Archive for the ‘irishblogs’ Category

Data Protection Commissioner can’t protect their data – Leaked Annual Report for 2007

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Below is the press release going out at 11am tomorrow from the DPC but I found it by accident on their site and the full report is here. It’s kind of pathetic that you can actually access the full report from their site because of a badly configured publishing system.

UPDATE: Report is now here.

Once again the report is a crock with investigations that don’t go anywhere with eircom and Newtel reoffending. Newtel got mentioned in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Four in a row next year?

The Data Protection Commissioner launched his report for 2007 today. He has emphasised the responsibility of public and private sector organisations to respect the privacy of those who entrust them with their personal information. Equally the Commissioner has also drawn attention to the need for an appropriate balance to be struck between the ever increasing desire to seek the personal data of all of us as part of the security agenda and the individual’s right to privacy. In this respect he raises the question, “Have we not succumbed to terror and submitted to extremism when we loose the liberty to live our lives without constant intrusion by the State in the name of security?”

Enquiries and Complaints
During 2007 the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner opened 1,037 new complaint investigations, up substantially from 658 in 2006. This very large increase in the number of complaints relates in part to an increase in complaints in relation to unsolicited text (SMS) messages. The Report updates on the actions which the Commissioner has taken to address this issue. He currently has more than 350 prosecutions before the Courts in this area. These prosecutions follow strong action taken by the Commissioner who sent teams of investigators into the premises of those involved to collect evidence. The Commissioner has increasingly made use of his powers to send his officers into premises which contain personal data without notice to ensure that data protection requirements are being met.

The Report updates on the Commissioner’s actions in relation to the issue of unauthorised access to personal data in the public sector, a large number of complaints received in relation to the marketing practices of Sky and also includes case studies of a number of specific investigations into the use of personal data including:

• The use made by Baxter Healthcare of two medical reports relating to a former employee;
• The inappropriate use of CCTV footage by the West Wood Club in Sandymount and covert CCTV by the Gresham Hotel in Dublin;
• Suspension of the operations of a cold-call marketing operation by Newtel communications;
• Inappropriate disclosure of employee information by Aer Lingus;
• A very serious case of inappropriate access to personal information held by the Revenue Commissioners;
• The failure to supply a reasonable means for opting-out from email direct marketing by Ryanair.
• Extensive engagement with Eircom following the receipt of a large number of complaints in relation to unwanted marketing telephone calls. This resulted in a €35,000 donation by Eircom to charity to resolve the complaints
• Excessive information of local residents retained by Croke Park
• Unsolicited email marketing by Tesco arising from technical difficulties

In addition to actual formal complaints received and progressed, the Office dealt with approximately 20,000 telephone enquiries together with over 4,000 email enquiries and a smaller number of enquiries by post.

Other Activities
In a wide ranging report on his Office’s activities for 2007 that reflects the variety of issues the Office is called upon to address, the Commissioner also focuses on:
• The benefits that flow from an increasing awareness of privacy and data protection issues on the part of members of the public, the media and institutions holding our data;
• The occasions when he was obliged to resort to the use of his legal powers to protect and promote the interests of data subjects;
• The responsibility of private sector organisations to protect the personal data of their customers and clients;
• Breach notifications as an example of good practice;
• Developing codes of practice within particular sectors and public bodies to allow a better understanding of data protection requirements among those entrusted with personal data;
• The continuing challenges posed by new technology and the use made of the internet.

The Commissioner has taken the opportunity to highlight his engagement with Government on a variety of issues including the proposed DNA database, the intention to introduce what is known as an “eBorders” system to track all of our movements as we enter and leave the country and a very satisfactory outcome in terms of ensuring that the planning system respects privacy while maintaining transparency.

The Report also includes for the first time an unscientific list of the top ten threats to privacy as identified by the staff of the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. This list, which is by no means authoritative, is intended to provoke discussion of privacy issues.

Oireachtas decide that maybe encryption on TD and Senator laptops = Good idea

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

See the tender.

Appropriate for ages 0 - ∞.
Photo owned by Britt Selvitelle (cc)

Email sent to TDs and Senators:

In the event of the loss or theft of any such device containing personal data, Members are advised to contact the Gardaí (to report the incident) and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (for advice on the most appropriate steps to be taken in relation to the lost / stolen data).

In order to maximise the security of data which may be on laptops and desktop computers, the Office has recently invited tenders for the provision of a data encryption system. As soon as a contract has been awarded, we will contact Members again to offer the installation of this software on all existing laptop devices. The software will automatically be installed on all laptops issued to Members after the contract has been awarded.

Members are reminded that although they are no longer required to register with the Data Protection Commissioner merely by virtue of their membership of the Oireachtas, they are still responsible for ensuring the safety of personal data which is stored on their computer systems.

The Office will replace stolen laptops only following receipt of a formal Garda report confirming that the loss or theft has been reported to the Gardaí.

There’s more to security than encryption, right? Anyone got a better solution?

Comfort zones, Iterations, Innovations and Product Design

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Apple iPhone = a single button menu system and one of the best mobiles ever. Yet mobile phones are out 20 years. But it’s actually a portable computer with phone properties. Not that the general consumer knows or cares. Nokia marketed their N95 phone to people as a computer in your pocket. And how many of the world did that discourage from buying it with that phrase alone? How many don’t use all the poweful features of it because it treats the menu system like a computer menu system with half a dozen clicks to do something?

Oddly it seems the iPhone takes away choice from people by just doing what it wants. With an N95 it’s menu menu rotate to turn the image sideways, the iPhone does it automatically whether you like it or not. Despite all the other phone companies having mobiles that did mobile Internet it was the iPhone that exploded use of the mobile web in the past year. On a slower connection and less powerful phone…

Look at the Wii. You turn it on. Move the Wiimote and you know exactly what happens. Point at screen, move it about and you know the rest. Yet you’re there playing a computer game with a totally new interface.

Admittedly of course like Apple, Nintendo’s ads are very much like instructional videos too so pre-training new customers is good.

mmm... ear piecing
Photo owned by lorelei (cc)

There seems to be an issue with tech that if you upset the small enough comfort zones of the general public then they won’t buy your product. It does seem to be true. Something very upsetting to the engineers and early adopters who understand the power of these new innovations yet can’t understand why the general public can’t see how great this new thing is. I mean all you have to do is press this, twist that, press this three times and we’re off. Now press this fast to stop it. There. Over time I think this is why we’re seeing so many godforsaken shit web services and pieces of techwank come out which are all clones or tiny iterations of products that we already have. Nothing new is introduced or combined. Perish the thought. So much of these new things launched are just features. That makes the consumer comfortable. And the investors. And pisses off those that remain in the company that enjoy their ingenuity. And early adopters that scream for something new.

Pat Phelan asked are we (I guess he means humanity or the tech world) over-innovating. I don’t think we are. I think we’re scarificing innovation for over-iterating and becoming far too comfortable about making consumers feel comfortable about things remaining the same when we should be innovating on new tech and innovating on ways of introducing this new tech while the customer is almost oblivious. Design a product with underlying innovation so the consumer knows all about how to use it within 5 seconds of picking it up. This is what the iPhone does, it’s what the Wii does, it is not what the N95 does or Microsoft Powerpoint. An engineer won’t like how limited an iPhone is but a consumer doesn’t want to think they will have to change the way they work for the N95. An innovation is not product design. I think too many take that to mean that we should iterate.

Here’s a very long video that eventually sees Steve Jobs introduce the iMac, 10 years ago this week:

Arseblog now part of football network

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Arseblog is the most successful Irish blog with on average 16k visitors per day. It’s been winning awards left right and centre for years too and is a central hub for all things Gunners. Congrats to the Arseblogger who will now work fulltime on Arseblog which is part of the football network and which itself wants to turn itself into a social network for football. Football fans being the obsessive kind will probably make it a massive success.

