Some musings on IT (I.T. not ‘it’)

Over this weekend most British Airway’s flights were cancelled because of an IT problem. A couple of weeks ago part of the NHS was paralysed because of ransomware infecting their IT systems. It all goes to show how reliant we have become on something that wasn’t even a subject when I was at school. You probably have more computing power in your mobile phone than the Apollo astronauts had when then journeyed to the moon (and back).

We recently had scan-as-you-shop scanners installed in our local supermarket. After some initial reluctance to use them I was shown what to do by my six year old granddaughter. I have become converted. However while the waiter at our Indian Take-Away (sadly closed due to it being under new management) would welcome me with a handshake and “Hello Mr Addison” when I go to the supermarket I grasp the hand-held scanner and the screen lights up with “Hello Tim”. I never said it could use my first name, but hey ho such is progress.

With the NHS problem some people hankered after the days of written records forgetting how vulnerable (and illegible) they were. All my medical records were destroyed in a fire and so my early medical history had to be reconstructed from memory and other sources. And of course it was only available to one person at a time. With electronic records there should regular back up copies made in case of a disaster and they can be accessed by more than one person at once.

As I type this I get words underlined in red if I have spelt them wrong and a double underline in blue if MSWord doesn’t like my grammar or syntax. While the red underline is helpful (even though it does make me lazy – type an approximation of the word I want and it will be corrected – hopefully to the right word) I do find the blue underline irritating. I don’t want everything I write to conform to the MSWord style manual.

But I digress. I was going to talk about parking. I have never liked Pay and Display carparks because you have to decide how long you are going to be before you get your ticket. Woe betide you if you should linger beyond the allotted time and it should be the day that the parking warden is on the prowl. A 30pence one hour use of the car park rapidly becomes a £40.30p one hour and ten minutes use of the car park. So I was pleased when our local council installed an Automatic Number Plate Recognition System (ANPR for short). This meant that you didn’t pay until you were ready to leave. You entered your registration number and it showed you a picture of your car arriving and worked out how long you had been and how much to pay. Usually it got it right.

However recently when I used this car park I went to pay when I was ready to leave and found that it had reverted to Pay and Display. Fortunately the Parking Warden was not on the prowl that day. I raised this with my local councillor and was told “Unfortunately the ANPR Parking scheme had to revert to “Pay & Display” as the Government brought in legislation which prevented DVLC from releasing number plate information to Local Authorities regarding parking enforcement in their car parks. Thus, the Council have been unable to levy fines for those people failing to pay to park, leading to considerable financial loss to the Council. Despite concerted efforts to persuade Government to redraft this insane legislation the Council was left with no alternative but to revert to “pay & display”. It really is a sorry tale and a salutary lesson in that the best intentions can all too easily be scuppered by changing National policy!”

The ANPR machines were converted to Pay and Display ones but sadly they now have ability to print the vehicle registration number (which you have entered) on your ticket.  So the tradition (if you had paid for an hour but only been in the car park a few minutes) of handing your parking ticket to another car as you leave and they arrive has been killed off. It was a nice friendly gesture between drivers even if it was frowned upon by the Council (and probably prohibited by the very very small print on the back of a notice somewhere).

Such is lack of progress.


2 thoughts on “Some musings on IT (I.T. not ‘it’)

  1. Another super blog Tim. We had access to the Police National Computer (PNC) at Westminster but there several hoops to go through for that privilege. It was meant to stop us getting names and addresses of any young, attractive drivers we may meet whilst out of the office……


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