Archive for June 13th, 2007

State Of Origin

Much like last time, I am contracting my state of origin tip to a random number generator. 1 for New South Wales, 2 for Queensland.

It picked 2, so my tip is Queensland.

Disclaimer: The random number generator has a 100% failure rate so far.

Samuel

11 comments June 13th, 2007 at 06:12pm

The Phone Bills in China Must Be Enourmous

This article in the Winnipeg Free Press is good for a laugh. It would appear that they ran out of last names in China a long time ago, and China now have so many people with the same name that the Chinese government are considering some amusing measures to fix it.

To get an idea of how serious this problem is, 85% of China’s population share a mere hundred surnames…that would be like having the entire Sydney White Pages filled with just Smiths and Browns.

A quote from the article:

In April, a survey reported by Xinhua News Agency said that Wang was the most common surname in China, with about 93 million people sharing the name. That was followed by Li with about 92 million and Zhang with about 87 million.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has reported that at least 100,000 people share the name of “Wang Tao”, the newspaper said, causing problems in daily life.

The solution to this, apparently, is to alter Chinese laws to allow children to be given hyphenated names (such as what I have). This would unfortunately take a few generations for the effect to take hold, and of course the problem there would either be only slightly fixed, or result in names that won’t fit on a page in the phone book. It also doesn’t help from a pronunciation point of view that many last names are very similar:

Under a proposal distributed to police departments around the country by the Ministry of Public Security, parents called Zhou and Zhu would have four options when naming their newborn, the China Daily reported.

Their child’s surname could be Zhou, Zhu, Zhouzhu or Zhuzhou.

The simple thing from my perspective would be to allow people to change their names so that you could have a larger set of names, however there seems to be some cultural issues surrounding that idea.

One thing I do know though, until it’s fixed, trying to ring Wang Tao when I forget his number is going to result in a large profit for a bunch of phone companies.

Samuel

June 13th, 2007 at 10:50am

Printing

Thank you to the people who reported that the printable versions of the articles and pages on this website were returning “404 Not Found” errors instead of printable versions of articles following my WordPress upgrade on the weekend. I actually noticed it myself when I went to check something on the print layout on the weekend, but it was nice of some readers to report the error as well.

The weekend upgrade broke two things, the permalink structure for the print layout, and the WordPress plugin which produces the print layout.

For those of you who are wondering what I’m going on about, let me take you on a brief potted history of printing on this website. On the original website the layout printed quite nicely, it was a bit of a mess because the sidebar got printed with everything, but on the whole it was reasonable. After moving to WordPress and the Blix theme which this site uses, I noticed that the sidebar would print under the content, so I made a few CSS changes to prevent the sidebar from printing. Generally when people print a page of a website they are interested in the content, not the useless (on paper) links on the sidebar, so this tends to work quite well. The layout is very bland and basic, but it works.

The thing that does bug me about printing web pages though, is that all you get is a title, a date, the page as displayed on your screen, and generally a truncated URL making it impossible to find the page again three months later. On the screen a web page is fine, but on paper it tends to be lacking a bit of information, for example, generally a printed page will show links, but not tell you where they go, and because they tend to inherit the on-screen formatting they aren’t optimised for printing and tend to use more paper than they really need to.

The print layout view solves these issues by formatting the page neatly for your printer, providing the full URL in a font which doesn’t require a magnifying glass, and printing a list of links and the corresponding URLs at the bottom of the article.

The print link can be found between the end of each article and its comments (if there are any), and if you are going to print anything from this site, I would recommend using that function.

Samuel

June 13th, 2007 at 10:12am

CanberraRoadWatch.com

A few weeks ago I was asked to help test a new Canberra based website, CanberraRoadWatch.com, so I had a poke around, did a bit of testing and provided some feedback. At that stage I didn’t know how close it was to public release, so I wasn’t entirely sure if my first impressions would still be accurate when the site was eventually ready to go live.

Yesterday I was informed that the site is now live, so I had another look. There have been a few modifications, but ultimately it is still much the same as it was when I was asked for feedback, which in my view is a good thing.

The website is essentially a “dob in a bad driver” site, something that has been done a few times before, but this one is different, mainly because it is by far the most straight-forward website of its type, and as the name implies, is focussed solely on Canberra. The main benefit here is that a simple website which focuses on one area is much easier for users to navigate the site and do whatever they need to do quickly and with minimal fuss, and without the burden of being inundated with information about people in cities on the other side of the country.

When you visit the website you are greeted by a short list of recent reports, and information on how to report an incident, plus links to a page where you can search for incidents involving certain number plates or locations, and another page where you can sign up to the CanberraRoadWatch monitoring service.

In many ways I think the monitoring service is probably the best feature of the site, especially for businesses with company car fleets (although as I’ve mentioned previously, the ACT Government’s car fleet seems to have been immunised against the road rules). The potential here for vehicle rental businesses is considerable.

Obviously the monitoring service has other uses too, such as monitoring the driving habits of new licensed teenagers, keeping tabs on people you lend your car to, and possibly even monitoring people you are investigating for whatever reason (hello private investigators…and perhaps ASIO).

I think the main benefit of this site is that people won’t want their car listed on there, so hopefully will behave sensibly…it may take them getting listed a few times, but with any luck, CanberraRoadWatch.com may help to make Canberra’s roads safer, and that can only be a good thing.

Samuel

7 comments June 13th, 2007 at 06:33am


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