G-Room Review Videoblog Part II – Shower Gel

OK a bit more detail on this. These products were given to me free by the g-room (on London’s Carnaby St) on the understanding that if I had anything interesting to say about them, I’d probably blog it, in a blogvertising sort of way. I haven’t been otherwise paid for this, neither did I receive the products under any conditions or constraints – I was free to do nothing but use the products and tell no-one if that’s what I wished. I tried (honest) to take it seriously and give you a real picture of my reaction to these products. Trouble is, I don’t really do serious very well.

In today’s episode you get to see me testing the shower gel. Ahem. Now, I don’t want to spoil it for you but I’ll just say that it is entirely safe for work. This is a family blog. If you want to see me testing shower gel with all the details, you’ll just have to get to know me a bit better. Perhaps buy me dinner, or at least some flowers once in a while.

For the squeamish among you who can’t bear to watch and see even the barest (ha!) hint of nudity, I liked the shower gel, but it was a bit thin and runny – it smelled nice and it got me clean.

Now since then the lovely lucie has pointed out in the comments that this sort of metrosexual nonsense is on the way out but unfortunately all the episodes are already in the can. I may do a sequel, if there’s sufficient demand, in which I eat cow pie, strike matches on my bare chin and go around grabbing young wenches by the hair and snogging them… hard… but only if there’s sufficient demand, you understand.


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I’m back!


Phew! My first serious blog holiday on Perfect Path. For those of you who don’t know, a fortnight ago I went away for a few days in Brighton to refresh the batteries. When I got back, I really was not refreshed enough and so I’ve done very little since then.

But this morning I’ve just (joyfully) written cheques to the Inland Revenue, Customs & Excise and Companies House, all of which reminds me that I’m supposed to be running a business here and that two weeks hols is quite enough.

So as an hors d’oeuvres for the next period I give you the introductory video from the G*room videoblog. More on G*room later, but I think you’re going to enjoy this.

Liquid Trust – doesn’t quite do what it says on the tin

Most comment spam on this site gets deleted within a few hours of posting (that’s because I’m very rarely unconnected for that long!) It’s also usually either a generic comment like “Nice Site! Keep up the hard work! Meanwhile you might be interested in…” or else it’s completely irrelevant. However, I thought I’d share the following bit that came through this morning attached to the previous post about Zeldin, Conversation and building trust.

It comes from a nice person called Steve with this e-mail address: singa9876@yahoo.com

“Try some Liquid Trust!

I found that a great way to gain people’s trust is with a product called Liquid Trust. It is a spray that makes people trust you! Trust me, it works! You can get it here: “

oops, I seem to have lost the link in copying across just before I hit the delete button on this SPAM

Theodore Zeldin: The Art of Conversation

If you want to gain trust in your profession, conversation is the best way to achieve it.

Nowadays we do much more talking than we did in the past but we haven’t studied conversation. Talk is different from conversation. In the beginning, people were scared to talk, it was dangerous to say the wrong thing, or to say what you think. But if you look at how people did talk when they started, you find that they are influenced by their social context. So people said what they thought other people would want to hear, which of course meant that nobody actually knew what you thought. We’ve now invented different types of talk: scientific talk – a pared down, unemotional, rational talk; academic talk – essentially argumentative a battle in which one side won and the other shut up; separation of the sexes – women encouraged not to talk to eat separately. So this is not something that we’ve always done, it is something new that we’re developing. The americans revolted against etiquette talk in favour of plain talking or straight talk. Of course this became ritualised and hypcritical over time. We have also proscribed some types of talk, racist, sexist.

Now a new kind of conversation – who it is you keep company with – a social activity not just the exchange of words. Now another kind is needed what a person is like, what they think and what we think too an exploration and a self-examination – a conversation about what is important in your life. Not only do you build trust by letting people in, you also borrow from that person some of the experience that they share with you and you then emerge a different person. So the big revolution of the last century has been the arrival of women in the public sphere and they have introduced stuff that previously were considered too intimate and emotional and conversation can never be the same as a result. His proposal then is that the things you think you can talk about are not enough for you to talk about and if you wish to be treated as an interesting trustworthy person you have to learn how to talk in what was previously considered a more private way.

You’re in corporations not only to make money but to bring people together to do things that they could not do alone. The new conversation is a method of creating a network and you can therefore see that the role of experts in conversation is not just transmitting information but creating something new.

Public opinion polls show that people don’t trust business to tell the truth. This has gone on for a long time – advertising has not worked and charity has not worked. The philanthropic activities which comprise a small section of the budget of corporations will be rethought and corps will see that they need to engage with the community in a very different way. The role of business leaders is the construction of new networkd – what is missing in people’s lives is networks. Survey question – if you got into real trouble who could you rely on for help? Only 55% said their parents would help them – a sign of the disintegration of the family networks. New ones are needed to supplement what is disappearing.

The new relationship between public work and private life. People are going to increasingly complain that they are not happy to do horrible jobs, doing work that does not enhance them as humans. The young recruits are demanding that the corporation change and engage with the community in more diverse ways. People want to expand in life not just be an instrument of others. So what we say about conversation is as applicable to our private lives as it is to our public lives. Moving towards harmonizing public and private, become more like a family. Of course, families are changing too, still learning to be honest and for men and women to talk, for fathers and children to talk and be friends.

Give the same attention to conversation as you do to looking after your body (!) We’re in a process of disintegration unless we do something about it. Studies show that conversation is a very powerful way of maintaining the brain.

It is not enough to know a lot and be able to talk narrowly about your stuff, you have to be able to communicate with people from different backgrounds in different contexts. So you have to broaden the kind of training you do to cultivate conversation. This is totally different from communication – conversation is an art, so there is no guaranteed way of becoming a good conversationalist and everyone develops their own style. Until recently people had to fit into fixed categories. Now the individual is accepted and the mystery is what is going on for you.

There is now an enormous opportunity for us to change the world and facilitate conversation. Learn the lesson of trains – two solutions for building railway carriages – a boatlike democratic space or closed compartments which encouraged the middle classes to segregate and conversation became cut off.

How can you learn to converse? At dinner tonight, we’ll have a menu of conversation and be seated in pairs – 25 questions about what is important in life for you and for others – to get you into real conversation rather than smalltalk. If you give a lot, you will get a lot back.

And so we’re going to have dinner… and you’re not – I’ll tell you what it was like some other time

Sean Gourley: The Costs and Benefits of Network Approaches

Intelligent Agents Adaptive Systems – centralised networks and the effects of congestion.

Examples: Small World network – six degrees of separation and ordered network with a few random links. Scale Free network characterised by most nodes having very few connections but a few having many – like the www with hubs and super-hubs. Exponential network – roads.

The Hub & Spoke Network – when is it best to go around the outside and when to go through the hub. Slime Mould and Mycelial fungus do this all the time in a self-organised way. Also management structures, do you go through the structure or find your own path? Economists would say Game theory. but as the number of bodies grows it becomes more and more difficult to predict.

So large number interacting agents; hererogeneity; agents act to maximise their utility; feedback and repeated iterations.

Application example: e-mail perception of users is that cost of transport equals the cost of email which appears to be zero. So make the users aware of the real cost.

Say Cost of e-mail received is £3 but since the scale isn’t linear, congestion can be very expensive. So perhaps have dynamic pricing – cost of email set to reflect load on network. Make people aware of the price right now.

Andrew Hudson-Smith: Mapping how people act on and off-line

Life in the metaverse – 30 days in ActiveWorlds.

Shows us a demo of ActiveWorlds with lots of caveats about the clunkiness of the interface and the cheesiness of the music. He walks around the world and meets people.

The default avatar for people who haven’t paid sucks and people who have paid aren’t very nice to people who haven’t paid.

Everything is self-built so stuff at the centre comes from 1995 and then as you go out bits of land got claimed over time. Now 4.4 times the size of California. In 1999 it was really neat – shall we do a research paper or shall we just go into the virtual world?

People see it as a place where you can say what you want and do what you want. Actually not true they also watch for key phrases and may throw you out (sometimes after a warning) So there are rules. What would happen if we opened up a world without any laws – so he got a licence. A world about the size of Soho, a blank green space. Put in walls and doors and trees and said there’s no laws. His intention was to then watch over what happened.

Day 0 a massive poster 50′ high with pornographic shot hyperlinked to his mother. So he cleared it and put up some welcome signs and then just hoped that people would just be nice.

Day 1 6430 objects placed in the world, the world has structure and users, all text and building is logged. Fascinating to float above and watch people running around and making stuff while chatting and linking with each other. People interested in why it was there.

Wanted a more human face, so put his webcam on and put himself at 0,0. People stayed in there all day, everyone found it fun to claim land and put up their houses with sofas and log fires. About 40 people all seemingly with faith that it was going to stay and people were nice to each other and got on fine.

Day 4 Attack by the ActiveWorlds Terrorist Group – the leader AKA Jero placed 85,000 objects over 5 hours. Server closed. Cleared out his work. Email threats received to close down the world completely. Re-opened the world and logged in – everyone was waiting and cross because they thought that he’d done it deliberately. It does take time to create a new house.

World placed on DefConOne status. Attack reports reach Press Association News site, so contacted ActiveWorlds and traced his IP, contacted his ISP who told them who he was and the 15-year old boy had his computer taken away by his father. He logged in and said “for god’s sake, you told my dad. He’s not pleased” “You’ve upset the wrong person” within half an hour he’d lost all access to his machine as Jero had hacked in through the PWS.

So cleared out, re-opened world. And it just ran – people coming in and chatting. He became completely immeresed in the world. Gave him and others a sense of purpose. Lots of people with health problems or unemployed – it gave them a friendly face. Interesting how quickly people confided personal stuff. He’s god – but he hadn’t thought it all through.

Lady in Holland starts sending pictures of herself in “compromising purpose” Aaah no. Then she was talking about getting on a ferry and coming over for “a chat” Wanted to make a distinction between virtual life and “real” life. She went a bit quiet but it was fine.

A guy built a plinth with webcam on all sides and avatars all around with their hands up and watching him. He then asked Andrew to come to his lounge (a very big one) and ever wall was plastered with pictures of AHS. “So you’re not keen on my lounge then…” Realised he hadn’t thought about the implications – all of his personal details are online. Turned webcam off at this stage. Next day there’d been a call to the office asking for the webcam to be put back on. Went into the world and talked about it, but people couldn’t see his point of view. The line had been crossed.

Christmas came and they typed/sang xmas carols around the tree. The woman from Amsterdam bought him a Porsche.

People build amazing things – why? They built things that in the real world they wanted. A road network, satellite writing, a little town emerged. Lovers Lane for pictures of themselves and partners. Put in a planning application to demolish Lounge Guy’s house. All the pictures now had little hitler moustaches. He also built a church – used for meetings with a real world church.

The month ended – decided to run it for another year. Two people who met in the world wanted to get married, but the groom died before the wedding so they had a virtual funeral.

Ted Nelson – Where technology gets it wrong.

The structure of documents and the difficulty of representing them in computing. How can electronic documents improve on paper, rather than how simply to imitate it.

The History of computing – three dumb downs and a betrayal, Fire in the Valley, Freiburger especially the last chapter (Citizen Nelson)

The betrayal of Personal Computing – should make things easier and keep track of your stuff. All built on the model of operating systems distilling the 1960s into the unix system with a hierarchical system of files – the simulation of hierarchy and the simulation of paper. Computer systems are hierarchical because techies think it should be. The idea that they’re that way intrinsically is a lie. The challenge is taking how the real universe – Parallel interpenetrating structures and representing it through computing.

Computing is a Rorsach test – peoples descriptions of what computers are tells you much about them and people have also created them in their own image.

GUI => PUI – the PARC User Interface is more than an interface it’s a cosmology. A vertical desktop, the wastebasket, clipboard (the vilest thing on the face of the earth), folders and icons.

WYSIWYG is just a way of selling paper.

