Monthly Archives: October 2012

On the iPad’s charging cable

I bought my wife an iPad for christmas. The battery recharges via a USB lead, and a mains plug is provided with a USB port, so that you can charge directly from mains.

But the cable is ridiculously short — about one meter. It’s basically impossible to use the iPad when it’s plugged in, for fear of ripping the cable out of the iPad or the mains plug.

This is a very good thing.

It changes what kind of thing the iPad is. When I use a laptop, my default mode is to have it plugged in all the time, and just think of it as being able to survive for a while when isolated from its feeding trough. But with an iPad, the narrative is very different. It’s a device that isn’t wired into anything. It moves happily around the house with you, and just happens every now and then to need parking in its Special Place where the charger is.

Although these two usage models are identical in substance, the psychological difference is huge. I have been used to thinking of laptops as delicate super-powered entities that I must care for and love and cherish and worship. Whereas the iPad is just there for you. And since we’ve had it around, I’ve started to shift my attitude towards my laptop, too.

So the short charging cable is a clever piece of cultural engineering.

My dog’s got no nose: The Whole Story

Back in February 1989 I was in my second year at Warwick University. (Pure Maths with a generous side of Computer Science, since you asked.) It was there that I first met Steve Sykes and various other friends that I am still in touch with.

For reason that are now lost in the mists of time, I compiled a set of variations on the classic “My dog’s got no nose” joke, and sent it off to rec.humor.funny, a heavily moderated newsgroup, where I was pleased to see it published.

Over the years, I accumulated several more jokes for the collection (some mine, some from friends). I had been keeping them on my old website, but now I’m moving them over here, in the hope that the fine community of Reinvigorated Commenters will be able to contribute more.

1st man: My dog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: Awful.
— Traditional

1st man: My dog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: He doesn’t. He’s got no nose.
— recovered from the mists of time by Stephen “Haldane” Sykes

1st man: My dog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: You poke his eyes out.
— Mike Taylor

1st man: My dog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: (Pause) … Well, it’s kind of hard to describe really.
— Mike Taylor

1st man: My dog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: (Pause) … It’s OK, he has got one really.
— Andreas Pagel

1st man: My dog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: (Pause) … Oh, go and get a glass of water.
— Andy Charles, incorporating material from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

1st man: My dog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: By means of a cunning hydraulic mechanism.
— recovered from the mists of time by Stephen “Haldane” Sykes

1st man: My dog’s got no ears.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: With his nose, obviously.
— Mike Taylor

1st man: My dog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: Of his own accord.
— Trad., Arr. Mike Taylor

1st man: My dog’s over thirteen billion miles long.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: Don’t change the subject.
— Mike Taylor

1st man: My dog’s literally doesn’t exist.
2nd man: How does he smell?
1st man: Don’t ask stupid questions.
— Mike Taylor

1st man: My wife’s gone to the West Indies.
2nd man: How does she smell?
1st man: When it’s ajar.
— Trad., Arr. Mike Taylor

1st man: How do you make a Venetian Urn?
2nd man: I don’t know, how do you make a Venetian Urn?
1st man: (Pause) … I’m sorry, I appear to have made a mistake.
— Mike Taylor

1st man: My frog’s got no nose.
2nd man: How does it smell?
1st man: Frogs can’t smell.
— Mike Taylor

1st man: My dog, who incidentally had no nose, died yesterday.
2nd man: How did he smell?
1st man: We shall never know. He died before he could tell me.
— Andy Clews

1st Restaurant owner: My dog he die yesterday.
2nd Restaurant owner: How do he smell?
1st Restaurant owner: Don’t know, but customers think he taste pretty good.
— Andy Clews; Country Of Origin Omitted Here For Sake Of International Relations

1st Circumlocutionist: I have in my possession an animal belonging to the family Canidae, and it appears that he does not possess any extra-facial olfactory organs.
2nd Circumlocutionist: Could you therefore impart to me such knowledge as may be necessary to describe how that animal circumvents the problem of satisfying his olfactory senses?
1st Circumlocutionist: Unfortunately the non-ambiguity of your enquiry does not easily permit me to provide a clever answer, but I am in fact thinking of referring the animal to an olfactologist. However, the animal does have a fairly unpleasant body odour, should you be interested.
— Andy Clews

Cannibal Dog: My dog’s got no nose.
— Mike Lessacher

Senile old fool: My dog’s got no nose.
Young delinquent: Why is that?
Senile old fool: He’s been dead for 30 years.
— Mike Lessacher

Senile old fool: My dog’s got no nose.
Young delinquent: Why is that?
Senile old fool: I’ve been dead for 30 years.
— Mike Lessacher

Cannibal 1: My brother’s got no nose.
Cannibal 2: How does he smell?
Cannibal 1: Delicious!
— Matt Wedel

Student: My dog’s got no nose.
Teacher: “My dog has no nose.”
Student: Yours too?
— Matt Wedel

Zoologist: My lungfish’s got no nose. Well, it has choanae, but they may not be homologous with those of tetrapods, and recent research indicates —
Non-zoologist: Oh shut up!
— Matt Wedel

Covert vampire: Help! I’ve got no nose!
Unsuspecting victim: Yes you do, you big ninny. Here, come look in the mirror and I’ll show you.
Covert vampire: I have to be going now.
— Matt Wedel

The future of librarianship

I just had this discussion with my Index Data colleagues, and though the conclusion was worth writing up here. My boss, Sebastian Hammer, asked “So what is librarianship about in the 201Xs ?”

I gave three answers: one smart-alec, one practical, and one philosophical.

Continue reading

Shepherd’s pie symbolises everything I loathe about English food

Shepherd’s pie symbolises everything I loathe about English food

You start with intrinsically delicious ingredients — beef, onions, tomatoes — which in another culture would become something pungent and flavoursome, like spaghetti bolognese or chili con carne. And instead, the dark sorcery of English cooking somehow contrives to merge them all into this flavourless substance. OK, you can eat it. It’s not actually unpleasant. But it’s such a waste.

Blah blah blah boring blah

Have you ever noticed that English restaurants are rarely found in France? Or indeed anywhere? There’s a reason for that.

We can make great beer in England. But food? Not so much.

Stupidest fact about XML

The following is not a valid XML 1.0 document:

<x>&#27;</x>

Try it yourself in your favourite XML parser!

(This blog-post was meant to be a tweet, but after two attempts, I couldn’t make Twitter render it right.)

Free Speech in the UK

British people have the right to use “satirical, or iconoclastic, or rude comment” and to engage in

“… the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humour, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it. We should perhaps add that for those who have the inclination to use Twitter for the purpose, Shakespeare can be quoted unbowdlerised, and with Edgar, at the end of King Lear, they are free to speak not what they ought to say, but what they feel.”

According to Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, in charge of the Twitter Joke Trial.

Could we, as a country, please remember that?

Why Plusnet is not my favourite ISP

Check it out:

The good news is that my “broadband” connection is capable, apparently, of downloading two and half times faster than my old modem was — although it certainly doesn’t feel like that with all the timeouts. The bad news is, is can only upload one fifth as fast. It took me more than a dozen attempts to upload the screenshot above, because my browser kept timing out.

This is because “Your peak-time monthly usage has exceeded 30GB” according to an email from PlusNet. Which happens when you work from home, when your whole job is Internet-dependent, and when all five members of your family use the Internet all the time. Plusnet say “Remember that your usage outside of peak-times doesn’t count towards your allowance”, but (A) who watches the BBC iPlayer with their family outside of 4pm-midnight? And (B) in my experience it’s just not true anyway: my usage meter keeps on racking up.

“But Mike, why don’t you upgrade to a bigger plan?” Because the one I’m on is the biggest Plusnet offer that has a static IP address — which I need for work. Upgrade to more bandwidth, lose the static IP.

“But Mike, why don’t you leave Plusnet and go to a sensible ISP?” Har har har. I have tried: it’s another lobster-pot, just like Network Solutions. (Details to follow in another post when I’ve calmed down a bit.)

It’s 2012. The whole idea of metering network use is stupid.

I will leave Plusnet, however difficult they make it.