My project for Amstel came to a conclusion on Tuesday night in Amsterdam this week (blog post talking about that coming soon). I took a load of photos of the event, including this series of people in the profile booths from the ground. I thought it made a nice collection of same but different images, and fun to see people’s methods of standing for six minutes behind a shower curtain, not to mention the wide array of footwear.


Amazon launches their eBook service (both hardware and software) tomorrow, a hand-held wireless device which allows you to download books to your Kindle reader, and then, well, read them, for around $9 a pop, not to mention monthly subscriptions to popular blogs etc. All for the tidy price of $400 (which at my reckoning is about 25 new paperbacks, or a hell of a lot more pengiun classics, not to mention scruffy second handers). It uses pretty cool digital ink technology, its pretty neat lookin’, and hey, its Jeff Bezos who is selling these, so they must be good, right?

Me, I’m not so sure. Maybe I’m not the right person to comment, I only bought my first piece of digital music recently. Yup, me, Technical Director of a digital agency, and general geek, only just got around to getting some of that new fangled mp3 action from the interweb. Okay, not quite true, I’ve ‘borrowed’ the occasional album from friends via mp3, and i rip all my CDs to mp3 immediately so I have my whole collection at work, but it wasn’t until last month that i actually bought something virtually rather than owning it in the meatspace (if you’re interested, it was a Lily Allen B side, which I kept hearing on Pandora.com, but hadn’t got with the album). Call me old fashioned, but I just like having, in my hands, cover notes, little booklet, crappy plastic case which breaks in the mail from amazon and all, the actual physical product. I think in the case of music, its because i still like digging through my old collection, and finding things i’ve not listened to in years (mostly due to embarassment). Books, however, are a completely different matter, one of pure emotive connection.

I love buying books. Worst case scenario for me is walking past a Waterstones or Borders after being in a pub, as I’ll nip in and come out 30 minutes later with usually more than a hundred quid of wares. I love the process of going into a store, and finding a book which I like the look of (yes, i judge a book by its cover, blurb and smell), browsing around, thumbing through, cocking my head by 90 degrees and scanning the shelves. Then, once you have the book you’ve chosen to read, breaking the spine, marking pages, folding it, holding it, showing people pages, running your finger across the edge of the pages making the flicking noise. Its almost as much as a physical experience as a literary one – and of course, its a non-digital experience. Ah, yes, its offline. Its a reflective media, rather than projective, you don’t get a headache, it doesn’t flicker, it doesn’t take a while to refresh, it doesn’t scroll or animate or beep or allow you to subscribe. It is a step away from my daily life, not in just the story itself, but the technology also.

Then you have the sharing, social aspect of the book, passing it on to a friend, recommending and lending, returning to an oft-read book, dusting off the sand from when you were on holiday with the book, hand written inscriptions and messages from the friend who bought it you, and its okay to take a book into the toilet, but a PDA? How about on the beach?

I’m usually an early adopter, or rather I spend far too much money on gadgets which will often have a shorter period of holding my interest than its battery lifetime, but I might just pass up on Amazon’s Kindle for the time being, until they can replicate the same total experience of reading a book – at which point, i’ll just have to choose between a book, and a PDA pretending to be a book.

Gmail and Permalinks

I use gmail all the time, both personally and at work. I have my personal domain forwarding all email to my gmail account, and equally my work accounts do the same. This allows me to use gmail as a webmail client (because our work exchange webmail is oh so lame), AND (here’s the killer app bit) my past however many years of work email is completely archived and searchable. This is increasingly becoming useful as people ask me the same question six months on, I can refer back to the original reply i sent them, along with a sarcastic remark along the lines of “you asked me this six months ago, here was my response then”. Where the wiki fails, gmail kicks in and helps out.

Google have recently added SWFAddress style permalinks to each mail as well, so if you don’t want to keep all of the detail of the thread in a wiki or document, you can now just link directly to the email discussion, et voila, there is your sarcastic remark material. Brilliant for moody matthew moments.

You can email/save/bookmark searches:


You can email/save/bookmark label queries for quick lookups:


You can link directly to an email



Probably not ideal for sharing, as its all material which is behind your authenticated account, but great for personal access to information.

Check out more top tips direct from the horse’s mouth

Impossible Park

impossible park

Another adidas football promo, this time for Germany. Our first dabble into Flash Media Server, although we actually ended up using Red5, an open source solution which seems to be doing the job fantastically well. We’re also hosting this on Positive Internet, a return to the giraffed ones, and using AMFPHP for the remoting framework, and hooking into adidas’ centralised user databases via an external interface we developed for them. A lovely technically very interesting project. Of course, its all in German, and I have no idea what they’re on about :)

Loos ARE important

Its good to know that i’m not alone in thinking bathrooms are important social spaces. Okay – not social in a ‘three people having a chat’ kinda way, but in terms of its place in our workspaces, and the time spent in the toilet. I’m really bad at taking screen breaks, in fact just breaks generally. I eat my lunch at my desk whilst reading RSS or catching up on emails, i return to my desk between turning the kettle on and pouring the boiling water into the mug, i generally spend between 8am and 6pm solidly in a working state of mind. Going to the toilet is, in my own way, a breakout area where work doesn’t really invade, and my mind can wander. I’ve always been one for having books or magazines in the toilet, and that a loo should be a comforting relaxing and almost meditation-worthy place. Maybe i take that too far, but in our world of open plan offices, in constant contact with the world via mobile, IM, email, or in person, going to the toilet and closing that door is a strangely comforting thing to do. I think some time should be dedicated to thinking about how a toilet space is designed in work environments to get that quick hit of non-workiness. I also think that if one has to go to the toilet for that quiet time, something is probably wrong with your workload or workspace anyway – but thats a different matter.

too much information?

“bathrooms are a key indicator of a team culture”

Red Gurnard

We ate at a fishworks restaurant in Battersea on Sunday night, and decided, as we do every time we eat fish, that we should be eating more, so that very moment, we purchased a couple of Red Gurnard to cook the following day. Apparantly, they’re being championed by Rick Stein currently – i just bought them because they looked funny.

We found a couple recipes:

* Baked Stuffed Red Gurnard
* Red gurnard salad with samphire and Jersey Royals
* Roasted Red Gurnard with Anchovy Butter
* Gurnard with Minted Pea Purée and Bacon
* Pan-fried Fillet of Gurnard served with a Lemon Herb Risotto and a Sun-dried Tomato Oil

but settled on making a lovely soup based on something in Catherine’s head. Tres nice.