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Well, I'm halfway through my holiday, and I don't feel like anything much has happened. My mother and I are progressing well with Koi-koi, despite playing a rather bastardised version at the moment (we always continue, and add up the yaku points at the end, and don't use multipliers).

The killer will be next Thursday and Friday. I'll be working from 8.30am because I'm not able to work in the factory on my own. My cow-orker isn't coming in for the after-summer preparation, so I'll be alone on the first day and working with my boss and a quality control girl (no, not her, a capable one...) on the second day. Actually, the list of stuff I am supposed to do on the first day doesn't seem to be that big a deal - though I expect there will be a lot of ancillary things to cope with. For example, the production area floor is being redone, so god only knows where I'll find the tables, conveyor belts, etc. Then a weekend, then 9pm-5am. Hmmm...


Katana (for real, this time)

Went to a vide grenier (argh! yes, again! ☺) last Sunday. For a mere ten euros, I picked up two with a little wooden display stand. A wakizashi like the one I already have, and a katana (which is a good five inches longer).
My Katana and I
Now I am definitely ready for the Zombie Apocalypse. Oh, wait, it's an electric can opener. Hang on, no bad, most stuff worth eating uses ringpulls...


Time for us to fight back

I shall give you two quotes from TheRegister to give context:
  • Isolating genes from human DNA structures is patentable, the US Court of Appeals has ruled.
    The Court ruled that the process of isolating genes from human DNA strands left the resultant individual genes with "markedly different chemical structure" from DNA in the human body.
  • The Court of Appeals said it was the "distinctive nature" of individual genes "as isolated compositions of matter" that could make them patentable. Patent eligibility should not be determined by the isolated genes' "physiological use or benefit," it said.
    Myriad used chemicals to split the genes from the DNA structures and this creates a "distinct chemical entity", the Court said in its ruling.
Read the full article here

To my mind, this logic means that a lot of "illegal" sharing of music is actually quite legal - for to take a raw audio sample from a CD and convert it into an MP3 uses software to split the music entity from its sampled structure and thus create a "distinct musical entity" that is extremely different in pure data from the original, and is likewise notably different from the original in sound as well (due to compression, psycho-acoustics, joint-stereo, etc).

If companies scream copyright over single phrases of a book, or a photo from a movie, or even a tiny sample used in a different song - how then is it possible not only to extract a gene, but to then PATENT it?

The judge here - does he know the slighest damn thing about biology? Is he a patent-friendly shill? Because - trust me - a chip drowned in vinegar is still a chip, even if its chemical composition has been altered by the liberal application of a mild acid.
Likewise, this isn't a gene created in a lab, this is a gene extracted from a living DNA chain.


Therefore, I propose we get a legalese rewrite to the rough notice I present below (in other words, rewrite it using better legal terminology and phrasing) and use this to present to ANYBODY requiring blood or other samples; be it the police, an employer, etc.

Here goes:

I, __your legal name here__, hereby grant YOU (__their legal corporate/entity/individual name here__) the ability to take a sample of MY biological information (for example: blood samples, etc) for the purpose of __reason noted here__ according to the following conditions.
As YOU are the entity requesting this procedure, YOU accept full responsibility and assume all subsequent liability.
  • All intellectual property and interests (including, but not limited to copyright and patents of DNA molecules, genes, etc) will remain with ME, the named owner of said biological information. Said ownership will extend to all derivate biological entities created from the biological information.
  • The collection and examination of the aforementioned biological information is to be handled with discretion by the competent organisation that you choose. Under NO circumstances is any information of any nature regarding this biological information to be transmitted to any third party - with a third party being specifically noted as an individual, corporation, or organisation other than MYSELF, YOU, and your selected competent organisation for the purposes of the examination required.
    The providing of such information to a third party is an infraction.
  • The biological information will be stored only for as long as is necessary to perform the required tests, and in no event longer than one calendar month. When the biological information is no longer required, it must be entirely destroyed.
    Storage for longer periods of time (failure to destroy is counted as storage) is an infraction.
  • The results of the tests performed must be send in full, and identically, to MYSELF as well as to YOU; along with a WRITTEN and SIGNED assurance of the destruction of the biological information.
    If said assurance of destruction is not provided, it will be assumed that the biological information has not yet been destroyed.
  • The results of the tests may be stored by MYSELF, by YOU, and if required, by the competent organisation that performs the required tests.
    Under no circumstances are the results of the tests to be provided to any third party without my express WRITTEN approval.
    Providing the results of the tests to a third party without approval is an infraction.
  • It is expressly forbidden to perform experimental tests on the biological information unrelated to the required tests. It is also expressly forbidden to alter or manipulate the biological information to create alternatives or derivatives. Performing either of these actions beyond the scope of that which is necessary for the required tests is an infraction.
  • IMPORTANT: All of MY biological information is protected by this agreement. If any of MY aforementioned biological information is collected or otherwise obtained, it will constitute automatic acceptance of this agreement. The proof of said biological information in any form (including, but not limited to, blood, sweat, spit, hair fibres, etc) will serve also as proof of collection under the terms of this agreement.
  • The obtaining of MY biological information by force or coersion (defined as any method to which I do not willingly agree) is an infraction.

For the purposes of making the above a little clearer, here is an example of a multiple (×4) infraction:
  • Testing for HIV while testing blood alcohol limit, storing both the blood sample and the results of the HIV test, and passing this unwarranted result to the healthcare services.

YOUR liability to ME is €1,000,000 PER INFRACTION, PLUS a constant automatic liability of €150,000 PER CALENDAR WEEK (or part week thereof) that the infraction (or effects of the infraction) is in continuance; dated from the initial collection of the biological information.
These penalties are non-negotiable.
It is not relevant if a third-party performed these infractions. By signing this contract, YOU accept the entire responsibility for ensuring that the aforementioned infractions do not occur.
Please sign here: __________________________________
And date here: _____________________________________
And either write or stamp your official contact details below:


Thank you.
The next time an employer hands out a list of people randomly selected for blood testing for mumble mumble mumble, hand them this.

Nothing is sacred in this world any more, but thinking extracted genes are patentable? Thank God this crap goes down in America and not here, but - really - enough is enough. It is my body, my blood, my DNA, my heredity, and if you wish to poke around in it, you're bloody well going to do it on my terms.

(now how would I write this in French!?)


E-Razor? Ha ha, very funny...

I got two USB keys the other day. A mite over a fiver each for 4Gb. It's somewhere to dump my animé while I'm too lazy to fire up the NAS box.

E-Razor USB keys

They're... unique.

They're erasers. Actual rubber erasers. Perhaps the only ones around with 4Gb capacity! It's an interesting way to make a practical dual-purpose product, and I'm sure there's a deeper meaning to combining a USB key with something designed to rub out errant pencil scribbles.

The only problem, that I've noticed so far, is that they are slow. Copying three and a half gigabytes took around a quarter hour. It would be interesting to try these devices on my PVR to see if they can cope with the higher bitrates.
Still, until I get around to burning a few DVDs, it's a simple way to store stuff...

E-Razor USB key in my eeePC


Why the Google Cloud Dream is destined to fail

The other day my Google Navigation (GPS) guided me home (for the hell of it) and I observed that sometime since I looked earlier in the year, our "location" had moved a half kilometre up the driveway (which is, technically, inaccurate as while the little driveway goes only to us, it is not our land). I reported it as "Location is not here", but I don't expect it'll be fixed in a hurry.

Ever had a weird quirk with YouTube? The support channel is... to blather onto a relevant forum and hope somebody with a clue is reading.

How about Google Code? Earlier in the year, the site was down. No doubt Google were aware, but I looked to see about reporting it... and I discovered that the support method was, again, a forum on In other words, utterly useless.

Now fast forward to a very real possibility. A day when a cloud-enabled tablet computer is the only tool a businessman needs. His charts and documents, carefully crafted, are stored "in the cloud" for ease of access practically anywhere on the planet. He takes a flight, enjoys a nice mid-air rest, and then hits the ground running in his new country. Taxis, subway, bright shining edifices of glass and concrete. An elevator, forty-third floor. Cute secretary, glasses, brunette, large breasts. Something for everybody. She has a nice smile. She offers coffee while he pulls out his tablet to get everything ready for the presentation that will make his career.

Connection error.
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Connection error.
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You think he, actually capable of feeling his life being flushed down the toilet due to somebody else's technical problem, is going to consider "spew all your details on our forum" as adequate technical support?

I use Google, I use it a lot. But I do not trust it.
No, it isn't because of their idiotic attitude towards privacy (although that is a consideration). It is because there is ZERO official help for Google products. You are directed to forums for the idea of we all help each other, and from time to time a Googloid pops by. Emails and reports of things to Google are neither acknowledged nor answered. Not only is our address wrong, but the little hamlet at the top of the driveway is placed a half kilometre to the north. Okay, ViaMichelin gets this wrong too, but I can provide an actual photo of the hamlet name sign with GPS co-ordinates (plus a different sign from near where they say this hamlet is). I reported this over a year ago. And it is still wrong.

Fair enough, it isn't as if I'm saying Lyon's TGV railway station is in the wrong place, it's small fry. But all the way through there is one consistent theme - a lack of ability to contact Google. And those who try it the brute force way by emailing somebody @google will say the silence is deafening.

For all the cool things Google dream up, their concept of customer support is such a huge heap of Fail that we need to think up a word better than "epic" to describe it. I would use Google for fun stuff. But I would never, ever, entrust a file or document to Google that I couldn't pull off of some form of storage in my hand - be it SD or USB key. And that, my friend, has just trivialised the entire Google cloud. If I am holding the SD card, I don't need the cloud.

Mostly because of such a simple thing as customer support.


Your comments:

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Rob, 7th August 2011, 18:59
I spent a few minutes the other day moving pointers about on Google Maps - local businesses that were highlighted in the wrong place. It seemed a fairly painless process. 
However, errors in the road network need (at least in the UK) reporting directly to TeleAtlas - google just licence their data and don't produce the actual road layouts themselves - and they are notoriously slow to react to reports.

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