The World’s First Sat-Com (and Talking Pets)

>> 230 Miles Of Love

This is almost certainly a world first. 230 Miles Of Love is a sat-com; a series of comedy sketches about the M6 which are distributed by sat-nav.
Each sketch is an mp3 file, which you download from the site and add to your sat-nav in the same way as you install any map updates. Drivers on the M6 will hear each sketch automatically as soon as they reach relavant points on the motorway. (But you can listen on your computer or mp3 player even if you’re nowhere near the M6).

The downloads are available in pre and post-watershed versions. The fruitier language is bleeped out on the former version.
The site is free-to-use and is being used as a way to raise profile and awareness for disability charity Motivation. Listeners who enjoy the sketches are asked to consider making a donation to Motivation.

>> Talking Pets

This is clever – and fun. Upload a photo of your favourite cat or dog, choose from a range of voices, add accessories (like hats or sunglasses) and type in a short sentence. Then a bit of web-based sorcery will animate your pet’s mouth, and you’ll see and hear it speaking the words you have just typed.
You can email the results to a friend or just enjoy the results for yourself. For many of us, this is the closest we’ll ever get to an appearance on The Nation’s Most Talented Pets.

Cheap train tickets, Comedy videos and zoomy 3D photos

Something useful:

>> The Train Line Fare Finder


This new tool helps you find the cheapest long distance rail tickets for your chosen journey if you can be flexible about when to travel.

Something funny:
>> Funny Or Die

Will Ferrell’s hugely successful comedy video site
launches in the UK with support and exclusive clips from Matt Lucas and David Walliams.

Something whizzy:
>> Cool Iris

This is a small download which changes the way popular photo and video sites (including Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr and Photobucket) appear on your screen. With Cool Iris installed you get a very impressive full-screen 3D view of your photos which lets you quickly zoom in from a photo mozaic to a tiny detail on any photo. It’s a bit like Google Earth for your photos.

Osama Loves

Osama the Banker, 31, from London >> Osama Loves
This is interesting – A Dave Gorman-influenced quest from 2 London-based Muslims (in collaboration with Channel 4), to find and meet 500 people who share the same name. In the process, they hope to change many people’s perception of Islam:

"By meeting 500 people who share nothing but their first name, I want to show that, whatever the cultural or religious background, we all love much the same things. (Well… that’s the plan!)
For the next 50 days I’ve got a perfect excuse to do what I like best: chat to strangers. The only difference is, this time they will all be called Osama!"

Long-standing listeners will know that I like a pointless quest, so it’s nice to see a quest/travelogue which aims to do someting a bit more positive. If you know an Osama who they haven’t yet featured on the site, you can submit a photo or video to help them get closer to their target of 500 Osamas.

Village Fetes (and Wallis Bird)

Last weekend we had a lovely family day at the Innocent Village Fete in Regents Park. It’s a nice idea to take a big green space in the centre of London and do an old fashioned village fete (complete with ferret racing, welly throwing and scones) and add in some good live music (Wallis Bird – our absolute favourite singer songwriter at the moment) and a helter skleter and other kid-friendly rides.
As part of the site to promote the event, there’s a handy Fete Finder which will help you find an actual village (or school) fete in your area. And although their fete blog is currently preoccupied with celebrating their own event, it also acts as a nice celebration of fete culture in general.

I thought that fetes would be the sort of things which appeal to I Like Old Shops so I emailed Anne who runs that site to ask if she knew of any other sites which celebrate this particularly British custom. Anne says:
"Not sure if this is in the right ballpark but Strange Britain is good for customs and weird folklore and Wacky Nation does similar. There’s also a good book by Iain Aitch called A Fete Worse Than Death that covers the same ground."

If you’ve never heard Wallis Bird, do listen to the songs on her MySpace page. The songs are good on cd, but live she’s exceptional – a bundle of charisma and a fantastic performer. One of the songs from her set in Regents Park on Saturday has already turned up on YouTube – Click on the play button on the right of this text to enjoy.

Online breath testing, Darwin online, Google Earth for charities and new features

Something Worthy
>> Google Earth Outreach
This new initiative aims to give charities and non-profit organisations the tools to showcase their fundraising activities to a mass audience via Google Maps and Google Earth.

Something New
>> The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online
Until now Darwin’s original handwritten manuscripts were only available to scholars at Cambruidge University – Now his work has been put online from Voyage of the Beagle to the Theory of Evolution. Choose to view the scanned manuscripts or put the mp3 versions on your iPod!

>> Google Earth Updated
“New! in Google Earth 4.3

  • Photo-realistic buildings from cities around the world
  • Dawn to dusk views with the Sunlight feature
  • Swoop navigation from outer space to street-level"

Something funny
>> Test Your Breath
Laugh-out-loud funny: Breath into your computer’s microphone (or type in details of your last meal) to get an assessment of how fresh (or otherwise)your breath is.

The Girl’s Guide To Travel

>> Wanderlust: The Girl’s Guide To Travel
>> Vote for your greatest woman traveller
These new features from independent travel magazine Wanderlust have launched to coincide with International Womens Day tomorrow. Find out why Camomile teabags and bicarbonate of soda should be in every woman traveller’s backpack in their downloadable guide. Then cast your vote for the Greatest Globe Trotting Girls of all time.

Virtual tourism / escapism

On a damp and dismal British Friday, thoughts inevitably turn to beaches and other exotic destinations:

>> Fabsearch
This new travel site trawls glossy magazines like Vogue, Tatler, and Vanity Fair for their best travel tips and features and archives them online by source and location. Site visitors can peruse the features for free and "clip" interesting sections in a "my clippings" file.

>> AfterSunrise
This a great escapist stressbuster – Watch videos of the sunrise on Miami Beach. Each short clip features beautiful beach views, soothing sounds and feelgood quotes from Miami’s early risers talking about what they’re looking forward to doing on the day of that sunrise.

>> Friday Game: Mynci Beach Volleyball
Where turquoise cartoon animals take on brown cartoon animals in a battle for oceanside volleyball supremacy .

World In One City

>> World in One City
Londoners Alex Horne and Owen Powell are approaching the end of their one year quest to prove that London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world. To do this they aim to meet and chat to a citizen from every country in the world who currently lives and works in London. With 7 days remaining, they have 12 countries left to find. Read about their adventures and see if you can help them find their last 12 international ex-pats.
Also mentioned today:
>> The Cliché Rotation Project
A site which aims to replace all overtired clichés with fresher equivalents of similar meaning. Thus ‘Born with a silver spoon in his mouth’ is replaced by ‘Born with a venture capitalist in the family’ and so on.

Friday Quick Links

>> DIY Fix-it
Extensive illustrated guides to loads of different DIY projects. For those intimidated by technical terms like wallpaper or plumbing, the beginner’s approach allows you to select which part of the house you want to do something to, and get a list of projects that you could do in that room.

>> Barbecue Bible
Recipes, "BBQ History" and the BBQ 10 Commandments (“Know when to baste, guage yor fuel, keep it lubricated and never desert your post”!)

Newsbreaker >> Newsbreaker
This variation on the classic arcade game Breakout rewards you for clearing lines of bricks by linking you to headlines for breaking news stories

>> YouTube clip of the week: Newbreaker Game
At the premiere of Spiderman 3 in LA, the cinema audience took part in a demo of a big-screen version of the afore-mentioned Newsbreaker game. The gameplay here was controlled by a motion sensor tracking the movements of the entire audience

>> BBC Music: Reading & Leeds Weekender
The Beeb’s summer music festival coverage concludes with extensive video highlights (both online and on the digital TV red button service) from the main stages at Reading and Leeds. Headliners include Razorlight, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Kings Of Leon, Arcade Fire and Bloc Party

Also mentioned: Travel links for Notting Hill Carnival:
>> Transport for London Journey Planner
>> BBC London Travel News

Keep Moving

>> Keep Moving
Excellent though Radio 2’s travel news is, sometimes you just can’t wait half an hour until the next update. In which case Keep Moving could be just the thing. There’s a mobile service which is fine if you’re happy to pay 60p a minute for your call, but for me it’s the free online service which does the job.
Pick any A road or motorway to get a junction-by-juntcion list of any hold-ups, accidents or roadworks, often accompanied by audioclips with more information. And if you have a daily commute by road, you can sign up for free text and email alerts which will turn up before you leave the house or office, with details of any delays on your usual route.