House update

Still no update, really. We’ve still not got the house in Cellardyke, Fife. The hold up is now in the hands of Fife Council. They will not issue the document that is required until certain bits of work are done to the house. As far as we are aware this is being done, so should (hopefully) hear about it in the next week or so. It would be nice to have this chapter closed.

Night work

I’ve often thought, and at times said, that society’s trend towards 24/7 shopping is a bad idea. What is wrong with us that we can’t plan so far ahead that we need the reassurance that if we need a pint of milk at 3am we can pop down to our local village-sized supermarket or garage forecourt for one; or that we can’t be disciplined enough to wait until dawn. It is not so long ago that banks didn’t have cash machines (ATMs) and you had to plan ahead. Don’t get me wrong: I think cash machines are fantastic, but I’m less keen on so many people having to work late nights.

There is an article in today’s The Scotsman newspaper about this. These are the findings of a recent study:

THE recent Future Foundation’s report, The Shape Of Things To Come found the following:

  • UK population currently working between 6pm and 9am: 7 million (one in seven).
  • Predicted UK Population in 2020 working between 6pm and 9am: 13 million (one in four)

ATTITUDES:

  • 58 per cent of those questioned believe night working is destructive to family life
  • 67 per cent of people think that supermarkets opening 24 hours a day is a positive trend

HEALTH:

  • Night working is the equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes a day
  • 40 per cent increase in risk of coronary heart disease
  • Eight times more likely to suffer peptic ulcer disease
  • Higher risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Disruption of eating patterns – gastrointestinal disturbance: nausea, indigestion, constipation, bowel irritation

SAFETY

  • Night workers 50 per cent more likely to be involved in a vehicle crash

SOCIAL EFFECTS

  • Higher rates of marriage break-up
  • Social isolation – reduced friends network
  • Exclusion from the community – social and cultural events

Maybe the monastic communities got it right: a balanced, rhythmic lifestyle and diet, with respect for the hours of the day… and prayer at 3am instead of shopping.

I love CSS-2

Have I already waxed lyrical about the wonders of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in the development of websites? No? Great. Cos they are fantastic!

I’ve still not found a really good book about them — there must be something out there! I’ve been reading the DHTML/CSS book in the Visual QuickStart series, which is okay, and have an O’Reilly pocket guide to CSS2, which are okay, but take ages to flick through to get the information I really need, in the format that I want it. Maybe I should just write my own!

I’ve started to dissect well-designed, CSS-compliant websites, such as www.getfirefox.com to see how they’ve done it. The more I learn, the more I am impressed with the flexibility and possibilities that CSS offers. In short, CSS means that you can separate website content and look, so by writing two completely different CSS files you could apply an utterly different look to exactly the same website. How marvellous!

I’m in the process of putting together a CSS-2 version of this site. It’ll take a while to do, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Chess

I’ve rediscovered chess. Hadn’t you heard? Yeah, apparently chess went missing some time last year, lucky I found it!

I had a couple of chess programs, including Waxman, a 16-bit shareware version that I’m still rather fond of, that seems to have dropped off the face of the internet, and a couple of versions for my Psions (3mx and 5mx), but I wanted something a little meatier. A couple of weeks ago I bought the Chessmaster 10th Edition from Ubisoft, which is rather good with its tutorials and other extras. I still prefer the 2D newspaper-style board to the complex 3D versions, however.

I’m also ploughing my way through a couple of chess books, one by a Scottish grandmaster. My friend Matthew has challenged me to a game before he leaves Edinburgh later this year.