Polaroid Last picture show

Polaroid Last picture show - Telegraph: "There may be hope yet for Polaroid lovers. The Impossible Project (the-impossible-project.com), formed by a group of European Polaroid enthusiasts and ex-employees, has leased a former factory in Holland, and aims to restart the production of Polaroid film later this year. They are planning to produce one million films in 2010, bringing the Polaroid magic back to life."

Oh Yahoo! How I hate you – let me count the ways...

I remember back when you were young – you were just a humble directory of links, an large assortment of bookmarks – something like a Yellow Pages of the web. But for anyone to be in the directory they had to submit their URL to you via an online form and it had to be checked out by you before finally being added.

That was very tedious way to go about things and it sucked.

Yahoo! mail
Then later on - you did your own version of web based mail (it was at a time when everyone and their dog was providing their own versions of hotmail - they all jumped on the bandwagon seeing it as a revenue stream or eyeball sticky for adverts or something) and like all web based mail at that time – it sucked. You gave out such a mean paltry amount of space – so if a you as a user got a lot of spam (and web based mail addresses are a magnet for spam) or any mail with image attachments – one had to regularly check your mail online (in the days of dial up that was a pain) and keep constantly deleting things or very quickly would be 'over quota' and any new messages wouldn't be received. So going away for weekends or holidays without internet access – made it totally impracticable for mail. Even so it took Yahoo mail a long time to introduce spam filters – and then a bit longer after that to realise that that spam shouldn't still be counted towards the allowed quota. Then it took a longer time after that (and competition from Gmail's far, far more generous mailbox size) to up the allowance. But it came too little – too late guys. There's something to said for being innovators – rather than just imitators – and if you're going to be copyists then at least try to do something to improve and add value to what you're copying to make it attractive... OK? Like the way Google often manage to.

As it was I ended up using my yahoo mail as mainly a disposable catch-all for software and hardware 'registration' purposes – you know, where you need to collect some activation code or whatever – and thereafter the company takes it upon themselves to flood you endlessly with 'special offers' and 'upgrade now offers' – I allow that sort of mail to languish in my mailbox unread before I get around to deleting it still unread. Oh, and while I'm on the subject last year or the year before yahoo upgraded their mail UI. I tried it. It ran so slowly - all because it seemed far more concerned in updating the page just to show an endless rotation of damn banner ads that I had no interest whatsoever in (and most were adblocked anyway)– that it made reading and sorting mail so near totally unusable that I reverted back to it's old style pretty sharpish. That said, I haven't looked at my account for months and months now – it being a home for the aforementioned registration spam, and newsletters I signed up for and can't be bothered to read – oh, and a few dead inactive yahoo groups and spam – lots and lots and lots of spam. Because yahoo's spam filters are still pretty damn useless. So not a very good web-mail experience there then.

Yahoo – the search engine.
At some point rather than just a directory of links - you decided to try and be a web search engine. But your results always sucked. And with your home pages so chock full of links and lists and icons and clutter. Without realising it – you became a great advert for the young minimalist clutter-free, fast and useful results providing Google. Whoooops. It's taken you a long while to admit to that suckiness though. Nowadays you're letting Microsoft's new 'Bing' do the work for you aren't you? (Microsoft – mmmm, now there's another company that got where it has through either copying or buying up other companies innovations.)

I remember the original Geocities. They were great – a place where any amateur could knock together a homepage of their very own for free. Well – except for having to put up with a fairly small banner advert at the top. So great an idea – that you bought the company. So great that you went further and decided to lay a copyright claim to everyone's creator-generated content and then you really went to town with the adverts – great big pop-ups, ads running across the top, down the sides – and oh – surprise, surprise it only served to drive people away. Whoooops. Geocities is dead now. Which is a shame.

eGroups – Yahoo Groups.
Then there was eGroups – another great little company – you already had Yahoo Groups – but they wasn't nearly as good. So people kept using eGroups – it had much better features like embedded thumbnails of pictures in the mail – so a user didn't have to download a whole picture if they didn't want it – and nothing was deleted, everything was properly archived on the web – so anyone could go away for a while and still be able to catch up later. You bought the company and then rather than keep all the features that was good about them you systematically stripped them away. eGroups was effectively turned into Yahoo Groups – but you already had that – so why then...? oh wait – of course, maybe you couldn't stand the competition. Furthermore, two of the things that came to be a big bugbear for me was – picture attachments where no longer stored online within the groups message archives – to get pictures you had (and still have) to have messages delivered to an email address – on a busy group that could be dozens a day – you couldn't pick and choose from thumbnails what you wanted to see any more – it was all or nothing. Then you plastered MASSIVE (and totally) inane banner adverts within all of those individual emails. [I'm still haunted by the memory of having seen hundreds of yahoo dating site adverts – *vomit* yahoo dating - where did that come from?) It was really just a legit form of spam. Of course this meant you couldn't really use a yahoo mail account for yahoo groups – especially not with all the bloated spammy adverts and or with any picture attachments – you'd easily run over your allotted meagre quota within a day or two... so you'd have to have a proper email account somewhere – which meant – oh yes – you didn't really need that yahoo mail account... whooops! No one thought it through did they? "Using yahoo groups alongside yahoo mail - why, whoever would have thought of such a thing ever happening? It's not as if they're from the same company or anything. -Oh wait..."

Yahoo ID
Which is – I'm guessing – around the time the invention of the annoying YahooID thingy came to be – we know it's there primarily to keep track of everyone and what they look at on the interwebs – all mainly so Yahoo can sell all that eyeball and mouse-click info on to third parties. That's just tacky and altogether a bit too Big Brother-ish for my liking. Hiding an opt-out clause deep within pages of lawyer-speak doesn't endear me to you either.

I've been lucky not to forget my yahooID and password because apparently the procedure to try and get so much as a password reminder is a nightmare of labyrinthine legalese-ridden form filling. Which brings me onto another big sucky thing about yahoo – it is deeply steeped in legalese which it often uses as a shield to hide behind. Whenever a person has a genuine grievance they have to go through weeks if not months of on-line form filling only to be ignored for a while longer before they get a response – if they get a response. I don't know if humans even work in that part of Yahoo. I suspect it's just servers packed with programs that spout random legal jargon - specifically designed to fob humans off.

Yahoo the home page and web portal.
Over the years the Yahoo corporation has grown and grown (or is that -groan and groan?) – and that front page got ever more and more and more things plastered over it – yahoo does so much now (well, you either copy -badly, things far better done elsewhere, or else buy up other web companies – and trash them). It's painfully obvious that you've long been trying to be something like AOL – a walled garden – a complete one-stop shop for everyone's internet needs... all to draw in the less savvy newbie internet user (like AOL used to (or still does as far as I know)) But what it means in reality is that you've spread itself out so thinly and become very much a Jack-of-all-trades but master of none.

Because that front pages hs always been so cluttered and so jam packed full of stuff and with your insistence on drawing lots and lots of boxes and having lines around -everything the whole mess is reminiscent of one of those free weekly local newsheets that get pushed through people's doors only to be tossed – unread - straight into the recycling bin.

Here's some free market research for your information Yahoo: When I want to read news – I go straight to a newspaper website, when I want to know train times – I go straight to a train timetable site, when I want to search for something I use the google search bar - or the clean minimalist google page - see the pattern emerging here? When I want something specific I never go to a page where there's hundreds of little bits and bobs of every and anything else amid loads of advertising – in fact I go out of my way to avoid advertising. I have no use for it. Most people don't.

Bizarrely you've now tried to address this 'too much' stuff problem on the newly redesigned homepage – but adding in these roll-out pop-out mini-pages... what that really means is that for an unsuspecting new reader hovering over almost any part of the page it results in a giant sudden pop out mini-page covering up everything else. Urgh. Worst is the new nagging pop up boxes urging you to 'personalize' your homepage with – stuff. Stuff from yahoo, and now extra stuff is available from all manner of other places. Much like you've be able to with iGoogle for years now – (which is another page I already don't bother myself with either). So since I already don't feel the need to have a all-in-one homepage portal – all this being constantly nagged and reminded to have one – I'm finding more than a bit of an intrusion. But yahoo has always had a long love of having those pop ups that cover up a whole page – indeed you used to have massive animated flash adverts that did that (I don't know if they still do – I could never find the 'close x' fast enough - and I've been using adblock for firefox for so long now). But it's a sad fact of life that many advertisers have managed to confuse 'being in-your-face-and-irritating' with 'attention-getting' that they haven't yet twigged that all this might engender a counter-productive and deeply ingrained hostility to the very brands they're supposedly promoting.

Indeed very much like how you've taken it upon yourselves to uglify the Flickr logo with a tacky new 'from Yahoo' addition. Tampering with flickr in any way is always, always an unwise move (they have forums you know, it's a community based website - not just a place for people to store and how off their photos) - but there you go - Yahoo, you obviously just can't help yourself.

