Wednesday, December 05, 2007

me & my DNA

The Richard Dimbleby lecture was given by Craig Ventor last night, entitled, A DNA-Driven World .

At the heart of his lecture was Life.

He touched on a couple of topics that are core to me. Focus on life outcomes rather than transactions.

Transforming education from memory factory to real world problem solving.

Prevention agenda on all fronts health to war.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ben Avon white with snow

The first good covering of Snow wraps itself around the Cairngorms. The Westward or each facing slopes are holding most of the wind blown snow on Ben Avon. Will this be the start of the skiiing season? The free skier and snow boarder were out on the hills on Friday. Powder was to be had. Great.

Ben Avon white with snow, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Butterworth Jigtime 68 minutes

I teamed up with a couple of friend to enter the Butterworth JigTime competition this weekend. You get a puzzle, in this case, a Howard Butterworth painting of Dunnator Castle, 250 pieces and you have to put it together in the quickest time. Our time 68 minutes, took second place, 13 minutes behind the winners. Now, 250 does not seem a lot of pieces but this is no ordinary puzzle. No corner pieces and harly a straight edge to find. Watch out for JigTime 2008, it is a lot of fun.

Image013, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Whisky live Glasgow

I attended Whiskylive Glasgow on Friday and Saturday. A celebration of whiskies of the world. Most were Scotch, with single malts leading the way but one Irish whisky attended too.

I liked the format. You get a whisky glass and vouchers to exchange for a sample of the water of life from a product of your choosing. My favourite single malt was The Benromach Single Highland Malt from Gordon & MacPhail, the world's only organic certified Scotch. Warm and smooth.

Cheers to all for making the event a great experience.

Whisky live Glasgow, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

coder not= designer

Being able to write software code does not mean you have an eye for the design of a website but you can learn. New three column css layout for now has a better three panel back ground.

Learning design by doing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Being able to hack

Being in the company of software engineers, Internet developers and geeks it's not long before you hear the word 'hacking'. Hacking the code. Now, I can join in this hacking. The word is so appropriate, I find myself hacking through the html/CSS/PHP code, like a forest some pages of code are thicker and more difficult to navigate than others. I get hacking.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

aboynejames php

Now that my coding experience is expanding I am re-hosting
at a new ISP and making it all html, php based. So you will see parts of the site, probably more accurate to say, all of the site disappearing from time to time as I learn some new tricks.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Taste of Scotland Exports Conference

I spent the day at The Gleneagles hotel attending the Taste of Scotland Exporting Conference. A day of learning from those that have led the way in breaking into new markets a broad. The talks ranged from the product labeling to legal paperwork. The market and advertising used to enter market from USA to Taiwan.

Image041, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Countryside geeks Highland geeks

When I am not travelling, home is in the countryside. Thanks to the Internet, epically with the arrival of broadband, we can develop websites and write software and publish instantly to the web.

I am keen to hear from others that have chosen a countryside or Highland (as in Scotland for me) base for the Internet development or entrepreneurial base. james (at) aboynejames (dot) co (dot) uk

Anita Roddick

I was travelling from Southampton to Brighton a week past Friday on the train. Sign posts pass by quite frequently and one was for Littlehampton. That means one thing to me, Anita Roddick and the founding of the Bodyshop. Little did I know by the time I arrived back in Scotland on the Monday that I would be reading about her death.

Equipped with entrepreneurship of the most able kind she trail blazed the causes of human, animal and environmental rights and put them at the heart of her business. Profits would come from caring for these causes. Her 'change the world' attitude and this wider meaning of what the word profit should mean, made her a entrepreneurial inspiration. I was fortunate enough to meet Anita a few times, while this will no longer be possible, she has left us many tales to read in her books and online and from observing the results of her actions, Bodyshop to volunteering.


I attended my first barcamp in England the other weekend, barcampBrighton. It was an intense learning experience as always and the range of topics range from Internet to some eclectic. Thank you to all the co-planners and sponsors for hosting a great camp. Here I am participating:

Gorms first snow today

The first snow of the new season covers the top of the Gorms.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

drupal 2 session barcampBrighton


open source, free, impressive support, modular and themeable, wordpress plus, plus

Why choose? need to byspoke SME clients.

themes:bocks, and regions, you can ask the drupal engine.

beware, end website all look like drupal websites. UI needs more differenciation. This is now happening, more needed.

how to build

starting a theme
garland, default drupal theme. good XHTML layout, non tabular. Then striped of styling, as much as you can do.

removed CSS, chopped modular includes
removed what you can not use.

PHP template files underpin templates. nodes on page related to templates.php files.
Need to hardcode, to fix whole page look. PHP coded directly.

Site structure:
drupal good at flaksonomic or flat sites.
poor structured sites
one standard stcure, neu heirarch

can use category module. Had to create duplicate much core menu code. To make your own menu drop downs.

Content Construction kit
get more complex form from standard page or story page format

adds content hooks to node workflow
then create submenus, add extra fields, declare and create widgets and eit them

contributed code, NOT CORE. but well supported.

Forms, used plug in standard modules, signup etc.

Hacking the core.
NEVER EVER DO IT. core keeps moving

multiple development on the site, use subvertion to manage code base. use seperate files for each developer

depression in a geeks world barcampbrighton

presenter David Thompson fatbook 'fatty' domain name

.net developer c# asp


lack of motivation

geeks excess motivation

big contrasts, but what happens when you have both???

treatment, medication or exercise. Talk

Community, geek e.g. barcamp, understand what you say/mean. Feel accepted. Celebration of what you do.

Satisfaction in work, showing what you have done.

drupal cms barcampbrighton

Grant talk

Test alot of cms. Took open source stance.

Look to roll out new site press of a button.

Chose drupal, quick setup.

Client, low cost, $2k website.

losts of benefit of drupal.

cons, lot of work to understand api? Some contraints.

walk through of how to use. Very useful.

Warewolf barcampbrighton

Been playing a new team/group game called Warewolf. They tell me their is lots of info. on the game on the web so this is a reminder to search.

Involves in short, villagers, a seer, a healer and warewolf(s). Villagers need to find warewolf before vice versa, who ever does first, wins.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

barcampBrighton hacking session 11.45

Presenter Tom Shannon

7 deadly sins.

1sql injection
2javascript injection
3cookie injection
4email injection
5file uploads
6corss domain

1, happened UN website, 2 days to notice. basically insert commands in username/password input boxes
.net most prone to this, but php an other happen. You need to watch that data processing and pass around by the application is secure and not intercepted.

2. e.g. myspace worm , ajax code to attract new users took down wholesite.

3. store data on server better than cookie

4. spammer include cc in email box to send out virus.
dont put user email in headers, tip

5. uploads, set proactively the stuff you want.

6 cross domain form submission

risk e.g. one click buying access. or risk for emali apps within socialnetworks, e.g. flickr mail, use token with form to stop.

7 Cross domain api blog url for Tom

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Learning to code

I've resisted for a while but I have decide to learn to code, ie. write software. I sort of do that today anyway but I am extending my range to PHP and Ruby on Rails. Both open source web scripting languages. I have never been taught at Uni or on a course so I am learning all the basics via excellent blog posts on web. I was going to buy a book, might yet, but I often find the best book is the blogosphere. Not quite as well organised as a book but boasts many more benefits. For example a book is written in one style, however, in the blogosphere you can get different styles or different levels of knowledge. I am two weeks in, one week focused on PHP and one on Ruby on Rails. This has helped teach me the basics of programming. Now I need to focus on one? One of the initial challenges I faced was just installing the correct setup environment and then getting apache talking to mysql and mysql to PHP and Ruby (OK, I use the rails server for now).

I am enjoying the code and not so much the bugs!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

video will be reborn every time the image quality improves

I capture and publish a lot more video these days. The quality play back on my local laptop is good but most views are via a flash or media players on the web. We upload our content in high quality but that is not what gets published. The service providers still have the original files, so as Moores Law continues to reduce costs with time we will see video services up-grading the play back quality, again and again until the quality that is captured is the same as the quality seen on the Internet.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Morven walk 2003

Join me on a walk up Morven Hill, Deeside, Scotland.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The media makes everything entertaining

The media, broadcasting, stuff on the tele to the web try to make everything entertaining? Not entertaining then no one watches. It's just a take on information. Take the weather. We watch weather forecasts, but the level of personalization in minimal. However, you can go to the source of the information that the Weather 'experts' use to make us the weather entertainment. What is the weather like this afternoon. Lets look up the paper or twich on the tele. It will come but why not switch on the local radar piciture to see if it rain near by and see if the wind is blowing it our way. We can do this today but for me very few do. Inertial is with the media. Is entertainment what we always want? Not the reality that is personal?

And an add on point. I have realised that social weather casts will becoming along. We need all the source weather forecasting informaiton and more as technology allows. However, I guess that one of the best sources of informatoin someone visiting Aboyne in Royal Deeside could do looking for a weather forecast and linking it to the outdoor things they want to do or any activity would be to ask me. Why I have lived here all my life. I can map the information to the experince of life. I have the most informaion on the subject.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Aberdeen OpenCoffee Club

I have setup up an Aberdeen OpenCoffee Club event on While in Silicon Valley I attended the Palo Alto, OpenCoffee meetup which is part of the OpenCoffee Club community. They are great places to talk to fellow entrepreneurs, Internet developers and all those interested in startup businesses, Internet or other wise.

If you are interested, sign up to upcoming website and I'll see you there.

The opencoffee club are also promoting the SEEDCAMP unconference in London in September.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Industrailist The Digitalist

I have observed that as an entrepreneur you will be swept along or crushed by prevailing trends in society. Now your vision may be to create one of these but the total game is a lot larger than a vision.

I read an interesting slide and document linked in this blog posting. It describes how we are at an impasse between The Industrialist and The Digitalist. The former driven by scarcity and the economics of Adam Smith and the latter driven by abundance and of a new 'adam smith' science that is just starting to be understood. The article uses history to show that when such shifts in society take place, the incumbent, in this case The Industrialist, will fail to see the new world, even if they are looking directly at it. Conversely, The Digitalist will be discounted.

We are living in such times. The Digitalists do exist, the author lists, CEO of Google, as an example of how they drive a different message to the State (Government) and the rest of the corporate world.

As a startup entrepreneur and visionary I put myself in the Digitalist category and have been so for 10 years or so. I am not sure I knew or appreciated this until very recently. Looking back on my experiences it easy to see some repetitive lessions and feedback. I can see the way to how tomorrow will be but virtually no one around me would see it, they didn't even understand the vocabulary I use, words they know but in combinations foreign to their thinking.

Moving to silicon valley surrounded me with Digitalists. Conversations can be engaged with no schooling required. But its not just a case of moving to find like minded people, I need to learn as an entrepreneur new ways to communicate and show a stable and sensible or business case to encourage industrailists large and small to change. I feel more equipped to do this.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

comparison shopping entrepreneurship lesson: never waiver

In 1998 I turned my startup energies to comparison shopping. This involved moving to Edinburgh to live for the first time. After a couple of years of bootstrapping I raised some angel funding and Prosumer Solutions was incorporated. I used my primative graphics skills to illustrate my thoughts on comparison shopping for financial services. The business quickly moved into content management tools and eventually the business stopped trading.

Today, just some 7 years on, comparison shopping websites are selling for hundreds of millions and romnours of $4bn UK floatation. The industry is profitable.

As an entrepreneur you have the vision to see these times, ahead of time. That is the easy part. The part I failed in back then was sticking to my guns, using my creative abilities and engery to guide a team throught the tough and often dark times to see the market opportuinty realised further along the line. You learn from failure and are better equiped to lead next time on the startup rollercoaster.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Greens of Aboyne

A range of greens fuelled by all the rain and some sun.

Monday, July 09, 2007

aboynejames TV live?

I set up this ustream account a few months ago. I am working out side today, as the sun is out, two days in a row. This allows me to share it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A dry day in Aboyne, at last

No rain today!

Image029, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

active aboyne

Its July and time of the Aboyne and Mid Deeside Festival. I noticed this website, activeaboyne that list more active activies, walking, water sports or even geocaching. Some evening event too that have a more social focus.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Craigendinnie Hill Trees growing tall

The hill was cut bare, the tree saplins were inches high when planted, years add on, knee high, shoulder to shoulder and now way over my head.

Image012, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

all the greens and noise quiet

Deeside is full of all the colour greens of the world right now. And the whole valley is full of quietness, well relative so silicon valley.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

aboynejames back home trip 4

Image064, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

best trip

This is my fourth trip to Silicon Valley and by far the best. Last year was all about putting out the vision: lifestyle linking, learning and meeting people. The most notable difference with this trip is that people I had not met last year but had seen me demo or heard me talk would come up and ask how we are getting on. That provided much positive energy to our venture.

Mountain View is a great place to live, my 'Aboyne' of Silicon Valley. I have swam and trained more on this trip, still not consistent but enough for me to compete in a master short course championships and my first ever competitive open water swim. Not every thing went to plan but you learn and let the vision guide you forward.

All the above is possible because of the great people I have met and now call friends from co-founders, entrepreneurs, swimmers, co-workers, event organisers, people that have listen to me pitch, and many more. Thank you all for making my time here the best.


no.1 word used to describe on this trip to silicon valley.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Lake Berryessa Open Water Swim

Image008, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Friday, June 01, 2007

the great health mashup

I attended a Stanford healthcare event last week, the guest speaker pointed out the importance of the mix of people present, medicine, engineering and computer science. This is great to see and many other participants are required, the food industry, pharma, biotech, fits, wellbeing, car, travel etc etc. The great health mashup is required to re-purpose the economy on life.

We created healthcamp to help in getting those conversation going.

smiling on the streets

I was walking towards downtown San Franciso yesterday when a girl passed running, in a skipping motion, clearly in a hurry. Ahead was a homeless man, street coloured. As the girl approached he extended his had in slow motion. But just quick enough for the girl to high five his palm. Watching this brought a smile to my face. One character full of the beans, one in shock of the speed of what had just happened.

p3, s3 and WAR as a constant

I have taken in a couple of movies in the last three weeks. The third episode of Siperman and Pirates of the C. S3 wasn't as good as the other two, however, P3 was better than P2. However, what has taken me is the constant theme of war in movies right now, the trailers are full of battles, the ad's were of real war and new releases will focus on war.

His Dark Materials, will launch in December, with The Northlights for us UK readers, The golden compass or something like that for the US. Why the name change, will lords of the rings, ring gold, gold compass. Some producers behind both films. Looks like they are making a good adaptation of the book.

War theme, I have also been reading more history than usual. War is a constant happen there too. Are we bound to follow this trend. Inevitable?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

healthcamp TV live

I will try streaming live video from healthcamp2 Saturday 26 May, 10.30am US Pacific Time Zone.

Friday, May 25, 2007

healthcamp2 tomorrow

healthcamp2 is tomorrow in Palo Alto, all info. is on the wiki.

For those that can not attend, I am going to experiment with the websites that allow you to stream video live. If I get it working I will post the link on the wiki.

Looking forward to meeting all you health2.0'ers tomorrow

Sunday, May 20, 2007

3 months to 3 weeks

Three months is such a short period of time. And as soon as I step foot in Silicon Valley it is like weeks turn into days. There is always an air of new-ness around. New ideas, technology, observations, debates etc. etc.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

open spaces identity workshop

I am big fan of unconference's, they use open space techniques to allow participants to share and learn in an open way.

Of all the unconferences I have attended, this one's use of open space has been the best. I am learning a lot.

identity workshop

Empowering individuals with their identity.

Using open space to explore Internet Identity.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

judgement - information

I listened to a story of great depth last week, told by Carly Fiorina. She talked about the need for diversity in your team and how information overload, how to deal with vasts amount of information was one of the top 3 skills to have (probably no.1).

I think, those two combine to set up a great metaphor for the use of the Internet. We have choice. We can choose where to search, we bias what we are looking for by what we type in. The search engines are not reading our minds (they are starting to try). So, we have access to all this information, make sure you get diversity of content and remember, all possible interpretation of information will be presented. Judgement is require, our judgement, don't assume all the judgements taken to retrieve your information align with you. Hone your judgement skills and you will get more out of the world of information on the Internet each and every day.

weThink open spaces

What happens when you open source a conference?, you get an un-conference. I first participated in these last year and found them the most valuable of all the experience and learning I gained. This hold true this year and such is the power of the format it holds the opportunity each and every time to deliver that experience.

Open space techniques are used at un-conferences to help people meet the right people at the right time in the right context. Or the complete opposite, if that is what is required to gain the knowledge to empower our paths forward.

A simple concept at heart. No rules, no cost to participation. I would guess that if such experiences are not in your life right now, they will be real soon, whether that be a rest, work or play.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

4 tokens plus 2 plus 1 eventually seven in total entered the speedgeeking yesterday and picked up 7 tokens in the end.

More importantly we were asked great questions and we thank you all for the feedback and support.

