Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Harry Potter Personality Quiz

Which Harry Potter character has the same personality type as you? This test is based on the principles of the Myers-Briggs Personality Typing system. The result of this quiz will tell you not only you personality type but also which major character in Harry Potter has the same personality type, according to the test deviser’s evaluation of the characters.
Via Stephen’s Lighthouse 5 December

Apparently, I’m like Rubeus Hagrid! And I so wanted to be Professor McGonagall…

Sunday, 23 December 2007

How does Santa get up and down those chimneys?

There is interesting physics involved in this problem! And you can read about it here.
Thanks to the American Society of Physics and SCI Tech Library.

Saturday, 22 December 2007


Yes, that Rudolph -- the one at the front of the team who is guiding the sleigh through the foggy Christmas Eve.

Among the interesting scientific websites recommended for this time of year I really enjoyed this one.

You might want to ponder the genetics of Rudolph and his red nose.

Thanks to SCI News

Monday, 17 December 2007

Finding the right strategy

from by Neon Kelly 13 December
The government-backed Technology Strategy Board wants to play a vital role in the development of innovation in the UK. Research and development investment is central to innovation, economic growth and the UK's knowledge economy holding its own in the face of global competition.... >
Read the full article

I'm really uncertain about the juxtaposition of "innovation" and "government" let alone "vital role". After a 22-year career in the civil service and a further 15 years in small business I remain to be convinced that government is capable of innovating and governing at one and the same time.

10 more interesting things -- from 13 December

1 Communities and citizenship: exploring 20th century London resources
from Intute's Social Sciences Politics gateway
"The site includes a searchable database of the images which all have associated text setting them in their context. This section contains materials relating to immigration to London and the lives of London's migrant and ethnic minority communities. ... Copyright and technical information is provided on the website." Stunning stuff whether you are a social sciences student or simply interested in the social history of the last century through which readers have, of course, spent more time living through than this one!
2 Compact Oxford English Dictionary
from Intute's Social Science Research Tools and Methods gateway
"This is part of the site maintained by Oxford University Press. It provides free access to an online searchable version of the compact Oxford English dictionary. This contains over 145,000 words, phrases, and definitions of common English language words. Information on the edition of the dictionary and copyright can be viewed on the website."
3 Friday fun
from Intute's Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne
This week we look at the star of Bethlehem which led the wise men (or Magi) in their search for the the newborn Messiah. But what was this star and how did it lead the wise men? Opinions vary and various theories have been suggested. Links are provided to three different sites which provide insight into some of the different ideas about "the star".
4 Video: Spain Restoring The Alhambra
from National Geographic
Spain is embarking on an ambitious project to restore the Alhambra palace complex, a gem of Islamic and Renaissance architecture.
5 Marvellous to Behold: Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts
from British Library Press Releases
What is a miracle? Why have people for millennia believed in the power of the divine to intervene in human affairs? How has the wonder-working God of Abraham shaped the traditions of Jews, Christians and Muslims?
6 US gov't to British court: We can kidnap Brits, it's legal
from Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
The US has told Britain that it is legal under US law to kidnap British citizens from the UK (indeed, anyone from anywhere) if they are suspected of crimes in the USA -- and that this can be done instead of using formal extradition procedures.
Link (via Warren Ellis)
Unbelievable but true!
7 Knowledge in 60 Seconds
from Open Culture by Dan Colman
This morning Boing Boing highlighted a video that figures into a larger video collection that deserves some attention. The 60 Second Lecture Series is hosted by the University of Pennsylvania (aka Penn) and features prominent faculty members giving snappy, one minute lectures on topics of their own choice. The full collection can be found here. (Note: these videos work in Real Player).
8 History of religion in 90 seconds
from Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Maps of War has a library of 90-second Flash videos that show expansion and contraction of empires and religions over the centuries. The history of religion is a good one to start with. How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world's most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Selected periods of inter-religious bloodshed are also highlighted. Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds? Ready, Set, Go! Link
(Thanks, Rodney!)
9 Puzzle: three-way pistol duel
from Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
You're a cowboy, and get involved in a three way pistol duel with two other cowboys. You are a poor shot, with an accuracy of only 33%. The other two cowboys shoot with accuracies of 50% and 100%, respectively. The rules of the duel are one shot per cowboy per round. The shooting order is from worst shooter to best shooter, so you get to shoot first, the 50% guy goes second, and the 100% guy goes third, then repeat. If a cowboy is shot he's out for good, and his turn is skipped. Where or who should you shoot first?
10 John Milton's On Time
from 3quarksdaily by Robin Varghese

Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets pace;
And glut thy self with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more then what is false and vain,
And meerly mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.

