Rowan's World, et Cetera

Top 10 Things Not To Do with Links

by Rowan on 12 June, 2011

“Hyperlinks” are probably the single most important thing on the World Wide Web. They are, after all, what the “web” is woven from; they are what makes it something more than the document retrieval systems that came before.

And yet, some people seem to do their utmost to make all the hyperlinks in their documents entirely useless. Here are my Top 10 Things Not To Do with Links…
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“A Permanent Cleggocracy” – Or Not: Dissecting an Anti-AV Cartoon

by Rowan on 9 April, 2011

This week, the first campaign leaflets started coming through for the Borough Council Elections, and, more interestingly, the voting system referendum. One of the Conservative “newsletters” featured this eye-catching cartoon, headlined “A.V. = A Permanent Cleggocracy”. I was immediately sceptical, but the more I looked at it, the more I realised how utterly wrong this cartoon is.

A.V. = A Permanent Cleggocracy cartoon from Conservative Election leaflet
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Goodbye Burgess Hill!

by Rowan on 28 January, 2011

After 5 years of the slow and often stressful commute, my office finally moves from Burgess Hill to Brighton this weekend.1.

So, it’s Goodbye Burgess Hill!

  • Goodbye to the 07:57 Southern Service to London Victoria — and goodbye to the crowded 08:18 when I missed it!
  • Goodbye to “the delayed 18:09 service” home, and the confusing service to Seaford, Eastbourne, and Ore2
  • Goodbye “customers for Glynde, Berwick, Cooksbridge, or Plumpton”, who weren’t always travelling in the correct part of the train.
  • Goodbye to Wivelsfield station, and the steep walk into town.
  • Goodbye to the young families of Noel Rise, who greeted me each morning — and who grew up before my eyes!
  • Goodbye to the headless eagle, the milk depot, and the dewy spider-webs on the fence — but goodbye too to the constant digging of the road!
  • Goodbye to the Martletts, and Market Place
  • Goodbye to the sandwich shops, the greengrocer’s stall, and the 50p bookshop
  • Goodbye to the Post Office, and churchyard
  • Goodbye to the park, with its abstract modern sculpture, its muddy fields, and its basketball hoop
  • Goodbye to the Railway, the Jacob’s, & the Potter’s
  • Goodbye Disco Carpets, and hairdressers downstairs
  • Goodbye to you all – maybe I’ll come and visit someday. But then again, maybe not. ;)

Footnotes

  1. In fact, what with POETS day and me being on holiday, this is a bit late – but 17:30 on the Friday seems an appropriate moment to say goodbye []
  2. “Eastbourne and/or what?” []

Internet Splinternet – an Optimist’s IPv6 Daydream

by Rowan on 14 January, 2011

I was reading an article recently1 about the challenges in getting IPv6 up and running – before we finally run out of IPv4 addresses, and can’t plug anything else into the internet. One big change would be the end of address sharing – NAT – since there’ll be enough IPv6 addresses for every computer in your house to have a globally unique address. NAT is annoying, and in general we’ll be better off without it, but if every device is visible to the whole internet, there are some interesting implications which will only be advantages if we work out how to harness them. So here is my optimist’s guide to next year’s internet…

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Footnotes

  1. where “recently” is relative to when I started writing this, not when I actually published it… []

Wherefore does nobody know what wherefore means?

by Rowan on 21 September, 2010

O Romeo, Romeo!
Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Undoubtedly one of the most quoted lines of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. But what’s the right answer? If you said “I’m over here!” then you’re wrong – not because of where Romeo may or may not be right now, but because that’s quite simply not what “wherefore” means.

wherefore (interrogaive adverb) – for what reason
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary

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Why object references are confusing, and what to do about it

by Rowan on 15 August, 2010

A recent blog post from my old friend Phil1 discussed some of the gotchas of parameter passing in object-oriented languages – or I suppose specifically in partially OO languages, since the problem in this case was a combination of objects and structs in C#.

It seems to me there is a genuine problem here, beyond programmer fallibility – the old distinction between “pass by value” and “pass by reference” is no longer a useful distinction in such languages, and someone needs to design something better.

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Footnotes

  1. well, vaguely recent: I really should get with this whole RSS thing! []

Having it Both Ways: the Two-House Solution to Electoral Reform

by Rowan on 19 May, 2010

Much has been made of the fact that Gordon Brown was never elected; but the fact is, under our current system, no Prime Minister is elected. In fact, our system makes no explicit provisions for individual voters wishing to express their preference of government, only an indirect message via their collective selections for parliament. Discussions of electoral reform tend to either ignore this dichotomy, or suggest messy compromises that no-one really supports, rather than confronting it head on and coming up with a truly creative solution.

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