Archive for August, 2007

Future forces affecting education

An appropriate link, on the day that A-level results are released in the UK: a slick interactive map of future forces affecting education…

Marketing grants fund

The West Midlands Social Enterprise Network has a newly-launched ‘Illuminate’ fund, offering marketing grants. Naturally enough, it’s aimed at social enterprises based in the West Midlands. Small grants (PDF link) of between £3k and £5k can fund… “events, the development of promotional materials, websites, awareness raising tools and multimedia resources.” Applications are invited from now […]


I’ve dived into my local Freecycle in order to jettison a lot of my unwanted stuff before the move, and I must say it works a treat. Unlike the BT phone home-move service, who managed to cut me off (phone and broadband) long before the appointed removal date. I’m now reconnected again, but it took […]

3D toys

Who knew bathroom stick-on toothbrush & flannel -holders could be such fun?

Resonant crap

The Telegraph reviews Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk… “judging from the online response to his book, Wolk has been daringly irreverent about various sacred cows, his passion for what he calls ‘resonant crap’ as well as more highbrow comics leads him to spend a great deal of […]


There are some increasingly tasty free apps loading up inside web browsers, these days. Nick Kang’s Phosphor is a full 3D “first-person shooter” game. It was made with Macromedia Director and one Xtra, and has been in beta since it was launched last year. Although it’s by no means Halo or UT2004, it seems very […]

No Virtual London

Not appearing on Google Earth any time soon; the three million 3D buildings, and seven years of work that was Virtual London. Why not, at a time when other cities are roaring ahead with their 3D virtual cities? Because the Ordnance Survey is still living in the 19th century, apparently.

“Scene Completion” software

Interesting stuff. Have a computer automatically do heavy retouching of a photograph, by selecting likely cloning sources from millions of similar images. The full-text paper is here… “Our algorithm is entirely data-driven, requiring no annotations or labelling by the user.” Combine this with better face-recognition software, and it could eventually be just a three-click operation […]


Bored during the long school holidays? Mediabox / Screen West Midlands are offering individuals aged aged 13-19… “grants (£100 to £80,000) to make creative media projects for film, television, radio, online, print and multimedia platforms.” Deadline is 18th September 07, 2pm. More info from: You could gather ideas for your application, and also sharpen […]

Off the map

It seems our Ordnance Survey map-reading skills are fairly dismal… “Over a third of motorists struggled to read a four-figure grid reference and a staggering 83 per cent failed to identify the “motorway” map symbol. … When tested on their map reading skills, only 1 per cent would pass the Cub Scout Map Reader badge…” […]

Ian Bogost

The U.S. National Public Radio interviews Ian Bogost, author of two of the best books on computer games in recent years. Get the free first chapter from his latest, here.

American Nerd

Benjamin Nugent is writing a forthcoming book called American Nerd: The Story of My People (Scribner, March 08). It’s said to be “a history of the nerd archetype, mixed with reporting on nerd subcultures and memoir”. He has a new weblog that sort-of trails the book, but which actually has the effect of putting me […]

Moving house

As a few readers will already know, I’m moving house. Hopefully at the end of August. It’s been a slow and time-consuming process that has basically taken up the entire summer, and will likely last until the uni term starts in September. Which I resent, in terms of taking away time and energy which would […]

Goverment tinkering kills Evesham

Oh that’s sad; Evesham was until recently probably the best of the UK’s PC suppliers, but it has reportedly just been bought out by Time, consistently one of the worst. The fate of Evesham, a Midlands-based company from Worcestershire, is not due to some arcane aspect of how free markets operate, but is a direct […]

Classic British films

I hear (a little late, apparently we’re already in “week 2”) that the BBC is showing a bevy of classic British films this summer, including some that very rarely have a TV outing. Not actually having a TV myself, I have nearly all of these on DVD or DVD-r already. But what a fine selection […]

Buttered cats

Nice; Greg Williams has over 30 Wikipedia entries interpreted as cartoon strips. [ Hat-tip: Drawn! ]

The Independents: Britain’s new cultural entrepreneurs

DEMOS has put The Independents: Britain’s new cultural entrepreneurs online as a free PDF. It’s a little dated now (1999), but should still be on the reading-list of those learning about the creative industries in the UK.

Virtual architecture

Mitch Wagner reports on a Second Life workshop that covered virtual architecture, and the new spoken-voice chat (still in beta). “Second Life architecture reproduces real-world architecture, even though the constraints of the virtual world are completely different from real-life architecture. Why do you need a roof in Second Life, for example? … Why have stairs […]

Bicycle thieves

Boris Johnson, on bicycle thieves. Spot on. “There are only a million regular cyclists in this country, and yet there were 439,000 bicycles stolen last year, and that is just the ones reported stolen.” Among his suggestions are “honeypot” entrapment bikes, placed so to get the thieves on multi-angle CCTV. And a clampdown on the […]


The Birmingham company Daden has a interesting focus and on-site widgets. They deal in consultancy about virtual worlds (Second Life, et al) and can also craft virtual personalities for you, such as speaking chatbots. Halo seems to be the main sample chatbot (created with Vhost‘s SitePal service), and she appears in front of backdrop featuring […]