?

Log in

No account? Create an account
lost - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2007-12-17 21:48
Subject: lost
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:aggravatedaggravated
Music:porcupine tree
It's not the fact that a hard drive carrying the names, addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases eddresses, of three million applicants for the UK driving theory test has been lost.
It's not the fact that it was lost in Iowa, which of course has such a strong interest in the UK driving theory test.
No. What's bothering me is something that occurred to me on the way home tonight. As far as the public and the media seem to be concerned, this apparent plague of butterfingerness began a couple of months ago when the Customs & Excise CDs went missing in the post. Now, what are the odds that that was the first time it had ever happened? It's like seeing a car crash, and the next day seeing another, and thinking to yourself, "Wow, cars are crashing all of a sudden!"
I have a suspicion - and it can only ever be a suspicion - that a lot more data has been lost. And I don't just mean NHS records being found on rubbish tips.
Post A Comment | 23 Comments | Share | Link






hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-17 23:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can kind of understand the logic of outsourcing in the private sector. If you're a bank and it costs less to site your call-centre in Goa than in Seattle or London, then I guess it only makes financial sense, however much we might not like it. But to do the same with government data? The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is an executive agency of the Department of Transport and is directly accountable to the Secretary of State for Transport - it's effectively a part of the government. I'll grant you, the data on the Iowa discs is nothing you couldn't find in the phone book - apart from all the ex-directory phone numbers and the eddresses - but it's government data and should have been handled in-house. Dear god, what else have we given to subcontractors around the world?

It's interesting that you have a law governing notification of people who've been affected by something like this. As you'll see in the news stories I cited, we do not have a similar law. It seems to be up to the judgement of the relevant Secretary of State whether notification is necessary, and on this occasion Ruth Kelly has decided it's not. Not that she needs to; anyone who's applied for a driving theory test over whatever period it is now knows all about it.

I think the biggest difference now is the sheer scale. I remember - not all that long ago now - the occasional scandal of police files or NHS patient documents being found in skips or on landfill sites. We're talking paper files, so we can't be talking about more than a couple of hundred or so in any one incident. The Customs & Excise discs contained the government's entire child benefit database - 25 million people. Twenty-five million files. And we still don't know where they are.

I have a certain amount of animus towards New Labour and the Blair and Brown administrations, as you might have gathered, but it strikes me that this is really not their fault. It seems to me that this kind of thing has somehow become institutionalised over a period of years - certainly reaching back at least into the dying days of the last Tory government. I seem to recall, years and years ago, seeing something on the news about the wonders of the modern world, how modern communications (teh Intahwebs) and transport would one day make it possible for you to live in Paris, work in London, do your banking by phoning Mumbai. Well, all that came to pass. And nobody ever predicted that people would simply go on losing things, the way they have ever since they had things to lose.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 21:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think I may understand what's going on here. Although the Driving Standards Agency sets the questions for the test, the whole testing process - and I'm presuming this refers to the theory test - is administered by a company called Pearson (which also owns Penguin Books) at a couple of hundred regional test centres around the country. Presumably they bid for the contract to run the test, and won.
Pearson's worldwide data centre is in Iowa City, so I suppose that gives them a pass for having the test data there.

But here's what I don't understand. The external hard drive on which the data was being stored had been sent to Bloomington, Minnesota, to be backed up. It was then returned to Iowa City, and at some point on the return journey it disappeared.
Now, I know that some of you have worked, or are still working, with computers in a professional capacity, and I would be grateful if someone could explain to me in what possible circumstances it would be necessary to physically transport an external hard drive 293 miles (I looked it up on Google Maps) and back - almost a ten-hour round trip by road - just to back it up? KThxs.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 21:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Interesting. I didn't know all that. Obviously. Thanks.
I'm not so sure about the owning site not having sufficient backup facilities. It's being presented in the media as Pearson's worldwide data centre; if they're so short of backup facilities that they have to schlep their discs out of state to do it, it makes their operation seem a bit of a pussy.
And if they do have adequate facilities, why not do the backup onsite and then send the copy to Bloomington if they're contractually obliged to keep it somewhere else?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 22:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah! No! How utterly fiendish and totally brilliant. They outsourced the backup. That explains everything. You know, that would never have occurred to me in a month of Sundays. Now the whole fiasco makes perfect sense. Thank you.
And kthxs for the smiley.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-12-18 23:02 (UTC)
Subject: I cannot see
how, after you've dealt with the contractual issues, the payroll issues, and the "getting them on board with what needs doing" issues, it is cheaper to outsource everything the way that companies do. Unless of course the work that needs doing is heavily commoditised so can be sold to the lowest bidder in a way which bids the price down.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 23:31 (UTC)
Subject: Re: I cannot see
Mind you, when you were working in IT you never had to deal with people covered with Liquid Skin. Did you...?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-12-18 00:55 (UTC)
Subject: dare I suggest ...
This is yet another example of the slow, intricate, infinitely surprising destruction of the Old World Order, just as Baha'i prophecy has described for the last century and a half. Every institution is deconstructing. As we keep putting Band-Aids on them through politics and science while excluding the spirit from the consultation we will simply see more of it.

Why folks are surprised by the new and innovative ways the world is reinventing itself is unnecessary. Go ahead and ignore what the Baha'is have to say about the problems and the solutions, but they just might be worth investigating. In case you're wondering, it will take more than a cursory glance at a website or a single chat with a Baha'i that you meet by chance or on purpose.

"The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody."

Just being uppity, not intended to offend...

much.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-12-18 11:10 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
Interesting form of spam you are attracting.

Anyway, on the topic, I broadly agree with QuietSelkie. However I suggest the issue is managerialism per se, in which managers imagine everything running smoothly and themselves sitting at the top of a pyramid directing it all below. Whereas in real life things go wrong and redundancy has to be built in. This is not just a gvt problem, it also affects large corporations.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-12-18 19:05 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
Not spam. A real person who is a real friend of Hutch's. My apologies for not being a materialist or a professional writer.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 20:53 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
Hm. Okay, this is my fault; I should have sorted this out when I checked my messages earlier but I was run off my feet and I thought it would keep until I got home. My bad.
calcinations, meet the (still sadly-LJless) OJM, who is absolutely a real person, an old friend from when I had more hair and it wasn't mostly grey, and one of the Founding Fathers around here. Founding Mothers, I should say.
(Still sadly-LJless) OJM, meet calcinations, an alchemist who is most welcome here and who made an honest mistake considering you came in as `anonymous' as usual and forgot to sign your post. Unlike the rest of us, he hasn't been round here long and he didn't recognise your stuff.

Now shake hands and be friends.

And, Jean? Get an LJ. Call it a birthday present...
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-12-18 23:04 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
Oh, well ok then, sort of pleased to meet you. But I'm not an alchemist I'm afraid. Nor a professional writer. Probably not a materialist either.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-12-18 23:09 (UTC)
Subject: Re: although
I suppose you could call me a materialist. But I'm afraid philosophy confuses me.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 23:34 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
I dunno, a few hundred years ago the stuff you do might have been described as alchemy.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 21:30 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
I agree about the managerialism. That's been a curse of big business since the Year Dot. I can't work it out; I spend most of my waking hours thinking about what could go wrong with pretty much everything. You'd think someone, somwhere, would have thought, just fleetingly, "Hey, what if some of the data goes missing in transit?"
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-12-18 23:07 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
well, speaking as someone who works in a company that actually makes stuff (I know, you thought it had been rendered illegal and outsourced to China), one of our aims with getting in equipment is to make sure it is as robust as possible. So you do have to think about breakdowns and suchlike for a day or two when planning, then you can set up a maintenance program, monitor things, then just leave it to carry on.

With regards to managerialism, i was thinking more like this:
http://yorkshire-ranter.blogspot.com/2007/04/maglev-is-dead.html

Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 23:37 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
And I don't think that happens all that often these days. I think companies just assume that someone down the line is thinking about that stuff, while the people down the line assume that the people up the line have taken it into consideration and got someone else to think about it. And so it goes.
Incidentally, thanks for the link to the Ranter. I haven't read him in ages. I always enjoy his posts.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 21:21 (UTC)
Subject: Re: dare I suggest ...
*rolls up sleeves, rubs hands together* You know I hold Baha'i in the greatest respect, but this time it isn't about the collapse of the Old World Order. This is just a cockup, as a consequence, I suspect, of some blind cost-cutting on our government's part by outsourcing the administration of the driving theory test. I know, I know, everything's connected. But really, this is just human error. At worst it's some berk stealing the drive, probably without knowing what's on it.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



browse
the villages
the links
December 2013
the promo