Friday, April 25, 2008

More biometric bollocks from the British government

So now Britain is introducing a pilot scheme at British airports, where a facial recognition system attempts to automatically confirm that you have the same face as the one that is stored as biometric data in your new passport.

Aside from the the obvious big reason why biometric ID is a bad idea, there is another problem with this new scheme. You see, the last time I checked with somebody who knows a bit about facial recognition technology and has done some work in the field (viz. me) I found out that the current state of the art in the field is, to put it bluntly, shit.

But what about this pearler - "The technology will err on the side of caution and is likely to generate a small number of "false negatives". I'll bet it bloody will - but I'll also bet that their definition of a 'small number' is different to mine!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ian Lau visit

Lau came over to visit us this weekend for some climbing and some r&r after a busy few months involving lots of work and breaking his leg. Ouch. Still he is recovering well, and we had a couple of good days of sport climbing. Unfortunately we the weather was a bit ropey and we couldn't do the 12 pitch E1 we wanted to get on at Montserrat, but we spent an interesting day at Pas de la Mala Dona, a rather unconventional crag, in that the 'ground' is actually the top of a large concrete 'tunnel' built to protect the train track below! To make it even more bizarre, it is a sea cliff, and so this 'ground' area extends 5m from the base of the cliff, before dropping abruptly into the sea! The climbing is actually very good, mostly in the 6s, apart from the 'sector cueva' which has a handful of 7s and 8s.

I'm getting into the whole taking-a-video-on-the-mobile-thing now, so here's one I took of the place. If you look carefully, you might just see a certain Ian Lau allowing himself to be on camera. Shock!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cavall Bernat Montserrat

Last weekend Jo Bertalot came to visit and we went out on Saturday to climb one of Catalunya’s famous peaks, the Cavall Bernat of Montserrat. It’s the obvious, err, finger, in the photo above. There are several routes to its summit, including an amenable 3 pitch grade 5 on the south face, but we plumped for the longest of the lot: a 300m, 8 pitch expedition up the north face. It is basically shaped like a giant scoop, with the first pitches being little more than scrambling, but then they get gradually steeper and harder as you reach the top! It was a great day out, though we did get royally whipped on the penultimate pitch, which was very stiff indeed for 6c+. Post-route discussion with Ferran suggests that there are some hidden holds further to the left – now he tells us!!

Here’s a video of your two heroes on top of the world, and with a funny steel statue to prove it: