Thursday 24 March 2011

Myself or my Id? A Short Story from the Future

Darcy mooched in the shop doorway, glumly scanning the street and nearby store for money wallets. The only interesting thing his RFID scanner had picked up was a young lady wearing expensive designer clothes, with what appeared to cheap jewellery. He watched the scanner as people moved about the street hoping for unguarded ID that he could filch.
He moved, peering into the store. Someone had started a monetary transaction. His modified Travinetter caught the identifying keys of the transaction, and flashed up that they were stored along with the target’s ID signatures.  He activated the Travinetter, inserting his biometric data in place of the targets, but keeping the bank account references. It would be a simple matter to enter the store, and buy an item with the replicated ID.
The interesting young lady passed him again. He checked, and rechecked his Travinetter. The jewellery she was wearing looked similar, but was transmitting the ID of a much more expensive make. Intrigued, he decided to follow the lady. Perhaps she would perform the trick again?
As they approached the outskirts of the town, the lady turned around and smiled at him. He stopped, and then realised that someone was holding on to him from behind. The smile got bigger. A Cheshire cat he thought. “Scan him” she commanded, pointing over his shoulder. Darcy scanned the man who was gripping him. The results made him look twice. “Well” the lady demanded.
“Not well at all.” Darcy replied. “IDINFO is there, but the person is dead?”
Darcy felt something penetrate his skin, and a sharp pain. The body behind him spoke. “You like nicking ID mate?” Darcy could see the world turning dark. The body spoke again. “Well, I do too. I nicked the wrong one last time, but I think this is the last time you nick an ID.”
Darcy’s grip on the world receded. He felt he was leaving his body, or was it his Id leaving his body? The new Darcy kissed his companion, feeling a boost to his ego as he did so.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Church, Graves and Tombs

There seems to be a lot about the church in my life just recently. There was the SACRE thing, last Sunday the Civic service, and the Sunday before the blessing of my father's headstone.

There was a Civic Service to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the panels in the memorial chapel. This displays the names of the fallen from two World Wars. It is also the 90th Anniversary of the Royal British Legion.
They were there parading their standard. The service included items from the original service sheet from 1921. My mother managed to find the original service sheet at home amongst some other items. She thinks it probably came from the time that she was editor of the Parish Magazine.

The Royal British Legion and Holy Trinity Church want to hear from families who have lost a loved one to enable them to update the roll of honour with servicemen and women from Bracknell who have died in conflict in wars since.

It was good that we finally we got the headstone in after about a year. It was blessed the the Team rector - Rev Canon Nick Parish.

The Meteorological Office symbol was one that my father was asked to design when he was based at Strike/Bomber Command - He was indeed a man of Many Talents.
The symbol below the main inscription is taken from the tomb in Brixham where other family members are buried.
We do miss him.

Religious History Trails

The Bracknell Standard recently picked up on some work that is being done by the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE).

At the November meeting of SACRE we talked abot the "Celebrating RE Month" March 2011.

The SACRE Associate Advisor reported that a website had been launched: and was growing rapidly with ideas of activity that could take place across the Country. There were already lots of competitions being set up, it was suggested that the SACRE could develop some ideas at the Joint SACRE Conference.

The Chairman stated that one possible idea that the SACRE had already considered was an R.E trail that could move around various points of religious interest around a local area, perhaps one of the villages or towns of Bracknell Forest.

It was suggested that local school children could be tasked with suggesting where the trail should be and what should be included in the trail, as a research topic.
It was agreed that Councillor Mrs Maureen Beadsley, Paula Ridgeway and Councillor Alvin Finch would set up a working group to progress these ideas.

We have all been looking at different sites, and trying to come up with a coherent plan. Since the article was published in the paper, I have had a suggestion that we should include cycle routes.

I have looked at what can be done with google maps. This may not be a good example for children  as it includes several pubs. Perhaps I will just walk it myself.

Housing and Council Tax Benefits

I came across this article in the Bracknell Standard.
Some time back I was lead member of a review of this service, and also met with the audit commission.
On the face of it the rating in the report does not look that high, but compared with other council we came out very well.
I remember in the report (and here) that one of our concerns was the external interfaces to the DWP, and the potential for a change in circumstances for a client to go unreported for a length of time.
It looks like the changes to be brought into the system my join up these services better, making it less likely that mistakes will creep in.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Local services - What is needed?

A while back I Blogged about a chance to redefine what local services should look like and where they should be targeted, as the government is promising local councils much greater powers to decide what is needed locally.

I also mused about what it is that a council must do. What a good council should do, and what could be left out, if residents don’t want it. Councils are legally obliged to fulfil their statutory duties. But what are the statutory duties they are required to fulfil? New ones are added each year and we hardly ever see any taken out.

I read today at that “Councils are being offered the chance to ditch what they regard as their most onerous bureaucratic burdens.”

There are it seems that there at least 1294 statutory duties that councils have to abide by.
16 Whitehall departments and agencies are publishing their initial list of statutory duties for which they are responsible. Councils are now being asked which duties are vital to keep.
They are also being asked whether there are other duties that could also be removed.

The questions I asked before are:
What sort of things should your council be obliged to do?
How much do you want to pay for those things?

What other questions should we be asking?

Monday 7 March 2011

What if the Internet was switched off?

“Email, telephone and television services would go dark, media organisations become unable to gather and disseminate news, governments struggle to communicate emergency information, commerce grinds to a halt, shops run out of food, the transport system collapses and electricity supplies are be severely disrupted” Says an article in the Independent.

Linx - the London Internet Exchange - handles 80 per cent of our internet traffic. What if it was taken out? What if other key connections to the rest of the world were taken out? Undersea cables and satellite stations could be physically sabotaged, of flooded with data from foreign “botnets”.

The UK has the ability in times of emergency to shut the Internet. But what if it was done for us? What crime could be performed even during a temporary outage of the Internet?
The Independent has an article (mentioned above) about some of the scenarios. But who really knows what would happen? Is it a Postman with an IT background?

Recently  thefts, estimated to have cost financial institutions $86 million, were perpertrated by one man. See Kingpin: How one hacker took over the billion-dollar cybercrime underground by Kevin Poulsen. (New Scentist review). What could be done with this money?

Maybe you would like to read my book "Cold Suspenders" with some more muses about this and other things?
Read an extract Here

St. Piran's Day - 5th of March

Having posted about Britain, and England, I have been reminded that I should not leave out Cornwall, where I was Born.
The 5th of March was St. Piran's Day

Thousands of people took part in events all across Cornwall to mark St Piran's Day. (See BBC)

I did make sure that for at least part of the day I was wearing my Cornish Jumper, and would have worn my rather magnificent Cornish scarf, if only I could have found it.

To celebrate the important place counties play in the nation's cultural heritage Secretary of State Eric Pickles asked that English county standards be flown alongside the Union Flag outside the Department's Eland House headquarters in Victoria.

The Leader of Cornwall Council, Alec Robertson said:
"Cornwall is proud of its history. The natural landscape and our distinct Celtic language and culture have shaped the Cornwall of today. Our industrial mining past, when Cornwall was at the cutting edge of technological innovation, has left a world-wide legacy and Cornish Diasporas in many countries for whom Cornwall is still home. Occupying a central position in the Atlantic Arc, our maritime inheritance is still strong and our ports and harbours still house a fishing industry. In more recent times, Cornwall has become known for its visual and creative arts, of which we are justly proud.
"The ancient flag of St Piran, Cornwall's patron saint, is an enduring symbol of this unique region. I am delighted that our proud flag is flying outside DCLG on St Piran's Day. It is a day that more and more people within the Cornish Diaspora are celebrating, and it is appropriate that DCLG, as the Government Department sponsoring the development of the Cornish language, is celebrating the day too."

On the website  it says that tradition has it that the saint came from Ireland is extremely strong. Piran’s father and mother are both given Irish ancestries. Read more at

Interesting that on the O'Hagan side of the family that my uncle has traced back the Cornish O'Hagans to Castlemoore in Ireland.

Sunday 6 March 2011

The Royal Society of Saint George

Interesting how one video followed another.
I had an email from another member of the society asking If I had been to the home page recently.

I was rather a good rendition.

The Societys Objects as laid down in its Royal Charter are:
To foster the love of England and to strengthen England and the Commonwealth by spreading the knowledge of English history, traditions and ideals.
To keep fresh the memory of those in all walks of life, who have served England or the Commonwealth in the past, to inspire leadership in the future.
To combat all activities to undermine the strength of England or the Commonwealth.
To further English interest everywhere to ensure that St. George's Day is properly celebrated and to provide focal points all the world over where English men and women may gather together.

The Society is un-sectarian and independent of party politics. Membership is open to:
All those who subscribe to the Objects of the Society; and
Are born in England or wherever born being English men or English women or children or remoter issue of the same; or
Not being of English descent nevertheless support the aims and   objectives of the Society.

Friday 4 March 2011

British Beer

Having just been out for a (late beer at 10pm ish) (Plough and Harrow) after a meeting,  on returning home I was very taken by a post on Facebook.about our brewing heritage.
Some booze in supermarkets may be too cheap. There is no end of Larger at rock bottom prices.On the other hand a decent bottle of wine has become very expensive. Why are we not encouraging more sensible drinking in our local Public Houses? Places where drinking is regulated by a licensee. If the Landlord of a Pub sees someone too intoxicated he can refuse to to serve them.I enjoy My beer, cider and wine, and am not just out to get drunk. A pub is a place where people socialise.We have lots of social intercourse.
Anyway back to the Facebook post. Have a look at this: produced by the Society of Independent Brewers.