Chewing up tech since 1985

Can some one give the evening standard a fact checker please…

So sitting on the train this evening reading my copy of the Evening Standard (West End Final edition) and spotted a rather amazing bit of journalism. Which has led me on a fun little voyage of discovering many short comings of the ES. What is this story that made my ears perk up, my nose twitch and my hunt begin? Well it’s the story on the Met’s new knife crime you tube video. The piece entitled “Yard’s interactive YouTube film warns of knife culture dangers” on page 19.

This story caught my eye for several reasons firstly I love digital technology, so Scotland Yard using something like you tube in a clever new way is my kind of story. It also caught my eye because it sounds surprisingly a campaign I was shown on You Tube back in 2009, mainly because it’s the same campaign. Don’t get me wrong this is a brilliant bit of interactive video work, as well as a really cheap and high impact way of communicating the message. However I was slightly annoyed that the ES was recycling this story as being “New”, that smacks of poor journalism.

A little more digging indeed confirms that You Tube’s displayed upload date does not lie, the net has been a murmuring about this campaign for quite a while. It also uncovered the Met’s “Campaigns” website which lists today’s date as the launch date of the campaign. This isn’t really a problem to me other then the fact that at no point does the Met and subsequent journalists mention that this is re-launch of an existing campaign. It doesn’t seem entirely honest to say we’re launching a new campaign against knife crime, when in fact I think it would be much more well received to state the figure accurately: “We’re re-launching a highly successful campaign, that since it was first uploaded generated well over 3 million views. This new campaign will aim to get better value for money by re-focusing attention on a campaign that has been so successful that it now forms the first case study in COI (central office of information) guidance TG129… etc”

The campaign is brilliant and was especially innovative when it first launched, and well worth a look. It doesn’t matter whether it’s new or old, but I feel that it would have been nice if they’d been honest about it, because if anything the stats are a great indicator of how successful the campaign has been and that if you haven’t had a look you probably want to. I think on the Met’s part it’s just a shame they aren’t trumpeting their previous success, but from the journalists you’d expect better really. You might say well how are they to know about a campaign launched two years ago? Well even if you refresh all the stats on a youtube page the upload date never changes… and it’s there right under the video they (hopefully) watched. Furthermore if you go on to the ES’s website version of the story there’s no link to the video at all… Erm… is that really acceptable any more?

Here are the resources all in one nice little stak for you:

Met’s Campaign announcement
Evening Standard’s Story (Website edition)
A blog about this written in January this year
COI Guidance TG129
And finally:
The link to the campaign

Addicted to Masterchef

I’ve been watching lots of Masterchef on the I-player this week. It’s food porn, with competition and great cookery information all in a reality TV format. This season is called “The Professionals”, and if you aren’t watching it it’s well worth shedding an eye over it.

As well as all the other great bits my particular favorite bits are the amazing facial expressions that Gregg Wallace, Michel Roux Jr, and Monica Galetti pull as they watch all the chefs working are hilarious. I still haven’t worked out why when ever Michel Roux Jr is either speaking to the chefs or plating up a dish they play really sinister music. Also the executive chef in charge of meals at the NHS was booted of in the first round… No surprise if you’ve ever had to eat hospital food.

The disconnected home

You might not know this but I’m a bit of a Technology freak, I collect a lot of gadgets, have a lot of computers and consoles. So I should be the poster boy for the connected home. So do I walk into my flat flick a button and my technology whirls into action to make my life easier? In short no.

Here’s the problem, although I love all my technology, and it does on the whole work well, it takes a lot of work to make it all work with any sort of harmony.
As an example I take a ton of pictures. I shoot in RAW format so before I do anything else I have to load up software to convert and tweak my pictures. Once that’s done though I want to look at them and show them to my friends and family on the larger screen of my TV. Here’s the problem though the best machine for editing is my powerful gaming rig, not the machine attached to the TV. Even then without installing more software the slide show isn’t as sleek as the one on offer by the consoles… No matter what route you go down though trying to show only the pictures from a set folder is difficult on all platforms, and impossible on others. So you end up sharing most folders on most machines across the network, creating security weaknesses as you go, and then madly trying to real in the platform to displaying just the most recent pictures from a trip to France… rather then the screen shots you took while playing BF3, or perhaps that folder of pictures that no one is supposed to find, etc.

I keep hearing people talking about the connected home, a magical place where technology is simple… but on the whole we seem to have moved away from being standards based. Every platform, program, and device creates a different type of file, will only read some types of files (mainly their own), so it is little wonder that things seem to get tricky. I have no doubt, that if I were to start again from the ground up and only buy one brand say Sony that I would get much closer to the dream much faster. People don’t buy technology the way they buy a kitchen though, they collect it and love it, wanting to keep using the brilliant gadgets well beyond their shelf life, rather then purchasing all of the technology they will use for the next five to ten years at once.
I guess what I’d like to see is a return to standards, where after a year or so of competition between to rival formats one is deemed more successful and people build all of their products around that. Rather then companies trying to lock consumers to their brand by making it difficult for users to get their Tech to play nice together.

My home isn’t the connected home… that dream is still a long way off.