Monthly Archives: September 2003

Good books

Some really good books from O’Reilly have arrived lately. The Hacks series is going to some really interesting places, taking in Google, Amazon, TiVo and now eBay (I reviewed the Google book in The Guardian a few months ago). David Pogue’s Missing Manuals series is also getting more and more useful. Standing permanently next to the Near Legendary Kitchen Cube (it’s a Cube and we keep it in the kitchen) are the latest on iMovie, iDVD and iPhoto plus the essential iPod text and two little handbooks ? one on Digital Video and one on Google.

Say it loud: ‘No. I do not have a Nectar Card’

So, thanks to Robin and his idle mates, I now have a big enough Nectar logo and I’ve set up my Cafe Press shop so you can actually buy a “No. I do not have a Nectar Card” t-shirt. So, the next time you’re asked “Do you have a Nectar Card?”, you don’t need to say anything ? just point insolently at your chest (and, for the time being, profits will still go to UNHCR, unless you’ve got a better idea). Update. I’ve actually sold a few of these. Remarkable. It’s not just Michael Moore who hates Nectar Cards.

Say it loud

Last time I went to the little Sainsbury’s round the corner I told the kid on the till that I was going to make a t-shirt saying “No. I do not have a Nectar card.” The woman at the next till told me she’d got a card “just to shut them up” but “Here’s the thing… They still ask.” So, here’s a first run at a graphic for my “No. I do not have a Nectar card” t-shirt. It’s not big enough ? I need a bigger Nectar logo. And I’m going to add it to my CafePress shop so you can actually buy one ? but I can’t figure out how to do that right now…

Hallmark to bid for ITV?

It says here, in a pretty good scoop for Andrew Neil’s The Business (they don’t seem to have a web site, though), that David Elstein ? top broadcasting wit, former Chief Exec at Channel 5 and general scourge of wooly, public service nostalgia ? has secured the backing of the Hallmark Corporation (yes, that Hallmark) for a speculative bid for the soon-to-be-merged ITV.

I can’t help thinking this is probably a good thing. Hallmark may be weird, ‘family-oriented’ and about as American as Apple Pie but it’s also an extraordinarily well-run company, a big investor in original content and one of the few big firms with the free cash to fund a frankly risky deal like this.

If it turns out to be a kite flying exercise or it just falls apart I think it’ll be a pity ? Elstein is inventive and aggressive and with some American money he could really shake up mainstream UK TV.

The Guardian picked up the story this morning.

A day at the races

Drag racing is unbelievably noisy, toxic (“Remember, ladies and gentlemen, cover your children’s eyes as we spray the track…”), decidedly unsophisticated and about the least green pursuit I’ve ever witnessed (methanol? nitro-methane?). It’s also friendly, democratic, accessible, cheap and… unbelievably noisy (wrote a bit more about this last time we went). Last weekend was the climax of the European season at Santa Pod.

I took Olly and we sat in the dust eating our sandwiches with the fanatics. The strangest mix of people you’ve ever seen fills the spectator areas ? old school bikers, lots of skaters (why?), plenty of suburban males with their jeans nicely ironed, motor sport junkies with binoculars and notebooks, sun tanned drag fanatics who follow the European tour… My addiction worsens. (click the small pics for bigger ones ? more pics here)

Wi-fi obstacles

A bit of fairly well aimed Wi-fi cynicism from Richard Wray in The Guardian. Wray’s principle objections are: the total lack of roaming and a potential boom in laptop theft. I’m certain that Wray is on the money as far as roaming is concerned. Without (almost) universal roaming (use your Wi-fi-equipped device in any hotspot, not just your provider’s) Wireless Access is going nowhere.

Sat down today in Starbucks in Tottenham Court Road (a branch without Wi-fi service) and found myself, for the first time, within reach of three Wi-fi networks ? two of them apparently public. Wound up connecting to the neighbouring Caffe Nero’s Surf And Sip network ? ?5 for a day’s access ? much cheaper than Starbucks’ own service (from TMobile). That’s the kind of network density we’re going to need if this is going to become a real and popular phenomenon.