Photo owned by menut (cc)

Fluffy Links – 07 May 2008

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Your fridge is going to have its own social network where it will talk to other fridges. It starts with radios though.

GreenYour – a Creative Commons search engine/directory for green guides.

Good ole nerdy joke t-shirts.

Peter Gabriel’s website got stolen. Heard they got in using a sledgehammer.

Facebook nabs more senior Googlers.

CCTV doesn’t work/too costly says copper. But the terrorism card will be used to keep them in the game.

Great tune.

I’m testing one of these soon. And the envelope. Oh did I mention I have a Macbook Air?

Remember Max from Gab and Max fame? He too got trapped in an elevator:

Those that can do. Again and again – Twitterfone

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

(Disclaimer: I helped Pat out with the PR for this)

Arrington calls him a serial entrepreneur and he’s bang on. Pat and a few more folks from the Telco 2.0 world have just launched Twitterfone. Or maybe Arrington said it was launching and they had no choice? 🙂


What is it? It’s a voice to text message service using text message rebroadcast service Twitter. I ring a Dublin number, leave a 15 seconds (max) voicemessage. It knows who I am from my caller ID and posts to my Twitter profile with a text version of what I uttered as well as a link to the audio message. Here’s my dulcent tones. And here’s how it showed up on Twitter.

Well done to Sean O’Sullivan and Ivan McDonald from Dial2Do who were involved in making this. It’s some of their core tech that powers Twitterfone. Sabrina’s design work at play too which is really fun I have to say. Love it.

Great to see yet another project from Pat launched and the same from Sean and Ivan. I can’t see young Phelan ever stopping.

Perlico sending out deceptive flyers to try and win new customers

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Got the below flyer in the letterbox this morning. It was only when I got to the very end that I realised it was a Perlico flyer. It was designed like it was some kind of service announcement from eircom which got me to read it thinking my service would be going down or something. I don’t think it is very wise to try and trick potentially new customers and I really think using eircom colours and branding too like eircom’s is in any way kosher. Complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority and ComReg lodged. Win my business with pricing and service not fraud.



Fluffy Links – Tuesday May 6th 2008

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

The people of Cuba are allowed to purchase PCs at long last. I’m sure many played around with homemade ones anyway and nicked ones. I’d love to see what they created themselves, it’s amazing what they have done with their cars from the 1950s. Ingenuity, it seems, thrives in environment where there’s scarcity.

This Niall McElwee thing is full of twists isn’t it?

Loving the new and free Nine Inch Nails album. Loving the way they are marketing this even more. Pay attention record industry.

Read this piece about Gary Vaynerchuk. Fascinating guy. A total energy bunny and a very rich man thanks to blogs and videos.

Not a sitcom a SATcom. A comedy you download to your GPS device set on a motorway journey. A really interesting blend of technology and art.

So someone already made an open source of Microsoft Photosynth and it looks like an open source version of their surface table thing is available too. Imagine if Microsoft themselves open sourced their model? Better yet, the Zen, it might sell more than a million!

Uh gawd. Barbie’s makers try and spin a “green” campaign from leftovers of the most eco-unfriendly toys in the world. This will not end well.

New Irish blog called Scumberculosis. Pithy political and cultural commentary?

The “Bertie, Take Enda With You” Facebook group now has almost 400 members. There are 50 people around the country sporting the badges too.

Meanwhile another tribute to Bertie.

Via You Ain’t No Picasso, Tom Waits announces some US tour dates. Ireland to follow?


Death Cab for Cutie – All is full of love

Family Guy

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Well that seemed to be a prank vid so here’s a real one:

Defrosting a fridge chez Mulley

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Defrosting a fridge takes too long. So bring in a hairdryer. But standing around with a hairdryer is not efficient when you can be doing other things while that’s happening. So tie the hairdryer to a chair and set it off. Today’s OCD moment is brought to you by carbon footprints and rising sea levels: