Welcome to The Perfect Curve.

There are 141 posts in total.

UK Parliament petitions website - potentially compromised?

simon gray - 2016-06-29, 12:39:08

In the aftermath of the referendum vote to leave the European Union, one of the things being focussed on is a petition (which ironically was created a month before polling day by a Leave supporter when it was looking like there would be a likely Remain win) calling for a second referendum. At over 4 million signatures it is probably the most-signed petition in history. Or at least it would be, if those signatures were valid.

Suspicions started to be raised when somebody had a look at the raw open data JSON feed for the petition and noticed there were a number of signatures appearing to come from the UK - including more signatures from certain countries than those countries' populations! The Government Digital Service is already investigating these potentially fraudulent signatures and removing them.

As much for a programming exercise to learn how to parse a JSON feed as anything else, I decided to make a tool to make that country data human readable, and display on a pie chart what the proportion of UK to non-UK signatures might be, and how significant that proportion might be.

So the tool is at https://perfect-curve.co.uk/toys/petition, and on there you can see a live real-time feed of signatures as they are logged in the system after a user follows the confirmation email..

The first thing to note is the proportion of (notionally valid) UK-sourced signatures vs (notionally invalid) non-UK signatures, at 96% UK to 4% non-UK; i've done some checking with other petitions [...]

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In group Public / Third Sector Digital

A content strategy for local government

simon gray - 2016-06-21, 12:45:57

In a previous job role on the main corporate webteam for a local council, one of my main focuses was on website content strategy, for the Birmingham City Council website; towards the end of that role (before the team itself was fundamentally changed in a departmental restructure) I completed the first draft of that strategy. As departmental and corporate priorities have shifted my original document has been changed and expanded considerably, but I thought it seemed worthwhile sharing it here for the wider community - the Local Government Digital community and any other public / third / educational sector digital community to use as a basis for their own work on developing content strategies.

It is high-level, strategic in nature; its goal is to outline principles to be followed when creating content; although there are some specific matters of detail towards the end of the document, a content strategy should not be expanded into a highly detailed how-to guide for creating content or checklist for evaluating it - such detailed information is best contained in separate documents rather than expecting content designers to read and absorb one large all-encompassing document.

Many of the principles outlined are taken from the work of others, most notably the Government Digital Service’s Style Guide and LocalGovDigital’s Content Standards, and further details can be found there.

Definition

Content Strategy has been described as…

‘…the practice of planning the content creation, delivery, and governance…’

and

‘…a repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process for a website development project…’

by using

‘…words and data to [...]

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In group Public / Third Sector Digital

The UK's EU Referendum Will Help You Lose Your Faith In Politics

simon gray - 2016-06-14, 19:00:01

Back in May 2014 after the results of the elections to the European Parliament, I speculated that I didn't believe  that the whole of the 17% of people who voted for UKIP were actually the xenophobic bigots my fellow left-liberal friends were painting them as; I speculated that most of them were probably simply ignorant (in the unaware sense) of what the EU is, and ignorant of the true nature of immigration into the UK, and simply wanting to give the Tories a bit of a kicking. This was a year before the General Election, when all the polls were expecting a year later to see a win for Labour (a tight one if not a comfortable one), and there was no serious expectation at the time that a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union would be happening any time soon. My response was rather than complaining about so many people voting UKIP, wouldn't it be nice instead if we could spend the forthcoming year  actually explaining properly what the EU is and isn't, how it works, emphasising the real benefits of its existence and our membership of it, and indeed acknowledging the downsides as well.

Two years on and approaching the end of a referendum campaign about whether or not to stay in the EU, rather than there having been any real attempts to explain the EU properly, rather than either side having any interest in engaging in an actual debate on the matter (the national broadcasters [...]

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Smoked mackerel sushish

simon gray - 2016-05-11, 13:31:51

A recipe for what I am going to call Sushish:

Ingredients

  • Sushi rice
  • Smoked mackerel
  • Mayonnaise
  • Wasabi paste
  • Yuzu sauce (or lemon juice)
  • Fish paste
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Spring onions
  • Ginger (pickled if you can get it)
  • Soya sauce

Method

Start your sushi rice cooking by your favourite method of cooking rice - mine is to steam it in a steamer, with a slight dash of sesame oil mixed into it. Chop your carrots to the size you like them and include them in the rice bowl / pan - leave them at the top, because you'll want to lift them out separate from the rice.

Prepare your mayonnaise sauces - take three small bowls, putting a dollop of mayonnaise in each, and mix in to one of each to your preferred taste a squirt of wasabi paste, a splash of yuzu sauce (or lemon juice if you can't get yuzu), and a blob of fish paste. If you want to try different mayonnaise sauces, or a different number of sauces, do accordingly according to how you feel.

Chop your green beans, mushrooms, spring onions, and ginger to the size and shape you like them to be, and stir fry them - test the carrots, and when they're nearly done fish them out of the rice pan and add to the stir fry pan.

If you're having your smoked mackerel hot, you'll be wanting to start heating it up sufficiently long before everything else is done that it's nice and hot, but not so long before that you're going to end up [...]

