Monthly Archives: May, 2002


[Original Link] This is being posted with Chimera – a new Mozilla-based browser for Mac OS X. It’s still only an alpha release and has crashed a couple of times for me, but it’s impressive none the less. In particular, it’s very fast, and very pretty; the latter not being something I normally associate with Mozilla. The font rendering is quite superb, making good use of OS X’s facilities. I’ve also successfully used it to check both of my online banking accounts, a test which often beats many new browsers. In the long run, I suspect Mozilla may be more important as a base on which people build custom platform-specific browsers than as an application in its own right.

Intriguing search engine

[Original Link] John Naughton pointed me at this. I haven’t worked out whether it’s much use yet, but it’s quite fun.

[Update – it’s now at]

The cult of connectivity –

[Original Link] This article is about our inability to leave work behind when we go on holiday, but I was strcuk by the assertion that “less than 30 percent of Americans have a passport”.

This struck me as shocking initially, but I suppose a fair comparison here is asking not how many people in the UK have left their country, but asking how many Europeans have left their continent. I suspect the figure might be lower.

The cult of connectivity –

[Original Link] This article is about our inability to leave work behind when we go on holiday, but I was strcuk by the assertion that “less than 30% of Americans have passports”.


Yesterday we went to see “The Closet”, a film with Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu. I haven’t laughed so much for quite a while. I generally enjoy French films, but because they’re stylish, bizarre, clever or unusual. I don’t usually expect them to be funny. At least, not intentionally. And certainly not this funny. Highly recommended.

It’s great being back

[Original Link] In July last year I wrote a piece entitled How I survived the move from Palm to Windows CE. I’ve just updated it with a section on why I moved back to the Palm.

In Europe, Going Global Means, Alas, English

[Original Link] New York Times article. How the French must love a phrase like “using English as their lingua franca” !


While we’re on the subject of the new Star Wars film, the place where Anakin and Amidala go for their romantic interludes is the Villa Balbianello on Lake Como in Italy.

Not so many Jedi around when I took this. In the film they’ve added some islands and stuck a couple of extra towers to the buildings of the villa, presumably to make it less recognisable. But these flowers give it away.

Star Wars and all that Jazz

I’m not a real jazz fan. I know this because, despite liking a lot of the more popular jazz music, in the end I like to hear a tune. I have occasionally heard a piece on the radio and wondered what it was, only to be told by the announcer afterwards that it was “Oh When The Saints” or something similar, rendered almost unrecognisable by the (very technically accomplished) twiddly-widdly variations on the basic theme. Don’t get me wrong; there is a plenty of very tuneful jazz, but there is also a great deal that would mean little to somebody unfamiliar with the tunes on which it is based. In that sense it is a rather derivative art form.

I’m not a real Star Wars fanatic either. I know this because my seeing the latest episode last night, on its opening day in the UK, was not dependent on my having booked it weeks in advance but on my friends suddenly having a spare ticket.

I was hesitant about watching it after the great disappointment that was The Phantom Menace. In that episode, I felt, the technical wizardry and the twiddly-widdly variations on the original ‘tune’ were not enough to make up for the lack of a simple, coherent plot and the immensely annoying Jar-Jar Binks character. In this new episode, I think they are.

There are many weak points in “Attack of the Clones”, of course. I’m not convinced about either Anakin or Amidala’s acting abilities, but perhaps that’s deliberate homage to the original. Their son Luke won’t turn out to be much of an actor either. And the critics have laid into it with great gusto. Roger Ebert, in the Chicago Sun-Times, says: “[A] technological exercise that lacks juice and delight. The title is more appropriate than it should be.”

But nobody would really expect the critics to like a fifth-in-a-series film of this type, especially one that was likely to be popular. I thought that it was visually absolutely stunning and had some interesting, if occasionally rather heavy-handed, references to the original. It also had a few jokes which showed it wasn’t taking itself too seriously. Overall, a very enjoyable evening. But I don’t think it would mean much to somebody who didn’t know the tune already.

Will Watson Make Web Browsers Obsolete?

[Original Link] I hope they mean this rhetorically. I started to write about the success of the web being largely due to its provision of a single user interface to replace the previous melee of gopher, ftp, wais, news etc. Programs such as Watson, by trying to return to this world, were therefore taking a backward step.

But then I realised I needed to think a bit more about this, because if I really believed it I would always use a webmail system instead of a dedicated mail client. That led to other thoughts. Mmm. Will write more when I’ve chewed it for a while…

Who’s picking up the Bill?

[Original Link] An article in the Guardian about some of the recent goings-on here in Cambridge.

Looking back, looking forward

Over the last couple of days I’ve been moving from the now-deceased AT&T Labs Cambridge into the University of Cambridge Computer Lab, a reversal of the move I made 6 years ago, though the Computer Lab is now in its shiny new building. Very strange going back – many familar faces in a completely unfamiliar environment.

It’s exciting, too, though. One of the aims of my new company, Ellipsian, is to be very closely tied to the University and to find new ways for University projects and expertise to influence the outside world. And vice versa. We’re already starting to see some interesting possibilities…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser