Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP

Filed Under Rants

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is the local MP where a friend of mine lives. My friend has being trying to get some straight, simple answers on The Communications Data Bill since December 2012.

If there is any wonder why people get disenfranchised by attempting to engage their local politicians on subjects, only to be fobbed off by bland, empty rhetoric and then ignored when daring to question those elected to represent them, then this is a perfect example.

In December 2012, my friend wrote to Geoffrey Clifton-Brown asking for his position on the draft Communications Data Bill and the reasons for that position using the very popular WriteToThem website. In due course he received a reply from Mr Clifton-Brown which was, shall we say, less than satisfactory. Not only did the reply instantly fall back on the old ‘we must stop the pedophiles and terrorists’ it contained a standard, boiler plate bunch of statistics indicating how vital it was that we get this new law rushed through as soon as possible.

My friend took the time to reply asking for some sources on the statistics quoted by Mr Clifton-Brown as he had located the same statistics on other websites (including one about Indian policing!) and wondered if Mr Clifton-Brown had done any checking on these statistics. As well all know, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

Several further emails, sent directly to Mr Clifton-Brown went unanswered. Finally at the beginning of February 2013 after spotting an article quoting the head of MI5 stating that the statistics quoted by Mr Clifton-Brown in his initial reply, rested on ‘some pretty heroic assumptions’ my friend attempted to contact him again via the WriteToThem website.

My friend received a reply from an intern stating that “The information you require in response to your comments is detailed in nature and Mr Clifton-Brown MP will require a few more days to reply.”. Awesome! Hopefully he will actually get an actual response. An actual response was forthcoming, eventually.

In this reply Mr Clifton-Brown appears to genuinely believe that his opinion of the bill is enough to justify his support for it. Let’s not bother with trifling details such as doing your damn job which is to represent the views of those who elected you. Being an MP sometimes means that you have to go against your personal beliefs rather than use the position as a vehicle to further your personal agenda. Apparently being an MP also means you get to duck awkward issues like where you got these statistics from, what research you have done about a bill, checking to see what your constituents feel about issues. Simples.

Committee chair Bernard Jenkin (Public Administration Committee) has recently come out and stated that,

“Good statistics underpin good policy and proper scrutiny of it. Public confidence in the information produced by government is vitally important to an effective democracy.
Without it there can be no confidence in the transparency and accountability of government, which in turn can only fuel public apathy and disengagement from the democratic process.”

Shame Mr Clifton-Brown appears to feel differently.

Undeterred, my friend, who at this time is showing the patience of a saint, again replied to Mr Clifton-Brown via WriteToThem. Since Mr Clifton-Brown was struggling with reading comprehension, he concisely summarised his questions as follows :

1. Could you please provide justification and sources for the statistics you are using to justify your support of the proposed bill?

2. Could you please provide details of what polling and research you have done a) within your constituency and b) to verify the statistics used, and results of that research (if any), to justify your support for this bill

3. Finally, could you please provide details of what preventative measures will be put in place to prevent โ€˜scope creepโ€™ of the bill.

As of the date I make this post – he has yet to receive a reply. Quelle suprise

How the hell does government expect to engage people when the duck even slightly complicated issues? Voter turnout is at an all time low. People have little or no respect for politicians. And yet they wonder why? I feel terribly sorry for Mr Clifton-Brown who, on a comfy ยฃ65k+ tax payer funded salary, has to take time out of his day to instruct an intern to justify the data he mindlessly spews at his constituents as justification for the way he votes in Parliament. This is your job bozo! You get elected to represent the views of your constituents. This is not rocket science. They speak, you listen! It should not take months and repeated attempts to contact you for you to actually be able to justify your position. Having looked at all of the correspondence between you two, you have ducked, squirmed and downright avoided answering the questions posed to you. Grow a spine you feckless cunswup and answer the damn questions.

I know it sounds odd but the man who pays your wages deserves to be able to ask you what you are doing and why you are doing it. And if your answer is lacking in detail, cites, sources or anything concrete, do not be surprised when you are asked for more information. And when you are – provide it. Don’t just avoid the issue. In other words DO YOUR FUCKING JOB.

Sage replies!!

Filed Under Misc, Rants

Well they replied, and in the spirit of honesty, please find below their reply and my response to it.

I am surprised that I actually got a response – so thumbs up for that. What I find slightly more concerning is the fact that they just want my details ‘so they can look into the call’. Thumbs down there then!

What I would have expected, in the event of a reply, was one of 2 things :

1. Very sorry, misunderstanding, is covered by support, please give me more specifics so we can prevent this happening again, please call back.


2. Support policy is thus, not covered, hope you understand, if we can be of any more help please call again.

But Ed Tysoe skirted right round the actual crux of the problem – a little odd I find.

It is almost as if they wanted to just address the way the call was handled – ‘Never – ever tell the customer that once the product is installed we wash our hands of them. In the event of the problem, corporate policy is to upsell them to SageCover. This we achieve by …’

But that could just be the cynic in me ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ed Tysoe’s Email :

Subject: Sage ACT! Support – Configuring TAPI
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 10:33:10 +0100

Having read the above post on your blog, would it be possible to take your sage account details (account number, company name) so that I can look into the specifics of your call?

Assuring you of our best attention at all times.

Kind regards

Ed Tysoe
ACT! Technical Support
Sage (UK) Ltd

ACT! Support – As a valued Sagecover member, you will find useful information relating to support guides, common support calls and a download area plus much more at

If you’ve received this email by mistake, we’re sorry for bothering you. It may contain information that’s confidential, so please delete it without sharing it. And if you let us know, we can try to stop it from happening again. Thank you.

We may monitor any emails sent or received by us, or on our behalf. If we do, this will be in line with relevant law and our own policies.

Sage (UK) Limited. Registered in England at North Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE13 9AA. Registered number 1045967.

And my reply

Hi Ed,

As I am sure you can understand, I am reluctant to link my work and personal details.

Perhaps it might be easier if you confirmed or denied the fact that once you can access the database, the product is considered installed and no further support is available until you pay for it?

If this is not the case, I can call again and try and obtain the support that I believe should come with purchasing a product. I don’t believe that basic operational aspects should be covered by an extra support contract – and I think it is positively scandalous that the inital set up, of a purchased product, should fall outside of standard support. I completely understand that support does not cover all and any incidents – if I was having problems linking my ACT! software into some custom hardware then I would expect to pay for the support.

However, to tell me that once you can open the databse – that’s it, product installed, no more support is shameful and if this is the case, then I am afraid that I stand by my post.

Your reply and this email will be posted to the blog – I look forward to hearing back from you.


The downside of working for someone else

Filed Under Funny, Misc, News, Rants

Apparently there are ‘rules’ about what we can send to our clients.

Apparently these ‘rules’ prohibit me sending this to my client … which I think is a crying shame ๐Ÿ™‚

I leave the decision with you Ben. I think we have tried very hard to make you happy with mycompanyname and the services we offer but as with any relationship, it is a two way street. I hope you will look and see that we have tried to help as much as we can, but because you are a crayon wielding windowlicker, the basic simplicity of following fucking instructions appears beyond you. So yet again I have to drag my sorry ass down to your office and do the Fisher Price MyFirstVPN setup again and then show you that the black fucking magic actually works. But at least, I hope, youโ€™ll get off my freaking back about this whole thing. Iโ€™m not your mother โ€“ itโ€™s not my fault youโ€™re retarded. Stop expecting me to pay for your fucking shortcomings.

I thought it had a lovely natural cadence ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sage ACT! Support – Configuring TAPI

Filed Under Rants

We use Sage ACT! for some of our CRM duties. It’s adequate at best but we muddle through.

Sage support is a real thing of beauty. Installing ACT! for a new user, and for some reason one of the TAPI interfaces is not showing in the dialer. So, enjoying the benefits of actually purchasing the software, I think I will phone Sage Customer Support and ask them if they could help.

No – they can’t. Surprising enough, until you hear the reason they can’t support me.

Apparently because I can open the database, the product is installed. This is as far as the customer support goes. Doesn’t matter that it doesn’t it work as advertised, or even as it should, just installed is good enough for them.

Anything else? Like getting the options to work, ‘I’ll need to pass you on to sales for you to purchase a support contract‘.

Really? When the product installation is less than an hour old, you want to sell me support for a product. No checking to see if it is a simple fix first – just a blanket need to upsell me to purchasing support.

Fucking cunswups.

Amazing how one’s conscience can be cleared by realising how shittily a company supports its paying users. Suddenly less inclined to purchase the product – why bother when you get no support? What possible inclination can there be to purchase software when the support you get from an illegal torrent is possibly better than the original support?

Thanks a lot – saves me money if I find Sage product I actually like – I’ll download the damn thing instead. Way to go Sage! So I have emailed them to tell them that I was publishing this article in response to their support – obviously I will publish their response in due course!

The other thing I loved was their support feedback form. I tried to fill it in to tell them the same thing (thanks for nothing) and I got the error in the image below. If I could find a field to put either of those two required pieces of information, I would – I assure you!

Right - the impossible form!

Right - the impossible form!

Why I hate CSI:New York

Filed Under Rants

Being UK based, we are a little behind our US cousins when it comes to new series of US based shows. Channel 5 has just started showing season 5 of CSI:New York (the one with Gary Sinise in).

As a self confessed geek, I like a certain degree of believability in my crime drama. I can overlook quite a lot, upto and including the ridiculous noises that the computers make whilst flashing up the mugshot of everyone in the AFIS system. After all, it must be much quicker to pull the image of the offender, their finger prints, the comparison fingerprints and display it all rather than just having a little progress bar.

Progress Bar

Like This?

Fortunately the AFIS system is obviously blessed with unlimited bandwidth and disk speed ๐Ÿ˜‰ An annoyance, but still overlook-able.

What is less able to be forgiven is when they start messing around with ‘image enhancement’. I realise I am not alone on the intertubes when I moan about how cunswuppily ridiculous the image enhancement is, but it may surprise you to know that it is not the fact that they can produce high resolution images from any input (upto and including reading the text on a badge that was reflected off the sunglasses of the person using an ATM machine :o) but when they flat out contradict each other!

The particular scene that made me remember exactly why I had given up on CSI:New York was not the 3D holographic body that they now use in the morgue (sigh) but when the ‘perp’ was escaping in a stolen car. Apparently at some point he had to pass a toll bridge at which point he dropped his money and opened the car door to retrieve it. When he bent down to collect the money his face was captured on the security camera. Apparently they were unable to enhance the image enough to be able to ‘see’ his face, but there was sufficient detail in the enhanced image to perform a biometric comparison to establish it was the perp they were after.

So far, so surprisingly real.

Until they zoom in and read the VIN number off the door of the car …

So … Let me get this straight … you can zoom in and read something like this :

… but not far enough to actually identify the perp.

Feck off …. support – Part II

Filed Under Rants

As mentioned here, I emailed to get their response on the connection issues and asked for their response.

In pokerroom’s defense, they came through pretty quickly. Here is what they had to say … and my comments on their response. I told them that I would publish their response unedited, so I will put my comments inline and not take out any stuff that I am not commenting on in the spirit of honesty. I have however removed personally identifiable information.

Thank you for your recent e-mail about your connection issues.

I am sorry to hear that you have experienced connection problems while playing our games.

As communicated to you previously, the problems you are experiencing are on the users end. Here is some information that can help you to improve your internet connection and playing our games plus solving some common problems:

Why does it only happen in the evenings then? If it was at my end, I would imagine it would be constant. Unless it was my ISP. At which point you are basically saying ‘pokerroom is fine, just don’t expect to play on our network if you are with BT. The UK’s largest ISP by subscriber number. Way to go – alienate the largest single percentage of your UK target market in one fell swoop.

In an Internet Explorer window then click on the “Tools” button at the top of the browser. From there scroll down the list and click on the last option “Internet Options”

From the new box which appears then under the middle section under the “Temporary Internet Files” then click on the box marked “Delete Files” and then finally click on “Apply” and “OK” at the bottom of the box.

ummmm … I’m not using IE to play – I’m using the standalone software.

If you have Netscape (or an old version of Internet Explorer) please install the latest version of Internet Explorer.

After you have installed IE, I suggest that you update your new browser with the latest improvements and security patches.

After you have installed IE and installed patches, you must restart your computer.

*cough* See above

The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) can be found here:

Click on the link ‘Download J2SE JRE’ which is the most recent, stable version of Java. It will start to download this version of Java for you if you do not already have one. It’s for Windows XP, Me, NT, 2000, 98, and 95.

Not a bad idea. Let me check and see how upto date I am. V6.3 – latest version 6.11. I’ll update and see how that works.

Didn't work out so well really

Didn't work out so well really


If you recently have installed new applications or have a lot of applications running in the background when playing that can be a problem. Try to experiment and close down programs that you don’t need.

I hope this helps with the general maintenance of your computer and allows you to play on our site without any hassle. Should the problem persist, please contact your Internet Service Provider.

Oh why do you guys insist on copy pasting and not listening to what your customer is saying. IT WORKS FINE IN THE DAYTIME, NOT IN THE EVENING. I’m not firing up another 20+ apps in the evening, if anything I’m shutting them down to try and maintain a connection to your site. Nice try though :/

As far as the information Trevor previously advised you about, I can confirm that this is accurate.

Here we go. It is actually a loading issue at your end isn’t it? It’s not my ISP, it’s not my PC running too many apps, it’s not my version of Internet Explorer. You guys can’t support the number of free games you are running. And if I am to give you real money, I NEED to know if you are doing the same on the cash games or not. Since you can’t/won’t answer this (see below) then I can only assume but yes. There is no way I will commit real money to a site that cannot guarantee it won’t fall over if a few extra users come online.

To query about the cash games, please send us some more information about what you would like to know about these games.

Quite simply, as I mentioned, whether they were hosted on the same servers or whether the same loading issue would occur as with the free games.

Should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us again.


10/10 for a speedy response from pokerroom. A fair question maybe is a quick, near useless, response better than a slighlty slower, considered response. Are we happy to receive boilerplate replies as opposed to if someone took the time to look at our problem, think about it and respond carefully?

More to the point – would you send these people your money?

Me … I’m yet to be convinced. support (or lack thereof)

Filed Under Rants

I play online poker at when I have some spare time. Recently in the evenings I have a really lousy connection. Constant timeouts, disconnects etc.

So I tried a quick chat with pokerroom support. I sent them my logs indicating that there was no issue with lobby chat, just in the games etc and I got this gem in reply

You will be pleased to know that the relevant department has got back to us regarding the matter. We have reviewed the details you have provided, as well as the session history and can confirm that you indeed experienced intermittent connectivity issues during the $100,000 Freeroll Day 1C multi tournament on the 12th November.

No shit Sherlock! Thanks for confirming that I wasn’t in some wierd hallucinogenic trance thinking I was timing out left right and frickin’ center.

The same thing has been happening now for some time so I tried again with online support – when I got to the bottom of the problem

These are exact quotes from Trevor – the online support chap I was talking to :

Its due to the amount of traffic on the site.

It is due to the amount of traffic on the site and unfortunately it is one of those problems which occurs worldwide.

You know what Trevor (and pokerroom)? It’s not. It’s a problem when you don’t put money into infrastructure and expect people to put up with it. I was really hoping for Xmas to get $100 to play for real money as a gift. I have played at pokerroom for over a year now, checking it out, making sure I was happy to commit real money to play.

Guess what pokerroom – you’re proper fucked now if you think you’ve got a chance of getting a single cent off me in real money since not one of your agents will confirm that cash games are hosted on servers with a lower load.

I’m a whining crybaby when I lose at anything, but having to fold AA because your site can’t handle traffic means that you are actively costing me money (or would be in a real cash game) because you are too cheap to invest in infrastructure.

Now I realise I am not the bastion of all knowledge that is good and pokery, but if I may proffer this little nugget for anyone who wants to play poker online – at least check that the site can handle the friggin’ loads before you commit real money to it. In this case, that means don’t even bother with

I have emailed linking this site and asking for their feedback. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Edit : This is how bad the connection is tonight.

What a joke

What a joke

And yes, two hands later I got AQs and timed out. Against Mr. AllInAllTheTime to my left … goddamnit. In the end it was unplayable – 20 hands, 7 timeouts, 1 complete disconnect – I quit the game before I had a stroke. And look what cropped up in the client software :

Yep - looks stable to me :/

Yep - looks stable to me :/

The McHippo Protest

Filed Under Rants

According to that bastion of quality reporting, The Sun, there has been a bit of a kerfuffle in a McDonalds in Castlepoint, UK.

Apparently, Mama Hippo (pictured below) was in McDonalds when her precious little cherub was hungry so started to breast feed the baby. This upset the manager and he asked her to stop. She refused and was then asked to leave. She then returned with 4 of her mates and staged the McHippo Breastfeeding Protest.

I'd hit it. In the face;. With a 2x4. With some rusty nails in it

Now before we get all of our panties up in bunch about how breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world and that your precious little Johnny has the right to suckle on your tit until he is 15, I’m not moaning about breastfeeding in public.

What I am moaning about is those that think they have a god given right to impose their choices on others. Personally, unless you’re Megan Fox, I don’t want to see you breastfeeding. I equally have the right not to have to watch you try and manoeuvre your engorged mammories into your screaming sprog’s face.

We don’t know the exact situation in McDonalds. If the manager said “Oi, you salad dodging hippo – put it away or get the f%^& out” then, apart from the salad dodging, he was completely wrong. If he approached her and said “Excuse me ma’am, your breast feeding is causing some patrons to feel a little awkward, may I move you to another table where you may continue more comfortably” and she refused then as far as I am concerned he was right to kick her fugly ass to the kerb.

Even worse was her refusal to leave once asked to. Personally I think the manager should have called the police, but I can understand that McDonalds would shun that kind of publicity.

Anyway – since she didn’t go straight to a “no win no fee” lawyer to sue for having her feelings hurt, I can assume that he didn’t call her a salad dodger. Since she returned with her mates to ‘protest’/get tickets to appear on Jeremy Kyle/appear in The Sun, I shall assume that she felt ‘offended’.

There are lots of things that are perfectly allowable, but not acceptable in a polite society. If one person in a restaurant is making many others uncomfortable, then the one must stop or leave. If I were a forensic pathologist, and spent the entire meal in a restaurant talking loudly to my wife about the bloated corpse I had cut up that day which was found to contain several dozen pus-filled tumours – would I have the right to complain if the manager said to me that my conversation was unsettling other diners and would I please refrain? Well – yes. Should I? No. I should stop, ask to be re-seated and in the event a more private table was not available, I should accept that the room is not filled with people who think it is an appropriate topic for conversation over a meal and desist.

I should not return with my entire lab, several case reports and a bunch of megaphones.

The same applies if I decide to whistle out of tune whilst sat next to you in McDonalds. If it is upsetting the other patrons, the manager has every right to come and see me and tell me to quit it. Yes whistling is the most natural thing in the world, yes there are no laws against it – but it still doesn’t make it acceptable for me to enforce my tuneless whitterings on an unwilling public.

Something that upsets about McDonald’s attitude to all this is :

If another customer ever expressed their discomfort about breastfeeding we would encourage them to move rather than the mum.

WTF? WTFF? I’m sat there enjoying my Happy Meal with free toy and Jabba the Hutt’s missus rocks up and starts burning my retinas. To make matters worse it then starts feeding what in this case looks remarkably like a goblin … and I have to move?!?!. If I turn up in a Mcdonalds, start complaining loudly about how ‘a thousand years ago, if you gave birth to something that ugly you would have been burnt at the stake by the church’, should they move her because I’m making her feel awkward? No – I suspect not. So why the double standards?

But I suspect equally that Maddie Reynolds doesn’t consider others much. I can tell this because a) she bred and b) she doesn’t wear a burkha.

Bon Appetit! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Karma doesn’t exist

Filed Under Rants

Karma, something I used to hold quite dear to my heart, doesn’t exist.

Whilst, on the face of it, quite a bold statement – today I got my proof. For years I have tried to make amends for a rather ‘naughty’ youth. Upto and including not stealing the 07 VW Fox I saw the other day with the keys hanging out of the boot. Instead I chose to hand the keys in to the Pro shop on site and hoped that key and owner would be re-united in some sort of bizarre cloud of OwnerKey goodness.

So – my payback for this?? Today I lost my car keys and no-one handed them in. I lost them in a retail park after taking a defined route. Backtracking and stopping in every store I passed resulted in nothing ๐Ÿ™

Thanks Karma. I did a lot wrong when I was younger but I’m trying to make up for it – you’re not helping me here.

Biatch ๐Ÿ˜›

Large Drives, Partitions and Ubuntu

Filed Under News, Rants

How to partition drives >2Tb and how to have more than 4 partitions on a large drive array.

We struggled with this for a very long time. I had to collate information from many different sources and I thought it might be nice to collect it all here in one tidy little post that may save someone else the trouble of pulling their hair out and suffering replies in help forums like ‘Not exactly a beginner’s question is it?‘. How the hell should I know? I’m a beginner you cunswup!

Firstly you will need to change the disklabel to gpt. I used parted for this but I must stress at this point – DO NOT USE PARTED 1.7.1. This is the version that was shipped with my 7.04 install and to the best of my knowledge is still the one included with 7.1. IT IS BROKEN. Nice of them to update it in the install package since 1.7.1 was released in May 2006.

I installed parted version 1.8.8 – available here. And this is how I did it ….

I have 10 x 500Gb SATA drives configured under and Adaptec 31605 card to run as a single large 4Tb drive (1Tb lost for redundancy). I wanted to split up the drive into 6 partitions. Using parted 1.7.1 would allow me to do this, but as soon as I rebooted, the extra partitions (sdx5 sdx6 etc) were lost. They would not even appear in /dev/sd??.

All commands are executed in the context of root@uberserver:~#, you may need to sudo some commands if you are not root.

apt-get remove libparted parted
apt-get install uuid-dev libncurses5 libreadline-dev build-essential
tar zxvf parted-1.8.8.tar.gz
cd parted-1.8.8

I got an error at this point on my system

/usr/bin/ld: /usr/lib/../lib64/libuuid.a(uuidgen.o): relocation R_X86_64_32 against `a local symbol’ cannot be used when making a shared object; recompile with -fPIC

so I had to use make CFLAGS=-fPIC CXXFLAGS=-fPIC
make install

And that was that ๐Ÿ˜€ From the command line I typed parted and this greeted me :

root@uberserver:~# parted
GNU Parted 1.8.8
Using /dev/sda
Welcome to GNU Parted! Type ‘help’ to view a list of commands.

From the parted command line I set the disklabel to gpt which resulted in this error (due to having previously tried this with 1.7.1)

Warning: /dev/sda contains GPT signatures, indicating that it has a GPT table.
However, it does not have a valid fake msdos partition table, as it should.
Perhaps it was corrupted — possibly by a program that doesn’t understand GPT
partition tables. Or perhaps you deleted the GPT table, and are now using an
msdos partition table. Is this a GPT partition table?

I replied yes and removed all my existing partitions. From there I mkparted the new partitions and rebooted. And what do you know … they were there when I rebooted!

I would like to thank publicly philipMac for his post here which I followed mostly to get this working. I would also like to thank rhican for his help troubleshooting the compiler error. Also Xa0z for his patience whilst I constantly wiped out his hard work by generally buggering around with partitions!

I would also suggest that since 1.7.1 is broken, that perhaps it’s not such a good idea to continue to ship it with default installs – or at least allow a working one to be apt-get’d if possible. Maybe the developers could put something on their site even? Until users don’t have to jump through hoops to obtain fixes for simple problems, I fear it will retard the acceptance of Ubuntu into the mainstream.

And speaking of ‘tards, a little fuck you to the cunswup I mentioned earlier. I explained my lack of experience and I had no idea if it was a beginner’s question or not. The very least you could have done, instead of just shitting in the thread and running away leaving your oh-so-witty turd behind, would have been to reply to the response I left -Was I in the wrong place and if so how do I get this fixed.

Behaviour like yours does not endear a community to someone who is frustratedly hunting for what should be a simple solution. I really hope next time you have a problem someone does the same to you. And by God I hope it’s me! Fuck you very much you idiot.

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