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Living in the Future

Dec. 3rd, 2010 | 10:46 am

It struck me recently that Wikileaks now represents another Science Fiction idea I read years starting to form in real life.

John Brunner's 1975 book The Shockwave Rider contains something very similar. Allow me to copy and paste a small amount of Wikipedia:

"The worm is eventually activated, and the details of all the government's dark secrets (clandestine genetic experimentation that produces crippled children, bribes and kickbacks from corporations, concealed crimes of high public officials) now become accessible from anywhere on the network"

The book was written in 1975, but I seem to recall reading shortly after the first ever Internet worm got loose in 1988. I have a memory of reading it in the library of the Computer Science department at University, probably when I should actually have been doing some studying for something more relevant to getting a good grade in my CompSci degree :-)

OK, so wikileaks still relies on humans to leak the files to it, but it's getting there.

It's interesting that in the book this revolution does lead to social change, and the book ends optimistically. We shall see...

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The Pale Blue Dot

Nov. 9th, 2010 | 11:16 am

In 1990, at around 3.8 billion miles from Earth, the Voyager spacecraft pointed its camera back at Earth and took a picture of our homeworld. Our planet didn't even fill one pixel of that image.

On the anniversary of Carl Sagan's birth, if you've never heard him read from "Pale Blue Dot", please spend three and a half minutes of your life on this video:


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They're really rattling my cage today...

Nov. 3rd, 2010 | 03:36 pm

Further to my attempts to impress upon some clueless Scandinavians that planet Earth has more than one timezone, and that some locales use daylight savings time, they've sent me an email. I can sum it up thus:

"We have looked at our EPG data. It says that live cricket is on from 09:30 to 18:30 today. At 14:00 we looked at the television and cricket was on. Therefore our EPG data is 100% definitely, totally accurate! What's your problem?!"


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There is a cabal...

Nov. 1st, 2010 | 02:54 pm

It meets in secret. It’s purpose is to mess with my head. I’ve thought about it long and hard, and it’s the only explanation I can come up with for the apparent level of cluelessness I have to deal with amongst the data providers I work with. No organisations could be staffed by this many knuckle-dragging, hopeless incompetents. Clearly, they just meet up at times and work out hilarious new ways to fsck-up and make me mad.

The clocks changed on Sunday morning. This happens twice a year. It’s not really a hard thing to work around. Planet Earth has a universal time. The name isn’t hard to figure out, it’s called Universal Coordinated Time, although the abbreviation is UTC to appease the French. There are several international standards regarding precise methods to specify times when events will happen (ISO 8601, RFC 3339) where speccy nerds who care about this shit have thought about it long and hard and come up with pedantic, precise ways to ensure there can be no ambiguity about times. These standards take into account the fact that there are different time zones on planet Earth, and things like Daylight Savings Time. It’s all a solved fscking problem.

Or should be.

I’ve been dealing with a data provider for months who seems utterly, totally incapable of dealing with this. They send me Electronic Program Guide (EPG) data for a couple of television channels. Or rather, they send me inacurate EPG data for a couple of TV channels. Their data is always an hour or two out of sync with the reality of what that channel is showing. This company is in Scandinavia, and it’s almost as if they are so utterly clueless that the concept that there are other time zones on this planet, other than the one they’re in, has never occurred to them.

Here is a scenario (that cannot possibly be true) which would accurately account for their utter crapness: Ugg the programmer (somewhere cold in Scandinavia) look at the time on the clock on their wall. It say “11:30”. It must be 11:30 in London. Obviously! *grunt* No other time possible!

Hence it must be the cabal. They have met in secret and giggled and gone “let’s pretend to be so clueless we can’t handle timezones and DST. That’ll wind Vin up something awesome!”

They have a “support system”. I open a ticket in their system, which they ignore for several weeks, misunderstand for several more, assign to an assortment of different people, continually email me back randomly saying it's fixed (when it isn't), assign to some more people, change their help desk system, lose my ticket, email me randomly some more saying it's fixed (when it isn't), email me telling me I need to fix the data in the EPG file because they've confused me with someone else, have a meeting with me where they try to convince us that we should entrust our entire TV service to them when they can't supply one tiny set of XML data correctly and act surprised when I decline, email me randomly some more saying it's fixed (when it isn't), etc.

Finally, after about five months of me complaining, and them telling me they’ve fixed it about three times when they haven’t, for a few glorious weeks their EPG data matches reality! They close the ticket in their system.

However, I have a dread sense of foreboding. I know that one day the clocks will change. The cabal has met. They will fsck with my head once more.

And so it came to pass that this morning I came into the office and checked their EPG data.

Guess what? Go on, you’ll never guess.

Their data is now one hour out of sync with reality.


This was not unexpected, and I’m getting used to sending them emails pointing out the problems with their XML. However, they really put the icing on the cake this morning, with a move that nearly put me on a plane to a Nordic country to set fire to someone's offices.

I received an email from them saying “we have checked our EPG system this morning, and we can confirm it has handled the clock change properly with no errors.”


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den Monster Titten

Sep. 27th, 2010 | 01:34 pm

I think I am in love...

[It looks like the copyright owners don't want this video on YouTube, so the original has been removed. Something like this will never die though, so I'll endeavour to keep this link pointing at some form of copy of the original. I think I owe it to the universe.]

She has a website [DANGER LOUD INTRO MUSIC!] http://www.bustyheart.com/

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(no subject)

Sep. 12th, 2010 | 10:22 am

Me @ 2010-09-12T09:12:02Z Me @ 2010-09-12T09:12:02Z
Taking care of children, so I've got my big, old glasses on in case of some form of accidental face-hitting incident (they happen).

Tagged by asw909. When you read this you're tagged. Take a picture of you in your current state, no changing your clothes or quickly putting on makeup. NO PHOTOSHOP. Show your F-List the real you!

I don't often have much time, but my two children were downstairs happily watching The Wizard of Oz so I could do this. Amelia appeared while I was typing this though a bit scared. I think the Wicket Witch of the West is a bit much for her at the moment...

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Spring in my step

Jun. 18th, 2010 | 09:46 am

Good morning everyone. Do you know today is the day the Battle of Waterloo was fought in 1815? You can read all about that crushing French defeat here:


While we're on the subject of the French, let's remind ourselves of a World Cup scoreline from last night:

France 0 Mexico 2

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Con-Lib deal

May. 10th, 2010 | 01:04 pm

I think Nick Clegg and David Cameron should meet face-to-face, and decide the nature of their coalition through a series of physical and mental challenges!

Education: a drinking competition.
Taxation: who can finish a fiendish sudoku first.
Election reform: arm wrestling.
Environmental issues: a Big Mac eating competition.

It would save all these negotiations, and no one could consider the results in any way unfair, could they?

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New office and firewall fun

Apr. 16th, 2010 | 09:31 am

I've now moved offices across Leeds to somewhere near the Royal Armouries. This means a new network connection and all the fun that entails. Facebook is blocked (it always has been on the corporate network). Livejournal is partly blocked. Individual journals seem to work, but my friends page is blocked. What have you people been writing about? :-) Fortunately, I notice a news post last night which talks about a much improved new release of the mobile client, so I'll go and install that on my HTC Touch Pro2 and read my friends page using that on the 3G network. Or I can SSH out to a friendly Linux box and read it there using Lynx. There's always a way.

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Cultural Reference Point #2

Mar. 29th, 2010 | 12:53 pm

A song on Absolute Radio lead to a discussion between trash_petrol and myself, where we realised we disagree completely on where these words are written :-)

The words of the prophets are written on the

subway walls and tenement halls.
studio walls ... concert halls!

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