"Real Artists Ship"

Colin Johnson’s blog

Archive for November, 2014

Artefact (1)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

A wonderful Google Streetview artefact—the top of the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh appears to be floating off into the distance.

Google Streetview picture with a spire seeming to be floating on clouds.

ffordian (1)

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

This looks just as though it should be something out a Jasper Fforde book, particularly the bit about “brought to you by the Ibis Management Coordination Group”, but it is genuinely verily 100% honestly real.

Do Not Feed the Ibis: an Environmental Message Brought to you By the Ibis Management Coordination Group


Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

"Our stuffs will enjoy serving you."

Laconic (1)

Monday, November 17th, 2014

This review from the Evening Standard has got me pinned down in four words.

Cheap. Cheerful. Scruffy. Vegetarian.

Strange Bedfellows (1)

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Grothendieck and Bilk: united at last.

Recent deaths: Alexander Grothendieck – Acker Bilk

Concision (1)

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Probably the longest address I’ve every written in my life. Longer than when I was seven years old and used to delight in ending my address with “Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way, the Universe”.

Jane Hindle, Quality Assurance Administrator, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences Harrison Building Streatham Campus University of Exeter North Park Road Exeter UK EX4 4QF


Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Really Mr/Ms Smith—is that really all you could think of spending your money on:


Observer (1)

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

There seems to be an obvious solution to the problem of finding a chair for the child abuse enquiry which has so far failed twice to appoint someone with requisite knowledge due to their close establishment figures of the time. That solution is to appoint someone from outside the UK to chair the enquiry. Even if someone with good knowledge of the English legal system is required, then this doesn’t seem to be a problem; enough Commonwealth countries have legal systems that are strongly enough based on the English system to provide someone with the background required.

It seems that we bend over backwards to insist that we should provide democratic and judicial systems to the rest of the world, and insist on international observers for elections etc. Yet, when the failure of democracy and justice is in our own back yard, we fail to apply the same solution.

Miles Away (1)

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

My mother used to work for the purchasing department at Boots, a major pharmaceutical retailer. One day, she had the following phone conversation with a rather posh sales rep:

Rep: “Good morning, I’m Miles from Nicholas Products Ltd.”
Mum: “Well, I’m miles from there too, but how can I help you?”

Uh-oh (1)

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

From a colleague’s email: “SharePoint is very precise and there is plenty of room for human error to interfere with the workflows.” Uh-oh.

Quality Assurance? (1)

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

It seems to be that one unfortunate side effect of “quality assurance” as it is currently constituted in many organisations is to ensure that real work cannot happen in committees as it is meant to. Because committee minutes become the primary means of evidence that an organisation is running as it claims to, there is a reluctance to show anything in those minutes that analyses how things are really happening. As a result, these sorts of discussions—discussions about quality enhancement, natch!—happen in an undocumented shadow system. This is of particular detriment to attempts to involve stakeholders (for example, student representatives in universities) in the process, because they are rarely involved in these shadow systems.