Monday, July 22, 2013

Touching Cotton

I suppose the odd thing is that this time last year I was writing about 3 blogs a week and probably boring people rigid with pointless meanderings about life from my patio.

I don't appear to have the time for frivolity at the moment. Setting up a new publishing business is unbelievably hard work beset by days of anger, days of frustration, days of elation and just days where all I seem to do is just go over old ground all the time. Don't get me wrong; I'm loving every minute of this new venture, even the setbacks and the knock backs.

I haven't felt so alive for 10 years.

Things are also beginning to move along. I have one definite project; two which aren't finished yet but I have first refusal on; a project that I appear to have volunteered myself to write - a children's book (which I am very excited about - despite my obvious reservations about publishing myself and the stigma attached to that); and I've started negotiation with a couple of people about producing collections of their web comics. And I also have my stumpy mitts involved in another children's book, but that won't be ready until 2014. Plus I continue to rebuild links, repair napalmed bridges and reconnect with people that for a number of years I believed I'd never have anything to do with! The initial plan was to have two or three books out just before Christmas and that plan is still very much on schedule!

It appears that the government accidentally allowed their Direct.gov website to have the link for a bogus company... I was looking for some government grants, to help with the set up of the company and I was directed towards a company called Business Grants - http://www.ukgrants.org.uk/ - who eventually offered me some money for web development on the proviso I paid something up front. My team of scrutinisers all warned me that something was dodgy about this and subsequent investigation has led to me believing that this is a bogus company, despite assurances from one of their 'customers' that they were okay.

A search on their registered address showed nothing. There was no phone number. No trading address. No way for anyone to get in contact with them other than an email address. No FRN - a 6-digit number they should have if they are a registered company (my company has one, why don't they?). But more importantly, not a single email has been answered from them since Tuesday when my alarm bells started going off. The only thing I can find about this company on line is a thread on a notice board about them being a con. That was enough for me to feel disheartened but also realistic; did I really expect this current government to give anything to new businesses or have affiliates that weren't dodgy?

***

It appears the summer could come to a crashing halt by next weekend. I know there are some who think this is a great thing, but I have a certain amount of sadness about it. England - my bits, anyhow - has looked like a proper summer. The fields are a lovely golden colour - which is nice when you've just seen green and grey for the last seven years - the fields are full of wild flowers and grasses that are having, if you'll excuse the expression, a real field day of growth and the late spring has meant that this country looks as good as it has for years. It is a pleasure to walk the dogs and be out in this heat and sun.

But... By Tuesday we'll be seeing those fabled thunderstorms that often follow decent weather and by next Saturday the forecast is for about 20 degrees; about 10 degrees cooler than what we've been used to. That said, I might be sitting here in shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt at the moment, but its cloudy and cool out there at the moment and part of me think that even if we see ridiculous temperatures over the next couple of days (35 in London tomorrow apparently), I think we've seen the end of summer until perhaps September. I just can't help thinking that August is going to be a cool washout. I have been wrong about the weather already this year, so we shall see.

The irony is that if we get cooler, low pressure driven weather, I breathe so much easier and I even get to sleep!

Of course, it could just be wishful thinking that the weather for the next 6 weeks is going to be crap; but I don't want people thinking I'm being pernicious...

***

When I was at the Youth Offending Service, I worked with a lot of very knowledgeable people - one of them was even the social worker for one of the Jamie Bulger killers until he was 18. I learnt an awful lot and one of the things I became aware of was that people who put child pornography on the internet are a) going to get caught and b) idiots.

David Cameron's desire to prevent any paedophiles accessing illegal material and roping in Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the others seems, on the surface, to be admirable. Except, you can't find child porn on the internet. It's hidden, in news groups, usenet and private - access only - sites that are disguised to be as innocuous as possible. Child porn is not pornography; it is a wholly different beast in its distribution and the people purveying this sad filth are experts and a lot more expert than Cameron's self-appointed web gurus.

The cynic in me has seen torrent sites banned by my ISP because there is a fear that the 2% of the population who illegally download stuff will rob the world of vital finance (but these places spring up again two days later under a different website allowing those 2% to carry on regardless) and now the proposal to ban all pornography sites, which, of course, will result in them just moving themselves around. Look at Pirate Bay - every time Virgin or BT ban them, they pop up with a new site somewhere else; that gets banned and they pop up again. The one key factor here is that if you use Pirate Bay to download the torrents file you need and they have been blocked, a quick search on ... a search engine ... and you'll find a mirror site that hasn't been banned - ad infinitum. If you can't find a mirror, you'll find another torrents site, offering the same service (until they are shut down and someone else steps in). Have I said 'ad infinitum' already?

China has all kinds of problems monitoring the Internet. It is believed that for every 70 people they prevent from going to places the Chinese government don't want them near, 30 people have already found a way round it and are viewing things via a proxy server.

Could it be that Cameron is so desperate to impose bans and barriers on the Internet because more now than ever before anti-government rhetoric is rife on the net. As more and more people become hooked on the net, more and more are exposed to anti-government 'propaganda'. Hiding behind 'child pornography' as an excuse is almost cowardly.

Incidentally, if you want to stamp out child porn, shut down Usenet. Oh, it's a US creation and 70% of the users are from the USA. That isn't going to happen then...

***

It's Monday now. After a dull weekend, the sun is out, the temperature is rising and we're going to melt. Great innit?

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