Sunday, February 13, 2005

Trans fat

Great New Tork Times article on Trans fat which explains something I saw this week. At work we have supplies of various snacks and I was looking at the Pringles to see what was in them. The seal proclaimed 0g trans fat in huge letters. I read the ingredients and found that one of the flavours (sour cream and herb?) had some partially hydrogenated oils, in other words it did contain trans fat. I was gobsmacked. But the Food and drug administration allows a product with less than half a gram per serving to claim the product has no trans fat. So even when new labelling laws force companies to list trans fat explicitly we will still have to keep reading ingredients lists if we want to avoid it.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


In Blueprints for High Availability: Designing Resilient Distributed Systems by Evan Marcus, Hal Stern, there is a quote credited to Scott Russel, Canadian TV personality:

Tell me a fact I forget it; tell me the truth and I learn something; tell me a story and I remember.

I couldn't find this quote in Google, instead I found an ""Indian proverb":
Tell me a fact and I'll learn. Tell me the truth and I'll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.
Which is better?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Neil Goodman on system design

Neil told this to Bryan Pendleton, who told it to me. When you are planning a system, design startup and shutdown first. Everything else is easy. It seems to me that if we design Crash-Only Software then we only have to do half the work.

Jim Gray interviews Tim Bray

In ACM Queue Jim Gray interviews Tim Bray. Here is an extract which has been slightly edited (because I hate to type). Jim Gray: It seems that XML and, to some extent, RDF have been fairly successful at electronic data interchange where OSI and ASN.1 failed. Why? Tim Bray: Two huge lessons come out of ASN.1. What it does is tell you all about data types. If you have a stream of ASN.1, it says, "Here's a 35 character string, and here's a 64 bit IEEE double precision float". XML says ""Here's some text called label, here's some text called price". Historically it appears that it's more valuable to to know what something is called than to know what data type it is. That's an interesting lesson.