Bookmarks for February 25th through February 27th

  • A false sense of security

    The real danger of social networks is complacency, not cancer, says Bill Thompson

  • Ryanair mulls charge for toilets

    Irish budget airline Ryanair has said it is considering charging passengers for using the toilet while flying.

    Chief executive Michael O’Leary told the BBC that the Dublin-based carrier was looking at maybe installing a “coin slot on the toilet door”.

  • Leeds Carnegie: Beware the Bees’ sting

    Leeds Carnegie will be aiming to avoid a giant-slaying in the second city this weekend – and it won’t be a place for the faint-hearted, according to Brummie Leigh Hinton.

    All-conquering Carnegie visit the parochial surroundings of Sharmans Cross Road to face National Two title chasers Birmingham and Solihull in the last eight of the EDF Energy National Trophy on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).

  • UK government backs open source

    The UK government has said it will accelerate the use of open source software in public services.

    Tom Watson MP, minister for digital engagement, said open source software would be on a level playing field with proprietary software such as Windows.

    Open source software will be adopted “when it delivers best value for money”, the government said.

  • ”Rents down’ amid flooded market

    The cost of renting a home has dropped as frustrated property sellers have been flooding the market, according to two separate surveys.

    Owners were choosing to let rather than sell, having accepted that property prices were likely to stay low for some time, said property website Globrix.

  • Sounds of Brass hits top 10

    Phillip Hunt’s weekly hour long ‘Sounds of Brass’ radio programme, which is broadcast on nine BBC Local Radio Stations throughout the West of England, has entered the BBC IPlayer Top Ten.

  • Ryanair and the ‘idiot bloggers’

    Ryanair has confirmed that one its staff abused a blogger who questionned the airline site’s credentials.

    But far from apologising for the volley of abuse, Ryanair today dismissed bloggers as “lunatics” and “idiots.”

Bill Hicks has me convinced

Even when I was a kid and had some semi-regular visits to Sunday School at our local church (United Reform you know – I’ve always been a non-conformist) I never really believed all that crap about Adam and Eve.

What? We all descended from one man and one woman? And she was made from one of his ribs? Really?

It’s a stupid idea but there are plenty of people that still think that this is literally true. Not so many in the UK, perhaps, but plenty in the States. Us so-called Church of England lot prefer to take our Old Testament with a pinch of salt. It’s all “metaphorical” you know.

Of course it is.

Anyway, a certain person of a Toxic mindset posted a video recently of a performance by the legendary Bill Hicks, and he says it much better than me.

[Careful – lots of extremely rude words]

Thanks Bill. I can hardly believe it’s been 15 years since his death but the world of comedy is much worse off without him in it. There was nobody quite like him.

Tips on sartorial elegance

I’m not one to be too fussed about being smartly dressed or wearing fashionable clothes but I do like the look of some of this “geek chic” stuff.

I’m not a 100% full-blown geek but I like to dabble. I had a ZX81 back in the day followed by a ZX Spectrum, and I’ve had a love of computers ever since. Not a physical love, you understand. That would make me a nerd.

Anyway, I was reading this article by Wil Wheaton, he of Stand By Me and STNG fame-dom, and he linked up the following t-shirt:

That thing, right there. is all kinds of awesome. I ordered one (sorry Jo) and it’ll be with me in 1-3 weeks.

There’s some great stuff on that site too. Clothing to warm a geek’s heart.

A small observation

I was driving in to work this afternoon and I was overtaken by a guy in an Audi TT. I quite like the TT (this was the old shape) but this one had been ruined by the owner’s decision to add a personalised license plate.

There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but this one was “T7 SCX”. He’d also added the obligatory “screw” into the number plate so that the C looked like an E. “TT SEX”. I see what he did there.

The first word that came into my mind when I saw that was: “cock”. I’m sure that his Lordship Jeremy Clarkson would agree.

Links for February 18th

  • Novelist Pratchett becomes a Sir

    Author Terry Pratchett has been knighted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for services to literature.

    Sir Terry, 60, was named in the New Year Honours list.

  • Wonder twins telescope sees star’s dying gasps

    500 light years away, the star T Leporis is dying.

    It used to be much like the Sun, but the store of nuclear fuel in its core is running out. Due to the nuclear processes going on deep inside it, its energy production has vastly increased, blasting out thousands of times the energy it did when it was a stable star. The outer layers of the star absorb this energy, and, like a hot air balloon, expand hugely. Even though it is now far, far brighter than it used to be, the expansion actually cools the star’s surface. It has become a bloated, swollen red giant.

  • Not safe for work: the git that keeps on giving

    Remember: if you steal a man’s fish, you’ll make him hungry for a day, but steal his nets and you’ll keep him hungry for a lifetime.

  • 50 Mobile phone apps to change your life

    If you’ve recently got a new phone for Christmas, be it an iPhone, G1, Nokia or a spiffy BlackBerry, we bet you didn’t know it could change your life.

    Download any of these apps and become more efficient, thinner, fitter and better at saving on the go, so you’ve still got time to sit around in your pants whenever you feel like it.

  • Maybe Facebook should just offer a loyalty card instead

    Facebook has more than 150 million users. You would think that that must be valuable. The problem that “social networking” sites are throwing up, though, is that while you might have a lot of users, how do they ever become something that’s actually valuable?

  • New law making it an offence to photograph a policeman should worry us all

    More than 300 photographers descended on New Scotland Yard this morning to protest about a new law that could criminalise anyone taking a photograph of a police officer. Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act, which came into force today, permits the arrest of anyone taking photographs of the police, the armed forces, or the intelligence services which are “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. Now a policeman might not be your first choice of subject but this should concern us all.

  • Babies’ gestures partly explain link between wealth and vocabulary

    Babies can say volume without saying a single word. They can wave good-bye, point at things to indicate an interest or shake their heads to mean “No”. These gestures may be very simple, but they are a sign of things to come. Year-old toddlers who use more gestures tend to have more expansive vocabularies several years later. And this link between early gesturing and future linguistic ability may partially explain by children from poorer families tend to have smaller vocabularies than those from richer ones.

  • Creationists are still denying Darwin

    The fundamental ideas behind the theory of evolution have been scientific gospel for decades – and yet creationists refuse to go the way of the dinosaurs. Who exactly are they? And just what do they believe?

  • Facebook ‘withdraws’ data changes

    The founder of Facebook says the social network will return to its previous terms of service regarding user data.

    In a blog post Mark Zuckerberg said the move was temporary “while we resolve the issues that people have raised”.

    Users had complained after new terms of service seemed to suggest Facebook would retain personal data even if someone deleted their account.

  • Westboro Baptist Church justifies UK picket

    This is the full text of the Telegraph’s correspondence with the Westboro Baptist Church, about its plan to stage a picket in Britain for the first time. The church has threatened to demonstrate outside the staging of anti-homophobia play The Laramie Project at a school theatre in Basingstoke, Hampshire on Friday.

Links for February 17th

  • BBC – Newsbeat – Technology – Sky to replace 90,000 HD boxes

    Thousands of Sky+ HD customers are to have their boxes replaced after a fault was discovered by manufacturer Pace.

  • Food intolerance test – Watchdog

    Julia Bradbury went under cover to reveal how a ‘food intolerance’ test available from high street gyms, spas and chemists is a waste of money.

    It’s called the Kymatika K-Test and is marketed as a ‘revolutionary’ non-invasive way to diagnose food intolerances. The test costs on average £30, and, according to the company that developed it, is the culmination of three and a half years of dedicated research.

    However, when Julia took the test twice in the same afternoon, she got very different results.

  • Facebook terms of service compared with MySpace, Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter

    With today’s outrage over Facebook’s newly altered Terms of Service at its peak, I figured I’d do a quick comparison of their terms of service as regards user-uploaded content to the terms specified by other social networking sites, just to see if said outrage is fully justified. It looks as though the finger-pointing at the Bush robots.txt file wasn’t justified, for instance, and I was guilty of spreading that story.

    Conclusion? Go ahead and be outraged. Facebook’s claims to your content are extraordinarily grabby and arrogant.