Tuesday, 22 December 2009

More on cyberbullying...

Happened across a bunch more useful bits and pieces, mainly on the BBC Newsbeat site...

You probably also want to take a look at my Cyberbullying resources post

Online bullying: Privacy v safety - discusses some internet blocking systems

Facebook tackles online bullying - if you use Fcaebook it's worth actually reading the terms and conditions. There's all sorts of stuff that can get you booted off it you know...

'Action needed' on internet bullying - apparently as many as 340,000 kids are regularly bullied via technology of some sort

Thousands turn to cyberbully site - about the setting up of CyberMentors which tries to help stuff. It also links to BeatBullying, both of which could be useful

The dangers of proxy servers

Yes, we know they're there.

We even pick up when they're being used, although we don't think it's that widespread (tends to go through peaks and troughs to be fair).

Interesting article though - links quite interestingly with the EDP front page I ranted talked about a couple of weeks back...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Pasting date values

OK - so you know how to copy stuff from one sheet to another and probably know how to do the Paste Special > Values thing to get the actual cell values rather than the cell reference.

But, when you do that the formatting can go dodgy, dates in particular.

So, rather than pasting the values go Paste Special > Values and number formats instead. And it works.

Rock and roll.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Hannah decides to do some concatenation

Concatenation is when you link stuff together in a cell.

For example, you might link cells A2 and B2 together using
=A2 &" " &B2
The ampersands (the & thingie) do the linking. The " " just adds a space between the two cell contents. If A2 and B2 had forename and surname in then that might produce a more useful cell to use.

There's an example of how to use concatenation to produce a cool and funky order number at That Blue Square Thing. Check it out, it's cool and funky and there are no chickens to be seen.

Hannah says concatenation is cool.

e2a: I've not thrown the macro code in as a screenshot as well. Just because I'm feeling kind.

The FSA and data protection

Just taking a look at how the FSA (Financial Services Authority to you guv) uses ICT threw up an article about them fining someone or other for Data Protection Act breaches.

This might be quite an interesting article for jan10 - it would cover the DPA aspect and allow you to cover a regulatory authority, although the pros and cons aren't awfully clear. Might be worth a starting point though.

Normal, Extreme and Erroneous

And that's just the usual Year 13 class...

So, this is about testing and test plans.

When you create them - and this applies equally for unit 10 (spreadsheets) and unit 3 (databases) you need sets of test data. That means data you want to use to test that your system works properly and check that it gives you the expected results.

You need to be really clear about the data you're going to use - that means I expect to see precisely what you're going to input - 10 in that box, Blue in that option and so on.

Now, the data needs to include 3 types:
  • Normal - this is data which you would expect. Standard data that the system should accept without any problems
  • Extreme - this is data at the extreme range of acceptable. You sometimes see this called 'boundary values'. You need to test each side of the boundary - so if a data value should accept values from 1-9 then I'd expect to see 9 and 10 being tested; if it has to be a maximum length then I'd expect testing at that length and one above the length and so on
  • Erroneous - this is data which is clearly wrong - data which should never be accepted by the system. You want the system to reject this data. So, if I wanted a value 1-9 then I'd test things like 14, 473535, -1, 0, 4.5 and red.

Testing and Test Plans and Tests and other duck stuff

Ooh, I love a test. Especially in the Unit 10 spreadsheet exam

There are 12 marks (out of 70...) for testing and test plans - so they're important! It's rows f and g of the markscheme you need to consider: row f is in the prep work; row g is in the exam.

1. Plan first:

a) You need (second row of f):
  • a plan which shows how you will test each individual element of the spreadsheet. This means each time data is entered, a button pressed, an option chosen or a spinner or tick box or something clicked.
  • this plan needs to be in a sensible order
  • it needs to say what you're going to do, what data (precisely) you're going to test the spreadsheet with, and what exactly the expected output is (bear in mind, doing something on one worksheet might have an impact on several worksheets)
b) Then you need (first row of f):
  • a plan for the whole system - i.e. taking a series of clients through the spreadsheet from start to finish as if they were doing it for real
  • this needs to include the expected output as well
  • there must be sets of test data (second mark requires this)
2. Do the Tests

For row g all you do is actually follow the test plan through and provide evidence of doing so. It's important in this bit to show whether or not the actual outcome is what you expected it to be.

This means for both parts of the test plan - the individual testing elements and the whole system testing

Here's a hint - this will need a bunch of screenshots and might take a while. Numbering your tests will make this a load easier.

You'll also want to look at Testing, Testing 124 which I blogged last year (it's about databases but it'll kinda work) as well as Normal, Extreme and Erroneous which I'll blog in a minute.

Web filters, Australian style

It's always a good idea to develop policies which follow the Chinese government isn't it?

Seems like the Australian government is forcing ISPs to ensure they filter out "illegal" content.

Hmm - good idea? Well, I suppose it depends.

Who decides what is or isn't illegal and when do they do that? And who looks at what's illegal and keeps an eye on what they're banning? And how far do you take this?

Sure, there's stuff that no-one wants access to, but how do you determine where that line is? How far does this damage free speech?

Tricky one - but I how far is it before you move from filtering "illegal" activities to deciding that dissent is illegal? And then do you become the Chinese government?

Monday, 14 December 2009

Tattoo me...

On the news this morning - the potential use of infra-red digital photography to capture images of tattoos which might be useful in capturing villans.

There's a handy BBC article (Camera filter reveals tattoo clue) as a starting point and an article in the Derby Telegraph. That led me to the press release on the University of Derby's site:
"Identifying individuals using tattoos has been an established part of forensic science practice for some time, but there can be cover-ups of tattoos with lasers, more tattoos or surgery."

It is now possible to take a control photograph and a separate photograph with an infra-red filter to take images of the tattoo, and determine if it is indeed the original or is a cover-up, or altered tattoo on the surface.

Digital photography means that moments after the images have been taken, they can be viewed on a laptop or computer screen - making this interesting approach now more feasible for use in everyday forensic work, compared to more traditional processes."

David Bryson, quoted from link above
From there I got to the Forensic sciences faculty pages at Derby. Now I wonder if this has any other potentially useful ICT sorts of applications you might be able to use? I'm thinking we can get CSI, Spooks andWaking the Dead into this newsletter you know...

Then I got to David Bryson's bio on the Derby website and from there to his own site called Cladonia Resources which might possibly have something vaguely useful on it. It was quite interesting following the path to get there though... . A prize to the first person who can tell me (withoug using google) who or what Cladonia is. My money's on Mr Heald...

Ooh, really obscure cultural reference in the title to this post btw...

Hannah says decompiling flash files is fun...

So, let's say your Flash file is corrupt, but you do still have the swf file.

Now, I know what you're thinking. What kind of doofus doesn't keep a back up of their flash file each time they save it eh? Hmm...

Anyway - it is possible to recover some of the fla - maybe not the Action Script, but at least some of the other bits and pieces.

Hannah says she knows someone who knows someone who used the SWF Decompiler from SourceTec software in the free 30 day trial mode. If you pay it might even be able to get he action script for you (apparently - I know nothing about whether this is true, and neither does Hannah).

Hannah says always keep a backup of your fla files. Hannah also says crumbs DM...

Beanie gives you some links

Beanie says "are you frustrated that the filtering systems won't let you look at useful articles about facial recgnition"?

Try these then:

Facial recognition - how stuff works

Biometrics - a review thing?

You might also want to look at the post on Police legal and regultory authorities. It's quite useful.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

The internet in school

Oh dear.

The front page of today's EDP screams something about kiddies in Norfolk schools getting access to, well, dodgy content (I don't want this blog filtered by using the obvious words, so it will remain DC and we'll all understand what I mean).

Here's what it says in the lead paragraph:
Norfolk children have been exposed to... [Dodgy Content] ...while using school computers, with education chiefs admitting last night they have no “100pc safeguard”
Shock! Horror!

