Lawrence Jones proved it: in business, awards are for losers.

Ceramic bee, my garden, December 2023

(Author’s note: this post was the amuse bouche. The main course post is here).

For the past week I’ve been awash in emotions, some of them quite dark and heavy. I’ve also been afloat on two small bottles of prosecco. The reason for both of those mood swings is the same.

The cause has been the conviction and imprisonment of Lawrence Jones, the former CEO of Manchester web hosting company UKFast, on two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault. Strangeways, here you come. For fifteen years.

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Online Safety enforcement consultation, round one, yay

UK policy
Photo of a barbed wire fence © Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons

If yesterday’s blog post about the Investigatory Powers Amendment Act didn’t cause you to lose the will to live, today you also have 1700+ pages of draft Ofcom guidance to read and respond to, as their round one of Online Safety Act enforcement.

That is what I shall be wonking this week for a client, as much as I’d love to wonk the other thing.

As you read through both and prepare your responses and strategies, as you should be doing, please remember that neither of these legislative processes are about “big tech” “social media” “tech giants”, and anyone who tells you so is full of shite: these processes impact any service of any size in any country which can be accessed in the UK, regardless of innocence or guilt.

Our policymakers assume the latter.

By the way: as you’re doing exactly what I am doing today, which is figuring out how on earth you even create a workplan to turn 1700 pages of cross-referenced consultation language into an actionable task, remember that the impact assessment for the Act famously said that getting to grips with the scope of compliance could be done in just over four hours by a regulatory professional on a wage of £20.62 per hour.


Are we doing this again? Yes, we’re doing this again.

UK policy

Yesterday I was rudely summoned away from a beautiful autumn day of wild foraging by The King.

Specifically, I was given a heads-up about one of the bills which would be in yesterday’s King’s Speech – the first of the King’s reign, and the first and only one of Rishi Sunak’s time in office.

The bill in question is the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill, the outcome of a consultation held over the summer, which I obviously missed being out of work. (Neil Brown did not miss one word from his tech lawyer perspective, and TechUK were equally diligent from the service provider perspective.) There was also an independent review which requires prior knowledge of the IPA.

The problem is that aside from the rather legalistic topics dealt with in the summer consultation and independent review, some of which do indeed have merit, the politicians have stepped in.

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The call was coming from inside the house

UK policy
a heart-shaped leaf on a gravel path

Normally I wouldn’t waste my time reacting to churnalism – the adage about getting into a fight with a pig comes to mind – but the other day I saw an example of the genre which not only hit rock bottom, but then proceeded to dig. It related to UK internet regulation, which until last year was my line of work. And it’s Scottish, so I have to step up.

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The things I learned under the bluest sky


I cannot start the story where I want to start it, because I have to start it where everyone else who was there starts it. It’s how we calibrate our positions, time-stamped and geo-coordinated to the precise moments and exact locations where each of us was standing when we looked up to see it.

The story of that day always starts with the colour of the sky. It was blue.

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Back to work


And just like that, I went back to work. You couldn’t make it up: after 51 weeks of unemployment and job searching, I got multiple freelance contracts in a single week.


And I am very much back at it: Read More

That’s no moonshot.

UK policy

Friday funnies abounded this morning, as a tech lobbying organisation published a blog post that is probably going to get somebody fired:

One line in their piece jumped out at me and a lot of people too:

“If we can put a man on the moon, we can prove your age online without putting your privacy or personal data at risk.”

Now, leaving aside the dubious reasoning behind comparing tech regulation in 2023 to the American moonshot campaign of 1963-1969,

There’s something important to be said about that sentence – something that has very apt parallels for our own issues today, including the internet regulation debate it tried to reference.

There’s even a lesson to teach. A positive one.

And guess what, I’m going to teach it, because, as I have mentioned here a few times before, I am a space geek. Always have been. Always will be.

So if you waft space geekery in my general direction, hoo boy, I am activated. This is my happy place. Strap in, folks, I’m coming in hot.

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Is it me you’re looking for?

Street art, Northern Quarter, Manchester, autumn 2022

I have had quite a few requests from folks, and followers, who want me to join this or that social media app so that they can keep in touch with me, as the birdsite degrades further by the day.

I’m starting to feel like a broken record on my answer to their questions, so for anyone looking for me:

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Thank you Ray

A bit of spaceship

Today there was some policy-related manufactured drama around the question of whether reading some sci-fi, at a tender age, can influence a child’s future career.

That question doesn’t even need an answer – of course it can.

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How it started


When I was a university student in the 90s, I bought a housekeeping manual which I still have, and still use. It’s one of those books that tells you the right way to do laundry, how to set a table, how to mend your clothes, how not to accidentally kill yourself with fire, and that sort of thing. The book is very 1990s, very American, and very middle class – let’s face it, I have never needed to know the proper way to clean a chandelier – but that somehow adds to its charm. (Do buy a copy if you’d like to experience it.)

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