Not all is technology in Japan

japaneseFoodThis blog post is a along way from tech news, but is deeply at the heart of new human experiences – made us think here.

I came across an entry on Cabel’s Blog about a visit to Japan. He entitled it the Kashiwa Mystery Cafe. Nice design centre, sunny day and, presumably, exhibits to view.

Visiting the cafe – you order a drink and a snack and food you didn’t order arrives. You are ordering, in faltering Japanese, food and drink for the person in the queue behind you.

Your food has been ordered by the person in front of you.

Fantastic – what a great way to break out of old habits, or habitual food prejudice?

Could we not apply this to one day of school meals? An extraordinary serving of lunch at the community centre or a healthy eating day at the local sports ground. Way to go Kashiwa!

Live dangerously – give a total stranger a healthy eating treat.

…back to web and tech stuff for a while….

This post was created by Tim Smith, a partner at SmithMartin LLP. The original post was created by Cabel’s Blog – and reblogged by one of our favourites, Jason Kottke.

Summer Sounds of the City!

musicPic2Just lazing in the garden with the radio, basking in the intense heat of the summer sun. If only?

Instead during August, whilst it’s a bit quieter and we’re getting some housekeeping done, we’re going for an in-house alternative – fresh orange juice at our desks and listening to City – a gentle blend of trance, drum and base, dance and electronica oscillating in the background.

This simple web site feeds music tracks from cities around the world to your browser – very contemporary and rhythmic we thought. Ideal when you need that break from long periods of web coding…over 10,000 tracks at the last posting.

Created by Henrik Berggren and David Kjelkerud using the platform.

With thanks to Emily Chang for bringing this to our attention in her original post.

Have a good summer break from the Thirdsector Team.

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Music graphic from dalbera on Flickr – A Creative Commons image.

Open access publishing on the web…

gatewayPicPlacing documents in the public domain is giving them away – often seen as an illogical position for a commercial entity to take?

Or should it be better put that placing information online in order to spread that knowledge as widely as possible, is best achieved by offering users of that information clear signposting that copyright and license of the material has been waived.

This is an Open Access argument. If you create information, articles or images that you wish to be freely available to others why not ‘mark’ them accordingly for others to use the material with confidence.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation has been working recently to provide researchers and information users with standardised sources of open access information.

The Creative Commons movement have also posted a set of tools online that can help you generate html to help signify the accessibility of information sources that you have published as original material.

These Creative Commons tools are clearly intended as markers for original content that has not been licensed. Delimiting material already prescribed by copyright is a cautious matter for the original content owners.

You can find the original blog entries from the Open Access Movement that inspired these thoughts here.

The Creative Commons tool kit or code generator can be found here on this Creative Commons web page.

If you are interested in reading more about the Creative Commons as a non-profit organisation you can find a Wikipedia article here.

There is some debate online as to whether the Creative Commons approach is really able to be aligned with the concepts of free software or images, or comparable with Open Source. Surely the point is that the creator of the work has a framework of possibilities available to him or her – deciding which right she or he wishes to devolve themselves of, or not.

We create content for access by the public and in our small way think any framework that helps information users or distributors to be clear about how material can be used is a good thing per se. What do you think?

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Digital Europe – digital world!

digitalgrowthPicThe EU Commission released it’s annual digital survey – Digital Competitiveness Report 2009 – this month (August 2009).

In it the Commission highlight the comparative development of broadband/dsl connections across European countries, as well as the use of web technologies by business. The results are surprising – using 2008 data as comparisons.

The UK now does well in it’s broadband/dsl coverage overall. We lie 5th in the Commission league tables with some 99.8% of the whole UK population having access to broadband services.

We do relatively well now in the coverage of rural areas too – with the UK services reaching 99.4% of the population in rural localities. We are beaten by France, Demark, Luxembourg and Belgium who offer better coverage to their rural residents.

In terms of the percentage of all households with broadband connection the UK lies 5th with a take up of 62%. A surprisingly low figure perhaps?

Overall users of the internet in the UK is registered by the Commission as 70%, placing us in 7th. place overall in the European competitiveness chart. Of those 70% of the population who use the internet, some 53% the survey declares define themselves as frequent users.

Of UK enterprises who have a fixed broadband connection we lie in 8th. place, with 87% of enterprises having a fixed connection. Interestingly the economies of Malta and Lithuania have higher business broadband penetration.

The comparative tables in the survey highlight the surge of development needed to still hit the government’s e-business targets. Slightly over half of all UK broadband connected businesses use the internet for form completion and filing (51%), but only 12% of the total broadband user population connect to e-government services. This puts the UK in 15th. ranking for business e-government, but at 12th. place in Europe for overall e-government population users.

This latter figure is very low for a global internet user population of 70% overall in the U.K. with Ireland, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland and Portugal all enjoying more e-government literate populations.

The full survey also has interesting things to say about the percentage of employees with ICT skills, or rather those employees who are recruited specifically for their I.T. skills.

To read more abstracts of the research, or to see the Commission Digital Competitiveness Report in full you can find the page here, on the European Information Society portal pages.

