No one fixes anything anymore

11 Jul

I had an experience last week, which reminded me why i am involved in software.

You see, i did electronics and computers in college and thank god the ‘and’ was part of the course, because through doing electronics gave me a good appreciation for computers, specifically software.

The future, forty years ago…


You see, remember reading on the back of the bus to college one day of how they managed to heat treat glass to act as a resister and i remember thinking, there is only two jobs in electronics

1, Designing the components, i would never be that smart, i knew no one that is, one of my substitute teachers had a doctorate in electronics, so i knew that was out of the question, what was the point in getting a doctorate and the ‘best case scenario’ was substitute teaching? 

And, job number…

2, Replacing the parts, they are cheaper to replace that fix, you dont have to be that smart at all, the less the better in fact

There and then, on the back of a bus in Ireland, i remember thinking it’s got to be software and that was the start of the software journey and it’s not over yet.

Here it comes…..


You see, last week i had a problem with my Mac Book, not just any problem, i had the spinning beach ball (See above), if your a Mac user this is akin the grim reaper hovering over your precious device, remember the temptation in the garden of Eden? And you know when your back is turned an apple is going to be damaged beyond repair. People will point fingers, i just wanted the issue resolved and fast!

Try as you may, there is not much you can do.

Do not touch


The spinning beach ball means, your computer is having difficulty reading from the hard drive, deep breathing is required, and lots of it.

So, what did i do? After the 30th system scan and trying to resolve it myself, I brought it to the Mac expert’s where i am currently living.

The first place i brought it to, said they would reformat it, that would fix it, and that would have been ok, except i have a lot of stuff i want to keep, not that i’m much of a hoarder, but stuff i have i didn’t get easily, so i’m not going to format anything, not if i can avoid it.

I’m thinking the Mac technician was probably a five year old, ready to hit format, no thank you, i want to fix the problem, fix people, fix!

That ‘format’ solution didn’t sound right, so i brought it to another place, and explained the issue again.

I said no, to the format solution again…


We booted the computer up, it worked a bit, so i took it back, to cut a long story short, eventually ended up getting all the data off myself, it took a long time, but i got it. I could breathe easier again.

Through the services of Australia Post, i posted it back to the great people i bought it off in Sydney and here’s the thing, the Mac it works fine right now, and why? It’s in Sydney, i’m in Hobart and i’m thinking maybe the Mac was a bit homesick, maybe it was a bit cold?

Now that i think about it, the Mac worked fine in Sydney, memory works by location, you retain memories stories, and god know Sydney has enough of them. Maybe Sydney is a memory palace of sorts, for my Mac?


Maybe i should get the Mac a wooly jumper in Hobart? What do you think?

Part of me likes to think a guy like this delivered my laptop in Sydney (cat and all!)


The (real) Mac technician i talked to was having a great time downloading movies on it, he couldn’t find any problem and now i’m thinking time does heal all wounds, maybe my laptop is really a person and homesick? I was a bit homesick myself, it’s only natural, Hobart is a big change from Sydney!

And reminded me of when i called roadside assistance years ago, my car just wouldn’t start, a half an hour later with a qualified mechanic turning the key, it started first time.

Who knows, mechanical, electrical? I’m glad i’m not involved in that business, i’m a software tester.

Maybe it was a software issue, and now it’s not reproducible, one of life’s little mysteries, i’ll log it as a defect, and categorise it as something to watch.


Big data is becoming bigger than Texas!!

18 Jun

I’ve been meaning to write this one for quite some time and maybe by writing about it, i can forget about it.

Let me explain, i was going to write about ‘Big data’ after hearing about it through Craig Rispin’s mentoring group.

In case your not familiar with this term, ‘Big data‘ is all about making sense of data sets so large that before could not be processed with previous technology. And now, not only that, this data can be visualized, its quite amazing stuff, some examples would be.

In America, Target know when women are pregnant before they do, one guy rang Target to tell them his daughter was only sixteen, turns out she was pregnant. Target have a stragety of getting pregnant women into their store three times before they have the baby, so they like to get a jump start on things.

Someone is pregnant in there, can you see it?


But dont believe me, check out David Mc Candless, you might like to check out his ‘The meaning of colours in cultures’ or ‘The consensus of the 10 top top 100 book charts’

Check out the full list here

Big data

Law firms are now mining big data to understand aspects of law they could before never imagined, mining without getting your fingers dirty, nice!

Not the kind of mining i’m on about


James Surowiecki wrote a book about ‘The wisdom of crowds’,

The opening anecdote relates Francis Galton‘s surprise that the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged (the average was closer to the ox’s true butchered weight than the estimates of most crowd members, and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts

If you can measure the crowd, your on to something.

In England, they can track crowds from helicopters to understand what people are doing, where to put services and how better to serve the tax payer, big brother is watching and he’s watching what you ‘Like’ on Face book too, but thats another story…



This is beautiful people, one of the the application for this in medicine

Just think, there are:

  • 19, 599 genes in your body (mine too)
  • Genes make up your gnome
  • Proteins in your body make up your proteome (which is called ‘proteomics’)
  • 200,000 types of RNA are produced in your body
  • Each RNA strand encodes 200,000 proteins

Genes in themselves dont make us who we are, instead they produce proteins, that are dispatched in the body to the genetic will

Its a geometric expansion that gives you 40 billion proteins, and this is why you need big data, there are hundreds of different varieties of proteins in a different cell.

Mapping the gnome consumed terabytes, proteomics will easily reach petabytes (ouch, that a lot of bytes, more than a mosquito in your tent on a summers night!!)

This of this, for hundreds of years, the progress of medicine was restrained by the lack of information. Today, we have so much data, not enough information, the amount of data at the molecular level is beyond the analytical capabilities, and now this data can be turned into knowledge.

And it continues, Epigenetics is the mechanism which the environment alters the behaviour of our genes, it involves a process known as methylation, which occurs when a chemical known as ‘Methyl’ which floats around inside of our cellsattaces to our DNA.

When it does, it turns down the activity of a gene and blocks it from making a particular version of protein in our genes.

All sorts of things can affect DNA methylation in our bodies, such as:

  • Diet
  • Illness
  • Aging
  • Chemicals in the environment
  • Smoking
  • Drugs and medicines

Big data can make sense of it all!!!

And this morning i read how the police are able to use SAP big data analysis of mobile phone tower information in conjunction with reported crimes and come up a list of one or two possible suspects, you wouldn’t need a police force, just one guy to go out and arrest the gulty guy as soon as he did something!

Oh, the savings to the tax payers!


There is no point running criminals, just give up!


The Australian Tax office was using this technology years ago to prove cases of fraud without any proof

And maybe i can forget all about Big data, but i’d seriously doubt it…


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