GDPR . . .

GDPR – German Democratic Peoples’ Republic ?

Er. No.

General Data Protection Regulation. An EU Regulation which came into force on 25 May 2018. So, information about us online is safe now ? Allegedly yes.

Who does the GDPR affect?
The GDPR not only applies to organisations located within the EU but it will also apply to organisations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects.

Earlier in the year we were bombarded with snail mail and email from businesses seeking to assure us that they were complying with this new regulation and our personal details would be safe with them.

What constitutes personal data?
The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’ meaning any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier. This definition provides for a wide range of personal identifiers to constitute personal data, including name, identification number, location data or online identifier, reflecting changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people.

This sounds good, but in at least one letter received here there was the tell tale paragraph which said something like, ” We will never divulge any information about you that we hold except . . . ”  The list of exceptions was long, I think I counted about seventeen sub paragraphs, but the real sting came when you read each of those. There might be an organisation to which information must be revealable but then those organisations might have other organisations to which they also must reveal information if asked. And those organisations included various Government agencies, so I came to the conclusion that in effect our private information  is up for grabs. And you only need one or two organisations like Cambridge Analytica  to harvest where they, morally speaking, shouldn’t and GDPR becomes a dead letter.

We ourselves moved house a year ago. Our “change of address” endeavours have in the main been successful. The big failure has been the inability to, or lack of interest in, the cancelling the old address shown by various firms*, so that we keep getting two copies of catalogues. We have maintained a Royal Mail redirection service since we moved (originally set up for six months, we had to extend it to a year) but this runs out on 20th August, but I suspect the people now living in our old house will get unwanted mail for some time yet.
 

Notably : https://www.chums.co.uk/ and https://www.coopersofstortford.co.uk/

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The Rain it Raineth . . .

“When there are grey skies,
I don’t mind the grey skies . . . ”

Until recently the weather forecast was a steadily increasing number of days without rain, the last figure I remember was 50 days, and the country coloured various shades of yellows and orange denoting high temperatures. Over the last week this weather system has broken down and we are getting rain at regular intervals, the fields are changing from yellow and brown through a rather dirty looking greyish brownish green to something a bit more like grass. Hopefully the rainfall will be greater quantity wise over the Galloway hills and the reservoirs will be starting to be replenished.

In our garden the waiting weeds have scented the change and are springing up in great style. If only they were edible we could have fresh greens every day.

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Fake News, or, Two Sides of the Same Question . . .

We need to dump some cardboard at our local waste recycling centre – but – we need to be quick because on the Council website there is this . . .

 

 

 

Customer Notice

Threatened suspension of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

At this time Renewi UK Services Limited has threatened to suspend services from 3rd August 2018. Renewi operate 11 Household Waste Recycling Centres in Dumfries and Galloway:

Annandale and Eskdale – Beattock HWRC, Lockerbie HWRC and Annan HWRC
Nithsdale – Lochar Moss HWRC, Lincluden HWRC, Gatelawbridge HWRC and Sanquhar HWRC
Stewartry – Castle Douglas HWRC and Dalbeattie HWRC
Wigtown area – Whithorn HWRC and Galdenoch HWRC.

It is not clear whether this threat by Renewi UK Services Limited to suspend services will materialise. The Council will advise on its contingency arrangements in the coming weeks through our Social media, our website and the local press – should it be apparent that the threat will be carried out.

This does not affect Newton Stewart HWRC or Stranraer HWRC as these two sites are directly operated by the Council.

Notice that this is a “threat” by the company, hereinafter called “Renewi”, that currently holds the recycling contract.

But, we now go to the company’s website to see if we can glean anymore information . . .

Renewi To Exit From Its Dumfries And Galloway Operating Contract
Posted on 9 March 2018 by Darrel Moore

Renewi plc, the international waste-to-product business, today announces that it is in discussions with Dumfries and Galloway (“D&G”) Council and other stakeholders to initiate the termination of its loss-making PFI operating contract.

The D&G PFI project is unable to address the needs of Zero Waste Scotland (“ZWS”) legislation that sets demanding new requirements regarding landfill diversion and recycling from 2021.

Renewi has been working with D&G Council and other stakeholders for a number of years to determine how this 15-year-old PFI waste project and the related operating contract could be amended to meet the requirements of ZWS. However, despite these discussions, a workable solution compliant with ZWS has not been found.

“Terminating the operating contract is not a decision we have taken lightly and we will work with D&G Council, our employees and our other stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition.”

Accordingly, Renewi has initiated a termination of the operating contract, which is held between Renewi UK Services Ltd and Shanks Dumfries & Galloway Limited. It will enable D&G Council and other stakeholders to explore new ways to comply with the obligations of ZWS. The proposed termination of the operating contract is expected to become effective in the next financial year.

The remainder of Renewi’s Municipal Division is unaffected by this termination. As previously announced, the Division is performing largely in line with revised expectations for the year, delivering operational progress against its recovery plans.

Commenting on this decision, James Priestley, managing director of Renewi’s Municipal Division said: “Regrettably, the D&G PFI project and Renewi’s operating contract do not currently meet the objectives of the new Zero Waste Scotland legislation.

“Terminating the operating contract is not a decision we have taken lightly and we will work with D&G Council, our employees and our other stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition.

“Whilst our termination discussions are taking place, we will continue to ensure a high-quality and efficient service to the Council and the residents of Dumfries and Galloway. This decisive action is in line with our strategy to actively manage our portfolio of UK assets to reduce future risk.” *

So, it turns out that this has been known about since the 9th March 2018 and that the discussions have been going on for 15 years !

It would seem that the desirable aim of recycling everything into something useful is either unachievable, or only achievable at some cost which the Council is unwilling or unable to pay.  Given that the Government has been pursuing a relentless policy of cutting back on the central Government grant paid to Councils alongside the collected Council tax I suspect the Council simply has not got the money at its disposal to get anywhere near this Zero Waste Scotland target.

And they all lived happily ever after . . . 1st August 2018

We read today on Facebook that the waste collection centres in Dumfries and Galloway plus the household collections (no mention of those hitherto so far as I am aware !) are to continue “as normal”.

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The Perils of Awayness . . .

When you go away for a few days it is good advice to switch off all the unnecessary electrics. What you cannot predict however is that time when the electricity supplier will switch it off for you. On returning home recently we found all our cordless phones (BT 8500) flashing away and it took about 2 or 3 days for some of them to charge up again.

The usual search on Google showed that the rechargeable phone batteries were probably past their best, never ever having been replaced, and seemingly not having a very long life. More search revealed “BuyaBattery.co.uk” who delivered within 24 hours a set of new batteries for all our phones. The new batteries are inserted and everything appears to be working.

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If Disaster Strikes . . . or, “Be Prepared”

Getting Ready Together

Getting Ready Together

Back in 1938, 1939, with war most definitely on the horizon the Government set about preparing the nation for the worst. Today, as the prospect of a clean break with the European Union and its institutions and laws faces us the Government is slowly beginning to face its responsibilities, sharp as a door knob, faint but pursuing, it begins to wonder what sort of a mess it may have created out of its desire to create messes.

There is little the ordinary citizen can do except to try not to die.  In occasional tweets we read of folks saying that they are already stockpiling food, and the Government has leaked that it also is stockpiling – food, and medicines.  Next month it seems we are to be battered with all sorts of warning notices as what should have been thought of two or more years ago is dumped on us in one great steaming pile.

James Patrick, who writes on Twitter, has written a useful pamphlet which sets out some of the things we might do for ourselves before the end of March 2019 to mitigate the unpleasantness the Brexiteers might bring upon us. There is a screenshot of part of the front page above, and the document itself in pdf format can be found here or downloaded from the link below :

getting-ready-together1

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More Rain . . . !

Well, we have had a long summer of cloudless skies and no rain. Trying to keep the plants alive but also trying not to use up too much precious water. Last night a weather front finally broke through the anticyclonic barrier and we are getting continuous light rain in “scotch mist” clouds. The trees and shrubs are catching it and dripping it onto the ground – much better than torrential a downpour which simply runs off into drains and watercourses but does not penetrate to any depth.

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Rain . . . !

Today for the first time for several weeks we woke to a solidly grey sky. By mid morning it rained quite steadily for an hour or two.  I think it will need more than that to get down to any depth in the parched ground.  But a little is better than nothing. 

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Updates – Again . . .

I wonder if the geniuses who brought the internet into existence and linked us up into a world wide web knew that they were making jobs for life for the updaters ?

I managed to log in today after three “I am not a robot” screens and so WordPress is up to date as are all the other bits and pieces.

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Success !

After yesterday’s debacle it was back to the internetweb for further consultation using the new error code offered by the last failure. The general consensus seemed to be as follows :

1. Delete the entire ontents of the Software Downloads Folder. Some said delete the whole folder, some said don’t delete the folder. Very helpful !

2. Do the above deleting with the computer running in safe mode.

3. Switch off or disable your security programme.  Nice !

So, first of all it was how on earth do you get into safe mode now that tapping F8 on start up no longer works ? Found that out OK. Next how do I switch off the security suite ? Lots of information about what you should be doing to be safe, but very little about how to disable the thing.

Eventually, running in safe mode the the Software Downloads folder was emptied an the laptop restarted. Then with the security suite disabled the download process was attempted once again. At this point I left the room as watching a Windows laptop downloading a large bunch of files is like watching paint dry. At 10.00 pm I checked in and it said the download was ready to install, so once again, with small hope of success the install was commenced at 10.05 pm. Once again it stuck at 8%, but by 10.32 pm it had crept up to 19% and I left it to its own devices. Checking again at 12.02 am it had reached 97% – Wow ! – but showing no sign of further improvement I left the thing and went to bed.

By this morning, about 8.30 am it was showing that it was awaiting a restart. This done I found myself very crossly being made to tick all sort of things I disagreed with which broadly speaking mean that I think I have sold my soul to Messrs Microsoft.

But the wretched thing now works and we await the next major update for the joy of doing this all over again.

But, looking on the bright side at least this one did not trash the computer, and it only took 4 days !

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Why do we do these things to ourselves ?

The Microsoft “Fall Update” – 1709 – trashed my laptop completely and I had to do a complete Windows reinstall and lose all my programmes. It is only recently that I have finally got it back to something like its old set up.

Last Sunday my laptop announced that Windows 10 “Feature Update version 1803” was ready for download.

I really should know better by now, but in a triumph of hope over experience I told it to go ahead. To my surprise, somewhat hesitantly and slowly, it did so in typical Microsoft fashion, though in fairness I have to say that once the actual 0’s and 1’s began coming down the wires, it got itself along quite speedily.

But as usual it all ended in tears when the download got to 99% complete. There it was, and there it stuck.

So, I set about asking the web what to do next. Finding a Microsoft solution I tried it, but it simply didn’t work on my laptop. The next best idea was to go into the Windows folder, find Software Downloads and to delete the contents of the folder, but not the folder itself. This I was able to do except for one file which could not be deleted because it was “in use by another programme” – but which one ?

A day later I fired up and went straight to the Software Folder and the recalcitrant file deleted easily. In triumph I went into Settings and Update and began the 1803 download all over again. It started OK but then all went pear shaped with the legend ” Feature update to Windows 10, version 1803 – Error 0x80070002″. So, back I went to ask the web what that all meant. Lots and lots of explanations (just as there were for stuck downloads) but all very complex and techy. So, with the wisdom of age (a bit late in the day) I decided to wait and see.

And Lo ! Today the error message had disappeared and I was informed that the 1803 download was complete (when did that take place I ask ?) and I could go ahead and install. So that is where we are at now. Sitting for a long time on 8%, it has now crept up to 11% so it might be finished by the time the next Microsoft disaster is released.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my other laptop running on Linux Mint Cinnamon updates it self quickly and easily most days, and I am using it now to make this post while Windows 10 is scratching itself in the corner.

Update to the update . . .

The End

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