Roman publishing was all about social networking, and Roman books were a form of social media.

Tom Standage wants to share his new book like Cicero.



Called the Ativ Q, the convertible "tabtop" can boot either the Microsoft operating system or run Google’s Android 4.2.2, with users able to share data between the two operating systems.

Its great to see there are companies with so much cash for innovations targeted at large market segments like those who won’t be confused by having to interact with two distinct user experiences all day.

Despite that there’s likely to be a flood of Tabtops in the market in the next 12 months as other hardware vendors try to extend their product umbrella.

I’ll place a bet now that not only will their sales be modest, but it will quickly become apparent that of those who purchase most will use one or other of the Operating Systems on offer depending on how they use the devices the most.

Iain Banks: The Interpreter of Culture

These days I’m spending far too much time rereading favourite books or watching favourite movies because their author, director, star has carked it. And while on the one hand, it’s depressing, on the other it helps to remind me of the glories of their lives and why they were both popular and excellent at the same time.

As I reread The Player of Games, Iain Banks most excellent second culture novel from 1988, I’m sad that, after this months new release, no more from his mind will arrive to be read while also remaining in awe of both his storytelling capabilities and his perception.

Consider this extract on the freedom of information and Privacy in the context of our current society’s struggle with the free availability of information and how that compromises Privacy.

You could find out most things, if you knew the right questions to ask. Even if you didn’t, you could still find out a lot. The Culture had theoretical total freedom of information; the catch was that consciousness was private, and information held in a Mind – as opposed to an unconscious system, like the Hub’s memory-banks – was regarded as part of the Mind’s being, and so as sacrosanct as the contents of a human brain; a Mind could hold any set of facts and opinions it wanted without having to tell anybody what it knew or thought, or why.

And so, while Hub protected his privacy, Gurgeh found out, without having to ask Chamlis, that what Mawhrin-Skel had said might be true; there were indeed levels of event-recording which could not be easily faked, and which drones of above-average specification were potentially capable of using. Such recordings, especially if they had been witnessed by a Mind in a real-time link, would be accepted as genuine. His mood of renewed optimism started to sink away from him again.

Also, there was an SC Mind, that of the Limited Offensive Unit Gunboat Diplomat, which had supported Mawhrin-Skel’s appeal against the decision which had removed the drone from Special Circumstances.

The feeling of dazed sickness started to fill him again.

He wasn’t able to find out when Mawhrin-Skel and the LOU had last been in touch; that, again, counted as private information. Privacy; that brought a bitter laugh to his mouth, thinking of the privacy he’d had over the last few days and nights.

Now remember it was written in 1988 and try and cast your mind back to how information was available then and how privacy might have worked. In my view Banks has perceived our present (his future) based upon a very limited technology compared to what we have today. Sure they had interconnected computers back then, but I think he was quite ambitious to think that just 25 years later we’d have something approaching Culture levels of information scraping, sharing and the impacts that has on privacy.

I’m sure as I plough my way through The Player of Games for the umpteenth time, I’ll rediscover much much more that associates somehow with recent situations. And then, I’ll think hard about what in 1988 might have given Banks that perception of these things a quarter of a century later, at the time of his death.

And I’ll raise a dram to his memory while I do it. Slainte Beatha, a chairde.

UPDATE: Looks like I’ll have to start watching The Sopranos from scratch now as well.

A Privacy of iOS Communication


…conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

Apple’s response to queries about PRISM has an interesting sidebar. If you want your communications to be private, both you and who you are communicating with should use iOS.

[Issue] Twitter integration

I’m suspecting this is something to do with the shutdown of Twitter API v1.0 I’m also seeing this issue with other apps on my iPad;

  • DuckDuckGo
  • Tumblr
  • Sydney Morning Herald


  • Drafts (though it didn’t include a link)
  • Instapaper (but I don’t think that uses the iOS integration)

Anyone else got a list of apps which have the same problem?

Dyson Wash Day


If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Dyson wanted its users to get the best value out of their purchases.

I wonder how effective this strategy is for getting the type of Promoter Scores that turn into recurring purchases – without the overt marketing normally required to achieve this.

Screen Shot 2013 06 12 at 9 29 39 PM


Following Alex Stamos’ intriguing A Taxonomy of PRISM Possibilities  I noted the following path suggested:

The PRISM program exists and gathers large amounts of information indiscriminately. The NSA is gathering broad data sets by passively sniffing huge amounts of traffic on backbones and at interchange points without the knowledge of the end-providers. The NSA is decrypting traffic using the private keys of these companies which it convinced them to turn over. 

In short, one of the paths he seems to suggest is one where (2 B ii a c b) the NSA is passively sniffing without the knowledge of the end-providers but the NSA has their Private Keys.

Even though at first glance it might look like a contradiction – why would they allow them to have their Private Keys if they though they were likely to sniff their traffic, there’s always the chance the Private Key was handed over for other reasons at another time. The chance that this might be the case should now make any organisation become more than normally wary about who has access to their Private Keys.

Unless, and as Stamos says,

This is a way that these companies could cooperate with the NSA without large numbers of employees being involved.

And be able to pretend to themselves while denying in public – as many have – that they’ve allowed any backdoors by Government agencies into their servers and services.