Friday, November 24, 2006

Я изучаю русский язык

As you may or may not have determined from the title of this piece, I have started to learn Russian. Why? Well, primarily it is because I encouraged my son Alistair to take up Russian at school (he is 25% Polish, but the school does not teach Polish) and I thought I may be able to help him at some stage. The reverse is of course much more likely. First hurdle is the Cyrillic Alphabet named after St. Cyril a 9th century monk. It certainly helps to have had exposure to the Greek alphabet either through studying the sciences or island hopping.

I'd recommend the following book for beginners:-
Teach Yourself. Beginners Russian. 2 CDs.
Rachel Farmer does her best to play down the horrors of Russian Grammar and offers some very useful simplifications.

Here is the link for details of the evening classes in Bristol

The text used on this course has 2 CDs included and can be found below. Daphne goes into more depth than Rachel and has an unhidden affection for Russian grammar.

The class teacher is Galya Ransome, who just happens to be the wife of Alistair's Russian teacher at school. The classes are conducted with a healthy level of participation which more than compensates for the unreasonable feats of memory which seem to be expected.

до свидания! (Dasvidanya)

Friday, July 14, 2006

She loves me, she loves me not...

Well isn't technology just wonderful. Just a few more strokes of the keyboard, sign up for another google service, post more of you cyber-experiences and yes, you're back to the top of the Google listings when you type in your own name. It makes it all worthwhile doesn't it? So it seems like Google is a bit like one of those Tamagochi electronic pets. If you keep feeding your blog, and tidying up any mess that it might leave behind, Google will love you back too.

Now I've got web based activity tracking!

Two days ago I took a look at Google's site and saw that they had a web based activity tracker. Also it was for free. So I took a look. You have to apply to use it, so I did, and low and behold today I got an email asking me to create a Google account and providing the instructions to create a Google Analytics account. So I did all that stuff, and much like the Amazon scheme for creating ads of various varieties was given a small block of javascript to copy and paste into the bottom of the home page of the web site; or to the template of the blog. It also lets you track multiple web sites, so I pasted the code into each of my various blogs. Now it is up to all you avid readers out there to keep reading my postings so that I can get some pretty analytics chart showing me how often my blog has been visited from the different parts of the globe. Perhaps right now I should offer a special prize for the one millionth hit on any of my blogs?

The Elusive Google Listing

Soon after my return to blogging, I thought that I would try to find my blog using Google. So in went my name "Tony Debling", click search, and wow, I could not believe it Tony's Blog made the top of the hit list. In some ways I was surprised, in other ways, I thought it is not so surprising; I haven't encountered anyone else with my name, so Google won't have many references. Well, yesterday, this initial delight had turned to disappointment. Having explained this easy method for finding my blog to some friends - somewhat less of a mouthful than my blog address is - I was horrified to find that when I demonstrated this on the members' PC at the tennis club the cupboard was bear! No reference to my blog! Had I done something to upset them? I was consoled by a friend, Matt Clark, who suggested that it was probably because I hadn't updated the site for a while. So that's what has prompted me to make this post, a vain hope that fame can be restored, if just for one day!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Cloudspotter's Guide - do not miss

I've just started to read the Cloudspotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Seemed a bit off the wall, but I was intrigued by a book review in the Economist. I've read about the various types of Cumulus clouds; these are the nice fluffy fair weather clouds. I've read about the Cumulonimbus, the marvellous anvil shaped storm cloud which can stretch from 2000 feet up to 50000 feet. Gavin gives an exciting explanation of what is going on from a meteorological viewpoint and soothes the flagging intellect with some rather fine anecdotes and cultural cameos. The best example so far is that of Lt. Col. William Rankin who fell 45,000 feet through a rather lively Cumulonimbus - experiencing outrageously low temperatures, pummelled by hailstones, repeatedly lifted by convection currents, a forty minute roller-coaster ride - and still lived to tell the tale. Already I find that skies are better able to grab my attention. Works of art that are easy to take for granted and hardly notice at all.

Can you really make money out of blogs?

Well I am starting my trawl for how people make money out of their blogs. My first port of call was the Adsense option on, the second port of call was of course Amazon, where I signed up as an Associate. Took a look around the associate information. The main idea was to write the occasional book review and to leave a link to the book in the blog. You get 15% of the list value credited to your account if someone follows the link and buys the book. There's also something called a "self-optimising link". This is a kind of banner ad which adapts itself to the content of your web site. So as a starters I copied the html provided by Amazon into the bottom of the blog template, just above the footer, ... et voila, nice little Amazon ads appear at the bottom of my blog page. Nice, but retirement plans still on hold.

Friday, June 23, 2006

You really will get comments on your blogs; not always welcome however ...

Having returned to the blogosphere, I was delighted to discover that my experimental blogs had attracted some comments. To my initial blog I got a comment from Jean-Claude Morand who first demonstrated the technology to me. He has since set up a company to evangelise these new technologies ; si vous pouvez parler francais, je vous recommande a suivre cet hyperlink!
I also discovered some less welcome comments on my "In search of an RSS reader" posting. No, I don't want to contact "abunnyinpink", no I don't want to want to "get my desired college degree in less than 2 weeks", and nor do I want to "follow the day to day life of a park ranger". But hey this is the internet after all. In any case I left them there for posterity.

Has it really been more than one year?

After a fit of enthusiasm about blogging and RSS and all that stuff things went quiet for over a year. It has recently come back on the radar. Probably because, as everyone else is, I am finding that there is so much stuff filling my email, and so much information that we need to filter to find what we are interested in, that I am thinking again how best to address the problem. This is an issue both in a personal context, and a work context, but mainly the latter.
A friend of mine Roger Shepherd has started blogging. I think he would like to make a modest fortune from the activity. May be not as much as contemporaries who got in at the start of Microsoft and are now sailing yachts 24X7, but perhaps enough to fund the family ski trip. Take a look at his articles, they're pretty good.
Blogger Shepherd -
I explained to him that getting up the search rankings would involve a very similar you scratch my back philosophy as in the academic world with referring to each others publications.
Now I also think that a blog needs to have some kind of theme, or at least in the early stages focus on themes for a little while. Having decide that meta-blogging, or blogging about blogging is a bit off of the mainstream, I think that from a few experiences that I have had recently, I will start a blog focussing on "ebay rants". The general theme is that there is so much fraud and bad stuff that goes on through ebay and it is all kept very quiet to allow ebay to make lots of money whilst accept no responsibility.