Blog Archive

27 May 2007

It's just not cricket...

A few months ago I was invited on an outing to see some cricket. Since I’m not into cricket, I declined the offer. Then someone explained that “watching cricket” actually just involves lots of drinking, so I obviously accepted.

It’s now 19:00 on a Sunday evening. We’ve been awake for around twelve hours and have been drinking alcoholic beverages for approximately eight of those, some since before 9:00! It’s been raining all day too, which means we’ve seen no cricket whatsoever (except for some old highlights they showed on TV). Are we bothered? Not really. We’ve had fun, cricket or not.

Here are some points for discussion though:

Why does HotPhil keep interrupting me? (Just because he’s already written his post perhaps?)

Why didn’t they put a few more carriages on our train from Sheffield to Leeds when they knew it was going to be packed like it is every year because everyone’s going to watch the cricket?

Why didn’t they build a roof over the stadium when they knew that they were building it in the North of England where it will obviously rain whenever a test match is scheduled?

Why did Chris Hill go home so early? (Cos he was hammered, perhaps?)

Why does Coco Smiley McRiley keep denying his Scottish heritage?

Is live blogging actually a good idea when you’ve been drinking all day?

Labels: ,

22 May 2007

The Boardwalk, Sheffield: 11th May 2007

The problem with blogs is that when you’re busy, you have more to blog about but less time to blog because you’re busy. So you have to wait until you’re not so busy and then you can’t remember exactly what you were going to say. I’ve started to write this three times now. Maybe I’d be better of live-blogging when I go to gigs, although past experiences have taught me that alcohol and technology do not go together...

Anyway, a few of us went to The Boardwalk in Sheffield a week last Friday to watch saw more bands. We only caught the last two, but here’s a brief account of what I remember about them...

Labels: ,

16 May 2007

Google Searchology: The Future of Search

At the “Searchology” press conference that was just held by Google, Marissa Mayer made several important announcements regarding the future of search at Google.

First of all, Google are updating their infrastructure and algorithms to integrate all their different search engines into one single Universal Search experience. To start with, this will include results from Book Search, Blog Search, Image Search, Local, News and Video.

Using the video example, we saw an interface that seemed to be an extension of their PlusBox feature, showing how they plan to embed videos directly in the search engine results page, just as Ionut Alex. Chitu spotted earlier today. According to Marissa, this is currently only live on some data centers at the moment but should be rolled out to all data centers tomorrow.

In their second announcement, Marissa confirmed that Google will be adding the Contextual Navigation Links which we’ve already seen recently in interface prototypes, like the Maps link in this example:

Continuing on their “interfaces and navigation” theme, next to be announced was the Universal Navigation Bar which we’ve also seen being tested recently:

Marissa explained that this bar will show its “nearest neighbors” – meaning that when you’re on different pages, you’ll see different links. For example, if you’re on a search engine results page, you’ll see links to Images and News, as you’re likely to want links to other search results, but if you’re using Gmail you’ll see links to Calendar and Documents instead. Personally, I’d like to see consistency across all pages – and even be able to choose my own links.

Both these navigational features should be available later today.

Next, Marissa unveiled a new service whereby users will be able to add experimental features to their search results – such as timeline and map views, keyboard shortcuts, left-hand search navigation and right-hand contextual search navigation – and actively give feedback to Google about your experiences.

Part of Google Labs, the Google Experimental home page is now available at although sign-ups won’t be live until next week. If nothing else, it’s good to see that we’ll finally know what to call these experimental features and interface tests!

Another announcement that could easily have gone unnoticed was that Google will soon be launching a way to search in one language and receive results from foreign language websites translated on the fly.

Cross Language Information Retrieval, as Google are calling it, will initially be launched in just 12 languages. By using their statistical machine translation technology, Google will apparently translate your search query into other languages and then search websites written in other languages using your translated query.

For more information, read Google’s official press release: Google Begins Move to Universal Search

Labels: ,

15 May 2007

Zelda Fishing Task on the Wii

One of the games I bought for my Wii was The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I figured it would be a good game to try out some of the different capabilities of the Wii controllers.

Last Saturday, still hungover from the night before, I decided to give it a go. Three hours later, I was still stuck on the fishing task. No matter how hard I tried to think like a 12 year old (the game’s rating is 12+) I just couldn’t yank that fish out of the water – and that’s when I managed to hook one! Aimlessly dangling a pretend fishing rod in a pretend fishing pond wasn’t what I’d bought a Wii for!

The following morning we had a visit from the elusive blog commenter known as “S Crayon” who wanted to see what the Wii was like. Within a couple of minutes, he had FISH ON! flashing up on the screen. A few more minutes later and he couldn’t stop catching fish! I guess this means he has a lower mental age than me or something. How else could he have done it?

