Blog Archive — Page 31

This is part of my blog, which I have long since stopped maintaining. The page has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. Please go back to the homepage to see the current contents of this site.

  • Carter-Ruck Solicitors vs. Freedom of the Press

    EDIT: Victory. Original post follows:

    In the unlikely event that you haven’t already heard this, considering the crosses self blogosphere and Twitter are on fire with it:

    The Guardian newspaper has been blocked from reporting on a question being put to the House of Commons tomorrow, by London solicitors Carter-Ruck representing their client Trafigura. This explicitly goes against the long-established right of the media to report on the House of Commons, and thus on our right to know what our elected representatives are doing on our behalf. It is a worryingly successful attack on the freedom of the press, and naturally the internet has taken it upon itself to get the word out, at the expense of Carter-Ruck’s reputation if necessary. (Trafigura’s reputation is probably dead already.)

    The question that the Guardian is forbidden from reporting on is believed to be “question for written answer” number 61 on this list. The Minton Report referred to in this question can be found here, on Wikileaks.

    More coverage by: The Guardian, Guido Fawkes, Next Left, The Spectator, The Third Estate, Iain Dale, Boing Boing, The Register

    Twitter trending topics: #CarterRuck, Carter-Ruck, Trafigura, Guardian

  • From Lovecraft to Slash Fic

    So, as Joseph’s tastes in kids’ TV shows changes, so does the range of programmes I have to complain about, comment on, and generally be weirded out by. Thus I have probably posted the last of my “Night Garden = Ry’leh” brainfarts on this blog. On we go to the next thing he’s exposing me to non-stop.

    Right, in Thomas the Tank Engine, is it just me or are Rheneas and Skarloey totally gay for each other?

    That is all.

  • DRM, on My BBC Broadcasts?

    The deadline for responding to this proposal was Wednesday 16th September 2009. Since you are reading this after UK office hours on that date, it is probably too late for you to have your say. Sorry!

    DRM, on My BBC Broadcasts? It’s more likely than you think. </meme>

    It’s citizen power time again folks - and you have about 8 hours! The BBC have applied to Ofcom to include DRM (Digital Rights Management) encoding in their HD broadcasts, at the behest of the content providers. Not only would this reduce licence-payers’ rights to watch what they have funded, but it could also stop open-source TV tuner apps like MythTV from accessing these signals legally.

    Here’s BoingBoing’s page on the subject, and here’s the proposal itself (PDF).

    If you have a view on this proposal, the e-mail address to write to is:

    If you wish to use it for inspiration, the contents of my e-mail can be found here. Please do not copy it word-for-word, its effectiveness will be greatly reduced if everyone sends the same thing!

  • Announcing: Full Width Facebook Lite

    Do I blog anything these days apart from new software? Oh well, here goes:

    “Full Width Facebook Lite” is possibly the world’s shortest Greasemonkey script: it simply removes the right-hand bar in the new Facebook Lite, thus removing the ad and the big white space, allowing the actual content to span the full width. Useful for people who don’t like ads, and people with small displays!

    To reiterate, this is for the new Lite version of Facebook that’s currently in beta at It has no effect on regular Facebook.

    It requires Firefox with Greasemonkey, and probably works in anything else that supports the same kind of user scripts.

    There’s no point putting this under the GPL, it’s so simple, so it’s public domain. You can grab it using the links below.

  • Announcing: SuccessWhale!

    For the last few days I’ve been working on a simple web-based Twitter client, to fill the void between the simplicity of Twitter’s own web interface and the broken-in-IE6 complexity of BeTwittered and Seesmic Desktop’s web interface.

    It’s still under heavy development, and there are probably a ton of bugs and missing useful features. Please give it a try and let me know what you think. Bug reports are more than welcome!

    The source code is licenced under the GNU GPL v3.

    Update: Due to a move to the proper OAuth API, the software could no longer continue to be called FailWhale, as someone’s already written a Twitter app with that name! Thus, until I or someone else comes up with a good idea, it’s called SuccessWhale.

  • Forgotten Children is Getting Written

    “Forgotten Children” is an idea that’s been kicking around my head for a long while, and it’s always felt like it ought to be novel-length, albeit possibly a short novel. For several years I’ve laboured under the misapprehension that it might be publishable, and that if it was, I should keep it to myself until it’s done.

    However, it’s become abundantly clear that if there’s no kind of pressure on me, I just don’t do it. Thus, I’m going to serialise the damn thing on the internet. Hopefully, the fact that a few people out there might be reading it and waiting for the next chapter will encourage me to get off my arse and write. I can’t promise my ability to write it quickly, or frankly even well, but I’m going to put it out there in case someone enjoys it.

  • A Manifesto for Open Democracy

    This is a thought exercise around the idea of an idealised democracy. I do not pretend that it is likely to be achieved at any point, nor do intend to actively campaign for it. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

    On the whole my country, the United Kingdom, does Democracy pretty well. One only has to look at numerous examples around the globe to know how bad some of the alternatives can be. I just can’t help feel that the entire system is inefficient. We vote by constituency, which is fine for me as a traditionally Lib Dem voter in a constituency that swings about evenly between Lib Dem and Conservative. But what about the Labour voter here, who has pretty much no chance of successfully electing his candidate?

    I’m not just arguing in favour of Proportional Representation, though. The MPs that we elect represent us, at least in theory. But how well do they, or even can they? Each constituency has people with so many wide-ranging opinions that one man or woman can’t hope to represent all of them. And then how well does an MP in government represent their constituents compared to an MP in opposition? Doesn’t the Whip system and the concept of “toeing the party line” blur the line between us being represented by an MP and us being represented by that MP’s party? And if we’re being represented by such a huge unwieldy thing as a party, how can we ever hope to agree with everything a party believes in?

    What I propose is an open and transparent implementation of the extreme of direct democracy - a weakening of the powers of MPs to vote on our behalf, and a radical expansion of the power of public referendum. I also propose that the government, be it in the form of MPs or merely a body of civil servants, have the following core functions:

    • Maintain an open and fair system of staging referendums. Referendums, in which members of the public vote directly on national policy, must be fair and free from corruption. Infrastructure must be in place to allow them to happen regularly. Referendums should take place over media such as the Internet only if they can be independently proven to be unrigged, and so long as other means are also provided so that no-one is left out. Results of the votes much be published accurately and in a timely manner using an open format and an open licence. There must be traceability between a referendum and the policy change it causes.
    • Provide an unbiased source of information. If the public are expected to vote directly on matters of policy, they must have the information to make an informed decision. Raw facts and unbiased analysis must be provided in formats that are accessible to all. Be it the BBC or some other institution, it must be regularly and rigorously checked to ensure it is bias-free.
    • Maintain the economy. Ensure that the public cannot vote to do irreparable damage the the economy. Maintain the free market where at all possible, and if services should remain nationalised, such as the NHS, they must be rigorously examined for inefficiencies to avoid wasting public money.
    • Maintain the welfare state. Ensure that the public cannot vote to further disadvantage those already poor and disadvantaged. Social security benefits must be maintained and improved upon to ensure that poverty is eliminated and quality of life improves.
    • Maintain diplomatic relations. Represent the country internationally. Ensure that the will of the people is accurately reflected in our dealings with other nations and international bodies.

  • Software Development: Experiment 1

    Yesterday Morning

    Stimuli: Coffee, Neuromancer

    Software items successfully written: 0

    Yesterday Evening

    Stimuli: Curry, Beer

    Software items successfully written: 1

    I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

  • PLFF Team Picker Now Online!

    In a fit of last-minute coding, I’ve produced version 0.1 of my automated team-picker for the Premier League’s Fantasy Football game. (If you’re intending on playing, you only have 12 hours left to get your team in before the start of the season!)

    Its purpose is to analyse player stats, and suggest which players to pick based on points/price ratio and current injury lists. It’s based on my team-picker for the Telegraph’s fantasy football game, and uses exactly the same algorithm. It’s also run online automatically every day, so you can visit one page to get the latest results.

    You can find it here:


    Current Optimum Team

    Source Code

  • Leveru Uppu!

    I am now, apparently, a level 4 Software Engineer!

    In summary:

    Hit Die: +4 HP

    Abilities: +1 WIS

    Meta: +1 Base Attack Bonus, +1 Will Save

    Skills: +2 Knowledge (Software), +2 Use Arcane Device, +1 Concentration

    New Spells: Djikstra’s Algorithmic Fireball, Summon the Primordial Design Pattern, Shield from Buffer Overruns, Power Word: Documentation