Subscriptions

June 23, 2007

Due to a technical error, readers were unable to subscribe to the feed for tinyplanetblog.com. If you’ve been affected by this, I’ve fixed things. The feed can also be found here.

Thanks for your patience.

David


On the move

June 15, 2007

Dear reader,

Tinyplanet has packed its bags and its moving to a new domain. Come and visit at www.tinyplanetblog.com.


Slightly sick ad

June 12, 2007

I’ve just seen an ad on UKTV for Oasis, a fruity soft drink produced by Coca-Cola.

It sees a herd of wildebeest stampede across the plains for the watering hole. When they arrive, one sniffs at the mucky liquid and the voice-over/interior monologue goes something like: “What? We came all this way across Africa to drink this muck? How could it possibly get any worse?”

At which point a crocodile leaps from the water and sinks its teeth into one of the wildebeest.

As the herd flees, the weird little man who seems to be the main figure in the ad campaign appears and starts chugging down a bottle of Oasis. While the slogan “Oasis: for people who don’t like water” comes on screen, the croc drags the kicking animal into the water while the dying wildebeest says “This is exactly what happened to Alan last year”.

I don’t like it.

The narration is mildly amusing I suppose, but the fact that some goofball is messing around on screen swigging from a bottle of juice while an animal is dragged to its death is wrong.

That’s right. I like animals more than most people.


Strange maps

June 12, 2007

Strange Maps is fast becoming one of my favourite blogs, largely because of my love of the unusual.

Check out the most recent post, a map of the US where each state is named for countries with a similar Gross Domestic Product.

Ireland equates with Nevada and is 21st in the list with a GDP of $203bn (E152bn).


Get outta my data, Google

June 12, 2007

Google is to limit the amount of time it retains users’ search data to 18 months from 18-24 months.

The Financial Times sees this as a concession to the EU, which wrote to the internet giant last month asking Google to justify its policy.

Google’s move relates to terms entered in the search engine and the address of various servers, but not more personal information it has collected with users’ express permission.

However, company’s privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said future data retention laws may obligate the firm to keep the data for 24 months after all. But hey, at least they’re not keeping it indefinitely any more.

Fleischer wrote on the official Google blog:

“The internet is a global medium, and the principles at stake – privacy, security, innovation and legal obligations to retain data – have an impact beyond Europe, and outside of the realm of privacy. These principles sometimes conflict: while shorter retention periods are good for privacy, longer retention periods are needed for security, innovation and compliance reasons. We believe we’ve struck a reasonable balance between these various factors.”

You can read his full post here, where he also outlines the reasons why Google believes it should retain search data.

At least it’s movement on the company’s part to tackle concerns over how it uses data — a British watchdog at the weekend branded the firm among the worst on the web when it came to users’ privacy.

I’d rather they keep my search data for no longer than six months, but there you go. I enjoy my privacy and have been known to defend it fiercely — surely I’m not the only one?


The power of pork

June 12, 2007

Soaring pork prices are fueling Chinese inflation.

The cost is up 40% in the last year (while meat prices generally are up 26.5%), largely because of a blue-ear disease epidemic which has seen at least 18,000 pigs slaughtered. With pork a staple of the Chinese diet, and farmers no longer rearing the animals for fear of the illness, the shortages are having a knock-on effect.

Food prices in general are up about 8.3%, although consumer prices as a whole rose 3.4% in May. The government’s target is 3%, and so another interest rate hike is on the cards as the authorities try to cool an 11% annual economic growth rate.

And Reuters/Financial Times make an interesting observation:

Savers earn 3.06 percent on 12-month certificates of deposit, meaning that after a 20 percent tax is deducted, the value of their money is failing to keep pace with inflation.

This has encouraged millions of Chinese to cash in their deposits and punt on the stock market, which jangled government nerves by falling sharply last month after almost quadrupling in 2 years.

Communist in name only.

Inflation is a tricky bugger to quantify as different countries use different products in their calculations. For instance, Ireland is the only country that I know of in Europe which includes mortgage payments in its figures. This means the Irish inflation rate is above 5%, whereas if mortgage payments were stripped out it would be closer to 2.7% (the eurozone target is just under 2%).

Nonetheless, headline figures spook investors and jittery investors can instigate sell-offs that wipe billions off a stock market in just a few hours. It seems that, as with so much in life, confidence is everything.


He’s one to talk

June 10, 2007

It makes me laugh when Vladimir Putin describes an institution like the World Trade Organisation as “undemocractic”.

Because he knows all about democracy, you see.