309 posts • joined 14 Dec 2009
A b-ITER disappointment
Hype/no hype but let's hope it's true. 3 years ago while taking a break on the coast just outside Marseilles I the family and I took a trip a few miles north to the ITER site fascinated to learn about the progress being made and the prospects for this huge (expensive) international collaboration.
What a disappointment.
At the time the site was being prepared for the creation of the reactors. I learned during the presentation that they don't like using the word 'reactor' - too many negative connotations. So the site was being prepared but, perhaps no surprise, the accommodation for 650 civil servants (yes 650) were already built and occupied. No Nissan hut for these civil servants. Instead they got to occupy a state-of-the-art building.
But the icing on the cake was to learn that the grand plan is to, maybe, have a working prototype by 2040. At that time the site will be abandoned. 2040. A prototype. That's what billon/years buys you.
So that's the state of fusion research when done by a group sponsored by the tax payer. Very uninspiring. Though on the bright side, they are unlikely to disappoint anyone. But the French have much needed employment for 650 people for the next 30 years so that's good.
Given this background, maybe it's no surprise Lockheed Martin's skunk works project is making noises. They probably realise the ITER project looks like a massive, publicly funded white elephant and that a pitch to Congress might just net them some of the cash that would otherwise go to support French employment statistics.
EDF must also have been given some money because the place had all the electrical infrastructure in place both to power the research and absorb any of the energy they, maybe, one day, hope to produce.
"enablers of information society services" such as Google, Amazon, eBay and Skype"
It's a bit of an indictment that the companies chosen as example targets for the proposed directive are US. based. Are there no EU companies worthy even of being mentioned? It also makes the directive look like what it is, an attempt to try to control these US companies, the services of which very many EU citizens want to use.
How about instead of trying to regulate these companies which is a complete waste of time, try to remove the reasons why there are almost no EU companies that are able to provide these services.
Right there with you. Because there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible scenario, my take is that this is a fake story. How would this even come up in a conversation with HR in a way that is taken seriously?
It's great they are doing with research
The first port of call for this will be memory which is great because then there will be a competitor to IBMs 'Raceway' memory which also promises very hgh density storage http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racetrack_memory
Have you taken a look at Amazon's 10Ks and 10Qs?
These are the documents all public companies are required to file with the SEC quarterly (Q) and annually (K). They paint a picture of a company investing for future. Sure, the company made a loss of over $100 million. But Amazon's stated intent is to not make a profit. On their revenues the loss is within a very small margin of error and covered many time over by their cash reserves. In other words, this is a company managing its finances very precisely and erring on making a small loss [relatively speaking] rather than pay any corporation tax. And this despite making huge capital investments. You can see that Amazon lowered it's cash holdings to 'only' $5bn by an amount almost as much as their investment in kit. Of course this was not the stated reason as a note to the accounts points out that sellers are getting paid earlier.
May be it's because we live in a time when companies no longer make major capital investments for future because it's no longer acceptable to Wall Street who want the money NOW! No software company needs much capital (for hardware) and even those that 'produce' hardware such as Apple offload the expense and risk to Chinese companies like Foxconn.
So it's not normal, and therefore note worthy to an analyst, when a company does something different. However, it's not unusual for new businesses sectors to require unusual investments upfront. Trains, telephones and broadcast TV are examples of sectors that were being funded in far greater amounts than their incomes justified the respective early days. With hindsight these were sensible investments though it probably didn't seem that way at the time.
As for the CIA, my understanding is that they are using AWS kit and software by the container load but in-house. It seems low risk to me. If AWS were to collapse, the CIA already have the hardware and software and would then have ready access to people who were looking for a job. The kit being used is commodity, right? That mean's it's available everywhere, right? So presumably even a government could procure some.
Re: BBC produces quality TV that the market can't...
It's desperately disappointing these people are so disingenuous. A quick look at the list of 'Science & Nature' channel programs listed this morning (2014/09/10) on iPlayer shows that of the 22 programmes 18 are nature series and one of them from the 1950s and two are old David Attenborough series. Of the four non-nature 'science' programmes one is about the scary 'dark web', one about the 'romance of the Indian railways' (science, really?), one is by the long deceased Fred Dibnah (RIP) who climbed tall chimneys for a living and one about modern gadgets.
This listing is not unusual and has been the way of the BBC for a long time now. The BBC no longer does Science. It does some nature. To be fair while the recent track record is poor there have been some notable exceptions: Bang Goes the Theory (vs Big Bang Theory); the two three part series by Jim Alkalili (Periodic table of the elements/Electricity); the three part series by Michael Mosely on Pain, Puss and Poison; the two series by Brian Cox and the couple of Horizon programmes hosted by Jem Stafford were all good. But that I can list them easily and were talking about, maybe 40 hours of programming it's not a great showing.
Where is the real science? What happened to Horizon (mainly repeats or programmes 'diving into the archives'), Connections, Tomorrows World? Other channels seem to do it OK. Even Quest shows more new science stuff than the BBC (no not just endless re-runs of How's It Made).
So if I want more science in my viewing diet I *have* to look elsewhere.
Re: they will lose customers if they fold
@AC And what market share stats are these? No, you can't include Office 365 in the Microsoft numbers unless you also include GMail. Not looking so good now, eh?
When a Brit does a review
A friend of mine from the US had to hire some from the UK for a job here. The interviews consisted of a string of people telling him what they *couldn't* do. This review seems to follow the same pattern. It starts out with a bunch of comments about an earlier version. What?
The review mentions some good bits, a useful caveat about DPI and a relevant observation about the USB port limitation. But spends time on irrelevancies. For example, the reviewer couldn't quite get the same battery life. Close but no cigar. Maybe the reviewer was doing different things. For example the reviewer goes on to mention that standby duration is not as long if you have Hyper-V installed. It's a *£&!ing laptop. Why would I expect that if I'm treating the machine like a server it will behave as laptop?
However the review doesn't mention whether the battery can be removed or whether the device becomes a brick in three year time when the battery can be charged or replaced.
Yesterday was GCSE day so in honour of the day I'll give this piece a solid C. A pass but a poor one.
Well done David Allen Green
I can imagine that the job of Counter Terrorism is a tough one. Trying to work out who might be a future terrorist must be a thankless and error prone task requiring extensive and difficult intelligence work. However if the statement attributed to the Met command responsible is accurate, there seems little excuse for such careless use of words, such a cavalier attitude to, well, the law. The words, as I have read them, are those of someone who would appreciate a police state. After all, the job would be so much easier in such an environment.
So well done David Allen Green for challenging the Met.
Channel 4 New Surf Olympics
On the back of this report evening Channel 4 news did 'surf olymics' competition yesterday between a 6 year old, a 14/15 year old and a more mature woman. The woman won. What flummoxed the teenager 'Alfie' was sending an email. Not a clue. I think I'm right in quoting him saying 'he usually sends emails using Facebook'.
Now right there is the tragedy. Email is ubiquitous and almost free but they only way a teenager knows how to send one is using platform like Facebook. Get them while they're young...
My guess is that an idiot parliament realized it passed, at the behest of large foreign content providers, a law that could probably criminalize every young person in the country and very possibly anyone with a computer connected to the internet. That's not popular electorally. But why is it that young people break the law in this way? Maybe because the product costs too much? Because the content industry is trying to charge for the same product if, for example, you access through different channels?
What surprises me is how strident Andrew sounds when he paints the picture of the offense of breaking copyright law. Is there a history here?
Jack, Jack, Jack, you're doing it again
Have you had an accountant, economist or MBA look over the 10Q?
Amazon is doing a great job of managing it's assets - just like investors will expect. The purpose of Amazon is not to make money because that's just a taxable amount - and who wants to pay more to the government than is absolutely necessary. The job of Amazon is to make money for its stakeholders. Shareholders are stakeholders but the ones with the least claim to the assets of the company. Management and employees are another stakeholder group but the largest group are its huge army of vendors.
Amazon's financial wizards have made sure the company made a loss of $126m which to you and me sounds a lot. But on sales of nearly $20bn that's just 0.6%. Imagine that, needing to make a loss and doing so with that precision. Maybe you do but I can't drive my car with that accuracy never mind a company of that size. The complaint really is that the accuracy it's not as good as the extremely good $7m loss in earlier quarters. But don't forget losses now mean tax offsets in future years.
You can see from the 10Q this is managed loss. The company's cash holdings have been reduced from 8.7bn to 5bn which happens to almost exactly match the increase in sales over the same period. The profile of the cash inflows and outflows does not show a 1:1 correspondence but it is the net effect. What Amazon has done in the quarter is pay a lot people reducing its accounts payable to the tune of $4.5bn over the quarter. Who has been the recipient of this largess? That's not itemized but it is a lot of money going into the economy. The justification in the notes is: "shorter payable and longer receivable cycles and the resultant negative impact on cash flow".
I think you should be celebrating Amazon not be trying to denigrate it.
Oh, and by the way, the after hours slump takes the share price back to where it was two weeks ago. Big deal. Clearly there were some over optimistic types betting on Amazon in the last couple of weeks, bets which will not pay off this week. But stock price go down as well as up. Let's see where it is next week.
Totally moronic approach
The 'indie' producers are such losers.
1) Clearly their product is not that popular or YouTube would be deluged with advertising revenue sponsoring their viewing. This cannot be happening or Google would not take the position they do.
2) In a world of cloud computing, indie producers could create their own subscription service but they don't. Presumably because they know too well there is no money to be made
3) Antitrust applies when there is no competition. It's true there is no competition to YouTube on YouTube but that's not the basis of an antitrust complaint. There's no competition for Apple in Apple stores so does that make Apple and antitrust target? No. As popular as it is, YouTube does not control the market for music videos. Many other channels are available such as Netflix, iTunes, Spotify and these are just some of the on-line ones. There's also TV, cable and, of course, shops. YouTube is very popular for people who don't want to pay for stuff but that,again, is a different thing. But if you've got very few people paying nothing it's not a great market.
Though the aficionados would beg to differ (and the zealots and marketing people always do), the indie sector does not appear to be popular and some claiming to represent that sector appear to be trying to extort money from Google without any real merit. Even the EU will see through this one.
It's all much more human than this
The people responsible for running YouTube have been given financial targets, not worthy ones. As a result, they are just doing the rational human thing and following the incentive plan. The question is, why has the Google board required such short-term thinking? My guess is that YouTube is not earning enough and to garner more ad revenue (and so survive) it's focusing on the content that will help revenues.
The equally big question is why are indie label manager so inept? Is stomping off complaining about poor treatment by YouTube the only response? Surely in 2014 with cloud resources just a click away, they can band together to create a streaming service of their own, market it through Facebook and generate their own ad revenue. Unless of course, most of it's crap and there really is no market for this 'indie' music.
In global economy it is ludicrous for Smith to say a) the only way is for the US to stop spying; or b) governments should respect each other. Commercial companies have alternatives but its not as good for the US tax authorities.
Instead of Microsoft, Google and Amazon being US 'cloud' companies all over the world, they can facilitate the creation of local or maybe regional champions. Invest in them at an arm's length and encourage major local investors to participate. Then instead of owning the whole supply chain, some of which could be summarily chopped off, they own a significant portion of independent companies around the world but act like investors and advisers rather than owners. Of course such a strategy has its risks but, clearly, so does doing nothing.
This is not a new thing. It's pretty much how the world worked before mass communication allowed some to believe it is possible to control everything from a single location. In the days before mass communication is was necessary to involve locals and act at arms length because managing day-to-today operations from some distant land was not an option.
Earlier this week there was an article on Channel 4 (UK) in which Guru-Murthy interviewed some young woman who had been the recipient of an award for women in IT. The point of the article, of course, was gender inequality in Google. At no point did the article stop to examine other imbalances such as that 90% of nurses in UK NHS hospitals are women. Or that by 2017 60% of doctors will be women who almost exclusively will enter general practice not obstetrics, or geriatrics or general surgery.
Role on a day and there's an article on the BBC about young women creating 'tech' companies to promote beauty products. They were each (and there are many apparently) making shed loads of cash. Funny enough, there were no blokes selling these products. But that's alright.
So it seems to me that there are women starting 'tech' companies and making money but just not the way men do it. It seems to me, then, is that the complaint is that women are not acting like men. And why would they? Only from the politically correct feminist perspective is this this the problem. Is it not more reasonable that women may want to do different things to men? Or, at least, in a different way. And, if so, surely this is a good thing.
My wife has started two companies and neither is directly in technology. Both USE a lot of tech and one is even a web based company. But what she enjoys is communicating. She's happy picking up the phone for a chat or making time to go see someone for a coffee. Sitting down for hour after hour writing code (or books or poetry) is an anathema to her.
So maybe instead of lambasting companies for not employing more women to create yet more browser technology or a new web server or operating system we should be celebrating that they create different enterprises that satisfy the needs of niches that have not been served and which men may be unable to see let alone appreciate.
Oh, and one last thought. The biggest impediment to my wife starting a company was not me or even finance. It was that it may not look good in the eyes of some of her friends. In my experience the views of the friends of women are more important to them than are the views of friends to men.
What on earth do journalists have to do with this? If there's an issue of judgement, a complex story that requires a multi-faceted perspective, especially one that includes subjective input - the care of the elderly, tax on alcohol - I can see a reason to suppose there is an advantage of having a debate arbitrated by a seasoned, well rounded individual though why that individual should be a 'journalist' really is not clear to me.
But when it comes to a question like whether or not there will be adequate minerals available to meet our needs what does a journalist bring to the table? If there are divergent perspective on such a black-and-white topic they will be held by experts in the field who have credentials such as a related PhD or fellowship of a relevant chartered organization or hold a relevant position in an appropriate leading organization. They can tell us their perspective directly and, if appropriate, we can make up our minds. This does not need to be mediated, or worse interpreted, by some who read history at uni.
Now if it is the case that the world's supply of a irreplaceable mineral will end in a few years time then maybe then a journalist will have a role in explaining why that's happened and the policy decisions necessary to take any possible remedial action.
Can't understand why?
Robert Peston made a programme broadcast on the BBC at the end of last year about China - from an economics perspective. In it he revealed the secret of China's growth: unbelievably MASSIVE investment sponsored by the Chinese government as a response the the problems in 2008. I'm not an economist so I can't comment but in his programme he left viewers with no doubt that he believes and that most western economists believe, it is a level of investment that is both unsustainable and unaffordable. He showed the fruits of that investment by visiting and giving examples of many cities that have been rebuilt and massively enlarged with all modern trimmings. He traveled to those modern cities via modern trains, on modern tracks between state of the art stations where he could alight and board a modern underground system. Not just in one city in many.
It would not be surprising, then, if leading Chinese manufacturers did not benefit from some of that investment. It may be that the Chinese work hard, but it is equally likely that its just an effect of having so much money sloshing around. Peston asked the question: what happens when this level of investment has to stop? The answer for China and the rest of the world was a bit too difficult for him to dwell on much.
Or this report of British researchers who claim the Pine Island glacier has stopped moving.
Of course this report of British research is by Lewis Page so must be wrong while the bad news is by a researcher at those shining beacons NASA and UC Irvine so it must be correct.
Wake me up when the 'scientists' have agreed on what's happening. Not least because they will by then have a handle on predicting chaos and that would be the REAL result.
Most comment miss the point. That certain modes of transport have a monopoly creates a market distortion. In this case the consequence is that the licenced taxi cab business has no need to raise its game. As a result an upstart has found it can offer a service that is attractive. I'm guessing most posters on here are men who, for the most part, do not worry about being attacked or molested. But some will have daughters.
So is it not comforting that when your beloved daughter is going to get in a taxi - regardless of who operates it - she can let you and her friends see who it going to be providing her with the service, the route they are going to take and how long that journey will take, etc.. Seems like an excellent idea to me. It just a real pity the licenced taxi cab service did not offer this level of service years ago and that it takes a US company to make the investment to try to offer it. Then instead of embracing it - perhaps offering it as a premium service - they resort to industrial action.
If Uber were my idea the licenced business would be my first port of call so one can only imagine the businesses would have been contacted first. Presumably the licenced businesses said 'No', 'Non' and 'Nein'.
Re: as long as Amazon doesn’t bend to government pressure
I'm sure that's true. But AWS is not free so somebody, somewhere is funding this. Since they have enough cash to have one account, they probably have the cash to have a second and third all with copies of the content so the site can be switched from account to account as the need arises.
If I were them and this was my game, I'd have a copy on the Azure platform as well. Rackspace too.
You can eat surprisingly well on £1 a day. £1.50 and you have a feast. You just can't do it by buying fresh food to cook everyday. My meals (usually a lovely chicken Rogan Josh or Jalfrezi) cost about 60p but only because I cook a huge pot in one go and eat it in portions with a generous helping of rice. Unless you insist on some variety of rice which has been lovely tended by virgins and harvested under a full moon from Waitflower or The Cooperators, is dirt cheap. A substantial helping will cost less than 10p per meal and will easily ward off the hunger pangs. Potatoes are out because their weight means the transport costs make them expensive by comparison.
Not surprisingly, the protein is the single most expensive ingredient of my food. Iceland do a kilo of chicken breasts for about £4 and often do a 2-4-1. For me a kilo of chicken creates about 10 meals so that's 40p/meal. If I catch the 2-4-1 that's just 20p for the protein. A tin of chick peas, a couple of tins of tomatoes (the co-op do 4 tins of Italian chopped tomatoes for 70p) and an onion plus a jar of the curry paste and you can easily create a good, filling and tasty meal for 60p. That leaves 40p for some luxury items. Stay away from milk products because they are, bizarrely given the amount that's wasted, quite expensive.
If you are a labourer and into a brutal exercise regime then give it up if you want to eat for £1 day. If you are not, then there no need to eat three square meals a day and you can't burn the candles at both ends. We're conditioned to eat too much. Doctors blame sugary drinks or fast foods or tv meals for the impending obesity epidemic but I think we've just been told to eat too much of everything (including fruit). I eat one meal a day and have done so for over 10 years. I don't eat fruit except occasionally. I weigh 84kg and have done for 20 years so I'm not even eating into my fat reserves (which are more than adequate). Nor do I have rickets or some other disease from eating too little fruit and not enough vegetables.
Eating frugally while watching a supermarket ad for a lovely roast joint is a challenge so you have to learn to tune it out. I'm not recommending this to anyone (let alone everyone) but eating on a £1 a day is doable. However, it necessary to wean yourself off western eating habits and I suspect this is the hardest part. These habits seem to come less from our needs and more from the needs of Mr Kellogg, his friends Mr Proctor and Mr Gamble, their friends the Lever brothers and likes of their military friend General Mills. Plus a cadre of lazy assed health professionals who spout what we should eat (seven portions of fruit a day?) without any real evidence because the studies required would not be ethical.
Re: Not just a blow to Microsoft's attempts to assure non-US customers
It seems to me the solution is logically simple, if not politically so. The solution is for jurisdictions like the EU (or China or India or Australia, etc.) to only allow a company to claim they store data within that jurisdiction if they are able to do so legally. That is, they can demonstrate there is no tie to another jurisdiction which might make it possible for the company to be required to let an extra-judicial authority access the data. Then a Microsoft could store data in, say, Ireland but could not make claims about limits of access.
But maybe we in the EU have only ourselves to blame. Why is it that we use services offered by Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. and not those of an EU supplier? One reason is cost. Most services offered by EU vendors are substantially more expensive.
Re: Not just a blow to Microsoft's attempts to assure non-US customers
@bazza Assuming that an Exchange clone is not a requirement and that some other mail server (Exim, Postfix, etc) will do, then this has been possible for years. The technical burden of maintaining a Linux system notwithstanding, the reason this approach is not main stream is that it assumes your connection is always on. Now I use Virgin Media at home and before that BT Home. I can assure you that they are not always on. Therefore it is necessary to have an SMTP endpoint outside your house at which point you are back to square one. And with a maintenance headache.
Bet this one gets booted out
Imagine you are an exec in a company in Silicon Valley competing to get good people to join your company. You know the local pool of talent is restricted. Regardless of the salary, there are just not enough good people. So you decide the better approach is to work harder recruiting people from other locations. Over lunch with fellow execs you talk about your plan to cast the search net wider and they agree its a good idea.
This reasonable action, indeed responsible action from a stockholders perspective will have the effect of controlling salaries and reducing the number of times employees of other companies are induced to change employment.
Given that every manager, since they were a junior, will have been lectured by HR about the legal landscape around employment (I can't imagine every employers HR department lectured only me) suggests that it's unlikely that any senior managers have been playing fast and loose with employment legislation. And these execs at major corporations have to check with their in-house council whether its OK to breathe.
Of course it can
"a US-based outfit known to operate at least three imaging satellites and which last year boasted it can, on request, photograph anywhere on Earth every 12 hours"
Anyone able to put a smart phone camera in space will be able to claim the same thing: click, wait 6 hours, click, wait 6 hours, click, wait 6 hours, click. There, done and in only 18 hours. OK, you will not be able to *see* much in those images but the claim is honored. Now the real question is: at what resolution can those images be taken?
Why can't we have access to all the content? Why only 7 or 30 days? We paid for the stuff why can't we have access to it? Such a crap organization. Of course the BBC doesn't want to give us what we want. It wants to find ways to charge us for that which we've already paid for so they can keep growing the hideously sprawling enterprise.
Much better that it's back catalogue is split from the broadcast portion so we can get access to it while the broadcast portion is whittled back to a PBS rump.
Of course there will be screaming about how difficult it is to provide access, its not digitized, etc. Seems easy enough for YouTube which is able to host ancient videos (many from the BBC) from broadcasters and content holders around the world, not just Blighty and make that content available to people all over the world.
I can accept the BBC is not up to it. Such a crap organization (have I said that already?). But that doesn't mean there are no organizations which are up to it (none of them British though), Let's change the BBC to something fit for the 21st century, something which is much, much smaller.
What!? "CO2 absorbs more heat than any other gas therefore ALL the global warming is down to CO2"
How about Methane and Water vapor. Both are much more potent. But don't let facts get in the way of a good story.
#1 The suit is in California. Any friends of Microsoft live in California? Any enemies of Microsoft live in California. Ah... So the suit is frivolous and there to generate adverse column inches
#2 Is Blackberry likely to be offering their technology at a discount at the moment? Mmm.
Seems like a post justification exercise. The story is that something from Microsoft is so defective that it alone has caused a rating slump. Now the clue is in the name MicroSOFT. That's 'soft' for 'software', you know, the thing you can change so the UI is what you want it to be.
Sounds to me like Ford have f**ked up royally and want to reduce costs because those nasty people in Redmond will not negotiate to a price Ford wants to pay. But rather than taking the blame for their own incompetence, Ford management has decided to shout loudly "It not me, its them, its them".
Re: Doing the Warmist shuffle
"...you guys try to focus only on recent variability rather than long-term trends..."
Oh, come on. Like this is a one-sided fault. I lost count of the number of GreenPeace activists here in the UK popping up on news programmes to point out that the deluge is a result of man-made global warming. And really, your whole article is an attempt to imply that the recent weather is a result of man-made global warming.
It may be surprising to US readers but it has been unseaonably warm in the UK. Given is mid-February (normally the coldest month) yesterday I was out in the garden in a T-shirt, even having to cut the grass. But the cause of the change in weather is not global warming. The severely cold weather in the US means the the Atlantic winds have been push slightly further south by the cold air mass over the US which means they are warmer bringing warm moist air to the UK. They then tend to push north over the UK later keeping the cold air from the continent away from most of the UK.
What we are seeing is a random redistribution of heat energy. Sh*t happens. It seems to me likely that a system designed for collecting temperature information based on what might be regarded as 'normal' weather patterns will not necessarily be ideal for reliably collecting temperature information in abnormal conditions. Much as happens with the first GDP figures, my guess is that there will be a correction later on which puts the temperature guesstimate back in its box.
Re: Caveat emptor
I, too, have just reviewed the press releases and slides. In my view any claim that these indicate Autonomy was shopping itself to Oracle are unfounded. The slides show lots of financial information, client lists, publicly available trading statistics, etc but if you've never been on the receiving end of a product sales pitch you will recognize this type of content. Almost every pitch to sell high end anything includes this stuff. Moreover, why would a company pitch itself at $6bn on the basis of these financials?
My take (which is worth the cost of these bytes) is that Lynch did not try to sell itself to Oracle regardless of Hurd's interpretation of the meeting. He and Quattrone may have talked about their valuation of the company but, hey, everyone has inflated ideas of the value of their possessions, right? And if they think they have gem, why not flaunt it? If they approach Oracle with the intention of being first tier partner would the slides look any different? I suspect not.
However, maybe, just maybe, this meeting with Hurd could be interpreted by HP staff as interest by Oracle in Autonomy. If so, and if I were in that position, I'm not sure I'd be in a hurry to pour cold water on it.
Absolutely, eliminate the tax
The BBC is a massive market distortion which is kept alive by the licence tax. It inhibits competition in this market. It delayed adoption of digital technologies back in the mid 1990's.
I read someone here complaining that it would just be more cooking programmes. So Come Dancing is cultural education? It produces truly miserable programmes like Holby City, Casualty and Eastenders. Really, does the country need to be made depressed at it's own expense? These programmes would not be made by a commercial companies because there would not be a market for them. Do they sell abroad competing with programmes set in places with faultless weather? Not a hope except to that small set of places with a local community of ex-pats nostalgic for a cloud over their heads.
Of course the BBC does produce some good programmes. With the resources it has at it's disposal at least some of it's programmes have to be OK in the same way the a broken analogue clock shows the right time twice a day. There are so many examples. Comedy is one. Why would any other station attempt to put on comedy shows when the BBC stamps all over the market inflating costs. Mock the Week and Have I got New for You are funny. Live at the Apollo is funny too. But they block out many aspiring comedians and shows. The result is the same few people on our screens telling jokes and in the same style. Perhaps the only other example if 8 out of 10 Cats but that's shown on BBC-lite, Channel 4. Oh, and pretty much the same cast of characters. By the way, does anyone else but me think Stephen Fry is over exposed?
Do we need 4 BBC TV channels and CBeebies and 6 radio channels plus the countless regional channels? Does the BBC need reporters everywhere? Very often the BBC lunch time news is on when I have lunch and I'm dismayed at how many time the 'news' is regurgitated stories form Yahoo! or some other site.
It's probably due cost cutting so the staff can continue to receive their benefits. How much did staff get paid over their contractual limit when fired? How much was the BBC paying 'celebrities'? I'm happy to go on and on but you get the message. The BBC is a massive and legally mandated market distortion.
Back in Reith's day it was necessary to build new infrastructure for the BBC - transmitters all over the empire, support companies creating radio and TV sets, devise standards, build studios - a massive project and expensive. So there was the choice of funding the generation of a whole industry and the nascent BBC out of general taxation or a hypothecated tax and a special tax was chosen.
However that time has passed. market is mature, the studios built and the standards used are set by bodies outside the UK. It's time the BBC were cut free. Those who want the BBC can, like Sky or Virgin Media users, buy subscriptions.
Surely this ruling has pretty significant ramifications
A marketeer calls your company looking to speak to the person responsible for buying XYZ product and the receptionist gives the caller the name of the person to speak with (an probably a contact number). Under this ruling, the receptionist would appear to have given what this appeals court considers personal information. Is the company then liable in the case of an action taken by the employee whose name has been disclosed?
As a business owner you call up your bank and ask to speak to your personal banker whom you have never met so don't recall the person's name and ask to be reminded. According to this ruling, that would appear to be personal information disclosed to you by the bank. Is the bank liable to the person whose name is being disclosed?
You call your Doctor's surgery to book an appointment and you are given a time and ask which doctor will see you. Is the practice liable for disclosing the name of the Doctor?
These scenarios seem very similar to the disclosure requested of the FSA. The obvious difference being that in the case of the FSA it does not want it's employees being harassed by a person who seems to have a grievance. But this difference does not seem to have influenced the judgement so I have to conclude that the ruling, in effect, makes it illegal for a company to disclose the name of any member of its staff even though it is (usually) a requirement that it does so if it is to continue to function.
Re: "slaughter house"
@AC What? So governments are appropriate vehicles for optimum employment of capital? So IBM should just pay tax so one government or another is able to squander it?
Of course IBM are doing the right thing *for the majority of their workforce*. If IBM retained individuals working on projects that no one wants (judged on the basis that no one is buying the kit at a price IBM can afford even using lower cost labor from India) then it will jeopardize the employment of other company employees.
Is that what you are advocating? In Britain we've seen the consequence of this kind of thinking. Before WWII Britain was leading shipbuilder and using rivets to bind steel plates. During the war the necessity of producing merchant ships quickly to replace those lost at sea lead to the introduction of welding the plates together.
After the war British shipyards did not change their working practices and, guess what, buyers wanted the cheaper welded ships. So instead of adapting to change British shipyard started threatening to layoff workers which successive governments continued to support through unsustainably large amounts of tax payer's money in a futile attempt to keep the industry afloat (pun).
So instead of taking the tough decision to confront the issue, retrain workers (in the teeth of union opposition) and be competitive, The British government squandered £billions.
In my view this one example shows why a) IBM has to adapt; and why b) governments are not organizations that should be given cash unless absolutely unavoidable according to law.
I like Freeview. Why can't I get it on my laptop? TVCatchup used to deliver a version of Freeview but after losing their court case last year now it only redirects to the site of the channel. And usually the content that is being broadcast free over the airwaves is not available on the channel's site. Not the BBC of course but ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 (or their spin-offs) do not appear to show the content being aired on Freeview. Why is that? Have I missed something? I don't want catch up, I've no interest in recording anything (miss a programme on Freeview? just wait an hour and you'll see it again and again and again...).
This was a sales guy
Like all those involved in 'OEM' it's a sales role. So Kempin's ultimate boss was Ballmer who was, allegedly, fond of shouting and throwing furniture. So anyone not in that mold is going to look soft to those who accept Ballmer's way is appropriate.
The board, probably unhappy with both the management style and the results, I feel are likely to have been looking for a less acerbic more consensual leader. Ovine qualities allowed him to rise to lead a $20bn business so who's to say they will not serve him well in the hot seat?
Google maps shows the distance between BT Tower and Adastral Park is 88miles (150Km). So saying the cable went between these two points is like saying the London Marathon is from Blackheath to The Mall.
Was this cable used by anything else? It is normally used or is it a special research cable? Where does the cable go? Does it tour around Cambridgeshire first? It could visit Sheffield en route and still have some slack.
Jack, Jack, Jack
You're at it yet again. Third time this week. You can't lay this accusation at Amazon's door without also attacking just about every corporation on the plant. The source material for your claims are probably disgruntled former employees with an axe to grind. Perhaps individuals who wanted to attend a favored conference but one the company would not pay for them to attend.
Most if not all corporations use some open source. Maybe banks which have strengthened the Linux kernel to meet their statutory obligations should contribute that code and let hackers see *exactly* how they should attack your saving account?
In my view the premise of the article is even more ridiculous than most of your articles for El Reg. You should just give it up. However, the implication of your articles seem to me to be that you know how to run an on-line retailer better than the existing management. You should put forward your resume to see how that works out.
"What we are yet to see is good economic research into what is causing a cyber-skills shortage and what interventions will make a difference"
It's yet to be seen because it's unnecessary. The answer is the elephant in the room: MONEY.
People flock to banking because there is the potential of lots and lots of money. There are always lads (and it's usually lads) who will do great things at no cost just because they can. But building a framework around this eccentric behavior is not rational. Like most people, the candidates sought want to know there is a good salary and excellent career prospects on offer. As I recall, the "opportunity" was to work with GCHQ at a salary a janitor would be embarrassed to talk about. So when I write "good salary" I don't mean good government salary. I mean a salary competitive with a profession like medicine, accounting, banking.
The solution is simple: make working in cyber-security an economically attractive option with long term prospects. At the moment it's not perceived that way. Until it is, cyber-security skills will be lacking and those lads who do great stuff for laughs will be the ones breaking in. And they are the ones that don't work in a team - that is unless its got a moniker like Lulzsec or Anonymous.
Give a person a fish...
It's interesting that most commenters think this is a sound way forward. $20,000 in electricity? What on earth are they thinking? @andro's description beggars belief. If someone still needs ancient VAX support, let them pay for it.
But why are these guy hosting all the kit themselves? I'm sure there are many organizations that would find a home for some of the kit as they will have spare capacity and/or not notice the difference. If its an old bit of IBM kit, IBM would probably host it, DEC talk to HP. After all, these are the sort of companies that benefit.
But I'll bet some grumpy old fart doesn't want to let go of some old gear she or he has been curating for years. Donations don't seem like a sustainable approach. How about sponsorship? Convert all that inaccessible geek machinery into a museum of functioning kit so sponsors can display their name alongside illustrious names from the past while entertaining and educating the public.
This is a time to give someone angling lessons. Handouts are a poor way to sustain a project if it's thought to be important.
Too much to resist, eh?
Jack, Jack, Jack. Too much for you to resist, eh? Another lovely opportunity to try and stick the knife in Bezos et al.? And after your little dig yesterday or your regular posts about how Amazon keep spending their profits expanding their infrastructure instead of reporting them and paying corporation tax.
What's the problem? Did Bezos lay you off? Do you work a competitor?
Blaming Amazon for the behavior of their users is like blaming a motorway/interstate for car/automobile accidents. Why not focus your energies and any investigative abilities on the people who use Amazon services to commit the crime. My guess is that it's just much easier to convey some second-hand report.
And I agree with @theodore that attacks, emails and probes from IP addresses assigned to Amazon are not my biggest headache. But, hey, it confirms your apparent bias so does another perspective really matter?
Come on Jack, prove me wrong. Find something genuinely nice to say about Amazon.
Re: Free Usage Tier ... BE WARE!
Unless you sign up again using a different email address and credit card.
The premise of the argument is wrong
The author asserts that we are giving up something of value and that we should charge but micro-payments are not feasible. But are being paid. We use search engines for free.
Yes, it doesn't cost much for Google or Facebook or Bing or Yahoo! or... to serve up a page of result in response to a query or process an email. But it does cost something. That something is the micro-payment. It's the quid pro quo for the exchanging personal information for a search result.
An alternative is that individuals pay for searches so that they are not required to give up their data. However there seems to be no appetite among regular people for a subscription model. People like this author and many of the commentards here rail against intrusion but the average Joe and Joanna doesn't seem to mind so much. I'm sure the author will argue that's just ignorance. But really most people don't have much to hide.
In the UK you can watch advert subsidized TV or pay your TV license fee and watch the BBC advert free. There is no TV service which offers a free advert free service. And of course not, it costs to produce TV 24/7 and that money has to come from somewhere. It's the same with the internet.
Re: Young whippersnappers
I'm even more cynical. Of course there is a benefit in a diversity of views and someone with a fresh perspective may see an opportunity to exploit or a risk to avoid that insiders cannot see. But that is likely to be true of outsiders of almost any age group. It's one reason we engage the services of consultants.
However the perspective seems to me to be self-serving. The author is really saying "I want to sell you some people" and good old FUD will do it. There is no magic bullet. Just a set of pros and cons to balance and I'll take the position that the younger people do not necessarily have the experience to perform the balancing act as well as someone with a bit more experience.
And those olds probably have kids who are into one social media fad after another, who want one brand of smartphone this year and another next year, who want to try an app a day. As a consequence, olds with teenage children may well be *better* able to assess the possible benefits that new channels and technologies can offer just because they experience so much of it without having to get in to the details of owning and using every single option. It's like having a free (if ill disciplined) social media research department at home. I know in 2011 I used to communicate with my kids using Skype, last year Facebook and this year WhatsApp seems to be the popuplar option. Of course, throughout, and despite the strenuous efforts of Silicon Valley moguls, good old email has been an ever present constant.
By contrast, the 22-year old graduate with not so much free time and a group of like minded friends may find themselves stuck using one form of technology.
We get what we deserve. The concept of innovation may be alive and kicking in our universities but not in our investors. Think Dragon's Den and then scale up. In Dragon's Den you have a collection of people, allegedly 'investors' who, so far as I can tell, want to screw the poor sods who turn up. There's no sense of engaging with inventors unless the investor can get be guaranteed unreasonable returns. That's not investing but it does look like the style of 'investing' that occurs in the UK.
It's not surprising. In a country that needs a 'nesta' there is no support of innovation by investors unless the investors money is guaranteed by the state. In the US there is DARPA. But it supports truly futuristic ideas such as self-driving cars and supports it's projects over the long haul will $billions.
But it's not a new problem. Think of the computer. Invented here then labelled 'top secret' handing the market to the US. Or the jet engine. Initially met with skepticism eventually it was embraced by...the state in the form of BOAC which rapidly pulled out when Comets started falling like their namesakes. Instead others learned from the BOAC experience and took the market. UK 'investors' were no where near. Then there's the 'rescue' of car industry by Moulton and friends. The failure to commercialize the encryption used by the UK spy agencies which was 're-invented' in the US by three researchers with the initials RSA and given the name 'public key cryptography' which is now the way all web encryption works.
The list goes on. The bottom line is that UK investors do not. Not unless their return is guaranteed. And that's not investing.
Do standards work?
Not really. Sure if two parties agree then *technically* they can. But it's not really about standards except to a techie. SIP and RTP have been around for ages and there have been lots of hardware and software components created to use them. And yet Skype comes along and users love it, not the stuff built on the open standards. So why is that?
Almost uniformly because the products based on SIP are crap. And it's easy to understand why. You put some effort into creating a software component which implements SIP that shines. Someone else comes along with a less good good but plausible implementation but which takes away market share. Then every Tom, Dick and Harriet does the same so that eventually you have a market flooded with poor quality components. The good ones die because it takes effort to implement standards well in software and effort means more expense which if not supported by a market mean death to the product.
In my opinion the likes of Avaya and Cisco play the same game. They provide plausible but inferior tools. They are just good enough to keep customers from looking at 3rd party products and come with promises of support. Microsoft appears to have done something similar with Lynx. Sure it supports SIP but as I understand it, unlike all other implementation which are based on stateless UDP, Microsoft's is based on stateful TCP so incompatible.
The effect of all this is to drive the quality of products based on standards down. So it's not a surprise that end-users choose a tool which uses proprietary protocols (which they don't care about) but one that works and has support options. Apple didn't gain market share because it's open and innovated with hardware, it gained market share because it's closed and offers support options that mean something to users.
This market is not the only one suffering from this issue over standards. Sure you could use the standard compliant Netscape or you could use the well supported browser that came with Windows. And we know how that worked out. Or, you could download a browser based POP3 client that you run on your own server or you could choose to use Hotmail or Gmail. Users made their choices in their millions.
Standards are great, but if there's no way to monetize them they will not be used or will be subverted. After all, everyone needs to eat, even the software developers using open standards.
Only people who want a free ride on the back of the efforts of others are enthusiastic about standard because it's potentially cheap for them. It is a disaster for the individuals on whom that
self-serving Utopian vision depends.
I think this is to miss the point. Stealing is stealing whether civil or criminal. However the offence here seems to be the creation of code to facilitate access to copyright material by others. That is like prosecuting Yale for permitting locksmiths in the high street to create keys that could open any door.
Re: Exclusive rights
Or all those locksmiths in the high street selling products that could fashion a device to unlock a door.
This one *has* to be appealed.
Shouldn't be allowed
This is not a feature in my opinion, it's a unjustified sales piece. Surely a feature would be about a topic and present reasonable comparatives. Of course then the article would not be worth it because Azure does not stack up.
Amazon (the retail business) has first mover advantage in this space. But beyond that, it's advantage is that it's a business built on the need to have lots of highly resilient, customer facing systems. If it does not, it doesn't have a business. Microsoft does not face that issue.
Whether you like cloud computing or not, whether you like Amazon or not, at it's core the needs of AWS business is similar to the needs of its main business. AWS has the advantage of being able to take an idea and and both research the idea and, later, test it in house where it will run the gauntlet of people who live and breath the problem not for AWS but for Amazon the retailer.
Microsoft is not like this and any ideas it has cannot be tested in-house. So it plays a constant game of catch-up but not very well.
Re: @ Alain If they allow copyright on APIs ...
I agree with HollyHopDrive. The API analogy is the 'Book'. It has methods (APIs) of
'Write(int pageNumber, int chapter, string title, string content)'
'Read()' might return an object called 'Chapter' with properties like 'Title' and 'Content'.
An API is not a finished book, it is the means to create a book and is not is copyrightable. The specific number of chapters, their titles and the chapter content of a specific book instance are open to copyright.
This distinction between the abstract concept of an API and a physical instance of an object seems to be lost on legal types in much the same way as the rationale for legalese is lost on non-legal types. But that doesn't mean the rationale for legalese is irrelevant.
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