Links for Monday 19th November, 2007

Madvertzines: Ads vs Content

I don’t read dead-tree newspapers or magazines very often, but I do seem to have a subscription to the dead tree version of Wired, which reliably arrives in my work mail dip once per month.

I don’t remember subscribing (I believe it was a gift) and I don’t see a price on the front cover. Digging around on the Wired site, I see US residents can get a 12 month subscription for as little as $10, while an international subscription would be $40 for Canada or $70 for the rest of the world. I’m surprised it’s so expensive, given the number of pages given over to adverts.

In November 2007’s edition (issue 15.11), of the first 42 pages, 31 pages were advertisements. In fact, out of all 274 pages of the magazine, there were 148 pages of adverts. That’s 55% of the available space. And that generously excludes sections like this, this, this or this, each of which is either a product comparison or review.

A quick flick through September’s edition of Wired, shows that 101 out of 198 pages, or 51%, were advertisements. Slightly better, but still more than half. (October’s seems to be at work. I’ll add the count for that one when I next see it, unless someone beats me to it). I can’t help wondering what I’d need to pay for that 49% of the magazine if it had not been subsidised by adverts.

Early morning...

[Photo credit: Louise LeGresley]

Mentioning this to my wife, she tells me I should take a look at women’s magazines some time (particularly fashion magazines like Vogue, which she describes as “sickeningly what-have-I-spent-my-money-on ridiculous”). Well, I think I will.

What are the best, and the worst, magazines for advert:content ratios? Do you have any magazines nearby for which you’d like to share page counts and cover price?


Russell and Steve recently invited me to join the Speechification team, where I have been happily sharing my favourite bits of speech radio.

The Old Jukebox

Any team needs its initiation rites, and mine ended up being migrating the blog from Tumblr to something with comments. WordPress 2.3.1 seemed like a good bet. I have not been keeping this blog up to date (it’s still currently on 2.0.3), so I hadn’t notice WordPress introduced tags. This is wonderful. Want to see all the speechification posts about Radio 3? Or comedy? Hours of fun!

Tags I got for free, and the only things I’ve really changed are:

  • A cute header (based on the photo above of a radio found on Flickr. Thanks, C.P.Storm).
  • Additional custom fields for posts, with text entries in the post page (made easier by the custom fields GUI plugin).
  • As well as making it easy to capturing that data, I’ve added a custom search box which lets you search on the post, as normal, or those additional fields. (Made easier by the search custom fields plugin).  So far, the additional fields are editor, presenter, producer and production company. I’m sure we’ll either add more as we need them, or give up and use tags for everything.

The feed has enclosures for the MP3s, so it also works conveniently as a podcast. Try subscribing in iTunes, if you use that.

Twitter SMS Limits

I’ve been using Twitter a lot recently. I made my 1000th Tweet this week. By the way, if we’re friends on Facebook and you don’t use Twitter, it’s why and how I update my status so frequently.

Although I follow over 150 people on Twitter, I only have SMS notifications turned on for about a dozen friends. Depending on where I am and what I’m doing, it can be a really nice way to stay in touch with those people. I was, therefore, surprised and disturbed to be sent this warning over the weekend.

Warning re limited inbound Twitter txts

I only have 10 incoming sms updates remaining this week? I wonder what the limit is.

Speaking of text messages, have you noticed a tendency (it may be a UK thing) for the past participle of “to text” to be strangely compressed so that becomes no longer “texted” but the rather uncomfortable “tex’d”?

Update: the weekly limit seems to be 250 incoming messages. More info from Twitter here

Mountbatten Lecture video up on

That's me on that is

The video from my recent IET lecture is now (update: new URL…) online at That is all.

10 Years at IBM

10 Year Pen

10 Year Pen

I recently celebrated my 10th year of being an IBMer. In recognition of this milestone event, I received a rather lovely sterling silver pen. The hallmark 925 means it’s 92.5% silver (the other 7.5% is probably copper, or other alloyed metal, to increase the hardness). The other marks suggest it was made in the UK (the lion), specifically Birmingham (the anchor).

