Feet up!

A light at the end of the tunnel?

As it appears that this is a war that can't be fought using reason, financial justification, ethics, human rights, or just plain old common sense, Big Blunkett has to fought with yet another weapon in the armoury of the good, comedy.

Social Scrutiny are good at this and even have draft National ID card application forms, print some out and leave them in the pub. The classic Rockall Times also chimes into the debate, with an article on identity crime which is also available in a pub-friendly printable format.

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall fight them in the pubs... Winston Churchill

[Fri, 28 May 2004 13:21] | [rants/ukid] | #

Soup Kitchen

Ever had to parse some tag soup HTML? An unpleasant job at the best of times. Beautiful Soup claims to have solved the problem (mostly), and leaves you free to spend your time doing useful stuff with the extracted data rather than reinventing the wheel continuously. Beautiful Soup is written in Python, and works with Python 1.5.2 or later. It's all in one file, and Python licensed.

Nice looking stuff, I've got to do some more parsing and scraping, so I'm going to give this a try.

[Fri, 28 May 2004 12:53] | [dev/python] | #

New Finn Brothers Album On The Way

News from the Tongue in the Mail mailing list, Frenz guru Peter Green's Famous for 16 minutes site, the Finn Brothers News Board and the Seven Worlds fansite is that the Finn brothers have a new album coming in the next few months.

Entitled "Everyone Is Here", from a working title of "Where the fuck is everyone?", it looks like the album is going to have the following track list:


There were 4 other tracks recorded, which no doubt will creep out in bootlegs, b-sides and club cds. They were "Way Back Down", "The Land and the Sea", "Sunset Swim" and "Everyday Alright".

In other news, it's Neil's birthday today too!

[Thu, 27 May 2004 23:57] | [music/FinnBrothers] | #

Dodgy Prints Finger The Wrong Man

Yet more proof that current biometric measures are poor and hugely fallible:
FBI apology for Madrid bomb fingerprint fiasco

And possibly even more chilling: Benson versus Identix a number of real world examples of how reliance on identity systems based on the use of ID cards and biometrics can go seriously wrong and cause real suffering.

[Wed, 26 May 2004 23:07] | [rants/ukid] | #

If a tree falls in a forest...

... and there is nobody around does it make a sound?

If great art is destroyed in a warehouse fire does it matter?

Surely great art is for seeing, touching, criticizing, and provoking emotions, not for caching away in a warehouse, hidden, unseen, unloved? Have I missed the point? Or was the very value of this art lost the minute that it disappeared from public view?

[Wed, 26 May 2004 21:58] | [rants] | #

pyblosxom 1.0 released

And there's me still agonising about when to go for 0.9...

pyblosxom 1.0 released
We've cleaned up a lot code and documentation and fixed a lot of bugs. We've stabilized the API and added static rendering. In short, this should be a pretty solid 1.0 milestone for PyBlosxom.

I encourage people to upgrade. When you untar the distribution tarball, read through INSTALL and README. These files will walk you through installation and upgrading from 0.9.

Download it here:

[Tue, 25 May 2004 13:15] | [blogging] | #

Fun-1 - London Grand Prix?

London GP, a McLaren leaving parc ferme A London Grand Prix? Is that really going to happen? 200mph down the Embankment sounds fun, but I can't see it happening. A London race would bring in most of the traditional banger race strategies of a street circuit, and it would sort the men from the boys as Monaco does. And Michael will eventually have to learn that trying to put opponents on the grass when there is no grass does not work...

However as Ewan says there's many downsides to a London event, the construction required, the lack of Government interest, Ken's desire for a car free London, etc. etc. would all make it a non-starter, but we've seen stranger things. Magny Cours and the new Nurburgring kart tracks to name just two. Me, I'd like to see Brooklands back on the calendar, and it's only just down the road from Woking!

Fun-1 logo Anyway, the London race is a nice story for Fun-1. Which has now moved to the long threatened proper domain http://www.fun-1.org/ We've seperated the content into two blogs; one for the links and one for the rest, so although the most recent links appear on the front page, otherwise they're seperate entities, and the good bit is that you get two sets of feeds to pick from.
Article feeds:
RDF - XML - Atom. Link feeds
RDF - XML - Atom.

I'll have to now get on with finishing the Circuit Guides, at least I've written the Nurburgring guide so there's no mad rush for this Sunday.

[Mon, 24 May 2004 14:01] | [motorsport] | #

Glaswegians Fingerprinted

So now the ID and central identity register bandwagon is rolling North, and the lucky Scots are the next to get their names and identities put on the line list.

Of course, there's one rather big fly in the ointment in that biometrics still haven't been proven to work accurately over a large sample of people, even the traditional fingerprint isn't guaranteed to be unique.

The "ID cards and an ID database are fine because I've got nothing to hide" argument really falls down when there's a criminal running around leaving fingerprints identical to yours...

[Mon, 24 May 2004 13:00] | [rants/ukid] | #


Intex paddling pool

The sun's been out this week, so the new paddling pool has come out for the first time - we got it in the sales last Autumn - and it's a tad bigger than I'd been expecting. 10' x 30" doesn't sound that big, especially to one who thinks in metric (it's about 3m x 0.75m), but there's 3500 litres of water in there, 3.5 tons!

It took somewhere around 6 hours to fill, so I was dreading what it'd cost me on the water bill, but according to Southern Water 3.5 cubic metres of water will have only cost me £2.38 bargain!

[Fri, 21 May 2004 14:14] | [general] | #

UK Govt Breathes Sigh of Relief

Purple flour flies past Blair

It was only flour, but the purple haze hanging in the houses of Parliament diverted the media's attention away from Mistaken Identity and the Governments' ID card fiasco and onto Bliar and co.

Maybe that's cynical, but this event took news coverage away from other more important happenings, I wonder what other bad news the Government sneaked out on Wednesday?

[Fri, 21 May 2004 13:33] | [rants] | #

ID card backlash

Well there's a surprise! Despite all the government spin, there remains a significant proportion of the population that doesn't see any need, advantage or point in having ID cards.

Maybe it's the costs, the govt say £3billion, other less biased estimates are at least double that, and I wouldn't be surprised if the eventual cost was actually significantly higher, given the govt's proven track record of incompetant handling of major IT based projects.

More probable is as Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, says "The more people hear about the government's proposals, the less they like them,"...

It's Stand's Mistaken Identity event this afternoon in London, get along there if you can. It's your rights, identity and money on the line.

[Wed, 19 May 2004 13:29] | [rants/ukid] | #

What else could we buy for the cost of a national ID card?

Based on the estimates of £6 billion, here are ten alternatives that could be acheived with this level of state funding.

£6,000,000,000.00 is rather a lot of our money, shouldn't we be doing something useful with this rather than giving it shareholders of foreign IT companies?

[Tue, 18 May 2004 21:19] | [rants/ukid] | #

Sean Palmer's Wikis Rock

What more can I say, after I got Sean's minimalist wiki WyPy to run standalone here on various mad devices, I decided to throw a copy of its big brother pwyky up here, I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but I've needed a wiki for random notes far too many times of late so it'll more than suffice for that initially.

Thanks Sean! I'm tempted to add functionality such as RCS integration, RSS and a recent changes page, but I'm not sure if that would spoil the Zen purity and simplicity of pwyky.

[Tue, 18 May 2004 20:32] | [tech] | #

ID Card or 60,000 extra policemen?

Thought for the day. Which would you prefer? An ID card or 60,000 extra policemen? Which would be the most likely to reduce crime, and even the semi-mythical threat of terrorism? Not a hard question, but that's what the ID card is likely to cost you the tax payer.

Put like that the ID card only makes sense if you're a crook, terrorist, EDS employee or shareholder...

[Sun, 16 May 2004 21:42] | [rants/ukid] | #

Siemens SX1 and Nokia N-Gage, sublime and ridiculous

Yeah, I know what you're thinking, the SX1 is sublime and the N-Gage ridiculous, well actually they both fit into each category!

A few weeks ago I got to play with Ewan's SX1 and I have to admit it's far beyond any of the other Series 60 devices in terms of beauty, it's a gorgeous jewel of a device, pictures really don't do justice to its look and feel. But this beauty comes at a price.

The main cost seems to be usability, the much muttered about keys either side of the display are not a problem conceptually, in fact like the 3650's keypad this form of layout appears to have a big advantage over the traditional grid keypad for double thumbed usage. Siemens even provide a game on the phone which encourages you to learn the keypad in a fun way.

The usablity downsides are that I was perhaps expecting the keys to press in sideways a little, or even arc slightly like a piano key, but they are strictly push in, which feels a little unnatural. Also all of the surfaces are very shiny and slick, greasy or sweaty fingers will slide over the keys, and the small chromed joystick would be greatly improved by being bigger and rougher surfaced.

SX1 Mille Miglia Siemens appear to be aiming the SX1 into a number of niches, first with motorsport and the glorious rossa corse coloured Mille Miglia and the dark and brooding McLaren models, what next a grossly tacky white and bling Beckham model because of their Real Madrid sponsorship? Or is a smartphone entirely the wrong device for David? :-)

As for the N-Gage, well one does initially feel self concious using it in Taco mode, but with the supplied headset this is often a rare event. I'm tempted to get a Bluetooth headset, but I'll not be able to use that to listen to the radio or MP3 player. Otherwise the N-Gage is a very capable and usable phone, my only real concerns being the lack of camera, and it being rather awkward to text with one hand.

[Sun, 16 May 2004 07:35] | [mobile] | #

Stand Up For Yourself

I had an email from the STAND folks earlier, they've got some important things to say about the proposed UK ID cards, this is an significant change to UK laws and has far reaching implications, and as they say about the whole debacle:

After all, it's not every year you get to protect fundamental civil liberties won over a period of many centuries. Or even the chance to stop the government throwing several billion down the drain labelled 'Yet Another IT Debacle'.

For starters there's a big meeting on Weds May 19th, details below and more details available from STAND's website.


Wednesday May 19, 2004; 13:30-17:00 hrs

The Old Theatre, London School of Economics Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE

Organised by Privacy International, in association with Liberty, Statewatch, Stand.org.uk, The Register, The 1990 Trust and the Foundation for Information Policy Research. Hosted by the Department of Information Systems of the London School of Economics

The government has introduced draft legislation for a national identity card. The card system will cost at least £3 billion and is likely to become an essential part of life for everyone residing in the UK.

If the draft legislation is accepted by Parliament, everyone will be required to register for a card. Biometric scans of the face, fingers and eye will be taken. Personal details will be stored in a central database. A unique number will be issued that will become the basis for the matching of computer systems.

The proposed card may be required to access vital public services and to receive benefits. The government proposes to enforce the programme through numerous new criminal and civil offenses, including provision for unlimited financial penalty and up to ten years' imprisonment.

The implications for everyone in the UK are far-reaching.

Join us at this important meeting to hear from key figures in the fields of law, politics, security, technology and human rights. Decide for yourself whether this is a plan that should be supported.

The meeting is free of charge.

Draft programme (subject to change):

13.30 Welcome: Simon Davies, London School of Economics
13.35 Rt Hon David Blunkett, MP, Home Secretary (invited)
13.50 Rt Hon David Davies, MP, Shadow Home Secretary
14.00 Mark Oaten, MP, Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman;
David Winnick, MP, Labour;
Simon Thomas, MP, Plaid Cymru;
Lord Phillips of Sudbury
14.40 Q&A with audience

14.50 Dr Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain
15.00 Karen Chouhan, Executive Director, The 1990 Trust
15.10 Shami Chakrabarti, Director, Liberty
15.20 Q&A with audience

15.35 Roger Smith, Director, JUSTICE
15.45 Paul Whitehouse, former Chief Constable, Sussex Police
15.55 Q&A with audience

16.10 Peter Williamson, President, Law Society
16.20 Prof Ross Anderson, Cambridge University
16.30 Jonathan Bamford, Asst Information Commissioner
16.40 Q&A with audience

16.55 Next steps
17.00 Close

More details will appear here: http://www.stand.org.uk/mistakenidentity.php3 In the meantime please let us know if you would like to attend by emailing meeting@stand.org.uk

Media enquiries should be directed to simon@privacy.org

[Sat, 15 May 2004 09:43] | [rants/ukid] | #

UK ID cards

I've got so much ranting steam building up about this subject that I've decided to give it its own sub-category, previous posts on this subject have appeared in my rants category.

For the next few months I'll be posting one or two pertinant links a day to other discussions on this subject.

[Sat, 15 May 2004 09:28] | [rants/ukid] | #

Picture time...

Artistic pic of Terje

Terje Sørgjerd's lovely galleries of pics keep expanding (that's him above), nice stuff, and his pictures of Riga in Latvia really make me want to go and vist Marian Pahar's homeland.

Following on from my earlier round up of some great Whitstable photos I've also stumbled across this fascinating Easter visit to the harbour and fish market (in French), Prolific's Whistable (sic) gallery and Tony Sutton's meanderings along the Kent coast.

[Fri, 14 May 2004 13:47] | [general] | #

The Hitchhikers Guide to Curry Night

Mark took me to the New Delhi when I was downunder a few months back, highly recommended, fine curries and run by friendly amenable folks. It's nice to see they do a taxi service too!

[Fri, 14 May 2004 13:18] | [comedy] | #


So MT 3.0 is going to be expensive, so what? They've got to pay Joi's phone bill, keep him in plane tickets, and still sustain Mena's pie habit, of course it's going to be bloody expensive :-)

More interestingly, as Danny Ayers suggests what exactly is "no commercial usage" from a freelancer's point of view?

[Fri, 14 May 2004 13:17] | [blogging] | #

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