From the Blog

Digital self-deprecation


This is nothing new, but it’s always nice to see application or website developers who have thought about their error messages. A little bit of humour can do a lot to mitigate the frustration of an application crashing.

Of course if the application is crashing nearly continuously that humour gets very old very fast, but I’m happy to report that I have only once seen Tower …

Overheard on the train, again

It’s a frequent problem. Say you have just run into someone who was at one point quite a close friend but whom you haven’t seen for a long time: how does the conversation go? How can you return to your former chumminess after all this time? How do you pick any of the myriad life-experiences you’ve had between your last meeting and now to retell so as to exemplify what has been happening in your life in the intervening period?

Well, on the train from New York to Princeton Junction I got to witness just such an event. A girl sitting opposite me stopped a chap who was passing through; it became clear that they had been in the same fairly close-knit social group in New Jersey at some point (probably when they were at school) but had since fallen out of touch. As it …

Defining the social focus of the anglosphere

In the course of my Wikipedia research into the status and usage of the two official languages in Canada, I came across the following statement from the present Canadian Commissioner of the Official Languages:

Can we really define these three countries that simply? This troubles me. I know that class-consciousness is far more acutely tuned in the UK than in other places, and my present travels through the southern United States—and elsewhere in the …

Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles

I think this is pretty cool. Below you should be able to see a photo I took of a panoramic painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This is John Vanderlyn’s (1775–1852) ‘Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles’ (1818–19). It is a 360º painting which fills a room. You should be able to click and drag left and right on the photo below to move round and round in circles to see the whole painting.

This photo is a stitch of ten separate frames; you’ll note that I didn’t photograph the floor or the ceiling, which is why they are just black holes in the panorama. You need QuickTime in order to be able to view it, I’m afraid, and it probably won’t work in Internet Explorer.1 I will be publishing lots of photos from the Met and the …