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Revenge of LoveLock

It’s Brighton Festival time. On Tuesday, I saw James Lovelock speak about his new book “Revenge of Gaia”. I’m new to the whole gaia thing, but the notion of treating the earth as a holistic system makes a lot of sense to me.

He talked a little bit about Gaia, but much of the talk seemed to be given over to his dislike of wind farms and his pro-nuclear energy stance. Myself, I’m neither anti-nuke nor pro-nuke. He did question much of the evidence regarding nuclear energy that we had been led to believe, claiming that the safety issue of spent nuclear fuel is overrated, and the cost issues of nuclear are mostly because of onerous health & safety legislation.

He quipped that he’d be more than happy to have spent nuclear fuel in his backyard because it might keep the damned wind farm developers off it…

The other main theme was about global warming. Like most scientists, he cheerfully accepts that it’s happening. But his view of what will happen and when seems to be markedly more doom-and-gloom. But he’s still happy, because he just thinks we should prepare more. Oh, and that Britain will probably emerge relatively unscathed because of it’s location.

Overall, I certainly wasn’t convinced he was correct, but he did give me food for thought. Thanks to the wonders of this internet thingy, I can also read his critics at the same time.

Oh—I didn’t buy the book. I’m not that convinced…

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Komedia Night Out

I’ve just been to Komedia as part of my partner’s work’s night out. Two of the acts were OK, but Raymond & Mr Timpkins Revue were superb. A couple of guys putting words to music. Very little spoken stuff, exceedingly silly and still requiring an amount of thinking. They kept your mind racing trying to keep up with all the gags playing along, while your mouth simply carried on laughing.

In short, well worth seeing if you’re anywhere near them.

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Comics Expo

Yesterday, I went to Comic Expo 2005. I couldn’t really miss it seeing as it was in town. I wish I’d gone on Saturday as they were screening some great films (including Grass Roots) and had Dave Gibbons doing a session. And Harry Harrison too. Never mind. I did get to see Mark Millar instead, which was cool.

Unfortunately, I forgot to buy tickets ahead of time, so it cost £10 to get in. Bleargh. This was further compounded by my purchasing several new graphic novels. Needless to say my £50 that I’d got out didn’t last long.

The highlight of the show was watching Gilbert Shelton draw Fat Freddy’s Cat in front of me. Being completely unartistic myself, it was absolutely magical to see it all appearing right there in front of my very eyes.

I loved the Dalek that was wondering around as you walked in. Very flashy & noisy, just like a happy pet.

I was very glad to see Weebl had a stall selling DVD’s and soft toys and stuff. Nice to see the lads and I picked up a DVD from them, which I’d been meaning to for ages.

I was amused to see David’s Comics present. Their stall seemed to be about three times the size of their shop in the laines. 🙂

The worst bit was the interior of the Metropole. As one of the two “top hotels in Brighton”, the decor was a little bit shabby in the conference area. There were bits here and there with wallpaper peeling. Not awful, but definitely ranks a “could do better.”

Anywhow; I sure hope that they come back next year!

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Circus Oz

We’ve just got back from an evening at Circus Oz. Absolutely fantastic entertainment—great costumes, stunning performance and wickedly funny. If you get within a hundred miles, go and see them! And no, there were absolutely no animals. Excepting the hooman variety.

Best bits? A stunningly agile and graceful performance from Mel on the hoop. Oh, and the utterly fabulous percussion / juggling combo from Sosina. Maybe Captain Frodo going through two tennis rackets. I loved Scott doing his bmx routine. But it’s a damned hard choice to make—there wasn’t a duff part in there.

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d.Brief

I need to write about all this before I forget it. I attended d.Construct last Friday, courtesy of work. I wrote all my notes down in a little pad, only to leave it in the car park at Asda on the day after (it got recycled for a shopping list). Thankfully, the Asda trolley people aren’t too quick, so when I went back 5 hours later my notepad was still there.

First off, the conference was superbly organised. It was held at Fabrica, which was a beautifully unusual venue (an old church). When you went in, the hall was partitioned neatly into the registration / laptop charging area and the main stage. Everything seemed well thought out and the registration was done well. They did ask to see a form of ID, which seems sensible. Considering it’s the first event that they’ve organised, it was all very smooth.

The speakers were mostly excellent. First up was Andy Budd, who did a lot to enlighten me as to what Web 2.0 actually was. Of the whole day, he came closest to getting the idea across. Yes, it’s a buzzword for a disparate set of ideas, but it’s probably a useful one.

The second speaker was Stuart Langridge, all about DOM Scripting. For something that wasn’t quite as technical as I would have hoped, this turned out to be greatly enjoyable. Stuart is a very fluent speaker and he was really getting his message across well—how to do JavaScript, gracefully. We’re really going to start using his idea of a “behaviour layer” at work. A rousing performance. I only wish he’d had the time to go into some more technical detail.

