Word of the Day: wiki-fact

wiki-fact (noun): Something as portrayed as fact by someone who’s sole source is the online encyclopædia, wikipedia. Earliest known usage: Jorge Cham during a lecture at the University of Cambridge, October 2007. The relationship between the variables p (probability that a wiki-fact is true), and b (the number of Internet users who believe the wiki-fact to be true) is an area of open research.

Aside: Jorge Cham is the creator and author of the popular web comic, “Piled Higher and Deeper“, sometimes described as “The Dilbert of Academia”. His talk in Cambridge was very funny although almost entirely based on the material in his comic which was a bit disappointing since I was hoping to hear more about the “inside story” on his characters. Two things he did let slip: the character of Cecilia is based on a former girlfriend and the inspiration for “Nameless Guy” is Jorge himself. After the talk Jorge signed books (which I’ve never seen on sale in this country so I was very pleased to be able to buy one) but sadly I had to rush off so wasn’t able to wait in the large queue to have it signed.

Trains Suck

I predict that the JCN talk on Monday will be excellent. So excellent in fact, I’d make the trip up to Cambridge to hear it and to catch up on what the SRCF has been doing since the end, just under a year ago, of my three-year involvement with the society.

Sadly, British Rail1 have other ideas. 🙁 With two sets of tracks leading from London to Cambridge, you would think someone would have to be pretty careless for them both to be out of operation on the same bank holiday, but no, the incompetence of British Rail knows no bounds and a bus is the only option. If I hadn’t been to Cambridge for some time I might attempt it, but as I went last weekend, and rail-replacement bus services meant I spent 6 hours travelling for only 5 hours of leisure time in Cambridge, I think I might be forced to miss the talk. 🙁

<rant>Will all those people who whine that cars ought to be banned/taxed out of existence, please shut up and make trains a viable alternative? ‘kthxbye</rant>

Talk Details

— A day in the life of an SRCF sysadmin —

Fear and loathing in the CUSU server room.

The SRCF is a University society that is run by students and for students.

Ross Church, one of the system administrators, will talk about some of the
challenges involved in running a computer with over 2000 users and relate
some of the more entertaining incidents from the last few years, …

Monday 1st May, 7.30pm, Coleridge Room (above the bar). All welcome!

  1. Or, perhaps the organisation formerly-known-as-British-Rail [back]

End of an Era

Sadly my @cam.ac.uk email account was cancelled on Friday — I had be warned that this would happen at some point, but annoyingly the Computing Service failed to give me any specific warning and so I only found out when I couldn’t login last night. 🙁

I haven’t actually used this address to send email for several years so hopefully no one will inconvenienced by this, but if anyone does find that it is the only contact address you have for me, my Computer Lab account will always forward to my current address — insert a “cl.” (c-l-dot) between the @ and the “cam”.

Freshers’ Week in review

Another year, and another freshers’ week (well, fortnight for us grads 🙂 ) gone by… This was the first year I haven’t been involved in organising things — starting in January meant my first freshers’ week was also the first year I was on the GradSoc committee and seeing it from the other side was very interesting. Undoubtedly the best bit was that I got to enjoy it to the full — being able to just turn up and enjoy events without having to set up, clear up, serve drinks, etc was very nice!
Continue reading “Freshers’ Week in review”

Another reason to switch to Firefox

From the ucam-webmasters mailing list — yet another reason to switch to Firefox:

After application of SP2 to Windows XP there seems to be an interaction that we haven’t yet managed to isolate, which causes html files sent from IE to the validator at validator.w3.org (by either method) to be given the mime type of text. This causes validation to fail. To get round this difficulty, we suggest that you use another browser, such as Mozilla/Firefox or Opera. If you are producing web pages, the web developers toolbar for Mozilla/Firefox allows you to validate directly, as well as all sorts of other useful functionality.

The e-mail goes on to say that Mozilla is now available on the Cambridge Public Workstation Facility (PWF) — although my housemate said he couldn’t find it when he looked last week! No mention of firefox though, but they do have Opera which I have heard many people rave about.

12:15pm: Another e-mail on the same list. Apparently the problem only effects file-uploads — submitting the URI into the webform works fine.

What is the JCN?

Someone should rewrite the About JCN page to be:

“I was at the JCN BBQ. Incredible experience… I think they must be the only set of people who would have a barbeque with three computers, a webcam, a network connection and hub, and no means of lighting the barbeque… 🙂 So they all clustered round the computer trying to persuade it to install OS2 Warp (don’t ask), whilst one eminently practical person went off to Odbins to buy matches.” — rpc25