Sign of the times

August 17th, 2014

My programmable remote control has shortcuts for various activities:

  • Watch Roku
  • Watch Mac Mini
  • Watch a disk
  • Watch live TV

For the last year or so, ‘Watch live TV’ has been relegated to the second page… and I don’t think I’ve used it…

2014-08-17-16.10.53

The REAL Cliff Richard story

August 16th, 2014

I have no idea whether Sir Cliff Richard really had some indiscretions a quarter of a century ago with someone marginally under the legal age limit, and frankly I don’t care.

What I do care about is the way our legal system now favours trial by “twelve good tabloids and true”. Geoffrey Robertson’s excellent article in the Independent describes how the law works for celebrities now. Worth reading.

The fruits of their labours

August 7th, 2014

There’s a rather charming, and thought-provoking, video here. A reporter goes to the Ivory Coast, meets with some cocoa farmers, and gives them something they’ve never had before…

Chocolate.

All-you-can-eat books

July 26th, 2014

John Naughton’s Observer column this week discusses the leaked plans for Amazon’s ‘Kindle Unlimited’ service.

Amazon’s move will be as discombobulating for the book publishing industry as the advent of Spotify was for the music industry.

The analogy is a good one. Creative content is being commoditised: as a rough approximation, you can’t make money from selling music any more, only from going on tours. You can’t make a living from selling photos, only from running photography workshops. And for some time it’s been pretty rare for anyone to be the family bread-winner by writing books — you also need to teach creative writing at the local Further-Ed college — but I think it’s going to become much rarer. Expect authors to start charging a lot more for their appearances at literary festivals.

And, lest you think, “Oh, this isjust a wild idea from somebody in marketing that was leaked by accident”, it has now been launched in the US. Six quid a month for all the books you can read, available instantly.

Just think what those monks in the scriptoria would have said.

Visualising your Paperless Workflow

July 12th, 2014

On episode 191 of Mac Power Users, I described how I found it useful to be able to visualise the various steps of my automated ‘paperless workflow’. (Something I also wrote about here on Status-Q last year.)

A few people asked for more details, so here’s a 9-minute screencast going into some of the details.

Also available on Vimeo for the media cognoscenti!

Music Nerd

June 17th, 2014

SONOS-PLAY3-and-BRIDGE.jpgLike most people who own Sonos kit, I’m a big fan of my loudspeakers and amps. They work beautifully, and sound great.

However, I suspect most of their users would be less interested than me to discover that by pointing a browser at ip_addr:1400/status I can discover, for example, which version of the Linux kernel each loudspeaker is running, and the fact that they seem to incorporate an accelerometer.

I couldn’t do that with my old record deck, now, could I?

Where is everybody?

June 15th, 2014

If we’re right that there are 100,000 or more intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, and even a fraction of them are sending out radio waves or laser beams or other modes of attempting to contact others, shouldn’t SETI’s satellite array pick up all kinds of signals?

But it hasn’t. Not one. Ever.

Where is everybody?

That question (or a variant of it) is known as The Fermi Paradox, and the above quote is taken from this rather nice and very readable article which outlines some of the big questions and possible answers.

Many thanks to Michael Fraser for the link.

When the law is an ass…

June 7th, 2014

Some patent lawyers sent me a few bits of paper this week.

20140605-09321102-600

I reckon there’s well over 1000 pages here, shipped at, I imagine, vast expense all the way from Atlanta to my recycling bin here in Cambridge. The big box in the foreground brought them here. The slim envelope in the background is for returning the half-dozen pages that actually need my signature.

I’m not blaming this particular firm for this foolishness: they are probably obliged to provide me with hard copies by some outdated regulation kept in existence by extensive lobbying from FedEx and Xerox. But you’d think they could find an alternative. Like emailing PDFs. Especially since (a) I don’t need to read them to sign the bits of paper and (b) their client is Google…

Anyway, now you know where the trees have gone.

What Ike was like

June 7th, 2014

This is a splendid article by Val Lauder, about Eisenhower’s personal feelings on the D-Day landings.

When we passed 45 minutes, and he could no longer ignore his aide’s anything-but-subtle glances at his watch, Ike said he would take three more questions. I do not remember the first two. Nor will I ever forget the last one.

Strongly recommended.

My father-in-law was one of the 101st Airborne paratroopers to drop behind the lines.

No fond return of love

June 3rd, 2014

Mrs Beltane … was an elegant blue-haired, stiffly-moving woman of about sixty, who imagined herself to have seen better days.

I do like Barbara Pym.

Ring cycle

June 2nd, 2014

There are three different organisations that send me their publication, called ‘The Ring’, from time to time. Yes, three different publications.

Each of them no doubt had a witty and original reason for coming up with the name, but I also can’t help feeling that some classic text on “how to run a successful development office” must emphasise the need for names that make your members feel part of an elite circle, an inner ring…

Anyway, since these three are amongst the very few things that come through my door and don’t go straight to the recycling, I must just get used to the fact that all my reading matter has this somewhat toroidal flavour.

But perhaps I need one ring to rule them all…

The summer of our dis-content?

May 31st, 2014

Is this a bug, or a marketing cliff-hanger from Apple, do you think?