Archive by Author

Virtual Monopoly

2 May

Over the years Facebook has come in for a fair amount of stick over its privacy policies and settings. Some of it with a certain amount of justification, some not so much.

To me, one of the real problems with Facebook’s privacy settings isn’t one that people would necessarily think of. It speaks to the ways in which people interact with their friends on Facebook and the tools they use to do so.

In your Privacy Settings, under “Apps”, you have a series of check boxes for “Apps others use”.

According to Facebook (quoted on May 2, 2013, in case it changes in the future) “People on Facebook who can see your info can bring it with them when they use apps. This makes their experience better and more social. Use the settings below to control the categories of information that people can bring with them when they use apps, games and websites.”

I understand that people may want to be careful what they let their “friends” see but an unhappy side-effect of this is that locking down the above setting means that your information only shows up on the Facebook website and the official apps. No-one can see what you post if they’re using a social network aggregator like Hoot Suite, or if they’re using a third-party mobile app like Friendcaster. This a pain. At least it is for some of us. The Facebook android app has got better over the years but I still don’t necessarily like to have to use it to make sure that I don’t miss something important. Similarly, I’d be happy enough to be able to keep up with what everyone is posting without needing to go to

Yes, be careful what you let people see on Facebook but let’s not be overcareful. This option ties people into Facebook, creating a virtual monopoly (pun intended).


Space Ritual

12 Feb

I’m not a great lover of Apple products. To me, they’re an over-priced triumph of style over function. Now, I appreciate that not everyone shares that view and they’re entirely entitled to their opinion. You can’t knock that kind of success, right?

Bearing that in mind, I was surprised that a recent announcement from the Cupertino Kids caught my eye. In fact it made me very happy. Having started this waffle off by saying that I’m not an Apple fan I have to admit that I own an iPod. The iPod Classic. No, I didn’t buy it, it was bought for me as a gift and the fact that the most efficient way to manage music on it is through iTunes causes me great pain. You try iTunes for Windows – it’s a horrible piece of software. Anyway.

The great thing that the iPod Classic has going for it is the amount of storage space it has – 160GB on the model I own. It’s about 3/4 full, all music, and has just over 14,000 songs on. When you consider that this includes 30 or 40 minute versions of things like Space Truckin’ and No Quarter (Google them if you don’t know them!) then that’s a lot of vibes, man. An entire music collection that 30 years ago would’ve taken a small room to hold, stored on something that’s about the size of a pack of 20 cigarettes. Do I need to carry 14,000 songs around with me? Am I going to listen to all of them before I get back home again? Obviously not. Don’t be silly. The point here is about choice. I don’t want to sit at home in the evening and load songs onto a low-capacity player, only to get onto a bus the next day and find that I fancy listening to something that’s not on there. If I own music ranging from Abba and Bach to Yost and ZZ Top why should I have to pick and choose in advance?

I hear you – “Spotify“, you cry. “Grooveshark“, said someone. There’s more than a few people there with Amazon Cloud Player placards as well. You can keep ’em. Cloud storage is all very well but it presupposes that I have constant access to some kind of internet connection and that if it’s not a Wifi network that I have a device with a truly unlimited data plan. That’s not always practical, possible or desirable. Internal storage. That’s what I want. Space.

Which brings me back to Apple and my iPod. If you’re looking for a high-capacity media player then your choices are limited. Just check. Go on, do some research. See? The iPod Classic is pretty much your only choice if you want to carry a shitload of music around with you. Fine, so I like that my iPod has deep pockets. The trend recently has been to the cloud. This is why I was so pleased to read that Apple has announced a 128GB version of the fourth generation iPad. Am I going to buy one? Hell, no. I wouldn’t want any kind of tablet computer. My point is that if a major player like Apple (and I’ll concede that that’s what they are) are launching a version of one of their flagship devices with that amount of onboard storage then there’s a fair chance that some of the others might just tag along. There’s a market there, clearly. It ain’t only me!

So, on this occasion, yay for Apple. Now someone bring out a 128gb micro-sd card that’ll go in my phone and I’ll be laughing.

Parents ‘powerless to bring up their children’ | UK News | The Observer

12 Nov

Many parents have lost confidence in how to bring up their children properly and feel inadequate, isolated and unsupported in coping with the pressures of modern family life, the government has warned. Mothers and fathers often feel ‘disempowered’ as parents, and find it particularly difficult to enforce rules so their child does not misbehave, according to Beverley Hughes, the Minister for Children and Families.

Source: Parents ‘powerless to bring up their children’ | UK News | The Observer
First let me say that I’m not buying into a kind of “Daily Mail” alarmist, “oh my God-our children are out of control and society is crumbling” bullshit. We’re talking about a minority here, although possibly an increasing one. And to a certain extent I’m being deliberately provocative.
So why would this be? Could it be because parents are concentrating on other things, rather than bringing up their children?
I’m not talking about parents that go out to work. I realise that people have to make a living. What I mean is that when parents are at home are they spending their time raising their children? Or are they so self-obsessed that all they’re worried about is their own needs and if that that means parking the children in front of some mindless cack on the T.V. or turning a blind eye when they’re roaming the streets shoplifting, tying fireworks to cats and gobbing at people, then so be it.
We’ve all read the horror stories about children pushed out of the door in the mornings and left to their own devices – “Get out from under my feet. Go out and play!” With no boundaries or regulation set on their behaviour children will grow up to do exactly as they please with no thought or regard for the consequences of the actions or for effect they have on others. And what happens when children like this reach child-rearing age and have kids of their own? Will they ensure that their offspring grow up with any kind of social conscience? Will they hell! They’ve never considered anyone’s needs of feelings other than their own and they won’t start with their own children.
By the law of averages not every child will grow up to be an “‘orrible little scroat”. You’ll get a fair proportion of the kids growing up to be decent people but with no parenting skills at all because they were shown none when they were growing up. Hence the problem – reasonable people with no clue how to set boundaries for the kids or how to enforce those that they do set.
When did this vicious cycle start? Although there’s always been “disaffected youth”, it only seemed to seep into the public consciousness that children were starting to run out of control in the late 70s and early 80’s. This suggests to me that the parents of children who were born in the late 60’s and early 70’s may have started the rot. Could it be that the Hippies are to blame? Anti-establishment, anti-authority and stoned out of their minds, what did they teach their children? And what have their children taught theirs?
When you have a child you have a duty to parent. Yes, go out to work if you must but when you get home – parent! Interact with your children, teach them how to behave, to respect other people before they expect respect themselves. If this means you can’t go out to the pub/club/whatever – tough! If you want a full social calendar – don’t have kids. if you want to concentrate on your own wants and needs – don’t have kids. If you want kids – parent, even if it means learning how to.
(This post will also appear at Solid Gone, my personal blog.)

Self awareness

22 Oct

According to the BBC

A senior US state department official has said that the US has shown “arrogance and stupidity” in Iraq.

Oh really? Do you think? This at least shows the beginnings of hope flickering. Acknowledging one’s mistakes is the first step on the road to putting them right.