Monthly Archives: January, 2012

British Pathé

Have just discovered that British Pathé have a splendid archive of “90,000 Historic Clips”.

Here’s a pleasing little example. (I remember meeting George Cansdale a couple of times in my childhood – he was a minor hero of mine.)

If you like these, you can also find a good selection of historic videos on the Internet Archive.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt?

We all know the courtroom drama, where the suspense is tangible as we wait for the jury’s verdict. But should such things actually happen, asks Richard Dawkins in a New Statesman article?


You cannot have it both ways. Either the verdict is beyond reasonable doubt, in which case there should be no suspense while the jury is out. Or there is real, nail-biting suspense, in which case you cannot claim that the case has been proved “beyond reasonable doubt”.

Smart Energy – now it’s personal

PilgrimMy pal Pilgrim Beart gave a splendid talk at the IET last week, about smart energy monitoring.

Click here to watch the webcast.

45 mins of talk, 45 mins of questions. Well worth the time.

Humour for Geeks

If you’re an elderly Computer Scientist (i.e. older than about 35), you’ll enjoy James Iry’s post, A Brief, Incomplete and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages. Extract:

1957 – John Backus and IBM create FORTRAN. There’s nothing funny about IBM or FORTRAN. It is a syntax error to write FORTRAN while not wearing a blue tie.

1958 – John McCarthy and Paul Graham invent LISP. Due to high costs caused by a post-war depletion of the strategic parentheses reserve LISP never becomes popular. In spite of its lack of popularity, LISP (now “Lisp” or sometimes “Arc”) remains an influential language in “key algorithmic techniques such as recursion and condescension”.

Splendid stuff! – Many thanks to Dave Clarke for the link.

Les Gets from above

OK, I’ll stop posting skiing pictures now. Probably.

A Different World

A shot from my impromptu skiing trip last week.

Lots more photos here.


Geoff took some nice photos of me on the slopes today.  I’ve edited out the ones that made me look less cool.



If you read my earlier post, you may be amused to notice that the poles are not the same colour in all of these pictures!




Keeping up with the Geoff Joneses

Only people who are better skiers than me should really try shooting video while in motion, but it was a nice gentle slope!

However, I did have an interesting and rather embarrassing experience today. We stopped off for lunch at a favourite spot, after which Geoff , the star of the movie, picked up his board, and I my skis, and we set off for another happy afternoon on the slopes.

At the end of the day, Geoff wanted to get his board rewaxed, so we headed down to the rental shop. There was a man waiting outside, who pointed at me.

“Ah! You!”‘, he said. Confused, I tried to work out whether I knew him, or why he might otherwise be accosting me. He soon explained. “You have my skis!”

And I looked at the poles and skis he was holding, and sure enough, they were mine. At lunchtime, he must have placed them on the rack next to Geoff’s board, and yours truly had walked up and pinched both them and his poles (which were, I’m embarrassed to say, completely different from mine), clamped the skis onto my boots (which fit perfectly) and skied for the whole afternoon without noticing. I’m not sure whether the fact that I was so oblivious to my equipment means I’m a good or bad skier…

Anyway, the poor chap, a very nice Dutchman, had waited for about an hour for me to come back and then, having called ahead, had availed himself of my equipment to ski over to the rental shop marked on the skis, which was where we found him waiting. I wonder how long it would have taken us to notice if we hadn’t decided to drop in on the way back…

The moral of this story is probably that ski-hire places should always get the mobile number of the people who rent their equipment. Or that they shouldn’t lend them to people as foolish as me.

On the Internet, nobody knows…

On the internet, nobody knows.

And so the silly season starts…

I can’t really believe that the American public would be seriously concerned that Mitt Romney can speak French.  If Newt Gingrich really picked this as a reason to lambast him, it should presumably disqualify Gingrich, not Romney, from office.

Now, I know little of either of them, but if you want to pick on Romney, I would have thought that his belief in – nay, his missionary zeal for – a man who gained inspiration from magic stones in the bottom of his hat at the start of the 19th century, would be a better target.  Surely that’s even more worrying than being friendly with Frenchies?

But, of course, that’s religion, so it’s taboo…



The Owl and the…Puppy Dog

It wasn’t always clear who was chasing whom!

More owl pictures here and here.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser