Common sense analysis of this, that and the other

Archive for November 2008

Now this is cool…

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Having started my career at a somewhat superficial level testing hardware and attempting to write software to perform image processing tasks (have you ever written a flood fill in 6502 machine code?!), the computing power required to do things like that shown below is phenomenal – even by today’s standards. However, while we have all been spending time surfing the web (a task that does not really require too much effort for our devices!), as hard core gamers already know, our hardware has in fact got a lot lot faster over the last few years.

Interactive Video Object Manipulation from Dan Goldman on Vimeo

Fight back club: Write to Adobe and get them to build this technology into their apps – pronto!


Written by Oflife

November 30, 2008 at 11:52 am

Posted in Adobe, Technology

GM: Die or change

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What is happening to the dinosaurs of the automotive industry today is most likely a precursor to what will afflict big oil down the road if it also fails to invest in radical but inevitable alternatives to their bread and butter. (For a prior example of adapting to change, study Rank Hovis.) GM, like the oil companies today, could have invested their billions in viable alternatives to the internal combustion engine, more compact and lightweight vehicles, sustainable energy sources and innovative distribution methods – such as ‘Better Place’. Like the majority of the businesses collapsing during this ‘credit’ crunch, GM are in trouble because in lean times, flawed entities implode. Any ‘bail out’ should be focused on brave new companies who like the automotive firms that blossomed after the age of the horse and cart, possess the energy, passion and technology to develop practical vehicles of the future.

If tax payers money is to be thrown at the old school corporations, then the prerequisite should be that said companies buy, invest in or co-operate with automotive upstarts – such as Tesla Motors.

Fight back club: As ever, vote with your wallets. If you are going to buy a car, buy one from a company lead by people who care as much about the big round thing their vehicles traverse as they do their bottom line.

Written by Oflife

November 26, 2008 at 12:26 am

Too stunned to devise a heading for this post

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s, like most, I was informed at school and the news media that in the Soviet Union (and other nations based on similar authoritarian regimes) if one failed to comply with certain fairly draconian ‘laws’, the punishment was unjustifiably harsh – and you certainly could not leave the country!

So, here in freedom loving, iPod toting* England, HM Government are threatening the populace with ID cards. It is claimed (from what I understand) that these cards are not (initially?) going to be compulsory. But if you don’t carry one, you cannot leave the country. Think about this.

It should be noted that with regards to terrorism and crime, the majority of attrocities and crimes to date have been carried out by people who use the system, rather than bypass it. (Whether with genuine or forged identification makes little difference after the event.) IE, future crimes and more will be carried out by those holdng a legitimate ID card that by its nature will make the perpetrator appear even more credible. The railway bombings in Madrid were carried out in a country where the populace already carry ID cards. The 9/11 attackers bordered the aircraft using legitimate means.

Update: 26th November 2008, terrorists in India have shot and killed a number of people, rounding them up by nationality – Brits and Americans as I type this. Their job will be a even easier once we’re all tagged. Faking your accent and/or clothing won’t help. The ability to deceive, even to save your life or carry out other pertinent if slightly naughty actions will soon be impossible. What a lovely rigid inhuman world we’re creating. Looks so pretty, tastes so bitter.

Fight back club: Learn all you can about English ID cards, study history, consider the motives of those issuing them – and who has the most to gain. Then make your own informed decision.

*A tease on the fact that while we may live in a nation that is increasingly aesthetically pleasing (like pre WW2 Germany), what is going on behind the scenes is terrifying in its implication. (Of course, Germany today is also aesthetically pleasing, but politically a mirror image of the 1930s, so there is no comparison with where England is headed.)

As someone with over 15 years experience designing and building various incarnations of a database that allowed people (and now businesses) to (at their discretion!) create an online profile designed to assist with advertising and/or social networking, one has to ask, why not just make these ID cards as voluntary as any other product or convenience? The idea of a universal all-in-one ID to eliminate all those passwords, credit cards, discount cards, travel cards and more would be great! But as the citizen of a democracy, I would like to choose whether I posses one – and I would also like to choose how much information is ‘linked’ to it. That is my birthright – and yours. For now...

Written by Oflife

November 22, 2008 at 10:05 pm

It’s the 1950s all over again

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Back then, the automotive companies destroyed public transport in the US in order to get more people to sit in traffic jams burning through fuel. A win win strategy for b’oil and b’auto. Well, it’s happening again – this time though, further North and in an incredible piece of irony, we have the public transport companies trying to unseat an environmentally sensible use of the automobile. (Another reference.)

Fight back club: If you are in Canada, or elsewhere too I suppose, let your voice be heard and write a letter. No better way to gain the attention of those who have been bought than by flooding their mailboxes. Because physical mail cannot be spam filtered – yet. And of course, support your local ride sharing scheme – if it offers a more convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to public transport.

