Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cuiling off...

Roughly a month after its launch, Cuil isn't living up to the hype - notes the falling share of searches performed using Cuil, which is not surprising, given problems present on the launchday of a search engine hyped as the "Google killer".

Another of their claims doesn't seem to stand up to scrutiny either!

It isn't even on Craggy Island...

Some things are so surreal as to not only be beyond parody, but reality itself.

Disgraceful scandal

Wednesday blogged a week ago on what should be a major scandal - a victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation has been charged with failing to produce a passport or other form of identification.

Firstly, this charge is unjust and an act of such incredible stupidity that it beggars belief.

Secondly, why the hell isn't this a major news item? Are the Olympics so important that this grotesque, bizarre travesty of justice doesn't get mentioned?


Talk like a pirate day is on September 19th - yarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bank decides password is pants...

A LLoyds TSB customer had his telephone banking password unexpectedly changed.

Farewell, Ronnie

Ronnie Drew has died, leaving Barney McKenna as the sole surviving member of The Dubliners.

Fintan O'Toole has written a good piece about him. There's also an editorial.

Farewell, Ronnie!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chiropractors versus Simon Singh

Simon Singh is being sued for libel over an article (with references added by gimpy) he wrote for the Guardian. (The original article has been removed from the Guardian website - a cached copy can be found here thanks to Svetlana. Unity at Ministry of Truth has provided even more annotation in Can you libel Woo?)

Jack of Kent is following it from a legal angle. Holford Watch has an incredibly comprehensive list article with links to bloggers covering it.

Hopefully the lawsuit will fail and Simon will be vindicated.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ceremonies today and Sunday

A ceremony begins in a few minutes in Omagh, which has proved controversial. Some have objected to the wording of a new memorial, which reworded a reference in an earlier memorial to the dead who were 'murdered by a dissident republican terrorist car bomb'.

Two ceremonies are to be held, the second on Sunday at which some clergy who didn't originally plan to attend will now do so.

On dealing with the unspeakable

I have noticed online that supporters of the self-proclaimed 32 County Sovereignty Movement as well as supporters of Michael McKevitt have whined that the Real Irish Republican Army is being "framed" for the Omagh bombing. They blame everyone bar their "heroes". They nauseate me.

How to deal with these despicable cranks if I encounter them in person, handing out leaflets on the street?

  • Don't stoop to their level - if anger rises, stuff fists in pockets.
  • Don't give them the satisfaction of listening to their conspiracies - walk on.
  • Above all else, strive to be better than them - their "heroes" committed an atrocity in self-righteous anger, so avoid acting in self-righteous anger as much as humanly possible.

It's not easy, but it's something to aim for.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Consider a photograph

You've probably seen this photo many times before: in the foreground a father with his daughter perched on his shoulders, both looking at the camera.

The background is a street in a town - it stretches off into the distance with cars parked at the side of the road, a row of cars stopped at a junction. In the middle distance on the left can be seen a street, possibly Drumragh Avenue.

People can be seen walking down the street on the left hand side of the photo, while on the right some are about to cross the street while others walk along the pavement. Someone hurries across, partly obscured by a car, while a man in a flat cap also crosses the street.

The car on the right is a red Vauxhall Cavalier, its licence plate clearly visible. Minutes later, the car became shrapnel, the bomb it carried detonating at approximately 15:10.

Three telephone warnings were made:

  • "There's a bomb, courthouse, Omagh, main street, 500 lb (230 kg), explosion 30 minutes." - to Ulster Television at 14:32.
  • "Bomb, Omagh town, 15 minutes" - again to UTV, one minute later.
  • The Coleraine office of the Samaritans was also rung, giving the location of the bomb as on "main street", 200 yards (180m) from the courthouse.

The bomb was, in fact, 400m from the courthouse - apparently the perpetrators couldn't park there, so they parked further away and gave vague, inaccurate, indeed contradictory warnings.

The courthouse is at the junction of High Street, Georges' Street and John Street - the bomb was placed on Market Street. The third of the warnings above place the bomb at the junction of High Street, Market Street and Scarffe's Entry. Even though it gave a location that was closer than the others, the actual location was about twice as far from the courthouse as claimed.

But the perpetrators's mistakes cost others their lives, many survivors their health and caused much heartbreak.

The criminal investigation into the bombing has foundered - the police in Northern Ireland have been criticised for ignoring intelligence that a bombing was imminent and other aspects of handling the case. The have managed to make an investigation that eventually led Michael McKevitt, leader of the organisation responsible for the bombing, being convicted of directing terrorism. That is something, at least.

A row has erupted over the wording on the memorial and there are two memorial services which there have been arguments over.

It's now half-an-hour to the tenth anniversarary of this atrocity. I hope that the relatives taking the civil case get some measure of justice - it'll be won't bring back those murdered, nor will it heal the scars, physical and mental, or the heartbreak of survivors. It will be something, no matter how small.

Monday, August 11, 2008

War, blood, oil

I don't claim to understand the current war between Georgia and Russia - I know that the area has been under Russian control since the 1860s, but I don't know what motives drive the current war or even who to believe about who started it.

Thousands are suffering, mainly civilians.

The war could force the price of natural gas up, along with the price of oil. Russia may come out stronger economically because of this.

How long will industries survive with the fuels that support them going up in price? I don't know. I don't know how far away peak oil is, but the rising cost of energy makes it more expensive to send raw materials to be processed to make what we live from.

I hope this doesn't cause a worldwide recession.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I have been assimilated!

I've wondered about twitter, then thought it wasn't of any interest. I looked at and Twitter search and saw that a couple of friends were on twitter and that space news could be gotten from it. I eventually decided to sign up to see what it's like, if I can get something out of it.

Here's my link.

Some people have no sense of humour...

It's a few years old, but this proves that some have no sense of humour (or irony).

It's a bit Father Ted

It is interesting to note that while 90% of people stated
that they were Catholic in the 2006 census, a Europoll
conducted several months earlier found that just 72%
of people believe there is a God. Which appears to
suggest there are a good many Catholics in Ireland
who don't believe in God.

To quote a friend:
That would be an ecumenical matter!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

When thugs win

Jeff Atwood blogged about bloggers who quit because of harassment - by coincidence, one of those who was involved in the harassment of Kathy Sierra was interviewed in an article in the New York Times. As Justin says - what sick /b/tards.

It doesn't take long to find some of the sickening comments that made Kathy Sierra leave - they nauseate me, though not as much as the jerk who made them. One of the people interviewed talked of exploiting the insecurities of a "blowhard" (basically anyone they don't like) to get "laughs and lulz" - someone who I wouldn't want to meet on a street in broad daylight, let alone in a dark alleyway.

One comment on Coding Horror said:
I never really understood how that whole Kathy Sierra thing got started. I mean, she must've said something to piss these people off, but I have no idea what that might've been -- any ideas?

The person who said that just doesn't get it: you don't have to piss someone off - they take a dislike to you for no good reason - maybe they have a chip on their shoulder, maybe they rationalise their thuggery by claiming it in the name of an ideology (and don't benefit those they claim to fight on behalf of), maybe they're a bored jackass - ultimately they pick one someone for no good reason.

That's the frightening thing - you might do nothing wrong, yet one of these thugs think you "deserve it" and make life hell for you.

You're not getting it!!!

Jeff Atwood blogs about a practice that goes against security best practices - as does Jivlain. After all, email often contains personal information - it is also where most of us get forgotten passwords (e.g. Wikipedia) sent to. It's a social network antipattern - some services spam your contacts after getting the list.

Even if the site in question has the best intentions in the world, someone who compromises their security will see email passwords of their users.

Sites like this aren't going to get my password!

What alternatives are there? How about using existing APIs:
Google contact API
Yahoo contact API
Windows Live contacts API

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Twitter haiku

Twitter puzzles me
short messages - cryptic text
message not fit in it!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Needle in a virtual haystack

A friend gave me an excellent example of this last week: try looking up the details of the branch of a famous hotel in the French capital - it'll be drowned out by "information" about a certain pointless celebrity...