Taoffi's blog

prisonniers du temps

[afghanistan] - After the fall

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The shambolic withdrawal does not reduce the obligation of America and its allies to ordinary Afghans, but increases it. They should use what leverage they still have to urge moderation on the Taliban, especially in their treatment of women. The displaced will need humanitarian aid. Western countries should also admit more Afghan refugees, the ranks of whom are likely to swell, and provide generous assistance to Afghanistan’s neighbours to look after those who remain in the region. The haste of European leaders to declare that they cannot take in many persecuted Afghans even as violent zealots seize control is almost as lamentable as America’s botched exit. It is too late to save Afghanistan, but there is still time to help its people. ■

From <https://www.economist.com/leaders/2021/08/21/the-fiasco-in-afghanistan-is-a-grave-blow-to-americas-standing>

The social vs. networking

Numerous of the latest events reveal as much of collisions between technology and social activities.

You may have a look at some of Zeynep Tufekci's articles to get an idea about how broad the problem is.

Information Technology seems to have grownup immersed in its own technical problems with little regard to the social role it might (or might have to) play.

It is somehow astonishing, for instance, to watch how a company like Facebook does not seem to grasp few simple responsibilities about what it may / may not sell or buy and to whom. And how it came up at the end by admitting that a 'human' check is required over ads sold on its network!

Definitely, some technology companies seem to have grown up from their technical issues to at least one social notion: profit.

Unfortunately that cannot be enough. May they just recall that even profit is constrained by laws and, accessorily, some fundamental ethics!

Thuggish practices in businesses

I keep being surprised of the number of unmentioned violent incidents we live everyday while condemning violence is a common theme in all occasions. We seem to agree that exerting violence in some form is condemnable, but accept (or at least keep unmentioned) other forms of violence that are often the seeds of the condemnable type.

One common type of violence, that many people live without even having the right to talk about, is violence exerted in the workplace. Harassment in businesses is more and more a common practice. It even seems to have been elevated to some high level of craftsmanship or art, all with its own techniques!

If we try to summarize violence as an act of offering the choice of: 'Do that or otherwise die' / 'You did not do that, you deserve dying', that would exactly be the significance of harassment in the workplace: 'Do that or otherwise be fired' / 'You did not do that, you deserve being fired'. Where being 'fired' ultimately means: have no resources, and, most probably Die! (Or at least, join those beggars you just met in your commute this morning!)

I can hardly consider such situations otherwise than a violence exerted on people.

I wanted to talk about this subject after having found myself in a real situation during a mission at a small company where nervousness among the people was perceptible in a way I did not see before. In the workplace, you could easily guess who are the 'foremen' specialized in people harassment (themselves being harassed by others …less visible!). The thick ambiance all being clothed into artificial ways of 'humanization' through – more or less superficial – parties, drinks, games and the like. But which could not mask the ambient anxiety.

On the ethical side, such violence is questionable.

Not surprisingly, on the productivity side that had negative effects too. You cannot be creative nor productive by fear.

The global technical level and practices of the company were rather 'low' by many standard measures. But you could not find an ear that may accept changes, or just accept discussing change proposals. The thick ambiance turned the business activity into sclerosed processes deaf to change. 'Change' became Fearful!

All that activity (and violence) were of course performed through, allegedly, 'Agile' and other artifacts which are sometimes just words decorating the worst unethical practices and bad results you can imagine!

 

Anecdotally, the company's business was: 'to help businesses in investigating unethical practices'!

No need to mention: I was fired J

Inspiring Jargon

I read:

"Arianespace… announced […] that two satellites it had tried to launch to join the European Space Agency's Galileo constellation, had entered a "non-nominal injection orbit"—in other words, gone wrong"  

You probably now know how to better say "I got a bug" (when it is just a "non-nominal behavior")!

Microsoft case: going monochrome

On the Windows Phone 8, the latest MSFT phone OS, you have a nice Theme selection option, which says:

"Change your phone's background and accent color to suit your mood today, this week or all month"

Quite attractive!

The feature proposes two settings:

  • Background
  • Accent color

 

On 'Background', you have two options: Light / Dark

On 'Accent color', you have a palette of 21 colors (which seems to be a pretty little choice on a device that, according to the manufacturer, can display 65000 colors or more!)

I should admit, that not having a choice is in a way less time consuming. May be this was the initial OS designer's intended objective.

 

Now let us leave WP and go back to the desktop machine to have a look at Microsoft Office 2013.

Here too, you have a nice feature to select your theme.

You have the choice between:

  • White
  • Light gray
  • Dark grey

 

The difference between the three is really too subtle:

I tried them all, and ended up by selecting 'Dark': a little more readable!

On another point: after all the literature about the 'user interface design guidelines', it now seems that Microsoft Office apps are the only applications that can keep being outside of any graphical constraints. Those guys are really too spoiledJ

 

Conclusion

It seems that someone at MSFT has decided to re-form our education about colors. The 'monochrome' seems to be the new MSFT User Interface Strategy (you can check yourself: Windows Phone, Windows 8, Office 2013…)

Some people may find this abusive… but, in a way, we are much less embarrassed with this new reduced theme strategy… we may gain more time to think about things more useful!

The piteous story of FBI vs. LulzSec!

Few days ago, many press articles exposed what was supposed to be spectacular action of the FBI against LulzSec.

The main ‘spectacular’ action this time was that the FBI succeeded in gaining the ‘cooperation’ of one young man who was, more or less, part of the young people's movement.

The ‘cooperation’ of this poor scared young person, lasted 10 months… from June 2010 to March 2011, where he sometimes worked ‘full nights’ for the FBI to deliver his colleagues and friends in the best (illegal) conditions!

According to the press news (relating FBI personnel declarations), the operation ended up by arresting 4 suspected persons (all over the worldJ).

Apparently not hoping for many more suspects through its new agent, the FBI decided to throw him away by revealing his identity to the press! (Not very much encouraging collaborating with those people… isn’t it?)

Well… by any simple arithmetic logic: 10 months of cooperation of such a great agent to simply have 4 suspects… that really seems pitiful.

Finally: The story seems in fact more about the recurrent failure of organizations like FBI to do their job (whatever this job may be!)

ShrekPoint

shrek With a little refactoring, this presentation can be quite good for SharePoint 2010:

“In this fully computer-animated fantasy from the creators of Antz, we follow the travails of Shrek […], a green ogre who enjoys a life of solitude. Living in a faraway swamp, he is suddenly invaded by a hoard of fairy tale characters, such as the Big Bad Wolf, the Three Little Pigs, and Three Blind Mice, all refugees of their homes who have been shunned by the evil Lord Farquaad […]. They want to save their homes from ruin, and enlist the help of Shrek, who is in the same situation…”

 

“While simultaneously embracing and subverting fairy tales, the irreverent Shrek also manages to tweak Disney's nose, provide a moral message to children, and offer viewers a funny, fast-paced ride.”