Archive for March, 2008

links for 2008-03-31

Monday, March 31st, 2008
  • To a really good afternoon hosted by the UK Podcasters Association. Very grateful to have been invited by the inestimable Dean Whitbread. These are my rough (and doubtless wrong) notes;
    (tags: ukpa org music podcasting rights notes)
  • It’s rarer for a minister to do so - which is why Ivan Lewis’s piece in Progress (picked up in today’s News of the World) is worth reading. Here’s my decoder:
    (tags: spectator mp labour decode health politics)
  • Here, however, are a few of my personal rules of thumb, offered to help you (and to help anyone running a restaurant or cafe) as you choose your next place for a meal or a coffee.
    (tags: shanno clark tips guides cafes restaurants food sf)

Quote Of The Weekend

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

“…how come everyone I know, knows Ewan?”

links for 2008-03-29

Saturday, March 29th, 2008
  • A company spokesman said: “Something must have set him off yesterday afternoon. I called him at around 4pm and he could hardly speak. At one point I think I heard him say he’d pissed himself.
    (tags: richardbranson virgin ba britishairways heathrow terminal5 baa)
  • I rolled into a left turn, looked all around from that huge greenhouse, and every hair on my arms stood straight up. I got all choked up as I thought, “My God, Mrs. Deakin’s little boy Johnny is flying a B-29, and this is no dream!”
    (tags: b29 flight aviationcolumn)

What I Thought of my March Conferences and Events (Part One)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology 2008
A definite change of gears from Tim O’Reilly’s flagship conference - in previous years Etech has felt very much like a number of cliques who have moved down for an Easter holiday from San Francisco. Not this year, although lots of Bay Area people were around the atmosphere was much better, there was more mixing, and the session actually felt worthwhile, new and interesting. Of all the panel session over the March trip, the Etech panels were the most worthwhile, and were what I expect from every conference panel committee.

Microsoft is on the move, but to where?
Ray Ozzie’s keynote at Mix08 definitely signaled a change in direction of Microsoft, the question (that I ask in more depth here) is where they will end up pointing. What is clear is they are on the path to change, and as Steve Ballmer points, there’s a lot of teenagers out there that know Microsoft as the guys behind Halo and the XBox, who don’t care about what they did in the eighties and nineties - that could give them an interestingly clean slate in the minds of a key demographic.

The Computer Outlook Radio Talk Show, with John Iasiuolo
One of the highlights of Las Vegas was popping up to the studios of the Computer Outlook Radio Talk Show. I met the team at San Jose many years ago at a Palm Developers Conference, and have kept watch on the show since then - first with streaming, and then with the daily podcast of the full show (but only when it was an ‘interesting’ episode you understand! I even made a number of transatlantic calls into the show. BUt to get into the studio was great fun, and the feedback shows the audience liked the change of gears as well. And if you missed it, here’s my appearance in all it’s glory.

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Right Click to Download MP3 - Link to Computer Outlook Podcast Feed

And I’ll take a look at all the Austin based events in another post!

Barcamp Scotland 2008 - A Podcast Recap

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

A few things got backed up in my ‘to do’ queue with both the trip to the US, and some server / database problems over at The Podcast Network - so here, slightly later than expected, is the Tech Conference Show’s podcast report from Barcamp Scotland.

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Barcamp Scotland 2008 - (MP3 31.7 mb, 34 minutes 37 second)
Direct Link to MP3 or press play…

February saw the second Barcamp Scotland to be held, and I was there to find out all the new sites, tools, services and tech that was on offer in Scotland’s capital. Here are some of the highlights…

  • Paul Farnell (Litmus App,
  • Dave Murray-Rust (Mutli Touch Table)
  • Bonamy Grimes (SkyScanner,
  • Hugh Hancock (Strange Company,
  • Ed Molyneux (Free Agent Central,

My Top Things To Take Away From March

Monday, March 24th, 2008

So I’m now back in Edinburgh, after the crazy four weeks of travel (incidentally, if you call the US mobile number I’ve been giving out, it will no longer reach me, I believe it is back in the hands of the AT&T press relations department), and while I’ll talk about the events and suchlike later this week (subscribe to the RSS feed so you don’t miss those musings), I wanted to start with the more emotional side of things and some of the things that happened to me and my psyche on the trip…

I Really Hate The Las Vegas Strip.

I know a lot of people describe Vegas, or more specifically The Strip, with all the Casinos and entertainment, as Disneyland for Adults, but there’s something hollow about the place. Just a few yards off the road and it’s a non-descript, concrete jungle, a facade of lights and shapes, and every single one of them paid for by people who thought they could beat mathematics and win big. The sheer volume of cash that just feels thrown away is immense.

On a previous trip to Vegas I watched [a prominent blogger] play five $100 hands of Blackjack, loosing all five in about two minutes. Which is enough ‘daily expenses’ money for me to keep myself going on a ten day trip when bouncing around the US. The waste, greed, and extravagance just leaves me unhappy.

I found something inside me in Austin.
I’ve already written about my experience at Barcamp Austin 3 and Fray Cafe, but it still is one of the biggest take-aways from March. Fray was also one of the very few times when I’ve been in public that the ‘web persona’ called Ewan has slipped, and the real me has shown through.

It Comes Down To Wanting to Hug Your Friends.
While we have our social networks, our Twitterati, blogs, pingbacks, tacks, emails, IM’s, etc, etc, etc, the real value of conferencing and making sure I meet as many people as possible while traveling is you can hug them. Or in more general terms, it’s about the need for real face to face contact.

I made a specific point on this trip to get to the Computer Outlook studio and hang out with John Iasiuolo and the team in Las Vegas (see there are some good things in that city!). I first met John at a Palm Developers conference some three years ago. While the online chats and skype to radio hooks ups worked sometimes, actually getting face time was worth x100 on the electronic version.

And there are all the new people to talk to from the events (especially SXSW), some with business ideas, some with products to sell, some that are going to be the most valuable resource in the world. Friends. You all know who you are!

We’re Not Talking Outside the Web 2.0 Bubble Enough
Here are some sessions at SXSW you might have missed… Selling Music As A Service, Resolving Webcasting Fees, The Blog Factor, Enhancing Digital Retail, Is Fair Use Fair?, Pimp My Website, Press and Bloggers …any of those sound interesting or relevant to you? Wondering why you missed them? Because they were part of SXSW Music and SXSW Film. After you all left the industries making megabucks were talking about real world impact and legislative change that could scar or enhance web 2.0 services as we know. While we all spent days talking on the Lacy/Zuckerberg car crash, we lost the chance to talk to people outside of our circle, who could make massive use of what we do.

Next year, don’t fly home on the Wednesday if you’re at SXSW for more than the parties.

(as a side note, this looking outside the Valley is one reason I think this year’s Emerging Technology was so fresh and exciting than previous years…)

Keep Being Impulsive
Pretty simple this one, take a few moments to weigh up all the options and arguments, make the decision, and then implement it 100%. I regard that as the key to anything - there are those who say that I’m impulsive but I do weigh up decisions as much as I can, but in a short space of time. Life is to short to agonise over decisions, if you do there’s every chance the moment will have passed (or someone will have flown home). And if in doubt… stay positive and just do it.

I need a BIG wide-screen monitor at home.
Going to blame Mike Rowhel and Kevin Rochowski for this one, because the Apple TV and HD screen at Kevin’s pad, and the two days crashing at Mike’s place, both saw me do my GTD catchup work and writing via a 21″ TFT at 1920×1200 and 42″ HD monitor respectivly. Have it, like it, need it, want it, now. Anyone got a lead on UK surplus stock I can pick up?

