Archives for June 2006

Sweatshop

Given that Foxconn seem to be admitting running an iPod sweatshop what else can one do but boycott Apple products until they get this sorted out? And that includes shining a flashlight into the places making the rest of the Apple kit.

26/06/2006 21:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Philanthropy

Don Dodge writes that Warren Buffet is donating a considerable chunk of his $44bn fortune to Bill and Melinda gates foundation.

Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world, announced he is giving the vast majority of his $44 Billion dollar fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I said in an earlier post that "Bill Gates legacy will be humanitarian philanthropy". Microsoft was the result of his first 30 years of work. In his remaining years, Gates is just 50, philanthropy will be his main mission.

That's an amazing coupe for Gates and something that, well regardless of your stand on Microsoft, you can just like the man for it. Dodge also makes another interesting point:

Gates takes a business like approach to solving human problems. He is serious about producing real results with minimal overhead costs. Compare this to the way the US government or United Nations, or Red Cross, approach problems. The bureaucracy and overhead is ridiculous. They talk forever and get nothing done.

This is an idea close to my heart. I firmly believe that a pound spent by government is, often, a £0.95 wasted. But why is it only the first and second wealthiest men in the world that get to be philanthropists? What about the rest of us?

I think the problem for us is that we find so much of our wealth swallowed by taxes that are used to fund unpopular wars, ineffective programs, and to support chums of the ruling party. I think a lot of us see the foreign aid budget and, looking at our pocket books, think "I gave." And we did.

When charities come a calling what you choose to give on top of what the government liberates from you might hurt.

As an aside I think it is bluntly wrong of charities to use psychological tactics like gift-giving to pressure people into donating. No matter what your cause, unethical behaviour like manipulating people, cannot, in my book, be right. I also don't appreciate the aggressive doorstep tactics that many charity workers seem to have adopted.

I think the answer is to reduce taxation and allow people to decide how they want to be philanthropists. Government should not be about charity and giving away our money to the problem de jour in order to win favourable headlines for the ruling party is not ethical behaviour.

I'd rather give to the Gates Foundation.

26/06/2006 09:56 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Constitution

"Benjamin Franklin was shown the new American constitution, and he said, 'I don't like it, but I will vote for it because we need something right now. But this constitution in time will fail, as all such efforts do. And it will fail because of the corruption of the people, in a general sense.' And that is what it has come to now, exactly as Franklin predicted."

From an interview with Gore Vidal.

24/06/2006 08:57 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Jugular

I was reading a thread on Robert Scobles blog about the possible demise of Wi-Fi in planes. It's not a topic I am overly bothered about, even on a 10hr flight I can live without Wi-Fi and, as most pointed out, nobody has the batteries for it anyway.

No, what pricked my interest was the hideous idea, suggested by one of the commenters, that it may soon be possible to make cell-phone calls during a flight. Frankly I'm within Michiel on this one when he says:

What I need is a ban on the imminent irritation of in-flight cellphone calls: because that is going to cost lives. Not from technical malfunctions; but because I am going to have to kill the yapping idiot who needs to tell all his friends ‘I’m calling from a plane. What? No, a plane. What are you having for dinner?’. Salesmen beware: I accept your incessant yapping on the cell because I can move away. In a closed space at high altitude I will be going straight for the jugular.

I think even a breadroll could be made into a lethal weapon when faced with such a possibility.

23/06/2006 21:20 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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0wned

Euan pointed at some interesting photos of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates together. Here's one:

My favourite comment on the photo was:

Gates: I really, really think Vista will be a true digital hub. Plug and play. What you said.

Jobs: Are you going to eat your apple cobbler?

23/06/2006 08:31 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Huzzah

Well my hayfever is making me feel wretched today. It was so bad I was sneezing continuously and felt like I was choking. I don't remember having such a bad hayfever day for years.

On the other hand (and curse them if this is a hoax) the net is alive with reports that my beloved Futurama is back!!

That's gotta be worth a huzzah!

Update: Chris comments that the article I linked to doesn't say anything about new episodes, so maybe CC are just getting the rights to repeats. It seems unlikely that you'd make a song and dance about that but it's a fair point.

However TheSun of all people are claiming:

At least 13 new episodes will be made for US station Comedy Central by 2008 after new deals were signed with voice-over artists including Billy West who plays lazybones Philip J Fry and John Di Maggio, the man behind robot Bender.

So I have hope once again!

22/06/2006 18:06 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Economics

Hands on teaching of economics by Arthur E. Foulkes:

Lesson 3: "Savings"

On the third week of my class the economic concept of the day was savings. In this day's activity we divided the class into two "villages" one made up of people who "live for the day" (believing with Keynes that, in the long run, we're all dead) and the other village made up of savers.

Every day the kids in both villages went fishing with their bare hands and caught two fish each. In the first village each person would eat both fish at a big party and feast. In the second village, each student just ate one fish and put the second in a small pond located in their village.

Soon an intelligent villager came up with the idea for a net to help catch fish. The trouble was the net would take a lot of time and effort to make. Since several days were required, only the kids in the savers' village had the resources available to abandon daily fishing to devote time to making a net.

Once they had a net, fewer "savers" were required to catch fish, freeing up other villagers to make bows and arrows, huts, and so on. The "quality of life" in the savers' village seemed to take off geometrically while life in the other village remained the same.

Interestingly, while at first many students had said they would prefer living in the "party" village, by the end of the class, most said they would prefer living in the savers village. We ended the class period talking about the role of savings in allowing people to do things aimed at improving their lives: pursuits that also require time, such as attending school or changing jobs.

There are 5 lessons in all: Trade, Money, Savings, Competition, and Price. I found them well worth reading.

22/06/2006 09:55 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Calling

Gary North on the importance of finding your calling and understanding why it's not the same thing as your job:

I define "calling" as follows: the most important thing that you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace. I define "occupation" as the way you put bread on the table. Sometimes these can be the same, but not very often. The most important thing is your calling. Your occupation should support your calling.

In my case, my calling is my academic work. The most important thing that I can do in which I would be most difficult to replace is related to my academic career. Yet I don’t earn my living by my academic career. I earn my living by selling information in the area of business and finance. I do my calling free of charge. My occupation supports my calling.

When people understand the distinction between occupation and calling, they are far less likely to make serious mistakes in the allocation of their time. They won’t confuse money with the most important thing that they can do in life. But not all people understand this. I hope you do.

The article is also interesting because of the context in which North was speaking and the historical perspective he brings to it:

All of the people in the class were Afro Americans. Because only one of them was a male, I decided from the beginning that my goal was to explain the difference between calling and occupation in terms that would be familiar to black women. I wanted to motivate most of the people who were in that room.

What I've realised lately is that what I was doing with this blog back in 2002/3 was my calling or the seeds of it. These days I think I understand my calling better and also understand that it may not be my occupation at all times.

But one can dream.

22/06/2006 09:21 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Links for 21/06/2006

21/06/2006 08:27 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Microfari

Via Chris Messina on the Micro-formats list I see that the excellent designer Jon Hicks has come up with a very stylish approach to surfacing Micro-format information in the Safari browser.

Here’s what I’m imagining in Safari (although I would equally welcome this in Camino and Omniweb). Microformats are detected and announced the same as RSS feeds – an icon appears in the location bar to warn you. (Incidentally, in these screenshots, I’m using Safari Standardized Feed Icon from Mac Specialist). I’ve picked on Chris Messina’s Blog here, as it had a post with plenty of hCalendar love:

(You'll need to go read Jon's article to see the neat design work he has done.)

Very late to the party I'm starting to get interested in Micro-formats and what they can do for us. Especially as, putting my PAOGA hat on, I think about the way in which individuals will exchange personal data.

I certainly have it in mind that we should be exploring the use of micro-formats to ensure that everything we do is equally usable by humans and machines alike. (Please, no need to bring up the RDF word here!)

21/06/2006 08:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Sickly

Malcolm Gladwell talks about a study conducted by a group of epidemiologists at University College London looking at the relative health of the US and UK. Here's what they came up with:

The first conclusion is that Americans are really, really sick compared to the British. In every socio-economic group, for instance, the prevalence of diabetes is roughly double in the United States than it is in the United Kingdom. Rates of hypertension, heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, lung disease and cancer are also all higher in the United States. And not just a little big higher. Much higher. So, for example, 2.3 percent of the English have had a stroke, versus 3.8 percent of the Americans.

There's a lot of juggling going on in how the studying was conducted and how the results should be interpreted, but:

The study’s author did a statistical exercise, where they assumed that the British group had exactly the same lifestyle risk factors as their American counterparts. The result? Nothing much changes. Americans were still far sicker than the British.

The conclusion they reach (and Gladwell supports) is that it comes down to this:

Krugman argues that this is evidence of how much more stressful living in America is than living in England.

I think it would be interesting to see work done to identify the significant stressors and then follow up with studies in other countries to see whether this is supported. Now I'm going to relax with a big glass of wine and a bowl of Ben & Jerry's.

20/06/2006 19:34 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Links for 20/06/2006

20/06/2006 13:30 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Links for 19/06/2006

19/06/2006 16:43 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Bike

Spurred my automotive difficulties I went to Halfords today and bought a bike so that I can cycle to work instead of making a lot of wasteful 2.5 mile car journeys. I haven't ridden a bike in... oh... 20 years maybe so I'm a little nervous about it.

The guy at Halfords was pretty helpful and ended up recommended a 20" Apollo XC.26s which he said would suit all-terrain use. I'd be surprised if I go off-road very much but the tyres look chunky enough to handle some of the glass that seems prevalent on the roads.

As a bike this is totally unlike anything I remember. It has 21 grip-shift gears (I think my last bike had 3), suspension forks, and even front disc brakes. I really hope it comes with a manual! For £15 I got their care package and I also bought a helmet which despite looking silly seems like an essential item. In due course I'll probably buy some reflective tags and gloves when the weather gets cold.

If nothing else it should be good exercise and I can stop feeling guilty about the pollution these short car journeys is causing!

19/06/2006 16:34 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Valdemarins

Despite my current car trouble (gearbox again damnit!) I managed to hook up with Paolo and Monica before they headed off on their US trip.

We caught up over some pretty good chinese food (at the London Hong Kong restaurant on the Bath road) and talked a little about BloggerCon and Gnomedex. Alas I cannot make it to these events but I do hope to make it to BlogTalk Reloaded in October. In fact Paolo and I have talked about driving there together as we have in the past.

19/06/2006 12:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Defects

Trying to squash a site like AppleDefects (found via Rui Carmo) can only do harm. I hope Apple don't try it.

17/06/2006 22:15 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Patriotism

As I was walking past St.Martin-In-the-Field yesterday I noticed for the first time the statue of Edith Cavell. I mean I've walked past it dozens, maybe hundreds, of times but I've never stopped to look at it before. I'm glad I did.

The inscription on the statue reads:

"I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

I was very moved by this expression. I've always been somewhat disturbed by patriotism because, when I see it expressed, it always seems to be a very blind, crude, thing only a few steps from xenophobia.

But this is something else. And it's impact is all the more poignant when I learned that she spoke these words on the eve of her execution by the German state in 1915 for her part in helping soldiers escape occupied Belgium to the Netherlands.

This is my kind of patriotism.

16/06/2006 21:51 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Turbulence

In the language of “chaos” theory, America – if not all of Western civilization – is in a state of turbulence of such intensity that efforts to restore order by recourse to traditional systems and policies will be to no avail. On the contrary, it is our insistence upon established practices that has led us to our plight; and only a fundamental, creative change in our thinking and behavior can extricate us from the destructive consequences of our prior assumptions. -- Via Butler Shafer

I started getting interested in complex systems by listening to David Snowden describe his work. The first time was almost 3 years ago to the day. I heard him again almost a year later and it reinforced his ideas and concepts.

