Showing posts from May, 2009


Today was the launch day of the Herschel and Planck satellites (I have as much trouble spelling the word satellite as I do spelling the word disposable!). I followed it on twitter. It's the first time I've followed anything happening that quickly on twitter and the excitement of the teams was very clearly shining through in their tweets during the hour or so from just before launch to first signal from the satellites once in space. Of course, the satellites have a long way to travel. L2 is a long way from earth, and even travelling at that many kilometres per second, it's going to take a while to get there. To paraphrase the wonderful Carl Sagan from the opening line of his book "Cosmos"... "Space is big" It's enormous. And it's got a lot of stuff in it. No matter which direction you look in, there will be an enormous amount of stuff laid out in front of you. Some of it you can see, and some of it you can't. But that doesn't me

What does it mean to be disposable..?

Last night, I was considering what it means to be disposable. We're all familiar with the concept of disposable razors, disposable pens and disposable nappies - but what would it mean to have a disposable mobile phone, or a disposable computer? Disposable means, in the purest sense, something which can be thrown away - but of course, anything can be thrown away so that's not a good definition. How about if we look at those things which are designed to be thrown away rather than repaired. Well that applies to almost everything we have in our homes - we don't tend to repair a rug if it gets worn, yet we wouldn't describe a rug as disposable. You can buy razors which you sharpen or replace the blades in. You can buy pens to which you add more ink when they are empty. And you can buy nappies you put in the washing machine rather than throw away. So maybe the distinction lies in the fact that rather than spend extra money on the item in question (by replacing a part o

I do stupid things

I like to think of myself as relatively bright. I can prove that pi is irrational or do a cryptic crossword. So why do I do stupid things? I'm not talking about making mistakes - that's only human - but there are some things which run contrary to everything I know to be true - yet I can't help myself from believing them. Don't worry - this isn't going to turn into anything deep, although it was heading in that direction. Earlier this evening, I cooked myself some lamb. The oven needed to be hot, but not at the maximum temperature. I know how thermostats work, and I know how ovens use thermostats to keep at the correct temperature. Yet, if I want the oven at 180, I still turn it up to 220 in the hope that it'll heat up more quickly. I know it doesn't work. I know that. But it doesn't stop me doing it.


It's long been a problem for those who run shops to strike a balance between catering to the widest possible market and running the risk of causing offence to others. Most recently, it's been Apple who've been in the news for trying to strike this balance. In one case banning The Sun newspaper and in another refusing an entry to the App Store from a pop group . And of course, before that, there was the case of the application which involved shaking your phone until the baby stopped crying. Whilst one could question the mind of someone who's write such an application, we shouldn't let emotion come in the way of deciding whether it's the place of the App Store to dictate the content of the applications being sold. This isn't an Apple-specific problem, of course, it's just that they have had the most recent examples - maybe by virtue of having the highest profile App Store for mobile. Those who take a conservative line on the censorship of applicat