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* Posts by Pete 2

2257 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

LOHAN preps Vulture 2 for hot vinyl wrap

Pete 2
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cheapskates!

> it made perfect sense to bring the aircraft over

And here was me hoping it would be flown over on the back of a Jumbo Jet

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MPs blast HMRC for using anti-terrorism laws against whistleblower

Pete 2
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Re: Margaret Hodge "shocked to her bone"

Yes, it makes you think that finally someone's put a TASER to good use.

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Pete 2
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Lawmakers and the law

> ... laws put in place to combat terrorism to investigate an employee

The most worrying aspect is that someone who plays a key role in creating laws, is so clueless about how they get used.

Hodgey-poos seems to think that once a law is enacted, there is some sort of magical process that makes lawyers read it and think "yes, this is obviously only to be applied in certain, restricted situations - it's not a general-purpose law that could be applied universally".

The basic point is that law is like badly written computer code that isn't tested before it's released. It's vague, imprecise, subject to interpretation by those (judges) who execute it and doesn't have any IF THEN ELSE protections to govern when and how it is invoked. Think SQL: it describes the desired outcome not the process of getting there.

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IBM Boffins KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE, thanks to Twitter

Pete 2
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Persons, places and things

So if you tweeted:

It's great to see Paris again or

Just got back to Devon, or even

Philly is a sight for sore eyes

Would you infer a location, the name of a partner or even just being reunited with your pet dog?

Given the old adage that There are lots of girls in Watford called Chelsea but no girls in Chelsea called Watford, this sort of "magicking data out of nothing" is a very haphazard affair.

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What does people-centric IT mean, anyway?

Pete 2
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Do this if you want to destroy IT

> "You have to let the user work in the way that they want." ... while unifying their environment

How does that work - exactly?

You can work the way you want to, as long as you use a "unified" environment. That sounds to me a lot like You can have any colour you want, so long as it's black.

Personally I have always considered standards to be a good thing (so long as they are sensible ones). So we have standard sizes for paper, at standard length*width ratios (in almost every country, except for a few "outliers") - so that you don't need to buy "HP" sized paper to fit in their, and only their, printers. We have standards for petrol, so that a Ford car will run on any brand - and we have standards for I.T. so that someone can fill your job while you're off sick, or in the slim chance you get promoted (hint: never make yourself indispensable: people that a company can't do without can't be promoted) or find a better job.

So to have every worker doing things their own way is the shortcut to chaos. Even if they do decide to document it, then "doing it their own way" doesn't even mean the documentation has to be in your national language - or Klingon.

Apart from the basic mistakes in the thinking, this piece of inspiration from Microsoft just sounds like a collection of marketing phrases and management b/s mixed together in an attempt to convince people who should know better, that following this path will get them a better, happier and more efficient IT implementation - and workers who feel enabled and valued (and since it's always and only ever about money - willing to work for less, too). Right up, that is, until the time when you get someone else's "done their own way" work to pick up and support.

It'll all end in tears,

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Oculus Rift? Tchah, try 'Oculus Thrift' ... You bet your vrAse we tested these bargain VR specs

Pete 2
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Might want to re-think the name

Maybe I'm just having a Paris in the the spring moment, but I keep reading the product name as v-arse.

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Eight hour cleansing to get all the 'faggots' and 'bitches' OUT of Github

Pete 2
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Re: Equal or !=

> It's not PC gone mad. It's PC gone mentally challenged. Thanks

Actually I was hoping for a variant on EFAULT¹ (bad address) when you get a pointer wrong - or in this case the PC (Program Counter) as a play on words acronyms. Looks like I didn't set the gag up well enough.

[1] man errno

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Pete 2
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Equal or !=

> there is no place for ... any other kind of exclusive attitudes

So provided one's comments are equally offensive or abusive to all people, you're fine?

Hmmm.

( how about an addition to <errno.h> EOFFENCE - PC gone mad ? )

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Blighty goes retro with 12-sided pound coin

Pete 2
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A question of balance

> the 20p and 50p had an odd number of sides

Yes, but you can't have fun and games seeing how many you can stack, on edge.

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MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide

Pete 2
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Re: From the horse's mouth...

> ...an old friend of mine is a fairly senior manager at a well regarded airline. He says no one has a clue what happened and that lines up well with Mr Page's last paragraph.

And that's where the effort should be focused.

If I was the chinese authorities, I'd charter another plane of the same type and fly it over the same route. Then replicate the actions we *know* happened, gather the same information from the same radars and satellites (assuming the malaysian authorities will comply - if not, that tells you something, by itself) and see what possibilities turn out to be impossibilities and who's telling porkies.

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Pete 2
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Re: Here's more sensible analysis...

I was just about to post the exact same link (as published by a commentard from The Independent, this morning).

Sadly, I have to say that the simplest explanation is the most likely: fire & crash.

The worrying thing is that so many people are so ready to believe intricate conspiracy theories about terrorism and/or crime. Though I guess this is the news media's version of nature abhorring a (information) vacuum. Gotta instill some fear to sell the papers.

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WTF is … the multiverse?

Pete 2
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Multiverse? So 1990's, THIS universe is someone's simulation

So the theory goes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/opinion/sunday/is-the-universe-a-simulation.html?_r=0

For the TL:DR types: The universe is sooooo big that it inevitably contains beings with far more technological ability then we have. However, even at our level we build mathematical models and computer simulations. Therefore it's reasonable to expect that so do these super-beings. And since simulations are much easier to make than "reality" is, there are probably far more simulated universes than real ones.

One question that they might like to answer simulate would be: what would other universes look like? And one way to find out, would be to run some models. Hello!!!! here's one and we're in it.

Of course, this theory fades into infinity, as those super-beings are almost certainly inside someone else's simulation .. and so on.

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Toshiba baby OCZ flings open coat, bares PCIe flasher to world

Pete 2
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Virtual bits?

> pricing and availability information

Without that there's nothing.

Once the device is on the shelves and has some independent user reviews: then we can talk.

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Proper boffins make your company succeed, even if you're not very technical

Pete 2
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Getting the right people starts at the top

> dispel the popular idea that innovation means growth.

indeed. Innovation can mean producing a lot of new products that are crap, too narrowly focused, too expensive to get into production, not as good as the chinese version at half the price (or: better than the chinese version, but far too expensive and not on sale to 1.3Bn chinese) or not what anybody wants. In that case innovation can simply be the fast track to closure.

The greatest asset a company can have (at least a company who's size is such that a couple of turkeys in a row means death or takeover - if anyone would want to take it over) is someone who knows what is both possible and desirable. Techies are phenomenally bad at knowing what's possible and even worse at knowing what the average customer can be persuaded to buy.

However, that doesn't mean they have no place in a HIFs. They just have to controlled properly, partnered with the correct production, marketing and design people and receive clear direction from the company about the sort of product areas they should be addressing. Sadly, british firms are terrible at doing any of those things, let alone all of them at once. Even if the techies et. al. come through, and make their company a fortune, loyalty is usually seen as a one-way street, so they're just as likely to get the axe when the company fails in a future venture - possibly with a "Cheerio and thanks for all the fish", but still out on their arses.

So, there is no magic STEM fairy that a government can simply drop into smallish companies and turn them into successes - especially trying that with freshly graduated STEMs. Instead, the motivation has to come from the top: C-level types (all of them, not just the CIO) have to be willing to have confidence both in their own ability to recruite the correct set of original thinkers (technical and all the rest) and also in their own ability to plot a way forward, for these thinkers to come up with the right solutions to the correct problems. Once the people at the top do their jobs properly (instead of heaping expediency on top of compromise, without looking ahead further than the next quarter's figures/bonuses), then the right people will become apparent. But they won't appear fresh out of college with a bow around their necks.

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Amazon wants me to WEAR NAPPIES?! But I'm a 40-something MAN

Pete 2
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What they think they know

> Amazon, Google and all the others have been assiduously tracking, carefully storing and relentlessly re-using information about us.... for years

And still they make a total balls-up of analysing it. So imagine what a mess a government run tracking scheme would be. Without even the incentive for getting it right, of making a profit?

Yet this is what we get. With all the surveillance, meta-data, guilt by association and treating all their citizens like criminals: even before they start correlating the data they get from our everyday activities.

They say that if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide. The problem, as this example illustrates, isn't that the bad things you (may) have done will come to light - it's the incorrect conclusions and false-positives that get drawn from poorly analysed data collections. Even from the world's best commercial operators.

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Brawling neighbours challenge 'quiet' cul-de-sac myth

Pete 2
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Tip toe through the cat crap

> news writers find it extremely difficult to write the term without adding the epithetic "quiet"

They're quiet because they have no through traffic.

None, that is, apart from the poxy cats - hordes of lazy, over-fed moggies, which most of the residents (except yours truly) seem to have. All of which appear to be bred specifically to deposit their "output" only on the lawns and paths of non-cat owners and the nearby pavements. Some sort of feline revenge?

As for being dangerous places? Dam' right. Do you *know* how slippery that stuff is?

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Netflix needling you? BBC pimps up iPlayer ahead of BBC3 move

Pete 2
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Surfers paradise

> 42% of visitors are now coming without a particular programme in mind.

So viewers are treating iplayer as a "goto" channel. They (we?) aren't interested in catching-up on any particular programme but just want something to watch. Rather than turn on their TV, if they have one nearby, they are surfing iplayer in the same way that others surf TV channels or youtube.

In this situation iplayer is no longer there to support broadcast TV, but is a product in its own right. One can assume that the 42% of iplayer surfers will increase over time - if for no other reason than this new iplayer interface makes that form of viewing easier - and therefore iplayer will become competitive with ordinary TV as a source of entertainment.

The question that begs is when and how will it be monetised?

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How to shop wisely for the IT department of the future

Pete 2
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Fear, Ignorance, Laziness, Greed

My experience of consulting in large organisations is one of mixed emotions.

On the one hand, it appears that navigating the purchasing process is long and arduous (and occasionally: random). It takes a lot of meetings, proposals, cost-benefit analyses, persuasion and horse-trading to get your project or upgrade financed. A side effect of this is that those who are experienced (i.e. have gone through the whole mess once before) will minimise the amount of stress they are subjected to.

There are many strategies for this. In no particular order:

Overstating the benefits. Since nobody can measure things that haven't happened, and everyone expects some degree of exaggeration, project benefits will always be higher on paper than in real-life. The only people who really, truly believe (or at least: repeat) them are politicians and the P.R. people. However, if you want your project to be approved, you have to be ready to make some outlandish (but not too extreme) claims for the benefits it will provide.

Padding the proposal Everyone expects to get less than they ask for. Hence they include some sacrificial lambs in the shopping list of stuff, so that when they are told they have to cut 20% off the costs, there are some items that can be axed. The trick seems to be to not make the paring-back process look too easy, or the bean-counters will ask for more. The problem is, that sometimes these (obviously padded) costs don't get challenged.

The twofer You have a BIG project that is critical for the business. You also have a few pet projects that you'd like to get done, too. The trick seems to be to merge them all into one, indistinguishable pile of interdependencies, so nobody can question why you need a 10TBmedia server for the LAN upgrade project. That way you only have to go through the pain and suffering of getting one single approval, rather than many. Most bean counters' eyes glaze over when you try to explain to them the technical stuff - frequently they'll sign-off on your requests just to get you to stop talking.

The bigger, the better It's a curious fact of business life that the more you ask for, the less resistance you meet. Say that your project will cost £100k and all sorts of people will stick their noses in: questioning your costs, asking if it's really necessary, can it be put off to next year (i.e.: cancelled)? But ask for £30 Mil and they'll all assume that you're serious and the organisation will be doomed to failure, or a takeover, or become uncompetitive, if your project gets the can.

As a consequence most middle-layer managers will submit proposals for a small number of mega-projects, rather than for what they need in reality: which is a dozen or two projects every year split between new work, upgrades, revamps and the occasional bit of blue-sky funding that might pay-off in 5 years time. The problem is that the people who's job it is to vet these submissions are unable to tell which ones are vital and which are pie-in-the-sky.

On the other hand, the mixed emotions I feel is that I am often in a position where I see these vanity/over-complicated pieces of work getting approved (real-life quote from an earlier boss: "it doesn't matter, it's only an extra 60k") when I know they are mostly unnecessary - but then again, they do pay for my consultancy time.

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Foxtel's new football-watching shirt THROBS after every tackle

Pete 2
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Having a splashing time

> Fox Footy also advises that the shirt should not be washed

But one would hope, nay: require, that the shirt was beer-proof - otherwise I would expect its service-life to be measured in minutes ... or until the player's teams' first score.

'corse, if Fox or BT Sport was ever to try the same sort of shirt over here, it would need a function whereby it called an ambulance, so the wearer could be stretchered off in agony sympathy, any time one of the opposition gave him a gentle shove.

Finally, should we wait for the s*x channels to produce similarly "equipped" garments, too?

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PM Cameron leaps aboard Internet of Thingies

Pete 2
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Re: Write once, copy many

> here I sit in a building with hundreds of software engineers, in a company with thousands

So I'll take a wild stab in the dark and venture you don't work for Whatsapp. Market value (if you can really believe that) of $19Bn and 50 employees.

The point I was hoping to get across with that rather trite example is that successful, new, IT outfits have heee-oooge valuations (if not actual, you know: value) but it doesn't take many employees to produce it. Compare that to a "proper" company, like Ford, that makes stuff. They have a value of about three times Whatsapp's¹, but employ over 200,000 people - and if you include its third-party suppliers tere's many more. If a politician wants to create jobs in his/her/its country, then massively over-valued IT companies aren't the way to do it

[1] http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/f

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Pete 2
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Re: A fridge that can order you beer ...

> if it ordered beer by itself,

and what if it nagged you once it had ordered your "limit" of 21 units, weekly. Or worse: refused to order any more, for your own good?

How about one that "knew" there was an under 18¹ y/o in the house and wouldn't open the fridge door until after they had left.

The thing about the IoT is to make sure that it knows who's in charge.

[1] other arbitrary age limits are available. Just don't buy a grey-import IoT device or you might go thirsty for no good reason.

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Pete 2
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Write once, copy many

The problem that Cameron has missed is that software and IT doesn't create many jobs. You have a small (comparatively) team or company that writes an app, or some industrial firmware. That is then published & sold, downloaded millions or billions of times and used everywhere. You still only have quite a small company doing the work - it's just that the company is earning a great deal of money from its success, fame and fortune.

But it's not creating any more jobs.

There is possibly some intangible benefits that accrue to the users: greater efficiency, faster operations, lower costs. But these don't flow back tot he original company that created the software and the benefits confer no competitive advantage on this country as a whole. Even worse, if the company that created this successful app feel they are being too highly taxed, it's very, very easy for it to move to a lower tax (and probably less rainy) country and be just as successful there.

Now consider the manufacturing companies that The Big C is proposing the UK IT "industry" partners. Every widget they make has a human element to it. Sure, the production lines are automated, but they still need people to maintain them, perform some manual operations (even if that number is minimal), pack the physical products, ship and transport them and physically sell them. So each widget produced has some need for workers - the more widgets made, the more workers employed, hence a greater gain for the country where the stuff is made. And if the same country has the skills and industrial base to make the equipment that makes the widgets, you have a double success story.

So while having an IT industry might be trendy, it doesn't do much to directly reduce unemployment and greater success doesn't necessarily lead to more job.. Neither is it particularly permanent in terms of staying and investing in any given country if taxation becomes unfavourably high. So it seems to me, that in this IoT partnership, the Germans have got the tasty end of the candyfloss, and the UK is stuck with the stick.

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Google facing $5 BEEELLION antitrust fine in India

Pete 2
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That's the way to do it!

If you're going to use fines as punishment (leaving aside the "who ultimately pays" issues, this is a good strategy for foreign companies) then fine them BIG TIME. The americans fined BP over £10 Bn for the gulf oil spill and that is the level that seems necessary to be taken seriously - as well as being a nice little earner for the folks back home.

If foreign companies are so willing to take the pi mickey about paying taxes in the UK, then I see nothing wrong with using punitive financial measures against them. It sure beats extracting taxes from citizens.

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Women! You too can be 'cool' and 'fun' if you work in tech!

Pete 2
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The kiss of death

Having an EU bureaucrat extolling the virtues of something is surely the simplest way to turn most people off it.

Let's face it, most people are NOT COOL - just watch them dance if you need proof. Most people don't even try to kid themselves they are cool and the ones who do usually end up worse off than if they'd done nothing to "improve" in that area. So why should "cool" be considered an attractive or aspirational property?

The basic issue is that thinking has been demonised. Most of the publications (both printed and web) place far more importance on appearance than content and most newspapers tabloids never have a good adjective to say about anyone who demonstrates an IQ over 100. TV follows the same path: with the most popular programmes and channels being the least intellectually stimulating.

What we (in IT) need is the sort of publicity that sport has got. Even if most people are still couch potatoes and only ever exercise their channel-changing finger, they do still talk about and show an interest in physical activities. If you want to motivate people, a sporty role model is often the way forward. The question is: how do you get abstract, intangible ideas to become sexy? How do you make theoretical analysis interesting? How is it possible to persuade "the man in the street" to talk about philosophy, mathematics or op-codes when he's in the pub?

Maybe those are the issues Neelie Kroes could work on, once he's solved the gender inequalities of IT

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Review of UK data protection: Should fines go OVER HALF A MIL?

Pete 2
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Who pays vs. who is responsible?

Fines (especially at this level, for multinationals) are as the article says "a drop in the ocean". However no matter what level fines are set at, they still only get paid by the organisation as a whole - or more likely: by the shareholders or tax-payers who ultimately suffer the loss. They don't punish the individual who was responsible for security and who made (or failed to make) the decision that led to losing data that other people had entrusted to the company. Since it's individuals who get the rewards, it's reasonable that they should be held to account for their failures.

If you really want to focus the attention of the people in charge, jail time is required.

The spotlight should start at the top of the organisation, and only move down to lower-ranking named individuals if or when it can be shown that the person in question could not have influenced, made, or reversed choices that led to an insecure IT operation.

There is already an offence called Misconduct in Public Office which can carry a heavy sentence. Maybe all that's needed is to extend this and (like with pretty all existing laws) simply start to use it, rather than create even more new laws.

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Psssst. Don't tell the Bride, but BBC Three is about to be jilted

Pete 2
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Re: Not Necessarily Bad

> As has been pointed out elsewhere, even if BBC3 goes online only

And how will the BBC justify having a channel (SD/HD? never watched it, can't say) and a primo slot in the EPG lying used during TV prime time?

That sounds even more wasteful than broadcasting crap on BBC3 - even if it does save them a little money.

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Hey doc, what's the PC's prognosis? A. Long-term growth below zero

Pete 2
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First derivative

The number of newly shipped PCs tells up nothing about the size of the installed base. All it says is that it is not growing as fast as previously - it could still be growing, or it could be shrinking but this data cannot tell us which. And since there are no figures for the number of units that get junked, or just switched off and left in a corner there is no easy way to know that number (it can be inferred, but that's just another word for "guessed").

So all we have is something akin to a measure of airspeed. On its own it tells us nothing about how far we've traveled - and without knowing the speed of the air we're in: head, tail or cross wind we can't even say if we're going backwards or not.

File under: insufficient data, Captain.

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Windows XP market share GROWS AGAIN, outstrips Win 8.1 surge

Pete 2
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The secret is in the name

Since everyone loves XP, why don't MS do the obvious and rename Windows 8 as XP2?

"On yes, unknowledgable customer - it IS Windows XP, only better!"

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Crack Euro banker team to probe whether virtual currencies should be regulated

Pete 2
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Proceeds of crime?

> risk of money-laundering activity through the trading of virtual currencies may arise

So what we really need is a (covertly) government backed virtual currency that is somehow made attractive to crims. Have them deposit all their ill-gotten gains in the virtual currency and then do a "MtGox" (how long until to gox becomes a word?) on it.

The result is that you've grabbed their loot and, assuming they are dim enough, you could set up a relief fund that they can apply to, for refunds. When they do - you can grab them, too.

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Anti-snoop Blackphone hits shelves in June: NOW we'll see how much you value privacy

Pete 2
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The long necked chicken

... is the first to get the chop.

So it is with crowds. If you stand out, you attract attention. So having a "black" phone that is supposedly secure against all the thing the designers found were easy to do (but that completely misses those that are difficult, or that the designers lacked the knowledge/ability/imagination to consider) will be the phone that attracts attention.

Sure, if your security really is good enough to withstand the inevitable extra scrutiny, then that's OK. Except you'll never know - since the security organisations won't be considerate enough to let you know when they've hacked, cracked or whacked all the little defenses your $3-digit device put up against their multi-billion $$$$ counter-counter-measure tools.

As the article says a challenge any secure phone has is still traffic analysis. However, that's more than a challenge - it's a gaping hole as wide as the Grand Canyon. That's why (when they were used) government "intelligence" radio stations would broadcast 24 hours a day, whether there was any threat or situation or not. As they knew well, that merely the act of increasing the amount of radio "chatter" was all the other guys needed to know that you'd rumbled them. So the only way these phones could add to the security of the user would be to keep a connection to "the other guy" 24*7¹. Somehow I don't think that people value their security enough that they'd be prepared for that much of a bill every month.

