Seldo.Weblog: November 2005

Voter Registration

So today, Islington Council sent us a voter registration form, asking us to confirm our details (I dunno why; is there an election coming up that I've not paid attention to?). Endlessly lazy when it comes to mailing in paperwork, we noticed that there was an option to complete your registration online, at the improbably named register-online.co.uk (I am amazed that nobody had previously registered this domain). Note the elegantly spartan web design: it's either bleeding-edge 2005 or hopelessly primitive 1996, but only the secret guardians of Islington Council IT department know for sure.

Despite the incredibly dodgy appearance of the site -- which reassuringly didn't purport to reveal or even know any personal details -- the ID number and password supplied in the letter we'd received did indeed work, and we confirmed our details, to be presented with what I believe to be the best thank-you screen I've ever seen:

Thank you for using the Internet

The "all_done.php" filename is quaintly amusing in itself, but it is line 6 that really takes the cake, with the wonderfully polite "Thank you for using the Internet". It's not every council that goes out of its way to thank you for being technologically literate in general, as opposed to just thanking you for interacting with their server in particular. So, to Islington Council, we say: you're welcome. We will continue using the Internet.

P.S. I want it that way.

Ade

03 November 2005
They canvass for voter registraion every year about october.

That used to be the only way you could register, and if you missed it you were buggered. now you can register when ever you like, as they update the register monthly.

Make sure you tick so that you are not on the edited register, otherwise you will get lots of junk mail and phone calls.

Robert

03 November 2005
It's for the whole country I think - and it has bee naround for ages, so it's more likely to be the 1996 option. But it is nice to see simplicity in anything public sector (note to Gordon)

The Final Countdown

As of right now, I have four more working days left at my old job before moving onto the new. Today I met up with my new colleagues for some pre-start introductions, and discovered that my new boss has already found this blog. So, as previously, there will be no blogging about my job or co-workers on this blog, especially not about my boss, not even about how great and clever he is ;-)

Oh, how I itch to tell you all where I'm going, but you must wait another few days I'm afraid :-) But it promises to be big and exciting, and I'm massively looking forward to it.

In other news, tomorrow is the re-opening of Popstarz after Simon's untimely death. No queue-jumps this week; I will be properly queueing this time, from early on, like I used to. Standing outside in the cold for a couple hours is the least I can do to show my appreciation for my favourite club night and the great man who created it.

Breaking news

According to the latest edition of Holy Moly, Davina is "seriously considering going into the Big Brother house for the next sleb version."

I take it that you all already appreciate just how awesome that would be.

Ade

04 November 2005
are they getting that desperate to sign people up for it then?

Popstarz Forever

As a celebration of Simon's life, it couldn't have gone better. Hundreds of people queued for hours to get in, with most donating more than the minimum £5. The dancing started earlier than usual, and the celebrity guest DJs kicked in at midnight -- Brett Anderson (lead singer of Suede, which they should have mentioned, since name recognition was not high), Brian Molko of Placebo, Siousie Sioux, Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, and more after I left a little after 2am (it was too crowded by that point to dance, and I'd been dancing since 10pm anyway).

One wall of the indie room was taken up by huge blank sheets of card, which were quickly covered with scribbled tributes from everyone there, ranging from grateful to sappy to heartbreakingly sad. Sometime around 1 the staff of Popstarz, Ghetto and Trash Palace gathered on stage and handed out hundreds of free drinks to everyone, and with them high in the air we toasted the wonderful life of the very special Simon Hobart.

It was the right way to do it, and as Tommy said, it was exactly how Simon would have wanted it done: everybody got drunk, everybody had a good time, and it raised a little bit under £10k for charity.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Warning: while the following post is spoiler free, it contains dangerously high levels of smugness. Smugness can be harmful to your mental health. Smugness while pregnant can piss off your baby.

Thanks to the boundless generosity of my BAFTA-member friend I.G. (not his real initials ;-) ), I was lucky enough to attend a special screening of the latest Harry Potter movie this evening in Leicester Square. The screening was a few hours before the big glitzy premiere at Odeon Leicester Square, but we were treated to a brief talk beforehand by the producer and director, and the stars were brought out on stage to be ritually embarrased. It's tough enough being teased about going through puberty without it being done in front of 6000 strangers.

The film itself was brilliant. There's no such thing as a genuine spoiler when the book has been widely-read and released several years ago. There are a few departures from the book, but none of them glaring and generally in the interest of brevity or visual interest rather than a change to the actual plot. The child stars turn in credible performances. I thought Rupert Grint (Ron) was the weakest of the three this time around, while Daniel Radcliffe, who has previously been a bit ropey, finally gave an excellent performance. That may reflect the structure of the book, though: this movie is much more about Harry than the others, which were much more about the cooperation of the three friends with Harry as the lead.

Despite being just under 3 hours long, the film is extremely fast-paced, a consequence of cramming 500 pages of book into a mere movie. The CGI sequences are huge, beautifully detailed and absolutely seamless. They didn't strike me as quite so giggle-worthy in their grandeur this time, but that might be because the content of the movie is much more serious.

As the producer mentioned when he introduced the film, this is genuinely a very different movie to its predecessors. Just like the child stars themselves, this Harry Potter movie has grown up. It's not quite a film entirely for adults yet, but it is much more than a "kids' movie", and this is especially noticeable at the end: if this were a kids' movie, some sort of happy ending would be absolutely essential, and this is something the director had admirably resisted providing. Unlike the book, which ended on a shocking and depressing note, this is tragic but optimistic, genuinely poignant and moving, and there was a fair amount of sniffling from the audience as people filed out of the cinema.

It's a film worth watching, and then worth watching again. Go see. I leave you with an incredibly blurry photo of the stars of HPatGoF, taken with my not-at-all-snazzy but nonetheless new Nokia 6230i (so long, Sony-Ericsson k700i, it was crap knowing you!):

I promise, this really is a picture of some famous people

McGregor

07 November 2005
It is a film for children. No amount of chit-chat can change that fact.

Testing whether I can blog from my new phone...

Testing whether I can blog from my new phone...

Josh

08 November 2005
Evidently you can.

Michael K. Brown

09 November 2005
Blogging on company time warrants an immediate dismissal.

Mike

Laurie

09 November 2005
Yeah, like Mike would ever comment on my blog ;-)

igster

10 November 2005
Like it would really matter anyway...!

ed

10 November 2005
Speaking of which, is the code of silence over yet? Yesterday was the last day, right?

Taran

11 November 2005
congrats on the gig!

The new place: I do Yahoo

I've put some new photos up: Dan's birthday and leaving drinks at Boltblue. Speaking of which: yesterday was my last day at Boltblue, which means I can finally announce that my new job is with the fine people at Yahoo! Europe. For those who've not heard how it all went down yet, here's the story, in excruciating detail...

At the end of August I received a call from Spencer Rose, a job agency (and my new best friends), saying they had a job that I might be interested in from a large, undisclosed Internet company, whom my agent strongly hinted was one of the biggest, and in search, and not Google. So, uh, that'd be Yahoo then. (Or Yahoo!, although I have been assured that I am under no contractual obligation to spell it that way). The job originally offerred was a very high-paid permanent role that required four years of experience in mobile web technologies. Mathematics fans will note that four years ago it was 2001, when almost nobody had a phone with any sort of sensible Internet access. So there aren't loads of people with four years of mobile web experience -- and they do exist, I've met some now -- and most of them already work for Yahoo or Google. So they had widened their search, and were reducing both the salary and the requirements -- so I, with my 1 year of mobile web at Boltblue and four-plus years of everything else, was a candidate. Would I be interested, they redundantly enquired, since I'd have to be brain-dead not to be.

So they sent me through a big 14-question essay-style interview, where they asked some fairly detailed questions about my opinion on various technical matters. For the truly geeky (and, I guess, for people who want a job like mine), my answers to that questionnaire are at the bottom of this post. The week I had to answer the questionnaire was also the week I had that really bad flu, so on a Friday when I was home sick from work I spent four hours in a fevered delerium coming up with answers to these questions, and sent it back to them.

Apparently being half-dead from flu is a good state for answering questions, because they came back again about a week later, saying that Yahoo were very impressed with my responses and would like to do a telephone interview the following week. They described it as a technical interview, so I should carefully review my answers to the questionnaire. The date rolled around, and I spoke to Matt, my new boss, who was at that point in California. Matt said the interview would in fact be an informal, get-to-know-you type of interview, so I sat in Finsbury Square park, and he sat in his office in Sunnyvale, and we chatted about what it's like to work for Yahoo, the joy of a company that encourages you to regularly visit its US campus in Sunnyvale, California (outside San Francisco), development processes, the importance of testing, my third-year project (predicting three years ago what everybody is doing now, which impressed, and the fact that I had missed the major aspects of how it would be implemented was conveniently overlooked), and why the web is shit and needs to be improved. It was all very cordial, and I thought it went well. Matt said the next steps would an in-person, technical interview, and a final interview with his boss, Paul.

The feedback from the telephone interview was good, and they said they'd like to do an in-person interview: this one would be technical, so I should carefully review my answers to the questionnaire. Of course, I was off to New York that week, so it was arranged for the Wednesday after the Tuesday I got back. So, jet-lagged and exhausted from an action-packed week in NYC, powered up by two bottles of lucozade and a cup of tea, I arrived at their offices on Shaftesbury Avenue on Wednesday morning, in full monkey-suit. There I met (consulting notes now) Jon and David, manager of testing and a front-end developer respectively. They said that actually, it would be an informal, get-to-know-you interview (are we spotting a pattern here?). So we spent an hour chatting about my employment history, what it's like to work at Yahoo, my opinion on PHP versus Java, how the company is structured, and a bunch of other topics. This went very well, I thought, and as we wrapped up they said they would get Paul, who was originally supposed to be in the first part but had been too busy to make it.

Paul turned up 3 minutes later, looking stressed-out and harassed. He asked me to summarise my career history in 10 sentences or less (I got it down to five), and had one other question: "you're very young. I wasn't expecting that. You'll probably be the youngest person on the team. How do you think that will work?" I explained that I have always been the youngest person at every company I've worked at, and that I've been doing the web since 1996, so any questions about whether my age affects my ability dries up pretty quickly after my first few weeks. Immediately after I answered this, he said "right, I've got a read of you. They say you should get the read of someone you're interviewing in the first 30 seconds, and I've got it now. So that'll be all." As he walked me to the elevator, he said "so, we might call you in for another interview, or we might just make a decision".

I had no idea what to make of this. Was 3 minutes to get a "read" a good or a bad thing? Was "make a decision" code for "decide against" or could it be a hire decision as well? Paul also promised that I would hear by the next day.

That was a Wednesday, so I spent all of Thursday on an absolute knife edge, jumping every time the phone rang, checking for messages every 15 seconds, and generally pumped full of adrenaline, pestering my agent with phone calls to see if she'd heard anything yet. This turned out to be pointless, as I got no news that day. I took this to be a bad sign -- people are generally quick to say they've hired, but take ages to break bad news to you, as they no longer care about you. To take my mind off of things, I went out to Miss-Shapes that Thursday night until late, so on the Friday morning I was on 4 hours sleep and hence could not be anything but relaxed, or at least comatose, when I got a call on my mobile from an "unknown number" -- always a sign of an agent calling.

I ran to the abandoned office to take the call, and sure enough it was my agent. "I have some feedback for you from Yahoo," she announced in a sombre tone. My heart sank further -- "feedback" is what you get after they decide not to hire you. "Yahoo were very impressed with your performance at interview," she continued, as I braced for the "but", "and they've decided to make you an offer".

And that was it, all over bar the goodies: a chunky pay rise, health insurance (which I already had), life insurance (which I didn't), stock options (woo!) and a pension. And of course, a job at Yahoo, one of the world's biggest Internet companies, and a place I fantasized about working at back in 1996, when I got a modem, saw the Internet, built my first web page and realised that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At the time, I remember trying to visualize working for Yahoo or Amazon (Google wasn't around back then), and thinking "but dammit, they don't need anybody new. They've done everything." Luckily, that particular prediction was wrong. The plans I've heard at interview for the stuff they're, sorry, we're planning to do in the next few months and years make me sure the job is going to be interesting, and I'm going to be working on genuinely new and interesting stuff that nobody is doing yet. This is, and has been for nearly a decade, my dream job, the one I thought I would never be good enough to get, and I've got it. Woo!

And yes, in case you're wondering, I can indeed blog about all of this: Yahoo has a sensible and reasonably straightforward Corporate Blogging Policy. I still don't intend to blog about work regularly, but when exciting new stuff happens I'm sure I'll let you all know :-)

Geeks only beyond this point

Now, for those who wondered what Yahoo's interview questions are like, here's the questionnaire I got, and the answers I gave. The original questionnaire was 14 questions, I've snipped a few that related to personal details.

  1. What developer tools do you prefer to use to do front-end coding? What do you like about them?

    I do most of my development using the Eclipse platform. At work I use the free PHPeclipse plugin, while at home I have been trying out the MyEclipse commercial add-on and found it quite useful. Eclipse is invaluable for project work in our team, as it lends itself to packaging up code as a project, including automated building with Ant for JSP projects. I also like its easy integration with CVS, which encourages developers to commit often and branch when necessary by taking the hassle out of doing so.

    I also make extensive use of two text editors: Crimson Editor and NoteTab Pro. Crimson I use for doing "spike" coding, i.e. a single-page proof of concept to show that a particular feature can be implemented as planned. I like it because it’s very quick and has extensive syntax-highlighting libraries for nearly every language I’ve ever used. NoteTab Pro is just a simple text editor that I use primarily for its powerful search and replace function, which is great for completing repetitive text processing tasks.

  2. What technical books or web sites do you reference most in your daily job?

    The most frequently visited sites on my documentation bookmarks list are the PHP manual, the core JavaScript 1.5 reference, the Java API docs, and the JavaScript DOM, as well as the CSS 2 properties index. When coding mobile content I make extensive use of the Openwave Mobile Profile and CSS Reference.

  3. Which standard of HTML do you prefer to code and why?

    For web development, XHTML 1.0 is my standard of choice [Please ignore the hypocrisy that is this blog. I'm working on replacing it sometime Real Soon Now™ - Ed.]. Older browsers handle it without significant trouble, and the extra rigour in terms of document structure that XML demands leads to more easily maintained code and fewer render bugs. There are also numerous well-documented technical reasons, such as the ability to transform it with XSLT, its greater accessibility, and "future-proofing" code for future development as all web development will eventually be in some flavour of XHTML. However, even without these reasons I prefer XHTML for pragmatic reasons, since fewer render bugs save me time.

    For mobile applications, XHTML + CSS is pretty much the only sensible option to be rendered across multiple devices with any degree of control over presentation. At the moment most sites produce a fallback WML version, but the majority of WAP users in the UK are XHTML-capable. I expect WML development will eventually stop being cost-effective, although for a very large customer base such as Yahoo’s that might take a very long time. [I have since discovered that international markets, e.g. India, are huge areas of WML development.]

  4. How do blind people use the web? What can web developers do to help?

    Users who are partially sighted tend to use magnifiers, large fonts, and contrast-enhancing colour schemes. For these users, using XHTML and CSS carefully means layouts will be able to gracefully handle enlarged fonts (by using em instead of px units, when possible) and colour schemes can be more easily overridden with an external style sheet set by the user’s browser.

    Users who are entirely blind may use a screen reader or Braille converter. For these users, the internal layout of the code itself is very important, for instance placing the important content first in the source code, and moving navigational content lower down, using CSS to place the content more appropriately for sighted users. Using the semantic nature of XHTML correctly can also help these users, since screen readers can recognize text in an H1 tag as being important, text in UL as being a coherent list of items, etc..

    For both these types of users, it is of course also always important to make sure any text that is contained within images is also available as plain text, either within ALT or TITLE attributes or simply repeated. It’s also vital to make sure that any features of the page that rely on JavaScript are also available through ordinary navigation. However, both of these guidelines are general rules that also apply to sighted users who may have images or scripting turned off.

  5. Name a few ways that web developers can help to improve page rank in search engine results?

    Many of the same rules that help users with vision problems are also useful techniques for increasing page rank, as search engine spiders cannot read text within images, usually ignore JavaScript, and place more weight on text within the TITLE tag and the various H* tags, as well as text that is closer to the top of the source code. So again: make sure all text in images is available as text, make sure no vital information is hidden behind JavaScript, and lay out your source code in order of importance rather than order of display. In addition, it can help to use links with meaningful text rather than just image links or links that say "click here", as search engines place a lot of weight on the content of links.

  6. What are the pros and cons of using CSS vs. tables for page layout? Which do you use most and why?

    Unless you have a major requirement to support very old browsers, you should always use CSS for page layout. Table-based layouts were a hack, a clever way of getting around the lack of powerful tools to control page layout in early browsers. The major advantage of a table layout, therefore, is that it is more likely to work in older browsers. The major disadvantage of table layouts is that they wreck the semantics of the page and hence diminish the accessibility of the page for those using screen readers. They also make life difficult for users of devices with unusual form factors such as mobile devices, as the content cannot be easily converted into another layout, leading to tedious horizontal scrolling or simply being unable to display the page at all. CSS was designed from the ground up to be a way of controlling presentation and layout of a page. This means it is a much more powerful and flexible way of laying out a page, which is an advantage in itself. It also does not interfere with the semantics of the code. The disadvantage of CSS is that support across various browsers has in the past been unreliable, and older browsers do not support it. This means that only a subset of the full capabilities of CSS can be used with confidence and that if you have a requirement to support older browsers (5 years or more), you cannot use CSS.

  7. What are web standards good for?

    Web standards improve the user experience by making development easier. The existence of a standard means web developers can work to that standard and be more confident that their designs and layouts will be competently handled by a wide range of browsers across devices and operating systems. For developers of browsing applications, it gives them a sensible development goal to achieve. This creates a virtuous circle in which web developers produce more pages in that standard because it works on more devices, and device developers support the standard because most web pages are written in it. This improves the user experience, since more web pages will display correctly, and more web applications work correctly, for more users.

  8. What trends have you seen happening in the web development world recently?

    The big, underlying trend in web development has been the shift away from the development of web sites to web applications instead. Users are getting a lot more than the static information of a collection of pages and are instead beginning to use web applications as tools to get work done, organize information, or communicate.

    There has been a trend more recently of sites that exploit network effects amongst their users to provide extra value to all. Flickr, for example, is not just a site for storing photo albums but also a community for showing them off, and during recent world events such as the Boxing Day Tsunami and the London bombings it became a popular way for people coming to terms with the situation to get pictures of what was going on. Audioscrobbler (now Last.fm) allows users who share their music-listening habits to find and communicate with people who share their own taste, as well as discover new music through automatically-generated recommendations. These effects are of course nothing new – eBay exists thanks to network effects, and Amazon has been doing automatic recommendations since the mid 1990s – but the trend is now more widespread. Yahoo itself has ventured into this territory with My Web 2.0 beta, which builds on bookmark-sharing functionality made popular by del.icio.us.

    Most recently, there has been a sudden surge of interest in Ajax-based technologies. This blanket term for a combination of XHTML, XML, and JavaScript (in particular the XmlHttpRequest object) is used to refer to a new breed of web applications, most famously Gmail and Google Maps, that truly deserve to be called applications. In their level of responsiveness and the general behaviour of their user interfaces, these applications do not act like a series of pages with the typical request-load-render cycle, but instead create a single interface which then seamlessly displays information retrieved as XML via a series of asynchronous background calls to the server without re-rendering the entire page. This is the most exciting development in the web space for a long time. [Since this interview, Yahoo has launched the really very sexy new Yahoo Maps and started beta-testing a new version of Yahoo Mail based on the work of the excellent Oddpost people.]

  9. Are you aware of how Mobile Billing works?

    My curent job is based around premium-rate reverse-billed SMS, as well as more conventional billing methods such as premium-rate phone calls. I have developed several mobile billing and content-delivery applications. This has mainly been via third-party interfaces, so I am not closely familiar with the details of the protocols and technologies involved, but I am very familiar with the concepts involved such as MO billing, MT billing, retrying, recharging and network querying, and the general flow of user interaction with mobile billing services.

