1611 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 14:47 GMT
It's your money
> All big companies and rich people do this, they'll move heaven and Earth to avoid paying taxes.
> Because they're greedy. That simple.
Companies are not "greedy". They are inanimate entities with neither feelings or morals. The individuals who make the decisions regarding where to locate a company and how to arrange its tax affairs do so to maximise shareholder earnings.
So who are these shareholders, who benefit so greatly from tax avoidance? The quick and accurate answer, if you want to see one, is to look in the mirror. Yes! you and me. We contribute towards pension savings (itself a form of tax avoidance) that are paid to pension funds which invest OUR MONEY in .... you guessed it .... shares in large companies. The fund managers decide which companies to invest in by looking at company profits and earnings per share. So if you want all these large companies to "pay their fair share" of taxes, be prepared to lose a sizable chunk of your future pension payouts.
So when you remove all the "top 10" that contain a lawyer's favourite words and phrases (could, may, risk, might, possibly ... ) and then remove all the descriptions where no legal action has ever been brought, is there anything left?
As any right-thinking person knows, if you really, really feel an unstoppable urge to tweet something, just use a bit of common sense (yes, I realise the conflict between the "if" and the "just") and consider if you'd like someone to tweet that comment about you. Better yet, keep the thought to yourself.
suggest what would work better.
ISTM that torture has some unique advantages.
It's cheap, quick to administer, very personal and has a huge deterrent effect.
Plus, as a sideliine, you could always sell tickets to watch it.
The victim pays
The lovely thing about this is that the email recipients are council-tax payers in that area. So if the council is fined for this breach, the people who will have to foot the bill: either through increased CT to pay the fine directly, or through reduced services to make up the budget shortfall, will include the people who had their email addresses exposed.
There can't be many situations where the victim of incompetence is also the person who is punished for it, instead of the person who made the mistake. Isn't local government wonderful?
Cutting off internet services
There's also the human rights aspect regarding collective punishments.
An IP connection isn't associated with a single person. It serves a household. You can't therefore deny access to all the members of that family or house simply because of the alleged wrongdoings of a single individual. Further, in a shared environment, it's not at all clear which particular individual performed the offending action. Given that not all potential users are always present it's not even clear that you require other users to grass-up the offender as it's entirely possible that they weren't aware of who downloaded what, and when.
Laws create criminals
Yes, the correlation between the number of new laws a government enacts and the rise in "criminal activity" that follows cannot be lost on the french. Surely the best way to reduce crime is to stop making things illegal?
The answer is in the article
So in Oz, few women work in IT and the director of the ACSF reckons it's because they don't perfectly match the wish-list in the job ad.
However, the article then goes on to contradict this opinion by citing the "pitifully low enrolment rates" into australian IT courses and then the "horrifying drop-out rates for women in IT courses".
So it seems that while the hardy few who do apply and get through the course may be reluctant to apply for less than perfect jobs, the biggest failing is in getting sufficient numbers of women IT graduates, in the first place.
Maybe the guy should stop blaming the few women who "talk themselves out of applying for jobs” and instead fix whatever is broken in the education system that's an almost complete failure at attracting women into the relevant university courses and retaining their enthusiasm through those courses.
Re: Don't believe or deny. Just observe
Re: sunspot cycles
No. A cyclic event won't affect the long term data, as there will be as many "ups" as "downs". Now, the ups will contribute more record years - but a hot year during a cycle max. won't necessarily be any hotter than one during the previous or subsequent maxima - so their effect will be less significant. Also the cycle minima will nullify the effect (on your assumption that sunspot cycles affect global temperature) that some, randomly "record" years won't happen. The overall effect, therefore, of a cyclic phenomenon will be zero.
Don't believe or deny. Just observe
There's an easy way to tell IF your climate is changing - though it provides no information about WHY.
Consider the meteorological record. Let's assume that it's been measuring things like temerpature and rainfall for 100 year.
In year #1 there was no previous highs or lows.
In year #2 the odds of an average being the highest (or lowest) on record was ½ there being only 2 values.
In year #3 the odds of that year being the highest or lowest for a given attribute are 1/3rd
and so on.
So in the 101'th year, what are the odds - assuming purely random changes in temperature, rainfall or whatever else you're measuring being the highest on record?
Now, consider Harmonic series. How many "record years" would you expect in (say) temperature readings if there was no underlying trend and each year's data was independent of all previous years? The answer is 1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 ... + 1/N, which for a 100 year stretch would mean you'd expect 5 or 6 record years.
Now, check out how many "record years" there have been, where you live, in the past century. If the number is greater than 5 or 6, something's causing a temperature rise. if less, then there's cooling taking place. The underlying causes are not revealed, just the result.
P.S. This is my distortion of a piece from the book 100 Essential Things you didn't know you didn't know"
1 completed, one to go
So the Daily Wail has done a U turn. if we can get them to do a second U turn, they'll have gone round: full circle. With any luck they'll then disappear up their own fundamental orifice and never be heard from again.
Local councils helping people? Odd ... one of the perks of working for a council is that you get to make life hell for ordinary people. Then I read that they laid off 150 employees last year, so maybe this scheme is meant to redress the (self-inflicted) balance somewhat. Although a council with a conscience is rarer than a council with a "help the public" ethic, so that can't be right.
I wionder how many physicists ignored the email?
Just imagine. You get an email from <somewhere>.ru with a title Congratulations: You have won $3 Million. How many people would read that?
Maybe it's time to start paying a little more attention to my spam folder
and it STILL sounds like an absolute bargain
So even if we take the lowest figure cited, that coughing £28Bn will "only" increase GDP by 0.1%, where does that leave us?
Well the UK's GDP stands at about 1.5 TRILLION pounds, so one-tenth of a percent comes to £1.5Bn. But that's not a one-off increase - it's every year. So the country would be "investing" £28Bn and getting an annual return of £1.5Bn - just over 5% - less than it would cost us to borrow that amount. In addition, £28Bn would add somewhere in the region of a quarter of a million job*years of employment, assuming whoever got the contract was able to take registered unemployed people, rather than bring in immigrant workers, thus reducing benefits costs, too. Finally, most of those billions would be spent in the UK - not spent on buying imports, so it is essentially money going round in a circle. The people who earn a salary from being employed on pushing out BB, will pay taxes and buy stuff with their pay, so a large proportion of it will either go back to the exchequer or will boost consumption for other goods - a small fraction of which might even be british-made.
I blame "consolidation"
It's the easiest way to cut costs - i.e. staff numbers.
Instead of having 20,000 servers, each one doing it's own specialised task in it's own customised environment, why not axe a ton of the hardware and run all the mess on one single box o' tricks - maybe even virtualise it all, for added points in the buzzword bingo stakes. Even better, spin the consolidation as being "green" by persuading the gullible and terminally trendy types that we're really saving all those gigawatt*hours because we care about the planet - not for all the money it saves.
However, it does mean that you can end up with 20,000 servers all being dependent on a single DNS box, or that one honkin' great hub is responsible for *all* your enterprise's core traffic. Even if you've built a resilient or redundant system who's ever had the balls to press the big red button to see if it does actually fail-over?
So instead of an insignificant bugette or hardware failure just knocking a small part of your biz offline until the on-call engineer puts down his/her sandwich and shuffles over to press "reset" a whole long line of tits go up and suddenly all the lights go dark - and a funny smell seeps through the IT centre.
So what sounded like a good idea to the accountants who run the corporation, turns into a tangle of interdependencies and unknown unknowns that makes the Butterfly Effect look like a piece of string connected directly to a lever (with a sign saying Do not pull on it). It's not surprising that these systems fail. It is surprising that anyone ever manages to get them running again - though maybe the next major crash won't leave us surprised, at all.
I doubt it would matter. Does anyone know how a Martian would say "I don't care who you are, get your buggy off my roof"
... and we can be safe in the knowledge that all police forces will act with equal vigour and speed - whether the target is an Olympic Games contestant, or not.
(and that rumbling sound you just heard was a squadron of pigs getting ready for takeoff)
Technological swings and roundabouts
So there have been cases in the past where a lack of technology has shown the wrong person to be the winner. Compare that with modern developments, not just in swimming but pretty much everywhere, where one athlete's technology (or spending power for the best equipment, training, facilities or support staff) confers an advantage over less fortunate co-competitors.
We've got to the point in most sports where the winner is not really the best athlete, but the one most able to apply assists, coaching, medical help or even just have the luxury to train 24*7. Is it really "sport" any more, or merely the application of money that makes winners?
No prizes for second best
> Baumgartner took the second-highest free-fall crown
Maybe that qualifies me for the 5-billionth "crown"?
Anyway, it's only the last few millimetres that matter
Doesn't even make the top 10
> computer attack is the most significant threat we face as a society, ...
So the guy contradicts himself in the very next breath (way to go, speech-writers). However, he's still wrong.
In no particular order, the threats I feel are most likely to have the greatest impact on ME, would be:
- economic downturn (again!)
- violent crime
- property crime
- traffic accident
- ill health
- civil unrest
- energy prices (electricity, gas, petrol)
- bad weather
- social intolerance
and add on his particular paranoia: WMDs (surely an exclusively american fear? Bizarre, since they have most of them) and people messin' with computers doesn't even feature. Obviously the guy is telling his audience what they want to hear. By appealing to their vanity, he's obviously hoping to puff-up their own self importance (as if it needs any more bolstering), but his words appear trite and self-serving. He seems also to miss the point that to 95% of the world, the USA is a foreign intelligence agency - maybe there's a kernel of truth in his keynote, after all.
> I mentioned that they only have to last for their lifetime. They were perplexed as to why I wouldn't want them to last say 200 years+.
People's desire for "200+" year life expectancy for a CD/DVD isn't unreasonable when you peel back the statistical curtain. Saying that they only have to "last your lifetime" makes it sound as id a disc with, for example, a 40 year life that's manufactured on Dec 31 1990 will do a Mission Impossible as soon as the clock strikes happy new year in 2030. It won't.
The notional life of a disk means that after that many years, a certain percentage of media will have failed. So if you had 100 discs, you will be unable to read a proportion of them. The longer the stated life, the fewer will be unreadable after a fixed amount of time - provided they are stored properly.
So all your perplexed buddies are really asking for is as small a number of failed discs as possible, not an actual lifespan measured in centuries. The obvious practical solution is to have 1 copy (plus the original) of each disc and to rewrite them at regular intervals. well within the advertised "lifespan" of the media.
Re: Archive problem
Actually, that's NOT what Matt Asay said, at all.
To paraphrase: "store pictures and anecdotes from the lives of my children." and "worry that all of my digital memories are going to be locked into a dead-end" and then "I don't want just my data, but also its presentation"
Which doesn't mandate "the web" at all. In fact, given his gloomy views on the permanence of anything web-based, it's worth considering that the web, itself, may not be permanent or exist long enough to be a viable option.
As a very general rule of thumb, the older a thing (technology, building, company but not person) is NOW, the longer it's likely to survive in the future. On that basis, stick to old technologies: cave painting, clay tablets or maybe just paper.
You should not rely on any online service to either warehouse your "memories", or keep them away from unwanted eyes. They're offering a free service and you get what you pay for.
So far as formats go, anything you decide to archive off, and store in a box in the loft today will be the equivalent of being written in "olde english" in 25 years time - if there's even any reliable hardware to access your chosen storage method. So the only viable solution is to keep the stuff you value, yourself. Hold the original source on your primary computer (and on a second computer 'natch) and occasionally add new copies in formats that seem likely to stick around for a reasonable length of time - lossless wherever possible.
While that might seem like an imposition, it'll help you decide what is REALLY worth keeping, and what turned out to be an impulsive decision to capture an obscure (and almost always) embarrassing moment for posterity. If you can't be arsed to keep your "precious" memories current, then they're probably not that precious after all.
A new excellence fad?
> the gallery has astroturf on the floor instead of carpet
Ahh, so if the OGs are successful can we expect the country's CIOs and IT manglers to replace all the datacentre carpets with plastic grass?
It's probably as likely to be effective as any of the other initiatives they've tried: (ISO9000, BS5750, ITIL etc.) and for exactly the same reasons - random chance.
p.s. Lucky they took their lead from the field events, not the aquatic ones!
Re: Hawking for Sky are we?
> UK drama is compressed and concentrated, giving quality over quantity.
So are OXO cubes, but you wouldn't want to eat them out of the packet. The problem with british dramas is that they don't give themselves the space to develop interesting characters. By only having a small amount of time to fit in all the exposition, development, twists and conclusion british writers tend to skim over the bits that make a story interesting. It's a bit like reading a Cliff's Notes of a classic text, rather than reading the original yourself. You get the basic story, but none of the nuances and depth that make it enjoyable.
Oddly, a lot of films manage to squeeze in more dimensionality in a couple of hours - but that might be because they apply more bodies and more skill (as well as more money) into getting the whole package presented to a viewer - or it might be because they focus tightly on what's important, rather than indulging the writer's whims, meanderings and biases.
More stuff, quickly
> BBC or ITV doesn’t spend enough
In recent years the pattern for british drama has been one of short-run series: maybe 3 * 1 hour episodes. That has two big problems. The first is that setting up a TV series is expensive. Before you start filming you have to assemble the "team", make all the props, get studio space/locations, create the basis for CGI and budget for the show's eventual promotion and advertising. A lot of those costs are more-or-less constant whether you make 3 episodes or 20. However, if you only make a few, then those costs have to be amortized across the small number of episodes, making each one appear more expensive - the opposite of an economy of scale.
The other basic problem is that with gazillions of TV channels, there's a need for LOTS of stuff to fill the empty voids between advertisements. 3 episodes just won't hack it - and is difficult for the schedulers to fit in to a format that's designed around "seasons" of 10 or 20 episodes - and therefore difficult to sell to them.
A big reason for these issues is the way that british dramas are written and produced. Over here we tend to treat them as hand-crafted works of art. Great when they succeed, but an expensive and inaccessible mess when they don't. Other places tend to productionise the writing - with a team of scribblers who contribute a part to each episode - which gives them depth and variety, rather than the monoculture and superficial characterisations that our lone-writers don't have the time (or ability) to incorporate.
It could be that the biggest technological boost we could give to TV drama production is to find ways to enable a group of writers to work together (assuming you can get past the diva effect). You'd think that with all the tools available for softies to write code in a collective and collaborative way, that there'd be solutions for authors, too. Maybe they are just too stuck in their own ways to look over the parapet - or maybe they just like being the queen bee.
Can't tell their ASA from their elbow
> we considered that consumers would understand ...
What they really meant is that customers understand that ALL advertisements for broadband are universally false, misleading and that none of the claims can stand up to any level of scrutiny. Customers also understand that as a watchdog, the ASA does just that: watches. It doesn't act.
(Not a) Daft question
> it seems to me that you are buying a computer without the hard drive and OS
What you get is a naked "motherboard". You have to provide the following:
USB Keyboard (the £2.50 ASDA jobbie works OK)
USB Mouse (as does their cheap mouse)
Display, usually an HDMI TV and a connecting cable
SD card that you download an OS for and then need to use a PC to copy the OS to the card
Network cable to plug into your home router
Something non-metallic to put all this stuff on. The 'Pi doesn't have any mounting holes and is quite small and lightweight, so stopping it from dragging when you move a cable is not easy.
And since the 'Pi only has 2 USB ports, you might need a USB hub - though since the 'Pi's ability to use peripherals is strictly limited (none of the 4 different types of webcam I've tried have worked on it) there may not be much scope for this.
Can't happen soon enough
> Now TV isn't an addition to its satellite service, in the long term it’s a replacement for it
The fixed-fee "all you can eat" model for TV really does need sorting out. It rewards TV companies that fill their channels with cheap dross and repeats of cheap dross while making "quality" TV (i.e. programmes I like) marginalised and an endangered species.
If TV became truly PPV, so that a punter had to shell out before watching any particular programme, there would be a direct link between the programme maker and the viewer. Better yet, if a series tanked the makers would have an immediate and tangible motivation to improve it (rather than as some BBC writers are known to do: bleat about how the audience is "wrong" and blame the viewers).
The TV channel would merely become the delivery medium, much like UPS and the Royal Mail - they don't charge you £20 a month on the offchance there's a package you might want to order. By closing the gap between programme makers and programme consumers the industry can become far more response and efficient: no more cartels deciding for us what we'll be permitted to choose from, or when it's convenient for their schedules to show a particular programme.
