Jul 142017

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

As small businesses look to compete, grow and develop in today’s fast-paced digital world, they need first-class connectivity that will support their business needs today and far in to the future, one of Scotland’s leading experts in digital industry has said.
According to Graeme Gordon (pictured), Chief Exec of Aberdeen-headquartered IFB – a leading managed service and data network provider – keeping apace of the digital transformation will ensure firms are not overtaken by competitors, giving opportunities to increase productivity and future-proof their businesses as the thirst for greater bandwidth continues to grow.

“Digital technology is developing at rapid speeds, and although small businesses may find it hard to keep up, we’re constantly working on new solutions to ensure all businesses, regardless of size, can stay ahead and have access to the best digital connectivity for their business and to suit their needs,” comments Graeme.

“There is now a new wave of full fibre digital infrastructure available in Aberdeen and Edinburgh which provides superior connectivity speeds, and opens up greater opportunities for businesses. World-class connectivity is the key to success for running any business in the digital age. That’s why we’re constantly striving to meet businesses’ digital needs now and for decades to come.”

Powered by this new full fibre infrastructure, IFB Ultrafast offers lightning speeds to support businesses and help them grow and take up new opportunities that the digital economy offers. It’s a platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – the backbone of Scotland’s economy – to be part of the latest tech transformation with connectivity that is fast, reliable and fit for purpose, as speeds and connectivity take on even more relevance to the way business is done.

An increasing number of everyday business services and applications are now online and used as a matter of routine, these cover banking, accounting, sales tools, customer management systems, voice telephony and critical data backup and recovery systems   – all of which need to be accessed reliably and securely to support  the day-to-day workings of all modern businesses.

Graeme adds:

“Connectivity is at the heart of how all businesses operate and the next stage has arrived. This state-of-the-art full fibre digital infrastructure provides blistering connectivity speeds to support SMEs now and moving forward.”

The ultrafast network is delivered by IFB and powered by CityFibre in Aberdeen and Edinburgh – two of Scotland’s ‘Gigabit Cities’. It is being hailed as an affordable independent network offering superior speeds that leads to increased efficiency and productivity by dramatically accelerating the digital capabilities of business, providing quick data transfers between locations for backup and recovery.

To find out more call 0845 270 2101 or email geton@ifb.net

Aberdeen-based IFB is one of Scotland’s leading managed service and data network providers. For over 20 years IFB has been providing critical connectivity and ICT services to the UK market place. Its key markets include the demanding on and offshore oil and gas sector, professional services and public and third sector. It designs, deploys, manages and supports key services including Cloud, Backup and Recovery, Internet Access, Networks, Hosting, Workplace Recovery and Telecoms through national, multi-Gbit/s network that links Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London points of presence.

IFB can be contacted on 0845 270 2101 or geton@ifb.net. More about the company can be found at www.ifb.net

CityFibre is the UK’s builder of Gigabit Cities and the national alternative provider of wholesale fibre network infrastructure. It has major metro duct and fibre footprints in 42 cities across the UK and a national long distance network that connects these cities to major data-centres across the UK and to key peering points in London.

The company has an extensive customer base spanning service integrators, enterprise and consumer service providers and mobile operators. Providing a portfolio of active and dark fibre services, CityFibre’s networks address 28,000 public sites, 7,800 mobile masts, 280,000 businesses and 4 million homes.

CityFibre is based in London, United Kingdom, and its shares trade on the AIM Market of the London Stock Exchange (AIM: CITY).

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May 192017

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

One of the biggest shake ups of European privacy legislation which is expected to have a significant impact on the way business is done comes into force in 12 months’ time.

It’s going to have a huge impact on how businesses store and process data and carries tough penalties and hefty fines for breaches.

The Government will implement the General Data Protection Regulation and it is expected that the UK will continue to comply with GDPR after Brexit – so all businesses should be assessing how they use personal data and how this legislation will affect the sector in which they operate.

Advanced planning is key to ensuring compliance with the new legislation which comes into force from 25 May 2018, according to Austen Clark, managing director of Clark Integrated Technologies.

 “The changes that will come with the 2018 deadline will have implications for businesses of all sizes that handle the personal data of EU residents, regardless of location,” Mr Clark states.

