Friday, 5 October 2007

Big Stick Sociology

Yesterday I got threatened by someone with a big stick about the size and shape of a baseball bat. It's OK, I wasn't attacked, I'm just surprised it's possible to get away with that kind of behaviour in public.

I was cycling home from Stockport*
View Larger Map and as I got to the crossroads at Parrswood road / Fog lane a guy in a parked car opened his door right in front of me. So I shouted "Watch it!" and he swore at me to shut up. So I yelled "You don't have the right to tell me to shut up!" and he grabbed something like a baseball bat from his boot* and started to threaten me with stuff like "Come over here and I'll smash your F***ing face in!"

I declined. I was several metres ahead of him; toying with the idea of jumping the lights (which were still red), but I still held my ground and eventually him and his verbal obscenities went into the nearest house (presumably to show off his fine lump of wood).

So that's it really. I reported the incident to a Community Support* police officer. The thing I'm thinking is that hey, there were lots of witnesses, but would they have got out of their cars to help? I think ultimately most of us are too scared to risk ourselves in the face of intimidation and that's why it works. But really it should work the other way round, there's more of us than there is of them!

[* Stockport is in the UK. The Boot of a car is the 'Trunk'. Community support officers are volunteer police]

Thursday, 4 October 2007

OLPC Deal: Give Two Get None

I really love the OLPC.

Well, I love everything about it apart from two things, they use an AMD x86-based CPU when they could have used a lower-powered ARM-based machine (e.g. an Arm11 or Cortex A8). And the OLPC "Give One Get One" deal only applies to the US and Canada.

For the rest of the world, the deal is: "Give Two Get None" since outside the US you can donate to give away XO laptops, but you'll never receive one.

But that's OK, I'll buy into that, sign me up Nick for donating 2 XO laptops - in fact I'll sign up for 4. At $800 it's still a great deal!

I'd like to donate in order to seed the XO in particular places: Zambia (where Dignity online operates) and in Senegal (where a cameroonian friend of mine has an interest).

But it's not the only way of doing things, stay tuned for a future post!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Mac mini madness!

Well, there you go. Today Apple UK are offering a special deal on a refurbished Mac mini: A 1.83GHz Core Duo Superdrive for only £499.

Except that... A brand-new Mac mini 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo with a 50% bigger Hard Drive in a nice box costs the same. Something tells me the 'special deal' isn't going to sell!

Pity, 'cos I'm very much a Mac mini fan. In the UK it's still the best Mac deal you can get: with it you can buy a complete Mac for around £500 (e.g. £399 Mac mini + 17" LCD monitor from Microdirect (£85) + Apple Keyboard (£29) + Trust Optical Mouse (£4.50)) => £517). The next best thing is a Superdrive Mac mini at £617 followed by a Combo Macbook at £699.

Even so, I think Apple should sell a... what I would call a Mac nano - a 11" wide-screen LCD (1024x600) backed onto a slow CPU with 512Mb RAM Mac with only Airport/BT networking and two USB ports. With this machine there's no Combo / Superdrive, no external video and just one RAM slot (occupied by the 512Mb). Then I'd sell it for around £350 (£399 with wireless Kbd/Mouse deal). The point would be some kind of satellite Mac good for internet stuff etc. Or is that what the rumoured Apple PDA is going to be? Or would such a machine be usurped by the (other) rumoured Macbook mini/nano?

OK, so my Mac nano might be madness, but at least it's not as mad as a special deal that's anything but!