RGB220 From Altair With Love

By Roy Mathur, on 2018-10-07, at 20:10:06 to--21:48:19 BST, for Roy's Geek Broadcast, Listen

Happy Birthday Me!

Well, if I'm not going to say it, who is?

No, actually some people actually did say nice things, I got a couple of cards, and some really nice presents too. };->

Corn on the Cob

...Is yummy. I just rediscovered it after a decade long break.

Just don't buy the tasteless stuff from Tesco. It's cheaper, but not tasty.

My Shortness Youngsplained

A couple of weeks ago, some whipper snapper said I'm getting shorter because my spine is crumbling away from age (seriously, how old am I?)

But it turns out I'm just crap at buying the right sized trousers.

Trump Laughed at by UN

Trump recently claimed to have achieved the "most accomplishments in US history".

The other members of the UN actually laughed... quite a lot... and quite loudly.

I'm Sick and the Heat's Out.... Again

Missed a week of the show because I had the flu for a week (after having the bloody vaccine) and today, just as I started to get better, the bloody boiler broke down again... like it does every year despite very expensive repairs.

Great.

At least it's not happening in the dead of Winter this time.

But the delay does mean an extra long show and, of course, the first episode of the new Doctor Who series 11!

Yet Another Podcast Title

Ming help us! Why the change?

Googling Roy.Pod brings up me and some business in Scotland that lets fancy sheds for glamping. Google glamping, non-UK humans! Besides, "pod" just didn't inflate my ego.

There's a new logo featuring my own beloved spectacles of geek.

Yet More Changes

Feed and website changed, blog inaccessible, title and description of podcast tweaked, but nothing that will affect you as a listener, and it's still exactly the same content.

Blog? What's the point? I say everything in the podcast, perhaps too much, and the blog is very out of date.

I may do some sort of text only log type thing, but we'll see.

Social Media? The only thing I regularly use is Twitter and, of course, YouTube to archive the podcast (which I'll update soon).

There maybe some problem with the links to some of the feeds on my webpage. The feeds are still connected, it's just my links that a wrong.

Oh, by the way, about my foul mouth... well, I'll just see how it goes, but forget what I said before. If I get annoyed and go off on one, I'll just mark that particular episode explicit, otherwise, assume PG13.

Series Break

As you can see, from the tumultuous changes in this show recently, changes are again afoot.

I also need to get better, fix the heating (Winter is coming... again), I need to weed the admin kipple, and, of course, sort out my writing. To do this, I need a break. What I'm saying is that if I manage to get a show out next week, it will be a miracle. I'm not saying it won't happen, but just don't depend on it.

Another problem is that I have been asking for listener input for a long time, but I'm not really getting any, so that's something else I need to think about. On that subject, now would also be a good time to tell me what you want in the show. I was thinking more science and tech based features, what do you think?

I Do Take Them To Task

If you are interested, when I can complain about something in this podcast, I do try to contact the entities I complain about.

Of course, I very rarely get a reply. I'm small fry.

Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 1 Story 277 with Jodie Whittaker: The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Good title, play on one of my favourite sci-fi books and films.

A bit darker and grittier than some of New Who. A "bug hunt" set in what is supposed to be Sheffield; a place I know nothing about, so new places, which is, again, good.

Human characters interesting. Jodie's acting a bit pantomimey, but all the Doctors have had to grow into the role, so that isn't anything new.

I like the way it ended, with the Doctor doing something simultaneously both brilliant and cack-handed, which is definitely characteristic of the Doctor.

I will be following this show; even if I have to do so on a phone. Long story, don't ask. I'm sure I haven't finished complaining about this.

Bodyguard

2018.

The Express reported that Jed Mercurio said that there wasn't a political message in Bodyguard, but I think there's right wing biase in the conclusion.

The bad guys: a dark skinned terrorist, a lone anti-war nutter, a gangster, and a bent plod. The good guy is an authoritarian Home Secretary who wants more surveillance. You decide.

Perhaps this demonstrates how difficult it is for a writer to avoid injecting personal biases into their fiction. (Applies to algorithm devs too... How's that for a topical tech angle?)

Press

2018, BBC.

Some journos have been focusing on the minutiae of a hack's life that isn't as accurate as they'd like, but as a freelance journalist, who only walked past a press room, rather than worked in one, I'm enjoying this.

It does make me a little sad that I'm not right in the thick of things, but journalism jobs are hard to get now. Man, I'm not even in the NUJ anymore. Roy sad.

Strangers

2018

Watching John Simm figuring out why his wife died in Hong Kong.

Man, I didn't know he had so many fans. I bet it's the Master, I bet that's why.

The Big Bang Theory

2018.

It's back for its last season.

It's funny enough, and Stuart has a girlfriend. Let's hope it happens for Raj too. There's a few celebrity scientist cameos, including Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nigh too.

Thank god it's nearly over and then I can get over my OCD need for completion.

The First

2018.

Sean Penn is the gruff back up mission commander who takes up the challenge of going to Mars after the first team blows up on take off. The reason for the accident seems ludicrous, though there have been real life disasters caused by stupidity, but the reason was so weird I thought it was a conspiracy, but it turned out there wasn't.

Slightly soapy, I would have been more interested if the show focused on the more interesting and quirky director of the project played by Natascha McElhone, but no, they went for the alpha male lead.

Of course I watched it anyway, because: space.

More Picard

I saw a couple of pictures posted, one with the old TNG crew, sparking the inevitable rumours that everyone from TNG is coming back. There's also a picture of Patrick Stewart doing a table reading of the script.

Other than that, I know nothing!

Is Black Earth Rising Right About Language Imperialism?

The lawyer played by John Goodman makes a comment on how the Great Game is now played out through language.

What struck me was that the languages discussed were French and English and right at this moment Cameroon is in the midst of a conflict between Anglophones and Francophones.

Have I got the context wrong, or can there possibly be something in that statement? I don't know, but I find it interesting, and all the more so because my background is Mauritian, where both English and French are spoken.

I also wonder if that bit of dialogue was added to the script at the last moment, to keep the show relevant and topical, given the current state of affairs in Cameroon.

RIP Jacqueline Pearce

TV and film actress Jacqueline Pearce died a few weeks ago.

I, of course, remember her best as the evil head of the Federation Servalan and Comissioner Sleer in Blake's 7.

Goodnight Madame President.

RIP Geoffrey Hayes

Geoffrey Hayes, one of the presenters of another iconic TV show also recently died. He presented the Thames children TV series Rainbow.

I remember watching the show, that included puppets Zippy, Bungle, and George, as a child.

RIP Carlos Ezquerra

Spanish artist and co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog in the UK comic book 2000 AD, died yesterday. He was 70 years old.

He was a nice guy. I know because we communicated a long time ago. I had a couple of goes at setting up an interview, back when I was still doing them, but never got around to meeting him.

Still, his art was a really big part of my childhood, so RIP Carlos.

The Other Man

2008.

Tweet: "#LiamNeeson enraged that his wife's boyfriend wore #Gucci loafers in #TheOtherMan really cracked me up. Hahahahahaha."

It's a terrible film, but Liam Neeson really knows how to do comedy rage. Remember Dark Man (1990)?

Upcoming Stuff On the Box and the Big Screen

I watched a whole lot of trailers this week. Captain Marvel, Venom (with Tom Hardy playing Venom, I'm not sure. He can be good and he can be terrible and I don't trust his accents), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (I haven't seen the first yet, sure I love Harry Potter, but is Potter without Potter still Potter?), Amazon's Suspiria (can you remake perfection?), Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 (Christopher Pike), Dark Phoenix, Joker, and Star Wars Resistance (don't know if I'll watch it, but I do love the way the Star Wars animated series always have a really distinctive art style and they aren't afraid to try something daring).

StarWarsResistance and Doctor Who start Sunday 7th October. Mark that in your calendars.

Star Wars Unto the End of Time Itself!

Yeah, according to a Wired article back in 2015, me and most of you listening to this, won't live to see the final Star Wars film because, damnit, Disney spent so much on the IP, that it is going to milk it forever.

Being a Star Wars fan, this should fill me with joy, but art is not just about dollars.

The Mandalorian?

Eh? What? When? Though this was cancelled?

Dude, Where's My Wizard?

The Lego Evil Wizard I mini-fig I impulse bought on Amazon never turned up. Bezos!

I Listen to How Many Podcasts?!

232 and 65 YouTube channels.

Annie Clark and Nadine Shah

Two musicians I wanted to mention. St. Vincent's Annie Clark, really kills it on guitar, with unusual chords, modes, scales, riffs, tunings, and a really idiosyncratic, but expert way of playing. She's an all-round musician, but there is something really cool about how she plays.

Apparently, her uncle's a jazz guitarist, and she's musically educated, and she worked as a proper working musician; she was a sideman.

Nadine Shah is from the NE of England. Her stuff is haunting and rocky. Check them both out.

Playstation Classic

Tweet: "The only one I wanted was the NES Classic Mini... Maybe a proper mini Mega Drive would be nice (not the glitchy atgames stuff), but enough!"

EU Bans Killer Robots

While back in August the UN managed bugger-all, the EU passed a resolution calling for a ban on autonomous weapon systems.

While this is great, what about missile guidance systems and those guns on ships? Aren't they mostly self-guided? When does self-guided and automatic targeting systems become autonomous?

EU Meme/Link Tax

In slightly less great EU news, the EU passed Copyright Directive Article 13 and 11, which is great for hammering big tech who don't like to pay for anything, but what does it mean for the smaller content producers and sharers like me?

I tweeted the EU president: ".@EP_President Apart from hammering big #tech, what does the #EU's #CopyrightDirective #Article13 & #Article11 mean to the public, #YouTubers, #podcasters, #journalists, #bloggers etc.? As a creator, I want to be paid, but I also want to cite/reasonably reuse stuff too."

Of course, no reply.

Musk: Fined and Sued

Musk, Musk, Musk.

Remember the cave diver? A few weeks ago he started proceedings to sue Musk.

Also, the SEC finally fined Musk $20M and made him give up his chairmanship of Tesla. Well, he was a pretty rubbish chairman, and he's still running Tesla as CEO. Maybe he'll stop showing off now, get off Twitter and do his job.

Still, the markets are happy, and as of these show notes, Tesla is up 17 points.

Unthreaded Gmail

Updated Gmail on my phone and bingo: no more threaded messages, just latest first.

I also switched to using the HTML version of Gmail through my browser because my old Netbook can't handle anything more than that. On the desktop, I'm still using Thunderbird, but that's really mostly for archiving old mail.

Google Fit Update Looks Bad

It's a busy, annoying interface, and there's no longer an Android widget.

MacOS Mojave

Updated! Long, but painless process. Looks OK.

Hardly a big change. Dark mode is good.

Twitter Web Interface Unimprovements

Yes, it's bad again and heavy and flabby, and the Chrome tab is apt to forget your semi-completed Tweet. It's a toss-up as to whether an update will improve or mess things up.

Why are these updates so unpredictable?

50 Million Facebook Users' Data Breached

50 million user's data breached through their stay logged in thingy.

Fixed now, so they say.

What did I just say about big tech?

Super Micro Spy Chip?

The biggest tech news, broke on Thursday. Bloomberg, a credible news provider, revealed their investigation into a supply chain hack. They said hardware from China, used in US company Super Micro Computer Inc.'s server hardware, contained a spy chip. They say it was discovered in an Elemental Technologies Inc. server by an Amazon security audit in 2015 prior to Amazon acquiring the company. Elemental Technologies Inc. was a US defence contractor who specialised in video compression.

Apple have also used Super Micro servers.

The tiny rice grain sized chip perhaps does something at a hardware level... what? Keylogger perhaps? I don't know, but we'll find out more in coming days.

Amazon and Apple issued a blanket denial of the Bloomberg story. What's interesting is that neither side is backing down.

Meanwhile, Super Micro denies that this has made a difference to their business, but their stock fell through the floor, plummeting by 50%.

This is a huge story, and there is precedent for spy chips. Remember the Clipper fiasco back in the 90s? That was when American company AT and T installed the NSA's Clipper spy chip in some of their products.

Firefox Data Collection

Mozilla decides to collect data on Firefox users who have opted out of having their data collected.

You really can't get any more labyrinthine.

Gigabit Internet

Vodafone, saw a tweet (not an "@", but a "#") and responded with another "we'll look into this" regarding the continuing non-installation of my Gigafast fibre.

I don't know, by the time this gets done, I'm go from being one of the trial or first installees to being a maybe installee. No, "installee" is not a word. I did find out that if I'm not part of the first installees, I will have to wait until, wait for it, 2020.

I also found out that BT's average speed for their broadband service, i.e. normal ADSL, which is what I currently have, is 10 Mbps, except, when I run a line test, via a third party app and BT's own test, I get 1.5 Mbps down and 0.4 up. What a joke, and I'm paying 50 per month for this rubbish. That is why I was so keen to move to fibre. I checked out Virgin fibre too, but we don't have access to that in my area either.

I did hear some people from Vodafone through the door today. They didn't come in, but I could hear them pondering my connections. I hope they found something useful, but I don't think they did or they would have come in to give me the good news. It was a bit weird hearing someone rummaging and talking about your home through the door. I think it would have been like a jump scare in a horror movie if I opened the door right at the moment someone was a foot away.

Upgrade Path for Mortals

Lightweight Ubuntu derived dist for my Netbook or your laptop or PC and LineageOS instead of Android for my Moto G3 (which stopped being upgradeable since Marshmallow)?

Maybe.

Regarding on the Lineage thing, I might not because I don't really give two hoots as long as it works.

Face it, that company you bought your hardware from don't care what happens once they've got your cash.

Encrypt Your Portable Data

My lost backup flash drive never turned up. I said I'd encrypt ages ago, but didn't because I'm a reactive idiot, not proactive. Still, the data I lost was old drafts, luckily.

Now I've VeraCrypt'd both the original data on my laptop and the backup on the flash drive that stays in my pocket.

Sir Tim's Solid

Sir Tim Berners-Lee published a post (One Small Step for the Web...) on Medium about the Solid platform that is supposed to give us back control of our data.

I haven't had a chance to try it out yet.

Smart Microwave

Those multiple Alexa enabled Amazon smart devices...?

You know, if the home came with Jarvis or some proper programmatic genie or butler with a strong general AI that did everything, including mowing the lawn... then maybe, but this seems piecemeal.

Take the Amazon Basics microwave with Alexa. You still have to take your TV dinner out of the fridge, unwrap it, put it on a plate, etc.

Still, these devices are cheap, so even if people don't want Alexa they will still buy them.

Mind you, is there any way to turn Alexa off so that Amazon doesn't sell your eating habits to your life insurers?

Linus Reflects

Or rather whines, which is the nicest thing I can say. That, and being awful means racists and homophobes love him.

But he reassures people he still doesn't have to apologise for his gender or colour, etc.

Man, there is a person who should really not say anything. (I even had to re-edit this item myself!)

CRISPR-CAS9 versus Mosquitoes

"#Science: I'm semi-#Mauritian, so I can't stand the miniscule menace that is the #mosquito, but are we sure about this? Don't we have a #bee #pollination problem? #CRISPR #Mosquitoes #Malaria https://www.wired.com/story/heres-the-plan-to-end-malaria-with-crispr-edited-mosquitoes/... Vs: http://mentalfloss.com/article/30791/defense-mosquito-10-things-know-about-summer ...'s-biggest-annoyance"

Disabled Train App

BBC reported that there's a new app to help UK train staff assist disable passengers. It's currently being tested.

Slack IPO

The cooperative tool is going public early next year. WSJ reports that Slack Technologies Inc. could be worth around USD 7 B.

Not Aliens

The faff at AURA's National Solar Observatory in New Mexico was a manhunt, NOT aliens. Yes, nothing more than a very earthbound manhunt by law enforcement, not first contact.

Damnit.

Brexit Screwing Space

Remember how the government said the UK space industry wouldn't be affected? Well, we're out of Galileo (Europe's own GPS). We now have to build our own, hahahahahhahaha, or pray the USA doesn't lock us out of GPS or the Russians don't lock us out of Glonass.

I heard the current Director of UK Space Agency acts as if absolutely nothing is wrong and everything will be absolutely fine even with the government putting in hardly any money.

Fantastic.

We recently did an article on how Brexit is screwing financial services in London, now it's space, pretty soon it's going to lots of things and we'll be watching the news from behind the sofa, but this time not because of Doctor Who monsters.

SpaceX To Shoot Artists Around Moon

Thank god, a story about Elon that isn't about whatever idiotic thing he is doing on social media, but about what his company, thanks to a Japanese billionaire, is doing to further human expansion into space.

Also, since when did BFG become Big Falcon Rocket? Was the other acronym just a joke or did Musk wimp out? Not important.

Much as Iron Man (pah!) get's on my nerves, I still believe in space. Ad astra!

Hayabusa 2: The Asteroid Probe with a Shotgun (and Robot Rovers too)

Yeah, loose Rutger Hauer reference there, but do you remember that probe armed with a cannon? Really, a cannon! It has also landed robot rovers and they are sending back pictures. Well done Japan Space Agency (JAXA).

The amount of stuff Hayabusa 2 is doing is quite amazing and it really deserve more coverage, so maybe I'll do something more in a later podcast. I can't promise though, as you can see how much I cover each show.