Apparently we're soon to be subjected to a whole new marketing campaign from Yahoo! and see a whole new 'radical' make-over. I mean I can't help thinking some of that $100 million might have been better spent on making any number of Yahoo services a lot less sucky, and that Yahoo! becoming a shade more graceful and a whole lot less in-your-face might do them more good. But it looks like that is most definitely not on the cards... Instead I'm guessing we're gonna get bombarded with the usual stock images of shiny happy people with dumb slogans telling us how they are so euphorically, dementedly blissed out simply because they use Yahoo for some aspect of their internet usage.


Terrorist threat 'exploited to curb civil liberties'

Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has accused the Government of exploiting public fear of terrorism to restrict civil liberties.

Her comments came on the same day as a report published by international jurists suggested that Britain and America have led other countries in "actively undermining" the rule of law and "threatening civil liberties" in the guise of fighting terrorism.

No shit Sherlock.

Doubts over DNA profile timing

The government also recommended the DNA profiles of children aged 10 and over, arrested or convicted of a minor offence, should be deleted by their 18th birthday.

But Professor Laycock said this went against established criminological findings - which show offending peaks at the age of 17 or 18 and remains high until the mid-20s.

Isn't this rewriting the law from 'innocent until proven guilty' to be "'perpetually presumed potentially guilty until proven innocent' - and even after that only to be thereafter perpetually presumed potentially guilty again".

BBC NEWS | UK | Doubts over DNA profile timing

digital copywrongs

Poor Lily Rose Allen - after trying to stand up for -what would you call them - starter artistes? baby bands? from having their livelihoods taken away from them before they start their careers through all that evil wicked bad internet file sharing malarkey... she's found herself unable to cope with the endless abuse and has now shut up shop... she might never record again (like that would be a bad thing?)

Meanwhile things in the totally legit world of music downloading aren't so rosy either with Eminem taking Universal to court over issues over royalties and iTunes/Apple.

Which just proves the whole issue is a lot more complicated then Lilley and Peter Mandelson would have us believe.

Certainly what is wrong here is the proposal to force all ISPs to essentially wiretap all of their customers in case one of them shares something.

tacky branding

Originally uploaded by groc
Yahoo to kick off new branding campaign.

Yahoo shares fell 14 cents at $16.90 in late-afternoon trading on Nasdaq.

Mmmmm - wonder why that might be? Wouldn't be in part down to yahoo's usual infamous cluelessness would it?

Just a random thought ...

Aside from the whole dodginess behind this issue:

Attorney-General sacks housekeeper alleged to be illegal immigrant

Downing Street backs attorney general who hired and fired illegal Tongan maid.

(and this all seems to be yet another case were the Government has rushed through another piece of hastily and ill thought-out knee-jerk legislation and as ever - it's come back to haunt them.)

Just exactly when did it become so de rigueur that the middle class in this country have to have a foreign national working for them - as a house keeper or cleaner or whatever. It really does seem to be quite the little fashion item now, and somehow a British cleaner doesn't have the right cachet.

Why would that be do you think? That they might be happier having someone working for them that can't quite grasp 100% - the English language so they can't go around reading their mail perhaps? Or is it that they're good for working just that little bit under the level of minimum wage, and either would never dare (or even know how) to make a complaint?

I don't know - but it all seems a bit creepy to me.

Video adverts launched in the US

Is it just me - or does this seem like a complete waste of what could be good technology?
All that to just advertise - crap.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Video adverts launched in the US

some poll somewhere sez 70% 'back rail renationalisation'

No shit Sherlock. You mean the penny has finally dropped that the whole privatisation of Rail was a massively bad idea?


BBC NEWS | UK | 70% 'back rail renationalisation'

link dumping

An interview with Banksy.

Scientists uncover new ocean threat from plastics.
This sort of thing frightens me to death. I love plastic. No, I really do - but what the hell is wrong with the human race that it has no respect for it and almost zero desire to keep re-using/recycling it? How is it have we developed this whole-scale use-once and throw-away mentality? Apart from the whole 'yay! plastics are really cheap' thing - because that's pretty much over now - no, it really is. Now we're finding out they're poisoning us - and the environment. Oh dear.

Mmmm Zombies - and Noel Fielding is their King.

Murdoch Jr vs the man from Auntie: Sparks fly over BBC online.