I can do video well, but I love audio
While this year the daily video show I put together with the help of Seesmic (a big thank you to them btw) was only on a smartphone video camera, I think it’s fair to say that no matter what device is capturing the video file, I can edit together video, tell a story, and package it up on a daily basis while on the road. But online video is not really suited to where I think my current strength is, namely the longer interview format (ie the 10-20 minutes of edited one on one interview ). The other thing that was different in this format is that the story of the show is much more focussed on the host, rather than the people you are talking with - while I’ve been told previously to make sure that there was ‘enough of Ewan’ in my audio podcast interviews, focusing the story 100% on me in the video series was one of the big differences of focus that I noticed, and that took a while to bed in. I still think The Race For Breakfast was the best episode…

I like traveling, but I like coming home as well.
Pretty obvious this one. You can;t spend 4 weeks on the road without (a) not enjoying it, and (b) not getting a lot of value out of it. Truth be told the profile raising, business cards, and one to one meetings that I can now follow up from SXSW and the rest of the March events will keep me going for a good six months to a year. But at the same time, hotel suites, futons, spare rooms and 17,000 miles in the air is not how to put your roots down or maintain them. I’ve spread my wings, now it’s time to extend the glide, make it home, and make it all worthwhile.

Happy (Belated) Birthday War

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Mitch Benn sums it up far better than anyone else…

Happy Birthday War by Mitch Benn

links for 2008-03-23

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008
  • The first legal agreement that they enter into as artists will occur when they click to accept the terms and conditions of the site that will host their music…we need to establish the principle of artists’ rights throughout the Internet.
    (tags: billybrag music copyright bebo socialnetwork myspace unsigned tnc)

Just Make Sure You Use “The Chain”

Thursday, March 20th, 2008


BBC TV secure a five year TV deal to carry Formula 1 from next year. Yes there are a lot of questions in my mind, such as will any of the ITV team make the jump as well, will anyone (ahem…) be left behind. But theres only one thing to demand…

Will they use “The Chain” as the theme tune?

BTW I love Off The Telly’s take on this…

My first thought on hearing the news this morning was that Richard Hammond should get the gig. For one thing, Bernie Ecclestone would surely approve of someone even shorter than him doing the job.I’d also like to see James May doing the grid walk (“Kimi, a word? Oh cock”) but that’s possibly less likely.

links for 2008-03-20

Thursday, March 20th, 2008
  • An early push can take a post and make it a headline on TechMeme, which leads to page views and notice by sponsors. But since blogging is almost by definition a conversation between bloggers, fights tend to break out over emotional issues. Cliques develop
    (tags: tc arrington blog blogosphere vc)
  • So you’ve got the best picture or video in the world on your smartphone. Now what? How about letting Shozu move it from your handset to pretty much any web service in the world? Ewan looks at the latest version after spending two weeks on the road with it
    (tags: aas symbian shozu nokia media blogging)
  • “I know that you’re having problems with your mortgage. As of this afternoon your mortgage has been paid off.” Cowell told Oprah he had only just realised how good it was to give, and added: “It’s taken me 48 years. I credit you with this.”
    (tags: good oprahwinfrey effect simoncowell mrwonderful)
  • Dan Patterson reports from Sudan on the slave trade and conditions. Just minutes prior to recording this, he witnessed the freeing of around 100 slaves that were for sale. This is front line coverage of what most news coverage simply doesn’t care to show.
    (tags: creepysleep dan patterson sudan slaves freeing journalsim)
  • How would an interstellar trading empire figure out how long goods had been in transit, for the purposes of calculating interest? If the ships are traveling at close to the speed of light, time will seem longer on the ground than on the ship.
    (tags: mindfrak economics relativity)
  • There are plenty of ad/sponsor dollars out there, however waiting for someone else to consistently deliver them to you has proven to be a loosing proposition. It is high time you realize you are the best sales representative you have.
    (tags: podcast future money $$$)

Team Tartan - Join The Clan on Twitter

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

As Steve McQueen would say, somethings coming, I can smell it. Everyone on Twitter today has been recruiting people to join groups of Colour - you do in two easy steps… the first is to follow your colour of choice, and then modify your avatar on twitter to show your affiliation. What’s going to happen is anyone’s guess (but ZeFrank is involved…)

Sounds like a Clan thing to me, which means Team Tartan is going to join in! All you need to do is follow Team Tartan on Twitter, and then add some branding to your avatar. Given this is loose association, here’s a VGA block of tartan to use with as you see fit, and this is how I altered my Avatar. No hard and fast rules, just use the tartan as you see fit.

