Saturday, 24 November 2007

Alien cow abduction

"Just another reason to tighten regulations regarding illegal aliens."

Alien cow abduction Via: John Cow

Political Opinion

Just an observation here, but I subscribe to a feed at Digg of the category called Political Opinion. Now, that doesn't say Left-Wing Political Opinion, it just says Political Opinion and, whist I realize that there can be and probably is always some bias in what Digg users are likely to Digg, I don't think that can really account for the fact that it does all tend to lean to the left.

This, I think, so perfectly demonstrates the sheer unwarranted and arrogant dogmatism of right thinkers. They would think they have undisputable facts, not opinions, wouldn't they? They have no use for this tag! :)

Friday, 23 November 2007

Mistake or malice?

Wednesday, I got yet another spam email message from the Green Party's "paid up members' list". How do I know what the list is? Because their Jim Killock said so, when he responded to a previous post. I'd know if I was a paid up member of any organization, or not. And I'm not. Obviously.

Their lists right now operate under Unconfirmed Opt-In, which is Spam. See: Mailing Lists -vs- Spam Lists. Both Opt in e-mail and Confirmed Opt-In Subscription Process are useful topics to study in this regard too.

Killock acknowledged that some sort of error had been made, but failed entirely to see the implications: that the error resulted in them breaking the law, as he also failed to do anything to fix it or remove my address from their lists. Both those actions / realizations are obligatory.

In that post, you will remember that I explained how I started getting messages "coincidentally" from that "members" list, shortly after I had attempted to unsubscribe myself from their Birmingham list.

Whilst I didn't attempt to unsubscribe again (for that very reason) and despite the pending complaint sent to the Information Commissioner's Office, yesterday, I wrote to the Green Party office once more to point out the error in their ways and to request immediate removal from their lists.

I sent my email at 11:12 a.m. and, so far, have received no response.

However, by "yet another amazing coincidence", at 1:05 p.m. Thursday, I got a welcome message to YET ANOTHER Green Party mailing list - this time, the list for the West Midlands. And, just a few hours later, I got another spam email sent to me, via this latest list. Incredible, no?

How is it that every time I contact them, I end up on another list?

Maybe it's possible that someone, who has an email address very similar to mine, in the West Midlands, is a paid up member of the Green Party.

Maybe that member keeps complaining that they do not receive emails and, as a result, the erroneous (my) email address, therefore, keeps being added to yet another list in some haphazard attempt to "get through".

Maybe that member gave the wrong (my) email address and it keeps being copied again without question? I'm just guessing, trying to come up with some reasonable explanation, because the other one is that someone deliberately adds my address for mischievous or more sinister reasons.

Even if those might only have been "innocent" mistakes, they are being compounded through ignorance and complete failure - now wilful, since I did point it out earlier - to investigate or attend to the details.

If, however, as they should, the Green Party had list management systems in place that required confirmation from the individual email address owner BEFORE any email address could be added to the list, preventing such errors from happening and meaning messages could only be sent to confirmed recipients, they would not keep sending me messages illegally that I did not ask for and did not give my prior consent for.

Their system, as it stands, actually allows them to break the law.

That alone is inexcusable and there stoppeth the buck.

It's the Green Party's responsibility to ensure that their systems work within the law and, there's no choice or "room for error" in that requirement as ignorantia juris non excusat (ignorance of the law does not excuse.)

It doesn't matter that the system in question is a standard system made available free by their web host. Just because it's there, does not mean you have to use it, or even that it is suitable for any particular purpose. As far as I can see, it isn't fit for any today, because it does not appear to offer the possibility to require "Confirmed Opt-in" or "Verified Opt-in".

In the USA, under the CAN-SPAM act, its use might not be automatically illegal, depending on a wide variety of circumstances and, always providing that no UK and European subscribers get on your lists.

That same system, however, technically, does not provide a means to comply with the requirements of the rules of the relevant EU Directive and current UK law. It is not even suitable for mere internal communications in Britain and Europe, when "innocent" members of the public can - and, obviously DO - end up on those lists, "in error."

I've pretty much spelt out what's required here, which is more than they deserve as I doubt there are many people who get repeatedly spammed, "kind enough" to provide free consulting to the spammer.

Mailman is not suitable. The entire system needs to be changed and, right now, before the election rush and my nervous breakdown might be a good time.

Nothing I do seems to get me off their lists and, as I've said, every time I try, I just end up on another one and get yet more messages.

The only alternative I appear to have, if they persist in ignoring this problem and failing, not only to remove my email address from their lists immediately, but also to fix the system so that it cannot be added back again in the future, would be to abandon the affected email address. [1]

That would mean the loss of all my prior email correspondence - 1,475 MB of it - not to mention changing my address in associated accounts.

That would cost me dearly in terms of lost time (and time is money).

Dealing with the spam and the complaint is already doing so, but if I must, I'll report this to every competent authority, spam block and media outlet to ensure that a) I do not suffer greater loss and b) other UK citizens do not suffer personal loss due to their incompetence, because, whilst it is a nuisance to me personally, the implications are far greater:

There's a huge difference between not knowing how to legally run an email list to promote a political party and, ensuring the security of sensitive, personal data and banking details at the Revenue, but in my opinion, failing to even understand the first, does indicate that the latter might be a bit of a challenge that could easily lead to grave mistakes.

These days, when citizens have to file tax returns or other information online and where all public records are kept electronically, understanding technology fully and properly has become essential for all politicians of all flavours.

They simply cannot serve the public without doing so.

And I do mean each and every one of them, because if they don't know what's required, by law and how to achieve it, technically, you can't even be sure that those they delegate tasks to will carry them out correctly.

And, I'll reiterate that I base my opinions on my experience as as a former accountant whose speciality was in setting up computerized systems and controls. The Green Party's, currently, are not just woefully inadequate, they appear to be completely undetectable. OK, so that may not be any worse than anyone else's, but that's definitely no excuse either!

[1] In the end, I did have to abandon the email address, with all of the costs and inconveniences that implied to myself.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

UK's fundamental techno ignorance

Excellent spoof (via: Anorak) and, hilariously funny, but a little too close to the "truth" for the laughter to last long.

Whilst I don't know what the odds / chances are, the fact is that there is some risk that these disks will still end up in the wrong hands.

And, even if the physical disks were found safe, tell me how you guarantee that they have not already been copied and passed along to the criminals?

The UK Govt. is claiming that any losses in case of fraud will be covered, but it's being reported that the banks are saying they won't cover them.

Logic says that the banks couldn't afford to cover the sort of losses that could result from this, if you are in any doubts over whom to believe. Has the Government enough money to cover all of the banks' losses if several million frauds of unknown value were carried out? Not likely, is it?

But, while the Government and the media are skirting round that issue with pansy wording, such as "unusual activity" to indicate "downright theft" from your bank account, they are also leaving totally unsaid, any advice on how to protect your children from the unthinkable.

Perhaps the chance is very small, but it is, nevertheless, possible for kidnappers or pedophiles to be able to find out from those databases; how old your kid is, where you live, what Mummy and Daddy are called - certainly more than enough to appear to not be a stranger.

Unfortunately, I'm not a criminal or a criminal psychologist, so I can't give you specific "creative ideas", but I have capacity of thought enough to know that those records could be put to a lot more uses than "mere" ID theft.

That makes the database disks highly valuable, they have now been "extensively advertised" in the media, which might mean that the crooks are looking harder than the Government, police and the tax authorities together right now. The sad fact, sarcasm aside, is that criminals probably pay better and have better resources available to do so too.

Some comments I've read today (generally those emanating from the reactionary right) are calling for a vote of no confidence in the current UK Government over this latest episode of gross ignorance and incompetence. It is on a scale and magnitude that could not even be imagined in the most surreal and outlandish science fiction story.

Even as left-leaning voter, as a former accountant whose speciality was in setting up computerized systems and controls, my own opinion is that there is no other valid response, because those in charge are clearly not fit to be there. What they do, what they say and the laughably wrong words they use to say it, all show that they do not understand what they need to understand to do the job properly. Not even to delegate.

I suppose that is only my opinion, but somewhat qualified, I think.

The junior breaking the rules story does not add up either.

Rules are "bound" to be ignored or broken (either by malice or mistake) and no system would ever be based upon rules alone. Proper controls that protect everyone should be "idiot proof" and, should have made it impossible for a junior to have that level of access or do that much damage.

If those proper controls were in place, then someone very high up knowingly gave the junior access or is otherwise making a scapegoat of them.

If the proper controls weren't in place, then someone high up is responsible for ignorance / omission, worthy of hanging.

All other reports have to be spin. And all the explanations and lists of what happened when merely complicate matters and confuse.

But are any of the other contenders any better, I wonder?

It was precisely because their total disregard for and / or ignorance of how technology works - that could so easily lead to the exact same type of blunders as this one - that I was not prepared to overlook the spam I am getting from the Green Party. The spam itself is not so much of a problem (well, enough, as dealing with this nuisance is now severely affecting my work and, one assumes, that the quantity may likely increase over the next few months as they head towards an election ...), but what it reveals about their inabilities and what dangers that exposes.

What is needed is a shake up - fully independent - from the top down and it means hiring the right staff, of the right caliber, at the right salary.

That doesn't seem very likely in the UK of today, does it?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Green misconceptions

You thought that green as in Green Party alluded to something to do with ecology and the environment, didn't you?

Well, I'm here to tell you that the reality points more to it meaning something like the "Wet Behind the Ears Party" or even the "Totally Incompetent Party".

No doubt the neocon capitalist mainstream is perfectly happy with this situation, but right now they are making George Bush look smart!

Yeah right, how ferking bad do you have to be to do that?

Earlier, I pointed out that the Green Party are sending me spam.

Well, despite responding to my post and commenting thereon, they either don't or can't read, because after me saying that an apology is not enough, they offer a feeble and pathetic apology. They already appeared to know that they are sending messages to people who don't want them, yet they appear to be comatose to the implications of this, which is why I am so angry (apart from the fact that environmental issues are SO important, but nothing is going to get done about them while incompetents like this are involved, which is potentially criminal for the planet).

They even admit that they have added the wrong person to their list.

What would you do if you knew you were thus spamming someone?

Top marks if you would immediately remove that person from your lists.

No marks at all if - like the Green Party - you continue to send that wrong person, not one, but TWO further pieces of unwanted spam.

My complaint and copies of all correspondence was sent to the Information Commissioner's Office today. (Who never, ever replied, by the way.)

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