Book Review: Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

A Greek helmet.

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. Achilles, “best of all the Greeks,” is everything Patroclus is not—strong, beautiful, the child of a […]

Continue reading →

Data Is / Data Are

Binary code displayed on a screen.

To be clear - I don't care about this; I just think it is interesting. Is the word "data" a plural? On a strict reading, yes. Datum is singular, data is its plural. But humans are spongey meatbags who evolve language. And there will always be a tension between traditionalists and modernists. So, I took […]

Continue reading →

What's the point of a lecturer?

A young, beardless Terry - wearing graduation robes.

Backstory - I'm doing a taught Masters course. It's going OK. Mostly. But I've been thinking about the nature of university lecturers. This Tweet has been doing the rounds. HI EXCUSE ME, I just found out the the prof for this online course I’m taking *died in 2019* and he’s technically still giving classes since […]

Continue reading →

Book Review: I'm a Joke and So Are You

Robin Ince dressed as a clown.

I don't understand this book. I enjoy Robin Ince's stand-up comedy, and have marvelled at his incredible free-association at numerous events. But I'm not so sure that it works well as a book. What makes us funny? What drives us to entertain others? The first half of the book takes a high level view of […]

Continue reading →

Review: BitCoin Hurricane (SimCavalier Book One) by Kate Baucherel

A bitcoin network visualisation.

Everything that BitCoin and BlockChain touches is poisoned. Except for this fun wee book. It's a near-future sci-fi cyber-heist with a great cast of characters and some delicious predictions about how the Internet of Things could go disastrously wrong. Thankfully, there's very little technobabble. I nodded along with most of the technology - only pausing […]

Continue reading →

The unreasonable effectiveness of simple HTML

The HTML5 Logo.

I've told this story at conferences - but due to the general situation I thought I'd retell it here. A few years ago I was doing policy research in a housing benefits office in London. They are singularly unlovely places. The walls are brightened up with posters offering helpful services for people fleeing domestic violence. […]

Continue reading →

Movie Review: TiMER

A woman holds the hand of an unseen man.

It's rare to find a sci-fi / rom-com crossover - and it's even rarer to find one that's good. TiMER is excellent. Like all good speculative fiction, it changes just one aspect of the modern world - what would it be like if you knew exactly when you would meet your one-true-love? It doesn't bother […]

Continue reading →

Game Review: The Secret of Monkey Island - Special Edition

High resolution graphics.

Blogging like it's 1991! I'm pretty sure that I had the shareware version of the original Monkey Island. At any rate, I remember the amazing graphics... But I don't remember getting further than the first few screens. I do remember a few years later, my brother and I completing the CD-ROM version of "Day Of […]

Continue reading →

Moore's Law and Cars

Car leasing screen - the car is £194.73 per month inc VAT.

Briefly (and incorrectly) put, Moore's Law estimates that the cost of computer power halves every 18 month. Got a grand to spend? Wait a couple of years and you can buy twice the amount of computer for the same cost. Or, if you prefer, the old computer for half the price. The Nokia N95 - […]

Continue reading →

What's the "Uber" of the Civil Service?

Royal coat of arms of the UK. A lion and a unicorn.

There's a famous quote from Tom Goodwin about the way the world has changed recently: Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting […]

Continue reading →