Ten toes running diary – Day one

Reading time: 3 minutes

I recently bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers running “shoes” after reading about barefoot running on the Britmilfit website. I’m not currently doing Britmilfit, but have done over the last ten years and can thoroughly recommend it.

Today I was able to put a last minute client rescheduling to good use, and finally had a chance to get out and try these odd looking things out.

Will report back

In short…

  • yes, you do get some very odd looks – and not just from your kids
  • no, you don’t have to wear socks (though I may try some Injinji at some point)
  • yes, you can run on the pavements and road, but it’s much more pleasant on the paths in the parks
  • warm down, especially your calf muscles
  • people do not clean up after their dogs down Friern Road (pronounced as in Fry ‘n Laurie)


In more detail…

With a place for each toe, it’s an odd sensation putting them on, a bit like trying to put skiing gloves on your child – where you’re not totally in control of each digit.

I’ve worn them round the house a bit already. I was keen to get used to wearing them and to get used to people looking down and pointing at them (in this case, it was my three children, the 16-month old making the oddest noises of surprise).

You have to get used to not landing heavily on your heels, which are no longer have a thick rubber cushion. I thought this would feel odd, but it turns out that my instinct took over – probably in self-protection mode – and I found my running style altered itself fairly quickly.

Early morning a few Christmases ago in Dulwich Woods I’d popped my right ankle – audibly. It’s never been quite the same since, and I was definitely conscious of it running “barefoot”. But it wasn’t painful, it was just there.

On my way in to Dulwich Park I bumped in to local fitness trainer and Goodrich School Fun Run organiser Liz Stuart, and stopped for a brief chat. She reminded me of the need to get used to this new running style gently. I’m glad she did, or I might have been tempted to add in an extra lap of the horse track – which I’m sure I’d be paying for now.

Sure enough, I got some funny looks – bemusement, pity, derision, outright hilarity… so I was glad I’d trained for that.

I’d worried beforehand about sharp stones, glass, dog dirt. In fact I wasn’t convinced it would work at all running on the pavement. But pavement running is okay, and you just have to be a little more vigilent at spotting sharp or squashy hazards.

I kept my first run slow and on the short side – just shy of three miles. One hour later, after stretching down – particularly my calf muscles – I have a very slight burning sensation on the backs of my heels, and my ankle is still there. But generally I feel fine.


Following mentions of “intranet” on twitter

Reading time: 1 minute

As mentioned in a previous post, you can ask twitter to text message or instant message you whenever any term you’re interested in is mentioned in a tweet.

As well as tracking East Dulwich, I’ve been tracking a few others including “intranet”

It makes for some pretty interesting reading but was hard to share online until I came across Tweet Scan courtesy of David Sterry the other day.

It’s a twitter search tool with an RSS feed of your search results…

You can filter your search to individual people on Twitter or have it search the entire public timeline.

Also you can add the search to your browser’s dropdown list of search engines.

That’s mighty handy.

And through it I’ve found blogs by Anu Gupta and Jeremiah Owyang, which I’ve added to my intranet reading list.

Keeping up to date with East Dulwich on the internet: Part 4 – Delicious RSS feeds

Reading time: 3 minutes

This series of short articles explains some simple and free ways to use the internet to keep tabs on the subjects you’re interested in. I’m using East Dulwich as the example subject.

Previously: Part 1 – Google Alerts, Part 2 – Technorati Watchlists, Part 3 – Twitter tracking.

This article is about following Delicious bookmark tags using RSS.

In a nutshell: use your RSS reader to notify you whenever someone adds a bookmark to Delicious and tags it “eastdulwich


The website del.icio.us (pronounced as “delicious”) is a social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks. The site was founded by Joshua Schachter in late 2003, and was acquired by Yahoo! in 2005.
[Source: wikipedia]

Instead of using Firefox “Bookmarks” or “Favorites” (sic) in Internet Explorer, you can save URLs (web addresses) of the pages and sites you want to remember to your account on Delicious.

