I came across this story on the BBC News website, which I hardly ever read these days.. I was immediately shocked by the language used – it’s a sad story of a homeless guy who desperately needed somewhere to stay, and managed to convince various hospitals around the UK to admit him overnight, which is surprisingly difficult in the UK, unlike other EU countries. Apparently now he’s been issued with an ASBO (anti-social behavior order) which is to stop him “abusing” the service!

In their words he “swindled” the NHS Trusts (ugh) out of between £400 and £1000 per night as he “took advantage” of staff and made up symptoms which he knew would get him admitted. It’s no wonder staff at UK hospitals are so reticent to admit ANYONE these days if the costs involved are so huge – how the hell does it cost an average of £700 a night to keep someone in a hospital bed? There are no doubt hospitals even as close as say the Ukraine, which have only £1000 a day budget for all the patients combined – what are these people doing? Can they not possibly see what an enormous waste this is: due to their own ridiculously bureaucratic and needlessly complex systems and “management”?

To quote: “Officers at the NHS and Counter Fraud and Security Management Service (NHS CFSMS)…” who the heck are they? Yet another quango within a quango busily running around with CCTV installations, “intelligence gathering” systems, and doubtless several racks of high-end computer hardware, Blackberries, customized mobile surveillance units, and who knows what else.. all to “catch” some extremely vulnerable people trying to get off the streets for a night. How much did the “operation” cost? And what, prey, are they achieving to make the world a better place, they are quite happy to call themselves “healthcare professionals” but that presumably doesn’t include the Hippocratic Oath. “Fiddling while Rome burns…” springs to mind.

There needs to be a radical rethink in the West, particularly the UK and the EU, on how much money is wasted on pet ideas, misguided “diversity” (a misnomer as they use it), so-called “health and safety” (really?) and bloated top-down structures with vast armies of management. How many resources are thrown at massive IT projects just for the sake of it? BBC radio had a documentary a while back on enormous overspends on IT projects which would probably never be delivered! I have seen myself so much stupidly overspecified setups, when often all that was needed was a pad and a pencil, or better yet, a human being with a brain. Instead whole networks are specified, ordered and then must be supported, integrated with other systems and finally replaced two years later because Microshaft have gone to Windows or Office or ShaftPoint version x+2 and no longer support the crap they’ve already paid for, but perhaps hasn’t yet been delivered.

The upshot of the BBC article was that the guy was at fault, what right did he think he had to stay in a hospital when he’s homeless? Oh sorry, doesn homelessness qualify as a health risk? So he’s supposed to sleep on the step outside, no wait, they wouldn’t want that, got their corporate image to consider after all; I even got warned not to smoke a cigarette OUTSIDE a hospital recently, so I took advantage of the indoor facilities instead in an empty ward.. who are they kidding here?
Please get a grip on reality: there are millions of homeless people around the world, just in the UK it runs into 100s of thousands.. and this needs urgent attention. We have plenty of accommodation to go round, hell we got some folks with 10 or more houses which they never stay in, empty office blocks outside every town centre, let’s open them up and at least give people the dignity of a roof over their head.

And they could make a start on savings by not translating every document into a plethora of obscure Asian languages in the name of “diversity” – as someone who speaks several languages I can see right through what they’re doing there – but that’s another story.


Since MEPIS went to version 7 (beta test) it’s now using the Debian stable packages along with some customized packages (the magic of MEPIS!) that are binary-compatible with Etch. I’d previously been put off because of the Ubuntu codebase, not that I’ve got anything against *ubuntu which are all DEB type distributions, but since I’ve got a variety of Debian Etch and testing/unstable boxen I didn’t want to confuse things too much.

Anyway it’s a treat to set up and use. I’ve got a relatively old Athlon-K7 based workstation in my bedroom and I wanted a quick install that included most of the clients I use: ktorrent, skype, akregator, as well as the ndiswrapper drivers for my Philips SNU6500 USB adaptor.

MEPIS ships with a number of ndiswrapper drivers preinstalled, after a short installation you can boot up and run ndiswrapper -l from the shell prompt to see which drivers are installed. I downloaded the Windows XP driver from the Philips site and unzipped that to the /tmp directory. This creates a subdirectory /tmp/SNU6500-v1.0.0.27/Driver/. Change to that directory and run ndiswrapper -i CPWUA6D.INF: this will copy the actual driver for the adaptor to /etc/ndiswrapper.

MEPIS uses network-manager to configure the wireless adaptors. I kept losing the configuration at reboot, so I added my wlan0 config to /etc/network/interfaces. Reading up on the docs it appears that any devices defined with a static address in interfaces will be ignored. I don’t have any other interfaces in the MEPIS machine so I disabled the service with sysv-rc-conf network-manager off.

My /etc/network/interfaces stanza looks like this:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet static
wpa-driver wext
wpa-ssid ***** (my essid)
wpa-psk ***** (my wpa password)

After a reboot the wlan0 interface came up and the knetworkmanager system tray app showed status connected. This was without doubt the easiest wireless setup I’ve ever done, testament to the intelligent MEPIS defaults.

I found a built in KDE app (mnetwork) which allows for configuring the LAN, either using network-manager or manually. Didn’t expect that (!), but in any case my manual settings didn’t break anything – sometimes so-called wizards can get confused and it’s nice to see this “assistant” is just that.

Long live MEPIS :-).

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“The elements of extreme capitalism – including winner take all,
damn the damage, zero tolerance for those who can’t make you
richer, contempt for activities without monetary profit, disrespect
for the less fortunate – spread like a virus to our communities,
our schools, our police departments, and our foreign policy”. Read more…

Brilliant and insightful essay by Sam Smith at The Progressive Review on the social ills of the US administration’s misguided policies and contempt for anything that does not conform to the narrow worldview on Wall St. The customer/market/government (insert one) is always right? No way! Good site BTW, other worthwhile reading can be found here ;-)

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Just reading on Usenet a lot of comments about bad experiences with Indian call centres. Can’t say that I agree – I’ve got an account with Demon Internet and a bookclub both of which I’ve spoken to over the weekend. All my calls were handled promptly and professionally, something I notice often is how polite Indians and others from the subcontinent are – even taking the trouble to call me back to make sure the issue had been dealt with. Here’s to them.

Reading this blog on the Times website made me realise just how much hate and dislike there is floating around. It’s no wonder that the world is at war if we are getting so upset about gum chewing and incorrect use of grammar.. It’s a pretty sad reflection on our society if we can’t or don’t want to find compassion and empathy for others. Instead of looking at what we have in common it seems that many of us focus upon minor, trivial differences. Instead of talking to others we adopt the approach that we all live on little islands and let petty things turn into dividing issues. Yes for sure there will always be mannerisms and behaviour that someone finds irritating, perhaps instead of bottling it up inside it would help to talk. I read so many comments and just thought: “why don’t you SAY something,” alas some folk prefer to let the irritation and dislike turn to hate. So the next time someone annoys you, drives badly, or does something else to irritate you: instead of letting this tiny irritation build into hatred, tackle it, maybe society will be a happier place. Or maybe not, you might get a negative response, but at least you got whatever it was off your chest instead of letting irritation turn to hatred.

I’ve been hearing lately about KDE4’s new features. Though I agree with the folks who are saying there are a lot of purely visual changes, I have to confess that I do get excited when there’s a new version of software I have come to like. I never was a really big fan of graphical desktops: with the notable exception of WindowMaker which is truly beautiful to work with. Since I moved from Redhat Fedora Core to the Debian Testing distro I chose KDE, partly because I need a multi-user setup for my family that can be made to look and feel close to MS Windows with the Redmond themes.

I saw an announcement for the Alpha2 tarball packages and I downloaded them, about 300Mb in total – unfortunately what I really wanted was the SVN snapshots, so I had to start again. Finally got everything untarred and updated about 0500 this morning. I’m not a programmer by trade so it’s all a little awkward and I have to look up a lot of development stuff: luckily there’s a great article on the KDE techbase wiki, which saved me a lot of time. The scripts on the same site work well with the build docs, I set up a seperate kde-devel user for simplicity. I’ve got qt4 compiled and kdelibs: not had any errors apart from my own spelling mistakes and diskspace warnings. You need lots of room to build as it needs seperate build and source directories: plus a directory for the install. It’s already used 5.3Gb disc: hope I’ve got enough with 16Gb!

Right, I’m going to finish it off now. Fingers crossed there won’t be any strange compile errors which I can’t fix myself. The major updates are committed on a Monday so I probably picked the right day for picking up a snapshot: no need to update until I’ve got a finished build. I want to help out with the development where I can, particularly documentation and scripting side. Signing off…

This time last year I managed to give up smoking by using patches every day. For one reason or another I gradually started lighting up again towards the end of the year; put it down to stress or lack of self control. Actually I can’t believe how silly I’ve been – I was so pleased to have quit after nearly fifteen years of smoking and I felt good for it. Well I’ve listened to all the usual advice about picking a day to quit, throwing everything away and to be honest that doesn’t work for me. It all seems far too austere, I’d rather just slap a patch on and slowly wean myself off. It’s all very well saying “not going to have another cigarette after Mondayor whatever” but in practice that sounds quite scary and a lot of people just keep putting off the date. I’ve used a lot of excuses, most recently that I didn’t want to upset the balance of medication, since I recently changed onto a lower dose of Clonazepam. Also I was waiting for a stress-free time, whatever that is! I guess the next stress-free time will be when I’m six feet under. As I learnt last year there’s never a perfect time, even though it was extreme to quit whilst I was waiting to be housed. Anyway this time I’ve really had enough – so even if I smoke the odd cigarette this week I’m going to persevere with the patches and gum.No Smoking Circle