Monthly Archives: January 2009

Charity Half Marathon

12 months ago we lost a good friend to cancer, a brain tumour to be exact. Simon, in his early 30s, left behind a wife, parents, band of brothers and saddest of all, a 2 year old daughter, it’s utterly tragic. Simon’s daughter Scarlett is Lola’s, my eldest’s, best friend

Simon experienced first-hand what it was to “need” care, he spent his last weeks in a hospice and really understood where resources were needed. So he pledged that any future donations by friends should go towards his chosen charity of The Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign in order to aid research into the specific form of cancer he suffered from, which continues to destroy families.

You may know I have made this charity the official charity of the Social Media Mafia for this year, and 10% of all SMM money raised will be sent to the charity, as can be seen here:

http://socialmediamafia.com/events/

In addition, and this is where you come in, I and some of his mates, are running a half-marathon in his memory, and to raise some cash in the process.

I am actually a runner already, amusingly I operate a very infrequent Running Man Radio show, where I blurt into a mobile recorder on my runs, coughs, grunts, pants, rants the lot:

http://runningmanradio.com/

You will see a widget on the right hand side, and I am asking for you to consider making a donation, no matter how large or small for a very good cause. You can click on the widget and donate, also leave a message stating you are from the Social Media Mafia if you do please.

Please do help.

Thanks in advance and do listen to some of the runs, YES, I know, it’s slightly wacky, slightly “out-there”, but you know what, it’s damn fine therapy too!

Chris

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Billy’s Bones

Been listening to The Pogues fairly heavily again, singing along full-blast.

Billy ran around with the rare old crew
And he knew an Arsenal from Tottenham blue
We’d be a darn sight better of if we knew
Where Billy’s bones are resting now
Billy saw a copper and he hit him in the knee
And he took him down from six foot to five foot three
Then he hit him fair and square in the do-re-mi
That copper won’t be having any family

Hey Billy son where are you now
Don’t you know that we need you now
With a ra-ta-ta and the old kow-tow
Where are Billy’s bones resting now

Billy went away with the peace-keeping force
‘Cause he liked a bloody good fight of course
Went away in an old khaki van to the banks of the river Jordan
Billy saw the Arabs and he had ‘em on the run
When he got ‘em in the range of his sub-machine gun
Then he had the Israelis in his sights, went a ra-ta-ta
And they ran like Shiites

Hey Billy son where are you now
Don’t you know that we need you now
With a ra-ta-ta and the old kow-tow
Where are Billy’s bones resting now

One night Billy had a rare old time,
Laughing and singing on the Lebanon line
Came back to camp not looking too pretty
Never even got to see the Holy City
Now Billy’s out there in the desert sun
And his mother cries when the morning comes
And there’s mothers crying all over this world
For their poor dead darling boys and girls

Hey Billy son where are you now
Don’t you know that we need you now
With a ra-ta-ta and the old kow-tow
Where are Billy’s bones resting now

Have a Billy holiday
Born on a Monday
Married on a Tuesday
Drunk on a Wednesday
Got plugged on a Thursday
Sick on a Friday
Died on a Saturday
Buried on a Sunday

- Shane MacGowen

Education Press Announcements during BETT

Home Access

Announces the Microsoft Home Learning Package, which
supports the Government Home Access Programme. The package includes Office
Ultimate, Windows Live Essentials, the Digital Literacy Curriculum and a range
of family online safety resources.

Supporting information

NEW
Press Release attached

NEW
Marsh Academy Case Study – this illustrates how learning is enhanced by enabling
1:1 access

NEW Please
point customers towards our website at: www.microsoft.com/uk/homeaccess

Digital Literacy Curriculum

We are announcing the availability of the OCR qualification,
which is suitable for 12-13 year olds, and which can help the school improve
its league table position.

Supporting information

NEW Press
Release attached

NEW Monkseaton
school case study of the Digital Literacy Curriculum in use
NEW Please point customers towards our website
at: www.microsoft.com/uk/DLC

 

London Grid for Learning switches to Live@edu

The announcement gives information on the way that LGfL will
be rolling out the Live@edu (and other Live services) to up to 1 million
students in London, across 2,500 schools and 33 local authorities.

Supporting information

NEW Press
Release attached

http://www.microsoft.com/emea/presscentre/EducationVPR/Press.mspx

Windows 7

… as I looked around for some new running shoes (which I did manage to purchase), in preparation for the half-marathon I have agreed to take part in, I had one eye on the clock to not miss the appointment I had which was meeting some “bloggers” and 1000heads (well two of them) in the Starbucks on the corner of Oxford and Soho street. Though not invited I asked my New Yorker friend David to come along (he is on a London networking mission currently) and well, though a MAD (I mean MAC) user I thought he may enjoy the event, and I figured 1000heads would’t mind (and they didn’t at all, thanks Colin).

