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Thursday, 31 July 2008

Overweight? Consider this.

I have mentioned it before on this blog that if one takes a look at photographs from the late 1800's and early 1900's in Britain, America, Australia, Ireland etc you will see lots of 'plump' people, mostly women who at that time were considered beautiful if plump. Skinny women were scorned. Men, however, used to be the workers and if those workers worked in a factory or in a strenuous job then invariably they were slim. Most in those days were hungry which also accounted for the slim men. Even then there was plump men about.

Look at various countries and one will see plump people are the norm and always have been the norm. This obsession with ridiculous figures such as being 13 to 31kg overweight is a problem is utter rubbish.

The British and American obsession with weight is dangerous. It is dangerous simply because if, as they want, everyone is slim then we run the risk of people dying. They will die because this obsession demand they eat less or that they eat more fruit and less meat etc.

It is not rocket science to see this happening. Let us take a look at say Congo. The Congolese people, women especially, are genetically plump people. Even in other countries that do not eat the so called Western diet the people are genictally plump. The world over it is the same.

British people are not genetically slim people. They never have been and probably never will be, unless those with the obsession of making everyone the world over slim win which bring us right back to what I said earlier about people dying. Because the Americans are, in the main, from British stock they too are not genetically slim people by nature.

Much of todays science about what we eat and how we eat and how we exercise, or not etc is so much hot air we are in danger of walking blind on these issues.

People the world over have been genetically overweight since time began. Not everyone, obviously, sits in that category but the vast majority of people do. Whether they be a few kilograms overweight or a few 10's overweight makes no difference. It has always been that way.

Incase you think otherwise after reading the above I am neither overweight nor underweight. Nor is any of my immediate family nor my extended family. Infact, we have never had a family member going back to the earliest photograph
we have (date stamped 1864) except for the wife of my great great Grandfather who was a plump women. I just abhor this obsession touted by so called experts as it is utter bunkum at every level.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Cloud

The Cloud is on-line software, otherwise known as SaaS (Software as a Service). Whatever your thoughts are on this subject mine are that it is the biggest pile of insecure twaddle ever to be invented.

I personally would never trust any company with what could conceivably be personal and sensitive documents. On-line storage for data is all well and good but a quick looked at the news web sites will reveal many of these places have been hacked at one point in time or another. Until such a time as they are impenetrably secure there is no way on this rotting Earth I would trust anyone with my personal documents. Even if they ever get the holy grail of being impenetrably secure I would still never use them.

Yahoo!, Amazon, Google are all involved in this. Thay all have their fingers, or should that be heads?, in the cloud. I cannot bring myself to trust any one of them. Google, Do no evil, are the worse offenders for collecting and storing all the personally identifiable information they can glean whenever you use their search service. Of course Google have much much more than search these days and whenever you use one of those Google services you give them more and more data about yourself. It is scary.

Microsoft, that peddler of the most insecure software, has recently started investing in suh services. This is the last company on Earth I would use. Their track record on security in their software operating system is abysmal at best and utterly shocking at worst. Why would any one think their track record in the could would be anything better? It will not be.

All these, and more, companies want you to use these services so that they can focre you to do away with computers that have storage. They are slowly moving towards that goal where you will no longer store files on a local machine but will instead have total reliance on the company in the cloud.

Let us not forget server outages. Once you are reliant on a given company and their servers disappear for hours, days on end (as recently happened at Amazon) then you are doomed as your company could lose millions because you cannot access the cloud.

Be you a company of a private citizen, trust this cloud at your peril. It will all end in acrimonious tears. Especially since Microsoft are now involved. Be afraid, be very afraid. You are dripping information about yourself all over the Internet. Until our collective governments grow a spine and stop this data mining then expect massive company or personal losses as one after another get breached and all data stolen. Before you realise it your clone somewhere in the world will have stolen everything you have.

Be scared. Be very very scared.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Distribution surfers.

A distribution surfer is a person who flits from whatever he/she was using to the perceived latest and greatest distribution, usually a different one It has nothing to do with the merit of. It has nothing to do with anything really except the fact that the new is distribution

We see it all to often in newsgroups and forums where a user has a problem with something not because that something created the problem but because the underlaying cause is the differences in approach to how their previous distribution did things. In the minds of these distribution surfers all distributions should be the same. But, the simple fact is there are almost as many differences in the underlay structures as there are distributions. Trying to get that simple thing across to them is difficult at best and damn near impossible at worse.

Taking as many newsgroups as I do and reading the many forums I do it soon becomes clear the names and on-line nicks that belong to a given distribution surfer. Take as an example Slackware, that venerable distribution that has for years defied the impending doom calls and Ubuntu. Slackware 12.1 came out just before Ubuntu 8.04 (which has recently morphed into 8.04.1). Looking around at the newsgroups when Slackware was released we saw a sudden increase in users, some of which held new names/tags/handles. Then Ubuntu came out and most of those new names disappeared and popped into view on the Ubuntu newsgroup as well as on Ubuntu's main forum. That defines perfectly what a distribution surfer is and what one does as each distribution releases a new version.

Slackware, Debian, Redhat (now Fedora for none business users) and to some extent SuSe and Mandriva (formerly Mandrake) have been around for years and years and are still as relevant in todays Linux distributions world as they where 10 or so years ago. Even though during all those years many other distributions have popped up and in some cases those newer ones have surpassed those older ones where take up by users is concerned. It is not that that is annoying though. It is those damned distribution surfers that annoy the jiggery out of us old timers. Why in the name of $DEITY will they not settle on one distribution and learn it properly?

It boggles the mind it does.

Slackware has rudimentary package management and does not do dependacy tracking, long may it stay that way. Debian does both but because of that has other problems, such as application or library conflicts. Redhat (Fedora), SuSe and Mandriva all do both but uses RPM, which, in Microsoft parlence, if you have ever suffered from a registry botch that stops your system from booting then you will know what RPM Hell means. Because Slackware is much more basic, adhering to the age old KISS principle it is less, much much less likely to be rendered unbootable unless the $USER of that box does something utterly stupid. Because of this simple fact Slackware will probably still be with us in 20 years from now.

If there is a good thing about all this it is that the surfer will invariably return to a good solid distribution eventually as their heads get mauled by the differences between them. But then, this brings its own annoyances such as when they come back they start shouting about how this distribution or that one has so and so so why doesn't this one?

Bloody distribution surfers should be banned from ever running a distribution if they move base more than 4 times in one year or if they are seen or heard to write or utter the words 'Distribution X has so and so, why doesn't distribution Y' once.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Kneejerk reactions.

Is what the present government is all about. Just about every law they have dreamed up and implemented has resulted from kneeejerk reactions. And so the same can be said for the latest government reaction to the spate of knife related crime that has in recent times hit parts of this once proud and fine country.

The government insist on closing the stable door after the horses have bolted. They do this level of law implementing on anything they touch. The issues with knife crime go a lot deeper than some of our youth carrying a knife. As per usual for this present government they deem the issues to be the result not the cause. It is but a tiny fraction of our youth base that are 1) Doing the crime and 2) Ending up dead because of 1. This government is daemonising all our youth because of a few. They are, as always, sending out the wrong signals. They are pandering to those who feel they are threatened by the youthful few when in actual fact they are as far removed from the problem areas as the youth are from the hallowed halls of Westminster. But that does not stop our government from implementing new laws to close the stable doors after the horses have bolted.

I do not know what the answer to knife related crime is. I have some ideas though. The result of it is often times death. But why do our youth deem it necessary to carry a knife in the first place? That question is a hard one because no one really knows the extent of the problem. Sure they know where the problem areas are but they have no idea in relation to the entire country. I reckon the problem starts in the primary school years. Education is the key to the answers not using a hammer to crack a nut as this government insists on doing. Because of a few problem areas all youth will be tarred with the same brush. Considering we the people entrusted this government with running this once proud and fine country we should be ashamed at their answers to the problems modern life faces.

Knifes have always been with us. From the turn of last century through to modern times. People have always carried knifes and people have always used knifes. Unfortunately, people have always died because of knifes. It does not take a rocket scientists brain to work out that the issues have been with us for many tens of years and that current deaths from knifes crimes while shocking are nothing more than a blip on the spreadsheet.

If this government, indeed any future government, really wanted to stop or even cut down knife related crime they would not entrust our police to do it. No. Our police have too many powers already. Giving them mandate to further intrude into the lives of our youth is just plain wrong and sends out all the wrong signals. It further installs into those few of our youth that is legitimises what they do. Instead they should be aiming to shock our youth at the primary school age. How they would do this is not my place to guess but it is certainly doable. While this method will do little to nothing about the present generation of youth it will impact on the next generation. So, instead of yet another kneejerk reaction to what the newspapers say is happening the plan would seem to indicate that the government has for once come up with a thoughtful plan of action.

