Writing by Peter Hilton

Important Questions

Questions that I would really like to know the answers to.

There are some things, such as catastrophe theory and where the socks go, that I don't mind not understanding. However, I really want to know the answers to the following questions...

Unanswered questions

Domestic questions

In England, why is the best Cornish pasty outside the West Country nowhere near as good as the worst one in Cornwall? What is it about Cornish pasties that stops them being even remotely authentic anywhere else in the country?

A typography question

From Tom Murphy's questions: Why does the 4 in Times New Roman not have any serifs? ... and which other serif fonts share this oddity?

Techie web site questions

What would it be like to program a web site in a database (using PL/SQL say) so that you only had a single web server script that just displayed the result of the SQL query select HTML from PAGE where URL=$url, for a given $url? All requests would be directed to the one server-side script that would parse the requested URL, and query the database for the corresponding page. Database code would deal with all of the page templating stuff and there wouldn't be any middleware.

Obsolete questions

Would the VMS file versioning system be useful on a web site where the pages are regular columns, as an easy way to make old columns available? (If rant.html was the latest column, then rant.html;3 would be the third in the series and rant.html;-1 would be the penultimate one.) Obsolete, because I haven't used VMS for years now, and I doubt that it's a particularly popular web server platform.

Answered questions

Where does blancmange get its name, and is it the same as the French dessert mont blanc? Well, it turns out that blancmange does exist in France, despite what I'd been told, and that it is always white, so the name is fairly obvious. Mont blanc, meanwhile, is something completely different. Unfortunately, Catfood magazine's discovery of the origin of blancmange doesn't offer any further clues.

Why do glasses washed in a dishwasher feel horrible once they're dry? Apparently the answer is salt deposits on the glass, which means you need more rinsing agent.