Your views and feedback from email and the web
The terrorism question
I don’t doubt that PC Pro will have received many letters relating to Barry Collins’ piece in Viewpoints ( see issue 273, p25) regarding the “excessiveness” of state surveillance with respect to the “real” terrorist threat in the UK, as opposed to the “perceived” threat, but I’m wondering how he would expound that philosophy to the bereaved families of the Manchester bombing.
Barry’s statistical analysis of the mathematical probability of being a terrorism victim lacks the insight to understand the human consequences of terrorism such that the “real” effect of terrorism, on “real” people, is not about cold, hard maths but years, if not decades, of grief, pain and loss. Whilst not reason enough for blanket surveillance of the entire population, selective surveillance, facilitated by access to cryptographic mechanisms, is very necessary to prevent more families suffering this level of pain in the future.
Barry’s analysis is shallow, short-sighted and incomplete as he doesn’t have access to the sort of intelligence picture that our police and security services have in making their case to parliament for surveillance capabilities; these capabilities being operated under tight, legal controls, with parliamentary oversight, and subject to historical investigation at any time.
I look forward to hearing his response. Joe Soap
PC Pro columnist Barry Collins responds: A column such as that is always a hostage fortune, and I don’t wish to sound glib or belligerent in the aftermath of such an appalling attack, but my opinion hasn’t changed. Terrorism is still extremely rare.
Would I let my daughter go to a pop concert tomorrow? Yes, I would. I’d drive her there myself, which is comparatively reckless given the chances of dying on the roads is many thousands of times greater than dying in a terror attack.
Would I want the government to introduce a fresh batch of sweeping surveillance laws in the name of “protecting our children”? No, but I suspect they will and it will glide through parliament, because few politicians will want to be confronted by a grieving parent in a television studio and be told they’re not doing enough.
Would I relish “expounding that philosophy to the bereaved families of the Manchester bombing”? No, I wouldn’t, but as difficult as it would be, I still stand by the argument.
Why the VAT pricing?
I don’t by any means read all the British computer magazines, but I get through six or seven a month, and I’ve been wondering for some time why you are the only one I read that gives two prices for review items: with and without VAT. Do you think that, if we only see the price we pay, we will somehow be worse off? Or perhaps you think that most of your readers are overseas tourists who don’t pay VAT? Since it’s a mildly irritating practice, could you please explain why you do it, and why other magazines suffer because they don’t? And could you broaden your explanation to include your A-List, the items in which only ever show one price, which I assume includes VAT? Why the difference? James Gourley
PC Pro editor-in-chief Tim Danton
replies: We include exc and inc VAT prices because about half our readership uses PC Pro to make business buying decisions, and as I’m sure you know the exc VAT price is the important one for them. For the A-List, with so little space, we make a decision as to which is the most relevant price – inc VAT or exc VAT. So, you’ll find all the back-end network devices have exc VAT prices, whereas products such as phones, where the majority will be bought for personal use, have an inc VAT price.
A two-year reminder
I was just reading the November 2015 issue ( 253) – yes, I have a few to catch up on! In his editorial, Tim eulogises over smartwatches and even uses the replacement of landline analogy, ending up with him asking his watch to remind him in two years.
With your sort-of three-month lead of published edition to the actual month, the reminder must be coming up soon! I and perhaps the other readers might be interested in asking the following questions to Tim: did a reminder pop up, is Stuart wearing a smartwatch and what make?
As a longish term reader, and even longer in the world of computing (my first language at school was CECIL – I’ll let you Google that), watching trends is always of interest. “With the benefit of hindsight, were you right?” is an interesting and often amusing question. I’d like to know Tim’s view two years later. Andrew Chapman
Editor-in-chief Tim Danton replies:
Thanks for the reminder Andrew, albeit a tiny bit early! The exact question I asked of my watch was, “Remind me, in two years’
time, to check which model of watch Stuart’s using”. The answer: he isn’t wearing a smartwatch at all. This both shows how terrible I am at predicting the future and how smartwatches have failed to capture the public imagination. To be honest, unlike Andrew in this month’s Star letter, I don’t see this changing. Those who want a smartwatch have bought one; everyone else is getting on with their life.
I completely fail to understand Chris Moxham’s argument in last month’s Readers’ comments. Yes, the Google Pixel appears overpriced, but here’s the thing: if you think it’s too expensive, don’t buy it. It would be a very different matter if a premium smartphone was an essential (it isn’t)
So, if you want the latest, greatest, or trendiest gadget, then be prepared to pay through the nose
or compulsory (it isn’t) or there were no alternatives (there are). So, if you want the latest, greatest, or trendiest gadget then be prepared to pay through the nose. But nobody is forcing you – if you don’t want to spend that much buy a Lenovo P2 for £200 instead. It will work pretty much the same, it just won’t have the kudos of the Pixel. Mark Pattison
Obsolescence, here I come
I can control my heating, lighting and home security system from my phone, check on my pet when I’m out and even open my garage door. But what happens when Apple or Google makes a fundamental change to one of its mobile operating systems? I’ll end up roasting or freezing, blinded or thrown into darkness, with the garage door permanently stuck either open or closed.
I’m not a luddite, but every time another one-time standalone device gets “smart” and “connected” and I have to control it using my phone, I worry that its lifespan has been drastically cut short. Edward Spire
ABOVE The attack in Manchester has reignited the debate regarding surveillance