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)".


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.


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.


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.


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!)


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”.


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…


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!


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'?"



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.