1650 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 14:47 GMT
In through the cynical ear
"This is the dawn of new relationship between two customer-centric organisations. T-Systems will play a critically important role in delivering cloud computing capabilities to meet Everything Everywhere’s challenging Information and Technology requirements."
and out through the ...
the dawn: we're all still in bed and have no intention of getting up for a while, yet
new relationship: all new relationships start with someone getting screwed
between two customer-centric organisations: between two organisations
critically important role: a minor part
delivering cloud computing capabilities: outsourcing
challenging: confused, conflicting, overly-complicated, far too expensive and without a hope of ever working
Rapidly running out of ideas
Don't get me wrong - I'm a big fan of space. After all, it's plentiful, non-toxic (unless you try top breathe it), low-fat and provides seconds of fun for all the family once the clouds clear.
Really, what the hell is the point of this? If you're going to control robots, or conduct research into controlling robots there's little to distinguish controlling them from a portakabin in a low-rent area of some deserted state than there is from a (largely) airtight portakabin wizzing round the planet that costs a fortune to run and is right on the limits of human possibilty to get anything to or from.
Now I appreciate that there's very little for people on the ISS to do - apart from trying to keep it (largely) airtight and not too hot and not too broken. But this does sound like make-work of a "we've got it, we better find something to use it for, now that the scuttle is virtually a historical footnote" nature.
I'd like to see lots of research into robots, but it seems to me that the benefits of sending them to the ISS are miniscule and the costs are huge. Far better to do the work on-planet and spend the dosh that's saved on doing more work. But then what else is there for the ISS caretakers to do all day?
Same goes for online booking fees
Not only do they require another £6 to pay by credit card (each way, £12 for a return flight, per person), but RYA, to name the most famous if not the worst, also have a £6 web check in fee, also for each leg of a flight, also for each person
So while everybody knows that they WILL screw you, one way or another, it still grates that the cost of the online transaction - you even supply your own paper & ink to print the boarding passes - is frequently more than the cost of one of the flights, itself.
The watchdog (so named because all it does is watch) has been aware of this for many, many years and occasionally growls: much to the hilarity of the low-price airliines who either pee on it or just ignore it completely. But it never actually gets off it's ass (a watch-donkey?) to do anything. Maybe we need to worry less about the costs - which are made known before you pay - and give the OFT a good kicking, instead?
Who's marketing whom?
> the Bishop of Rome tapped an iPad
So is this God giving Apple his (or her) blessing, or is it Apple sponsoring God
It's cyclic. The people who got screwed 30,40,50 years ago the first time round - when the big boys said "You don't want to bother with all that - let us handle it all for you" are all dead/retired or out of the biz - or not in a position of influence. There are now rich pickings to be had from trying the same old cons to a new generation of smug innocents who think they know better than their forebears and are too arrogant to listen, anyway.
They will learn. Eventually.
After that, I confidently predict that in 20 or 30 years time, there will be a renaissance of newly discovered "open" systems, complete with published standards, APIs and interconnectivity. At that point all the 30-something pundits - todays toddlers, just learning to dribble on a Wii - or is that wee on a Drobo? - will praise it as "revolutionary" and wonderful and new and much better than these nasty, closed, cloud systems. Just as today's journos, who make a living out of hyping stuff just because it's novel, are currently doing (swept along by the Gartners who do the same, but witter on to CEOs rather than credulous surfers).
You never know - there might even be some anti-trust cases (though I don't know how the Indians and Chinese will handle them) that eventually slap down the worst cloud exploiters and transgressors, after a few spectacular bankruptcies.
That clicking sound you can hear
... is the sound of the clock being turned back to the 1960s when software was RENTED from the monopolistic incumbent. It will shortly be followed by a loud THUD, which is the door being slammed shut as your data gets locked into a place that only Microsoft holds the key to.
Seriously, didn't anybody learn anything from the excesses, exploitations and abuses of the past? I'm just waiting for the brand new punch-card technology to be [re]introduced. I'm sure that someone, somewhere will be able to spin it into something desirable for their callow customers to gobble up. After all, it's recyclable - innit?
Keep flippin' the coin
... until you get the result you want.
You wanted heads, it came up tails? never mind: go for best of three. D'oh, heads again - make that best of 5.
And so it is with the soft sciences - just keep doing more and more studies until you get the answers that fit your own personal opinions and "gut" feeling. Then stop - that bit's important.
Maybe what they really need is a study into why their all other studies keep producing different conclusions every time they're done.
> because they don't have the necessary education to work in a knowledge economy
That's the key. Never forget that half the population has a below average IQ. While robots are very good at boring, mechanical operations they don't increase net wealth if they displace people (for whom boring, mechanical jobs were at least a living) who society then has to support.
Sure, you could just shrug your shoulders and say "get a job" but one thing an increase in automation has done is to make those jobs a whole lot scarer. Not everybody can work in a call centre.
So ISTM, while robots are good at lowering the cost of manufacture, that is of the most benefit to the "haves": the people with the wealth and income to purchase those cheap things. For the people who find their jobs have been automated out of existence, who become the "have nots", life is quite a lot different. All you've done is increase the distance between the two extremes of of society and made some people dependent on the hand-outs and charity of others or the state.
Yes, if your systems are resource-limited, virtualisation is the WORST thing you can possibly do.
When all the marketing bumf is stuffed down the sales-person's throat to get a few seconds of peace to quietly reflect on the mechanics, it becomes instantly obvious that when you have a limited amount of RAM (for example) you really, really don't want to waste it running multiple copies of an O/S, each in it's own VM - when all you need is a single O/S instance running on the bare metal.
Similarly, when you are I-O constrained, do you really want to have lots of bitty little instances, each with their own version of a disk block cache - all caching the same data? Or is it better to have one honkin' big cache with a longer tail, that achieves a better cache-hit ration and therefore REDUCES the number of IOPS?
Even more, when your hardware is old (and unlike IT staff, it doesn't improve with age) a hardware failure can bring down half a dozen VMs rather than just the one, single fully spec'd instance. Now that isn't the real problem - the real problem is the time needed to restart the virtualisation system and THEN all the VMs that depended on it. Can it possibly be faster to reboot 6 VMs than to restart one instance of a server host?
So really all virtualisation does is slice the pie into segments and hand one to each application - rather than trusting each application to not take too-big a bite every time the pie comes back round to them. It's still the same sized pie (except for the crumbs lost in the slicing-up process) and the only benefits of slicing it into different VMs is to stop one virtual environment from talking to (or leaking to) another. It doesn't magically make the pie - sorry: computer bigger/faster/better all it does is make more work for more sys-admins to monitor and try to keep running.
The nicest tie wins
> What do we really know about the provenance of this kind of data?
All this stuff tells us is that nothing much has changed.
We might have zetabytes of stuff flitting around in some cloud, somewhere - so what? There isn't enough time in the world (and certainly not before lunch) to analyse it all, so people fall back on the methods they've been adopting since the beginning of time (or at least 01-Jan-1970 00:00:00) and judging the person making the presentation and the credibility (read: prettiness) of the slides/powerpoint/OHPs/report/webcast.
People buy from people. Managers make decisions based on the credibility of the person presenting to them. So when all is said and done, forget the accuracy of the spreadsheet - nobody is in a position to question it, or understand it. Just make sure your shirt has been ironed.
The other side of the coin
Some companies "encourage" their employees to write poor reviews of competitor's products. Everybody treats professional reviewers/bloggers/columnists as VIPs. Most large companies have lists of their celebrity customers, who instantly get gold-plated service, just in case they might mention something bad about the supplier. So every organisation tries it's hardest to distort our perceptions of their, or competitors products - that's what advertising is.
So really false-positive reviews is just another form of online advertising. it's also worldwide, so there's little or nothing that a largely toothless and ineffectual watchdog in one single country can do. Which is rather lucky for newspapers, too - as they are amongst the worst at exaggerating the importance of their stories and inflating minor upsets into major headlines.
Maybe we just need to keep reminding ourselves that very little online content contains supportable facts (on either side) and that advertisements have always trodden the thin line between barely supportable and outright lies.
A quick squeeze
> it's the only way to get the darn drink strong enough.
Not if you squeeze the teabag against the side of the mug with the teaspoon you use to fish it out. Though in Pete 2 towers, we just add another spoonful of tealeaves (Keemun) to the pot.
Everything's under utilised and that's a good thing
All computers (servers, PCs etc) are under utilised. When they ARE fully utilised (i.e. running at 100% capacity) the response time is so bad that everyone complains. The basic problem is that t'management buy hardware, not a service and baulk at the idea of spending £-mega for a machine that will sit around rusting for most of the time.
Although if you look in any company carpark, you'll see more £-mega of cars sitting around rusting, which nobody is worried about. That's because the owners of those fine vehicles are prepared to pay for the utility they get (i.e. not having to sit/stand beside/be groped by - some smelly stranger on public transport: rather than the utilisation they get measured in minutes of use per day.
The basic problem is that people fixate on the reports from performance monitoring tools, rather than the quality of the service they are getting.
Here, let me help
> poorly performing defence procurement projects
Ans: all of them (no surprise there)
> a quarterly published list
Contents of next quarter's list: same as this quarter's. (or there)
> Where projects are falling behind schedule or budget I will take immediate measures."
Roughly translated: "I'll start to do my job" (that's a surprise)
<obligatory poke at MoD/RAF deleted>
Wish it had been
> the periodic table was almost empty in 1970
Where do you get this information from?
Actually, if it had been it would have made my chemistry O level a lot easier. Though Tom Leher would have 1 less song to his repertoire.
Oh yes, nobody thought the world was flat 400 years ago. It's been known since the ancient greeks that it was round. Eratosthenes even calculated its circumference.
Only a surprise to noobs
This effect has been around since the beginning of time.
Whether it's hundreds of users coming in on a monday morning and all trying to access their email (off the one single server, that was only capacity-planned for a steady-state load) at the same time.
Or the hundreds of call centre staff who all go <click> when their shift starts: like the email or Windows servers "storm", but much more intense, as they all start within a few minutes of each other.
Or (worst of all) bringing up a system after a crash when EVERYone tries to log in continuously just as soon as they see the login screen.
It's even been a problem in the days of mainframes when everyone tried to fill in their weekly timesheets at 16:30 on a friday afternoon (they had to be done before you left, you couldn't fill them in earlier - 'cos you didn't know what you'd be doing - well you did: you'd be waiting for CROVM4 to respond for about 15 minutes)
But, of course, no manager is prepared to shell out for a system that's specc'd at 500% of their steady-state capacity requirements, to handle a workload that will only exist for a few minutes once or twice a week.
Need to apply the usual solutions
Just install a few wind turbines on the sun's surface - isn't that the standard fix for all climate-related problems?
It's not disaster recovery unless you know it works
In a meeting a couple of years back when the following dialog took place:
Yes, we have a best-practice disaster recovery procedure. We have fully redundant hot-standby servers at a beta site, mirrored disks at the location and two sets of network connections with no common points of failure.
When did you last perform a failover test?
Oh we've never tested it
It might not work.
Psych-ing the boss
> Doesn't psychology give you a set of skills to give you an unfair advantage over everyone else in those situations?
In an ordinary job, maybe. However don't forget how the psych's boss got the job in the first place. Chances are they were/are a psychologist, too so they know the tricks (and can probably out-psych the minions, to keep them in their place, as well)
This article is timeless
It could have been written at any point since the start of commercial computing
If it had been written in the 1960s it would have been about the advent of timesharing systems, rather than the cloud.
In the 70s it would have been about minicomputers
In the 80s about the rise of Windows and PCs
in the 90s the big thing was networking
In the 00s the internet was the latest development hanging over IT
and now we have the cloud requiring that "IT administrators who take the time to broaden their skillsets should be in a good position for the future."
Sound advice - as it will always be.
Uuuuh, oh! They're looking for "versatile" accountants
A quick trawl through the job-ads only throws up 5 possible "wants": a couple of sales positions a secretary and two energetic and versatile accountants.
Now, call me a fuddy-duddy, but the last thing I'd want from an accountant is versatility. I'd much prefer they knew the rules of accounting and stuck to them, rigidly.
I suppose the versatility could be along the lines of my boss's definition of flexi-time: you're free to work as many extra hours as you like. But the "energetic" bit? Is that for doing a runner, or just recruitment-talk for someone who doesn't spend all their time snoozing, quietly at their desk, flexibly of course.
Unmeasurable, ill-defined and over-generalised platitudes
The first thing to recognise is that in IT, no two staff members are the same. No two staff members do the same job (even if they have the same job description, pay and conditions and boss) and no two staff members want the same thing from their employers.
So putting together a soundbite or two of what makes a successful organisation is absolutely no help to anyone - even if all organisations measured their success the same way.
You also have to recognise that a large proportion of your staff (maybe even most of them) are in the wrong job, at the wrong company. They got to their current position through a series of accidents and either can't, are too scared to try and change anything or simply have no real idea what sort of job they WOULD like - or be good at doing.
If you're lucky you might just stumble across some attributes of some employees that you can manipulate to control their behaviour. However there is no "one size fits all" approach - or at least not one that works. Some people like money and are prepared to work harder to get more of it. Some just want an easy life: counting down the days until they retire. While others want to earn enough to keep themselves going while having enough free time to make it all worthwhile. Apart from those types there are many, many more that defy description (apart from the bullies and competitive jerks who's rewards require them to sabotage the other workers) or who might even have changing priorities and desires as circumstances change.
However, the things that are most likely to help people do a good job are a clear understanding of what is expected from them, the feeling that there's a reason for doing the things they're told to and at least the illusion of competence from their boss. While those are still ill-defined and unmeasurable (and probably over-generalised platitudes, too) at least they sound like the real thing, and if you can fake that, at least there's some hope for you.
> It's just a shame there wasn't a course on dealing with sad arrogant IT tw@ts who as usual don't know what they're talking about.
Errr, isn't that why you took the second degree in Management?
They think the degree doesn't matter
Why is (an obviously employable subject) so unpopular with BRITISH students?
My small amount of observation has led me to the conclusion that most children in british schools receive very bad advice - or possibly, they also receive good advice which they choose to ignore. This comes from schools careers advisors and teachers who, themselves have no great incentive to push children into hard, technical subjects (some public schools may be the exception to this, I can't say - but it would explain a lot). Without getting into the whole debate about rearing children: should they do what they're told, or what they want to? there does seem to be a view that a university course should be one they like - not necessarily one that will get them a good job.
Now, maybe there's some merit in that, provided they are also told that when they graduate at age 21 they will only be marginally more employable than they were at 18, but with another 3 years "on the clock", some unrealistic expectations (fueled by the popular myth that any degree == a job) that they are "worth more" than someone who didn't go to university, and a large millstone of debt around their necks.
So given that their attitude is close to the idea that university is three years of partying with the occasional essay to hand in, and that they'll walk into a job at the end of it all, why should they pick a course that requires hard work and good "A"s? Especially when they haven't been encouraged to pick difficult subjects at school: what with the schools just wanting lots of A-grade passes for their league table position - irrespective of the subjects.
Next month's news: Ofcom deluged by dodgy invoices
> he realised that invoices were being paid without equipment being delivered
It's a well-known scam (particularly during the summer, when the single proficient person in a company is on holiday) to send bogus invoices/final demands to companies on the off-chance. I wonder how many other scammers got a nice little pay out due to Ofcom's slack and sloppy administration.
(and I wonder how many millions more they'll get after reading that they don't bother checking them)
Benefits, not features
We don't buy stuff for it's features, we but it because it gives us benefits. So, for assorted items:
Feature: higher fuel efficiency. Benefit: lower cost
Feature: thinner screen (irrespective of why it's thinner). Benefit: takes less space
Feature: faster CPU. Benefit: does stuff quicker
apart from the following
Feature: new, expensive tech. Benefit: bragging rights
there's little in the way of benefits to getting a 3D/led/internet TV. The programmes are the same, the remote control does nothing new and you still have 3 platefuls of spaghetti hanging down behind it. Until the TV makers come up with some BENEFITS of their new technological features, there's little point trying to sell them and even less point in buying them.
Why is this so hard for them to understand?
Cloud? Isn't it just outsourcing?
All you're doing is tossing your data over the wall into cheapo-land and hoping someone there will "do it" for you. It's really just the same as getting in a company that's better at running IT operations than you are, and having them annoy your users, instead.
However, it comes with a whole slew of extra disadvantages: you don't really know for sure where your data is, who's managing it, what their security is like, whether they are also hosting your competitor's stuff (and if said competitor is slipping someone a crafty tenner .... ) or even if the host's building will disappear into a hole, a flood, a bomb-crater or if it's just in somebody's garage. Worst of all, how can you get all your stuff back if/when/how the operation goes titsup. Which some, sooner or later surely will.
So basically The Cloud is really just Outsourcing 2.0 - just like ordinary outsourcing but with even fewer safeguards.
Bzzzt survey fail
Not wishing to pee on their parade (though I'm going to, anyway). This report misses out a lot.
For a kick-off, it starts with headlines about "who plays computer and video games" and comes up with the not-too-startling conclusion that 72% of americans do and that the average age of these 72% of americans is 37. Now, they're talking computer and video games. Presumably that includes Solitaire which is loaded on every PC, everywhere. Only later do they switch emphasis and start qualifying the results and talk about ONLINE games. Even then, they're only talking about 5% of the planet in one single country.
They also claim that the average age of people who buy computer games is 41. Well, duh, yeah! you'd probably find that the average age of childrens' parents is pretty dam' close to 41 - for exactly the same reason. But that doesn't tell you who decides what games to buy, or the age of the decision maker. or the age of the person who will play it most: "what game would you like for your birthday, little Jonny?" being a key question they seem to have forgotten about. Since a lot of the later results are about parents and children, they do seem to be aware of the difference in selling/buying patterns.
They also seem to be a little careless in differentiating people who play the odd game because their children wheedle them into it "pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeese come and play daddy", with pallid couch-potato, isolated 30-somethings who spend all their waking hours zapping some silly monsters in an RPG. Both count towards the average age, but they hardly share much in common.
So forget the headlines, they are only there to catch journalists' attention - but they don't convey any information about the habits of ordinary people, even in america which is all this is about. Not the rest of us.
Short answer: no
Let's summarise: The figurehead (retired) of a niche electronics firm has decided that one of their applications won't need users to have a PC any more.
What does that mean for the 90-something percent of ordinary folk who don't use their products? Answer: not a single dam' thing. The key to this answer is to realise that just because Apple is a "noisy" marketer -- the amount of publicity they produce is disproportionate to the number of units they sell -- doesn't mean they affect the lives of most computer users.
This is an EXCELLENT idea
Provided it's implemented as follows ...
ISP contractees get to answer one simple question and the level of censorship applied to that ADSL connection is then invoked completely. All the time. No exeptions. For every user. No other connections are allowed.
The question is: what is the age of the youngest under-18 who will have access to a computer connected to this ADSL line?
The degree of censorship is then set to this lowest common denominator. No "9 pm watershed" no exclusions for mummy and daddy. No loopholes for approved websites. Everybody gets the same. After all, you wouldn't like little Jonny or Joany accidentally logging on to an account someone else had left running, or discovering a parents' password and using their account. Nope, if your children really do need this much protection, then it must be applied across the board - think of the children!
Personally I reckon these accounts would last a couple of months, until all the parents kicked them into the long grass (all except for a few idealists, for whom the question was never about censorship, but about being seen to be better at protecting [or should that be emotionally stunting?] their little darlings, purely for school-gate bragging rights).
Once this happens we will see the whole initiative for what it is. Not something that's in the childrens' best interests, but merely a sop to remove the inconvenience away from the parents onto some anonymous "them". However, once this abrogation of responsibility has a cost or an effect on THEM, then I fully expect a flood of "the concerned" washing their hands of the whole sorry debacle and realising that everyday life does require people to grow up occasionally and the real trick is to equip our children for that time, not to try and hold back the tide and dumping the task on someone else.
It's a balancing act
> Subsistence farmers eat most of what they grow, and don't have much, if any, money.
ISTM the basic problem that Oxfam has is managing their donors. On the one hand they rely on the chattering classes to put their hands in their pockets to bail out the "poor hungry farmers" in dusty countries. On the other hand, if they turn these PHFs into productive, industrial workers the chatterers will worry that they're contributing to global warming with all their "new" CO2 emissions. [It's not lost on me that it's usually the 4x4 brigade who are so worried about other countries getting up to _their_ standard of living and "destroying the planet" with _their_ emissions]. Just as they now "tut" about the Chinese having the temerity to want electricity in their houses, and meat an' stuff.
Therefore to keep the donations flowing, and as has been pointed out: themselves in business, the PHFs mustn't starve to death, but mustn't get too consumerist either.
Luckily for Oxfam, that's very unlikely to happen as the dusty country's long-term problems are less about food and more about drought, war and corruption: all of which cause each other. Until someone cures those fundamental barriers to investment and growth, the PHFs and their families are pretty much doomed to a subsistence lifestyle - no matter how earnest Oxfam and their followers get.
Usual project phases
> Have I missed anything?
(presuming the Paralympics has their own spreddy of cultural thingies)
I'd suggest penciling in dates for:
mid-August: hunt for the guilty
August-October blame for the innocent
May 2013 (deadline forThe New-Years honours list) rewards for the uninvolved
The possible and the probable
I don't know if we can blame the lack of numerical literacy or the lack of credibility that "clever basterds" have, ever since Magnus Pike and Patrick Moore broke into song on The Morecambe and Wise Show. However the gap between what's possible (hint: almost anything) and what's probable (hint: very little) seems to have got lost in the mix, somewhere.
It's that lack of being able to quantify the risk in the statement that leads to a lot of the ludicrous decisions that get made these days. Yes, it's possible to get cancer from a cellphone. But is that more likely than dying from an infectious disease caught from an unsanitary handset? Unless the risks put into a meaningful context: HOW MANY people have died from cel[phone-induced cancers in the past 25 years? Am I likely to be one more? there is nothing but a little more free-floating anxiety which is probably more harmful to us, as a society, than all the one-in-a-trillian chances that make up daily life.
Personally I plan to ignore this scare story and carry on using my phone, inside it's tinfoil wrapper - though dialling numbers while wearing hazmat gloves is becoming a bit of an inconvenience.
Essentially, he wants to control it.
Standard government gnome's response to anything new: it must be regulated and brought under government control. After that, the next stage is to apply restrictions "to stop abuse" and ensure <whatever> remains safe and legal. Stage 3 is to start taxing it, ostensibly to "cover the cost of regulation" and later to limit it's use (though really, just to raise revenues).
As for "assuring the public that we are not creating a Big Brother state." just who does this guy think he's fooling?
Work harder for strangers?
So this professor is saying that the students are more motivated into being careful once they know that a bunch of complete strangers will read their work, than they are when they know their teacher will read it.
Tells you a lot about the amount of respect they have for their teachers.
Corporate OSS: somebody, somewhere pays for it
... and if the corporation that's "giving back" has customers and/or shareholders, that's who will foot the bill.
Leaving aside the loner hobbyist who hacks out code (but hardly ever documentation) in their own time and for their own reasons. They're different from industry-quality OSS contributions. However for corporately sponsored OSS there is a measurable cost: the developer costs money, the support costs money, the legal defence costs money, even the publicity and promotion costs money.
Now, I appreciate that it's customary to regard large faceless organisations, financial institutions and governments, as "them" - as if they exist in a parallel universe and receive and disburse money in a way that's completely unrelated to us and our "real-lives". However, their revenues come from somewhere and for every £ they spend, they've got to earn (at least) another £ from customers or taxpayers or investors.
And in party offices all over the country
activists, volunteers, passing members of the public and even trained monkeys are being paid out of MPs expenses and office management budgets to get their local representative to the top of the poll.
Never mind ability, vision, leadership, honesty <choke, splutter> or willingness to tow the party line. This is IMPORTANT, dammit.
So that's what they mean
by monky business
Very silly move
> wearing nothing more than his specs and a pair of trainers
He should have had his helmet on, too. Though the report contains a curious set of priorities:
"I saw a male on a bike with absolutely nothing on, not even a pair of socks" Hmmm, so that would've been OK, then - depending where the sock(s) were worn?
That's one helpdesk I wouldn't mind working on
Whenever the service has major faults, the desk goes quiet.
"Problems? we haven't heard of any problems? In fact it's not busy at all. Ahhh ...."
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