the daily column



I remember as a kid thinking 2000 was far away, and then a little older thinking by 2010 I would have this, or that, or the other thing over there. 10 years seems like a stupendously long time when it is as long as you’ve lived, or more than half your age.

If you asked me what I’d actually done in a whole 12 months, I think about the only thing I could say without qualification was that I changed jobs. It really has disappeared in a blink – I started off the year thinking I was on the verge of buying a house. I had a decent paying job, I had a loan pre-approved, and I was hunting houses. I even went to an auction or two, and even put my hand up for bidding… and was promptly blown away, my budget puny in the face of the realities of the house market.

A setback like that wouldn’t normally have broken my stride, but affected I was, and a coincidental slump in the tenor of my workplace meant I lost focus, pure and simple. Months dragged past, and I can hardly tell you what it is that I did from February through to June.

Finally, somewhere around mid-June, I got a mental kick in the pants. It was now June 2010. By all that was holy, I was in the middle of the future. And here I was, doing… what? Nothing of interest.

So I set off on a job hunt, to try to shake that feeling. And here I am, the other side, having moved jobs… and feeling curiously unsatisfied with 2010.

I hate doing a year-in-review for precisely that reason. Some years you can point to and go “wow, what a year huh?”, and others you point to and think, “umm… I’m sure there was something more…”

I think for the first time in years I have finally felt comfortable and settled – that my life is in my hands, reasonably predictable, and without any major upheavals on the horizon.

And I don’t know if that pleases me or terrifies me.


Scott Adams on Sweden

Scott Adams, on Sweden and the technicality that they’re attempting to hook Julian Assange on:

I am always amused by the strange impact of unintended consequences. Julian Assange simply wanted to release some embarrassing information, have hot sex with a Swedish babe then have hot sex with an acquaintance of that same babe one day later. That’s just one example of why the Swedish language has 400 words that all mean “and your cute friend is next.”

To be fair, I don’t know if Assange’s alleged broken condom is because the product was defective. We have good evidence that Assange has the world’s biggest set of nuts, so assuming some degree of proportionality, he’d put a strain on any brand of condom that didn’t have rebar ribs.

I was going to write something on Wikileaks, and I may yet given the drip-feed of information that is coming out daily, but Adams just puts it so damn well. The man is brilliant and wonderfully insightful.

The one thing I know for sure is that I’m a fan of the hackers who are dispensing vigilante justice. Here’s another unintended consequence: The hackers could end up organizing over this issue and ultimately forming a shadow government of their own, if they haven’t already.  I welcome my hacker overlords.

Subscribe to the Dilbert blog already!



How Stuxnet inflitrated and frustrated Iran’s nuclear program:

At Natanz, for almost 17 months, Stuxnet quietly worked its way into the system and targeted a specific component — the frequency converters made by the German equipment manufacturer Siemens that regulated the speed of the spinning centrifuges used to create nuclear fuel. The worm then took control of the speed at which the centrifuges spun, making them turn so fast in a quick burst that they would be damaged but not destroyed. And at the same time, the worm masked that change in speed from being discovered at the centrifuges’ control panel.

At Bushehr, meanwhile, a second secret set of codes, which Langner called “digital warheads,” targeted the Russian-built power plant’s massive steam turbine.

Here’s how it worked.

Possibly the first instance of computer-based state-sponsored espionage that has been caught and exposed. But seriously, who the hell runs Windows to control a nuclear facility, for civillian use or otherwise?!