Monthly Archives: June, 2004

A stitch in time.

My Nokia 6600 takes pretty poor photos. But you can have fun if you
take several and stitch them together. This was done with my Nokia and
the rather good ‘PhotoStitch’ program that shipped with a friend’s
Canon camera:


Oh, and talking of Troy, what’s this pronunciation of Menelaus as ‘Mennalouse’? Is it a Hollywood fad, or is it what they teach in schools now as well? I’m still recovering from the loss of Boadicea…

Past my peak

Sir Tim Rice on the radio this morning:

We have youthful enthusiasm, which declines as we get older, and experience, which increases. The two lines on the graph cross at about 31 – that’s when we’re at our best!

Tale of Troy Divine

Seeing the recent film Troy reminded me of a poem that came to me by a roundabout route. It was originally published in Hymers School magazine in about 1900; close to the time of the Paris Exhibition, hence the reference in the poem. I don’t know the original author.

The Tale of Troy Divine

Fashionable wedding
Present Upper Ten
Gods in Olympus
Making merry, when
Woman discontented
Thought it rather hard
She for festive function
Hadn’t had a card;
So upon the table,
Breaking up the meal,
Threw a golden apple
Legend on the peel
“Present for the fairest”;
Each exclaimed, “That’s I”.
Maids were far from modest
In the days gone by.

Dwelt a little shepherd
Near the town of Troy,
Paris, son of Priam,
Artless kind of boy.
Him they made an umpire.
Held a Beauty Show
Candidates selected
Seated in a row:
Venus, Queen of Beauty,
Juno, Heaven’s queen,
Third and last, Minerva
Stocking blue I ween.
Each essayed to charm him,
Winked a tempting eye;
All was fair in contest
In the days gone by.

Venus was the victrix –
Easy to surmise –
Fairest wife in Hellas
Promised for the prize.
“Just the thing,” thought Paris,
“Greecewards I’ll be bound,
Visit Menelaus,
Have a look around.”
Helen was his hostess,
Very fair to see
“Fairest wife in Hellas?
Just the wife for me!”
Tickets taken Troywards
Fugitive they fly.
That’s the way they did it
In the days gone by.

Damages substantial
Menelaus sought.
Warriors in thousands
Hurried to his court.
All about the verses
Running you may read –
What a nasty temper
Young Achilles had!
Read a book by HOMER
Called the Iliad.
Ten long years encamping
Troy to take they try;
Sieges were protracted
In the days gone by.

How at last they took it
You will know, of course.
Wily man Ulysses
Built his wooden horse.
Strange the tricks “Invention’s
Foster Mother” finds!
Heroes crawl inside it
Pulling down the blinds.
Sighted from the ramparts
Troubles now begin
Horse and Greeks and Trojans
All are taken in.
Fire and sword and slaughter
Doughty Dardans die –
Slimness was successful
In the days gone by.

Interesting moral
Such a tale affords;
Paris Exhibitions?
Frequently are frauds.
Gentle maidens, should you
Golden apples find,
Never read the legend
Written on the rind.
Gentlemen, in choosing
Partners for your life,
Choose a maid or widow
Rather than a wife.
Meddle not with horses,
That’s the reason why
Trouble took the Trojans
In the days gone by.

Thoughts on GMail

[Original Link] Brad Templeton has some thoughts on Google’s planned new webmail service.

Useful Mac hint of the day

One of my favourite Emacs keystrokes which made its way into bash and is now supported in most places in Mac OS X is Ctrl-T. It transposes the two letters around the cursor. This is one of my most common typos, and it’s very handy, if I accidentally type ‘tihs’, to put the cursor between the i and the h and press Ctrl-T.

What the well-dressed man is wearing

[Original Link]

It seems patently obvious to me that the most sensible place to carry a cellphone is on my belt. However, I have to admit that doing so is not likely to reinforce my reputation for sartorial elegance. I’m not enough of a geek to be impervious to the scoffing glances of others, but too much of a geek to wear a jacket on a regular basis that would cover the phone up. So I need to find an alternative before people start asking, “Is that a Bluetooth-enabled tri-band Nokia with embedded camera and hi-res colour screen in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?”

I started to think about other ways I could carry my phone, and thought I had hit on a good solution. A New York company got there before me.

iPod your BMW

[Original Link] The latest accessory for the iPod is a BMW.

Segways and iBots

While I’ve now seen several Segways, I still don’t own one. This may mean that I’m gaining a certain amount of sanity in my old age, because there’s no doubt that I’d like one. This is partly because I love toys, but mostly because I think it a beautiful bit of engineering. Three years ago, I met Dean Kamen at a conference where he was demonstrating his balancing ‘iBot‘ wheelchair – the predecessor to the Segway – and I thought it one of the most inspiring examples of engineering I’ve ever seen.

It can balance on two wheels and is incredibly stable. The idea is that people in wheelchairs shouldn’t have to be lower than everybody else. It can go up stairs, too. iBots are expensive, though – at $29,000 they cost more than a nice car – and I’ve heard that it was partly the desire to reduce the cost of the technology that made Dean think of a mass-market product like the Segway.

Travelling right

Just back from an exhausting whirlwind tour of the States. Meetings all over the place, many at short notice.

London – Atlanta – Seattle – San Francisco – Portland – Seattle – L.A. – Cincinatti – London
in one week. Admittedly, my knowledge of Cincinatti only covers gates B10-B23, but it was still a lot to squeeze in. We were lugging heavy demo kit around with us as well.

Quite apart from the exertion, I don’t like travelling that way. Some of those cities I know well, but for others this was my first visit, and it seems somehow disrespectful to be in Atlanta, with all its history, or Portland, with its mountains and coastlines, and see nothing more than a conference center or airport hotel.

I’ll have to go back. In the meantime, it’s good to be home.

EasyJet humour

[Original Link] When you’ve been running a blog for a few years, one of the advantages is that if you don’t have anything particularly inspiring to say, you can point back to how interesting your life was a couple of years ago.

This is a perfectly respectable process, I think; most media indulge in it in some shape or form – replaying golden oldies, running “Where are they now?” articles, etc

But I wasn’t saying anything very interesting two years ago, either, so this post is about something I found amusing then. A friend of John Naughton’s made some notes on an EasyJet flight. John put them on his blog, and I pointed to them on mine. Perhaps my nostalgia is getting a little too vicarious!


Yesterday, my father (in England) called my father-in-law (in the US) to thank him for his part in keeping Britain free 60 years ago. I’m ashamed that it never occurred to me to do the same.

May those of us who are so ready to criticise what America has done since Vietnam never forget what it did beforehand.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser