Friday, July 25, 2014

Should Google be called “the evil umpire”?

My ex-employer —I retired nearly twenty years ago – IBM used to be widely regarded as an “evil empire” but that label seems to have worn off over the last few decades, even being called “almost cuddly these days” in an InformationWeek story IT’s Evil Empires:

Evil Empires can acquire their reputation through no fault of their own. But all too often, they earn the characterization through a distasteful combination of success-fueled arrogance and a thinly disguised disdain for customers, competitors, and regulators.

Microsoft more recently usurped the “evil empire” throne in the years following the release of Windows 95 (during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who seems to have popularized the term).

Now it’s Google’s turn, and since its ascendance to obvious dominance in Web search by the early years of the new millennium, Google is being nominated as the “new evil empire.”

Along comes the recent launch by Afaq Tariq of his “Hidden from Google” website.

This causes me to suggest, more in jest than anger, that if Google kowtows to the “right to be forgotten” ruling of the EU then Google should be called The Evil Umpire (laughter all around)!

Or perhaps I’ve gotten it wrong, and by enforcing a new form of censorship on otherwise-free Web information is it the EU Council that/who are the evil ones in this case?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Debugging JavaScript– new DZone Refcard (cheat sheet)

Here’s a heads-up for those that are unfamiliar with the many developer resources at DZone.

Just released is a reference card (a.k.a. cheat sheet)  for Debugging JavaScript which is the latest in a long list of their Refcardz series.

Go get the Debugging JavaScript cheat sheet.

It’s free, you only have to register with DZone to be able to download it.

And don’t forget to browse all the earlier ones too, you’ll undoubtedly like what you find there.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

An essay on The Joy of Typing

I don’t like most modern computer keyboards. My career at IBM using their excellent keyboards with the superb “buckling spring” technology has made every other type of keyboard seem inferior to me. There is that immensely satisfying “Click” every time you successfully make a keystroke, you just can’t beat it.

During the mid-1990s I switched to a Lexmark keyboard, not as massive as the weighty IBM ones, also having the buckling spring mechanism, with the added advantage of taking up less desktop space. This Lexmark gathered much gunk between/under the keys, so a few months ago I pulled off the removable keytops and gave it a thorough cleaning.

Trouble was, I couldn’t ever get the space bar to work properly after that. Now it randomly generates extra spaces between words causing me much frustration and time wasted remove the surplus spaces.

I explored the purchase of a brand new Unicomp keyboard from the USA. I’m sure their keyboards are excellent to use, with the slight advantage of having a “Windows” key which neither the old IBM or Lexmark keyboards did (they were designed well before Windows 95 appeared). They cost from USD $79.00 upwards, however the freight across the Pacific to Australia was going to double the price, so I passed on this option.

So now I’m back using an original IBM “Model M” keyboard again, and must say that it does seem to have a subtly better tactile feel than the Lexmark. So I’m a happy typist again (in keyboard terms, that is).

The IBM Model M keyboard

Interestingly, and in a completely different vein, the other day I came across The Joy of Typing by Clive Thompson, wit the subtitle “How racing along at 60 words a minute can unlock your mind.”

He starts of by posing the question: “How racing along at 60 words a minute can unlock your mind.” A study had reported that college students who typed lecture notes remembered less than those who wrote them down by hand.

So, should we stop typing in favour of handwriting (where possible)? Go read Clive Thompson’s article and draw your own conclusions.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Detecting sharks with Clever Buoy

I was out surfing once, in the 1960s, at Portsea back beach on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Another surfer suddenly called out “Shark! Shark!” and none of us hung around to verify his observation, we headed straight for the beach.

Such is our innate fear of those big toothy fish. It’s heightened by the regular (but thankfully small in number) deaths and severe maulings at beaches around Australia and the world.

Over the years I’ve listed some facts about shark (and crocodile) attacks on my website. This includes various attempts to make it safer for the general public to share the beaches with sharks.

Australia’s number 2 telco Optus has announced a project called Clever Buoy which they describe as “the world’s first shark detection buoy” and “Research & Development project between Optus, Google and Shark Attack Mitigation Systems to develop a smart ocean buoy that detects sharks and alerts lifeguards on the beach.”

It certainly looks very intriguing, nevertheless as one commenter points out (omitting the impolite bits) the scheme has at least one potential shortcoming:

“By the time life guards get the information the shark has attacked.”

Coffee roasts your insides

Coffee now has been popular in “the West” for several centuries, and has had its keen devotees during that period.

One of those was the great French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac and he had quite some interesting views on the fabulous “Java” beverage.

Read an English translation of de Balzac’s somewhat unusual observations at The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee (this is a scanned image version).

Here’s a more legible text-based version of de Balzac’s essay:
The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mangone … from Bowen, Australia

(25 February 2014) The 10-meter  (30-foot)  Big Mango tourist attraction In  Bowen,  Queensland (Australia’s  mango-growing capital) went  missing overnight.

                 Before and After

Who would do such a thing, and why?

The  Brisbane Courier Mail seems to have got to the bottom of it  and soon, apparently, everything will be revealed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Is there a way to eliminate the Notes 8.5.3 pre-load error? (J9THR24.dll is missing)

I want to keep Notes 8.5.3 running on one test system, and haven’t been able to eliminate that irritating boot-time error causing a problem with the nntspreld.exe task (the IBM Notes preloader). The follow dialog box keeps reappearing every time that you click  the OK button:


The only way to stop this is by  killing the task via Windows Task Manager.

I’ve tried the Notes installer’s “repair” option, quick enough but to no avail. Before spending more time (with no certainty of a good result) on doing an uninstall of Notes followed by a clean install, I thought that I’d ask the Notes community for assistance.

According to this Notes/Domino Fix List post (03 December 2010) the problem was supposed to be fixed by Notes 8.5.3 itself.

It’s puzzling that the fix list Technote tab indicates “There is no Lotus Support Services technote associated with this SPR right now. Please check again later.”

I’ve searched the  system for the supposedly missing DLL (J9THR42.dll) actually is present, it’s in the Notes\jvm\bin\ folder.

So why this error at boot time? My guess is that it’s some sort of Java PATH error, or something like that, but I may be way off the mark. Can anybody help me with this?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What you think is right may actually be wrong – Inferring versus rationalising

Over at The Conversation there’s a thought-provoking new article (16 January 2014) about the process of thinking:

What you think is right may actually be wrong – here’s why

We like to think that we reach conclusions by reviewing facts, weighing evidence and analysing arguments. But this is not how humans usually operate, particularly when decisions are important or need to be made quickly.


We tend to prefer conclusions that fit our existing world-view, and that don’t require us to change a pleasant and familiar narrative. We are also more inclined to accept these conclusions, intuitively leaping to them when they are presented, and to offer resistance to conclusions that require us to change or seriously examine existing beliefs.

Go read the full article.