Monthly Archives: May, 2008

A sign of the times?

A banner ad on The Irish Times caught my eye this morning:

Irish Times Banner Ad

If you click on the ad it takes you to:

Which is a domain for and the text on the webpage states:

This account has been suspended.
Either the domain has been overused, or the reseller ran out of resources.

Definition of irony anyone?

The weekly Antony Gormley homage

Antony Gormley's Field

Photo: Matt Gorecki. Used under licence.

Antony Gormley’s Field.

All my postings on Antony Gormley

Yo! Simon!

I went to a Champions of Innovation talk organised by the University of Limerick and Enterprise Ireland yesterday. It was given by Simon Woodroffe.

Funniest. Talk. Ever.

It was brilliant! He was seeringly honest and very down-to-earth. Very inspiring and hugely encouraging. He gave loads of insights into how he motivates himself and others and how he innovates. A great talk.

If you get a chance to hear him speak then I would strongly encourage you to take the opportunity – you may just learn a thing or two but you definitely will leave with a huge smile on your face!

Steal This Film – And Remix It!


Steal This Film II

Just Amazing!

Steal This Film II

Not only is it an absolutely brilliant documentary – it’s now an absolutely brilliant documentary that you can do with as you wish.

Steal This Film II

Over on Know Future Inc., Alan Toner has announced the landmark decision to make the footage from Steal This Film II available online for the world to share at:

More on this later but for now – I’m off to play!

The weekly Antony Gormley homage

Antony Gormley's Broken Column

Photo: kalevkevad. Used under licence.

Antony Gormley’s Broken Column.

All my postings on Antony Gormley

TED | Talks | Erin McKean: Redefining the dictionary (video)

2009/04/30 – Redid this with the new embedding of TED talks on WordPress!

Original post.

Spinal Tap were pussies! My iPlayer goes to 16!!!!!

In a hat tip to Spinal Tap

This Is Spinal Tap

the BBC’s iPlayer volume goes to 11:

iPlayer volume 11

Why 11? This is a fan’s view or if you wish to hear it from the genius that is Nigel Tufnel:

This was the presumed limit of human engineering power.


My iPlayer  goes to 16!!!!!

iPlayer embedded volume 16

Full screen? You bet:

iPlayer volume 16 full screen

This is 5 louder!

PS – For those who like the technical details – browser:

browser details

Flash version:

flash version

The new weekly Antony Gormley homage

Quantum Cloud

Photo: Andy Roberts. Used under licence.

Antony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud Series

All my postings on Antony Gormley

Stephen Fry on the future of Public Service Broadcasting

Following on from a previous post, Stephen Fry gave a lecture recently entitled “The Future Of Public Service Broadcasting – Some Thoughts” and it is available on a special BBC website  – The BBC And The Future Of Public Service Broadcasting.

I think the following excerpts are key from his lecture:

…but is it broadcasting, is it, actually, what anyone wants? Well actually, it exactly isn’t broadcasting, it’s narrow-casting. But is it wanted? I don’t know, I can’t speak for Britain, I can’t second guess polls, though I can imagine how easily they will return the results wanted by either side, according to the way the questions are framed. “Do you want to see the BBC dismantled so that you have to choose and pay for all your programmes like a hotel room film menu?” NO. “Do you want to stop paying the licence fee and being forced to watch poncey documentaries and have access to thousands of films and saucy programmes at the click of a button?” YES. GIGO, as they used to say in the early days of computing: garbage in, garbage out.

But that is nothing, nothing to the real problem. Content. Production. Programme making. TV programmes suffer from the embarrassing necessity of having to be written and made. Unlike Yorkie Bars or tennis balls or mobile phones you can’t just gear up the machinery and stamp them out in perpetuity. Every damned new programme has to be developed, nurtured, and tried out. Relationships have to be forged with writers, performers, presenters and directors, failures have to be accommodated and accepted. How this is achieved in a brave new world of post switchover root and branch restructuring, I don’t know.


…I genuinely cannot see that the nation would benefit from a diminution of any part of the BBC’s great whole. It should be as closely scrutinised as possible of course, value for money, due humility and all that, but to reduce its economies of scale, its artistic, social and national reach for misbegotten reasons of ideology or thrift would be a tragedy. We got here by an unusual route that stretches back to Reith. We have evolved extraordinarily, like our parliament and other institutions, such is the British way. Yes, we could cut it all down and remake ourselves in the image of Italy or Austria or some other notional modern state. We could sharpen the axe, we could cut away apparently dead wood, we could reinvent the wheel, we could succumb to the natural desires of commercial media companies. Although I have an axe to grind on this, you should understand that it is personal not professional. Actually, if licence fee slicing and other radical plans do go ahead, I do not believe it would affect my career as performer, presenter or producer; in fact I would probably profit more from the change. It is simply that I don’t want to live in a country that emasculates the BBC. Yes, I want to see Channel 4 secure, but I don’t believe that the only way to save it is to reduce the BBC. We can afford what we decide we can afford.

