To those on the Left Jonathan Pie is a breathe of fresh air, a straight talking journalist who says what everyone else is thinking. To those on the Right, Pie is an angry, ranting socialist. Whatever your opinion, there’s no doubt that the Internet is going Pie-crazy.
The actor behind Jonathan Pie – Tom Walker – was little known until 2017. Having played parts in ‘Heartbeat’ and some minor supporting roles, Walker had been dormant in the acting world. Then queue his newest satirical character, Jonathan Pie, the brutal rants of which would quickly go viral over the course of 2017. Even the likes of Vice (who just didn’t get it) couldn’t hold him back.
The self-confessed socialist and Corbyn supporter has become quickly known for his frank commentary on all things political, including his dislike of Theresa May and ‘New’ Labour. As his cameraman Tim will tell you, he’s also known for his like of waffles.
If there’s a good reason to stay in the EU, it’s Belgian waffles. As Pie comments, ‘Brexit’ sounds like a “medicine for constipated dogs”. He was very quick to realise that the debate leading up to the EU referendum was empty and void of facts. He also called Nigel Ferrage a “goggle-eyed cockgoblin”…which is nice.
I have been informed today that Decorus UK Ltd, based in Colchester, is filing for Administration.
The company stopped paying staff and assessors salaries in February 2017 after a whistle-blowing investigation ceased all funding from the Government to Decorus UK and in turn the cash dried up.
What next for Learners?
An email from CRC today confirmed:
“We have been made aware that Decorus UK Ltd are going into administration. Due to the seriousness of the situation we have given notice to terminate our contract with Decorus UK Ltd and will endeavour to continue to give every apprentice the opportunity to achieve their apprenticeship. We are currently finalising the recovery plan and will commence training with your employees as soon as possible with either ourselves or an approved provider. “
Therefore, it is a case of waiting for CRC to be able to arrange new Assessors; a very frustrating position to be in but unfortunately a waiting game that will have to be played out.
It seems that someone has caught up with the people behind the Commercial Register Scam and com-reg.com has been closed down.
I have long been campaigning to ensure that as many Small Business owners are made away of the scam as well as reporting it to Action Fraud.
Why was com-reg.com closed down?
The actual reason for com-reg.com being closed down is unknown. Either the scammers had their hosting package and domain name shut down due to the nature of the scam, or they decided to move domain names due to the constant bad press associated with the com-reg.com domain name.
Ever since he realised that Red Bull were going to struggle for years to compete with Mercedes, Helmut Marko has been threatening to leave Formula 1. Another year, another threat, because although the Red Bull chassis is excellent the customer Renault engine is crap.
It all started to go wrong in 2013 when a dominant Mercedes was leaving the Red Bull well behind. Ever since, Dr Marko has done nothing but whinge and whine and makes threats to leave the sport.
The effect on Red Bull if Marko leaves
So what would the effect on the Red Bull F1 team be is Marko was to leave the sport?
Actually, not much. Christian Horner would still remember how to manage a team, Adrian Newey would still remember how to draw, the engineers would still remember how to be engineers and the mechanics would still be mechanics. The tyre man would still know about tyres. The drivers would still be excellent drivers.
What about money to fund the team?
Anyone who follows Formula 1 closely knows that the real money behind the Red Bull Racing team is billionaire and co-founder of the Red Bull drinks company, Dietrich Mateschitz. With an estimated net worth of over $18billion, and the tax incentives from the British government to hosting his team in the UK, there’s still a bit of pocket money left to help the team along and a lot of reasons to stay in the sport.
Power unit problems
With Mercedes refusing to supply Red Bull with a customer engine, and Ferarri much the same, Red Bull have one major problem on their hands; an under-performing power unit. Whilst the chassis is quick in the twisty sections, it’s overall power is lacking which saw the car fall miles behind Ferrari and Mercedes in the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix.
The problem for Red Bull is that no matter how much they complain in the press, Renault are never going to give the team their upgrades before their own manufacturer team, which would make no sense as Renault try and drag their car near to the front of the grid. Unless a new engine manufacturer enters the sport Red Bull will struggle to find a different supplier.
Ecclestone to make F1 team return?
Meanwhile, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is making noises about starting his own team an recently made a suggestion that he would be willing to take over Force India with a “new Brabham team”. If Red Bull were to suddenly find itself in need of a new investor, Bernie might just be the man.
In March 2017 we moved business premises and naturally a part of this process was to have our telephone and broadband internet services with BT moved to the new site. A quick phonecall to BT assured me that this was a simple process: they would simply move the services to the new site. It sounded so simple.
I’ve moved premises with BT before and expected a few minor problems. What I didn’t expect was the fiasco that would shortly unfold and leave my business without the correct services to almost two months.
Phone-line suddenly disconnected
Initially the BT Openreach engineer visited to install our voice, fax and broadband services and everything seemed to be working. That lasted for 3 days before our main business line would suddenly stop working for no known reason. It would be eight days and 3 separate visits from engineers before the phone-line was working. We never got an answer as to why
No PBX line for 7 weeks
Our phone system relied on a private branch exchange (PBX) line which BT sometimes call an “aux line”. Without getting technical, this is a that switches calls between internal lines while allowing all users to share a certain number of external phone lines. The idea being that if someone was already on the phone it would still ring rather than giving the potential customer an engaged tone.
We had 5 visits from Openreach for this. They installed a second physical line, removed lines, changed cables, changed RJ11 ports – the list was endless. We later discovered that this was simply an error on the part of BT for not activating the service.
Poor broadband speeds
When moved to our new premises we were told that we would be supply with a guaranteed download speed of 8.8Mbps. What we actually received was 3.9Mbps. At the time of writing that was still the case.
Poor quality voice line
From the moment we started using the new phone line the sound quality was very quiet and customers often complained that they couldn’t hear our staff very well. We were told by Openreach engineers that this was because of an old telephone line going through the bridge of a major A road next to our property. This was scheduled to be replaced but, again, it was still faulty at the time of writing. As a temporary solution I bought a 4G router and set up my business to use 4G as a Business Internet Solution (not cheap but more reliable/faster).
A Moving Manager without the power or knowledge to do his job
Having moved businesses with BT previously (and experience a poor service) I was quite pleased to see that the organisation had now appointed a ‘Moving Manager’ to oversea our move. I’d hoped that this would result in someone being able to take ownership of problems should they occur. It didn’t.
Although we had a point of contact, the Moving Manager was unable to deal with faults very well at all and it never felt like he was able to take real ownership of the issues. Quite often I would be told that the system didn’t allow him to do something or was out of is control.
In addition, the Moving Manager seemed to have less of an idea of the products available from BT than I did. For example, we wanted a recorded message placed on the old telephone number telling callers we had a new number. Out Moving Manager said this wasn’t a service BT offered – which most of us know is wrong as we’ve all heard those messages at some time or another.
Incorrectly billed multiple times
As the problems continued, so did the shock. I opened a bill from BT to see we had been charged over £1600 for “early termination” of our services. Of course, we hadn’t terminated our services we had simply moved them. This was later credited but it was another problem I had to spend over an hour sorting.
Failure to deal with complaints properly
After 7 weeks of nothing but banging my head against a wall, I decided to place a complaint with BT. Following the procedure on the BT Business complaints website I outlined the details of my complaint.
Two hours later I received a call from BT telling me that I had to call them to report the faults before I could lodge a complaint; something I had already done numerous times already. At this point I lost the plot and hung up. It’s actually pretty impossible to complain to BT.
Call centre staff who could often be impossible to understand
I don’t have a particular problem with companies outsourcing their customer service to other countries. I do have a problem if the staff who are employed are difficult (or impossible) to understand. When you are stressed and feel like you’re fighting to get your services working it’s highly annoying to be faced with someone who you can’t understand or whom can’t understand you.
BT business movers need to make some serious improvements
In my opinion, BT suffers because it is too big so the fact that Openreach and BT are being forced to seperate can only be a good thing for customers. I hope that it will make BT and Openreach more accountable, rather than passing blame. I also hope that it will allow me to move all of my businesses services to a new provider when my contract expires so that I can get away for the monotonous BT customer ‘service’.
The recent ransomware attack on the NHS may leave the organisation open to prosecution under data protection laws.
Rumours are circulating that NHS Trusts across the UK are still using the outdated and unsupported Windows XP operating system, for which the creators – Microsoft – ended support in April 2014. Windows XP no longer receives updates from Microsoft including the crucial MS17-02 update which the company said “resolves vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows” the “most severe of the vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if an attacker runs a specially crafted application”.
In effect, the NHS have left some computers open to attack by using outdated, old and insecure software.
Possible breach of the Data Protection Act
Under the laws of the Data Protection Act (DPA), Data Holders (in this case NHS bosses) are obliged to ensure that any personal data held in relation to patients is kept safe and secure to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.
If a computer system is vulnerable enough to allow hackers to encrypt data within it, then it may also be possible for hackers to obtain personal data about individual members of the public from that system. If personal information was to fall into the wrong hands it would be considered a breach of the DPA an leave the organisation open to prosecution. Historically, large fines have been issued by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) such as those issued against 11 large charities in April 2017.
ICO warned users of XP about data protection laws in 2014
The ICO warned companies against using Windows XP in 2014 in a press release. Simon Rice of the ICO said organisation should migrate away from old systems as quickly as possible as “failure to do so will leave your organisation’s network increasingly vulnerable over time and increases the risk of a serious data breach that your actions could have prevented”.
It seems that some NHS bosses failed to understand the seriousness of the threat.
On 12th May 2017 the NHS was hit by a ransomware attack which bought many hospitals, GP surgeries and Accident & Emergency departments to their knees. The cyber attack locked thousands of NHS staff members out of computer systems and encrypted data so that records, emails and other documents could not be accessed. By the end of the day, one IT software company said that it had observed over 75,000 infections in 99 countries.
The attack had been predicted by computer experts for years and older technology used in the NHS system left it vulnerable to attack. The hackers initially used spy tool stolen from the United States called ‘Eternal Blue’ to deploy the ransomware.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a computer program which is inadvertently installed onto a computer running the Windows Operating System, usually by a user unknowingly opening an attachment in an email containing the ransomware, downloading it from an email link or by installing software from an untrusted source.
Once allowed onto the computer, the ransomware (in the case of the NHS called WannaCry, WanaCrypt0r 2.0, WannaCry and WCry, encrypts all of the users files and prevents access to the computer. It then attempts to move across a computer network and can infect other computers and file servers on the network as it goes.
Why did the NHS ransomware attack occur?
The cyber attack on the NHS was caused mainly by the use of out-of-date Microsoft Windows operating systems on computers across the country. Although the fight against the hackers who write ransomeware programs is often retrospective, Microsoft did release a security patch to prevent vulnerabilities within their operating system some months ago. However, the patch is unlikely to have been installed on all computers and left those machines open to attack.
This wasn’t a targeted attack; but it was entirely avoidable.
How is ransomware removed?
There are three methods of removing ransomware:
Pay the scammers who installed the software – usually around $300 USD or £230 per infected computer to un-encrypted your files – a bad idea as will be discussed
Remove the ransomeware manually – can be very difficult but is possible
Format the computer’s hard disk entirely and re-install the Operating System from fresh – meaning any files which haven’t been backed-up will be lost
Paying the criminals who write the ransomware is a bad idea for a number of reasons.
Firstly, you have no idea who you are paying and what the funds will be used for. Sure, it might be going to a spotty 20 year old student but you might also be funding illegal activity.
Secondly, paying to have the malicious program removed this time will make you a target for the future; once the hackers know they can get you once they’ll try and get you again. There is also no guarantee that the criminals will remove the encryption once you pay.
Thirdly, there are people out their who can help you remove the ransomeware and you may even be able to do it yourself with a little research, time and effort.
How does an organisation the size of the NHS cope with a ransomeware attack?
The priority for the NHS will obviously be to get computers clear of the infection and files restored as quickly as possible. Presumably the NHS will already have a contingency plan in place for such an attack. If not, someone’s head needs to roll, because an attack of this type has been predicted for many years.
Going forward, every NHS trust will need to look closely at how it implements policies for preventing further attacks, including improving staff training and awareness, ensuring the operating systems are updated as soon as new patches become available and also by considering moving away from Windows operating systems in the future to a more secure system.
How to prevent ransomeware attacks
Ransomware attacks are avoidable and it’s actually very simple to avoid them. By following good computing practice you can protect yourself from becoming the victim of ransomeware:
Always ensure that you install the very latest in Windows Updates from Microsoft. Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 should do this automatically but you can turn updates on manually – Microsoft released an update to prevent ransomware attacks in March 2017 but some users failed to install it
Do not use legacy versions of Windows such as XP which are no longer supported, especially of that computer is on a network on has access to the Internet
Use antivirus software – there are plenty of free applications available that offer a good level of protect – see do I need to pay for antivirus for more information
If you’re techie, consider using a different operating system such as Apple’s OSX or an open-source Linux system such as Ubuntu which are much more resilient to cyber attacks
My ingrown toenail saga left me with some of the the ugliest toes in the world.
After playing rugby from the age of 11 and having my feet stamped on various times I eventually ended up with ingrown toenails. This would eventually become infected despite my best attempts to keep them clean. The red, swollen skin surrounding the toenail became angry red and eventually turned into a puss-pumping, stinking mess. Gross.
Not only did they look and smell terrible, but they were also very painful to walk with. At times I could feel the nail cutting into the infected flesh at the sides of my toe.
The first attempt at fixing one of the ingrown toenails was at my local GP surgery. It was a time when doctors still carried out minor procedures at their surgeries and after injecting me with anesthetic in both sides of the toe 14 times (which was extremely painful), the doctor placed an elastic tourniquet around my toe and sliced along the edges of the toenail. He then pulled out the offending nails either side and burned the nail-bed with some sort of acid. The release of pain was instant.
Sadly, the toenail would later grow back – wonky and also grow upwards from my toe!
I was recently reading a history of Colchester pubs on the Camulos website when I noticed a brief listing for ‘Brights’; a pub which was situated on Straight Road.
The pub had a relatively short life compared to others being open for just 12 years from 1884 until 1996 when poor trade let to be being demolished to make way for a number of homes on the site.
My memories of Brights
Brights was a really important place for me because it’s where I discovered my love of live music. At the age of 12 I saw my first ever live band – Blade Chain – and was instantly hooked (I’ve since gone on to front a number of bands myself).
I was also the first place I discovered being served alcohol underage, the Landlord when I was 12 seemingly careless about servicing me bottle of Kay’s Cider after I’d played along to a song with the band during an interval!
Sadly, however, a lack of business and complaints from local residents eventually resulted in the demise of Brights.
What are you memories? Leave them below…