Alistair Dabbs

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing.

How IT are you? Find out now in our HILARIOUS quiz!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Gor blimey guv. I jus’ bin dahn the ol’ rub-a-dub for a pokey alright sparrah do us a lemon John. Fret not, faithful reader. Be comforted that I have neither succumbed to Dickvandykitis nor do I have any compulsion to “do the old bamboo” – a suspicious euphemism if ever I heard one. I am merely rejoicing in being told that I …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Apr 2016
Daniel Craig and Dabbsy

I am sending pouting selfies to a robot. Its AI is well buff

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I like to pick roses on a summer’s day and meeting friends. I dearly wish for world peace. I hope to work with children, just as soon as I have completed my doctorate in astrophysics. Not really, but I am in training. I am about to enter a beauty contest. At the risk of slipping back into my default double-entendre mode, it’s …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Apr 2016
Scotty in the original Star Trek

Field technicians want to grab my tool and probe my things

Something for the Weekend, Sir? There’s a woman at the front door. She has come to twiddle my knobs. Here we go, you’re thinking: yet another puerile SftWS column opening with cheap sexual innuendo. Well, not this time, young Bucky. It’s been four years almost to the day since I first began writing these weekly rantings, so it’s about time I put an end to …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Apr 2016
Man types something into Mac while sipping a glass of lemon water. Not a brilliant idea. Photo by SHutterstock

Which keys should I press to enable the CockUp feature?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The person sitting next to me has confessed that sometimes he likes to do it sideways. Apparently this way he can make use of the full length without straining his neck. He’s lucky: not everyone has the facility to rotate their computer display. Even those that do often don’t realise they can. A manager I worked for quite a …
Alistair Dabbs, 01 Apr 2016
Nokia old-school diddy phone

Let’s re-invent small phones! Small screens! And rubber buttons!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “You know what they say about people with small hands?” Yes I do: according to the Museum of Carry On Jokes, they are favoured by women with small breasts. Or men with a tiny schmeckel. It must be frustrating to be excluded from high society for having smaller-than-average hands. For example, did you notice the glaring paucity …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Mar 2016
Rafael Lozano_Hemmer: Surface Tension (1992)

Electronic Superhighway 2016-1966 – a retro: Texts, ar*se and ASCII rolls

Pics A large photo of a woman's bottom greets you as you walk in. Chat messages are emerging from it. Not to worry, it's only Olaf Breuning's mischievous "Text Butt" (2015). Immediately to your left is Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige's Geometry of Space (2014), a mixed-media installation comprising stretched oxidised steel, …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Mar 2016
Woman angrily hangs up phone. Photo via Shutterstock

Web ads are reading my keystrokes and I can’t even spel propperlie

Something for the Weekend, Sir? A friend has the willies. He even went on Facebook to tell us about his willies. He’s not normally the kind to get the willies, but willies is what he has. American readers of this column may be disappointed to learn that my friend is neither a fellow of loose morals nor is he, as far as I am aware, multitudinally …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Mar 2016

You say I mustn’t write down my password? Let me make a note of that

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My desk-side wastepaper basket is full. OK, sure, first world problems and all that, but it’s 8am and I have only just walked in to the office. Why would my bin be full? I haven’t put anything in it yet. Despite being full, this bin does not contain what an office bin is supposed to contain: there’s no half-full coffee cup, …
Alistair Dabbs, 11 Mar 2016

Everything bad in the world can be traced to crap Wi-Fi

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Ah, it’s sod’s law,” murmurs the person sitting next to me. I nod agreeably. It was inevitable. I am attending a brief awards ceremony for student journalists prior to this year’s Hugh Cudlipp lecture. Young journos, we were reminded, were masters of digital content and were making their names through the use of social media …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Mar 2016

My devil-possessed smartphone tried to emasculate me

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My left testicle is bruised. Next to me, my wife is looking at me with a surprised expression. Once the stars fade from my eyes, I realise I have just screamed out loud like a little girl. Given what had just happened to my testicles, I almost became a little girl. I really must try to remember to adjust the position of my …
Alistair Dabbs, 26 Feb 2016

The paperless office? Don’t talk sheet

Something for the Weekend, Sir? A report has arrived in my email inbox, claiming to provide information on “the paperless office”. Instinctively, I check the calendar. No, it isn’t 1985. Perhaps I misread the subject line? Nope. There it is: “the paperless office”. Ah bless. I’ve heard people talking about the concept of office work without paper since my …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 Feb 2016

Send tortuous stand-up ‘nine-thirty’ meetings back to the dark ages

Something for the Weekend, Sir? It begins with a murmur. Despite my best attempts to ignore it for as long as possible, the indistinct mumbling gradually becomes intelligible, forcing me to pay attention. “Is it now?” I glance at my watch surreptitiously as being seen to do so could make it difficult later to claim ignorance of the time. I shrink down, don …
Alistair Dabbs, 12 Feb 2016

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 /

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