“The GDPR is going to have a huge impact on how businesses store and process data and they need to act now to make sure they are properly prepared for this major overhaul of data protection legislation which will impact on us all. Dedicating time to this now will ensure businesses have procedures in place to be able to comply with the new regulation.

“This isn’t just for big businesses – a gym that offers a members’ loyalty scheme or a one-person chiropractor that asks patients to complete a wellbeing form will have to ensure that personal data is stored in line with the new regulations and not breach them.”

GDPR will directly apply in EU countries and replaces ageing European and national data protection legislation, with companies given until until May next year to adopt the measures and become compliant.

Influenced by technological advances, it introduces new accountability obligations, stronger rights and ongoing restrictions on international data flows. GDPR seeks to protect individuals whose personal data is handled by companies. Data processing refers to the handling, storage, evaluation, reference or general use of information relating to individuals. Businesses should only be collecting necessary data and discarding it when it is no longer required to protect data subject rights.

So an online retailer running a small e-commerce site that holds customers’ personal details is subject to GDPR regulations. And any company or individual providing marketing, IT, accountancy or business support that may have access to a wealth of client and customer data needs to ensure this is collected, stored and protected in specific ways.

One of the biggest considerations of the new regulations is ensuring sensitive data is handled correctly.

Government help to prepare for the regulation is available, with webinars, training courses and data flow audits and Mr Clark suggests a good starting point is to carry out a gap analysis of current processing in line with GDPR.

“Understand what data you hold, how you are using it, and make sure that you are practising good data hygiene by limiting access to data to only those who need it, and ensuring that authentication protocols are up-to-scratch for those users,” Mr Clark advises.

“Businesses should also consider deleting data that is no longer required so that it does not become an unnecessary risk.”

Clark IT is already working with clients to assess how GDPR will impact on them and the sector in which they operate, to guide them through the complexities of the legislation and to ensure they become fully compliant. The IT specialists can take clients through the process from start to finish using its unique portal and working with partners to cover legal, datacentre, insurance and finance matters.

While it may seem like a daunting process, GDPR should not be viewed as unnecessary red tape says Mr Clark, who predicts that the legislation has the ability to bring benefits to both businesses and individuals.

Mr Clark states:

“This creates a new single data protection act, and has scope to bring increased consistency to data protection practices, eliminating problems arising from the existence of different national variations.

“There are enhanced powers given to data protection authorities in tackling non-compliance and it will also be easier for individuals to claim against data controllers where their data privacy has been infringed.

 “GDPR will also give individuals greater control and rights over their personal data. As a result, individuals will be able to request that businesses delete their no longer necessary or accurate personal data.

“The regulation could also prove to be an advance in the war against cybercrime, given mandatory breach notifications. Taking GDPR seriously will see businesses invest in, and demonstrate, high levels of security which could in turn raise customer trust.”

Clark IT based near Turriff in Aberdeenshire is one Scotland’s leading independent providers of managed ICT solutions with a broad range of corporate and commercial clients not only in the North-east but across Scotland and beyond.

Its clients benefit from the specialist knowledge of its 26-strong workforce to support their systems and through managed IT services. Clients also benefit from Pro-active IT Support, 24/7 Monitoring, A virtual IT Manager, predictive IT costs and a strategic IT plan tailor-made for their business.

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Apr 282017

With thanks to Beverley Tricker, Tricker PR.

IFB, one of Scotland’s leading managed service and data network providers, has recently formally appointed Jane Stewart as Non-Executive Director to the board.

Jane’s appointment strengthens the team at IFB as it further commits to its major strategic growth plans throughout the UK. Jane brings proven strategic, commercial and high growth experience to IFB. 

With a CA background, Jane has over 20 years’ experience in private equity, corporate finance and Board level finance and strategy roles.

Jane is also currently part-time Strategy Director at William Tracey Group having formerly operated as Group CFO.      

IFB’s CEO, Graeme Gordon says:

“Jane has supported IFB in its development over the past two years in an ad hoc capacity and I am delighted to welcome her formally to the Board at a key point in the company’s continued growth story. Despite tough local trading conditions, 2016 saw IFB achieve year-on-year revenue growth with continued positive financial performance. 

“This has allowed the business to further invest in the right team structure for the future, including Jane’s appointment and recent additions to our Business Development team in the central belt.  Whilst we seek to further expand across the UK, the North East continues to be a key market for IFB.”  

Jane Stewart, IFB’s Non-Executive Director comments:

“It is an exciting time for IFB and I’m thrilled to work with the Board as the business looks to further evolve its strategy and prepare for significant expansion into new services and new geographical markets.”

Graeme Gordon added:

“As our customer needs have evolved, so has our strategy and approach. IFB recently announced investments totalling over £1.5M in network and managed services which has enabled the business to improve its service offering and to develop new solutions to bring to market in conjunction with key partners. 

“Our priority continues to be supporting our customers to get on and stay on through exemplary customer service coupled with competitive, innovative connectivity, networking and managed services solutions, delivered via our own infrastructure or that of our key partners.  

“This, combined with our focus on building the right team for the future, cements our growth ambitions. Jane’s wealth of experience will help IFB move forward with these plans.”

In addition, IFB has increased its Cloud based data protection service offerings with support from Dell and Cisco Finance.

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Dec 162016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Graeme Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of IFB.

IFB, one of Scotland’s leading managed service and data network providers, has invested a further £1 million to expand its UK network capacities, specifically designed to increase fibre and ultra-high speed connectivity to firms across the UK.

Effective connectivity is critical for strong modern businesses in the digital economy with the demand not just being driven by devices – laptops, tablets and smartphones, but also from more complex data in sensors built in to the environments we live in.

Through its delivery of reliable, resilient, secure and fast connectivity to 1000’s of its SME and Enterprise business customers, IFB has the ability to move large volumes of business data around.

The investment allows IFB to continue this whilst delivering next generation fibre to the premise connections, assisting its customers in competing in today’s modern digital economy.

The investment has been made in new network fibres and hardware infrastructure connecting IFB’s main network and Data Centre hubs in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London and Stavanger. As well as further enhancing the abilities of IFB’s super connected hubs in the London Internet Exchange (LINX) and at the Scottish Internet Exchange (IXScotland).

IFB also connects to Europe through trans-North Sea fibre connectivity, providing resilience and alternative routing for business data and traffic in and out of the UK. The investment is the next in a series of key developments IFB will be announcing during early 2017.

IFB’s CEO, Graeme Gordon commented:

“We are seeing rapid acceleration in the need, use and creation of diverse types of data from every shape and size of business, these businesses are sharing more data online and using more online applications and services.

“Cloud, or your data in an offsite data centre, means that getting to and from this data requires better connectivity – this ever increasing need will continue to grow as you combine more connected everyday object sensors and devices as part of The Internet of Things and as we start to talk about Industry 4.0 – seamlessly combining physical, digital and cloud based data and applications more of the time.

“We have seen a tenfold increase in bandwidth usage by our clients in the last three years driven by these and other key factors. For some time now our clients have not just been using the connections we provide to simply access the Internet, they are using it to back up and protect their data offsite, for access to online private and public applications, and to move more services such as voice and video calls off of traditional phone lines.

“This data demand calls for much higher, constant bandwidth availability simply to stand still, and in real terms much more bandwidth if you want to grow your market position. IFB’s investment means its clients can become much more productive and effective by creating and consuming the same amount of data in a much smaller period of time, or do much more in the same timescale.

“The enhanced network infrastructure also allows IFB to accelerate and deliver directly to the user, its own range of innovative and affordable cloud, data backup and hosted voice services to meet client’s individual needs.

“A recent survey by The Institute of Directors showed that 57% of its members store their data on owned or leased servers with 30% doing so in the cloud. 60% of members feel an increase in connectivity speed would improve competitiveness and 78% believed their organisation’s productivity would increase by an uplift in speed.”

IFB’s network expansion is part of a major project developed in partnership with one of its long term key technical suppliers, Softcat.

Seán Connolly, Account Director at Softcat says:

“We were delighted to collaborate with IFB to help expand their network capabilities. Our Cisco and Juniper technical design team complimented IFB’s existing skillset to deliver a robust, scalable solution fitting with IFB’s growth plans.”


Apr 012016
Euan Badenoch2

Euan Badenoch says backing up was a “lifesaver”

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

An Aberdeen University student could have lost an academic year’s worth of material when his laptop crashed – but for heeding his mum’s words of wisdom and ensuring his data was backed up.

For Euan Badenoch (23) being able to retrieve data after a computer crash was a “lifesaver” that meant that he could retrieve his work on a different PC and continue where he left off.

