Monday, 25 July 2011

How to back-up OSX Lion to USB tutorial [video]

In an earlier tutorial I showed how to make a bootable version of OSX Lion (10.7) on DVD for fresh installs. It's also possible to do this via a USB drive for those machines that don't have an optical drive (the Macbook Air and the most recent Mac Mini). It's a little more laboured than burning to disk.  You can find the video tutorial below:

How to back-up OSX Lion to DVD tutorial [video]

Much of the discussions surrounding the most recent Apple software upgrade (OS X 10.7)  refers to the fact that Apple are no longer shipping their product on physical media.  Well, that's not strictly true - they will be producing a $70 USB version sometime in August.  Most people will access the software after having purchased it from the App Store and downloading more than 3.5 GB of data.  This is great in that it makes for a smaller environmental footprint as there'll be less packaging and less fuel-related costs but it does have it's downsides in that you can't reformat or install without an Internet connection.

Never fear, as there is a way to make a backup copy of the software without having to upgrade from OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) first.  In the video below I show you how to make a bootable backup up copy of OSX Lion via DVD. It's quite easy.  Click through to YouTube for the HD video.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Rebekah Brooks at the select committee [visualisation]

The Guardian Data Blog has been playing around with ways to make sense of the text data that came out of the Select Committee this week, including uploading the transcripts of the three main protagonists to the Many Eyes web app.  You should be able to get their data and see what they've done with it here (spreadsheet data) and here (Many Eyes).

In this post I've played around with the Rebekah Brooks' transcript in order to see if there are any interesting patterns.  If anything, this was more of a personal tutorial on how to use Many Eyes than it was an attempt at any great analysis, but here's the results. It seems like the Java powering the web app might not be working via the embedded visualisations but readers should be able to click through to the source and see the ways in which the data can be interacted with.

Word Cloud

Tag Cloud (single word)

Tag Cloud (two words)

Phrase Net

Total Word Frequency (courtesy of the Guardian)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Guess how Google makes megabucks [infographic]

I found this interesting infographic over on Wired today and thought I'd share it here. Google makes around $3 billion per month on the strength of its advertising business - here are the top 20 words that make Google rich:

Friday, 8 July 2011

Virgin Spotify users?

While the US tech/media/music press is getting excited about the imminent arrival of Spotify in the US (register your interest here), back in the UK there are plans afoot to integrate the music streaming service into Virgin Media customers subscription plans. Given that Virgin have obvious links with the music content industry, and already provides a number of on-demand music video services to customers on the more expensive television packages, then this deal (or something akin to it) is long overdue.  If this Spotfiy deal materialises it will be a welcome addition to the Virgin Media family, but there is a history of false starts and delayed promises with regards to Virgin being able to deliver.

Back in early June 2009 a number of premature announcements were made regarding a deal between Virgin and Universal Music.  Geoff Taylor of the BPI even so far as to claim the deal would help curb illegal file-sharing (although it doesn't take a genius to see how well-managed and reasonably-priced subscription deal might be beneficial to the industry more generally):
“It is very encouraging to see an ISP and a record label working together as creative partners.  At the same time, the fact that Virgin Media will apply a graduated response system to tackle persistent illegal downloaders demonstrates that graduated response is a proportionate and workable way forward."
However, after 2 years this deal had very little impact or clear outputs at the consumer level. So, it's at this juncture that some kind of deal might finally materialise.  Mark Sweeney has noted that the reason for this protracted business is because Virgin Media also had to separately agree terms with Universal Music, EMI, Sony Music and Warner Music as they have the power to veto any deal Spotify does.

It would seem that a final deal is still some way off and that it the music package won't be available to all customers.  The Register claim Virgin are planning on centring this service around their new TiVo PVR box (as opposed to their V+ HD and standard boxes). Virgin Media have announced that box will include a Spotfiy app. The TiVo service has gotten off to a shaky start if the number of price cuts are anything to go by.  The service was originally launched at a premium price of £199, but has been slashed down to £99 for the 1TB version and £49 for the 500GB box (with free installation).  Virgin Media have even took the unusual measure of refunding existing TiVo users the price difference.  

The deal does present a number of questions:
  • Will customers with existing Spotify accounts be able to connect this to their TiVo box?
  • Will the TiVo Spotify app be restricted to just one box per household/customer or will it include multiple accounts (nobody wants to lose all those carefully crafted playlists do they)?
  • What kind of pricing difference (if any) will there be between the TiVo app and the standalone versions?
So, the Spotify + Virgin deal is one with the usual caveats but there's no doubting that this is a great deal for Virgin Media customers. It also helps to challenge the market domination of players like Apple and Amazon.  This could be the start of a new phase of Spotify growth in the UK, and it'll be interesting to see how Apple responds to this (if at all) - if this partnership is successful in the UK, there's no doubt that other deals like it will be brokered in other territories.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

"Read all about it... News of the World"

The phone hacking scandal that the Guardian has been campaigning on for around 2 years (see Nick Davies investigative efforts from this point on) finally reached some kind of conclusion today with the announcement from News International that the paper is to close after its final edition this Sunday.  In addition to this former editor, Andy Coulson, is expected to be arrested tomorrow in relation to his knowledge of the paper's phone-hacking.

The paper has a long 168-year history, but it seems this is the end of the line, as Rupert Murdoch seems willing to sacrifice the best selling paper in the UK in a desperate bid to ensure that News Corp can make good on the purchase of the controlling stake in BSkyB (worth around $70 billion).  For many people, the position of the News of the World management had become untenable as more details continued to emerge regarding the hacking of phones belonging to child-murder victims (Milly Dowler), the families of the deceased 7/7 bombing victims, senior police officers as well as several high profile public figures. The stench of corruption might be too much for even this paper to come back from.

The cynic in me is still not convinced that the closure of the paper is being done for the right (moral) reasons.  It reads more like an attempt to draw a line under the affair in order to satisfy Hunt and the regulator that Murdoch and co are fit and proper people, capable of being responsible enough to own one of the crown jewels of broadcasting in Britain.  By closing down a profitable business, Murdoch is attempting to take control of the situation via a preemptive strike - drawing a line in the sand and praying that the accusations of corruption don't spread to his other UK-based publications (The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times).  Murdoch's US publications seem rather restrained with regards to the detail they are going into on this matter (see the New York Post here and the Washington Post here)

This last ditch attempt to ensure the BSkyB deal can go ahead is typical of Murdoch - he has never been afraid of taking major risks in order to get what he wants.  The investment in Sky back in its early days was almost a risk too far, potentially jeopardising his entire empire.  However, that was a gamble that paid off in the long run.  Will this one work in his favour?  Can the chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks', position remain tenable given that she has been found culpable of 'editorial blindness and managerial ineptitude'?

Jeremy Hunt needs to take a good long look at the ethics that underpin the News International business model before arriving at his decision. This goes further than a concern about media plurality - the issue is now more about whether or not News Corp are fit to dominate so much of the British media landscape when they've been found wanting when it comes to telling the truth.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Glastonbury 2011

This year it felt like I saw the least amount of acts at Glastonbury than ever before.  Below is a list of those that I recall catching some of:


  • Ms Dynamite
  • A Guy Called Gerald


  • Metronomy
  • Two Door Cinema Club
  • Wu-Tang Clan 
  • Katy B
  • Bright Eyes
  • Radiohead
  • U2


  • Tame Impala
  • DJ Yoda
  • Eva (Dub Mafia)
  • Battles
  • Chemical Brothers
  • Orbital (DJ Set)
  • Dirty Menez


  • Foster The People
  • Paul Simon
  • Joker
  • Skream & Benga
  • Kool & The Gang

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