  10. What does Mobile Device Management mean to you?

    Mobile Device Management is an emerging set of techniques and software tools produced to handle the enormous variation in the capabilities of mobile devices when attempting to deliver mobile content and services. Unlike the web market, where there are a handful of browsers, which are substantially similar across multiple platforms, the mobile device market is extremely fragmented, with big variations in functionality between devices by the same manufacturer, and even between firmware versions on a single device. Technologies including the WURFL are beginning to emerge to provide a way to centrally discover the capabilities of any device, and software such as the WALL are providing a way to seamlessly adapt content to match these capabilities. In addition to these open-source solutions, there are a large number of emerging commercial solutions.

ed

10 November 2005
Yahoo's got a pension rather than a 401(k) type thing? I find that somewhat surprising. Neat.

edan

10 November 2005
They're right, that is intersting :-) Though tbh realising how much of that I already knew makes me feel like /such/ a geek. *cries*

Laurie

10 November 2005
I'm not sure what you consider the difference between a 401(k) and a pension, as we don't have 401(k) here obviously...

Josh

10 November 2005
Congratulations, of course! Naturally I'm very impressed.

Chris

10 November 2005
Congrats, Laurie. And good luck.

Dave

11 November 2005
Sounds totally different to the Google interview process, a very technical telephone interview followed by an even more technical telephone interview followed by yet more technical interviews on site.

But Yahoo made a good choice, well done!

Clare

11 November 2005
Congrats! Now must stay in your good books so when you are an important manager-type person you can call me to recruit all your staff! (I'm not kidding!)

michael, St E

11 November 2005
Your href to http://krook.org/jsdom/ is missing an enclosing double-quote. The Lj feed noticed. :)

Laurie

11 November 2005
Gosh, well-spotted.

Comedy Gold

A man goes to the zoo

But when he arrives, there's only a dog.

It was a shihtzu.

(Via T)

Will

18 November 2005
Please close your italics tag, it's breaking Planet Afterlife! :-)

Laurie

19 November 2005
Done :-)

Graham

19 November 2005
My wife went to see a stand-up comedian.

Jimmy Carr?

No, she went of her own accord

T'was the night before Yahoo...

Tomorrow is the big day! Suddenly I'm terrified. Wish me luck!

Chris

14 November 2005
Good luck :)

Well, that wasn't too bad

It's all still pretty much at the introductory phase, but I'm liking it so far. The overwhelming impression now is one of size. Yahoo is so big that absolutely everything has to be re-examined in terms of practicality. PHP have some performance problems? Don't work around them: patch PHP. Apache not dealing with cookies conveniently? Create a module for it. Getting a new machine, an endless round of grovelling and delays at every other company I've worked at, is a matter of asking for one. Oh, and I get two: one laptop, and one desktop to act as a server. Docking station? Just ask. VPN access? No problem. WiFi? It blankets the building, obviously. The resources available certainly make you feel like you can accomplish absolutely anything, which I guess is the idea.

Oh, and of course, IM is actively encouraged: you can get me on Yahoo messenger anytime :-)

Reading: Diaspora by Greg Egan. A damn sight better than the frustrating, depressing, dissatisfying On by Adam Roberts.
Listening to: How to be dead, Snow Patrol
Watching: Thumbsucker. It was great. Call out to your power animal!
Wearing: great coat and scarf. It's fuckin' cold.

StE

16 November 2005
How does _On_ compare to Robert's other books? I rather enjoyed _Salt_ seeing as how it was frustrating, depressing, and ultimately dissatisfying.

But then I'm a contrary creature. :)

Jon Stewart in London

Stop press! Jon Stewart is coming to London! I've booked 4 tickets for the 7pm showing on the 11th; get in touch if you want to come along with me and M or get some tickets of your own.

Much thanks to housemate T for the tip!

Update: All 3 spare tickets gone. Call 0870 850 9176 to book your own.

Zzzzzznnnnnneeeeeeeeeeee...

I've just been for my annual dentist visit, when I blow all the money I've saved by not drinking repairing the damage done by all the fizzy drinks I drank instead. Three fillings this time, which is above average for me -- usually it's just one or two. And yes, I get fillings nearly every time I go -- my teeth, genetically predisposed to be weak to begin with, are really not looked after and are a total mess :-/

Having moved around a lot in the last few years, I've ended up using a new dentist nearly every time since: the time before this was Harringey Dental Care, which was frankly rubbish: a disastrously botched filling, which chipped off 6 months later. This time was Blackstock Dental Care, which so far was more confidence-inspiring, although the dentist was a bit heavy-handed and kept humming along to the Pussycat Dolls, which makes me question his judgement.

Which brings me to a point: why isn't there a way of comparison-shopping for doctors and dentists? Like restaurant review sites, this would provide basic contact details, and then let people write reviews and give ratings on a 1-10 scale for quality of, say, diagnosis, treatment, after-care, and value for money. It seems like there's a real market for stuff like that. Anyone want to register www.medicalratings.org.uk with me?

Rik

19 November 2005
I would, but I avoid doctors like the plague, and I don't have a dentist any more (hooray for the NHS!)...

Good idea, mind you...

Dom

19 November 2005
Arn't you supposed to go twice a year?

Laurie

19 November 2005
Yeah, but I only remember to go when something is wrong. My new place claim they mail you every 6 months to remind you...

Bob

19 November 2005
I know someone who works the NHS dental line who thus knows when new local dentists' places are coming up, so I abused my friendship to get my first booking in 5 years. Now, I've always had ok teeth, but I was told to give it a whole year before coming back for a checkup, instead of the normal 6 months. So my teeth are either awesome, or my dentist is a bit busy and slightly incompetent.

Clare

23 November 2005
My dad and his girlfriend have a good dentist in London, could find details if you want them. THink they charge the earth though, vaguely remember a conversation about paying £600 for a couple of caps or something. They do, however have these cool goggle with headphones which allow you to watch episodes of SATC whilst having work done.

I just enjoy the benefits of having a girlfriend with dentists as parents. Free treatment, whenever I need it. Just dreading the point when they decide to retire!

I love Defective Yeti

Kitten illusion

Sober up

Jennifer Anniston has been drinking pretty heavily since her breakup with Brad In the BBC's continuing coverage of extended opening hours, they have repeatedly used the image at right. Clearly, Jennifer Anniston has been drinking pretty heavily since her breakup with Brad, but is it really necessary to shame her publicly?

Hannah

29 November 2005
I know this is kinda random but you really should go to Paris. it's so really pretty there! I loved it when i visited it a couple a years aog when i was on a student exchange to englang and my host family took me there. in case you can't tell im american. okay im done with my random comment. see ya
*Han*

Take me to Paris

Eurostar will leave at 7pm Friday from Waterloo and take me back at 6pm on Sunday for £75. Total journey time is 4 hours each way (I love long train journeys in the way that others love long plane rides).

We live so close to Paris and we never go! Does anyone fancy going to Paris this weekend?

ed

23 November 2005
Who loves long plane rides? At least on the train you can admire scenery. Even in business class, transcontinental flights are pretty draining.

dave

24 November 2005
4 hours is not a long train ride, it's my journey into work every morning!

Anything special about this weekend or you just taking advantage of a good offer?

Oliver

24 November 2005
I would, but I've other plans this weekend (birthday lunch with family for one).

But spontaneous is good.

That extra yahoo! cash is obviously burning a hole in your pocket.

IT IS SO FUCKING COLD RIGHT NOW

I don't have much else to say, except I'm really digging Yahoo! now. I'm beginning to get a handle on things. Of course, next week my new boss comes back from vacation and it'll probably change all over again :-)

Paris can wait. Take me somewhere warm.

Lazy blogging ahoy...
Reading: this week's Economist, but lugging around The Cornelius Quartet for when I feel like getting my brain fucked
Playing with: Konfabulator (it's so much fun!)
Thinking about: What to get people for Christmas.

dave

25 November 2005
You're rightit is getting cold, I had to put the heating on, usually I don't feel this cold until mid december.

Now if only Mike let me work from the Australia office...

Josh

26 November 2005
I've just Konfabulated - how fantastic is that app!

Laurie

26 November 2005
Yes, yes! More people use fabulous Yahoo! products! More!

I think I use exclamation marks more these days.

jes

17 December 2009
the rasmus are the best band that ever lived!! end of!! the rasmus are amazing!!

jes

17 December 2009
soz 4 the last comment i was on msn and here at the same time s it must have typed on here not on there lol

yer it is freezin i hate it

Louis Vuitton Handbags

31 July 2012

Your post is really good providing good information.. I liked it and enjoyed reading it. Keep sharing such important posts.

It remains cold

I intend not to leave the house until Monday. Say Hello to Christmas shopping online (only two presents left!).

All I want for Christmas

On the off-chance that you are considering buying me something for Christmas, I have an Amazon wish list you can check out. I've just brought it up to date (mainly by pruning items I've already bought) so feel free to go nuts.

Contrary to the spirit of giving of the above, however, I have recently been forced to be selfish. For months we've known that one of our neighbours has been "sharing" our Internet connection -- odd IPs returning pings, that sort of thing. Recently this has got totally out of control though, with our access speeds reduced to a trickle as he or she hogs nearly the whole pipe. Over the last day I've been trying to subtly get the point across by restarting the wireless every hour or so, which shakes them off for a few minutes and indicates they're unwelcome. But that did nothing, so today I was forced to do some research into our router configuration and turn on the security, locking our intruder -- and any innocents, who just wanted the connection for some light surfing -- out. Which is a shame.

Leah

26 November 2005
It amuses me that you want to read Junky by Burroughs, wouldn't Queer would have been more appropriate? I have most of the books of his you've listed if you'd like to borrow them- they're at my parents' place but I will be stopping by there briefly sometime soon, so let me know if you'd like me to pick them up.

Laurie

26 November 2005
Well, it's unlikely you'll read this for my response, but yes please ;-)

Graham

26 November 2005
What happened to the old trick of renaming your access point to "PleaseDontHogOurBandwidthOrWeWillHaveToEnableWEP" ?

I was accidentally using my neighbour's Wireless for a while: for some reason, I was connecting to their point (cleverly named "linksys") instead of my own. If I felt like it, I guess I could have gone to their configuration page, and locked them out...

Laurie

27 November 2005
Yeah, our guy could have done that, but it had a password and was at a non-standard IP, so maybe he or she couldn't find it.

edan

27 November 2005
Either it was an accident, in which case they needed told, or it wasn't, in which case they probably thought themselves very clever and needed a slap.

Also, Re: the list; be suspicious if you receive Vurt from mikey, as i just bought it for him :-) Alternatively borrow it off him.

...And Pullman is still rubbish.

Laurie

27 November 2005
I'm quite certain it was intentional, but I don't mind if it's intentional (we have plenty of bandwidth to spare) as long as it's not excessive.

Webgeekery

Pop quiz: when coding a website, and creating a style sheet, which of the following do you consider less trouble when you need to come up with a new RGB hex code for a colour:

  1. Look up the colour in an online chart and copy-and-paste
  2. Fire up your favourite graphics package and copy-and-paste
  3. Calculate in your head what the correct RGB sequence for the colour you want would be, and type it in directly

You see, I'm worried, because the answer recently became 3 for me. I'm beginning to move away from the obvious ones -- red, green, blue, black, white -- into secondary colours like yellow and purple, and I'm branching off into pastels. It worries me because I wonder what actually useful skill is being pushed out of my head to make way for the ability to count in base 16.

Reading: documentation
Wondering: how soon after starting it's considered kosher to start working from home (it's so cold! I don't wanna leave the house!)
Dreaming: of the #88BBFF, #88BBFF skies of home...

Tom Williams

27 November 2005
It's 3 for me as well, unless I've already decided on a colour scheme from a photo or something and noted down the colours I'm using.

Rik

27 November 2005
2 for me if I'm looking for a new shade or matching a colour from a photo, but 3 whenever I'm just after a stock colour or a variation on a shade.

Have been calculating colours in hex in my head for some time and not giving much thought to what it's probably replaced. I never wanted to remember how to work a cup-and-ball, anyway. Finally, I never use online colour charts.

Roses are #FF0000, Violets are #3333FF, etc...

Ben

28 November 2005
4. use rgb() (with made-up numbers) (and, generally, curse the W3C that they didn't include lab() or cmyk(), as I find either easier to think in nowadays, especially when tweaking a colour I already have :) )

or 2 if I can't be bothered to think.

Laurie

28 November 2005
You're all hopeless geeks.

At least it's not just me though.

Unselfish

So, Pink Lady says the students of Warwick are imbeciles for banning smoking in the union. I disagree.

There are a few tangential points I could make, like a union that can't compete on drinks prices being doomed to start with, or the union always appearing on the brink of financial ruin until the next squadron of freshers arrive, or that half the services provided by the union appeared even in my time to be self-aggrandizing busywork for too many staff. But these do not come to the core of my disagreement, which is the Lady's accusation that such a move is "selfish".

Stupid? Debateably. Illiberal? Certainly. Financially damaging? Almost certainly. But selfish?

Let's consider if the vote had gone the other way. In that case, a majority of students would have been selfishly forcing others to breathe in their smoke, risk getting lung cancer, and wash their hair and clothes of pollutants at the end of the night. Non-smokers may be selfish, but at least their selfishness doesn't irritate the eyes and throats of the pure, decent smokers who are generously filling the air with the fumes of tobacco at no charge to the grateful student body.

