Leeds Tube map

Leeds Tube map

Update: you can now buy the Leeds Tube map as a poster for your wall! Hello visitors! See this update! Leeds is an amazing city: my favourite place I’ve ever lived. But one thing it does really badly is public transport. We have one massive railway station in the centre of town and then (with a few exceptions) the rest of the city is accessible by unreliable, expensive and unpleasant First buses. As I have got to know the city better, one thing has kept coming back to me: wouldn’t it be amazing if Leeds had a metro system? So I imagined an alternate reality where the city I love has an amazing and reliable underground railway called Leeds Tube. Leeds Tube has several lines that connect the major population centres and attractions, including the...

Leeds Beer Quest

Regular readers of my blog (if such a thing exists) will notice it’s gone quiet here recently. I’ve not vanished, but I do have another project to keep me occupied! Emily and I are on a Leeds Beer Quest! We’re on a mission to visit every single pub and bar in Leeds city centre and review them. We’ve done 36 so far, which sounds like a lot, but we’ve got at least 140 to do! Check us out over there, especially if you live in Leeds and you’re looking for some ideas about new places to go out (or places to avoid). The address is pretty memorable: http://leedsbeer.info/ I’ve also not given up my commitments to Twitter and Flickr, and you can find me on those sites by following the links to the right hand side. I do have loads...

Success stories reported as failure

Something I often see happening in the media is the reporting of success stories as failures. The scenario is this: Something unfortunate and unpredictable happens. The authorities / people responsible clean up the mess and few-to-no parties are harmed, physically or financially. This major success is reported by the news as a failure. Today’s story about the keys at Wembley going missing was a great example of this phenomenon. Something very unfortunate happened – a set of keys went missing at a major Olympic venue. But here’s the thing: this fact was discovered instantly, and security protocol was initiated which resulted in all the locks being changed before there was any chance of security being compromised. This proves the security systems...

Lords Reform: Time for a Senate of the modern age?

The House of Lords is a bag of balls. We know this – you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone other than a foaming traditionalist who believes that having almost two-thirds of our country’s lawmakers being appointed, rather than elected, is a good idea. The recent news about the latest bill for Lords Reform  — the latest in a line of small-scale tweaks — is the most exciting yet because it promises a large proportion of the seats to be democratically elected. But do we need another set of politicians elected the same way as the Commons? Will the public even understand why they’re voting for two different representatives? Will they care? It’s hard enough to get people to turn out for elections when they’re only voting for one. In...

Thought for the day: Andy Murray

I don’t normally write about sport (or indeed, anything, these days) but I thought this was worth a moment. The BBC is reporting today that Andy Murray’s defeat in the Wimbledon final was his “biggest disappointment yet” because he played better than ever before. And I have no doubt he feels that way. That’s our culture that does that, not logic or common sense: the better you do and the harder you work, the bigger a disappointment it is when you fail. Why? Is this a good thing?

Karaoke for snobs

Those of you who know me well enough will know I’m a bit of a karaoke fiend. Stick me in a room with beer and some friends and a load of backing tracks and it will be very hard to get me to put down the microphone. The trouble is: my musical tastes and karaoke don’t strongly intersect. A karaoke playlist will always have a bit of Radiohead, REM, Kings of Leon… if I’m lucky I’ll find some other moderately popular artists like Mumford & Sons or the Manic Street Preachers. Sometimes there’s an absolute gem like Alabama 3 or Guillemots but this is really pushing it. What we need is a karaoke bar for snobs. A place where Kylie and Girls Aloud are banned and the playlist oozes with quality songs that really test a singer’s...

XKCD progress indicator

You all read today’s xkcd and wanted to incorporate this formula into your programs straight away. Here’s my Ruby implementation, if you would like a quick fix: require 'date' class XkcdDate # Progress indicator formatted as a date, as in http://xkcd.com/1017/ def self.progress(amount, total) percent = (amount.to_f / total.to_f) years = Math::E ** (20.3444 * percent ** 3 + 3) - Math::E ** 3 Date.today - (years * 365.25) end end It takes two arguments (amount and total, used to form the ratio) and returns a Ruby Date object, which you can format any way you like. And examples of its uses, as in the comic: >> [7.308, 31.12, 47.91, 70.33, 90.42, 100].each {|p| puts "#{p}: #{XkcdDate.progress(p, 100)}"} 7.308: 2011-12-18 31.12: 1995-02-15 47.91:...