Archive for 2005

Conferences 2006

December 28th, 2005  |  Published in events

I’m on sabbatical, but when an interesting conference like LIFT06 is being organised a bus-ride away from my chalet, I think I have to make an exception. I’ve made my booking – are you going too? Let me know.

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This is what happens next

December 8th, 2005  |  Published in misc

The coding’s done on version 1.0 of the BBC Programme Catalogue and I’ve handed it over to the BBC for testing and deployment. Now I’m going snowboarding. I’ll be living in Morzine in the French Alps until the end of the winter.

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XTech 2006 wants you

November 18th, 2005  |  Published in events

The XTech 2006 Call For Participation has just been published, and you should be submitting something. You have until January 9th 2006.

XTech is a superb European tech conference covering internet, XML, browser and open data technologies. This year’s conference has a Web 2.0 flavour – think AJAX, tagging, identity, digital rights, owning your own data and opening up information for reuse. Don’t think business models, think really great demos.

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London Web Frameworks night was great

November 18th, 2005  |  Published in rails

I had a great time presenting yesterday evening at the London Web Frameworks night. Huge round of applause to Dean Wilson for putting it together. I learnt interesting things about Catalyst and Django from the other speakers, and did my first public demo of the BBC Programme Catalogue. I’m immensely proud of the site, and I think it came across.

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REST On Rails

November 3rd, 2005  |  Published in rails, rest, xml have just published an article I wrote for them last month entitled REST On Rails.

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The BBC’s programme catalogue (on Rails)

October 31st, 2005  |  Published in rails

UPDATE: The BBC Programme Catalogue has launched at

“The BBC plans to open up its archive to make a treasure trove of material available to everyone.”BBC Press Release, August 2003

Ever wondered what’s in that archive? Who looks after it? It turns out there’s a huge database that’s been carefully tended by a gang of crack BBC librarians for decades. Nearly a million programmes are catalogued, with descriptions, contributor details and annotations drawn from a wonderfully detailed controlled vocabulary.

I’m the lucky developer who gets to turn this hidden treasure into a public website. No programme downloads yet, but a massive searchable programme catalogue.

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Using Wikipedia and the Yahoo API to give structure to flat lists

September 2nd, 2005  |  Published in metadata

Some of my recent (and final) work at the BBC has involved breathing life into old rolodex-style flat databases of content. With my colleague Tom Coates, I’ve been puzzling over how to take a list of text strings like this:

"AGNEW, Spiro", "ATTLEE, Clement", "BARBER, Anthony", "BEVAN, Aneurin", "BLAIR, Tony", "CALLAGHAN, James", "CHAMBERLAIN, Neville", "CHURCHILL, Winston", "COULTHARD, David", "DYALL, Valentine", "EDEN, Anthony", "FOOT, Michael", "GAITSKELL, Hugh", "HAGUE, William", "HEATH, Edward", "HESELTINE, Michael", "JENKINS, Roy", "KINNOCK, Neil", "MACLEOD, Iain", "MACMILLAN, Harold", "MARSHALL, David", "MILLIGAN, Spike", "NIXON, Richard", "REDWOOD, John", "THATCHER, Margaret", "WILSON, Harold"

and turn it into a network of directed links like this. Hopefully anyone who has a passing knowledge of the history of the British government will agree that it’s a convincing little map, easily usable as a basis for navigation around the concepts attached to the text strings

We found a pretty neat automated solution, entirely based on public internet resources, that requires no input at our end apart from the text strings above.

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What happens next?

July 12th, 2005  |  Published in misc

I’m very excited. At the end of September I’ll be leaving the BBC after more than four years of productive and fascinating work with digital television, radio and the internet.

I’ll be sad to leave the company of so many informed, intelligent and engaging colleagues (to link just three), and more than anything I will miss my team. Paul Clifford, Matt Patterson and Matthew Wood are three of the most talented individuals I’ve ever worked with.

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Stemming tags, and one website to the tune of another

January 30th, 2005  |  Published in web is still giving me food for thought. Here are two toys I’ve made recently: a tag stemming tool that helps you tidy up your tagging using the Porter algorithm, and a (Flash) screen-recorded demo of seamlessly embedded in the BBC Radio 3 website.

(Maximize your browser window! Apologies for the slow playback speed of the movie; although you’re welcome to browse the javascript, it’s something of a pain to get it running on your own browser. I’m looking at how I can turn it into a reusable and configurable Firefox extension, but for now it’s just a demo built with Greasemonkey.)

UPDATE: I had to demo this to a mixed audience at the BBC this afternoon, so I put together some quick slides to help me explain the step-by-step process that goes on behind the scenes. Perhaps someone else will find them useful too.

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Conferences, conferences

January 30th, 2005  |  Published in events

Two conferences are looming large on my radar this week. I’m speaking at Emerging Technology, which happens in San Diego in March, and I’m on the Program Committee for XTech 2005 in Amsterdam in May. Early registration is still open for both conferences (although the O’Reilly one closes very soon).

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