Archives for April 2008

Die Zuschlagmarke

Die Zuschlagmarke is a type of stamp that has two face values: one for the postage and another for a special cause, eg. 55+25

These sorts of stamps often appear before Christmas and include a small donation to a charity. In the above example 55 cents would be the postage for a letter and 25 cents would be the donation.

The donation is not allowed to be higher than half the value of the postage itself, although this has not always been the case and stamps used to be produced with values such as 12+38.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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Happy Birthday, WWW!

The BBC reported today, that the World-Wide-Web is celebrating its 15th birthday. This is because the first web technology was released by CERN on 30th April, 1993.

It’s not an event that I remember experiencing, although I know that I was in my second year at university and getting ready to go to Germany for my placement year, so I dug out my diary from that year to have a look.

Apparently I didn’t have any lectures on that day and stayed at home to do homework and revision, which I guess is not very exciting compared to the birth of the web!

I remember at the time using an information system called Gopher and my first contact with a web browser was with NCSA Mosaic in September 1994 when I arrived back at university for my final year.

It was then that I started to design web pages. My final year project for my computer science course was to design the website for the Department of Languages and European Studies, which included looking at the different technologies and where it was all going.

The site was basic by today’s standards, but it used an interesting feature of colour-coded links to show which pages were public and which were only available on the campus, as well as a separate colour for external links.

There were experimental audio files in WAV format and video files in Quicktime, as well as a selection of photographs provided by other students – often displayed with only 256 colours.

Many of the pages stayed online after I had graduated and have only been replaced within the last year years. I still have the source code to those pages, but you are unlikely to find them anywhere online now. To get some idea of how the site looked, there is a page of the main department site on archive.org which shows how the links were colour-coded.

I would have liked to have compared what I wrote back then about the future of the web with what has actually happened since, but although I have the project work backed up and readily available, I have been struggling to open the file containing my summary. It is another example of digital obsolescence as even with the wide variety of software and operating systems available to me I have not managed it yet!

I guess I will have to dig out the printed version of the project or return to the original PC that I wrote it on, providing it still works after all this time (and I was pushing it to the limit back then!)

The web has revolutionised the way that we work with and think about information, and back in 1995 when I was finishing off my project work I am sure that I would have written something about the forthcoming changes in peoples’ attitudes to working with the web and the availability of information.

But after all that has changed over the past 15 years, sometimes it is still the printed word that is easiest to retrieve.

Bio-ethanol price rise

I guess it had to happen in the end.  After months of blogging about the price of oil and hence the price of petrol, now the price of bio-ethanol has gone up.

The following sign greeted me when I went to fill up this week:

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So now the price is at 0,949EUR/Litre, but that’s still a lot cheaper than buying normal petrol!

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