June 02, 2024

On The Vacation Trail

Written by Eleanor McKeown
On The Vacation Trail

On The Vacation Trail

Jun 2, 2024 08:48 AM
How trips to Jodrell Bank and the University of Oxford inspired us as we build our indie browser from scratch, Horse Browser
It’s been a week since we took time off from building Horse Browser and enjoyed a much-needed vacation to Elly’s home country, the UK. We’ve been reflecting on our trip and wanted to share some things that inspired us along the way.

All You Need Is Lovell

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First up, we took a trip to Jodrell Bank Observatory, where we got to see the Lovell Telescope. It’s the third largest telescope in the world, a brilliant feat of engineering and just happens to be down the road from where Elly grew up. The observatory was the vision of a single scientist, Sir Bernard Lovell, and its telescope, engineered by Sir Charles Husband, continues to make important astronomic discoveries since being completed in 1957.
We were interested to learn more about its construction and how, during the build, the cost of engineering over-ran its budget. The spiralling cost led to an enquiry by the Public Accounts Committee and Lovell was threatened with prison. It’s crazy to think the telescope and its discoveries might never have existed.
While it might seem silly to compare building a browser to the world’s biggest telescope (although they both involve engineering… of different kinds!), we found lots of inspiration in the history of Jodrell Bank. It’s always surprising to learn that even the most impressive projects come up against obstacles and detractors. To build anything you need some pretty extreme perseverance.

Bumping into Internet Friends

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London is home to many world-class research archives & institutions and we were lucky enough to be staying close to the Sir Francis Crick Institute and Wellcome Collection, as well as the British Library and British Museum, where we stopped off to visit the Rosetta Stone. Deciphering languages and code is Pascal’s jam.
While in London, we also swung by the Microsoft, Samsung and Apple stores to see what’s new. In fact we were in the Apple Store in Covent Garden, when one of our very earliest Riders, @marcinignac, came up to say hello. This was such a magical moment of our trip.

Dreaming Spires

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Our final destination was the University of Oxford (Elly’s alma mater). It’s a special spot for Horse Browser since it’s where Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, studied in the 1970s. He built his first computer while studying there. In 1990, he proposed and created a World Wide Web while working at CERN. Thinking about its original design inspired Pascal to build Horse Browser’s navigation style, Trails.
While in Oxford, we also took a tour of the beautiful Bodleian Library. The library contains over 13 million books and continues to take in a physical copy of every single item published in the UK and Ireland. To us, the logistics of this physical archive seems even more of a reason to improve how people store and organise research online.
During the Bodleian tour, we also learnt about the historical development of the library’s shelving and cataloguing systems. Early chained libraries used fore-edge shelving with numbers or pictures drawn on the book’s fore-edge so readers could detect the book’s contents at a glance. This ingenuity reminded us of how we’re using emojis as our own cataloguing system in Trails… Those early libraries were onto something!
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Green TeaWikipedia
Matcha TeaWikipedia
Sencha TeaWikipedia


Sencha Tea

Sencha (煎茶) is a type of Japanese ryokucha (緑茶, green tea) which is prepared by infusing the processed whole tea leaves in hot water. This is as opposed to matcha (抹茶), powdered Japanese green tea, where the green tea powder is mixed with hot water and therefore the leaf itself is included in the beverage. Sencha is the most popular tea in Japan. It represents about 80 percent of the tea produced in Japan.

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Pascal and Elly at Disneysea Tokyo
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Hello! We're Elly and Pascal. Thank you for supporting our little indie browser. Read on for the personal Trails® that brought us to where we are today.

Pascal and Elly at Disneysea Tokyo