by Ian McEwan
October 11, 2020
The Cockroach by Ian McEwan

Franz Kafka comes to Downing Street in Ian McEwan’s glorious satire The Cockroach. A comic parable, the novella inverts Kafka’s 1916 Metamorphosis in which Gregor Samsa ‘awoke’ to find himself ‘transformed’ into ‘a gigantic insect’ so...

October 8, 2020
Can a web page have too much white space?

Can a web page have too much white space? It’s an innocent question and may even appear to be impertinent given how much white space is embraced, even revered, by web designers - myself included. White space is at the heart of the less is more...

by Patrick White
July 29, 2020
The Vivisector by Patrick White

Patrick White’s The Vivisector, the writer’s longest novel, explores the nature of artistic creativity and the link between a painter’s character and the work that it gives rise to. As with all White’s novels, scenes from the author...

June 20, 2020
Adding a scroll indicator

Scroll bars have been with us since the first GUI. They help us navigate content that is taller - or wider - than the window in which it is displayed. They come in various flavours, suitably modified as operating systems evolved, but...

by Patrick White
June 2, 2020
The Solid Mandala by Patrick White

In a letter to the writer Ingmar Björkstén in early 1973, the Australian novelist Patrick White wrote that he felt very close to The Solid Mandala “because it conveys a certain nightmarish quality of life which I have experienced, though the incidents in...

May 8, 2020
Newtimber Hill and VE Day

The vault of heaven was almost discernible from under the skies above Newtimber Hill in Sussex yesterday. It is six weeks into a ‘lockdown’ trying to stem the advance of the coronavirus pandemic and it was our first venture by car anywhere in that time. Grief lies...

by Patrick White
May 2, 2020
Riders in the Chariot by Patrick White

Compassion. Compassion towards the outsider, the foreigner, the misfit, the ugly, the plodder: this is the central theme of Patrick White’s 1961 novel Riders in the Chariot. Read it for his view of Australian culture emerging from the Second World War...

by Patrick White
March 17, 2020
Voss by Patrick White

Towards the end of Patrick White’s novel Voss, White observes for one of his characters that only “the supreme torturer would have tweaked the curtain of illusion” (and thus caused her to imagine her childhood garden to be reflected in the face of her...

by Patrick White
March 2, 2020
The Tree of Man by Patrick White

It was quite possibly the recent Australian bushfires that subconsciously put Patrick White’s extraordinary fiction back onto my reading list. Those terrifyingly vivid tongues of fire and crisped lives were images I’d already encountered in his writing....

by Herman Melville
February 15, 2020
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

I have just been floored by Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. It is a novel wrought of elemental stuff with a style honed with so much more craft than ever I had expected. It’s not a what-happens-next page-turner; that’s already known. I felt...

February 3, 2020
Ightham Mote

The name Ightham Mote - whose four-consonant apparent tongue-twister contributes to the surprisingly easy Item Mote - may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon words eyot and ham, meaning island home. True or not, this medieval Kentish...

January 27, 2020
Pixel squeezing with JPEGmini

The smaller an image file size is, the better. Get that wrong and your page will load more slowly, your users will leave more quickly, your site SEO will suffer and the site’s carbon footprint will tread more heavily. Anyone posting...

by Ursula K. Le Guin
January 21, 2020
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin book jacket

Placing this book in the ‘science-fiction’ category probably deters many people from reading it. Yes, it’s a story set on an imaginary world (the paired planet of Urras and its moon Anarres). Yes, there’s something arguably scientific in the form of ‘the...

by Robert Macfarlane
January 19, 2020
Underland by Robert Macfarlane

I have previously written that I consider Robert Macfarlane to be “able to assess risk before exposing himself to it” but having now read his immensely impressive Underland, my fears for his...

January 2, 2020
Site migration with Backdrop CMS

With Backdrop CMS being a fork of Drupal, you could be forgiven for thinking that everything in...

November 25, 2019
The i360, Brighton

It has been difficult not to glimpse the Brighton i360’s pencil-thin outline from the South Downs, showing it black against the sea below it or flashing sunlight off its aluminium and glass surfaces as the coast curves round from Worthing’s staid and matronly...

November 24, 2019
BBC Sounds

Rants don’t usually contain reasoned explanations. Although this may sound like one, it therefore isn’t - as you will see. The BBC Sounds app (for Android) is so unfit for purpose that...

November 15, 2019
Bridget Riley at the Hayward Gallery

London’s Tate Modern is home to some gorgeous Bridget Riley canvases, huge rectangles of rhombic mosaics, in shifting colour that one can stand in front of and lose oneself in. A fifteen minute stroll west along the embankment, the Hayward Gallery seems to...

November 9, 2019
Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln’s majestic cathedral dominates the surrounding plain from its spectacular perch atop Lincoln Cliff. Its bulk - already planted 50 metres above the surrounding plain - soars skywards a further 83 metres. Seen in almost any weather, the cathedral exerts...

November 9, 2019
Hardwick Hall

Hardwick Hall exudes the ego of Bess of Hardwick - its builder - as much as it is today buffeted by the constant drone of traffic from the nearby M1 motorway, both equally transient and fleeting yet strangely permanent. You can block out...

November 8, 2019
Stokesay Castle

Climb to the top of Stokesay Castle’s south tower and you are rewarded with a 360 degree prospect that could be one of the loveliest in all England, the gently rolling hills of Shropshire, Houseman’s “blue remembered hills” with his spires and farms....