Yearly Archives: 2014

Watching Game of Thrones (again)

Yup, I am! Artistically, now I know what happens, I can concentrate on relevant harbingers since we know what they are. There’s quite a few, I was obviously concentrating on the wrong plot points the first time through.  If I was really concerned, I could probably organise my life better; I deleted my older copies of the show from my skybox and so short of buying the box set, £32 for S1-3 I am stuck waiting for them to show repeats and so I took the opportunity over Xmas. Great show but the opportunity to whinge about Sky & HBO’s monetisation strategies is too great.

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The gall of Julian Huppert and the LibDems beggars belief. Computer Weekly report that he is campaigning for a Digital Bill of Rights to be included in the LibDem manifesto.  I covered his intervention at OrgCon14 earlier this year. The LibDems have a serious problem in that they made a number of promises which they have broken, most obviously on tuition fees, but others have problems with some of the government reforms on welfare, the bedrom tax, and judicial administration, the introduction of secret courts for cases involving intelligence material. In the policy area of surveillance and digital politics, the LibDems are not as strong as they might like. The computer weekly article states that Huppert is looking to mandate encryption and ban “revenge porn”.

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There was a story earlier in the week about the IT industry organising to influence the quality of IT teaching in the UK, or is it England now. According to the BBC, they argue that teaching in schools focuses too much towards using office software, by which we all mean Microsoft Office. My experience as an observer, and parent of students is that the syllabus for our brightest and most committed IT students is exclusively about using Microsoft Office products. Frankly this bores the brighter students. This boredom was compounded at the turn of the century by the decision taken by many schools to teach the GNVQ syllabus, and not the GCSE National Curriculum. This decision was taken because good GNVQs scored more highly than the GCSE in the school league tables and it could be taught with the same time commitment.

Let me assure you that the GNVQ IT syllabus was boring, requiring a very narrow rote based skill set demonstrating the ability to write a letter, create a single table spreadsheet, create a powerpoint slide show and use a forms package. There is no HTML, no SQL, no scripting, no programming and very little hardware, I am not aware that they even opened up a computer to examine the parts or to learn about what are now called user installations. They didn’t even teach anything useful like how to configure an internet gateway.

Today I go to seminars where senior software development managers are crying out with frustration that Universities aren’t turning out skilled programmers. Europe and the UK’s system software business is tiny, there’s only one European CPU and no European computer manufactures. All Europe’s Computer Scientists work for US companies.

So at last, even some of the campaigners for the current curriculum recognise that its 20 years too old. It needs to change to encourage our best to work in IT and Computer Science.


The UK’s early specialisation makes this an issue of crucial importance. People that fail or give up at GCSE will be most unlikely to study such a subject at either “A” level or University.

This was written in 2014 as far as I can tell, got lost and then found, I posted it in May 2017 and backdated it to this post date.

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monopoly in film

On the 27th Sept, Torrentfeak comments on an MPAA funded report on film distribution in the USA.  It highlights the oddity that the most used service (Netflix) has the weakest catalogue. Later in the year, the researcher, KPMG LLP published a report on the UK market, which Torrentfreak commented on here…. The headline was that a film fan wanting the best catalogue would need to subscribe to 27 services, which seems a bit excessive.

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Britain’s over reaching content filters

The UK’s Web site blocking rears its ugly head again. I was pointed at Der Spiegel who reports that Three and Vodafone are blocking the Chaos Computing Club‘s domain. The Chaos Computer Club is a grass roots technology association most well known outside Germany were it is based for its annual Congress held in Hamburg. Equally well known for not being a porn site. The Spiegel article is in German and I translated it using Google translate. I have hosted a copy here, and you can see google’s rendering here. The remainder of the article looks at over-blocking, including IT security resources as obscene, and the market share of the various UK carriers.

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Gordon Brown steps down as MP

Gordon Brown announces his retirement to the clash of views from the press and the Labour Party. To be accurate, he has announced that he isn’t standing for re-election as an MP. He leaves a mixed legacy, well summarised by the Telegraph of all sites, who list his contributions to New Labour and the ’97 landslide, economic stewardship until 2007, his opposition to the UK adopting the Euro, his leadership in response to the 2008 global liquidity crisis and his critical contribution to the Scottish Referendum debate on the No side.

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London Labour in Europe

I attended the lunchtime meeting hosted by three of London’s Labour MEPs. They started by saying thank you to the members at the meeting for the efforts made to secure London’s fantastic result in the Euro elections. The meeting was framed as “How to fight UKIP?” The old canard, started by Farage that London is inoculated from UKIP, because we’re young, liberal and cosmopolitan, the truth in my mind is that London’s multi-culturalism is its UKIP anti-body. One of the attendees, spoke on dealing with UKIP, which I summarised in this tweet,

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Going to London Labour’s Regional Conference

Lewisham Deptford’s delegation to the London Labour Regional Conference, held at Hammersmith & Fulham’s Town Hall was reduced through illness but there were a couple of us who made the journey.The morning consisted of awards, keynote speeches from Harriet Harman & Sadiq Kahn and motions on Health and Economics. Sadly I didn’t get to read the Conference Arrangements Committee report which explained why many of the proposed Emergency Motions weren’t emergencies, were contrary to the rules, contrary to the law or, and my personal favourite, silly. (I might have made the last one up.)

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Coming Privacy Law

Yesterday, attended a session convened by the BCS North London branch, called “Data Privacy – How Private is IT?” The presentation was given by two PWC staff members in two parts, the first was a forward looking review at the proposed EU Data Protection Regulation by Kyrisia Sturgeon and the second part a scenario based exploration of good data protection practice led by Pragasen Morgan. To me the coming key changes in the law are that all companies will need to have a qualified data protection officer, and it implements a right to be forgotten, or more accurately a right to be unindexed.

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I need 27 suppliers? Watching film in the UK

A UK movies fan has to subscribe to 27 services to get a full catalog of current(ish) releases. On the 27th Sept, Torrentfeak comments on an MPAA funded report on film distribution in the USA.  It highlights the oddity that the most used service (Netflix) has the weakest catalogue. Later in the year, the researcher, KPMG LLP published a report on the UK market, and locally hosted here … which Torrentfreak commented on here…. The headline was that a film fan wanting the best catalogue would need to subscribe to 27 services, which seems a bit excessive.

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Campaiging with Politicians

Still at orgcon14, the first session in the afternoon was titled “Campaigning with Politicians”. I wasn’t going to report this since on the whole it wasn’t that good, but it does set the scene for what may be coming and so I changed my mind. The chair opened the session by stating the session would be best used as a campaigning symposium and not treated as a hustings, he might have saved himself the trouble. The three speakers, Jullian Huppert MP (LibDem), Natalie Bennett (Green Party) and Claude Moraes MEP set out their (Parties’) stalls.

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Labour Friends of the ORG

Over lunch, I & Claude Moraes, hosted a meeting of the “Labour Friends of the Open Rights Group”. Claude spoke of the European Parliament’s response to the Snowden leaks and its defence of citizens ECHR Article 8 privacy rights. He also signposted the coming Digital Habeas Corpus which being that it’s European legislation will take some time. There was a keenness to take the policies of the ORG into the Labour Party. The countdown to the general election and the Party’s adoption of its Programme in September means that the opportunity for short term changes in the policy are limited however @LabourDigital which is a de-facto caucus is campaigning around its manifesto and the Shadow cabinet policy review is due to be launched on 25th November. We agreed to keep in touch and to use the original google group, founded after #orgcon10 to do so.

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With TTIP, we mustn’t forget Privacy

This was a two part presentation given by Glynn Moody (an independent journalist) & Neal Deardon (WDM). Moody, summarised the arguments against in terms of their economic effect and briefly mentioned the privacy aspects of TTIP, Dearden spoke of the global governance rules and the side-lining  of the World Trade Organisation, the United Nations  and the developing world. Moody questioned the worth of the economic benefits, and challenged the sinister nature of regulations to be “as simple as possible”, the words come from CETA.

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