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Updated: 45 weeks 3 days ago

davblog - Dave Cross: Jungle Money

Sun, 02/06/2013 - 17:35

There’s been a lot of talk recently about what Nadine Dorries was paid for her appearances on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and why she hasn’t declared that fee yet.

By following the trail laid down by Unity in this excellent blog post and listening carefully to what Dorries says in this interview with Andrew Neil (I expect that’ll be there for another week or so) it becomes pretty obvious what has happened.

She hasn’t received the money yet.

Of course, you wouldn’t usually expect to wait six months for payment for a media appearance, so what has happened?

Dorries has a service company called Averbrook and all of her media work is now undertaken by this company. The Averbrook invoices media organisations for the work that Dorries does and the media companies pay the fees to Averbrook. The fees then sit in Averbrook’s bank account until needed.

At this point Dorries has received no money and therefore has no requirement to declare any income. In the Andrew Neil interview, she says “I have not personally benefited from going into the jungle”. She then explains that she has a company for her media work and although it isn’t made clear, it’s obvious that this company receives the money from this work.

Dorries goes on to say that when she benefits from that work, she will have to register the income. At some point in the future she will need to use this money and Averbrook will pay it to her. There are various ways for a director to take money out of a company. You might pay it as salary, you might pay it as dividends (if the director owns shares in the company) or, in extreme circumstances, you can close the company down and redistribute its assets. All of these will have varying tax implications and all of them will require Dorries to declare the income to parliament.

But here’s the interesting thing. The income that Dorries will receive from Averbrook will have no link back to its original source. The declaration will simply need to say “£X,000 dividend from Averbrook” or whatever is appropriate. There will be no way to say how much of the money comes from each individual source.

It’s a bit like money laundering. But, of course, this is all completely legal. Working through a service company is a really common way to manage tax affairs. It has tax benefits and (as we can see here) it has privacy benefits.

Of course, there’s a good argument that using a company like this goes against the spirit of the requirement for MPs to declare income. It would be hard to argue against that. But until the law is changed, you are very unlikely to see any MP stop using the system.

So what are the chances of the system changing? Rather slim I’d say. Why? Well because the people who would need to make the change are many of the people who are benefiting from this system.

But on this occasion, I’d have to say that Dorries isn’t the problem. She’s just taking advantage of a well-known system. And people aren’t asking her the right questions about it.

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Richard WM Jones: rich

Tue, 28/05/2013 - 13:59

The new curl support added to libguestfs 1.22 lets you open any ISO remotely from a public web site or FTP server:

$ export LIBGUESTFS_BACKEND=direct $ guestfish --ro -i --format=raw \ -a http://releases.ubuntu.com/precise/ubuntu-12.04.2-desktop-amd64.iso Operating system: Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS "Precise Pangolin" - Release amd64 (20130213) /dev/sda1 mounted on / ><fs> ll / total 2506 dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 . drwxr-xr-x 23 1000 1000 4096 May 28 13:55 .. dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 .disk dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 EFI -r--r--r-- 1 root root 236 Feb 13 22:21 README.diskdefines -r--r--r-- 1 root root 134 Feb 13 22:20 autorun.inf dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 boot dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 casper dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 dists dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 install dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 18432 Feb 13 22:21 isolinux -r--r--r-- 1 root root 16443 Feb 13 22:21 md5sum.txt dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 pics dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 pool dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 2048 Feb 13 22:21 preseed lr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 1 Feb 13 22:21 ubuntu -> . -r--r--r-- 1 root root 2504624 Feb 8 22:58 wubi.exe

Of course it is slow as hell and not nice on the web host. It makes lots of byte-range requests on the host, downloading a few KB with each request, which is kind of the worst case for webservers to handle.

Note also that Fedora’s curl is broken. I compiled my own from upstream git.


Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Richard WM Jones: rich

Fri, 24/05/2013 - 14:33

This directory contains experimental up to date libguestfs packages for Ubuntu 12.10. You should be able to install them by adding this line to /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb http://libguestfs.org/download/binaries/ubuntu1210-packages/ /

You will need to also:

sudo chmod 0644 /boot/vmlinuz-*

because of this Ubuntu bug.

Let me know if the packages work. Also what other versions of Ubuntu I should be building them for.


Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Richard WM Jones: rich

Fri, 24/05/2013 - 13:24

It looks like I might be doing a short talk at the CentOS Dojo and Barbecue at Aldershot, UK, Friday 12th July 2013.

It’ll probably be about scripting/programming libvirt and the virt tools, but mainly it’ll be a chance for Q&A about any virtualization topic in RHEL / CentOS.

Also they have a BBQ — with beer! Sadly since I’m driving there I won’t be able to drink any of the beer.

(Thanks Karanbir Singh, Justin Clift)


Categories: LUG Community Blogs

davblog - Dave Cross: The Political Web

Thu, 23/05/2013 - 13:32

I made a thing.

On Sunday I mentioned how OpenTech always makes me feel a bit embarrassed that I’m not doing more useful stuff – particularly in the kinds of areas that OpenTech speakers care about.

Usually, real life takes over before I get a chance to do anything about it and I forget about my embarrassment until the next OpenTech. This year, I managed to harness my embarrassment and actually do something productive.

It’s not like I built anything from scratch. This is is really just me finally shipping something that I’ve been working on (off and on – more off than on) for almost five years. I built the first prototype at a hack day in 2008. I even wrote about it at the time.

The Political Web is a site that is intended to be a one-stop-shop for finding out information about British MPs. Currently each MP has a page which lists a number of standard web pages that contain information about the MP (Wikipedia, The Guardian, TheyWorkForYou – things like that). Of course each MP also has a number of non-standard pages on the internet (an official web site, a blog, perhaps a Twitter account) and adding those is going to be a harder job.

Previously two things have stopped me launching this. One was the fact that I wanted to support those all of those other sources of information. But I’ve decided to go for a “minimum viable product” approach and show you what I’ve already got. The other thing that prevented me talking about it much was that I thought I’d need someone to make it look nice (my web design skills are horrible). But the arrival of Bootstrap means that even a design ignoramus like me can build a site that looks more than half-decent.

So there you go. It’s there for you to play with. And there will (hopefully) be more coming soon. Please let me know if you find it useful.

And thanks to all the giants whose shoulders I’m standing on. The site wouldn’t exist without the TheyWorkForYou API, the Perl Dancer framework and Twitter Bootstrap.

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Rev. Simon Rumble: Awesome weekend camping

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:30

We had a fantastic 4-day  weekend camping with our kids down in Bundeena. Bit of a risk this late in the season but we got extremely lucky. 26 degrees every day! Our kids were a bit unwell at times, with bad colds and Louis seemed to have a short bout of gastro. But we still had loads of fun.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Rev. Simon Rumble: Early start

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07

Ruby has me out of bed at 0530 this morning so everything moved along earlier than usual. Got to daycare and realised we had 35 minutes to kill so we stopped for smiley babycinos.

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Rev. Simon Rumble: Vodafone Foundation cooks for OzHarvest #charityleave

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07

We spent the day cooking for charity. Lots of fun. I helped on chicken cacciatore and another team did amazing apple calzones. Good stuff and quite fun.

My wimpy office hands scored some nice blisters cutting up ten chickens.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Rev. Simon Rumble: Home alone Dad, forced to fend for himself

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07

Holly's out to see The Hobbit so I'm home along with the kids. Improvised Ploughmans of:

  • Home made bread I baked earlier
  • Leftover Xmas ham (almost finished)
  • Selection of cheeses we didn't eat over Xmas
  • Atomic Pale Ale
  • Tomato, walnut and pomegranate molasses salad (home grown tomatoes, recipe from Casa Moro)
No need to send rescuers. Though a link to the stream for tonight's game would help.
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Rev. Simon Rumble: Contract or permie? Quick app to compare contract rates to permanent salaries

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07

I've always had a spreadsheet to help me compare a daily contract rate to a "standard" salary, to ensure I'm always comparing like for like when considering jobs. A newer wrinkle has been recruiters quoting "package" salaries, which just means you need to multiply by 0.91 to get the "standard" salary (ex super). But it's always been confusing.

I've recently been sharing my spreadsheet with friends who've been considering contract jobs. The spreadsheet was fine, but a bit clunky and I'd only ever bothered to make it convert daily rate to "standard" salary.

To make this work a bit better, I created ContractOrPermie.com, a little one-page application I wrote to allow you to quickly and easily compare contract rates with standard salaries. It's only really suitable for Australia.

As well as nicely solving this particular problem, I also got to try out Twitter Bootstrap, which means it looks great in all browsers without me having to futz around with CSS. I'm hosting it using the new functionality Amazon Web Services have launched to allow static file hosting at the root of a domain using Amazon S3 (in the new Australian data centre).

Anyway, check out ContractOrPermie.com and let me know what you think.
Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Rev. Simon Rumble: Camping on a soggy weekend

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07

I took Louis camping this weekend in Bundeena. Train, ferry then a short hike to the campsite on the edge of the Royal National Park. The weather outlook before we left was pretty shaky, and it lived up to the forecast: heavy showers and strong winds pretty much the entire time. Louis was so excited about the idea of camping that I had to take him, and we had an excellent time.

Satellite view of the campsite

It's an astonishingly beautiful spot, on the edge of a lagoon that adjoins Port Hacking, so you're camped amongst mangroves and birds with a view across the water of Cronulla. So close to civilisation, but you feel like you're a million miles away.

Saturday after arriving at the camp site, we pitched the tent just in time to shelter in it from a shower. Next we pottered around the low-tide lagoon and big spit of sand that divides the lagoon from Port Hacking. We found some pretty interesting things along the sand including a cobalt blue piece where a chunk of seaweed was attached to the sea floor. Any seaweed experts know what that's about?

Dinner was interesting. The BBQs were fortunately sheltered from the frequent showers. We got the sausages on and Louis announced he needed to use the loo, so we headed off. As we came back we saw a murder of crows on the BBQs eating our dinner! We ended up with just a single sausage between us for dinner. Fortunately I'd over catered on snacks so we didn't go to bed hungry. (PS, yes I've always wanted to use the term "murder of crows".)

Next morning we pottered around the sand dunes then hiked back into town for coffee/babycino just in time to meet up with Holly and Ruby who'd driven to meet us. Lunch was with RichDebs and their kids for an amazing cooked lunch at their place. Sadly we didn't get to stay as long as I wanted, Holly and the kids were knackered so we popped home.

Lovely weekend, despite the weather! Thanks again to Debs and Rich for an amazing lunch.
Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Rev. Simon Rumble: Simon Rumble taxidermy

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07
SRSLY?


Moral of the story: don't Google yourself!
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Rev. Simon Rumble: Alternatives to Posterous?

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07
My blog has been on Posterous for some years now and it's been awesome. The best thing about it is that you just email a bunch of stuff, with whatever attachments in whatever format are relevant, and they just work.

Sadly they're shutting down following their talent acquisition by Twitter. That's a real shame. Now I have to find an alternative.

Requirements:
  • Hosted. I'm not going to maintain a server just for blogging thanks.
  • Allows custom JS. I'm always testing out new analytics tools on my own sites.
  • Post through email
Squarespace is lovely but pretty expensive for what I need, unless I can consolidate all three sites into one platform while keeping the domains (waiting on their ticket response).

I had high hopes for Markdown-based blog tools like Jekyll, but I find them a bit clunky. Posterous has got me used to a really easy blogging workflow that works well for me.

Any suggestions? I'm happy to pay.
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Rev. Simon Rumble: Current status

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07

Chilling in Jervis Bay. Weather has turned out much better than the forecasts. Lovely.

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Rev. Simon Rumble: Snorkelling photos

Tue, 21/05/2013 - 02:07
I've been getting into snorkelling a bit recently. I've always enjoyed it but recently I bought some good quality gear, replacing the toy shop crap I've been using. It's another world with good equipment! It's not easy to get time, but so far I've snorkelled Jervis Bay, Bushrangers Bay, Clovelly and The Haven in Terrigal.

My son has been asking what it's like, so I bought the Kogan waterproof camera case for $19. Took it out last weekend for a spin at The Haven but the visibility was terrible. The camera case works a treat though, and I'm looking forward to using it some more. Need to work out a strap to attach it to my arm or something though.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Richard WM Jones: rich

Mon, 20/05/2013 - 19:51

qemu 1.5.0 has been released, featuring ssh support so you can access remote disks over ssh, including from libguestfs.

Here’s how to use this from guestfish:

$ export LIBGUESTFS_BACKEND=direct $ guestfish --ro -a ssh://onuma/mnt/scratch/winxp.img -i Welcome to guestfish, the guest filesystem shell for editing virtual machine filesystems and disk images. Type: 'help' for help on commands 'man' to read the manual 'quit' to quit the shell Operating system: Microsoft Windows XP /dev/sda1 mounted on / ><fs> ll / total 1573209 drwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4096 Apr 16 2012 . drwxr-xr-x 23 1000 1000 4096 May 20 19:47 .. -rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Oct 11 2011 AUTOEXEC.BAT -rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Oct 11 2011 CONFIG.SYS drwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4096 Oct 11 2011 Documents and Settings -rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Oct 11 2011 IO.SYS -rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Oct 11 2011 MSDOS.SYS -rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 47564 Apr 14 2008 NTDETECT.COM drwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4096 Oct 11 2011 Program Files drwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4096 Oct 11 2011 System Volume Information drwxrwxrwx 1 root root 28672 Oct 11 2011 WINDOWS -rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 211 Oct 11 2011 boot.ini -rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 250048 Apr 14 2008 ntldr -rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 1610612736 Oct 11 2011 pagefile.sys
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davblog - Dave Cross: OpenTech 2013

Sun, 19/05/2013 - 15:32

Yesterday was the (almost) annual OpenTech conference. For various reasons, the conference didn’t happen last year, so it was good to see it back this year.

OpenTech is the conference where I most wish I could clone myself. There are three streams of talks and in pretty much every slot there are talks I’d like like to see in more than one stream. These are the talks that I saw.

Electromagnetic Field: Tales From the UK’s First Large-Scale Hacker Camp (Russ Garrett)
Last August, Russ was involved in getting 500 hackers together in a field near Milton Keynes for a weekend of hacking. The field apparently had better connectivity than some data centres. Russ talked about some of the challenges of organising an event like this and asked for help organising the next one which will hopefully take place in 2014.

Prescribing Analytics (Bruce Durling)
Bruce is the CTO of Mastodon C, a company that helps people extract value from large amounts of data. He talked about a project that crunched NHS prescription data and identified areas where GPs seem to have a tendency to prescribe proprietary drugs rather than cheaper generic alternatives.

GOV.UK (Tom Loosemore)
Tom is Deputy Director at the Government Digital Service. In less than a year, the GDS has made a huge difference to the way that the government uses the internet. It’s inspirational to see an OpenTech stalwart like Tom having such an effect at the heart of government.

How We Didn’t Break the Web (Jordan Hatch)
Jordan works in Tom Loosemore’s team. He talked in a little more detail about one aspect of the GDS’s work. When they turned off the old DirectGov and Business Link web sites in October 2012, they worked hard to ensure that tens of thousands of old URLs didn’t break. Jordan explained some of the tools they used to do that.

The ‘State of the Intersection’ address (Bill Thompson)
Bill’s talk was couched as a warning. For years, talks at OpenTech have been about the importance of Open Data and it’s obvious that this is starting to have an effect. Bill is worried that this data can be used in ways that are antithetical to the OpenTech movement and warned us that we need to be vigilant against this.

Beyond Open Data (Gavin Starks)
Gavin has been speaking at OpenTech since the first one in 2004 (even before it was called OpenTech) and, as with Tom Loosemore, it’s great to see his ideas bearing fruit. He is now the CEO of the Open Data Institute, an organisation founded by Tim Berners-Lee to the production and use of Open Data. Gavin talked about how the new organisation has been doing in its first six months of existence.

Silence and Thunderclaps (Emma Mulqueeny)
Emma has two contradictory-sounding ideas. The Silent Club is about taking time out in our busy lives to sit and be still and silent for an hour or so; and then sending her a postcard about what you thought or did during that time. The Thunderclap is a way to get a good effect out of that stack of business cards that we all seem to acquire.

Thinking Pictures Paul Clarke)
Paul takes very good photographs and used some of them to illustrate his talk which covered some of the ethical, moral and legal questions that go through his mind when deciding which pictures to take, share and sell.

1080s – the 300seconds project (300seconds)
The 300 seconds project wants to get more women talking at conferences. And they think that one good way to achieve that is for new speakers to only have to talk for five minutes instead of the full 20- or 40-minutes (or more) that many conferences expect. The Perl community has been using Lightning Talks to do this with great success for over ten years, so I can’t see why they shouldn’t succeed.

Politics, Programming, Data and the Drogulus (Nicholas Tollervey)
Nicholas is building a global federated, decentralized and openly writable data storage mechanism. It’s a huge task and it’s just him working on the project on his commutes. Sounds like he needs a community. Which is handy as the very next talk was…

Scaling the ZeroMQ Community (Pieter Hintjens)
Peter talked about how the ZeroMQ community runs itself. Speaking as someone who has run a couple of open source project communities, some of his rules seemed a little harsh to me (“you can only expect to be listened to if you bring a patch or money”) but his underlying principles are sound. All projects should aim to reach a stage where the project founders are completely replaceable.

The Cleanweb Movement (James Smith)
I admit that I knew nothing about the Cleanweb Movement. Turns out it’s a group of people who are building web tools which make it easier for people to use less energy. Which sounds like a fine idea to me.

Repair, don’t despair! Towards a better relationship with electronics (Janet Gunter and David Mery)
Janet and David started the Restart Project, which is all about encouraging people to fix electrical and electronic devices rather than throwing them out and buying replacements. They are looking for more volunteers to help people to fix stuff (and to teach people how to teach stuff).

CheapSynth (Dave Green)
Dave Green has been missing from OpenTech for a few years, but this was a triumphant return. He told us how you can build a cheap synth from a repurposed Rock Band game controller. He ended his talk (and the day) by leading the room in a rendition of Blue Money.

As always, OpenTech was a great way to spend a Saturday. Thank you to all of the organisers and the speakers for creating such and interesting day. As I tweeted during the day:

Being at @opentechuk always makes me embarrassed that I’m not getting more done. Which is, I suppose, the point of it :/

— Dave Cross (@davorg) May 18, 2013

 

But I spent yesterday hacking on something. More on that later.

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Richard WM Jones: rich

Fri, 17/05/2013 - 19:51

Put it in your calendars .. May 28th is Fedora 19 virtualization test day.

New features include nested virtualization on Intel, new Boxes, new libosinfo, new qemu, KMS-based spice driver, live storage migration and virtio RNG.

Every day is libguestfs test day. Just follow the instructions here.


Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Richard WM Jones: rich

Thu, 16/05/2013 - 22:41

OpenSCAP is a project that lets you scan physical machines looking for known vulnerabilities or configuration problems (like public-writable directories).

Obviously it would be good to use this to scan guests, especially in a cloud scenario where you want to help naive users not to deploy guests that are just going to get pwned the minute they go online.

New upstream in OpenSCAP is the ability to scan chroots. You can use this to scan containers, or using guestmount, scan offline guests.

Usage with guestmount is described here or here.

(Thanks Daniel Kopecek and Peter Vrabec)


Categories: LUG Community Blogs