Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Thu, 29 Jun 2006

Making a Name for Myself

In relation to my previous item I Googled my name. It's a pretty common one, so I was surprised to see this site appearing as the 29th match. Looked again today and I'm up to number 7! Checking their cached version of the site I see that it doesn't find my name on the site itself, but in links from elsewhere. I'm trying to find out what those might be. Maybe claimID has had an effect already.

I don't tend to include my full name anywhere on this site, but it is on various sites I've registered on and some of those will link back here. I also don't publish my email address here, but still get lots of spam. This may be due to the address appearing in my FOAF file and in my GPG key on the keyservers. Thankfully the assassin takes care of most of the junk.

[09:19] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 28 Jun 2006

Claim your Identity

You hear a lot about identity theft in the news, but I'm not sure this is an answer to that issue. People who are registered on lots of on-line services may lack a way to publicly state that all those digital identities belong to a single person. They may also want to proclaim that they have nothing to do with other people who may share their name.

One option that has just launched is claimID. You validate that you name is associated with your email address and then you can list all those sites that relate to you. The site works nicely with some Ajax type features to allow easy maintenance. It also allows for XFN relationship links. There's also a link to MicroID that has related aims. My page is here. I'm not sure this gives me much more than I could do by putting the links on this site, but I'll have a play anyway.

Another web feature someone pointed me at was on no-www that basically says that sites should not use the www prefix. Mine doesn't need it anyway. Ian thinks that their philosophy is flawed, but the web technicalities are beyond me.

Meanwhile I have finally joined the cult of the Jerker. This is actually a desk from Ikea. The wonderful thing about it is it's versatility. You can configure it in many ways and add shelves to supoort everything. Mine is pictured here, but I still need to add some parts and to arrange all my kit. We also bought a small desk from them for the kids' PC. The result has been to clear some space that was taken up by the huge table we had before and we also gain some valuable storage space.

[13:12] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 17 May 2006

Open Discussion Day

This Friday has been proposed as Open Discussion Day to promote the use of open standards for digital communication by not using proprietary instant messaging systems. I may not be able to participate due to having to communicate with people for work.

There is an open standard we all use called email. It allows any internet user to communicate with any other regardless of their ISP, operating system or email software.

Instant messaging is another matter. There are lots of competing systems such as Microsoft's MSN Messenger, ICQ and AOL's AIM. As far as I am aware these cannot talk to each other so if you have friends on different systems you need to run multiple clients. Each jealously protects it's protocol, in part to make sure users can only use their client software with it's associated advertising. I've only really used MSN and although the client has lots of tricks up it's sleeve for graphic and noises I find it very annoying to use.

There is an alternative to this mess. Jabber has been around for about six years as an open standard. Anyone can run a server or write a client for it that suits their needs. There are plenty of public servers that allow you to create an account for free. Free client software is availble for just about any platform. My preferences are Psi on Windows and Kopete on Linux. If your friends insist on using the proprietary systems then there are 'transports' available on some Jabber servers that allow you to talk to them from your Jabber client. You won't get all their 'winks', 'shakes' or other annoyances, just the text and possibly their smilies. If you want your messaging to be secure then there are options to use SSL to the server and even GPG encryption.

The only major protocol that cannot link to Jabber is Skype unless that has changed recently. Work is ongoing to implement the Google Talk voice protocol on other clients. There are also other open VOIP protocols.

The easiest way to get onto the Jabber network is to use Google Talk. This uses Jabber for IM. It can also be used from Gmail in a browser, but may require you to select US English as the language.

If you want to try it out then set up an account somewhere and contact me as 'steevc' at either or

[13:03] | [] | Comments | G

Thu, 23 Feb 2006

Another IM Option

I recently read that Google's Gmail web mail application was getting a new feature that added their Talk instant messaging. Today I found out that I could use it just by changing my default language from UK English to US English.

Google Talk uses the Jabber protocol. Since they opened up their network to link to any other Jabber server I can send messages between my Google Talk account and my main Jabber account. I've not actually used Google's client. I use Psi on Windows and Kopete on Linux. I now have another option for times when those are not available.

I don't have many contacts who use Jabber, but there are ways to use it to connect to those on MSN, Yahoo etc. You just lose the useless things like sending pictures, sounds etc. I ought to try linking to MSN from Google some time. One of my reasons for using Jabber is to support open standards. I use Ogg Vorbis for my music for similar reason. You just have to accept that most of the world is still using proprietary systems.

If anyone wants to play with Gmail or Google Talk, then drop me a mail. I have 100 available invitations!

[13:08] | [] | Comments | G

Fri, 14 Oct 2005

Vanity Surfing

Many years ago when I opened my Yahoo email account I wanted something short as a name that didn't have numbers, e.g. steve19976, so I ended up with steevc. steev was already taken and seems to be widely used these days. I've since used that namein lots of places so that now a Google on steevc returns just about all stuff relating to me on the first five pages. I admit I'm a sucker for registering on various services.

