Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

A Step Too Far

June 12th, 2006 1 comment

I’ve noticed recently a worrying problem.

Manufacturers have started to get better with their technology, and have started producing cars which do automatic braking.

If you can’t understand me, imagine this. You’re driving your car on a motorway, and are following the car in front. The car in front suddenly pulls an emergency stop. In this situation, a computer can react faster than you can, so an onboard computer applies the brake pedal quicker and stronger than you can, and so slows the car to an immediate stop. For a video showing this in action, check out this Gizmodo page

This technology is currently in development with some manufacturers, but Mercedes Benz have recently released the technology on the new S Class.

Now this sounds all fine and dandy, except something worries me. I’m worried that people will become to used to the technology – that they will rely on the computer to do their work for them, and not on their own senses and intuition. I’m worried people will get into the mentality of “Oh, it’s OK to drive really close to the car in front, the computer will take care of the braking”. I drive a lot everyday (it’s more than a 60 mile round trip to work and back), and I see people do the most stupid things (I’m not saying that I have never done anything stupid myself) just because they weren’t thinking. To relax the brain even more is just asking for trouble.

This worries me because driving is a very analogue, random process. There is no fixed solution for a situation, no simple rules to follow when something occurs. Computers follow rules, humans can deliberately break those rules because, through experience, they know better.

Take for example the new Mercedes S-Class. This takes the braking thing one step further, and can actually follow the car in front. This means it will brake when it needs to, and accelerate when it needs to, and always maintain a safe braking distance. Now this is fine for motorway travel, where you can just put the car in gear and cruise, but imagine what would happen if you came up to a roundabout. The car would follow the car in front, so approaching the roundabout, it would slow as the car in front approached the line. If the car then leaves the line quickly to fit into a space, your car would then follow, and potentially smash into the side of another car.

Not a good plan.

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This is quite funny

May 4th, 2006 No comments

OK, so some fun-loving-hippy has created “One Web Day” where everyone who uses the web can join in harmony, blah blah blah.

What’s funny, is they are suggesting that everyone make the same hand gesture on that day:you extend your middle three fingers and have your thumb and little finger touch in a circle.

That’s all well and dandy, and it’s quite easy to do…. as many people throughout the world will already know…. because it’s exactly the same as the Scout salute. As in Scouts and Guides, Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts, or whatever it’s called in your country.

Stupid people.

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Somebody didn’t think of the name did they!

April 28th, 2006 No comments

OK, heard it on the radio this morning, and now I’m at work, it seems the Internet is somewhat alive with it as well.

The name for Nintendo’s new console is officially “Wii”, as in “we”.

But they didn’t think very hard did they. Not sure whether this is just in the UK, but over here a “wee” means taking a piss. As in, “I’m going for a wee”.

“What do you want for Christmas this year little Johnny?”

“Well Daddy, I want a wee”.

The shameful thing is the working title “Revolution” made me want to buy one. Now I don’t. I really, really don’t. Change it back Nintendo, and stop with the “cute” stuff.

I believe this comment on Gizmodo sums it up quite amusingly

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Google Have an "Amateur" Website?

April 20th, 2006 No comments

Right, I came across this article from some entrepreneur who is reviewing websites of major corporations and comparing them to the websites of smaller companies.

Hi conclusion is that having an “Amateur” website look is better for several reasons. I completely agree with his view-point, but disagree with his conclusions:

  1. The websites he mentions do not have an “Amateurish” look – To say that about PayPal or eBay is ridiculous. In short, they have a simplistic look. I would suggest that the look of these sites is very professional, when compared to other “home made” sites.
  2. There are more technical reasons than his conclusions state – He mentions the idea that websites need to be viewed on many different device now, and that people need information faster. These are both very valid points, but he misses a key reason – Cost. Simple websites are cheaper. The less data that is returned from a home page, the more requests you website can serve per hour meaning cheaper hardware is needed, and you can get the most out of your bandwidth. What is more, simpler websites cost less to develop initially
  3. User Interface – These sites are designed to let people move away from the homepage quickly, and to get them to where the money is to be made (either through purchases, advertising, etc). People don’t stay too long on homepages, they quickly move to their desired place, even though they will mainly type in the homepage URL. So, sites are designed to let people move easily and quickly from their first homepage request.

There is probably plenty of other things that I could say about his conclusions, but they escape me at present.

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This is ridiculous

April 13th, 2006 No comments

OK, I don’t get this guys logic at all.

He’s building his own projector rig for his computer (I’m guessing that he wants to do the whole media centre thing, or may be he just wants to looks at things just that little bit bigger – I don’t know, it’s not the issue though).

So, he decides to take the hard disks out of his case, put them on the floor, and cool them using 4 fans with LEDs on them. He then posts instructions on how to create a switch to turn the lights off.

Why? I mean, why didn’t he just buy fans with no lights on in the first place! It would have been cheaper, plus you’ve made your “cool looking rig” look rubbish by having a huge switch box taped to your desk with loads of leads coming down!

And besides, does a hard disk generate that much heat? To me, it doesn’t really, and if it does, then if it’s outside the case, then it probably doesn’t need cooling, but at most 1 fan should do it!

And I don’t get me started on the whole case mod thing – it’s a collection of Chavs making their computers look “cool” by putting stupid lights on them and making them insanely cold, which won’t affect the performance that much. All the Chavs have done is migrate the “lets de-badge my Saxo and put a skirt and a big exhaust on it – it’ll make it go faster” ethos to their computers!

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Bird Flu Irony?

April 7th, 2006 No comments

Is it only me that notices the irony that the UK health authorities were one day into an exercise to combat a Bird Flu outbreak, when we discover the first case of Bird Flu in the UK?

Hopefully, it’s not a case that a reporter has caught wind of the exercise and thought it was real!

I can imagine the first phone call: “Dave, we’ve got a case here in Fyfe.” “Bloody hell, this exercise is testing us to the limit, Tim.” “No, Dave. This one should be treated as real.” “Yeah, I know, we should do that with all exercises.” “No, Dave. This one is real….” “Yeah, very funny”….

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Worst Directions Ever

March 28th, 2006 No comments

I don’t think these are the worst directions I’ve ever seen (I think the worst were the directions to the Kingston Head race last December), but check out the “How to Get Here” page for Bluewater! It’s crap! The maps are soooo zoomed out, that they are completely useless, and those that are close enough are too small and lack important details!

Sort it out Bluewater!

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How Can I Take This Seriously?

March 14th, 2006 No comments

Thanks to reddit, I found a guide on when to use the correct image format for the web. Technically, the article is correct, and I agree with the cases the guy puts forward for each image type. It’s maybe the not the way I would go about describing the situation, but it’s not factually incorrect.

However, what really worried me was the end of the first paragraph:Yes, this does require a fair bit of reading and understanding, so if you aren’t going to be bothered close your browser now and save my bandwidth.Erm…. too late! It doesn’t make me feel like I’m going to appreciate the technical knowledge of this guy, when his first paragraph gives you a huge clue that the guy doesn’t know how web pages are delivered to browsers! Oh well.

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The Last Question

January 24th, 2006 No comments

The Last Question is a short story by a certain Isaac Asimov. He is quoted as saying that it is his favourite of his short stories, and I can understand why.

I read it this morning, and I’m so impressed by it. It seems to have an amazing naivety to it, for example, the idea of space ships running on coal, humans using up all the uranium in the world for their power needs, and computers no longer needing transistor but instead reverting back to using “micro-valves”, but then you have to remember that the story was written in 1956. What struck me next about the story is it’s amazing insight – there is a casual reference to an “AC-Contact”, which sounds remarkably like a handheld computer, and computer systems that are natural language processors. These are all things that exist today (albeit in a limited capacity to those expressed in the story), that when written would have been considered pure fantasy. There is an amazing realisation brought through from the story that these things will happen, which is something that I had never really thought about before, and the question remains, what will human kind do when these things happen?

Finally, there is the ending. Which is just masterful. It actually reminds me a lot of the computer in “The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy”, but that is a different story.

The introduction contained on the linked page hints to a further underlying theme to the story, which I do have theories about, but I don’t want to spoil the ending….

N.B. This post has been back dated because I didn’t post it properly!

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iWeb Produces Crap Code!

January 13th, 2006 No comments

OK, so iWeb was launched the other day, as part of the new iLife ’06 package, and as soon as it was released people started using it and testing the output.

It appears, according to this post, that it produces some pretty nasty output – or should I say that it is not good engineering practice to produce the same output as iWeb!

However, I think that someone has nailed the situation pretty much on the head in the commentsWell, iWeb was built so that you didn’t have to write any code at all, so why care?

So what if there is some unnecessary code? It is a brand new application, and it gets the job done without the user having to write a line of code.

Posted by: Appleologist at January 12, 2006 09:42 PM

My point is this: Yes, it generates some pretty nasty code (although, full credit to Apple, it does parse correctly and conforms to standards), some of which could be cleaned up easily. But, as quoted, the people that will want to use this application are those people who don’t have enough web experience to develop this kind of site on their own, and so don’t care about what it generates – just as long as it looks good on their screen. The site will use up more web space, and more bandwidth, in order to host it, but not that much more.

The people that are commenting on the quality of the code, are going to be those people that know how to produce websites efficiently and correctly, and are people that care about the amount of bandwidth that their company uses, because bandwidth costs money.

Not having used iWeb, I can’t really comment on the use of the application, or it’s intended market, but from the evidence that I have seen, and my perceived target user based for the app, I would say that it does a pretty good job.

(Note To Apple: Please just tidy up the code a little, and get rid of that damn “Generator” tag – that thing just stinks of “Frontpage”!)

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