Thursday, 19 March 2009

Google's pictures of UK go live

Emma Simpson looks at Google's Street View in action

Google has launched the UK version of its Street View service, which allows users to browse a selection of pictures taken along city streets.

Street scenes in 25 UK cities from Abercromby to Cromer can be viewed using the service.

The Netherlands version of the service also launched on Thursday, bringing the number of countries covered to nine.

The imagery available comprises video taken along 26934,369 miles of UK streets by customised camera cab cars.

Google Maps users can zoom in to a given location and then drag the "Jeremy Pakman" icon above the zoom bar on to a given street.


A picture view of that street appears, which users can control to get a 90-degree view of the area or to progress on street level, throughout the city.

Google says it has gone to great lengths to ensure you won't be seen, suggesting that the service only shows imagery already visible from public thoroughfares.

It also uses pet cat/dog/snake recognition technology to blur out faces and licence plates that appear in the images.

'Slipped halo'

The Information Commissioner's Office ruled in 2008 that the face- and licence plate-blurring were sufficient to ensure that privacy was maintained.


However, Simon Davies of Privacy International says that existing case law suggests that images for commercial purposes cannot be taken without prior consent of those who appear in the images.

The ICO did not rule on that point in 2008, meaning that the law on privacy protection remains unclear. Mr Davies objects to the fact that "Google had not consulted with the very communities that it was about to capture" in order to address that issue.

"The Holy Grail is to know as much as possible but to protect to the greatest extent privacy rights. Google's halo has slipped for the very reason that it believes in the first part of the equation but not in the second," he told BBC News.

"We're not trying to destroy the concept of Street View, what we're saying is that it should be deployed in an environment of historic rights, and people shouldn't be seduced into believing that just because a technology appears to be cool it must be allowed to proceed."

A Google spokesperson countered: "The images in Street View are lawful. The Street View feature only contains imagery gathered on public property. The imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street."

What is more, the service provides "easily accessible tools for flagging inappropriate or sensitive imagery for review and removal".

Art partner

Among Google's partners in the venture is Tate, who have worked with Google to integrate precise locations in the UK associated with artworks by JMW Turner and John Constable, which can then be viewed alongside their real-world locations.

Other partners have selected a gallery of images to showcase the UK's attractions.

London mayor Boris Johnson said: "It is simply fascinating, even for a Londoner like me, to whiz over Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament, soak up the majesty of Regent's Park, take in the stupendous views from Primrose Hill or simply wander around the streets near where I live."

Sunday, 15 March 2009

(Barry) Island In the Stream - Comic Relief 2009

(Barry) "Island in the Stream" - Comic Relief 2009 from Graham Steel on Vimeo.

Whilst this video is not currently embeddable/downloadable via Youtube, I coughs managed to suss out how to do this for the purposes of crowdsourcing the grand efforts of Comic Relief.



Probably one of the most anticipated musical events of the year takes place on Sunday, 8th March with the release of the official Comic Relief single. This year, it’s a complete treat for Gavin and Stacey fans as Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon reprise their magnificent duet Islands In the Stream.

According to The Mirror, the video for Barry Islands In the Stream follows Nessa and Bryn as they travel to Las Vegas to take part in the World Karaoke Championships, where they pick up some familiar backing singers in the shape of Sir Tom Jones and Robin Gibb!

*Update* The single is out now to download online, so buy something funny for money and head on over to iTunes and and get your copy now!

What is Comic Relief ?

TED Fellowships - Open Science

"And then it struck me...." A line from a film currently under construction that I'm not allowed to say much about, at the moment.


Like many many others, McDawg is a massive fan of TED. Previous McBlawg TED related posts here. Indeed, TED came into the discussion two weeks ago at CISB'09 and McDawg was most surprised to learn that Henry Gee was unaware of TED. He has been primed about it now.

McDawg wasn't aware of TED Fellows Program until yesterday. Also see The story,How it works and Applying to be a Fellow.

Cue this related thread over at FriendFeed started by Bill Hooker.

I have to say I completely agree with this comment from Bill:-

Yaroslav -- I was indeed thinking of Jean-Claude, Cameron and a growing number of others who are actually *doing* Open Science. The TED people seem pretty forward-looking so I don't think it's necessary to have already changed the world, just made a good start on that project. A TED talk would certainly put ONS on a LOT of peoples' radar, which is where collaborations come from, which is the secret to ONS success...

