Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Vehicle Licensing in the UK

It might be sad but I got really excited the other day when I received a car relicensing form through the post and noticed that it had a website - I got even more excited when I read the booklet and realized that the system was on line and that the powers that be had finally got the Tax Disc, MOT and insurance databases to talk to one another. However, it looks like things have gone wrong. I logged on to the website two days back and instead of getting a website I got a bunch of source code. Today when I tried to log-in I got a message saying " the Web Service is currently unavailable due to essential maintenance". I got a similar message when I tried to ring the phone just now. It looks like I will be standing in a queue clutching paperwork with everyone else as usual this year. Is it too much to ask for the UK government to install a computer system that actually works?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Aspects DVD

I have just picked up on this interesting DVD format magazine - Aspect: The Chronicle of New Media Art . It appears to deal with a wide range of New Media Art and artists. I am going to subscribe for one issue so look out for a review of its work in a later post.

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Monday, July 10, 2006


Another interesting conference:-




Sunday September 3rd to Wednesday September 6th, 2006


DRHA2006 will feature:

a.. Keynote by Katherine Hayles, author of "Now We Are Posthuman",
"Writing Machines" and "My Mother Was A Computer", Professor of
Literature and Design/Media Arts, UCLA, USA
b.. Keynote by Roy Ascott, President of the Planetary Collegium,
Director of CAiiA-Hub, and Professor of Technoetic Art
c.. An Introductory Talk by Richard Beacham, Director of the
Visualisation Lab, King's College London
d.. A presentation by performance artist Stelarc via video-conference
from Melbourne Australia, "the most celebrated artist in the world
working within technology and the visual arts" (Amazon 2006)
e.. Performances and "in-process" inputs by 'body>data>space' (UK)
and SWAP (Portugal), an electronic concert, book and organisation
Launches and Receptions, Conference Dinner, Debates, Panels and over 100
Papers, Posters, Exhibitions and Installations across a wide range of
Humanities disciplines (Archaeology, History, Languages, Linguistics,
Literature) and the Visual and Performing Arts, outlined at
f.. The Conference takes place in the beautiful environment of
Dartington Hall, South Devon: the C14th Great Hall, the Courtyard Rooms,
modern studios/seminar rooms: keynotes, papers, performances, panels,
exhibitions, posters, installations, events...
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: places limited to 250

Further details and enquiries:

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

NAWE Autumn Conference "To Infinity and Beyond: New Writing and New media"

The autumn conference organized by NAWE looks like being an interesting one (for anyone who enjoys debating the relationship between new media and writing). The CFP and conference details are at: - 'To Infinity and Beyond: new writing and new media' .

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

CFP for Technoculture

Interesting conference CFP

CFP Technoculture
Computers and Writing Online 2007
February 5 through February 9, 2007

Conference Co-Chairs:
Dr. Keith Dorwick,
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Dr. Kevin Moberly,
St. Cloud State University

Conference Co-Chairs Keith Dorwick and Kevin Moberly
are seeking synchronous and asynchronous presentations
that address a wide conception of scholarship that
focuses on a range of issues that could be briefly
summed up as “technology and society,” or, perhaps, “technologies and societies.” Successful papers for this online conference should focus on the ways humanists read technology as a special case of cultural studies.

In particular, the conference co-chairs are interested
in a conception of “technology” and the “humanist
impulse” that pushes beyond contemporary American
culture and its fascination with computers; we seek
papers that deal with any technology or technologies
in any number of historical periods from any relevant theoretical perspective.

Presentations from scholars in all disciplines who are
working on the intersection of culture and technology
(see our now lapsed call for "Technoculture," a
special issue of Interdisciplinary Humanities archived
on this site for a further description of our
interests) are welcome. Papers need not focus on
writing instruction, in spite of the name of the
conference, to be considered. Papers about how to do
or work with technology that do not look beyond the
use of technology to its cultural meaning will NOT be

NOTE ABOUT THE CONFERENCE: For years, the research of
scholars involved with the connections between
computers and writing (CW) has focused largely on,
well, “computers” and “writing.” With the continued
maturation of that sub-discipline, CW scholars have
begun to think about a wider conception of our own
work, with research and teaching that focuses on a
range of issues that could be briefly summed as
“technology and society.”

Successful presentations for Computers and Writing
Online 2007 should focus on the ways compositionists
and other scholars currently studying the use of
technology might rethink our work and move beyond
composition to a larger focus on cultural studies that
could include but not be as dependent on writing

The keynote events will consist of panels comprising
first, second and third generation scholars (those who
founded the subdiscipline without specific training in
CW but in other areas of English studies; those
trained by those first wave scholars specifically in
CW; and those new voices trained by specialists by
training and research now graduating and entering
their careers) and other online events that focus on
where we’ve been and where we need to go.

For both asynchronous and synchronous events, eight
page papers will be due in .doc, .rtf, .pdf (or the
hypertext equivalent) and placed on the website for pre-conference
reading by Jan. 31, 2007; discussions will follow
during the conference period. The conference will be
held February 5 through February 9, 2007. Synchronous
events will be held in AcadianaMOO at; asynchronous events will be
held on the Computers and Writing website.

One page conference proposals due to by midnight, Friday November
17, 2006.

Dr. Keith Dorwick
Assistant Professor of English and Rhetoric
Department of English
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette
P.O. Box 44691
Lafayette, LA 70504-4691
Internet (VoIP) Number: 1 (773) 362 4707

Personal Radio

I have recently started to listen to the 'Inside the Net' podcast with Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte - One of the more interesting web services discussed in the back catalogue of this podcast is Pandora Internet Radio - Pandora Internet Radio - Find New Music, Listen to Free Web Radio. I have really enjoyed playing with Pandora. It has a neat, easy-to-use flash interface. It loads quickly on my wobbly broadband connection... and it has re-introduced me to the pleasure of play list serendipity.

Pandora works differently from many Internet audio sites (and programs like eye-toons) because it does not simply shuffle music that you have pre-specified in some way. Similarly, it is different from conventional radio because it does not play a one-size-fits-all playlist as a broadcast. Instead, the user selects a favourite tune or artist (in my case I reverted to my childhood and selected a tune by Free) and the software creates a 'station' which will play music that is similar to the tune selected. This means that you get to hear ye olde favourites (Bad Company, ZZ Top) but you also get to hear music by artists that are unfamiliar to you ('Reason to Be' by Joe Prichard). The beauty of this system being that these 'known unknowns' are playing music that you might well like, as it has been selected because it is very similar to song that you selected. There is also a thumbs-up, thumbs-down function and the opportunity to skip a certain number of tracks each hour. You can also seed your playlist with extra tracks to create a more varied listening experience.

Pandora works because of its ability to play music that you might enjoy. It is based on the rather pretentiously-named Music Genome Project.

The brains behind the project note:-

we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.

However, despite disliking the name of the project ( I am guessing it is supposed to be a little tongue-in-cheek) I think that its output is quite brilliant when it is applied to Pandora. It is a great listening experience. Masses of serendipitous encounters with forgotten favs and acts that just got passed the radar. I have also found myself hunting down the artists I have enjoyed and buying the odd track on i-tunes. I have also set up a number of different stations to create a varied palette of listening. Perhaps most significantly, I have found myself excited about music for the first time in ages.

The site has a number of economic models. I have being using the free version (which has banner ads). You can pay a small fee and not be bother with the ads...though I have to say that I have been using Pandora in a minimised window and the ads are not visible until I decide to find out the name of the artist I have been enjoying (which is not much of a burden).

Thank you Pandora!

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