* Posts by Ledswinger

3171 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

'Theoretical' Nobel economics explain WHY the tech industry's such a damned mess

Ledswinger
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"Integrated States"

Nope, still descriptive (and the abbreviation might get a bit difficult as to who's fighting whom in the Middle East).

I demand a simple proper name. Mercania would do.

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Ledswinger
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"Sometimes I can't tell whether something in a headline is about "US" the country, or "US" the emphasised collective of El Reg readership."

Bloody Yanks eh? If they'd give their country a proper name, rather than a vague and arguably inaccurate description we wouldn't have this problem.

Suggestions on a postcard please.

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Virgin Media DOUBLE-PUNCHED by BSkyB AND BT over ad fibs

Ledswinger
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Re: @ukgnome - You should be a cynic

That's still a fairly restricted number, and of known servers. If you use other speed testing services eg

http://www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk

then I certainly get different and far slower speeds.

My day to day usage feels more like the broadbandspeedchecker 50 Mb indication than the speedtest.net 100 Mb claim.

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Ledswinger
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Re: how do you return the letters?

"how do you return the letters? when there's no return address? :("

You know that red cylinder with a letter sized slot in it? Stick it in there.

Then the people who posted it through your letter box can decide how they want to deal with it. If they get enough returns they'll start insisting on a returns address (and charging the originator) but it's their problem.

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Ledswinger
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Re: "We're no good, but we're the least shitiest."

"Why do Virgin Media bother with these misleading ads, when all they need to do is say the following:

We're not BT, and you won't need their line."

Because, my dear AC, on pure like for like plays there's always someone a fair bit cheaper than Virginmedia when you look beyond the introductory offers, even when you allow for BT's line rental cash cow. And because Virginmedia offer rubbish routers that aren't really fit for purpose. And because under the Cable Cowboy they've run a series of price hikes to piss customers off.

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Son of Hudl: Tesco flogs new Atom-powered 8.3-inch Android tablet

Ledswinger
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Re: How much is this costing Intel?

"Intel's $1.5B hit comes from paying for the design ...."

I'll happily defer to your and Charlie Clark's views on the cost of alternative SoCs. But you're wrong that they aren't selling below cost, because R&D is a cost that needs to be recovered through sales like many other overheads.

To assert that Intel are not selling below cost you'd have to be looking at gross margin, and perhaps believing that the accounting term "cost of sales" refers to economic costs. "Cost of sales" refers only to the marginal cost of those sales. From an economic or investor perspective the true cost of sales would be the average, which has to include all the other operating costs of the business.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Hove actually?

So according to Google Maps that'll be:

Faarrrkkin Brig-tun

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Ledswinger
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Re: How much is this costing Intel?

" I wonder just how much Intel is bankrolling this (and presumably similar devices via similar channels in other countries) "

Well, in the last six reported months Intel made a loss of $1.5bn on less than $700m of revenues for their mobile and communications segment. So whatever the sale price of the processor was, the actual cost to Intel was three times that, and that's just to break even. Looking at other groupings (say Servers & Data Centres), Intel want to make an operating margin around 50% of sales. Which would suggest that Intel are currently selling (on average) mobile products for one sixth of the price they'd need to stay in the game long term. Obviously depends how much is integrated on the chip, but If we say the processor is the meaty bit, and the going rate for a third party chip is around $35, but Intel sell for perhaps $7, but would ideally like $50 (above market through hoped-for premium and further SoC integration, then it looks like the order of the implied cash subsidy to each Hudl2 (against a third party product) would be around $28, with Intel taking a $40+ loss between what they accept now and what they'd like to be paid.

That of course is built on the flimsiest of foundations....

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Ledswinger
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"All You Need is Hove."

You'll be giving our Merkin friends some bad ideas about how Hove is pronounced locally. Then again, could things get any worse, given the mangled enunciation that Google Maps routinely offers?

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NSA Sentry Eagle placed spies in private companies

Ledswinger
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Re: Indicative?@ Apdsmith

"You wonder the extent to which this is indicative of a mindset - was it as simple as Snowden, being "on the inside", wasn't really a party to the rules and could do as he wished?"

I hadn't thought of it like that, but it's a damned good challenge. It is generally true that any organisation is a shadow of its leader, top to bottom, and for better or worse. It would therefore follow that Snowden perhaps thought that way because that was how the whole NSA think, but I don't think so. Both from what he's said, and from his actions post-leak, he knew the ramifications would not include acclaim, recognition and reward, but rather vilification, harassment of him, family and friends, and a choice of exile or life imprisonment by a bitter, vengeful, and repressive bureaucracy.

The man has paid a very heavy personal price for doing the right thing, and I think if he'd believed that the rules did not apply to him, he'd have assumed that things would never point at him, or that it would all turn out rosy. I'd suggest the unlucky Bradley/Chelsea Manning thought that way, based on what he'd seen, but I think Snowden not.

The complete lack of support on Capitol Hill shows how the vermin of the political classes won't ever do the right thing, so I suppose that makes Snowden the man who stood up for what he believed in, of a free America. And he's now being hunted down like a dog for being the original American patriot.

Note to Hollywood: When you make the film, remember that all the baddies in this will not be your elected politicians, nor your senior security officials (many now as decorated as any African dictator), but should be weak minded dweebs either under the malign influence of the British, or simply mysterious English-accented sinistros.

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Ledswinger
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"The NSA is tasked both with protecting US network infrastructure and also penetrating and gathering intelligence from networks."

Which doesn't really explain why (as I read this article) the NSA were active in commercial espionage on foreign owned companies. That has little to do with security or protective intelligence, and everything to do with the sort of intellectual property theft for economic gain that the Yanks have spent the past decade accusing the Chinks over.

The unfortunate thing is that Snowden or not, this would eventually have leaked out, and what it shows is the poor judgement of the security establishment, who seem determined to make the US a pariah in the free world. And all of this security pantomime is justified largely by the "threat" posed by a handful of stone age bigots and extremists on the other side of the world. And the absolute height of that threat was an attack over ten years ago that killed roughly the same number of people who die on America's roads each month, year in year out.

Makes you wonder which country the NSA are actually working for.

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Radiohead(ache): BBC wants dead duck tech in sexy new mobes

Ledswinger
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Re: File under...

"What were they thinking?"

They were picking a winner, that's what they were thinking. Sadly whenever public servants pick winners, it is usually a surefire guarantee of long, expensive and protracted failure.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Dead ducks

"I am not aware of badgers being classed as a delicacy, so I propose that DAB be referred to as DeAd Badger tech?"

What about that bloke who used to collect and eat roadkill, including badgers? He seemed to like like them, and I've not come across anybody saying that they aren't a delicacy, so that's 100% of all badger eaters who rate them as a delicacy.

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Greedy datagrabs, crap security will KILL the Internet of Thingies

Ledswinger
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Re: Sorry, no.

"But to assume that it will all be permanently stuck at a "proof of concept" level coded by know-nothing numpties who've never had to sell a product to an end user - seems unnecessarily harsh."

You're obviously not familiar with the dismal mess that is the firmware and applications of most "smart" TV's.

Years (if not decades) after suitable protocols and hardware were cheaply available, and years after privacy became a consumer concern, these devices offer weak and slow functionality, often have the most criminally inept user interfaces, struggle with quick easy interconnectivity, have maker-loaded spyware reporting back to base, and are very quickly discarded from the maker's "supported software & devices" list. And that's top-brand TVs. Can you imagine what the software on a mid to low end smart fridge would be like?

Hardware markers don't get software. They don't understand the need to support it, they don't have experience in creating software, and their mentality in all things is build to the lowest cost, bundle it out the factory gate and forget it.

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Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author

Ledswinger
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"there's a quote from a senior Symbian kernel engineer (who I won't name) who spelled out what the issues actually were with Nokia"

I'd accept that the problems were diagnosed, and were individually treatable with time. But culturally and organisationally Nokia couldn't address them in any time frame, and even with radical action to make the organisation change, the business didn't have time as shown by the demise of Blackberry under the rule of Balsillie and Lazaridis. In 2006 both companies completely commanded their focus segments of the phone world. Both needed to address shortcomings in their phone operating systems, and both failed to anticipate the quality competitor offerings, failed to listen to customers, and failed to innovate effectively or quickly enough.

The interesting thing is that all of those criticisms apply to Microsoft in its core PC OS business. The only thing keeping MS going is the lack of a credible mass market alternative (Apple too expensive, Linux too fragmented, complex, and insufficiently compatible with a range of important programs).

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Ledswinger
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Re: So...

"Elop wasn't the worst CEO in history,"

Of course he wasn't. He sold a business that had been in a death spiral to Microsoft, who actually gave Nokia a good sum of money for the business. He did exactly what he was paid to do, which was work in the interests of Nokia's shareholders. He realised that Nokia had irretrievably missed the boat on phone operating systems, and rather than becoming a me-too Android hardware maker struggling to compete with low cost Chinese OEMs (which would have been a very bad decision), he chose Microsoft's OS, and that inevitably led to MS having to buy Nokia's phone division.

Arguably Elop played a blindingly good strategic game, worked loyally and effectively for his Finnish employers and Nokia shareholders, in a game where he'd been dealt a really poor hand to start with. Given the lacklustre performance of the typical over paid CEO's of most companies I'd suggest Elop should be considered for the award of best CEO ever.

Those mourning Symbian already know in their hearts that the body was in the coffin long before Elop arrived. And if they'll be realistic they'd have to agree that had Elop tried to revive that corpse, Nokia's phones business would have suffered the same fate as Blackberry, of finding that after a year or three of developing something that was actually good enough to take to market, the whole world had moved further on, "quite good" was never going to be good enough, and the value of the business had shrunk yet further.