Of course it's selfish. Democracy is the people voting in their own self-interest. It would be stupid to do anything else. Democracy is government by the majority of selfish people, and democracy, like its sister capitalism, operates on the principle that people will be maximally selfish all the time. You want them to be selfish.

So hurrah to a smoke-free union! I just hope I and my fellow selfish non-smokers will soon get a chance to vote the same way London-wide. And if it turns out the smokers are still in the majority, we'll just wait for a few more of them to die off. It won't take long.

edan

29 November 2005
Seldo.com: where even an anti-smoking post can turn into a right-wing rant.

Laurie

29 November 2005
Championing democracy is right wing?

Oh dear god. I just used the phrase "championing democracy". Christ, I really *am* right wing...

edan

29 November 2005
Your penultimate paragraph is extremely right-wing, yes. Also, as long as Bush is still the leader of the free world I'm baffled you can still tubthump about democracy with a straight face =)

Trixie

29 November 2005
I find the penultimate sentence utterly disgusting.

Also yes it is selfish if you think about it in terms of:

The person who voted to keep smoke out of the union was thinking about keeping smoke away from them, not about how the revenue which will be lost because of this will make the union fall into debt and thus have to cut services which many others find helpful.

I can't remember from my union trustee days whether we can overturn a referendum because of commercial issues, I know you can certainly do that with normal policy.

See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/3497340.stm
and
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3497796.stm
for what happened in Leeds with regards to takings.

But I havent' read the policy so I don't know how it has planned out what will happen.

Zaty

29 November 2005
I am a non-smoker, and will always vote against a ban, just like I would vote against a ban of, well, practially anything else. I don't believe in banning things, and am not selfish enough to desire to impose my tastes on others. The reasoning that people always vote selfishly is probably true in most cases but certainly doesnt make for 'good' democracy. People voting selfishly will always ultimately end up with a society like America. Fortunately, european culture has a bit more respect for liberal thoughts. I'd like to think that ultimately we could live in a society which extends Voltaires "I don't like what you are saying but will defend uyour right to say it" to encompass what people do as well as what they say. SUch a society would be without homophobia, without busybodyhood, and without banning things.

Rik

29 November 2005
I can't see it making any difference myself.

Why a ban in the first place? I think I can count on both hands the number of people I saw smoking in the Union in all the time that I was there.

Bob

30 November 2005
Zaty says she/he's "not selfish enough to desire to impose my tastes on others". But that's what smoking does. Literally! I can actually taste the smoke from the pub I was in tonight right now. "Banning" is indeed a harsh word. But if people not having the right to impose their tastes on other people is your concern, then surely those that spew fatal pollutants into the air when I'm trying to have a good time are the ones that have to stop imposing, even if it involves regulating them into not imposing.

Rik says he "can't see it making any difference". Well, it would be less smokey, wouldn't it? That's a difference, right? -- (Or did you really only see a number you "can count on both hands" of people smoking in the Union? Maybe your vision was obscured by, umm, some kind of smoggy grey veil?)

Unselfish, part 2

To understand this entry, read both yesterday's post and the comments, in particular Zaty's and Trixie's.

I defend your right to say anything, absolutely anything. I'm not so sure about your right to ingest anything; it seems like there are some things it's probably a bad idea to let anyone take on a whim. But what I'm definitely not for is your right to inflict harm and discomfort on others. Words may never hurt me, but others smoking is not just uncomfortable for me, but proven harmful to me. Even the most liberal societies have prohibitions against murder; once you have admitted that preventing citizens harming one another is a legitimate interest of the state, the question is simply one of degree, and increased risk of lung cancer is where I currently, and admittedly arbitrarily, draw the line.

I don't support, for instance, this government's ludicrous ideas about restricting salt and sugar intakes; that's a serious nanny-state situation. That's because your burger doesn't harm me, and nor does your heart attack, apart from marginally raising my taxes via the NHS. Your right to be a homosexual also falls under this category, because consensual sex never hurt anybody unless they wanted it to.

But as for "a society like America", which of America's societies do you mean? The consistent monolithic characterization of American culture by Europeans annoys me. Do you mean the American culture that produced Mark Twain, Burning Man, and the Internet*? Or the American culture that kept segregation alive into the 1960s, and is currently trying to ban the teaching of evolution in schools? One of those is all about banning things which harm nobody, which I'm against, the other is a proud liberal tradition which harms nobody, which I'm for. Neither of them has much if anything to do with a culture of selfishness.

If you want to talk about the capitalist side of America's society, then I'm not sure you can argue with the world's largest economy, considered independently of the society in which it sits, as being undesirable. And if you want to say that society and economy are intrinsically linked, then it's worth pointing out that New York and California, two of the biggest state economies, are also two of the most liberal states. And coincidentally, both of those states have also banned smoking in bars and clubs.

Trixie's argument, that the ban cuts profits and hence services, is a point much more open for debate. While at uni, I was an officer of a society and so had more than just an average student's insight into the services on offer. And as I said originally -- anathema to some of the union hacks in my circle of friends, I know -- the union seemed rife with useless services, in addition to the genuinely good and useful ones.

These defences in place, I maintain my stated position: that selfishness is an essential and desirable trait in both the student body and the public at large, and that it has resulted in a change to the union -- fewer services, but fewer carcinogens -- that is to the net benefit of its members.

* But the web was invented in Switzerland, by a Brit. You may deem this a victory for European culture if you like.

Art

29 November 2005
"self-aggrandizing busywork for too many staff"
"rife with useless services"

name one :p
you think a union that was on the verge of bankruptcy a few years ago would let this be the case? you think i, as a previous director of the company, would let this be the case???

"Democracy is the people voting in their own self-interest.:

Bite *you*.

when I vote, I vote for what I think would be best for everyone, not just me. Higher taxes? Bring it on, it may screw up my pay packet but it means better for a whole other bunch of people.

Of course smokers are selfish, of course I don't want to breathe their cancer-fumes, but we have to think cold hard commercial sense when it comes to this. They will go elsewhere, it will affect the Union's revenues, and that will have a big fat impact on the work we have done. If you read the motion in question, in voting for the ban, people were voting for cuts to certain areas. That *is* selfish.

Laurie

29 November 2005
Understand that I am playing devil's advocate here, but...

Naming one: the (original) Glitter Ball. They splashed out a ludicrous sum of money on pre-booking a conference centre for a ball, with no idea who was going to throw a ball or why. That said, we had a great time, and the subsequent GBs were all fab too.

Naming two: International week was really lame, and as an international student I should bloody know ;-)

However:
Making a decision for reasons of "cold, hard commercial sense" is what's best for everyone? Even if that decision will negatively impact their health? I know I'd rather not have International Week than have lung cancer.
What really seems to be at stake here is that, as an employee of the union, *your* budget will be cut by the smoking ban -- in fact, your whole job might be cut. Since your power, and by extension your job satisfaction, is pretty closely linked to the size of your budget, I would say that opposing a smoking ban is entirely a selfish move on the part of union staff, motivated by a sense of self-preservation.

