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back to article Ha ha, Osborne, these Gov 2.0 web wranglers have wiped out UK debt

"A digital revolution, masterminded by a team of dress-down civil servants, could save the taxpayer billions," The Times newspaper gushed on Tuesday. And behold: it already has. The UK has apparently paid off its national debt years ahead of Chancellor George Osborne's predictions. Alas, it's no miracle, but an infographics cock …

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Black Helicopters

Think this is more cock up rather than conspiracy

Suspect the question asked was show me the cost of government - to which someone assumed the answer was department budgets. Classic requirements/delivery mismatch.

With this Governments austerity crusade including debt interest payments would work in their favour. Besides which Im betting there are a whole series of expenses of a similar nature.

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Coat

Maybe, but Re: Think this is more cock up rather than conspiracy

Do any senior people actually check the results of their dictats/requests, or get someone who 'has a clue' to do a quick sanity test?

Silly question, I know - I'm on my way out.

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Re: Think this is more cock up rather than conspiracy

Given that the NHS is not on there either, I'm going with cock up as well.

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Re: Think this is more cock up rather than conspiracy

There are lies, damn lies and big mistakes. I usually assume a healthy mix with the occasional exception to the rule when the public sector does something right.

You can prove anything with selective data. It doesnt matter how good or bad the people on the ground are when layers of 'interpretation' are applied to the results. By the time it reaches the people who need to know there is little left.

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Re: Think this is more cock up rather than conspiracy

Agree, particularly as the Times article gushed about the employment of fresh out of school programmers...

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That Times article ...

Not so much an article as an uncritical collection of word-for-word quotes from Cabinet Office press releases - and absent any of the awkward contradictory facts from the National Audit Office.

Infographics - the hip new way to tell outright lies.

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Re: That Times article ...

Outright lies in quite an uncomfortable-to-read font (typeface? I have no idea what the difference is) at that.

I'm just happy to see we're not wasting money on this guff. Oh, wait.

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How journalism works – Re: That Times article ...

If you enter "rachel sylvester" and "i am told" into the Times search box and hit enter you get 39 hits. That's 39 separate articles in which she has used the phrase.

I suggested to Private Eye once that they start a new column, "Eye am told". No dice.

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"The same team agonised for months before settling on a font for the UK government's websites"

Typical government IT fail. It's the person *READING* a website that chooses the font.

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really?

I'm no expert I have to say, but I'm pretty sure we read the intended font most of the time. There seem to be many ways to achieve this - with of course a fall-back to a substitute font if needed. there is much more detail here: http://blog.themeforest.net/tutorials/how-to-achieve-cross-browser-font-face-support/

The browser chooses the intended font, unless it can't. - Not really "it's" choice then, is it?

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Re: really?

If everything is set up right, the browser will use the page designer's choice if it is available, then work through some close alternatives, until it take the user's chosen default for serif or sans serif or monospaced. Unless the user has chosen a force a font, which goes straight to the defaults.

When you remember that there are sometimes several closely similar fonts, some free and some not , it can get messy.

What is the font they want you to use anyway?

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HMRC

So is this outgoings or cashflow?

Shouldn't revenue and customs take in more money than they spend?

If you have a tax office that pays OUT 50Bn quid perhaps you have a few sign errors in the maths

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Re: HMRC

If you drill into the data it gets even more confusing. Most of it in HMRC is "AME" (WTF?) and nearly all of that being "CURRENT GRANTS TO PRIVATE SECTOR - HOUSEHOLDS" I think that means "tax credits", but transparency isn't actually that helpful when you dress it all up in jargon.

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These "Geeks in Jeans" should be taken outside and shot. Followed by their seditious, manipulative, lying, corrupt, paymasters.

Hang on while I get down off this fence.

The more they spend, they more they take. Any government of such colossal calamity should be overthrown.

Good job the interest rates at the BoE have been massaged down eh boys? Oh I'm sorry was that there Old Lady of Threadneedle Street alleged to be independent from HM Treasury?

Pull the other one, it's got bells all over it George.

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Geeks in jeans

supplied to the Public Sector by the Private Sector on the recommendation of Private Sector 'gurus'

https://jobs.civilservice.gov.uk/company/nghr/jobs.cgi

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Re: Geeks in jeans

Somehow, you just know that the jeans in question have creases ironed down the legs.

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Your browser is outdated ...

From their description, "The new typeface doesn’t work perfectly everywhere, we’re aware of that. It pretty much works on a Mac in all browsers and on Windows in Internet Explorer. It’s not quite there in Firefox or Chrome on a PC."

Is this going to lead to more situations, like the one El Reg reported a while ago, where people can't access benefits and so forth because they don't have the right browser? This time it will be that the browser is too old or they are using the wrong sort of pc.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/30/universal_credit_dwp_browser_compatibility_snafu/

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WTF?

Re: Your browser is outdated ...

The new typeface doesn’t work perfectly everywhere, we’re aware of that. It pretty much works on a Mac in all browsers and on Windows in Internet Explorer. It’s not quite there in Firefox or Chrome on a PC.

Yeah, because no web developer in the world has ever managed to design a page that displays properly in all browsers.

You can tell this statement originated from a graphic-designer type dickhead because (a) he thinks the Apple Mac is the most important target platform, and (b) he thinks the Mac (a computer), Windows (and operating system) and PC (lots of different computers) are subsets of the same category.

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Re: Your browser is outdated ...

For some odd reason, you assume the government wants people to succeed at claiming benefits. The next revision of that website only works on a single Dec terminal in a locked basement of DWP headquarters

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Not very pretty...

...and also not very clever.

Nice to see my taxes are well spent.

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Joke

Spreadsheet Problem

You're viewing the spreadsheet on a Mac, that's your problem. It has been dumbed down and functionality removed in order to guarantee a frustration free user experience.

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Open source please

The design ideas behind the new typeface, more or less an updated version of Gill Sans, don't seem so bad. Most people, however, seem to find it easier to read blocks of text with a serif face, provided the resolution is reasonably good. It's for this reason that books and newpapers are generally set with serif type, such as the ubiquitous Times Roman.

Perhaps there is a requirement for a complementary serif face, as with the Minon/Myriad combination, or Stone's sans/serif/informal.

More to the point though, what happened to the government's decreed espousal of Open Source, which was supposed to be used wherever possible? The new font is restricted to use on gov.uk sites. Would there really be any loss if this went open source? And if one or more design schools made complementary serif and informal typefaces in their courses with the results also being put in the public domain?

Something that really would help open source development is to have high quality type that works not only across different browsers but also in different systems; so that software such as Libre Office would work identically on Mac, PC and Linux.

Rather than making a set of fonts that are downloaded repeatedly whenever anyone accesses a government website, why can't everyone benefit from a new easy-on-the-eye font family that is available to all. Isn't clear communication at the heart of democracy?

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Re: Open source please

The last I heard, they had tested the effects of serif and sans serif fonts, and not found any difference in readability. But since computer screens are relatively low resolution, compared to even a desktop printer, what is true for your screen might not be true for a book.

There's a lot of published research that is the result of a poorly-designed experiment, and all "no difference" may mean is that the sample is too small, especially if the difference is small. What they're not quite telling you is that the experiment would detect an effect of size X, and that's what they're not seeing.

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Re: Open source please

It looks like it works on Opera.

The whole Webfonts idea looks rather new and I am not convinced it is a good idea

The font is New Transport, which is a development of the Transport font used on roadsigns. It looks pretty good to me. Perhaps more significant is that the design standard sets a larger-than-usual minimum size for the font. On the whole, I'm inclined to the view that the graphics design is an improvement.

Whether the content is right is a whole different issue. I looked something up, and the page that let you find contact points, offices for a face-to-face meeting, was flawed. It was one of those pick-a-county set-ups; the list had some counties that no longer exist and gave no help if there were no contact points in the county chosen.

This is nothing new.

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Big Brother

Re: Open source please

"Isn't clear communication at the heart of democracy?"

Not any more- quite the opposite...

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Re: But since computer screens are relatively low resolution ...

That used to be true. Increasingly, phones, tablets screens are getting higher res displays

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Does the DH (NHS) number not look suspiciously small to anyone?

5.1bn To run the entire NHS, for a year! Bargain!

Or maybe more bad data?

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Re: Does the DH (NHS) number not look suspiciously small to anyone?

Remember these figures will exclude PFI deals, which means all significant capital expenditure and the swingeing regular payments to the various overseas hedge funds that have acquired these deals from the original contractors (see for example the recent moves in the NHS to close non-PFI hospitals such as Lewisham to try to cover the escalating PFI costs).

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Re: Does the DH (NHS) number not look suspiciously small to anyone?

The Dept. of Health is not the NHS.

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Anonymous Coward

Govt waste, eh?

....or is it just the start of wholesale mistruth by Govt akin to B7 'Federation'...?

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Anonymous Coward

The Government Digital Service

Are a pack of hipster twunts.

There. I feel much better.

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Facepalm

Sorry to say to have to say this Ben

From Bens Terrets Gov 2.0 Blog

Ben Terrett - "The new typeface doesn’t work perfectly everywhere"

To solve this issue I would investigate your teams inability to implement the simplest (And I mean simplest) html, css and web-font tags.

Ben Terrett - "On release the font wasn’t caching on every page, we fixed that yesterday. We told browsers to cache the font so that it doesn’t have to be reloaded on every request Making sure the page only loads the fonts it needs to speed up load times"

This is Web Server / Web Browser interaction 101. Hardly worth blogging about Ben. Has anyone one on your team has ever built a website before?

Ben Terrett - "The hinting stuff is harder to fix but we’re working on that now and you should see improvements with every release over the next few weeks."

I didn't realise that converting are a pre-designed (and pre-hinted) font would require point version releases. When working on projects like this In the past I just went from original paper based design to finished. My employers prefered it this way. No release candidates or anything.

Ben Terrett - "Scaling the default font so that the change when the font loads is less jarring"

Less jarring than web page loading? Sorry Ben but I don't even begin to understand what this "issue" actually is. You changed the font in your stylesheet and then reloaded your web page to find out that…. WOW it looked different? What exactly was your team expecting?

Ben Terrett - "Sending a slightly different version of the font which should render better for Internet Explorer users"

Again html 101. Next time Google "embedding web-fonts into your website for beginners".

"Lots of work still to do – this stuff isn’t simple."

I am sorry to say to have to say this Ben, But it really is that f*@#king simple.

Ben Terrett - "For the first time we’re hosting it ourselves rather than using another service like Typekit or Monotype’s web fonts."

As your team is kind of talentless why not just use Typekit (or any other good online Type vendor)?

From the Typekit website: "Our fonts work everywhere - Typekit works in all modern browsers and operating systems."

That would be a major government problem solved for a measly $8 per month subscription fee wouldn't it?

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Big Brother

Re: Sorry to say to have to say this Ben

That blog post is a year old.

I wonder how long the font will stay in my cache. And I wonder what will happen if I take some harsh security measures such as cleaning out cookies. The page looks like a peek at where they were in development and testing. It looks as though things are better now. The graphic design is working in the browsers I have.

If I told you what I thought of the content you would soon have an indication of whether you have an obscenity filter on your ISP account.

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GOV.UK is not Government on the Internet, but of the Internet

Not my words. The words of ex-Guardian man Mike Bracken, executive director of the Government Digital Service and senior responsible owner of the pan-government but non-existent identity assurance programme. And he's right. You commentards just have to be more agile, http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/10/govuk-is-not-government-on-internet-but.html

As for worrying about statistics being accurate, how old-fashioned can you get? Just ask Stephan Shakespeare, the founder of YouGov who has been inexplicably asked to devise a national data strategy, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/198752/13-744-shakespeare-review-of-public-sector-information.pdf – search on "publish early even if imperfect" and you will see the way.

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Anonymous Coward

Fancy opening an excel spreadsheet on a mac, heathen.

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