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andrewducker July 13 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 13-07-2014

andrewducker July 12 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 12-07-2014

andrewducker July 11 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 11-07-2014

andrewducker July 10 2014, 19:22

Labyrinths and Lepidoptera: How I spent my day

We went out today to Symonds Yat. Which is, I think we can all agree, an excellent name for anything.

We were visiting the Butterfly Zoo and the Hedge Puzzle, which I think we can all agree is a terrible name for anything, but particular for a maze which was actually great fun (and had me completely lost wandering around it).

The butterflies were great - I love anything which has you wandering around with the animals, rather than separate from them, and having a huge butterfly land on my leg - and then crawl merrily onto Noah's hand, to be paraded around for ten minutes and shown off to anyone who would hold still and listen, was a joy.

We then wandered through the maze, Julie saving me from bumbling blindly in circles, Mike made it through in three minutes flat, and Mum and Noah had to be rescued by Hugh. There was a dome in the middle, to make it easier to find it, and a viewing platform that allowed you to shout helpful instructions to people. Or to take the piss, if they happened to be your loving brother.

Photos - and videos - under the cut!
Because I love you.Collapse )

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
andrewducker July 10 2014, 17:22

Solving the newspapers' money problem.

Reading this story about the New Yorker changing its online strategy is puzzling for me.

Because, once again, they're going for a variant of "We'll give you some stuff for free, and then when you're hooked, charge you for full access."

And that's a strategy that seems completely mired in the past. It assumes that a reasonable response to "You've read 9 articles in the last month, so the 10th requires you to sign up/hand over cash." is to do so - because clearly if you read ten articles on the New Yorker you're a budding New Yorker reader, ready to pledge your allegiance and wear the t-shirt.

Whereas my reaction to hitting a paywall is to sigh, and go check who else has the same story. Because I wasn't convinced that _that_ article was going to be great, I just wanted to read about the particular news event, and so long as I'm reading somewhere vaguely reputable* I don't really care who it is that's telling me what happened.

So the time to drop the paywall in front of me is not when I arrive at your site for the first time - it's a quarter of the way through every article. Once I've had a chance to get into it and decide that it's worth reading the rest of it.

And then (and this is the important bit) you have to make it _really_ easy for me to pay you. Not with a micropayment system that's specific to your site - because frankly I've never read the Minnesota Examiner before, and am not likely to again, so I'm not wasting three minutes on the sign-up dance. But with a system that covers hundreds of newspapers, if not thousands of them.**

I want something that essentially asks "Are you a subscriber to the gold-plated read-any-newspaper-you-like system?" - and if so lets you in to read as you like, collects a bunch of stats centrally, and then divides up my $50/month based on what I read where. Or tells me that this article is 5 cents and lets me click ok to carry on, again using a centralised system shared between hundreds of newspapers that I only have to sign up to once.

Because I don't mind paying for news, but I'm not a reader of any single newspaper- I'm a reader of _the media_. And so, frankly, are most online paper readers nowadays. The days of following a single paper of record are, if not dead, then on the way out swiftly***. And if you want to make money off of me directly (rather than through advertising to those people that don't use AdBlock) then that's something the newspapers need to take into account.

So once I'm signed into AllMyNewspapers.Com I never want to see another advert or paywall ever again. If they don't make it that easy, I really can't see it working****.

*By which I mean that they only lie 5% of the time, and I know where their biases are. :->
**I know I'm suggesting a massively centralised system here. I'd rather there were multiple competing ones here, but I suspect that "paying for content" is something that's going to swiftly become a monopoly.
***So far as I can tell the majority of people get their news through people linking to things on social networking sites,emailing them round, and other sharing methods. Some people, obviously, have to go to the site directly in the first place, but I strongly suspect that that's rapidly becoming a minority sport.
****Excepting specialist content. The Financial Times can get away with it. Or The Economist. Or even places like Ars Technica, which I pay for.

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
andrewducker July 10 2014, 13:09

Coin locks and supermarket trolleys

BBC article here, talking about Morrisons removing all of the coin locks on their trolleys.

And I have mixed feelings. Because it is a pain having to ensure you have a pound coin with you whenever you go shopping*. And I don't like being treated as if I'm going to steal a trolley.

On the other hand, I do remember when they first came in, and we went from never being able to find a small trolley, to suddenly there being a load of them available at all times...

*Or constantly carrying a thing which is the same shape as one. and also seems to always cost £1.

