Leon Paternoster 2014-08-29T15:00:50+00:00 http://leonpaternoster.com Leon Paternoster Copyright (c) Leon Paternoster Households, deficits and belief 2014-07-24T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/07/households-deficits-and-belief// <p>I know next to nothing about economics. I’ve read the odd bit of Marx and lots of modern blogs, which are surprisingly often about Mr Marx, but I didn’t study the subject and I haven’t read Piketty’s <cite>Capital in the Twenty-First Century</cite>.</p> <p>I can however say with confidence that my “household budget” and the UK’s economy are entirely different things. I can’t print money, for one thing.</p> <p>Of course, right leaning politicians like to make the connection between small, personal budgets and the economy because they can then say “just like you, we need to cut back and balance the books, and you can’t be paid much”. And because the English like a bit of belt-tightening rhetoric and need to think poor people are a bunch of wasters, everyone thinks it’s brilliant and your children’s centre closes. So it goes.</p> <p>I still don’t understand where fuck off huge mortgages and tax cuts for really rich people fit into this. I guess economists can explain.</p> <p>I therefore get why <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28389816">Ed Miliband needs to bang on about balancing national budgets</a>. It’s electoral tactics. But does he really <em>believe</em> it?</p> <p><a href="http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2014/07/internalizing-constraints.html">Chris Dillow</a> and <a href="http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/07/22/do-you-have-to-put-your-head-in-the-sand-to-want-to-be-chancellor/">Richard Murphy</a> have raised this point over the last week. Dillow, who often writes about the psychology of the economy, described comparisons between personal budgets and national economies as <q>the economic illiteracy of the media and voters who have swallowed half–witted guff about balancing the nation’s books</q> – but he fears Miliband might have come to actually believe the guff.</p> <p>It’s the old New Labour approach of repeating the same message until everyone believes it. Including yourself.</p> <p>Does the Labour Party rank and file believe it too? Frightening not only because it’s nonsense, but also, as Dillow argues, because it always ends in disappointment. After 13 years of a Labour government a coalition was able to dismantle pretty much the whole welfare state as we know it in a couple of years.</p> <p>The Labour Party <em>is</em> largely pragmatic because it thinks the electorate in marginal seats is fundamentally conservative in its outlook. But none of the members I know joined the party to bang on about making cuts to public services. However, there are several MPs who seem to <em>believe</em> this austerity rhetoric, <a href="https://twitter.com/theloveofwilde/status/490916605199917057">even the odd activist</a>.</p> <p>There’s something in Labour that says you have to <em>believe</em> in the argument behind a policy, even when it’s apostasy. One of the many advantages the Tory party holds over Labour is its understanding that it’s all tactics: Only the goal matters.</p> Tabbed navigation didn’t work on our site 2014-07-10T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/07/tabbed-navigation-didnt-work-on-our-site// <p>I was using <a href="http://foundation.zurb.com/docs/components/tabs.html">tabbed navigation</a> on a couple of the <a href="http://suffolklibraries.co.uk">Suffolk Libraries</a> website pages. By tabbed navigation I mean a single document’s content divided by horizontal tabs, so you don’t see it all at once.</p> <p>It’ll look something like this:</p> <p><img src="http://leonpaternoster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/tabs.gif" alt="Tabbed navigation within a page" width="860" height="216" /></p> <p class="figcaption">Tabbed navigation used to break up a single document.</p> <p>Tabs might seem a good idea because they break content up, thereby making it easier to interpret. But it’s the single design element that got the most complaints after my redesign.</p> <p>It’s not that users didn’t get how to use the tabs (although initial testing indicated the labels had to be clearly styled as links – in the picture above, users might have struggled identifying the tabs). No, it was simply because <strong>tabs can break the back button</strong>. Users see each tab as a separate page, when in reality they’re just parts of the same, single page. Although it might seem boring, I found in most cases it makes users’ lives a lot easier if you actually make each tab a separate page, or plump for a single, long document, and find other ways to present it.</p> Design Observer design not for us 2014-07-05T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/07/design-observer-design-not-for-us// <p>History repeats itself quickly in the world of web design – it seems like only yesterday <a href="http://blog.fawny.org/2009/08/12/mock-do-1/">we were lambasting <cite>Design Observer</cite> for its new–not–at–all–new design</a>.</p> <p>Fast forward to 2014 and we’re making the <a href="http://typographica.org/on-typography/questions-for-the-new-design-observer/">same criticisms</a>: poor font choice, tiny, indistinct type, bugginess. Add some really slow loading and unresponsiveness and you have 2014′s version (although to be fair the site sort of adjusts to my Nexus phone – I’m guessing it sniffs rather than scales).</p> <p><a href="http://designobserver.com"><img class="full-bleed" src="http://leonpaternoster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/do.jpg" alt="Screenshot of the Design Observer website" width="860" height="444" /></a></p> <p class="figcaption"><cite>Design Observer</cite>: Let me count the ways</p> <p>And yet. This website wasn’t really written for me. I’d go as far as to say I don’t even understand it.</p> <p>Who exactly is it for? Older design veterans who don’t deal in the grubby functionality of fluid sized screens (i.e. <a href="https://news.layervault.com/comments/78785">designers who aren’t working class</a>)? If that is the case then – actual crapness (the huge fixed header, the strange dropdown at the top of the screen etc.) aside – it may do its job well enough.</p> <p>If you dig seeing paragraphs set in Archer on screen, and like small blocks of text, and spend your day on a Mac with a large screen, <cite>Design Observer</cite> has been <em>designed</em> just for you.</p> The longest day 2014-06-21T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/06/the-longest-day// <figure class="figure alignnone"><img class="full-bleed" src="http://leonpaternoster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/stonehenge.jpeg" alt="Stonehenge" width="850" height="531" /><figcaption class="secondary">A circle of old stones in Wiltshire</figcaption></figure> <p>I loved this <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/21/from-heritage-to-heretics-stonehenge-making-history">Will Self piece on English Heritage and its demerging and museumification of Stonehenge</a> (both are words because authors create words).</p> <p>Two things:</p> <blockquote> <p>Stonehenge stands at the centre of a complex web of ideas linking ownership, knowledge and consumption.</p> </blockquote> <p>So Stonehenge’s meaning changes over time, and doesn’t become fixed in, say, 1920. Fittingly, we now have a neoliberal circle of stones.</p> <p>And:</p> <blockquote> <p>Given the vast timescale over which humans have interacted with the English landscape, it seems plausible that archaeologists of the distant future will concoct some narrative to unify these works with the stones themselves, perhaps one based on the astronomical alignment of the tunnel with the decayed footings of some vast M-shaped golden arches that were mysteriously erected some decades later.</p> </blockquote> <p>You can picture deadly earnest archaeologists, trowels dangling, theorising with a glint in their eye over MacDonalds and leylines on a BBC4 Stonehenge Watch in 3145.</p> <p>Despite its fantastic age Stonehenge has absolutely zero inherent meaning. Nothing in Britain, or anywhere else, does. Yet we can’t create anything exciting from Stonehenge, or find new, meaningful sites to theorise over. Might as well build a Prince Charles designed, Crest Nicolson, faux Georgian housing estate around it.</p> The morality of work 2014-06-11T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/06/the-morality-of-work// <p>On the “morality of work”:</p> <blockquote> <p>This is the idea that people essentially have a duty to work, an inherent need to work, that work is an instrument to achieving things like self–esteem and social cohesion. Obviously, this is sort of true. What really matters here is how you define Work. What gets thought of as Work and what is “not work” becomes a real bone of contention. In our current society, care work – whether for children, siblings, relatives, friends, strangers – is not considered Work. Housework is not considered Work. Study is not Work. Charity is not Work. Social work is not Work. But all these things are inherent in social cohesion, they are just not valued particularly highly as far as financial reward goes. —<cite><a href="http://www.irishleftreview.org/2014/06/11/basic-income-summer-forum/">Basic Income Summer Forum</a></cite></p> </blockquote> <p>This is only partly right. If we’re being honest, most people – apart from politicians when they’re arguing for things like <a href="http://www.boycottworkfare.org/">workfare</a> – don’t see work in such romantic terms. It’s not a route to self–esteem, social cohesion etc. etc.</p> <p>Work for most people is above all else <em>hard</em>, something that has to be done in order to pay the bills. Antipathy to Basic Income (or any form of benefit) comes from the view that because <em>I</em> have to work hard to buy food and pay the gas bill, <em>you</em> shouldn’t get free money from me. <em>That’s</em> the morality of work.</p> How not to pay tax for 20 years 2014-06-08T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/06/how-not-to-pay-tax-for-20-years// <p>Just in case you were wondering how it’s done:</p> <blockquote> <p>[Vodafone] has parked losses of around £70 billion in Luxembourg. These are not real losses, but paper ones, from the acquisition of various companies, including the German engineering and telecommunications company, Mannesmann, in 2000. However, under Luxembourg’s tax system, this paper loss miraculously produces a tax ‘credit’ of £17.4 billion! <a href="http://radicalsoapbox.com/vodafones-tax-credit-17-4-billion/"><cite>Vodafone’s Tax Credit of £17.4 billion</cite></a></p> </blockquote> <p>Assuming a company will always try and find the most favourable tax regime, what’s the answer to this problem? (If, like me, you do indeed think it is a problem.) Is it to shame the company into handing over tax? How likely will this work?</p> 18th century books looked like smartphones 2014-06-08T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/06/18th-century-books-looked-like-smartphones// <p>Liked this picture of an 18th century book <cite>Conjectures on Original Composition</cite> by Edward Young:</p> <p><img src="http://leonpaternoster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/small-book.gif" alt="A narrow 18th century book" width="399" height="629" /></p> <p class="secondary figcaption">From <a href="http://www.collisiondetection.net/mt/archives/2014/02/_thats_one_of_t.php">Collision Detection</a></p> <p>It shows how resilient we are as readers – we can deal with any ‘difficult’ measure. Another possible similarity between now and then is the sheer <em>mass</em> of the stuff we’re publishing; a fact plenty will bemoan, but I rather like this democratic, unpretentious fecundity (he said, pretentiously…) Also chimes with <a href="http://leonpaternoster.com/2011/01/short-attention-spans-mobile-phones-and-the-future-of-reading/" title="Short attention spans, mobile phones and the future of reading">something I wrote many moons ago</a>.</p> Let them fight the UKIP—that’s where the lunatics are 2014-06-02T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/06/let-them-fight-the-ukip-thats-where-the-lunatics-are// <blockquote> <p>Overall, Ukip has not so much won new friends as polarised public opinion. Ukip did better this time at turning diminishing approval into votes, but it also alienated far more of the electorate. Millions more voters now regard Ukip negatively than in 2009, and fewer decline to take sides. <cite><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/02/five-myths-ukip-conservatives-farage-newark">Five myths about Ukip… that should make the Conservatives happy</a></cite></p> </blockquote> <p>Driving into <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mildenhall,_Suffolk">Mildenhall</a> a couple of weeks ago, I was greeted by the thoroughly depressing sight of a huge <em>Vote UKIP</em> billboard. As if to say <em>you’re entering UKIP country now, boy</em>.</p> <p>The UKIP, as I will now always call them, won Suffolk in the Euro elections, but they didn’t win one seat in the Ipswich council elections.</p> <p>The UKIP polarises, and it’s worth remembering most the country doesn’t think like lumbering racists in blazers. The general election won’t be won in Mildenhall, but in towns like Ipswich.</p> <p>Let’s say the Tories attempt to fight the election on the UKIP’s territory. That’s good for Labour – they’ll become the <em>de facto</em> party of the centre.</p> Football, place, ownership and fans 2014-05-05T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/05/football-place-ownership-and-fans// <p>In the good old days – say 20 years ago or so – your football club was owned and run by local toffs and businessmen (it was always men, and still is, in the main). In Ipswich Town’s case it was the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cobbold_%28businessman%29">Cobbold family</a> followed by John Kerr and then <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sheepshanks">David Sheepshanks</a> (Old Etonians all).</p> <p><img class="full-bleed" src="http://leonpaternoster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/robson-cobbold.jpg" alt="Bobby Robson and John Cobbold at Ipswich Station" width="630" height="446" /></p> <p class="figcaption">Bobby Robson and John Cobbold at Ipswich Station (from the East Anglian Daily Times archive)</p> <p>Club finances weren’t managed particularly well. True, Ipswich won an FA Cup, a UEFA Cup and qualified for Europe season after season after the Cobbolds hired Bobby Robson, but when Bobby left to manage England we were saddled with a big new stand and debt. Bobby’s departure and our reduced finances forced us to sell our best players and, apart from brief forays into the top league under John Lyall and George Burley, things haven’t really improved since.</p> <p>Over the years – and we can blame the Premier League for this – the finances became increasingly precarious, meaning we often had to sell our best players, such as Mauricio Tarricco to Spurs on the eve of Barclays calling in our overdraft. Finally, we went into administration in 2003 after splashing out on high profile flops like Finidi George, Ulrich le Pen and Matteo Sereni.</p> <p>Still, at least the football club remained recognisably <em>local</em>. In spite of our decline, we’re left with memories of Suffolk people and experiences: <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/ipswich-town/6547769/Footballs-greatest-eccentric-Ipswich-Towns-John-Cobbold.html">the eccentric Lord Cobbold</a>‘s famous claim that “There is no crisis at Ipswich until the white wine runs out in the boardroom”, or when he mistook the Ipswich team for a bunch of local lads playing football on a beach in Greece. Or David Sheepshanks on the Wembley pitch after we’d finally won promotion to the Premier League in 2000. All these local characters and experiences helped form our identity as an idiosyncratic, friendly club.</p> <p>This, of course, has all changed – and the football has got worse. In 2007 the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Evans">Marcus Evans Group</a> took over Ipswich Town, and we became a subsidiary of a larger, tax–efficient business, a punt on Premier League millions. Marcus Evans himself may have been born in Bury St Edmunds, but his business is registered in Bermuda.</p> <p>Like many other clubs, we’re in debt to our owner – a multinational businessman’s largesse only extends so far. While this removes the immediate threat of administration, it does mean our future is bound to the fortunes – and whim – of one businessman. And the effect on the club has been marked: it’s become bland, dull and mean, bearing all the <a href="http://leonpaternoster.com/2013/11/itfc-zero-hours/" title="Ipswich Town FC: A poor employer">familiar marks of a modern, identikit multinational business</a>: zero hour contracts, unpaid internships, operational cuts, <a href="http://ipswichtownfirst.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/supporters-trust-statement-on-inclusion-of-academy-contribution-in-season-ticket-renewal/">dodgy renewal policies</a>. We’re a million miles from the Cobbolds, or even David Sheepshanks.</p> <p>This makes me sad, but I’m not sure many of my fellow fans are that bothered, which makes me even sadder. Still, we’re hardly in a minority, as <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/may/01/premier-league-accounts-club-by-club-david-conn?view=mobile#"><cite>The Guardian’s</cite> report on the state of 2012–2013 Premier League finances and ownership</a> shows. It’s a tale of tax evasion, foreign ownership, hairily leveraged finance and payday loan and casino sponsorship (even ownership in one case).</p> <p>There are a few good guys in there. Best of all Swansea – run and owned by local people and the Supporters Trust (and let’s remember our own excellent <a href="http://ipswichtownfirst.wordpress.com/">independent Supporters Trust</a>). Honourable mentions to Everton, Norwich (ahem), Wigan and West Bromwich Albion. But that’s about it. The rest is Russian oligarchs, Gulf dynasties and holding companies – lots of holding companies – based in Jersey, the Bahamas, Nevada.</p> <p>You may well ask <em>so what?</em> You don’t hear many Manchester City or Liverpool fans moaning about their owners while they get to watch exciting, winning football. Indeed, City fans are very thankful to their royal benefactors:</p> <p><img src="http://leonpaternoster.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/sheikh.jpg" alt="Man City banner thanking Sheikh Mansoor" width="699" height="296" /></p> <p class="secondary">City fans thank their billionaire benefactors</p> <p>Perhaps place, history and experience are simply commodities to be traded as part of a club’s global brand, however much <a href="http://www.mcfc.com/News/Club-news/2014/February/Barclays-You-Are-Football-story">we and advertisers protest how essential they are</a>. Perhaps all that matters to fans is a bit of excitement and success, and maybe some sort of relationship with the team – it was very sweet seeing Luke Chambers’ son in front of the North Stand after the last game of this season. But to me football means a bit more. After all, teams are named after places, not businesses or families.</p> 3 things to do with a website content audit 2014-04-22T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/04/3-things-to-do-with-a-website-content-audit// <p>A year or so ago I posted <a href="http://leonpaternoster.com/2013/04/carrying-out-a-web-content-audit/" title="Carrying out a web content audit">a guide to carrying out a content audit</a>. At the time I was getting to grips with the <a href="http://suffolklibraries.co.uk">Suffolk Libraries</a> website, and the audit was a really useful way to understand the library service and what we were trying to do online.</p> <p>Now we have a (hopefully) sane <abbr title="Information Architecture">IA</abbr> and most of the redundant content has been stripped away, the audit has a different purpose. I use it to prune pages and make sure everything’s up to date. The original audit took days, now it takes on hour or two.</p> <p>So here are 3 things you can do with a content audit once you’re happy with your website’s structure:</p> <h2 id="make-sure-content-is-assigned-to-the-right-owner">1. Make sure content is assigned to the right owner</h2> <p>Staff move on, go on paternity leave or get promoted. Your organisation structure changes too. Update your content owners accordingly.</p> <h2 id="delete-pages-and-files">2. Delete pages and files</h2> <p>The Suffolk Libraries website consists of 144 static pages, including redirects. This is manageable for one person.</p> <p>Fewer pages and files make it easier to:</p> <ul> <li>structure your website</li> <li>return relevant results from searches</li> <li>navigate pages</li> </ul> <p>So the first question you need to ask of any page or file is <em>do we need this?</em> If you think the answer’s <em>no</em>, check your analytics and search logs and ask the content owner.</p> <h2 id="updatecontent">3. Update content</h2> <p>You’ll probably have an idea of what content needs updating, but the audit will <em>force</em> you to review everything. It’ll throw light on those obscure corners of the website you’d forgotten about.</p> <p>Information ages quite naturally, but sometimes something unpredictable happens. For example, a new government might make changes to the National Curriculum, so your children’s reading advice pages might need updating.</p> <p>Often content owners will come to you with changes, but it’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure everything’s up to date. And it’s a good thing when you show enough interest in other people’s content to ask questions about it.</p> <p>The first content audit I did for Suffolk Libraries was a major piece of work, but it was really important to get a handle on the website. Now it’s a relatively painless way to keep the site lean and healthy.</p> Ditching gmail is easy and good for you 2014-03-16T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/03/ditching-gmail-is-easy-and-good-for-you// <p>I’ve been uhmming and ahhing over moving to a different email provider for a few years now. I’ve finally started the process and can report it’s relatively painless.</p> <p>The key is to do things gradually, rather than move everything over lock, stock and barrel and switch gmail off straight away.</p> <h2 id="why-leave-gmail">Why leave gmail?</h2> <p>Like most people, I signed up for gmail when it offered huge amounts of storage compared to other providers. Also, and this is hard to believe, we all thought Google was a nice, trendy kind of company. That was around 2004.</p> <p>Since then we’ve had NSA, austerity and <a href="http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2197482/google-won-t-be-paying-much-uk-tax">tax avoidance</a>, <a href="http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/05/larry-page-wants-you-to-stop-worrying-and-let-him-fix-the-world/">lunatic Ayn Rand philosophy</a> and <a href="http://leonpaternoster.com/2013/11/google-plus-autogenerated-pages-for-businesses-a-pain/" title="Google plus generated pages cause problems">Google Plus</a>. Less and less <em>do no evil</em>.</p> <p>You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to worry at Google’s attempts to control your whole online life (or Apple’s, or Facebook’s, for that matter).</p> <p>Over the years I’ve accumulated around 3GB of email, so moving to another provider <em>seemed</em> daunting. It’s actually really simple, but it will take some time (and just a small bit of effort) and does assume you’ve prioritised your gmail (by starring important emails, for example).</p> <p>The best thing is you’ll be in control of your email again.</p> <h2 id="never-delete-an-email-is-a-rubbish-approach">Never delete an email is a rubbish approach</h2> <p>Google says there’s <a href="http://gmailblog.blogspot.co.uk/2008/04/9-reasons-to-archive.html">no need to delete your email</a>. That sounds great, not least because it saves you making a decision when you read an email. Just archive it instead.</p> <p>Of course, your email is gold to Google: that’s where all that juicy online behaviour data sits. The more data Google can mine, the more value it extracts from you.</p> <p>But never deleting email makes finding stuff difficult. True, Google has a stellar search engine, but the more email you accumulate the less meaningful search queries become. And the more work you have to do to find important messages.</p> <p>The fewer emails you have the easier it is to find, prioritise and act on them.</p> <p>Why keep <em>all</em> those messages? Google will try and scare you into thinking the email you’ve just deleted <em>may</em> be vital after all. But I can count the times I’ve <em>needed</em> to find an email I didn’t immediately star on the fingers of one hand. Important stuff should be obvious by definition.</p> <p>Once you’ve rid yourself of the <em>never delete anything ever</em> philosophy, you can take the plunge as you won’t need to import thousands of emails.</p> <h2 id="moving-from-gmail">Moving from gmail</h2> <p>The first thing to realise is you’re not going to close your Google account straight away. The migration is a gradual process.</p> <p>Follow these steps:</p> <ol> <li><strong>Choose an alternative email provider</strong>. I looked through this excellent <a href="http://thesimplecomputer.info/free-webmail-for-better-privacy/">list of secure, privacy aware providers</a> and plumped for a <a href="http://unseen.is">free, 500MB Unseen email account</a>.</li> <li><strong>Go through your starred email</strong> and evaluate whether each item really is important. If it is, forward it to your new email address.</li> <li><strong>Create an <em>Important</em> folder</strong> in your new email account. Move all the gmail starred emails to this folder.</li> <li><strong>Autoforward all your new gmail emails to your new account</strong> (look for <em>Settings </em>&gt; <em>POP and forwarding</em>. Google doesn’t care if you forward email, as long as it sees it.)*<br /> *</li> <li><strong>Import your gmail contacts</strong> (<a href="http://support.unseen.is/031257-How-to-enter-contacts-in-your-address-book">Unseen can import gmail contacts automatically</a>, although gmail will block the process until you OK it. Try it once then login to your gmail account to tell Google Unseen is legitimate, then try again.)