Using date-based CSS to make old web pages *look* old


Screenshot of an early BBC news website from the 1990s. The page looks old fashioned.

How do you know you're looking at an old website? You may have found a page which has lots of interesting information, but how can you tell it's a modern and relevant result? Some websites don't contain dates in their URls. There may not be a © date or publication date shown on the page. […]

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Who said "Brits think 100 miles is a long distance - Americans think 100 years is a long time"?


Unfortunately or fortunately, this situation will prevail for some time to come, because the United States, as a nation, is going through a delayed adolescence, and we are questioning everything. We are a very new country, even if we are an old democracy, and we don't have it all down yet. As my friend Simon, an Englishman, says, "The British think a hundred miles is a long way; Americans think a hundred years is a long time."

It's one of those pithy little quotes which reveals so much about our two cultures. The average Briton considers anything more than a 45 minute trip a bit of a schelp, whereas Americans will seemingly drive half a day just to get some ribs from that one place they like. Conversely, I went to school […]

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Bryan Adams lied to you


A white plastic desktop phone with QWERTY keyboard and a video screen.

I'm always interested in when anachronistic technology pops up in the media. Whether it's Kelly Rowland trying to send an email using Excel, or people in spaceships developing film photographs, or futuristic moonbases which use BS 1363 plugs - I just love it! So, I was watching that absolute banger of a tune "When You're […]

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Book Review: "The Archaeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy: Toilets, Sewers, and Water Systems" by Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow


Book cover showing a photo of a row of Roman toilets.

I wish I could remember who recommended this book to me. It's not something that I'd usually choose to read, but it was surprisingly interesting. How did Romans take a shit? That's at the heart of this book. Not just the how - but the why, the when, and the where. How did foreign toilet […]

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Anti-Suffragette Postcards


Three postcards. The first shows a toddler girl writing on a blackboard - childishly writing things like "give us our rights" and a hangman showing a man being hanged. The second is of a fat and unattractive woman with the name "Aught To Be Spanked First" - she is saying "We only want what the men have got". The last is entitled Man's Reward and shows a woman using an umbrella to beat a policeman.

Due to a strange mix-up with an eBay order, I've come into possession of these rather quaint anti-suffragette postcards. I hope it is obvious that I am pro universal suffrage. What amuses me about these cards is how emotional they are! These aren't dispassionate arguments designed to calmly influence the rational man. It is all […]

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Touring TNMOC with a living legend


Photo of Bruce Perens and me waving at the camera. In the background is a banner for OpenUK and lots of old computer science books.

This is a retropost. It was written in 2022, but published later. Well, that was the most bizarre day. A few days ago, Amanda Brock - the CEO of OpenUK - asked if I'd be on a podcast. I agreed, and offered up my office's media studio for the recording. Then she asked if it […]

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Shakespeare's Missing Smile


Scan of a yellowing page. The ext has no brackets.

Exactly a decade ago, I wrote about how Shakespeare invented the emoticon. Nestled deep in "Winter's Tale" is the first recorded use of the typographic smilie :) As I discussed, Sir Smile's smile appears in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th folios. One hundred years after the 4th folio was printed, the smile vanished. The […]

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Book Review: Empireland - How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera


Book cover. A British bulldog sits atop a statue's column.

After reading Shashi Tharoor's Inglorious Empire I was keen to read more about my country's history. It's weird that studying history in the UK consists of the Tudors, Shakespeare, the Industrial Revolution, and the World Wars. Nothing about how modern Britain came to exist, our empire, its global and local consequences, or the path it […]

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Early forms of Interactive TV


A tiny black and white image of a boy on a telephone.

Way back in the mists of time, I did my secondary-school work experience at the BBC. Specifically, Children's BBC. Every day for a couple of weeks, I'd commute into White City, wander those hallowed halls, sit at a desk, and... You know... I can't remember! I know I got to visit the "Broom Cupboard", and […]

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Book Review: No Bath But Plenty Of Bubbles: An Oral History of the Gay Liberation Front 1970-73 by Lisa Power


Book cover featuring a GLF protest.

The Gay Liberation Front dragged homosexuality out of the closet, onto the streets and into the public eye. Its London supporters held the first gay demonstrations, organized the first Pride march and ran the first public gay dances in Britain. The Front contained an alliance of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transsexuals long before ‘queer’ […]

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