* Posts by Tony

182 posts • joined 13 Nov 2007

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Somerset County Council to review 'shambolic' SAP system

Tony

Slow and Painful

Interesting that so many respondants chose to remain anonymous? I used to, but I no longer care what anyone thinks. (Working with SAP does that to you) I would be happy to put my full details and they can then all go and KMHA

I say this because we are implementing SAP, and I fall in the category that don't like it. Yes it has it's good points and I can see that some of these make sense. But it is a bugger to implement, and with respect to the comments about working out of the box, there are very few companies that could use it that way.

Based upon the amount of work that we've done and the money that we have spent (and still not yet working), it really would have been better and quicker to have employed a couple of programmers and written an application inhouse which would have done the job for us in the way that we need (and probably a lot cheaper as well). The thing that really annoys me is that most of the problems were predicted 2 years ago and suggestions made to try to prevent them; but hey, I'm only the IT manager, why would I know anything.

We are working with a smaller consultancy - however, we've still had in excess of 40 consultants working on the project (I've actually lost count). Of those, I would suggest very few of them really knew what they were doing (perhaps a quarter?) And it's quite clear that they are not communicating very effectively with each other which is causing major issues.

But ultimately you need to understand that the business model of SAP is not about selling software or an application - it is very much about sellling the consultancy and other services. That's where they make their money, and it ain't gone change anytime soon.

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Tories, LibDems under election day cyberattack?

Tony

@AC Tried to Vote

Please don't think I'm trying to teach you to suck eggs.

They usually do have large B&W signs outside saying "Polling Station", sometimes more than one. Many of them will have been set-up last night - although in some areas they don't for fear of vandalism. If the local officer in charge decides that the building is sufficiently off of a main thoroughfare, they may also have additonal directional signs pointing the way.

You will normally also see a uniformed police officer on duty - however, they may be inside. Their duty is to ensure that there is no voter intimidation taking place. You will often see other people hanging around outside - they must NOT approach you on the way in (this can be an offence), but can do so on the way out to ask how you voted, but you are at liberty to tell them to MTODB.

Please note that to vote, you must be registered; it is truly surprising how many people don't understand this. If you are registered then as Tim points out, you will have received a card. If you have not received it by 2 days before, you are supposed to contact the designated department at the local council.

It is possible that if something has gone wrong, and you are not registered, you may still be allowed to cast a vote, but you will need to speak to the the local staff as soon as possible. If they won't help, then I would suggest that you contact one of the election candidates; if they think that they might pick up a vote (and especially if they expect it to be a close election) they will do what they can to ensure that you get the chance.

When you get inside, read the instructions posted on a noticeboard carefully; in many cases, there will be a simple ballot, but sometimes (as it will be today), there may be more than one ballot paper. Sometimes you mark one candidate, other times you select more than one. Failure to follow the correct procedure will invalidate the paper - however, you may choose to deliberately do this to make a "protest" vote if you so choose; it is your vote after all.

In large areas, they may separate people by area, by letter of surname - my local station will have only a few people so the electoral officers may actually outnumber the voters at any given time! If you have your registration card it will make the process easier; if not then try to take some identification. They will emboss the ballot paper(s) to prevent fraud and hand them to you; if you are still not sure what the process is for filling in the ballot, you may ask those people to explain. Please note, you should NOT approach anyone else - this could result in you being ejected and being disallowed from voting.

They may require you to wait to enter a polling booth if it is particularly busy. They generally don't mind people chatting, but be careful that you aren't seen to be trying to influence anyone else.

When you enter the booth, there should be a pencil for marking the paper; if it is broken, you should immediately inform the staff. If you see any abandoned papers, hand them over to the staff. Mark your papers to cast your vote, then exit the booth and place the papers in the designated box as quickly as possible; do not hand them to anyone else.

Being allowed to vote is a tremendous privilege and one that people often take too lightly. Remember that many people have died in order that you might be allowed to have a say in how things are run in this country.

Above all, enjoy exercising your franchise - but remember it doesn't end with just voting in an election.

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Welsh mum amazed by Marmite Messiah

Tony
Happy

@ J

"No clue what that is like."

Marmite was developed as a by product of the brewing industry - it's thick gunge of the consistency of axel grease with a salty, yeasty taste. Most popular on toast although it can used in other ways. Very popular after the war as it wasn't rationed and is packed full of nutrients.

Sometimes popular with pregnant women (I've seen one licking table spoons full of the stuff). Personally, I can take it or leave it, but most people either really hate it or really love it - in fact their advertising is based entirely around that concept.

For me though, it has to be Bovril - that's the stuff to give the troops. Spread on bread, added to gravy, used as a basting agent - my favourite is turned into a hot drink (just add boiling water) then slap a good old dash of sherry into it. That's what built an empire!

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Gov spunks hundreds of thousands on mobe condom clip

Tony

NSFW - or those of a sensitive disposition

I have an answer to reducing teenage pregnacies. It's quite cheap as well; just £1:20 a pop.

You take two standard house bricks, one horny young male, place the bricks either side of his genitals then bring them sharply togther.

Doesn't it hurt? Only if you catch your fingers!

When I was at school, we had 2 lessons in the first year to tell us that rabbits do it, 2 lessons in the fith year to suggest that (whisper this) some married humans might consider doing it once a year in the bedroom, (with the lights off of course) and then 2 lessons in the sixth form to highlight what bits would drop off if we did do it.

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BNP DDoS 'mega-assault' not actually mega in the least

Tony
Joke

@ Steve Anderson

"Anyone "Anglo Saxon and proud" with a BNP leaning can bugger off back to Germany any time they like and leave us happy Liberal Celts behind, thanks."

Ummmm - The original inhabitants of these scepter'd isles were the Picts. The Celts were also invaders. But by the time that the Angles & the Saxons arrived, the Celts had already interbred with the Romans, the idigenous PIcts, various other races that the Romans brought with them, such as East Europeans, North Africans, as well as the various Mediteraneans.

Basically, we are a mongrel race. But that's OK, because most mongrels are far tougher than the thoroughbreds.

And of course, if we want to be picky, we all came from Africa anyway.

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Junk email volumes hit high

Tony

Not only, but also....

A couple of weeks ago, we were subject to a mail bombing - over 100,000 in under 24 hours. And our mail provider is uh..... Message Labs.

Worse, even though we set things up to block the mail, it still kept returning - I finally lost my temper with them and eventually they did get it sorted. But we had received around 400k of the bloody things, and they had stuffed the firewall and the router for good measure.

Still, it's all died off now - till next time

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BNP pleads for cash after reported DDoS assault

Tony

Really?

""BNP website [was] taken offline in largest cyber attack in recorded history" and of a scale seen only once before in a 2001 attack against Microsoft."

Not sure whether to put this down to sheer arrogance, complete petulance, total ignorance or just utter bollocks.

And as for asking for money.... just tell him to wait until he is an MP and then he can reclaim it all on expenses!

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Hacks and IT workers boozing themselves silly

Tony
Coat

Real Estate?

If I'm not mistaken, the phrase "real estate" actually came about from the Spanish - Real being the Spanish word for Royal. All of the American "Realtors" are actually working for King Juan Carlos without knowing it!

Mines the one from Red Blazer Reality - the one that used to have M Simpson on it.

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Europe, Russia discuss 'orbital shipyard' plans

Tony

Only one name..

..for such a facility. The Skywalker shipyards.

Only problem is that ILM got there first - do you think that they would be happy to share, or will they want loads of dosh (or free trips up for all their staff)

Go on, say it, you know you want to. (Nerd alert)

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Ireland's 'most romantic man' is complete w*nker

Tony
Boffin

@ Uncle Slacky

"The sin of Onan was surely just the penalty for early withdrawal (God ordered him to have sex with his sister-in-law IIRC and he wasn't too keen), not actually bashing the bishop..."

I see your argument, but ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onan

I would highlight "The narrative implies that Onan didn't object to the sex itself, but performed coitus interruptus, spilling his seed upon the ground"

The actual interpretation is the subject of rabbinical arguments - however, the general view seems to be that the release of semen for other than procreation is abhorrent and sinful. And that is what the sin of Onan refers to - any release other than for full intercourse which would include masturbation.

E.g. "The sin of Onan. Spilling the old seed on the ground. Cuffing the camel. Dusting the donkey. Flogging the Pharisee. Onanism, a sin that requires hundreds of hours of practice to get right, or at least that's what I told myself."

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Tony
Happy

That's why I read El Reg

It's been a really shitty day. No a really, REALLY shitty day.

Then I read The Register to find out what is going on outside of the asylum to read such masterpieces of comment as these on a story of a man induging in the sin of Onan:

"beat off stiff opposition"*

"working himself to the bone".

Please don't ever stop - cleaning small bits of apple off my monitor is a small price to pay.

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Banned US shock-jock demands Clinton intervention

Tony

He has a right..

..to say whatever he likes. No one is interfering with that.

He can go wherever he likes in the US as he is a US citizen; and no one (as far as I am aware) is interefering with his right to do so.

However, he has no specific right to come to the UK (or any other country) - any government can choose to close their border to any individual and they actually don't have to give a specific reason, although they generally do.

Prior to this, I had never heard of the man - and really not bothered if I don't hear about him again.

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Atlantis blasts off for final Hubble repair job

Tony

Astro_mike

I'm a sad,sad person - I signed up to twitter, then found that one of the astonauts has been posting tweets about his preparation for the mission. It'e been really quite fascinating and he has given a really good insight into what's been going on.

He has said that he is going to try to send some more from up there.....

Vision of someone floating around shouting into a mobile "I'm on the shuttle - no, I said I'm ON THE SHUTTLE".

Bet he's not using Vodafone.

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Brown red in face after blusher found in cab

Tony

@dedmonst

"*please* stick to IT stories"

I understand your feelings, but I think that this does have an IT angle.

Don't forget that these people are the ones that are intent on spending billions of pounds (yes that's billions with a Buh, not millions with a Muh) on an IT system that they insist is absolutely essential, will be totally secure, and will make everyone's lives better - and yet they cannot even get to grips with the most basic of security processes. I think that it is highly appropriate for a technology based web site to point out these flaws.

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Virgin Media pilots 200Mbit service

Tony

At all the VM bashers

2Mbs - I dream of speeds like that. BT have given me 2 yogurt pots and a bit of string. They did get me up to 1.4 Mbs download for about a week, but I'm back down to averaging under 300K and the packet loss is about 1 in 10. That's when it actually connects - there are whole days when I can't connect to the Internet.

It's so bad that on bank holiday Monday, I gave up after half an hour and went into to work - I got the job done in 10 minutes.

Digital Britain my arse.

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UK's national grid 'ready' for e-car expansion

Tony

Hmmm....

There have been a number of other reports that might throw this one into doubt. For example, we know that we will be losing several power stations in the next few years as they have to close due to their age, and they don't yet have replacements nor will have in the next decade. In fact, I understand that the UK already has to buy electric from France on a very regular basis (like daily).

However, I would like to have an electric car one day...

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Police want new remote hard drive search powers

Tony

@Homard

"Does the original drive image and the forensically examined image get checksummed before and after the forensics to verify no foul play "

Yes it does; specifically for the reason you supply. But even so, many cases never make it to court due to a procedural error such as this.

"Also who stores the original drive "

There are specific processes - the same as for any forensic examination of a normal crime. The evidence is secured using a tamper evident method and held in a secure room. (Not always at a police station I'm told due to the amount they have seized).

When evidence is moved - for example to go to a specialist investigator, they have specific processes to allow a tracking of the evidence so that a record exists of who had it and when. If anything happens to that evidence, then it should be possible to state when it happened.

For info, I know this because I have had training in forensics, although I don't actually work in in this area (I'd like to - I find it fascinating)

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Tony

Forensics

@AC 12:01 - you are correct, the ACPO guidelines say that any disk seized should be imaged, and it is the image that they examine, not the original drive.

@AC 11:48 - the ACPO guidelines are there specifically to ensure that a correct procedure is followed. If it cannot be shown that the evidence is untampered with (e.g. it's the image that has been examined) then it is inadmissable and the case is probably going to get thrown out of court.

Having read the article a couple of times, it seems to me that the problem is that they are short of trained personnel. It makes no matter where the disk is - if they don't have the trained bodies to do the work, they either have to get others in or use untrained personnel. If they use untrained personnel, then it is highly likely they won't use correct procedures - and the vidence will be suspect at best.

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ASBO woman cuffed over raucous rumpy-pumpy

Tony
IT Angle

My ex - neighbour

... used to be a bit on the loud side. She kept the bedroom windows open, and on a Sunday morning, people walking their dogs would stop to allow their pets to take a widdle and listen to the various moans and groans. I did suggest that I should keep some scoreboards to hand out so that they could indicate what they thought on a scale of 1 to 10.

The funny thing is that when I moved, I rented the house out to a young lady. She has her boyfriend over occasionally (OK a bit more often that that) and when I bumped into my ex-neighbour, she was complaining about the noise my tenant makes with her boyfriend!

Meanwhile, the best that I can do is play my old Donna Summer records ("On the Radio" extended mix) - and I'm betting that half of the el Reg readers haven't a clue what I mean by that! Damn I'm old.

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US declares 'public health emergency' over swine flu

Tony

@AC 11:26

"Facemasks" + "Facemasks = cheap, simple, and very effective solution"

Partly true - however, only whilst they remain dry. If they get wet, then they are of no protection. If you watch, hospitals use them, but they get replaced very frequently. I suppose that you could wet them down in advance with some anti-bacterial solution, but that may not work all the time either.

The issuing of facemasks to the general population is mostly about making people feel that they are protected so they will carry on working - otherwise the economy goes down the pan when they all stay at home. (No comments about being where we are at the present)

In most western countries, people make very few preparartions for any sustained period of threat - I understand that on average, people have less than 5 days food in the house.

http://www.doorsofperception.com/archives/2009/03/london_yield.php

The article in the link is based upon an item that first appeared in the Daily Mail; they treated it in a sensationalist way, but it is actually quite a genuine issue.

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Darling supports broadband by raiding Granny's digital fund

Tony

@AC 9:6

"Those who choose to live in the sticks normally drive 4x4s "

Actually, we don't; nor do we all drive tractors. In fact, by far the majority of 4x4 drivers live in nice comfortable suburbs. These are also the same smug twerps that buy all the spare housing in villages, pushing up the prices so that the locals can't afford to do so, and don't spend any money in the area, so all of the local facilties get closed down.

Then when they do go down for their 3 weekends a year, they bitch like hell, because some town / city council has done a deal with the rural council to dump all of their waste in that area. What pisses me off is that I am having to pay extra on my council tax because the unitary authority is accepting waste from a city 100 miles away. In other words, I am subsidising your garbage. And I would also suspect that I am subsiding your clean drinking water.

"Access to 2Mbit broadband is not exactly essential"

It could also be argued that electricity is not essential. But in the modern world, both things are now seen as important to the functioning of a civilised society.

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Budget reaction: Credit insurance good, all else bad

Tony

@John Smith

"Why could they have not been honest?"

John, I admire your refreshing innocence.

How can you tell when a politician is lying? You can see his / her lips move!

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Nominet governance review questions not-for-profit status

Tony

Nominet

Having had to actually deal with Nominet a couple of times in the past year, I would not agree that they do a particularly good job. Their communications were no better than average, and in some cases, actually misleading. They also seem to interpret their own rules as it suits them and their members rather than applying them equally.

I would agree that changes need to be made - it seems clear that there are a number of areas where they apply their own processes specifically to suit their members interests first, rather than those of the rest of the UK.

However, I seriously doubt that they will take on board any real criticism, and any changes that they make will be at best, limited.

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Tory terror police were 'fishing' for Liberty

Tony
Boffin

@Will

"Surely most people reading TheReg have some idea how forensic searches of computers are done "

I actually suspect not - I have had some specific training in this area (although I am not a specialist), and it is clear that the majority of IT people are unaware of the correct procedures. (For reference, below)

http://www.7safe.com/electronic_evidence/ACPO_guidelines_computer_evidence.pdf

From the text in the article, it's possible that the police actually breached their own guidelines - now the text of the article could be incorrect, but if it is the case that they failed to follow the guidelines, any evidence found would be inadmissable in court. It is also likely that the whole case would be thrown out.

Note that it is also the case, that generally, text of emails is not admissable as evidence, although any data on the transmission of emails is potentially admissable.

An interesting point is that the police have to get permission to access the PC otherwise they are in potential breach of the Misuse of Computers Act 1990. This would have to come from someone that has the authority to issue this permission; I don't know who that would be in this case as it depends upon who owns the equipment / system it is connected to.

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BT chief: People don't need fibre to the home

Tony
Boffin

@Ben

"Mobile connections should be reaching 42Mps by 2009-10:"

Possibly in a very few areas - but certainly not available throughout the majorty of the network.

"Mobile connections should reach 100Mps by 2012 with very little investment:"

Really? I would suggest that it will require a massive investment - plus my other comment above.

"Mobile connections should reach 10Gps not long after:"

Depends upon your definiton of "not long" - in terms of global existence, no not long. But I doubt I will see that in my lifetime. Plus there are limits to the available bandwidth that they struggle to cope with now.

"Why roll out a FIXED-LINE network that will be outdated by the time it is finished"

The speed of transmission over fibre is not determined by the fibre itself, but by the switching equipment. Once the fibre is in the ground, they can upgrade the switches to take advantage of any advances.

The only real changes likely at the moment is some work that is being done to create fibre from plastic instead of silica.

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Tony

What!!!!

"Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds. "Ultimately it's about what people will pay for," he said. "The economic case is not great.""

The man is an idiot or is just trying to justify BT's slow rollout / lack of investment.

I vaguely remember a similar comment back in the 80s when someone asked why people would want to have a computer in their house.

It comes down to this; If they don't make the investment, this country will be relegated to the level of a third world country.

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Tory 'terror' affair shows danger of ubiquitous surveillance

Tony
Black Helicopters

Tinfoil hat

There was a really good TV series in the late 1970s called 1990 - it's never been repeated which is a pity as they were damn good storylines. I think that it's time the beeb dusted it off and ran it again. Some of the plots will sound rather familiar...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990_(TV_series)

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UK police bust lottery scam centre in Somerset

Tony

@Neil Wolford

Neil,

Couldn't agree more with your comments - I had similar conversations with my grandmother in the early 90's. Fortunately, my mother was a bit more switched on.

"Letters managed by sophisticated mailing techniques and response monitoring, undoubtedly using computers."

Now isn't this exactly the sort of thing that Phorm / Webwise will be doing?

And for all the others, one day you will also be old and vulnerable - and a new breed of scammers will have have yet more techniques to rip you off. Will you still be laughing then?

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Traffic info goes mobile

Tony

Great, just what we need..

.. a way for more Grockles and Emmits to find their way here! Bugger!

I still think that Mebyon Kurnow could do us all a big favour and put a sign up at the Almondsbury Interchange saying "road south closed" send them all east then let them drive around the M25 till they run out of petrol.

For those that do get through, the big things in the field are called "cows" and the little things are called "sheep" they are where meat comes from. Yes dear, they do poo in the field, we've tried but they can't be taught to stand in line to use a toilet. But just because they drop their faeces where they stand doesn't mean that you can throw your rubbish down as well.

Oh, and please note, not everyone here is a farmer and most people don't own a tractor. And the next person who asks me to say "Oooh Arr" will get an Ivor Dewdney stuffed down their throat!

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Hugh Jackman speaks of Wolverine leak heartbreak

Tony

@Wade Burchette

"Competition from other forms of entertainment isn't killing movies either. It is the sorry product Hollywood is putting out."

Hear, hear. There is a serious problem with Hollywood at the moment - I'm not sure where it originates, but there is a real lack of creative storylines coupled with poor writing. Is it just the studio execs and some really poor decision making?

"These big studios think sex and CGI and violence can replace a good plot and story; it cannot."

I would add to that, re-hash a story over and over until you wring every last possible drop out of it, then do it one more time for luck.

I'm taking part in a project to create a new movie; most of the participants are US based. Most of those from the UK have already dropped out as they were so pissed off with the comments from the septics about adding more car chases, gun fights, explosions, heavy pounding rock music, persons of obvious Arabic extraction being shot etc. Someone suggested that perhaps we needed to provide some justification in the plotline for these; he was unmercifully mauled by the other commentators for daring to suggest that a car blowing up was not the epitome of sophistication.

The last time that I went to the cinema was to see LOTR:ROTK - I've not seen any other film project that I was interested enough in to actually make the effort to go and see.

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Photocops: Home Office concedes concern

Tony

@ Joe M

It's called free speech.

No-one is forcing you to read it.

And if the injuctices are inequities are not highlighted, how will people learn about it?

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Tony

Duh!

"Home Office Under-Secretary Shahid Malik agreed that the incidents described were regrettable and that counter-terror legislation was not intended to be used in this way"

So will we actually see the police concerned being disciplined? No? Perhaps we will see the law being updated to correct the anomalies? Oh look, there is a Gloucestershire Old Spot with wings - must have been on the Red Bull last night.

I don't think that it is Guy Fawkes we need - it's Oliver Cromwell.

“you have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!.”

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IPS misses its ID cards for foreigners target

Tony

@elfatbob

"i think it always was the intent to compell use of the card for business and sell off the information collected to the highest bidder."

Possibly, possibly not - I don't think that they can see that far ahead. But I'm sure that they knew there were other things that they could do later, they just weren't totally sure what they would be.

"They'll sell your medical data to the big companies.....don't think so?"

Trust me - I KNOW they would. Particularly if there is a brown envelope with cash, or the chance of a directorship after they leave parliament.

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Tony
Black Helicopters

Things that make you go Hmmmm....

"Hall also said the agency was considering adding Chip and PIN to the ID card"

So the project is behind schedule and they are now thinking of changing the scope of the project. This factor has been identified by various bodies / committees etc over the years as one of the primary reasons a project will fail. Yet they still refuse to learn from mistakes.

"If we conclude that chip and pin is a key part of making it useful..."

I read this that they are now trying to think of way to use the ID card to generate revenue. In other words, sell the data to the highest bidder.

"...there's no technical reason why we couldn't do it."

There's no technical reason that I couldn't fire bomb their offices. It's illegal, and if caught , I would go to jail, but technically, I could still do it.

No doubt, I have now lost any chance I once had of working for the spooks. Damn!

I was brought up to respect authority; the thought of going to jail would have been shameful. I can now envisage a time in the not too distant future where I would end up being arrested for opposing authority. Although a child of the 50's, I missed out on the protests of the late 60's (I'm not just square, I'm cubic!) - I think it is time to dig out the bell bottom flairs, the psychedelic t-shirts and hippie love beads, get off my arse and make my voice heard.

Sing along with me "We will overcome, we will overcome-ome, we wll overcome someday-ay-ay"

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SAP promises maintenance metrics 'soon'

Tony

SAPping me slowly..

"Disgruntled SAP users should next week find out how they can see whether its support is up to scratch"

Sorry, but I think we know already.

For me, the quality of support has been mixed. The Active support staff are generally well mannered, try hard to resolve issues, and those I have spoken to are reasonably knowledgeable about their specific areas. However, it does seem to take rather longer to resolve problems than I would like, and if you get the wrong person, it can take much longer still. We still get too many issues that take days or even weeks to fix.

In terms of the "mutually acceptable agreement", I'm still waiting to find out what this is; we were promised this information months ago, yet nothing has been forthcoming apart from some very generic and bland sound bites. We had no choice over the fee increase - so far nothing has given me any confidence that we will see any improvement in support service at all. In fact, in certain areas, it has clearly deteriorated.

In terms of KPIs, there will always be an issue between supplier and customer - there has to be a balance between the perfection that the customer wants and the actual level that the supplier can physically provide at a sensible price. However, their fees are significantly higher than any other company however they try to spin it. (And believe me, they spin like a top!)

However, as always, Walldorf will continue to ignore any comments that don't meet with their rose tinted view of the world - even when the majority of their customer base is clearly deeply concerned about interaction with the company.

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G20 police demand ID as train staff ordered to spy on passengers

Tony

@AC 19:00

"If asked by a person in blue uniform, before complying get them to show you two forms of their id."

All police constables must carry a warrant (ID) card as proof of identity/authority, and cannot refuse to show it on demand.

For more details http://www.thesite.org/homelawandmoney/law/introuble/whatisawarrantcard

Note that even when they are arresting you, you have the right to request that they display their ID - if they refuse, or just ignore you, then when they read you your rights, you should say in a clear voice "I have requested that you show me your Identity Card and you have refused to do this".

Any lawyer worth his salt can then get any case against you thrown out of court - it is also possible that you may be able to make a claim against the relevant police force (subject to a number of factors). Plus it is likely that the officer in question will be disciplined.

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Wacky Jacqui spanked by husband

Tony

@mycho

" but do we really trust her not to be masturbating while she's watching us?"

The thought of that makes me feel quite ill...

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Ministers spending billions on unlawful databases

Tony

@IHateWearingATie

"It would be helpful to describe the selection criteria "

I don't disagree - in many reports, that information is left out. However, if I am not mistaken, there was a directive some years back (vague memory of 2002, but I'm probably wrong) that specifically indicated that the selection criteria used should not be given in too much detail in these kinds of reports.

I believe that the thinking behind this was that if the details of how the data was selected were indicated, that would in itself invalidate some reports (I sort of see the point, but I'm not sure that I agree.)

It's a bit like the market reserchers asking potential research candidates if they work in certain industries such as media, jouranalism - it's not that they don't want to hear from those people, but people in those fields would have a different way of answering questions that can skew results. As I say, I don't entirely agree with it, but there you go.

"great government IT success, not that it is ever reported"

Welcome to my world - When things go well for 5 years, no one even notices, but get one thing wrong on one morning and it makes front page news.

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Tony

@IHateWearingATie

I have not read through the whole report, but have covered the first 30 pages - I'll read the rest tonight.

I can understand your feeling about the report, but I would have to say that the methodology used by the authors appears to be a fairly standard one. They cannot possibly include all databases, so they have to select a number that will be representative; maybe they have selected some of the more obvious ones, but that is probably because those are the ones that they can actually get some data on - there is no point in trying to prepare a report if you cannot get sound data to analyse.

I take the point about recommendations, but the problem with these reports is that in many cases, the scope of the report actually precludes them from this, or severely restricts what they may do.

I think the report makes some good points - however, I dare say that the PTB will ignore it as they do with most others.

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Obesity witchhunt is a 'moral panic' - sense out of Texas

Tony

@john

I wasn't going to respond to your post, but I've changed my mind. So doctors are useless and overpaid?

May I ask when was the last time that you had to tell a grieving couple that they had lost their child because some chav in a 4 x 4 was too busy texting his girlfriend to see a child on a bike?

Or have you ever had to explain to someone that they have terminal cancer and have perhaps only days to live; or, that a loved parent has dementia and will live for another 20 years as a complete vegetable?

Have you ever had to try to maintain life in a dying person? (I have; I'm told that I spent just over 6 minutes performing heart massage and mouth to mouth - it seemed like 60 minutes)

Or have you worked in an A & E on a Saturday night - you get lots of people that have consumed vast quantities of booze, so drunk that they don't realise they have broken limbs, that try to assault the people that are actually trying to help them.

Perhaps you have seen a child so battered that it is bleeding from every orifice, frightened out of its mind - and listen without comment as the parents tell you it "fell down the stairs".

Maybe you have watched as someone with advanced carcinoma sneeks out of the building for a quick puff of a cigarette that will kill them, and watch as they cough and wheeze, but still stick the damn thing in their mouth for one last drag.

And may I ask which you would prefer; advice and medicine from someone that actually is trying to help you get well, or from someone that is supplying what they have been told to, based upon how much profit they can make?

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BOFH: Cable entanglements

Tony

Damn!

"I have gift vouchers for several major curry houses, an open tab at a number of large licensed establishments and a morally casual attitude,"

In a previous life, I worked with a number of people that had had offers of a similar nature. But nothing ever happened to me like that.

Now I'm in a completely different job and it still never happens - the most I get offered is the crappy 128 Mb usb keyrings that they tried to hand out at vendor shows 5 years ago of which they still have a couple boxes left. (and they only offer me the one, the tightwads)

Either that, or I get sent a box of mints which went passed their best before date 2 years ago (I'm looking at you Microsoft!)

Still a good BOFH - keep em coming

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Phorm CEO clashes with Berners-Lee at Parliament

Tony

@AC 11:43

"I don't fully appreciate the implications of what's going on" - "Are we starting down a slippery slope, are we already on it or am I worrying for no reason ?"

Imagine this:

You decide to take your partner to the city for a weekend break. You go online, book a cheap hotel room. They also link you through to their "partners" to book transport - you like that as it makes it easier. However, they then sell that data.

So over the next few days, you get several emails, telephone calls, text messages, all offering you bargains, if you switch your hotel, travel plans etc.

If you decide to go via public transport, you find a small screen on the back of the seat in front of you - it plays non-stop adverts all aimed at selling you stuff relating to your trip. If you decide to go by car, the digital radio is linked into the national marketing database, and the advert slots are also specifically positioned to make offers that you might want.

You eventually get to the city and take a cab to the hotel; in the back is a screen, and it detects from the RFID in your travel ticket who you are. It then targets you with more offers; it's valentines day, so they assume you are there for a spot of romance and you get umpteen offers of restaurants, jewellers etc all promising special deals.

You get to the hotel; the TV in the room has non stop advertising all targeted at you to get you to change your plans and spend yet more cash. More restauarants, tourist spots, florists, wedding planners, photographers etc.etc.etc

You decide to get away from the madness and take a stroll; every shop you go by detects your mobile and you get a text every 15 seconds as you pass yet another store promising even more wonderful deals if you go in and buy now.

Couldn't happen? The technology is already in place; they just need to tweak the data mining functions a bit. There are various companies that are already experimenting with exactly this approach. And Phorm is poised to provide them with exactly the data that they need.

For me, this is a vision of hell - it's a world that I do not want to live in and would not want forced on anyone else.

There may be people that want this; I suspect that the only ones are those who are aiming to make money out of it.

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Tony
Unhappy

All your data are belong to us

Ertugrul presumably thinks that the data doesn't belong to the individual but to the company that collects it; and that they can then do as they please with that data. No doubt, he will use the argument that this is to benefit everyone as it allows the marketing to be better targeted.

Horse feathers and similar phrases - this is about one thing, and one thing only. He wants to MAKE MONEY out of us. He doesn't give a monkey's about the quality of anyone elses marketing apart from his own.

In many ways this process is like someone entering your house, wandering around looking at your possesions and then leaving - they would argue that they have done nothing wrong as they have taken nothing or damaged nothing. The Phorm argument would be similar; as they anonymise the data, they have taken nothing and caused you no damage. However, I wonder if Mr Ertugrul's wife would be as sanguine if she thought someone had gone through her house and looked through her underwear?

I cannot even begin to express my utter contempt for Phorm and their business model. It is based upon a truly unacceptable practice - I would refuse to deal with any company that used their services in any way, shape or Phorm.

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Screeching rails close London Tube station

Tony
IT Angle

Disaster looms

The rails and the wheels meet as 2 metal surfaces. As they heat up, eventually, the two surfaces could bind together. So you have a delay for 90 minutes, or wait until they become unusable and then the line is out of action for a couple of days / weeks, whilst they replace them both. So make the choice - which would you rather have?

(That's assuming of course that it doesn't cause an accident, kill 60-80 people, in which case it might be closed for a bit longer. )

Yes I know that a lot of people were late home - poor things. But at least you do have access to a public transport system. Where I live, there are 2 buses a day - one up in the morning, one down in the afternoon. It's five miles (yes miles) to the next bus stop.

Now of course, that doesn't excuse TfL; they should be better organised. But people get very complacent - far too many are happy to complain when things don't quite right, but they complain even loader when they go horribly wrong. And the loudest complaints come from those that wouldn't know the first thing about a trackway.

(From an ex-member of a volunteer Permanent Way gang, 1995-2001. Respects to Foggy, David H, Julie, the Padre and the rest of the crew. See you all in the chapel of the blessed Lethbridge again one day)

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No investigation after malware is found on parliamentary PC

Tony

Oh dear

"We have got 140,000 cops and most of them don't know one end of the computer from the other,"

Starts at the top; we have Home Secretary / Justice Minsters that don't seem to know that much about them.

I have been doing some training in forensic investigation - not as simple as one might think. Certainly it is clear that most police officers don't know what to do, so the digital evidence is rendered inadmissable in court.

They can't detect the crime

Even if they do, they generally can't catch the culprit

If they do somehow manage to catch them, they can't prosecute

If by some miracle they can and the case is proven, the chances are the culprit gets away with it, or serves a pathetically short sentence

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UK IT should 'fire men first', says Kate Craig-Wood

Tony
Unhappy

Calm down dear, it's only an advert

Funny how so many people have immediately reacted in such a vociferous way to Kate's comment. Perhaps what she should have said was "get rid of all the baldies or grey haired gits" as with their lengthy service, they will all be on high wages. I wonder how many of the respondents would have bothered then?

Trouble is, I am one of the grey haired brigade (I thought it made me looked distinguished, but the ladies just laugh) so I would be the first out of the door under that scheme. I know that I am not on excessive wages - in fact I am on well below the average pay scale for the job that I do, and that won't change. I know that I do a better job than the average, as I have been told so by almost every single visitor to the company, who quickly identify that we are well ahead of most other comparable SMEs in almost all areas of our IT provision.

I can't get an IT job elsewhere as the recruitment agencies won't consider anyone over about 35. I can't do the other job that I trained for for the same reason. On the scrapheap at 53 (it's my birthday, and I'm feeling old and decrepit)

I would post anonymously, but I can't be bothered - looked in the mirror and I have more than a passing resemblance to Michael Winner.

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Republican e-chief exits, denounces 'blog-flogging simpletons'

Tony

@AC 16:09

If you google it, you should be able to find out that GOP stands for "Grand Old Party" - although if you check this article http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/12/03/politics/main531460.shtml

it tells you that it might be "Gallant Old Party"

They also say that it should be "Get Out and Push" indicating a drive to attract voters.

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ICO raids and shuts builder blacklist firm

Tony

@Daffy

There have been a couple.

There was an organisation back in the 70's - real right wing old boys club. They kept the data on index cards; it supoosedly contained information on a surprising number of people from a very wide range of indiustries.

People were labelled in different ways - political leanings, sexual orientation. In some cases that they had attended certain types of protests or even that they had dared to write to their local newspaper. Almost like the Stazi in fact.

The list contained people from all walks of life, including teachers, police, MPs, ex servicemen, jounalists, lawyers, writers, as well as the expected trade unionists.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - it ain't Big Brother we have to worry about, but lots of Little Brothers.

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Three months on, you still can't get off the DNA database

Tony

@Simon Miles

"does it really hurt for them to have a sample of your DNA somewhere?"

A good point - so let me offer you this scenario.

You get in a cab - you are dropped off at the place that you have asked to be taken to and pay for the fare. Later that day, a squad of C19 burst through your door and point firearms at your head, before whisking you off to Paddington Green secure unit for nasty people where you wait for 6 weeks whilst they investigate.

What has happened is that later in the morning, someone has telephoned in a bomb threat. They happen to see a cab outside of the place concerned, with somone leaving a shopping bag in a bin. So they run a test in a cab (not necessarily the right one), find your DNA (along with several others) and Robert is your father's brother.

They then tell the press that they have foiled a terror threat (they can't give details as that would not be in the country's best interests) - you were innocent, but they "had to be sure". The authorities trumpet that they have foiled a "major terror plot".

One weasily worded apology later and you can go back to your normal life. True, you no longer have a job, a bank account or any credit rating, so you don't really have a life any more, but it was "all in the best interests of the nation" - so that's good. Also, your passport is taken away, so you can't leave the country.

They also forget to update the records, so your DNA sample is now in the CRB database - as a criminal. You are not allowed to get it updated, as they insist that they never make mistakes. You are then on various watch lists, and occasionally find your actions being monitored.

Couldn't happen in this country? Think again.

Just because you are paranoid, doens't mean that they are not out to get you!

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Woolies Pic'n'Mix bows out with eBay auction

Tony

Euuugghhh

These will be all the odds & ends that dropped down behind the plastic bins - they will be mixed up with the mice droppings, fluff balls, broken fingernails, kids dried spittle and the stale sugar dropping off the other items over the previous 3 or 4 years.

Luvverley

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