After many years of using Joomla I have given in to WordPress, frankly for a blog I think Joomla is overkill and its page mapping process is just silly.

My big dilemma now is how to resolve all the old 404s with the content moving.

So, I was reading an article which described how a penetration testing company managed to get past a firewall by posting an employee a specially rigged mouse! The idea was that my embedding a micro-controller in the mouse which could be programmed to disable the virus protection on a computer and then load some Trojan vector. The real difference in this design was that it didn’t depend on a USB memory stick and autoload, it used HID keyboard commands instead.

One of the comments in The Register article made me think, the suggestion was basically this could be more than just a mouse. That had me thinking:

Why not put a 2G modem embedded in the keyboard!? Not just a dumb one, but one programmed to accept an incoming connection or create a reverse connection to the hacker. An mbed processor could act as the infection vector controller, or perhaps even one of the modems with embedded python-on-a-chip just to make it neat?

Then wow, that is a really big security risk and not that difficult to achieve. OK hackers, you have your next project, get going!

More than a month ago now I announced my departure from Humax as their Chief Technologist. I have since been working for nice company doing some productisation work and while that has been interesting I have missed my colleagues at Humax. Recently I was called by my former Director, we had some discussions and after some careful negotiations I am returning to Humax. I am now to be a member of the development team and as part of this I will now be working more in Korea than before. It is a nice step-up for me and I hope I can input some valuable effort to the Humax development process. My departure from Humax was part of my personal development and I think it also gave a number of parties opportunities to consider approaches. This year is, so far, not only a good one for me but also I think this will be an important year for the companies I work with. The development of the YouView set-top boxes in partnership with the TV industry will be a minor revolution for the market place and Humax is well placed to take advantage of that through foresight and determination to lead the UK TV market. Furthermore I am also looking forward to working with freesat to bring their ambitions to fruition and I think that working together with them Humax can help their platform really evolve.

Here’s to the next step!

Having previously worked in education and still maintaining an interest in life-long learning I find it interesting to read what people have to say about the state of modern education. Regularly I see tweets and blog posts from the likes of @Euan and @MMetcalfe about teaching and learning. Not specifically from the aforementioned people, but one thing I often hear maligned is lecturing, the process by which teaching is done from the front and experience is shared, essentially lecturing to the audience. This is in compliment to the Socratic Method, in which lecturing is used with questioning to establish a pattern of feedback to measure student understanding and pace.

Recently The London Evening Standard has been doing a series of articles about literacy in London and how it affects us. Apparently four in ten job applications are now rejected on the basis of poor grammar and spelling and I saw this in action when I was lecturing because I would mark reports that I could barely understand. I was occasionally told that I shouldn’t mark a student down because of their ability with English but I never respected that view, if you can’t communicate then you deserve a lower mark people need to be driven to success. I’ve often discussed this with friends and family, and it seems to me, and a few others, that one of the biggest problems that we are having today is discipline and respect. I don’t mean in a Victorian punishment kind of way, but in terms of the way those in authority are respected, or not as it seems now. No longer are teachers and the police given the veneration that they need to do their jobs. Parents and guardians no longer tell their children that they must respect and obey teachers and policemen.

Now, I know there have always been disruptive students, there have been since the beginning of time, but once upon a time students knew who the boss was and these days it is politically incorrect to have a boss. I am not the most disciplined person in the world, but I know who is in charge and I like to think I also know how to take some authority when needed. Learning the basics of language really takes routine and practice, boring repartition and positive re-enforcement. Sometimes children need to sit down and try, and fail, and then try again because if at first we don’t succeed… Looking from a far there is a great deal of effort going into finding ‘alternative’ ways to teach children, when actually if that effort was spent doing boring stuff then the children might learn the virtue of doing mundane tasks. Because there are virtues in learning to do mundane tasks that a person in authority requires you to do and you shouldn’t always question authority.

Of course children need to be educated in critical thought, analysis and debate, I feel this more now than I have ever done, but they must also learn about self-discipline and motivation. In school my Design and Technology (metal and woodwork) teacher, who was very much old school, insisted that we couldn’t leave the class at the end until we had correctly answered a multiplication-table question. This forced us to look it up and learn them, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to leave and we would be a little embarrassed. Some might see this as bullying, I don’t, I think it was a cleaver way of motivating us and remember this man wasn’t a maths teacher he was just a man passionate about ensuring we had the right level of numeracy, which is more than I can say about some mathematics teachers I have known.

