Intelligent link caching

The Google Maps model gave us our first high-profile insight into what can happen on a website when it doesn’t wait for the user to do something to prepare what might next need displaying. By downloading the maps immediately surrounding the map you’re looking at, it allowed you to drag around the map seamlessly. It was revolutionary and was the forerunner for that horrible phrased, Web 2.0.

Most webpages, this one included at the time of writing, don’t do that. They display a page complete with a bunch of links to unloaded pages and wait for the user to click one before doing anything. What if there was a little link counter running in the background that weighted each link on a page based on its likelihood of being clicked according to users’ behaviour? And then some Firefox plug-in came along and on accessing a page, called the associated weighting information and started downloading the pages in the background in descending order of weight. Then if the user happened to click one of the most popular links, the page would appear instantly. Maybe the idea is superseded by the speed offered by broadband, but I’d like to think not.

Marti Bellow

Anna is indeed right. Marti gives out a lovely belch after the first line of Angel Eyes.


Hazel Blears

Very short, and oh so very annoying.

(Apparently, she’s 4’10". I can’t find the S.I. unit of annoyingness.)

Update: here’s some conclusive proof on the former.

Update 2: I’ve updated her Wikipedia page accordingly.

Tour de France dilemma

My very good friend Elise is coming to London town in the not too distant, which I’m very excited about. (I’ve only met her once, but what with the wonders of the internet, I consider her very highly.) However I’m torn.

She has expressed enthusiasm at the coincidence of her trip and the Tour de France’s kick-off in London, and would like to go see it. Now most years, I would have bitten someone’s arm off to join her, given my thorough enjoyment of the Tour, and the particularly mathematical nature of the prologue stage.

But Floyd Landis won the tour last year, thereafter failing a dope test. (Apparently, he’s still the official winner, which surprised me.) And meanwhile Bjarne Riis has just been asked to return his 1996 yellow jersey, having admitted four days ago to taking banned drugs between 1993 and 1998. Rumours are rife, as are positive tests and counter-claims.

Given the state that the sport’s in, I’m not sure I want to honour it with my support.

Working and not working

This weekend has been a chore-fest. Cleared out a load of stuff from a couple of rooms at home (which admittedly I’d put there over a period of time), took said stuff to the tip, made a couple of trips to Homebase (new ladder and new turf), laid said turf in the pouring rain having removed a couple of sections that had previously been irrigated with cat piss (not my choice), took my daughter to the fair with her Uncle Ben (again in the pouring rain) and generally kept myself busy around the house, given the Bank Holiday weather.

My laptop repays me for my hard work by dying. Bastard! Thanks. Not sure if it’s the power supply or the laptop itself. Hopefully that will be diagnosed today…

Slices of pi

Francis has done very well to work out what’s going on with the Oregon pi sculpture that I commented about. I do think he’s harsh in "stick[ing] it to [me]", though.

In my post, I told you that:

At no point in the post did I call the sculpture a numpty for his seeming amateurish knowledge of pi. I didn’t say the sculptor was wrong, but did indicate my lack of understanding for what he was portraying. And even reading Francis’ explanation, I maintain this view—unless there’s a more poetic story to explain the rationale, it seems bizarre to me.

Francis’ post does show the high number of characters/numbers that a cell can hold in Excel 12, though.

As an aside, I was thinking today that I’d like to build a house with a digit of pi pre-engraved on each brick. The leading 3 would appear in the top left corner, and the decimal expansion would continue from left to right, top to bottom down the house. It’d take some accurate brick planning, though.

Good work on working out what’s going on, Francis. I’m still perplexed, though.


So, I’ve taken Francis’ analysis to the next level now that he’s given the hint, and below’s what I’ve found.

Here’s the original sculpture, with some colour-coding.

Pi square

And here’s where it appears in pi’s decimal expansion.

Pi square 2

Here and here are links to bigger versions of the two images.

The number down the left plus the number at the top gives the decimal place number of each digit. So decimal place 305 is an eight.

Essentially, the cyan area has been picked up, shifted down a row and plonked to the left of the yellow bit, shunting it off to the right so that everything lines up. And the purple has done the same with the cyan. The only weird exception is the 897932 string which has been put on the right hand side of the top row, occuping positions 11–16.

It’s very strange. Very strange indeed.

Eat humble pi

My friend Jon kindly went down to the Oregon Zoo MAX Light Rail station to take a picture for me of an engraving that he spotted on the wall. An engraving of pi, by all accounts.

Here’s the picture.

Pi engraving

Now, that’d be pi to 106 decimal places, I hear you cry. But let me tell you, and let Rob echo me in telling you, that you’d be wrong.

It looks like pi, and the first row is pretty darned good. Whoopy do. Any eleven-digit calculator will tell you that much. (I only had an eight digit one at school, and could never understand why my dad needed a twelve-digit one in his office. To calculate the national debt? I digress.) But then it goes to cock. The second row should read 897932384626, assuming it’s intended to continue where the first row finished.

The weird thing is that the 897932 bit appears in the bottom right hand corner, from left to right.

Maybe it’s the first 107 digits of pi in a non-specific order. Or maybe it’s like a word search, only with numbers, where the onlooker has to circle certain strings from the first 106 places of pi’s infinite decimal tail.

Or maybe it’s just wrong. Seems like a lot of effort, and a lot of accuracy for something that’s so wrong, though.

Lady’s mobile conversation overheard on the 87 bus

"I can’t believe you kept going all night. I just can’t believe it!"

Context? Who knows.


A lady on the Number 3 bus this evening answered a call on her mobile phone. For whatever reason, no one was speaking at the other end.

She rattled off eleven hellos, each with a questioning tone, interspersed with confused looks into the mobile phone, before hanging up. I think I would have suffered two before giving up.

Tubular tales

A guy on the Tube just asked a fellow passenger the following question while we waited on board the southbound Victoria Line train in King’s Cross St. Pancras station:

"Excuse me, can you tell me if this train’s going the right way?"

The best she could do was point in the anticipated direction of travel saying "Well, it’s going that way".

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