Sarah Hartley

Archive for November, 2007

Go on a cultural tour of Second Life

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It seems everyone’s getting into Second Life but if you’re still not sure what it might house that interests you, then this weekend’s event at the Whitworth Gallery could prove useful.
The artist, musician and media critic Mathias Fuchs is offering a cultural tour of the virtual world tomorrow afternoon – but in the real world setting of the gallery.
Organisers say: “The tour will introduce some of the cultural highlights of Second Life and looks at the possibilities (and limitations) of culture and creativity in this online environment. This tour takes place in ‘real life’ in the Sculpture Court of The Whitworth Art Gallery. No specialist computer or Second Life skills are needed.”
This event coincides with the major retrospective exhibition Autonomous Agents: The Art and Films of Lynn Hershman Leeson who is currently working on a SL art work.
The sesion is free and runs from 2.30pm until 3.30pm on Saturday, December 1.

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November 30th, 2007 at 1:26 pm

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Victorian pride in Second Life

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Urbis is holding another of its Second Life events this Wesnesday (Nov 28).
The eminent historian, newspaper columnist and TV celebrity Dr Tristram Hunt will be discussing the lessons of Victorian civic pride for the present day, the challenges of rolling out regeneration and the need for political bravery from the leaders of regional cities.
The evening will consist of a 30 minute lecture followed by an open debate with the audience.
For those not familiar with the virtaul world of SL, there’s some easy to follow instructions on how to join this event at this page on the Urbis site. If you are already on SL, click here to teleport to the event.
The first of annual Friedrich Engels Memorial Lecture series will be on Wednesday, November 28. 7-9 pm (uk time) 1200 – 1400 (Linden Time)

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November 26th, 2007 at 11:16 am

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1 cardboard cop = 2 real ones?

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Just look at who’s turned up at my local supermarket. Yes its the cardboard copper herself, PC Anna Gaskell. As reported recently, Anna has been deployed to cut down on shoplifting.
When I clocked her at Tesco, she didn’t seem to have many ne’er do wells under lock and key. Standing by the doorway with a cheery smile she looked as if she was about to saunter out of the store but she didn’t even break into a jog when an elderly motorist crashed her car into the side of a shopper’s parked car.
Then again, neither did the flesh and blood coppers parked up in their big van. Proof of sorts I suppose that one paper PCs can be just as much use as two of the real thing.

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November 25th, 2007 at 11:25 am

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Best writing on a blog 2007

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So finally I reach the end of this look at the winners of the Manchester blog awards and perhaps its a case of saving the best to last with the winner of Best writing on a blog award.
Day of Moustaches is funny, its warm and, hurrah, (thank you, thank you) it’s NOT anonymous.

Chris Killen is so not anonymous, he can also be found on Facebook and mySpace plus he’s secured a well deserved two book deal with Canongate .

The blog is a collective of funny observations, short stories, prose, book chapters and more.
Anyone who can come up with this weekly shopping list (below) has got to be worth a look so sign up for the RSS feed today.
Breakdown of weekly spending (i need to start saving money)
hos – £90
bitches – £100
miscellaneous crunk – £500
food – £16
toilet roll – £2
showergel from somerfield – 60p
trip to the museum – £1 (voluntary)
big issue – £1.20
trip to Gregg’s – £2/£2.40 (depending on jam doughnut)
crystal meth – £40

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November 24th, 2007 at 10:59 am

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Best Political Blog 2007

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Nearly at the end of this look at the winners of the Manchester blog awards and I’d better get on with it.
Here’s the blog which took the award for the Best Political Blog and here’s where I’m go to throw a spanner into the works. Why this won a Manchester award I do not know.
Not that it’s not a decent political blog – it has its moments. But its relevance to Manchester is largely tenuous to say the least.
Instead of being involved in reportage on the politics here on the doorstep, it’s mostly a look at world politics with a strong theme of commenting on The Guardian.

When The Guardian is put away, there’s some interesting postings away from politics about people parking in cycle lanes and other city centre traffic annoyances. Anyone who commutes into the city is sure to want to contribute to the Jeremy Clarkson Award. (See Nov 3 posting).

It’s a good clear standard blog layout but, yet again, completely anonymous. What’s the problem with revealing yourself? That’s every single winning blogger so far prefering to hide their true identity.
So while Politaholic is a good read in a world sense, for me it’s not a Manchester blog, simply a blog created by a Manchester-based person. And that’s an important difference.
Perhaps next year the judges will publish the criteria on which blogs are awarded or make the nominations more specific? Any thoughts on this welcome below.
Last, and finally, I’ll take a look at the Best writing on a blog award winner.

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November 23rd, 2007 at 2:06 pm

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Does Sabi rock?

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He’s back! After an absence of some months, I saw the familiar sight of the man standing by the roadside with a sign bearing the legend www.sabirock.co.uk.
Always dressed in dark clothing, often wearing a hat or hood, he was a regular sight on my daily commute into, or out of, the city until recently.
Once, I was alarmed as he stepped out from high up inside a road bridge under Mancunian Way but more often he’s to been seen one of the traffic light junctions on the A57, safely standing on the pavement.
I’ve never been able to get a photo, as I’m always driving when I see him, but he must be familiar to many.
What happens when he’s not appearing at a road junction near me? Is he on another of the city’s commuter routes when he’s not on mine?
I had assumed the URL would lead to a cut-price jewellery website or one of those earn-megabucks-while-sat-at-home-doing-nothing job adverts but it turns out to be a one-man musical mission.
There’s a page of text, some spoken auido and then music. No hint as to who this person is, whether the singer, songwriter, guitar player is the human signpost or any contact details. A mystery.
So does Sabi rock? Have a listen here. I’m not sure I understand any of it but let me know what you think.

