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That, Mr Anderson, is the sound of inevitability


Dutch TV programme Nieuwslicht (Newslight) is claiming that the security of the Dutch biometric passport has already been cracked. As the programme reports here, the passport was read remotely and then the security cracked using flaws built into the system, whereupon all of the biometric data could be read.

The crack is attributed to Delft smartcard security specialist Riscure, which here explains that an attack can be executed from around 10 metres and the security broken, revealing date of birth, facial image and fingerprint, in around two hours. Riscure notes that that the speed of the crack is aided by the Dutch passport numbering scheme being sequential.

The process is explained in greater detail by Bart Jacobs, Research Director of the Institute for Computing and Information Sciences, University of Nijmegen, in presentations to be found here. These make it clear that a skimming exercise could potentially yield all biometric data from a passport (or indeed a biometric ID card), giving ID thieves and would-be forgers a considerable leg up in the construction of fakes.

According to the Dutch Interior Ministry ways to improve the security of the passport are being looked at. But note that they say "improve", not "fix".



Educashun, Educashun, Educashun - prescottism on the rise in the UK

"The UK Times Online reports that: 'After studying 25,000 children across both state and private schools Philip Adey, a professor of education at King's College London confidently declares: "The intelligence of 11-year-olds has fallen by three years' worth in the past two decades."' 3 years loss at age 11 is an IQ of 100*8/11 or 73 -- a massive loss of 27 points. Although the test measures, not general IQ per se, but general IQ applied to scientific and technical reasoning, it nevertheless appears to blow 'a gaping hole' in what has been called The Flynn Effect: that IQs have been rising in most parts of the world -- particularly the developed countries."



Got myself my first ear infection a week or so ago, so I ended up feeling dizzy and faint-headed and had no idea why! A trip to our new doctor and a diagnosis made (without any pills thank god).

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing the new BBC Weather forecasts brought to life by what I can only describe as (imho) the best Weatherperson I've ever seen! His name (i think) is Daniel Corbett (and I think this is his page), but basically he was able to make the most of the awful maps and the moving graphics, to add a lovely touch of humanism to the weather and a bit of humour too. Funny when you can only think of a weather presenter as useful news isn't it?

Reading newspapers is a bore, they only sensationalise now, and the writers are dumbing down, so is no longer a refreshing challenge to read them. I prefer (as I've said before) to read periodicals that have a higher quality of journalism, even though the news is out of date somewhat. Still, I've no need to be on the cusp of the wave of sensational news regarding Big Brother or Ruth Kelly, frankly - I don't give a damn. Both are unnecessary wastes of time.

I've completed reading about the IBM fiasco during WW2, and have begun on the more mundane things such as Agile Methodologies for project management. Its not as revelationary, though to finally see someone assume that a person doesn't work for 8 hours non-stop is a cause for joy! 5 hours of productiveness in an 8 hour day, sounds about right to me.

I've been reading others blogs, but I've had little time during work hours to leave comments, its getting a bit painful having to deal with some of the issues that are surfacing there. Still, I am able to leave it all behind on a nice train journey home - which I continue to remind myself is a hundred times better than the awful train journeys I used to take for 6 years previous.

Here's to a general awakening of common sense and happiness to all!

A moment to think...


We should all take a moment to think - especially when embarking on serious ventures.

My post on Monday (below) relates to the case against IBM in relation to their part in the Nazi war effort. Looking at the text, which was part of a larger report requesting a subpeona against IBM to search their archives (denied of course by the cronies) I realised that it really is a sign of the capitalistic mind - money is far more important than the care and nurture of the human spirit.

Its not that I am against capitalism, or that I am a left wing loonie - I think I am more in favour of those in power taking the time to understand the scope and penetration of the results of their actions/decisions.

A case in point is the current ID Card scheme. Its no secret that I find the whole plot highly conspicuous, and it was providence that I should pick up the IBM book when I did. It rang alarm bells all over the shop for me, as collecting such vital and personal and detailed information on people is the beginning of being able to segregate and police them at a level never seen before (except during the said Nazi regimes). The way the government is pushing to implement this, via hush-hush plans to bring this in via a passport rather than ID card schem, thus confusing organisations such as Liberty and the ever so fickle media, is nothing short of machivellian.

I think its about time that I did what I can only do - vote with my X - this year I will no longer vote for the Tony Bush government. It is against my principles to vote for a me-me-me way of life, but the only signal I can think of sending to the government is to vote them out - and I PRAY that the civil service and ministries involved in the current ID scheme, suddenly get the balls under the new government to abolish all the plans thereof.

Besides, if Brown can't oust Blair now, he won't be able to do diddly later - its about backbone you see.

Support: Freedom, Liberty, Learning from our mistakes

Control in business machines


Further we have a peculiar clash of interests. This is a conflict of warlike nationalistic states, each having certain interests. Yet we frequently find these interests clashing diametrically with the opposing interests of international corporate structures, more huge and powerful than nations. These corporate entities are manned not by staffs of citizens of any nation, but by citizens of the world looking solely to the corporate interest and pledging loyalty thereto. We see revealed in this clash, this dichotomy of culture between our nation and an international corporation whose interests do not coincide.


What do you want to do?


If you Won the lottery and had a clause that said winnings only available if you go through a complete career change what would you do? My answers would be either a teacher of young kids, or a personal career or life coach.

Odd isn't it?

i have no idea if i'd be any good. but it would give me a chance to use all the different things i like and know.

What would you choose?


We'll build the ID Card System at LOW COST!


Privacy is not the only reason to be worried about ID cards - there's also the bozos the government is getting to install the system that runs them, says Corporate Watch.

Anti-corporate lobbyists at Corporate Watch issued a rogues gallery of corporate cowboys who are either working with the government on ID Cards or have expressed an interest in doing so.

Their poor track record* makes for an entertaining read, but this is not your common or garden blinkered corporate bashing. Corporate Watch finds room to apportion the blame in equal measure between government and suppliers - something, coincidentally, that government and suppliers have never been able to agree themselves.

The CW report, "A critical analysis of private companies' engagement with the identity cards scheme", takes an appropriate swipe at lazy and secretive government procurement practices.®

Read this


ID Cards: A titanic project waiting for its iceberg

Tom Espiner
January 18, 2006, 12:25 GMT

  • Q&A: Professor Ian Angell, head of LSE's department of information systems, claims that not only is the scheme likely to blow up in the government's face, it may also be illegal

The controversy around ID Cards raged on this week with the rejection of the ID card bill by the House of Lords. Peers refused to pass the bill primarily on the grounds of costs, and voted to force the government to provide a detailed budget for the project before proceeding.

For its part, the Home Office has vowed to fight the Lords decision and push the bill through claiming that more transparency will actually push the cost of the scheme up. The government has maintained that the cost of implementing the ID card scheme will be £5.8bn, but a study by the London School of Economics (LSE) concluded that the figure could be more like £19bn, and could even be as high as £30bn.

ZDNet UK spoke with Professor Ian Angell, head of LSE's department of information systems, to find out why his organisation’s estimates differ so much from the government’s and why he sees the whole project as a "dog’s dinner".

  • Q: The Home Office has said it will seek to overturn the Lords vote against the ID card Bill. What do you think should be the next stage in this process?

A: There needs to be a full review of costs of IT implementation. It's crazy that the Home Office can get a bill through the House of Commons without MPs having the full information. The National Audit Office is the ideal place to review the figures. The Home Office claimed that making costs transparent would actually push costs up, as giving details would limit its bargaining power. That's like saying 'To hell with the National Audit Office — they can find out we've been overcharged after the event." Obviously there are no guarantees for costs, but the Home Office keeps moving the goalposts. The whole thing's a dog's dinner.

  • You obviously don't think the scheme will be a success then?

I feel ambivalent about it. As a taxpayer, I'm horrified. As a professor of information systems, I'd love them to implement the scheme, because a lot of work will come from this. It'll be like watching the Titanic from the drawing board to the iceberg. This is going to be a shambles.

  • Why do you think it'll be such a shambles?

To implement an information system, you need to have a clear set of objectives to reach and aims to address. What you have here is a moving target. The cards may be used for e-commerce authentication, but also as an ID card, like an Arnhem Pass, which is what the police want."

  • An Arnhem Pass?

An Arnhem Pass is what the Nazis issued to the Jews to identify them. This is what the Muslims will see it as. White-boy organisations demanding searches, and charging taxpayers for it.

  • Some estimates put the cost of implementing the scheme at £300 per person. Will it really be that expensive?

The overall cost may not be £300 per person, because the government will generate income from the system, by selling the system and the expertise to run it to other governments. But the only governments that will take it are other disreputable ones. The scheme will not work. The social environment it will be dropped into will be so disruptive. It's not even clear if the scheme is legal under EU law.

  • Are there any other reasons why you believe the scheme won't work?

These people [the government] have obsessive-compulsive neuroses. Idiotic designers who think the world can be proscribed and ordered just so, when the world is non-linear. The flap of a butterfly's wing, and so on. This is a government of control freaks, who don't understand there's no such thing as control.

  • The Lords rejected the Bill in part because of concerns over the security of data. How do you feel about using ID cards for both authentication and to establish identity?

There are going to have to be substantial secondary systems put in place. What idiot says the system is going to be infallible? There will be a 0.1 percent failure rate at least. If this is part of ecommerce, the security concerns will be horrendous. Imagine the security issues of having 40,000 or 50,000 retail outlets, linked to the ID card network.

  • The Lords were particularly concerned about the use of data. What is your view?

Any change is problematic when an underlying philosophy is replaced by a slightly different philosophy, using the same data. Data does not integrate easily when transposed. For example, it was found that Holland had a much higher vehicle theft rate than the rest of Europe. Then it was noticed that that was because the Dutch were classing bicycles as vehicles. There are more subtle examples, but the same holds true. Data is fixed, but interpretation depends on context."

  • How about data retention and centralisation?

Each database is scanned by another database, which is in turn scanned by another database. If there's an error on one database, this will be replicated over the system, even if the initial database is corrected. Databases degrade, which is something the designers are not taking into account. They think technology will get rid of inefficient humans.

  • Aside from security concerns about ecommerce, have you got any other concerns?

The vast majority of security problems are to do with errors. The way people operate is not like a computer. There are other security questions. Will there be local access to the databases? Will there be access to a central database? Who has access? Who is liable when things go wrong? What if the information stored is wrong about you? Who do you go to, to check, and change the information? What rights do you have to view and change the data? The government haven't even said what's going to be on the card. That's outrageous!"

The other problem is complexity. How will the system cope with criminal behaviour, incompetence, spurious details, and things you haven't thought of when designing the system? Honest people are the only ones who won't benefit. It will be a one-stop shop for fraud. This is what complexity does.

  • What do you think the future of the bill will be?

It depends on whether the politicians try to be macho and force it through. It depends whether the House of Commons has teeth, and says, "We're not going to rubber stamp this."

  • And if the Bill is passed?

It will turn into another form of taxation. The parallel is cameras on motorways. This started out as road safety, and turned into a tax. It will be a licence to print money for the government. Look at what has happened in Holland. 50,000 Dutch people have been fined for not having ID cards in the nine months since they have been compulsory. Suddenly every officious policeman is demanding to see ID cards, and fining people who don't have them.

  • Final thoughts?

This will blow up in their faces, and it'll be a hugely expensive explosion.

brought to you by thenumnum

Techno Quandry...

What is one to do when it becomes clear that parallels exist between current events and the information being read in a book such as IBM and the Holocaust?

I read with disappointment last night in Time magazine, that:

Slamming Its Doors on the World

As Iran confronts the West over nukes, its leaders are patrolling the Web to silence critics at home

I cannot unfortunatley post a link to the online article just yet, as its in the current issue and thus only for subscribers - but should you be able to find it then do please read it. Basically Iran is censoring its web access to such things as blogs and other 'infidel' type sites. This is not new news. China has been doing it for ages, and unfortunately what I am worried about is the happy feeling that western technology companies get when going along with the big sale and subsequent ramifications of that sale - ie selling lots of routers and firewalling and monitoring software to these governments for big bucks (see the parallel with the book above yet?)

Rather than go on about it anymore, if you are interested I urge you to read the following links, they delve deeper into it. But more importantly, I would like each and every executive of these great companies to pick up that book on the dangers of selling technology to a government that is using it for not so good purposes...think about it...punchcards for the census were actually punchcards for identification of innocent Jews for termination. This is not a game of dollars, its a game of LIFE!

These links are to individual articles on the named sites.

Do not forget - Yahoo! handed over data on one of its Members to Chinese government. Executives should take a long hard look at the future of the world they are building with every sale they celebrate with champagne and ferraris and massive condos etc. etc. etc... Did Watson have a concious or just care about the size of his wallet -- read the book and discover for yourself.

$ and £ != FREEDOM

What am i good at?


Thats a question that i've asked myself many times in the past. What exactly do i offer in my chosen career? It should be easy as scientifically my contribution is easy to measure in terms of the knowledge and designs i create. But i find that i am able to see softer signs and predict the results of these early. right now i am wondering what next for me. I've picked up a book i first read in 1998. It is a helping guide for those who feel stuck in career and life. Ironically i had pencilled in on the side margin the self same question- what am i good at? have you figured out what you are good at? Is it what you thought it would be? Are you doing what you are good at? Tough questions wouldn't you say?


Once again...


..they listen to the num num's pleas..

Tory and Lib peers aim to ice ID cards until Blair's overthrow

Published Monday 16th January 2006 00:03 GMT

Tory and Liberal opposition peers will unite in the House of Lords today in an attempt to have the UK identity card scheme shelved pending an investigation of costs and benefits. Their amendment is intended, according to Tory Home Affairs spokesman David Davis to force the Government to produce proper costings of the scheme, but if passed it will be likely to kick ID cards into touch for the remainder of Tony Blair's term in Downing Street.

The Home Office's slipperiness on the true cost of the scheme has meanwhile come under renewed fire from the London School of Economics, which has published a status report on its identity cards project to coincide with the Lords debate. The latest report is introduced by LSE Director Howard Davies, who expresses irritation at the tone of ministers' comments on earlier LSE research, saying that these "have not encouraged the kind of rational debate that proposals of this far-reaching nature surely require." He notes that "the Government has not been very forthcoming in providing details," but says that the LSE team "stands by the cost estimates outlined in its first report", and warns that "any estimates made of the cost of the current proposals may... significantly underestimate the total cost of the scheme in the longer term."

The report itself says that the Government's refusal to disclose information on the ID scheme means that the LSE team is currently unable to publish a fully-detailed second edition of its study. But it describes Home Office claims that the LSE was substantially wrong as "scurrilous", and says its "cost estimates from June 2005 remain as they were.

"Dozens of questions about the scheme's architecture, goals, feasibility, stakeholder engagement and outcomes remain unanswered". says the report. "The secuirty of the scheme remains unstable, as are the technical arrangements for the proposal. The performance of biometric technology is increasingly questionable. We continue to contest the legality of the scheme. The financial arrangements for the proposals are almost entirely secret, raising important questions of constitutional significance."

Enough? Besides all that, the LSE is unconvinced by the Home Office's claims that a KPMG report (which the Home Office declines to make fully public) gives the scheme a clean bill of health, and argues that on the contrary, the KPMG report supports the LSE's estimates. And it's worth noting this opening of a socioeconomic 'second front':

"Since the publication of our June report we have been increasingly concerned that the market based approach adopted by the government will lead to endemic identity checking, resulting in an unregulated rolling tax on citizens. By instituting a monopoly on identity architecture and placing this on a commercial footing, the Home Office risks creating a 'free for all' in which organisations outside government make substantial profits from relentless and unnecessary identity checking."

And the Home Office, in the view of the LSE, has shown itself unfit for the management of a scheme of this magnitude (which we presume makes the Home Office the unacceptable face of repression and invasiveness). There is an "ongoing culture of secrecy endemic in the planning of the identity card proposals. The Home Office has conducted most of its work in a covert fashion, refusing to disclose information that would inform debate, and conducting negotiations in a closed environment." A project this size "should be managed by a department with the internal culture and experience commensurate with the scope and application of the project." The LSE suggests the Treasury, then publicly renounces its earlier support for identity cards:

"At the outset, the LSE Identity Project supported the implementation of an identity scheme in principle but expressed significant concerns regarding the Home Office proposal. In light of the numerous inconsistencies and conflicts that have emerged, serious unanswered concerns that remain, project dynamics that are dysfunctional and potential outcomes that may be harmful to the public interest we can now no longer support even the principle of an identity scheme owned and operated by the Home Office."

So it's no more Mr Nice London School of Economics then. Much more rollicking good reading in the full report. And to all you peers out there, amend early, amend often.



No id, no pogrom


The more i read into the book - ibm and the holocaust - the more i begin to fear the governments id card scheme. It appears the nazi government held census programmes that were used to feed the punch card machines from ibm. The data was then used to feed the evil pogroms. Our id card scheme will hold much the same information as the nazi ones and more. It could in theory be used to fuel eugenics or other such partisan program such as enforced deportation. I think the law lords must take a hard look at tony bush's plans for id cards lest we unleash an evil upon ourselves masked as a wolf in sheep clothing. And for gods sake dont outsource it to a company who is driven by profit alone. We'll all get screwed.




Icy has been accepted on a Nutirion course - I'm so chuffed for her.

She finally gets to do something that interests her - I expect to be bombarded with highly complex information over the dinner table in the near future (as well as finally shedding some extra pounds in weight ;-)

A happy TNN..

GP2X - anyone know?

What is the GP2X?

Save golden wonder


Bbc radio berkshire has a campaign to save the crisp maker Golden Wonder, after they announced bankruptcy. What will become of ringos, wheat crunchies and nik naks.


50 things to do with an iPod



Profit growth fuelled by shares

I see that uk cinema has posted year on year profit growth for 3 years running. That proves peer to peer sharing has helped movie studios and cinema companies in maximizing revenue. excellent.


A weekend gone...a week awaits.


The first test of 2006 - am I dreading the return to work tomorrow? Answer: NO!

For some bizarre reason, the week Icy and I had off over Xmas allowed us to sort the house out and to basically get some more of a routine going that has helped us avoid the distress of work so far. I'm more relaxed about the current project, but thats more to do with the fact that I am focusing on why I'm going to work. I've got to pay back the loans for the house - and the income I'm using to do that is from work. So I am treating work as just that - an income. And I'm trying to sort out what I really want - which is more time to be a house-holder and to become stable like my Dad is with regards to money/happiness.

It helps that I have some good reading material to ground me - as my last post suggested. I'm also closely following the political fall out this year - such as this article that I read this morning over breakfast that may interest the Democratic Goddess. I sincerely hope that Labour in the Uk realise the following - Tony Blair's insistence to hang on and not organise a decent credible and strong succession plan for the party will harm the party - for instance, even though I am not prone to far right thinking, unless I am confident that Brown is a decent choice, I'm going to vote for the dark-side - because I cannot trust a party that doesn't put the interest of the country first but instead puts the interest of a bush-lap-dog first.