What? A giant international media conglomerate - consisting of very many TV channels, and a great many newspapers (much of which tell the none-too-bright how to vote in elections - and as a consequence Governments (of either leaning) are in constant fear of) are trying to make the UK go 'oh boo-hoo, boo-hoo, poor, poor little Sky TV and most of the press - they're losing out to that big bad BBC - and it's shameful monopoly on balanced, non-biased, intelligent news reporting... That's just not fair is it?

Rebuff: Mark Thompson calls James Murdoch 'desperately out of touch'. Well, that's about right.

Popcorn is good for you, say scientists.

Banksy is ruined by mistake

Mistake? Sounds like a case of bloody-minded incompetence to me.Blur Banksy is ruined by mistake.

Richard Curtis to write episode of Doctor Who

Curtis, whose film credits include Notting Hill, Love, Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral, and whose TV credits include Blackadder, the Vicar of Dibley, and Mr Bean.

"There will be a monster. And a famous historical figure will battle the monster."

- by odd coincidence Steven Moffat wrote a Doctor Who spoof 'the curse of fatal death' for 'Comic Relief' wherein Blackadder/Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson played the Doctor (and by even thinner coincidence the Vicar of Dibley's Dawn French's hubby - Lenny Henry also played a spoof Doctor for one of his shows... (and even Dawn French herself has done a Doctor Who spoof - and she played opposite Catherine (Donna) Tate in the comedy series 'Wild West'.)

So there.

Richard Curtis to write episode of Doctor Who

Peter Mandelson speaks out...

Taking something for nothing is wrong . . .
. . . that’s why we must stop illegal file sharing and give the creative industries a breathing space.

This is Peter Mandel's article - with annotations in brackets by me:

It was said this week by a former colleague of mine (anonymously, of course) [well of course - because you're such a well known dick and so viciously pettily vindictive and will make their life very difficult] that I do not “get the internet”. While I am still something of a novice when it comes to streaming and downloads, I have been around long enough to know that piracy is wrong. That is why my department [IE - Mandelson alone] decided to consider strengthening proposals to tackle illegal file sharing and downloading.

[piracy is wrong is it? Hmmmm. Always? Hmmmmm. well, ok, how ignorant can you get? Anyone remember Radio Caroline? It was pirate Radio that led to the BBC to finally and even then rather reluctantly get in step with the rest of the groovy 1960s world and introduce Radio One - to gain a whole audience of young people, an audience that it had hitherto been totally ignoring. Later - with the advent of home compact cassette recording devices where 'home taping was [supposedly] killing music' - yet, strangely enough the industry - rather than collapsing - actually thrived. Otherwise how would it have the vast resources it currently has to persecute individuals through the courts or to lobby easily swayed politicians? *cough*]

The thinking behind this is clear and has nothing to do with dinners in Corfu. [Yeah right. We believe you. *cough*.] The Government [is it now? So you're the Government now are you?] decided to reopen the issue of suspending internet connections as a sanction of last resort against the most egregious offenders for two simple reasons.

First, taking something for nothing, without permission, and with no compensation for the person who created and owns it, is wrong. [Would you like to explain that principle to the record companies you're supporting? For example a certain Mr Morrissey has asked fans NOT to buy a compilation of his early works because HE IS NOT BEING PAID OR COMPENSATED FOR IT! Not only that - can we apply this principle to the 'free' holidays and meals and various other perks you've (and many other MPs have) been enjoying at the tax payer's expense over this time in power?] Simple as that. I was shocked to hear that as much as half of all internet traffic in the UK is for the carriage of unlawful content. [You should be shocked because it's very likely all these figures have been completely made up.] If technical solutions can discourage piracy, then as a Government we are obliged to consider them. [hello - Big Brother - we love you. (of course I don't mean the stupid channel 4 programme here.) So now we're all to monitored and wire-tapped without so much as a court warrant IE everyone is treated as a potential criminal with the ISPs acting as inteeligence gatherers. So much for privacy and civil liberties then.]

Second, our creative businesses drive much of our economy. They provide not only tax revenues and jobs but also ensure that Britain punches above its weight on the global cultural stage. We are a creative people and we do these things well. These businesses will get no favours from government, but we should create a regulatory environment where they can operate without having to deal with illegal competition. [Can you define 'illegal competition' please? Give examples where possible - and also explain if it is in any way opposite to 'free publicity'. Furthermore, how does this apply to the fact most of these purported 'illegal' downloads are more likely going to be from American entertainment companies? Mind you now that we have an extradition treaty - any British citizen can be tried by American laws and be sent over there to stand trail. Something is deeply wrong there.]