This means you can access your bookmarks wherever you go, rather than being tied to using the same computer.

You can also share your bookmarks, and see other people’s bookmarks. There is an optional setting to make any bookmark private.

When you save a bookmark you can add tags – or labels – to describe it, to make it easy to find and to group it with other similar bookmarks.

This also means that you can use delicious to track the tags you’re interested in.

There is an RSS feed available for all tags in delicious. Adding a tag’s feed to your RSS reader means you’ll be notified whenever your reader picks up a new item.

The page for all latest public bookmarks for East Dulwich is at http://del.icio.us/tag/eastdulwich, and the RSS feed at http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/eastdulwich.

As well as subscribing to feeds for tags you can also subscribe to feeds from people with accounts on delicious. My latest public bookmarks are at http://del.icio.us/beatnic and the RSS feed at http://del.icio.us/rss/beatnic

I have my own public delicious bookmarks automatically published to this website, resulting in posts with a title beginning “links for yyyy-mm-dd” (where yyyy-mm-dd is the date I saved the bookmarks).

Other social bookmarking websites are gaining in popularity – see this list on wikipedia – delicious is easy to use and one of the most popular, so should give a reasonable representation of what’s getting noticed on the web.

Keeping up to date with East Dulwich on the internet: Part 3 – Twitter tracking

Reading time: 3 minutes

In this series of short articles, I’m looking at different ways of subject-tracking on the internet.

Previous articles covered Google Alerts and Technorati Watchlists.

This article is about Twitter and its tracking feature, using East Dulwich as the example subject.


Twitter lets you share your thoughts with the world.

You can do this by text message (SMS), IM (instant messaging), via the Twitter website, or using a downloadable desktop application like Twitterific (Mac only).

Once you’ve set up your Twitter account you can start “tweeting” your updates. Sometimes called micro-blogging, it’s a bit like writing status updates in Facebook.

Your tweets will appear on your page on the Twitter website. My page is at http://www.twitter.com/beatnic and is public.

People who want to subscribe to your updates can become your “followers” – don’t worry it’s not as cultish as it sounds.

Your updates will appear on the Twitter public timeline. If you’d prefer not to be so public you can “protect” your updates – in this case people will need to request your permission to follow you.

If you’ve set yourself up with an RSS reader, you can add Twitter update feeds of the people you’re following.

People are using Twitter in all sorts of ways, including:

Twittervision is a mesmerising website showing what people are tweeting right now, and where they are in the world. It’s a mash-up of Twitter – using a feed from the public timeline – and Google maps.

Tracking subjects on Twitter

One of the features of Twitter is the ability to “track” subjects.

You can do this using by text message (SMS) and IM. At the moment, this is limited to text message (SMS) only. [thanks to Andrew M for the correction – see comments]

Text or instant message Track East Dulwich to Twitter. You will immediately recieve a confirmation message.

That’s it. You’ll now receive updates for any public Twitter update mentioning the subject/s your tracking.

If you’re logged in to IM your updates will be by instant message only. Your text message updates from Twitter will be switched off until you log out of IM.

To stop tracking a subject, send a text or instant message with the words Untrack East Dulwich. Again, Twitter will send you an immediate confirmation message.

The rate of updates will very much depend on the subject you choose and the timing.

I’ve received one update for East Dulwich in the last three days.

Last night I tracked England and Croatia and received about 300 texts!

Cost of using Twitter with SMS in the UK

Sending a text to Twitter costs your mobile phone company’s standard text-message rate – watch out if you’re with 3 or T-mobile, according to this article on TechCrunch uk:

Note also that the 07624 in Twitter’s number (+44 762 4801423) means it is actually billed as “international” by 3 and T-Mobile, making it a pricey service for those who like to tweet via SMS.

Receiving text updates from Twitter is free in the UK. In the United States you pay.

The same Techcrunch article suggests a newly added a UK limit of 250 incoming texts per week.

