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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Enraged US man shoots his malfunctioning computer

From The BBC

21 April 2015

A man in the US city of Colorado Springs faces police action after becoming so frustrated with his computer that he took it outside and shot it eight times, police say.

"He was having technology problems, so he took it to the back alley and destroyed it," a police spokesman said.Lucas Hinch was briefly detained for discharging a firearm within the city. He did not realise he was breaking the law when he went "Wild West" on his machine, local media reported. A judge is due to decide what penalty he will receive.

"He got tired of fighting with his computer for the last several months," police spokesman Jeff Strossner told the Colorado Springs Gazette. The paper said that Mr Hinch "shot the darn thing" when ctrl+alt+delete - the traditional method used to re-boot computers - "consistently did not work" on Monday evening. "He was able to wreak the kind of revenge most of us only dream about," the
paper said. "The computer is not expected to recover."

[Well, in all my years in IT Support...... LOL]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Read whenever the opportunity presents itself..........

Just Finished Reading: Trespass by Rose Tremain (FP: 2010)

Fine Art dealer Anthony Verey is starting to feel every one of his 64 years. Clients in his fashionable shop have become few and far between and sales have become even rarer. For the first time in his life he is starting to envy others more than they envy him. It is, he thinks, time for a radical change in his life. Thinking back to the happiest times in his life he thinks about his sister and how she used to protect him from the harsh realities of life. Now living in France with her lover she is ideally placed to help him transition to a better life. Arriving in Sothern France Verey starts a chain of events that will lead to a death and a cleverly constructed act of final revenge after decades of abuse.

This is another one of those books I picked up because it looked interesting and different – not the kind of thing I normally read, a change and all that entails. It was certainly well written and neatly constructed although I had worked out several of the secrets before being revealed by the author. Oddly, despite being interested to see if I was right in my suppositions, I never liked any of the characters portrayed here. Verey himself, his sister and her lover where all in their individual ways broken people but I couldn’t feel much sympathy for any of them. Their situations, I thought, were entirely of their own making. The French lead character Aramon Lunel was distasteful in the extreme and I really didn’t enjoy being inside his head. About the only person that I felt any sympathy for, as well as a grudging respect, was his long suffering sister Audrun who was at the centre of things by about half way through. Of course not having any character to focus my interest on tended to diminish any pleasure I had reading the novel and didn’t exactly aid my reading through it at any speed. It certainly wasn’t a bad book, just a not very enjoyable one (for me at least). Clever, atmospheric, creepy in places and with a reasonably satisfying ending this was worth the price I paid for it but I doubt if I’ll be looking out for this author in future.

[2015 Reading Challenge: A book with a one word title – COMPLETE (13/50)]

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thinking About: All You Zombies

It was probably some kind of teenage angst thing but for a while there I really did consider the idea that I might be the only real person alive. I knew (or at least thought I knew) that I was alive and a real person, but what about everyone else? How could I tell? Of course my head was full of new and strange ideas back then as I voraciously consumed large quantities of SF novels so it wasn’t much of a surprise that my mental stability was somewhat out of kilter – and there was the whole teenage hormone thing going on so my poor brain was being poisoned by various nasty chemicals as part of the growing up process. Interestingly I latter discovered that my rather disturbing musings as a teenager is a recognised philosophical problem – that of other minds.

The other minds problem is deceptively simple. Because you have a dialogue with yourself in your own head it stands to reason that you have a mind in which to have these conversations. There is, it seems certain, a self, a directing force, a personality, directing your actions, speaking through your mouth and making decisions about what you do or choose not to do. You are, in other words, a person. But what about everyone else? They may look like you, or enough so as not to produce too much comment, they communicate in ways you expect (most of the time) and, by and large, react to things that you think you’d probably react in those circumstances but how do you know that they’re actually persons like you? But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck, right? Probably, but it could be a sophisticated machine designed to do just that and only careful examination might reveal that it isn’t what it appears to be at first glance. You might even have to dissect it to find the mechanical parts. You might even have to look at it under a microscope to be sure and what if, after all that investigation, it still seems to be a real duck? Does that actually make it real or just a really, really sophisticated fake?

You can see how ideas like this are dangerous stuff. If you actually believed that other people are not real – no matter what level you investigate them at - then you could, with a clear conscience, do just about anything to them. After all they’re not real so what does it matter? I’m sure that there are people, hopefully locked up and on major medication, who think just that. But the question remains – how can we know that other people are real? The answer, as far as I know, is that we can’t (ever) unless we get around to the technological equivalent of telepathy and even then we have the fall-back position of citing sophisticated technology (or clever fakery) to explain it. Of course to truly function amongst other people (or zombies) you have to assume that they are actually persons and not just refined automata until that is proved otherwise. Would I be totally surprised if someone I knew turned out to be an advanced machine? I don’t know. I might just stand there, smile, and say “I knew it!” Would I be surprised if I turned out to be one too? Probably not. As proven on several occasions when given free reign my scepticism knows no bounds. I can doubt the existence of other people, I can doubt the existence of the world around me (I did wonder that if I could move fast enough would I catch the film crew or set builders on a tea break not expecting me for another 10 minutes) and I can even doubt my own existence when I take the time to think about it. Knowing what is real is, as far as I know, impossible. I suspect things are as they seem to be. I’m not going to walk in front of a bus or out of a high window because I doubt that the world actually exists. After all in you die in The Matrix you die ‘for real’ too, right? Nor am I going to dissect my friends looking for servo motors or silicon chips so don’t worry about it. As to whether or not you guys are actually real…..? Well, I haven’t quite decided yet.