Is this too much to ask from the people we elected to govern instead of rule? Probably.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Spead of 'news'.

I have put the word news in quotes to highlight the fact the our newspapers, both on-line and paper type, often allow us to read things that are anything but news.

In this report on the BBC web site one quote caught my eye and that was "News took longer to get into the public domain and tended to have different focus.". The reason it caught my eye was it is something my long since dead Nana used to say in relation to world news and how in a couple of decades previous people would not have heard about various famines and atrocities that happened abroad. And here we are now looking at a quote said by some professor about news within Britain's shores.

The world is shrinking that is for sure. It is shrinking in the sense that it now takes a lesser time to get to some other place in the world. It is shrinking in the sense that news from anywhere abroad can be handed in to ones editor for inclusion in that days news outlet in real time and that means almost as the news happens.

The Internet is largely to blame for this shrinkage. But is this shrinkage of the world a good or bad thing? I reckon it is a bit of both. It is good because at its heart it can be used to bring the worlds people closer together. It is bad because the news outlets abuse this peoples desire to be close to others.

We are by design a group think animal. We are social creatures. We have an innate desire to want to feel close to others within our creature set and it is this desire that the news outlets abuse. They abuse it by stating something is this or that rather than just reporting what has happened. They have the power to shape our thinking. If there is something, or someone, worth reporting about that they happen not to like they can force feed their readership lies and propoganda so that that readership ends up disliking the same thing or person. We all like to think our thinking cannot be altered in this way using this time honoured method but I ask you this:

How do you know for absolute certainty that something reported on that purportedly happened half the world away actually happened?

Sure news aggregater's abound on the Internet and if something is reported on in several countries simultaneously then surely the news must be true? Not really. Do we know for absolutely certain that the news moguls worldwide are not in some massive collusion? We do not. And that is worrisome.

My old Nana always said that unless you see something unfold before your own eyes or unless you know someone who saw that something unfold before their own eyes who then relayed to you a firsthand report of that something you should not trust any other source.

As overall people have become more educated in the Western world one would hope that they would see through something like this and see it for what it really is but alas this is not the case. As the use of the Internet has grown faster than any one expected it to the people have come to trust whatever they read. This is a dangerous trait that one day will be exposed but for now at least the news outlets have within their grasp a chance to shape the world to the views of their owners and if we were to find out who really owns the news outlets around the world we would probably find that the ownership is in the hands of a few people.

As I grow older and more cynical with age I can see a lot of what my old Nana used to say as holding a lot of water. Of course, some of what she said was utter tosh as she came from a different world that had different standards to how things are today but her underlaying philosophy holds true. Do not trust anything you cannot verify yourself.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

KC talk to us again.

As I mentioned a while ago KC are now talking to us again. The last meeting was last night during which most of what was spoken about can be revealed but some of it cannot.

What annoys me most about all of this is those who claim HWWNBN (He Who Will Not Be Named) and I are somehow getting something extra out of it. That is simply not true on any level. Sure, at the meeting last night it was disclosed that my partner in crime and I were to be added to some future unnamed beta program but that could end up causing us more headaches than anything else. But there are some out there that see this as some sort of plus thing. What they don't now is that we two being added to some beta program opens the doors for other users to be added at a later date. I was going to mention this during last nights argument but in the end I felt so pissed off with the whole lot that I never bothered to mention it. Not that they would of taken any notice. They would probably have twisted my words and made it sound like I was just saying it to take the heat out. Such things happen at a boring regularity in there. Such is life I suppose.

There are times when we both think it just is not worth the effort to carry on doing these meetings. KC seem to enjoy sharing what they want to share and more importantly they are actively taking notice of us and implementing things we have brought up, for the benefit of everyone connected via Karoo, but the hassle we both get for doing it is sometimes just is not worth it.

They, KC, are listening to us. They are actively looking to sort out any issues raised via us. They are looking to improve their service offerings. They are listening and in some cases implementing things that we have brought up that will make things better for every user. None of this however seems to go down well with the closed group we belong to. No sir. A few are claiming we know nothing about what we talk about at these meetings. One even went to far as to infer that we get backhanders from KC. Sometimes I despair of the group I really do.