Monthly Archives: June 2024

  • Trolled by donkeys

    The Columbine Centre in the Essex coastal town of Walton-on-the-Naze has not been renowned as a venue with a history of political drama.

    Until now.

    Yesterday the good folk from Led By Donkeys – in their own words – “dropped in on Farage’s election rally with a beaming picture of Putin. Nigel was not pleased“.

    Farage is on record as far back as 2014 in expressing his admiration for Vladimir Vladimirovich and his gangster regime in the Kremlin. Moreover, Farage has faced criticism in recent weeks for his outrageous statement that the western democracies are responsible for provoking Russia to invade Ukraine.

    In addition, Farage has also vehemently denied any Russian interference or involvement in the divisive 2016 Brexit referendum, a fact helped by British establishment reluctance to investigate such claims.

  • Election special: Tories pretend to be HMRC

    There’s only a week to go until the vote for the Untied Kingdom’s general election to end 14 years of Tory misrule will be taking place.

    A wipeout of Conservative members of parliament has been/is being widely predicted, which will give the opposition Labour party what is now being erroneously called a supermajority. For the sake of clarity, a supermajority is a otherwise known as a qualified majority. Older readers may recognise that what is being actually being talked of is in fact a phenomenon known as an elective dictatorship, a thumping great parliamentary majority that makes political opposition little more than tokenistic, a subject tackled by Quintin Hogg in his 1976 Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

    As is usual, this general election has seen its fair share of bad behaviour, which was first documented by the likes of William Hogarth in the mid-18th century.

    Chairing the Member from William Hogarth's 1755 Humours of an Election series. Image courtesy pf Wikimedia Commons.
    Chairing the Member from William Hogarth’s 1755 Humours of an Election series. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    The most egregious bad behaviour so far in the current campaign has been the Conservative election betting scandal, which has so far implicated 15 Tory candidates and officials who are being investigated by the Gambling Commission for using inside knowledge to place bets and gain unfair pecuniary advantage.

    However, more bad behaviour by the Blue Team was uncovered earlier today by Alan Beattie who writes opinion pieces for the Financial Times, namely impersonation, trying to pass themselves off as a different organisation, in this case HMRC.

    Mr Beattie has today posted the following on the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

    Post reads Government: make sure you don't fall for phishing scams from people doing fake HMRC letters. Conservatives: here's election material made to make you think it's an HMRC letter.

    Mr Beattie’s post contains 2 screenshots, the first of which is from the HMRC section of the government’s website, informing visitors what to look out for in genuine content and/or information from the tax authorities.

    Screenshot of HMRC spot the scam web page

    The other screenshot shows a letter to small businesses from the Conservative Party and purporting to come from an organisation calling itself Briefing for Business. Anyone who has been in communication with the tax authorities will immediately notice how the letter mimics the fonts, layout and colours used by HMRC. The giveaway is that all party political materials must bear an imprint indicating who is responsible for publishing the material and for whom they’re promoting it.

    Screenshot of post from Conservatives showing letter to business mimicking fonts, style and colours used by HMRC in correspondence

    Your ‘umble scribe is aware that in the past political parties have passed themselves off as their opponents in election materials in an attempt to discredit them, but this is the first time he can remember a party trying to mimic a government department; if you know differently, please post details in the comments below.

    And finally…

    Don’t forget to vote and never forget that the emphasis on Conservatives is on the first syllable, i.e. con. 😀

  • Microsoft in trouble with EU Commission… again

    EU Commission logoThe European Commission website has today published a press release stating that the Commission has informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has breached EU anti-competition regulations by tying its communication and collaboration product Teams to its popular productivity applications included in its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 business suites.

    Teams logoTeams is a cloud-based communication and collaboration tool. It offers functionalities such as messaging, calling, video meetings and file sharing; it brings together Microsoft’s and third-party workplace tools and other applications.

    In its investigation, the Commission found that Microsoft is dominant worldwide in the market for SaaS productivity applications for professional use. Since at least April 2019, Microsoft has been tying Teams with its core SaaS productivity applications, thereby restricting competition on the market for communication and collaboration products and defending its market position in productivity software and its suites-centric model from competing suppliers of individual software.

    In particular, the Commission is concerned that Microsoft may have granted Teams a distribution advantage by not giving customers the choice of whether or not to acquire access to Teams when they subscribe to MS’ SaaS productivity applications. This advantage may have been further exacerbated by interoperability limitations between Teams’ competitors and Microsoft’s offerings. The conduct may have prevented Teams’ rivals from competing, and in turn innovating, to the detriment of customers in the European Economic Area.

    If confirmed, these practices would infringe Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’), which prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position.

    After the Commission opened proceedings in July 2023, Microsoft introduced changes in the way it distributes Teams, particularly by starting to offer some suites without Teams. The Commission preliminarily finds that these changes are insufficient to address its concerns and that more changes to Microsoft’s conduct are necessary to restore competition.

    Speaking about the Commission’s decision, Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy, said:

    We are concerned that Microsoft may be giving its own communication product Teams an undue advantage over competitors, by tying it to its popular productivity suites for businesses. And preserving competition for remote communication and collaboration tools is essential as it also fosters innovation on these markets. If confirmed, Microsoft’s conduct would be illegal under our competition rules. Microsoft now has the opportunity to reply to our concerns.

    In 2007 the Commission initiated legal proceedings against Microsoft for abuse of its dominant position in the market. The case started as a complaint from Sun Microsystems over Microsoft’s licensing practices in 1993 and eventually resulted in the EU ordering Microsoft to divulge certain information about its server products and release a version of Microsoft Windows without Windows Media Player. The European Commission focused especially on interoperability – characteristic of a product or system to work with other products or systems.

  • LibreOffice Impress 24.2 guide released

    The blog of The Document Foundation reports that a new guide has been released for the Impress presentation component of LibreOffice 24.2, the latest release of this popular free and open source office suite.

    The updated guide itself was co-ordinated by Peter Schofield, with assistance of Olivier Hallot and B. Antonio Fernandez. It is based on the Impress Guide 7.6, the last release under the old version numbering system.

    LibreOffice 24.2 guides for Writer, Calc and Impress

    The guide is available for immediate download in PDF format. It is also available in HTML format for reading online, as well as in source format (OpenDocument Format). The Impress guide will also be available from LuLu Inc as a printed book.

    The Impress guide can be downloaded from the documentation websites at and the bookshelf at

  • Medical reasons or patriotism?

    Ever since the organs of the fourth estate starting getting rid of sub-editors to save costs and boost profits, bad journalism seems to be becoming the norm rather than the exception, as anyone who reads the press with a critical eye will quickly discover.

    The European Football Championships currently taking place in Germany are already proving to be a rich source of inaccuracy (posts passim) and flights of hyperbole with no foundation.

    Today’s Guardian provides a fine example today of the latter, as evidenced by the screenshot below.

    Headline - Mbappé to wear mask for France after breaking nose?

    For France, Grauniad; for the glory of the Republic? The prominence of for France suggests to your correspondent that the main reason for Killian having to wear a mask was patriotism, at least in the mind of the headline writer.

    The BBC reports that the French Football Federation said a mask will be made for their captain, and quotes a spokesperson as saying, “He will undergo treatment in the coming days, without undergoing surgery immediately.” So there is no hint that the mask will be worn for reasons of patriotism, but every suggestion that medical and prophylactic motives are involved.

    Update 21/06/2024: Mbappé now has the above-mentioned mask and it’s not only custom-made but a patriotic one too in the colours of the French tricolour.

  • BBC exclusive: police turn axe into firearm

    As any fool knows, there is a world of difference between edged and bladed weapons such as axes and knives which are used at arm’s length and ranged weapons used at a distance and firing projectiles such as arrows, bullets, shells and the like.

    Today’s BBC news site features a world exclusive: the Hamburg police have been able to convert an axe so it fires bullets, thus coming up with a combined edged/bladed and ranged weapon; or if that is not the case, that’s one interpretation that can be placed on the headline in the following screenshot.

    Headline - Hamburg police shoot man with axe ahead of Euros match

    If by some chance the German police have not pulled off this incredible feat, somewhere in the depths of Broadcasting House, there is likely some hapless person who fell asleep in or was absent from school English lessons or media studies lectures when the subject of ambiguity – i.e. the quality of something having more than one possible meaning – was brought up.

    To save the hapless BBC hack any future embarrassment, your ‘umble scribe suggests that she or he visits Al Jazeera’s piece on the incident to learn how to write an unambiguous headline as per the screenshot below. Note the use of the hyphen, BBC person. 😀

    Headline - German police shoot axe-wielding suspect before Euro 2024 match in Hamburg

    One final thing: the item being carried by the person shot by Hamburg police was not actually an axe, but a slate hammer* (Schieferhammer), a tool used by roofers. This was confirmed by finding a German language media report of the incident, where Schieferhammer figures prominently in the headline. The BBC was not the only British media outlet to misreport the item used by the police’s assailant; the Independent had the man attacking police with a pickaxe.

    * = Also known as a slater’s hammer. The photo below illustrates how it could be mistaken for a pickaxe (the hammer in question can just be seen in screenshot of the Al Jazeera report. Ed.). However, how the BBC managed to construe it as an axe is beyond your ‘umble scribe’s ken.

    Slate/slater's hammer

  • X Man: thin skin meets humour

    The excessively wealthy man-baby commonly known as Elon Musk is a well-known egotist.

    However, Musk, who has recently been awarded a massive and unwarranted boost to his already considerable riches by Tesla shareholders, has another asset that is less well-known, namely an excessively thin skin.

    Whilst Musk is a deeply unpleasant character who will not hesitate to insult others, once famously calling one of the rescuers of a boys football team trapped in a Thai cave “pedo guy as he felt slighted by his the person he insulted, Musk can’t handle the mildest of mocking, as the following exchange on Twitter/X shows.

    Elon Musk tweets Legalize humor! The response from Liam Nissan reaads Says the guy who banned me for calling him Sissy SpaceX.
    Think before you tweet…

    It is often said that with the wealthy the most sensitive part of their anatomy is the bank balance. Be that as it may, the above exchange proves this is not necessarily a default position for all plutocrats. In the case of Musk the ego is clearly his most delicate organ.

  • Monoglot Saxons screw up badly west of Offa’s Dyke

    Election time is the time for political gaffes by all involved in politics, a profession which has in the past been described as show business for ugly people.

    There’s been alleged prime minister Rishi Sunak accused of being a D-Day dodger by slipping away early from the 80th anniversary commemorations of Operation Overlord to do an interview with ITV. Liberal Democrat supremo Ed Davey has been filmed and photographed variously falling off objects or into water in miscellaneous stunts masquerading as political campaigning, whilst over in the Labour camp, all of its control freakery could not stop Keir Starmer being heckled at the party’s manifesto launch.

    Minor parties like the Greens or regional parties like the Scottish Nation Party and Plaid Cymru or in the occupied six counties of Ireland have struggled to get coverage in the mainstream British media, which has concentrated almost 100% of its coverage on the residents of the Westminster bubble, seemingly believing that what has been billed as a British general election is a strictly English matter.

    However, the regional press is providing its own election coverage beyond the constricting noose of the M25 London orbital car park, particularly when it comes the English political class screwing up badly in the devolved regions as Nation Cymru reports on a glaring linguistic cock-up by the Nigel Farage Fascist Fan Club Ltd., which masquerades as a political party called Reform UK.

    Farage’s fanbois and girls have been accused of a cavalier attitude towards the Welsh language after a party political broadcast used mistranslated copy in a political broadcast shown on Welsh television stations, as per the screenshot below.

    Screenshot from BBC iPlayer showing mistranslated text

    Nation Cymru helpfully states how Reform had mangled its simplistic message – Britain is broken. Britain needs Reform – in Cymraeg:

    Whilst the words ‘Prydain’ and ‘angen’ individually translate to word for word copies of ‘Britain’ and ‘need’, when used together it in fact should have been “Mae angen Reform ar Brydain”.

    The article points out that Google Translate – a tool not noted for the accuracy of a its output – managed a better translation than Reform UK did. One unnamed person quoted by Nation Cymru summarised the problem as follows:

    “This does not look particularly respectful of the Welsh people and their language. It also shows a cavalier attitude towards accuracy.”

    However, Reform’s – and Farage’s – cavalier attitude does not stop at the Welsh language. It has a wide embrace, encompassing those annoyingly important little things known to ordinary people as facts.

  • LibreOffice 24.2.4 now released

    Last week the blog of The Document Foundation (TDF) announced the release of LibreOffice 24.2.4, the latest point release of the office suite since its switch to the new version numbering system.

    LibreOffice logo

    The updated release is available for immediate download for all major operating systems, GNU/Linux, MacOS and Windows. It includes over 70 bug and regression fixes compared with LibreOffice 24.2.3 to improve the software’s stability.

    LibreOffice is the only office suite with a feature set comparable to – if not better* than – the ubiquitous and overpriced Microsoft Office suite.. It also offers a range of interface options to suit all user habits, from traditional to modern, and makes the most of different screen form factors by optimising the space available on the desktop to put the maximum number of features just a click or two away.

    See the LibreOffice wiki for the bug fixes implemented in RC1 and RC2.

    Finally, those who wish to support the work of The Document Foundation are invited to make a donation.

    * = Like direct export in the epub e-book file format, for example.

  • Vos passeports, s.v.p. !

    An irony of our times came to light at the 80th anniversary D-Day celebrations as yet another dubious Brexit bonus emerged, further illustrating the Untied Kingdom’s third country EU status, as well as depicting a bureaucratic obstacle not faced by those arriving in Normandy on 6th June 1944.

    The screenshot below of a post on X/Twitter by the Brexitshambles account needs no further comment, apart from to add that the parachutists not only had to show their passports, but get them stamped too, so that officials can check in future whether they’ve overstayed their maximum term of 90 days in a European Union member state. 😀

    Post reads - So you thought we'd reached Peak Brexit? Watch British Paratroopers who after being dropped into Sannerville, France, to commemorate D-Day, had to show their passports to the French Douane... @Nigel Farage must be so proud

    Update: 07/06/2024: Today’s Guardian has reported on the above incident, noting that ‘while immigration checks for British troops on exercise abroad are routine, doing so at a public commemoration is deemed exceptional‘.