Monday, June 29, 2009

Amazon Kindle - Q & A with Andrew Nusca from

Is the Kindle coming to Europe?
Although the Kindle has yet to be released outside the US, it has been discussed by tech bloggers, has appeared on BBC and Sky News as well as in newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, The Times, The Sun, The Daily Star, The Financial Times. The press office did not return calls enquiring about a possible release date for the Kindle in the UK. However, as some of the larger eReader providers including Sony, Cool-er and Iliad are all available worldwide and an Apple media pad is expected later this year, commentators including journalists at BBC News expect Amazon to release the Kindle in Europe later this year.

Assistant editor of business and tech Web site ZDNet, Andrew Nusca has tried many of the main eReaders available in the US. He explained the importance of the Kindle and how the eReader market is growing.
Question: What’s so interesting about the Kindle as an eBook reader?It’s really the first device whose sole purpose is for reading. It’s not meant to be anything else. It’s sized for that purpose. It uses technology that’s intended for that purpose - E-ink - which makes it much easier to read, less eye-strain than a traditional shiny screen.

Question: Could it ever replace the book?

For now no, absolutely not. The starting price is far too high. There are also some serious limitations in that it’s only available in the US. The thing about a book is that it’s ubiquitous, you can get it anywhere, you can get it at an airport, you can get it on the street, you can get it anywhere and the price starts at $5 or $10 and you have that pleasure and you can beat it up and you don’t have to be concerned about it. Who wouldn’t want to have their entire library with them?

Question: What stage are we at in the development of eReaders?
You barely have players here. None of these are huge names. Amazon is a huge name, but this is their first hardware device. So, they’re not very thoroughly proven on this. Sony has a reader, but very few people know about it. Amazon is really the Apple in this market. They’re sexy, they’re hot. They have the infrastructure to back it. I mean, where do you go to buy a book that’s really cheap if you don’t want to go to the store?

Question: The Kindle launched in the US in 2007 – why do you think we haven’t seen it in Europe so far?
I think there’s no doubt that Amazon can make a boat load of money from Europe. I think the difficulty is a business and administrative one. In the states, so they have a huge audience and they only have to strike a deal with one (mobile) company. Europe is quite fragmented, I might have Orange in France as my mobile carrier, but then I need another one in Italy. It’s not quite as uniform as it is in the states. I would venture that that could be a big problem.

Question: What can we expect in the future from eReaders?
Look for prices to come down as competition rises. Look for more people to come out with eReaders. Every eReader company has to get their screen from the same company. There’s only one. And they can charge a premium because of it. The screen that’s in the Kindle is the same that’s in the Cool-er, even though the Kindle, the big one (Kindle DX) costs $489 and the Cool-er costs $249.

Friday, March 20, 2009

YouTube Orchestra is the online “American Idol”

New York’s Carnegie Hall will host the classical music answer to American Idol next month when the YouTube Symphony (YTSO) meets for its inaugural concert.

The world’s first collaborative orchestra is being run by the online video site, YouTube in partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, composer Tan Dun and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

"It's an amazing idea. It has promoted classical music to so many people. In some ways I guess it's like American Idol with the audience voting, but it is for classical music and orchestral players," enthuses violinist and surgeon, Calvin Lee.

More than 90 musicians from 30 countries were selected from thousands of people auditioned by recording and uploading their performance videos onto YouTube.

Describing the internet as the "invisible silk road", composer Tan Dun, best known for the score to the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon said: "YouTube is the biggest stage on earth, and I want to see what the world's undiscovered musical geniuses will create on it."

It’s not the first time surgeon and acupuncturist Calvin Lee has performed in Carnegie Hall. He performed there as a student of Brown University.

"I had just dated my wife the week before and then I had to be gone the next week for the Carnegie Hall performance. This time, I’m taking her with me," he says.

Sixteen years ago on April 15, he played Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Brown University Orchestra. This year on April 15 he will take to the stage with the YouTube Symphony.

Orchestra takes teaching online
The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) presented a series of master classes on various instruments before the YTSO auditions took place.

These gave competition entrants an opportunity to get some guidance from professional musicians.

According to LSO Digital Space Development Manager Brian Moran, these were successful because they involved: "what the orchestra does best, which is playing music and of course it was for a project which was encouraging other people to play music. It was very simply captured, it was single camera, it was very YouTube in style in look and feel."

There were some concerns about audio quality considering most people were recording their auditions on camcorders.

But, when members of the London Symphony Orchestra judged the first round auditions, this was less of an issue than had been expected.

YouTube users were given the chance to vote online in the second round before conductor
Michael Tilson Thomas made the final choices.

Horn player Jim Moffat who secured a place in the YTSO explained that a video recording reveals important details about a musician and allows a teacher or audition panel assess performance standards.

"You can certainly tell when they breathe, you can tell how good their intonation (tuning) is , you can tell their rhythm, even their body placement," he said.

Most of the musicians playing in the YTSO have never played together before, says Mr Moffat, but they will rehearse together for three days before the concert.

The programme includes Tan Dun’s Internet Symphony No.1 ‘Eroica’.

Music crossing geographical and technological boundaries
Classical music has been a champion of new technologies for over a century.

"Classical music was the first kind of music to be recorded," for the gramophone and "with the advent of cinema, the possibility of sound tracking music, which LSO was heavily involved in well over a hundred years ago," says Brian Moran.

Audiences are keen to listen to music online and to follow what orchestras are doing even if they don’t come to concerts, Mr Moran explains.

"People want to experience the orchestra in different ways and classical music in different ways and ways that suits them and I think that’s the way the technology is bridging the gap. It’s allowing people to experience as much as they want at a time that’s convenient for them."

Social media help the orchestra to build a relationship with the more geographically removed audiences as "it’s much more difficult to be able and engage with them using the more traditional methods and the newer methods are great for keeping them informed about our whereabouts and what we’re doing," he said.

Doctor and Businessman dust off instruments
"You communicate through your music" even if you don’t have the language, Jim Moffat laughs as he recalls the time he spent studying music in Germany. The French Horn player says romantic notions of Bavaria tempted him away from Canada after completing his MBA.

However, on a rainy day in Cologne, he wondered if a move from business to the arts was such a good idea.

Clearly both his studies in music and business have paid off. As well as joining the brass section of the YouTube Symphony, he runs a marketing consultancy business in London.

"Orchestras, classical music, collaborative technology and social networking was an incredible intersection of all my interests," Jim muses when talking about why he auditioned for the orchestra.

Training as a surgeon meant that Calvin Lee’s violin became "dusty" and he recalls how much he missed playing the instrument at that time. He says he always intended going back to music.

"Being on stage is very much like being in the operating room, bright lights, people concentrating and a performance that must be masterful – giving it your best, and the show must go on… you can’t just stop the operation in the middle. Another similarity, MD to me means Medical Doctor, but to many musicians it stands for Music Director."

He encourages budding musicians to try a variety of musical styles including rap and heavy metal and to record and share their performances online, particularly through YouTube.

"There is much to learn from every form. I had a chance to play with Rachel Barton Pine," the classical and rock violinist, he explained.

"She had written a rendition of heavy metal songs for two-three stringed instruments."

"Violincase" Twitters about Grammy win
Classical musicians continue to embrace new technologies today.

Only earlier this week, the British Library announced it would be streaming 1,200 performances of music by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn and Mozart.

Most of the recordings are from 1915 to 1957 and provide a valuable insight into the style of classical music performance in the early twentieth century.

2009 also sees the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Haydn’s death.

Moving across the Atlantic, violinist Hilary Hahn, who collected a Grammy for best instrumental soloist with orchestra in February, uses technology to reach her fans.

After winning her Grammy, her Twitter name "violincase" read: "Hilary won another Grammy! Best Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra! Now we prepare for the recital tour."

YTSO horn player Jim Moffat suggests that YouTube video technology could be used to create an online music platform for music lessons and master classes, providing "the best of the world in every instrument and having a place to go where you can find them."

Setting the standards for this online music community would present one of its biggest challenges, he says.

In the meantime, the YouTube Symphony meets for its inaugural concert in New York on April 15.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Homeless going 'home'?

Two charities in Poole have joined forces to help reintegrate people who have been homeless back into the wider community.

Quaker Homeless Action (QHA) and Routes to Roots have launched a befriending scheme specifically designed to help homeless people who are moving into accommodation or who have recently moved into accommodation.

QHA Project Co-ordinator Kate Mellor explained that many people are surprised how easy it is for someone to become homeless over the long term.

An individual who has been homeless for more than 30 days has a "greatly decreased opportunity to ever return to what we might call normal society," she explained.

Each team of four people will include three befrienders and one participant, who has previously been homeless.

Social contact is a crucial element, Ms Mellor says, whether it's meeting for a cup of coffee, going to the cinema, taking a walk in the park or having a meal together.

Ms Mellor reveals how "it's a very vulnerable time, a very, very lonely time and a very isolating time to move into a tenancy if they have become entrenched in a way in the life of a street homeless person."

In addition, the person will be without the network of other homeless people living on the street.

Once the participant identifies a special interest or hobby, the befrienders try to assist and finding a local group, which arranges activities.

By getting involved with local groups, the participants can try ease the move into more traditional society.

Befrienders can also help participants with practical needs including how to open a bank account, how to access government benefits, how to write letters and how to begin a tenancy.

Both the QHA and Routes to Roots are keenly aware how difficult a transition it can be from street homelessness to living in a house.

"It may seem to us as if that would be the most desired place to be, some place firm and stable," Ms Mellor says.

There is already demand for the project with some expressions of interest since the official launch by Mayor Joyce Lavender earlier this month.

The pilot project is being funded by Quaker Homeless Acton and will run for two years until the end of January 2011.

Reaction to Poole speed cut proposals

Motorists in Poole could face new speed restrictions following a transport review at a council meeting on Thursday.

Credit crunch pushes up charity demand

Local charities are reporting their services are needed more than ever as the impact of the credit crunch begins to hit hard.

Many charities in Bournemouth and Poole operate consistently in the background providing valuable community services.

The demand for services, including financial assistance, low-cost furniture or essential food, has increased particularly over recent months.

Poole Citizens Advice Bureau has recorded a 70% rise in debt related queries in the last six months, particularly from those who have lost work or had a reduction in their working hours.

There have also been a significant number of employment queries, according to Bureau manager Richard Bristow, with people wanting to know about legal entitlements if they are made redundant.

While there have been some reported cases of unfair dismissals during redundancy periods, he says most employers go through a detailed formal process.

"They can't just pick somebody they don't like. There has to be a process which is fair and equitable for all of the people that are affected."

A sudden loss of income can very quickly lead to rent or mortgage problems, both for landlords and tenants, he explains.

"Increasingly we are seeing people whose landlords are losing the property even though they as an individual may have maintained their rent to the landlord. The mortgage lender is then taking back the property, which happens to be rented out."

In extreme cases, rent or mortgage problems can leave a person homeless.

"G" is a volunteer with the charity Dorset Street Angelz.

He spent six weeks homeless a few years ago and says, "Having been there, you understand where people are coming from."

Volunteers or "Angelz" provide a twice weekly soup kitchen at St. Peter's Church Yard in Bournemouth.

The group also tries to get some homeless people back into accommodation.

On the first night, seven people attended their soup kitchen in St. Peter's Church Yard. This has risen to an average of between 21 and 23 people at each session with eight or nine regulars who come "without fail".

"G" explains how important it is for homeless charities to build up trust with people living on the streets.

"Without the trust you've got nothing. For about four or five weeks, I was dishing food out and talking about the weather and that was it."

People often find it difficult to understand why a person would remain homeless, he says.

"Why don't you get a job, get off your arse and do something about it?"

"G" says this is a common response and people do not realise how difficult it can be leaving behind their homeless friends.

Understanding why a person is homeless in the first place is crucial if you want to "help them on the track of going back into a house."

Dorset Street Angelz are currently discussing a befriending scheme with Bournemouth Council to aid the transition from being homeless to returning to accommodation.

The notion of befriending is shared by many charities, including the St Vincent de Paul Society, which has a number of branches or "conferences" in Bournemouth and Poole.

A volunteer said the society tries to befriend and help people in need and that they are expecting more cases of hardship as the recession continues.

She spoke about a local family which recently had to file for bankruptcy. A person who decides to declare bankruptcy is required to pay court fees. This is something which the society assisted with, she explained.

The Poole Food Bank provides food parcels to help people experiencing hardship. A manager with the organisation outlined how people through various circumstances might not have enough food or "can’t get kids stuff for their lunchbox".

She emphasised that the dignity of the people using the service is paramount and how even in crisis, it can be hard to ask for help.

Food parcels provided are not labelled ‘food bank’ because people who are experiencing hard times want to "blend into the crowd".

Another charity supporting people in financial difficulty is Dorset Reclaim which sells low cost furniture, electrical and household goods to people on low incomes.

Poole Depot Manager John Randall talked about the steady growth of the organisation and that they are definitely getting "busier and busier".

The charity operates four depots and relies on individual donations to provide the items they sell. All money raised is used to cover costs.

Click below for a video about the Citizens Advice Bureau.

"Unrivalled" holiday options in the south

Bournemouth and Poole are uniting forces to promote the area as a summer holiday destination for people staying in Britain this summer.

The "Back in Britain" tourism campaign aims to highlight the variety of holiday possibilities available in the area.

The joint initiative is a logical step for the towns, which are only five miles apart.

A multimedia advertising campaign is planned over Easter and hopes to 'attract tens of thousands of holidaymakers', according to spokeswoman Sheron Crossman.

Chairman of Poole Tourism Management Board Bruce Gran-Braham said:

"Historic Poole, with its upscale hotels and restaurants, its marinas, and the renowned Sandbanks peninsula, is a perfect counterpoint to family-orientated Bournemouth, with its glorious beach, beautiful gardens and thriving cultural scene."

He went on to explain there are many holiday choices around Bournemouth and Poole without travelling abroad and that the two towns "aim to be the first to welcome them (holiday makers) back from the costly Costas."

It follows a challenging year with significant fluctuations in the value of Sterling, particularly against the strength of the Euro.

Chair of Bournemouth Tourism Management Board Alex Carter said:

"With the credit crunch rekindling interest in 'holidays at home', we will be extending a welcome to many more holidaymakers this summer."

Mr Carter is confident that the individual successes of Bournemouth and Poole as tourist destinations can be enhanced by this new venture offering "unrivalled" holiday experiences.

The joint-project will include a new website,, due to go live later this month.

Business activities between April 2007 and March 2008 brought £127m worth of tourist related income to Bournemouth.

Dr Death to visit Bournemouth

Dr. Philip Nitschke's controversial suicide lessons, known by the organisation as "Exitutorials" were cancelled in Bournemouth before Christmas following protests by local residents.

However, the sessions have now been re-scheduled in May at the Hamilton Hall Hotel.

Dr. Nitschke, who runs the organisation Exit International, is an advocate of assisted suicide.

The original sessions planned for last October were postponed when both Bournemouth Council and the Hermitage Hotel cancelled Dr. Nitschke's bookings.

Bournemouth is the first of the UK venues in this latest series. Eastbourne, Stroud and Glasgow are included in this latest visit.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Youth needed to save democracy

A Poole councillor has warned young people that 'democracy will die' if they don't take a more active role in politics.

Conservative council leader Brian Leverett says that local political parties need to unite in their efforts to get more young people involved.

"We have a duty to get people out to vote, even and this may surprise you, voting for someone other than our party. All parties have this duty because unless young people come out and vote, democracy will die."

According to Cllr Leverett, political apathy has developed over recent generations and young people don't realise the extent of their impact on politics.

Spending time reading up on political candidates as well as voting is high on his priority list and "if you don't like any of them, put your name on the ballot paper", he suggests.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Merley and Bearwood, David Brown says communicating with local residents is essential.

Brown insisted whether it is in person, by email or on social networks is very important to ensure people are actively engaged in politics.

"People might not want contact you by email. They might not come to advice surgeries but you're doing your bit to try and make yourself more available to them", he said.

His own interest in politics was motivated by the government's introduction of tuition fees and student loans alongside a reduction in grants while he was at university.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Travellers caught in the crossfire again

Bournemouth locals and some councillors are up in arms again over a proposed gypsy and travellers site near Bournemouth Hospital.

When people object to a gypsy or traveller transit site as proposed near Bournemouth Hospital, how much does fear motivate their concerns?

Change is always difficult and undoubtedly this kind of development near a nursing home worries its residents.

But where are travellers and gypsies going to go? If you had to live in a caravan, literally travelling around from place to place, how would you feel about the public hostility towards you?

How would you feel about parking on the side of the road, knowing the police will arrive shortly to move you on. But where can you go?

It's easy to be motivated by fear where travellers are concerned. They don't get much positive press. But travellers and gypsies have a culture that is quite unique.

Many speak the ancient language of Cant, a hybrid of English and Gaelic or one of the other traveller languages. Sometimes, the public doesn't look beyond the negative aspects of traveller traditions.

Maybe we should turn the mirror on ourselves. Is the "settled" community populated by martyrs?

Yes, there is crime among the travelling community. Let's not forget, the "settled" community has its share of crime as well. We should debate the concerns among community members.

We should try and see beyond our fear and realise there are real people involved in the cross fire between divided councillors and concerned residents.

Further public meetings are to be held on Tuesday March 3 at the Townsend community centre and on Wednesday March 4 at the Littledown Centre.

These will give people the opportunity to be heard and they should also take the time to listen.

