Archive for 2006

RailsConf 2006 is over

June 25th, 2006  |  Published in events

RailsConf wrapped up this afternoon and I’m heading back to reality. Before I fly home to Amsterdam, I’m staying one night in actual downtown Chicago. It’s a great relief after so many nights in O’Hare Airportsville. Luckily the quality of the conference made up for the terrible location.

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Annotated source code for Second Life flickr screen

June 19th, 2006  |  Published in misc

I’ve had quite a few requests for the source code of the Flickr screen for Second Life that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Here’s the code, annotated with links to the Second Life coding wiki and a few notes.

I’m only publishing the LSL code, because the serverside code isn’t very interesting and does pretty much exactly what it says in the previous post. If you want to run your own flickr screen, the URLs in the code below should work just as well for your objects as they do for mine. If you have problems, let me know. I reserve the right to switch off the code if the traffic gets too high, but I’ll post here if I have to do that.

UPDATE: Sorry, but I no longer have the server capacity to run the backend for this service. I’m told that new features in the Second Life Viewer mean that you can achieve the same thing now with Shared Media.

The code uses SL’s streaming media feature to load the jpeg into a texture. This comes with a number of restrictions: ‘You are allowed one movie (or “media” resource) per land parcel. The movie will be played by replacing a texture on an object with the movie. Users will only see the movie when they are standing on your land parcel. Otherwise they will see the static texture. Script functions only work for objects owned by the land owner or deeded to the group that owns the land. (Remember to set asset permissions on your script and object as well as sharing it with the group!)’. I’m hoping for much better media support than this in future Second Life versions. Read the rest of this entry »

What I do for a living

June 5th, 2006  |  Published in Uncategorized

My name is Matt Biddulph. Since October 2005, I’ve been an independent freelancer, open to new work. I’m currently based in London but I’m open to travel and have worked remotely for clients in a number of countries. I specialise in the design of software systems for the internet. I have a particular interest in digital media, social software and data on the web.

I’m an experienced developer in most of the languages and systems you’d expect from more than ten years of work in the industry: Ruby (and Rails), Python, Java, Perl, Unix, databases, web servers and so forth. These days I spend as much time consulting on the design and modelling of systems as I do writing code for them. I write about my personal experiments in technology here on hackdiary, and it’s always a good reflection of my interests at any given time.

Before I went freelance, I spent several years working at the Press Association and the BBC. There’s a lot more about that period in my CV.

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Alas, Second Life! Web 2.0 in a virtual world

May 29th, 2006  |  Published in web

Second Life has been my new hacking obsession ever since I bought a laptop fast enough to run it. I don’t spend a lot of time socialising in the gameworld, but I am fascinated by the possibilities for makers of new user interfaces, useful virtual objects and playful toys. With every object being scriptable, aware and active, it’s a proving ground for Everyware.

Version 1.10 was released last week, and hidden among the exciting new visual modeling possibilities of shiny rendering and flexible objects was Second Life’s own XMLHTTPRequest: llHTTPRequest. Using asynchronous callbacks, it gives the platform an important new capability: communication with the web on demand. A lot of what we are learning about AJAX makes sense here, in this world of Asynchronous Lindenscriptinglanguage And Some-sort-of-data (ALAS!)

I’ve spent a few hours hacking on some toy objects with this new capability, starting with the mashup de rigeur: Flickr integration. My home in SL now sports a simple picture frame. Touch it and it looks up your avatar name to see what your favourite Flickr tag is, picks a random picture with that tag from Flickr and displays it on its surface. If it hasn’t met you before, it asks you to tell it what tag to use.

Because Second Life is so wonderfully visual, here’s a little demo movie that I recorded with Tom Coates:

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XTech 2006 and Barcamp Amsterdam II

May 21st, 2006  |  Published in events

XTech 2006 and Barcamp Amsterdam II just wound up. It’s been a mind-expanding, productive and wonderfully fun week. It was my second time on the XTech programme committee, and my first ever Barcamp.

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April 26th, 2006  |  Published in metadata

While I’m talking BBC, here’s a story from a little while ago. I’m a big fan of, and I’ve been using it for a few years. Because I used to play my MP3s on a headless linux box in my flat, I wrote a commandline python mp3 player that could ping My profile is a pretty good picture of my listening habits.

At BBC Radio, the radio stations are moving steadily from traditional analogue studios to fully digital systems that play nearly all their music from hard disk. As a member of the Architecture Team there, I had access to experimental data feeds from these systems. One day at work I asked myself a question: what happens when you plug behavioural data generated by an automatic process into social software designed for humans?

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BBC Programme Catalogue is live

April 26th, 2006  |  Published in rails

I’ve returned to the working world from sabbatical and now it’s a big day. I’ve been looking forward to this all year.

This afternoon I flipped the switch on the BBC Programme Catalogue and let everyone in. Stop reading this now and get in there.

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Conferences 2006, Part III

March 31st, 2006  |  Published in events

No sooner have I returned from my USA trip than I have to think about the next steps. I now have two exciting speaking engagements and a couple of fun side-trips planned. I’ve decided not to return to living in London once the snowboarding season is over; I’m going to go wherever work and speaking takes me, and take a month or two living in each place along the way. I’m very much looking forward to taking on freelance work and getting back to making things on the internet again.

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The Application of Weblike Design to Data: Designing Data for Reuse

March 8th, 2006  |  Published in talks

My esteemed former colleague Tom Coates has been giving a talk recently entitled Native to a Web of Data: Designing a Part of the Aggregate Web. It’s a tour de force journey through key issues and implications of the renaissance in web thinking that’s happening right now.

In his talk, Tom very kindly references a talk I gave at last year’s XTech conference. It’s based on a great deal of work he and I did together at the BBC, and endless conversations that we’ve had on the nature of the web. It’s called The Application of Weblike Design to Data: Designing Data for Reuse and hopefully those slides are some use to those seeking background for Tom’s narrative.

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Conferences 2006, Part II

February 27th, 2006  |  Published in events

Time has flown, and I’ve only got two months left before the winter season is over and the snowboarding is done. It’s time to get on a plane again and reconnect a little with the tech world.

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