Monthly Archives: April 2009

Phone Apps, IWF, and the rest – a week in tech

So here is my week. On Monday a piece on phone apps – including a row on my dot life blog post about whether it is appropriate for a BBC journalist to use an abbreviation like app. The piece that ran on the Six O Clock News is here.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Phone Apps – Six O Clock News“, posted with vodpod

And there was also this bit of video with one developer which ran on the web:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “App developer Malcolm Barclay“, posted with vodpod

Tuesday was taken up with a trip to Cambridge to see the Internet Watch Foundation for a piece for the Today programme. While I was there I caught up with Bill Thompson at the Arts Picturehouse – it’s his central Cambridge HQ as he’s on the board of the Cambridge Film Festival. He introduced me to the team that runs the festival – and I heard about this year’s wheeze. It’s a plan to use empty shops as temporary cinema screens, with back projection to put archive material in the shop windows. Brilliant idea – hope it works. Oh, and I also caught up with Richard Clayton at the University Computer Lab. Great to meet a computer scientists who looks like he might drown in paper….

A computer scientist shows the way to the paperless office

A computer scientist shows the way to the paperless office

Wednesday saw the Budget – like Christmas, final exams and your birthday rolled into one for everyone in the Economics Unit where I sit. For the first time in about two deacdes I was not really involved, though I did end up blogging about universal broadband, which the government hopes to pay for with money from the licence fee.

On Thursday stories kept exploding around us – allegations that the Pirate Bay judge was biased, UK Information Commissioner gives all-clear to Google Streetview, 3 deal with Skype for free calls on its network – while I tried to get on with processing the IWF material for broadcast on Friday. Menawhile, I’m still playing with AudioBoo – I really like this one which I recorded on a morning walk with the dog. Now that Stephen Fry is using it – and it’s coming to other phones besides the iPhone – this could really take off.

And on FridayI’m sitting and waiting to hear my radio package about the IWF go out as promised. Because only then can my article also run on the BBC website. Oh, good it’s on air now….here’s a link.
The story centred round an interview with Karen, who has one of the world’s most stressful jobs – viewing potentially illegal child abuse images – and trying to track down the sites where they’re hosted. I cut together an extended interview with her which I put here.

Interview with Karen.

Later, I managed a quick blog post about what this week’s results from Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Amazon say about who’s weathering the recession in the tech world and who isn’t. Cue the usual sniping that happens whenever you go near the Windows/Mac schism…

So a varied week. Now sitting down with a bottle of wine and a curry to watch Have I Got News For You…

Saturday update.

Some great stuff in the FT this morning – including this from John Kay comparing bankers to teenagers wanting their parents to clean up after a party wrecked the house, before starting again.

Brentford v Exeter – and an HD test

So it’s my first trip to Griffin Park – my nearest ground – for a couple of years. Couldn’t persuade either boy to come with me. I remember taking our oldest ten years ago and being horrified when his mum packed him a book “in case he gets bored…”.

You now pay £20 to sit down which seems a bit steep for what is essentially 4th Division football. Still it has a friendly down to earth feel completely lacking from more elevated clubs. Might try an audioboo later.

The above was posted from my iPhone, using the WordPress app which seems to work pretty well. This has been written from home the next day.

The game ended 1-1 – and was a very nostalgic occasion for me. When I used to go more frequently some years ago, there were two constants – the low quality of Brentford’s football and the good-natured grumbling of their supporters. Sure enough, after a good start where they really should have scored several times. Brentford fell apart after Exeter scored a beautifully taken goal during a rare breakaway. For most of the second half the Bees resorted to kick and rush tactics that wouldn’t have been out of place in the local park. They got a lucky penalty from a handball – and gave the Exeter keeper a feeble effort which he saved. Then finally they equalised in the last minute. I recorded this AudioBoo in which you can hear some of that good-natured grumbling – “they’re not talking to each other at all.!!.” – followed by a match report.
I also shot a little bit of video in HD on a Flip video camera – really to test the quality of the camera, and find out what its output looks like on YouTube. This file is actually nearly 140Mb for just 37 seconds – yet I’m not convinced that it’s come out as really HD on YouTube. See what you think:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Brentford v Exeter(HD test)", posted with vodpod

Eddie Mair, Billy Bragg, YouTube, copyright etc etc.

