Monthly Archives: December 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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Grandstanding

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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Teaching

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.

ooOOOoo

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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