random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: December 2008 Page 1 of 2

Zoo of Untrue

Thought I’d post this little selection, sadly missing from its original home, before it gets lost in that tangled salad of Internet pipes. Also an excuse to try out WordPress’ gallery function without putting any effort whatsoever into creating pretty pictures.

WordPress 2.8 Roadmap

With the latest 2.7 release barely out of the door, the WordPress team are already looking to set out the roadmap for 2.8. The recent update had an impressive mix of tweaks, fixes, features and a nice interface overhaul, and their little survey has a list of tasks to prioritise for the next release. Unfortunately, however, the one thing I should really like to see doesn’t make an appearance, that being some simpler ways to create a multilingual blog built into the core. At the moment there are a number of plugins out there that offer to do just that, and whilst they may do exactly as they say on the tin, the potential for a plugin to become outdated and fall behind the current WordPress release could create a lot of work sometime in the future, not to mention the fact that each plugin goes about creating a multilingual environment in its own unique way. Whilst I’m not alone in calling for at least some standardised framework, I can’t see any progress being made in the near future.

Power Grid

Power Grid is a simple, business game for two to six players, in which participants compete to buy power plants, the fuels to run them, and then build networks to sell their generated electricity over. In turn, the profits from electricity sales are used to build newer, improved plants, supplying more electricity, stockpile resources, earning greater profits, with a winner eventually determined on who supplies the most consumers.

The gaming elements are simple enough that the rule booklet, which is clearly written, can be read through and understood virtually in its entirety immediately before play. Each turn of the game runs through four phases. Firstly, power plants are bought at auction, each player proffering an available plant in turn, with the plant going to the highest bidder. Purchased plants are replaced from a visible ‘futures market’, allowing players to plan ahead with their bids. The second stage involves buying raw materials from the market. Each plant produces energy from one of five sources: coal, oil, garbage, nuclear or renewable. The latter plants require no raw materials at all and are oft hardest fought over at auction. The other fuels become increasingly expensive as supply dwindles, forcing players to either diversify their sources, or stockpile for future shortages. The third phase has players building an electricity network to supply power to their consumers. The network costs are based on proximity, and as players can only initially build in unoccupied cities, good initial placement can be a crucial factor. The final phase of the game is called the ‘bureaucracy’ phase, dealing with the supply of electricity (and thus generating profits), and various bits of setup to keep the game flowing.

1001 Books To Read Before You Die

This is one the larger circulars out there, of a fairly arbitrary list of books to read. The source is a title of the same name that appeared in print, edited by Peter Boxall. It’s not a particularly bad selection, and with any such list it would be impossible to please everybody, but I think it is fair to say that the more recent decades were rather over-represented (in particular 70 books from the 2000s, despite the book only being published in 2006). However, the list does make a good starting point, and it’s nice to see Miss Rowling’s works were conspicuous only by their absence — just such a shame that the price to pay was that of excluding all children’s literature.

As for getting through the list, I doubt very much if I’ll even read 1001 books before I die, let alone fiction books, or the particular ones from this list. However, I have ticked off a few titles already, and no doubt as many of them coincide with titles on my reading list I’ll be able to whittle the list down a little further. Titles I’ve read to date are in bold.

Last update: 1st January 2023

Wireless for the Masses

Free Wireless

Free hotspots in your area?

In the last year, I heard how Dublin City Council had given up on plans to run a free, city-wide wireless Internet programme on the grounds that it was against EU regulations, anti-competitive and bad for the consumer. As Ireland currently has some of the slowest and most expensive broadband options available in Europe, it seems obvious how the consumer will benefit from having to continue paying for their poor services. But there could be a nicer alternative to centralised WiFi. In a post much earlier this year, Bruce Schneier generated a lot of debate when he claimed he leaves his wireless network open and unprotected for just about anyone to use. This he considers a common courtesy, and whilst acknowledging the risks, considers them to be largely inflated. As many of the people commenting on his article or reporting about it elsewhere point out, there are risks involved, and as far as many of the people in authority are concerned, his common courtesy leaves him much more culpable. Many ISPs stipulate that sharing a connection in this manner would be a breach of contract, and from a legal perspective infringements undertaken by someone piggybacking the network could result in a rather unwelcome investigation for the owner.

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