One third of my life in one company. Wow. I’d quickly like to thank the friends and colleagues at IBM (many of whom have already moved on. I mean you too) who have made the last ten years so enjoyable.

Recent Reading

Back in September, I listed the books I’d been reading recently. Well, here’s the selection for October (and early November).

Recent reading

  • ‘Miss Wyoming’, Douglas Coupland – not my favourite Coupland, but enjoyable enough.
  • ‘The Xenephobe’s Guide to Icelanders’ – a birthday present, together with The Wisdom of Crowds and EBC&B, from Kaman (thank you!). Very funny, as well as educational. Not as racist as the title would have you believe.
  • ‘The Glasshouse’, Charles Stross – a loan from Kyb. Really very good indeed. Better, even, than ‘Singularity Sky’. Stross may be my new favourite scifi author.
  • ‘This Wisdom of Crowds’, James Surowiechi – One of the many books I felt I should have read by now. Perhaps a little dry, but informative.
  • ‘Egg Bacon Chips & Beans’, Russell DaviesRussell is not only a lovely chap, he writes an excellent book. You know Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down? Imaging something like that, but for EBC&B, and perhaps even more charming.
  • ‘The Steep Approach to Garbadale’, Iain Banks – I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. The predictable Banks twist ended up being a little different to what I was expecting.
  • ‘The Gum Thief’, Douglas Coupland – multi-layered? A return to form? I’m still not sure. Better than JPod, in any case.
  • ‘Love All the People’, Bill Hicksa collection of shows, letters and writings. If you’re a Bill Hicks fan (isn’t everyone?) then you’ll love being able to see the way his work develops over time.

Links for Saturday 10th November, 2007

IET Mountbatten Lecture 2007

Last night I deliverd the 30th annual Mountbatten Lecture for the IET. The Mountbatten Lecture has been around for 1 year longer than I have, so it was quite an honour to be invited to speak. It was lovely to have some friendly faces in the audience (thanks to IBMers Ian Smith, Andy Piper and James Taylor for coming along) and I was pleased to see they met up with Adrian Trenholm. I was also able to invite Ren Reynolds (no relation) and my wife Rachel, both of whom also came along to the formal dinner after the event.

Here are the slides I used for the lecture.

I covered how people are already using virtual worlds to work, learn and play.

I quite enjoyed it (with the exceptions of a couple of brief moments when I totally lost the thread of where I was going). A few things I’d have done differently:

  • I could have used some live demos, rather than just pre-canned video clips. This is a tough call, but by avoiding the risk of live demos I probably missed out on people really getting a sense of how a virtual world really feels. (The other reason I didn’t give a live demo of a virtual world was not wanting to show just one, and not having enough time to show 3 or 4. Hmm.)
  • I spoke for (I think) about 55 minutes, and had about 10 or 15 minutes for (encouragingly lively) questions. I wish I’d left even more time for questions, because that is usually the bit I enjoy more, but also the way that people get to hear what really interests them.
  • I totally forgot to record the audio (something I’ve become quite good at recently). In the rush to get ready, I forgot to even take the mp3 recorder out of my jacket pocket. D’oh. Oh well. At least the IET captured the video. It will be avilable via in a few days (I’ll update with a direct link later).

Given how broad the audience was, it was always going to be quite a basic introduction to the space. The best feedback I recieved afterwards was from non-technical people who enjoyed hearing an introduction to virtual worlds they could appreciate. That was always the aim, so I was happy with the evening.

Update: video now available via

Walking the Digital Dog – Work, Learn and Play in Digital Worlds – The IET 30th Mountbatten Memorial Lecture

Andrew (Roo) Reynolds

Andrew (Roo) Reynolds, IQ Collaboration Development team, IBM – Metaverse Evangelist:

2007-11-08 05:52:46.0 IT Channel

>> go to webcast

Intermittent downtime

Public service announcement: (and everything else on the same shared server) has been intermittently inaccessible to me for a week now. Rather frustrating, and the reason I’ve not been making regular updates recently.

I hope that will resolve this soon.

Update: I’ve moved server. You can expect more frequent updates now. Thanks for your patience.

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