Feet up! : rants

African solutions

African leaders keep claiming that they need "African solutions to African problems", however their response to the Zimbabwe "problem" is fence-sitting inactivity to a degree beyond which even the Liberal Democrats aspire.

This is shameful, irresponsible, gravely unfair to the oppressed Zimbabwean people and a disgrace to the leaders' own people. Were they really elected to do so little?

In response, my personal "European solution to African stupidity" is quite simple; African goods will join those of China and Burma, and remain on the shelves of the shops I frequent. This small gesture in itself may do little, but I encourage others to do the same.

[Wed, 09 Jul 2008 08:43] | [] | #

iPhone irony

We went to the cinema yesterday, and for some reason I watched one of those boring iPhone adverts before the trailers, you know the ones, Apple showing how the iPhone can do some of the things that every smart phone has been able to do for the last 5+ years, surf the web, email, send a text, browse some maps, run 3rd party apps, take movies, send and read mms, oops, I must have imagined some that (well, 4 out out lots is ok I guess). Anyway I digress, the use case in this advert was some chap deciding to see a film, he texted a friend, found Leicester Square on a map, then Googled for Odeon - which showed their web address and phone number - then he telephoned this number.

See anything odd in this pattern? If the iPhone is so marvellous on the web, why did he feel the need to phone a premium rate number to talk to an Indian call centre? Here's a hint, yep surprised? Four and a half years since the infamous accessible Odeon scandal and their site still doesn't render correctly in any browser I tried (Firefox on multiple platforms, numerous Nokia browsers (pre and post-webkit), even Mowser doesn't work wonderfully). I guess it might work ok in Internet Explorer, but life's too short to run malware.

So, two ironic situations, first even the "Jesus-phone" reckons that the Odeon's website isn't fit for consumption, and the second? Guess which chain of cinemas I wasn't sitting in? 4+ years on and I'm still not giving them my cash...

[Wed, 02 Jan 2008 08:47] | [] | #

Garrison Town Blues

According to this story on the BBC, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the British Army is concerned about "the growing gulf between the Army and the nation".

He says:

"Soldiers want to be understood and they want to be respected for their commitment.

When a young soldier has been fighting in Basra or Helmand, he wants to know that the people in their local pub know and understand what he has been doing and why.

Soldiers are genuinely concerned when they come back from Iraq to hear the population that sent them being occasionally dismissive or indifferent about their achievements".

Part of the problem is that much (the majority?) of the population disapproves of the UK's involvement in these two wars of questionable legitimacy, and secondly there is also the long standing issue of serviceman's behaviour whilst off-duty.

As someone who has lived in or near a garrison town for many years, the mutual antipathy isbased on the soldiers' traditional penchant for recreating their work environment in the town's pubs at a weekend. They may relish being in a war zone, the locals do not.

As the old saying goes, you have to earn respect, and any good deeds in a far-off land will be far less visible than local misbehaviour.

[Fri, 21 Sep 2007 17:58] | [] | #

Politicians, corruption, and stupidity

Gyude BryantThree natural bed-fellows I guess, especially when it comes to African politicians, but surely I can't be the only person who thinks Liberia's ex-president Gyude Bryant is frankly, a bit pants.

The guy was president of an African nation, and the best he could half-inch was a million US dollars? Frankly, that's just pathetic, ruler of three million people and he can't embezzle enough to buy a nice family-sized house in the South of England...

[Wed, 28 Feb 2007 14:19] | [] | #

School's out...

It's one of those things you dream of as a kid, your school burning down. well, it happened to a friend of mine yesterday, the school really did burn down.

Trouble is, my friend is a teacher there...

[Thu, 14 Sep 2006 22:09] | [] | #

Music industry shoots foot...


You really couldn't make this stuff up, first off there's the dubious shutdown of The Pirate Bay - dubious because there's a lot of contention as to whether any Swedish laws have been broken by TPB, and the Swedish minister responsible for the seizure appears to have been operating far beyond his scope, plus there's the fall out from the other legitimate companies whose servers were also seized.

Then the promotion of Allofmp3 by the BPI "hey kids, want cheap mp3s? Try here..." What next? The FBI pointing out bomb making sites? Turkeys voting for Xmas?

Finally (probably not, but we can hope), along comes the news that the music industry is trying to close a legitimate music site. Does PR and legal work for the music industry require prior training from Ratners, and the Prince Philip charm school?

[Thu, 08 Jun 2006 22:02] | [] | #

SMS.ac and sewage

Sounds like SMS.ac are still trying to flick shit at Russ, notorious for their dodgy business practises they sound like shitty outfit to me, that's why I'm linking to Russ with SMS.ac in the link text.

More from Mike, Erik, Martin, and Gustaf

Tags: ,

[Thu, 30 Mar 2006 13:36] | [] | #

Is being a lard-arse contagious?

There was an interesting prgramme last night on UK television following the progress of a scientist investigating whether a virus could cause obesity.

It poses an interesting and selfish question though; if being obese can be caused by a virus, can one catch it from a fat person?

If this is the case, obese people are going to be actively avoided by society, which is rather ironic if one had assumed that the basic premise of this scientist's research was to prove that fat people were blameless for their state. One can imagine the situation on the infamous Clapham omnibus: "Oi, fatty, piss-off! Don't sit next to me, I don't watch to catch your belly!"...

[Thu, 10 Feb 2005 21:54] | [] | #

Unfit To Govern?

So Blair's a techophobe, and anyone with even a minor interest in UK Govt IT projects - that's every UK tax payer - ought to be appalled by the Prime Minister's casual admittance of incompetance.

Being ignorant of technology isn't big and it isn't clever. If you're the guy with the ultimate responsibility for signing off the biggest (and to date least successful) technology projects in the UK you really ought to have at least an inkling about what you're doing.

Maybe - god forbid - he's got Carly lined up to hold his hand...

[Wed, 09 Feb 2005 22:01] | [] | #

Taser Kills?

This appears to have the makings of another Kryptonite factor episode - remember that one? In a nutshell the world (and his blog) discover that Kryptonite bike locks could be unlocked with nothing more specialist than a Bic ballpoint pen, the big K stuck their heads in the sand and pretty much carried on as usual whilst their prospective customers went elsewhere. Kudos to Kryptonite for wising up eventually and doing the right thing, but, it took a long time.

Anyway a Taser is a rather drastic (although allegedly non-fatal) bit of law enforcement kit. But it appears that the Taser's makers are claiming that it's safe whilst ignoring and apparantly misrepresenting evidence to the contrary.

Amnesty International's report on Taser usage in the US is worrying, given that a little Googling for "taser kills" throws up about 14,100 results, so it's apparently not a rare event. Inflicting a high voltage shock (even a low current one) on members of the public is a potentially risky business (as a qualified electronic engineer I know more than enough about electrickery. Rule 1: don't mess with it). I can see this problem escalating.

[Tue, 30 Nov 2004 22:17] | [] | #

So they've voted him back in

Apart from the incredulous reaction here - "why?" seemed to be the most popular response to the result - things go on much the same as normal.

Maybe the Democrats had "misunderestimed" Bush's appeal to the god botherers in middle America? Who knows?

There's a few things that stand out, the primary one is that the US voting system is in dire need of electoral reform (don't get me started on the UK system which also stinks).

When one of the largest democracies in the world has an election regarded by international electoral observers as more flawed than that of backward third World countries, something is seriously wrong.

The electoral process needs to be accurate and just and also to be seen as such. For example the voting machines with no audit trail provide no proof of their accuracy, we can only surmise this is because they have something to hide. After all, why else do the states using these machines have a higher discrepency rate between the exit polls and the votes declared?

The next election starts now for both parties, part of that process must be to produce an electoral process that can be regarded as fair to all citizens, otherwise every American has disenfranchised themself. Wouldn't you want your vote to count?

[Sat, 06 Nov 2004 07:56] | [/us] | #

Doing the right thing

There's a great phrase much loved by Australians - "do the right thing".

Today's the big day for many Americans. Here's to them doing the right thing.

[Tue, 02 Nov 2004 10:52] | [/us] | #

Bush and disbelief

Still astonished here that Bush stands any chance whatsoever in the US elections - a colleague who's worked in New York keeps telling me that Americans are certainly unusual, but still...

Perhaps that's why global outrage and protest against Bush is rather muted, we really can't understand why anyone would vote for him. The prospect of someone so visibly flawed and incompetant being neck and neck with another sane looking candidate is just surreal.

One possible reason for Bush garnering any vots is that the US Govt and media have been systematically lying to the American public, Diego's questions for Bush supporters certainly tests about this theory. If you're American and you don't get it, please read Diego's article.

Global internet polls, whilst far from being statistically valid (similar to voting in Florida I suppose), certainly provide significant indications of how unelectable we think Bush is, circa 10% of the vote and only ahead in Niger and Lichtenstein is hardly a close run thing.

Given that the Bush administration's attitude towards the world is clearly shown by their mal-administered website, I guess the antipathy is mutual

[Thu, 28 Oct 2004 22:05] | [/us] | #

Osamatober, coming to a TV near you soon?

So we're well into Osamatober and the guy with the beard hasn't been paraded before us yet, have they decided it's a stunt that no-one will believe? Or did he die under torture?

It looks like Osama is not an ace up George's sleeve, although there's plenty of other curious bulges in that ill-fitting whistle...

[Fri, 22 Oct 2004 21:21] | [/us] | #

Four years on, and Florida votes still unreliable

You'd think that after the 2000 election debacle, heads would have rolled and Florida's voting system would have been improved.

Apparantly not...

The old adage "vote early and vote often" seems apt here, or should it be "no taxation without representation"?

[Tue, 19 Oct 2004 19:48] | [/us] | #

Leaning Into It

Russ and Joi want us foreign bloggers to start leaning into it a bit more over the US presidential election, so here's my angle.

Am I too late? I don't know, maybe American voters are experiencing candidate and election fatigue, I can certainly understand that, as I'm no lover of politicians of any type.

However, I'm going to post a few items here over the next month or so, posing a few questions about the US presidential election. All I'm asking is that the American voters who read this blog take a tiny slice of their time to read these items and ponder them.

Sure, you might think some of these will be rants from a Limey who has no business poking his nose into US politics, but I hope that my readers are open minded and responsible enough to realise that US politics casts its influence and actions over the rest of planet too.

With power comes responsibilty, US voters have the power to elect the right guy, and as a disenfranchised observer, I'd like to think that US voters will be responsible in using their vote. Well, I can hope, can't I?

[Tue, 19 Oct 2004 19:36] | [/us] | #

Shit and Win98, spot the difference?

I had a fun evening last night, rodding the drains and providing family tech support on a Windows 98 box.

Guess which was the more satisfying experience? Yep that's it, five feet of water and bobbing turds is still far nicer than Windows 98, and it doesn't take as much work to make it go away.

[Wed, 01 Sep 2004 14:12] | [] | #

ID cards: Alchemy, or just bullshit?

I'm catching up on Slashdot, and I stumbled across this story - Your Right to Travel Anonymously: Not Dead Yet.

In a nutshell it's apparently near impossible to take an internal flight or long distance bus or rail journey in the US without having to produce government issued photo ID. Why is this so? Here's the Slashdot answer:

The requirement to show ID for flying on commercial passenger flights started in 1996, in response to the crash of TWA Flight 800. This crash was very likely caused by a mechanical failure. How showing ID to board a plane prevents mechanical failures is left as an exercise to the reader.

Hardly convincing grounds, especially when one considers that all of the September 11th terrorists had government issued ID.

To make matters even more surreal the US government are currently refusing to confirm or deny whether a law exists that insists identification must be shown.

This situation is absolutely nonsensical, and Tom's allusions to alchemy ring very true.

[Thu, 26 Aug 2004 14:19] | [/ukid] | #

First up against the wall

Mugshot of Alistair Darling Come the revolution...

So Alistair Darling wanted much more power and has seized control of the railways, I wonder if anyone has told him that with power comes responsibility, I suspect not.

Given that my journey into work on Tuesday was delayed by over 2 hours by a combination of a broken rail, and inept provision of alternative transport, can I assume that Alistair is entirely to blame? Should I send him the bill for wasting my time direct to Westminster or just issue a writ for damages?

And what is it with politicians and hair? I've yet to see a politician with anything like a respectable haircut, is it the twisted mind that makes the hair rebel?

[Thu, 26 Aug 2004 14:00] | [] | #


BugMeNot is a great project and the Mozilla extension makes it even easier to use. The BugMeNot FAQ points out the stupidity and anti-web nature of the compulsory registration sites.

It makes you wonder why sites like The Age still try to introduce these outmoded pre-cluetrain concepts. Imagine having the choice of two shops, one which asked you to fill in a 3 page form for everything you bought or one that just let you buy stuff, which would you choose? And how exactly is pissing off your customers a good business plan?

Incidentally, I'm very tempted to follow BugMeNot's registration scheme or demand that:

Any subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, or employees of any site employing compulsory user registration mechanisms are not authorized to access the content or services of this site.

Draconian? Sure, but no more so than compulsory registration.

[Wed, 11 Aug 2004 13:27] | [] | #

Jim Hughes
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