Josh

29 November 2005
As a union officer for the last three years at a different place, I have been following this debate with increasing concern. Simply to add some background to this debate, the motion that was put to the referendum can be read here:

http://www.educationet.org/messageboard/posts/64393.html

mauzo

29 November 2005
Although a smoker, I would *support* the ban. And, indeed, any ban on smoking in any *indoor* public place, including a general national ban (though preferably with exceptions for places that explicitly wanted to allow smoking). I can quite see that it makes life unnecessarily unpleasant for what is now a majority of non-smokers. Outdoors, I would say, is a different matter.

Art

30 November 2005
Its not actually my job any more, so really I should care less!!!

One world week actually makes a profit, and several thousand other international students seem to enjoy it...

And you are talking of the Union when you were on an exec- an entirely different creature from the Union now, bearing in mind that in that year it nearly went bankrupt and most of the management was stripped out as a result etc. Of course the first GB was a silly situation. Lots has changed since then.

Note to self, dont post on blogs after 4 glasses of rioja....

ed

30 November 2005
Laurie, you know I love my NYC smoking ban, but claiming that it's about preventing others from harming you is utter crap. I know this is pretty standard boilerplate libertarian stuff, but if you CHOOSE to go to a bar/restaurant, etc., you are choosing to deal with the smoke. Are the smokers being inconsiderate? Yes. Are they violating your personal intergrity? Hardly. Public smoking bans are very much part of the nanny-state, and you need to admit that. They're just a part of the nanny-state that's not all that bad an idea.

Which brings me to the other thing -- all these claims of losing revenue and such are laughably wrong. Bars in NYC and SFO are doing just as well as before, despite all the wailing that took place before the ban. People choose to go out based on income, etc. If they want to smoke, they step outside. And then they return. Hardly the end of the world.

Both sides of this debate need to quit the drama-queenery, because it's really irritating.



ed

30 November 2005
Also, **Burning Man**? Are you really holding that up as an example of high culture/innovation? Really? A bunch of drugged up hippies in the desert?

You really have changed since you started working for people from Cali.....

Steven

30 November 2005
Two points. FIrst, people don't vote carefully for the greater good, they vote in their own self interest or whatever their tabloid of choice tells them to. People don't take the balance, they pick the one thing that pisses them off the most and vote for the other guy, or they vote for the party that give them personally the most tax breaks, or for some other singular and narrowminded reason. They certainly don't weight up all the pros and cons across all society, especially in this country. I mean, tax breaks for the poor!? Who wants to help a bunch of chavs?

Secondly, if you choose to go to a bar/restaurant who have to first define what it is you are going for. Is 'to smoke' on this list? You go to restaurants to eat and talk, less debatable there, but to a bar? You do to a bar to what? Talk to friends? Drink socially? Drink to get pissed? Pull someone/thing? I may choose to go to a bar but i don't choose to come out smelling of smoke and having puffy eyes. People can smoke anywhere, it's only their stupid and weak minded addiction forcing them to suck burning tubes of dead leaves that keeps them doing it. It's certainly not for the benefit of the friends they go to see, unless it keeps them slightly more on top of the game for conversation.

Steven

30 November 2005
Damn, character limit...

Of course, I don't mind to much to be honest, but i'll argue the point as if anything arguing for smoking of any type is just insane. There is no good thing that comes from smoking. You make a load of rich people richer, support an industry that bleeds poor people (chavs) dry with a 'tax' on their worthlessness and ignorance, causes 10's of thousands of deaths a year and billions siphoned from medical bugets that could be used to save starving african orphans (did you think about the starving african orphans, eh?) and worst of all, is an addition, a chemical dependancy. I can think of nothing worse than being at mercy to my own body in such a public way. We may all have dependancies, and maybe even addictions (I'm wanking as a right this) but to display them for everyone to see, to be even proud of what your body is forcing you to do, the money it's forcing you to earn and then burn away, the damage it is forcing on your lungs that you know full well about but do nothing because it's too far in the future to concern you now. All of that it just, undignified.

Art

01 December 2005
revenue is an argument. There's a different between a universal ban on smoking (ie all venues) and a ban just for one venue that has competitors which allow it.

mcgregor

01 December 2005
Some people seem to have a very depressing outlook on life... everyone is selfish, people only look after themselves, no-one will vote for their neighbour, just for number one. Humanity is doomed, doomed I tell you!

Don't you want to lock yourself in every night with a shotgun and a copy of the daily mail?

Laurie

01 December 2005
Who says I don't?

The Daily Mail is only there for use as toilet paper, obviously.

Chez

02 December 2005
A lovely little, erm, "discussion". (lovely as in, I'm enjoying reading it - personally I'm undecided)

Question is this: how is this ban going to be enforced? No one's mentioned that yet.

I'll bet you (from spending years on the Union door) that no one bothered to ask the Stewards if it was practical.

The observant will have noticed that the Union did have no-smoking zones before. The bars, for one, and I think the Graduate was supposed to be non-smoking. But it wasn't practical to enforce them when there were 30 stewards on in a night, let alone when that got hacked down to fifteen, or the half dozen or so badged door staff they have now - much like the rule about taking drinks on to dance foors, toilets and stairwells (don't believe me that that was against the rules? Check the back of your old skool Union Tickets).

Knowing uni students, this will end badly if the policy isn't simply ignored by the staff. But they won't be allowed to ignore it because there will be the usual busy-bodies who will snitch on anyone having a crafty fag and demand the strict enforcement of all rules (that suit them).

People will get hurt*, there will be a fuss, and as usual the union staff will get the blame.

*- their pride that is, which is a very delicate, yet important thing, to most students.

Robert

02 December 2005
Just a point: Student Unions are hardly the greatest democratic institutions - the turnout for referenda (and even mre so for elections - I was a union councillor for a year when almost non-one failed to get elected) tends to be so low that the result suggests that the majority aren't bothered eiter way.

Rather more practically, whether a vene allows smoke or not is a consideration for me - I was agonising over my choice of coffee shops near uni, with Utopia (independent, funky, nice food but smoke) vs Starbucks, and I often ended up checking out how smoky Utopia was before deciding.

The Union was always reasonably smoke free so it probably doesn't make too much difference anyway - it certainly wouldn't here in Sheffield if similar were to happen...

Job Satisfaction

I went out for leaving drinks with my co-workers today (some contractors got cancelled; nobody leaves by choice...). I enjoy the company of my team even when they are all pissed out of their skulls and I'm not, and those who know my standard attitude to drunk people will realise exactly how much of a compliment that is. People let their guard down after a few drinks, and you learn a lot about them. Amongst all the other stuff I learnt, it's just occurred to me that even at speech-slurring levels of drunkeness, nobody said anything even remotely approaching homophobic* all evening. That's very reassuring, as I have not yet addressed myself to the delicate task of coming out at work.

The whole concept of coming out at work is tricky. Firstly: is it even necessary, really? Sexuality doesn't really come into the working environment, not when you create web pages for a living. But there's a certain amount of casual conversation during the day, and then during a five-hour drinking session, comments on the attractiveness of various bystanders is guaranteed to come up, at which point you begin the politely evasive comments which can spiral so quickly down to the stifling emotional suffocation of being closeted. Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt. Not an option.

But how does one bring it up? If someone were to ask me outright, or ask if I have a girlfriend, that might be a good opportunity, but that's yet to happen. I did get one easy opening tonight: discussing (with the fifth person for the evening) my non-drinking, it came up that I go clubbing without drinking. So my co-worker asked if I perhaps took "performance enhancing drugs". I replied that I didn't, but I was often asked if I had any, which he said was ironic since I was "probably the only straight person there". This made me giggle internally, and I nearly replied about how unlikely that was, but he was then distracted. Ah well, I suppose it'll come up naturally some time.

The easy and hassle-free way, of course, would be for my co-workers to discover my blog. I've not really mentioned it to anybody, although one of my interviewers mentioned that he'd checked it out -- but apparently missed anything that might have clued him in. Maybe that'll still happen.

In general though, I'm really, enormously digging Yahoo!. I'm digging it so much that I'm actually obeying the ridiculous punctuation conventions that surround the company name. We do interesting stuff, we do big stuff, we do new stuff, and usually we do it properly. The resources available in-house are absolutely staggering: every piece of software we use (most of which is open-source, but heavily customized) comes with its own cadre of gurus, often including lead developers of the OSS project or the original inventors of the technology.

Oh, and tomorrow I finally get a permanent desk. Time to move in my Yoda doll.

* Mysogynistic, possibly, but not homophobic. And I'm selfish, remember? So all I care about is the homophobia.

Bob

30 November 2005
People don't always like it when people with little direct experience offer advice.

But I'm going to anyway, because I have thought a lot about it, and I'm nice, and smart, and I feel my view counts anyway. My view is:

If one's sexuality comes up, (girlfirend assumptions, straight assumptions, direct questions, whatever) then mention it. Mention it. Mention it. For everyone's sake, mention it!

Putting people right and *might* turn out to have really awful consequences, in terms of people reacting badly to it (and you can never predict exactly who's going to be a raging prejudiced git).

*But anything else is complicity.*

And I do know that that can be hard. I do know that there's an adrenaline-fuelled moment where you think oh-fuck-what-if-they're-a-homophobic-git. Because I do have that experience. Being straight I nevertheless have a sort of Categorical Imperative, a Kantian policy toward homophobia (and other things), which is that if someone is a git about it then I will put them right. And I will leave the nature of my own sexuality entirely up to *their* imagination, because saying "I'm straight, but..." is also a type of complicity. I regularly 'come out' in this kind of implicit way, by not saying anything about my own sexuality when someone is being a git. I think that's what the politics of coming out is missing, the fact that straight people, in the circumstance of witnessing homophobia, should simply not reveal whether they themselves even have a 'closet' or not.

Steven

01 December 2005
I keep getting people at work talk about girls to me. Oddly, the people who don't do that i've generally told. The people who do, i'd rather not tell, certainly biblical reasons on their part might cause problems. But then I work in an art a design college so i'm hardly the only gay in the village.

How anyone can assume you are straight however, is beyond me. Maybe you just act differently. Go see a scary movie with your workmates, then they will know. ;)

Simon

01 December 2005
I was outed at work on my third day when I was asked outright by a colleague if I had a partner or not, and then proceeded to grill me for about half an hour! My working environment is a little unusual though as I sit in what's become known as the Gay Quartet - my boss (and his boss) are both gay (and yes - I realise this doesn't make 4...).

It's no big deal, but getting it out of the way early made it sooo much easier. And more fun! Why not invite them all down to Popstarz?

ed

01 December 2005
Given that you're you, I have to imagine that your co-workers suspect something -- I mean, surely you've prattled on about how great 'Rent' was or something already.

You may as well drop the bomb at your next opportunity, because otherwise you're going to be getting all kinds of 'subtle' inquiries, which will probably just irritate you (I'd be willing to bet that the "only straight there" thing may have been prying). Though it might also amuse you, so there's that.

But I'm straight, so what do I know?


Giles

01 December 2005
Firstly, Laurie I'm really pleased your enjoying your job, I’m still at the 'i don't know if I’m enjoying it' stage as i have so little to compare it to. However so far it seems pleasant.
As to 'out' at work, I was only thinking about this today; I’m not out at work and in some ways i really wish i were. For those of you ho know me this may come as a surprise as i consider myself a confident, confrontational person, however those who KNOW me will realise this is not really the case and I’m fact I am scared of a lot of things. I can't really say that the team i work in are particularly close although there is a certainly amount of banter during which i admit i have rather towed the line rather than give my honest opinion, again those who KNOW me will realise this is the shrewd part of me playing along for points. So what I'm trying to say is i have now reached the point of no return can't continue to tell un-truths it feels wrong and can't come out as i would like a prick in the past.
Laurie, my advice (although god knows why you should take some from me) is get it over and move on.

Giles xx

Laurie

01 December 2005
Well, as I'm now *fairly* certain that my boss is reading this blog, I think the issue is settled in at least one case. But I'm pretty sure he read the blog back when he hired me. Hi Matt! Feel free to comment if you are reading this ;-)

Re: everyone's advice. I don't like coming out and saying "I'm Gay", capital G, because it then makes me into some sort of activist. I don't mind being an activist when it's necessary but -- and this is a subtle point here, so concentrate -- the very act of establishing oneself as Out and Proud makes one implicitly an activist, and declaring oneself an activist implies that the matter is still one that can be legitimately debated and hence requires activists. And I no longer feel like this is the case.

I passed through the militant phase that we all do when coming out, when we take every opportunity to wax eloquent about how great being gay is and how comfortable we are with our sexuality. Now I feel like it's a given that one should feel that way about one's sexuality, so there's no need to mention it.

So in summary: I will wait until someone asks me or it comes up :-)

Robert

02 December 2005
Just to ad a slightly counter-intuitive experience: the only workplace homophobia I ever experienced (although I've not been out in all workplaces) was from a lesbian - I think she was trying to make me gay with a capital G - which rather surprised (and hurt) me. But otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it - I'm sure if they see you dancing they'll work it out...

Syntax

28 January 2006
I do hope you realise that a "I don't drink yet go clubbing" attitude equates with drug-addiction.

And I aint talking about fizzy drinks ;)