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
andrewducker July 10 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 10-07-2014

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
andrewducker July 9 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 09-07-2014

andrewducker July 8 2014, 16:35

Greetings from the wilds of almost-but-not-quite Wales

We are on Holiday! We left on Friday morning, and following a change in Crewe that had us dashing up and down a bridge in under three minutes (with me carrying both suitcases), arrived safely in Hereford at 4-ish.

We are staying here*, in a very nice cottage, with my parents, both my brothers, and my nephew Noah. Meredith sensibly claimed lack-of-holiday and stayed up in Edinburgh to go dancing and spend a whole week in blissful solitude.

The food has been its usual awesomess**, particular as on Monday we celebrated our wedding anniversary by abandoning everyone else and heading to the Bell at Skenfrith, which is fully deserving of its high ratings. I started with the seared pigeon breast with a beetroot slaw, and then Julie went for a straighforward rib-eye, and I had a braised pork belly that was perfectly crunchy on top and then melted in my mouth. I finished with "textures of strawberry and cream" which consisted of both tiny wild strawberries and normal-sized ones, along with a variety of tiny dollops of whipped cream, ice-cream and white chocolate. Julie had the dark chocolate cremaux, pistachio ice cream and chocolate parfait, which I sampled and adored. Should you find yourself in the area, I recommend it.

Other than that, things have been blissfully quiet. We've played several games each of Agricola and Dominion, played in the garden with the dogs a lot, visited the odd ruined castle and gone for a few walks. From today's one, these pictures:
BigCollapse )

The first two of which are panoramas of the area, as seen as we wandered around the hilltop of Ysgyryd Fawr. The third was one of many places where there was a two-hundred-year-old wall, collapsed, with trees growing through it. There clearly used to be more farmland atop it, now collapsed back into woodland, and rather beautiful for it.

Now, of course, my legs ache. But in a good way :->

We left Julie behind this morning when we went for the walk. She's on a three week break from her chemo drugs while they switch her to new ones which don't cause her to be exhausted all the time. We've dragged her out on several occasions so far, including to a horse and pony rescue center, and this morning she decided to have a lie in. Which was interrupted by scrabbbling sounds that turned out to be a shrew. The came to an arrangement by which she would go and get a cup of tea, and in exchange it would vacate the premises before she returned. And so nobody got hurt.

*I am, in fact, sittting at the kitchen counter in the third photo, waiting for potatoes to parboil.

**Not for nothing did one ex of Mike's refer to the annual Ducker gathering as MeatFest.

Note: Depending on your layout, browser, etc. those panoramas may be huge,or not. If not, I recommend opening them in a separate tab, they're very wide!

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
andrewducker July 8 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 08-07-2014

andrewducker July 7 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 07-07-2014

andrewducker July 6 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 06-07-2014

andrewducker July 5 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 05-07-2014

andrewducker July 4 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 04-07-2014

andrewducker July 3 2014, 17:56

I need to know which of these things is more annoying

Poll #1974128
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 70

More annoying

View Answers
Mentioning that you love something and having a bunch of your friends comment saying how much they hate it.
50 (72.5%)
Mentioning that you hate something and having a bunch of your friends comment saying how much they love it.
11 (15.9%)
8 (11.6%)

Context is going on at a friend's FB at the moment.
andrewducker July 3 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 03-07-2014

andrewducker July 2 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 02-07-2014

andrewducker July 2 2014, 09:56

We continue our long march into a glorious future

Following on from my post on society slowly changing there was some questioning in the comments as to whether it was really happening, or if it was just me in my liberal bubble.

I'm very happy to provide some evidence for the former. In this case, the UK's biggest Tech magazine (basically a monthly collection of the latest toys) - "Stuff". Which has, until this point always had a swimsuit model on its front cover, following the simple line of thought that "Tech is for boys. Boys like sexy women. Stick a woman in a bikini on the cover, holding an iPhone, and you increase the sales."

However, an increase the number of complaints they've had from readers about this practice, combined with a sudden realisation that 40% of their readership is now women, made them try out some covers without the models. And sales went up between 6% and 10% when they did so. So they're going to stop doing it.

As the current editor-in-chief says:
"What we want to do is make sure we’re not creating a barrier,” said Findlater. “It’s the right thing to do in 2014, because attitudes have changed. I think the audience is ready for it, the market’s ready for it, and we don’t want anyone to feel alienated by our covers."

Seems things really are changing for the better*.

*Even if some politicians, judges, and sections of the population still live in the 1950s.

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
andrewducker July 1 2014, 11:00

Interesting Links for 01-07-2014

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

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