Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2017 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 29 March 2014

BBC Frozen Planet: Philharmonia Orchestra doing a live-score at Royal Festival Hall with George Fenton

Wow this sounds lovely - an evening of watching HD footage from the BBC's Frozen Planet series with an orchestral accompaniment, conducted by George Fenton who composed the score. Not bad at all.

I went to hear George Fenton being interviewed at the Royal Albert Hall last year, by Tommy Pearson (who will be interviewing another composer, Michael Price, this coming Monday - Michael co-composed the music for the BBC's Sherlock). 




BBC Frozen Planet in Concert

Philharmonia at the Movies, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank

Sunday 4 May 2014, 7.30pm (£15-£55, 50% concessions)






There's a nice Vimeo trailer ad to accompany it.


BBC Frozen Planet in Concert from Philharmonia Orchestra on Vimeo.




Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Television & Twitter interaction - small suggestions to make Twitter a little easier for beginners to use

Topline suggestions (for making it easier for non-Twitter users to follow along with Twitter) are:
TV folk - don't use #bbcqt or @BBCOne on-screen, use instead
twitter.com/#bbcqt or
twitter.com/@BBCOne - the bold is the salient bit for those familiar w Twitter, the rest will be helpful for those who aren't, so they know what web address to go to.



Twitter is apparently keen for people watching television programmes to interact more with Twitter while doing so. I'm in favour but the practical 'how to' seems to be confusing for people who aren't already familiar with Twitter. Here's my attempt at setting out what I think problems might be, and some solutions. If yours are better, or you can point out where mine are wrong, please add them in the comments and I'll update the post.

1. What do #hashtag and @ScreenName mean to the uninitiated?
As far as I've noticed, when television programmes want to encourage viewer interaction by Twitter they tend to flash up a hashtag (#bbcqt, which stands for BBC Question Time) or a Twitter name (@BBCOne) on screen.

This tells everyone watching, who's on Twitter, what to do. It tells almost no-one who's watching, but not a Twitter user, what to do or how to interact with them. To access these you have to find them on Twitter first (if you're using twitter.com then just add /BBCOne or #bbcqt to the end of http://twitter.com)

2. Use web addresses - (more) people understand web addresses
I've not noticed many people using URLs to make it easier but let me know if you have.

My suggestion is for Twitter and television to use a TV-friendly shortened URL because I think most people understand a web address and know what to do with it. The t.co one would do I suppose but twitter.tv would be lovely.

If at all possible then
twitter.tv/#bbcqt would resolve to
https://twitter.com/search?q=%23bbcqt&src=typd&f=realtime

and
twitter.tv/BBCOne would resolve to
https://twitter.com/bbcone

To be fair you can sort of already do this with Twitter.com (though I prefer twitter.tv if it exists!), so
twitter.com/#bbcqt will take you to the top tweets and resolve to this URL
https://twitter.com/hashtag/bbcqt

and
twitter.com/@BBCOne already works with or without the @ and resolves to
https://twitter.com/@BBCOne

So... why aren't on-screen hashtags and Twitter feeds shown as
twitter.com/#hashtag - the # is necessary otherwise Twitter will try and find someone whose handle is the same as the hashtag (very likely in almost all cases), and not search for all the tagged tweets
and
twitter.com/@ScreenName

Or has everyone started doing this and I've just not noticed?

Edit: 26 March 21:45
When I tweeted this post out this morning Peter Harrison made this rather good suggestion - that definitely has potential.




3. Simplify sign-up for people landing on Twitter via a hashtag (and everyone else)
I'm assuming that many novice users to Twitter might be using Twitter.com on a web browser rather than a smartphone - I've never tried to create a Twitter account from a smartphone but I assume it's straightforward. The suggestions below are for those using Twitter.com

Twitter could make things a bit easier for people signing up - if a novice user arrives at the hashtagged tweets they might want to join in. Why not offer them a "want to add your voice?" button which gives them a quick signup and then lets them tweet, with the draft tweet showing up the hashtag already (which they can delete if they don't want to tweet with it).

Save the showing them 'who to follow' until later. Why is it always celebrities? Why not just invite people to search for a topic that interests them and have a look at a few of the tweets.

4. Other stuff that would be nice
a) Let people follow hashtags as if they were a 'person'
When a hashtag is created, automatically generate a feed (ie a screen name) that people can follow so that the tagged tweets show up in their timeline, and they don't have to view them in a separate screen. Obviously everyone would need to be a bit careful to distinguish between someone whose Twitter name is the same as the hashtag and all tweets tagged with the hashtag but I don't think this is particularly difficult.

b) Make search more obvious to people if not logged in!
There's literally no search bar on Twitter's front page (you have to know to type something like http://search.twitter.com which resolves to https://twitter.com/search-home - why? why??

Browsing through a bunch of tagged or other tweets can give people a good idea of why Twitter can be useful and interesting.

The front page of Twitter.com if you're not logged in - no search option







Background thinking on the above
Twitter is apparently quite keen to embed itself within television viewing and I'd have to agree that having Twitter open while watching television myself has turned out to be a bit of a modern joy. I've been reminded to watch programmes I've wanted, or turned over to another channel following tweeted advice, answered queries that have popped up through a hashtag and had my own answered, shared further information on the hashtag and generally had a wholly pleasant and generally 'augmented' time.

The only time I've ever watched BBC Question Time (I'm not a fan of confrontational live television) was when I caught up with the tweets about it on the bus home while Hugh Grant was ninja-ing his way through the questions. I've never seen it since but enjoy the rage-by-proxy afforded me thanks to the #bbcqt hashtag, while I enjoy the much nicer Family Guy.

When #Sherlock was broadcast earlier in the year the combination of [TV programme + tweeting] became almost a sub-genre in itself, with Twitter UK blogging about the unprecedented number of hashtagged tweets sent during the programme.

The other day I read Twitter's dream for TV: You will never watch alone (Quartz, 19 March 2014) which said:
"Twitter’s engagement levels around TV are extremely high. Graver [Fred Graver, Twitter's head of television] says that 95% of public conversations about TV happen on the platform, and that 33% of Twitter users tweet about the shows they watch. People generally only tweet once about a show—the average is actually 1.5 times per user because of the”loudmouths” who tweet to excess—and 70% of tweets happen within three hours of a show airing.  The challenge is to convince the uninitiated to use the platform. "It ain’t easy and we know it’s not easy and it’s something we have to work on," Graver said..." [emphasis added]
I also read Twitter hints that at-replies and hashtags are about to be streamlined (Buzzfeed, 19 March 2014) referring to Vivian Schiller (head of news at Twitter) who apparently said that the # and @ symbols were arcane (true I suppose) and that they might be made less obvious and put more in the background. The nice thing about that article is that they keep updating it as people backpedal on what bits of Twitter might be updated... The inherent 'clickability' of the @name and #hashtag (they appear as blue* links as soon as the @.. and #.. are typed into the Twitter.com tweet popup window) makes it easier for people to get a sense of what they are.

Might add more bits here as other stuff pops into my head :)




Sunday, 23 March 2014

Despite strong regulatory action live blood analysis is still with us

The news on Thursday that a practitioner of live blood analysis had been fined £19,000 for making misleading claims about cancer is part of a series of events where live blood analysts have been under increasing regulatory scrutiny in the UK and abroad. Earlier this year US-based live blood analyst Robert O Young was arrested and charged with 18 counts of practising medicine without a license, and theft.

In July last year, after three years of adjudicating on complaints about live blood analysis, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of Advertising Practice wrote overarching guidelines for what live blood analysts are allowed to claim in their marketing material. 'Not much' would be an accurate description as they can only say that they offer the test.

Live blood analysis is a fake diagnostic tool that sounds and looks sciencey (microscopes, microscope slides, camera, computer screen, discussion about blood and health, possibly someone wearing a white coat while doing so). Apart from the costs of the 'test' it exists to sell a mixture of perfectly sensible dietary advice along with unnecessary and expensive supplements. In at least one case someone has been given alarmist (and wrong) health information about cancer.

It's a waste of money and thanks to Westminster Trading Standards bringing this latest Cancer Act of 1939 case to completion at Westminster Magistrates Court I imagine it might be easier for victims to get their money back if they've spent anything on this nonsense.



Further reading (and listening)

1. The recent regulatory action 
£20,000 bill for cancer claims man Jersey Evening Post (21 March 2014)
• Conclusion of the case brought by Westminster Trading Standards, at Westminster Magistrates Court.

Harley Street practitioner claimed he could cure cancer and HIV with lifestyle changes and herbs, court hears The Telegraph (11 December 2013)
• An earlier hearing of the case above which, not being concluded in time, resulted in the later March hearing.

'Cancer cure' alternative health practitioner appears in court Trading Standards Institute news (~December 2013)
• "Westminster Trading Standards has instigated legal proceedings against an alternative health practitioner who uses a room in London’s Harley Street, for making various claims contrary to the Cancer Act 1939. "

Therapies: Live Blood Analysis Committee of Advertising Practice (~July 2013)
• "CAP is yet to see any evidence for the efficacy of this therapy which, without rigorous evidence to support it, should be advertised on an availability-only platform."

2. Audio clips on some of the ASA's adjudications
Blood tests BBC You and Yours (11 March 2013)
• The ASA upholds more complaints against a man offering ‘live’ blood tests.

Live Blood Tests BBC You and Yours (15 March 2012)
• "Why adverts for a test which lets you see your own 'live' blood cells on a computer screen have been criticised for failing to prove claims they have the potential to prevent illness or disease."

3. The ASA adjudications against claims made about live blood testing
• ASA (24 April 2013) ASA adjudication on Live Blood Test
• ASA (27 February 2013) ASA adjudication on Live Blood Test
• ASA (6 March 2013) ASA adjudication on Steps to Perfect Health
• ASA (16 January 2013) ASA adjudication on the Natural Health Clinic 
• ASA (2 November 2011) ASA adjudication on Fitalifestyle Ltd: Fitalifestyle Ltd
• ASA (19 October 2011) ASA adjudication on Optimum Health UK
• ASA (7 September 2011) ASA adjudication on MyCityDeal Ltd: MyCityDeal Ltd t/a GrouponUK
• ASA (1 June 2011) ASA adjudication on Fitalifestyle Ltd t/a seemycells.co.uk
• ASA (13 October 2010) ASA adjudication on Live Blood Test

4. ASA Non-compliant online advertisers offering live blood analysis
• ASA (12 March 2013) Live Blood Test
ASA (15 February 2013) The Natural Health Clinic - this person has since removed their misleading website claims and so has now been removed from the non-compliant list
• ASA (26 June 2012) London Natural Therapies 
• ASA (15 November 2011) Fitalifestyle (claims about blood-cleaning properties of chlorophyll)

5. Background reading on live blood analysis as a bogus test
• Edzard Ernst (2005) A new era of scientific discovery? The Guardian
• Mark Crislip (2009) Live Blood Analysis: The modern auguries Science Based Medicine blog 
Wikipedia's article on Live blood analysis
• Thomas Patterson (2012) The Pseudoscience of Live Blood Cell Analysis Skeptical Inquirer
• Zachary Rubin (2009) Live Blood Analysis: New Diagnostic Method or Quackery? Case report and Review of the Literature UCLA Department of Medicine
Posts tagged with Live Blood Analysis on Josephine Jones' blog 




Twitter Analytics - quite fun

Edit: 29 March 2014 - I'm not sure if the number of clicks reflects people clicking on it from my tweet or just the total (across all of Twitter) number of clicks regardless of who's shared the link. I had a look at my analytics yesterday and saw that a link I'd tweeted a few days ago was now up at 200+ clicks but that increase can't have come from my tweet which is now buried further down my timeline.



Yesterday I discovered that Twitter Analytics exist and are free, and a bit fascinating.

To play along, be logged into Twitter then go to https://analytics.twitter.com/ - you can see how often people have clicked on links and there's a record of the number of favourites, retweets and replies.

When I had a look through I spotted that a link I'd posted a few days ago to a concert in July I'm bonkersly excited about (David Arnold: live in concert = film music!) had been clicked 30 times. I've sinced tweeted it again and it's now gone up to 72 thanks to more retweets.

I've actually tweeted the link a few times since Feburary and would have expected each tweet to have a different number by it, depending on how many clicks it gets for a particular tweet, eg 15 click for the first tweet, another 10 for the second, 20 for the third and so on - but each of them now displays '72 clicks' - so the number of clicks for any given tweet isn't available, as you can see below.

Click to embiggen any of the pictures to see them a bit more clearly


The pic above doesn't mean that the link was clicked 72 times for both tweets (144 clicks) but 72 overall.



It's entirely possible that no-one clicked the link from this tweet as I wasn't actually 'sharing a link' as such, more asking possibly-nerdier followers to see if they knew what the glitch was (since fixed).


