Desert Skiing

Have it all, go on a beach holiday in Dubai and go skiing. Dubai now has what must be the largest snow-dome, which opened in December. Their longest run is four hundred meter run dropping 60 meters. To gain a sense of perspective they have installed a quad-chairlift inside.


Windows Compression Software

Considering what comes free with windows these days I find it quite astonishing that the most popular compression utilities are WinZip and WinRar. Not that this software isn't good, but it seems a large market for what is, it seems well known and publically available algorithms. Free compression utilities have been widely used and bundled on other systems for years. Do people really pay for WinZip? If they do, it must be like printing money. I know the complexity of compression algorithms is high, but it's not that high. Considering that free mp3 encoders/decoders are bundled with operating systems now.


Emotional Leakage

I've recently been reading Blink! Malcom Gladwell's book. I read it on holiday earlier this year, it's one of those books that makes you think. The writing is very anecdotal it makes you want to read it again.


The golden age of education

Education is close to every parent's heart. I can remember when I was at school, education was just as important then--- parents seemed often dissatisfied with the quality of education on offer. Consistently wanting the best schools for their children. It may be that there is no such thing as a perfect educational system. But parents always seem to cringe when the subject of problem kids are brought up. Why is it that there are a great number of schools where students aren't there for learning. The reasons are complex but one reason must be the culture; classrooms might end up in a shambled for exactly the same cultural reasons as city centre's turn into a brawl on a Friday night. It's not purely the school, although it contributes. If schools act as a stand-in parent when the real parents are out at work then there needs to be co-operation between the parent and the school. As far as "problem" kids go, if the parents have no ethics then how likely are children to have them. Pushing the limits is what children do though, and some of the worse behaved become the key contributors to society. It is important though to distinguish between not doing well at school and being disruptive--- you might not be doing to well, but don't drag the class down with you. There were notable underachievers at school; I heard for instance Einstein was not considered to be a good pupil. Partly because he was already preoccupied with what he was interested in. Everything else that the school demanded he learnt, he wasn't interested in. There is a difference from having a direction and no direction at all.


Un-Signing Applets

Recently I've done a job where I needed to sign an applet. I got unstuck as some of the jars had inadvertantly got signed with the incorrect signature. However I quite quickly discovered that all the data containing the signatures and the certificate are in the meta-data of the jar. To remove a signature on a jar you can un-jar it, and remove the meta-data portion of the jar (the META-INF directory) and then jar it back up. So in unix it would be something like:

mkdir tmp
cd tmp
jar xvf ../foo.jar
rm -rf META-INF
jar cvf ../foo.jar *

Politics and the Crowd

For many years now there have been movements against the sort of forgeign policy that America employs and the type of rhetoric that is employed to create change. Interesting people with a history of speaking out against US foriegn policy seem to have far more prominance recently. Noam Chomsky seems to be sold in every major bookstore, films like The Corporation, Fahrenheit 9/11 are in mainstream cinema--- rather than reserved for the art house and Pinter wins the nobel prize.

Pinter, appart from being a playwrite, has been a consistent critic of american policies over the years. Indeed he used his Nobel Lecture to openly critise how America has shaped global politics since the second world war. He suggests that the movement against this power is growing. Pinter though reminds me of some way's of Chomsky though--- both are highly literate and well educated. You could say they are both linguistic geniouses; Chomsky single handedly revolutionised the study of language and Pinter... well... won a more than one prise for literature. The point that they make and also they miss to a certain degree is not everyone is as clever as them--- although it is true to say that america goes to extremes--- some of their policies are blunt and too the point so there is no mistaking. Sometimes rhetoric and deplomacy don't work because the other side, not america, is not engaging in diplomatic channels.


SVG and Firefox 1.5

Almost silently apple and mozilla have added a new tag to html. It's buried somewhere in the small print of the mozilla website, in a few lines suggesting that the support for web-standards has improved. This though should represent a significant challenge to Microsoft who are now playing catch-up. If the hype is to be believed then this represent a real alternative to flash with by using the SVG technology and JavaScript. This represent's the beginning of a richer web content, sure flash has been there but there is definitely a point where you have to make a choice of placing something in flash or on the page. Tighter integration of the dynamic content with the page should create a more seamless experience. All open standards as well.