Letters Easter's been and gone, and to help you recover from the sickly sweetness of it all, we thought we'd jump straight in with something a bit sour - namely, the UK government's sinister plans to deploy lie detectors in the hope of catching benefit fraudsters:
Umm, hasn't the UK, like just about everywhere but the USA, dissallow 'lie detectors' as evidence? I was under the impression this technology had been debunked by psychologists time and time again. So has there been a breakthrough that I don't know about or is this a tool for harrasment by the UK on it's citizens?
Since you do a lot of the science and space items I hope you can enlighten me.
One has to hope that the lie detector will be more reliable than the polygraph, the results of which are still not accepted in a US Court. After all, there are quite a few valid reasons to be stressed when making a call, such as knowing that, if you sound stressed, you might be denied and thus wind up with the impossibility of buying food next month. Not exactly a scenario that promotes calm, don't you think ? Personally I'd like to see official trials of this software in a scientific environment (meaning double-blind tests). Has this already been done ? If not, why not ?
Before any government minister is allowed to promote a technological 'solution' to a problem they should be forced to share their knowledge of modern technology. They should publicly perform the following tasks:
1. Set the time on a video and make a successful recording - using only the provided manual for reference. Focus groups suggest that, (like liberal Home Secretaries), swearing in front of the electorate cannot be associated with New Labour;
2: A timed round. In no more than 30 seconds, find an entry in the address book of a Motorola mobile phone - using only one hand, no manual and no swearing;
3. Configure a secure wireless network under Windows XP from a standing start before the machine has been hacked into oblivion. No calls to Microsoft, no techies on speed-dial (if you could find them on the Motorola that is) and absolutely no swearing;
4. Transfer a piece of music from the iTunes music store on to their shiny new Windows Media Player simultaneously stating government policy on how DRM is a good thing for customers. (Obviously, despite the extreme provocation, no swearing will be permitted).
Then, AND ONLY THEN, would people like John Hutton be in a position to judge whether their shiny new heap of wires and silicon comes with a side order of snake oil.
A similar serving of snake oil was dished out with Microsoft's claims that its paperwork is in compliance with the EU's 2004 anti-trust decision:
The information in question is stuff that people writing other software give away for free, with the hopes that other people working in their market will make their products compatible. It is far less information than the Open Source community provides for all of its products.
The only thing that I can see Microsoft having grounds to complain about is that the EU isn't allowing them to continue locking everyone in to their product - they will, in fact, have to continue working. I don't see this as my problem - or the problem of anyone whose net worth is not based on Microsoft. Given that it means the Microsoftians are allowed to continue standing on their hill, but are merely not allowed to throw rocks down at anyone who attempts to climb it (shoving is still allowed), I feel no sympathy for them.
News that the NHS finally clocked up a success was met with widespread disdain. Success? Are they having a laugh?
And yet... I have finally received my X-ray results after 5 weeks of waiting.
In the end I just flew 9000KMs to a 3rd world country to see a proper medical centre and got the results the same day.
Heck, I just found out that my doctor doesn't record my blood type, and that I would have to pay to have this added to my records.
The NHS is a joke... It's a sick and twisted joke that costs lives, but it's a joke nevertheless.
So, this is basically just a workflow and image system, with high resolution images. Therefore it's a database and a large Centerra (or other WORM storage) with a bit of front end software and it cost HOW MUCH!!???
These systems have been around for in excess of ten years in the financial services industry, costing a fraction of £250M.
Did anyone ask how long the wait is between the radiography and diagnostic availability in the private sector or in other countries before allowing the NPfIT to pat itself on the back?
Such stats probably aren't kept in many places because the idea of significant waiting-time would never occur to them. (I remember having to explain to a French PA the NHS concept of a waiting-list.) A quick Google shows South Africa, a largely rural third-world country, is piloting using remote specialists in real time: http://www.medicusmundi.ch/mms/services/bulletin/bulletin200103/kap01/08strachan.html
My friend (medical imaging manager at a big NHS hospital in the south east) was most indignant when I emailed her your article, and she emailed back:
What a load of rubbish ....!!!! If only they asked me!! I could tell them how difficult it was to install, how we have lost images completely, how they are NOT available to be seen in any other hospital, so we have to print as well........
See you! C
DRM - it's the acronym that was on everyone's lips before Easter Bunny paid a visit, and it's certainly still on your minds:
Given that Jobs never wanted DRM in the first place on the iTunes Music Store, it's a little conspiratorial to ascribe motives now. See the Rolling Stones interview from 2003.
If you look you will find that Jobs never has been in favour of DRM on music. There has been no change of heart, just a change in how much focus has been put on his position.
I assume this - http://www.rethinkresearch.biz/ - is the Rethink Research in question. So, please compare this, from the "About Rethink" page:
"The time for telling is over. It's time to listen. Rethink IT listens to users, not just vendor rhetoric."
with this, from the article:
"Having been a big believer in DRM and its necessity..."
You're obviously not listening very well. If you did listen to users, you'll know they don't want DRM. They hate DRM. Some, because they feel like they're being treated like criminals when they've proved their honesty by paying for the damned music in the first place. Some, because they simply try to do something - like copy the music to another computer, for instance - and suddenly find they can't. I very much doubt you'll find more than a handful of fools who would rather have DRMed music than freed music.
Even the vendor rhetoric has changed now. There's little excuse for holding onto belief in DRM now.
And as for your reasons - if you honestly believe that music is suddenly going to be easier to pirate now, then you're a fool. That simply isn't possible - music has been available unencrypted on CDs for many, many years. How could this announcement possibly make it easier when all the music is available already? Sure, some of the tracks pirated now are likely to be tracks from iTunes, but that will simply be instead of the same tracks being ripped from CD.
If there is a massive increase in piracy, over and above the current trend, which coincides exactly with DRM-free music on iTunes, I'll eat my words. That's simply not going to happen, though; and if you're honest with yourselves, you know that too.
I just realized something from reading your article where you mentioned buying singles instead of complete albums. I have been buying a large number of CDs recently, but 3/4 of them have been compilations of older music where no two songs on a single CD are from the same artist. I didn't buy the CDs when they were released, I waited until now when I can buy an entire CD full of songs that I like instead of buying a CD with 2 or 3 songs that I like and 9 or 10 filler songs that I don't like.
Then I've been doing something that the record companies and RIAA hate, but it's perfectly legal so they have no choice. I've been burning CDs to listen to in my car that consist of only my favorite songs, and some of the songs on those compillation CDs don't make it onto those CDs.
Freedom. It's wonderful for me as a consumer and it's actually generating more revenue for the record companies. I wouldn't buy a complete CD of some of the artists that are on the compillation CDs for any reason, but I will buy the compillation because I want one or two songs by that artist. If the record companies start to cater to what we want instead of what they want us to buy their sales will skyrocket.
"Even someone that upgrades all of his or her collection to the new EMI DRM-free format, will still have perhaps 75 per cent of their music in a DRM-enabled format and they would worry about buying a non Apple MP3 player, because of the worry of not being able to move some of their content."
That makes no sense for two reason: Firstly, if it's "all," then it's 100%, not 75%. Secondly, defeating DRM is trivial. It's absolutely certain that anyone who wants to do so, can do so (or knows someone who can).
I would hazard a guess that the only people unable to defeat DRM are RIAA executives. But then, they still have difficulty accelerating their 5MPG cars without a buggy whip.
The end of DRM may be nigh, but the end of world certainly isn't - and even if it was, Armageddon will not be brought about by an oil-free society, you say:
I really don't see why this should be so much of a problem. Of course, it's not going to be a pic-nic, running out of oil, mainly because our management of this non-renewable resource has been so piss-poor that it borders on criminal neglect. There will be hydrogen power. Opponents of hydrogen power claim that it's less efficient as a fuel than oil, but they're not exactly pumping the space shuttle full of 98 unleaded, are they? Less efficient should not be a problem. We're not efficient now, why should the inefficiency of hydrogen as a fuel be a problem, it's not as if we're spending all that precious fuel/energy on worthwhile things as it is. And the cost. Piffle, nobody -really- cares about the cost. The stock market is a fear-fueled environment, there's always going to be something to drive up the costs unduly.
I can see hardship if we don't prepare properly, when the day finally comes that oil runs out. But if there is any hardship we richly deserve it, because it's not as if we didn't see it coming and were not aware of the significance of the problem.
I'm fully convinced, in a very unsexy cynical way, that we're going to botch it. Our leadership over the years has been abyssmal and the people who could do a great job of leading our stupid species are ridiculed and mocked, downright ignored or they have better things to do with their lives than being king of the landfill.
But civilization coming to an end because of a lack of energy? I'm not buying it. There's energy enough, and when oil becomes too expensive before long, other forms of energy, whatever their cost, will become a viable alternative.
"Dr Evans goes to lengths to point out that this is not a reality TV project, and says the aim is to find out if self-sufficiency is possible" I believe that most population of non-industrialized (or with low-industrial level) country are doing exactly that right now. And they have been doing so for quite some time. If that is pleasant or something you'll like to do forever is debatable.
"...the result will be much the same with starving citizens reduced to learning acoustic guitar and perhaps even talking to each other for entertainment".
Shurely "...eating each other for nourishment"?
Did I miss something?
Humanity not only survived, but grew and prospered, traded, raided, built civilizations, explored the world, created great art and literature etc. for HOW many millenia before the internal combustion engine and petrochemical-based plastics? Yet some dipstick professor has to conduct an "experiment" to see if humanity is capable of living once the oil runs out?
I smell a boondoggle, government (or foundation) funding and the rights to a TV show here. Not to mention an IgNobel Prize!
Away from the Scottish Highlands and across the ditch to the Netherlands, Dutch researchers are punting an RFID super shield as a kind of personal firewall:
It's no wonder the Dutch are researching this - unlike the US passports, Dutch new passports do NOT come with a tin foil lining to stop the RFID from being accessed from a distance..
I'd rather have an RFID-blaster. Just put your new shirt into the microwave and nuke the RFID chip. No more functioning RFID chip, no more problems about RFID security. A safer design to overload the chip into submission would be preferable. Sincerely, Arah Leonard
Another IgNobel candidate?
Still with ID, the Scouts have been enlisted to help government perfect the model for CRB checks . Scouts, not BOY scouts, mind.
Where have you been for the 40 years since "Boy" was dropped from the name of the Scout Association? Or the 20-odd years since girls were first admitted to the organisation? Or during the first 3 months of 2007, the Scouts' centenary year, when Scouts have been on TV almost every week with a large proportion being unmistakeably girls? Nothing annoys the girl members more than it being called "Boy Scouts"
David Swanson Cub Scout Leader
That's it for today. Get writing, you know you want to. ®
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