It’s ok to be complacent when technology is involved… isn’t it?

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
iPhone. What's going on behind that screen?

BOOM! Apple are monitoring your movements. They’re tracking your every move and they possess a detailed history of every place you’ve ever visited with your iPhone.

Headlines similar to the scare-mongering guff above rang out from media outlets across the globe and, while most of the focus was on the sudden ability for spouses to discover where their other halves had been playing away, the presenters, columnists and bloggers all shared one emotion in their reporting of this event: absolute, unadulterated panic.

How could this happen? Why are Apple and Google tracking us? What do they want? Who do they think they are? What right do they have to keep an eye on us at all times? They’ve already taken our money, what more do they want? They don’t need to know I nipped to Tescos last night. Why would they ever need to know that? I only went to buy a ready meal and some washing detergent.  My kids! Oh my GOD, my kids. They know where my kids are all of the time. Why?

Today, Apple released a press statement. It confirmed that the database file discovered by someone friendless enough to find it is, in fact, there for the user’s benefit. It keeps a detailed track of wifi hotspots and mobile phone masts in order to quickly locate the phone at the user’s request. Use the maps app to find your way around unfamiliar towns? This file helps you out. Particularly if you’re indoors or mid-way through a tunnel. The aforementioned hotspots and masts could be hundreds of meters away from the actual phone’s location. Therefore, the database is simply keeping a record of the location of inanimate objects, not you or your bit-on-the-side’s gaff.

Whether you believe them or not (and their admission that “we plan to cease backing up this cache [the database file in question] in a software update coming soon” seems rather conveniently timed) it does prove that the media appear to drop all rules of good, accurate journalism when it comes to a technology story. Why? Because technology is magic and mystical. It’s made by geeks who have brain power capable of knocking the Earth off its axis. It is unknown territory, much like the afterlife and the dark side of the moon. What goes on inside a computer, phone, TV or engine management system is beyond comprehension.

Only, it isn’t. Anything can be explained. Particularly technology, which is so dumb it can only follow instructions made up of 1s and 0s. If these journos had taken just a few moments to investigate ‘locationgate’ a bit further, they might have found the answer before Apple’s announcement today. But no, there has to be a conspiracy. There has to be wrongdoing involved.

Sony’s Playstation Network disaster aside, why don’t we just step back a bit, calm down and wait for the facts, eh, Fleet Street?

The Royal Wedding – A Confession

Will and Kate“Are you sure you want to come?” the question was followed by a pause, a furrowed brow and, then: “Actually, you could make the drinks and stuff. Ok.”

I felt slightly unwanted, a little bit of a nuisance but, more importantly, like I’d managed to wrangle my way into some kind of secret club. A bit like Fight Club, only without the fighting and on the condition that I play waiter. But that didn’t matter. I was IN.

I hadn’t spent a full year on earth when Charles and Diana married in 1981. I feel I missed out on that one. William and Kate seem like a nice enough couple. There’s a bit of a buzz in the country. I enjoy an event. I’ll admit it…

I want to watch the royal wedding on Friday.

I’m not sure if it’s something to be embarrassed about, being a red-blooded man and all (although the fact I’ll be spending the day in a room full of wedding-obsessed women probably is) and the fact that food and booze is involved has no bearing on my decision, of course.

So, there you go. I’ve said it. I’m a man and I want to watch the royal wedding.

And then visit the pub to man up, talk about football and drink real ale.

Happy St George’s day, incidentally.

ATV

Today, I spotted this article on the eternally chugging rumour mill that is Apple Insider.

If Apple are indeed planning to make a TV, this is terrible, terrible news. Why? Well, for the simple fact that I will want one more than I want to punch George Osbourne in the face. And that’s a lot.

I freely admit that I love Apple products. They’re expensive, yes. They always appear to be a few steps behind the times in certain respects. The company’s CEO is irreversibly arrogant and insistent that everything they do is exactly how it should be done. They distort and twist facts and stats about competitors. I know all of this, yet I own an iPhone 4, MacBook Pro, iPad, Airport Express and enough Apple USB cables to turn Jupiter into a giant yo-yo.

So, if this rumour is true – and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is – what’s an Apple TV going to be like? Just a bigger LED cinema display with an internet connection? Knowing Apple, and using the iPad as a case in point… probably.

It does seem to be the logical progression for Apple TV. They know how to make displays and the latest iteration of their mini set-top, content-on-demand box has been well received. Why not combine the two?

The introduction of FaceTime on the iPad 2 also hints at their continuing quest to dominate our social lives and be forever in the public conscience. FaceTime on your TV would further help this cause.

They also know that, even during a worldwide financial meltdown, idiots like me continue to be enticed by their superb design team and attention-grabbing marketing. I wouldn’t be over-egging it by suggesting they’re the best on the planet at the latter and it’s the reason they make expensive, feature-light products sell by the bucketload. They could doubtless do the same with a television.

Of course, it might also just be a load of old bollocks.

I’ve seen rumours come and go on Apple Insider but this is one I’ll keep an eye on.

You can swear, Wayne… just be a bit nicer about it

Alex Ferguson has today blasted the FA for pressuring referee Lee Mason into reporting Wayne Rooney for his foul-mouthed rant at a Sky TV camera. According to the eternally obnoxious Scot, they ‘bullied’ Mason into doing it so that they could fine the player.

Quite an ironic surmise coming from one of the biggest bullies in football.

You know what I’d like to see from Ferguson? An admission. Just for once. Even Wayne made one, right after the game (although he quickly contradicted his statement with his ‘they’re out to get me’ comments after the Chelsea match), labelling his tirade inappropriate and not for the ears of the young kids watching.

His manager is pinning everything on the fact that his star player has been banned ‘for swearing’, but he misses the point entirely. It was for the aggression shown, and that is something Rooney needs to curb in most areas of his game. If he’s not swearing at the camera, he’s stomping around the pitch, flinging his arms in the air at any accidentally misplaced pass. I can’t think of a more uninspiring way to play alongside your team mates. Put simply, and in a language he’ll understand, he’s a little shit who needs to grow up. If Ferguson had admitted that the player needs to adjust his attitude a bit and drop the unpleasant high level of aggression, instead of making out that the world is out to get Utd, he’d garner far more respect from people like me.

There’s nothing wrong with aggression or arrogance in sport, but Rooney, his manager and Manchester Utd need to drop their biblical levels of it if they’re ever to have the slightest glimmer of respect from anyone but their fans.

Pass the stroganoff

“You don’t know what’s in beef stroganoff? It’s rice… mushrooms…” he plunged another fork-full of said stroganoff into the depths of his mouth, “…and beef.” A piece of beef (neatly propelled by the last breath of its very name) flew across the table and settled on the empty seat opposite.

The waitress smiled and looked down at the reservation list, again. I imagined it blank, a barren wasteland of empty tables, destined to remain vacant for the rest of the evening. No respite, no distraction and no excuse to tend to someone else.

It seems that whenever I stay in a hotel I end up sharing dining space with a road worker. I don’t know many road workers. I don’t know any, in fact, but I imagine they’re likely to be as varied and diverse a race as found in any profession. Only, the ones I come across sit in hotel restaurants, appear to be on first name terms with all of the staff and are, without exception, the most annoying people I’ve ever come across.

Tonight’s diner was a prime example. Fat, loud and insistent on reminding everyone within a one mile radius that he is working away from home, he gave us all a running commentary of the work in hand. It’s been a long week, y’know and it’s looking like he’ll be working into the weekend. Barry said he could have the overtime, but the missus isn’t going to like it. Oh no, but at least it’ll give her chance to catch up on Corrie. That bit out the front is done, but they’ve got to do the bit down by the tram line, and that’s going to take at least another eight years…

They’re never pleasant, either. I can just about tolerate a loud, nice person. For a couple of minutes. But these guys are, without exception, nasty pieces of work.

The stroganoff expert finished his meal and demanded to see the dessert menu which was duly delivered, in my opinion, far too quickly and without the necessary final action of inserting it into him. “Not much nice on there, eh?” He said, leaning back on the chair I hoped would give up trying to support him.

To her credit, the waitress simply smiled again and didn’t take up the second opportunity to force-feed him an ironic dessert menu dessert.

And with that, he left. I’m here for another night, so I’ll let you know how they get on with the tram bit tomorrow. Personally, I can’t wait for the update.

Flash or no flash, it’s not the problem

So, as speed cameras are turned back on in Oxford, they’re turned off in Northamptonshire.

I’m concerned, but not for the reasons you might think.

Speed cameras are both a nuisance and a welcome sight. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d be happy to see one outside the gates of their school. When I’m driving along a deserted country lane and spot a mobile camera peeking out from behind some conveniently-placed bushes, I could quite happily get out of the car and wrap it around the operator’s head.

The former serves a worthwhile purpose, the latter is just jobsworth policing at it’s very worst.

So why am I concerned? The real problem with speed cameras and the fixation government bodies, speed groups and safety campaigners have on them is that they’re focussing entirely on speed, labelling anyone breaching set variations of it a criminal.

By far a more pressing issue which affects most road users on a daily basis – and, I’m sure, creates a great number of accidents – is poor driving.

Poor driving comes in many forms. Travelling well below the speed limit, erratic breaking, curb hugging, the inability to maintain a constant speed, tailgating, ignorance of the need for headlights when it is foggy, arguing with a passenger, having sex with a passenger… The list goes on. None of these things are deemed worthy enough of needing cameras or other special tools for capturing and monitoring them. Why?

Until driving standards and teaching methods improve, the roads are unfortunately going to remain a hazardous place to be. Speed cameras or no speed cameras.