The first half of the action took place in dream-Middlesbrough, which is moderately realistic. I caught a bus late one evening, alongside one of my old schoolteachers who I hadn't seen for years. (Not a favourite teacher of mine, but not one of the worst.) He moaned about the teaching profession at large. Got off the bus and walked through one of the rougher areas of dream-Middlesbrough, which had been revitalised into beautiful-looking tall, thin four-story townhouses. Then got back onto bus - hey, it was a dream - and rode about 200 yards further up the road to a petrol station with a toilet. Went to toilet and walked home (about 400 yards).
Between toilet and home, got hassled by a gang of drunks. For some reason we all had physical little devices which acted as always-on wireless buddy messenger services and they somehow managed to involuntarily add themselves to my friends list and send me a load of junk. I have to spend a lot of time deleting them from my friends list and putting them on a block list. However, the device was about two inches square and made of cheap, crinkled tin foil. Trying to enter their names to block them was very tricky (think of sending text messages on a mobile phone, where each button stands for three letters) and every time I incorrectly entered a name, the name I entered got sent to all my friends.
The second half of the action took place in dream-Oxford, which is a recurring location that pops up from time to time. It's broadly the same as real-Oxford, but has about twice as many shops. (Most of these shops are small newsagents.) Went shopping with Mum at a department store - however, you had to go up three escalators and then down another two before you could actually get into the store. One of the escalators had very strange rotating steps, but this was some way of getting up the escalator much quicker.
Mum was shopping inside the store when I received a message on the aforementioned buddy messenger device. However, this time it had turned into an approximately credit-card sized widescreen two-way videophone. A random semi-naked 16-ish-year-old girl with whom I had no connection had messaged me to let me know that she had just had sex. Then another random gentleman messaged me twice, but for no particular reason. I suspect that this interactive videophone feature of the future was being plagued by the equivalent of junk spam mail.
One very nifty feature of the service was the way that each message, as it came in, had its own distinctive short video-plus-sound ring tone to let you know instantly who it was from.
Then I woke up. Not bad, as dreams go.
John Prescott announced the plan for spending 1.1 G£ on affordable housing last night. Areas set to benefit include the Thames Gateway (translation: run-down East London), Ashford in Kent (which is well-connected for the EuroStar at least), Stansted and Milton Keynes.
Stansted is a pretty clever choice as I've been to the Bishop's Stortford area and there indeed really ain't very much there. That said, I'm not sure how you're going to convince thousands of people to move to somewhere near a major (eventually, say, 25-40 million pax/year) airport. Or perhaps that's why all the new housing there is going to be affordable?
Incidentally, they're also going to have to think about upgrading the transport from Stansted into London - I assume they're thinking in terms of this as another commuter town. However, they're probably going to need to have to upgrade the transport into London for the airport, so it'll kill two birds with one stone.
Milton Keynes is an excellent choice. It's a very experimental, avant garde New Town which is set up on a roughly square grid design. I visited it in about 1996 to watch a martial arts show and got stuck overnight there, which was a grisly experience. (They have an all-night cafe at the nearby coach stop, which is at least warm and dry with a TV and food available, but not nearly a nice place.) I liked the city a lot and thought it very cleverly designed and a joy to get around in, but also thought that it felt unfinished - a lot of the grid squares of the city felt empty. If we're going to fill these empty grid squares up with houses then the place will turn into quite a vibrant city. Hurrah!
More on the TV recently about overcrowding on the London Underground. I don't think most people have cottoned on to the fact that once the Cross River Transit overground tram scheme gets built (scheduled to open in 2009) then this will effectively add about 50% to the capacity of the Northern and Victoria Lines within the busiest areas of the city, at a cost which should turn out to be a fraction (er, a fraction between 0 and 1) of the cost of the Jubilee Line Extension.
A long-term project of mine is to produce artist's impression projected maps of what the London Transport network will look like in the future - maybe, say, a 2010 map, a 2020 map and a 2030 map. I anticipate that these could be updated each year according to the latest information on transport network developments. Getting a copy of the current map into a free-CAD-package-friendly format is likely to take, maybe, 50 hours and then producing the projected future maps would take another 50 hours per year. It'd be a big task but could be quite good fun.
When will Gordon Brown come out and say "Public sector wages are relatively low and must continue to be relatively low in the future because we want to spend more public sector funding on services and less on wages. If you don't like it, don't work in the public sector."? It would make public sector budgeting and wage negotiations very much easier in the future. It would annoy the public sector workers a bit, I guess.
I've somehow ended up on a backgammon mailing list and received a physical letter from Italy about a backgammon tournament in Slovenia. However, the mail was postmarked in Milan on the 12th and reached me on the 15th. Three days from Italy to the UK? I always understood the Italian post service to be the slackest in Europe, more usually measured in weeks rather than days, so well done Poste Italiane for getting their act together. (Unless the mail has been lounging in some letterbox for two weeks before it gets postmarked and sent on...)
It would be interesting to see a chart of LiveJournals ranked by (comments received minus comments posted), figures that are clearly visible on the full mode of user information. I'm not sure what exactly this metric would measure; the theory is that someone whose journal attracts a large number of unreciprocated comments is somehow more of a star or more popular than someone whose journal does not, but I suspect this theory falls down somewhere in practice.
http://www.dickson.demon.co.uk/jiggery_pokery.png is my (slightly old) output on the famous
friends grapher. From it, we can conclude:
1) Almost all of my friends are either game show people or Potter people. Well, no surprises there then. (I love those of you who are neither just as much as all the rest, though.)
2) All the Potter people link to each other and it's very clear to see who's prominent in the fandom whereas things are rather less cohesive on the game show side of things.
3) The game show people link to news and the Potter folk don't. This is probably why amuzulo has ended up on the same side as the game show people, which is probably fairly spiritually accurate. (On the other hand, the Dice Fetish community ends up wayyyy out on the right flank, which is probably "a miss".)
4) A large part of the reason why LiveJournal is just plain more fun than the other journaling services I've seen is that, well, so many people are here already. When a group of people all use LiveJournal then you can effectively use fun things like this, like the communities, like the interests lists and so on. However, when half of them are using LiveJournal and half are using UJournal (mentioning no names!) or Blogger or even hand-coded HTML then we can't so effectively take advantage of the interconnectedness.
Jakob Neilsen sez that the utility of a social network is proportional to the number of connections within that network, which is proportional to the square of the number of people in that network. There's something in that. People who migrate away from LiveJournal to SomeOtherJournal ain't doing much for the collective utility of the journalsphere.
I can understand the motivation when SomeOtherJournal offers a better service, but I haven't seen any evidence of this yet. Incidentally, I offer plaudits to LiveJournal for its openness which might theoretically permit some features to take in data from LiveJournal, DeadJournal, UJournal and indeed any other journal systems using the same codebase, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Conclusion: stick with LiveJournal! If we're all in it together, it'll be more fun!
Caveat: I may not, in fact, have any clue what I'm talking about here - but, hey, that's never stopped me in the past! :-)
There. 1600+ words in 69 minutes!