I’m a very argumentative person. I like arguing; and not only do I like it, I’m always right. Also, I’m much better than you. This isn’t just vanity, it’s a fact. I’m faster, cleverer and braver. I’m stronger, more attractive and more versatile. If there’s an area I appear to not know anything about, it’s because I’ve never had the need to look into it, but I’m sure that if I did, I’d be much better at it than you anyway.

Of course, arguments on the web are hard to follow. They’re spread across websites, mailing lists, wikis, comments in articles. A thousand flowers may bloom may normally be a good principle, but it makes a bastard of finding them all.

At this point, with frustration looming (“who is right?”, “did he really say that about him?”, “where did he gets his facts from?”), all is solved by The Pixie Test

This reduces any argument to one simple question: “Who’s a lovely little pixie?” (see the above link for some good examples of this in practice).

Fortunately for me, my age-old nickname “Pip” (and the origin of my Tripod account name) stems from Enid Blyton’s stories of Pip the Pixie (amusingly enough, listed just below “Operation Homicide”), so serendipity has spoken, and, with the combination of my assumed moniker, high cheekbones and delicate nose I automatically win all arguments. Huzzah!

I was going to write about the ID cards in the UK. How they’re a bad thing, how we’re going to have to pay for them, and how they’re simply not going to work.

Fortunately, Jack Mottram has done it for me :

Blunkett’s £40 ID Cards

The Sunday Times reports that David Blunkett has made up his mind to foist ID cards on the British public.

Well that’s just dandy. Not only will we have to carry a bit of plastic containing ‘biometric data’ and submit personal information for storage on a central database, we’ll also have to pay for the privilige of having our civil liberties eroded.

In the leaked letter, Blunkett identifies ‘a highly organised minority who will campaign vocally against a scheme’ – Stand, I assume – and claims ‘strong public support’ after the recent consultation process. Bullshit. My concerns didn’t count, nor did those of five thousand others alerted by Stand’s recent campaign to raise awareness of the consultation.

If you want to read (a lot) more on why ID cards are A Bad Thing, you can view Stand’s submission to the consultation or check out the Privacy International . If you are convinced by the arguments against the introduction of ID cards, please Fax Your MP without delay.

Worth reading is Stand’s original response to ID cards

I really don’t understand how anyone can argue, in all sincerity, that ID cards are somehow going to stop, or even slow down terrorism. Hello? The September 11th hijackers had legal flying papers, thousands of credit and debit cards are cloned and faked every week. How are these going to be secure enough to stop someone stealing my entire life?

Some interesting stuff:

Writing FOAF in XML – I know RDF is supposed to be a machine language, but the majority of my FOAF file is hand-rolled, and I suspect most other peoples’ are too. Being able to write it straight off in XML would certainly cut down writing time, as well as lowering the barrier to entry and hand-editing, and since it’s just run through an XSLT, could be turned into a web service.

IE in SWT – this is good. I’ve been looking for a way to have an embedded browser in a cross-platform application, and can’t decide between SWT and wx4j (Swing is just far too clunky a UI). This makes me lean towards SWT.

AOL will blog – interesting news about how AOL-ers will be able to blog from their IM, and shows that AOL are actually aware of the blogging world and such tools as Technorati.

Of course, I’ve been able to blog from Jabber for weeks and weeks now, run through JTextile to make for easier formatting. I must release that to the general public soon (it’s a jabber server component).

Today, the BBC have an article about how the north-south divide in the UK is getting worse

Articles like these, focussing on what the government could, should and is doing really don’t highlight the drastic difference there is between actually living in the south, and in the north.

To put things in perspective, I lived for 18 years in Bristol[1] (location), then for four years in Reading[2] (location). Both are very affluent, modern, have great shopping and nightlife.

I’ve been living in Sheffield[3] (location) for two years now. And the difference still amazes me. It’s cold and miserable (yes, even the UK has degrees of cold and miserable). It’s painfully obvious that it’s a much poorer city (I live in the media quarter, almost next-door to BBC Sheffield, and even that’s still grotty); it’s dirtier, more rubbish-strewn, the people are less friendly, and so on.

Sheffield is one of the largest cities in the UK (the 5th most populous), but also one of the fattest .

Sheffield centre looking its best and Bristol looking a bit better.

I’m sure there’s an intelligent point to be made in here somewhere, possibly with reference to the seven new heads of regional investment (London gets a region all to itself) who are going to be the ones specifying where the government should be doling out its cash; or even about the complete under-investment in anywhere north of the Watford Gap, London-centric population and job booms, airport focus etc. etc.

Sadly, it’s Friday afternoon, I’m tired and ill, and applications don’t write themselves.

1 Home of Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky; Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run); John Cabot and Isambard Kingdom Brunel; spiritual home of FOAF😉

2 Birthplace of Kate Winslet; locations for IBM, Oracle, Microsoft et al.; where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned; home of the Reading Festival ; half an hour from London by train

3 Home of The Full Monty

RSS Bru-ha-ha

When I originally created my RSS feed, it was version 0.91. I’d read the spec, seen the example feed, and based my own feed on these.

Then I “upgraded” it to 2.0. I started to read the spec, but I was short on time and patience. So I looked at other 2.0 feeds to see how I should create my own, notably Sam Ruby’s and Mark Pilgrim’s

This is the typical “view-source” approach that most people took when they were learning HTML.

But I did it wrong. I did it like I thought it should be, like I thought it would be used by others, not how it’s supposed to be.

Mark had done the same. So he’s changed his feed. His very, very popular feed, and made it how the RSS spec author intended it to be.

A lot of people think he’s taking the piss, showing how “useless” RSS is, and why everyone should get behind the Necho project. I don’t think he is. I think we all took RSS as something more than it was intended to be.

This is not a stunt, and itâ??s not a satire, and youâ??re not going to wake up tomorrow and visit diveintomark.org and see a post that says “ha ha, just kidding“. This is an honest attempt to “do RSS right“, according to the spec and the intention of the spec author […]

Think of it as the RSS Standards Campaign.

(I, incidentally, couldn’t give two hoots for what my feed’s supposed to be, and shall probably move to RSS 3.0 any day now 😉 )

p.s. I was hoping to be able to send trackback pings to a number of weblogs critisicing Mark for this change, but I can’t, because they all use Radio. The cynic in me arches an eyebrow at this.