Who would need a proofreading?

Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 8:55 | Posted in great britain, languages | Leave a comment
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Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith i’w gyfieithu.

Even a child would know that this message would not translate as

No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only.

That is, any Welsh speaking child would know that it is an automated e-mail reply saying

I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.

Swansea council wanted a road sign to be translated into Welsh and they apparently e-mailed it to a translator who was not in the office at the moment. Unfortunately, the off message actually ended up onto a road sign.

Bilingual signs are good but it sure pays to have somebody with knowledge of both languages to have a look at them before posting.

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The purpose of a pardon

Friday, October 31, 2008 at 17:27 | Posted in great britain, Legal | Leave a comment

Agnes Sampson was burned at the stake in East Lothian, Scotland, in 1591. After rounds of torture she confessed to being a witch.

Now that the British justice secretary Jack Straw is being asked to pardon Agnes and more than 400 others executed as witches in England and Scotland before 1735, I am sure that the wrongfully executed people are going to be glad. Surely, they will be able to continue their lives, won’t they? After all, the purpose of a pardon is to correct any injustice.

How secure is secure?

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 11:05 | Posted in great britain | Leave a comment
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Another massive data loss has taken place in Britain, this time concerning offenders and prison inmates:

A Home Office spokesman said the data was lost by PA Consulting, a private contractor working for the Home Office, and was “held in a secure format on site and downloaded onto a memory stick for processing – which has since been lost”.

Holding data in a “secure format” on site is absolutely the correct way to go about but it is of no use if the data can be downloaded and then recorded onto an unsecure media. A “secure system” is just as unsecure as the weekest link in the processing chain. The British government seems to be a huge data security disaster.

British government obsoleted

Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 5:21 | Posted in Election, great britain, Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As Labour are unable to hold a seat like Glasgow East, a seat which used to be as solid as can be, I wonder if they are able to hold anything at all. Although it was no big secret before last general election that Gordon Brown would succeed Tony Blair, it was Blair and not Brown who ran for PM and was elected.

The dilemma is that the voters do not seem to trust Brown but substituting him with another unelected Prime Minister would be even less justified than the present situation. The honorable thing to do would be to call a general election right now. Labour have been in power for long enough to be corrupted by the power. And the difference between Labour as it is and Tories is like a line drawn in streaming water.

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659 laptops

Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 22:40 | Posted in great britain | Leave a comment
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Another laptop has been stolen from an official of the British Ministry of Defence. This brings the number of stolen laptops during the past four years up to 659. The latest stolen computer had sensitive information stored on the hard drive.

It is just unbeliavable that confidential and sensitive information is widely allowed to be stored on devices like laptops, CD’s and memory sticks. The only sensible place for such information is a secured server that can only be accessed by authorized personnel. Downloading and recording anything from the servers must be stopped and made punishable. It is as simple as that.

With dickheads like that in charge of the British government’s data security I do not wonder that Brittons do not trust the per se good idea of a national ID card and e-government. How can you trust a government that keeps loosing vital data on laptops and other portable devices?

Hung over in London

Monday, June 2, 2008 at 5:15 | Posted in Alcohol, great britain, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Thousands of Londoners apparently had a heavy party during the weekend. There is no doubt something very British about organizing a binge drinking party to celebrate the introduction of an alcohol ban in the underground. One might ask, though, if it was worth the hangover and indeed if any point at all was made and if so, was there any point in it?

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TerroristTourist in London

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 at 6:56 | Posted in great britain | Leave a comment
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If you are going to visit London you had better leave your camera home unless you want to attract suspicions of being a terrorist. You may also want to consider not having too many cell phones with you. And plese be careful about where you swap SIM cards if you decide to buy a pre-paid connection rather than using the expensive roaming services.

The Metropolitan Police are launching and ad campaign asking “members of the public to report any suspicious behaviour in confidence” to an “Anti-Terrorist Hotline”. As it turns out, quite normal touristic behaviour may be regarded as “suspicious”.

Many tourists do indeed take pictures but what kind of photographing is to be considered suspicious? A Londoner should not worry about that but let “experienced officers” judge. Baring in mind the density of CCTV cameras in public places, chances are that one or several could be in your vicinity while shooting photos. So no cameras, please, if you would rather be safe than sorry.

How many is too many? A Londoner should of course leave it to the “experienced officers” to decide but a tourist should probably not have more than one to be on the safe side. And remember what I said about swapping SIM cards. I can just imagine an “experienced officer” asking if you are incidentally carrying a concealed SIM card.

Terrorism is a serious matter but I wonder how many real terrorists are going to be caught with this sort of measures. The more successful this campaign is going to be, the greater chance there is that a massive number of false alarms against innocent people will happen and a lot of those “experienced officers” are going to waste time better spent on chasing real terrorists. Those “experienced officers” did not do too well with David Mery, not to mention Jean Charles de Menezes.

via Petteri Järvinen

Who is eligible to travel?

Saturday, February 23, 2008 at 13:05 | Posted in civil rights, data security, eu, great britain | 2 Comments

According to the Guardian, the British government are proposing a massive collecting and storing of personal data about travellers to be adopted as EU legislation:

Passengers travelling between EU countries or taking domestic flights would have to hand over a mass of personal information, including their mobile phone numbers and credit card details, as part of a new package of security measures being demanded by the British government. The data would be stored for 13 years and used to “profile” suspects.

The British government also want the same system to be applied to sea and air travel within EU.

Personally, I would not mind but that is mainly because I have neither a credit card nor a cell phone. Would I still be eligible to travel?

Oxygen, water and www

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 5:06 | Posted in great britain, internet | Leave a comment
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The British government are preparing a legislation which would compel ISP’s to cut web access for those caught for downloading pirated material (Guardian):

Internet users who illegally download music and films could lose their access to the web under legislation aimed at cracking down on those who flout piracy laws. Powers being drafted by the government will compel internet service providers to take action against customers who access pirated material.

I suppose the British government’s next legislative effort would be closing access to water for those caught for distilling moonshine booze. Perhaps smokers should be alerted as well: the government might get the idea of denying them oxygen.

Immigrants and young criminals

Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 9:38 | Posted in funny, great britain | 2 Comments
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Rowan Atkinson acting as Tory leader in Not The 9 O’Clock News

via Sven

Pot growing boom in Britain

Tuesday, December 25, 2007 at 9:46 | Posted in crime, great britain | 2 Comments
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Diane Abbott writes in a column in the Jamaica Observer that commercial cannabis production in Britain has rapidly increased. The domestic pot industry is believed to fill in a supply gap caused by a cannabis eradication programme in Morocco. Some police sources suggest that Britain may even have become a net exporter of cannabis.

The pot business in Britain is largely controlled by Vietnamese immigrants. A connection with illegal immigration is believed to exist. Nobody knows exactly why the Vietnamese managed to gain control over the business.

Busting the pot factories is a low police priority because it consumes a lot of their resource badly needed to combat more serious crime. Given that smoking cannabis is less damaging than drinking alcohol, one might ask what point there is to prohibit pot. A legalizing would be a serious blow for organized crime, not to mention the tax revenue it would bring in.

A Windsorian channel

Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 17:17 | Posted in great britain, youtube | Leave a comment

YouTube has set up a special channel for the christmas message of Mrs. Elisabeth Windsor. The channel has footage of milestone events connected to the life and times of the Windsor family. Below is the first televised christmas message by Mrs Windsor.

Mrs Windsor works for the British government with special promotional duties. She recently became the oldest person ever to have held that symbolic position as a civil servant. I can not stop wondering that the British government have not set up old age pension for this branch of their civil service.

Apparently, some persuasion was needed before Mrs. Windsor understood and accepted the concept of YouTube. Her lacking education was yesterday criticized by David Starkey in a Guardian interview.

Culture of transparency

Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 0:43 | Posted in Germany, great britain, internet, transparency, video, youtube | 6 Comments
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A month ago I uploaded to YouTube a funny video featuring German soldiers in Uzbekistan having some off duty fun. I wanted to contribute to the popular footage being accessible in the Internet after receiving information that the German Bundeswehr were anxious to get it down from the web and had apparently succeeded in persuading everybody who had uploaded it before me to take it down.

Shortly after uploading the video I received some anonymous correspondence. The first letter had a somewhat harsh tone. I was outright threatened with legal action with implications to criminal charges.

As soon as the language of those messages was changed from German to English, the tone also shifted to more appealing and conciliatory. The person writing to me implyed to be one of the persons appearing on the video and said it would be “helpful” to get it down. When I promised anonymity in exchange of information on the Bundeswehr activity in the matter I was promptly told that the army had not approached them to get it down.

Had I been convinced that there were real soldiers out there getting in trouble because of the video, I would have been likely to take it down. Since I had information from several sources that the Bundeswehr were indeed making an effort to get the footage out of the web and only one anonymous source saying the opposite I felt I needed some sort of confirmation to do anything. I pointed out that any information passed to me would be priviliged under confidentiality of sources of a journalist.

The correspondence promptly stopped as soon as I wrote back a message saying this. For all I know the person writing to me may have been somebody from the Bundeswehr staff trying to fool me into complying so I decided to leave things as they are. I have not heard anything about it in more that three weeks other than occasional comments added in YouTube, all of which are positive.

In contrast to the German military officials, the British Army seems to be very supportive of their service men’s off duty activities of this sort. This home coming video posted by British soldiers in Iraq is a proof of it: the end titles even appreciate that the local commander was encouraging the project.

I do not know if there is a difference between the British and German senses of humor or in the culture of transparency. Maybe the German forces just feel embarrassed to recognize that soldiers have an off duty life. What I do know, however, is that there is no way to actually pull back something which has been spread allover the Internet.

Edit: There is more to the topic in RA-Blog and StoiBär Blog.

What’s the point?

Monday, May 28, 2007 at 22:51 | Posted in censorship, great britain, transparency | Leave a comment
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Prime ministerial swearing seems to be a sensitive topic in Britain, according to the Observer:

Alastair Campbell has toned down his diaries about life in Number 10 after being asked by friends of the Prime Minister not to reveal that Tony Blair swears like the proverbial trooper.

 Now that everybody knows, what’s the fucking point in censoring those bloody diaries?

Stay or go?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 4:53 | Posted in great britain, Politics | Leave a comment
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Looks like he still does not know.

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