Flickr Wish

I have a single wish item on Flickr (of course it’s otherwise perfect….).

When exploring tags, you often get a whole load of pictures from the same person. If they’re trigger happy, that means browsing through tens or hundreds of photos by the same photographer who happened to bulk upload their snaps.

Example? Today I went looking through the photos of Scheveningen. One user, patndrepics has posted what must be at least 100 pictures of the fireworks on the beach. It’s not their fault, since uploading your photos is precisely what you’re supposed to do! But for the casual browser who might not be interested in seeing more than a couple of similar pics this is tedious.

What’s needed perhaps is a ‘skip user’ option, that ignores the user’s photos from the browsing list temporarily.

Or, if you want to be smart about it, only show the latest two or three photos max from each user for that tag. With a ‘see more from this user…’ option.

Flickr is incredibly open (in the “you don’t like it, why not write your own interface?” sense), so I might have a go.

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BBC Local TV

Hadn’t noticed this one before. The BBC have been trialling Local TV in the West Midlands. It’s a tighter audience than the current regional setup (South Today for instance covers a triangular area from the west of Dorset, up well past Oxford into the Midlands, and down to Brighton area).

I hope they found success. It seems they have enough material coverage too. The bulletins at ten minutes a-piece seemed to cover a lot of detail.

The local websites (for example are okay, but never seem to carry enough relevant news. Often I’ll check the BBC site for information about an event or recent newsworthy incident and find there’s nothing there. Portsmouth News tend to skimp on their online news coverage as well, but of course they want you to buy their paper.

The local area has already been blessed with three local TV stations. SixTV in Portsmouth & Southampton, and Solent TV (for the Isle of Wight) have been with us for a few years, although in the times I’ve been in those places the reception hasn’t been great for any of them so I can’t really tell you whether they’re of any use or not!

ITV have also been in on the game, with ITV Local growing quite substantially in the last few months. Their local coverage for the Meridian region (again, southern England) is very good, and the Internet quality is excellent;quite watchable.

It’ll be interesting to see how local television pans out. The cost of setup, production and broadcast now seem to have reached a point where it becomes viable to run at such local levels. Of course advertising can be more directly targeted to individual areas, and surely people are more likely to turn to their city news than their regional news if the quality is good enough.

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Birmingham Canal

Last month I posted about an interesting timelapse video of Panama Canal.

Andrew Denny writes to tell me he has also created a timelapse on the canals – this time of himself, a couple of friends and his canalboat, Granny Buttons touring the Birmingham Canals in 2001. More info about his 24 hour journey here and the actual video (it’s a four-parter) is here on YouTube.

Also via Andrew, this timelapse of 30 canal locks on the Tarbigge Flight, from rdhs100

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Back in Netherlands

Last night I got back into the Netherlands, after an 11 hour train journey across seven trains and four countries (long story, had to make a stop in Staines)

Flying is definitely easier and less tiresome but slinging my camera into the hold didn’t seem like an appealing idea.

Anyway, it gave me a chance to do what I enjoy most when coming to the continent – travelling by Eurostar business class.

Normally I travel coach everywhere because, y’know, I’m not made of money, but for £50 extra (£210 instead of £160) you get quite a lot more.

First of all there’s the leg room – I have a tough time in standard class Eurostar. I’m on the tall side of the population and, like planes and buses, the train is a bit of a squeeze sometimes. It really does the knees no favours.

Then there’s the screaming kid factor. In fact, it was completely silent in business.

The free booze in the lounge and on the train didn’t hurt. The on-board freshly-cooked salmon didn’t hurt either.

Plus, the carriage has been practically empty both times I’ve travelled. This time I asked if I could sit on a four seater when I booked. ‘No problem, sir’. So for the entire time I was sprawled out across a large table with mains power supply hacking away on the laptop, listening to my music, chomping salmon and drinking Chardonnay. Nice.

I probably raised an eyebrow or two when I turned up in baggy shirt and jeans though. Oh well. Did I mention the free booze?

You know it’s a classy joint when the graffiti in the toilets is written in Latin.

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Hello Slough

Thanks to Google Analytics (free web stats service) which I’ve been running on this blog for a few months now, I can tell that I have a particularly high concentration of readers in Slough. Hello.

Unfortunately, IP address geo-location still isn’t brilliant. But you can hardly blame them. For every dynamic IP block there might be users from across the country using that IP at different times, so you may as well just say ‘somewhere in the UK’. Usually it seems that the geo people just use the ISP’s headquarters or dial-in POP as a reference.

Static and ‘sticky’ IPs are more accurate, since you know the user of the IP is not likely to change location. These tend to be quite precise (I have a few from Fareham and Gosport). If you look at NTL reverse DNS entries, for example, you can normally narrow it down to the local POP (so all Fareham IPs are based in Portchester, which is basically Fareham anyway).

Google Analytics by the way is now available for all – you can sign up here.

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I’ve been using OpenDNS for roughly a month now. Found it on the net just at the point I was having problems with the DNS of my ISP. It’s a simple enough proposition – use their DNS service and reap the benefits of smart, fast global domain resolution.

It does bits and pieces like typo correction and searching (think Verisign) – only this you can disable! It also has a pretty great phishing detector – nice idea!

Anyway, just to show how reliable this system is I’d completely forgotten all about it until I mistyped a domain name today, got the OpenDNS page and remembered I’d been using it al this time. The service is so reliable and quick on a fairly fundamental function that I completely forgot about it – that’s a good thing!

Looks like they’re continuing to find success as well – 2.4 billion requests at the moment and rising sharply.

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Interesting Windows Problem

Here’s an interesting little problem I encountered the other day. Your keyboard starts behaving strangely – for example pressing the ‘ apostrophe key doesn’t seem to work, but following it with a letter produces a strange foreign character. I was writing some code in a basic text editor, and it was driving me nuts when [‘i’] was ending up as [í’]

Turns out this is due to a special keyboard type in Windows called International English. There are five modifier keys ` ‘ ” ~ ^ which modify the display of the following character.

Somehow this ‘feature’ kept activating itself (maybe a key combination?) You can remove it by switching your keyboard language to US/UK English (or your local equivalent).

I always find the Keyboard Language control tool in a slightly odd place in WIndows. It’s not under Control Panel > Keyboard (Why on earth not?). It’s under Regional and Language Options, in the Languages tab and press the Details button.

Once I’d found the cause of the irritation in Google, I ended up at

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Why oh why do I need to login with Yahoo! every time I visit (sometimes twice). It’s the single most annoying thing on Flickr (and, by definition, at Yahoo! too).

In theory it’s a great idea, for people who move around a lot between public computers. However, I’m finding it increasingly frustrating when publishing to Flickr – having to deal with a bloody great password dialog every time really disrupts the flow of things.

Why can’t they add a ‘Remember Me’ checkbox – something for people who don’t share their computer. This really makes me regret merging my Yahoo! and Flickr accounts.

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