Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Automated tubes are needed sooner

So, it seems that TFL have managed to cause outrage because someone somewhere leaked a document specifically designed to come up with radical ideas for the future of the tube.

It's not so much that the RMT have displayed a complete failure to understand the nature of business before running around and crying about something like this that annoys me (and believe me, companies asking for such far reaching ideas is hardly something new), it's more the fact that they insist in living in some kind of alternate reality where they genuinely seem to believe the crap that comes out their mouths on a daily basis.

Apparently, according to Bob Crow's merry men driver-less trains will be the death of us all! Trains will be crashing into each other, decapitating passengers, and devastating society before we know it. They know this as a fact beyond refute. After all, they watched that Terminator documentary back in the 80s, and learnt all about it.

Could you imagine it, driver-less trains carrying all those people to their inevitable demise just to save a few quid. Christ it's amazing that anyone could have thought of doing something so neglege.....what's that? The DLR hasn't had drivers since, well, ever? Really? But surely someone would have noticed that? Where the hell are they keeping the bodies of everyone foolish enough to travel on it? What's that, the DLR isn't actually a mass murdering machine gone mad? Really? How odd. But that would mean the RMT are making shit up to further their own ends? Surely not.

Anyway, as it turns out nobody bothered to mention the DLR to Bob Crow either, and he considers this potential tube plan to be "lethal and ill-conceived". Seriously.

Another thing nobody's mentioned to Bob Crow was neatly included in a BBC report on the issue. And that's the fact that in the new trains on the Victoria Line, and those on the Jubilee Line, the drivers don't, and I'm going to slow this sentence down for you, actually...drive...the...fucking...trains. All they do is open the doors.

Now, for those of you who never paid attention in school, way back in history before the internet taught us about photographing our pets and making a funny caption, a man named Pavlov discovered that you can train a dog to salivate when given a stimulus. And, way back in your own history, you learnt not to open the door to Mummy or Daddy's car when it was moving. I'm guessing you were about 3 when you did that, and in the other example the subject was a FUCKING DOG. So, with this in mind, will someone please tell me what value the driver is adding?

The reality is simple, automated trains are safe, have been proven to be safe, and confirm the reality that tube drivers are, on their absolute best day, largely irrelevant. They are also far more reliable, don't turn up to work drunk (and won't go on strike when someone get's fired for doing just that), they don't call in sick, and aren't liable to random temper tantrums. Or to put it another way, they're just better.

But lets extend that idea just slightly. Soon we get to the idea that computer announcements can be understood by actual people, rather than, well, practically no-one, and can also be made in multiple languages (and it's got to be a national embarrassment that we don't do that) at no extra cost

It doesn't take a lot to realise that the essential value being added by a large percentage of the staff on the underground is to compensate for a lack of investment in decent technical infrastructure, and a well thought out passenger communication programme.

Fundamentally there are arguments for keeping the staff on the trains, and there are as many counter arguments against it, and it comes down to one thing, you're either a Luddite scared of a future that you're not equipped to live in, or you want progress.

Finally, and I've mentioned this before, for all their noise about it, the RMT simply do not care about your safety. If they did then they wouldn't go on strike. Because (and I know I've linked this before too) when they do go on strike, they endanger the safety of every. single. person. in. London. Read more here

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Fat Plan 2012

Don't worry everyone, the government have fixed it again. Today they have announced that to cut obesity in the UK we need to put less food in our mouths, and exercise more. I'm so glad we live in a country where there are people employed to think of these things so we don't have to. If only there were a way I could donate more money to help them do more of this research.

We should be grateful though, without these people in charge it would fall on amateurs like me to point these things out. We're so lucky to have Andrew Lansley to look after us instead. Chances are that without him Middlesborough would have collapsed in on itself under it's own mass by now, and people would be modifying gym equipment to create food catapults to launch blancmange into the mouths of Jeremy Kyle viewers.

On the whole though, it's not all bad news. We do at least live in a largely sport obsessed country, that encourages some of the unhealthiest people imaginable to stuff half-cooked burgers into their mouths while shouting at the athletes in front of them that they aren't performing up to the crowd's standards. So at least the government haven't had to do all the hard work here.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Your lack of privacy is your own fault

I've just been playing with the new Facebook lists functionality in order to group everybody, fine tune my posting, and implement a sophisticated social filter for myself. After literally seconds of thought I've decided that the most efficient way to do this is to have one list, which I've dubbed "friends" and put everyone in there. This is essentially because I'm not a fucking retard.

Lists, and Circles. Two words that should have sod all to do with each other.

These days however, they're the latest examples of humanity's new found desire to open every essence of their being to world + dog, but under the false protection of some overly complicated means of self filtering.

Ladies and gentlemen, the sentence you've just read, is, quite simply, utter crap. It's a relatively fair bet that if you're reading this you've got an account on Facebook, Google +, or both. Which means you've been incensed by their crazy new privacy policies, and failed utterly to come to terms with the fact that they're free services, of which you are in no way obliged to use, that exist (in your terms) to allow you to share things with people easily, and (in their terms) to develop a massive marketing knowledge base to monetize your lives and sell advertising space, and incredibly specific market data.

Put simply, there is only one filter you need ever use online. Common bloody sense. The question is easy; Do you want everyone to be able to see something? If the answer isn't yes, then don't post it. Don't sit there thinking you can protect it by creating some complicated filters. You won't, you'll fuck up, you'll move someone, forget to use one of them, or, if you have more than about 25 friends, forget who is in them.

Don't think that by not having people as friends you're protecting yourself either. You can still screw the same things up as above and make something public, but more importantly, it takes less time for me to copy your drunken, embarrassing, semi nude photos, that you may not have even put up yourself, than it took for me to type this sentence. And once I've done that you're fucked. Most of the time I probably don't even need to know you to do it either.

A few weeks back I got a random postcard delivered to my flat from some guy on holiday, declaring his love for a girl that didn't live there, with whom he'd presumably had some holiday romance with. I'd never met either of them, and had no idea who they were.

Within 5 minutes, and using nothing but two first names, a date and the location of a holiday (postmarks are useful here) I'd found both of them on Facebook. I also learnt that she had a boyfriend, who had a decidedly different name to the guy who sent the postcard. It doesn't take much to think about what I could have done there.

So remember, if you're worried about people being able to see things that you'd rather they didn't online. You volunteered for this.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

I wouldn't do this normally, i'm not the type of person for writing obituaries, and in this case i'm certainly not qualified to write this one either. But thinking about it over the course of the day, the impact Steve Jobs has had on almost everything that uses electricity in my place is staggering. And I'm not just talking about the Apple products.

His attitude to technology, and his drive to deliver the simplest, most effective, and most beautiful, technology on the planet has literally set the standard that all electronics companies have to follow. And I mean HAVE to follow. No longer is it good enough to provide something incredibly clever, and enter a market on that alone, you can no longer produce something that looks average, and get by because behind the scenes it's actually rather good. These days you have to strike for excellence across the board. Apple did that, and Steve made Apple do that. Steve Jobs didn't so much as raise the bar, he invented an entirely new unit of measurement on which to base the bar.

It's impossible to know what the future will be for Apple in the long term, or for any of it's competitors. But if Steve is to have one lasting legacy, I hope it's that no matter what people do with their lives, they should do what the love, and do things to excel in them. Steve, through Apple and Pixar, showed the world what can be done with that attitude, let's hope the rest of us can keep the idea rolling.

RIP Steve Jobs