06 Mar 2011 @ 3:49 PM 

A lot is said these days of citizen journalism and the rise of social media replacing old media institutions that don’t move with the times. While this year has seen a groundswell of change in the Middle East, in part assisted by these new Internet based methods of organisation and information dissemination, let us not forget the need that still exists for the profession of journalism and the impact of the failure this profession has had on society in the last decade.


The main case in evidence that I refer to is the case made for the regime change in Iraq. Certainly no one can rationally state that there was not evil and corruption present within that country and that something needed to be done. However, the reasons that were given for the action taken in 2003 and the lack of detailed analysis and coverage did not do honour to the individuals involved who sacrificed so much.


But this has happened and much has been claimed, discussed, refuted and the like over the rights and wrongs of the event. Little could be said in this posting that hasn’t already been covered in far greater detail elsewhere.


The one thing that does concern me that seems to have had little to no coverage is the fact little has changed with the media and journalistic institutions since then. The example that illustrates this is the lack of coverage given to an article in the UK Guardian of an interview with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi. Codenamed “Curveball”, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi provided evidence ultimately used by Colin Powell in his speech to the UN on the case for war with Iraq. The recent article in the Guardian is an interview in which Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi admits that these were lies told with the purpose of helping to prompt the action that we saw taken in 2003.


Why is this not receiving more coverage? It could be easily argued that the ramifications of this lie has had impact (both negative and positive) to thousands of lives across many countries. Doesn’t it deserve a few more “column inches” that what we are seeing? Shouldn’t the media organisations who in 2002 blindly accepted the corporate line have the courage to admit their errors and pledge in future to do their jobs in helping to maintain a free and truthful press?


A transparent and accurate media is one of the most important tools in maintaining freedom. Let’s not let it disappear



Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 09 Mar 2011 @ 07:15 AM

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 11 Feb 2011 @ 10:09 PM 
Google Art Project

Google Art Project

Launched recently with next to no publicity is Google’s interesting new application of the technology perfected with Google Street View call the Google Art Project (http://www.googleartproject.com/).

Instead of driving down your street taking photographs, Google have removed the Street View rig off the van (hopefully!) and gone into a number of world renowned art galleries.

The concepts is the same as Street View, only applied to the gallery and the art displayed within. The site will give you the opportunity to take a tour around the selected art gallery in the same way you could tour around a select street.

As I said, this has been fairly under reported in general and the news that you can find on the site seems to be a little picky about the implementation and the concept in general (see Google Art Project is underwhelming, Google Art Project is second rate and Is the Google Art Project the best thing since real eyes: Critics respond). Also let’s not forget that in this day and age there is little that is genuinely new; Synethescape have also come up with a similar and very functional concept themselves.

But when all is said and done, I think there are two things that should be noted about this project. Firstly, art should be for everyone and not just those in close proximity to it. This isn’t a replacement for a trip to an art gallery by any means, but makes far away galleries and artwork more accessible to anyone with a computer or a local Internet cafe. Also, like most Google project I would expect that this takes a similar “beta” approach. Try it out, throw it to the public and see what works. It has served them well so far (minus a few exceptions…. Wave does come to mind!)

Secondly, and I think more importantly this demonstrates a potentially lucrative commercialisation of the Street View technology. Taking the camera off the street and into a building can provide a number of opportunities for business of all kinds. Imagine being able to virtually enter the world’s biggest and most famous stores from the comfort of your own keyboard. Being able to buy “off the rack” from Harrods or London, or Bloomingdale’s of New York. Being able to click on a store item and then be redirected to an online shopping portal to purchase the product that you just virtually selected.

I don’t think we are there yet, but I do believe it presents and interesting amount of scope for the future of the online shopping experience. As altruistic as the Art Project may be, remember Google likes making money too!

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 13 Feb 2011 @ 09:31 PM

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 24 Apr 2010 @ 10:19 PM 

An interesting new tool currently in beta is Tom’s Planner. This tool allows you to create gantt chart online completely within the site. Your charts are saved locally to a text file (no online storage on offer with the server) and you also have options to export your chart to an image or into a format that can be imported into Microsoft Project.

The site is clearly labelled beta however from what I experienced that is more from a functionality point of view than stability. The site operated flawlessly and very quick. In terms of functionality, it is perhaps a little lacking. I created a gantt chart relating to a project I am working on, but found that needed to export the data to Microsoft Project to really finish it off. Given the current beta label this may be addressed in future releases.

Currently there is no published pricing plan. Accounts are free with an indication that anyone using during the beta period will receive a free one year subscription when they go live.

How useful is this? Realistically if you are looking for a tool to create gantt charts this doesn’t compete with commercial offerings just yet. However, this fully-web based application would bring some advantages for the ad-hoc gantt chart creation where other software was not available.

The export process is one of its main strengths at this point given the limited functionality. The process of getting the data into Microsoft Project was fairly easy although it defaulted my project start date to 2049! Nothing that couldn’t be fixed easily however.

I would recommend checking these guys out (particularly during their beta period) and see if it fits your gantt chart creation needs.

URL: http://www.tomsplanner.com

Twitter: @tomsplanner

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 24 Apr 2010 @ 10:20 PM

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 07 Apr 2010 @ 11:42 PM 

Made available recently but with so little public fan fare you need to wonder how it was missed. Google have launched their own app store!

If you run Google Apps (as opposed to the basic Gmail and associated services; however it is available on the Standard and Professional editions of the service) you will see a new option in the Services section of your control panel called Google Apps Marketplace. This service provides a range of different web based applications that can integrate with your Google Apps domain.

The range is fairly good and aimed mostly at the business market at this stage. Given the nature of the Google Apps service this is understandable. However the average user will find apps that will enhance their mail or calendar management. A notable inclusion is the Aviary online image editing tool which enables you to create and edit images stored in the Google Docs folders.

Good move Google, let’s see how this develops.

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 07 Apr 2010 @ 11:42 PM

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 28 Feb 2010 @ 10:46 PM 

An interesting article detailing the appearance of the “web introvert”. Is this a backlash to the always on 24/7 connection that some social networks give you? Will we see more of this develop. Time will tell I guess.

The Rise of the Web Introvert

Posted By: Chief Tech
Last Edit: 28 Feb 2010 @ 10:48 PM

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