Thursday, 28 April 2016

Original Patent Application Number 5,008 for Improvements in Box Staples for use with Locks and Latches

Received the news that Beyond the Hedge, Volume 1: The Light and the Dark is now available on Amazon to pre-order.  My sincere advice is to Buy! Buy! Buy!

I particularly like the fact that it appears to be by "Robert Bagnall (author) & 7 more".  Reminiscent of Spike Milligan's 'Hitler, my part in his downfall'.

Clicking on the author link I also find that I'm credited with "Original Patent Application Number 5,008 for Improvements in Box Staples for use with Locks and Latches" but, alas, I'm fairly sure I wasn't in Wolverhampton in 1901...

Sunday, 24 April 2016

I predict flying cars

I was trying to explain something to the kids the other day, something sufficiently advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic to me growing up, but antediluvian to them.  I think it may have been Video+ codes.

This got me thinking: what is there in the world today that is commonplace, but to their children will be utterly alien?

And then it came to me.  Cars.

Not cars, per se.  But car ownership.

Think about it.  Uber delivers us a taxi at the tap of a screen.  And driverless technology will give us in, say, five years time, cars whizzing about on the road with nobody in as a common sight.  Combine the two.  Rather than own a car, when I want one, in future I'll tap a screen and a car will appear, purring, outside my door at a preset time.

And, when I don't want one, it'll drive itself away.  Even when I keep it in the medium term it may well drive itself away to park.  Possibly in a designated multi-storey, impossibly close to its neighbours, as it recharges through wireless charging, the whole shoal shifting like a child's puzzle as cars move in perfect collaboration to let others in and out.

When I grew up we had coal bunkers.  You had to store all your power for heating on site and then use it, bit by bit.  Nowadays gas comes through pipes as and when I need it.  I don't have a gas holder on site.  One less hassle.  It'll be the same with cars with two decades; personal transport on demand and just-in-time.

I predict that in ten, fifteen years time that will be the model for personal transport.  It's there when you need it, not when don't.  And the other big change is that there'll be no storage issue, at least not on-site.  Fewer cars parked on the street, fewer garages (and more garages converted as granny annexes for our ageing population - a win-win there).  All this will be swapped for high-density parking facilities without the need for lights on room to open doors.  (Pity the mechanic that has to deal with a breakdown in the midst of that).

I'm quite confident that the car we currently own may not be our last, but may be one of the last - we may have two or three more.  And, perhaps, the kids may own some clapped out runabout.

What I'm less sure about is the transition from here to there.  We'll have a glut of non-driverless cars on our hands as we move from one technological paradigm to the next.  You can't give VHS tapes away nowadays; even charity shops refuse to take them.  Will it be the same with non-driverless technology? Or will they be retrofitted?

Or - and this is my favourite scenario - will we all be buying robot drivers, encapsulating the driverless technology and interfacing with the car, turning the wheel and pressing the peddles.  Will we, psychology insist on it looking human?  Will I be able to put a chauffeurs cap on mine?

I predict flying cars.  Not flying per se, but flying to me when I want it.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Fan mail? No, spam mail

I really thought that I had received my first piece of fan mail when the following dropped through my digital letterbox from JukePop:

annah brown said: Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (, for more information about me. because i have some important thing i will like to discuss with you privately. Hope to hear from you soon. Anna, thanks

Well, much as I like being liked, my first instinct is to carry out some due diligence, a sort of digital version of dogs sniffing each others' arses.  And who would have believed that 'Annah' had emailed a whole slew of JukePoppers with exactly the same message?  Fancy that.  The little hussy.

So, I replied:

Thanks for your message.  Do we meet alone, or with all the other Jukepop authors you've messaged?  Could I suggest you book a function room, perhaps upstairs in a pub?

I thought that would be that, but no, she came back with chapter and verse.

Hello My Dear
How are you today? thanks for contacting me back, i will like to be kind and honest with you, i am a woman that have seen life, i have been in the social circle for many years, although it does not matter one's age, color or achievement, what matters in our life is your kindness to humanity

Dear, i believe that is the most important thing in life, I had been hardworking all my life, i must think of something better, to enjoy my life and probably have a family ,maybe relocate and start investing in other things, Anyway i will like to tell you more about me, My name is Miss Anna Brown, am from France, i was born in France, And i left France at Age of 12 Years to England, which to the glory of God Am working as an Senior Audit/banker in Islamic Bank of Britain Plc United Kingdom, is very painful i lost my only son at age of 4 years,

i was married but my Ex Husband got married to another woman, which caused our divorce, but is ok that is life for you, since he accused me of been so busy due to my bank work activities as accounting/auditing, that i was not having time for him and our son before he passed away, but he refused to understand that i was pursing a goal, i told him that soon i will resign and we will have enough time for each other but he was impatient, although is over between us, I am happy alone because I have everything i need, This is why I think of relocating to another country to get into investment and maybe own a small company which i can be able to manage on my own, Please would you tell me more about yourself too?  I will like to know more about you for me to know if we can achieve this goal together, your marital status and your country of origin
I will be glad to hear from you soon
Yours Faithful Anna 

My faithful Anna?  She can't even be bothered to address it to me, personally.  What about all the other JukePoppers getting similar messages?  The vixen.  Lovely set of photos, though.  Bet they're not of anybody called Anna.  I suspect 'Anna' is a boke with a beard and last week's underpants in an internet cafe in Lagos.  So, I replied:

Fascinating, but doesn't really address the points in my email, does it?

And, eventually, Anna responded unspecifically (isn't the bloke in the sweaty boxers even reading what I write?  This is what really annoys: that he's trying a scam with technology that would have seemed like magic to my grandfather, but can't be bothered to use the diligence and care that my grandparents' generation would have taken as read to make the conversation look genuine.  The only reason I pretended to me nibbling was to see whether he would respond to my points.  If this was about artificial intelligence then I'd be writing about 'the frame problem', but there's a bloke eating crisps in Nigeria at a keyboard involved in this, which should circumvent that old chestnut):

Hello My Dear How are you today?
i must thank you once again for your humble reply to my mail. I really appreciate it so much and i am very happy to read from you, well from your respond I'm convinced that the future has a special place for us, if only we could trust each other and also be honest and faithful to each other as well

Like i told you earlier, i was looking forward to accomplish a particular mission, which my ''ex'' husband was unlucky to achieve with me, I think with the little you have told me about you, it would be very wise to disclose this secret to you and also tell you my aim and plan. Because it would be of mutual benefit to us and maybe you could be the right person to utilize the opportunity with me, because i believe our knowing each other is the way God have destiny it

Remember i told you i am an Auditor of my bank and also the Chief of the International Relation Foreign Remittance Unit. Prior to my position here at my bank, i have the opportunity to loot out some amount of money of a deceased customer, whose autopsy result showed that he died as a result of gun shorts by unknown gunmen. As i was her personal accountant officer, before he died and from the account opening records, he did not indicate anybody as his beneficiary next of kin. Since 2008 to date, nobody has come forward as his beneficiary next of kin to administer the fund. The amount in question is the total sum of $9,500,000. (Nine Million Five Hundred Thousand USD).

I can provide all the required legal papers from the British Court to present you as the legal beneficiary to these funds if you would accept to partner with me in this deal. A lot of abandoned money lay around in this bank as a result of abandoned bank accounts, stock holdings, unclaimed life insurance pay-outs and forgotten pension benefits. I will definitely give you comprehensive details on how we would achieve this legally, without going against the laws of the country. Once you reply to me indicating your interest to work with me. I have worked with the bank for several years and have taken time to study the British inheritance claims procedures. I would appreciate it if you would treat this issue with every bit of confidentiality and maturity, putting my integrity foremost, because i wouldn't need any mistakes or regrets. I assure you that you will never regret it if you would take the bold step to partner with me in this deal. It would be wise if
we make every effort not to loose this golden opportunity. This happens in every bank around the world, even in your own country, but people outside the banking industry do not know this.

The fund will be shared at the ratio of 58% for me, 40% for you and 2% will be set aside to cover any expenses and tax in your bank, We will use the fund there in your country to build companies and for investment which both of us would manage, Please this is an honest request for you and i. i only plead for you to make this transaction a top secret because we do not have to trust anybody unless you and i alone.

Please treat this business proposal with utmost confidentiality and send me the following Information(s) for further application for this transfer if you are interested.

1. Full Name,
2. Address
2. Identification copy

Thanks and best regards
Yours Faithful Annh Brown

Bored now.  Game over.