[1] Though I do know a few particularly talkative types who are already pushing the limits of their vocal chords and phone's batteries in that direction.

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Fanbois sent into FITS of RAGE by fake Steve Jobs statue competition

Pete 2
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Havin' a larva

> an Apple mole told ...

Is that some sort of maggot?

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But... you work in IT... Why aren't we RICH?

Pete 2
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> Typing a Spong! message will be called "Spinging".

and getting finance will be sponging?

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Pete 2
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It's the reviews, not the tech, that matters

> After all, the industry is choc-a-bloc with shit technology ...

Yes. shit technology - and even shittier apps - that gets glowing reviews from journalists who only ever read the publicity material, have neither the will, ability nor time to actually - you know - use it and will give a product a 3-star (out of 5) rating for merely delivering a cardboard box. If there's a product inside you'll get 4 stars and if the little blue (annoying bright blue BTW) light comes on when ON is pressed, the full ***** rating is yours. As for comparing products' meaningless, irrelevant and utterly unsupportable or unmeasurable parameters, speeds, capacities and qualities - don't get me started.

Have a product that appears to perform the first few, most basic, functions and you're pretty much guaranteed to make the Editor's choice and if the device looks sleek and shiny as all "futuristic" technology should, get ready to appear on the front cover (or landing page) for the next month.

Reviewers almost never have a critical word to say about products - for fear that tomorrow's mailbag won't contain any more swag. One suspects that the 95% of the world that is in technical terms: crud, never makes it to the review section at all - so we are never warned about those products, but probably see them getting a "glowing" 3-star review in a different publication, along with a sycophantic description of all the features and techy-specs listed on the side of the (still unopened) box.

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UK man Lauri Love accused of hacking US Federal Reserve

Pete 2
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To be accused is to be guilty

"Guilty pleas last year [2011] resolved 97% of all federal cases that the Justice Department prosecuted to a conclusion"

Given the extreme lengths of sentences that can be handed down to individuals who force a court into the inconvenience of giving them a fair trial, many people opt to "cop a plea" (and in the process, perjure themselves by swearing they were guilty when they weren't) and get off with a lesser sentence. In many plea bargains, one of the conditions included is that the individual waives any possibilty that they can appeal whatever sentence the beak hands down.

Add to which, it can take years¹ for a person to even come to trial in the USA - during which time they are either in jail or have to raise enormous amounts of bail (and then abide by whatever restrictions are associated with it) and keep paying your lawyers to defend you. None of which is conducive to earning a living or supporting yourself, waiting for your "day in court" to arrive.

No wonder so many people "vehemently oppose" (and with bugger all support from the UK government, looking after its citizens' rights to a fair trial) leaving this country. Once you're in the clutches of the US judicial system, you're as good as slammed up.

[1] 988 days on average in NY. ref: http://www.thenewyorkworld.com/2012/02/27/the-daily-q-how-long-criminal-cas/

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French silver foxes use Fujitsu's Grandroid mobes... to send each other selfies

Pete 2
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The other grey market

The most amazing aspect is that it's taking tech companies so long to realise that the over X's (where X is generally a number 20-30 years older than yer avrige pundit) are a very, very profitable market segment. Most of them have no mortgages to consume the majority of their income (admittedly: a fixed income / pension), no cash-sucking live-at-home children under their feet and manage to keep the clubbing/bingeing/adventure holidays and recreational drugs at a modest level.

So why are there so few techy toys for us them? The biggest block seems to be the complete lack of understanding that trendy 20-something designers have for anyone with a grey hair followed swiftly by the skepticism and questioning that "oldies" have for electronic devices (along the lines of: "yes dear, but what does it actually DO for all that money?") and hand-in-hand with developers' inability to produce software and user interfaces that, simply, works - no fussing, no configuration, clear help & guidance, sensible defaults and no diagnoses.

Though if UK techies do "discover" this market, will June Whitfield have enough working hours in her day to appear in all the advertisements?

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Your CIO is now a venture capitalist and you work at their startup

Pete 2
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The wrong people in the wrong place

> a willingness to engage in small, experimental, IT projects rather than the larger endeavours

I have only worked in one startup - and that hit the wall after 6 years.

However, comparing the attitudes there with those in larger, established companies I can't see the concept of "internal VC-ing" working very well.

For a start, the factors that attract workers to large companies: stability, lack or slow change, lots of structure guidelines processes and procedures and a nice easy 9-5 are not the features you get in startups. You also find that a lot of the large-company workers are willing to trade a lower salary and prospects for all the factors listed above - plus a pension.

In startups you want exactly the opposite sort of individual: self-starters, working 5 - 9 (a.m. to p.m), a JFDI attitude to problem-solving, and no two days being the same. People who thrive in that sort of environment will not usually be found working for MegaCorp. (They'll in the industrial unit down the road).

And finally you have the shareholders. People who invest in large, stable companies want large stable returns - not a 90% failure rate. So it might be trendy for CIOs to embrace failure and be able to excuse it with one, occasional, win. However, would they last long enough in the position to deliver that one win in ten? And if they were "VC" material, they'd probably use the large company as a training ground - financing all their costly mistakes and then when the success does come along, be off like a shot "to spend more time with their money" and open a startup of their own.

If large companies want innovation and want it quickly, they usually simply buy the relevant VC-funded startup and assimilate their technology. Much less risk, appears on the books as "growth" and can you can see what you're getting into before you open your wallet.

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MtGox boss vows to keep going despite $429 MILLION Bitcoin 'theft'

Pete 2
Silver badge

Consider themselves lucky

> $429 MILLION Bitcoin 'theft'

... that BTC value has dropped from its kilobuck+ highs. Otherwise the losses would have been much bigger. Errrrm, hang on .... does it work like that?

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HP: We're so down wid da kidz! Look at... er, Smithers, what DO yoof look at these days?

Pete 2
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Hitting the bottle

> What do you think about when you hear the name HP?

Sauce!

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Dropbox erects sueball shield with new T&C and privacy legalese

Pete 2
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Divide and conquer

When Standard Oil was crushing everything and everyone who stood in its way, it was originally thought of as "good" for the consumer. S.O. lowered prices for users and made LOADSAMONEY for its investors.

The commercial terms it drew up for anyone it dealt with tended to be by diktat (take it or leave it - BTW, if you leave it, forget about doing business with anyone else) and rather one-sided in setting out who got the benefits.

It was only when things got so extreme that the US government stepped in and broke the outfit into smaller pieces.

We can see parallels with the Ts & Cs that a lot of the larger internet players are forcing on their customers. A lot of them are so big that, in practice, there is little in the way of alternative suppliers. They are also so big that their legal beagles can effectively call the shots unless and until a complaint gets appealed to state level (by which time the complainant has probably run out of money, anyway).

I suppose in a capitalist state (the Internet, not just the US), this sort of behaviour is inevitable. After all, there are no laws in virtual-land and business is very one-sided. It's just so sad that after S.O. and it's many copy-cats (e.g. IBM, Microsoft) that such situations are still permitted to develop. Even though we can all see, in hindsight, that they are bad ideas™.

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Climate change will 'CAUSE huge increase in MURDER, ROBBERY and RAPE'

Pete 2
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Re: Time to get the calculator out

> What happened to "burgled"?

or the less contentious "robbed"?

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Pete 2
Silver badge

Time to get the calculator out

> Between 2010 and 2099, [ a period of 90 years ] climate change will cause an additional ...1.3 million burglaries

And we are told¹ there are 2.2 million burglaries in the USA every year. So climate change will account for an extra 1,300,000 / 90 = 14,400 more per year or a rise of about 0.6%.

First thing: pardon me if I don't get too concerned about this

Second thing: this guy quotes his "results" to 2 significant figures: 1.3million, 22,000 etc. That alone tells me he is quantifying far beyond the accuracy that crime forecasting OR climatology is good for. Whether that is down to cluelessness, an economist's traditional sense of humour, or that he thinks it adds credibility - I couldn't say. But none of those possibilities are true (except maybe the "in joke" about the significant digits).

[1] ref: prweb.com "every 14.4 seconds, a home in the U.S. has been burglarized"

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Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse mull merger

Pete 2
Silver badge

Time for a name change

If they do merge, hopefully the product of their combined marketing talent will be able to come up with a better name.

When was the last time anyone bought a Car phone?

and, more to the point, I've never been able to get a Chicken Madras in Curry's, either.

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Yes! New company smartphones! ... But I don't WANT one

Pete 2
Silver badge

Smart, but useless

> from the standpoint of a business owner and end-user ... use for hours every day.

How is that possible?

I have a Samsung smart-something or other and it's screen is far too small to use for anything but the most trivial tasks. Certainly nothing of the complexity or intensity that would qualify as "work". Typing on it is a nightmare - keys are far too small and at best you can do one-fingered "pecking" with continual interruptions for SHIFT and SYM functions. Plus, the amount of information you can display on the screen at a readable font-size is miniscule. And in daylight, is zero due to its shiny unreadability.

I can understand how a user might spend hours every day using one, but personally I'd prefer a system with a big screen and normal sized (and featured) keyboard/mouse that gives me the productivity to achieve the same amount in a few minutes.

I would suggest that instead of "stove-piping" and looking at (smart)phones as a single item, and making a selection purely on the basis of their cost/features/lifetime/sexiness, you take a step back and see how to improve the working environment of your employees, as a complete integrated approach. And where a phone - smart or otherwise, would fit into that strategy.

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Retiring greybeards force firms to retrain Java, .NET bods as mainframe sysadmins

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Spaces significant??

> in Fortran the only place spaces are significant is in strings

Tenses.

That may well be the case now, but I made a point of saying 1960s FORTRAN. In the case of F4 (from personal memory) the first 6 columns were reserved for label numbers and if column 1 contained a "C" that line was deemed a comment.

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Pete 2
Silver badge

> how to make COBOL and attractive option for recent graduates

Rename it to object.Cobol and start writing games in it.

We already have a trendy language (Python) that is following the 1960's FORTRAN mistake convention of making whitespace significant. Sexing up COBOL shouldn't be too difficult,

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Pete 2
Silver badge

in a free market there's no such thing as a skills shortage

> CIOs are growing concerned about the looming skills shortage in their mainframe rooms

Merely an unwillingness to pay the salaries that supply and demand indicates as the going rate.

Having said that, there does come a time when the cost of employing specialists becomes greater than the cost of "de-specialising" and replacing the niche kit with more generic solutions that the new generation of cheap, trained and plentiful staff have the knowledge to support.

Knowing when that time is and planning for the eventuality is one of the basic jobs of senior IT management. However, when the CIOs and their direct reports keep their heads in the sand, spend all their time focused on the immediate and not the strategic, this is the inevitable consequence. That's just the cost of being out of touch with market trends.

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Toshiba Encore: The Windows 8.1 tablet that might catch on

Pete 2
Silver badge

A word of advice to tablet makers

Screen size and price.

When Joe Public goes tabby shopping, those are the only two factors he/she/it cares about.

Screen size and price. That's all.

Android? Windows? It matters not.

Microsoft? Google? matters even less.

Technical stuff? it's just noise.

It's a given that any tablet will play vids, music, stream TV, have a camera or two, play any of the top games, access FB Twitter and all that malarky - oh: and browse stuff. Users won't even check those and if the tablet can't do it - back to the shop it goes.

Screen size and price.

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South Korea green lights Stuxnet-like code weapons to nark NORKS

Pete 2
Silver badge

Praying for the day

> Stuxnet-like code weapons to nark NORKS

... when a trinket worn by NK's anti-drug police causes inflammation below their chins. Leading to the headline:

Nick nack narks NORK'S narcs' necks

we can only hope.

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Boffins: You'll see, TWITTERNET! We'll get the TRUTH out of you...

Pete 2
Silver badge

A rule of thumb

> But it’s currently not possible to automatically analyse, in real time, whether a piece of information is true or false

Broadly speaking, it's a pretty good guess that if a piece of "information" appears on a social networking site, it's probably bollocks false.

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Google warns Glass wearers: Quit being 'CREEPY GLASSHOLES'

Pete 2
Silver badge

A small window

By offering these "suggestions", Google is obviously aware of the image these devices have - and the poor reaction that ordinary (or normal; you choose) people have to being confronted by them.

So I would expect Google will go down one of two routes: either quietly kill the device and learn not to be so socially clumsy, or develop the Mk 2 that will be a lot more ... discrete. The basic problem will still be the same: that people who realise they are being spied on will be annoyed, but a more concealed device will make it harder to know when this is.

It could simply be that us "normals" will stop worrying when a Mk2 Glass is in our presence, as it won't be at all obvious - or it could be that our outrage at being covertly monitored turns against the supplier, rather than the individual performing the unsociable act.

Either way, if this device is to be stopped, now would appear to be the time to apply pressure: while the supplier is still sensitive to public reaction.

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