Archive for February, 2011

  • RIP Nicholas Courtney – very sad news. #
  • Brilliant contents in one recycling box seen sitting on a Croydon street – half a dozen bottles of champagne and one Fray Bentos pie tin. #
  • Locksmith in Croydon area feel like a laugh? I've drilled out lock but still can't get it open. Any ideas? (other than get a pro next time) #

Today I went to the new Doctor Who Experience at Olympia. It’s a two part exhibition, starting with an interactive walkthrough and then a more normal array of props and costumes to gawp at.

After being swallowed by a crack in time we’re taken to a museum on Starship UK (crammed full of all sorts of props – I spotted the ‘Schlechter Wolf’ bomb, a life belt from the SS Bernice, Yeti control spheres and a Dalek trooper helmet as well as the headline items pointed out in the dialogue). Whilst in the museum the Doctor contacts us, in specially recorded Matt Smith video clips, and reveals that he’s been trapped in the Pandorica again and needs our help to escape.

The TARDIS materialises and we (or rather any children in the group – once again, little blighters get all the best things) pilot it to the Doctor’s rescue. Until we crash on a Dalek ship. Ooops. Surrounded by new paradigm Daleks ready to exterminate us all. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of some old style Daleks – “The Children of Davros” – which may point at a new Dalek civil war in the forthcoming series.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire as the escape from the Dalek ship takes us through a corridor (lots of corridors in this, which is very appropriate) containing Weeping Angels. Rushing onwards we reach the Pandorica itself and the Doctor does something sonic to teleport himself into the TARDIS. There’s a cool 3D sequence of Daleks, Cybermen and Angels flying at us from the time vortex before the Doctor saves the day.

The second half is more conventional and packed with more goodies than any previous Doctor Who exhibit (certainly more than Earls Court a few years ago or Longleat a lot of years ago) – costumes from all eleven Doctors and all the twenty first century companions. 1980s and 2010 TARDIS exteriors, 1980s and 2005 TARDIS control rooms, six different models of Daleks from 1963 to 2010, three different Sontarans, the Giant Robot, the Face of Boe, and more and more.

It’s not cheap, £20 for adult tickets  and an eye watering £12 for a photo of yourself in the Pandorica chair (I passed on that), but if you’re as much of a Doctor Who fan as me you’ll love every moment of it.


  • Got to get from Croydon to Canary Wharf, in the rush hour, with a failing Oyster card. This could be interesting. #fb #
  • Buying a pair of shoe laces just went a bit Carry On: "I've got the length mate but not the thickness". #fb #

HTML5

I’m late to the party as usual, but here’s my summary and opinions of the recent fuss over what is and isn’t HTML5.

HTML5 means two things:

  1. A standard published by the W3C
  2. A label (analogous to DHTML or Web 2.0) for a group of new web technologies, including the standard referred to above but also CSS3, SVG and other technologies.

So that’s one precise, technical meaning, and one vague, fuzzy meaning. If you’re talking to developers, web designers, browser manufacturers or CTOs you use the first meaning; if you’re talking to marketing types or CEOs you use the second. If you’re talking to a mixed audience you need to clarify what you mean. It’s not ideal but it’s not the end of the world.

The W3C produced a new logo as part of their effort to promote HTML5. This was marketing activity and the usage seemed to be close to the second meaning above. However, this is the W3C and their core audience is technical and hence expected the first meaning. Some fuss and a few edits to the FAQs later and the situation was clarified.

Meanwhile the WHATWG have decided that from now on they are working on the living standard of HTML and that version numbers are passé.

This actually makes a lot of sense. Browsers don’t implement versions of HTML, they implement a hodge podge of features that appeal to them. Most web sites are thus created based on what works on browsers. When we say that we’re building a site in XHTML 1 and CSS 2.1 we mean the subset of those features that are both useful for the site in question and supported by IE7, etc.

But developing (a site, an API or a browser) to a moving target is difficult and troublesome. Having a standardised version of the spec is useful, it means that my example site using that subset of XHTML 1 can be checked against that standard today, tomorrow and five years from now.

The good news is that there’s no longer two HTML5 standards to cause confusion. Now there’s HTML at WHATWG – an iterative, ever evolving specification that acts as an ideas generator and prototype for the future of the web, and there’s also HTML5 (and maybe one day 6, 7, etc.) at the W3C – a slice of the living standard, reviewed, refined and eventually set in stone as a standard.

I’ve been using parts of HTML5 for over a year now – I’m using a fairly safe subset of features (and <hgroup> which some people seem to have a problem with and want to remove or change) and can refer to the W3C spec for details whilst keeping one eye on the WHATWG for future developments. This seems like a sane approach for most front end developers – there’s a lot of exciting changes coming out and only a few people will have the time and resources to keep on top of all of them.

Still, we’ve got a logo now. :-)

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  • Well, Brains SA Gold was on special offer, so all things considered it was a non-decision. Now, come on Wales! #fb #
  • Two hours to the rugby. Just need to decide whether to break my no-drinking week or not? #fb #
  • Had to check 8 different shops but finally found a copy of Doctor Who Adventures with the free Daleks. #
  • One of those days where no one knows what's going on, mainly because no one has told anyone anything, or asked anyone any questions. #
  • Wales Six Nations twibbon on my avatar pix looks like lipstick on the dinosaur! #
  • Support Wales in the #RBS6Nations by wearing the official Badge of Honour #Twibbon on your avatar: http://twb.ly/i5xPHr #
  • I was grumpy yesterday and I'm grumpy again today. Major sulk time. Feel like I've reverted to being a teenager. :-( #fb #
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