Using userstyles.org

Since I don’t have full control over the look and feel of this blog, I had a look at userstyles.org. I have downloaded stylish and installed it into one of the copies of Firefox that I use. I then made some changes to my test site and installed a user style locally in Firefox, so it all worked quite well. I need to examine how to upload a style to the internet and allow a page to offer the download, as do some of the style pages in the gallery on their home page at userstyles.org.

The two use cases I was considering were

  1. offering you a different user experience while reading this blog,
  2. seeing if a user style, embedded in Chrome would make consuming the blog, and static site easier on an Android phone.

I have a feeling that since I control the HTML & CSS for my static site, user styles are not part of the answer and that taking full control of the blog so that I have control over the HTML & CSS is a better answer for the blog.

I  might however write a user style for the NWN Vault, whose visual style, I find old fashioned and cluttered. I was reminded of how bad it is  since I have used some of my xmas break to catch up on some playing time in Neverwinter Nights; I was using the vault to find some new games. …

You can prove innocence

justice #2I was reading an article in the Guardian, that was inspired some of the #wikileaks documents relating to the murder of Pat Finucane, a solicitor in Northern Ireland. He came from a Republican family and acted for Republican defendants in the Northern Irish courts.  This happened in 1972 and a lot of time has passed.  Lord Justice Stevens looked into the events surrounding the death due to the persistent allegations that UK security forces were involved in the murder and he said among several things in 2003,

“The failure to keep records or the existence of contradictory accounts can often be perceived as evidence of concealment or malpractice. It limits the opportunity to rebut serious allegations. The absence of accountability allows the acts or omissions of individuals to go undetected. The withholding of information impedes the prevention of crime and the arrest of suspects.”

This is a lesson we can all learn. It is possible to prove (judicial) innocence in all walks of life, if you prepare for it. …

Technorati

technorati logoI’ve not been to Technorati for a while, and the process of claiming one’s blog and site have changed a bit. I hope that now I am using WordPress that it’ll be easier; roller, my first blog technology at Sun was a pain, and snipsnap which I used from August ’09 until last July was impossible. (It’s one of the reasons I decided to adopt WordPress, more people develop for it).
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Hello World, again

I have decided, that despite progress towards the resurrection of my now defunct 2nd blog, a Snipsnap bliki,  that I can’t wait until then to start blogging again. So I have started this blog. BTW that blog was available a http://davelevy.dyndns.info and some the posts are available via Google Reader, [RSS/ATOM], …

BCS EGM 2010

I actually got the BCS EGM last Thursday. I think it important, as is IT professionalism in the UK, but I am not sure that last week was a beacon for the values most of us would hope for. The meeting’s atmosphere was a nexus of CPSA annual conference, “back to the future” and “The History Man”.  I tweeted that it reminded me of Camden Labour party which I was a member of during  the 80’s, but that’s deeply unfair. While local Labour Parties and conference have been known to over indulge in the procedural, it was much more reminiscent of CPSA. The Camden party that met around the Finchley Road area  in the early ‘90s was one of the most politically educated and broad based branch parties I have been to; almost certainly helped by the fact that no faction had a majority.

So first matter of debate, a 50 minute point of order on whether the President of the Association, Elizabeth Sparrow should chair the meeting. Her right to cast discretionary proxies was also challenged. This sort of stuff is deeply unattractive to the non-aligned, although I am not sure how many of them there were. I know that I went to listen to a discussion on the future of the BCS and IT professionalism in the UK and had not made up my mind on how to vote, although I was predisposed towards supporting the leadership and the transformation programme. I don’t need to know more about stitching up meetings, and I am not sure the BCS Leadership do either.

Now, given that the first motion was a no-confidence motion in the Board of Trustees, I think it questionable that since the President is a member of Board that she should have chaired the meeting, or certainly the debate on that motion however the rules make it clear that if present the President shall chair the meeting, and so she did.

Having been deeply impressed by the opening scene from the TV series of Malcolm Bradbury’s “The History Man”, I have a theory that the academics present from their organisations and trade unions bring a ready and handy knowledge of proceduralism to the table, one that (some of) the business people find themselves lost in. Everyone needs to remember that there is a debate around ideas of substance, and that rule No. 1 is that,

Those ideas with membership support will win in the end

So what was the debate about? I am still not sure. It seems that it boils down to two things,

The transformation programme, which is about establishing the BCS, or the “BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT” as the premier guardian for IT professionalism in the UK, and maybe elsewhere needs greater financial transparency than it has today, although the first speaker, Ken Olisa, against the requisitioned motions presented a long list of financial reports made to the Board of Trustees. I think some people’s expectations of where we can go are unreal. We will never have the right to determine who can practice in IT, and I question whether its right that lawyers and doctors have this privilege. I also think it important that professionalism is defined in an accountable way; it’s not good enough to allow adequacy and standards to be defined by employers through their hiring policies.

The transformation programme does not need to suppress volunteerism within the society.

This is a complaint made by many of the speakers in favour of the motions of no-confidence. (Is it true that the Leadership have replaced the bottom up doarchy based committee of specialist group leaders with an appointed Board with the powers to manage the membership of the specialist group leaders.) This argument is partly about money as well, as the BCS leadership is accused of insufficient investment in the specialist groups.

One speaker suggested that it’s not possible to do both, and the unspoken question is whether its possible to build a member organization that defines and encourages professionalism in today’s world without selling out in conflict of interests between individual practitioners, their employers and the public interest.

Another thing all members need to consider, is the huge numbers of thought leading computer and software engineers and IT practitioners who find the whole professionalism debate irrelevant and are members of no organisation, preferring corporate honourifics or second degrees as their badges of quality.

Anyway at the end of the debate, Gerry Fisher, a past president moved a 6 month adjournment, to allow a dialogue to occur, a dialogue with a no-confidence motion on the table. This was almost quite clever. It is a procedural motion, so the proxies can’t be used. Any dialogue would take place with the threat of no confidence in the Board of Trustees on the table. This might have passed if it had been voted on. I hadn’t expected to hear Citrine quoted at a BCS EGM. Unfortunately for the dissidents, unlike Parliament and the old Labour Party Conference, General Meetings are not sovereign. The BCS meetings like most civic society meetings must advertise their agenda to the membership, so they can mandate representatives, cast their proxy votes or decide to attend. The meetings can then only debate and vote the published agenda.  Sovereign meetings have a duty to obey the law which is why most organizations have protections built in to ensure that ultra-vires actions aren’t taken. In the case of the BCS, only the meeting’s presiding officer can adjourn the meeting, and since she choose not to, the meeting tried to proceed to a vote. This also provoked some points of order, specifically about the proxy form’s quick vote process. It was far easier to mark the ballot paper with an I agree with the leadership vote than to support the meeting requistioner’s motions. Those who find this offensive to their democratic values need to get out a bit more. Although while researching links for this article I came across a reference to Kate Losinka, a one time President of the CPSA in the 1980s trying to prohibit branch officer’s recommending of votes, which just goes to show how long this sort of shit has being going on.  This might be seen as a second attempt to rule the proxies out of order, but this was stamped on.

The votes in the meeting were finally cast and collected, and the Electoral Reform Society were sent away to count the votes. These have been published at the BCS page.

The Special Resolution, to increase the threshold at which EGMs can be convened was withdrawn after a series of anti-speeches including one that listed the thresholds of what might be considered peer organisations who all have similar EGM requisition thresholds, currently 50 members. I suggested that the threshold wasn’t the problem, there were many more problems and that any rule changes on EGMs needed to take on board electronic signatures and clearer meeting standing orders and have a clearer procedural resolution process. A member from the floor asked the top table to withdraw the motion, and they agreed (It might have been interesting to see if the proxies would have stayed loyal to the leadership on this issue, but I think a chance for all to rethink is a better one for the Society and the profession.)  I’d like to think I helped, but I think the killer speech was the list of other organisations and their rules.

One of the things I found interesting is just how hard it is to find links for the 70s/80s references I made in the first part of this article. Here’s what I got in the end;

  • From Humble Petiton to Militant Action, a history of the CPSA and its fractious internal politics. It doesn’t mention me.
  • The site of PFLCPSA, the CPSA’s version of private eye. This one does.
  • IMDB’s “The History Man”
  • Citrine’s ABC of Chairmanship, from Amazon, published by the Fabian Society , this is a 1982 imprint, first published in 1952.

  …

My snipsnap bliki fails

I originally announced a new blog on this page a while ago, but set it up to redirect to my bliki. The host system, my Cobalt Qube died yesterday and I had also come to the conclusion that there are significant difficulties with blogging using snipsnap,  …

Follow the sun, the moon, the action and money

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a webinar with Cloudsoft, a suggested partner for Citihub in order to evaluate their offering and market positioning. They are seeking to solve the application mobility problem in Cloud Computing and have named their product solution Monterey. I had read their white paper, which they publish on their web site, via a resources page, which you need to login to.

They have a the idea that using their middleware, an infrastructure manager can on a policy basis optimise the deployment of an application for performance, cost, data, or liquidity, which they summarise as

Follow the sun, follow the moon, follow the action and follow the money

In order to offer this scale of applications mobility, they can and do offer wide area mobility; their design goal is clearly intercontinental. They position their product as middleware, although they have a platform in California, which they also describe as a reference architecture.

Their sales entry point is the applications developers. To use Monterey, you must have source code engineering rights and capability, and it works best with an application with a highly partitioned architecture, and possibly limited state. They have a Java API and the application must be architected to exist as multi-nodes, although it’s possible that a multi-node set of 1 might work . The Java IDE used is Eclipse. They have a C language pragma, and others such as C# are planned. Monterey is a truly distributed architecture, so it consumes cycles and memory on all potential application hosts. The partitioned architecture minimises the need for both shared disk and bandwidth consumption. It sees the potential hosts as either hypervisor VMs, such as Xen & VMware or bare metal resources, although since the mobile applications are java objects, there needs to by a JVM; they move the application, not the JVM, nor the OS instance nor the VM.

Their EZ Brokerage demo is awesome, they showed the effect of a follow the action and follow the sun policy rules and demonstrated their interface. I asked them for a Video so others can share its awesomeness.

The reference architecture uses Citrix Xensource, Intel and SuperMicro. They are also using Arista Networks and strongly recommend the use of 10GE network and layer 7 switching, although they and their partner switch vendors, Solarflare seek to position themselves as offering something better and cleverer. It’s another example of the re-coming of the conflated system and switch. If varying the components in the platform architecture, then one will need to ensure that it meets the requirements, especially the required network functionality and speed. One of the differentiators that Cloudsoft have is their appetite and success in selling to the financial services industry’s low latency solutions builders.

I am unclear as to how many of their customers use Monterey to implement co-tenancy.

I think it is a brilliant niche positioning. It’s an important problem to solve, they’re focusing on solving it well, and so meet one of Tim Bray’s Laws, “the big winners solve one problem well”. …

Free Wifi in London

Boris Johnson has promised to wifi enable London , speaking at Google Zeitgeist and proposes using lampposts and bus stops.

Fantastic! Some correspondents are suggesting there might be some DE Act constraints, but we’ll see.

The article above also links to this video,

demonstrating the undoubted subtlety of Boris, his mastery of rules and laws and his approach to international relations.

ooOOOoo

Slightly amended in 2013, certaintly there was no London wide WIFI by the Olympics last year, and little sign of any progress. DFL 12 Aug 2013 …