So why are we bothering?” “Just in case.” “Just in case what?” “Just in case it turns out to be something we should have bothered about. Always try to avoid setting up future opportunities for kicking yourself.The Hydrogen Sonata. My Iain M. Banks binge continues.
Denied his chance to go amongst the people of Earth, Li gave informal briefings for the people who were going down to the surface; those who would listen anyway. Li’s briefings were short and to the point; he walked up, said, ‘The fundamental thing to remember is this; most of what you encounter will be shit.’ And walked away again.The State of the Art
Working from home today because I had to wait for my washing machine to get replaced. It got replaced and while testing it the delivery people found out that the drain pipe was clogged. Which was what I suspected all along, and not a cracked drum. Now to wait for a plumber and probably another work at home day tomorrow.
Of course, the underlying structure of everything in England is posh. There is no in-between with these people. You have to walk a mile to find a telephone booth, but when you find it, it is built as if the senseless dynamiting of pay phones had been a serious problem at some time in the past. And a British mailbox can presumably stop a German tank. None of them have cars, but when they do, they are three-ton hand-built beasts. The concept of stamping out a whole lot of cars is unthinkable—there are certain procedures that have to be followed, Mr. Ford, such as the hand-brazing of radiators, the traditional whittling of the tyres from solid blocks of cahoutchouc.Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.
So today we have marketing departments who say things like “we don’t need computers, we need… appliances. Make me a computer that doesn’t run every program, just a program that does this specialized task, like streaming audio, or routing packets, or playing Xbox games, and make sure it doesn’t run programs that I haven’t authorized that might undermine our profits”. And on the surface, this seems like a reasonable idea — just a program that does one specialized task — after all, we can put an electric motor in a blender, and we can install a motor in a dishwasher, and we don’t worry if it’s still possible to run a dishwashing program in a blender. But that’s not what we do when we turn a computer into an appliance. We’re not making a computer that runs only the “appliance” app; we’re making a computer that can run every program, but which uses some combination of rootkits, spyware, and code-signing to prevent the user from knowing which processes are running, from installing her own software, and from terminating processes that she doesn’t want. In other words, an appliance is not a stripped-down computer — it is a fully functional computer with spyware on it out of the box.Transcript of a talk by Cory Doctorow titled The coming war on general computation.