Sunday, 22 April 2007

My namesake?

I discovered a reference to "Aaron Sloman microsoft evangelist", and wondered if I had stumbled into an alternative universe.

It turns out that I have a namesake, e.g. reported here

His company's website is so slow to respond that I have not provided a link.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

New blog format, thanks to Zeth Green

Zeth saw my complaint about fixed-width blogs, looked at the result of my attempt to alter the default to allow text column width to expand when window width expands, and suggested some alterations to the template.

It turned out to be much simpler to install his changes than I had expected: download the old template, make a copy, insert the four suggested changes, and upload the new template.

The result makes the header and footer much more tidy. Many thanks Zeth.


Thursday, 19 April 2007

three short notes

1. I have been given me some tips on how to improve the implementation of the variable-width text column on this blog. I'll try implementing them when I get time.

2. Does anyone know anything about 'The World Innovation Foundation' apart from the information provided on their web site and on the sites of the very many scientists who announce that they have been elected members or fellows of WIF? Their aims seem to be laudable, but I would like independent evidence of what they actually do.

3. I heard this morning on BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the UK government had mis-managed the new contracts with hospital consultants. One of the claims made in answer to a reporter's question is that it is very difficult to find out how much time consultants actually work. This reminded me of the fact that the government apparently REFUSES to collect information regarding the time actually worked by university academics. They insist on collecting information in terms of hours per week spent on various activities and the total per week is not allowed to exceed some notional limit of the maximum working week. Our university refused, when asked, to modify the information collected in order to find out the actual totals. In other words they force academics to lie about how much they work, and they then report the information based on such lies to the government.

No wonder pay disputes in the university sector are so bitter and damaging to everyone. (It doesn't affect me: I live on my pension.)

Monday, 9 April 2007

Not so frustrated now

As indicated in the comment on the previous post I have managed to make this display respond to changes in the viewer's window width.

It still needs some tweaking, but at least you are no longer stuck with huge amounts of wasted screen space on a modern display.

Frustrated by narrow text columns

Many web sites that provide textual information restrict the width of the text columns even if I have lots of spare space on my screen.

If I expand the viewing window width I expect the text column to expand also. Otherwise I end up with lots of wasted screen space, and having to waste time scrolling down (or up) the page to read more text. (Hmmm... I wonder if that seriously increases the risk of RSI?)

It gets worse if I increase font size (which I prefer to wearing my reading glasses). If the text column width is fixed, increasing font size means I get fewer characters per line (i.e. the line width is effectively shortened) requiring even more scrolling.

Why are there so many format dictators on the web?

Even the BBC does that: it is one of the worst. See

Google news is much better in that respect.

If anyone can tell me how to alter these blogger pages so as to make the text column a percentage of the window width I'll be very grateful.
(You can email me at A.Sloman @ -- thanks.)

Friday, 6 April 2007

Hello World

Well I have never previously used a blog site, being content to add stuff to my web page in the School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK.

It has myriad links to all sorts of discussion notes presentations and research papers (published and unpublished) produced over many years. But some bits have had the character of blogs, reflecting on the follies of politicians, university managers, people who believe there is a god who listens to their prayers, and so on. So I thought I would try transferring such musings here.

Not sure when I'll have time to start, however, so here's a link to previous 'bloggy' stuff of mine: and here is another:

For idle browsers here's information about the many kinds of things I have been writing over the last few decades:

Dear reader: there are zillions of bloggers and blogs in the big wide world, so if you happen to stumble across this, you have defied the laws of chance. Congratulations.