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Month: April 2006

“Lazy Town” on CBBC

Just been watching “Lazy Town” on CBeebies with my (mesmerised) daughters (3). I reckon it should be called “Crazy Town” since, erm, everyone’s just crazy there.

It’s visually a real treat: imagine a cartoon meets real actors meets sponge sets and puppets. Hmm – put like that it does sound weird. Primary and pastel colours, plastic masks, music-hall piano and “ta-daaaa” sound effects and that goodie-goodie moral “reveal” in the story telling… Sigh.

The main character is Sportacus (!) who’s erm sporty. There’s a nice kid Stephanie who’s nice and a traditional baddie (like Dick Dastardly) called, helpfully, Robbie Rotten. The rest are puppets. The plot each time is: Robbie dresses up and does something naughty. Stephanie is suspicious but nice, everyone else is gullible and shallow. Sportacus is nice, dim, well-meaning but fit. He bumbles his way to ‘victory’, helped sometimes by the innate non-nastiness of the populace of the town.

So far, so boring. What saves this show is that it’s got great dance routines (yes, I AM sad!), good filming (think “Delicatessen” for kids) and it’s just sweet.

I was pleased therefore to find out that it’s Icelandic. Huzzah. That explains the ‘unique’ take on life. The creator saith:

The philosophy of Lazy Town is
to motivate children and inspire them to live a healthy life.
The creator of Lazy Town, Magnus Scheving, also plays
one of the leading roles, athletic, super-fit super-hero
Sporticus. This children’s programme has received wide
acclaim in the United States.

Sigh – if only life were like this!

Fast Company has an article on it (thanks, Google!):

It really shouldn’t work: a 41-year-old Icelander in a blue spandex unitard, with a waxed Dali mustache, floppy cap, and goggles, doing one-handed push-ups, high kicks, and backflips to convince kids that exercise is cool. …

In a (healthy) nutshell, each show is a 30-minute tale of sporting Sportacus outfoxing the slothful villain Robbie Rotten and encouraging LazyTown’s young couch potatoes to swap their PS2s for outdoor pursuits and fresh vegetables. The pink-haired heroine Stephanie interrupts the action with bubblegum-pop music.

More info on Wikipedia.

That my girls are currently glued to the telly rather undermines the hope (the medium kills the message in this case).

Right – enough typing: there’s a dance/pop routine on: “if you believe there is always a way (always a way”, “gorra believe it, gorra believe it, gorra believe in yerrself”)”. Just going to drop onto the sofa with the girls and get motivated. I believe it!

“Just the one” – drinks invite

When I worked at ICP, towards the end of our time there it became a bit of a joke that we went to the local for “Just the one” before heading home. One turned to Two and before long it was a bit of a blur exactly how one got home!

In honour therefore of some interesting times through the boom and bust, a number of us meet from time to time for a “quickie”: refugees all from BBC Online, ICP, office-sharers and, well, the drinking clan of the Holborn area.

It’s therefore time for the next installment:

11 May 2006

6.30pm onwards (just the one, of course)

Clerkenwell House

Here’s hoping it’ll be a warm enough evening to loiter outside.

Clerkenwell House has seen the dot com come and go. We went from 10 people to over 100, back to 8 and then up to 50 between 2000 and 2004, and in that time all leaving “do”s, joining drinks, celebrations, sales closure meetings and ‘strategic development brainstorms’ have been held there. I’ll be fun to be back there for a drink after a long year away.

Webwinkel-ing in Amsterdam

Just back from a fun trip to Amsterdam and Utrecht to speak at a conference with Joris Beckers of Fred Hopper – info on my ‘business’ site here. It was a really fun trip and Joris is a great host (sadly, I had consumed too many beers to snap photos of the 5-piece female close-harmony barbershop blues quintet that spontaneously – nay, randomly – coalesced and performed at a bar in Rembrandt Square…).

I discovered that “webwinkel” is eCommerce: how cool is that?

So – to impressions:

1) City Airport is just fab, especially now that a) the DLR goes all the way there and b) I’ve worked out how to use my Oyster card. Result.
2) Turbo-prop planes are rather small and are not for nervous flyers who don’t want to feel every cloud bump and the effort of climbing… I think I’ll find jet routes in future!
3) There are lots of “Hotel Amsterdams” in Amsterdam. Yes, I know that seems obvious now, but after being dropped in the wrong one, directed to another wrong one, checking out a very wrong one on my travels I finally found the rather lovely “Eden” hotel Amsterdam. Phew. Very modern, good service and one of the best hotel beds ever.
4) Dutch trains are fab. Take care though to check whether you’re getting on an intercity (fast), sprinter (not fast at all) or the other one (stops everywhere and has a cuppa). Nearly made a mightily embarrassing mistake…
5) Schipol airport has nothing to do with transport – it’s a typographer’s art installation. The signs, ah the signage!
6) I think there’s an internet boom on. The conference had some stunning stands, my two favourites being the small lake, 4 industrial wind machines and remote controlled yacht racing (god only knows what they actually sold) and the 15m-high “hands of the clock” cycle a loop-the-loop machine. Nuts. Sadly the crapcam decided to die and erase the photos. If not I could also have shown the football teams, the traditional waffle chef in a kitchen, the cars… It was 1999 all over again!

Went for an early morning wander with the XPan and so will post the panoramas as soon as I get a mo to do some scanning.

Speaking: “What’s New in Online Marketing?”

e-Consultancy have just announced details of the 2006 “What’s New in Online Marketing” event on 7 June 2006. I shall be speaking on “Web 2.0”, navigating between excitement and cynicsm, focusing on the ROI opportunities and pitfalls for businesses. There’s a great line-up of speakers, many of whom I’ve heard before and combine expertise with engaging presentation styles. Very much looking forward to this!

“robot” pregnancy doll

NOELLE’s Having a Baby – Gizmodo

Oh dear – with our third child due in less than a month (eek!) I can’t decide whether to order one of these or just forget about it!

Worth checking the product page for the puns (honestly!):
the product is a result of “hard labor” (sic) and “really delivers”. Heh.

Lunch 2.0

Lunch 2.0 – About

Well well well – with charming inevitability, we have (after Web 2.0, Marketing 2.0, eCommerce 2.0, Business 2.0)… “Lunch 2.0”.

This concept, according to the latest lunchors (those excellent folk at Meebo) is as follows:

Lunch 2.0, to give a bit of background, was a cool idea that a few folks from Plaxo had. They bring together people interested in new emerging technologies around the Bay area and have them chat during lunch.

[the ‘about’ page at still has the out of the box ‘about’ page].

You can read about the event on the Meebo blog.

It’s a pity that they didn’t take the opportunity to radically reassess the lunching paradigm, to denote the phase change from Lunch 1.0 (so yesterday, dahlings) to Lunch 2.0. There’s no historical nod to the sandwich houses of L2.1, nor the late-90s “soup craze” of L2.2, redifining, as it did, the notion of a ‘liquid lunch’ – reappropriating the term for vegetarian tee-totallers the world over.

I’d have liked to see some key components of Web 2.0 showing up in the lunching, to whit:
* modular, not monolithic. A pizza’s just too old school. Mezze, tapas or even sushi would have had a more component-oriented approach.
* API/service-oriented. While take-away certainly counts as Service 1.0, I think a more personal, one to one, and individual service approach should be encapsulated here. Maybe cooking at the table for the person next to you? chopping their food? Pre-mastication?

Seems like there’s plenty of room for people to build on this ‘modern lunching’ notion: that is, before we all tire of “me too” namings and/or Web3.0 necessitates Lunch3.0!


Darn, an even more cunning take on the ‘nutrition/eating 2.0’ bandwagon: Cake 2.0 or ‘Cake on Rails’. Thanks to Chris Lake for this.

Helen of Troy’s beauty was such that it could launch a thousand ships. What is the quality therefore of Web2.0 that it can launch a thousand parodies??

Apple sticking in the “Boot”?

Apple – Boot Camp

So, in advance of the world’s hackers wrecking their lovely new MacIntel hardware, Apple has made a marketing plus out of the inevitable: dual-boot Apple hardware.

Boot Camp lets you install Windows XP without moving your Mac data, though you will need to bring your own copy to the table, as Apple Computer does not sell or support Microsoft Windows.(1) Boot Camp will burn a CD of all the required drivers for Windows so you don’t have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.

How lovely. Nor, one assumes, will we need to pay for VirtualPC anymore (although having a Windows PC running ‘within’ OSX is more convenient than having to reboot of course).

People buy Macs for the consistent, integrated and reliable experience: by controlling the hardware Apple can ensure that each laptop isn’t a random munge of roughly-equivalent bits from the parts bin (Dell?) – this makes driver compatibility and interoperation easier to manage. For this privilege we pay through the proverbial nose.

I wonder how smug we Maccies will remain when, running XP natively, we find our machines out-run by PC hardware costing a third of the price? Heh – never mind, just admire that illuminated keyboard 🙂

This announcement though seem tactical to me. Apple is a bipolar company in many ways: it wants to be “an OS company” and a “hardware company”, yet also wants to be “the centre of our digital lives [tm]”. This move could on the one hand herald a split between the hardware and OS, or see the start of drawing the Windows world more firmly into the luxury grasp of Apple: hardware, iTunes, iPods and i-everything-else.

Maybe more than anything though it shows the need to ride many horses at once. “Straddigee” is all well and good, but having some tactical options in place (sort of a darwinian bet, I spose) never hurts. Sony showed with their Vaios that design and style could exact a premium in the market, while Toshiba and IBM showed that build quality and ease of maintenance could win friends in technical support and corporate procurement. Apple has managed to charge higher prices for (imho better) hardwear but refusing to unbundle the OS, disguising the price for each. If Boot Camp indicates unbundled prices then Apple could need to justify higher hardware costs at the same time as a higher software licence than MS Windows. Let’s hope that the Apple magic can draw in Windows users sooner than someone works out how to get the Mac OS experience on a $300 Dell machine!