Dad finally has a computer!

My brother and I have spent about 8 years trying to persuade our father to get a Computer. He is Swiss and lives in Switzerland and we only see him about once a year, so if he had a computer it would obviously be great for keeping in touch. He is the sort of person who really likes to mull things over for a good long time. You can’t rush him into things. Since he retired a couple of years ago he has had no excuse for his procrastinations.

Last week my brother Steven was in Switzerland for business and went to visit dad. He asked again about him getting a computer and got the usual response, ‘I’m thinking about it’. So he decided to drag him to a shop and buy him a laptop and an internet connection. He gave him a crash course in how to get online and he setup a yahoo email account for him. He bookmarked the websites I have with photos of my kids, which my dad had never seen before. He also showed him how to open the Windows card game (my dad plays a lot of cards!). Then he went home and left him to it.

So I am now imagining my dad, thrown in at the deep end. He has never really used computers before (he was a mechanic before he retired). Steven said he was having trouble using the mouse and getting it to click on the things he wanted. I have used a computer so long I find it hard to image what an alien environment it could be to someone. My brother persuaded him to look for a beginners computer course in his area. I do hope he does. I am going to go and try sending him an email and see if I get a reply!

Further into the web…

So, I have a facebook account and a blog and a netvibes page, now the next step in my goal of “keeping up with the latest internet trends and generally involving myself in the wider community of the web” is do do some research about what is happening out there. What is happening in the mind mapping / dialog mapping world? What are the latest developments in Web 2.0? What are the big boys up to? Who are the big boys?!!

I started this gargantuan task by looking at what software and websites already exist that are similar to either Compendium or Cohere. This is something I should have done a long time ago and never made the time to. Well there are a lot more than I realized. I was swamped. I have created a set of Compendium maps of the data that I have found so far. I haven’t had a chance to download or try many of these yet.

I wanted to put an iframe in at this point with the Compendium maps, but it won’t let me! So I added the above link to the maps instead. Here is a picture of one of the maps anyway just to get a flavour:

compendium map of web-based mapping software

If anyone looks at the maps and sees any software or websites that I have missed out please let me know. I mostly looked at mind mapping software as a peer to Compendium.

As an aside: I recently had a bug report about installing the Cohere FireFox plugin on the Mac using the Flock browser. I had never heard of Flock! So I downloaded it to start investigating the problem. I love it! I now use it as my main browser and view my feeds using a sidebar instead of using my netvibes page.

The next phase of my research will be identify and investigate the ‘Big Boys’!


I have just started work on the e-dance project and I spent an interesting and unusual first week working with some dancers at Bedford University. Not something I have ever done before and very much an alien world. We spent the week working in the theatre and experimenting with various pieces of software.

Manchester University have been working with the dancers using video projection. They have written software that can put together combinations of live video, remote video, pre-recorded video and still images with dancers dancing at more than one physcial location. Recently they added the ability to overlay these combinations as transparent layers which produces some amazing effects. It was abolutely facinating to watch.

Last week they added another transparent layer of live drawing using a digital note pad. I really, really want one. It can hold 900 pages of drawing/writing in it’s memory or you can draw/write live to your computer (and therefore project it on the wall, as the dancers did – see image above). It only costs £94!!! Which I think is cheap for what it does.

I was there because the choreographer, Dr Helen Bailey, wanted to experiment with capturing the choreographic process so she could analyse how the verbal and physical interactions of the dancers with each other and the herself actually produced the dance pieces. We tried using Compendium to map the conversations that the dancers and Helen where having. It quickly became apparent that this was just not going to work. There were too many separate conversations. I couldn’t really hear what they were saying most of the time. If Helen had been mapping and not me, (which would have been the long term plan) the laptop would have been a physical barrier to her interaction with the dancers.

In the end I suggested that we investigate the use of small microphones worn by Helen and the dancers to capture their speech and that I would look into writing software to convert the speech to text and then ultimately into Compendium nodes. It might even be possible to use a spoken keyword system to indicate the node types to create.

I believe the compendium maps I did produce last week, (which ended up being mostly photographs I was taking!), are going to be put up on the e-dance website soon. It is going to be a very interesting project to work on for the next year whatever we decide to do with Compendium in the end.


It was recently brought to my attention that I spend far too much time with my head buried in code and not enough time keeping up with the latest internet trends and generally involving myself in the wider community of the web.

So I have joined Facebook and found some of my family already there! So I have a few ‘friends’. I also set up a netvibes page and now have various blogs and feeds coming at me with all the latest info. Quite scary! I am not sure I have the most useful feeds on it, but I guess I will find out over time (all suggestion welcome).

Finally, as part of re-branding ‘Michelle Bachler’ and making myself more up-to-date, I am creating this new website for myself using WordPress. I am not sure how often I will actually write anything, or whether anyone will be reading, but I will be out there, vulnerable and joining in with this new trend of exposing the ramblings of ones mind to others.