Recently in Social Commentary Category

So as a piece of commentary, I was going to say, why the Hell did they send in the American Special forces for a British Hostage. The Americans have a history of firendly fire (allegedly) and the SAS have a history of doing well at this kind of thing.

But apparently it was in the area owned, ahem, I mean controlled, by the Americans; and they knew the area better allegedly.

Still I think it shoulf have been the Brits doing the work with support, if nothing else it is going to strain relations ‘if’ it proves to be that it the Americans grenaded the poor woman.

There have been a few comments on the web though about how much the American media stated so categorically to start with that it was a terroist bomb vest, detonated by the terrorists that did the dammage.

So long and thanks for all the fish...

So someone asked me to post my leaving note from the BBC.

From: Nick Holmes
Sent: 09 August 2010 10:52
Subject: Elvis has left the building...

So it is my sad duty to announce my departure from the BBC.

After 12 years, 5 months, 4 days, and 8 hours, (or 648 weeks, 4538 days or 21.6 months of Sundays), of service to the BBC, my role and I have cast off to find other shores.

In a time before Dinosaurs walked the BBC Online world ( I started as a fresh faced 22 year old, working on the BBC's Trusted Guide to the internet, above the post office on Shepherds Bush Green. One of my first technical queries was, "So where are the technical production guidelines, you know the way you build websites", to which I was told there were none and there began my grand mission.

Brought in by the famous BBC Online names of old, (the late) Helen Gill, Sheila Sang, Jo Gausden and Scott Gronmark, I was annointed with the purpose to serve the public. After just over a year I was elevated to the role of team leader, and stayed there happy in my evolving role and responsibilities; until in recent years the apple cart was upset by reorganisation after reorganisation, and finally resolving to my departure.

In so many ways I will be unhappy to leave the BBC, and I will always have good memories of working with so many wonderful people and fighting the good fight with others, striving to put right what once went wrong. Oops, is that 'Quantum Leap' or just the last thing delivered a day before launch. Either way I was fortunate and grateful to have had so many spins of the wheel.

I will forever remember the Client-side Development team, that I was proud and honoured to be part of for so long, the brilliant efforts contributed, watching people grow in their roles and capability, watching them blossom and go on to bigger and better things, holding back the lump in my throat and the tear in my eye. The team Christmases with Secret santa presents, the team mp3 collation, team Christmas parties and a can of spam left in a desk draw to go off for a fortnight (yes, you Mr Maslen). The SSI tools made in 2001 and retired 12 months later due to lack of management support, which are still in use today on the site. The BBC Opensource site I built in my own time, with no design (clearly) or editorial resource, with no management support or funding, just a tall ship and a star to steer her by. The 43 minute site, from concept by Tony Ageh and Gareth Ford Williams, to publication (under its own tld no less). What would a farewell be without mention of Barley (and nav5 in all its permutations, 4 and 3) that I made so many years ago, so many memories, so many wrestles between creativity and individuality of sites and conformity of being part of the BBC, tied up in code.

I will remember the Standards & Guidelines - creativity, standardisation, politics and bun fights. The way that they were (are) held up outside the BBC as a guiding light in other development teams both domestic and foreign (as is turns out). The browser standards, the download standard, the accessibility standards, the great and all encompassing(x)html integrity standard, that was the father to them all, to name but a few. The versions that were never agreed and so never saw the light of day (SEO, Downloads v2, XSSI, Semantic Markup and so many more).

I remember doing charity work through the BBC, helping on school kids projects to get them into web building, building community sites for underprivileged areas of Hull. Equally helping various people to start learning a bit of html here and there to progress their careers or just make their own community websites. I remember doing roadshows round the nations and regions offices talking about accessibility, CSS and other web tech; I'm still sad I never made it to Belfast, but they know how to make someone welcome in BBC Scotland :-). I remember being in TVC on the millennium, updating the site as Big Ben chimed, waiting to see if the technical world melted down from the y2k bug; updating the children in need site on the night as photos, stories and new totals came in; getting free pizza while launching the first BBC toolbar, only to find that schools had not built the site, which they had argued so hard to have included on the list of linked sites.

I remember the camaraderie of Bush House bar (leading to a pseudo wife, wonderful 2 children and a home in the commuter belt), the family of the development team (with the occassional dodgy uncle), the New Media Christmas parties (with amusing stories to tell from each), the caring environment where appraisals and objectives were something positive, rather than the one time a year you'd get a proper line management conversation. The training and mentoring, the idealism and values, the BBC we once were.

"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."
Macbeth, Act 5, scene 5, 19-28

I had to learn that at school, and seems so pertinent now at the end of all things. I only hope that some will say I made a positive difference, once.

And so, as the die is cast, I bid adieu, I would leave a final note with another :

"When I am without orders and unexpected occurrences arrive
I shall always act as I think the honour and glory of my King and Country demand."
"Thank God, I have done my duty."
Admiral Horatio Nelson, The Battle of Trafalgar (October 21, 1805)


Nick Holmes

Falcon 9 ready for take-off

So the Falcon 9 spacecraft is ready for its first launch given final clearance from the US Air Force to launch from cape canaveral.

As I speak their launch window has 1hr 13 minutes to run (1500 UTC Friday 2nd June 2010), and there is no sign on their site that they have launched yet.

Oh hang on, they had an unexpected issue as the rocket stalled aborting the launch…


Huge fire

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Huge fire

Looking out across London there is a HUGE fire apparently at, at waterden road, straford, just where they are goig to do the olympics.

The london fire brigade latest news said "Incident - Waterden Road
Eight fire engines and around 40 firefighters are currently attending an incident on Waterden Road, East London. The Brigade was called at 1206."

Diamond in the rough

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Possibley the best show with the least credit, Boston Legal (imdb) (, possibley in the uk at least because its on living tv a tv channel aimed at women and also on sky and cable only.

Starring William Shatner and James Spader (amoung others), its a series about a law firm, its an intelegent darkly comedic series winning golden globes and emmy's.

Web 2.0 Zeitgeist

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Its a list of lists, the top items from things such as fark,, furl, flickr, et... | popular urls to the latest web buzz

Dirty spam-bags

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Spammers Media logistics uk, have just been ruled against by a uk court, found guilty of being Spammers. All I can say is, serves them right, and I wonder if I've had any spam off them and can sue them?

Reported on the BBC News site, the company was charged �270 and �30 costs. I wonder if someone is going to write a howto guide about how to nail the spammers.

In the last 10 years I've been quite disillusioned, disenfranchised and all round disappointed with the Television output from the TV, specifically in the entertainment part of the BBC's holy trinity statement of "Inform, Entertain ad Educate". I mean BBC always keeps up the quality of production, but dull and repetetive just doesn't cover it. But just recently things are getting better...

Indiana Jones, so great!

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I must just say, watching Temple of Doom on a Saturday afternoon (even if it only happens on Christmas eve), where did this type of film go? High excitement, a total rollercoaster of a film; Gadgets, mysticism, leather whips, and a proper hero.

Strike update

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You may remember yesterday I went through the picket line and was pleased with the professional nature of my colleagues. Well it wasn't so relaxed an friendly on going to lunch. In order to get to the canteen we have to leave the front door of our building and enter the side door of the other. and on the side door of the other they had people that were seemingly slightly more vociferous with their requests not to cross the line, opinions and questioning. I knew I shouldn't have worn a shirt and should have dressed down, I think they thought I was someone who could make a change and picked me out of my colleagues. Anyway after a couple of questions and a bit of personal space issue (for me) I got though to building.

Then as I left there was a few mumblings of 'scab', which I would have expected from elsewhere than the BBC, but I suppose some people just have to descend to name calling. Pity, sent my levels of support though the floor. Some people just have no talent for sociology, I'm no professed expert, but I know what'd piss me off. Suppose it depends on what you're trying to do in a strike, get buy in and further support for your views or upset people to the extent they feel they can't come to work. I'd expected the former from BBC staff, but I guess the BBC isn't all good apples.


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