_ _ _____ _ __ <*the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the uk>
| \ | |_ _| |/ / _ __ __2003-08-22_ o join! sign up at
| \| | | | | ' / | '_ \ / _ \ \ /\ / / o http://lists.ntk.net/
| |\ | | | | . \ | | | | (_) \ v v / o website (+ archive) lives at:
|_| \_| |_| |_|\_\|_| |_|\___/ \_/\_/ o http://www.ntk.net/ "Microsoft has scoffed at suggestions its software contains
back doors for use by United States intelligence services..."
- Sorry, CIA: you'll have to use all the existing security holes,
just like everyone else does
>> HARD NEWS <<
easier to use
What's this? Easier access to the machinations of the Hutton
Inquiry site, but without the apparently needless use of
Usability Vigilante! Yes, Odeon recoder MATTHEW SOMERVILLE has
struck again, improving the world's accessibility one website
at a time. In other good news: do you recall the appalling
Post Office page, with its monstrous postal code address
finder? Turns out that there *is* an accessible version of
this (no registration required) - and the rest of the Royal
Mail site too. Those sneaky disabled people have been
keeping it to themselves, it seems. In a similar vein to
the WAP version of play.com we mentioned, TXTBUX is a
convenient SMS-interface ISBN-based Amazon price checker for
browsing tightwads. BIGFROG takes an already semi-usable
interface, and stuffs it into the burlap bag of RSS with his
feeds of Yahoo News etc. And it's good to see BEN CHALMERS of
DownwardSpiral reworking Andrew Orlowski's screeds into the
format that most suits them.
- it's the Dave Spart blog!
- what the?: http://www.dracos.co.uk/web/accessibility/bbcnews/http://www.access.royalmail.com/dda/index.htm
- my eyes have seen the glory of the black text on the white
- would you recommend this photo overview?
- f u cn rd ths u hv bn sld a bk wth n vwls
All right, enough. With the most anti-climactic fanfare we
can muster, the results of our survey. The worst sites in
Britain are... any of the ones to do with trains. The
Trainline, the Eurostar site, and, especially, the NATIONAL
RAIL booking system. We got fistfuls of mail complaining
about the latter, especially by contrast to its previous
incarnation, the little app done by plucky North Londern
WAPpers Kizoom that was so much better. "The Kizoom app,"
reminisces the nostalgic STEVE BOWBRICK "... allowed you to
define nicknames ('placemarks') for favourite destinations,
remembered your current location (It's lunchtime and it's a
weekday, so you're at work, so when you click 'next train
please' you mean 'next train from my work placemark to my
home placemark please') [and] was supported by the BEST SMS
APP EVER". The new site by contrast, has enforced waits,
only four trips per page, precious little timetabling, and
... oh, the pain goes on. To eradicate this disgrace to our
nation (TM Daily Mail), we'll shower with plaudits anyone
who dares screen-scrape it into something reasonable. Or,
if pandering to busy commuters isn't quite your idea of a
charitable gesture, why not re-do our runner up: the
Dyslexia Association of London's site, which is so
unreadable as to give everybody an insight into that
- then domyheadin
- the remnants of the previous day
- your "to do" list (partly implemented)
- an animated GIF of juggling letters: that's taking the piss, isn't it?
TESCO Cambridge and GILLETTE cave in to bearded privacy
activists and withdraw their RFID-labelled razor blades;
TRANSPORT FOR LONDON unveil a somewhat more ambitious plan to
issue all the capital's commuters with RFID tags. Sure, you'd
have to be a bit paranoid to read too much into the fact that,
from next January, your London tube and bus fares go up by as
much as 25%, unless you give them your name and address to
register for their new Oyster "contactless smartcard", which
both acts as a travel pass and/or deducts money from your
prepaid account when you swipe it across a terminal. The
traffic data promises to be particularly useful for London
Underground, as their current magnetic-stripe-based dumb
ticketing system lacks the ID coding to track specific
individuals through the network, so at the moment planners
have only the vaguest idea of where most tube journeys go.
But, moving into more "tin-foil hat territory", the London
Underground is of course also one of the few places where you
can't easily be tracked via your mobile phone.
- though no word on http://www.spy.org.uk/cgi-bin/rfid.plhttp://www.kablenet.com/kd.nsf/Frontpage/5FB8B97C03173BB480256D7A004A8CEB
- aka "entry token" for health, benefits, education, etc
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
Tomb Raider 2 "expected to trigger massive interest in
Snowdonia, the location of a Chinese village in the film",
believes: http://news.google.com/news?q=trigger+snowdonia -
more plausible than "massive interest in going to the
cinema"?... BBC warns of park bagheads, marauding "gentiles":
http://www.ntk.net/2003/08/22/dohgen.gif ... go on, Egg, lend
us a quid: http://www.ntk.net/2003/08/22/greatloan.gif ...
this week's somewhat redundant Amazon "perfect partner" offer:
responsibilities also likely to include - proofreading our
recruitment ads: http://www.ntk.net/2003/08/22/dohrea.gif ...
"For an in-depth article, I might only have a couple of hours
to pull something together", says broadband fan Anjana Ahuja:
might explain her "DNA" solution to Turing's Halting Problem:
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Next week is LONDON GAMES WEEK, featuring the European debut
of HALF-LIFE 2 at the ECTS (Tue-Fri, 2003-08-26/29, free but
"trade only"), the embarrassingly repositioned "Fun, anyone?"
PLAYSTATION EXPERIENCE (Thu-Sun, 2003-08-28/31, Earls Court,
UKP8 on the door) and, in an ideal world, running battles
between the rival VODAFONE UK MOBILE GAMES CHAMPIONSHIPS and
the devastating juggernaut of the NOKIA N-GAGE TOUR (see sites
for dates and venues). But the festivities kick off with a
unique showcasing of non-virtual entertainment, as Lionhead's
STEVE "Fighting Fantasy" JACKSON takes the stage at Richmond's
The Black Horse pub, to perform "a collection of rock, pop,
blues and funk classics" with his band THE JACKSON FOUR (8pm,
Sun, 2003-08-24, free from the looks of things). Helping
decide between page 23 and page 49 of the "choose your own"
setlist will be Eidos' IAN LIVINGSTONE on harmonica and vocals
and, at the end of the evening, a bucket will be passed around
for donations towards the coding of a new Tomb Raider game.
- check local listings for details
- vs http://www.n-gage.com/tour/http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/32457.html
- Kieren leading well-argued Brussels anti-patents demo on Wed
- unless you're hypertalking with Ted Nelson in Nottingham
- plus: Brighton Bloggers meet next Fri
>> TRACKING <<
sufficiently advanced technology : the gathering
XKEYMACS is a utility for what must be the Untouchable caste
of Emacs: those who not only use Windows, but also, from
time to time, are tempted to dabble in other applications.
Since 2001, Yutaka Oishi has been tending ("burnishing", in
his words) this taskbar applet, which provides as many Emacs
shortcuts as it can within as many Windows applications as
is feasible. The dialog box looks like a walkthrough for
a control-key version of "Dance Dance Revolution", but it
hides more than a bunch of hacked key-bindings. Command-line
completion for COMMAND.COM? Recording keyboard macros for
Notepad? Your time in the wilderness is now over.
- successor to nogu.org's keymacs, keymacs+
- there's a patent on one-handed-typing?
>> MEMEPOOL <<
contains a source of http://snackspot.org/ dude, your logo's been ownz0rr3d!: http://www.palm.com/ ...
video chat with your forced labour camp buddies thanks to:
a *parody* of a Flash company site? http://www.de-construct.com/
... proof that the Internet is not yet ready for MELTING WOOD:
http://groups.google.com/groups?th=34e75e612afff39b ... filmed in
... one of these pics is not *quite* like the others, part 2:
just a matter of time before Tone Loc launches his patented
"Funky Cold Medina": http://www.nme.com/news/105934.htm ...
Govt stop using Word docs: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/3154479.stm
hopefully move to PDF files with black rectangles drawn over
secret bits: http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0308.html#8
... Death Metal remix "still not as scary as the original":
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
get out less
TV>> PD JAMES'S DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS (9.05pm, Sat & Sun, BBC1)
takes the monastery murder mystery of "The Name Of The Rose"
and, pioneeringly, sets it in the present day... marvel at the
synchronicity of C4's PSYCHIC NIGHT (from 8pm, Sat, C4)
coinciding with the Living Channel's PARANORMAL WEEKEND (from
3.50pm, Sat) - skeptic James Randi provides an alternative
viewpoint, though sadly not to the extent of going ON HOLIDAY
WITH THE [URI] GELLERS (11.10pm, Sun, C4)... while fans of
empirically based observation are catered to with the unusual-
proximity-of-Mars astronomy special THE ALL NIGHT STAR PARTY
(11.20pm, Sat, BBC2)... the original SUPERMAN (3pm, Mon, ITV),
THE ITALIAN JOB (9pm, Mon, BBC2), and the usual offhand
Gallagher brother hilarity of LIVE FOREVER (22.35pm, Mon,
BBC2) are arguably the highlights of Bank Holiday Monday...
interchangeable Irish standup Sean Lock is this year's choice
to present a low-budget trawl of ESSENTIAL EDINBURGH (11.20pm,
Wed, BBC2)... and "It took so much of my leg away I looked
like Terminator 2", says one victim of the antibiotic-
resistant "superbug" MRSA in INTENSIVE SCARES (9pm, Thu,
BBC1), though perhaps he actually means: "I looked like the
liquid-nitrogen-damaged 'T-1000' Terminator, from the film
Terminator 2: Judgment Day"?...
FILM>> apart from most of the first hour and some appalling
dialogue interchanges, "not as bad as the first one" is our
surprise verdict on LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE
( http://www.capalert.com/capreports/tombraider-cradleoflife.htm :
In defiance of the Scriptures, presents that Alexander the
Great found a box that contains the source of life on Earth,
thereby mixing Scriptures with "strange philosopy" and myth)
... otherwise the woefully underexplored world of con artists
is revisited in uninspired Dustin Hoffman ADD drama CONFIDENCE
( http://www.screenit.com/movies/2003/confidence.html : the
film could inspire some kids to try to con others in any
number of ways; a classic painting shows a bare breast and a
little bit of pubic hair)... Australian filmmakers and Billy
Connolly take a look at the lighter side of taking the church
to court in romantic comedy THE MAN WHO SUED GOD (imdb: court-
case/ journalist/ lawyer)... and there appear to be about 4
cinemas in the whole of the UK showing self-indulgent Matt
Damon/ Gus Van Sant/ Casey Affleck "two blokes wandering
around a bit" twaddle GERRY ( http://www.bbfc.co.uk/ :
contains strong language)...
>> SMALL PRINT <<
Need to Know is a useful and interesting UK digest of things that
happened last week or might happen next week. You can read it
on Friday afternoon or print it out then take it home if you have
nothing better to do. It is compiled by NTK from stuff they get sent.
Registered at the Post Office as
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