Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Celtic progress in Champions League

Well, tonight was quite amazing. Celtic managed to beat Spartak Moscow, the best team we could have faced in the qualifiers and leaders of the Russian league.

They played very well, but we should have beaten them long beforehand - they had a chance or two but we had SO many but never had our finishing boots on despite playing well.

As always the atmosphere just can't be beaten - the reason we were voted the best venue in the UK was obvious... especially to the sorry Russian who missed the last penalty.

I got a few pics, the above was the best. Need a nice camera. I feel physically drained - never shouted and cheered so much. It's hard supporting the best club in the world!

Hail Hail!!!

Maps still need direction - Collaborative Maps?

Well, what with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and some other familiar names (even open such as OpenStreetMap) i figured Maps were dead. I mean dead in the sense of why would ANYONE write another one.

Well, that is until is actually tried to use them. The Google and Yahoo API's are nice, i couldn't even FIND an API for Windows Live and although OpenStreetMap is nice, it's API was almost impossible to figure out (i just want to use as part of my app).

Now, even though i can USE Google and Yahoo easily, it doesn't work for place names!! Yes, in most apps people are going to enter a place name "Mitchell Library" rather than "201 North Street, Glasgow" - but although this works great for the browser, it does NOT work as part of the REST interface either company provides.

Is this because they KNOW it is so key to future apps? Particularly in the mobile space (prior to us all having GPS)?

So here's a call to action. Why does every company who doesn't regards their location information as core to their revenue model not join together and create a universal database - like OpenStreetMap or something. Put on a nice API and let people integrate the data.

I don't mean with all the graphical maps etc - i mean just the data about placenames and where they are. Done together.

I'm working on something that really needs more than what these companies offer and i'd gladly put my location data into such an open system.


Initial API:

Put(placename, number, streetname, city, postcode, country, latitude, londitude);

Get(placename, country)
Get(placename, number, streetname, city, postcode, coutry)
Get (latitude, longitude)

Scoble video as a social conversation

I've read with some interest the many of the posts "dissing" that search post by Robert.

Now, not saying I agree or diagree with some or all of the points he makes, but HOW he makes it is surely an interesting social experiement for us all - well, more specifically how the responses happened is more interesting.

You see, i believe brainstorming with smart minds is one of the most exciting things you can do in my field. But that only works if the bar is level - criticism is fine, but it needs to be something that is on a par with the original work. So a better response to Scobles post would be a set of social video responses - an ascychronous online conversation.

For example, most of the standards bodies and so on are outwith the reach of the majority of us and typically confied to established companies in that field (if fact you often miss the complete conversation as happened to me with Attenion Profiling) - we have a lot to say, but no way to say it (you sometimes get a public forum if you're lucky). However, the idea of being able to just brainstorm and see what people think through video is pretty exciting.

I'd like to see more ideas, whiteboards and rants about topics I am interested in. Wake up in the morning and there are 5 responses to what you said - not just criticisms in blogs that don't accept comments, but real views and opinions in the same manner you started.

So, why not have "comments" on Scobles video post ONLY be videos. That would be very interesting - it's a hard thing to do to just lay it on the line real time. But would be pretty exciting i'd think ....

Monday, August 27, 2007

Twitter as IM

I added a new Twitter account so i can async IM with people as well as write random stuff i don't wanna bother others with. My new account is at .

If you want my regular stuff i am at

On my ilivz account i will be posting most of the day so expect a ton or random "stuff" ....

Celtic game on Wednesday

So come this Wednesday there will be over 60,000 fans packed into Parkhead to watch Celtic play Spartak Moscow in a qualifier for the champions league. The atmosphere is pretty amazing by any standards and thankfully I will be there! Tickets arrived in the door and my and a mate are set.

I have been told I take on a new persona at football games - maybe we all need something we can vent our energy out on. A couple of beers and screaming at the top of my voice for two hours will be a start!

I will try twittering and blogging - i might even try a live video cast and see how that goes.

Hope i don't become the first guy to get arrested using twitter through some bizarre 200 year old legal broadcast rule (yep, why do you think it's called "Scotland Yard" ?!!).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Changing my viewing habits

btw - blogger - I love you!! Thank God you added "autosave" as IE just died on my and i could see the content behind the "Send Error Message to Microsoft" and thought i had lost it!!

One of the real frustrations for me is that i miss out on some very cool content on the web. I have a wife, two kids, some consultancy and trying to create a startup at the same time (which is now coming on very well). Thankfully I am going to have a lot of free (i.e. my own) time soon (i hope) as the consultancy (to buy food which is apparently an "important part of childrens diet" etc) is coming to an end.

However, there is what seems like endless content out there - and there is a wealth of really good stuff too!! I have Gnomedex, Always On, Scoble Show and (thanks to Sam) - as well as IT Conversations etc - and that is just rich media. My BlogLines keeps going up to 4000 posts... i secretly think Scoble is multi-threaded to get through all this.