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Election results

simon gray - 2016-05-06, 08:44:06

So to summarise yesterday’s election results: all the parties did as well as could be expected, all the other parties underperformed considering where we are in the electoral cycle, and the UK will probably vote to leave on 23 June.

#politics #localgov

[...]

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Local election 2016 - who to vote for in Bournville ward?

simon gray - 2016-05-02, 16:38:01

Although Cotteridge and Stirchley (or as I call it, Stirchleyridge) is what the estate agents call an Up and Coming Area, we're still not hip enough to have our own local election hustings - we still have to leave that prestige to Moseley. Unlike some parts of the city, we do at least get campaign literature - from some of the candidates, at any rate.

I've read what they're promising, so you don't have to.

Mary Locke - Labour

Mary is not a sitting councillor, but she's representing the sitting administration, the Labour Party, for a ward which has one of its three councillors as Labour; depending on what issue it is which is most offending voters by this Thursday, she's in with a reasonable chance of being returned elected. What's she pledging to do, then?

  • Well paid jobs and training,
  • Improved rubbish and recycling collections; tackling litter,
  • Action on road safety and congestion, and
  • Regeneration of Cotteridge and Stirchley.

She says she'll help local businesses to create new jobs - unfortunately she doesn't say how she'll help local businesses to create new jobs. Myself, I would have thought that the existing local businesses in the ward have pretty much created the correct number of jobs they have the ability to support at the present time - in order to create new jobs, what's desperately needed here is more local businesses; anybody who walks through Stirchleyridge along Pershore Road and Watford Road past the large number of [...]

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Potatoes fondante

simon gray - 2016-04-03, 14:53:36

If you want the best potatoes you've ever had, try these:

Take a load of waxy potatoes (eg Charlotte), peel them, and cut them in half lengthways. 

Put them in a pan just big enough to hold them all as one layer, together with a massive blob of ghee (or butter if you live somewhere that doesn't know what ghee is). Heat the pan to melt the ghee, then add enough water to cover the potatoes - and crumble in a vegetable stock cube. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, adding some Herbes de Provence towards the end. The water will boil off, leaving them continuing to cook in the ghee.

Optionally, after cooking and before serving, put them in an oven at 220°C for a few minutes to crisp up the surfaces. 

#cheatcuisine

[...]

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Comedians, prostitutes, and webteams

simon gray - 2016-03-18, 17:44:39

Stewart Lee likens being a comedian to being a prostitute - providing a service people crave yet are despised for. 'At least people don't write in to prostitutes to say they could have done it better'. Sounds like being part of a webteam, really.

[...]

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simon gray - 2016-03-18, 14:46:59

An SDS hammer drill is definitely the tool of choice for drilling into a wall. Srsly, every home should have one. 

[...]

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A web strategy for local government

simon gray - 2016-03-11, 13:38:00

"There will come a time soon when for some councils there won't be a council website any more - the website will be the council" - Tom Steinberg, founder, MySociety

Purposes of the strategy

  • To document the roles of the council's website estate and how we might best achieve those purposes
  • To agree key stakeholders
  • To state ownership and governance of the web estate
  • To plant a stake in the ground outlining our aspirations for the future

Purposes of the council website estate

  • To deliver channel shift savings by enabling citizens and others to interact with the council digitally instead of by telephone or in person
  • To promote the services the council offers (or commissions) to citizens and visitors
  • To promote civic engagement shifting people from being passive residents into active citizens, taking an interest in the council, its policies, and its workings to enable them to better inform us in our decision making and be better informed themselves at election time
  • To communicate key messages to target audiences
  • To promote the city / borough as a location for business and tourism

Stakeholders and audience

The stakeholders of the council web estate are:

  • Ordinary citizens of of the area,
  • Business operators in the area,
  • Potential and current investors in area,
  • Potential and current students in the area,
  • Potential residents of the area,
  • Visitors and potential visitors to the area,
  • Service area staff of the council,
  • Suppliers to the council,
  • The council Digital Services team(s),
  • Corporate Communications,
  • Council Directors, Assistant Directors, and Heads of Service,
  • Councillors.

These stakeholders each have a variety of different transactional, informational, and marketing needs from the site, some of which may on the [...]

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In group Public / Third Sector Digital

Wordpress security

simon gray - 2016-03-07, 08:00:00

Seen on Twitter last night - a company selling insurance against one's Wordpress installation being hacked. If the Wordpress security landscape has got so bad that people need insurance to pay for recovery after a potential hack, I'd say it's time to stop using Wordpress. #internet #webdev

[...]

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Baby food

simon gray - 2016-02-02, 19:46:32

That moment when you’re making the separate dinner for the deBaby because yours can’t be babified & think ‘i wouldn’t mind that for myself’.

(cabbage, red pepper. onion, cumin seed, and caraway seed, since you were wondering)

#cheatcuisine

[...]

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Spooks

simon gray - 2016-01-28, 18:33:52

I’ve come home to a news story that apparently the Russians spied on Mao Tse-Tung’s poo. It’s a glorious life, the life of a spy.

[...]

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Please note! This is work in progress - if you have come across it by accident you're free to stick around, but please be aware not everything will work as intended yet. I have a To do list.