September 02, 2011

Google Plus has arrived

Writing about web page https://plus.google.com/113797508378819391794

This blog was once my only one. In the last year or so, there have been many including whatsinKenilworth.com and themikedownespage.com

Then one twitter account @wiKenilworth and now another @infotelligentia

But since last month, Google Plus has arrived as the most exciting platform to beat them all.

Find me at: +Mike Downes


October 21, 2010

New House Farm Pumpkin Cannon

Writing about web page http://www.whatsinkenilworth.com/2010/10/new-house-farm-pumpkin-cannon-2010.html

There Warwick Pumpkinsare only two weekends left until Halloween - come and see the New House Farm Pumpkin Cannon in Hill Wootton, it's a tiny place near Leek Wootton just south of Kenilworth and off the A46.  See the two YouTube videos: New House Farm and The Pumpkin Cannon It's a boom - not a bang, see My Post

We are talking diesel generator supplying compressed to air some pretty high psi, then straw base with massive pumpkin shooting 300 metres in a field. More videos to come. The Pumpkin Carver will be at the Farm this weekend - fun for kids New House Farm Pumpkin Cannonadults...and students 


May 21, 2010

Kenilworth Weekly News

Writing about web page http://www.whatsinkenilworth.com/2010/05/kenilworth-weekly-news-in-warwick-road.html

Warwick Road, Kenilworth

This post was originally made at www.whatiskenilworth.com, it is to date, the most visited page on that website - I wonder why? Read it here and make up your own mind. The post read in full:

________________________________________

Kenilworth Weekly News‎

31 Warwick Road CV8 1LJ

01926 852 870‎

www.kenilworthweeklynews.co.uk

(The KWN website has no relationship to the print copy edition. For example, headline as Fri 14 May 2010 reads 'Police target house burglars' - that is not found anywhere on the KWN website or with a detailedGoogle search). What is also alarming is the KWN website has now introduced intensive advertising).


Sad times for a newspaper that was established in 1946. When you pay 50p for the newspaper on a Friday, there are very few pages of Kenilworth News (around five feature stories a week).


Currently, the Kenilworth Weekly News sells an average of 3,533copies per week (in a town population of 26,000 or so). That was 3,704 copies per week in August 2009 as reported by thePress Gazette.


Did you know that one paper copy of the KWN laid end to end is about 24 metres in length, by selling 3,533 copies a week the paper will stretch for 53 miles - what a waste of paper and not searchable, linkable and clickable either. 


The KWN is owned byJohnston Presswho have financial difficulties and have shut five titles, but say they have 'no plans as we speak' to cut more titles (seeThe Guardian).


Johnston Press have played down suggestions that their idea of a paywall (they were asking online readers to pay £5.00 for 3 months access) for their online versions has failed, seeBBC NewsandThe Guardianonce again.  In my rough estimates from searching the web, KWN may get 16% of their revenue by selling the newspaper for 50p, the rest comes from advertising. But in these difficult times advertising spending is decreasing and Johnston Press are trying hard to cope with the threat of full digital editions and competition.


For those of you who do not know, many years ago there were very few ways to get the news - the most popular, buy it every day in hard copy paper version from a newsagent (yes I know there was TV and Radio too). Since 1998 (when Google came alive) titles have disappeared as people like Google aggregate the news which means linking to all the news stories and show them in their search results.  This has left people like Rupert Murdoch not selling papers like The Times and losing money, blaming Google and trying to charge for readers for online news, see thisBBC article.  Many say this will not work, I agree. On the other hand,The Guardianhave introduced aniphone applicationand sold it via the Apple iTunes store where readers pay once and possibly never again.


This idea that a town newspaper (aka the KWN) is shrinking and may eventually close is one of the reasons I have made this website. And it does not stop there, theOfficial Kenilworth Town Websiteis also under threat as it has never really been updated since it was first published (well over a year). If you missed that articleclick here.Even then it caters for the large businesses but not the small ones who matter - they need the coverage most to survive.


I have always been a big fan of the Kenilworth Weekly News since my first Soapbox column in 1999, but times are changing and anyone can report the news these days - even me. Read the 1999 here.


April 19, 2010

How did I make this Polaroid? If I can – anyone can.

Writing about web page http://www.themikedownespage.com/

How did I make this?I made this. see how I did it at The Mike Downes Page.

Yes I know, for all you University Techies - it is really easy, but for those who want a fast way of creating reasonable graphics, then it's for you.

It's made with Google's Picasa in case you are wondering.


So who are the Election Candidates for Kenilworth?

Writing about web page http://www.whatsinkenilworth.com

I've been avoiding anything to do with the election at all. I noticed the BBC News website had a new ELECTION 2010 section and that made it even worse. There I was skipping TV channels last Thursday evening and thought I would give the debate five minutes. 

And like the rest of the country, I am saying in a typical Brucey way - Didn't he do well. I am now a big fan of Nick Clegg (I don't think I have ever seen him speak before that night). For the whole program (and still right now), I have no idea at all who to vote for.

So who are the candidates for Kenilworth and Southam? A quick google search gives us the BBC and Coventry Evening Telegraph as two trusted sources (The Kenilworth Weekly News gives us a promise of 'Election candidates: The full list Your choice at the ballot box,' but when we click it gives a list for 2007. Oops - not really, sorry to say there is no relationship between a paper KWN and the website (I will be writing about that very soon and spilling as many digital beans as I can). 

This website is all about how we find digital stuff and if you cannot be found on Google then you do not exist. Sorry, but that's the way it is (see my other site The Mike Downes Page for all about the that). I've had personal email replies from two of the candidates (yes, I know you know who you are) and one of the top three - nothing. Shame really - I vote soon. So to the list then, we have (in alphabetical order): James Harrison, Nicholas Milton, John Moore, Nigel Rock and Jeremy Wright.

Nicholas Milton- Labour

John Moore- UK Independence Party

Nigel Rock- Liberal Democrat

Jeremy Wright- Conservative




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April 17, 2010

What's in Kenilworth Spines

Writing about web page http://www.whatsinkenilworth.com

Take a few photos of some Kenilworth Shops. Crop to rectangles. Use the Google Picasa Collage Tool.

Arrange like books on a shelf, then we have...effective for a webpage banner - let me know.

Shop Fronts and made to look like book spines


April 12, 2010

The Sonali Indian Take Away Kenilworth

Writing about web page http://www.whatsinkenilworth.com/2010/04/sonali-authentic-indian-take-away.html

Sonali Indian Take Away Kenilworth

Sonali Indian Take Away
33 Warwick Road
Kenilworth, CV8 1HN
tel 01926 857 733 or 01926 856300

Here is an example of a business possibly having a niche market. . The Sonali in Kenilworth does not have a website, however it does have an online ordering facilty.  I found this awkward as I could not browse the whole menu in one go, but had to navigate 20 sub menus (there is a search box though). Have you used it? I am told that many online orders come from the University of Warwick.

Compare this with the full menu at whatsinkenilworth.com, click herefor the direct link.


Googled by Ken Auletta and Here Comes Eveverybody by Clay Shirky

Writing about web page http://www.whatsinkenilworth.com

Googled by Ken AulettaThis is far the best book I have read about Google and it's founders. Amazon lists the book as 25 Feb 2010, so it's quite new. Ken Auletta talks at length about the ideas - he comes across as humble and genuine.

Have you read it? Tell me what you think. I don't see Google as a company that chases the $100 billion. Or how Google is in the news for all the wrong reasons i.e. China, News aggregation, rows with Apple. I see it as two guys who had a project to download the whole internet twelve years ago and filled up a house with computers in the process. They were $25 million down before they had a clue how to make the first cent.

Auletta weaves interesting fact with the thoughts and behaviours of Sergey Brin and Larry Page. There was a freaky moment while reading the book where I thought that any web page is just an advertisement for something else - well is it? Go read it and find out for yourself.


Here Comes Everybody by Clay ShirkyI first heard of Clay Shirky from WWGD do? by Jarvis with the idea that people can organise themselves while using the internet to get off the internet (see Meetup and the witches). This book is a harder read, but is worth it, even to understand how Wikipedia was a failure at first (Publish then Filter solved that).

Key ideas like the Birthday Paradox, Power Law and the Long Tail now have meaning - ask the Mermaids from Coney Island, see Flickr.

Shirky claims we now have the tools to change the world - is he right? Read this book and find out. As history states, the medieval scribes were none too happy about the printing press. Shirky has many videos at ted.com - see one on groups here.

I am not a fan of Facebook, but group organisation was in action when an X-factor winner's song failed to reach number one in the music charts.


April 05, 2010

For Sale in De Montford Road Kenilworth

Writing about web page http://www.whatsinkenilworth.com

Home Made Jam, Pickled Shallots all from wild or local market produceI needed to photograph Castle Hill, couldn't get parked as an event was on. Circled Clinton Lane ended up looping down Woodcote and into De Montford.

It was then I stopped and jumped out. This is what Kenilworth used to be all about and sometimes, even now - it is.

It was then I had a Back to the Future moment (where Marty McFly is back thirty years and keeps citing modern inventions and met with odd looks).

I met the lady, 'Can I photograph your jars...for a webpage...so Google can find you?' Blank stare. 'Google...the internet?' Very blank stare. 'Do you go on the internet?' Smile and shake of the head, 'Oh, No.'

This experience made my day. After a quick chat, I learned most of the fruit was wild and the produce from the local market. It took three weeks for the jams to be ready and the shallots a lot less.

It's at this point I will stop writing as I realise (and you too) I know absolutely nothing about making jams or anything else that goes into a jar...like er food.

What I do know is - get yourself down to De Montford Road and buy some - no buy the lot. Prices are from 20p to just over £2 (if you look close enough, you can see the top corner of the honesty box on the table. I'm back tomorrow with my kids for the Apricot Jam and if you get there before us - hands off it's ours.


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