Common sense analysis of this, that and the other

Archive for September 2009

Kicking the (plastic) bottle

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If they have done it, why can’t we? Special interests in the bottled water industry perhaps?

Fight back club: Easy! Don’t buy bottled water, take a sports bottle and refill it as you travel. Support Project Kairsei that aims to do something about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.


Written by Oflife

September 28, 2009 at 9:10 am

Light Peak from ? > Apple > Intel

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In 1991 as part of my employers UDiS Media (Universal Digital Information Storage Media) proposal, we briefly discussed the idea for a standardised ultra high speed optical interconnect to replace all other I/O systems. Known as UNIFII, it would replace the plethora of physical connection standards that back then that were just as much of a mess as they are today.

Tags: Applelink, DVI, Ethernet, Firewire, HDMI, USB, PS/2, RS232, MIDI, power? etc.

Although conceived in 1988, in 1991, copies of the UDiS Media proposal were sent to several leading technology companies, including Apple – cover letter dated 5th July 1991. We received replies from some of the recipients but lack of time and might on our part meant we did not follow it up. However, as this exclusive from Engadget reveals, we may have been onto something.


The UNIFII diagram from the UDiS Media proposal*
(Original higher resolution images currently unavailable)

UDiS Media and UNIFII were not really inventions that could have patented, they were idealistic concepts designed to encourage and motivate the industry for the sake of the ever suffering consumer. Therefore, after completing some work deadlines, and without the need to worry about any IP issues, I plan to publish the full UDiS Media document on my employers website.

The encouraging news is that Intel have the proven technical and industry might to develop something like Light Peak – and Apple the brevity to introduce it first. Let the paradigm shift begin – again!

*Tecnation was the prior name of my employer.

Written by Oflife

September 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Great article on destruction of the middle classes

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Other than technology and the surveillance, uhm, planet – the other core topic of this blog is the (dangerous) attempt by the current government to destroy* one of the most valuable, ideal and stable social ‘arrangements’ to have evolved since the assent of (hu)man – namely, the British middle class way of life. Something I had not really thought about until having my eyes opened of late through an increasing interest in the dumbing down of this nation. I have always taken this lifestyle for granted, assuming it was sought and accepted without any controversy. Through observation and thought, I believe the middle class lifestyle appears as utopian as any: Spacious well architected homes (help reduce family tension – animals need space), a healthy (mainly) fresh and natural diet (reduced body maintenance costs), balanced family size, an income that is neither too limiting nor too pretentious, mutually respectable and symbiotic relationship with the working class, generally positive and pragmatic outlook on life, financially self sustaining (less drain on the state), relatively sound common sense ethics and family values (reducing the likelyhood of children turning to serious crime or becoming dysfunctional), polite by nature (except when blindingly sloshed on a fabulous Cabernet Shiraz), less stressed due to the generally holistic nature of the lifestyle (even if the subject is unaware of such concepts), and most importantly – they keep Volvo in business. (Insert wink emoticon here – Ed.)

The problem is, a number of envious and (unjustifiably) bitter individuals have worked their way into government and are afflicting their ‘revenge’ purely because they have a chip on their shoulder. The direct opposite to the US where one is encouraged to aspire to and respect success. An attitude that is very good for the economy by the way. And without a strong economy, people suffer, scapegoats are unjustifiably targeted (Spain today) – and major wars start.

Enough space to be

Fight back club: Support politicians who promise to reverse the status quo – something that will alas be a lot harder to do in practise. That said, if the government do sense increasing support for such important values, they may change tack – that’s democracy.

*This comment by Artificer from below the above referenced Daily Telegraph article sums it all up…

“In order to bring about a totalitarian Soviet style Europe-wide super state it is necessary to destroy civil society.

Much of civil society is the lower middle class and the respectable working class, who are in essence very similar, in striving to provide for their families a decent life.

That is why this treatment is being meted out.

Its planned, its calculated, its deliberate and its nasty.”

© 2009, The Daily Telegraph

Written by Oflife

September 25, 2009 at 12:06 am

Elite 25th Anniversary

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Congrats David & team, looking forward to the sequel! With solid vertices, but please don’t dumb it down for the Guitar Hero generation. Halo is visually stunning, but lacks smarts and a relaxed strategy format.
(I still have my Elite badge somewhere!) 🙂

Written by Oflife

September 21, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Fun

Tagged with , , ,

Beware the cuddle police

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Whilst in Northern California, the ridiculous politically correct and ‘protectorate’ laws that existed in some cities were so embarrassing, I began to write a short satire on the whole subject – and then left. Never in a million years did I believe that some of the idiotic laws over there would migrate and begin to strip the UK of common sense and the natural order of things.

The second I learned of the e-coli outbreak at some British petting farms, it was obvious yet another dystopian law or two would be recommended or introduced. Yet, it is this precise over clinical behaviour that has lead to people becoming so sensitive to just about anything, as understandably livid rugged humans have begun to comment here on The Times website.

For the last few decades (originating in the USA) fear inducing advertising has thrust cleaning materials of dubious consistency into the hands of housewives*, no matter the long term effects on themselves or the environment. Carcinogenic effects aside, our homes are so squeaky clean that our immune systems must be bored stiff! And now, thanks to this mass hysteria, terrified citizens will no doubt become fearful of their pets.

Do those in positions of power ever think any more? How many young children live on farms with NO ill effects!?

Fight back club: Cuddle your fluff ball and build up the resistance the natural way. And don’t let the men from the ministry stop you.

*OK, housepersons

UPDATE: Oh no, no no no! It’s already started! Visitors are going to sue the farm(s)! So they visit for many years, and then betray the very place that has provided them or their children so much pleasure over the years. That is just the sort of self serving relationship one would expect out of insular California, but not here in (formerly?) common sense driven England.  The thing is, the problem isn’t anything to do with the farms, it is the lack of exposure to every day ‘germs’ due to the way children today spend so much time indoors! So, now what will happen is the farms will go bankrupt and we’ll move even closer Towards Dystopia, with a greater rift between humanity, common sense and nature. Cameron, I hope if you win at the next election you undo all this for profit silliness before it’s too late!

Written by Oflife

September 19, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Brits to pay £64 to prove they are not criminals

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I was going to write a long piece about how easy it is to become complacent in the face of true evil (in this case, our fascist bankrupt government), fortunately, the comments below The Times article make it clear how people feel about this further erosion of the trust, common sense and freedom that once comprised our nation. So I need not bother.

Exhibit A: The Times
Exhibit B: BBC News
Exhibit C: The Daily Telegraph
Exhibit D: The GuardianComments (The one by ‘LittleTyke’ is one of many that sum up the situation we are in.)

What is genuinely worrying about this, other than the climate of fear and mistrust it generates in society, is how the government is exploiting tragic but fairly rare crimes against children to turn half the nation against millions of innocent people. If the government want to crack down on crime then they need to implement the same proven tough approach as New York City did to turn that great city around over the last few decades. And that means harsh punishment for criminals after they are proven guilty. The liberal nonsense has never worked and never will.

As per the other issues covered in the Towards Dystopia and Dumb and Dumbstruck sections of this blog, these dubious laws are being introduced to entrap innocent people into parting with their money while at the same time imposing almost communist regime like control over the populace. Governments only do this when they are in fear of their own citizens and/or their leadership has serious self esteem issues. Do study the leaders of North Korea and other former and current despotic nations and notice how they mix populist behaviour with rigid control.


I took this photo at ground zero in June 2002. The messages on the flag are from the public, friends and relatives of the victims of the attacks that took place eight years ago today.
It represents trust, honour and freedom – something worth remembering this side of the Atlantic once in a while.

Fight back club: What do you think?!

Written by Oflife

September 11, 2009 at 8:41 am

THIS is what makes Apple so special

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Watch the TV ad for the new (and quite tasty) iPod Nano 5G (video) and it is hard to deny the spot makes you want to go out and get one – now! – even if you had alternative purchasing plans. And this is what is so alluring about the company. Since they were founded and placed those ultra descriptive double page spreads for the original Macintosh in Omni and other quality glossy magazines, for Apple, it hasn’t really been just about the product, it has been the message…


…join the iParty! Or be a stay at home pooper

iFight back club: Resist the temptation. Oh, go on then!

The launch of the extra-ordinarily small original (1G) iPod Nano vindicated my belief that Apple were and are 3 to 5 years ahead of their competitors and have leapfrogged Sony in an area they used to lead the world, electronics miniaturization. So, it would be really special if Apple produced an iPhone Nano in a similar if not identical form factor to this latest iPod Nano. Of course, the lack of a keypad would make manual dialing and texting difficult (an Onion MacBook Wheel inspired scroll wheel based character entry system may suffice! No, not really!), but most people would place calls from their iTunes synced address book, a feature built into all display equipped iPods since day one. The technical reasons why this has yet to happen probably relate to battery life, energy dissipation (iHeat!) and/or reception issues associated with an all metal case. But something tells me these problems will be overcome and an iPhone Nano may just happen!

Small talk? 😉

Ad image © 2009 Apple, Inc.

Written by Oflife

September 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Apple, Technology

Tagged with , , , , ,

Health care

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What is annoying is that design and engineering is my occupation, yet I am forced to write about subjects beyond my remit, aghast at the sillyness around us. Perhaps it is the logical somewhat rational eye of us engineer types that makes us look at the world and go, “Huh? Why don’t they just do that! It’s so obvious!” But sadly, out in the real world (for now), the middleman is in control. Since Ogg first chose to re-sell his wheat sheaf/spear/carcass to someone in the next huddle/cave/village, there has always been a motive to keep the market for product X credible/growing/alive, even if no longer necessary.

When it comes to oil, you don’t really need that pharmaceuticals and trash TV, the middleman really does afflict significant control over humanity.

Over in the US, Mr. President is working to bring universal health care to the masses. As has been proven here, the fact anyone can walk into a hospital and be repaired does conceptually appear fair and socially responsible. On an economic note, a well worker is a productive worker – laying in bed doesn’t do much good. However, social medicine reduces the incentive to live a healthy lifestyle. After all, if you are forced to pay for an op caused by a bad habit, surely that is an incentive to live a more healthy lifestyle? This was particular noticeable during my time in California, where they are paranoid about health and devoid of the petty ills that afflict the pasty faced Brit. All said, in the US, class does make it harder to live a healthy lifestyle due to the nature of the roads and lack of public pathways between cities and community resources. It is dangerous and unpleasant to bike to work/shop/school, so the wealthy keep fit by visiting the gym and partaking in all manner of fun sports, while the poor remain trapped and can only get about safely by bus or car. 1960s built UK cities are just as bad.

Anyway, whether you are for private healthcare or social, big pharma will still pull the strings. For if you go private, all manner of you don’t really need that* drugs will be pushed your way and Dr. Poppillski who appears on his personal website in a white coat wearing his trademark “Yes, I’m a real doctor!” stethoscope will be happy to accept a nice commission from his supplier. (Sadly, a certain Mr. Jackson may well have contributed to such a cause – to the benefit of all but he.) On the other hand, with social medicine, the billions of tax payer dollars will be available to thrust yet more you don’t really need that drugs onto the unwashed masses. And who knows what all that stuff does once it goes down the toilet and then makes it way back into our water supply over the years. But who cares, the duplicitous lobbyists can use their donations to move up to the hills and live off bottled water. Nothing changes does it? 😉

*Acid reflux medicine? Really! Just drink a few glasses of warm water and cut down on all those simple carb laden pizzas and fizzy drinks!

Fight back club: Live as healthy as possible (see Lifetips section) and spend as little as possible on those you don’t really need that drugs, because unless you break a leg, your bod will self repair in it’s own time. That’s biotech for you!

Written by Oflife

September 10, 2009 at 11:02 am

Ads that know

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In the early 1990s I made some notes on a concept I referred to as MAD, or Multimedia ADvertising. Back then, there was no (public) web and we were still consuming our content via broadcast television, radio and physical media. But once the concept of the connected world began to enter the fray, I thought about how advertising could be tailored to suit the consumer of digital media, considering we would be able to analyse their profile. Of course, today, this is nothing new, but coming soon will be (‘offline’) live profiling. This will target outdoor advertising to the very individual(s) consuming the content at that specific moment in time based on all manner of factors including age, sex, who you are with – and no doubt, one day, via a connected billboard, your social networking profile and biometric sensors.

However, and this is a big however, since even the 1980s, it occurred to me that ‘filtered’ advertising may have the very opposite effect of what the free market was originally designed to encourage – free thought!

Discovering a new product or product concept by viewing a static advertisement (whether in print or online) may introduce that product to you – just as seeing a friend or relative with a new item (car, TV, book, compact disc etc) may also be a revelation. For example, I purchased my first car (an Audi Coupe GT) because a friend of the family turned up at our house in one and I thought it looked great. In addition, in my travels, while you dear reader may have observed otherwise, I have noticed NO improvement in the quality of life between nations that are saturated with advertising and those that were or are more conservative. Cairo and middle America are covered in ads, yet each is just a tad third worldish, while some Scandinavian countries that frown upon tacky advertising and commercialism offer lifestyles that are envied!


Pulled, not pushed (1988)

No matter, it is of course proven that advertising delivers two major benefits, (not including the huge amount of fun it is to work in the creative side of the business!):
a) To strengthen the brand in the eyes of potential or actual customers.
b) It boosts the morale of staff at the company being advertised. For example, in the 1980s before the British power companies were privatised, and despite lacking competition, the CEGB would show advertisements on TV. Apparently, this was to maintain staff morale.

To conclude and get back to my original train of thought, will these high tech advertising systems reverse discovery based capitalism and supplant it with new demographic groups who are ‘programmed’ to purchase or signup to specific products or services – not so much because they are brainwashed or instructed to, but because they are unaware that alternative outlets for parting with their money exist at all?

Imagine a magazine or city street that only featured advertisements for mobile phones, perfume and clothing – but no ads for cars or designer furniture. How would people aspire to something they may not be able to afford or legally own at that time, but may be able to acquire in the future?

Just a thought. And remember, not a new one. I’ve been thinking about this since the 1980s when we travelled to France – a supposedly socialist country, and being amazed at its modernity and how the cars and public transport were even better and more futuristic than those in the UK or America. Advertising really is all about ego! All said, an intelligent service such as that proposed by Samsung could become socially valuable too. If it detects you are looking unwell, Dr. Know could call the ambulance or point you to the nearest pharmacy, offering a drug promotion code that pays a commission to the owner of the smart billboard. Now there’s a corporate dystopian idea – powered by Big Pharma!

Fight back club: Look around.

Update: Looks like the American public concur

Written by Oflife

September 7, 2009 at 10:37 am

Patents, time for change

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On the same day, two separate comments that should be considered and adopted. The first from a lawyer at Microsoft proposes that patents become global. The other, from a British inventor, wants the law changed so that the theft of IP (intellectual property) be treated the same as the theft of a material item or copyright material.

Both these suggestions make sense, are fair and should be supported.  The current system puts up too many barriers to all but the cash rich corporate giant. Today, filing patents in several countries would cost a fortune and be subject to the differences in the laws of each nation – and be threatened by restrictions imposed if you want to file in one country and protect your invention in another. To replace this with a single all-in-one patent would make things easier for all parties.

Son, we’re flying on invention!

Fight back club: Governments? Do the right thing and help provide us innovators the incentive to turn more of our ideas into reality and subsequently employ people to build, sell and support them. Thank you!

Written by Oflife

September 2, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

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