Let me emphasise that nothing has been predetermined. [???? Really? ???] And I understand why internet service providers (ISPs), consumer groups and digital rights activists are disappointed that we have decided to consider a range of tougher and faster measures. But let me try, if I can, to reassure them. [But you quite obviously DON'T understand - and that's the whole problem. If you did you wouldn't have come out with this lazy knee-jerk reaction to want to rush through harsh ill-though-out draconian legislation - which has been the hallmark of NuLabour ever since they gained power.]

It is essential that film, music and other content companies do more to build joint services with ISPs, such as the deal between Virgin Media and Universal Music to allow unlimited music downloads for a monthly fee [still at the planning stage that one]. Surely it is self-evident — a no-brainer, if you like — that they need to build a win-win position with ISPs, so that they compete by developing new services for consumers rather than competing solely for market share. It’s that which will effect the sea change that we are looking for. [yeah - like they understand how media in the age of the internet and the end of scarcity works.]

To those who have raised their voices about the proposed changes this week, let me say that I hear their concerns. I have read their blogs and can live with the abuse (I’ve had worse). [He's read their blogs? Huh? Oh I guess one of his staff could hae printed off a few pages for him. I can't see Mandelson using a computer somehow... Wonder if he's on 'gaydar'?]

I made clear to the content industry that we would consider legislation that includes temporary account suspension only if it was seen as the sanction of last resort. It would only follow a well-established series of warnings and clear evidence that they were taking action to defend their own rights. This will not turn your ISP into Big Brother. The process is driven by rights holders reporting activity on public file-sharing websites [because they've been so good at that before now, with their suing of suing grannies and babies and dead people and even fax machines] rather than service providers monitoring individuals’ internet traffic. [errrr but aren't ISPs going to be the ones made to write to their subscribers with those threats of disconnection?]

I want to know more from digital rights groups and consumers about other steps that should be taken to protect people who may feel that they are at risk of being accused without good cause. [But only if there's a few free holidays and a few gourmet dinners in glamorous locations in it first - heh Mandy?] This could perhaps be because of legitimate file sharing, or because of others hijacking their connection. Having a fair, fast and effective appeals process will obviously be essential. [Yeah, like that'll all be *so* easy to prove.]

We are fast approaching the tenth anniversary of the trial in which Napster.com, the site that enabled the first real boom in file sharing, was shut down after legal action by record labels. This legal action was hugely expensive, time-consuming and ultimately did little for consumers. Why? Because it failed to encourage rights holders to develop new business models and did nothing to seek to change consumer behaviour. A decade on, we have another opportunity, and for some in the content industries, perhaps the last. [No, actually the smaller start up companies have been ahead of the game for years - it's only the larger entertainment giants that have been dragging their reluctant heels for so long.]

Ultimately the answer to combating digital piracy lies in the hands of those who own content and those who control access to the internet. [groan] Rights holders already have to take risks, and will have to take more — for example, by developing new online services such as Spotify that make much more of their back catalogue available in a way and at a price that makes sense to today’s consumers. The age of flogging a CD in HMV for £20 is well and truly over. [Tell the music/entertainment industry that!] Ask me what I think will finish off piracy as a real threat to our creators and creative businesses and the answer is obvious — it is the market. [Oooh how Thatcherite of you... yes, yes, yes, the Market will solve everything. Like it has so far...]

Provide customers with a good quality, cheap, safe and efficient experience, and they will ditch illegal downloading. If the threat of temporary account suspension and its implementation in a small number of cases helps to build a market to make this happen, then I believe it is worth our serious consideration.

[oh - it doesn't start to address so many of the problems - for instance - the non-legit availability of long deleted music from dead artists - or of ancient tv programs and films that for various reasons (usually arcane copyright issues -quite usually with music rights) never get released - but all these things - which are calling out for copyright laws to be rewritten wholesale get totally overlooked all because executives at EMI are pissing themselves that a few teens might be downloading the latest (insert name of current popular artist here) tune for their iPods... *gah!*]

Now, remind me again - who elected this man? And how did he get to represent - anyone?
And is giving him a nice holiday and a few posh meals all it takes to get any government policy through? Can we club together to do that? Because it's a funny (peculiar) kind of democracy we're running here...

innocent Frenchman scares American Airlines with pocket gadget

One of my bugbears is the extent of airport security paranoia - it really is totally ridiculous and aggravating - and I'll wager doesn't make any of us much safer from proper terrorists.

Charles Bremner - Times Online - WBLG: Frenchman scares American Airlines with pocket gadget