Monday, May 07, 2007


The third section on is called iThink. This section aggregates my latest blog postings. I decided to have more than one blog as I find it more helpful to separate my thoughts that way. And that gets me thinking. The content of the postings are not always thoughts. They are stories on what I am up to, review of past events I have attended, looking forward to future events or talking about a vision. I use picture, video and text and diagrams and not to forget hyperlinks.

At their heart they are all authored by me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ribbons Pacific Masters

Sunday brought more ribbons to MVM. I swam the 100 freestyle, going under the 1 minute barrier by 0.49 of a second. 200IM was all about technique with a bit more speed in the breast stroke and freestyle legs, 2.34. Lastly, and like the first race back to breast stroke 100 yards, 1.16.

In all that was my favourite race of the day the mens 200 freestyle relay, I took the third leg and we were placed in the top 8.

It was a fun weekend being part of the Mountain View Masters Swim team.

Image004, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A third and forth place first day Pacific Masters

Image015, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Swam, 200 breast stroke for the third placing
50fly for the fourth
100IM 12th

And one relay for MVM where we were 11th but this is where I had my swim of the day 27.50 for 50 fly. I was flying!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Scotland2.0 Demo Opportunity

Here is an opportunity/offer to all those back in Scotland2.0, especially those that attended barcampScotland in March. StartupCamp2 is just about upon us in May. I will be attending and the event follows the un-conference format of event so I propose to host a session on Scotland2.0. I will present demo's from startups in Scotland with you guys/girls on skype for Q&A. That is where you come in. These will be your demo's so get in touch via the comments section in this posting or my contact info at Give your startup the opportunity to be exposed to the brightest minds in Silicon Valley.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

web2.0expoOpen thoughts

To start, thank you to all those that put the effort in to make web2.0expoOpen happen. For all those that gathered for health2.0 session, cheers for participating. A great event, my video review before, maybe I should wait for longer after I go swimming, check out the google eye ring marks!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Scottish Champs - Pacific Champs next weekend

The Scottish Master Swimming Championships are next weekend. Good luck to SilverCityBlues Masters Swim Club. I am competing to next weekend for Mountain View Masters Swim Club at the Pacific Masters Short Course Championships. I expect it is no coincidence that they are both on the same weekend?

Thursday, April 12, 2007


For me health is the new money. The grass roots of a health centred economy are sought to gather again for healthcamp2. The wiki is up and the ideas are being expressed. Are you ready to participate?

Commitment 07

Each year, (which starts in August each year for me) I set a 'me' mantra for the year ahead. Top of the list for '06 was the word Courage, be bold, make a bold move, make the vision even purer and this years top mantra word also begins with the letter C, C for Commitment. With courage demonstrated you need the commitment to realize your vision and dreams. Commitment is more about persistence and determination, than one off bold moves to create opportunity. Commitment is a span of time that lasts a life time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

back no1. on google for .. . . .

A bit of an ego trip, but I noticed the other day again that if you type the words James Littlejohn into the google search engine, that comes up as the no.1 result. It's not been that for at least a year. Trip over.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Debut on Second Life, aboynejames Shepherd


I made my first appearance on Second Life today. You get this pretty stereo type character. I'll need to invest some Linden Dollars on a hair cut!

aboynejamesshepherd, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Monday, April 02, 2007

too far behind too far ahead

I upgraded to Windows VISTA Business last week. A 7 year fast forward from Windows 2000. Windows2000 is being phased out as new services don't work with it or are not supported anymore. However, I am now received a message from a website that I can not use their latest player as they do not support Vista.

Over all, VISTA business is OK. Nothing wow about it. It works, still crashes on hibernate too much for my liking. The biggest difference is the new screen on the Vaio. I am not sure the new screen has anything to do with Microsoft except the new icons are 3D'ish.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Climate Management - not climate change

I have been going to publish this blog posting topic for a while now, over a year or more. I am still not that sure the best to present the view I hold, that what we are doing/seeing from a human reaction to climate uncertainties is that it is not so much reacting to climate change but the human species is at the start of creating actions that will allow us to manage the climate. It is a control issue, first and foremost. The question I ask is should be controlling the climate?

I will have more to say on the role politics, government and states role is playing in this. But for now, I put out the concept, we are at the start of climate management, not responding to climate change.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Perfect Timing, right next door to failure

One of those thoughts/observations that I have been thinking about: how perfect timing is right next door to failure. You turn up at a bus stop a second before the bus arrives, excellent. A second late, your late, their is no possibility of getting on the bus. OK, you can be two-200 seconds early but there comes a point of the opportunity time cost that out weighs the benefits. Anyway, it could be -30c at the bus stop, that may kill you.

Today, I am waitng for my new laptop. A day too late, but my timing was almost perfect, the old one just gave out yesterday. One day out still brings pain, the need to wait in to sign for the new one and not having access to my local email history etc. All files are backed up on the web so I will download them to the new machine. In fact, most of my files are online now so all I needed was to ask a friend for access to their PC, which I was grateful for the use of today.

Startups and perfect timing. I think all entrepreneurs would take perfect timing over all other variables e.g. skill, intellect, money, people. Being at the right place at the right time wins out, history would show. While missing a bus is a big pain but being early is just a wait, being early in a startup market is/can be painful ie. the costs in terms of time, money or frustration on the response of others can accumulate to a point where failure is reached. However, true grit, determination and persistance can win out as you expand the odds of perfect timing heading your way.

looking for gas

Walking home on Saturday evening, near 11pm I saw a tall dark, leather clad biker trying to hail down some passing cars. He caught sight of me and shouts, do you know where the nearest gas station is? He runs across the street to talk to me. He pointed to his Bike which had run out fuel and he explained he just came of Highway 237. I knew where the gas (filling station) was and it was on route to my apartment. So, we shared conversation along the way. He started to explain that no one would stop their cars to help. He thought his large, drak presense was the reason. Not that my mind hadn't processed the situation in that manner too but I listened. Turns out he was a country guy at heart to and he was grateful to find the fuel station.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Supper Happy Developers House 16 right now

My first trip north on CalTrain to Burlingham. First part of making it to Super Happy Developers House in the high hills of Hillsborough. Need to pick up supplies, food for the BBQ and a drink to share. Call the taxi as it is a long walk up hill. I am here.

Met a few familiar faces and the geek chat is in full flow.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lost on Light Rail

I was two stop along on the light rail service heading towards Yahoo! offices when a person on the platform popped their head in to say that the elderly lady he was with was lost. He was not getting on the train so asked if anyone could comfort and help the lady. He thought she needed to get to a station called Tasmin. I was at the other end of the carriage but no one else seemed to be listening so I nodded my head and the elderly lady came and sat across from me. I restated the she was looking for Tamsin station? She replied in what I assumed was one of the Chinese languages. So, I went and pointed to the map? But her main priority was looking out of the window trying to recognise a familiar landmark or building. She was clearly upset and she took out a religious/lucky charm type objective which we said a prayer too. It is frustrating when you want to help more but you can not communicate via speaking.

I also knew that I was getting off in the train on a couple of stops, many before the Tasmin station so I was thinking about what I could do before leaving. Luckily, the stop before I left a new passenger got on the train so I went up to them to explain the situation and ask if they could point out when the train arrived a Tasmin station. They were happy to help. And as I left the train, I heard the lady talking to the passenger. I had the feeling she would find her way. I hope I was right.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Common Sense - the wisdom of the crowd

I wrote a posting on the Scottish enlightenment at the end of last year. One of the three central characters in the movement was Thomas Reid, of The University of Aberdeen. He brought to the philosophy table, COMMON SENSE.

One of the main themes, (meme's I think they call them around here, silicon valley) is the WISDOM OF THE CROWD, some comment that all start ups have a play on this concept. In my view, if they are not then trouble could be coming ahead for their ventures.

But what I had not really connected in my thinking was that COMMON SENSE and the WISDOM OF THE CROWD are from the same school of thought. So, if we are looking for or indeed need a 12 centuary set of intellectual conepts of thinking to give a frame work for the evolution of society then, the Wisdom of the Crowd is the new application of common sense that will take us forward.

Peeled tatties whilte, yellow, purple

My first go at purple tatties (potatoes). Guess what, taste like potato!

EU panel Silicon Valley

EU panel Silicon Valley, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

My first networking event last week was hosted by the American German Startup Association, or something like that.

Just like one of my first events of last year, one of the panel set out the fact that the big silicon valley ideas and success come from a mix of outsiders and locals. No words could inspire more.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Accents Top to bottom of UK .... then in California

I was reflecting on the journey I have made over the last two weeks and how the people accents changed as I went. On the business, I spoke to an national of India now living in Aberdeen, Edinburgh accents while dashing to the train. Newcastle, Yi dominant in the air, York, more polite then the London pull starts to kick in a commuter around Peterbrough join the train. London under ground, just choose any language of the world. Southampton the lighter tone accents, same for the Isle of Wight. Silicon Valley, like back being on the London underground. A real treat to listen to so many native tongues.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

welcome back to MV

The entrepreneurial journey continues.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Heading West

I start the journey West tomorrow via the deep south of UKland. See you on route or in the bay.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Upper Deeside Covered in Snow

I took this video on route to BarCampScotland, in Edinburgh.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

BarCampScotland open to share & learn

BarCampScotland was a great success.

The School of Informatics at The University of Edinburgh were our hosts and the venue provided lots of space, open areas, lecture rooms and smaller rooms. And people turned up in great numbers. I took a spell at the registration table and they all took to the idea of writing three tag words to their name badge. Those wanting to present soon added their name to the open grids.

A plug for Edinburgh Uni. was presented then we all got a chance to introduce ourself in a round of speed introductions. Then the event got off and running.

All, in all the day was over before I realized. Felt like we had just begun. Well done to all those that participated and the co-planners that made it happen. I plan to post some video and photos are on flickr.

Here to the next one.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Spring is in the air

Well, it is on as it goes green for the arrival of spring.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I got the ducks quacking on my walk around Birsemore Loch.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

School View, Aboyne

All of us lucky enough to attend Aboyne Primary School and Aboyne Adademy have a great view to inspire us. You can never get bored of seeing this view every day on the walk home.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Free skiing mid Deeside review

I took a couple of hours out this afternoon to head to the hills around Mid Deeside to see where all the snow had been blown too. North facing slopes, the snow came in on a southerly gale, which stripped all the snow from all other aspects of the hill and dumped them all in the same place, best cover above 2000ft about 600m. Short video review

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Glen Tanner Snowy Hills

Glen Tanner Snowy Hills, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Winter is still hanging in there in and around Glen Tanner. Will it survive the mild days before the snow falls again?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

SCB Gala 2007 What a splash

50m and 100m backcrawl events was where I picked up a couple of surprise bronze medals yesterday at the 2007 SilverCityBlues Masters Swim Club annual swimming gala. To the best of my memory, 20 years have passed since I entered a 100m backcrawl event. Yes, backcrawl is my least favourite of all the strokes. Breast stroke on the other hand is my favourite. (It's funny to note from my observations that breaststrokers are not big backcrawl fans). The 100m breast stroke was my second event, the first was the 50 metre's backcrawl and I was still recovering from that mad opening sprint when it was time to step on the blocks for the start of the race. Eighteen months had passed since I last swam competitively so it was a bit of a shock to the system the intense exertion of energy.

The starter blows on a whistle to get you on to the blocks then they will say, 'take your marks' and then it's a case of listening for the beep from the gun. my toes tucked around the front of the starting block, I tensed up in readiness for the beep. But this had also put a slight wobble on my balance. A wobble that grew with each passing milli-second but the beep, still did not come. I am off, splash.

But the beep had not been fired. A false start. I am not sure I have ever recorded a competitive false start ever in my life. I sat at the side of the pool, head shaking while the start procedure was restarted for the rest of the swimmers. Today, swimming rules are strict, one false start and you are out. As a child swimmer, you were allowed one false start. For some reason there were quite a few false starts yesterday.

Over my next 5 races of the afternoon I am pleased to report that I did make it to the finish. My times are listed below, but the 100IM (individual medley) was my best performance of the day, apart from a reasonable time, I also felt a good controlled swim. Overall, I was down (meaning more, worse) on my best times, 1 to 3 seconds on the sprints and 3-6 seconds down over the hundreds and over 200m freestyle I was 11 seconds down. My main goal was to get the times recorded and put on the board, I didn't train that well or at all for long periods of time in 2006 and colds over Christmas also dent times. Overall, I am encouraged, motived to train and to get those times heading south again. Thank you to all the SCB officials and volunteers that made the event and buffet a success.

