Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forMay, 2008 | back to home

30 May 2008

Compare and contrast this revelation from the archives of British government in the 50s:

Health minister: We should “constantly inform the public of the facts” of the link between smoking and lung cancer.

Macmillan: “Expectation of life 73 for smoker and 74 for non-smoker. Treasury think revenue interest outweighs this. Negligible compared with risk of crossing a street”

With this from Yes Prime Minister:

Jim Hacker: “Humphrey, we are talking about 100,000 deaths a year.”
Sir Humphrey: “Yes, but cigarette taxes pay for a third of the cost of the National Health Service. We are saving many more lives than we otherwise could because of those smokers who voluntary lay down their lives for their friends. Smokers are national benefactors.”

29 May 2008

Pat Miller explains how to surf the web, word process, email, do instant messaging and even make Internet phone calls all with a Nintendo DS.

Mind you, at least in the UK at £79 the DS is actually more expensive than an XO (the “one laptop per child“) would be (if we could buy one), and of course it lacks a keyboard. But doing all that on something that was designed to play simple games would certainly be good for one’s geek cred.

28 May 2008
Filed under:Gadgets at11:58 am

I’ve been grinding away at my thesis and particularly in the last few weeks I have found that I get the best ideas immediately after I wake up, usually while I am in the shower. I’m obviously not alone, because someone is marketing a shower whiteboard (though the online store that sold it seems not to work any more).

23 May 2008

This artwork/prank/pr stunt is fascinating. We take the fantastically complex technology involved in webcam chat for granted, but connect two points by fibre optic cable (I’m assuming that’s how this works!) and then let people look down the “telectroscope” using the naked eye and suddenly the experience becomes magical again…

Update: I just found that CNN has de-mystified the device – it’s actually a ‘conventional’ pair of very high definition webcams.

12 May 2008

The default notes app for the iPhone, Notes, does not get backed up and doesn’t allow you to enter notes on your desktop and sync them across. There are a couple of free apps that sort this out (RemoteNote or iphonenotes) but require you to “jailbreak” your device (which I have not done just in case this voids the warranty or breaks the device). I was using Noter until recently but found it a little clumsy and then discovered the developer was going to start charging a monthly fee to use their apps. No thanks! Fortunately, the User Interface Design blog features an extended discussion of this issue and points out two work-arounds – neither is ideal but creating dummy contacts containing my todos in the notes field will do until Apple sorts the problem out properly…

9 May 2008
Filed under:Academia,Personal at10:28 am

I’ve got my theory mojo working – at least erratically – and have a stack of books by or about Erving Goffman by my desk to prove it:

From Things observed

(While I am sharing pictures, also see various London-specific stuff in my other album below):

London discoveries
2 May 2008

An extraordinary untold story unearthed from the archives by BBC Radio 4 – how British fascists released from internment after WWII started up again and were fought in the streets of Dalston (near where I used to live) and elsewhere by Jewish militants who styled themselves the 43 Group. The initial group included (mostly) ex-servicemen, five women, and a 17-year-old Vidal Sassoon. That fascists in Britain continued to spout poisonous anti-semitism (extracts were included on the program) even after the details of the holocaust began to be revealed is truly shocking to me.