Open for business

Edinburgh’s Princes Street reopened yesterday – a couple of hours late thanks to torrential overnight rain – ready for the Christmas shopping rush.

A few months ago the Edinburgh Evening News asked if Princes Street was heading down to the road to ruin due to the tram works driving people away.

Personally I don’t think that the tram works are solely to blame (although they haven’t exactly helped). Legions of charity muggers, gouranga monks, aggressive big issue sellers, beggars and cheap tourist tat shops blaring out intolerable bagpipe noise have done more to make Princes Street an unpleasant place to visit than the never-ending fences, noise, dust and reek of tar caused by the relocation of utility pipes and laying of tracks.

A telling position

I ran into some issues while developing a site recently. Specifically, implementing an RSS feed of the clients news items. The XML validated perfectly fine and opened up in my testbed of various online and dedicated feed readers. However, the client insisted that something was broken. After much head-scratching and self-doubt I ascertained that the issue came down to the use of IE7 to view the news feed.

I never knew this before but IE7 will refuse to display any feed that uses a DTD. Apparently DTDs are insecure and every single one is untrusted. Yes, even those provided by the W3C.

I think that this says everything that you need to know about Internet Explorer’s attitude toward the foundation that develops free and open web standards.

Your vote counts!

The Glasgow North East by-election results were announced today and they totally defeated a prediction I made in the wake of the furore surrounding the results of the European elections a few months ago.

Such was the public outrage, I reasoned with a good amount of confidence that the next election would see a surge in the voter turnout. Instead, only 33% of people bothered themselves to mark their ballot paper. A record low. The BNP finished fourth and trailed the Conservatives by just 0.3% or 62 votes.

A staggering 41% of 16-25 year olds believe that immigration is not good for the country and these are exactly the views that the BNP are pushing. A separate poll shows that 22% would seriously consider voting BNP in the next election.

The more credible political parties clearly need to stop simply dismissing the BNP and answer the concerns that the populace so obviously have. The recent appearance of Nick Griffin on Question Time was never going to be an ordinary broadcast. Eight million people – that’s quadruple the amount of regular viewers – were attracted to the circus. I have no idea of the BNPs proposals on education, taxation or healthcare but these were obviously never going to be addressed.

Either radical reform is needed where either casting your vote is as made easy as voting for your favourite contestant on a Saturday night talent TV show or, preferably, people are educated to start to care once again about who is running the country and their neighbourhood.


I like to think that any business that I have dealings with will set out to give me at the very least a good level of basic service. Be they utility suppliers, a clothing company, or even – let’s say – a restaurant. You know, just for example.

The Stendhal in Milan, you can consider this free advice:

  • Don’t offer complimentary welcome drinks and then charge for them
  • Don’t offer to upgrade to a “nicer” bottle of wine for the same price as the one we asked for and then charge the difference
  • Don’t try and cover up these indiscretions by not giving us a receipt

Now I bet that you’re wondering where your tip went. Funnily enough, it was about the same as the extras you piled onto our bill.