Tag Archives: London

OpenCalais tagging service and WordPress plugins

I’ve just installed two WordPress Plugins to test out automated tagging systems. I’m also really interested in automated geotagging, but not sure if that’s available. For example, if I say that this post is about London, does it add lat long tags? Could these be used to create a map?

These are the two plugins:

The autotagger suggested the following for this post (before I entered this sentence of course):

World Wide Web
PHP programming language
Blog software
Content management systems
Geographic information systems
Web 2.0
London,Greater London,United Kingdom
automated tagging systems
I had already added: OpenCalais, tags, tagger, automatic

A Day At The (Horniman) Museum

The facade of the original 1901 building at the Horniman Museum
I was recently prompted to pay a long overdue visit to the Horniman Museum, round in Forest Hill, south east London. So last Sunday morning Oliver and I set off for the day.

Wow, it had changed incredibly since my last visit, back in the days when I was working on plant uses in the Centre for Economic Botany at Kew (my first job at Kew). With brand new galleries, a new aquarium, and the temporary travelling exhibition Myths and Monsters (from the Natural History Museum team) it proved to be a great day out.

Myths and Monsters
Myths and Monsters exhibition at the Horniman Museum Myths and Monsters exhibition at the Horniman Museum Myths and Monsters exhibition at the Horniman Museum Myths and Monsters exhibition at the Horniman Museum

Even the old natural history galleries, where one is rather fittingly invited to ‘step back in time’, provided some engaging displays; for examples skeletons of apes and early man, together with moulds of brain sizes, give a stark reminder of how we have evolved. Somehow these rather erudite displays seem suitably complemented by the over-stuffed walrus
which takes pride of place in the middle of the gallery.

At the Horniman the theme of culture is a constant one, and we found ourselves watching videos of brass shields being made in Benin, looking at mummies from Egypt, and gazing at the most amazing displays packed full of musical instruments of all shapes and sizes (with a nice little side room where you can try some out, though not the expensive guitars, much to Oliver’s disappointment!).

Lunch in the Conservatory at the Horniman Museum View over a dreary looking London from the Horniman Museum I shouldn’t forget the gardens. It was hardly the best time of the year to visit a garden, nor was the weather on our side, but it’s good to see that they have just got nearly a million pounds of Lottery money to carry out an extensive refurbishment, including rebuilding the bandstand (from where you get amazing views looking north over central London).

He’d hate me for saying this, but whether it was the stepping back in time, the change in surroundings, or simply a rare chance for us to spend one-on-one time together, Oliver was transformed from ’12 year old going on 18′ into the studious scholar, to the point where half the time he was telling me what things were!

Just goes to show the power of museums of all shapes and sizes, and you don’t get much wider a range of exhibit than the Horniman – well worth a visit, with a wide appeal to everyone.

Check out their website and their Facebook page

Aquarium jellyfish at The Horniman Museum The Horniman Museum Natural History Gallery at the Horniman Museum Like father like son - Oliver taking photos at the aquarium at The Horniman Museum

Blowing a hooligan

It turned out to be a bit breezy in london yesterday. A driver was killed by falling tree, Kew Gardens shut to the public over safety fears, and bicycle journeys were taking either half the time or five times as long, depending on which way you were travelling.

By coincidence I had been giving a talk about Kew the night before and had been asked if the effects of the great storm of 1987 were still being felt. The question reminded me of this page on Kew’s website which tells the remarkable story of how the storm led to a new discovery that has perhaps actually saved some trees since. In their own words:

“In the great hurricane, on 16 October 1987, the whole root plate of the Turner’s Oak, one of our oldest trees, lifted and settled back in the ground. This appeared to rejuvenate it, as it was showing signs of stress and decline due to compaction of the root plate from the many people who take shelter under the broad evergreen crown. This was one of the factors that initiated the present day proactive decompaction programme for mature trees in the arboretum, which began in 1998. This programme involves relieving compaction around the root crown, mulching over the turf and injecting a mixture of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria. Loosening of the soil and injection of the mycorrhizal fungi is being performed using a ‘Terravent’ Soil Decompactor.”

So there you go, if every cloud has a silver lining, then every storm must have a….. errr, not sure what idiom we could make up here.

Turning the news inside out

I bought a newspaper for the first time in ages yesterday, an early edition of the London Evening Standard, on my way back from finishing the Christmas shopping.

I was struck by the way the stories were arranged, and am left asking myself this question: why is it that all the nasty stories (rape, murder, drugs etc) and banal features (the best Christmas window in London, the city worker with the 51 million pound bonus, and the luxuries of Julie’s restaurant) get pushed up to the first few pages, whilst the homeless in Paris, NHS waiting lists, and most notably one lady’s story of her Tsunami survival, and subsequent charity cycle ride across Cambodia, just get buried in the middle? Is it a lack of courage by the editor, or a sad reflection on what people actually want to read about?

What’s even more sad is that I’ve just been to Fiona Callanan’s fundraising page (Charity cycle for amputees in Cambodia) and there’s not one recent donation, despite of the fact that the web address was featured in the article (and before you say anything, I’ll be popping there in a minute to make my small donation).

Now a cunning plan, and a challenge:

It is widely claimed that any given person is connected to every other human being by at most six other people. So just how hard can it be to search out Pierre-Henri Flammand, recipient of the above-mentioned mega-bonus, and get him to do his little bit to redress the balance? I’m no fan of chain letters, but just this once it may be worth the effort of sending this on and trying to make a difference. After all, Fiona only needs another £650 to reach her £20,000 target, and I bet M. Flammand wouldn’t hesitate on popping into Julie’s Restaurant and spending that sort of money on a quick lunch. And nor would the editor of the Evening Standard either, I suspect!

But whatever you do, don’t forget to call in at Fiona’s page and give a small donation.

Friday dilemna – stay in, or go out?

Drama hit the tranquility of west London last night when Fire sparked overnight evacuation in South Ealing, just down the road from me. The immediate and real drama was for those in the vicinity, including a few friends of ours, who faced a sudden evacuation in the middle of the night. The BBC reporter seemed a little more vague about it, stating “Hundreds of people were told to stay indoors or leave their homes when a fire broke out overnight”. How exactly were they supposed to make that choice. Perhaps it was if they could see flames? Or if it was starting to feel a bit warm?

Of course to many the biggest ‘drama’, and to me the biggest source of amusement, was the traffic chaos that ensued. When the parents driving five hundred yards to drop their kids off at school met with all the others going back the same five hundred yards cos they had found out the schools were shut, all hell broke loose. Ho hum.