Rive Gauche: UKippers are really changing the electoral map…true story! (?)

I often marvel… but I marvel most when the strange world of Kippers is examined…

And here is  another marvel….

And another…and why not?

And..one more..

Ukip candidate: ‘Gay donkey tried to rape my horse’

Story here

Happy Kippermas… OK…OK…I’ll get my coat..again…

 

Just one more...

Nigel Farage condemns schoolchildren for making ‘risible’ anti-Ukip app

UKIP leader Nigel Farage says the game in which players kick immigrants as far as possible to gain the highest ‘racism’ rating is ‘pathetic’

The Telegraph

 

And here is a UKik game from Nigel Fromage…

Play up, play up…play the game!

Sorry…just had to include this UKipper…having, of all things, a kip…

 

Christmas Shopping tips…

We all do it, some of us even enjoy it – but, when we go Christmas present shopping, some of us get scammed.  In the seasonal spirit of goodwill, here’s a Sprout tip list to keep you safe whilst you browse:

Matt Torrens
www.sproutit.co.uk

  1. Updates and Anti-Virus

OK this is boring, I know!  But don’t underestimate the value of a well patched computer, running up to date Anti-Virus.  Patch your operating system (Windows/Mac) and, crucially, don’t forget the third party applications such as Java and Adobe – it’s these apps that are increasingly the target, for the bad guys.

  1. HTTPS/SSL

Only purchase from websites that have https in the site address.  You can check the validity of the site’s SSL Certificate by clicking on the padlock icon shown in your browser.  NEVER given personal/payment details to a site that is not SSL encrypted.

  1. Passwords

Passwords are for life, not just for Christmas!  Always use complex passwords, keeping them unique for each online account you have.  For most of us that will be a lot to remember, so why not use a password manager tool such as LastPass.

  1. Watch out for pop-ups and temporary apps

It’s a common trick to use the season of goodwill to encourage you to open/click/install adverts and applications that you would normally ignore.  If you see an offer that is too good to be true, then it probably is – and it’s probably going to do something nasty to your computer.

  1. Use a credit card

It’s always best to use a credit card, rather than a debit card (this is not financial advice!).  Apart from the additional insurance, liability cover and fraud checks that a credit card will carry, it is not normally attached to your Current Account – so any breach, will not give direct access to your hard earned savings.

  1. Phishing

Phishing (emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers) is still the favourite and most successful item in the bad guy’s toolkit.  You know the rules – don’t click on or respond to any email that you are not expecting or are suspicious of.

  1. Don’t save personal details

Most sites will encourage you to ‘sign-up’ and save your address, telephone, email and payment details.  Apart from being hounded for the next 12 months about their latest special offer, because you forgot to tick/untick/stand on your head, it also means that if (when) that site is compromised, so are your personal details.

  1. Stay in front of the fire

Rive Gauche: Keeping myself amused on a quiet day….

 

 

As you can see – not a great deal of LAW about at the moment… so I content myself with this sort of thing and what follows….

I find it difficult to leave the topic of Lord Chancellor Grayling – here he is in 2013, divesting himself of his wisdom on the  European Court of Human Rights:

Grayling says European court of human rights has lost legitimacy

Justice secretary finalising plans to curtail Strasbourg court after 2015 to ‘ensure UK court judgments are final’
And here he is again singing a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan – which he does rather well – Iolanthe – Nightmare Song by The Lord Chancellor
And a judge is embarrassed about lack of lunch.  Justice in the 21st century courtesy of Lord Chancellor Grayling?

 

Rive Gauche: A little to do about nothing

Matters legal are a bit light on the ground at present – but this may be because I have tired of law for now (I will revive an interest in the new year) so thought I would look back and put up a few pics and ‘matters’ which caught my eye over the last year…

First up: entirely appropriate…and almost certainly true?

And, as we still have the misfortune to be governed by the Tories…how about a little bit of ‘Springtime for Hitler’?

This may inspire the Tory Grandees?:  Springtime for Hitler for their version of The Producers

And then, of course, was this fine picture of our Prime Minister…first among equals ? Pissed inter pares? 

And..I appear to have come up with the idea last Christmas Eve of the ‘Square Fried Egg… Oui, Chef.. another ‘star’

But it was good to see that the senior judiciary was able to apprehend a Lord Chancellor Impersonator…

And, of course, it would not be Christmas without adding the lawyer’s touch.  A Christmas card drafted by a lawyer…

And finally…just in case you hit the juice a bit too hard and think it would be a great idea to do some ‘pissed tweeting’…

An ill-judged tweet can land you in a whole lot of legal bother, as Peaches Geldof and Sally Bercow know only too well. So the attorney general’s new guidelines are essential reading

Back later…or, more probably, on the morrow…

It’s only IT: 10 friendly IT tips

By Robert Baxter-Kaneen (2nd/3rd Line Server Engineer)

Written with a bias to Sprout IT values.

10. It’s only IT.

Sorry but you’re wrong. It’s at the core of your business and everyone depends on it working well to achieve success! Our business is to make sure your business doesn’t worry about IT being a failure. You lose, we lose!

9. Backups are expensive and a waste of our budget.

Look at backups as your business life insurance. If your core systems are beyond repair, due to a mistake, an attack or something that is out of your control, what do you want to be left with? Nothing or an insurance policy that pays out. We all have liability insurance, so don’t ignore your IT insurance! Back up your data.

8. We don’t need support all the time.

Maybe not, but who wants to be caught out because they can’t receive email at 10pm or find that important document!

7. IT companies are just a load of kids playing “business”.

The field of IT is so new that the world’s experts are younger than you think. I have 10 years professional experience, been to university, hold many industry recognised certifications and am a senior technical specialist. I’m 29.

6. We won’t get hacked!

Yes, actually you might. Poor IT companies pretend you’re 100% safe. The good ones give you the very best security and prepare you for that small, but realistic, chance of the worst happening. Don’t bury you head in the sand, be realistic and be prepared.

5. Cloud storage is all the same!

Not true, international law and liability of data changes from country to country. We only provide dedicated, independent cloud storage that you own and you control, hosted on servers accountable to UK law. Did you know that if you use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive you sign over exclusive rights to these corporations? Well, to us, that’s just an unacceptable risk.

4. Passwords are enough

My passwords are 22 characters long, letters, numbers, symbols and upper and lower case. I still don’t think it’s enough! Two factor authentication is a must in the modern world. That’s why we use it here at Sprout and think those in the Legal sector should too.

3. Who keeps email for 10 years, that’s silly!

Not when you need it 8 years later. I’m a level 2 Mimecast Professional. I never lose an email and you shouldn’t either. You cannot know what you might need to hand 10 years ahead so keep it all and minimise risk!

2. We don’t need an audit, we know what’s going on.

You need to know the truth and exactly what’s going on with your network! We perform internal audits twice yearly to highlight your problems and fix them before they become REAL issues. It’s about being the best, not a witch hunt! Audits are necessary to keep at the top of your game. 

1. I want it cheap!

Yes who doesn’t want a bargain, but if you want a level of IT service you can depend on 365 days a year, data that is protected and backed up and systems that are maintained, patched and supported every day of the year, then you have to be prepared to invest appropriately.

Guest Post: How to Reduce the Impact of Inheritance Tax

How to Reduce the Impact of Inheritance Tax
JMD Law

Believe it or not, there are actually plenty of strategies out there for reducing the amount you have to pay from inherited money in the UK. Here are a few strategies you can use to reduce the impact that the inheritance tax has on the rightful inheritance that you received from a loved one.

Charity

One way to reduce the impact of the tax is to give money to a charity of your choice. This only works if your estate is worth more than £325,000, and they have to set it up before they pass. But if you’re loved one leaves 10 percent of their estate to a charity, then the rate on the tax goes down from 40 percent to 36 percent.

Get a Gift

Gifting is a way to reduce the taxes on an inheritance that applies to people who have a civil or married partner. It’s legal to give anything that belongs to you to your partner, which means that if you give them your inheritance – assuming you trust them enough to do so – they won’t have to pay inheritance tax on it at all. This is something else that the person who has the estate – i.e. the loved one – would have to do before they pass. Gifts can also be made to family members before a death as well, and this will be a way to get past any unnecessary taxation.

Check for War Injuries

Another way to reduce inheritance tax is to check to see if the loved one’s death occurred in part because of injuries sustained during a war. It’s possible that this would make that person’s estate tax-free. So if your family member was in Iraq or Afghanistan, or some other government military action, and sustained injuries, they may actually fall under this exemption. It’s a long shot, and naturally it only applies to those who have served for their country, but it’s certainly worth knowing about should you be left in this position.

Houses

Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to get the wealth tied up in a house in order to avoid inheritance tax, especially if it’s done early enough in the proceedings. There are some rules that allow for sheltering a family home from the tax as long as you continue to live in it, so it is one approach to consider should your situation fit this particular bill.

Farming Options

There are a lot of extra rules that govern business and farming property and it’s important to check carefully to make sure you don’t get in trouble for trying to do something that you shouldn’t in this capacity. But, it is true that many agricultural land rules allow for tax-free exemptions from inheriting tax.  The rules can vary from two to seven years after you own the land depending on whether you’re farming it or not.

Overall, it’s important to look through all of the exemptions to see if any of them apply to you for reducing inheritance tax as the savings can be quite substantial for many.

Guest Post: The Cybercriminal’s choice, but how can you protect yourself?

The Cybercriminal’s choice, but how can you protect yourself?
SproutIT 

Picture this: It’s a Sunday afternoon, you’ve just had lunch and you decide to get a little work done for a court case starting tomorrow morning. You turn on your computer and logon, a strange new window pop’s up saying “Your personal files are encrypted!” – A little panic set’s in so you go to open the document you need to work on… It won’t open! You check out your favourite snaps in your pictures folder and they won’t open either. You reboot the computer and this time you look a little closer at the pop up message – it explains that your files have been encrypted and you need to pay a fee to have your files decrypted…

What’s probably happened here is you’ve been infected with the ‘Cryptolocker’ ransomware variant which infected around 600,000 computers in 2014.

So what is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (malware) which infects your computer usually by you visiting a compromised website or if you’ve opened an unsafe email attachment. It then goes and encrypts your personal files such as documents, pictures and music files. Finally, it then prompts you to pay up or you’ll lose your files forever.

Why should I care?

Ransomware is becoming big business for the modern criminal, Cryptolocker has known to have generated some £16 million alone. Security vendors are already noticing an upward trend in ransomware in the wild.

Your personal and business data is at risk; precious family photos could be lost or your reputation could be tarnished for not being able to complete your documents for court in time.

How do I protect myself? – 3 ways

  1. Update, update, update :
    • Turn on Windows Updates to automatically download and install updates for Windows – remember to reboot when it asks you to!
    • Make sure you have an Antivirus product installed (a free one will do!) and make sure it updates itself automatically.
    • Install updates to any third party software as and when it’s needed (Java and Adobe Flash player are good examples, almost all their updates are security related).
  2. Backup your computer and files regularly:
    • Windows has backup software built-in, all you need is an external hard drive to back up your computer to. There is also loads of third party products on the market.

Note: Cloud backups can be great, but be careful; you may inadvertently replace your good files in the cloud with the encrypted copies if you set your cloud backup software to sync automatically.

      1. Be careful:
        • Be mindful when opening email attachments or clicking on suspicious link’s on websites.
        • Don’t open attachments in emails from companies or individuals you do not recognise. A bank would never ask you to reset your password by email, for example.  
        • Only visit websites you know to be reputable.

      And if I do happen to get ransomware?

      Don’t pay. There’s no guarantee you’ll get your files back. Hopefully you have a recent backup that you can restore to or, in the case of Cryptolocker there is thankfully now tools available online to help you decrypt your files (the link is here: https://www.decryptcryptolocker.com). Otherwise, speak to an IT Professional about your options.

      About SproutIT

      Based in Temple, SproutIT provide high quality IT support, consultancy and strategy to the legal sector.

    • https://www.sproutit.co.uk/

Guest Post: What is the most powerful audio and visual aid in the world – if used properly? You!

Lee Bennet, CEO of Potent Communications, writes:

Our experts provide tailor-made Communication solutions, working with you to ensure you become an effective communicator who will:

• speak fluently and eloquently with little preparation and no notes;

• think on your feet with confidence and authority;

• think and communicate clearly when under pressure;

• think quickly and analytically;

• apply an ambitious and determined approach to solving problems and presenting solutions;

• think logically and coherently;

• appreciate the virtues of style;

• conduct yourself as a credible leader.

Lee Bennett, CEO of Potent Communications Ltd says: “If you want to truly be the best you can be, whether dealing with a live question and answer session, giving a speech to shareholders, speaking at a conference, speaking with the public, dealing with a PR crisis, or delivering that all important pitch, we are here to ensure that you deliver on the day.”

Our image consultants can also give you an edge both in life and in the competitive marketplace by ensuring that every detail of your image suits you, makes you feel confident yet comfortable, and effectively conveys an appropriate message.

Personal style and image consultant, Nuk Phanurat heads our team of image experts. Having previously founded his own fashion label in New York that sold his handmade high-end garments to over 450 fashion retailers worldwide, Nuk uses his business acumen and fashion savoir faire to his clients’ best advantage.

Nuk is Vice-President of the family business Modern Lady House in Asia, a company that has been operating for almost 40 years and has a sales force of some 3,000 people across Thailand. Nuk has previously founded a multimedia production house, producing and hosting a weekly television show in Asia. He was also involved in producing advertisements for television and radio, marketing and event management, and acting as a professional MC at high-end functions across the world for various corporations and high-net-worth individuals.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. We are here to help ensure you get it right first time.

For more information about how we may assist you please contact us

Guest Post: How a Virtual PA can benefit you.

How a Virtual PA can benefit you.

As a law firm of any size employing someone may not be the most economically beneficial way to carry out your admin tasks. Instead it can be easier to hire a virtual assistant to take care of admin work for you rather than employing someone. You can save money from the outset as you cut the time used to interview the candidates and you can save a lot of money on recruitment fees as some agency charge a considerable fee. By using a virtual assistant you will not have to pay out for a computer and software for them which could cost upwards of £1000. With using a virtual assistant you wouldn’t need to make any room for them in an office and they can get to work right away rather than waiting weeks or months for a new employee to start.


Virtual pa’s are just ask skilled as a normal office assistant if not more so and they can offer skills in admin, call handling, Bookkeeping, planning events and creating documents. All of these skills can be of great use to a small firm that may not have the resources to handle them all internally. Virtual pa’s will not hinder a firm’s ability to grow and will help growth just as much if not more so than a new employee.

Call handling may be a desirable feature that you need to incorporate into your business. Virtual PA’s will be diverted your call and answer the call however you request them too. Sometime in a small office and people are busy this could mean you miss a lot of call and could lose potential clients. Having someone answer you phone and transfer the call could also give a good impression to people calling.

Another of the ways a virtual secretary can benefit you is by managing your diary and even schedule your meetings. This can be invaluable to any business as it cuts down on the time spent for you organising meetings and managing your own time. Your virtual assistant can even organise your travel arrangement for you making it as simple as possible for you.

Your virtual assistant will also be able to help you with the laborious tasks of research and transcribing. Both of these tasks can be very time consuming to you especially when your time is valuable and could be better used elsewhere. A bonus of using a virtual pa service is that they will be skilled in these tasks so will be able to complete them quickly and efficiently

A virtual assistant could be an incredible asset to you and your team and is defiantly work considering. There are plenty of virtual pa services out there like Smart PA who can handle all of your secretarial and admin tasks. So maybe before you consider employing a new secretary or office admin staff member you might want to consider the option of using a virtual assistant.