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Alistair Dabbs

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Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing.

You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference

On stage, the presenter barely pauses for breath as he shares his extraordinary knowledge with rapid-fire delivery. His audience is captivated, amazed, enthralled. Digital design students all, they are learning from a master of online retail what life is like at the cutting edge of user interaction, giving them a hint of the hi- …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Aug 2014
Costa Wi-Fi coffee

Nuts to your poncey hipster coffees, I want a TESLA ELECTRO-CAFE

Tales from Bohemia, Silicon Roundabout style: in which intrepid explorer Alistair Dabbs goes in search of a cup of coffee in London's Silicon Roundabout tech district traffic feature... Indie cafe 1: Large soya latte, please. Am told they don’t do them in large. They weren’t wrong – drink is served in a vessel smaller than a …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Aug 2014

Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays

Ever been invited to a party only to discover they gave you the wrong address? This doesn’t happen to me often but then I’m not the sort of person whom people invite to parties. Anyway, this wasn’t a party, it was a user group meetup. There I am, having made an attempt to smarten up a bit, travelled across town and deliberately …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Jul 2014
(c) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. TM Danjaq, LLC. All Rights Reserved

NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'

“Excuse me, sir, may I see your passport?” You have to give credit to white-collar Americans, even the seven-foot Richard Kiel cosplay US government thug in front of me: they are so polite. The odd thing was that I haven’t reached the States yet. I haven't even boarded the plane. In fact, I am still at Heathrow and had been …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Jul 2014

Unbridled BONKING and rampant ROGERING at YOUR office!

Youtube Video Sex sex sex, that’s all we think about, apparently. I think I read somewhere that men think about sex every seven seconds. But then you shouldn’t believe everything you read because a person could hardly concentrate on (SEX) matters on a day-to-day basis if this was the case and you would turn into a (SEX) machine …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Jul 2014

The final score: Gramophones 1 – Glassholes 0

What do the following have in common: a hand holding a half-litre carton of milk, the back of a balding head, a grinning selfie taken in a mirror and a wonky street scene with nothing of any interest going on? That’s right, it’s your life – courtesy of Google Glass. A number of colleagues have spent the last few weeks playing …
Alistair Dabbs, 11 Jul 2014

You 'posted' a 'letter' with Outlook... No, NO, that's the MONITOR

“Sorry to bother you. Are you busy?” Instinctively, I look at my watch. Here we go. Bet you he’s going to ask me to fix something trivial. “Don’t worry, Bill,” I reply. “What’s up?” “The computer web isn’t working.” Ah bless, the guy’s long past retirement age but still hangs in there. In fact, he’s a bit of an entrepreneurial …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Jul 2014
A man shouting angrily

You need a list of specific unknowns we may encounter? Huh?

The CIO flew in the other day. I am just a contractor so I only hear stories but so mythical is this fellow that I get the impression he must have flown in by winged chariot and would be trotting across town to our office on a company-funded unicorn. His arrival would then be announced by a fanfare of trumpets and a team of …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Jun 2014

DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

Norbert Spankmonkey has invited you to connect. Oh dear, not another one of these mystery invitations. Who the heck is Norbert Spankmonkey? Did we exchange emails perhaps, or cross swords recently on a forum? Could I have met him at that conference earlier in the week, the one at the casino that ended with free drinks? I recall …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Jun 2014
frustration_anger_irritation_annoyance pain

Adobe Creative Cloud 2014: Progress and pain in the usual places

Remember when software product upgrades were a big thing? Balloons, keyrings, parties? Today, they’re slipped under the door furtively like a pizza takeaway price list. And so it is with Adobe’s announcement today of what’s new in Creative Cloud: lots of PR singing by email, but no actual dancing seems to be taking place. When …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 Jun 2014
Twitter girl

Move over, John Pilger, let us IT scandal-mongerers stick it to you

Many thanks to the gentle readers who wished me well over the last couple of weeks as I lay in bed watching the ceiling spin. For those of you who enjoy listening to people whose name you are familiar with but whom you don’t really know talk at length about their petty illnesses as if they were life-threatening events of …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Jun 2014
Monty Python

I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

Alistair Dabbs is recovering from the dreaded lurgy, but still none too chipper this week, so we’re happy to let him linger in his bath chair and tartan blanket once again. No doubt his neighbours will be concerned though, if this repeat publication from 2013 is anything to go by. “My nephew bought me one of those iPad things …
Alistair Dabbs, 06 Jun 2014
Inch-thick layer of fluff on PC case

The hoarder's dilemma: 'Why can't I throw anything away?'

Alistair Dabbs is unwell this week. This column is a repeat publication of something we found, er, at the back of the cupboard. It's actually not that musty (it's from 2012). I like my house zen. Unfortunately, I am a hoarder, so it’s not. My half-life wife has been trying to educate me by making me watch TV programmes with …
Alistair Dabbs, 30 May 2014
Angry Birds

Look, pal, it’s YOUR password so it’s YOUR fault that it's gone AWOL

Dear Mr Dabbs. Thank you for your business. Please see invoice enclosed. This doesn’t bode well: I am not the sort of person who is able to make private purchases on account. As much as I’d love to swan into a shop, point at various things and drawl “Send them over, will you, darlings?” as I saunter off into a waiting limo, …
Alistair Dabbs, 23 May 2014

Cloud computing is FAIL and here’s why

Adobe’s spectacular FAIL over the last 48 hours confirmed, rather than revealed, cloud computing to be so unreliable as to be positively dangerous. Cloud computing is shite. It takes over everything you’ve got, then farts in your face and runs away giggling. For those readers blissfully ignorant of what us media production types …
Alistair Dabbs, 16 May 2014

Quick Q: How many FLOPPIES do I need for 16 MILLION image files?

Howls of protest sound across the globe as I write this. I’ve been hired to help with the managed migration of incomprehensible volumes of data from one multi-intercontinental, instant-access media library system to another. The protest isn’t a response to my hiring, understandable though that would be. No, my role is …
Alistair Dabbs, 09 May 2014
Happy woman at a computer

Please work for nothing, Mr Dabbs. What can you lose?

“So,” murmured the blonde in the now-deserted restaurant late the other evening as she lazily traced the rim of her wineglass with her middle finger before looking up to fix her eyes on mine, “what excites you?” No, I’m not remembering this accurately. It wasn’t a wineglass but a cup of coffee and she was stirring it furiously …
Alistair Dabbs, 02 May 2014
School of Rock

Brain surgery? Would sir care for a CHOC-ICE with that?

Another Easter, another long weekend, another splurge of CVs sent into the ether. Englishmen joke about Bank Holidays reliably bringing rain but the other thing you can count on following a public holiday is an exodus of staff seeking pastures new – or rather, pastures less strewn with the rank, metaphoric faeces of their …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Apr 2014

Whaddaya mean, NO REFUND? But I paid in Bitcoins! Oh I see...

Don’t tell anyone but I think I might have made an arse of myself again. It’s one thing to show oneself up among one’s peers but another to demonstrate publicly how thick I am front of people who are smarter, sharper, more successful and frankly a damn sight wealthier than me – a sector of society I generally refer to as "other …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Apr 2014
Life of Brian

Innovation creates instability, you say? BLASPHEMY, you SCUM

“Mobbafer.” I’m sorry? “Mobbafer.” I didn’t quite catch that. “Mobbafer.” So, ah, you mean, hmm… mob-ba-fer? “Mobbafer! Mobbafer!” When dealing with people who have impenetrable accents – and by that I mean any accent different from my own – I don’t get angry, I get embarrassed. As the interlocutor tries harder to be understood …
Alistair Dabbs, 11 Apr 2014