You can reach the Third Sector Web home page here.

Google updates image search…

b&wTreepicGoogle recently began a program of updating the search function for images. Recent additions to the advanced image search function include the ability to search by creative commons licence, colour and size.

Micro-stock sites with similar search functions are available, but this addition by Google is a useful adjunct when you are searching for that black and white image, that can safely be re-used in a project document or press release, for example.

The image of the tree above is from Flickr – a Creative Commons licensed image of a tree in Old Wood Lane, near Bingley from Tim Green.

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Drawing online again…

paintBrushimageWe have written about diagram creation and drawing tools that are available to web users before. Highly complex and process heavy applications like Visio serve a purpose for the professional user.

However, there is often a need for a drawings, flowcharts or diagrams of a lighter structure. We like Project Draw 0.7.9 from draw.labs.autodesk.

You can create online all the usual flowcharts and network shapes, but this suite also includes shapes for floor planners, office furniture, electrical items and icons for the Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

We have found it useful for working out wireframes for web design, to planning community library design and installs.

A simple service sign up means you can save your designs and charts in a variety of exportable formats – with the application offering very good properties variance from imperial to metric measurements, grid sizes, object backgrounds and ‘page size’. The ‘draw curve function’ is one we like too – accurate, scaleable and efficient.

This is a great online project draw service – designed by engineers at, but useful to organisations and planners in a while variety of organisations and industry sectors.

Other project draw programs we have featured on Third Sector Tech – Dia, Pencil and you can find Visio from Microsofthere.

See Project Draw from Autodesk//LABS here.

You can find the Third Sector Web home pagehere.

Who can get the information?

onthePhoneThe International Telecommunications Union (ITU) have recently published the 2009 edition of Measuring the Information Society – The ICT Development Index(IDI).

The pdf of the core findings is freely available from the ITU.

They make interesting reading – particularly when looking for analysis on where the greatest growth lies and how people access information with ICT.

Africa is a world leader. The data from the ITU on the IDI reveals that ICT access to information growth, across a broad spectrum of carriers and hardware, was 100.4% in North Africa from 2002 to 2007.

The equivalent growth rate in Western Europe was only 23.4% in the same period.

Much of the growth in Africa is in non-traditional internet access areas. Mobile phone market penetration is six times higher in Africa than in Europe.

If we were starting a web/information social business in Africa having all data and output available in mobile friendly versions, just like this Third Sector blog, would be an absolute given.

To their continued credit, Google are making strides to get information to these non-traditional access routes. Google has just released a set of SMS friendly services called Google SMS.

Offering mobile phone users an SMS marketplace, search service and tips – delivering advice on crops, health and clinics. All designed for the currently less well developed or mature hard-wired infrastructure markets. Go Google.

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Flickr Creative Commons image by Telelavoro

Google translator toolkit (beta)

translatePicWe love translation – building our web sites with machine translation facilities and using Google online translation services to publish printed material in other languages to support our clients and community organisations.

Google have recently lanched the Translator Toolkit. You can play your part in improving machine translation at Google, helping to correct automatic translations in a simple editor.

You can compare and contrast translated pages, search past translations for new words or publish the translations themselves directly to Wikipedia or Knol.

Translation – better with Google.

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Wolfram Alpha – a computational knowledge engine

wolframLogoPicWolfram Alpha is a search engine with a difference. The beginning of a journey towards the creation of a search tool that will provide definitive answers to factual queries. Producing clear, accurate data for researchers at all levels and competencies.

As of now, Wolfram|Alpha contains 10+ trillion of pieces of data, 50,000+ types of algorithms and models, and linguistic capabilities for 1000+ domains.

You can see a full explanation of the Wolfram goals on their About Us pages – the project is built on the twenty years of research in the field by Wolfram Research.

Try the site with a couple of simple examples to see it in action and to appreciate the potential for reliable fact based research.

Add your date of birth to the engine. How many days have you been alive? When did the sun set on that day? How is your birth date expressed by the various calendars around the world?

Add two companies to the engine. Microsoft and Apple for example. Get a computed comparison which expresses their company size, profit to earnings ratio, number of employees and similar data.


Image: Section of sample search results from Wolfram Alpha

You can drill down into the data for even more detail, or save your search in pdf format. There are some bandwidth restrictions at the moment whilst the service is in alpha.

In search engine terms ‘watch this space’ is an understatement.

You can visit the Third Sector Web home page here.

Chrome experiments – wild horses couldn’t….

Google Chrome, the browser with the fast Java engine, has recently added an experiments page for those interested in the browser wars.

We are, as regular readers will know, constantly interested in browser and search engine development. We do a lot of research for web content, as you would expect, and welcome web developments that parse information in new ways or just plain do it faster.

Visit the Chrome experiments page and see what Chrome can do. The site is best viewed, obviously in Chrome.

Visit the Chrome download page and get access to its functions. Chrome is fast and quick loading on our machines – the development of additional functions and add-ons making it an even more attractive option.

We have reviewed other browsers recently – Q t, Opera.

You can visit the Third Sector Web Home page here.