Simon Willison showed us all around the flickr API. This was a treat, because it was really showing off the advantages of a REST style API. All the interactive bits of Flickr use their own API for Ajax purposes, so the team really has to build the API before they can build new features into the site. Simon demoed the API Explorer, which is a helluva neat tool. I’d love to build one for work, but I don’t think that we have enough metadata… Simon also gave me a huge smile by showing the most awesome photo of Maccu Piccu, where I was only a few months ago. I’m looking forward to seeing him again at the web frameworks shootout on Thursday.

After Lunch, we came back to Ben Metcalfe from the BBC. He was all about how much the BBC is opening up and sharing its data (it’s mostly feeds right now, but more is promised in the future). It’s good to see that we’re getting value for money from our License fees. Of note is that he highlighted MighTyV.com, a product of two london.pm people. He also showed off a new application, which is like IMDB, but for the BBC. Matt Biddulph will be showing this off on Thursday at the web frameworks shootout as a demo of Rails.

Next up was something I didn’t particularly enjoy: Tom Hume on the Mobile Internet. This talk could basically be summarised as “There are more mobile devices than PC’s, so watch out”. Yet it was done in a seemingly very arrogant manner. Whilst it offered lots of impressive statistics about mobile coverage, there was nothing in there to grab me and make want to develop for mobiles. In fact, it sounded like a minefield of incompatibilities and it was a miracle that mobile services work at all. Open standards are frequently ignored or implemented correctly. Not for me.

Aral Balkan’s talk on flash was probably the one I was least lookingo forward to. As an open source web developer, I’ve never really had much use for the proprietary flash stuff. Nonetheless, Aral showed how much the flash platform has developed. In particular, the flex stuff for building UIs looks great, and having all the development tools in Eclipse is a big win. It also looks like it integrates with Java really well through flash remoting. Not only that, there seems to be a good open source Flash community these days, with lots of free tools. Definitely worth a second look.

Finally, Cory Doctorow was on stage. His talk was titled “The Remix Economy,” but it ended up being mostly a rant about the DVB. Personally, I still don’t get why we need Digital TV at all. The only thing it seems to offer is a minor freeing up of spectrum so that it can be sold off to the highest bidder. Certainly not much in it for the consumer—more channels, more crap. Anyway, Cory is a hugely entertaining speaker. Well worth listening to when the mp3 is up.

Sadly, we had to all be out of the hall at 4pm, by which time it was nearly dark. So, in traditional English style, off to the pub. I had to leave early (about 5pm), but by the sound of things, the drinking went on till long afterwards.

But am I any clearer on what web 2.0 really is? Well, like Andy said at the beginning of the day, “It’s a Zen thing.” 🙂

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Dave Fulton

We went to see Dave Fulton as part of the Brighton Comedy Festival. His show is “We’re all Americans” and it rings true. Whilst he starts off slating our cousins across the pond, he quickly turns it around and starts biting into British people with equal ferocity. And it’s all deliciously non P.C.

I particularly liked his line on the British capacity for booze:

The English are the only people I know who drink on the train on the way to go drinking!

Definitely worth catching if he’s playing near you.

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Conference in Town

Clear:Left are putting on a Web 2.0 conference, d.Construct in town. I think it would be remiss of me not to go. 🙂

Plus it’s got Simon Willison, Cory Doctorow speaking. It should be good.

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More Terrorists

Wandering in front of Churchill square at lunchtime, I saw two large armed policemen with sub machine guns. Now I don’t object to having more policemen because the Labour Party Conference is in Brighton. I understand that they’re a large and obvious target for terrorists. But that still doesn’t mean we need armed officers wandering around putting terror into the local populace. I mean it doesn’t take much for the police to take an interest in you these days.

Of course, there’s no information at all on the police website to tell you what’s going on.

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Terrorists In Town

So the Labour Party Conference visits Brighton once more. On my way into town yesterday, I noticed riot police vans. Standing next to them were police with sub machine guns. If that isn’t terrorism, I’d like to know what is. People with guns like that should be in Basra, not Brighton. Sorry for the lack of photo, I was driving at the time.

It’s also good to know that our elected leaders are far too scared of photography for this to be allowed.

Charge sheet for terrorism

This really does take the biscuit. What kind of people vote for these morons?

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Brighton Kite Festival

Yesterday we visited the Brighton Kite Festival. I took photos and put the set on flickr. But this one was definitely my favourite:

A huge long snake kite.

That kite was probably 15m or longer. A huge snake like thing, it towered over Stanmer park and lit up the sky with its colours.