Last Friday and Saturday I had a lot of fun hosting the Hello Culture Arts #DevLab at The Old Library in Digbeth. It was put on by Big Cat and Lara Ratnaraja with additional support from Digital Birmingham, Arts Council England, Rebel Uncut and the University of Birmingham.

Macs abound at Arts DevLab

We put a variety of arts and cultural organisations together with developers from a range of backgrounds and encouraged them to think about collaborating on some kind of digital project. We were quite clear that the purpose of the event wasn’t just to get some proof of concept apps to show at the end, but to work on relationships and longer term developments together.Continue reading

This week I went along to help out at a couple of sessions at Birmingham City University. It was a lot of fun. One of the teams of online journalism students are going to be doing a prison related project and I spoke to their editor about online sources. I thought it might be useful if I wrote a post that referenced them too.

There are a number of organisations who campaign for better conditions in prison. The main national ones are the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust. Frances Crook from the Howard League has a very good and informative blog.

Prison ?

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The BBC’s coverage of our recent civil disturbances has been a bit woeful at times. I’ve felt that they have blithered on about the pernicious influence of social media without questioning whether their own coverage of events has any kind of influence on them.

Tonight it all went a bit silly when they chose to take a report from a Tim Hart, who gave a rather breathless report in which he got the names of most of the streets wrong, misreported that the buses had all stopped at 3pm and claimed that looters had thrown rocks at him.

Compare this with what I’d seen Nicky Getgood Tweet at around the same time

[quotetweet tweetid=101018907225243648]

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Santacon 2009 - Astoria, Queens NYC

Photo, Santacon 2009 – Astoria, Queens NYC by kstraw2 on Flickr

A friend texted me today and asked what the chances are of a group of seven people picking names in their office Secret Santa without anybody choosing themselves. A clean draw, so to speak.

Now, there are a number of ways that you can try and work this out, but I think the easiest to follow is by thinking of the problem in terms of the number of permutations of the possible outcomes.

In my friend’s office, the first person to draw a name out has 7 possible names to choose from, then the second person has six names, the third person has five names and so on.

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Some years ago I spent a lovely week with some friends on a tour around?Transylvania. Our guide, Ramona, told us on a number of occasions that the scenery we were seeing was lovely, but that her favourite place to go walking was Maramures. So this year I decided to spend a week there. I got back in touch with Ramona and she agreed to put a tour together.

A view of the Maramures countryside, looking across from Breb to the Rooster's Crest (Creasta Cocosului)

A view of the Maramures countryside, looking across from Breb to the Rooster's Crest (Creasta Cocosului)

Maramures is a county of Romania that lies within Transylvania and is in the North of the country near the border with the Ukraine. It consists of a series of river valleys and has, until now, largely resisted modern life and retained its rural traditions. It is common for both men and women to wear traditional dress and at this time of year most people are working in the fields, scything the meadows and raking up the grasses into the distinctive haystacks that scatter themselves across the undulating hills.
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After writing about how many Panini stickers collectors should expect to buy to fill a book I’ve had a fair few comments about it. Greg Newman brought John Crace’s article in The Guardian to my attention where he talks about “the four-yearly great Panini conspiracy theory.” The conspiracy being that Panini don’t distribute the stickers evenly, so you have to buy even more of them to complete your set.

As evidence, he cites Chris Taylor, whose “album is now about two-thirds full and I’ve already ended up with a whole load of Lee Young-Pyos, Hameur Bouazzas and Vince Grellas“. He then compares the fact that he has never even seen a Thierre Henri, whereas Chris has got six. ?hich is an opening for swapsies if I ever heard one.

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Yesterday I was over at my sister’s, and her lad was excited because he had the new South Africa World Cup 2010 Panini sticker book. He had also bought four packets, each with five stickers in them, and I had the important job of unpeeling them so that he could put them in the album.

There are 638 stickers to collect in total and it made me wonder how many stickers you would expect to have to buy so that you had a complete set. I was interested in how many you would need to buy without doing swapsies with anybody and on the premise that there were an equal number of each sticker and that they were randomly distributed.

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The government responded to the snappily titled Policy options for geographic information from Ordnance Survey consultation last week. One of the results of this is the opening up of the OS Open Space Application Programming Interface (API)

This means that lots of us will now have access to embed Ordnance Survey mapping into our blog posts. Just like I’ve done below, with the arrow pointing to Moseley Exchange. And to be honest it wasn’t too difficult to do.

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