Feeds

* Posts by Pete 2

2351 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

DARPA overjoyed that its hypersonic glider came apart, blew up

Pete 2
Silver badge

The cost of impetuousness

> the US military would like to be able to deliver a warhead to any spot around the planet in less than an hour.

Whereas most other global purveyors of firey death would be happy to wait an extra day or two and send it by a more traditional means: DHL, anonymous shipping container, back of a Transit, etc.

Still, I suppose when you simply have to make the 6 o'clock news, extreme measures are necessary

5
0

Martha Lane Fox hits caps lock, yells at small biz websites

Pete 2
Silver badge

Goo Nuk

I think I see the problem

> the new movement ... <name of website>

It's kinda difficult to get people to become "netizens" by promoting a website to them. If they can get to the URL they're already converted.

Maybe next, she'll start promoting letterboxes with a mass-mailing campaign.

4
0

Killers laugh in face of death penalty threat, say US experts

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Crimes of dispassion

> ... many criminals will try to reduce the risk of long term prison. ... using a replica firearm ... get a shorter sentence if caught.

But that just illustrates the irrationality (and complete lack of actuarial sense) of criminals who do that. They are implicitly saying "if I rob some premises and get away with £1000 but get caught with a replica gun I'll only go to jail for X years, but if I use a real gun, I'll be locked up for Y years".

So they have done a calculation and decided that £1000 is a worthwhile reward for X years of lockup, but not for a longer term. It still seems to me that this is extraordinarily dumb behaviour and is a prime example of a crim still assuming they won't be caught - but just hedging their bets on the offchance they do.

1
1
Pete 2
Silver badge

Crimes of dispassion

OK all you criminals out there, hands up if ...

When you were planning your last heist (english translation - robbery) or slaying (murder), how many of you thoroughly worked out your plan and then ran the risk / reward possibilities through a spreadsheet before deciding whether to go ahead, or try something less risky instead.

No-one? How odd. You'd think that with "the needle" on the table, there'd be some sort of rational assessment on whether to embark on a life of crime. Maybe, it's just that people who slide into such a career (and it does seem to be a career - greater job "security" than most employment opportunities offer) aren't great at controlling their impulses - or have an innate view that they won't get caught.

If that is the reason then it explains why, 150 years after prisons became "popular" as a way of dealing with criminals, we still have a crime problem. After all that time, you'd think that if chokey worked as a deterrent, the problem would have gone away by now. As it is, the only things that a custodial sentence (or a terminal one) achieves is to remove the unsuccessful (i.e. the ones who get caught) criminals from society for a period and also, as Chris W says to satisfy the victims' and society's demands for revenge - or "justice" as it's usually called.

4
4

What kind of LOSER sits in front of a PC...

Pete 2
Silver badge

Where e-books go to die

> I can understand why people never like it when I ask what will happen if they go out of business, but it annoys me that they haven't considered the possibility.

We all already know the answer to this: they'll just disappear, along with the company (and your only recourse for complaint). it's not that they haven't considered the possibility, it's just that they have nothing to gain from telling you that all your investment in virtual goods and chattels are just that: virtual. They don't really exist, except in the benevolence of the supplier. And when that goes away, so does all the stuff you've paid them for.

5
0

'Perfect storm' drives electronics stores to EXTINCTION

Pete 2
Silver badge

No news here

This is by no means a new phenomenon - and it has nothing to do with the internet.

Even 20, 30 years back; probably even further, people were going into "hi fi" showrooms, asking about stuff and then going down the road to the box-shifters and buying it for less (generally much less). Even in the 80s and 90s it was hard for a specialist shop to come up with a reason why customers should pay top-price, when usually the only value-add was "and this one comes with OXYGEN FREE CABLES" and their opening question was always "how much have you got to spend?"

I can't say I'm sorry they're going, or gone. While it was nice to go into the back room and talk bollocks to a pretentious nerd: about phase-shift and "a slight brightness in the upper-mid range", it was nothing more than entertainment and no-one (well: almost no-one) took it seriously unless they were majorly maths deficient and couldn't tell a deci-Bell from a cucumber.

The same principle applies to pretty much all retail durables, desirables and consumables. Unless there's something unique and well-defined that makes highstreet shopping worth more than buying from a commoditised or internet outlets, there's little reason to keep them around.

Adapt or die.

6
1

Compulsory coding in schools: The new Nerd Tourism

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: I did Latin

It's not a question of teaching/not-teaching Latin, or any other subject. It's more a question of

"if we want to teach <subject>, what do we drop from the curriculum to make room for it?"

Around here, children get a bit less than 25 hours a week of being taught. There's only so much that can be squeezed into that time. Should Latin or computing be included - and if so at the expense of what?

0
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Pushing the rock

> computer programming is a meritocracy. Not everyone will get a prize, and nobody should get a prize just for trying

In a lot of places that's exactly what happens.

"Smith, it's time for your annual review. I see from your timesheets you've been working 60 hours a week. Excellent. Keep up the good work."

"Jones. It seems you've been getting in late and leaving early. We can't have that sort of behaviour, you're going to have to pull your socks up."

Far too many IT departments (and companies in general) reward effort: how much energy you expend trying to move a mysterious bug or a large rock, rather than the results achieved: one person with a JCB gets more done[1] in 10 minutes than an army of rock-pushers (especially if they're arranged in a circle - as that's the obvious way to apply more people to the task) does in a week.

However since too many decision-makers and salary-deciders have no methods for measuring IT productivity (which, for a lot of so-called IT "staff", is the only reason they still have a job) they decide your fate based on what they can quantify.

So instead of teaching children to code, maybe they would be more successful if they were taught to sleep with their eyes open. Although a lot of kids in a lot of classrooms seem to have already mastered that art.

[1] Or causes more damage, depending on skill and training.

1
0

Lesser-spotted Raspberry Pi FINALLY dished up

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Wuh? wuh, wuh, wuuuuuuhhhhh ...

> Explain to me how a $400 computer plus a thumb drive is a fraction of the costs of a $30 computer?

Nothing could be simpler to explain.

Schools already have PCs coming out of their metaphorical ears. They're everywhere. hence to plug in a thumbdrive containing "Raspberry Linux" requires no additional hardware and therefore no additional costs. The schools already have the PCs necessary to supply all the ancillary parts: power, keyboard, mouse, display. Total cost: a couple of quid for a USB stick.

Compare that to dropping a load of RPi boards into a school. On it's own, each board can do nothing. It has no power, keyboard, mouse or display. They don't come as part of the "$25" package and therefore have to be provided at extra cost by the school, as without them, the boards are useless. You can't "just borrow" the parts from existing PCs - as then those PCs can't be used until they are returned. Economically it makes no sense to disable a £300 PC in order to make a $25 device work.

It's not as if we're talking about a school in a faraway country. We're talking about Leeds - so the "cheap" solution is just to provide a software solution as a hardware one is neither helpful, efficient or reliable.

1
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Wuh? wuh, wuh, wuuuuuuhhhhh ...

> What could be the educational advantages of a Linux PC that runs off an SD card (easily reimaged if broken) and can be programmed in any number of languages, and can be put in a school bag? That costs £30. Including all the software. Tough one.

Yes, it IS a tough one.

Especially when you still have to provide a screen, keyboard, mouse and PSU before you can do anything with it. For use in schools these parts can't be cannibalised from other systems - or they will cease working, too.

A far better solution would be to have a standalone Linux in a thumb drive that plugs into an existing PC and boots Linux (presumably the PC the little darlings would be using for their existing work) and learning to program on that. They can then unplug it, take it home and continue their efforts if they wish. That way the PC, or: display, keyboard, mouse and PSU in this case, is still available for others to use. Whereas with an RPi, any instance of "please Miss, I left it at home" denies every prospective user of that device until forgetful small child brings it back in.

Since it took 6 years to develop the RPi, I can't help thinking that a some work on a thumbdrive/educational Linux could have achieved the same results many years earlier - and for a small fraction of the hardware costs.

Maybe it's not such a tough one after all.

4
21

BYOD sync 'n share

Pete 2
Silver badge

Am I right or am I wrong?

> it [iCloud] screws up calendar sync and iTunes music and film sync and that kills it stone dead for me.

> Dropbox doesn't do calendars or iTunes music/film sync but I don't care about that

It seems you care enough to dismiss iCloud for screwing them up. it's inconsistent to damn one service for messing up a feature, then saying later that it's not a feature you use or care about.

So to answer your question: you're wrong.

0
3

So what's the worst movie NEVER made?

Pete 2
Silver badge

Steven Livingston Seagull

An over-long concept piece about nothing in particular.

Featuring a seabird that can't act and a soundtrack by Adele, which quickly sends the bird into a state of total depression. He It is rescued by by a transcendental pigeon that teaches Steven the simple pleasures of pooping on statues. He learns that forgiveness is the key to growing as a bird, but flies off on a search to dive-bomb Adele, instead.

1
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Avatar-enders

2 solid hours of blue beings arguing. Nuff said, innit.

3
0

Google's Brin admits he under-estimated Chinese censorship

Pete 2
Silver badge

The joys of absolute power

That's the problem with living in a democracy: you tend to take things for granted. So we all blithely assume that we have and always will have a "right" to express ourselves (although in practice it's never been as far-reaching as it's fans would have you believe) by whatever means available. So we build our infrastructure without even acknowledging the assumption we've made. Whether we should consider the internet's inability to circumvent censorship as a bug is debatable. in the early days (ahh, so young, so naive) it was popular to say "the internet sees censorship as a fault and routes around it". That was fine until the assumption was tested and found wanting - presumably because none of the idealists ever thought than censorship could be done on such a wide scale.

The only question now is whether our western governments are quietly sidling up to the chinese and surreptitiously whispering "can you help us with our internet 'problem'?". Meanwhile, we're just waiting for the Big Yellow Taxi to turn up.

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

5
0

Euro climate probe Envisat silenced, boffins baffled

Pete 2
Silver badge

Better check its internal logs

Maybe it got too warm, or was really cooling, or used to be much hotter than it is now.

I'm sure a few talented philosphers climatologists could keep disagreeing with each other and slagging each other off in the popular press, about WHY it failed, to keep themselves on the gravy train for life.

That IS the name of the game, isn't it?

2
1

Laptop computers are crap

Pete 2
Silver badge

Plateaued

> My complaints about portable computers clearly hark back to the days when they really were crap

Oddly, my 1997 vintage Olivetti laptop would fit right in with today's offerings (apart from it having a sensibly proportioned 4:3 screen). Sure, it was slower and had less memory - but W95 (when it didn't crash) was so much faster, esp. without the need for anti-virus and more frugal that it balances out - ref: Wirth's Law.

The screen was a usable 12.1 inches, comparable with most screens today and the number, size and position of keys was exactly the same. So in terms of development, there's been little progress in the past 15 years. Even the screen resolution wasn't too far off todays low-end models (1024x768 vs. 1366x768 and in colour!). Battery life, too, was neck-and-neck.

The only thing that differentiates was the price: £3,600 back then and maybe 1/10th of that now.

So as far as crappiness goes, it seems like not much has changed.

2
0

Teens break up with Facebook

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: So the unprofitable users are leaving

> build a company with a long term future,

Yes, that's an other option. However, historically web-based businesses don't have a very long shelf-life, unlike well run "proper" businesses with tangible products. So if a major FB shareholder suddenly developed a philanthropic bent (or just felt the need for redemption), then IPO-ing, and cashing in his/her chips to go off and do good works seems to be the way forward.

0
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

So the unprofitable users are leaving

The kids, being kids, are all fluttering off to the next fashionable location. Does that really matter? they don't have much in the way of disposable incomes, anyway.

> An older Facebook demographic ... an audience with deep pockets,... consuming content and completing transactions

and that's where the money lies. I once read an article about tourism from the tourist manager of a large provincial town. The view there was that it's far better to have 1 visitor who spends £1,000 than to have 1,000 visitors who spend £1 each. Maybe if FB takes, or is forced down, that route it wouldn't be such a bad thing for them.

However, if I was Mr. FB I'd hardly be worrying. So long as the share price holds up until I can cash-out that's all that matters. After that no doubt he'll stand down so he can spend more time with his money and maybe (follow Gates) into doing some good, or colonising outer space, or buying a presidency or two - either for himself, or his friends.

1
1

Cloud Foundry aiming to be 'the Linux of the cloud'

Pete 2
Silver badge

Aim higher

> We really are aspiring for this to be the Linux of the cloud

Hmmm, so that would be: something few people use, fewer get to work properly and fewer still who make money from?

</funny>

0
1

Employers' group: New comp sci GCSE driven by vendor agenda

Pete 2
Silver badge

A little bit more

> the proposed GCSE runs the risk of turning out students qualified to support Microsoft or Cisco products

You'd kinda hope (maybe in vain) that people going into IT as a profession would have a little more than a GCSE in CompSci. If A levels are to be made harder, then that would at least start to separate out the chaff.

1
0

The Hardware Hacker's Guide to Home Automation

Pete 2
Silver badge

C4's "Home of the future"

Channel 4 did a series about this a month or two ago. After spending a quarter of a million quid (so they say) on kitting out a house, the overriding impression was that a lot of the gadgets weren't very good.

Yes, you can control the heating when you're out - but really: who cares (you're OUT) and you could probably watch live video of your house being burgled if you had the desire - but still couldn't do a dam' thing to stop it.

What the programme couldn't do was make the technology disappear - it still needed people to actuate and control it. All the programmes managed to do was to show off a few point-solutions to some rather unrealistic situations. The best example being the (hopelessly cliched) Roomba (other home vacuums are just as bad). Sure, it could go across an unobstructed and level floor and move the dirt around, but as a home vacuum cleaner it was and always will be a failure. How can it clean the stair carpet? What about the dust behind the TV cabinet? What chance of reaching the cobwebs on the ceiling? What about emptying it's own bag - not a chance.

And the same story played out for almost all the gadgets that feature in home automation / HotF articles. Eventually a person needs to step in and complete the job, or fill in for the gaps in the gizmo's abilities. What that means is not only do yo buy a gadget to do half a job, but you still need all the paraphernalia to do the work yourself.

Since houses are designed for people and built to a human scale, until and unless the gadgets take a similar or more adaptable form, we'll still be a slave to the technology: having to move the furniture so the little robot can get behind it to clean. FAIL.

3
1

US ecosystems basically unaffected by global warming, studies show

Pete 2
Silver badge

So it's business as usual

Give or take the odd hurricane, record-breaking heatwave and droughts. ... the climate's just as it's always been.

5
2

Ten... Living Room Gadget Treats

Pete 2
Silver badge

A small question

The only reviews or suggestions worth a dam' are from people who have actually bought kit with their own money, used it for several months and THEN written about their experiences: warts and all.

So: how many of the items listed does the reviewer own, himself?

For extra marks, what stuff does the reviewer own, and what's his view on that - good and bad?

3
1

FCO splashes millions on Johnny Foreigner's energy 'awareness'

Pete 2
Silver badge

The "b" word

CYNIC, n.

A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision. [ Devil's dictionary ]

Since most western countries have passed laws making bribery of officials illegal (sidenote: I wonder how many palms were greased to get those laws through?) You can't just bung a wad of dosh at a purchasing manager and hope for the best. No, you have to make it all look official, above board and thoroughly respectable. What could be more respectable than a government backed scheme to tell the russians how to use their oil reserves more efficiently?

Obviously it's not an inducement, as it's all out in the open - or at least it is now. And if the russians, or the indians or the chinese or anyone else was to just happen to decide to award some "consultancy" contracts to british firms? Well that just goes to show how effective government "grants" can be.

Corrupt? Moi?

4
0

Lords give automatic smut censorship bill the once-over

Pete 2
Silver badge

Indemnity

So if you don't opt-in for smut, does this provide an alibi if something "dubious" is later found on your computer.

"But constabubble, I never *asked* for pr0n, so it's not my fault ... "

Something tells me you'd still get banged up - though it would be interesting to see how the ISPs would weasel out of admitting liability, or paying compo for the "damage" caused.

5
0

Feathered Tyrannosaurus uncovered in China

Pete 2
Silver badge

Now that's what I call ...

> a ten-meter, 1½ ton distant relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex

... an Angry Bird

10
0

Arizona bill makes it illegal to 'annoy or offend' online

Pete 2
Silver badge

Loophole

One way to beat this law is to post complete rubbish and then plead insanity. If you can mangle the spelling and grammar as well, that adds reasonable doubt over what you actually said, or meant. Some might argue that a large proportion of internet users have been doing this for years.

5
0

Nuke plant owners to pay out up to £1bn per balls-up

Pete 2
Silver badge

and who eventually pays?

"This is an important step in transferring the cost of nuclear third party liability from taxpayers to operators customers,"

So all that will happen is that if a nuclear plant does go pop, all the people who got their electricity from that supplier will very quick switch, in the expectation that they will end up paying the fine through increased tariffs. All the other providers will, on the knowledge that Unlucky Leccy Inc will shortly be upping it's prices, themselves prepare price rises for all new customers who they will expect abandoning the old ship and joining someone without a billion euro millstone around their necks. Miraculously, those new rates from all the other suppliers will be just a smidge lower than the old supplier will now be charging.

0
0

30-year-old global temperature predictions close to spot-on

Pete 2
Silver badge

Predictions are like standards

There are many to choose from, just pick one that best describes the current situation.

Of all the predictions, forecasts, WAGs (wild-assed guesses if you ever watched Rubicon) and speculation it's hardly surprising that one of them wouldn't be within a credible range of what we see, after 30 years - especially if you draw the pink line thick enough.

The crucial point is NOT the accuracy of the prediction crystal ball, but the reasoning process that supported it. If that can be shown to be rational and valid, then there's some possibility that we can be confident in what it predicted (provided we don't move outside it's boundary conditions - or know where they are). However, if it's made up of a mish-mash of lucky coincidences that just happen to give rise tot he observed results, it's just as worthless as all the other ones that didn't happen to agree, randomly, with what actually happened.

6
0

Are you an ECO POET? Climate science needs YOU

Pete 2
Silver badge

Eco limericks?

They tell us the planet is warming

and the cause is the carbon we're burning

But no-one is sure

If we keep burning more

That the research will keep us in earning(s).

8
1

Bring-your-own-mobe pilot for BlackBerry-shunning council bods

Pete 2
Silver badge

Show me the money

I'd only want to risk using my own equipment at work if it made me more productive. Even then, I'd expect my employer to cover the cost of that risk: loss, damage, wear & tear - 'cos business use sure as hell isn't covered by my home contents insurance.

Further, it also appears that I'd be subsidising the company by not having them fork out for the tools necessary for my job.

So we have a situation where I'm doing more and/or better work, paying for the kit myself and bearing the risk if a co-irker makes off with it. Unless I see some hard cash (net of tax) to make up for all these benefits the company gets, I really don't feel the need to give away all that free stuff. Especially considering the pay rises over the past few years.

2
0

Yes, Prime Minister to return after 24 years

Pete 2
Silver badge

A long way past satire

The pivotal point about Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister was that someone was actually in charge - controlling what happened (or stopping things from happening). The gag was that it was never the (prime)-Minister.

What's changed in the intervening years is that nobody now believes anyone in Westminster is in control. All that our politicians and civil service do is run to catch up with events that happen around them and try to explain them away as "We meant that to happen", "It's not what it looks like", "Yes, it's terrible but it's not our fault" or "That is the fault of the other lot".

To make satire work, the programme has to lampoon the government and make it appear absurd. The sad fact is that in reality we're so far past the government actually being absurd that any satirical opportunities have vanished.

Rather than laugh at the ridiculous situations that arise, now most people would just nod sadly and say "Yup, that about sums it up."

3
0

Vote now for the WORST movie EVER

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: The worst of the best

> mostly big-budget films and many have high reputations

Yes, so they're not really the worst films, just the ones that were promoted as being good and failed to meet expectations. So that would make them the most disappointing movies.

0
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

The worst of the best

None of these films really counts as "worst", they're simply bad films that managed to salvage something (not a lot, but something) by spending their way out of awfulness.

To get to the truly bad films, you have to go down a couple of levels to films that had neither the money, not the script or acting talent to produce anything of worth. However, since nobody watches anything that bad, knowledge of their existence is, mercifully, highly restricted. If you do want to discover the real worst of the execrably worst just have a look at the UK Syfy Channel's filmic offerings for any randomly chosen week.

1
0

LOHAN demonstrates impressive sucking skills

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: getting lower pressure

6 - fill a significant volume of the chamber with water (in one or more strong plastic bag). Use a water pump to empty the bag(s). The decrease in waterbag volume will further reduce air pressure inside the chamber. Heavy duty water pumps are more common than heavy duty vacuum pumps.

4
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Shedcam please

When you do apply the suck to REHAB, can we please have a video record of the outside of the garden shed? Once you start sucking the air out of it, the pressure on the shed's walls will increase a lot. We've all watched video of pumps evacuating oil cans and seeing them getting crushed by external air pressure. However, I've never seen a garden shed implode for that reason and it would be kinda interesting.

0
0

Climate-change scepticism must be 'treated', says enviro-sociologist

Pete 2
Silver badge

communicationg science

> a "science of communicating science"

Isn't that one of the things education is supposed to be about? If you try to communicate a concept without the recipient having the intellectual tools to understand it, all you get is folk-lore, superstition and regulations.

