Doorbell for the disabled? Or one that no longer works?

# Sign o’ the times

I stumbled upon this shop in King’s Cross yesterday.

It struck me as a little odd.

01 phone numbers were replaced with 071/081 in May 1990. which were in turn replaced with 0171/0181 in April 1995, and with 020 in April 2000. (As an aside, to research the dates I searched google.com for "01 071 0171 phone numbers", to find my own post of May 2006 topping the rankings. A cause for concern? Possibly.)

You’d have thought a sign shop would be well placed to replace its own signage more regularly than every 17 years.

# Call yourself a dev.?

I have a colleague. For the sake of argument, let’s call him Neil. (His real name is Neil.) He sent me an email today asking why the following Excel formula wasn’t working.

=IF(F648=1, 9, IF(F648=2, 8, IF(F648=3, 7, IF(F648=4, 6, IF(F648=5, 5, IF(F648=6, 4, IF(F648=7, 3, IF(F648=8, 2, IF(F648=9, 1, 0)))))))))

[Note: I’ve added spaces after each comma to allow the for inevitable word-wrapping issues.]

My immediate response was that Excel can only cope with eight nested ifs. (The last argument in his email was red, and this was indeed the straw that was breaking the proverbial camel’s back.)

I then asked what business problem he was trying to solve. He had a column of data containing values between 0 and 10. And he wanted to invert them, so that 0 became 10, 1 became 9, 5 stayed 5, 8 became 2 etc.

I suggested he instead used the following formula:

=10-F648.

There was a short pause on the other end of the line. Bless.

# Red Sox comebacks

It seems the Sox have done it again: from a seemingly hopeless
situation in the championship series, they’ve gone on to clinch a berth
in the World Series. In 2004, they were 3-0 down to the Yankees
before rattling off the next four games. The seventh game of this
series was played the night we landed in New York furnished with
visas: 21 October. I went down to Penang on Columbus to order
takeaway beef rendang and pancakes, where I caught the start of the
game and was filled in on the first six games by the barman over a
beer. Then back home to catch the rest of the game, managing to fend
off the jetlagged eyelids that seemed intent on closing. Fabulous to
see the Yankees lose in such dramatic style.

This year, the Red Sox have turned around a 3-1 deficit to the
Cleveland Indians, winning the final game in style 11–2 and scoring six runs at the bottom of the eighth, to set up a World Series against Colorado (one of only two rectangular states, the other being Wyoming). This must all be particularly hard on Johnny Damon, who defected from the Red Sox to the Yankees after their 2004 glory. Poor Johnny.

I wouldn’t ever want to face the Sox in a championship series. Not
likely that I will, but still.

# Kicker bokke glory

I thank you.

[Dan bows, then send his CV to the Sun in response to their advert for Chief Headline Writer.]

# Barriers to entry

I tried to download a programme for the BBC’s iPlayer tonight. Below were the hurdles I had to jump over to get to where I wanted:

• You’re not using Internet Explorer. That’s the only browser we support. [Dan switches to IE]
• You need to install iPlayer. [Dan installs iPlayer]
• You need to register for iPlayer [Dan registers]
• You need to install a security update for Windows Media Player. [Dan downloads]
• A license [sic] is required to play the selected video content. Are you sure you want to open the web page to obtain the license [sic]? [Dan hits Yes]

Not the best user experience to get someone to use your product. I then had to download the 578Mb programme itself (titled Beautiful Young Minds). I’m 7% in so far, at which point I realised it was sucking the life out of any meagre bandwidth I might have wanted to use to, say, post about the ordeal I’d just gone through to register.

It’s hardly Joost now, is it? The content may be better, but the UE sucks.

Update: iPlayer uses a P2P thingamyjig called Kontiki which hoards your bandwidth and gives your CPU an unnecessary workout (courtesy of a process called Kservice.exe). And this is when iPlayer’s completely shut down. Dreadful, BBC.

# Space: the final frontier

I hate incorrectly formatted space and punctuation in documents, even though it rarely has any bearing whatsoever on the aesthetics of the printed copy.

An italicised word or phrase should not have its surrounding spaces or succeeding punctuation mark italicised, for example. Underlining trailing spaces is common on the web, and drives me nuts.

I also hate redundant space in documents, something that baffles anyone I tell. A couple of trailing spaces after a full-stop, after which a new sentence once started, have no place. Please get rid of them for me.

# See you next Tuesday

I’ve often struggled with the ambiguity of phrases like this week and next week. And any reference to specific, proximous days, like this and next Wednesday.

Let’s start with this week. Assuming a Monday–Sunday week, my strict interpretation of the phrase is that it always means the week that you’re in. So if you say it on a Monday, it means any time until the following Sunday; if you say it on Saturday, then it means today or tomorrow, assuming a future event.

Next week means any time the following week. So if said on a Monday, it means between seven and 13 days out from today. If said on a Sunday, it means any time from tomorrow until a week today.

It appears that this is not everyone’s interpretation. If said sufficiently close to the end of the week, Friday say, this week apparently means any time from the imminent Monday until a week on Sunday. I’m not sure what next week means in such circumstances; one can only assume it means the following week, given the relationship between this and next.

Which brings us on to next Wednesday. Does this mean the next Wednesday with which we are blessed, or Wednesday of next week? If said on a Tuesday, common usage suggests that we’re talking eight days from now. But if said on a Thursday, I think I’d assume six days from now. Leading me to believe it means "Wednesday of next week". But on Sunday, someone referencing next Monday would probably also mean eight days from now, which is neither the next Monday nor Monday of next week.

Can someone give me the unequivocal truth, please? Surely it can’t be open to interpretation.

# Argentinian beef

A little harsh of the Wikipedia contributor to consign Argentina to defeat with 19 minutes left on the clock, trailing 24–13.

Likely, but harsh nonetheless.

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