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* Posts by Pete 2

2084 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Google buys parcel storage service for Christmas

Pete 2
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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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LOHAN's mighty orb launch live NOW

Pete 2
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I was particularly impressed by the video feed from the chase car.

Since there's no sound on the broadcast, next time there should be someone with a small whiteboard and marker to write commentaries for the camera as the day progresses.

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El Reg Movember lads sprout mighty Unix beards for cancer charity

Pete 2
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A different sort of IT support

> not just through the curly braces ...

Maybe for December, those of us who owe our living to the "curly braces" brigade should eschew the belts to our trousers and wear some "curly" braces instead?

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Four key mistakes to avoid when building your hybrid cloud

Pete 2
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The LAST big mistake of cloud computing

... is to NOT have an exit strategy.

Cloud computing is just another fad, It won't last forever - and it's highly likely that one (or more) cloud offerings will go belly up, have major infrastructure problems, get hacked to a crisp or simply get bought up by the next evil empire who will realise that all their customers are locked in and will squeeze them till the pips squeak.

So, on the basis that at some point in the next 10 years, a lot of outfits that are currently rushing headlong ito cloud services will want out, and want out FAST, it's important that these organisations have a way of pulling out - and that they don't wait until it's too late, but design and negotiate a solution to let them say "goodbye" with the least pain, downtime and cost.

However, this does seem to be a factor that is entirely missing from most company's IT strategy, or long term planning, I can only assume that any exit strategy that IS being planned is the exit of the decision-makers who committed all their IT to a single basket - and then ran for the door, leaving someone else to pick up the mess.

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Spaniards Joyn together to hunt and kill the Skype monster

Pete 2
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¿Cuánto?

With the recession ravaged spanish economy, this whole initiative will depend on price, Given that data services in Spain are still killingly expensive (8 EUR buys you 500MB/month on Yoigo) this service sounds like a way to INCREASE telco income, rather that compete with Skype.

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Raspberry Pi daddy: Stroke your hardware at night, land a job easy

Pete 2
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Re: Agencies - or grep

> However, replacing them with shell scripts means the company spends less money, and makes more profit, and pays more to shareholders, perhaps outside the UK. So the overall benefit to the UK economy is reduced by the income tax of one less recruiting agent

Maybe, but there's a huge benefit to the country as a whole of having the right staff doing the right job AND of getting vacancies filled speedily and reliably, with less time wasted interviewing candidates who's only talent is keyword stuffing. Those pluses more than compensate for having to pay dole to a bunch of otherwise unemployable individuals propping up an industry that really has no reason to exist.

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Pete 2
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If all else fails, there's always computing

Even before the term "IT" was coined there were non CompSci graduates taking "IT" jobs.

In two places I worked there were programmers who told the same story. They'd graduated with degrees in subjects like History, Classics and Englsh. Unsurprisingly, apart from the traditional route of teaching more students to get degrees in History, Classics and English, there weren't many career openings for these people. As a consequence, when they bemoaned their lot to their ex-tutors, careers advice offices, anyone who'd listen (or couldn't get out of the corner they'd been skilfully boxed into) they were given the same advice: computing or sales.Some went into one, and some into t'other - and some of those later swapped the shiny suit for the scruffy jeans.

The moral being: the IT world wasn't too picky about your technical skills - just so long as you could demonstrate sufficient intelligence to learn BASIC, or technical writing, or how to follow a test plan. Some of those arts graduates made a success of their computing careers and the rest became IT managers.

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Half of us have old phones STUFFED in our drawers

Pete 2
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Love a granny

> Those with children can pass them on generationally

Good luck with that. You'd have more chance of a child accepting your old clothes (sometimes they come back into fashion) than your old phone.

However old phones, the simple: press buttons, talk to people types, are ideal for the grannies of this world. They have fewer functions and longer standby times (assuming the battery isn't completely knackered) which is appealing. They also tend to have larger buttons, which for those with failing sight or arthritic fingers is also helpful.

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Antarctic discovery: ALIEN LIFE may be FOUND ON MOON of Jupiter

Pete 2
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Reveals our purpose on the planet

> noxious ammonia, nitrogen, sulphur and supersaturated nitrous oxide.

So all the stuff we pump out as pollution is actually scrummy, yummy FOOD to these guys. It could turn out that the sole reason humanity exists is to prepare the way for the next wave of evolution.

Turn them coal-fired power stations up to 11 and lose the scrubbers!

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Bash Street bytes: Do UK schools really need the Raspberry Pi?

Pete 2
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Re: Yes of course.

Coders (or any other worker) will never be able to match the low costs, low overheads and low wages in other countries.

Why? for a start, people in Britian believe in the "because you're worth it" mentality. They feel they have a "right" to a high standard of living: TVs, cars, heating, food, etc, whereas workers in many countries would only aspire to one or two of those pricey goals. On top of that, being an island and an overcrowded one AND one with strict green-belt / planing regulations, there will always be a scarcity of housing. That makes having a roof over your head a costly proposition simply due to supply (small) and demand (high, and growing). So people need to earn a lot just to live - even before they go for the luxuries: holidays, children and a takeaway pizza every night.

Even if we suddenly had a million new coders injected into the workforce there would be no uptake of this army of programmers, they'd simply be too expensive to employ.

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Man facing rare refusal-to-unlock-encryption charge: Court date set

Pete 2
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Re: Very interesting case ....

> So *any* assemblage of random bytes can be assumed to be encrypted ?

That does seem to be the unqualified opinion.

The thing is, yer avrige copper assumes that any collection of random bytes )must_ be an encrypted file (probably because their forensic software tells them so, not due to any actual knowledge they possess). Further, they'll assume that you'd only encrypt something you wanted to hide, ergo that must be illegal, immoral or fattening.

What if every geek in the country spent a couple of minutes being subversive? If everyone sacrificed a partition of a few GB and went on record (e.g. with a youtube video) as dd'ing the contents of /dev/random into it? Once there was "proof" that blocks of random data were commonplace on peoples' disk, the suppository that it must be encrypted and it must be illegal fails.

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Pete 2
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Re: Making a stand.... or just thick ? password? what password?

>> shouldn't they first be required to produce evidence that there is, in fact, something there to decrypt?

>They should be. They aren't.

>A Section 49 notice only requires belief "on reasonable grounds" that there is an encrypted data block. And it doesn't need to be Plod issuing the notice - it can be anyone in Schedule 2.

Which is worrying in itself. Usually it's not the responsibility of the accused to prove that a crime has been committed. The police are the ones who have to produce (or at least suspect) that a law has been broken. Once they've done that, they proceed to collect evidence and if there's enough, the CPS will make a decision to prosecute. I suppose it could be argued that providing a password is part of the interrogation process and just like perverting the course of justice, lying about not knowing a password (or having forgotten it) is a bit naughty. But to be required to provide a password when there's no proof that one even exists sounds like a policeman requiring ordinary citizens to 'fess up to any crimes they may (and the presumption being that they did) have committed at any point in the past - even if there's no proof that the person has committed any.

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Pete 2
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Re: Making a stand.... or just thick ?

A third option would be to deny that the block of data is encrypted at all.

You'd hope that something that was encrypted properly would appear as just a series of random bytes. Before the police start demanding passwords, shouldn't they first be required to produce evidence that there is, in fact, something there to decrypt?

As luck would have it, a decent encryption regime would mean that the only way to distinguish the difference (from random bytes) would be to decrypt it in the suspicious data first place. Only _then_ would there be something that you could be legally required to hand over the password for. But of course, by then the topic is moot.

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Amazon's secret UK sales figures revealed by Parliamentary probe

Pete 2
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Time to bring back the Hansard Principle?

There used to be a way for people or companies who'd goofed up their tax declarations (either by accident or design) to come clean, negotiate a "fine" with the Revenue and get on with their lives. This was helpful to both sides as it produced a quick result AND it returned unpaid taxes to the exchequer.

It was canned in 1993 and since then the only recourse the Revenue has is a full-blown and antagonistic, investigation of all the person's (or company's) doings. This takes a lot longer and drags in lots of expensive consultants & lawyers on both sides - as well as the glare of publicity and the hypocritical tutting from some members of the public who want BOTH high tax takes (so long as it's not from themselves) and low retail prices. With all this current furore about unpaid taxes, it may be time to conclude that too much transparency doesn't really work in the public interest, and to allow some "behind closed doors"" deals to be done, again. With the obvious proviso that "we'll be watching you".

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Where were the bullet holes on OS/2's corpse? Its head ... or foot?

Pete 2
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Long story, short version

So what it boils down to is that OS/2 was more advanced than the competition but too expensive, it needed more resources and was only designed to work with IBM hardware - any other platforms' success being just a lucky co-incidence.

Put aside all the infighting and cluelessness about marketing, internationalisation (where I was working during this time, none of the "internationalisation team" even had a passport) and the turf wars - every new product has that. It's just lucky they didn;t have software patents to worry about.

Given IBMs background and way of doing business at the time, I can't see how such a foray into the commercial world and with a non-IBM partner could possibly have worked out any differently.

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Jubcropgate: El Reg in snake-fondling nude nipslip outrage

Pete 2
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Erroneous zones

We should stop and reflect just how lucky we are, that the busybody who makes these decisions on which bits of flesh can / cannot be displayed didn't choose noses to be the subject of the nation's modesty, instead.

Not only would we *all* have to traipse around in "nose bras", but you'd probably get locked up for picking your schnozz in public, As for sneezing - I hate to think.

Why erroneous? Consider all the mistakes they've caused.

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Thanksgiving in orbit: Irradiated turkey, yam-and-marshmallow mix

Pete 2
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How long 'til "orbiters" have their own Thanksgiving holiday?

Once people start to colonise LEO for real, and transform their habitats from being dependent on resupply from Earth to being able to fend for themselves, they will evolve their own "thanksgiving" celebrations. If history is anything to go by, that first step will be followed later by a breakaway from the "home" planet - though since success is really being at the top of the gravity well, not the top of the food chain - us "earthlings" would lose and conflict that arose.

Generally, wars of independence are followed by civil wars, after factions in the breakaway region starts competing for power. After that, we can look forward to inter-orbital wars (or possibly more wars over the Libration points, minor planets of the Moon).

Then, maybe in a thousand or two years humanity will start to settle down, realise there's enough space, rocks and sunlight to go round and learn to get along with each other.

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Extreme teleworking: A Reg hack reports from the internet's frontier

Pete 2
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What's the traffic sign for "The internet stops here" ?

Iberbanda? Eeee, thee's don't know thee's born!

Casa Pete 2 is 8km from the nearest Iberbanda coverage. However for only a few more Euros per month, we get an HSPDA connection at a "screaming" 3.6MBit/s - at least that's what it dice on the lata - though to be fair the speed is usually pretty good. The only proviso being that you hold your mobile phone in exactly the right orientation, while standing on the roof.

As soon as the aforementioned signage gets moved closed to our place, sticks will be upped and another telecommuter will be on the plane to rural Spain.

I suspect that Spain and a lot of other countries could make some serious improvements to their current accounts by attracting more knowledge workers from the rich, rainy north of europe to the poor, sunny (though we suffer the same extremes of weather, that Lester describes: it's not always sunny in inland Spain, and when it is, it's bloody hot) south. However that would need a fair bit of improvement to the connectivity. Though doing that work would provide a fair few jobs, too.

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Why did Comet fail? Hint: It wasn't just the credit insurers

Pete 2
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A trend, not a case

There's little point in examining Comet as a simgle instance and saying "this went wrong, they did that badly, there were the following external circumstances ... "

The simple fact of the matter is that high-street electrical retailing in general is dying off. It starts with the smallest and least well run - but inevitably progresses to the larger, more resilient outfits. The reason: people just don't feel the need to walk into a store, be ignored or get bad advice and then have to wait at home for a delivery - when they can just go clickety-click in their sitting rooms and THEN wait at home for a delivery. Safe in the knowledge that distance selling regulations will absolve them from any mistakes due to poor choices.

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Why do Smart TV UIs suck?

Pete 2
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They're worse than crap

they're closed crap.

We have a nice big Tosh. A couple of years old, LED, "smart", lots of buttons on the remote control, nmap reports it's running Linux. The built-in formware has a "scan for upgrades" option. Has there ever been an upgrade?

Has there heck.

So we have telly that _should_ be tweakable: it's running a known O/S, it has upgradeable hardware and a UI that is in desperate need of a usability revamp - but there are none, and the ability for the open source brigade (despite my rude remarks about them) are unable to even give it their best shot. Hell: I'd even pay for an upgrade

Maybe the best thing to do with the set is to leave it be. Ignore the Youtube interface (awful), the Netflix access (never really worked) and all the other tickbox features. Just Hook it up to a RPi, one of the mini-Android dongles or somesuch and just use the TV as a big old dumb display.

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HP: AUTONOMY 'misrepresented' its value by $5 BILLION, calls in SEC

Pete 2
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Re: Some of HP's accusations.

> Always get a second opinion.

What? You mean like they're profligate as well as incompetent?

Sounds like it's time to start taking a serious look at all the other acquisitions HP have made in recent years.

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Speaker Bercow's loquacious wife finally silenced - On Twitter

Pete 2
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On a completely unrelated topic ...

I wonder where the burden of proof lies in the claim that the account was, actually, hacked?

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How can the BBC be saved from itself without destroying it?

Pete 2
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Re: The BBC is ... the vampire. Literally. It sucks peoples' money away

> Have you seen Sky's revenue!

>Almost 7 billion quid not enough to make quality programmes?

That's a very good point - although Sky has 3 parts, of which satellite TV is only one - though it IS the largest. When you look just below that headline figure, you see that Sky's investment in programming was £2.3Bn. it's unclear what BSB's (the TV business) operating costs were, but that's less that the Beeb's licence fee income of £3.6Bn¹ AND that Sky made a profit from all 3 of its businesses of £1.2Bn

[1] Inferred from the statement in the BBC Annual Report

http://www.bbc.co.uk/annualreport/2012/exec/managingourfinances/financialperformance/incomeandexpenditure/

That BBC Worldwide returned "£216 million to the BBC, equivalent to 6% of the licence fee income"

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Pete 2
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The BBC is ... the vampire. Literally. It sucks peoples' money away

That's a very good analogy (except that vampires don't exist, but the BBC does).

It's impossible to have a rational discussion about the good and the bad aspects of the BBC, because the only thing that people focus on is the lack of advertisements. They say they value the "independence", or the variety or whatever else. But all it comes down to when the waffle is stripped away is not having 12 (or 18) minutes of unwanted programme breaks every hour.

What the BBC does, by being "free", is to suck the life-blood (i.e. revenue) from the real independent TV channels. How can a commercial broadcaster possibly compete with a corporation that gives its product away, for free - or in this case, advert free.

That's the reason all the commercial channels are so crap. The reason why they have to focus on the televisual trash, the lowest common denominator, the cheap and nasty and the crass. Because they can't afford the money to make good, popular, varied programmes - some of which might even push the boundaries. The BBC takes away over half the audience and therefore takes away the independents' ability to earn advertising revenue.

Call the BBC independent, or "value" or whatever. None of those attributes are important to its viewers. The only thing they really care about on BBC TV or radio is the lack of advertising. While they are allowed to keep that privileged position, the other broadcasters don't have any chance of making the money they need to become good.

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Pete 2
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Independence is vastly overrated

Most BBC output cannot be described as "independent". What's independent about Eastenders, or Only Connect or Stricly? - Or even the overwhelming majority of the BBC radio, sports, childrens', or non-factual output?

When people talk about the independence of the BBC all they are referring to is the tiny amount of their total output that is related to news reporting, parts of Radio 4, the odd TV/Radio news programme and a few political or current affairs productions that are purposely run in unpopular slots. Of their 8 TV channels (excluding BBC Parliament which is government financed) and dozens of radio stations (about 40 locals and a dozen-ish nationals) almost none of their content is political or in any way controversial - so can't be counted as "independent", as it has nothing to be independent from.

None of this so-called independence is worth the £3Bn that is spent on the BBC. You could get the same sort of variety of views by selling off almost all of the BBC's assets and funding an "independent" news and current affairs programme source from a levy on all the "freed" BBC, now new commercial stations. Those programmes could then be offered back to the (truly) independent TV & radio stations for free - payback for the levy.

Even if the government does decide to keep the BBC under its present level of control, we need to remember that the free and independent BBC only exists while the government of the day allows it to. The idea that it is some sort of bastion against totalitarianism is ridiculous: not only would the BBC be the first up against the wall, come the revolution but by presenting a centralised, bureaucratic, heirarchical, single "corporation" they are far easier to control, influence or pressurise than a collection of financially free and intellectually diverse (though the combination of intellectual and TV is impossible) TV or radio stations would ever be.

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Brit retailers tell Amazon and Google to pay their taxes

Pete 2
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Someone needs a better accountant

> if you are giving 27 per cent of your profits to the Exchequer

Profits (like Humpty Dumpty's words - [they] mean what I choose them to mean), ... are purely voluntary for ALL businesses, more or less. Retailers know that if they have too much money left over at the end of the year, they buy stock, invest in the business, improve efficiency, modernise, pay off their loans, run an advertising campaign (a sure way to use up cash very quickly), increase their dividend or even pay their their staff a little bonus - though there is still tax to pay on those last two.

None of this is new, or revolutionary and is normal procedure for most competent businesses. If the people who run them are unaware of these, or many more, legitimate or even beneficial ways to reduce their tax bill then they really have no place heading up their operation. If their tax advisors aren't making these options known then someone needs a quiet word and a kick up the metaphorical backside.

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Easy to use, virus free, secure: Aaah, how I miss my MAINFRAME

Pete 2
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The lost art of simplicity

The best art is created during times of stress: wars, shortages, social upheaval, revolution.

Under those conditions people tend to focus on what's important - survival, love, getting enough to eat. Come the "good times" those same people are more concerned with obtaining more, conspicuous consumption, building their dream castles in the air.

Mainframes tended to focus the mind. They had limitations that today would be considered impossible to live with (yet we did, and did very well) - partly because modern O/S, anti-virus, GUI, IDE and monitoring bloatware software sucks up almost all of the available processing power and system resources. Luckily modern machines are sufficiently powerful that they can push through these huge overheads.

We also had much simpler systems on mainframes. I recently saw the design for a multinational's new customer / call agent system - it filled a wall of A0 sheets, taped to the inside of a"fishbowl" meeting room. It only had to support a few thousand users and (maybe) a couple of billion records - things that a moderately sized zSeries use to do on its own.

The difference is that this "modern" system needs to be web-accessible (with all the security overheads that entails), distributed, load-balanced, resilient and will run, I suspect, a rather crappily designed database (that will have it's original clean design mutated into an unrecognisable mess by changes, bug-fixes, new features and expediency). The design also requires a mishmash of proprietary, bespoke third-party and OTS products bodged together into something should nearly work properly.

However, as someone who makes a living from helping companies sort out the fubars, cockups and dead-ends that their designers wander, aimlessly, into I was glad to see the end of centralised, controlled and efficient mainframe architectures and I am thankful, on a daily basis, for all the complex systems that people design today - even though these dream castles are so far outside their (and my) comprehension that there's a lifetime of assured work, just waiting to be plucked.

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Reader input required: review our reviews

Pete 2
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Full disclosure

> we'd like to hear what you, the reader, would like to find when you click to read a Register review.

First, I would like to know which items the reviewer (or any other member of the staff) have bought for their own use, with their own money.

Failing that, I would like to know which things have been loaned / given solely for review purposes (I suspect the answer is: all of them) or which items were picked randomly off the shelf i.e. are not "special" - and so have a level of quality / reliability that a normal purchaser could expect.

I would like balance. No bits of electronic (or software) wizardry are perfect, so it's reasonable to ask for the faults to be given as much page-space as the benefits. If you want an icon for this I would suggest replacing "stars" with "Curate's eggs"

Finally, don't bother just repeating any or all of the stuff in the promotional flyer. We're big boys and girls and are quite capable of discovering the makers' publicity for ourselves. So please, please, please write about your own, personal experiences as a USER, don't just parrot the sales blurb.

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Hold it! Don't back up to a cloud until you've eyed up these figures

Pete 2
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Backup's not the problem

Restoring it all is the problem.

Sure, for a home user the "A" part of ADSL means you can (in theory, at least) pull data back off your cloudy storage faster than you can push it up there. But try restoring a worst case, of a whole 1TB data set in one go and see how far you get. Even with a 50Mbit/s fibre connection you're talking 2½ DAYS to restore, assuming you can get full-speed for all the time (and don't run into data caps). If you're using flaky backup/restore software, you could find that a break in the connection means you have to start again.

So, the best you can hope for, if you're running a business is that it'll be half a working week before you can get 1TB of stuff restored. How does that fit into your DR plan? That's assuming the plan works - and almost NONE of the DR plans I've seen have ever been tested in a "fire practice" situation.

So far as backups go, store stuff off site - that's just sensible. But remember than no network has the same bandwidth as a van full DVDs.

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Top prosecutor warns troll-hunting cops not to choke courts

Pete 2
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I'm rather offended by that

You raise an interesting point. I have a semi-formed theory that in order to find a statement offensive you have to believe it - at least in some small part. If you have an unshakable faith that the statement made has no foundation whatsoever, you simply do what people have done throughout the ages and shrug it off - possibly with a mutterance under your breath regarding the solo entertainments that the maker may (or may not) indulge in. It's only when part of your brain thinks "OMG, that's true ... tick ... tick ... clang! ... I'm offended" (which is really anger turned inwards in recognition that someone's found a fault) that the offense is registered.

If one had the inclination (and the ability to run away, terribly fast) it might be possible to test this on strangers. Simply go up to someone you don't know and say "your shoes look like two garden gnomes". On the basis that they bear no resemblance to aforementioned ornamentation, the wearer might reply "wot chew onna 'bout?", or just simply "Wah?". However if you make a comment that could possibly be pertinent to their footwear: tears, a smack in the mouth, or the "I'm offended" retort could well be the result.

Maybe it's time we stopped believing all the nonsense that other people randomly remark to us, start feeling more positive (a good thing to do any way) and and secure about ourselves and think up a few infallible put-downs instead of setting ourselves up as victims and turning hurt feelings into a criminal offence.

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Pete 2
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Uuuh - Oh, here come the FPNs

> millions of trolling offences being prosecuted in courts across the country.

Just like the millions of speeding offences.

When the flood of "criminals" gets too big for the slow, indolent, tradition-bound courts to handle the solution has generally been to pass the responsibility down from judges with legal backgrounds to well-meaning but unqualified JPs and then as the load increases further, to individuals in various uniforms who make the decisions themselves and hand out fixed penalty notices (though these can be challenged, but the "prize" for losing is a much greater punishment - not to mention inconvenience and high cost of defence, so most people just roll over and stump up even if they feel they have a good case).

So can we now expect your local plod to glance at your phone / tablet / computer, make an arbitrary decision of random quality and stick an £80 fine to your screen? At least with speeding tickets there's some sort of machine that takes away most of the decision making process (apart from the decision of which vehicle to point it at) so there's at least the semblance of impartiality or equality. When making snap decisions over whether a tweet, image, or website is "good" or "bad", there could be no such objectivity and the coppers' "gut" would rule.

I can't decide though, whether even that low, low measure for our legal quality is better than the alternative of having a government originated web crawler performing the internet's equivalent of a speed camera and completely automating the whole mess. Maybe the best alternative is for people to stop being so intolerant of others - live and let live.

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SECRET 28 'scientific experts' who Greened the BBC - Revealed!

Pete 2
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Questionable credentials

I can see that some of the "specialists" may actually have some useful knowledge to contribute. However I'd love to hear how the views of The US Embassy or The Church of England could be relevant. Also, organisations such as Stop Climate Chaos doesn't exactly make you feel that an informed and objective discussion, with no preconceived biases, will take place.

On the BBC side, what does the Development Executive, Drama Commissioning have to offer to the debate or even a person from the kiddies telly. Though given the outcome from this meeting it's pretty obvious what the Head of Comedy was there for.

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Google, Amazon, Starbucks are 'immoral' and 'ridiculous' over UK tax

Pete 2
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Shareholder power

> Obliged in what manner?

Obliged by the need to have other people invest their money in the business. Nobody invests in a business because they "like" it, or have some sentimental attachment. They put their money at risk (and it IS a risk: the price of shares goes down as well as up) in the expectation that they will make a profit - either though rising share value, or from the dividends that companies pay.

The greater the profit a company makes, the greater the benefit the shareholders receive (and as a side-effect, the higher the pay of the directors & employees, provided they can leverage it). Therefore it's the shareholders who are the main driver: directly or indirectly, for increasing profits. They are a remarkably fickle lot and will dismiss directors as soon as the profits stop coming. However, that's the game. You want investors? They want your profits.

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Pete 2
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Re: First rule of internet forums

> Pretty harsh downvotes!

I guess there's a lot of people out there who don't like cauliflower, either.

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Pete 2
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First rule of internet forums

(well, it's not but it should be)

Whoever resorts to name-calling has lost the argument.

So for MPs to go around insulting these companies demonstrates in no uncertain terms that they have no logical, legal or contractual position that would stand up. I can forgive a 5 y/o relative who's argument against eating cauliflower was "because it's stinky!" but to hear the same argument, with the same tone, though different words being used by our lawmakers is, well, ridiculous.

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Memo to Groupon: Best cheapo deals have a premium tag

Pete 2
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USP - the clue is in the acronym

Yup, we're talking Unique Selling Proposition.

The thing you have that nobody else has. The problem with discounts or Groupon is that giving people money off something is not unique. As a consequence you can't really build a success story on it - there'll always be someone else who can do it a little cheaper or for a little longer.

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'Perfect' INVISIBLE SHED stuns boffinry world

Pete 2
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Re: Be careful where you leave it

> you'll see the outline of it on the grass

Yes. These things only remain invisible until someone takes a crop sprayer over the area and drops red paint on everything. After that you've got a nice red rectangle, even though it's against a uniform red background .... Better make the shed rock-shaped, too. Just in case.

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Pete 2
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Be careful where you leave it

Having an invisible shed is all very well while you're inside it and enjoying the benefits of its invisibility (though those don't include being impervious to carpet-bombing or other nasty military techniques of ridding a landscape of every bloody thing on it). However, once you're outside you might need a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way back again.

Just look out for hungry birds.

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How to spot a terrible tech boss within SECONDS

Pete 2
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A one-legged man goes to the doctor ...

As he enters the surgery, the doctor, still looking at his screen, says "Good morning Mr. Jones, how are you today?" and gets the reply "I'm very well doctor, thank you for asking". At which point the doctor finally looks up, looks him up and down and remarks "But you've only got one leg - how can you say you're 'very well'?".

Well, doctor I've always only had one leg, so to me this is entirely normal. So by my account, I'm fine."

The moral being that if all you've ever known was one situation (whether one-leggedness, or a string of ghastly managers) you can't imagine what anything else would be - so you judge that to be the normal state of affairs which cannot be improved.

Most people go through their working lives being "managed" by truly awful managers: ones who have no talent, less enthusiasm and hate being a manager, but have no skills to move out of that career - until someone finally makes them redundant. So when we do change jobs, we;re just trading the crap for the crappier on the basis that a change is as good as a rest.

Occasionally you will meet up with a good manager. Personally, I've seen two - one of whom I worked for. They are a revelation and as perks go, are so much better than a corner office that words cannot describe it. The tragedy is that the people who judge "good managership" are, themselves so completely unqualified to do so that having the skills: empathy, vision and motivational magic counts for naught - as their bosses, in turn, have no clue what makes a good boss. To them it's just a case of assessing how an individual's numbers are doing.

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The GPL self-destruct mechanism that is killing Linux

Pete 2
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Re: @Pete : Divide and conquer

> I've done this any number of time on any number of distros

and there's the clue. We aren't talking about the self-selected collection of uber-geeks who frequent El Reg. We're talking about normal people who don't know, care or feel it's polite to ask them if they're running Debian, SuSE, Centos or any of the million other none-quite-the same distros. As for whether it's i386 or 64 bit? the blank look you get could swallow entire civilisations.

That people who can do this with ease can only scoff and look down upon those who can't is exactly the problem with GPL software and is the clearest reason why it will never be a usable solution for the "other 99%"

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Pete 2
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Re: @Pete : Divide and conquer

> exactly what things are required by the "average user" on your average Linux-based OS that require "enormous, duplicated effort by each individual who wishes to install" it

You've obviously never had to watch an ordinary, non-technical but scarily intelligent human being going through the frustration of trying to install libdvdcss2 on her machine. I'm sure more than a millisecond's thought would throw up many more examples. But that will do for now.

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Pete 2
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Divide and conquer

> the ability to freely modify whatever software is running on his computer and share it

This ideal is great for the tiny minority of highly able individuals who have both the skills, motivation and the time to do this. So far as making Linux (or other GPL projects) popular, accepted and used by ordinary people, it's completely irrelevant. A theoretical nirvana that (even more than free speech) is promoted by its ignorant or naive proponents as being something it is not - and never, ever could be.

So while a small number of geeks can take a project and fork it, they are simply diluting the brand, A few forks turn out to be more successful than the original vision and yet more forks take over from dead, dying or stalled projects. However most of them offer nothing different or innovative but are merely platforms for someone's ego. (exactly how many MP3 players or DVD rippers does one universe need?).

What this means is that the GPL world is like an undisciplined army - a horde of separate proud footsoldiers, who take orders from no-one, rushing headlong with their battle-cry of "software wants to be free" towards the organised and fatally disciplined ranks of professional software developers. Sure: the GPL-ites may have numbers on their side, even enthusisam too - but superior marketing, design processes, documentation, training and support (albeit paid for) is no match for the unwashed marauders who's doom is inevitable - even if they happen to be right.

So instead of GPL software being a directed force. Applied to fixing the problems that everyday users want fixed and supplying a free, ubiquitous, easy to use, flexible solution that would be universally adopted at low cost and without borders we have a balkanised, unstable source of software. Instead of being usable by "the average person" it requires enormous, duplicated effort by each individual who wishes to install some of its parts - usually requiring a whole load of other dependent parts, too.

What will be GPL's epitaph? Instead of a headstone, reading "We made software for everyone to use", there will be a series of tiny pebbles with poorly spelled inscriptions scratched on them - mostly the same, that when put together will read: A Lo'st oporrtinity LOL"

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Judge drops TV ad-block block: So how will anyone pay for TV now?

Pete 2
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Could herald TV's renaissance

> but logistically it's nonsense and a decision we might all live to regret.

It could also be the best thing to happen to TV since sliced bread advertisements.

Instead of having to write shows in 10 minute chunks, to be ad-break friendly, writers would have the freedom to produce, long, flowing scenes and to break the "action" into logical, rather than times, sections. It would allow programmes to break from from the staid, formulaic formats they presently have and to produce new, innovative patterns (providing the current, awful, level of TV writing can be kicked up a notch or ten). And it would allow a full 60 minues of programming per hour - as opposed to the current standard of 12 or 18 minutes of advertisements, that is de rigeur - and give the BBC a serious pause for thought.

Better yet, by requiring a better way of financing programmes, we might find that a true PAYG or subscription model comes into being. Where people only have to pay for the programmes they choose to watch, and continue watching. Rather than the hit and miss "half of everything we spend on advertising is wasted - but nobody knows which half" model we have at present - that just annoys and gives the audience a reason to switch channel.

Finally (and here's the controversial bit), by doing away with a large source of advertising, the average couch potato might not feel so pressured, or manipulated, into buying all the unnecessary garbage we currently get cajoled into thinking we must have, RIGHT NOW. Since most of the stuff we buy is imported, it'll have little affect on our industrial output (what's left of it), but could do wonders for our personal wealth. You never know, people might even start saving again.

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Revealed! Prime Minister's iPad 'dashboard' for controlling Britain

Pete 2
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The big red button

So does that terminate a call, or launch our nukes?

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Medical scan record that the NHS says will cost £2k to retrieve: Detail

Pete 2
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A lesson to us all

> although the scan is still on file ... it is stored in a format that can no longer be read by the hospital's computers.

A backup (or archive) is only a backup if you can restore it. Just copying stuff to some other location/format is pointless until you've verified you can read it back.

Although the hospital says they can read the file (given access to the right kit), they can't be sure it hasn't been corrupted. So until they try to access the scan there's no guarantee the scan still actually exists - just that the physical medium on which it's stored is present.

You'd hope that if the NHS does go to the effort of acquiring hardware to read this scan, they'll take the opportunity of transferring all their other MOD media onto something a little more modern, rather than just doing a one-off and shipping the reader back from whence it came. Presumably there are lots of other NHS shops in the same situation, so with even the slightest use of initiative, the cost of this activity could be shared. I hold out very little hope ...

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ALIEN DETECTION was SUPPRESSED by the BBC - top boffin

Pete 2
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Random acts of management

This decision (even thought there's bound to be more in it than we've been told) is bizarre, but well in keeping with lots of other BBC decisions - and compares well with some of the decisions they make regarding programme commissioning, cancellations, scheduling and content.

The BBC is simply too big to manage effectively. That's why it seems to have evolved lots of little (or big) fiefdoms that seem to act independently of their charter, the DG's wishes or public opinion. While they pride themselves in being "independent" of government, they are also independent of the country as a whole and only distantly related to common sense. That is the only reason I can think of for why they have developed such a knack for pinning KICK ME signs on their own arses. For which they duly and frequently get the result due to them.

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Widow lost savings in Facebook stock, sues all concerned for $1.9m

Pete 2
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Buyers remorse?

> No, she's not disappointed by a loss in the market, she's disappointed by illegal activity on the part of the banks and brokerages.

I kinda think it IS all to do with her losses. She wouldn't be suing all and sundry if the price had risen. unless she gets "pain and suffering" from trying to work out all the ways she could spend the profits she made.

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Bald? Looking old before your time? Don't panic, but you might DIE

Pete 2
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So to prevent a heart attack

... all you have to do is shave your head and cut off your ears?

Hmmm, tricky one - what would hold my spectacles on?

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Cockatoo grabs his tool, manages to get hold of boffins' nuts

Pete 2
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And after he'd made his tool ...

... he tweeted about it. Maybe not so clever, after all.

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Mmm, what's that smell: Coffee or sweat? How to avoid a crap IT job

Pete 2
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Re: My own tips...

> 1) What is a typical day (or week) in the life of this job?

> 2) What hard problems are you facing right now?

The answer to question #2 is: trying to think of a convincing answer to question #1

I have been asked #1 when I've been recruiting people. The problem is that without a great deal of background information and often an intimate knowledge of the particulars of the work situation and project(s) in play, just saying "Well, I spent the morning writing a cost case for upgrading the ... and later I was configuring some mobile gizmos for our Android doo-hickey". It's a bit like the answer you give your spouse when he/she/it/them asks if you "had a good day at work, dear?" Nobody really wants to hear the detailed answer.

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