Archive for the ‘The World’ Category


At the start of the year I was working Wicked Web in Clerkenwell, living in West Norwood and had been going out with for six months. We went on holiday to Boston and Tennessee. WW moved office to Old Street in the spring. I went to Las Vegas for Andy’s stag weekend.


I took Lettice to Budapest for her birthday. WW started laying staff off towards the end of the year.


WW went into liquidation and hence I was made redundant. I became self-employed and started freelancing for many ex-WW clients. Went to the south of France with Lettice’s family – first time I’d ever seen the Mediterranean.


I spent the first part of the year working on a site for the BBC. Towards the end of the year I started doing contract work via an agency which meant that I got a large refund from the tax man, eventually. I went on a falconry day and flew a Harris Hawk. I asked Lettice to marry me.


I started this blog and spent several months working for the Home Office.


I gave up freelancing and started work at Visit London. I started cross posting this blog to LiveJournal and joined LibraryThing and Last.FM. I moved house to larger flat, ten minutes down the road from the old one, and Lettice moved in. We got married and went on honeymoon in Canada. 🙂


I learnt XSLT. 🙁 Lettice also started to work at VL. I joined Flickr


Relaunched with a new CMS, clocking up a stupid number of days off in lieu in the process. I did jury duty. I joined Facebook. We went to Dublin and Amsterdam.


We went to Venice. I learnt JSP and jQuery. I joined Twitter


We went to Barcelona and tried to buy a house. I grew a moustache for charity.

Robot Zoo

Plasticine Garden

So I found this file, last modified 10 June 1997, on a set of back ups and it’s a pub quiz that I ran in Balliol bar. In fact considering the date I suspect that this is the night that Lettice first clapped eyes on me and thought “nice guy, shame about the jumper”.

People on Facebook and Twitter said that they wanted to see the quiz, so here goes.

Read the rest of this very true thing…

Once upon a time I was sitting in a bar with some work colleagues and one of them told me I don’t vote. I leave it up to people like you who know about these things. At the time I was completely speechless but I’ve subsequently thought a lot about that statement and even though I’m not an American and hence have no vote, today is as good a day as any to mention this story.

I was flattered that I was seen as someone that other people trusted to decide the shape of their government. I was intrigued that someone was apathetic, not because they felt ignored and alienated by politics, but because they felt under qualified to particpate. Mostly, however, I was shocked that someone would so easily throw away their democratic rights.

When you have the opportunity to vote, vote. Vote because one candidate has better policies, or because the other candidate has dreadful policies, or because one candidate is a smarter, better person, or because the other candidate isn’t. You don’t have to justify why you vote the way you do to anyone other than yourself, so whatever criteria satisfies your conscience is good enough.

Once upon a time (around about the turn of the millenium) I indulged in a bit of world building and created a minor power for the fictional universe where Ground Zero Games’ wargames Full Thrust, Dirtside and Stargrunt. This was the Interstellar Democratic Republic – an attempt at creating a left wing power that went beyond “commies in space”.

One thing I wanted to do with the IDR was create a socialist inspired economic system that wasn’t simply a copy of sytems that had existed historically. What I came up with was a simple mechanism: the state is a partner in all businesses, the size of their partnership is in direct proportion to the size of the business.

So, small businesses basically have a mostly silent partner who takes a small cut of the profits and who can be turned to for advice (not much different to tax and small business advisors in the real world) but as the business graws this partner starts to have more and more influence, until the really big organisations end up being state run.

It sounds great, small businesses get to operate more or less as they do under neo-liberalism but big businesses are all nationalised.

The devil is in the detail, for starters how do you define the “size” of a business – turnover, profits, employees? And there would be the same scope for corruption that there is in the neo-liberal system – just as businesses in the real world fiddle the numbers to lower their taxes so would businesses in this system fiddle the numbers to lower the state’s control.

Watching the news over the past few weeks, I have to wonder, was I on to something? Is putting big corporations under partial (or total) state control the only way to stop them running out of control?

