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Help Test a New Wireless Application!


My name is Sam Kinsley and I am a student at the University of Plymouth. I have developed an application to be used on wi-fi enabled computers that promotes social networking.

I would really like to test this application with a group of willing volunteers. I am being assessed in three weeks time and really need to do this some time this week or next week. Please help!

Some background:

"The ‘killer-apps’ of tomorrows mobile infocom industry won’t be hardware devices or software programs but social practices."
(H. Rheingold, Smart Mobs)

TalkingPoint is a small application that runs in the background on laptops that searches for other users running the application. Once found the application gauges whether or not the owner of the other device is of interest to the owner of its own device, using keywords and arbitrary profiles. Participation would be entirely voluntary and require the user to deliberately set such software ‘active’.

I hope TalkingPoint will allow me to explore the new ‘social practices’ that Howard Rheingold talks about it Smart Mobs.

I have a website at:

The application website is here:

I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me, ideally I would like a group of users to experiment with the application on evening this week, or early next week.

Many thanks

Sam Kinsley

Seeing through buildings


I’m located in Oxford. I’m not aware of any local plans to create a wireless community, as such, but Oxford Indymedia are looking at using wireless for at least two different point-to-point applications.

So here’s a question: is it possible to get a one-hop wireless link working over a distance of about 1Km, on the flat, in a built-up area?

I’ve read a fair bit about antenna gain, and a fair bit about theoretical range (e.g. in the Boondocks in USA), but very little about what you can expect to achieve when there are houses in the way – and all of that was negative.


Website information architecture suggestions

Further to a sit down with Rich on Friday 16/04, here are some structural suggestions for the BW website. I am aware that this was discussed a while back, and have tried to take on some of those issues; this is intended as a minimal friction re-vamp rather than a mighty site build from the bottom up… and nothing is set in stone obviously.

It aims to sit within Hamish’s mission picture ( while practically meeting the possible requirements of all sorts of site visitors…

Sorry that other Ed could not make it, and hope you all like it enough to consider it as a practical braindump perhaps leading to a happy www rejig.

The point of it is to rationalise the site Information Architecture without disturbing the standing www pages (altho’ I don’t know about the second level nav), in order to make it clear to visitors what sort of stuff they will get where in the site… Here goes.

**************************************** website suggestions 19/04/04

Maintain current accessibility standards as seen at
Structure website content clearly and relevantly for all visitors
Simplify the layout:
1. Remove ‘Gallery’ and other Right Hand side bits (integrated elsewhere)
2. Tidy up Left hand side, leaving navigation, search and links
Create a strong ‘call to action’ and sense of inclusion for visitors, and good links from BBS

Proposed user groups:
These are non-specific groups based on people’s potential interest in the site rather than their ethnicity, age etc. (ie this is not a heavyweight usability analysis. I gather that the BW site has reached a satisfactory medium of desirable usability and actual do-ability).

Establishing these will give a basic outline
of *who* may use the site, which we can then further break down into *how*. This is not suggesting a site designed around specific user types – that might lead to a heavy re-build (?).

1. Totally technical types looking for totally technical information and discussion
2. Keen punters and interested parties, (potential) volunteers for all angles of BW
3. Totally non-technical punters wondering what it is all about and what for
4. Journalists
5. Sponsors
6. Easton Locals

Proposed content areas:
These are based on the information categories which BW offers online, and users’ likely activity requirements. This is not splitting the site into ‘who are you’ fragments at the top level, but placing the different information for different users within specific content categories. This is based on the theory that whoever they are, the visitors will have one of
the following information needs, which they will be looking for in clear categories.

The section headings might be links to those sections. The article titles might be links only. Can it be possible to create indented section menus when the visitors are in that section, or does it have to remain in the blogging structure? If it remains in the blogging structure, would it be good to have a set of anchor links at the top to lead the less-experienced
visitors to articles some way down the page? Obviously, the titles are suggestions rather than definitives!

1. ::Read up section::
History of BW, The CLAN
History of wireless networking and computer recycling
Overview of wireless applications
Heavyweight technical documentation
Training and give-away days
An lightweight article about what happens when you put up a node
etc… etc… etc..

2. ::News section:: (or this might be simply the home page, blog-style?)
Regularly updated RSS feed from BBS

3. ::Get involved section::
Join mailing list
Come t
o meetings
Register your interest for training/give-aways
Sign up to IRC
Add BW RSS feed
Send an email to the list
Submit a link

4. ::Press Releases section::
Press Releases
Business Cards

5. ::Interactive Easton secton::
Links to local stuff
Submit a link

6. ::Links list::
This is to appear on every page below the content lists and navigation above

Other bits of navigation:
As well as navigating to the content and discussion stuff, visitors will also want some more

functional navigation as per normal website stuff. Could this fit in the banner?

1. ::Contact page::
Phone numbers
Email addresses
Chelsea directions πŸ˜‰

2. ::Site Map::
Erm, site map, really.

3. ::Sponsor list:: (As a footer to every page?)
IOP, Greater Bristol Foundation, PCT Health Service, Christian Haystack etc..

So there you have it. All constructive debate is encouraged and all that. I’m off to France now, so will look forward to catching up on this posting in a few days… In the meantime, I will leave it up to Rich and Sean to moderate πŸ™‚

BWFest/Content Development 26th April

Meeting 6.30 pm Chelsea


Printing etc:
Event Flyer/Poster/T-shirt/Stencil
Info Factsheets/Questionnaire



(Meeting 10/11th May)
Technical Set-up/Print Proofing

Print Runs


(Meeting 24th/25th May)
Event Co-ordination
* Installations
* ECA layout
* Other Venues
* Catering
* Decor
* Documenting
* Roles
* Helpers

NotCon04 6th June

* NOTCON ’04 Call for Participation – Please Redistribute Freely *

NotCon ’04, Sunday 6th June 2004, Imperial College Union, London

Proposals due by: Friday 14th May 2004

Have you coded, created, or discovered an interesting application of technology?
Then why not come and talk about it at NOTCON ’04?

NOTCON ’04 is an informal, low-cost, one-day conference looking at things that technologies were perhaps not intended to do.

It takes place on Sunday 6th June 2004 from 11am to 6pm at Imperial College Union, London (in South Kensington, next to the Science Museum and the Royal Albert Hall). And yes, there will be wi-fi. And a bar. And the kind of people who actually ask for them in that order.

* What We’re Looking For *

We’re looking for a mix of talks, demonstrations and panel discussions covering all the usual areas – but with a bit more of an edge than you’d get from just reading about them online.
In short, we’d like proposals for any of these sorts of sessions – especially if they fit into the following categories:
Geolocation services
Social software
Hardware hacking
Actual impacts of blogging
Alternative media
Politics on the net
Politics *of* the net

– and also especially if they don’t.

There’ll be the usual 45-minute (and questions) slots for longer talks, plus plenty of shorter 5-minute "lightning presentations", so you don’t need to write a complete lecture or anything.

Proposals should be submitted via the web form at:

And if you try to get them to us before midnight UK time on Friday 14th May 2004, then we can work out – and let you know – the line-up before the end of May.

* Staying In Touch *

Even if you don’t want to suggest a talk, you can stay informed about the event by subscribing to our low-traffic announcement-only mailing list – send a blank email to: (your address will only be used to contact you about the event and will not be passed onto third parties).

* Further Info *

NOTCON ’04 is organised by some of the people behind UK tech newsletter NTK, socially-minded net charity, unofficial "Emerging Technology" recap ConCon UK, and 2002’s "Extreme Computing" show – but please feel free to help out!

We’ll be attempting to answer any other questions that arise on the event Wiki: – or you can email

if it’s not covered already. NotCon ’04, Sunday 6th June 2004, Imperial College Union, London See you there!

Course Delay + New Flyer

Due to problems with the wrong booking telephone number being handed out, we have delayed the start of the course to Thursday 22nd April.

You can download a flyer for the course here –

Please print out some copies and distribute if you can.

Because of the delay the tutors and administrators have agreed that this will be the course from which the computers are distributed on June 5th at the "Demo Day"

Name for Demo day

It would be really useful to have an agreed title for the Demo day on June 5th so we can get on with the promotion of the event, something like

Bristol Wireless Community Network Media Content Demonstration Festival

although that’s a bit of a mouthful.

Any other suggestions and we could put up a poll in this thread and see what online democracy works like. πŸ™‚

The Bristol and Area Co-operative Roundtable

The Bristol and Area Co-operative Roundtable
Saturday 27thMArch 2004, 3-6pm
@the Cube Microplex, Dove Street, Bristol BS2 8JB

Final program and content


3.00 – 3.30 pm – PRESENTATION: by Bryan Titley (Avon CDA)

3.30 – 4.30 pm – GROUP DISCUSSIONS
1 – SOURCE OF FINANCE FOR CO-OPS + possibility of purchasing a building for small co-ops aiming to host co-ops’ offices, businesses or workshops. Suitable for both workers and housing co-ops.
Facilitator / speaker: Tim Blanc (Co-oportunity Ltd)

Facilitator / speaker: Joanne Eillsley (Future West)
Info on free training provided by FW for environmental certificate, etc: OCR Certificates in Competence; NCFE Advanced Certificate for the Environmental Practitioner; Bespoke Course Introduction to Environmental Management or other; Environmental Seminars.

3 – NETWORK OF LOCAL CO-OPS: a discussion about its future and how to organise it.
Facilitator: Bryan Titley (Avon CDA)

4.30 – 5.30 pm – FORUM – feedback from groups
Facilitator: Bryan Titley (Avon CDA)

5.30 – 6.30 pm – Food and refreshments
Caterers: Kebele (with support from Essential and Leighwood Farm)


8.0 – late!! – computer terminals for web-radio and also a broadcast forum on ‘co-operatives’, music (bands and DJ’s).
Line-up: John E Vistic Experience (Memphis soul and Tennessee plus other Blackheart Studios artists
The Grumpy Men DJ’s.

New Training News

We’ve got dates for the next training course – this time we only have the opportunity to deliver the course in one slot running from Thursday April 8th for 4 weeks.

All bookings will be done through Music & Message via the ECC. We are arranging to have the computers refurbished and delivered by Don Jenkins and his BuildIT team at The Park in Knowle.

So all we need now is tutors (who will be paid at £15 ph, possibly sharing the classes) and a team of tutor support volunteers.

Plus we’ve got to advertise the course.

Pathways Work Placements

We’ve got the go-ahead with a few provisos to employ some people as work placements in partnership with Future West as part of the Pathways to Work project. We’ve had a meeting at the lab with Red and Jade West the 2 administrators of the scheme and they seem very keen to work with us. Before we can be fully accepted as partner we have to have some Employer’s Liability Insurance in place and a whole set of policies, which we are developing on the wiki.

Placements last up to 5 months.

As Future West’s website is so dreadful to navigate I’ve c&p’ed the relevant bits below –

Pathways to Work is a local employment initiative, managed by Bristol City Council. It offers an integrated package of provision to help those particularly disadvantaged in the labour market along the path towards sustainable employment. Click on the logo for more detailed information, including help with particular issues… Visit the Pathways site for more detailed information

It is a partnership of local delivery organisations, which between them offer people advice, guidance, mentoring, training,work experience and help into jobs.

Our clients are unemployed and excluded people aged 25 and over in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area, who are not eligible for New Deal. The programme is funded by the Employment Service and the European Social Fund. For more detailed information, visit the Pathways site

Future West provides quality work experience placements with employers in the public, private, community and NGO sectors. Placements are offered in many different work areas for a wide range of abilities. Individual placements are tailored to meet specific needs and interests.

A wide range of appropriate vocational training is available to support and customise work experience placements ranging from NVQs, Key Skills, First Aid and other courses leading to qualifications.

Job search
support is available on a one to one basis or in group sessions. There is an ongoing programme of activities addressing confidence building, making job applications and c.v. writing.

Future West aims to support individuals towards their employment goals and career aspirations by providing

  • Current, relevant work experience
  • Up to date references
  • Recognised vocational training qualifications
  • Job Matching Service and job search assistance

Future West works closely with local businesses and community enterprises to enhance business performance, support local regeneration and improve the quality of people’s lives.

Content For Demo Day

There was lots of great discussion, and even greater enthusiasm about content management for the event (scheduled for 5th June 2004). I’d like to add my simple (as always) solution to content management.

First of all, we need content, so I suggest we put out a plea for content, with a deadline of midnight 30th April. Content can be delivered by post (CD, hard copy, tape, etc.) or via electronic means (email, FTP, etc.). Content will then be organised into Audio, Video, Images, and Text (with images). I think it’s safe to say everything will fall into one of these categories.