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SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION

Ledswinger
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Re: Iran's huge gas reserves@ Paul Kinsler

"it leaves that unused shale gas in the ground in the US. So it will still be there to help US energy independence"

Maybe, but I doubt it. We still haven't seen the real economic cost of shale gas, and we won't until we've been through a few more years of asset renewal cycles, well declines and redrilling and so forth (plus the inevitable bankruptcies of many over-valued but under-capitalised newly listed companies). It's significant that the old "big oil" companies are treading very carefully in shale plays - they're worried about being left out, but they know that the maths doesn't work.

Gas prices have to rise a lot before shale will be genuinely economic in my view. As you say it sits there "until needed", but I suspect that before then the vast amounts of money being poured into energy research will have produced a range of technologies that are competitive at lower costs than shale gas can ever be produced for (not necessarily renewables), plus improving energy efficiency of buildings that reduces heating and cooling demands, and thus shrinks the gas market.

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Ledswinger
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Re: I wonder if theX-37B story is related to this one?

"But I don't think it would make much sense with the current situation with ISIS."

I don't think sense comes into US military or foreign policy thinking. The US armed and radicalised the Afghans to spite the Ruskies in the 1980s. That wasn't too sensible in hindsight. The US encouraged and supported a selected a range of unsavoury middle east countries whilst turning a blind eye to their behaviours in funding and supporting extremism. Again, doesn't look too sensible now. The US invaded Iraq on spurious evidence, and without any plan for stabilising the country after achieving "regime change". Doesn't look too sensible now. The US gave the post invasion Iraqi army plenty of weapons, many now in the hands of IS. You know what I'm going to say. The US trained anti-Assad fighters in Jordan and supplied them with weapons, before those fighters quite predictably went and aligned with IS or Al Nusra....not too sensible again. Does anybody notice a trend here?

So in context, angering the Iranians with an unprovoked attack just when the US might be making some slow progress in negotiations, and when the US might need their help clearing up a mess of US making, that is definitely consistent with the US track record.

Of course, only a cynic would take the view that the US needs Iran to be combative and under sanctions, because unless Iran's huge gas reserves are nearly sterilised by sanctions, the global gas price would plunge, and all the US shale gas producers would go to the wall (along with their political donations), and the mirage of US energy independence would evaporate.

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Lies, damn pies and obesity statistics: We're NOT a nation of fatties

Ledswinger
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Re: Moving the goals?

"I think you must be being extraordinarily dense."

Not showing up in my BMI.

But I think you're wrong anyway. There's not really any good science to BMI that I'm aware of it. It's a rule of thumb, it works best at a population level, works less well for tall people, or people who are muscley.

But at any rate, whether people argue with BMI or not, if they want to be fat (and it is a personal choice for the vast majority of the porky population) then that's fine by me.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Moving the goals?

"This doesn't mean that BMI is not a useful macro measurement, but that it is not particularly useful for you."

So in fact, BMI is useless for any individual. Which is fine, the public health enthusiasts could just stop misleading and confusing people by talking about BMI publicly, and offer the public a simpler and infallible test of fatness:

"Undress in front of a mirror. Are you a bit of a Bunter?"

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Hardened Hydrazine the source of Galileo satnav FAIL

Ledswinger
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"when the main engines fired, the thrust wasn't in the correct direction."

What is the fate of the satellites? Are these now useless space junk, or is there any prospect of recovery or repositioning them?

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White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?

Ledswinger
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@ scatter

"Not according to the numbers in Table 3.10 (units are ttoe):"

You disingenuous toad (it could have been a lot ruder, but I thought better of it). Your original point was that lighting demand fell off a cliff in 2007, and my point was that that decline dramatically slowed down in the period 2010-13, so perhaps you'd better repost and include the numbers right through from 2002 through to 2007? We both know where it is in DUKES, but I'll let you find and post it because it confirms what I'm saying that the "falling off the cliff" trend has dramatically slowed.

And you happily quote Gone Green (1) without regard to the other three scenarios, or the distinct possibility that within five years the EU could have broken itself up, or we may be outside it. This disputette between you and I is a pity - we seem to agree on the central point that well designed modern LED lighting is a great boon, on a like for like basis reduces energy use, and can offer better light quality in a lot (if not all situations).

(1) For those not in the loop, Gone Green is one of National Grid's "Future Scenarios". These are not forecasts, just a range of possible futures. For those who are interested in such technical stuff the whole NG Future scenarios are fantastic pieces of work, and they're freely available here:

http://www2.nationalgrid.com/uk/industry-information/future-of-energy/future-energy-scenarios/

The full download is a PDF document of around 214 pages, and National Grid do a programme of rolling consultations with all stakeholders and partners to get their views and input.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Life cycle

"Not my experience on a very small sample."

