Dec
08
2008

Censorship fail

WARNING: Some links on this page may offend some (probably won’t, but may)

Censorship is a big thing on the web these days. We have always seen the Internet as freedom of information. You connect up to the tube and then you have all the information (good or bad) within your grasp. When the likes of China and Australia to name but a few start to mess with this model we all get slightly edgy. For a time Net neutrality was the chief threat to the freedoms of the web, but thanks to a recent political change in the US this is unlikely to come into play in the near future.

With all this in mind when Censorship starts to come home and starts to involve that cornerstone of Internet free speech Wikipedia we all start to get more than a little edge. This is clear by the number of articles I have read on this so far.

So, to the problem. If you visit the following link you should find it is blank:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Killer

This is because it has been classed by IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) as child pornography. It is a picture of a mostly naked prepubescent girl. Now traditionally this would be fine, censoring child porn by anyone’s standards should be fine. But in this case the album cover, although banned in many countries, was never banned over here. It has caused outrage a few times, but nothing significant. Yet suddenly our wise and mighty Internet filters have deemed it to be too much for us now, despite it being around and never banned for a number of years.

What makes this whole mess even more strange/farcical is that they failed with their censorship.

The following link is the secure version of the page on Wikipedia:

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Virgin_Killer (this one will almost certainly work for you)

This whole mess has made it into the public eye, for example, the BBC has this page on it:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7770456.stm

Note on the right there is a related link to the Scorpions homepage. If you click on that (here) you will note on the left a discography, which in turn also has the banned image on it.

So what the IWF has shown is you can not censor the web and in by trying to censor information that has been in  public domain for years, all you actually do is drag it up and draw more attention to it. People got over this in the past enough for most countries not to act, why do we suddenly need protecting?

Dec
08
2008

Where do you lie?

Myself and Dan (one of my housemates) just had a very long, very philosophical, very confusing and brain bending discussion which I will do my best to explain.

We began talking about wether you should require users to have JavaScript running in their browser so they can log in and fully use a website, or wether you should put considerable pain into working on a solution which will work without for those without it. Those without it number in the 0.01 percentile or thereabouts and make up, for the most part an insignificant proportion of the population, but still a proportion none the less.

My opinion is that these people should be dropped for the sake of simplicity of your code solution and to push JavaScript to the few who don’t have it. Dan’s opinion was that we should work to maintain the web in its most basic form despite the complication as to allow those people to continue to function within it. I believe that opinion is correct anyway.

Actually, speaking of correct opinion, when it was clear neither of us was making much headway convincing the other to their point of view we began to discus what made up a point of view, wether one could ever be wrong and what the differences were between belief and knowledge.

This then moved the conversation into religion, and what constitutes right and wrong.

Some time later we moved back to our original discussion and linked our views on it to our core beliefs. Dan is a Humanist and believes that that good of the many outweighs the few, and in his example he described the analogy of someone making too much noise on a train. If he silenced this person then it would benefit the whole carriage. I then pointed out that his analogy then brought us back to the original question but arguing against his earlier point of view by suggest that he was smiting the one to make the systems better for the many (which is not quite true, but for the level of abstraction we had reached was close enough). He then points out that he would weight this decision in the favour of the one person and do his best to help them (in this case our one non-JavaScript fan). At the point he mentioned the favouring of the one over the many in this case I brought up the point of being extrovert and introvert. In his case he is defiantly introvert and as such puts his weight behind the one. In the case of the web (which tends to follow the argument I was making originally) it is mainly made up of people with something to say (blog and alike) and as such, extroverts who are more interested in the opinions and the good of the many.

OK, that is complicated and the best I can do to paraphrase about an hour and a half of at times deep and philosophical and at other times, deep and technical discursion in the small hours.

Who says computing people aren’t fun!

Dec
07
2008

Too afraid to do anything

I suggest you read this article from the times:

 http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/relationships/article5288060.ece

It is about how as a society we are becoming all too cautious, how we are scared to touch people, children in particular for fear of being seen as trying to abduct them or being classed as a child molester or something else not only perverse but also wrong. It is about how children are kept indoors for fear about what might happen to them outside.

I used to help in the Beaver Scout which is boys from 6-8 years old. I helped there for years and constantly came up against this fear. For example, you would never put yourself in a situation where you were alone with a child or even a group of children. we couldn’t hug them or comfort them (yes, little boys do cry), hell, even some of them games were made too complicated. For example, we had one game called tails where they had a sock sticking out the back of their trousers like a tail, then “catchers” had to run round and grab all the tails they could. This if fine, but what happens when a child can’t get their tail in correctly, do we just stand there and list instructions? In fact we used to get one of the female leaders to deal with it. They understood why we got them to do that, but still, we shouldn’t even have to think about such things.

I can think of many times in the past where I have been in town or a public place, seen a child seemingly on their own and not gone over to help. instead I have looked around to see if I can identify the parents. Even waited until they do turn up so as not to go over to the child. I fear that if I did just as that parent turned up I would be shouted at, branded etc just for trying to provide honest help. After all, how are they to know my intentions.

Of course this isn’t just our fault, this is fuelled by government. This about how much use the CRB is for example. All it says is that at that time I haven’t been caught doing anything wrong to children that could have me prosecuted. How many people does CRB actually stop I wonder. We are talking about convicted child molesters etc who then seek work with children etc. I am guessing not many. And even if it didn’t stop them, I have just said that you never get left in a room alone with children anyway. In short, the CRB is a worthless bit of paper that does nothing more than make us feel a little safer from something that doesn’t exist.

I feel for the children growing up in this mess. I would give them a hug and say it will all be OK, but I can’t…

Nov
12
2008

Stop making my life hard!

I cannot think of a harsh enough punishment for the person at Adobe thought when I selected that I wanted 2 copies of pages 7-16 from a PDF I meant I wanted it printed like so:

page 7

page 7

page 8

page 8

page 9

page 9

… you get the idea…

What were they thinking!

Oct
28
2008

Right or left?

OK, we must all be familiar with the concept of right brain or left brain. This is where different sides of your brain perform different functions and the side of your brain that is used more tells us something about which you lean in things like logic and feeling or being safe or a risk taker.

So, I came across this test here. Basically it has a girl spinning and depending on which way you see her spin determines which side of your brain you use more. Apparently most people see her rotate anti-clockwise. Clockwise is for people who are right brained, and anti-clockwise is for people who are left brained.

dancing_girl

Here is a table of attributes which each side is meant to show you have:

Left brain functionsRight brain functions
Uses logicUses feelings
Detail orientated“Big picture” orientated
Facts ruleImagination rules
Words and languageSymbols and images
Present and pastPresent and future
Maths and sciencePhilosophy and religion
Can comprehendCan “get it” (i.e meaning)
KnowingBelieves
AcknowledgesAppreciates
Order/pattern perceptionSpatial perception
Knows object nameKnows object function
Reality basedFantasy based
Forms strategiesPresents possibilities
PracticalImpetuous
SafeRisk taking

I have now been looking at this test for some time. It is driving me a little mad. I see the girl spin in both directions, I can make her change direction or keep her spinning the same way by thinking about it. Every time I glance at the image she is spinning a different way.

Then I thought I would identify which side I am by reading through the table. I think I know why she spins both ways for me. I split almost perfectly down the middle with that table. Many I an neither one nor the other and for the rest I have an even number of both sides.

Jun
05
2007

42009

I can’t help but notice there are a lot more homeless people in London during the summer. Do they fly south for the winter or something?

Jan
26
2007

Tinned meat product

Attention all spammers

Most men in their early twenties do not need Viagra.

I would however love to understand how it is you sell “premium quality” stuff? Myself I assumed it either was Viagra or it wasn’t.

As a side note, I’m not overly interested in Valium at 10mg for $2. If you pushed that to 20mg though you might have a deal…

Jan
18
2007

39138

In the US it is a God given right to proclaim there is no God… What a wonderful irony….

Dec
30
2006

36622

One of the guys at work is an atheist and he was talking about the idea of God being perfect. He then posed the question “If God is perfect, and we are made in his image, why did he put the balls on the outside?” I think this is possibly the best question posed by an atheist… ever

On another note, why do animal rights protestors complain when they see a fur coat, but not a leather one? Surely if they are to have any credibility they should care about cows just as much as the cute creatures.

Dec
18
2006

35856

I think all computer users who can get onto the internet should be made to pass a maturity test before they are allowed to use their caps-lock key.

Dec
13
2006

cellular

Why do we die? I know this sounds like a silly Craig question…but think for a moment…. As far as I can tell with my stunning history of biology lessons you die because your body gives up, your organs can’t last forever right? Parts become worn out and can no longer perform their tasks very well and so eventually they all add up.

Did you know that the last person in the US to die of natural causes was in the 50’s… Now my first (rather stupid) thought was how bad the general populous’ health has got in the states as they all must be fat etc. The actual reason is because they started to record more information. So for example a heart attack is natural, as are some cancers (depending on their cause)… You get the idea.

