Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is this funny or just seriously hypocritical?

Three posts in one day? What is going on?

This one made me laugh: the atheist Chinese government wants to regulate reincarnation in Tibet!

Let's, for a moment, allow that reincarnation works. Now post the anti-religious, atheist dogma of the Chinese government. Are they now admitting that reincarnation works? Or are they just seriously trying to damage the political structures in Tibet? Or perhaps they just want to give the Dalai Lama (and many others) yet another excuse to lambast the Chinese government.

I roll my eyes, whilst ROTFLMAO!

Microsoft buys Swedish standards process for $30,000

Once again from Chris Samuel's blog, it appears that Microsoft is making unfair and unethical use of it's massive financial muscle and influence to buy approval for their OOXML standard in Sweden.

If there was any doubt in the past, now there really isn't, that it is time to start actively campaigning against Microsoft and their complete dis-regard for anything but their own bottom-line interests. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is no more than a sugar frosting on a deeply cynical and manipulative mega-corporation.

Russian territorial excesses

Over the last few weeks there have been a number of news reports concerning the expedition into the Arctic by Russian scientists. Their stated aim is to prove that additional territory beneath the Arctic Sea is part of the continental shelf of Northern Russia. If they are able to prove this, then, under International Law, they will claim the right to begin mineral extractions (read: oil & natural gas) from beneath the Arctic Sea.

At the moment, no single nation has these rights, as the bed of the Arctic Sea is oceanic crust, and not continental. The BBC has the following diagram as part of their article on the subject.

In that you can see the structure the Russian are claiming to be theirs. Now take a look at the following composite satellite image from Wikipedia's article on the Arctic:

Again you can see the Lomonosov Ridge running across the center of the image, from upper right to lower left. Now take a close look (you might have to load up the original image) at the top right end of the ridge. It clearly becomes less distinct as it approaches the continental shelf of Russia, indicating that the ridge falls away to the sea-bed there. In fact the ridge stops distinctly short of the Russian continental shelf.

Hopefully, if this situation isn't clear enough from a simple shot like this, then any geological evidence from the Arctic sea-floor is going to similarly demonstrate that the only nation having even a vaguely legitimate claim upon the Arctic Sea is Denmark, via Greenland. And even that claim would be of dubious strength as it's not completely clear that the Lomonosov Ridge actually reaches the Greenland continental shelf either!

It is time that Russian stopped messing around in boats and submarines trying to claim a right to pollute the Arctic Sea, and get around to sorting out their internal problems with a premiere who's nature seems more Tzar-like by the minute. The United Nations and the international courts should be protecting the Arctic from exploitation in the same manner as the Antarctic continent is protected. These environments are far too fragile to support oil and gas extraction industries.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More on the Frozen Hell event

Now the BBC has gotten in on the event too.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hell has officially frozen over!

Marillion (the band that was the sound of my teenage years) have actually appeared and performed live on stage with Fish once again, after many years of saying it could never, ever happen. And thanks to the (dubious) miracle that is handy video-recorders, here is the footage from last night's Hobble on the Cobbles music festival in Aylesbury (UK).

Given the origins of Marillion in Aylesbury back in the early 80s, and their first single being Market Square Heroes, what could have been more appropriate for a gig in the Market Square at Aylesbury but that very same song!

Well done Mark, Steve, Ian, Pete and Fish for putting the past where it belongs; behind us!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wow! Dick Cheney once knew how to talk sense!

I can't believe I'm going to write this but, boy, Dick Cheney was actually right about Iraq.... in 1994!

Courtesy of Chris Samuel, this absolute nugget of truth has come to light.

Such prophetic words as these should be carved in the tombstone of George Bush, Jnr., and every other member of his corrupt, sycophantic and self-serving regime.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rip-off Shareware Experiment

Andy Brice has spent a little time and enlisted the aid of to investigate the scam that is bogus star-rating of shareware software on various download sites. He has managed to demonstrate that a small sub-section of shareware sites give 5-star ratings (or equivalent) to any piece of crap submitted to them, in order to drive advertising revenue.

The psychology goes something like this: I write a piece of software, of whatever quality, and submit it to the shareware sites to be published. They give it a five-star rating, and send me a congratulatory email, with a badge and snippet of cukoo-like HTML code to include on my own website. In a fit of self-congratulatory naivety I install their parasitical image and link in a prominent position on my homepage - I'm proud of my software & the rave review they gave it.

Next thing you know, people who find my software go to the shareware site generating ad impressions for them for no good reason.

Like some of the commenters on Andy's blog, I'd love to see someone repeat this experiment with a piece of virus-laden software... with the EICAR test virus, of course! I wonder how many of the bad sites (and the 'good' ones) actually bother to scan submissions?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Why I play games

I write Java code for a living.

I write computer game reviews as a hobby.

I just wish I could write even half-way as eloquently as Margaret Robertson in this piece for the BBC. She has nailed so completely the reason that I play computer games: it's about testing yourself, optimising your approach, leveling up again, getting a better line through that bend, surviving one more Tetris level, and hopefully... eventually... beating the game. But even if you end up the loser more often than not, it's the buzz of trying to get there anyway!

Wikipedia Whitewashing Writers

Wired (and a number of other sources) are talking about the brilliant work by Virgil Griffith to map the editors of Wikipedia articles to the IP address of the editor, in order to find out which people, organisations and companies are white-washing wikipedia entries about themselves.

For example:

Disney User Deletes Reference to DRM Critic Doctorow

On Christmas Eve 2004, a Disney user deleted a citation on the "digital rights management" page to DRM critic Cory Doctorow along with a link to a speech he gave to Microsoft's Research Group on the subject. Later, a Disney user altered the "opponents" discussion of the entry, arguing that consumers embrace DRM: "In general, consumers knowingly enter into the arrangement where they are granted limited use of the content." 2nd diff:


BBC: George "Wanker" Bush

The BBC labels President Bush a "wanker"

Amazing! As if these naive editors thought we'd never find out.

UPDATE: Now the BBC has an article on this, but conveniently fails to mention the above case, and similar edits emerging from their own network. Hypocrites!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Shocking, or just what we've always suspected?

From CNN this morning, just putting food in a MacDonald's wrapper makes children think it tastes better!

So all those advertisers can be so proud of themselves for brainwashing a generation of children into believing their marketing. Not.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Switch-over time

Right, we really are nearly there with Ubuntu now!

I have a new Ubuntu-compatible HP printer on it's way shortly, so the switch over is imminent.

As a side note, I'm not the only one. CIO has an article about John Halamka's evaluation of Windows XP, Mac OSX, SUSE Linux, Redhat/Fedora Linux, and Ubuntu Linux for Intel-based hardware - specifically mobile laptops. Actually, it's a series of three articles, but they're well worth a complete read. Most telling is that, despite a few glitches and workarounds, he's ditched XP and sticking with MacOSX for home (read: 'fun') use, and Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) for work.