Monthly Archives: October 2015

  • Spiritual leader moonlights as police officer

    Reading the captions on photographs in the local press can be a real education.

    For instance, thanks to those dedicated people who write captions for articles on the Bristol Post website, I now know what a branch of discount retailer Lidl looks like, although I shall have to travel to Paignton to see the real thing.

    However, far greater secrets can be revealed by photo captions. An article in yesterday’s Bristol Post revealed that, unknown to the rest of the world, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, is actually a police officer in Avon & Somerset Constabulary, as shown by the following screenshot.

    caption on image reads Former police superintendent Kevin Instance receiving his framed letter of praise from the Dalai Lama

    His Holiness must have found some body-altering drugs during his recent visit to the Glastonbury Festival! 😉

  • Bristol’s rudest place name?

    The other night conversation down the pub turned to Bristol place names.

    Wherever one is, place names give a locality character. They commemorate local personalities, such as Mary Carpenter Place in Bristol’s St Pauls area, as well as national figures, e.g. Nelson Parade in Bedminster.

    Others were named after the trades practised or goods traded on them. Bristol used to have a Milk Street and a Cheese Lane; it still has a Wine Street and a Corn Street, together with Old Bread Street.

    Some street names are stranger and Bristol does not disappoint here either. There’s Zed Alley in the city centre, along with Counterslip down by the floating harbour. Counterslip is a corruption of Countess’ slipway, a reference to one of the long-vanished amenities on the then tidal River Avon of Bristol’s long-demolished castle.

    road sign for There And Back Again LaneHowever, odd street names are not confined to Bristol’s centre. Up in Clifton one can find There and Back Again Lane, whose signs are a favourite target for the larcenous intentions of drunken student. Just beyond Durdham Downs, towards Stoke Bishop, is Pitch and Pay Lane. The origins of the lane’s name apparently hark back to times of plague when goods and money would be exchanged by being thrown across the thoroughfare.

    Besides food and drink, other bodily needs are also commemorated. Along with other medieval towns and cities, once boasted a Grope Lane – to use the polite version – where ladies of negotiable affection were purported to ply their trade. The earliest written reference to Bristol’s Grope Lane I’ve found relates to 1433. It was previously known as Halliers Lane. Nowadays it’s better known as Nelson Street.

    Besides streets and roads, fields also have names: and it is to one of these that one has to turn to find Bristol’s rudest place name – Fockynggroue.

    Below is part of the abstract of a paper by linguistics professor Richard Coates of the University of the West of England (UWE):

    The lost field-name Fockynggroue is recorded in the perambulation which constitutes the bulk of a Bristol charter conjecturally of 30 September (inspeximus 30 October), 47 Edward III, that is 1373. This document was drawn up when Bristol was granted county status.1 The field was in the region north(-west) of Brandon Hill between locations identifiable in modern times as Woodwell Lane and Crescent (names now lost, near and in St George’s Road) and Cantock’s Close.2 A. H. Smith, the editor of The Place-Names of Gloucestershire, offered no explanation, although he had obviously reflected on it because he classified it in the element-index as containing a ‘significant word’ (i.e. not a personal name), but without further elaboration.3 Perhaps he thought it too risqué to dwell on or too obvious to deserve comment, but, if so, he omitted to address a consequent issue in the lexical history of English. He did not cite the additional forms given in Bristol Charters.4 These are taken from perambulations of the city boundaries taken between the granting of county status and 1901: ‘Fukkyngroue, Pocking, Fokeing, Foking or Pucking Grove’. The name certainly lasted till around 1900, when a printed abstract of title for Hither & Inner Pucking Grove from 1707–1842 and a sale agreement of 1899 for the place were in existence.5

    In modern times Fockynggroue has been diverted from its past as a location of carnal pleasures. Where it once helped generations of locals enjoy loving trysts and the pleasures of the flesh, it now caters for the intellect, having been built over as part of the campus of the University of Bristol.

  • A world without Linux – episode 1

    Below is the first of what will a series of videos seeking to depict what the world would be like had Linus Torvalds not released his kernel 24 years ago, with that kernel then being combined with the tools produced by the GNU project to create a powerful and reliable operating system.

    A World Without Linux is a web series that flips this reality on its head to illustrate entertainingly just how pervasive Linux is today.

    The video itself reminds your correspondent of how much time he used to spend doing work research in reference libraries before the advent of the internet: now the internet comes to him, which is much more convenient. 🙂

    Linux is the world’s largest collaborative project in the history of computing. It runs most of the world’s technology infrastructure and is supported by more developers and companies than any other platform. It’s everywhere – from your phone to your car and your office. It also powers the internet, the cloud, the world’s stock exchanges, supercomputers, embedded devices and more.

    Reposted from Bristol Wireless.

  • Linux kernel is 24 years young on Monday

    Although Linus Torvalds, the originator of the Linux kernel, announced his initial work on the kernel on 25th August 1991, it was not until 5th October 1991 that Linus actually released his code: Linux kernel 0.01.

    Linus Torvalds gives a photographer the finger
    Linus Torvalds in combative mood

    With this October anniversary in mind, it’s worth taking a bit of time to review what’s changed to the kernel over the intervening years.

    Version 0.01 of the kernel had 10,293 lines of code. In contrast, version 4.1, released in July 2015, has more than 19 million lines of code, according to Phoronix. That’s quite spectacular!

    The current Linux kernel is the result of one of the largest collaborative projects ever attempted and since tracking began 10 years ago, more than 10,000 developers working from more than 1,200 companies have contributed to the kernel.

    Furthermore, the speed of Linux kernel development is breathtaking. The average number of changes accepted into the kernel per hour is 7.71, equivalent to 185 changes every day and nearly 1,300 per week.

    This rapid development and collaboration have been a spur to others. Writing yesterday on the Linux Foundation blog, Jennifer Cloer states: “In recent years, the powerful growth of the Linux kernel and resulting innovation has inspired others to adapt the principles, practices and methodologies that makes Linux so successful to solve some of today’s most complex technology problems,” and, “We’ve learned so much from Linux and have no doubt that learning will continue.”

    Originally posted on Bristol Wireless.

  • ODF is a “financial and social responsibility”

    ODF logoThe Dutch government wants to accelerate the adoption of Open Document Format by the country’s public sector according to a press release by the government’s Standardisation Board.

    On behalf of the government, the Standardisation Board is determined to speed up ODF’s adoption throughout the government.

    This was one of the most important announcements made at the 11th ODF Plugfest held in The Hague, where a group of international developers, EU policy-makers, digital archivists, academics and other experts assembled to discuss the Open Document Format, an XML-based file format for spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents that was developed with the aim of providing an open, XML-based file format specification for office applications.

    “In view of its extent, the public sector is an important stakeholder when a sound future for office applications is involved”, says Steven Luitjens, the director of Logius, the largest operational IT organisation within the Dutch government. “It is our financial and social responsibility to bring about an improvement. We are therefore increasing our efforts in the Netherlands. We want to play an important role in the huge transition from commercial productivity packages to better, bespoke solutions based on open standards which lies ahead of governments and the private sector.”

    ODF is top priority

    “The need to adopt ODF speaks for itself,” says Nico Westpalm van Hoorn, Chairman of the Standardisation Board, which is concerned with the choice of IT standards for the government. “However, the adoption is proceeding too slowly. ODF is therefore out top priority”.

Posts navigation