Oh, don't know if I've mentioned our fireplace, but we got it working over Xmas. We had a log fire going last night whilst we watched The Descent. Icy got so scared she had to go upstairs to bed. Bless. The film is worth watching, though it does have a couple of jumpy points, you largely end up not caring who lives or dies. Sorry, but a bunch of adrenalin junkies fighting for their lives is not an empathetic moment.


Hippo crass C++


Aravis has put up a short list of the best books she's read in 2005. I've immediately put them on my wish list for me to buy later in the year. I've a thing for good books, and more of a thing for expanding my horizons. I don't believe I'm a rounded person, and so I am constantly trying to explore new arenas to understand - maybe its called - the human condition that afflicts us all.

My current reading has really started to rattle the quintessential core of who I am. Strong statement no? But whilst watching The Corporation, the mention of the book IBM and the Holocaust piqued my interest. It arrived last weekend, and I have begun reading it on my commute to work - with other suited folks who ride the greenbelt train with me to/from london. A couple of odd looks (am I the nazi perchance?) due to the cover and a single (so far) look of knowledgeable admiration has largely passed me by, as I am enraptured by what I am reading.


What on earth is thousands of years of evolution of mind and thought for, if it comes down to who is making the most money out of death? Appaling.

Anyway, the book has started to sow the seeds of doubt in my mind already. Would the company I work for, continue on a client contract, even if that contract would eventually lead to such death and destruction of innocent lives? Would you believe that's what the book says IBM did? Can you believe it? Why do it? Not because they were forced to, nope. Because they wanted the profit from it.

It reminds me of one of the best films I saw last year - Lord of War. Its basically about gunrunning. There's not much we can do in life about people who want to exploit situations for personal financial gain. Infact, don't we actuall applaud that behaviour? I believe we do, and I believe we all aspire to that wealth in some way.

Well I've been reading that book and feeling very ill. I'm pretty stern in life, but I have a real soft spot for certain things. And I just don't like the idea of a person who is heralded as a great businessman, who built an empire, actually being aware of what that empire contributed to. I no longer feel an affinity to great business leaders anymore. There was something in Time magazine recently about rich people trying to use their money for philanthropy - not because its what they really wanted the money for, but because they have everything else they wanted and need to try to show a good face. Now isn't that rich?

So am I a hippo, for working in a corporate arena, where there is a sense of inevitability that one day, much like Einstein and Oppennheimer, I will be sat there and too will have to quote from esoteric ancient texts, whilst the world marvels at our creation and we suddenly realise just what it is we have done? A system that would have saved a company millions of pounds a month, is easily repurposed to destroy lives. And why did it come about? Because a group of middle aged men and women, saw that the exercise would bring in a profit margin of 60% and that in turn would fuel a better lifestyle for themselves and their families.

Gosh, thats a bit dark isn't it?

So on a lighter note (flippety flip) - whats he gonna use his money for?


Happy New Year


Hope the blog street I live down has a wonderful and fantastic new year!

The year itself will be one of change I'm sure. Icy and I are getting used to this marriage malarky, and we're settling down in the house.

She threw me a lovely birthday party yesterday, with my friends and family coming over to spend the new year at our place (which was a huge surprise what with it being a busy time of the year - old and new!) It was fantastic considering it was her first main hostess event, and I'm as proud as heck of her for being such a great sport and making sure everyone had a great time and a full stomach!

Despite trying to get back into the habit of waking up around 6am, I'm still exhausted so will leave you all to your respective day-after-last-year recovery schedules.

Happy new year all, and expect more mobile posts from the train - I got a new toy for Xmas!

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Weekly musings from a confused mind. This blog, and all posts within it, are just ramblings. They are in no way affiliated with any past, current or future employers. Neither do they represent my deep felt views, or those of my friends or family. Really, its just a blog, which is a new thing, and has new dimensions. So please, dont take anything seriously. If you do, contact me via a comment, and I will get back to you to resolve the situation. Seriously, enjoy life, ignore this blog, and views within it.


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