1923 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 14:47 GMT
Productivity != Creativity
Most office workers produce very little of any actual worth. Unless you count as useful sending numerous emails to hordes of people about things they don't care about (and probably won't read, anyway).
Far better than spending your travel time on the administrative equivalent of a hamster's wheel is to sit back, clear your mind and use the opportunity for some blue-sky thinking. All it would take would be one really good idea from one talented individual to recoup the whole cost of this new train-set.
> what kind of wanker messes around shooting at 1am anyway?
The kind who didn't buy enough beer to drink himself into a stupor, perhaps?
Better than the alternative
I always assumed the country was run by a handful of tax-exiles, the popular press, some civil service mandarins and Simon Cowell.
Be careful what you wish for
So, presuming that CERN have spotted the Higgs. What's next?
In the popular mind the only reason for the billions spent on the LHC was to find the Higgs (before the yanks did). If it turns out that the scientists there have achieved that goal, how will they justify to the public spending oodles more euros?
Sure, from a scientific perspective, this is just one step down the path to enlightenment - but for yer avrige tabloid reader, how can they be sold the idea that there's still a lot more work to be done.
Unlike the moon landings where public interest dwindled after the "been there, done that" box got ticked, I hope that CERN soon manage to discover another great problem that needs even more billions, or the supercooled LHC could become the world's fastest ice-rink. Whetever CERN do propose for ongoing research, they're going to have their work cut out trying to get a catchier (if equally spurious) name than The God Particle.
For the most monumental screwups ...
don't focus on the sysadmins (competent, incompetent, overworked, lazy or malicious). Instead look at the system designers. Ultimately they are the ones who make the biggest, most expensive, longest lasting cockups imaginable - and some that extend a long, long way beyond what anyone thought was the limit of human stupidity.
The problem with trying to point the finger at the designers is that by the time the scale of their errors is known, it's all far too late. The systems go live, despite everyone knowing that they're utterly doomed. The processes needed to use and maintain them are complicated, error prone, people-intensive and unreliable. However the blame is never passed to those who created the shambles, it's always attributed to the person who pressed the badly designed button.
Re: how would you tell the difference
Simple. The fish on the screensaver aren't holding a sign to the webcam saying
Buy a new filter QUICK!
> instead of giving them crap... give them all the future stuff... then in 5 years they can be my boss
And the first they'll do is kick you into touch and bring in new, younger (than them) replacements as you won't have any relevant technical skills left.
Your first (some would say only) allegiance is to yourself, not to some newbie trainee. As such it's your responsibility to keep yourself current, in technical terms. Bringing in a subordinate is the ideal - possibly the only - way to free up enough of your time to learn a new language, or technique. It also helps the young 'un by giving them background in the stuff the operation is currently running on. Better; they have someone there to ask about things they don't understand, rather then being dropped in head-first if they'd simply been recruited as your replacement.
Sadly, nobody coming into IT these days has any sort of career path expectation. So it's unlikely that you'll be able to give your apprentoid a (manly) hug and say "someday, my son, all this will be yours" as in all likelihood it'll be shipped off to the far-east within a few years and both you and your protoges will be plodding the streets, wondering where it all went wrong. Yhat's the reason young people don't go into IT - lack of prospects, not because of dull work.
Talking the piss?
> Not only do we want to turn some heads and get people talking
Hopefully the heads won't be turned while "in full stream". It could get messy.
I'm just waiting for the first lawsuit claiming electrocution from a faulty unit.
Pain In The Orifice?
> "I don't want this to be PITO ..." said May.
And yet, it almost certainly will be. Although this body is being set up to reduce costs, in practice it's just another layer of administration, waste and confusion. I'm not convinced that anything the government does to centralise services ever results in a cost saving - it just results in more civil servants.
Put it in perspective
The article quotes government figures for the costs of this compliance. They bandy around £1m here and £53m there, as if we're supposed to throw up our hands in horror. What they keep very close and don't tell us is what these figures are as a proportion of everyday business costs across the whole country.
