Monthly Archives: August, 2004

The Butler report

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I’m not a great sports-watcher, but I did see the women’s 10,000m final and was very annoyed by the BBCs unswerving devotion to Paula Radcliffe, who didn’t even bother to finish her race. They seemed to think it was just fine that she should give up when she realised she wasn’t going to get a medal. I call it very bad sportsmanship. I think if you start a race, you should finish it, even if you come last. She certainly wasn’t in a state of extreme exhaustion; she simply decided it wasn’t worth it.

I also felt very sorry for Kathy Butler, who came about 10th but ran a good race, and who actually finished, and who was almost completely ignored by the commentators. It’s not as if we have such a plentiful supply of athletes that we can afford to ignore them. Anyway, I appreciated this Times article by Giles Smith.

Thanks for the LibDem-ory

The more time I spend in the States, especially in the run-up to an election, the more grateful I am for the UK’s Liberal Democrat party. Not because I expect them to win many seats, nor even because I’m likely to vote for them, but because I think having a third party is immensely important.

  • It reduces the extreme ‘us or them’ polarisation that we see in the US.
  • It means that most policy decisions are not simply black and white; and when there are only two options on a particular topic, you’ve got an odd number of entities and hence a two-to-one split rather than simply ‘my word against yours’
  • A ‘central’ party starts to become attractive if either of the others goes too far to the left or right; this keeps them in check
  • It allows for greater movement of voters. It’s much easier to feel that you’re moving a bit in one direction or the other than to ‘cross over to the opposition’

Cultural Gaffs

[Original Link] This ZDNet leader asks about how the US political situation may be harming Microsoft. There are some wonderful examples of small cultural slips having big bad results in this quoted article.


An NYT article today quotes Tina Fey, “Let us not forget the brave Halliburton executives that stormed Baghdad…”

Linksys Network Storage Link

[Original Link] This looks like a nice home-backup solution.

The benefits of an unusual name.

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I’m back on page one! Of what, you ask? Of a Google search for ‘Quentin’, of course. I used to have a regular position on the first page but those fellows Tarantino and Crisp have been getting a lot of attention recently.

I notice, with envy, that my pal John Naughton is not only on page one of the ‘Naughton’ results, but he has first place! And third place! I can only dream of such fame.


A while ago, I replaced a Windows NT Server machine belonging to some friends with a basic Dell machine running Redhat. They’re only really using it as a file and DHCP server, but I’m pleased to see that it’s about 9 months since the last reboot:

[qsf@master qsf]$ uptime
 11:56pm  up 266 days, 11:56,  2 users,  load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

Launchers for OS X

I’ve written here before about my fondness for LaunchBar, and more recently I’ve also been trying

These are handy utilities which speed things up for those who, while appreciating Mac OS X, don’t necessarily want to reach for the mouse, click on the Finder, go to Applications and then Utilities to find what we want. It’s not really any worse than Windows, but hey, we Mac users are used to a somewhat higher standard than Windows.

So these utilities both allow you to type a keystoke – typically Command-Space or Ctrl-Space – and then type a few letters, such as ‘PP’ to select PowerPoint, then hit return. They can also find entries in the address book, open a new mail message to a friend, play a track in iTunes, and so on. The best thing is that they present a list of options for any set of keystrokes and they learn as you go along, so if your instinct is to type POW to launch PowerPoint, and PP to bring up the phone number of your friend Peter Pan, you only have to select the desired action once and the utility remembers it. I’ve got so used to bringing up my To-Do list by typing Ctrl-Space T D Return that I don’t even remember which folder it’s in.

Butler is clever and has everything including the kitchen sink, but that rather puts me off. Its facilities for controlling iTunes are good, but otherwise I had to spend too much time deselecting options. My world is cluttered enough as it is.

LaunchBar has a long history and is many devotees, but I started to miss the quick keystrokes I’d had in Butler to pause my music when the phone rang. Utilities like X-Tunes do it even better, though, so for a little while, I’ve gone back to using that with LaunchBar in place of Butler.

But my latest discovery is Quicksilver; similar concepts, but very pretty and very much snappier than LaunchBar or Butler on my system. That was my main complaint with the other programs: too long a pause after the Ctrl-Space. Quicksilver seems very speedy, and with X-Tunes to control my music, I’m singing…

Hanging on the telephone

[Original Link] A whole new type of malicious software. Thanks to Dave Hill for the link.


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Here’s an interesting table. Ever get into a plane and think, “Mmm. Seems like a couple of extra inches of legroom compared to my last flight…”? Well here’s a list of how far apart different airlines put their rows of seats on intercontinental flights.

Allied Irish Bank migrates 8000 systems to Linux

[Original Link] “We are predominantly using [Linux] as a platform to deliver the Mozilla browser,” says Michael Bowler, the bank’s IT architecture manager. “The client operating system doesn’t really matter from the perspective of delivering line-of-business functionality.”

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser