MonthSeptember 2006

Journalist using Mac OSX? You want Voodoopad

Yeah, it’s true. If you have lots of articles on the go and you keep cutting stuff or want to refer to research materials or want to search what you’ve written.. you want Voodoopad (which comes in Lite – ie free – and Pro versions too).

Voodoopad is a sorta-wiki-like thing, but that doesn’t quite get the power of it, and it did take me a while to understand it myself.

Here’s what happens (or at least, what I do).
* Create a document.
* Create a page within the document. (Documents are like websites – they can have multiple interlinked pages.)
* Type your story. Too long? Create a link in your story (it’s a keyboard shortcut) and put the cuts in there.
* Got an interview? Create a page, type it up. Just leave it there. Or create another new page and start doing your work in it. You can have lots of tabs open so you can flick back and forth between the notes, transcripts and drafts.

Can’t remember who referred to Voodoopad? Do a search. This feature gets more powerful the larger you make your document. Though as Gus Mueller advised me, “back up repeatedly”.

Nice things about VP (as users call it):

  • you can export what you’re working on direct to Word, RTF or HTML, or just text
  • you can search across all the things you’ve written within a document. So you could write 50 articles, or type in 50 interviews from which you write 100 articles (efficiency!) and if you need to search it to find how often you’ve mentioned “antivirus”, you can, and you’ll get links
  • you can embed PDFs and Word documents (and pretty much any sort of text) in a document, and it becomes searchable via the search tool *or* Spotlight.

All in all, it’s very nifty, and highly recommended.

And don’t forget to hand in your pass at the door, Mr Quark: Gdn Tech finally goes to InDesign

Just over two years ago I was sitting at Apple’s bash to show a satellite feed of the WWDC event, where Steve Jobs was going to show off ..I think it must have been Panther (10.3) when Pascal “Jimmy” Cagni, Apple’s head of Europe, got up in front of the assembled throng to say that he had a very special announcement: that The Guardian was moving to OSX and Adobe InDesign “next year”.

As is so common in the hypercompetitive world of journalism, because I was at that time at The Independent, and Neil McIntosh was blogging it directly for The Guardian, we were sitting beside each other so that we could confer on Just What These Announcements Meant, and make sure we didn’t miss anything. I turned to him and said “Eh?”

He looked up, startled. “News to me,” he mumbled, or some such.

Well, times came and times went and Apple did one revision of its OS and then another, and The Guardian was still on OS8 (yes, the venerable 8.1 – not even 8.6) and the pages were all being laid out using Quark Xpress and Quark Copydesk.

And as I write, the Technology section is still being designed on Xpress and subbed on Copydesk. But after tonight, no more.

No! From next week (well, from Wednesday, but the issue will have gone to press by then) we’ll have spanking new-ish iMac G5s running OSX and we will, truly, be doing stuff on Adobe InDesign and InCopy.

All I can say is, thank God and it’s about time. When did OS8 come out? 1997? And Xpress might have been good in its day – ditto for CopyDesk – but compared to what you can do even with InCopy, it’s old news. InCopy is a real grownup program which can do shocking things like read in a document directly from Microsoft Word rather than necessitating opening it in Word, select all, copy all, over to CopyDesk (and no Cmd-Tab – you have to go to the Menu and find the program you want with the mouse), make new document, paste. I expect to save minutes per day on that alone. Plus it has all sorts of visual systems to show how you’re progressing overall… listen, the quality of what we write might not change visibly, but our experience is going to be enormously better.

So why the delay? Well, these things never happen in a hurry (they have to be tested to destruction, or slightly further) and then there was all the debate over whether to stay broadsheet, go tabloid, or move to a different newspaper size, which meant that the whole InDesign idea got pushed onto the back burner.

But now it’s here, and ghostly white machines are appearing around the place as the new Macs spread through this floor. (The Observer is already totally InDesign/InCopy.) And it means that we can now check sites like YouTube when they’re mentioned in copy. (Well, I’ve been able to since I started, because I hook my OSX laptop up to the system – shh!). Though I’m not sure if giving people access to YouTube really counts as a positive…

Two ears better than one, especially for cochlear implant makers

This is like those column-closers that one would see from time to time in the New Yorker. They are little inserts at the end of a column at the end of a piece, headlined for example “Journalism Finally Comes Of Age”, and would have a clip from a very very very local paper, saying something like

The council then discussed the possibility of building a new levee. I didn’t really follow what happened and until I do, I don’t think I had better write anything about it

(That’s pretty much a word-for-word as I remember that particular one.)

So anyway, today in the Aussie papers, propagated via Yahoo:

Only about 10 per cent of Cochlear Ltd’s units sold in the United States are for bilateral implants, but the hearing implant maker says it is an emerging trend that has the potential to double its market

I couldn’t resist a smile on reading that.

But then read the story:

“The stars are aligning quite favourably for bilateral implantation but most importantly the results that people are getting have been fantastic,” Dr [Chris] Roberts [chief executive of the Cochlear company] said.

Hmm, astrological market prediction – a previously untapped source.

If you don’t know antitrust law, why write a long article suggesting Apple has broken it?

Over at the ZDNet blogs, David Berlind has written a long article about how Apple has – get this – something approaching a monopoly in music downloads (gasp!) and that even so the US is telling other countries not to treat it as an issue meriting antitrust treatment.

Quoth Berlind:

For the Feds to bust up a monopoly, they must first prove it exists and proving it exists starts with (1) defining a market and (2) demonstrating how one company dominates that market. When US Department of Justice first started going after Microsoft for being a monopolist, it defined the market Microsoft was dominating as “Intel-based desktop operating systems.”

And he’s surprised. And Paul Thurrott, whose rehabilitation had been going so well, chimes in:

If Microsoft[‘s antitrust trial experience] can serve as a lesson, and they should, Apple should be stopped before the abuses get too great and harm too many consumers.

I’m surprised either is surprised. In case they hadn’t been watching or listening through the Microsoft antitrust trials, and the 1995 DoJ settlement that preceded it (and whose violation led to the big antitrust bustup), it is not illegal in the US to have a monopoly of a market. Got that? Absolutely nothing wrong with having 80%, 90%, 100% of any given market. No sir. That’s the American way.

What is illegal, and led to the late-90s trial, is to use a monopoly in one market to push out rivals in another. Such as having a monopoly of desktop operating systems, and using it to push out people in, oh, say, browsers. That’s what Microsoft was found guilty of having done.

Now, Apple has a lock on the music downloads market. Riiight… and where is it using that to push into other areas? Digital music players, you say? But it dominated that before the iTunes Music Store came along. And there’s a format which all music players can play – MP3 – and you can buy CDs which you can rip into that format. Apple isn’t getting into, say, the CD business (if it were to change the format on CDs from AIFF to AAC wrapped in its Fairplay DRM, now that would be an antitrust issue).

In all: this is not an issue, because it’s not an abuse of monopoly, which is what you need to get an antitrust case going in the US. Berlind and Thurrott have, strangely, revealed themselves as having taken no notice of the whole background to the US case. (See the Wikipedia entry on the Sherman Antitrust Act, which is the relevant one here.)

OK, other territories look at these things differently; France and Sweden are thinking about whether DRM is good or bad (not very clearly). But honestly..

Another Berlind quote, just to show that he’s not with the legal program:

When I first saw the DOJ come up with that definition, that I realized how a clever lawyer can make any company seem like a monopolist. All you have to do is define a market in such a way that the company you’re chasing after conveniently dominates it.

Yes, but that’s not illegal.

Looking back on Microsoft’s history of entanglement with US trustbusters, I still think it was right of the government to interfere.

Yes, because Microsoft used one monopoly to get another.
And why didn’t I put this at the end of the article? Because you have to do that stupid registration crap, which is just a method of grabbing all your details so they can email you junk forever. No thanks, even if I could be bothered to do it to point out the errors of people who don’t know their stuff. (Thurrott just doesn’t have comments nor trackbacks on his blog, which lends it a certain pre-Reformation feel.)

Of connexin, spear-carriers and what the doctors found in our DNA

This time a year ago, we had just begun to descend into the hell that is fitting a profoundly deaf infant with hearing aids. This entailed fortnightly visits to the hospital to get ear moulds made – which then always turned out to be an insufficiently good fit, for two reasons: first, he was growing fast (as they do at that age), and second the amplification necessary to stimulate his benighted cochlea was so great that it inevitably led to the whistle of feedback as reflected, amplified sound escaped from the poorly-fitting ear moulds. Plus he didn’t find them that great, and would from time to time reach up and calmly take them off and hand them to whichever parents was about, with a half-apologetic look on face; the other half of the expression seemed like mild surprise that we thought these things worth bothering with.

That’s behind us now. But the other day we had one of the last stings in the tail of this strange 18 months: the genetics appointment.

We knew – well, everyone told us, and everything confirmed it – that child3’s deafness must be due to (deep breath) autosomal recessive genes, because there are no records of hearing problems going back generations in either family; certainly nobody deaf. Which implied that child3 just got unlucky. The genes did their dance, he got the ones which stepped on each others’ feet.

But precisely which genes? Apparently it takes more than six months for the NHS to do a bit of gene sequencing. But now we had been called to the gene counsellor. We were tense.

“Well, I can tell you today,” she said, “that…”

Don’t be Usher’s, we both thought. Just not Usher’s. In case you’re new to this one, Usher’s syndrome is the real rollercoaster version: you’re born deaf, and then in your teens you go blind. Well, in one version you do. There are three different ones, some of which start with just mild hearing loss. But you always move on to the double whammy to some extent.

“…we’ve identified it as connexin-26.”

Whew. That’s a load off. Connexin-26 – you probably won’t have met – is a gene defect which codes for proteins that are ever so subtly the wrong shape, which means that when the hair cells in the cochlea move and trigger the auditory nerve, the potassium ions that need to squeeze out and past so that they can go round again, in the manner of spear-carriers in a low-budget play trooping circularly through the scenery to give the appearance of legions, can’t.

Properly, the defect is called DFNB1 (deafen-b-one), for which “No other associated medical findings are present.”

Affter punching a fist in the air – sure, he’s deaf, but that’s all, you see? – one’s left wondering about the strangeness of this. DFNB1 – and the particular flaw in his sequence (and thus in ours, his parents) is GJB2 (for gap junction beta 2 protein), which if I’m reading the page on geneclinics (pointed to above) correctly, is a point mutation – ie, one letter of DNA wrong.

(Though even then, you scroll down the frame for DFNB1-GJB2, and you find some quite scary stuff, such as

Hystrix-like ichthyosis-deafness (HID) syndrome, an autosomal-dominantly inherited keratinizing disorder characterized by sensorineural hearing loss and hyperkeratosis of the skin. Shortly after birth, erythroderma develops, with spiky and cobblestone-like hyperkeratosis of the entire skin surface appearing by one year of age.

Thankfully, we’re not anywhere near that. And you do have my sympathies if you are.

“We’re all a junkyard of genes,” the gene counsellor said (I think that’s a correct recollection). “But most mistakes don’t make a difference.”

It’s true. And it’s fortunate – if you like – that connexin only seems to be used in the inner ear (again, if I’m understanding the description in that fantastic frame on geneclinics; read it yourself by scrolling down to the heading of “Molecular genetics”, where it describes the spear-carrier stuff; the connexins make up the scenery, but in the mutated version they leave too large a hole and all the potassium – read, spear-carriers – can’t run around fast enough. Something like that.) If this were something where the protein were used more widely, then it could be calamitous.

Of course, that’s what happens with cystic fibrosis, which is a single mutation in – I think I’m recalling this right – the gene that makes the protein used in the system which helps calcium (or is it sodium?) ions cycle in the lungs. When that goes wrong, lots more goes wrong. (I’m not online right now, else I’d look it up.)

It’s still remarkable. But we’re out of the woods. I think the genetics counsellor – who was a genetics scientist – was quite relieved to be talking to people where she didn’t have to explain genes and DNA with pictures. Some parents, she said, refuse to accept the possibility that their own genes could have caused the problems; in one case, she could see that a child needed further investigation, based on likely genetic diagnosis, but the parents wouldn’t believe it could be true. What can you say? Some people don’t realise that it’s better to find out sooner; even if the eventual diagnosis means you’re going to say goodbye, it’ll mean you have longer to say it.

But as one door closes, another opens – not always with nice stuff behind it. The diagnosis that we’re both heterozygous carriers of DFNB1 means there’s a 2/3 chance for each child of also being a carrier. Apparently the prevalence of DFNB1 in the (UK) population is 1/50; meaning that for either child, their chance of having a deaf child is 1/75, rather higher than the population’s 1/2500. (Except that other sites put the prevalence at 14/100,000 – though I don’t see how that would lead to the incidence that one sees, where DFNB1 counts for half of sensorineural hearing loss, and 1/1000 children has such loss.)

Yeah, but maths aside, what do you tell them? More to the point, why would you tell them? If we’d been able to test in the womb, would we have aborted this child? Given the happiness he’s brought us, it’s a horrible thought. And since they’re grown up with him as a sibling, they’ll know that being deaf isn’t the end of the world; it’s the start of a different one. One with messed-up genes, sure, but we’ve all got those.

(Interested parent with some genetics aptitude? More on DFNB1 at Biomed Central; there’s the Handbook of Genetic Counselling on the issue; and the truly amazing Information Hyperlinked over Proteins site, where one could wallow all day.

Warning! Protected CD! Will email your address us and we’ll send it to spammers!

There’s a table at work where reviewers put stuff they can’t be bothered to look at (never mind review) for anyone who feels like taking to take home. And I happened to see one that intrigued me a bit…
protected CD front.JPG
Here’s what that stuff says….

RESTRICTED RELEASE ! WATERMARKED DISC!

DO NOT COPY - THE MUSIC ON THIS CD HAS BEEN WATERMARKED WITH A UNIQUE IDENTIFIER THAT ALLOWS US TO IDENTIFY THE INTENDED RECIPIENT (YOU) AS THE SOURCE OF ANY UNAUTHORIZED COPIES

BY OPENING THE SEAL YOU ARE !WARNING! AGREEING TO THE TERMS BELOW

RESTRICTED RELEASE TERMS

IN CONSIDERATION OF RECEIVING THIS AND FUTURE PROMOTIONAL CDs, BY OPENING OR USING THIS CD, THE AUTHORIZED RECIPIENT AND HIS/HER ORGANIZATION ("YOU") AGREE AS FOLLOWS. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE, NOTIFY US AT ONCE AT 1-866-367-5413 TO ARRANGE FOR RETURN OF THE UNOPENED CD. Until the CD release date, this CD is to be listened to solely by the authorized recipient, and oyu agree not to reproduce, transmit, distribute or otherwise make the music on this CD available to any third party. Thereafter, this CD may not be resold, but may be used in any manner consistent with copyright law. At all times, you agree to keep this CD safe from unauthorized use. The music on this CD has been watermarked with a unique identifier that allows us to identify you as the source of any unauthorized copies. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY UNAUTHORIZED USE, REPRODUCTION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF THE MUSIC ON THIS CD.

For Chrissake, people, it’s Lindsey Buckingham’s CD. You know? Used to be in Fleetwood Mac? (No? Oh, never mind.) I think she he needs all the distribution she can get. (And publicity, huh. Corrected, thanks for the comments.)

(No, I didn’t bother to open it.)

Apple screws up UPS recall, but could script “Batteries On A Plane” from it

The other day a UPS man nearly passed me on my way home. But I had a suspicion, so I asked him if he’d returned from trying to drop a battery off. Indeed he had. It was the replacement for the dodgy (word used on advisement) one that originally came with my machine, 20 months ago. He handed over the package, I took it home, and quietly congratulated Apple on doing quite a good job. Swapping x million batteries over isn’t trivial, after all.

Of course, I have to return the old one. Easy enough: there’s a prepaid label in the box. Put the old battery in, leave it unsealed (apparently the UPS person has to see the evil battery inside; it’s a legal requirement in the recall) and call in UPS. There’s even a number in the booklet. You get ten days to return it. After that Apple suspects you’ve kept it and will charge your credit card. But there’s plenty of time for that to not happen, eh?

So this morning I called UPS on the number given.
“I need a pickup – it’s an Apple battery recall,” I said.
“Does it say Standard or Express Saver on the label?” the UPS telephone-answering woman asked.
“Express Saver,” I replied, impressed that something as simple as a battery should get Express status.
“I’m sorry, then, we can’t take it,” said the woman.
Me: silence. “What?”
“Because Express Saver goes on a plane, but we can’t take batteries on a plane.”

Obvious, really: these things are already classed as a fire hazard, though I’m not sure even Samuel L Jackson would sign up for Batteries On A Plane. (Scene 1: SLJ: “I want these motherfscking batteries off this motherfscking plane!” Flunky: “OK, sir, we’ll send them by boat.” SLJ: “Uh, great.” Roll credits.)

Back to the conversation with UPS. “Can’t you just pick this up and then send it by land?”

But of course not. UPS is nothing if not inflexible. No can do. If the label doesn’t say Standard, it won’t get standard treatment. “You’ll have to contact Apple and get them to send you a new label,” said the UPS woman, not helpfully.

So now, the clock is ticking on getting the battery back (after which my credit card will get charged), and through no fault of my own I’m having to traverse the hell of voice menus, repeating my phone number to robots and pressing button 9 now. I ring the Apple number given in the little booklet. I’m on hold for six minutes, my anger slowly rising as intermittently a recorded voice comes on – terribly distorted – which just adds to the annoyance. The thing about waiting in queues like these is that first, you have no way of venting; the machines aren’t listening to hear who’s getting irate, and who’s just doing something useful with their time (the latter is hard to do while holding a mobile on a train and praying you’re not about to go through a tunnel); and second, it’s never for a good thing. You aren’t going to end up thousands of pounds richer. If you win the Lottery, I bet you don’t hang on for 15 minutes while they say “Please have your six winning lottery ticket numbers ready, and while you’re there please decide whether you’d like your life ripped to shreds by choosing the publicity option or whether you’d prefer to choose no publicity and have people think you’re drug dealers because you’ve become suspiciously rich overnight”. No, I bet that one is coloured red and sits on its own desk.

Eventually, annoyed that I was calling an 0845 number from my mobile and getting no indication of whether I was going to get answered within five minutes (I wasn’t) I hung up after seven minutes. I’ll have to try from a landline when I get an unknown amount of time free.

So two things.
(1) This is Apple’s fault. This was screwed up from the beginning: Apple’s battery (OK, made by Sony; so in that sense they didn’t make it happen, but they assume responsibility; it’s Apple’s brand on the battery). Then the battery-serial-number-checking website didn’t work from the start, incorrectly refusing some numbers which were valid (such as mine) which meant I had to make a phone call; and now they have an invalid UPS label on the battery, which becomes a problem that for some reason I have to sort out. I could forgive any one of these on its own, but together they’re just an enormous pain.
(2) Telephone support should be answered within 5 minutes. Always. Or else, you should get the option of a callback. (BT does this: it’s very professional and works really well.) These days, making people hang on a phone line is the short cut to making them hate your brand.

Plus – iTunes 7 doesn’t seem to recognise my ageing iPod nano. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t installed the new Quicktime. What a great week.

Update: OK, just got off the phone to Apple in India. Once you actually get through, the people are terrific. (I’ve got to say that I don’t have a problem with where people are answering from, as long as the system means they’re clued in to what’s happening. Bangalore gets bad press because skinflint companies cut corners on the support systems that would let people answering phones actually solve problems.) I’m getting a new label, and the countdown clock has been reset. Wizzo. Now I’m off to work on Batteries On A Boat, my blockbuster film. It’ll be like Speed 3, if we can only get Sandra Bullock.

What we want for 419 spammers: randomly-generated gibberish

Got another 419 scam spam (surprisingly, to my Gmail address; usually it’s .Mac which lets through the junk). It contained the marvellous paragraph

After legal consultation, I have concretized modalities for a secured way that would guarantee a perfect transaction. But be most assured that for your help and partnership you will get a good percentage of the total sum. It is important to let you know that fifty percent of the rest will be invested over there under your anagement. For a negotiable period of time and we will open a fruitful dialog to that effect.

But of course! Concretized modalities are just what we need today, and in five-inch sizes too – though only the biodegradable ones will do..

At which it occurred to me that what we need is something that will generate some sort of gibberish – close to English, but still rubbish – to keep the 419ers going. You could even start up a Gmail account of your own to bounce the rubbish back and forth, keeping it separate from the Gmail accounts you actually value. The longer these folk waste on scams that aren’t going anywhere, the less time they’ll have for real scams, and the better for the ISPs in Nigeria et al. (They pay for the ISP service, right?)

There used, in the Mac OS 9 days, to be a program called “Kant“, which would generate phrases according to a set of rules you generated. During Andrew Marr’s reign at The Independent, Andrew Brown and I (we sat alongside) toyed with the idea of creating a Eurosceptic version, which would spout unreasonable rubbish about Britain’s inheritance being sold for a mess of pottage if you gave it any random input – say, “forks”. Though it would be tuned to the subject of forks, of course, not just repeating its own things.

Ah, it turns out that Kant was the work of Mark Pilgrim, and work continues to move it to OSX. But gradually. And Pilgrim has released the Python code.

Which takes us some distance from the 419ers, but we’ll get back there eventually. IF Kant can’t bamboozle them, he ain’t trying hard enough. Perhaps some pure Kant output would do it..

As is shown in the writings of Hume, our a priori concepts, in reference to ends, abstract from all content of knowledge; in the study of space, the discipline of human reason, in accordance with the principles of philosophy, is the clue to the discovery of the Transcendental Deduction. The transcendental aesthetic, in all theoretical sciences, occupies part of the sphere of human reason…

Noel Edmonds? I’d have to open the box to find out if he’s inside – and why do that?

Rich and Mark have spotted something that was staring us all in the face, yet which we missed.

Noel Edmonds is making millions by repeating, on prime-time TV, a form of a classic thought experiment in quantum physics.

Shrödinger’s conceptual experiment posited that if a cat were placed in a box with a canister of poison gas, the release of which were triggered by a nucleus with a 50/50 chance of decaying, according to quantum mechanic theory, until the box were opened, the cat would exist in a simultaneous state of death and non-death, only resolved when the lid of the box was lifted. It exposed the implications of early quantum theory to the “real” world.

Which sounds a great idea for a game show to sell to international markets.

Noel Edmonds was the perfect choice as host for this game show, as he is also in a simultaneous state of death and life. We all remember him as the failed DJ turned family entertainer who killed people. But yet he’s on a £3 million contract with Endemol and nominated for a BAFTA. At the same time.

They’re completely right. Deal Or No Deal *is* Schrodinger’s Cat, but the cat is replaced with money.

If you haven’t seen DOND (and there were blank faces when I mentioned it at the Fullrun talk last month, so perhaps..), it’s like this.

  • One person in the middle, with a closed box in front of them.
  • Array of people around the edge, with closed boxes in front of them.
  • Inside the boxes might be bits of paper with any amount written on – from 1p to £1 to £100 right up to £250,000.

The person in the middle, while Edmonds buzzes around like a fly with a well-groomed beard, has to decide which boxes to open. Edmonds takes occasional phone calls from “the banker” who (we are told) offers a sum to “buy” the closed box in front of the person in the middle.

Eventually it comes down to two boxes (if the person goes all the way) and the banker’s offer. Choose: open the box? Or take the definite offer?

It’s pure Schrodinger. (Apologies, no umlauts today.) There’s absolutely no skill involved, unless you got someone smart who could calculate the mean value of the remaining boxes and weigh it against the banker’s offer and choose the one that’s higher. The only question is, is there a dead cat (eg 1p) in the box, or a live one (£250,000). Until the box is opened, both states are superposed: it’s both a 1p and a £250,000.

So what should we look for in the next game formats? Other great thought experiments included dropping a weight in a lift in space… oh, that’s Celebrity Love Island, which has plummeted like a stone while nobody cared. There’s firing a beam of light from a train travelling at the speed of light.. sending one of a pair of twins into a speed-of-light trip in space.. Come on, surely we can come up with a multi-million-pound show format with one of these…?

thelondonpaper is dead. Go on, stick a fork in it.

Splash headline on thelondonpaper, News International’s new free evening paper for London: “Croc man killed by stingray”.

Splash headline on London Lite, Associated Newspapers’ new free evening paper for London: “The Croc Hunter is killed by a fish”.

There couldn’t have been a better story for the first-round battle between these two free evening dailies each trying to make their mark on the capital: a larger-than-life TV star dies in a remarkable, ironic manner (terrible to put it like that; sorry. He was enormously unlucky, though if you tempt fate enough times…).

thelondonpaper does it stodgy and misses the irony. London Lite hits it with a bullseye.

But other things matter too. thelondonpaper doesn’t have the distribution – I go through Farringdon tube and Liverpool St mainline. I saw someone with thelondonpaper across the road. I’m not going to cross the road for a free evening paper.

By contrast, London Lite obviously has the Evening Standard’s locations. I passed people handing it out. (But I’m not interested in a free evening London daily. What’s it going to tell me? I don’t live in London.)

Shall I go on? Oh, might as well. thelondonpaper has a rubbish typeface – too thin and weak – awful, light layout (too much white space) and no light touch on its headlines or story choice. “Pete Docherty Doherty spared from prison sentence” read a headline on p3. No, you’re spared prison. Then on p5: “Naz is freed from prison”, with a pic of ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed walking out of prison. (At least they got the ‘from’ right there.) Two prison stories in two pages, and neither done right. There should be lots of things being thrown around the office. That’s terrible news editing.

By contrast, the Evening Stan…er, London Lite has “Judge tells Docherty she’s a fan… of sorts” and (a long way back) “Prince Naseem leaves jail… in a Rolls Royce”. With a pic of him in Roller, and waving to ex-jailmates. Assured editing, well-judged placement.

thelondonpaper, on this evidence, is already toast. It will take a supreme effort – including unbelievable work on the distribution, which is the real key to success – to get it anywhere. And it will also take superlative design and brilliant editing, which it’s not showing at present, to work.

Tough to relate, but facts is facts. I guess that’s my chance of being their technology editor blown then.