Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Coffee shop goes avant-garde in a silent fashion

pretty interesting when an international chain - does something like this.

New Delhi: In a unique bid, a Costa Coffee outlet in South Delhi has employed ten people who can not hear or speak. A few months ago the café chain decided to employ them on an experimental basis. Today, this silent experiment has taken off on a high note.

President & CEO, Costa Coffee, Virag Joshi says, “They are a part of the society and there’s nothing wrong in them. What we can do, maybe they can do it better”.

After being trained for forty-five days, these youngsters were eased into the daily operations of the café. They now manage the show, much on their own and with a little help from their supervisors.

But are they scared of not being able to communicate with customers?

An employee at the outlet, Arti, explains through sign language, “No, not at all. We ask customers to point to items on the menu card or we ask them to write it down."

“They are very nice. They take care of guests,” says a customer of the coffee shop. Another says, “Of course they won’t get jobs easily. They are getting jobs here so that’s good for them”.

Sometimes its good to be in IT! :)

Little would this poor junior officer have thought that the good deed he was doing by sending a DVD with information to the auditors is going to have an impact on the government, the entire country and 25Million people! WOW!

I do feel very sorry for this poor soul. Imagine the pressure. The police, intelligence sources and every possible force in england is looking for 2 discs that contain the personal, bank and social security details of 25 million people. WOW! this is the biggest loss that has happened in England, and speaking from the point of security - its any hackers / identity thief's ideal goal. 2 CDs - 25Million details. WOW!

Thast the way - that working in IT can have significant impact on small actions. Even something as small as burning 2 CDs. I must wish everyone luck here!

Brown apologises for records loss
Gordon Brown
Mr Brown said the government was working to prevent fraud
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he "profoundly regrets" the loss of 25 million child benefit records.

He told MPs he apologised for the "inconvenience" caused and said the government was working to prevent the data being used for fraud.

But Conservative leader David Cameron said the government had "failed in its first duty to protect the public".

The child benefit data on the missing discs includes names, ages, bank and address details.


During a heated prime minister's questions session, Mr Brown said: "I profoundly regret and apologise for the inconvenience and worries that have been caused to millions of families who receive child benefits.

"When mistakes happen in enforcing procedures, we have a duty to do everything we can to protect the public."

But Mr Cameron said: "They will be angry that the government has failed in its first duty to protect the public."

He added: "What people want from their prime minister on a day like this is to show some broad shoulders, be the big man and accept some responsibility."

Earlier, the Tories questioned whether Alistair Darling was "up to the job" of chancellor.

Mr Darling said he "deeply regretted" what had happened, but stressed there was no evidence of misuse of the data.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Darling said his confidence had been "shaken" by what he described as a "catastrophic" incident.

''There's no doubt in my mind there have been very, very serious breaches here.

"People are entitled to trust the government to look after information that is given to it - for child benefit or any other purposes - and that did not happen here," said the chancellor.

He said the information, which was on two CDs, should "should never, ever have left the building in which it was stored".

Mr Darling denied the problem was related to the merger of the Revenue and Customs departments and staff cuts, as claimed by staff members in e-mails to the BBC.


He also hit back at claims his own position as chancellor was in doubt amid continuing difficulties with Northern Rock, which has seen its share price plunge a further 15%.

"I am not going to start running away from things when things get difficult," he told Today.

Referring to the data loss crisis, he said: "It is difficult, unwelcome in every respect, but I am determined to see it through".

Earlier, Mr Darling said banks were monitoring all 7.25 million bank accounts whose details were on the discs, which contained the personal details of all child benefit recipients in the UK.

People are being urged by both the chancellor and banks to keep a close eye on their accounts "for unusual activity".

Mr Darling said that anyone who lost money as a result of any misuse of the data would be covered for losses under the banking code.

On Tuesday the chancellor told MPs how the entire child benefit database was sent by a junior official from HMRC in Washington, Tyne and Wear, to the audit office in London through courier TNT on 18 October.

The chancellor said the official had broken the rules by downloading the data to disc and sending it by unrecorded delivery.

But he reassured those affected that police had no reason to believe the discs had found their way into the wrong hands, nor did they have any evidence of it being used for "fraudulent purposes or criminal activity."

Buck questions

Bosses at the Revenue were not told about what had happened until 8 November and Mr Darling and Prime Minister Gordon Brown learned about the situation on 10 November.

The chancellor said he had delayed an emergency statement to the Commons because banks and building societies had asked for time to prepare and make sure security procedures were in place.

The officials involved waited before informing their superiors in the hope that the discs would be found.

The Metropolitan Police is leading the search, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which oversees the HMRC, is investigating the security breach.

A TNT spokesman said that because the discs had not been sent as recorded it was not possible to verify if they had ever been posted. He added that the company would not be responsible for any losses incurred.

Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Vince Cable asked: "Where does the buck stop in this government?"


Monday, November 19, 2007

After school - keeps crime down?

A recent news article about the after-school program that teaches school kids football, and now gives them a change in their lifestyles - is quite touching, given the circumstances in todays news.

There are many after-school programs - that essentially work to keep the kids busy - and give them something to look forward to - either to learn music, or to study. Giving them a medium to express themselves- artistically or otherwise, does in turn reduce crime rates. Essentially since kids are off the streets.

Chennai: A group of young footballers from the slums of Chennai are gearing up to play football with the Manchester United team. The children from the slums of Vyasarpadi in Chennai- an area known for its extreme poverty and high crime rates - now have a chance to meet their football idols from the Manchester United team and train under them. The training schedule has been made possible due to the efforts of a local football enthusiast and the NGO CRY. A chance to meet their idols has the youngsters excited. When asked about his idol Dhileepan, one of the youngsters, says, "Ronaldo." Another youngster A Raj says Cristiano Ronaldo is his idol. The young players are practicing for the finals of the Manchester United League selections to be held from November 24-27. If selected, four of them will fly to Manchester to get trained by their heroes. And they owe this to Umapathi, an Income Tax department employee, who was also born in the slums. He is teaching the young protégés the power of dreams through football. After training them for free for the last 10 years he says he can see the difference. "The crime rate has gone down in Vyasarpadi. These kids now realise they have a chance to make it big. So they don't go loitering around and stealing. They play football instead," Umapathi, the football coach, says

And this is what a little hope can do to a human being. "We're all going to school now because in London they speak only English. So to be able to communicate, we need to know the language," one of the youngster Ramkumar, says. "We used to loiter around earlier chewing tobacco and playing with marbles. Now we come to train. We have hope now," Hridayaraj adds. And even all of them can't make it to Manchester the journey so far has surely been dream-like.

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