T[error]ist is a Plonker? | July 11, 2004

A while ago I mentioned that Brighton Council had taken to stencilling the words "is a plonker" next to local stencil graffiti work. Shortly afterwards I was wandering around town taking pics of stencil art and saw the following.

Stencil graffiti by Terrorist

Stencil graffiti by Brighton Council

Now both together

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Bill Bailey | June 20, 2004

My brother was down visiting over the weekend, so I took him out to see Bill Bailey at the Brighton Dome. Bill Bailey is a UK comic best known for the Channel 4 series Black Books and his regular appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. However it’s in his guise as a stand up comedian that he really excels.

Last time I saw him in Brighton was at Komedia a few years ago. This was before becoming well know on TV, and he was performing in front of a half full theatre of around 100 people. How times have changed. Tickets for his two night show at the 1800 seat capacity Dome were sold out weeks in advance, and it was only out of luck that I managed to pick up some returns the day before.

I’m really glad I managed to pick up the tickets as the show was excellent. Apart from a couple of parts, the show was completely new, and had me rolling around laughing for the full 2 hours. As well as being a hilariously funny stand-up, he’s also an extremely talented musician, something he uses to great effect in his show. He’s currently on a UK tour before heading up to Edinburgh for the festival. If you get a chance, you must go and see his show. However, if you do miss it, there will be a DVD coming out in Nov. Fore a chance to win a copy, visit the Bill Bailey page at Universal Pictures.

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London to Brighton Bike Race | May 11, 2004

My girlfriend has decided to do the London to Brighton bike race this year to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. As an example of a charity using the internet well, if you’ve registered for the event, you get your own sponsorship page on their site. You can email the link to your friends or post it up on your (or your boyfriends) website to get people to sponsor you. That’s what I call making the most of the web.

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Graffiti vs Stencil Art | May 6, 2004

Brighton has quite a bit of a graffiti problem. It was getting so bad that the local council devised a radical solution. Their plan was to go around spraying the words "is a plonker" next to the tags, in the hope that it would shame people in stopping. However the council have just announced that they are scrapping the plan. It's Mostly kids tagging blank walls. It's akin to littering or vandalism. It's pretty pointless and makes the local environment a much less attractive place to live.

However, there is also quite a surge in stencil graffiti, or stencil art. Rather than being destructive, stencil art actually makes the environment a much more interesting and quirky place.

Some stencil art is political. Highlighting issues in a light hearted way.

Bush Stencil Art

Sometimes it's quirky, like this zebra decal. Wild animals juxtaposed against the backdrop of the "Urban Jungle".

Zebra Stencil Art

And sometimes it's just fun, like this "Nurse Decal".

Nurse Stencil Art

Stencil graffiti is a mixture of gorilla art and anti advertising. Little subversive "blipverts" intended to interrupt the near constant assault of commercial marketing. And I think it rocks!

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Red Blossoms | April 28, 2004

red blossoms

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Blossoms | April 24, 2004

Pictures of blossom trees taken last weekend in the Brighton Pavilion Gardens.

white blossom

blossom tree with brighton pavillion in the background

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Cool Tee's | March 20, 2004

Knofler t-shirt design

Brighton based T-shirt designers Knofler, have just launched their summer range. So if you want some distinctive threads this summer, they are well worth checking out.

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More Community Minded | March 18, 2004

A few of you may remember a spat I had with a few individuals on my local mailing list a couple of weeks back. The spat left me feeling distinctly negative towards the local web community, and as a result I signed off the list and was thinking seriously about packing my SkillSwap project in.

Since leaving the list, there have been more spats and more people have left, some of whom have been there from the start. At one point, it really looked like the list was going to implode. Luckily it looks like the message may finally be getting across to the individuals concerned, and things seem to be calming down. Over the last couple of days, I’ve been to two local web community events, and was extremely impressed with positive vibe at both.

On Monday, I ran a SkillSwap event entitled “The Business of Freelancing”. The event was extremely popular and heavily oversubscribed. This was partly down to the excellent speakers we had in the shape of Jonathan Hirsh and Tom Nixon, and partly due to the timeliness of the talk. The web business really seems to be picking up at the moment and quite a few people are taking the leap from full time work into freelancing. There seems to be much more business around at the moment, something confirmed by the speakers and the attendees alike.

The talk went down really well. Both presenters had plenty of material, and each could have done a whole SkillSwap just on their own. However, having two presenters worked really well, as each came from a different background and had a different approach.

Jon’s talk was very much focused on the practicalities of being a Freelancer. He talked about having good contracts, book keeping and tax, trading statuses etc, as well as more prosaic topics such as networking and elevator pitches. Tom’s talk revolved around what potential employers want from a freelancer. He discussed the best way to approach agencies looking for work, and gave examples of good (and bad) email people had sent him when replying to job adverts. He talked about reliability and the fact that companies will hire a freelancer to “take the pain away”. If your interested in finding out more about these talks, you can download the presentations from the SkillSwap archive.

After the presentations, we all went for drinks and were joined by a number of other local web folk. The pub talk was all extremely positive and it was good to put more faces to names as it were.

Then last night the BNM had a social down at Riki Tik’s. I was really impressed by the turnout. Loads of people came down, and I had another matching faces to names session. There were a lot of people there who I didn’t recognise, so I’m sure there must have been a big lurker contingent.

Again, the atmosphere was extremely positive. Loads of people came up to talk to me about SkillSwap and hopefully I have the next couple of speakers sorted. If everything works out, the next couple of events will be an “Intro to OS X”, “Javascript, the New Black” and hopefully a Flash talk from recent Flash Forward returnee Pete Barr-Watson.

Overall, a couple of very positive nights that have helped revive my faith in the local web community. It’s really easy to mistake the loud voices of a few vocal community members as a general feeling of negativity. However in truth, it’s only a few people resonating these negative vibes, and on the whole, Brighton has a very active web community.

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Community Minded | February 23, 2004

Brighton is a good place to be if you’re a web designer. We have a fairly active local community, due in a large part to our local mailing list, the BNM. We also have an organisation called Wired Sussex whose aim is to support and promote the local New Media cluster. Last week Wired Sussex asked me to a meeting to discuss how they could improve their relations with the local freelancer/micro business community.

In the past, they have been seen as being more interested in high profile web companies, than in small web companies and freelancers. This is probably due in part to the fact that their events tend to focus on networking, and their offerings are very business oriented. They are also seen as being part of the establishment and closely tied with local government.

To get round this image, I felt they needed to update their brand. To move away from the business oriented, local government image that they had been saddled with. Part of this suggestion involved updating their website.

Their current website is actually very good. It’s semantically structured, laid out using CSS and highly accessible. However, design-wise I though the site looked like a good government site, rather than a site promoting cutting edge new media. This is not to say that the site isn’t designed well. Just that it reflects how they currently perceive themselves (and how they are currently perceived) rather than how they want too be perceived.

Asked on my local mailing list how the meeting went, the site design was one of the many things I mentioned we’d talked about. I’d previously asked for input, but as I got very little back, most of the stuff I talked with them about were personal impressions. However most people disagreed with my feeling that their current site looked a little institutional and didn’t reflect current trends in design.

I’d just finished a big dev project at work, so over the weekend decided to do something cathartic. Partly to illustrate my thoughts, and partly as a bit of fun, I decided to produce my own version of the Wired Sussex site. A version that I felt reflected where they wanted to be, rather than where they were coming from.

This morning I posted my design to the BNM list to see what people thought. I’d thought there would be a mixture of opinion, but I wasn’t prepared for the tirade of insults and negative comments that followed.

Here is a selection of some of the more colourful comments.

“AB’s arrogance is incredible. If he did that with one of my sites, I’d be slightly less diplomatic and smack him in the gob.”

“You clearly have way too much time on your hands.”

“I’d be delighted to hear any more constructive comments about the site, rather than a fairly immature ‘I could do that better’ response, which is at best unhelpful, and at worst fairly insulting.”

“a) He didn’t do anything worth blowing his own trumpet about.
b) What he did was pretty rubbish anyway.
c) It’s a sad way to celebrate finishing a major project.”

“… he didn’t redesign the whole thing, he just futzed around with the style and came up with something that was markedly inferior and said ‘look at me, aren’t I good’. This is a poor way of doing business.”

“I do think it is a little egotistical to spend the weekend redesigning other peoples sites.”

So I’m interested in what other people think. Is my design “pretty rubbish” and “markedly inferior” to the original? Is it an “egotistical” way to spend a weekend and a “sad way to celebrate finishing a major project”? Do I really deserve a “smack in the gob” for creating my Wired Sussex theme? I’d really like to know, because at the moment I’m feeling pretty dejected and very negative towards the local web design community :-(

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Daniel Kitson | January 30, 2004

Picture of Daniel Kitson

I’m looking forward to seeing Daniel Kitson’s new stand-up show in Brighton tonight. He was one of the comics I most wanted to see at last summers Paramount Comedy Festival in Brighton. However I managed to miss him as I was on holiday at the time.

Fast becoming a regular Edinburgh fixture, Daniel won the Perrier prize a few years back, and is seen as something of a comic’s comic. I saw him perform live very early on in his career, and have to say he’s one of the funniest stand-ups I’ve seen. Can’t wait.

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Brighton Comedy Festival | October 4, 2003

This years Brighton Comedy Festival starts soon. Unfortunately I'm not going to be around to see it. However if I were, these would be the acts I'd go and see.

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