Another SLA-Europe Social Event, Anonymous Searching, and the Anti-Social Network

July 13, 2012

Hello again. Another blog, and another great social event thanks to SLA-Europe. I’m on the Board, so I would say that. However, it was a very good way to spend a Summer evening (raining of course!) look at the cloud formation surrounding my photo of the Shard.

This was taken from the Roof Terrace of the offices of Nomura International Plc, Angel Lane EC4.

I met many old faces and many new ones at this event and spoke with people on a wide range of topics which included Client ID and Know-Your-Customer (KYC); SharePoint; Barclays; SharePoint; working in the Inner Temple as a Librarian when you trained as a Barrister; SharePoint and why it is such a great product; redundancies; SharePoint and why you wanted to lose it instead of use it; SCIP (Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals) raised twice by others with negative/positive commentary; SharePoint…etc. I’m sure you get my drift by now. I also work with SharePoint, so it was totally mesmerising to see this as the buzzword for the evening, with everyone I spoke to. People clearly have a certain ambivalent relationship with this particular piece of software. The event was sponsored by the Financial Times, Integreon and 7Side.

Given the negative publicity that Google has received recently surrounding its’ latest privacy policy, it’s hardly surprising that new search tools are being produced by so many new start-ups – and are having a pop at Google at the same time. Try and run a search for engines that protect your privacy and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m heading back to the KYC topic. After following Transparency International (TI) for many years now for its amazing corruption reports, I’d like to introduce you to Privacy International (PI) as well. I wrote about TI and focussed on PI in my book on pages 161-165 and highlighted that at that time of writing, Privacy Internationals’ view was that they had “found numerous deficiences and hostilities in Google’s approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organisations”. (Privacy International, A Race to the Bottom: Privacy Ranking of Internet Companies 2007. So, has anything changed for the better since then? You know how to look this up…….

Privacy International

And so we move on to the Anti-Social Network. I thought that the Murdoch/News International scandal into privacy was the fat end of the wedge in privacy abuse, but it’s (almost) the opposite if compared to other means that are being used to upset and hurt people. On 21st March, Richard Bacon reported on BBC 3 about the Anti-Social Network. While I was aware that the Internet has been used for abusive purposes for a long time now, the full extent of the abuse was brought sharply into focus with this hard-hitting documentary. Richard described how not only has he and his family been a target of abuse – known as Trolling – but  he highlighted how Trolls also target RIP sites and launch a tirade of abuse at the recently deceased and their families. It’s a sick world when that’s the best that people can manage when harnessing the power of the Internet and all the fabulous technology that surrounds it.

It would seem fitting to leave this post on a lighter note, and so I give you Andy Murray on Centre Court at Wimbledon! What an amazing player. I was upset when he lost the Championships, but await his strong performance in the Games. Gold would be brilliant.

I was there!

Special Libraries Association – Europe’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

March 1, 2012

Hello again!

I attended a brilliant event on Tuesday to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of SLA Europe (“SLA E”). It was held at the brand new offices of Rothschild in St Swithins’ Lane, at the top of the building.

After being escorted to the 14th floor cloak-room, a glass lift took you to the next level where you stepped out and walked into this large, beautiful, airy function room, that had floor-to-ceiling glass windows on two sides, affording  breathtaking panoramic views of The City at night-time.  What a treat!

Banner advert for SLA Europe 40th Anniversary

All the invitations had been taken up, and the room slowly filled with people. Waiters served drinks and delicious canapes as the guests mingled, and in pride of place in the room stood a beautiful four-tiered chocolate cake which symbolised the celebrations.

Our official Photographer, Laura Woods, took photographs of the current SLA Board and Committee, and then photographed all Past and Current Presidents, and then finally all of SLA Europe’s Award Winners.

Three of the guests made it over from Europe to be with us; Gimena Campos Cervera, Marie-Madeleine Salmon (Board Member) and Laura Armiero.

Darron Chapman, SLA E President gave a short speech and highlighted the new jobs board which has just materialised on the web site. Darron was followed by a short speech from Veronica Kennard, who is a Past President of SLA E, and who also kindly provided the opportunity to host the event at Rothschilds. Veronica asked us all to go and introduce ourselves to at least one person with whom we had never met.

After the speeches were made, it was cake cutting time, and more drinks and canapes, as the networking took off and information professionals from across the sectors reacquainted themselves with old colleagues and made contact with new ones.

For me, this was the event of the year, and as SLA E goes from strength-to-strength, my opinion is that they have hit the top of the league tables for the Information Professional as THE professional organisation of choice. Indeed, one of our Board members is running for the President-Elect position for the main board of SLA this year. We also have Board members who are Fellows of the Association, currently serve at the top, or have previously held high office. This clearly demonstrates the extraordinary quality of the Board in Europe. The latest upcoming new Info Pro is Sam Wiggins.

As a Past President for SLA Asia, an award winner, a Board member of SLA E since 2004, and current Committee member, I could be seen as biased, but many more who attended this event would totally agree with me about how special an evening this was. But the massive thanks goes to all the people who took the time and effort who made the event happen and it wasn’t me.

Back again soon.

A Blog for the Records Manager (Hoarder), Bloomberg Law, National Archives, browser testing at Lifehacker and some more on tax dodging

February 15, 2012

Hello again, and a ( better-late-than-never) Happy New Year.

From the 5th of November 2011 (my personal celebration day)  time has brought me to a name change and a massive clear-out, and I threw out the last 10 years of my life in paper.  Yep – good old-fashioned paper. In the electronic world, Birth Certificate aside, I still had paperwork going right back right to the day I was born, weighing in at just 2 kilos. Actually, I retained that document……….I also found a Post Office Savings Bank book with money in it! I’m not telling you it’s age, but the lady on the phone could not locate the account number, as they don’t exist in that format any more. Records Management therefore is a strange concept when applied to oneself, because of an emotional attachment to the records. When undertaking a Records Management function within an organisation, there is a strict set of rules to adhere to and no concept of ownership. The weeding of records is governed by law, and not emotions. It was easy to decide what to retain and then select a destruction method for the different types of records I had decided were surplus to requirement.

This clear-out was a strange place to be in, because I am someone who has spent years working with records and grey materials in all formats and creating policy within corporate and legal guidelines. But my own stuff lurking in my own filing cabinets was another matter. The recyclers probably didn’t know what had hit them when they collected the bin and peripheral bags – and my shredder was squeaking with the exertion of dealing with so many documents.

Furthermore, I hadn’t realised how much more paperwork I have been collecting on behalf of my sons. There’s so much of it – including a copy of the FT published on the date my first child was born, and all their medical and school records.  There were also 3 copies of the South China Morning Post from when the ban on travel to/from Asia because of the SARS outbreak was finally lifted, and also from the day I left Hong Kong to return to the UK.  I also know that tucked away somewhere is a copy of the FT on the day after the full eclipse of the sun in London, plus the special specs to watch it. I put it all away just in case my sons don’t see a total eclipse of the sun in their lifetime, and even if they do, will the technology to watch one have changed by then? It’s the hoarder in me…….I guess that’s why I enjoy being an Info Pro so much. If you look enough you will still find records of a former Jane Macoustra out there in the dim and distant past, but the future lies with Jane Ray. Watch this space!

Which leads me on to a new blog (it’s only 2 days old) at the National Archives. It’s all about finding out how to access public records, by having a private one-to-one with a live records specialist and not an automated response.  Here’s Jenny Orme’s blog for Valentine’s Day:

Burn after reading?

Posted by in Records

Welcome to day 2 of the blog! I have landed myself this illustrious spot thanks to Valentine’s Day and having stumbled upon something suitably soppy in the records. This unusual find is the perfect beginning to my blog, as the sheer variety of amazing things that are brought to the surface every day here could keep me talking forever!”

Bloomberg Law. I’ve already twittered this, but it is such a well-written piece, I’m pointing you to it here as well. Jean P O’Grady’s blog posting entitled “Welcome to Bloomberg Law: No Deals, No Discounts, No Apology”.If you are in the business of working in or running a law library or Information Centre, this is a must-read. Do pass it on.

Lifehacker has been testing out the speed of the top four browsers: Chrome 17, Firefox 10, IE 9 and Opera 11.61. The browsers have been put through their paces and been broken down into various tasks, and then there is an overall top performer, because it has the best performance on the most tasks. You can find out the results here. Looking at the 200+ comments to the blog, people would have liked to have had Safari included too. Others with 4GB of RAM or more say they don’t care and others would like other set tasks included as well as testing on a MAC. Oh well – you can’t please ’em all.

In The Daily Telegraph dated 27th January 2012 – pages 1,2. Headline: Paying Cash in Hand is ‘Diddling the country’ by Fraser Nelson. Please note that the online version of this article is written by a different journalist. “People who pay cash in hand to tradesmen are ‘diddling’ the economy and diverting money from hospitals and schools, the country’s most senior taxman warns today. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dave Hartnett says that householders have a duty to ensure that other people do not evade paying their share of tax. ……Mr Hartnett, the Permanent Secretary for Tax at HMRC, signals a major clampdown on the very rich……..Mr Hartnett says there used to be a culture of widespread tax avoidance among corporations which he says is now prevalent among prosperous individuals………..It was alleged he agreed “sweetheart deals” with companies including Goldman Sachs and and Vodafone and allegedly let them off large bills worth millions of pounds to HMRC…….”we are not soft with business, there was no deal with Vodafone” he said. “we got all the money for the nation there was to be got.”

Dave Hartnett steps down with a £1.7 million pension pot.

Vikki Woods provided us with her own thoughts on this entitled Thank God Diddling Dave Hartnett is the Retiring Type. Her commentary included “The anti-diddling Mr Hartnett was given a pretty good rollocking by the Public Accounts Committee last month for HMRC’s avowed mistake in collecting too little tax from Goldman Sachs, plus another £25 billion or so from other large companies”.

Private Eye have been following this issue for years, exposing Dave’s dodgy tax deals. I say put his pension back into the tax coffers now!

Back again soon.

My global power prediction comes to fruition – unfortunately, Men in the stacks and Steve Jobs and the Apple logo

October 27, 2011

Hello again!

Before I start – PEOPLE –  I received some feedback from my last blog on sovereign debt, but I can’t identify you and I don’t understand what you are writing. Please write to me in English – with more than two words – and I’ll be able to respond. If you don’t do this, I will be forced to delete your comments because I can’t authorise them for publication. I await your return because everyone is allowed to have a say; however this blog is moderated by me. My words are my opinion – and mine only.

In my book which was published in 2010 (page 66), I wrote: “……..the global picture map of power and control and financial (in)stability is changing radically in a short space of time. As these economic powerhouses alter, we see a new takeover bid for domination by those who have waited patiently, watching as the global economy quietly unravels itself – only just under the control of the Central Banks.  The contributors to these changes are counterparty default swaps (via the banks)………The distressed or toxic debts accrue, exploding, systemically crushing, bringing everything down with them in their path like a volcano. Meltdown indeed is the best description for the destruction that still occurs………..The vulture funds were waiting for them and no region is unaffected by these changes in the global economy…….etc”.   I knew there were predators waiting to take over the fall of the West when the time was ripe.  That time has now arrived by the look of it, except – they didn’t need to become predators or vultures. I have to say I was totally shocked by the turn of events where the EU has had to go cap-in-hand to China for assistance with its Euro bailout. Also – my words written at least 3 years ago for this book have come back to haunt me. On top of this,  Sarkozy says we shouldn’t have allowed the Greeks into the EU in the first place. How about shutting the doors after the horse has bolted. Look at what else we have in the EU that’s on shaky ground that could threaten again. (another day) the subject is too big.

I’d already seen this in an American publication, had a look and then looked away, but the Guardian took up the issue of this charity calendar which almost mirrors one first started by the Womens’ Institute, where they were photographed in various forms of undress using props to hide their nudity. Well – now it’s the boys turn. Librarians checked out in ‘Men of the Stacks’ calendar, and of course the Guardian just couldn’t resist publishing a picture of the guy who took all of his kit off. No – I’m not putting the picture here; if you’re that curious – you check out the article.

When is a tribute turned into plagiarism? When you create a logo that looks like the Apple one? Jonathan Mak created this image (I’m not going to post it here) because I think he’s possibly plagiarised (that’s why he’s terrified). If nothing else, he’s got himself a good few job offers (that’s why he’s excited).  Entrepreneurship/Enterprising capabilities anyone? I’m still mulling where the line is……..

Finally, another acknowledgement of the dead: Steve Jobs – rest in peace, and thank so much for what you gave to the world.  Here’s my version of an apple, courtesy of ehdwallpapers. And there’s other great images on the web site too.

Bye for now – back soon.

Credit ratings and sovereign debt, the FT and using your dark side for good

September 26, 2011

Hello again!

We are going to take a brief look at a new topic which has been widely reported. Credit rating agencies and sovereign debt. Recently Standard & Poor’s downgraded America to AA+ from its very precious AAA credit rating, which was a severe blow to the US. Italy has suffered with the same problem, and (to state the obvious) so has Greece, and it’s all down to the amount of government borrowings (sovereign debt) that each country has accrued. It affects a country’s ability to borrow more money and more importantly – it can and might well do in the near future – bring down other countries with it if it were to default on its’ borrowings, so a less than perfect AAA credit rating is a much higher borrowing/lending risk and a cause for concern.  The European Banking Authority has published a 2011 EU-wide stress testing exercise and the BIS has produced its September Quarterly Review, showing a weaker outlook for the economic climate. At the Business Insider they have published a list of the Euro banks’ exposure (derived from the BIS) if Greece defaults on its debt. Business Insider are also following the Goldman Sachs elevator tweets. Here’s one of the latest in this highly entertaining saga, which I am following.

I have been a registered user of the FT e-version for a quite a while now, and was very pleasantly surprised to receive a new e-mail service from them this week. It’s called the Best of the FT – and it’s a new-look monthly newsletter for registered users. It’s free – of course – or I wouldn’t highlight it for you. The FT says “This issue we spotlight the FT Trading Room, highlight the FT’s Future of Banking Global Banking in depth series and showcase the very latest FT special reports.
Plus latest FT headlines, hidden gems and must-reads.” Register yourself and enjoy all the reports that are provided from a diverse selection of articles, special reports, banking and finance, luxury goods, country reports and much more. KPMG has been selected to lead the probe into the UBS trading scandal. I read it in the FT.

I have previously written about LifeHacker because I have learned so much from reading this particular blog. Back in August there was an article called  How to use your dark side for good, written by Adam Dachis. The article takes us through many ways to put us (the good guys) at an advantage when we are at the potential mercy of the bad guys. Adam says “For example, it’s unquestionably useful to understand whether you’re a good victim and what makes you a good target. If you know why you’re being selected by the bad guys as a good mark, you can look at the different methods they may use and consider how you can counteract them.”  He’s used some good visual examples (Pinnochio and the not-so-friendly bunnies from Wallace & Gromits’ The Wererabbit, for instance.

Finally Guido Fawkes highlights a Sara Teather stand-up routine at conference, that was so not funny it was just sheer embarrassment, and it made me cringe. I should stick to politics if I were her, because comedy is definitely not her forte.

That’s all for now. Back again soon.


The “Google Generation” of researchers, the legacy of Project Gutenberg and the ultimate insult

September 9, 2011

Hello again, I did say I’d be back again quite soon – and here I am.

I have just responded to a colleague on Twitter who couldn’t locate a specific article, and it’s a bit of an eye-opener, even though it doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

Once upon a time I took a contract position in a University teaching information literacy – which included beginners to advanced Internet research as one of the topics. It was a popular module and well attended by the students, but the first time I taught this particular topic, I was expecting the students to wipe the floor with me, after all – this is THEIR generation – isn’t it? They didn’t – far from it. I sparked their imagination with the huge array of search strategies and tools for the job at hand. The article I sent to my colleague is about a report sponsored by JISC and the British Library entitled The “Google Generation” not so hot at Googling , after all and it’s written by Nate Anderson.

How’s this for a front cover? If they wanted shock factor – they achieved it. That’s just horrid!

The report is called: Information behaviour of the researcher of the future, and you’ve got the url to read this fascinating study for yourself. But I liked Nate Anderson’s comments about plagiarism and instant gratification because it mirrors a blog about young employees searching Google to sort out their corporate tech problems instead of calling the help desk. ServiceDesk360 posted the blog Young employees ignore helpdesk, search Google instead. Bomgar, who researched this corporate behaviour, says these employees are known as “Millennials”. Hmmmm…..I could call them something but it wouldn’t necessarily be “Millennial”.

The founder of Project Gutenberg , Michael S Hart, passed away recently. If you don’t know what Project Gutenberg is – you may be reading the wrong blog. Apparently there are 37,000 e-books freely available and that is a sheer amazing  legacy to leave to the world.  An article in The Atlantic says: “In an obituary on the Project Gutenberg website, Hart is remembered for the depth of his commitment to literacy. But the early texts speak to a core civic hope that is related but distinct: that there is power in ideas and that by spreading them we could make this country better. Sure, the number-one most downloaded book on the site is, by a long shot, the Kama Sutra, with more than 25,000 downloads. But Michael S. Hart, and by association his project, were about something much bigger than that.”  Thank you so much Mr Hart for leaving such a great legacy to the world;  rest in peace.

The Ultimate Insult has arrived in the form of an article twittered by another colleague Arthur Weiss.  This time I am definitely not at a loss for words. Disgraceful!  How dare the US government and their “security logistics” tactics get in the way by banning firefighting heroes from attending such an important event – and on the 10th anniversary of this sad occasion. They lost people too. This is unbelievably disrespectful. Firefighters – ignore all and do as Arthur says: Just turn up anyway.

9/11 – show some respect and include the firefighters.

You may or may not know that I have data coming in from quite a range of resources, including those from MI5 and the FBI. The FBI has a Gotcha section and recently they highlighted Operation Double O. I cannot believe anyone could be stupid enough to carry out a robbery, blow their nose and then leave a dirty tissue for forensics to play with the DNA.  Have a look at the podcast.

There’s more to come – but I’ll leave you with this for now. Back again soon.

Miss Demeanour, the elevator Twitter that’s irritating Goldman Sachs, and anarchy in the UK

September 1, 2011

Hello again! I hope you are having a good Summer! Mine’s been extremely good since I had the pleasure of the company of Miss Demeanour last Monday Bank Holiday at Wheels and Wings on Dunsfold Aerodrome, where they film Top Gear. It’s a fabulous day out if you love aeroplanes, racing cars, classics, motorbikes and anything with a wheel or a wing.  Here she is:

Miss Demeanour

What a babe!

I was so hoping to see the Avro Vulcan XH558 fly again, but hydraulics problems grounded her for the entire event. Miss Demeanour filled that gap with her amazing display with the Hawker. Thanks to the pilots for the Hunter-Hawker air display. It was truly awesome! Miss Demeanour is owned by Jonathan Whaley, and – apparently – he packs the (replicant coloured) parachute himself for the final landing. See above. Most girls dream of having a man who colour co-ordinates this well…………

The Hunter-Hawker display above and below we have – A DeLorean! Apparently there’s 6,500 DeLoreans still around somewhere!

Back to the Future. Check out the Seagull doors!

I always look for the darker side of social networking, and the uses that it can be put to – only from a researchers’ perspective – I hasten to add, especially in this day and age. Did you hear on the vine that Goldman Sachs have a rogue Tweeter in their midst, who may be riding the lifts/elevators in order to eavesdrop on conversations and tweet them? The New York Post reports that Goldmans are trying to find out who is twittering on Twitter feed @gselevator, and they have even unsuccessfully attempted to force Twitter to freeze the account. Is Goldmans being a total twit (as in twit/twitter – oh forget it…) to worry about this in the first instance? Hey – what’s a bit of reputational risk banter in the elevator amongst the heavily-wedged few?  Maybe the ones who boast of their privileged excess in times of hardship for the benefit of the rest of us should learn to keep their mouths shut instead. The diversity of social networking just never fails to amaze.

Around where I live, we’ve had a spot of bother from rioters, who have totally destroyed Croydon and then attempted to trash Sutton a week or so later. I was sent the Looter’s Prayer, which is indicative of our times and was posted on Facebook by my colleague, Arthur Weiss.

“Our father, who art in prison, my mum knows not his name, thy Riots come, read it in “The Sun” in Birmingham , as it is in London , give us this day our Welfare bread and forgive us our looting, as we are happy to loot those who defend stuff against us. Lead us not into employment but deliver us free housing, for thine is the Facebook the Blackberry & the Twitter, forever and ever… Innit !!!! ”

Apparently, the manager at Waterstones Bookshop in Sutton commented on the rioting that was attempting to break out in Sutton with: “I’m going to keep my shop open. At least if they loot my store, the bu**ers might learn something”.  Very well said! 

One of my sons came home a couple of weeks ago and told me that one of his friends had visited his doctor because of teenage spots. The doctor went online, Googled “spots and teenagers” and printed off a page from Wikipedia and handed it to him. I understand that doctors earn circa £100k p.a. and if that’s the best they can do for their over-inflated salary then I’m at a loss for words.  Actually, I’m rarely at a loss for words, but that’s irrelevant. Anyone who is anyone knows that Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed data because anybody can update it.  It is proved that people purposely update Wikipedia with utter rubbish. Do our GPs need educating? It surely looks that way. I suggest this doctor takes a look at or the BBC or even the NHSDirect web site where information is somewhat more reliable.

TTFN, as my Grandfather used to say. I’ll be back again, sooner than usual with some more commentary when school starts.