Archive — Note
Note — 2020-04-16
A drama about coughing ought to be super-triggering during this era. But I really enjoyed Quiz. It took my mind off everything.
An amazing story told in a hilarious way and with a geeky attention to detail. It’s crazy to think this all happened 19 years ago.
A great balancing act from Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant — somehow taking the piss, while simultaneously being note-perfect.
Note — 2020-03-20
Virtual birthday party — 9pm tonight
It’s my birthday today. But I couldn’t really be bothered to organise a physical get-together. Instead, I thought it would be fun to imagine there was some horrific virus that meant we couldn’t really leave the house much, and I had to celebrate it remotely.
Update: This will now take place at 9pm, not 7pm as before.
Bring your own Corona.
Note — 2020-03-18
I’m in Ikea, where lots of people are buying emergency desks.
Note — 2019-11-22
We’re looking for a University of Edinburgh PhD student intern to work with us next year. This is an exciting time to join the Website and Communications team, and an opportunity to help us improve high-profile web services like MyEd and the University website. Take a look!
Note — 2019-11-20
Playing Tetris and Snake simultaneously is fiendishly difficult.
— grgrdvrt (@grgrdvrt) November 20, 2019
Note — 2019-11-19
I was in a meeting once where someone pitched a really unrealistic idea. I don’t remember the details exactly. But let’s assume this idea depended on pigs being able to fly.
“But how will the pigs fly?”, we asked.
“Oh, we’ll have an algorithm.”
“OK… But, we don’t understand how the algorithm make the pigs fly?”
“I just said, the algorithm will sort that out.”
“But you haven’t explained how?”
“With the algorithm.”
“Algorithms can’t make pigs fly.”
She spoke to two Apple reps. Both very nice, courteous people representing an utterly broken and reprehensible system. The first person was like “I don’t know why, but I swear we’re not discriminating, IT’S JUST THE ALGORITHM”. I shit you not. “IT’S JUST THE ALGORITHM!”.
— DHH (@dhh) November 8, 2019
Don’t devolve your thinking to an algorithm.
Note — 2019-11-15
Note — 2019-11-14
Duncan’s talk will take us through how the University of Edinburgh’s User Experience Service has undertaken a comprehensive programme of user research supporting a project aimed at improving students’ experience accessing course materials digitally. Find out how they developed a programme of multiple user research methods to understand what students really need.
Time: Wednesday 4 December
Venue: Amazon Development Centre, 2–4 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh
Maybe see you there?
Note — 2019-09-20
The hotel bar just played a version of Take Five in 4/4 time, and I’m slightly horrified.
Note — 2019-09-14
I will be away for the next couple of weeks, as Alex and I are going on our honeymoon. I’ve scheduled a number of posts to publish while I’m away, so things aren’t going to go completely quiet. But if I seem inattentive, it’s because I am having prime holiday time.
Note — 2019-09-03
Note — 2019-09-02
I’m doing a couple of talks this week. They are both about the user research we’ve been doing for the Learn Foundations project.
This evening I will be presenting at the Edinburgh UX monthly meetup. It’s a friendly meetup and it’s free, so do come along if you’re interested.
Then on Wednesday I’ll be presenting with my colleagues Karen Howie and Paul Smyth at the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference.
Note — 2019-08-13
Note — 2019-08-07
Is there a way to force all mobile apps to open web URLs in my actual browser of choice, instead of the crappy WebView they make you use? This is one thing I am truly fed up with now.
Note — 2019-08-02
My Omnichord normally gathers dust in the corner of a room. So when someone retweeted into my timeline Karine Polwart asking if anyone in Edinburgh had an Omnichord she could borrow for some filming, I was happy to help, and to see the Omnichord out of its case for a change!
Dear @DuncanBSS thanks for the borrow of your Brand New Omnichord! It’s having its own wee moment in the spotlight this morning via @AdmiralFallow Louis for my Scottish Songbook. pic.twitter.com/Y4WUYfUexP
— Karine Polwart (@IAMKP) February 26, 2019
It makes its little appearance in this video for her cover of Chance by the Big Country.
This is part of her new album of Scottish covers, Scottish Songbook. It’s out today on lovely red vinyl.
I had always wondered what it would take to get a ‘thank you’ on the back of an album. Now I know. 🙂
Hopefully one day I’ll get round to playing the Omnichord more often myself…
Note — 2019-07-15
I just watched the British Grand Prix. 😱 Sebastian Vettel needs to retire as soon as possible, before he does any further damage to his reputation. So sad to see a once great driver reduced to this.
Note — 2019-05-29
Does anyone I know fancy coming with me to see the Rabbit Hole with Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle in Glasgow this Saturday? I unexpectedly have a spare ticket.
Note — 2019-05-18
Blogs that don’t have RSS feeds: Why?!
Note — 2019-04-03
Update for email and WordPress.com subscribers
Last week I changed the address of my website to duncanstephen.net. It has taken a little longer for all my subscribers to migrate across — but you should be receiving my updates again now.
Here are the posts you missed:
- Duncan Stephen .net — where I explain why I changed website address.
- It just so happened that my passport needed to be renewed this month
- People won’t stop staring at their phones, so a Dutch town put traffic lights on the ground
- What does Charles Leclerc’s success tell us about Daniel Ricciardo?
Thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around!
Note — 2019-03-14
I was sorry to hear about the death of Charlie Whiting, Formula 1’s race director, less than 24 hours before he was due to oversee the first session of the season.
Charlie Whiting has been one person in the FIA I have always respected. It was very difficult to question his judgement, and you rarely heard anyone ever seriously question it.
We saw Charlie Whiting addressing fans when we went to the Belgian Grand Prix last year, and he seemed happy to be speaking to fans and telling them more about the sport and his job.
It has seemed, from my distant vantage point, that the FIA have had trouble finding a successor to Charlie Whiting in the role of race director. He has held the job since 1997. I couldn’t tell you who was the race director before him, and it’s difficult to imagine who it will be after him. They are big shoes to fill.
Note — 2019-03-06
I hate to be that guy, but the latest update to the Pocket Casts Android app has completely destroyed it.
Overnight, the player widget was erased. But worse still, all the playlists I have created have disappeared and there appears to be no way of recreating them. The playlists feature has vanished. There is a mysterious new ‘Filters’ option that I can’t make head nor tail of. Whenever I try to create a new filter, it crashes.
I’d move to Google Podcasts, but that doesn’t support playlists either… Ugh.
Note — 2019-01-06
It’s 10 years since Woolworths closed down. I worked there at the time. To this day, the whole experience is among the most surreal of my life.
At the time, I wrote a lengthy series of blog posts detailing my own story of the goings-on around the failure of one of Britain’s most iconic businesses.
Being on the shop floor while a British institution collapsed around me taught me a bit about business. But it taught me a lot about people. Enjoy this look back.
(These used to be linked to each other using a WordPress plugin, but these were lost during a migration — so here they all are.)
- Woolworths: The curiously British US-based company
- Woolworths as it was known and loved, and neglected
- Woolworths: Childhood memories and adult gripes
- It wasn’t just the credit crunch
- The blunder of Woolworths
- Identity crisis
- The beginning of the end
- The nasty side of human nature
- Woolworths: Final thoughts and wrapping up
For more on Woolworths 10 years on from its collapse, check out Graham Soult’s excellent report.
Note — 2018-12-11
This week I found out I won’t make the cut of that Scottish independence referendum documentary I was filmed for a few months ago. Due to a change in editorial focus, apparently.
It’s actually a bit of a relief because, as you’ll see from the original post, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with how it panned out. I could actually do without any hassle resulting from being on TV.
When I texted Alex about it, her reply was: “Oh good!!!!” You know it’s serious when four exclamation marks come out.
When I asked why, she said, “I was worried about your political views being on the BBC.” (To be honest, I think we should worry about all sorts of other people’s political views that are allowed on the BBC these days, but there we go…)
Still, it was interesting to be part of the process, and good to know my blog could still get noticed in this sort of way.
Note — 2018-09-27
Lambie-Nairn’s idents returned in 2014. But they were originally developed in 1991. At the time, they were credited with transforming wider perceptions of the channel. It had been seen as dull and worthy, but became arty and exciting.
27 years is a hell of a long time for these idents to last, especially considering the subsequent shift to widescreen, then HD broadcasting. They have pretty much stood the test of time.
Later idents in the set became more complex and less focused. But I am especially fond of the very original idents from 1991, which were particularly pure and striking. The use of the Gill Sans 2, coloured with viridian, and backed with ethereal music, is such a simple idea, yet it was employed with remarkable versatility.
Note — 2018-08-08
It’s no wonder newspaper websites are in trouble. Their latest scheme is to “lock” content by turning it into squiggles unless you watch at least 6 seconds of an advert. Needless to say, this is a horrible experience, and only makes it all the more likely that I’ll turn away from certain websites.
I’m afraid to say that I know I’m going to have a dreadful time any time I try to read anything on the Scotsman or any other Johnston Press website. Every time, I am bombarded with a cacophony of offensive adverts, which grind my computer to a halt. And when they deign to show me the content I came for, more often than not it’s badly written, and clearly a rush-job by a stressed-out writer being made to churn out any old crap in the name of volume.
Why would I bother following a link to the Scotsman website again?
Note — 2018-07-31
Only Google could think to provide a weather forecast in kelvin. Beautiful.
Note — 2018-07-31
From tomorrow, Facebook will stop allowing automated posts to personal Facebook profiles. Dodgy ads, fake news and inflammatory content are all still allowed of course. But that’s how Facebook make their money. So normal people’s automated updates is what they’re clamping down on.
As a result, updates from my blog have stopped appearing on my Facebook profile.
In the words of an email WordPress.com have sent out about this:
We believe that eliminating cross-posting from WordPress is another step back in Facebook’s support of the open web, especially since it affects people’s ability to interact with their network (unless they’re willing to pay for visibility).
Funny that. 🤔
So if you would like to stay up to date with me on Facebook, I have now set up a page for my website — where it will still be possible for the updates to be pushed out to Facebook.