Anyway, I’m guessing there may be other Wii owners out there who are struggling with this task (surely it can’t be just me, can it?) so here’s what you need to do:

  1. Cast your line into the pond
  2. Dangle it around, bobbing the float on top of the water
  3. When you see that the line is moving, pull your controller up and leave it up
  4. If you don’t get a bite within a minute or two, try again

I was going wrong at the third stage by constantly waving my controller up and down, trying to yank the fish out of the water. I also just sat there for hours waiting for another fish to bite.

Having never been fishing, I clearly had no idea what I was doing. I wonder if I’d have the same problem with Red Steel since I’ve never had to save anyone from being kidnapped by Japanese mobsters either...

Labels: ,

14 May 2007

We Wii? Oui!

Ah yes... I forgot to tell you all that I’m now the proud owner of a stupidly named Nintendo Wii.

A few weeks ago, this article dropped into Google Reader confirming that Guitar Hero III would be available for the Wii later this year. The mention of downloadable tracks and online play immediately sold the console to me! I’d already decided a while back that I needed a new gadget but, like many others, I didn’t fancy spending £425 on a PS3, so the Wii was now the obvious choice. In fact, I actually had some change left over after I sensibly sold my Xbox and PSP since I’d not played on either for months. (I’d also heard a rumour that Sony was going to drop the list price for PSPs soon so decided to get rid of mine sooner rather than later while it was still worth more than a tenner...)

However, little did I know how difficult it was to actually find a Wii to buy! Luckily for me, I know people. And we all know that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So when an Argos store in Hull got two delivered, one of them had my name on it!

What’s so good about the Wii?

WiiI guess the controller’s the obvious thing to mention. Waving your arms around not only makes games more interesting, but it helps to keep you fit and seems to amuse anyone who might be watching you through your lounge window too. Wii Sports and Wii Play are both ideal games for learning how to use the remote in different ways. The graphics might not be breathtaking but who really cares? It’s backwards compatible with the Nintendo GameCube (not that it matters to me) and you can also buy points to download old NES, SNES, N64, Sega Mega Drive and PC games for it. If that’s not enough, you can also browse the Internet (the Opera-powered Internet Channel software is free at the moment) and the Google Reader team have even launched an interface especially for the Wii!

And there’s more... If any of your friends have a Wii, you can add their Wii number to your contacts and watch their Mii mingle with yours. Since Christian managed to find a Wii, we’ve now got Mr and Mrs Briddon wandering around our TV screen in the Mii Parade.

Seriously, geeks have never had so much fun!

[Image from]

Labels: , ,

9 May 2007

Google Blog Search and Link Text

Google states:

[Google] Blog Search indexes blogs by their site feeds

So when I recently started to receive Google Blog Search alerts for Digg articles that didn’t contain any of my search terms, I figured I’d found a bug, posted about it in the forum and emailed the Google Alert and Google Blog Search teams. After receiving more of these alerts on a daily basis, and having heard nothing from Google, I decided to investigate if there was a reason for this.

The search phrase in question was my name in double quotes, so it was quite obvious to me that this phrase didn’t appear in any of the feed items being returned. After carrying out a few searches, I discovered a blog* that was automatically aggregating RSS feeds from Digg and Google Blogoscoped (amongst others). However, due to a bug in their code, my name was occasionally being used as the link text for various Digg articles whenever I was incorrectly identified as the post’s author.

Since this was the only way my name could have been linked to the Digg articles being returned in the search results, it’s pretty obvious that Google Blog Search doesn’t just index blogs based on their feeds; it also quite clearly uses link text from other feeds (or perhaps just other web pages) probably in a similar way to their web search.

Although this produced irrelevant results for me in this instance, the theory is good. Presuming link text is relevant, this should improve Google Blog Search results. However, I think this raises some interesting questions:

What does this mean for SEO? Will webmasters now start to focus their efforts on getting inbound links from third-party feeds?

* Rather than being one of those annoying blogs that “borrows” RSS content in order to generate revenue, the owner of this blog states, “i am not scraping content for money reasons, just because i am lazy to visit the blogs every day.”

Labels: ,

7 May 2007

What is Google WWW10?

It’s been a while since my last post about new Google services, so here’s one you can speculate about...

I found this completely by accident when I typed in which redirected to the ServiceLogin page for WWW10.

I suppose WWW10 could simply mean Web 2.0 – since “WWW” means “World Wide Web” and 10 is 2 in binary – although that obviously doesn’t help explain what it might actually be. Does anyone want to take a guess?

Anyway, I’ve added it to my list of growing Google Account Service Names which now includes several services that are yet to be named, including fiji, gam, rs2, ssd, weaver and wf.