Wampserver on Vista

Spent ages trying to get it to work and couldn’t – it said it was running but just gave me a blank page on localhost and . For the benefit of anyone else who is struggling with this, I found out that this is what you have to do:
Step 1 – find this file
Step 2 – open it
Step 3 – save it on the desktop (Vista won’t let you save it even as admin)
Step 4 – find a line in the hosts file that says
::1 localhost
Step 5 Copy it to overwrite the original at C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts

The department of ridiculously implausible denials

Why do reputable news agencies insist on publicising obvious lies as “just the other side of the story”? Some examples:
“The spokesman of the Chinese embassy in London said that there was no evidence to show Beijing was involved.
He suggested the findings were part of a “propaganda campaign” by the Tibetan government in exile. ”

“BEIJING, April 9 (Xinhua) — Chinese officials on Wednesday denied a so-called “media war” over the March 14 riot in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, saying that the majority of foreign journalists were covering the issue fairly.”

(OK that one is from the Chinese embassy but I bet it was reported verbatim elsewhere)

President Robert Mugabe has said Zimbabwe has contained cholera – as the UN and a UK charity warned the deadly outbreak was getting worse.
Save the Children said: “If anything is certain in the chaos of Zimbabwe today it is that the cholera outbreak is not under control.”
Mr Mugabe also said Western powers were plotting to use cholera as an excuse to invade and overthrow him.


“The Zimbabwean Government has rejected widespread criticism of a new media law passed by parliament on Thursday.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the BBC there was nothing in the legislation which was intended to stifle dissent. ”

Updating exams

Exams based on memory make so little sense nowadays. 90% of people’s work will be based around using the internet as a readily available source of information and what’s for sure 0% of people’s work involves remembering facts about books they’re read or using handwriting which can’t be wiped out.
But how do you let someone use online sources and type their exam answers without opening up to a cheating-fest? Is it better to keep to the old crap system just in order to avoid this? Also what skills should we be measuring nowadays even assuming we could make a viable cheat-proof system?
My initial answer is – yes we should definitely update the exam system. One obvious answer would be to sniff all network traffic of people doing the exams and log it in a non-repudiatable way. Then do spot checks on every 20th candidate (say) and really check out what they were doing during the exam. If there is any foul play, then you throw out that person’s submission and apply the usual deterrents…

The Knowledge Scam

Love this article by Ian Angell which echoes my feeling about so-called Knowledge Management. Here is my favourite snip.
“Many of the developers of so-called ‘intelligent systems’ have not yet grasped this reality. They see themselves at the forefront of the new technology that is spawning ‘Cyberspace,’ and yet they are drenched in the mind-set and ritual of the defunct machine age. Theirs is an arrogance that persists in spreading the malignant lie, that knowledge and intelligence can be disembodied, discerned through the application of logic and mathematical models, and finally automated. Bunkum! This is just the latest in a long line of nonsense, of ‘knowledge engineering,’ ‘data mining’ and ‘inference engines,’ that has been inflicted on a world made gullible through ritualized technology. Mega-millions of dollars have been wasted in the ‘knowledge scam,’ the futile quest to categorize common sense knowledge and basic human intelligence in this daft way. Thankfully it will soon be dumped in the garbage bin of technological history.”

Number of Predictions and Conferences about them vs Uptake

There are some technologies which people would LIKE to happen, but will never actually happen. Here are some typical tell-tale over-optimistic phrases.

  • people having conferences about a technology which hasn’t actually happened yet
  • Eventually, cloud computing will
  • Looking into the future
  • Constant sense that success is just around the corner
  • Semantic Web
  • Web Services
  • Ambient Intelligence
  • The Internet of Things
  • Grid Computing
  • Service Oriented Architecture
  • Federated Identity
  • IPV6
  • eBook readers
  • Speech recognition
  • Portable social networks
  • SaaS

What did happen

  • The web and web 2.0
  • Social Networking

Bye bye George W. Bush

A couple of nice articles about the outgoing president:


Here are my favourite quotes:
“The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the – the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice.”
Washington DC, 27 October, 2003
“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”
Townsend, Tennessee, 21 February, 2001
“It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”
Reuters, 5 May, 2000