“Until Politicians Make the Effort to Understand the Internet, They Must Leave it Alone”

Alex Wickham’s take on the recent comments from David Cameron, and the general inability (unwillingness) of politicians to understand the Internet:

In the first two weeks of 2015 we have already seen several chilling examples of the state seeking to curb freedom of expression on the internet. Yesterday, Cameron committed the Conservative Party to introducing “comprehensive” legislation to further extend internet surveillance laws. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, summed up the Tory position: “I’m not interested in this civil liberties stuff. If they’re a threat, I want their emails and calls listened to”.…

…Yet, patently, politicians do not understand the internet. Put on the spot during a Q&A about Snapchat, a mobile app used mainly by young people to send pictures, Cameron threatened to ban it.

The attitude, and lack of understanding of what they (the politicians) are saying, is worrying enough. But then:

Then there is the even more sinister behaviour of the Electoral Commission, the body which regulates elections in the UK. Under the guise of Cameron’s shoddy Lobbying Act, they have written intimidating letters to political bloggers warning them they have to abide by new rules dictating what they can and cannot say.

I’d not heard about this use of the Lobbying Act against bloggers (I try to stay up-to-date with the news where UK politics, civil liberties, and technology meet), so that’s worrying in itself. It’s a very gross misapplication of the law — entirely designed to limit speech — and has no place in an open democracy.

Just because politicians do not understand the internet, it does not give them the right to impinge on the freedoms of every person who uses it. If they want to come up with serious policies about how to stop the bad things that happen online, they first have to make the effort to understand how the internet works.


“What David Cameron just proposed would endanger every Briton and destroy the IT industry”

Cory Doctorow on the scary rhetoric coming from the Conservative Prime Minister, just before the next General Election:

David Cameron says there should be no “means of communication” which “we cannot read” — and no doubt many in his party will agree with him, politically. But if they understood the technology, they would be shocked to their boots.

Every time I hear senior politicians talking about technology (usually in the context of “security” and “safety”) it becomes clear they really don’t know what they’re talking about.

(Image: Facepalm, Brandon Grasley, CC-BY)

The Reading List Links, 7th January

The Reading List is a round-up of interesting blog posts and articles I’ve recently read, curated and posted every couple of days.

Not Bad for a Week Off…

FitBit Stats 29 Dec 2014 to 04 Jan 2015

If I can keep this up (and keep improving) then goal number 1 for 2015 will be in the bag.

Here is the day-by-day graph of the steps I took:

FitBit Graph FitBit Stats 29 Dec 2014 to 04 Jan 2015Apart from Thursday (by the narrowest of margins), and Saturday (when I was sick) I reached the daily goal of 10,000 steps every day — often going way past it. Onwards and upwards!


The Reading List Links, 5th January

The Reading List is a round-up of interesting blog posts and articles I’ve recently read, curated and posted every couple of days.

Some Loose Aspirations for 2015

I wasn’t going to write this post.

I promised myself I wouldn’t write a “2015 goals” entry; quite often it’s setting you up for a fall as unforeseen circumstances later in the year prevent you from reaching your well-intended goals, and leave you feeling crappy as a result.

But what the hell — one of the things I want to do in 2015 is write more often, so I might as well get in the habit.

I’m intentionally keeping some aspects of the goals vague. I don’t want to get too locked in to something, only to get to December 31st and feel crap for missing a load of my targets! And yes, some of these aspirations are very stereotypical!

1 — Get More Active.

This is the one everyone does. I know it, you know it. Like many geeks around the world, I work at a desk, then come home and plonk myself in front of a screen of some sort, and that’s me until bed time. Over the last few years I’ve slowly built my activity levels up – thanks to FitBit trackers and various apps, I tend to walk more than the average desk jockey, and I have some fitness equipment at home I make use of. But this year it gets serious. An average of 3 workouts of 45 minutes or more per week on top of my existing activity levels is my goal. Over the festive week I managed to get 3 hour-long gym sessions comfortably done, so as long as I can keep motivated to go, this should actually be one of the easier goals.

2 — Write More.

2014 was my second best year ever for blogging – largely due to a massive spurt at the end of the year. I’d like to keep that going, now I’m over the festive break. Ideally, I want to write more this year than in any year previous. If I can keep up a steady pace then it will be practice which puts me in good stead for another long-term goal of getting something published. Inspiration is going to be key to meeting this aspiration, and I know sometimes I will struggle and fall short of where I’d like to be. Consistency will be key.

3 — Play More Games.

I have a PS3 I only use for blu-ray movies, WWE Network, and Netflix. I have a stack of board games and tabletop games I’ve yet to play. I have a gaming table I’ve only played on once. This needs to change. I love gaming so much, but in 2014 I feel like I just wasted time and money on a hobby I just didn’t do justice to. If I’m going to manage to play one game of every game I own, then I’m going to complete a few other “sub-goals” such as finish painting a playable Warhammer 40,000 army, assemble and/or paint the contents of each starter set I’ve got, and get some place comfortable for playing board games with friends and family. I have my eye on something here, but it’ll have to wait until later in the year I suspect.

4 — Read More.

I have this on my list simply because it’s something I always want to do, and it’s one of the best ways to be a better writer. Reading is so much more evocative than most other forms of entertainment, that even though I read quite a lot already, I never feel like I read enough. On top of that, there are so many “classic” books I have yet to read — even in the genres I tend to stick to. So I’m going to try and read more. There’s not much more to be said here, really!

So that’s it, my grand plan for 2015. Well, not really. There’s more to my plans for this year than what’s written above. But I have to keep some things to myself — I can’t give away too many spoilers up front! Some goals/plans/ambitions will be written about at a more appropriate time, as will updates on how I’m progressing with those written here.

Here’s to a good year!

Minimalist Harry Potter Film Posters

I love these alternative posters created by Adam Rabalais for the Harry Potter series. So much so, I just replaced the artwork in my XBMC setup with them. I highly recommend checking out the rest of his gallery of alternative film posters as well.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.