Letter from my MP regarding Dominic Cummings

I wrote to my MP, Julia Lopez (CON), asking for her view on whether Dominic Cummings had broken the law or not and if he should be removed from his position. Here is her response:

Thank you for your email about the Prime Minister’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, and his movements during the lockdown period. I apologise for taking a few days to get back to you, however I am in the last weeks of my maternity leave and am working through a number of tasks in preparation for my return.

I have read through all the emails sent to me about Mr Cummings and completely understand the anger some correspondents feel. It has been a very testing time for so many of us as we have strived to adhere to new restrictions that have separated us from loved ones, led us to make very difficult decisions about our living and working arrangements or seen us miss important family occasions – both happy and sad. Those sacrifices have often been painful but were made in good faith in order to protect ourselves, our families and the most vulnerable in the broader community.

Given the strength of feeling among constituents, I wrote to the Prime Minister this week to advise him of the number of emails I had received and the sentiments expressed within them, highlighting in particular the concern over public health messaging. Mr Cummings has sought to explain his actions in a press conference in Downing Street and has taken questions from journalists. While his explanation has satisfied some constituents, I know others believe it was inadequate and feel that this episode requires an independent inquiry. I have made that request to the Prime Minister on behalf of that group of constituents.

Mr Cummings asserts that he acted within lockdown rules which permitted travel in exceptional circumstances to find the right kind of childcare. In the time period in question, he advises that he was dealing with a sick wife, a child who required hospitalisation, a boss who was gravely ill, security concerns at his home, and the management of a deeply challenging public health crisis. It has been asserted that Mr Cummings believes he is subject to a different set of rules to everyone else, but he explained in this period that he did not seek privileged access to covid testing and did not go to the funeral of a very close family member.

I am not going to be among those MPs calling for Mr Cummings’ head to roll. Ultimately it is for the Prime Minister to decide whether he wishes Mr Cummings to remain in post – and to be accountable for and accept the consequences of the decision he makes – and for the relevant authorities to determine whether he has broken the law. Whatever one thinks of this episode, I think the hounding of Mr Cummings’ family has been disturbing to watch and I hope that in future the press can find a way of seeking truth without so aggressively intruding into the lives of those who have done nothing to justify their attention.

Thank you again for taking the trouble to share with me your concerns. I regret that we cannot address everyone individually but the team continues to receive a high number of complex cases involving those navigating healthcare, financial and other challenges and these constituents are being prioritised. I shall send you any response I receive from the Prime Minister.

Best wishes


My affiliate links

It occurred to me that collecting all these in one place might mean I remember to tell people about them and therefore they might get used!

I’ve been a customer of Zen Internet for a very long time.   They’re an award winning ISP and have the best customer support I’ve ever experienced, not that I’ve need to use it very often.  Using my link gets us both some free stuff.

My energy supplier is Octopus who seem to be rather more ethical than most and are trying to be a credible alternative to the “Big 6” companies. My referral link is here, we both get £50 if you sign up.

Huel is a meal replacement product.  If you’re like me and can only rarely be bothered cooking for one then Huel gives you a quick, easy, nutritionally complete drink to chug down with very little time and effort involved.  I like the vanilla flavour and some of the flavour packs are nice.  Using my link gets you and me £10 off an order.

Top Cashback is one the UK’s most popular cashback sites.  I’ve probably got several hundred pounds from it over the years.  It requires some discipline to use and may require you to use less draconian ad and cookie blocking software.  Using my link gets us both £7.50.

Unethical email marketing from ComShop / digitcom.co.uk

Just a few minutes ago I received an unsolicited commercial email from ComShop / DigitCom. It was a multipart text/html email and I have reposted the HTML part verbatim here.

I don’t recall ever having bought anything from these guys, but I buy a lot of stuff online, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt and clicked on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page.  That’s when I started to get a little suspicious, the URL I was being sent to contained no information that could identify me to the site.  The unsubscribe link points here and, just on the offchance it disappears, I’ve also put it here (the image does not display).  Look at the source, it’s just static HTML.

In other words, their unsubscribe link does nothing at all, whilst claiming you have been unsubscribed.  That’s breathtakingly deceitful.

Enjoy the publicity guys.

Happy birthday antibodyMX

According to my notes, antibodyMX is 5 years old today.  The official domain didn’t get registered for a month or so after the fact, mainly because we started with a different name.  But we’ve been up and running and filtering mail for 5 whole years.  In that entire time we’ve had not one single customer-affecting outage.  Yay us!

Thanks to all our customers for their support over the years, especially the early adopters who took a chance on a startup project literally hosted in my spare room.

Thanks also to our suppliers.  Our reputation for stability and availability is based on the good relationship we have with you and the services you provide.

It’s difficult to say how Internet email will evolve over the next 5 years, but we’ll be doing the best we can to keep your inbox free of crud.  If you are, or know of, a company that is struggling with spam, please give antibodyMX a try.  Either we’ll significantly reduce the amount of junk you get or you don’t pay us a penny.



Update: An open letter to Ubisoft

I signed up to the Ubisoft forums in order to publicise my open letter to Ubisoft criticising their current approach to combating piracy. i.e. making single player games require an Internet connection in order to work. I went to see if I had any replies to my post and:

-- Account Suspended: Your account has been suspended for the  following reason:
Posting indirect linking to piratebay is against  the terms of use and the violation is a banable offence.

Their site, their rules of course.  However I find it comical that they’ve further alienated a paying customer.  I think I’ll assist Ubisoft in supressing such unwanted comment by simply never purchasing any of their future titles.

Grand Theft Auto 4, Steam and vapourising graphics cards and dodgy drivers

I was very pleased when GTA IV finally made it out for the PC. I’m a long time
fan of this series of games and, ever since announced, has been on my Buy On
Sight list of games. A few weeks I was in my local Tesco and noticed it on the
shelf and was just about to pick it up when I remembered it would be out on

I mostly like Steam, but see previous blog posts for a rant or two.

The price in Tesco was good, but I was sure Steam would be cheaper so I waited.
In vain as it turns out. Buying a physical dual-DVD box set with colour
manuals and nice big fold-out map turned out to be cheaper than
downloading the game on Steam. How can that make any sense? I digress.

GTA IV’s world is astonishing. Unless you’ve played previous games, and to
some extent even if you’ve played previous GTA games, you will have no concept
of just how vast and richly detailed it is. Want to go for drive? Just *ahem*
borrow a nearby car and take it for a spin. Turn left, turn right, accelerate
away and watch as the city lives and breathes around you and reacts to your
actions in it.

Bored of driving a car? Perhaps you’d prefer a van, or a bus, or petrol tanker
instead? They’re all there. As are a couple of helicopters. Oh yes. Climb
into the cockpit of one of these, spin up the rotors and soar up into the air
and take in the vastness of the city below. Want to go buzz some peds? No
problem, just try not to dent the rotor blades on the street lights and power
lines, that rarely ends well for you, or for people nearby.

Park a petrol tanker across a busy intersection, take a nearby window cleaner’s
lift up to the roof of a nearby building and watch as the traffic backs up.
Notice a few small crashes as cars attempt to get pass the blockage, doors
open, people get out, fists are waved and insults yelled. Grab your handy RPG
and send a rocket into the middle of the intersection. Watch as the explosion
causes cars to spin through the air, fires break out causing more cars to
explode, pedestrians get caught in the inferno and run around of fire
screaming. Police sirens start wailing and the screen gets covered in tiny red dots…

Tiny red dots? Huh?

A few reboots and many driver reinstalls and version changes later and I
conclude that my graphics card has decided to give up on me. Specifically it
appears that some of the on-board memory has gone bad. Luckily it’s a BFG card
which comes with an insane warranty so I gave them a call and they had no issue
with replacing the card, but regretted that I wasn’t likely to see the
replacement for about 10 days. A bit of a pest for me, I do need my PC.

I gave Toby at Wired2Fire a call
(readers of my blog may recall this is where I got my games rig from) who very
kindly agreed to part-ex my would-be warranty replacement card against an new
one from stock that he could ship same day. I ended up with a BFG GTX 280 OC,
it’s a lovely lovely thing and knocks one thing off my “would like to buy”
list, an Ageia Physx card; this thing comes with the Physx chipset on-board.
Installing the card was no problem though I did have to use an extra 12v rail
from the PSU and it needs 1 x 8 and 1 x 6 MOLEX connectors. I used two 6 ways
and a (supplied) converter to populate the 8 way. (Add to shopping list: 1000W
modular PSU). I installed the driver, spun up GTA IV again, and…. BSOD! Ghm.

Many driver re-installs, driver upgrades, downgrades, hacks and fiddling with
BIOS settings I was still getting the same problem. Google was utterly
resplendent with advice and suggestions from lots of other people who’ve had
exactly the same problem with many GeForce series card all the way back to the
7s. I finally cracked this by installing the current beta driver for this card
and managed to put in a good 4 hour session with no complaints at all.

London Perl Workshop 2008 – 29th November

Thanks to Mark Keating of Shadowcat Systems for daring, and succeeding brilliantly, in organising this year’s London Perl Workshop. Attended and supported by many of the usual suspects, it was also great to see a whole bunch of people there who’d not only not been to an LPW before, they’d not been to any Perl workshop before. I’m especially envious of the first-timer who won the Canon 1000D in the raffle.

A new job, a new OS and new chairs, and a trip to the zoo

I have a new job, starting on August 11th, working for a quite well known e-commerce solution provider as a Senior Systems Administrator. After spending 7 months mostly dealing with Windows problems and problems with a certain piece of almost-unheard-of commercial software, it’s going to be a challenge to get back into working at a UNIX hosted Perl shop. I’m looking forward to it.

On the subject of Windows, I finally decided to give my games machine a new operating system: Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit edition. I’ve read all the negative reviews, all the reasons to stick with XP and, in all fairness, I find the criticisms wanting. It’s fast, pretty and runs Crysis at a very acceptable frame rate. Also I’m fan of ReadyBoost. Vista 64 seems happy with all my 32 bit games and utilities, games being my main reservation. This is my gaming PC after all.

We bought some chairs, having finally found some that matched our table. Visitors no longer have to be stunned by the sheer variety of pick and mix chairs we have, they now all look the same.

Kamel, Sonia and their 3 year-old daughter,our niece, Matilde, came to visit. The theme for the trip was definitely “Let’s go look at some animals”. We had a trip to Bedfords Park to insert carrots into deers, a trip to Old MacDonald’s Farm to feed all the usual farmyard suspects and, finally, a trip to Whipsnade Zoo, easily the best zoo within a convenient drive of London.