</li> <li><strong>Set your autoresponder</strong> to tell people you’ve changed email address (via <em>Settings <strong>&gt;</strong></em><strong> </strong><em>General)</em></li> </ol> <p>And that’s it, to start with. Once you’ve got your new email address up and running, <strong>make a decision whenever a new email arrives in your new inbox</strong>:</p> <ul> <li>If you need to act on it keep it in the Inbox</li> <li>If it contains important reference information (hosting account details, for example) move it to an <em>Important</em> folder</li> <li>If it’s a subscription you don’t bother reading go and click the unsubscribe link and delete the email. If you want to keep the subscription, update it with your new email address.</li> <li>If it’s worthless delete it</li> <li>If you’re unsure move it to an <em>Archive</em> folder</li> </ul> <p>In the meantime, you can refer to your old gmail whenever necessary, and if you did need one of those thousands of archived emails, forward it to your new account and file it in the <em>Important</em> or <em>Archive</em> folder.</p> <h2 id="turning-gmail-off">Turning gmail off</h2> <p>Of course, the whole point of this is to ditch gmail. Simply forwarding email to a new service doesn’t really achieve anything.</p> <p>I haven’t made the final step yet: I want to make sure everything is OK with Unseen. If things don’t go well, all your email will still be sitting on Google’s servers, and you can either go back or start the process again.</p> <p>Once you’re happy you can get rid of those thousands of untouched, archived emails, you’ll need to:</p> <ol> <li>Tell everyone your new email address</li> <li><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/how-to-close-your-google-account/2012/01/25/gIQADAxbQQ_story.html">Close your gmail account</a></li> </ol> <p>And why not get rid of Plus while you’re at it.</p> Responsive versus works in IE6 2014-03-08T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/03/responsive-versus-works-in-ie6// <p>Stats from 4 days’ worth of <a href="http://suffolklibraries.co.uk">Suffolk Libraries</a> website traffic:</p> <ul> <li>Proportion of visits from mobiles and tablets: 1 in 4</li> <li>Proportion of visits using Internet Explorer 6: 1 in 500</li> </ul> <p>The Suffolk Libraries website is responsive. Cost to build: £0 – I did it, so I guess there’s my web manager salary, but I do all the other web stuff too.</p> <p>Let’s look at another library service’s website (or, more specifically, another library’s website): <a href="http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/">The Library of Birmingham</a>. <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-25033651">Cost to build £1.2m</a>. Annual running costs £190,000. I don’t earn £190,000 a year.</p> <p>Outsourcing isn’t always cheaper.</p> <p>The Library of Birmingham’s website isn’t responsive.</p> <p>It does, however, work in Internet Explorer 6. <a href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/179465/response/452527/attach/html/3/FOI%209309%20Parry%20Final%20response%20Attach%201.doc.html">They did ask for it to work in IE6</a>.</p> <p>Which is the most accessible?</p> Mozilla, money, adverts and corporate speak 2014-02-21T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/02/mozilla-money-adverts-and-corporate-speak// <p>What to make of Mozilla.</p> <p>Why? Well, Mozilla gave us Firefox – my browser of choice on Windows, Debian and Android – which slayed Internet Explorer. The online lives of millions have been improved immeasurably by IE’s demise. Too bad for Firefox Chrome mopped up to become the planet’s most popular browser.</p> <p>Mozilla, unlike Google, is a not-for-profit organisation, which means it builds Firefox so you can browse the internet and <em>control</em> how you browse. Mozilla’s only motive is to build an excellent browser for its users. That’s a simple, useful and transparent relationship.</p> <p>Your relationship with Chrome and Google is murkier. While Chrome is free (and a better browser than Firefox), Google’s ultimate motive is to direct you to its advertisers’ products and/or sell information about you and your browsing habits to advertisers. That’s why Chrome made the address bar a search box as well.</p> <p>Making Chrome a shithot browser <em>helps</em> Google make money, but that’s not its <em>raison d’etre</em>.</p> <h2 id="adverts-and-corporate-speak-at-mozilla">Adverts and corporate speak at Mozilla</h2> <p>So until recently I had a romantic view of Mozilla. I assumed it was a smallish operation, staffed by talented designers and engineers and a few business types keeping everything running smoothly. I didn’t even think about stuff like income until I read this post on <a href="https://blog.mozilla.org/advancingcontent/2014/02/11/publisher-transformation-with-users-at-the-center/">plans to put ads on the Firefox start screen</a>. (Note: Mozilla pulled the post, but you can <a href="https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https%3A%2F%2Fblog.mozilla.org%2Fadvancingcontent%2F2014%2F02%2F11%2Fpublisher-transformation-with-users-at-the-center%2F">grab an archived Google copy</a>. So it goes.)</p> <p>I don’t think ads sit well with a not for profit, but <a href="http://leonpaternoster.com/2014/02/mozilla-is-selling-ads-although-its-coy-about-telling-us/" title="Mozilla is selling ads, although it’s coy about telling us">the article’s language concerns me even more</a>. Corporate and obfuscatory. A tech insider armed with some slick phrases and bad news. I sniffed money.</p> <h2 id="mozilla-selling-search-to-google-and-lots-of-money">Mozilla, selling search to Google and (lots of) money</h2> <p>The reason you put ads in something is to generate income. Whatever Mozilla claim, it’s not to make your product better for users. So let’s take a look at Mozilla’s money.</p> <p><a href="http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/11/21/mozillas-reliance-google-increasing-90-2012-revenue-came-one-source/">The majority of Mozilla’s income comes from a deal it’s struck with Google</a>. When you tap a search into Firefox it sends it to Google. In turn, Google makes money whenever anyone clicks on an ad in its search results. As <a href="http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php?year=2014&amp;month=1">Firefox still accounts for just over 18% of the world’s internet traffic</a>, that’s presumably a lot of money.</p> <p>This has been the case for several years, but you might ask whether it’s in the user’s best interests. I’m not sure. <a href="http://inlibrary.suffolklibraries.co.uk">Our library PC home page</a> features a big Google search box because our PC users more often than not equate <em>search the internet</em> with <em>search Google</em>, and the first thing they do when they login to a PC is perform a search.</p> <p>We don’t make money from search (perhaps we should) – we’re doing what we think library users want us to do. If they wanted something different, we could change search engine easily, perhaps to <a href="https://duckduckgo.com/">Duck Duck Go</a>.</p> <p>Mozilla can’t change, so whether Google would be most people’s <em>choice</em> of search engine anyway is a moot point.</p> <p>Again, Google provides the best product, but being the best search engine is not an end in itself. The ultimate aim is to get people to click on adverts, and <a href="http://leonpaternoster.com/2013/11/google-plus-autogenerated-pages-for-businesses-a-pain/" title="Google plus generated pages cause problems">businesses on Google Plus</a>.</p> <p>I’m not sure this sits well with a not for profit, and I’d argue it stretches points 2, 4, 5 and 8 of the <a href="https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/">Mozilla Manifesto</a> (but hey, point 9 makes everything OK, and the whole thing’s too fluffy anyway).</p> <p>Still, Google accounts for over 90% of Mozilla’s income, which means it’s in the odd situation of being funded by its biggest competitor. <a href="http://www.w3counter.com/trends">Chrome’s browser share has increased at Firefox’s expense</a>. And the actual amount? Well, that’s subject to <a href="http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/annualreport/2012/faq/"><q>traditional confidentiality requirements, and we’re [Mozilla] not at liberty to disclose them</q></a>, but it’s quite easy to work out. It’s <strong>just under $300m a year</strong>.</p> <p>Which raises more questions.</p> <h2 id="what-is-mozilla-for">What is Mozilla for?</h2> <p>Not for profits have a contradictory relationship with money. On the one hand they exist for an explicitly noncommercial purpose, while on the other they’re often under pressure to increase income.</p> <p>How they negotiate this paradox is fundamental. If a not for profit makes lots of money but loses sight of its original purpose it becomes a bog standard business.</p> <p>At the moment, Mozilla <em>feels</em> too much like a commercial organisation. It raises lots of income, but sells one of its fundamental features in the process. It’s making noises about selling ads on its start page. It signs nondisclosure agreements with its partners. It speaks in pettifogging, corporate lingo. All while asking for donations (and getting $800,000 a year).</p> <p>300 million. I guess developing Firefox, Thunderbird and Firefox OS doesn’t come cheap, and nor do <a href="http://spiekermann.com/en/">Erik Spiekermann</a> and <a href="http://clearleft.com/made/mozilla-add-ons">Clear Left</a>. Just because you’re a not for profit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the best in design. But that still seems an awful lot, and I bet a fair old wodge goes on employing some <a href="http://about.me/darrenjayherman">expensive marketing and advertising staff</a>.</p> <p>Again, no reason why Mozilla shouldn’t hire the best, but it’d be a tragedy if it lost sight of what it’s for in the process. Let’s hope the corporate bods will learn as they go along, but <a href="https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2014/02/13/revenue-diversification-the-mozilla-way/">don’t hold your breath</a>.</p> Mozilla is selling ads, although it’s coy about telling us 2014-02-13T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2014/02/mozilla-is-selling-ads-although-its-coy-about-telling-us// <p>Tell me — when you <a href="https://blog.mozilla.org/advancingcontent/2014/02/11/publisher-transformation-with-users-at-the-center/">read this blog post</a> (note: it was pulled by Mozilla, but you can <a href="https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https%3A%2F%2Fblog.mozilla.org%2Fadvancingcontent%2F2014%2F02%2F11%2Fpublisher-transformation-with-users-at-the-center%2F">grab an archived page</a>), what’s the most important thing it conveys?</p> <p>Finished it? Good.</p> <p>So, was it:</p> <ul> <li>Mozilla designs things for its users?</li> <li>Mozilla is improving its start page?</li> <li>Mozilla is selling ads on its start page?</li> </ul> <p>Which of those statements do you think Mozilla wants you to remember?</p> <p>And which is the biggest news to Mozilla blog readers?</p> <p>Here’s that article in numbers:</p> <ul> <li>Number of paragraphs before adverts are mentioned: 7</li> <li>Number of words in sentence announcing adverts: 39</li> <li>Number of words in said sentence before adverts are mentioned: 26</li> <li>Number of features mentioned before adverts in said sentence: 2</li> <li>Number of times the word “advert” is used: 0</li> <li>Number of times the word “user” or “users” is used: 12</li> <li>Number of buzzword verbs: 9 (“align”, “deliver” etc.)</li> <li>Number of references to irrelevant business meetings: 1</li> </ul> <p>You get the picture.</p> <p>I’m not sure what I think about Mozilla selling ads. It <em>feels</em> wrong, but perhaps it wouldn’t bother me – I’d just ignore start page ads just as I ignore every other ad I see on the internet. I would miss history tiles, especially on Firefox mobile.</p> <p>What does bother me is the confusing, buzzword ridden language they use to tell us something relatively important. Has it always been this way? Or is it something new? Whatever the answer, it makes me suspicious.</p> <p>(Yes, I do like <a href="http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/styleguide/products/firefox-os/typeface/">Fira Sans</a>, though.)</p> Why do we work unpaid hours? 2013-11-17T20:58:57+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2013/11/why-do-people-work-more-than-they-are-paid// <blockquote> <p>Enough. If an employer hires me to do a job, it means they have deemed me qualified to do it. If I cannot complete the task required in the hours for which I am paid, I am being conned. <cite><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/17/hard-work-pay-good-job">Hard-working? If you pay me, I’ll do a good job. That’s the deal</a></cite></p> </blockquote> <p>The same article cites <abbr title="Trade Union Council">TUC</abbr> research claiming 1 in 5 workers puts in an extra day’s unpaid work a week.</p> <p>You need to ask <em>why</em> this is the case. Employers often put subtle (and not so subtle) pressure on staff to ‘go the extra mile’, and some jobs simply demand additional hours (teaching is an obvious example: I defy anyone to prepare a week’s work in 5 hours PPA).</p> <p>But I’ve met plenty of people who willingly put in the extra hours when it’s obviously detrimental to their own and their co–workers’ position. There’s psychology at play here. What’s going on?</p> <ul> <li><em>Fear</em>. Work has changed in the last 5 years. You’re lucky to have a job and there are plenty of people out there who would willingly step in to your shoes. I think there’s something in this argument, but I’ve worked in offices where people did lots of unpaid work before 2008.</li> <li><em>Enjoyment</em>. You enjoy doing your job so you don’t mind carrying on past your contracted hours. Although why <em>enjoyment</em> should equate to <em>unpaid</em> I have no idea.</li> <li><em>Boredom</em>. Let’s be honest. Some people don’t have much beyond work and, sadly, don’t really want to go home. Time in the office fills a void.</li> <li><em>Competition</em>. When your job doesn’t require specific, technical skills, the only apparent differentiator is the ability to stay at your desk longer than other people.</li> </ul> <p>Perhaps we’ve lost belief in the work we do. In the past work required skills learnt through study or experience, or we did things our employers wouldn’t do in a million years.</p> <p>Now – unless you’re a teacher, nurse or something similar – we’re just a bundle of transferable skills working in more or less pleasant offices. How do we <em>prove</em> our value when we feel <a href="http://www.strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/">what we’re doing is pointless</a>?</p> <p>There is, of course, a delicious irony here. While we don’t value what we’re doing, we do more of it, and <a href="http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2013/09/tory-ministers-try-to-flog-the-phrase-hardworking-to-death/">make more of a virtue out of it</a>.</p> That was the week that was — 17 November 2013 2013-11-17T09:58:57+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2013/11/that-was-the-week-that-was-17-nov-2013// This might be a weekly series. It may well not. Anyway, here's what I liked on the web over the last week: <dl> <dt><a href="http://gerrymcgovern.com/new-thinking/when-tiny-task-important-organization">When a tiny task is important to the organization</a> <dd>Gerry McGovern explains how a task that's important to the organisation but not the customer should be designed.</dd> <dt><a href="http://fvsch.com/words/">Florent's words page</a></dt> <dd>Florent's kind of word cloud. Very smart, and it all looks smashing, of course.</dd> <dt><a href="blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/37699">Welfare and labour market conflicts have made it increasingly difficult for Europe’s centre-left parties to survive as &#8216;catch all&#8217; movements</a></dt> <dd>Pithily titled piece on why the left's finding it so difficult at the moment. Depressing, but worth reading.</dd> <dt><a href="http://nowthenmagazine.com/issue-68/basic-income/">Basic Income. Restructuring the economy</a></dt> <dd>Really clear summary of what a Basic Income is and does.</dd> <dt><a href="www.dorisandbertie.com/goodcopybadcopy/2013/11/12/13-arguments-to-try-next-time-someone-accuses-you-of-dumbing-down-and-1-you-should-avoid">13 arguments to try next time someone accuses you of dumbing down (and 1 you should avoid)</a></dt> <dd>Why short, to the point copy is good for you and your readers. In contrast to the beautiful but flatulent <a href="http://www.holtzbrinck.com/">Holtzbrinck Publishing Group website</a>.</dd> <dt><a href="https://37signals.com/svn/posts/3683-microsofts-dystopian-pitch-for-remote-work">Microsoft's dystopian pitch for remote work</a></dt> <dd>Why Microsoft's new Office ad campaign is a horrible invocation to work when you shouldn't be working.</dd> </dl> Google plus auto generated pages cause problems 2013-11-15T09:58:57+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2013/11/google-plus-autogenerated-pages-for-businesses-a-pain// <p>Nobody really wants Google Plus but Google is dying for you to want Plus.</p> <p>The integration with and assimilation of various services (prediction: Blogspot will be soon), and the constant invocations to use Plus are ignorable annoyances. When it affects your work it becomes a problem.</p> <p>Plus automatically generates pages for your business, whether you want it to or not. I don’t see how you can <em>make</em> people use something they don’t want to use, but this appears to be Google’s main marketing tactic.</p> <p>Google then ratchet up the pressure by giving Plus summaries a prominent place in some search engine results listings.</p> <p>Try a search for <em><a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=ipswich+county+library#q=county+library+ipswich">County Library Ipswich</a></em> to see what I mean.</p> <p>Now, this would perhaps be harmless if the information was useful. But we changed the County Library contact number recently, and the Plus listing is incorrect.</p> <p>Which means the most prominent phone number on the search results page is wrong.</p> <p>Claiming a Plus business page means getting Google to call you with a <abbr title="Personal Identification Number">PIN</abbr>. Difficult when the phone number they have is wrong.</p> <p>Alternatively, they can send a postcard with the PIN on it. Just hope it gets through when the postcode’s also wrong.</p> <p>Frankly, this is a load of bollocks from Google. There’s no way Plus should get a higher search engine ranking than the website page, and I’m not aware of any mechanism to stop them creating the page in the first place.</p> <p>The sooner Plus’s inevitable demise comes, the better.</p> Teachers, Tories and QTS 2013-11-09T13:58:57+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2013/11/teaching-tories-qts// <p>I really don’t understand this Tory hostility to the teaching <em>profession</em>.</p> <p>Take this bizarre <a href="http://www.conservativehome.com/thecolumnists/2013/11/from-adrian_hilton-unqualified-teachers-have-inspired-generations-of-children.html">article on how unqualified teachers have inspired students</a> for ‘generations’.</p> <p>You’d expect the author to give us some examples of unqualified teachers teaching real students. OK, they might be limited to private schools, but at least we’d get an idea of how it works.</p> <p>Instead, Hilton cites <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Serve_Them_All_My_Days">a fictional character</a> and a teacher whose class consisted of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_King's_Speech">one stammering king</a>.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.channel4.com/programmes/educating-yorkshire">teacher who does work in the real world</a> has Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).</p> <p><img class="bleed" alt="William Golding at a desk" src="/uploads/golding.jpg" /></p> <p class="figcaption">William Golding was a Nobel&#8211;prize&#8211;winning author and a lousy teacher. He'd set work and spend the lesson writing <cite>Lord of the Flies</cite>.</p> <p>The article comments demonstrate the wilful ignorance (and prejudice) of many Tories towards teaching and teaching standards.</p> <p>I used to be a teacher of English. <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/208682/Teachers__Standards_2013.pdf">QTS</a> (PDF) consists of a set of 40 or so standards you have to show you’ve met over the course of your training.</p> <p>Some Tories seem to think they’re “meaningless”, no reflection of subject knowledge or, when they’re at their most paranoid, some sort of ‘politically correct’ checklist.</p> <p>In truth, they’re practical. They cover things like classroom management, lesson planning and – yes – subject knowledge.</p> <p>Of course, QTS doesn’t automatically make you a good teacher, just as medical training doesn’t automatically make you a good doctor. But it does help prepare you for the terrors of the classroom or, at the very least, weed out the truly incapable.</p> <p>Do Tories <em>really</em> think teachers are a <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2298146/I-refuse-surrender-Marxist-teachers-hell-bent-destroying-schools-Education-Secretary-berates-new-enemies-promise-opposing-plans.html">highly organised, far left, militant group</a>? Does this explain their attitude to the profession as a whole? If only this was the case.</p> <p>No. Teachers are a generally normal bunch, probably more to the left than your average office, but some of them are – gasp – Tories. Yet Gove and his ilk seem hellbent on making an enemy of them.</p> Ipswich Town FC in the community — what does it owe? 2013-11-09T12:58:57+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2013/11/itfc-zero-hours// <p>How is a football club related to its community? Should it offer anything beyond match tickets and merchandise?</p> <p>For example, do fans care about how their club acts as an employer? Should they care?</p> <p>I ask because my team – Ipswich Town – has a pretty – how can I put this? – <em>hard nosed</em> attitude to employment.</p> <p>Earlier this year it advertised for <a href="http://itfcturnstileblues.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/704/trackback/">2 unpaid interns</a> to video and produce statistical analysis of matches.</p> <p>This week it was looking for <a href="http://www.itfc.co.uk/news/article/jobs-planet-blue-retail-store-assistant-1156112.aspx">a store assistant at the club shop</a>, Planet Blue (<a href="/uploads/zero-itfc.png">image of the advert</a>). The position has <a href="https://twitter.com/ITFC_PlanetBlue/status/398498855370514432">no guaranteed hours</a>, while the applicant is expected to be available for work 6 days a week.</p> <p>Ipswich Town’s owner is the Marcus Evans Group, which has an <a href="http://www.worksmart.org.uk/company/company.php?id=02224523">annual turnover of more than £110m</a>.</p> <p>Like all football clubs, Ipswich Town has <a href="http://www.itfc.co.uk/news/article/alan-lee-player-visit-1159263.aspx">a presence in the community</a>. The players are stars, and it’s good PR when they attend events.</p> <p>But what about its ethical responsibility? Is it ‘unethical’ – and does it matter – if Ipswich Town offers unpaid work, zero hour contracts and <a href="http://www.twtd.co.uk/ipswich-town-news/23253/redundancies-as-town-restructure-ticketing">makes staff redundant</a> in order to run a minimal ticket office service?</p> Morrissey, you and me 2013-10-20T12:58:57+00:00 http://www.leonpaternoster.com/2013/10/morrissey-is-old-and-so-are-you// <p>Well, <em>I</em> liked this spirited <a href="www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/19/bigmouth-morrissey-strikes-again">Morrissey/40–somethings hatchet job</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>The class that he now represents &#8211; a middle&#8211;aged, capital&#8211;rich, metropolitan elite &#8211; doesn't give a toss about you. They've proved it in every way it is possible to prove.</p> <p>Where's the new Morrissey? When will we hear from him, or her, or them? When will working&#8211;class, young people realise they are being robbed blind and that there is not a soul in power who represents their interests? Rise up, young people, because you have nothing to lose but your disenfranchised future and an extra grand a year in rent. <cite><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/19/bigmouth-morrissey-strikes-again">Morrissey, you're a fraud</a></cite>&thinsp;&#8212;&thinsp;Carole Cadwalladr</p></blockquote> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6144461/assets/images/smiths.jpg" class="bleed" alt="The Smiths" /></p> <p class="figcaption">The Smiths in their prime</p> <p>Morrissey really was once the voice of rebellion, magnificently railing against the Tories, injustice, poverty, mediocrity, boorishness, the stupidity of work, conformism. Most people hated Morrissey. They said he was “miserable” (you do wonder what they’d’ve said if they’d figured out the gay stuff).</p> <blockquote> <p>I decree today that life<br />Is simply taking and not giving<br />England is mine – it owes me a living<br />But ask me why, and I’ll spit in your eye<br />Oh, ask me why, and I’ll spit in your eye<br />But we cannot cling to the old dreams anymore <br />No, we cannot cling to those dreams<br /><cite>The Smiths — Still ill</cite></p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, things were never that simple. I always found Smiths fans (the ones who wore the Tshirts and a quiff) quite a snobbish lot, more concerned with vegetarianism than anything else. One I knew was fond of using <em>well, it’s a bit CH</em> as an insult – <em>CH</em> being an abbreviation for <em>council house</em>.</p> <p>And Morrissey himself – like any artist worth her salt – resisted pigeonholing or becoming the representative of any movement. His music was above anything else personal, solipsistic. Nonetheless, Cadwalladr is right; in fact, the 1992 cut off point is quite generous. Take away the righteous anger and Morrissey is boring, capable of only the odd moment of brilliance (I defy anyone not to melt into 1994’s <cite>Seasick but still docked</cite>, for example). Perhaps this is just a function of aging (although Mark E Smith seems to do alright).</p> <p>But as for the 40+s… Well, that’s right, isn’t it? To think this generation of Labour supporters had 13 years to make things better. And yet 3 years into a Tory government, it’s 1983 all over again.</p>