April Features!

I’m testing a handful of highly-experimental new features on my personal website using multivariate (“A/B”) testing.

Screenshot of the recent "Quickly Solving JigsawExplorer Puzzles" blog post with a new "Dark mode" switch hovering over it.
“Dark Mode” is just one of the new features I’m testing out.

If you visit within the next day or so you’re likely to be randomly-selected to try out one of them. (If you’re not selected, you can manually enable one of the experiments.)

I’d love to hear your feedback on these Very Serious New Features! Let me know which one(s) you see and whether you think they should become permanent fixtures on my site.

Loud Helpline

I guess installing a sign was cheaper than retraining the helpline operators not to shout at everybody.

A sign advertising a number for a "Customer Helpline" directly above a sign that advises "Ear protection must be worn".



I’m pretty sure that Wally/Waldo, Woof, and Wizard Whitebeard must be out on this mountain somewhere, too.

Composite image showing (1) a woman at an alpine terrace bar wearing a red-and-white striped jumper, and (2) a skiier wearing a yellow-and-black striped snowsuit. They look somewhat like Wilma and Odlaw from the Where's Wally?/Where's Waldo? series of books.


Installation of Windows has Stalled

I was told Windows installation should take less than 20 minutes, but these ones have been sitting outside my house all day while the builders sit on the roof and listen to the radio. Do I need a faster processor? #TechSupport

A pile of window frames, factory-fresh and covered with tape. propped against the side of a white house, on a gravel driveway.


[Bloganuary] Paws to Hear my Scents-ible Idea

This post is part of my attempt at Bloganuary 2024. Today’s prompt is:

Come up with a crazy business idea.

Smell-based social networking for dogs.

Hear me out…

A white-and-brown bulldog lies flat, his tongue sticking out, on a rug.
“Tank sleepy. But Tank listen your idea in case it tasty idea.”

I’ve tried to explain to our occasionally-anxious dog that, for example, the dog-and-human shaped blobs at the far end of the field includes a canine with whom she’s friendly and playful. She can’t tell who they are because her long-distance vision’s not as good as mine1, and we’re too far away for her to be able to smell her friend.

If this were a human meetup and I wasn’t sure who I’d be meeting, I’d look it up online, read the attendees’ names and see their photos, and be reassured. That’s exactly what I do if I’m feeling nervous about a speaking engagement: I look up the other speakers who’ll be there, so I know I can introduce myself to people before or after me. Or if I’m attending a work meet-up with new people: I find their intranet profiles and find out who my new-to-me colleagues are.

A trio of small dogs wearing warm jackets meet in a mowed grassy field. They appear excited to have recognised one another.
“Oh! Is you! Hurrah!” /buttsniffing intensifies/

Wouldn’t it be great if I could “show” my dog who she was going to meet, in smell-form.

I imagine a USB-C accessory you can attach to your computer or phone which can analyse and produce dogs’ unique scents, storing and transmitting their unique fingerprint in a digital form. Your subscription to the service would cover the rental of the accessory plus refills of the requisite chemicals, and a profile for your pooch on the Web-based service.

Now, you could “show” your dog who you were going to go and meet, by smell. Just look up the profile of the playmate you’re off to see, hold the device to your pupper’s nose, and let them get a whiff of their furry buddy even before you get there. Dogs do pretty well at pattern-matching, and it won’t take them long to learn that your magical device is a predictor of where they’re headed to, and it’ll be an effective anxiety-reducer.

A laptop keyboard with a black man's hand and a cream-coloured dog's paw resting on it, seen from above. (Almost-matching) sleeves can be seen on the limbs of both.
Seeking investors for a genuinely terrible crazy business idea. Photo courtesy SHVETS production.

The only question is what to call my social-network-for-dogs. Facebutt? Pupper? HoundsReunited???


1 Plus: I get contextual clues like seeing which car the creature and its owner got out of.

× × ×


Motivational poster showing a photograph from a Manchester street. A Pride flag banner is hanging from a post with the words "everybody welcome" at the top. Nearby, attached to the same post, a road sign has the words "except buses". The poster is captioned with the word "inclusivity" (in pride colours), and subcaptioned "the 'B' is not for Buses". The joke is that the 'B' in LGBTQ+ stands for 'bisexual' and not 'buses', although of course the real meaning of that street sign is to ban everybody from driving straight ahead except buses, so the joke isn't perfect.

Max credit to garry (@repeattofade) for the original toot. All I did was adapt it into a motivational poster.

The thing I’m wondering is whether that bus lane is one that a bi-cyclist like me can use? 😂


Solitary Nouns

The other night, Ruth and I were talking about collective nouns (y’know, like a herd of cows or a flock of sheep) and came up with the somewhat batty idea of solitary nouns. Like collective nouns, but for a singular subject (one cow, sheep, or whatever).

Then, we tried to derive what the words could be. Some of the results write themselves.1

Captioned photos showing "a HERD of COWS" and "a HER of COW".
Mooving right on…
Captioned photos showing "a PRIDE of LIONS" and "a PROUD of LION".
I’d be lion if I said I wasn’t proud of this one.
Captioned photos showing "a COLONY of BEES" and "a COLONIST of BEE".
I’m pollen out all the collective nouns now!

Some of them involve removing one or more letters from the collective noun to invent a shorter word to be the solitary noun.

Captioned photos showing "an ARMY of ANTS" and "an ARM of ANT". The latter picture shows an ant lifting a stick many times its size.
They stay healthy by working out and getting vaccinated, both of which give them tough anty bodies.
Captioned photos showing "a COVEN of WITCHES" and "an OVEN of WITCH" (the latter picture shows a scene from Handsel & Gretel in which the witch is pushed into the oven).
The sound of an oven is a cackling: “When shall I one meet again?”
Captioned photos showing "a MURMURATION of STARLINGS" and "a MURMUR of STARLING".
Eventually it grows up into a star, which are a lot louder.2
For others, we really had to stretch the concept by mutating words in ways that “felt right”, using phoenetic spellings, or even inventing collective nouns so that we could singularise them:
Captioned photos showing "a GAGGLE of GEESE" and "a GIGGLE of GOOSE".
For more goose-related wordplay, take a gander at this blog post from a few years back.
Captioned photos showing "a ROUND of DRINKS" and "a ROW of DRINK": the latter photo shows a man drinking in a bar while fighting another man.
Getting smashed doesn’t have to end with bumps and boozers.3
Captioned photos showing "an 1812 of CANNONS" and "a 1 of CANNON".
Blast but not least.

Did I miss any obvious ones?


1 Also consider “parliament of owls” ➔ “politician of owl”, “troop of monkeys” ➔ “soldier of monkey”, “band of gorillas” ➔ “musician of gorilla”. Hey… is that where that band‘s name come from?

2 Is “cluster of stars” ➔ “luster of star” anything?

3 Ruth enjoyed the singularised “a low of old bollock”, too.

× × × × × × × × ×

Breakups as HTTP Response Codes

103: Early Hints ("I'm not sure this can last forever.")
103: Early Hints (“I’m not sure this can last forever.”)
300: Multiple Choices ("There are so many ways I can do better than you.")
300: Multiple Choices (“There are so many ways I can do better than you.”)
303: See Other ("You should date other people.")
303: See Other (“You should date other people.”)
304: Not Modified ("With you, I feel like I'm stagnating.")
304: Not Modified (“With you, I feel like I’m stagnating.”)
402: Payment Required ("I am a prostitute.")
402: Payment Required (“I am a prostitute.”)
403: Forbidden ("You don't get this any more.")
403: Forbidden (“You don’t get this any more.”)
406: Not Acceptable ("I could never introduce you to my parents.")
406: Not Acceptable (“I could never introduce you to my parents.”)
408: Request Timeout ("You keep saying you'll propose but you never do.")
408: Request Timeout (“You keep saying you’ll propose but you never do.”)
409: Conflict ("We hate each other.")
409: Conflict (“We hate each other.”)
410: Gone (ghosted)
410: Gone (ghosted)
411: Length Required ("Your penis is too small.")
411: Length Required (“Your penis is too small.”)
413: Payload Too Large ("Your penis is too big.")
413: Payload Too Large (“Your penis is too big.”)
416: Range Not Satisfied ("Our sex life is boring and repretitive.")
416: Range Not Satisfied (“Our sex life is boring and repretitive.”)
425: Too Early ("Your premature ejaculation is a problem.")
425: Too Early (“Your premature ejaculation is a problem.”)
428: Precondition Failed ("You're still sleeping with your ex-!?")
428: Precondition Failed (“You’re still sleeping with your ex-!?”)
429: Too Many Requests ("You're so demanding!")
429: Too Many Requests (“You’re so demanding!”)
451: Unavailable for Legal Reasons ("I'm married to somebody else.")
451: Unavailable for Legal Reasons (“I’m married to somebody else.”)
502: Bad Gateway ("Your pussy is awful.")
502: Bad Gateway (“Your pussy is awful.”)
508: Loop Detected ("We just keep fighting.")
508: Loop Detected (“We just keep fighting.”)

With thanks to Ruth for the conversation that inspired these pictures, and apologies to the rest of the Internet for creating them.

× × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × × ×

Note #20517

Was a 10th century speaker of Old Saxon a “Saxophone”? 🤔

EGXchange – a digital EGX wallet

I’ve just launched EGXchange.org, a digital wallet for new currency Emma Goldcoin, which I’ve mentioned previously (including a discussion with the author in my comments section).

Homepage of EGXchange.org, showing the slogan "Everybody has an EGX wallet. Log in to yours now."
Of course, you don’t strictly need a digital wallet to use EGX. But as we’re in a culture where people invariably ask “is there an app for it?”, I thought I’d make one.

You can install it as an offline-first progressive web application, which means that this could be the first ever digital currency to have an app that works without an Internet connection. That’s probably something no other digital currency can claim to have, right?

Here’s what it looks like if I send 0.1 EGX to my friend Chris using the app:

Naturally, I wouldn’t be backing Emma Goldcoin if it didn’t represent such a brilliant step up better-known digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ripple, and Etherium. Specific features unique to Emma Goldcoin include:

  • Using it doesn’t massively contribute to energy wastage and environmental damage.
  • It doesn’t increase the digital divide by helping early adopters at the expense of late adopters.
  • It’s entirely secure: it’s mathematically impossible to “steal”EGX.
  • Emma Goldcoin is so simple that you don’t even need a computer to use it: it “just works”.

Sure, it’s got its downsides, and I’d encourage you to read the specification if you’d like to learn more about what those are. Or if you already know what EGX is all about and just want to try a new way to manage your portfolio, give my new site EGXchange.org a go!

Note #19021

I made a graph to show how the number of large hand tools stored in our garage has changed this last year…

Graph showing, over time, the number of large tools increasing as a rake, midi-spade, post holer, rake and others are acquired. Each acquired tool is labelled with what it is. However: a hatchet, a pickaxe and two log splitting axes are not labelled.

…but I forgot to label the axes.


Note #17243

With #lockdown guidance as it stands, only six of the seven dwarfs can meet together in the park?
The seventh dwarf won’t be Happy.

In fact, he’ll be Grumpy.

Which is a problem, because that means one of the six is Sneezy.

Note #16952

(Fake) letter from Boris Johnson stating that the government's new policy is just to write-off 2020 and carry on from 2021, after the coronavirus crisis has passed.

I’m 100% behind the #covid19 strategy @BorisJohnson proposes in his latest letter. But then, I’ve already had my birthday this year…


Jokes I’ve Told That My Male Colleagues Didn’t Like

This article is a repost promoting content originally published elsewhere. See more things Dan's reposted.

A guy walks into a bar. It’s a low one, so he gets a raise within his first six months on the job.

Did you hear the one about the woman who reported sexual harassment? Of course you didn’t; she was forced to sign an NDA.

Louise Bernikow once wrote: Humour tells you where the trouble is.

It’s okay to laugh at these jokes. But only so long as you do so with an awareness that their comedy comes from the nuggets of truth within each and every one of them. Our society’s come a long way this last century, but we’ve still got a long way to go.