This all started with a really childish and really stupid comment on Flickr by a young American rail fan:
Probably because the cabs on American locomotives aren’t ugly as the atrocious things that pass for locomotives in Europe.
The sheer childishness of it all put me off replying, but it did start me thinking, apart from the very obvious difference in style, what are the real differences between our locomotives?
Yesterday I posted about using Perl to solve the question “what’s the longest word I can type with just half a keyboard?”. My self an Connor were joking that it would be a lot more difficult with Java, first to write the code, then to run.
I literally used the identical algorithm for the Java program, even using the same variable names, and printed the results out identically (I verified this with the Unix
diff command). I also did my best to use the various built-in Java functionality and
java.util classes to minimise the amount of heavy lifting my code had to do.
As some of you may know, I’ve been ill for the past few weeks now, and hence not working or podcasting. I spend a lot of my time doing nothing because I have no energy and often a headache, but when my head is clear I have a lot of thinking time since doing physical things is not possible. I even need to be careful not to type too much or my arms get very sore!
Anyhow – yesterday Bren Finan was chatting with me when he noticed that ‘yesterday’ uses only keys from one half of the keyboard. Which got him, and hence me, wondering if there was a longer word that can be written with just half a keyboard. (The quick-witted among you will probably spot that ‘Yesterday’ doesn’t actually count because the ‘y’ is on the wrong side of the divide on ergonomic keyboards.)
This is just a quick test post from a friend’s EeePC to see what they’re really like to type on and browse with. My very first impression, I think I have found something worse to type on than a virtual keyboard – a shrunken one! Since it has no smart helper-features like the iPhone, it is actually more tedious than the iPhone. You spend more time correcting mistakes because none of them are auto-corrected. Although you do get better at it as you keep typing, the location of the shift keys in particular really strain your hands. I’ve just typed this much and I can feel the strain already, this is very very far from ergonomic! I’m starting to see Tim Cook’s point, this is not a good experience, and I wouldn’t want Apple to clone this experience. I do want Apple to do something in this space, but it has to be something more human-friendly than this! This feels like miniaturisation for the sake of miniaturisation. I’m not sure what creatures the EeePC was designed for ergonomically, but it was most certainly not adult Homo sapiens! The one good thing I’ll say is that the screen is better than I was expecting, sure the resolution is small by real laptop or desktop standards, it’s positively roomy by iPhone standards. I think this would make it a usable web browser, but the keyboard is a waste of space, you can’t useit for serious typing. Take the screen from an EeePC, rotate it to portrail, make it multi-touch, add OS X iPhone, and make thinner, then you’d be on to a winner IMO! For ultimate p0wnage, add support for a bluetooth keyboad … oh … and sell it for the price of an EeePC
I’m a huge fan of the BBC, they make some of the very best TV programming in the world, and they’re record on April Fooling is also top-notch. Probably the best known BBC April Fool dates back to 1957, when a report on the bumper Swiss Spaghetti harvest hit unsuspecting Briton’s screens:
1957 is a long time ago, but last year they showed they hadn’t lost their touch yet, this time, we get to see Pengiuns fly!
If you think that looked like a lot of hard work went into making it, you’d be right!
Hopefully they managed to best even flying Penguins this year!
The single best thing about being involved in the Mac community is the great people you get to meet (all-be-it virtually). This evening my thoughts are with one of those people in particular, Robert Lachman of Photography and the Mac, Mac Review Cast, and NosillaCast fame. Over the past months I’ve really been enjoying a series of photos Robert’s been posting to his blog. They’re pictures of the great Bob Hope taken by his dad, Mort Lachman, who was on of Bob’s main writers. The photos are fantastic in their candour and lack of any pretentiousness.
I was very sad to read earlier in the week that Mort was in hospital having suffered a heart attack, and even sadder today to learn that he has passed away. Robert has posted a fantastic video on his website, which I think serves as a wonderful tribute to his Dad. I also think everyone should check out Mort’s great series of Bob Hope photos, they really are something special.
If you read this Robert, you and your family are in my thoughts at this difficult time in your lives.
Since the weather was good and I really needed some fresh air I took my proper camera down to NUI Maynooth to take some descent pictures of the devastation caused by last Friday’s Fire. It’s probably no surprise but there were a lot of people doing the same! I also met one of the dinner ladies who was on duty when the fire started, she’d come to have a look with her partner. She explained how it had started at the back of the building, apparently where workmen were felting the roof, and spread rapidly though the whole building.
I’ve added the best of my images from today to the Flickr gallery I started on Friday.
One of the things I like about NUI Maynooth is that it’s the kind of place where very little excitement ever happens. You get the odd evacuation because some muppet with a JCB has hit a gas main but nothing ever blows up. Life as a member of staff or a student in NUIM is generally a pleasant, peaceful, and uneventful affair. Today however was a little more dramatic, though you wouldn’t think it by reading the official press release from the university:
A small fire occurred this morning in the student restaurant at the edge of the North campus of NUI Maynooth and has since been brought under control …
My definition of a small fire is dramatically different. Surely when you can see the plume of smoke from your office half a mile away and when a building is levelled it counts as more than a small fire?
I finally got around to watching the last (it better be the last) Indiana Jones film. It started well. The silhouette of Indie putting his hat on was fantastic, it felt like we were in for a true Indie film, another classic. Sure, Ford is old, but he’s clearly still got it! If only, the opening few minutes were the high point of the film, it was down hill from there. At first we were heading slowly down hill, but the speed soon picked up.
You hear lots of stuff about how utterly inadequate, mismanaged and generally shambolic the Irish health service is. Those stories are unfortunately true, the experiences of my direct family speak to that. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised by Naas General Hospital this morning. I’m suffering from a very bad chest infection at the moment which my doctor fears has developed into pneumonia. So he sent me to Naas for a chest X-Ray. I got there at 8:40, was seen by 9:10 and on my way home by 9:20. The place was clean, efficiently run and the staff were very nice. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I’d gone in expecting the worst, that’s why I had my laptop, 3G card and iPod with me. As it happens I barely had time to check my email!
Lets hope this is a sign of the things to come and not just an isolated case of efficiency in the Irish health system.