Archive for the ‘(Uncategorized)’ category

I am fine

July 28th, 2010

Normally when I hear the words “I am fine” it is a fib, but really, I am okay. If you follow me or my friends on Twiter you may heave heard I was assaulted on Tuesday night on the way back home from a photo walk.

I am not going to say much about what happened now, both because the Police are investigating, and because all I want to do now is go to bed. I have been awake for over 38 hours and really need sleep. The summery is I was hit once by one of two lads who were drunk and looking for trouble.

Currently I am in a decent state despite falling badly. I have a fractured arm, but we are hoping it will not need a plaster putting on it. I am doing physiotherapy and need to keep popping to hospital to monitor this. I am slightly bumped and bruised but it could have been fare worse. No significant cuts but some grassing. The pain is well within my pain tolerances and I should be able to continue an abnormal in a few days. I hope to make a full recovery in 6 to 8 weeks.

I must say a big thank you to fellow photographer Brit who helped get me in an ambulance. Also a huge thank you to my friends and followers who have been great. I have pages and pages of public and private good wishes. My phone’s SMS inbox is full and the voicemail has given up. Several people from across the country have offered to jump on a train and keep me company. I have been welling up reading some of the messages. I am very lucky. I will reply to you directly soon if I have not done so already.

Finally I have to say that everyone, and I mean everyone I have met at the NHS and Police service have been amazing. I felt that my well-being was the most important thing to them throughout.

Upcoming July events

July 13th, 2010

I ave just knocked up a quick list of events coming up in the next two weeks and thought I would post it here in case you found it useful…

Newcastle Coffee Morning, Newcastle
Wednesday July 14, 2010 from 8:30am – 9:45am

Our biweekly breakfast gathering in a local coffee shop. A great chance to chat with fellow creative people.

Webdurance, Newcastle
Thursday 15th to Friday 16th July 2010

A 24 hours coding event to create web sites for charitys. We need 3 more people if you are up for it.

NEBytes Virtualisation-o-rama, Newcastle
Thursday July 15, 2010 from 6:30pm – 9:00pm

A chance to find out about Hyper-V and more. Please note the new date.

Ruby Ground Newcastle Meeting, Newcastle
Wednesday July 21st 2010 from 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Talks on Active Relation in Rails 3 and Luke and Refinery CMS in addition to other discussions.

Big Ideas Summer BBQ and Technology Exhibition, Sunderland
Thursday 22nd July 3:00pm – 8:00pm

A chance to socialise and play with some retro 70s and 80s technology.

The Geekest Drink, Newcastle
Friday 23rd of July from 6:30pm

Just a group of geeks going down the pub for a drink and a chat.

Howduino NCL, Newcastle
Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th July 2010

A two day workshop about connecting the Internet to the real world. Free and open to everyone.

There is a SuperMondays pencilled in for the following Monday and several event after that. If you want to keep an eye on my events calender then it is published on the Maker Space events page.

Someone is pretending to be me

July 12th, 2010

It might surprise you that anyone would want to be me online, but apparently someone does.

I stared getting suspicious when I stared receiving password reset emails, but then it went to a whole new level when they started lodging support emails. They were using an old email address of mine to try and gain access to various accounts, implying they were me, and trying to use facts from that email address to prove it. Fortunately I did not use this address to register on any sites, and would not do this from a domain I do not control.

Fortunately I am reasonably well known in this world and someone guessed what was going on fairly early. I think I know who is behind this and am taking steps for the domain with the email address being abused be suspended.

If you get a request calming to have come from me to reset a password then please treat it with suspicion and contact me thought my web site.

Freeview EPGs – A brief history

July 8th, 2010

With the recent switching off the the Multiguide / 4TV service there has been some confusion on several forums and Twitter about what EPG services there are and have been. This does not surprise me. In the past created the link between Unique Interactive’s EPG solutions the the BBC systems for feeding the EPGs, and I still get confused. In total we have had about 5 EPG services and today, after the loss of the Multiguide service, we still have three. This is my attempt to summarise what has happened from memory. If there is anything you would like to add or if I have recalled wrongly then please comment on the post.

Now and Next

The original EPG was and still is a now and next service that is still transmitted today. It does exactly what it says by saying what is on now and what is coming up next. This information is transmitted on every multiplex. Originally the information sent appeared to differ on the different multiplexes but today the information seems to be the same.

NTL Interactive

The name implied to me that this was supposed to be part of NTL’s push in to the interactive TV market, but I remember it solely as a 1/2 day TV guide on On Digital. This was available on all boxes that supported MHEG, that was most at the time.

I vaguely remember this service being overtaken by a Teletext EPG (TV Navigator) with comparable functionality, and then this was upgraded so it did not function with my box. For the sake of this blog I am regarding all these as one EPG, although I fully acknowledge they were two completely different EPGs utilising the same technology in the same way.

Multiguide (4TV Interactive)

Originally introduced by 4TV and later maintained by InVision. Originally a 7 day service it was expanded to 14 days around the same time the Freeview 7/8 day guide (below) was launched. As a result many devices that are labelled as supporting 7 days that would actually support 14 days worth of listings. The service was funded by receiver manufacturers.

Sadly for those of us who used it the service stopped in June 2010. As soon as a free and open Freeview EPG service was launched the Multiguide days were numbered and the last box was allegedly manufactured in 2006.

Freeview 7/8 day

When ITV Digital (formally OnDigital) failed in 2002 there were several groups that offered proposals. The winning group were the people behind Freeview (including BBC, BSkyB, and Crown Castle). As part of this plan a native Freeview EPG service was created and is used by most devices today.

Teletext Extra

This is a 14 day service launched in April 2007. The service funded by adverts that are shown on the listing page and is generally accessed by the guide button on a comparable device’s remote control.

My PVR will stop working :-(

July 2nd, 2010

Today I learned the annoying and sad news that the Freeview PRV (Personal Video Recorder) will stop working after the 7th July.  I have blogged about my PVR before and still love using it today. It is not perfect, but it is not far off. Unfortunately the device is based around the 4TV Electronic Programme guide (EPG) and this service has not stopped.

Inview, the company who have been running the 4IP service stated the following on Digital Spy

As you know we have had to bring to an end the broadcast of the 4TV 14 day guide.

Unfortunately this has been caused by circumstances beyond our control – simply put the bandwidth contract has run out and we have been unable to secure a new arrangement.

As you know Inview has tried hard over the last few years to keep this service running but it seems that its time has now passed. We do hope you will manage to find a suitable new arrangement.

Just to clarify one point – when the current listing expire on your Thomson/Digifusion devices both will revert to a simple now/next guide.

Best regards, Inview

So if I still want to use my PVR after the 7th I will need to programme it like an old video recorder. I will stick with it for now but suspect I will have to replace the recorder that I have grown fond of. Another loss is that the other EPG services are only for the next 7 or 8 days instead of the 14 days that I have found most useful. I might opt for a PVR that is more customisable or that supports HD, but that is a decision for another day.

My use of Twitter is changing

June 26th, 2010

I have been a user of Twitter for way over 3 years and it has changed many ways in that time. What started out for me as something I did not really understand, then became a friendly tool for knowing what friends around the world were up to, to a tool for meeting new and interesting friends with similar interests, to today where we are to day.

In the past I have applied my “pub rule” to my use of most social networking, including Twitter. I will allow someone to become “friends” / follow me if I would go for a drink down the pub with them in real life and feel I can speak freely. Following the same logic I will only post things that are visible to my friends / followers that I would say down the pub (before drinking and everyone is my best mate :-) ). I don’t just post anything mind, and consider that anything I post or say is not really secret, but it did allow me to be a little more open about my opinions and revile my current and future locations.

On the whole this has been successful but sadly there has been an incident in recent months when someone used the Newcastle City Counsel Twitter account to read my tweets, and then attempt to respond to them in a less than professional way on my personal blog. This has shaken me a little and the reason why I have been sharing less and why the official NCC twitter account has been unused recently.

After this incident I have decided to share less, and because of that I don’t see any reason to keep my tweets secure so only people I trust can follow them. So, as of some time next week I will be opening up my Twitter stream so anyone can see what I post. The down side of this is that I will be a little less open in what I post.

As a side issue I have also had the problem of Twitter overload with so much information coming in I can not keep up. To cope with this I have also decided to “unfollow” a lot of accounts in order to filter it down a little. Please don’t take it personally if I do. More often than not I will have done it because you have said to much I am just not interested in and if you are not a business you should probably NOT change anything. If you are a business and I am your target audience then perhaps you should change, so please get in touch and I will help where I can.

Finally because of the way Twitter works you will not be able to “DM” me if I do not follow you, or even “at” me if your updates are protected. In order to give everyone a way to contact me via Twitter I have set up @contactalistair that, if you follow, will follow you back so we can communicate through it.

Charity Hack 2010 Logo

June 19th, 2010

The dates for Charity Hack 2010 have been announced as the 18th and 19th of September. This is a hacking event held at the PayPal London HQ that is, as the name would suggest, for the benefit of charities.

The organisers have asked for someone to design a logo so this is my suggested design. There is a full colour design, a 4 colour design that is more realistically going to be the final logo, and a monochrome design. It has been produced in Inkscape so is vector based, the colour design can have the number of colours reduced without overly impacting on the design if required, and an outlive version can be rendered if required.

The heart idea came from the temporary icon idea that is currently being used and the plaster has much the same significance as Pudsey’s eye patch. The font used is Red Hat’s Liberation Sans to be compatible with the current web site, but I am considering changing it.

This is the first draft and subject to change, so any input is welcomed.

Dorkbot Newcastle – June 29th 2010

June 15th, 2010

A quick heads up that I am showing off some of my geographic mashups at this month’s Dorkbot. I will be showing off the good old PHP flight simulator, various travel data mashups, my recent virtualisation of the Metro system, and some new Google earth mashups using open streetmap and recently released OS data.

Shaun will also be there showing off there Second Life work including the virtual quayside, and there will be an introduction to reusing the regions museums collections data.

Doors open at 6.30pm on Tuesday 29th June. Entry if free. Please use the Lifelab entrance on Central Parkway

It’s my blog’s birthday

April 7th, 2010

It was 4 years ago today that I first started blogging with this welcoming post.

At the time I did not really know what I was blogging about or blogging for, but I decided to have a go anyway. Initially I tried to blog something every day but soon realised that blogging when I had something to say was better for my audience and better for me.

I still blog nowadays (like now) but only a few times a month at most. When I started blogging it was a time before Twitter and live/micro blogging caught on, but today most of my web links, time linked images, and general comments about what I am doing make there way to Twitter and Facebook instead of the blog.

In the past I have also blogged a lot of more filly pictures and links to odd stuff that I find amusing, but as these did not really fit well with the other serious content of my blog. What I do now is post this to my Vox blog (also posted inFacebook) instead if you are interested.

So that is 4 years blogging done, and here is to the next few. If you have any views on my blog then please do post them here or let me know privately if you prefer.

Our Mass Birthday Party

March 31st, 2010

If you know me well you might have noticed that I did not do anything for my birthday earlier in the year.  This was entirely because it was cold, snow was everywhere, and most people (including me) just wanted to stay inside in the warm. I am not alone in this as a few of my friends have not celebrated there birthday either.

To ready this situation we are having a mass group birthday party come tweetup in Newcastle this Easter. So if you want to come to my birthday doo then you are invited. Just contact me or follow me on twitter for more details.

Ps. If anyone asks we are all 21. :-P