It continues at Harper's.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Is virtual a virtue in scholarship?

Sheila Webber was interviewed by Daniel Griffin about information literacy a little while back, and the article has just appeared in Information World Review. Sheila originally said that the IWR article, which includes some quotes from Andy Powell of Eduserv, was not available online.
Added on 14 December -- "thanks to Andy and John for pointing out that the text of the article is reproduced in What PC".

Friday, 14 December 2007

Privacy alert: Cookie variants can be used to skirt blockers, anti-spyware tools

Although questions about Facebook's Beacon service have raised the ire of privacy advocates this week, little-known third-party, subdomain cookies could be tracking online user activity, too.
Thanks to ComputerWorld

The Information Literacy Cookbook: Ingredients, recipes and tips for success

I like Webology. Reading it brings to my attention things that many of the other journals don't and in full text without any hassle. I do not like that I have to remember to check for new issues -- or note from other sources -- since there appears to be no alerting or feed system.

That said I bring you a review by Hamid R Jamali in Volume 4 Number 3 September 2007 of The Information Literacy Cookbook by Jane Secker, Debbi Boden and Gwyneth Price (Eds.). Published by Chandos Publishing, Chandos House, 5 & 6 Steadys Lane, Stanton Harcourt, Oxford, OX29 5RL, UK. 2007, XIV, 162 p.,
Paperback, ISBN 1-84334-225-1 £39.95; Hardback ISBN 1-84334-226-X £57.00.

Jamali writes: A search in the Library of Congress’s catalogue for English books with "information literacy" in the title published between 2000 and 2007 results in more than 90 records. Information literacy has attracted a remarkable amount of attention during the last decade and much has been published by different groups including academics, librarians and information professionals and for various audience groups such as students, academics, information professionals and so on. So is there a need for a new book in this area? The difference between the book The Information Literacy Cookbook edited by Secker, Boden and Price and much of the existing work is that, as the editors stated, it is "written by practitioners for practitioners". All of the editors and authors of this collective work are information professionals and librarians who have the experience of working in different sectors of the library world. Their aim is to ‘create something that would be of day-to-day use by practitioners". Each of the chapters deals with a different information environment from school libraries to further education institutions. Therefore, each chapter could be read on its own meaning that this kind of book is not one that has to be read from cover to cover. The Information Literacy Cookbook does not try to introduce information literacy or to teach end-users how to improve their information literacy skills. The audience is information professionals and practitioners and therefore the readers are expected to have sufficient background knowledge on information literacy (although the editors do provide some background information in the introductory chapter and point the readers to resources for further information).
Copyright © 2007, Hamid R Jamali

Just as soon as I'm well enough to travel I'll try reading this in the British Library.

Covering the whole of the UK, is a site totally dedicated to science jobs.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Rail Recruiter

Rail Recruiter is a dedicated rail recruitment web site for UK rail jobs.

A more focused approach to recruitment that ensures total anonymity for candidates and a highly targeted selection process for recruiters, is unique.

I'm not sure about "unique" but it is certainly unusual, rare and any other synonym for "nearly unique" that you can think of.
One of the biggest issues for executives and professionals in researching the job market is that their current employer will find out too soon. A look around at what might be available is simply that -- it is not necessarily saying "I'm dissatisfied with what I've got" but could well be saying "The more I look at possible openings the more I like where I am". Guaranteed anonymity during the preliminary process is essential and this is what offers.

