Friday, December 31, 2010
6/3 George Formby dies
8/3 Sir Thomas Beecham dies
15/3 Dr Richard Beeching appointed head of BR
26/3 Leigh Bowery born
31/3 Sir Geoffrey Faber died (there was no other Faber)
11/4 Adolf Eichmann put on trial
12/4 Yuri Gagarin first man in space
19/4 Bay of Pigs fails
23/4 De Gaulle broadcasts appeal in face of Algerian coup
8/5 George Blake gaoled for 42 years for spying
8/5 Anthony Wedgwood Benn barred from Parliament as Viscount Stansgate
10/5 Beyond The Fringe opens
13/5 Gary Cooper dies
31/5 South Africa leaves Commonwealth
27/6 Michael Ramsey enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury
1/7 Woman called Diana born
2/7 Ernest Hemingway shoots himself
13/8 Berlin Wall goes up
17/9 Ban the Bomb demo in Trafalgar Square (850 arrests - plus ça change)
18/9 Dag Hammarskjöld dies in plane crash
1/10 Last steam train runs on the London Underground
11/10 Chico Marx dies
18/10 West Side Story opens
25/10 Private Eye starts publication
2/11 James Thurber dies
9/11 Jill Dando born
4/12 Contraceptive pill approved for NHS by Enoch Powell
24/12 Frank Richards (author of Billy Bunter) dies
Oh, and it's my 50th too. Bloody Hell, how did THAT happen!
Having no broadband back then, but a working wireless setup connected to a Microsoft SBS 2000 server with modem (oh happy days!), I fired up the laptop and hooked up to the net and searched around. There I found the website from Buckingham Palace, which showed a similar report, without being *absolutely* sure I was convinced it was him.
Dad had kept completely and utterly schtum on the matter. As he had to.
The following morning, having set a completely unusual Saturday alarm, I rang and asked to speak to 'Mr R Bryant MBE'. "How the hell did you find out?" was his, frankly, shocked response. "Curiosity and the Internet Dad!!". I then explained.
Tonight, catching tweets on this year's New Year Honours, I realise that I'm no longer really bothered by it all, and will catch up with it all in the morning. It doesn't really matter now... Another subtle shift in perspectives.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Thank Heavens for a temporary thaw!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
So tonight it's Christmas fun, and tomorrow will bring what it brings, and then we have 1 last gig and then we can wind down and enjoy the break.
And I hope he hands out the baubles from the tree again!
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
It's not a time for celebration, but commemoration. But with a 5 hour time shift, should i be marking it already? My family are all there (but asleep i hope!). But I'm not. How am i supposed to react, how am i supposed to behave, think, respond?
There are no rules, except to do what feels right at the time. And right now? I don't know.
All i can be sure of is that my Mother and my sister will wake up in a few hours, and be acutely aware of his absence. Over here, i shall miss him (as i have all week i've been here, oddly). But i've got a project to finish, bags to pack, and flights to catch home. Dad's birthday this year will be a few hours shorter, does that make it actually different? Who knows. I've had 2 long birthdays, 32 and 29 hours long. They were nothing special...
Wish you were here Dad.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
So one of the less obvious ways I miss him is literature. Dad didn't have a great love of America (I often told him, "I don't like Americans either Dad; but then again, I've not met one I didn't like". And that's true, the global image of the 300lb yank in bermuda shorts and hawai'ian shirt failing to comprehend a foreign language and foreign currency is stereotypically wrong, but out there.
Dad also deplored the rise and rise of the "Mall". Here in Lexington the area of Hamburg seems to be one extended Mall over a few square miles. But there is a Barnes and Noble. Big corp they may be, but it's also a temple to the printed word (and of course there are others - bigger or better - to be found). B&N have been holding events this week to encourage schoolkids to buy books and get into reading, and that's a wonderful gift, if accepted.
And finally Dad intensely disliked Starbucks' inability just to serve him a simple coffee.
So as I'm sitting in the Starbucks franchise at Barnes and Noble in Lexington, Kentucky; that gives me a lot to think about.
Although Dad never came this way, I think (in the end) he'd have liked this place; and knowing that simultaneously gives me pleasure; and sadness for all the books we won't share anymore...
Either the iTunes infrastructure is no good for films, or the support desk is not good enough at *really* sorting it out.
In frustration, Peter
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Next time i'm passing I'll remember.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
I'm surprised, because as far back as the Moorgate disaster http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorgate_tube_crash 35 years ago, the authorities knew there were issues. The Kings Cross fire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King's_Cross_fire 12 years later had similar problems.
Why after so many deaths and reports into these issues was nothing achieved?
1kC - the maximum range in temperature of the shower
£450 - the acceptable rate per MB for Hotel WiFi
£15 - the minimum reasonable cost per bottle of water supplied to the room
By the lift - a quiet location
7:15 - sufficiently close to 8:00 for your alarm call
17.4kB/sec - Super Fast broadband connnection
By the car park entrance - alternative quiet location
2 - a wide range of pillow choice
€12 - a reasonable charge for laundering socks
€17.50 - bargain charge for 2 boiled eggs and a slice of ham for breakfast
45minutes - close to the City centre
6:30am - reasonable time for room service to knock on your door to see if you have left for the day
2 - sufficient hangers in the wardrobe
1 - copious supply of electricity sockets
1st floor overlooking the main road by the lift and the car park entrance - the quietest room in the hotel
This was because of the keynote. When Brad turned up in suit and tie, i knew we were
in for a repeat of the 2009 disaster that was (now departed to Nokia) Stephen Elop's keynote. I could go on for ages, but i'll summarise instead:
1) Keynotes at conferences have been paid for by the delegates in some way. They have certainly given up their precious time to attend the conference, and expect value back from Microsoft for so doing. At a cost of €1895 for the conference, each session is about €75. I like to get value for that.
2) Keynotes have (traditionally) been exciting. They have brought a genuine WOW into the day, and kickstarted the conference such that everyone feels energised and ready to go.
3) Keynotes have been timed to the start of the day, so rather than meander into the conference you'd want to turn up, get your freebie (if there was one), and see something you've not seen before (the South African drumming especially comes to mind).
This keynote repeated last years failure - Microsoft clearly have not learned from the maxim that you have to remember the past, else you are condemned to repeat it. It failed on the criteria above as:
1) This was not value for money, i did not come out (and many others did not) feeling it was €75 well spent. In fact i came out thinking i'd wasted an opportunity to better plan my conference.
2) There was no excitement, nothing new, no electrifying demo
3) The keynote fizzed out. At the end of the day people left to go and do something better. This keynote was clearly timed to be able to broadcast to the widest possible community (most of whom HAVE NOT PAID for it) including the US. Brad was talking to the suits outside the room not the golfs and t's in the room.
Finally, i was pretty active on twitter during the keynote. It was interesting to note the large number of tweets coming from Redmond (and other locations) staffers who were clearly deluded enough (or encouraged enough) to cheerlead from the sidelines.
Microsoft, get your house in order. Make the next TechEd Keynote 100% relevant to the people in the room, and let others watch because they are interested, not because they are the true audience. Make sure delegates go away:
1) fizzing with excitement for the rest of the week
2) glad to have been there
3) inspired to do something when they get home
And that the online viewers really wished they had been there.
Repeat the same mistake next time, and i'll know for sure you don't care about me as a delegate, and that may mean I (and others) may give up coming. I can watch a lousy keynote from home; and have nicer coffee.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Well, the new iPad has maintained the connection so far, the winmo6.1 phone has connected but been unable to shift a single byte... Maybe I should upgrade to Windows Phone 7...
B) for chutzpah Nokia. For advertising a non Windows Phone 7 device at the Tech*Ed immediately after the winmo7 launch. A bold move :-)
C) Microsft for cutting the cloth accordingly. I've already commented on the bag this year (although that blog entry seems delayed in my phone as the day 1 WiFi seems flaky) but given the choice between a financially secure Tech*Ed and yet another smart laptop bag, i know what i would choose
Now, to Exchange 2010 DR and HA planning :-)
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
So, let people know you're attending the event. It's a chance to make connections people with similar skills and experience and expand your professional network.
If you have registered, then sign on, and sign up. There are many people I meet at Tech*Ed, and it'd be nice to make contact before the show to organise a beer or 3! Too often I bump into them on the Friday, sometimes even at the airport - too late then.
The directory is to be published in October, so sign up soon.
Note, if you didn't join the directory during registration you can still sign up by returning to the registration site and accessing the Returning Services Menu, Attendee Directory.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Don’t forget about the Pre-Conference Seminars on 8 Novemberas well!
Registration is still open for the event – so it's not too late to join 1000's of IT Pros and Developers to learn more about the latest and forthcoming technology from Microsoft.
And there's a mass of videos of the event here Google search results for Mauerfall 2009 videos
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
They are still available for viewing here Channel 9 Tech*Ed Videos
But it's far too late to win the free ticket!
But the content is the same, and what's more, you still get the 2 complimentary support calls to Microsoft Support. If you're a freelancer like me, these can be a great "get out of gaol free" cards. As much as you like to think you can solve any problem, sometimes it's better to call, and (other than call charges) this is free.
And of course you get access to reams of software to evaluate and try out (just don't run your business on it!).
You can see more about what the subscription offers at TechNet subscriptions
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Taking on the unknown: #VMware 4.1 upgrade and how to move from 32bit to 64bit vCentre host and keep your data
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Quite pleased really! And we'd finally managed to get a couple of christening presents we'd been trying to get for weeks.
A good day (the Shepherd Neame tour in the afternoon was a definite aid)
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Inspecting the kits the detail in the new one is incredible - lines are crisp and clear (but practically speaking probably way out of scale). The number of decals is much increased - you even get red decals for the gun ports on the wing (what's wrong with paint?).
I'll take a while to finish both models, but the old one certainly need tweaking as the upper wing sections don't fit at all well. Milliput to the rescue!!
Sunday, September 05, 2010
- all 5 UK based airworthy 2 seat Spitfires flew in the display
- a formation of 4 out of the 6 airworthy Hurricanes were in the air, a fifth came over with the Battle Of Britain flight
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
As for (some of!) my views, well:
- The rural broadband gap is really bad and getting worse. In the old days of modems there was a gap between city centre (say 56.6Kbps) and rural lines (say 28.8). But overall the difference was a factor of 2. With the basic broadband of 512Kb and some providers delivering 50Mb, the factor is now 100. Content cannot be delivered assuming one or the other. I would like to see some sort of rule of thumb that requires providers to ensure that the divide is no more than (say) a factor of 10. This would mean they would HAVE to improve the rural experience before delivering insane speeds in city centres.
- Working from home is normal, and the government wants us to do more. The biggest environment impact is out of town people driving into the cities and towns for work. We generally have no choice because the public transport options are so rubbish.
- Information technology businesses are, by their very nature, more able to work in distant locations – yet the Broadband structures specifically work against that
- Consumption of high data amounts is now the norm – yet provision is not up to the demand. Training and education courses require webinars or video downloads – who’d do that when the download will take many hours?
- Patching (and waiting) – everyone needs to update and patch their computers. Yet if a full patch is measured in GB rather than MB, then a) they are discouraged, and b) they will be exposed to the vulnerability for longer.
- Remote working and support for customers – another ideal ‘work from home’ setup – again frustrated.
- Opportunity for villages to do information businesses in place
- SLA’s – there are no proper SLA’s in place for broadband provision. You lose your phone line and ADSL, and who knows when it will come back. This needs to improve so that any business can assure themselves of their connectivity.
- Finland – has made ADSL 2MB a standard service. Alongside water, electricity, gas etc. A mature response.
- And when sewage or gas is installed into rural locations – why is nothing done to piggy back the infrastructure and deliver a better broadband or mobile phone experience?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
So we asked. The shopfloor staff did not know, so they called the manager. He did not know. He asserted that the farms used were government assured and therefore he did not know what that involved as it was not M&S policy. This was clearly inappropriate as the labels clearly stated "M&S Assured Farm/Pork". Besides, even if it were just government policies, it would be useful to know what it meant.
So I used the feedback form on M&S's website to ask this (with a pre-amble not reproduced here):
"We are anxious to determine whether the standards that M&S use take into consideration the welfare of the animal, or just the animal products after slaughter. Either way your staff SHOULD know what the ruddy labelling means."
The answer came through:
Thank you for contacting us about our M&S assured farm pork.
As you may be aware, animal welfare is a very high priority for Marks & Spencer and we pride ourselves on our high standards and quality of our animal products and suppliers.
We are continually receiving feedback concerning this area and please be assured that your comments are important to us and will be passed to our Animal Welfare and Ethical Trading Team who are responsible for the progression of this aspect of our company. They will be very interested in your comments and look at how this can be implemented in to their future planning and carefully consider the points you have raised.
We do have a large amount of information regarding our welfare standards, product sourcing, and food policies on the Marks & Spencer website under the section entitled 'About our food', just go to our website at www.marksandspencer.com.
I hope this information helps and thank you for taking the time to get in touch.
Please be aware that this email has been sent from a ‘no reply’ email address.
If we can help you any further, please contact us via our website. You can do this by clicking the following link and selecting 'in store service and feedback':
Alternatively, you can call us on 0845 302 1234 where we will be happy to assist you further.
As a search on M&S’s website failed to get a hit on welfare standards, my reply went thus:
This was your answer about pork welfare standards.
You'll notice that it doesn't actually tell me either:
a) what the standard is
b) where the standard is to be found on your website (i have tried)
c) how the standard compares with RSPCA freedom food
A search for Welfare Standards on your website produces 0 results.
Care to try again?
Monday, August 09, 2010
The big optout campaign
NHS Statement on opting out
Computer Weekly’s view on matters
And their report on Janet Street-Porter’s article
Frankly I think that it is more likely that either
a) an inaccurate SCR will cause my death or injury, or
b) my medical data will be leaked to someone who has no need to read it
than my being injured/killed as a result of no SCR being held.
Think about it – when you arrive in A&E you’re mostly conscious, or have conscious friends/family with you. If neither occur, then emergency life saving procedures rarely run the risk of killing you with the wrong thing, yet an inaccurate SCR (and there are reports of significant inaccuracies - I've seen numbers like 1 in 10 bandied around) will be taken as Gospel and used. I'd much rather the well understood and exercised defensive A&E practices kept me alive. That link also includes the observation that there is "No evidence of safer care"
Nor is it clear who is responsible for errors and ensuring that the records are corrected .
If you have a serious allergy (some of my family members are allergic to penicillin) then an SCR will not prevent A&E killing you with the wrong substance if you are outside the scope of the SCR (say Ireland, Scotland, Europe, Asia.... anywhere outside England & Wales in fact).
Besides, really, if you have a serious allergy or similar then wear a medical alert bracelet!
But back to the point – the website detailing what can and cannot happen with your records seems to have a contradiction at its core.
On the page detailing Access to medical records it is stated that "Access to a patient's demographic record does not require a legitimate relationship."
Yet, when you click on the link from the words "Legitimate Relationship" you go to (surprise suprise) Legitimate Relationships page you get the statements
"A legitimate relationship (LR) is an electronic record stored on the Spine. It details the care relationship between a patient and a healthcare professional (or group of healthcare professionals).
It is used to restrict access so only the healthcare professionals involved in the patient's care can access clinical information"
So which is it? Can anyone read my records, or only closely involved medical staff – I’ve asked, maybe you should too; and in the meantime maybe you should opt out of the SCR process too.
Friday, August 06, 2010
- my in-laws' network does not broadcast SSID
- and is encrypted with WPA2-PSK
- the data take by Google was allegedly very small (just how long was the Street View car in range anyway?).
Monday, August 02, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
So I thought I’d use their web presence to give them our feedback, which was a bit pointed but then we did want them to mend the damage to the road surface:
It was with some amusement that we received this back:
I don’t see this as a logical part of their “friendly and professional service”, I’d dispute the word extremely. And of course the word remediation has nothing to do with recompense – we just want the surface re-instated.
Equally tickling is the dual assertion that the road surface is both dirt and tarmac (which was invented about 1500 years after the Romans left!).
I’d say it’d be better to mollify complainants than discharge aggressive, factually incorrect and facetious replies to potential customers. Pissing people off is never a good B2B or B2C tactic
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I have a suggestion. In many local councils and government bodies there is a swathe of jobs in recently popular areas. The jobs are a declaration by the body that they take an issue seriously and are taking steps to sort it. I'm thinking of jobs in environmental, diversity, promotion of recycling, you know the sort of thing I mean - jobs that pay £30-50,000 a year (along with the associated employers and benefits costs).
Compare this with the real world of manufacturing which is part of an economy that actually generates money for the country rather than just spending it (OK that's perjorative, but not unfair). There, as far back as the 80's Quality departments were under pressure as manufacturing costs had to be clawed back for businesses to survive. The thinking then (and some of this came from the Japanese manufacturing world), was that everyone has a responsibility in the company for quality. It wasn't a bolt on feature that came after the widget came off the line - it had to be built in, every member of staff had to understand their role in ensuring that quality was to the necessary standards.
I propose the same for all these jobs in local and national government and organisations like the BBC.
Any job that relates to a policy that should be embraced by all staff, and acted upon universally should be removed and those responsibilities transferred to all staff as part of their normal job requirements.
So for instance: promoting equality in the workplace. Everyone in any workplace should know that they are required to be fair to all people irrespective of race, creed, colour, religion, sexual orientation, shoe size (OK, that's a joke). Anyone failing to do that should be processed by the organisation's hierarchy as a natural part of employment. It does not need a flotilla of staff within the organisation to ensure this.
Equally for an organisation that requires this of it's clientele (a local council for instance), the staff should also be able, trained, and required to ensure that the treatment of the clientele, and (if necessary) the behaviour of the clientele is appropriate and reasonable. We don't need a bunch of highly paid staff to ensure that this happens.
The bottom line is that government funded bodies need to learn to integrate their policies and standards into day to day life, and stop employing expensive staff who only create policies and procedures that self justify, and then create a further workload to ensure that the incumbents positions are secure.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
- He asked me to retype my password into the router. And read me the password from their files!
- When that failed, my password was changed, and then I had to type it in and it all came to life. However as it was doing so he put me on hold. After waiting 2 minutes to see why he could not talk to me I gave up, and hung up the phone – it was working and why should I help fund virginmedia further?
- Why do virginmedia keep password information in clear text – obviously some customers with weak password policies may use the same password on more than one site (not recommended I know, but…) and therefore a data leak may lead an identity attack, or compromise other information or website access
- Why can virginmedia staff change the password and then tell you they have done it – surely a good protocol would be to explain they think they need to do it, and ask if would be OK?
- Why does changing the account password mean that their entire technical infrastructure will suddenly let my router connect and allow me to use the service?
- Was there some deeper technical problem earlier in the week where client passwords were compromised or lost?
- Why did the password change significantly remove a hardening approach by removing all upper case letters?
- If a company offers a service with a helpline that costs the client, then why does it need 2 minutes of press 1 for a, 2 for b etc. to get through to the right line. If you have that structure, why not give it out with the number and allow customers to route more quickly to the technician, thus reducing the cost?
- If you are going to cut customers off – do you not have a moral duty to reimburse the costs the customer has lost by having to make the call more than once?
- If you have had serious infrastructure issues – why are you not offering apologies to customers and refunds for a service paid for, but not received?