Taxi fare top up

Taxi fares are set to rise in Bournemouth following a council meeting on Monday.

The increase means standard daytime fares will now start at £3.60 for the first mile, an increase of 10p.

Prices for people travelling after midnight go up by 16p to £4.80 for the same distance.

Price changes will take effect from 1 April.

Chair of Bournemouth Station Taxi Association Ashley Miller spoke about the drivers' request for a fare increase.

He outlined how the taxi drivers' association had conducted monthly checks on petrol prices in 2008.

The association 'didn't consider' the spike in oil prices in 2008 had a lasting effect on the average petrol price.

However, he told the meeting that fuel costs were still the main element in the formula used to calculate any suggested increase.

The board unanimously voted to approve a 3.28% increase in fares from 1 April.

Also at the meeting, Chair of the Licensing Board, Cllr Andrew Morgan spoke about a proposal to complete removal of the 'extras' button facility in taxis.

Extras include carrying large luggage, pets, additional passengers and advance booking charges.

Licensing Officer Mr Evans told the chairman that the petition's proposer chose not to attend the meeting and the proposal was eventually dismissed.

However, he told councillors that removing the 'extras' button would most likely require compensation of a 6% fare increase. He said, this would be in addition to any increase to factor in inflation.

Mr Miller explained extras included items such as the advance-booking fee, which compensates drivers for 'dead-time' they might have to ensure they are on time for a booking.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Presidential hopeful debates a better EU

A local MEP tipped to be European Parliament President says the UK could learn lessons from how Obama's election campaign revitalised American politics.

Liberal Democrats MEP Graham Watson says member states needs to contribute more to ensure the union operates more democratically.

He highlighted the recent successes in the US: "I think if you look at what's happened in the states over the last year, there's a lesson here for Europe. They have gone through a major process of renovation and change politically, through a public debate between Obama and McCain and this has reconnected citizens with the policy process."

Mr Watson explains he wants to be European Parliament President to improve communications and "to change the culture in this place, because it's a culture that takes very little account of what the citizens are feeling."

"I feel it's not working optimally, we're not succeeding in communicating Europe properly to our citizens and that should very much be the role of the parliament. I think the citizens don't feel currently that there is a contract between parliamentarians and citizens. There's a lot of work to be done in making this place more open and transparent."

The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the EU.

It has a central role in debating issues which effect citizens across the union, according to Mr Watson: "It's the parliament that has the greatest opportunities for a proper debate between different people, representing different political parties or political ideas that might infuse the citizen with going out and voting in European Parliament elections."

Citizens of EU member states vote for MEPs every five years. The next election is in June 2009.

Poole Councillor blames Labour for council tax rise

Councillors exchanged sharp words but eventually passed the 2009/10 budget with a large council tax increase at last Thursday's full council meeting.

Council Leader Brian Leverett told the meeting that Poole is one of the worst funded authorities in the country and a council tax increase of 4.8% was essential. He criticised the Labour Government for the low funding it provides:

"Poole received only 29% of its funding from the Exchequer, the remaining 71% to be provided by the Town's Council Tax payers in 2008/09. In 2009/10 the position will go from bad to worse and we will receive only 28% from government forcing us to rely even more heavily on local taxpayers"

Liberal Democrat Cllr David Brown said it was important to consider the affordability of council services, increased funding for support services to those affected by the recession and that the council should consider deferring some expenditure.

"We're at the start of a recession which none of us have experienced in our lifetimes."

He proposed a series of amendments to the budget, which would have resulted in a 3.9% increase in council tax along with a smaller increase to the communications budget and a reduction in some members' allowances.

Rebel Conservative Cllr Carole Deas sat opposite the main group of Conservatives and said that in a difficult financial climate, residents would not be satisfied with a large council tax increase.

"Do you realise how much anger is out there in our borough?" she told the meeting.

Fellow rebel Cllr David Gillard agreed: "when you haven't got the money and times are hard, we've all got to show restraint."

Councillors Deas and Gillard were suspended from the Conservative council group for three months in November last year over clashes with group leadership.

Although the Liberal Democrats amendments were rejected, Cllr Brown said he proposed the amendments to support "the people who live from hand to mouth and struggle to pay their bills."

Council Leader Brian Leverett concluded the budget debate on the subject of the 4.8% increase:
"Regrettably, it is the lowest level we can set council tax at."

Giving the credit crunch the snip

Bournemouth women are set to fight the credit crunch through social networking and setting up new businesses.

