Robert Hampton

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February 2010

7th February 2010

Iris-ked everything for you
Posted by at 7.19pm | Liverpool | No responses

Various web sites have been buzzing with the news that the former Mersey Ferry, Royal Iris, has ended up half-sunken and derelict in a London dock.

Royal Iris tied up in London, 2006

Some people may struggle to understand the emotions here: on the face of it, it’s just a boat that took people from Liverpool to Wallasey. And let’s face facts, its design was never going to win a beauty contest. But for many Merseysiders, the Royal Iris is not just a ferry, it’s an icon of Scouse culture. This is mainly thanks to the regular cruises it operated during the Merseybeat era, where passengers would receive dinner and an afternoon’s entertainment from one of the leading Liverpool bands. Even the Beatles performed on board on a few occasions. It’s a very sad state of affairs to see it ending its days like this.

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11th February 2010

Weakest Link
Posted by at 8.30pm | Meta | No responses

It appears that most of the web site (this one, that you’re reading right now) has broken. The blog appears to be OK, but everything else is throwing up PHP errors. Please bear with me while I try to fix it.

12th February 2010

Facebook login

I’ve posted before about the dangers of trusting Google to deliver you to the right place, and the “Facebook login” fiasco shows why it’s a problem.

Details are in the link above, but in a nutshell: the web site ReadWriteWeb posted an article with the title “Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Login”. That page quickly rose to the top of Google’s search results for Facebook login. Soon RWW were inundated with confused facebook users who believed that they had landed on Facebook’s login page and thought that they had fallen victim to one of the frequent redesigns that people love to complain about so much. The comment thread to that post is a sight to behold.

The question is: why didn’t they just type into their browser’s address bar directly? The answer, I suspect, is that a lot of people simply don’t know how to do this. For many people “Google = Internet”, the same way “Microsoft = Computer” is commonplace (or certainly was until recently).

They never bother to bookmark sites, preferring to use Google to find everything. This fiasco has demonstrated, in the most hilarious way possible, why that it is a bad thing, especially when the same users seemingly believe Google even when it throws up an obviously bad result.

It’s no wonder phishing and other scams are so commonplace with this level of internet literacy. It would be a good idea for Google and other big players on the Internet to embark on a programme of education in this area.

22nd February 2010

Because the police have nothing better to do
Posted by at 5.48pm | In the News | 1 response

From The Register:-

A Twitter user who posted a “joke” bomb threat against a UK airport could be jailed after pleading guilty to sending a menacing message.

Paul Chambers, 26, of Balby, Doncaster, admitted posting an ill-considered message onto Twitter about Robin Hood Airport, South Yorkshire, on 6 January after the airport closed as a result of unusually heavy snow.

He’s also been banned from Robin Hood Airport for life, thus forcing him to go elsewhere to catch Ryanair flights to Alicante. But a jail sentence for this? Really? Surely there are there more pressing crimes than this which need the attention of the justice system? Utter madness.

28th February 2010

Big Blundering Cutbacks
Posted by at 11.10pm | In the News, Radio | 1 response

The BBC is reportedly axing 6Music and the Asian Network (actually they’re axing far more than that, according to the leaked report which the Times gleefully printed). My exposure to BBC 6Music has been limited to the Adam and Joe podcasts, so on the face of it I shouldn’t be bothered by the threatened closure. But I am, and I will try to explain why.

The BBC’s digital channels have long been a target for the corporation’s enemies. In the early days the Daily Mail criticised the BBC for wasting money on channels which no-one watched (and, given that BBC Choice launched in September 1998 before any digital TV receivers became available for the public to buy, they did briefly have a point). Last year, Sky boss James Murdoch criticised the BBC’s expansion. And of course there is a long list of BBC Three programme titles ready to be dropped into a Richard Littlejohn piece at the right point.

The BBC’s radio stations generally, meanwhile, have come in for criticism from commercial rivals. This ignores the fact that, almost without exception, commercial radio is total crap (or should that be Absolute crap?) with unimaginative playlists, annoying presenters, far too many adverts and “local” stations which are often broadcast from a playout server 200 miles away from their licence area. And that’s just music radio, not speech — if BBC Radio 4 closed down tomorrow, would GCap Media step in with their own replacement?

The real problem here is that no-one (including, it seems, BBC management) knows what the corporation is supposed to be doing. Is it supposed to broadcast entertainment and information for the masses (in which case, CLOSE IT DOWN because commercial channels can do that) or is it supposed to broadcast niche programmes of interest to a small minority (in which case, CLOSE IT DOWN because satellite or cable channels funded by subscription can do that)?

My own view is that the BBC is funded by everyone, and therefore has the opportunity (and in fact a responsibility) to be all things to all people. That’s why I’m trying to avoid a “How can the BBC axe (x) when they spend millions on (y)“-type post (where (x) is a show I like, and (y) is probably Top Gear), because programme (y) is going to be of interest to someone, even if it’s not me. Stations like 6Music and the Asian Network are an essential part of that “something for everyone” mix.

The Tories, unsurprisingly, welcomed the move. An incoming Conservative government (I know, I’m scared too) is likely to impose far more radical cuts on the BBC (and everything else, for that matter), so this could just be the start of a very painful period for Auntie.