Nothing's as SCARY as an overly aggressive SOFTWARE PIMP

"Fans, players and parents unite against England's 'rip-off' £90 World Cup kit" screamed the Mirror this week. "They think it’s all over... priced." Even after several thousand years of civilisation and organised commerce, it seems humans still don’t understand basic economics. Demand, not cost of manufacture, determines the …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Apr 2014

Raised £350bn in crowdsourced funding? Tell me about it (not)

His Girl Friday, All The President’s Men, Pravda, Broadcast News... As a journalist, I ought to be thrilled by reading books and watching dramatisations about other journalists being journalists and generally going about doing their journalisming. Yet there are few things in popular media as forlorn as a journalist talking about …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Mar 2014
BB_PLAYBOOK_RIM_DOWN_TOILET

They want me to install CCTV to see what YOU did in the TOILET

I have just come out of a boardroom presentation in which a fibre network installer bored us all shitless speaking in initials and acronyms for an hour and a half. The one time we woke up was when he used the expression “SLA”, being the only abbreviation that everyone in the room was familiar with – including the accountant. …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Mar 2014

Amazon wants me to WEAR NAPPIES?! But I'm a 40-something MAN

I am a very lucky man: Amazon is offering me a 20 per cent discount. The cynics among you might try to claim that everything at Amazon is offered at a 20 per cent discount because of its advantageous tax arrangements but that would be the result of confusion. My 20 per cent discount has nothing to do with VAT being 20 per cent …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Mar 2014

Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?

Good news – after weeks of slaving over a seemingly interminable office refurb, occupying seven days a week and painstakingly documented in this column ad nauseam, I finally found some time to get some chores done. Time for me! Time that doesn’t involve paying bills or having to apologise for missing deadlines! Time not covered …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Mar 2014

But... you work in IT... Why aren't we RICH?

“Monetizing is not the goal; growing is.” And with that explanation for his company’s decision to put another £11.5bn of someone else’s money through the shredder, Mark Zuckerberg fired the starting gun for the race to the next dot-com crash. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp was not ludicrous, however. Nor was it genius, nor …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Feb 2014
Reput's app: what are your honest feelings about it?

You’re a LIAR and a CHEAT... la-la-la, I can't hear your lawyers

Interactive Lard. Remember the name: one day they will be huge. This is the rock band name that Dabbsy Lite v1.2 came up with as a result of a random word search through a dictionary. I wouldn’t normally recommend this approach: look what flicking randomly through a discarded Atlas on Wimbledon Common did for Bungo Womble. But …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Feb 2014
South Korean spam

Spam, a lot of it: Bubble tea is the Seoul of wit

Your Spam Manager is holding 4 messages. Oh here we go... Subject: Customer Invoice Payment From an email address beginning "realestatetips"? I think not. Subject: PLEASE Update BANK DetaiLS Gosh yes that looks genuine, must open that later and run the attachment. Subject: Carreer oppurtunity As a literary agent, I suppose …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Feb 2014
Alistair Dabbs' office

STRIPPED DOWN and EXPOSED: Business kit from the good old days

A staple of radio phone-ins is to invite listeners to share their stories about funny things they found when moving into a new property. There are some tales that everyone can share, such as front doors fitted with a letterbox so small that you’d struggle to fit a postcard through without having to fold it in half. There are …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Feb 2014
Apple advertises the first Mac

MAC TO THE FUTURE: 30 years of hindsight and smart-arsery

Christian schoolchildren who pay attention during Religious Education classes will at some point independently wonder why there are more Commandments than Deadly Sins. Keep your Commandments – why are there only seven naughty things to do in one’s life? Even by the age of 12, most youngsters could invent plenty more juicy sins …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Jan 2014
Terminator postal worker

Robots? What a bunch of workers...

Robots have taken over my newsagent. Well, it’s more of a general store than a traditional sweet shop, I suppose. Also, the mecha infiltration so far seems limited to the tiny Post Office counter situated between the beyond-sell-by-date tinned produce and the freezer chest full of Captain’s Table gag-fests. Yet it’s from such …
Alistair Dabbs, 24 Jan 2014
Trainspotting email

My name is Dabbsy and I am an EMAILOHOLIC

I think I have 30 email addresses; I’m not sure. I suspect there may be others. I have them on every computer and even carry some around on my smartphone. At the height of my addiction, I was creating domains and distributing email addresses to my wife and my employees. I even gave some to my kids. Clip from the Father Ted TV …
Alistair Dabbs, 17 Jan 2014
Virtual Valerie

Twitter: It's JUST LIKE Elder Scrolls (no it's not)

Life is a game. This is what I learnt from the swishy-haired man on the TV in the early hours over Christmas. Society has become so saturated with computer gaming conventions that everyday existence is played out across social media apps like so many levels of Pong. Charlie Brooker, for it was he, was delivering the closing …
Alistair Dabbs, 10 Jan 2014
Bitcoins

We MUST be told: How many Bitcoins do I need to kill a melon-head?

Banks. Bastards, all of ’em, yah boo sucks. Of course, not everything to do with banks is hateful. The big metal safe in a bank’s basement isn’t a bastard. Nor are those intrepid customer-facing men and women who are employed at the high street branches to fulfil the thrilling role of holding a clipboard and saying “hello” when …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Dec 2013
Toilet

When the lights went out: My 'leccy-induced, bog floor crawling HORROR

Feeling old? Clapped out? Weary of the cut and thrust of everyday work? Looking for a role that pays shitloads of dosh while demanding no relevant experience or demonstrable skill, but chairmanship of the Co-Op bank remains tantalisingly out of your league due to your clean living and good character? Tough. Get back to work like …
Alistair Dabbs, 06 Dec 2013
Google Toilet Paper

Shouldn't we have self calibrating Y-fronts and smart bog roll by now?

Regular readers of this column, those of you who have have suspiciously too much time on their hands on a Friday afternoon will be aware that I am a IT fraud. Compooters are kinda fun and my second-favourite idea for a perfect Sunday afternoon might involve a bit of screwdriver surgery on a troublesome device, but I don't really …
Alistair Dabbs, 29 Nov 2013
Citizen Smith

FAT PIPE for ALL: Britain’s new tech firms take it from the telcos

Reeling under the influence of half a bottle of wine and six tots of exclusive Scotch, I’m introduced to a young woman who produces award-winning reality TV programmes involving the over-elaborate and inconceivably incompetent preparation of food by members of the public alongside celebrity chefs who one assumes must no longer …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Nov 2013

MANUAL STIMULATION: Whack me with some proper documentation

Another day, another app, another incomprehensible user interface. If this was a proper piece of software running on a proper computer rather than a £500 phone, phablet or some similar pharcical phucking phanboi phondleslab, it might be possible to call up a Help menu or leaf through a manual. Instead, I’m left staring at a …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Nov 2013
BBC Micro coding session

How my batch process nightmare was solved by a Wombat

“I enjoy these night shifts but what I’d really like is a six-day week with a three-day weekend.” Today's pocket sociologist – let's just call him "Seb" to protect his anonymity – might be onto something here. I'd popped into the office on my way home after a long day buzzing from one client premises to another, only to remain …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Nov 2013
Sticking the boot in on inkjet printer

Have you reinstalled Windows yet? No, I just want to PRINT THIS DAMN PAGE

Unable to print. Well, thanks, but I think I could have guessed that by myself based on the simple evidence that the printer is still in Sleep mode and output tray is ominously empty. Oh well, I have a bit of time spare and I’m in need of a laugh so let’s run the Troubleshooter. Check your network connections. Good advice. Who …
Alistair Dabbs, 01 Nov 2013
id Software Doom

