If David Davis was my MP would I break a covenant?

I have never voted Tory in my life, but the stand that David Davis has made may just change my mind – if I lived in his constituency. The paranoia of today’s society for increasing anti-terrorist measures is a self-fulfilling prophesy that was used by Bush to gain power, maintain power and now that his era is almost over – he regrets.

The UK lags behind the US. Let us learn from that regret and not make the same mistakes.


Polonium Possibly Pulverises Planes

If the Polonium scare shows anything it demonstrates quite clearly that protection agencies can do very well with easily identifiable and well understood hazards. With less well known, less likely threats they seem to be at an almost complete loss initially. Yes, they get better at reacting, but so do the people who purport to cause threats, whether they be individuals, terrorists, States or whatever / whoever.

On line in the Internet we see the cat and mouse game of threats played out on a daily basis with viruses, Trojans and the like. What value is there in having a virus checker that catches a virus that was around 10 years ago? Probably not very much. Any hacker would be too embarrassed to send a new variant of an old virus, knowing that, and also unless this was a significantly different variant (which would then probably qualify it as a new virus) then it would have great difficulty getting of the starting grid. So a lot of hacker effort would go nowhere.

Would it not be more fun, interesting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding to a virus writer to create a new virus that has no defense in traditional anti-virus programs? I just received an email from British Airways announcing their position on the Pulonium scare. And not surprisingly it takes a similar position to announcements from Microsoft. Microsoft announce / release security hot fixes when the problem is “solved”, when it is history. Before that moment they say very little, if nothing. Announcements tend, as with that from BA, focus on the good news, leaving debatable points and further negative issues in the background for those interested in reading between the lines.

So what lines could one read if interested? What about other planes? ok so the originally suspect planes are ok, but what about all other planes? What guarantees are their that a pulonium scare is possible elsewhere? Obviously we should not stop flying or travelling. Also we should not let scares such as this stop us from living our normal lives.

Is Office 2007 going to be too little too late?

Google is going from strength to strength with its fledgling on-line documents and spreadsheet editing facilities.  More and more small companies will find these totally and seductively attractive.  They will not be wowed by sexy toolbars – just the ease of collaborating with colleagues on key documents at no cost above the ubiquitous browser.

Right now Google is promoting these in its usual low-key basis. No direct marketing and an emphasis on viral approaches.  And so the take up will be steady as the tools become stronger.

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The National Trust – living a lie?

Many UK citizens belong to and/or support the National Trust, a popular organisation that looks after homes, gardens and land of historical value to the country. Right now the organisation is promoting a make-over via its magazine, one that promotes a stronger emphasis on the environment and climate change issues.

In all this the National Trust is seen to take a largely reactive position, hardly ever is it seen as a pressure group trying to move forward challenging agendas, rather it looks like a cosy fireside discussion group served with tea and cakes. Such an attitude leads the trust into paradoxical positions. For example the magazine is saturated with holiday adverts and lots of these involve flights. For example there is one with tours of China.  But what better way to damage the planet is there than to promote and support flights for largely recreational purposes?

Surely if the National trust is to shed its 19th Century look and feel it is the time to develop a campaign running along the lines of the anti-smoking campaign similar to “SMOKING KILLS“, with a planet health warning along the lines of “FLYING KILLS” aimed at flights for leisure and holiday reasons.  All adverts promoting flights for leisure purposes could then carry this “FLYING KILLS” global health warning.  In doing so surely the National Trust could dig itself out of its quaint fireside bucket and become a real organisation for a better world!

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Tree planting in Beckley

We were especially pleased this year to plant some trees donated from Oxford’s Freecycle into what has become an annual tree-planting event in a beautiful field just North of Oxford, near a village called Beckley. Here is the opening video I shot.

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Woiking in Woild Toime

Over the last six years at least I have had the pleasure of working on projects with colleagues spread across the globe.  Many working from home, or other people’s houses.  Others at traditional places of work.  Whichever the case one common issue is “knowing” what time zone other parties are in, when it is convenient to have a call etc etc.  Most computer applications are poor at sharing inherent knowledge of time zone differences.

One exception is Skype which has that information to hand. Not easy to find – but it is usually there.  Simply click on a contact and the time information is displayed on the right hand side.

There are important ramifications of working in Woild Toime, which I shall follow up in a later posting.  If you are interested in Woild Toime issues please let me know.

Protect yourself from salmonella – buy UK eggs

According to DEFRA report 1 in 30 imported egg boxes contain salmonella, increasing to 1 in 8 if those eggs are bought from either Spain or France.  Here are some guidelines you can use to help stay healthy:

  1. Simply avoid salmonella poisoning – buy British, since nearly all British eggs are salmonella free!
  2. Avoid buying eggs from local shops & markets since these are likely to be imported.  Personally I do not like this idea since it hurts the small trader, but…
  3. Avoid pre-made egg sandwiches since these are more often than not made with imported eggs,
  4. Longer term we should put pressure on supermarkets such as Sainsburys, Tesco and the Co-op and food producers to say where there eggs come from with proper labelling on food products that contain eggs
  5. Actually if you take the wording literally – simply don’t eat the boxes 🙂

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