Alistair Dabbs

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

Pre-order your early-bird pre-sale product today! (Oh did we mention the shipping date has slipped AGAIN?)

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Good Afternoon, Alistair Dabbs. Do you still write in the direction of Hi-Tech, didn't you? Perhaps you will find fascinating the following information. Yes, I still write in that direction. I am hoped to it finding fascinate. It's easy to mock. If the roles were reversed, who knows what kind of mangled Mandarin I'd be …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Jul 2017

Ten new tech terms I learnt this summer: Do you know them all?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I'll never forget the day I found my children looking at Spam for the first time. My son was particularly perplexed, asking: "Is that what I think it is?" It was my own fault. I had left the tin on the kitchen counter. Even in his tender years, my tech-friendly tweenager was perfectly familiar with spam. But not Spam. He'd …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Jul 2017
View-Master vintage advertisement

What can you do with adult VR, some bronze gears and a robotic thumb? On a Friday?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? A VR headset is pressing down on the bridge of my nose. The strap is pulling out strands of hair from the back of my head. I have bruised shins after walking into a coffee table. This, apparently, is "the closest thing to real sex". I must be doing it wrong. VR, that is. Or sex. Or both. Perhaps not expecting to get bruised …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Jul 2017
steampunk-looking robot smokes pipe. pic shutterstock

On the couch with an AI robo-doc asking me personal questions

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "Tell me about your mother." I should have guessed that was coming. I am on a virtual couch, being diagnosed by a digital psychiatrist. Naturally it's a virtual couch. Being British, I don't own such a thing in real life. I have various other types of soft furniture and even once considered buying one of those reclining …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Jul 2017

Dead serious: How to haunt people after you've gone... using your smartphone

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I will be annoying when I am dead. In fact, I plan to be much more of an irritant after passing away than I am at the moment as the once-dicky ticker continues to clock up the artery miles. How will I inflict annoyance from the grave? Well, I have an app for that. Or at least I will have once it's available on Android: …
Alistair Dabbs, 30 Jun 2017
Wire wastepaper bin filled with scrunched up paper. Photo by Shutterstock

Smart burglars will ride the surf of inter-connected hackability

Something for the Weekend, Sir? What the world needs now is an intelligent dustbin. It would be the pinnacle of achievement for the Internet of Things sector. But wait – it already exists! And in common with its robotic, pseudo-not-actually-AI brethren, it has a suitably daft anthropomorphic moniker. Instead of labelling it with a gender-presumptive name …
Alistair Dabbs, 23 Jun 2017
Thanks, I suppose. Woman contemplates unwanted gift. Photo by Shutterstock

My unpopular career in writing computer reviews? It's a gift

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Nice t-shirt. Where did you get it? "Oh, it was just something they put in the box with the socks." You got a free t-shirt with some socks? "No, the socks and t-shirt came free with the bomber jacket." OK, so you bought a jacket and got a free t-shirt and socks... "The jacket was free as well. It all came with the laptop …
Alistair Dabbs, 09 Jun 2017

The nuclear launch button won't be pressed by a finger but by a bot

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Nothing could hurry Cool Dave. Tall and taciturn, he would make his way around school between classes at his own pace. When he talked, he not so much spoke as delivered a quiet soliloquy in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. Cool Dave looked you in the eye. He spent time considering before answering questions. He never …
Alistair Dabbs, 02 Jun 2017
Ewok

The revolution will not be televised: How Lucas modernised audio in film

Star Wars New Hope @ 40 The opening sequence of Star Wars is designed to give you a jolt. It's heightened by those moments after the legend "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." has faded, leaving you sitting in a silent, pitch-black cinema auditorium. Then kapow – without warning you are blinded by the iconic logo at full screen and made to …
Alistair Dabbs, 26 May 2017
Monty Python TV viewer

Life is... pushing all the right buttons on the wrong remote control

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Mrs Dabbsy is getting cross. I know this because she has said "grrrr". People don't often say "grrrr" in everyday conversation so it's noticeable when they do. Either that or you are inadvertently chatting with Tony the Tiger over a bowl of over-sugared breakfast cereal. The target of The Glowing One's ire (this time) is the …
Alistair Dabbs, 26 May 2017
banksy_hmv_nipper_bazooka_648

Bye bye MP3: You sucked the life out of music. But vinyl is just as warped

Something for the Weekend, Sir? When I was younger, I had a chronic problem with fluff gathering in awkward-to-reach places. What can I say? My personal grooves acquired dirt very easily. It was a teenage thing, I suppose. Neither sterile wipes nor the careful application of a vacuum cleaner seemed to help so I ended up seeking professional advice. A man-in …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 May 2017
Lefty's Bar from Leisure Suit Larry

What augmented reality was created for: An ugly drink with a balloon

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Dabbs (Mrs) and I are in bed. She is shaking my shoulder to wake me up. “Not again,” I groan. “I’ve done it three times already.” Disappointed, she slips out from under the duvet, dons a dressing gown and heads off by herself to locate the source of “the noise downstairs”. Hearing bumps and creaks during the hours of …
Alistair Dabbs, 05 May 2017
Surprised man photo via Shutterstock

Need the toilet? Wanna watch a video ad about erectile dysfunction?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I'm off to the toilet. Would you like to join me? Sorry, that's a silly question. Of course you won't join me – I'm a bloke. Young women often go to the washroom in pairs but dudes generally don't, at least not for the purposes that the washroom was originally designed. And if you are a woman, or non-specific gender, I can …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Apr 2017
The Jetsons Food Machine

(You can't) buy one now! The flying car makes its perennial return

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Stop squeezing my knob. No seriously, I've had enough. "Then you give it a squeeze." OK but not until I'm ready. "You won't get any benefit until you squeeze it," he announces to the dark, crowded room before turning back to me. "Do it now. Go on, give it a quarter-turn to the right." Reluctantly, while everyone else …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Apr 2017

Switch on your smartphone camera and look how fertile I am

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I have cheerful sperm. This will come as a great relief to Register readers, I'm sure, but no doubt you're wondering: how do I know? Ah well, I have an app for that. Medical researchers at Harvard have developed an inexpensive smartphone attachment that measures male fertility. You can appreciate how facile it must be to …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Apr 2017
Toilet with smiling loo paper

Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Everyone is looking at me as I break into a sweat. "Come on, come on," I mutter to my smartphone but already the harrumphing has begun. Why do English people harrumph when they're impatient? They could shout "Hurry up, fool!" or offer to help. But no, they always prefer to make a guttural hissing sound through their noses, …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Apr 2017
Robot on road photo via Shutterstock

Forget robot overlords, humankind will get finished off by IoT

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Car horns symphonise accompanied by a chorus of yelling cyclists as I shimmy on foot through oncoming traffic. Strictly, I come dancing on to the tarmac, cavorting between the lanes, prancing out of the way of motorbikes and generally tripping the traffic light fantastic. Moments earlier, I had been cutting capers along the …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Mar 2017

Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “For heaven’s sake, stop waggling it in my face! Kuh-rist, keep still! Right – you’ve asked for it!” Alerted by the commotion, colleagues struggle to hold me back as I try to give my computer the damn good kicking it deserves. That’s unfair: the computer itself didn’t deserve such rough treatment. More importantly, it is not …
Alistair Dabbs, 24 Mar 2017

Face down in a Shoreditch gutter: Attack of the kickstarting hipster

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I have taken it all off. Would you like to join me? Loosen those straps and let it all slip onto the floor. You might feel naked and not a little bit exposed but no one is watching, I assure you. No really, now that you have removed your wearable tech, this will be the first time for ages that your every move is not being …
Alistair Dabbs, 17 Mar 2017
SHUT UP!

The future of Not Reality is a strap-on that talks to my smarting ring

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My ring smarts. This is only to be expected, having exposed my ring for long periods to the burning sun. More fool me, you’d think, but you’d be wrong. Ensuring my ring is open to the elements is good for my health and well-being. And slipping it onto my finger is surprisingly comfortable. Hang on, what I meant to say was …
Alistair Dabbs, 10 Mar 2017
Cat in headphones. Photo by By Oksana Ashurova/shutterstock

Palmtop nostalgia is tinny music to my elephantine ears

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Up and down, I’m up the wall, I’m up the bloody tree. Yup, this week finds me back on the trail in an unnecessary hunt for inessential portable kit I probably won’t use. It was triggered, as these things usually are, by something I read here on The Register. I should know better than to allow myself to be so easily influenced …
Alistair Dabbs, 03 Mar 2017
Shaun of the Dead

I want it hot and wet – preferably with Wi-Fi

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I came too soon. Normally this is not a problem. Coming early allows me to regather my strength so that I can then go at it, full-on, for the next eight hours. On this occasion, however, I misjudged the situation and came much too soon. As a result I am standing outside on the pavement in the rain instead of sitting in a warm …
Alistair Dabbs, 24 Feb 2017
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

A webcam is not so much a leering eye as the barrel of a gun

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Strip it off!” commands a disembodied voice. “We want to see what you’ve got!” Strangers are watching me all across the Internet, waiting for the big reveal. At least, they would be if they could see anything. I have joined a Skype conference that is to be live-streamed to the general public and, subsequently, edited into a …
Alistair Dabbs, 17 Feb 2017
Magic act, image via Shutterstock

Welcome to my world of The Unexplained – yes, you're welcome to it

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I'm getting funny dreams again. Either that or I have stepped into one of Arthur C Clarke's episodes of Mysterious World of The Unexplained albeit without the Sri Lankan foliage and Eric Morecambe glasses. Inexplicable things have been occurring around me this week. In other circumstances, this might be fun. With the grim …
Alistair Dabbs, 10 Feb 2017

Would you like to know why I get a lot of action at night?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I've been up all night, doing the business like hammer and tongs, going at it again and again. I can be relentless when I'm on the job – a man of action and drama. Of course, there are things I'd rather be doing than trying to get all my work prepared the night before I set off on a business trip. For example, going to bed …
Alistair Dabbs, 03 Feb 2017

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