Monday, 13 April 2015

@gdsteam and the revolution in cosmetics

Here's a selection of GDS posts and a film in the week leading up to purdah:

24-03-2015
Janet Hughes
25-03-2015
Chris Mitchell
25-03-2015
Janet Hughes
25-03-2015
Janet Hughes
26-03-2015
Janet Hughes and Stephen Dunn
26-03-2015
Mike Bracken
27-03-2015
David Rennie
27-03-2015
Mike Bracken
27-03-2015
Mike Beavan
28-03-2015
Mike Bracken
28-03-2015
Mike Bracken
29-03-2015
Mike Bracken
29-03-2015
Liam Maxwell
30-03-2015
Martha Lane Fox

We've already taken a look at Martha Lane Fox's 30 March 2015 offering. Two looks, in fact, here and here, both concluding that MLF's argument is illogical.

But there's something else.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

@gdsteam, success and ... candy floss

Here's a selection of GDS posts and a film in the week leading up to purdah:

24-03-2015
Janet Hughes
25-03-2015
Chris Mitchell
25-03-2015
Janet Hughes
25-03-2015
Janet Hughes
26-03-2015
Janet Hughes and Stephen Dunn
26-03-2015
Mike Bracken
27-03-2015
David Rennie
27-03-2015
Mike Bracken
27-03-2015
Mike Beavan Beaven
28-03-2015
Mike Bracken
28-03-2015
Mike Bracken
29-03-2015
Mike Bracken
29-03-2015
Liam Maxwell
30-03-2015
Martha Lane Fox

Let's take a look at Mike Beavan's Beaven's 27 March 2015 offering.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

#DimblebyLecture: DotEveryone and the new logical order

"DOT EVERYONE must help us navigate the multiple ethical and moral issues that the internet is presenting and will continue to present", Martha Lane Fox told us in the Dimbleby Lecture last week, 30 March 2015.

She was thinking of problems like mass surveillance by the security services, she said. And children's on-line rights. The implications of wearable technology and the Internet of Things. "Smart cities" and robots. And cybercrime.

She gave no hint what the solutions to those problems might look like, except to say that they would embed our national values – British values – in the digital world: "That, for me, would be DOT EVERYONE’s third big task – help us embed our national values in the digital world".

You might think that no progress can be made by DotEveryone before those problems have been solved.

Wrong.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

#DimblebyLecture: down with sash windows

Suppose that Nigel Farage said:
It is within our reach for Britain to leapfrog every nation in the world and become the most digital, most connected, most skilled, most informed on the planet ... Britain grabbed the industrial revolution by the throat – we became the powerhouse of the world – and we can do that again.
He would be accused of dog-whistling. Opprobrium would be heaped on his head from all bien-pensants quarters for appealing to that aggressive nationalism for which the British empire will forever be infamous and the only proper response to which is abjectly to acknowledge our guilt.

But then Mr Farage is the leader of UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, a youngish political party which campaigns against the UK's membership of the European Union and in favour of traditional Conservative values. He is not Martha Lane Fox, the person who actually uttered those words last Monday 30 March 2015 when she delivered the BBC's annual Dimbleby Lecture, only to be greeted by proud and benign smiles from all the great and the good in the audience.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The system is fine. It's the users that don't work



It has fallen to Bryan Glick, the estimable editor of Computer Weekly, to perform the first post mortem on the Rural Payments Agency's (RPA) computerised Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) which was discontinued yesterday and replaced with paper – "successive software releases failed to resolve the problems with the mapping tool".

Friday, 20 March 2015

Agile@DEFRA

Just another government IT failure, BBC news website:
A multi-million pound government IT system to process EU subsidy payments for farmers has been largely abandoned following "performance problems".

The system will be re-launched next week with farmers asked to submit Basic Payment Scheme claims on paper forms.

Farmers say they have struggled with the £154m website for months ...
Or is it?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Budget travel to Estonia

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his 2015 Budget report yesterday.

The media have clocked all the good jokes, please see for example How George Osborne's Budget jokes cost Britain £81m.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The lesson of the web? There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. A. Secure. Website.

There is no such thing as a secure website.

You know that.

You've read the papers, listened to the radio, watched TV and browsed the web. You know Sony were hacked. You know JP Morgan Chase were hacked. And Lockheed Martin and the US State Department.

You know that. They know it and so does everyone else – there is no such thing as a secure website.

Knowing that, if someone offers you a web service and promises that it's secure, how do you react?

Monday, 16 February 2015

The most unhappy science of face recognition

There were scenes of disgraceful levity at DMossEsq Towers this afternoon when the entire staff was reduced for an hour to helpless fits of infantile giggles. Only the appearance of the scowling proprietor himself, surging forth from his inner sanctum, furious, restored order.

Readers should know that this is a rare event, the news room normally being the very epitome of decorum. Stranger still is the occasion of this hysteria – an article in the Guardian newspaper. Po-faced and scandalised by every fact of life, you don't readily associate that organ with mirth.

There was obviously something in the air today.

The Nidd Hall portrait of Anne Boleyn. Putatively.
What did Anne Boleyn look like?

That was the question the Guardian posed themselves.

And the answer is simple.

She looked like the so-called "Nidd Hall" portrait alongside, clearly labelled "Anne Boleyn, spouse, Henry VIII".

Except that the answer isn't simple.

The Nidd Hall portrait wasn't painted until the late 16th century whereras Anne had parted company with her head in 1536.

Most contemporary pictures of her were destroyed on her death. All of them, in fact. Except for one – a likeness of her on a battered lead disc known as the "Moost Happi" medal.

The question is, does the woman depicted on the medal look like the late 16th century portrait?

And the answer, according to the Guardian, was to get an academic software engineer to use a face recognition system to determine yes or no whether they were pictures of the same woman:
Researchers in California used state-of-the-art face recognition to compare the face on the Moost Happi medal with a number of paintings and found a close match with the privately owned Nidd Hall portrait, held at the Bradford Art Galleries and Museums.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Matt Ridley and the GDS PR blitz


"It is not just me who is starstruck
by what Mr Maude and Mr Bracken are doing"

Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley, DL, FRSL, FMedSci (born 7 February 1958), known commonly as Matt Ridley, is a British journalist who has written several popular science books. He is also a businessman and a Conservative member of the House of Lords ... Ridley was chairman of the UK bank Northern Rock from 2004 to 2007, during which period Northern Rock experienced the first run on a British bank in 150 years ...