March 2008

26 March 2008
Two rather similar maps

I got a shock the other day.  I was reading the online Telegraph when I came across this:


In case you find this a little confusing it is, in fact, a map of the United Kingdom in which every parliamentary constituency is represented by a hexagon.

And the occasion for the shock?  Well, take a look at this:


Which is also a map of the United Kingdom in which every parliamentary constituency is represented by a hexagon.  A map I drew up over 10 years ago just before the 1997 general election (that’s why there’s so much blue.)  They even both have a hole in Ireland to represent Lough Neagh.

What’s even odder is that the Telegraph was the only paper I ever sent a copy to. 

I wrote to the Telegraph pointing out the similarities between the two maps.  They wrote a nice email back denying any connection - and to be fair, it’s far from implausible that the similarity is entirely coincidental -  lots of people have come up with similar ideas over the years. 

Having said that, it’s an odd, and not entirely pleasant experience, having one’s memory jogged like that.  Drawing up that map hurt.  The idea had been knocking around my head for years but I’d (and I know this sounds funny) never plucked up the courage to actually do it.  When I did, I sweated blood but I am very proud of it.

The fact that years later the Telegraph has taken up my idea and done more or less all the things I wanted to but couldn’t is very flattering.  Clearly, I was ahead of my time.

I’ll try to hold on to that thought next time I find myself wondering whether the Filing Cabinet is really worth it.

24 March 2008
16 March 2008
Linux: not ready for prime time

What is a girl to do? 

For years the only man in town was Gates the Geek, William of Washington, the Seattle Straight.  OK, so his mane was mangey and his clothes didn’t fit but you kind of knew where you were with him and his Blue Screen of Death.  He was Old Unreliable.  But there was one thing you could count on: you’d be compatible.

But now, things seem to be going wrong.  Vista’s Vista seems to be no better than Vesta’s Vista.

Time to check out other suitors?

Well, the’s always beeen Mac.  He’s pretty, he works hard but he’s a bit like the Church of Scientology: culty and expensive.

Step forward Linux - the Finn to Win.  He’s the exact opposite of Mac: he’s culty and inexpensive.

And yours truly is nothing if not a skinflint. 

So, one brave morning, I decided to give Linux a try.  And after a few days I came to one clear and indisputable conclusion. As far as Linux is concerned:


Oh, it claims all sorts of things about itself but getting it to work can only be described as “interesting”.

In the Chinese sense.

For instance:

  • It wouldn’t load onto my disk despite there being plenty of space.
  • When it did finally load the resolution was so poor I couldn’t see the OK
  • buttons
  • The screen had an atrocious flicker
  • I couldn’t connect to the internet
  • I couldn’t get Opera to install
  • I couldn’t get Flash to install on Opera
  • The search facility doesn’t work
  • WINE crashes the whole computer
  • Actually, lots of things seem to crash it.  And they complain about Windows.
  • The text rendering is poor
  • In fact, all the graphics are a bit naff.

Now on the last few points, I shouldn’t really criticise: these are amateurs and it is possible I’ve got a duff version.

But there were a sufficiently large number of problems to make me suspect that it’s going to be a good while yet before Liunux is a true competitor to Windows

14 March 2008
The Green Tax Test

I see there is some uncertainty over whether the Chancellor’s “green” taxes are really green taxes - designed to prevent or mitigate environmental damage - or bad old non-green taxes dressed up in green clothes.

There is a simple enough test.  Will the money raised be used to compensate the victims or not?  Because if it is you’ve got yourself a green tax and if it isn’t you don’t.

OK, there may be no victims as yet (just when is Tuvalu going to sink under the waves for heaven’s sake?) but that’s no reason not to put the money into a fund for a non-rainy day. 

See Also
How to deal with Global Warming