31 January 2006

Back to China once more

Rebecca MacKinnon has more interesting thoughts about doing business with China, and in particular makes the point that, with the coming down of the Berlin wall and the release of Stasi files, East Germans found out what their neighbours were up to and whether they had been reporting them to the authorities for any reason. She believes such a moment will come in China, one day (pray to the non-existant that it does of course), and that there will be a reckoning not just with one's neighbours but with the multinationals. Again, one hopes so.

Ricky Gervais Podcast

Buggery b*****ks I can't find an mp3 version of Ricky Gervais' first podcast anywhere - anyone have any ideas? I downloaded some awful apple-encoded cr*p (m4a or some such) that two software programmes have been unable to convert (probably I don't have the correct codecs - more to the point, I have a life, albeit of small proportions, but sufficiently involving that "codecs" aren't something I care to get too knowledgeable about). Anway, parentheses aside, does anyone have episode 1 in mp3 format? I have all the others and can willingly send them to whoever needs them.

...and there's More

Thinking about Kathy's post, it is interesting to compare Google (tons of betas, some of them crap, but an exciting and dynamic company albeit with the same China trouble as MSFT and Yahoo) with MSFT, who get by because of legacy in the marketplace, not innovation or risk. But uh oh, look what's coming - Horseradish tree King, reports the Guardian, has a story about Google and Linux..... watch out Bill, this could hurt (tech.memeorandum has the same story heading it up at the moment, albeit without the divine Horseradish tree King but still).
So now, that's a PC treble-booting with Goobuntu, Apple and XP please with plenty of partition space if you don't mind.

More Risk Please

Very clued-up and exciting post here by Kathy Sierra entitled Death by Risk Aversion. Again my work (but also my LIFE) comes to mind - Scoble comments on it and says that he gets worried if he isn't taking enough risks. It is time to follow suit. The little diagrams drawn by Kathy strike home, particularly that which encompasses the Zone of Mediocrity... So anyway, this week's risk will occur on Friday with a rendition of Hotel California in front of a real live audience (albeit of only 11, no, make that 9 people but hey, you have to start somewhere).

30 January 2006

Dual Booting Windows on a Mac

A while ago I was tempted by the thought of buying one of the new Apple computers when they became available so that I could dual boot with Windows. That was then. Now, I've read a little more about it and have decided that perhaps it isn't for me. Inter alia, part 16 of Computer Guru's guide here says:

In Mac now, hack the Darwin Bootloader to add another entry that chainloads Drive(0) Partition(2). With GRUB it would look something like this... I'm not sure if Darwin is the same, but this step is very simple, and has nothing to do with EFI.
title Windows XP
rootnoverify (hd0,1) ....

and so on. Way too scarey so I shall have to wait 'til Dixons do it for you.

29 January 2006

Four More Things

Well, everyone else is at it:

Four Links I Read Every Day:

1. Guardian Technology blog
2. Lifehacker
3. diggdot
4. Scobleizer

There, done. You are free to go.

Hoovering vs Atheism

While I am not one with much time for creationism, as I was hoovering (vacuuming, if you will) today it struck me that this activity is a sign of evolution gone into reverse. Using up masses of energy, making a ton of noise, generally crashing about and not enjoying one iota of the activity, it isn't even the case that anything much is being achieved: no one, including the irritating Mr Dyson, has yet invented a hoover that actually works for a decent period of time. Why are they so weedy? An asthmatic stoat could suck up dirt more effectively than most hoovers and it would be easier to train said stoat than get a hoover in and out of the inevitably wrongly-shaped cupboard in which you house your machine - in fact, you could house it in an aircraft hanger and still be unable to get the bloody hose and its appendages out without scratching the paint on the walls. What I guess I am trying to say, in other words, is that hoovers might be the best evidence yet that there is a god.

27 January 2006

Goodbye Earth

The map - it had to go - it was too wide, too blaring, too much. Sayonara Countries Visited.


Fancy some extracurricular cock-a-leekie? Pop along and get yourself loved up by downloading a few Pherotones:

"Welcome! Are you ready to unlock your sexual potential in an adventure of self-discovery through untamed passion and incredible pleasure? If you said "yes", then you're ready for Pherotones...."

