Archive for September, 2005

Bob Dylan, Martin Scorsese, Steve Jobs: thank you

September 27, 2005


“No Direction Home” was aired last night on both the BBC in the UK and PBS in the USA – part II is tonight. Fantastic; thank you to Bob Dylan (for obvious reasons), Martin Scorsese (for making the film and/or compiling/editing all that wonderful rare footage from others), and Steve Jobs for underwriting the operation.

There’ll be thousands of reviews on the web; I liked this commentary by Simon Schama in the Guardian, which comments on his political side, among other things. In my opinion, if you were from that era and/or a Dylan fan and/or interested in “the 60’s”, then the shows or the DVD are absolutely essential viewing. If not, they’ll only be an insignificant blip on your radar.

My take: yep, I was there too at the time (Dave Van Ronk, Cafe Wha?, etc.), then hunkered down in my basement, while the grownups above shouted “what the hell is that horrible noise down there?” Watching “No Direction Home” last night, one of the many pleasant surprises (in addition to the great footage) was the fact that most of the key protagonists are now old enough to reflect back in a fairly matter-of-fact fashion without that annoying overlay of ‘attitude’ and ‘smart-aleck anti-media-commentary’ that ruined similar attempts in the past. In addition to a number of tear-jerker moments (Joan Baez and Bob Dylan singing a duet of “With God On Our Side” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963), there are plenty of soft-focus closeups of the young baby-faced Bobby the Z that will (if you cared enough to read this far) bring a big beaming smile to your face.

I’ll be glued to part II tonight.

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BuddySpace Web Client

September 22, 2005


KMi’s popular Instant-Messaging-Meets-Maps service, BuddySpace, has been simplified with the launch of a new ‘Web Client’ interface. The new interface requires no downloads, no installations, and not even a modern browser or speedy internet connection.

The idea is to ‘run anywhere’, ‘by anyone’, ‘using any computer’ with ‘any installed software base’ (within reason, naturally). The only requirement is a plain-vanilla web browser of any vintage, and any internet connection.

It will support any Jabber user with a valid login on any Jabber server, and includes SSL support, but bear in mind that it is deliberately feature-limited, intended for (i) first-time users; (ii) intermittent testers; (iii) mission-critical ‘on the road’ use, e.g. at a conference venue or internet cafe where there is no alternative.

For more sophisticated users, there is also an optional ‘small-footprint’ downloadable widget to sit in your system tray (Windows only right now for the widget, but the client itself runs on anything) – the widget acts as your presence/radar alert for incoming notifications and presence status updates, so you can run that in the background without needing to launch the web client.

Read the KMi Planet story about it; or just launch it.

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Google Earth user uncovers villa

September 21, 2005

In a Guardian article by David Allen, 21s September 2005, we read that a Google Earth user was browsing some satellite imagery

of the region around his town of Sorbolo, near Parma, when he noticed a shaded oval area more than 500 metres (1,640ft) long, which marked the path of an ancient river. He reasoned that curious rectangular shadows nearby must be a buried structure and alerted the National Archaeological Museum of Parma.

Prestomundo… he was right!

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Disaster Map Info Sites

September 5, 2005

Several informative disaster info sites have been running for a while now in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so this post is a little late to the table … but in case it’s helpful, I’ll post this pointer to a valuable site, that in turn links to some others:

Katrina Information Map (includes post-Katrina satellite images)

This map is intended for the use of people affected by Hurricane Katrina who have or are trying to find information about the status of specific locations affected by the storm and its aftermath. If you have information about the status of an area that is not yet on the map, please contribute by following the instructions below so that others may get that much needed information.

This is a powerful citizen-reporting/self-help use of Google Maps, with intermixed map, satellite photo, and personal information updates and requests for further information. I’ve included a typical ‘non-flood’ example above: others are, regrettably, much more sombre.

Updated images are also available on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’s National Geodetic Survey page.

I’ve generally found the live radio feed from WWL in New Orleans (look for the ‘listen live’ button on the left) to be very informative.

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