Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sexism in Silicon Valley





I would like to make a comment on your discussion of “Sexism in Silicon Valley” in the wired.co.uk podcast of Friday 7th July.

At the outset I would like to state that I believe sexism in the workplace is unacceptable and indefensible.

However, turning to your discussion of the matter you appeared to take this big target and proceed, unsurprisingly given its size, to hit it over and over and over again.

Please, if you have time, give your podcast another listen and hear yourselves flying lazy circles over the points raised, while counting the times the same point is made. 

I am loath to criticize anyone in the creative industries because it takes a talent I don’t possess to be creative but this was journalism at its laziest and gave me the horrible feeling that each member of the team was simply grandstanding how right they were and stumbling over themselves to agree with the others.  Radical stuff it wasn’t with such an easy target to hit. Playing whack a mole on the same mole meant also that the balance skewed badly along the lines of, women hooray: men boo!

There is more depth to discrimination as a general topic than any of the presenters were prepared apparently to acknowledge. 

At one point to general chuckling a presenter said that all discrimination was wrong but white straight males didn’t seem to suffer or to need protection (or something to that effect). 

I beg to differ. Have a butchers at this.



If you are pushed for time let me just copy/paste some stuff from the home page for you.
  • At least one in three victims of family violence is male
  •  One male is a victim of domestic homicide every 10 days
  • Almost one in four young people are aware of their mum/stepmum hitting their dad/stepdad
  • Male and female victims of reported domestic assault receive very similar numbers and types of injuries
  • Men who have experienced partner violence are 2 to 3 times more likely than women to have never told anybody about it
  •  Post-separation, similar proportions of men and women report experiencing physical violence including threats by their former spouse
Oh yes, and on a less extreme level I imagine that it was an average week in the family courts in England and Wales this week as children of divorcing parents were horded, by and large, to their mothers’ arms and homes and fathers who love and care for their children began a long process of forced separation and slow estrangement from their children irrespective of their parenting abilities.

If you need a quiet, sleeping, institutionalized discrimination story to investigate and discuss you could do worse than choose this, I think.

Bad journalism this week, folks.  

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Being the Bitter-Sweet Tale of How I Became Briefly a Lumia 950 XL Owner...and then an ex-Owner

My Confession - I am a Windows Mobile Fan

As a long time fan of Windows Mobile, a vanishing breed we are too, my aim has always been to own and use a Lumia 950 XL. Despite reservations about its plastic design and Microsoft's bewildering but apparent aim to be number 3 (or 4!) in the mobile phone world its renowned camera persuaded me finally, having saved up to pay its now mid-ranged phone price, to buy it.

Owner of a Lonely Heart Lumia 640 XL

I am the owner of a Lumia 640 XL and have always liked it. Moving up to the 950 XL (and that's dual sim, by the way) should have brought a top-of-the-tree experience but it didn't and these few words which will be unread by the 99.9999% recurring of the world's population who are not phone geeks will, I hope, explain why.

The best camera on any mobile phone anywhere, that on the 950 XL

Firstly, let me deal with that camera. The camera on the 950 XL is superlative. The few shots I took showed off its wonderful colour-rendering and sharpness and at the time I took them the thought of returning this phone to the shop never occurred to me.

Windows 10

It was Windows 10 and the deadly experience of Groove Music dying and I mean dying and crashing to an unrecoverable nothing that finally swayed me.

The Windows 10 Interface

Where to begin? 
I'll try the beginning.

The interface on Windows 10 is a good OK. The user interface on the Lumia 640 XL running Windows 8.1 is superbly and showily lovely with big chunky bold text on the lock screen which looks better than the weedy lock screen text on the 950 XL. It's a personal preference thing and I haven't even got the English to explain why 8.1 looks better so I'll leave it at that.

Funny ol' weather we've been 'aving

Where to next? Well, the native weather app on Windows 10 just isn't as good as that on Windows 8.1 with its gorgeously designed graphics. The format is just better on 8.1. The 10 native weather app is not bad but I was rather hoping for better than 'not bad'.

Health and Fitness

Microsoft Health and Fitness is still working, albeit in unsupported form, with all its little graphs and nonsense on 8.1 but has been cruelly put to death in Windows 10. Hmmm.

And now for something (a bit more important and) completely different - Blocking "Private" Numbers

Some Lumia phones enjoy the Nokia Lumia legacy feature of blocking calls if the caller has withheld his/her number. This is a great, great, great, really great feature. All the plonkers and irritants who ring you without wanting to reveal their number can ring away to their heart's content. There's even a little switch for you to turn off the notifications that you've had a withheld-number call if you want. 

Withheld number callers get all the rich oblivion they truly deserve.

And what is Microsoft's attitude to this truly useful feature?

Ahhh. Dat ain't fair. ALL WINDOWS PHONES no matter who their manufacturer is should have this legacy blocking withheld number callers "Lumia" feature so... in Windows 10 we'll take the Private Number Blocking feature away for everyone so no one has it any more.

I am not joking. 

In Windows 10 Mobile you cannot block 'number withheld' calls. You have the same lack of capability I understand exists in iOS and Android. Oh, Microsoft why did you do that? Please. Why?

I have the feeling that it isn't a licensing thing, in case you're thinking that. I have the feeling it's the hardware manufacturer-neutral posturing MS is determined to adopt these days whatever the ruddy cost. However, I could have lived with this useful feature being removed in Windows 10. Annoying but I could have lived with the loss then about 2 days after I bought the phone came the killer crash.

The Killer Crash

Before I describe what happened let me quote the words of a MS EMPLOYEE working in support (please note not a MVP or anything like that) who was kind enough to reply to my request for help after it happened,

"....This is an absurd bug, and we never should have shipped it."

What was "shipped" was an update to Groove Music that killed the app stone dead. No replay of mp3's. Nothing. Not a sausage. Pas du tout. The work-round that is current (and just posted at time of writing) is to hard reset your Windows 10 phone. Yup. Hard reset then update your phone so in the process you re-download Groove Music with its update from the Store. It's that simple and if you have a spare couple of hours to reinstall the OS then you're good to go.

I have no doubt that a more elegant solution will appear at some stage but hey.

And next.

What have they done to my maps, Ma?

In a commercial and understandable huff Nokia, currently flogging Here Drive to other companies, removed it from Windows 10 and as a result MS have to ship the unattractive if functional turn-by-turn utilitarian-looking app they came up with, Here Drive's ugly sister, called, I believe, Maps. Here Drive though no longer updated on Windows 8.1 is beautiful on a Lumia 640 XL; just stunning looking and its loss is noticeable.

The Final Thing is NOT the Lumia 950 XL's Fault

The battery driving the more modestly pixelled screen on the Lumia 640 XL spoils you for all other phones and you can get an easy ride through the day no matter what you get up to on it. Even with all the updates the Lumia 950 XL's battery life is no better or worse than that on everyone else's phones.

Living in the Past

So, I'm back to the Lumia 640 XL and it's lovely and I am still a Microsoft Mobile fan because of this superb and unfairly un-famous smart phone.

Thanks for reading this far if you did.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Favourite Films and TV Box-Sets 2016 and the Disappointments

This is the best stuff I saw in 2016

The Big Short

Diary of a Teenage Girl

The Tunnel Series One

The Americans Season Two

Fargo Season One

Bridge of Spies

The Night Manager

And this is the WORST

Orange is the New Black
The Musketeers Series One
The Good Wife Season Two
The Machine
Ex-Machina
Bates Motel Seasons One and Two
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Revenant

with the most dire being the egregious "Orange is the New Black".



Saturday, 12 November 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Update



I have used 95, 98SE, ME, XP, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 (pre-anniversary update). Each had their foibles and advantages. Windows 10 Anniversary Update has made my quad core 6 GB RAM machine sluggish and has killed or wounded the sleep function which now works 50% of the time (monitor doesn’t wake up sometimes). Any MVP reading this PLEASE do not copy/paste your scripted “solution” about drivers, DISM etc.

I beg you not to.

I know what I am doing. Let me spell it out for anyone who has got this far; Windows 10 was the best OS MS has ever released and without hyperbole I think that the Anniversary Update is the literally the worst as it has slowed down my PC (and my laptop too incidentally). If it was really good why not have confidence that users will not want to roll back to a previous build? You “allow” this for 10 days (down from 30 days) I know but why put any time limit at all? And here’s the big one, why did the team slyly set system restore to off by default as part of Windows 10 Anniversary Update?

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Top Tech Podcasts of 2016

First of all thanks to all those creative people making the podcasts listed below.

However good or bad I claim the podcasts reviewed below to be, their creators are doing something I couldn't do; which is to make a podcast.

And here we go...


The 361 Degrees Podcast

http://feed.361podcast.com/361Degrees?format=xml

Ben Smith, Ewan MacLeod, Rafe Blandford

This has maintained its high standard this year though the 'seasons' thing where they disappear for weeks on end is disconcerting. How dare they go out there to earn their livings instead of supplying us with weekly podcasts? If you have never listened to this before imagine what would happen if the BBC decided to put out a programme about technology on Radio 4. It would sound like this.


All About Windows Phone

http://rss.allaboutwindowsphone.com/media-feed.xml


Steve Litchfield and Rafe Blandford

One remarkable thing is that many other tech podcasters listen in to this podcast despite their stated misgivings about Windows Phone because the standard of broadcasting is so high. Another remarkable thing is that Windows Phone still exists at all despite Microsoft having a mobile phone marketing strategy designed, apparently, for them by their competitors. Microsoft should send these genial presenters oodles of money for their efforts to keep the Microsoft flag flying in the mobile phone world.  

The Phones Show Chat

http://stevelitchfield.com/sshow/sshowchat.rss

Steve Litchfield and Ted Salmon

Another favourite of mine. One hour or so of interesting chatter about mostly Android phones. A particular enjoyable feature is that these presenters can talk about the iPhone without a trace of fanboyism and adulation.

CNET UK Podcast

http://feeds.feedburner.com/CnetUkPodcastmp3?format=xml

Rich Trenholm and Andrew Hoyle

This podcast has turned a corner with the departure of a previous presenter and it is now a really good listen. There is the occasional welcome visit from the equally knowledgeable Katie Collins.

Tech Talk UK podcast

http://techtalkuk.com/ttukpodcast.rss


Kevin Wright, Nick Robinson and Richard Yates

It has gone weekly. When there was a dip in listener figures "Kev" recently asked his followers what was wrong. Various people pointed out to him that the constant clock-ticking warmth expressed about Apple was getting tedious and to their great credit the presenters have reigned all that in. Updated on Jan 10 2017 - Well, a few weeks on and the podcast has reverted to being mostly a hymn of praise for Apple and its products. This is a pity because the lead presenter has what Steve Litchfield rightly called "a good radio voice". Updated on Feb 17 2017 The iPhone has now slipped in the charts to number 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Plus reigns supreme for this exasperating but entertaining presenter.


Wired.co.uk podcast

Matt Burgess and others

I had to stop listening this year because of uptalk or upspeak or HRT whatever this vile vocal tick is called. I mentioned how I disliked this habit on Twitter and was chased down the street by sweary females because it is apparently a woman's right to talk in upspeak? I hate hearing it used by men too? I wish everyone would stop speaking like this?

Tech Tent

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01plr2p/episodes/downloads.rss


Rory Cellan-Jones

A tech podcast as fascinated by the world of AI, VR and drones as the public isn't. An occasional programme is worth a listen.


Coolsmartphone

http://feeds.feedburner.com/coolsmartphone/thepodcast?format=xml


Review to come.

Tech's Message

Nate Lanxon, Ian Morris

http://rss.acast.com/techsmessage

Review to come.

The TechXpats Podcast 

Stephen Penny and others

http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheTechxpatsPodcastPodcast?format=xml

Disappeared rather disappointingly in June.

The PC Pro Podcast

Darien Graham-Smith, Tim Danton and Barry Collins

https://soundcloud.com/pc-pro?feed=rss2

After a hiatus it's back and literally better than ever because they have their best presenters on the show. This podcast deserves to be much better known and the team ranges far and wide over different fields of technology. The sound quality is variable but the content is very good.


The Tech Addicts Podcast

http://mobiletechaddicts.libsyn.com/rss

Contains teeth-grindingly awful uptalk and I had to give up listening which is a pity because otherwise the programme is worth catching for its well-informed content. 

Click 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p002w6r2/episodes/downloads.rss

If the Blue Peter production team decided to start making tech podcasts they could sound like this. Unerringly, excruciatingly worthy and then some. Recent topics include using Twitter to promote social justice in India, launching a plan for an online map to show innovation and curb loss in the food chain, gene sequencing machines and sourcing tech component minerals from ethical mines. Yes, I know they're all important. Yes, I know. I feel I have to mention Click because it is a tech podcast and it is produced by the Beeb but I remain forever astonished that a tech podcast could make technology sound this dull.

These are my top four tech podcasts of 2016 in no particular order.


  The 361 Degrees Podcast

  All About Windows Phone

  The Phones Show Chat

  The PC Pro Podcast


Apologies for some of the uncontrollable bonkers formatting caused by the otherwise good blogger.com.  

Many thanks for reading my blog.