Questions, questions …

Umm Zaid has asked me five of her own questions, which she promised to do even before I saw LH’s set. So let’s see:

(L-H asked one of my questions which is how your blog got its name…)

Well, the name of the blog is a pun on “Joe Bloggs” which kind of means “any old Joe”, sort of thing. I like it as a sort of health warning, not to take anything on here as authoritative, particularly on Islam.

What’s the best part of driving a truck?

Sometimes, there isn’t one. Particularly if you get a real old heap of a wagon, with a load of someone else’s junk in it, a radio which doesn’t work properly or which you can’t figure out how to work properly (by turning off irritating “features” like the one that interrupts your Radio 4 news programme to bring you the traffic news you don’t want to hear), and a run which takes you somewhere like Brixton. As for when you get a nice clean truck which works decently and a trip through the South Downs or the Hampshire countryside, or to Birmingham, and you’ve got time to stop and look around you and not too much pressure … well, I’d say that the best bit is what you get to see on the way. However many times you’ve seen it before.

What is it about computers and technology that interests you the most?

Graphical user interface programming. Particularly Qt, which as a way of programming is simply the best out there.

Then again, it’s always depressing to see the industry reject decent technology in favour of rubbish, which seems to be happening quite a bit. But then, this is often the fault of the people who designed what could have been the better technology - the most notorious incident being one in which Gary Kildall, who ran a company called Digital Research, passed up the opportunity to meet IBM’s bosses to promote his operating system, Control Program for Microcomputers (CP/M), for petty personal reasons. IBM instead used MS-DOS, which according to Eric Raymond was “a clone of CP/M for the 8088 [early PC processor] crufted together in 6 weeks by hacker Tim Paterson at Seattle Computer Products, who called the original QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) and is said to have regretted it ever since”. It looks increasingly likely that Linux will never see widespread use on the desktop, again, largely because of its own inadequacies despite its clear superiority for running servers.

Where is your favorite place to go cycling and why?

Round here, I’d say Richmond Park, because it’s big, green and there’s no traffic except on the perimeter roads. There’s special cycle tracks (although it’s sometimes easier to use the roads), and the views are lovely, and it’s quiet.

Tell us about an intriguing book you read recently.

I very rarely read novels (I can’t remember reading one since Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, which I started reading in 1996, put down and then took up again in 1999), and none of the other books I’ve read recently could be called intriguing.

If I had the means, I’d….

Personal: Get out of this house. There’s an awful lot I hate about this house, particularly its location, by a six-lane highway. (Is it common in the US for people to live next to such roads? In London there are at least five roads of near-motorway standard which have houses along them. If I had the means, I’d have them all knocked down.) And get married.

Religious: If I really had enough means, I’d arrange for a group of Muslims to settle in a rural area, partly for da’wah purposes and partly for the benefit of those families and their children. This was an idea I had years ago, and a lot of people had similar ideas although no major project has ever got off the ground. One family I knew did move (to south-west Wales), although they took out a mortgage for the house and farm they bought, which is not really consistent with doing hijrah for Islamic reasons.

You can’t normally buy out politicians with money, only businessmen … so I’d buy out Bill Gates, or perhaps Rupert Murdoch. (I’d wonder about the ethics of buying out Murdoch, because he’d most likely just go into competition with me. But I would like to end his influence in the world’s media.)

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