The Anonymous Widower

Is Facebook Going Belly Up?

This article in the Guardian, quotes researchers at Princeton University, saying that Facebook will lose 80% of its members by 2017.

They’ve compared the growth of the social networking site to an infectious disease.

I think it will have died, as something else will replace it.

January 24, 2014 Posted by | Computing, News | , | 1 Comment

Are Things Getting Better?

There has been a lot of discussion about whether things are getting better, with the government that things are on the up and Milliband saying they’re not. This article gives both views, with David Cameron being quoted in this way.

Most British workers have seen their take-home pay rise in real terms in the past year, the government claims.

It has produced figures showing all except the richest 10% saw their take-home wages rise by at least 2.5% once tax cuts were taken into account.

The article says this about Ed Milliband.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the figures were “dodgy” and ministers were out of touch with people’s lives.

I’m not going to take sides, but as I travel around the country, I see many things.

If I look at my situation, I think it has got marginally better compared to what it was twelve months ago.

I’m getting a slightly higher rate on my savings in Zopa, my energy is slightly cheaper since I moved my energy supplier to Ovo and running my household seems to be cheaper, as I’ve organised myself better. The latter is not down to the economy, but partly due to individuals and companies, launching new products and services.

One thing that hasn’t hit me, is the cost of motoring! Because I don’t!

I’ve just had February’s edition of Modern Railways and as in the last few months, there are quite a few articles about new stations and lines. There’s also been a few examples of new and refurbished trains being built or modified in the UK. But go to places like Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester and the transport infrastructure is much better than it was three or four years ago. Other places like Blackburn have got new stations. And there are quite a few new British-built buses too.

If the experience of the introduction into North London of the Overground, is anything to go by, where people have told me it has allowed them to get to new or better jobs, this new transport infrastructure can only be a good thing.

But if I go to places outside of London, it all seems much better. Surprisingly, there are quite a few bright, new shopping centres.

But then some politicians don’t want to be positive!

January 24, 2014 Posted by | News, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

The Overground Wins The Passengers’ Votes

I like the London Overground and believe that it has helped to improve the part of London where I live.  I’ve heard stories of people getting their first job because it enables them to get reliably to a job out of the area they live.

But don’t just believe me, read this report.  Here’s an extract.

The London Overground has trounced the competition in a survey of passenger satisfaction.

Overall, users had an 89 per cent satisfaction rate with the service, a survey conducted by independent rail watchdog Passenger Focus showed.

This compares with 82 per cent for all operators in London and the south east and 83 per cent across the national network.

Let’s hope the Overground works its magic on Tottenham, Walthamstow and Enfield, as it expands next year.

January 24, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Barney Curley Does It Again!

There are gamblers, successful gamblers and Barney Curley. In a betting coup a couple of days ago, the BBC is reporting that he made about two million pounds.

It certainly isn’t the first time! A late friend was a Newmarket bookmaker and was always on the look-out for any of Barney’s money. He managed to avoid any serious damage, but that was more by luck than judgement.

Wikipedia gives a detailed account of the Yellow Sam betting coup.

The major bookmakers thought they had protected themselves against coups from the likes of Barney Curley.  But they were wrong!

January 24, 2014 Posted by | News, Sport | , | Leave a comment

Farewell To Christopher Chataway

Sir Christopher Chataway was one of my heroes and he has been mentioned regularly in this blog.

But now he has died and I suspect the world will be a duller place.

I can still see the pictures of him in white defeating Vladimir Kuts at the White City. This is the BBC’s description of the feat.

His career in international athletics lasted only five years with the pinnacle being in 1954 when he set a new 5,000m world record of 13 minutes 51.6 seconds in a televised race at White City.

Chataway beat Russia’s Vladimir Kuts by 0.1 secs – the man who he had finished second behind in the 5,000m European Championships final two weeks earlier.

He might not have been a great athlete, but he was one of those rarer beings; a great all round talent.

January 24, 2014 Posted by | News, Sport | , , | Leave a comment

The Problems Of Twitter

We have had a lot of stories in the past few years about people being abused on Twitter and similar sites, such as this report about Stan Collimore.

I have been involved in a few studies about malicious calls in the past with BT and have a small amount of knowledge. For instance, those that abuse usually target someone specific like an ex partner or employer or they might do the opposite and tend to target a range of people.

But there is always a pattern, as people are creatures of habit!

I also did some work years ago with project management software to see, if it were possible to fill in the blanks on an activity, based on other activities in a project and the words in the description. Techniques of language recognition, weren’t that good in the 1980s, but I believe that it is now possible to make a better fist of it.

Twitter messages are a string of a few words and I believe that computers can now get the flavour of what is said with a bit of help.  After all Google often gives you what you want in a search, that is full of spelling and typing mistakes.

So let’s say you get an abusive Twitter message. By flagging it to Twitter, they should be able to automatically determine if the contents fits a typical abusive pattern, based on the words and the tweeting profile of the sender.

An automatic warning would then ensue if it was deemed necessary, followed by deletion of the account, if the abuser persisted.

I obviously don’t know the thoughts of Twitter, but I’m absolutely certain, that an automatic system could be developed based on technology that works well in other areas.

The trouble is, any system like this is against the American rules on Free Speech. But it probably would be acceptable to many of those who have suffered abuse.

January 24, 2014 Posted by | Computing, News | , , | Leave a comment