azekeil: (beard)
So, I'm still meandering along, which is fine. I appear to be growing a beard - not had too many complements on it so far. Tempted to see if I can keep it long enough to do interesting things with it, but I may just end up shaving it off in a fit of piqué.

There seem to be a few threads in my life that are beginning to come together and make sense - my apathy around involvement/commitment, a sense that things are just generally too complicated.. and a few other things which I'm still researching on and off. I'll report back when I believe I'm getting somewhere.

I'm happy to talk about things being too complicated though. I'm certainly feeling that there is a desire to keep us in our place by ensuring that things appear that complicated that we relinquish our power (to decide what's best for ourselves) to those who are supposedly better equipped to make those decisions. I certainly haven't agreed with nearly any of the things I've heard about recently. And this doesn't just happen in country politics - it happens in finance as evidenced by the banking crisis, and it happens in business politics too.

I'm coming to believe that standard operating procedure of some companies is to bamboozle their staff with jargon when really they'd be better off speaking plainly and getting to the root of the problem. In my mind, they do this for one of two reasons: one, they don't understand what is happening in their own business and so bluster to cover up that fact, or two, they do understand and they don't want you to understand, either to keep you in your place or to cover up some infidelity or incompetency.

All my current feelings can be summed up by this video, which explains how the banking crisis came to pass (in the US at least) in simple terms. I really enjoyed the fact the expert really understood what concepts he needed to get across, and does so simply and with perfect (to my mind) clarity. The rest of the stuff on that site is a bit of a goldmine too - it appears to be profound or interesting videos that some dude has found.
azekeil: (nice fish)
I've seen a few LJ posts recently about writing letters to your 16 year old self. That's cute, but of course purely a hypothetical exercise in regret and possibly nostalgia, understandable only from the perspective of someone in their adult life.

Teenagers think they know it all. Sweeping generalisation aside - why? Well I think a lot of the reasons are hormonal of course, and with that raging torrent of hormones and the need to be treated more as a grown-up and less as a child, this is one of the attitudes they adopt. I think it could be because they can read, understand and write adult words. They can engage in nearly all the same activities an adult can (legality to the side for one moment) - sex, smoking, drinking, driving, drugs.. so they believe that as they can do all the things they see an adult doing, they think they must have cracked it, and believe they know it all.

But, as every non-self-delusional actual adult realises with hindsight - no, their teenage self merely observed the world of the adult - as per Stephen Fry above. They had yet to take personal responsibility in it, thereby fully understand it and thus also understand themselves and what they really want.

So, the trick is, how do you get that hindsight before you end up, years later, writing that letter to your 16 year old self that is full of regret and nostalgia?
azekeil: (vague)
This Guardian article on an interview with James Lovelock makes a lot of sense. Not only that, but he has a proven track record for predictions too.

I've always felt that individual efforts are not really productive in the grand scheme of things, and that ultimately humanity's collective short sighted nature will be their undoing.

Personally, I partake in green initiatives where it is convenient or useful to me, but I won't go out of my way to 'be green'. Some people feel this is hypocritical but Lovelock's opinions are the first proper expression I've found of how I feel about it all.

[livejournal.com profile] rodneyorpheus goes a step further and points out that the real problem is that there are simply too many people in the world (to carry on with our current lifestyles). Well that'll get solved soon, according to Lovelock.

One thing Lovelock does mention is that people need a sense of purpose. This touches on things I've said in the past; one of the main troubles I think there is with our overpopulated, anonymous and responsibility-free lifestyles. Perhaps this global event will unite the human race in a new sense of purpose, for those who recognise, adapt and survive it?
azekeil: (Default)
In an earlier post I mentioned the frustration of too much choice. It occurred to me that radio could be considered proof of this - sometimes (often?) people like not having to make decisions. It also means that you are exposed to things you might not normally experience. TV is the same - it may be old fashioned of me but I actually think that TV was better when there were just four channels. Having so much choice has in my opinion diluted the impact of an individual channel, and hence the quality has gone down. Additionally, attention spans have decreased as people 'channel surf' for their preferred viewing.

[livejournal.com profile] kissycat1000 points out that having specific channels devoted to interest areas is a good way of exploring new material in an area that interests you - so that is one benefit of the greater choice now available.

What do you guys think? Do you welcome choice, or find it can paralyse you?
azekeil: (Default)
Rather like Robin from The Smoking Room, sometimes I need to satisfy an intellectual itch before I can get on with work. Unlike Robin, however, it's not the theme tune to Little House on the Prairie. It's actually two things.

Thing one )

Thing two )
azekeil: (eyes down)
I'm so tired.
azekeil: (eye)
The water went off at 7:30pm this evening - I'm assuming this is Cheltenham-wide. Here's the official police press conference report at 3pm today. The BBC think that the highest waters and therefore greatest threat to Walham power station will be sometime between now and tomorrow morning. If power does go out, it may take up to 5 days to get the station operational again, although contingency plans are being formed.

No news from work; I will need to go in and get my laptop as I can't really work effectively without it. I'll be doing that on my motorbike so I won't get stuck.

It's all getting a bit interesting, but waking up tomorrow we will probably know whether the power is going to disappear too.
azekeil: (eye)
I guess I'm more paranoid than most about this, but I feel that privacy is like entropy. Privacy can only be made worse, not better. Once something is revealed, it's kind of hard to take it back, and it's difficult to know what sorts of things will be possible in the future. Just because revealing certain details about yourself now is OK, doesn't mean that your decision might not turn around and bite you in the ass later. Take for example my decision to use my face in my icons. This has been fine, but I wrote a piece in the past about the increasing ease with which people can utilise software to identify faces. This makes my earlier decision around using my face in my icons look possibly ill-advised.

Facebook, however, goes one step further. It allows people to inform a computer (and people) that several different photos of a person are indeed the same person, and link that person back to a profile containing information. Admittedly, you can control what information is in that profile, and also you can (allegedly) moderate what photos get tagged as being 'you' - but let's face it (sorry), that's kind of the main point of Facebook, to be able to tag photos for people, isn't it? And as for controlling the profile, I can't help but think that once the software has a really good idea who you are, and if people follow the 'get 2 facebooks, one for your online identity and one for your professional/real life identity' - it wouldn't take genius software to make the match and then the game is up.

What worries me is that Facebook is in a prime position to do the same as Gracenote once did with user-entered CDDB data and sell access to it to whomever wants to use it?

Thoughts? So am I just being uber-paranoid? Is it too late already, and I should just shrug my shoulders and get on with it?
azekeil: (hands!)
Now this is what I call progress!

Trouble is, I suspect they'd die of hypothermia over here..
azekeil: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] tcpip posted this article in the [livejournal.com profile] linux community. It links to an article written by a controversial member of the linux community, on how there is an opportunity for the new 64-bit OS to be decided, and there is a hard deadline of 2008 for this decision to take effect.

Why is this important? Well, every one of you running a computer may be affected by the outcome of this 'battle'.

Read more... )

Damn.

Jan. 9th, 2007 09:47 am
azekeil: (Default)
Looks like they've done it again. I'll have to reconsider my policy of using my face in my icons, although I think that (initially, at least), the system will only work if people identify the faces to start with, which are taken from other sites. At the moment I don't think there are pages with my face and full name on, so I should be OK (for now).
azekeil: (eyes down)
It's there, available on YouTube. Recently I've seen many articles on respected tech news sites (amongst others) talking about the death of professional journalism due to the rise in 'Citizen Journalism', and about Saddam's death as reported by mobile phone footage.

There is a news channel on television which reports the news by simply providing the footage without commentary to let viewers draw their own conclusions; this is the most similar experience I can think of.

I found it harrowing to witness the actual death of an actual human being - I knew I would. But I feel it is a very important step in our development as a species. Up until now we have always relied on news from a third party - now at least we can see it from a second party.

The actual footage reveals that the execution was performed to a background of jibes and taunts; indeed Saddam could be argued to come off looking better than his executors - a sad day indeed for humanity, considering he is the perpetrator of mass murder and persecution.

As a result, there will be an investigation by the new Iraqi government.

We are living in a world of increased surveillance. In a world where the internet enables increased disavowment of personal responsibility, so conversely increased surveillance seeks to redress the balance. This is important for events on this scale of importance, but for every-day goings on the picture is less clear.

At any rate, no longer will important events like this be able to happen behind closed doors without the true nature of the event being revealed to the public. This, I feel, is an important step in our evolution.
azekeil: (vague)
There I was, minding my own business, reading calmly about one professional's latest take on the storage world, when he linked to a psychology professor's article on the reasons for why humans deal with risk in the way they do. Unfortunately its rather crudely attention-grabbing title "If only gay sex caused global warming" put me off a little, but the article is interesting.
azekeil: (fade2black)
A number of people have reported the shocking and arbitrary price set by the government on the cost of a life on Britain's roads. What got me more was not just the way in which it was measured (by a random survey of people listed on the electoral role into the amount of money they would pay to avoid risks in everyday life), but that the whole system was based in fear. I knew governments used fear to control the populace, but I didn't realise they used it to calculate how much to spend on safety.

That seems highly arbitrary - even more so than deciding where to spend money based on the cost of the (fatal) accidents in the various black spots. I'm not certain how I'd propose to spend the money, but I can't help feeling there is something ethically wrong with the way it's currently done.
azekeil: (Default)
Today I popped into the new Tesco supermarket that opened today on the business park where I work. It was actually quite difficult to find a space. So it seems "Build it and they will come" is too true.

Anyway, I saw a paper shredder being marketed with the phrase "Protect yourself against Identity Theft" on it. This was a little surprising to me, but nevertheless got me thinking. I realised that my perspective is one of a geek, and I have little knowledge of how non-geeks think and what things they are concerned with. I therefore have a question to put to all my non-geeky friends: What concerns do you have in everyday life - what worries you? I'm not really talking about social problems, more legislation, safety, money.. that sort of thing. Feel free to answer anonymously if you wish.

Geeks can answer if they wish but for the sake of clarity please specify if you self-identify as a geek or not :)
azekeil: (vague)
So I was sitting at my desk doing the rather scary thing of writing a new strategy for our infrastructure, which will go against the accumulated wisdom of the company. I sort of took a 'back to basics' approach to this strategy rewrite, which got me thinking.

What do humans need to survive? Air, food, water, shelter (and the ability to sleep). Those are the immediate concerns. Then the ability to propagate the species, evolution, etc. But I digress.

So why in all the hells are our lives today so damned complicated? I'm sitting here at the desk of a company that was formed purely to deal with a problem caused by abuse of a communications system that has been stretched way beyond its original purpose, which is only in use today because it is ubiquitous.

Look around you! Everything you touch has had man-years of effort gone into designing, producing, marketing, selling and distributing. These things add 'convenience' and 'quality of life' to our existence.. but at what price? We now have a million and one things to worry about - jobs, mortgages, pensions, phone contracts, internets, computers, email, cars. What do they all achieve? Why are they there? What do we actually need?

Sometimes I think that progress has happened because we evolved to become more intelligent, and we needed stuff to do to stop us from being bored. That's the only rational explanation I can find for all of this.. fluff. Entire global industries spring into life to solve problems that have never existed until now. It's just mind boggling.

No wonder people find modern life stressful. I'm sure it has to do with all these things designed to 'improve' our lives - and most of them are only necessary because everyone else uses them. If I had my way I'd be out in a log cabin somewhere, growing and hunting my own food, with a community of people to share the experience with.
azekeil: (face)
Going on a theme from my last post and another article following on from the last one, I have a theory. People don't normally tell strangers about their sexual habits for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because of privacy and the thought of what they may think of you in return (of course, sometimes people want them to think those things). People post private stuff like their sexual habits online precisely because they are not accountable.

In a not so stunning revelation, then, people who post private stuff online do not generally feel that the people they are revealing this information to are important. I guess the next question is, is this because of the medium affording an illusion of anonymity and/or insulation from others ("they're only words"), or is it simply because interaction online is 'worth less' or even 'worthless'?

I still wouldn't hand someone on a bus a piece of paper with my sexual habits written on, nor would I tell them over the telephone. I also wouldn't online, but I'm not sure that's always been the case. If I were writing on a site I didn't also use to organise my social life, where I had better anonymity, perhaps I might. I guess this is the reason people create second journals, to feel more freedom. But don't be fooled. They write for them, they don't want to hear about you.

Terrorism

Aug. 11th, 2006 10:29 am
azekeil: (vague)
So, very generally, the situation is this:
  • The media sensationalises terrorism
  • Nearly all of the people I know who have expressed an opinion on the recent debacle have been stoically against the idea of making changes to our everyday lives to account for the threat of terrorism
Now, while I certainly agree that making changes to our everyday lives to account for terrorism gives them power and causes us harm, both in mindset and economically, I have to say that there are a few things I wish to highlight:
  1. It is easy for people who are not directly at risk from terrorism to 'stand up' to it (personal responsibility anyone?)
  2. One of the major things people have used to justify ignoring the threat of terrorism has been to look at the statistics for the number of people killed by other events such as car accidents or lightning strikes, against the losses suffered by acts of terrorism.
It is this last point I wish to address: I don't believe that numbers of fatalities from accidental or freak occurrances is in any way comparable to numbers of purposeful murders committed for ideological, political or religious reasons.

People take care to not cause accidental deaths through driving safely, wearing their seatbelt, etc. People take care not to get struck by lightning by not going to play golf on a bare hill in a storm. So why shouldn't people take care not to get blown up by terrorists?

Speaking as someone who is going to board a plane the week after the suggested date of the possible attack, I am glad they are taking extra security precautions. Clearly there will be severe disruption as a system that is already running at its limits is forced to cope with extra delays and inconvenience people somewhat, but I'd rather that than run the increased risk of losing my life meaninglessly to a terrorist attack. It's not as if the airport is being closed.

I'm all for not letting terrorists affect our way of life, but I'm also all for taking sensible precautions, and having the security forces take sensible precautions to ensure our safety given the intelligence they claim to have. In this instance I support the actions of our government and security forces.

One thing I should point out is that the only action that is being taken against this threat is to increase the security that is already present. It's unfortunate that it causes knock-on effects because of how tightly the system is already run. We already live in a world where people want to do bad things to people, and we already accept the whole industry built and maintained by our government to try and ensure they don't achieve their aims.

If however they try to use this to justify ID cards and other losses of freedom I will almost certainly stand against that.

Nice.

Jun. 26th, 2006 01:21 pm
azekeil: (oooooooo!)
Anyone wondering why Bristol/Chelt/Bath TeleWest customers suffered loss of service to broadband and television services yesterday should click here.

And the conclusion to draw from this? Football is obviously the root of all evil ;)

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