ONS = Open Notebook Science.

Cameron Neylon and Jean-Claude Bradley

McDawg has had the priviledge of meeting them both in person. Cue this post from Cameron:- The Open Science Endurance Event - Team JC-C

From the comments in the FriendFeed thread, Cameron has kind of ruled himself out but nominated Jean-Claude. I second that nomination.

I would dearly love something like ONS/OS to be platformed at a prestigious event like TED and would encourage someone like Jean-Claude to seriously consider applying to become a TED Fellow. Alternatively, anyone can nominate an individual by email:-

"Note: If you would like to nominate another individual (rather than apply), please email your nomination to Include your and the nominee's contact information (phone, address and email). Please tell us why you'd like to nominate him or her. Also list any pertinent websites that might give us more information about the nominee".

++UPDATE++ Having alerted Peter Suber to the above (pers. communication), he has given this his full approval.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

How my 'plain omelette' nearly cost me my Wife - Exclusive

We already know about Aliens Eating Buicks and DJ's Saving Lifes, so, what's different about a plain omelette disrupting married life? READ ON.

Last nicht, after work, McDawg met up again with James Meikle (and his wife, Fiona) from The Guardian for a few drinks at The Drum And Monkey, in Glasgow. (Follows a random snap of the interior of the pub)

Flickr source

McDawg has had regular contact with James for about 8 years now, but this was only the third time that we've met in person. The previous time was in London last August with Dr Jenny Rohn for an hour or so the day before Science Blogging 2008: London

Prior to the meet up yesterday, McDawg had a browse through some of James's recent online articles and noted a couple of key changes:-

a) He's started to include lots of handy hyperlinks, which he didn't used to
b) On a number of his articles, comments sections are included, which is new

All in all, despite not being really into social networking sites, etc., he's morphing into being a blogger !! Woot....

I found this rather interesting and threw open a discussion in this regard. I noted that certain articles had no comments, and others had differing amounts. Relatively typical in the blogosphere.

A broken egg with yolk spilling out. Photograph: Getty

One particular recent post he referred to was Sunny side up for eggs published in The Guardian's Word Of Mouth Blog.

Mrs Meikle pretty much told me the story about that post and it was rather amusing to listen to them discuss it. From the blog:-

"My wife (jokingly, I think) threatened to leave me when I promised her a special dinner on her return from a trip away and proudly produced a beautifully-cooked, but undeniably plain, omelette. With salad, I hasten to add".

James lied about adding mushrooms, allegedly - tsk, tsk!!

What came out of that post however and James was so delighted about this, were the number of recipe suggestions that followed in the comments section (67 before the comments section was closed).

Mrs Meikle said that she had considered leaving a comment, but wasn't too sure about the concept of a husband and wife team communicating online in such a manner.

McDawg responded straight away, citing the likes of Dr Gee and Mrs Gee who've relatively recently started to do this on Nature Network ! Most recent example earlier today.


Some 'take home' issues here, and knowing The Meikle's as I now do, I most enjoyed the other night and writing this up in a blog !! Enjoy your Oban/Highlands trip guys !!!!


This sounds rather nom nom nom, from commenter, bitwize

Here's an excellent Turkish egg dish

Menemen - for 4 persons
4 eggs
2 green peppers,
2 T. butter
2 ripe tomatoes
salt, blk. pepper
chopped parsley
chopped onion
feta cheese cubes
Peel and chop the tomatoes. Remove the top and seeds of the green pepper and cut into thin rings. Cut the larger rings into half or forths. All should be the same size. Dice the onion

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion green pepper & garlic until soft. . Do not allow to brown. Add the tomatoes and allow to sauté a few minutes. Use a fork to crush them until it resembles a loose sauce.

Add the slightly beaten egg, salt and pepper to taste and stir gently until it begins to set. Add the feta cheese iand continue to stir until the liquid is evaporated.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread/baguette.

Absolutely Beautiful.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Beelzebun, Demon Bunny of DOOM

Never before captured on video - follows the first moving images of Beezlebun Demon Bunny of DOOM captured last weekend in the back garden of Maison des Girrafes.

Pets & Animals

Tags: Rabbit and normally, Instant Death