Happy hallowe’en | 万圣节

Hallowe’en was a special time for me growing up. Alongside St Patrick’s day it made me feel connected with with my wider family in Ireland. We would have a barm brack sent to us by my Granny. This is kind of like a giant tea cake but richer or less stodgy than say Soreen. It is available most of the year around as a dessert after your evening meal with butter spread on top.

For Hallowe’en barm bracks there is usually a cheap gold-coloured metal ring wrapped in grease-proof paper in the centre of the brack and there was usually a bit of excitement if you found it in your slice. RTE Radio 1 usually had scary Irish folk tales on with sound effects. Their effect was amplified by the eerie quality that mild interference on the medium wave signal would give.

Hallowe’en now means scouring London for a barm brack and some Barry’s tea to wash it down with. I usually call my parents to find out what they are doing for the festival and listen to a bit of the radio online. I usually settle down and watch The Crow on DVD and Gremlins as my nod to the modern interpretation of the festival.

I found this infographic that highlights some of the numbers around the US celebration of Hallowe’en.
Infographics: Halloween by the Numbers
Courtesy of: CreditDonkey

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Future Perfect » The Touchmedia Tax – fascinating myth of the ‘captive audience’

The facial recognition revolution – CNN.com Blogs

Five-Year Plan launches China textiles on new course – move to South East Asia and less developed parts of China coupled with increasing automation

Panasonic expected to post Y300 bil loss ‹ Japan Today – a drop in demand for TVs after move to digital in Japan. Stagnant sales in US and European markets and ongoing losses in their semiconductor businesses. Sounds like their convergence strategy isn’t working out that well for Panasonic?

The Big Challenge | SCMP.com – the growing risks posed by mega-cities, which are increasingly vulnerable to food, water and health hazards, as well as climate change (pay wall)

The Awkward, Unanswered Questions That Led to Coldplay’s Spotify Embargo | paidContent:UK

Yandex Profit Booms But Google Is Regaining Lost Ground In Russian Search | paidContent:UK

I, Cringely » Apple gets Siri-ous about TV

In The UK, Inciting Riots On Facebook Will Land You Three Years In Jail | WebProNews

Apple Acquires Another Mapping Company: C3 Technologies | SiliconANGLE

Survey: Professionals Not Replacing Print With Digital? – B2B @ FolioMag.com

Quantum keys let submarines talk securely – tech – 29 October 2011 – New Scientist – quantum key distribution (QKD) uses the quantum properties of photons, which are polarised in two different ways to encode 0s and 1s, to generate and exchange a key. Any attempt to intercept the photons disturbs these properties and raises the alarm

WeirdStuff – Resellers of surplus computer hardware and software. Their warehouse in Sunnyvale is world-famous

Tokyo Tracks 011 / あけぼの印 – 夜ノ街ヲ駈ケル | Test Pressing – really interesting article on the post war Japanese architecture movement of metabolism

What Kind of Buddhist was Steve Jobs, Really? | NeuroTribes

Firefox is the cloud’s biggest enemy | ExtremeTech – the centralised cloud reminds me of Microsoft versus the world in the 1990s

Looks like Congress has declared war on the internet — Tech News and Analysis

Hell freezes over: Forrester urges IT to support the Mac – Fortune Tech – I remember Arthur D Little finding out the same productivity gains in the early 1990s

Apple number five among global phone vendors | MacNews

Can Small Businesses Make America Prosperous? : The New Yorker – are small businesses good businesses?

Internet publishers liable for privacy invasion in each country material is accessible, ECJ rules – clarity on legal jurisdiction

Details of all internet traffic should be logged, MEP says

Real-world McGyver

YouTube user SpiritPlumber put up a video showing how to make an impromptu cellphone charger from off-the-shelf components available in a Radio Shack (think Maplins in the UK). The impressive thing is that these were not bench assembled, but built on-the-fly in the electronics store a la the US  fictional TV show McGyver of the 1980s.

More details including the charger schematic here. Radio Shack should give these people a role doing social media for them. They shouldn’t be scared of a sudden maker streak cannibalising their existing accessory sales because consumers will still by convenience and time poverty. But the idea of being self reliant is what fills the garages of suburbia with components and tools – which will be the wider effect of the ‘maker’ meme.

European protests against ACTA gain a bit of steam

La Quadrature du Net have dialled up their protest against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) in advance of the European Union bringing it into law. A report by the European Parliament has pointed out that ACTA is bad for EU countries. Or as La Quadrature du Net put it:

ACTA is an agreement secretly negotiated by a small “club” of like-minded countries (39 countries, including the 27 of the European Union, the United States, Japan, etc). Negotiated instead of being democratically debated, ACTA bypasses parliaments and international organizations to dictate a repressive logic dictated by the entertainment industries.

The big question is can the European Union hold out against the media industry lobbyists who are pushing for this on behalf of mostly US-owned major film studios and record labels? It has implications for the digital economy and the ability for foreign internet properties in countries like China to connect with European consumers – posing potential free trade issues.

Interesting video of a manufacturing process

Nokia (NOKA.NX) released an interesting short film of the manufacturing process for its Nokia N9 handsets.

You can watch it on Tudou here.

A number of aspects of the film fascinated me:

  • The amount of work that was done by CNC machines (the drill-type machines) rather than mouldings to create the polycarbonate body of the phone. It more noticeable given that the phone body is polycarbonate rather than metal and implied that Nokia didn’t want to invest much in tooling – hedging against commercial failure in the marketplace?
  • The line layout looked modular, implying that flexibility was more important than efficiency – again implying that there probably isn’t a blockbuster product expected?
  • The work was being done in western Europe, which would have been relatively expensive unskilled manual labour. Components came pre-assembled so a lot of high-value work was happening elsewhere and the factory shown just screwed things together. I expected the Nokia factory to have lots of automated soldering machines and ‘pick and place’ robots with the end screwdriver assembly happening somewhere cheaper. Pulling the parts together like this implies that Nokia is relying on a lot of off-the-shelf bits in its devices rather than taking advantage of scale like Apple does. There is possibly a distrust of foreign partners who would see the complete phone and use that knowledge to crank out shanzhai versions?