Catching deadlines in flight

Today has been spent in a focused daze staring at the screen editing words and writing. The reason for this flurry of academic activity was that it was a conference deadline which I just had to keep. Usually I like to follow Douglas Adams advice on dates and deadlines:

 I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by…

But today was important and there was no chance for an extension. So after pouring my brain out over my keyboard and ruining my eyes by staring intently at the screen I managed to make the deadline.

Now its officially the weekend and I am going out to drink wine. Hope you all enjoy yourselves this weekend, wherever you are.

Photo walking

It’s been some time since I took a proper photo walk but I still take lots of photo’s. Some time ago I even went professional on Flickr so I guess I am officially one step closer to being Web2.0 or maybe I am just a beta…

Anyway all my public photo’s are on Flickr (check them out) and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

old mercedes grill2

Vintage Grill

Normal people have aquariums

A couple of years ago I wrote an article about the need to allow viruses. In the article I presented different ideas why computer viruses should be allowed. In the article I forgot to argue that computer viruses should be allowed simply because of their own value or because someone may like to collect them. In the recent xkcd cartoon this desire to collect the strange is portrayed.

 virus12.jpg

Cartoon (part) by xkcd click here to see the whole cartoon.

How different is this to keeping a terrarium with poisonous snakes?

Filtering Swedish Parliament

The Swedish Parliament has installed a filter in order to stop access to child pornography (Swedish press release). The filter was not installed in order to stop activities which were occurring but rather to prevent their occurrence. Most probably the decision to install such a filter was done to prevent what could have become a public relations nightmare.

The filter will delete any child pornography images it detects and no logs are created. The decision to create no logs may be strange but with the Swedish freedom of information policy this is probably done again to prevent public relations messes from occurring? Oh correct my cynical soul (if I had such a thing) if I am wrong.

Therefore in order to prevent a problem that has not occurred the highest decision making body in Sweden has placed its free access to information into the hands of who? Most probably a private company. If I was a more paranoid person then I would say this was a bad decision. This means that Swedish members of parliament will be unable to find information freely and independently.

Naturally I am not supporting child pornography – don’t be obtuse. I am, however, against putting free access to information into the hands of a private body. This is self censorship. Done in order to avoid public relations disasters.

Of course the parliamentarians could complain but considering the political atmosphere surrounding this issue anyone complaining would probably be placing themselves in a questionable light. This has the makings of a classic paranoid witch-hunt.

Utility of Force

The University of Bath has a podcast with General Sir Rupert Smith. Sir Rupert is the author of the insightful book The Utility of Force: The art of war in the modern world (amazon). His main thesis is that war is changing from the tradition industrial war into a war amongst the people.

The essential difference is that the use of force is no longer used to win a battle but to create a condition  in which the strategic result is achieved in other means. The strategic object is to alter the opponents intentions as opposed to win over him or to remove him.

Lost email contact (and found)

Yesterday at 15.30 the IT department fiddled with my email and apparently lost me somewhere in space. No email. Attempting to send email to me got the wonderful reply: User unknown in virtual alias table. This morning I cut myself shaving and spilled coffee on myself while running for the ferry.

Now the sun is shining and email works after a 20 hour break so I guess I am now officially known in the virtual alias table … aaa, the joy of tech…

Book, bug crusher & hat or why ebooks fail

Ok, so I have already written about my lack of enthusiasm in the newest ebook reader. That’s putting it mildly. But when I read Steven Poole’s 14 point list about what the ebook  of the future must be able to do in order to beat the book I laughed out loud – so since it is Friday I thought that we all needed a laugh at Amazon’s expense…

So the ebook of the future:

1 It will have an inexhaustible source of energy and never need recharging.

2 It will have resolution as good as print. (No, Amazon, really as good as print.)

3 It will be able to survive coffee and wine spills, days of intense sunlight, dropping in the ocean, light charring, and falling completely into two or more pieces, while still remaining perfectly readable afterwards.

4 It will allow me to scribble notes and/or doodles in the margins, with my choice of mechanical pencil or fine Muji fibre-tip pen (black). (Note, typing in the margins with a crappy thumb keyboard is not an acceptable alternative.)

5 It will allow me to riffle through it and thus get a quick, intuitive look at the book’s argumentative or narrative structure.

6 It will allow me to tear off the corner of a page to write down my phone number (or someone else’s).

7 It will display to other people in coffee shops and on public transport the title of what I am reading, so as to advertise my erudition or quirky sense of humour.

8 It will be physically handsome, not drop-dead fugly. (Note to Amazon: for pity’s sake, next time, head-hunt people from Sony or Apple.)

9 Indeed, the books on it will still be designed, by typesetters and graphic artists, so as to feed our aesthetic pleasure.

10 I will still be able to lend or give books to friends, or swap books in and out of the honour library of much-read novels in a Mediterranean seaside bar.

11 I will be able to use the ebook as a reliable flat surface for rolling cigarettes or other leaf-based refreshments, without worrying about debris shorting the motherboard.

12 When I receive the updated edition of the Oxford Companion to Philosophy, I will be able to press the previous edition into service as a stand for the left-hand music speaker on my desk.

13 The ebook will function, morever, as both bug-crusher and discretionary hat. Placed on my face, it will make a soft roof against the sun on the beach.

14 I will still be able to hurl a fatuous tome such as Jeff Gomez’s Print Is Dead across the room without thereby destroying my ability to read any other books.

Trigge Happy Free

Steven Poole’s book Trigger Happy is a pioneering work in the history and aesthetics of computer games. As an experiment (triggered by Amazon Kindle & DRM discussions) Steven is giving away his book for free, with no DRM attached under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.

Trigger Happy is a book about the aesthetics of videogames — what they share with cinema, the history of painting, or literature; and what makes them different, in terms of form, psychology and semiotics. It was first published in 2000; this is the revised edition with the Afterword written in 2004 2001. (Update: as requested in comments, the 2004 Afterword can now be read here.)

The book will be available online for “a limited period only” and therefore his (and my) advice is to grab it while its hot!

Hopefully we shall also be able to find out more about the results of the experiment. Whether or not it increases or decreases sales, generates interest or has any interesting unexpected consequences. Stay tuned to Steven’s blog.