Daylight saving time starts this weekend — useless as ever!

Daylight saving time begins this weekend. From coast to coast, most Americans will dutifully “spring forward” by one hour early Sunday morning. We’re told this helps save energy and allows us to enjoy more sunshine during the summer months.

But a number of critics say this is all a big fat waste of time. Daylight saving time does nothing but create chaos and confusion, they say, and might actually waste more energy than it tries to save. It should be abandoned immediately, they contend.

So who’s right?

“Who knows,” said John Lowe, the nation’s timekeeper. “It can be very controversial.”

If you’re truly concerned, Lowe’s answer is a bureaucratic copout.

Lowe heads the time and frequency services group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency responsible for, among other things, maintaining the official time in the United States…

Many places in the world don’t bother shifting the clocks. The United States began observing daylight saving time during World War I, seeing it as a way to preserve energy. (More light in the evening means less electricity used.) An added benefit is that the change allowed many Americans to enjoy more sunshine during the warmer months.

No one in our government has updated the study in almost 60 years.

Critics, including those behind the online petition at End Daylight Saving Time, say the time shifting causes more problems than it’s worth by making it exceedingly difficult for businesses to coordinate timetables with markets in Asia and Africa and Europe.

“If we are saving energy let’s go year round with daylight saving time. If we are not saving energy let’s drop daylight saving time!” challenges the site, which urges people to contact their elected leaders to put an end to the nonsense.

I’d suggest thinking about how useless – or useful – the time change is to your own life. If you agree with me and the folks at End Daylight Saving Time click the link and sign on to the petition.

Don’t agree? Do nothing – like our government – and nothing will change.

Facebook ‘friend’ turns out to be hubby’s other wife

A corrections officer is facing bigamy charges after authorities said a Washington woman using Facebook discovered that she and a potential “friend” were married to him at the same time.

According to charging documents filed Thursday, Alan L. O’Neill married a woman in 2001, moved out in 2009, changed his name and remarried without divorcing her. The first wife first noticed O’Neill had moved on to another woman when Facebook suggested the friendship connection to wife No. 2 under the “People You May Know” feature.

“Wife No. 1 went to wife No. 2’s page and saw a picture of her and her husband with a wedding cake,” Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told The Associated Press.

Wife No. 1 then called the defendant’s mother.

“An hour later the defendant arrived at (Wife No. 1’s) apartment, and she asked him several times if they were divorced,” court records show. “The defendant said, ’No, we are still married.’”

Neither O’Neill nor his first wife had filed for divorce, according to charging documents. The name change came in December, and later that month he married his second wife.

O’Neill allegedly told wife No. 1 not to tell anybody about his dual marriages, that he would fix it, the documents state…

Facebook is now a place where people discover things about each other they end up reporting to law enforcement,” Lindquist said.

Har. What goes around, comes around. Just 100 times faster in cyberspace.

British nukes were protected by bike locks — WTF?

Newsnight has discovered that until the early days of the Blair government the RAF’s nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key. There was no other security on the Bomb itself.

While American and Russian weapons were protected by tamper-proof combination locks which could only be released if the correct code was transmitted, Britain relied on a simpler technology.

Simple being the operative word. Simpleminded.

Permissive Action Links — PALs were introduced in the 1960s in America to prevent a mad General or pilot launching a nuclear war off their own bat – the Dr Strangelove scenario…The correct code had to be transmitted by the US Chiefs of Staff and dialled into the Bomb before it could be armed otherwise it would not detonate…

Papers at the National Archive show that as early as 1966 an attempt was made to impose PAL security on British nuclear weapons…The Royal Navy argued that officers of the Royal Navy as the Senior Service could be trusted…

Neither the Navy nor the RAF installed PAL protection on their nuclear weapons…

To arm the weapons you just open a panel held by two captive screws – like a battery cover on a radio – using a thumbnail or a coin.

Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which you can turn with an Allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or groundburst and other parameters.

The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees. There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb.

I honestly think the sort of class society outlook demonstrated by phrases like “the Senior Service could be trusted” infected the whole of British society. Maybe it still does. Tory electioneering seems to have learned a bit from Clinton and Bush – how to tell more believable lies. But, when I read Conservative position statements about gutting the NHS or education – it feels as if nothing has changed.

I left the last English company I worked for because – as I stated in my letter of resignation – they had learned nothing of the level of quality control brought to the world marketplace by the Japanese and Germans. Tightening fittings by hand and relying on how it felt – versus proper measuring instruments – was still the norm in the early 80’s.

Bicycle locks were OK for bicycles. Not nuclear weapons.

Thanks, Honeyman

Civil libertarians slam McCain’s crap cybersecurity legislation


McCain’s laptop computer

A cybersecurity bill introduced by Republican Senator John McCain could dramatically expand the domestic reach of U.S. intelligence agencies and potentially give them massive troves of emails, civil liberties advocates said.

“This is a privacy nightmare that will eventually result in the military substantially monitoring the domestic, civilian Internet,” said Michelle Richardson of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Unlike the Democratic-led alternative supported by Majority Leader Harry Reid, the McCain bill stresses voluntary information sharing instead of regulation of critical industries by the Department of Homeland Security…But the types of information that could be shared are broad, and the data would go to “cybersecurity centers” that specifically include the National Security Agency’s Threat Operations Center and the U.S. Cyber Command Joint Operations Center.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said such concerns were both overblown, premature…and blah, blah, blah.

The bill says private companies such as Internet service providers could send the defense agencies evidence such as “network activity or protocols known to be associated with a malicious cyber actor or that may signify malicious intent.”

Neither “network activity” nor “malicious intent” are defined in the bill, and they could theoretically encompass ordinary emails containing legal protest speech, the ACLU’s Richardson said.

“It does appear it includes a hole through which the NSA may be able to drive a freight train,” blogged Jerry Britto, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and an adjunct law professor at the university…

As troubling to civil libertarians as the scope of the data are the destination agencies and the lack of recourse. Companies that tip off federal officials would be protected from lawsuits and criminal charges over what they pass along.

Flunkies in Congress filling their wallets with love money from the RIAA and MPAA are dangerous enough to the future of the Internet. Turn a paranoid fear-monger like McCain loose on the topic and you can be guaranteed Homeland Insecurity becomes an additional focus of our government spying on citizens. With the loonies doing the defining of what is dangerous thought.

Why the new iPad isn’t called iPad 3

One of the big mysteries ahead of Wednesday’s Apple event was a simple question: What is the new iPad going to be called? The tech press had long settled on iPad 3, but some outlets had recently reported that the product name would actually be iPad HD, in reference to the new high-resolution Retina display.

Apparently, Apple wasn’t having any of that. More than an hour into the show, Apple CEO Tim Cook finally revealed that the new iPad is called just that: the new iPad.

It seems like an odd choice at first sight, especially in light of the fact that Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 for $399. However, the new name signals something much more profound than just a new product generation.

Apple is acknowledging that we have arrived in a post-PC world, where iPads aren’t just niche products for gadget lovers with an eye for specs and revision numbers. Instead, they’re among the best-selling computing devices, something that everyone uses to explore the Internet, do commerce and consume media…

Part of this post-PC reality is a new normalcy. Consumers don’t have to be sold on getting a new iOS device anymore; they’re on everyone’s short list when contemplating a new purchase. And that’s especially true in the tablet market, where Apple sells more devices than all of its competitors combined. So it’s time for the company to treat its post-PC products the same way it’s been treating its PC product segments for some time: as devices you’re going to buy and frequently replace over several product generations, no matter the specs.

Apple has long been doing this in the PC space, where its products are simply called MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac mini. Sure, the most dedicated Apple followers will always know which generation of the MacBook Pro has which CPU, and which ports are present on which laptop iteration. But for the rest of us, these differences don’t matter all that much. We buy the latest generation, trusting Apple that the hardware will live up to our expectations. We expect the MacBook Air to be the best in portable computing and the MacBook Pro to be powerful – and we don’t need complicated revision numbers to keep track of all the changes over the years.

In a way, not going for names like iPad 3 or iPad HD shows that the iPad has grown up: it’s a device that’s here to stay and shape the post-PC world for years to come. It’s the new iPad, made for a new world.

I think Janko got it exactly right. I sat in on meetings that struggled with questions like this way too many times.

I especially recall a successful name that made sense and sounded great, too – in the much smaller business world I once inhabited. When Dawes Cycles became part of the M.Y.Sports group – and planned serious entry into the US market – our best hit in a lightweight sports bike ended up being called the Atlantis. Sorted at a board meeting in Birmingham. It brought together two prime markets in the US and UK.

I hardly ever admitted that I offered the name after listening to Donovan’s song – “Atlantis” – on the radio that morning.

Paedophile who abducted girls 30 years ago caught by DNA

A paedophile who abducted four young girls from the street in the 1980s and 1990s and sexually abused them has appeared in court after cold-case detectives linked his DNA to the crimes.

David Bryant, a 65-year-old grandfather from Ulverston, Cumbria, was due to be sentenced at Newcastle crown court on Friday but the case was adjourned until next week.

The court heard that Bryant carried out separate attacks on young girls in Hampshire and Tyneside. He has admitted four counts of kidnap and four of sexual assault.

Mark Giuliani, for the prosecution, told the court: “A familiar feature of this offending is how the defendant targeted young girls out playing near their homes…

The prosecution told the court that Bryant was convicted of three sex offences against women between 1975 and 1984.

How many more cases could be solved if politicians felt like spending the money on computational analysis to link evidence already on file — instead of the crap that governments assign higher priority. Like wars, standing armies sufficient to “show the flag”, the war on drugs, subsidies to keep the prices of commodities higher than need be.