Facebook platform introduces Twitter app

Further to my recent entry on Federated Status, Facebook have launched their Facebook Platform which allows applet style gadgets to be embedded into one’s Facebook page. One such widget integrates Twitter and Facebook, but sadly not to the extend I’d hoped for in my previous post. Rather, it allows you to put an extra gadget onto your page to display your Twitters (but not those of your Twitter friends) which is then visible to anybody who can see your FB profile. It only displays your last tweet, and clicking edit on the gadget brings up an error page saying they are still ironing out a few issues, so hopefully more functionality may appear.

Additionally to the gadget, the profile owner can also twitter directly from FB, and also see their Twitter friends’ tweets.

What it doesn’t appear to do is put any integration between the status I can set at the top of my FB profile and Twitter. It would be nice to have the option to set one from the other. Most probably FB -> Twitter rather than the other way around.

Boats on fire and citizen journalism

This photo of a boat fire was taken by me and published in print and online by the Southern Daily Echo on 14th February 2007:

Southern Daily Echo boat fire photo by Adrian Spender

This photo was taken by Elfar Ingvarsson and appeared on the BBC News website on 21st May 2007.

Cutty Sark on fire from BBC news, submitted by Elfar Ingvarsson

My one shows a fire onboard a small yacht in a provincial marina. Elfar’s shows the destruction of a national landmark. I got paid £30 for my photo, and I am betting that Elfar didn’t.

Some statistics for you:

The Southern Daily Echo has a total circulation of 40461 for the print edition (Source: The Newspaper Society) and the web site has an Alexa traffic rank of 146,3173 (Source: Alexa 3 month average traffic rank)

BBC News is the largest and most visited web site in the UK, serving 3 million users and 24 million page impressions per day. It’s Alexa traffic rank is 33 (Source).

Naturally then, you would hope and assume that Elfar would receive reasonable compensation for his dramatic photo. However, the BBC is perhaps one of the worst exploiters of citizen journalists in this respect. If you read the lead Cutty Sark story early this morning, you’d have seen the form at the bottom of the page allowing you to send in your photos and video. You could even send it in directly from your mobile via MMS or 3G. The BBC expects you to be happy with your name on a credit (if you are lucky) for the privilege of giving them your work. Even if you missed the form (it has now been taken off) you can go to the Have Your Say page to find out how you can altruistically donate your photos and video. If you then go and read the T&Cs, the shortened version of which reads:

f you submit an image, you do so in accordance with the BBC’s Terms and Conditions.

In contributing to BBC News you agree to grant us a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want, and in any media worldwide. This may include the transmission of the material by our overseas partners; these are all reputable foreign news broadcasters who are prohibited from altering the material in any way or making it available to other UK broadcasters or to the print media. (See the Terms and Conditions for the full terms of our rights.)

It’s important to note, however, that you still own the copyright to everything you contribute to BBC News and that if your image and/or video is accepted, we will endeavour to publish your name alongside it on the BBC News website. Please note that due to operational reasons this accreditation will probably not be possible with video. The BBC cannot guarantee that all pictures and/or video will be used and we reserve the right to edit your comments.

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

So, the BBC can, for no money at all to you, use your photo or video in perpetuity across any media they wish (that means you can get international TV airtime as well, lucky you) Oh, and they can syndicate it as well. At least they let you retain copyright.

So, for being in the right place at the right time, Elfar is lucky enough to get a byline which he can screencap and show his family. Meanwhile, imagine if there happened to be a professional photojournalist hanging around Greenwich early this morning. How much has the value of his shots, which he sent up to various agencies, been devalued by the work of a few people with camera phones, and how many sales has he lost? Where would the BBC have been forced to buy a photo from is Elfar (and others) hadn’t been so generous.

I’m not going to go through the arguments for and against citizen journalism in more detail, suffice to say that it is only fair that news organizations start to treat members of the public fairly and equitably for the material we provide them. It should be their responsibility to inform contributors of the fact that by donating their photo/video they are potentially losing the ability to make money from it. I’ve added the following button to my site which links to the Editorial Photographers UK campaign for Fair Play for Citizen Journalists, and I suggest that you head over there to read about the issue in more detail.

I support the EPUK FP4CJ Campaign

P.S. Elfar – if you read this, maybe next time you might want to look at submitting your photo to somewhere like Scoopt, who will help you realise it’s value. The fact that have been bought up by Getty Images, about the largest picture agency/archive out there should give you confidence.


Whilst having a bite to eat with my cousin the other Sunday we got talking about the fact that she works in sales for the UK’s largest dealer in private car registrations. For those who might not be familiar with the concept, you get a bog-standard registration number whenever you buy a new car, but you can also buy a private one from a dealer to transfer onto the car. These are normally relevant to one’s name, pet, football team etc. etc. However, you can’t specify exactly what you want, it has to be a plate issued in the first place by the DVLA (and which therefore meets their criteria making the use of numbers as substitutes for letters common) hence the fact that dealers spring up to buy and sell them.

I mentioned to her that I had always fancied getting A1 DYS. To my surprise, she said that it had been on their books not long ago. When I asked her why she hadn’t thought of me she said she had, but didn’t reckon I’d have the £50k to meet the purchase price. Fair enough then, she got that one right 😉

Show me the shoes and I’ll tell you about the man

New shoes
We made the most of the bank holiday today to go down to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to have lunch with our friends Pete and Michelle and their two young ones Grace and Freddie. The other purpose from my point of view was to find a pair or brogues to wear to the wedding. I normally go for loafers which obviously wouldn’t be any good with a morning suit. Gunwharf is full of outlet style shops, and a visit to Austin Reed quickly produced the results. The colours I’m going for in the morning suit will lend themselves to either black or tan shoes, and given that I’ll instruct the groomsmen to wear black, I fancied wearing tan myself. However being unusually indecisive I couldn’t be 100% sure, so opted for the black as a safe bet. Both pairs were pretty much the same and were bench made by Cheaney, a well respected British shoe maker. Being an outlet shop, they weren’t perfect, but the only real noticeable issue was scuffing on the leather soles, which let’s face it is hardly an issue one will care about after the first wear.

The black ones were reduced from somewhere around £250 down to £140 which is still a lot of money, but worth it for the purpose in hand. However when getting to the till to purchase they rang up at only £75! Confirmed by the lady behind the counter, I quickly dispatched her to get the tan pair as well. They came in at a similar price, so I am now the proud owner of a fantastic couple of pairs of shoes, and I’ll be able to try both out when I go for my morning suit fitting.

As for the title of this post, well I read it somewhere once and it stuck in my head. I’ve no idea if it is an actual quote, but it certainly is true. Google came up a blank.

Explaining my work

I’ve just had a realisation. I’m listening to IBM VP Jeff Schick talk about Lotus Connections in a podcast. He starts off by talking about how Connections as social software for the enterprise is building on what sites like MySpace and Facebook have done for the general web consumer. I think that my new role might be the first I’ve had which I can easily explain to my family without a glazed expression coming across their faces 😉

The long CD ripping slog


As part of the preparation for our move over to Dublin, I’m in the processing of ripping all of my not insignificant collection of CDs.

In fact, having owned a whole series of digital players over the past 7 years or so I’d already ripped a significant amount of them, and for the past two years I’ve bought stuff pretty exclusively from iTunes. However the CD rips were typically 192kbps MP3 and don’t sound particularly good.

Spurred by the desire to be able to store away the CDs at my folks’ place rather than ship them over to Dublin I decided a while ago to make a concerted effort to re-rip them all, and to this time make the digital copies as future proof as possible.

So, armed with my iMac, it’s 500GB disk, about 500 albums and the same number of singes I made a determined start. The trouble is that a few months later I have only got about 1/3rd of the way through 🙁

To future proof, I am ripping to FLAC, using Max. I’m using the highest quality setting (compression level 8 ) and am using the comparison ripper, which means it makes multiple passes at each sector, then computes their hashes. All of this slows the actual ripping process down, but does produce good results.

I’m then taking the FLAC files and chucking them through XLD to produce 320kbps VBR MP3s using the LAME encoder. These are then imported into my iTunes library. Eventually they will also be shoved up onto the disk attached to my Linksys NSLU2 which runs the TwonkyVision uPnP server. This in turn allows me to access my music library from my XBox 360 which is connected to my Hi-Fi.

There are two other non-technical reasons for the slow progress. Firstly, I’ve started with the large number of compilation CDs I have. A lot of these are double, or even triple disc albums, and in general have more tracks/disc than normal albums. Secondly, and most infuriatingly, the track info held in the MusicBrainz database used by Max isn’t terribly good when it comes to compilation albums. A lot of the time the CD artist will be “Various Artists” but then the artist field for each individual track will not be set. Instead it seems people just put the track title as “artist / track” which needs manual correction. I estimate this has been the case in about 50% of the CDs I’ve done so far.

Thankfully I am now at the end of the compilations, and am getting onto albums and selected singles. These should go past much quicker thanks to more accurate track info and fewer tracks/disc.

A few stats:

CDs ripped so far: 261
Number of tracks: 3906
Total size of FLAC files: 96.83GB
Typical size per FLAC file: 25 MB
Total size of MP3 files: 14.04 GB
Typical size per MP3 file: 3.5 MB