What I don’t understand is why a heart attack can happen say after you are 50, yet before that you almost never have them. Now if I’m being wrong here do tell me, but as far as I remember a heart attack is caused by the clogging of a couple of arteries around the heart. So why isn’t our blood filtered to stop this…. It seems pretty sensible to me. Or how about our skin. Now we have 7 layers (give or take) and we loose on average one a month to be replaced with a nice new one. So why the hell does it wrinkle?

Actually, I’m going to stop typing this, I think all I’m actually showing is how little I know about how the body functions. The point I was trying to make was why do we die when all our cells seem perfectly capable or regenerating.

Nov
30
2006

LJ People

Does a journal post have to tell you what I’ve been doing? I have noticed that almost every post in my friends list from peoples personal journals is normally either a musing from their daily life with some small explanation or a full-on detailed post with everything they have been doing over the past couple of weeks since they last tended to their journals.

I note that a much higher proportion of my entries don’t fit into either of those main categories. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend to be anything as glamorous as a “trend setter” etc but it does strike me that this is different. So are we generally more interested in what’s going on in peoples lives or do we care more what they think? Well the general populous’ lust for celebrity gossip etc seems to suggest the former to me. This to me seems wrong, like we are focusing on things that matter less. Having said that, is what they are actually upto of greater significance to us than what they think? I wonder if really we are just brainwashed by “intelligence society” to think that we should care more what other think. After all, which is more likely to influence you more, someone’s thoughts or their actions? As much as I think I should be saying thoughts I doubt this is the case.

On the subject of othe people and their actions etc. Have you ever just stared at a crowd of people and then picked out a few people and watched them intently? Who needs the internet… I have enough entertainment right here on the station platform…

Sep
22
2006

It’s an IT thing

I like IT people. I like them for one great attribute that seems rare these days. It’s an attribute that anyone can have and it costs nothing. It even requires no work whatsoever to acquire. They are quiet. Simple as that. They do not feel the need to shout across the room to make sure everyone hears they have just come out of meeting that will change the business forever, stand in time as a revolutionary moment in the businesses life. They just get on with the job and talk at a required level. This is the problem with other people in the city. They are big, brash, loud in order to be heard and promoted. Interestingly and rather coincidently they are also all wankers. The sort of people you would meet in the street and be glad you don’t have to see them again. They don’t just get the job done like in IT, they talk about the job, decide how important it is, argue with their alpha male attributes how each part of the job should be done etc. Then out they come from their meeting still spewing business “buzz words”. This issue has never really existed in IT. If you are good at your job then let you keep doing it and just give you different titles to get you up the pay grades. If you are crap at IT they put you out of the way in management where you do the least management. Oh how I wish all industries would be like IT (without perhaps the painful speed it moves at).

May
29
2006

Entry is highly restricted

How do you write your entries?

I ask this because I wonder quite how alone in my method I really am. I regularly find my mind wander (as it often does) and then I think to myself whatever subject I’m pondering would make a good journal entry. It is at this point I start to write it in my head. Now this is where the problems start. I plan in my head to quite some level of detail. I don’t mean to, it just happens automatically. From here it moves in one of three directions. I either forget about it completely which is what normally happens, write a few key words or lines on a scrap of paper, or finally get to a computer and start typing. Now with the two latter options I have real problems. When I type up I try and remember the version I had in my head, word for word in many cases. When I put thought to keyboard it never comes out in quite the same way, I think its because I’m trying to remember what I thought, not think about whatever it was in the first place. This often leads to slightly scatty entries that tail off at the need as my short term memory fails me.

Last night in a little moment of annoyance I wrote a glorified complaint against the big brother program and the people in/on it. Now this was a rather directional attack, I think perhaps a more general one is required. I have just watched what seems to be yet another apprentice style programs. This is maybe the 5th or 6th one I have seen with exactly the same style. Its actually at the point where I’m not sure if they are a joke of those before them. Considering they keep coming I shall assume not. A joke of a joke is one thing, but a joke of a joke of a joke is a considerably large step too far (even for TV).

Now is it TV producers pushing these shit programs forward on the back of their predecessors success, or are the public actually demanding this drivel?

I’m sure the big TV companies/networks/producers have enough spare money to indulge in a few new ideas, you never know, they may even work. I’m just getting tired of seeing an innovative format being copied to death. Thinking about it, I’m just tired. I suppose I have answered my question there then, I write my entries when I’m tired.

Mar
14
2006

It’s the little things…

Did you know that the atom is in fact not atomic…..

It’s wonderful the things they can teach you in databases lectures nowadays….

Atomic means “cannot be split up” and as we all know, Rutherford split the atom in 1911.