Tag Archives: Interweb

Life before the Interweb

I love gadgets. I own several. One of which, a Samsung ten inch screen tablet S4 is proving its worth with every single advancing day because it has built in GPS, and I don’t have to bother with logging on to every single dodgy Wi-Fi connection every time I use most of the non-Interweb maps. Do I care that ‘the authorities’ can track my every move when I bother to take said item with me? No. I don’t feel the need to cart it around, so whoever wants to figuratively read over my shoulder will know what city I’m in, but that’s it. If I’ve locked it in the Hotel safe they won’t be able to find it at all, as a quarter inch of pressed steel makes a reasonable RF shield. That and the RF shielded carrying bag I keep it in when travelling. Switch it on when I need it, the rest of the time it’s pretty much invisible.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. Yesterday had me thinking. Over the weekend I’ve found myself remembering times past, and how we young ‘uns (as I was then) got by without the instant in-your-face immediacy of modern mobile communications. We had no Windows, Android, Tweets, blogs, Skype, Whatsap, Texting, Sexting, aps, iPhones, mobile phones, or Tablets. Computers and Telephones were far too unwieldy to be mobile, but we did have access to a form of Radio Telephony. If Dad was a high level service or Civil Engineer. Which one of my boyhood friend’s Dad’s was. No-one else we knew was, so it was no use to us. Yet we got by without much fuss. No zombie cannibal gangs dropped by to eat our brains. None of the nightmares conjured up by Hollywood came to play. The Apocalypse was for other people.

Yet we had the three day week. Scheduled power cuts for eight hours at a time in Winter. Strikes that seemed to shut everything down for days. The phone worked, but we kids weren’t allowed to use it. Later on I had my own place, and the joy of getting a phone (or trying to get) put in by British Telecom. BT’s advertising slogan ‘It’s for You-who‘ carried particular irony.

Indeed, the pace of life was slower. Much slower. Treacleishly so. People raised in today’s society would have trouble coping because their brains would be set up wrongly. Their memories are not so well developed. I also remember doing a hell of a lot of walking to see far flung friends. A brisk twenty five minute hike down unlit English B class roads with a national (60mph) speed limit which was more of a guideline than an absolute, to the nearest form of public transport. Which was usually late. Closest shop in the next village. One black and white TV in the house. My Dad liked watching snooker, which is a slightly surreal experience when you have to guess the colours. No remote control (That was me). And only, horror of horrors, three erratic channels! Remember signal ‘ghosting’?

So we kids spent a lot of our time outside. Tramping across ploughed fields. Dawn to dusk. Hunting water rats, pigeons and rabbits with catapults (slingshots) or air rifles. Or just walking, simply because you had bugger all else you could afford to do. Under age sneaking into local pubs and clubs, the closest of which were a fifteen minute shank up and down some quite steep hills and dales. Learning about building our own cars and motorcycles in our mid to late teens, if our parents allowed us the garage space, and the guy with a car was king. Or at least someone to sponge lifts off with up to eight of us crammed into an ageing Ford Corsair with suspect brakes and limited power on a Saturday night. Using side roads which we knew the local coppers rarely patrolled. Come to think of it, the Police didn’t figure much in our lives. And we were invariably unsupervised. Walking and talking. Face to face.

You had hobbies, part time jobs. You experimented. Especially with something dangerous (Particularly the local girls – especially those who rode horses). Travelling for two hours just to go ten pin bowling or to see a movie. Hunting through poorly indexed racks of twelve inch vinyl for your favourite bands latest album. Then the luxury of hours spent reading, standing rapt, almost statue like in front of the paperbacks in W H Smith.

Some would call it ‘idyllic’, even a ‘golden age’, but I disagree. There were long, dare I say interminable periods of boredom, staring listlessly out at traditional English weather (rain, sleet, hail). Rarely getting out to play under heavily cloud punctuated blue or more often totally grey skies. Come to think of it, that’s what the Internet is; like constant sunshine with occasional light refreshing showers. Information to bathe, soak, indolently loll and roll recklessly around in the long grass. A world of knowledge and opportunity at your very fingertips. Book a rail ticket on the other side of the world. Book a restaurant or day trip. Learn a language. Watch a movie. Watch endless ‘banned’ content. Compared to the pre internet days, when all information was closely guarded, hard to find, and only sporadically available via the nearest library (two hours away on foot and by public transport) today is the golden age.

Beep bloody boop bolleaux

I like WordPress, I really do. As a blog platform it works, or should I rather say worked. I know it’s free and the mildly customisable templates are free, the widgets are not as adaptable as other blog platforms, but that’s by the by. I like the anti-spam and IP blocking features which help keep the trolls at bay. All that was needed was to engage one’s intellect a little, and it’s a solid piece of kit. Which in my book is high praise. The only thing that is scrolling my knurd at the moment is the way it’s defaulting to this bloody silly ‘Beep, beep, boop’ post editor.

FFS! Who decided that a lower function, less intuitive, far slower to load post editor was a good idea. I mean, seriously guys. It dumbs down the whole platform and has me wondering aloud if there’s something better than WordPress out there. Blogger was once a decent platform until it became too hidebound, too vulnerable. There’s Tumblr and Pinterest of course, but neither fit my needs as a small time billy no mates of the blogosphere. Ghost might be a good idea, but it’s not really free. The software is, but the hosting isn’t.

There’s a bunch of others which I’ll be investigating over the next week or so. Or WordPress could ditch the ‘beep,boop, bloody beep’ crap and let everyone use the classic interface which loads cleanly and without kitsch. Not that I expect anyone to be listening, but it would be nice if they dropped the cutesy nonsense, which frankly chums, is a bit too girly for my liking.

Secret societies

A humble Bacon buttyWhilst researching today for my impending trip to Paris, I found that while there is a recipe for ‘French bacon sandwiches’ it is sadly not French. The French have no recipe for bacon sandwiches. Probably because this humble dish is  so simple it does not require one. However, they do have the ‘Croque Monsieur’ which is a toasted bacon and cheese butty. Which is all very fine, but can the French be said to be truly civilised if they have no bacon sandwiches? Alas no. It’s almost like there is a secret cabal of chefs dictating what recipes may or may not be produced in la belle France.

Secret society recruitmentSideways from that topic, back in the 1970’s and 80’s there was a big fuss about ‘secret’ societies, particularly Freemasonry. Which was a bit silly, as Freemasons were about as secret as ‘dogging’ in public is today. Everyone knew who the local Masons were as they would be spotted leaving home in their neat suits with their neat slimline briefcases, or outside the local Masonic hall. Their (hardly) bloodcurdling rituals were supposed to be secret, but there were just so gosh-darned many Masons that you couldn’t help but hear about the aprons and rolling up of left trouser legs, never mind the Golf Club tales of secret handshakes and initiation rituals with hood, noose and dagger. When I was small, my father could cite their rituals chapter and verse, and he wasn’t even a member. Masons couldn’t have been less secret if they’d tried. Nowadays they’ve even got their own web site. Some secret society, huh?

In these Interweb connected days there can be no secret societies. Well, none worth being a member of. From Opus Dei to the Rosicrucians, they’ve all got their own web sites, which is hardly ‘secret’ is it? The moment your little clique opens a Farcebook page, they’ve come out of the closet and can’t really claim to be a secret society. Heavens to Murgatroyd, even a Childhood Secret Club is more secretive, and they won’t have members over nine years old. Unless of course they are Trainspotters.

A Secret Trainspotter
A Secret Trainspotter

Trainspotters are said to have a top secret inner cabal who are so furtive they don’t even go trainspotting. At least during the hours of daylight. They are sometimes pictured wearing masks while prowling for that rare Deltic or Type 1 Diesel.

Trainspotters top secret headquarters, Ipswich
Trainspotters top secret headquarters, Ipswich

Rumours of Vampirism abound.

More sinister though are the ‘leadership’ organisations like ‘Common purpose‘ who actively form a cabal within public institutions, pushing a politically correct agenda upon the rest of us via their cosy little sinecure posts in various Quango’s, NGO’s and other neo-fascist organisations. They claim to want to create a ‘better’ world, which fits in with their own personal agenda’s. Everyone else is an outsider.

Frankly all these soi-disant societies want is exclusivity. Their own exclusive little club where they get to set the rules and bugger all the great unwashed. Who will just have to sit up straight, be quiet and do what they are told. So there. Rather like organised religion in fact, where a bunch of old farts in dresses get to boss everyone else around because God says so. By the way, God says he always ignores priests, as none of them ever listen to him, so why should he give the snotty little eejits the time of day?

As for exclusivity, if that’s what these people want; then it should be freely given. Along with a very large portion of cold shoulder.

Banned?

No book zoneI was loading up my eReader today with freebie books to read while Mrs S and I are visiting and digesting the Cite de Lumiere and was directed to a download site called http://www.manybooks.net. While perusing these web pages, I found my eye taken by a ‘banned books’ category.

Being eternally curious, I decided to take a quick look at the contents of the ‘banned’ pages to see what salaciousness was contained therein. Well let me tell you chums, I was shocked. Shocked, offended and scandalised to my very core. And also not a little disappointed. Apart from not having a copy of the 1951 epic “Racially pure Nazi BDSM Anal Virgin Porn Queens from planet 9″, by the Paraguayan Science Fiction colossus M Bormann*, a rare but worthy classic where every third word in the dialogue is sexually pejorative, all that I found were things like “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, “Common Sense” by Tom Paine and that dull collectivist treatise “Das Kapital” by one of the Marx brothers (Harpo possibly, I’m not sure). Should they have been banned? And upon whose say-so? See for yourselves.

* Bormann, originally a German politician of the 1930’s and 40’s, never got over the poor reviews of his work; was later heard to muse “Maybe I shouldn’t have made the heroine so Jewish”

Google off

I’ve dropped the once but no longer useful Google as a search engine as they have made the decision to be the arbiter of ‘truth’ on the jolly old Interweb. Google will now rank websites based on the Google decided amount of ‘truthiness’ of a sites content. Now isn’t that something the original Googlers told us they would never do? Besides, apart from loading the algorithms, which may have the law of unforeseen consequences bounding out into the limelight as usual I can’t see the benefit. Especially when sites that have forked out good money to the advertising arm of said organisation find themselves losing web traffic, yet have had their rank adjusted downwards for reduced ‘truth’ levels. How are Google going to vet all the sites on the Internet? Also, who gets to say what the ‘truth’ is? Especially surrounding areas of controversy? Put your lawyers on danger money, baby.

The problem is that Google has become the victim of its own success. It became big enough for the political and corporate world to take notice and insert their insidious tentacles into the enterprise (I’m told there are Manga web sites that cater for just such proclivities). In order to ‘go along and get along’ Google will toe their new masters line, warping their search engine to fit in with various corporate and political orthodoxies, serving up the version they are told into a neat little pre-package of ‘truth’, ranking web sites accordingly. Which will go down like a lead balloon with the Interweb’s more discerning abusers. It’s fun to Fisk.

After little more than a week of switching search engines from http://google.com / co.uk / .ca to the highly functional http://duckduckgo.com in three of the five browsers I regularly use, my spyware detection programme is showing a marked decrease in detected threats. My antivirus and both firewall logs also show a marked decrease in recorded threats.

Without having more than a three scan dataset off each, it’s hard to quantify the actual percentage, but using Google as my search engine meant I was getting around 150-155 spyware ‘threats’ every five days, much of which were those cheeky little web tracking cookies. Now I’m only logging 85-95. My web usage hasn’t varied that much either, apart from switching search engines.

To be honest I’m quite pleasantly surprised. Security scans take only two thirds the time they did less than a fortnight ago. I may even end up dropping Chrome as a browser. Who knows?

Still feeling a little carp

Well wasn’t that fun young Bill? Well, actually a clear and resounding ‘No’. Not a fun bout of the dreaded Lurgi at all. My chest is still a little sore, with leftover muscle aches from all the coughing and spluttering which has seen me consigned to the spare bedroom for over a week. “One of us has got to get some sleep dear.” Said my good lady wife, pointedly shutting the door on my palsied frame.

The green chunks have faded to clear, my snottiness quotient is now at more or less normal levels, and I am a functioning human being again. Feeling thankful that bouts of this kind are few and far between. Still feeling a little carp, but that’s to be expected.

Feeling a little Carp Normal sarcasm levels will be restored as soon as I’ve got a handle on what they should be anyway.

In the meantime, doubt is being cast (yet again) on those ‘Government Health Guidelines’ this time on salt. When you actually read the article and see the various assumptions the original researchers made, the light should dawn. The prodnoses have it wrong yet again. Or should we say ‘as usual’?

Man down

Yes, Captain Ranty is gone. Last heard of on his Twitter feed 6th March 2015. The augury was not good. Now via Henry Crun and JuliaM we have the news of his passing. No whys or wherefores, just R.I.P. Colin Grainger.

Despite our differences, I always held Ranty in high regard. His blog sent a lot of traffic my way, and for that I’m grateful. We’ve corresponded privately on various matters from time to time and I actually developed a genuine liking for the man. For no matter what you think of his views, the one thing he didn’t lack was integrity. For sheer bull headed stubbornness, he never minded taking the biscuit, sometimes the entire lemon meringue. He was an entertaining fellow and regrettably this has become an alas-poor-Yorick post. There were too few of his calibre in this world and I know we’ve all got to go sometime, but not without a bit of serious kicking and screaming in the process, eh?

Now please Death, no more of our friends and favoured ones for a while, yes? There’s been too much dying of late, and frankly I need a break.

atque in perpetuum frater ave atque vale

Comments reactivated.

When is a phobia not a phobia?

In certain circles, it’s become a cheap and easy toss-off (Usually made by complete tossers) to describe voices raised in opposition to an event, type of politics or whatever as ‘phobic’. We here at the Bill Sticker Sarcastic Society for the protection of Words must once more mobilise our keyboards and raise our screenstrained eyes to stare down the dyslexic forces of darkness. Even now our Volunteer legion of word jugglers, stunt editors and grammarian marksmen (and women) are dusting off their arsenal of semi automatic .303 Oxford English dictionaries and .50 calibre Merriam Webster spellcheckers. Trying to ignore the naked porn queens cavorting through the reference section (and you thought libraries were boring, huh?) girding their weary loins to do battle once more for today’s much victimised collection of syllables:

Phobia
Line breaks: pho¦bia
Pronunciation: /ˈfəʊbɪə
/
Definition of phobia in English:
noun
An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. Eg: she suffered from a phobia about birds.  Medical definition here.

It is important to differentiate between fear and phobia. Fear is an anxiety which does not have to be irrational. Indeed, it is the act of an extremely rational mind to feel anxious in the face of a very real threat. One cannot buck the Autonomic response. Say for example you are in the vicinity of a large and hungry wild predator capable of killing you, or of a known to be violent person (or associated with their doctrine) carrying a firearm and whose stated intent is the extinction of your culture and everything you have come to hold dear including you. To suffer extreme anxiety in these cases falls firmly under justifiable fear. In neither case is the fear irrational. To call such a fear a phobia is fundamentally (I know) dishonest and possibly even maliciously mendacious.

Furthermore, to call a mild aversion to a ‘phobia’ is likewise inaccurate, and a cheap tool in the arsenal of louche propagandisers.  Like using the excuse “Sorry I’m allergic” when you really mean “I’m sorry but I don’t particularly like Tofu Sausages.” or “I’m squeamish but don’t want to sound like the self obsessed fuckwit I am.”  Real allergies can range from that which raises a light rash to a truly life threatening condition, throwing the body into something as dire as Anaphylactic shock.  Anything less is simply a food intolerance (and possibly not even that) which may only result in mild indigestion and excessive farting.  Conflating the two is simply being a complete diet obsessive tit or a drama queen who needs to get out more. So it is with Phobias. Blurring the lines between a rational fear and irrational phobia is simply a cheap “I don’t want to hear that – La-la-la. You can’t say what I don’t like or I’ll scream and scream until I’m sick!” shut up line and therefore can be discounted.

Thank you.