An omnibus of tech posts by s Futurologist on software development
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Simplify Charity Gift Aid
Even charities want my bank details now; as the BBC highlights
The problem is that because the UK tax system is so overly complicated
, charities are not allowed to claim (GiftAid) the income tax back on personal donations they receive (those individuals have paid that income tax on their salary).
Likewise each person then has to keep records of all donations they make, to fill in the GiftAid section of the personal tax return they are obliged to then prepare, costing them around £50 for a fiantial advisor to help them fill in the form.
Shame the government doesn't just simplify the whole system and allow charities just to claim in good faith GiftAid on any money collected in street donations!
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Currently I'm running an HP Compaq Mini-Note 10" 702EA - bought used for £160. Amazing with Ubuntu Netbook Remix, the keyboard which is large enough to touch type on.
Mass of only 1.1KG is the best feature though!
What's the competition?
Sony Vaio X505 10" 1024x768. Needs RAM + HD. 0.8KG - used price £800.
Apple Macbook Air 1.86GHz 13", 1.3KG - £1,150.
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 12", 1.6KG - Used price £350
MSI X400 14", 1.5KG - £550
Dell Vostro V13 1.6KG - £400
Labels: GNU+Linux, Laptops
M&S Christmas Shoppers Beware
M&S are running a Christmas marketing scam, so beware if you too considered buying from their "Christmas & New Year Food To Order".
The small print on the order form explains they will use your personal info for:
* marketing of products, services, marketing research.
* only possible to opt back out is to write to them, and allow 3 months for them to try and take your details of their lists.
Reminds me of the Phishing scam emails I get. Workaround is to cross through those terms before signing.
Southern Water are just as bad, last month to register for water at my new pad, they ask for my National Insurance number!
This is definitely something the UK should legislate against. Also something that M&S's Stewart Rose should have never let happen. Probably ORG
would be good at lobbying for a change here.
Labels: DataProtection, DigitalRights, UK
Monday, 7 December 2009
Magazine subscriptions a treasure trove of personal data
Just got one of those magazine subscription leaflets fall out of my paper, nothing new there. What was surprising was that their freepost piece of card asked for so much personal information, which would then be all plane to read as it made it through the postal system:
Name, Address, Daytime Tel, Mobile (aren't they the same?), email, year of birth, bank account, branch, signature.
If you must take up one of these offers, send it back in a brown envelope!
Labels: DataProtection, DigitalRights, UK
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Standard light connector
Anyone who does DIY and installs new lights will know as soon as you unscrew the old light fitting you'll see a mass of wires and a connection block. Often due to the way UK ring-main works (6 wires) and then if you have a spur then there are 9 in total. Quite a mess to then try and connect in 3 wires for the new light fitting.
Therefore, what I would like to see is a standard, compact in-line connector, as is common in car lighting. The design needs to be safe, and have different shaped plastic (curve on one side etc) so it can only be inserted with the Earth, Live, Neutral connected correctly.
Labels: Europe, Safety, UK
Digital Subtitles for TV
In the UK both Freesat
TV broadcast of BBC and other channels feature subtitles. However, I notice how poor the real-time subtitles are compared to the ones on pre
-recorded programmes and films are.
Solution is for BBC and other life programs and news to insert a 10 sec delay from capture to broadcast of their live feed to give the subtitlers
chance to write and send the text in real-time!
Like other countries have had for years (Japan since 2001 etc), films which on DVD come with subtitles and audio in multiple languages should also be available when broadcast on TV. The UK must be the only country with single audio/subtitle stream broadcasts.
Also I'd like the subtitles available as part of a revised iPlayer
open offering, ditching the Microsoft/Adobe requirements.
Labels: Future, TV, UK
Time for more HD channels?
In the UK with our free, unrestricted digital satellite service freesat we get 1.5 HD channels. That is BBC HD and the Red Button on ITV1 to switch to ITV1 HD
What I'd like to see is a full ITV1 HD channel schedule, additionally BBC HD being replaced by three HD channels, BBC HD1, BBC HD2 and BBC HD3. During the 2012 Olympics BBC HD2/3 could be completely deadlined to the games, and BBC HD1 somewhat.
In addition the formats and protocols should all be patent and license free like ISO standards and Khronos standards. Ideally also source code of each TV should be published, we could then fix bugs and add new features. I'd like to fix the (Info) button bug on my Panasonic TX37LZD81
Finally, I would like to see the +1 repeat of BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, ITV1 which currently do not feature on Freesat or Freeview for some reason.
Labels: BBC, Future, UK
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Ubuntu Netbook Fixes for 2010
I've been runing a recent Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my HP Compaq Mini-Note 10" laptop. A very good user experience.
What I'd like to see improved in 2010 is:
- "Desktop" still exists as a folder, however, it isn't the Desktop! Replace the "Favourites" with the existing "Desktop". Favourite apps can still be copied into the Desktop.
- Fix "Update Manager" display of "Reading package information" which comes up so often; even when it says before and after "Your system is up to date".
- Fix "Update Manager", it often appears in the notification panel, open it up and there are no updates to install. Download and check for updates and there are still no updates to install!
That's all for now; will these issues be fixed in 2010?
Labels: GNU+Linux, Ubuntu
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Clear Product Origin Labeling
Just bought from Tesco, Daily Care Toothpaste. What I didn't realise until I got home and read the small print was that it had come all the way from China!
My usual Colgate is made in the EU (Poland). I would rather buy UK materials+production, but there don't seem to be any left (we used to have a toothpaste and even Brillo pad down the road).
Therefore, I put out a call for legislation to have compulsory labeling of:
- Product origin in country name in large letting, equal size to product name/description.
- The origin must not be disguised ("Scottish" Salmon produced in Russia, packaged in Scotland etc)
- Km from the top destinations (as a product made in Beijing is 3,700 Km from Tibet).
Labels: Environment, Europe, UK
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