Tag Archives: radio 4

My interview on Radio 4 about spam, 3 years ago

The interview (MP3 file) is here.

Just over 3 years ago, I was interviewed by Eddie Mair for the iPM programme on Radio 4 about spam.

This happened because I used to have a spam archive, collecting every spam email I had received since c.1997. I don’t exactly know how the interview came about — I was just contacted on the morning of the interview by a researcher from Radio 4. But being a big fan of the BBC of course I was happy to come in to London and talk to them.

I expected to be in a studio discussion, perhaps with others, but that wasn’t quite how it happened. About an hour after I arrived, I was shuffled into a small booth and connected up to Eddie who was “on the line” in some other London studio. Nevertheless we had a conversation about spam and other things. What was finally broadcast was heavily edited and condensed down to about 4 minutes, from an original which must have been 10 minutes or more.

I still to this day collect every email — spam or otherwise — that I receive, but I no longer put them online because that caused all sorts of problems. My total mail archive is 11 gigabytes, of which 7.5 gigabytes is classified as spam [note this is just a “du” of various compressed files]. The earliest spam is from Oct 2 1997 (an advert for “Teeth Bleaching and Whitening”), and the latest is almost certainly from about 1 minute ago, whenever you are reading this posting.

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A History of the World in 100 MP3 files

The BBC’s series a history of the world in 100 objects which I mentioned previously has finished.

You still can’t easily download all the MP3 files from the website in a useful way, eg. as a ZIP or tarball, but I processed their RSS feed to get the raw URLs and with a simple shell loop and wget you can grab them easily.

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BBC Radio 4 “Costing the Earth” on working from home

Tricky program about whether working from home makes sense from an environmental point of view.

On iPlayer here or directly download the MP3.

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A History of the World in 100 MP3 files

Radio 4 is running a brilliant series called A History of the World in A Hundred Objects. However should you wish to download this series so you can listen to it a convenient place and time, how should you do it? Certainly not through the over-complex official website that’s for sure.

But with some shell script you can grab the MP3 files and listen to this wonderful educational series at your pleasure:

while [ $i -le $e ]; do
  date=$(printf "%04d%02d%02d" $y $m $d)
  for x in a c; do
    for y in 1000 1005; do
      wget -nc http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/ahow/ahow_$date-$y$x.mp3
  if [ $m -eq 1 ]; then
  elif [ $m -eq 2 ]; then
  elif [ $m -eq 3 ]; then
  elif [ $m -eq 4 ]; then
  if [ $d -eq $endm ]; then


A reader has pointed me to the full list of MP3 (podcast) files available from the BBC.


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