Since quite a few people have been asking me what I’d like for Christmas, and I keep forgetting things I want to buy, I’ve written up a wishlist. I don’t expect anyone to buy me the expensive stuff, but it will remind me that I actually want those things!

My government knows far too much about me

A particular story made me very angry on the news today, and particularly what a certain person brought in to be interviewed said. It was about the NHS using data mining to map out areas where, for example, there might be a high instance of diabetes. It is common knowledge that there are 1 million people in the UK who have diabetes but don’t know about it.

That sounds like a great idea on the surface, but it raised several questions in my mind… They use data like what supermarket you shop at, what newspaper you read, etc… Where the hell did they get that from?! Surely the Information Comissioner has something to say about the use of such databases by the NHS? And when did I permit my supermarket to sell this information about me? Never.

What angered me the most however was a person from The Mirror tabloid who was talking about everyone hating cold calls and the NHS shouldn’t do it. Now that’s all fine and dandy, why not. But what got me was her suggestion that we should keep an eye out on our neighbours: where they shop at, if they smoke or not, if they “look” ill, if they eat junk food! Pardon? My neighbours?! I’d get very angry about my neighbour if he knew that much about me.

Call me paranoid or something, but it already worries me enough that my supermarket knows that much about me. What’s starting to worry me is that the supermarkets seem to be readily selling this data onto my government, who can probably use it how they see fit. That’s rather alarming.

In other news, there is finally some evidence that keeping warm helps you prevent getting a cold: some researchers took candidates and dipped some of their feet in cold water, and kept others’ dry. 33% of the ones who put their feet in cold water got a cold, but only 9% of those who kept warm. Why? Apparently it’s because when you’re cold, blood gets redirected from your nose into your cold bits to warm them up. Your nose is your primary defence against the common cold virus. Intriquing! Mothers ‘were right’ about colds (BBC)

Huddersfield Student Voice

If you’re a student of the University of Huddersfield, or considering applying there (or have done so), or used to study there some time ago, you might be interested in a new web site Andy, Dan, and myself (see right) are setting up.

Huddersfield Student Voice aims to fill a gap that the University and Students’ Union have in their sites: a fun and safe online community for students to talk to one another and express their views and opinions about the University, Huddersfield as a whole, or anything else for that matter!

Huddersfield Student Voice

Sony does it again!

Sony, not content enough alienating customers of its music business by installing rootkits under the excuse of Digital Rights Management, has done it again. This time it’s their games business, though!

A recent patent filed by Sony describes a technology which would tie a video game (or potentially any other digital media) to the first device it was played in, thus making impossible the sale of second hand games which, if you think about it the way they do, equates to lost revenue. I don’t know about you, but we’ve got a lot of second hand games we would have never bought new, ever, so surely it gives them more exposure that way?

Anyway, imagine this scenario: someone steals your brand new PS3 console. Or it breaks. You just got paid so you go out and buy a new PS3 to replace it, but all of a sudden your games refuse to play! How did that happen? Hmm.

I think Sony have lost yet another potential customer. But that probably doesn’t matter, they’ll probably find a way of bringing the law down on people who refuse to buy their stuff.

Update: I’ve just heard of yet another piece of malicious DRM Sony uses on its CDs…