I'd have thought the more honest, and truthful, thing would be for the number of clicks to reflect how many came from a particular tweet as it would seem that that would be more useful (eg telling you that more people click through at 10am on Monday morning than they do at 10am on Thursday morning or whatever).

Still, it's quite fun.

Apparently Twitter is also telling some users (using the iOS Twitter app) how many people have viewed their tweet too (hat tip @simonhowes).






One million blog views on this site (but not really)

I regularly publish my blog stats (more or less annually) just in case anyone wants to have a bit of a nosy at them. It's not clear how instructive they are but I think the most interesting thing is just how spectacularly misleading the view counter is that I have showing on this site. Here's what it said just now:

1. Blogger counter widget
Although I can't remember when I added that counter I don't think it started at zero, I think it had some idea of how many times my site had already been visited.

2. Google Analytics
At some point I also added Google Analytics to this blog but it was at least a year after I began blogging so presumably it ignored the first year, possibly two of my blogging.

3. Blogger stats (matches widget)
At another point in history Google also added Blogger stats to everyone's site - and these seem to be in line with the counter...

You also get a little graph that shows you how traffic varies.

I know it says 'May 2007' on the X-axis but I didn't even start the blog until June 2009 so the months are a bit confused there.

So it sounds like my blog gets around 2,000 views a day (which could be 20 people each viewing it 100 times or 100 people viewing it 20 times, or even 2,000 people viewing it once), resulting in over a million views overall.

In fact it's nothing like that and about 2/3rds of the daily views shown above can probably be accounted for by Google bots and spiders. The more realistic stats can be found from Google Analytics which tells me how many people are really visiting.

Whenever a new post is published to this, or any blog, there's no need to tell Google about it - it will automatically index the site, and re-index it. In fact within about ten minutes of me publishing this post the chances are it will show up in Google. Blogger is owned by Google so it's not too surprising that Google sends its blog-indexing tools to index its own blogs.

I do get plenty of traffic from real people, but nothing like as much as the counter claims. Here's what the site has actually had, since June 2010, according to Google Analytics. The stats are dramatically lower but believed to be much more accurate.








Almost all of my traffic comes from people having a question about something that I've answered on my blog. That's partly why my bounce rate is so high - the majority of people spend only half a minute on my blog because they want to know X and hopefully find it within the first paragraph of my post, then leave. There are still people spending several minutes on certain posts but those views are swamped by the sheer volume of people searching for a technical solution to something - my top post has been viewed 114,000 times but the second most popular post has been viewed 24,000 times.

Further reading
Blog stats for this blog - latest edition (updated Jan 2014) and overview
Some other posts I thought you might like




Wednesday, 19 March 2014

London: free showing of 'His Last Vow' plus 1 day symposium on all things #Sherlock

Hooray for algorithms. Eventbrite randomly suggested this free one-day symposium at UCL on Friday 11 April which includes several talks on all sorts of aspects of Sherlock Holmes with quite a big focus on the recent BBC series but also a lunchtime screening of 'His Last Vow'. Not bad.

Also, if you like the music from the show both the composers have events coming up at which some of the music might be played.

New Directions in Sherlock
FREE - register on Eventbrite for tickets
@SHolmesPastPres on Twitter
Friday 11 April 2014
10-6pm

Wilkins Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
UCL
Gower Street
London
How to find the Gustave Tuck LT  in the Wilkins Building.

Note - this is a draft programme and may be subject to changes.

10-11:30am
SESSION 1 (RG06/RG08) - numbers in bracket refer to room numbers

Panel 1: Filmic Sherlock
Chair: Carrie Chandler (UEA) 
  • ‘Sherlock: A Case Study in Excellent Screenwriting,’ Bonnie MacBird (Independent)
  • ‘Sherlock, Speed Detection, and Post Television Audiences,’ Palle Schantz Lauridsen (Copenhagen) and Asta Schantz Koch (Liverpool)
  • ‘Ethics, Morality and Superiority: Are House M.D and Sherlock Holmes Equivalent Moral Heroes?’ Kate Brombley (Portsmouth)

Panel 2: Sherlock on the Road
Chair: Andrea Williams (KCL)
  • ‘A Study in ‘Setlock’: Fans, Filming, and Sherlock,’ Emily Garside (Cardiff)
  • ‘Welcome to London’: In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes,’ Anne Chai Buchmann (Newcastle)
  • ‘”Try Finding Sherlock in London”: Location and Tradition in the BBC Sherlock Series,’ Richard Burnip (Independent)

