November, 2010

Funniest Spam Ever

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Because sometimes people post some class bullshit.  From my junk mail.

(In a review, which I rarely carry out).

________________________________________

OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
TREASURY AND MINISTER FOR CIVIL SERVICE,
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM.

Our ref: ATM/13470/IDR
Your ref:…
Date: 02/11/2010

IMMEDIATE PAYMENT NOTIFICATION.

I am The Rt Hon David Cameron, Prime Minister British Government. This letter is to officially inform you that (ATM Card Number 4900101775551222) has been accredited with your favor. Your Personal Identification Number is 413. The VISA Card Value is Ј3,000,000.00(Three Million Great British Pounds Sterling).

This office will send to you a Visa/ATM CARD that you will use to withdraw your funds in any ATM MACHINE CENTER or Visa card outlet in the world with a maximum of  Ј5000 Pounds daily.Further more,You will be required to re-confirm the following information to enable;The Rt Hon William Hague Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. begin in processing of your VISA CARD.

(1)Full names: (2)Address:   (3)Country:    (4)Nationality:   (5)Phone #:   (6)Age:   (7)Occupation:

Forward Reply To: fco-gov@info.al

TAKE NOTICE: That you are warned to stop further communications with any other person(s) or office(s) different from the staff of the State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to avoid hitches in receiving your payment.

Regards,

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
Prime Minister.

and the header….

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From: "Rt Hon David Cameron MP"<info@atmuk.org>
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Blogging

Friday, November 19th, 2010

OK This is going to be very media oriented, a meta post about blogging.

Should I be blogging?

One answer to this, http://codebetter.com/blogs/jeremy.miller/archive/2008/01/25/should-i-blog.aspx, just a quick Googling away.  Yeah I should blog.

So #lovelyGF and I are still pursuing the argument about what I should be blogging; sometimes I’m inflammatory, sweary, ranty, bloodyminded and polemical, you only have to look at Femininist, and Covering Up to see that this is the case.  Sometimes I put very personal things on, (Dad), and these things can be very difficult.  Sometimes I’m just pushing things out so they’re not in my way, sometimes I push them out because I think  they might help someone else even if it is too late for me.

#lovelyGF worries that I’m damaging my career, future career.

There’s a few things happening here, in my opinion.

One is that we self-censor to buy the future.  Another is that we self censor for fear that common sense won’t prevail.  (See #iamspartacus, plenty of people have done this now, including professional people that I respect and I *know* are looked at by their bosses, and whose careers WILL be affected.)

Another thing is that I’m always pushed for time, and I’m a rubbish content generator. I’m really interested in generating content as such, I have things to say, but up until now they have mostly been private, but I can’t play in social media without giving, so for example I took all my Facebook Pictures down some time ago, but I can share some publically if I want, so I posted one, my graduation handshake.

___________________________

By the way, Tempest probably have copyright to this.  Do I give a bugger about this?  Well yes, on the one hand; I think Copyright laws are increasingly draconian and punitive beyond reason, but the principle that people essentially should be acknowledged for their creative work isn’t a bad principle, it’s just mis-applied.  That’s the general case.

In detail, no I don’t give a bugger about this, because Tempest have far too much control over photography in school and Uni, we couldn’t possibly have got this shot, and it’s a photo of ME for crying out loud, and it cost me another £15 on top of the artificially posed graduation photo, for which I should have asserted myself more.  Oh well.  There’s always a PhD.  Anyway, I’m not putting it on the web for monetary purposes and while this doesn’t excuse copyright violation, they can just get over it.  Photo’s of me are MINE, I’m the owner of the image of my own face.  I have rights to my person.

But apart from all that, I’m rather proud of this moment, so I’m just showing people, not sticking it to Tempest, who are actually lovely lovely people.

___________________________

Anyway, point is, should I be self censoring just in case?

I don’t think so no.  Femininist in particular is a piece of creative writing, there are many truths in it, but the point about it is that it written creatively.  I’ma great fan of Charlie Brooker even though I don’t always agree with the sentiment, in fact I consider myself to be well, let’s face it, not stupid, but I often have to decode what Mr Brooker has said.  He always write creatively though, taking risks about how he is saying what he is saying, (I think he failed here, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/15/charlie-brooker-twitter-terror-conviction because I think he missed the target), and thus sometimes he is going to say quite controversial things and say them in a controversial way.

He is not alone in  this approach, Jeremy Clarkson does this to a lesser extent, let’s pass over his daft approach on Top Gear, it’s funny, mostly, but he has the approach of saying something quite absurd or right wing and then examining it.  I think he’s a lefty, as am I.  Never mind all the self-aggrandisement.  (ahem!  his not mine).

Point is that we seem to be in a divide.  If you write for a newspaper, if you’re a journalist, if you’re been trained, you can write any amount of absurd, challenging, controversial things without fear of career ruination.  It seems that if you do the same and you’re not specially trained, you might be at risk of losing your potential career.

Now, although I disagree with#lovelyGF about this, the source of my disagreement is that I think that there should not be one rule for the rich, well, in this context, trained, and one rule for the practising.  (Right, let’s get this out of the way, rules of libel still apply, and don’t slag off your employer in public, because well, that’s a bit daft, and Sons take note, don’t slag off your teachers in text like this because you’re not mature enough to understand what you’re doing yet and you shouldn’t bully them on-line, teachers have enough problems as it is.)

So there is a danger that someone might not like what you said.  It’s a level playing field, I might not like what some else said.  (I tend to only right to people to encourage them though, no point in being negative, though I do like to argue about things, because I might be missing their point, even if I disagree, I might learn something).

So what is conclusion here?

From my point of view, we can be mice, leave commentary and controversy up to the “experts” or we can own the blogosphere, which is in my opinion the greatest thing to happen to ‘net navigation since the browser was invented.  I dunno about the content, but I get a hell of a lot out of blogs.  All anyone gets out of this blog is opinion and commentary I think, but I need a meaningful presence on the web and this is it.  Caution, it might occasionally be NSFW, and might include a swearword or two. But only if I’m being polemical.

_______________________________________

I was asked the other day if wearing skirts made me more or less accessible educationally.  Was it too peculiar for students and too distracting?

The answer, with experience, much experience, is a resounding MORE ACCESSIBLE.

Yeah I have to own a room, and be confident beyond compare when I do it.  And yeah I like doing girl stuff in clothing, but I make a real effort not to be in drag, because that would be a distraction, and if you’ve now read the polemical entry, you’ll see that it would miss the point entirely.

Why more accessible?  Partly because it is clear to students that I’m not too conservative, so that whatever they bring is ok, what is important is the intellectual work and achievement.    I’ve been harangued by Student Unions to do it more, “because students will know they can be whoever they are going to be at this institution…”  and harangued by departments to do it less, (A mail to me sent via someone else because out new marketing manager in Bangor was scared that I would scare prospective parents off when giving a tour, when in fact I had never worn a skirt when doing that, precisely because it would interfere with the message, come here and get your kid educated.  I feel that the fallout from that, I did get to the bottom of it, was that students volunteers were required to wear “uniform”, and that I will never work in my beloved department again, stuff it, a skirt is narrowmindedness filter).

Point is, I tend to divide the world into those that look below the waist first thing and those who pay attention when I’m talking.

Since I have made good and impressive business contacts while doing this, I think it’s the right way to go.

And yes, I do provide greater accessibility, because after only a minute of talking to me about technical things, people know that I know what I’m talking about.  In Bangor I led a peer workshop, I initiated, set it up, ran it.  Passed it on the next year.  People came because of what I and my compatriots knew, not because of what we were wearing or not.

Flip side, parents at my kids school, primary school have sometime yelled at me out of their cars, and effectively given their children to be bigots, which they have done.  Nowadays the boys generally cope with it by being HUGE and telling people who try and rag on them to take it up with me if they’ve got the balls.  They haven’t.

Actually, that’s generally a lesson, people haven’t got the balls to really have a go abut it, but they will be sly, treat me as if I’m deaf or blind, and Goddess knows get really aggressive if challenged.

Anyway.  There it is.

_________________________________

Award for Best Overall Performance

Award for Best Overall Performance

Oh, my camera is hopeless, but here is me getting an award from Pete Wraith (Great teacher, really great teacher),  at Graduation for being the best in my class.

I worked hard.  I still left some things until too late, but so much less than ever before.

The Context

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Here is an idea, I haven’t seen this idea anywhere, I might have talked about it some form in the past, but never to this detail, and certainly it is an idea that is now clear in my mind.  Maybe someone else has had this idea also, parallel things like that happen, but just in case that hasn’t happened I’m writing it down.

It’s for free, I would like to claim it as my own idea just to stop the big companies claiming it and owning us all over again; what it really needs is a small developer to do it.  It is beyond my technical expertise and time to execute, so take it and make some dough.  I don’t want any, well I do, but I couldn’t possibly justify that, and what I REALLY want is to see it out there and be able to use it.  Hint my current phone operating system is Windows Mobile 6, but it needs developing for all platforms.

I call it “The Context”

I carry my phone everywhere.  (My phone doesn’t have GPS but I’m going pretend it does).

It can know where I am by three methods, GPS, Local Mast, Wireless Networks local to me.

It can initiate a dialogue, and, lastly, it knows what time it is.

Since it knows when and where I am, it can just ask me a couple of questions to establish some context.

Let’s do some scenarios, because I think best when I’m doing that.

I set a sensitivity in my app that gives me five minutes somewhere before it decides that I might be actually doing something rather than just walking around.

Say I’m in a coffee shop.  The Context tracking me in here, but lost the GPS because coffee shop is in a mall, but it knows I’m in town.  (I’m assuming a little history here for out narrative).  We’ve been sitting in the coffee shop for more than five minutes and the app buzzes me without turning on the phone screen.

There are two possibilities, I don’t want to be bothered, so I ignore it.  It takes note and saves it for later.

I want it to know, I want a context, so I get my phone and answer the buzz.  It’s giving me options

  1. I’ll talk.
  2. Go away.
  3. Later.

(Because I might have had the phone out already see and been using it).

I talk, it asks if this is a new place I want to remember.  Yeah ok, it’s Starbucks.  What sort of place is it?  It’s a coffee shop. (It might already know that Starbucks is a coffee shop, but that would make it bloatware, it can’t know everything, so don’t try, just answer the question).

You coming here regular?  No.  (Because I just came for coffee out of the blue)).

Or a yes would give.

At this time?  No/yes/maybe.

Cool, Remembered.  Want any more context words?  Nah, I’m good.

OK So it knows I’m in the Starbucks in town.  What use is it?

____________________________________

Let’s try a different place.  First time I go to the supermarket we have the same dialogue, but this time I tell it that (say) Sainsburys is a supermarket, and I add some more words, “shopping” “Food”.

That triggers a little search in my text documents for these words, I’m asked if these docs are relevant.  I can pick out that shopping list I keep on the phone, (yeah I do that, I forget things).  I tag one of them and say the rest are not relevant.

I shop and the phone leaves me in peace.  But now I can do two things, or rather, I can do one thing, and the other is done for me.

I can look at that list before I leave home, and The Context can remind me of other linked things, because Sainsburys is in town, it can pick up that tag and look at other places in town.  It might start by asking if I want to do in town related things.  I haven’t got time, so no.  It goes away.

But supposing I decide to shop while I’m in town, I go to Sainsburys, the context picks this up by detecting the GPS, the local mast and then the id of Sainsburys broadcast wireless id.  Note that since hiding Wireless ID is worthless in security terms, people let it broadcast now, which can help us know where we are without violating rules or privacy.  It’s just an SSID and we don’t have to worry about it, we’re not picking up their traffic in any way, we’re not interested in it, only in knowing where we are.

So The Context knows where I am.  It buzzes me.  This time I know it’s buzzing me because it has something useful to say, I whip out my phone.

“I think you’re in Sainburys shopping, and you can look at your shopping list, and your don’t forget list.”

“By the way, I know you usually shop at this time, but there is only 3/4 of an hour to go before you pick up the kids.  You usually take 30 minutes shopping, so there’s time”

Why can it do this?  Because it knows where we are in time, and I pick up the kids  at whenever.  If I had started shopping much later, it would have been quite a different dialogue.

“You haven’t got time for this now.  Get the kids.”

This is logistically easy to program, but it’s 2.30 in the morning practically and I’m not doing a flow chart at this time in the morning.

Point is, it’s not too hard to do for anyone who writes phone apps.  I’m not one of those people.  But I need this.  So does everyone else.

Freedoms

Friday, November 12th, 2010

#IamSpartacus

Supposing you all get prosecuted?  You should, because the judgement was clear, it was a clear menace.

Let’s settle a few things before we start and I get the hate mail.  I was pretty ignorant this morning, and tweeted my two-pennies worth really just for my friends on Twitter, but my tweets are not protected, they are public, so anyone can read them.  I said, and have repeated,

You wouldn’t shout fire in a crowded cinema.

Paul Chambers himself acknowledges that with hindsight, perhaps his frustration was expressed in a ill thought out way…

…and I certainly realise now, it was ill-advised. But it was clearly frustration, caused by heavy snowfall grounding flights and potentially scuppering my own flight a week later. Like having a bad day at work and stating that you could murder your boss, I didn’t even think about whether it would be taken seriously.

So at the time I would have said “you daft bugger, you know everyone is a bit freaky about this sort of thing.”

But since this morning I’ve read a lot more about this, and I am concerned.

Paul Chambers certainly has had a severe battering since the initial case, he has lost two jobs, and is landed with the costs of the case, which various famous people have offered to pay.  But having the case paid for isn’t going to make this pain go away, there is a livelihood to recover, and a criminal conviction to write down on many many forms in the future, including all job applications.

The deeper pain, however, is the attitude of the authorities.  I didn’t know for example that the Robin Hood Airport staff had seen the original tweet and dismissed it as the obvious expression of frustration that it was. http://armyofdave.com/2010/11/12/something-important-happened-here/ has a much more concise blog entry and a link, http://cripesonfriday.tumblr.com/post/606531386/paul-chambers-related-links-in-one-post relaying all the information gathered in news sources about the matter, I confess I have not read all of it.

So as far as I can see, the authorities went a bit mad.  I’m sure we can agree about this if we review the material, and a lot of people think Judge Davies judgement was wrong, I’m certainly swinging around to this view myself, even if for no other reason than the idea that so so many people think that it’s an unreasonable judgement.  I’m not one to follow the crowd, however.

The various reactions have been appalling, I didn’t know Paul Chambers had lost jobs, naive of me?  Maybe, but I thought this matter was a personal matter and I would have expected to remain as such.  Not a very good employer I fear, but I don’t know who they are, so can I pass judgement?

Ah, judgement.  look we all do it, we have to make judgements about things every day, and Judges are supposed to be experts in this sort of thing.  They must know the law.  They are human and can get it wrong, but they are supposed to be experts, what did Judge Davies think about this that we didn’t?  I would have to see the full text of her judgement to know, and that won’t I suspect happen for while yet.

But look, I said at the beginning that we wouldn’t shout fire in a cinema.  And I have said that this SHOULD have been tested in open court, we need to know what is ok and what is not.  Everyone seems to be up in arms because our freedom has been impinged, our freedom to speak, express, even moments of frustration and hyperbole.  That does worry me, but what worries me more is that we don’t seem to have a rational, harmless and fair way of the state criticising its citizens for doing something that was a moment of foolishness.

Wait a minute.

We do, it’s called a caution, and it carries no penalty, but is warning that in the opinion of an officer you’ve done something wrong.

Or godamnit the discretion of a sensible police officer who could have nipped around and said, “well that was a bit daft wasn’t it?”

The mechanisms are in place, but over-reacting is a way of the state “making an example” and keeping us under the thumb.  Yeah I said that.

We’re scared enough of terrorism as it is, let’s keep up the rage of the people.  This should have been a trivial matter, and it is occupying all our minds, because it was made important by the actions of the state machine.

I said that it should have been tested in open court.  I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  It shouldn’t have been tested at all, because there was no real threat here, just a frustrated man expressing feelings which we express, collectively, every day, that sometimes we’d like to see something crumble to the ground.

You wouldn’t shout fire in a cinema, and Paul Chambers didn’t.

_______________________________________________

Actually I’m not scared of terrorists at all.  You’re just big bullies.

And as for Paul Chambers, I hope he gets another job, or better still writes a book and makes a fortune and never has to work again.

Armistice Day

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Irrespective of your views and attitudes towards war, today is Armistice Day.

We should not forget those that have lost their lives, their health and sometimes their humanity in the cause…

…and while we’re here, let us remember that every life is precious, and those on the “wrong” side have families and loved ones.

I met a soldier once and he told me this…

“Every time I pull the trigger with someone in my sights, I push away my conscience and my soul, or I could not do my job, even if someone is trying at that second to kill me, because otherwise I remember that these people are desperate and angry.  We’re sent often ‘to keep the peace’, but I don’t want to die, and sometimes it’s him or me.  Sometimes I have to not care, it’s a pall on my soul.”

Rape case woman to appeal against jailing for withdrawing allegations (via The Guardian)

Monday, November 8th, 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/08/rape-case-woman-appeal

I shall  be brief, as is this report.

It’s pretty clear that rape allegations should be taken seriously, both from the point of view of the victim, and the point of the accused.

It is entirely correct that such allegations should be taken seriously, sexual violence is wrong; false accusations of sexual violence are wrong.

(To my greater and greater chagrin, I have had to teach my boys that if they are alone with a woman they are putting themselves at risk; for a man to be alone with a woman who desires are thwarted is to be at risk, because an accusation of rape can colour a whole life.  This is not something I have personally had to bear, and I count my self fortunate, but if I do not alert my boys to the danger then I am being a careless father.  It should be clear that I’m trying also to teach them they must always behave impeccably.  I expect no less.)

What then is this judge thinking when he jails this woman for “falsely withdrawing” her claim?  Does he think this is justice?  Because I don’t.  Her former husband denies the claim, and money has been spent, fair enough, but these things are difficult!  This woman has clearly, IRRESPECTIVE of the truth of her claim, been traumatised.  She has divorced her husband, she maintains that she has been leaned on to withdraw the claim.  Where is the support?  She is being punished because the police CPS whatever cannot secure a safe conviction?  What a nonsense, what a twisted mess of priorities, what a sham of justice.

Whatever has happened to this woman, whatever the truth, it will take her years to get over, and if I were her, I would never have faith in the justice system in this country, and thus anywhere, again.

Here is the purpose of this blog entry, let us never forget this, let us never forget this travesty.  Let’s remember that a woman got sent to jail for this.