Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Destination Wales: Aber Falls

Last weekend some friends, my other half and I headed over to the north-west corner of the Welsh country. On Sunday, with energy in our legs and some sunshine in the air, our destination was one of the most majestic sights of the Welsh mountains, Aber Falls, or Rhaedr Fawr, as they are called in Welsh. These imposing works of Mother Nature can be found in the foothills of the mountain range Caerneddau.

The closest town is a tiny Welsh village with a name impossible to pronounce, Abergwyngregyn, some 90 miles (145 km) from the English-Welsh border and around 260 miles (420 km) from London.
Once we entered the Coedvdd Aber Nature Reserve, we parked our car and embarked on an uphill hike to the Falls. When you commence at the car park, at Bont Newydd, simply follow a narrow path through a small area of woodland. Emerging from the forest, you follow a clear trail through a charming, green valley. At some point the course splits, offering a choice of routes. Either you continue the path through the valley, or a higher trail through a conifer-cultivated area can be taken. Either way, both end up at the Aber Falls. Along the way you run into ponies and beautiful plants such as wild angelica and lady’s mantle, which are predominantly present in the rock crevices around the cascade because of the continuous moisture. 
Once you have reached the waterfall and the massive waterworks lie in front of you, you cannot avoid being impressed by the streaming masses of the Afon Goch waterway, the actual river, which drops down around 125 feet (40 meters) onto the rocks below.

Apart from the fact that I was impressed and the place gasps tranquility and serenity, it made you feel far away from the chaotic London crowds and crazy south English traffic.  While descending  the hill and making our way back to the car, I could not help detecting a feeling of cheerfulness and satisfaction; we had made a memory.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Facebook criticised over post-logout cookies & data sharing

The social networking website Facebook is under attack in the US over allegedly tracking users' online behaviour after they have logged out and a practice known as 'frictionless sharing'.

On 28 September, Chicago-based law firm Perrin Aikens Davis filed a lawsuit against Facebook, asking a California court to end the use of 'post-logout cookies' on the grounds of alleged violations of federal wiretapping and computer fraud. Facebook has admitted it uses cookies that remain active even after logging out, but said 'it does not store or use [that] cookie data for tracking'. A statement industry experts find hard to believe. 

Nik Cubrilovic, the Australian technologist who exposed Facebook's use of 'post-logout cookies', said: "With my browser logged out of Facebook, whenever I visit any page with a Facebook like or share button, or any other widget, the information is still being sent to Facebook." Some members of the US Congress have urged the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Facebook's use of these cookies. 

In the same week, on 29 September, a collection of advocacy groups asked the FTC to outlaw 'frictionless sharing', a practice in which apps from services and publishers can publish users' activity to their wall, without asking for permission for every post. Mark Rotenberg, Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, called the practice a 'massive invasion of privacy'.

Published previously in the October issue of E-Commerce Law & Policy, London 2011. Copyrights apply at all times.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Domestic dining in suburban Tokyo

During a recent visit to Japan I was invited by the Suzuki family to share a meal with them at their home in Musashi-Kosugi, a suburb of Tokyo in the prefecture of Kanagawa, around 50 mins by train from Shibuya station.

I expected sushi and noodles to dominate the menu, just like it does in most Japanese restaurants overseas, but that could not be further from the truth. The Suzuki's did prepare an extensive range of dishes and snacks, unworthy of the word 'meal' and which classified more as proper 'dining'.

Apart from the fact that everything was freshly prepared and home-cooked, prepared just hours if not minutes before we arrived, there was a number of dishes I had never heard of, prepared with ingredients unknown to me, which resulted in trying a few flavors I'd never tasted before. Among other dishes, the meal included fresh sliced raw fish, sashimi, fermented soybeans, natto, Japanese home-cooked staple and pork cutlets.

Yankee Marley, from California, Alex (a Taiwanese-Canadian) and I could not keep our fingers of the endless range of dishes, bowl after bowl, plate after plate. The Suzuki's hyperactive kids could not stop (nor they were made to) running around the kitchen and constantly jumped up and down the couch, while an enormous television played a surreal gameshow in the background.

While chewing my natto, I came to realise that the Japanese are not only extremely friendly and polite, they simply know how to give you a good time. When I headed back to Central Tokyo later on that night, with tickled tastebuds and a smile on my face, I could only come to one conclusion: Jummy Japanese, you taste like more.