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Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

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Not Photo Post Of The Week

In which we don’t have many photos, but do have some of the latest guided busway gossip

Back in August, we went away to Cornwall. As you’d expect, I took the camera, and took hundreds and hundreds of photos. They slowly went online – very slowly, because I’m impatient, and it takes a long time to upload photos when each one weighs about 4Mb.

Moreover, a few weeks after we got back from Cornwall, we moved house; and after we moved house, we were offline for about two months whilst we argued with various broadband providers whether our flat really existed or not. All that time, we were out taking more photos, which slowly built up. As a result, when we did finally get online, I had a rather large backlog of photos to deal with. Plenty of photos for me to upload 30-35 photos per week, and post the best few on here every Friday.

800-odd photos later, though, the end is in sight. I’m still working on the photos from the Easter weekend, but after that, that’s about it. The backlog is over, and I’m going to be putting photos up within a few days of taking them. Which leaves Photo Post Of The Week a little stuck, without the regular flow to pick the best of. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. Do I return to it when I have more to show, or do I go back and post here photos that I took months or years back? I’m still trying to decide. Maybe it will just be replaced, with a sign like this:

Sign, Bedminster

In the meantime, there have been more Bristol Guided Busway developments following my most recent post on the topic. Chris Hutt yesterday published “At Last, The Truth” about the history of the West of England Partnership’s plans for Prince St Bridge, and Bristol Traffic has pointed out that their plans to replace the Bristol-Bath Cycle Path with a buses-only road are still marked out clearly on their maps despite being tactfully edited out of the text, which merely mention their aspiration to build an Ashton-Emersons Green route one day. Personally, I think Chris is being a tad optimistic as to whether he’s discovered the truth and the whole truth, as you could say, but we’re certainly closer to it than we’d be if we were relying on the West of England Partnership’s own somewhat misleading and vague publications and press releases.

Recent search requests

In which we wonder what people are searching for

More things, around the interwebs, that people have been looking for…

the deirdres are a rather good band from Derby – see here.
photo enlargement 99p – it does sound like a bit of a bargain rate. Unless, of course, you want to enlarge a photo of 99p, which is possible too.
unexplained black moods aren’t very nice, but if they’re that unexplained I’m not sure there’s very much you can do.
emo kids handcuffs – I have a lovely picture in my head, now, of emo kids handcuffed to street furniture in all their hang-outs – outside the art gallery in Exchange Square in Glasgow; outside the Corn Exchange* in Leeds, and so on. I wholeheartedly endorse this idea. Come on, people, together we can make it a reality.
triangle sidings are the London Underground sidings in South Kensington, in the basement of the Cromwell Road Sainsburys, where the air terminal used to be. More information, and photos, here.
chocolate coins left at doorstep – I don’t remember ever mentioning this, or anything of the sort. But if anyone does want to leave some chocolate coins on my doorstep, then, please, feel free to!
cara page journalist. Cara Page was, the last I heard, writing for the Daily Record. She’s infamous – at least in certain circles – for writing “exposés” about the sex lives of fairly boring and ordinary people, such as a charity shop worker from Peebles. None of it is “newsworthy” in any conventional sense of the word, but tabloid editors still strongly believe that a bit of Carry On-style tame dirtiness sells papers. Sadly, that’s all I know about her. And that, I think, is probably enough search requests for now.

* Now there’s a name that’s always puzzled me a little. “Hello, my dear sir, I’d like to swap this corn, if you may. For … erm … some different corn?”

The Unconnected

In which we bear bad news

Breaking bad news to people is always hard to do. Even if it’s something as mundane as a dead computer. I took a quick look at a machine one of the staff had brought in from home, in my lunch break; it’s vitally important she gets it working again, apparently, because it’s got all her daughter’s schoolwork on it, and they have to have a computer now to do all their assignments on.* It only needed a quick look to show that it’s not coming back to life. Its hard disk is almost certainly now a former hard disk, with no hope of getting her homework back.** But how do I tell her?

Latest addition to my RSS reader: Bad Archaeology. The navigation is a bit awkward, and their “latest news” page doesn’t seem to get archived, but there’s some very good stuff in there, if, like me, you would love to try poking members of the Erich von Däniken Fan Club with long pointy sticks. Their latest article is on King Arthur, as an example of what happens when you set out to prove a point, and try to use archaeology to do that. I’m tempted to write something longer about exactly that, soon.

In other news: I’ve been listening to Phoebe Kreutz lately. Her songs make me smile, and make me want to listen to more of her songs. So that has to be a good thing. Hurrah for good things!

* I’m not sure I believe that. This isn’t a rich town, and there must be many many children in the area whose parents don’t have a PC.

** A normal boot sequence halts with “Non-system disk or disk error”, which, if your other drives are all empty, is never a good sign. A Linux boot CD finds the hard disk, prints out lots of nasty disk hardware errors, and then says it can’t read the partition table. Not good, not at all.

Percentages

In which we make some numbers up

According to Martijn, 47% of all blog posts consist of links to other blogs.*

Well, according to new research by the FP Militant Invective Laboratories, an entire 0.3% of current blog posts consist of links to blog posts about the proportion of blog posts which just consist of links to other blogs.

No, really. Honest. No, I didn’t just pull that number out of thin air. What sort of person do you think I am?**

* well, actually, he made it up. But it could be true.

