Saturday, 25 September 2004

Hopeless train station

Ok, railways in the UK are not the best in the world but sometimes you really have the impression they're taking the piss. I need to go to Gravesend this afternoon. Trains leave from Charring Cross station. I need to be there at 7pm (before is no use, after is too late). I thought the best way was to go to the station, check the timetables and get a return ticket from the vending machine. Sounds too simple and indeed it is. Charring Cross doesn't have any timetables displayed. The only way to know about time is to ask at the information counter, which happens not to be staffed today, or to ask at the ticket office. Good I think, I'll go to the ticket office and buy the ticket at the same time. Sounds too simple again. There are only 2 windows open at the ticket office and the queues are huge, mainly because half the automated ticket machines are out of change and the ones that do have change don't accept bank notes. So mostly everybody has to go to the ticket counter. Fantastic! It only took me half an hour to check the times and get my ticket, when I should have been able to do this in 5 minutes. How useless is that? Then, next to the window, you have a board that says "If you have complaints about this station and its services, contact:" Contact who? The rest of it is so faded that it has become impossible to read.

This is 21st Century train services in the largest city in Europe.

Friday, 24 September 2004

How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved

The Register have a very interesting article on the future of the music industry and its relationship with technology, in particular P2P and file sharing. The main message is don't try to stop P2P and file sharing because will not succeed so the only way is to embrace it and find a way to make revenue out of it. All very sensible although I'm not too sure I like the taxes idea developed in the article.

Take the OS quiz

I found the OS quiz through Slashdot the other day. Quite interesting. Apparently, I am like HP-UX:

You are HP-UX. You're still strong despite the passage of time.  Though few understand you, those who do love you deeply and appreciate you.

Interestingly, HP-UX is the operating system we had at university and hence is the OS on which I learnt about UNIX and programming. So does it mean that the first real OS I played with influenced me that much? Or is it that it was a natural match? Or is this quiz just random?

Thursday, 23 September 2004

Spread Firefox

I've been using the Firefox browser for some time now and I recently upgraded to the 1.0 preview release. This browser is just what a good browser should be: easy to use, very fast, lightweight and has features that make browsing easy and painless again, such as a popup blocker, an integrated Google search box, tabbed browsing, etc. Also, because Firefox is open source, it is free, cross platform and you have complete visibility on what's under the hood. So, if you're fed up with Internet Explorer security patches or you just want the fastest browser on Earth, just go through 3 simple steps:
  1. Get Firefox Get Firefox!
  2. Register on Spread Firefox
  3. Spread the word!
In fact, I've not been the only one to get on the Firefox bandwagon, they've had a million downloads in just a few days. In my mind, the best thing about seeing Firefox succeed like this is that it gives an alternative to Internet Explorer. Fair enough, you already have alternatives out there, such as Netscape, Opera, Konqueror, etc. but I think Firefox is the only one that can really target the Windows and personal user market: Opera is not free unless you're happy with the ads; Konqueror only runs on Linux (as far as I know); Netscape is too bloated and too resource intensive. And having a real alternative to Internet Explorer can only be good as it will make web site designers think again when they want to use IE specific features. This is the best incentive for developers to follow standards and give back the choice to their users. So long live Firefox!

2 months without a post!

Yes, that's a long time! It's all been a bit hectic, at work and out of work. I went back home to France in July then to Azerbaijan in August and I'm about to go off to Brazil and Argentina. I've got to catch up now.