links for 2009-07-30

  • Oyster-type travel card system gradually being rolled out across the entire Netherlands (and not just in the capital like Oyster is here). This will replace the familiar strippenkaart that you might have used on Amsterdam's public transport. There is a disposable "tourist" version that you can pick up in the same places that strippenkaarts are/were sold (they are both available at the moment).
  • Official and slightly bonkers (in a good way) Dan Rhodes website. Worth a diversion.

links for 2009-07-24

  • Traditionally, I've used HomeSite to edit web pages. But my coding skillz are not what they once were – I'm both rusty and out-of-date. So I'm considering going over to a robust WYSIWYG editor that would also allow me to tinker with the actual code when I'm feeling brave/foolish. This looks like it might be a good solution and it isn't too expensive. Anyone out there got experience with it?

Why I’m not convinced by the swine flu stats

Hels and Tom both have colds. I’ve had a bit of a sore throat, but it hasn’t come to anything.

When they first went down with a little lethargy, sore throat, snuffliness and all the other usual symptoms, we immediately thought that our turn might have come for swine flu. If it had, we wouldn’t be too worried – we’d get our way through it and get it out of the way. Unpleasant and inconvenient, yes, but probably not life-changing. For the vast majority of people, it’s just a nasty bug.

So, given that, Hels called the doctor. We’d heeded the advice not to actually go to the surgery and it seems our local surgery is well-prepared. Our doctor was able to take Hels’s call (not just the receptionist team) and talked through the symptoms. She (our doctor) seemed a little fed up with the Government’s diagnosis-by-checklist approach. Hels described her symptoms, including her temperature of 37.8 Celsius. The doctor laughed and said that, given her symptoms and according to the checklist, Hels did not have flu but had a cold. If, however, her temperature had been 38 Celsius, that woud have been enough.

So we are carrying on life pretty much as normal. Hels has taken a little time off work (heavy colds tend to knock her down a bit anyway due to previous illnesses in her 20s). But we are not putting ourselves into quarantine.

What I wonder is this: given that our doctor is aware that this cold bug is going around at the moment, how many of the 100,000 new cases this week really are H1N1 flu and how many are just summer colds? Are we getting false information and is the Government making decisions based on that? What will happen if/when we actually get real flu later in the year?

As an aside, the Government gave advice last weekend (as reported by the BBC) that expectant mothers and mothers of under-5s should stay away from crowds. I presume they haven’t visited your average ante-natal clinic lately, because they are never crowded, obviously. And, what of fathers of under-5s? Presumably, if they stayed away from crowded places (like shops, offices, railway stations and workplaces) the economy would grind to a halt.

As Hels put it – the Government takes the nation to war but can’t seem to work out what to do about a virus.

links for 2009-07-20

links for 2009-07-14

links for 2009-07-06

  • I remember, many years ago, walking across the fields from my parents' old house towards Felpham with my brother. We got to the Ryebank Rife (here:, which was (unusually) dry. The stench was amazing and the dry floor of the stream was a carpet of dead eels, left high and dry. I've never seen so many eels, literally thousands, and I doubt I'll ever see that many again.