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* Posts by Alan Mellor

4 posts • joined 9 Oct 2006

Leeds council cuts contractor rates

Alan Mellor

Right to minimum wage

No, contractors as owner-managed businesses don't have a right to anything, let alone minimum wage. Same deal as a corner shopkeeper. You can only take out of the business whatever profit is left over after you deduct operational expenses. There is no one else to fund a 'minimum wage'. If you are not able to attract and retain paying customers, you are entitled to not eat and fall behind on your mortgage. Or get a 'proper job'. Or do something else that you can succeed at. Conversely, in the boom times, you are entitled to take large chunks of money out of that business. That's the inherent risk of any business venture.

The other posters are right. Because contracting is a form of running an owner-managed business, you compete in a free market. You cannot escape that fact. In some climates, you actively take advantage of that, when supply/demand is more in favour of the supplier. That would not be right now.

It is actually technically incorrect to say 'The customer has imposed a ten percent pay cut' because

1. It is not 'pay' like wages, it is the payment of a Time and Materials format invoice for services by the contracting company, the same kind as is put in by the cleaning company and the vending machine maintenance company. So a 'pay cut' cannot happen, the council have no idea what the contracting company pays its operatives, they only know their contribution is to its turnover.

2. Similarly, they cannot 'impose' as they have no power to do so. What they can - and rightly have done - is say 'as customers, we are no longer prepared to buy services for X pounds, we will shop around and go with cheaper alternative suppliers'. As other posters correctly say, welcome to free market business. The value of your offering goes down as well as up. The idea of 'pay cut' is better expressed as the contracting company volunteering, albeit reluctantly, a discount to its customer in a bid to retain custom in a tough market. This is no different to any other seller of anything, be it cars, fruit and veg, hifi or what have you. The company can always choose to NOT offer such a discount if they so choose. This would depend on how valued that customer is to them.

Eventually, your offering value falls to zero, as whatever offering you provide no longer meets any business needs. For IT contractors in particular, this equates to outdated skill sets - or just being a grumpy old beggar who is a pain to have around.

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Baptist church in assault rifle giveaway

Alan Mellor
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Sorry, couldn't see the IT / Paris Hilton angle for all the religion bashing

This might be (non-IT or Paris) news in the UK, where it is illegal to own a firearm without a licence, and where such a licence would be tricky (impossible? dunno - never tried) to get if you're a teenager. But in the US, where IIRC it is everyone's right to bear arms (is that right?) then I can't see what you've got here. In a country where owning a gun raises no more of a legal eyebrow than owning a chocolate bar, I don't see why giving one away as a prize is newsworthy. Maybe a little ill-advised in some respects, but that certainly wasn't the tone of your article.

I note that the organisation doing the giving was religious. Your writing shows that you view these people as a group clearly different to you, that you do not appear to like nor respect them, and that you evidently feel rather superior to them.

Maybe I am the only one here who thinks this, but I think Register articles would be improved significantly by not mixing Bytes with Bigotry.

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Billy Bragg: Why should songwriters starve so others get rich?

Alan Mellor

Free stuff is nice, yes - but not if the seller isn't giving it away

> You "steal" online music, its a copy; period. You are still left with the original item, you are still able to do something with it.

The one thing I am no longer able to do is to sell it to you. You have reduced my potential market by one, an odd thing to do given you seemed to like the song enough to download it.

It's not about physical copies, it's about business opportunity cost.

If you're a MySpace wannabee, then having your music heard for free won't affect you, because you'll still have your day job to allow you to enjoy your hobby.

But if the only way that you and your family get fed is by the money you make from selling your music, then this opportunity cost means that (a) You get to dance naked in the shower whistling along out of tune to a song you like but never created (b) the artist gets to sit hungry in a cold, damp house for another hour/day/week. Or thereabouts. Like everyone else, they need money to live.

You list a number of analogies, which all describe a different situation.

It's about fair exchange. How about if you like the music, you buy some beer and takeaways, then bring them round the artists house to feed his/her family, without charging him/her? Or paint their house? Or fill their car up with a tankful of petrol?

I can see how that would be a swap, not theft. Otherwise, I cant see why taking an artists product without paying is not theft.

I'm with the artists on this one; my day job is to write computer code, where a similar thing applies. Nice to give it away if you want to. But it's my right to decide whether I give it away, or whether I charge. And your right to decide if its worth buying.

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C++ Generic Coding vs. Java Frameworks

Alan Mellor

Tricky to make it quite as useable

One nice Java feature that helps out framework users is reflection, whereby Java code can find out the names and types of methods and fields in a class. As a framework user, this enables a variety of 'automagic' things to be done, without the need for manual configuration.

C++ doesn't have this feature. This tends to make the usage patterns of frameworks like Hibernate in C++ that little bit more tedious.

But it sure would be nice to get even a reasonable open source Object/Relational mapper in standard C++ ...

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