So today a data firm I was scheduled to interview tried to surprise with a personal profile pulled from their internal dataset, which is a combination of publically available information and paid-for data from credit agencies and the like. Happily the plan to shock me backfired. Aside from my name and phone number – which were used to trigger the search – only my passport number was correct. Although incorrectly displayed as a South African ID number.
To be fair, I’ve not lived in South Africa long enough to be on all the databases yet, and many of the fields were close enough to make me uncomfortable – age within a year, address in the right area, salary not a million rand off what I actually earn.
Also, I am unusual in that I habitually lie about things like my address, passport number, date of birth and cell number on non-legal forms which are ridiculously intrusive, and I don’t carry cards of any kind not issued by my bank, so no in-store rewards for me. I also opt out of things like Discovery’s keep fit spyware.
Sadly I can’t be too smug. I read this post about de-deanonymising data from New York taxis after I got home and got all depressed again at the apparent ease with which commuters’ identities were reverse engineered. I’m a passionate advocate of open data, but sometimes it is easy to forget the dangers…
Like most journalists, I’ve always had an idea in the back of my head that one day I’d start writing creatively. And like most who are still journalists by my age I’ve started a couple of projects then left them to fester when I discovered how the amount of free time I have is almost entirely too little to actually finish something.
A few years ago I got a bit further than usual and had a rough plan and a few draft chapters of a novel which was crudely premised around the idea of what might happen if Tesco moved into the housing market and started renting flats.
So it was a bit disturbing to read this in the news today. Clearly I need to go back to that manuscript and actually do something about it…
…because I just spent two weeks, R250 replacing, rewiring and testing a motor on my RepRap which didn’t appear to be working. I almost managed to blow the rest of the electronics fiddling and getting frustrated with it.
Turns out there was nothing wrong with the motor at all. The plastic cog attached to it had worn out just enough that it wasn’t turning with the spindle. A 10 minute, virtually cost free job to fix.
Last year, Tabby was very nervous at her school sports day. She was shy about running in front of people and had to be gently cajouled into competing (although this being a Montessori school, the competition element isn’t really the biggest part). This year was a different story – except for the wheelbarrow race, which she wouldn’t do, she loved it and couldn’t have been happier.
We assume the wheelbarrow tantrum was to do with being tired as we’ only just got back from holiday.
On a separate note – what happened to being able to share to WordPress directly from Flickr?
It’s not my headline, but this is the third or fourth time I’ve written about the Tshimologong Precint in Joburg, and definitely the best: The grand vision for a homegrown Silicon Valley in one of Joburg’s most notorious neighbourhoods | ZDNet.
I’m currently involved in a campaign to try and stop a road being built through a local nature reserve, and one of my concerns is that whatever gets put in the plans won’t matter once building commences. Because roads are really badly made in Johannesburg. When I lived in Shoreham, a 100 yard pedestrianised area took nearly a year to finish because of the incredible layers of engineering and planning that went in to it. That was ridiculous. But so is the picture above. It’s the new intersection between Maxwell Drive and Old Pretoria Road – finished about three months ago.
This weekend it rained. Quite heavily. It’s the first rain this road has seen. And already it’s too flooded to drive on, causing traffic to back up and – eventually – the lights will fail.It hasn’t rained for 12 hours, and the pool of water is still there.
Quite how that happens is beyond me. It rains heavily for six months of the year here. You’d think someone would have remembered to put the storm drain in?
So yesterday was a bit of a breakthrough. After only a year of trying, I made some things with my 3D printer. The first (above) is a mount for the electronics. I found out that the reason I was only getting half-prints like this:
Then I made this:
It’s a waving octopus from Thingiverse. With his head caved in because I didn’t use enough infill, I think. Also, I think the extruder temperature is a bit too high, and the extruder itself was set a little low and melted some of the layers at the top.
Alien-looking rocks on Salt Rock beach, a set on Flickr.
While on holiday just north of Durban, in a little town called Salt Rock (complete with ‘Salty’s’ – the hard drinking bar for salted types) we came across a small area of these rocks.
They were just under a headland, so I assume the odd patterning is a result of multiple currents in the undertow and some pumice-like lava rock. I can’t find anything online which explains this kind of wear (primarily on the land-facing side of each rock), but it certainly looks cool.