* Posts by Tom Willis

15 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Mar 2008

UK.gov opens up delayed child protection database

Tom Willis

@Dave Harris

You might like to review the first sentence:

"The government said it had today finally begun training local authority officials to run the new ContactPoint database, which will contain personal information all 11m children in England and Wales, after months of delays and political controversy."

ALL children in the regulated area (note: not Scotland or Northern Ireland). All 11M of them. Does that change your mind?

Labour minister says 14 year olds should get ID cards

Tom Willis

@Sean Crago

"Assuming that your system is properly implemented (allowing access to medical care and other basic perks of citizenship, acting as a student ID, acting as a drivers license, etc)"

Not a chance - seriously, This is in addition to all of those. The UK tends to gold-plate its implementations, but these sensible uses are just not on the horizon, There is no intention of making the citizen's life easier, unless you believe the claims it will help fight terrorism and identity theft. Anyway, it's less of an ID card and much more of a massive national database.

It strikes me that the Scots will probably escape this though; perhaps the other three nations should declare independence from the UK too, now there's an incentive.

Study: Vast number of cyber attacks 'Made in the USA'

Tom Willis

@AC 05:38

Ubuntu is housed in the UK. Quite a well-known distro, I'd have thought.

Is Microsoft's Silverlight evil?

Tom Willis
Gates Horns


...meaning Windows and Mac only? No Linux support that I can see; also no Opera support. In fact, compared with Flash, hardly cross-platform at all.


Gordon Brown's secret life as network admin

Tom Willis
IT Angle

@With all the Daily Mail-reading cretins pouring undeserved hate at Gordon Brown...

Well I guess you'll believe what you want to, but "He's a nice guy who's given us 10 years during which our GDP doubled, fairly sustainably"? Oh dear me...

From www.statistics.gov.uk: (table) ABMI Gross Domestic Product: chained volume measures: Seasonally adjusted, Constant 2003 prices, Updated on 25/ 7/2008

1997 942154...2007 1247285

That's a 32% increase over 10 years, about 2.8% per year on average - respectable, but not massive - not a doubling, what could you have been thinking! China's growth over that same period has been stratospheric by comparison. I presume those figures are in £GBP; recast them into €EUR at the appropriate yearly rates and you'd find the result rather worse.

Not everyone that 'hates' Gordon Brown is ill-informed, and epithets like 'Daily Mail-reading cretin' and 'undeserved hate' say more about the author than the subject in hand.

Oops, did I just feed a troll?

IT - because online stats and a calculator really *can* make discussion more reasoned...

Home Office bankrolls plastic plod 'documentaries'

Tom Willis
IT Angle

@JCL - central ID database/YPM

The 1980s spoof National Registry was 'priced' at £35M, while our current one is somewhere skywards of 200 times that - has the pound really devalued so much, or has computing become that much less good value in 25 years?

Or, hmm lessee, does government gold-plating make up the difference, or private partnership overhead, or... well anyway, what a bargain that 1980s version would have been heh.

British drivers face jail for causing death by dangerous driving

Tom Willis
IT Angle

2 laws/day? not even close

According to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/2254464/Gordon-Brown-breaks-record-for-new-laws.html

Currently cruising at 2800+ laws/year, up from 1700+ a couple of decades ago. Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

At 10 months' sitting/year, 5 days/week call it a round 200 days, that is well over 10 laws/day. Add in the EU laws, and what do we get? And I wonder how that compares internationally. IT must be the wrong business to be in...

Criminal record checks could hit over 14 million people

Tom Willis

what a bureaucracy

14+ million people needing CRBs, some of them multiple (because the CRBs are not transferrable) and renewed every year. Makes well more than 20M issued per year, or more than 2/sec. Exceeds even the workrate of getting us all NIRed up.

£50 per CRB, more than 20M per year, sounds like a £1bn+ industry to me. I'm impressed.

Could be made more efficient though. I know, make the CRBs person-centric not document-centric, like say passports. Hmm. Need to disambiguate them for that to work - say using biometrics like fingerprints or whatever. Perhaps have a network of interview centres? Oh and make the CRB an actual card thingy, with pictures and all.

Places of public entertainment are a problem, there are kids all over the place, football matches say (and clearly swimming pools, shudder). If the CRB is an actual card then we should ask to see it to permit entry. Must be swipeable then, because it would be nightmarish to have to inspect each one visually every time.

With CRBs so handy and omni-present, who needs ID cards? Bit like drivers' licenses in the States. Hardly worth designating them, even, but heck one might as well - that way they pay for the CRB *and* for the ID card! Wonderful.

Laugh or cry? I think I've decided to laugh, otherwise would have to avoid every news site, blog, TV programme or chat in the pub. Actually, perhaps we all need to be a bit more European in these here Isles - laugh uproariously and ignore the law, if not actively try to subvert it. How else to stay sane?

Prius hybrid to get rooftop solar panel

Tom Willis

US/UK mpg

1 US gallon = 0.83267384 Imperial gallons

1 Imperial gallon = 1.20095042 US gallons

So approximately

50mpg(us) = 60mpg(uk) = 4.7L/100km

50mpg(uk) = 42mpg(us) = 5.6L/100km

UK punters love Nokia, hate McDonalds

Tom Willis

@Thomas Tregenna

Ah but lovely dinosaur ridge or clam incroyable? Only on top on my paaasties, even if we emigrated to Devon...

Six months on from HMRC, data losses still rising, says ICO

Tom Willis

"In three cases the information was recovered"

Does it matter if the information was recovered? Presumably it was never actually lost, just a copy of it went astray.

Saying it was 'recovered' would make most people think that the problem had been rectified, whereas in fact (a) the information was never 'lost' and (b) recovery does not mean the information has not been copied and retained by someone with larcenous intent.

I am puzzled; do these people not understand didigtal information systems at all or are they deliberately intending to deceive?

Or both, of course.

Bah. Tell me every other country gets this wrong too, please?

Home Office won't appeal immigration ruling

Tom Willis

@Island habitat, @A more pressing question

Quite so. Some of us are such recent immigrants that we have a place to go 'back' to. Others don't. Still, I'm sure we'd all be accepted in the USA if it came to that:) Or maybe the Olduvai Gorge, or...

But surely, we *do* all need ID cards, to prove we exist. Hmm. Presumably if we can't prove we exist, then we can't be immigrants and can't be deported. No, shurely shome mishtake.

Mebbyn Kernow! (Aliens, we're all aliens)

French Googleslayer gets the green light

Tom Willis
Dead Vulture

I Seek

In Latin, that is - I'd pronounce that <kwai-row> to rhyme with Biro, but since there is no one accepted pronounciation of Latin extant then YMMV.

It is a bit French ENARCist to use a Latin word there, isn't it? A bit nudge-nudge we're so much more cultured than les Anglos. Sadly for them, as noted above, that means many anglos will studiously avoid their project, although perhaps that will be its own source of satisfaction for any elitists there might be around.

This whole Brits-don't-speak-languages bit is getting on my tits though. I learnt English, Latin, Attic Greek, French and Russian at school in England, before then Malay and Chinese, and since then Swedish and Dutch, some dabblings in Estonian, Finnish and Hungarian, a bit of Esperanto and Interlingua, not to mention many computer languages - not bad for a Brit Engineer maybe? So, when taking a taxi in Milan whose driver only speaks the local variant of Italian I try Latin, Greek, English, French, Swedish and am still considered a doltish monoglot Anglo moron by the infinitely more cultured driver (but then Italian is the only glossis one needs, hein?). (Sarcasm alert for the culturally challenged.)

Anyway to misquote:

"So now you Brits may have a vague idea of the root of words like

quest, request, query, et al...

English does contain many Latin-derived words, after all :)"

Quite so, and the Oxford English Dictionary, that exceptional piece of learning, tells us so and much more besides. Thanks for sharing your prejudices.

Microsoft reveals its database for the cloud

Tom Willis

A property bag of name/value pairs

"A container is a collection of entities and is what you search within, analogous to a single database in a traditional model. An entity is a property bag of name/value pairs, where each item may have the same or different properties.

...every item in SSDS has a few fixed properties: an identity that is a globally unique identifier, a "kind" that identifies the category of the entity, and a version datestamp used for concurrency checking."

Sounds remarkably like a Notes database. Very useful for a lot of purposes, not new but there we go... Maybe good quality replication and offline edit access will result.

New York's Freedom Tower to depend on RFID

Tom Willis
Paris Hilton

@Not meaning to cause offense

Called the Freedom Tower becuse of its height: 1767ft celebrating the liberation of the oppressed peoples of America from the damn Brits. Presumably it will open on 4th July too, just to rub it in.

And of course, RFID is a total respecter of personal freedoms so it fits. Good use for the technology though, IMHO. Always thought that mesh networks of tiny sensors would be a technological wet dream and a civil liberties nightmare.

(We all love Paris in the Springtime...)