312 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Funny; came across this video about Comcast this morning.
Almost everything in the video screams "typical large corporation, shitty customer service". I can't believe that any merger would do anything to fix the underlying problems.
Re: Quick Win
For 18 months, I worked at a place that had outsourced much of their IT services to HP; and I was utterly astonished that the company was still using them despite the total lack of anything approaching a half decent function. I don't think that HP even pretended to be meeting any of their SLAs; and the cost was eye wateringly high for a very second rate performance.
This plan to reduce head count, cut costs etc is guaranteed to make the situation worse; and no doubt, they will demand yet another increase for their appalling service next year. Quite simply, I think that I could provide better by employing a load of 14 year old kids, straight out of school.
I think that Ebola is too good for the managers; although I do have some sympathy for the staff who must now be wondering how quickly they can find alternative employment.
Slow And Painful
"SAP users were notorious bad at updating and securing their deployments"
Probably because it's not an easy process. Most people that have never worked with SAP think that patching is just a case of running a file (or files) that just do the work and maybe re-start the server afterwards.
Within SAP, there are a large number of steps, many opportunities to screw up the in-house written apps that *have* to be used; and it also has to be tested several times before rolling it out. Plus people bitch like crazy about the time that it takes; there always seems to be yet another project underway that means it really inconvenient to do the patching this quarter.
But the biggest problem is that SAP think that "security by obscurity" is an appropriate security strategy. It's not always clear just what patches need to be applied without some careful research
The last time that I checked, it was £299 per seat for the basic package. The next level was £399; you got a free programme, and a buffet lunch. The full package was over £600 and you had a 3 course champagne lunch.
Personally, for that much money, I'd want a rub and a tug thrown in as well!
Re: Money pit
"In a decade you'll have amortized all the investment "
Probably not; most of these bigger ERP implementations will only be cost effective if it's calculated over a longer period of time such as 20 years. Based upon my own experience, if they are saying 4 years, then it probably means that they will still have consultants on site doing various bits of work in 6 years time.
" unless you've invested a fairly big amount of money,"
I think that is an absolute guarantee. Certainly, this project will be costing many 10s of millions of pounds (possibly into the 100s of millions). In most cases, they go way over the original budget as the sales people work on the basis that once you are locked in, you won't want to back out and they deliberately under quote to hook the customer. I'd not be surprised to hear that it was 3 or 4 times over budget by the end.
"Seems that not only nobody learns from their mistakes, it is even worse: nobody learns even from mistakes of others."
That is very true; there are more papers, studies, investigations into failed projects than you would want to read unless you were an academic researcher. Ultimately, they all boil down to the same failings, each and every time. But hey, what do any of us know about anything; we're only the silly buggers that have to try and make these things work.
"Our marketing teams make sure we’re sending out the right messages to people and businesses all over the world, so they know about what we and how we can help them."
Re-read that last phrase
"So that they know about what we"
"and how we can help them"
I'd say that the message they are sending is that their people are not too bothered about accuracy. As for the help, probably to spend lots of money for something that is of poor quality and doesn't do what it should.
I've never received it either; and if I had used all of the vouchers sent by just one particular pizza chain in the last year, I'd now weigh 30 stone.
Recently had the "pleasure" of dealing with one of their contracts. Nice guys, but I don't think they understand just what they are supposed to be doing, who the customer is or what they need.
Working primarily with technology that is 10 years old or more; and with processes that were considered a bit archaic at the turn of the century. At the initial meeting, they told me that security was their number one priority, but then I was allowed to walk around the site, unescorted for over 30 minutes and not challenged once. I entered several offices, saw workstations unlocked and with passwords written down on post-it notes, stuck to the screen.
More money down the drain.
Re: Dear Banks@ Pen-y-gors
"why interest rates are so low"
It's also worth noting that the interest rates paid to the account holders are low; but the banks themselves use that money to fund loans. Often at 10 times what they pay to the account holders.
Some of that money also goes into the stock market in various forms. Value of investments can go down as well as up, but even so, many of them are making 20 or 30 times what they pay the account holder. (I saw one indication where a bank was making more per day than they were paying out per year)
As for the "free" banking accounts; they reserve the right to make charges for certain things. Some of these will only be levied if you make a mistake, but even so, just one of these charges could mean that your "free" account is costing you more than you are earning in interest on the money in your account.
For what it's worth, my bank keep pestering me to move to their "premier" account. I'd end up paying more per month than my savings would earn in interest over 5 years.
Call me Mr Sceptical
We won't know for absolute certainty until we find a way to either communicate in real time with any potential life forms; or better still, travel there to see with our own eyes.
Surely, there are so many opportunities to advance human knowledge and so many opportunities to make the most of the talents of the whole human race, that this has to be a goal that we should all be looking towards.
(Yes; and don't call me Shirley!)
"...analysts estimate that some 315, 967,516 PCs were shipped worldwide... "
315 million PCs. That may be a decline over the previous year, but that is still a lot of hardware being shipped. (About 10 every second).
Better get used to this
The current UK power generation system and distribution network are starting to creak at the edges due to many years of under investment. (However, it would appear that the UK is not alone in this.)
Many of the hosting companies are trying to cut their costs, so that they can offer the cheapest service. When that happens, something has to give and first thing is usually quality of service. I've seen a couple of these hosted places and I'm not convinced that they are serious about their business continuity and disaster recovery planning. They may talk a good game; but what you see and experience tells a different story.
I've recently had to deal with a number of organisations that have outsourced various parts of their IT provision; their senior managers seem to think that this removes the chance of loss of service and worse, they then don't check to make sure that the provider is doing their job.
As a result of this, we are probably going to see a lot more outages, reduced service levels, loss of business and almost certainly, companies going out of business.
Need an Eeyore icon!
I'd bought a slide rule (10 shillings with the discount we were allowed as students) in '67 for my first year at the grammar school. (4 weeks pocket money!) I used this throughout the next 5 years; although I still had to use log tables.
I remember when the first of the Casio calculators was brought in by someone; we actually organised some tests to see who could do the calculations quicker, those with slide rules or the electronic device. (Damn, we were sad!) Because of complexity in operations, slide rules tended to win to begin with, but as people became more familiar with the set-up, they started to get faster.
After I started work, it was mostly mental arithmetic and manual addition. 8-(
Sad, but inevitable
I worked for a business that had outsourced their IT support to HP (EDS). It was an appalling service; bureaucratic, inflexible and their operators were often unable to fix the most basic problems. They were also forcing people to use badly written scripts, out of date software and insecure practices; it was a nightmare.
The problem is that their sales people make all sorts of promises that senior business managers lap up; "think of the money we can save". But then HP employ the cheapest people that they can find, working to helpdesk scripts without having the required IT knowledge. No wonder that the service they provide is so poor.
I could not in all good conscience ever accept HP as a sensible choice for out sourcing any part of the IT work at any size of business.
Oh yes, power cuts in the '70s
I remember them well. (Along with the Big Freeze of '62 / '63)
Generally, we just put up with it and got on with life. Nowadays, people seem to expect "someone" to "do something" and then sit on their arses whining until normality is resumed.
A shame we can't harness the energy of all the bitching; that seems to be inexhaustible.
Re: Memory and Money
You're correct in that Britain went decimal in 1971. However...
The decimal coins actually started to be issued in 1968, 3 years before the switch over. So the new 5 pence piece and the shilling that it replaced were in circulation together, as was the 10p piece and the 2 bob bit. This had been in planning / preparation for many years before; I believe almost 10 years, so people of the time might have been aware of it. From memory - a bit suspect these days - there were chocolate coins manufactured in the new denominations from about 1964 as a way of re-educating youngsters to the new currency.
And the first modern decimal coin was actually the florin (2 shilling piece). This was 1 / 10 of a pound and was introduced in 1849 (although a similar denomination had been used as far back as 1344).
And yes, I do occasionally still think in terms of how much I used to pay for things; Saturday morning pictures was sixpence, bus fare into town to get there was tuppence. A packet of crisps (with the blue bag of salt) was thruppence or an iced lolly was the same. I used to get two and six pocket money because I helped my step father on a Sunday; after working for 4 / 5 hours, he'd go to the pub and have a couple of pints (9d each) and I'd get a glass of lemonade sitting in the parlour (not allowed in the bar) which cost him 3d.
Re: Capita confirmed that Pinder will "receive no payments for salary after his retirement"
He'll get no "Salary"; anyone want to bet that he gets a gold plated pension though?
Re: The status of Engineers.
I worked for a company with a German parent company; their IT Manager insisted that I call him "Herr Dokter" despite us both being at the same managerial level.
When I pointed out that my Master's degree outranked his qualification, he was not overly happy. Even more so once I pointed out that he didn't even have a First degree, just the German equivalent of an ONC.
But yes; we need to have more consensus on using descriptive titles appropriately.
"somebody needs to check the figures "
Like most other SAP numbers
Until recently, I was working for a large business that had outsourced their IT support to a very large, well known company specialising in that area. (Over 70,000 PCs)
There were no hard numbers available, but based on what I saw and heard, roughly 15% of PCs were not on Win XP; many of the machines had been bought in the last 2 - 3 years and had been downgraded from Win 7 (or WinVista). Every thing the company does is predicated on the end user being on WinXP.
I did ask several times if a project was under way to upgrade; I was given several answers, but none seemed to relate to what I witnessed. Although the out sourcing firm have publically given a statement that they will not be supporting WinXP after next April, they are not going out of their way to organise an upgrade.
At this stage, I cannot see how they intend to complete an upgrade of existing equipment by that date; much of the software they use has not been tested for compatibility with Win7 let alone Win8. Most of their processes simply will not work with the later OSes and they have conducted no work to address this issue. From discussions with other people, this seems to be a common issue with those that have out sourced their IT.
I think that it is likely that there will still be a significant number of businesses that are using WinXP 2, 3 even 5 years from now.
There seems to be a belief amongst the Hollywood suits that they have to remake everything. I've yet to see a single re-made programme that was actually worth watching; and many that were doomed to failure from the beginning.
This clip from Stargate just about sums it up.
Re: Don't forget...
The home of powered flight - Chard in Somerset. (Possibly also the beginning of steampunk?)
Re: Who'd have thunk it?
>>If GDP grows by 2%, and inflation is also 2% then your economy has got 4% bigger<<
That is exactly the kind of thinking that has got us into the state that we are in - and it's nonsense. On that basis, the Weimar Republic had an economic growth in excess of 1 million percent.
>>and your national debt has stayed the same<<
As for the national debt remaining the same, it is currently increasing at around £500 million per day and that figure will continue to increase in size. The only way that this will change is if we stop running a budget deficit; and there is no sign of that happening any time soon.
True, some debt can be of value; but only if you have a record of paying it off (which currently we do). However, as soon as it looks likely that you will default, the lines of credit will vanish and the government of the day (whoever they are) will have to be prepared to pay much higher rates of interest in order to borrow the money.
Re: Who'd have thunk it?
>>Right now is the time (with interest rates near rock bottom) to borrow money to spend on stimulus <<
Except that we already owe so much money that it will take many decades to repay it; in fact, the chances are that it won't even be repaid at any time in the working life of anyone reading this article; possibly during the working life of their children, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Quote from Mr Micawber;
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
Multiply that by about 50 billion and that's the situation the country is in; although it should be highlighted that the budget deficit is well over 100 Billion each year and the National Debt is now over 1 Trillion (and that will increase by a further 140 Billion this year alone). The current interest payments on that are now 45 Billion a year; just a little less than is spent on Education (note that figure doesn't pay off any of the capital owed).
A number of people have commented elsewhere about tinkering with various taxes, cutting benefits; in most cases, they don't bother to check just how much those specifics will actually generate or save. In most cases, the amounts involved are just a few billion here or there; that's a lot for an indvidual, but in context of how much is actually owed by the country, these are just small amounts that will actually save nothing and are more about making it look like the politicians are in control and trying to do something.
Re: Well Obviously...
.. Mornington Crescent?
Check the numbers
1 dollar a message?
How much is stamp in the USA these days?
It probably included women dancing around without their knickers on.
It is actually working. However, they have a message on the front page advising that:
"Launch day - high web traffic
We are currently experiencing a very high volume of traffic due to the popularity of the site on launch day - today, 25 June. We apologise if you are having any difficulties accessing our web pages. Please try again later, when the problems should be resolved"
Re: Personally i'm happy
Had a similar problem. A number of the standard letters arrived plus 2 "appointment" cards, that had fairly snotty messages saying that someone had arrived at the premises to check on the use of a TV, but couldn't gain access.
This despite me phoning them 5 times to confirm that the house was empty and unfurnished!
The last one was the funniest - "I am unable to confirm that the premises are empty, as no-one answered the door".
Civil servants; in a class of their own.
Welcome to the modern world
It's easy to scream at the banks for problems like this; and I have nothing but sympathy for all of those affected, both customers and staff.
But this is the sort of problem that could happen at a lot of places and as more and more business has moved to computerised systems, and then online as well, it means that we are all much more exposed as individuals and as a society.
Those of us not with RBS group could feel quite smug; until you realise that perhaps your company uses them to process wages or maybe the travel agent for your summer holiday. These things are all getting more and more entwined and what affects one affects all; and ultimately all of society.
It's really easy to say that they should have BC / DR plans and that these should be tested regularly. But the reality is that sometimes, shit happens. How will you buy fuel if the credit card stops being accepted; or groceries?
People used to be pretty resilient and local communities would work together. But that is much less likely to happen these days.
Re: Cheap Flights song
There is also a video available. Lolled until the tears ran down my trouser legs!
For what it's worth..
I was actually considering a project for a dissertation on the topic of mobile use. I get the feeling that in most cases, people get more stressed when they don't have access to their mobiles; for example, if they lose signal, if they have to turn it off when on a plane, in a cinema / theatre, etc. I think the observational evidence is pretty strong and some research might well confirm this.
Mark Weiser of PARC first put forward the idea of "Ubiquitous" computing back in the 1980s; and he then subsequently proposed the concept of "Calm" computing where the technology is modified to make life easier. But although we see the growth of ubiquitous computing, there hasn't been as much work in the calm computing area.
I would argue that the problem lies within the individual; most of the people that claim to be working in those later hours probably didn't get their work done when they should. In many cases, they don't understand how to use the tech to get it done more efficiently which is why they end up doing longer hours.
Perhaps this highlights the need for better training?
Re: Good for them
It appears that not only are you unable to make your own thoughts clear, but you clearly read into other people comments whatever you choose.
You sir, are the troll.
Re: Good for them
"all I mentioned was the way in which that concept works. "
Sorry, but that is not what you said. The entire sentence was "Well I'm afraid the entire concept of money relies on robbing Peter to pay Paul but I really can't fix that issue so I await your solution to that problem."
In this case, perhaps it would be better if you thought more carefully before you then write your thoughts down. If you believe that it's my responsibility to understand what you meant, rather than what you wrote, then I am sorry but you are totally wrong - it is your responsibility to make your comments cogent, clear and unambiguous.
Re: Good for them
"entire concept of money relies on robbing Peter to pay Paul "
Actually, no it doesn't. The basis behind the concept of money is to provide a means of comparison. What is an hour of my time worth? One chicken and a dozen eggs; or a half a side of beef?
If you don't understand that fairly basic concept, then I'm not sure that any of your comments have any real value.
Re: "I bet the lunches at the council offices are better than they serve the kids."
I was getting school dinners in the 60s and it was good, solid, wholesome food; although seldom any choice.
Minced meat on Mondays (local butchers getting rid of unsold meat from previous week) usually in the form of cottage pie or similar. Very occasionally lasagne (twice a year?).
Tuesdays would be chicken; usually roasted, very occasionally they would produce a stange watery tomato sauce and vegetables.
Roast Beef / Pork / Lamb on a Wednesday; served with roast potatoes and mixed veg. Sometimes with yorkshire puddings.
Stew normally on Thursdays, usually with dumplings that could be used in hand to hand combat; solid little lumps that really filled you up. I also remember having some Toad in the hole that was actually really good.
Fish on Fridays, normally steamed, very occasionally deep fried, sometimes with chips, otherwise boiled potatoes.
We were offered salads during the summer, but they were very basic; lettuce cucumber and tomato. No dressing or coleslaw. Normally with sliced cold meat, and my favourite was corned beef which most other kids turned their noses up at.
Almost every day we were offered a sweet pie or pudding for afters; and almost without exception it would be smothered in custard (which I hated). The only drink offered was water, which was supplied in large dull coloured aluminium jugs, which we drank from matching dull coloured aluminium cups.
Like yours, our dinner ladies took a pride in their work, and produced good food on a tight budget. But locally produced and sourced food.
Re: Calm down..
Really? And admit that they responded because of a campaign by a 9 year old? = doubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubleplusungood
No council would ever want to put themselves in that position, whatever the rights or wrongs. Remember that these people do not see the world in the same way as you and I
I saw the blog several weeks ago, and thought that she had a valid point to make; still not entirely sure how much she wrote and much was her parents, but even so, well worth reading.
However, I also suspected that it wouldn't be long before the minions of orthodoxy made their play and put a stop to it. The problem is that whatever the LEA did, they were onto a hiding.
Preventing creative thought in a youngster = ungood
Stifling free speech = plusungood
Being seen trying to hide what garbage is served up to youngsters = doubleplusungood
For the council, it is a PR nightmare, made worse by current allegation about their "Communications Staff" http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/council-chief-goes-online-to-spy-on-critics. (2012021377)
A lot of people are jumping up and down in outrage (possibly for quite valid reasons) but sometimes it might be worth taking a deep breath and then thinking about the bigger picture before overly outraged. No doubt there are those that will have seen the photo of her on her blog and would be outraged about the council allowing that.
I hope that "Veg" (Martha) decides to continue to write about the food she is being served, and just leaves off the pictures to comply with the council diktat. She has the opportunity to bring about some useful discussion and perhaps to influence a change for the better.
What could possibly go wrong?
We can trust the politicians; they are fully honourable and only ever look out for our best interests.
We can trust the civil servants; they are totally up to speed on the various laws & technology and would never dream of abusing the powers they are given, or assuming powers that the law does not give them.
We can trust the police; their only goal is to ensure that they catch the real criminals.
We can trust the lawyers; to them the law is sacred and inviolate.
We can trust the lobbyists and political "advisors"; because they are nice people
This has been going on for a very long time. I saw a programme on TV last week where they were talking about the Blue Streak and Black Arrow rockets; part of Britain's venture into space in the 50s, 60s and early 70s.
Comment from Wikipedia:
As of 2011, the United Kingdom is the only country to have successfully developed and then abandoned a satellite launch capability. All other countries that have developed such a capability have either retained it through their own space programme or, in the case of France, through its involvement in the Ariane programme.
Politicians don't understand technology of any kind. Not what it is for, what the benefits are, not what it could become. For any of them to try to say that they support it it in any way shape or form is utterly laughable.
Perhaps all of the staff involved in this should be given the clap!
= "Build Absolutely Not Anywhere Near Anything"
Re: These accusations sound best
When I first read that, I thought it said "Jackie Chan" - now that would be funny!
The Sad, the Mad and the Bad
I used to have to deal with various types of theft. I undertook some specialist training on how to handle this correctly to remain within the law and be able to get the perpetrator to court. The person running the course was an ex Met Chief Super; one of the most cynical barstewards going.
I've used the title of the course for this comment. He maintained that there were only 3 types of people in the world, and everyone fell into at least one of these categories. Unfortunately, from bitter experience, I have to now accept that he was right.
Over the years, I've seen people from all walks of life carry out some of the most ridiculously stupid thefts; magistrates, doctors, police, senior army officers, MPs, high paid execs amongst others. Many of these people often carried more cash on them than the cost of the item that they were stealing.
Many of them pleaded various excuses; old age, onset of health problems, change of life, stress, use of new medication etc, etc. Heard it all, got the t-shirt. Nothing surprises me anymore.
In many cases, it is just the thrill of doing something that they know is wrong.
Re: Whilst I would love to smile ...
"Pensions and funds are not normally looking for high risk "
True - but they often buy shares in those institutions suchs as investment banks, funds etc that DO buy the more high risk stuff. The whole financial market is still very incestuous, with all of the various institutions buying little chunks of each other. This is why things got so sticky a few years ago; and they haven't learned anything from the problems that they had then.
There was a mad dash by people hoping to buy up shares purely to quickly re-sell and make a killing. Basically the ticket touts of the financial world. This has pushed the price of Facebook up to levels that are just not sustainable.
It looks like many of the initial investors will lose out; I could chuckle at their distress, (OK, maybe I will) but I also worry that this will result in the media declaring another "dot com bubble" and predicting anotehr crash. This could then become a self fulfilling prophecy as others over react.
The problem is that we all have pensions, savings etc. that are affected by the twerps who make these poor decisions.
Just to clarify - I used to work for a supplier of meat that went to the manufacturer of McDonalds burgers in the UK. We provided about 20% of their total intake of beef each year.
None of the meat supplied was mechanically recovered. It was all of two varieties; 75% VL and 85% VL (VL = Visually Lean). This mostly came from the forequarter (flank, neck and upper shin) and was usually in quite large pieces; very few were less than a kg in size. The meat was placed in large containers that were 1 cubic metre, and we shipped 12 - 18 of these, 3 - 4 times a week.
The meat concerned was a really high quality product; it all came from beef animals (no milk cows) that were less than 18 months old at time of slaughter. In all cases, we had access to their complete life history, feed regime, innoculations etc. and even had information of the sire and dam going back 3 generations.
(Of course, I have no way of knowing what they did after...)
Re: Soapbox time.
I'm disappointed that people didn't see the humour in your reply - I thought that it was quite funny. Oh well...
"Eating less meat and wasting less food can play a big part in helping to keep a lid on greenhouse gas emissions as the world's population increases," asserts Reay.
Here's the thing; for a very large proportion (about 40% to 50%) of the world's population, there is little choice - meat is just too expensive to eat and the people rely upon grains or pulses for their diet. Those same people won't throw ANY food away, because even if it is totally rotten, it will still be better than the alternative (which for the hard of thinking is starvation).
Those of us in the Western World have the option to buy whatever we want, at any time of year, as we have access to food at a reasonable cost through supermarkets that encourage us to buy large quantities, and obscene amounts of this then end up in landfill. I've said this before, but I am sometimes embarrassed at the amount of food produced that is wasted compared to what some people in the third world actually get to eat.
On one occasion when I was on holiday abroad in a third world country , I spent some time haggling with a shop keeper (spent quite a bit of money but really tied him down on price). Afterwards, he invited me to his house eat with his family; I couldn't refuse as this would have been an insult in that culture.
His wife was delightful, and his children were incredible; the food was really well prepared, but it was a basic salad with some rice, and the amount each had was reduced because I was their guest. Each plate had about two thirds the amount of a normal plateful full that I would have prepared. I felt awful as I was literally taking food out of the mouths of the children. (I went back the next day with some bags of sweets which I gave to the shop keeper as a thank you for the children).
I have no issue with people eating well; i just think that people in the west don't realise just how damn lucky we are. As the world's population increases, we may one day find that we are in a position where we simply cannot afford to buy meat.
I grew up in the period just after the war, and even if rationing had ended, there was still a culture of being careful about what you ate and especially what you threw away. Perhaps we should return to being a little more sensible about what we eat.
In my day...
If it made a bad smell or a loud noise, it was chemistry.
If it was green or it wriggled, it was biology.
It it didn't work, it was physics.
It it involved letters from the alphabet instead of numbers, it was pure maths.
The reality is that over the last ?? number of years, the various politicos have all wanted to have a hand in education, to prove that "they are doing something". So the culture within education has shifted; and it is all about meeting targets, and "improving" over previous targets, and people get rewarded by these "improvements".
And under that culture, it is inevitable that things will then focus on making sure that each year's crop of newly qualified students are doing better than their predecessors.
RIP Phil Phillips - a teacher of science and maths, a lover of G + S operas, a genius and a complete fruitbat that set himself alight in class at least twice a term. A wonderful teacher; if only more could be like him.
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