Alistair Dabbs

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

Who would code a self-destruct feature into their own web browser? Oh, hello, Apple

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Put down the sacrificial dagger and step away from the goat.” Tsk, typical. I make all the effort of finding a remote hillock in Wales and an inexpensive black doe for my pagan ritual and I’m not even halfway through the banishing ceremony. It’s wet and cold and the trailing edges of my robes are muddy, and now some norm in a …
Alistair Dabbs, 05 Feb 2016
Still from the movie Zoolander: Derek and a fellow model try to get the 'files' out of the Mac by smashing it to pieces. copyright Paramount Pictures

'Printer Ready'. Er… you actually want to print? What, right now?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Whirr whirr click. Oh come on, print, dammit. Bzzzzt. Whirr click [silence] brrrrrrrrrrr [silence]. Why is it that an office printer manages to churn out pages day after day without delay or complaint, yet chooses to play silly buggers the moment you are in a hurry? Eh. Phut. Click. The green activity light is blinking …
Alistair Dabbs, 29 Jan 2016
Robots, image via Shutterstock

AI no longer needs to fake it. Just don't try talking to your robots

By the early 22nd century, Mega-City One will stretch down the eastern seaboard from Montreal to Georgia. It will be home to some 400 million citizens. Almost all of them will be unemployed. Judge Dredd’s vast satirical dystopian backdrop in the pages of 2000 AD is one of the comic’s most colourful settings. A predominant …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Jan 2016
The Seeing Eye by Valerie Everett, Flickr, CC2.0

Five technologies you shouldn't bother looking out for in 2016

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Welcome to the future! The skies are full of flying cars, the waters are full of personal submarines and our digital wallets are full of 57 varieties of mutually incompatible blockchain-based monetary currency. Food is consumed in the form of nutrition pills. The outdoor temperature is determined by Weather Control in Berlin. …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Jan 2016
Photo by Heather Sorenson / sxc.hu

Put your private parts on display if you want to keep earning a living

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My prospective client is staring at my nuts. The quality of my work is apparently not too important. What really matters are the warm bits that dangle between my legs. Indeed, the human resources rep is insisting that I be prepared to present my lobster and urchins on demand, as regularly as possible. You’d think I would be …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Jan 2016

Smartphone hard, dudes, like it’s the end of the world!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Welcome back. Just think, it’s been a week already since glum users began reluctantly re-occupying seats that had been blissfully empty during most of Christmas and New Year. No doubt your Monday was spent dealing with forgotten-password requests, Tuesday helping the same users who had already forgotten the replacement password …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Jan 2016
that's all folks featuring Porky Pig

If it still works six months from now, count yourself lucky

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My underwear smells of bacon. The idea, I think, is to make carnivorous members of society salivate in the unlikely event that they should ever bring their faces into close proximity of my shreddies. Unable to test the effectiveness of this theory "in the field", as it were, I am forced to take it on trust. That said, I can …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Dec 2015

So why exactly are IT investors so utterly clueless?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Are you thick or what? No, really, how else can you explain why you invest vast sums of money on daft schemes that nobody wants? Long-time readers of this column may remember my little Tech City adventure a while back, in which I managed 2,000 sq ft of chic hipster office floorspace in the heart of London’s so-called "silicon …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Nov 2015
Super Woofer by Pleuntje, Flickr, under Creative Commons 2.0

Love your IoT gadget but could you keep the noise down?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Shutupshutupshutup. There’s a man with an extraordinarily annoying voice on this floor and I wish he would take his fulsomely resonating gob somewhere else. Blah blah market synchronisation blah blah invested intelligence blah blah cooperative disruption arse bollocks. Don’t you just love open-plan offices? Actually, come to …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Nov 2015
Gerard Depardieu. Pic by Thore Siebrands, licensed under CC 3.0

Let's get to the bottom of in-app purchases that go titsup

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I have paid to watch a fat French man’s thrusting buttocks on TV. But something has gone wrong. Despite my attempts to display gallic grinding on the living room screen, my TV is – quite literally – not playing ball. It’s not what you think. Actually, on reflection, yes it probably is. I had better explain. This week I …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Nov 2015

The only GOOD DRONE is a DEAD DRONE. Y'hear me, scumbags?!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? There’s nothing worse in journalism than a big-mouthed writer who can’t take what he gives. So I would like to thank all those readers who emailed me personally to offer their opinions on last week’s column in which I cast doubt on Hollywood’s portrayal of computer hackers as sharp-witted and articulate with washboard abs rather …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Oct 2015

If MR ROBOT was realistic, he’d be in an Iron Maiden t-shirt and SMELL of WEE

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I have an urge to dress up in unconventional clothing, don a wig and parade myself around east London. You may be relieved to learn, without indicating prejudice, that this will not involve women’s clothing. I am neither a master potter nor am I on the game. Sorry to disappoint. I had better explain. MCM London Comic Con …
Alistair Dabbs, 24 Oct 2015
Passenger plane exploding on the gournd

Self-driving vehicles might be autonomous but insurance pay-outs probably won't be

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I enjoy travel but I do not fly well – especially if the aeroplane’s wings are rusted, the tail has been attached with vinegar and brown paper, and the undercarriage is still sitting in the ditch it fell into at the end of the departure airport’s runway some 300 miles away. As you might have guessed, I am a big fan of the TV …
Alistair Dabbs, 17 Oct 2015