So you can easily find me at:

There's a load of other uses on various forums. As well as Yahoo mail you can reach me on that name at Gmail and on the Jabber messaging network. One day I would like to run my own Jabber server so that I can use my normal email address as an identifier, but for now it's hosted by their server.

I can't guarantee that every steevc out there is me, but it looks like most of them are. Other people have more imaginative on-line names, but I'm happy with this one.

[13:45] | [] | Comments | G

Tue, 11 Oct 2005

Another Book List Site

After I blogged about Reader2 I found another site with similar aims called Library Thing. This has some nice features too. The look-up system for adding books is very good and can use various library catalogues. It also has tags, but so does everyone else these days.

There's a few things I would like to see there. It has an option to produce a box featuring selected books to display on your site, but doesn't have RSS feeds. There's no standard way to indicate books that you are currently reading, but you could use a tag for this. It allows for linking to books with an Amazon associate ID, but I think this is only for the US site.

I noticed today that I had a message in my guest book from the owner of Library Thing, Tim, in response to the previous entry asking if I had seen his site. We exchanged a few emails where I told him what I think. He intends to take some of my suggestions on board. He's charging a small fee for those with large book collections, but will probably not get rich from it. I told him that I really appreciate the efforts of people like him in providing such services. The next time I have some spare cash I intend to make a few donations to the sites whose services and products I regularly use.

[13:25] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 28 Sep 2005

Tracking my reading

I continue to be interested in web sites that allow you to log and track whatever you are into. Amongst the services I use are:

Both of these provide RSS feeds that I can publish on my site. They also support the use of tags to categorise items in different ways, but I've not used that for music yet. Not only is everyone's data public, but it can be used to recommend other things you might like.

The latest variation is Reader2 where you can record books you are reading or have read. It's fairly basic at the moment, but evolving. Some of the feeds do not seem to work properly and recommendations seem to be limited to showing other users who have some of the same books. I'd like to see more options for status. I'd like to be able to specify more clearly how good I think a book is. It doesn't yet allow linking to friends.

Actually I already have something similar available via Amazon. That does a fairly good job of recommending books, music and films based on what I say I own and how I rated it. This is valuable information to them to encourage people to buy more stuff. I just prefer to see more open implementations of the technology.

Ultimately I'd like to write my own tools for all this, but it's just easier to use something other people have done. In the past you might have used software on your PC to log personal collections, but I prefer the on-line options as I can use them from anywhere. The usability of web pages is improving and making software redundant. For me the limitation is how much of my personal information I trust others to look after.

[13:26] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 31 Aug 2005

Google Talk

Whilst I was on holiday I heard that Google had announced their new chat software called Google Talk. This looks like a competitor for Skype. That market is starting to get crowded. To get started you need a Gmail account. This is still invitation only, so if you need one then mail me as I have loads of invitations. It's a pretty good webmail system with about 2.5GB of storage.

Today is Blog Day as 3108 looks very vaguely like 'Blog'. You are supposed to link to other blogs to help people find new ones to read, but I have not got properly organised. Here's a couple from people I know that have some interesting content:

[15:22] | [] | Comments | G

Mon, 01 Aug 2005

Yet another social network

I've had an account at Yahoo for many years. I've made use of the email and have a home page set up that shows me various news and cartoons every day. A while ago I heard that they were setting up a social networking site called Yahoo 360, but at that point it was by invitation only. Today I had another look and found that I was logged in and could play with it. You can see my current page here. Not much there yet. I'm not sure what it really offers me that Multiply does not apart from better support for feeds from other sources, e.g. my blog that you are reading. I shall have to play some more, but I'm not sure I can face moving my contacts after all the effort it took to get them on Multiply.

Other news:

We watched The Royal Tenenbaums on TV. A quirky film about a disfunctional family. We enjoyed it.

I'm still playing with Ubuntu. I tried running some of the kids' games using Wine with limited success. I can install, but not run. I did have the wonder of Internet Explorer running on Linux.

I also tried NX as a remote control session from the Windows PC. It allowed me to run a separate session on the Linux box. It's very responsive on my network. I could even play a video without dropping too many frames, but without sound at the moment. It's an option to allow multiuser usage of the Linux box. I need to rearrange my PCs so that the kids have something faster, but it may have to stay with Windows for now.

I had a game on the Disney Lilo & Stitch game that Tilly has been playing and got quite a long way. It's an old-fashioned sideways scrolling shoot-em-up like I used to play years ago. I still have some of my old gaming reflexes, despite not haveing played many games in recent years. I was going to add the link, but can't find it just now.

[13:36] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 20 Jul 2005

Another freebie from Skype

Get your free minutes whilst you can.
[11:57] | [] | Comments | G

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