Everyday Computing, Features

At Most Once

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

YOU may not notice, but your network-connected smartphone or laptop will contact other computers, known as servers, by sending messages. By sending messages to each other, the server and your computer will correctly coordinate to do some useful work, such as: updating your email, refreshing your calendar, or synchronizing the time on your computer.

If faults caused these messages to be lost or repeated, you might notice incorrect results, such as: an incomplete list of your emails or appointments. You may not appreciate being charged twice for making a single phone call, or online bill payment, or fund transfer.

Such behaviour may be described as having at most once semantics.

We could also apply such thinking to improve our community and our everyday lives. Recently reported in the local news, were events that we should not allow to recurr, due to their enormity. Those events include:

* The gang rape and robbery of two teenage females within their own home;
* The death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child despite seeking medical attention at a hospital;
* The death of a four-year-old child-abuse victim, who died of severe brain damage and head injury, despite being treated previously;
* The story of a man who cheated death after being sucked into an open manhole by swirling floodwaters;
* The unfortunate drowning of another man, who was carried away in a raging river.

Unsurprisingly, these events and others, have stirred a public outcry. Notwithstanding the ongoing investigations taking place, it seems that a policy of continuous vigilance, followed by prompt action, would be helpful.

If we somehow miss the warnings signs (see previous article “Warning Signs” of 05-Nov-2015), and a dreadful event or near-miss occurs, should we delay taking corrective measures?

Some example of corrective actions:
* Improving social circles, home technology, and robust legal responses to deter crime;
* Encouraging all victims to report attacks, and recognising their bravery;
* Uncovering true crime figures by accepting anonymous reports made via a trusted proxy, or a JP;
* Introducing screening programmes and proactive intervention measures for at-risk groups;
* Installing emergency flotation and rescue devices near fast-flowing river locations.

For comparison, perhaps you could produce your own list of corrective measures. In any case, it would be a tragedy for further harm to occur without some corrective action being taken.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

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