VISION AFORETHOUGHT

Common sense analysis of this, that and the other

Archive for March 2009

The next hot issue to deal with…

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…should be the pharmacuticals industry. This article* followed by the comments below it highlight what we already know, but few have challenged to date.

Fight back club: Live as healthy a life as you can to avoid an illness or condition that makes you subservient to a drug and manufacturer. Diabetes is a good example. So ride that bike to work!

*© 2009 The Independent

Written by Oflife

March 31, 2009 at 8:36 am

Posted in Capitalism, Health

Google Street View

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Like many, I find a lot of what Google do very well thought out and am a big fan, however, they suffer from something that I am due to discuss in a forthcoming (public) talk on privacy, namely, a lack of comprehension of their station. The staff are too young to be able to foresee the consequences of their actions.

Did they not for a moment consider that taking photographs of private homes whose windows and curtains may just be open, not to mention every day private situations ‘in the street’, would lead to protest by the public? As an amateur photographer, I have learned how sensitive some people can be to being photographed, justifiably too. Their reasons are not the business of anyone else.

I have taken a few minutes to play with Street View, and to be frank, it is not only a massive infringement on the privacy of the individual, but in order to remain up to date (buildings are replaced, streets renamed, shop fronts altered) they will need to keep re-photographing streets. The service does of course have many positive applications, from ‘practising’ a journey before you set out, council planning and much more. All said, until each citizen has full control* over how they and their property are represented beyond the physical self, services like Street View should be disabled forthwith.

(Note: I have not included Surveillance State in the category list. That is reserved solely for government peekaboo ventures.)

*That day will come, but it has not come yet.

Fight back club: If this matter concerns you, protest to Google.

Dear Google,

Some of what you do is cool, but you screwed up on this one. Suggest you click Undo before it’s too late.

A.

Update: July 2009 – Google are fuzzing SOME of the faces on street view, but you can still look into windows. I confess, it is a damned useful service for pre-planning journeys etc.

Written by Oflife

March 26, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Privacy, Technology

Watershed

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For those who appreciate my feelings towards the celebrity and reality TV culture of this doomed nation (Great Britain), today’s news and the popularist reaction of our dear leader is a realision of some of the most visionary and unnervingly accurate dystopian science fiction. A tragic day for so many reasons.

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Fight back club: After mourning, rise. Don’t sink. Unplug. Choose and recommend your heroes and mentors extremely carefully – all for the sake of the next generation of easily influenced young who deserve an honorable dignified grounding before becoming responsible adults. Else…

Written by Oflife

March 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Journalism or filler?

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Sure many have noticed that more and more news publishers are being lazy by replacing lengthy well researched articles with syndicated blogs and/or public submissions, many of which are not validated for accuracy. Surely journalism is about researching and authenticating any claims made in a story? Here in the Daily Telegraph, a photo claims to show some UFOs over London that were invisible to the naked eye.

(For some reason, the Comments feature has been disabled for the article. Am sure it would draw a lot of flack for similar reasons to those I cover here. On that subject, who at the various newspapers chooses whether to enable Comments below a story and what governs their decision?)

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Here is what the reporter should have done:

a) Researched to see if anyone else had captured a similar image.
b) Contacted the authorities to check if any CCTV cameras had caught anything in the background.
c) Contacted airports to find out if anything had shown up on radar or been seen by pilots.
d) Asked if the person who submitted the image(s) had checked if there was a fault with their camera that could have superimposed the ‘UFOs’ on the photos.
e) The UFOs were really there, but using a cloaking device that only the camera’s image processing circuitry could reveal. (Interesting possibility! Hmmm…)

There is a solid difference between blogs (like this one), public submissions and press articles. The former two are either opinion or unverified witnesses, the latter is designed to be as close to the truth as is possible without the reader or viewer being on hand to authenticate what is claimed.

Why is this important? When the media cover far more serious matters (such as the Muddle East, the banking crisis, stem cell research or even genuine UFO sightings), it is vital that we get the truth, else lives may be lost, opinions may be innocently ‘twisted’ and concepts and beliefs unjustifiably tarnished.

Fight back club: Still thinking about this one. It’s all about differentiating opinion from fact from perceived fact from fluff. A tough one, unless you’re on the spot, in sound mind and ideally, in the company of witnesses who are also of sound mind.

As for my views on UFOs, when I get a mo that will be imported into the new ‘ON’ section of Vision Aforethought under the letter ‘U’. ūüėČ

Link © 2009 The Daily Telegraph.

Written by Oflife

March 21, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Posted in The media, UFOs

2030

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Why is it that researchers, scientists and the media do not perform due diligence before they publish materials that are old news? This in today’s Guardian confirms what The Club of Rome Report concluded – back in the 1960s.

