* Posts by davenewman

493 posts • joined 13 Feb 2008


Milk IN the teapot: Innovation or abomination?


Standard Indian tea-making

In India, if you ask for tea from a stall, you get tea that has been boiled with milk and spices long enough that all the bacteria in the water and milk are dead. It is a lot safer than what you get at post hotels. And it actually tastes quite good.

Argos changes 150 easily guessed drop-off system passwords


Re: Argos data security

Doesn't have to be a different line. Just unplug the phone for 5 minutes.

Next month's Firefox 48 is looking Rusty – and that's a very good thing


Firefox 48%

Do all the 48% now have to use Firefox?

Data protection, Brexit and campaigners: Privacy policy? Eh?


Re: *EVERYBODY* has access to all that information.

Actually you can inspect the marked register and the election expenses returns for one year after the date of an election.


NationBuilder is a software as a service company. There are thousands of campaigning groups that use its services. Like Google, it can be asked to provide information for police investigations, under the laws of California. But otherwise it is a site hosting the databases of each organisation using its service, like any cloud data provider. I don't think that makes it a data controller, as the data is managed by each organisation hosting there. But I am not a lawyer.

Each organisation mentioned in the article has registered under the Data Protection Act, where they list all the many things political parties need to do to campaign in elections and maintain their databases. They should explain this in their privacy policies. As we see in the article, they don't do that very well.

Several of the limitations on commercial data protection do not apply to political parties. Since voting is a civic duty, you cannot opt out of electoral communications, be it from a council or a political party. For that reason, electoral law entitles political parties to the complete register of electors. You can opt out of the edited version sold to businesses, but not from political communications. Party officers sign an agreement that they will not use the electoral roll for non-political purposes. For the same reason, you cannot opt out of political telephone calls during election periods. It is electoral law that determines what parties can do in such circumstances.

Nevertheless, all parties maintain opt-out lists. There is no point communicating with someone who is not going to vote for you. NationBuilder is designed so that every email blast includes an opt-out link. If you use it to record telephone contacts, the telephone volunteer can mark the record do not call.

NationBuilder, and some rival systems, do pull in data from Twitter and Facebook that has been made available to everyone (not just friends), starting with followers of political party accounts. A deduplication routine each night tries to find matches with people in the database: but they have to be confirmed by a human being before the records are merged.

That is the state of the art as far as most UK parties go. A lot of local parties just use spreadsheets, and have no database. The Conservative Party commissioned a special voter database that failed on polling day last year, containing details of all the voter responses to surveys, so they could deliver to each voter in marginal constituencies a letter about the issue they were most concerned about (there is an article on Conservative Home that explains this).

Nowhere in the UK have I come across the extensive data collection and analysis done in the Obama 2012 campaign, when the Democrats and Republicans purchased lots of commercial demographic data, and even went as far as commissioning psychometric tests of voters in different towns, to work out how likely they were to vote at all. (A talk at a London data science meetup explained how they could explain 90% of the variance in probability to vote through a nested decision tree trained on such data.)

In short, most political parties are using data in the ways they are registered to use it under the Data Protection Act, but are not making this clear in their privacy policies.

Mind the GaaP: UK.gov needs to get a grip on digital


Estonia has done it

The small government of Estonia decided what they wanted to do, then asked techies how to do it from scratch, ignoring what the Russians had built.

It worked, mainly because many of the Government Ministers had technical skills not taught in the Oxford PPS, and know where they wanted to go.

It also helped that it was so slow the civil servants in different departments talked to each other - like in Northern Ireland under Des Vincent but never in Whitehall.

Hey cloud lawyer: Can I take my client list with me?


Re: Sighs

I read that as sending data to someone who worked in HR in a different company.

Patent trolls, innovation and Brexit: What the FT won't tell you


Got fishing wrong

The European Parliament changed the common fisheries policy to allow countries to set up protected marine reserves, in which the fish can recover from overfishing. The UK government have refused to set up more than a small portion of the reserves recommended by scientists (and often local fishermen).

The fishing ports are suffering because of previous overfishing by really large boats their industrial overlords lobbied for.

Yes it was crazy for politicians representing fishing ports to increase quotas above what is scientifically sustainable. A European Parliament committee, led by a Swedish Green MEP changed that, co-ordinated with external protests led by Hugh Fearnley-Witttingstall.

So it is possible to change from within, as long as we reduce the powers of the national governments who seem to always push the lines from lobbyists. MEPs have constituencies with voters to take care of.

This is how the EU's supreme court is stripping EU citizens of copyright protections


Hyperlinks are references, just like in academic papers

a href shows exactly what 'links' were designed to do - provide hypertext references, along the lines of references in academic publications, including all law journals.

It took a lot of public relations work and shady lawyers to change that definition into something that might fall under copyright laws.

Lets stick to the definitions and intent of the inventors of the World Wide Web, who put the reader first, and content providers as servants, not masters of the people.

FFS, Twitter. It's not that hard


Met the first Twitter lead developer in Belfast

He had had enough of the company in 2010. He moved to Northern Ireland.

Why Oracle will win its Java copyright case – and why you'll be glad when it does


Google won, why should Oracle carry on?

In the latest court case, a jury decided that Google's use of the Java API was fair use.

Unless Oracle appeals, that is the current situation. Any speculation on what might happen in further appeals is just that, speculation.

Pointless features add to browser bloat and insecurity


Re: Dubious

Flash's original purpose was to write interactive games and cartoons that could be played with online. All the video stuff came much later.

Want a Brexit? Promise you'll sort out UK universities' £1bn research cash loss


Non EU members cannot lead projects

Organisations in countries outside the EU cannot lead Framework funded projects or put together a team and a proposal. They are brought in by an organisation inside the EU.

So if the UK leaves, we won't be able to design new interdisciplinary projects and bring in others. We will have to wait for someone in Germany, France or Sweden to decide they really, really need the skills of someone in the UK.

First successful Hyperloop test module hits 100mph in four seconds


Better use a Shweeb

That is a bicycle powered monorail


Re: So many luddites...

You swap batteries at the station. Already tested in Denmark.

Panama Papers graph database cracked open for world+dog


Graph has stopped working

The graph display in the box has stopped working. All you get it the list of entities at the botoom

The EU wants you to log into YouTube using your state-issued ID card


Estonian ID cards tell you who is snooping

When someone looks up your data connected to your ID card in the Estonian government, it generates a record you can read of who looked it up, and for what purpose.

Google to admins: We'll tell you when your network is pwned


Outdated Google reports

The Google Search Console Team" <sc-noreply@google.com> just sent us a "User-generated spam detected" report.

It is for a spam web page that was added and deleted back in October 2015. (We accept user-submitted events on a campaigning website.)

Google are somewhat behind the times.

GDS has no real strategy for £450m budget pot, internal plan reveals


The one was deadlines was written in Belfast

The first e-government strategy was written by Des Vincent and his colleagues in the NI civil service, and then taken up by England and Wales. That worked - at least as far in providing useful information on web sites happened. It also got some people working with other departments in NI, Wales and Scotland. But getting different departments to work together in London is nearly impossible.

London to Dover 'smart' road could help make driverless cars mainstream – expert


50 years later than German towns

They could start with speed indicators alongside traffic lights in town. Drive at that speed and the next light will be green. They have had that in Germany for 50 years or more. It just needs disciplined human drivers, the computers are in the traffic light network.

Continuous Lifecycle: Just ten conference tickets left


Too expensive

At those prices, £500 and up, no one is going to buy a ticket themselves. And which companies would pay to send someone on a one day DevOps session? They either will do inhouse training, or not touch DevOps with a barge pole.

Carving up the IT contract behind £500bn of annual tax collection is a very risky move


Re: This is a great idea

I purchase transport in a lot smaller contacts: bus tickets, train tickets, spares for my bicycle. So I don't need a car at all. That is the sort of transformation government should do.

EE-gad! Orange webmail cut off in Blighty outage


myee is down now

Right now, I cannot even log in to my mobile account on ee.co.uk. Links to the login page just generate a blank page.

Alien studs on dwarf's erection baffle boffins


The headline

is excellent

$17 smartwatch sends something to random Chinese IP address


crap watch anyway

The speaker is so quite you cannot hear anything, but after pairing all phone calls come through the watch speaker, not the phone speaker.

Prison butt dialler finally off-hold after 12-day anal retention marathon


Is this the place to ask for ...

Pictures or it didn't happen?

Snowden bag-carrier Miranda's detention was lawful – UK appeal court


Compare the Ars Technica report

where the Judges ruled that the seizure of electronic documents was unlawful, while the detention was.


Capita in line for tasty £139m deal across five councils


Watch devolution break this

If and when central government comes to an agreement with Oxfordshire County Council to devolve central government funds and services, all council services within Oxfordshire will be centralised there, not with Hampshire. We expect to hear something about that in February.

Nvidia's patent war on Samsung is a wreck – what you need to know


Re: Why a Licensing Deal?

Well, there could be cross-licensing, with no money changing hands.

Google takedown requests mushroom as copyright holders play whack-a-mole


requests mushroom

Why does Google want a mushroom from them?

Is China dumping smartphones on world+dog?


UK prices profit gouge us

Far from selling below cost, smartphones in the UK cost a lot more than in the domestic markets of China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

I ordered a 4G smartphone from China for £50. I had to wait for it to arrive by surface mail, but apart from a lack of RAM, it is as good at the over £250 Samsung models.

So they are certainly not dumping.

Blood-crazy climate mosquitoes set to ground Santa's reindeer


The tempory slowdown has ended

and in any case, was made to look more impressive by very careful choice of the starting year.

Colossus veteran flies a drone over Bletchley Park


What about the rest of Bletchley Park

The bits of video in the edit all seem to be above the National Museum of Computing, and not the rest of the Bletchley Park site.

Did the Bletchley Park business people refuse permission for the drone to fly over the rest of the old buildings and the hall, as part of their attempt to take over the computing museum?

Ad slingers beware! Google raises Red Screen of malware Dearth


How do they know it's malware?

Content and site blocking companies often misclassify sites.

The one used by Stagecoach for WiFi on their buses blocks meetup.com because they claim it is adware.

Metadata slurp warrant typo sends cops barging into the wrong house


Simply add to the regulations a requirement that every time the Secretary of State uses these powers, s/he looses a month's salary and the permanent secretary looses a year of pension entitlements.

Spaniard sues eBay over right to sell the Sun


Re: Prior claim

Sorry, both the Milky Way and Galaxy have gone, I've eaten them.

So, EE. Who IS this app on your HTC M9s sneakily texting, hmm?


My £50 Chinese 4G smartphone has no crapware

They are too cheap to bother to install anything other than standard Android on BluBoo phones. They just make them as cheap as possible (for a fast 4G phone with limited RAM).

Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly


Registration bias

There is one new factor this year, that the pollsters may not have taken into account.

There were heavy drops in registration this year, as individual voter registration started in Great Britain.

In Oxford, even after a big registration campaign, 6% fewer people were able to vote than last year. In student areas registrations were 30% down. And in areas where large numbers of people move out and in to private rented accomodation, some 20% weren't registered.

Unless the polling surveys ask people if they are registered to vote, they will not have taken account of a registration system designed to disenfranchise people who are not settled, long-term residents: the natural Conservative voters.

Spooks: Big-screen upgrade for MI5 agents fails to be a hit job


Should have made a film of MI High

The children's TV version by the same scriptwriters, MI High, was much better than Spooks, and funny to boot. That should be turned into a firm.

Reg man confesses: I took my wife out to choose a laptop for Xmas. NOOOO


I recommend Chromebooks to older people

They are so simple to use, with few of the problems that come up on machines running Windows 8, that when older people ask me, as a volunteer at the Connecting Communities, to suggest a machine, I recommend tablets or Chromebooks. Those who bought Windows 8 machines spend weeks learning to find things.

You have a 'simple question'? Well, the answer is NO


Re: I like to think

He probably was a Spanish Civil War volunteer, thinking back to his meetings with Franco

Staples comes clean: 1+ million bank cards at risk after hack


Staples isn't an American company

The top management is Portuguese.

Europe: Apple could NOT care less about kids' in-app cash sprees


The problem is the advertising/description

In the Apple App Store, apps with in-app purchases are still marked as free. It is only by reading the details you discover they can cost you later. It is the app store descriptions that they don't want to change.

Elon Musk slams New Jersey governor over Tesla direct sales ban


Re: Dealerships

Actually, the approved used BMWs have only been used for 3 months by an employee at the Cowley works. They get free use of the car for 3 months, as long as they take it back spotless and unscratched. Then it counts as used, and can be sold as such. My neighbour is currently driving around a BMW Maxi with the word Mini on the bonnet.

London businesses to signal UNSWERVING LOYALTY to capital with .london domain


Which London?

See how many register from London, Ontario and all the other Londons.

The micro YOU used in school: The story of the Research Machines 380Z


Iffley Road

Where on the Iffley Road was the basement?

In a meeting with a woman? For pity's sake don't read this


Re: Unwarranted assumptions

Add to that, you are assuming that people are not taking notes on a tablet, because they have given up using old-fashioned paper, as they actually want to be able to search and read those notes later.

At Manchester Medical School, every fourth year student was given an iPad to use as they went out to hospitals. They found the devices ideal for keeping track of everything they did and learned in consultations, recording their performance and elsewhere. It became the repository for all the knowledge they created.

So anyone banning the use of tablets at a business meeting is sabotaging the business, preventing the capture and accumulation of the knowledge generated during the meeting.

One year to go: Can Scotland really declare gov IT independence?


Hydopowered data centres

Given that the cheapest electricity comes from Scottish hydropower, it makes sense to put more data centres in Scotland, and export less electricity to England.

Oh snap – AWS daddy disses IT's 'old guard': You're so 2000-and-late


All your data belongs to the NSA

Forgot another advantage of AWS. Anything stored there without your own encryption is readable by the NSA and GCHQ, plus their contractors and the companies connected to the military who bribe them for your commercial details.

OK, so we paid a bill late, but did BT have to do this?


Report them to the Information Commissioner

for interception of your communications.



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