Every Day Is Like Sunday

And every website looks the same, because people are lazy and unwilling to take chances. When I worked in web design and development around the turn of the century we had to work hard to convince clients that this was a different medium and they shouldn’t just shovel their existing marketing collateral onto their domain. Brochureware was everywhere.

Forbes was still writing about brochureware in 2010.

I recently came across online design package Visme, which among many other things will produce presentations. Rather grimly, the lacklustre template design of contemporary website has now slithered its way into presentation templates.


Cog symbols and a wrench, curly brackets and a Wi-fi symbol equals technology now.

So Long And Thanks For All The Bricks

I Love You, You Pay My Rent

No, you don’t own that Internet of Things device, you’re just renting it. With renting must come great trust that the manufacturer won’t be acquired by a larger company, which had just recently itself been acquired by one of the largest companies of them all, which will then decide that it will go ahead and permanently switch off that snazzy household hub you thought you owned. More fool you.

The companies involved are, in this order, Revolv, Nest and Google. The product is a hub which acts as a controller for many connected devices in the home – lights, kettles, thermostats and so on.

Google’s parent company is deliberately disabling some of its customers’ old smart-home devices (Business Insider)


From revolv.com, 7th April 2016

This is more than just a bit awkward and doesn’t bode well for people actually trusting tech companies to deliver the connected home of their dreams. (Wait, have people actually been dreaming about this?)

Google has a long history of shutting things down when they don’t work out the way Google had hoped. This isn’t in any way unusual in a successful business with multiple product lines that boast billions of customers worldwide. Strategic imperatives change, project champions are reassigned or leave the company entirely. Heck, things get ditched by Google because their videos are starting to creep the Internet out.

“There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs,” wrote Courtney Hohne, a director of communications at Google and the spokeswoman for Google X.

Having said all that, surely customers could expect a product not to be unilaterally switched off by the company that made it, or in this case the one that has inherited the obligations of the company that made it?

For a lot more about what may or may not be going on at Nest, it was covered in a fair bit of detail on the Jay & Farhad Show not that long ago.


Yum Yum

As software continues to eat the world, this leaves your average consumer in a bit of a bind when going about their dutiful business of consuming. When previously making purchase decisions about commonplace household devices they didn’t have to consider whether they trusted the manufacturer not to switch the thing off entirely at some unspecified time in the future.

We have recently become accustomed to shortened product lifecycles mostly through the galloping progress of mobile devices, moving rapidly from portable two-way communications tool to indispensable digital servant, companion and familiar. The industry’s marketing efforts are almost all directed to promoting the improvements available in the new versions of their devices. Longevity of any device or the software that makes it function is alien. In that world 18 months is now seen as a reasonable enough expectable lifespan for a product. Keen early adopters can easily find reasons to upgrade their phones on a much shorter cycle.

Built in obsolescence has been a thing that manufacturers have half-heartedly tried to deny for close on a century now, ever since the Phoebus cartel of light bulb manufacturers brazenly created the concept in 1924. The damn light bulbs were just too well made to be profitable enough. Members of the cartel were fined if their bulbs worked for too many hours.

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (99% Invisible podcast, 16 minutes)

The cloud isn’t magic – it’s just someone else’s hard drive*.

What is the ownership model anyway? As a consumer you own the device, but not the service? So if the hardware in your house requires the continued existence of the service, and Google decides to kill the service then you’re just plain out of luck? That seems … decidedly unfair. Not illegal, obviously, because you read through the massively long EULA, right?

You would expect your car to keep working far longer than 18 months after manufacture of the model is discontinued. Although your car can now be disabled remotely if you don’t keep up the repayments.

Are we customers suffering from an outmoded way of thinking about ownership and simply haven’t caught up with the companies who understand that they are renting these things to us, but are not yet entirely upfront about telling us?

As software and hardware are now fully intertwined, with hardware devices like the Revolv hub requiring not just onboard software and an Internet connection to function, but also other software remotely located on someone else’s servers, what else could we predict might be switched off with little warning? Google’s much discussed self driving car? Smaller devices like Chromecasts?

I can’t imagine Apple or Samsung taking a decision to do something like this. They are both historically hardware companies first and foremost, with software and services to support this hardware. Google is a software and services company which is relatively new to hardware. It is hard to tell whether Google will modify its approach to connected hardware and provide guarantees of device lifespan from time of purchase, or whether other hardware manufacturers will learn from Google that switching off the servers is a very effective way of reducing support costs for a product line to near zero.


☆ Want You To Know: I Strictly Roots

UK Politics Roundup

Should you change your password? Or should you wait? Or should you not bother? Exactly how long should you wait? Who should you tell about your new password? Should you use your Yahoo! email to tell people you have or haven't changed your password?

Other Internet (And Ting)

Dropbox announces it has 275 million users, a $10bn valuation and almost 700 employees. There's also an Android version of Mailbox available with a desktop version on the way. Surely they must be considering becoming evil sometime soon? They've achieved the required scale.

Silicon Valley start-up sexism on Secret.

In The Year 2121, Or Thereabouts

What we will all be reading by firelight in our caves while sheltering from the drone swarms. Which will be controlled by furiously nodding Octopus Raft-wearing robots.

Definitely Worth Pondering

Totally Confused, Video Edition

James Of Thrones, Werner Herzog on chickens, 'Requiem For A Studio Guitar Player, 'Like A Rolling Sex Machine', and an invisible car

Today's worst attempt at being controversial.

Song for the day is 'Uptown Top Ranking' by Anthea and Donna, as obliquely referenced a bit above.

☆ Want You To Know: Intergalactic

The (Somewhat) Real World

Darth Vader has been prevented from running in the Ukrainian presidential elections in May. Earth has yet again missed out on a potential galactic empire. Will we never learn?

If you're even remotely incompetent, video games may enrage you. Hence it is not recommended that you go anywhere near QWOP.

Real world athletics isn't much better as the drones have started to attack. This is only the beginning.

In Android news, there'll be ads on your lock screen before long. Allegedly.

Bubble? What bubble?

A Polish politician is travelling to the UK to find out what life is like as a migrant. In the process of solving Poland's emigration problem he has incidentally secured himself quite an amount of media coverage. Well played, Artur Debski, well played.

Today In Facepalm

Kate Mulgrew has caused consternation amongst geeks by providing the narration for 'The Principle'. The Sun really does revolve around the Earth after all. Because of science, apparently.

Because of serendipity, that page also provides today's bottom half of the Internet highlight.

I showed your online tellarium and the animated Geocentricity pictures to our share a lunch together church group. They were very surprised but very interested. Our pastor told us that he believed in Geocentricity.
I sent an email to the president of the world Society Of Evangelical Arminians, informing him about your belief in Geocentricity, and he replied, ‘do you really expect me to answer this email.’
I did not expect this answer. I never replied to him.

Fusion Television

Silicon Thrones?

My Heart Bleeds For You, Internet

heartbleed.com, engadget.com, test your server.

Vox.com launched and the New York Times got breathlessly excited about the whole thing, especially the bespoke CMS, Chorus. This must be the first time that a CMS has been described as being "sexy enough to be a recruiting tool." Go here for your helping of card-based journosplaining.

Totally Confused

Angry Apple emails, petrol-sniffing spiders, light on Mars, tipping smart cars and the salvation of your eternal soul is now downloading.

Cold music. A song for Winnipeg winters. 'These Are Grounds For Violence'.

Relevant music. Beastie Boys, 'Intergalactic'

Finally, this is extremely pretty and for a very good cause. Go and make some memories …

☆ Want You To Know: Sussudio

Wazzupp Internet?

Doctors and trolls are doing battle in the depths of the Internet. At the moment it seems the trolls are winning. Perhaps the doctors would have more success if they built a new Twitter and let the trolls frolic there. The US government tried something similar with 'Cuban Twitter'. Zun-Zun-Zuneo (to be sung to the tune of 'Sussudio' by Phil Collins).

USAID, in trying to harass the Cuban government, wound up financially supporting it. As the world has learned in the past year, you can’t talk about freedom of expression online without talking about the integrity of the infrastructure that channels that expression. Over the past year, Americans have learned how much of our own Internet infrastructure is compromised.

/b/ have apparently launched an attack on the World Cup. Seems to be as aimless as many of /b/'s recent projects.

Twitter employees are certainly loyal and know how to get the brand out there no matter what the situation. Claire Diaz-Otiz live-tweeted the birth of her daughter yesterday. Above and beyond the call of duty folks.

Regarding Ireland

Mmmm, Eye Candy

Tetris on a skyscraper. Yellow sticky notes | Canadian Anijam, a collaborative animation

Shakespeare plays as three panel comics.

Totally Confused

Whale poop, #riotselfie, swearing as a foreign language , Sherlock Holmes and Intelligent Design and tour the British Isles in accents.

Today's cover version of David Bowie's 'Heroes / Helden' is by Janelle Monae

☆ Want You To Know: Crowdfunding Rich White Guys

Crowdfunding Grows Up

It’s been an interesting few weeks for crowdfunding. Octopus Raft gave some enraged backers a salutary lesson in what exactly crowdfunding was. Perhaps more importantly it showed what crowdfunding wasn’t, or at least not yet. Funding using this model does not equal investment. Don’t expect a return proportional to the amount you put in when your darling pet project is acquired by some industry behemoth. Expect to get exactly what you were told you would receive when you funded the project.

Still, some investing maxims can be applied to crowdfunded projects. If it looks to good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. The ongoing fuss over GoBe from HealthBe proves this.