I arrived a touch late to StarBucky’s (though anywhere in London needs a half hour slot for arrival) and hooked-up with a diverse bunch of geekos, damn I must be in that category too hmm.

So we were escorted over to the brightly lit offices of 3-Monkeys (which I must say are situated in a cool building) to be welcomed by the dudes and a dude-ette from Microsoft along with finger food and plenty of booze, and some monkeys, who were all pleasant people, one of which (sorry for forgetting your name) helped me locate some mobile vids from a mutual client bash (thanks Monkey Fiona). The scene was set well, all the boxes ticked if I was ticking, but I wasn’t.

A presentation/event took place #cesfest09 (?) which was supposed to be in some way connected to CES 09 though I didn’t entirely get the connection, the invites or event may have been better pimped as ” free drinks, and a Windows 7 preview” – to be frank, but I’m a thick old engineer.

Anyway, I’m not going to concentrate here on talking about the software (well only a touch later), but rather the boldness Microsoft adopted here in allowing a bunch of Internet noisy folk in, in order to encourage them (us) to spout-off afterward (and during, which did happen a bit, ustream was streamin and some tweets were flying around).

I’ve said it before, a company needs to have one of two things (both is best) if it is going to utilise what some might call Social Media Experts, or So.Me douche bags, if you will (just kidding there).

It needs:

1. A great product
2. Balls

By inviting “us lot” you are stating you do desire us to talk, ramble, converse, slag-off, amplify positive or negatively around your product/event. – and you know what? – BLOODY GOOD ON YOU TOO, Microsoft has both, in my opinion, and I don’t know how many millions of users (billions?) use it, whatever reincarnation it is in. Microsoft runs entire hospitals, keeps people alive on machines, computed the stock markets, aids research into whatever whatever (I know I sound like the recent TV ad)

I couldn’t care much about Windows 7 to be totally frank, sure I am a user, Vista and XP, and I have a HP TouchSmart (which is very very cool) but I’m the type of user that doesn’t get excited about new updates and releases, I tend to fall into them when my machine breaks, or I buy a new one.

No, I do get excited however about looking WAY ahead into the distance and broadly considering the potential convergence. It’s been what feels like forever that the box in the corner (we call it a TV) will eventually become a multi-channel entertainment and connection box. I recall having conversations with students years and years ago about replacing the TV with a computer, and well I think we are starting to get there.

In my home we are fortunate to have a 40 inch wide plasma screen, it accepts just about any format that I throw at it, it plays mov, mp3 etc all audio and video formats, takes any portable memory stick, card, drive, and has ports to plug computers into it, in fact I am looking around right now for a small PC to hook into the plasma, so we can sit 20 feet away and shop on Tesco.. It is this type of convergence this type of changing experience that “floats my boat”, if you add touch into that (I have a HP TouchSmart) then you’ll have me taking my wallet out.

Microsoft stated they are getting into the touch market with Windows 7 (forget iTouch here, Microsoft are years ahead in touch research, did you see the Surface?). But how? – well the task bar is bigger/wider) and whilst that is the way forward they need EVEN MORE thought in that respect. The best application for the touch experience on the HP TouchSmart is in fact made by HP, you can run the application and get your fingers dirty dirty (and the 23 inch screen) touching your assets.. (hmm that didn’t sound right) – touching your media, interacting with it. But my point here is that Windows 7 is STILL too small in the visuals for that experience, the fingers are too fat to be accurate, so whilst they lip-serviced touch, I’d personally like a “touch-switch” to flip me OS into touch mode, rather than rely on third party apps for it.

Windows 7 (built on the Vista Kernel) also has monster amounts of Windows Live features, I must admit I don’t currently use it, but might have a look now, and it is clear they are taking the social aspects of people’s live very seriously indeed, with partnerships struck up with the major (current) players in social platforms (Facebook data will be available in Live).

Given the market share of Microsoft they are moving in the right direction, they know the future is not in the dinosaur IT department, it is in the cloud, the computing utility and I’ll likely stay with them in that as they make my life easier.

Thanks for the event, keep up the good work.

Gaza: Enough is enough

Dear friends,

Israel's ground offensive has reached the cities of Gaza and more and more civilians are dying: it's way past time to end this war. With 270,000 signatures for a ceasefire already — including yours — our momentum is growing, we've contacted many international leaders and ceasefire initiatives are beginning.

But there's still no end to the violence, and outrageously, the US is obstructing a fair ceasefire at the United Nations — so we need to raise an even bigger outcry, seeking face-to-face meetings with Security Council powers to deliver our petition as well as taking out ads in influential US newspaper the Washington Post before Barack Obama takes office.

The more of us come together to sign the campaign, the more powerful our voices will become. If you haven't already, please take a moment to forward the link and message below to ten people who might be interested in signing the petition. Delivering half a million signatures this week would really make an impact– http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_time_for_peace

—————
The bloodshed in Gaza is escalating — the death toll now stands at over 600 people and rising, almost half of them civilians and over 100 children dead.[1] As Israeli tanks, airplanes and artillery bombard thickly populated urban areas, hitting UN schools yesterday, thousands more have been injured and 1.5 million terrified civilians have no escape from this prison-like enclave — the borders have been sealed. Hamas continues to fight and fire rockets deep into Israel: 11 Israelis have died, including from friendly fire.

Our worldwide call for an internationally-guaranteed ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides has begun to ring out loud and clear, winning the support of leaders in Europe, the Middle East and beyond, with hopeful outlines of a deal emerging from Turkey, Egypt and others.[2] But Israel is rejecting a truce for now and escalating its offensive, while US President Bush is blocking a negotiated UN ceasefire, trying instead to impose a skewed alternative that could legitimize Israel's suffocating isolation of Gaza.[3]

Enough is enough: these civilian deaths can't go on, and we can't let Bush and co block a fair, negotiated ceasefire. 250,000 of us have signed the petition, let's make it half a million — we'll publish it in a hard-hitting ad in the Washington Post and deliver it in meetings with UN Security Council members — follow the link below to see the ad, sign the petition, and forward this message to all your friends and family:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_time_for_peace

Our efforts really can make a difference — Israel's own foreign minister admits that international pressure, if intense enough, could ensure a ceasefire. As the international community debates and delays, civilians are dying by the day. The top UN official in Gaza says, "There's nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized." Opposing a United Nations resolution, Bush reportedly proposes to exclude Hamas from any ceasefire deal and leave Israel a free hand, something that would guarantee that the violence continues. That's why we're targeting incoming President Obama and US decision-makers, as well as the European Union and other international leaders, to pursue a fair and stable resolution.

To be lasting, a ceasefire must protect civilians and end all attacks — Israeli bombings and incursions as well as the rockets Palestinian factions fire into southern Israel. International supervision is desperately needed at the borders, to reopen Gaza's borders and crossings for food, fuel, medicine and goods, to prevent weapon-smuggling which has only grown under the blockade, and to monitor and enforce the ceasefire on both sides.[4]

Hamas, which won elections in 2006 and now runs Gaza, suggests it will agree to such a ceasefire.[5] It should be challenged to live up to its word just like Israel. There is no military solution for either side — it's time for world powers to step in, advancing a fair deal to protect civilians on all sides and let them live their lives in peace and security. Sign the petition now at the link below and send this message to everyone you know — we'll publish it in The Washington Post and elsewhere, and seek face-to-face meetings to deliver the petition with the Obama team, the UN Security Council and European leaders:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/gaza_time_for_peace

With hope and determination,

Paul, Graziela, Ricken, Luis, Alice, Brett, Ben, Iain, Paula, Veronique, Milena and the whole Avaaz team

P.S. We wrote to European, US and Arab leaders last week about our campaign, and received responses — now we need to escalate the pressure. For a report on many of Avaaz's other campaigns so far, see:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2

Sources:

1. Associated Press: "Israel Shells Near UN School, killing at least 30" (5 January 2009)

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ioi_0jtO9RjMwPNRoXNCndRPRq3gD95HTJE00

2. "Gaza: outlines of an endgame", Ghassan Khatib (6 January 2009)
http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/gaza-outlines-of-an-endgame

Al-Jazeera: "Arab ministers hold UN ceasefire talks" (6 January 2009):
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/01/20091522052418539.html

Associated Press: "Diplomats seek truce as civilian toll rises" (5 January 2009):
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ioi_0jtO9RjMwPNRoXNCndRPRq3gD95HCD4G3

3. Israel Today: "Israel rejects European, UN efforts for immediate ceasefire" (5 January 2009):
http://www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=17938

Yediot Aharonot: "Israel examining international treaty to isolate Hamas" (5 January 2009)
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3650522,00.html

4. These parameters are advocated by a broad range of experts and policymakers. See for example International Crisis Group's Ending the War in Gaza report (5 January 2009):
http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5838&l=1

5. Reuters: "Hamas seeks truce but says lifting siege a must" (5 January 2009)
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L5111105.htm

Strikingly, the US Army War College has just released a substantial report supporting the view that Hamas can and must be brought into negotiations and is capable of sustaining a long-term truce, or even peace with Israel. Linked via:

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/node/10703

The inside story of the civil strife between Fatah and Hamas and the Bush administration's involvement in this debacle is best-told in The Gaza Bombshell, an investigative article published in the leading US magazine Vanity Fair in April 2008:

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804

This news item from November 2008 provides more background to the story of how the Israel-Hamas truce collapsed:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/05/israelandthepalestinians

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ABOUT AVAAZ
Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva. Call us at: +1 888 922 8229 or +55 21 2509 0368

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