Site Trip with Co-worker Summarised in One Image

Trip to EDM with HH - summarised in one picture
Sorry for the bad photo. It was taken surreptitiously with the potato blackberry.

I was driving, and therefore sitting on the left. He was the passenger, sitting on the right. The dual climate controls were maxed in opposite positions.

Pretty much describes our working relationship as well. We rarely found common ground on anything.

Smart Meters will eat your Children!

Some guy named Jerry Day, has posted a bunch of youtube vidoes about Smart Meters.  They have been picked up such reputable sites such End of the American Dream and others.

The profess to teach everyone about the dangers of Smart Meters.

Here is some choice excertps:

“The meters are watching you.”

No, they are only monitoring the electricity consumption.

“They see how many watts your electric toothbrush uses”

No, they have no way of knowing what is consuming the power.

“They send information about [when you use your toothbrush] over wireless networks”

No, they send a continuous feed of the current amount of electricity consumed. They do not record when appliances are turned on or off.

“They send the information to the power company, where they keep record of all your power consumption, volumes and patterns, and store it forever on computers that you have no access to”

Utility companies already store this information, and have done for many years. It is how they bill you. Data cannot be stored forever, it will be archived, just like your credit card information and your driving record.

“The data shows when you were at home, when you were sleeping, when you’re on vacation, when you have visitors, when you turned on a lamp, a power tool, some extra computers, and if you look like you are running a business out of your home.”

Usage patterns can be used to infer alot of things. The meters will not record exactly when you go to bed or turn on a lamp, but the usage over time creates a pattern that can be recognised. Power companies already have illegal usage detection to prevent grow ops in your neighborhood.

“It even senses when you ‘bootleg’ energy off the grid”.

For shame! They should turn a blind eye to that!

“This is not electrical metering. This is personal surveillence. It is a search without a warrent every day.”

“The smart meters are radio transmitters which can easily be intercepted by a hacker to gain intimate personal knowledge of your life”.

No. The information is encrypted. Just like every time you use your debit card at the store, your banking information “shoots through the air to some institution somewhere.”

“Your power company can give or sell your personal information to whoever it wants.”

Then pick a better power company with a privacy policy you agree to.

“Any abnormal use is considered just cause … for a raid … to bust you for illegal activities in the privacy of your own home that they otherwise wouldn’t have known about.”

Getting away with a crime does not make it legal. It makes it hidden. If the power company used meter data to bust a grow-op in my neighbourhood that attracted dangerous criminals, I’m ok with that.

“Smart meters are no different than wire tapping devices.”

They are very different. Wire tapping devices intercept your communications and allow the attacker to know exactly what was said. Smart meters only watch electricity consumption.

Arizona governor defends new immigration law

From CNN:

The new immigration law, implemented last month, allows police officers to check the residency status of anyone who is being investigated for a crime or possible legal infraction if there is reasonable suspicion the person is an illegal resident. Critics, including Holder, have said the law will promote racial profiling.

So police officers now can, on suspicion of a crime, and on suspicion that you are not a citizen, request your proof of citizenship.  They should just be made to get a green-card tattoo on the wrist to make them easier to spot, and easier to keep an eye on.

And what, pray tell, is “reasonable suspicion”?  And how does this not lead to racial profiling?

I suppose this is OK if you can prove to me that there are no racist police officers.

But here’s a question: When does repeatedly having to show your green-card to paranoid racist cops become harassment?  What recourse would you have then?

Organised Spiritual Warfare

The New Apostolic Reformation, the largest religious movement you’ve never heard of, aims to take control of communities through ‘prayer warriors.’

Imagine a religious movement that makes geographic maps of where demons reside and claims among its adherents the Republican Party’s most recent vice presidential nominee and whose leaders have presided over prayer sessions (one aimed at putting the kibosh on health-care reform) with a host of leading GOP figures.

… a religious network of elites drawn from the ranks of business and government throughout the world. But the movement we’re imagining encompasses the humble and the elite alike, supporting a network of “prayer warriors” in all 50 states, within the ranks of the U.S. military, and at the far reaches of the globe — all guided by an entire genre of books, texts, videos and other media.

[Their videos] “demonstrate the taking control of communities and nations through large networks of ‘prayer warriors’ whose spiritual warfare is used to expel and destroy the demons that cause societal ills. Once the territorial demons, witches, and generational curses are removed, the ‘born-again’ Christians in the videos take control of society.”

Ryanair responds – says its my fault

I received a response from Ryanair about their thievery.  Hilariously it starts by saying that I can only reply to the email by fax, which is a different number to the one I sent my complaint to, and is not listed on their website.

Essentially it says that because I didn’t open my bag and check that nothing was stolen before leaving the airport, that there is nothing they can do, and that I should claim it from my travel insurance.

Unfortunately, email replies to this address cannot currently be accepted, responses can be sent by fax to Ryanair Customer Services on +353 1 5081702

Ryanair baggage response header

Private and Confidential

Mr Jacob Hawkes
4/41 xxxxx Rd
xxxx Park

Our Ref. 289334/DFNQHE

Dear Mr Hawkes,

I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated the 9th of December 2009.

Unfortunately as no loss was reported to our representatives immediately upon collection of your baggage, I regret that we are not in a position to proceed with your claim.

Perhaps generally it would be helpful if I referred you to the Ryanair General Conditions of Carriage 15.1.1 where it states:

‘Acceptance of Baggage by the bearer of the Baggage Identification Tag without complaint and without completion of a Property Irregularity Report at the time of delivery, is prima facie evidence that the baggage has been delivered in good condition and in accordance with the contract of carriage”

Given the above, I regret that we cannot consider your claim. We would suggest that any compensation be claimed from your travel insurance policy.

I am sorry that I cannot be of further assistance.

Yours sincerely

For and on behalf of
Ryanair signature
Maciej Ostrowski
Customer Services


Kuwait: a city that is part Mad Max, part Wild West but mostly Bombay slum. People disagree with me on that last bit, pointing to all the wealth, but all you need to do is point at all the unfinished civil works in return.

No alcohol, therefore no DUI laws, but plenty of drinking going on, and plenty of drunk driving accordingly.

A lot of people who like it there seem to running from something, hence the wild west kind of atmosphere.

The wealth is obvious: high end cars, well dressed people, expensive adornments, but it is all set against the backdrop of a country whose civil infrastructure is barely hanging on.
We drove by roadworks that started years ago, and haven't progressed further than a hole in the ground. Sidewalks out the front of buildings that just end in mid-air because no-one thought to make sure that the next building's ground level was the same.

The war was a long time ago now, there was no evidence of it. It was long enough ago that things should be back to normal by now.

The apartment we stayed at was not connected to city water. A water tanker came every night to fill the building's tank on the roof, which incidentally gets so hot in the summer, that you use the cold water as hot, turn off your hot water system and use it as cold, because it is inside the air conditioning.

The parking lot was filled with luxury vehicles, but the road leading up to the parking lot was dirt, and filled with rubbish.

The flight in over the tank farm lasted minutes, and the dessert just behind it looked like someone had dropped pickup-sticks everywhere: the pipelines were all randomly crisscrossing the dessert.

Mobile phone towers were all of the temporary, trailer kind. All fenced in, and burning diesel to keep the and equipment running inside an air-conditioned mobile hut.

A confusing mix of swaggering and excessive wealth, utterly wasteful use of resources, and all still trying to catch up to the rapid growth of the country.

Lawyers & Damages

I have been deep inside contract negotiations for a major project.

If you are a lawyer, listen up: Why can you not get along? It seems that a lawyer's idea of negotiation is to simply strike out what the other lawyer said, and reinstate what the other lawyer struck. It's like Word Document Ping Pong.

After lamenting about this to a friend, a friend at work pulled out this gem from a Microsoft EULA:

  • Disclaimer of Warranty. The software is licensed “as-is.” You bear the risk of using it. Microsoft gives no express warranties, guarantees or conditions. You may have additional consumer rights under your local laws which this agreement cannot change. To the extent permitted under your local laws, Microsoft excludes the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement.
  • Limitation on and Exclusion of Remedies and Damages. You can recover from Microsoft and its suppliers only direct damages up to U.S. $5.00. You cannot recover any other damages, including consequential, lost profits, special, indirect or incidental damages.
    This limitation applies to …

$5. Awesome. And you'd have to prove direct loss.