Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Quislings? Is that like goslings? Where's my shotgun?

by Edwin Hesselthwite

We at Little Man What Now consider it our duty and pleasure to present you with this list of names:

John Austin (Erith & Thamesmead)
Richard Burden (Birmingham Northfield)
Michael Clapham (Barnsley West & Penistone)
Harry Cohen (Leyton & Wanstead)
Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
Ann Cryer (Keighley)
Frank Dobson (Holborn & St Pancras)
Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow)
Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath)
John Grogan (Selby)
David Hamilton (Midlothian)
Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne North)
Sian James (Swansea East)
Sadiq Khan (Tooting)
Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool Walton)
Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North & Leith)
Tony Lloyd (Manchester Central)
Andy Love (Edmonton)
Christine McCafferty (Calder Valley)
Michael Meacher (Oldham West & Royton)
Julie Morgan (Cardiff North)
George Mudie (Leeds East)
Chris Mullin (Sunderland South)
Gordon Prentice (Pendle)
Nick Raynsford (Greenwich & Woolwich)
Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Sir Peter Soulsby (Leicester South)
Emily Thornberry (Islington South & Finsbury)
Jon Trickett (Hemsworth)
David Winnick (Walsall North)

These political parasites are the MP’s personally responsible for the passing of the National Identity Card Bill and for overturning the sane and sensible amendments applied to it by the House of Lords. The list assembled above consists of those Labour MPs who rebelled against last November's Terror Bill, but supported last night's ID Card Bill.

If we assume any political consistency after overturning The Terror Bill, one would assume these politicians are opposed to fundamental attacks on our freedoms - many consider this bill a far worse infringment on our liberties - so their change of tack on this is suggestive of larger political machinations. I would like to bring particular attention to the ex-front benchers listed – Peter Kilfoyle, Michael Meacher and Frank Dobson. These politicians are almost universally linked to that old, tarnished brand – Socialism. Just take a look through their voting history for confirmation, Dennis Skinner, anyone? Socialism has a long and unpleasant history of compromising fundamental liberties for "money for the poor", and in this case you can strongly smell a deal in relation to the changes introduced last tuesday to the controversial Education Bill, a bill with which the left seem obsessed. It would be a fair bet to assume this deal was cut between Gordon Brown and leading back bencher Frank Dobson. Education bills last about 3 years before being binned by their replacement – the identity card will stay as long as government deems necessary.

So, a couple of years down the line you and I are going to be carrying documents on obligation, and a database will exist with a vast amount of information about you held by the state, almost certainly cross-referenced with the national genetic database. When you are being harassed by the fists of our new police state, please remember the name of the man personally responsible for bringing forth the new tyranny. Thank you, Frank Dobson, we are all condemned.

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Open letter to Google: Make more money from Gmail!

by Charles Pooter

Google have just added a chat facility to their Gmail/Googlemail service. This allows you to chat to other Gmail users using the web interface without downloading a separate program. It can also archive all your chats alongside your email. This is a another improvement to what is, in my opinion, already the best available email client. I love Gmail. I wish I could use it for my work email, which got me thinking...

Dear Google,

Here's how you can make much more money out of Gmail and annoy Bill in the process:
  1. Add calendaring, "to do" lists, etc. to Gmail. Make sure the interface is excellent (which you have already achieved with email).
  2. Add delegation: Let users allow other Gmail users to have access to their email, calendars, etc. For example johnsmith@gmail.com can allow simonjones@gmail.com to add appointments to his calendar and kirstymcdonald@gmail.com can allow siobhanoreilly@gmail.com to send emails on her behalf.
  3. Build-in mobile syncronisation and make it foolproof: Make Gmail work seamlessly with Windows Mobile and its competitor platforms.

Once these three steps have been completed, you can start to make the money:

Take Microsoft Exchange head-on.

Allow us to dump Exchange. Exchange is great, but Gmail could be better, especially if you host it all for us. Sell the service to companies and other organisations. Allow companies to use Gmail as their email client and server. Allow us to use Gmail with our work email addresses and our existing corporate user names and passwords.

Here's how it could work: A company decides to dump Exchange and use Gmail for their email. They purchase a Gmail license for 1000 users. You charge them $5 a user per year per gigabyte (this could be less for charities, universities, etc). You could charge them more for an ad-free service. They set their MX records to point at your servers rather than their own. You give them a plugin for Active Directory (or whichever directory service they use), so that whenever they create a new user account a Gmail account is also automatically created. When johnsmith@somecompany.com logs into Gmail, instead of checking your own database for his account, you redirect the authentication to the company's directory service (alternatively you could use directory syncronisation).

This service would sell like hotcakes. I would certainly advise my organisation to dump its Exchange plans and go with Gmail Enterprise (as I call it). As well as the company having the best available email interface for its users, it could dump all its Exchange severs and associated SANS, tape libraries, etc. It could probably also re-deploy quite a few staff as well. Email is boring. You can do it in the optimum way, so why does every company in the world have to replicate the effort you've already made? Gmail Enterprise would work with the users' existing corporate user names and passwords. Email and instant messages would be archived and searchable, which as well as being extremely useful for users, would remove a big headache for companies worried about data retention legislation. Delegation would work just as in Exchange with the added advantage that it could work across companies. If two companies need to collaborate on a project and you need someone in another company to be able to view your calendar, no problem.

Then beat SharePoint

After you've beaten Exchange, use the same interface and authentication system to do the same to SharePoint: A Gmail-like, Google searchable, document repository and collaboration service using existing corporate user names and passwords, where cross-company collaboration is easy, with precise but simple access control. Money in the bank.

By the way, if you like these ideas and have any positions available, I can be contacted at Charles.Pooter@gmail.com



Friday, 3 February 2006

Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington

by Charles Pooter

This is the 9th week in a row where I have embarrassed myself on the train home from work. The people to blame are Ricky, Steve and Karl who for the last two months have been releasing a weekly podcast on the Guardian Unlimited website. It was fine when I used to listen to their XFM show in the comfort of my own home, but their ridiculous banter is not suitable for consumption in a public place.

It always starts the same way. I put on my headphones and click the button on my iPod. At first I think I can control and bottle up the laughter, but as usual I am wrong. Steve reads an entry from Karl's Diary (with Ricky, as always, almost hyperventilating with laughter in the background). A quiet snort escapes from my nose and the woman in the seat next to me shuffles away slightly. A while later there is a reference to some long running Karl story, such as the time when Karl first encountered the (in his opinion) rather unusual looking Steve or the hairy Chinese kid or Karl's pet magpie that used to peck at the types of his Grifter or old men not eating twixes or the two kids at his school with the big heads and webbed hands (who weren't related to each other and who weren't friends, as it would be "too obvious") or gay people going out too late in the evening. Stephen is indignant or sceptical and Ricky is rolling on the floor screeching with laughter claiming that he is "going to explode". I struggle to control my body as my shoulders involuntarily shake. People on the train start to look at me.

I compose myself but it doesn't last ... Monkey News has begun. Ricky performs the traditional live jingle: "Oooo chimpanzee that, Monkey News!", which always elicits a snort of laughter from myself (it's the way he manages to make it more over the top each time). The story itself doesn't really matter and is essentially the same each week (firefighter is actually a chimp, builder turns out to be chimp, passenger discovers pilot is a chimp, etc.), what is funny is Ricky's increasing annoyance at the obvious bollocks being passed of as a true anecdote and Karl's obvious joy at winding Ricky up. This is a delightful reversal of their usual roles where Karl is the victim, as Ricky mocks his "bald round head" by squeezing it or bouncing a champagne cork off it. By this point I am openly guffawing and no one in the carriage can be in any doubt that I am an escaped lunatic.

Never mind smoking: Ricky, Steve and Karl should be banned in public places.