Perhaps I am getting more conservative in my old age (;-) but I look at society and the way that the suitability of employment candidates has fallen in recent years and I think it is a shame. I want the world to thrive and I don’t want the Western states to become the new third-world. Remember that in many third world countries children can’t all go to school but a child will do as much as they can just for the chance to be educated, yet in Europe they children will happily commit crime just to avoid going to school! So, I believe parents need to take an active role in ensuring that children respect teachers and uniformed authorities, this is quite controversial in itself and then I think teachers need to start concentrating on getting the basics sorted through routine not through time-wasting creativity. I feel teachers should be inspiring through their leadership and enthusiasm, not so much through dressing up and entertaining students, after all teaching should be engaging but it doesn’t have to be entertaining. It would take years to get back into some sense of order in schools, but perhaps then students would start turning up at higher education who can actually write something which makes sense and companies wouldn’t have to do remedial education for their students.

Also, testing and exams might not be pleasant and they don’t represent everyone’s abilities, but when combined with practical work and essays I think they are effective measures of students. The idea of not being competitive at schools is ridiculous, I want people to be acknowledged as being a bit thick so they can be motivated to succeed. I wasn’t much use at sports, but discipline forced me to participate more than I would have done of my own free will and I even found some things I was good at in sports. Everyone has something they are good at, I believe this, but some people are better than others. This doesn’t have to be a Plutocracy in which success is dictated by wealth, but it doesn’t have to exclude people from doing well and it seems to me that it is unacceptable to push one group ahead because it might offend those who are less able.

That is my rant, you are welcome to it.

Today I saw on Facebook a campaign for “European Revolution” on 29th May 2011 seemingly started by some Greeks, I saw this and thought how stupid this is. Thus here is my response, I thought about posting it on their wall but realised they would probably just divert some of their negative energies at me causing me grief, but I trust it is safer to put it on a website that almost no one reads (mine):

Clearly a group of people with too much time on your hands. The power for real change isn’t in protesting, it is in acting in a positive way: it is about producing, it is about helping your country to recover. You are the government, the people have the power already. You blame the economic and political forces? What have you been doing that lets these forces control your lives? The answer is: Nothing. Politics is of the people, you and your families vote for the politicians. If there is corruption then you let it happen by not paying enough attention to your representatives. If the economic forces have controlled your life then you have forgotten that by earning money you, as the people, are in control. The way you spend your money determines the fate of the economy and the nation. You might think that your money is less important than the money of big business but then you are underselling your own importance. If you campaign for a positive change in spending, and if you are in the right, then you *can* make a difference.

 

Of course some will attack me for saying this, but I have seen what these protests achieve: Nothing. Because they are nothing but a forum for violence by anarchists who want to feel ‘something’ in their lives through this violence.

The Greek people in particular need to take responsibility for their national situation.  You are not victims, you are complicit in the situation.

 

I’ve been following the growth of interest in Thorium as a source of energy, it seems to me to be one of the best ways of producing large quantities of energy in a consistent way with a balanced ecological impact. Baroness Worthington was Raised to the House of Lords in February 2011 and as an ecological campaigner she brings something interesting to the mix. She made her maiden speech in the House recently and having seen it I thought I should send her a message sharing my views. Don’t know how it will be received by her (I used http://www.writetothem.com to do it) and if she will accept what I have to say, but without input Politicians can’t be representing the people. Bellow is my correspondence for your consideration and yes I am terrible at finishing correspondence:

Continue reading “Letter to Baroness Worthington”

Each year for the past twenty years I recall someone mention the idea of moving the UK’s time zone to CET, or changing daylight savings or some other such tinkering with the clocks. As I have come to understand time more and more this confuses me more and more. Not that I am confused by the concept of changing a clock, I’ve done that enough that it doesn’t matter to me, but my confusion is to why we need to change a unit of measure rather than changing our attitudes. One of the arguments for changing timezones or using DST is for “safety”, the idea is that if it is too dark in the mornings people going to work or school are more at risk. It is also said that energy can be saved because people wouldn’t use so much lighting if the clocks were different.

What this fundamentally ignores is the fact that time itself is not really variable, not on a scale that matters to our daily lives anyway, in each SI day there are 86,399, 86,400 or 86,401 seconds (yes there are not exactly 24 hours in a day because the earth isn’t perfect). When people talk about fiddling with the time they are really just doing it for political reasons, to assert themselves and their own importance. If it really mattered about the time at which children went to school then schools could open earlier or later, businesses can make their own decisions about when to open and operate. I currently work at a business that opens at 08:30, but I have started at 05:00, 08:00, 09:00 and 10:00 in differing jobs. Delivery drivers, bakers, presenters and many more people get up at a time that suits their work (Shift Work). I once worked with a team that didn’t even assume a 24 hour day, they worked on a short but intensive cycle over many days, living on site and then had a long period off at home.

I imagine the counterpoint to the argument is that if schools started earlier then people would be in difficulty if their employer didn’t change the hours. But already it is difficult for people who are constrained by employers who enforce archaic working practices, changing the clocks isn’t going to make better employers and if children went to school earlier then it wouldn’t be as bad for parents worrying about getting to their 8am start at work. There is supposedly evidence that indicates that some deaths on the road, especially those of commuting school children, can be attributed to poor light levels. Well, I would point out that if the children were to leave school when it was more light (irrespective of clocks) then they would be equally likely to be outside on the streets (doing whatever children do) afterwards which wouldn’t make it much more safe.

Dear Readers,

I know I have neglected this blog and website for some time, but now is probably an opportunity to use this page to explain myself in more than 140 characters.

Four years ago I was a moderately disgruntled Senior Lecturer at Ravensbourne College, I was referred to speak to a head hunter by a friend on the basis of my broad experience and knowledge. As a result of two interviews I was able to obtain the position of Chief Technologist at Humax Electronics in the UK. Humax is one of the top five manufacturers of set-top boxes in the world and the UK’s top manufacturer of digital television recorders. This role has seen me drink a great deal, socialise a great deal and most importantly it has seen me gain a great deal of knowledge about a sector which I had very little experience of; in addition it is perhaps worth saying that as a broadcast engineer by training I had very little appreciation for this industry which I now see differently. I have a better understanding of commercial issues as a result of my work with my colleagues and most especially my boss, Graham North, who is among one of the most respected people in the business.

Now, four years have passed and it is time to move on. It is not for me to explain here the motivations for my moving on, but I have opportunities that I can follow. I hope I can reveal further details about my mysterious new employer once I have started but for now I must concentrate on doing the best for Humax until I leave.

I will miss my colleagues, I will miss my work and the opportunities that it brings to meet new and interesting people. But as one door closes another one opens and I have little doubt that I will meet many of those that I know again because this is a small business.

Yours,

Bob

My brother saw a link I posted about Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story from Channel4 and was inspired to Blog about it:

http://blog.hannent.eu/2010/11/holidays-paid-for-by-me.html

I was so concerned when I saw the original video and now I am absolutely flabbergasted that this MP believes we should be using our money (the taxes we pay) to fund holidays for those on benefits. If the old adage is that “a change is as good as a rest”, then these people don’t need a change because they already have a rest. I am sorry if this seems mean, but while my brother hasn’t had a real holiday in nine years and we (my partner and I) have to work long hours for our breaks.

I feel that we cannot continue in the way we have for the past three or more decades, and none of the governing parties are offering anything more than just squeezing everything we have (and didn’t really ask for). And while we are at it, just because the children ask for something doesn’t mean you should give it to them, so if we did ask for the extent of government involvement we shouldn’t have been given it because at the end of the day ‘the people’ are children! The government doesn’t need to tighten budgets it needs to do what any company in serious trouble would do, reduce its scope. If you aren’t successful as a company (we do call it UKPLC!) then you don’t just slim down the budgets, you should downsize!

So, where is the proposal from a serious politician to deal with the national debt and not just the budget deficit?! Where is the proposal to deal with the £4,800,000,000,000 of debt? (count those zeros!) The £77,000 that is on the head of ever man, woman and child in the UK!? I want to see some serious action, no matter what the political difficulty. I was really ashamed of the way the government dealt with Lord Young recently:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11798366

This is a man who has seen so much and has so much experience, if he says we’ve ‘never had it so good’ then I am inclined to agree. With all the social services, and this massive government debt how could the nation have anything but an easy life. Especially as the minority of the population are actually paying for the majorities lifestyles (watch the Channel4 documentary if you don’t know). The government couldn’t publicly support Lord Young because the media wouldn’t let them, the media wants to pounce on any deviation from the previous message of austerity and drama. Quoting Gary O’Donghue, Political Correspondent for the BBC:

“…his unguarded comments threatened to undermine months of carefully-honed strategy aimed at persuading the public that ministers felt your pain and that we were all in this together.”

So, driven by the journalists, the innocent man was hung out to dry because the government couldn’t admit to the public he was right. The news hounds shape the politics and the politicians are too fearful for their jobs to do what needs doing.

How can we resolve the situation? What can be done to solve the trillion pound horror story and give it an outcome that allows us to sleep well at night!?

So, let me get this straight:

 

  • Google sent cars driving around the world to gather data about the areas they pass through.
  • Amongst things they captured:

 

 

  1. 3D topographical data
  2. Panoramic photographs
  3. Wireless signals
  • They sniffed for any wifi signals that were being broadcast in the proximity and captured the raw signal.
  • Some people don’t have security enabled on their wireless networks
Thus, because Google sniffed whatever was about and because some people don’t use security on their networks their information was gathered. It was gathered in much the same way that anyone could and frankly these people who were snooped were broadcasting their details to anyone who could hear.
Last time I checked it wasn’t illegal to receive/record broadcasts, let alone those that are unencrypted! The entire process of prosecution of Google for this is a preposterous farce which the press can enjoy and which can give civil servants something to keep them occupied.