January 28, 2004

The Value Of Traffic Webcams

The snow has started an exodus which seems to have gridlocked the Cambridge Business Park, and at times like these it's useful to be able to have a quick look at the conditions of the nearby roads using things like the Milton Road & A14/A10 jamcam or the A14 jamcam east of A10/A14 roundabout.

Bit of a shame that the snow is conspiring to ruin the party so that the west-facing camera is currently providing images like...

The wonders of technology.

Posted by Adrian at 04:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

The snow, which I'm sure the weathermen promised for yesterday, finally arrived last night. As a result, my twenty minute drive to work from one side of Cambridge to the other took nearer an hour and a half.

The local council and highways agency will be relieved to hear that it wasn't because there was widescale mayhem on the roads. I'd have preferred for the gritters to have been less successful, at least on the lesser used back roads that comprised my route... So rather than main roads through and round the outskirts of the city, I sought out the back roads to Fulbourn, then the back roads to Great Wilbraham, back roads to Quy.... Not quite enough snow, nor enough corners on these long, straight Fenland thoroughfares but still much fun.

So get out in the snow, have some fun and get some practice... just don't ruin the snow that I want to use for practice.

(And in the time that I've taken to write this post the snow has returned with a vengence, I am now being teased in the office about my all-encompassing grin)

Posted by Adrian at 03:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 21, 2004

Joi Ito Promotes Better Blogging

Joi Ito's Web: Writing style and blogging gives some links to articles covering common mistakes made by writers and suggestions for ways to improve.

I have read them, but I can't guarantee a noticeable improvment in the quality of postings on this blog...

Posted by Adrian at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Leadership By Asking Questions

This week's Harvard Business School newletter contains an interesting article on How Leaders Use Questions.

I particularly like the section Using "how" and "why". Repeated use of "why" was very enlightening when I was discovering the root reason for buying my company's product, and it is interesting to note that "how" lets you move in the opposite direction.

Posted by Adrian at 02:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 20, 2004

Linking To Almost Anywhere In An HTML Page

For a while now, I've been pondering how to link to any part of any page on the web. Basically extending the URL syntax so that you can quote just a sentence of another page, or point people at a story which starts three-quarters of the way down a page.

Whilst it doesn't achieve this goal, this article explains how it's possible to link to "id" elements in the same way as "name" elements in <a>nchor tags.

I wasn't aware of that, and it expands the number of points at which you can link into any existing page. Not quite the universal linking and quoting that I'm after, but if you combine it with something like this service to add ids to an existing page then you can get close, in a kind-of roundabout fashion.

Posted by Adrian at 03:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 19, 2004

Gumbo Recipes

Ah, the wonder of the Internet. I decided to make a big pot of gumbo for the distance-travellers on New Year's Eve, but didn't have a recipe. A quick google for "gumbo recipes" soon netted this list of Gumbo Recipes and Basic Roux.

I didn't follow any of the recipes to the letter, but used them to concoct my own version, including improvising some of the ingredients of which Sainsburys had run out.

The recipe, which would serve around 8-10 when served with rice, was...

1/3cup vegetable/olive oil
1/3cup flour
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips/chunks
12 kabanos, in ~1/4in slices (or any other spicy cooked sausage)
1l chicken stock (I used 0.5l of vegetable stock, and a pint of chicken broth, which turned out to be cream of chicken, which, when combined with the tomatoes turned it all a strange orange hue... it still tasted okay though :-)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Okra (two and a bit of the packets that Sainsburys sell them in, I can't remember how much that was by weight), chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 green pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
Chilli powder (Not sure how much of this to add, seeing as I forgot it from the gumbo I made - definitely needs something to add a bit of a kick, as it's rather bland otherwise)
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch/parboil the okra.
Brown the chicken, and the onions in some oil.
In a large stockpot, make a roux with the 1/3 cups of oil and flour - basically, over a low heat, add the oil and then stir the flour into it until it makes a smooth paste. Once you have the paste, add the rest of the ingredients. Then cover the pot and leave in the oven, on a medium heat (gas 4 or 5) for at least three hours. After that, I turned it down to the lowest heat, and just left it slowly cooking away until people arrived.

Posted by Adrian at 02:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Warning: Reading This In The Office Is Not A Recognised Substitute For Real Work

Wacky warning labels

Some of these must be the manufacturers having a laugh... mustn't they?

(Via Sleeve Notes)

Posted by Adrian at 12:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Next-gen Taxi Services

It seems that location-aware services are starting to gain some traction. Zingo is a taxi service in London which will route you through directly to the nearest black cab when you phone for a taxi, so hopefully you'll get a taxi quicker.

I wonder if it'll route you through to the same driver when you phone back half an hour later to find out where they've got to...?

Posted by Adrian at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And When He Got There, His Blog Page Was Bare

Guess that'll teach me to post more often. It seems that my little script to automatically post deferred entries (useful when you aren't at home over Christmas but want your 31 Songs postings to still appear) has been happily rebuilding my blog every day, and so the content has been slowly dropping off the main page without my noticing. Until I opened my blog today and found it empty :-)

Still, that mainly means it's been far too long since I last posted anything. I hadn't realised it'd been so long. I've been busy sorting my tax return and have been heads down on a couple of projects, I guess it's kind of a New Year's Resolution to be more self-disciplined about implementing some of the many "wouldn't that be cool" ideas that I keep coming up with. More details as and when I get them up and running...

Posted by Adrian at 10:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2004

New Year's Eve Celebrations

Well, there are less photos of people's backs in the photos of the latest karaoke event. And we managed to persuade a few previous karaoke-averse attendees to partake and enjoy things so much that they felt they should (unnecessarily) apologise for hogging things :-)

The karaoke came in handy at midnight too, 'cos we could just call up Auld Lang Syne to get the words and some accompaniment. It seemed to be running a bit faster than we could manage en masse, and by the third verse our enthusiasm was beginning to wane...

I might have to stop joking about "there's always space for a tent in the back garden" when people want to stay over, though. Otherwise I might have to do more tent pitching at 5am when insane partygoers insist that they do want to forgo a (very comfortable) sofa-bed for a night under canvas in the cold, rain and wind. I must admit, I quite liked the challenge of pitching it in the dark :-)

Posted by Adrian at 01:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 06, 2004

Bowling For Teesside

The worst that we got up to after going bowling in Middlesbrough was boy-racer-style congregating in a car park, and even that was accidental (we did wonder why Andrew had taken the wrong exit from the roundabout).

Obviously I should have chosen something darker than the Stone Roses to listen to on the way there...

Posted by Adrian at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Post Christmas Stroll

It is said that if you can't see the top of Clougha, it's going to rain. And if you can see the top of Clougha... then it's already raining.

Neil and I decided not to travel too far for our Christmas ramble, seeing as the days aren't too long at this time of year, so Clougha, just inland from Lancaster, near Abbeystead seemed like a good choice.

The weather was lovely in Rainford when we left, on the morning of Saturday 27th December, but nowhere near as nice when we got up to the car park by Clougha. It wasn't raining, but, well, we couldn't see the top of Clougha as it was in the clouds.

Still, we were prepared for inclement weather, so it didn't overly affect our walk, even when it was snowing and hailing on the top... It was good to get out on a hill, work off a few of those Christmas calories, with the added bonus of catching up with my old haunts from my Uni days (I did get the Fiesta stuck in a snowdrift whilst trying to get up Clougha once...).

The main disappointment was the lack of visibility, it would've been nicer to have had a proper view over Lancaster, the Lune estuary and Morecambe bay but the photos show that that wasn't going to happen.

Posted by Adrian at 09:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


"The best is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

Now we just have to agree on the correct level for "good"...

Posted by Adrian at 12:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 03, 2004

Be Wary Of Politics Masquerading As Science

Michael Crichton gives a thought-provoking lecture about the relationship between science and popular opinion, similar themes to those put forward by Professor Emeritus Philip Stott.

The argument is not that global warming isn't going to happen, or that we shouldn't seek to have less impact on the world around us; but that we should be scientific about our acceptance of the presented "facts" about such topics.

The investigations into global warming seem (to my admittedly very limited exposure) on a par with those into the harmful effects of radiation from mobile phones. Yet, as a whole, we see the benefit of having our mobile phones, and so take the "well, nothing has been proven just yet" line, in contrast to our "we haven't proven anything, but it would be so terrible we must do something now" response to global warming.

Neither of which is a scientific approach, because there aren't any hard facts, just speculation and predictions about what are very complex and difficult to model systems.

I think what we need is to get to a proper philosophical or moral discussion about technology and science. Where we stop hiding behind faux-scientific reports, and acknowledge that "because we can" isn't sufficient justification for some of the technological advances and scientific investigations that we're undertaking.

Posted by Adrian at 04:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack