Friday, August 27, 2004

ObSys 3.0 is go

Our preparations for the new academic session are going well at work, and I've just launched a new version of our course admin and application system (ObSys). I'm really quite proud of this system. It was first launched about two years ago as a simple way to let students sign up for IT courses, but by about this time last year version 2.0 was launched with integration to our administration system as well to act as a single point of reference for administrators, tutors and students. That happened much faster than I thought and 2.0 was launched sooner than I would have liked. Over the course of the last year it's evolved an awful lot, thanks to loads of feedback from staff and tutors (at one point gaining a point release every two weeks!) to become a system that that really does its job well. Getting praise from the users of the system really makes me feel good, and version 3.0 is the best one yet.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The 'And Finally...' story of the week

Seems that sportsmanship isn't quite dead after all :-) (registration required, but if you don't want to, get an ID from

Oh, and dribble.

Friday, August 20, 2004

File sharing legal – official

A court in San Francisco has confirmed an earlier ruling that peer to peer file file-sharing networks are legal. The court went on to give the RIAA and MPAA a metaphorical kick in the nuts by saying that it would be unwise to change copyright law in favour of current big players "given the ways in which technology often changes the market for the better in the long run". /Me does a little dance.

The bestest Nemi ever...

Okay, I don't usually post images, but this truly is my favourite Nemi cartoon ever:
Get a graphical web browser!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Exam whingers

The A-level results came out today, showing another rise in the numbers of passes and the usual whingers, complaining about falling standards, have come out of the woodwork. It's nice to see David Miliband (the schools minister) getting his retaliation in early in defending the exam results and I have to agree with him. Although it's been nearly a decade (give or take a few years) since I did my A-levels, the amount of effort that went into them – by both students and teachers – was incredible, and the belittling of the results is incredibly morale-sapping. So I say go students and wish the whingers a long life to the pain.

PAYG insurance worries

It seems that Norwich Union is piloting PAYG car insurance in the UK soon. My first instinct when I heard that was to think that it was a bad thing and worry about the privacy implications, but after thinking about it for a bit and listening to the discussion on the Today programme I'm not so sure. I'm getting more and more paranoid about Big Brother-style privacy-invasion measures by the government and big business but haven't always been able to come up with a reason as to why. From what was said in the Today discussion, the privacy implications of this are minimal (although wedges and thin ends come to mind) and the benefits seem to outweigh the possibly dangers. I'd be curious to see how it works out, I think.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Mmm, porn...

According to an Australian study, it turns out that porn is good for you. Sounds sensible to me (as Big Ginger Dave pointed out a few weeks ago). So where does this leave the badly thought out and puritanical war or pornography?

Further data privacy concerns

Britain's Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has followed up June's comments on data privacy with the warning that the country risks "sleepwalking into a surveillance society", going as far as to draw a possible future comparison with the East German Stasi.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Reprieve for Hubble?

After one of its instruments went down it seems that NASA is going to go ahead with a robotic mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. I think that this is great news – Hubble has helped increase knowledge of the universe by an enormous amount, and there was a fantastic amount of support for keeping it working (not least from the NRC) until its successor comes onstream in about 2011.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Big Brother Awards announced

The winners of this year's Big Brother Awards were announced last week (while I was on holiday). I was amused to see that Privacy International, which organises the awards, said it was overwhelmed by nominations for David Blunkett but since he had been recognised in previous years (winning the Dog Poo on a Stick award last year) different candidates were considered instead. Blunkett's achievements were recognised in having one of the awards renamed the "David Blunkett Lifetime Menace Award".

I feel a geek post coming on...

I was away from a computer for less than two weeks and my geek muscles were already itching for something to do, so a new project was necessary (my last one being to write a basic RSS aggregator to keep track of my online comics while I was on holiday), so I decided to automatically replace smileys on my blog with image equivalents. This was fairly straightforward for comments, where I have complete control over the source code (thanks to BlogKomm) but is proving trickier for the main posts, due to the way that Blogger works. Still, all basic smileys will now be converted to images in comments (and this is retrospective as well, so has happened for older ones as well). Ahh, pointless geekery. How much duller my life would be without it :o).

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