Over to David Ahn, writing on imedicalapps.com

Therein lies the problem with crowd-funding platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter. There is little or no accountability when it comes to these projects.

More troubling, Indiegogo allows for flexible funding campaigns, which delivers your money to the project owners at the time of initial pledge, even if the campaign does not meet its goal. While the GoBe project far surpassed its goal, all initial investors would have been out of their money even if the project did not reach resolution.

As such, all $630k that has been contributed to GoBe is non-refundable at this time, and users are not able to re-gather their money unless the project owner permits.

Always read the small print, although in this brave new world that may not be enough. Indiegogo’s response to Pando showing evidence of what might well be fraud seems to have been to delete their anti-fraud guarantee.

Rich White Guys Update

‘one used to be a dude, one’s super small, one’s hyper-smart’

This is how Rich White Guy Elon Musk described his information security team in some sort of weird attack on satire / defence of humourlessness.

At around the same time one of the Koch brothers took to the editorial pages in the Wall Street Journal to explain what a hard time Rich White Guys were having right now.

Steve Jobs, one of the greatest Rich White Guys ever displayed a rather poor choice of words in a 2010 email which featured a bullet point “2011: Holy War with Google”. Them’s fightin’ words alright.


Read Before You Write

NPR pulled a rather magnificent April Fools’ prank on the stream-twits. These are the people who don’t actually read anything that appears in their Facebook stream apart from the headline, but immediately crack their knuckles and get stuck into posting comments. On the article they haven’t read.


‘The Guilt Of The Video-Game Millionaires

But for many of these young game-maker millionaires, who created their work out of a passion for play rather than prospecting, the wealth and attention can be jarring. In February, Dong Nguyen, the creator of Flappy Bird, a recent iOS game that had inexplicably risen to the top of the App Store charts, stopped selling his game even though it earned him an estimated fifty thousand dollars a day.

The Internet Of Slang

Gawker has banned it. “We want to sound like regular adult human beings, not Buzzfeed writers or Reddit commenters.” Zing! Take that, Buzzfeed writers.

Meanwhile, the-toast.net offers some suggestions for even more Internet slang. Carrie Jewett’s tongue may be slightly in her cheek.

Totally Confused, Weekend Longreads Edition

The Dead Zoo Gang, The People’s Republic of Zuckerstan, The Corporate PR Industry’s Sneaky War On Internet Activism, The Woman Behind Apple’s First Icons and an Excerpt from the Winds of Winter.

☆ Want You To Know: Underground Overground

Internets Updates

Lego, Tool of Satan.

Brendan Eich has previous form in giving money to fringe right-wing groups.

Mike Judge's new show about Silicon Valley culture is called, umm, 'Silicon Valley'. Warning: that article is likely to bring back memories of the awfulness that was the Randi Zuckerberg-produced 'Start-Ups: Silicon Valley'.

Bottom half of the Internet highlight of the day #1: 'The Economist' publishes a nice profile remembering Frankie Knuckles. Commenters start to squabble amusingly over the origins of jazz.

Bonus Frankie Knuckles from 1986 [YT].

Bottom half of the Internet highlight of the day #2: How to explain Bitcoin to a visiting alien.

Well, what we do is we take some black rocks or gas and burn it to boil water, or we flood an area and run water through a small spot, this is all so we get these magnets to turn even if they don't want to. Then we bake sand in to very intricate shapes, which also takes a lot of that fresh-squeezed magnet juice we were talking about earlier. So you put all that magnet-juice in to the sand, and you get certain numbers, and these numbers can be exchanged for food because… well as you can see the numbers are really hard to get! So we figure they must be worth a lot of food.

Worth Pondering


According to the Irish Sun, the end may be nigh for TV3. Probably hastened by the impending appearance of a better-funded competitor in the shape of UTV Ireland. Of course, TV3 have been quick to deny this.

Irish media and development agencies, please stop cramming 'Silicon Valley' into soundbites and headlines. We've had fifteen years of it and it really hasn't happened yet.

Totally Confused

FiveThirtyEight.com has a look at the Bechdel Test, Bebo has a video messaging app and it is called Blab, The Gish Gallop, Washington D.C. snowy owl flies again after successful wing repair and digital dinosaurs.

Today's recommended version of David Bowie's 'Heroes / Helden' is by Nena [YT]

☆ Want You To Know: More Cats Than Expected

Somehow, this ended up with much more feline involvement than originally planned. Guaranteed not to happen again until at least some time next week.

Well Played, Metro, Well Played

Medical first as cats are found to pass TB on to their owners

This Can’t Possibly End Well

Things To Ponder

Relevant: long list of facts about cats, compiled by (who else) Buzzfeed.

Why did this sad remix of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ take so long to appear?

Inscrutable To Most, Headlines Department

It occurred to me that plenty of the headlines I scan daily would probably have made no sense twenty years ago. Here’s a selection (which are all worth reading, I hasten to add).

Mobile Malware Mines Dogecoins and Litecoins for Bitcoin Payout

The coin-mining apps discussed above were found outside of the Google Play store, but we have found the same behavior in apps inside the Google Play store. These apps have been downloaded by millions of users, which means that there may be many Android devices out there being used to mine cryptocurrency for cybercriminals.

Lichdom: Battlemage’s powerful spells channel Borderlands and Dark Souls

Xaviant’s vision for Lichdom is to deliver a game in which the mage isn’t always the “glass cannon” in the back, the fellow that’s capable of doing massive damage but then gets fragged if something dangerous so much as looks his way.

Facebook recruits NASA boffins for robot drone fleet, laser comms lab

The Connectivity Lab plans to use solar-powered drones and satellites fitted with communications gear to relay internet access to areas of medium and low population density, along with new laser-based technologies to create a high-bandwidth transmission network.

Good stuff, right?

Longer Reads

‘Cos it’s almost the weekend.

‘Billionaire Ball’ by Matt Hinton. The excesses of sports departments in US universities. The figures involved are staggering.

Malcolm Harris skewers what he describes as “Actually Journalism”. FiveThirtyEight.com and Vox.com are his primary targets. More criticism of FiveThirtyEight from climate scientists.

What Seems To Be The Problem Here? is the latest instalment in n+1’s series of investigative pieces on Amazon. Ruth Curry of Emily Books gives a lot of insight into what Amazon has done to not just the publishing business but the entire online retailing industry. The prospect of the drones becomes ever more terrifying.

If you’re a millionaire model, YOU TOO can get government funding for your barely fleshed out charity idea. Lily Cole managed to get £200,000 from the Cabinet Office in the UK for a goods and services exchange website whose only currency is love, or thanks, or rainbows, or something.

It’s not unusual for wealthy celebrities, particularly in the fashion world, to support good causes or have whimsical hobbies. What makes Impossible.com highly unusual is that it received support from the taxpayer. And nobody seems quite sure why.

House ♫

The trailer [YT] for forthcoming documentary The House That Chicago Built is worth a look if you enjoy seeing a lot of normally garrulous types lost for words. The film itself is directed by Lil Louis incidentally.

Totally Confused

We demand a hot dog emoji, an end to chemical warfare in the swimming pool, no more bling bishops, less rubbish on the mountain and more bad Reddit AMAs.

☆ Want You To Know: Techno-JOY


From the latest Snowden revelations relating to Huawei it would seem the NSA has expanded fully into corporate espionage. Bruce Schneier thinks IBM may be telling porkies about what they did and didn’t hand over to the NSA. Although the US government is at least making a belated attempt to do a smidgen of face-saving.

If all that gets you down a bit, have a look at Eddie Izzard explaining techno-JOY [YT]. Hacking and back doors covered.


If true happiness it is you seek, you’ll find it in the clergy, apparently. Whatever you do, don’t have anything to do with Silicon Valley, unless you fancy being over the hill and miserable at 35.

Often the discrimination comes veiled in that vaguest of tech-world concepts: culture. One recent trend in Silicon Valley recruiting is for job candidates to interview with a programmer at their level or below after they’ve cleared every other bar in the hiring process. Ostensibly, the point is to make sure a candidate meshes with the whole team, a perfectly noble impulse. In practice, it’s frequently a tool for weeding out older applicants.

When the VC money dries up again, the bursting bubble certainly isn’t going to be pretty.

economies that embrace the Silicon Valley model writ large—throwing massive amounts of money at highly speculative investments—are suspiciously bubble-prone.

Stunningly Unsurprising Stats Of The Day

Twitter has a slight spam problem, and an overall difficulty in getting users to, em, use the damn service.

about half of the accounts registered in 2014 have been suspended by Twitter likely because the accounts were spam, compared to 28% in 2012.

In all, roughly 500 million registered accounts have been suspended since Twitter was born.

Twitter have also quietly killed off Twitter Music. Nobody will really notice because nobody was really using it. Pretty much.

Incidental History Lesson

On this day in 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in Greenwich Village, New York City caught fire. Over one hundred and forty workers lost their lives. The death toll was so high because at least one exit had been locked, as was common practice at the time.

The fire was instrumental in launching the modern labour movement in the US.

For the last ten years, on the anniversary of the fire, volunteers have installed ‘Chalk’ across the city. They inscribe the names and ages of the victims of the fire outside their former homes.
There’s lots more information on the fire in this PBS centenary piece and at Wikipedia.

It’s also 25 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Definitely Worth Pondering

Totally Confused

Donetsk to become part of the UK, magic for dogs, Los Angeles Police Department is investigating ALL the cars, water buffalo run free and silence may be golden.