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Archives for May 2011

 

Peregrina

Just a quick update, before I loose internet up towards Cape Yorkie Bar. I'm sailing with Pete aboard Peregrina to Darwin, where I left my car. Handy huh?

Anyway flew to Cairns a few days back we anchored in the lovely river at Port Douglas yesterday, and fair flew up here today. Peregrina rarely sails with poled out Genny, gos the pole is big and heavy, fortunetly with hairy gorilla(me) on board its easier! Right sail for the job today.

pdLG.JPG
Port Douglas

Position: 15° 28' S, 145° 15' E | Posted: Sun 29th May 2011

 

Rapture

The Rapture/judgement day/zombie apocalypse appears not to have happened. Its not the first time this sort of predication has gone awry. But this one has come in the age of facebook and twitter.

Harold Camping's predication has been lampooned all over the internet, you tube is chock full of videos - one I've seen gives handy instructions to Christians to cancel newspapers etc. as the dammed will have enough trouble without unnecessary paper rounds to absent rapturees. Twitter, my friends included, has been alive with one liners about it.

Its the day after Judgement Day my time now, well into it, and no Rapture. As widely (and often gleefully reported). I heard Harold Camping's prediction the traditional Christian Way, I was handed a leaflet on the streets of Sydney some months back - a very long leaflet in about 9pt. It didn't half go on.

I'm not religious, and I admit to having enjoyed the fun poking, even joined in a little. So I am making some serious points here for the religious people of the world.

Please, Please, take your religion seriously, but every now and then sit back and take a look at reality. Religious texts were written a long time ago, have been translated and, unfortunately, shaped by unscrupulous people along the way. They still are today. I was taught "all scripture is God breathed". I had a problem with the concept even back then, much of what the bible (and I'll bet other religion's texts too) says is a little unclear and even contradictory. Please, please, don't try and take it  literally. God sent prophets to pass these messages along. Unfortunately we understand a great deal more about our selves and the universe - God's creation if you like, than the people who the prophets spoke to.

The Bible as a moral compass. A conventional compass is a simple and practical instrument that points north, it is effected we now understand, by factors like its surroundings (eg bits of ferrous metal) and distortions produced by the Earth's crust. Sailors apply corrections to this compass to prevent it giving anomalous readings. When you look to your moral compass please apply the same corrections, it is not moral to persecute people for their faith, sex, sexuality or involvement in non existent witch craft, to sight an example, even if religious texts prohibit it. A simple glance and your moral compass will tell you this is right, and if it deviates slightly from the exact preachings of some Christians you must apply corrections - as we sailors have learned to do with real compasses.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are not separate religions they are  the same one. Somewhere, along the line they went their separate ways, your God their God its the same entity. However certain you are of God's will they are just as certain his will his different. A dispassionate observer is forced to conclude they must all be equally valid. Should we discover intelligent life somewhere* out in space, they're going to look at the Abrahamic Religions and scratch whatever they use for a head in confusion.

Christianity, Islam hell probably Zoroastrianism have probably been a good influence on the world, and still are today. But before you get on a high horse they've also been used to justify some truly evil things as well. Likewise there are some excellent good works done out their not in the name of a god - just because they need to be done. You don't have to be religious to be good, and being religious is not in its self good. In short right and wrong is not a matter of belief or as a result of European dominance, and Christianity's long hold there. Richard Dawkins looks at the world through atheist eyes and probably agrees with you on 99% of the same right/wrong decisions. Christian justice has long be paraded as the basis of the civilised world. The keystone, to my mind of the worlds justice system in trial by jury of one peers. I have never heard, read, or been told of any Biblical reference to the corner stone of a fair Judicial system. In fact it pre-dates Christianity, Romans and the Ancient Greeks had it, it has nothing to do with the Abrahamic religions The truth is out justice system is not Christian it is secular, and without trial by jury it is nothing, the crimes and codes of conduct we uphold largely coincide with the Christian codes. The Christians and the Atheists can all agree murder is wrong. Taking from others is complicated and can should done on a fair society level, not theft, we can agree on many other things too, protecting the poor, curing the sick. Some cultures and criminal codes do not match ours, particularly in equal rites for women, but not so long ago our own were sadly lacking, we have moved to free slaves and give equality to all under the law, other cultures and countries will follow eventually. Christians and Atheists together will push for this, and we will both go further and fairer than the Bible requires.

 We (by we I mean the Atheists, We the Peoples of the world, we those who would see humanity flourish), appreciate the good works done in the name of God(s), we support your right to believe what you wish. I would like to make however a request of you. I do not believe in God - yours or anyone else's. I will defend your right to believe till the end of time (when ever that may be), however where I believe different I will fight against those who attempt to force their will upon me with word and deed and heart, but not violence. Please however, get with the 19th century, the bible and, presumably, the Koran as well is not literal truth, the earth, the universe in in infinite majesty is far greater than described in the bible. Humanity amounts far more than the Bible implies. If you believe in God you should look at the wonders we are discovering, about the creation of the universe, our bodies and even the evolution of species. If you are right and God did create he is far greater and clever than the bible suggests - he didn't create the world in 7 days he was far smarter than that. Rejoice and take your religion forward.

Do not push forward your conservative leaders, popular with the Christians they might be, but their simplistic approach and literal biblical interpretations will run straight into the cynical educated  world of the 21st century and it will chew them up and spit them out. As it has done with Harold Camping, he set out to dedicate his life to Christianity. He has done more for Atheism than Richard Dawkins ever could. Christianity will not be severed by leaders such as Harold Camping, even the Pope is struggling, he is learning that God's only representative on Earth or not he is subject to intense scrutiny and he must debate not dictate. Christians and other religious leaders mush win the arguments, something even American politicians who's conservative Christian views have always been an election requirement are increasingly being asked questions out side their comfort zone.  The non event rapture and the massive online response will hasten that process. Christianity, particularity conservative Christianity has been made to look very foolish, very publicly over the last few days.

In the unlikely event the emerging middle eastern electorate is reading this do not put such men forward, they will not serve you well in your new hard won democracy. Belief and religion are great but the conservative, over zealous or literal interpretations of ancient texts will not help you cope with complications of the 21st century, nor stand up to dispassionate scrutiny. And scrutinised they will be.

 * Despite the Monty Python song which says "I hope there's intelligent life somewhere up in space cos there's bugger all down here on earth", there is intelligent life down here, and it will use its intellect, and when it sees something like Camping's predication it will see straight though it and take the piss till the cows come home

 

 

Position: 12° 27.6' S, 130° 50.8' E | Posted: Sun 22nd May 2011

 

Facebook and how to survive it.

Facebook probably knows more about you than you mum, or maybe even your wife/hubby. You have to remember it was set up for university students who's privacy was pretty much non existantant any way. Since then its snow balled. HR departments love it, you can find out more about a person form facebook than any interview.

Your relationships, photos taged with your name at parties your hobbies, organiseations your old school (great as its frequenlty uesed by banks as  a security question).

Short Version

  • Remove Apps you don't use and don't sign up for crap.
  • Turn SSL (encryption) on.
  • Remove or hide personal data that's not important (date of birth, phone number, address).
  • Watch for scams (odd posts from mates, voyeristic links, celebrity scandal, promices of impossible services)
  • Location Services - Burglars charter and not to mention jealous pet/partner/employer...
  • Check your Privacy settings

DON'T RELY ON THIS, I am an ameteur
facebook redesigns all the time, every time they do your settings will be defaulted to insecure versions!

