Getting a Facial From Google

Google Search has just slipped in facial searching.

So, If you want to find images of Don Johson's face (whichy lets face it, we all do) then do a search for Don Johnson and in the address bar add &imgtype=face

You get something like this

Its not ideal. Its not documented but it shows the shape of the future.

Portable Firefox and Foldershare: A great way to do stuff.

If like me you use the internet and use more than two computers then things exactly like the following will surely have happened to you:

  • Your sitting at work, browsing the web in your very extended lunch break. You find a website you would love to browse more, but in the privacy of your own home. You add the bookmark.... back at home you realise that the bookmark is still on our computer at work. You try to remember UR:, but the site was in Russia and had characters that don’t exist on any keyboard within thirty miles. You spend the rest of the night crying your eyes out because you realise that there’s not much point in living without that bookmark.
  • You sigh up to a very special members only site, this time in Venezuela . You need to go to an internet cafe that allows you pay by cash and wear a hoodie and shades. You’re there sitting with the homeless prostitutes and the online crack dealers when you realise your cookies are not with you so you can’t login to the site.
  • You wish that you didn’t have to worry about synchronisation of all of your browser data and tools and settings between computers.

If, like me, any of these issues have concerned or confronted you, then read on... there are solutions.

There are in fact many solutions and over the years I have tried most of them. The one I’m going to suggest has been mine for many months in various guises. There have been problems, these are now solved and I am ready to unleash it upon the world. Go wash your hands, button down the hatches, I am about to unleash:

Five simple steps.

  1. Download Portable Firefox. Portable Firefox is a version of the world’s best web browser that has been tweaked to make it Portable; it can be run from any folder, USB Drive, IPOD etc. Download it here and install it in a place you will remember. I have it in My Documents>My Applications>Portable Firefox.
  2. Set everything up in this installation of Portable Firefox, your bookmarks, extensions, web sites, layout. Make it just how you want it and back it up. One great thing about backing up Portable Apps is it means simply copy the folder.
  3. Download Google Browser Sync This will synchronise all of your Settings and bookmarks and cookies . Once installed, set it up. It won’t synchronise Extensions and themes and interface changes, however.
  4. Download Foldershare. This is an amazing bit of free software, recently bought by Microsoft. You will need to download it and install it on all PCs you want to sync. Have a play with it and a read of the help files if you get confused, but its very easy once you get the hang.
  5. Using Foldershare, share your Portable Firefox on all the PCs you want to sync with and let Foldershare do its magic.

Note: The Portable Firefox cache can become corrupted if you switch between different PCs before Foldershare has had the chance to update. I always wait a few minutes between closing one Firefox (on Desktop) and opening another, say on my laptop. This gives Foldershare the time to Sync the changed files.

If you follow these 5 simple steps, you can become more productive, more helpful around the house and better within the community you live in.

It would be churlish not to.

First Days in Foldera

We have been using Foldera tentatively for a few days now. And this is my first (non-poem) review - it is a brief mixture of initial reactions and-in-the-field use.


The first thing to tell you is, it's slow. Painfully slow. I think there is a guy In Folderaville shuffling floppies (and I aint talking in the "fluffing" sense).
Foldera is so slow that it's burnt my monitor. Foldera is so slow that by the time I have logged in to add a new project, the project has been completed. Online, there is one thing slower than Foldera, and that is SETI@home (which is slower than Fold(era)ing@home by a long shot).

Foldera is this slow in a years' time, it won't be here. And seeing as you're probably not reading this until then, then clearly they have speeded it up.


They have some quite hard design hurdles to cross, I think. They need to supply a lot of information, links and other interface items on the page at the same time. And this creates clutter, as you can see from this grab of my current Foldera:

I really should get some screen wipes.
And that's just part of the page. The blue links on the left are the folders, and the right hand side are the folder contents. They are already using some neat AJAXy dropdowns which work really well but they have a ways to go to get the screen ergonomics nailed. I think some compromises and extra steps will have to be juggled and see no reason why they won't get it right in the long run.


Though Foldera is new, there is bloat. It has an email system which I imagine won't get that much use. Not because of the system per se (it might be great) but just because people already have an email, and the kind of people who might use Foldera are probably pretty happy with the system they use now. What Foldera needs isn't its own email but to hook in seamlessly with Pop or Gmail in a configurable and filterable way.

Any task/project system nowadays has to use email as a core conduit, but that doesn't mean every task system needs its own email system.


Despite the speed and clutter and babybloat of the early version, there must be a reason why I/we at work are still using it and, so far, increasing our using it of it. Small projects first, but projects nonetheless. I said in a blog post last week about how Foldera is heading straight up for a Google buyout. So much so that the UI proportions are almost exact with Gmail. The Foldera colour scheme is a panchromatic (though mainly pale blue) celebration of the Google colour scheme. The lack of a task and project system in the Google Apps is, like the lack of a Powerpoint contender, a well discussed omission. Foldera is very very Google like, much more than Basecamp or Activecollab.

And there is another similarity with the Big G.
Foldera has that feeling, like when I first tried Gmail, Writely, Gcal, you can't but help think: "It may not be there now, but when it's there, whoooo-hoooooo, this baby is going to roll me over and butter my balls 'til Christmas," or at least the website/software equivalent of that sentiment.

Skagen Cartesian Doubt

I like watches. I have had my new watch for a week; A Skagen Titanium from Denmark. Very nice.

The strap is not the normal strap I am used to. It is a locking clasp.

But this morning my affair with this watch changed.

It has just come undone as I ate my breakfast.

And now there is always the doubt, and always will be the doubt, that this could happen again. My confidence in the watch is gone. All beauty is lost. Around my wrist I wear a band of uncertainty.

Between Google and The Government

I want someone to look after my data,
And relate my data to me.
I want someone to look after my data,
That someone who isn't me.
So who should I choose to do this,
To manage my freedom's edge?
States who in the past,
Have shifted from their pledge?

Or should I choose a group,
Whose currency is truth,
Assured that all will test them,
In critical rolling proof.
The slightest mote of doubt,
Their empire does implode,
I pack up my bag, my mail, my blogs:
Yahoo. F5. Reload.

The one hundred dollar laptop is here (from digg)

Review - Tom Tom Drum WUSB Touchscreen.

In the days before Google I used to work for TomTom, so this review might be biased, but the Drum is awesome! I got my hands on prototype and its the dog's kahunas. It's 100% right there, bang-smack exactly what I have been looking for for the past two decades: it's a very feminine transsexual masseuse/tech-philosopher. No! No! I mean it's one of these babies:

Its the first - to my knowledge - WUSB Touch screen (Control4 and Panasonic did some WiFi ones a few years back). The technology has been possible for a couple of years I guess, but this is the Walkman. The Drum has no real CPU or GPU, it has no memory, no drive. No moving or thinking parts. Think of it like a really cheap, light, rugged, weatherproof Tablet PC that goes for 12 hours, weighs a bit more than an average paperback and doesn't get hot.... or make a sound.

I have one of the Logitech WUSB keyboards and proper mice, and so I use them around the house when I am not in the mood for typing on the screen with a pen.

In terms of the tech that's all you can really say. I could go on about the nice crisp screen. I could whinge about the lack of any speaker in the device - a Drum with no sound: those crazy Dutchies:P!

I could eulogise on how it's nice to have so much power (that's really on my desktop) in something light and cheap - 200 big ones.

But whats the point?

You know if it's like the other TomTom stuff it's going to be well built and look good. Sub-Apple looks, but good looks. Most of all, you know its a great idea and you want one.

Playing C&C in the bath with never be the same again.

Order at

Non-Haiku Review Of Foldera

I have signed up and signed in for the first time.
I am in darkness.
It has asked me for my first folder.
A folder is like a category or project.
I need to invite another.
I invite two.

It has the functional googleesque aesthetic,
Chunky. Ajaxy... and the cascading style.

It doesn't have a mobile view.
Rememberthemilk has this.
That is close to essential.

It has some interface elements,
I haven't seen before. And they are good.
There is a wholeness and unity,
I haven't seen before. And I have sought;
from the base-camp to the summit.

But like all babies that splatter into the web,
Mewling and puking,
This one has a slowness about it.
The need to grow.

8/10 (So far)

I'm watching alot of Google video right now, accessed from Nice combi.

Foldera is nearer

I have blogged a number of times about Foldera.

Over a year ago I asked?:

"Foldera.. [a design/technological] leap and bound that if they are pulling it of with the kind of quality that we expect of software today, it is going to be truly huge.

Is it vapourware? Answers on a postcard please."

Well I just got a "we're ready to roll" email from the beta sign-up made moons ago... and I am on the start line.

I might even review it, I haven't reviewed anything in ages. Ohhhh hhhhooo how exciting this technology stuff is.

Racism Viewed from Nowhere, Draft 1

Over on my local blog,, a post hit off about the BNP and caused what is, for that blog, a comment storm. Racists and non-racists battling it out in the safety of total anonymity. I didn't censor anything (save for some dumb insults) and after about 60 volleys I started writing this post.

The racist arguments in the comment were not the kind of nonsense I was expecting, and the 2 or 3 people wielding them seemed smart. The problem the racists were having wasn’t so much with what they believed it was that they weren’t listening to the others. It wasn’t that they were ignoring them, but that they were deafened by their own convictions.

I started writing a comment to the blog and that comment essentially turned into this essay. What I want to know is simply, "Are the racists right?" I am not, in any sense of the word, a racist.
I know the racists think they are right, and I know the non-racists know the racists are wrong, but where was the answer?

That’s what I wanted to find.
I want to stress that I am here only discussing the rational racist position, that is, the racist who argues a biologically significant distinction between races in terms of any given race’s value from evidence. People who just hate the "darkies” but don’t think about why, well, this essay isn’t for you.

The View from Nowhere

If you want to provide scientific arguments and evidence that whites are better than blacks you can find this. If you want to disprove these arguments then you can find counter-evidence and counter-argument. And because racists are very passionate about their racism and non-racists equally about their non-racism, it means that you can't really get any further into the debate this way. It just ends up as lots of intellectual shouting and little intellectual listening.
The only way I think you could really attempt to approach the issue is as objectively as possible. The issue of race is entwined with so many other concepts (cultural, social, moral, biological....) and so much subjective opinion that non-objective debate is meaningless and pointless.
What I want to do in this essay is really, and for the first time in my life, strip away all my beliefs about race and the race debates. Forget the fact that for a middle class white guy I have always been about as non-racist as you can get.

If you are a racist and you read this its really important that you accept that I have tried to be maximally objective. If you can’t accept that then you should stop reading now.

  • I'm not going to rely on any science or studies or assumptions supporting or refuting any racial claim.
  • As much as possible I am going to keep things logical.
  • I’m going to try to be impartial.
  • I'm not going to worry about offending anyone but I won’t try to offend anyone.

What is a race?

Clearly there are races. To say that there are not really doesn’t help the objective methodology. Chinese are a different race to Australian aborigines, who are a different race to Europeans who are a different race to Africans who are.... and so on.

  • Non-racists: It seems to me that the non-racists do not like to admit this fact. They bandy around terms like "social construct" and "cultural classification” which don’t seem to do justice to the wonderful diversity of the human species.
  • Racists: the racists on the other hand take the racial distinction, the fact there are races, and from this create huge bastions of racism; the core foundation being the premise that one race can be superior to another race.

If the non-racists won't accept there are racial differences then they are not entering the battle field: they cannot put themselves in a position to really fight the racists. You can see evidence of this on the comments on the post: the non-racists seemed reluctant to accept racial differences. To fight racists you must accept that there are racial differences.

One way you might want to make this palatable for the non-racists is to say:

There are no races, just racial differences.

  • African people generally have more frizzy hair than European people.
  • Chinese people generally have straighter hair than African people.
  • African people have a higher propensity for sickle cell anaemia than Arabic people.
  • European people generally have a lower tolerance to sunlight than Australian Aborigines.
  • African people generally have a higher tolerance to alcohol than Polynesian people.

So far so good. I think the racist and the non-racists, if we are being objective, can agree on these racial differences. The schism comes when the racist camp tries to take the same methodology of difference and apply it to what are considered significant differences culturally.

  • Europeans are more intelligent than Ethiopians (A position in the comments)
  • Black people are more likely to be criminals than white people (Again, a position argued)

And so on... all just catch-alls for the idea that one race is superior to another.

The Importance of Significance

There are racial differences, but what is crucial is whether or not these differences are significant. If Africans have frizzier hair, so what. That’s not an issue. If Africans really are generally and demonstrably more stupid than Chinese then I think it would be naive to say this wasn’t a significant cultural issue.
So in light of this I see the racist debate so far as:

  • Racist: there are significant racial differences
  • Non-racist: there are no significant racial differences.
  • Irrational non-racist: there is no such thing as race.

The Importance of Origination

If you take any purported racial difference, be it the potential for a long term, high-sheen, sustainable afro, or being more likely to be in prison compared to the white guy, the very first thing you must ask about this purported racial difference is this: what is the origin of this difference? The way I see it there are two core starting points for any purported racial difference:

  1. Prenatal Origination: the difference occurs because of something before the birth of individuals in the relevant group: genetics/ biology/nature
  2. Postnatal Origination: the difference occurs because of something after the birth of the relevant groups: culture, education, media, society... life and death and the world: nurture and environment.

The rational racist needs the differences he finds significant to be prenatal in origination, otherwise there is just no purchase on his notion of racial superiority or significant difference.

So with these points in mind, I’m going to take a look at some of the racist arguments on the discussion.

Example 1: Ethiopian Intelligence

"The lowest average IQ in the world is to be found in Ethiopia, where it is 60+.”

One of the cornerstones of the racist framework is the argument that some races are less intelligent than others.

According to one contributer on the post Ethiopians have the lowest IQ. The contributer clearly believes that this fact is unquestionable and irrefutable - although how you can get a good range of test subjects in a water, nutrition and economically impoverished country like Ethiopia is anyone's guess ("If you can align the triangles I'll give you a biscuit"). But for the sake of argument let’s grant him that: The Ethiopian IQ is lower than the world average.

We have seen that, when presented with any purported racial difference, the rational approach is to ask if it is prenatal in origination and if it is significant. The racist needs a yes to both of these conditions for her arguments to work.

In the case of racial differences of IQ there is a huge amount of literature both for and against the differences being prenatal/postnatal. I think the Flynn effect really undermines the racist assumption that these differences are prenatal. We also know that nutrition and early education and stimulation play huge roles in brain development. I could go on, but then I’d just be rehashing non-racist arguments and there are plenty to do that already... so... yet again I am going to concede the racists their point: The Ethiopian IQ is lower than the world average and this difference is prenatal in origination.

The Outdatedness of IQ

If we won’t take the argument on the prenatal/postnatal distinction then we are left with the significance of the difference. And here, for many reasons, there are many ways to show that this is not a significant difference.

The IQ test is over 100 years old. Modern measures of intelligence see the it as a combination of many combining intelligences, for example:

  • Linguistic intelligence ("word smart")
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
  • Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
  • Musical intelligence ("music smart")
  • Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
  • Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
  • Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")
  • And so on....

So Ethiopians may be the worst at solving Puzzles and lateral thinking. That doesn’t mean they are on average more stupid. It means they are worse at puzzles. I'm crap at spelling and puzzles. Nodoku! I don’t know what studies there are for the above intelligences across the various demographics but it would strike me as odd and counter-evolutionary for one group of people to be better in all of them.

The Irrelevance of IQ and Multiple Intelligences

I have many friends, and I assume they are not all of equal IQ. Some will have higher IQs than me; others won't. What's important is that I couldn't tell you whether Dave's got a higher IQ than Adam. Is Mark's higher than mine? Is Pip's higher than Paul's? I really don’t know. Nor do I really care. People’s IQs just aren't relevant in normal interpersonal relationships.

Nor really are the multiple intelligences above. Kev is a better drawer than Mark, but Mark is a better musician.

I think the point I am trying to make here is that even if you go all the way with the racist argument and end up admitting that there are prenatal differences of intelligence between races, so what? There are differences between people within racial groups and within families and within friends. These are not significant, so why should a racial difference of intelligence be significant?

Example 2: Black Criminality

A lot of the racist comments on the post played on the idea of black criminality. And I think you will agree that, if you're being objective, they were pretty compelling. It certainly seems that in the English speaking world, most criminals are black. Forgetting all other facts, statistically that’s what am betting. Most people in English speaking prisons are non-white.

This one is a bit different to intelligence. With intelligence we focused on the insignificance of any purported racial difference of IQ. Intelligence can be quantified and dissected into constituent parts, but criminality is really just a fact about people being criminalized. You are more likely to go to prison if you are black. That’s the fact.

What is the origination of this fact:

  1. Are black men in English speaking countries more likely to go to prison because there is something established prenatally in them that promotes this trait over the traits absence?
  2. Is it because black men, postnatally, are influenced by factors that increase the probability of imprisonment (the factors I am thinking of here are social, cultural, political etc. etc)?

The racist needs option 1. She needs there to be some aspect of the "African genome” that makes Africans more likely to end up as criminals. Thinking with a blank slate here, I can't see what this could be. Racking my brains the idea that something so complex as "criminality” could be contained in a human sperm and egg just befuddles me.
As an attempt to explain this prenatal propensity to criminality, one of the contributers on the post quoted the "fact” that: "Orientals have the lowest criminality of any group - they have the lowest average testosterone levels and blacks have the highest.” But hang on a minute, testosterone isn’t criminality. They are not the same thing.

Maybe it’s true that "blacks have the highest" testosterone. I have no idea if this is true or not. This could result in aggression and a higher likelihood of ending up in prison. But the only prenatal "fact” we are allowing here is the "higher testosterone” one.

I think the argument for a prenatal black propensity towards criminality can't stand up. At best it get get as far as 'blacks have higher testosterone', and from there one must make a big leap of racism. (And last time I checked, the sportsmen and high flying businessmen and politicians who we all assume pack in the testosterone don’t get any negative vibe because of this 'fact'.)
So having found it impossible to find any convincing argument that black criminality is prenatal in origination, let's turn to the postnatal.... Do I really have to go over this?

Racist or non-racist, if you accept that there is a statistical propensity for black criminality you have to explain it, either as being to do with prenatal factors like testosterone or to do with upbringing, poverty, education, legal systems, media... all the stuff we call life.

If you stand back from your passions and with a cold heart ask yourself which is most likely, surely, racist or not, if you are smart and rational you must see that the simplest most coherent, most consistent, most in tune with common sense and the way of other things, is that it's the postnatal effects by a very significant margin.

Conclusion for Now

I think to argue with a rational racist you can't fight them at the evidence level. Not because you would loose, but because nobody can win. It is like trying to argue what’s best between red wine and white, using mice as test subjects. Humans, all of us, are so massively deep and complex in so many ways that trying to judge and value us, based upon statistical evidence (the main stay of the racists arsenal, it seems), just can’t latch on at the level it needs to.

Apart from one drunken insult to a Turkish or Greek Kebab shop proprietor in Kings Cross in 1990 I have always been fundamentally non-racist (he refused me an extra green chilli and I told him to "go home"). When one of my friends was racist about the Best Man at my wedding, I told him were to go and haven’t spoken to him since. But my non-racism has always been from the heart, like I think most people's.

Over the last few days writing this and reading the comments on the blog I’ve taken an objective and philosophical look at racism and some of my thoughts I have written here, and I’m sure I’ll put more up too.

But what I know now is that even when you say, "I will walk with you, racist. I will agree with your assumptions,” the racist arguments don’t have the sustainability against level, passionless argument. You can be a passionate racist, but you cant be a rational one.

Jah man, Crazy.....

Ninjawords: the best online dictionary.

Online dictionaries are very handy. has been a fave of mine for years.

I have it in my Firefox quick searches so now if I type:

d baroque

In the address bar I get the definition of "baroque".

But it's now goodbye because ninjawords is here.

Its like but much much faster.

Check it out at

Powered by ScribeFire.


"This is Spinal Tap" has been my favorite film for nearly two decades.

Until "Team America World Police" came along, for me, there was no contest as to the Crown of the Funniest Film of all time.

The good news is that Rob Reiner has got the band back together for the Live Earth gigs and made a Sequel to Spinal Tap which you can watch in your browser.

The bad news is that its only fifteen mins long and thought delightful in a nostalgic and warm sense it isn't the original.

The REAL BAD NEWS is that none of the sites listed on Live Earth or the site itself significantly mention the root problem of our plants dismal future, and that is the population explosion that makes climate change issues look like blips on the radar.

What Google Needs (Lifehack)

Nice post on lifehack:

What Google Needs

If like me your a Gphile.

The worst album covers in the world (popbitch)

The Impossibility of Heroes.

I wrote my MPhil thesis on The Impossibility of Time Travel and my PhD thesis (incomplete due to becoming technology billionaire (also incomplete)) was on the Anisotropy of Time. So, without wishing to blow my own trumpet too much, Its fair to say, I know more than most about time travel.

So Heroes makes a big use of Time Travel....

Heroes is the best new TV show I have seen since BSG or the Sopranoes. Its awesome make no mistake. But the plot relies on logical impossibility, and thats the most impossible kind of impossibility you can get.

Whist writing this post I found this excellent and informed post here:

Well worth a read. But the inconsistency with Heroes operates below non-linear causal chains, bilking arguments or solutions about multiverses.

It is logically impossible to change the past because then what would have been would not have been, and that is a contradiction. There can be no contradictions.

Mind you, Heroes is so good that they can pump out a gazillion contradictions an episode and I'll still buy the ticket.