It’s not time to make a change, just relax… unless you have a telephone

Telephones are the appendix of electronic gizmos.

Why do we continue to invest time, money, and resources into this cul-de-sac of technology?  It makes no sense.  It’s almost as if nobody has looked at a telephone and asked themselves: ‘What is this?  Why do I continue to mangle otherwise useful technology into conforming with past designs?  Why would I want to push this computer up against my face?’

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to work out what modifications would need to be done to a touch screen telephone in order to turn it into a touch screen watch capable of communicating with other people’s telephones.  In time, other people would realise the folly of telephones and convert to touch screen watches.

It’s damn hard.  The puzzling part is the position of the camera lens.  Most ‘smart phones’ have a camera which is on the ‘back’ of the phone.  When strapped to a wrist, the camera can take nothing but pictures of the wrist.

And that’s lame.

The other part is to allow airflow beneath the device.  Smart phones produce a surprising amount of heat.

But while fiddling around with all of this (to no great output), it’s becoming more shocking that we care at all about telephone signals.  Three years ago, I bought a phone thinking that I would use it most for making calls and sending text messages.  Now, I spend most of my time on my phone accessing the internet.  From my rather non-representative sample of friends, it seems the same thing is happening with them as well.  Hell, I even use Facesbook to find out where somebody is before messaging them (yay for compulsive updaters).

So why do we put increasing effort into using radio signals for telephony when we could be diverting those resources into improving data services?

Also — and this is a really, really petty gripe — but why can’t my glorious touch screen watch communicate with other ‘smart’ devices in the area without bouncing off a relay tower first?  Device-to-device communication is the other thing we should improve.

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I was born in a factory, far away from the milky teat… but my school was okay

They’ve unleashed MySchool upon the world and, like the data hoarding freak that I am, I immediately set about working out what all the funny little numbers were, what they meant, and — most importantly — whether or not the kids who went to my schools after me were any good at answering questions on the NAPLAN test correctly.

It turns out they aren’t.

A quick search of the internet will bring up all kinds of not-at-all-hysterical criticisms of the website.  I’m going to do something slightly different and compare it to another story that rampaged across the blogonerds this week:

The Australian Government Hates Small Breasts

According to the intellectually reputable and very balanced website SomebodyThinkoftheChildren, the Australian Sex Party said that the Australian Classification Board said that pr0n depicting small-breasted women is now banned.  Hark! Lest you think that this was merely Chinese Whispers, SomebodyThinkoftheChildren have even used their super-sleuthing skills to discover that — and hold on to your hats, peoples! — the ACB dares to use ‘a person’s overall appearance is used by the Board to determine whether someone appears to look under the age of 18‘.  I’m not entirely sure how else a person determines whether a person appears to be under 18 except by judging their appearance.  That’s usually what the word ‘appears’ means — they have an appearance. Continue reading

Every waking hour, I’m choosing my confessions… and my mummy will get angry at my Facesbook status.

In the dark and mysterious days of pre-history, you’d go out hunting with your fellow tribespeople, kill something awesome to eat, and then take it home with your fellow tribespeople to be cooked.  Living hand-to-mouth, there was no separation between your working life and your home life.

Thankfully, we became more civilised and we better understood the need to have Work and Private lives.  Work was where you went to get paid.  Private was where you spent the money you made at Work.  If you wanted a better Private life, you adjusted your Work life to fund better things.  But there was a clear and obvious barrier between Work and Private unimaginable back in the pre-historic age.

Technology has a cunning talent to make savages out of the noblest society.  When I go to work, I know that several people have read my FacesBook status, or seen the pictures of me drunkenly playing the ‘Break Down the Heteronormative Framework at this Party’, or seen the inappropriate comments of my friends saying all kinds of curious things.  My Private and my Work blur at the edges.

And it can lead to all kinds of fun.  My younger sibling posted particularly morbid lyrics as his status.  A friend of my mother saw the update, called my mother, and asked if my brother was okay.  Mother dearest called my sibling and gave him a serve.  During a previous relationship, I decided that I didn’t want to profess my relationship status.  This sent a message to all of my girlfriend’s friends stating that she was no longer listed as in a relationship.

And then there are those clever folk who managed to mix Work and Private a bit too much.  Examples like these have caused people to opine that we need to start being more careful about what we do in our private lives because our work lives can so easily discover them.

Aristotle wrote that we’re creatures of the polis.  As social monkeys, we make friendships at our workplaces and the like, so it would make sense — now we’re in the age of Social Networking where everybody must know my every thought at every moment — that these social networks would extend to our occupational networks.  But it also seems reasonable to think that we should be able to relax in the Private Spheres of our lives.  If I go out for a fun night on the magic sauce, I shouldn’t have to worry that one of my friends will upload the pictures to FacesBook.  I’d think that my colleagues would have the good sense to think: ‘Yes, Mark exists outside of work.  I’m okay with that.  What he does there is fine.’

The two examples linked above show what happen if you’re a complete nerk.  Bitching about somebody who’s on your list of friends is a good way to be on the wrong side of drama, and leaving evidence for people to use against you should only be done if you’re this week’s baddie on NCIS.

So instead of being more careful about our private lives, perhaps it’s time for the workplace to stop treating its staff like they’re forever and always chained to their workplace identities.  Of course, in the end, it’s not the workplace that suffers: it’s the individual who is sacked, or whatever.

Ah, well.

In much happier news, TripleJ’s Hottest 100 has begun for 2009.  Go vote.

In other news, the top fifty videos are on Rage right now.  Go watch.

How I wish you could see the potential… but I should post non-boring stuff as well

I like the internet. It’s a good procrastination tool for when you have things to do which you really ought to do but oh God it’s far too warm for that kind of thing.

In an age a long, long time ago, remixing the words of a politician was a rather laborious affair. So much so that remixes of that sort were a massive novelty, thus the popularity of Pauline Pantsdown‘s ‘Backdoor man’ and ‘I don’t like it’.

Now, anything and everything can be remixed thanks to the wonders of the internerds.

Ever wondered what would happen if you mixed Nine Inch Nails with the Ghostbusters? Wonder no more!

Thought that Jean-Luc Picard’s cry of defiance in Chain of Command (part two, series six, episode eleven) needed to be commemorated with a dance track?

The possibilities are nearly endless, especially with the ability to manipulate the meaning of the words. Shatner on the Mount:

And then you have the ability to turn media incidents into catchy beats. From Bill O’Reilly’s freak out:

We get:

Clare Werbeloff’s encounter with Channel Nine earlier this year became:

But, for me, the zenith of this artform will always be the ungodly love child of Japanese Ronald McDonald with U.N. Owen was Her (Project Shrine Maiden):

This spawned an entire genre of clips:

And then you have a wave of cover versions making crappy songs into significantly less crappy songs. Lady Gaga’s Poker Face as a rock cover doesn’t completely suck:

Then again, since the year 2000, cover versions have generally been superior to the original (as opposed to the cover version before the year 2000 — including Jeff Buckley’s). Consider Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt:

Lilly Allen’s version of Womanizer:

And Elbow’s cover of Independent Woman:

Maybe we’ve just become better at recycling?

But there were planes to catch and bills to pay… and so we needed a web filter to protect your children

Okay, the title of the post is a lie but it’s a frequently heard lie.

It amazes me that I most often hear this lie from opponents of the web filter. The argument appears to run like this:

1. They’re bringing a web filter to protect the children.

2. The web filter won’t protect the children.

C. Therefore, we shouldn’t have a web filter.

In our insatiable desire to be the United States in the Southern Hemisphere, opponents of the web filter have been screaming incoherently about their rights to access anything and everything through the internet — especially the stuff they don’t want to access. One friend of mine said that the web filter was an incompetent impingement on her rights because the filter could be circumvented. Another friend cited the Sydney Morning Herald which incoherently compared the web filter to speed humps on a highway.

It turns out that — hold on to your hats, folks — there’s a huge trade involved in getting illegal items through Customs. I know. You’re completely shocked that the drug industry imports drugs from overseas. Customs catches a great deal of it but, given that there are imported drugs in Australia, they’re can be evaded.

I don’t think there are too many people around who would argue with a straight face that Customs is an incompetent inpingement on their rights. Yet when we have what is essentially the internet equivalent of Customs, people cry foul.

The filter takes out the huge grey area with issues such as pornography. It might be that I’m a huge misanthrope but I can fairly easily imagine the AFP busting a pornography ring and people using as their defence that they did not know that the stuff they were accessing was illegal.

But if they have to deliberately go out of their way to circumvent a filter to access illegal material, it’s obvious that they know what they’re doing is illegal. They are deliberately setting out to commit a crime. There’s no grey area here and I think that’s a good thing.

This material is already illegal. If you’re caught with this stuff by Customs, it’s game over for you. Continue reading