2011-07-24

The Execution Channel

In Macleod's book, the Execution Channel is a TV channel that shows judicial executions in real time. The idea is that the Chinese write most of the software in the world, including surveillance cameras for prisons. They include code that sends a copy of what's recorded back to a TV station that broadcasts it. Nobody knows for sure who's behind it (except of course the Chinese). To bring it back to my idée fixe, this highlights the security risk of proprietary, as opposed to Open Source, software.

All Macleod's books are enjoyable, but are too complicated for me to follow. I could probably understand them if I maintained a diagram of the characters, plot and time-scale, but that would be ridiculous. In a few years, when our minds have been uploaded to computers that are orders of magnitude superior to our brains, I'll re-read his books, just to see what it's like to totally understand everything.

There is a certain 'alternate history' dimension to the book. Historical events that occurred in our time-line happened differently in the book. This is a subtlety that not so much pulls the rug from under your feet, but is like walking on a rug that has been put on a very shiny floor. It's also a brilliant way for the writer to never get her facts wrong. For example, Macleod calls Burkhard Heim, Gerhard Heim. Is that a genuine mistake, or is it a subtle deviation from our history?

2011-07-18

Fuel Poverty

I've noticed the phrase 'fuel poverty' being used. I find this phrase infuriating because it implies that someone could be wealthy in every way apart from fuel, which is absurd (assuming we're talking about the UK in the present day). It also implies that someone could be in poverty in every way apart from fuel, which is equally absurd.

Don't misunderstand me, I agree that poverty is a problem, just don't call it 'fuel poverty'.

I'm not saying this just to be picky. Calling it 'fuel poverty' implies that fuel is too expensive and must somehow be made cheaper. Calling it poverty however, allows us other options, such as keeping fuel's high price but at the same time to stop taxing poor people.

Trusteer Rapport: Proprietary

Just sent this to my bank, Smile:
Hi,

When I signed in to Smile today, I was presented with a message encouraging me to download Trusteer's Rapport product. I read the licence agreement at:

http://www.trusteer.com/rapport-end-user-license-agreement

and I'm reluctant to install it because the licence doesn't give me the freedoms that I'd like:

0. To run the software for whatever purpose I want.
1. To be able to look at the source code to see what it's doing on my computer.
2. Allow me to make changes / improvements.
3. To share the code with other people.

Investigating further, I've found that Rapport isn't available for the operating system that I use (Ubuntu), so I wouldn't be able to install it anyway.

Regards,

Tony.

2011-07-10

Golf At Victoria Park


Kazim was over last weekend, so on Saturday we went to Bath and had lunch at Komedia, then went to the Victoria Park approach golf course. After that we had ice-cream at Pattisserie Valerie, and then Opa for some drinks and food afterwards.

The next day was Wimbledon, so we had an impromptu BBQ at my house. We had Pimms and strawberries and cream and everything!

Timing

Jamie was in Timing by Alistair McGowan at the Rondo theatre, so we went along to see it on Friday last week.

Jamie was the first person on stage, and he looked very different to normal. I know that's what actors are supposed to do, but when it's someone you know it's a bit weird. The play was built around a recording studio, with two rooms separated (in the audience's imagination) by glass. The audience could hear from both rooms, but the characters could only hear the other room when the intercom was on. Got that?

This set-up must have been very technically demanding on the actors, as the dialogue had to be synchronized with the characters in the other room. They pulled it off though, and the whole thing worked well. I don't usually laugh out loud very much, but I did that evening. Jamie's character, a street urchin addicted to his mobile phone, popped up throughout the play, and was a favourite with the audience.