11:30am-1pm
SESSION 2 (RG06/RG08)

Panel 3: Narrative, Adaptation, and Theory
Chair: Valerie Schreiner (Independent)
  • ‘“All that Matters Is the WORK”: A Barthesian Approach to Adaptation and Appropriation in BBC Sherlock,’ Ann McClellan (Plymouth State University)
  • ‘Mobile Sherlock: Transformations and Continuities in Recent Media Adaptations,’ Jana Nittel (Bremen)
  • ‘Counsel for the Prosecution: The Adversarial Team of Watson and Holmes,’ Jen Nicholson (Oxford)

Panel 4: Ambivalence and Complexity
Chair: Emily Garside (Cardiff)
  • ‘Life Examined and Lived Meaningfully: Endings Open to Beginnings in Sherlock,’ Lynn Duffy (Independent)
  • ‘Re-imagining Moriarty,’ Rakshita (Raks) Patel (Independent)
  • ‘A Study in Parallels: BBC Sherlock and Medieval Quest Narrative,’ Andrea Williams (KCL)

1-3pm
LUNCH [own arrangements] (RG06)
Screening and Discussion: His Last Vow

3-5pm
SESSION 3 (RG06/RG08)

Panel 5: Sherlock’s Fandom
Chair: Bertha Chin (Cardiff)
  • ‘Fangirl,’ Elizabeth Minkel (UCL)
  • ‘Sherlock Fanfiction: “That's not what people normally say,”’ Chiara Codeca (Independent)
  • ‘She’s Always a Woman to Me: Irene Adler, Sherlock Holmes Retellings and the Problem of the Woman,’ Joanna Kucharska (Jagiellonian)
  • ‘Boswell’s Blog: How Does Sherlock Engage with New Ways of Writing the Book of Life?’ Carrie Chandler (UEA)

Panel 6: Detection and Mystery
Chair: Tom Ue (UCL)
  • ‘The World Turns to Holmes: Home, Nation, and Empire,’ Tom Ue (UCL)
  • ‘Sherlock Series Three, Fan Service, and the Subtext of Mystery,’ Matt Hills (Aberystwyth)
  • ‘Professional Women in Conan Doyle and Sherlock: from Clients to Colleagues,’ Benedick Turner (St Joseph’s College)
  • ‘ “I, Too, Mourn the Loss”: The Absence of Holmes in Neo-Victorian Representations,’ Charlotte Beyer (Gloucestershire)

5-6pm
KEYNOTE LECTURE (RG06)
‘Fighting Paper Dragons? The Emergence of Political Ideology in Sherlock Series 3,’ Benjamin Poore (York)




Friday, 14 March 2014

UK Science Festivals - phase one (a collection)... phase two (event dates)

If your favourite science festival isn't listed please let me know - comments below, jo dot brodie AT gmail dot com or @JoBrodie, thank you.

Science festivals and other festivals where science communicators might be involved

Acknowledgements: British Council's list of science festivals. The British Science Association also has a great list of festival (annual and one-offs) and local BSA chapter events too. Here's a list of science festivals in Scotland. Also British Interactive Group (BIG) listed above.

Art & Mind (Winchester)
http://artandmind.org/
See also Winchester Science Festival

Bangor Science Festival
http://www.bangor.ac.uk/bangorsciencefestival/
14-23 March 2014

Big Bang Fair
https://www.thebigbangfair.co.uk/
13-16 March 2014

Brighton Science Festival
http://www.brightonscience.com/2014/
6 Feb - 2 March 2014
        
Bristol - Festival of Nature
http://www.bnhc.org.uk/home/festival.html
7-15 June 2014 (Harbourside event 14-15 June, outreach programme May - July)

British Science Festival (city varies each year)
http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/british-science-festival
6-11 September 2014, Birmingham

Caithness International Science Festival
http://www.science03.org/
18-22 March 2014, Family Science Fun day Saturday 22 March 2014

Cambridge Science Festival
http://www.cam.ac.uk/science-festival
10-23 March 2014

Cardiff Science Festival
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cardiff-Science-Festival/386755174684198
14-21 July 2014

Cheltenham
http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/science
3-8 June 2014

Darwin Festival - Shrewsbury
http://www.discoverdarwin.co.uk/darwin-festival/
8-22 February 2014