Keeping up to date with East Dulwich on the internet: Part 2 – Technorati Watchlists

Reading time: 3 minutes

How do you keep on top of everything everyone’s saying about East Dulwich, or any other subject, online?

In this series of short articles I’m going to run through a few things you can set up quickly and for free to follow what people are saying about the things you’re interested in. [Also in this series: Part 1 – Google Alerts, Part 3 – Twitter tracking, Part 4 – Delicious bookmark tags]

This article looks at Technorati Watchlists.

I’m using East Dulwich as an example, but you can do this for any number of subjects.

To get the most out of these tools and techniques, you’re best bet is to set yourself up with an RSS reader or aggregator. Don’t be put off if this sounds a bit geeky. The popular RSS readers are fairly intuitive to set up and free to use. For further information about RSS and how to set up a reader, see this page on the BBC website.

Technorati Watchlists

Set up a Watchlist on Technorati, and find out when somebody writes a blog post mentioning East Dulwich (or whichever subjects you choose). Currently Technorati tracks 112.8 million blogs on our behalf.

Technorati is a search engine which covers the “World Live Web” – a subset of the World Wide Web – and claims to be no more than 10 minutes out of date. Read more about how Technorati works here.

Setting up an account on Technorati is quick and free – look for the link titled “Join”. Once you have your account set up, here’s what you do:

  1. Visit the Technorati Watchlist page
  2. Enter your subject in the Add to your Watchlist box
  3. Hit the Add button.

That’s it. You’re now watching the “World Live Web” for the subject you entered.

To view an example of what a Watchlist looks like for East Dulwich, click on the thumbail image below.

Screenshot of Technorati Watchlist for East Dulwich

You now have 3 choices for keeping up to date with your Watchlist:

  • Bookmark the web address for your Technorati Watchlist
    This is not the most efficient method, as you’ll need to remember to visit fairly regularly to avoid missing anything.
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed for your Watchlist
    Using this method, your RSS reader does the work by regularly visiting your watchlist and looking for updates. Any new content will be listed in your RSS reader, a bit like new email in your inbox. Then you can scan this list in your reader whenever most convenient.
  • Subscribe to an RSS to email service
    If you’d rather not user an RSS reader, you can always have updates emailed to you. Technorati doesn’t offer this service, so you’ll need to use another website to do this for you. I’ve set up an account on FeedBlitz – I will review this separately, but so far it has not scored high on usability!

Is anyone blogging about you? Why not set up a Watchlist for your name.

Keeping up to date with East Dulwich on the internet: Part 1 – Google Alerts

Reading time: 2 minutes

How do you keep on top of everything everyone’s saying about East Dulwich, or any other subject, online?

In this series of short articles I’m going to run through a few things you can set up quickly and for free to follow what people are saying about the things you’re interested in.

This article looks at Google Alerts.

[Also in this series: Part 2 – Technorati Watchlists, Part 3 – Twitter tracking]

I’m using East Dulwich as an example, but you can do this for any number of subjects.

As well as for personal interest, these techniques are useful if you want to keep an eye on what people are writing about your industry, company, product, service, or your competition, not to mention your favourite sports team, tv programme, pop singer… So if you work in marketing, product development, corporate communication, the press office, public relations – to name but a few – take note.

Google alerts

Google Alerts is a service which emails you when it finds a new mention of your chosen subject.

So rather than you having to search for East Dulwich every now and then, you can get Google to do the searching for you.

You can have alerts sent to your preferred email address, but you’ll need a google account (free and quick to set up) if you want to edit and manage your alerts.

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Visit google alerts
  2. Type in the subject you want to track, e.g. East Dulwich or SE22
  3. Choose the type of search you’d like. The choices are news, blogs, video, web, groups or comprehensive (an aggregate of recent results)
  4. Select how often you’d like google to email you. The options are as it happens, once a day and once a week.

That’s it. Now you’ll never miss another mention of your chosen subject – as long as google picks it up of course.

You can set up as many alerts as you need.

The alerts are in the same format as the search results. They highlight where your subject is mentioned and link to the original source.