I suspect our numbers will be small, we shall fight heavily above our weight, and we will welcome all cultures and groups into our struggle. Oh and loose horribly but have a fantastic after skirmish drink in the bar.

Who needs one plain block of colour, when you have the power of tartan! Join us…

Update: All Team news at the Team Tartan Blog .

“We Can Be Heroes,” Sings Arrington

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

“No blog should take on VC money, because we are much stronger together than apart,” is the basic thrust of Michael Arrington’s excellent post on the money thats lapping up into the blogosphere, specifically in tech news reporting. Rather than $10 million here, $15 million there, he’s wondering if these deals are stopping a potential ‘Superstar’ team being put together that would eclipse the likes of C-Net. Puttting aside the organisational questions, the idea is a good one.

But it begs two questions; who would stop the Superstars when they turn evil (I’m assuming that we’ll get a Kirk-esque absolute power corrupts absolutely plot, lets just not have the TechCrunch team in gold velour uniform please); and the second is on a more practical point.

Why replicate one powerhouse with another powerhouse? Isn’t the delight of the internet that from each blogger according to his ability, to each reader according to his needs? Or is the vision of Techmeme as a benevolent Karl Marx more horrible than Arrington in charge of a starship?

links for 2008-03-19

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
  • What would happen if everyone, anywhere, could have their own live television station from a mobile phone? So I could broadcast something as banal as my walk with the dog, or citizens could go live in conflict zones?
  • by Arthur C Clarke. A fantastic short story
    (tags: arthurcclarke names god)

The Songs of Distant Earth, and the Passing of Arthur C. Clarke

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I had already decided to blog about my experiences with The Songs of Distant Earth before I read the news that author Arthur C Clarke had died this morning. Given that The Songs of Distant Earth was one of his more ‘human’ novels, the synchronicity was rather sombre - but the huge body of work that he has left behind (A Fall of Moondust and Rendezvous with Rama would be my two picks for Clarke beginners) speaks volumes for the artist in him.

But I actually wanted to talk about one of the works that he inspired, namely Mike Oldfield’s musical suite of “The Songs of Distant Earth.” Composed and performed by Oldfield after reading the novel, this is a powerful concept album, and though many will point out Tubular Bells to be Oldfields master work, this is the quiet gem that I have turned to on many occasions.

It;s very tough to describe - it’s ambient, it’s chill, it’s powerful and moving, it’s quiet and personal, it’s just a fantastic album - allegedly split into 17 tracks but it all runs through as a single experience. I’ve used this as background music to when I’m writing, I’ve used it to lift me, to keep me smiling, and I know that if I need to relax or sleep (say on an 11 hour cramped economy flight from London to Los Angeles…) then playing Oldfield’s Opus very quietly will do the trick, every time.

At many points in his writing, Clarke’s view of technology and exploration reached out to me. The novel of The Songs of Distant Earth is very much one based on emotion - a bold step from a Hard SF writer such as Clarke. And Oldfield captures that and moulds it as only he can.

I’ll miss Clarke, and I’m sure the next time I crank up the MP3 player, I’ll have a smile on my face as I discover yet another layer to the music.

Arthur C Clarke, Dec 1917 - March 2008

Podcasting and Music - Discussion Event in London Next Week

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

For those of you in London with even a passing interest in music online, and specifically music in podcasting, next Saturday (March 29th), the Open Rights Group and the UK Podcasters Association are holding an event entitled Podcasting, Rights and Music:

Becky Hogge and Matt Wells (heads of ORG and Guardian Audio respectively) will be there, as well as representatives from MCPS-PRS and AIM (Association of Independent Music). ORG will discuss how the EU AVMS Directive could impact negatively upon podcasting (if we let it) and generally explain the current issues facing podcasters as they see them. In the second session, we’ll cover new developments in music and podcasting. There will be an opportunity afterwards to eat, drink and socialise at a local pub.

Tickets need to be booked (Details on the UK Podcasters Blog) by this weekend, the 22nd March. Unfortunately I don’t think I can make it down, but don’t let that stop you - it’ll probably be all the better for it!