Here's some tips on how to use Facebook and at least reduce the potential damage to you. Remember if someone else puts up a photo of you a a party full of drugs and tags you in it, it is impossible for you to remove the photo, but you can remove the tag.

menuSSL Security

Facebook was the last major place I ever saw not to offer a secure login. In fact in a documentary I was invovled the white hat hacker got my password. This is no longer the case but one your logged in facebook reverts back to insecure mode. You have to manually force SSL (encryption and identification) on. Go to Account (top right), choose Account settings. Scroll down to the Account Security section there's a little link that says change which will show the settings. This will do you no harm, and will prevent ceratin forms of attack on places like wireless hotspots.

ssl.png

Scams

These are all to common on Facebook, if one of your mates puts a weird link up, that looks like something out of the oridinary - particularly if its promices to tell you "who's looking at your profile", or is something controversial, celebrity scandal or voyeristic its proablaby a scam. "Dad saw his daughter on facebook" or haven't seen it yet but I bet its out there "Bin Laden death pics".  Nearly all of these are scams. If you see one of these links do not click it. If you do it will use the permissions you give it to read all your personal data, and hijack your wall to spread the link to your friends, or worse sign you up to premium rate phone services (remember facebook asked you for your mobile number?). If your curious Google the text of the link if its a scam the Google results page will tell you pretty quick - but remember if you click the links YOU ARE STILL LOGGED IN TO FACEBOOK, doesn't matter if you come in via google search - or facebook LOG OUT OF FACEBOOK before you explore the celebraty scandal.

Mobile Number

Don't give to facbook, every now and again facebook petulantly askes me for mine, I won't give it to them. They don't need it, your email address can't be charged money (not that I gave facebook my primary mail anyway). Your mobile number can very easily be signed up for a premium rate text message service.

Privacy Settings

This is a huge swamp of a setting. Unless you are running your facebook page as an ad agency, not a personal page, you do not want it set to Everyone, either Friends only or Friends of Friends, but remember some of your mates are dumb, computer neive or haven't read this, freinds of theirs could be ANYBODY. I use the custom box and choose - for instance my address (which I lied to facebook about anyway), and my date of Birth (also a lie) are ME ONLY, nobody can see them. There is no reason I can think of why facebook needs to know this, its an online system not a delivery service. This means nobody says Happy Birthday to me on Facebook, I can live with this, becasue when I ring up a buisness they will ask my date of birth to help prove I am who I say I am its acually me. I DO NOT put my date of brith online.

Personal Data

Facebook Networks are something nobody uses, they are a legacy from its university origins. Remember your School(s) are security questions on line and on the phone, if you are not activly using yor employer/eduction/hometown network - hell I know I don't! Delete them your real friends know this, your aquaitnances don't care, and a potential identity thief will love them.

Location

Facebook's location information (places) is slowly catching on, I do use it, with certain caveats. Keep an eye on it. I don't mind saying I'm in Darwin - but I do not want it saying where I am to the nearest millimeter. And remeber if your thowing a sicky and your collegues see "Is at Wembly Stadium" your going to be fired awful quick.

400kLG.JPG
Deep in the Custom Privacy Settings I found this
scary2
This would allow SOMEONE else to say where you are!

Be careful with this, do not automate it! I'll laught my socks off when I hear a news story about someones wife who goes on facebook and sees "CEO Smith and Secretary Jones are both at Luxuary Hotel" . Make sure its not you. Remember you have facebook on your smartphone and it knows where you are, either by Cell Towers or by GPS or god forbid and you haven't unticked the right boxes above. Your friends will dob you in acedentally!

Apps

Facebook allows 3rd parties to write simple software addons for facebook. Most are utter shite, some are games or useful additions. When you signup for an app it alows the developer access to your data, your wall and so on. Usually you will use one of these apps once or twice and then forget about it. It will do no harm to go and clear out the dross. Facebook has made this tricky to find its at the Bottom left of the Privacy settings page. I have only Twitter, an integration app from my photo gallery software and a youtube app that's it

Position: 0° 0' S, 0° 0' W | Posted: Sun 15th May 2011

 

Angry Wangry

Just been researching RS's new boat the RS100. Looks a little like an MX Ray. It appears the RS100's a bloomin good boat selling well etc etc etc.

