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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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ID Card scheme to be scrapped within 100 days

Many in South Shields may not be bothered one way or another but this news is a huge relief to the few of us around here who have held the flag of liberty, freedom, and civil liberties over the years, even though we may have waived it around in differing directions. It is good to see the Conservative and Liberal Democrat partners in government moving ahead with projects to roll back the state and save our cash with such incredible speed and determination.

I note from the lack of howling protests coming from the left (ah yes, silence is golden) that apparently the whole idea wasn’t all that popular with them after all, just a pity that they couldn’t have called upon their principles and beliefs to prevent Blair, Brown, Straw, Clarke, Blunkett, Smith, Johnson et al from inflicting such a monumental infringement of our privacy and liberties upon us, and that’s without raising the issues of the horrendous costs and unproven effectiveness.

The BBC reports that:

Some £250m was spent on developing the national ID programme over eight years and its abolition will mean the government will avoid spending a further £800m over a decade.

If you were stupid enough to buy one of the National ID Cards then I’m afraid that this government will not be offering you a refund of the £30 you recklessly thought would save you from international terrorism. If you are desperate to get the cash back then can I suggest that you write to Unite the union who are the principle bankrollers of the Labour Party, I’m sure they’ll find the time to consider your request after they have finished their attempt to crash British Airways.

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Haven’t you got work to do?

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Well I know I have

Just taken possession of a snazzy new laptop with Windows 7 installed along with a huge pile of software/spyware favoured by the manufacturer. So I’ll be spending much of today trying to get it quickly into shape and looking/behaving the way I want it to, whilst I keep an ear open for the coalition’s junior appointments. Why they don’t just give you the Windoze disk and let you partition the drive is beyond me.

Back later.

Written by curly

May 13, 2010 at 8:22 am

Posted in Curly, I.T., Technology

Fossil fuels produce less CO2 than biodiesel

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Government forcing production of biodiesel which pumps out more CO2 than petrol.

Using biofuel in vehicles may be accelerating the destruction of rainforest and resulting in higher greenhouse gas emissions than burning pure petrol and diesel, a watchdog said yesterday.

The Renewable Fuels Agency also warned that pump prices could rise in April because of the Government’s policy of requiring fuel companies to add biofuel to petrol and diesel. More than 1.3 million hectares of land — twice the area of Devon — was used to grow the 2.7 per cent of Britain’s transport fuel that came from crops last year.

Under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, a growing proportion of biofuel must be added to diesel and petrol. This year fuel must be at least 3.25 per cent biofuel on average. By 2020 the proportion will be 13 per cent………………..

Most companies met part of their biofuel obligation by buying palm oil, one of the cheapest fuels but potentially the most damaging to the environment because of the carbon released when forest is burnt down to create plantations.

Expansion of the industry has made Indonesia the third-largest CO2 emitter after China and the US. A litre of palm oil produced on land converted from Indonesian forest produces roughly three times as much CO2 as ordinary diesel.

Can somebody please explain to me why and how public policy has become so muddle headed and disjointed in the face of this climate change/global warming malarkey? I’d love to know why public policy hasn’t backed innovative inventions that actually do result in lower carbon emissions, and we we continue to build and promote vehicles that run on fossil fuels, surely modern technology can provide good alternatives? I guess the answer to my question revolves around the power and influence of oil companies and states in politically sensitive or unstable regions that have leverage over western economies. Why else should compressed air motors not be running around our streets?

Seriously this biodiesel thing is as clever as wind turbines sat under a high pressure weather system!

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Written by curly

February 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Energy, environment, News, Technology

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The weekend entertainment

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Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks

It’s been ages since I featured a music video here, but during the last week I’ve steeped myself in some old Fleetwood Mac albums and spent a fair bit of time listening to Sheryl Crow on Spotify, so what better entertainment than watching them both together performing Gold Dust Woman in 1999?

Incidentally, if you use the Firefox browser, can I recommend the Download Helper extension which allows you to grab videos from nearly all of your favourite video sites and convert them into a format (on the fly if you like) that you can use i.e. .wmv for Media Player, .avi, .mp4, .flv, etc so you can then export the videos to your phone or video enabled .mp3 player – very cool.

So if you are having trouble sleeping you could get yourself a set of David Miliband videos and let the South Shields MP send you off, how cool is that?

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Written by curly

January 30, 2010 at 11:32 am

Miliband on education

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David at Davos

An interesting video featuring the Foreign Secretary and South Shields MP David Miliband talking about the rights to universal primary education for children worldwide. A laudable aim, but the video is more interesting as an illustration of other things (a) Miliband’s desire to embrace modern technology by talking to a webcam enabled laptop, (b) his usual wooden performance which detracts from the important message, and (c) the media huddle finding someone more interesting behind him!

I cannot fault him for trying to espouse his sensible education message in relation to oversees development, but a quiet corner, an empty office, or hotel room, might have made a world of difference to the effectiveness of his delivery.

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Written by curly

January 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

Forget the patches and repairs

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Time to get rid of Internet Explorer

Once more the chinks in Microsoft’s armour have been cruelly exposed after a large scale hacking of Google and Google Mail and some journalists have at last found out that Internet Explorer is really not all that secure. The French and German governments have even advised that people should not use it but look for alternatives, there has been no so such advice from our own government, probably because they have been tied up in so many big money deals with Microsoft Corporation, their products have become the virtual norm in public life, yet I can remember many years ago when South Tyneside College first started experimenting with an internet cafe, and our library services in South Shields  first got their hands on an internet connection that they used the old Netscape Navigator browser, what made them move back towards Internet Explorer?

As the world’s market leader in browsers it has become the No.1 target for hackers, script kiddies, crooks, phishers, and large scale Chinese infiltrations  it really is time to put it away folks, the patches and repairs sent out by Microsoft on a monthly basis are no more than wallpaper to cover the cracks, if you have just a little bit of value for your personal security, and personal data, and don’t wish your browsing habits to be on show for the world to know about then get rid of it.

I personally favour Mozilla’s open source Firefox browser which automatically loads security updates and is almost infinitely configurable and customisable, another good alternative is Apple’s Safari browser which is also available for Macs and PCs, there is also Google’s Chrome browser for PCs (which I have not tried).

Wouldn’t it be great if government and local government could persuade all of it’s users to ditch expensive arrangements with Microsoft and switch over to open source software as a great money saver, come on guys, think about it.

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Written by curly

January 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Another gimmick from Gordon

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laptop

Brown promises free laptop and broadband access – again!

In what aides described as a sign of his commitment to ”aspiration”, the Prime Minister will say he wants every household to have broadband access to the internet.

The aim is to get all families linked up to their children’s schools via the internet and access progress reports on attainment, behaviour and other needs. To make that achievable, he will pledge £300 million of investment to help poorer families.

O.K. I’m feeling pretty down on my luck, poor, but still aspirational – put me down for one!

Of course I ought to realise that anything that sounds too good to be true must be err…..too good to be true.

Both Brown and Balls must be bonkers to be dragging this old chestnut out again, they are either plying us with a cheap joke and having a laugh, or they don’t realise that this governing by initiative lark is a load of old tosh that we’ve heard before. They keep coming back like tired old door to door salesmen peddling the same old rubbish hoping that we’ve forgotten that they rang our bell at least three times over the past year or more with same incredible too good to be true offer.

It started back in September 2008 when Brown made this pledge:

Low income families could get vouchers up to £700 in value to get their household connected up to the Internet.

“To ensure we are prepared for the times to come, the Government will fund one million more households to get online, enabling parents to link with the teachers at their children’s school and helping young people with their homework and coursework”, Brown will tell delegates at the Labour Conference in Manchester.

Just two years earlier the then Chancellor Brown had scrapped the Home Computing Initiative!

He was back at it in January of 2009 when he was endorsing the Carter report’s recommendations that by 2012 would provide minimum download speeds of 2 megabits per second (Mbps) to every household.

“Today’s interim report from Lord Carter sets out the scale of our ambition to compete in the digital economy, a market currently worth over £50 billion a year in Britain alone and expected to grow rapidly in the future. Our digital networks will be the backbone of our economy in the decades ahead. We know that every aspect of our lives – every school, every hospital, every workplace and even every home – will depend on the services the digital network provides.”

Later in June 2009 Brown was again pledging broadband for all, surprisingly:

“We can create the right framework, for example, for the release of wireless spectrum – a national asset – while also liberalising its uses and extending mobile broadband coverage.

“In our fibre optic and cable networks, which will provide the next generation of superfast broadband, the Government must also complement and assist the private sector to move farther and faster.

“The first step must be to make the existing broadband network truly available to all.

“Broadband is at a tipping point. High-speed internet access will soon be essential for everyone.”

That was after the departing communications minister, Lord Carter of Barnes, claimed that large parts of Britain will not receive improved access and his report went on to reveal that Brown’s government had been unable to strike deals with any of the main players in the telecoms industry on how to fund the required infrastructure for fibre-optic connections across the country.

And so here we are standing listening to these snake oil salesmen reading from the prepared script for the fourth time, it’s time to tell them to go away and slam the door in their face. Their record in enabling broadband fibre optic cabling of Great Britain is abominable and they they think they can keep on enticing our votes with gimmicks and initiatives that have been trailed before us numerous times in the past. Brown and Ball once again trying to be seen to be doing something and “getting on with the job”, as once again they deliver another repeat announcement.

Isn’t it time that they realised that the biggest aspiration that the British people have right now is for complete change?

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Written by curly

January 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

EA Sports continue with Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods 18

Gaming company to stand by Tiger Woods

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Where would EA Sports be without Tiger Woods?

Their multi platform golfing game is one of the top selling marques in the world of online and offline entertainment and is the easiest way for some of us to boast about our handicap, it also provides the Redwood City firm with more than $670 million from the Woods franchise in the United States alone over the length of the partnership, according to estimates by market research firm NPD Group. Woods has been used a s a role model to millions of youngsters around the world attempting to complete their first eighteen holes.

But EA Sports President Peter Moore said the company decided to stick with Woods because he is “still one of the greatest athletes in history” despite his “mistakes” off the golf course.

No mention of the size of the sponsorship deal or how much it is worth to the world’s No. 1 golfer, however when journalists attempted to find answers with a telephone call to the star’s home they were told by an aide that he was “out playing a round.”

Boom, boom!

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Written by curly

January 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

WiFi tech help needed

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routerRouter frustration setting in.

“Junior” cannot get full satisfaction from his Christmas present, a Playstation 3 is great to play games on by yourself but he’d like to enjoy the fuller experience of playing against his chums online in South Shields and connecting with the wider world through the internet.

So, we have an Edimax BR-6226n wireless router attached to a Motorola SB5100 surfboard cable modem owned by Telewest/Virgin. The modem supplies broadband access to my desktop PC via USB, whilst the router is connected via the ethernet WAN socket, the PC connects to the router via the LAN ethernet socket on the router.

I have followed meticulously the set up for the Edimax router and the network connection set up on the PS3, and his PSP, and the situation is this: both the PS3 and the PSP see the broadcast SSID and acquire IP addresses from the router but neither will connect to the internet, both showing the same error message “dns error 80710102”. I have looked at hundreds of pages on the internet relating to this error and tried the suggested solutions of using DNS addresses from Open DNS 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.200, but the same error re-occurs. I have tried MAC filtering with the same result, I have tried placing both the PS3 and the PSP into a DMZ assigning static IP addresses and cloning the MAC address, I have tried the dynamic IP address approach too, but again the same problem occurs. Because of the prevalence of so many web pages describing this DNS error it is natural to assume (a) that many people have suffered the problem, and (b) some of them must have found a solution to their frustrations, to date I have not.

I have connected the PS3 directly to the modem via the ethernet socket and it connects to the internet straight away without any problem, this wired option is OK on a temporary basis but Mrs. Curly would like to watch TV and “Junior” would like to play in his own room, hence the pressing need for the wireless option.

The next thing I will do is test his PSP and PS3 wireless connectivity on another router on another WiFi network, and test a WiFi enabled laptop on this network here, in an effort to isolate the hardware/software error.

If anyone has the technical knowledge or has solved this DNS issue on this brand of router, or another, and you can offer me some useful suggestions, I would be eternally grateful.

I am now tearing my hair out (what is left of it.)

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Written by curly

January 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm

South Tyneside Tory wants CCTV cameras to “be fit for purpose”

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Jeff MilburnCllr. Jeff Milburn gives mixed message

We are all used to seeing CCTV cameras on our streets and in our shops.  They are a valuable tool in the fight against crime.  Council CCTV cameras have trebled in number over the past ten years. However,  the Government’s own research shows eighty per cent of CCTV footage can’t be used to prosecute criminals.  A Conservative government would ensure CCTV is fit for purpose – with appropriate safeguards and sanctions to prevent misuse.

So says Conservative Cleadon Village Cllr. Jeff Milburn, who is to represent the party in the  Jarrow constituency of  South Tyneside at the next election. I’m not sure what he is trying to tell us that the Conservative Party would actually do about the explosion of these near to useless snooping devices that councils and privateers are erecting all over our towns and cities in the UK, he acknowledges that their numbers have increased threefold over the past ten years and then claims that they are a valuable tool in the fight against crime.

Well I beg to differ Jeff, I have a near to useless CCTV looking camera overlooking the place where I park my car, kindly left by an old neighbour, it keeps some people mollified and happy, but not me. It seems to me that research and facts prove that CCTV cameras are not that useful as a tool against crime at all, certainly not in London, the crime capital of the UK, where just this year it has been proved that less than three percent of crimes are successfully solved using CCTV imagery and that in reality only about one in a thousand crimes are solved by this means. The Evening Standard had quite an enlightening article at the time. available here.

According to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, who heads the Metropolitan Police’s Met’s Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido), billions of pounds have been spent with almost no results to show. Only three percent of crimes have been solved using CCTV footage, and offenders aren’t afraid of being caught on video. Det. Chief Inspector Neville, speaking to The Guardian, described the system as an “utter fiasco” and that “no thought” had gone into implementation. Other issues, beyond the lack of success standing up in court, include the tedium of police officers spending hours trawling through footage, and often a failure to contact private CCTV operators (such as cameras located on private buildings etc) to request footage.

Yet Labour politicians still believe that more snooping, more prying into family life, more early intervention, more databases, more innocent children having DNA sampled, more ID Cards, and more biometrics, are the answer to crime problem that probably isn’t quite as large as the average Daily Mail reader imagines.

It seems that Cllr. Milburn is NOT telling us that Conservatives would introduce a little more libertarian spirit to the statute book by ordering the removal of thousands of CCTV cameras and the destruction of ridiculously expensive databases that will want to record every minutiae of life from the moment of free captive birth, but more that they intend to make these things work better, improve them, or modernise them! Jeff says a Conservative government would ensure CCTV is fit for purpose, but what exactly is the purpose? Surely the purpose of CCTV is to watch, monitor, and record? Surely it would be better (and cheaper) if you or I did that and reported our findings to the police.

What the Conservative Party and others need to understand is that Neighbourhood policing is what needs to work better, we need to reverse the lack of trust between the citizen and the police, we need to go back to the days of knowing that the policeman/woman is your friend, and that the guy around the corner who mugs your granny is most certainly not! Only by rebuilding this trust will we see more and more people willing to freely give statements, and freely finger their neighbours as community spirit returns to neighbourhoods. Front line police time needs to be freed up, bureaucratic form filling needs to be radically cut away from the job, people need to see police on the streets, not behind desks. Once we become more accustomed to having a two way dialogue with our local police, we will see that the criminals will start to fear their own neighbours (instead of the other way round), because at present too many people have this naive idea that they needn’t bother getting involved – after all, they’ll have it on camera, won’t they?

And another thing, once we feel that the state isn’t prying and snooping into our lives all of the time in an effort to socially engineer our behaviour, then we will feel that much more comfortable about cooperating with the agencies of the state. Freedom and liberty can work wonders when we allowed to help look after our own property and our neighbourhoods.

As far as I am aware, nothing works better in a court than a witness, a human witness, standing up and saying “yes, it was him/her”

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Written by curly

December 29, 2009 at 11:07 pm