Founder of Eve's, the Bournemouth women's business network, Amanda Hughes set up her informal group to give women the chance to share ideas.

"It's business and social, so that if someone's not necessarily in business or if they're thinking of coming back to business because sometimes networking can a bit too salesy."

The group meets monthly at a local restaurant and discuss their business experiences over dinner. Ms Hughes set it up after she was made redundant and wanted to share her experience and chat with other business women.

Some of the women involved are currently running their own companies, some have been hit hard financially by the credit crunch and are exploring new business opportunities.

A Southbourne entrepreneur is re-opening Zig Zag's hairdressers, which closed four years ago.

Elizabeth Wheeler, a colour specialist who has over eight years experience at another salon, has managed largely without bank loans.

"I've kind of done it on my own really, I've been self sufficient…We're keeping its original name because a lot of people know where Zig Zags is."

Ms Wheeler plans to go retro with her hairstyles, "going back to the 50s era, lots of chrome, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe…all the favourites…a bit funky, a bit of madness like the punk era and colours are very popular at the moment."

She's confident that her new business will be successful:
"I already have a clientele. I have been working in other recommended hairdressers in Southbourne for 8 years."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Poole tax rises sharply

Council tax is set to rise by an average of 3% across the country next year, according to the Local Government Association. However, in Poole, local councillors approved a 4.8% increase. Click the video below for more details.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Local MEP “convinced” UK will join Euro

It could take years and people “will grumble”, but the UK “will be a member of the Euro”, according to a local politician who’s tipped to be President of the European Parliament.

Liberal Democrats MEP Graham Watson says he is:
“convinced that in years to come the UK will be a member of the Euro but I think that it will do what it normally does, it will join late and it will grumble about it and it will join on conditions that are perhaps not the best it could have got if it had joined at the beginning but it will work”.

While 16 of the 27 EU member states currently use the Euro, the UK and Denmark agreed an ‘opt-out’ clause when the currency was setup, which exempts them from joining at the moment.

Mr Watson says the UK’s decision not to join yet has been influenced by its geographic location on the edge of Europe:
“I think the impact of 20 miles of water over 2000 years of history has changed the way we look at things.”

With the expansion of the European Union, he thinks its various bodies need to improve their methods of communications so more people understand how Europe affects their lives.

“The contours of globalisation are being drawn in the computer campuses of West Coast America, in the call centres of India, in the factories of China - you know the need for solidarity among 500 million Europeans in a world of nearly 6.5 billion people is greater than ever.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No friends for Facebook Ban

There was an underwhelming attendance for a Bournemouth Students' Union meeting this morning where a possible ban on Facebook was to be discussed.

Vice President for Communications Adelaide Allen encouraged those attending to use the opportunity to voice their opinions.

"Before we act on it, we want to see if it's an issue which affects a minority or majority," she said.

A group of students were unable to use computers in the library because of the number of people on Facebook.

Some students suggested that up to 60% of computers on campus are being used for social networking, she explained.

"You can see especially now that they've made the bottom floor of the library a social space, whereas last year it was a quiet kind of study area.

Now it's an open plan, people are allowed to talk and eat things. Obviously this encourages social learning which is great and people actually use Facebook as a key communication tool," she added.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education Dr Brian Astin suggested that Facebook "will be a major part of the curriculum in the future. At the moment we're just feeling our way."

There was a heated debate between students but no formal policy was adopted. The 54 students attending was considerably less than the 100 required for quorum.

A conservation science student said:

"My opinion is that the library should not have access to Facebook."

However, a female student was less supportive of any proposed ban. She said a sign highlighting priority for scanning at certain computers on campus had worked effectively.

"I've never had problems in the last two years." She suggested that having signs restricting Facebook to certain areas was a sensible solution.

Students who spoke about dissertations and coursework outlined how useful Facebook is for sharing bookmarks, references and other educational resources.

No decision was made on a Facebook ban but the union and management agreed to keep the matter under review.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

UK should help Guantanamo prisoners

A Bournemouth MEP says the UK should do its part to take some detainees when the US shuts down Guantanamo Bay within the next year.

Graham Watson of the Liberal Democrats says Europe has a responsibility "in recognising its share of the guilt in this whole thing and in resolving to turn over a new leaf".

The European Parliament has passed a resolution urging member states to accept some detainees by a large majority of MEPs - 542 for, 55 against and 51 abstentions.

Mr Watson says that in spite of considerable protests that Europe was innocent of any involvement in extraordinary rendition "we know now that the United Kingdom was involved, we know Portugal was involved, we're pretty certain that Poland was involved, perhaps Romania and perhaps others."

