United Kingdom (the)

Remind me, do I live in “United Kingdom” or “United Kingdom (the)”? 😂

Dropdown select box for Country with options including "United Kingdom" and "United Kingdom (the)".

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Information Trajectory

Humans invented Wikipedia, which made accessing information highly-convenient, at the risk of questions about its authenticity1.

Then humans invented GPTs, which made accessing information even more-convenient2 at the expense of introducing hallucinations that can be even harder to verify and check.

Is humanity’s long-term plan to invent something that spews complete nonsense that’s simultaneously impossible to conclusively deny?3

Shonky MSPaint-grade graph showing ease of access increasing as ease of verification decreases, with a trend line going through Wikipedia (2001) through ChatGPT (2022) to an unknown future in 2043.

Footnotes

1 I’m well aware that in many subject areas Wikipedia routinely outranks many other sources for accuracy. But the point remains, because you’ve no idea what the bias of randomuser123 is; even if you check the sources they cite, you don’t know what sources they omitted to include. I love Wikipedia, but I can’t deny its weaknesses.

2 Sure, ChatGPT and friends aren’t always more-convenient. But if you need to summarise information from several sources, you might find them a more-suitable tool than those which came before. Why do I feel the need to add so many footnotes to what should have been a throwaway comment?

3 Actually, now I think about it, I’m confident that I can name some politicians who are ahead of the machines, for now.

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Proud Pup

This young lady’s so proud of herself! This morning, she was up in time to catch in-the-act the burglar who visits us three times a week and steals the empty glass bottles we leave on our doorstep.

Young French Bulldog, standing, looking happy, tongue hanging out.

She did such a good job of scaring him off that he left us some milk and orange juice by way of apology.

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link rel=”blogroll”

Dave Winer kindly let me know about a proposed standard for linking to OPML blogrolls. Given that I added a page containing my blogroll last year, it was easy enough for me to add a tiny bit of code to the header to add support for automatic detection of my blogroll.

<link rel="blogroll" type="text/xml" href="/blogroll.xml" title="Dan Q's blogroll">

Now all we need is some tools that can do such detection!

(You’ll note I’ve added a title attribute: as I discovered the other day, some browsers including ELinks will show all <link>s of unknown rel="..." at the top of the page and I wanted this one to make sense!)

Genderclear

Screenshot from a Gender field on a form (with radiobutton options "Genderqueer/Non-Binary", "Man", "Woman", and "Fill in the Blank"). A wrapping/spacing issue has made a "clear" link appear very close to the field label "Gender", making it look like the word "Genderclear", which sounds a little like "Genderqueer".

Breakpoint issues always make me feel a bit “genderclear”.

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Nerd Sniped Traveller

I think I might be more-prone to nerd sniping when I’m travelling.

Last week, a coworker pointed out an unusually-large chimney on the back of a bus depot and I lost sleep poring over 50s photos of Dutch building sites to try to work out if it was original.

1950s black and white photo showing a newly-opened "GVB" bus depot in West Amsterdam.

When a boat tour guide told me that the Netherlands used to have a window tax, I fell down a rabbit hole of how it influenced local architecture and why the influence was different in the UK.

Why does travelling make me more-prone to nerd sniping? Maybe I should see if there’s any likely psychological effect that might cause that…

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Do-It-Yourself Country & Western Song

I saw a variation of this email back in the day, which provides a Mad Libs style approach to formulating a country & western song. When I was reminded of it today, I adapted it for Perchance. Give it a go!

Underprepared?

Me? Underprepared? (He says, literally writing his presentation in the bar at the event…)

Dan, a white man with a goatee-style beard, wearing a black t-shirt and a bi pride watch strap, sits at a bar table with a half-empty (half-full?) pint of beer and a laptop. He looks mildly concerned. The laptop screen shows Dan's face, deep in thought, alongside the words "Why is Oxford's area code '01865'?"

 

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Better In Our App

What they say: “This site works better in our app.”

What they mean (optimistic): “We couldn’t be bothered to make a good website.”

What they mean (realistic): “We can track and monetise you better if we can coerce you into installing this.”

The Road (Segment) Less Travelled

Map showing approximate location of Dan's house, on a set of rural roads that connect to the A40 in two different places, with the segment between the two relevant junctions marked.

There are two junctions at which I can join the A40 trunk road from my house. When I drive East, I use the Easternmost of the two; when I drive West, I use the Westernmost; but I almost never drive the stretch of road between them!

A few years ago I generated heatmaps of my movements based on my long-running personal location log and, indeed, it shows a “cool spot” along this section of road too:

Heatmap showing a "cool spot" on the road (segment) less-travelled.

It’s inevitable I suppose that there should exist a “road (segment) less-travelled” right on my doorstep, but it still feels strange. Like when you live near a tourist attraction that you never get around to visiting. Except instead of a tourist attraction, I live near a major highway I rarely use.

Maybe I’m missing out on something great. Probably the commuters who use that road to get into and out of Oxford don’t think so.

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Everyday Magic

Having lost the (stupid, proprietary) charging cable for my smartwatch, and not been able to find it for several days, I’ve undertaken the magical ritual that’s most-certain to make it reappear: ordering a replacement one.