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November 14th, 2007 at 9:27 am

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Warning to social network users

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USERS of social networking sites are being warned about the risks they take with a new government-backed campaign which is coming to the city this week.
The Get Safe Online intiative is urging the 11m who use sites such as Facebook, mySpace and Bebo not to reveal too much personal information about themselves.
It is also bringing the campaign to Manchester this Thursday with a travelling roadshow offering independent, expert advice on safe surfing.
As well as revealing that a quarter of social network users could be at risk, Get Safe Online’s research also showed eight million people leave home wireless networks unprotected against intruders.
More than half of the over-65s polled use a single password for every website they visit, the group said and urges people to change their passwords more often.
And the risks can be very real.
Tony Neate, managing director of GetSafeOnline.org, advises:

“The popularity of social networking and other sites means that we are much more open about ourselves and our lives online.
“Although some of these details may seem harmless, they actually provide rich pickings for criminals. Your date of birth and where you live is enough for someone to set up a credit card in your name.
“So whilst most people wouldn’t give this information to a stranger in real life, they will happily post it online where people they don’t know can see it.”

There’s more information about staying safe on the website and the campaign will be in Manchester on Thursday, November 15 at the following locations:
11am -12pm Workshop for staff – Age Concern Manchester, Swan Buildings, 20 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JW
2pm – 3pm Workshop – UK Online Centre, Networks Centre, First Floor, Central Library, St Peter’s Square, Manchester, M2 5PD

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November 12th, 2007 at 11:12 am

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The caring, sharing world of online

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“It’s enough to make one cry.” Dougal blog.
“If all it takes to be ‘misled’ is to have a total lack of primary school level numeracy, it’s a wonder these people can tie their shoes in the morning – but I guess that’s why slip-ons were invented.” Steve Stretting.com
“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. I feel for the support person at the other end of that phone conversation.” NIxGuy.com.
So what are they all talking about? Yes the blogosphere has been abuzz with incredulity this week after the M.E.N published this story about a woman who couldn’t understand negative numbers.
If you’ve been away from a computer for the week the story centered on a women from Manchester who remained adamant she had won on a scratchcard:

“I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher – not lower – than -8 but I’m not having it.” has to be the quote of the year.

The story has been shared on social networking sites, tagged, blogged and emailed many, many thousands of times since it was published last week. So many times in fact that its been the most viewed story on the M.E.N website day after day. It’s ‘gone viral’ to use the jargon.
It seems everyone just loves to pass on evidence of stupidity.

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November 10th, 2007 at 10:22 am

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Flying bluetooth at Manchester Airport

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I’ve just had the first opportunity to try out Manchester Airport’s bluetooth passenger service. Billed as the UK’s first such service the idea of it seems to be to have that one-to-one communication with passengers as they progress through to their flights.
So what do you get? First a screen arrives to download in order to accept the communications. At this point I did feel rather vulnerable – having been bluejacked once before, I am wary of being visible in public places.
Once the download had occurred, I received an offer for £5 off if I spent more than £50 on booze, a two for one offer (which was available in store anyway) and the tantalising offer of cheaper parking – but only if I was able to book online which was obvioulsy too late as I had already made it into the airport so my car was already being held to ransom in the long stay.
So far, so not useful.
When the check-in desk opened, I received a text to tell me where it was and later, when the gate was called, I received a text to tell me the number. These were both genuinely useful – although I did find myself double checking before the long walk to the gate that the information was correct. (Am I turning into a travelling technophobe?)
So a bit underwhelmed, I got safely to my plane. I wasn’t presented with any must-have opportunities but it’s a free service and frankly it’s something to do while waiting, waiting and more waiting.
It did lead me to wonder what happens if your flights delayed? Perhaps it sends you a cheery little message – or discounts the price of gin.

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November 8th, 2007 at 9:26 am

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Best arts and culture blog 2007

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Created by a self-confessed professional journalist (albeit one who chooses to remain anonymous on the site), Mancubist is a slick blog.
In its own description, the author (what exactly IS the problem with putting your name/face out there for all to see?) finds it difficult to pigeonhole the content which is far wider and deeper than any personal blog.
S/he says: “I have trouble defining what Mancubist is. I can confirm that it’s a website – a blog if you must – about Manchester. That much is true. But why build it? Why write it? And why write about art, music, media, local history, rather than something else?
“On Mancubist I write, I guess, about what I’ve learnt about Manchester. I gather and consume information from wherever I can: people, newspapers, websites, your comments and emails, libraries, flyers, even council notices. It seems a shame to waste what I’ve discovered, so I post it here.”
I particularly liked the way this blog is constructed and navigated with some great web 2.0 functionality. In fact the only reason it’s taken so long for me to review this winner of the Manchester Blog Awards is that I found too many interesting links to follow and repeatedly goit side-tracked.
For someone who visits as many sites/blogs as me – that’s an achievment in itself! Good stuff.
I’ll look at the winner of the Best Political Blog next.

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November 7th, 2007 at 2:52 pm

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