On to the traditional birthday schedule, breakfast at the Organic Cafe, which seems to have changed ownership and then onto the cinema for the final instalment of “The Hobbit” where the late entry of Beorn was like helicopter born Spetsnaz. Sadly for fans of giant bears, Jackson has re-written Beorn’s role in the Battle, unfortunately reducing it. …



The gall of Julian Huppert and the LibDems beggars belief. Computer Weekly report that he is campaigning for a Digital Bill of Rights to be included in the LibDem manifesto.  I covered his intervention at OrgCon14 earlier this year. The LibDems have a serious problem in that they made a number of promises which they have broken, most obviously on tuition fees, but others have problems with some of the government reforms on welfare, the bedrom tax, and judicial administration, the introduction of secret courts for cases involving intelligence material. In the policy area of surveillance and digital politics, the LibDems are not as strong as they might like. The computer weekly article states that Huppert is looking to mandate encryption and ban “revenge porn”.  …

CND again?

Interesting how times have changed but the longevity of the debate about retaining strategic nuclear weapons is resurfacing.  This is driven by two things, the first is the rise of two political parties that seriously oppose the UK’s ownership of these weapons. The Green Party and SNP both have manifesto commitments based on their supporters views that we should not retain these weapons.

The proposal is now about replacement and times change. I remember going to school on the days they tested the air raid sirens, I remember helping my Dad undertake his Civil Defence training, we still had a Civil Defence air raid reaction organisation of volunteers, I tell these stories to remind myself of the reality of a nuclear threat that the Cold War with the Soviet Union posed.

Strategic weapons are not the only nuclear weapons possessed by the British armed forces; the nuclear depth charges were removed from the surface vessels that carried them on their way to the Falklands in 1982. This illustrates the inflexible nature of their use and having nukes didn’t help us in negotiating any agreement over Hong Kong. …


There was a story earlier in the week about the IT industry organising to influence the quality of IT teaching in the UK, or is it England now. According to the BBC, they argue that teaching in schools focuses too much towards using office software, by which we all mean Microsoft Office. My experience as an observer, and parent of students is that the syllabus for our brightest and most committed IT students is exclusively about using Microsoft Office products. Frankly this bores the brighter students. This boredom was compounded at the turn of the century by the decision taken by many schools to teach the GNVQ syllabus, and not the GCSE National Curriculum. This decision was taken because good GNVQs scored more highly than the GCSE in the school league tables and it could be taught with the same time commitment.

Let me assure you that the GNVQ IT syllabus was boring, requiring a very narrow rote based skill set demonstrating the ability to write a letter, create a single table spreadsheet, create a powerpoint slide show and use a forms package. There is no HTML, no SQL, no scripting, no programming and very little hardware, I am not aware that they even opened up a computer to examine the parts or to learn about what are now called user installations. They didn’t even teach anything useful like how to configure an internet gateway.

Today I go to seminars where senior software development managers are crying out with frustration that Universities aren’t turning out skilled programmers. Europe and the UK’s system software business is tiny, there’s only one European CPU and no European computer manufactures. All Europe’s Computer Scientists work for US companies.

So at last, even some of the campaigners for the current curriculum recognise that its 20 years too old. It needs to change to encourage our best to work in IT and Computer Science.


The UK’s early specialisation makes this an issue of crucial importance. People that fail or give up at GCSE will be most unlikely to study such a subject at either “A” level or University.

This was written in 2014 as far as I can tell, got lost and then found, I posted it in May 2017 and backdated it to this post date. …