Unlike the MX Ray which was an appaling lump of junk. Before you watch the following video be aware its all tripe.

"The fastest monohull in the world" - My arse, I've never seen one beat a 20 year old laser. In case the few people on forums folornly asking questions about this failed excuse for a boat, find as I have, a few 10 year old webpages, or god forbid the infamous video of lies above and you'd be exited about it. Sounds good? It wasn't.

It was dog slow, really, you'll note in the video there's no upwind. In fact I and other dispasionate observers have noticed it was dreadul up wind. On any couse you choose it can't even beat a laser. A design 30 years older than it. The sites like this one talk about a light hull. Its 52kg a laser's only 59 and that was desinged in 1970! Its a heavy boat with a lousy hull shape misserably uncomforble to sail. Apparently it can go 20ks, frankly I doubt it, the mast wouldn't take it.

The UK site leftover for them claims more honestly "One of the fastest monohulls in the world" think the UK distributer was getting cold feet, and even then he was lying, it doesn't come close. It wasn't even the fastest production boat, even if you ignored its dreadful up wind speed and looked at its turn of speed down wind its really wasn't in the same league. In my and these guys opinion it may have just piped a laser on a broad reach, but not enough to justify the claims made. To put in in even more perspective, contenders have been around for decades at this point (about 98 the MX came in the US out 2000 they got to the UK) the RS600 was lauched in 94, they are both producation perfomace boats that would have absolutly no chance of even being able to see an MX Ray in their wash. There's plenty of other boats older and faster than an MX Ray, the blaze is a hiking dinghy with racks rather than flares will take a MX to the cleaners on any point of sail you like, to be honest I'd bet on supernovas, phantoms anything quicker than a laser, which is a long list.

"Planes in 6 knots of wind" - no it does't even if you put a small child on it wouldn't look at the bendy mast and the 52 kilos hull - a windsufter can't plane in 6 knots of breeze. "High speed in any wind" errm alowing for the fact its slow in any wind its even worse in the light stuff. I can't be bothered to go out on the net and proove it was't the first aysemetrical single hander, but I know it was tried on the 600 in 94 and the idea was abandoned. I'm sure there were Internatioal Canoes out there with aysermeteics by that time.

So if someones selling you an MX or you look at the new RS100 and think an old MX Ray will be simialar. Stop read this and don't buy it. You can't get spares, you're bum will hurt and you will be left wishing you'd bought a clapped out old laser. I suspect the reason the MX Ray died out so fast and so spectaculrly was the massive yawning chasm between the sales pitch and the truth its "its mother was a tricycle" What? Eh? its Father was a "Rocket Ship" unfortunatly its desiger and its builder weren't so impressive, its marketing department lied so badly its a miracle they weren't sued.

It makes me Angry, people I know had these and I felt so sorry for them being beaten by 20 year old lasers with sails you could poke a finger through. When the bits dried up we put the last abandoned one in a skip took three of us. The skip van driver took it back out - even he didn't want it.

Position: 12° 27.6' S, 130° 50.8' E | Posted: Sat 14th May 2011

 

We have to put up with Alan Sugar on the apprentice (and jokes about him on the Now Show) - Amstrad is dead people, likewise Sinclair appeared in a tv remake of his life a year or two back. The Spectrum is long dead. Nothing now remains of this my geek generation peice of computing history. These people brought you the useless emailing telephone and the C5 respectivly. Why are they the 80's computing people on my telly?

Alan Bloody Sugar

I didn't have a Spectrum or an Amstrad I had an Acorn BBC (guess I'm middle class). The BBC model b, like the Spectrum and CPC is no longer with us, but unlike Amstrad and Sincalirs its legacy is still with us.

What has it got in its pocketesess?

The BBC is gone, gone too is Acorn, its debts paid off in shame by its own subsidury company. You've heard of intel right? Ibm? Apple? M$?The big boys of the computer world? Well there's another much quierter big boy out there called ARM. You've got an ARM processor on you right now, you may even be reading this on one, chances are you've more than one. The A in ARM stood originaly for "Acorn" who made the BBC, Sinclair and Sugar may be with us in popular culture, but nobody, even me, can name the guy behind Acorn but from (and originally designed on the BBC) come a franckly stunning array of computing devices. The future, possibly, of computing. When I say you've go one on you, the hottest phone on the block is the iPhone - deep in its guts, beneath the apple logos, your collection of smutty texts and Stephen Fry Tweets at its beating heart, the CPU, is an ARM core designed via Acorn's spin off of its Acorn RISC Machine processor. Not got an iPhone? Well it doesn't matter what you've got from a old chocolate block Nokia through Android to the iPad 2 and your shiny new tablet they're all direct (ish) decendents of the ugly (and lets be honest - it was) box with Elite and Chucky Egg on it. Even if I'm wrong and you one of the 2% or so mobiles that don't have an ARM in them you've probably got one somewhere, in your car or your washing machine, your modem router or some of your toys.

Nintendo DS - ARM, iPods - ARM, your TV set top box will probably have one. I mean these guy's out sell intel CPU's by an order of magnitude. OK so they don't make them them selves, but when you buy one of these devices a company in Cambridge's cash till goes "kching".

Acorn Logo

The Future's Bright

I keep hearing stories about ARM, only cos I'm a geek and even most geeks don't realise the UK connection let alone the BBC Micro. Now some of the stories are far fetched, but, and its a big but, they're not so far fetched as all that. Recently I hear ARM chips taking on intel in servers in the near future. I hear Apple laptops may soon swich to ARM from intel. Now there's a lot of rumor and speculation in there. But what made ARM the worlds most dominant mobile and imbeded processor are ideal suited to the buzz words of the current IT industry.

BBC Micro
From Ugly Duckling to Swan
pie Pad II

T'was an acident, almost, Acorn couldn't afford to go for the top end computing market, they didn't have the muscles, they also couldn't find a chip to upgrade the BBC micro/master line. So they decided to design one them selves. It had to be cheap enough and powerfull enough rather than the ultimate. This led to them using the design system that your all familur with. Keep it Simple Stupid, the processor they came up with had feature that turned out to be really really handy. It was cheap, much faster than anything else in its price range and because of its simple internal structure allowed for things a complicated CPU can't do. Like stop in the middle of stuff, and carry on where it left of. A feature that's very handy for saving battery. The upshot was, for the time, a quite powerfull, cheap CPU which, crucially, needed very little electrisity.

Now here we are in the 21st centuary, faces lit by our smart phone screens, Intel are rattled, Microsoft are rattled, a couple of years back we all did everything internet or IT with an intel CPU and a Windows OS - it was that or a god awful Amstrad emailing telephone. Now we use facebook on our tellies, our phones and soon tablets. They don't run on intel and they don't run Windows. So when you hear the rumors you wonder, is ARM the next big thing (not that is isn't already). Then you hit the facts, Windows runs on x86 - intel's cpu's. Well Microsoft is making windows 8 run on ARM as well. Intel hates it - it sells Atom chips to netbooks, it doesn't want to, every cheap Atom (intel's low power chip), is a lost sale of a posh chip. Microsoft has to sell windows cheap to netbooks, cos the price of a netbook is so low the full windows price would make them so expencive the makers would have to use linux on the, which is free.

So tell me again why the hell do I have to look at Alan Bloody Sugar on my bloody telly? I bet is poxy email bloody telphone no body buys has  an ARM CPU in it..

In the words of Monty Python "What did Acorn ever do for us!"?

Pictures curetesy of Wikimedia

 

 

 

Position: 12° 27.6' S, 130° 50.8' E | Posted: Mon 9th May 2011

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