Tuesday, November 27, 2001

And now, back to the silly stuff with The Pocket President
posted by Mark 12:20 PM

I am declaring today to be official How Can They Do That?! Day. Just have a look at this little gem on the Daily Telegraph news site - The police are to set up a secret database of children as young as three who they fear might grow up to become criminals.

No, you didn't read that wrong, they really are going to register "children involved in cheekiness, minor vandalism and causing nuisances". It gets better - "their progress will then be monitored at school and on the streets by special squads of police officers and social workers, even though the children have not committed a crime and will not have been warned that they are being watched."

I'm sorry to be quoting the article so extensively, but here is just one more, from Ian Blair (the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police) "This is pretty revolutionary stuff. There will be lots of worries but as long as it is understood that the purpose of holding this information is to ensure that we should collectively intervene to prevent children from becoming criminal I think that it will be accepted."

What planet is he on? Does he honestly imagine that parents will accept that their five year old child will be given a secret police record and will then be monitored by special squads of police officers for being cheeky? What child is never occasionally a nuisance?

I'm lost for words. If I don't lie down now and relax until my blood pressure drops, something will go pop.
posted by Mark 11:30 AM

Sundays announcement by the company "Advanced Cell Technology" in the US that they had created a human embryo clone caused a bit of a stir, to the extent that the government have pushed through Emergeny legislation to stop anyone doing it here in the UK. It has also no doubt started many lively conversations (it certainly did here). President Bush has even piped up with, of all things, an opinion.

However, technology news site Wired.com have spoken to other cloning experts about the news and got some very interesting responses, including "Frankly, the fact that the company is announcing this now suggests it needs the publicity for refinancing" and "They are doing science by press release" (ouch).

Glenn McGee, who once sat on the company's ethics board called the announcement "nothing but hype." (double ouch)

You can read the complete article here.

At least it got a lot of people talking and thinking about what is likely to become a very serious issue in the future, and that can't be a bad thing, but I am a bit concerned that the government will rush through new laws without at least doing as much checking around as a tech-news website. You'll notice I said "concerned", not "surprised". Ho hum.
posted by Mark 10:37 AM

Anyone who has ever had an argument with their partner will almost certainly recognise some of the items in this collection of Things my girlfriend and I have argued about. This is good stuff - a well written and often hilarious dairy of domestic disputes between Mil and his "dangerously insane" girlfriend Margaret. And they do argue a lot. I haven't giggled this much at a web page for ages.
posted by Mark 9:20 AM

Friday, November 23, 2001

Finding yourself troubled by all these satire sites and parodies? Fear not, relief is at hand! All you need are these excellent Irony Plug-ins to show you the way.
posted by Mark 4:29 PM

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

I owe my friend Jim an apology. He told me a while ago now that there was an organisation archiving the World Wide Web - the whole thing. "Can't see it myself" I opined "the amount of data would be prohibitve."

Well now I've managed to find the Wayback Machine "the largest known database in the world, containing multiple copies of the entire publicly available web. This eclipses the amount of data contained in the world's largest libraries, including the Library of Congress."

Still I was sceptical, until I tried a search and discovered that they have a copy of my first ever attempt at a website, archived in February 1998 (at which point it hadn't changed since November 1996 - I was never much good at updating it). Not only that, but they have 5 different archives of it as it was changed!

This is incredibly useful stuff if you are looking for a site you saw months ago that is now a dead link, or if you are just curious as to how the web looked "way back when".

Jim will get his apology next time I see him, I promise.
posted by Mark 10:22 AM

Sunday, November 18, 2001

It's a sadly common occurrence nowadays - all of a sudden you have a mailbox full of virus alerts, forwarded to you by everyone and his dog. At times like these, it's nice to know what exactly is going on, so you can use these links to check it out:

Symantec maintain lists of both Virus Alerts and Hoax Virus Alerts. McAfee also have lists available for you to check online here (but this one has pop-up adverts).

It's a great way to find out if you are indeed in any danger when the next inevitable "warning" arrives, and it might help you stop worrying - and that's officially A Good Thing.
posted by Mark 4:10 PM

Let's start with a quote this time:

Er, hi. Where am I?

Hello there. You're in DIRK. Welcome. Dirk explores the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

You what?

Well, Dirk knows about a lot of things. All you have to do is ask him about one of those things and he'll tell you what he knows about it. You can find a path between two things by typing them into the other boxes.

This is great fun - I connected "eve" to "boat" and discovered along the way that "gravy" is a naval officer. Marvellous fun.
posted by Mark 8:33 AM

Who would have thought you could do this with a ballpoint pen!
posted by Mark 8:23 AM

A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email is an excellent non-technical guide to email. It isn't in any way tied to particular software, instead focusing on the thing in common to all programs - the email itself. Included are sections concerning context, format, page layout and how to convey emotion clearly. All the information is clearly explained and well illustrated with examples. A brilliant site, highly recommended. It also contains (buried in the Bibliography) a link to another excellent tutorial, this time about How to find people's E-mail addresses. I do wish someone would make up their minds about whether it's "Email" or "E-mail" or my own personal favourite "email". Ho hum.
posted by Mark 7:39 AM

Friday, November 16, 2001

The perfect gift for the nervous in your life - the Timebomb Novelty Dynamite Alarm Clock: "the digital display can count backwards toward the alarm time. As a bonus feature, the display automatically switches to minutes & seconds as the countdown reaches the last few minutes, and as the time races ever closer to the alarm in the final minute, the remaining time rips away in seconds and tenths of seconds." Perfect indeed. The site even has a warning that the device is not explosive.

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend sending one of these babies by FedEx. And I just noticed they have sold out - looks like I have to re-think my Grandmothers Christmas gift. Again.
posted by Mark 1:48 AM

If you ever get so annoyed watching the news that you need to shout at your MP (or any MP for that matter), then why not do it the fast, clean, 21st century way - by email.
This handy list of all MPs and their contact details will get you some relief, I'm sure. Go on, tell 'em what you think.

posted by Mark 1:36 AM

Another one for all my fellow . . .um. . . word-freaks. Oh, I know, I'll look it up using iTools! Language Tools. Well, actually I can't - I don't know how it's spelt. But anyway, a dictionary is always handy, and there are 16 of them searchable on this site.

Oh, and the word is logophiliacs.
posted by Mark 1:26 AM

They are coming thick and fast tonight, I have a few to catch up on...

Rewind is an excellent site for anyone buying DVDs online. It compares the features and technical specs of both US and UK releases so you can see which one suits your needs best. An invaluable reference which goes nicely with Play 24/7's online DVD shop.
posted by Mark 1:10 AM

This is it - I've found my next house! Take a quick look at these 20th Century Castles and tell me you don't want one. A real live honest-to-goodness underground missile base to live in? Who could resist!
posted by Mark 1:01 AM

Thursday, November 15, 2001

The The On-Line Books Page is a superb collection of links to complete books available online. There are more than 15,000 books listed, so the search page is essential.
posted by Mark 3:02 PM

This one isn't for the fainthearted, be warned. This man makes and sells corpses, the sort of half-rotten things you see in horror films. The work is excellent, which is why I wouldn't want one - I'd be a nervous wreck in hours with one of these monsters in the house...
posted by Mark 1:55 PM

Okay, this one is for Arfur and Tim - I'm sure it needs no further introduction...Create-a-Fart
posted by Mark 1:41 PM