2033 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
It's still the same old programmes
Whether you watch in B&W or glorious colour, the programmes are still the same. The news isn't any different, the soaps are just as cheesy, the comedies either make you laugh - or not and the documentaries have the same pretty images and narrative, irrespective of whether your telly displays the chrominance signal or not.
The same can be said for 4::3 formats vs. 16::9 or SD / HD. No matter what format or technology, you still get the same old programmes. So if you're happy with B&W, can't tell the difference or you do manage to get away with the cheaper licence then great. You're not missing that much in terms of actual TV content: merely the superficialities of how you perceive it.
@ Andrew Moore
> The standard Spanish methodology in this is to build first and ask permission later giving the "well, it's already done now" or "es completo ahora" excuse.
I'd be surprised if that still works (unless you're building entire housing estates). The whole licensing thing in Spain is a money raising caper. The Town Hall charge typically 3% of the cost of the job to give you the rubber stamp. If you did try the old "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" ruse not only would they rake in a nice big fine, but you'd still have to pay for the license.
You may even suffer the ignominy of paying the fine and then being required to dismantle / demolish your "illegal" works, and THEN to apply for a licence to rebuild it.
> stumping a huge wad for some electrician to sign a piece of paper
But that's what the whole spanish (black) economy runs on. When we got our casa a few years back, Endesa (the local power company) told us that the mere act of buying the house required an outside meter box to be installed - there being only a sticky-out box on the outside wall and the "new" regulations required this to be flush with the wall. Oh, and we had to get a boletin, too.
In practice, the Boletin meant that "an amigo of an amigo" popped round, slapped a steel box into the hole I'd prepared, yeso'd it in place (all spanish houses are held together with yeso: a sort of industrial strength plaster) cast a furtive eyeball over with wiring, stamped his stamp and charged €350 for the half-hour job. Another visit to the Endesa office, clutching said Boletin, resulted a day or two later in a man in a van arriving with the shiny new meter that was duly installed in the box and the classic phrase: Let there be light came true. Luckily in our part of Spain, the "potencia" comes in 3.3kW (15 Amps), 4.4kW (20A) or 5.5kW steps - though actually getting the 220 Volts needed to drive these levels is often a hit and miss affair. 180 -190 Volts being closer to the norm.
The only sensible way to think of the process, isn't to scowl at the inefficiency of the system, or the cost of the paltry amount of work, or the illogical regulations. You just have to take a deep breath, smile sweetly, hand over the cash and consider the whole thing philosophically as the hoops you have to jump through if you want electricity.
Immature is as immature does
> some knowledge that the system is still too immature to handle – namely, the contents of the Urban Dictionary
> Almost immediately, Watson began casually dropping profanity into its everyday speech, such as answering one researcher's query with the less-than-scientific term "bullshit."
Surely the immaturity lies with those individuals who were unable to tolerate such a common and (it must be said) inoffensive form of language?
As to "profane" - look up the meaning.
Supply and demand
> a serious lack of engineering graduates in the country. He claimed there would be a shortfall of around 60,000 people this year
Oh goody! That level of scarcity, if it REALLY does exist, means that engineering salaries will rise massively in order to attract people into the industry.
What's that I hear you say, Sooty? Engineering salaries are as low as they've always been and graduate engineers can't get jobs? Maybe there isn't a shortage of engineers at all. Maybe the only problem is that people like Dyson (who, given the quality of some of his products - not known as "Die soon"'s for nothing) simply aren't willing to pay the going rate and just want 60,000 CHEAP engineers, rather that well trained ones.
> many of us hang on to our sets for half a decade despite the industry's attempts to get us into annual upgrades.
Dream on TV makers. My CRT equipped set was bought in 1988 and ran for over 15 years until it was replaced for reasons of size. There won't be any new TV formats (3D, ultra-HD, smelly-vision) that would make us want to upgrade. So, barring technical failure I fully expect to be staring at the same screen for 10+ years and to never buy another TV again.
After the current crop of TVs eventually go pop, it's unlikely that the replacement would be a TV set - just a piggin' big screen with lots of ancillary gizmos attached, just like 1980's stereo systems: wires all over the place - happy days!
Headline price and REAL price
Somehow I doubt that this will be all the DoD pays for their shiny new stuff. Once the extras, ooops - we forgot's, sorry that's not in the contract's and unforeseen situations that will need additional help at the FULL PRICE are taken into account (which we'll never hear about) I have no doubt this deal will come out to be very similar in total cost to what every other MS customer would pay - seat for seat.
Commercial companies are masters of the art of separating government departments from
our taxes their money. After all, governments have little incentive to be economical or fiscally prudent (and defence departments even less so) as they can always mug the proles for more tax-cash or sell more bonds that they'll never pay back, if they ever start to run short.
So I'm sure MS are letting the military have their little neener, knowing full-well that their sales bonuses are very, very safe for many years to come.
Bucking the trend
> leaving network operators in the impossible position of being unable to raise prices against rising costs
Kinda strange, when IT equipment almost always GOES DOWN in price over the years. Sounds more like a case of charging what the market will bear, than trying to make any savings or efficiency improvements - which you'd expect in a truly competitive industry.
Easy to understand why ...
> Apple did not return a request for comment
They couldn't get to their email as all their stuff had been nicked
The legal / regulatory aspect is just one side of the non-acceptance issue. The other side is consumer trust (or: lack of it). Until recent years all innovation was tangible - stuff you could touch, put in a drawer and forget about, stuff you could turn off and be safe in the knowledge that it WAS off.
These days so much innovation happens outside the area of user control. Phones that track you (sure, you can turn them off; but then you can't make calls). Websites that know everything you've clicked on. Companies that "need" your personal information just to sell you a sausage roll.
The problem is that the ordinary people feel that all this new stuff is
a) outside their control
b) likely to steal all their money, publish naked photos of them, sue them, get them arrested and/or keep coming back no matter how hard you try to delete/remove/turn off or bury them.
And it's not just ordinary people that are having trouble. Even the people supposedly in charge are getting bitten in the bum by their technology: Gordon Brown and the live radio mike (bigot-gate) incident?
Now whether these problems are real or imaginary is immaterial. We keep hearing about problems: people getting their bank accounts emptied, etc. and the fear of a problem is usually the reason for lack of take-up of new gadgets and innovations - not the problem itself. The reason being the lack of trust and feeling of powerlessness in our relationship with these new-fangled, electronic gizmos.
Maybe when every new gadget comes with an "Ooops, I didn't mean to do that" button that simply undoes everything and can be TRUSTED to put everything to rights, then we'll start to see ordinary people feeling more positive about innovation - instead of feeling that they need a PhD in CompSci just to understand the manual.
> “You know, we don't always understand what the singers say.”
On that note, it's possible that Frankie Goes to Hollywood"'s greatest achievement was to liberate the lyrics of Born to Run from Bruce Springsteen's mumblings.
"Beyond the Palace the hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard / Girls comb their hair in rear view mirrors and the boys try to look so hard" - who'da known?
The mishearing song lyrics has a long and distinguished history. So distinguished, there's even a word for it.
However, in the particular instance: try listening to it through headphones - it's at about 3:30 into the track¹ and (if you crank it up to 11) comes over loud and clear.
I suspect a worse source of error in the internet / smartphone age is autocorrect.
 Return of the Manticore, side 3 track 3.
What a waste of a morning
> After studying 400 avatars
> physical attractiveness [ was equated to ] the waist-chest ratios
An alternative theory is that some researcher got caught playing a computer game by his/her/its boss and made up some cockamamie story about "research" and "virtual worlds". Then they found they had to follow through when the boss said "Carry on, I look forward to reading your conclusions".
So far, so fair enough. However the really sad part of the whole affair is that after scxrambling around for an hour or two to knock together some words and meaningless statistics of dubious quality, they managed to find a publication
gullible desperate enough for material to accept, and peer-review, it.
Coming next, maybe: the effect of a hang-over on FPS scores?
> All I see is that the tax take has risen,
Try here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/apr/25/tax-receipts-1963 for another view, It shows that since the 1960's the overall tax take as a proportion of GDP has always been somewhere in the thiry-percents.Even though during that half-century, the amount we have earned (our wealth?) has increased about fifty-fold.
Just a bunch of wiggly lines?
Okaaaay, so the "workers' share" dropped a bit during the Eighties: from a long-term figure in the high fifties, percentage-wise to a number a little below 55 once the hump and following dip from 1990-2000 is levelled out.
Now pardon me, but didn't the late 70's and 1980's see a sharp rise in unemployment / jobless numbers? If you have fewer people working (for whatever reason) wouldn't that reduce wages, too?
For all the words in this piece - some of which I could make sense of - I can't see what the author expects to be done. ISTM the point is that workers are getting less, and government is taking more. Maybe that's true, but that's just slicing up the same cake in different ways: it's not as if taxes are removed from society and the money is burned - it's still there and is still spent. If a government took less off us - to spend on public benefits like the NHS - wouldn't all t'workers have to spend a larger proportion of their increased wages on the stuff they no longer got for free? Things like saving for their old-age, meds, child benefits, putting cash aside for time "on the bench" instead of getting the dole / housing benefit, driving granny around instead of her having a free bus pass (and a free TV licence). So the same money would just be spent by different people, but on the same things. There would be some choice: does Johnny get a new pair of spectacles, or do we have a day at the seaside? but there would still only be the same amount of money in the country.
ISTM the main reason wages are dropping is that so few people make stuff we can sell for a profit. You can't run a country on service industries: such as Taking in each others laundry. You'd have nice, clean clothes but no food to eat. Someone, somewhere has got to make / grow / invent all the stuff to earn the money we spend. Flipping burgers and selling insurance ain't going to cover it.
The basic fallacy
is to believe what people say rather than what they do.
I'm sure a lot of the population would prefer companies pay more tax - just so long as that doesn't lead to those same people being charged more for the goods they buy. So when faced with the choice between buying from a "good" company or a cheap one, most people will let their wallets lead the way.
This is no different from all the wailing holidaymakers who vow never to fly on RyanAir (again), yet join the queue to squeeze their carry-on into that airlines bag-check frames every year.
Talk is cheap, web chatter is cheaper still, yet none is as cheap or fleeting as pontifications over what's moral, or right.
> higher pressure when hitting with a fist,
If hands did evolve for fighting, rather than tool carrying (or to whack other people with large sticks) you would expect that the bones in the hand and wrist would be strengthened, due to natural selection, so that they were less likely to break (known as a boxers fracture) when used to thump an opponent.
Since this evolutionary trait did not develop - people still break bones in their hands when they hit someone, unless they've been trained properly on how to hit - this explanation does sound unlikely.
A better explanation for why humans have shorter fingers and thumbs is surely so that its easier to send TXTs.
Needs a dam' sight more than a chair
I reckon if we filled all the seats from all the olympic stadia throughout the world with the brightest legal minds on the planet, they might, just, have a fighting chance of staving off the combined stupidity of the american patent system and all the vested interests intent on their own intangible land grab.
> like concerts and theatre where you can't tolerate 0.1s delay between actors & instruments
It's a long time since I dabbled in TV (university course, back in the analog days), but I do seem to recall being told that to make the audio sound "right", there's an artificial delay of some 100's of mSec introduced specifically so that actors lips move at the same time that the sound reaches the viewers ears.
So long as the right amount of delay between sound and vision is introduced, and kept constant the absolute time delay between recording the "live" event and the time it makes it through to the TV is immaterial. I often notice that in our house a TV tuned to a terrestrial channel leads another TV tuned to the same channel on satellite (not surprisingly) by a second or two.
The weakest link
> High power users ... can't go digital because of the same quality and latency issues that prevent the entire PMSE industry adopting digital radio
Yet all our domestic TV manages quite well with digital transmission to the viewer. So I can't see the point in having higher quality "upstream" than the user is capable of receiving. If the signal was digitised as soon as possible, there shouldn't be any further loss in quality all the way through the chain, from O/B to the viewer, provided that the signal wasn't reconverted to analog at any point.
Has this premise about quality and latency ever been tested, or is it just the doom-mongers putting up roadblocks as an excuse for not wanting to make changes?
The sad part is ...
> (ACPO) welcomed the guidelines ... as "a common sense approach"
... that it needed a QC to write a report to define what "common sense" was, rather than for ACPO to be able to work it out for themselves.
Re: The internet's Cobol?
> What's wrong with semi-colons?
Absolutely nothing at all. They're concise and give a clear visual warning where the end of a statement lies.
Now, if we were to start talking about requiring levels of indentation .... <ducks, runs away>
The internet's Cobol?
I started using Perl in the late 90's and still continue to do so, today - though our relationship is by no means exclusive (yes, I do compile other languages). There are better languages for a lot of the stuff I use it for, but no other single language that can do ALL the stuff I do in Perl, with the ease (through familiarity) and third-party additions I can simply install.
Perls greatest benefit is CPAN. If any language wants an example of how to make libraries integrate with little effort for the user and less fuss they should sit back and watch as Perl modules automatically download, work out their dependencies, download them without further help, build the whole mess, test it's installed properly and then let you get on with your job..
The code may look ugly, it may not have a de-facto IDE, it may be interpreted, you do need to use semi-colons all over the place. But it's well documented, there are plenty of examples (mostly working!) and it's easy to get started. Here's looking forward to another 25 years.
And you think privacy is invaded NOW?
Just wait until every pharmacy you walk past has biosensors that diagnose every little sniffle (or droop!) and instantly announce to the world: "You're coming down with .... why not pop in for 10% off some Viagra and a couple of lollipop sticks".
Even worse is when these sensors become more sensitive than our, natural, senses: the machines will know more about us than we can tell, ourselves. Not only will drug testing be ubiquitous, it'll be carried out passively and remotely without your knowledge or consent - by people you didn't even know existed.
Only for americans
This study really does need say it's specific to the USA, it really doesn't work elsewhere in the world.
Friends in the 'States tell me that their electricity consumption is higher in SUMMER than in winter. Air conditioning is considered a necessity and is expensive to run - a situation that simply doesn't feature in the UK or wider: in continental Europe. Given that is when solar PV is most plentiful, the american model doesn't fit a european climate.
Secondly, take a look at the power generation prediction website http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php
This allows you to click a point on the map and get an estimate of the amount of leccy a "1KW" solar array will generate. Even in the sunny south-east of the UK, you'll get on average 1kW*Hr per day per kW of installed capacity ... and on half the days, less than that! Brrrrr.
Thanks to the power company, we know that chez Pete 2 uses about 10 kW*Hrs of electricity a day. A quick peruse of last winter's gas bill shows that from October - March, we used just over 9,000 kW*Hr or 50 kW*Hr per day for heating/HW & cooking. So reckon on about 60kW*Hr of energy usage per day that would have to be supplied by solar and wind. And then let's ignore wind power as there are many windless days.
Going back to the aforementioned website and selecting Daily Radiation tells us that an average day in January will produce PV electricity for 8 hours at a maximum rate of 100W / m², or roughly 400Watt*Hours of electricity per day. Thus, we'd need 150m² of PV panels to supply our daily needs - assuming the sun shines during January. That figure would require the entire back garden to be filled with solar panels, plus a few more on the roof. Even if the PV generation is located remotely (rather than each household having their own), this would double the amount of land needed to support each house - and then more to supply industry and yet more for power conversion / storage and transmission.
Somehow, I don't think this is going to work ...
The Multics cookie monster
> created Elk Cloner as a prank in February 1982
Ahem, in the late 70's (possibly earlier, but that's when I first encountered it) there was a "daemon" running around on Multics systems. Briefly, if you became it's lucky victim, it would take over your console and type up
I wanna cookie
on your screen (yes, we did have VDUs back then). Typing "cookie" would get it to go away for a while. Telling it to 'koff would get your session terminated (logged out). From what I recall it was written in PL/1 and was only a couple of pages of lineprinter paper.
Oh and BTW:
> the industry has yet to come up with a secure operating system.
It's not just the O/S that needs to be secure (and there are secure ones around), but the way it's used needs to be secure, too. That's the real problem
Re: Get it right next time
Putting aside the possibility that fracking will cause massive earth tremors that will destroy all our homes, infrastructure and civilisation
Hysterical much? Satirical mucher.
Get it right next time
Putting aside the possibility that fracking will cause massive earth tremors that will destroy all our homes, infrastructure and civilisation, and focussing on the positives for a second.
One of the side-effects of all the North Sea oil and gas was that the UK basically held a party for itself, with several years of lowered taxes to win elections coupled with lots of spending of the oil revenues on popular programmes. All this was essentially "free" to the taxpayer as the oil companies paid huge amounts for the privilege of sucking oil and gas out of the sea bed.
Now this time it would be nice, assuming the windfall is repeated, if some of those revenues were INVESTED in our future, instead. So how about spending the money on improving transport, making teaching attractive to the talented (instead of just the enthusiastic), becoming a world leader in something other than complaining about the weather and maybe, just maybe building up our manufacturing base, so that this "bonanza" leaves something tangible as it's legacy - apart from millions of falling-down houses.
A success by any other name
> no way of getting an answer to that question if you are a lay person
So, at least it's met one of it's core criteria.
Afterthought: it appears the article was written with the same intent as the website in its subject: nowhere is there any mention of the URL, just references to "the site". Maybe the second of the core criteria is to make no reference to the site's address, thus preventing people from accessing it, so it can be closed down in the future due to "lack of public interest"
> online consumption on the move needs plenty of mobile broadband ... Blighty is still the cheapest
People buy more stuff when it's cheap.
The reason mobile comms is so cheap in the UK is because we're all squeezed in so tightly together. Telcos have no need to spend oodles running a cable dozens of km (or erecting a tower) just to service a few households. Instead that same few km's of cable (or tower) can service hundreds or thousands of subscribers.
filers, pilers and mass-deleters
An alternative strategy is to delete all outstanding mail at the end of each day / week / month - declare email bankruptcy.
Obviously it makes sense to have filing rules that drop email from your boss (and his/her/its boss) in some other space. However for the rest of the stuff, once another rule has scanned for keywords (like "beer", a sort of reverse SPAM filter) and acted appropriately, there's little value to keeping most of the stuff you get sent. If it is important, the sender will send it again and if it's REALLY important they may even lift a podgy finger and phone you.
One tiny little country
> take down defamatory material on request
That may work for *.co.uk but if the material "gets out" into the world it'll be beyond the reach of UK law - whether it's defamatory, true, provable or erroneous. Just like it is now.
Probably the only websites that would be affected by those are online newspapers and other commercial publications. However, since one of the biggest (and probably a lot more, besides) have a long and inauspicious history of publishing downright lies about people: who's only cause of action is to bankrupt themselves with civil action, having a way to bring them to book will be a great leveller.
It will be interesting to see if this law could be extended to getting photographs removed. If one could argue that a particular snap wasn't sufficiently flattering, had been photoshopped, or just presented anyone in it in a bad light - could they demand that photo be removed too? Here's hoping we can bring about the death of paparazzi-ism.
> An ingenious gravity-powered light source
Now we're going to start using up all the gravity. At least with oil, when it runs out, we don't all float off into spaaaaaace.
The beginning of the end
Silicon Roundabout got going without any of these initiatives, sponsorships or political interference (some might argue, that's WHY it succeeded). To now have the government pitching in and hijacking the concept for it's own political ends is much more likely to bring about the demise of the area, rather than to help it.
There are only so may people with an entrepreneurial spirit - you can't make more of them just by flinging money or mentoring around. The best thing any government could do to help small businesses to start, grow and flourish is to reduce the regulatory overheads and keep the hell out of the way.
Next step: sue God?
There are more apple leaves in nature than there are in Apple's marketing department. Presumably this application is simply to open the way for more litigation against whatever divine being was arrogant enough to "copy" Apple's design - though in real life, apple-tree leaves don't look much like the logo.
Re: Photoshop fail
I think the hand is on an ipad mini.
Though you're right: it does illustrate just how tiny the display is. Can you really do anything useful, apart from merely consume content, on such a small screen?
Re: What about the no-names?
> If there are any good ones, I wouldn't mind knowing about them
Take for example the newly released Onda V972 (catchy name!) 9.7 IPS, 2GB, quad core processor (and 8 core GPU). Up for grabs at $240 - but is it any good?
It sounds great on paper, but until someone puts it head-to-head with some better known tablets, in real-life situations, it could easily be a couple of hundred quid wasted.
This is what we need to know.
What about the no-names?
Having a drool over all the tablets that your mum could pick up with the weekly shopping is all very well. However we're supposed to be TECHIES here and therefore aware of (if not altogether happy with) lots of suppliers who's wares don't appear on the high street.
So how about a comparable look at the generic tablets available with odd-sounding names on the back that don't get much press (because they don't take out full-pages ads?) but could give the highly promoted offerings a run for their money.
Time to google myself (again)
I am pleased to report that none of the Google images for "Pete 2" are me.
Though I do like one of the Pete2b.jpg shots.
Career advice for western IT workers ...
Learn chinese. Then learn whichever IT skills are in short supply in the CST timezone (China Standard Time) . Then find a low cost place to live. Then brace yourself while the job offers come flooding in -but not in english.
For a short time the novelty of employing a native english speaker should get you a position. But after that, you'll need to have embraced the culture and be able to demonstrate a string of successful projects.
Oh and don't go flashing your iPhone during the interview.
Too much golf?
So why to medics have more problems than IT professionals?
It can't be due to the amount of time spent in front of a work 'puter - my local surgery only offers appointments for 3½ hours in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, with a 2½ hour break for lunch. And none of the GPs work all those shifts (and none of them work at all at weekends).
Now, it's true that their offices are dingy little rooms with trailing cables and childrens' toys scattered around (is this how they drum up business? by booby-trapping their own work spaces. H&S would have a fit, as would any IT unionised company) and poorly sited desks - but that's no worse than a lot of the IT shops I've seen.
Maybe the clue is in the "tennis elbow" remark? I may be tarring every IT worker with the same brush, but it does seem to me that in general IT people are less likely to spend time taking exercise than your average doctor. Apart from the fitness aspect, we just don't get such cushy shift opportunities with long breaks that need filling.
Re: For the average Brit? Not so much
> I want to buy a YouView(HD)/PVR/DVD-RW/BD-RW/WiFi/DNLA combo box, but can't tick the YouView box on that list yet.
Wot? not even a freshly hacked Dream <ahem> Openbox or Humax?
For the average Brit? Not so much
As far as home-ents hype goes, yup lots of talk. However in terms of actual stuff that ordinary people have and use: very little changed.
Probably the biggest event of the year was the turning-off of analog TV, although that was more of a ceremony than a world-shattering paradigm change.
As for 2013? I fully expect nothing much. Radio will go on as before. The internet will have slightly less SPAM and slightly more advertisements. TV will continue on its downward spiral of more repeats and fewer worthwhile programmes (although it's a racing certainty that reality TV will increase, like an annoying rash). There will be a few good films amongst the dross and possibly the same can be said for gaming, too.
I might buy a tablet.
Pulling the wrong thing
It all depends what the "puller"'s motivation is.
Given that a country (and here I mean specifically a western democracy or the UK) would feel the need to deny its citizens access to news and information to/from abroad, what would they have to do to achieve that?
The first thing would be to switch off the landline & mobile phone networks. I doubt that would be too difficult and wouldn't even need the use of (much) force - just a quiet word and a soft <click> in the right ears would be enough.
To do the same to the internet wouldn't be much harder. Forget all the stuff about routing and IP and resilience, the simplest way is to attack the physical layer. Half an hour's work with some cable cutters (remember: to get to this point, we're already well past the suspension of democracy and looking Martial Law in the eye) would do the trick.
All that would leave would be a few hardy souls with direct satellite feeds. Since you'd have to be desperate, cut off and completely isolated to even contemplate the cost/slowness and inconveinece of satellite internet, those few individuals probably have little idea of what's going on, anyway.
But did it fire?
> test the Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board at altitude - specifically to see if it would fire the igniter
Was there any telemetry to say whether the firing took place - or will this need another test flight?
A boy named Sue
Given how litigious Apple are, "sue" would be a good choice. Although it's not a product, it can't be long before Apple patents a method for extracting obscene amounts of money from unsuspecting competitors for very little effort and zero original work.
Shortly after, they'll be sending nasty letters to Johnny Cash's executors asking for retrospective everything.
> serious crime, terrorism and child sex offences
All very laudable ... except we know from past experience of "anti-terrorism" laws that they get perverted, converted and subverted into general-purpose anti-anyone-we-don't-like laws. You can't pass a law to say "this will only be used against people we suspect of .... ", once a law is on the books, it becomes just another tool to be abused: like the chisel that gets used as a screwdriver - it wasn't designed for that, but that's what it gets used for if it's convenient.
So the scope of laws creep out from the well-intentioned uses they were first written for and become just another weight hanging around the neck of our freedoms. Great idea in theory - terrible implementation in practice.
Re: @Pete 2
> *unintended* consequences ?
Yes. ISTM the government "plan" is that every company (not just Starbucks, but that's as good an example as any other) should pay HMRC more tax, but that the tax should come out of their "profits". The govt. then trousers the cash and spends it as a windfall on some schemes that weren't in their manifesto and that nobody voted for.
What I expect to happen is that all these companies will class the extra UK tax bill as a local cost of business expense and recoup that cost through increased prices. I further expect that they will use this as an opportunity to get some good PR - as being "ethical" businesses :). I would also expect that, far from just increasing their prices by the few pennies needed to cover the cost, they'll round them up and hide a price rise in the general increase. They may even have the balls to blame the increase on rising commodity prices.
After that, I would expect all the other businesses in the same sectors to make comparable price increases, even though their costs weren't affected. After all, if the dominant player in a market ups their prices, that's a good excuse for everyone else to do the same.
So what we're left with is higher prices to consumers, increased tax take to the government, a little extra profit to the newly "ethical" tax-paying companies and a larger one for all the others. In due course, those prices rises will feed through to increased inflation, slightly higher interest rates and a small, probably imperceptible rise in unemployment. Those would be the unintended consequences.
Where do the politicos think this "extra" tax will come from?
In the end, any higher cost of business will be passed on to the customers (hint: in the country where costs have risen).
So ultimately any additional tax that these companies volunteer, for PR reasons, will simply be passed on to the consumer. What will happen then is the fiscal equivalent of a rising tide lifts all boats". Since these are the DOMINANT players in their market segment, when they increase their prices all the other retailers will follow suit. So not only will a Starbucks coffee go up in price, since they set the benchmark, but every other outfit will follow. Add in the chance of an opportunistic (non-tax related) price rise hidden in there too, and all that's happened is that consumers will be paying extra for these companies to pass on a portion of the price hike to the government.
Net result: we all pay a little more tax. The "good" companies get to increase their prices/profits and inflation eases up a notch. Here come the unintended consequences.
Too much to hope for
> goods they've ordered online to be shipped to one of its pick-up stations.
> Amazon already has a similar service
Why not just deliver stuff when people are at home?
If all the delivery vans are standing idle after five-thirty and all weekend, too (as all the couriers are organised around business hours, not real people's hours) wouldn't it just be sensible to let delivery people have the chance to earn some overtime, or take a second job by offering EVENING DELIVERIES, rather than create and operate an entirely new, and inconvenient, service.
No need for innovation. Just use the existing infrastructure for longer hours.
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