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Showing posts from April, 2005
Rubik's Cube

Has anyone got a Rubik's Cube? I've decided it's a metaphor for the technology industry and need on for a presentation "prop". The last time I saw my own was about twenty-five years ago and it's probably buried somewhere in a box in my attic.

If you think about it, the cube makes a good metaphor if you write the names of certain ICT trends on its sides. More later I expect as I have to go to London now!
A Single Issue or A Local Issue?

The immigration issue raised its head once again on Thursday, with a visit by Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, to the marginal Labour constituency of Thanet South, being contested by Tory candidate, Mark MacGregor, the party’s chief executive under Ian Duncan Smith, rather surprisingly labelled as a "destructive force", this week, by the former party chairman, “The Chingford Strangler”, Norman Tebbit.

Roger Gale MP, David Davis MP and Mark MacGregor - Almost an MP?

In Thanet, North or South, it’s hard for the Conservatives to escape the subject of immigration as a local issue and Davis was at the port of Ramsgate to investigate the porous nature of border controls that his party promises to address if they are returned to power next week.

Davis was asked if he had a message for the people of constituencies like Thanet, who have seen the real impact of the government’s immigration policy over the last decade. At local level, this has touched-up…
A Bird in the Hand

I seem to have found myself working as co-pilot on both the Labour and the UKIP aircraft on Election Day. As my politics extend to neither it may be an interesting short story to write on 5th May.

International election observers welcomed at the port of Ramsgate

My car has just been attacked for the “umpteenth” time by a local hooligan. He’s not wearing a hooded sweatshirt but has shifty yellow eyes, a “F** You” expression, feathers and a rather wicked looking beak. If having the Seagulls tearing one’s rubbish bags to pieces aren’t bad enough, this one is attempting to use its beak as a tin-opener on my car roof. Of course throwing anything heavy at the "HooliGull" is only likely to do damage to the car and if the bird could stick two fingers or feathers up at me, it probably would!
Asleep at the Wheel

It was 2001 when I commented on a Gartner Group report which suggested that a whole generation of up to fifty million Americans could become 'functionally illiterate' in the future due to a lack of knowledge of, or access to, the internet.

UK Broadband Rankings - Source Point Topic

This, I wrote in The Observer newspaper, was a warning to the UK, which was still at the start of a national internet strategy and I continued: “In Britain, where a quarter of homes are believed to have access to the internet, one can sit comfortably inside the well-connected embrace of the M25 and imagine the benefits of the new dot-communism reaching equally in all directions. But look less than a hundred miles into the South East, as far as Margate perhaps, and the gap between new- and old-economy imagination and aspiration starts to resemble a chasm.”

Today, I’ve downshifted and become a telecommuter, like tens of thousands of others in this country. In fact, I’m now not so far f…
Open Source Breakthrough in Schools

According to a report in eGov monitor today, Becta, the Government's lead agency for ICT in education, is set to release a new report which will say that schools could save significant sums by switching to open source software.

The landmark report will show that OSS can be implemented successfully in schools and present documented examples of cost savings from its use. Becta's report, based on a study of 15 schools, will state that open source office products have been demonstrated to offer schools a cost-effective alternative to proprietary software.

Among the key findings will be that primary and secondary schools using OSS substantially reduced the total cost of ownership per PC. Support costs - typically accounting for more than half a PC's total cost - showed the biggest reduction.

Burial at Sea

I've never buried a fish at sea before, particularly a Goldfish but on firm instructions from my daughter, before she left for school, I have just been down to the seafront to "bury" Sparkle, the immortal Goldfish in the great North sea.

We wondered if Sparkle would ever shuffle-off to that great fish-tank in the Sky but last night, he or she, was discovered floating lifeless at the top of the tank and so with great occasion and accompanied by a very curious dog, I let Sparkle float out to sea with the tide. Very moving it was too!

The Internet Boom has Stalled

The penetration of the internet has stalled. The Oxford Internet Institute this month rushed out findings from its latest survey, for a public sector seminar. Professor Bill Dutton, the Institute's director, said the headline finding is that internet access in Britain has plateaued, at 60%, barely moving from 59% in 2003, and that we are a long way behind the US and parts of Scandinavia. These findings are broadly supported by Ofcom - which intends to investigate this summer - and BT.

Guardian Unlimited :
Losing Control of Schools

Last month, in a conversation in a local business, I discovered that the two people I was speaking with, had between them three children, two boys and one girl, who were excluded from school in the same week. The two boys for pornography offenses and the girl for disruptive behaviour. The parents felt that their children had been wronged, even though there was no argument over whether they were innocent or not.

The parents felt it was counter-productive to exclude the children from school for these offenses and that headteachers would now exclude unruly or difficult pupils at "The drop of a hat." The parents did however not appear overly embarrassed that their children had been excluded.

The Observer article, which will be the basis for a documentary examining the collapse of order in British schools next week next week, has a supply teacher, secretly filming her experiences at a number of schools over the year. "My role", she writes, "w…
Mapping the "Digital Divide"

The Point Topic guide to the Election. As far as broadband and the Internet is concerned, probably the biggest issue at the Election is the "Digital Divide" - the gap between the Internet haves and have-nots and how it could be bridged.

The Point Topic guide to the Election
Mandelson, Paul Allen and a Caribbean Party on a Luxury Yacht

Microsoft? EU investigation? Conflict of interest? Never heard of them mate! Times Online

What conflict of interest?
An Interview with EUjet's Stuart McGoldrick

It’s now been six months since low budget airline, EUjet made its home at Kent International Airport, Manston. Simon Moores’ asks EUjet’s Group Commercial Director, Stuart McGoldrick what the challenges have been and what the future holds for the airline.

Stuart McGoldrick

Q: The airline has attracted consistent criticism over punctuality and cancelled flights since its start in September of last year. Is such criticism now a thing of the past?

A: In the last month, we’ve exceeded 95% of flights on time. Previous to that, weather delays presented us with problems in what I’m told is the worst winter Thanet has seen for years. I’m pleased to say that we are now operating at 100% of flights within one hour of schedule with no cancellations.

Q: Are you planning to add any more routes?

A. We just have, at the end of March with our summer routes. We are operating eighteen from Manston and six from Shannon. We cancelled some routes, as you know, bec…
WiPhishing hack risk warning
You've heard of war driving and phishing but now there's yet another reason to wear a tin-foil hat every time you surf the net. "WiPhishing" (pronounced why phishing) involves covertly setting up a wireless enabled laptop or access point in order to get wireless-enabled laptops to associate with it as a prelude to hacking attacks. [via The Register]

All About Service

Or Creative Customer Service

It’s not much to ask for you might think a telephone number of a company so that you can return a faulty product under warranty.

takeoff -3
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

In fact, it’s a great deal to ask of Creative, the company which makes those rather nice media player rivals to Apple’s iPod.

One of the great benefits of being a business in the internet age is that you have every opportunity to keep your customers at arms length. It’s a “New customers only” kind of philosophy which has new business on a cheap-rate or free telephone line and those irritating existing customers with complaints or faulty goods, kept at arms length behind email or a premium rate number in Mumbai or Dublin.

I rely on my own ZenTouch media player to stave-off the monotony of long train journeys and airport lounges and so when mine decided yesterday, to freeze in the middle of playing ABC’s 80’s hit, “Poison Arrow”, I tried everything from resetting the device to looking for hints…
Thanet from Above

Here you are then, a growing library of hi-resolution photos of my home area of Thanet in Kent from the air. It has schools, The Ursuline, King Ethelberts, The Charles Dickens, Dane Court, town centres, Westwood, Ramsgate Harbour, Broadstairs, Westgate and more.

You can download photos by going directly to the photo set indicated at the left hand corner of the slide show. There's an option which says "All sizes" which is for downloads.

We have much higher resolution shots, to the point that I can almost read my car number plate but if you want these, then you'll have to make a direct request as these are 20Mb files.

See the Thanet from Above Slideshow,

Westgate Pavillion
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Click the photo to go direct to the photo library.
Top Infosec Threats in 2005 - The Unisys View

Many people don't immediately think of Unisys when it comes to information security but through its managed services division, it's up there with the "Big Boys", throwing punches at IBM's own Global Services and competing with the likes of another rising star, Symantec when it comes to delivering a secure corporate infrastructure.

Because it has so many large, global customers, it can take a view on the up and coming threats for 2005. No surprises here.

1 Application software breaches will lead to "lemon laws".

2 Trusted networks involving business partners and others will grow as sources of risk.

3 The mobile realm will continue to grow as a "Petri dish" for security incidents.

4 Cyber attack styles will become virulent.

5 Organized attacks by internet desperados will increase.

6 Enterprises will turn to proactive "defence-in-depth" as business needs drive security.

7 Credit reporting agencies wi…
U.S. Military's Elite Hacker CrewThe U.S. military has assembled the world's most formidable hacker posse: a super-secret, multimillion-dollar weapons program that may be ready to launch bloodless cyberwar against enemy networks -- from electric grids to telephone nets. The group's existence was revealed during a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month. Military leaders from U.S. Strategic Command, or Stratcom, disclosed the existence of a unit called the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, or JFCCNW.[ via Wired News]
Microsoft to Release a Thin-Client Windows XPI'm reading on Brian Madden's Thin Client Web that Microsoft is about to release (don't know exactly when) two new versions of Windows XP targeting the thin-client market (These products are not the Lite XP versions that Microsoft is about to release on certain countries like Brazil). Codenamed Eiger and Munch, these two new releases would let you 'convert' old PC into thin-client Devices. Is Microsoft trying to compete with open source projects like PXES or ThinStation?" - Slashdot
The Tesco Principle at Work

(Writing on the socio-commercial issues of living on the Kent coast, from my Thanet Life weblog.)

To even contemplate allowing more amusement arcades to replace derelict shops in both Cliftonville and Margate high streets sounds like the height of poor judgement.

The problem we are facing in Thanet is not an isolated one and in part, reflects Tesco’s quite remarkable annual results last week.

St Georges St Canterbury at War - Real Urban Deprivation

Within a five mile radius, shopping centres, such as Westwood are rapidly consigning traditional high street shopping to the history books and creating a commercial desert in their place. After all, who shops in Margate or Cliftonville now unless they really have to? Parking is often impossible and perhaps the principal draw lies in the presence of banks, now that the village banks are being steadily closed.

Shop in Margate or Cliftonville and you can see the result of a new kind of socio-commercial deprivation. More t…
BBQ Hunting over Bracklesham Bay

An interesting excursion along the South-coast to Bracklesham Bay yesterday to tow a promotional banner for a customer near Bognor. The BBQ detector on the front of the aircraft quickly identified a very small grass strip in the area , the home of the Bracklesham Bay Microlight Flying Club that we dropped into, run by Roger and Sue, who were busy setting-up the club's Sunday lunchtime BBQ.

Hidden between two fields, a caravan a hangar and a windsock

While Captain Bob took their excited teenage daughter Ella for a ride, I stayed on taking photos, with Bob's new digital camera, which weighs more than the aircraft!

Bob and Ella

If you're looking for Bracklesham Bay on a weekend, head towards the Isle of Wight from Bognor but wait until you smell cooking sausages, just before you run out of land. You'll be very close.

From Bracklesham, we followed the south coast at low level taking aerial photos before turning inland beyond Brighton toward Roche…
An Abyss of Fraud

It’s an odd story, the journey of a stolen credit-card number that started in Vancouver and ended in Moscow but it remains a comment on the size of the problem now facing law enforcement, financial institutions and business as organised crime becomes as global an enterprise as any bank or car manufacturer.

The credit card in this example was double-swiped in a Vietnamese supermarket in Vancouver and the details, with those of many others were sold to a Chinese gang in the same city. In a political sense, Vietnam and China may not be the best of friends but organised crime isn’t bothered by politics and in Canada, the two ethnic groups frequently work closely with each other in a wide range of crimes.

The credit card number quickly found its way to mainland China, where the gang passed it to a safe credit-card production “factory” in Burma, where it was cloned so perfectly that nobody could tell it from the original, still in its owner’s wallet at home in Canada.

The Chin…
Beyond Hope?

By sending the Deputy Prime Minister to Ramsgate, is Labour tacitly conceding Thanet South as a lost cause?

Prescott, a man whose intellect lies at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum from that of Robin Cook, is almost guaranteed to offend the moment he steps off his "Battle bus" and his visit to South Thanet appeared to be no exception.

I have to wonder if Prescott's appearance suggests that South Thanet is so marginal a constituency that it's almost beyond hope or is it an appeal to Old Labour sentiments, Prescott being the last dinosaur remaining in a New Labour cabinet, which now has more in common with George Bush than Nye Bevan.

Tell me I'm wrong.

I've been dieting for a month now, trying to get back down to my 1998 weight of seventy-five kilos. I'm almost there, seven down with two kilos of stubborn weight to go but I've discovered in the process that as one ages and one's metabolism slows, how little one can eat and still not lose any weight.

Of course, 1998 was the year that I attempted to run across the Sahara in the Marathon Des Sables, you might expect me to have been a little leaner. Too much super-marathon running caused my Achilles tendons to give up and my orthopaedic surgeon to be somewhat unsympathetic and so the best I can do is jog a little and use the gym.

Never having to bother about weight before, I've also noticed how insidious "grazing" can be. I miss chocolate desperately but live on strong coffee, which is possibly worse than "snacking" between meals.

I'm going to have to exercise a little harder and eat even less carbohydrate than my single piece of butter…
£1bn a year - that's how much is lost to scamsMoney: Conmen widen the net to catch out record numbers. £1bn a year - that's how much is lost to scams Conmen widen the net to catch out record numbers. Have you received a letter from a pair of clairvoyants in Geneva named "Lise and Rose" offering to predict your "winning" lottery numbers? Or an email soliciting your donation to what looks like a tsunami disaster website? [via Guardian Unlimited]
Long Delays A2 – No Kidding!

There was a time when using a motorcycle between Thanet and London gave travel some predictability but today, the writing was very much on the wall, the “bikers” advantage is almost gone.

Twice, this morning I was forced to double-back from the two main routes into the South side of town and in the end, I had to try and squeeze through the Blackwall Tunnel, setting a new record of two hours before I reached the BMW service centre on the Wandsworth road.

The motorcycle reception has actor Ewan McGregor’s BMW 1150 from his “Long Way Round” series with Charley Boorman and it’s exactly as it arrived back from it’s global circumnavigation, marginally more scruffy than my own 1150 but with many more dents, a consequence of Mongolian dirt tracks and Siberia’s “Road of Bones.”

Sitting in the rather more plush-looking car showroom, waiting for my bike to be finished, I watched one young Chinese couple paying in rolls of “fifties.” The Black Economy. I thought ,is obvio…
Party Videos

I've just seen the Conservative Party video and think they could have done a much better job or even borrowed some ideas from Bremner Bird and Fortune perhaps which has some very funny clips of the different parties.

Howard's Way

While the Conservatives might have made theirs funnier, Labour's challenges the voters' intelligence, with Gordon and Tony, the best of chums apparently, only weeks after the personal staff of each appeared to be privately briefing against the other.

Leaving aside the LibDems - has anyone see a video from them yet - or even UKIP, Labour's video is slick and expensive and the Conservatives may have missed a trick.

Mind you, in the end it comes down to who or what you believe in this campaign and what you want or expect from a government; a nanny state moving towards a European model of taxation or more of a "hands-off" and more accountable government with the promise of lower taxation and a much thinner public sector?

How does one politely tell a local council that one "Can help" with a local government website without appearing arrogant? I just had that experience and the young women at the other end of the phone immediately went on the defensive. Of course, she doesn't know me from Adam but I can help, really I can if you'll just take a moment to listen.
A Computer System So Bad It Makes You Want To CryStories about overbudget, overdue, and underperforming IT development/consulting projects are all too common, especially with the government, but this one merits some attention. It seems that some systems designed by EDS and BT Consulting for the U.K.'s Child Support Agency were so rife with problems that it drove employees to intentionally enter wrong data and, even worse, to tears. The CSA spent £500 million (only £200 million more than planned) for a broken system that was two years late. And it didn't even come with appropriate training: carefully crafted demo disks were substituted for live system use. Of course, horribly designed and implemented IT systems making users cry is nothing new to government agencies. But all the action is in the U.K. these days. The scale of the EDS/BT boondoggle in particular-- both the financial and emotional toll -- ranks up there with the worst of them. [via Techdirt]
Eight patches - five critical - in MS April patch batchJust when you thought it might be safe to pop your head up above the trench, Microsoft issues eight patches - five critical - to deal with 12 vulnerabilities on Tuesday. Fixes for Windows, Internet Explorer, Word, MSN Messenger and an update for Microsoft Exchange (2000 and 2003) all featured in Microsoft's latest patch batch. [via The Register]
A Walk Around Reculvers

My daughter Charlotte and I walked around the Reculvers towers between Herne Bay and Birchington this morning, taking photos as we went. It was of course used by the famous Dambusters as a landmark in the training for the "Bouncing Bomb" raids on German dams in the Second World War.

Drop in and visit the tourist centre and museum, it's tucked away next to the car park and worth a look. A nice pub which serves good food is conveniently next door.

You can find a photo Slideshow of Reculvers HERE.

Dambusters Fly-by

According to its entry in "What to See in England":

"About 3 miles to the east of Herne Bay, the twin towers of an old Roman church stand prominently out from the flat marsh-land which stretches between the villages of Herne and Birchington, some 5 miles from the well-known health resort of Margate. Regulbium, now known as Reculver, and Rutupium, or Richborough, near Sandwich, were two Roman stations guarding the entrances to the …
Our Finest Hour

The quiet bombshell dropped by Alan Jebson, Chief Operating Officer at HSBC Bank, appeared to go unnoticed by journalists at last week’s eCrime Congress in London.

In his keynote speech to five hundred law-enforcement, government and business leaders from around the world, Mr Jebson suggested that if end users were unwilling to take proper security precautions against the risk posed by identity theft and other forms of online compromise, then it would not be reasonable to expect banks to continue to provide those without a minimum standard with online banking services.

Last week’s survey figures released by the UK National Hi-tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) revealed that NetCrime had cost business £2.45 billion in the last twelve months. A growing proportion of that figure is now represented by fraud against financial institutions as a consequence of the activities of organised crime gangs using “Phishing” and “Pharming” Remote-Access Trojan (RAT) and other identity-theft techniq…
Manston Patrol

The tanker Linnea, captured by my camera, anchored-off the Margate road, having an unexpected visitor as the Coastguard aircraft takes a low-level pass across the bow.

You can watch a Web slide show of the patrol HERE.

The Manston patrol has four principal assignments. Working with the Coastguard on CNIS, the Channel Navigation Information Service, Fisheries and Customs patrols and of course SAR, Search & Rescue, with the Islander carrying a powerful camera, mounted on a gimbal below the aircraft and a fourteen-man dinghy which can be dropped next to any vessel in difficulties while it waits for the nearest SAR helicopter to arrive from Portland.

In many respects new technology available to CNIS, which maintains traffic separation, much like a maritime version of an aircraft Mode C transponder, has actually reduced the aircraft’s mission load because vessels are now required to be fitted with an automatic information system, a mandatory transponder which reports the ves…
Be Prepared

The website editing engine has been down most of the day and so I'm late posting an entry.

M-Wise computers in Westbrook concluded that my laptop's hard disk had died but still managed to recover all the data and install a new 60GB drive and my copy of Windows XP , all for £90.

In fact, there was only one file that I was worried about losing and in the end I found it. Having experienced at least four separate systems crashes in the last two years - remember I write for the computer press - I now have a separate 80GB USB drive attached to any machine I'm working on for any time. As a result, I mirror all my data and when something like yesterday's crash happens, it's no longer a disaster. In this example, I had restored everything I needed, about 3GB of files, photos and programs, to the repaired laptop inside ninety minutes.

My advice to you then is to expect your PC to crash one day and at the worst possible time. You can avoid the pain with a visit to PC …
Digital divisions tackled head-onThe British government aims to tackle the digital divide with a wide-ranging action plan. A seven-point plan to tackle Britain's "digital divide" has been unveiled by the government. It will try to remove barriers such as cost, lack of training and confidence that keep some people off the internet. The plan involves a scheme to lease computers to pupils so they can access web-based teaching materials at home. Another project will see a "digital challenge" prize awarded to the local authority which shows how the internet changes the way it works with citizens. [via BBC News ]
If It Involves A Blog, It Must Be New!How might one spice up a seemingly banal story about a research institute inviting comment from the public? Or how about a story about the routine, if not mundane, leaking of closed courtroom activity? Why, just pepper them with a buzzword, that's how! This time, the magic word is "blog." The first aforementioned example comes from England, where a BBC headline trumpets "Blog calls for 'digital UK' ideas", as if a blog is a sentient being capable of putting out such a request. In actuality, a British think tank is soliciting input on how technology can improve people's lives. Any bureaucratic entity seeking public commentary should be applauded, though it's certainly been done before, electronically and otherwise. The second example involves a Minnesota man publishing otherwise-unpublished court proceedings through his blog ("U.S. blogger thwarts Canadian gag order"). The ostensible big news: he…
The True Cost of Apples

With my smaller Windows laptop in for repairs, again, I was once more thinking about an Apple iPod or G5 but a programme on television just put me off.

In America you can go to jail for doing this!

The Gadget show just dropped an Apple G4 and a PC from a balcony onto a concrete floor and then set about trying to discover how much it would cost to repair each one to a working state.

The Windows PC was easy. Go to PC World, buy a new motherboard for £60 as the one inside the PC was fractured, as was the case, install it and turn on the machine. It works. It may look like it's been hit by a train but otherwise it still picks up email as if nothing had happened.

The MAC on the other hand was rather different. You can't actually "buy" spare parts anywhere. Apple doesn't allow this. You have to go to an Apple dealer - they don't grow on trees you know - who may charge £50 an hour just to take a look and then, as parts aren't held in stock, yo…
Information System in the NHS

The latest and updated version of the paper "Information Systems in the NHS" from the Conservative Technology Forum with a foreword from Andrew Lansley MP, the Shadow Health Secretary can be found as a link document (PDF) below.

Andrew Lansley

Normal Service Will be Resumed

Finally escaped from London and the clutches of the KGB but only to discover that my laptop computer has died, possibly of overwork, on the way home to Thanet. As a consequence, there's a brief interruption to service, while I take it into M-Wise computers to see if it can be coaxed back into life.

General Boris Miroshnikov of the MVD (k)

I also discovered during my stay in London that Nikon cameras don't bounce and my own is now on the way back to the repair centre. This doesn't stop me taking photos as I have a smaller digital Pentax but include the fact that I left my phone charger in the hotel room, then it all adds up to a day where I'm coming digitally "unglued".

By the way, you can see a slide show of photos, my quick snaps from the eCrime Congress HERE.
Click on Crime

With the BBC's Stephen Cole, presenter of "Click Online", who has been doing a great job chairing this year's eCrime Congress in London. Having introduced a Russian MVD General to the Deputy Director of the US Secret Service, I'm hopeful that world peace may have broken out. Mind you, sharing a dinner table with the MVD, (was the KGB) the US Secret Service and the NHTCU, the freely flowing vodka was rather too much for me.

Chavoir Faire

Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Just back from a cheese and wine raid over to Abbeville. What astonished me is the appearance of French "Chavs", lots of them, almost identical to the Thanet variety but rather better dressed, as one might expect, in designer hooded jackets, Nike trainers and baseball caps.

Have the British I wonder exported "Le Chavism" to Normandy and why would the French want such a thing anyway?

In fact, the American "gangwear" industry has a great deal to answer for on both sides of the English Channel but at least most fashion-conscious and bored-looking French youths wouldn't be seen dead drinking lager or having themselves tattoed or pierced in unusual places.

Abbeville Airfield
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
Having landed at the absolute madhouse of le Touquet airport to clear customs, there was of course nobody there and nobody at Abbeville either. It does rather make a mockery of the anti-terrorism legislati…
eCrime 2005 - Next WeekHeads down for next week's eCrime Congress in London and nursing a heavy cold, I may yet have to have to be the voice of a KGB General, for his speech to the Congress. We are now expecting around 500 delegates and the programme is now fixed in concrete at Microsoft I see a 'safer ID' system and it's CSO, Scot Charney will be along on theTuesday afternoon. Microsoft says its Windows program, "info cards", will help people manage their IDs for safer online transactions. ID fraud is one of the UK's fastest-growing crimes, with criminals netting an estimated £1.3bn last year. [via BBC News ]