The Grumpy Man

My personal data has been compromised! by The Grumpy Man
21 November, 2007, 8:10 am
Filed under: Gripes

So, it appears that the government, or more accurately HM Revenue and Customs, has lost some data about a few people in the country. It’s actually more than just a few, reports suggest that it’s information on 25 million people, or just over 7 million bank accounts. Information such as names, addresses, ages, children’s names, partner’s names, bank account numbers and national insurance numbers have all gone missing.

While it’s obviously a fairly large error, and undoubtedly there are quesions that need asked, I do feel that people and in a particular, the media, are over reacting. Opposition MPs are questioning whether Alistair Darling is “up to the job”. I’d suggest that we’ll find that out now. Alistair Darling can’t be held responsible for the data going missing – even if the buck does stop there. What he can be held responsible for is how he deals with the situation now, that’s what will show if he’s up to the job.

As for people being able to access my bank account, I’m thinking it’s probably as safe now as it was before. I bank online, so I’ve got a password, and various other pieces of information that would be required to access my account. As long as my bank follows it’s code of practice and doesn’t let anyone access my account without my password, we’re fine and dandy. I noticed that someone was on Radio 4 yesterday saying that their account had been cleared using this missing information. Actually, it wasn’t. It was cleared because the bank in question, the Alliance and Leicester, didn’t force the person on the phone to use the correct password. No matter what other information someone knows, you should always need the password.

It is terrible that this has happened, it needs to be looked at and systems need to be put in place to stop it happening again, but how much of this data was already available to people? I’m thinking quite a lot. How many letters do the Royal Mail loose a day and how many of them are bank statements or letters with other financial information? How much information is passed/sold from business to business. And how much information do call centre or backroom staff have access to about me?

What annoys me about this is the irresponsible manner in which the media is reporting on it. Instead of using this as a good opportunity to deal with the whole issue of data security, providing advice and information to people, they are as usual trying to whip up a frenzy of fear.

Pope comic


“Remove bad teachers” by The Grumpy Man
12 November, 2007, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Gripes | Tags: , ,

Sir Cyril Taylor has suggested that bad teachers should be removed from schools.

“Remove bad teachers, says adviser” from the BBC News Website

I’m not sure how I feel about this, I’m not saying teachers should be exempt from discipline or sacking but I also feel there are a number of reasons why some teachers are not working at their best. Here are a few quickly thought up ideas, I’ll put more thought into them in a further post perhaps.

  1. Giving teachers and schools the means to truely discipline disruptive pupils would help. I’m not suggesting corporal punishment, just effective punishment.
  2. Holding parents more responsible for pupil behaviour in class might also help.
  3. Finally, stop adding to teacher’s workloads by making them teach every new initiative that the government dreams up. Some of these initiatives are worthwhile but they are squeezed into an already overloaded curriculum without anything being taken out to free up time.

I’m not finished on this one …

Food on a plate, please by The Grumpy Man
11 November, 2007, 2:21 pm
Filed under: Gripes | Tags: , ,

I’m a man who likes the plain and simple things in life. I’ll take my steak medium-rare with the sauce on the side. If I ever order a Big Mac, something which I haven’t done in a number of years, I take it plain with “Just the cheese, please”.

On Friday I had the fortune to be granted a day off work in order to go to my wife’s “graduation” – she now has letters after her name, how cool is that? Anyhow, in the morning we were doing a spot of shopping in Dublin. I think we’d both agreed that we weren’t actually going to buy anything but I was happy for her to go into Brown Thomas and look at the expensive jackets and dresses on the first floor. A more realistic option is to bypass the first floor and head straight to the second floor where prices are more reasonable (I use the word reasonable under advisement), but where’s the fun in that. Leaving Brown Thomas empty handed, something the wife never seems to be able to do when she’s in Dublin with her mates, we decided to get some coffee.

DanishesOff we trundled to a nearby cafe where I ordered a coffee and an Apple Danish. Something to take the wetness off the drink as my gran would have said. A couple of minutes later the food arrived. The danish was very different to any one I had had before. I’ve tasted a lot of Apple Danish’s in my time, although never one in Denmark, but this was by far the best Danish I’d ever had. The pastry was light and fluffy with the apple content being just enough to provide ample taste but not too much so that half of it ends up splurting out the sides.

You’d think that after a fine cup of coffee and a delightful Apple Danish I’d have walked out of that cafe the happiest man alive, and yet I didn’t. You see, the Apple Danish had come served on a serviette. Why is it that eateries do that? Why do they feel the need to put a serviette/napkin on the plate before placing the food on it? What ends up happening is the serviette becomes soggy, you cut can’t cut your food properly for fear of getting bits of paper in it and you end up lifting the serviette off the plate and placing it to the side giving you both sticky hands and a sticky table.

In future, when I’m ordering food, am I going to have to order the serviette on the side as I do with the sauce and my steak?

These go to 11 by The Grumpy Man
7 November, 2007, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Gripes | Tags: , , , ,

ToasterI enjoy the film This Is Spinal Tap, and while only having seen it once I’ve viewed various scenes from it on numerous occasions. Possibly the most famous and frequently seen clip is Nigel’s demonstration to Marty of his amps where “the numbers all go to eleven”. It’s utterly brilliant. This scene recently came to my mind whilst in the school staffroom waiting for my mid-morning slice of toast.

School breaktimes are a strange and rushed affair. Technically, you get 15 minutes. In reality, by the time your class have packed up and left, you’ve lifted your mug, walked halfway across the school to the staffroom, waited in queue to put coffee and sugar in your mug and then waited for the one kettle to boil only to realise that one kettleful is never going to be enough to fill 15 mugs, you get 3 minutes to sit down on a comfortable seat.

On most occasions my slice of toast is ready before I get my mug of coffee but on this particular morning the queue seemed to have been moving a lot faster. I sat on my seat (yes, each teacher has their own seat in the staffroom) and sipped on my hot coffee whilst waiting for the toaster to pop. It wasn’t until an asmatic Year 11 pupil who had innocently been walking past started wheezing and coughing that I realised something was wrong. The toaster had been turned up to 5.

My gripe is twofold:
1) Why do the makers of toasters allow their products to be turned up so high. I am yet to find a food product that requires such a long period of time to be toasted, or a food product that tastes better carbonised. I can only imagine that some technician in a white lab coat thought “We’re on 4 on our toaster. Where can we go from here? Where? Oh I know, one hotter. 5”. Genius.

2) Why do people turn the toaster up to 5? Do they think it toasts the bread quicker? More annoying is the fact that they turn it up to 5, stand by the toaster and pop it up manually when their toast is ready, thus ensuring they get the perfect slice of toast but everyone else is left with a burnt offering.