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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

I have some thoughts about the movie “Minions”. Be afraid. Be Very Afraid.

I recently re-watched the film “Minions“. And as much as I enjoyed it – some things bug me about it. In fact, it contradicts the earlier films, and not just in a small way, but in a few big ways. And that’s not the only things they get wrong:

So how do we reconcile this with the fact that the Minions movie exists? Read more

Don’t Care

Posted by Simon Collis on 2016/11/29
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Just been through the spam pile. I like to do that manually from time to time, just for fun.

“Quit your job today and earn less than you do now writing nonsense for us” – don’t care.

“Your SEO isn’t very good. Buy expensive thing from us and you will get lost of traffic” – don’t care. I’m happy with the SEO I’ve got, which is pretty much none. That’s high maintenance enough for me.

“Writing is hard, we have a thing that will do it for you – search blahblahblah’s tools” – nope. I’ll write something on here when I can be bothered. When I can’t, I won’t.

And then there’s the usual set of “asdasdasdasdasdasdf” type spams too.

Sometimes, I wonder why people bother. Does this nonsense actually sell anything?

A fly

Posted by Simon Collis on 2014/10/16
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I’ve been a bit quiet of late on this blog – for reasons that I’ll go into at a later date – but I wanted to just share a little incident that happened today.

I work from home now, which means that I have my own little office upstairs. It appears to be a room that the flies like a lot. By flies, I mean houseflies. Your standard, everyday flies. Musca domestica. Not mosquitoes, anything that bites, or anything like that. Just flies. Read more

Comments are fixed now

Posted by Simon Collis on 2014/07/30
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Such is the life of the self-hosted WordPress blogger… *sigh*

A letter to Foursquare

Posted by Simon Collis on 2014/07/23
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I’ve been a dedicated user of Foursquare for years. If you follow my Twitter, you’ll have suffered my tweets on it for long enough to know that and (presumably) not hate it enough to block me (probably).

Anyway, Foursquare recently reinvented themselves as two apps, instead of one. The new one’s called Swarm. Lots of people don’t like it.

If you read the iTunes app store page, there are lots of bad reviews. There’s also an email address, asking for feedback. Here’s what I sent them: Read more

First thoughts on iOS 7

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/09/18
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Just updated my iPhone 5 to iOS 7 and here’s my first impressions…

  1. It’s ugly.
    Very, very ugly.
  2. Cellular/mobile data support is still poor
    My wifi is limited, my mobile data isn’t. And yet you still force me to upload/download big files on my limited wifi connection, while ignoring my unlimited 3G (which also has faster uploads). Thanks for that, Apple. It’s a stupid, stupid decision. Allow me to control it or scrap the idea.
  3. It’s ugly
    Did I mention it’s hideously ugly? The folder colours are grim washed out brown, making it hard to see the icons
  4. It looks like Windows 8
    Windows 8 is ugly, too.
  5. Too many silly animations
    And no way to turn them off

I think iOS 7 is going to sell a lot of phones. Mainly Androids.

Now, how do I downgrade back to iOS 6?

Microsoft just bought Nokia phones

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/09/03
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Microsoft just annouced it’s going to buy Nokia’s handset business.

There’s some interesting things to note…

  • It’s cheaper than Skype
    About a billion dollars cheaper. Does that mean Nokia was a bargain – or Skype was a bad buy? Either way, I think there’s scope for lawsuits here – either from Microsoft shareholders against Ballmer for paying too much for Skype, or from Nokia shareholders against Elop for selling Nokia too cheaply. Worst case scenario? Both.
  • Elop will be Microsoft’s new CEO
    He has to be. I can’t imagine anyone else who wouldn’t come in and say “OK, let’s drop all the businesses that are losing money” – or worse, “let’s concentrate on everything that makes over a billion dollars a year”. That would leave the handset business high and dry. Turns out one or two people agree with me
  • No MS breakup… probably
    As Mary Jo Foley points out, Microsoft management aren’t keen on a split up. They want to be a GE style conglomerate. But the issue might not be what management want – antitrust may yet come back to haunt them. Even if the DoJ don’t say anything, you can be guaranteed the EU will be paying close attention.
  • The takeover is good news for Google, bad news for Microsoft and Nokia
    Seriously, this is the big takeaway. Nokia couldn’t make money on it despite their in-depth knowledge of the phone market going back years. But can you see any other phone builders (HTC in particular) sticking with Windows Phone when Microsoft are competing against them? If anything, this will lead to manufacturers looking to build quality Android phones that compete with the low end Lumias, rather than leaving Windows Phone to pick up that market – and let’s face it, Windows Phone is really only competitive with low-end Android handsets right now.
  • Danger
    Remember what happened the last time Microsoft took over a handset company? Yeah, the KIN. Enough said.

On the face of it, this looks like a sensible deal. But the truth is, with Ballmer set to retire, the only way this deal makes sense is it’s bringing back Stephen Elop as the new Microsoft CEO. I think otherwise, there are way too many risks for it to make sense.

I was recently having a discussion around the use of Facebook as a tool for recruiting staff. “What a good thing it is,” they said “our friend recently avoided hiring someone who was boasting about stealing cars.”

Er, no. They probably didn’t.

Ok, so half the UK population use Facebook. So given that it’s more prevalent in people of working age (under 13s aren’t even allowed to join, for a start), let’s presume that 75% of people that apply for a job at your company will have a Facebook account.

So… let’s assume this isn’t a fairly common name, then. Take my name, for example. According to howmanyofme.com there isn’t that many in the US. But in the UK? Well, start with Sir Simon – he’s the British Ambassador to Iraq at the moment. (I’m not – don’t send me email applying for diplomatic posts please, I don’t know his email address to forward them.) I also used to know another who was aiming to have every Simon Collis in the world as a Facebook friend (there’s a TV show in that idea, surely?) and he – confusingly – had over 28 friends all called… yeah, you guessed it.

So how can you be sure you’ve got the right one?

Well, you can ask them for their Facebook URL… can’t you?

Er, maybe not.

In fact, checking them out on Facebook might not be a good idea AT ALL. Even if you’ve got the right one, you could still be sued for discrimination.

You see, there’s a few questions you’re not allowed to ask before you hire someone, and those include:

  • What religion do you practice?
  • How old are you?
  • What’s your native language?
  • Do you have kids?

Go look at someone’s Facebook page and see how easy those are to find out. Oh wait – look, there they are – right on the front page.

So if ever you’re taken to court for potential discrimination, and you’ve looked at their Facebook page – you just lost.

If you’re a small business, that sort of case could be terminally damaging. You’re playing Russian Roulette with your livelihood every time you check someone’s Facebook page – providing you even find the right person. (Exercise for the reader: go find me on Facebook. Unless you’re already my Facebook friend, you’ll find the wrong person, I guarantee you.)

So what’s the lesson here?

It’s simple.

Don’t take the risk. While Facebook might seem a nice, easy way of background checking your employees, it’s a timebomb that threatens at least your career, if not your whole business. Don’t do it.

Just a few random links I’ve posted on Twitter during the month. They bear repeating though.

  • The Hero’s Journey, Puppet-Style is a good explanation of the “Hero’s Journey” plot hypothesis, and how it relates to many, many well known novels and films. Extremely well done, and slightly sweary.
  • Seth Godin pretty much nails how to think about money. I’ve been reading “how not to be an idiot about money” and such like blogs for years, but never seen a post like this. I might even print it and frame it…
  • Glenn Greenwald speaks out about Snowden, the NSA and reminds everyone that good journalism is the protector of democracy.
  • Can Apple Survive 2013? is an interesting, if slightly mistitled, article from Apple Insider. More accurately, it should be “why Android and Windows Phone’s business models are about ten years out of date”
  • The tumblog Jony Ive Redesigns Things pokes exquisitely designed fun at iOS 7’s graphical revamp. Disclaimer: I have no opinion on iOS 7 as yet, but I think any problems with iOS are more functional than aesthetic.
  • In Utrecht, people put party hats on CCTV cameras in memory of George Orwell’s birthday. So awesome.
  • I fell in love with this record when I heard it on WFMU: Wrong Treatment and Biking Girl, the only release by the Four Plugs.
  • Stray Trains by Milieu is a rather nice EP. And it’s free, too.
  • My favourite Philip Glass piece is Symphony 3, Movement 3. There’s a great live performance on YouTube, and it’s fascinating.
  • Finally, one of my own. The Jehovah’s Witnesses left a copy of the “Watchtower” pinned to the notice board, with the headline “A World Without Prejudice… When?“. Interesting to note the cover didn’t include any women…

6 things I want from iOS 7

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/27
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iOS 7 appears to be basically a graphical reboot of the familiar iPhone operating system. Ironically, I’d argue that a redesign is something it doesn’t need – especially what is apparently a marketing-led redesign, as much as anything. No, what I’d like to see are a few features that iron out some of the nasty little gremlins and inconsistencies in iOS. For example…

  1. A wifi hotspot that works properly
    Come on guys, how hard can this be? Android’s had it figured out for at least the last three or four years. Stability, easy to connect – I don’t want to have to turn it on and off three or four times to connect non-Apple devices. (Or, in the case of Apple devices, frequently have them not connect at all). And the “silently turn off because nobody’s using it while still reporting that it’s switched on”. Yeah, get rid of that too. And while we’re on the subject of wifi…
  2. Stop treating mobile data as a second class citizen
    This may be down to the biases of iOS app writers, but it doesn’t seem so. Dropbox on Android is happy to upload my 500MB video I just took over 3G, but Dropbox on iOS? “Dropbox will never upload files greater than 25MB over mobile data”. Great. So my unlimited data plan with its nice fast upload speed counts for nothing, while I have to tie up my home wifi and its paltry less-than-a-third-as-fast ADSL crawler lane? And incidentally, my home wifi has a “fair use policy” – my mobile data doesn’t. So personally, I’d rather you use mobile data IN PREFERENCE to wifi – especially if it’s on a train where I’m paying by the MB. Ouch. But that’s annoying, and I could live without it, if only I had…
  3. A way to turn off the “rubber band” effect
    Steve Jobs was enormously proud of the rubber band effect, and Apple have patented it, and used it in court against Samsung. But my word, does it ever suck. I really really really hate it. A way to turn it off would just make my day, week, month and year. Of all the things in iOS, if this were to disappear it’s the one most likely to get me dancing the Snoopy dance on the kitchen table. But OK, enough moaning about what I don’t like, how about improving something that I do like – for example…
  4. Multiple schedules for the “do not disturb” scheduler
    I stay up late at the weekends, and get up late at the weekends to. That may not be the healthiest way to live, but then I suspect this is true of a lot of people – especially those on shift work. How about the ability to put in different schedules for different days of the week? (I suppose catering for non-weekday based schedules is too much to ask, huh?) Oh, and while we’re on the subject of calendar type functions, how about…
  5. Holiday calendars for the Calendar app
    Hate to mention it, but Google calendar (and therefore Android) has had these for years. OK, I can connect to Google calendar to get these, but does everyone actually trust Google these days? And what about those people who’ve never used Gmail/calendar/etc? What do they do? And if we’re going to talk about not having to use Google services, perhaps I’d best mention the elephant in the room…
  6. Let’s not have another Maps fiasco, eh?
    Apple’s reputation was damaged quite severely with the Maps fiasco (apparently Bracknell lost its train station – although on the plus side, the branch of “Our Price” reopened, so every cloud has a silver lining, eh?). Whatever the motivation, please resist launching another system before it’s properly ready, like Siri, iCloud or, er, Maps, won’t you? You may not have noticed, but Blackberry have woken up again, and Microsoft are starting to get serious about phones now – another massive stuff-up like Maps will not go down well. Trust me on that.