Dunbar SciFest
http://dunbarscifest.org.uk/
22-23 March 2014

Dumfries & Galloway Science Festival - Wildscience
http://www.dgsciencefestival.org.uk/
28 April - 4 May 2014

Dundee Science Festival
http://www.dundeesciencefestival.org/
1-16 November 2014

Durham University Schools' Science Festival
https://www.dur.ac.uk/science.outreach/sciencefestival/
1-3 April 2014

Edinburgh International Science Festival
http://www.sciencefestival.co.uk/
5-20 April 2014

Fife Science Festival
http://www.fifesciencefestival.org.uk/

Glasgow Science Festival
http://www.glasgowsciencefestival.org.uk/
5-15 June 2014

Green Man Festival
Einstein's Garden - http://www.greenman.net/area/einsteins-garden
Science At Play - http://www.greenman.net/artist/science-play
14-17 August 2014
Proposal deadline: 14 April 2014

Highland Science Festival
http://www.highlandsciencefestival.com/

London Science Festival
http://londonsciencefestival.com/
12-19 November 2014

Manchester Science Festival
http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com/
24 October - 3 November 2013

Middle of Scotland Science Festival
http://www.astro.gla.ac.uk/users/martin/bsa/news.html - not sure if it will be annual, info for 2013
4-5 May 2013

Midlothian Science Festival
http://midlothiansciencefestival.com/
4-19 October 2014
5-20 October 2013

National Science & Engineering Week
http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/national-science-engineering-week
14-23 March 2014

Newcastle ScienceFest
http://www.newcastlesciencefest.com/
Maker Faire: 27-28 April 2013

Oban Festival of the Sea (marine life)
http://www.marinesciencefestival.com/
18-28 May 2014

Orkney International Science Festival
http://oisf.org/
5-11 September 2013

Oxfordshire Science Festival
http://www.oxfordshiresciencefestival.co.uk/
7-23 March 2014

Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
http://royalsociety.org/summer-science/
2-7 July 2013

Salter's Festivals of Chemistry - take place at different schools around the UK
http://saltersinstitute.co.uk/festivals/festival-news/

Sidmouth Science Festival
http://www.sidmouthsciencefestival.org/
13-19 October 2014

Winchester Science Festival
http://winchesterscifest.org/
See also Art & Mind which appears to be a separate event
20-22 July 2013

Wrexham Science Festival
http://www.wrexhamsf.com/
17-25 July 2014

York City of Festivals - science might not be every year
http://www.yorkfestivals.com/festival-of-ideas1.html
13-29 June 2013


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Homeopaths often surprise me, sometimes the ASA do too

On Wednesday 26 Feb 2014 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) published an adjudication against a homeopathy website which had been making misleading claims.

-- Edit 13 March 2014
Just spotted that on 11 March the homeopathy website (Islington Homeopathy) was added to the list of non-compliant online advertisers. Possibly the ASA will also take out a promoted advert that appears on search engine results whenever someone searches for the company.  --

The claim made was that homeopathy has been part of the NHS since it began (true), but it was written in such a way that implied the NHS endorses homeopathy (manifestly not true as it has begun the gradual process of removing funding and presumably dismantling infrastructure with hospital closures) as shown in this pic below, used with permission from Alan Henness of the Nightingale Collaboration.























Someone complained (wasn't me, I didn't spot that one) and the ASA took action and investigated.

Around the time the investigation was happening, the patients of one of the people working at the homeopathy organisation wrote a letter to the local newspaper almost-but-not-quite blaming the Nightingale Collaboration, who then wrote back to point out that they'd had nothing to do with the complaint.

Excerpt from original letter
"AS patients of a clinic in Islington where we see our homeopath, Jennifer Hautman, RSHom, we are surprised to learn that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is pursuing a single complaint regarding 24 words on the clinic website that state homeopathy “is sanctioned by the UK government and has been an integral part of the National Health Service (NHS) since 1948”.

This is a statement of fact. Homeopathy has been part of the NHS since it was founded in 1948."
Source: Islington Tribune, Letters to the editor 'Homeopathy has always had NHS role' 15 November 2013

The letter goes on to imply, somewhat evasively, that the Nightingale Collaboration could be just the sort of organisation to be behind such a complaint.  

There's a response letter from Alan Henness of the Nightingale Collaboration (disclaimer - he's a friend of mine, he doesn't pay me, I don't pay him, I'm not a member of the NC as they don't have a membership structure) pointing out that they'd had nothing to do with this particular complaint.
"I can assure the writers of this letter and Hautman that the Nightingale Collaboration is not the complainant in this case and it has nothing to do with us. We were not aware of this complaint until we read this letter."
Source: Islington Tribune, Letters to the editor 'Legal, decent, honest and truthful?' 28 November 2013

A follow-up letter comment to the Islington Tribune from Alan, after the adjudication was published, highlights that the complaint was entirely about the way in which the claim was phrased. I think I spotted a bit of mild snark there too - when you put in a complaint to the ASA I understand that they do tell the organisation what the complaint's actually about. For the patients to have heard about the complaint but not seem to know the full story suggests that someone didn't really understand what was going on or just didn't bother to mention it.

The page under investigation - http://www.homeopathyislington.co.uk/ - still implies that the NHS sanctions homeopathy (I'd not be surprised if they're added to the non-compliant online advertisers at some point - edit 13 March: this has now happened - and have an ASA advert appearing whenever anyone searches Google for them) but surely the list of conditions on the page is much, much worse...?!

I don't really think the phrase "Patients seeking to use homeopathy often come with these conditions:" is a permitted way of getting round the fact that you can't claim that "homeopathy can help with the following conditions" which is partly why I'm so surprised the ASA didn't look into that.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is pretty clear that people who aren't medically qualified should "not refer to serious medical conditions".































It seems that one of the clinic's homeopaths also has her own website - http://www.hautmanhomeopathy.com/ - and perhaps not surprisingly this page also has a shopping list of conditions: http://www.hautmanhomeopathy.com/home/who-can-benefit-1


My favourite bit on that page is the 'full list of medical conditions where positive findings for homeopathy have been reported'. That page links to http://www.britishhomeopathic.org/evidence/Conditions_where_positive_evidence.html which, delightfully (I can hardly keep the sniggers down) returns a 404 'page not found' error. Forgive my childish amusement.

Arf!


The correct link would actually be this one http://www.britishhomeopathic.org/conditions-with-overall-positive-evidence-for-homeopathy/

As always, I'm afraid I no longer take comments from anyone in support of homeopathy.




Friday, 7 March 2014

Michael Price (one of the #Sherlock composers) is doing an interview about composing for the screen

...and I can't go as I'm meant to be in Swindon for a works away day (two days) thingy! To be fair the works thing will actually be really good fun anyway, I work on a massive project to do with making medical devices safer, but if you've seen more than two of my tweets one of them was probably about film music - a subject that I find endlessly fascinating.

Over the last couple of years I've been to see ... 15... 20 (lost count) film / TV / screen composers talking about how they approach their work. Music in films is often the thing I'll notice most or remember (not always though, and sometimes not until I see a film again much later) and it's a topic I'd cheerfully study academically, although I reserve the right to chuckle at some of the language used in the literature.

I'm a bit sad not to get to the event listed below because Michael Price (@michael__price) is going to be talking about his work as well as playing (with cellist Peter Gregson) some of the Sherlock music. A previous talk of his, at Screened Music, sounds like it was absolutely brilliant but I wasn't aware of it at the time, but that post is a fascinating read.

So far I know of him only through his work on Sherlock, and I know of that only because I happened to hear the music being played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Manchester last year and was rather taken with it. I actually came to the television programme through discovering that I loved its music. Every time I go and hear a composer speak or attend a film music concert I end up discovering more lovely films and music.

Michael will be talking to Tommy Pearson who, coincidentally, was involved in producing the Manchester concert. It was part of a series of four film music concerts celebrating Mark Kermode's 50th birthday and I went to one at the Barbican and then the one at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Through following Tommy on Twitter I've heard about a few other interviews with composers he's done and been along to the Elgar Room at The Royal Albert Hall to hear him interview George Fenton and Dario Marianelli, as part of the BAFTA Conversations with Screen Composers series. Some of the interviews are on the BAFTA website too.

So this event sounds awesome yet I won't be there, so I hope lots of other people will go and tweet about it and I'll read them over the wine and bread rolls at dinner in Swindon.

Composer Michael Price



Michael Price in conversation with Tommy Pearson
Monday 31 March 2014, 7pm
Royal Albert Hall (Elgar Room)
Tickets: £11.20



"Michael Price is one of the UK's most sought after composers. His work on the critically acclaimed BBC series Sherlock (which he scored with David Arnold) has earned him double Emmy and BAFTA nominations as well as a Royal Television Society Award.

Prior to achieving acclaim as a composer himself, Michael enjoyed significant achievements as a music editor, working on some of the most celebrated films of the past decade, including The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Richard Curtis' Love Actually, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Children of Men. As a music editor, Michael has been nominated for four MPSE Golden Reel Awards, winning in 2001 for The Fellowship of the Ring.

Michael is currently recording a new classical album in Berlin for Erased Tapes Records and scoring the new Inbetweeners film with David Arnold."

Further reading
The Sound of Sherlock with Michael Price Sherlockology - this is a talk Michael gave to Screened Music in 2012. It's linked above but it's so interesting I have added it here again in case you missed it :)

Further listening
Sherlock CDs: S1 – Amazon UK | S2 – Amazon UK | S3 – Amazon UK
Sherlock mp3s: S1 – iTunes GB | S2 – iTunes GB | S3 – iTunes GB

You might also like
David Arnold: Live in Concert at the Royal Festival Hall - another opportunity to hear a bit of Sherlock music played, among his other music including Stargate and some of the James Bond films he scored - Sunday 6 July 2014.




Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Upgrading to a new iPhone - what do I need to be aware of?

My four year old phone works for about 15 minutes before requiring a recharge, meaning that it's effective an im-mobile phone. I'm going to get a new one but before I do I need to back everything up or it will be lost forever.

I'm not the most confident backer-upper of phones and for most of its life I've never let it anywhere near a computer (for fear that iTunes will launch and I'll never hear the end of it). My phone's capacity is 32GB but I have a little over 16GB on there. A couple of weeks ago in preparation I did let it do its thing with iTunes (it was a little like the priori incantatem from Harry Potter - nothing good has ever come of letting iTunes and my phone talk to each other). It may or may not have backed itself up, it says it has but I've no real way of knowing. Or of understanding it.

What do I need to double check, and how do I do that? Here are some 'genres' that I've thought of but if you think I've missed anything please suggest in the comments or tweet me @JoBrodie (or email's above).
  • Email - I use IMAP so I assume that when I get a new phone I just whiz in my login / password details and it will download everything from scratch
  • Music - I think this is what iTunes has done, all the stuff I've bought directly onto my phone (pretty much everything) now seems to be saved on iTunes
  • Photos - best decision I ever made was to say 'yes' to Dropbox when it asked me if I wanted to sync my photos to Dropbox and earn an extra umpteen gigabytes. Every time I connect my phone to my work computer (which doesn't have iTunes on it!) my latest photos synchronise and save to Dropbox, so no worries there
  • Notes - I'd hate to lose these. I could email them all to myself, or copy and paste the text into one massive note and email that ;) Is there a simpler way?
  • Sound recordings - via the little microphone app that is part of the iPhone. Again I can email them to myself but is it possible to back up more efficiently.
  • In-app settings - I've loads of apps, some much used, some less so - will I be starting from scratch and having to download them all (I have a list from all the iTunes receipts sent to my email address). I also have some sound recordings in another app - would hate to lose those. Also I have apps that have recorded walks I've done in London. Some I've managed to upload some not and I'd like to know I can still access these when I get a new phone.
  • Calendar - I was a bit sad when I left Diabetes UK and lost access to that email account to suddenly lose years' worth of calendar entries which I'd foolishly tethered. Just whoomphed out of my phone in one fell swoop. How can I better protect my calendar?
Backing up to the cloud - I used to do this until it told me I'd exceeded my limit, so I switched it off (otherwise I'd have had to buy more storage space). Can I clone a 'disk image' of my iPhone on my Mac? I've no idea what that might entail but I've heard people talk about disk images so I thought I'd throw that out there.

A few weeks ago I tried to buy a new iPhone believing that Apple would magically whoosh the contents of my phone onto their magic cloud server, sell me a new phone and then whoosh all the data onto it. I was a bit surprised and disappointed to have the rude awakening. To be fair the assistant was extremely helpful and explained how to do a back up (and also the online help pages are pretty good) but I do think that having more intuitive software (looking at you, iTunes) would be more in keeping with a company that has this amazing hardware.

I'll be sorry to say goodbye to my old phone when I move to the next one, but I'd be sorrier to say goodbye to all my useful stuff.

What did you wish you'd known before you bought a new iPhone?