“It’s time Jim but not as we know it …”

I’m sure you’ve noticed how bizarre the meters are for installing software, copying, downloading etc.  The copying is going to take 3 days 4 hours and 27 minutes, then 2 mins later it will take 3 hours 32 mins, then 27 mins and finally it’s all over quicker than you can make a cup of coffee.  Then there are those downloads where there is one minute left to go which somehow ends up taking far longer than making a cup of coffee.  Even  the last ten seconds seems to stretch out towards infinity.  Since software like this is designed by software designers and/or programmers we can only assume that they do it according to their own experience of time, which leaves us with some strange observations about how they must live.  The software designer with two minutes to catch the bus surely must inevitably arrive an hour after it has gone.  Another programmer is writing his Christmas list only to find that by the time he’s finished it is Boxing Day.  They must all miss their birthdays one way or another and have absolutely no idea how old they actually are.  Clearly, they never manage to get married unless it is to another designer or programmer with the same bizarre time perception as their own and even then it must be hit and miss whether they make it to the church or registry office at the right time and don’t manage to end up at the Reception before the wedding.   Some of them, of course, may have the good fortune of stretching the last moments of their lives off into infinity with “just a few seconds left …” whilst others never knew what hit them as their retirement flashed past reducing from 25 years 6 weeks 3 days and 27 minutes to 1 day 3 hours and 4 mins before the first year of their retirement is over!  So; next time you are faced with a digital countdown that is apparently defying all known laws of physics spare a thought for these poor miserable people in their strange universe where the worst TV advert can last all evening and lovemaking is reduced to a fraction of a second instead of the usual six years three weeks two days four hours 28 minutes and 33 seconds :-)

OK Computer …!!!

Yesterday I received a telephone call.  Nothing strange about that but it was not from a human being.  It addressed me by name and asked me if that was who I was and then wanted me to verify who I am by answering security questions.  I put the phone down.  This call came from a major company who I buy a service from.  They have just told me that I am such a valuable customer that they cannot spare the time to have a real person talk to me.  I am only worth being spoken to by a very dumb and stupid machine.  In today’s Politically Correct society I am probably risking being labelled as ‘Machinist’ (Machines are people too!) but I doubt I am alone in getting fed up with automated phone calls selling services and long-winded computerized menus when you phone almost any large company or government department, let alone this new breed of service call.  An answering service when an office is unoccupied or the phone lines too busy is one thing but spending 20 minutes talking to a computer just to find out where you can get an answer to a simple query is something else….and let’s face it, computers are extremely dim.  Not just a bit, oh I put my socks on inside out kind of mistakes, but really and utterly stupid.  If you spelt ‘London Road’ on a letter as ‘London Rod’ there is little doubt the postman would still get it to the right address.  A computer would send it back to you stating coldly that the address does not exist.  Here’s another daft one, when a credit card is processed manually and all the security details match the dim-witted machine asks whether you want to accept or decline the transaction as if there could be any possible reason you would want to decline it when everything matches … DUH!   1984 and 2001 have both past by yet the inhuman vision of a world ruled by machines still looms in the future.  Will it be Hal or Big Brother?

What Will They think Of Us?

With the recent admissions by the oil industries that oil supplies did in fact peak around 2002 and the gloomy outlook of increasing fuel prices as supplies decline how many people are wondering quite what we have done and how many are just madly fiddling away while Rome (ie the fuel) is burning? As was predicted by an astute man in the seventies, our nonchalant consumption of fossil fuels placed on a 10,000 year graph will look rather like a slim penis in the middle of the vast timeframe to either side. Is it nature’s way of telling us we’ve been a load of dickheads?

Okay, so there are other power sources and some 80% of the cars on show at the Birmingham Car Show this year were electric but so far nobody has any clue how we could fuel an airplane other than with fossil fuels. That means the same is even more true for a space rocket. It may be millions of years in the future but when our sun goes nova we have to leave this planet or mankind becomes one big fry-up. If by that time there is still no other way to fuel a rocket ship what will those last humans think of us as they watch the sun explode? There are plenty of poor excuses of course … you’re thinking about them right now … but isn’t it incredible that it took us until the fossil fuel supply peaked to even begin to take the problem seriously and recognise the danger of having based our lives on a non-replaceable fuel supply. To say that the last 50 odd years of the so-called developed nations has been governed by short-sighted selfishness is putting in mildly and even now people are saying, “They’ll come up with something” or “xxxx fuel is the answer” when what they really mean is, “I don’t really care because I’ll be dead by the time it gets really tough.” That is assuming we have any idea how much or how little time we have until it gets tough … and when the tough gets going there’ll be nowhere to go.

You might want to take a look at Greenpeace here

If you don’t know about the peaking of oil supplies then take a look at this.

There is also Tim Flannery’s book The Weather Makers here.

Or an in-depth review of George Monbiot’s book Heat here.

None of it is easy reading but it’s better than being an ostrich.

Weather to go or not to go …

On Thursday we looked at the five day weather forecast and Saturday was going to be sunny intervals with no rain whilst Friday was going to be overcast.  Let’s go on Saturday, we decided.  Well, here it is and we sit here on Saturday looking out of the window at the pouring rain having had a lovely sunny day yesterday wondering how it is the Metereological Office staff keep their jobs and why weather reports are not listed under Fantasy & Fiction.  Best guess is that they have a pack of cards with weather symbols on and just flick a few down for the coming five days and then when each day arrives they do what we all do and look out the window first thing in the morning.  Then they quickly change today’s weather forecast to whatever looks most likely for the day.  When I was twelve years old our geography teacher explained cold fronts, weather patterns, wind speeds and then exclaimed that all this shows why weather reporting is so accurate.  He was most upset at the howl of laughter that went up from thirty young kids yet all these years later we still go by these predictions that are so often wrong … must be to do with the wrong type of leaves or something :-)

To Epson or Not to Epson, that is the question!

We were buying authentic Epson ink cartridges for our office printers via Amazon Marketplace sellers. Then we got two cartridges that stopped working even when they showed up as still half full. We emailed Epson about it. They weren’t amazingly friendly but did agree we could send them in for testing and refund if they were not more than 90 days from purchase (how generous!). So we did. What we didn’t expect was an email from Epson telling us they were not genuine Epson cartridges but fake Epson cartridges with non-Epson ink in them. We emailed Amazon about it but have still had no reply. Epson won’t tell us what action they’ve taken either. Whichever of the Marketplace sellers we bought from who supplied these is obviously a criminal taking advantage of these wonderfully overpriced Epson consumables. So what do you do? Buy list price genuine Epson ink cartridges from Epson just to be sure, which probably involves remortgaging property to afford the bill or buy compatibles that are vastly cheaper and which, after a few replacements, pay for a new printer from the savings. This of course does leave you with the “oh god, what am I doing to the environment” blues. Maybe we should all sue Epson for causing such emotional suffering in the first place. Or should we all go back to pen and paper and stuff these daft printers that jam, squeak, splurge and drink ink faster than a Mancurian can down beer? If the planet is going down the pan maybe we should go right back to writing on stone tablets since they’ll still be there when all our books have been eaten by cockroaches, our CDs all rusted and our film records decayed. In those circumstances the only good point is that Epson won’t be around to laugh about it and nor will their printers.

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