Sunday, January 28, 2007

Unfriendly Linux forums

If you run Linux as I do, you will have invariably got stuck at some point. Linux is a very complex system with lots of configuration required. Normally the best idea to do is to go online and search to see if others have had similar problems.

I do this regularly for several Windows programs with no problems, but once you start looking for Linux help things can rapidly degenerate.

There are three basic problems I have with Linux forums.

1) Assumed knowledge. So many posts jump immediately into great detail and skip key areas. This leaves me pondering what to do between steps 3 and 4.
2) Just giving commands. "Type this in and it will work." Ok, but what did I actually do?
3) Arrogance. Something along the lines of "Do a Google search and stop wasting my time" or "There have already been loads of posts about this so I'm not going to answer."

Obviously this is not the case all the time and its great that the Linux community is so strong, but if you are a veteran Unix/Linux user, spare a thought for all the newbies switching.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Doomsday clock moves forward - unsuprisingly.

I am getting extremely frustrated with the scientists, media and various groups who insist on telling us how close we are to "the end of the world."

So when I read this story, I decided it was time to do a post about it.

The "Doomsday clock" group are extremely pessimistic. Were I in charge of an international body of scientists, I'd create the "Dawn of time clock" and have it just five minutes after midnight. It would provide a vision of hope and prosperity and encourage innovation.

Now of course I am not saying that the dangers facing humanity such as nuclear war, global warming and state surveillance are too be ignored. Far from it. However, these are short term issues compared to the problems that the world has previously faced, and neglible compared to the problems the universe as a whole has and continues to face. Additionally what exactly is the average person going to do with the information "We are five minutes from disaster." Run?

So instead of scientists trying to alarm us, perhaps they should be trying to come up with some solutions to help us. For example I don't yet see cars that run off CO2. I don't yet see a nuclear bomb forcefield system. I don't yet see a device which cloaks us from satellite tracking and other surveillance devices.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ways to get noticed: do not read this.

Every now and then I try and raise awareness on several important issues, such as Identity cards. However at times like this I hardly get noticed at all. Yet whenever I try to do something privately, everybody notices. Whenever I do something unremarkable and uninteresting (in my opinion) everybody notices. But the moment I try to get people to take note of something and suddenly they've all dissappeared.

Its a strange pattern really and I ponder whether UJ readers have similar experiences? Of course there won't be many readers because I've published this online. Were it the case that my opinions had been "exposed" by the Sun or some other gossip based rag I'm sure it would be far more popular.

Anyway this observation got me thinking and I've come up with some possible strategies:

1) Add "top secret" or "Do not read this" to post titles

2) Write something in a book with the word "diary" on the front and "accidentally" leave it at a bus stop

3) Encrypt all computer text files and wait for the government to read them

4) Make access to this blog denied to all and wait for Google employees to read it

5) Write all personal secrets on a blog and keep anything important secret.

Sadly what all this suggests is that people are more interested in other people's lives and gossip (one of the few areas where people aren't apathetic) than important issues. That's why I say use their nosiness to teach them something. Gossip spreads quickly....


Friday, January 12, 2007

The Times newspaper supports Labour...

Have you ever read "The Times" newspaper ( and thought "this sounds pretty impartial." No? Me neither. Today I found some proof of this fact with the following line:

"Mr Brown, almost certainly the next prime minister, will put the increase in the leaving age at the centre of his 10-year plan for government, to be unveiled when he launches his bid to succeed Tony Blair, The Times has been informed."


Monday, January 08, 2007

Deal or no deal summarised and destroyed.

If you live in a country with too much money and a generally stupid population you might have noticed "Deal or no deal" on television. The basic format is that 22 contestants line up, one is selected and they have a sum of money in their box between 0.01p to £250000. They then chose some of the other 21 boxes to be removed and their rate of success determines the amount offered by the "banker".

When it first arrived, I will confess, for a short time I was interested in it. There are moments of tension and the banker is a clever character. As we enter 2007 however its clear how boring it has become. The format is repetitive and despite assurances by Noel Edmunds to the contrary, the game does not require skill. So now someone has actually won the jackpot its time to kill the show. Noel should learn his lesson from his time at the BBC and move on before he becomes boring, assuming he isn't already.

I generally find it hard to make the distinction between what is boring and what is not on television. Broadly speaking though I have a simple rule: length (In minutes) X level of chat (out of 1(best) to 10(worst)) / quality (1(worst) to 10 (best)). The lower the score the better.

_____ = Program boredom score.

For example:

The Simpsons: lasts 30(20) minutes .
It has a lot of chat, but a lot of events and actions also so I'd give it a 6.
The quality of unseen episodes is normally 10, but repeats are only worth an 8

So 30 x 6 = 180 / 8 = 22.5 (One of the best scores)

Celebrity Big Brother: lasts 60 minutes
It has almost entirely chat so I'd give it a 10
The quality of the show is awful so I'd score it a 2

So 60 x 10 = 600 / 2 = 300 (One of the worst scores possible)

Coincidentally these shows are all on the same channel at the moment, unless you pay extra for your television, in which case you are probably very boring indeed.

So back to Deal or No Deal.
It lasts 45 or 60 minutes
It has mostly chat so 8/10
The quality of the show has steadily declined so 3/10

45 x 8 = 360 / 3 = 120

On my scale, anything above 100 is not worth watching.

Proof! Simply apply the same formula to any show and, if like me you are struggling to differentiate between boring television content, you can have a mathematical formula tell you the answer. Eureka!

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Changing attitudes

When I was younger I often pondered in a cynical undertone why things happened. For instance I was amazed how Tony Blair got re-elected in 2005. I couldn't understand why everybody drove/still drives around in cars using oil when biofuels exist. I wondered innocently why we need Identity Cards when all the September 11th terrorists entered the US on legal documents. I also questioned why people in Africa regularly die from starvation when over a billion people are now obese and there is clearly no food shortage. I was despondent when Blair decided he would close lots more post offices and when Brown and Livingstone decided the best (and only) solution to a rising population is to build lots more "affordable housing" when the good old tenements should have scared everyone away from building "cheap" housing. The war in Iraq never made sense to me and neither did the way the BBC made stories from nothing: "We now go to reporter (x) to tell us what we can do in this time of crisis... "Thanks (y), as you know the shortage of news has hit the BBC hardest.." or something like that.

My conclusion at the time was that everybody was apathetic and stupid. However I decided that merely highlighting the flaws is only going halfway and I began proposing solutions to the problems such as dealing with terrorism. Why do terrorists strike? Because they hold a "false" belief? Surely therefore to solve terrorism requires that terrorists are better educated/enlightened? The Labour government think surveillance/oppression is the answer. Also their solution to congestion/pollution is road charging and the congestion charge. My answer is cheap, fast, efficient public transport, road widening/redesigning, renewable fuels and more appropriate speed limits, amongst other things.

I believed it was simply the case that I had come up with far better answers and all I had to do was let the government know my ideas and they would change. So I sent them some letters and awaited their replies. Sadly all I got back was the message "Thank you for getting in touch, but we are going to continue doing our own (wrong) action anyway."

So if I can't reason with people (because they are too inept/apathetic to appreciate my ideas) then the only other course of action is to force my ideas on people.

Unfortunately at this point I am reminded of Tony Blair, so I think it better to go back to the previous stages of coming up with a superior idea, making sure it is actually a good idea and convincing other people to support it.

Therefore if anybody disagrees with my ideas, please post a comment below (nothing offensive or it will be deleted), otherwise, presumably 100% of the population agrees with me. :)


Monday, January 01, 2007

Welcome to 2007

Happy new year everyone. I hope 2007 proves to be a great year for you.