Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Basically Bonkers

Ian Oakley sounds like he should have been a fairly bright, if somewhat dull, person. His picture makes him look pretty dull too. In fact he sounds like he should have been very dull:

  • Went to Durham University - yep, dull, although we'll give him some credit for taking History
  • Regulator at the FSA - dull to the max
  • Founding Chairman of Monmouth Conservative Future - sounds dull, whatever it is
  • Facebook friend of Chris Grayling, Grant Shapps and Louise Bagshawe (although his Facebook profile seems to have gone) - really big yawn
  • Conservative candidate for Newport East in 2001 - fairly dull, managed to get ex-Tory Alan Howarth's majority for Labour under 10,000
  • Councillor in Hillingdon - du.. well you get the idea
  • Conservative parliamentary candidate for Watford
Or at least he was the Tory candidate for Watford until about two weeks ago, which is when he stops sounding quite so dull. He was arrested in connection with a campaign of harassment against Liberal Democrats in Watford and resigned as the parliamentary candidate. There's a comment on that TimesOnline article that maybe Oakley was the real victim. That suggestion doesn't look quite so clever today as Oakley pleaded guilty at St Albans Magistrates' Court to five counts of criminal damage and two of harassment. It seems that over a period of two to three years Oakley targetted his Lib Dem opponents by:
  • Slashing car tyres
  • Smashing lights on cars
  • Making silent phone calls
  • Sending poison pen letters
  • Painting grafitti on an opponent's house calling him a "perv"
  • Accused one of his opponents of being a child abuser
Now, do you think he learnt this kind of thing at Durham, the FSA or Conservative HQ? The Mags told Oakley that his conduct was "very, very serious indeed, so serious that custody would be an option".

Oakley has been taken off the main Conservative party website, but his entry hasn't disappeared yet - you can still find it through the cache. The Watford Conservatives site also seems to have purged any mention of Oakley, but their banner proclaims "Cleaner. Greener. Safer." and it's a good point. Keep a close eye on the perps at all times and you should be a lot safer.

Daniel Finkelstein fesses up to his part in Oakley's selection and says that there "wasn't the smallest sign that he was, well, basically bonkers."

Monday, 4 August 2008

Rumours of my demise...

... have been greatly exaggerated. Although this site hasn't seen much action for a while I have been active, for instance on Twitter. Everyone knows what Twitter is by now, but if you don't then think of it like microblogging, such as Tumblr, but more communal and immediate. It's one of those technologies that tend to all get lumped together as "social networking", but I see Twitter as sociable, not just social. While it gets compared to Facebook statuses it is clearly far more versatile than that. Have a look at Twitterapps to see some of the things that can be done with it. There's plenty more at Everything Twitter and a neat visualisation at Twitter World.

One of the advantages over a regular blog is that it somehow seems more acceptable to go off topic, because each tweet is gone soon after posting, so you get to see a different perspective on people. A while back there was a bit of a debate about people using twitterfeed to publicise their blog posts. I personally find it quite useful to see when new posts go up, but that's partly to do with how I get my RSS. An idea of what the appropriate tweetiquette is will take time to develop. I still get worried sometimes about going too far off topic. Tweetburner is useful for seeing just how interesting my links to assorted football stories are to people (answer: slightly). Tweetburner gives you a bookmarklet that allows you to post a nice short URL for any webpage and still leaves room for a comment about it. You can then see how many people follow the link, although there's no way of telling whether they actually stayed on the page for more than a second.

One problem that I have found is that it is easy to follow too many tweeters and inevitably interesting stuff gets lost in the noise. That's not the real real big issue though - instead that is whether interest will be maintained or whether it will peter out as many people's facebook usage has. The Ed Techie discussed this way back in January: Facebook - the holiday romance. The only advantage Twitter has over the many other similar services would seem to be the number of users - although sometimes this can be too much stress leading to the famous Fail Whale. Twitter is only as useful as the stuff that gets posted/tweeted/whatever.

Props to Nick Holmes at Binary Law who issued the clarion call for law bloggers to get on Twitter. His other suggestion, for subject specific news feeds, has, I think, only yielded one new feed - Housing Law from Nearly Legal. Also available are feeds for:

Any I've missed?

I have also grabbed HRLaw to act as a feed for Human Rights stories, but as yet I haven't finished sorting the sources and putting them through pipes. If anybody has any suggestions for must-have feeds then please let me know.

The real clincher has to be the opportunity to converse with a gorilla. I wonder if he's thinking about moving to Spain. Regardless, the campaign to get Tempranillo his own website starts here and now.

That's enough about Twitter, if you're interested then you can find my tweets here.

Random thought: Is copying the Lego approach a sure fire route to winning privacy claims?