Videntity imports hCard and FOAF

Flickr hCard import, an OpenID server by Dan Libby, now imports user profiles from sites which provide your profile in hCard or FOAF. I hadn’t bothered previously filling in my profile details, but now that I’ve pointed it at my Flickr profile page and my directory page from work (both of which are marked up with hCard) it’s rather terrifyingly filled in all the details for me.

This third-party service now knows my full name, nickname, job, work phone number (which I’ve made private but is still readily available on my work page), and the city and country I live in.

I also pointed it at my account, but that just confirmed my other details and expanded “UK” to “United Kingdom” (disclaimer: I have now added my jabber address by hand).

It’s been interesting watching these details import and just how much overlap there is between the information on them – not just in seeing how many times I’ve entered the same information but how it actually acts as a positive feedback mechanism, allowing certain bits of my profile to be marked as more reliable than others.

Also interestingly, I seem to recall trying to post to Sam Ruby’s OpenID comments thread using my videntity as a url (both and delegating from, both of which the OpenID tests seem to validate), but it never worked. Alas.

What I like about Ubuntu

I have a new PC, and both my bluetooth dongle and mp3 player no longer work; some problem or other with the USB ports. So I’ve upgraded to Ubuntu. I can no longer recover from standby or hibernate mode without a hard reset (possibly because I’m using the proprietary fglrx drivers for my ATI card rather than the free radeon ones) but that’s a small price to pay.

Skimming through Mark’s subscriptions I saw an article from Debian Package of the Day which looked quite useful for what I’m doing at work. It included the application name, so I quickly dropped to gnome-terminal using Deskbar, typed apt-get install agave, pressed “Y” and voila, there it was in my Applications menus listed under “Graphics”, exactly where I expected it to be. It just doesn’t get much easier than that.

True grit

At the weekend we went to see The Last King of Scotland, a film about the reign of Idi Amin in Uganda (hint: hundreds of thousands of people died); a few days earlier we’d been to see Pan’s Labyrinth, a fantasy set to the backdrop of Spain in the early days of Franco‘s rule (hint: Spanish dictator, mass graves).

After the film, which ended with a scene of torture, my wife turned to me and said “That’s it, next week we’re seeing a romantic comedy”; before I could reply a woman walking past with a harrowed expression on her face nodded and replied “I know just what you mean”.

Breaking copy protection for entertainment

I was saving this for Friday, because I thought it might be fun to post to my blog on a Friday, but Mark has just posted, essentially, my content x 10.

So, in summary, much like the other Mark‘s comment on Dave Shea’s related thread I bought my wife Peep Show series 3 on DVD for Christmas (for the non-Brits, this is not what you think). It doesn’t play in our desktop computer or her laptop, and most certainly doesn’t play in our DVD player (which is a first-gen PlayStation 2).

In fact, I initially took it back to the shop and got a replacement, simply assuming the disc had been poorly authored only to find our replacement disc was faulty in exactly the same way.

The back of the box does actually indicate that, amongst other forms of protection, it’s protected by Macrovision’s RipGuard and this is what stops it from playing. To put this in context, we own well over 250 DVDs, and have never had any problems playing any of them in any of our devices. Now, our legally-bought DVD doesn’t play in our legally-bought DVD players. Let’s just check Macrovision’s website:

Only Macrovision can guarantee RipGuard DVD playability on all PC and consumer electronic DVD players. Our DVD certification process for Macrovision ACP includes testing and certifying every DVD device, before and after market release.

Hm, you’d have thought that a six-year old DVD playback device which has sold over 110 million units might be included in that.

We decided to give Macrovision and Channel 4 a chance and sent them both an email asking how we were supposed to watch our new DVD. It’s been over 10 working days now, and we’ve not had any response, so I’ve used a “modern DVD ripping program [to] easily auto-detect and auto-bypass all of these protection schemes, and then re-author the disc onto ultra-cheap recordable media with no protection whatsoever” and we can now watch our DVD.

Dear Channel4 and Macrovision, you’ve just forced me to rip my own DVD in order to watch it. What’s wrong with this picture?


My Nabaztag

I now have a nabaztag. It’s an ambient device in the form of a wifi, talking rabbit (more details). If you like you can send me a message.

That form is possible because there’s a documented API for sending messages to Nabaztag devices; the difficulty is that the API is centralised on the manufacturers’ website, so if they go down (as they did over Christmas – unable to cope with all the new rabbits), then my rabbit can’t do anything at all – as it is, commands can take several minutes to make the long and arduous journey from my web browser to my rabbit.

What I really want to be able to do is send it messages and instructions directly from my computer (it is, after all, in the same room and connected to the same wifi router). The closest thing seems to be NabazLab, a .NET app which can act either as a proxy for normal Nabaztag functionality or which you can use to send it your own messages, however I’ve had no luck using this so far. Frankly it’s hard enough to set up, needing at least one other wifi device and even if you’re not using Violet’s servers you must have an internet connection so that it can ping their servers (of course, this should be reasonably easy to spoof using the information on but for the moment it’s a necessity).

One of the biggest problems I have with NabazLab is that I don’t really understand the website: the links don’t match up to text and there isn’t a nice “Getting Started” guide, which would be mega-useful. I realise that English isn’t their first language, but this isn’t a problem – it’s the fact that their dev page only displays a tiny amount of information at once, using CSS to hide the other 90%, making navigation and bookmarking almost impossible.

Anyway, I only get to play with it for a few hours in the evening at the moment, I might experiment with taking it in to work and having it read out our CruiseControl status.

Birthday, five things and a blog resolution

It’s my birthday today, I’m now 27, which is old. It also means I can finally get around to this “five things” meme, because I’ve been tagged by Brian and Jim (I’d love to see a networked graph of this, and to discover how many degrees of separation I am from Sam Ruby).

  1. I have an A level in Latin, and it’s my favourite foreign language
  2. In addition to the A level, when at school I won the regional Latin speaking
    competition twice

  3. In real life I am sociable (read: loud and annoying), but I hate using the phone to call someone I don’t know. In fact, I hate using it to call anyone I don’t speak to regularly.
  4. I lived and studied in Merseberg in Germany for a year which is like a foreigner taking a year out to study in England and picking Bognor Regis
  5. I hate baked beans so much that I won’t let my wife buy the Hovis bread that has baked beans on the wrapper

My task is to tag another five people, I believe, so I’ll choose Jason, Rakka, Steve, Alf and Leigh

I’ve also made a small blogging resolution along the lines of: no drafts. I’ve been running this blog for five years or so (always on Blogger, btw, which has served me faithfully) and I almost never go back and finish and post an entry which I’ve previously left half-way through and marked as a draft. No more. If I’m tempted to save it for later, I’ll just post it with an appropriate incompleteness warning. Part of this means going back over the last six months and posting all the drafts I have – there shouldn’t be many, but there is some content I’d like to get out.