The former pupil of Turriff Academy was nearing completion and close to deadline on a 3,000 word assignment for his Masters Degree in Environmental Science when his laptop gave up the ghost.

His mum Morag works at Clark Integrated Technologies near Turriff and one of her regular reminders to Euan after he left home to embark on his studies was the importance of backing up data in case of an accident or failure.

Euan followed her advice, backing up his work to a USB and external hard drive. It meant that when disaster struck and his laptop failed, all was not lost and he could simply pick up where he left off.

Euan admits it would have been devastating to have lost all of his work due to a computer failure.

“My laptop is old and when I went to switch it back on there was no life and I had a panic attack as I’d spent a lot of time and research on this piece of work and the deadline was just a day away,” he explains.

“Not only would I have lost that particular assignment and but the rest of my university course work since October last year.

 “Having my data backed up was a lifesaver.  It’s just something I do automatically now and have multiple saved copies so that it’s always accessible.”

Yesterday was World Back Up Day, with the message to not be an April Fool by failing to back up data.

Back up services are important for individuals and it’s essential for business too, says Clark IT’s technical lead Amar Mirashi.

Amar has many real experiences of being able to avert major problems for the businesses they support, such as in cases when files have been accidentally deleted, ransomware has struck or a laptop was lost.

One customer’s network was hit by ransomware attack through the CryptoLocker virus which encrypted network files. With hourly back-ups in place, Clark was able to restore systems to the time 15 minutes before the virus struck, allowing business to continue as normal.

Through back up, Clark  IT was able to restore an accidentally deleted document to a client which was essential evidence in a legal wrangle it was having with a supplier. The document had been part of a deleted email, but it was traced and restored through back up – and the client won the dispute.

A businessman who left his laptop on the boot of his car and drove off never saw the portable equipment again – but with cloud back up Clark IT ensured he was able to access all of his data.

Amar says:

“As a trusted adviser to clients, it is our responsibility to ensure they have the best services possible and we do that proactively and we stress to our clients the importance of having correct back up in place. At times when there may be potential for problems, we pick that up through alerts to our support desk and act and advise appropriately.

“It’s all part of the fully managed service we provide for our clients. Preventing data loss and ensuring business continuity for our customers is key.”

To find out about World Back Up Day, visit http://www.worldbackupday.com/

Clark IT has 25 years of experience in providing industry leading support and delivering business-class technology. The company’s integrated solutions provide industry leading services, productivity and cost effective IT platforms for business growth. For more information, see the firm’s website at www.clark-it.com


May 302014

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryThe saying runs ‘a week is a long time in politics;’  and it certainly has been a long, eventful week in Scotland.  Congratulations to us all; we  now have new MEPs, including one UKIP member, a Scottish first.

Meet the new boss – David Coburn.  The Torygraph (sorry, Telegraph) quoted Coburn as saying:

“voters disillusioned with the Nationalists had coalesced around Ukip as a result and rejected the First Minister’s claim the BBC was to blame by providing extensive coverage of Nigel Farage to Scottish homes” 


Old Susannah is trying to work out how you can be gay and a UKIP MEP, when UKIP wants to stop same sex marriage. It’s almost as if there were some inconsistencies in this party’s policies and/or membership.

The new catchphrase on UKIP supporters’ lips is “I’m not racist but…”.  For some reason most of us want the freedom to have property abroad, move abroad and work abroad (if not keep our money away from the taxman by stashing it abroad). We just don’t want people from abroad doing that kind of thing here.

So, UKIP  has gained ground, largely at the expense of the Lib ‘no tuition fees, we’ve signed a pledge’ Democrats. I guess every very grey cloud has some kind of silver lining. Oh, and that nice man, Mr Inclusive, Nick Griffin has lost the seat the BNP once held.

But first, a quick word before definitions on a serious matter. There is a drug-related problem to be addressed, sorry to say. The P&J and its sister the Evening Express have been desperate for a fix lately, and have been experimenting with drug stories. Unfortunately too many drugs articles can cause reporters great confusion and difficulties in concentrating, thus leading to inaccurate, wild stories. Cocaine in particular can lead to a dangerous feeling over confidence.  In a very excited, highly agitated condition, the P&J reported:

“A MAJOR police probe has been launched after a stash of cocaine was found on a North Sea oil platform. Medics have drug-tested 150 workers on the Piper Bravo after a number of wraps containing white powder were discovered.

“The substance will be tested at a laboratory in Aberdeen today and is expected to be confirmed as the Class A drug.” https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/83802/suspected-stash-of-cocaine-found-on-north-sea-platform/

Old Susannah may only be an amateur writer, but I tend to write about things once they have been confirmed. The news professionals at AJL clearly have problems with doing lines. The head line in their story claims it’s cocaine that’s been found. Then the paper does some smaller lines which tell readers that the wraps (whatever that is) are expected to be confirmed as the class a drug.

I’m afraid it was snorts of derision all round other Scottish media when the truth came out, as alas! The wraps of cocaine turned out to be some kind of painkiller (and a legal one at that).

Unfortunately with drugs, there is always a comedown. The papers and their uber editor somehow hallucinated that cocaine was found on an oil rig. When they were forced to sober up a few days later, reality had set in, and they reported:

“An unknown substance discovered in packages on a North Sea platform was common pain relief medicine, tests have confirmed.

“Three small packages containing the substance were recovered from the Piper Bravo platform on Saturday.” http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/scotland/platform-alert-substance-medicine-1.385127

Confused hacks at the papers even have one article talking about unknown substances, but the same article has a photo captioned:

“FIND: An unknown substance found on board the Piper Bravo platform has been confirmed as a common painkiller” – http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/local/three-packages-to-be-tested-after-white-powder-found-on-north-sea-platform-1.380523

So you see, messing around with drugs because you think they may make you or your newspaper look glamorous or interesting can backfire badly, making you embarrassed by your behaviour for a long time to come.

Onwards with definitions as promised last week, although I find it hard to figure out if the governments want to protect our rights or spy on us, and be the only ones allowed to hold data on individuals. It surely can’t be the latter. Here are some definitions focusing on recent developments impacting on your right to privacy, your right to know, and press freedom.

‘Right to be forgotten’ : (Modern English legal phrase)- legal guarantee that in certain circumstances search engines will be forced to remove links from search results if they concern a private person who wants their past stories and deeds to be omitted from search results.

As the BBC reported,

“The Court of Justice of the European Union set a legal precedent on 13 May when it ruled that a user had the right to have links to web pages about him removed from Google’s results because the passage of time had made them ‘irrelevant'”

The Spanish man had complained that Google’s links to an auction notice of his repossessed home infringed his privacy. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27499601

Surely this ‘right to be forgotten’ could never be used to protect lawbreakers, people with violent pasts, or UKIP members who eventually realise they don’t want to be associated with UKIP views on homosexuals and immigrants?

Somehow the EU has decided that it is not the responsibility of people who publish information on the web to take it down, it is somehow Google’s responsibility for letting people know what’s out there that should be curtailed. Perhaps we’ll decide that librarians (if there are any left) are responsible for what gets into card catalogues and publishers are off the hook for printing information that someone, somewhere wants forgotten.

What are the implications – cost, practicality, data management for search engines? Is it even possible to enact this law? I guess these minor details will work themselves out with little fuss.

The BBC also reports:-

“Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, has attacked the judgement, calling it “wide-sweeping internet censorship”, adding that it would be difficult for search firms to determine what should be removed”

Surely our EU and national governments wouldn’t try and control the flow of information, would they?

At the same time the EU wants to control the circulation of information and retention records, UK / Scottish Authorites are going about things a little differently.

Yet another policeman has been charged with spying on an ex partner via the police database. I’m sure he was just trying to keep a friendly eye on her and her family; she’s probably flattered that she’s being looked after.

Unfortunately, the law says that such records are to be used for professional reasons only. But surely we can trust the police with our private information, especially now that the government is collecting more and more data on us all the time?

School children and younger are being arrested, and their DNA and fingerprints taken. Kind of conveniently, this makes it just that much easier for the police to keep tabs on us all from an early age, whether we’re criminals or not. You’ll also be happy to know that more and more police are carrying guns.  I’m sure you feel as safe as I do.

When it comes to sharing info, there is a new scheme afoot to keep records on people with violent pasts, and let potential spouses access these. There may be issues with who controls this data, what’s included or excluded, and who makes the decisions on what to release. But as long a the authorities in charge, then it will all work out fine.  I wonder what would happen if the police started looking at the violent, criminal activities of its own members?

Press Reform: (Modern English phrase) – the ConDem attempt at press regulation in the aftermath of the news of the world hacking scandal.

In the old days, the only check on government, politicians and the powerful was a free press.  However, one news corporation used some illegal methods to get stories.  Coupled with the fact our government is trustworthy and doesn’t need any investigation, the ConDems have decided we don’t really need a free press. As the Telegraph reports:

“Late on Friday, in yet another session from which press representatives were excluded, Mrs Miller and the other parties produced the final version of their charter. There were a few small changes, but crucially nothing to address the newspapers’ central concern, which was that the charter could be amended by politicians, effectively at will. (In theory, a high bar – a two-thirds majority of Parliament – is needed, but in practice this requirement is not entrenched and could be changed by a simple majority of MPs.)

“Any new press regulator would not itself be part of the state, but it would have to conform to the criteria set down by the state in the royal charter. These are fairly prescriptive already – but if they can be changed by MPs in future to make them tighter still, a decisive line has been crossed in political control of the press.”

Oh, and the ‘Mrs Miller’ quoted in the above paragraph is the same woman who was the culture secretary; she had to leave in disgrace after the media exposed a scandal or two she was involved with.  It’s almost as if she wanted revenge on the press. Miller also had an aide try and thwart press questions by a Telegraph reporter by intimating Miller was in a position of power over the press.

Private Eye, The Guardian, i, The Independent and The Observer (to name a few) did not dish out money to the police for scoops, did not hack into 150 phonecalls of Kate Middleton’s before she married Prince William, and did not hack into a missing schoolgirl’s phone, possibly compromising crucial evidence.

But you have to be fair when you’re in government – like when many of our major banks broke the rules, lost tens of millions of pounds, and falsified records. They were all soundly punished with measures ranging from taxpayer-funded bailouts, taxpayer-funded million pound bonuses for bosses, and absolutely no punitive regulations were at all.  One paper breaks the law (with it should be noted police complicity), and it’s time to cow the entire media.

With the banking sector, it is almost as if the friendships and overlaps between government officials and highly-placed financial executives resulted in the government turning a blind eye.  Funnily enough, the government is keen to punish all  of its critics in the publishing sector. I wonder why?

So in summary, you won’t be getting information from a free, unhindered press.  You probably won’t be getting all the search results you want from Google or Yahoo!  You’ll be getting information from the government, or at least the information government will let you have.  Seems fair enough to me.

Next week:  We’ll see if we’re allowed to publish

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Nov 082013

Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly casts an eye on the past week’s vibrant and dynamic events.

DictionaryTally Ho!  It’s been bonfire night, which here in Torry means another 7 weeks or so of fireworks at night.

The Members (‘Sound of the Suburbs’) played at the Moorings; the Gerry Jablonski Band is touring Poland, the Opera was in town, and the fireworks went well (better than the last time, when everything went off all at once).

Giant balls and lights are being hung on Union Street for the holidays. Let’s hope the balls don’t drop, like they did a last year.

I bought a wonderful new mattress from Glencraft; the company continues to employ and support people with visual problems and others with special abilities. 

It’s just as well it’s still here, those nice ConDems have a plan to save money by taking it away from several thousand people who get independent living benefit. At present a court appeal is saving the day.  Let’s hope commonsense prevails at least once. If those individuals and corporations which avoid paying tax paid their fair share, we’d possibly not be in such a position. But they know who they are, and they’re holding onto their money.

Aberdeen Positive (cleverly branded AB+), had one of their inspiring cultural talks this week.

They’re going to give us a cultural identity brand, which is great. BP is of course involved, as are various other businessmen, and RGU admin types (who I’m sure don’t take any direction from web-happy Sir Ian Wood, who is more or less in charge at RGU). Old Susannah tragically couldn’t make their last meeting, but was told a riveting time was had by all.

Sadly someone dared to bring up the subject of Union Terrace Gardens; this dismayed the convener. Happily just at the end, our man from RGU (who’s actually lived in 27 different places, so he proudly boasts – wow!) closed by saying we need a public square. Of course we do.

I’ve spent a happy few hours this past week at BrewDog, you’ll be surprised to hear. They’ve run out of their new creation ‘Hello my name is Sonja’ – which is a blueberry packed delight. Hope it’s coming back soon. There was some pumpkin brew from the US, which was subtle, and perfect for this time of year. And yes, I’ve even bought a few more shares. Me and a few thousand other people.

BrewDog are hiring, reinvigorating the drinks sector in the UK and abroad, and are expanding. If my few quid contribution helps, then I’m glad of it. Cheers all.

It’s a good thing people’s noses don’t actually grow when they lie like Pinocchio’s did; or else some of the great and the good would have to either clam up or hire permanent plastic surgeons. Truth, or the lack of it, has featured largely this past week in the news.

In mythology, Diogenes searched endlessly for an honest man. It seems like he’d have his work cut out for him today. Here are a few definitions to illustrate.

Lying: (English Gerund) To deliberately distort the truth.

Times have changed; and I think people are getting much more honest than they used to be. After all, absolutely no one, no matter what kind of situation they might get caught in, admits to lying these days.

We’ve seen the ‘Plebgate’ case unfold: first policemen accused senior Tory MP Andrew Mitchell of a foul-mouthed rant over a bicycle, which upset the public. Later, Channel 4 obtained the footage, showing no public within earshot at all. The police logs seem to have been creative writing exercises. What followed, when the police and their superiors were asked to explain further, saw one or two innocent little white lies coming to the fore.

Mitchell lost his job, had never used the word ‘pleb’ and it’s proved no such rant actually happened.

Mitchell may have lost his job over this, but don’t worry: all the police involved are still in place, ready to continue to fight crime in their usual virtuous fashion.

The BBC reported:-

“A police officer has apologised to MPs for an “inadvertent error” in evidence to them about the “plebgate” affair.

“Det Sgt Stuart Hinton, of Warwickshire Police, said he had made an “honest” mistake in a previous hearing held by the Home Affairs Committee last month.

“He also said he regretted the “distress” felt by Andrew Mitchell and his family during the whole saga.

“But Sgt Chris Jones, of West Midlands Police, said he had not misled MPs over his disciplinary record. On Tuesday, he told MPs 13 complaints had been made about him but none had been upheld.”

So, no lying there then, just the odd ‘inadvertent error’ and the odd ‘mistake when talking to the Home Affairs Committee. Could happen to anyone.

Just because we assume the police can and should have a head for accuracy and details is no reason to think they’re superhuman. In fact Sgt Jones also managed to forget any claims had ever been lodged against him, but this was soon proved to just be another little mistake on his part.

He seemed very believable to me in his court appearance; first of all, he’s a policeman, and second of all, he was wearing a nice suit. Did the policeman admit to blatantly lying by making up this little story that cost someone a job? Not a bit of it. He does however regret things. I’m sure he does.

So how did the press get all the previous alleged dirt on former MP Mitchell? Er, the police leaked it to them, but I’m sure it was all well intentioned.  It’s very bad form for the BBC and Channel 4 to point out these flaws, and to remind us that policemen from the slightly powerful union would wear ‘police pleb’ t-shirts to show solidarity for their ‘inadvertently erring’ colleagues. That’s what friends are for.

It was all going so well against the businessmen involved, who had been granted export licences to Iraq

Perhaps we had expected the politician was lying in the ‘Plebgate’ saga; after all, there have been one or two small instances of politicians lying to us in the past.  Even Tony Blair decided to turn an intelligence dossier into a spectacular, sensational, frightening case for attacking Iraq.

Weapons of Mass destruction were poised and ready to take the UK out within 45 minutes; of course we had to have a tiny little war, even if a few million UK residents marched to protest against it. After all, we’re better off, the veterans who went there are better off, and of course the Iraqi people are better off. As is Halliburton and as are a few US tycoons.

Aside from the dodgy dossier, we had the earlier instance of saintly Alan Clark, purveyor of truth back in the days of Thatcher. The Matrix Churchill trial saw gagging orders handed out like sweeties. It was all going so well against the businessmen involved, who had been granted export licences to Iraq. It might have looked like the Government was caught in a web of blatant lies, but that wasn’t the case.

Alan eventually admitted in the face of evidence that he was just being ‘economical with the actualité’. So, once again, no real lying was going on.

Don’t worry, Aberdeen makes the grade when it comes to having honest police. We now have our own local policewoman who managed to avoid being branded a liar and/or snoop.

WPC Amanda Dixon decided that she needed to know a wee bit more about her new Peterhead neighbours; the poor policewoman was in fear they would break the law and rob her. She then merely bent the law a little, and used the police’s STORM database to do a little pre-emptive spying on them. Sure, it might have been illegal, but she is a policewoman after all.

While in the old days, if people wanted to snoop on neighbours they would simply hide behind twitching net curtains and peer, it’s nice to know Dixon is willing to go just that little bit better.

I can’t think why she got into any trouble for illegally accessing personal data in contravention of the Data Protection Act, but the story has a happy ending:  she didn’t have to go to court.

Police don’t lie, and they don’t break data protection rules, fabricate notes, and leak info to the papers

Obviously admitting no lawbreaking, Dixon bravely admitted being ‘nosy’.

Thankfully her lawyer told the sheriff that Ms Dixon was too mentally fragile to appear in court and such appearance would be detrimental to her mental health.

I, for one, am so very grateful to the legal system for sparing her this huge trauma of attending court, which clearly would be something a policewoman would never need to do normally as part of her job. You might think she was just trying to evade justice, but surely it is health after committing a crime that’s more important than the people being spied on or the law being upheld.

Now that the police have displayed such compassion to spying Dixon, I await their expedited compassion in offering compensation to George Copland. If you need a reminder, Copland was arrested days after a siege at his empty flat.

The flat was meant to have a gunman in it, although it was empty, and whoever said they were looking in the windows at a gunman would have had to go very close to the house, set away from the main road and peer in deliberately. Perhaps it was Dixon? Anyway, that was in June. No doubt a fair, full compensation deal is winging its way to Copland as you’re reading.

Police don’t lie, and they don’t break data protection rules, fabricate notes, and leak info to the papers. They might sometimes make mistakes, but don’t we all. And if police like Ms Dixon spy, I’m sure it’s for our own good in the end. No doubt her neighbours think so.

Spying: (English Gerund) The act of covertly obtaining information without the person or organisation being scrutinised giving consent or having knowledge.

In this Age of Information, the only thing that’s successfully stopping wars, terrorist attacks, organised crime, and Policewoman Dixon’s neighbours from undoubtedly robbing her is spying. I am very glad big brother is watching. I am very glad that the ‘all-seeing eye’ on American dollar bills stands for something less nebulous than some Masonic symbolism.

Spying is only done when necessary. Sixty Million Spanish telephone calls were intercepted by the US. Yes, that hardly seems like any, and that’s actually the number of calls for a whole year’s worth of listening in. I’d have thought it would be a higher figure, after all the population of Spain is about 47 million: that’s only about a call and a half per citizen.

However, Germany’s Angela Merkel is a bit put out the Yanks have been spying on her personal calls, and there is some evidence to point to the UK helping the US out in these covert activities.

As so many right-thinking people claim ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you don’t have anything to hide’. Quite so. Perhaps we should just give up on the idea of individual freedoms, privacy, intimacy and individuality if it means we’ll all be safer.

It would be churlish to bring up the fact that back in the day, famous cross-dresser and paranoiac J Edgar Hoover had files on millions of Americans. If he needed one of these people to spy on other people, all he would have to do is threaten to expose the personal info he’d collected on them. If we could only get back to those good old secure, happy days – Communist witch hunts, paranoia, government control.

Thankfully, it seems we’re heading there.

Sometimes it might seem that the security forces and police get a bit sensitive about sharing the details of their own activities – particularly when these activities fall into grey areas of law. No doubt if they want our lives laid bare for their legal inspection (or for a less than legal whim, Ms Dixon), they’ll become completely honest, transparent, and law-abiding as well.

I feel sorry for those who make their living from spying on the innocent, that nasty whistleblower Edward Snowden has made life tricky for them and their crucial work. He’s obviously let the world know the extent of US snooping for his own personal gain.

He’s currently living a luxurious life as a fugitive in Moscow somewhere (no – I don’t know where to any government spooks reading this). After all, the people who are willing to look into your and my personal business for reasons ranging from national security to Dixon’s ‘nosiness’ are just trying to make an honest living.

Well, have a good week everyone. And mind what you put in that email, or say on your mobile. Big brother is listening, taking notes, and will be in touch.

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