WordPress 2.5

The mountain view aside, you’ll not have noticed much difference but I upgraded to WordPress 2.5 yesterday. All went swimmingly this time thanks to using the SVN based upgrade procedure (although I’ve just noticed that my last.fm feed seems to have vanished for some reason). I also took the opportunity to install a nightly version of the K2 theme which should squash a few navigation bugs that you may have noticed in the past.

The aforementioned header image is from the letter ‘F’ installment of the ongoing Hogmanay alphabet tour: Flaine.

Update: I found some more photographs in iPhoto that I thought may make nice header images and a random selection from these is now in place.

Emergent development

When the University of California at Irvine built their campus, they just planted grass. Then they waited a year and paved over where people had made paths in the grass. I first heard this in an interview with Larry Wall about 10 years ago but it may well be apocryphal.

I’m seeing parallels with what could be going on with Apple’s iPhone development plans. Release a basic device and wait for the crowds to clamour for what they feel is missing from the device. Pay attention to those that shout the loudest (case in point: the recent enterprise features) but make sure that you set some of the most popular requests to one side for introduction in the release of your second generation model.

Compare and contrast to the usual practice of bundling a metric ass-load of rarely-used crapware that serves mainly to clog up the menus on other phones. Video editing and ringtone composition on a mobile phone have been nothing more than gimmicks.

All points covered

I pointed out in a previous post that, between myself and a few friends, we had plans to travel East, South and West and I wondered if I knew anyone who was heading North in order to cover all points of the compass.

I don’t know him but nevertheless, I think that he deserves a mention. Ben Saunders is attempting to set a new record for a solo expedition to the North Pole. On foot. Unsupported. He’ll be pulling all of his supplies (all 60kg of it) on a sledge and consuming just shy of 6,000 calories a day.

That last bit doesn’t sound too bad.

Amusingly named eateries

Was it not for Kottke, I would have missed this paper on restaurant sobriquets and subsequently an earlier piece on the Guardian food blog. There are some absolutely hilarious examples in the comments but here are some of my personal favourites:

  • A Pizza the Action
  • Wok Right Inn
  • Thai Me Up
  • The Frying Scotsman
  • The Codfather
  • Jason’s Donner Van
  • Cheeses of Nazareth

I’ve not eaten in all of them so I can’t make any comment on the quality of the fare. I’m not sure I could ever order anything from the last in the list for laughing out loud whenever I even just think about it.

Global travel and technology

During preparation for my impending travels a few snippets caught my eye.

Airports are obviously a huge exercise in logistics. Getting through security can sometimes be time consuming but terahertz radiation scanners1 are one way of speeding things up. Obviously some people will be concerned at the thought of such intimate searches. At Heathrow’s shiny new terminal, if you’re not at the security gates 35 minutes before your flight is due to leave then you’re shit outta luck and will need to book yourself on to a new flight. It all may seem obvious but Wired have produced a guide to (not my pun) flying through security.

There is the argument that we’re all being encouraged to get through security checks early so we have to spend more time in the shops on the other side. Likewise with the fluid restrictions and not being able to bring your own drinks through – we are forced to buy them instead. People may argue that this is an obvious preventative measure to take but if it was such an immediate threat, why did Australia announce that they would be implementing similar plans three months ahead of actually doing so? I’m not the only one to have issues with these “security measures” Tim Bray has problems with his toothpaste. I’m kind of glad that I don’t have a MacBook Air to confuse matters even more.

Heathrow is home to the UK’s largest WLAN and is also forging ahead with technology in order to try and improve performance in all areas. Having trialled RFID baggage tagging last September a larger six-month trial is now underway. Speaking as a victim of luggage loss myself, this is welcome news.

Something that I’d never thought of before is the whole boarding process. This can make a huge difference in turnaround times. An older boarding process blew the trumpet of free-for-all unordered boarding that is popular for the budget airlines but now an astrophysicist has had another idea on how to improve things even further. If vast inroads are made in this area then the need for new airport terminals can be reduced.

1 If you can remember the giant x-ray security scanner in Total Recall then you’re not too far from having seen this in practice already.