallery has apply here for videos. You can just view my videos in my YouTube profile, but even better in my new video gallery, making use of their API.

As usual I've waffled on a bit, so just go and try it out and let me know what you think. (Note - I've made the links to individual videos pretty, like the individual photo ones are.)

Their API lacks a couple of features, which I might tell them about, but generally it does the job. The only remaining problem I have is the wedding video, which is in WMV format, and YouTube doesn't support that. As yet I haven't found a free WMV > MPG converter, any suggestions?

Humax 9200T update

Posted by Chris @ 1:16 PM

As you'll know for my birthday Dawn bought me the Humax 9200T, which I reviewed.

Anyway, since then there have been a couple of OTA (over the air) updates, and the latest one has added a couple of new features I thought I'd share here, just in case you were deciding on buying one ;o)

Firstly, chase play. This means that whilst you are recording a programme, you can start to watch it before its finished recording. This is handy; for example say you're out and you've set the PVR to record a programme that starts at 10 and finishes at 11. If you get in at 10.15, you can start to watch recording before the programme has finished. Meaning you can get to bed by 11.15, instead of watching it at 11 when the recording will have finished.

Secondly you can now pad your recording with an additional 1, 2, 3, etc minutes at the start and end. Again this is handy, as the tv channels don't always stick to the exact start and end times they provide in the EPG, and missing the climax of Lost every week could be annoying. So if you felt this was missing and it affected your decision, worry no more!

Hope these two further features make the Humax more attractive to you if you are thinking about buying one, the real beauty of it is these over the air updates, fully automated, which means your box is always updated with cool new features!