Monday, 2 August 2010

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

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apropos of nothing... spotted this outside

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Google Reader - Explore More

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I don't know about you, but I spend quite a bit of time on Google Reader each day trawling through my RSS feeds.

Sometimes it gets too much and I need to purge the 1000+ stories staring at me in my inbox, but more often than not I at least get to skim through what's in there, whether it's in Reader or in Newsrack, Reeder or one of the other iPad/iPhone apps I flit from from time to time.

When I'm using Google Reader itself though, despite having spent ages grouping my feeds into neat little categories such as News, Tech, Sports, Music etc, I tend to get more value out of browsing articles shared by Friends, or by dipping into the great Explore category.

Whilst Explore is populated by suggestions based on articles you've read, starred or shared it never fails to turn up a few surprises... you never know what you're gonna get.

Seriously, if you haven't already tried it. Give it a go.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Eraser USB Stick attempts to raise awareness

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Eraser USB Stick attempts to raise awareness: "

This Eraser USB Stick has a quirky design, but a serious message.  It was made to help people to remember how hard it is for those going through Alzheimer’s, while also reminding you of the importance of your own precious memories.  With such a serious message, it might be enough to remind you to back up those picture files you’ve been meaning to deal with.

This is a design that was created in New Zealand for those that live in New Zealand.  These were sent off to local politicians and organizations along with a letter to help raise awareness of their Alzheimer’s charity.   Thus far these seem to have worked pretty well and have gotten a positive response in that part of the world.  It’s a great creative idea and it’s even better that they’re doing it for a good cause.  There’s no word if there’s somewhere to purchase these online so far.

Source: Gizmodiva

Cool Gift Idea: Digital Picture Frames, check out our reviews.
[ Eraser USB Stick attempts to raise awareness copyright by Coolest Gadgets ]

Related Posts:


Thanks to Coolest Gadgets

Interesting stuff from Boing Boing

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Can you audit the software that goes in your body?

Can you audit the software that goes in your body?: "The Software Freedom Law Center's latest white-paper, 'Killed by Code: Software Transparency in Implantable Medical Devices,' examines the strange circumstances around pacemakers and other implanted medical devices. Regulators like the FDA inspect the hardware designs for these devices in great detail, but the crucial software that runs the devices is a closed book -- a proprietary secret that's only ever called in for examination when the devices start to crash, with disastrous circumstances.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States' ruling in Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc. made people with IMDs even more vulnerable to negligence on the part of device manufacturers.4 Following a wave of high-profile recalls of defective IMDs in 2005, the Court's decision prohibited patients harmed by defects in FDA-approved devices from seeking damages against manufacturers in state court and eliminated the only consumer safeguard protecting patients from potentially fatal IMD malfunctions: product liability lawsuits. Prevented from recovering compensation from IMD-manufacturers for injuries, lost wages, or health expenses in the wake of device failures, people with chronic medical conditions are now faced with a stark choice: trust manufacturers entirely or risk their lives by opting against life-saving treatment.

We at the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) propose an unexplored solution to the software liability issues that are increasingly pressing as the population of IMD-users grows--requiring medical device manufacturers to make IMD source-code publicly auditable. As a non-profit legal services organization for Free and Open Source (FOSS) software developers, part of the SFLC's mission is to promote the use of open, auditable source code5 in all computerized technology. This paper demonstrates why increased transparency in the field of medical device software is in the public's interest. It unifies various research into the privacy and security risks of medical device software and the benefits of published systems over closed, proprietary alternatives. Our intention is to demonstrate that auditable medical device software would mitigate the privacy and security risks in IMDs by reducing the occurrence of source code bugs and the potential for malicious device hacking in the long-term. Although there is no way to eliminate software vulnerabilities entirely, this paper demonstrates that free and open source medical device software would improve the safety of patients with IMDs, increase the accountability of device manufacturers, and address some of the legal and regulatory constraints of the current regime.

Killed by Code: Software Transparency in Implantable Medical Devices

(via /.)

(Image: Medtronic EnRhythm Pacing System, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from winton's photostream)


Cory Doctorow cc

Monday, 31 May 2010

More iPadgeantry

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I have to say that, having used an iPad for a couple of days now, I'm finding it hard to remember what I did before. I know all this "hype" is getting irksome for those who haven't got or simply don't want an iPad but I'm afraid it's only a matter of time before the user-experience delivered by Apple in the shape of the iPad will transform their lives.

I'm not suggesting that everyone will buy an iPad, but in exactly the same way that most of the game-changing innovations introduced by Apple with the launch of the iPhone have now become familiar 'hygiene factors' on many mobile phones and all smartphones, regardless of operating system or hardware, much the same will happen with the iPad, as its features appear on other tablet/slate products.

Before using it I was uncertain whether or not it would kill the netbook. Now I've never been more certain that it will. Yes I know that I wrote a post for The Next Web yesterday pointing out a few of its (very minor) early failings but those small gripes will be overcome in no time.

What is incredible is the fact that the device is always on. There's no booting up. You are only every seconds away from an immersive online experience and that's before you get into the rapidly growing range of diverse apps.

I know that netbooks and laptops don't take that long to fire up... but those few minutes feel like a few years compared to starting an iPad. There'll always be a time when you need the extra oomph of a MacBook or a PC, but it's amazing how much stuff can already be achieved very quickly and very effectively on the iPad.

It is really really good.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


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Attending Manchester's FutureEverything Festival is becoming a habit. This years's event is just coming to an end and again I was along for the ride.

Sadly, I only got to the Conference and not any of the Art or Music events... I'm particularly gutted to have missed Plaid at Victoria Baths. So, for my highlight I must choose from the list of diverse speakers who came to Manchester (as well as cities around the world hooked up by the GloNet experiment).

For me, session which captured the essence of FutureEverything and its heady mix of art, culture and technology was delivered by Shawn Micallef from Toronto. His session told about the Murmers project which has been running for several years in several city suburbs across North America.

Signs posted at key locations around the city invite passers-by to dial a number and share their stories and memories of that specific place. Visitors to that spot can then dial in to the service to listen to all recorded anecdotes associated with that location.

The project was established several years ago and predicted a future of geo-location enabled social media which be are familiarising ourselves with today. It reminded me a little of AudioBoo which captures audio snippets from smartphone owners around the world, making them immediately available to global listeners and forever tagging each sound file with the location where it was recorded.

I'd love to see a collaboration between the two projects.
Reflection of the Printworks, Manchester BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Monday, 10 May 2010

How Green Is My Google?

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Great infographic from Intac:

The iPod Revolution

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Great infographic from Mashable:

The iPod Revolution
[Source: Online MBA for]

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Some tips on the use of social media by artists and musicians

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I recently gave a guest-lecture at Liverpool's Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA) for a bunch of under-graduates who'd recently returned from assignments working in and around the music industry.

One of the students followed up with some further questions to contribute to her work on her dissertation. Here are my responses. I don't doubt that she asked many others... I'd be very interested in their responses too.

What are your opinions on management using social networks to promote an artist?

I think that management using social networks to promote an artist is unavoidable at the moment for a variety of reasons. The artists themselves might genuinely be too busy, may be unfamiliar with social media etiquette or amy be something of a liablility... who knows what they're going to say next!?!

Do you think that on sites such as Twitter that artists should ‘tweet’ and blog themselves or should their PR take control?

The question is, is the management pretending to tweet as the artist, or is the Twitterfeed, Facebook page clearly seen as a place to go to for updates on the artist?

Management pretending to tweet as the artist might have some short-term advantages... it ensures that the artists doesn't say anything too controversial, tweets are aligned with any overall marketing, social media campaign, etc etc. In the long run though, social media users can be a pretty savvy bunch and will rumble a false popstar, which could dimish credibility and at worst result in a backlash.

My view would be that it's better for the artist to do it themselves if they can, provided they are aware of how it works and the security risks around location-based services etc.

Good advice for artists when chatting with fans is, yes do reply to messages, but no more than once or twice in any conversation to any unknown fan.
Remember, for a fan any response from an artist is exciting... a common reaction is for that fan to think they're your best mate and try to start an extended conversation. Limit the engagement. @jason_manford does this very very well - he asks questions of his followers, answers them and recognises and respects their humour, but limits any one conversation to a few tweets. It doesn't mean, he won't ever reply to an individual again - I'm sure he doesn't maintain a list of everyone he's spoken to, it just means you're not going to monopolise his time all day.

Do you agree that social networks should be used for direct marketing, if so, what are your opinions on people regarding this marketing as a form of Spam?

Yes they should, provided that users can turn it off or unfollow to avoid being spammed. Users may follow a news-source for frequent updates on a product... that's their choice. However, being spammed is bad news. I think using Twitter for Direct Marketing is like trying to squeeze an old world business model into the new social world... as a result it is something of a blunt instrument at the moment. Businesses will eventually learn how to use it more effectively, by listening to, reacting to and collaborating with customers.

What do you consider the dangers of using social media to promote an artist?

The artist's privacy and security can be threatened via careless use of location based services, giving too much information, etc. Can promote stalkers. Artists can also get in trouble with the law by defaming others with careless talk. That said, with some basic training and common sense, the benefits of getting closer to users can add real value to the artist over time.

What measures do you/would you put in place to combat these dangers?

Social media training for artists that need it from social media experts not run-of-the-mill outbound PR types. Proxy tweeting from social media experts as part of an initial coaching/mentoring programme... to be transitioned to the artist asap. Management access to the artists passwords at all times! Everyone can make mistakes... sometimes action must be taken in minutes.

Are there any circumstances in which you would not use social media to connect with fans to market directly?

In such a rapidly evolving environment, I think it's unwise to say never. However, right now I think artists, labels and brands need to take advice around any campaigns which might compromise anyone's privacy or safety, whether that be the artist or the customer. Data security needs to be a big consideration in any social media 'transaction'.

Here's an AudioBoo of the same: