Saturday, 29 August 2009

Confirmation that I am the ladies choice

Great news! I finally have irrefutable evidence that Ilube is the ladies choice.

I know many of you have thought this for some time, but now there is hard evidence to back it up.

Okay, perhaps that's not the same Ilube. Mind you, it's cooler to be the ladies choice than to be a lubricant for dry eye conditions.

Having said that, I prefer being an eye lubricant than a biomass project in Slovakia or a socio-linguistic research project. But I guess I don't get to make these choices. If you've got a name that lends itself to a wide range of products and services, you get used to it. But for the avoidance of doubt, let me explain where the name ILUBE originally comes from.

To do this, I need to tell you a story that goes back to the tail end of the 19th Century. A young lad in what is now Nigeria, West Africa was hard at work under the hot sun, clearing bush to plant his seeds when he was "seized" by warriors. He was kidnapped, taken hostage by warriors from a rival tribe and taken into captivity.

The boy was dragged off to Urhobo land in modern day Delta State (which reminds me - if any of my Urhobo friends are reading this WILL YOU PEOPLE PLEASE STOP KIDNAPPING MY ANCESTORS!).

The young lad grew up amongst these Urhobo people as a captive/servant and he eventually married a local Urhobo/Itsekiri woman called Inene from a town called Okpara Waterside.

The couple's first three children were born there. Their second child, and first son, was a boy who was named, Oritseritseilubeye, which is an Itsekire name. Snappy name I know, and for day to day use it was shortened to ILUBE - a ha!

The couple settled down and engaged in fishing and trading commodities (not as in "BUY GOLD, SELL OIL" on the international markets but "buy fish, sell bananas" in the local market). At the time Inene was pregnant with their third child.

However, one day the captive lad who was now a grown man was at the market in Abraka when he overheard some traders speaking in his own language, Emai, that he had not heard for many years. After several months he plucked up courage to cultivate their acquaitance and eventually disclosed his true identity and how he came to be in this strange and distant place so far from "home".

This is now the first half of the 20th century and British Colonial administration was gradually creating an environment that made it more conducive for displaced persons, refugees, prisoners of inter-ethnic wars and slaves to migrate back to their ethnic areas.

Our hero determined to try to gain his release from his captors and make his way home. With his wife heavily pregnant, the local "Oracles" were consulted and revealed a surprising insight. The Oracles claimed that the unborn child would refuse to be born until a solemn promise was made that the child would be taken to its father's land.

This caused much panic particularly amongst Inene's family and in the circumstances Inene and her people, after a number of family conferences, eventually gave in and agreed that after the child was born, the family would be allowed to leave. The child, Itakhor, therefore agreed to be born and everything went smoothly.

However about 6 months after Itakhor's birth there was still no sign of the captors releasing the man and his family and Itakhor fell ill and refused to respond to the usual medication.

The Oracles were again consulted and not surprisingly the unfilfilled promise was quickly identified as the root cause for the child's illness. Rapid arrangements were made and, as the Oracles predicted, the child quickly recovered, so the family set off on the epic trip on foot through dangerous terrain back to Emai land. The baby Itakhor was strapped on to Inene's back, as is the custom, and young Oritseritseilubeye sat astride his fathers shoulders. The family set off at a pace set by the little daughter and oldest of the three children, Uledikun, on a dangerous journey that took several weeks, following a route and directions obtained from the Emai traders.

Years later Oritseritseilubeye or Ilube for short, now settled back in Emai-land, had children of his own and as is sometimes done, his sons decided to take his first name as their surname, thereby establishing the Ilube family. One of his sons is my father and you may not believe it but I actually met the lady Inene when I was very young and she was very, very, very old, blind and simply terrifying.

So now you know the origins of the name Ilube. Mind you, that's not to say that I was wrong in my starting assumption. Oh yes, I'll say it again for the hard of hearing. I am indeed the ladies choice :)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Talking to strangers

Internet security types, like me, are always advising people to be wary about who you are talking to on the Web. We advise parents to tell their children not to talk to strangers, and rightly so. In particular we try to advise teenagers about "stranger danger".

So, why was I not surprised when I was told about a fairly new site, set up by a teen for teens that is sweeping across that generation like crazy.

Enter Omegle - tagline "Talk to Strangers". Yes, it's a site that encourages you to chat to strangers on the web immediately without any controls, restricitions, nanny-words about being safe etc. Just dive straight in and chat to strangers about nothing. Waste hours chatting to strangers.

At the same time as being slightly "creepy" it is a great lesson in targeting customer needs, if you are thinking of creating a start up. Start with your customer, in this case teenagers, and think about their requirements. Two stand out. One - Annoy your parents by doing the exact opposite of what they tell you to do. Two - achieve this whilst wasting time in an entirely non-productive way.

It's wierd and compelling and apparently loads of kids use it in an idle moment. Sitting near your computer and mind wandering? Reach over to Omegle, click the button, chat to a stranger amongst millions somewhere in the word. If it gets boring, disconnect and carry on staring at the lightbulb. Brilliant ! And spooky! No wonder its so popular.

It's interesting to see how kids use it too. They are quite brutal. If the conversation is threatening, wierd or boring they just press the "disconnect" button and start another chat with a new stranger. Perhaps there is some useful learning going on here on how to deal with annoying strangers online - you disconnect them without a second thought.

I was explaining it to some of my technical colleagues and they were dubious. They said they think you are not chatting to a real stranger. They think you are chatting to a robot, a piece of simple artificial intelligence software that is able to engage in a fairly believable conversation by reflecting comments back to you. So I thought I would put this to the test. Here's what I got (I am YOU and the stranger is STRANGER).

Omegle conversation log


Connecting to server...

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!

A word of advice: "asl" is boring. Please find something more interesting to talk about!

Stranger: hi

You: hi, are you a real person or a computer?

Stranger: i'm a real person u idiot! :)

Stranger: female or male?

You: yeh, that's what a bot would say

Stranger: haha

Stranger: okay then how are u doing?

You: i'm doing wednesday, u?

Stranger: not so much really..... what is wednesday?

You: i'm pretty certain you are a computer program

Stranger: okay then i dont want to talk to a person who thinks that i'm a computer program!! see u

You: hey don't go!

Stranger: why?

You: i am from the future

Stranger: haha! u are not funny

Stranger: are u a male?

You: sometimes, but only after 6am and on green days

Stranger: are u sure u are okay?? because it doesn't sound like that to me..... call a doctor!!

You: i am a doctor

Stranger: yeah..... how old are u... doctor?

You: the square root of pi minus the height of the moon

You have disconnected.

So, was I talking to a person or a Bot? I think it was a person but I'm still not 100% sure. Have a play with it and let me know what you think. Horrific or harmless fun? And if you get arrested for grooming teenagers don't blame me!