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Widening the Bell Curve since 1975

Copyright: Kopyleft. All rights reversed. Public domain. Do what you like with it.

Why isn't Broadband happening in the UK?

Thu, 08 Nov 2001 11:56:28 GMT

The hype, FUD and downright lies about Broadband are getting almost as bad as WAP from 2 years ago. but it's apparent that Broadband is not taking off in the UK anything like as quickly as it should. This week a couple of studies have been publised that show that the UK is well behind several other countries in Europe and the World, despite the much vaunted push by the government. Inevitably this has turned into a slanging match between BT, the e-Envoy and the Chancellor with not a lot of truth involved. But there's some pretty obvious reasons to be found between the lines.

Coping with mailing lists using Outlook Excess

Mon, 05 Nov 2001 12:17:38 GMT

This maybe teaching people to suck eggs, but I hope you find it useful. Whether you like Outlook Express as a mail reader or not there are some hints and tips that make it easier to use and especially to cope with mailing lists. Many mailing lists have high volumes of email and if you leave all that in your inbox, you'll get swamped. Then there's a set of conventions loosely called "Netiquette" that it's well worth following These grew up in the high volume world of Usenet Newsgroups but they are equally applicable to mailing lists. OE makes it hard to do some of these but I'll try and show workarounds.

The Syndic8 Project - Promoting RSS

Tue, 23 Oct 2001 11:38:07 GMT

For those who don't know it yet, RSS is an XML standard for syndicating headlines and article abstracts. It's been around for a couple of years and is perhaps the mostly widely implemented XML standard. It allows a news or content generation site to create a file in XML of their recent headlines with a link to the full article and an optional abstract of the article which may contain HTML. The standard is very simple and it's generally easy for a site to code so that it is updated automatically whenever new content is posted to the site. There are a number of readers and aggregators available to collect the results and display them or to add the headlines found to an existing site.

More on UDDI and WSDL

Sat, 06 Oct 2001 18:30:09 GMT

Following on from Clay Shirky's piece about web services, and my own response, Dave Winer has got in on the game and posted his own thoughts. What they've both picked up on is an idea that appeared on UDDI.ORG and has been promoted by numerous articles about UDDI. The problem is that it is the work of an over enthusiastic marketing person and doesn't have much truth in it. If you ask people in the big companies whether it's real they will tell you that it's unfortunate and unlikely.

Web Services Are ...

Thu, 04 Oct 2001 13:06:25 GMT

In the last few days, I've been reading a series of articles and commentary about Web services that seem to radically miss the point. The first was an email news letter and talk from Ecademy. This seems to equate "Web Services" with MS Hailstorm. The second was a piece by Clay Shirky ( on the trivial implementations so far, the more general problem of business semantics and the hype being generated by some ill considered press releases from UDDI ( Then of course, there was Dave Winer's reaction to Clay's piece. (

Don't blow IT - Part I

Tue, 02 Oct 2001 14:12:20 GMT

On Sept 27th, I went along to the one day Spiked-Online conference on the subject "Don't Blow IT". This was the culmination of series of evening seminars on different aspects of IT. In the end the predominant theme of the day was "IT and Privacy" especially in the light of September 11th and the sometimes ludicrous proposals from various governments. The conference effectively broek down to three themes.
  • Technophilia, technophobia and Beyond the Internet Bubble
  • Knowledge in the Information age
  • Privacy, Freedom and IT

  • Don't blow IT - Part II

    Tue, 02 Oct 2001 14:09:17 GMT

    Knowledge in the information age The second theme of the conference was rather less satisfactory perhaps because it was dealing with vaguer concepts (or because it was straight after lunch!). Charles Leadbetter introduced "What happened to Digitopia". The core here was comparing the 70s and 80s view of automation leading to a greater quality of life with current reality.

    Don't blow IT - Part III

    Tue, 02 Oct 2001 14:07:33 GMT

    Privacy, Freedom & IT Simon Davies led this off with an overview of the effects on Privacy and Civil Rights post Sept 11. These events sent a chill through civil rights activists. It's much harder to argue against Government proposals when you are seen as arguing against patriotism. But at the same time we seem to have a unanimous government view that some civil rights need suspending. They are draging out and dusting off every proposal from the last 10 years and trying to rush it through again. But these were all fought off, debated and found wanting in normal times, so why should they now be seen to be essential. Some have been passed with almost no debate such as the use of Carnivore in the USA to monitor emails. We already have the Human Rights act, Data protection act, police powers act, immigration controls and the prevention of terrorism act. And yet the UK has no computerised records of who has entered the country and no records of who has left.

    Business Plans for Software Development

    Fri, 21 Sep 2001 12:07:23 GMT

    It seems that the market for independent software development has dried up. At the bottom end there are two pressures driving down prices to zero. First whole software markets are being taken over by the majors (MS in particular) giving away or bundling software in that field as a loss leader. Browser, Email reader, Media player, text editor, html editor, image editor etc etc. Second, what is left is being given away by amateurs and open source efforts. Slightly higher up the scale, the market for shareware has disappeared as while the Internet has made distribution easy, it has also made distribution of copies easy.


    Tue, 18 Sep 2001 11:46:44 GMT

    What is it? CGI-RPC is a proposed standard for calling a remote procedure. It uses the CGI spec for all calls. Consequently the spec is almost completely concerned with the format of the returned data, not with the calling convention. This addresses the one limitation of CGI that it does not structure the returned data in a form that is guranteed to be machine readable. The intention is that the standard should be inherently resilient and make few, if any, assumptions about the language or the environment of the client and server.

    Simplicity and resilience in standards

    Mon, 17 Sep 2001 11:42:59 GMT

    This is a revolution in standards I'd like to see but don't expect in my lifetime. Someone on the de-centralization list said "Standards shouldn't be built by amateurs". Well frankly the professionals have made a complete and utter hash of it. For a variety of vested interests, the standards we're trying to work with are either broken or have grown so vast that they might as well be. Or there are an infinite number of standards to choose from, so they're not really standards are they.

    Technology Revolution

    Fri, 07 Sep 2001 10:54:13 GMT

    This is an essay inspired by Dave Winer's call for comment on the shape of the next technological revolution for the Seybold 2001 conference. I don't think I'm really saying anything new here. But I feel that as technologists (or geeks!) we are as guilty as everyone else of failing to see the woods for the trees. It's so easy to get wrapped into tracking Microsoft or arguing over the most elegant way to design a network API that we lose sight of the big picture. Much of this is just recapitulation of trends that others have seen but I do offer some implications and technologies at the end. The cynic is welcome to dismiss it all with "that's so 5 minutes ago". But it's still true nonetheless.

    Western governments and taxation

    Mon, 03 Sep 2001 15:33:14 GMT

    In the last 15 or 20 years most western governments have attempted to encourage private industry to streamline itself and improve efficiency. They have also made election promises to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness in the public sector. The private sector has put a great deal of effort into initiatives such as computerization of basic processes, BPR, TQM and has largely succeeded with the result that productivity is now as high as anywhere in the world. But the public sector has failed dramatically with the result that public sector spending has grown with every year that goes by. Despite this increase in spending, (and by implication, taxation) the quality of basic services continues to decline and in the UK at least, public sector infrastructure projects have been notable failures.

    Whatever happened to 3D?

    Mon, 20 Aug 2001 18:54:10 GMT

    We all read William Gibson's Neuromancer, and then Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash and became captivated by the idea of a shared consensual 3D space accessible through our computers. A few people started to try and build it and there were various experiments with more or less success. Personally, I can remember during the early days of MS Windows wondering why the prevalent metaphor being used was layers of paper on a desk. I wanted to step through a "Window" and jump (like Alice) into a 3D world of exploration. I keep coming back to this idea, and whenever another set of technology appears that might allow me to do this, I eagerly download it, and play for a few hours before becoming frustrated by it.

    P2PJ - A new form of Journalism?

    Fri, 17 Aug 2001 14:37:24 GMT

    In the last 6-9 months the internet has seen another sea change in what can loosely be termed Peer to Peer journalism (P2PJ). First let's take a few trends. Is it a new form of Journalism? Or just a sea of messages in bottles?