He is aware how members of the public might be concerned that possible terrorists could end up living in Europe. However he says,

"We do know that lots of innocent people were rounded up in the whole horrible story of the war on terror. We do know that some people were sold to the Americans for money who turned out to be completely innocent, have nothing to do with terrorism. And it's those people whose lives have been ruined by the long years in captivity that they've had without any access to justice who we should be prepared to resettle."

According to the press office for the European Parliament, 62 of the remaining 242 Guantanamo detainees will need to be resettled. This group of people who will not be prosecuted includes some Chinese Muslims.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Businesswomen spread charity from Bournemouth to Bangladesh

A group of local businesswomen travelled to Bangladesh earlier this week as part of setting up a new charity to help underprivileged children.

The women, who are members of Soroptimists International Bournemouth, are meeting partners Dhaka-based NGO, Nijera Shikhi, to discuss plans to build a school.

Founder of the charity, Cementing Futures, Debbie Rogers said they decided to fundraise for a school to combat the high levels of illiteracy in Dhaka:

“You can’t compare it to our culture. If you look at the education system in the UK 120 years ago, that’s there they are. They have massive groups who are illiterate. We are very much guided by them”

The charity is hoping to partner with primary, secondary and third level students across the UK and the students will help to raise £300,000 for the educational project.

Ms Rogers is conscious that given the current economic climate people might be reluctant to donate to charity. However, she says they will “try and get one pound from as many people as possible. Most people can afford to miss a pound.”

Many charities have been hit hard by the credit crunch. The Charities Aid Foundation announced on February 3 it had setup a helpline to help groups consider how to weather a financial crisis.

Cementing Futures should be more protected financially than many charities. With the exception of a director hired for a promotional DVD about the Dhaka project, the businesswomen involved are all volunteers.

The charity is due to be formally launched next month.

Soroptimists Intl Bournemouth
Charities Aid Foundation
Charity Commission UK

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Books beating Borders and Blockbuster?

As the credit crunch continues, many innovative libraries are now providing careers advice and online information services in addition to traditional book lending.

“There’s a whole lot of stuff in the newspapers and on the internet at the moment about how libraries are being revitalised as the credit crunch is hitting and people are not buying books any more.”

Area manager for Bournemouth Libraries at The Triangle, Gerardine Bodey says they’re well prepared to offer everything from job and training advice along with partners Next Steps, to internet access when applying for a new job.

The traditional role of the librarian has expanded with many now holding an NVQ in Information, Advice and Guidance. This means they can give people assistance in searching for a new job as well as some general tips on applying.

The expansion in services offered by Bournemouth Libraries includes the successful Enquire partnership with other public libraries. Users can join an online chat with a librarian to look for information or answers to questions. The service has been so successful that Enquire has partnered with 'Yahoo! Answers' to offer information to even more users.

Gerardine Bodey is pleased with the response so far: “77% of people say that the Enquire service run by all the public librarians had the best answer to their questions. So it shows that not only do libraries have the information, but it’s quality information too. Usually, we’re pointing them to a website or a piece of information that they can rely on.”

AUDIO: Gerardine Bodey, Area Manager for Bournemouth Libraries talks about why you should explore your local library.


Bournemouth Libraries
Next Steps Employment Service
Enquire – Ask a Librarian
Yahoo! Answers UK

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - Review for Wednesday January 28th

Guest conductor, Kees Bakels and piano soloist, Simon Trpčeski joined the BSO for a Russian piano masterpiece and an epic English symphony earlier this week.

"It was worth coming just for that," according to the woman sitting beside me at Wednesday's Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra concert.

We'd just heard Simon Trpčeski play Tchaikovsky's 1st piano concerto with the BSO. With great sparkle and style, it was the kind of performance that makes you want to go back to learning the piano.

Trpčeski and guest conductor Kees Bakels really seemed to enjoy working together. Watching the two communicate was like watching a friendly chat, albeit a musical one. This warmth of feeling came across in the flow of the solo piano and in the orchestral sections of the concerto.

The audience at Poole's Lighthouse stamped their feet and clapped enthusiastically after Trpčeski and the orchestra played the final flourishes of Tchaikovsky's piano masterpiece. A ripple of laughter went through the audience before the pianist smiled and said: "Yeah, I'm thinking what to play." His encore was a waltz for solo piano, which he had learned as a seven or eight year old boy.

The orchestra returned (without soloist) to conclude the evening with Elgar's 2nd Symphony. Conductor Kees Bakels had a twinkle in his eye as he guided the musicians' journey through this lesser performed work.

If you know the 'graduation' theme used in American films about universities or high schools, you'll have a sense of the brass fanfares in this symphony. There's plenty of loud brass and pounding percussion in the earlier movements before Elgar, the work then fades slowly into silence.

The Tchaikovsky is very accessible even to someone who's new to classical music, the Elgar a little more challenging. The sense of energy and passion for great music will continue to build the good reputation of the BSO.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bookworms gather across the UK

Local libraries are inviting readers to join the largest mass read ever organised in the UK.

Libraries in Bournemouth and Poole are inviting bookworms to join The Lost World Read, which starts nationwide next week.

The largest mass read ever organised in the UK starts on 30 January and participants of all ages are being encouraged to read Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World.

Reader Development Librarian with Bournemouth Libraries, Vickie Goldie explained that The Lost World Read aims to build on the National Year of Reading in 2008.

She hopes The Lost World Read "will get a lot of press attention. It's trying to attract people who don't normally go to libraries. With the credit crunch it's good to point out our libraries are free and we rent DVDs out."

Visitor figures to the libraries rose by 26,000 during 2008 and Ms Goldie expects the number of books loaned out during the year will also have risen. A report on last year's projects is due to be released soon.

The work of Bournemouth libraries has attracted national attention from book publishers, particularly to their blog Book Talk Bournemouth. It has received at least 3,500 hits since Ms Goldie set it up in late 2007.

Publishers HarperCollins have linked the blog to their website and are among a number of companies who now send Bournemouth Libraries "proofs" of upcoming books.

Asked for recommended books for 2009, Ms Goldie's suggestions include Skin and Bones by Tom Bale and she comments: "Stephenie Meyer is just taking the world by storm."

She continues to be very enthusiastic about reading:

"It can take you other places and other worlds, it can change your mood and be very uplifting. There's that whole sensual aspect of it, holding a book, turning the pages and the smell of the paper."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hospital surgeons face crisis

A European cap on working hours could have a major impact on surgeons in Bournemouth and Poole.

Hospitals and other public services could be hit hard when the European Working Time Directive (WTD) is fully implemented next August.

President of the Royal College of Surgeons, John Black, said "the effects on patient care in the NHS are potentially disastrous."

From August, surgeons will be restricted to working a 48-hour week. However, Mr Black said this would lead to inadequate emergency cover overnight and at weekends and that the government should discuss an opt-out.

He also said the proposals would lead to "much less experienced trainees" to work alongside surgeons.

MEP for Bournemouth and South West England, Neil Parish said "some 14 member states already use the opt-out or are considering using it. So in reality it is unlikely that this cap will come into force in the UK."

A survey of hospital trusts last November showed only 18% were meeting the 48-hour limit outlined in the European Working Time Directive.

Spokespersons for Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals were unavailable for comment. However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health confirmed the European directive "will need to cover surgeons" from August.

Given the current economic crisis and rising unemployment figures, MEP Neil Parish suggested, "If people want to work and employers are prepared to pay them for the extra work, why should the state step in and stop them from doing so?"

He went on to say he opposed the 48-hour cap for a number of reasons, "including the effect this may have on NHS staff and on retained fire-fighters."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Student caught with cannabis faces eviction

A Bournemouth University student caught with cannabis could be evicted from Halls of Residence within 2 weeks. Scott Spurgeon, 19, was found in possession of the drugs by a security guard at Corfe House on November 15th last year. Corfe management have now given Mr Spurgeon 2 weeks to find alternative accommodation.

According to blogger, Kayley Rogers, more than 150 fellow students have voiced their opposition to Mr Spurgeon's eviction by signing a petition. Classmate Laura Fulham said: “I think it’s harsh and over the top. They didn’t ask him what happened, they just kicked him out.”

However, Corfe management have said: “Drugs are prohibited in the building and anyone caught with them will be dismissed – there are no exceptions.”

Any repeated breaches of regulations could lead to disciplinary action by the Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Former Irish President continues to advocate justice

Former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson has been appointed head of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

A ground-breaking leader, Mrs Robinson was the first woman to be President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997. Following this she worked as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002. She has since set up a non-governmental organisation, Realizing Rights, which advocates ethical globalisation.

Mrs Robinson has recently been on an ICJ panel overseeing a three-year inquiry on how counter-terrorism measures have impacted human rights.