Archive for November, 2007

There’s gold in them thar silicon valleys!

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

The internet seems a very good analogy for the 1848 California gold rush. The ‘gold’ on the internet is information and the value of this gold is measured in the currency of traffic.

Thousands of people rushed to the area in California but most only managed to scratch a living. As on the internet. I’m sure the prospectors of old studied their water filled pans with the same sort of expectation as the vast majority of website owners today study their Google Analytics’ graphs. And probably with the same outcome; no glint of gold, no hint of a spike in the all too familiar flatline.

Some prospectors became spectacularly wealthy of course when they hit uopn a huge deposit of gold (for ‘prospectors’ read ‘developers’). And I guess it is the ISP’s who are the equivalent of the shovel manufacturers who became quietly wealthy on the backs of the prospectors.

However, unlike the 1848 gold rush, the internet does not get depleted with all the prospecting, on the contrary, it becomes more enriched.

The new gold is information. But the old problem still persists, how do you find the really valuable nuggets?

Epson Stylus colour 3000

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

My wife came into the office, presumably to ask me something. She first saw the expression of fury on my face, then looked for a possible cause. Her eyes alighted on the Epson 3000 that I was trying to print on and with that, she hurriedly left.

This Epson printer is feared throughout the household. Or rather it is my attempts to print on it that are feared.

I’ve had this large format printer for six or seven years and in all that time it has never worked properly. It is by far, the worst piece of equipment I have ever bought. The software that came with it must have a glitch because it will suddenly decide to print a sheet with the image moved 25 mm to the right. You can’t allow for this because it might suddenly revert to the correct positioning at the next attempt to print.

The paper feed mechanism is a joke. Every sheet has to be nursed through by hand and even then, more often than not, it simply pulls the paper all the way through without printing. It can do this half a dozen times before it chooses to print. When I first got it I must have been on the telephone for weeks to technical support, all to no avail.

My wife finally shed some light into this darkness. She said, “why don’t you buy another printer?”

Genius. A cost/benefit analysis would reveal the time has come to replace the heap of junk.

But then I started to fantasise about what I would do with the old Epson 3000. So many times it had come within an inch of its life, saved only by the fact that a sledgehammer was not readily to hand.

Then a beauty of an idea flew into my head.

When I have bought the replacement printer I will take the Epson 3000 onto the patio, place it onto a bench, train my camcorder on it and whilst it is recording I will gloriously raise a sledgehammer above my head and bring it down on the devil inspired piece of machinery, smashing it to smithereens.

But this is the killer blow. I will then upload the video onto Youtube and email a link to Epson customer services.

Now think this through. If a product is flawed, then lots of people will have had similar experiences with it. If the aggrieved customers start a trend on Youtube, devising the most ingenious ways of destroying it, what is that going to do to the reputation of a large corporation? And who on earth would buy this product after seeing these videos?

Come on people, let’s not put up with defective products from organisations that should know better. Let’s demonstrate our anger.

Hmm.. or maybe a stack of fireworks stuffed into the printer…

Goodbye Steve McLaren

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

The head coach of the English football team was sacked today for being promoted beyond his capabilities. It will be interesting to hear what the rewards for failure are.

Now, as far as his employers are concerned, that is the end of the matter; they are looking for a replacement. But surely, Steve McLaren was appointed by someone. Does that mean that the person or persons who appointed him have also been promoted beyond their capabilities and as such, are unable to recognise an incompetent when they see one? Doesn’t that make them incompetent and shouldn’t they also be sacked?

I’m just asking, is all.

Looked for, it cannot be found

Monday, November 19th, 2007

This is one of those Zen phrases that, as a youth, I liked to quote. I hadn’t a clue what it meant.

Today, I made some sense of it.

The West’s socio-economic structure plays heavily on the concept of the individual ego. The entire system of motivation and reward is based on personal success, usually measured in financial reward, and self esteem, which is derived from the approval of others. Without ego, this structure wouldn’t make much sense. The ego is the engine which drives the machinery of desire for success.

But what is the height of enjoyment for most people? If you dig deep enough, you discover most people’s recollection of when they had the most fun was when they were so immersed in a particular activity that they are passionate about, that they forget about everything else. They become one with what they are doing and as a result, their ego disappears.

How paradoxical is that? Your ego encourages you to ‘follow your dream’ but the apotheosis of that dream is the destruction of your ego… looked for, it cannot be found.

It seems our entire Western system is designed to lead us away from ego-less self fulfilment. Despite this, some people still manage to find their way back.

Knowledge is power

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Walking my children to school this morning, a different kind of education presented itself to me.

The council here have just introduced a recycling regime which involves fortnightly bin collections and green recycling tubs. This morning was the first collection of the green tubs which are meant to contain glass, plastic and tin cans. The full tubs lined the streets as we walked our route to school and inside them was the lesson.

It was as if all the bin owners had invited me into their house to look inside their cupboards and refrigerators to see what they ate and drank.

Some people seemed to live off diet coke, others, beer – and that beer was not obtained from the local supermarket because I couldn’t recognise it. Everybody drank milk.

Then it dawned on my why supermarkets, among other organisations, are so keen to keep track of all our spending habits. As I examined the contents of these boxes I was able to form a picture of the type of person who lived in that house and imagine what else they might buy. So if a person drank a lot of diet coke, it stands to reason that they might also be interested in low fat foods or slimming products. If I saw a box full of empty hydrogen peroxide bottles and fertiliser bags for example, then I could guess the hobby of that person and contact the relevant authorities…

It was a powerful lesson about the collation of information; knowledge is power.

One slight drawback I noticed with this scheme though.

It was calm this morning as we walked to school. On a windy day all those precariously stacked, uncrushed plastic milk cartons will be swirling round the estates like so many large and transparent rats.

An apology to Menzies Campbell

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Isn’t age discrimination against the law?

I thought it was. So why didn’t anybody do anything about Menzies Campbell being hounded out of his position as leader of the Liberal Democrats due to his age?

It got me thinking, at what age do you suddenly become unacceptable as a leader? One day you are the rational thinking, wise, resolute leader of a party, then on your fiftieth birthday you are told to start packing your bags old man because younger and better looking charismatic television stars want to be leader.

And what if Ming had been fifty but in a wheelchair? Would the media have attacked him as being unfit to lead a party simply because he was a cripple? Why wasn’t David Blunkett excoriated for being blind? – the tabloid press could have had a field day with puns about his disability. Or maybe it’s only open season if you are a leader.

Equally, can you be too young? Can you be too tele-visual? How about an ‘X – factor’ type show for politicians; vote for some eighteen year old hunk as your new leader. They won’t haven a clue about how the world works but hey, the kids and women will all vote for him in a general election.

It’s an utter disgrace. On behalf of the national consciousness, which should hang its head in shame, I apologise unreservedly Mr Campbell.

Communities on line

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

What a boon the internet is to misanthropists.

They need no longer put up with being isolated in the real world. They can be misanthropists in the virtual world as well. They can hang signs outside their My-Space portal – ‘No hawkers. No domain to domain salesmen. No canvassars. No cyber squatters and especially No ‘friends’‘.

They can shun people in Second Life or insult them without actually having to interact with real people.

In Facebook they wouldn’t have to actually face people.

It’s such a huge phenomenon this internet community stuff. I hear even the Mafia have organised a networking site. It’s called ‘enemies reunited’.

It’s not a social community though, it’s a ’strictly business’ waste management venture.