Scraping the Flood (or another reason to code)

The River Thames has spilled into the flood plain (which is what flood plains are for) and the local footpaths now look like this:

Thames flooding between Benson and Wallingford

Being generally inquisitive, and also wondering when I’ll be next able to walk into Wallingford, it would be useful to know whether the river is rising or falling. Is there an easier way that walking down to the river every couple of hours with a depth gauge?

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Internet use in the UK

The Office for National Statistics have published their annual look at computer and internet use in the UK (the full data release has been delayed because of a statistical blip).

The key points quoted:

  • In 2012, 21 million households in Great Britain (80 per cent) had Internet access, compared with 19 million (77 per cent) in 2011
  • The number of households with Internet access has increased by 7.1 million (23 percentage points) since 2006, when directly comparable records began
  • In 2012, 93 per cent of households with Internet access used a fixed broadband connection, of which 30 per cent used a cable or fibre optic connection
  • Of the 5.2 million households without Internet access, the most common reason for not having a connection was that they ‘did not need it’ (54 per cent)
  • In 2012, 67 per cent of adults in Great Britain used a computer every day

One set of trends that I found interesting were the reasons for *not* using the internet as shown below:


Data source:—households-and-individuals/2012/stb-internet-access–households-and-individuals–2012.html#tab-Reasons-for-no-household-Internet-access

I wonder to what degree ‘lack of skills’ and ‘don’t need’ are connected. Could a lack of skills result in a lack of appreciation for, or understanding of, the benefits of being connected?

With 5.2 million unconnected households there’s some way to go for the Digital Advisory Board. Then again I sometimes wonder how many of the 5.2 million are better off not connected? Those off-grid holidays can be quite relaxing after all…

JCQ Not Open

This post was going to point to the JCQ data on 2012 GCSE exam results. Instead I’ll link to the Guardian Datablog post (which has a link to a Google spread sheet version of the data).

Why so?

The JCQ is the Joint Council for Qualifications (see Wikipedia for a description). It acts as ‘a single voice for the seven largest qualification providers in the UK’.

The Terms and Conditions for the JCQ website include this clause:

2.6 You undertake not to:


establish a link to this website from any other website, intranet or extranet site without our prior written consent;

Complying with this clause means not *establishing* a link with the JCQ site [1]. A rather strange clause to include in the T&Cs for *using* a web site. The result? I guess it makes JCQ a single voice that’s not part of the conversation.

To quote Nate Anderson in Ars on a similar issue:

But those wanting to link to a normal Web page on the site certainly don’t, as a general rule, need permission to do so; indeed, the Web would be a hugely different place if linking were permission- and form-based. One can see why Lowe’s likes such agreements, but it’s harder to see why anyone would sign one.

I wonder if they really mean this. I’ll ask.

In the meantime…


[1] I suppose there’s an interesting legal discussion somewhere on whether including an HTML anchor tag is *establishing* a link (or if that’s what happens when the browser makes an HTTP request to the webserver hosting JCQs site). Irrespective