Supermarket shopping vs sanity
The nearest supermarket to me is a massive Tesco. The second nearest is a Lidl. I’ve taken to walking the extra five minutes to Lidl lately. Partly, it’s because the quality is often better. Partly, because it’s cheaper. Mostly, though, because it’s much less stressful.
Why it’s hard to make eye contact with drivers
Transport for London are running a campaign urging cyclists to make eye contact with drivers. It’s a great idea in principle. Unfortunately, it’s not possible in practice.
The scandal of the £360,000 carpets
Skimmer, deuxième partie
Previously on Skimmer: on Sunday, your protagonist discovered a suspicious-looking whirring bezel stuck on the hacked-up front of an RBS cash machine and reported it to the operators. On Monday, he observed the same cash machine, now out of order, but continuing to sport the peculiar modification. And now, the continuation …
I discovered a card skimmer on a cash machine on Sunday morning.
Constitutions and passports
Northern Ireland is a great place to have been born, at least back when I was. You get to have two nationalities. (And, unlike UK citizens born elsewhere, you’re eligible for the US Diversity green card lottery.) I mean, sure, nationality based on the place in which you happened to be born is kind of arbitrary, but what else do you think nationality is?
I was in Aberdeen at the weekend, but I think I saw more Scottish saltires flying from flagpoles in a fifteen-minute walk through Westminster this evening than I did all weekend.
Encrypted application configuration
If you want to automate a process that requires a lot of sensitive information—passwords, a PIN, the second, πth and eleventy-first letters of your so-called ‘memorable word’, and so on—then you probably don’t want to type all of them in separately every time. On the other hand, you probably also don’t want them to be stored in plain text on your computer, even if you’re using full-disk encryption.
Million-pound banknotes exist, as do hundred-million-pound ones. They’re used to back the notes issued by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Adding to the default Rake task
Keep Ruby Weird
My talk proposal for Keep Ruby Weird was accepted, so I’ll be in Austin, Texas at the end of October, speaking about (human language) writing systems.
First they came for our vacuum cleaners …
The evil, domineering, nanny-state EU wants to BAN powerful vacuum cleaners! Cue shock, horror, xenophobic outrage etc.
A proposal for renaming Greenland pier
Greenland pier is confusingly named, but I think there’s a reasonable alternative with historical provenance.
As if keeping modern mobile phones charged wasn’t hard enough already, it’s about to get a whole lot more annoying.
Nine to five
I remember a couple of songs from my childhood—Dolly Parton’s Nine To Five and Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel—that featured the idea of working from 9am to 5pm in their lyrics.
Pick and place
This is the story of the worst job I ever had.
The price of a stamp
Last week, I sent a postcard from Japan to the UK. It cost me ¥70, about 41p at current rates. Today, I sent a postcard from the UK to Japan. That cost me 97p, over twice as much.
A song that reminds you of someone
Best bit about working with Paul was how cynical and dour he was. A bird of my feather.
We’d have gross-out conversations across our desks about weird surgeries, diseases or freaky insects (I was never sure if it was because we’re both morbid people, or terrible people actively trying to make our colleagues lose their lunch).
He’s a good egg. But I never imagined he could stand something so cheerful.——Frances Berriman
You will need a wide-mouthed insulated flask (actually, a normal one will do, but you might have trouble getting the yoghurt out afterwards), a saucepan, some milk, and a small sample of the yoghurt you wish to pirate.
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I think there’s a general human tendency to try to control others. It’s something to be deplored and resisted, but it’s always there. We see it in the school prefect or the inept manager, misusing their power, but we also see it in programmers and their unstinting efforts to impose order on a chaotic word. It’s a tragic and ultimately futile errand, but one that seems to be strangely seductive. Join me on a voyage into the mind of such a programmer.
The sound of one person chatting
The right to fall in love
As the British political and media machinery do their best to whip up hysteria over the extension of free movement rights to Romanian and Bulgarian citizens, this seems like an excellent time to point out a right that those migrants have that you, dear British citizen, do not: the right to fall in love with anyone. And it’s all because of the demonisation of immigrants.