Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Hotmail printing problems - pathetic response

Now obviously I made a rod for my own back way back when I chickened out of moving this particular silver surfer off Hotmail and onto a proper email system, but I didn't so there it is...

He is having problems printing his emails with the "new, improved" (ha!) Hotmail. Instead of printing paragraphs wrapped correctly it is just printing one long line which overruns the paper.

Not using this particular tentacle of the Beast of Redmond myself, I first looked at the online help. It didn't mention printing at all (Hotmail has it's own print button)! I then used my honed googling skillz but couldn't find a solution. The nearest I found to an official answer were on two Microsoft forums. This one had a post from the Hotmail development team saying there are aware of the issue and suggested cutting and pasting the text into a word processor (!) and this one a post from the moderator that suggested printing in landscape!

How can they leave such an obvious bug to persist for so long (at least 4 months now)?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

I'm very progressive

The quiz all the cool katz are doing is the How progressive Are You? quiz run by the Centre for American Progress.

I scored as "Very Progressive" with 279/400. I now have progressiveness envy seeing as other LibDem bloggers seem to have got much higher but if you look at the comments on Iain Dale's post on this, they mostly seem to have scored below 200 and some below 100! That's reassuring at least!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

TV Drama - Good and Bad

Firstly some good news, BBC2 is going to show all 5 series of The Wire. I've never seen it but its reputation precedes it. Worryingly, the BBC say it "will be shown stripped across the week". Does this mean on several days a week? I'm not so keen on this as it probably means I won't have time to watch all of them!

I have also been watching the Red Riding Trilogy on Channel 4, another drama that's supposed to be brilliant. However, whist the cast and direction are excellent, I'm not sure they haven't left out half the plot! I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed in this satirical article. As Mrs. LibCync sagely said "It's so deep, it's shallow". I was hoping the second episode might fill in some of the blanks from the first episode so it was less disjointed and underwhelming but it didn't. I'm in two minds whether to bother with the last part. Should I?

Thursday, 12 March 2009

More good work by a LibDem peer - internet privacy

This article in The Register tells of an event yesterday sponsored by the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Miller. It was a discussion on internet privacy but what stood out was a confrontation between web inventor and legend Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the CEO of Phorm, the dubious web tracking company.

Needless to say, Sir Tim was on the side of the people and all that is good and the guy from Phorm was on the side of, well, Phorm.

This are very important issues and I hope events like this succeed in bringing them to wider public attention (hello MSM!! Come on!).

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Lazy Guardian Journalism or am I going mad?

This guardian article is about our decision not to support the governments part-privatisation of the Post Office in it's proposed form (phew!). It then goes on to detail our policy which I remember helping pass (i.e. by voting for it) in Harrogate in 2007. However the article goes on to say:

"Clegg's new Royal Mail policy looks likely to be put to a vote at his party's conference. The last time his party faithful considered such a measure was in 2005 when they rejected it."

Er...I'm not going mad am I? We did debate this in 2007 didn't we and was did pass it, right? It wasn't just a weird dream involving me repeatedly falling down on icy roads in Harrogate?

Friday, 6 March 2009

Massive under-reaction to hideous data breach and blacklisting

I have to say, I was really quite appalled to read this article ostensibly about a breach of the data protection act.

It did hear something about it on Today in my semi-conscious morning state. It seemed to be a report about not much then (but still bad), just some company selling on people's details when they shouldn't (maybe I wasn't listening hard enough).

On reading the article, when awake, the gravity of the situation struck me (and the massive under-reaction of the authorities).

For the last 15 years, a company has been running a secret system allowing construction companies to allegedly unlawfully* vet workers for positions.

Firms would sent list of potential employees to this company and they would get back comments on them detailing things such as (legal) union activity or anything that a employer would consider "trouble". One worker said no-one would employ him after he won an a case for unfair dismissal.

The reaction from the authorities has been pitiful. The Deputy Information Commissioner said:

"the company should have registered itself with the ICO".

He was "deeply disappointed" that household names (i.e. Balfour Beatty) had been involved
Yeah you tell 'em!

"You would have thought they would have got the data protection message by now".
Let em have it!

Er, hello! There weren't just a bit forgetful or a little naughty. They were being criminal!!!!!!
Oh dear, are the nasty big companies not taking the message seriously? Maybe I should use that excuse when I commit a crime so I just get a disappointed look instead of a sentence!

You may wonder why private companies take so little notice of the law on this and think there won't be any consequences, oh wait, I may have found an answer:

The owner of this SURELY CRIMINAL* (surely this must be illegal on other levels too?) company "faces prosecution and a £5,000 fine if found guilty of breaching the Data Protection Act."

Ooohh!! That'll learn him! Considering they got more than that from one company that used them it's not exactly a deterrent.

And the government want to use private companies to run their snooping database and probably to manage your health records too. But it's okay, they take data protection very seriously. Yeah right!

Am I over-reacting or does anyone else think this is really serious? Workers' lives have been destroyed here. People should be going to jail for this both at the company running the list and at the companies who use them but no doubt they will get a slap on the wrist (if that) and then more lucrative government contracts...

*UPDATE: Blimey, according to this article in the Guardian (who actually got the scoop on this):

"The Labour government has been criticised for passing a law banning the practice of so-called blacklists in 1999, but then, in a U-turn, deciding not to take the final step of implementing the law on the grounds that "there was no hard evidence that blacklisting was occurring". Technically, therefore, "blacklisting" is still legal."

So, whilst blacklisting like this offends all sense of fairness and clearly should be illegal, it isn't because of the lily-livered Labour Government!

UPDATE 2: Forgot my favorite bit, the information commissioner is going to send a "legal note" to the companies that used this service telling them not to do it again!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Swamp Dalek Found!

Now if this isn't a reason for helping to clear out ponds, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Harriet Harman?!? Another example of the Westminster bubble?

There has been a lot of speculation in the media about whether Harriet Harman is positioning herself to challenge for the Labour leadership when it inevitable becomes available after the next General Election.

However, this is mostly being reported in a serious kremlinology kind of way. Surely the reaction should be one of outright derision? Can't people within the Westminster see how awful she is? Isn't that what the rest of the country sees (or is it just me?)

It's one of way of ensuring Labour don't return to power anytime soon. Maybe the Labour swamp has been drained so much, she is all they can dredge up?

Putting aside her stupid comments about "the court of public opinion" over the weekend, she has always run Thatcher close in terms of being patronising and hectoring and when you see her on panels like Question Time, you can sense the audience bristle when she starts to talk at them.

Or am I being harsh?

Why why PFI?

Now correct me if I'm wrong but building something with the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) compared to just borrowing the money and building it ourselves means:

1) It costs obscene amounts more
2) Is likely to be a shoddier job
3) Is more prone to massive overruns
4) That we don't even own the thing we've built after we've finished paying it off in 30 years time
5) But it allows Gordon Brown to do some dubious Enron style 'off-balance sheet' creative accounting to pretend that we're not really borrowing the money, oh look aren't we prudent!

Now, it seems that we are doing the borrowing for the private companies ourselves.

So what is now the point?