Monthly Archives: January, 2004

The Economist on Microsoft

[Original Link] Neil McIntosh quotes from the Economist’s leader about the problems with Microsoft:

“Isn’t this simply a matter of Microsoft competing vigorously? The strange thing is that its products invariably succeed in PC-based markets where the dominance of Windows provides an advantage… in other markets that have nothing to do with PCs, such as mobile phones, set-top boxes and games consoles, the company is far less successful. Odd, that.”

The new Director-General

[Original Link] A nice spoof…


[Original Link] Pilgrim Beart has a fascinating page about what it’s like to be colour-blind. As I read it, I was thinking that even that page doesn’t look the same to the author…


[Original Link] From Dan Gillmor’s blog:

Wikipedia Shows Power of Cooperation
Sometime in the next few days or weeks, one of the world’s most comprehensive online reference sites will publish its 200,000th article….
Wikipedia, an encyclopedia created and operated by volunteers, is one of the most fascinating developments of the Digital Age. In just over three years of existence, it has become a valuable resource and an example of how the grass roots in today’s interconnected world can do extraordinary things.

I agree. I’m a great fan of Wikipedia and have often found answers to questions there.


A 1 GB microdrive costs around £300. Apple’s new iPod Mini, which contains a 4 GB microdrive, costs around £140. There are rumours of people buying iPods, taking the microdrive and dumping the rest. Can’t be true, can it?

Sir Bill

[Original Link] John Naughton’s article in the Times on Bill Gates’ knighthood.

Je blog, donc je suis

C’est evident qu’il n’y a pas assez de blogs sur le web in Franglais. Recentement, c’est apparent que la phrase ‘Franglais’ est utilisé to refer to la variant de Francais spoken by certain des Quebequois. Mai pour beacoup de nous, c’est encapsulé primarily dans les livres humoureux de M. Miles Kington.

Maintenant, je croix, le jour est venu pour Franglais to make son vrai impact felt sur le multi-national medium de le web! Ecrivez votre blog en Franglais et reach encore de les gens online!

Les grands tenets of le online community doit etre translated au Franglais:

  • “Sur le internet, personne connait que vous etes un chien!”
  • “Libre software: ‘libre’ comme en ‘speech’, pas comme en ‘biere’!”

et il y a des autres sayings qui doit etre updated pour le nouveau monde de eFranglais:

  • Plus ca change, plus c’est reflected in the RSS feed
  • Voulez-vous Googler avec moi ce soir?

Looking back on the Mac

[Original Link] Richard Dawkins on his first experience of the Apple Macintosh.

Downloading isn’t stealing

[Original Link] From John Naughton’s weblog:

The NYT asked Aaron Schwartz to contribute a piece defending downloading. He wrote the piece, but apparently the Times chopped it (presumably the notion of someone arguing that downloading music was not unethical was a bit strong for that venerable organ). Anyway, Aaron’s unexpurgated piece is interesting. And it has some useful stats and references.

Scot Free

[Original Link]

Ever wonder where the phrase ‘getting off scot-free’ originated? What about ‘spick and span’?
These, and lots of other interesting linguistic origins can be found on Michael Quinion’s site.

Best of all, it has RSS feeds available…


One of the great tragedies of recent computing is that, in the midst of useful emerging standards for sharing information – vCalendar, RSS, WebDAV, IMAP etc, – we’ve ended up with LDAP (the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) as the standard way to access shared address books.

Don’t get me wrong, LDAP is powerful and is a great deal better than the X.500 standard from which it’s derived, but it’s just too hard to set up and administer for any organisation that isn’t a large corporation. And while most email programs and address books can query an LDAP server, almost none of them provide any way to update it. That’s assumed to be a job for the system administrator.

We need a much simpler, ideally XML-based, standard for publishing and subscribing to address books within small organisations or distributed groups. It wouldn’t be difficult to do – in the simplest model, your address book program would just read a vCard file on a web server every so often, cache a local copy, and allow you to search the contents. It would also allow you to publish all or part of your contacts to the site. People are sensitive about contact info, so some security would be needed – standard HTTP options should be fine.

In the meantime, if you do manage to get an LDAP server set up, the best thing I’ve come across for updating it is phpLDAPadmin.

Leaving Las Vegas

If there’s one word I would use to describe Las Vegas after my first visit, it’s ‘fake’. From the Venetian bridges to the voluptuous breasts, this is a town built primarily to pretend to be something it isn’t. That’s not to say that some of the fakes aren’t very well done – the half-size Eiffel tower at the Paris, the small section of the Grand Canal on the second floor of the Venetian, and, indeed, many of the breasts. (These, in contrast, tend to be larger than the real thing).

The hotels are vast, and include sufficient restaurants, shops, streets that you hardly need to leave them at all, which is, no doubt, the idea. Some of them, such as the Bellagio, would be quite superb if they weren’t spoiled by acres of garish and sometimes noisy slot machines, which deprive them of all dignity. Interestingly, most of these seemed not to be much used, which may mean they’ve gone out of fashion, but is probably an indication that during the week of the Consumer Electronics Show, most people aren’t primarily there to gamble. Or that the ridiculously high prices of hotel rooms that week are not appealing to those who only gamble at the slot-machine level.

Las Vegas is a place that everyone should visit once, if only to see how low we can fall, but that nobody should be made to visit twice. The thing that keeps the whole thing in proportion is the fact that from the main ‘strip’ you can sometimes get glimpses of the spectacular mountains in the distance, the beginning of some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery on earth, which reminded me that in the overall scale of things, the city is a comparatively small blot on the landscape.

Zion National park, a few hours’ drive from Vegas

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser