Friday, 16 January 2015

Increased Terrorist attack risk - precautions

The asymmetric war approach of ISIL and Al Qaeda  will inevitably mean attacks within Western World countries. Many of these will be detected and aborted by security forces, but some will take place. Some attacks will be retaliatory as a consequence of terrorist attacks. The incidents may even take the form of rioting. What is different at the moment is that many more hot heads and fanatics will gain access and exposure to battle conditions. They will also gain access to military weapons and explosives. In some cases terrorists will be assigned targets and resources to carry out attacks.

In reality these attacks are quite rare. Some organisations are at greater risk than others as a consequence of their operations, such as the Charlie Hebdo offices or the kosher Jewish supermarket, but sometimes the attacks are random. Consider for example the print works in Dammartin-en-Goele France where the terrorists took refuge and a hostage while on the run.

There is also the risk of rioting and other action as people protest about the growing disparity between to elite 1% and the 99% general public. Some companies may be targeted if they are seen to be taking advantage of the poor. This type of action is not far from the surface. In the UK there were widespread localised riots in 2011 triggered by the shooting of Mark Duggan.

Employers have a duty of care for their employees. It also makes good business sense to also protect their company assets. Employers should each geographic location of their organisation:
  • Assess the risk of terrorist actions;
  • Plan for action in the event of an attack or hostage situation;
  • Document the plan;
  • Train and inform their employees;
  • Improve security;
  • Install measures to mitigate the consequences of an attack;
  • Protect sensitive information;
  • Plan evacuation and/or refuge;
  • Install methods to alert the authorities and senior management/owners;
  • Integrate with the company business continuity planning.
Action should take place now. Waiting until the attack takes place is not helpful.

We'll be producing a series of articles discussing the above list of points and they'll be published soon. If any of our readers like to see these articles, please add a comment or send us an email expressing interest

Friday, 9 January 2015

Helping out - Google first page

We were able to give someone a nice Christmas Present. We helped them position their business on the Page 1 response for both Google Search and Bing. It is a small driving school which started business a few months ago. The proprietor is a friend of my partner. The proprietor was bemoaning the fact their business didn't show up in search results. 

Performing as an SEO (Search Engine Optimiser) is not our normal line of business. We are into IT Infrastructure and security, but we are aware of the principles involved in getting a good rating. We said we'd help this small business free of charge.

We showed them how to create a search engine friendly web site and how to lead the web spiders to crawl over their new site. We didn't perform any of the HMTL work, but showed them how to achieve the result themselves for just a few pounds expenditure. On Christmas Eve I was able to email them a pdf file showing a nicely positioned localised Page 1 response including them showing up on the map.

Their business can be found at  They've noticed an increase in enquiries. We're glad to of be assistance.

DHL Courier lies

We had someone assigned and waiting in the office today for a parcel delivery by DHL. It didn't turn up so we checked their tracking site. The courier claimed "attempted delivery no one at home". Unfortunately for this driver, at the time, we had someone overlooking the doorway where the attempted delivery would have taken place. No one turned up. We checked our surveillance video; no sign of an attempted delivery. The intercom/door bell works, we'd checked it.

Sorry DHL, you don't get the prize this time! In fact one of the the items in the package was a birthday present for a member of the House of Lords in the UK Government. Not only did you fail to deliver, but you attempted to lie about it.

As always we always punish corporate misdoings, but losing the support of a member of the Government is even more unwise.

Update:  Mon 12th Jan 

- Despite our Company Secretary spending about 20 minutes on the phone to DHL, on Friday explaining that their driver hadn't called at our place, they still haven't corrected the status on their tracking website. The lie persists. It is still shown with a status at 14.32 as: 

Waybill 1851252760 "Delivery attempted; recipient not home"

This means the failure to deliver is not recorded in their system. I wonder if they have any systems in place to identify drivers who may have consistent failures?

Apparently the package will be delivered some time today, but they cannot predict when!  So we have to have someone waiting around all day on the off-chance that DHL might deliver.  I wonder why they are unable to predict within an hour that a delivery will take place? I know their competitors can provide such service.

Update: Tue 13th Jan

A response received from DHL customer services to the effect they are unable to correct their records in respect of the misrepresentation by their driver. They clearly have no intention of creating correct records of their (poor) service.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Keeping it cool

Note to self:

1 MW of Data Centre cooling needs about 12 tons of ice per hour.

Friday, 14 November 2014

What is the value of integrity?

The latest round of fines on banks for manipulating the Forex fix rates are starting to be announced. A Daily Telegraph article suggests the total bill of penalties for this misconduct is $300bn. Who bears this cost? It is the shareholders and customers of the banks. For shareholders read pension funds in many cases. It is time for the Directors of the banks to earn their massive remuneration and to either bring their traders under control or go penniless from their god-like positions. 

It should have come as no surprise to bankers managers that traders will tend to misbehave and cut corners. If there had been a true desire to prevent this type of activity it could have been avoided. Ethical behaviour and integrity of actions has a very low cost. Dishonest actions seem to have a much higher end cost.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Low latency trading - an interesting reaction.

I occasionally comment on a LinkedIn forum which has automated wholesale financial trading as its primary focus. My background comes from this arena of developing and supporting real-time trading systems and market data distribution systems.

One discussion topic raised was whether low latency trading has a long term future. Essentially this technique works by recognising market conditions, such as arbitrage opportunities, and creating almost instantaneous trades before your competition spots the opportunity. If the principal sums involved are sufficiently large it is possible to make a healthy profit.

I added a comment to the effect: "Low latency is irrelevant in investment, but important in trading." I'm firmly of the opinion that true investment needs careful research and consideration before any investment decisions are made. Trading can be very different, often just speculation.

I noticed that shortly after posting that comment my LinkedIn profile had been visited by forum moderator. I wonder if I touched a nerve somewhere in the Trading community?!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Corruption of a Brand Name

My son bought me a pair of "mountain boots" from the UK store called Millets. The brand name of the boots is "The North Face" and they were made in China. These boots were not cheap; costing around 150 GBP retail, yet have been poorly constructed. The rubber rand on the sides of the boots at the position of the ball of the foot has developed a long vertical crack(s) at both sides of each boot. This not fair wear and tear, I've had several pairs of good boots which have lasted  several times as long. When I check inside the boot I find no leather underneath that part of the rand. "The North Face" used to be a respected brand, but manufacturers/retailers trying to maximise their profits have ruined it. 

I'd go as far as saying that I regard the boots as fundamentally unsafe for use on the mountains. They are just okay for street walking, provided there's no rain or you'd end up with wet feet.

In the lower picture you can see where two crack met to form a triangular flap. If you look behind the flap there appear to be no sign of leather, just cloth, In a properly made boot the leather should extend down to the welt.