Beijing Olympics

Monkey
When I mentioned Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s Monkey BBC Olympics promos a couple of weeks ago, I promised to talk in more detail about the Beijing Olympics on the web this week. However I wasn’t banking on laid-up at home nursing my own (non-Olympian) ankle injury.   So here’s a swift online-only round-up to make up for the absence of Website of the Week on the radio.

There’s been plenty of online innovation for the Beeb with the launch of the 2008 Games. There was live streaming of the opening ceremony from the BBC homepage – a first for bbc.co.uk. Throughout the games, the BBC Olympics site will stream six different channels of live coverage to anyone watching in the UK. Other online highlights from the Beeb include an interactive map and a downloadable Desktop Monkey which promised users updates on their favourite Olympic sports and reminders of when events are starting.

The Guardian has a nice piece outlining the full extent of the Beeb’s interactive coverage of the games.
The official site for the games looks lovely – truly comprehensive, with nice bonus features like My Olympic Story which has featured a different story every day for the last 100 days, each one revealing one person’s unique Olympic experience.

Finally Google have launched a dedicated portal page for the games  with features including a Google Map of medals, YouTube video highlights, Google News headlines, a video tour plus 3D models of the venues and an "iGoogle gadget" that tracks medal counts to your Google homepage.

>> Olympics Official site
>> BBC Olympics
>> BBC Interactive Olympics Map
>> BBC Desktop Monkey

>> The Guardian: BBC promises ‘cornucopia of content’

>> My Olympic Story
>> Google Olympics Portal

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Boat Race, British Summertime and Free Online Photo Editing

Something Sporty:
>> The Boat Race
All tributaries lead to the Thames this weekend for the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race. The event’s official site is a good ‘un with plenty of video and photos, tips on the best vantage points for spectators and links to reviews of all the pubs along the route.

Something Topical:
>> World Time Engine
Avert post clock-change transatlantic-call catastrophe with this definitive guide to what time it is in any city (or even village) worldwide. Just type in a location to find out whether their clocks have changed yet, or use the meeting planner to work out the best time to make that call.

Something Useful:
>> Photoshop Express
For over a decade Photoshop has been the tool of choice for professional photographers and designers for editing and enhancing digital photos. But at around £600 it’s not a realistic option for cash-strapped amateur photographers. This week Photoshop have launched a completely free online service which provides beginner-friendly online photo editing along with 2Gb of online photo storage for each user.

Sport Relief, Magazine Covers and Long Things

Something worthy:
>> Sign up for the Sports Relief Mile
The big focus for this year’s fundraising effort is the Sports Relief mile on Sunday March 16th – in which anyone (regardless of fitness level) can participate in one of hundreds of different events at athletic tracks all over the country. Find your nearest track or register online at the official Sport Relief site.
Something fun:
>> Mag My Pic
Upload a photo of your choice and mock up a cover of one of 12 glossy magazines including Vogue, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, Maxim and Rolling Stone. When you have created your magazine cover you can choose to post it straight to a blog, MySpace or Facebook – or to allow other people to rate it in an online gallery.

Something largely pointless but still oddly compulsive:
>> The longest list of the longest stuff at the longest domain name at long last
This site is a long alphabetical list of fairly random categories. (dog tongue, fjord, poker game, pizza etc etc). Simply click on a category name to learn about the longest thing in that category.

Real Buzz

Readlbuzz >> Real Buzz
I mentioned this as my first "new year, new you" type pick of 2007 – but it’s well worth revisiting as they’ve added so many new features in the last year.
The site bills itself as the UK’s biggest fitness and motivation site, with hundreds of pages aimed at ‘people want to take up a new challenge but don’t know where or how to start’. As before it should appeal equally to committed fit-freaks and textbook couch potatoes. New features this year include Map Your Passion (plot your runs and fitness regimes on a customisable Google Map) and Pitch Your Passion (Upload YouTube style videos of you evangelising about your favourite forms of exercise). Meanwhile for those (myself included) who find reaching for the remote control to be energetic work, the Virtual Workout invites you to choose an activity (from treadmill to rowing via aerobics or squash) and enter your weight to see how many calories you’d burn off if you were to try that particular form of exercise for half an hour.

Also mentioned today:
>> Radio 2 Music Club presents: exclusive Jack Johnson live video

Friday Quick Links

>> World Car Free Day
>> Walkit.com
Tomorrow is World Car Free Day – so a good time to remind people about this excellent walking route planner. It currently covers London, Birmingham and Edinburgh with the rest of the UK to follow by late 2008.
>> Read Miles’ original review

>> Rugby World Cup on Five Live
>> Five Live: Drop Kick Rugby Trivia Game
Choose which country you compete as to determine the difficulty of the questions you encounter in Five Live’s new animated rugby trivia game.

>> How to activate the secret Flight Simulator feature in Google Earth
>> Marco’s Blog: Google Earth Flight Simulator >> Download Google Earth
>> Read Miles’ original Google Earth Review

Video Clip of the week: Virtuoso Scratching Demonstration

Personalised Bob Dylan Video Messages (plus Rugby Tips)

Dylan_2>> Send a Bob Dylan video message
To promote the release of the forthcoming Dylan: His Greatest Songs compilation, this site gives all Dylan lovers the chance to create a customised version of the iconic Subterranean Homesick Blues video. Simply type in your choice of message to have your words appear on Bob’s giant cue cards. When you’re happy with the results, you can send the video to a friend.

Also mentioned today:
>> VideoJug: Rugby explained on video
We introduced you to this excellent video site last year. The site offers short clips which teach you the kind essential life skills they don’t always teach you at school, like how to get a perfect wet shave or tie a Windsor knot.
Ahead of the Rugby World Cup they have assembled a series of survival tips for both die hard fans and oval-ball novices. Find out how to avoid a tackle or brush up on related subjects like how to get served quickly at the bar. See also:
>> Rugby For The Girls
>> Rugby World Cup: Official site
>> Rugby World Cup on BBC Sport

The Outdoor Swimming Society

>> The Outdoor Swimming Society
"We believe it’s time to get back to the joy of swimming under an open sky. Water needs no roof!
Our manifesto:
  • We believe swimmers have too long been held in chlorined captivity! Everyone with a set of bathers should be set free to immerse themselves in nature
  • We support all those keeping lidos open and lakes and rivers clean We promise to enlarge and celebrate the beauty of every day we can by going for a nice outdoor swim
  • We pledge to take our friends with us so they can join We embrace the rejuvenating effects of cold water and undertake to strip and dip wherever we can "
If you fancy yourself in a fetching striped Victorian bathing outfit, you can pledge your support for outdoor swimming, find the best lidos and rivers for practice, or even submit a late registration for this Saturday’s Breaststrokes swim in Lake Windermere (in aid of breast cancer research).