Well, that would be my interpretation of the lead. I'd be thinking "Oh noes, there is DC rife throughout the schools and the council isn't doing anything about it".

And I'd be wrong - and the EDP should, in my opinion, be ashamed of it's front page today.

You see, reading the article further turns up that:
  • there are 180,000 school children in Norfolk schools
  • there are 450 schools in Norfolk
  • there were, over the last two years, 25 incidents of children accessing Dodgy Content
Hang on, let's think about that. 25 incidents? 25 in two years? By 180,000 children?

The EDP has it wrong. Norfolk County Council is clearly doing a splendid job at stopping it's school kids accessing DC. Let's face it - how many of those children do you think access the odd bit of DC at home? Or on their phones? Or hear the odd DC phrase (because that's included in those 25 incidents - not just images, but words as well).

But, oh no, the EDP assures us that
parents will be concerned by evidence that even schools are not 100pc reliable in protecting their children against [DC].
No! Parents should be applauding Norfolk County Council for restricting this to 25 incidents. And, to be honest, anyone who doesn't appreciate that hasn't got the faintest clue how the internet works, let alone how it's used by teenagers.

Yes, it's worrying that 18 of the 25 incidents were in primary schools. But overall I'm with this view:
With so many new sites constantly being created, no internet security system can provide a 100pc safeguard, but our systems our in place to spot and act upon inappropriate site and 25 instances in two years, given the 30,000 computers being used daily in schools, shows that in the large majority of cases the system works robustly
Exactly. Demonstrating, yet again, that journalists know little about schools and usually less about the interwebz...

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pink stinks!

Pink stinks - and causes girl people to be choosing less challenging careers apparantly.

Fair nuff.
Parents are being urged to boycott shops selling pink toys and gifts by a campaign group.

Pinkstinks says the "pinkification" of little girls causes them to choose less challenging careers and pass up opportunities as they grow up.

Polly Toynbee and Justice Minister Bridget Prentice are among those backing the campaign.

Pinkification? Cool.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Spammers in the can


Police shut down 1,200 scam shopping websites anyway. So, I presume, the police need computer experts to help them with this sort of thing? Might fit Jan 10 content, at least as a bit of an aside perhaps.
The 1,219 websites purported to sell items ranging from Ugg boots and Tiffany & Co jewellery to GHD hair straighteners.
Well, that'll be all my pressies then...

Apparently the Met has a specialist e-crime unit - the PCeU (Police Central e-crime Unit). Might be worth looking and seeing if you can find anything about them (e2a: here's their website - use the left hand menu to find stuff). The Met also has a Fraud Alert! webpage which may have useful bits and bobs on it. Perhaps.

Interetsingly some regulatory organisations are name checked in the article as well - Consumer Direct, Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading. I guess these guys must use computer people as well.

Cyberbullying resources

Some links suitable for the AiDA Think, Click SPB.

You may also want to take a look at More on cyberbullying, where I've added some more resources...

STOP cyber bullying - nice looking site, although the advice is a bit text heavy. It's also split into age groups and has sections for parents and teachers.

Get Game Smart - useful for online gaming advice about safety, especially for parents

'Cyber Monday' warning for online shoppers - advice for keeping safe whilst shopping online

Internet safety for children targeted - ooh, everyone in primary school is going to have lessons on interwebz safety

CEOP help buttons on social networking sites
- BBC report

Tanya Byron talks about e-safety - BBC report

Pupil's views of web filters - BBC news report (you'll need headphones)

News report: children learn about e-safety - a primary school class

Digital Footprints - from Kids Smart. Explains what they are and why you should be bothered.

Cybersafety tips for using Twitter - the site looks like it must have lots of other useful links on it

Instant Messaging safety- from Microsoft so it must be reasonably reliable (probably

Blog safety advice - how to stay safe if you have a blog

Gloucestershire police mobile phone safety tips for kids - good for stuff on serial numbers and not getting your phone stolen

Cell phone safety tips - this one has more general advice

Safe2Read - some e-mail safety tips aimed at kids and parents

Downloading music safety - seems to be written for parents

12 Newsletter design mistakes

I originally got this list from One Page Newsletters. I'm not sure, the content there seems to have to be paid for now (and it sucks as a webpage fwiw - look at the length of that!).

There's a copy of the detail on this on the school system. It may be on the Learning Platform as well, I don't remember (e2a: yes, it's in the Newsletter production folder that you'll find in the AS Unit 1 section).

But here's the base list if the 12 most common newsletter design mistakes:
  1. Nameplate clutter - too much info in the newsletter name
  2. Lack of white space
  3. Unnecessary graphic accents - borders, lines etc...
  4. Text wraps
  5. Overuse of upper case type
  6. Underlining - just don't
  7. Long subheads - short and sweet, like me
  8. Inappropriate typeface choices - use serif fonts already
  9. Inappropriate type sizes - 12 is often too large for body copy you know!
  10. Insufficient line spacing - always think about increasing it a little
  11. Failure to hyphenate - arguments both ways on this, but it might well be a good idea
  12. Excessive colour - 2 colours plus B&W is recommended
Yes, you can ignore all of this. But it might be a good idea to think about it at least.

Stars of CCTV - streamed on the web

Odd story.

There's a proposal to put CCTV streams live on the web as streaming video.

Yeah, so I could be viewing a stream and see someone I know doing something they shouldn't. Perhaps?

The proposal is that there would be a prize for the best "crime spotter" each month - £1000 I think.

Aside from all the civil liberties issues associated with this, there's some useful factoids about CCTV in the article and some evaluation of it's effectiveness (or not).

Open Sesame

Sesame is the Open University students magazine.

Yes, it's the OU so it's aimed perhaps at slightly older people than you might want. But all the copies of the magazine are downloadable (often large!) pdfs.

You can find Sesame at the OU website.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

NHS IT System...

Just sticking this story on here in case I can't find it again.

Good example of an over-ambitious ICT system - the NHS system gets "scaled back"

Friday, 4 December 2009

Police, legal and regultory organisations

Did some talking when I was in London yesterday to other teachers dealing with this stuff - as well as one of the chief examiner blokes for the specification. This is January 2010 content btw.

We came up with a few ideas.

The key point to remember is this is the caveat that the uses of ICT need to be ways "to combat threats to individuals and society". That actually takes out some possible uses.

Stuff that you might want to consider:

  • HOLMES is an obvious one
  • CCTV
  • Number plate recognition -wiki page
  • Speed cameras perhaps
  • Facial recognition stuff (from biometric data - they started using this at airports last summer) - a lot of odd biometric stuff is covered in this Guardian article. This is the wikipedia page on Facial recognition systems. How Stuff Works also has a page on this.
  • Things like swabs for explosive residue maybe?
  • Databases used by people like the probation service would, presumably, make it easier to track where people are and not to lose them
  • Offender tags?
  • Maybe stuff connected to courts?
  • Law Technology News is almost certainly worth a look. You'll need to dig out the useful stuff, but there's probably something here if you're struggling for interesting legal stuff.
  • Certainly stuff like the Financial Services Authority is OK - the potential for insider trading, for example, could destabilise the financial system and therefore be a threat to society
  • The DVLA maybe - although how you'd link this to a threat I'm less sure: perhaps through keeping a record of which cars have tax - are untaxed cars more likely to be driven by people who are a risk (e.g. disqualified or untrained?) and less likely to be uninsured, which pushes up everyone else's insurance? Tricky though.
  • Maybe things like the TV licence people - but I'm not sure how this comes down to a threat.
  • The Nuclear Inspectorate people
Ideas? Post a comment - use this as a place to share ideas. Perhaps?

Not forgetting that they can't be control systems.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Oooh, Spooks...

Just watching Spooks now - about 20 minutes or so into this episode (episode 5 - it won't be on iPlayer just yet), some interesting IT which, although it may or may not be pure fantasy, would make a really quite cool hook for a newsletter article imo.