* Posts by Alex Osmond

22 posts • joined 27 Mar 2009

Tony Blair closes RSA 2012, denounces WikiLeaks

Alex Osmond

Re: What a fucking hypocrite!

Apples and Oranges?

Your kids don't vote for you, you don't 'represent' them.

A very very different relationship. I want to know what 'my' elected leaders are up to - and I should have that right.

No refunds for ID card pioneers

Alex Osmond
Big Brother

Stupid? No, just conned.....

Have a bit of sympathy guys. Most people who bought ID cards on the basis of the information put before them by the media - that they were a more convenient, cheaper form of passport. Have a look at the publicity, and most newspaper articles outside of the likes of the Guardian, and that's all you'd see. Same for most of the IPS staff who were duped into buying one - nobody telling them about £1000 fines and lifeflong data retention. You can only make a judgement on the basis of the info presented to you (OK, you should have the gumption to look a bit deeper, but do we honestly all do that? All of the time?)

So spare some thoughts for the poor dupes.

No, the villains I want to see punished lie elsewhere. It would be a joy to see the smile wiped off the fat, smug, overfed face of James Hall (IPS Chief Exec) and his "leadership" team, by having to make a public apology for the misleading propaganda they've been pumping out.

The Cameregg plan: Who got what?

Alex Osmond

Theresa May

"Cameron satisfies the case for bringing women forward: by giving her as well the portfolio for Women and Equalities, he makes her a true heavy-hitter in Cabinet."

Equality? She has an appalling voting record on gay rights which is a bit worrying.

But good news on civil liberties, can't come too soon.

UK hot-swaps leaders - Brown out, Cameron in

Alex Osmond

That was theory, but reality....

Your 2006 quote predates actual usage of ContactPoint by 3 years. Now, if you go and talk to child care professionals who have been using the system in the real world (and many of whom were very sceptical prior to it being introduced), you'll find most think it an extremely useful tool and they wouldn't want to lose it. Primarily the benefits are in time saving, but there have also been a number of instances of child abuse cases being identified at an early stage when previously they'd have been missed until serious damage had been done.

Any readers involved directly in social services etc who'd be prepared to comment?

Biometric passport 2.0 scrapped alongside ID cards, NIR

Alex Osmond

IPS is a broken organisation

Whatever IPS becomes it needs to be given a thorough cleansing. The current management, almost entirely drawn from the private sector, has no public service ethos and has destroyed morale with constant change initiatives and being dishonest with their own staff about ID cards. They took over the General Register Office 2 years ago and have made a complete mess of it, destroying what was a very successful partnership with local authorities and showing little respect for the experience and knowledge of existing staff.

Johnson reveals ID register linked to NI numbers

Alex Osmond

@Who Are The 2400?

You missed a couple of obvious categories :

1) IPS staff who have been bribed (time off work, free travel) to sign up

2) Fraudsters who want to be first in the queue to learn how to forge these things

Mind you, both may only contribute small numbers. About the only ones stupid enough to sign up in IPS are those actually working directly on the Identity Scheme (they have to try and convince themselves that they are actually doing something worthwhile with their lives). And how many crooks are so daft they think these bits of plastic will have any use by the end of this year?

Amazon punters go mad for 'Laptop Steering Wheel Desk'

Alex Osmond
Jobs Horns

Is there a connection?

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought....

Apple iPod cable

DCSF opens ContactPoint rules consultation

Alex Osmond

@Guy Herbert

"Quite. And notice you have to apply, under a system where DCSF guidelines presuppose refusal in most cases - you have to prove to the local authorities satisfaction that not being sheilded will produce serious danger in your particular case."

The vast majority of shielding has taken place because local Child Services deemd it to be appropriate - children of abusive relationships, witness protection etc. Also including the children of high profile public figures (which happens to include some politicians) who might conceivably be targetted. Yes, you can apply for shielding, but in most cases it will happen automatically.

Sharp intros 5in ARM-based netbook

Alex Osmond

What more do you want?

Webcam for Skyping would be nice.

Cameron condemns Tweeters as tw*ts

Alex Osmond


"We need more MP's who were in the force, and not lawyers."

Vote Jedi?

Visa dings teen for $23-quadrillion restaurant charge

Alex Osmond

So that's where....

....Fred Goodwin went.

iPhone v Pre - the celebrity smartphone deathmatch

Alex Osmond
Thumb Up

More like this please

Good article.

I'd like to see more of these sort of comparisons, ideally focussing on the different OSes available. Perhaps because I have been reliant on Palm OS in the past it would be good to be backing something with a longer term future when I next switch.

WebOS is on my list of possibles, but if the Pre handset is a weakness the OS may not get the chance to survive for long.

Hitler kicked off iPhone

Alex Osmond
Jobs Horns

It's probably just me....

...but I read the words "kicked off" to mean "originated" rather than "removed from".

Which conjures up a completely different scenario.

How could an evil megalomaniac possibly have been responsible for a gadget which has brought untold benefits to mankind?

ContactPoint goes live despite security fears

Alex Osmond

@.....well, everyone who responded to Alex

Firstly, to the AC who described me as a “condescending prick”.

It’s a fair cop guv. I deliberately set out to be provocative about this subject to see what ideas were out there. At times I did go a bit OTT, so apologies to anyone I upset. (With the exception of ‘Pat’….)

To date I’ve tried to take a neutral position and not stated my own point of view on ContactPoint, so the following may come as a bit of a surprise to a few people. I am opposed to CP. I’m delighted that one of my kids is too old to be included, and sorry there’s no way I can get my youngest off it (he’s getting near to 18 so might not be on there too long). DCSF won’t remove him, and the legislation allows them to take that line. I know, I’ve tried.

The reasons for opposition have been stated ad nauseam in previous posts so I won’t go there, but I particularly liked the posts of John Smith and FooID.

But I still believe the fact that CP has come into existence indicates a problem needing to be solved, and was interested in those suggestions which did emerge.

Matt, sorry, I didn’t ignore you consciously, our posts crossed in the ether. You are absolutely right. Our wonderful government is, for reasons which continue to bewilder me, obsessed with bright shiny IT projects. Much of the money being poured into CP could be spent on the sort of basic suggestions you make, but it’s almost as if they think such things aren’t dramatic enough and therefore can’t succeed. In part that’s media driven (e.g. the ‘paedophile on every corner’ obsession you mention), in part I think it derives from ministers feeling that they have to be doing something BIG. (To be fair, maybe some of us would be the same – when you reach those exalted heights maybe there is a lot of pressure to be seen to be doing things – do we get the political system we deserve?)

I think your only tech-related suggestion suggested improvements to local case handling systems. I’d be interested to hear you expand on that one and how it could help with the problem.

The other ideas which intrigued me were those put forward by Sleepy (15:52, 18th) and Chris Kelsey (10:32, 19th). The former is still prey to accusations of unnecessary data capture, and both could have security concerns – but those will always exist. Does anyone think Chris’ suggestion has legs?

Now - is anyone in DCSF following this?

PS - Final add-on, as I just noticed query raised by AC @ 10:44 about the data sources for CP. As far as I know, and my knowledge is imperfect on this, the initial database is compiled using NHS records, birth registrations, DWP records (presumably child benefit claims?) and internal DCSF data (presumably schools etc.). It can then be modified at a local level by authorised users who have (theoretically) contact with the children concerned. Hope that helps.

Alex Osmond

Good news, bad news....

Good news - my previous posting (12:21) has attracted several responses, which was what I asked for after all.

Bad news - not one of them has attempted to provide the sort of constructive viewpoint I was asking for. And at least one (yes Pat, I mean you) doesn't appear to have sufficient command of English to understand anything I was saying.

Actually there was one suggestion - thank you to AC 13:37 - but it misses the whole point.

"Wouldn't it be simpler and cheaper for childcare professionals to simply presume that any child they have contact with may have previously been contacted by other agencies, and then simply contact those agencies to see if they have any active cases?"

In a simpler world that might be feasible, but, rightly or wrongly, there are numerous local agencies which might have contact a child (do you ring round every GP and A&E in the area to see if they've had the child in to deal with injuries?), and social workers and the like, whatever you may think of them, have very busy workloads. Can you see why this isn't an option?

To AC 13:27 who claims the gift of "second site" (sic) and wants me to grow up, well, what can i say? My views on the problem ContactPoint is attempting to address are not derived from "lying, cheating MPs" (does it occur to you that you may be confusing your issues a bit?) but from other (and in my view more reliable) sources. Of course the system will only be as good as the use that is made of it, it's only a tool like any other. But perhaps you were taught to think this way at the Universtiy of the Bleedin Obvious?

You suggest I "extol the virtues of this system". Emmm.....where? I actually say that CP may be the wrong answer. If you want to comment on my posts can I suggest you try not to make stuff up as you go along.

ElFatbob - You suggest the prior question is to ask if CP is the solution to the problem. Emmm....I take it Business Analysis isn't one of your strong points? You have to define the problem before looking at solutions. i was trying make sure that we were all talking about the same problem.

You also, along with many many others here, want to condemn all government IT projects out of hand. <sarcasm>Because, as we all know, all public IT projects are total failures whereas the private sector is a shining example of success every single time.</sarcasm>.

Blinkers off please. Some IT projects, public and private, fail, some succeed, most muddle through. Why doesn't the media report on successful government IT projects? Do you really need me to answer that question?? Can I suggest you seek your views on the world from sources beyond the Daily Fail.

BTW, I am open minded about these things. I do not believe that personal data should be captured and held unless there is a demonstrable reason for doing so. For which reason I am vehemently opposed to the NIS and ID cards, and I pay my subscription to NO2ID because of that belief. Equally I find this obsession with government IT systems bewildering. The big Credit Reference Agencies hold scary quantities of data about each and every one of us, and are not subject to the sort of external scrutiny that government departments are. You'd do well to be worried about them too.

And then there's Pat. Oh Pat, thank you, you gave me the best laugh I've had all day.

I'm guessing that I'm quite a bit older than you. When I was at school we had to do something called comprehension tests. To prove that when we read something we'd taken it all in and understood the message within the text. You didn't have them, did you? Or if you did your poor teachers must have despaired.

Read my post again. Try - really try - to understand what the words mean. Maybe you'll find a grown-up to help you. Then look at your response again. And tell me, in simple terms, which bit of my text says that I believe all children must go on the database.

And that's why I won't be able to tell you what my reason is for wanting all children on CP - because I don't think that and I've never said it. Once.

OK guys, I'll have one more go. In nice simple language that (maybe) even Pat can understand.

Victoria Climbie and Baby P (and many other less high profile cases) have shown there is a business need for childcare professionals to be aware of the contacts a child has with other services. Does anyone want to dispute that?

If that's accepted there are two basic choices - do nothing, and leave things as they are, or do something.

Personally I don't think doing nothing is an option. Doing 'something' probably involves several strands, many of which are not technology related - better training, structural reorganisation within local authorities, changes to working practices etc. Each may make some improvements, but none is a definitive 'solution'.

So can technology also play a part in building up these improvements? DCSF have said yes to that and ContactPoint, rightly or wrongly, is part of their answer (there are other systems too). It's easy to point out the flaws in CP, as so many above have done. But does anyone have a positive suggestion for how technology could be used more benificially?

I will tell you one thing - the concept of ContactPoint is actually welcomed by a large number of local authority staff working in this field. Whether that welcome lasts when faced with the reality of the system remains to be seen. But the need for what CP is trying to do, as opposed to the CP system itself, should not be doubted.

Can we have a "I'm fed up explaining the same thing over and over to morons" icon please?

Alex Osmond

@ Pirate AC, 11:50

I now claim the gift of second sight.

You were prepared to quote my sentence about Barnardos and KIDS, to make way for your own cynical comment, but ignored my words only 2 sentences later :

"Although I'm sure some conspiracy theorist will leap to contradict me...."

What a sad bunch you seem to be, all lining up to knock the concept without any attempt at constructive criticism.

1. It would be a plus if childcare professionals had some means of identifying others who had had contact with a child they have some responsibility for, so they can cross reference with other proffesionals where they have grounds for suspecting abuse etc.

2. Technology might be able to provide an enabler - not a solution in itself, but something which will help facilitate the above happening.

3. ContactPoint is an attempt to provide that enabler. Maybe it's the wrong answer - but if you think it is then do you have a better idea? Could technology provide some help with this problem, and if so then how?

Anyone up for the challenge? Anyone ready to be positive.....?

On your marks, get set, Go.

Alex Osmond


"in the case that supposedly sparked this system's creation.. the problem wasn't that the agencies didn't know where the child lived.. but that they didn't share their case notes. Which ContactPoint won't do either.."

Partially correct Jeff, but slightly missing the point. The main reason the agencies didn't share case notes is because they didn't know there were any to share. That's the gap ContactPoint aims to fill - if a childcare professional is able to see that others have also had contact with a particular child they can contact those professionals to find out the details. The intention is that it helps them to join the dots and see the bigger picture.

Almost all the posted comments to this article have been negative, and as IT pros, looking at the security concerns, I can understand why. But just ask yourself one or two questions before you continue to slate this project.

First, is the underlying intent behind the project a valid one? I'd argue, from the example given above, that the aims are laudable. Note that the partners in this exercise are not just government agencies, or the Cap Geminis of this world, out to make a fast buck from the taxpayer, but Barnardos and KIDS. No doubt they are not perfect organisations either, but their raison d'etre is child welfare. If they didn't see some benefit from their scheme they wouldn't be involved, would they? (Although I'm sure some conspiracy theorist will leap to contradict me....)

If the answer to the above is"Yes, there is a valid intent underlying the policy", the next question to be asked is "will it do more good than harm"? No policy/system can ever be perfect, there will always be downsides. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Are the risks valid? The data being discussed already exists in various formats - either in paper in a social worker's filing cabinet or in a local authority computer system. Is the creation of a central database really that much greater a security risk than exists already? The answer is probably yes....but by how much? Do the potential benefits, of preventing another baby P, outweigh the new risks?

I'm not saying I know the answer, but I would like to see responses here that seriously address those issues. Unlike the ID cards nonsense there is (IMHO) a genuinely beneficial public policy initiative underlying ContactPoint. If, as an IT pro, you think it's not being properly implemented wouldn't it be more helpful to make some constructive suggestions on how YOU might go about tackling the problem?

Glum face to reflect my disappointment in the relentless negativity of my fellow Reg readers.

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS compact camera

Alex Osmond
Thumb Down


Travel = sunshine = need for optical viewfinder

Musician dumps instruments for iPhone

Alex Osmond

No problem

It's not as if a Take That audience are there for the "music"....

Go, Brown, go!

Alex Osmond

@Ian Ferguson

"...can you name somebody in the current government better qualified and capable than Gordo to replace him?"

Or in the Tories? (That'll be the same party that still has the lovely John Redwood, alien of this parish, lurking in the ranks)

The only thing I can think of in the Tories favour is that they promise (ha, ha) to scrap the oppressive nosese that is the the National Identity Scheme (or 'Service', as the IPS now jokingly want us to call it). But other than that they're going to be the same as we had before.

Anyone care to say they think the LibDems holding the balance of power (highly unlikely outcome due to our anti-democratic electoral system) would be any better?

We're all doomed....

Moderatrix quits El Reg: Latest

Alex Osmond

Sarah, Sarah, wherefore art thou Sarah?

Tea and sympathy? No wonder journalistic standards are slipping. In the good old days it would have been several large gins, a stiff rogering from the editor and straight back to work.

This is political correctness gone mad.

Now where's my Daily mail gone.....

BOFH: Defiling the profile

Alex Osmond

Abso f**king lootly brilliant

Says it all


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