Posts made in September, 2010

The world’s scariest job – free climbing atop a 1700m tower (via @planetf1)

Posted by on 28 Sep, 2010 in My Stream | 0 comments

Think you have a stomach for heights? This video shows what transmission tower workers have to do to service the top of a 1700m high exposed structure… This death-defying free climb makes you feel queasy just to watch.

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The tragedy of electronic communication

Posted by on 22 Sep, 2010 in My Stream | 0 comments

Here’s a bittersweet little “could-have-been love story” I came across on YouTube.

It’s amusing to watch, but I think there is a serious point to make here… If this were a real conversation, the pair would have picked up on the body language that much was not being said. Electronic chat loses that, and both parties can leave with a completely false impression of the other person’s feelings.

I’ve never seen a better illustration of why electronic communication is inferior to face to face communication.

In my view there’s kind of a hierarchy of communication in terms of how complete or effective it is… Face to face at the top, then video chat, then phone, then instant messaging, then text or email.

Food for thought anyway.

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Reverse culture shock – Ten observations of a Canadian Brit visiting the UK

Posted by on 13 Sep, 2010 in Articles | 0 comments


I spent last week in the UK (for the HCI 2010 conference) and having spent a year and a half in Canada, for the first time I felt something of a stranger in my own homeland. Here are my top ten observations from the week of the cultural differences I observed:


1. When in a car driving on the left, it felt really wrong – like we should be on the other side of the road – especially when turning!


2. I found myself asking the driver to open the boot (trunk) – because in Canada you can’t open the boot from outside, you need to pull the lever down by the driver’s seat.


3. When buying products, I expected things to cost more than their displayed prices when I got to the till – because I’ve got used to tax not being included.


4. The prices seemed really small due to them being in pounds not dollars. What was really weird was I found myself converting pounds to dollars to understand how much they cost – but yet I still convert dollar prices to pounds in Canada to understand them!


5. I felt guilty when leaving no tip at a bar or when paying for a meal – I’ve obviously got used to Canadian compulsory tipping. Found it even stranger there’s not even a line to add a gratuity on the receipt when paying by Mastercard.


6. I felt like a second-class citizen when trying to pay with my Canadian Mastercard. It has no Chip & PIN, and the idea of a credit card without Chip & PIN is pretty unheard of in UK.. Most places won’t accept it, and I actually was told to use an alternative means some times! Funnily enough they are just rolling out Chip & PIN in Canada, so things should improve soon. I wondered if I would have got more acceptance of my foreign card if I had put on a non-British accent!


7. I was able to hear the British accent as a distinct accent, my ears have obviously tuned in to Canadian as a baseline.


8. It seemed really strange to be wandering around town after work, 5.15pm – and all the shops were shut. I’ve got used to late night shopping being an option most nights.


9. Answering the question “Where are you from?” proved most confusing. Well I’m from the UK, but I’m also from Canada. Depends on the timeframe for the question!


10. I suddenly found myself using SMS again. Hadn’t realised how little it is used in Canada vs the UK (email being the preferred instant contact in the US & Canada, given the Blackberry revolution)
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Home-made video by @jonbowyer and I of a giant oil rig towering over Dundee, Scotland

Posted by on 8 Sep, 2010 in Video Creations | 0 comments

On the 2nd September 2010, Dundee awoke to the sight of a 550ft (167m) oil rig towering over the city. (I’m currently visiting Dundee for the HCI 2010 conference and to visit my brother).

The Rowan Gorilla VII was in the harbour for unusual maintenance. Basically the platform normally floats on the water and then they jack the legs down to the sea bed to install the rig.

But when they want to work on the top of the legs, they have to jack the legs down while in dock – thus pushing the platform way above the city. 

It’s quite an imposing sight and since it’s very unusual, Jon and I thought it would be fun to make a video of it, so we drove around Dundee and the Tay taking snapshots then had a play with iPhoto and iMovie to put something together.

When it came to choosing the music, there was one very obvious choice!

(More info on the YouTube page).


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