Quite so. And if you said no, what kind of sad dork are you? The sort that thinks downloading El Cuddlero or Testosteroni might not change your life? Ah you cynic you.

Ha Ha or Ahhhh....

Stowe Boyd links, from his interesting blog, to an article in the NYT (subscription warning - why oh why etc) about the parts of the brain wherein reside empathy and what seems to be posited as its opposite, schadenfreude. Guess which way the genders fall? Ah me, we are but machines who can but do nature's bidding. At least in large part.

Fear of Girls video

If you have 11 minutes to waste you could do worse than watch this short and funny film.

26 January 2006

25 January 2006

Childhood dreams DO come true

Stoopid and timewasting, but admit it, when you were a kid you thought about digging a hole through the earth and coming out the other side didn't you? Well now you can, virtually of course. I'd be falling out south of New Zealand according to digholes.com.

Bit of a tiff? Go live in a tree for the rest of your life

Seems a bit extreme, but there are days that it would appeal: living up a tree for 15 years after an argument with his wife, Kapila Pradhan has apparently been through a cyclone in his tree house, though he gets a bit fed up at the lack of cooked food.

24 January 2006

Treehugger News

Apparently Sweden plans to be free from oil by 2020 - i.e. no oil imports, nada. Interesting. What will you do with your old Volvo? A great accomplishment if they can make it though. What next, Britain to be free of new legislation for the month of December by 2078? Oh I very much doubt it - there will be the new anti-riot laws necessary to control the populace when we realise that we are still paying for today's PFIs.

The Beast

Rather marvellous is this list of the 50 most loathsome people in America 2005 - not charitable, not kind, very cruel, and occasionally very very funny (my particular favourite comes in at number 4). If you guess number one you are probably an American yourself, though the fact that the list is at times a little incomprehensible to the non-indigenous shouldn't preclude your giving it your undivided (well, in internet terms - see you back here in five) attention.

23 January 2006

Capital Fellow(ess) part 2.

So farewell, then, poor whale, for thou art popping off. A couple of questions though, well one really: "This is the first time this species has been seen this far up the Thames since records began in 1913" says the Beeb. Did records begin when a bottlenose was seen as far up as Parliament, or did "they" (and who are "they" anyway?) see one there then and think "we ought to make a record of this"? I'd like to know (a) because I am curious, and (b) because I have a tenner riding on the belief that there hasn't ever been a whale of this type seen this far up river, 1913 or not....

Of dogs and disco biscuits

Boing Boing has a link to the wonderful Snackshotz (TM) site where you can find a "gun" that fires Discos (TM), "Flying Dog Treats", the idea being that exercise is combined with food intake. Why the hand holding the "gun" has to be clad in silver is left to the imagine, as is the idea that you will be giving your dog disco biscuits (will they be denied bottles of water and told not to congregate in groups or listen to music with a repetitive beat?).

22 January 2006

File under: freudian behaviour

Dorondango. Mud balls. Shiny mud balls. Made by Japanese schoolchildren. Of course, you knew that. However, do you know Professor Kayo? He teaches at Kyoto University of Education. He has gone a little hikaru dorodango crazy. He wonders why children are fascinated with making them. I would suggest it has something to do with alchemy. Alchemy, bodily functions, and the power of an individual's transformative energy. And you can read into all that just whatsoever you may wish.
[BTW, this post was written to see if I could sustain interest over a series of sentences each of which contains one more word than that which preceded it, though this, the last sentence, identifiable by its containment within parentheses, does not follow the rule as you can probably tell by now].

Sea-borne mammalian invasion

Whales in London and now dolphins in Maryport, Cumbria - are they trying to take over?

Saving the earth one car at a time?

The Aptera sounds interesting - let us hope that, unlike all the other prototype cars you have ever seen, heard of or read about, this one actually gets made. Check out the mileage - 330 miles on one gallon of diesel at 65mph - fantastic. Top speed electronically limited to 95 mph and 0 - 60 in 11 seconds is not completely unreasonable either. I'd suggest you don't hold your breath, but should this come to fruition it will be an interesting vehicle to watch / invest in.

