Skip to main content

We know where you've been!

There has been a media storm in a teacup lately over Apple's iPhone (I suppose it makes a change from that wedding). It probably reflects the fact that none of the news media's technology correspondents are old enough to remember back to 1984 that they didn't point out the irony of Apple's famous '1984' advertising campaign. Because now, it seems, friendly ole Apple is really Big Brother.

The brouhaha (love that word) arose because it was discovered that iPhones appeared to keep a list of places you had been. Oh no. Your privacy is breached. The world has ended. Everyone who is jealous of us iPhone users can now laugh at us for being smug. However, it seems that this was a mistake - this is just a file the phone uses to keep track of locations of the WiFi and phone masts it uses to help locate its position in all those useful position based apps before the GPS can kick in.

To be honest, I think we make too much of privacy (as witness all the fuss about superinjunctions at the moment). I really wouldn't have cared if my iPhone really did store a track of where I've been. It wouldn't discover anything very exciting. More to the point, even if I had popped into somewhere dubious, the accuracy of location on WiFi and phone masts is only to tens of metres. I could easily have just driven past.

So here's what it comes to. This is the headline. Apple is not Big Brother. Why did they need to make such a fuss? All the had to do was watch the ad:


Popular posts from this blog

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope