Archive for July, 2006

Mapping Happiness

July 31, 2006

CNN.com – Denmark is happiest place in the world, report says – Jul 27, 2006

LONDON, England Reuters — If youre looking for happiness, move to Denmark.

Its the happiest country in the world while Burundi in Africa is the most unhappy, according to a new report by a British scientist released on Friday.

Well, maybe.

Denmark is No. 1. I can see that. Norway is down at 19th place, which I’d guess you’d expect given the winters, but Bulgaria is down in 164th place. Now, life may be hard in Bulgaria, but I don’t believe it’s worse than life in, say, sub-Saharan Africa, or totalitarian states like Burma or North Korea…

bad things

July 30, 2006

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Dozens killed in Lebanon air raid

Israel said the Shia militant group was responsible for the Qana strike, by using the town to launch rockets.

This is childish. And petty. But worst of all, it’s violent.

Israel is responsible for the strike: their armed forces executed it.

I’m not particularly interested in how this situation came about, and wouldn’t claim to know a great deal about its history. For me it’s just a bigger version of who said what about our Tracy.

But I do know that innocent people on both sides are being hurt and killed, and civilian infrastructure is being wrecked.

I also know that in situations like these, it’s the party in the position of strength that has to make concessions. The weaker party has nothing to lose, and the weakest of all have no control over their fate. cf. Central Africa, Chechnya…

In this case, that means only Israel has the power to resolve this situation, but not by military means. They should look to South Africa, to Scandinavia, to Northern Ireland, for possible ways out of this.

And, yes, I know that’s not going to happen.

Do the SIM card shuffle

July 26, 2006

I have a Norwegian SIM card for my phone, because I refuse to pay Vodafone’s absurd roaming charges. Last year, my T610 got a bit stonkered once I got home and swapped my Vodafone SIM back in, and I had to completely reset it. This time it was fine, and I even remembered to iSync, but I forgot all about my text messages. Sony Ericsson, why? Why nuke all my texts when I swap the SIM card? And while I’m at it, why, why don’t you timestamp outgoing messages? And why, why, is the delivery report sound the same as the message received sound… and… and…

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Glasgow and West | Crackdown on derelict properties

July 24, 2006

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Glasgow and West | Crackdown on derelict properties

A regeneration company is teaming up with North Ayrshire Council to crack down on people in the Ardrossan area who allow properties to rot.

Good idea. I wonder if this could be done in Helensburgh? Only problem is, the Council themselves are responsible for a lot of the derelict buildings!

Annoyingly out of date web sites

July 24, 2006

For example: IKEA | IKEA Glasgow store. Vofafone is pretty annoying too.

Characteristics: narrow page layout (half the width of my not especially wide monitor); byzantine site structure (try finding a clear and unambigous tarriff for Vodaphone anywhere on the site); bad search; tiny text; unneccesary geographic restrictions (IKEA make you look at individual bricks and mortar stores, I would far rather look at everything they have, then order online, from whatever store has the damn thing in stock, and all this should be fluid and more or less automatic…)

Strawberry Summer

July 24, 2006

It must be long, cold winters that do it. But every summer, the Norwegians go mad for strawberries.

After a month or so of anticipation, and stunningly high prices, from mid-June on they are everywhere, in the supermarkets, in the shops, in the petrol stations, in the market squares, by the side of the road.

Driving along, one regularly sees signs with a huge picture of a strawberry, and a distance. Strawberries! Giant strawberries, 200 metres ahead on the right. And there, in a layby, under an umbrella will be a table, usually manned by a person of apparently "ethnic" extraction—Norway seems to be having similar difficulty with this sort of thing as Britain did a few years ago—who will be happy to sell you a gigantic box of strawberries for 20, or maybe 15 kroner.

And you can take that box home, and eat it with sugar and cream, and then the very next day you can go out and do the very same thing.

There's nothing better, at least for a while.

Like many aspects of Nordic summer, the strawberry summer is short and intense. Last year I remember, by mid August, the stalls had begun to disappear, and the the supermarket shelves were full of oppressive walls of one litre tubs of… strawberry jam.

And absolutely no one was buying them.

Go Aberdeen

July 24, 2006

Aberdeen have brought in a 20 mph speed limit in their city centre:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/north_east/5208160.stm

Of course there’s been considerable whining from the business community. But I think it’s a good idea, and who can drive faster than 20mph in a city centre anyway? And who wants to go shopping in a street full of traffic fumes, or unload a car with people speeding past?

Hopefully something similar will happen in Helensburgh soon, at least in the main part of the town centre where the shops are.

Obvious thing about Norway: speed limits in town centres are 30 kph, rising pretty quickly to 40 and 50 for more suburban roads. So that’s approx. 6 mph increments for speed limits.

Perhaps, in the longer run, the UK could adopt new, realistic speed limits based on the actual nature of the roads, in 5 mph increments? Perhaps, then, people would be more willing to stick to those limits? I could go on in some detail but that would probably be boring.

i Norge

July 20, 2006

In Norway in a remoteish place with only dialup. And the phone socket is behind the hoover. Don’t worry, it’s a built in hoover. And well, there’s been a little too much to do to get round to this. So there you go. I will, however, write up some more Obvious Things About Norway when I get home.

But who’d have thought one would find a submarine there? And why are there so many strawberries?

10.5 thought

July 9, 2006

As if some kind of fancy Address Book wasn’t enough, how about this one?

What I want is simple. A no-nonsense way to sync between different Macs.

For instance if I have iTunes libraries on the laptop, the old desktop machine in the spare room and the (at the moment, hypthetical) Mac mini beside the TV, no matter which machine I actually use, all the iTunes I have are presented as a single library. None of this nonsense about sharing libraries or limited numbers of connections a day.

Similarly, each time the laptop appears on the network, I’d like to know that it’s being automatically and transparently imaged onto the big giant disc on the old desktop machine in the spare room. There shouldn’t be all this tedious mucking around with rsync and firewire target mode.

Simple, elegant, intuitive, capable of doing things that no other OS can.

Of course what I expect we’ll get is some more ludicrous eye candy (I have to use 10.4 in graphite mode because of the absurdly saturated UI colours), and interesting, powerful but flawed unix underpinning type stuff that I don’t have a hope of understanding…

Whale hunters go on holiday – Aftenposten.no

July 7, 2006

Whale hunters go on holiday – Aftenposten.no

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that buyers of the hunters’ whale products have gone on vacation themselves, so there’s not much market for the catch.The inventory of whales already shot so far this year also seems to have saturated the market.

“We don’t have buyers for more whales than those already shot, therefore we’re sending out a message to halt the hunt,” Hermod Larsen of the association told NRK.

Well, that sounds sensible. I think a major problem for whaling enthusiasts is coming up with a market for the product. I don’t think there is much of one any more. Therefore: no more hunting.