Exeter and Birthdays

As Jess wrote on her blog, we went to Exeter last week. We got lots of nice stuff for ourselves including soap from Lush, tea and chocolate coffee beans from Whittard’s, among other things. On our way back, it was like a visit back to West Yorkshire, as we boarded a Transpennine Express train from Exeter to Barnstaple. There’s no explanation for this other than it must have been sold on to the train company down here after having been replaced up in West Yorks. How strange.

And as it’s this time of year, my birthday is coming up on the 8th. I’ve got the day off work for a bit of a break and am looking forward to it! As usual my ever-boring wishlist is published on this blog, not that it makes any difference in helping people make up their minds!

“What the Terrorists Want”

“Imagine for a moment that the British government arrested the 23 suspects without fanfare. Imagine that the TSA and its European counterparts didn’t engage in pointless airline-security measures like banning liquids. And imagine that the press didn’t write about it endlessly, and that the politicians didn’t use the event to remind us all how scared we should be. If we’d reacted that way, then the terrorists would have truly failed.

“It’s time we calm down and fight terror with antiterror. This does not mean that we simply roll over and accept terrorism. There are things our government can and should do to fight terrorism, most of them involving intelligence and investigation — and not focusing on specific plots.

“But our job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show’s viewership.”

I think Bruce Schneier really hits the nail on the head here… Link by BoingBoing.

Let’s raise the white flag

The terrorists have won. Well, they won ages ago but nobody seemed to notice…

One of the may definitions of terrorist is: “a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities”. Notice it doesn’t mention killing at all, just using terror as a weapon. Also notice that nothing actually happened this morning, nor is it likely to happen, other than the government getting terrified by, well, terrorists. Today’s incidents caused some weird sort of reaction whereby everything except travel documents and medication must be checked into hold luggage when travelling by air.

This whole episode makes me think that the said terrorists whose ‘plot’ was ‘thwarted’ this morning were indeed much cleverer than anybody gives them credit for: they simply planned their so-called plot and must have been pretty open about it in order that the government find out about it. Then at the right time the powers that be got scared and did exactly what the terrorists wanted all along: reacted in such a way as to piss off a huge amount of people, get the terrorists lots of press, and basically ‘scare’ those people who can’t figure out what’s going on (and clearly, lots of such people are working in our governments).

So I’m going to sit back and applaud these ‘terrorists’, not because I agree with what they do (I think it’s deplorable) but simply because they seem to be the only people able to keep the whole world under their control. That’s certainly more than what can be said about our government these days, especially considering Tony Bliar’s (ok ok Blair) arse-licking (to borrow a phrase from Big Brother) to the current World Dictator and his minions in the Free Country that is the USA.

Support the Open Rights Group

Support the Open Rights Group

OK, first things first. Last year I pledged that I would help fund the creation of the Open Rights Group if 1000 other people did. Over 1000 people eventually signed the pledge and the ORG was founded, but almost half of the people who originally pledged didn’t pay up! Not fair I say!

The Open Rights Group is a bit like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in the USA. They have some pretty noble goals:

  • To raise awareness in the media of digital rights abuses
  • To provide a media clearinghouse, connecting journalists with experts and activists
  • To preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world
  • To collaborate with other digital rights and related organisations
  • To nurture a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts

Recent successes for ORG include:

  • Submitting written and oral evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group public inquiry into DRM, much of which made it into the final report
  • Submitting written evidence to the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property
  • Raising awareness of the problems with DRM in the media, with several articles picking up on ORG’s position

So if you care about your digital rights, join the ORG and get the privileged status of ‘Founding 1000’ member, like me! 🙂

First week of work

Well the first week at my new workplace has just passed, and it’s been a great week. I’ve felt a part of the team since day 1, participating in most of the support queries past our way save for some Windows stuff. All the people are very nice and have made me feel right at home.

It’s really a great place to be. On Friday we ran into some trouble on some live machines, so four of us headed to the conference room, set up the projector, and brainstormed for 3 hours until we figured out what the problem was and found a way to reproduce it. At every stage I was included in the discussion, my ideas fully heard out, and I genuinely felt as if I’d worked there for years.

I’m staying my last night at Jess’s parents before Jess leaves back to Huddersfield tomorrow, and I move into our house. We’ve stocked up the fridge, the broadband is working, and there’s even a bed, chair, and hifi! We’re also moving down next weekend instead of in two weeks’ time, since that’s the only time we could get the van. Great stuff!

Captain Copyright

While catching up on yesterday’s news, BoingBoing alerted me to the CRIA‘s alarming attempts to brainwash children into their ways of thinking: Captain Copyright. BoingBoing also managed to highlight some interesting facts like their mascot borrows features from all sorts of other underwear perverts (“superheroes”™), clearly breaking copyright themselves. Oh, and let’s not mention their ridiculous terms & conditions that include such gems as:

Permission is expressly granted to any person who wishes to place a link in his or her own website to www.accesscopyright.ca or any of its pages with the following exception: permission to link is explicitly withheld from any website the contents of which may, in the opinion of the Access Copyright, be damaging or cause harm to the reputation of, Access Copyright. In the event we contact you and request the link be removed, you agree to comply with that request promptly. If you link to or otherwise include www.captaincopyright.ca on your website, please let us know and create any link to our home page only.

Oops, I clearly broke that rule in two separate instances! OK, here’s another one I broke: “iv. You are not permitted to copy or cut from any page or its HTML source code to the Windowsâ„¢ clipboard (or equivalent on other platforms) onto any other website.” Let’s break it again shall we:

<p class="pageTitle">Welcome kids </p>

<p class="boldA1">Hi kids! </p>
<p>Captain Copyright is busy building this website to make it fun and exciting for
    you! Keep checking back here for
more activities for you to do, stuff that can help you with homework your teacher
    might give you, games you can play,
and much, much more.</p>

Man, I just love the record industry’s collective idiocy.

Zero 7

Last night, Dan and I went to see Zero 7 at Leeds Met. The auditorium was packed and the concert was incredible. They played songs from all of their albums, seven of the band were there, with ‘special guest’ José González who also contributed to their latest album. I was kicking myself for having forgotten both the camera and to charge my phone, so I have no pictures of the event at all.

The supporting act, Fink, were also very good although we missed the beginning of their set because nobody had announced anything at all in the waiting area outside the hall… The ‘doors at 7, start at 7’ information that Dan had been given was completely off: Fink didn’t start until 8:00 or so and Zero 7 not until about 9:15. Once Zero 7 were done the clapping just didn’t end and they ended up performing 2 encores before the 11pm curfew. During one of them the lead singer (Sia Furler) asked what sort of dance she should perform during the solo. After suggestions of caribbean and line dancing were turned down (oh we already did those) she settled on Morris Dancing! Well, it wasn’t quite morris dancing but it was a good laugh!

So all in all an excellent gig and I’d definitely recommend you go if you’re into their sort of music at all!

Post-uni, Pre-work Boredom

Not working yet and not going to Uni either can be so extremely boring! I’ve been sat in bed all day doing nowt but a little thinking about stuff like what I’m going to do with Piccolo and PicoDebian in the near future. I’ve finished Max Payne 2, Half-Life, Half-Life: Opposing Force, and Half-Life: Blueshift in the last couple of days so I’m all out of games to play too. Where’s the fairness in all of this?!

I suppose it has led to a little more activity than usual on this blog, but now I’ve written about the boredom I can’t write about it again! I even tried to do a minor redesign today, by changing a few fonts here and there, but didn’t like it in the end. Go figure.