Archive for February, 2010

From iBoobs to augmented reality


Got sent the Charlie Brooker (guardian) article on the augmented reality of our future and followed another link to the Mercedes Bunz’s  ‘seven things you need to know about augmented reality’. Some of the 7 look interesting, particularly No.6.

That said, some of the apps available now or soon sound about as appealing as the other apps available on iPhones— like glorified ClipArt. In fairness,  I haven’t owned a Smart phone since 2007 and don’t own an iPhone now. Perhaps if I did I would have a different opinion on the whole thing.

Here is a video posted in March 2007 predicting the release of augmented reality products to the mass market in 2008…

Although AR hasn’t quite hit the general market yet, there are certainly some appealing applications— and not just for lazy parents and educational purposes. The ‘tour guide’ feature is definitely of interest for anyone travelling for pleasure or business. The AR can tell you what ratings different restaurants and hotel have had, which route to take to get there —or anywhere— and where to park. Pretty useful, but until the omnipotent ‘they’ figure out a way to hardwire our optic nerves to overlay such a display, we’ll probably have to wear ungainly goggles to experience it. Until the advent of such tech, have a read of the following superb books that offer a taste of what could be to come technologically (and socially, but that’s another blog).

Neuromancer – William Gibson

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson

The Revelation Space series – Alastair Reynolds

Accelerando – Charles Stross

Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson

Pattern Recognition – William Gibson

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The atheist delusion video


Many thanks to Peter Harrison for [en]lightening my day today :):-

Password strength diagram – not for rookies


Forevergeek has showcased an amusing diagram for choosing password strength.

Visit their article for an explanation of that gert big unbreakable one.

This diagram begs a couple of questions though:

i) do people really still use passwords like ‘password’, ‘access’, ‘secret’ and ‘12345’?

and

ii) who decided on the computer-using-persons range:

teens> douche> geek> nature lover> professional> ‘normal’ ?

No silver surfers? No brats? No rookies? No chavs?

Admittedly a world devoid of chavs would be an improvement, but you can’t have everything in life including, it seems, a representational educational diagram.Rookies, however, would likely be the most in line to benefit from such a diagram and their exclusion must have left the feeling adrift. Where to place oneself? Am I a geek? Am I… Normal?

“Homosexuality is wrong, kids, God says so.”


happy to hate

Rachel Williams reported in the Guardian about the so-called U-turn performed by the government regarding sex education in faith schools, i.e. allowing Catholic schools to teach that homosexuality is wrong and ‘discourage’ the use of contraception.

What I’d ike to know is, how has this been passed? Religious freedom notwithstanding, surely it’s better to teach kids all sides of something and let them make their own minds up. Teaching that homosexuality is wrong because ‘God said so’ (aside from the ambiguity of the actual ‘truth’ here) is just going to perpetuate and exacerbate hate [crimes], misunderstandings and inhibit diversity.

In the words of Stonewall:

Some people are gay, get over it.

In addition, does the country need any more breeding teenagers, really? With very few exceptions, having a baby young is a waste of the lives of all concerned – the teenagers who don’t get to have a life until they’re in their 30s, the kids raised by kids who haven’t probably learnt some of the most valuable lessons to pass down.

A spokesman for the Dept for Children, Schools and Families, has said

“…schools will be required to teach full programmes of study in line with the principles outlined in the bill, including promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity. Schools with a religious character will be free to express their faith and reflect the ethos of their school, but what they cannot do is suggest that their views are the only ones.”

However, this translates to ‘a Catholic school will be required to teach the factsabout contraceptives and contraception, but would be free to contradict it all by foregrounding and reinforcing their views on the subject.

The question remains: who ensures that a balanced message of tolerance, objectivity and free will is  getting across?

ID cards, privacy & hope for a UK Bill of Rights


The increase in surveillance of the British public has long been on the up, but a new state of the nation poll (reported in the Guardian) shows that the country has hit its tipping point.

One such aspect that has come under public scrutiny is the ID card. In July 2009, the home secretary, Alan Johnson, said the card were a ‘no brainer. They would allow easy travel between EU countries— passport free, only terrorists wouldn’t have them, and so on.

“The identity card is a safe, secure and simple way for people to protect and prove their identity and to travel around Europe but leave their passport at home,” he said. “Given the growing problem of ID fraud and the inconvenience of having to carry passports coupled with gas bills or six months worth of bank statements to prove identity, I believe the ID card will be welcomed as an important addition to the many plastic cards that most people already carry.”

And then a UK newspaper hired a hacker to test the ‘unhackable’ cards out. With a phone and a laptop, the card was hacked in minutes and cloned, with new information put on it. Not so fraud-resistant after all. Besides which, even if they were, it only takes one corrupt/breakable/bribable individual on the inside to screw the whole system. On the surface a good, all-inclusive, ‘no sensitive info‘, easy idea. On the inside, deeply flawed and unlikely to go down well in a country where trust in the government is at best tenuous.

The last state of the nation poll showed only 33% of people opposing ID cards. Now 53% perceive them to be a [very/]bad and 63% of people– up from 53% – worry about the government holding information on them.

The state of the nation poll shows the rights that the sample believed should be included in a Bill of Rights:

81% – the right to know what information government departments hold on you

79% – the right to privacy in your phone, mail and email communications

76% – the right to join a legal strike without losing your job

75% – the right to obtain information from government bodies about their activities

72% – and the right to free and peaceful assembly.

Which just goes to show that the UK still wants to be a free society.

This information was released by Power 2010, which asked the public to choose its top five priorities for political reform, the poll revealed that

80% agreed with the need for a bill of rights, 52% strongly.

The British public seems to be rejecting the idea of massive centralised power over which they have no control.

56% thought government power was too centralised, with

88% saying that local communities should have more say over decisions that affect them.

And that’s what democracy is all about… Right?

Q&A: Hayley Martin on social media


A seven question ‘witter’ with Hayley Martin on how she’s finding the increased use of social media on the second year of the Communications and Media (BA Hons) course at Bournemouth University‘s prestigious Media School.

Q: How are you finding the experience of blogging?

A: I like the concept of it and I’ve found some really interesting blogs to read, but I’m just getting into what to write.

Q: What do you prefer about blogging to Twitter?

A: You can go into more detail about what you’re interested in, but I don’t think you can have a blog without Twitter to blog about.

Q: What do you find most useful about Twitter?

A: All the PR and social media people I’ve made friends contact with on there and getting random news in my feed.

Q: How do you feel if, for whatever reason, you cannot access your social media for a length  of time.

A: I’d like to say it wouldn’t bother me, but I think I’d feel a bit cut off from the world. It’s just so easy to get hold of people on SNS and social media.

Q: Where do you see computer technology going next?

A: Apparently Google will be able to anticipate what you’re searching for and not send you useless or irrelevant sites.

Q: Why do you think social media is so important?

A: Because everyone wants to belong somewhere and with social media there’s so many opportunities for people to join that no one needs to feel left out.

Q: If you were a fruit, what would you be and why?

A: A star fruit, because I’m an odd shape, but when you cut me open you see how much of a star I am.

Hayley can be found on WordPress here and Twitter here.

Interesting deviation – ‘We Are The World – Haiti’


Finally stumbled across this video. Star-studded is an understatement.

Interesting deviation @ 5.51, certainly drags it into the 21st C. ;):-

Possibly would visually have had more emotive power if the Haitians (mostly seen dancing and smiling against ambiguous backdrops) had looked less happy than the celebrity singers (pouring their hearts out).

Nevertheless… Good effort.

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