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Energise!

I don’t often return to subjects that I have written about before but today (1st November 2017) I was reminded of something that happened way back in 2012 when I had just started my all-time favourite I.T. contract – with Associated British Foods.

I was on my (and indeed the whole embryonic team’s) first assignment at the unwholesome sounding Speedibake Bakery in Wakefield and Bradford which I wrote about here: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/ in my “On the road again” series.

I cannot recall with total certainly which of the two factories the incident I was reminded of took place at but I think it was Bradford. Before I tell you about it, though, I see on re-reading the article the above link leads to, that I have also never mentioned an amusing occurrence that definitely occurred at the Wakefield site.

Our workroom at the Wakefield site was a large conference room normally used by, and sharing a kitchen with, the New Products Department and it was while putting Windows 7 onto one of that department’s computers that I had a bright idea – Savoury Doughnuts!

I developed the thought a bit and mentioned it to the Departmental Manager while we were both making coffee in the shared kitchen. I postulated, instead of the usual jam or custard fillings, gravy, Bovril, Marmite or Peanut Butter and he seemed to be good-naturedly humouring me.

When, however, I made the suggestion that instead of powdered sugar, they should be coated in salt the good-natured smile vanished instantly and was replaced by white-lipped anger!

“Don’t ever say THAT!” he almost hissed at me in a furious voice.

Then, realising the shock that this response to a perfectly innocent (if somewhat odd) suggestion had caused on my own face, he forced himself back under control.

“I’m sorry”, he relented, “it’s just that…” he shuddered, “we did that by accident once – it lost a whole day’s doughnut production and a number of quality control inspectors got sacked for not noticing!”

I never ever mentioned Savoury Doughnuts at that site again. I still think it’s a good idea though!

Anyway, as I explained in the previous article we were under some time pressure at Speedibake on account of our Windows 7 migration activities blowing up the main server at Wakefield and having to move to Bradford (who were not ready for us) while they got it fixed. Once we did start rebuilding Bradford PCs we were several days behind and having to work longer hours to catch up. As by far the oldest on the team I was feeling really drained by the end of each day and asked some of my new friends staying at the same Bed & Breakfast establishment if they had any ideas as to how I could get over this.

They advised me that they coped by consuming energy drinks and recommended the one called “Relentless” a cheaper version (but with similar ingredients) of the stronger and more well Known “Red Bull”. I duly bought a couple of cans from the late-opening supermarket opposite the B&B for consumption the next day.

I worked perfectly normally the next morning, rebuilding or replacing 3 of my allotted 6 computers for the day then restoring all the user data to them exactly on schedule but after lunch felt that I was losing my edge a little. I remembered the Relentless and duly drank down a full half litre can!

Unfortunately, my friends Stuart and Paul had failed to mention to me that they took the occasional sip of the stuff, making one of those cans last for several hours and failed to consider what the effects of a whole can might be on a metabolism that hadn’t experienced it before!

My head was buzzing and my heart was racing like never before! Far from just keeping me going, whatever it was that stuff was made from turned me into a one man Windows 7 migrating machine! I located a bank of 6 desks in a block; 3 of which were earmarked for me that afternoon and the other 3 also to me the next morning. It turned out that the owners of those 6 computers were either on holiday or at a conference for 2 days so I started all 6 at once!

Four needed  rebuilds of the existing machine and the other two had to have the data extracted and then replaced in brand new machines – a much quicker job as we already had a stock of newly built machines with all the correct software on. The rebuild process (if you’re interested) involved, essentially, cocooning the user data, sliding the new operating system in over the old one, then “exploding” the compressed old data back to its proper place in the new set up. That took about 2 to 3 hours per machine but in my hyperactive state I was doing four of them concurrently after the fashion of a circus plate-spinner!

As we finished our tasks we would return to the workroom to tick them off on our big white board and I, as normal, wasn’t first back. When I did return (no-one left until we had all finished) there was no surprise when I filled in my afternoon allocation but shock when I then moved to the next day’s list and ticked off half of my ones on there!

I don’t know if it was concern at what drinking more “Relentless” would do to my health, or if the other guys thought I was making them look bad but I was asked not to have any more – at least not a whole can! I was happy to comply – it gave me a terrible headache later and I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. From then on I just did what was assigned to me but that high speed afternoon helped us to catch up and finish the site on schedule.

At the start of this piece I said “I was reminded…..” of the events above and you may have been wondering what it was that brought it all back.

Well, I was on the bus into Peterborough for my Library volunteer work last week when a couple got on in Orton Goldhay (not the best part of town). There was an abundance of tattoos and muscles (and HE looked quite hard too!) and they sat down very pointedly in the seats marked for use by elderly or disabled passengers. The woman seemed to be anticipating some murmur of complaint about this because she anticipated it by announcing to all and sundry that she has a heart condition and was on her way to hospital for an operation on a faulty valve!

There was no response and having satisfied herself that she had settled the issue she reached into her bag, pulled out a large can of Red Bull and proceeded to drink the whole thing straight down.

This of course is what got me thinking about my own experience with such energy drinks and I watched with interest to see if a faulty heart would behave any more spectacularly than my healthy one had. She may have exploded later but not until after I had left the bus!

And that my children is what journalism is about – you take a short and uninteresting anecdote and turn it into a 1230 word story!

Alfie

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Posted by on November 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Unpublished Symphonies – Part 2.

This is the second and last of my resuscitated informative pieces intended for a Company Intranet and found alone and unloved in a folder on the USB stick that holds all my scribblings. It does, before you ask, get backed up to various places from time to time – I’ve lost things before!

I hope it is of some use to those of you still working and possibly experiencing the issues covered without necessarily understanding why they are happening.

***

The view from the Service Desk #2 – Let me in!

Yes, another song title! This time you have to be old enough to remember 1974 and The Osmonds.

It should also be apparent that this is about User Accounts and Passwords and it is very important that the “Do’s” and Don’ts” that I am about to tell you are followed.

I am assuming for this purpose that you are having trouble with a networked computer at your place of work – if the problem is with the security of a personal PC that is a whole different thing and there may not be a simple solution!

By “having trouble” I mean that you have come to your desk in the morning, switched on the computer, entered your username and password as normal and either nothing happens or error messages appear! Either way, you cannot get to your nice desktop picture and start your work.

Here are some possible causes and their solutions that you can try for yourself before calling your hard-pressed helpdesk.

  1. Have you entered your username correctly? I know it sounds like a silly question but different companies have different formats for usernames and it is easy (especially if you have recently changed jobs) to unthinkingly type in a previous name.As an example I have been around quite a few different companies doing IT contract work and have had “AlfieLittle”, “AlfieL”, LittleA, LittleA2 (there had been another Little Alfie in the company a few years earlier) and sometimes a separate variation of some of those with “Admin” after the name. I often had to stop and think which one of those applied!
  1. Have you put in the correct password? Each of the user accounts I mentioned in the previous paragraph had a different password associated with it and I’m sure you can see that the scope for getting it wrong is huge! The trouble is that fingers, NOT brains, normally type passwords and you may need to concentrate for a while after you get a new one to enable your typing fingers to learn a new “reflex”. Even if you eventually realise and get the right password the damage may have been done in that most companies computer login accounts “lock out” after three incorrect attempts. Where they vary is in what happens next. Some require you to wait a set length of time (from 5 to 30 minutes is normal) while others are completely unforgiving and have to be unlocked manually by either I.T. or some trusted person in your locality who has been given instruction on how to do this. You won’t be the first to do this so there will be someone around who can tell you if such a “local champion” exists.
  1. If you are sure that you have the correct password for the associated username, are you typing what you think you are? Most of the time your username may be typed in UPPER or lower case letters without it making a scrap of difference but the password is another thing entirely. They are always case sensitive and if you have typed your name with the “caps lock” key switched on but have not turned it off again you may unknowingly be getting the password wrong. As you normally cannot see what you are typing in the password box the best way to check this is to type the password in the username box to see if what is appearing is what you are expecting. I once dealt with a situation where my caller had accidentally (?) changed his settings to the French keyboard and pressing the key with a particular letter printed on it was actually producing a totally different letter.
  1. Is it possible that your password has expired? Different companies have different password policies and one of the most variable is how long they last. I have experienced password durations of anywhere between 30 and 180 days but theoretically they could be either shorter or longer than that. However, more than 6 months becomes a security risk and less than 1 month means the IT Department needs to make lots of password resets when it should be doing something more useful! Usually (although this is often denied by people calling the Helpdesk) a little pop-up window appears on screen anything up to 2 weeks before the password is due to expire and if clicked on will immediately prompt you on how to change it. Many people leave this until the message says “…will expire in 1 day” which is, in fact too late! That message actually means that you are already in that last day and if you last changed your password at, say 10.00 on a particular day it will expire at 9.59 and 59 seconds at the end of the required number of days. It should still be possible to reset it yourself but regrettably many people don’t read what is actually showing on the screen and yell for Support on the assumption that it is the computer that is not behaving correctly.
  1. Are you a “temp” or a new employee? The username and password are how you access your computer account – the account itself can have various things set before you ever try to log in to it and one of those is an expiry date independent of any password rule. What sometimes happens with Contractors, Temporary staff or even full-timers with an initial probationary period is that the account is set up with a perfectly reasonable “end date”. Unfortunately then the Human Resources Department or some level of the person’s Line Management forgets to tell I.T. when that date ceases to apply for any reason and the account turns itself off as it was set to. If there is a possibility that this is what has happened it may be worth getting the person who should have done so earlier to contact IT before you do – I.T. almost certainly won’t be allowed to reactivate your account just on your say-so but if the proper authority precedes your call there should be no problem and your old name and password should still apply.

Once you have ruled out all of the above possibilities, taken the suggested steps and still cannot log in there is one more thing to do before you throw this in the lap of the I.T Department – check your network cable!

I worked in a place once where laptop wielding members of staff from other offices would frequently visit and, rather than muck about trying to obtain authority to be given the local Wi-Fi password, they would unplug the network cable from the PC on the desk they had temporarily taken over and make use of that. After checking emails or some such routine task they would then unplug the cable and whizz off to their meeting, leaving the loose cable to drop, unnoticed, down the back of the desk.

Next day, enter you, the regular user of the PC and off you go, logging in as usual. Nothing happens because unlike that of a laptop the login process on a desktop PC needs a connection to the Domain Controller server on the network to validate the details and, unknown to you, it doesn’t now have it! Plug the cable back in, restart the PC then seek out the offender and beat them about the head with an old keyboard!

[Alfie’s real name]

Service Desk Analyst

***

Alfie

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

And then one day you find “x” years have got behind you!

Every time I try to write something that ISN’T looking back in time, someone or something comes along and reminds me of a significant anniversary that definitely requires some comment from me.

Previous such pieces have included my 30th Wedding Anniversary (in 2010); the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13 (also 2010); the 40 year mark since the first moon landing (in 2009) and the 497th (?) anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (in 2012).

As a child who grew up in the 1960s – known as a decade of momentous changes and events – I am fully expecting that a LOT of 50 year old happenings are going to require my personal “I was there” recollections in the coming months and years. Indeed there are already 2 more “historicals” in progress.

I have, in fact, already failed to comment on (to name but a few) the half century celebrations of:

  • Yuri Gagarin’s “first man in space” trip in the Soviet spacecraft Vostock 1 (1961).
  • John Glenn’s “first American orbital spaceflight” in the Project Mercury capsule “Friendship 7” (1962 – on my 9th birthday, actually).
  • My favourite TV Sci-fi series “Doctor Who” (1963 – although as it concerns time travel it could be older).
  • The England football team actually winning a World Cup competition (1966 – so we are now up to “51 years of hurt”!)

And now another significant one has just gone by – this time from the area that has had the most influence on me during those years – music!

But if you’ve read the “CD of My Life” series here, you already know that. If you haven’t, you should be able to pull the whole series up in one go by clicking on the appropriate “Category” in the side menu.

Yes, we have indeed passed the 50th birthday of THE iconic album of the 1960s (some would insist on saying ONE of the iconic albums of that decade but let’s not be pedantic)!

I speak, of course, of the short-lived (only 8 years) phenomenon that was The Beatles and their ground-breaking 1967 album “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”!

From its distinctive cover, via the innovative cut-outs on the inset card to the array of musical styles from “pop” to “eastern hippy” to “downright quirky” – there had been nothing remotely like it before and I remember the unfolding sense of wonder I experienced when one of the Pirate Radio stations played it in its entirety.

Mind you, that sense of wonder at new sounds came to me quite a lot in those days – I recall it happening the very first time I heard “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys.

And mentioning them reminds me of the transatlantic creative feedback that was, at least partially, responsible for “Sgt. Pepper…” – Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was apparently so impressed with the earlier Beatles effort “Rubber Soul” that it inspired him to produce “Pet Sounds” which, in turn so impressed Lennon, McCartney and Co. that they wrote “Sgt. Pepper… ” to try to surpass it!

Who knows, if Brian hadn’t then lost the plot a bit they might still be at it, trying eternally to outdo each other!

At around the same time (actually July 1967) and premiered on the first global TV communications satellite link-up, The Beatles also ushered in what became known as “the summer of love” with another mind-blower – “All You Need is Love”. So that’s another anniversary covered!

Incidentally, before we leave Beatlemania behind us, can I just point out that if you happen to think that “Sgt. Pepper…” was NOT the best thing that band ever did – you will get no argument from me! In my humble opinion many tracks on the previous “Revolver” album were much better but for a total musical experience they actually hit the jackpot on 26th September 1969 (commemorating the end of my first week at work) with the release of “Abbey Road”. I return to that one far more often than any other of their works.

I’m not at all sure that I’m totally happy with this “time passing” stuff!  It was first really bought home to me by a trip that Faith and I made last summer to The Shuttleworth Collection (a museum for still functional old aeroplanes) near Bedford. I had first visited it on a school trip and was, frankly, appalled to realise that a Sopwith Pup biplane of 1916 vintage was now TWICE as old as when I first saw it in 1966.

This means that 1966 is now further away from me than some bits of the First World War were in 1966 – and WWI was incredibly ancient history then while 1966 is just YESTERDAY now!

The problem, of course, is that external time moves on while my internal time stopped advancing when I was about 26 – and I suppose there’s nothing I can do about either of them!

Alfie

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The view from the tarmac!

Today Faith and I visited my old mum in Ipswich (the adjective “old” is just a factual description of her and is not meant to imply that I have another, newer, mother stashed away somewhere) and spotted a couple of things on the 100 mile trip there from Peterborough. I thought that I should share these with you along with my usual smart-arse comments!

In driving along the A14 one meets (often too closely for comfort) every possible variety of Heavy Goods Vehicle hauling all sizes of trailers or containers conveying the goods of just about every major retail company!

I noted with some concern that supermarket chain ASDA still has the “Saving you money every day!” slogan on the back of its trucks – you may recall that I gave you my reasons for objecting to this here: https://littlealfie.wordpress.com/2014/09/

Obviously their legal department is not amongst my readership!

It was, however, another slogan on the back of a lorry that caught my eye to the extent that I had to whip out my ever-present notebook and write it down. I was doing this while Faith was moving out into the “Executive Lane” to go past it so I didn’t actually get to see what company it belonged to.

What’s that?  “What do I mean by the Executive Lane?”

I don’t understand – you didn’t seriously think that the overtaking lane of dual carriageway roads or motorways was for use by the likes of you or me, did you? Oh no! You just ask any driver of a company owned BMW, Audi, Lexus or other top of the range make and you’ll find that this lane is indeed for the use of Company Executives and top Managers.

This explains their reluctance to let you out into that lane and the aggressive way they will hammer up behind you if you aren’t going as fast as they think you should!

Given my oft-stated antipathy to people in authority who aren’t as bright as I am, it also explains why I don’t take any notice of this aggression and why, when I do have no reason to hold them up any further my move back to my “proper place” is done as slowly and in as insolent a fashion as I can possibly manage! I just hope that the poor benighted workers that these people are on their way to repress appreciate my efforts in keeping them out of the office for a few more seconds!

ANYWAY….. back at the truck on the A14 – the words that I wrote down (which had no punctuation that I could see and which were capitalised as shown here) were:

Eat Healthy British Chicken

From this I drew the conclusion that the vehicle belonged to some sort of Poultry farmer or supplier but that had nothing to do with the remark that I made to my long-suffering wife when I looked up from my notebook.

Displaying my usual talent for looking at things in entirely the wrong way I indignantly commented:

“Why do they need to specify ‘Healthy’? Surely no-one is out there foisting UNHEALTHY British Chicken on us! If they are, I want to know about it now!”

The second note that I made was somewhere around Bury St. Edmunds when we came upon an unannounced speed limit with no apparent purpose. We were suddenly reduced from the normal 70mph limit to one of 50mph and there was no sign of any work going on – not even the sometimes seen team of minor criminals doing Community Service litter picks! A little way in there was a small and easily missed explanatory notice at the side of the road – a sign simple in its message but asking more questions than it answered:

“SPEED LIMIT IN PLACE FOR SAFETY REASONS”!

Do you see what I mean? The list begins:

Whose safety?

What reasons?

Why 50mph – why not 40?

What is the normal purpose of speed limits then? There I was thinking that they were ALL there for “safety reasons” – if I’m wrong it must mean they’re only actually present because of some official’s personal whim and the revolutionary in me is starting to fire up!

I’ll let you debate that one amongst yourselves – for now I’ll just say that it is just as daft as the signs that were present along that same road a little nearer Ipswich a few years ago.

They had installed a whole series of those matrix message boards (I believe it was so that they could inform HGV drivers if bad weather at the East Coast ports necessitated parking up under an “Operation Stack” arrangement) but every single one of them had a yellow board at its base proclaiming “This notice board is not working”!

I always said that they could have saved an awful lot of yellow printed plastic if they’d have just lit up the boards and put the “…..not working” message on them!

Alfie

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

“Alfie-leaks” – stranger than truth!

The item that follows may, or may not, have come to my attention via an alleged Home Office official who may, or may not, have been telling the truth but as a good journalist I will tell you anyway! We never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

This is the report that I may, or may not, have received.

***

The Civil Service fully expects that the separation of the United Kingdom from the European Union (so-called “Brexit”) will not be accomplished without some concessions on our part over European citizens currently working here.

However, HM Home Office is making plans on the assumption that future migration from the EU will be rigorously controlled by a points-based quota system. Such points will be awarded on criteria such as:

  • Having a job offer already made by a UK employer.
  • Not having such a job offer but prepared to sign an agreement to do any low-paid, menial, dirty or physically demanding work that the UK Jobcentre organisation cannot find a UK resident willing to do.
  • Not having such a job offer but having a private income in excess of the average UK earnings (and being prepared to pay UK tax on it).
  • Being able to speak English as well or better than the average UK 15 year-old youth.
  • Having a personal friend in the Home Office.

An amendment has been proposed suggesting that bonus points could be awarded if, as further proof of the applicant’s pro-UK sentiments, he/she produces evidence in the form of itemised telephone bills in their native country showing that, from May 2017 onwards, they have called the requisite number (on more than one occasion) to vote for the UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.

It is not clear at present whether sufficient EU residents will, in fact, wish to come here strongly enough to make this amendment workable.

***

It has been suggested to me that the “proposed amendment” was put forward by the BBC in a blatant attempt to curtail the future expenses claims of Graham Norton and Ken Bruce but be that as it may, I firmly believe that it is very definitely in the public interest for this document to be shared (as it stands) across Europe as quickly as possible and certainly before the evening of Saturday 13th May 2017. We wouldn’t want any potentially useful newcomers to the UK workforce to miss out on those valuable extra quota points, now would we?

Please do your best and do not be afraid to contact me with any other “official” items of this sort that may, or may not, come your way.

Alfie (who may, or may not, be in hiding in some South American embassy at this time)

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Nanny State etc.….. Part 2

This is a follow-up to my previous post! You remember – the one about some anonymous jerk who decided I couldn’t buy a specific packet of screws for sporting equipment, just because I happened to be in a public library!

I feel it necessary to tell you the rest of the story – I know very well that some people will say “Why bother, it won’t change anything” and I am perfectly aware of that! However, writing down the things that annoy me here gets them off my chest and stops me from going on about them at home all the time! Well, maybe it doesn’t stop all of the moaning but it certainly reduces it anyway!

To add further to my bad feelings about the SERCO Internet Access Policy I went back into the Library on Wednesday afternoon (that is, the day after the previously documented events) and worked in the back office on one of their own PCs (for which I have a Staff user account). In my break I tried accessing the Merlin Archery website from that computer and there was no problem at all! It seems that all leisure services staff in Peterborough including Library staff must have been surreptitiously vetted by SERCO and there are no Vigilante Archers, Psychopaths or Slaughterers of our Furry Friends amongst us. That’s good to know! It’s plainly only the general public that are a risk……….to the general public!

To take the story further, when I was able to order the screws (and a nice shiny bow-stand to rest my weapon on when not shooting) I had missed the deadline for Tuesday and the Royal Mail 48 hour parcel delivery did not start counting until the next morning. This meant it was due on Friday and while I waited in as long as I could, eventually I had to admit defeat and went off to push my mother-in-law around the supermarket in her wheelchair. Naturally about 5 minutes after we left the parcel arrived and I returned home to find the ubiquitous “we called – you were out card” waiting for me.

I had to wait for the next working day (Saturday) before the parcel could be picked up from the local sorting office and we were due to go away for the weekend on Saturday morning, coming back sometime on Monday – on the evening of which day the next practice was scheduled!

So, in order to have any chance of getting the sight mounting fixed properly, I had to get up at a ludicrously early hour on Saturday morning to get to the Sorting Office pickup point as soon as possible after its 7 a.m. opening time and then rush home again to utilise the parcel contents.

Fortunately some swift work with a screwdriver saw the appropriate small piece of metal attached FIRMLY to the handle of the bow and it performed admirably on Monday evening to the extent that I came remarkably close to “Doing a Robin Hood” – which is Archers’ slang for hitting one arrow up the end of the previous one! I’m actually rather glad I was a little bit off target there as the arrows I use cost about £8 a go!

Still, I do wonder if anyone at SERCO knows what inconvenience and rushing about resulted from their arbitrary decision to block me from a site where all I wanted to do was buy a packet of screws of a specific length, diameter and thread type for a specific LEGAL purpose!

On reflection, I feel that even if they did know, they wouldn’t actually change anything – the kind of people who feel they know much better than you what you want to look at on-line would probably be so convinced of their own rightness that the possibility of the existence of a valid but contrary argument would be an alien concept!

O.K. I feel better now – and I promise that‘s the last word on that particular annoyance.

Alfie

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Nanny State – Darwin’s Enemy!

I do not often write pieces like this exactly as they happen but having just experienced an example of someone with power but no legitimate authority making decisions for me, I felt it was necessary.

Let me explain.

Last night I went to practice night at my Archery Club with the new equipment that I purchased at great expense in Loughborough last week (the club lets you borrow their gear free of charge for 6 weeks but after that you need to have your own).

One of the bits I didn’t have to buy was an adjustable bowsight because my younger daughter purchased a complete set of Archery gear for me from a colleague at her workplace who has given up the sport. Much of this turns out to be too small for me and will be sold on but the sight is good quality and is reusable. It was duly connected to my new handle.

Anyway I turned up at practice and was soon shooting off my fancy new Aluminium/Carbon Fibre arrows – with some success.

Until, that is, about 30 minutes in – when the sight fell off!

Following a bit of swift detective work I found that the screws holding it to the handle, which I had pinched off the old bow were fractionally too small for the standard-sized holes in the new kit – apparently standards change over the years!

So new screws need to be obtained and the obvious place to get the right ones seemed (to me anyway) to be the place I bought the Bow. Now I have no intention of driving a 120 mile round trip to Loughborough and back again, including the rather confusing Leicester Ring Road, just to buy a packet of screws so an online purchase was obviously needed.

Tuesday morning at the library saw my two current students in the beginners’ course working merrily through the on-line training without too many questions so I decided to whip out my trusty laptop PC and do a spot of on-line purchasing using the Library’s Public Wi-Fi. I opened a browser window and headed for Merlin Archery’s site.

Enter Nanny!

A huge red banner appeared on my screen bearing the words “THIS CONTENT HAS BEEN BLOCKED BECAUSE IT DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE ACCEPTABLE USAGE POLICY”! It then went on to tell me that my request to access it “has been logged” and I imagine that if the sound hadn’t been muted klaxons would have been going off to lead the Improper Usage Squad directly to me!

To be fair, the message does go on to tell me exactly how I have transgressed the unwritten code:

Category – Personal Weapons, Safe Content Filetypes, Hunting and Sporting, Web Content

Reason – Content of type Personal Weapons (Content filtering) blocked.

So basically, the Library, or more accurately SERCO who provide IT Services for it, have made an arbitrary decision on my behalf that I should not want to go to a particular web site because the things it sells are dangerous!

Who decided that THAT was unacceptable and why then can I browse d-i-y shops (I know I can – I tried) using the same connection and stare without restriction or alarm bells at large, cuddly, sharp axes and big, soft, heavy sledgehammers? With them I could commit much more mayhem on my fellow humans than I could manage with a bow and eight arrows (especially since I can’t aim them properly at present)! So why aren’t B&Q, Wickes etc. blocked then?

Possibly some bleeding heart at SERCO has no objection to sporting goods capable of being used as weapons per se and it may be that the operative word in the “category” mentioned above is “Hunting” – a site selling equipment that some vicious bastard could use to kill little furry creatures obviously needs its access blocking! Plainly, they haven’t seen me out in Lynch Wood chucking Homebase axes at squirrels.

It is all part of the culture that sees takeaway coffee cups contain warnings about the possibility of them containing hot liquids (personally I’d want my money back if they didn’t) or, in a similar vein, the sign that used to be affixed to the radiators in the coffee shop at a nearby country park. “This radiator may become HOT”! Really? Is that a design fault or something?

The Nanny State is everywhere – you cannot now do anything without someone inflicting either their own opinion of what you should look at or making it actually illegal to do almost anything that might be the tiniest bit dangerous. Who gives these people these powers over us? I’ve certainly never read anything about such laws in any political manifesto which means we’ve never actually voted on that issue and “someone” has simply imposed their own will on us.

But don’t get me started on Health & Safety – I’ve already done a bit about that which you can find in the Archives back at 6th April 2010. It may just be time for me to brush off the scrolling screensaver that I mentioned there: “Health & Safety – keeping idiots in the human gene pool”!

Oh, and I’d just like to say to SERCO that I went home, accessed the Merlin Archery website from my woefully unrestricted home PC, ordered the bloody screws and all without harming a single living creature! So the only effect your stupid ban had was to make me extremely annoyed (which no-one should EVER want to do) and to wish for something really unpleasant (such as tripping over a huge pile of Risk Assessment forms) to happen to your I.T. Policy Manager!

Alfie

 

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Uncategorized