Skype and the telephone interface (10 Aug 2005)
Technically I must say that I'm quite impressed with Skype. The voice quality is good and it even managed to deal with the computer I ran it on - which is behind two NATs.
I think they could have done a little better with the interface however. It's just like a normal telephone system; you call someone and their computer rings. You even get missed calls and the like.
I'd like to see a more asynchronous system. At the moment there's no difference between a call to catch up with someone and an urgent call about the sky falling. I'm discouraged from the former because it's such an interruption and the latter risks getting confused with something less urgent.
So why can't I place a call and tick a box to say "Low priority" and leave a little text message. I set my Skype to low priority and wait. When the other party sets their Skype to low priority I get a dialog saying, do you want to make this call now?
But, of course, I Skype isn't open source.
The role of judges
Mr Howard is echoing the prime minister in calling for judges not to thwart the wishes of Parliament.
That's interesting because, in this country, Parliament (being the Commons, Lords and Monarch) is sovereign. That means that if they say that all due process is rescinded and that all left handed people are to be shot then there's no legal device to stop them.
Therefore Parliament has no need to worry that any judge can overrule them.
So the reason why Howard and Blair are warning the judges is because they want to keep both the Human Rights Act and whatever they are dreaming up at the moment. Having the HRA gives them a warm feeling and the belief that they are better than countries which perform torture in house, as opposed to outsourcing it.
There's no such thing as judges overruling Parliament in this matter. The Commons is just afraid of someone calling them on their contradictions.