06 June 2008

Big Brother...

No not, Channel 4's attempt to turn the nation in to one populated by knuckle-draggers.

I noticed this article today, and I am of two minds. While copyright theft is a concern, especially for newly emerging "talents", I am against the wholesale admonishment of people that do download music and or movies. For example, if someone wanted to buy a movie and discovered that the DVD had been deleted and was no longer available, I believe that they should be able to download it. Of course, that is not to say that BPI, etc would necessarily agree with that theory, so if they want to prevent illegal downloading, they need to extend consumer choice by providing catalogues of older material and charging people to download them. Everyone would be a winner...

Of course, there is also the issue of DRM and what not but that's not likely to be fixed anytime soon.

28 March 2008

One Mighty White Elephant

Reading the paper this morning, I saw this article about an airborne laser "gun" designed to kill tanks from 10 miles (15kms) away. Pretty impressive considering that tank armour can be 300mm thick and beyond.

Whilst a great idea in theory, and obviously big-shiny technology always looks impressive (which is why billions are spent on high-tech planes rather than making them cheaper and in greater quantities), I do feel that this plane is going to be rather limited as it is totally reliant on air superiority.

Currently it is mounted on a converted 747, with plans to later fit in to the venerable Hercules. Certainly on my travels, I have not considered the 747 to be the most agile of craft and while 10 miles sounds like a considerable distance, it is not that deep for a battlefield as they can stretch to several miles by the time reserves are taken into consideration. As such, its use is going to be limited to insurgent situations and the flight crew will have to hope like hell that they don't possess any cheap anti-aircraft missiles, which the US government would have in no way supplied to them. And if you believe what's in store for the future, it's not going to be of much use.

Even assuming that the future is not so bleak, the limits of the laser means that at maximum range the laser is going to be degraded substantially by atmospheric conditions (smoke and dust from the battlefield, water vapour in the atmosphere), which will causing "blooming" and reduce the effectiveness of the beam. Still, with a skilled controller they should be able to beam "USA! USA! USA!" into the clouds.

20 March 2008

Find dodgy content faster!

I read this interesting piece in the Telegraph this morning. In a nutshell, the future Internet will allow you to enter a single search term and it will lead you to all related content. So far example, type in "Mel Gibson" and it will return his biography, options to buy his back catalogue and links to religious nutjob websites.

The article also discusses the possibility of linking bank accounts to online calendars and photo collections, so that you can see the impact that a holiday had on your bank account. Leaving aside the privacy issues, I am not exactly sure how that will be of benefit. After getting back from a pleasant holiday, the last thing I want is a reminder of the damage it did to my meagre funds. Still, it could persuade people not to holiday so much - ah, it's part of the Greenie agenda!

27 February 2008

The return of centralised Government?

Having announced that the ailing Northern Rock will now be nationalised due to the massive amounts of taxpayers money dropped into it, it is possible that the Politburo has got it sights on an even bigger target.

Although nothing has officially been announced, the stripping of the rail operators licence would easily allow the government to nationalise First Great Western, setting a precedent for all the other rail franchises that are failing to deliver. The rights and wrongs of privatised rail services vs. nationalised services can be debated, however the fact remains that a time when government bank balances are written exclusively in red (thanks to the previous Chancellor, now Prime Minister), increasing the public debt to fulfil an ideological desire is at best, foolish.

Hopefully, the Government will see sense and realise that nationalisation failed the country in the 60s & 70s and therefore does not need a repeat performance.

07 February 2008

Next stop, franchising...

I was happily surfing the 'net today and found saw this disturbing piece. The Premiere League today agreed in principle for each to team to have to play an additional match. Opposing teams will be selected by a random draw, and the game will then be played on neutral territory - not Wembley, not the Millenium Stadium but virtually any country on the planet, in any city. The Premiere League's motivation for this is that it will give fans in overseas countries the opportunity to see a live game. In my opinion, there are several problems with this idea, a few of them are:
  1. Local leagues not appreciating the intrusion. Whichever country is hosting a game, it will mean revenues for that local league are likely to be negatively affected. The rationale for this is that fans will pay more to watch the Premiership game, and therefore not attend local fixtures. Additionaly, sponsors would rather put their money towards something that is going to get a world-wide screening.
  2. Fixture congestion getting worse. Premiership teams can currently expect play games in (depending on their position) the Premiership, the FA cup, the Coca Cola cup, the Champions League or UEFA cup and pre-season friendlies/tournaments. Add to this, International commitments and the players themselves are going to be reaching a point of burn-out very much earlier in the seasons, and potentially their careers.
  3. Local teams draw local fans. Something that is apparently hard to fathom for some, but (with a few notable exceptions), a team's fanbase comes from the immediate vicinity surrounding it. Is a Wigan - Derby match played in Bangkok going draw local interest? No disrespect to either team, but they do not have "marquee players" like Ronaldo, Rooney, etc.

I hope the Premiership see sense and avoid this stupid idea. However, their Chief Executive (Scudamore) seems to have little respect for the common fan, even though they were the ones that got him here in the first place.

02 January 2008

Predictions for 2008

As it is the start of the year, I thought I would put down a few predictions for the year ahead. I am no Mystic Meg, and most of it is pretty much guesswork so I don't know how accurate I will be.

  • Premier League winners: everyone seems to think it will be Man Utd or Arsenal. I don't know though, I can see Derby having a good run of form. Failing that and a few intimidated referees later, Chelsea do have an outside chance out of the remaining 2 in the top 4. So, let's go with Arsenal.
  • FA cup winners: I would like to see an outside team win it, but I think Chelsea may have the edge as they tend to do well in tournaments.
  • Champions League: I will say this much, it won't be an English team.
  • England team: a year of optimism for future will be brought to a stuttering halt by a few players continuing to not find form. Rooney to become a super sub, Lampard to dropped completely after a dismal performance against Switzerland.
  • UK election: not while Gordon Brown is in power. If one is called, a slim majority for the Conservative party (maybe a hung Parliament?) with Labour losing out to both Tories and Liberals.
  • US election: isn't there one due soon? Don't know if it is this year or not, but if so, expect the Republicans to retain by 1% again, after multiple recounts, suing of the balloting machine developers and within 2 months everyone complaining that they didn't vote for them. The Democrats will blame Michael Moore for losing them votes.
  • Middle East: more of the same, I'm afraid.
  • Australia: they have just had an election, so they will be happy for a bit longer.


  • Housing: prices down, then up, then down, then up. Then everyone will realise that Halifax's economic predictor is suffering from a previously unseen Y2K bug.
  • High-street spending: more on-line spending leads to less high street spending. By the end of the year, queues at on-line checkouts match high street stores.


  • Facebook: mass desertions as everyone gets tired of being poked, bitten by Vampires and receiving dubious "do you find me hot?" requests. That, and people read the privacy statement.
  • iPhone: new one introduced, the world goes crazy. Steve Jobs has more followers than Ghandi, is canonised by the Pope, starts managing the US Football team, forms a US cricket team, cures cancer, etc...
  • Next big thing: not sure. Last year it was Facebook and the year before that You Tube, as a guess I will go with an application that syncs all your contacts, emails, instant messages, calendars, etc across work and home, mobile phone, etc. There are a few options already available in this field, but none of them have really taken off yet.
  • This blog: sporadically updated ;)

I will try and remember to check these out at the end of the year.