Top 10 tech tricks we’re sick of seeing in movies

October 27, 2010

This is a pretty interesting article: detailing some of the wonderful moments in film history where some hacker/computer expert can get a computer system to do stuff it ain’t supposed to do, just by pressing a few keys and, no doubt, intimidating the the software with his superior skillz…

I remember some of the stuff on the list, but other details have been driven from my memory by thousands of years of substance abuse.  But never mind: there’s enough listed there to make any half-educated geek to kick his cat about.

One particular moments that’s always stayed with me is in Jurassic Park when the surviving humans need to “hack” (ugh!) the computerized security system to try and contain the rampaging dinosaurs.  The little girl (kids always know more than adults about computer-related stuff, even when the adult is a highly-trained, highly-experienced computer professional) takes one look at the monitors, says “I know this – it’s Unix”, and goes on to fix the electric fences or whatever.  It’s pretty unlikely that a Unix system would have the amazing 3D desktop interface we see on the screens… and it’s even more ridiculous to suggest she can do shit the pros found impossible after looking at the machines for 5 minutes or so.  Please not: I am not claiming that her skillz are impossible; but it’s still a huge heap of doggy doo-dah.

All this crap achieves is to reinforce the opinion that 1) little kids eat highly-trained adults for breakfast; and 2) give that kid a Commodore 64 and a modem and she’ll destroy the earth using the adults’ thermonuclear weapons against themselves.

I much prefer scenarios where AIs become self-aware and decide to wipe out the dangerous virus that is humankind.  Maybe kids can do that too… but chances are that the kid will probably be too busy tweeting about her despicable plan to notice the SWAT gunmen abseiling down to come shoot her in her bedroom.  Kids are too immature and too all over the place to actually do anything major.  Shit like Skynet is much more likely to succeed.  And we can’t threaten Skynet with being grounded and losing its allowance.  FFS.


My friend’s dog died today…

October 12, 2010

My friend’s staffie, Rocky, was put down today.  He’d been awfully ill for some time: he used to have a voracious appetite, but for the past couple of months he’d been right off his food; he was vomiting at least once a day (usually more); and the once-active dog was reduced to lying spread-eagled on the floor all day.  If he needed to answer the call of nature, he could just about stagger outside to the garden, then peed and crapped right there.  And his crap was so dark, almost black.

This morning my friend took Rocky to the vet’s for a scan – a few hours later he got the dreaded phone call: “He’s got tumours spreading through his insides.  There’s nothing we can do.  I advise you to have him put down now, before his suffering becomes too much to bear.”

So my friend returned to the vet’s, gave Rocky some fuss, a piece of his favourite chocolate, and bade him farewell.  Then the lethal injection was administered and Rocky fell asleep forever.

Rocky had had a good innings – he was approximately 11 or 12 years old, and for the last 10 years he’d been spoilt rotten.  He’s had a good life; but that doesn’t make it feel any better.  And now my thoughts have turned to my own dog’s mortality.  DD, my American bulldog, is only six-ish, and she is as healthy as can be – but I’m well aware that I’m probably going to outlive her.  It isn’t fair: why can’t dogs live forever?  You get a pet, love it as much as any human, and then it dies.  Life is so unfair.

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Police want to set themselves above the law

October 10, 2010

Worrying story here:  Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the most senior police officer in Britain, has been secretly lobbying the government to make it harder to take police officers to court.

Stephenson says the move is necessary to stop public money from filling lawyers’ pockets, so the police can spend it on more important stuff, like CCTV cameras and expensive lunches, instead.

But human rights lawyers and civil liberties groups don’t believe him.  Most court actions against the police are for wrongful arrest and brutality.  So opponents to the plan say it’s just a ruse to set the police above the law.

If Stephenson’s idea is taken up, it will be much harder for poorer people to take action when the police do something wrong to them.  One law for the rich, another for the poor.  Some might say “So what?  That’s how things work right now.”  And that isn’t wrong.  But the possible threat of legal action is just about the only thing keeping the police under any sort of control.  The police will be able to do anything they like.  Goddamn pigs.

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