Written by Oflife

November 15, 2008 at 12:27 am

The BBC fiasco – the tip of the iceberg

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Recent events here in England (emphasis, England, not Great Britain) were not only inevitable, but expose the rot that has slowly permeated its way into the very foundations of our nation. We are failing when it comes to the grounding that children and young people receive in those irreplaceable formative years when they are influenced by those they trust and look up to. Such mentors of course include parents, teachers, business leaders, broadcast media and media ‘celebrities’. (Doesn’t that word make you cringe?)

The problem is there are no more quality mentors. Those who are supposed to fulfill that role have become crude, lazy, selfish twits who have no idea of their station. And that problem is as serious as war, famine and/or matters environmental. (Sidenote: The credit crunch is welcome and will clean things up and help us mend our ways, so should not really be looked upon as a crisis.)

As per a separate section of this blog (not sure if it’s been imported yet), on arrival back in the UK from the US in 2000, I was shocked (and upset) at what had happened to the country. The worst aspects of American culture had been imported, while the positive characteristics of that forward looking nation had been ignored. For example, investment in inner city sports facilities to give kids something to do other than drugs, crime and sitting indoors watching losers desire instant fame on TV.

What went wrong is simple. New Labor encouraged/leveraged women and young people into positions of power, from government to the media – when these people should have been elsewhere. A large proportion of the material shown on the BBC, Channel 4 and those secondary channels (ITV 2 etc) over the last ten years has been pointless in its vulgarity – and a waste of public and private money. It was/is broadcast because the producers somehow think that being shocking or offensive is creative. Not at all. If you are good at something, you can entertain and succeed by being clever, subtle, skilled and witty, as per the genuine comedians and entertainers of the 1970s and 80s. Not to discount a number of our great sportsmen and women of today who thankfully have maintained their dignity and self respect, Mr. Hamilton a good example. Beyond the obvious junk of reality TV (reality TV does not reflect reality, it influences it!), even formerly educational and enlightening programming such as Panorama, Horizon and others are now edited like a music video or movie, with distracting ‘sound tracks’, shaky camerawork and other examples of bling over substance. (If I may dwell on a positive for a moment, the BBC has and continues to produce excellent nature programs. And so it should, we pay for them.)

As discussed all over this blog and in my comments on external blogs and publications, for reasons outlined in the terrifying but pertinent Lord of The Flies by William Golding, the second those without experience, wisdom and mature ethical sensibilities are put in charge of the assylum, not only does all hell break lose, but everyone sinks so low at the same time it is difficult to sense anything is wrong! Only when one has travelled outside of the fishbowl does it become obvious what has got better or worse when returning.

Beyond the media, England is also a somewhat dishonest culture that likes to kid itself while telling the rest of the world what to do – very much part of the daily English persona*. This was reflected in a very interesting survey published in The Times a few weeks ago that you can research at your leisure via the Google. Let’s examine the difference between the US and the UK (I use the two countries because I have lived in both for a fair amount of time). Here in the UK, the government discusses how it is investing in alternative energy sources and other sustainable living ventures while at the same time monitoring our every move to protect us from terrorists. Actually, we have done little about the former and the latter is not the subject of this posting as I think you’ll have noticed it is covered rather well elsewhere within Vision Aforethought. Anyway, our trains are overcrowded, over priced (by 100% over superior continental rail networks) and the staff are rude and lack motivation. There is only one wind turbine visible on the whole of the M4 – near Reading as it happens). There are no rooftop gardens across our major cities. We have still not harnessed wave energy. Our debt inducing cruel council tax has been ‘invested’ in Iceland! – I thought councils didn’t have any money to ‘invest’? We’re still invading other countries for their oil (yes, it really is all about oil!) Yet, 3000 miles across the Atlantic, (as per the links at LIFEMACHINE.COM), a number of active solar energy and other ventures are well under way, the old style corporations (such as GM) are crumbling (about time too!) and the American public have chosen to walk the walk into the future.

They can do this because in the United States, unlike here, their real-world mentors are of a far higher quality.

There once was a slogan used by the US Marines, I believe it was “Be the best you can be.”

And that Dear Reader, is what this post is all about.

Fight back club: Feed young brains the good stuff, then good things will happen.

Update 1: (13th Nov 2008): The last part of this posting commenting on matters environmental does go a bit wobbly, and I’ll try to re-write it sometime (am a just a little bit busy!), but I think you get my point. Basically, we’re breeding a nation full of very dumb and thoughtless people – just watch the news to see how parents treat their children today. The English have always been dignified and thoughtful – but celeb culture has reversed all that was great about the country with tragic consequences. Things are going to get a lot worse before a new generation of enlightened parents bring this sorry state of affairs to an end.

Update 2: Read what Joan Collins has to say on contemporary British humor – and then re-read my post.

Written by Oflife

November 7, 2008 at 8:52 pm

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