Daily Archives:June 6th, 2009


If you have an OpenID identity (and you probably do, or could get one easily) you can now use that to post comments on Status-Q if you’d rather not create a separate login here.


Simon Singh has been doing a good job of highlighting the bogus claims of homeopathy and chiropractic. Now it seems likely to cost him a lot of money because of the nature of the British libel system.

Fortunately, he has quite a lot of money and seems willing to go down fighting. But it doesn’t seem fair.

Read the story so far


Readers will know that I’m usually very dismissive of Microsoft, but I have to give them credit where it’s due, and my (very brief) experiments with their new search engine, Bing, suggest that it does rather a good job. As good as Google, possibly, despite the joke that the name stands for ‘But It’s Not Google’.

A friend of mine who works for Microsoft once complained to me about the amount of time he has to spend on his employer’s ‘misguided attempts to keep playing catch-up with Google’. Well, I think with Bing they may have come pretty close. The problem is that it’s taken too long, and it’ll need to be rather better than Google now to get people to break their existing habits.

One thing that would help would be if they paid lots of money to the Mozilla Foundation, as Google do, to make it the default engine in the Firefox search window. But given the company’s history, that would have to be pretty painful!

Still, no doubt it’ll be the default for IE users. I’ve met quite a few of our customers recently who, because of their employer’s policies, are forced to use IE at work. At least having a decent default search engine will make it a bit less painful.

On the reading of old books

C.S. Lewis once wrote an essay entitled On the Reading of Old Books, in which he argued, if memory serves, that there are far too many books published each year for anybody to even contemplate reading them, so a pretty good way of thinning them out is to pick ones that have stood the test of time.

Since coming across this in my youth, I’ve tried, very roughly, to read one book published before my lifetime for every one I read that was written during my lifetime. This still leaves me heavily biased towards the present, of course, but it does go some way towards correcting my natural reading tendencies. I guess we’ve probably reached the time, for people of my age or younger, when it would be a good rule to apply to movies as well.

Lewis could have added another benefit of old books: that they’re generally out of copyright and so freely available on places like Project Gutenberg, so can be read on your iPhone using Stanza. It’s funny that he neglected to mention that.

Take Jerome K. Jerome, for example. Everyone knows Three Men in a Boat. But I also rather like his Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow and was browsing it over a decidedly idle breakfast this morning. What a great blogger he would have been! Here’s an extract, to take you for a moment back to 1886:
Continue Reading

The rise of the postal code

Thought for the day:

I wish I had patented the concept of a postcode. Or had shares in a company that had.

In the last few years, the postcode has gone from being the least useful part of an address (for anyone except the post office) to the most useful. It’s pleasing, in a way, that something designed to aid postal delivery was more of a chore than a benefit for the average person posting a letter, but then became incredibly useful in the age of SatNav and Google Maps!

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser