How does removing my liberty to enter into a conventional employment contract line up with the supposed libertarian views of our beloved Mr Worstall?
32 posts • joined 4 Sep 2009
I am so jealous...
That sounds like a truly awesome day out. I can't begin to describe how jealous this article made me feel!
'"You can buy a full set of running gear including shoes from Aldi for less than the cost of one month's gym membership." Honestly, if you don't know that some people would struggle to get even that, you might really have a very warped idea about how poor some of our poor really are.'
I totally get that some people would struggle to find £40, but I only made the comparison because there was an earlier suggestion that people are unfit because gym membership is cheap. Most (but not all) Britons can afford that much for sports wear.
In truth, you don't need special gear to go running though. Cheap trainers are fine (£15 from Aldi) and you can wear them as regular footwear in between runs. Marginal cost: £nil.
Re: Flaw in the argument
"I saw Mr Oliver on telly feeding his young a very healthy breakfast of various bits of tasty fruit. Back of the envelope tells me that was over £4 of fruit each. That's £240 a month for two kids or £360 for three. These are not amounts that the majority of the UK could easily afford for a total food bill, let alone just the kids' breakfasts. Good quality protein is similar - compare the prices of mass produced burgers with even fairly cheap cuts of beef."
If your food bill is too high, you need more imagination, not a fix of junk food.
In-season fruit bought from a market stall is dirt cheap. Out of season or exotic fruit bought from a supermarket is extremely expensive and often tastes worse.
Vegetables are generally healthier than fruit (less sugar), and are even cheaper. Carrots, swede, beetroot, parsnips, cabbage, broccoli, onions, kale, spring greens are massively nutritious and are always cheap. Peas, green beans, tomatoes, peppers aubergine, courgettes, marrow, squash are equally nutritious and are cheap for much of the year.
Lentils, beans, eggs, tuna, mackerel, chicken thighs, pork are all cheap sources of high quality protein. Roasting joints of most meat are also economical unless you pig out. Braising joints are even cheaper and often taste better (slow cookers cook less than £20 these days).
Potatoes, brown rice, brown pasta, home-made wholemeal bread (bread makers are cheap) are dirt cheap sources of very healthy carbs. Porridge is probably the healthiest breakfast cereal available; it's also the cheapest.
A diet based on those ingredients would cost significantly less than one based on ready meals, crisps, biscuits, cakes, and trashy snacks. It would also be healthier and tastier.
Anyone who claims they're too poor to eat well is lying. The truth is probably that they're too lazy to cook and they're looking for an excuse.
"...shoes that are good enough to give you 6 months of injury-free jogging most certainly are not"
You don't need expensive running shoes; research suggests that cheap shoes are less likely to cause injury. You can buy a full set of running gear including shoes from Aldi for less than the cost of one month's gym membership.
Anyone who claim's they're too poor to exercise is lying. The truth is probably that they're too lazy and looking for an excuse.
Re: competent IT Staff
Trevor_Pott, unless it's a parody, your rant is a hilarious career suicide note. I'd never employ someone who thinks broad generalisations are a proper substitute for analysis and discernment, or who is labouring under the weight of enormous chips on both his shoulders.
You know nothing about our business and your crass generalisations about working hours, remuneration rates, staff retention, career development and the balance between youth and experience are absurdly far from the truth. We have a fantastic team of technical staff, but it's been hard work getting there.
The motive behind my graduate plan is a genuine desire to help the next generation of bright young things to get a foot on the career ladder. If you cynically assume that I'm simply attempting to rip off the naive and vulnerable - your agument seemingly being based on the apparent grounds that all employers are bad people - then I really wouldn't want you poisoning my well head. If you have constructive advice on how to make a graduate scheme work well, I'll listen gratefully. If you want to rant, my ears are closed.
Re: competent IT Staff
Maiakaat, it's clear that you aren't a good fit for our organisation. Goodbye.
Oh, and btw we pay above market norms, work hard to create genuine career progression, invest substantially in training and work on the cutting edge of our sector. More than half of our staff joined us on personal recommendation, having worked with our managers in a previous organisation or been encouraged to join us by a happy colleague. We are fast-growing with substantial backing, so pay rises and progression never suffer from 'dead man's shoes.'
Some people who don't work for us and know little about us think that we are manipulative control freaks who are weak and care little for our staff. We are very happy for those ignorant fools to damage our competitors' businesses.
Re: competent IT Staff
As an employer, let me tell you that a dismissive, contemptuous and supercilious attitude like this is just the kind of think that I look for when I'm deciding which candidates to reject. And anyone thinking of downvoting me would do better to ask some searching questions about their suitability for the workplace.
We train people, but it can be genuinely difficult to find people who are really good enough and willing to be trained. We are willing to cross-train people in new languages, but we find many staff and candidates are reluctant to learn new skills. For example, staff with an MS backround (a common skillset locally) are rarely keen to acquire good Linux skills; C# developers (also common) are unlikely to jump at the chance to learn R.
So our plan is to work with the local university to hire new graduates who haven't yet settled on a preferred toolkit. But - as anyone honest will acknowledge - there is a very broad range of abilities and attitudes amongst new graduates.
Filling a skills deficit with training is easy. Finding willing candidates is harder. Finding willing candidates who have genuinely enquiring minds and a desire to continually advance and develop is harder still.
Re: I think...
Which? published a table, not shown in this article, that compares pre and post tax prices in the UK and the USA. Their research didn't fall into the obvious trap that you describe but, unfortunately, this article cites the price difference including California sales tax at 8.41% and UK VAT at 20%; this is hardly an apples to apples (if you'll pardon the pun) comparison.
In any case, the pre-tax prices all showed very significantly higher costs in the UK. The Telegraph has published the table, btw.
Too late. I stopped using Firefox when I realised that Mozilla valued political correctness over freedom of political expression.
They've become an irrelevance.
what will your customers want in 2020?
It sounds like you don't refresh your software too often, so you need to consider what your customers will want in 2020. If you don't have a crystal ball, you need to keep your options open.
Unless you have an overwhelming reason, choose a platform - any platform - that doesn't tie you to a specific vendor or operating system on the client, app server or database server. For me - and I'm a business bloke rather than a techie - that rules out most of the Microsoft tools.
Re: Come on 150GB a month
I very legitimately got through much more than 150GB during the month of the London Olympics with three teenage boys each watching a different sport in HD from dawn to dusk. Even in a quiet month my lads consume more than 60GB - with no file sharing or pr0n at all.
What's good for the SME might not be good for the sales rep
A hard-nosed approach to return on investment sounds pretty sensible to me. If your MD didn't need the extra server, he was wise not to open his chequebook.
Sometimes it can be cheaper - much cheaper - to pick up the pieces when something goes wrong than to stop it from going wrong in the first place. System flakiness isn't a problem if it's been chosen consciously, deliberately and rationally as the most cost-effective approach..
Less is more
The thing that killed the netbook was creeping bloat. The original EeePCs weren't intended as a substitute for a computer: they were a cheap, light, small, instantly-available alternative when you didn't want the bulk and expense of your full laptop.
But slowly bloat set in as cheapskates saw netbooks as a cheap-and-nasty alternative to a proper laptop. The 9" panel grew to bulky, heavy 11" even though the screen resolution didn't improve. Lightweight Linux gave way to Windows, which was a bad joke when the necessary antivirus and heavyweight desktop software was added. The tiny, light, latency-free solid state storage gave way to sloooow hard drives that removed the Eee's instant-on pleasure. All these things pumped up the price to £50 or so less than a proper laptop.
The success of the original Eee and of tablets shows that users will accept compromises for a device that's genuinely cheap and portable. The demise of the netbook shows that the cumulative effect of ill-considered incremental improvements can destroy the soul of a device to the point where it becomes worthless.
Sometimes less is more.
Re: pathetically dependent?
No. Microsoft has much greater diversification than that in the business world, which is where it derives the bulk of its revenues. For most companies, Windows desktops and MS Office are lost in the roundings of their total IT infrastructure costs; that's why desktop Linux hasn't taken off in the business world - the potential savings aren't big enough to justify the effort.
Part of Apple's problem is that a huge proportion its profits are derived from two products - the iPhone and the iPad. Both are market leaders, and it's hard to grow market share when you're in front. If either product falls out of fashion (how many iPods do you see these days, for example?), or is replaced by a newer model that doesn't find favour with consumers, Apple's profits will take a very sharp tumble.
Unfortunately, we don't have Gove on my side of the Severn estuary, so my GCSE-age kids are stuck with the cumpulsory but absurdly misnamed Skills Wales programme. Can you copy a file onto a USB stick using Windows Explorer? Tick. Can you open a Word document? Tick? And so on - I kid you not.
If you're planning to set up a tech business, go to England, not Wales. Our government is more interested in egalitarianism than education.
"I think the problem is the computers in schools are locked down"
You don't have kids in school, right? My son knows four administrator passwords for his school network (he assures me that he never uses them); almost every pupil in the school knows how to avoid the web proxy; kids routinely overcome 'security' to install preferred software - Chrome instead of IE, Python and Eclipse instead of VB, games instead of no games - and overwriting the official Windows image with Ubuntu is an almost daily practical joke to be carried out whenever the teacher leaves the room.
I have never seen anyone use a Windows 7 or 8 phone. I've seen adverts. I've seen store displays. I've seen demo models. But I've never seen a real phone in the wild.
Software ecosystems need critical mass. Windows 8 doesn't have it and I can't see how it will achieve it.
Re: There's nothing wrong with cultural sensitivity
Gollywogs (soft toys based loosely on exaggerated African stereotypes) were found in every child's bedroom in Britain 50 years ago but are now widely regarded as grossly offensive to the point where a broadcaster and daughter of a former prime minister recently lost her job for comparing an interviewee to one.
I forgot... our own culture is the only True Way
I'm depressed but not surprised to be the only poster who thinks that respecting other cultures is a good starting point. How would we in the sophisticated West respond to a company that used a Swastika as a logo? Or one that reinvented an ancient fertility symbol of an erect human member engaging with a bull? Or one that put a picture of a naked child on its products.
Any of these images would be very likely to breach the law in the UK, but have been regarded as completely acceptable by other people in different places at different times. But I don't hear outraged voices accusing our government of outrageous censorship.
Oh, wait... I forgot. Our culture is the Only True Way. All other cultures are primitive and deserve nothing but mockery, contempt and, possibly, description by a bemused anthropologist,
There's nothing wrong with cultural sensitivity
Many organisations change their logo or name to avoid causing offence in certain cultures. The Red Cross is the Red Crescent in some countries, and, in the UK, Robertson's jam dropped the gollywog (am I allowed to use that word without traumatising delicate El Reg readers?) some years back to avoid offending shoppers.
Cuddly toys are offensive in the UK. Crosses are offensive in Islamic countries. Bitten apples might be offensive in Russia. Get over it. Just adapt to people whose values are different from your own.
Lack of content isn't an impediment
People who say that no-one will buy 4K TVs because of a lack of content are missing the point. All the TVs in my house are now multipurpose devices used for things like gaming, viewing photos, web browsing. When these fall due for replacement, I'd willingly pay a premium to benefit from extra resolution for these secondary uses.
When the devices are common, programme makers will provide the content.
Looking at my friends, the home desktop market is dead for most households. The elderly PC in the study is sufficient, and probably won't be replaced when it dies. People prefer to use laptops, tablets and phones for their ever-increasing computer fix: we spend so much time online that sitting in front of a desk just isn't comfortable enough.
In the laptop market, the simple fact is that Apple laptops offer a much better user experience than most WIndows equivalents. They're light, beautiful, start up in seconds instead of minutes, sleep for weeks instead of hours. They don't need infuriating security software and don't grind to a halt after 6 months. They're real objects of desire.
True, they don't run Windows software. But no-one uses that stuff any more. People play games on their consoles or smartphones, and everything else happens online. For the home user, Apple's bundled software (eg media playback, photo management, video editing, music creation) far surpasses the bundled Windows equivalents.
An Apple laptop feels like an upgrade. Until HP, Dell, Acer, Toshiba,etc can change that perception, they're on a downward spiral.
Supply and demand?
As the article says, alternative land uses are more profitable. So supply will naturally dwindle and the price will rise as a result. Production will then become more profitable, and the remaining growers will become more committed to maintaining the health of their trees. Relax - unless you're a believer in marxism or fanatical ecology, all will be well. We'll just have a slightly smaller world market in frankincense in future years.
This is a lie!
Apple stuff Just Works(TM). It's impossible for it to go wrong.
Thank's to Elop's bizarre strategic blunders, their current phones are dead-end that no reviewer will recommend, no phone seller will promote and no educated consumer will purchase. No-one's asking for Windows Mobile, so nothing will change when the new products come out. And the typical life of a handset is only 24 months, so, when the Windows phones finally appear, there'll be few existing owners declaring undying loyalty to the brand.
It's astonishing to see how quickly the toilet of consumer choice is able to flush away a hugely influential multinational business. Goodbye Nokia; it was great while it lasted.
Good news for the hold-outs
This is very good news for those of us who, on numerous privacy grounds, decline to use Facebook. I fear that, unless this slowdown continues, we might be heading for future where the ubiquity of social networking means that those who haven't signed up are regarded with suspicion by credit providers, insurers, retailers and, worst of all, governement.
And am I alone in finding it deeply disconcerting that the US government has access to the detailed life history of tens of millions of Britons. How long before a shopping trip to New York requires disclosure of your Facebook sign-on, so that US immigration can asses your suitability to enter the so-called 'Land of the Free'?
About time too!
My 10Mb/s Virgin Media connection is inexplicably unable to sustain a 2.5Mb/s HD stream from Youtube or iPlayer, despite having a rock solid 9.7Mb/s real-world speed on any bandwidth testing site. Even more suspiciously, if I disguise my connection by using get_iplayer to download programs in HD, I can utilise my full connection speed.
This traffic shaping policy isn't described anywhere on Virgin's website or publicity materials. It's fundamentally dishonest to sell something whilst holding back material facts from the purchaser.
For goodness sake, give the guys a break
I'm no Microsoft fan, but give the guys a break. I doubt that the victims of this tragedy actually care too much whether some of their aid resulted in some publicity for a big corporation. Aid given with impure motives is better than no aid at all.
Big business holds the purse strings in our society. If we're so mean-spirited that we scream shrilly whenever a company opens its wallet, don't be surprised if the wallet remains firmly shut next time. That won't help anyone.
Unfit for purpose
According to Wikipedia, "On June 7, 2010, the iPhone 3G was discontinued." So, in Apple's view, a 9 month old phone no longer derves security updates.
All RIM sales are classed as smartphones
Analysing the data shown in the original press release from IDC, it appears that all of RIM's phones have been included in the smartphone category.
In fact, Android won by a mile
This is a very strange write-up that conveys very little of the sense of IDC's original press release. Smartphones are now nearly half of the market by volume, and, presumably, 70-80% or more by value. Feature phone sales are now largely irrelevant in commercial terms.
IDC's conclusion is this: " The Western European mobile phone market will be dominated by smartphones, and Android will be the king of the hill." This statement is supported by Android's share of the smartphone market rocketing to 31% (2009Q4: 4%). Nokia - almost entirely Symbian - lost market leadership but remained in second place with 27.3% (2009: 46.1%).
Despite the bullish headline, Apple's share actually fell to 20.3% (2009: 24.2%) and RIM's share - Blackberry OS - fell slightly less rapidly to 14.8% (2009: 18.0%). Windows mobile gets lost in the rounding, but, despite the launch of Windows Phone 7, lost market share even more rapidly than Nokia.
Call me cynical, but we're all expecting the WTO to find against Airbus in the next day or two, and that will probably allow the US to impose big sanctions against the EU. Perhaps the Oracle / Sun merger will be a negotiating chip in those discussions.
I hope not. The anticompetitive nature of this proposed takeover is obvious, and it's in all our interests for MySQL to be remain independent of the big commercial database vendors.