Lettice and I went down to Brighton yesterday to enjoy a bit of sunshine and sea air. That all went according to plan – some photos are on Flickr. Also, a fabulous lunch at AlFresco and a very good haul from the second hand bookshops and comic shops (including the The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier). Can all weekends be like this, please?

The past couple of columns extolling the virtues of Firefox were enough to tell that he was ‘one of us’, but this week Stephen Fry is blogging about the W3C and WHATWG. In fact, this makes a lot of sense, if the W3C’s efforts were to be compared to a gameshow then one, like Mr Fry’s QI, where the contestants regularly end up with a negative points total would be an appropriate analogy.

Recently: Opera takes Microsoft to court, which leads to calls for the CSS Working Group to be disbanded, which is, unsurprisingly, shrugged off by the working group itself, and then Microsoft announces that IE8 passes Acid2.

And as you’d expect there’s been a lot of froth and nonsense across the interested blogs.

My thoughts are that progress is being made, both by people like the the IE team (the current versions of Opera and Safari already pass Acid2 and Firefox 3 will pass it as well) and by the W3C which has made some good efforts this year to be more open and transparent.

It’s good to question the way things are, and Andy Clarke’s post about the working group has certainly made people take a good look at the status quo. But I feel that his proposed alternative would take us back to the time where the W3C created specifications that bore no relation at all to what the browsers were actually doing or planning to do.

As far as Opera and Microsoft goes, this is more about commerical advantage and business models than it is about web standards per se. Opera’s current business model aligns itself with web standards. Microsoft’s business model is so large and complex that it can be both for and against web standards and as the Acid2 result shows the team building IE8 are for them. I think the lawsuit is a sideshow and shouldn’t be allowed to dominate the standards discussion.

For many of us the shenanigans of the CSS working group hold a strange fascination, but I think that Mr Fry is right to point out that it’s in the areas of video and audio that the next big battle will be fought. As such Microsoft aren’t the main bad guys, Apple and Adobe probably are. Going back to business models, these companies are both secretive and fond of closed proprietary solutions. I’m not saying that either of them are evil through and through, but I’d love to see a lot more openness and cooperation from them in 2008.

Anyway, Stephen Fry is blogging about W3C working groups and open source video formats. He’s so one of us.


Yesterday I went to see the Tutankhamun exhibition at the O2. First time I’d ever visited the dome in either of its incarnations. In many ways it’s a pity that it didn’t get turned into a casino-resort beacuse there’s already a lot about that reminds me of the casinos I saw in Las Vegas.

Anyway, the exhibition itself was extremely well presented and managed the important job of putting into context both stories – that of Tutankhamun himself1 and that of the discover of his tomb by Howard Carter. The level of preservation of three thousand year artifacts is incredible – not just the metal and pottery but wood, even showing the original paint colours.

Being the geek I am, I also enjoyed spotting all the Stargate references. Um, I think I may have that backwards.

1. Relatively speaking. Egypt has a lot of history2 and there was no way it could all be related here, but if you don’t come away knowing a lot more about the Eighteenth dynasty then you must have your eyes closed.

2. Only tangentially related to Tutankhamun himself, my favourite ancient Egypt fact (you may have heard this before). Cleopatra, the famous one, also the last Pharaoh of Egypt, is closer in time to us in the twenty-first century than she is to the builders of the great pyramids.

“It was a mix of dark humour and horror

The CD I made didn’t work on the player at the crematorium.

So the drag queen came on to Ave Maria rather than Get The Party Started.”

Evidence One

Evidence Two

Evidence Three

But don’t be too quick to blame Microsoft, etc. ‘cos this is nothing new. A couple of hundred years ago aristocrats would send illustrations of their coats of arms over to China to have them painted on china in order to produce the sort of dinner service that any self respecting stately home should possess. One nobleman decided to save a penny or two and instead of sending a colour illustration sent a black and white illustration with the colours indicated via labels, in English. You can guess the rest.