Category: Social

Seeed, 4PX, and Yodel – Really Quite Good

So Seeed finally dispatched my Sipeed Longan Nano, a little RISC-V SoC that was too interesting to resist. I say finally not because they were tardy, but because it was on back order. I had to write a few words about the delivery, because while I’ve always been impressed by Chinese suppliers, the ability to track with the level of detail shown below, from Shenzhen to just south of Edinburgh, is particularly impressive.

Here’s the tracking from Shenzhen, China to Livingson, Scotland

Aftership reporting on 4PX transit.

So when it was marked as out for delivery with my local courier, I wondered if the experience was going to fall apart – services here can be ‘variable’, but in this case it was a continuation of efficiency and accurate, meaningful information.

Yodel’s great tracking interface.

And it arrived almost exactly mid-point in the delivery window. It also looks like Yodel are giving realistic workloads to their drivers, which can’t be said for all couriers who deliver here.

However, this is just one particularly smooth long-haul delivery. Last mile is always the hardest part, and spanners can appear at a moments notice and make their way into the works. In Yodel’s case, it looks like they planned an hour margin either side of target, which covers pretty much any traffic eventuality around here other than a major incident, but the most valuable part isn’t the delivery time itself, rather it’s the visibility of progress. I don’t care if it’s late if I know it’s going to be late.

Anyway, well done all round.

Something’s wrong with the Internet

Looking for a present for a four-turning-five year old who loves numbers, I figured I’d find some ideas around number cubes. Let’s see what maths cube toys I can find…

Where them cubes gone?

None in the top hits were even cube related, even those with ‘cube’ in the title did not actually refer to anything remotely cuboid in shape, nor characteristics. The irony of these search results tempers my frustration with at least a little humour. The rest of the results were no better.

I thought that Google images would give me a broader view that might help me spot something interesting.

Spot the cube.

No maths related cubes here – there are cubes that look fun, but just cubes, and there are maths toys that look at least interesting, but not really what I was looking for.

Yet I know there are businesses that seek out and carefully choose toys that are genuinely interesting and innovative. I’ve seen them in the past, I’m certain that there are lots more – why are my search results dominated by Amazon and eBay sellers peddling pretty much exactly the same stuff?

To be fair, I managed to find one site among the results that’s worth a browse, and the second time I did an image search, the results also included a power-of-two cube that looked interesting. But wow – talk about drowned out by the noise!

This isn’t a ‘things were better in the good old days’ sort of a rant. It’s a clear statement – discovery of sites on the World Wide Web used to be a lot better than it appears to be today.

I Closed my LinkedIn Account

Admittedly, it had been unused for quite a long time but, regardless, my LinkedIn profile had a few historical recommendations from people I actually knew and respected, so I hesitated before closing it.

The main reason I had for closing my LinkedIn account is to protest in some small way against the lawsuit that LinkedIn are pursuing against hiQ for scraping (automatically fetching and processing) public profiles of members.

I don’t know or care anything much about hiQ or their scraping antics, but LinkedIn pushing to criminalise accessing of public profiles, via a web server bound to a public TCP port, on a publicly visible computer is a dangerous step in the wrong direction.

The argument LinkedIn are trying to make is that they wrote to hiQ saying “You are not authorised to access our web site”, and now claim that subsequent access to their site constitutes criminal ‘hacking’ (e.g. breaking into a computer system to obtain private data).

That’s nonsense, to suit their commercial objectives. The fact that they effectively scraped my address book when I signed up was not unnoticed. They very likely scrape the sites that their millions of members link to in their profiles, posts, and messages. It’s hard to believe that their company grew without analysis of data legally harvested from public web sites.

The consequences of LinkedIn getting their way would be damaging to the Internet (we’d never have had search engines, with such a restricted Internet). There are plenty of technical measures they can take to address their concerns, without trying to foist laws on us all to address their particular commercial concerns.

Increasingly, ‘social’ media companies are becoming, in my opinion, blatantly anti-social. So much so that here we have two companies who have built their business model around surreptitiously tracking and analysing personal data (that in all likelihood was not given for those purposes) having a very public spat that could impact on the original intentions of the web, and on the principles that got us here in the first place.