Thursday, 30 July 2009

Twitter Home Redesign!

And it's so naff!  Well actually, I can't see a difference between what i've been used to seeing for months now, same everything, same lame timepstamping with "xx minutes ago' instead of a nice fixed time like "22:30WAST" which would make so much more sense.  Oh wait - the disintegrating page, where some elements drop out and the rest of the page loads as blocks of text and bits of images placed wherever they decide they want to be, that's new! Isn't it?  Oh no, you're right, it's just the same formatting and CSS crap that Twitter had a year or so ago...

Yeah, move along, nothing to see here

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Monday, 27 July 2009

Wherein Certain Theories Of Mine Prove To Be Workable...

Feeling quite vindicated, a long-held hypothesis of mine looks like it has been supported by some research that has been done..  Wish the person I'd initially sent this idea to for evaluation had not decided to busy out.  Oh well...

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Thursday, 23 July 2009

Because We Care WHO Invades Your Privacy!

Is it ironic that a place that has more invasive security cameras per capita than any other place yet allows its citizens less freedom to take pictures should get so wound up over this?

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Why We Need Citizen Vigilance

Cos not all police are there to uphold the law...

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Speared BC

It probably figures that this happened in Iraq - seems to have been a place of violence for a while...  I find it interesting that they state "given who had those and who didn't" speaking of weapons, which implies that neanderthals had very little weaponry while modern humans did.  We haven't really backed off that habit, either, and you have to wonder if the best species actually won... %)

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Tuesday, 21 July 2009 VCard

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Robots Aren't Going To Harvest Our Flesh

Really.  Cos a government department, and a contractor hired by a government department, say so.  Honest.

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Sunday, 19 July 2009

Retail Recall

So apparently a scientist(?) has done a spot of research to assign a monetary value to memories.  The article is here, and there's a spreadsheet here that can calculate the value of a memory in UK pounds.

According to the spreadsheet, the average value of one of my memories is about 7400 pound, about $15,000AUD.  That's a lot of money and of course there's no way to turn the memory into actual cash, it seems a bit optimistic to believe that someone will shove money at you for remembering stuff.  No, this seems like the kind of research that belongs in "Total Recall" or a similar sci-fi flick.  Someone harvests the memories from you, applies the formula, and out comes the amount they need to pay you for that particular memory.

Being the cynic I am, I can see two snags with that, of course: scenario one, you wake up and think to yourself "wtf is all this money from?" or scenario two is you wake up...

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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Fun For An Advanced One

And, a bit tongue in cheek, here's the definitive style guide for homo virtualis the next step in human evolution..

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First Bunnies Litter

The latest news from the cottage, more affectionately known as Possum Hollow - Peta Bunny and Eddie Rabbit have managed to produce what looks like around six very cute pink and wriggly little kittens.

I've resisted the urge to picke them up and check them out and count them, there's about six, and at least one will be black and white like Peta.

Interestingly enough, Peta picked the day after Bunday to deliver these little ones.  Maybe our pets hate 'Caturday" and "Bunday..."

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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Wild West Intarnets!

Around three decades ago, a new world opened up. It was the wild west, but no-one realised it.  Starting with computers and on to computer based communications systems (CBCSs) like bulletin boards, a whole ecosystem was born, modified by the inhabitants, and still evolves to this day.  Look, this gets all complicated and meta, so either bear with me or click another link for a few minutes, okay?

Nothing evolves by itself, it evolves with its environment.  And the environment is affected and changed by the organism.  Which causes further evolution of the organism.  In the case of humans, it has been said that our information and communication forms part of our evolution.  (Please note that there is also tacit acknowledgement of that organism/environment interaction evident, they even title it " . . . the planet has entered a new phase of evolution . . . ") I'll add "technology" to those evolution indicators.

Remember that all our technology is obtained from our environment.  The ideas may have come from our brains, but the material to make those ideas concrete was obtained from the environment.  So far, this follows pretty closely to my scenario - we evolve, get ideas, turn parts of our environment into the manifestation of our ideas, and those manifestations (and the lacunae created in the "natural" environment) become part of our new environment.  We evolve to be more fit to survive in the new environment.

So, the CBCSs and now the Internet have become a new part of our environment.  And we've already evolved tools to deal with this new environment, made changes to it, and to ourselves.  We've also brought with us a large dollop of the opportunism which got us to this point in the first place, the people who swindle and con and cheat and steal are now firmly ensconced in cyberspace and making their livings as they have always done, by taking it from the rest of us.

Now we come to the really tricky bit.  (And you thought we'd gotten past that hey?)

Let's say I work at writing for a living, articles and copy and so forth.  What I'm doing is not rocket science, and I sometimes feel like I'm taking money under false pretenses for something I enjoy doing and can't imagine being difficult for anyone.  So am I a con-artist or working for an honest wage?  It's a job in the online ecosystem, after all.

Now let's ratchet that up a notch.  Suppose I write a really lousy piece, but convince my patron to pay me an ultra-premium rate for it. Now am I a thief, or just a person who writes really well and gets along well in the ecosystem?  What about if the person I sell my article to for a pittance, on-sells that article to a large organisation for millions of dollars?  Are they a con, exploiting me, exploiting the large organisation, or just good businessmen?  And suppose someone helps themselves to the text, sitting there on my hard drive, and then on-sells it to that large organisation?  What are they?  Suppose they get their million dollars for my article, and anonymously pay me twenty dollars, which is twice what the agent might have paid me?

See?  the only difference between a thief and a businessman is the office.  Only now, online, there's even less of a difference between the thief and the businessman.  It kind of begs a question or two about this new online environment, doesn't it?

Well, firstly, crime as a business has pretty much evolved at the same rate as business has, no matter if that was robber barons vis a vis dukes, pirates as contrasted to merchant shipping, terrorists vs military, Mafia vs business, bikies and police.  Being surprised that online criminals have business training and do risk analyses is a bit of a comic relief, really.  I'd venture to say that at the head of any cyber crime outfit you care to trace, there will be a business-suited person at the head somewhere.

We're stuck, because actually, either side is a valid means of surviving, either side of the equation equals staying alive.  One way is a bit less sociopathic, it's true, but survival is a tricky thing, do you consider yourself successful if you perish but your two offspring survive, or is success measured by personally staying alive to generate lot of offspring, but maybe conning some of them out of their living?

Online, is it reasonable to expect "someone" to pursue and prosecute "criminals" much as has been happening in the real world?  And how much good has that prosecution done in the real world?  Are police effective?  Or is it true, as some wit once said something like "a police force is an army that you turn on your own population?"  (And no, I don't remember the precise quote or whose it is.)

My point is that we've already evolved to adapt to the new environment; we have people to whom the question "what's on the TV?" will trigger reaching for their 3G cellphone rather than look for a paper or TV guide.  When someone asks me what he weather will be, I go to and open my favourites.  If someone asks me a question, my first thought isn't "library!" - it's "google it!"

Invite people over for an impromptu dinner and movie?  SMS them, or post on their wall.  These are the evolved.  How are they affecting this online environment?  Well, they create new killer sites, introduce other people to those sites, and then move on when the environment is full of newbies and oldies...

The equation is - 200-300 years ago, a family would move into an environment, and alter a chunk of it to provide them with sustenance.  Built that log cabin from the trees in the environment, levelled some of the land and grew crops and ran livestock.  In time, the environment changed to include people who'd adapted to the next stage of this evolution, large farms with controlled environments, to provide for the towns and cities.

Now we've created computers from natural resources, then connected those together using energy from natural resources, then created internets and LANs from that.  At each stage, we're using one form of resources and converting them to another form.

Even on today's quite stringently managed farms, the original occupiers of that environment keep popping up, from bacteria and fungi to large animals.  What worries me and will keep me looking over my virtual shoulder for a long time yet, is the native wildlife online - who knows what business-suited native critters will appear on the Internet when it evolves a bit more?

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Thursday, 9 July 2009

Hi Honey, I'm...

. . . not home apparently.  I love my GPS and I'm pretty sure that between it and my road maps I can confidently find 90% of the places I need to, weird unmapped cul-de-sacs and odd split one-way streets excepted.  But would I send in a wrecking crew to just GPS co-ordinates without giving them a sanity check, at the very least?  Wonder how they'll solve this...

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Sunday, 5 July 2009

Sunny Bunday

Today wasn't a midwinter day. It can't have been. And yep, it's almost two weeks after midwinter, but that's no excuse for a lovely day that today was. T. was down for the weekend and we let the rabbits have an extended run (first one for ages due to the rain and bad weather) on the front garden.  And sat in the sun ourselves, soaking up the sunshine and blue skies.  Apparently Perth averages (!!) eight hours of sunlight a day, putting it firmly in the upper range of sunshine cities.  Today was such a day, just beautiful.

Next door has two shi'itzu cross looking dogs, and today they were out at the same time as the rabbits. Eddie is generally the most timid little guy but today he figured out what fences are for.  To let him sneak up and sniff noses with a barking little dog that looks like it has a healthy splash of Ewok in its ancestry...  We watched him, getting a little closer each time, realising that he was still safe, and then finally just flaunting it to those noisy yappy neighbours.

Pity that the smaller Ewok has figured out how to squeeze under their gate and wander into our yard.  Mind you, the rabbits' piece of the front yard is fenced all around but Eddie still got a shock and hightailed for the pile of branches that are stacked up waiting to be thrown out in the next garden refuse pickup.  His second scare for the day, the first having been when the neighbour across the road blipped the accelerator of his big bore V8 restored Falcon just as Eddie was throwing a nice high binkie jump.  I'd never actually seen a rabbit get traction on thin air before that...

Better news: We drove through the new Bunbury highway works later in the day and the lines are all painted, traffic lights are all installed but not switched on, and all that's missing from the look of it is to remove the traffic barriers and throw the switch.  This means Bunbury is now just a straight freeway ride away from Perth, because basically the freeway becomes the new highway from what I can see.  Also means that I can get on the highway and be about an hour in either direction from either city.  Also means that if I decide to move southwards I have a nice straight run for Duckzilla, too.

By the way I'm looking for a piece of land that I can lease for cheap, something that would let me drop garden and crop areas among some otherwise unused bushland and maybe run a few livestock, preferably southwards of Bunbury a bit and inland, if any of you know of anything like that please put me in touch.  There's a nice cheese or a few links of farm style sausages in it for the spotter... %)

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