So how to balance this out? Well, other than the short viewings that can be done between things or on my PDA, i have decided to dedicate at least 3 of my evenings watching online content (say between 7pm and 10pm). At the weekends I should also be able to catch up on some. I don't watch much TV anyway (other than football), but continuing to purely code can also work against you as you miss all this content.... and what i have found is that a lot of it actually feeds in to what you are doing and either changes what you are doing or the way you are doing it - and sometimes i creates completely new ideas or angles - this is exactly what happened after I listened to Robert Scoble talking with Scott Klemmer Stanford.

This will clearly affect my coding time, but some of the things I learn that have a direct impact on what i am interested in is just too important. I actually think the net effect will be better coding - or rather higher quality results.

How is anyone else coping with this (who is in a similar situation?). There is no way we can catch everything, but there is also no way some this can be missed .... and i have long since lost the illusion of remembering to go back to see it or checking my bookmarks! If i don't watch it there and then, i likely will never.

This isn't really work for me - it's like reading a good book when listening to some of these podcasts and videos so moving from traditional TV isn't hard (it's even easier with the stuff that they show over here). However, it's also very important that i spend plenty of family time with my wife and kids, who aren't quite as interested as me (yet [rubs hands as scary laughter roars out....]).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

WCF RESTful GET queries using custom entity input parameters

I am looking to map RESTful GET queries to custom objects in my WCF service layer and asked the folks over at Microsoft how to do it. To my surprise i got the reply that:
An HTTP GET request may come from a web browser, and all parameters that are
sent to the operation need to be specified in the URL. There isn't any set
way to represent a list of locations in the URL. [link]

Now, I am no expert in REST architecture, but I think of the URI template mapping stuff Microsoft are adding as much the same as RegEx which we have all used for years. I can think of a number of ways that you could map URL parameters to a custom object... even an option allowing you to define a custom mapping layer would be neat. I like the idea of using XPath, but anything that maps an input pattern to a custom object would do me.

Otherwise i need to define all my GET interfaces using simple value types rather than my custom entity objects - which can be returned fine, just not passed in...

I'm in view of flexibility and not having to think of REST interfaces in WCF as something special - other than the attributes you need to apply. I don't think anything i am asking for is difficult in any sense so i'd be interested in where any issue in doing this would lie?!

Son back at school

Xavier went back to school today (Nursery really, but he calls it that) - he is only 4 and just missed out on the "big" school.

He has a great day apparently, very social as he is now the "big kid" and looked afer the little ones really well.

He ALSO corrected the teachers on his name, which they randomly spelled last year. Now he says "There is no need to look it up, it is X-A-V-I-E-R".

He also remembered every teachers name which was pretty impressive consdering i need a map and compass to get home at night.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Geni the next Linked In?

First off, i love Geni. It has put me in touch with many family members and we now have more than 700 people in our tree, most of which has been viral.

I also like Linked In. Scoble mentioned to me on his blog that he hates linked in and will never go back. However, many of my contacts remain on Linked In and moving them all would be more hassle that it is worth. So while i use Facebook, i'd only start to use it as my main social networking solution IF it was part of a distributed open identity network where i could merge people in there with others in other networks.

However, Linked In has remained fairly static for a long time now. Sure, they have added some features, but they have stood still for so long they have lost ground on other networks that have seen the clear need for something after you have made contact... collaboration, community. Facebook have done very well in that area. FB has also added a "platform" that allows people to build on their services. Linked In could probably take this to the next step by completely opening up and acting as a social network platform for other communities. However, they will have to work fast for this to happen.

So how does this relate in any way to Geni? It's the same thing really, only the connections are family. Once that connection has been made, the major problem on Geni is that there is nothing else to do - not really any tools do make you return after you have connected. I have said in the past they should work with Dandelife (in fact i think Dandelife really need that connection too, but perhaps less than Geni).

At the very least, Geni needs to add family blogging style tools. My daughter said her first word today ... "dada" .. something many of my family would be interested in knowing, along with my video and a few pictures. Geni doesn't really provide any tools to enable that to happen. [ Update (based on Geni Team comment):While I know and have used their image upload and tagging tools which work well, i really mean a diary style tool - the reason blogging has become so popular; this would work really well with a family site and would save me having to "diff" the content of my family tree ] They could probably just provide an option to include external feeds from flickr, youtube, blogger etc and that would be a start.

There is a clear window of opportunity for someone to create what Geni has done, but add the stickiness factor to it. I really think they will need more than just connections... they have such a great opportunity and i love their service, so i hope they start brining some of these things to us soon.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Amazon FPS

Update: Seems you need a U.S credit card to use this.... will this be extended soon, as i don't :)

Amazon's FPS (flexible payment system) was released about 10 minutes ago ... Jeff was waiting for about 2 days to post and eventually he posted and didn't disappoint. When Jeff was in Glasgow I had asked about improvig the way transactions could be done through services. It seems he got back to his team at Amazon and they wrote a 250 page spec for me in a week or so... thanks Jeff ;)

I look forward to reading about this through the day... this is really powerful stuff. I am particularly interested to see if there is anything for Micropayments (i haven't look yet) as i was discussing this at AO yeterday - i see this as crucial for pay as you go services... don't want to use my CC every time.

Lot of reading to do ...

HumanML - would be nice to see it gain popularity

Many years ago i was a little involved but mainly following HumanML (or here)- the Human Markup Language.

At AO yesterday, i got talking with Rex Brooks, who was involved in starting the concept and vice-chaired it at OASIS (he is now co-chair of the Emergency Management Technical Committee)- he told me that due to lack of participation he had to close it down.

I'd like to see this come back. Why? Well, i'd like to be able to index my conversations online, Twitter and more specifically in second life. I'd like to be able to search for people i was happy talking with, or confused, or enlightened. "Find me people (or conversations) who englightened me in search technology". You can imagine this could get a little more complex and very powerful.

Emoticons in IM's, chat etc can easily map to HumanML and this could also be indexed and searched upon. It could also make images more searchable - based on your emotions in the image.

Surely Second Life would want us to be able to do this? Anyone able to ask them? I'd love to see this happen again as it's now the right time. Anyone???

Innovation and Technology on Second Life

After some discussion in the Always On chat panel (all brilliantly hosted as far as i'm aware by Evan Donn, aka divergent), I really think Second Life (meetups, conferences etc rather than generally walking around) could be very useful for quite a lot of us.

Update : I created the Eventful group "SecondLifeTech" for second life technology events - the general one had over 5000 random events....

There was a general view that moving what we were doing into a "virtual" environment would be quite a neat thing to do.

So I am going to try and capture (a) active places, groups etc
in Second Life discussing innovation and technology, and (b) related innovation
and technology events. Follow their events listing on SL is too difficult.

So why not use Eventful, with a tag of "secondlife tech" to life tech and innovation events? Please let me know if you know of some. I will be adding the Amazon AWS event and meetup location first. Not sure where I'll list them, but i'd like to get more involved... there are some good people out there and i enjoyed talking with them on AO!! Contact me if you know anything i should at add weblivz AT hotmail DOT com

ps. next year i'd like to see AO open thing up so i can finally have a good reason for my webcam and mic and ask from questions direct to the panel. They answered three this year which was great!

Thursday, August 2, 2007


update: FWIW, i'd like to see something similar for Latin America. I got my first ASDL line there long before i could get one in Scotland.

Sam Sethi et al are doing some very cool things over at Blognation - especially if you have ever wished there was something concentrating on the European startup scene. Our countries are generally smaller than some of the big players, but collectively we are quite large in comparison - however, most times i just assume a startup is from the US unless a notice it is not by chance (e.g. Plazes from Germany) or I am told directly (as happened with WeeWorld which is a stone throw away... I do actually know this after having to pay for a replacement window for them - sometimes theory is as far as it should go!).

You may ask why it matters where a startup is based. Well it does and it doesn't. In terms of technology, it probably doesn't (most of the time). However, US startups are closer to where the action has been traditionally. Even if you are not from the US, you often have US investors and in some cases end up over there. So these startups get more press and there is an uneven buzz about them .... as of course would happen when events are closer, timezones are more aligned (e.g. staying up 'til 3am to listen to always on an be part of the chat is tricky during the week!).

However, there is a lot going on in Europe and i want to hear more about it. In fact i want to hear more about startups closer to where i am (Glasgow/Scotland in my case) - for a different reason. They may not be competitors or even in the same field, but is it encouraging to know there are more of you out there and from this you can perhaps form smaller localized startup communities - share information - wisdom of crowds and all that! Earlier it was mentioned that with localized startup data and Google Maps Microformats support we may see this in Blognation sooner than later - now that is something that i think will be very cool indeed!

Global Patenting

Yesterday i asked a question to the patenting panel at Always On and got a response - what is cool is that it was from David Hayes, Partner, Intellectual Property Group, Fenwick & West . he has represented companies such as Apple, Cisco and Google so really knows his business.

I simple asked where companies based outside the US should consider patenting - US, China, India or UK (based in the UK).

The obvious answer was "depends on your market" - but as he said that everyone in the forum commented that most businesses these days are global.... just as he said it :) Good to know we're all on the same page.

His answer was US, China, India and Europe (i assume you can get a pan-european patent).

I wonder how soon until China comes at the start of that list?!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Peer Patents

After a chat whilst watching Always On today (where i got two questions answered by the panel!!), i decided to join the PeerToPatent project.

Peer-to-Patent involves 1) review and discussion of posted patent applications,
2) research to locate prior art references 3) uploading prior art references
relevant to the claims, 4) annotating and evaluating submitted prior art, and 5)
top ten references, along with commentary, forwarded to the USPTO. The goal of
this pilot is to prove that organized public participation can improve the
quality of issued patents.

I would ideally like to see a process that is startup friendly and allows you to have your patent validted by the community and reserved for one (or two) years until you ahve the money to pay for it. We all know that for all butthe larger companies, getting patents in more that one country is using finances you really can ill afford to spend on anything other then keeping your business alive!

Anyway, I hope to be able to help out.