I'd agree that there's a goodly helping of rubbish on the market, and even some well known brands may have produced duffers, and with your point that the driver electronics will be the bit most likely to die, but being a charitable sort (as poster 080 will confirm above) I attribute this to LED being an emerging technology. Our office buildings have all been refitted with trade LED luminaires and in buildings housing 1,200 employees I'm unaware of any problems, so I think it is possible to get

When I bought a shed load of Tesco-brand GU10's, I kept the receipt and one box (which promises 25,000 hours use), with the specific intention of taking any failures in the next decade back to the shop. 18 months into this plan there has not been a single failure amongst the 19 bulbs installed, most of them running for around 1,200 hours a year, only eight and a half years until I can throw the box and receipt away. Fingers crossed!

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Ledswinger
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Re: Let there be dark! @080

"So, just in case you are out after dark a couple of times a month this justifies your local council wasting money on energy every night. "

Well sod off and live somewhere where there are no street lights then. You may find IS-held Syria to your taste, so lacking in all forms of modern amenity that I'm sure it is doing wonders for the planet.

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Ledswinger
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"No, in the UK residential (and indeed all) lighting demand is going to continue to fall off a cliff thanks to LEDs and this is going to make a big impact on our electricity demand."

Between 2010 and 2012 the decline you note flattened out, and in three of four National Grid future scenarios lighting energy demand hovers around current levels for the next decade. And unfortunately DECC's other policies (like transport electrification, de-gassing heat), accompanied by a big expansion in house building will more than offset the benefits of more efficient lighting, leading to a near doubling of electricity use by 2050.

And in a world that uses much more electricity, DECC's ideas of building expensive, intermittent, low-load factor power sources like wind are pure idiocy. Almost as stupid as writing a blank cheque to EDF for Hinkley Point B.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Life cycle

"LED lights are also expensive - and need specialised recycling"

Not that specialised. You can either dispose of LED GU10 fittings and the like with large metal heat sinks into the mixed metals recycling, or other LEDs into electronics waste recycling, the rest of which which contains much the same sort of mix of diodes and electronics. What's more, the better quality LED's aren't going to need recycling for the fat end of two decades anyway.

The expense issue is a myth as well - the capital cost is higher, but the lifespan is much longer as well as fuel costs lower, and with most lights you'd be getting a cash payback of 18 months to two and half years from an LED. Try finding a financial investment offering you a safe 30% annual return!

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Ledswinger
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Re: "reduction in waste heat"

"Anybody heating their house with electricity who doesn't have a private wind turbine is either unfortunate (renting) or needs a serious rethink (owner), because electricity costs more per Joule than does gas."

Gas isn't available to around one in eight of the UK population because they are off the gas grid, and it isn't available in high rise buildings for safety reasons (noting some use communal gas boilers, some use dry electric heat). The cost balance between electric and gas should also take account of the depreciation of a gas boiler (say £150 a year), interest on the capital tied up (say £100 a year), and an annual safety check and clean (say £100). That's £350 a year of hidden costs before you've done anything. And there's a further couple of grand tied up in a wet heating system (say £250 a year, maybe more if you pay for "heating cover"). Added together the standing costs of a wet, gas fired heating system are around £700-800 a year, which would buy around 5 GWh of heat. And that doesn't include the gas supply standing charge, typically a further £100-150 a year (in terms of figures above, the gas standing charge would pay the depreciation on a dry electric system).

Against that a dry electric system is cheap to install and lasts longer so has lower depreciation, and has virtually no maintenance costs. In a typical draughty, poorly insulated house I'd agree gas is a no brainer where available. But in a very well insulated modern house a dry electric system can start to look a credible option. Economy 7 tariffs and storage heaters (with peak top up) can be as cost effective in the longer term as gas in a typical house, even though you'd have higher electricity bills. If I were doing a self build or a self-specify, I'd be looking for passivhaus levels of insulation, and use underfloor dry electric heating, and do without gas at all (that's a pipe dream, or non-pipe dream, depending on how you look at it).

Industry insider hint for those currently on E7 tariffs: Switch supplier twice a year - outside of the heating season you need the cheapest normal non-E7 tariff, during the heating season the cheapest E7 or E10. When switching in spring you're looking for a supplier who will offer you single rate electricity on a dual rate meter, as not all do. Do the sums, see if it works for you. Also, if you've not got night storage heaters, and you're on E7, chances are that you're paying a lot more than you would on a single rate tariff (to be in the money you need 35-40% of all electricity used across the year to be used in the cheaper off peak period). If either the seasonal strategy or the 35% of all power off peak things are news to you, I may have just saved you £150-200 a year, so in lieu of my beer fund, contributions welcome to the RNLI.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Let there be light!

"The pitch black result is that any late return from an event requires a torch. Possibly an employment opportunity for link boys - or footpads."

And just as much of an employment opportunity for paramedics and fire &rescue services:

http://www.theaa.com/newsroom/news-2014/street-lights-night-time-accidents.html

The curious thing is why local government think they are in such desperate economic times. Current public spending is only marginally down from the astronomical levels achieved by notorious traitor Gordon Brown, my council tax is higher than it has ever been, and nationally the public sector is still spending £100 billion a year more than it raises through taxes (and none of that includes billions of pounds of stealth taxes like all the levies on your energy bills, mandated private sector expenses like employee pensions, or the half a billion telly tax).

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Ledswinger
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Let there be light!

I have to agree that a greater prevalence of LED lighting options will lead to more use of lighting. The same holds true in heating, where if you offer people an insulation package for their homes (draught proofing, new boiler, cavity wall and loft insulation), then according to some very good studies, in a third of households the heating bills rise. The term the industry use is "comfort taking", and it's a simple fact of human behaviour.

And that illustrates some of the problems in forecasting demand and energy use, and the partial delivery of claimed benefits. In the move from incandescent to CFL bulbs, the "waste" heat was anything but during the six month or so of the UK heating season. Admittedly using electric bulbs is an expensive way of heating your home compared to gas, but the planet-savers didn't factor in the lost benefits of incandescent filaments, that on a fully adjusted basis were probably around 15% of their energy use. And likewise they didn't allow for the poor light output, poor light quality, and often slow start up of CFLs that caused people to buy a bigger nominal replacement CFL, or to have additional lights on. The only real reason that CFLs have become as widespread as they have is the EU tree-hugger's ban on incandescent bulbs, along with the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change forcing energy suppliers to subsidies or hand out hundreds of millions of CFL's

subsidised from levies on your electricity bill.

Even with LEDs the "crap eco light" problem has not been fully addressed, with lots of low grade harsh bluey-white lights on the market, sometimes low output, and often low reliability at the cheap end of the market. For GU10 halogens, there's plenty of good, reasonably priced LED options with output as good as a halogen, but for other fittings there's a lot of variation, and indeed a lot of crap on the market. At present there's few 100W BC incandescent equivalents available - the CFL versions tend to disappoint, and there's no trustworthy 1600 lumen bulbs I can find.

Curiously enough, one of the biggest benefits of LEDs is in street lighting. The overall energy savings if every street light in the land were LED are modest at around 0.3 GW (cf 2GW for a decent size thermal power station), but the quality of the light is far better, the savings on replacing bulbs half as often add up, and the luminaires (the light fittings) are far better designed with less light spill and darker skies.

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Internet Explorer stars in monster October Patch Tuesday

Ledswinger
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Re: You should be COMPLAINING about Microsoft......@Dan Paul

"you ought to be commending them for actively trying to find bugs and squash them with frequent updates"

Not at all. It's Q4 2014 for those who haven't being paying attention. The idle wankers of Microsoft have been supposedly aware of their massive security failings since at least IE6 back in 2002, and in reality probably long before that. In the period 2002-2014, Microsoft have awarded themselves total profits (net income) of a staggering $195.05 billion, and still the best the fuckers can offer the world is a collection of security flaw ridden bloatware, and a pile of unprofitable hardware & business follies (Zune, Xbox, Skype, Surface, Nokia phones), failed corporate adventures (aQuantive and others), and core software fails like Vista, Windows 8, and the whole WIndows Phone debacle.

The evidence is absolutely compelling that the Microsoft business appears to be every bit as dysfunctional as the Nokia phones business was in 2005-2011. Microsoft's byzantine bureaucracy has missed all the important trends of the last decade, yet at the same time ignored crucial hygiene factors (like security), choosing instead to focus on the unimportant, the extravagant, the distracting, the unachievable, the pointless and the destructive.

Far from commending Microsoft, any right thinking observer will condemn them.

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Slap for SnapChat web app in SNAP mishap: '200,000' snaps sapped

Ledswinger
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Re: A question

"Snapchat was always a con."

You have to wonder if the crooks of Wall Street are still seeing Snapchat as a $10bn business?

I suppose the answer is that the value of any company is simply what the dumbest investor will pay for it. With stupidity having no lower boundary, it doesn't matter how laughable and revenue free an idea is, so long as a service has non-paying users, it can still be packaged up as the next great thing and sold.

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Landline deregulation: Big EU telcos have Skype to thank

Ledswinger
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I look forward to.....

...significant unintended consequences. That's usually what happens in these situations.

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Was Nokia's Elop history's worst CEO?

Ledswinger
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"I believe that Nokia can get back into the phone business in 2016"

They may be allowed to by the end of a non-compete clause, but those clauses are standard fodder that lawyers always insert in commercial agreements.

If Nokia wanted to make phones they wouldn't have sold the phone business. As it is, their board recognised that only two companies were making money out of hardware (and arguably the Company That Shall Not Be Named makes the money on software, and just happens to insource hardware design). If margins are so tight that most other entirely competent hardware makers are losing money, finding somebody to take your own ailing phone business off your hands (and then them paying you for it) is a master stroke of Finnish and or Canadian genius. Although they were admittedly helped by Microsoft's strategic drift, and the fact that MS had a huge cash pile burning a hole in their trousers.

In this view of the world, the words "Trojan horse" do apply, but instead of Elop himself being that horse, in fact the Nokia phones business that was the Trojan horse and Elop's just hauled it into the Redmond fort, where it will turn out to be a big bag of trouble.

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Gates and Ballmer NOT ON SPEAKING TERMS – report

Ledswinger
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Re: Ballmer's MIcrosoft legacy...

"For the life of me I can't ever remember reading about even one single successful contribution/idea/decision that Steve Ballmer made while CEO at Microsoft."

I think you're being harsh. Gates was always the senior partner in the relationship, and when Ballmer was (nominally) made CEO, he had Gates breathing down his neck in three suffocating capacities:

1) As shadow CEO, still interfering directly, still speaking day to day to senior MS managers, so doing Ballmer's job at the same time as Ballmer, and undermining Ballmer's authority and control

2) As "software architect", which gave him unparalleled control of Microsoft's destiny, thus critically influencing what Ballmer's choices and strategy might be

3) As chairman of the board, and a major shareholder, so Ballmer's direct boss - marking Ballmer's work whilst at the same time undermining him, interfering, and reigning in his options

It is possible that Ballmer was the incompetent buffoon as his critics say. But we'll never know, because the man was never given a fair crack of the whip as CEO. CEO's should never, ever stay on after their time, and they should never, ever become chairman of the company's board. Bill Gates was responsible for Vista, and as software architect responsible for W8, and the whole Windows Phone mess. Gates' continued involvement in Microsoft after his time as CEO is probably why MS is in the pickle it is now, and ought to be taught at all business schools for decades to come.

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'Bill Gates swallowing bike on a beach' is ideal password say boffins

Ledswinger
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"As a systems administrator, I type complex passwords many times a day to the point of muscle memory but I STILL mistype them 2 times out of 5."

Sounds more like a typing problem than a password problem? Observation suggests something of the order of 1-2% of IT professionals and users are properly trained to a competent standard in touch typing (I'm not, I should add). Think what that does for accuracy and speed across a large business, yet I know of no business that regards touch typing as an essential part of basic training. The companies happily train their staff in manual handling for jobs that don't involve any manual handling, they insist everybody does DSE training, yet with the most basic input operations of a computer companies don't train staff to use the tools properly (and buying the cheapest, nastiest keyboards and mice probably doesn't help either).

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Three UK fined £250,000 for customer complaints COCKUP

Ledswinger
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Re: If you have a problem...

"I remember a huge office full of peeps dealing with such emails."

That's how it works in my company....but still there's an urgency amongst the minions when a CEO-directed complaint lands on their desks. That may be unfair, even wrong, but if you're not getting through the bureaucracy, a CEO directed complaint can often fix things.

If it doesn't, then the unresolved CEO complaint is powerful ammunition in court of with ombudsman services.

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HP's axe swings AGAIN: 5,000 more staffers for the chop

Ledswinger
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Re: Ahem.....

Can't be arsed to do much research, but when hearing Meg "Pathetic" Whitman's gripings about Autonomy, you might read about their planned tax dodges and wonder who the real fraudsters are:

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-2690711/Hewlett-Packard-tax-dodge-revealed.html

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Ledswinger
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Freeing up cash for "sales investments"

You're having a faakin laarf my saarn, aarentyer?

Sales is not an investment, it's a cash cost. The model is you pay weak salaries but outlandish bonuses to lazy, work averse turds who (hopefully) have the gift of the golden gab. They in turn (hopefully) put in a few poorly supervised hours to beguile gormless companies (like my own) into thinking that through some vague, proprietary but unspecified magic that The Company Formerly Known As EDS (TCFKAEDS, or thickfuckheads for short) and masquerading as the once great HP will magically deliver a better service for a lot less money.

The reality in my company's case is that the routine operating costs for desktop and infrastructure services go through the roof, but by slashing the IT investment budget the clowns on our board can pretend that the shit service HP provide is somehow cheaper than when it was all in house. The fact that we've got piss all investment budget for the future of our IT doesn't matter, of course.

If I could magic HP and its overpaid and talent free board out of existence (oh, and your "global dis-service desk), I'd wave my wand now. The pity is all of the poor beggars who worked diligently and competently for their employers but were then unwillingly TUPE'd into this miserable, miserable company and then thrown out in order to employ the cheap and gormless, all for the benefit and bonuses of arseholes like Meg Whitman and her senior colleagues. Presumably somewhere in HP's CSR claptrap there's wilfully dishonest verbiage about "we value our employees", so that's alright, is it?

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Adobe spies on readers: 'EVERY page you turn, EVERY book you own' leaked back to base

Ledswinger
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Worth complaining to the data commissioner about?

In your dreams, sir, The ICO is a civil service bureaucrat rather than a policeman for a specific reason. And the penalties are limited to legit-SME frighteners for the same reason.

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Britain’s snooping powers are 'too weak', says NCA chief

Ledswinger
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Re: There's a germ of a good idea here...not

One of the big problems with Ripa and related legislation is creep - it's introduced to crack down on paedorists, but then the rozzers use the same powers to investigate littering.

Actually, it's not the germ of a good idea at all, it's the germ of an exceptionally bad idea. Mission creep is enabled either specifically because control freak politicians want it to occur, or because shithead civil servants along with shithead politicians allowed really poorly drafted legislation to be laid before parliament and then rubber stamped by a toothless parliament.

Until you can stop parliament from allowing the statute books to be loaded with thousands and thousands of pages of pure shite, the problem will persist. I would guess that nobody thought that European rules of freedom of employment would result in freedom of Latvian murders to come to Britain and murder schoolgirls, but that's in affect the legislation they passed. The last government defined illegal extreme pornography in such a way that the same scene is completely legal as part of an entire "artistic" work, but completely illegal and punishable by prison if somebody edits out the good bits for their own entertainment. The many abuses of the ECHR or our overly generous asylum system are well known, but I doubt the MP's who rubber stamped it thought that they were giving a free meal ticket to people like Abu Hamza and his mates.

WIth law making such a vile mess, a supine parliament that doesn't read or think about the nonsense that they squeeze through the sphincter of Westminster, you will never get the sort of outcome that you want, or precisely, carefully thought through legislation that balances the rights of the individual versus the needs of society.

As you say, they should get a warrant, and if they do that then almost everything the police need is already on the statute books. It's just the fuckers are too lazy to get warrants, I must assume.

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Hiss-hiss! GIGANTIC SOLAR FILAMENT snakes around Sun

Ledswinger
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Re: From your photos..

If it has a face, then presumably it will be able to put a hat on. Hip hip hip hooray!

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'Cops and public bodies BUNGLE snooping powers by spying on 3,000 law-abiding Brits'

Ledswinger
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So how did he vote on the original RIPA bill?

Vaz was a staunch enthusiast of most of Blair's "terrorism" legislation, and of NuLab crap like identity cards. He voted against an investigation into the Iraq war, and generally for mass retention of communications data. Looks like he wasn't even present to oppose the readings of RIPA, but on his own, and his party's track record he and his party should take the blame if RIPA is being abused. The man is a tosser.

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Be nice to the public, PC Plod. Especially if you're trying to stop terrorists

Ledswinger
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"I would hazard a guess I'm more likely to be shot by a cop."

Not in the UK. In the noughties we had around 90 gun related killings a year, that's now dropped to around 50 a year. And the police shoot and kill an average of two people a year (both guilty and innocent). Of course things may be different if you're one of our rebellious colonials.

So it you're about twenty five times more likely to be killed by a criminal or loon than by a policeman.

http://www.citizensreportuk.org/reports/murders-fatal-violence-uk.html

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Marriott fined $600k for deliberate JAMMING of guests' Wi-Fi hotspots

Ledswinger
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"The other thing to remember is that hotels generally make their money selling rooms to sleep in and food. "

The bed and board cover the hotel's costs, and the functions and extras actually generate the profit. So that includes conferences, weddings and the like, but also add ons like room service, phone calls, wifi and the rest.

A quick look at Marriott's accounts shows global RevPAR at about $126, and gross margin at around 8%, so before interest and corporate costs they're making $10 per available room night. At their average occupancy rate of 70% that's $14 per guest night gross profit on average. I'll wager that half of that actually comes from non-room related services like functions, and they therefore make around $7 per room from add ons.

Of course, Marriott being thieving bastards is simply the modern incarnation of the darker side of the "hospitality" trade:

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/lesmiserablescast/masterofthehouse.html

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Ledswinger
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Re: There be dragons here

"Microsoft used to make a profit of >$0.80 on each $1.00 of turnover, Apple recently declared $7.7bn on a turnover of $37.4bn."

Not comparable markets. In software, for example, Microsoft coded NT once, many, many years ago, and continue to sell the stuff at full price by putting on a new dressing each year, claiming that because the interface has changed it's all new. Result is that cost of sales is minimal, and 80 cents in every dollar tumbles straight through to the bottom line.

Hotel businesses have huge standing costs (property, employment, electricity), which translates to a high cost of sales, so gross profit will be lower. There's few barriers to market entry, so lots of competition, and that caps the prices they can charge, so putting those together returns will always be much lower. What this means is that profit is driven by occupancy rates, and occupancy is very heavily affected by the wider economic situation, so the only levers the hotel can pull to affect its results are headline price (ie higher price when there's a show in town, lower price to try and get occupancy when things are slow), and their ability to milk the guests for extra costs.

In this case Marriott's greed and desperation caused them to break the law, but as others have noted, corporations don't get punished like citizens, so I'd be unsurprised if Marriott are still doing this, or looking to see how they can achieve the same end result with different means.

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You don't have to be mad to work at Apple but....

Ledswinger
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Re: The Apple Tree senior managerment need a serious shake

"Having a dictatorial level of leadership that puts money above people, needs reality check"

In some companies it is about money. But in Apple, certainly under Jobs it was about his product obsession. That's why the iPhone has always had that shineyness, and "just works" appeal. If you let the minions get on and do their job without micro-managing over-sight some of them will go for "good enough". That's how traditional corporates work, they don't innovate much, they maintain, they streamline, and life can be very comfortable for the minions (I speak as a comfortable corporate minion). But if you want excellence, you need obsession, and that obsession has to seek and destroy all areas that are adequate or just good enough.

There's been a cultural discontinuity at Apple, from the product-centric Jobs, to the investor-centric Cook. Apple is now about money, but the corporate culture will take time to kick down a gear into being a normal corporate. We're seeing it already in the limited innovation and slow pipeline of Apple products, and the rather average iPhone 6 is the ghost of Christmas future. You don't make great products when you are answerable to investors. If you ignore investors you can produce great products, but you need the track record to do that (Jobs had, Cook hasn't), and you actually need to be great at making the products so that the financials follow the product.

But nobody joined Apple for a good salary and generous pension scheme, and family friendly working hours, did they? I've no sympathy if iPloyees have to give up their very souls, because that's the operating model of the company they elected to join. They get the cachet of "working at Apple", they have a grade A employer to put on the CV/resume, and they have to accept that there's compromises to get that. If they don't like the culture, then (a) they shouldn't have joined, and (b) there's nothing genuinely stopping them handing their notice in and finding something that suits them better.

Eventually Apple will be part of the comfortable corporate establishment, and other companies will be the thrusting innovators. Apple employees will then work only as hard as the average corporate, whilst the innovators come in at 7am and head home at 11pm, and tolerate a tyrannical boss because he inspires and terrifies in equal measure.

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IRONY ALERT: Former MI6 chief warns of 'mass snooping' - by PAEDOS

Ledswinger
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Re: Unrelated question@Brian Morrison

"If I didn't know better I'd think that some sort of conspiracy was in action."

Pah! You're the sort of person who thinks there's a nefarious reason why the Chilcott Enquiry hasn't been published, when any right-thinking supporter of parliamentary democracy can see that the hold up is merely that the copier is out of paper.

But, the strategy of denial and cover up evidently works, so next up we'll have a prime minister waving a dossier that says that IS are a clear and present danger to the UK, and we must send our ground forces to defeat them. This is inevitable as the RAF's two operational Tornados have thus far only managed to score a couple of pick up trucks (at a cost of £1.5m for each Brimstone missile used). If it's a war of attrition with IS, we'll be bankrupt before they are, but the post-Syria investigation will likewise be subject to a "dog ate my homework" excuse.

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So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code

Ledswinger
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Re: Mistakes?

"I don't think you can punish Lotus for developing for OS/2. At the time, it made business sense. e.g. didn't some of the banks run OS/2 internally?"

You can, and the market did. OS2 never had any traction other than with a small number of IBM captive customers (the sort of people that bought in token ring networks and those crappy overpriced underpowered PS2 machines). OS/2 was unpopular with most users and struggled for software, and backing an unpopular proprietary system from a single PC maker was always madness.

Lotus should have avoided OS/2 like the plague that it was. Sadly, even now 1-2-3 remains a better product than Excel, which is (like all Microsoft products) over-laden with whizzy new features that nobody asked for, and they never fix useability issues that go back decades (like Excel's crap charting, or basic input conventions of not recognising that when I open a spreadsheet and type 4+3, I am most likely to want that calculated in the cell, not entered as text, etc etc.

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Want to see the back of fossil fuels? Calm down, hippies. CAPITALISM has an answer

Ledswinger
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Re: @ledswinger

"CHP boilers don't use the 8% waste heat from boilers. "

I do know that, I work in the energy business. I think my language could have been clearer that I'm looking at net thermodynamic efficiency. If your primary alternative (a condensing gas boiler) extracts 92% of the energy from fuel, to be viable micro CHP must involve higher net efficiency, and I'm unconvinced that there's micro-CHP offering better than that, and it has (IME) much higher capital costs, higher maintenance costs, shorter asset lives, and sometimes other downsides like noise and vibration. In the world of large scale custom-designed, professionally operated heating systems you can't economically run heat-led CHP for much above system baseload for similar reasons, so the idea that micro-CHP will be magically more efficient than 92% is a chimera, and that's because any advance on a gas boiler has only that 8% efficiency gap to close.

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Ledswinger
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Re: @ Anonymous Blowhard

"And that was my point about scaling; how much area of solar collection is required to provide enough hydrogen to replace the UK's natural gas consumption?"

Ignoring cooking and process gas, total space and water heating needs of the UK are 600 TWh per annum (from DECC data). Because at best power-to gas conversion is around 70% efficient, you'd need 860 TWh of solar PV output (ceteris paribus).

At a representative 100 kWh per square metre per year for a PV panel in the real world you'd need 8,600 square kilometres of solar PV, an area about the same as Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, and West Sussex put together.

Can't see that happening myself.

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