61 posts • joined 8 Sep 2011
Re: @ Fiddler Crap Service is the Norm
Some businesses have realised that a small % of customers demand a disproportionately large amount of support effort. One of the most cost effective ways to reduce the cost of your support operation is to give those awkward customers the worst possible experience so they defect to your competitor - a double success, you save costs while at the same time increasing your competitor's costs.
As customers we bring this upon ourselves to some extent. We seek out the cheapest service then expect the highest standards. As ISPs go I believe Zen Internet is highly regarded for taking ownership of support problems and getting them fixed - but they're also towards the higher end of the price range.
And, as a customer, the best solution is invariably NOT to go for the biggest or the "household name" provider. To a small provider every customer matters, they are less likely to offshore their helpdesk, less likely to put support calls into an interminable mess of phone menus and call queues, less likely to rely on script following minimum wage help-desk staff.
Phone menus and call queues mean they value their own time more than yours. Compare your hourly rate with that of a minimum wage offshore call centre worker: they're saving pennies and costing you pounds. When you're choosing a supplier and you get put into a call queue for pre-sales enquiries what does that tell you? If pre-sales was OK then try routing your next pre-sales call to their help desk instead - less well resourced? What does that tell you?
In my business we have neither phone menus nor call queues. If the line is busy you get answerphone. When a customer leaves a message we call them back, usually within minutes and to the evident surprise of new customers, more used to answerphones being used as a black hole. I have customers who can be a serious PITA, in reality some of them understand that and the time we spend helping them is not wasted. We rely heavily on recommendations/referrals from existing customers for new customers. If a customer leaves for a cheaper provider they come back when they let them down.
It's widely acknowleged that First Direct have got this right - so why is that tried and tested way of getting the reputation of "best phone support" not widely replicated?
A while back I ordered a Dell and ticked the "no crapware" box (they described it differently).
The result was that "crapware removal" made the machine "a custom build" and while they could hardly charge me for the service they punished me with a 2 week delivery delay whereas "standard build" complete with crap could be shipped for next day delivery.
Don't teach, inspire.
It seems like a weekly event for a politician or self proclaimed "expert" to propose we solve a problem by adding it to the school curriculum.
My proposal, is that in order to fulfil all those aspirations, we expand the school week to 168 hours.
That may hit the odd stumbling block so let's take another look at the situation.
Better to explain to that there are experts, use them and choose your own field in which to become an expert (and perhaps command a good salary). I could do that appendectomy for you, I've got a sharp knife, needle and thread, I know roughly where to cut and what I'm looking for (dissected a rat at school, anatomically quite similar) - no takers? You'd prefer a trained experienced surgeon? Yes but in the USA the cost ranges from USD1500 to USD180000, I'll only charge USD100. You still aren't convinced are you?
Many experts started out on their subject as the result of some kind of inspirational moment, event, person, teacher. We need to expose kids to the widest range of stimuli with the aim of inspiring some. Ben Garrod was interviewed on the radio today. When he was a kid an art teacher gave him a sheep's skull to draw. He was so overwhelmed with its beauty, complexity, function that he didn't draw it but spent the time examining it. That set him on a course to become an expert in bones and skeletons. Don't miss his TV series starting on BBC4 8:30pm Tue 18 Feb.
The world doesn't need many bone experts. We do need plenty of computer experts but how many? I have no idea but let's say 1%? So we bore the other 99% with enforced lessons on something they'll never need? We'll not get those future experts by school lessons taught by a teacher who's read a book, had a one day course but has no real life IT experience or skill and scant understanding. We could get them by exposing them to inspirational expert practitioners who give them a whiff of the possibilities - that will stimulate those with an interest and aptitude to quickly streak way ahead of what any school teacher could ever hope to achieve - just as happenned with the Sinclair and BBC computers in the early 1980s.
Re: About time
Nostalgia corner: Yes I evaluated CP/M & MS-DOS on the Victor 9000 (ACT Sirius in UK market) and my employer (one of UKs biggest businesses) bought dozens (for, in todays money, over £4k each ). They stood up very well in comparison with the IBM PC but that was only available in USA at the time anyway. If I recall they used 2x5.25inch floppy disk drives 128K RAM. Later some lucky power users got an external hard-disk add-on with a massive 10MB.
Our CP/M vs MS-DOS choice was primarily influenced by the availability of applications, initially we used both but MS-DOS ended up the winner for giving us more/better apps.
Later I got to evaluate the Apple Lisa and decided it was an overpriced novelty (so in 3 decades nothing has changed at Apple!). Not long after that the Mac came out, more affordable but with a tiny built in screen - not much use.
Clearly the objective of Iain Standen is to erode the income of TNMOC to the point at which they cannot afford their £100k annual rent they pay to BP. That would raise the issue of the fate of their prize exhibits - and I'm sure he'd love to get his grubby hands on them...
This is one of the longest threads I've followed on The Register and the vast majority are critical of BPs actions. Sacking Tony and Standen's attitude to that in the BBC interview should be grounds for at least a strong reprimand and a public apology to Tony.
Grumbling on here will achieve nothing - so what can be done?
Lobbying the Bletchley trustees might be a good start.
Get more coverage in the computer press.
Lobbying the known benefactors of the BP trust to exert their influence - and perhaps transfer some of their generosity to TNMOC.
Is there a way to feed back to the Lottery fund that their donation is being misused to the detriment of another deserving cause?
Lobby Gov't for an MBE for Tony
Lobby owners of exhibits on loan to BP to ensure they are aware of the situation with TNMOC and Tony's public dismissal
Do something yourself - become a member of TNMOC £45 p.a. - that's a bit steep for me especially living a few hours drive away (and never been) so not likely to get much personal benefit - but I'm sending them a £10 donation (gift aid eligible).
From what I read about BP and TNMOC (and as an aging computer geek) TNMOC is a greater attraction to me than BP, I really will have to make the effort to visit sometime.
Re: "without contributing to its upkeep"
If Starbucks need not pay a fair share of corporation tax on UK generated profits because "they create jiobs" then why should the small business cafe owner pay his share? And of the jobs the multinationals are providing, a large percentage are at or near statutory minimum wage so generate little contribution from tax and NI.
Any business that wants to come here to trade on equal terms with local entrepreneurs is welcome, those who just want to exploit our system and workers is basically asset stripping the UK economy and they can go hang.
"The tragedy of the commons"
If you're not familiar with the phrase google it.
Why should my moderate internet usage be slowed because some customers make huge demands on the system. If the answer is "the ISP should invest more so they can give an all you can eat service to everyone, including the resource hogs" then I can expect a price hike in order to pay for the hogs excess usage.
I would prefer an ISP that works more like an electricity supplier. A quarterly base charge for service provision (based on bandwidth provided - 20Mbit delivered at the premises charged higher than a line providing 1Mbit) then a cost per gigabyte of actual traffic used this quarter. If I want a continuous stream of cat videos why shouldn't I pay more than the guy who just deals with a couple of emails a day?
It should not be permissible to claim ownership of a dictionary word or a common phrase. It's just a way for guys with deep pockets to get lawyered up in order to screw individuals and small businesses to remove trivial competitors and block innovation.
I think my proposed "Easy i-Virgin apple leaf candy" product is doomed. (In case anyone misses the references :ownership of the word Easy is claimed by Easy Group easy.com, Virgin by Virgin.com and Apple and the letter "i" in front of anything by some guys who sell overpriced low spec computers dressed up as expensive fashion accessories, they also claim ownership of "leaf" - http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2012/12/10/apple_applies_to_trademark_the_leaf/#c_1656721). If our political classes weren't in the pocket of big business they'd legislate to prevent this theft of our language.
To be fair: I did find how to uninstall from their website, fairly deep in there but go FAQs>Knowledge base>Why is the uninstall button greyed out?
To be fair (again! I must be in a good mood today!) - we've all read the stories of "I wrote an app one afternoon and now I'm a multi millionaire" but also the far more prevalent stories of folk who've invested months of development time and $$$ in creating and promoting an app only to find that sales are approx zero or that the app store (apple anyone?) takes a dislike to it, or that the idea is good so dozens of "me too" similar apps rapidly emerge to compete for the limited market. So a new entrant may be desperate to recoup his investment and consequently go about things the wrong way. That may be the case here - in respect of policies (not making it sufficiently clear that free is limited version, not making uninstall info easy enough to find), promotion (like not paying due regard to El Reg T&C, positive reviews that are perhaps not from disinterested parties) , pricing and perhaps a naive atitude to permissions "trust me" - although that stance seems distressingly common and users distressingly accepting of it - which is why there's a need for an app like this in the first place...
And so, dear reader, my own unique and mind-blowing app ideas remain unimplemented because the statistics indicate too small a prospect of a positive ROI.
More to it than that. Suppose a Google search returned amazon.co.uk and amazon.com, amazon.scammersdomain.com, amazon.de, which one would you click? Hopefuly not the third but then if you are in the UK you'd choose.co.uk because you anticipate more likely to be governed by UK legislation, in-country shipping will probably be cheaper and faster, prices will be pounds not dollars, no risk of import duties, the site more likely to use English (the .de site is in german)
Re: How about...
In UK if police have suspicions they can check the mobile phone company billing records which show when and where a phone was being used. And the phone itself can provide info hence guilty drivers have been known to try to wipe the "last call" info from the phone.
Not all MPs are useless
A LibDem MP seems to be the instigator of this: http://www.no2nuisancecalls.net/news and has set up an All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuisance Calls which has just issued a report - inevitably a bit wordy and includes the likes of BT contributing feeble excuses for doing nothing (no surprise there) and the DMA trying to make out that unsolicited marketing calls provide a valuable service to consumers (my arse they do).
But it is at least good to see Talk Talk and Parliament doing SOMETHING about the problem. Lets hope it's not as utterly useless as the TPS set up in 1999 as a response to consumer pressure. Those registered with TPS now get MORE unwanted calls than unregistered users, the monthly crop of thousands of complaints to TPS are a monumental waste of time, just not worth making the effort, the total number of prosecutions after 14 years of operation is still in single figures.
Don't waste any effort on the clever tricks to waste the callers time, they are earning peanuts, your hourly rate is higher than theres especially the off-shore callers who can be on under a dollar an hour.
What I do is let all calls with an unrecognised CLI go to answerphone. Currently running at around 10 a week.
If TalkTalk were willing to be a load more aggressive I'd switch to them. What I mean by more aggressive is if I could make a callback (like the mobile phone text scam number) to say "I want no more calls from the number that just called". I don't want them to be overriding my decisions about what is legitimate and what I consider a nuisance. As it is their offering is a positive step but still feeble.
Re: Will they block themselves?
"Is there a pre-filtering device ... How about someone develops such a device using the popular Raspberry Pi..."
There is such a system that runs on RaspberryPi (or other linux system) Google for "raspberrypi asterisk"
The only reason I use DAB is because it can usually get usable quality reception on the domestic mains sets - but only with that awkward antenna extended. Living in the forgotten North of UK we've always suffered poorer coverage.
I had to abandon Radio 3 when it left AM, FM was unusable, at least DAB remedied that but then I committed the horrendous mistake of moving to the hilly Peak District (the clue is in the name). AM signals were good at "bending" over hills, FM/DAB aren't. Listening in the car is a lottery, numerous places on A roads where the signal deteriorates from OK to static.
Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?
Can I put in a good word for Sugru too (pity about its short shelf life tho'). And there's always used chewing gum...
All Google need to do is make safe search setting the default at http://www.google.com/preferences I set that anyway simply because it delivers fewer unwanted results for my searches.
In addition to that I use OpenDNS settings in my router with preferences set to block several categories of other stuff I might prefer my kids not to be looking at - drugs, alcohol, gambling, weapons.
In recent months there have been US originated scare stories about the possibility of back-doors in network equipment from Chinese manufcaturers such as Huawei. The cynics may have thought tis was to protect the commercial interests of such as Cisco. In view of the Prism revelations perhaps it was to ensure friendly nations installed US manufactured kit which might allow NSA back-door access.
Maybe the security analysts examining Huawei network gear should test their expertise on Cisco too.
Re: Commercial Blackmail
As the owner of hamstertunneler.co.uk we are writing to inform you we have reserved your .uk equivalent. You have a period of 6 months to cough up the money... during this "sunrise" registration period for a substantial premium after which we'll let the first con man to come along buy it for a fraction of the price and you'll be well and truly screwed.
No it's much more than that...
If I were to buy my-fantastic-domain-name.co.uk I'd need to register my-fantastic-domain-name.uk too to stop the guy down the road getting it to use in competition or to hold me ransom for a large transfer fee.
That means going forward a domain name will cost £4 for .co.uk plus another £10 for .uk
If I already own tesco.co.uk (I don't!) I'd be a fool not to buy tesco.uk as soon as available so nominet's big win is that a significant chunk of the 10 million .co.uk registrations will need to stump up another £10 p.a. for a defensive registration of the .uk equivalent.
So that's up to £100 million extra income for nominet - but it's a not for profit company so why do they need that? I guess Leslie Cowley is struggling to get by on her meager £187k salary and £70k bonus.
And don't forget that the registrars add their own margin to Nominet fees - Webfusion lists .co.uk at £9.99 p.a. (and just fancy that, when I look at Nominet's annual report for 2012 I find "T Vollrath (Webfusion Ltd)" is a director of Nominet with a salary of £30k) So it's drinks all round guys!
Re: @AC (08:06 GMT)
"...Brits who are generally too polite ...?"
An Indian sounding gentleman called asking for me by name. I said "who's calling?" he just repeated "Can I speak to Mr...", I again asked "Who is calling" this time he responded "F... off you c...". I assume he learnt that handy phrase from other Brits he'd called...
Re: Scheduling challenges
> you'll need to over staff. Who's providing the call centre?
One solution may be "cottage industry" as BT were doing (may still do) with directory enquiries where the operator might be a little old lady in a croft in the Shetlands. Negotiates "available times" and then paid a small
hourly retainer plus a per-minute or per call fee.
I might be in trouble. My wife just turned 60. She's a bit of a technophobe and had been grumbling about her mobile phone: text too small, wanted one she can easily use as a camera, prefers clamshell designs with a neck-cord, doesn't give a toss about smart-phones and apps, wants a phone to make phone calls and occasional texts (proper big clear buttons please - not on-screen buttons).
I got her a Doro phone, so far I've managed to obfuscate the fact that Doro's target market is the elderly but now her friends all want the same. Someone's sure to let the cat out of the bag.
Wish me luck.
The chocolate factory should use Cadbury's as a model...
Eric Schmidt said of Google's tax avoidance "It's called capitalism. We are proudly capitalistic. I'm not confused about this." Well Eric it's not "ethical capitalism".
I used to live on Cadbury's Bournville estate in Birmingham, called "the Factory in a garden".
Like many 19th century capitalists the Cadbury family had a sense of responsibility to society and the community. They built good quality housing not only for their workers but also integrated homes for other professionals essential to a community - teachers, doctors. They built the local hospital (The Woodlands), they provided a holiday retreat for inner city slum kids, they donated an area of local countryside to the community (the Lickey Hills). In effect they had "planning laws" in advance of many we have today resulting in some of the most pleasant places to live, wide roads with wide grassy verges, mixed housing styles and sizes on the same street and plenty of well landscaped and maintained open spaces.
The beneficiaries were not just their own workers but a wide cross section of society.
Capitalism is often portrayed by the left as intrinsically "evil" and Google (and Apple, and Amazon) are trying hard to prove them right.
The reality is that many of our great institutions were founded and funded by successful business people and NOT as the result of legislation forcing them to and it continues today with such as the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.
But perhaps we should put another interpretation on Google's moniker of "The chocolate factory", the term is also used as a vulgar term for the anus.
My solution for businesses operating in UK and not paying their fair share is nationalisation of their UK operation.
Re: Not flashy but owns a market...
"...but you overinfalte the importance of Apple,..."
While you're right about the relative (non)importance of iphone/ipad to ARM success, I think we must acknowledge the usefulness of Apple's cash injection back in the early 90's, and the iDevice effect does seem to have raised awareness of ARM to a larger IT literate circle and beyond (but RasPI even more so?)
Re: Not nearly enough
With an elderly relative who may call for urgent assistance at any time, yes, I'd interrupt (almost ?) anything.
I gave up reporting TPS violations a few years ago after they responded to my FOI enquiry asking what the oucome of complaints was. The answer (shortened from 3 pages) was: If they got enough complaints about an organisation they would ask them to stop but they had never imposed any penalty. So whether the £90k gets paid or not at least the ICO has got of it' fat arse eventually and maybe some other crooks will get the message - and move their call centres to India. If I pick up the phone and hear an Indian voice, I just put the phone down - I've probably done it to my Bank...
The "problem" with ARM is that it's hidden, no equivalent or "Intel Inside". And it seems to be hidden in just about everything that uses electricity! Whist our desktop PCs don't use ARM as the main CPU, they've probably got a couple of ARM chips in there maybe in the hard disk controller or graphics card. When the price of the most basic versions of ARM is pennies then it becomes the best choice for anything needing a bit of logic. My stockbroker said it was time to take profit (after 2000% growth) on my ARM shares recently but then totally blew his credibility (like the author of this piece) by saying it was a risk because Apple may stop using ARM...
And when I say "problem" - well is it? I probably own a few dozen ARM chips in phones, computer preipherals, GPS, (car? Fridge?), I don't know and it doesn't matter, like I don't know the manufacturer of the mains cable in my house, I don't need to, leave that kind of decision to the guy responsible for wiring up the house. The only device where I do explicitly know it's ARM based is RaspberryPi. I'm fairly sure my mobile phone is too but my criteria were not "what chip" but the end-deliverable features - things like speed and battery life.
The claimed benefits were:
Nominet to check registrant details properly - an admission that their previous practise was rather casual.
Websites to be scanned for malware on a regular basis - at what additional cost? UK registrar 123reg offer a service "Site Scanner", 5 pages for £3.50 a month (or you can use Google webmaster tools and get free site-wide malware scans).
Registrants to be entitled to use a "Nominet approved" quality mark - along with all the other "approved" badges and labels that appear all over the web - and are universally disregarded
The shorter name is "more convenient" - delivering the fantastic benefit of 3 fewer keystrokes... but certainly more confusing, everyone is familiar with .co.uk
"The new names make it easier to choose a suitable domain name" because more become available - not true. If someone owns great-example.co.uk and someone else registers great-example.uk it only leads to confusion and they could be guilty of "passing off". Just try buying a name like tesco.cx (one of the few not already owned by Tesco, .cx is Christmas Island), I can confidently predict you'd be hearing from their lawyers not long afterwards even if you made no use of the name. SMEs simply can't afford the cost of registration under all top level domains never mind the legal fees to defend them.
Trade mark holders will be given priority - so if I've been legitimately using great-example.co.uk for ten years but a third party has great-example as a trade mark, they'll get priority for the great-example.uk name over me.
Having demonstrated that the claimed "benefits" are illusory at best, let's consider the disadvantages:
The annual fee is substantially higher, the wholsale price was to be "under £20 p.a." (compared with a the current .co.uk wholesale price of £5 for 2 years). Registrars can charge whatever they want as the retail price. In short, registrants can expect to pay a much larger annual fee.
Presumably there will be an additional charge for malware scanning and for DNSSEC.
As mentioned above the owner of great-example.co.uk name might find that a third party has registered great-example as a trade mark and will get priority for the great-example.uk name. The implication could be a great revenue earner for the legal profession. Alternatively it could go to the Nominet dispute resolution process (£££). A trade mark is not unique, more than one organisation can have a trade mark on a word as long as there is no risk of confusion, i.e. they are operating in different business sectors. Apple was example being the trade mark of the Beatles shop and of a computer company. For many years both had rights to use "Apple" as a trademark as long as the computer company didn't enter the music business and the Beatles didn't start selling computers. (Subsequently the computer company paid the Beatles to drop their trade mark).
There will be a "sunrise period" - presumably this will follow precedent of charging a substantial premium for sunrise registrations. (With the possibility of fraud as alleged by some sunrise applicants for EU domains). And if you don't "defend" your existing name with a sunrise application but someone else buys it (then or at cheaper landrush stage), you're stufffed.
Who benefits? Nominet is a "limited by guarantee" company, however that doesn't mean that employees can't benefit from generous remuneration packages, the average staff salary in 2011 was around £60k. The total financial benefit package for the highest paid director was over £250k.
Domain name registrars are Nominet members, paying an annual fee and a small fee for each domain name. They stand to do very well out of the new arrangement.
Those with deep pockets - SMEs on tight budgets just have to cave-in when they see the likely legal cost of a passing-off dispute
The corruption starts here: It's interesting that Nominet didn't use their mailing list of 10M domain name registrants to publicise the consultation - but doubtless all the registrars were contacted. No point in asking the turkeys to vote for Christmas, let's just get Bernard Matthews opinion.
If Nominet were serious about he alleged benefits then they could offer all but the shorter name acknowledged by a "Nominet approved sticker" as an add-on for .co.uk names with the associated DNSSEC, security scanning and some kind of legitimacy check - like that busineses are registered at companies house, genuine address on file not an accommodation address, accounts up to date, no credit reference agencies alerts.
Got one already...
Well almost. I've got a hot glue gun, the main difference I can see is that the glue stick is replaced by something that sets faster. Apart from that: the feed is from a reel; the plastic may come in different colours; the melt temperature may be different; the nozzle size may be different - but all those are relatively minor issues, a glue pen with different feed material, maybe different nozzle & temperature shouldn't cost much more than a standard glue pen, mine was £15 including a decent supply of glue sticks.
Re: MP's cojones
Yes, UK price is usually the same NUMBER as US price, they just replace the dollar sign with a pound. One excuse given is that "software has to be translated for the European market" - well I can cope with "colour" being spelt incorrectly.
When I needed to upgrade Adobe CS at a time when the pound was very strong relative to dollar I tried buying from Amazon US but that was blocked. I ended up getting a friend in US to buy it for me.
New legislation required - or Darwinism in action?
I never cease to be amazed at people showing me a shiny new and expensive mobile phone, for example, and telling me they got it free while not mentioning that it's on a 2 year contract at £40 a month.
I want all such offers to be required to include a "total contract minimum spend" statement. So that free mobile phone would have to state "total minimum contracted spend £960 over 2 years". That would also prevent the supplier ramping up the monthly fee during the contract. No, silly me, they'd still ramp the fee and hope nobody reported them to ASA - for no meaningful action to be taken, just an instruction not to do it again...
In similar vein are "free trials" where you are required to cancel by a specific date to prevent having initiated an ongoing subscription involving future payments. Same for 0% finance (subject to paying off the balance after 12 months otherwise the loan continues for another 2 years at a high interest rate).
On the other hand I'm getting to be such an old cynic that I'm inclined to think: "there are those of us who are numerate and smart enough to work it out for ourselves, meanwhile the mugs are paying over the odds and subsidising my better considered choices. This is Darwinism in action."
"Many people use the Telephone Preference Service to opt out of cold calling, which works well enough for calls originating in the UK"
Complete bollox. TPS may reduce the number of cold calls but I still get plenty. I made an FOI enquiry to see what happens if you complain. In summary if they get a lot of complaints about the same company they'll send them a "please stop doing that" letter. Although there is legislation allowing fines of up to £5000 for each offending call made that power has never been exercised.
The marketing industry lobby extensively to claim this is a legitimate means of marketing and say "what's the problem, if you gat a call you don't want, just put the phone down"
If you tell a caller this is a TPS registered number the response is one of: they put the phone down; they say they'll add you to their do not call list; they'll claim they do use the TPS but "you need to renew your registration every year" (not true); They'll claim you (or someone in your household) has ticked a box on an enquiry form or competition entry to agree to accept calls from them. The response I got from an Indian sounding gentleman, he asked "Can I speak to the householder" I said "Who is calling" to which his response, anticipating that I was an awkward customer, was "F! off you C!", a phrase I suspect he had learnt from making other such calls.
Indeed (despite being on TPS) I get several unwanted "sales" calls a week, if the caller sounds Indian he risks an abusive response - my Bank uses Indian call centres and so has fallen foul of this policy...
I don't pick the phone up for "number withheld" calls but let them go to answerphone but that too results in losing some legitimate callers.
I think Telcos should automatically provide CLI and not charge extra for it.
One partial solution might be for a telco to offer a filtering service, rather like the expensive truecall device/service. You can have a personal database of legitimate callers, and a blacklist, others get an answerphone. Blacklists could be aggregated and repeat offender numbers identified and shared.
There's even a problem now with CLI numbers, it is possible to send a fake CLI. There are legitimate and approved uses for example a Doctor wishing to call a patient from his domestic line can have his surgery number displayed as CLI . Abuses are often obvious fakes like 1111111 but can be the real number of another organisation who will then risk becoming the recipient of TPS complaints and abusive calls.
Keep me alive as long as possible...
Most deaths are down to heart or cancer. Fix that and we can all look forward to years of undignified and costly dementia and incontinence. Thanks.
UK emergency SMS
Register here first: http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/ although originally for the deaf it's OK for others to sign up too.
Try a voice call first but in poor signal areas SMS will retry till it gets through, I believe it only needs 50 milliseconds of connection time.
Message should be along the lines of:
"ambulance. Hiker has broken leg. Madwomans stones, Kinder Scout SK137880, moving casualty towards Jaggers Clough and Haggwater Bridge A57”' - That fits into 140 characters.
The message should indicate what service is needed, nature/severity of problem, location expressed in more than one format (i.e. map grid ref and named landmarks) and anything else relevant (as in this example, casualty is being moved and in what direction).
As you cannot confirm the message has been received you should continue self rescue efforts. Taking the phone to a higher location might help to get a connection.
Teachers do their usual thing - find fault
I remember when schools got the BBC Micro, some were never unboxed or access was so controlled that kids never got much out of it.
The lesson we should take is not from schools but from that generation when at home, inspired and prepared to spend hours - yes sometimes those hours were spent working out how to break copy protection - and in the process getting heavily into machine code.
In a 40 minute classroom session nothing much can be achieved - unless it's an inspiring and innovative teacher, then the kids will want to do more in their own time. Yes you can whine about the additional cost of a monitor, keyboard, mouse, memory card but who's not got left over keyboard and mouse from an old PC - or can get them cheap - charity shop or even new they don't cost much. Lots of domestic TVs have an HDMI socket (or converters are available). Next someone will point out that there are households where the additional cost of even a memory card is out of the question - that may be true but ask first how many of those have the latest 50 inch TV and Sky+, then look at the plus side of how many homes there are where the kids CAN make good use of a RasPi.
Don't waste time with kids that don't give a monkey's, we don't need the entire nation to be IT wizards, just a handful more Berners-Lees. No we don't need a nation of coders, we need a reasonable number of people with a level of understanding of what's possible to maybe design a software system, build a prototype and outsource the coding donkey-work to donkeys.
The knee jerk response of teachers to such an anecdote is to dismiss it as "an isolated instance" - the problem is that there are thousands of such isolated instances. I'd turn it around to asy there are isolated instances of IT teachers who do make a decent job of teaching IT an many more who make it about as exciting as learning about the legislature of ancient mesopotamia.
RasPi gives kids access to an almost "disposable" tool, programming is only part of the story, add-on circuitry is part of the attraction. Think of it as meccano. A good xmas gift for a kid with the aptitude to make good use of it, wasted on uninterested kids. And as with Meccano dad may need to help - a second benefit of getting kids and parents working together.
Just a comment on one throwaway line in the story...
"Were punters happy with ever-fatter phones ... but they’re not - they want thin, pocket-friendly devices."
Is that true? A fat phone would be able to include a better camera and a bigger battery - doesn't sound like a bad thing to me. My digital camera goes everywhere in a shirt pocket and needs to be fat to accommodate a good lens. My Android with GPS and data turned on dies after about 4 hours, not much use for route finding on a day's hiking in the hills. Maybe what I need is a camera that works as a phone (and gps) rather than a phone that acts as a camera?
Re: if you ever find yourself in the state of NY
Maybe a bit off topic but you started it. Americans seem to have a problem with British beer.
It's not served "warm" it served like red wine, as a wine buff would say chambré.
Do you stick your vintage Chateau Lafite in the fridge before serving too?
When I was in the Yukon last Feb our server apologised that she'd not got a chilled Bottle of Yukon Brewing's "Lead Dog" - and do you know, it was as good as a British craft brewery beer. When it's minus 20 outside I really don't want my stomach reduced to the same temperature. I have to say that having taken a purely academic interest in sampling US micro brewery products this year their only fault is US obesession with chilling everything. That is necessary with your mass market beers, the low temperature helps conceal the unpleasant taste but I urge you to try your own craft beers unchilled, they are great. A have had to revise my opinion that all american beer is garbage, there are some US micro breweries producing truly excellent brews.
Re: Big downside to allowing these numbers
TPS - don't get me started...
OOPS too late. I did an FOI enquiry to the ICO. The answer (4 pages condensed to one sentence) was: "No penalty has ever been applied to any organisation regardless of the number of complaints received". The legislation allows for a fine fo up to £5000 for each call made to a number on the TPS register. If applied that would wipe out the budget deficit - or maybe the ****s who operate those dodgy companies would move on to another scam. TPS don't even publish a list of companies people have reported.
Re: Bad idea
if I manage to get tesco.uk their lawyers are going to think it's christmas. if I get your small business name without the .co and start selling the same stuff as you, will you be able to afford the lawyers?
Small business screwed again, just pay Nominet their protection money.
Re: Not very well thought-through.
Out of xxx.co.uk and xxx.org.uk xxx.co.uk gets it, .uk is intended to replace (supplement) .co.uk org etc are unaffected.
What seems wrong that someone with trademark xxx gets priority over xxx.co.uk
Because that SLD is (was) strictly policed so you HAD to be a ltd co to use ltd.uk (btw Google delivers 780,000 results, that's not 780K domains as there will be multipl epages in the results).
One problem was if the status of the company changed they had to drop the ltd.uk SLD losing screwing up their web traffic and email addresses. I heard of one that grew into a PLC got the corresponding plc.uk domain (86,000 on google) then split into two LTDs one recovering the ltd.uk name once more losing the web and email addresses associated with the PLC.
Another problem is that nobody expects to see ltd.uk, don't know what it implies, zero recognition factor.
Power from Norway and Iceland?
Both have proposed projects. Iceland has plenty of geothermal and some HEP. When I visited an Icelendic HEP station there was talk of disposing of their surplus by running an undersea cable to UK. Norway has/had a pumped storage proposal - ship surplus power (like wind generated peaks at times when the grid doesn't need it) to Norway for pumped storage in high altitude dams. Both projects demand much longer cables than Scottish Islands. Are they complete non-starters or is the Scottish costing model wrong? Is this just another case of "why invest your own money if you can make a case for Government to stump up".
Are there any viable alternatives - use the power to create chemical compounds that can be shipped and the energy released? I'm not up to doing the science but naive ideas starting with simple substances like sodium, phosphorous, calcium carbide?
Re: third option.
The ICO is supposed to police the law in respect of telesales calling numbers registered with the Telephone Preference System, potential fine of £5k per instance. Despite thousands of reports a day the ICO has NEVER fined anyone. I find sales calls much more intrusive than cookies, I have to shift my fat arse to the room where the phone is and answer in case it's something that matters (like my granny calling because she's had a fall and needs help) only to find I need to tell the low-life caller to F* off (not granny).
Re: ICO = FAIL
...the Germans love it...
I just had a quick look for high profile German companies with a Cookie alert on their websites, failed to find any.
Re: Business as usual then?
Frankly I'd be looking elsewhere for the problem - like the broadband connection or FTP settings.
I've never had that problem with web fusion servers (though I do see that kind of issue with a couple of other providers I have to use sometimes) and I and my office staff make extensive use of FTP.
Can't blame them if it's a massive DDOS...
... at least they got it fixed within an hour - I host a couple of hundred domains on dedicated servers with them. I could access the server intermittently. It was showing load averages barely above 0%. I got (almost) straight through to support OK at 11:20 (call queue for less than 30 seconds).
Unplanned downtime is a regrettable fact of life - International Banks, Gmail and most if not all major hosting companies all get problems - for what I pay I've historically had very high levels of server availability at Web Fusion, I guess better 99.99% taken over 10 years. When one of my dedicated servers suffered a fatal component failure at 10pm on Christmas day 3 or 4 years ago they swapped in a replacement within a couple of hours.
Just do a search for [name any big organisation] on El Reg and see how many entries relate to service outages or successful hacks - e.g. HSBC gives:" HSBC UK systems major outage Customers can't use cards, online banking or ATMs" 4 Nov 2011. And believe me service loss to a Bank HSBC means a lot more than a blog about your new kitten.
I do have gripes with Web Fusion - primarily I'd like to move to a more powerful server and their sales people said they'd transfer most of the data for a few hundred quid but I'd have to copy across email account settings and any non-default DNS settings myself - try doing that for 100 accounts...
That's the only reason I've been looking for an alternative host (but so far failed to find one I'm happy with).
Admittedly their support has gone downhill since they moved some of it to India. A recent trivial example: domain name renewal paid, email some days later from Nominet to say "not renewed" so we assumed payment to 123reg had gone wrong so paid (again) they did renew - and promptly took the payment twice. India said "non-refundable". (Got it escalated and sorted in the end but at the cost of time, incredulity and anger). But show me anyone that doesn't outsource support somewhere cheap and incompetent.
So if anyone does have a better solution at the same level of cost I'm interested but I'm not holding my breath...
Re: $199 != £124 in Adobe Land
Adobe have long suffered from the belief that £1=$1.
A while back when the true calculation was closer to £1=$2 I tried to buy some Adobe software from a US source. Even if I used the shipping address of a friend in US I couldn't do it with a UK credit card. However I had a client in US and traded some work for him for the software I needed.
Perhaps someone with a UK version could confirm that Adobe have invested man-years of developer effort into translating the US mis-spellings into UK English (color/colour for example) hence justifying the price differential.
Want to see a worse Adobe rip-off? Acrobat X-Pro in US is $400 in UK £478, that would be $768 (Amazon prices)
Re: Picture 11 barrel printer
Brings back happy (?) memories as an operator in the 70s, we had to scrub the barrels with toothbrush and alcohol every 4 hours. Dirty work. Otherwise the print got fuzzy as the letters got clogged with fluff off the inked printer ribbon. If I recall we had about 16 of these printers each about twice the size of a large domestic fridge and despite acoustic hoods on a peak run (when end of month, weekend and bank holiday all come together) they'd all be going hard at it for 48 hours. I think someone said the paper passed through at 3 mph - then the laser printers turned up printing at 30mph!. Yes our drums did have rows of all one letter but didn't blow a fuse. Test prints would print rows of all the same letter so you could spot degradation of the speed of an individual hammer.
The problem with trying to waste the time of the telesales person is that they are only earning a few dollars a day in India, any time you spend dealing with the call is costing you orders of magnitude more than its costing them.
And when you look at the scams as opposed to "legitimate" telesales (if there is such a thing) the money generated by one success is a week's pay for the caller.
As for TPS - yes register but don't waste any time reporting the calls you still get. There's the power in law to fine £5000 for each offending call. Beyond "contacting to persistent offenders and instructing them to stop" no enforcement action has ever been taken. But in any case it's powerless to act outside UK.
Choice would be a good thing...
There may be a place for a "computer skills" course which is about learning to use applications or one a bit more management oriented covering stuff like systems analysis, writing system specs etc.
Then "The IT course" could be the kind of mentally stimulating exercise many of an older generation of IT workers got from their ZX80, BBC micro, Archimedes etc. Every student gets a Raspberry Pi as base hardware they can expand on hardware and get into coding. Frankly I think our schools system couldn't cope, it would be better done as an Open University type scheme but maybe a bit of a hybrid so in school there is a facilitator, who also participates in the learning and keeps an eye on individuals activities.
My kid started an IT A level at what has been called "the best state school in Sheffield". It was deadly dull, the teachers seemed to know little about what they were teaching and probably misunderstood the syllabus. At the end of year one all but one kid failed the AS level so the school withdrew the option to do year 2.
Hope they've solved the software bugs
I got an earlier model with the record to SD function years ago, 200 quids worth. Trouble is it eats D cells so fast it's only affordable on mains and it gets "blue screen of death" every few weeks and needs a reboot. I did read that they have a software fix but email to their support desk gets no response.
Plus the record function is too basic. Something like a sky+ setup to schedule recordings and give a replay menu would be useful. I bet the "24 hours recording" is a single file you have to listen to from the start, no skip to 1hour 30 mins, far less "skip to [start of my favourite program]". I'm afraid Roberts have lost the plot, need to keep up with technology. Things like integrate radio with WiFi/ethernet connection into domestic LAN and integrate to desktop software or maybe some Bluetooth and smart phone/tablet integrations. Maybe mute when the phone rings for example - or even pause program...
You may ask why bother with a discrete radio at all? My answer is that I can wander round the house and garden doing my chores and carrying the radio, big speaker and decent amplification so I can hear it above noisy background without resorting to earphones/headphones which I hate.
- Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
- Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
- Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
- Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
- AMD demos 'Berlin' Opteron, world's first heterogeneous system architecture server chip