Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Useful BI blog

Chris Webb's BI Blog

MDXtreme Programming!

How to Watch YouTube on Your iPod

With a few minutes of work, it's easy to watch YouTube videos on your iPod. Here's how.

Note- This only works on iPod Video (even though the picture depicts an iPod Nano)



  1. Download and install the free Firefox web browser.
  2. Install the Greasemonkey extension for Firefox.
  3. Go to www.userscripts.org and install the Download YouTube Video script.
  4. The next time you watch YouTube, you'll see a Download Video option beneath the screen. Click it to save the file to your computer. You might want to rename the video to something descriptive.
  5. An alternative method for steps 1-4 that works for all browsers is to copy the YouTube URL for the video you want to download and then go to YouTubeX.com. Paste the URL to extract the file from YouTube and click "Get Video!" to save it to your computer.
  6. Install and launch the free Super video converter (www.erightsoft.com). Download is located here. You may be unable to download as this site is blocked by most spyware blocker programs. Although it does not appear to infect your computer.
  7. Select Apple - iPod from the Output Container option, and then the output video codec H.264/AVC. Set size to 320 x 240. If you get an error message when converting, unclick the Use DirectShow button.
  8. Drag the converted file into iTunes and it's ready for viewing.

Mac OS X

  1. Go to a YouTube video page, wait for it to load, and open Safari's Activity window.
  2. Double-click the URL of the video file - it's the largest one - to download it.
  3. Rename the file to something more descriptive.
  4. Drag and drop it into the free iSquint converter (www.isquint.org) and - presto! - an iPod-optimized video file for your iTunes library.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cool sounding Website optimiser tool...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A fakers' guide to mastering office politics

Forget hard work. Playing the people game is often the fastest way to climb the greasy pole, writes Mary Braid

WHEN it comes to career progression, there is no shortage of advice about time management, presentation skills and sheer hard graft.

However, the single biggest factor determining how far we climb up the ladder, according to business psychologist Rob Yeung, is “other people”.

Yeung argues that however much we might want to deny it, the reality is that colleagues have a far greater impact on our careers than how hard we work or how talented we are.

“A lot of people like to think that their organisations are not political and that they can get on without being political. But the fact is that the most hard-working people do not make it to the top — it’s the politically savvy that get there,” he says.

“You have to learn to look at colleagues and consider what is driving their behaviour. You have to understand their professional and personal agendas.”

According to Yeung’s new book, The Rules of Office Politics, colleagues have never been trickier to deal with because of the pressures that organisational change, mergers, downsizing, outsourcing and globalisation have brought to both the private and public sectors.

These pressures have turned the workplace into “a minefield of treacherous personalities, unexploded resentments and ticking egos”, and understanding office politics and what makes colleagues tick has never been more important.

The trick, Yeung suggests, is to discover what colleagues’ “little hot buttons are” and then press them.

He offers a host of tips for handling other people, and claims colleagues can be divided into four types — bigwigs, rising stars, no-hopers and has-beens — depending on their level of influence and seniority in an organisation. He suggests the ambitious should cultivate relationships with influential bigwigs and rising stars, but waste no time on no-hopers and has-beens.

Understanding the political landscape of an organisation is crucial, he says, and when gathering intelligence — about who likes or hates who, who is on the up or on the skids and so on — Yeung recommends that the ambitious work on showing a genuine interest in people. He also suggests they encourage colleagues to divulge their innermost thoughts, particularly when their guards are down — when workmates are drunk, tired or emotional.

Yeung believes that attentiveness is the way to becoming a targeted colleague’s best friend. He even offers tips on how to fake it.

“You probably aren’t really interested in their diet/new curtains/recent yoga retreat/groin operation,” said Yeung. “But if you aren’t interested, at least pretend by using ‘active listening’ cues. Lift your eyebrows and ‘flash’ your eyes occasionally to signify that you understand what is being said. Nod intermittently to encourage them to continue ... use verbal cues such as ‘uh-huh’, ‘mmm’ and ‘yes’ to reassure them you are hanging on their every word.”

For those who might recognise the dog-eat-dog workplace that Yeung describes but feel a touch queasy about blatant politicking, Yeung says he is offering advice about how to succeed in the real, not the ideal, world. And he does not think that the public sector is any less dominated by office politics than the private.

“Public-sector organisations can actually be even more political,” says Yeung. “In the private sector there are clearer measures of performance. In the public sector, the lack of clarity in performance measures creates more tensions, and decisions are seen as political more often. I’ve found the public sector as much of a political minefield as the private.”

For those who do not recognise the world he describes, Yeung says “wake up and smell the coffee”. Bosses, he says, always have favourites, organisations do not care about employees and the only person with responsibility for your career is you, so put your own interests first.

Yeung says his book is a manual for dealing with reality. “I’m not saying that the rules of office politics are right or wrong,” he says. “I’m just saying that’s the way the world is. The political game doesn’t disappear just because you refuse to play it.

“I’m saying bitching, sniping and complaining about other people is not productive and that people should instead observe colleagues’ behaviour and do something about it.”

Isn’t it bleak, though, to suggest that the only way to get to the top is to accept the rules as they are and play by them? Without challenging the existing culture, how will workplaces ever change? And doesn’t acceptance of the existing rules allow organisations to escape their obligation to create fairer workplaces where what you know might come to matter more than who you know? In his book, Yeung admits to instances where he put his own career before principle. He talks of two former bosses — Alistair and Sean — and how he adapted to suit their “styles” even though those were objectionable. Alistair swore a lot and so when he was with him, Yeung would swear more too. Sean had a fixation with women’s breasts, so Yeung says a breast joke never went amiss when Sean was around. “The key to office politics is that people like people much like themselves,” says Yeung.

So how does Yeung personally square the reality of the workplace and his own career now? Interestingly, he chooses to work for himself.

“The reason I run my own business is because I no longer want to play the political game,” he says.

It seems ironic that the author who advocates the ambitious play by the rules rather than try to change them has himself walked away from the office..

  • Accept the reality and power of office politics.
  • Get to know the bigwigs and rising stars.
  • Don’t waste time on no-hopers and has-beens.
  • Cultivating influential people matters more than working hard.
  • Think strategically and understand the office undercurrents by becoming a confidant. Even when you are bored by colleagues’ stories, fake attentiveness.

Dave is the perfect picture of the web's future

If you want to know why Google just bought the fledgling website YouTube for a cool £880m, ask David Cameron. His own cringe-inducing video blog, Webcameron, has had more than 2,500 YouTube views at last count — and it’s not even any good.

Dave’s vlog (yes, that’s the ghastly neologism we’ll all have to start deploying) was given its real headstart by a YouTube clip parodying it. The satire made news (it featured Sion Simon, a Labour MP, mimicking Cameron and offering to give away Dave’s wife and two — yes, only two — kids).

The news created a web buzz and the buzz ended up bringing the real thing to 10 times as many eyeballs. All in a few days. With no one on control. And everything in full view of anyone who cares what the Tory leader thinks as he loads a dishwasher to the sound of a bawling child.

Yes, Simon’s sense of propriety leaves something to be desired. But he, like Cameron, has the right idea. The web exists to empower great media corporations like, er, you. Or your strange nephew. Or your cranky uncle. Or that inspired French video artist, Michel Gondry. Or the best jokes from cable comedy, or the worst gaffes of politicians caught with their mouths open and their brains dead. Its riches are close to endless, its embarrassments compelling in the way only home video can be.

I stumbled across YouTube a year ago, and quickly became addicted. I became obsessed by a webcam clip of two young Asian students lip-syncing I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys. The deadpan facial expressions, the perfectly copied boy-band gestures, the passion for western pop culture, the off-camera Chinese slang: they all made for an almost poignant insight into globalisation.

But my favourite part was their room-mate. He sits behind them, his back to the camera, doing homework, and obviously bored and irritated by his inspired but demented fellows. Eventually, you see him get up and leave. He had no idea the back of his head would eventually be seen a quarter of a million times — on every continent. These amateurs almost have as much media power as the professionals.

So Google really isn’t that dumb. Where once the web was essentially a transmitter of words, it is fast becoming the newest incarnation of television — and YouTube has managed to occupy frontier territory. A year ago, to give a simple example, my own blog featured no videos at all. Now, I have a YouTube clip every day. The readers send them in, or I stumble across them in my meanderings across the web.

The variety is stunning. In the past couple of weeks I’ve featured the last five minutes of the HBO drama series Six Feet Under, a local news debate about a potential legalisation of cannabis in Nevada, a dramatic re-enactment of the waterboarding torture technique, and one of my favourite scenes from the 1980 comedy classic, Airplane!. It’s all there — if you want to find it.

YouTube yanks classic clips from the old media, adds a melange of amateur antics, scrambles recent television, and lets viewers decide what they prefer to watch and when they want to watch it.

Bloggers love it because it has a simple mechanism for embedding the YouTube clips onto your own blog, thereby bringing them to more people and making more, freely associative connections. By allowing itself to be embedded and multiplied across the blogosphere, YouTube grasped the essential fact of new media: let the consumers do the producing.

Here’s another example: two former colleagues of mine at the magazine The New Republic got bored with most political programming and simply constructed their own version of a television talk show. They debate with one another and sundry guests over video-cams, often to embarrassing or self-revealing effect.

It’s more viscerally interesting than a static column on newsprint; but more sophisticated than the average cable news show. They have no editors, but are gaining an audience. It is rather like the British 18DoughtyStreet internet political television show that the blogger Iain Dale launched last week. And if they want a vehicle to bring their wonkish debates to the masses, YouTube is only too happy to help.

Is this simple formula worth £880m? I have my doubts. Last week Google tried to reassure investors that it wasn’t on some acid trip back to the late 1990s. But YouTube feels a lot like the early Napster to me. It’s way too good to be true. Sometimes, ominously, a YouTube clip suddenly disappears — because someone somewhere wants their copyright back.

Big media companies are not too fond of having their content purloined, spliced and disseminated by amateurs for free — and the anarchy of the YouTube universe is not an easy fit with corporate world. Google’s chief understands this and said last week: “We are not in the content business and partnerships really show the application of our advertising network to the content and media abilities of our partners. We want those partners to put their media content into this emergent (system).”

Translated into English, I think that means Google has been striking deals with big media companies to get around some of the copyright problems, and share advertising revenue with content providers. If anyone tells you this will be easy, don’t believe them.

There’s one thing, however, that Cameron got right. He shrugged off the Simon parody as a lark, and seemed happy that it had increased the viewing of his original lame home-video 10-fold. That’s the attitude the web fosters; and it’s one reason why Google may not be so stupid in the long run.

The one thing many of us have in common is simply the desire to express ourselves or to communicate our tastes and enthusiasms to others. It’s called self-expression. The web has unleashed it for millions who never believed they would ever have a moment in the spotlight.

The only possible response is to sit back and watch — or to create your own television channel. All you need is a boy-band soundtrack or a couple of dirty forks and a dishwasher. Mr Cameron, get ready for your close-up. Your 15 seconds of vlogger-fame are formally here.

Andrew Sullivan (ST)