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* Posts by J P

94 posts • joined 19 Aug 2010

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Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?

J P

Re: Does it have to be every 365 days?

Presumably you mean "last statement +360", not "every 360 days", given that the underlying information relates to periods of 365/366 days? But yes, simply aligning the annual statements with whichever month they get produced in would appear to make sense *to anyone outside the post room* ; as previously noted, sending them before the statutory due date shouldn't be an issue.

But large organisation mailing processes have to be seen to be believed; one of the UK's largest has a mail room 1 mile long. They have to stagger mass mailings, as Royal Mail don't have enough trucks to load all their envelopes in one go. And one day we suggested to them sending a particular notification out by manually processed recorded delivery - they don't do many of this particular item, and it was causing significant issues for the (non)recipient if it went astray. They looked at us as though someone had suggested inserting a live stoat into every envelope before despatch, and the item was minuted "for further consideration".

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'Please don't make me spend more time with my family...'

J P

Best in class: We've redefined the class to include us and people doing worse than us

Market leading: We're not going to say where to though

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UK.gov: NO MORE tech deals bigger than £100m. Unless we feel like it

J P
Black Helicopters

GCHQ's new spy tech won't go through the books as a tech deal though; it'll be badged as a new underground swimming pool for No 10.

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Bloke hews plywood Raspberry Pi tablet

J P

Re: We did question his use of plywood

A friend who builds rollcages for competition cars recently had to contact the MSA to check how to proceed when installing a rollover hoop to a vintage car with 19mm ply floor - standard MSA regs call for welding the cage to the floor. The MSA confirmed that all you have to do is bolt the plates in rather than weld them; the wooden floor is actually stiffer & more resilient than the pressed steel in moderns.

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It's not gold in the frozen hills of Antarctica, my boy, it's DIAMONDS

J P
Windows

Re: Good time to invest...

"At the same time they invented a new colour 'diamond white' which was associated with only the highest value diamonds."

I have heard of 'Diamond White", but not quite in that context.

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MPs blast 'alarmingly weak' management of one-dole-to-rule-them-all

J P

One thing the PAC haven't factored into the overall cost is the fact that HMRC had to rush their RTI implementation in order to meet the DWP's (now discredited) timetable. That in turn had knock on effects for every single employer in the country, not to mention payroll bureaux. And of course because HMRC had to rush something they'd been wanting to do for ages, it isn't as good as it should have been, but we're stuck with it now. So there's another cost to taxpayer and business of the botched UC project.

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Bacteria-chomping phages could kill off HOSPITAL SUPERBUGS

J P

So that's who bought the tech then...

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/1287589

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Do you trust your waiter? Hacked bank-card reader TEXTS your info to crims

J P

Electronic POS kit seems to be one big playground for the crims at the moment - use cash & they'll hide the takings from the tax man ( see http://www.oecd.org/ctp/crime/ElectronicSalesSuppression.pdf ) Use a card and they'll just rip the cash direct from your account - and the OECD report suggests that there'll be no shortage of willing recruits in eg the restaurant trade to give themselves a 'heads we win, tails you lose' attitude towards choice of payment method as well. Monday afternoon, and already I'm depressed and cynical about the nature of the world we live in. Thanks guys...

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iPhone 5S: Fanbois, your prints are safe from the NSA, claim infosec bods

J P
Pint

@ chr0m4t1c

I'm sure you're right about the hardware/data motivation for thefts - outside of Hollywood, I can't really see thefts being based on the contents of the phone; it's going to be the resale value of an unlocked handset that motivates the average junkie. So if the means of unlocking changes, the pattern/method of thefts may change.

The worry of course is how they go about unlocking the handset, and that's what got me thinking. It may be that the gummi-bear solution works, but if that's the case then (as other commenters have pointed out) the NSA is going to be the least of any fanbois' worries once the shell of the phone is covered in their prints. However things turn out, the 5s is bound to sell at a premium, and that will in turn enhance the incentives to get hold of a saleable example, by hook or by crook.

Thanks also for taking the time to check on the Mercs story; glad to know I was only vaguely divorced from reality in my memories; I hadn't realised it was as long as 8 years ago... I'm slightly less thankful for you reminding me just how old I am :-)

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J P

Re: Boring

Bricklayers often have problems with fingerprint recognition too - so no point them queuing up for the new iShiny then.

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J P

So does this mean muggers will now have a second use for the bolt-croppers they use on bike locks - taking the finger along with the phone? (Presumably there's scope to change the print that the phone recognises, so you wouldn't have to actually sell it with the original owner's digit once you'd reset the authentication)

IIRC there were some unpleasant incidents in Hong Kong when Mercedes brought out a fingerprint authenticated car, so while I'd hope things wouldn't go that far just for a phone, it does raise fears for how lowlifes might try to get around the tech...

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Smartwatch news: Sleek-but-vaporous timepiece promised by... NISSAN?

J P
Coffee/keyboard

Re: This is awesome!

"impromptu motorway sculpture"

Well thank you so much; now I'm going to have to dig a spare keyboard out of the cupboard.

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J P
Coat

Hmm - this comes out on Monday morning... I think I know what they spent Friday afternoon doing after they got back from the pub.

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Universal Credit CRUNCHED: Dole handouts IT system to be rebuilt

J P
Unhappy

Dammit. I had _second_ week in September in the office sweepstake on the date they admitted it wasn't going to work.

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NSA gets burned by a sysadmin, decides to burn 90% of its sysadmins

J P
Big Brother

"There were no mistakes like that at all."

The mistakes we made were in employing humans to do the work. We shan't be doing that again.

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Tax dodging? It's harder to do - and rarer - than you think

J P

Re: 100% tax

Read Dickens on profit - "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." Bring that back in spades for the business making a loss if you tax all income/turnover at a fixed percentage, instead of acknowledging that they don't even have enough cash to pay their own employees, let alone other peoples.

Not even gonna go there on the arguments about sector specific rates based on average profit margins; VATs used in the flat rate scheme (nearest current proxy) range from 4% to 14.5% [see http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/schemes/flat-rate.htm#5 ] Administering that sort of thing as the sole form of business taxation in a way that doesn't drive small business to the wall (no economies of scale) and encourage all big business into high margin sectors would be just as complex as the current system, with all the joys of the transition into the bargain.

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J P

Re: Permit me to take a stab at it...

It's a good stab, and I think you've badly injured the concepts...

But seriously: - what you're proposing is a hybrid wealth/income tax. Immediate reactions:

- How do you value private/non-traded shares?

- How do you 'value' dividends (paid or declared? Before or after WHT/imputation impacts?)

- The 'presence' section looks like, and would face the same issues as, 'conventional' formulary apportionment

- Targeting shares/divis is a good way to go for non-distortionary revenue raising (google 'taxing the maximand') but denies you the behavioural regulatory function of tax, ie R&D tax breaks etc. Policy makers do seem rather wedded to that side of things, at least in common law jurisdictions.

Overall - I'm not sure it's feasible starting from where we are as a *replacement* for existing CT, but it would be an interesting complement to it, perhaps phasing in more and more as it beds in and improves in operation?

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J P
Boffin

Debt v Equity & hybrid instruments

Generally a good overview - but the point about interest recipients being taxable, potentially leading to higher overall taxation is a touch disingenuous.

Interest income may be taxable but returns on equity typically aren't - and a loan note which converts to shares if not redeemed after a fixed period may well be a debt in the hands of the 'return payer', but equity in the hands of the 'return recipient'. So clever structuring can exploit the differentials in accounting treatment to reduce taxes (although scope for it is shrinking; the typical DCLNs which were so popular a few years back no longer work in the UK for example). Goodness only know how you'd handle the impact of that kind of thing on the group accounts underpinning the formulary apportionment beloved of unitary taxation advocates, but so far they haven't even explained how they'd make capital allowances work.

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Boffins, Tunnel Tigers and Scotland's world-first power mountain

J P
Thumb Up

A useful and nicely written piece - gives me another reason to try to arrange a family holiday in Scotland

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Now you can be the NSA: Snoop on a Google Glass hipster with a QR code

J P

Life imitates art - anyone else ever read Snow Crash..?

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BAN UK tax breaks on patented tech, fumes German finance minister

J P

http://www.accountancyage.com/aa/blog-post/2281392/colin-uk-tax-rules-patently-unfair-say-germans

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Jokes of no more than 2 lines

J P

What's the loudest noise in the jungle?

A giraffe eating cherries

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J P

Why do monkeys paint their testicles red?

So they can hide up cherry trees.

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J P

What's green, whistles and turns red at the touch of a button?

A frog in a liquidiser, pretending it doesn't care.

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J P

What's green and turns red at the touch of a button?

A frog in a liquidiser.

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Police 'stumped' by car thefts using electronic skeleton key

J P
Coat

AC out of habit @AC 01:56 GMT

So at least now we know you're a nun...

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My bleak tech reality: You can't trust anyone or anything, anymore

J P

Re: Biometrics?

Biometrics are fine until someone manages to replicate your verification data. I'm reasonably good at thinking up new passwords; I'm less good on replacement eyeballs.

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The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex

J P
Coat

Re: Waiting for Eadon

Of course there weren't any Windows; it's a concrete bunker 100' underground. And anyway, they'd have had to have been whitewashed, wouldn't they?

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Russian geologist claims finding chunks of Tunguska Event invader

J P
Pint

Re: Surely...

Simon - I was going to upvote you again, but it's on 42 which seems far too appropriate to disturb... please consider this an upvote in principle

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Google 'will be pulled back in front of MPs' on its UK tax affairs

J P
WTF?

One may well ask why, if Google is underpaying tax, PAC is asking about it*, rather than passing it onto the Treasury Select Committee, or maybe even HMRC..? Well worth reading: http://bit.ly/14TeTcg from @BenSaundersCTA - the rational explanation for tax professionals' exasperation with PAC.

*The remit of the PAC here http://bit.ly/10Fv1NB Last time I looked, relevant bits were 148(1), 152(1),(2) and then 137A

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Gov.uk named THE BEST THING Britain has made all year

J P

@NomNomNom

I take your point if it was interest alone that was the issue - but if you're a 'higher rate' tax payer based on salary etc. then you only need £1.51 of interest per year to be breaking the law if you don't pay up the extra tax over the 20% withheld at source; the interest is taken as the top slice and taxed at the highest possible rate.

Since the threshold for paying tax at 40% is falling in absolute terms every year at the moment, more and more people are at risk, and you only need around £300-400 of savings/rainy day account to trigger the problem. I agree, you may not be on the breadline at £40k pa - but if you're the sole earner for a family of 4 in the South East, money is likely to be tight and the last thing you need is the aggravation of HMRC chasing you for undeclared income, especially if 'their own' website is telling you there was nothing more to pay...

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J P

Re: On a more serious note

It's been a recognised problem for some time that HMRC update their Manuals without necessarily telling you what they have changed or when - I've worked in places where it was standard practice to print out (with dates) anything you planned to rely on in advice or correspondence, and keep a copy on the file. [Said file then being sent via internal mail to a centralised scanning facility where it was converted back to a digital image for storage and subsequent retrieval]

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J P
FAIL

A triumph of form over function

Actually, you may be better off on the old sites. There are some pretty fundamental issues with the technical accuracy of quite a lot of the tax and benefits advice, which have given rise to a lot of comment by specialists in the relevant fields - eg a few gems from living tax god John Andrews (who tweets as @jmalitrg ):

It's ok higher-paid GOV.UK says that Child Benefit is not taxable http://goo.gl/dDMkc can you tell HMRC please @gdsteam

Nice to know tax on savings interest is always deducted before you get it says GOV.UK...some will get a nasty shock

GOV.UK says you "always" pay tax on benefits if a co director..not so..eg unpaid charity directors http://goo.gl/onjUj

GOV.UK says you don't have to pay NI on tips paid to you https://www.gov.uk/tips-at-work/tips-and-tax … .please tell taxi-drivers @gdsteam and HMRC

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Bank card-slurp nasty 'infects tills, ATMs', corrupt staff fingered

J P
Black Helicopters

@chris lively

You're spot on - they're called zappers (as opposed to phantomware, which is the built in stuff) and you can read all about them courstesy of the OECD - linked in my first post above... the sheer scale of the criminality is staggering. The manufacturers know about this stuff, and far from whitelisting acceptable addresses, they're the ones writing in the hookey code - and even training the operators in how to use it...

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J P

Are we surprised?

http://www.accaglobal.com/en/discover/news/2013/03/zapper-treasury.html

Even OECD and the accountants have noticed the availability of the tools... http://www.oecd.org/ctp/crime/ElectronicSalesSuppression.pdf

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US national vulnerability database hacked

J P
Go

Today is clearly Irony Day

From the FT (£/reg'n) The UK government’s Insolvency Service is all but insolvent.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4f09429e-8bcf-11e2-8fcf-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2NVGs5dFn

Anyone got a third to make the hat-trick?

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Keyboard, you're not my type

J P

Re: The best kind of keyboard

You mean like one of these: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/15/usb_typewriters/

(That's the second time I've been able to use this link in one of Mr Dabbs' forums in the last 3 months; he clearly has a thing about keyboards...)

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El Reg contemplates the ultimate cuppa

J P

Re: I must defend American coffee drinkers

To be fair, Identity, the worst drink I had between Newark & Vancouver (via Tennessee, Arizona and 19 other States) was actually in Canada. At breakfast, a German crew (we were on a historic car rally) asked me to confirm whether the brown stuff in the mugs was tea or coffee. I thought they were joking, until I tasted it. I honestly could not tell whether it was badly stewed tea or poorly made coffee; there were hints of both.

Catching up with an ex-pat friend later that day, who happened to live about 200 yards off our route, she enlightened me as to the problem. Commercial eateries have a tendency to run both beverages through the same machine, without rinsing between batches. (To make up for it, she gave me a cup of her jealously hoarded imported tea; best cuppa I had on the whole trip).

Hopefully one day I'll get to rerun the route & visit some of the proper coffee joints - and take a little more time to enjoy the scenery...

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J P

I've tried American coffee, and 'swilling' is definitely the appropriate verb. On my first encounter with a filling station coffee machine, I took in the range of syrups, flavourings and other contaminants on offer via the half dozen or so nozzles ranged along the 8' wide monster and thought to myself "Why on earth would anyone want to add all that to a perfectly good cup of coffee?"

Sadly , the answer became apparent all too soon. No-one in their right mind would want to add them to a perfectly good cup of coffee... but adding them to what came out of the coffee machine would have made, well, more sense than drinking it neat. But not quite as much sense as not drinking it at all, which was the option I took for most of the rest of the trip.

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Pub o' clock comes early for C&W biz customers silenced by titsup phones

J P

Aren't HMRC (currently) C&W customers? Would have been really 'entertaining' if it had gone down yesterday in parallel with Santanders bill-pay facility for SA taxes...

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'Leccy-starved Reg hack: 'How I survive on 1.5kW'

J P

Re: Gas Fridge?

Dometic is (nominally) a Swedish group - although you'd have hoped the UK distributors might have checked the copy before posting it...

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J P

Re: Spin?

Hmmm - it may be all coming together; didn't he do a piece in the summer about tunnelling into the living rock for the underground tunnels?

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Police use 24/7 power grid recordings to spot doctored audio

J P

It's easier to disprove a hypothesis than to prove it*.

I think Burbage is on about the same thing that passed through my mind - all this could really be good for is proving that a given recording _wasn't_ made at a particular time because the variance in hum is too great, in the same way that DNA matching can only [conclusively] clear people because they don't match.

The risk of false positives is too high for a good defence lawyer to let the prosecution get away with saying that the 'hum profile' (or rather, the close approximation of it which can be extracted from recordings which almost certainly weren't made on kit designed to accurately preserve it) proves when a recording _was_ made. And of course if there's a gap in the pattern (aka doesn't match any known profile) then it's probably been fiddled with, and almost certainly won't be a 'kosher' recording made on kit connected to UK mains. But again, all that does is expand the list of known unknowns and potentially disprove a given claim, rather than being proof positive of any particular assertion.

*If you're a scientist or a logician. A lawyer is of course required to be neither on behalf of his client.

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Amazon makes BEELLIONS from British customers, pays pennies in tax

J P

For those interested - the PAC report is now out

Though titled as a report into HMRC's accounts, it is in fact all about Starbucks, Google & Amazon's accounts : http://bit.ly/Yp3VIA Have a read!

(Full link for those who don't like/scan bit.ly: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/hmrc-accounts-2011-12-report/

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J P

PAC Report into HMRC's Accounts

Which actually seems to be all about Starbucks, Google & Amazon'z accounts (though not Stemcor or other multinationals) is now out: http://bit.ly/Yp3VIA

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J P

@Nick Healey

Perhaps another reason not many MPs voted for Meacher's Bill is that there's a government sponsored one which we expect to see in the draft Finance Bill on 11 December. You can read more about it here: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/tax_avoidance_gaar.htm

There's a 'lively debate' amongst tax professionals about whether the HMRC GAAR goes too far, or not far enough; the debate on Meacher's bill is rather more polarised (and not really a debate).

I was interested to note in passing that even Austin Mitchell MP hadn't noticed either Meacher's bill or the Treasury proposals when he asked the head of HMRC if they had any plans to legislate on anti avoidance at the PAC hearing on the Monday before Amazon's grilling - you can see it in all it's glory at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11707 time 16:06:02

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Driverless trucks roam Australian mines

J P

Re: Rise of the Machines

That's all fine until they learn to swim (or hitch a ride on the laser toting sharks)

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BOFH: The Great Patch Mismatch

J P

The point of Halon

They didn't just use it on computers. Libraries loved it; apparently priceless medieaval manuscripts and irreplaceable first editions respond slightly less well to sprinklers than do server racks (the concept of double redundancy isn't really compatible with *unique* archive material). The alternative gas systems are I understand considerably less effective, so more books will burn while it takes effect. IANAL*

*I Am Not A Librarian

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Barclays Bank buys 8,500 Apple iPads in one go

J P
Pint

Dr Xym just realised...

I thought it was a deliberate Friday thing; just not sure if you were heading into the 4 Yorkshiremen territory, or considering a Spanish Inquisition style development of increasingly smaller price fractions...

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