So we have our content, but no way to present it. Next we need to make a decision on what content is appropriate (assuming we have too much to use for the day), and schedules for Audio and Video broadcasts. I suggest a meeting to view the material, and make decisions (in a dictatorship stylee πŸ˜‰ ). From this, we will have a schedule of broadcasts for the day, and a list of appropriate text/image content.

All that remains is to publish the content. I’d suggest a web site available only on the internal network ( for example) for indexing the content. This site would need to be created (we have lots of talented web developers and designers) with a gallery of images (, a link to each textual document converted to HTML, and a schedule for the audio and video channels with links.

To me, it seems this would cover everything, and is easily doable in the timescales provided with the (voluntary) workforce we have. Comments?

Easton residents network- project appraisal

From: Sam Rossiter <>

As some of you will be aware I writing an evaluation of the project that you are running with the Easton Residents Network (ERN).

My methodology for doing this has been one of action or participatory research; what this means is that I have come to the project with no pre-determined theory that I’m out to prove or disprove.

In this style of enquiry there is no real distinction between the researcher and the researched (subjects in conventional research speak). The idea is that we are all defined as participants, and that we all have equal footing in determining what questions will be asked, what information will be analysed, and how conclusions and courses of action will be determined. The thinking is that you will know more about the project and the constraints that you are operating under, and so will know what kind of questions it is useful to have asked and answered.

This quote kind of explains what I’m trying to do.

One of the central goals of qualitative evaluation is to provide detailed descriptions of programs through the eyes of stakeholders, along with the insights of the evaluator, the place of the evaluator is to integrate the views of many stakeholders providing
feedback on those views so that everyone understands the program better than before. (Posovac and Carey, 1989, p. 236)

So far what I have done is to go and speak to the people who are receiving the computers in the ERN project and tried to get their take on what they will actually use the computer for, what they feel about the ERN project, and what kind of training they might want.

It seemed that this was the most basic level at which to begin my enquiry.

Where I have found uncertainty or scepticism I have tried to enthuse people about the advantages of Linux and of the potential of the internet generally to provide information and communication possibilities and I hope that in so doing I have already made a small contribution to the project.

What I’ve found is that most of the computer recipients already have some considerable computer experience and that there is a certain amount of (understandable?) resistance to using a completely new operating system. Although it should be noted that these are generalisations and some people are open to the idea of Linux and some have little or no experience with computers.

I have noted that the computers in the three sheltered housing schemes (Greenhaven, Millhouse, and Baynton) have a potentially larger user base than the other computer locations. The benefits for the elderly residents are likely to be significant if they are able to make full use of the technology. Some possible uses that have been raised by the
wardens or myself include:

  • Researching genealogical information
  • Locating friends or relatives
  • Contacting friends and relatives who are geographically distant
  • Making cheap voice calls overseas (is this possible on the wireless network?)
  • Recording personal histories online
  • Contacting or making friends in other supported housing blocks
  • Ordering shopping online
  • Finding medical information
  • Finding information about council services
  • Contacting service providers

Once the Greenhaven node is in place, I propose to spend some time speaking to and coaching the residents there in order to find out what kind of questions they have, and what they find the most interesting applications are. Hopefully this will lead to the development of a programme that can be applied to other sheltered housing schemes, as they become part of the network.

I realise that it is no small task just to get the technical details of a project such as this resolved and equally that most of the time that is committed is on a volunteer basis. Neither do I underestimate how many hours have been committed to the project as a labour of love and I hope that my questioning is taken in the spirit that it is intended – to prompt friendly debate and useful analysis rather than as any implied criticism.

Questions that have occurred to me whilst talking to people or hanging around in the lab have included:

  • Are the three partners (Bristol Wireless/ ERN/ Linux IT) working well together?
  • How could the information sharing between them be improved?
  • Would a project e-mail list be useful?
  • Have ERN got clearly defined project aims?
  • Is Bristol Wireless in a position to try to clarify what it is trying to achieve?
  • Who is providing training and help for these new Linux users?
  • If training is not available can they use the more familiar windows operating system- or will this mean they are not allowed to use the wireless network?
  • Can they help each other, if just a few champions are trained?
  • Are there enough volunteer hours available to support the ten groups?
  • Or do funding sources need to be found for trainers?
  • Do you need to stimulate demand for internet connectivity?
  • Or just service a pre-existing demand?

If you feel you have answers to any, or all of these questions, then please let me know your thoughts. Equally if you can think of better questions that I could spend my time investigating, then please let me know.

Thanks Sam