Nick's Serendipitous Virtual Desktop

Serendipitous: ser.en.dip.i.tous \.ser-*n-'dip-*t-*s\ aj : obtained or characterized by serendipity.

My desk may look like a mess to you. But to me it's a source of creativity, of energy, of information readily to hand. Beside, it's $HOME ...


New: Visit Nick's Serendipitous Weblog for news and writings.

Before the WWW

The idea behind the World Wide Web is a lot older than you might realise (or at least a lot older than I realised). Read Vannevar Bush's seminal paper, written in 1945 ...

... and then read up on the Hartlib Papers, the writings of the seventeenth century polymath Samuel Hartlib as archived at Sheffield University, who not only corresponded with contemporary scientists throughout Europe and compiled the world's first knowledge database, but forwarded interesting articles from one correspondent to another - Usenet, three hundred years ago !

Footnote: These pages sadly appear not to be online any more but only available on CD-ROM, a great loss to the Internet if true.

What do I do

Need a good programmer ?
[Green signal] Holidaying or touring in the UK ? Avoid hassle, leave the car in a car park or leave it behind altogether, and get a Ranger or Rover ticket from the National Rail web site. If National Rail move it or take it down, try The Junction railrover list.
Image: The Scream - Munsch I've been a regular poster on since late 1994. We all used to meet up regularly in real life too. Read more about Boinking at The Unofficial Uk.Singles Home Page.
Umra: an everyday story of internet folk. Ai am the Official Non Officer in the Lynda Snell Society, see pictures of the Devolved BBQ 2000, and read the newsgroup And then there was the real Umra barbeque in May 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004...
[Picture: CD artwork] Want to hear some seriously good psy-trance ? Go to Dark Angel's page and order some of his mix tapes. Coming soon: audio mixes online too ;-)
[running hare icon]

Mimir, also known as Sorted.Org, was my first personal web site even before Demon launched their subscribers' web page service. But my first online Internet access[*] in 1992 was via a dial-up link from the Warren, Why "Warren" ? Well, go and have a look ...

[*] Historical note: at Cambridge in 1978-79 people from the USA used to log into Phoenix from across the Atlantic occasionally (either that or their chat sessions were very good Turing tests). One I saw used the guest 'EPSS' account, which was provided as we were (also?) connected to the Post Office EPSS packet switching network. Does anyone know what network was at the US end of the link and what the routing was to the Cambridge IBM370 ?

Compulsions and Perversions

I've written about a few things that tickled me or got my goat.

  • Back during the 1997 UK Net Censorship debate, the Daily Telegraph did a piece on accidentally finding which they put in both online and printed form. Unfortunately the gist of the two was very, very different, and if you trusted their online version, you'd never know what scaremongering garbage they'd printed for people who, not being online, weren't already informed on the debate.
  • The Advanced Passenger Train is frequently quoted as one of the Great British Non-Starters of our time. Read here some of the background to the story of British Rail Research Division's ugly duckling, which was culled just as it turned into a swan. The Daily Telegraph, keeping themselves on-form, put the boot into it years after it died ...
  • A Layman's Introduction to Barticle Physics, which may not make much sense unless you're a reader of
[Picture: 45001] I've taken many thousands of pictures of railway subjects over the years, but scanned very few of them as yet. Somewhere under this pile is the start of my virtual photo album.
[Picture: viaduct] I love the romance of old railway viaducts, bridges and tunnels, the Victorians left a tremendous monument to their engineering. However I didn't find the famous Strategic Reserve when I visited the closed Woodhead railway tunnels.
[Picture: Colourscape] Colourscape is a maze of coloured bubbles, through which you can wander and experience the atmosphere changing as you move from one to another. It's like breathing colour ...
[Alastair and Alex] My boys, Alastair and Alex, have done/are doing their own pages :-).
[Inner Circle animation]

That's me, over there ... Or at least, it was ten years back, before the Inner Circle wreaked such a dreadful toll on my features. Never trust a toucan in your bed, that's my motto. I only wish it had been my motto fifteen years ago.

Links are not compulsory

The Dilbert Zone Do you ever follow other people's cartoon links ? Helen, sweetheart of the Internet