Trusting the use of Identities

Not long ago I was on a night out with some work friends. As is customary on these nights out, we ended up at a casino. Don't get me wrong, I aren't a hardened gambler. I only go to eat the free sandwiches and spend my £20 spending money 🙂

However, back to the story. This particular casino was not one that I had been to before and as a result I wasn't a member. "No problem" I was told by the lady behind the counter. Your friend who is a member can sign you in as a guest. I was asked if I wanted to join and politely (and drunkenly) declined. "We need some identification. Can I have your driving licence?" said the lady. Dutifully I handed it over expecting her to have a quick glance and pass it back.

However, instead of the courteous check, off she trotted to the back room with my licence. A few minutes later, back she came and gave me my licence back with absolutely no explanation of where she had been. Upon asking her, I was told that she had taken a scan of my licence and would retain it on record.

In my slightly inebriated state I thought nothing of it. However, the next day, after the hangover had subsided, this started to bother me.

1) How do I know what they are going to do with that?

2) How long are they going to retain my information?

3) Who within their organisation has access to that information?

Since my licence is a trusted proof of identity, it worries me that it is kept on file at some casino. In the UK we have the Data Protection Act 1998 which protects against misuse of personal data but how do I know that this is adhered to within this casino.

At one time or another I think we have all been guilty of handing over our personal information without too much regard as to what the person requesting it is going to do with it. In that one transaction alone, I broke at least the first 3 laws of Kim Cameron's 7 laws of Identity!!

A Whole New Mind….really does open your mind

A couple of weeks ago, one of my work colleagues told me about a book he was reading called A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. Having just finished "Digital Identity" and fancying a change from the usual technical books that I usually engross myself in, I thought it sounded worthwhile giving it a try.

Having finished it in a few days, it is one of those books that I couldn't put down. The book examines how our brains work today and the way that we survive today. It then goes on to discuss how we must change the way that we think in order to survive in what Pink calls the "Conceptual Age".

This book is very informative and gives a number of exercises that can be done to help stimulate the correct parts of the brain.

Being a typical 'techie' I found this book a refreshing change from my normal library.

VERDICT: Well worth a read!

A Whole New Mind….really does open your mind

A couple of weeks ago, one of my work colleagues told me about a book he was reading called A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. Having just finished "Digital Identity" and fancying a change from the usual technical books that I usually engross myself in, I thought it sounded worthwhile giving it a try.

Having finished it in a few days, it is one of those books that I couldn't put down. The book examines how our brains work today and the way that we survive today. It then goes on to discuss how we must change the way that we think in order to survive in what Pink calls the "Conceptual Age".

This book is very informative and gives a number of exercises that can be done to help stimulate the correct parts of the brain.

Being a typical 'techie' I found this book a refreshing change from my normal library.

VERDICT: Well worth a read!

Police Powers in the UK to tackle uninsured drivers

For some time I have been one of these people who loves to watch fly-on-the-wall documentaries, especially any of the ones featuring the 3 blue light services (police,ambulance and fire). Usually, the police ones follow the same mould every week.

  • Police attend an incident
  • There is a bit of a tussle
  • The alleged criminal is arrested
  • They are taken down the nick and charged
  • The summary at the end of the programme explains the sentences of each of the convicted parties.

The real frustration with the English legal system is that in most cases, all the offenders seem to be let off with community service, or suspended sentences or a £20 fine. Based on all the effort the police had to go to in order to get the conviction hardly seems worth it.

However, in one of the recent programmes about traffic cops, it emerged that the police now have new powers when dealing with drivers who do not have a legal right to drive (no license, no insurance etc etc). The powers basically mean that the police can have the offenders car towed away and crushed there and then. It was great to see the look of shock and horror on the faces of these offenders who were expecting a 7 day wonder or a quick telling off when in reality they were about to lose their car. What was also quite funny was so of the pathetic excuses that they were coming out with for trying to justify the fact they were driving the car in the first place.

I think that this kind of direct police action is great and will hopefully convince some of these offenders that the law abiding citizen who pays their tax, insurance etc on their car will no longer be willing to foot the bill for the criminals lack of respect for the law and society in general. 

I hope this kind of direct action can be extended to other areas of policing where applicable…….

Google Toys

I have spent a bit of time recently playing with Google Earth, mainly due to the fact that high resolution images have been uploaded near my home. I find it amazing the level of detail that you can see, even down to people in the street. I was even more impressed with terrain and buildings that you can see in major US cities.

I also see that Google has released SketchUp which allows you to VERY easily create buildings. The idea is that you then upload them to Google Earth for other people to see. Again, Google seem to have taken the usuability of the interface as their primary concern and have produced software that is so easy to use that my 5 year old daughter could create something impressive with very little help.

However, I do have a major concern with Google Earth. This isn't so much centred around the product but the maps that are used. If these high resolution maps are the released to the public, then it makes you wonder what satellite imagery technology is capable of doing within a military or government role. Surely, if you can see people on the street within the public domain, how much detail can inteliigence see.

Its make you open your eyes to films such as "Enemy of the State"……….

School Holidays

A colleague of mine recently posted his thoughts about costs of holidays during school holidays against the cost during school term. Whilst I understand his point about supply and demand I think the point extends deeper than a pure supply and demand issue. 

My daughter brought home a letter at the start of last term from the LEA (Local Education Authority) requesting that we don't take our children out of school during term time for holidays; pointing out that there are only ~145 teaching days per year. However, based on the supply and demand that my colleague referred to, more and more parents are forced to look at cheaper holidays which can be had during school terms (not to mention how much quieter all the resorts are). 

I think there needs to be a fundamental intervention by the government to prevent the massively over-inflated mark-ups added to holidays during school holidays.

In addition, if our children are so short on education with so few teaching days a year, why is this further cut short by the ever-increasing number of 'teacher training days' that seem to be happening during school time. Looking at my daughters school term dates calendar, there is only 1 month out of 12 where she doesn't get a day off for either holidays or teacher training.

If teachers need training that desparately then:

  1. Isn't this a worrying sign about our teachers and the state of the education system
  2. Why can't these training days be carried out during school holidays

Its not exactly like teachers are struggling for holidays each year. They get far more than the 20ish that most people get who work in the private sector. Surely, 10-15 of these per year could be sacrificed in the name of training.