All UK government websites must be WCAG AA compliant

Brian Kelly at UK Web Focus (13 October) explains why he believes, along with a number of other experts in the field, that the requirement to comply with the WCAG Guidelines is inappropriate.

The UK Government has published a Public consultation on Delivering Inclusive Websites document (TG102). This document (available in MS Word and PDF formats) states that all government Web sites must comply with the WCAG AA guidelines by December 2008. And failure to comply will result in the withdrawal of the domain. Great, you may think. At last the Government is doing something positive for people with disabilities. I would disagree - I think this is a flawed approach for several reasons.

A well-thought-out argument that makes sense. Please read and comment back to Brian if appropriate.

Killing botnets

Botnets, networks of compromised computers, are here to stay. Sadly, the Storm is just one of many active botnets today. According to Dr. Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks, "We currently track about 1,800 live botnets a day. The bulk of those come up and go down within a day." As for how many machines are infected, he couldn't estimate. Is there are any hope that we might someday kill off botnets entirely? Read more

Thanks to CNet

Progress in synthetic classification: towards unique definition of concepts

Gnoli, Claudio (2007)
In Proceedings Information access for the global community: an international seminar on the Universal Decimal Classification Extensions and corrections to the UDC, 29, The Hague.
Full text available as PDF
The evolution of bibliographic classification schemes, from the end of the 19th century to our time, shows a trend of increasing possibilities to combine concepts in a classmark. While the early schemes, like DDC and LCC, were largely enumerative, more and more synthetic devices have appeared with common auxiliaries, facets, and phase relationships. The last editions of UDC and the UDC-derived FATKS project follow this evolution, by introducing more specific phase relationships and more common auxiliaries, like those for general properties and processes. This agrees with Farradane's principle that each concept should have a place of unique definition, instead of being re-notated in each context where it occurs. This evolution appears to be unfinished, as even in most synthetic schemes many concepts have a different notation according to the disciplinary main classes where they occur. To overcome this limitation, main classes should be defined in terms of phenomena rather than disciplines: the Integrative Level Classification (ILC) research project is currently exploring this possibility. Examples with UDC, FATKS, and ILC notations are discussed.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Home safe and well

And , no morphine cloud! I survived through the whole "after the operation" period with just the epidural topped up with paracetamol and codeine.
I can now walk so much better than I could before I went in to the hospital that I have to be VERY careful not to overdo things. I'm not officially back at work for another four weeks but when "the office" (or one of them) is only a step from the dining room and I can work all day in my nightwear and dressing-gown it's difficult to keep from doing something.
The plan is to work through the incoming mail and posts etc and then catch up with the drafts making them into substantive posts.
I don't think that anyone is overly bothered about much between now and Christmas anyway -- and rest assured that if it's urgent I will tell you about it.

PS: I've just heard that Dawn was taken in to emergency intensive care at 5am this morning following some kind of allergic collapse. No more details available as yet. If you can then prayer would be welcome by this devout Christian and her family, if prayer is not your "thing" then just send lots of good wishes over the air-waves.
Thank you.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


Forgot to admit that I have not cleared all my "waiting in the drafts folder" items but I'm now falling asleep over the keyboard so they will simply have to stay in the cupboard for a week (or so)!

10 interesting things I've read since 22 November

I have, of course, read a lot more than 10 interesting things in nearly two weeks -- and I've only got nine in here.

I had thirty-six hours notice that there is, hopefully, actually going to be a bed available for me in the hospital so it's in at 10am on Wednesday, operated on Thursday morning and get back to something like normality sometime the following Monday. The intervening period will be spent so full of morphine that I'll be on cloud nine!

Anyway -- the bizarre, the interesting and the thought-provoking (I hope).

  1. Webcam cheddar fetches £1,145 on eBay from VNUNET.COM by Ian Williams
    Wedginald, the cheddar cheese watched by millions over the Internet, has been auctioned off for BBC Children in Need.

  2. Speed penalty point plan attacked - BBC News from Inner Temple Library by Sally “Plans to increase penalty points for speeding motorists could ‘criminalise’ a large section of the UK’s workforce, driving instructors have warned.” Full story
    My immediate reaction to this? Unprintable! If you break the law then you deserve the punishment. And if the rats who race over the humps down our tiny street could be caught I'd be more than happy to do worse to them than "criminalise" them.