1
0

Everything you thought you knew about cybercrims is WRONG

Pete 2
Silver badge

Make IT security seem even worse

> many fraudsters ... possess only rudimentary IT skills

At least if cyber criminals (or, more correctly: criminals) were evil masterminds with a brain the size of a planet there would be some, not totally lame, excuse for the number of attacks, break-ins, hacks and pwns. But if hey turn out to be only as bright as the average Joe, that doesn't put their nemesises (memesii?): the IT "experts" employed to keep them out is a very good light.

The few times the police actually DO anything about cyber crime, we often hear that the perpetrator was highly-skilled, elite, an expert or genius. That obviously bigs up the skills of the person (a policeman 'natch) who caught them and puts them on a par with Sherlock Holmes fighting his (fictional) arch-adversaries. Now we're being asked to believe that isn't the case - so presumably the police's "experts" are at a similar level of rudimentary-ness in their IT skills: just a bit luckier in their "collars".

0
0

100 EARTH-LIKE PLANETS orbit stars WITHIN 30 LIGHT-YEARS!

Pete 2
Silver badge

So WE are the aliens

Since Red Dwarves are much more common than G-class stars such as our Sun, it follows that if complex live can come into being near a RD it will be more common than our Yellow-star type of life-forms (chlorophyll, DNA, etc.). That's assuming that life in systems of similar star-types share some sort of commonality - a big IF.

In that case, maybe they are all chattering to each other in Red-Dwarvish and it's us, with our "yellow-star speak" who neither recognise their existence, not share common traits. So when we do finally make contact with the massed hordes of other intelligences, we could be the ones who are oh, so different.

2
0

Friends Reunited rebrands as memory bank for oldsters

Pete 2
Silver badge

Failure to monetize

bought for £120m

picked up ... for £25m

worth about $5m (or £3m, to keep the units comparable)

and the same pattern will unfold for every social site if it can't figure out how to produce something it's followers value (i.e. will pay for), as opposed to simply use 'cos it's free. The biggest threat that FaceBook presents to the IT sector is that it WILL float the majority of its shares (not merely the token effort announced so far) and that WILL suck $100Bn from the daft, rich and easily led investors. Soon follweed by a FR-style plunge off the financial cliff. I have no problem with fools and their money -- but it's the knock-on IT doom that's sure to follow which concerns me.

3
0

Sitting down all day is killing you

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: * Clients generally dont accept invitations in bedrooms.

> You need better clients.

Or a better bedroom

6
0

Norfolk lobs out top council gigs on Twitter

Pete 2
Silver badge

A new paper size standard

> using social networks could help to cut down on the amount of paperwork

So rather than wasting a huge amount of space on an A4 sheet, how about we all adopt A10 sized sheets as the standard for twitter messages. These 37x26mm (1 by 1 and a half inches, for those living in Liberia, Myanmar and other non-metric countries) postage-stamp sized sheets are ideal for jotting down a 140 character message. Not only will they save a great deal of paper, but if a council official feels like losing a year's worth of confidential (tweets? confidential?) information, they can always be used as confetti.

0
0

Privacy worth piffling pennies to polled punters

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Flawed study?

> My mobile phone number is a different matter

But aren't these marketers just looking for *a* mobile number - one that fits the expected format: i.e. starts "07" (in the UK) and with the requisite number of digits?

Extra points if you can ascertain the marketing firm MD's mobile number and plug that in.

7
0

You're crap and paid too much for the little work you actually do

Pete 2
Silver badge

@Steve KNox

Yes, I know about the "funny money" accounting principles used to justify projects. God knows I've written enough cost cases myself. Some - maybe 1 in 10 do turn a profit and are extremely successful. However most IT-ers can draw no link between what they have achieved / produced in any given day, month or year and any measurable income, let alone profit.

To take someone else's example: what is the "profit" from last night's backup?

I've been quite lucky in that I've spent a lot of time automating a lot of IT processes. In that respect I can make reliable statements that a given piece of AutoIT3 code saves a specific number of person*hours per year. Or that a named shell script saves so-many IT administrator-hours per week. That shows a direct relationship with money going out the door. However I can't do the same for the time spent in a weekly team meeting or project review.

As it is, companies don't run on money; they run on budgets. So, as long as you have some (imaginary) money left in your budget at the end of the project/period, nobody seems to care how you got there - or if it could be done better, faster or cheaper. The successful teams aren't the ones that achieve their goals, they're the ones who manage to wrangle a larger budget than their needs require (and therefore gain a reputation for coming in "under budget"). Those are the ones who get the rewards and recognition, not the guy who's 100 lines of optimised code invisibly saves a £million a year.

2
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

The problem _is_ management

The fundamental issue is that no matter how brilliant an IT-er we (all) are. No matter how many problems we fix / avoid / shift the blame for, the amount we can earn is limited by how well the employer does as a whole. No matter how many hours we work, what new applications (bug-free: of course) we implement or business processes we improve if someone above our pay grade makes a monumentally stupid decision, we're still in a sinking ship.

Sure, you can leave and explain to the next manager how all the people at his/her level in your last job were all idiots. But that won't win much in the way of sympathy - and if you make a habit of it ... well, nobody want to employ a job-hopper.

Probably the best that you, as an IT person, can do is to plant some pr0n on the relevant manager's PC and get them kicked out (the good of the many outweighs the good of the one) before they do irreparable damage to your pay prospects. However, there's only a limited amount of smut available and a seemingly endless supply of duff managers.

4
2
Pete 2
Silver badge

Productivity != Profitability

IT staff don't get paid what they're worth to the company - that's almost certainly true. The sad fact is that most of us get PAID FAR MORE than the profit they bring in would support. Sure, there are other requirements: such as meeting legal/financial obligations, but for most people in IT - whether programmers, testers, designers, support people, project manglers, QA-ers, planners, or trainees there is no direct connection between what they do and their employers' income. You cannot point to a line of code and say "I wrote that, and it earns us £1,000 a year."

At best, IT people can say "without us, the business would be much less efficient and have to employ many more staff, to do things manually." However that's full of intangibles, suppositories, and guesswork. Luckily no CEO has ever challenged that theory (like no CEO ever has the cojones to go into the datacentre and press the BIG RED BUTTON to see of the D.R. plan actually works).

On the flipside, this does mean that an IT-er should be able to write a reasonably credible account of themselves. Since nothing is tangible, accountable or verifiable you can easily say "I earned the company £X,000 last year (where "X" should be greater than your salary and expenses, employers NICs and office rental). and no-one will be able to challenge it. It could fall apart if some sharp-eyed HR person spotted that the entire justifications of the IT team came to more than the company earned - but that'll never happen: they're all too busy trying to justify their own, even more tenous raison d'etre.

2
4

WTF... should I pay to download BBC shows?

Pete 2
Silver badge

A lucky escape

" child comes home from school with homework to make a presentation ... logs onto the BBC library. They search for real moving pictures ... They download them and, hey presto, they are able to use the BBC material in their presentation for free."

And hey presto the child gets a FAIL for plagiarism - though I suppose that in 2003 nobody was too concerned with that.

0
1
Pete 2
Silver badge

A new start

The BBC is not exactly known for it's efficiency: cost or otherwise. It also has very little incentive to be fiscally responsible, since it effectively gets it's annual billions without having to lift a finger. Consequently, they are probably not the best choice for providing a cost-effective service to restore, convert, catalog and host what must be petabytes of "stuff" that people may wish to download.

Maybe what needs to happen is that all the BBC archives are wrested from their control, they concentrate on broadcasting programmes and let a separate body - built with a sound commercial basis (i.e. not a quasi-governmental body) deal with the online stuff. Considering the BBCs history, and charter, it's questionable whether they could justify their existing online presence - let alone serving gigabytes to millions of households on a daily basis. If there was to be a different organisation created, they could be given a more contemporary remit - and without the baggage that the BBC currently has. You never know, if the new guys started to make a profit, they could even start commissioning programmes of their own.

4
10

LOHAN's fantastical flying truss menaces kiddies

Pete 2
Silver badge

Death from the skies

> Well, the balsa wood truss weighed a hefty 173g,

That's fair enough, but a titanium rod could easily skewer an unwitting land-dweller (comments about "especially if you sharpened the end" will be omitted for reasons of taste, ooops!)

1
0

LOHAN to straddle meaty titanium rod

Pete 2
Silver badge

Icing on the cake

> Air France 447

Now that brings up the very real question of how to deal with ice forming on the launch rod, to the extent where it blocks the free running of V2. (Or weighs-down the whole kaboodle and makes it un-aerodynamic)

I guess the pragmatic answer is to launch on a clear day, so the ascent is not through cloud: no matter how high/thin it may seem to be

1
0