Category Archives: Thoughts

Some of my thoughts, ideas and other text based entries

I’ve walked/driven over that bridge, now it’s gone

If you actually know a place in the news it makes it much more real than if it’s a place you’ve never even heard of. I’ve been to Pooley Bridge twice, among other things to go on an Ullswater Steamer cruise. While there I crossed the bridge giving the village its name a couple of times, both in the car and on foot.

Picture of an old bridge over a river
Pooley Bridge in April 2012

Storm Desmond and the related rain has now destroyed the old bridge, built in 1764. Not to mention the flooding and misery it has brought to other parts of Cumbria. Carlisle (where I usually stay overnight on my journeys to Islay) has also been badly hit. I’m not sure of the exact area, but I believe one of the hotels where I sometimes stay is flooded as is the park where I go for my morning run.

As far as I know nobody has died and I hope it stays that way, at least people seem to be safe. Still, it will be a long hard slog for those impacted by the floods.

The privacy risks of Big Data

Kind of a follow up to the It’s not a question of if, but only of when post from a few weeks ago. A fascinating but also scary read how it is possible to identify individuals from theoretically anonymised data:

Riding with the Stars: Passenger Privacy in the NYC Taxicab Dataset

Similar to this there is a lot of information in an itemised bill. Or a record of all websites visited…

It’s not a question of if, but only of when…

… there will be a breach and some ISPs data of this will be leaked, causing all kinds of embarrassment for a lot of people (including those of the “I’ve got nothing to hide” brigade).

I wonder if Teresa May will laugh it off then as in her response to Keith Vaz:

Noting Mrs May likened it to an itemised phone bill, the Labour MP said:

There is a lot of information in an itemised bill. If I was to look at her itemised telephone bill and she was to look at mine, she might be surprised at who were were phoning.”

 “Speak for yourself”, someone could be heard shouting from the green benches – which Mrs May quipped was the “right response”.

PS: This is also a fairly comprehensive analysis of the surveillance bill draft announced today, including the risk of breaches

Peeple app, real or hoax?

Over the last few days a new upcoming app called Peeple raised quite a storm in the media, e.g. the BBC reports Peeple app for rating human beings causes uproar. Quite understandably if the app is real, I think it’s rather intrusive and wrong how it is forced even on people who don’t want to participate. I also very much doubt it is compliant with various European privacy and data protection laws.

However, reading a post Peeple Bleater on rumour/hoax slayer website Snopes.com makes me wonder if the app is real or if there might be something else behind it? Could it be an elaborate social media experiment? Or will it be real after all?