Category: current affairs

What’s going on in the world?

Divided Kingdom – the Referendum

1 Comment
Buckingham Embroidery

The referendum is over; I’m so very disappointed right now. The United Kingdom, collectively, has decided in its referendum; that a fraction over half the country would prefer to leave the EU, rather than stay. Most people, including the leave campaigners, seem fairly taken aback by this, some of them going as far as to say if they knew it would really happen, they’d have changed their mind. The less said about such protest voters the better.

Buckingham Embroidery

I have never felt less British; indeed, I woke today feeling that the term ‘United Kingdom’ meant nothing to me anymore, those last few strings emotively tying me to that term have been cut. I feel profoundly sad that the remain campaign focused so much on the negative things, and failed to sell the vision of a prosperous, cultural, united Europe. The Europe of people and places and diversity, where we felt proud to be European in that way and felt like we were part of something bigger. I feel that those who have already benefited from the best parts of the EU, as well as their lifetime of free education, strong pensions, have now decided that because too many new people seem to be arriving they want a new generation to be pulled away; a generation that overwhelmingly fell on remain when they voted.

Problems and promises

On the face of it, it exposes a series of problems that have long festered in the subtle corners of the UK populace. A feeling of superiority over the rest of the EU being the chief amongst them, but also of deep disconnects between the various factions of society. But here’s the thing – leaving the EU is not going to solve any of those things, how could it?

The leave campaign meanwhile are already equivocating on their grandiose policies of hundreds of millions for the NHS, and immigration controlled. No no, they aren’t really sure about that, maybe it was just a lie. Instead, here’s what I suspect we will get:

  • More austerity
  • Snooper’s Charters
  • Confusion and disruption at the least, removal at the worst, of many of the funding streams provided by Europe – particularly for charity and voluntary sector
  • (Confirmed already!) disruption of the human rights act and similar laws
  • Serious questions over the function of the Good Friday Agreement
  • Resentment from our European neighbours

The issues facing the UK around immigration, economies and such are not UK problems; they are global, and the idea we can turtle up and hide until it all blows over is crazy. Globalisation is not reversing. But now its time for leave to put their money where their mouth is; time to show us all – and no, this isn’t the time for us all to “join together and get on with it.”. Please understand how patronising that sounds, and how inconsiderate. You were the ones that wanted to leave, its you that needs to make that first step

First referendum of many?

I said earlier I have never felt less British. I feel now a Scottish referendum is due, and potentially a border poll. I would support both, and I’d vote for a united Ireland at this stage if they could sort their health system out. I’d quite fancy the idea of a United Celtic Coalition of Ireland and Scotland, but its probably unlikely, sadly. So I don’t know, I don’t know if the breakup of the UK is now inevitable – but it would be quite ironic if it was, given the DUP position on the matter, no?

To be angry for a minute – I feel like this is a travesty, and those of you who voted for this, I think you will be very very wrong.

Windows 10 – Upgrading an old laptop

No Comments

So I took an old laptop I used at university – about 5 or 6 years old but a good model in it’s day, a Dell Latitude E5510 – and decided to use it as a quick ‘test’ run of the Windows 10 upgrade since it hasn’t anything too important and my main PC is being stubborn over actually offering the update.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well really. Thought I’d write up a quick post about a 0xC000000F blue screen error that ended up happening.

I’m about to do a particular repair so will see if it works, but I’ve surmised that the issue is that the default Dell partition table looks like this:

– DellUtility (~40 MB)
– RECOVERY (~8 GB) (Marked as boot)
– OS (~130 GB)

What seems to have occurred is that the actual install proceeded reasonably well, I can see the signs of it being completed such as the presence of the “Windows.old” folder etc. However, what Windows 10 decided to do to facilitate the install is that it saw the boot partition and hijacked its boot to use as its boot sequence.

For some unknown reason, in so doing, it increased the “RECOVERY” partition size by 1 sector – encroaching into the “OS” partition and wrecking its MBR and boot sector. This left many tools, including Windows 10, unable to ascertain the structure of the drive as NTFS. Chkdsk understands the corruption but does not resolve the partition table overlap.

I’m going to manually adjust the recovery partition down and try to repair the MBR from its backup. Let’s see how that goes.

Microsoft – partition management: 0 out of 10 for wrecking my MBR!

Ashers and Bad Advice

No Comments

I was going to do a longer post about the cake thing but I think for now I’ll summarise with a few choice things I’ve observed today.

I never held any particular ill will towards the Ashers owners but strongly disagreed with their position. Today, looking over the whole thing, I was stuck by a scenario in which I could actually feel a little sorry for them.

Not, I’ll say, because of their stance on that fateful day. No, because when you see them in a picture with Edwin Poots on one side (preaching about wasting taxpayers money with a frivolous court case, the man has a nerve) and Paul Givan on the other, moping about how the case should never have reached the court, it’s funny.

Funny that mediation was offered to Ashers multiple times throughout the process. And was declined. Something Paul seems to have missed. Or wilfully neglected, who knows. One has to wonder, if free of the ‘advice’ of the DUP and Christian Institute influence, would Ashers have elected instead to mediate? Did they really want all this press, to be under a microscope for their views, to be held up by the right-wing as pariahs?

Perhaps they did. Or, just maybe, they took some really bad advice, and allowed people with too many vested interests get their hands on it. If the latter, I suspect they’ve learned their lesson.

For now, I’ll save you all my Buzzfeed-style rundown of the “worst comparison based arguments to the cake saga ever”, but leave you with this evening’s fruity cake.


LGB&T lives are not a fashion show

No Comments
Bruno and O.J.

I don’t think I’ve seen a greater misunderstanding of their own community in recent times than the headline-making story of how gay fashion designer icons Dolce and Gabbana have decided that the only valid families are traditional ones with a mother and father, and how they think that so-called ‘synthetic’ children of all kinds are simply ‘fashion accessories’.

Pride 2013: Parade
Some LGB&T fashion on show at Belfast Pride, 2013. Not a single child-as-fashion-accessory in sight!

I’ve said it already to friends, but perhaps they’ve spent so long dealing solely with fashion that they’ve become blinkered; they are unable to see anything beyond in life. In fact, they’re clearly disconnected from the workings of the everyday gay, and demeaning the very existence of many children around the world born via many different methods.

I know they are talking about more cases than just those affecting us LGB&T people, but I would put it to them and everyone else – no LGB&T person makes the move to start a family lightly. This isn’t a scene in the movie “Bruno”.

Bruno and O.J. in a fashion shoot
Bruno and O.J. in a fashion shoot – Not real life

No – real LGB&T people in fact have to think very carefully about the decision to start a family. They have to consider enormous expense to perform surrogacy, or brave a discriminating adoption system. They cannot adopt their partner’s children in many countries. More importantly than even those are that they have to deal with raising children in a hostile society, and how societal prejudice will impact on their children. It sucks.

Regardless of our sexuality or gender, genetics, instinct and our entire society and culture is deeply ingrained in the idea of raising and being part of a family. I think there belies an attitude amongst some that us LGB&T people are exempt from these influences, that we just ‘ignore’ or have had these switched off because of who we are. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true if considered for more than a passing moment. So, no, Dolce. Absolutely not, Gabbana. There’s just aren’t LGB or T people out there using children as fashion accessories, or as fads and trends. Just like everyone else, there are complex societal reasons for the desire to start a family and raise children.

Perhaps you’re not as clued into the fashion world as you think; because fashion isn’t one of them.

‘Right to be Forgotten’ EU ruling

No Comments
This week, an EU court ruled against Google and made a judgement that it and other search engine providers must accept requests by a person to remove links, specifically if that link is to data that “becomes outdated or inaccurate, even if that information was accurate when it was first published”.

Obviously, some are calling this a huge victory for individual rights, whilst others are saying it amounts to censorship akin to Chinese filtered search results. And, both are right.

Let’s deal with the individual rights here – it means that if someone published information on you, say, being involved in a company that becomes unpopular due to a big legal case, and you subsequently leave the company, you can ask for the information about you to be removed as it is no longer accurate; you don’t work there any more. This can prevent a now inaccurate piece of information being used against you, say, in future job applications. The larger question is not in the accuracy test of the information, but in the ‘outdated’ bit. When does information become outdated? Isn’t history timeless in itself?

Privacy advocates insist this stops organisations and companies abusing customer data, and hands back power to the individual. But on the censorship angle, Google and co. have a point – do we get to have information removed from listings just because we don’t like what it says about us?

There are lots of angles here – some say that if you commit a crime and that is public record, you shouldn’t be able to have this information removed from listings in results for your name. Equally though, part of our justice system is that you serve your time and your conviction is spent, it should no longer count against you. Some say that this argument isn’t even relevant as the law doesn’t apply to these circumstances. It’s an interesting one particularly because I don’t think society has quite cracked the ‘forgiveness’ side of crime yet.

I think part of the problem is, no-one really understands what data this DOES apply to. The right of citizens to control their own data seems relevant to me only when it is data they have personally created. You should not, for example, be able to request removal of an article that embarrasses you, simply because it uses your name. This would be a massive censorship problem – for obvious reasons. But, if it’s data you personally created, shouldn’t you be in control of it already, such that removing it from listings isn’t required?

This uncertainty is all because it isn’t being made apparent who owns what data. Do you ‘own’ a tweet once you send it? Does Twitter? Who ‘owns’ a Facebook status update? If you ‘own’ them, then delete them, and issue takedown orders on those reproducing your work without permission. If you don’t own them, citizens should be made aware that when they submit these statuses, they surrender all ownership of them.

And that’s the crux of it for me – it’s about making sure that the customer data is safe at the end point, not the search engine. Compel the Facebooks and Zyngas and forums and YouTubes to stop selling data so freely, and stop caching old customer data after it has been deleted by the user. Force Google to remove only ‘cached snapshot’ pages on request, and tell citizens their issue is otherwise with the endpoint, which must ensure it’s information is up to date (otherwise libel?). Stop the sites that chronicle tweets from disrespecting tweet deletions, for example. A whole raft of proper measures can be taken to allow citizens the power to control their own ‘right to be forgotten’, because data they actually created is theirs. That, ultimately, makes much more sense that simply hiding results from listings, whilst not removing the data from the Internet.

TL:DR – you don’t have a right to remove pages just because they mention your name, or because you did or said something stupid, regardless of how outdated it is. You do have a right that data you created can be destroyed by you (you own it), and those not disrespecting that deletion should be compelled to do so (copyright?).

I don’t think the judgement will stand too long in its current form.

– Zuki

Share if you liked this post!