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Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Scrapbook clips catch up

I've been repeatably hearing a bizarre (to my ears) ad running on the Olbermann netcast - Kraft 'natural, 2% milk' cheese with ... drumroll ... "no added growth hormone". Only in America?

I shouldn't mock. We have crap food here too. But something called Velveeta, which "doesn't need to be refrigerated after opening"???

Google has launched a Elections Video Search gadget which use speech recognition.
Using the gadget you can search not only the titles and descriptions of the videos, but also their spoken content. Additionally, since speech recognition tells us exactly when words are spoken in the video, you can jump right to the most relevant parts of the videos you find.
+ Google kills the Google bomb :{

Hah (sorry, shouldn't laugh).
A disgruntled city computer engineer has virtually commandeered San Francisco's new multimillion-dollar computer network, altering it to deny access to top administrators even as he sits in jail on $5 million bail.
US 'Department of Homeland Security' is seriously suggesting that airline passengers wear 'security bracelets' which would deliver taser-like shocks if they 'fail to comply' - seriously.

Here's another shock horror story in 'the war against tourism':
And it wasn't enough for another woman to show TSA agents nipple rings that set off a metal detector. The agents forced her to take them out.

Mandi Hamlin said, "I had to get pliers and pull it apart."

In Chicago, people like Robert Perry are subjected to exhaustive security checks. He was patted down, his wheel chair was examined and his hands were swabbed, all in public view in a see-through room at the security checkpoint. Perry, 71, is not alone

"It's humiliation," Perry said.

Perry was also taken to a see-through room by a TSA agent when his artificial knee set off the metal detector.

"He yelled at me to get the belt off. 'I told you to get the belt off.' So I took the belt off. He ran his hands down over and pulled the pants down, they went down around my ankle," Perry said.

At that point, Perry was standing in his underwear in public view. He asked to see a supervisor. That made things worse.
Tracey Ullman has a great character, Chanel Monticello, taking da piss outta this shit.

Delightful story about how Karl Rove, aka 'Bush's brain', threatened a webbie:
If he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio".
No wonder they're losing online, who'd want to work for them?

Computing magazine had a good-news story about the NHS IT project - the biggest non-military IT project in the world - focusing on Homerton Hospital. All great, practical, working properly, stuff. Pity that a/ it's not easily found on the web and b/ Labour is making nothing of it.

eGov: New figures from NWEGG shows that:
A ‘self-serviced’ web transaction is 24 times less costly than a telephone transaction and 46 times less costly than a face - to - face transaction.
According to the Daily Mail (FCS):
Ministers had so far failed to put sex education on a statutory footing in the national curriculum.
Attempts to search for advice on school computers were often frustrated by filters which block sites containing sexual words.
New York Times piece on the challenges of being a Tekkie in Kenya:
Consider Wilfred Mworia, a 22-year-old engineering student and freelance code writer in Nairobi, Kenya. In the four weeks leading up to Apple’s much-anticipated release of a new iPhone on July 11, Mr. Mworia created an application for the phone that shows where events in Nairobi are happening and allows people to add details about them.

Mr. Mworia’s desire to develop an application for the iPhone is not unusual: many designers around the world are writing programs for the device. But his location posed some daunting obstacles: the iPhone doesn’t work in Nairobi, and Mr. Mworia doesn’t even own one. He wrote his program on an iPhone simulator.

Here's good CRM for you. From an email:

We couldn't help but notice that it's been a while since you've visited, and it's bumming us out.

If you have a moment, we'd love to hear from you about your experience on, what did or didn’t work for you, and how we could make things more enticing for you in the future.
Lincolnshire is truly pioneering with eGov. Apart from the ads they are:
As part of their “Accessibility tested by humans” strategy, Lincolnshire’s website will be tested every 3 months by a panel of disabled users with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy through to dyslexia. Results will then be published on Lincolnshire’s website for anyone to see.
I completely agree with this more 'social' attitude to accessibility.

Here's Whitehall's approach:
The draft had threatened to switch off non-compliant websites altogether, warning: "websites which fail to meet the mandated level of conformance shall be subject to the withdrawal process for domain names". The final guidance issues a similar warning, but using the softer formula 'may be at risk' instead of 'shall be subject to': "Government website owners are reminded to follow the conditions of use for a name (Registering domain names (TG114)). Websites which fail to meet the accessibility requirements may be at risk of having their domain name withdrawn".
Monbiot point:
A few weeks ago the writer Mark Lynas found a counter-intuitive revelation buried in the small print of an ICM survey. The number of people in social classes D and E who thought the government should prioritise the environment over the economy was higher (56%) than the proportion in classes A and B (47%). It is counter-intuitive only because a vast and well-funded denial industry has spent years persuading us that environmentalism is a middle-class caprice
How stays atop the pile:
In the past two months, we have started to combine search engine optimisation - talking to the news desk on the paper about SEO-friendly headlines and underlining SEO with our subs desk [on the website] - with our marketing and pay-per-click activity. If you do two to three small things at one time that can be very significant.
Etre (newsletter only) had a great post about 'cognitive illusions', relating this to usability. Citing Bruce Tognazzi from 1989 it notes that:
1) Users consistently report that using the keyboard is faster than using the mouse.

2) The stopwatch consistently proves that using the mouse is faster than using the keyboard.

This illusion reveals a much more important learning: Users' perception of reality and reality itself are not the same thing - which means that you should always verify their claims through research. You should also take pains to validate your own intuitions, because even when you're certain of something, you can still be very wrong.
Etre's blog had an interesting post about a new ATM interface for Wells Fargo. ATMs are thirty years old - proving that usability is an ongoing and never-ending process.

Dave Briggs is running an event in Peterborough relating the ReadWriteWeb to the needs of local government. Check it out.
Featuring case studies from both local and central government, practical exercises to learn more about how social media could be used within a local authority context and plenty of time for networking and chats over coffee.
eGov AU on why UK lgov sites are better than Australian ones. Unfortunately he cites Redbridge :{

Information ain't free. After a long break with no email, I had a notification about a citation of that suicide and the internet BMJ article (which I went to work on). But of course I couldn't read it because JAMA's medical research is behind a paywall.

That's cleared some clips :}

Just this to add - from the online journo Michael J Totten: The Truth About Russia in Georgia:

He raised his hand as if to say stop.

“That was the formal start of the war,” he said. “Because of the peace agreement they had, nobody was allowed to have guns bigger than 80mm. Okay, so that's the formal start of the war. It wasn't the attack on Tskhinvali. Now stop me.”

“Okay,” I said. “All the reports I've read say Saakashvili started the war.”

“I'm not yet on the 7th,” he said. “I'm on the 6th.”

“Okay,” I said. He had given this explanation to reporters before, and he knew exactly what I was thinking.

“Saakashvili is accused of starting this war on the 7th,” he said.

“Right,” I said. “But that sounds like complete bs to me if what you say is true.”

Thomas Goltz nodded.

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