I realise that businesses don't like the idea of people actually having to give consent before they squirrel away terabytes of our personal information - just so they can pester us with adverts for stuff we don't want. However given the costs and turnover of british industry, even £147m in additional expenditure (or "jobs", as the traditionalists would have it) seems like a tiny drop in a very large ocean.
An equal and opposite reaction
It's hard to see how this will, in the long term, be anything other than a smokescreen. Assume for the sake of argument that the bill-payer in your household says "yes, filter me". How long will it take for workarounds to be developed, promoted and sold? Will there then be another law to make the circumvention of "active choice" illegal? [ This initiative sounds like it's capable of knocking "unlimited" off the top spot as the most abused word or phrase in internet parlance ]
Who will decide which sites become subject to
censorship "choice". If you only want to block nasty smut, but let "good" smut through, will there be a half-choice, or the possibility of choosing "choice" only after certain times?
The biggest question though, is who will get to see what you've chosen. Will the information be made available to a police check? Will the register of choosers, or non-choosers be published for all to see? Can people who've chosen not to choose "choice" be employed to look after children? Will your employer, or prospective employer, get wind of your choices?
It seems to me that until the details have been bedded-in and a few test cases run through the courts, the only sensible solution is to fall in line with the sheep, choose choice and quietly explore the chinks in the choices.
Can we employ the same standards for our politicians?
Science is not a democracy
Just because the majority of the (uninformed and unqualified) public believe something to be true, doesn't make it so. The real world doesn't work like that - although I wouldn't be surprised to hear that most people think it should, and thus it shall be.
Just like we can't hold a referendum and vote away inflation, recession or other economic woes (and denying evolution doesn't make it stop - except among the deniers).
So it doesn't really matter what the majority of people think, hope or wish for. Science will still go on according to the Laws of Thermodynamics. The world will continue in its orbit as described by the Laws of Kepler and Einstein and politicians will still appeal to peoples' vanity by telling them that who they vote for will make a difference. All we can do is work out what the hell is ACTUALLY happening and use the best judgement of the small number of independent, yet qualified, souls to consider if anything can or should be done about it.
Que cera cera
> I suspect it's USB related
Could well be. My usually tame (if slow) Pi took an instant dislike to a cheap and nasty self-powered USB hub that I tried connecting to it. I didn't have to have anything plugged into the hub, it's mere presence on the USB was enough to turn the Pi into Crumble.
All the other hubs I've tried have been fine - just that one seem to cause problems.
A smuggler's dream?
Wow, an indetectably small, self-powered, autonomous vessel that can be programmed with a destination then just pushed off and it finds its own way there. Best of all, it's cheap. I wonder if the designer will be inundated with orders from exactly the sort of customers he doesn't want to deal with - but finds it impossible (or just unhealthy) to turn away.
That is, if it doesn't fall foul of the Gulf Stream and end up in Norway.
How long is a piece of string?
What seems to happen is that one set of vested interests in the USA calls in a favour that their financial backing of politicians elections bought they (at least their politicians are honest: once bought, they stay bought) and "remind" said
puppet lawmaker about all the goodness they've received - and now it's time for the quid pro quo.
Since the politician has nothing to gain from standing up for the little guy - he's a brit, so will never vote for an american politician - and a lot to lose from annoying his paymasters, so the extradition is demanded. The puppet strings are therefore extended across the Atlantic and the american government asks (a word that loses a lot in translation - "demands" is closer) for the warrant to be executed.
Again, the british Home Secretary has nothing to gain from annoying his/her/its puppet-master and a lot to lose from incurring their ire. So the form gets stamped and "justice" is done.
A guy gets shipped off to a foreign country. One where he cannot raise any sort of defence as the costs of flying witnesses over (at his expense), accommodating them until the trial calls them (again, he pays) and paying for an american defence team is crippling - even for british millionaires who've been shafted by this form of "justice". Hence he does what almost everyone else in his position does: makes a deal. Not only does that prove, in the eyes of their law, that he's guilty but it also justifies back to the HomSec that he/she/it was right in approving the extradition - "look, he pled guilty!"
In fact all that's happened is a commercial interest in one country has pulled the strings of a tame politician, who has yanked the chain of an emasculated and disinterested british minister. The level playing field of law then gets tilted massively in favour of the company and the defendant has no choice but to roll over, thus completing the circle and proving to all involved that the system works.
Re: RBS: "No evidence" this is connected to outsourcing
> This could/would have happened just as easily if it had been outsourced within the UK .... It is about the loss of experienced staff.
Yes, that's what I mean. And if it had happened with UK outsourced staff the topic of overall skill level would be openly discussed in the press. However, I get the impression that the silence (article in The Daily Mash notwithstanding) on the question is because people are too scared to broach the subject for fear of being labelled - even if they don't have a position on in; one way or the other.
Re: RBS: "No evidence" this is connected to outsourcing
Once is unlucky, twice is a coincidence. It's only after the third major crunch that someone would start asking questions.However, nobody in the bank would ever dare anything in public - there's too much hysteria about racism to open that particular can of worms
Though the important question would be: Can Natwest's customers survive another 2 outages?
It's also possible that the generation X's and Y's have experienced security problems (as the article says) and come to the conclusion that they're not that serious. Whereas the older users are more wary and consider that the internet is jam-packed full of scammers, con artists, viruses and phishing sites - all of which will suck your bank account dry (assuming the bank's online systems are working) as soon as you click on the site's link.
The younger users may well have encountered some of these "threats" and discovered that apart from some small inconvenience - such as having to run a cleaner, or fire up their AV suite - that nothing bad has actually happened: they didn't lose all their passwords, their bank accounts were left intact and nobody hacked their contact lists. Hence they're less scared of the consequences, having been there, experienced the actuality of an "attack" and come out smiling.
Alternatively, maybe the oldies just run Linux?
who can't subtract?
should read: ".... that 2½ inch loss ..."
Re: Who needs it?
> But those two pages are going to be pretty short pages
That's the problem. With my old 23 inch 4:3 CRT I got a vertical height of 13.8 inches (sorry for the archaic units). That was good enough to display an A4 document at full size, or a portrait-formatted web page, given the amount of screen space lost at the top of the page with toolbars, menus etc.
To get the same height with a 16:9 screen, you'd need a stonkin' great 28 inch display - a 23 incher providing a paltry 11.3 inches. That 1½ inch loss is more significant as the applications overheads are constant (say an inch for all their clutter, usually more, irrespective of screen size or ratio) so the smaller height directly impacts the stuff you want to see most.
What's more interesting than peoples' reticence to switch banks is their reluctance to have more than one current account. We know, some through experience and some through sage advice, that it's unwise to only have 1 front-door key or a single kidney. Sure, you can get by with just the one but having a spare is a good move. Come the day you really, really need that fallback, it's already too late to try to get one.
As the article says, changing banks is easy. So is opening a new account. Having access to two sources of money (and maybe two separate credit cards - wallets do get lost, handbags do get stolen) is just as sensible - and it's free.
Sure, you get double the amount of paperwork. But in these days of internet banking it's just another password, or security dongle, to keep track of. The upside is that you don't have all you eggs in the same basket. So a bit of "local difficulty" with one bank's inept IT doesn't turn an inconvenience into a crisis.
Who needs it?
Leaving aside the obvious marketing benefit of "Bigger, Better, Faster, More", let's step back for a second and consider.
There seem to me to be two types of laptop user: those who primarily want to watch videos and everybody else. For the video-watchers, the 16:9 format is ideal but for everyone else it's terrible - especially for "business" users who deal mainly in A4-portrait format documents and people who surf a lot, as most websites are STILL designed for tall-thin, "page" form factor web content.
So we have a whole generation of laptops that are optimised for watching TV and films - oh and playing games maybe, to the detriment of everyone else. Now unless those media consumers are watching their shiny, glossy screens in perfect darkness the quality of what they see is always going to be compromised: by glare and reflected light.
So given all that, you have to ask: can yer average lappy user benefit from sooper-dooper screen technologies and resolutions that need an electron microscope to view adequately? Given that there's been no real drive to improve laptop screens since the early days (my 1996 vintage Olivetti sported a 1024x768 screen, I guess that would be "HD" by today's standards), I can only assume that the current crop of high resolutions is only being marketed on a "becauwe we can" basis as part of the BBFM principle.
There's the problem - right there
> Twenty-year-old models which have suggested serious ice loss in the eastern Antarctic
Now if they'd used proper scientists instead of people who wander around on catwalks, maybe they'd have got some better data.
And to say that an Elephant Seal is better at doing climate surveys makes you wonder why we're spending so much money on obviously under-qualified scientists, too.
> Almost all of the people I know who studied arts and humanities degrees in the past few years are paying back their student loans at higher rate than they have to, much faster than my friends who studied IT or science at university as a matter of fact.
No, they're only doing that because they're not very good at maths.
A student loan is the cheapest source of capital an individual will ever get. The interest charged on it is guaranteed to NEVER exceed the rate of inflation (meaning that over time, it's value will decrease naturally). Therefore the best approach is to pay it back as slowly as the system allows and put any "surplus" earnings into a savings account to earn the ex-student a nice little slice of interest.
The hard sell
I doubt that kids from any time in the past 20 years, brought up on a diet of MTV and more extreme, would be the slightest bit affected by this video. The "problem" only occurs because older people think (wrongly) that this will influence them. It's the same sort of patronising, or merely ignorant, attitude that some people have towards smut: "It doesn't affect ME, but I'm concerned about the effect it will have on others"
If the EU wants to get girls interested in science, they should get Adele to write a song about how sad it makes her feel. Or better yet, stop presenting science on TV (in fiction and in fact) as nerdy, geeky and only appropriate for social misfits
Re: I read that as an expired cat!
> Have you ever seen the damage that mice will do to the wiring under the floor of the server room?
Yeah, the USB ones are the worst.
Re: that's what happens
> of course "lessons will be learnt"
Generally the lesson that is learnt is that the bank in question can futz around for this, particular, length of time without anything bad happening to it's senior staffs' employment prospects, the bank's long-term reputation or in regard to shareholder backlash.
No doubt when RBS carry out a post-mortem, they won't actually find the root cause of the problem (it's the network, stoopid!) but will blame some third-party: either outsourced, software supplier or infrastructure. They will then issue a suitably
smug contrite press release about how they've "taken steps to make sure this never happens again", award themselves large bonuses for the successful cost-savings, take the regulator out for a very good lunch and prepare their CVs to move on and stick it to the next financial institution on the list.
> People should be free from the worry of some high-tech Peeping Tom technology
But isn't that exactly what all these american drones (UAVs, not people) do in all the countries they're currently bombing the crap out of? He should be glad that the likes of Apple and Google are only taking photographs.
The 'art of the matter
> arts and social sciences students, according to the Chinese news site, which reported that many felt the "work experience" was irrelevant to their studies.
A "proper job" might be irrelevant to these students' studies, but it will provide invaluable experience for what they'll probably end up doing after they graduate. As for the wages and deductions they get, isn't that just par for the course?
Maybe the UK could ship some arts and SS industrial placement students out to Foxconn for a taste of real-world jobs, too.
A taste of things to come
> a one-off designed to boost Windows 8
Or maybe it's a toe in the water to see how successful a single-sourced combination of: hardware, O/S and walled-apps; can be? MS must have an envious eye on Apple who have managed to close off all competition to their devices by locking the hardware and O/S together and only allowing apps that pay them a tribute for the privilege of running on their machine.
The trick is to persuade punters that this isn't just a mix of Windows8, and a tablet - it's a SYSTEM. Integrated, easy to buy (with none of that pesky "installation") and easy to use. Given the margins Apple makes on it's "buy everything from us" systems, the only surprise is that MS didn't do this years ago.
If I was a PC maker, or not on the list of most-blessed suppliers for Surface, I'd be getting a bit worried that my business could simply evaporate if this is a success.
Re: Cause or effect?
> The fact is there's plenty of new stuff but creating new stuff requires risk. It is simply easier to resell your old stuff to people who haven't seen it yet:
Good point. And very long copyright terms rewards the endless promotion of non-risky old stuff over going out on a limb and creating something new. If copyright was limited to (say) a single generation - 20 or 30 years - then that would decrease the value of a product, but would incentivise people to create new ideas (or even to pick up the out-of-copyright "classics" in new ways). I reckon it would generate more new content, though the old stuff would still be available if people wanted it.
Still living the dream
> extending copyright terms beyond absurdity,
The reason that vested interests keep pushing (and winning) ever longer copyright terms is that these old, ancient, "properties" are still very successful. A pertinent question would be: why?
Surely in the past 20, 30, 50 even 80 years someone, somewhere - with all the technology, marketing and production techniques at their disposal - would have made Mickey Mouse (c) (tm) and friends obsolete. The sad fact that there is STILL so little material that can compare with its popularity speaks volumes for the lack of originality, imagination and willingness to try new things.
We see popular music reinvent itself every 10-ish years (although the old stuff remains popular with the generations that grew up with it). But for children of today to still get fed the same saccharin-sweet, superficial culture that hasn't changed in 2 or 3 generations of childhood makes me think something is very wrong.
Is it time for the cult of Disney to go through a "punk revolution"? Maybe bring back the original, unexpurgated versions of Grimm's Fairy Tales
The author doesn't need to [outline the process ...], the spokesperson is quoted as saying
We are well aware of the commercial value of the data,
So since they are already well aware of its value, all they had to do was ask for that amount. If Google declined, then it would seem that this value had been set unrealistically high.
I wonder if all the extra-curricular business fondling makes up for the time used during the working day on personal fondling? If so, it's just a time-shifting phenomenon, not extra work.
Re: Why the delay in filing charges? Come on people. Smarten Up!
Maybe the cops over there are weighing up the advantages to themselves of showing justice to be swift and robust against the disadvantage to all mankind of the resulting book: The Kindness of Prison
Cut your coat according to your cloth
if there's a mismatch between the technical skills of an entire continent and the IT goals of a bunch of policymakers, my money would be on the goals being wrong.
If there really will be 700,000 ICT vacancies (a subtle but important distinction from IT vacancies, I'd guess the ICT element includes telesales agents - and I have to say I'm glad there's a shortage of them) the simple laws of supply and demand would require that the gap can be filled by raising the pay offered, until enough people retrain to fill them. What the report probably means is there will be a shortage of ICT staff who are willing to work for the pittance on offer.
Maybe the solution is to get rid of the bean counters who couldn't foresee such a massive shortfall when making their
dreams plans and replace them with a bunch who base their strategy for the future on solid reality. There should be no difficulty in performing this substitution as sadly, there is never a shortage of administrators.
The simplest answer
Maybe it spent so long in space because nobody could remember the command to bring it back?
What about the TV?
> helping people learn [ American ] English and understand a little more about American culture
I was under the distinct impression that american TV exports had already done that. All my english-as-a-second-language friends and colleagues have a recognisably american "twang" to their spoken english, usually picked up from TV programmes and the teaching material they were exposed to.
Maybe what these Kindles are for is to redress the balance a bit. To correct some possible notions that every american cop will shoot you as soon as look at you, that every crime can be solved within an hour and that their soldiers can drop into any country in the world, gun in hand (and suitcase, and shoulder holster and tucked into belt and another hidden in their sock - just in case) with impunity.
After all, this sort of programme has got to be cheaper than trying to teach their own citizens (or, it must be said: ours, too) another language.
Re: "I bet the lunches at the council offices are better than they serve the kids."
> Just out of curiosity when decade did you go to school? Just trying to figure out when it all went to shit
Well, I was at school in the 60's/70's (not the full 20 years, you understand!). One of the big problems my schools had was that the kitchens didn't keep a lot of reserves. So the food that made up the day's lunch was delivered from the suppliers that morning.
As a consequence the suppliers (esp. for meat) could deliver any old crud, safe in the knowledge that it couldn't be rejected or the little darlings would go hungry.
I do recall many occasions where it appeared the protein (at least that's what it appeared to be) had gone through some sort of vulcanisation process before being served. Whether that was the chemical genius of the school cooks, or the quality of the raw product is difficult to say. Generally the deserts were better as there aren't many ways to mess up Spong [sic] pudding though the custard sometimes made you wonder ...
What if "the cloud" is just a fad?
Basically a "cloud" is a very similar environment to a mainframe batch operation of years gone by. You submitted your "job", something, somewhere did something with it and produced your results. The person who initiated all this had little or no control (JCL notwithstanding) over the process.
While this sort of set-up provided a solution, like the cloud, it wasn't very flexible and like the cloud, the person who wanted the work done would often want a little more control - or assurance - over the nuts'n'bolts of the process.
As a consequence, it's easy to see that the huge datacentres that house "cloud" service providers these days are analogous to the manframe operations of yore. It also follows that in the IT world, nothing lasts forever - so what we see as a cloud-based solution today will be seen as a cloud-based problem, tomorrow.
So if we're looking forwards 10 years, sure; there WILL be cloud operations, but there will also be other ways to do thing. Ways that haven't yet been invented (just like cloud computing didn't happen in 2002). What they will be is difficult to say, but if the cycle keeps spinning round, I'd guess that the users would be emerging from the remains of cloud-based architectures and wanting their own systems to run their own applications in their own way.
Layers of scorn
So The IT crowd portrays women negatively - maybe, I only watched 1 episode (that was enough - didn't care for it). However, the media in general portrays ALL IT people negatively, too.
As she says herself, lack of women in IT is a worldwide problem, whereas The IT Crowd is purely a local "problem", so while it may not help, it's not a big barrier.
What needs to happen is for the media to depict IT people, in general, in a more sane and balanced way. Although the industry does little to help itself, with "geek speak" and its crappily designed and duff products.
Maybe if we could inject an air of professionalism, discipline and pride into our own industry, then that would make it an attractive proposition to newcomers and equally, help retain them over their whole career.
The tail that wags the (watch)dog
One could assume that our new overlords and masters; the International Olympic Committee had a clause in the contract (otherwise known as the UK's new constitution) that requires the host nation (otherwise known as The Fiefdom) to have such a rule in place. It sits alongside all the other ones that grant the IOC virtually absolute power in controlling, disrupting and diminishing the lives of the poor
sods serfs who live anywhere near an olympic venue.
All in the name of sport - the IOCs; seeing how far they can push a potential host nation into servitude with the sorts of demands that would make any on-tour pop prima-donna blush with embarrassment
So, not really important at all?
> described data sets as the fourth factor of production
From the website ...
Investopedia explains 'Factors Of Production'
In essence, land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship encompass all of the inputs needed to produce a good or service
So, in fact they're saying that big data is the least important factor of production.
and later ...
more and more management decisions are based on “hard analytic information”, as opposed to just having a hunch
I wonder if the decision (on how to make decisions) was taken in the light of "hard analytic information”, or if it was just a hunch?
The interesting thing is, that if all these business successes are the result of a company having a good process, rather than good leadership it rather shoots in the foot the principle that directors should be highly paid because their leadership is what drives success. It sounds like the success is due to the analysts who trawl through these datasets and come up with insightful conclusions - not the people at the top.
Maybe if good data really is the key to success, these CEOs should be keeping schtum about it and carry on claiming that the success was really down to their skill, vision and talent. Otherwise someone might just ask why they pay themselves so much.
Irrational numbers teaching
> asks what Pi is and where it came from
That's quite a good example of where abstract knowledge has failed. Teaching people about circles and radius and area could be vastly simplified by just saying that the area of a circle is 78.5% of the area of an enclosing square. If we want people to learn stuff, the simplest way to motivate that learning is to provide practical reasons for it.
As for dumping someone in the middle of London, wouldn't they just hop in a taxi, or pull up the TFL app on their phone?
Re: Price is ok...
These days you can build a fanless mini-itx system (see AMD Fusion, dual core 1.6GHz) for less than the cost of this puppy.
Industrial systems have always taken the mick with regards to pricing. Generally because of the lower volumes and tighter QA that hostile environments require. However this Linux Mint beastie looks like it's managed the worst of all worlds: high price, moving parts (disk) and aimed at the domestic market.