Tag Archives: bowenjohnj

a tale of two hackers – part 2

Last week I had a bit of a go at the founder of Wikileaks, and I feel a bit of clarification may be needed. I’m not against whistle blowing, although I did once come a cropper doing just that myself, but last week I was drawing a parallel between those who seem to want to elevate Mr Assange to sainthood and the case of Gary McKinnon.

My issue with Julian Assange is that knowledge is power and needs to be used with care. I frequently am rude here about politicians, but there is a responsibility issue at hand and politicians have a difficult job, more so the further up the ivory tower they get. My beef with them is often about how ill prepared they are to wield the knowledge and power that they have.

There are times when the people (whoever they may be) have a right to know things and there are times when they don’t. That decision has to be made by someone. Now we are all human and fallible, but when we are entrusted with those decisions we have to do our best to do the right thing.

The problem I have with Wikileaks is that I don’t see any sign of accountability, let alone responsibility. Mr Assange and his supporters are happy enough to attack The System, but look what happens when things get rough; it’s that same System that they look to to protect them.

It takes courage to wield knowledge and power. I don’t see a lot of that in Mr Assange, and nor do I see it in the way that the US government is behaving towards Gary McKinnon. Maybe there is an irony there.

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a tale of two hackers – the campaign to #freegary goes on

One the one hand we have an individual who is being lauded by the lovies and hailed as a hero by certain elements of the community. A man who has pleaded guilty to charges of hacking and has placed the lives of many at risk by publishing information that he and his supporters claim that we, the public, have a right to know about, regardless of the fact that there are nasty people around who can use what he is making public to their own twisted advantage.

And then we have a gentle soul who managed to break through the layers of security and hack into places he also had no right to be in, but did nothing malicious once there, simply had a poke around for interests purely of his own. The only publicity that has come from his actions has been brought to our attention by those whose security he breached.

One is seemlingly pretty safe and is being protected by laws in the UK and the other is, once again, seemingly on the brink of being handed over to the US where he is unlikely to get anything like a fair hearing.

I find it obscene that it is the second of these chaps that is facing being handed over, despite him being one of us, a UK national, whereas the first one, not a UK national, is the one that we are protecting.

I know that the charges they each face are different, but why are we not protecting Gary McKinnon? Julian Assange, in my opinion, is a very dangerous man who has little regard for the safety and security of others, and has done what he has done in the full knowledge of its implications for others, whereas Gary is a harmless person with a recognised medical condition who did not set out to damage anyone, and nor did he.

Julian Assange has placed the lives of many at risk; Gary McKinnon showed that there was a flaw in security that needed to be addressed. I think that the former deserves all he might get and the latter deserves a medal.

Now I read that Nick Clegg is backing away from his apparent commitment to Gary. Regardless of his gaffe earlier in the week about fogetting he was in charge, if the Lib-Dems are serious about government then let’s see some strong commitment. If the junior partners in this coalition can’t show some backbone then David Cameron should demonstrate how to lead and simply tell President Obama to give up on Gary McKinnon, end of story.

There are things in life worth standing up for and this is one of them. I shall continue to campaign for his freedom and I hope that you will join the fight.

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we live in interesting times

We live in interesting times. Wasn’t that once a curse? Events through North Africa and into the Middle East echo the stunning scenes as the Berlin Wall came down, taking with it the former Soviet Bloc.

I don’t mean this to sound facetious, but the apparent role of social media in some of what we are reading about, and seeing on TV, maybe suggests that we don’t need costly invasions, just supply a bunch of smart phones and let Twitter and Facebook take over. Sure there will probably still be deaths, for every revolution needs martyrs but there may be less than riding into town with guns and missiles blazing courtesy of an invasion force.

The technological revolution has changed the world so much. As a gawky teenager I watched a moon that had men walking on it whilst also being able to talk to people who had been born before the first powered flight. My parents generation had fought a war at a time when weaponry moved from barely adequate ballistics to the atom bomb in less than 6 years and yet it is getting on for 20 years since US war planes were taking off a few miles from where I live to launch SCUD missiles in anger.

In the early 80’s I began programming computers that I never saw and would have taken up most of my kitchen, but had less computing power that the mobile phone that now sits alongside me. I had to run programmes using less memory that I need to accommodate this sentence on my laptop.

Yes the times are a changing.

We have enjoyed the fact that some parts of the world are apparently at peace when the fact is that there may be quiet, but it comes at the cost of what we would regard as repression. I think that we need to take a breath before we judge others. Why are we right and they wrong? Our world and what we take for granted is as alien to some people as our lives are to them. We readily criticise now the Imperialism of earlier centuries, yet was that not also an effort to impose our ways on others? If that was wrong what gives us the right to repeat the exercise now? If other groups of people have a desire to kill each other, where do we draw the line between intervention and inteference?

This is not a defence of cruel dictators or corrupt regimes. I applaud those who rise up and depose them, but only as long as they can provide a better alternative, otherwise they have just shed the blood of those who have died in vain. How much more blood has been shed in countries around the world after they have rid themselves of the resident despot? Sorry, but life is not easy and things are not as clear cut as we would like them to be when we sit in our comfortable worlds in what we like to think of as civilised countries.

My thoughts are with those who are protesting with hope for a better world in their hearts. I hope that they succeed in their dreams and that their success comes without blood and tears being spilled, or at least as little as possible. It also goes out to the people of New Zealand who have seen Mother Nature rise up against them. Life ain’t easy; it’s a privilege, so let’s not waste it. Times are too interesting to miss.

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An investment for Wayne’s extra pay packet

If he wants to spend about fifty pence of his new wages can I recommend that he potters off to a second hand book or charity shop and finds himself a copy of Nobby Stiles’ autobiography?

Read it and learn Wayne. Other times, other ways maybe, but you could use a lesson in humility. If you want to see your club ambitious for trophies, then show some leadership and do your bit instead of behaving the way you have recently.

If you want trophies then they will come from the team playing as a team, not because of you alone. You have a huge talent, so get fit , say sorry and get out there and play for your mates.

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Nobby Stiles; a true hero

Very sad news that Nobby is going to have to sell his treasures. This guy is a true hero from the days when football was a sport and not a bunch of overpaid (insert own adjective).

He played his heart own for his clubs and his fans and put a lot back into the game when his playing days were over. Surely the game can afford to help some of the people that made it what it is today? If the players at Manchester United, or at Middlesborough and Preston, gave up an hours pay each it would mount up, so why not make it a days pay each lads? Buy his stuff and give it back.

Oh, and buy his autobiography. It should be compulsary reading for all youngsters, regardless of whether or not soccer is their game.

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Getting the Best from Powerpoint

Used well it’s a great tool, so why do so many people use it so badly?

Those of us that have to sit through presentations as part of our job know how soul destroying it can be to have half a dozen dud presentations over the course of a day.

Just ask and I’ll be happy to come along to your team, event or meeting and give you my light hearted Death by Powerpoint presentation with some helpful hints on doing it well. Takes about half an hour.

For now, here are my top ten tips:

1 Think about your audience. Even if you have been asked to do a standard talk, how you deliver it can make a big difference, and so can the size of the audience. If your talk is specific, say a sales pitch, then you should be gearing it solely to what the audience have asked for.

2 Your slides are there to help the presentation: You are the focal point not them. Just a few words on each slide, or a picture, that you can talk around is all you need. Try not to use more that 15 words per slide. And never read from the slide.

3 Use a clear font and one with strong contrast to the background. Not all venues have decent light management and you want people to be able to see what you have got. Don’t use fancy fonts either. Anything that detracts from the message is a waste of time.

4 “I’m afraid this slide is a bit busy” and “I’m not sure of you can see all the detail here” are two phrases you don’t want to use. If you can’t get the information on the slide so that people at the back can read it then use a different format. Graphs can be simplified to just show a trend for example and you can put the detail in the handout.

5 Animation is good, but only in limited amounts: You’re not Pixar Studios. A couple of animations to show a trend or similar is good. Leave it at that.

6 A slide should last you through 2 to 3 minutes of talk at least. Use the slides to build your message to a natural conclusion, and keep a regular pace. Try not to have too many messages either, in a 30 to 40 minute talk you only need around 3 at most.

7 Never walk in front of the slides. If you absolutely have to wander around in front of the screen at some point, say at the end when you are taking questions, either turn the projector off or put something in front of the lens to break the beam.

8 Rehearse your timing and make adjustments. Have some notes on a printed set of the slides so that you always know what’s coming next (we all have those moments when our mind goes blank). You want to use your time in front of these people to get your points over. With, say, 3 key messages over 30 minutes a quick intro and a summing up will take about 6 minutes leaving you 8 minutes for each message.

9 Be prepared to share your slides with a set of notes that covers the key messages that you have spoken over them. Have your contact details on them and tell the audience that they are welcome to contact you.

10 Keep to your allotted time. It looks professional and your audience will be more receptive. If you’ve rehearsed properly you should have no problems.

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