Duncan Dallas, 2014

April 17th, 2014

duncan-dallas

I was saddened to hear that Duncan Dallas recently passed away. Duncan was the founder of Café Scientifique, a group that he started in Leeds. It has since grown into an international movement with hundreds of groups in the UK, Europe, North America and many other regions. After stepping down from running the Leeds group he continued his work promoting open access to science in Uganda, where access to accurate information on topics such as HIV and medicine is sorely needed.

Terms of Service; Didn’t Read

April 15th, 2014

I always read a terms of service in full. Well, sometimes. Otherwise, how would you know what you were agreeing to? For example, you might be giving Apple consent to… well, lets not think about that episode of South Park because I have to eat in a few hours.

Enter Terms of Service; Didn’t Read.

These people actually have taken the time to read terms of service. Then they pick out the good and bad bits and give them a rating. This means when signing up to a service you can quickly see what you are agreeing to and whether it is reasonable or not. They even have a browser plugin.

Carpe Jugulum

April 14th, 2014

Carpe Jugulum is the twenty-third novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. It features The Witches (you know, the maiden, the mother, and the other one) battling vampires trying to take over Lancre.

Despite my state school education I even managed to work out that “Carpe Jugulum” meant “seize the throat”.

Good novel, even if nobody used the phrase “that’s what being a witch is all about”. I also found out that Lancre even has a royal historian. It’s Shawn Ogg.

Carpe Jugulum

The Last Continent

April 10th, 2014

The twenty second novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is “The Last Continent”. It features Rinsewind and The Wizards, and is set in a continent that is not Australia, but is very much like it. It was brilliant. Discworld novels are usually funny, but a lot of this was laugh out loud funny. One of my favourite so far.

The-last-continent

Leeds Restaurant Guide, 2nd Edition

April 7th, 2014

lrg-kindle Today I’m pleased to announce the launch the 2nd edition of the Leeds Restaurant Guide. The new edition contains 14 brand new restaurant reviews and updates to another 18 entries. This takes the total reviews to 200! It is available from tomorrow from the Kindle Store.

Added

  • Aria
  • Belgrave Music Hall
  • Cosmo
  • Crowd of Favours
  • Harry’s Bar & Brasserie
  • Prezzo
  • Rare
  • Roast + Conch
  • Shears Yard
  • The Atlas Pub
  • The Pit
  • The Pour House
  • The Tetley
  • Trinity Kitchen

Updated

  • Ambiente
  • Angelica
  • Baby Jupiter
  • Bar Fibre
  • Bewley’s
  • Brasserie Blanc
  • Brasserie Forty-Four
  • Dish
  • Ho’s
  • La Tranquillite
  • Las Iguanas
  • Little Tokyo
  • Malmaison
  • Nation of Shopkeepers
  • Primo Restaurante
  • Red’s True Barbecue
  • Sam’s Chop House
  • Sukhothai

Usernames

April 7th, 2014

Computer systems usually generate usernames based on a set pattern. Sometimes this can end badly. For example, at Buzz we tried out taking each person’s first name and the first letter of their surname. This ended badly for Imran Khan, who came out as imrank (or “I’m rank” if you pronounce it out loud).

However, I think Megan Finger was probably more unfortunate with her username.

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Jingo

April 6th, 2014

The 21st novel in the Discworld series is Jingo. It sees Ankh-Morpork face off against Klatch in a territorial dispute over a new island. It was not one of my favourites.

The plot is a bit predictable. The two armies line up to fight each other, but never actually do, which reminded me strongly of “Interesting Times“. Of course Lord Vetinari has a plan all along, as always. I am also left wondering just how many extra titles and promotions can possibly forced upon Samuel Vimes.

Jingo

Grinding It Out

April 5th, 2014

Ray Kroc is founder of McDonald’s Corporation. I found out he had written an autobiography, entitled Grinding it out: the making of McDonald’s, when I was listening to one of Mark Knopfler’s songs. “Boom, Like That” was obviously about McDonald’s, so I did a little reading up on it and sure enough, it was inspired by Kroc’s story, this book being cited.

The book itself is short and simple. At under 200 pages it only took me a week to get through it without much perseverance. In some ways this was a little disappointing as the book never really goes into much detail. You do not feel like you are gleaming so many secrets to success as you might feel you were if you were reading Duncan Bannatyne’s or James Khan’s autobiographies. But there is valuable content in there and given the length, comes at an easy price. Kroc did always place an emphasis on value as well as quality after all.

It has somewhat dated. It was written in 1977, Kroc having died in 1984, and the ages shows. He finishes up by talking about how he now has 4,000 restaurants and is dreaming of 5,000, maybe even 10,000. McDonald’s now has over 34,000 restaurants worldwide. Similarly, at the time it only had 21 restaurants outside of the United States, now I would be very surprised if the majority are not elsewhere in the world. Not that this detracts from the reading much.

The real take-away message from the book though is that Kroc only founded McDonald’s when he was 55! Too often we hear about the success of irritating people like Sebastian Vettel who is now a four-times Formula One world champion, despite being younger than me. I haven’t even won one yet. Kroc however, spent his whole life grinding out a living, and it was only after many would consider you are past your prime (especially in 1954) that he built a multi-billion dollar business empire in less than two decades. It is comforting to know that there is a possibility, however slim, that I could spend the next 30 years of my life messing around and still have the chance to make it big.

grinding-it-out

Hogfather

April 4th, 2014

Given the popularity of the 20th Discworld novel, Hogfather, I started to think that given the anticipation I had built up on finally reaching it, it could only really be a disappointment.

I was a little. It had all the right ingredients, and by that I mean it had Death in it. Also The Wizards. But it just did not do it for me. I am not a big fan of Susan Sto Helit, she is just a bit too normal.

Hogfather

Feet of Clay

April 3rd, 2014

Terry Pratchett’s nineteenth Discworld novel, Feet of Clay, looks at golems and the City Watch. What more could you want? I probably say that in all my blog posts about Discworld books. I really did enjoy this one though, it might be my favourite Discworld novel so far.

Feet-of-Clay