UK technology trains of thought...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

European ID Cards?

I just saw a Ministerial Directive reported (although not commented upon) on a public sector IT site. This is by the UK Presidency of the EU, i.e. Tony Blair. It is about the transformation of the public sector using ICT and the many benefits that has for business and individuals, it has been agreed by the 25 member states.

Buried near the end is the proposal (I assume it is still a proposal) for interoperable ID cards across the EU by 2010:

By 2010 European citizens and businesses shall be able to benefit from secure means of electronic identification that maximise user convenience while respecting data protection regulations....

The document goes on to talk about the member states working together and sharing best practices and technology. I'm not sure whether the UK consider their project to be best practice, and I'm not sure how I feel about this directive. Surely this provides more of a risk to individuals in this country from foreign states?

You can read the full directive here.

Peak Gas

With reference to my previous post on this topic, Tony Blair has since called an enquiry, Pilkington Glass have switched their plant from oil to gas, and the CBI are sounding the alarm:

Director-general Sir Digby Jones warned that high-use large industrial outfits, such as chemicals firms, may have to "throw the switch" if the price of gas continued to rise.

BBC NEWS | Business | Gas price surge shows no slowdown

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

More about mindmaps

I've attached above an example of an 'in-progress' mindmap I'm working on using with FreeMind. It can export in multiple formats, including javascript and XHTML.

It would be amazing if this could be worked on collaboratively, I found a little discussion around this but it seems to be more focussed on generating mindmaps from wikis rather than using the technologies together.

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I'll go to jail to print the truth about Bush and al-Jazeera

Boris Johnson MP: Bush and Al-Jazeera

All this flapping around by the newspapers is fascinating. I watched Control Room, a documentary about the US' attitude to Al-Jazeera. It is a great documentary, the problem with bombing TV stations appears to be that they have TV cameras.

Glad to see Boris is taking a stand.

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Someone recently showed me FreeMind. This software is excellent, I use mind maps heavily in my own notes - but this enables me to do it on my laptop and actually share them (my handwritten ones are not very legible or structured).

Now if someone could write some kind of JSP / Servlet situation that allowed me to interactively explore these within JSPWiki, I would be complete :)

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Thursday, November 24, 2005


Interesting, Google is scaling up their London operation. Hopefully this means we will get better localisation on their services for the UK.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005


I have been using the BBC iMP pilot for a little while. I am very impressed with it, but it needs more content - the interface and download speeds seem good. I wonder if it uses bittorrent style swarming to deliver the WMV files?

The files are DRM protected to stop you redistributing or watching after 7 days has passed. This has been cracked however; I hope this doesn't give the BBC doubts about the viability of the service as it deserves to hit the mainstream.

UK Cabinet IT Strategy

The week before last the Cabinet Office published the government's new IT strategy.

This strategy is important, as it refocuses 10% of the current IT spend by the entire of the public sector. This will mean the current systems will have projects shelved and the cash (£1.4bn) will be reinvested in implementing this strategy. I expect the programmes discussed in the strategy will also have their budges augmented by things like the ID cards project.

Key changes

  • Increased focus on planning, governance and increasing reliability of delivery.
  • Particular mention of strengthened scrutiny throughout projects.
  • Development of new IT delivery processes, utilising the best practice (particularly in governance) from the private sector. Including continuous improvement.
  • Increased focus on a complex array of stakeholders, including front line staff (DRs, nurses, teachers, citizens, taxpayers, business). Particularly on usability, with champions for each stakeholder type.
  • Focus on transactional projects, e.g. pay my council tax, book my hospital appointment.
  • Modern channels for access to services.
  • Key focus on efficiency (Gershon), benefit justification of projects
  • Focus on swift adoption of new technology
  • Prominent attention to 'Information Assurance', i.e. security
  • Back office shared services. Bringing HR/Finance systems across the country into line. An early (2005/2006) objective is putting a governance model in place and developing new IT delivery processes
This is all very good, and the BCS, SOCITM and Audit Office are firmly behind it. It will be interesting to see how the first few projects manifest themselves.

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