2371 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
The new renaissance
The article boils down to the point that manufacturing always lags demand. Then it overcompensates, floods the market, crashes the price and starts lagging when the next fad arrives. So far, so normal.
What is interesting is the realisation that there is mind-numblingly fast processing power available - with more to come. None of which is encumbered by operating systems (which have been described as a way of slowing down a computer to a manageable speed) and/or the massive overheads of securing the whole mess..
Perhaps, when all the fuss over bitcoin dies down, all this excess power can be harnessed into something useful. My proposals would be proper speaker-independent voice recognition and maybe the ability to do some real-time processing on HD video streams. You know the sort of thing: replace the news-reader's head with a talking cat, remove all their clothes, have yourself playing centre-forward for your favourite football team.
I can see that this could well be the next phase of software development. Let's face it: operating systems have been, essentially, stagnant for the past 20 years (merely adding new polish to the UIs and support for new hardware). Office apps likewise - after formatting and spell checkers, how many features does the average user need, want or use. Games? Well, someone who was frozen in time for the nearly 40 years since Wack-a-Mole would instantly recognize todays FPS games as kin, even if the graphics has changed for the prettier. So maybe all this superfluous computing power can be put to some new and original uses. After all, has anyone ever found a Bitcoin?
He should know
> it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas
and no religion would want that, would it?
Who wants a share, now?
Although the means of arriving at the conclusion that Facebook is about to become TitsUp has so many holes in its logic that it's hard to see the connections for all the empty assumptions between them. However if there is any substance to this, then it does look like the timing of the IPO was less than a coincidence.
Hell hath no fury
> enraged they would actually have to fork out cash to see their own desktops from afar
... like a freetard pwned
Instead of a "thank you for all the years of value you've given us for free" the sense of selfish entitlement displayed when a company decides it's not seeing any benefit, was truly remarkable. Sure, Logmein did pull the rug with no useful period of notice, and I do sympathise (being one of their freetards, myself). But surely graceful acceptance of the situation is not beneath most people?
A retailer, not an IT company
Just because an company uses IT, or even relies on it, doesn't necessarily make it an IT company.
That could be said of Amazon. They are primarily a retailer (or cloud computing provider - but let's put that to one side for now) - a shifter of boxes. The cheaper, faster and more efficiently, the better. But it's the boxes that are their business, not the how&why of shifting them.
There was a study done of Amazon's "fulfillment" centre at Rugley, (in England) which concluded that the company's policy of minimum-wage hiring, lack of interest in improving morale towards its staff and hire-em-and-fire-em attitudes mean that it's not making much of a contribution to the local community, and not much of an economic impact to the local economy, either.
it might be that this view is common, not just to considering its employees as commodities, but in its software assets too. That they are merely tools of the trade and not part of its corporate identity: to be loved, nurtured and promoted as a product or as a thing of value, above how they reduce costs and improves efficiency. As such, any discussion, analysis or outside scrutiny of their inner workings would only be sensible if that work made the tools better. Philanthropy is not their job: if there's any "giving back" to be done, it's in the form of lower prices to its customers.
> though there's a good chance of finding a Reg reader almost anywhere there's any IT, including the South Pole
So nobody on the ISS then? Shame.
So basically, it boils down to:
- out with the P languages: Perl, Python and PHP
'nuff said (though I'm still sticking with Perl - and Ruby was never really a contender, anyway)
How big is your pie?
> open up pay TV competition for the benefit of consumers
The problem with competition is the size of the market.
Typically when companies compete, there are a few things that can happen: prices (and by implication: margins) can drop, products and/or efficiency can improve, and more "stuff" gets consumed.
So far as TV viewership is concerned, in the UK it seems to be pretty much at saturation: all the people who want to watch as much TV as they can, or are physically able to, already do so. Making more content available won't do a great deal to get more eyeballs staring at the goggle-box for more hours on more days.
Since the total size of the potential market has already been reached, all that increased competition (or "choice" if you're a politician) will do is to make each company's slice of the market smaller.
How could TV be made cheaper? Well, in the UK the licence
tax fee is independent on the amount of competition. It might be possible for a new player to put pressure on Sky to reduce their subscriptions, but more channels would increase the number of advertising minutes available, which would drive down rates and therefore lower advertising income - so no benefit there (not even to advertisers, who'd have to pay for more ads to reach the same number of millions of viewers).
As for improving the product - yeah, that happens! [ errr, no it doesn't ] When TV companies have less income, they make cheaper programmes: reality, game shows, chat shows and cut the expensive "quality" programming and the niche/specialised programmes that attract few viewers. They also show more repeats. However, with some channels on Sky already showing only three or four hours of original (i.e. never seen before on UK TV) content per week, there's not much scope for that, either.
So what would more TV competition look like? Just more repeats, more advertisements, more imported programmes. more celebs and reality and the same number of viewers grumbling that "there's never anything to watch". Oh, and the BBC - still with its protected £ billions, making programmes without the encumbrance of advertising (or much in the way of transparency or oversight - who decides if they screen yet more celebs & dancing, anyway?) and squashing the prospect of the independents making money by competing with them given their enormous (unearned) income. It would be interesting to see how that sits with pan-european TV competition.
> if I live in Belgium and want to subscribe to a Spanish Pay TV service,
Which is the exact situation that british ex-pats find themselves in (though not to watch spanish TV - if you've ever seen it, you'll know why). At present a lot of them have honkin' great satellite dishes parked near their houses just to pull in Sky or the Beeb - though this is contrary to the providers terms of service.
Sky's "solution" to this is to configure their newest satellite to only broadcast their UK service to a more tightly focused region, with less "overspill" into other countries where naughty brits won't get a strong enough signal. Even if the european skies are opened up, tbroadcasters will be under no obligation to actually broadcast into other european countries. Thus any finding by the EU will be irrelevant.
Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"
> the insides look enough like a home made bomb
Nah. The highly skilled and extremely motivated folks at the TSA are all fully aware that *any* bomb has curly wires leading to the explosives and a red LED count-down display.
The "heavily regulated systems for licensing and managing taxis" was obviously set up with the best intentions of customer safety and fairness in mind. However, it's easy for such a system (I wonder if it bars people from becoming taxi drivers if they have a criminal record. For, say, causing damage to a competitor's vehicle?) with a high barrier to entry, to become devoid of competition and for the scarcity of qualified operators to reduce the levels of service, timeliness and customer convenience.
Maybe what Uber illustrates, due to its popularity, is that the restricted licensing of parisian cabbies has been overdone. Rules that were set up in the prehistoric times, before the internet, may need adjustments and the market opened up so that the number of "legitimate" taxis can grow to fulfill the demand - and introduce some competitiveness to keep prices reasonable.
> Obviously, you've never worked in logistics
Yes, I haven't (?)
Which means I start with no preconceived ideas - just a knowledge of what one customer wants - and some of the possible benefits to any business bold enough to break out of the norm.
Delivering outside of business hours, with no rush-hours, some lifted parking restrictions, no getting caught up in the school run. Being able to get more than 8 or 10 productive hours a day (and more than 5 productive days a week) out of your vans, offices and warehouse. Having access to a large pool of workers who have finished their day jobs and want to earn some extra: either delivering, sorting or doing the paperwork (maybe even keeping the websites up to date?). Offering the retailers extra options for "out of hours" collections - overnight, even. Increased volumes from more customer-friendly services, the ability to expand the business and take pick-ups from householders, too.
Imagine how much better it could be
> One of the key things that marked retailers out were those using multiple ways to get stuff into people's hands
If there were any courier companies, any at all, that had the slightest clue about how to deliver goods to households, at times that were convenient to the receivers - not based around the hours that the couriers preferred to work?
How radical it would be if they delivered in the evenings - just like your local pizza outfit manages. And 7 days a week, too! Or even if you could specify when you'd like your deliveries to arrive, or simply book a slot.
We know all this is possible, supermarkets manage their own deliveries for the convenience of their customers (even if the stuff that turns up isn't always what you ordered). However the "last mile" deliveries are all stuck in the 1980s: when couriers were business to business operations and 9-5 was all that mattered. If Amazon really wanted to assert their total domination, they'd buy up one of the major courier companies, or extend their distribution operation and do the final stage themselves. Whether by van or by drone.
Talk is cheap
Ever since terrorism hit the news headlines, the security forces, media and some of the more impressionable individuals (not to mention any politician who can get on the bandwagon to further their
media profile patriotic credentials) has been on a hair-trigger. Every little comment, however innocuous is examined for it's threat potential. Every bluffer's threat is taken as a real danger, every sign / portent / suspicious movement causes the panic button to be pressed - repeatedly and every tiny little incident is bigged-up as if the end of the world has just been averted.
However, most of it is complete bull.
So when some little wannabe-hacker asks for help, with a project that nobody has heard of, has no chance of coming to fruition and will be forgotten as soon as their attention flits onto something shiny, the circus grinds into action. Especially those outfits that can leverage the "event" for their own gain (and our increased levels of fear). Therefore it's refreshing to hear two such organisations characterise this as:
> intangible and overhyped.
Which, for a business sector that makes every molehill (real or imagined) into a mountain of FUD, must mean that the whole thing is of so little consequence that even they can't spin it into a criminal mastermind plotting the next global crisis.
Maybe there is some common sense out there.
When will *I* buy a 4K TV
Choose any of:
1 - When there is sufficient content that I want which is exclusively available in 4k definition. Let's say: every film release for the previous 5 years.
2 - When I need a new TV and the price of a 4k set is within 25% of a standard (2k) HDMI for the same screen size
3 - There is some killer tech / app that won't work with my existing 2K technology
4 - When I lose all sense of proportion and get caught up in the hype
5 - When 8k comes out and 4k sets are on sale and I need to replace a 2k set
Personally, I reckon that with the exception of (3) - which will never happen - these are in approximate chronological order. So the clock will start ticking as soon as all major films stop being released in 1920x1080 format. Which is probably a long, long way away.
> Mechanical interface and electrical interface are two different things
Spot on. Having an SD interface only makes sense (but given how flimsy & unreliable they are, not much sense) if the plan was to make these SoC's swapable, or interchangeable. With an embedded or wearable IoT there would be no reason or need to make the "brains" removable. It might need to be inserted into its gizmo once, during assembly but after that I foresee its closest neighbour being a large dob of hot melt glue.
My assumption is that the SD card format is merely used for the prototype to give journalists a sense of size and "ubiquity". I.e. to illustrate how it can be inserted anywhere (!) that an SD card would fit.
A dying breed
In practice, defamation (and libel) laws are pointless - unless you have millions to chuck about and actively want the publicity of taking a newspaper to court. For most published material, the internet is all that matters. In that case, a person only needs to get a lawyer to write a letter to the website's hoster and pretty much any article will be off the site, pronto.
Re: All it needed
> Award yourself beer.
krrrrrck, shhhhhhhh, glug
All it needed ...
> police, firefighters, paramedics, SES (State Emergency Service)" and a Search and Rescue Squad from nearby Shepparton enthusiastically responded.
... was a spin-doctor
A good match
Blackberry and Alicia Keys.
Both are names I know. Though the only AK song I could strain to think of (maybe blokes aren't her audience?) was Black Velvet - though it turns out that was done by Alanna Myles, not AK.
So, like Blackberry, the name is familar but the product remains a mystery. Possibly due to better marketing than content.
I wonder whether RIM will approach Ozzy as a replacement?
Re: The law is not the answer
> I think you're struggling with the concept here a bit because you don't actually know what property rights you have today.
A fair point.
The difficulty is: knowing which of the outfits that you allowed access to your privates, did the dirty on you. For example, say I received a dozen of more spams saying "Happy birthday Pete 2, not that you're getting on a bit, would you like to take out our special old-people's life insurance. If you apply today, we'll send you a free bus-pass holder".
Now there would probably be many organisations that have either been given my date of birth, or that could have inferred it. For example: Amazon getting lots of gift-wrapped orders (I wish) to my name and address. Unlike the example of the Daily Wail using my photograph, I wouldn't necessarily know who had leaked my personal data.
There is also the issue of scalability. Even if there was a route to cheap justice and a swift judgment, would that process still work when every citizen had several outstanding claims against multiple infringers: each of whom was located in a different country and had an interest in having the proceedings held in their own home country. I can see a situation where the legal process might only take 5 minutes, but there is a 6 month wait for your 5 minutes.
The law is not the answer
> Then we can begin to assert that we own everything we produce, extending copyright rights and practice to our own data.
Having "rights" is fine and dandy ... if you are a law student making an argument in some ivory tower. However when an average guy on (maybe) $50,000 a year tries to assert those rights, up against the corporate might of a $100Bn corporation, there isn't even a smear left on the tracks of the juggernaut that rolls over him.
Recourse to the law is only practical when it is affordable (without ruining either side: win or lose) and there is some degree of symmetry between the means of the parties involved.
So how would an average guy "defend" his rights to his data? The answer is that he can't. Nobody can. As software companies learned with software piracy: once it's out there, you can't stop it. The only way to restrict the proliferation of personal data is to stop it getting "free". One model would be for all personal data to only be available through some sort of personal server (real or virtual) that required specific, tailored access to be granted on a case-by-case basis, by the individual in question.
The problem is that few would wish to take the time to police their data. We already know that personal privacy comes a long way down the list of most people's priorities - as most (rightly or wrongly) don't consider it to have any value and so far they haven't been proved wrong.
Maybe a better solution would be a way of allowing people to declare tabula rasa every few years. Change their online identity, walk away from all the crap that's been written about, or by, them and stop all those dam' cookies from following them around.
The idea was popular in early Jewish/Christian tradition as Jubilee where slaves were freed, debts wiped clean and sins absolved. Maybe the internet needs the same? Though 50 years could be too long an interval - 6 months might be better.
Re: No better way to destroy a country's IT business
> First, nothing gets extremely smart and creative people excited ...
Very true. Now consider this: There are 300 million americans, 500 million in EU countries and 1.2 .... sorry: 1.3 ... err, 1.35 billion chinese. Maybe at present the balance is tipped in favour of the USA due to its predominance and it's ties with Europe. However, over time it's simply an inevitable matter of numbers that there will be more "extremely smart and creative" people inside China than inside America.
Don't take that as me advocating one side or the other. Just look at the numbers and ask two questions: when will (or did) it happen and what will be (or is) the effect on the west and its ability to out-smart the other guys? I am absolutely convinced that there are high-powered think-tanks working for every major government that are fully engaged on this question, already. I just hope we all manage to come to some sensible conclusions.
Re: No better way to destroy a country's IT business
I'm not concerned about the surveillance issues regarding SWIFT - that boat has sailed. In fact it's over the horizon and out of sight by now. Nor am I going to lose sleep about personal privacy: that boat also gone.
No. The bigger issue is the NSA promises that systems can be hacked "at the speed of light and the implication that the trust we implicitly have in EFT and all other electronic financial tools - even down to reporting share prices - can no longer be guaranteed while the NSA has this capability.
Traditionally, wars have been about physical confrontation and destruction. Whichever side manages to beat the crap out of the other: they're the winner. That has mutated somewhat into an economic war: whichever side manages to get the other's "fiscal nuts" into a vice and turns the handle: they're the winner. The Cold War might well have been the prototype for this sort of conflict - won not by military means, but by out-producing and bankrupting the adversary.
If the financial equivalent of sabotage can be developed and deployed - possibly to make electronic transactions involving "enemy" states or their companies unreliable, corrupted ("why was that transfer declined, there are billions in that account?") or too slow - such as by adding 1 millisecond to share dealings, then that is an effective tool of warfare. Unfortunately, we all then stand the risk of becoming collateral damage in a "clean" war, where victims die from economic malaise in their still-standing homes, rather than a bayonet to the guts in a muddy field, thousands of miles away.
Re: The sheeple are so gullible
> a government agency is more capable of analysing the bugs and finding their root causes than MSFT itself
Is it more likely that the NSA people are smarter than MS's techies - or that MS do the analysis for them and then hand over the vulnerability reports to the NSA (maybe even with worked examples of exploits?) , while holding back on releasing any fixes?
No better way to destroy a country's IT business
If the NSA was planning on actively undermining global confidence in american made, or american owned technology companies, they would probably have a strategy that looked a lot like what they're doing.
So much of our world depends on financial transactions being carried out electronically and all of those transactions are based on the trust we place in the institutions and the infrastructure being incorruptible. What this tells us is that those assumptions are completely wrong.
Leave aside the (relatively minor) issues about personal privacy. I think we all realise that is a lost cause - and was probably always a myth, anyway. But to have one country, and an unaccountable, secret entity within it, that is above (or making) the law able to track, manipulate, corrupt or deny electronic access to funds, destroys the basic foundation of the world-wide commerce system.
However, if someone was able to use that as their USP, saying: "Look. None of our systems were designed by americans. None of them use american parts. There are no americans in our factories, laboratories, sales or support organisations and we can guarantee that these systems use hardware and security algorithms that have never touched the USA, or it's allies, and are physically and electronically tamper-proof" - then you have something that almost no other country or company can sell.
The only question that would remain is who do you trust the least? The americans or whoever offers the alternative.
An even costlier mistake?
Following on the back of the mistakes, bad judgment, double counting and wrong assumptions. The root cause must be the inability of so many (all?) of our law-makers, governors and policy makers to have a grasp of basic arithmetic (not even maths). If they had, surely they could have applied the "sniff test" and come to the conclusion that the numbers this guy was bandying around smelt wrong?
Even if they didn't feel confident in blowing the whistle on the whole thing at that point, surely a quick look around and seeing that nobody else was following the UK's lead, would have been a pretty big clue. But I guess our betters are still in a Charge of the Light Brigade mentality, than able to sit down with a calculator and a small slice of common sense.
Re: Sorry Peter but it would be a bit pointless now.
An even bigger problem than re-opening the enquiry would be tracking down any remains of the cyanide-laced apple. I think this is more a case of a "has-been" gay campaigner grabbing the chance of getting his name back in the media.
Although it is said that he died from eating an apple laced with cyanide, the allegedly fatal apple was never tested for cyanide.
C the point?
> By point 12 it's hard to take things seriously
Bzzzzt! (“Forced program termination is not allowed ... " not exactly pro-choice, is it?)
Failure is on the cards by point #4 (Hence, the language should be English-based) - there's inclusiveness for you
and by point #10: a program rolls for a 40% chance of ... 40% of being ... and 40% of executing by a ... it seems to be suggesting that in the feminist world things have a 120% chance of doing something.
Although the chance of this language being for real is much closer to 0 than to 120%
P.S. At the time of writing (07:50 UK time, the Bitbucket repository has become unavailable. Maybe it's gone on maternity leave? Leaving all the other languages to pick up its work, for no extra rewards.
Not just one
> ... to tell them that the one person who wrote to complain ...
From the article: The concerned telly lover was grumpy
[ feeble joke alert ] So maybe he was writing on behalf of the other 6 dwarfs, as well?
Boat based bonking?
Sounds like an advertisement for a weak beer.
On a roll
So this is how Apple gets to patent the wheel
(I wonder how long it took their marketing department to decide what colour it should be?)
So good, it's bad
> mentored by their under-30 employees
So if these sub-30s are so good at IT and busting with great ideas, why aren't they all starting their own businesses?
Ideas are ten-a-penny. Knowing what's trending on FB is worthless. Having the abilty to pick the winners is one in a million and combining that with the skill, determination and money to turn them into a success is incredibly rare.
It's not the code that matters
> about 0.26 per cent of humanity, can code
But how many can debug?
Why not go the whole hog and turn your entire face into an input device?
Scratching your ear could turn up the volume.
A cough could tweet your location
Picking your nose could act like a mouse click - depending on which nostril you choose
and when someone takes offence and smacks you in the mouth - well, that could be the signal to switch off.
> payday loans firm has received a £175,000 fine
So can they be charged their own rates of interest for every day they're late paying the fine?
The industry's Comet
Distie-hood is no different from being a high-street retailer. If all you're offering is the same stuff that buyers can get online, but cheaper, then you're screwed. And good riddance.
Just because you hide behind a corporate facade doesn't mean you are immune to market forces (or disintermediation, as the effect has been called for at least 25 years) just as your domestic counterparts have already discovered to their cost.
The only companies that haven't cottoned on to the need to add value (or think that having a flashy marketing campaign and a 25% mark-up to pay for it counts as "adding value") are the ones who are either dead, or dying. However, even adding value isn't the same as it used to be. Integrators are finding it tricky, too. Instead of selling individual computers, bundling them together, installing some software and calling it a "system" is also a flawed business model - as so many end-users find that the internet gives them all the knowledge and expertise to do this for themselves.
No competitive disadvantage
> the NSA rifling through service providers' servers was not seen as exacerbating these concerns.
The reason nobody at the top is concerned is because the NSA are shafting every company, equally. It's not as if there is one particular company that is under greater surveillance than any other - the NSA is being (laudably) non-discriminatory over who's privacy they violate. Therefore there's no reason for customers to single out any one company as having more or less of their rights infringed. It doesn't matter where you go, you'll still be spied on.
Of if the NSA is targeting particular organisations, they've done a better job of keeping that fact under wraps.
Re: What's wrong with 'unelected.uk'
> What's wrong with being in unelected in a position of power
Well, the only people in the UK who have positions of power are CEO's of multi-billion £££ companies (even they are severely constrained by their shareholders and regulatory bodies) and workers in The Treasury. All the rest are merely puppets, or straws blowing in the wind of
public opinion media headlines. Just how many financial civil servants and special advisors are ever elected - or who's names we will ever know?
Real power will always be anonymous and unaccountable.
Just me, or what?
But did anyone else read the summary and think that pisspoor.uk was Nominet's new website?
When buying technology (for anyone: parent, child, husband,wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or all of these) just bear in mind that as soon as you give someone any present that requires a plug or has an on/off function you are responsible for its correct operation forever.
That includes explaining how it works, getting it set up, telephone support, "emergency" visits to fix any problems, perennial "while you're here, could you show me again .... " each time you visit that person and the ever popular "why does it do .... " followed by the vaguest and impossibly non-technical description you could ever get - and the hopeful and expectant look in the eye of the asker that you won't go home until it's working the way they want it to. Whether that's physically possible or not.
After that you'll understand why planned obsolescence is such a good thing - and hope that it will hurry up and arrive soon.
An unlikely combination
> work on quantum gravity and the unification of the fundamental physical forces ... organised with the help of Vanity Fair and attended by a bunch of celebs including ...
It's a shame that mention of the camera-hungry will get this event more publicity than an explanation of what the research was about, ever could.
“Scientists should be celebrated as heroes, and we are honored to be part of today’s celebration of the newest winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the Fundamental Physics Prize,”said Anne Wojcicki and Sergey Brin.
+1 to that.
Healer, heal thyself!
> consideration for passengers who would otherwise be subjected to the chatter of others.
So a giant first step in that direction would be to outlaw US politicians - especially ones who appear on TV with half-arsed suggestions, opinions and comments. The ones who spend their whole terms asleep or crawling up to their rich
masters sponsors - they're OK (apart from the damage they do to democracy, obv.)
As for the "cure" for all aircraft audio annoyances? Hearos
Re: Big is better
To get twice the range (for the same receiver sensitivity) you need 16 times as much power. Strictly speaking: EIRP
16 = 2^4
Big is better
> military are high powered, heavy, and demanded large antenna arrays
Because military radar isn't used to detect whether the general in the next room has fallen of his/her's perch. The problem with RADAR is that it suffers from an inverse squared, SQUARED law. I.e. 1 / (r ** 4) power/distance relationship. The signal going out from the transmitter is the normal 1/r^2 degradation with distance to the target and the signal reflected off the target (assuming it's "playing the game" by not being stealthy) comes back with the same power::distance ratio. Hence the need for massive amounts of power, huge receiving (and transmitting) antennae and therefore large installations.
I'm sure that given their expertise in the area, the military are more than capable of making a bitsy little version - and could / would / probably-have if there was a requirement ... say from the clandestine services.
Now where did I put that foil-backed wallpaper?
The perfect combination
> The UK is by quite a long way the place where people spend most online
When you add together the effect of a poor range of shops, with small choices of goods, high in-store prices and lousy parking/access, is it any surprise?
On the brighter side
Sky's hell desk must be raking it in:
BT customers pay 5.1p/min and 13.1p connection. Calls from other providers will vary.
Agile hosting always wins
Time for the fuzz + 7 other outfits to nail 40 infringing websites: 3 months
Time for an owner to register a new site & carry on streaming: 1 hour (guess)
I think we can all work out how this will end.
Re: Thinning the hurdle
> total random selection would be just as good a selection method,
You may well be correct. However the very first time your randomly-selected candidate screws up, the blame-balls will start flying. Sooner or later someone will ask two questions: was this person qualified? and who hired this idiot?
Now, it may be that if you're hiring CEOs for The Co-Op Bank people won't ask - but for any normal organisation you don't want anyone putting your name up to answer those questions. At that time it's no good saying "Well I saw an article on Wikipedia that said random selection was just as reliable as academic selection", as you could soon be finding out, personally, that the recruitment process is much more arduous and deeper probing than that. As for the competency point: yes, nobody can assess whether a recruit will be able to do a particular job. However since the name of the game is CYA (or "indemnity" as professionals call it), if you can point to some objective criteria - no matter how irrelevant - and say that this person scored better than others, you stand some chance of still sitting at the same desk tomorrow. The worst that will happen is some jobsworth will set up a process review and witter on about "continuous improvement" and "learning lessons" - the lesson to learn is to avoid these people.
Finally, there's the perennial issue about HR. While they don't care about whether a person can do a particular job, they do care that the organisation (or more properly: they) doesn't get accused of unfair hiring practices. Therefore a process must be in place. It must have been approved and there must be documentary evidence to show it's been followed. If that all sounds a bit "ITIL-y" or "ISO-y", then I agree. However it's one of the hoops you have to jump through.
Re: Do I need to explain
> If some of these major companies actually paid their taxes in the UK
So if these mega-corps are required to pay extra taxes, where will the money come from? They won't raise their prices and hurt their market share and they're already squeezing their suppliers dry - so the only viable source of money to give to the government is from the pay (and numbers) of the employees.
It might be nice for a few idealists to say "oooh look, we made these companies pay their fair share of taxes". But what about the wage cuts and redundancies that are imposed to move that money from being in employees pockets, to being in government coffers?
What would yo say to a freshly-sacked employee, then?
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