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Stories by John Davidson

Intel takes aim at cable chaos with fibre-optic project

The mess of different cables hanging behind television sets and PCs could soon be replaced by a single, high-speed cable not much thicker than a piece of spaghetti.
At its annual developers forum, Intel revealed it was working on a universal fibre-optic cable that uses infra-red light to connect all sorts of home entertainment and computer devices to each other, and said it could be ready for adoption by electronics makers as early as 2010.

Written by John Davidson24 Sept. 09 22:00

Long tail theory is, in a word, bollocks

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my oh my, what a wonderful day!
Hello, and welcome to yet another edition of This Wonderful Life,

Written by John Davidson10 Nov. 08 22:00

Status anxiety

John Davidson is sitting down at his desk, typing.
Hi! I'm writing this week to warn you of a worrying new trend, that could cost you your job if you're not careful.

Written by John Davidson26 June 08 22:00

Tools rush in

I believe I may have single-handedly answered three of the most vexing questions facing the economy. These include the seemingly imponderable issue of why there are few women in certain parts of the workforce, the hitherto unanswerable question of how to attract more recruits into the hard sciences and, most importantly, the nagging matter of how to get men to pull their weight around the house.
Not only have I answered these questions, I can now reveal that I have done so with a simple, one-word answer: Tools. Or, to add a little nuance, a two-word answer: Big tools.

Written by John Davidson15 June 08 22:00

Little safety in a very small number

We're reporting to you today from the Myers-Briggs psychobabble and associated party tricks department here at the digital life labs - a division we set up several years ago, to investigate the use of psychological profiling as a means of hacking into computers to read our personnel files.
It always seemed like a promising idea. According to the Myers-Briggs psychological profile theory, the world is populated by just 16 personality types, ranging from your shy, touchy-feely INFP (introvert, intuitive, feeling, perceptive) type, who usually ends up as a missionary or a school teacher, to your bolshie, some might say fascistic ESTJ (extrovert, sensate, thinking, judging) types, who usually end up in charge of something.

Written by John Davidson27 May 08 22:00

Grand theft identity

This so-called "telecommunications revolution" has made us all a little nervous. With the ever-present threat of "identity theft", combined with the twin threats of scam emails and the constant risk that we might accidentally be exposed to nudity whilst innocently visiting sites such as www.nudes'r'us.com, it's hard to know where one can safely turn nowadays.
Yet, despite these ongoing security threats, I've been feeling relaxed and comfortable about the telecommunications revolution lately, mainly because I recently received a revolutionary new mobile phone designed specifically to protect its owner against such threats, especially identity theft.

Written by John Davidson26 May 08 22:00

The happiness curve

To all you unmarried men or married women out there; to all you workers who "accidentally" opened your colleague's pay slips only to discover they're getting paid more than you; to all you lottery winners who have yet to find the time to spend all the dough; in short, to all of you who feel that your life is going down the toilet, I bring a message of hope from the happiness experts: Things will get better once you pass through the U-Bend.
I'm not making it up. That's what it's called - a U-Bend - taking its name from the shape that most long-term studies of happiness take on when plotted according to age. In surveys, people describe themselves as happy when they're in their teens, very happy when they're through their mid-fifties, and relatively unhappy during what scientists describe as the "poopy" years in between.

Written by John Davidson24 April 08 22:00

A nasty kettle of fish

News that the keyless entry system for many of the world's automobiles has been "pwned" by university researchers, hot on the heels of the news that the world's most popular PC operating systems both suffered a "pwning" from hackers at a security conference, raises some troubling questions for the global technology community.
The most pressing questions, which citizens of the world need to have answered in the next several days if the global automotive and computer industries are going to avoid a major catastrophe, are these: How do you pronounce the word "pwn"? Is pwning a way of gathering a tasty seafood dish, or is it something far more sinister? Can Orthodox Jews engage in pwning, or would that be against the Halakhah?

Written by John Davidson07 April 08 22:00

This column does not exist

The universe is about to be invaded by billions of giant floating brains. I am not making this up.
Well, OK, maybe I am making up the bit about the giant brains. No one knows how large the invading brains will be, although for humanity's sake I hope they are huge, because legions of tiny brains could easily be mistaken for, say, an invading force of dandruff, in which case (looking around the office here) the invasion is already well under way and humanity has already been defeated.

Written by John Davidson23 Jan. 08 22:00

Goodwill gadgets

1. Mio DigiWalker C720t
Never underestimate the difference an extra inch can make. Of all the GPS navigation devices we looked at in 2007 - and there were many - the widescreen Mio C520 is the one that impressed us the most. The Mio's slightly wider screen allows you to have a turn-by-turn description of your route, as well as the usual graphical depiction, both on the screen at the same time. The C720t, due in Australia in December, builds on that widescreen loveliness, and adds live traffic data to the turn-by-turn description. The $699 navigator tunes in to "traffic message channel" radio broadcasts (available only in Melbourne, but due to reach other Australian cities in 2008) to warn you when the planned route is congested with traffic. And if you do get stuck in a bottleneck, you can always use the C720t's widescreen to watch movies.

Written by John Davidson08 Dec. 07 22:00

A robotic love life

We're reporting to you today from the Lonely Parts Club, a shed out the back of the Digital Life Labs, where retired and current lab staff meet to discuss the ways in which technology has helped us to get laid.
So far, technology has hardly helped in this regard, even for our former staffers whom we hoped had escaped the stigma of having been employed at such a place as this. It seems that when you don the white lab coat and take a vow of nerdiness, it operates (rather like the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) perpetually.

Written by John Davidson15 Oct. 07 21:00