During a discussion over on Debate Unlimited I was reminded of a little puzzle I used to use as a test problem when getting to know a new development tool or environment. The puzzle is called 5x5.

Many years ago I wrote a version in Clipper (often including it in systems as an easter egg). I also seem to recall writing a version the first (and last) time I had a play with Visual Basic. I've also done versions for the Palm Pilot and for GNU emacs.

Prompted by this, and as a little lunchtime break, I quickly knocked up a web-based version. So, here it is, 5x5 in XHTML and JavaScript. You'll find details on how to play it on that page.


Geeking out with Exif

So I've got a good number of photographs on my website now. And all those photographs have Exif data associated with them. It's all very well showing the data with a photograph, but doesn't it just cry out for having something a little more geeky done with it?

Well, one ruby script later and I've now got a page of pointless data about my photographs.

No, I don't know what it actually tells me either.


Worship God -- It's a good thing

Some time ago I signed this e-petition. While I didn't necessarily agree with all of the wording I did and still do agree with the main thrust of it (we should not be forcing the practice of a specific religion in our schools).

Today I've had an email pointing to the government's response to the petition.

The Government remains committed to the provision of collective worship in schools and recognises its valuable contribution to the spiritual and moral development of pupils.
That's nice. How about giving some idea of how it aids children's "moral development"? And, more to the point, what is this business of "spiritual development"? Shouldn't "moral development" be in some sort of philosophy class?
This is a view which is shared by many parents who still expect their children to understand the meaning of worship whether they hold a faith or not.
Why the need to practice a specific form of worship so as to understand the general idea of worship? Why the need to perform a specific instance of something to understand the class of something?
We believe that it is important that collective worship should provide the opportunity for pupils to worship God as well as to consider spiritual and moral issues and to explore their own beliefs.
(Emphasis is mine). Note that pupils should have the opportunity to worship God? Note that there's no place for deciding what god, or gods? Note that there appears to be no place to consider the idea of there being a god that cares about being worshipped or even wants to be worshipped?
Collective worship can play a valuable role in developing community spirit, promoting a common ethos and shared values.
And the worship of God has what to do with "developing community spirit", promoting a "common ethos" and "shared values"? Aren't shared values where sets overlap?
The Government believes there is sufficient flexibility in the law to allow both Christian and other forms of worship.
Way to avoid the point of the petition!
The Government respects the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own faith and this is why parents have the right to withdraw their children from collective worship.
Note how they talk about "faith" but don't mention anything about no-faith? Note also that, despite talking about "common ethos" and "shared values" and "developing community spirit", they're really promoting a "follow this or bugger off" approach?
From September 2007, pupils in school sixth forms will also be able to withdraw themselves from collective worship. The Government believes that for younger pupils, it is appropriate and practical for parents to decide on whether to withdraw. The Government believes this strikes the right balance between the requirements of the law and accommodating the wishes of parents.
In other words, we're going to do everything we can to promote faith and, generally, a particular kind of faith, in a way that's very similar to spamming. It's an opt-out list.