Heat, TV and Data Retention

Summer over here is generally hot, hovering between semi-tropical and Saharian, which turns weekends into a lime-lapse movie of cool mornings with a few people running around doing some shopping, scorching afternoons with folk either getting tanned to a crisp or pushing the malls' air conditioning to its limits, and soupy evenings with crowds milling around in search of entertainment.

So, if you want to relax, one of the cooler alternatives is a lot of TV (even my VNC-centric laptop runs too hot to use for long). Brain-damaging, but manageable.

Of course, there's always the odd web page to surf for light entertainment. After all, Summer is traditionally a sort of "silly season"... Here are a few links:

  • Lost as Zork - we've only started getting Lost, which is strange given our usual TV culture. But this is even stranger.
  • So, your favorite reply to all those clueless e-mails is now part of the English language.
  • Her Majesty has reportedly gotan iPod. Definitely "silly season" stuff, because it's not like royalty is barred from consumer electronics...
  • The US Justice Department is considering emulating European idiocy where it regards data retention laws. Anyone with an ISP background knows this has been hovering in the wings for years, and that nobody can affort the hundreds of terabytes required for, say, a broadband ISP to keep track of this sort of thing, even with today's "cheap" storage.

Regarding this last bit, I have a small (if rather convoluted) anecdote to share:

According to hearsay, one of the local advocates of this sort of thing (a politician, who shall remain nameless) recently committed a faux-pas of gigantic proportions when he declared over dinner that "if it's (technically) feasible for a nation the size of China to filter content, it would surely be possible for Portugal to record visited web pages".

Besides a few other people, a known technologist sitting at the dinner table was shocked speechless, but doubly so after asking "But what about 1984?".

"Ah, well, the 1984 declaration didn't cover the Internet, of course." - came the erudite reply.

Fortunately, I don't get invited to that sort of dinner party. It would be interesting to have this kind of Dilbert-type material on hand, but I wouldn't want to get involved in the ensuing (dumb) arguments.

Getting back on topic, of rather more interest was the news that Apple released WebObjects as a free application. Not that I'll be using it, but it's always been on a lot of people's radars.

And now, for another shower and a dip in the somewhat humid atmosphere outside.

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