Drug companies should not be responsible for research

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 pm by blog

Does anyone else see the problems with for-profit drug companies doing all the research into new medications?
For one, when a drug company develops a drug, they will patent it, giving them an artificial monopoly on that drug. They can then keep prices artificially high, because there’s no competing companies offering the same drugs. If you cant afford that price (and many people in poor countries cannot) your screwed.

But how about the hypocrisy of it all? Imagine for a minute that you run a for-profit drugs company… Will you:
a, develop a cure for AIDS, that sufferers will take for a brief time before being cured.
b, develop combination-therapy that, with continued use, will keep sufferers alive but infected with HIV for many years

For-profit companies will take the latter. Why? It’s obvious, why sell a quick effective cure when you can keep selling people a whole cocktail of drugs for many years? It’s in the drug companies interest to offer a less effective treatment that the sufferer will need to keep taking.

So what *should* be done?

1, Abolish patents on medications, and publish medication details in the public domain, use capitalism for what its good for, pushing down prices with competition as drugs companies are forced to produce the same drugs cheaper in order to compete.
2, Have all medical research be done by charities, or non profit organisations like the UN, with all the research openly published and collaborated, so as to avoid multiple organisations repeating the same work.


Phishing scams, why not use PGP?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:39 am by blog

Most people with an email account nowadays, will get floods of email claiming to be from various banks, ebay, paypal etc. Usually it’s trying to get you to log in to confirm something, while providing a link to a malicious site.
Now, why dont these companies sign their outbound mails using PGP? That way, we can all verify the signature using their public key, and if it’s wrong we disregard the mail. Spam filters could do the same, so the fake mails never hit people’s inbox.


Amiga – Synonymous with gross mismanagement and incompetent marketting

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:46 pm by blog

So the Amiga was a great platform, technologically superior to anything anywhere close to it’s price range. Unfortunately, Commodore managed to screw it all up and go bust.

Nowadays, the Amiga OS is owned by a company called “Amiga International” who have contracted out development of the OS to another company called “Hyperion”. Now, AmigaOS version 4 is now available, and it promises to be a great OS.

However, in true Amiga style, the companies involved are screwing everything up.

Firstly, AmigaOS only runs on PowerPC. Now this in itself is not a bad thing, all the major games consoles run PowerPC chips, and used macs are plentiful and cheap on ebay, and AmigaOS itself is lightweight enough to run at a usable speed on an older mac that wouldn’t be capable of running the latest MacOS.

Only, the companies behind AmigaOS have placed artificial restrictions in place. You can’t just install AmigaOS on any old PowerPC hardware, you have to buy custom built PowerPC hardware with proprietary firmware. Only, there is no such hardware currently on the market! Apparently some such hardware has recently been announced. There are no formal specs, nor are there any firm prices. In short, this hardware is vapourware and may never actually be sold.

These ridiculous restrictions are supposedly to stop piracy. But all it will really do, is ensure that AmigaOS never gains any new users. Only the few remaining die-hard Amiga users will buy custom hardware in order to try AmigaOS 4. People who might otherwise have tried it out on a spare mac, or under an emulator like PearPC simply won’t bother.

As for piracy, a small platform _NEEDS_ piracy. The original Amiga achieved much of it’s success because of how easy it was to pirate the games. Microsoft achieved their current market position largely through pirate installs hugely increasing their market share. Just think where Microsoft would be in countries like China or Russia where virtually all software is pirated. Very few people in these countries would buy windows if they couldn’t pirate it. They would be using one of the freely available alternatives like Linux or FreeBSD, or have developed their own local software.

With more users, whether those users have paid for, or pirated the OS, comes greater interest. A percentage of these users will develop additional software for the OS, and advocate or demonstrate the OS to their friends. Conversely, if the only people using AmigaOS 4 are the die hard Amiga users who have been advocating Amiga for years, what good will it do?

Many people would want to try out AmigaOS on hardware they already have, or can obtain cheaply. But very few people will be willing to buy a complete hardware/software package for an unproven OS that’s tied to overpriced outdated proprietary hardware, with few applications, and a small user base on blind faith alone (ie, having never used the OS themselves at a friends place etc).


Microsoft’s Contribution To Global Warming

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:42 pm by blog

So in these days, everyone is jumping on the global warming bandwagon… Companies are producing more efficient cars, governments are trying to force people to emit less carbon through taxes, processor makers are moving towards more efficient less power hungry designs.

Microsoft however, have just brought out a new, more inefficient, more power hungry OS. Multiplied by all the millions of machines that will be running it, how much power is going to be wasted?

People are very big on managed/interpreted code nowadays, and very few people code hand optimized assembler any more… Multiplied among all the millions of computers running the world over, how much power is being wasted, and how much CO2 is being emitted by running sub optimal code?


Poorly Targetted Ads

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:26 pm by blog

Just now i was presented with the following ad:http://www.ev4.org/img/lamead2.png (WARNING: BIG)It seemed able to work out that i was using a mac, but then tried to sell me windows software… Isn’t it a bit pointless to market your product to someone you’ve already established won’t want it?


Cold Call Annoyances

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:47 pm by blog

I get a lot of calls from companies wanting to sell me something, or offering their services… And here are a few of my biggest gripes:

Calling from witheld number – If you call from a witheld number, i won’t answer your call. I want to be able to recognise who is calling so I can decide if I want to answer it or not. If you don’t hide your number, you increase the chance of the call being answered and/or called back. So, why hide your number unless you have something to hide?

Leaving voicemail… If your leaving a voicemail, think first.

Voicemails like “Hi this is Joe from BlahCO”. Great, now what the hell is BlahCO? Unless your calling from a huge organisation that everyone will immediately recognise, or a company with whom i’m already doing business, you really must qualify what your organisation is. Otherwise, how am I to know? It’s incredibly arrogant to assume i will have already heard of your company.

Asking me to call you back on an 0845/0870/09 number. – This is a NO NO. I will not under any circumstances call you back on an 0845/0870 kickback number. Why should you make money from me calling you? Give me a regular 01/02 number, or a freephone 0800.

Giving vague information on voicemail “Hi this is Joe from BlahCO, i have an opportunity you might be interested in could you call me back”. An opportunity for what? Your not gonna give me any information? Why should i call you back only to find out that it’s of absoloutely no interest to me whatsoever? Even worse if you expect me to call a kickback number, and actually pay you for the privilege of hearing that you have nothing to interest me at all. If you want me to call you back, give some useful information as to why.

Only giving a phone number – I might not want to speak to you on the phone. I sometimes work weird hours, so i’m not available during your working hours. I also want to decide if and when i talk to you. I prefer time to consider things, not be put on the spot on the phone. Leaving me an email address through which i can communicate with you is much easier for me, and far more likely to get you a response.


Patents, and Microsoft FUD

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:48 pm by blog

I was reading a story on the Microsoft/Novell deal, where microsoft were stating that linux violates several patents, and threatening anyone using a distribution other than novell’s.

So far, they have not shown any of the patents linux is supposed to violate, nor have they showed parts of linux code which they believe to violate patents. Now, why is this? If microsoft were concerned with protecting their patents, would they not disclose them and have the matters addressed?

More likely, they have no real claim and are merely trying to scare people out of running linux, because after all scaring people away from the competition is cheaper than making your product better.

More interesting however, is that microsoft products do definitely violate patents. This is not just FUD, they have been found to be violating patents in court, for instance the recent Eolas case.

However, most countries simply don’t need to worry about software patents, as software patents are only valid in a small number of countries anyway.

So in short:

Linux might violate patents, microsoft claims but has shown no proof.

Windows does violate patents, proven in court.


keziefoods.co.uk are cheeky bastards

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:20 am by blog

I was trying to buy some exotic meat, and i came across a company called Kezie Foods that appeared to offer what i was looking for. I filled out their online shopping cart with what i wanted, and proceeded to the checkout. This checkout required me to register, which is fair enough, so i went to the registration page:
I filled out the details, and noticed the subscribe to newsletters option at the bottom of the form. I intentionally left it unchecked, as i didn’t want to receive extra junk mail.
When i clicked submit, a piece of javascript kicked in and automatically checked the newsletters box! Seriously, go try it for yourself…
So, i immediately cancelled my order and sent them a mail demanding they remove my details from their system ASAP and explaining why. To this i received no response, until several weeks later, i received a copy of the newsletter!
Yes, the very same newsletter i explicitely did not want, and clearly demanded they remove me from the list. I have sent them another mail, which i suspect will also be ignored so i will be calling them on monday to complain.


Baggage weight restrictions on planes

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:20 pm by blog

A friend of mine was recently at an airport, trying to check on for a flight… They have a weight restriction on the amount of baggage like most airlines. Now, my friend is very small and doesn’t weigh much… Yet her bags were over the weight limit. Meanwhile a fat guy was checking in on the adjacent desk, his bags were within the weight limits but his weight alone was clearly considerably more than my friend and her bags combined.
So the question is:
If the airlines are truly so concerned about weight on the plane, why don’t they weigh the passengers as well as the baggage, and charge them accordingly? If weight is a concern, why can a 400lbs chunker with 30lbs of luggage (thats 430lbs) travel for less than a 120lbs girl with 40lbs of luggage (thats 160lbs)? Not to mention the fact that someone so fat takes up more than their fair share of space, leaving you nowhere to put your arms if your sat along side.

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