Dave introduced me to the idea that some spaces are complex and in such spaces cause & effect is a retrospective coincidence so that the tools and techniques that used to yield results may cause unpredictable future effects. The challenge of complex spaces is that, when you're in them, they don't necessarily look any different to the knowable spaces we are comfortable with. (Dave also introduced me to the exploits of the incomparable Mulla Nasrudin for which I am very grateful).

From that point onwards I got very interested in sense-making and, given my background and my fascination for blogging, I became very interested in topics and topic maps as a tool for understanding and representing things of interest. In a sense my topic map defines my world, or at least the subset of my world I choose to make public. What has always tripped me up is how poor are the tools we have to work with. My own efforts in addressing this situation, small as they were, have stumbled and failed.

Originally my interest in these things was purely theoretical but over the last 3 years my interest in politics and the nature of the world around me has blossomed and my interests in complexity, systems, sense-making, and reasoning have seemed more practical. I have gone from being an unthinking socialist to a thinking... for want of a better word libertarian. I hesitate when I use the term because I still understand so little of the philosophical underpinnings that define it.

What I do know is that many people who hear me talk about politics and life these days appear to think I am, at best, misguided and, at worst, delusional. I'm treating that as a good sign. For people who believe they are in an ordered space where the old answers remain true then anyone who acts like they believe they are in a complex space may appear to be out-of-step or irrational. Of course I cannot utterly dismiss the possibility that I am misguided or delusional but I see no way to address that other than to keep asking questions.

Recently (although not so recently as I would like) I started studying psychology. I found it to be a fascinating subject both from the perspective of personal discovery but also as a source of tools for thinking about human problems. Social psychology has many interesting things to teach us. From a political perspective one need only consider GroupThink and then look around.

Lately I have been thinking about my future and what I would like to do, if finances and personal situation permit. I am a generalist and aspire to be a PolyMath. I believe that much of interest lies at the interstices of the sciences and arts. I have expressed an interest in doing research and am looking for the right opportunity.

In the meantime I continue to self-educate as best I can. Right now I am honing up my logical argument skills and beginning to read about the very interesting area of Systems Theory. Systems Theory seems to be the ultimate polymath science that seeks always to unify, it's exciting.

The goal of all this effort, like most of my goal, is not yet directed to any specific purpose (not even a political one) but to providing myself, and hopefully others, with better tools to master life. In Gregory Benfords fantastic novels about human future (e.g. Great Sky River) he describes how humans have an enhanced sensorium and access to the aspects of the wisdom of their dead.

I see the shearing forces that act on our society, like the evolution of technology outstripping the pace of social change, and the increasing uncertainty and turbulence we face and cannot but believe that we need new and better tools if we are to survive. Right now I believe that my lifes work is in researching, developing, and using such tools.

Phew... This post went somwhere other than I where I was expecting and, despite being something of a ramble, wanted to be written. I think that reflects my growing uncertainties about my present and my future: my own personal turbulence.

16/06/2006 10:37 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Sovietization

The Department of Homeland Security? KGB stands for Committee for State Security. Via Fred Reed

16/06/2006 09:09 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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CATCH

This morning I read a report on identity fraud and detection methods (and in particular the work of a San Diego based team called CATCH) by freelancer Martha Baer. It makes for depressing reading.

Martha's sources in law enforcement paint a picture of a crime escalating totally out of control. The reasons are many including the ease with which the crime is committed, the international nature of much of it, the weakness of the law, and the prevalance of repeat offenders.

In particular while the CATCH team that Martha follows sounds like it's making impressive inroads it is best compared to the guys who catch drug trafficking mules; they're a dime-a-dozen.

What's clear in my mind is that the locus of control in identity transactions is wrong today. It's currently spread across the many hundreds of databases in which my data resides and the financial institutions that seem to have no interest in protecting me. We need to move to a system where I, the individual, am in direct control over how my identity data is used.

This is exactly what PAOGA is spearheading. We'll be launching our new website and beta product in a few weeks. Small steps, but steps leading in the right direction for you and I.

13/06/2006 08:49 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Not

I'm currently reading Being Logical by D.Q.McInery. It's a book about being rational primarily in the form of constructing rational arguments.

I struck a problem on Page 53 where he talks about negative statements being tricky. He gives the example:

All dogs are not mongrels

and says:

We note the "all," a sign of universality, and the negative indicator "not," and we might be tempted too quickly to suppose that what we have here is a universal negative statement. In fact it is a particular negative statement.

Hrmm... I did jump to that conclusion. I follow his argument later where has says:

The key to the negative message of the statements can be expressed in the phrase "not all," which does not mean the same as "none"; it translates as "some." ... What the statement is saying, then, is:

Some dogs are not mongrels

Hrmmmm....

But the original statement was not "not all," but "all .. not" and I am puzzled then about how one can ever write a univeral negative statement. What is the universal negative form for this example? No dogs are mongrels expresses the idea but isn't a negative statement. The opposite seems to be to be the All ... not form which we are told isn't universal.

I'm confused.

13/06/2006 01:53 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Wakeup

If you live in the US you really need to wake up and smell the coffee right now:

Now, if you're a little confused as to why Congress would be so attracted to the idea of replacing effective state laws on identity theft with weak federal ones, then you just haven't been paying much attention to how your government works. It is of course the banks, databrokers, and other financial institutions whose indifferent security practices keep exposing our personal information that don't want to have to notify us when it happens. And it is of course the credit bureaus, credit card companies, etc. who don't want us to be able to freeze our credit files just because identity thieves might have our information. So we're talking about a lot of big companies with a lot of influence -- i.e., money -- that they can spread around our nation's capital. -- Ed Foster

All kinds of bad legislation gets passed by US law makers on a seemingly daily basis but this one looks set to cause misery on a new scale. And of course by making sure that nobody hears anything you can expect that misery to go on for a long time.

13/06/2006 01:35 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Mentor

Scott Stevenson is offering mentoring in Cocoa development at $85/hr (£46/hr man the dollar is tanking again).

I've learned a little Cocoa programming over the last few months but I still struggle with the subtleties of Objective-C, the Cocoa foundation and the toolset. However this may be a function of my starting with fairly unreasonable goals (like trying to write a plug-in to override some of Safari's native behaviour which means learning how to hook the input manager with SIMBL, categories, and method swizzling).

If I had the money and time I'd certainly consider this as a way of jump-starting my Cocoa development aspirations.

13/06/2006 01:29 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Heat

So it's 1:21am and I should be fast asleep right now, but it's hot and sleep seems far away so we blog.

And I'm not the only one that's a bit hot. From Tao of Mac more about the therm-o-rific MacBook which is now, apparently, getting discoloured because it can't discharge heat properly. Nice!

I'm hoping the MacPro will get released in August. I'll either be wealthy and buy one or looking to score a cheap G5 from eBay.

13/06/2006 01:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Painful

The proposal has three simple steps. Step One is the easiest – abolish the position of CNO in the military. Step Two is the replacement of the CNO with the 2 Senators and 1 Congressional Representative of the deceased. Step Three is watching the ensuing riot. Imagine watching "my" senators, Hilary Clinton and Charles Schumer, along with some representative from New York, delivering the fateful news to a New York state resident who, you can bet your bottom buck, did not donate to any of their campaigns as keeping their financial heads above water was their primary preoccupation. After regaining composure, the next-of-kin might respond with several questions for the messengers like, "As my elected representatives in the Senate and Congress, why, if you don’t support this war, don’t you do something about it?" or "Since you are always so busy talking out of both sides of your mouth in an effort to win your next election, explain to me how I, my children and my country benefit from my husband’s death?" Or how about, "Ms. Clinton, why is your child not fighting in Iraq if this cause is so important?"

Mark G. Brennan talking about his idea for a new system for notifying the relatives of serving forces personnel that their loved one won't be coming home.

It seems only fair to me that this burden be born not by some random military officer but by the people who are actually culpable for the decision to send these people to their deaths.

10/06/2006 10:32 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Googledown

Reading an interesting discussion about whether Google has a business model beyond search. If you look at the traffic picture the news doesn't look good for their diversification strategy. It seems that the more cynical commenters on Internet Outsiders post about Google Spreadsheet agree:

This is nothing more than part of Google's continuing effort to dupe the press and Wall Street into upholding their absurd valuation. They launch a bunch of acquirees (Writely) and poor betas (Talk, Video) while insiders unload as much stock as they possibly can.

Google still hate me so what do I care if their stock tanks in '07?

09/06/2006 23:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Naked

The business of politics laid bare.

09/06/2006 22:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Backfired

That's hardly surprising. How many times have we seen the US establishment back something to the hilt only to discover that the plot backfires by inspiring opposition? This is one of many problems of the US government. Its crackdowns usually end up working as advertisements (think of drugs, for example). All throughout Latin America, we've seen this happen with politics: US support is often the kiss of death. Especially in a country like Somalia, with so many factions, US backing is something to hide because it can only fire up the opposition. -- Via Lew Rockwell

This is a reference to the rise of Islamic militia in Somalia despite (and quite possibly because of) the CIA throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars of US tax payers money at secular warlords in aother bungled attempt to influence politics in that country.

Really the CIA seem quite hopeless at this stuff, you'd think with the all the practice they've had meddling in other countries they might show some skill at it by now.

Of course at this rate I don't think the $10bn that the Department for Homeland Security(sic) is currently wasting will be enough. I think more lobbyists are called for!

09/06/2006 17:44 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Batteries

"It's better for the environment, because it allows the user to not worry about replacing his battery," he says. "It can be discharged and charged hundreds of thousands of times, essentially lasting longer than the life of the equipment with which it is associated."

Nano-tube enhanced capacitor based super-batteries that charge in a second and never wear out?

Make it so!

09/06/2006 08:58 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Ludicrous

So according to one of the online ADSL guides my local BT exchange has been upgraded to Max DSL and should be able to cope with 1.5mbps instead of the 1mbps I get now (even if I already had 4mbps from TeleWest some time ago.. whoo). So I called my ISP Nildram (recommended) and asked about getting Max DSL speeds.

The guy I spoke to said that his system (I didn't ask what it was) didn't show my exchange as being upgraded but that he could put the regrading request through anyway. Before he did that I asked him whether there was any risk that the regrading might leave me with a lower speed.

In fact he said there was. His system showed that BT thinks my line is 512Kbps (even if it has been working perfectly at 1mbps for 3+ months) so it was quite possible that I would end up being downgraded to 512Kbps and stuck there. WTF?

He explained that this was the thrust of BT's Max DSL terms & conditions and, if they do this, there is no way to get back to my original speed of 1mbps. He mentioned that this had happened to another customer in a similar position. That customer had even tried switching ISP afterwards but it had done him no good, he was stuck at 512Kbps until BT said otherwise.

What kind of a shitty system is this when a customer can ask for an upgrade and stand a good chance of getting their service cut in half? Why are BT so utterly useless? And being this useless how is it that they still call the shots?

Ludicrous!

08/06/2006 10:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Pads

As the weather has gotten hotter recently I have been noticing the PowerBook's fans have been getting more active when I use it on the desk. I'm convinced that this is partly due to poor airflow underneath the computer, the base does get quite hot to the touch.

As a first step I've stuck four felt pads (the kind you stick to furniture to stop it scuffing the walls) to the desk to support the PowerBook and create a 5-6mm gap underneath it. I was concerned that the pads mightn't hold it in place but in practice it seems as good as the little rubber grippers on the desk surface.

So far it seems to be an improvement and the fans aren't running as hard or as loud.

06/06/2006 18:39 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Moo

Another distressing tale of MacBook noises from Pierre Igot (Via Tao of Mac).

It's not like I'm in the market for a new laptop (my PowerBook G4 runs just fine and in due course I'll probably try and pick up a G5 via eBay for my heavy lifting) but these noise issues would really be putting me off buying a MacBook or MacBook Pro if I were.

It's not just the many kinds of noise problems reported but also the way Apple seems to be responding to them. When you pay £1,000+ for a beautiful looking Apple laptop how can you enjoy it when the damn thing is mooing, grunting, chuffing, and feels like it's about to burst into flames?

Come on Apple, we expect to pay over the odds but you can do better than this!

06/06/2006 17:53 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Boycott

So I just read about the SIRA bill going through the US congress:

Simply put, SIRA fundamentally redefines copyright and fair use in the digital world. It would require all incidental copies of music to be licensed separately from the originating copy. Even copies of songs that are cached in your computer's memory or buffered over a network would need yet another license. Once again, Big Copyright is looking for a way to double-dip into your wallet, extracting payment for the same content at multiple levels.

Yet another reason not to use products from big media companies.

06/06/2006 09:19 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Commentless

I'm still interested in comments and alternatives to comments. Via Dave Winer, I read that Seth Godin doesn't have comments on his blog because he doesn't want to end up writing for his commenters. I'm still looking for the right alternative.

05/06/2006 14:38 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Blood

We know that the only reason that this dead baby has his arm frozen to his lifeless face is that three years ago this week, George W. Bush gave the order to begin the unprovoked, unjust and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. He hasn't fired a single shot or launched a single missile; he hasn't tortured or killed any prisoners; he hasn't kidnapped or beheaded civilians or planted bombs along roadsides, in mosques or marketplaces. Yet every single atrocity of the war – on both sides – and every single death caused by the war, and every act of religious repression perpetrated by the extremist sects empowered by the war, is the direct result of the decision made by George W. Bush three years ago. Nothing he says can change this fact; nothing he does, or causes to be done, for good or ill, can wash the blood of these children – and the tens of thousands of other innocent civilians killed in the war – from his hands.

Chris Floyd

In fact I do not believe life is so simple as to place the entire burden in the blood soaked palms of George Bush. Conspiracies aside he did not fly planes into buildings, nor was it him who invaded Iraq the first time, nor him who supplied weapons to Iran during it's conflict with Iraq, and we can trace the conflicts back through history. Surely there is enough blood enough to go around.

But instead one can look at where there was the opportunity to make a positive difference by taking the path of reason and enlightenment and that opportunity was ignored. Whether willfully or through ignorance.

What is depressing is either how slowly people awaken to the bad choices they have made, or the gulf that exists between yourself and those who would choose blood over enlightenment.

05/06/2006 11:51 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Cartridges

Second is the testimony of the villagers, and of two officials of the U.S.-backed Iraqi police, Major Ali Ahmed and Colonel Farouq Hussein. These are men who risk their lives by their cooperation with the Coalition. The villagers say soldiers entered the house and killed the occupants; the house was later hit by the helicopter then bombed, apparently to cover up the killings, some of the villagers surmised. The Iraqi police said "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head." Later, a Knight-Ridder reporter saw a preliminary report indicating that the 11 victims had multiple wounds. This tallies with Simpson's viewing, which showed that one of the dead children had been shot in the side. Everyone who saw or examined the bodies agreed that the victims had been shot, most likely by bullets from the large pile of American-issue cartridges found inside the house, which can also be seen on the video.

Chris Floyd

05/06/2006 10:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Dissenter

By the way, this is what the powerful – and their sycophants – always fail to understand: no genuine dissident is happy about dissenting. You dissent because you see injustice, crime, corruption and needless death being wrought by the power structures of your own society. You dissent because so many lies have been forced down your throat, and you just want to know the truth, as far as it can be known, you just want to speak the truth, whatever it may be. You dissent because of the reality that you see. And this is a painful thing; it's like watching a family member go bad, like learning your own father is a killer, that your mother is thief. No one wants to believe evil of their own country, their own society; but sometimes the very ideals that you were given by your society – a commitment to justice, to truth, the belief in the inherent worth and moral agency of every individual human being – compels you to confront the reality of the crimes and corruption of the leaders and institutions of that same society.

It isn't fun; there's no pleasure in it. Especially if, with Dostoevsky, you believe that "each is responsible for all," that you yourself are implicated in every failure of humanity. Bob Dylan captured the essence of this kind of dissent well when he sang of the great iconoclast, Lenny Bruce:

He fought a war on a battlefield

Where every victory hurts.

Chris Floyd

05/06/2006 09:57 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Bread

In the disturbances caused by scarcity of food, the mob goes in search of bread, and the means it employs is generally to wreck the bakeries. This may serve as a symbol of the attitude adopted, on a greater and more complicated scale, by the masses of today towards the civilization by which they are supported … Civilization is not "just here," it is not self-supporting. -- Ortega y Gasset

05/06/2006 09:34 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Snap into a Slim Jim. Oh Yeah!

Before I started writing this piece I had no idea what a Slim Jim was. I know now though, oh yeah!

I was reading Werner Vogels blog and discovered that Amazon have launched Industrial & Scientific and Grocery stores. My immediate thought was "Will these sites have customer reviews?"

The amazing answer is yes! Here's one of the three reviews of Kreg SML-C125 1-1/4" #2 Coarse Screw (1000-Pack)

These are great screws in their own right. I love them for pocket hole joinery but I also am using them to hang new windows. The self tapping is terrific, the pan head does not go through the plastic flashing, the the square drive holds the screw securely while I am one handed drilling them while hanging onto the ladder! I do not think they are weatherproof but after flashing and the trim, they will be protected enough. High quality screws, never have had one strip one me and the self tapping has NEVER caused the board to split even right near the edge.

The guy gave them 5-stars of course. And this was by no means the longest of the three reviews. And what about groceries? Picking at random we get Slim Jim Original, 15-Count Canisters (Pack of 12) and by golly there is a review here too:

One thing I remember most about my childhood is seeing "Macho Man" Randy Savage yelling from television set: "Snap into a Slim Jim. Oh Yeah!" Ever since then, everytime I see a Slim Jim I think of my childhood and "Macho Man". I used to eat these all the time when I was a kid. At first it may taste a little like plastic since the outer layer of skin on the sausage is pretty thick. But once you snap into the slim jim the flavor begins. I would describe the taste as a hint of pepperoni and salami mixed with beef jerky - a somewhat spicy, rather refreshing taste of beef stick. Unfortunately I can't eat these anymore as an adult since one Slim Jim has about 16 grams of fat and 150 calories. But, as a kid you don't care what you eat so grab one and "Snap into a Slim Jim! OH YEAH!"

Huggies Baby-Shaped Diapers with Gigglastic Waistband, Size 4 (22-37 Lbs), Disney, Pack of 126 Diapers had an amazing 32 reviews!

I may have written one review of a book on Amazon and I tend to be quite passionate about books. I can only imagine how passionate I would have to be to write a 5 paragraph review of a pack of screws or jerky bits.

It's an amazing world. Oh Yeah!

02/06/2006 15:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Good Apples, Bad Apples

Just been reading some of a series about compliants with the MacBook Pro over at the Red Sweater Blog (via Non Stop Mac).

One of the fans on my 12" PowerBook sounds like it has a bearing going which would be very bad news if it meant I needed to send it away. I rely on this machine as my work computer (pfft if I'm going to use a PC again) and can't afford to be without it for weeks on end.

Back when I bought the PowerBook I had it in mind that I might only use it for a year before buying whatever new machines Apple had. But I played with a white MacBook yesterday and I can't say I was enamoured, the feel is all wrong and I didn't like the glossy screen.

Having said that I've also found the PowerBook to be such a lovely machine that I'm really in no hurry to lose it. If possible I'll hang on to it well into 2007.

Now, what's the best way to get that fan fixed I wonder?

Update: Actually now I think about it I wonder why this fan is running continuously when the CPU temperature is about 48-50 degrees. Should it run all the time?

02/06/2006 08:08 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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