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Jean-Michel Jarre, Royal Albert Hall, 30th March 2008
© Alex B 2008

Fight back club: Sustainable living, sustainable living, and sustainable living. May not save us (we will probably need to populate Mars long term), but a solar economy will make life a lot more bearable for more people because it’s clean and reliable. And the happier people are, the less likely they are to turn to crime, mass migration, war and/or terrorism. You will notice I don’t mention population control. In a well managed economy this occurs naturally – a good reason to encourage failing nations to give it a whirl. 21 years to conduct repairs people.

As a matter of interest, The Club of Rome Report was explained to my high school class and had a major effect on my choices and outlook on life. Isn’t it thought provoking to consider the impact that such events that occur in ones youth can have on your life path? Our class is so lucky to have had such an enlightened and brilliant English and Social Studies teacher who spent so much time discussing world affairs and other interesting subjects beyond the standard curicculum. Thank you, Sir!

Written by Oflife

March 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

Breaking with convention

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Normally, one blogs to express (and seek) opinion. However, following in the footsteps of another blogger who I follow regularly, on this occasion, I shall simply refer you to this story in The Times so that you may respond and react accordingly.

To get you started, here are a few reactions I prepared earlier:

  1. Growl quietly like Clint Eastwood’s character in his masterpiece Gran Torino and stop supporting the entity mentioned in the article by buying your pollutant from a lesser evil
  2. If you’re not into the cleaner world thing, jump up and down with glee and show your support by shelling out for your pollutant with them
  3. Did Bosch make buggy whips? When paradigms shift, so do industries and brands. Start your own company and offer an alternative.

Fight back club: (Y)our planet, your call.

oil_bird_2002

What are you waiting for?

Written by Oflife

March 18, 2009 at 2:58 am

A mobile phone industry secret

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I was reminded of the following issue while reading a review of a phone, and think it’s time to spill the beans.

This may be obvious, but if you have ever wondered why the perfect mobile phone does not exist, there is a reason, and it has little to do with the build cost, after all, they could simply price a more versatile phone higher. As an example of this issue, the new Nokia 5800, a very versatile device – and Nokia’s first touch screen phone, does almost everything fairly well – except take good photos in low light. (The most common use of a camera by young people and the target demographic of said phone is in bars that are by their nature low in light! Silly.)

A few years ago, each of the major phone manufacturers (in conjunction with the far more nefarious network providers) made a pact that there would never be the perfect phone. Each would be knobbled such that we frustrated consumers would constantly upgrade to keep the industry alive. Again, this is obvious, however I am posting this so you, dear gadget lover, don’t waste your time looking for that one phone that does it all perfectly. Until a revolutionary comes along to tip the cart, such a device will never appear.

Fight back club: a) Choose the dark side and feed the carTel* even more by acquiring multiple phones to ensure all your needs are met, even if your pocket suffers physically and fiscally. b) Moan about this issue to the bubbly quiff haired reps in your local phone shop. “What do you mean it doesn’t have a xenon flash!?” c) Be patient, someone will eventually break the mould…

*Sorry!

Written by Oflife

March 16, 2009 at 1:08 am

Posted in Technology

Tech review: Most original software ever?

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Going to take a quick break from armageddon, dystopia and fiscal wobblies, to praise something. It’s an application for the iPhone / iPod Touch called Zen Bound, and it is rather special. Zen Bound is not only one of the most original ‘games’ ever developed, but almost perfect in execution. The concept is brilliant, the 3D graphics are so real they don’t actually look like graphics at all – and most importantly, Zen Bound is a delight to ‘play’ whenever you have a spare mo or two. Well worth ¬£2.99 when you consider that until the Apple app store you would normally pay over ¬£35 for a console video game, and that would often be a yearly upgrade to an ongoing franchise, such as NXL 2009 etc. So, give Zen Bound a whirl, it’s irretwistible!
(Note: YouTube is a great way to preview games now, so you know exactly what you’re getting before you spend.)

zen_bound

Zen Bound – strings attached

Fight back club: Encourage innovation like this by buying such touchy twirly apps. You may even help re-start the economy. Every little helps!

Written by Oflife

March 14, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Posted in Apple, Fun, Review, Technology

A minor point of note

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For those who are just slightly worried about our gradual slide Towards Dystopia, you may find this terrifying, in particular if you are an enlightened historian and therefore aware of what happened when laws like this were introduced elsewhere, not too long ago.

Fight back club: Well, to be honest, I haven’t a clue what to suggest beyond writing a very testy letter to your MP or leaving the country as soon as possible for any remaining outposts of true freedom. As for other ideas, over to you.

Link © 2009, The Daily Telegraph

Written by Oflife

March 14, 2009 at 10:11 am

Grrr…!

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The blog was conceived to be an outlet for opinion, suggestion or even some entertainment, but in general it’s a way to blow off steam.

george_peppard

This (© The Guardian) is an excellent example of the type of situation that triggers one to vent. We have here an organisation (The Heartland Institute Рnote their founders and sponsors) that typecasts those who desire an alternative to a carbon based economy. It claims we are a threat to freedom and market growth. Untrue. No matter your opinion on the causes of climate change, a few points:

1. Carbon based economies* pollute. Just wipe your finger across your window sill a week after cleaning it. Those living in or near a city will know what I mean. And to think people (and animals) of all ages are breathing that same stuff in, 24/7. Worse, travel to Africa or parts of India and other poor countries without a grid based power system and be shocked at how millions of people cook using open fires inside small tents or homes, leading to all manner of respiratory illnesses and local atmospheric pollution. Ironic, these countries are often hot and so solar powered zero carbon stoves will offer a long term solution.

2. The majority of those of us involved in the environmental movement are in fact motivated for reasons of compassion and vision. We see problems and would like to fix them. If specific companies or individuals profit from this, great! That’s precisely the sort of market driven process that will create new jobs, motivate our youth and clear the air. Examples include the increasing number of companies (already mentioned elsewhere in this blog) who are working to increase the efficiency of solar cells or developing workable sustainable energy distribution systems.

3. Any dubious behavior by those exploiting environmental issues should not be used as an excuse to criticise people with genuine concerns who base such concerns on valid scientific evidence or common sense observation. And even if they are wrong about some threats, few of the incentives being taken do any harm and are a wise investment. This is little different to the moon missions of the 1960s that lead to major technological advances, new industries and job creation – even if the reasons for the missions was controversial.

*All economies are currently based on carbon. Some (Australia, Dubai, Israel and one or two others) are working to wean themselves away completely.

As hinted at in my ‘We’re not in a recession’ post of a few weeks ago, there are two types of human: Those stuck (financially and by tradition) in the past, who possess an ingrained inability to ‘see farther’ and those who sense that something’s definitely wrong and it needs dealing with or improving. It is critical not to let the former disuade the latter.

Fight back club: Ignore the terrified traditionalists and continue to lead an environmentally responsible lifestyle by investing in companies that are doing their part. Here is another incentive (1). And here is a great introduction to a product that will help get the ball rolling (2).

(1) © 2009 The Guardian. (2) © 2009 The Daily Telegraph.

Written by Oflife

March 9, 2009 at 3:33 am

Apple, what were you thinking? (Ahead!)

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The technical upgrades and pricing of the new Macs (Mac Pros not included) may keep things ticking over, but they lack innovation and are not prudent during a downturn. The one chance to introduce an affordable cloud computing friendly OS X client in the form of a new slim and snappy next generation Mac Mini has been missed. £650 for the new top spec Mini in recession hit Britain, with the previous top spec model at £499? The market screams for a sub £400 machine. Defending the all-in-one iMac is putting off switchers who may already own a keyboard and monitor.

The argument that Apple target a more wealthy demographic doesn’t work. They have brilliantly secured the market for music players by releasing iPods at all price points, from the Shuffle to the amazing iPod Touch.

Now, related to my prior posting suggesting Apple literally drop desktop OS X and leapfrog Windows 7 by mass producing large screen iPod Touch like tablets (with optional attachable keyboards) as the intuitive ‘computing’ platform of the future ties in with a well founded rumor I heard that Apple are slowly weaning people away from keyboards altogether. The new compact keyboard supplied with the new iMacs is missing a numeric keypad and large arrow keys, making navigation a lot more of a pain when zipping around web pages and the desktop. So, it is likely that the latest hardware from Apple (Mac Pro’s excepted) could be their very last non touch screen Macintosh product line. And beyond $/Euro issues, the reason they have launched ‘spensive Mac Minis is to deter the masses from rushing out and buying because if Apple do launch a line of Macs where the CPU is embedded into a large touch screen display, Mac Mini users will be left out. (This assumes Apple do not launch stand alone touch screen displays that would probably be too expensive to produce without the CPU embedded.) The latest Mac Minis are therefore targeted at modders and people who do not do much ‘screen’ work, such as those running servers.

So, for 2010 will we see ultra sexy intuitive dockable multitouch tablets with wireless power charging like the innovative new Palm Pre? Now that would not only be nice, but it would be the inevitable touchy-feely future!

White Mac club: On a budget today? If you’re not a power user, consider the new 2009 MacBook White with¬†NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics. It’s the best value Mac out there currently, featuring all the ports you need (Firewire 400 included), enough memory and Apple’s nice iLife software. Connect it to an external display for an expanded desktop.

Written by Oflife

March 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

Posted in Apple, Technology

The navies of the world need to come clean

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About this. Some beachings are natural, however there is increasing evidence that certain military sonar systems upset the navigational abilities of wales and dolphins.

beached_wales

Fight back club: If you’re an engineer, invent a new navigation / aquatic sensor technology that does not interfere with nature.

Link & pic © 2009, The Times.

Written by Oflife

March 3, 2009 at 2:19 am

Posted in Ecology, Environment

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