You know when you visit another country and you see that it spends more money on flowers for its roundabouts than we do, and you think … coo, why don’t we do that? How pretty. How pleasing. What a difference it makes. To spend money for the public good in a way that enriches, gives pleasure, improves the quality of life, that is something. That is a real achievement. It’s only flowers in a roundabout, but how wonderful. Well, we have the equivalent of flowers in the roundabout times a million: the BBC enriches the country in ways we will only discover when it has gone and it is too late to build it up again. We actually can afford the BBC, because we can’t afford not to.

These two quotes sum up what Stephen was getting at – yes, content is expensive (but it’s expensive for a reason and won’t always succeed) and it is not a question of whether you can afford to, but what the cost is, of not cherishing what you have.

I am not going to argue these points but what I would say is there is a reason why people question the BBC’s public service remit – and the main reason is BBC3.

Stephen makes reference to possible future Channel 4 commissions such as ” The Man With a Nose Growing Out of His Bottom”, “The Girl With Fourteen Nipples” and ” The Boy Whose Testicles Play The Harpsichord”but fails to quote the actually commissioned BBC3 programmes of “F*** Off I’m Ginger“, “F*** Off I’m Small” and of course not forgetting the wonderfully titled “F*** Off I’m A Hairy Woman“.

I’m all for flowers on the roundabout but you have to keep the weeds out to maintain the aesthetic.

Is this the future of the BBC?

Stephen Fry gave a lecture recently entitled “The Future Of Public Service Broadcasting – Some Thoughts” and it is available on a special BBC website  – The BBC And The Future Of Public Service Broadcasting.

The fact that the BBC put it on the Internet might make you think that they would like this to be read, seen and listened to  by a large, global audience.

So, you can read the transcript:

Stephen Fry and The Future Of The BBC Transcript

Watch the video:

Stephen Fry and The Future Of The BBC Video

Listen to the aud… – ooooooops!!!!!!!!! No audio:

Stephen Fry and The Future Of The BBC Audio

It’s blocked to non-UK Internet users.

The BBC iPlayer is the name for the on-demand service and also the software used for the media player.

The service uses GeoIP software to block users outside the UK from accessing the iPlayer on-demand content. They are also integrating the iPlayer software as the embedded  media player across the site.

So, they have a service which blocks IP addresses to on-demand content, software which acts as a front-end to this service and is also the embedded media player for the website.

Result – cross-infection.

So which of these is the future of the BBC – both audio and video should be blocked? Audio shouldn’t be blocked? Audio, video and transcript should be blocked?

Or, to make things a bit more surreal, could it be the case that the video shouldn’t be blocked but it should be re-dubbed with, say, Gerry Adams reading the transcript?

And if you’re wondering if this is a one off – the previous lecture by David Attenborough is exactly the same:
David Attenborough and The Future Of The BBC Audio

Also, why the BBC Parliament feed isn’t expiring after 7 day iPlayer window is a mystery to me. Has something changed since Tom Loosemore pointed this (rights-free) issue out previously?

As for the Stephen Fry lecture itself and what he had to say – more on that to follow.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Tools

Maslow – he of the Hierarchy of Needs Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs fame – accurately describes the desire to make the problem fit the solution:

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

Abraham Harold Maslow
The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance

Maslow's Hierarchy of Tools

Why is this relevant?

Well judging from this CNET report on the recent Digital Hollywood conference the film and music industries are still seeing nails:

“At a time when the top recording companies appear to be phasing out digital rights management (DRM), the RIAA is predicting that the highly controversial software will make a comeback.

“(Recently) I made a list of the 22 ways to sell music, and 20 of them still require DRM,” said David Hughes, who heads up the RIAA’s technology unit, during a panel discussion at the Digital Hollywood conference. “Any form of subscription service or limited play-per-view or advertising offer still requires DRM. So DRM is not dead.”

….Fritz Attaway, executive vice president at the Motion Picture Association of America said: “We need DRM to show our customers the limits of the license they have entered into with us.””

The final weekly Caravaggio homage

Caravaggio's Deposition from the Cross (The Entombment)

Image: Web Gallery of Art.

Painting on display at Pinacoteca, Vatican.

All my postings on Caravaggio

The weekly Caravaggio homage

Caravaggio's The Sacrifice of Isaac

Image: Web Gallery of Art.

Painting on display at Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

All my postings on Caravaggio

Well done Eileen!


My sister, Eileen, won best actress at the Tribeca Film Festival last night for her performance in the film Eden.

Here’s a review (RealPlayer) that the arts programme, The View, did of the film.

My twin sister, Catherine, had played the same role in the play.

Eileen was interviewed on Irish radio this morning and was surprised to find out she won!

If you get a chance to see the film or the play, go see it. It’s excellent!