Monthly Archives: April, 2006


John quotes a nice extract from Dave Barry’s column about boring topics.

Storage scale

For those of you who, like me, find yourselves running out of disk space too quickly, here’s a statistic to help keep your problems in perspective:

Yahoo Mail’s storage requirements are measured in terabytes per hour.

from Jeff Bonforte’s talk at e-Tel, when he was talking about the ‘SMTP fiasco’ – the spam problem

Media Centre time

The time has come. My old and beautiful DVD player – a Pioneer DV-717 for which I paid £600 a long time ago – is starting to fade. It lost the ability to play CDs some years back, and it’s now regularly having problems with the scratches on rental DVDs as well, while other drives play them just fine. It was time to replace it. I could, of course, have bought a replacement at the supermarket for half the price I once paid for a region-free mod for my Pioneer. But they don’t make them like they used to – anything looks like a piece of junk when placed next to the 717. And, anyway, DVD’s are so last-decade….

Continue Reading


Paul Bissex writes about his desire for a Focus Follows Eyeballs system.

I once almost patented the idea of ‘Processing Resources Follow Eyeballs’, where the computer devotes most resources to the thing you’re looking at.

This came up when I was working on in-car systems. The idea was that a computer in a car might be doing all sorts of things which required lots of processing – recording video of your route, trying to read the signposts you pass, answering your phone, etc.

But it’s important that whenever you have to look at its screen, you’re distracted from the road for the shortest time possible. And so, when it sees your eyes moving in that direction, it should be devoting all of its power towards making sure the screen is up to date… and that any information you request by interacting with it appears as quickly as possible. When you’re not looking at the screen, it really doesn’t matter

I never patented ‘operating system scheduling based on the eye movements of the user’, so perhaps the best thing is to publish it here so nobody else can. 🙂

Blog Statistics

A new blog is created every second, more than half of them are still going three months after creation, and the number of blogs has been doubling every six months for some time.

This, and lots of other good stuff, can be found on a page on Dave Sifry’s site.

Status-Q, for what it’s worth, is more than 5 years old now. I wasn’t very early to the game, either, but looking at these graphs makes me feel like a pioneer… 🙂

Blogging – the joy of lazy documentation

Documentation is something every organisation should do, but not to excess.

Whether it be an online user guide for a piece of software, or an employee guide for a pensions scheme, there are typically two problems:

  • Most people won’t read it
  • You have to keep it up to date anyway

And, often, keeping it up to date is much more hassle than creating it in the first place. It certainly feels like it, anyway, because when you’re fixing an old document you don’t have the satisfaction that comes from creating something new.

So my philosophy has generally been that you should have as little documentation as possible (and no less). The more you have, the harder it is to maintain, and incorrect documentation is usually worse than no documentation at all.

It struck me recently, though, that there is a rather wonderful aspect to blogs in this regard. The great thing about a blog entry is that it has a date prominently displayed on it. Why is this relevant? Because it’s immediately obvious when a posting may be out of date. You never have to go back and maintain your old blog entries, or check that things you said in the past are still correct. It’s understood that they’re perishable goods and may have an expiry date.

So if you want a low-maintenance website, perhaps the best model is to put the absolute basics as static pages and cast as much of it as possible as a blog. You may need to make special provisions for those who visit and need to find something – like having a good search facility, and referring back regularly to past posts which are still important – but in general, the more you can put in blog format, the more interesting your site will be, and the easier your maintenance task.

More on Google Calendar

Ah… cool. Not only can you subscribe to Google Calendars using iCal but you can subscribe to iCal-published calendars from Google. When you go to add another calendar, you can choose to add one with a ‘Public Calendar Address’. Simply put in the URL of the .ics file that you’re publishing from iCal, and it works fine.

Newnham News

My friends at Newnham Research have started to get some news coverage, from PCW and from ExtremeTech.

Their problem is that you really don’t get a feel for how well this stuff works until you see it in action – it’s hard to do it justice on paper. But it’s good to see that Newnham is coming out of stealth mode at last…

Thanks to Seb for the links.

In case you’ve missed it… Google Calendar

Google’s latest attempt to show that the only thing you need on your desktop is a web browser has now gone live here. It’s nice, too, as long as you’re using one of the supported browsers.

Mac users will need to pick something other than Safari. On the other hand, they can use the addresses listed under ‘calendar details’ to subscribe to Google calendars using iCal.


UK readers might be interested in this new offer from the Carphone Warehouse. It’s not anything new technically, but it’s an interesting, and appealing, way of billing for connectivity.

Basically, for £21/month, you get a phone line, all your national phone calls, most of your international phone calls, and broadband. I’m quite tempted to use it to replace my second phone line with something that will give me a backup broadband connection.

Anyone know a good router that will failover automatically when one network goes down?


TextMate is a fabulous text editor for the Mac. The best way to get a feel for its capabilities and see what all the fuss is about is to look at some of the screencasts.

Here’s one about writing screenplays.

Here’s another about Python programming.

And there’s an excellent new one about how to customise it which is well-worth watching, especially if a bit of shell-scripting doesn’t disturb you.

Highly recommended.

Distance no object

John quotes a great story from today’s NYT. Where actually is the person who’s taking your order?

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser