Recent posts by simon gray
Brexit - what should happen next
The country and Parliament have failed to agree, and it's pretty clear they never will agree; the wheels have fallen off the Brexit train not least because the people who voted for and campaigned to leave have been unable to agree amongst themselves what 'leave' actually means. Here's what should happen next:
Revoke Article 50, make it clear to the Leave folks that the matter is not ended, spend the next two years trying to do what David Cameron failed to do at the beginning of 2016 (whilst the EU might be a bit more predisposed to grant the concessions they told him to whistle for back then, having seen that the UK actually is stupid enough to jump off a cliff if it so desires), also spend the next two years fixing some of the problems - including the UK's own botched implementations of EU directives and regulations - which led to the slender Leave victory in the first place, put the matter to The People again in a binding referendum with a properly fairly agreed franchise and a realistic enhanced majority threshold (55% / 45% seems reasonable enough), and implement any subsequent second Leave victory in an orderly manner with a National Unity Government rather than a minority leader behaving like they've got an absolute divinely-sanctioned majority.
Nobody could argue such a course would be undemocratic, because the procedure would be legally binding from the outset, and all but the minority extremists on both sides will get what they want, and the rest of the rhetorical 90% of the population who never cared one way or the other until 2.5 years ago can see the country talk about something else for a bit.
#politics #eu #brexit
Brexit, omelettes, and eggs
This, by or via Facebook user Jane Cody, is currently being widely shared around Facebook; reproduced here as fair use to allow people to see it without having to login to Facebook.
LEAVER: I want an omelette.
REMAINER: Right. It’s just we haven’t got any eggs.
LEAVER: Yes, we have. There they are. [HE POINTS AT A CAKE]
REMAINER: They’re in the cake.
LEAVER: Yes, get them out of the cake, please.
REMAINER: But we voted in 1974 to put them into a cake.
LEAVER: Yes, but that cake has got icing on it. Nobody said there was going to be icing on it.
REMAINER: Icing is good.
LEAVER: And there are raisins in it. I don’t like raisins. Nobody mentioned raisins. I demand another vote.
DAVID CAMERON ENTERS.
DAVID CAMERON: OK.
DAVID CAMERON SCARPERS.
LEAVER: Right, where’s my omelette?
REMAINER: I told you, the eggs are in the cake.
LEAVER: Well, get them out.
EU: It’s our cake.
JEREMY CORBYN: Yes, get them out now.
REMAINER: I have absolutely no idea how to get them out. Don’t you know how to get them out?
LEAVER: Yes! You just get them out and then you make an omelette.
REMAINER: But how?! Didn’t you give this any thought?
LEAVER: Saboteur! You’re talking eggs down. We could make omelettes before the eggs went into the cake, so there’s no reason why we can’t make them now.
THERESA MAY: It’s OK, I can do it.
THERESA MAY: There was a vote to remove the eggs from the cake, and so the eggs will be removed from the cake.
REMAINER: Yeah, but…
LEAVER: Hang on, if we take the eggs out of the cake, does that mean we don’t have any cake? I didn’t say I didn’t want the cake, just the bits I don’t like.
EU: It’s our cake.
REMAINER: But you can’t take the eggs out of the cake and then still have a cake.
LEAVER: You can. I saw the latest Bake Off and you can definitely make cakes without eggs in them. It’s just that they’re horrible.
REMAINER: Fine. Take the eggs out. See what happens.
LEAVER: It’s not my responsibility to take the eggs out. Get on with it.
REMAINER: Why should I have to come up with some long-winded incredibly difficult chemical process to extract eggs that have bonded at the molecular level to the cake, while somehow still having the cake?
LEAVER: You lost, get over it.
THERESA MAY: By the way, I’ve started the clock on this.
REMAINER: So I assume you have a plan?
THERESA MAY: Actually, back in a bit. Just having another election.
REMAINER: Jeremy, are you going to sort this out?
JEREMY CORBYN: Yes. No. Maybe.
EU: It’s our cake.
LEAVER: Where’s my omelette? I voted for an omelette.
REMAINER: This is ridiculous. This is never going to work. We should have another vote, or at least stop what we’re doing until we know how to get the eggs out of the cake while keeping the bits of the cake that we all like.
LEAVER/MAY/CORBYN: WE HAD A VOTE. STOP SABOTAGING THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. EGGSIT MEANS EGGSIT.
REMAINER: Fine, I’m moving to France. The cakes are nicer there.
LEAVER: You can’t. We’ve taken your freedom of movement.
Have the police lost control of the city centre streets of Birmingham?
A couple of weeks ago when I was walking from work to the railway station along Dale End / High Street in Birmingham I commented that just about every evening when I walk that way there's some kind of blue light incident going on in the area.
Last night as I was walking along the road I saw that the blue light incident had been levelled up considerably by the entire area being sealed off.
It turned out what had occurred this time was a mass brawl of about 100 youths resulting in three people being stabbed. From eye-witness reports of the lead-up to the incident, it seems that to a certain extent some kind of rumble was already pre-planned:
"I was on the bus going into town and everyone started making weird noises as it started pulling up at the bus stand near the McDonald's.
There was a massive group of kids, I'd say they were probably aged around 16.
They all went after this one guy who looked the same age and grabbed him - he nearly went under a taxi.
There were probably about 30 of them. Then about 10 or 12 guys started stamping on him. I was on the phone to my mum when it happened and I told her I wouldn't be surprised if he was dead. They were stamping on his head and legs, everywhere. They kept doing it".
But it also turns out that my anecdotal perception of there being some kind of incident in the area every evening is borne out by the data - it turns out that on average, 48 crimes a month are reported just on that 20 yard section of road - you know, like at least one every day.
Hundreds of schoolchildren are causing “chaos” to businesses and shops around Dale End, with one shop owner revealing how youths “just steal things and run off”.
The “free-for-all” around Dale End and Bull Street is hitting shopkeepers hard, none more so than at Pound Palace near the ever-busy McDonald’s.
The shop owner, who didn’t want to be named, said: “It’s happening all the time after 3pm.
“The children come and then there’s around 200 people blocking the door and customers can’t get in.
“You try asking them to move and they just steal things and run off. The police are nowhere to be seen.”
But bearing in mind there is currently an enhanced police presence in the city centre just the other side of town right now because of the Conservative Party conference taking place, you've got to wonder, a mass gang brawl by a bunch of yobboes that looks like it was planned in advance? And they expected to get away with it because they know they get away with the disorder that is a constant feature of the area? There's only one conclusion - that the police have lost control of the streets.
Still, we're not entirely without measures to be kept safe in town - the entire of the city centre is encircled by a Ring of Steel of tank traps as a now permanent fixture since Christmas 2017.
So that's OK, if the yobboes causing 48 crimes a month wanted to storm the area in their stolen hothatches they'd be prevented from doing so.
Perhaps the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner might like to reconsider the effectiveness of these measures to prevent a hypothetical crime and instead consider re-prioritising the resources that are currently allocated to them into preventing the actual crime which is going on under their noses?
Given that this is a known crime blackspot during a known time of day, why isn't there a permanent police presence in the area to deter it - and ready to follow it around should it move from Dale End to, say, Pigeon Park?
Of course police budgets are stretched and getting more stretched with more cuts almost certainly on the way - this too needs addressing. But come on, what is it about our society that is now evidently so broken that this kind of behaviour is occurring anyway, regardless of whether there are police officers on hand to deter it? What kind of parents do these 100 children have that have clearly raised 100 yobboes who are quite prepared to kick the shit out of and stab - potentially fatally - one of their number in a mass attack in broad daylight in the city centre anyway?
#birmingham #society #crime
In group Birmingham
Gmail - no longer considered secure enough for business or consumer use
So yeah, I've been generally working on reducing my reliance on Google services, not least because of Google's habit of withdrawal mission critical services that people are even paying for at the drop of a hat. Looks like Gmail is the next thing to replace, since currently all mail to star-one dot org dot uk actually gets read by us through Gmail.
I wonder what businesses - especially tech businesses tt- who are using Gmail Pro think of the possibility all their confidential business emails may have been read by developers at other tech businesses?
#technology #business #security
What laptop should I buy?
Roughly once a month or so I see requests from friends asking the world for general advice on buying laptops. Since it's quite burdensome to type out the advice I always give on my phone, here's a handy guide on the internet.
First of all, for most people's uses, pretty much any Windows, Linux, or Mac laptop you can buy these days will be sufficiently powerful for your needs. The only areas which will need extra power will be computationally-heavy tasks such as real-time audio (for example if you're making music with your computer), video editing and rendering (to be fair, a less-powered computer will still be able to do it, it'll just take a lot longer), or gaming. If you're doing any of these tasks, you'll need to go for the fastest computer you can afford; if you're doing real-time audio a Windows laptop will be OK, but if you've got the budget for a Mac then go for one of those instead, because Macs' audio handling tends to be much more efficient than Windows'.
If literally all you're wanting to do is a bit of Word, a bit of web and email, and a bit of streaming video from Netflix, then indeed the cheapest new computer you can get will see you right.
So on that basis, how do you choose?
First of all, you'll need to balance drive size, processor speed, and RAM.
If it's going to be your only computer, then you'll almost certainly need at least 500GB of drive space on which to store everything; this probably means you'll be needing one of the bulkier laptops rather than one of the modern ultra light ultra slim laptops, though laptops with larger faster Solid State Drives rather than slower Hard Drives are getting cheaper all the time. Yeah, you can use cloud storage, but the last thing you want is when you actually need it the file you need now to be in the cloud needing you to download it rather than right there on your computer. Alternatively, if you've got another computer as your main computer and you're looking for a laptop for handy out-and-about use then that increases your options, as you can get ultra-thin laptops with smaller hard drives for reasonably cheap, though I wouldn't recommend getting anything smaller than 128GB if your budget can stretch to it, and definitely don't get anything smaller than 64GB (I don't know if there are any ultrabooks smaller than 64GB, though).
You of course want the fastest processor and largest RAM your budget can stretch to - but if the selection you see in front of you all have the same processor speeds, go for the ones with more RAM, ideally at least 8GB, definitely not less than 4GB. In fact, for the most part if you see two computers for the same price, one with 8GB RAM and a slower processor, the other with 4GB RAM and a faster processor, then go for the 8GB/slow option, because your experience of using the computer will almost certainly be faster with more RAM than with faster processing - faster processors are better for single computationally heavy tasks (such as rendering video that you've been editing), whereas more RAM is better for allowing the computer to do multiple tasks at once. OK, you might be only doing one task at once, but your computer is always doing many things simultaneously!
We have not yet covered the most important things to bear in mind when choosing a laptop, though - and for that reason, you're best not choosing a laptop by looking at specifications on the internet, your best bet for choosing a laptop is to go into an actual real shop.
Having decided on your budget, go to the laptop shop and go to the section of the shop which has them in your budget range. Look at them. Pick them up. If they're not too tightly tethered to the counter, try resting them on your lap. Type a bit on them.
Because for the most part most cheap consumer laptops are pretty much evenly matched in terms of power, and as discussed above, for most consumer applications the least powerful laptop you can buy will serve most people's needs anyway, the differentiators between laptops isn't the power, but the product design and build quality.
Is it a nice weight to carry in your bag? Indeed, is it big enough to be able to use, and small and light enough to fit in your handbag rather than needing to be carried in a rucksack or laptop bag? Does it balance nicely on your lap? Is it easy and comfortable to type on (and rest your hands on when you pause to think)? Does it feel nice to hold? Is the screen sharp and easy to read, and reflection and glare free? (Though note that sharper screens tend to be more prone to reflection and glare, so consider what kind of environment you're most likely to be using it in) Is the pointing device - either a nipple in the middle of the keyboard or a trackpad below it - easy to use, accurate, and not prone to accidental clicking when your palm shifts? Does the actual whole thing look good on the desk?
These are the things which are most important to think about when choosing a cheaper end laptop - does it look and feel like a nice, comfortable, quality product?
One last thing - don't, under any circumstances, get a Chromebook.