Data Data Everywhere

Google knokw all but how much does it really know?

Since Google announced the gmail service there must have been a small rainforest of paper written about the privacy implications of scanning email. It’s never really bothered me (which you should not read as I don’t care about it – it just doesn’t bother me right now) and my lovely gmail account remains somewhat underused at the moment (oh, and I do have a spare of you’re interested and give me a good enough reason to send you the invite).

Anyway, Hublog has an interesting list of things Google knows about you (plus an interesting follow up). Froogle is not mentioned there but thanks to this link they could believe I’ve just searched on dog beds twice in 10 minutes. If they infer that I have a dog (or am about to get a dog) they would be misreading this data.

Lots of organisations have access to lots of data about you. That should never be the problem. Personally, I am on CCTV about 10 minutes after I have left my house until I arrive in the office. Anybody who cared to could tell you quite a lot about me from observing my travel patterns on a daily basis. My bank knows where I spend my money and my doctor knows about my illnesses (although I have been to other doctors that my main doctor is not aware of).

The point is that there are mountains of information about me available out there. The problem is that none of it constitutes a full picture of me as an individual and that is the real danger. Recording the data is not a problem until somebody tries to look at it. In itself that’s not a great problem until somebody actions an event because of that data. However, inferring something about me because of it is not a good idea.

Comment Template Problem

Oops, I ought to fix the site.

Eric posted a comment about my entry Camp and I have just noticed there has been a problem with the template that displays the comments. It should be fixed now – although I guess the spam comments will now show alongside the the real comments.

I too rushed out and bought the Camp CD soundtrack which I got in the mail yesterday and it will be my soundtrack home in a few minutes! I got it from a cheap place in Canada – which was cool (although I guess it’s only cheap to me used to paying overpriced UK CD prices.

The Hottest State

As a reader you will observe William but you will not become emotionally attached.

Ethan Hawke’s Hottest State is a tale of obsessive love set in New York (and Paris) when William (’20 sexy, confident’) meets Sarah and they embark on a relationship which really is roller-coaster like. Through it we explore William’s relationship with his mother, absent-father and with himself. It’s clever yet not distant, sensitive but not sentimental but, ironically given the title, left this reader a little cold. The Hottest State is entertaining and well-written but capturing that painful, gut-wrenching emotion that is obsessive first love must be hard for any novelist and Hawke doesn’t quite pull the reader in. As a reader you will observe William but you will not become emotionally attached and Sarah’s quirkiness – which initially seems endeering – eventually distances you from her leaving William’s obsessive feelings a mystery. Despite those reservations, Ethan Hawke’s first novel suggests a promising career as novelist.

Camp

Fun DVD with a cute hunk as lead.

daniel letterle in campTo be honest, the reason I put Camp on the DVD list from LoveFilm is because Jase’s review last year sent me to the official site which made me think it looked cool. It was, I guess, a typical teenage rites of passage movie with an interesting twist as it is based at a summer camp based on mescal theatre. It’s fun and interesting – some great performances and some fantastic singing. It’ll not blow you away but it will make you laugh (and it may make you cry). Daniel Letterle as Vlad is, of course the heartthrob that we’d all love.

Oh, just go watch it. Laugh and sign then order the soundtrack (I just did!)

Technology Gets The Better Of Me

Maybe it’s all too much!

So at Waterloo station an hour ago I got a call from my boss – there was a client on the telephone who needs an urgent email – can you help them tonight. On the train I used my Treo to check locations of wifi spots. Starbucks in Wimbledon is where I am sat writing mails to customers. It’s tacky and yet cool at the same time. It’s great and also an example of how technology takes over our lives. And it looks like it is about to rain!

Celebrity Justice?

Is it right to have celebrities on a panel of jurors in a courtroom when a man is charged with murder?

Is it right to have celebrities on a panel of jurors in a courtroom when a man is charged with murder? Oprah Winfrey thought she was too opinionated to serve on the jury but the lawyers said it was fine for her to serve. I wonder if anybody has looked at the psychological impact on the other jurors. Oprah is not just a jobbing actor you might have seen in the background on EastEnders. She’s a global star with a massive following, highly regarded in the field she is in and her opinions are reported worldwide. Surely, this means that people will listen to her. Does that make others on the jury more easily swayed. I am sure most of them would say ‘no’. I would say that here presence wouldn’t effect me – but I don’t think I’d be telling the truth.

Madonna

I went to see Madonna at Earls Court.

my ticket to see madonna at earl's courtSo I went to see Madonna at Earls Court.

That statement does not make me a huge Madonna fan – although I am partial to many of her hits and, unlike some of my friends, I think American Life is a great album (then again I also like some of Blue’s material so who am I to judge musical tastes?) and she is most certainly a performer.

So, when commenting on a Madonna concert what should you say? Earls Court is a huge venue. For those of you who haven’t been you should be aware that it’s very stadium-like. We sat in the back left corner so it was like she was at the opposite goal post. And it’s in that context that you will understand why I didn’t think it was that good.

Madonna can put on a show. She is the undisputed queen of showmanship. And therein lies the problem. She performs a West End show of the variety that you need to be able to see. And she performs them at West End prices but to stadium-sized audiences. The audio is show-like and you doubt that she’s singing live the whole time – although I suspect a lot of it is live. It’s just very well produced and sounds like her CDs and, for me, that isn’t the point of going to see live music: somehow you need to believe that they are performing live. Add to that the fact that you can’t see the spectacular and you have a fun but, ultimately, a disappointing evening.

Flash Floods

I never really knew what a flash flood was until Wikipedia told me.

While trying to find a medal count for the olympics for my last post, I also followed some links at Wikipedia to their current affairs section where I came upon an interesting item about flash flooding relating to the floods in Cornwall. The advice “Turn Around Don’t Drown” is something we should all take on-board.

Email At Work

Why do I appear on email lists a few days after meeting somebody from a new company?

If you read any of what I write you will be aware that I don’t talk about work a great deal. This is supposed to be an outlet separate from anything to do with my working life but today I wanted to solicit you opinion on a trend I am seeing emerging through work.

Like all companies, on an almost daily basis we deal with new customers, prospects or organisations relating to our business. Often we will have meetings and presentations and start to build – what we hope will be – a good business relationship. Like most people who meet others in their sphere of work I hand out business cards to new contacts.

Three or four times in the past month I have found that – a few days after meeting somebody new – my email address will be subscribed to their company mailshot/newsletter etc. I know this is a reaction to the new rules on spam in the UK where there has to be some kind of business relationship before you can receive arbitrary messages from a company but I don’t like the trend. When you’re on the lookout for new business it’s a little hard to say ‘stop this’. Perhaps we should start doing something similar.

Kill Bill (Volume 1)

I wasn’t expecting to like it, but I loved it.

When you finally start to understand the plot of Kill Bill (Volume I) you will see that Uma Thurman wakes from a coma and is determined to seek revenge on those (namely Bill and his crew) who put her there. For me, Quentin Tarantino usually means more violence than I am prepared to stomach but in Kill Bill (Volume I) it’s almost comic book (the blood spewing from the severed arms will – sadly – amuse me for quite a while). The acting is excellent (Uma is brilliant and was Lucy Liu). The staging of the fight sequences is unlike anything I have ever seen before and, although I am still trying to figure some of it out, I am pleased I rented it and not a little disappointed that I didn’t see it in the cinema.

I wasn’t expecting to like it, but I loved it.