However, I would encourage you to stay up to date another way. I don’t push everything out to Facebook. So the only way to be updated on everything I post is to subscribe to the RSS feed or email notifications.
Since this was pretty much all I used Facebook for by now, my Facebook profile will probably become very quiet.
Note — 2018-06-28
The possibility seems remote for the time being. But it did instantly tickle a part of my brain. If Räikkönen were to go to McLaren next year, then for whatever reason decide to end his career at Sauber, he would have a palindromic career. In other words, he will have worked his way back through each of the teams he has driven for, in reverse order.
The F1 teams he has driven for in order are:
Has any driver actually done this before?
Note — 2018-06-13
Note — 2018-05-12
Lots of people think Google’s new AI-powered phone calls are creepy. I don’t quite follow this. Big companies have been making normal people speak to robots for decades. This isn’t a new concept. The difference is that this gives ordinary people the opportunity to do to big companies what big companies have been doing to them all along.
Note — 2018-03-17
It’s great to see this clip of Henry Hope-Frost on You Bet.
He may have thought then that his obscure knowledge would be of absolutely no use. But it certainly came in handy when he later became one of the top motorsport journalists.
There aren’t nearly enough clips of You Bet on YouTube. I remember one contestant who was able to tell a piece of music that was being played backwards just by seeing a candle flickering in front of the speaker.
It’s extraordinary to think that this kind of geeky talent passed for Saturday night ITV entertainment in the 1990s.
Henry Hope-Frost’s untimely death traveling home from the job he loved earlier this month was tragic. This clip is a demonstration of pure fever.
Note — 2018-03-12
There are certain things you’re not allowed to say these days. Well it is time to put an end to all this political correctness. People have been frightened to speak openly. We should call a spade a spade.
70% of over 65s voted for Brexit.
Too many were driven by a nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink.
He is only saying what we’re all thinking.
Note — 2018-03-08
Note — 2018-03-06
YouGov have released an interesting study on where people draw the boundary between youth, middle age and old age.
As a grumpy millennial, I couldn’t help but notice that a certain generation’s attitude on where old age begins appears to be selective.
Note — 2018-01-30
Virgin Media have sent an email suggesting ‘safe’ passwords for people to use.
…They’re not much harder any more. 🤦♂️
Note — 2018-01-15
There may be no real science behind the concept of Blue Monday. But there is definitely something strange about mornings in January.
I always go back to work as soon as possible after the new year. On my morning walk to work, the streets are dark unlike any other time of year, and eerily quiet.
It’s now a new year tradition of mine to spend my first morning walk of each week listening to Blue Jam. Chris Morris’s peerless radio programme of the late 1990s mixed dark comedy with downtempo music. It was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 1 in the small hours of the morning, maximising its unsettling vibe.
That vibe seems to suit these weird, dark Mondays in January.
Note — 2017-12-25
Happy Christmas. I am planning on doing as little as possible over this break. Alex and I will be spending a few days in Fife before returning to Edinburgh. Enjoy your holiday!
Note — 2017-12-06
Twice this year I have been sent customer feedback surveys before I have even received the items, because they were delayed so badly. Arse, meet elbow.
If you’re interested, the guilty parties are Specsavers (my glasses took 6 weeks to arrive) and Currys PC World (I’m still waiting on my new Chromebook).
Note — 2017-11-09
Many of the podcasts I listen to are currently running ads from Bose imploring me to buy their headphones “to enjoy podcasts in even better sound quality”.
I have to say, when listening to a heavily compressed MP3 that has usually been recorded in a spare room by a semi-professional using budget domestic microphones, with their friend connected via a shaky Skype connection, while I am walking along a busy city street or riding a noisy bus… sound quality isn’t my top priority.
Note — 2017-10-31
It’s worth reading the full transcript of Lewis Hamilton’s press conference following his championship victory on Sunday (scroll down to about halfway down the page to see “Questions to Lewis Hamilton”). As noted by Andrew Benson, his answers are long, in-depth, and provide an interesting insight into the mindset that has seen him step up a level this year.
Note — 2017-10-28
Everyone on Twitter is changing their names to be Halloween themed. This is the best I can come up with.
Note — 2017-10-22
Note — 2017-10-19
It’s great to see Iain Lee winning a big radio award for best (non-breakfast) speech presenter. I’ve written before about how brilliant Iain Lee’s radio work is. His TalkRadio show is, by some margin, the most interesting on radio today.
Note — 2017-10-11
When did ‘centrist’ come to be used to describe pretty much anyone who’s not a bit of a dick?
Note — 2017-10-11
Can publishers just please stop it with all this video? I just declared bankruptcy on the long list of videos I told myself I was going to watch.
Probably only about 20% of links I click are worth my time. With videos, there is no good way of scanning to find out. You just have to sit through it to find out — by which time it’s too late.
Note — 2017-10-09
I’ve gone a bit over the top baking a cake for a charity coffee morning at work tomorrow. I didn’t fancy making muffins or anything simple, so I have ended up making something way too elaborate. I won’t be able to finish it until about 1am. 😩