Monthly Archives: February 2023

  • LibreOffice & Nextcloud for EU Institutions

    EU flagEU data protection authorities have negotiated a contract for the use of Nextcloud and LibreOffice Online in EU institutions. They are now testing the solutions, German IT news heise reports.

    Data protection-friendly alternatives

    It was announced last Wednesday that the European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski and his team have begun testing both solutions this month. In coming months they want to examine “how these can tools support EU day-to-day work“. This pilot phase is part of a larger IT reflection process that the EDPS already started last year aimed at encouraging EUIs to consider alternatives to large-scale service providers to ensure better compliance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1725.

    By procuring the Open Source Software from one single entity in the EU, the use of sub-processors is avoided. In doing so, the EDPS avoids data transfers to non-EU countries such as the USA and allows for more effective control over the processing of personal data.

    According to Mr Wiewiórowski, “Open Source Software offers data protection-friendly alternatives to commonly used large-scale cloud service providers that often imply the transfer of individuals’ personal data to non-EU countries. Solutions like this may therefore minimise reliance on monopoly providers and detrimental vendor lock-in. By negotiating a contract with an EU-based provider of cloud services, the EDPS is delivering on its commitments, as set out in its 2020-2024 Strategy, to support EUIs in leading by example to safeguard digital rights and process data responsibly“.

    Microsoft Office in the sights

    Mr Wiewiórowski has already examined the contracts which EU institutions have with Microsoft and reached the conclusion in 2020 that the data processing purposes when using Windows or Microsoft Office had been defined far too openly. Processing contractors were not adequately audited and data could be transferred too easily by EU institutions to countries outside the Union. At the time, he demanded that Microsoft should only retain user information within the EU. The roles of all those involved with all their rights and obligations must be clearly regulated. Furthermore, Users should look around for alternatives that “enable higher data protection standards“.

    The EDPS started further investigations into the use of Microsoft and Amazon cloud services by EU institutions. These entailed the use Microsoft Office 365 by the EU Commission. According to Wiewiórowski many contracts were concluded prior to the “Schrems II Judgment” and had to be examined in the light of the European Court of Justice case law.

  • Qu’ils mangent des navets

    Thérèse Coffey, the alleged Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has advised consumers to opt for turnips as tomato and cucumber supplies dwindle, owing to shortages.

    This instantly reminds your correspondent of that phrase attributed to Marie Antoinette, supposedly uttered by her during the French Revolution: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche“, usually translated into English as “Let them eat cake“.

    However, there is no there is absolutely no historical evidence that Marie-Antoinette ever said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” or anything like it, although folklore scholars have found similar tales in other parts of the world.

    Lookalikes - Thérèse Coffey and Marie Antoinette

    Anyway, back to Coffey, a minister devoid of humanity and compassion, but richly endowed with incompetence, callousness and that all-important can’t-do attitude.

    Coffey has stated that shortages of salad and other vegetables in UK supermarkets could last up to a month. However, critics have accused the government of bringing the problem on itself by failing to support local growers and through Brexit policies.

    Speaking in the House of Commons, Coffey told MPs British consumers should “cherish” home-grown produce, whilst castigating the latter for wanting “a year-round choice“.

    In her own words:

    “It’s important to make sure that we cherish the specialisms that we have in this country. A lot of people would be eating turnips right now rather than thinking necessarily about aspects of lettuce and tomatoes and similar.”

    Finally, so that Coffey can indulge in ‘cherished‘ home-grown produce, your ‘umble scribe will perform a public duty by providing a link – should the alleged Secretary of State happen to be reading this post, to a recipe for cream of potato and turnip soup.

    Enjoy! 😉

    Update 25/02/23. One consequence of Ms Coffey’s advocacy of “cherishing” this humble root vegetable is that supermarkets are reported as running of turnips. Your correspondent could find none at his local Lidl yesterday, although swedes (the Swedish turnip) are plentiful.

    As a final postscript, your ‘umble scribe notes from The Guardian today that its political sketch writer John Crace has written:

    Four years ago I tweeted, “Let them eat turnips”. It was meant to be a joke about Brexit. Now it’s government policy. Satire comes at you fast these days.
  • Campbells responds to bigot

    One disadvantage of social media is it allows hard-of-thinking bigots a platform to express their prejudices.

    However, this might not always work to the advantage of the prejudiced, as the exchange below between a Tennessee redneck and Customer Service for the Campbell Soup Company re homophobia illustrates.

    Original post comments Your new commercial with the 2 dads makes me sick, whilst Campbells Customer Service replies Hi Kim! If you're feeling sick, we suggest a enjoying a delicious can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup. Make sure to enjoy it hot, so that it can help warm up your cold, dead heart.

    According to Wikipedia, chicken soup – with or without noodles – ‘has long been touted as a form of folk medicine to treat symptoms of the common cold and related conditions. In 2000, scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha studied the effect of chicken soup on the inflammatory response in vitro. They found that some components of the chicken soup inhibit neutrophil migration, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could hypothetically lead to temporary ease from symptoms of illness’.

    No research has yet been conducted into the curative properties of chicken soup on prejudice and homophobia.

    However, Campbells could be onto something. In the words of the French chef and culinary writer Auguste Escoffier:

    Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.

    Bon appétit, bigot! 😀

  • Tasteless food, tasteless advertising

    Junk food giant McDonalds’ advertising department clearly has as much taste as the food, otherwise it would not have placed the advertisement below by a Cornish bus stop directly opposite Penmount Crematorium on the road between Truro and Carland Cross (the A30/A39 junction).

    McDonald's to remove 'tasteless' sign opposite Cornwall crematorium

    Will the person who thought this was a good idea be getting a roasting?