All we'd have to do next would be to get the music industry to adopt the same model and get their fat-cats out of the way so we can get music directly from the bands and musicians, themselves.
This one needs fingers and toes
Errrm - hang on a sec. There are 168 hours in a week. So if your staff work _about_ 40 hours per, that means (FX: takes off shoes and socks ... starts doing maths) you need 4 shifts, not 3. Maybe the G4 people did the calculations your way and that's where it went wrong?
Playing to the crowd
Well of course the rent-a-minister is going to say how wonderful and inspirational ham radio is when he/she/it is
lying talking to the RADIO Society of GB. However IMHO (from experience) the internet took over all the interesting aspects of amateur radio.
Also, I'm sure the minister will be eating, nay: wolfing down, his words when someone whispers in his ear about all the cases of RFI that rigs can cause, especially in high-density housing estates and when surrounded by cheaply made and largely unshielded domestic electronics.
Re: Study shows that...
I see. So the real problem is that I'm 4 feet too short?
There's more to life than death
This study is all very well, but it doesn't take into account quality of life.
I'm sure it's a great consolation to the "blobs" that they will live as long as ordinary-sized people. But what will their lives be like? Will the enjoyment factor be the same for someone who is able to lead an active life: kicking a football with their kids/grandchildren, as it is for those who can only sit on the sofa and watch TV?
Similarly, if it takes you 10 minutes to recover from walking upstairs, will you have the same optimistic, happy, positive attitude as a slimline version of you who bounds up them; two at a time?
So while life expectancy may well be the obvious factor in the fat vs. thin debate, the ability to enjoy your allotted time is just as important.
> Proponents reckon it'll lead to greater democracy, as politicians are always answerable to those who fund them
Gets my vote for the most cynical justification of a new means of taking money from the credulous and dim-witted.
you don't want that do you?
Err, YES! All this home automation malarkey becomes utterly useless the moment it requires human intervention at any stage of the process. Once a person's presence is called for - filling the kettle, washing up a dirty coffee mug, getting the teabag out - then you might as well do the whole thing yourself. I would hazard a guess that is the main reason it's failed to take off.
I do remember my old gran having a "teasmade" in the 1960's. Essentially, you filled a pot with cold water and at a predetermined time, instead of the built-in alarmclock waking you, it started up a heater that fizzed and bubbled and eventually woke you with a cup-o-char. From the little I've seen of commercial "home automation" there's been little or no progress in the past half-century.
Watch and learn
> China – which produces 90 per cent of the world’s supply ... now has just 30 per cent of the world’s reserves
It seems to me they've been reading up on the history of OPEC and realised that there is a long (if not honourable) history of leveraging the supply and demand equation for their
environmental reasons national profit.
Luckily for the chinese, it appears they are immune to the fate that befalls other countries who get in the way of " ... US workers and manufacturers [desire for] access to raw materials". I just wouldn't like to be in the shoes of whoever is sitting on top of the other 70% or the world's reserves.
Productivity != Creativity
Most office workers produce very little of any actual worth. Unless you count as useful sending numerous emails to hordes of people about things they don't care about (and probably won't read, anyway).
Far better than spending your travel time on the administrative equivalent of a hamster's wheel is to sit back, clear your mind and use the opportunity for some blue-sky thinking. All it would take would be one really good idea from one talented individual to recoup the whole cost of this new train-set.
> what kind of wanker messes around shooting at 1am anyway?
The kind who didn't buy enough beer to drink himself into a stupor, perhaps?
Better than the alternative
I always assumed the country was run by a handful of tax-exiles, the popular press, some civil service mandarins and Simon Cowell.
Be careful what you wish for
So, presuming that CERN have spotted the Higgs. What's next?
In the popular mind the only reason for the billions spent on the LHC was to find the Higgs (before the yanks did). If it turns out that the scientists there have achieved that goal, how will they justify to the public spending oodles more euros?
Sure, from a scientific perspective, this is just one step down the path to enlightenment - but for yer avrige tabloid reader, how can they be sold the idea that there's still a lot more work to be done.