I’ve spent the last week sitting in for my distinguished colleague Nils Blythe on the Upshares, Downshares slot on Radio 4’s PM programme. Which means walking into the studio at 1730 each evening with some trepidation – because you never know quite what the inestimable Eddie Mair is going to say. He is an absolute master of radio broadcasting, with the ability to switch from a deadly serious interview to something light with the flick of a switch – but so relaxed in his studio that sometimes you’re not quite sure whether you’re on air or not – the clue being the red light in front of you.

Snapping while broadcasting

Snapping while broadcasting

Anyway, I’ve tried to keep a bit of a tech theme running through the week (hard because stories were thin on the ground) but also to use some of my new media tools along the way. So I headed to an event at the Performing Rights Society, where songwriters were stepping up their campaign against YouTube. The bonus was that I got to meet one of my favourite musicians, Billy Bragg, and found to my delight that he was as nice in real life as he’s always seemed on stage – which is not always the case with celebs of any kind. As well as interviewing him for PM, I snapped him on my phone:
Billy Bragg
I also recorded an AudioBoo on my phone. It starts inaudible(you can’t yet edit “boos” which is a pain)but then Billy B starts saying musicians shouldn’t really compare themselves to exploited workers in Dubai – Pete Waterman had just made that comparison at the press conference, to Bragg’s obvious discomfort.

I then recorded Billy Bragg’s performance of “I Keep faith” on a tiny compact HD video camera – and uploaded it onto YouTube.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Billy Bragg at PRS", posted with vodpod

Which rather begs the question – by uploading onto YouTube a video of a songwriter protesting about the way YouTube treats songwriters am I a)breaching his copyright or b)providing YouTube with my own content for nothing? And should either or both of us now demand some cash from YouTube for allowing them to use my excellently shot (ok shaky handheld) video and his music? Actually, this is obviously “news access” – and anyway when I looked at YouTube Billy Bragg is all over it. His videos haven’t been blocked – and indeed there’s this version of A New England where he says at the start some people may be recording this for YouTube:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Billy Bragg in concert", posted with vodpod

I got the impression that while Billy is lending his support to his union, he’s a lot less worried about the whole issue of free music online than many of his colleagues.
And now here’s a final bit of video – shot by our excellent radio producer Mark Broad without whom none of us would get on air – in the PM control room as the programme was going out on Thursday evening. Feel free to rip it off – but remember, Mark and I will come after you and your family with a whole battery of lawyers.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Upshares, downshares", posted with vodpod

The Battle of Broughton

I’ve spent a day in a village near Milton Keynes, covering the Battle of Broughton – the row over Google Streetview’s arrival here and ejection by a couple of angry residents. My blog post about it is here

I rushed up there in the morning, with top producer Jonathan Sumberg (he’s the guy in the hoodie in the Flickr set at the bottom of this post) and we just about got a piece together for One. Then, as is normally the case, we tinkered with it for some hours and made it only slightly better for Six. And then luckily they ran the same piece at Ten. Here it is:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Streetview Rebels“, posted with vodpod

Of course, the irony was that a village that had wanted to be out of the spotlight was in it all day, as we and other media outlets turned up with satellite trucks, cameras, and nosey reporters. But for the most part, the villagers were very welcoming – especially Paul Jacobs who let us use his house for our edit. Here is the scene in the sat truck:

The man in red is Streetview protestor Paul Jacobs - doing the Jeremy Vine show

The man in red is Streetview protestor Paul Jacobs - doing the Jeremy Vine show

And here is a short grab of video from my flip camera:

And I’ve put a set of photos from the day on Flickr.

G20 and Social Media

I posted on dot life on Tuesday about the way people are using social media to cover the G20 – protestors, government and a sort of in between bunch of people who are taking part in government sponsored blogging, debating, and other web activity.

On Wednesday I spent some of the day trying to see what was going on at the demos in the City via Twitter, Flickr, AudioBoo etc. Concluded that TV was actually providing a fuller picture than what we in the MSM call UGC.

But on Thursday morning I’m getting calls claiming Twitter was used to organise the demos. Seems unlikely¬† to me – for two reasons. First, it’s an over-35 kind of place, second it’s too public for “covert” activity. But maybe I’m wrong. Let me know if you’ve evidence that Twitter was a really useful organisational tool for G20 protestors.