Meanwhile Ted was working on links behind text and the back button. Then the Xanadu project (not the bit where they got funding…until 1992) Every quotation should be connected to its original source. You can’t do that on the WWW because it comes from the hierarchy and lump file and the imitation of paper.

Ted shows http://www.xanadu.com.au/transqouter sends an EDL (an edit decision list) ie a bunch of links to the original stuff – go look it up and use it..

Implications – Copyright -> transcopyright you get the right as long as everything is linked back to it’s original source.

Techies say – this is new. Ted says no this isn’t new we’ve had it before it’s called literature.

Nothing I believe in can be done on the web – the next step is transliterature – an entirely new structure. We need something like software X but simpler – as that catches on, it actually gets more ponderous and complex. Hofstadters law – everything takes longer than you think even when you take into account Hostadters law.

We want you to be able to create flying comments on any document. Thousands of comments should be possible. A collaborative system where everyones contribution is clear and rewarded. Pullacross editing. Is it possible? Of course, but it’s not possible within the constraints of the PUI. We should be able to fly documents in 3D space with all the links being shown – the problem then is aggregating and understanding them.

So we have a document structure that is content and clinks – the multitrack view of a document.

Terry Pratchett talks about octarine – can you visualis a completely new colour?

What Ted does for fun. Why are databases rectangular? Theodore Codd at IBM thought it had mathematical properties that would be useful, but under pressure he quit and SQL was a hasty mopping up which got mangled by people trying to make it work. Dirty secret 1 – it may take 10 years to merge two corporate databases. Dirty secret 2 – you have to stop it to modify a field. So Ted’s created ZigZag a multidimensional data structure.

Information is not rectangular though you might wish to give it rectangular properties. Interconnected cells – example the royal families of europe. Take hierarchical structure Dimension 1 is name, Dimension 2 is Title Dimension 3 – marriage Dimension 4 children etc etc etc. The assignment of dimensions is of course not trivial.

Floating world – the commercial version of ZigZag under the transliterature model.

Q: do you see a problem with spam – Yes of course because whatever you do gets gamed.

Q: Issue of binary and handling ambiguity – not to do with binary, it’s about how you come to tolerate ambiguity. What makes the web complicated, standardisation of browser. Acknowledge them not supress them.

Q: to what extent can we separate content and presentation? Imagine that you’re a movie producer going through scripts – no presentation at all except the descriptions within. But the producers are able to see through the script into the movie. You want both – the transliterature view we saw is without presentation but you can put all of this on top.

Q: Are there different types of Clinks? Yes and you can invent your own – it’s just a type and pointer (from: and to:)

Q: Realtime creation from the script – plus re-editing of Star Wars “just for fun” how does this fit with transcopyright and transliterature. They can sell snippets and get new ways in. Record industry allegedly seeing the benefit from this? IP law isn’t going away, Ted is trying to create something honest and within the law that doesn’t violate anything and reusable without negotiation.

Q: what happens to broken links. We promise not to – and there’s no need to because you always leave the original there.

Q: doesn’t it kill differential pricing? Yes, but we don’t have a payments system yet so maybe it will get fixed. The price is attached to it.

Hive Networks – Alexei Blinov

Hive NetworksAt the Science Museum’s Danacentre (nice space)for the Future Wireless event by Cybersalon & OpenSpectrumUK listening to Alexei Blinov and James Stevens talking about Hive Networks putting together a DIY infrastructure – an open backbone (sounds painful)

According to the Hive Networks wiki “Hive Networks” is a cross-disciplinary research and development project into embedded devices and ubiquitous networked computing, defined as ‘multi-faceted transformative devices’ – tools that enable users to manage space, time and the boundaries around the self in new and previously unthinkable ways

So Alexei is now talking about getting ordinary people connected, almost without them knowing, like his mother listening to the radio in the kitchen.

One of his favourite devices is this one which I’d love to understand better, but I’ve got to leave for lunch!

Each device is supposed to run a particular function, to provide a particular service on the network. This box runs lots of services. Trying to weave a network around human behaviour rather than making humans change to interact with the network. Errrr go read the wiki.