Wednesday, 21 August 2019

How far is too far to drive to a recycling centre?

Over on the Sustainability Stack Exchange the following question has been asked:-

How far is too far to drive to a recycling centre? 
Where we live the council collects recycling, however the quantity you can recycle each fortnight is sadly limited. When I get big cardboard boxes I keep them in the garage until I have. a pretty sizeable pile which I can take to recycle. However, the household recycling centre is a 30 minute round trip in a car (sadly not electric!) 
My concern is that the net impact of this trip might be negative! Is there any rule-of-thumb I could apply to determine the benefit of recycling versus the impact of driving? 
(I do of course try not to make a dedicated trip for this purpose, combining with other nearby activities)

My answer was as follows

A 30 minute drive would be approximately 15 miles, an average small car produces 200 grams of CO2 per mile, so you are emitting about 3 Kg of CO2. 
The CO2 footprint of new plastic manufacture is about 6 Kg CO2 per 1 Kg of plastic.
For recycled plastic manufacture its about 3.5 Kg CO2 per Kg of plastic. So the nett difference is 2.5 Kg CO2. 
Supposing that world needs plastic its going to churn it out whether or not you go to the recycling centre, but your decision to go will save 2.5Kg of CO2 for each Kg of plastic you take. 
Thus, to cancel out your petrol car's CO2 emissions from driving as long as you are recycling more than 1.2 Kg of plastic per trip to the recycling centre then there is a net reduction in the amount of CO2 potentially emitted in the future manufacture of plastic.

However, after further consideration perhaps considering the financial cost is more appropriate than merely looking at CO2 emissions.

You have to pay for the petrol but the money might be better spent on buying products with card packaging instead plastic packaging, or just offsetting the CO2 and putting it in the general trash. Also the cost of producing virgin plastic is about six times the cost of recycled plastic (£1,200 per tonne versus £200). Is it worth spending £2 of petrol to save £1 worth of plastic and £0.10 of CO2? Maybe.

I've had more of a think about it and whilst the matter is somewhat closed over on StackExchange, I feel I need to continue, so here goes...

Fifteen miles of travel in my Peugeot 208 consumes about £2.10 of petrol, or 1.68 litres of petrol and emits about 2.25 Kg of CO2.

East Hertfordshire Council have fortnight refuse collections for recyclable waste, and receive an income of £1.86 million from the sale of recycles materials and credits for diverting stuff from landfill. With East Herts' population of 147,080 this averages out to an income of £12.65 per person per year.

However, the cost of refuse collection and recycling in East Herts is £3.8million, or £25.84 per person. I guess they'd be doing the collection anyway even if they weren't recycling, it might be cheaper not to recycle, but they'd still need the lorries and the staff.

If the recycled material was all plastic, then at £200 per tonne, we could estimate that 9,300 tons of plastic is recycled / sold on. Which is equivalent to 63.2Kg per person or for 100% paper 840 Kg.

I'm not sure what a car load of plastic is. For stuff like hard core or manure, then I'd estimate that I could put between half a ton and a ton in my little car, but plastic, I dunno. If I were loading up a car by hand, then maybe 100Kg feels right, that 63.2Kg is about half a car load of plastic.

But, here is where I mis-read the original question, OP wasn't asking about plastic. They had in mind mostly cardboard, and I just went off on one. I hereby revise my earlier calculations...

So, the first source I found on google gives a price for cardboard of $100 per ton, the second source gives around £40 per ton for cardboard, but for mixed papers its down to £15 per ton.

Now to find the CO2 footprint of cardboard, I've found a great report called The Climate Benefits of Material Recycling which actually has more authoritative figures for both car and plastic.
Virgin plastic emits on average 2.1 Kg CO2e per Kg
Recycled plastic emits 1.3 Kg CO2e per Kg
Virgin paper/card 1.1 Kg CO2e per Kg
Recycled paper/card 0.7 Kg CO2e per Kg
So with this information, if I were shipping only plastic to the recycling centre, the break even quantity would be 2.8 Kg. If I were shipping only paper the break even quantity would be 5.6 Kg

Now to plug costs in there.
2.8 Kg of recyclable plastic is about £0.56
5.6 Kg of recyclable mixed paper is about £0.01

OP and myself don't explicitly get paid for freely giving our recyclable materials to the local recycling centre, its possible that our local taxes are slightly cheaper because the the income stream to the local authority, we might be generous and pretend that it does so that money comes back to us in a round about sort of way.

So in order for the trip to the recycling centre to pay for its own fuel, the break even quantity would be 10.5 Kg of plastic or 180 Kg of mixed paper.

Back on Sustainability Stack Exchange a chap called Chris H points out...
converting to money is handy but given the large effective subsidies for fossil fuels it can significantly distort the calculation
I broadly agree, but its not clear how this should feature in the calculations. If petrol is underpriced because of fossil fuel subsidies, we could double the petrol cost, so all the break evens double. We'd need to transport 21 Kg of plastic or 360 Kg of mixed paper in order to justify the journey. in this respect fossil fuel subsidies help to incentivise recycling, making it easier and cheaper to do.

If fuel were completely free and there was no financial incentive for recycling then the break even quantities are just a few Kg. As fuel costs become greater and we pretend there is a financial incentive to recycling, then there is less incentive.

In East Hertfordshire, where in a roundabout sort of way we receive £12.65 each year from recycling, this currently pays for the fuel for about six trips to the recycling centre. In each trip we would drop off either 10 Kg of plastic or 140 Kg of mixed paper and card, or some mixture of the two.

This article in The Guardian states that the UK government subsidises fossil fuels to the tune of £10.8 billion per year, which I guess is funded by about £150 per person per year. These subsidies are mostly in the lower VAT rate on domestic electricity ad heating gas. But if you categorised the freeze on the fuel duty escalator as a subsidy, then the figures are £16.2 billion per year, or £231 per person.

The UK consumes around 35,000,000 tonnes of petrol and diesel a year, which is 47,475,651,773 litres. If the entire subsidy was on transport fuel, it would be £0.34 per litre

My annual petrol bill is about £1,500 for about 11,000 miles, if about 65% of the price of fuel is tax and duties, around £0.75 pr litre, then I'm handing the government £975 per year. If the subsidies ceased to exist, and fuel duty was lowered by the same amount, and then the cost of the fuel from the oil companies rose to compensate, I'm not sure I'd notice.

If the government subsidising the fossil fuels by a greater amount than what I was paying, then maybe I'd notice. But those subsidies aren't halving the price. The best they could possibly doing it making fuel 15% cheaper, but since I'm paying far more than that as tax, its all pointless.

Right, six trips to the recycling centre make up 90 miles, which is 0.8% of my annual motor distance. If the fossil fuel subsidies were entirely in transport fuel (which they aren't), then the 0.8% is subsidised to the tune of £1.89. This is about a seventh of the fuel cost.

But due to the way the subsidy is calculated, its all a brain teaser.

The subsidy isn't money given to the fuel companies, it is the government having a fuel duty escalator a decade ago, and then deciding not to raise fuel duty. It's completely independent of the fossil fuel companies, and purely about the government deciding tax levels.

So the distortion caused by the subsidy is this petrol would cost about £1.60 per litre instead of the current level of £1.249

So we can now increase or decrease the break even quantities to see how we feel, that's around 13 Kg of plastic or around 210 Kg of paper, per trip.

Friday, 6 October 2017

UK Housebuilders Completions and Productivity

In this blogpost I hope to provide evidence and data to show that the UK's top housebuilders as churning out houses as fast as they can, rather than holding back to preserve profit margins.

The Biggest Housebuilders

The UK's largest housebuilders in terms of completions, that is houses built in the years ending March 2016 and March 2017 are as follows:-

Barratt Development Plc17,319 17,395
Persimmon Plc15,171 15,588
Taylor Wimpey Plc13,808 14,112
Bellway Plc8,721 9,644
Redrow Plc4,716 4,918
Bovis Home Group Plc3,977 3,755
The Berkeley Group Holdings Plc3,776 3,905
Galliford Try Plc (Linden)3,078 3,296
Crest Nicholson Plc2,870
Quadrant Construction2,510 2,552
Bloor Homes Limited2,443
Avant1,210 1,636
Nottinghill Housing1,170 1,151
Guinness Partnership908

These figures are taken from the Annual Reports of each of the companies. The government's Department of Communities and Local Authorities records that the total number of home completions for 2016 was 139,840 and for 2017 it was approximately 153,000.

Therefore the top 20 largest housebuilders account for between 50% and 70% of all completions in the UK.

Past Decade Performance

By looking at previous Annual Reports we can build up a picture of year on year performance, since 2004, including the 2008 credit crunch.

The data is sparser the further back we go because I am lazy and cannot spend so much time looking for historic company reports.

A few observations:-

  • We can see that most of the companies have returned to approximately the 2008 levels.
  • 2007 and 2008 seem to be exceptional years rather than the result of steady year on year increases.

The year on year increase since 2008 is on average for all the companies 10% each year, however, there is some degree of bumpiness

Cost of Building

From studying the Annual Reports we can estimate the cost of building a house. If the total revenue for a company is X and the operational profit is Y, then X minus Y is the total cost of all the labour and materials and equipment. This ignores any admin expenses, back office overheads and interest on loans. By dividing total costs by the number of completions, we get an approximate cost per house.

For the top 14 companies the cost per house is as follows (using most recent data)

Cost per House
Barratt Development Plc£221,385.46
Persimmon Plc£155,902.71
Taylor Wimpey Plc£210,884.99
Bellway Plc£181,325.18
Redrow Plc£248,338.26
Bovis Home Group Plc£226,326.38
The Berkeley Group Holdings Plc£456,773.37
Galliford Try Plc (Linden)£232,736.65
Crest Nicholson Plc£276,376.31
Quadrant Construction£126,895.77
Bloor Homes Limited£249,662.71

We can see that the range is from £126,000 for Quadrant Construction to £456,000 for Berkeley. However, the average cost per home is around £222,800 (this is for 61% of the homes built).

We can speculate that these companies aren't trying to get build as efficiently as possible because their profit margins will easily cover expenses, and so it would be possible to build houses by far cheaper means, but this is literally the majority of the market accounted for.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Social Housing Renovation Simulator

An image of the javascript websiteIn the UK there was a big fire in a residential tower block which had been renovated only a year ago. Many people were asking why sprinkler systems hadn't been installed, or why flammable materials were used instead of more expensive flame resistant materials.

In order to understand how these decisions could be made, I thought I'd try to build a model or a simulator.

The first couple of versions just randomised the chance of a fire and how many people would die, based on known data. Then later iterations added the different renovations that could affect the chances. Then I added a nice uft-8 box drawing, because I'm old school, and feel that this art form has been neglected.

To answer the question of why wouldn't you prioritise fire safety, I added factors such as how easy it is insulate tower blocks or keep them dry. If you renovate a cold, damp and mouldy tower block and it remains cold, damp and mouldy, then the renovation work was pointless.

Anyhoo, it is here

I feel at this point it is stable and does what I kind of envisioned it to do. But my mind is boggling, new features bubbling to the surface. Whilst I accept that it is very crap, its no Sim City '86, neither is it as sophisticated as anything written this century and will probably never be.

However, further features would be as follows:-
  • Add windows as something to buy
  • Add draftiness as an attribute
  • Add landscaping as something to buy
  • Add aesthetics as an attribute
  • Select which UK region the tower block is located in
  • Make the residents pay rent each month
  • Somehow calculate the possible rental income from the renovations
  • Tidy up the weightings for each attribute sum so that things like sprinklers quash all chance of a fire going out of control.
  • In the event of a fire, assign blame and points of failure, such as illegal cladding over certain heights
  • Generate a list of names of the dead, which doesn't go away
  • Collect data from users about what they have chosen
  • Set challenges for renovation budgets
  • Option of doing things on the cheap, which causes danger or incorrectly installed features
  • Add gas risers in stairwells
  • Add additional fire escapes
  • Calculate deaths based on residents of flats on each floor
  • Deal with running costs and fire inspections such as combustible material in hallways
  • Use css
  • Make it look pretty on mobile devices

Friday, 31 March 2017

Karen Bradley's Internet History

You may be asking why this is relevant, please allow an exposition...
A few years back in the wake of the 'Snooper's Charter' I put out a Freedom of Information request to get then Home Secretary's 'internet history' including internet telephony, browsing data and email meta data. This was knocked back as being too all encompassing. So I sent out another FOI for just the browsing data, and this was knocked back as being "a fishing trip" and "vexatious", which could be described as hypocritical, but was kind of accurate, I was trolling.
That Home Secretary then became Prime Minister, and a new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd was promoted, so I sent a new FOI, this time, I was less trollish, and requested the browser history for just one day to "gain a feel for the sort of websites that the Home Secretary visits during their day to day work".
Despite confirming that "the Home Office holds the information that you have requested" this request was knocked back because the browsing history was "personal information". This could be seen as progress from the Home Office, an awareness of people's concerns about privacy.
Still, Internet Service Providers have to keep their customer's "Internet History". You may be wondering in the context of Cabinet ministers, who their ISPs are. I wondered this too, and after the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested that ISPs could monitor bad language or something on the internet, I put in a FOI to find out who the Health Secretary's ISPs were.
As a private citizen he could have any ISP but for government work, the Department for Health is it's own ISP, and hosts a Departmental secured network.
So, the other month, it was announced that Karen Bradley, Culture Secretary, would be leading the government's Digital Strategy. To what extent does Karen Bradley understand and use the internet?
Her own MP website is out of date, saying that she is still a Home Office Minister, despite moving to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in July last year, and her twitter feed is just supermarket opening and schoolkids smiling, rather an a genuine attempt to engage with people. I put in a FOI for her browser data for the day before the news about her Digital Strategy role.
The response was:-
I can confirm the Department does not hold any information in scope of your request.
Does that mean the Department doesn't have a Departmental network, or it does and it doesn't keep Internet History Records, or that Karen Bradley didn't use the Departmental History that day?

Friday, 15 January 2016

Trolling Theresa May

The term 'trolling' on the internet was originally derived from the fishing term:-
A drawing of a fishing boat using outriggers to tow multiple trolling linesa method of fishing where one or more fishing lines, baited with lures or bait fish, are drawn through the water. This may be behind a moving boat, or by slowly winding the line in when fishing from a static position, or even sweeping the line from side-to-side, e.g. when fishing from a jetty.
In response to the 'Snooper's Charter' that is currently being steered through the House of Commons at the moment, I thought I'd have a go at trolling the Home Secretary Theresa May using Freedom of Information requests.

My first was this one on 4th November, on the website, asking for:-
1) The date, time, and recipient of every email sent by the Home Secretary during October 2015.
2) The date, time, and sender of every email received by the Home Secretary during October 2015.
3) The date, time, and recipient of every internet telephony call (e.g. "Skype" call) made by the Home Secretary during October 2015.
4) The date, time, and sender of every internet telephony call (e.g. "Skype" call) received by the Home Secretary during October 2015.
5) The date, time, and domain address of every website visited by the Home Secretary during October 2015.
This was simply a re-write of an earlier request from a Matt Dodd in April 2012 which had asked for 12 months worth of metadata. It had been refused, quite rightly, because it would have cost over £600 to process. I figured asking for one month would have been a little more doable. Although in researching this write-up I note that a request for one day's worth of similar metadata was refused because of the cost back in 2012.

A few days later, on 7th November, a Ryan Elger made a similar request to my own, asking for the same metadata and additionally internet chat metadata.

Time passes, and except for a few boilerplate notifications that the FoI had been recieved, all was quiet. Come 15th December I submitted a new FoI  seeking just the email and web browsing metadata for November.

The very next day, 16th December a response to both of my FoI's was received refusing my requests:-
We have considered your requests and we believe them to be vexatious. Section 14(1) of the Act provides that the Home Office is not obliged to comply with a request for information of this nature. We have decided that your request is vexatious because it places an unreasonable burden on the department, because it has adopted a scattergun approach and seems solely designed for the purpose of ‘fishing’ for information without any idea of what might be revealed.

The requests are similar in nature to a request the Home Office received in 2014 that the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) agreed was vexatious. The decision notice in question can be found at this link:
So of course, I hooted and hollered, and tweeted a few journos, and received a few retweets.

That was pretty much the end of the matter, until a few days back when I noted an article in Teh Guardian which was essentially all about my FoI requests, without giving me any credit:-
It also follows the rejection of a Freedom of Information Act request to see the date, time and recipient of every email the home secretary sent, every Skype call she made and every website she visited during October and November last year on the grounds that it was “vexatious”. 
The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said the rejection showed that the while the government wanted to push through powers in the bill to give the police and security services’ access to everyone’s weblogs, they were not prepared to release the home secretary’s records.
and whilst Alan Travis didn't mention me in his Guardian article, over on Buzzfeed Jamie Ross did a whole article about me back in December, which I've only just found, a month later:-
In response to the bill, Chris Gilmour submitted an FOI request for May’s internet history but, in a letter from the Home Office this week, was told the “vexatious” request has been rejected because it would put an “unreasonable burden” on the department.
Yeah, we get it, I'm being vexatious.

Over on Reddit in the discussion thread about Teh Guardian, my trolling was quickly seen through:-
[–]p7rLabouršŸŒ¹ 2 points 2 days ago
I presume you expected the FoI requests to be knocked back, and that was in fact the outcome you wanted? My understanding was that ministers were protected from this kind of request by the FoIA so even if they had the data they wouldn't provide it, but I like the point it made: one rule for them, another rule for everybody else.
My response was that it was a win:win situation, either the Home Office knock back the request and we get this story about hypocrisy and double standards, or get get to laugh at what sort of websites the Home Secretary looks at, and have a heap of interesting metadata to do fun datamining experiments on.

Anyhoo, in today's news Private Eye went to town on the Snooper's Charter:-

The piece points out that its not just web-browsers that connect to the internet, its everything on your wifi network, your iKettle, Smart TV, even children's dolls. Imagine, hypothetically, a terrorist plot, where the plotters communicated by messages left on children's dolls, how that could work, could you even just use them to arrange to meet friends?

So at the start of January, I soldiered on with another FoI in a similar vein to before, asking for:-
1) How many different devices with web-browsing functionality the
Home Secretary uses, for example desktop PC, laptop PC, tablets,
smartphones, games consoles.

2) Which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide the internet
connection to the devices enumerated in answer to 1) above.

3) The date, time, and domain address of every website visited by
the Home Secretary during December 2015.
Asking for December's web browser metadata was just to give the Home Office / Theresa May the chance to stop digging, to stop appearing as hypocrites. But I thought the first two questions were a bit more innocent, more practical. If it was going to be a case of the office intern doing a Ctrl+H on all of Theresa's devices, how long would it take? And if they did just whip round the office, would that only harvest the metadata on the House of Common's IP address, or were there several other ISPs involved?

Presumably the Home Secretary is issued a government smartphone which may or may not have the same ISP to the House of Commons estate. Forgive my ignorance but of the Home Office is a separate institution to the House of Commons do they use the same ISP. Theresa's constituency office, would possibly have again a different ISP, Also her Maidenhead home would have an internet connection, again, a different ISP, and if she has a flat in London, would that have again a different ISP.

I dunno.

But the Home Office has again refused to let me know.
We have considered your request and we believe it to be vexatious. Section 14(1) of the Act provides that the Home Office is not obliged to comply with a request for information of this nature. We have decided that your request is vexatious because on three previous occasions you have requested similar information for which you have received responses.
The emboldened text is a little interesting. my request was vexatious because previous requests were vexatious. I'm minded to seek clarification as to whether its just the web browsing metadata question is vexatious or all the questions. But frankly it chills me a little that GCHQ are going to be looking at my own browsing metadata if I push too much.

Is this too much?

So anyhoo, having a blog called Thick Creamy Discharge should be off-putting enough. But last night I had this great idea, registering urls where the address is just a randomly generated number, for example that would be pretty awesome.

Say the snooper's charter becomes law, and it become's standard to have trivial browser plugin that sends out requests to millions of random webpages every time you look at a normal page, thus generating petabytes of incomprehensible metadata.


As an addendum, from this FoI response from the House of Commons in 2013, it seems that the web browsing data is both anonymous and isn't retained by the House of Commons IT department.
4 Please confirm all data collected: for example
- Website URL
- Time/Date accessed
- IP address (sender & recipient)
- individual network user ID & status e.g. staff or MP
- the length of time the above information is retained
The website URL and time/date are held within the system managed by third party on our behalf.
5 Please confirm which individuals and departments were accessing these top 500 websites from within the HOC.
The data held covers both Houses of Parliament. It is not possible to break the data down by House or user type. As the data is anonymous the House of Commons does not hold the information you require.
Other than by having the office intern do Ctrl+H on all of Theresa's computers and tablets and phones and games consoles, they simply don't have the infrastructure to provide the web-browsing data. Maybe one day they will, but I think I'll refrain from making any more FoI requests to find out.

Friday, 23 October 2015

The crushing inevitability of MiData

Yesterday there were news stories about how the average UK consumer could save up £70 a year by changing bank accounts. Unbeknownst to me, the government had launched an initiative months ago, urging banks to allow customers to download their bank account transaction history in a standard format, namely MiData.

MiData is a comma separated value text file, you can open it in NotePad or Excel.

At the moment pretty much the only two things you can do with MiData is faff about with it in a spreadsheet, or upload it to GoCompare who will somehow process it and tell you which bank to change to.

I think GoCompare just looks how far into your overdraft you go and what the average account balance is, they then look at which bank accounts charge and pay what interest and other goodies and make recommendations. Their best recommendation for me was some Yorkshire bank who charge higher interest, but give you a £150 switching bonus, so less of a saving, more like a one-off free gift.

Anyhoo, there's so much more potential and risks involved with MiData.

Years ago I read online, possibly from Worstall, of an idea for banks (with the user's permission) to mine your data and automatically save you money by changing various service providers. For example say your current energy provider charges £30 a month, but other people in your area with the same household size are only paying £20 with a different provider, then the bank would change you over, saving you £10 a month. Presumably the bank would pocket half your saving for a limited period, but since you're paying less, who cares. No bank has done this, probably because of privacy laws.

With MiData, the ability to minedata is outwith your bank. But at the moment, there are no tools, no services. The main risk is that the MiData is just too personal.

When your bank lets you download the MiData, it is "anonymised" which by the looks of things means they remove any account numbers, and anything that look like an account number, just replacing it with asterisks. This only makes it anonymous in that you don't know personal account details, but that's not enough.

As an aside, I understand that some car insurers fit a black box that records your car's speed and time, so that they can insure you appropriately for how safely you drive. I read that some researchers can use this speed data alone to figure out where you are going each day. It takes a bit of datamunging, but presumably if you know the start point and the junction one way is 30 seconds drive and the junction the other way is 50 seconds drive. Any nefarious criminal can map your life just from speed measurements.

Similarly, from MiData, even without account details, it would be trivial to identify a person from their transactions.

For example, looking at petrol stations and supermarkets you can get a feel of where in the UK a person lives and works, they'd do their weekly shop within one or two miles of their house, their regular petrol fill up will be somewhere between their home and their place of work. Or even better their local train station or work train station will be within less than a mile. Occasionally they will be travel or petrol transactions further away, these would be holidays or visiting family members, traditionally some family members stay in the same place where they grew up. Likewise gift purchases will coincide with birthdays. An investigator can get themselves to Linkedin and Facebook and look for people who live in this area, work in another area and grew up some other specific place, and who's partner / parents have birthdays at whatever time of year.

There aren't many people who live in Chingford and work in Hertford, even fewer who grew up in Manchester.

Anyhoo, the cat is out of the bag. Like in the book The Light of Other Days by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke, the post-millenial generation aren't going to give a crap about privacy, compared to the "benefits" of datamining. I imagine that security expert Bruce Schneier would be doing his nut in.

So, having identified a gap in the market, I have an awesome idea for a business that will turn me into the millionaire I've always dreamed of being.

First we create an app or website where people upload their MiData to and the site gives you a neat pie chart showing how you spend your money in categories like supermarket, petrol, Entertainment, etc, and histograms showing how much you spend on each category each month. Just like Quicken used to do before they discontinued the UK version.

Don't worry, your data has already been anonymised by the bank, the government said so.

Then once we have enough people's "anonymised" data, we add some data, like geographic locations for each supermarket, train station and petrol station and cafe, then we offer website users a fancy map showing where they spend. People will think its ace, and Bruce Schneier will start getting worried.

Then we do some more analysis showing how much people in different areas are spending on things, like the aforementioned energy providers, and we can start charging users for recommendations for where to switch to.

Then we can start telling people how many kids we think they have based on their data, and how many bedrooms their house has, recommendations of which car they should buy next, which phone and whether they are engaged in illegal activity, or what things they do that are abnormal.

The problem is that I don't have time to do this, neither have I the skills. Someone else will.

The government will at the same time as encouraging it and providing grants to organisations who can take advantage of the MiData, will also have very legitimate concerns about privacy.

There is a very faint trend on social media for young people, teenagers who have just received their first ever credit card, to post photos of said card and unwittingly give away the security number, so that nefarious people will use their details. Young people can be stupid. Lots of people are stupid and will do stupid things.

The government, and parents too, have a difficult job in weighing up the benefits of things like MiData and credit cards, with the risks. What protective measures will they put in place that are just as much of a ballache as the EU Cookie Directive, that makes you have to click on disclaimers on websites.

Imagine, if you will legislation that protects people's MiData privacy by putting in place some hardcore digital rights management, only allowing special government approved organisations and businesses to view and process, thus no small app developer could play with the data, only GoCompare and the banks and probably government departments, HM Revenue & Customs, and the police, probably hospitals too. Some DRM system that's so encrypted and heavyweight that developers often do raw datadumps, and leave hard disks and DVDs on trains.

This is what happens.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

How many votes to get elected

Its been a while since I blogged but there's a tweet going round at the moment that I think needs to be called out.
You see in this country we don't vote for parties, we vote for people, who may or may not belong to a party, and they, in turn, sort out the government and prime minister amongst themselves

A quick look at the appropriate results page clearly shows that on average approximately* how many votes each winning candidate received:
CON: 24,500
SNP: 23,500
GRN: 22,900
UKIP: 19,600
LAB: 17,700
LD: 17,000
PC: 12,900

Of course, this is just semantics, but its easy enough to faff about with numbers.

For example, the various candidates didn't actually need that many votes to win their constituency, all they needed were more votes than the next best candidate, which gives the following approximate numbers:
UKIP: 16,200
GRN: 14,900
SNP: 13,900
LD: 13,800
CON: 10,600
LAB: 9,600
PC: 8,000

* I didn't mong all the numbers for all the seats, so this is just a representative sample for CONS, LAB and SNP

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Thick Creamy Podcast 12-10-2013

Here's the twenty-third Thick Creamy Podcast, this time featuring nine tracks from four awesome bands recorded live at three great gigs.

The podcast features tracks from:-
Giant Burger
Council Tax Band
Left Leg
Victories at Sea
The Chickenwing Allstars

So aye, it was weeks and weeks ago, at the start of September that I staggered to Dalston and that lovely venue, Power Lunches to catch the mighty might Giant Burger band. I follow them on twitter, not entirely sure why, but they nice people who make pleasant music.

Puffer at The Shacklewell Arms
There were a few other bands on the bill that night, the Council Tax Band, Left Leg and Care. Of those three, I think Council Tax Band were my favourite.

Two weeks later I was back in Dalston, this time at The Shacklewell Arms.

The Vuvuvultures at The Shacklewell Arms
It was my first time at the place, it was a little confusing, the chap working the door to the venue seemed to only start letting people in after the first band had started, so there were only five or so people in the audience for Puffer, a heavy thrashy sort of band.

After them were a mob down from Birmingham called Victories at Sea. They had lots of high tech equipment, keyboards and synths. I liked them, but sometimes I fear that I just get seduced by backing tracks and wibbly effects.

Headlining the night were the Vuvuvultures, who are the most awesome band I've seen in this decade. Last time I'd seen them play live was at The Lexington in May last year. They were lovely.

The Chickenwing Allstars at The Birkbeck Tavern
And were even kind enough to let me know the set list after the gig so I could markup my bootleg recordings properly.

Finishing off the podcast is two tracks from a gig I was at last night, the Chickenwing Allstars playing at The Birkbeck Tavern in Leytonstone.

I'd last seen them at a festival thing in Brixton. It was nice to see them in a more intimate venue. They play reggae dub jazz soul, and a pleasant cover of The Prodigy's Out of Space.

Its not often you get to hear trombone with dub reverb.

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Sunday, 22 September 2013

Thick Creamy Podcast 28-09-2013

Here's the twenty-second Thick Creamy Podcast, four awesome bands recorded live at the Skins party thing at Proud Camden in London.

Bloomer at Proud Galleries in Camden, August 2013
The podcast features tracks from Fulhast, Bloomer, The Understudies and Cosines

Sadly I missed most of the first band of the night, Fulhast, but I've seen him before countless times, he's awesome. It was one of those situations where you know you need to leave the house to get somewhere in time, but there's just one more thing you need to check online, then you can't find your tape recorder, and your camera isn't where you think it is, then when you actually get to the right part of time there's no where to park the car, and you think maybe you should have gotten the tube, but then you'd be even later, so you should have left earlier.

And that's why I missed most of his set.

The Understudies at Proud Galleries in Camden, August 2013
If you love lo-fi guitar and Gameboy backing tracks, you'll love Fulhast. I like his songs about getting on with life after breaking up with your girlfriend. There's a time in everyone's life...

Next up were the mighty Bloomer, who were noisy and guitary, which is nice. The first time I saw them, a few days earlier at the Night of the Triffids All-Dayer, I wasn't too convinced, but they're starting to grow on me.

Also, their latest release 'Back to the shadows' is on purple and lilac cassette.

Its always good to see The Understudies, which was lucky as they were playing.

Cosines at Proud Galleries in Camden, August 2013
Headlining the night were Cosines, who I've seen play live pretty frequently over the last year or so. It always hard to chose which track of theirs to put on the podcast, the storming one which everyone dances to, the one with amusing lyrics and the video with sailors, the one with a sixties wig-out ending, the one I put on a previous podcast, the latest single?

This time I've chosen by throwing a dart at iTunes and picking whichever one it hits.

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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Thick Creamy Podcast 29-06-2013

Here's the twentieth Thick Creamy Podcast, two and a half bands recorded live from the Big Pink Cake night at The Betsey Trotwood in London.

The podcast features tracks from Fireworks, Flowers and Fever Dream.

Flowers at The Betsey Trotwood
in a more introspective moment
Sadly I missed most of the first band of the night, Young Romance, I was stuck in traffic around Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters Road, where there is a Transport for London scheme to improve the road layout. Its quite a big civil engineering job and will take about eighteen months to finish.

So when we rolled up at The Betsey, The Fireworks were just finishing up, I only caught the last minute of their set. They sounded awesome.

The thirdish act were were Flowers, who were even more awesome than usual.

The final act of the night were Fever Dream, who I'd last seen at the Tipsy Bar eight months ago, and then before that at The Windmill.

Its possible to subscribe to these Thick Creamy Podcasts on iTunes so they download automagically every time I put up a new one. Simply go into the 'Advanced' menu in iTunes, click 'Subscribe to Podcast' and then paste in this rss feed

and that should give you all the podcasts, forever.