Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Very Merry Midwinter (or Midsummer)! And a Happy (belated) New Year to you too :-)

The Earth's at maximum tilt (defining the middle of the season) on the 22nd Dec, this year, but closest to the Sun (sort of marking the actual new year) on the 5th of Jan (at 1am UTC in fact) - so a Happy (belated) New Year to you then too!

See herehere & here for background info.

NB in 2011 Midwinter occurs at 0530 on 22nd Dec - usually it falls on the 21st, but not always, hence the generalisation in the diagram above!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

How to use a List to tame the new Facebook. And hide those right-hand ads...

1. Create a List - I called mine "All".

2. Add the friends & pages you want to it - I added all mine. You need to go through the alphabet in search box to add pages.

3. Voila! Use the list instead of News Feed to see Facebook as you are used to.

4. Mark the List as a "Favorite" so it appears at top left under News Feed.

5. If you add new friends or like new pages you'll need to add these to your List. Maybe do this once a week so you don't forget.

6. Make sure to check in the Manage List drop-down & select all the "updates to show" that you want.

Erm, that's it, except when you use the List, as an added bonus, you won't see adverts on the right or the new activity stream :-)

There may be a few advanced issues with this, eg Page admins can't do this in page view. If you find any other issues or tricks do let me know...

PS I can use my new List on my Android FB app too, and it remembers it as the default view!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Campaign where your audience is & in Inverclyde that's Facebook (mostly).

Popular online campaigns in Inverclyde (and probably in most other areas in the UK) are predominantly centred around Facebook. There's some older Bebo & MySpace stuff too as well as a slowly increasing Twitter usage. But contrary to where some social media folk focus, Facebook is the place to be seen.

Facebook dominates so much that there's a wild mix of personal profiles used as pages, pages used as groups, groups used as pages & even personal profiles disguised as pages(!) If you compare the followers of Pages vs Twitter accounts it can be 10 to 1 in favour of Facebook.

There's good reason for this. Personal Facebook profiles are what the vast majority are used to dealing with & they are comfortable with that. Folks don't relate so well to the new groups, though that's improving. Pages are networking together better and mainstream users are getting more and more used to them. Still, if you want to make an impact quickly a new dedicated page, run like a profile, is the way to go. Many people find Twitter just too unintuitive to "get-it".

Add on some semi-automated Twitter and you can reach out to a wider bunch of earlier adopting types to pull them into to your core content, which while not fancy, is easily stored on Facebook as Notes. Personally I think it's best to add a blog to pull it all together as a central point, but the main traffic still comes in from Facebook. As always if there's no actual content, don't bother.

With new tools like ifttt it's possible to semi-automate content & messaging across many channels, tuning them as the newer channels evolve and the older ones display strong user patterns.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Towards a new #FollowFriday. Mentioning new followers avoid cliques & adds sparkle.

Sick of seeing the same people mentioned over & over in #FollowFriday messages on Twitter? I am. I also noticed a new trend of welcoming new followers rather than reinforcing existing cliques. It seems much more open, democratic & less celebrity obsessed, so I've been adopting the practice too.

What I do now is to follow everyone mentioned in a #FollowFriday that includes me, then after a week if I haven't grown tired of their tweets, will say hello as an alternative to the now out-dated #FF. I get about 10 or so new followers each week & say hi to them the next in only one or two tweets. If other folks upgrade to this approach they'll find their tired timelines have some new sparkle.

Of course I do reserve the right to give special mentions to pet projects, causes or extra special folks, but I think I'm now sharing more of the love with newer folks who deserve a break. What do you think?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

I have wanted to see this sort of thing working for sooooo long! Click the eyes, nose or mouth...

Edit: There's a nicer example I've done over at this blog

Edit 2. It seems broken at the moment. Will check back on this stuff...

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Fermat's lost "proof"?

Google's Doodle today reminded me of some old thoughts. First, see this Explanation

Years ago I read Simon Singh's book on this & got scribbling after I imagined there could be a simple geometric proof rather than an algebraic one. A proof that Fermat could have seen.

Basically, a**n + b**n = c**n is solvable when n = 1 or 2, but not for 3 or more.

I saw these three formula elements as three LINES and thus -

Powers of 1 describe straight lines eg 1**1 + 2**1 = 3**1 with the the lines overlaying each other in a ONE dimensional space.

Powers of 2 described right angle triangles on a TWO dimensional space eg 3**2 + 4**2 = 5**2.

Powers of 3 however would describe three lines arranged into a THREE dimensional object, which CANNOT be done... the core of the possible proof.

Powers above 3 would face the same general restriction, ie we don't have enough lines to create the object with those dimensions.

Who knows? Maybe someone can tell me why this is a false line of reasoning, or...

Monday, 13 June 2011

Monday, 16 May 2011


Hot on the heels of Prof. Stephen Hawkings' remarks on the fairy-tale nature of heaven, it's about time we got rid of the monopoly on faith-led assemblies in our schools and either banned them altogether or introduced round-robin slots for all the major faiths & secular groups. A local council told me the other major faiths would not have folk to officiate, but I phoned around and quickly got representatives from each to express real interest in providing speakers etc. We should be exposing our children to the heritage of all faiths & secular ideas, not perpetuating indoctrination. So what are we waiting for? Search #ScotSchoolSense

Temporary image borrowed from without consent or affiliation of any sort.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

#BuyScottish? What do you think?

Next time you're shopping for anything take a look at the alternatives open to you. There are many factors, but buying locally produced, distributed and/or serviced stuff should be a win-win voice in your head. You'll be surprised how almost everything is available with some Scottish element. To make it easier for everyone to know what's out there I'd like to kick off a wee Twitter hashtag #BuyScottish to use when you spot something that fits the bill. But what do you think? Let me know...

Image from but only 'cause I shopped around!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Wrong Aspect Ratio

Squashed old clips are too often seen in modern news footage. A better option would be to crop, rather than squeeze, to fit the latest broadcast proportions.

Image & more Wikipedia.

Viral Hoaxes

Many warnings you'll see online about computer viruses, especially those spread via social networking sites such as Facebook are actually viral hoaxes. Rather than there actually being any threatening virus, the hoax warning, often actually a prank, spreads by sneaking past the rational part of the reader's brain and hooks onto the ancient emotional response to protect the group & thus finds its way via the fingers & keyboard to a newly replicated incarnation online.

So the next time you spot a viral hoax just ignore it or post this link :-)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Wealth: Fair Share?

The graph below is based on some of the data at

It shows how top 1% own over a third & bottom half own just 1%. Still trying to refine how best to display this.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Erika's homework - Scottish Wildcats

Eldest daughter has been putting together a slideshow for a school project...

You can also view it here via this short link

She's found it very easy edit via Google Docs & the nice thing it can be downloaded as a PDF or Powerpoint PPT too.