  3. Law won't help Darling's data victims
    The law is impotent when your data is carelessly lost or discarded by government or companies, discovers Stewart Mitchell of PCPro
    I don't understand why the data victims belong to the Chancellor nor do I understand why there is no recompense in law for damage done -- except, I suppose, that the damage hasn't actually happened as yet and could be a long way down the line for some people.

  4. Friday fun from Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne
    Did you know that Intute has a collection of interactive science quizzes? Check them out! They range from fun topics such as dinosaurs and chocolate through to more educational content such as mineralogy and the periodic table. Top quiz scores are posted on the site.

  5. The importance of art 35,000 years old discovered in the Swabian Jura. Originating some 15,000 years before the cave paintings of Southern France. Aside from the beauty this shows the importance of representational art in human evolution. You can read the article here, and Dave Snowden found it thanks to Thinking Meat.

  6. The Wednesday Word Wise Roundup from Word Wise by Dan Santow
    "Not too long ago – don’t ask why – I was trying to think of what that little indentation between one’s nose and one’s upper lip is called. Not only didn’t I know its name, I had no idea how to even start a search for it (Google “little indentation between one’s nose and one’s upper lip”?). Then I read about the Visual Dictionary Online at Lifehacker and within about six seconds learned it’s called a philtrum (“small cutaneous depression extending from the lower part of the nose to the upper lip”). The Visual Dictionary Online, from Merriam-Webster, is illustration-based and as Lifehacker points out, it can help you “find the name of a whatsit.” It's also a load of fun to surf through."

  7. Dan continues: "I’ve been ranting and raving for years about the use and misuse of the word “unique,” and a few weeks ago The Wall Street Journal’s online Style & Substance column weighed in (happily, on my side, even if that wasn’t its intention). According to the Journal: “Talent Scouts For Cirque du Soleil Walk a Tightrope: Ms. Giasson’s Tiny Acrobat Just Might Be Too Unique,” said the headline, resurrecting the perennial conundrum of whether there are degrees of uniqueness. The short answer, as we said ominously in May, is “not on our watch.” Because unique uniquely means one of a kind, we should say such things are too rare or too unusual. Then there is the issue of “unique” users aka “unique” visitors, an imprecise but often quoted measurement of the number of individual visitors to Web sites. When we use the term, we should use quotation marks around unique to indicate it’s an industry term that uses unique in a unique way."

  8. The English do poetry says Morgan Meis at 3 Quarks Daily
    Here are two opening lines:
    “Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,”
    “Lord, the Roman hycinths are blooming in bowls and”
    The first is from Walter Raleigh’s The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage, the second from T.S. Eliot’s A Song for Simeon.
    The American play jazz, the French write essays, the Germans compose music -- the English? They do poetry.
  9. Purge This from Kids Lit Get ready to be a little ticked off. Or a lot, if you are like me. Publishers in the UK are censoring children's books not for sexual content or violence, but for real evil. Brace yourself. Ready? They are protecting your children from (gasp) sharp objects and walking alone - IN BOOKS. Yup. So, no child in Britain will be exposed to the horror of sharp sticks, fire-breathing dragons, perching on ladders, or heating elements glowing red. Well, thank goodness that someone is protecting my children! I mean, silly mother that I am, I might have read them books about dragons, swords, painting the stars on ladders, or any number of things. Now let's understand what the real enemy is here: IMAGINATION! GASP!Wouldn't want those kids to start thinking, dreaming, learning! Just turn the TV back on. They won't see anything bad there. It's the books that are dangerous. You could lose an eye!
  10. Well that's going to have to wait until I get out of "that tha 'orspital" when I've been "done". I didn't think I was doing too badly -- got the printed ADSET Members' Update finished, PDF and Word versions created and sent; wrote a business newsletter for my colleague Leonora at The Accounting Bureau and all this with only thirty-six hours warning that there was, in fact, a bed booked for me!