Monday, 30 January 2017

Jealott's Hill Walk 'n' Wassail

Another good day at the Land Share with the Morris men.

I have scanned the sheet provided on the day - It got a bit crumpled and wet, but I think you can get the gist of the proceedings.

Some dancing outside the barn and then a procession over to the apple orchard to ensure that the trees remain fertile.

The Wren and Robin are symbols of the end of winter and the start of a new season.
A Morris man in a ragged jacket held up the Robin for all to see him still alive.

The Robin having been dispatched, a Queen is chosen. A cake with a hidden bean is distributed.
The lady discovering the bean becomes the Queen of the Bean.

Amazing! Bracknell's Deputy Mayor Tina McKensie-Boyle found the bean, and was lead out to receive the crown and select the King.

The King received his adornments too.

A devil is added, just to even things up.

All now proceeded to the tree where the King and Queen buried the robin and a refrain was sung.

A few links to information and news from the land share.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Car Technology Moves on the UK

Driverless cars.

There as an allusion to this technology in my book Cold Suspenders. The technology mentioned there is more about “safety” control, and would could happen if the authorities could override the control of your car (more than just speed limiting).

Britain is leading the way globally in the adoption of driverless vehicles on national roads. While countries including the United States, Japan and Germany are all competing to accelerate the commercial acceptance of autonomous transport, Britain has developed a national consensus and regulatory roadmap that others lack completely.

Autonomous driving features, including automatic braking and lane-departure sensors, are becoming common. A recent study shows that British motorists choose to buy cars which have that technology as an optional extra Probably people are willing to pay more to gain access to enhanced safety benefits.

58% of new cars sold in the UK have some form of autonomous driving system in place, collision warning being the most common. 39% of cars now have emergency braking capabilities, and 32% have adaptive cruise control.

SMMT last year found that serious accidents could fall by more than 25,000, saving 2,500 lives every year by 2030, as a result of driverless vehicle technology.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

How tax can be seen to work in terms of Beer.

I was reminded of this by a similar post on Facebook.
I decided to record it here, so that I can find it again.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing
The fifth would pay £1
The sixth would pay £3
The seventh would pay £7
The eighth would pay £12
The ninth would pay £18
The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20″. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men ? How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

The bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.
And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a pound out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got £10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, people, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Priestwood and Garth, Facebook page.

Again; it is such a long time since I blogged. I suppose the coming of the next election has reminded me of keeping connected with people. I am a member of several Facebook sites, and have joined The Priestwood & Garth page at . I expect to contributing there soon.
Priestwood and Garth Conservative team members.
 Graham, Alvin, Tina, aided by Jessica and Oliver.
The Priestwood & Garth Conservative Team have had regular walkabouts. The amount of walking about will be increasing soon when the election starts. We have already been out delivering good news about your Conservative run council. During the election period we along with the other parties will be delivering more literature.

Please read the literature that you get from Parliamentary, Borough and  Town candidates. This will help make your mind up as to how to vote.

You can also follow your local Conservatives on Facebook at
and the website at .

Friday, 23 May 2014

Post Mayor Posting

It has been a long time since I last blogged. Partly because I have the duties of Bracknell Town Mayor to attend to. So; Here is the report; well most of the report that I gave at the end of my year as Mayor.

This year has gone much quicker that I expected
When I sat down to compose a report, I wondered where to start.
I thought, let’s have a look in the website; ….. what do we tell people that the Town council does? It says…. Our mission is:

To be the guardian of Bracknell Town’s parks, play areas and public spaces,
and to safeguard them from possible future development.
To be responsible to the needs of all sections of our community to build upon
our achievements and provide high quality services at minimum cost.

This is evidenced by our recent commitment to helping the community in creating a Neighbourhood Plan. More will be talked about that later……
Later this evening, the new mayor will be presenting this years grant cheques to various deserving organisations. It gave me much pleasure to meet, as Mayor, with a great number of the recipients of last years grants, and to see the hard work and dedication of their many unsung volunteers.

It has been my pleasure to support the repair of Holy Trinity Church Roof and Youth Rugby this past year.
A member of the Mosaic Church, that is affiliated to Holy Trinity, gave an excellent speech at my Civic Service earlier this year about the values imbued in sports that can overflow into our lives. Through discipline, control and mutual self-respect, a fellowship and sense of fair play are forged, …..this is a set of laws that fit well with everyday life.

That brings me to the facilities provided by the Town Council; recreational facilities that can be accessed by all. My thoughts are first drawn to Calfridus way in Bracknell, where Rugby youth practices, and where many improvements have been put in place by the Town Council.
Recent projects have enabled us to provide improved play and exercise equipment for Town residents. The Sports Legacy Zone at Mill Park applied the latest thinking in social fitness and multi-use sports area design.

There have been other improvements to the Town Councils Recreation and Woodland areas. These facilities have benefited from the attendance of our environment wardens. Two of The Town Council Parks have gained Green flag awards, signifying that they are among the top in the country.
Numerous events have been held by the Town Council over the year, one I much enjoyed was the Teddy Bears Picnic.

During my Mayoral Year I have enjoyed many events, and visits, and as I started to mention above, it has been humbling to meet so many enthusiastic volunteers in the Town Area, these are people that serve us every day. My thanks go out to all those voluntary organisations that help us all.

I much enjoyed the progress of Bracknell in Bloom last year; meeting the contenders; meeting the Judges; and helping to hand out awards to winners. I am especially proud of the Towns children, in Schools and at Scouts, and youth clubs, who contributed, and passed on their enthusiasm to their parents. I hope next year that with everyone’s help that we will yet again be in the top, if not top of the winners nationally.
I would encourage everyone to look at the BTC website to see the range of things that we do. And please do sign up to the Facebook page to keep in touch with news and activities of the Council.

I have not held that many fund raising events this year, for one reason or another,  but am grateful to the Grange Hotel for their handling of the Tea Party, and The Old Manor for providing at a huge discount the hosting of the gathering after the Civic Service.
I would also thank the staff at the Town Council, who have been most supportive, under the guidance of our Town Clerk Russell Reeve.

Back to more blogging soon...

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Mobile Phones and Virus Issues

Antivirus programs are quite familiar to us on our desktops. As mobile operating systems have grown in
popularity, desktop type security concerns have followed. So trained are users that when Android antivirus apps began appearing, users saw them as a must-have. Given that there have been various bit of news about Android malware; users can’t really be blamed for making assumptions.
The trouble with apps is that they all run in the same sandboxed Java environment, which  includes the AV apps as well.  Most AV apps lack the ability to gain low-level system access on mobile that desktop antivirus would. This currently means that the best way to avoid malware is to understand how Android apps work.

When an app is installed, the system will always display permissions requested. See here  for an example. You can also find these permissions in the android settings for installed apps. These permissions are shown on a tab in Google Play) Some antivirus apps such as Zoner can display a list of apps and the number of permissions granted.
If a simple app asks for permission to send and receive SMS messages; that should be checked out by the user. Recent malware has been designed in such a way that by gaining rights to the phone, it can send text messages to premium rate numbers and also allow other attackers to carry out fraudulent activities. PC World reports that when first executed, Obad.a prompts users for device administrator privilege. Applications that gain this privilege can no longer be uninstalled through the regular apps menu until they are removed from the administrators list on the infected device. Indeed security researchers at Kaspersky’s lab have come across a Trojan virus, which is so strong that it might be almost impossible to remove.

The same problem exists for apps that allow phone calling permissions, potentially allowing them to call premium rate numbers without the user’s knowledge.

Another permission to check for is access to the contact list, and Google accounts. If you believe that the App should not be accessing this data, there is a chance that it is malware designed to collect user data for spamming or phishing. You might expect to see this permission is in apps that autocomplete contact names, or handle messaging actions.

The location permission could be used it for location-aware ads (might be useful), but a more questionable app could pick up a user’s location, and store it over time to sell that to advertisers.

The best way to stay safe on Android is to just stick to established apps from the likes of the official Android Market or the Amazon Appstore. While bad apps do occasionally show up in the Market, Google removes them swiftly and can also remotely kill the apps on phones.

There has been good evidence that a lot of free Android antivirus apps just don’t work, and could even cause people to believe they are protected when they are not. This might mean people taking take more risks with downloading dodgy software. There is a useful review here

Perhaps even worse is the latest scam imported from the PC platform, a form of which was recently identified by Symantec. Android Fakedefender locks people out of using other applications and can also change the settings of the OS, making it tricky for people to uninstall the malware.

Juniper networks says that the Mobile Threats Report, conducted by the Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center, is one of the largest first-hand quantitative research studies of its kind. The report is based on analysis of more than 1.85 million mobile applications and vulnerabilities, up more than 133 percent from the last report released in February 2012.
Juniper says it's clear that cybercriminals are now rather than trying to crack into every system, are going after the most popular: Android which dominates nearly 60 percent of the smartphone market share. (Apple has slightly more than 19 percent and Microsoft has 18 percent.)

An interesting feature of Zoner mentioned above is the theft protection, which if enabled allows you to remotely control and locate your device via SMS messages. If you have lost it somewhere you can get a location or sound an alarm for people to notice it. (useful if you have left it on silent) If it has been stolen you will be notified when SIM is changed. It might also be used by your partner or others to track your location... 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Yet more hackers?

In the Daily Mail Littlejohn says:
 "Law firms, telecoms giants and insurance companies all hired criminals to harvest sensitive, confidential information. One of the country’s most prolific hackers, a private investigator, admitted that 80 per cent of his work was carried out on behalf of lawyers, wealthy individuals and insurers.
Other clients of hackers included a household name who broadcasts to millions of people every week; another celebrity who paid a firm to hack into an employee’s computer; and a businessman who wanted to obtain intelligence on rivals involved in a £500 million takeover bid.
Investigators routinely obtained everything from bank and credit card statements to itemised mobile phone bills"

This was following on from a report in the Independent that alleges that a suppressed official report accuses respected industries of hiring criminals to steal rivals’ secrets. Yet an official report into their practices has been suppressed.

An interesting part of the hacking process in the operation "Blaggers" who obtain key information that may be used in itself or facilitate the hacking of another system. This is referred to on the Information Commissioners Office website - Reports to Parliament. the May  report bring up an interesting list.

"Following the report the Information Commissioner received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for further information about the publications that the 305 journalists were employed by and a breakdown of their activity. After considering the relevant exemptions information which did not identify the journalists or the publications was provided to the requester. Having considered the matter further the Information Commissioner has decided that a further disclosure is in the public interest and in the context of a special report to Parliament is consistent with the discharge of his functions under the Data Protection Act 1998. The following table shows the publications identified from documentation seized during the Operation Motorman investigation, how many transactions each publication was positively identified as being involved in and how many of their journalists (or clients acting on their behalf) were using these services".

Interestingly on the top of the list was the Daily Mail, with a reported 952 transactions and 58 journalists/clients.

It seems that illegal practices identified by Soca investigators went beyond the simple crime of voicemail hacking (see previous blog - Phone "Hacking" or Opportunistic Access? ) and included live phone interceptions, police corruption, computer hacking and perverting the course of justice.

GCHQ may gather 39 billion separate pieces of information, but how do you find the bit you might want? One should probably concerned about who could access that data.  

The trouble with access points is that once they are there, unless there is some kind of physical switch to isolate them, they may be vulnerable to unwanted access. Who also might be able to access the probes that GCHQ has placed on more than 200 transatlantic cables?

The other problem with people owning .com names is that the USA could claim that any traffic must be routed by way of the USA. See Extradition .com ‘wire fraud’ - Who next for extradition? 

The problem has been around for some time though - See Hackers’ ancient and modern blog post. There is a bit more about this sort of stuff in my book "Cold Suspenders". There are different types of suspender, and none of them hold stockings up.