49 posts • joined Thursday 14th August 2008 13:38 GMT
Re: such a waste
While the corrrespondent clearly means "would have", better grammar in the chosen context would have been "had". There is in the text a god awful two-fold grammatical error.
Not only is Surrey famously rich, which provides a more lucrative market for BB services, it is the most densely populated shire county in the land. BT is using public funds to cherry pick lucrative opportunities. It doesn't need state funds to invest in lucrative areas where the distances between population centres are low. It may justify a subsidy to go into places which are poor and sparsely populated like parts of Yorkshire and central Wales.
Yet again BT is using its monopoly (across most of the country) to arm-twist the government into financing its investment. Remember you old gits, the rationale for privatisation was that without it, the investment was unaffordable. Yet consistently BT takes a profit then returns to the state every time the publically financed infrastructure requires an improvement. As Jim Royle would have said, "Investment, my arse!"
The view expressed to me by a phone Coop representative is that BT is using the service as a loss leader. It has form on this regard. This means that at the price it is wholesaling the service to resellers, they cannot make a profit, which is why they are not offering the service.
By inference from the contents of the article it might have a great deal to do with the fact that the implementation date for the change precedes the date for the end of the consultation on that change. We could be forgiven for thinking that the legal challenge was not so much to the decision as to the process through which it was taken.
Interesting to note one or the more orthodox uses of that wonderfully flexible word 'sustainable'. In this context unsustainable = I can't afford it.
A team of International Experts
It must have been a mighty high-powered team to come up with this. Would they like to test the hypothesis that bears shit in ......?
Are those billions of phoros the ones google has passed across from places like Picasa? Google+ provides inferior tools for viewing the photos so I still use Picasa
Heath records in a meaningful comprehensible form could get mighty complicated
The S Word
Don't mention the S word. Apparently it refers to a once reputable German engineering company under whose name a notorious bunch of scheisters and technical numpties are operating and coincidentally running BBC network services. Though why reference to it is prescribed I don't understand. I thought these businesses traded on their reputations
In which the colour code changes between them. Red Hat is red (clever that) in one, but blue in the other. Graphical representation is meant to make the data easier to understand, not to cause complete confusion. There are several hundred thousand unemployed out here, who can use a spreadsheet.
What sentient being would want to replace fibre links of almost unlimited capacity and low running costs, once installed, with quick and dirty copper solutions whose only redeeming feature is that they exploit existing infrastructure and do not require the installation of the new infrastructure that has already been installed. It sounds completely bonkers.
Where I suspect this is happening (like my locality) it is because some bright spark with another agenda from another budget is diverting the schools funding to leverage another initiative based on copper. So e.g the council has a LLU project for other purposes, like connecting up the council's offices, which it leverages by downgrading the schools connections to make its LLU project viable. If this is going on the stupidity lies in the fact that future upgrades to the schools bandwidth will be massively more expensive. The correct alternative was to use the schools funding, which was more than ample, to create a proper schools fibre network, owned or leased and then run the other activities across the schools backbone. This would have been perfectly rational legal and economical.
Where it alls go wrong is when some snake oil vending pillock of an outsourced contractor strolls in and in Harry Enfield's best mockney says, "You don't wanna do that!" and flogs them a poxy ADSL solution running at 50:1 domestic levels of contention. They fall for it every time
Places - really - well there's a compelling argument
I understand the Manchester universities owned their own fibre under the streets of Manchester and Coventry has an integrated multi-purpose network, though I am actually unclear on the ownership of the latter.
Your examples are?
More Myths and technical confusion
As a rank amateur over whose balding pate most of this nonsense passes incomprehensibly and uncomprehended my impression is as follows:
The schools sector and probably the NHS own hardly any fibre at all, even the last few metres largely belongs to the telcos. Because the reach of cable is confined to the urban areas and health and education are provided almost everywhere, most of the physical networks and circuits, even when sold by other providers, actually belong to BT. So to my remote neck of the woods the JANET network for the colleges, local authority and schools runs over two 1 Gbps circuits sold and managed by two different Telcos (neither of them BT). Neither of those Telcos owns any fibre in the county, the only one that does is BT and those circuits are both leased from BT. In truth of course the two resilient circuits actually run over the same fibre. This is a rather extreme case but not so far removed from the norm.
Largely it is a nonsense to say that the big public sector networks will be opened to everyone else, because the big public sector networks run over the shared BT and Cable Co infrastructure already. Tis all smoke and mirrors. Janet does not as a rule own fibre. It leases telco circuits over fibre which anyone else can use and the capacity of that fibre is practically limitless.
Shooting at the wrong target
Never mind this non story. Look at what happens when the personal data gets used e.g. in child protection cases for which purpose it is distributed through unencrypted public email. This is the really serious information about what has happened to people under very distressing, damaging and sometimes life-threatening circumstances. We want to take that child into care because the father is a maniac, just pop all that information in an email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you see what is done with the data you will realise there is no point trying to secure it anyway.
And he is famous with a book written about him
It's called Plundering the Public Sector and he appears as IT consultant in chief on the basis of his Accenture leadership background. That's the same Accenture that was allowed to walk out of the failing NHS IT contract, mysteriously leaving the NHS with the infamous ISoft Lorenzo debacle. ISoft was Accenture's sub-contractor, but Accentrure managed to escape unscathed.
Shhhhh! don't mention Arthur Anderson and Enron, those were completely different companies
After the massive investment there are few savings to be made by scrapping it because the cash has gone. Perhaps the ConDems have realised they would look very stupid if yet more failures of communication were attributable to the destruction of the system.
Public Sector Capital Cuts
1. Public Sector IT development is often treated as capital expenditure, precisely that category of expenditure highlighted by our new coalition government for cuts. Does anyone seriously believe that these cuts are about the overpaid, incompetent bureaucrats in the civil service and local government? No, it is about ignorant and overpaid consultants in the IT industry, the private sector, who will also be losing their jobs and consequently reducing their demand for everyone else's products and services. These cuts are not about waste and inefficiency at all - they are about contracting the economy and mass unemployment. That is the agenda.
2. Small firms struggle to get in to the racket as a consequence of the doctrine that they need to be big enough to sue if it all goes pear shaped. Can we have this doctrine re-examined in the light of the history. Just how successful was the capacity to sue ITsoft when it failed to deliver, or Accenture when it walked out of the health contract leaving the NHS to unpick the remains of the IT soft deal. Does anyone recall Accenture handing over shed loads of wonga? It seems to me that when a contract goes wrong, getting compensation out of a big powerful contractor is impossible?
Economic Growth, or the absence of it.
The Commitment of the developed economies i.e. those chucking out huge volumes of Carbon dioxide per head of population, to contracting their economies as in the UK, Germany, France, perhaps to a lesser extent in the US, solves the problem for all of us.
If people do less, eat less, travel less, holiday less, replace their cars less often and stop building houses no one wants (UK excepted) then emissions of CO2 will fall dramatically. Given that as Lord Myners has pointed out no one has any suggestions as to where the growth comes from and that if all nations contract their bloated, inefficient, wasteful, parasitic public sectors at the same time that must mean reduced demand and contraction for all, the Western nations are in a strong position to go to the developing nations and demonstrate that they are achieving massive reductions in CO2 emissions albeit somewhat fortuitously or un-fortuitously if you happen to be one of the 40% of Spaniards without a job.
In economies with massive unemployment a shift to low emission cultures through changes in construction techniques, shifting agriculture from pastoral to arable and more efficient transport systems, ought to provide the new technologies and products required to create jobs.
Myths and Legends
"Becta didn't buy computers and software for schools, but instead drew up framework agreements that bound local authorities to particular vendors and packages."
This is no better than a popular myth occasionally endorsed by Becta personnel and others. From time to time with certain funding streams e.g home access Becta was in a position to force the use of its frameworks, but most of the time the role of Becta was purely advisory, it had no powers to mandate the use of its frameworks. Rightly and legally Becta advice and frameworks have been ignored on a daily basis. The very large numbers of Moodling schools and their local authorities are doing nothing illegal despite the fact that no Moodle based service was submitted to the Becta frameworks for learning platforms.
English schools have very high levels of autonomy over how they spend their budgets, whereas the devolved administrations can more easily spend money on the schools' behalf. An English local authority can only do that if it has specific earmarked funding for the purpose, or to some extent the schools collectively agree that.. With increasing autonomy schools will merely come under pressure from different sources and power bases over how they spend their money. I might have sold my Capita shares but they won't be going out of business just yet.
A contract is a contract whether with a government or anyone else, which is why so many of the proposed savings were such a farce. And in law, contract principles are huge such that great swathes of the law would unravel were contract doctrines unplugged
Watch out now for organizations like some local authorities which have contracts using funds which are about to be cut. Very nasty situation, government gives you a specific purpose grant of x which you then use to contract for services at around about x, government then turns round and says, you know that x we gave you well........
Difficult to make sense of what is here. Much has been spent on ContactPoint over several years including staff appointed in all local authorities. It is likely that little will be saved or any possible benefits extracted from the massive outlay. £ 24 mn looks suspiciously low for what has already been spent.
A Load of Tripe!
The Article I mean, not just Becta
1. This is last weeks news and appeared again on Saturday morning BBC radio.
2. Becta's role was always advisory. Schools and local authorities have always been at liberty to ignore Becta guidance and Becta frameworks and by god they do, daily.
3. Nulabour did not create Becta in 1998 it merely re-badged NCET which was the direct descendant of MESU. I'll sell you a history lesson if you like.
It is not the demise of Becta which is going to hit schools. It is the end of the £ 200 million per annum Harnessing Technology grant worth something of the order of £ 10 k per school per annum, which is not a lot of money, but it is a very sizeable chunk of what schools have left when they have paid the rent and the pfi profits guarantee and put a few warm bodies in front of classes.
Watch out for schools that stop paying their maintenance and support contracts, for kit and IWBs that the schools cannot afford to replace and repair. Watch the return of blackboard and chalk.
Watch out also for those smart-arsed local authorities which have ignored the Becta advice and diverted the Harnessing Technology funds to low-cost copper connections with high revenue costs rather than investing in fibre which historically had high set up costs but is subsequently cheap to run. Their schools could find themselves paying more for less without the specific grant to do it.
Capita share are down 2% on the Chancellor's speech. Short RM.
How Embarrassing - will they ever live it down
Don't I recall a judgement in favour of an extremely dodgy Queensland politician, made by the only courts in the world that would ever decide in his favour, those in Queensland, that internet published material was published everywhere and therefore could be sued under any jurisdiction the plaintiff wished to sue under? Rather as Americans sue for libel in English courts because English courts are more amenable to allegations of libel.
It was rather assumed at the time that the same logic would apply everywhere. The internet is universal, where the servers are is irrelevant and furthermore what does it mean to say where the servers are when the information is distributed across several server farms and constantly moving as a consequence of load balancing, maintenance, etc? Is there a specific server location where my gmail sits?
Purely from an organizational point of view, ignoring the military aspect, if you reduce the preposterous numbers of senior ranks, who are probably creating work for one another as well as conducting their ridiculous inter service feuds and vendettas, you can probably get to the point at which service can talk to service sensibly. Under these circumstance reducing from 3 to 2 services may well be unnecessary to secure greater efficiency and co-ordination.
Yes, it isn't very good with device drivers and struggles with all my peripherals and attached equipment, but I think that's part of the Ubuntu culture. There is an expectation that drivers will be written by the peripheral and hardware vendors.
Schools Funding - Harnessing Technology
The very substantial (£ 200 million pa, about £ 10k per school pa) Harnessing Tchnology Grant continues for one more year until 2011, assuming the tories don't get in in time to cut it, which looks a bit unlikely. Some of this is spent by local authorities and the remainder diivvied up to schools. Local Authorities will therefore receive a double squeeze in so far as first they will lose a source of direct funds and then they will need to compensate for that by increasing charges to schools, which have themselves lost the earmarked marked funding used up till now to buy those local authority services.
From a competent local authority and there are some, services to schools include serious connectivity, hosting, storage, filtered secure web services, VLE and Content Management Services, data handling, management information and security services. Some local authorities have done little more than dole out the cash and let the schools sort it out. Perhaps because the schools ICT programme is shared by twenty-odd thousand schools, rather than seen as one lump as in the NHS IT spend, Edward Leigh's public accounts committee doesn't seem to have found a Schools ICT scandal. Perhaps there is no nulabour throws billions at IT and has bugger all to show for it scandal in education.
In some places e,g Birmingham, judicious use of the HT grant and its predecessors leaves schools connected to Birmingham's fibre grid at very substantial uncontended bandwidths with at least the physical infrastructure in place to provide low cost solutions for the future. Unfortunately, for reasons of geography, the absence of infrastructure, or lack of political will that has not been the case universally and some schools elsewhere have little better than a domestic copper DSL line and will be faced with some very substantial costs should they require an improvement. It remains to be seen whether the investment in so-called learning platform services has been of value.
This loose change (£1.3 million) does not even merit a mention on the record of government IT profligacy. Can we applaud those with the courage to pull out before much more was wasted? Once these projects get under way, no matter how unsuitable they are, it takes a great deal of confidence to admit to the cock up. Usually organizations feel impelled to continue in case they are seen as wasteful, by failing to gain from the 'investment' already made.
How do you know the outsourced contractor has changed?
Well with the same people occupying the same jobs and answering the same phones, it may not be obvious, but I'll let you into a secret. The key is they all get new email addresses. They all change from email@example.com to firstname.lastname@example.org and nothing else changes. Plus ca change, plus le meme chose (someone sort out our French for us please)
"T-Mobile, the first Android carrier"
Perhaps this is the explanation. What the hell is an Android Carrier? Android is an operating system. If the mobile phone market did not insist on tying these products to specific phone services the public would have less difficulty buying the phones.
I want to choose my Android device - pay my £200; choose my 3G provider, pay my £ 20 per month; end of story. Why does it have to be any more complicated than that? Most of the sites I have visited in pursuit of an Android device do not even mention 3G, they just demand an astronomical fee for a bundled service with a lousy lock in. Where's Ofcom when you need it?
Who get's cut
Well yeah right on - let's cut that waste and inefficiency. Its only public sector IT, not like the real proper IT stuff El Reg readers work on. Of course if Register reading specialists had been involved the NHS programme would have been properly scoped, efficiently designed and brought in at a fraction of the price. Its a good job none of those bandits at Accenture, ITSoft, or BTm ever read these pages, though you would have to wonder how an earth Accenture got the gig or any gig at all after Enron. When it comes to a change of name Windscale is still surprisingly available.
It is difficult to see how a system of justice can fulfil its functions if its processes cannot be recorded and publicised. That is why courts normally conduct their affairs in public and are deemed to have departed from a principle of open justice when they do not as when they shield identities for child protection or alleged national security reasons
So I guess those arguing for a right to privacy overriding Wikipedia's factually correct and freedom of speech defence would appear to be arguing that there is a time when Wikipedia can do this and a time when it cannot, perhaps at the end of the sentence period. This could be done but it does not sound very practical. My view is that the plaintiff has a simple solution, if he wants privacy. He can change his name so that he has a different name from that murdering scrote who committed the awful crime. If he insists on hanging on to his name I cannot see how he can be very sincere about wishing to make his personal history private. After all Wikipedia is not publishing his name address and telephone number.
In the UK the issue revolves around the public's right to know where paedophiles live. We can see how that is a difficult balance between the right of an individual to create some kind of life after a sentence, the public cost of protecting them and the right of the public to have information about known risks.
The Queensland bent politician case demonstrated the irrelevance of what country something is hosted in and in the cloud it is no longer even meaningful to say where information sits, so the what jurisdiction question is fairly irrelevant.
Under what circumstances would the telco rather than a service provider like an online bank be responsible for loss of personal data? What telco would be daft enough to place itself in a position under which the transfer of unencrypted data was attributable to the actions of the telco, itself, rather than the incompetence of its customers.
If my online bank facilitates the transfer of my personal data insecurely, how is that attributable to the telco? What is the telco supposed to do about it?
It feels very much as if the EU has at great expense solved a non-existent problem.
Don't blame the Pianist
Defra was created to correct some of the deficiencies in its predecessor MAFF. issues raise by Churchill in the 1920s when MAFF was created. This it has signally failed to do, but even so it deserves an even break and it just isn't getting it here. So the public sector is unbelievably incompetent at IT, see above and El Reg passim, but in this case the incompetent public sector has put the task in the hands of two noted big hitters IBM and the suitably renamed Accenture (the name Windscale has been available for some decades).
At this point the unconscionably incompetent public sector gets hit with a pitch fork (this being Defra) according to which its incompetence lead it to specify the service incorrectly, so the service failed because the department in question did not understand its own needs and processes or alternatively it was so useless that it allowed the contractors to run rings round it. But in this case neither of these holds. If you put your data in the hands of IBM and Accenture at vast expense and these two bunches of bandits do not stir for less than shed loads of wonga, you do not need a clause which says 'and while you are at it remember to count the tapes and don't lose any'.
All that said I do wonder how firms like Accenture get any work at all, particularly given the way it walked out of the NHS mega IT project leaving the NHS to bail out Andersen's notorious failed subcontractor ITsoft. Accenture only got its name because, post Enron, it could no longer call itself Andersen.
Employee Authentication Sevice etc
The ContactPoint consultation is at
http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/index.cfm?action=consultationDetails&consultationId=1644&external=no&menu=1 (keep up at the back)
The DWP involvement is really with EAS rather than access to ContactPoint.
Contrary to an earlier posts on the subject, the shielding process appears to involve deleting the data,rather than denial of access to it, because an earlier bulletin has informed us that information was reappearing i.e. unshielded by the updating process, which leads me to infer infer that shielding was not implemented through access controls. An update of the data should not necessarily alter the information about who gets to read it.
ContactPoint does not hold much personal data it is really no more that a telephone directory of vital contacts, which leads on to one of the more farcical aspects of ContactPoint. Because it is a high profile government initiative, the level of security being applied to ContactPoint, the telephone directory, is much higher than that being applied to the systems which hold genuinely private personal data about kids.
And we thought Carbon training was a fraud
Was that not our immediate reaction to Carbon trading - a trade in the right to emit Carbon Dioxide involving links to spurious rights to emit foregone elsewhere. So I pay someone else not to emit some Carbon dioxide they weren't going to emit anyway and by the way who is checking and how? In return for that I get the right to emit more Carbon Dioxide and no one has to think about simply reducing emissions. Its the magic of the market.
It is analogous to the recently reported Gershon savings through IT in government. There is scant basis for the claimed savings, Oh! fancy that, we hadn't noticed that the savings were manufactured by reference to implausible opportunity costs in the first place.
Scary implications for the public sector and schools
Capita has 90% of the UK schools information systems market and a strong track record of the monopolistic practices we recognise from Microsoft and are coincidentally strongly reliant on Microsoft products. Your solution will always be another Capita product, designed to work exclusively with other Capita products. Capita will be extremely well placed to bid for schools BSF contracts.
Confusion reigns - what is there to protect
Contact point does not really work like this. It does not have its own independent and autonomous security systems. Access and Authorisation are wrapped up in the Employee Authentication Service and the network security policies come under the auspices of Government Connect. These are fairly difficult to understand even without El Reg making a fairly typical dog's breakfast of reporting the matter.
Running a key logger on my partner's lap top to trace the whereabouts of the children to whom I am forbidden access is going to work if and only if my partner happens also contingently to have ContactPoint, which is possible, but the likelihood that she or he is a professional who also contingently has access to the details of those particular children is fairly low. Parents who do not happen to be designated officers with access through EAS do not have access to ContactPoint. The facts demonstrate that fathers who wish to trace their children usually have far more efficient methods.
My favourite issue is that ContactPoint is a mere directory. It doesn't actually hold any sensitive data beyond names addresses schools etc. However, because it is a high profile project and it will be very embarrassing when a screen dump appears in the Daily Mail, it has been accorded high level security status. Therefore the levels of security being applied to this directory are much higher than those applied to systems which actually contain information which is confidential.
And similarly with ContactPoint
According to recent reports 'shielded' data in ContactPoint became visible again when new data trawls (updates) re-wrote the formerly shielded data . Does this not imply that in ContactPoint shielding is implemented by deleting the field contents to render them invisible, rather than through the access controls which determine who can read what? Updating the data should not normally alter the access control lists or whatever equivalent is being employed.
"Of course, government does not have to honour contracts at all. First, because no government can abolutely bind a successor government to a particular policy: second, because they can always pass a law making the existing contract illegal. In practice, there are likely to be some very interesting negotiations in the early days of a new administration."
This must be a candidate for the biggest load of tripe ever to appear on these illustrious pages
No, it is not so and obviously. A policy is not a contract, changing a policy is not a justification for voiding a contract; passing a law to make a contract illegal is likely itself to be contrary to law and before you ask, yes, there are hierarchies of laws and rules about what is legal, there are constraints on the powers of parliaments, there are structures for challenge to law makers on, natural law, human rights, constitutionality etc.
Passing a law to make an existing contract illegal would be challenged as retrospective legislation i.e. trying to use the law to change the past. More importantly the doctrine of the contract freely negotiated between two independent and unconstrained parties is so fundamental to commercial law and employment law that undermining it would be highly problematic.
A very odd attitude for the board to take
In my experience, though it is fifteen years out of date, very few examination boards would put themselves in the absurd position that the students' assessments are being unduly impaired by the bureaucratic negligence of their teachers. While the board's requirements may be eminently justified, this does seem like a problem to which there is a glaringly obvious solution - accept the assignments in the incorrect format .
I think the article is incorrect. It may be a minor point, but my understanding is that the IWF has one single criterion which is legality. It only sensors what is illegal, so it sensors pornographic images of children, but not porn.
Gilbert Ryle a famous English philosopher used to have an entity called a category mistake and this is probably one of them. It is filed under hardware, but one of the principal issues about Apple is whether or not its hardware emphasis was an error. Is there not an argument that one of its key roles was bringing the benefits of XPARC research to market through its operating systems some aeons in advance of its competitor to the north.
Since this is essentially a business history rather than a history of Apple's contribution to the development of technology and there will be readers born before System 7.1.1, should this not have been filed under business?
You have to wonder about the wisdom of Birmingham, Sandwell and Liverpool outsourcing the management of their IT to BT, that's the same BT that's outsourcing its own workforce to someone else.
Anyone for a game of musical chairs, or perhaps pass the parcel, in which we try to cover our own managerial incompetence by passing on our existing staff in order to go and mismanage someone else's.
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