FireFox problems? Some Suggestions

Good post and comment trail here about FireFox and memory leakage / high CPU usage problems - no definitive answers but there are suggestions to try and remedy the situation if you, like me, are experiencing FF slowing down, crashing, freezing and the like. The problem has eased recently but 1.5 definitely doesn't seem as stable as earlier versions IMHO. (Via Diggdot.us).

20 January 2006

Human Rights? No thanks

Scoble has gone quiet on China and Msft of late - I thought he was coming back to us on that one? And what about his employers handing over info to the government without questioning their right to have it? Questions, pesky questions....

Pete "You can never have enough collagen" Burns

So the aesthetically challenged Mr Burns allegedly thought he'd borrow some style from colobus monkeys? What a delightful chap - will he be lifted off the set by the rozzers do you think or will they wait 'til he's evicted?

"You can't say fairer than that" department

The ever wondrous Boing Boing links to a story from a body called Science Learning Centres in London who carried out a poll requesting information from young people and children about their views on becoming scientists - quote:

"Among those who said they would not like to be scientists, reasons included:
"Because you would constantly be depressed and tired and not have time for family", and "because they all wear big glasses and white coats and I am female.""

No change there then. Were my (non-speccy) papa alive I am sure he might have had something to say about this, his having been a research chemist, but there you go - in vox pop veritas as they say.

Capital Fellow

Darnation I wasn't ablt to get to see the whale in London today but here's hoping the dear creature can get back to the sea again.

Update: Since this post I have heard both that the whale has been seen heading seawards at Greenwich (although this is unconfirmed) and the BBC have a quote from Mark Simmonds at the Whale and Dolphin Society saying "I am afraid people have got to prepare themselves that this animal may well not survive." We are trying to prepare here Mark, honestly.

Update 2: 21st January. Poor thing not yet back in the sea but here's hoping. A couple of points though: (1)What's with the delay in getting it into the sea? I mean, blood tests? "Risk assessment"? What the hell? Get him out to sea pronto - surely nothing else is as important? And why so slow on the barge? While we're about it, point (2): The BBC - what was up with them putting the whale behind everything else on it's radio bulletins yesterday - you think people care about Ruth Kelly more? I think not.
As I listen to the radio on BBC News 24 at the moment there is an "expert" saying that they couldn't let it go if it was ill because that would be "illegal". Oh dear lord we have finally entered a whole new world of madness.

19 January 2006

Rm 101: The Rest

Ah well, at least British Gas give me scope to finish off the Rm 101 survey in record time. Yep, they take the rest of the nominations for their appalling inept, cavalier and customer-hatred-focussed service. For the scenario, check out my previous posting on the company and then imagine it happening again in exactly the same way - i.e. the broken boiler, the call to the service line, the promise of an engineer, the no-show of the engineer, the no telephoning of apologies / to make other arrangements - all the same old nonsense in other words. Then imagine me ranting at some poor 14 year old Scottish kid in Galaeffingshiels or wherever about being lied to, wanting to speak to managers and so forth, even at one stage trotting out the hackneyed, horrible and reserved-for-the-truly-aged "I pay good money for this service". There. Imagine all that and you have an idea of the last day of my life. Then add in the fact that the decorators are round, and have been for over a week, then add in the fact that when I got to work today half my computer had been stolen and wahey, there you have it, Patrickland, not a place you would want to go on your holidays I can very strongly assure you.

17 January 2006

Ah, welcome back

It has been a while since I've heard anything about the Raelians but they are back in the news with the story that they wish to hire a certain disgraced South Korean scientist to help with their cloning programme. Marvellous. Before he begins work, perhaps he can tell us why it is de rigeur to have a greying (sorry, graying) beard and white clothing to fully qualify as a mad cult leader?

16 January 2006

First in Space

Poor Laika: "The animal had been a stray wandering the streets of Moscow when she was captured and prepared for a space mission." says the beeb. Apparently she died after only a few hours in space instead of the week the Russians claimed at the time. Stress and overheating led to her demise according to reports. I hope they learnt from her.

Celebrity Big Brother

It is rubbish and dreadful and is indicative of dumbing down on a huge scale and I should be shot for watching and blah blah blah .... but that Traci is lovely is she not?

World's Worst Software competition

Is Lotus Notes the world's worst application? Your votes here please...

15 January 2006

Framley Examiner

New link alert: take a trip to Framley - you will, I guarantee it, smile freely.


How appropriate that Save Upstate New York, who want to prevent wind turbine development there, should have a photo of some sort of monster SUV / pickup style vehicle on their homepage. Sure, turbines everywhere might be a cause for anguish, but the alternatives are surely worse? Interesting, too, that the homepage should have as the first highlighted concern Property Values. And there is nothing on the front page about other suggestions for power generation. "Anything but this" seems the order of the day.
OK, I live in London, what do I know and why should I have anything to say about it? All true to a point. But when the US is by far the biggest consumer of energy per capita worldwide, and when the jury is still out on global warming (I mean, there was a report the other day suggesting that plants contribute to global warming on a huge scale - wtf?), surely the country and her individuals have a duty to be thinking about these things?

Time for the off?

We all make mistakes of course, and sometimes one makes such mistakes that they live with you for a long time afterwards. However, it does seem amazing that the Government's Education Dept could have sanctioned sex offenders and those cautioned for sexual offences involving children to work in schools. Sure, forgive and forget and so forth and I'm not one for spray painting paeditrician's homes (sic), but good grief, this does seem quite a strange course to be following. As the man on the radio said on Friday night, no matter how good an interview the lion does, it isn't likely you are going to agree to him working in your butcher's shop. Looks like "Husky" Kelly is going to have to fall on her sword.

Commuting to work, Japanese style

You can watch a Japanese train doing over 500 km/hr at Google video but unfortunately you'll have to find the link yourselves as I can't get it to work here. Anyway, if you do find it, have a look at the passengers' faces as they watch the in-car speedo register half a thousand kilometers an hour - it could be me, but I don't think they look that happy. Of course, they'd look a whole lot unhappier if it were a SouthWest Trains that was doing these speeds - 90% reliability might start to appear worryingly inept.

14 January 2006

You'll always take the weather with you...

and whatever else you have on your google homepage - have just signed up to google mobile and am (a) perhaps entering a whole new world of pain; and (b) am almost certainly going to start racking up download charges, something I have tried to avoid until now. Will report back on the User Experience as and when.

Update: Two days later and I'm having to re-enter my details on the homepage. Easy enough on a full-size keyboard, a bore on a phone pad and not something I am going to be doing again any time soon. Ergo, I think this is likely to be another failure in the world of "let's get the internet on the move".

Are they in any way related?

14th December 2006 So you go to myheritage.com and upload a picture of yourself (beware, you have to register) and then get it to look for similar people choosing, if you like, the faces of the famous. Anyway, here is yours truly with one of the chosen faces that was meant to be similar to my own - Mr A Sharon. Now, I don't know how you'd feel, and politics aside, but I find this slightly unflattering... Try it yourselves and see what you think - makes me think that Riya had better be better than this.  Posted by Picasa

14th January 2006 Outside the Fox Goes Free in Charlton, East Sussex. See that red thing? Soon they will have gone the way of AA boxes and Respect (thanks Tone for bringing that one to our attention).  Posted by Picasa

14th January 2006 Chichester Cathedral.  Posted by Picasa

27th December 2005 Laugharne - you know, Dylan T's place in South Wales.  Posted by Picasa

14th January 2006 Gargoyle, Chichester Cathedral.  Posted by Picasa

Trilby? You're Barred

Nanny state? Naah, of course not. Why should 64 year old great-grandfathers be allowed to wear hats indoors?

How to Use the Interweb, Part 474

Why don't newspapers allow comments on their online stories? Then they could do as the good doctor Scobleizer says and note those that are most commented upon for our delectation. A simple idea that would radically improve not just sites and RSS aggregators (is that what I mean? I think so) as Scoble suggests, but that would also alter the way we see newspaper stories - they would then be simply the hub at the centre of a much bigger, more interesting and more informed story. Someone somewhere on Engadget was commenting the other day that it was more useful to read the comments on a review of a new camera or whatever than it was to read the review itself (sorry - I can't find the link to that person presently). Simple, elegant and dramatic - perfect web2.0 stuff.

Winsome, Lose Some

Ha, DRM - come back to haunt the users as Spielberg loses out on an award owing to the wrong type of encryption being put onto DVDs of Munich. Turns out the judges couldn't nominate what they hadn't seen... A shame for Spielberg, in fact, as the film itself sounds interesting if this very good article by Jonathon Freedland is anything to go by.

Talking on the Big White Telephone

Boobie has had enough - no more dry food for him. (Thanks Bro).

12 January 2006

In Truth, Honesty Pays

Interesting post from Scobleizer about why it is a good thing for him and others like him to blog about (i.e. to start conversations about) products other than Microsoft's own. For example:

"I don't really want religious customers. I want skeptical, educated, pragmatic customers. This is why I talk about my competitors so much and let you know what they are doing right.... By the way, business schools teach that you should NEVER talk about your competitors cause your customers might like their products better and leave.
I'd rather have customers who go and seriously consider Linux and Macs first. If I lose them as customers, that's OK. They weren't mine to begin with..."

11 January 2006

Blonde Joke

So here is the best blonde joke ever....

Dearie me, eeuw!

BoingBoing led me to this - very amusing Flickr set by Mr Neutron of people seeing Goatse for the first time. SFW as far as I went, but be careful out there!

10 January 2006

Karl Pilkington to replace Charles Kennedy?

If you haven't yet downloaded the Ricky Gervais podcasts from the Guardian website ("podcasts", "blogging" - where do these horrible words come from?), do please do so - very highly recommended, in particular for the delightful insights of Karl Pilkington, a Hero for Our Age. Or something. The cruelty and abuse he suffers at the hands of his tormentors is sometimes nasty to behold but he doesn't let it bother him, oh no. Sometimes his voice goes a bit quiet and muffled but he bounces back and quietly manages to outshine his co-stars.

where to now?

Have Google lost the plot you think? I mean, the lame CD with all the programmes you've already got. The online video store (yawn). Gmail is still in beta (deservedly - the server is down so often it isn't funny - and yes, I know beta is the new alpha). And that 5% stake in AOL - what for? I mean, where does it take them? Now, if they'd only buy a few satellites like I said they should... Imagine GoogleEarth Live - how cool that would be.


electricshop? They may be cheap but there is a reason. TV ordered 2nd Jan. Is it here yet? Of course not. Have the company bothered contacting us? Of course not. Am I cancelling tomorrow? Of course I am. Anyway, if you ever even think about going there, don't.

8 January 2006

East v West

Four years in jail with no charges being brought, no presentation of the evidence on which you are held, and force-feeding if you go on hunger strike. Life under Saddam? No of course not, life under Bush at Guantanamo. Doesn't it make you proud to be part of the Western world.....


Q. How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. That's not funny!
(from The Observer).

Mrs Lemon's Browser Stats: Firefox in Front...

More nature - repeat, but you'll like it. At Kew Gardens.


In need of some nature? Try this - beautiful video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Sit back, relax, let your eyes tear up a bit - remember life outside the city?

Evening Standard's Standards Sliding Even Further

The London Evening Standard (as before - no link - they are despicable) has been reported to the Press Complaints Commission for publishing pictures of an apparent suicide of a woman as she falls from the fourth floor of a building. One wonders what their defence will be as "public interest" doesn't seem to cover it.

Shh! George is talking!

According to the Grauniad, Gorgeous George gave a "Heineken" reason for wanting to appear on Celeb Big Bro, namely that he wanted to reach "a young audience politicians usually can not reach". Put like that, I like it. I don't always agree with much of what he says (though his appearance before the American Senate committee was a scorcher), but actually you can't fault the logic of his argument - he will be seen and heard by people who'd normally not give a politician the time of day. The story goes on to say that Channel 4, responsible for airing the programme, don't want to allow him to use it as a soapbox - it will be very interesting to see who comes out on top at the end.

7 January 2006


The New Y0rk Times - why oh why do they persevere with the registration process? I never read anything there because I DON'T WANT TO REGISTER. Why, one wonders, do they not want more readers? Are they not advertising driven? Ah well, off elsewhere for the news that matters....

Sony Reader

Here it is then, the Sony Reader. I know it won't be to everyone's taste but it looks very good to me. I've not been reading much over the last couple of years or so owing to my internet addiction but this might get me back into the habit. To get an idea on what content might be available I had a look at the Connect Store, Sony's site for downloading media, but couldn't find anything other than music (and I had to open up IE to see the site as it wouldn't accept Firefox for some reason). I like the idea of carrying a number of books around, though in reality I never did this with paperbacks except when I was close to finishing one and wanted to go straight on to another. It might be good for a holiday in this respect, though again the reality of a holiday read is that suntan lotion, water, food, drink, sand - all these come into contact with whatever you happen to take to the beach / park / cafe and of course whilst books shrug off such contact, the Reader is unlikely to do so. Additionally, the software is likely to be cumbersome as Sony have an unenviable record with bits and bytes. Even with all these provisos, however, I still like the look of it and would be tempted to buy one when it comes to the UK. It is far from perfect but is the first realistic competitor to the printed page. The one thing that will kill it stone dead though is DRM - please Sony, try and get it right this time.....

6 January 2006

H5N1 - coming soon to a town near you?

Bird flu - still cool with it? Check out this little interactive guide from the beeb - I'm beginning to feel a chill in the air.

Want to know who your mate's been dialling?

Can this be done in Britain do you think? You pay a company (in this case, locatecell.com) your $110 and email them the number of the mobile you wish to know more about. In return, they send you a list of numbers that the mobile has called in the last month. Not so good if you are an undercover FBI agent, if you are having an affair or if you are seeking help from colonic irrigation operatives....

DualCor cPC

This little baby looks nice (I'd love one), though the terms "unprecedented" and "unrivaled", when wedded to an unspecified battery life, give considerable pause for thought.

"Road Warrior"? Oh feck off

Is there a phrase in modern parlance more bloody irritating that "road warrior"? If there is I'd love to hear it. Road warrior my arse as that chap in his armchair might once have said. You're a travelling salesman - you sell stuff, and you leave your office to do it. It isn't something to be ashamed of particularly, so don't try and hide your function behind a phrase that has jumped the shark.

5 January 2006


This sounds v. good and worthy of more attention - yakalike - simple idea: you sign up, then when you are surfing the web with firefox if there are other yakalike members on the same page as you, you can chat to them. Brilliant non? Nothing more to say really other than it is a shame they have run out of invites.

audible.com - some way to go?

"AudibleListener [links don't work - you'll have to search yourself I'm afraid] is a monthly or annual membership plan for people who love to listen and love a great deal." [?]

Oh deary deary me, what is up with this? I went because it sounded like a reasonable deal ($9.95 for lots of great literature to listen to) and then, page two, realisation hit: that's the lowest monthly subscription charge. They offer a "free download" when you join with an "average value" of $34.95. So hang on, a download costs $34.95? Surely not. But wait, it gets better:

"How is the audible file format different from the mp3 format?" they imagine you wish to know. Well, since you ask...Let's guess: lower compression rate? Check. Incompatible with some players? Check - they advise that there are 150 compatible players, which suggests that there are many out there that aren't...
So, let's start again: Audible - for people who've never used the internet in their lives before.

Big Business in China contd.

Rebecca MacKinnon has some more interesting views and news on the China issue and what Yahoo, Microsoft and the rest should do about conducting business there (if, indeed, they should even do so). I would particularly endorse the following:

"Do not count on these companies to protect your human rights, if those rights are threatened by the over-stretching hand of any government anywhere on the planet..... If these American companies have so few moral qualms about giving in to Chinese government demands to hand over user data or censor Chinese people's content, can we be sure they won't do the same thing in response to potentially illegal demands by an over-zealous government agency in our own country? [She links here to a story about warrantless eavesdropping in the States]."

The same goes, of course, for Britain and British companies. Business, untrammelled, is not pretty. Keeping companies within acceptable moral parameters is something that is done from without, not within.

A question not asked in any of the discussions I have seen is what would happen to "Michael Anti" if he kept blogging - ten years, one suspects, like others in his position before him. That isn't to say that this makes Microsoft's position more acceptable, but it is part of the equation.

4 January 2006

Alternative view from Microsoft

Michael Connolly is a Msft employee who's also blogging about what his employers are doing in terms of helping the Chinese with their censorship. He makes the following point:

"In China, there is a unique issue for our entire industry: there are certain aspects of speech in China that are regulated by the government. We've made a choice to run a service in China, and to do that, we need to adhere to local regulations and laws. This is not unique to MSN Spaces; this is something that every company has to do if they operate in China..... And when an offense is found that actually breaks a national law, we have no choice but to take down the site."

It seems that Michael doesn't address the central point though, which is where he says "we've made a choice to run a service in China...". Isn't it about justifying that choice rather than what the choice entails? I think there are some arguments that can be made in favour of that choice, one of which is that hopefully, with time, cross-fertilization will occur and the ideas and memes associated with working with a huge but essentially relatively free-thinking capitalist company will permeate Chinese society and help change it. I also think that the freedom allowed in Western capitalist countries, while far from total and diminishing daily as governments play into the hands of Osama and his evil ilk, will ultimately make more economic sense to the Chinese.
There are, however, contrary arguments of course, namely that the hypocritical stance of companies doing business with China (not forgetting those western governmens encouraging this trade) gives grist to the Chinese authorities mill. Also, won't economic advantage be spurred on more quickly if China is left out of the equation? Sure, the market is huge, but leave them to their own devices and they will surely fall behind without the individualism and freedom to think that is encouraged (albeit a bit half-heartedly at times) in the West? Plus, most compelling of all, by their very actions, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and their cohorts are aiding an evil and rancorous regime that jails more journalists than any other and carries out thousands of executions a year.....

Well, at least she married a mammal

From The Age (via Boing Boing) comes news that a woman has married a dolphin. Fair play - Cindy (what sort of name is that for a male dolphin?) won't get grumpy, leave clothes everywhere and moan about the lights being left on.

Msft to buy Yahoo?

I'm trying to imagine what the combined might of Yahoo and Microsoft might do to matters Chinese. If the company became big enough on the world stage, would they be able to dictate to the awful Chinese government rather than the other way around? That surely would be a force for good.

3 January 2006

Land of the free... but not for export?

Rebecca MacKinnon has some more interesting news on China and Microsoft's allegedly taking down a blog that was too anti-government (all the deets here). Looks like this will be another version of the Yahoo tale you've heard about here and elsewhere before. The tension between the megacorps' desire for a slice of the Chinese market and the ugly demands of the authorities there is likely to play out for some time to come. One hopes that eventually economic advantage will be conferred by freedom of thought to such an extent that even the dumb Chinese government will be persuaded they are on the wrong course.

Back to 101: Computer Says "No"

101: 52. Shopping. It should be easy right? You pop into the store ( I won't name it because it would be embarassing for Habitat) and you pick up the lightbulbs you want. You find the checkout, get out your cash and you wait. And wait. And wait. You watch the assistant repeatedly jab at the computer screen in the same fashion over and over. You and he move to another till where the process is repeated. You ask that he hand-write a receipt and offer him the correct amount of cash for the goods you require (and thereby imply that he should perhaps fix the till later) - you are refused this option because the "replen" function will thereby fail. You resist telling him you don't give a ff about any "replen function" and leave the shop wondering why Day One of the Shop Assistant Training Programme doesn't begin with the mantra (or tattoo if needs be) "if the till is broken, serve the customer and FIX THE TILL LATER".

We are such stuff as dreams are made on....

I know, I know, having all the information in the world wherever you are, instantly - it's been said before and far better than by I. However, when I read about The Cloud and their WiFi plans (for example at the BBC, though widely reported elsewhere in the British media as well), it does get me thinking about how much the world has changed. Already I can ask the internet students at Any Question Answered anything I wish to know for £1.00 (a fantastic service btw - try it next time you are arguing with friends over who Humphrey Bogart starred with in Casablanca - I think you may have to be in the UK but am not sure - anyway, number here from your mobile is 63336) but soon even this small barrier between you and the Oracle (the mobile call, the cost, the wait for a reply) will be abolished and then, and then... Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you can find out more about it. And when Google get their act together and buy those satellites like I think they should, imagine the power at your fingertips, at everyone's fingertips. It'll be a Velvet Revolution of the Mind.

Charles Shackleford: A Quote

Apparently he once said:
"Left hand, right hand, it doesn't matter - I'm amphibious."
Who is he? Well Google'll tell you better than I.

Lawks-a-mercy, goodbye to something else - your TV

Vongo, a new service (US only at the moment - I was subject to a "geographical error" when I tried to visit earlier - the link here takes you to the NYT and sadly I'm afraid you'll have to search out the article as I can't get the link to work) offering downloadable films and tv programmes, looks interesting and signifies further conflict between the old, passive, TV media business and the new, not-quite-so-passive-but-still-fairly-flat-arsed media, the interweb.
TV vs the Interweb? Well, if you were wanting to put money on it, once the 12 foot / 12 inches viewing problem is overcome it'll be no contest and the web will win through of course. Lordy but the world is changing fast. And soon, just think, it'll all go exponential and then where will we be? Marvellous.

Update: From Yahoo (Chinese Journalists? We'll turn 'em in) News comes the following:

"If they get it right," Bajarin said, "Google, Yahoo and MSN will be the digital portals for video content."

Hollywood, which is now experimenting with more online delivery services, is taking notice.

In fact, nearly 40 percent of TV network executives surveyed recently by IBM Corp.'s business consulting service said they feared major competition from Internet portals in the next five to seven years.

The only question I'd have is, what makes the networks think they have five years? Actually, I have another - wtf are the other 60% thinking?

Cleaners? First, get yourself a lawyer...

An excellent post at NHS Blog Doctor that explains approximately 40%* of what is wrong with everything in the UK. Dr Crippen tells us how his clinic used to be kept clean by a couple of old ladies armed with rubber gloves and disinfectant. Now, contracted out, the cleaning is poorly executed and more expensive. Still, it keeps dozens of managers in a job no doubt, so it must be good. Here's the good doctor's exchange with Kevin, the cleaning contractor, who asks him what exactly they want him to do:

"Clean the Health Centre?"
"Ah! Indeed yes, but it is not as simple as that"
"Isn't it?"
"Oh! No! I mean, you have to see it from my point of view. There are certain things my staff cannot clean. They are not medically trained. Clinical waste. I mean, bedrolls that patients have been on. That sort of thing."
"Doris and Emily just cleaned everything."
Kevin was not having this. His company was not insured to do "everything". He gave us all a list of all the things his staff could not clean. A long and comprehensive list. Broadly speaking, this seemed to be anything that might be dirty.

*Results may vary - consult your MP.

Where's the depth?

Interesting article in Wired about Jason Calacanis and his selling of Weblogs, Inc., for $25,000,000 to AOL. Interesting in the sense that he sounds driven and intense, but also in the sense of how thin everything sounds - there just doesn't seem to be that much to understand in all this web advertising verbiage.

Tipping Point?

Have you noticed the amount of ads on tv for web services? What's going on with that do you think? I imagine there may come a time when those same companies are solely advertising on the interweb but at the moment the demographics must be such that they still have to follow the old rules. Or is it a matter of belief?

2 January 2006

Surprise Surprise

More expensive rail tickets? Good grief, who'd have thought it? Rail companies acting without a thought for their passengers, I mean customers (sigh)? Well I never. Soon there will be news that night has fallen, the sky is blue and Tony Blair is a power-hungry fool with an inferiority complex and a conduct disorder.

1 January 2006

More lists, listed.

OK, so, here we go - more lists. Indeed, a list of lists. And, to keep up the self-referential theme, the poster, Jack Schofield, himself notes the great long list of list sites. Or something. Anyway, if you're hungover and looking for something to pass the time until you can sleep and awaken like a newborn deer, you could do worse than pop over and have a look yourself.

More Law? Oh go on then, give us another shovelful

And so Tony and his pals march along to the tune dictated by Osama and his cretinous ilk. Take a look here for information about the Serious Crime and Police Act 2005 which looks like making our lives all the worse for further loss of liberty in the future. Bald tyre? Come with me madam. Fake credit card? Let's search the cafe you once ate a scone in.

31st Decenber 2005. Prior to the rampaging.  Posted by Picasa