Do not be so proud of this technological terror…

Let’s get the recommendations out of the way first.

Over at Comment is Free, AC Grayling does a fine job of dismantling Tony Blair’s defence of ID cards, on which I’ll have a little more to say in due course. Henry Porter, writing on the same subject, is of course well worth reading too.

Meanwhile, Mr Eugenides not only makes a long overdue appearance on my blog roll but provides a glorious fisk of Polly Toynbee’s ‘me too’ response to Blair’s comments that is perceptive, beautifully constructed and uproariously funny in a manner entirely befitting the host of the Swearbloggers round-up…

Finally, as for the fatuous Tesco point (we already know what you buy, Polly; you buy carrots from the organic section, whittle them into passable facsimiles of Gordon Brown’s cock, and then shove them up your sopping minge; but it’s never enough, is it, Pol? “Nnnnng! Nnnnggg! More! I’ve had enough of trickle-down! There are huge holes that need to be filled with hard cash NOW! Gyuuuuuuh! Spend on me, Gordon! Spend as much as you can! Yes! Yeeeeeerrrrrrss!”)

Hopefully, by now, you’ve managed to stop choking and cleaned-up the coffee you’ve just spluttered uncontrollably over your keyboard, in which case I can finally get around to my own comments on Polly Pot’s article.

There really is no purpose to be served by following humbly in the wake of the genius of Mr Eugenides and trying to add my own fisk. Why seek to improve on perfection when one knows in advance that one will fail?

All of which leaves only one useful point of debate, that of how and why a newspaper columnist who, if reports are correct, earns the princely sum of £140,000 a years for visiting her lovingly crafted golden showers of wisdom on the unsuspecting readership of the Guardian, should manage to turn in such a piss-poor piece of commentary.

The answer, if one has followed the ID cards debate in any detail, is a painfully simple one – she is by any possible measure one could apply here, commenting from a position of complete and abject ignorance on the subject matter at hand – or to put it a tad less gently, she hasn’t got the first fucking clue what she’s talking about.

If you’ve not followed the link to her article, take the time to do so now… and remember that but for the occasional high days and holidays, dear old Polly Pot turns in two such articles a week, which means approximately 100 a year. So what you’re reading amounts to £1400 worth of steaming bullshit with all the usual stench and none of the horticultural benefits.

And how do we know that Polly is talking out of her arse – apart from the obvious reason (It’s Polly!).

Well aside from her absurd reliance on three year old statistics to show public support for ID cards, which (inconveniently) are compromised not only by age but by the little matter of the 77% of those who responded to the MORI poll in question by also pointing out that they knew next to fuck all about ID cards at the time the poll was taken, the real big giveaway is that, throughout the whole piece, she appears to rely solely and exclusively on the opinions of one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, of London (England) as sole and exclusive authority for her arguments, a man well known in technical circles for his self-admitted inability to cope with the task of sending of a fucking e-mail.

It would be unfair, of course, to suggest that Polly has rather missed the point in writing her article, but only because she’s congenitally incapable of recognising the fucking point in the first place, nowhere more so that in her observation that:

Certainly, the accuracy of information is vital – everyone needs the right to check and amend their records. But the chance of errors will be lessened, not increased, as technology advances.

Technology does, indeed, ‘advance’ over time, however as anyone who has ever worked professionally in a technical discipline, particularly in information technology, knows all too well, this has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the validity and accuracy of information held in large-scale database systems.

Now, being a jargon-friendly profession with a suitably mystifying propensity for creating acronyms for every conceivable occasion, one might well expect that IT professionals have their own precise terminology and explanation for such a phenomenon… and indeed we do – in fact we have quite a few, of which one in more common use is referred to as a ‘PBCAK’ error, a term which as any suitably experienced BOFH knows, is a direct and extremely apt reference to the primary cause of data validation, integrity and accuracy errors in any computer system.

What? Oh, you want to know what PBCAK stands for?

Okay, well to start with we need to get you through the initiation ceremony – you didn’t think I was just going to let you in on the secrets of the professional without some sign of commitment, did you?

So, you just roll up your trouser leg (the left one, obviously) and wait right there while I nip off and fetch the contract, quill pen and craft knife… oh, before I forget, you don’t happen to a black cockerel handy do you? Sorry, but I do have to ask, you understand… that nice Mr Beelzebub in Accounts gets most upset if we don’t complete all the paperwork in the proscribed manner…

…Okay, okay. Yes, I am kidding.

Look PBCAK stands for nothing more complicated than ‘Problem Between Chair And Keyboard’, a cause of error also known by its serial number, which is ID-10-T.

Yes, it really is that simple – and Mr Beelezebub will be round later with the paperwork – all we’re talking about here is plain old-fashioned human error and, by extension, that unique and singular commodity that is both infinitely renewable and always in more than sufficient supply – human stupidity.

It doesn’t matter how advanced technology gets, if there’s a human in the loop anywhere in the system then there is human error and this will be so for as long as the sun shines, the world turns on its axis, bears shit in the woods and people have holes in their arses.

It has been said, wrongly, for many years that there are only two certainties in life: Death and Taxes. There are actually three certainties: Death, Taxes, and the fact that if you let a user anywhere within typing distance of computer system, they’ll manage to fuck something up and usually within the first five minutes.

There is, however, a further certainty in life, the existence of which has only recently been postulated, this being that editoral staff at the Guardian are alrady fully aware of the fundamental nature of the PBCAK error…

… because she insists in writing articles for them every Tuesday and Friday.

One thought on “Do not be so proud of this technological terror…

  1. We know there are forces of conservatism, but TB and PT are draining that point of its meaning with this stuff. To be honest I only needed to hear the word “modernity” from TB – the fundamental illiberalism naturally follows in a way we’re all familiar with.
    Well, at least now I know what BOFH means 🙂

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