Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • Norwich Judge refuses to believe Capita

    The post below is reposted from Linguist Lounge and shows that the MoJ’s interpreting contract is continuing not to work and that judges are now starting to get very angry indeed with Capita Translation & Interpreting’s excuses. The ‘explanation’ of an interpreter being booked for a certain time and not turning up until later, if at all (posts passim).

    The information comes from a barrister identified as JF.

    Case details:

    Date: 28/05/13
    Place: Norwich Crown Court
    Interpreter: Not Known
    Interpreter booked through the sole contractor
    Case: R v Morkūnas T20127248
    Noticed by: Defence Counsel

    What happened:

    The above case was listed at 9.30 for custody time limit (CTL) hearing. The interpreter should have been there for a conference at 9.00 but did not arrive until 10.30.

    The case was called on twice but the court could not proceed as no interpreter was present. The defendant had to have a conference with the instructing solicitor in English. The solicitor, having had many hours in conference with the defendant, was able – just – to adapt to his limited vocabulary. Fortunately, for complex reasons, the outcome had no practical implications for him.

    My comments:

    This is the usual. The explanation given by Capita was that she, the interpreter, had been booked for 10.30. No member of the Norwich CC staff would have made a booking for 10.30 as it is established over many years that CTL hearings are at 9.30 and need to be preceded by a conference. The knock-on effect was that the trial in which I, Defence Counsel, was committed in an adjoining court, was delayed. Fortunately there was no practical loss as late disclosure aborted the trial. The learned Judge did not appear to believe the explanation of the interpreter being booked for 10.30 and said enquiries would be made.

    Under the old system there were a number of excellent Lithuanian interpreters who lived within 40 minutes of the court, were familiar with its practises, and have never, in my experience, been late.

    The above information I have supplied is true
    *Barrister name and contact details withheld by RPSI Linguist Lounge*

  • Anonymous writes from court

    The mainstream media are now (finally) beginning to pick up on the asset stripping and hatchet job on the British justice system being perpetrated by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor.

    Earlier this week, Fleet Street Fox of the Mirror posted a piece entitled ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ It’s a pretty comprehensive analysis of what Grayling et al. are planning and the likely implications of their plans.

    Included amongst the comments on the post is the one below from ‘Anonymous’ who’s a civil servant working in the courts service. I’ve taken the liberty of tweaking the formatting and capitalising the start of sentences (which the original author failed to do). The quote itself is reproduced by kind permission of Fleet Street Fox.

    I’d really like to put my name to this, but as I’m a serving civil servant working within the court service I’m banned from saying anything about my job online (yes really). For the last 5 years the way the courts have been run borders on the imbecilic. I work in a fines dept and have been moved so far away from my original office I now have to commute for 3 hours a day. I’m not management, just regular bottom of the rung, admin worker. They’ve spend obscene amounts on consultants and “LEAN agents” while the actual work that needs to be done piles up because there simply isn’t the staff to do it. I despair of what this government is doing to public services.

    The general sense of despondency that emerges from the comment is almost tangible, whilst the amount spent on consultants and their ilk and the general mismanagement both go to reinforce a couple of findings about the Ministry of Justice that are already in the public domain: firstly that the MoJ is not an enjoyable place to work (posts passim); and secondly that the MoJ is not an “intelligent customer” in the words of the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee (posts passim).

  • LibreOffice 4.1.0 Beta 1 announced

    the LibreOffice logoThorsten Behrens of The Document Foundation has announced the first beta release of LibreOffice 4.1.0.

    This will be the sixth major release of LibreOffice in two and a half years and comes with a set of attractive new features.

    However, Behrens points out that LibreOffice 4.1 Beta1 is not ready yet for production use and that LibreOffice 4.0.3 should continue to be used, if stability is preferred to testing bleeding edge versions.

    The release is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X from LibreOffice’s QA builds download page at

    Any bugs should be reported to the FreeDesktop Bugzilla:

    A list of known issues and fixed bugs with 4.1.0 Beta1 is available on the LibreOffice wiki.

  • A response to knee-jerk calls to revive Snooper’s Charter

    image of Theresa May
    What is it about being Home Secretary that turns people into control freaks?
    In a typical knee-jerk response in the wake of the barbaric murder in Woolwich last week of Lee Rigby, allegedly by a couple of religious extremists, Theresa May, the UK’s control freak Home Secretary has threatened to revive the so-called “Snooper’s Charter” (posts passim).

    In this move she has been joined on the bandwagon by a couple of former Labour Home Secretaries, Lord Reid and Alan Johnson, who have backed her proposals. Furthermore, Alan Johnson suggested she should resign if she could not get cabinet backing for the stalled Communications Data Bill, as the Snooper’s Charter is better known in official circles.

    In addition, these authoritarians have been joined by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile, who has been making some very illiberal noises indeed and attacking his party’s defence of civil liberties: “The reason [the Bill] was vetoed, as Nick Clegg, the leader of my party, knows very well, was purely political because of demands from inside the Liberal Democrats.”

    Let’s face it, the logic of those politicians mentioned above is flawless: a man hacked to death in the street therefore we obviously need more internet surveillance.

    However, political commentators on both the right and the left remain unconvinced by such flawless logic.

    Writing in The Spectator’s blog on Sunday, Fraser Nelson states:

    Crucially, we have seen nothing in the last few days to suggest we need a Snooping Act. And although power-hungry ministers never admit it, MI5 and MI6 already have full legal powers to intercept anything that can be described as a ‘communication’- from smoke signals to SMS. The Snooping Bill was more about granting espionage powers to the taxman and other nosy government agencies.

    Meanwhile at the other end of the political spectrum, The Morning Star also commented as follows on Sunday:

    In truth, state agencies such as GCHQ, MI5, MI6 and Special Branch have no need of additional powers.

    They have all the means required to monitor actual or wannabe terrorists in Britain, buttressed by the issue of 500,000 intercept warrants each year.

    We also know that in practice the security and intelligence services have no compunction about acting outside the law should it be deemed necessary.

    The insatiable nature of the UK’s law enforcement and security services for communications data is further reinforced by the fact that UK law enforcement made more requests for user data from Skype last year than any other country. In 2012 the UK was the source of 1,268 requests for Skype user information, while the whole of the USA (population 316 mn., 5 times that of the UK. Ed.) made only 1,154 requests and German police made a paltry 685. The UK was looking for information on 2,720 different users in its requests.

    When will the UK’s law enforcement and security services for surveillance be satisfied? When they have reached the ultimate Orwellian scenario of state CCTV in every building in the land and all communications being monitored and their contents archived by the state?

    The murder of one man – no matter how brutal – should not be used as the excuse to treat all of the 63 mn. citizens of the UK as criminal suspects.

  • Debian welcomes Google Summer of Code students

    Debian logoReposted from Bits from Debian.

    We are proud to announce that 16 students have been accepted to work on improving Debian this summer through the Google Summer of Code! This is great news, following our 15 accepted students in 2012, and 9 accepted students in 2011.

    Here is the list of accepted students and projects:

    If you’re interested in one of the projects, please follow the links and talk directly to the students or the mentors, or come hang out with us on IRC.

  • Fedora caught in language trap

    Fedora Pi remix logoFedora, the community spin-off of Red Hat Linux, has announced the release of Pidora – a special remix of Fedora for the Raspberry Pi, as follows:

    Pidora 18 (Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix) Release

    We’re excited to announce the release of Pidora 18 – an optimized Fedora Remix for the Raspberry Pi. It is based on a brand new build of Fedora for the ARMv6 architecture with greater speed and includes packages from the Fedora 18 package set.

    * * *

    There are some interesting new features we’d like to highlight:

    • Almost all of the Fedora 18 package set available via yum (thousands of packages were built from the official Fedora repository and made available online)
    • Compiled specifically to take advantage of the hardware already built into the Raspberry Pi
    • Graphical firstboot configuration (with additional modules specifically made for the Raspberry Pi)
    • Compact initial image size (for fast downloads) and auto-resize (for maximum storage afterwards)
    • Auto swap creation available to allow for larger memory usage
    • C, Python, & Perl programming languages available & included in the SD card image
    • Initial release of headless mode can be used with setups lacking a monitor or display
    • IP address information can be read over the speakers and flashed with the LED light
    • For graphical operation, Gedit text editor can be used with plugins (python console, file manager, syntax highlighting) to serve as a mini-graphical IDE
    • For console operation, easy-to-use text editors are included (nled, nano, vi) plus Midnight Commander for file management
    • Includes libraries capable of supporting external hardware such as motors and robotics (via GPIO, I2C, SPI)

    Unfortunately for Fedora, Pidora has a rather embarrassing meaning to some: in Russian, “pidora” is a derogatory word for a male homosexual. As a consequence, the following announcement has been posted on the Pidora website:

    It has come to our attention that the Pidora name bears an unfortunate similarity to another word in Russian, and this has offended some community members and amused others.

    Please accept our apologies for any offence caused. Our goal was to simply associate “Pi” (from Raspberry Pi) and “Fedora” (from the Fedora Project).

    We are actively seeking a broadly-acceptable alternative Russian name in consultation with some community members, and will post more information shortly.

  • Grayling – contempt and abuse

    image of Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling
    Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling
    Former BBC producer and current Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling MP is the first non-lawyer to serve as Lord Chancellor since the earl of Shaftesbury in 1672-3.

    His lack of legal training could explain lots: he’s been brought in to do a hatchet job on the justice and legal system; some of the changes he’s planning to implement would never be contemplated for an instant by lawyers.

    Whilst in opposition, Grayling became known as a national politician through his “attack dog” pressure on leading Labour politicians.

    It would appear that Grayling is still on the attack if an interview in the Law Society Gazette earlier this week is examined.

    Grayling seems completely unworried about removing the right of the accused to pick an advocate of his/her choice under the criminal legal system. Indeed, he’s positively contemptuous of those that end up in the dock!

    ‘I don’t believe that most people who find themselves in our criminal justice system are great connoisseurs of legal skills. We know the people in our prisons and who come into our courts often come from the most difficult and challenged backgrounds.

    Yes, you did read that correctly. If you need to rely on legal representation funded by criminal legal aid, Grayling thinks you’re too thick to pick your own lawyer, so why not let the state pick one for you. Furthermore, by lumping together people who find themselves in the criminal justice system with those in prison, Grayling arrogantly seems to be equating being in the dock automatically with being guilty. What happened to the presumption of innocence, Mr Grayling?

    However, Grayling’s contempt and abuse is not confined solely to those unfortunates in the dock. Several times in the interview he refers to the provision of legal services as an ‘industry’.

    When I did economics 4 decades ago, the economy consisted of 3 sectors: primary (e.g. agriculture, mining), secondary (e.g. manufacturing, industry) and tertiary (e.g banking, insurance, legal services).

    By referring to the ‘legal services industry’ Grayling has moved legal services from the tertiary to the secondary sector. In so doing he has reduced the role of the skilled legal professional to that of a mere machine operative and that of their clients to the widgets that the machine produces. Grayling is thus guilty of treating people as objects, which is not just a retrograde step for justice, but for British society as a whole.

  • Introducing Joeffice

    Japplis of Amsterdam has released the alpha version of Joeffice, the first open source office suite written in the Java programming language.

    The office suite comprises a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation package, database editor and a drawing viewer.

    Joeffice spreadsheet screenshot
    Joeffice spreadsheet screenshot

    Joeffice works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It also works online in a browser. Joeffice is released under the Apache license 2.0 which makes it possible for companies to change the code and redistribute it internally without having the need to share the modified code.

    Unlike some other office suites, Joeffice has a tab and docking system when opening multiple documents. It also can
    be installed online and it has a plug-in system under which third party plug-ins can be downloaded and installed.

    Japplis’ developer Anthony Goubard states he developed this open source office suite in just 30 days, according to Le Monde Informatique. In Goubard’s words: “The office suite was built with NetBeans and uses several popular open source Java libraries, which allowed me to build the program in one month.”

    Joeffice needs Java 7 to run.

  • Debian GNU/Hurd 2013 released

    GNU Hurd boxes logoThe announcement below has been posted under the News section of the GNU website.

    GNU Hurd is the GNU project’s replacement for the Unix kernel and comprises a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control and other features that are implemented by the Unix or similar kernels (e.g. Linux).

    It is with huge pleasure that the Debian GNU/Hurd team announces the release of Debian GNU/Hurd 2013. This is a snapshot of Debian “sid” at the time of the Debian “wheezy” release (May 2013), so it is mostly based on the same sources. It is not an official Debian release, but it is an official Debian GNU/Hurd port release.

    The installation ISO images can be downloaded from Debian Ports in the usual three Debian flavors: NETINST, CD, DVD. Besides the friendly Debian installer, a pre-installed disk image is also available, making it even easier to try Debian GNU/Hurd.

    Debian GNU/Hurd is currently available for the i386 architecture with more than 10.000 software packages available (more than 75% of the Debian archive, and more to come!).

    Please make sure to read the configuration information, the FAQ, and the translator primer to get a grasp of the great features of GNU/Hurd.

    Due to the very small number of developers, our progress of the project has not been as fast as other successful operating systems, but we believe to have reached a very decent state, even with our limited resources.

    We would like to thank all the people who have worked on GNU/Hurd over the past decades. There were not many people at any given time (and still not many people today, please join!), but in the end a lot of people have contributed one way or another. Thanks everybody!

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