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Books & Articles I wrote.

Thursday, August 11, 2005



I just booked myself a dedicated server with Enterhost.

Things are going to be moved across over the next couple of weeks and it will then give me the freedom to get some of my ideas online.

Things should be ok, but worth noting just in case.

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A laugh with Microsoft Office Dictation

Well, as i'm getting everying set upi thought i may as well go the whole way and use the ice features of Office 2003. It was really quite funny, but some cool things came out of it too.

If you haven't tried dictation or voice commands, i suggest you try it. Here is a line written completely by the dictation capabilities of Office (and i mean i put the cursor below this line and spoke everything else!):

this is the Microsoft office duties in a situation

this is the Microsoft office the patient application

this is the Microsoft office dictation application

[back typing again] The first one was done in my broad Scottish accent after some training. It certainly was in a sutuatuation - just don't know what? The second was me with a little bit of an "American accent" (helped along by you guys at IT Conversations) - who i was impersonation i have no idea!

The last one was a very "American accent" - aparently - well it worked. I don't know what an American accent sounds like as everytime i speak with someone in the US it sounds different, but my wife lived 7 years in Canada and i like to copy her sometimes (hey) - so i guess i got it spot on. I know you can train it many times, so i will update my Office install and see what happens.

However, i did like the commands. I said "File, New, Blank Document" and it actually worked each time. Very nice. I then told it to go to dictation, but then couldn't figure out how to tell it to go back to command again - it just wrote the word "command".

I'll play with it in the coming weeks and see if it actually becomes useful. I do like the idea of talking to my blog and it coming out as text. If i could record whilst on the road - say into my PDA or mobile phone - and then feed that through my engine which could write out what i said, then that may be pretty cool! Anyone tried this? After that you talk from your mobile to your blog. Easy stuff :)

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Lots of great comments - and Ajax reply ...

This is in reference to some comments on my earlier post.

Hi Thomas - love the resume site btw! I really just wanted to get some comments on the blog so i thought i'd be controversial :)

To answer your question:

I wonder, in the purest curiosity, how you were able to modify the web page
display in 1999. I did an Ajax-ish thing shortly after that and had to use (to
learn a little) Java to generate a decent display.

There were a few ways. Here is a great article that outlines some ideas back in Januaray 1998. It does focus on one browser and Xml was missing, but is we are to ignore the underlying parts of Ajax, the actual concept worked fine.

A common way which i wrote about in the old Active Web Magazine (from Pinnacle) a long time ago (it seems) is to use XHTML, CSS, DOM, XML, XSLT (a lot!) adn Javascript, with the XmlHttpRequest being one of Remote Scripting [1], RDS [2] and even fiddles of IFrames, hidden frames and such (granted this part is less than standard!). Here's an example from 2002 using Xml Request [3]. There are earlier examples around (we used them!).

Combined with Xml Rpc on the client (and server), you could make web apps and even Office apps much smarter. In fact Xml Rpc from the client (and later the IE Soap client) allowed you to do pretty much anything you want (bet you'll pull my up on cross-browser!! ;))

Michael Cornig of Microsoft (you still around??) even wrote Jsml (once found at jsml.net) which i saw demoed at Chris Sells Web Services DevCon in Boston some time back. This used the Ajax type concept to relay information back and from the server(s) using these techniques (and a MVC type model for the web). I don't know that it really took off, but it was certainly the start of some great thinking.

The POINT is that i love that this stuff is happening. Heck i used Xslt on the client when it was in the old working draft format - it was great! We then ended up at a point where there was little client work done at all (in fact even .Net 1.0 pushed this concept) but now we are moving back towards a smarter client that does more than just business validation (i've not read enough about how Ajax concepts will affect postback - or work with it - pointers anyone?).

I was just a little confused over why it was such a big deal. I guess what i take away from it is that a LOT of people are now doing this and as James points out in an mail he sent, there are some great ideas around it now - that is the real point.

In any case, i hope it continues. I'll be making sure more of it goes into my work. The old problem of working on other browsers is not a big issue. My biggest worry is that as we move to more ubiquitous devices (pda's etc) where there is limited support for these technologies, there may be some snags. But until then....

[1] http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/rmscpt/Html/rmscpt.asp

[2] http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/workshop/author/databind/datasources.asp

[3] http://jibbering.com/2002/4/httprequest.html

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hey, I'm a movie star

This morning i took our Sony Video Cam and linked it to the PC. Been testing some audio and video blogs to see how quality etc was - none public yet. I discovered a load of software that came with my Dell PC which i never had time to look at before. Some very cool stuff by Creative for capturing into an MP3 format. Ideal.

I will likely post an audio blog soon - maybe an introduction of who i am. If anyone understands my accent you will win some kind of prize. As for a video blog - thinking about that one - i looked at Vimeo a while ago. Again maybe an introduction, but the chances you want to look at my face are pretty low (no idea how i managed to slip "pretty" in there!) - what i will maybe try and do is capture some of where i live and put it someplace.

I'm thinking of hitting the road and talking with some people about things that interest me. No idea what format it will take, but it may be interesting. I don't wanna do something no-one is ever gonna want to hear or see so maybe i'll try a few things (ideas?).

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Complaint Virus - 1&1 admit to my email

Can i create a complaint virus??

If you had read the previous post about 1and.com, then you will maybe like to know how things are proceeding. Yesterday i received an email saying:
-----Original Message-----From: debt@1and1.co.uk [mailto:debt@1and1.co.uk] Sent: 10 August 2005 16:59
To: Steven Livingstone
Subject: C37344737 Your account

Dear Steven Livingstone, (Cust: 6989205)

Thank you for your email dated 10.08.2005.

We have received no other correspondence from you this is the only email we have received to date.

I would just like to inform you that no refund will be issued.

If an invoice has been raised for domain names before you terminate it will need to be settled even if you no longer require the domains. No refund will be raised for domain names as they have automatically been renewed under your name as they were still active at the time the invoice is raised.

If you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards
Farah Mir

Accounts Department
1&1 Internet Ltd.

What made me almost lose the plot was the part where they said i had not contacted them. I wrote a pretty off the wall email back to them which i won't preint to protect the young and innocent, but i told them i HAD emailed them, wasn't my fault if they contact management was awful and they were acting in a fraudulent manner by (a) charging me extra for a delayed payment which was their own fault and (b) holding information about me which i couldn't get access to (you now legally have to provide access to it when asked).

To my utter shock, i got this back:

-----Original Message-----From: debt@1and1.co.uk [mailto:debt@1and1.co.uk]
Sent: 11 August 2005 11:26To: Steven LivingstoneSubject: C37344737 your

Dear Steven Livingstone, (Cust: 6989205)

you for your email dated 10.08.2005.

Regarding your

I do appologise for any confusion caused I have looked into
your case. On 10.02.2005 you sent this:
> Hi - my domain name -
"googil.net" expires at the end of the week and the email address i used when i
registered is no longer my email.

Can you help me ensure that the
domain will be renewed and change my email address. Also i don't have an account
number of customer number, so how can i login??

A colleague
informed you of the setps and procedures, of how to change your email address,
how to receive your password online. Stiil if you had difficulties to fax
our techincal support team.

We received no reposne after

Regarding your other query:

>it is the
fraudulent way you charged my an extra £15. It is a drop in the ocean, but on
principle i will do what i can about this.

Please refer tou our
terms and conditions section 5.15
Customer accounts that are not settled by
20 days after due date will be passed to a debt recovery agency and will incur
an administration fee of £15.00.

If you would like to terminate
your account then please follow the steps and procedures below:

order to process a cancellation we require a signed document.
Please go to
http://contract.oneandone.co.uk and log in with your customer id and password,
when you are within here select the package that you would like to close, or
contains the domain name to close, and then follow the on screen steps.

At the end of the process a form is given to you, this form needs
to be signed and returned to the number 08450762206 WITHIN 7 DAYS, when we have
processed the fax we will send you an email for your confirmation that the
instructions have taken place.
Should the customer not receive email
confirmation of their termination within 14 days of their request date the
customer is responsible for contacting the company to ensure the termination has
been received

PLEASE NOTE. If an invoice has been raised for
domain names before you terminate it will need to be settled even if you no
longer require the domains. No refund will be raised for domain names as
they have automatically been renewed under your name as they were still active
at the time the invoice is raised. Any unused hosting charges will be refunded
but a charge will stand from the date the invoice is raised until the date of

If you have any further questions do not
hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards

Accounts Department
1&1 Internet

You can also contact us via phone at 08708
from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday

So, not only is apologize spelled incorrectly, but they are now ADMITTING i emailed them, but saying they got back in touch with ME - oh no reference to any email, time etc. In fact he says they had said i could FAX them - i haven't used a flamin fax machine for years, so i wouldn't have wanted this as advice in any case.

So now i've got back to them asking them to send me the email they sent me - which i never received. But i'm being quasi-nice about it all.

Farah - can you forward me the mail from the colleague who advised me. I
can assure you I never received such information. As I had said, I sent you an
email. You said I had not :

" We have received no other
correspondence from you this is the only email we have received to

Now after looking into your records, you see that in fact I
did send you such a mail.

This in fact is the basis of the problem
- now whose statements hold more ground? If you can send me the email, with date
and time, which was sent to me and I can match it to my archives then I will
accept full responsibility.

This is irrespective of terms and
conditions as you now admit I did in fact try to contact you to resolve this
situation. At least now we are moving.

Best Regards,
steven :: Release 2.0 ::

They are still coming out with the bullshit that it was up to me. Well, BT merged with Yahoo and my email account got screwed due to some obscure merging of account information. So then i contact them to tell them so and then they say i had never sent such a mail, only for them to uncover it when they actually have a look!

It's pointless to me as i've paid the money, but for YOU and any of their future customers, people MUST know that this company is conning people. Even the fact that to cancel i must now send in written notice is a joke - why could they not have contacted me with written notice to renew the domain? I would happily have signed. End of story.

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Google Freezing Browser?

Nathan Weinberg pointed to a few hugely useful discussions on the possibility that the new Google toolbar may be breaking stuff. See his blog for the links, but i have DEFINITELY noticed this. I have been doing a lot of research lately and when i write an email or go post something i find all my browser sessions freeze and so all windows close.

I get round this by open a new IE instance from the desktop and this launches a new process (i'm sure you used to be able to state this in the options, but i can't find it now?).

However, this has lost me a few hours over the last 2 weeks - i had assumed it was my gant disrespect of the OS by installing whatever new thing came to my attention. But I haven't installed anything significant that would affect the browser since the Google toolbar - and the crashing was almost immediate.

Anyone else experiencing this? Help!?

 @ 9.15 AM : Unistalled the Google Toolbar. Will try without it for a few hours as the crashing happens at least twice an hour.

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Google Maps and Local Information

Brad Feld posted about judysbook.com so I went to have a look. It is yet another move in the direction of localized information and combined with a collaborative Wiki type environment as something like Dan Gillmor's Bayosphere, there seems to be a huge move towards people taking control of their own cities/towns/regions and so on.

Certainly the Wisdom of Crowds seems to indicate this will only benefit everyone. I do have two questions:

1. Can a site that incorporates so many of these features in the one place work better than an collaborative view that integrates multiple providers? So i see reviews, articles, forums, friends and so on all of which you could argue already exist (the articles could be a Bayosphere equivalent). Perhaps this feature rich environment will work better in a localized environment than it does on the web. I find it hard to focus on exactly what i want to get out of something when i see a bunch of disparate features, but perhaps because this is localized it will work better. You can zoom in on the things related to where you are.

2. Can Google maps scale? Technically, i don't doubt it. Apparently they developed some kind of search engine that scales pretty well. However, when i look at a map i see a bunch of baloons everywhere (much like my old graduation photo:)) - it makes me kinda dizzy and clicking on any one of them is tricky as they overlap. As more people come on board you can imagine this getting out of control. I wonder what kind of filters people will start to apply to make these maps readable.

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StartUp in Africa

First of all, thanks for mentions from Dave and Nelson. Nice to get my 15 hyperseconds of fame.

I read Business 2.0 "A Real Angel Investor" the other day and just remembed to check out Village Enterprise Fund. In short :
Village Enterprise Fund (VEF)is an international development organization that
provides permanent seed capital in $100 increments to business start-ups in the
developing world. We are currently active in Africa, in Kenya, Tanzania and
Uganda, where we have country offices and a talented African management team.

This is a fantastic idea. If you read the story and check their site you'll see the success they can achieve. I also wonder whether they could take it one step further. Whether they could build a community of people who not only donate a little money, but actually work in a community environment to help businesses. So you become a consultant (for free) for a set of businesses based on your experience. You get a profile of the business, regular updates and are there to help with business questions. I'm not suggesting for a minute there aren't people there who could do this - more that as a global community this would work even better - and all for a good cause.

In fact, taking the next step would allow some of these businesses to expand/partner into other countries via the network of resources that could be tapped.

I think it's a great idea and hope it accomplishes its goals!

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Ajax - am i missing something?

I have seen zillions of articles, chats and so on surfacing on Ajax and to be honest i haven't really looked into it much other than reading some overviews.

I DID read something saying it was a "new way of programming" - in fact i have read that a few times. Then this is quoted:

HUH? New? I have just left an application that puts £110 Million per year through it and has been using "Ajax" since 1999. In fact the early work i did when Dave Winer was created XML RPC which was a pre-cursor to SOAP also used these techniques. There was also the possibility to do this with Remote Scripting which we used since '97 and passed around structures (later moving to Xml).

Seriously, am i missing something? If so tell me. Otherwise it seems to me that people are just discover something i have assumed they all knew???

Maybe this starts to make me understand Dare and Tim Bray when they say there are some weird fekin things happening out there!!

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todays taghop linkblogs

All blogged at http://taghop.com

"last.fm" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=449
"Barbelith" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=448
"UpMyStreet" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=447
"EveryHit" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=446
"Ten Hour Takeover" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=445
"Wikicities" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=444
"Kijiji" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=443
"Meetro" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=442
"YouTube" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=441
"Peekaboom" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=440
"UCINET 6" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=439
"Pic2Vid" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=438
"Veoh Networks" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=437
"ONTV" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=436
"Simply Hired" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=435
"Yahoo Audio Search" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=434
"Ta-da List" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=433
"Supr.c.ilio.us" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=432
"IT Conversations" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=431
"You’re It!" @ http://taghop.com/taghop/viewtag.aspx?tagid=430

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Jimmy Wales on Collaboration

Spot On!

"Software that enables collaboration is the future of the net."

Jimmy Wales
President & Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Source : ETech 2005 Chat

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Late night listening

Well it's late here and i can't sleep, so popped over to IT Conversations to continue my listening on ETech 2005.

Excellent content - hopefully i can get my PocketPC working again so i can get these on the move!

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