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* Posts by Pete 2

2371 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

'The Apprentice' is a load of old codswallop, says biz prof

Pete 2
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If it was done properly

Confession time: I only watched the first series. Before it started the concept seemed fresh and original. After the first series ended it was apparent it was simply a pantomime to be watched by people who thought Dallas was true to life how oil magnates lived.

If someone wanted to make T.A. real, what tasks would the performers have to participate in?

- Most original way to avoid attending a Health and Safety presentation. Performers have to come up with an excuse and then follow it through without getting caught, or found lying

- The "bladder" challenge. Performers are made to drink 6 cups of coffee (proper stuff, not decaff) and then attend a meeting. Last one to run for the loo is the winner (and no relieving yourself "in-situ").

- The screen-blank. Performers have to conceal their computer screens from the boss - whether they were just watching pr0n, updating FB or looking for a new job. The boss will sneak up on them from various directions and employing diversionary tactics. The performers must prevent the boss seeing what they are really up to.

- The day off. Similar to avoiding H&S. The performers have to come up with excuses for skyving off for a day. As in real life, anyone coming back from a sickie and sporting a suntan gets fired on the spot.

- Do unto others. The performers have to plant incriminating evidence of disloyalty or illegal activities on their bosses' PC. After all if you can't get your boss fired, how will you ever get promoted.

If you think these are all pretty boring, desk based activities when you want people running round like 6-year olds on espressos trying to sell tat to idiots, then welcome to the real world of office work.

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PRISM leaks: WTF, you don't spy on your friends, splutters EU

Pete 2
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Sauce for the goose

> bugging friends is unacceptable

Isn't that exactly what citizens keep telling their governments whenever a new, more intrusive, form of surveillance is announced.

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The five constants of IT asset management

Pete 2
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Keeping it under control

> imagine how good I could be with something that does the job better

And when you find a way of measuring the "betterness" objectively, then you can start to have a conversation.

The problem with all these functions: Asset management, Disaster Recovery, Capacity Planning, Change control, Security .. pretty much everything that's covered by ITIL and all the other management methodologies is that it's impossible to say whether they are value for money.

The amount of process that is appropriate depends massively on the size of the organisation,the legal & regulatory requirements and the skills of the people involved (the lower the quality of people, the greater the amount of process needed). However, since process is inflexible and expensive: both in the number of people it takes to do it and the amount of time it adds to a project or a change, there is a good argument to keep it to the absolute minimum - however you determine what that is.

One thing she said is right: automate as much as possible.

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UK sitting on top of at least 50 years of shale gas – report

Pete 2
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Re: Good article in The Independent on this

I think the energy boom is what a lot of the people who live on top those gas deposits are afraid of.

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Pete 2
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Down the tubes we go (again)

> comparable to the heyday of North Sea Oil

And what was done with the massive windfall that came with the revenue from NSO tax revenues?

It was spent on lowering personal taxation to win elections, Pursuing political goals and buying new toys for the military. Compare that with Norway who used their "win" to finance long-term projects for the benefit of the country as a whole.

So, if there does turn out to be another chance at doing it right, courtesy of enormous Shale Gas reserves, would anyone like to guess how future UK governments will manage to waste the opportunity this time?

As an exquisite irony, given the geography of the supposed fields, I wonder if the north of England will actually see any of the benefits (maybe they should declare independence before it's too late?)

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Labels to get, count them, 0.13 cents per play on Apple iRadio

Pete 2
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Pull out the calculator

> just 0.13 cents per play

Sounds like a good way to make money.

When you work out the number of minutes in a year and reckon that the average tune lasts 3 minutes, you can squeeze over 175,000 plays into a year (more in a leap year). At $0.0013 per play that earns you $227/yr

And you can always start releasing shorter tunes to get more plays per year, when times get tight. I can foresee the equivalent of server rooms full of iToys continually piping music out into the void, while metering up small but significant royalties for each play.

Sure beats bitcoin mining.

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Trick-cyclist's claim: I have FOUND how to get GIRLS INTO TECH

Pete 2
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Re: The bigger picture

> women were equally capable and intelligent and should have equal opportunities

Very true. But that sentence is incomplete. people should have equal opportunities to do the things they want to.

The point that seems to be continuously overlooked is that pay is not the only reason a given person takes a given job. Sure, it's one of the few quantifiable reasons - and is therefore amenable to analysis by individuals for whom analytical processes are important. And it seems to me too much emphasis is placed on pay, simply because so few other factors can be measured (a case of valuing what you can measure, rather than measuring what you value). However there are a lot of reasons to take a job that are not quantifiable. Some examples would be:

- because you enjoy the work

- because it's close to where you live

- because it provides thrills and adventure

- because it reinforces your self-image

- because your friends work there

- because the hours suit your lifestyle

- because you don't get wet when it rains

- because it does (or doesn't) require you to extend your abilities

Each individual will take some, all or none of these other attributes into account. None of them can have a financial value attached (although being close to where you live could equate to travel costs) so it's not realistic to simply look at pay as being the only measure of a job's worth. It also means that roles within a company cannot be equally staffed by individuals who attach different priorities to all these different attributes, as they simply wouldn't be attracted to those jobs, if the jobs didn't match their wants or needs.

So long as people have the opportunity to qualify for and enter the sort of work that they feel best suited for, that;s the best you can hope for. It's not necessary to go round counting heads and ticking boxes for each particular job title, just because that provides numerical answers for the analytical types to report on - and imbalances aren't important provided they are there due to choice, not barriers

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Pete 2
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Re: What happens when lies meet real world?

You call it "marketing" ?

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Pete 2
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The bigger picture

Why is it not possible to just accept that some jobs (I'd hardly call IT a profession, any more) are more attractive to men and others are more attractive to women? We don't hear much talk about getting more women working on building sites, plumbing or lorry driving (though obviously there are some who do these jobs) and we hear even less about getting more men into nursing and teaching. Maybe there's a gender-bias in all these gender-bias studies?

The best that the world can do is make sure there is no gender-based discrimination (explicit or subtle) that bars entry into any of these careers and then let people make up their own minds. If they prefer to get their rewards by caring for others - or by producing some bug-ridden code, 3 months late - then so be it. So long as the choice is there and available to everyone who has the qualifications, there's little more to do.

When was the last time you heard anyone say there was a "problem" because not enough men got secretarial jobs?

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Finance CIOs sweat as regulators prepare to probe aging mainframes

Pete 2
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Re: It's the redundancy, stoopid!

> Outages are inevitable

Actually good systems design does allow for hardware faults. It will mandate hot-swappable kit. Have a fault in a router panel and you can switch it for a replacement without any downtime (though possibly with reduced performance, depending on your load balancing or the amount of redundant capacity you built in).

Likewise with servers. These days virtualisation means that a (again: load balanced) server can be bounced in a very short time and it's not outside the realms of possibility to migrate live environments to different hardware if you need to physically get your hands dirty. What no design can account for is human error. Making the right change to the wrong system, restoring the backup onto the wrong instance or having holes in the testing strategy (or changing inherently untestable systems, such as payments to third parties).

Also, a properly designed system won't have any single points of failure - either physical SPOFs or in the software / services.

So far as DR goes. Invoking it is terribly disruptive. Even if the DR site can be brought online all you've done is delay the problem. Few organisations actually have everything on "hot" standby and if they do, then it's likely that software config faults have already been propagated through to it - making the whole concept worthless. However the biggest issue with invoking DR is when the emergency is over and you try to reconcile all the work that's taken place on the DR system during the primary outage, with the "primary" production systems. While some companies simply have an A - B toggle, with neither system being inherently a primary, testing the fallback procedures always involves risk and disruption and is therefore rarely tested in full.

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Pete 2
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It's the redundancy, stoopid!

> there will be “no tolerance” for service outages

The key to not having service outages is good system design and a proper DR plan. Some companies have one, but few have both.

Almost every outage of significance is caused by someone changing something. It may not be the central server, itself that causes the inversion of tits. Yo could have the world's most reliable hardware running your central servers (and a lot of companies do). However if the peripheral systems: the firewalls, networking infrastructure, web servers and directory services are either flaky, too complicated to ever understand, or managed by idiots then the reliability of the core systems is irrelevant. They could still be up while your business is off the air for days when someone missed a "." off a network configuration or didn't properly test a config change.

In those circumstances, the "plan" calls for switching over to the backup system. Great in theory, hardly ever works in practice. Either the same change has been applied to the DR systems, or they were really just ornamental - to satisfy regulatory requirement s and were never intended to be used, or the switch over process is so involved that it's never been tried - either in a controlled fashion or in anger.

For most companies, the simplest way they could improve the reliability of their IT systems is to stop anyone from touching them. Sure, there is a need for provision of "consumables" such as adding terabytes, but apart from that any additional activities adds risk. The quandry is whether the risk of your own people screwing the system is greater than the risk of an external agent hacking their way through an unpatched security hole. While companies get vilified for security breaches, none get criticised for low-quality staff futzing about in software that is well beyond their competency.

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The future of cinema and TV: It’s game over for the hi-res hype

Pete 2
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It's not what you see that counts

> ever higher pixel counts, an approach that disregards how we actually see moving images

... it's what you can sell.

Let's face it, while some people sit close enough to their screens to make high definition worthwhile, most don't. Just like most people don't watch TV or media players in a perfectly darkened room, so specifications for contrast ratios are irrelevant. Likewise for pretty much any other specification-led consumer product: cars, hi fi, computers, cameras, phone and the list goes on.

The problem is that you can't say or show yer average consumer a "better" product and just have them see/hear/smell/taste/feel that it's better. If you're lucky they might just recognise that it's different, though since change is often unwelcome or even plain bad <cough>3D</cough>, that's a double edged sword.

No, it's far better to bamboozle them with figures - occasionally even relevant figures - of real or imagined origin to "prove" that your product is better than the other guy's/ Luckily scienec and technology education is so mind-numbingly bad that only a tiny fraction of the population has any chance of knowing what a specification means and almost nobody, anywhere, ever (though I did work for an electronics company a long time ago -one of the engineers took his stereo amp back to the shop after running bench tests with our mil-spec test gear) has any chance of validating those specifications.

Although tech-specs aren't the only way of persuading the public. While some credulous techies might be taken in by the babble that accompanies them - and is often promoted by magazines and articles in their reviews - most people just get hostile when confronted by pages of meaningless numbers. For them the solution is just to wrap up the goodies in an attractive enclosure - or failing that, a shiny cardboard box will do.

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German Kim Jong-un lookalike spaffed official Nork pics over Instagram

Pete 2
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His own best customer

> I started the account, maybe because I wanted to fool people

Sounds like he was the one most fooled. Though if I thought I bore even the slightest resemblance to one of the world's most famous nutters leaders (KJU or this guy), I'd take whatever measures necessary to remedy the situation.

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That enough, folks? Starbucks tosses £5m into UK taxman's coffers

Pete 2
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Re: So: basically it's a protection racket

> Personally I like the idea of a government capable of paying for hospitals, roads, schools, police, and so on. I'm also coming round to the idea of adding the guillotine to that list

Yes. The problem is that this method of wringing money out of companies is political and it's corrupt. Who says which companies should be hauled through the pit of public opinion? There may be some tax-minimising companies that a particular government "likes" (whether due to patronage, political donations, employing in marginal constituencies or the old-boys network) and therefore chooses not to lambast. It also means that decisions about the amount of slagging-off that a particular company gets, to "persuade" it back to the path of righteousness is arbitrary and non-transparent: bad properties for a tax regime.

Finally, it may persuade the companies in question to play dirty, too. What happens if Starbucks starts printing political slogans on its coffee cups? Or if banks start giving preferential treatment to customers living in post-codes that have proven sympathetic to the goals of big-business?

While this sounds like a good idea - and probably will work as a one-off (or warning), it could come back to bite the politicians in the bum if used as a blunt instrument (though how a blunt instrument could bite your arse, I don't know)

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Pete 2
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So: basically it's a protection racket

> to become profitable before we started paying UK corporation tax

Well, err ... actually - yes. Isn't that what corporation tax is supposed to be? <FX: scratches head, looks mystified>

However it does appear that the tax climate has changed for multinationals in the UK. In recognition that the accountants who work for companies will always be better (i.e. higher pay attracts talent, civil service pay grades not so much) than those who work for HMRC and the government - and therefore will always find ways of keeping their employers' taxes in the low single figures, the tax position has shifted to a public-opinion based assessment rather than a financial one.

So now, instead of reporting profits, costs & turnover, each company will just bung a wad of it's own discretion at the treasury. In return they won't get the PM making snarky comments about them to the press.

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Using encryption? That means the US spooks have you on file

Pete 2
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An email a day keeps the NSA away

The other thing you have to do is send the same number of (100MB) emails to the same people each day. That way the baddies who are listening in can't infer anything from the emailing frequency.

If you only sent an email when something important was happening, or about to happen that in itself tells the baddies something is going on.

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3D printers now emitting merged manufacturers

Pete 2
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The new wok?

> Inability to find a personal use for 3d printing even in its current nascent form is a failure of imagination rather than a failure of technology.

I suppose that depends on your approach. That philosophy is fine for a toy - imagine all the fun that kids have with a cardboard box, lots of imagination being put to good use there.

However if you're talking about giving a 3d printer the same status as a domestic appliance, then (apart from all the stuff that's bought, never used and consigned to the cupboard under the sink) it needs to earn its keep. It's clearly ludicrous to pay a kilobuck for a device that is only going to be used to print a $3 phone shell or ten.

The third possibility is the geek alternative. If that thousand smackeroos confers on you (either within your peer group, or just within your own mind) an elite status and the value of that position is worth the money then: fair enough. Go ahead, buy one - safe in the knowledge that it's an immature technology and that next year's model will be better, faster, cheaper, sexier (!) and more useful. But by then it'll be on sale in Personal Computer World and any possibility that it's a geek status symbol will have vanished.

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Pete 2
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Self replicating?

Right now I can't see any reason to buy a machine that can only squirt out a few, small, pieces of plastic. When they can deal with a decent rangeof materials, say from aluminium and glass through to cotton-wool THEN they might start to have some day-to-day domestic uses. However, once they get that accomplished there won't be any need to *buy* one as you could just borrow a friend's and knock out a copy for yourself.

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FIVE DAY tech job interviews on trial at Oz telco Telstra

Pete 2
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I've been watching that plumber for half an hour ...

... and he hasn't done a stroke of work.

The irony being, of course, that neither has the watcher.

You've got to wonder with a 5-day interview how many assessors it takes to keep an eye on the candidates and whether the amount of time these people spend on selecting just a single "winner" would be better spent on something else: like going on a course to identify high quality staff in a 5 minute chat.

> to assess candidates in more detail than is possible during a conventional interview

You also have to wonder what sort of critical position these people are being employed for. Surely with that amount of investment in the recruitment process and the costs involved they must be highly paid, highly visible staff who could make or break the company in the years to come? You wouldn't take that much time to just employ a support person, would you?

However, since the candidates are also assessing the company during this time, I would expect that all of those who had any level of experience would quickly see through the charade and correctly conclude that Telstra was over-bureaucratised, slow and lacking the ability to make decisions. They would therefore run screaming from the interviews and consider how lucky they were to have dodged that particular bullet.

It does sound more like a test of endurance (or desperation) than skill.

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Home Office boffins slip out passport-scanning Android app

Pete 2
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Re: Pointless

> Any other usage (as an ID document etc) is very dodgy

Especially in foreign parts where a passport number is often used in lieu of a citizen's ID card number - even on official documents. Buy a house abroad and you could well find your PP number is written into the official documents of ownership. A bit of a bummer as every time you change your passport you get a different number ...

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Pete 2
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Because we can

> and the first to publicly ask: Why bother?

Steady on. If every piece of software: paid or free, was to question whether there was any need for it, there would be hardly any of the stuff around and the likes of Github would be an empty wilderness containing the rare few projects that had a life of their own - or corporate sponsorship.

Most amateur written software is produced to demonstrate the prowess of the writer (just like comments in forums are ... ) rather than to make a meaningful contribution to the sum of human happiness. If these guys enjoyed writing their app, and it doesn't harm anyone (and there aren't any security downsides) then what the hell - let 'em do it if it makes them happy.

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PC makers REALLY need Windows 8.1 to walk on water - but guess what?

Pete 2
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New sales tactic needed

Relying on selling PCs based solely on the idea "It's got a NEW version of windows, that's better because it's ..... new" just doesn't work. It turns out that all the functionality that customers want can be got from Windows 2000 or XP. Since then the "features" that have been added are generally just bug fixes, security fixes, support for new hardware and 64-bit architectures. Sure, each version has been given a nice new shiny GUI, but from a "what will it do?" perspective, it's still just Windows.

If the only strategy PC makers have for selling there wares is based on the Windows version number and consequent increments in application version numbers, then they've got nothing.

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Nuke plants to rely on PDP-11 code UNTIL 2050!

Pete 2
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2038 and all that

While not a PDP11 issue, the longevity of computers is a concern - and not just for people who want to flog us replacements. At this rate (maybe even exacerbated by the financial crisis) there could well be numbers of old, 32-bit Unix system running stuff when the 32-bit clock counter rolls over and we find ourselves back in the 1970's. With the popularity of small, cheap Linux embedded systems, some of these could be quite difficult to find - literally.

I just hope none of *them* are running nuclear plants

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Fifty, fired and fretful: Three chaps stare down CAREER MORTALITY

Pete 2
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Re: Too crap to keep, too expensive to sack

> Wally from Dilbert

Good point. Though Wally appears to want to be kept on. He lies, cheats and deceives his incompetent boss. Whereas some TCTK-ers would quite like to be let-go (and apply for VR, but get turned down). They neither feel the need, nor have the motivation to give their bosses reasons to keep them on. Another way to look at it is that both sides (the employers and the employees) are trapped in a situation neither one wants: the company would like to get rid of the expensive but unproductive employees, the TCTK-ers would like to take early retirement or VR, but can't, or don't qualify, or get turned down - for whatever reason. Although some of the TCTK-ers realise that they are on the gravy train and quite like the prospect of doing almost nothing each day (just as if they were at home, retired) but still getting paid for it AND building up their pension pots, too.

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Pete 2
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Too crap to keep, too expensive to sack

There's a certain "type" of individual - most often seen in ex-nationalised industries. They've been there since the year dot. Often it was their first, and only job. They started out as an apprentoid: 2 'O' levels and a budgerigar, and in the following decades rose up through the ranks to their current position: team member.

However, in their forty years of wearing a hole in the same chair, they have amassed one single, solitary, asset: their severance package. Based on years of employment and seniority for time served, even at the statutory minimum, they are hellishly expensive to get rid of. Given how much it would cost to axe one of these old-timers, you could reduce your headcount by four or five fresh-faced newbies.

And so they stay on. Not because they are actually any use, have any skills, or do any work. But because they are cheaper to continue paying than to fire - and salaries come from a different budget, too. They only occupy one desk (and can often be persuaded to "work" from home, so even that desk can be hot-desked to someone useful), keep their mouths shut during meetings and sometimes take the occasional phone message when you're unavailable.

So when companies make the calculation of how to achieve the maximum headcount reduction (i.e. ruin the greatest number of peoples' lives) for the minimum amount of money, these guys are untouchable. The moral of the story: being old isn't always the path to redundancy. If you can somehow survive and stay off HR's radar, you may, just, be able to live our your twilight years doing next to nothing, being paid for it and keeping your job security.

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Julian Assange: Google's just an arm of US government

Pete 2
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Right idea, wrong way round

It's not that Google or any other multi-national superpower is in thrall with the american government. Rather that the USA-ian government is there primarily to enable the mega-corps and provide them with a nice, safe, profitable, legally friendly environment.

Although companies don't get to vote for which individual gets to sit in the big chair, that's the smallest part of "democracy" so far as they are concerned. Their influence is much more under-the-table and since money speaks all languages, their influence is omnipresent and non-partisan.

Just because you only see the puppet, that doesn't mean there isn't someone with their hand up it's bum.

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When to say those three little words: 'I am quitting'

Pete 2
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Loose talk costs

> it’s rational to prep your CV and start talking to agents

And as soon as you do mention to an agent that you might be considering the possibility of testing the water, they're straight on to your boss with the statement "we're working with one of your team who will be leaving soon, and thought you'd like to start recruiting their successor ... "

The one thing we can say about the current system (everything goes through recruitment agents) is that it's a bad, bad system. They only have one goal: to maximise their own income, and in the current climate every possibility needs to be fully explored with their own needs foremost and everybody else's a long, long way behind.

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You don't need phone lines or cable for ANYTHING, says Dish

Pete 2
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Face piles of trials with smiles

> 4G telephony, but the standard has aspirations to fulfil just about every radio need

That's great for a trial, but when happens when everybody tries to use their 4G connection to stream the Superbowl (other sporting occasions are available) in HD at the same time?.

The nice thing about broadcast transmissions is that they scale beautifully.

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BBC lied to Parliament about doomed £100m IT monster, thunder MPs

Pete 2
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Re: Must get in on this scam

> Where does one sign up to be the provider of such "services" ?Where does one sign up to be the provider of such "services" ?

Ahhh, but to get to pole position you have to sit through endless meetings with BBC luvvies who have risen far beyond their competency, yet whom have a vastly inflated opinion of themselves and their abilities ... and vision. You have to listen to their half-arsed descriptions of what they think they need, or just want. You have to nod sagely at the most ridiculous suggestions and ideas. But worst of all you have to keep quiet and NOT tell them what a bunch of inept, clueless WASTERS they all are.

The only time I got involved at a Beeb-meet, I had to excuse myself for a cooling down 5 minute break. £100 Meg is probably a small price to pay if it keeps them in the institution and stops them escaping into the real world where they could do untold damage.

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Pete 2
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Never speak truth to power

Of course the BBC told people what they wanted to hear - to do otherwise has (historically) never been a good way to keep your head on your shoulders.

However the problem goes deeper. Whether Mark Thompson "lied" to parliament is a multi-layered question. Did he lie like a car salesperson does when he/she/it claims the car has only done 30,000 miles - while knowing full-well that it's done treble that mileage. Or did he lie like a computer manager lies - by simply not having a clue what he's talking about and being reliant on minions to feed him the truth (see above).

We all know that if you want to find the truth about an IT project (though, in reality few people ever want THAT much truth) you ask the programmers. I would suggest that if those people had been quizzed, either by the BBC trust or by the parliamentary committee they would have heard more truth than they could possibly deal with - and been told exactly how borked the project was - even when it had only been running a month or two.

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1-in-10 e-tomes 'are self-published'... most are 'rubbish' says book ed

Pete 2
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> everything churned out by a big-name publisher has to be the absolute height of literary perfection

When you get 1,000 manuscripts a year coming in to the building and you are able to publish (say) 5 - and maybe 1 by a first time author, you look for ways to filter the load.

It doesn't matter how arbitrary the filter is, but you've got to operate some sort of process to get the amount of paper you deal with down to a sensible level and then focus your attention on the remainder.

Hence the dismissal of poor grammar, spelling, sentence construction, style, content and subject matter. It may not be the best system, but like when you have to deal with CVs, it's objective and is better than throwing them all in to the air and selecting the one that sticks to the ceiling, on the premise that the applicant is lucky - and luck is better than skills.

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Pete 2
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The lottery effect

Even with "normal" publishing, getting success is a hit and miss affair - but mostly miss. In fact almost completely miss. You have to get your words in front of someone influential (and by influential, these days that means a big twitter following). They have to have enough of an attention span to read at least the first few lines and then for it to remain somewhere in their consciousness for long enough that they can string a few txt-spk phrases and your title together for their followers to eagerly devour. After that, the world is your lobster - even with a small percentage of their gullible and impressionable followers remembering the title for as long as it takes them to call up Amazon and order it, before they forget and move on to the next instant fad.

All e-pubishing does is remove one delay-centre and a level of filtration from the process. Instead of having to get 90+++ rejections before someone puts you on their year long wait-list for publication, you can go instantly to Lulu and spew your words out to the waiting world immediately. And then wait ... and wait ... and wait (repeat until you croak) for a single lone individual to stumble upon your masterpiece, read the precis and move on.

It's still simply a numbers game - but with e-publishing, the numbers are just larger. Instead of 1 chance in 10,000 of "making it" (i.e. seelling more copies than you have relatives), the odds against are now in the millions - but you can probably knock out a dozen or more pieces of work in a month. Like with the lottery, one of them might just come up.

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Review: Beagleboard Beaglebone Black

Pete 2
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The Pi's best feature

was its price. It established a market for small computers as components for home users and really can be thought of as the "Mark 1" for anything more capable than an Arduino-level device.

As happens with Mk1's something better soon comes along. Not always cheaper unless cost has been a factor, but with a more usable design, more capable hardware and occasionally even better documentation. That we now have a whole slew of computer components is largely down to the Pi - and a jolly good thing it was, too. However whether you choose it, this offering as a Mk2, or any of the others - it's worth remembering that without these innovatory products we'd still be paying $200 a shout at 1-off prices for tiddly little computers to run our home projects.

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Who's the daddy of Virgin Media now? That would be Liberty Global

Pete 2
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Turning around a successful company?

>" important inflection point in its development"

Inflection point The point on a curve where it's curvature changes sign. E.g. from negative to positive, or from positive to negative

So presuming that until now VM has been on the up (as it's 6 month share price history would indicate), it sounds like this guy has realised it's peaked and now is planning to manage it into the ground.

Odd way to do business,

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BBC's Digital Moneypit Initiative known to be 'pile of dung' for years

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IT staff clamouring to pay for their own BYOD kit, says survey

Pete 2
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Re: Actually

Actually, having developers use less than fast kit sounds like a very good idea. It will encourage them to design efficient software and to write tight code.

No more would we hear: "Well, it runs fine on my 3GHz quad-core machine with 16GB of RAM!"

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Pete 2
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Re: Yeah, right

> Also: rent for my desk & chair

How about paying your share of the electricity bill, doing your share of the office cleaning, making your own drinks with your own machine and tea/coffee you'd bought yourself?

If you work at home - either for yourself or as a WAH employee of a larger company - the chances are you already do all of these things for free. There are a few enlightened employers who make a token payment for your household expenses, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

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Culture Sec: You - Google. Where's the off switch for all this filth?

Pete 2
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Where's the off switch?

On your PC - where is should be and always has been

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Raspberry Pi DUMBS DOWN to target world+dog

Pete 2
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If Windows™ taught us anything ...

> and chose [sic] from a list of operating systems they wish to run

... it would be that new users don't want choice. They want simplicity. Just switch the puppy on and up it comes - no questions, no decisions (if they are that new, how can they make an informed choice about O/S's anyway), none of that nasty configuration and numbers with dots in them. In fact, it's better to not even ask them what timezone they are in - considering the number of emails I get from friends in the UK with an american "default" timezone in the header.

Now that's not to say the system shouldn't be configurable., Just that it shouldn't need to be configured.

If you want to teach people to be programmers that's different from teaching them to be a sys-admin - as pay scales illustrate all too well (as does the mess a lot of programmers make when they try to administer their own machines). Don't put barriers up, just provide an environment that boots with no fuss and leads 'em by the nose into their first program.

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Big Brother? Social networks are far worse, says Estonian president

Pete 2
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Not wrong

> "No government follows you as much as a social network,"

The thing about democratic governments is that they have institutions that are meant to protect citizens (whether from the government, other citizens or other institutions is a point worth debating over at least 4 pints). Social networks haven't even evolved a fully developed sense of mob rule yet - though I'm sure it's on its way.

The time to get worried is when an online group starts to wield significant influence and therefore gets courted by "real" politicians. Mumsnet is a possible example. Until something like Facebook can declare itself a state, use it's cash pile to finance hard or soft power (it probably already has more soft power than the majority of countries) and comes up with a political agenda, we're probably OK. Fortunately none of the internet power brokers have any natural resources, so they are all kept under control by their advertisers. Even more fortunately, their users are a fickle lot. So it's unlikely that any particular social website will ever last long enough to do any serious damage - except to the generation of children who were innocent enough to tell it all their secrets.

Let's hope none of those kids ever stumbles in to a position of power.

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Internet pioneer Vint Cerf predicts the future, fears Word-DOCALYPSE

Pete 2
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From a historical perspective

> his up-to-date version of Microsoft Word can't read Powerpoint files created in 1997

... nothing of any consequence has ever appeared on a PP presentation.

Unlike present day archaeology, where making a "find" is a rare event due to the scarcity of old artefacts, I expect the researchers of tomorrow will have the opposite problem: trying to work out which is THE ONE significant piece of work amongst the hundreds of billions of pieces of crap, spam, tweets and pr0n. After that, decoding the format (surely just stripping out all the non-ASCII is 99% of the job) will be a trivial matter.

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Thirty-five years ago today: Space Invaders conquer the Earth

Pete 2
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Who needs progress?

The first ideas are usually the most obvious and therefore the longest lasting.

So the basic concept of see a target and shoot it (before it shoots you) is still the dominant feature of most games today. While the graphics has improved vastly and the "immersion", too. Most video games are still essentially the same as they were back in the 70's

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BBC boffins ponder abstruse Ikea-style way of transmitting telly

Pete 2
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> allow "a viewer to have the programme content tailored to their taste or mood"

Surely the way to do this would be a combination of features inside the telly?

It would start with image and voice recognition and end up with real-time video editing / substitution. That would allow users (or viewers, in old-fashioned parlance) to choose what attributes the individuals on their TV programmes had. So if they didn't like the voice of a particular "star" they could access a menu and change the pitch, gender or accent (maybe even language, too) of the speech that issues forth from their gob. It wouldn't be a huge step to do the same with the video, so actors clothes could be changed (or removed, or covered up - the "fig-leaf" filter) and themes added. Likewise with their faces and physical attributes.

From the broadcasters' side, this would make complaints a thing of the past. If you didn't like a programme - they it's your own fault for not tailoring it to something more palatable. Offended by the language - why didn't you use a *beep* filter?

For the users, the possibilities are endless. Not only could you substitute Her Maj. in to do the weather forecast, but you could buy add-ons and customisations and maybe even third party mashups and reworkings.

However, the best feature would be that there would never be the need to make an original programme ever again. Gone would be repeats in the orthodox sense. Yes, it would still be Dad's Army (special centenary anniversary edition) but Captain Mainwaring could be replaced with Arnie, Corporal Jones with Catherine Tate's Lauren and so on ...

Of course, you'd never be able to trust a news broadcast - or any other factual programme, ever again. But the downfall of democracy is a small price to pay for a limitless supply of crappy TV.

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Graphene QUILT: A good trampoline for elephants in stiletto heels

Pete 2
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I think the material would have to be very, very taut to stop the bullet. The material's property is that it won't tear - but it could still deform and allow a bullet to puncture the skin and cause internal injuries. Although the bullet in question would be wrapped in (untorn) graphene when it did kill you.

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Pete 2
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Re: P-P-P-P-P-P-P-

> perched precariously on

Arrrgh!

might I humbly suggest:

Page provided perfect prose pondering performing pachyderms perched precariously, providing pencil proof planar products prove purported properties.

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Pete 2
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Another SF scenario in the making

The possibility of stringing an invisibly thin thread of incredibly strong material across a doorway at neck height has been the subject of some SF (possibly Pournelle, mercenaries stories?). If graphene can be made into threads then I can see a whole new area of terror opening up.

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Kinky? You're mentally healthier than 'vanilla' bonkers

Pete 2
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Tells us more

> "bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, sadism-masochism (BDSM)"

... about the researchers¹.

And doing a Chi squared test doesn't impress anyone.

[1] Psychology: The study of people who don't need studying by those who do

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Think you're ready to make a big career bet? Read this first...

Pete 2
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Years of experience

The sort of experience that IS valuable isn't so much to do with languages or technical skills. After all, languages come and go, development environments likewise and programming fashions, too. Plus, it's never too difficult to pick up the latest fad since there's very little that's actually new or novel in most of them. Added to which, most interviewers can't distinguish whether "6 years experience of XYZ" means 6 years of implementing new and ever-expanding techniques - or just 1 year of experience, repeated 5 times over.

The sort of experience that good people accumulate is knowing which of a list of requirements should be implemented first, which are difficult and which are wrong. Also being able to spot a project that's going off the rails (and knowing how to get it back - or whether to just let it go) and how to handle work issues like conflicting priorities, how to meet you targets and still keep your weekends free and how to tell the boss, in the nicest possible way, that he/she is a complete 'kwit and you're going to do the project YOUR way as that's the right way to do it.

The problem is that none of this is ever brought up at interview and is difficult to put into a CV in a way that a callow, just-appointed team leader, trying to recruit for the first time would recognise as a good thing.

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Pete 2
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There'll always be a future in security

In the good times companies spend more, so security budgets go up

In the bad times there's more crime about - so security budgets go up

The only problem is that if you're too successful, all the threats get dealt with swiftly and silently. That leads your boss, or whoever doles out the money, to assume that there are no security issues so they are likely to cut your job. The trick seems to be to stoke their paranoia and to find new and serious threats in every change the company makes. If you're really lucky, the MD will already be paranoid and will just need to hear good news stories about "the one that nearly got past you"

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62,000 fewer shops: Welcome to the High Street of 2018

Pete 2
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Re: Taxes strangling the high street

> stop the giant retail businesses (Tesco etc) swamping the town with their shops

Actually I like Tesco and the other supermarkets.

The thing about shops is that you can't buy what you want - you can only buy what they stock. Small shops carry small ranges and small quantities. Go into a small shop and ask for a "number 6 widget" and they'll tell you: sorry, we've only got a number 2 or a number 4, there's no call for a number 6, If you do find a shop with a number 6 widget, the price will be much higher due to the cost of the capital tied up in (unsold) stock and the square footage of the storage space they need to keep it.

Go to a large supermarket and they have 50,000 different widgets, and by selling lots of each sort each day, they are cheaper (and maybe fresher, too).

Where the internet is concerned, it's not much of a stretch to consider all online stores put together to be one, single retail entity. Since it makes little difference to your shopping "pleasure" whether you buy from cheepogoods.com betterstuff,com specialistwidgets.co.uk or imcheapbutinchina.cn - the only differences are cost, delivery times, (possibly) security and the methods of payment.

That makes internet shopping like supermarket shopping, but more so. More choice, lower costs and even the possibility (if you add expert forums into the mix) of getting knowledgeable advice on what you should buy, or avoid.

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