PHONE me if you feel DIRTY: Yanks and 'Nadians wave bye-bye to magstripe

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Whenever I dump my load, I don’t feel the need to swipe. Swiping is far too dirty for me. I’d rather just lightly touch, lift up my trousers and walk away. Having slipped the touch-and-go debit card back into my wallet and collected my load of clothes shopping that I had dumped at the till – why, what did you think I was …
Alistair Dabbs, 10 Oct 2015
Police direct a cabbie at the Uber protest in London

Only a CNUT would hold back the waves of the sharing economy

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The Turtle-Necked Twats are having their bluff called at last. Taxi-hailing app developer Uber has been invited to rejoin the real world and the TNTs are in uproar. London’s transport authority, TfL, has launched a public consultation into private-hire taxi services in England’s capital. As usual, Uber’s TNTs are convinced …
Alistair Dabbs, 03 Oct 2015
Cheat by https://www.flickr.com/photos/sohelparvezhaque/ CC 2.0 attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

VW’s case of NOxious emissions: a tale of SMOKE and MIRRORS?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Karma must be a great comfort to those who believe in it. The assurance that nasty deeds will be accounted for, eventually, must make all the shit we have to put up with worthwhile. Take Martin Winterkorn, forced to resign his role as head of Volkswagen this week, amid revelations that his company had been systematically …
Alistair Dabbs, 26 Sep 2015
A pair of side cutters

RFID wants to TRACK my TODGER, so I am going to CUT it OFF

Something for the Weekend, Sir? There’s something I’d like to show you in my underpants. Come along, now, don’t be shy. Take a good look. See how it dangles there getting in the way? And yet, conversely, it’s a little bit stiff, isn’t it? This makes wearing tight underpants pretty uncomfortable, I can tell you. Pass me those scissors and I’ll cut the damned …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 Sep 2015

You want to DISRUPT my TECH? How about I DISRUPT your FACE?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My “iBeats by Dr Dre” earphones have ceased functioning. They lasted all of eight weeks. Tangerine Dream at Coventry Cathedral. HD. Tangerine Dream at Coventry Cathedral 1974. While I’d been joking that I was trying to defile Dr Dre’s muvva-fuddin’ bitch-slappin’ earphones by listening to early Mike Oldfield and Tangerine …
Alistair Dabbs, 12 Sep 2015
cheating_648

You tried to hide your extramarital affair … by putting it on the web?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? What’s your name, chuck, and where do you come from? “My name’s William, Cilla, but my friends call me WILLY eheh heh heh and I’m from HORNY Hornsea!” (Studio audience cheers noisily for no obvious reason) And you, number two? “My name’s ROD uhuh huh huh, and I’m from uhuh huh huh SHAFTesbury.” (Studio audience …
Alistair Dabbs, 05 Sep 2015

FORKING BitcoinXT: Is it really a coup or just more crypto-FUD?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Bitcoin is about to fork off. Too forking right, some of you may cheer. But a great many Bitcoin “users” – miners, developers, retailers and spenders – are against the idea. If you ask them about it, they’ll tell you they don’t like being forked about. Some of them say they couldn’t be forked. You thought Greece was in turmoil …
Alistair Dabbs, 29 Aug 2015
Two upended shopping trolleys in an alleyway. Photo by Cyron, licensecd under CC 2.0

'Unexpected item in baggage area' assigned to rubbish area

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "Please wait while we verify your bags." Oo-er, sounds a bit rude! Youtube Video In a Carry On film, they’d follow this up with "Ooh nurse, feel my pulse". Or as Butthead might say: "Uh-huh-huh. You said 'verify'. Uh-huh-huh..." After last week's SftWS column was spiked, The Reg was kind enough to re-run one of my old …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Aug 2015

IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Alistair Dabbs is currently hanging upside down in a cave at an undisclosed location. While he slakes his thirst with the blood of those who crossed him, El Reg is re-running one of his timeless classic columns. My wife is looking at online porn again. This can happen accidentally to anyone from time to time, usually while …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Aug 2015
Toilet

All hail Ikabai-Sital! Destroyer of worlds and mender of toilets

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My toilet is working again. I’m sure regular readers are overjoyed to learn this, and I extend a particularly warm welcome from me and my toilet to those reading this Saturday morning’s column while eating breakfast. That first celebratory slash of relief following three consecutive weeks of toilet withdrawal symptoms was …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Aug 2015
Bank vault

Windows 10: Buy cheap, buy twice, right? Buy FREE ... buy FOREVER

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Microsoft wants to give me Windows 10 for free! Hooray for freebies! OK, some of my software no longer launches or works quite the way it’s supposed to, but I got used to that after upgrading to Windows 8, and then again with Windows 8.1. Free software, yay! Give it away, now! Youtube Video To be honest, I only thought about …
Alistair Dabbs, 01 Aug 2015

It’s DEJA VU: Customer forgets to tell us about essential feature AGAIN

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Déjà vu. I’ve just walked into the offices of a prospective new client for the first time and everything looks familiar, from the faux marble cladding and chromed door handles in the reception to the roughened white wallpaper and very specific shade of blue carpet tiles on the main floor. The Matrix - Déjà vu For all their …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Jul 2015