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June 27, 2005

ID cards: so much for confidentiality

The Independent: "Personal details of all 44 million adults living in Britain could be sold to private companies as part of government attempts to arrest spiralling costs for the new national identity card scheme, set to get the go-ahead this week... The opening of commercial talks contradicts a promise made when the Home Office launched a public consultation on ID cards in April last year, when officials pledged that 'unlike electoral registers, the National Identity Register will not be open for any general access or inspection.'"

Looking on the bright side, though, this should really help to mobilise opposition on the Labour back benches.

(Thanks to Cath for the link.)

June 27, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 26, 2005

More Vodafone GPRS technical information

Bernhard Gaul stops by to register some more usability concerns, and to offer some great info on Vodafone GPRS/3G technical issues and support. Thanks Bernhard!

June 26, 2005 in Software | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2005

Bush criticises Iranian election

This is almost too easy: "Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world." Bless.

June 17, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 13, 2005

Firefox raspberry shocker

It seems that Firefox blows a nasty raspberry noise if you search for some text on a page and it doesn't find it. It's really quite intrusive and disconcerting, and I'm sure it never used to do this. Is it a 1.0.4 'improvement'? Is there a way to turn it off?

June 13, 2005 in Usability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You wait years for an OUSFG librarian then two come along at once

So I signed up to the no2id refusenik pledge and, skimming the list of signers, thought I recognised the name next but one to mine.

Turns out that Archie Maskill, like me, is not only an OUSFG alumnus but also a former OUSFG librarian, one of those rare individuals trusted with the precious yards of tattered Xanth books and the rather more precious brightly coloured plastic mugs.

Small world.

And it sounds like the legendary Mr Cray might be making it three...?

June 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Scoble: what price profit?

Scoble: "When doing business in various countries and, even, various states here in the US, we must comply with the local laws if we want to do business there. And, as a shareholder in Microsoft, I think it would be a bad decision to decide not to do business in China."

Where does it stop, Robert?

If a government requires you to collect personal details, and to submit the names of anyone using "forbidden speech" to a government agency, do you comply?

If you know the government agency will arrest these people and, in all probability, torture them or send them to slave labour camps, do you comply?

Business ethics, like all ethics, are a matter of tradeoffs. Can I do more good by working within the system than outside it? How do I balance my own good against the loss of others? (And yes, we are entitled to rate our own good above others; otherwise we'd all have to kill ourselves to distribute our organs amongst the more needy.) I don't know enough about the Microsoft story to know where it falls on the line. (Roger Simon's article claims Microsoft are actually going further than Chinese law requires. I've no idea if that's true.)

But, Robert, as this is your "personal" view, how far would you be prepared to go to maintain the value of your stocks? Would you be keen for a company you held stock in, as part of "[complying] with local laws," to assist in surveillance? To provide information that would lead to torture or imprisonment without trial? Where do your personal ethics tell you it's not worth it?

[Note: my adoptive country is cravenly seeking a free trade deal with China. I'm not comfortable with this. Where do my personal ethics tell me it's not worth it?]

June 13, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

News the New Zealand way

TVNZ is refreshingly free of the BBC's cult of sober pseudo-impartiality, and nobody indulges it more than their London correspondent, Gordon Harcourt. During the UK election, his objective assessment was, "The Tories are toast." Tonight his report on the Blair-Bush summit mentioned a number of African governments, good, bad and "Bob Mugabe waving a flag for the Insane Despots Brigade."

Their breakfast magazine programme mounted a month-long campaign of sniping against Hamilton, the most rural of NZ's big centres and a notorious backwater. This eventually reached a point where the producers had to schedule a slot with three prominent Hamiltonians to get their own back on the presenter at the head of all this mischief. The resulting interview was priceless, especially the revelation from the punk rock member of the panel that Hamilton has the biggest porn industry in NZ. Just what the kiddies want to hear over their cornflakes.

Oh, and TVNZ's satire series, Face Lift, is a kind of live action Spitting Image. Yes, live action. The unholy combination of human actors and latex caricature is not something you want to come upon without warning. But, by Jove, they've got Winston "Hammer of the Iraqis" Peters nailed...

June 8, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 06, 2005

Prince Charles to appear in bro'Town

bro'Town: "After some enthusiastic encouragement from the Prime Minister, the Prince gave a royal rendition of the bro’Town catch-cry 'Morningside 4 Life!'"

We have so got to keep Don Brash out.

June 6, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack