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Today the news has been all about the police building relationships with the black community in and around London. The police are often accused of being racist. Interesting statistics such as stop and search figures are banded about and on the face of it they do appear to suggest that race is an issue. It’s said that for every one white person stopped in London 4 black people are stopped. This seems disturbingly unfair. However the police state that they will only stop and search people if they have reasonable suspicion of wrong doing. However as reported by Mark Easton on the BBC yesterday the polices own figures indicate that 27% of stop and searches have no reasonable grounds. Much of his seems to be down to what the police class as “Reasonable grounds”. The term is completely subjective, what is reasonable to someone who wants to catch a criminal is not likely to be reasonable to the person being stopped. The statistics get worse when you look back at the 2010 criminal justice statistics which seem to indicate that not only are the stop and search figures skewed but so are the average custodial sentences. Again the black community seem to have the higher average sentences. That or I’m reading the figures incorrectly.
So is the answer to spend more time building relationships with communities? Alternately would we rather the police focussed solely on solving crime regardless of who is committing it. The path will surely be a combination of the two however the second option totally relies on trust and do we trust these old institutions?
Dear Someone who gives a damn about your customers,
I’m writing to you to let you know about some fairly major issues I’ve had with your services in the hope that you both improve them and provide compensation for my troubles.
On the 22nd of September you sent me some marketing email offering me a birthday discount via Origin. I used this to purchase Mass Effect 3 and managed to get a fair amount into the game. On the 3rd of October however this game went missing from Origin completely. This is when my trouble really began.
Firstly there appears to be no documented way to contact anyone within your company. Sure you can go through a very convoluted FAQ system to be dumped into a page that only lets you log an issue online but that issue (apart from the obligatory automated email) does nothing. The trouble however stars before this when you attempt to use your Origin credentials to login to the helpdesk. In both Chrome and IE the Ajax spinner just sits there forever on the screen. I presume this is a bug and not an attempt to stop people logging calls. I am presuming this as rather suspiciously you provide no other means to log a complaint. No telephone number, no documented complaints process and no address for when you decide that the only means of recourse is a small claims court decision. Anyway luckily I tried opening another tab in the same browser window and in that one the process had logged me in. However once the call was logged no action was taken on your part at all.
My next attempt at getting some form of response from your company lead me to trawling forums in order to get a telephone number for customer services. After 30 minutes of reading peoples issues with your complete contempt for your customers I actually found a telephone number. This in turn left me with two calls to your company each involved being on hold for up to 40 minutes. The first call finally got picked up by a service team in Ireland. A word of advice on the service desk front. Don’t have other operatives in the background taking the piss out of customers. It doesn’t sound very professional and you would be surprised how much you can hear over headset microphones. Anyway I was told that Paypal had cancelled my transaction and there was nothing that EA could do about it and that I should phone Paypal. So I did this. Amazingly for such a large company I easily found the contact number and when I rang them they picked up the call and dealt with my problem without having to wait on hold for 40 minutes. You might want to aim for that kind of services, I’d advise your head of Customer Support to give it a try. Paypal told me that there was nothing on the system to show any cancellation and that there was no way for them to cancel the transaction anyway. So I rang your company for a second time, I clearly like getting my fingers burnt. This time (after the 40 minute wait) I got through and was then put on hold again while my case was looked into (another 10 minutes) at which point I was told that the license for the game had been revoked because the payment was cancelled. However the people on the service desk had no way of finding out why it was cancelled or who requested it. I certainly had not. They did tell me that usually in this situation me entire account would be locked so really I was lucky. I suspect this too would disable my ability to not login to your help pages which meant I wouldn’t be able to find out why you had taken my money and not supplied the services I had paid for. I asked the member of the services team to contact the finance team and find out why. He said it would do this and they would email be shortly. I also asked that my service ticket be updated to reflect this. So far no contact from your finance team and no update on my ticket. This leads me to the conclusion that nothing has been done. The payment wasn’t cancelled as you still have my money and I have no way of getting the game I paid for back. This to me sounds very much like theft but as I only work for a law firm and am not a judge I will leave this up them to decide unless you can resolve this matter in a timely manner.
Lastly although I understand your desire to drop Origin onto the market place don’t you think it would be a good idea to get it out of Beta first? I mean Ubisoft tried to grab a piece of the Steam pie and failed giving most of its customers details to the world. Your provision is unfortunately worse than theirs, I struggle to find the justification for selling a product online with no shipped media, no physical production costs for more than you can purchase the product in the shop. It seems extremely misguided but that is your choice.
Awaiting some form of response,]]>
Last chance to be heard.
Has the Home Office made it clear what it hopes to achieve through the draft Bill?
No, there seems to be several high level objectives along the lines of (National security, crime prevention and detection) but none seem to have detailed analysis into how this bill will specifically address these objectives.
Has the Government made a convincing case for the need for the new powers proposed in the draft Bill?
The bill adds a presumption to guilt onto every person in this country. No member of parliament would agree to have all of their physical mail or all of their face to face conversations monitored and recorded as it would be against their civil liberties. The same should be true of every form of communication. If there is suspicion of wrong doing then let the courts decide if monitoring is an adequate response instead of monitoring the majority of people who are doing nothing wrong.
It also presumes that the people who are communicating about things of interested be they criminal or of national importance won’t be encrypting the content or adjusting the details of what is being sent to who. It’s the same mentality as internet providers blocking direct access to piracy sites, this only stops people who wouldn’t be using them accessing them. Anyone who wants to use them knows how to access them via other means. In the same way this is only going to capture information on people who don’t want to be talking via secure means.
How do the proposals in the draft Bill fit within the wider landscape on intrusion into individuals’ privacy?
The bill is clearly highly intrusive. The vast majority of people do nothing wrong and yet you want to capture data on all of them. How can this be posed as a reasonable response to crime or national security.
Are there any alternative proposals with regard to the technique and cost of obtaining communications data that the Government could consider?
Yes, let the courts decide on a case by case basis what can be captured depending on the risk involved in the case.
The Home Office suggests the benefits that could be delivered by the enactment of the draft Bill could be worth between £5‐6bn. Is this figure realistic?
Where is the evidence that supports this? The police can request access to this information at present so how is storing it for longer periods of time going to provide any form of positive financial benefit?
Given the governments form on keeping data secure it is unlikely any amount of safeguards can make the bill worthwhile. There have also been a number of high profile failures of communication providers to properly secure information much of which has largely been leaked directly onto the internet by hacking groups. Has any analysis been put into the cost to the UK economy of all communication records being potentially publicly available?]]>
The amount of time and effort that goes into this customisation in terms of development, research and testing time is amazing. Especially when in some game you don’t actually get to see the efforts of the games developers cunning coding which lets the same smile spread across the tight lipped scrawny crone of a characters that I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes crafting.
Lets look at some examples.
Skyrim : Excellent game which admittedly I did manage to break by wondering away from the original choice between Rome or Viking (or whatever that was about) and instead became what I like to believe was a solder of fortune. Actually I was more like a unfortunate traveller who wonder the land getting dragged into various local problems. Before any of this fun started however I designed the face of my character. The eyes had to be steely, the jaw set just right and the hair colour had to be interesting yet unimposing. My character stayed with this look for approximately 20 minutes until I found some dwarvern helmet was found that completely encased my head. The rest of the game was spent with various tin cans on my head. Not that I’ve finished it. I can’t seem to bring myself to complete the last few side missions because then my character will just have to hang around in various palatial houses getting fat and old with nothing to do.
Fallout New Vegas : The start of the game very cunningly introduces you to your face by allowing you to customise it to ensure that a surgeon got his reconstruction correct. Ok so you have to wonder how you can change the entire colour of someone’s skin while reconstructing their face but lets run with it. So again 10 minutes of playing about just to see if I can create a face that speaks of both intelligence and hobo at the same time. After getting to a point where my character looks like a worried older version of Jonny Depp I give up and role with it. He’s at least going to be popular with the ladies even if they are the older ones. What do you get for your time and effort. You get the occasional view of the back of your characters head.
So I call on games designers across the world to stop and think about if people need the ability to customise their face.Think back to a time when you had a goatee beard and glasses and walked around in a Hazmat suit with nothing but a trusty crowbar. Or when you where a small fat plumber with a slightly obnoxious accent. Or when you where a white triangle on a sea of blackness clearing a path in an asteroid field of 10 penny dreams. Ok so the last two are a little rose tinted but the point still stands. Spend that development time on making the game all it can be rather than attempting to give the customer a 30 minute sub game that has no impact on anything in the game.
Ok so old man moan over. The most annoying thing about the film is that the short film definition provided by the distributers or the producers, I’m not sure which. I am sure however that the person who wrote it didn’t watch the film and didn’t understand the plot. They description written is:
“When his mentor is taken captive, a retired member of Britain’s Elite Special Air Service is forced into action. His mission: kill three assassins dispatched by their cunning leader.”
The actual plot:
“When his mentor is taken captive, a Jason Statham character who’s background is unknown and undisclosed in the film apart from his love of Australian sheep farmers and definitely not from the SAS (this is covered in the film). His mission (which is forced upon him) is to assassinate three members of the Britain’s Elite Special Air Service who were (or suggested to have been) working for a shadow organisation to over throw the ruler of Oman in order to further commercial interest in it’s oil. This shadow organisation sends one of their best to protect them (Owen) who then doesn’t dispatch any of the afore mentioned SAS people.”
Admittedly it’s a little confusing but at least it’s not simply completely wrong. Maybe they should have gone with something like.
“Reluctant assassin (Statham) is forced to take on the might of Britain’s Elite Special Air Service in order to save his mentor (De-Nero) while a shadowy society sends its best man (Owen) to protect them and its own secret agenda.”
Then again, Im not paid to write these, whoever did the actual one was.
The only other thing to annoy me during this film was cat that kept digging it’s claws into me so I couldn’t fall asleep. Other than that it was a solid average film.
Over out until the next moan.]]>
Business Case: We told important people you would without bothering to ask if it was possible.]]>
Today we had our scheduled visit from the gas man to replace our really expensive pre-pay gas meter that we inherited from the previous owner. This meter is designed for people that struggle to pay there bills so I’m not really sure why the tariff is so amazingly high but yesterday it chugged through £5 in about as many hours.
Trouble is we inherited a gas meter without it’s protective box and I was informed upon greeting the engineers that they wouldn’t be replacing it because they are not allowed. If it’s not in a box they have to write you up a warning and turn your gas supply off. This was a little bit of a shock to me as it was their service engineer who pointed out the lack of cover and told me it was their responsibility to put something around it. What’s more the gas meter is located in such a position that it can’t have a box put around it. It’s too close to the electricity box and a lip in the wall. There is a clear space it could go but the British Gas engineers won’t move it there because it hasn’t got a box around it. So I’m stuck. They won’t replace the meter because I don’t have a box around it. I can’t put a box around it because they would have to move the meter and they won’t move the meter without a box. Better still I now have no gas supply. It’s obviously been that way since 2008 when they put the meter in with no box in a location where it can not be boxed but somehow I’ve now got to fix the situation.