How I BLEW my co-workers' HEADS OFF ... without going to jail

Guns? Check. Ammo? Check. Bloody squibs. Er no. Chainsaw? Oh, yes indeedy. Right, let’s have a jog around the office, maybe waste a few dudes. And do please keep the camera steady, will you? We want to make sure this gets on video. This is not, as you might imagine, a case of going postal at work or happy-slapping taken to its …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Oct 2013

Alarming tales: What goes on INSIDE Reg hack's hi-tech bedroom

Mrs Dabbsy is threatening to decamp to the spare room. It’s reminiscent of those radioactive weeks just over a year ago when she was a bearer of unstable atoms but the culprit this time is not an overactive thyroid but my choice of alarm clock. Sleeper Sleep sound, Dabbsy’s not around Source: Wiros Like many professional …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Oct 2013
Fujistu palm-vein scanning mouse

Double-click? Oh how conventional of you, darling!

Click and wait. Now click again. OK, that didn’t work. Let’s try again. Click and let go of the mouse button... and wait... and click a second time. No, I don’t want you to double-click. I need you to click twice, yes, but with a gap in between. Look, you have to click and leave that mouse button alone for a second or two …
Alistair Dabbs, 11 Oct 2013
self-service checkout

Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

“Thank you for using Fast Checkout.” Whuh? “Thank you for using Fast Checkout.” It’s nice to be thanked by a machine but I haven’t used Fast Checkout. Not yet, anyway. I’m still standing at the automated till with a heavy metal basket - rock on, shopping dudes - cutting into my fingers of one hand while I’m jabbing at the …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Oct 2013

Congrats on MP3ing your music... but WHY bother? Time for my ripping yarn

Good news. A year on from the ICT debacle at my son’s school, he has ditched the joint and found another place where his skills are more appreciated. Faithful readers may remember - as for all you unfaithful readers, I understand the political parlance is to call you "sluts" - that a couple of days before he was due to embark …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Sep 2013
Can't take pictures

WHY do phone cams turn me into a clumsy twat with dexterity of an elephant?

I was a little dismissive last week about the technical improvements Apple says it is introducing to the photographic capabilities of its blinged-up iChav smartphones. Just because mimicking street fashion smacks of corporate desperation at – is it cuz I iz gold, innit? – this should not mask the details of the much-improved …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Sep 2013
Gold iPhone 5s, in'it?

Massively leaked iFail 5S POUNDS pundits, EXCITES chavs

If it was tedious putting up with the prelaunch hype, it was at least entertaining this week to watch so many commentators backtrack on the cobblers they’d been serving up just hours before the event. I’m talking about the iPhone 5S/iPhone 5C launch, of course. Everyone else has expressed an opinion these past couple of days, so …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Sep 2013
Sinclair Digital Watch

Smartwatch craze is all just ONE OFF THE WRIST

Douglas Adams’ classic 1970s sci-fi satire described the Earth’s population as “so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea”. And here we are again, on the cusp - as in ‘hey, boys, check out my cusp’ or ‘ouch I fell on my cusp’ - of a new outbreak of idiocy that regards digital …
Alistair Dabbs, 06 Sep 2013
Candle in the dark

Behind the candelabra: Power cut sends Britain’s boxes back to the '70s

“Would you like to watch a film with me tonight?” Although the timing seems good – it has just gone 8pm – the offer is extraordinary. You see, in the busy Dabbs household, each member of the family works to his or her own barely compatible calendar and so it is mandatory to book in advance before any interaction can take place …
Alistair Dabbs, 30 Aug 2013

Holiday HELL: Pourquoi, monsieur, why is there no merdique Wi-Fi here?

DAY 1 I arise at 02:00am and clatter about the house noisily. This is my preferred method of waking up the family without the ignobility of knocking on bedroom doors or the inevitable upset that follows from vigorously shaking shoulders or throwing iced water into faces. I have booked a cheapskate pre-dawn flight and I do not …
Alistair Dabbs, 23 Aug 2013