** Oh, OK, I did really. But you never know.

Tasty

In which we look forward to a delicacy

Science news of the week: scientists have finally invented an odourless breed of durian, the tropical fruit which is popular in the East Indies, but entirely impossible to obtain in Britain. It smells like a potent mix of vomit and custard, and is banned from the cargo holds of every airline because of that. In Malaysia, several people are killed by durian every year, not because of the smell, but because they are large, spiky, and grow high up in trees. My former Malaysian flatmate would send me news clippings about deaths rising at the start of each durian season. Note to European publishers: start getting those durian recipe books ready now!

Sleeping satellite

In which we notice that Google Maps is a step back in time

Google Maps has recently, it seems, spread its high-resolution satellite coverage over much more of the UK than before.* It now covers, for the first time, this part of the world.

I spent quite a while looking at various places around the area, seeing what I could spot; and it quickly became obvious that even though Google have only uploaded the pictures recently, they’re not new pictures. I asked around the office for advice, and as far as we can tell, the pictures are four or five years old. The new cinema next to the Boating Lake is, on Google, an empty field. My car isn’t anywhere to be seen, because I didn’t have a car back then. Wee Dave spotted his own car, outside his old house.** Various other buildings haven’t been built, or are still there on the pictures having been knocked down a few years ago. It’s intriguing; and I can’t help wondering just how Google picks its areas to upload, and if it’s been sitting on these tiles since Google Maps UK first started.

* Thanks to Martijn for mentioning it, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed

** actually, he spotted “the one that the missus wrote off a few years ago”

Here be dragons

In which we wish for the return of something from childhood

In the news today: the BBC says that Moira Stuart definitely has to retire, as they get rid of newsreaders and replace them with Proper Journos. Personally, I still believe Stuart‘s best days were spent in dragon form – maybe if the news doesn’t want her, then that will return instead. Well, we can hope.

On sucking

In which we discuss some design flaws in Lotus Notes

Spent quite a while last night reading Lotus Notes Sucks***, a collection of reasons why, as you could probably guess, Lotus Notes sucks. I have to use the thing at work every day, and it is indeed truly awful; but I didn’t really like the site. It lists 80-something superficial bad things about Lotus Notes, without listing any of the truly awful things about it.

Aside from the slightly smug nature of the site – every entry on it ends with “Conclusion: Lotus Notes Sucks”, repeated over and over again with the subtlety of a 10-ton cartoon weight – it’s written solely from the point of view of someone who uses Lotus Notes purely as an email program. That is, to be fair, probably what most people use it for; but that’s not what it is. It’s really a generic NoSQL non-relational database and data-sharing program that has been shoehorned into an email mould, and doesn’t properly fit. So, all the complaints are fairly trivial ones, and a lot boil down to: “it’s slightly different to Outlook”.

There are some true horrors inside Lotus Notes, if you ever have to do any programming or development work with it. The help files, for example, are all just specialised Notes data stores with a suitable interface on the front. This is completely fine, right up until you have a buggy bit of program code that you want to step through in the debugger.* If you’re running something in the debugger, you can’t access any other Notes data. Which, stupidly, includes the help files. Programmers have no access at all to the help files at the very time they’re most likely to need it.

There are other horrible things too. Things go wrong in unfixable ways. Files can mysteriously corrupt themselves and be unrepairable. If a file is deleted, shortcuts to it can become undeletable. If you accidentally delete half your email and ask your IT people to recover it from a backup, then unless IT knows the necessary cunning tricks,** when you open the backup copy of your mail file Notes will happily go “aha! this is the same datastore, but it’s out of date!” and delete everything in the backup too. Oh, joy. Lotus Notes Sucks doesn’t even mention some non-programming problems that I thought were obvious: you can’t search for empty fields, for example. You can search for documents where Field X contains “wibble”, no problem, but you can’t search for documents where Field X is blank. Well, you can do it if you’re a programmer and you write some code to do it for you, but there’s no way to trick the normal search interface into doing it.

In short, Lotus Notes is a horrible can of worms which will trip you up whenever you try to do something the programmers didn’t think of. So it’s a shame that Lotus Notes Sucks finds so many trivial surface-level problems with the email part of the program, when if you try to do more than just email with it, there are so many deeper faults lurking under the surface.

* Don’t worry if you don’t understand this. It means: run the program one line at a time so you can spot the point where it all goes wrong leading to your program falling over.

** Which we do, the second time someone does it, of course

*** Update, 27th August 2020: the site I originally linked to here has sadly disappeared.

Old standby

In which we still know what you're looking for

As I haven’t done it for a while – stop sniggering at the back there – it’s time for Recent Search Requests.

neverwhere – look here, or possibly here.
have you tried turning it off and on again poster – if you give me ten minutes I’m sure I could knock one up
symptoms of hypoxia in dog – I’d imagine they’re fairly similar to the symptoms in humans – irritability, aggression, light-headedness, inability to concentrate, and eventually fainting.
movie shoot on millennium bridgeI took a photo, but beyond that I know nothing
public domain sailing ship images – sorry, none of those here.
british railways sign font – you’re probably after either Gill Sans or Rail Alphabet.
bagpiping sexual practise – I really have no idea. Does it involve horrible screechy noises, and men in skirts? Or is it related to teabagging? The mind boggles.
angel london underground strawberry beer – see, despite staying near The Angel recently, I still don’t know any pubs round there that sell it. Better do some fieldwork, I think.
Takin’ Over The Asylum was the classic BBC Scotland drama series starring Ken Stott and David Tennant, back before he was famous. It really was very good indeed, and I wish I could see it again some time.
naked norfolk girl – that’s definitely enough search requests for today, I think.