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* Posts by IHateWearingATie

351 posts • joined 2 Jun 2008

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DVLA website GOES TITSUP on day paper car tax discs retire

IHateWearingATie

A defence of DVLA

- You are the DVLA CIO...

- You are pretty sure about the normal loads that your car tax website will get in normal periods throughout the year, as you have been running the old website for a while.

- You have a fixed budget.

- Your 'customers' HAVE to use your service to tax their car on pain of fines etc.

- You have a change to the service which in theory means the only difference for the average punter is they don't get to change the paper disc displayed in their window. However, you expect this is going to mean a rush on 1st October - but you don't really know how bad its going to be.

- You have a fixed budget.

- Building temporary load balancing capacity in for the beginning of the month will cost extra. You don't know how much extra you will need and for how long, as this is well outside normal operations.

- You have a fixed budget.

Given this, trading a bit of 'customer' pain and a brief moment of bad publicity for a cash saving on the load balancing and temporary capacity doesn't seem that bad an approach from their point of view.

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New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality

IHateWearingATie

pointless

These hearings are unfortunately pointless as the parliament only have the power to reject the whole set, not individual commissioners. However bad he is, it won't be enough to move the parliament to reject the commissioners.

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Be your own Big Brother: Keeping an eye on Mum and Dad

IHateWearingATie

Surprised at the lack of progress in this sector...

... as I remember working for a short while (in one of my brief departures from Public Sector work at the time) with a system that seemed to work pretty well in 2004/5.

The system had video cameras in each room for image recognition to track the movements of the person within the home. I saw it tested and it was pretty good at recognising when someone had fallen over and wasn't getting up or was moving much slower than usual, or hadn't visited the kitchen for the day (comparing with normal patterns, you could assume the person hadn't eaten yet).

Given that was 10 years ago, and the cameras and processing power was pretty crappy compared to today's capabilities I'm surprised that something like this hasn't been commercialised so far.

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Bubble 2.0? Moneybags VC Andreessen warns profit-free startups: 'You will be VAPORIZED'

IHateWearingATie

Paging Steve Bong...

... this man is a threat to your catapult

He must be eliminated. Paging มาลัย (which means "Garland of Flowers" in Thai)

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Yahoo!... Our Alibaba stake's worth BILLIONS. Oh – our shares are in the toilet

IHateWearingATie

You've got to look at the share price...

... and wonder how the CEO keeps her job.

The market is basically saying that they think the company is going to be so bad at using the cash that they may as well put it all on a large barge, set fire to it and let it float across San Francisco bay.

That's a hell of an indictment , yet I bet she doesn't get kicked out at the next AGM.

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iPhone 6: Most exquisite MOBILE? No. It is the Most Exquisite THING. EVER

IHateWearingATie

I read the guardian article stephen fry wrote...

... and this is hardly even a parody!

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Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS

IHateWearingATie

Re: Sufficient lift?

Fair enough - seems I missed that one from a previous thread.

Maybe a LOHAN 'stop asking me!' list is needed on the LOHAN summary page :)

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IHateWearingATie

Sufficient lift?

Have been wondering (ever since I donated to the kickstarter - cash sharpens the mind ) whether the wings on LOHAN will produce sufficient lift to glide it, now you've added a load more batteries?

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Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water

IHateWearingATie

Refreshing?

This looks like a pretty refreshing approach - instead of muddling along trying to ignore the writing on the wall and then failing suddenly and spectacularly, they are pulling the plug early while there is still enough cash to pay the employees and creditors, and wind up the business in an orderly manner.

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Weekend reads: A new Poirot, drug-fuelled Champagne Supernovas and The Establishment

IHateWearingATie

To be fair to Owen Jones, if asked he always says he had a middle class upbringing - I think people just assume he's working class as he's from the North, and is all flat caps and whippets up there isn't it?

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Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes

IHateWearingATie

Proof of the gateway theory

Much like some people think cannabis is a gateway to harder drugs, this proves that Celine Dion is a gateway to the furthest reaches of human depravity. I always knew she was trouble.

Nuke Her From Orbit

It's the only way to be sure.

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Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts

IHateWearingATie

More like accessories market...

It's hard to see how smart watches at the moment aren't more like the accessories market, given the two big players (Apple Watch and Android Wear) are exclusive to their respective phone OSes. Completely tied to the phone, just because Apple create a great watch / phone case / other accessory doesn't mean that suddenly Android users will buy that watch / phone case / other accessory.

If Pebble or other generic makers had made a huge splash I could see their market share being eaten, but there is nothing in any smart watch that I have seen so far that could convince me that phone users will migrate one way or another because of the watches on offer. That would suggest that LG, Samsung etc have little to fear for the moment on the watch front from Apple - if they are unable to sell watches it will be because their offerings are not good enough to get consumers to choose to buy a smart watch, rather than buying an Apple one instead of a Samsung or LG or Motorola one.

MAYBE a few higher end consumers may switch, but I suspect the larger screen of the 6 and 6 plus will be the driver of that, and not the Apple Watch.

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Don't bother with Apple's 9 Sept hype-day: Someone's GONE AND BLABBED IT ALL

IHateWearingATie

Am I the only one looking forward to this?

If the rumours are true with a larger iPhone and a really well implemented watch, I may be tempted back from Android.

Or, as has happened before, Apple take what other people have been doing for ages and work out a better way to package and present it. Then others like Samsung can go 'ahhhh, that's a much better approach to a smartwatch' and improve their current crappy offering.

Either way, I think I win.

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AMD claims record with latest overclock-happy FX Series chips, again

IHateWearingATie

Re: Free market

I think it depends on the generation. Intel's Sandybridge was hugely popular with casual overclockers as it was so easy to do - it actually went far better than was thought at the beginning. For example, my i5 2500K runs @ 4.5Ghz on a mid range standard motherboard with a cheap (£25 I think) air cooler. Had it like that for 2 years (possibly more - can't remember when i bought it) without any issues.

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Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch

IHateWearingATie

Getting there with the looks...

... from the pics in the article.

I don't want a black slab like the LG one recently released. Something that looks like a watch and can show me the time and notifications from my phone (and maybe so some of that new fangled step counting or whatever) is good enough.

Hopefully the iWatch will show Samsung et al how to really do it, so they pull their finger out. I've an Android phone, so need someone other than Apple to create a watch that i want.

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UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco

IHateWearingATie

Re: Are there ANY success stories?

I've worked on a few. For example the IT system for ESA (employment and support allowance) was huge and that was on time and on budget in 2008

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Snowden is FREE to ESCAPE FROM RUSSIA, say officials

IHateWearingATie

I suspect...

... there aren't that many countries that he would be risking travelling to anyway, but nice to have the option.

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Cor blimey: Virgin Media pipes 152Mb fibre to 100,000 East Londoners

IHateWearingATie

Sad but true

One reason I've stuck with Virgin Media is the telephone extensions around the house are wired into the Virgin telephone socket and I can't be bothered to rewire everything.

Luckily the service is pretty good where I live, and the BT cabinet is a little way away, so I suspect FTTC wouldn't get me more than 30-40Mbit anyway.

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Surprise! Government mega-infrastructure project cocked up

IHateWearingATie

The problem with CBA...

While a useful tool the CBA has some serious limitations when dealing with infrastructure investments that will have payback periods beyond 20 years. Things like smaller road and rail schemes are easy to work out, as they payback in 10 years or less, and the assumptions that they are built can be made reasonable particularly with a well done sensitivity analysis.

Things like the severn barrage are almost impossible to evaluate quantitatively - taking that as an example, it would have had an operational life of 100 years or so. You can do some work on the electricity price projected forward (which is what they did), but the qualitative benefit of having a power source that will provide a predictable amount of electricity twice a day (or more depending on the configuration of the tidal pools) 50 years hence when we may be running out of hydrocarbons is really only a qualitative point to be evaluated. What really killed the Severn Barrage was how unlikely it would have been to get a private sector partner involved given the huge uncertainty.

That applies to the NBN now - a full analysis has to be guided by a qualitative look at what the infrastructure could do for the economy over the next 40 years, as well as the more predicable payback over the next 20 years. Just because the CBR is lower than 1, does not mean we should not do it.

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IHateWearingATie

Re: Guillotine ...

That's because you never hear about the successful ones as they are not news worthy, just the ones that screw up.

And from my experience the private sector screw up just as much, they just don't have the public accounts committee to publicise it.

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Scottish independence debate: STV player flops under weight of viewers

IHateWearingATie

Was very annoyed...

... as it's not like they didn't know that it was coming. This kind of stuff seems to happen quite a lot. Is there a shortage in techies who know how to build a properly extensible infrastructure, or have Netflix and LoveFilm employed them all?

Still, managed to find a work around with some quick googling. Thank you TVCatchUp

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AVG stung as search revenue from freebie scanners dries up

IHateWearingATie

Re: muppet show

Impressive. Someone who never ever makes mistakes. I take my hat off to you - clearly a new step on the evolutionary ladder.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us some kind of AV is a pretty good idea - I still use AVG as its nagware doesn't annoy me too much. i think I've now worked out where the controls to switch off almost all of the nagging, that stupid tool bar and the AVG search home page it keeps trying to make me use.

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New Star Wars movie plot details leak, violate common sense and laws of physics

IHateWearingATie

Please let this not be true...

.... it's all turning a bit Jar Jar otherwise

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GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?

IHateWearingATie

Tetra

Isn't this one of the selling points of the Tetra tech used by the emergency services?

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BMW i8 plug-in hybrid: It's a supercar, Jim, but not as we know it

IHateWearingATie

Super car?

While a very interesting car, not sure I would compare it to a supercar like a 458 or MP-12C. Looks more like competition for grand tourers than out and out supercars

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Universal Discredit: Gov admits Treasury HASN'T signed off biz case

IHateWearingATie

Re: "signed off"?

Things have changed a bit in the last couple of years since I was working in this area of government (currently working in the private sector - exactly the same screw ups but you never hear about them), but big projects typically have several stages to the business case as work to develop it progresses and funding is released.

Given the disaster that is UC, I suspect they are not going along the normal process, but there should have been a strategic business case (SBC or SOBC), an outline business case (OBC) and a full business case (FBC) - its probably the sign off of the full business case (releasing the remaining funding for the project) that has yet to be approved, probably due to missing approval gates from the major project authority and /or complete IT disaster.

Remember, when it comes to the public sector, never assume its deliberate if it can be explained by a screw up.

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Overclocking to 5GHz? We put Intel Devil’s Canyon CPU to the test

IHateWearingATie

Agree - it seems like the new TIM hasn't made that much of a difference in the early examples.

My Sandybridge CPU does a very stable 4.5Ghz using a relativel cheap air cooler and I was hoping this would be a significant improvement. Of course there are some other architectural improvements from Sandybridge so I'm sure this would bench quicker then if I ran mine at 4.7Ghz, but I was hoping for something more.

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Aereo presses pause on 'tiny antenna' TV-streaming service

IHateWearingATie

Always thought that their 'dime sized antennae' based excuse sounded a little hollow. I'm all for disruptive technologies, but this always sounded to me like they had stepped over the line

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We got behind the wheel of a Tesla S electric car. We didn't hate it

IHateWearingATie

Great stuff

Good to see 'leccy cars improving. Cost is still too high for me (if I had £50k I'd be buying a second hand 911 and saying sod the environment), and my ideal would be to have a small on-board engine to get me home if I'm too far away from a fast charger.

Still, another 10 years and I may have an electric car sitting on my driveway

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Labour vows: We'll pause one-dole-to-rule-them-all for drastic fix-up if elected in 2015

IHateWearingATie

Re: Nice idea..

See my comment above - you clearly haven't worked on social security or tax systems.

I've seen more complex and seemingly outlandish examples included because of the sheer number that crop up, meaning meatbag processing would be quickly overwhelmed .

We were not stupid - only complexity that needed to be in the system was there. There are plenty of manual workarounds on the system for complex situations where the numbers are small. However, you also need to consider the number of workarounds - they soon mount up, and before you know it there are as many cases being processed off system as on system.

I seem to remember the particular example above was included as it tipped over the de minimus for stupidly complex cases - can't remember exactly what it was but it was in the low thousands. Sounds unbelievable, but to be honest once you've worked on social security systems your threshold to be surprised by the situations people can get themselves into is pretty high.

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IHateWearingATie

Re: Nice idea..

How easy to type, how hard to implement in practice.

The idea behind UC was kicking around for YEARS in DWP before IDS came in. A smaller attempt was made to bring benefit systems together in the mid 2000s which was scrapped as it quickly ran into the sand.

There are two reasons the benefits system is complex - one is the incremental nature of it, with things being layered on top of each other for years and years until we end up where we are now.

The other is that life is stupidly, incredibly, ridiculously, unbelievably complex, and the benefits system has to take account of that as the impact of ignoring it can have profound consequences for people.

Lets take an example - I'm a bank and a customer wants to open an account and give his 3 wives (he has a polygamous marriage from his time living in Qatar) access. A bank may look at that use case and say "screw it, too costly to implement the functionality, hardly anyone needs that so I won't build the functionality in to the system and if he doesn't like it I don't care, he can naff off to another bank"

The DWP can't say that, as if he can't claim benefits he and his wives and his kids will starve (lets ignore the arguments over whether or not he should get benefits). In the UK polygamous marriage is not legal, so which marriage do we recognise (the first one, as the rules currently go - yes this is a real example I've worked on in the past) ? What do the other two women with kids do about their benefit claims? They all live in the same house, so how can we work the rules to ensure they have enough to live on, but don't get more than their fair share and take the piss.

If you think that is a ridiculous use case, then you clearly have never worked on social security or tax systems. There are many many many examples like this - my favourite is the guy who changed his name to his national insurance number which caused a re-write in a bunch of modules as it broke some validation rules designed to weed out mistypes.

As my boss used to say, when your IT system has to deal with the entire working population every month (for example with national insurance), then one in a million situations happen at least once a day.

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Home automation while it's hot: Winter warmth for lazy technophiles

IHateWearingATie

I agree as well - I replaced the heating system in my house last year (we had not long moved in and it was ancient and partly broken) and I couldn't see much benefit from the clever gizmos on top of a cheap programmable thermostat and thermostatic valves on the radiators.

We have a combi boiler, so hot water timing isn't needed, and things just don't change that much in the house that often. The timer can be set to different times and temps on different days, and the thermostatic valves are set to a lower temperature in the 2 rooms we don't use much (junk room, spare bedroom). It also has a holiday feature to override the normal settings between specified dates

I guess if the time you leave and come back to the house varies a lot then then being able to switch the heating on before you get back might be nice. And if you have air con (my mate is an air con engineer and has fitted some end of line units in his house - very jealous in the summer) and / or underfloor heating then I can see the benefit in linking things together. But for most of us whose times in and out of the house are controlled by work and school, I can't see much benefit for now.

Which is a shame, as I love gadgets :)

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London commuter hell will soon include 'one card to rule them all'

IHateWearingATie

Is this a joke?

I already use my Oyster to travel pretty much anywhere inside the M25 north of the river, and a fair chunk south of the river (there be dragons etc etc) on overground, underground and buses.

So this is adding Oyster to some more Southern trains stations (extending out past Leatherhead for example), a few extra buses (the one that goes past my house to Watford Junction would be nice, and not that difficult as other Oyster enabled buses go to Watford Junction) and Taxis?

How can they talk about this with a straight face?

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Microsoft Surface 3 Pro: Flip me over, fondle me up

IHateWearingATie

Re: Lenovo Yoga 2 > Surface, at least for business

My Yoga 2 is 1920 x 1080 - not sure I'd get any benefit at a greater resolution for the vast majority of the work I do.

We try and keep the number of words on a slide down to a minimum for senior management. Don't want to confuse them, the poor dears :)

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IHateWearingATie

Lenovo Yoga 2 > Surface, at least for business

I've been using a Lenovo Yoga 2 as my main work machine for a bit now, and it seems to provide a good enough tablet experience without compromising its main duty of letting me do a day's work in MS Office (yes, I gave up being a 'proper' techie a while ago - editing slides in powerpoint pays so much better )

Remember this is a business machine. Tablet duties at work are limited (taking notes in meetings, showing things to people at their desks etc), and limited at home as well as I already have a Nexus tablet to play games / surf / try and wrestle out of the grip of my kids.

I can't really see any benefit that the Surface gives me over the Yoga. If I was going to use it primarily as a tablet with a bit of laptop work, it may be different.

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Multiplayer Elite to debut on May 30th

IHateWearingATie

Fingers crossed...

.... that it's even half as good as the stupendous original.

Anyone remember the novella that came with the boxed BBC version of Elite? I've lost it now, but seem to remember that it was a very passable bit of si-fi fiction.

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Gigabyte Brix Pro: You don't need no steenkin' Xbox... when you have 4K-ing amazing graphics

IHateWearingATie

Re: £900 ???

I don't think I have more than 30 or so PC games that work on my current PC either. I certainly don't get time to play more than a couple (bloody kids).

To my great annoyance I had to buy the command and conquer full set (only £10 admittedly) to get Tiberian Sun working, as my old copy simply refused to work with my modern graphics card. And I don't like to think of the hours I've spent trying to get the original Carmageddon working....

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IHateWearingATie

Re: £900 ???

You'd have to buy an awful lot of games to make up for the £500 price difference between a PS4 and this (PS4 is approx £400 which for me was £350 + a year on PS Plus). From what I've seen of the games I buy for my PS4 (typically blockbusters like Call fo Duty) the price difference is rarely more than £10-15 on launch day (much less after a couple of months). I'd need to buy around 40 games just to break even (assuming I buy into PS Plus every year). That's as many as I have in total for my PS2, PS3 and PS4!

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IHateWearingATie

£900 ???

Am I unreasonable in my expectations, but £900 seems really expensive to have a moderately powerful PC that is quite small.

That's more than my desktop cost - granted its an ATX case, but I could have easily plumped for the same components in a mATX case so it could be hidden behind the TV cabinet rather than under my desk in the study, and it is much more powerful for running games.

Can't see this displacing consoles any time soon.

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GM reveals how much you'll pay to turn your car into a rolling 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot

IHateWearingATie

A better business model...

... would be to bundle a 1 year sub into the price of the car, and be prompted to renew at the annual service. Another hook to keep people coming to the dealer and you start to just see it as a cost of maintenance of the car

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Google forges a Silver bullet for Android, aims it at Samsung's heart

IHateWearingATie

Dear god noooo

What the hell are they doing? This may be good for google, but it's likely to be rubbish for consumers as it drives away other manufacturers from the premium segment. One of the reasons I switched to Android from iOS was the much wider range of phones on offer - want a big screen? There's a phone for that. Want an SD card slot and removable battery? Yup, there's a phone for that. Want a cheaper phone that does the job almost as well? Yup, there's a bunch of them.

In the long term this can only reduce the number of manufacturers and variety of handsets. If I only wanted a small number of handset choices, I'd have stayed with iOS!!

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A premium smartie lump: Oppo N1 CyanogenMod Edition

IHateWearingATie

Nearly there

Love the idea of the swivel camera, and the software sounds great. I'd prefer a smaller form factor, a removable battery (you'd be amazed how much I make use of battery swapping on my S4) and an SD card slot. And the price, given the internals, sucks.

Still, as a first effort this looks great as they will only get better. Their next gen may be a good replacement for my S4 when the time comes

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Whaddaya mean, NO REFUND? But I paid in Bitcoins! Oh I see...

IHateWearingATie

still no reason for 99% of people in the UK to bother with bitcoin

Why the chuff would I pay for anything except, ahem, questionable items with bitcoin. My credit cards and debit cards work perfectly well, with the benefit if someone tries to swindle me I can avail myself of the current legislation and get my bank or credit card company to pay me back. Like the vast majority of the population of the UK I hardly ever make international transactions, and the convienence of doing so using my existing cards far outweighs the transaction fee.

The only current benefit of bitcoin I can see is not having my bank or credit card company having a record of my transactions - which I don't care about. At all. And if the public reaction to the Snowden revelations is anything to go by, nor does hardly anyone else.

The currency fluctuation is HUGE, the hassle of setting up a wallet and exchanging some cash is not small and I can only see a benefit for a vanishingly small number of people. Tell me again why any retailer would pay for a machine to take bitcoins except for publicity purposes?

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Gov cheerleader Sajid Javid gets nod from PM to park in Miller's spot

IHateWearingATie

Up the road, not next door

The Ministry of Fun is at the top end of Whitehall, so he will have wandered up the road from the Treasury (he won't have been based in No11, too junior for that)

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David Cameron defends BT's taxpayer-funded broadband 'monopoly': It's a 'success story'

IHateWearingATie

Re: I don't think that Prime Minister David Cameron knows what he's defending.

He's reading a brief prepared for him on the basis of guesses of what questions will be coming up.

IIRC the call goes out across Whitehall from No10 on a Monday lunchtime for briefs by the end of the day, giving the squirrels in No10 time to package it all up for Wednesday morning when the PM starts his prep. It's a well oiled machine, only punctured by your cynicism :)

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MPs attack BT's 'monopolistic' grip on gov-subsidised £1.2bn rural broadband rollout

IHateWearingATie

Re: Could competition have worked?

Virgin because of suburban in-fill (there are quite a few places that get crap broadband over BT wires and the Virgin cable is at the end of a road close but doesn't extend down it) and new estates and edges of towns they are in already.

Agree their network model would mean they are unlikely to be laying cable down country lanes.

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IHateWearingATie

Could competition have worked?

I do wonder whether we were barking up the wrong tree trying the competition angle at all, and whether it would have been better to do a top level deal with BT and Virgin from the outset, with some cash set aside for communities to go it alone where it isn't commercially viable.

With hindsight, I do wonder whether no matter what we had done, under the existing regulatory and EU competition laws there would have been the same result anyway.

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Spend zero notes to take all notes with OneNote: Microsoft makes app free, builds it for OS X

IHateWearingATie

YMMV

Use it for work. Love it.

People are different - who could have guessed?

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Roll up, roll up for the Commentards' Ball

IHateWearingATie

Don't do it...

It's a cunning plan to get the worst commentard critics in one place and 're educate' them, BOFH style.

Cattle prods at the ready...

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MtGox boss vows to keep going despite $429 MILLION Bitcoin 'theft'

IHateWearingATie

Reinforces my view...

... that there is likely to be no point in the average person ever bothering with BitCoin or any of the other crypto-currencies

No advantages for most of us, lots of disadvantages.

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