Times to be confirmed.
50m backcrawl 36.75 seconds
100m breaststroke Disqualifed
100m IM 1.18.23
50m Butterfly 34.35 seconds
200m Freestyle 2.36.15
100m backcrawl 1.24.17
50m breaststroke 39.45 seconds

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fiddle Concert Banchory

Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society are hosting a concert on the evening of Thursday 15 February, East Church, Banchory is the venue. Beside both the Junior and Senior Orchestra's, Paul Anderson will perform a couple of solos. Should be great evening of foot tapp'n tunes, song and humour.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Reel Fling on the ... ..

A Reel Fling on the Road to Crathes Castle, the new CD from Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society. Recorded last year while I was in the USA. A stirring sound and the CD also includes solo's from Paul Anderson. Available to buy from the Society.

Image001, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

melting week

After a week of winter last week, this week is best described as the week of the melt. I thought this picture, summed things up.

This painting was part of Howard Butterworth's successful River Dee exhibition.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Still Waters Run Deep

River Dee on a still winters day, crystal clear waters with a touch of emerald glow.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Haggis, Neeps & Tatties

Image016, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

25th of January, Burn's Night. Mum delivers a hearty meal of haggis, neeps and tatties.

Monday, January 22, 2007 me aggregation

The home page of was updated a few weeks ago. I have not been able complete the objective of the page quite yet as coding is not what I do. What was the objective? To aggregate me.

I think is would be fair to say, I create aboynejames, for me first. I use it every day to make my online experience the best and most efficient. The links to the website I visit every day, with the hardware I use, acting like single sign on, why, the identity industry can not do that for me right now is beyond me. I know the reason why, they are working on empowering websites, not individuals with that empowerment.

ithink, the words I introduced the last paragraph is a new section I have introduced. The big idea for is to aggregate my blog feeds and other media assets, photos so that all the recent changes found in my whole online life are reflected on this page. was my hope for outsourcing this too but I now understand what they are up too. It's not what I thought originally but it still needs to be created, the ability to create your own decentralised social community. However, I want to aggregate that community with all the others I belong too, online and off. Only, me can do that. What the Internet community can do is help me find the parts I need to make it all happen.

As present, each social community has its own help and tools for collecting feedback etc. So, I as an individual, I need to learn all those methods, plus I may not be even using their website when I think of the feedback. me aggregation will expand to provide give me with the empowerment to create that world. I won't write the code, but I will find it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mike, Web2.0'er Edinburgh

Mike, Web2.0 er Edinburgh, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

I was lucky to be told about the first ever Design/Web2.0 breakfast in Edinburgh on Thursday morning. Mike was the founder of the idea and his enthuiasm for all things web2.0 was heartening to see. It is going to be a weekly event so keep tabs on the wiki.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Explaining a pyramid to your doctor

We all visit the doctor from time to time and sometimes explaining what caused our pain is amusing...... read more here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Athens of the North

I am in Edinburgh, capital of Scotland this week. I lived here for 4 years during a startup venture a while back. I don't make that many trips to Edinburgh, mainly to see family these days but this week I enjoyed looking at the architecture of the City with new thoughts. The book I read last year 'how the Scots invented the modern world', shed new light on how the city evolved. So, it has been fun visualising the city from the words in the book with my real time view.

One of the central themes in the book with the historical Union of Scotland with England. And by pure coincidence the 300th year anniversary was this week. Just a coincidence?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

barcampScotland, calling Scotland web2.0

I noticed a couple of Scottish web2.0 champions and bloggers had set up the wiki pages for BarCampScotland in 2006. We are now in 2007 so lets get BarCampScotland on the map. Simply add your name to the wiki and the rest will happen from there.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Dazzer's Dinner

Dazzer Dinner, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

A top notch dinner from a top notch friend. The dining table was banquet- esk with crystal glasses and red claret dressing the surface. The creamiest lasagna I have tasted in ages and not a drop of cheese in sight. Cheers mate.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Good temperatures, not

Same information, different opinion. For example, the weather presenter said with much enthusiasm yesterday that the temperatures would be 'much better' today, meaning higher. I was the only one in the room that took issue with the statement. How would mild temperatures be much better when it's off to melt all the limited snow cover in the Highland of Scotland? Of course the weather forecast I watched was on the TV, broadcasting the message to all. I find it increasingly difficult to watch any sort of TV. The message is average, not timely, I have no control over the content, no feedback mechanism, the one benefit it still remains is the time to switch it on.