May 2006 Archives

RSS feeds for categories

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Incidentally, I've now added RSS feeds to each of the categories in this blog, so you'll know when I've added to them. In particular, there's now a Highbury feed, so you'll know whenever there's been an update (not that there'll be many more, I suspect).

Well, it's one way to get more people to speak Welsh, isn't it?

Still, given the teen pregnancy rates in Wales, isn't the advice a bit superfluous? This may sound like a joke, but this conversation really happened to my (Welsh) wife when she was back in Wales just before we got married:

Person: “Oh, you're getting married then? When's the baby due?”
My wife: “It's not”
Person: “Oh there's posh then!”

Interesting piece on Slate about phages - viruses that attack bacteria. They're available in the former Soviet Union over the counter and could prove the answer to increasing immunity to antibiotics. I think I remember reading about them in a book about the former SU's biowarfare programme, so they're not making it up...

I wondered how long it would be before Christopher Hitchens picked up on George Galloway's suggestion that assassinating Tony Blair wouldn't be all bad...

Cursed Linux

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Nearly killed my new iMac last weekend. I'd just got everything running nicely, including Windows, when I had a 'bright' idea. “Why don't I install Linux onto that extra partition I reserved for it.

Bad idea.

Bloody Gentoo wiped the partition map and I spent about 48 hours having to recover everything. I got everything back but that was a pain in the arse in spade.

So my new resolution is this: never have anything to do with Linux unless it's going to be installed in a virtualised environment that can't do anything bad. I've never yet had a good experience with Linux and somehow I don't see that changing...

From today's Poynter Institute email:

Conventional wisdom states that news sites must update to attract readers. Well, quite the opposite happened on Norway's site Bergens Tidendes ( this week.

Instead of giving heavy coverage to the recent Scandinavian Big Brother finale (in Swedish), decided that an ultra-short and to-the-point article (in Norwegian) would suffice -- adding that they probably would not be updating.

It was an obvious attempt to distance the site from a TV concept seen by many as vulgar and lowbrow.

The whole article reads: “Jessica won Big Brother. Jessica is 21 years old and comes from Kalmar. The first prize is one million Kroner. probably won't come back with more.”

In a world gone reality crazy, the article was a little reminder of what's news and what's not, so it became something of a phenomenon in Norway this week. After having been e-mailed between friends and referred in other media, it attracted 25.000 readers during Tuesday, according to NA24 Propaganda (Norwegian). That kind of readership is usually reserved for much bigger stories and happenings on Bergens Tidendes.

Says Bergens Tidendes news editor Anne Gjerde: “We have never had so many readers for such a short article.”

Remnant to float on AIM

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Remnant Media, which acquired various titles from Highbury through its subsidiary, SMD Publishing, is to float on alternative stock exchange AIM, according to The Guardian. For SMD watchers, there are a few interesting nuggets about the two companies' financial stability.

Move Heathrow?!

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Heathrow airportI'm all for environmentally friendly ideas, but I think they need to be practical. If they're not, environmentalists are going to get laughed at and ignored. So well done to this particular urban planning charity, which has come up with the entirely feasible concept of moving Heathrow airport to the east of London. That doesn't make greens look stupid at all. Oh no.

Travel is stressful

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It's not fun, driving down the motorway. There's the monotony, the roadworks, the constant risk of falling asleep (bet you're looking forward to driving behind me). Case in point: yesterday. It took us seven hours to get home from Swansea, a trip that normally takes four and a half hours or so. You see, there'd been a really nasty accident on the M4 that closed down junctions 17-19. So we ended up diverted to the middle of nowhere and it took us two hours to get to junction 17 from junction 18 via Cirencester. Not good.

The first services we came to, we stopped. 10.30pm and most places should have been shut. But Burger King was very nicely keeping itself open past the point it should have closed. It was doing that to help out us and all the people like us had been stuck on the motorway.

What was their reward? Abuse. Abuse because they didn't have enough food of the right variety. Abuse for the whole motorway incident. No good deed goes unpunished, huh?

Stress is understandable. Taking it out on people who are trying to help you isn't. So thanks Membury services Burger King staff. Thanks for helping us out. And all you nasty people who abused them: shame on you!

Just been reading the latest issue of Private Eye. Found a story about Barking's BNP situation. Turns out one of the councillors is called “Robert Buckley”. How much did I need that? Precisely not at all. And the thing is, now I've written about it, I'm going to get all the Google hits for him. Curses.

Couple of interesting book reviews on the New Statesman web site. The first, Where The Truth Lies, looks at the relationship between journalists and PRs, while the second, How Language Works, looks at the nature of language.

You just don't hear the pro-pollution argument very often, do you?

Guardian Unlimited's assistant editor Neil McIntosh says freelances should blog if they want to be noticed. I get the feeling he means freelances should blog well, because I'm not going much attention as a result of this blog... ;-)

Rubbish British dentistry

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The New York Times indulges in a popular American pastime - pointing out how rubbish British dentistry is. Personally, I think asking a bunch of English pensioners about dental hygiene is going to give you an unrepresentative impression of British teeth, but many of the points hit home.

Congratulations to Martin

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A friend of mine, Martin, has managed to escape from journalism after nearly a decade at the grindstone. So a quick shout of congratulations to him as he makes his way over to the writing team of Emmerdale. Good luck, Martin!

New iMac's arrived

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My new iMac Dual Core arrived yesterday. My old iMac was about three and a half years old and lacking modern features that were actually forcing me to turn down work, so it was about time for an upgrade: I'll be handing my old one over to my sister, so at least it's going to a good home.

There has, of course, been a lot of fuss about being able to install Windows XP on the new iMacs, with many asking the not entirely invalid question, “Who would want to do that?” Well, I would. In fact, I'm going to try to get Linux running on it as well. Why? Because I have to write about Macs, Windows and Linux. Take two computers into my front room? No, I just want to triple boot and go...

Not very useful list

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I'm sure there's a reason why icWales has posted a list of celebrities who are afraid of flying. It just escapes me for now.

A US government report shows what we should all know: immigrants are a good thing, whether they're illegal or legal.

UPDATE: also has a piece about an official report explaining why migrants are a good thing for countries.

I've finally released the beta of the next version of SCHWIF2004, my handy utility for creating complex HTML messages in Entourage. There's a few improvements:

  • Added support for background images referenced using attributes in the body tag or in stylesheets
  • Fixed a problem with Exchange server address books following previous Entourage update
  • Improved the documentation slightly
  • Added a warning for pre OS X 10.3 users

Grab it over at the SCHWIF2004 page.

I finally got my lazy arse into gear and uploaded week one of the Teach Yourself Instant Italian Teach Yourself Instant Italian flashcards to the site. Grab them when you're ready.

I got summoned for jury service recently. It couldn't have come at a busier time so I asked for it to be postponed to January. I was expecting all sorts of bureaucratic resistance, autocratic refusal (“you'll come when we tell you to come!”) and so on.

Instead, I got a nice little letter yesterday, accepting my request for postponement and giving me a date in January to turn up. Now how good is that? So I'd like to thank those nice jury service people for being so helpful and obliging. God bless you all.

McDonald's gets a whole heap of bad press, doesn't it? There's the world famous McLibel trial, news that its food contains 'transfat' or something and the big dispute about McJobs. Then there were those awful 'Sex and the City' ads, and their desperate attempts to convince us that their salads and sandwiches are healthy alternatives, despite being crammed to the top with battered chicken. I could go on, but we all have a range of McDonald's stories locked in our memories that make us shudder already: you don't need me to remind you of them.

So it's good to see a positive article on McDonald's for once. In this case, one of Spiked's good writers explains why everyone's 'favourite' fast food chain is absolutely perfect for autistic kids. It's actually quite heart-warming.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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