2371 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
watching them watching you
> iWindow, to block out all the nastiness of the real world and replace it with shiny happy vistas
Hmmm, and then have little webcams in them so your windows can watch you.
The support that never was
> the slow but steady death of customer service
In truth, we've never had good customer service. Sure, some owner-run shops may have "the guy" who knows the in's and out's of all the limited range of stuff they sell. But that is the closest you'll ever get - and you're paying high-street premiums for their over-the-counter stuff you buy. Not exactly 21st century, chasing the cheapest price no matter what, do everything online, way of making purchases.
The biggest problem is that so much of our "stuff" is too complex, too cheap to have been designed and tested properly and too mass-produced to have spare parts available, or for every single item to work perfectly (even the first time).
So yes, it is annoying when you have to call an anonymous call-centre. While I'm not trying to defend them, they do have their own problems: such as the utter, mind-boggling, ignorance of most of their callers. People who neither know what they have bought, are aware of its limitations nor sometimes even realise it needs batteries for it to work (confession time: I was, once, firmly convinced that the TV had gone "phut" until another person, who shall remain nameless, confessed to having removed the batteries from the remote control as the ones in her torch had gone flat). It's these sorts of problems, which must account for the majority of a call centre's enquiries that their systems are meant to deal with - not the geek who calls up to know how to change the dynamic dns settings on their router.
Come and look at this!
As a senior IT bod said to me one time, when I was doing some work for a mobile phone outfit.
"it's an IBM engineer getting his hands dirty".
And so it was: a hardware guy, with his sleeves rolled up and
blood grime on his hands, replacing a failed board in an IBM mainframe.
The reason it was so noteworthy, even in the early 90's was because it was such a rare occurrence. It was probably one of the major selling points of IBM computers (the other one, with just as much traction, is the ability to do a fork-lift upgrade in a weekend and know it will work.) that they didn't blow a gasket if you looked at them wrong.
The reliability and compatibility across ranges is why people choose this kit. It may be arcane, old-fashioned, expensive and untrendy - but it keeps on running.
The other major legacy of OS/360 was, of course, The Mythical Man Month who's readership is stil the most reliable way of telling the professional IT managers from the wannabees who only have buzzwords as a knowledge base.
Pump the Primes
Judging by the specs and what the advertisement promotes, this box appears to be the "front end" for Amazon Prime users.
Although it can play android / phone style games, it's not going to supplant a hard-core gamer's platform and most people will have whatever other games they like on their phone or tablets anyway. Most of its other features and attributes appear to be aimed at content consumers: specifically the content that Prime users can get for free - if you leave aside the small matter of paying £80 a year for "free" content.
(And given that Amazon Prime costs $79 in USAland and £79 over here, what's the betting that the hardware will exhibit an equally usurious price-translation, too?)
Data is like oil
A lot of (western) countries dislike being reliant on countries that they consider less stable, or not idealogically aligned with their views, as their only source of oil and gas. What Snowden's security leaks have done is to make a lot of (western) countries think about their data security in the same way they think about their energy security. And for the same reasons.
What we learned from the story of the Natwest Three is that one party in the UK can strike a deal with another party in the UK, that is legal in the UK. However if the emails which make up that deal touch american soil, then american laws are applied and - since the UK government is about as useful at looking after its citizens interests as a Rottweiler is at guarding your sausages - you're banged up : Jim. Unless you can personally afford to foot the bill to defend yourself against the might (and drawn out proceedings) of the US legal system.
Sp apart from not wishing a foreign power to know everything you ever committed to email, phone conversations, downloads or Dropbox, there is the not insignificant matter of legal hegemony, which is just as wide-reaching and just as insidious.
Re: It's already here (and has been for years)
> I understand Trevor to be talking about generalised robotic help
Yes, I got that, too. However we'll never get there.
The reason is simply that as soon as we get a new level of automation, we'll fill all our excess free time, not with sleeping - as that needs no robotic help at all, but with other trivia. Then we'll complain that it is taking up all our leisure time - and wouldn't it be great if we could automate it away .... and so on
It's already here (and has been for years)
> something that automates away some tedious bit so that I can sleep more
Pop the bread in the toaster - go off and do something else.
Drop your laundry in the washer then go to the shops
While you're there, buy a prepacked sandwich for lunch - and a readymeal for later
On the way home, pop the motor through the car wash in a couple of minutes
Have to talk to someone in Dusseldorf, Raleigh or Wellington? Surprise! you can just pick up the phone,
We have so many time and labour saving devices - and have had for so long - that they are fully incorporated into our lives. To the extent where they are invisible and just taken as normal. However, we don't have a single robotic slave that does all of the tedious chores we are too lazy, or don't have time for (which amounts to the same thing: prioirities). No. Our "robotic butlers" are distributed through the home and our daily lives and show up in the form of gadgets and as the service industries which are such a large part of our lives - and a massive (if low paid) part of the workforce.
One good thing
That must have been the first media discussion of british IT entrepreneurship for a long, long time where nobody mentioned the Raspberry Pi. Maybe there is some hope after all.
The lost moment
> The test rocket motor enclosure sits way below the box at the end of a long carbon fibre rod:
... and when it fires, there will be (hopefully) a nice big force imparted to the end of the rod. Given that the other end of the rod is attached to something else, what will start spinning?
Re: It's the words: stupid.
> Therein lies the success of the propagandists denying AGW
Tagging anyone who asks questions about climate change is generally unhelpful. If there are any climate change skeptics about, any more - though I've never met one so I'd put them in the same category as "flat earther's" and evolution deniers, then I think the failure to convince them of otherwise must be laid at the feet of the people who write these reports. Generally once people are faced with unequivocal evidence and a consensus among the "clever bastards" they are easily convinced of a situation - take gravity as an example.
The basic issue is not one of if the climate is changing. The basic issue (now) is how to communicate to the average person what its consequences will be if no preventative measures are taken - and secondly: what they (we?) must be prepared to do.
So talking about intangibles and risks in general and non-specific ways won't sway many people. Especially if they are being asked to reduce their consumption of almost everything, pay more for the energy they use and have more taxes taken off them to pay for "green" initiatives. If you want the general population to do more than talk, demonstrate and separate their rubbish then there must be a consensus among the "scientists" regarding what tangible effects will come to pass - and how the general population (of the countries being told to change) will be. Writing a report that says one thing and then having pundits or competing scientists going to the media and saying something else (or even, as this report illustrates: not evening having a single unified definition of what climate change is) won't further the cause, or convince ordinary people to put their hand in their pockets and make material sacrifices.
Getting agreement within the climate change community of the specific effects, the timescale and required solutions is the first, and very necessary, step to winning people's hearts and minds. That has yet to happen.
It's the words: stupid.
Contents may settle
Your home might be at risk if payments are not made
We may forward your details to some selected marketing partners
The problem with the report (or at least the summary) is that it doesn't say anything definite. Yes, it claims there is a Very high risk of vulnerability to various things, and risk of loss of some others. But we hear that sort of stuff every day, so all these new risks, dangers and all the rest just merges into the clamour for our attention.
An attention which is almost fully taken up with trying to get past the next set of traffic lights. Trying to fart silently in the meeting and hoping no-one will notice. Wondering where the next credit-card payment will come from or why that if statement with 4 conditions always comes out as TRUE.
If these guys (or any of the other climate change bods) wants our attention - or even more: for someone, somewhere to actually DO something, they need much more than wishy-washy risks and dangers. They need numbers, dates, times and places. Who will die - specifically - their names please, when and what will the photos look like on the news reports. Who will have to pay. Which wars will break out and how much civil unrest will there be - and in which towns - and did they for for our party.
Without specifics, there is little for our leaders to lead us away from. People don't respond well to intangible, distant and unquantifed threats that may (or may not) happen at some indeterminate time in the future. More than that: they really don't feel the need to change their lives or shell out more cash to fix problems that they can't actually see - and for which the solutions cannot be agreed (do we need more of this, less of that -- or what?) amongst the scare-mongerers.
To get people to address the problems of climate change, there needs to be much more certainty, Reports must show clarity and be specific in their claims. Who, where, when, how-much. Without actual, actionable targets they will be producing a sixth, seventh, eighth report. All of which will say the same sorts of things, with ever more shrill language. All of which will get a little media attention and people saying "we really should start thinking about what we can do" - and then doing nothing since their attentions will be focused on the immediate problems of that day, as they always have been and always will be.
... on a website far away there was a presenter called Joanne. She had a piece of work called lpportraits which depicted (quite well, I thought) this exact same thing.
The year was 2011, the website was rocketboom and the link is here
Re: A slice off the top
> press f11.
The problem with fullscreen mode is that then I lose access all the other open stuff on my (should have mentioned: Linux Mint) workspace - and changing workspaces then means coming out of FS mode. All because the application designers need to stop, take a step or two back from their immediate applications, and think.
Linux had a small window (groan) of opportunity to get ahead of the game when Windows8
was released escaped. A radical new design, based on users and usability might just have made a difference.
A slice off the top
> saved on vertical screen real estate
Sadly that's only a token gesture.
The real problem is the application windows - and the design of the applications themselves. While they still insist on the "old fashioned" format of titles, options and menus taking up space at the top of the app, having the desktop saving a few pixels won't make a whole lot of difference.
As an example, take the system I'm typing this on. A 23 inch screen that sports a paltry 11¼" in the vertical direction.Of which Firefox gobbles 1¾" - leaving 9¼ - or 235mm for those of us in the modern era - (after the bottom margin is accounted for) of usable, content-filled space. - That's nearly 20% of my precious screen height taken up with stuff which is only there because FF was designed when 4:3 CRTs where all there was.
Now I appreciate that LCD screens only (cheaply) come in sizes and form-factors that are meant for video replay - and that I could, possibly, turn the monitor through 90°, or get a second one. However, the principle still applies: that application design has not kept up with screen layouts and could do with a thorough overhaul to get it into the 21st century.
Oh, and BTW. Trusty Tahr is an anagram of Ruthy Tarts (or Tarty Ruths, but I don't think any Ruths would be too impressed), which is much easier to say.
> 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
Re: Margaret Hodge "shocked to her bone"
Yes, it makes you think that finally someone's put a TASER to good use.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
 man errno
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?
( how about an addition to <errno.h> EOFFENCE - PC gone mad ? )
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.
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.
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.
Multiverse? So 1990's, THIS universe is someone's simulation
So the theory goes:
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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?
> 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?
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.
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?
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
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.
 other arbitrary age limits are available. Just don't buy a grey-import IoT device or you might go thirsty for no good reason.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
 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.
Havin' a larva
> an Apple mole told ...
Is that some sort of maggot?
> Typing a Spong! message will be called "Spinging".
and getting finance will be sponging?
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.
To be accused is to be guilty
"Guilty pleas last year  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.
 988 days on average in NY. ref: http://www.thenewyorkworld.com/2012/02/27/the-daily-q-how-long-criminal-cas/
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?
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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