Unlike the moon landings where public interest dwindled after the "been there, done that" box got ticked, I hope that CERN soon manage to discover another great problem that needs even more billions, or the supercooled LHC could become the world's fastest ice-rink. Whetever CERN do propose for ongoing research, they're going to have their work cut out trying to get a catchier (if equally spurious) name than The God Particle.
For the most monumental screwups ...
don't focus on the sysadmins (competent, incompetent, overworked, lazy or malicious). Instead look at the system designers. Ultimately they are the ones who make the biggest, most expensive, longest lasting cockups imaginable - and some that extend a long, long way beyond what anyone thought was the limit of human stupidity.
The problem with trying to point the finger at the designers is that by the time the scale of their errors is known, it's all far too late. The systems go live, despite everyone knowing that they're utterly doomed. The processes needed to use and maintain them are complicated, error prone, people-intensive and unreliable. However the blame is never passed to those who created the shambles, it's always attributed to the person who pressed the badly designed button.
Re: how would you tell the difference
Simple. The fish on the screensaver aren't holding a sign to the webcam saying
Buy a new filter QUICK!
> instead of giving them crap... give them all the future stuff... then in 5 years they can be my boss
And the first they'll do is kick you into touch and bring in new, younger (than them) replacements as you won't have any relevant technical skills left.
Your first (some would say only) allegiance is to yourself, not to some newbie trainee. As such it's your responsibility to keep yourself current, in technical terms. Bringing in a subordinate is the ideal - possibly the only - way to free up enough of your time to learn a new language, or technique. It also helps the young 'un by giving them background in the stuff the operation is currently running on. Better; they have someone there to ask about things they don't understand, rather then being dropped in head-first if they'd simply been recruited as your replacement.
Sadly, nobody coming into IT these days has any sort of career path expectation. So it's unlikely that you'll be able to give your apprentoid a (manly) hug and say "someday, my son, all this will be yours" as in all likelihood it'll be shipped off to the far-east within a few years and both you and your protoges will be plodding the streets, wondering where it all went wrong. Yhat's the reason young people don't go into IT - lack of prospects, not because of dull work.
Talking the piss?
> Not only do we want to turn some heads and get people talking
Hopefully the heads won't be turned while "in full stream". It could get messy.
I'm just waiting for the first lawsuit claiming electrocution from a faulty unit.
Pain In The Orifice?
> "I don't want this to be PITO ..." said May.
And yet, it almost certainly will be. Although this body is being set up to reduce costs, in practice it's just another layer of administration, waste and confusion. I'm not convinced that anything the government does to centralise services ever results in a cost saving - it just results in more civil servants.
Put it in perspective
The article quotes government figures for the costs of this compliance. They bandy around £1m here and £53m there, as if we're supposed to throw up our hands in horror. What they keep very close and don't tell us is what these figures are as a proportion of everyday business costs across the whole country.
I realise that businesses don't like the idea of people actually having to give consent before they squirrel away terabytes of our personal information - just so they can pester us with adverts for stuff we don't want. However given the costs and turnover of british industry, even £147m in additional expenditure (or "jobs", as the traditionalists would have it) seems like a tiny drop in a very large ocean.
An equal and opposite reaction
It's hard to see how this will, in the long term, be anything other than a smokescreen. Assume for the sake of argument that the bill-payer in your household says "yes, filter me". How long will it take for workarounds to be developed, promoted and sold? Will there then be another law to make the circumvention of "active choice" illegal? [ This initiative sounds like it's capable of knocking "unlimited" off the top spot as the most abused word or phrase in internet parlance ]
Who will decide which sites become subject to
censorship "choice". If you only want to block nasty smut, but let "good" smut through, will there be a half-choice, or the possibility of choosing "choice" only after certain times?
The biggest question though, is who will get to see what you've chosen. Will the information be made available to a police check? Will the register of choosers, or non-choosers be published for all to see? Can people who've chosen not to choose "choice" be employed to look after children? Will your employer, or prospective employer, get wind of your choices?
It seems to me that until the details have been bedded-in and a few test cases run through the courts, the only sensible solution is to fall in line with the sheep, choose choice and quietly explore the chinks in the choices.