Monthly Archive for December, 2006

Leaving early for Hajj

Well, compared to many others it’s not early. However, contrary to the emai I sent many people over the weekend it now appears that I am leaving for Hajj tomorrow (Wed 20 December 2006).

Lord Oxburgh on provision for cyclists

Former Imperial College Rector, Lord Oxburgh, on the shockingly bad road provision for cyclists in the UK:

My Lords… Does the Minister agree that the provision made for cyclists on this country’s roads is hopelessly inadequate compared to the provision made by some of our mainland European neighbors? Indeed, if the Government wish to encourage cycling both for health and for other reasons, serious attention should be paid to that deficiency.

Source: Roads: Cyclists: 14 Dec 2006: House of Lords debates (

Hear! Hear!

I’ve written to Lord Oxburgh at the House of Lords to commend him for raising this issue in parliament. If you feel similarly why not do the same? Visit

Effeminate screwdrivers

This she driver set [] made my laugh. I wonder who will be getting that for Christmas…


Flock is a flop

I installed Flock, the “social” browser yesterday and set it as my default web application. Less than 24 hours later I’ve reverted back to a pimped-up Safari.

Flock is a nice idea, nicely done, but somewhat lacking. The built-in blog editor is nice, but primitive in its capabilities. Far more useful is the shelf feature and the ability to drag and drop HTML snippets and images. These are valuable but not the main purpose of a web browser.

On the Mac OS, WebKit browsers are, inevitably, faster than Gecko ones. That’s not a simple trade-off as Gecko is arguably the better rendering engine. I keep Camino as a backup browser to Safari precisely for those web pages that don’t work correctly in WebKit. Unfortunately Flock suffers doubly in the performance stakes. Not only is the Gecko engine slower but so is the UI – and that’s where the difference is really felt.

Flock is basically a bunch of bundled themes and extensions over Firefox with its XUL interface. XUL is all very well but its not the native API for Mac OS, or indeed any other platform. So it’s a hodgepodge that kind of looks okay but is a bit sluggish and quirky to boot. I can tolerate the non-standard widgets. But what I can’t stand is the slow response to key presses and mouse-clicks. I end up penta-clicking in the search bar in an effort to “select all”. (It’s only a triple-click in just about any other Windows or Mac app.)

I’ve not tried Firefox on a Mac but on Windows the UI is just about bearable. With Flock on Mac OS I found it just too irritating to use. It’s not that the UI is badly designed: it’s quite smart actually. But all that XUL results in an unpolished finish that wouldn’t be out of place on a Linux desktop. If I was happy with that I wouldn’t be using Mac OS.