2013 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
Re: Just close the loop entirely
"This crap is dreamed up by people who really have no clue as to how primitive robots really are. Today's robots can't out think birds, let alone mammals. It's going to be a long time before they get to anywhere near humans"
You'd have a point if the jobs most people do actually used their intelligence and involved creativity. However, most manual, and even semi skilled jobs are repetitive, and are easily automated, but hitherto not at a cost that people can pay.
Watch a car welding robot, doing what started out as a skilled task, became a semi-skilled task, then gravitated to essentiall manual status, and was finally automated. Could a machine that dexterous lay bricks? Could it clean a toilet? Could it make burgers? Could it change a hospital bed? Could it put up a streetlight? Of course ***ing it could, its just too expensive and a little bit specialised to do that at the moment.
White collar jobs are at similar risk, albeit without the physical robotic needs. If you set up your processes and systems right, then you don't need the armies of accountants that most big companies employ. If you make good use of digital assets then you can get rid of (most) of your call centres because you have fewer billing or payment errors, account set up and closure can be automated. Administrative roles vanish if the systems work properly. And when I undertake (as I currently am) a process analysis of a white collar function, I find people doing the same things year after year - repetitive tasks, duplicate tasks, checking other people's work, correcting the same old errors.
Even for a highly skilled role like an air transport pilot, the reality is that computers fly the aircraft most of the time - they can take off, route and land. The pilot sits there as a fall back for the systems (in the case of AF447, not a very good one, and flying on some basic fallback rules would have been better).
Re: If you live in a lake, it takes longer to walk to the well
"Interesting concept overall. Are we really getting that close to a post-scarcity society?"
I'm not sure this is a post scarcity world, more of a post labour world .
Automation costs have been dropping steadily, and there's likely an inflexion point where suddenly the costs of automation drop much faster relative to labour costs as volumes rise, capabilities and techniques improve. In a sufficiently constrained environment we already use robots - for example fully automated warehouses, or welding car bodies. 3D printing is revolutionising high end manufacturing, enabling people to make things quicker, cheaper, or to make things that simply weren't feasible to make before, and that could well be an important part of this change, as it becomes cheaper, better understood and more widely applied. The step change comes when it becomes practical to have semi autonomous robots doing jobs that currently we have to use people for - cleaning toilets, making burgers, assembling motorbikes. Tim mentions the idea of robots making robots, which is essentially this point.
"What we have is the "appearance" of a free market, nothing more. Shop around a bit (particularly in utilities) and the monopolies become obvious. "
You are Mad Ed Davey, and I claim my five pounds. Or you are a berk (or both).
Where there are monopoly assets (because the economics will not support duplicate infrastructures) you have government regulation of the monopoly. So that's the case of water, of electricity distribution networks, gas pipes, rail networks. These companies are very highly controlled by regulators like OFGEM, OFWAT and ORR. And that control isn't just price control, it's actually control of the investment levels, investment objectives, service levels, even the financing of the companies. I have spent many years working for regulated companies, and there's no free hand for managers or investors, no excess profits, not vast inefficiency, and no cartels. And the recent price increase in energy are not wholesale electricity market price rises (these have been stagnant, and nobody wants to invest in new plant), but because of global primary energy prices (the inputs), weakening exchange rates, and government impositions to pay for their stupid, useless renewable toys, and to create a duplicate welfare state through mandated company handouts to the officially poor.
Where there is the potential for competing assets, as in most telecoms, electricity generation & supply, or gas supply, then they have to pay the same for using the regulated monopoly assets, and there other costs will converge because being more expensive in a commodity market is not a sustainable position. They also use broadly similar technologies and suppliers, operate within the same environment and legal constraints, source money from the same capital markets, and offer the market similar levels of commodiity service. Everybody complains that they want better service from utilities, but when push comes to shove people won't pay for what they say they want, so there's little to choose between them.
This is actually a market that works. Now take mobile handsets, and there's a market that doesn't work. The costs of assembling a iPhone are near the same as those of a Nexus 4 or a Lumia 925. So why is the sim free price range from les than £200 to well over £400? Is that a market that works well for consumers? Lots of choice and a range of prices? Actually that's a market that doesn't work as well, because the use of brand and low tangibility differentiators keeps the market from operating as well, enabling Apple to make huge margins selling essentially the same phone as the other two mentioned.
"I only see a dystopian future ...."
What you describe is largely where we are now. What the article refers to is the upside of where we might go as even more blue collar and white collar jobs are automated, and presumes that society manages the transition from a world where most people have to work, to a world where few people work, and then out of choice.
You could posit that we won't manage the transition, and we arrive in an automated version of the mediaeval world, of many poor serfs, and few obscenely rich overlords, but as the turmoil in the Arab world shows (and the demise of the USSR before it), you might not get a clean and quick solution, but even with a police state you can't oppress people for ever.
"I'm not so sure that our diet is better, let alone considerably better."
But the choice is there. The fat proletariat may choose to live on salty, fatty burgers made with mechanically recovered meat, in fibre-free white bread rolls, swilling down litres of sugary drinks, but that's a choice they've made. As a society we have better knowledge of what we should eat than at anytime in human history, better information on what is in our food and how sustainably it is produced, and that food (both good and bad) is more affordable than ever before.
Healthy, sustainable food is not more expensive than pre-prepared meals or fast food restaurants, except for those daft enough to define healthy and sustainable solely as premium cuts of locally sourced organic meat, and matching organic veg.
Re: Deja vu
"And no, it did not increase the leisure time in Europe, unless you count being on the dole as such."
That's just an inequitable distribution of leisure, isn't it? But this is exactly what Tim is talking about - how do you sort out distribution of "stuff" in a low labour society? Even is we dismiss (as I do) the Malthusian doomists, we aren't all going to be able to live in a huge mansion on Malibu beach, so there does need to be some way that we control consumption of goods and work, and in this future we may be less concerned about the inequitable distribution of leisure than the inequitable distribution of work.
And although we could relatively quickly move to a low labour society, it isn't going to be a labour free society for quite a few decades. I could be wrong, but I don't expect computers to be doing "creative" stuff, which means that there's a few jobs for artists, designers, musicians, and a very small number of engineers (maybe even a few programmers). Will those jobs be paid, or will people pay to do them? How will humans cope moving rapidly from having to work to get what they want to a world of largely idle leisure? Many pensioners cope, and hardened career doleys, but will that suit the rest of us?
Re: There is a problem with that idea
"I have white socks on. I always have white socks on"
That earned you a downvote. And I'll be they're polyester towelling as well.
"This also included talking about elephants having a slower metabolic rate and their perception of time."
So if its down to metabolic rate, does Mo Farrah see the world around him in slow motion, whilst the FBs in McDonalds see the world as a speeded up video?
Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly
"Why swat when you can poison them and watch them die slowly?"
Because it's now very difficult to poison the beggars. When I were a lad, fly spray worked, and worked well. Nowdays you can only buy rubbish based on permethrin, which only works if you get a direct hit, hose it out of the sky, and then drown the victim in it. Personally I blame all the tree huggers.
Which leads me on to an interesting thought about bees, though: We've got all this doom and gloom about bees apparently due to residual pesticides, which we didn't have when farmers (supposedly) sprayed organophosphates all round with gay abandon. Could it be the permitted "less damaging" pesticides are worse than the things they replaced? I accept that organophosphates caused careless users to grow three buttocks and two heads, but that's a risk I'm willing to take if I can have fly spray that actually does what it says on the tin.
""For fast jets there's no good reason why the aircrew would have either any vision of the target, and certainly no requirement for unaided vision."
Yeah there is: Verification. If you're tossing live munitions in civilian areas, that's a DAMN good reason to put a Mk 1 eyeball on the target."
Ah, how romantic, the "Mk1 eyeball" . How do you think that a fast jet gets its target and hits it? Does Biggles look over the side of the Camel's cockpit, and work out if the people on the ground are civvies? Or those slo-mo replays of attack videos is how it actually looks for real? Of course not. A fast jet won't even be low enough to see people on the ground unless he's just doing a noisy fly past to impress the natives. The attack coordinates will come from ground controllers using intelligence and satellite data, or laser designators by ground forces, the pilot (or weapons controller) sets the weaponry up, and the weapons can be loosed without the pilot having to examine in detail what he's attacking. That's how modern warfare is, and that's why it doesn't matter whether the weapons platform is flown by a meatsack aboard it, or one wearing short sleeves in an office in Wyoming.
" but that costs a lot more and risks the life of the pilot"
Only from accidents. One of the defining aspects of the wars we've been involved in has been that our fast jets have been largely out of reach of the opposition's long range surface to air weaponry either because they never had any, or because preliminary missile strikes eliminated them.
Things are a different for the helicopters, but they are largely doing close support for ground forces, which isn't yet a role that drones have been proven in.
"The answer is simple, we should know how many people our Government is killing in our name. "
If you look, you will see that the military of both UK and US and other allies are careful not to release collated information on insurgent casualties. Partly because that's not good public relations, and partly because in the rather unreliable world of counter insurgency, the total to date of enemy combatant casualties is not reliably known. Even if it was it means little, but the raw numbers could easily be used to reach the wrong sort of conclusion.
For example: if there were an estimated 800 active Taliban fighters in a given district, and you think you killed 300 in a couple of years, how many are left? The answer is no idea, because jihadist reinforcements may have come or gone, local militia may have combined or splintered with the insurgents, non-combatants may have become radicalised and armed in response to Western or local government attacks, corruption or injustice. And the original estimate was probably wrong, as would be the guess of casualties.
Re: but why not?
"Good point, let's have a complete inventory. It's being done in our name, with our money, why shouldn't we know that it's money well spent?"
As you well know, the essential problem in the UK has been that defence money hasn't been well spent, because it got frittered on crap that either didn't work or never reached the front line, or arrived so late that the requirement had gone. And achievable measures, like properly armoured transport, or adequate helicopters have not been provided because there wasn't the money after spending billions buying hundreds of not very useful Typhoons, paying to build and then cut up Nimrods, paying to store Chinook Mk3s because we couldn't decide if our own spec was safe or not, etc etc.
Drones are cheap, they don't expose our servicemen to undue harm, and they are no more or less at risk of harming the innocent than conventional approaches to raining death on foreigners. So if we're going to start with an audit, we should first of all examine WHY we are involved, then examine why our people didn't have the right kit. Of course, we did have an enquiry into Iraq, but have you noticed that government have sat upon it?
I think we can at least all agree that the decision not to get involved in Syria was the right one.
Or alternatively, definitely not in the public interest.
On current technology drones are not autonomous, and so any drone attacks are no more or less of a matter of public interest than the actions (for example) of regular or special forces. Nobody is making a big demands to know what the SAS and their mates get up to in Afghan, so why fuss about drones?
For fast jets there's no good reason why the aircrew would have either any vision of the target, and certainly no requirement for unaided vision. There's no difference between a toss-bomb attack where a fast jet pilot neither sees nor is seen by the target, and a drone attack, where the weapons are controlled by a bloke in an air conditioned shed somewhere?
Is the argument that it is better to be killed by a missile fired from an aircraft piloted by a bloke in a sweaty flight suit, than by a white collar approach? In either case the target is only observed by the jet or drone jockey on a flat panel display.
Re: A bit of a rum do.
" If the attackee really kicks up a stink (and given that the EU has ambitions to subvert and replace NATO) this could prove really quite awkward."
I doubt it. These things are notoriously difficult to trace and prove, with much use of routing through middle of nowhere countries, and obfuscation of the code to include "pointers" to anybody you like. If you're a Russian programmer looking to write some APT code, then you could put some Chinese commenting in it, or fragments of known Chinese spyware, hoping that if detected people will blame China. Or you could add in known Russian spyware fragments in the hope that they'd assume that was too obvious, and therefore it had to be the Chinese. Or you could set it up to send some traffic to server with a domain known to be under the control of some other security service, even if the IP address has never been used... A million and one ways to avoid being caught, and to blame other people.
The EU does around $150bn of trade with the US, and has a $70bn a year trade surplus on the relationship - they can't afford to give that up. The EU is dependent upon Russian gas in winter, so they won't kick up a stink there. And the EU export €150bn to China, and import double that. Which leads me to the view that with limited proof I can't see the indecisive dullards of the EU taking decisive and exciting action on incomplete evidence, against a major trading partner.
Re: All too easy......
" All too easy........... to say "foreign spooks"."
As Belgium is home to NATO's HQ, one has to assume that the country's security services would be receptive to US "security" requests. But the links NSA/GCHQ and to Belgacom's Middle East assets seems speculative - the hacking doesn't (on the article's coverage) necessarily mean that the attackers were after access to that particular data flow.
Equally possible that it could be US commercial or political spying on the EU, and it could be Russian or Chinese spying on either or both of NATO or the EU. And yes, I know NATO won't or shouldn't be using the PSTN, but I'll wager that there's still plenty of useful intel that does go over public networks.
Re: Invariably wrong technical predictions
"Wearable computing will evolve into mainstream clothing which is even self-aware that it's been shoplifted, and can fill the evenings discussing life in its sweatshop roots with your smart underwear."
And the smart underwear will have powered louvres, that can detect an approaching hot, sulphurous fart, open the louvres and release the effluvium, thus dramatically prolonging underpant service life. A further benefit will be the reduced time-to-target of an effusion, and reduced attenuation of the aromatics.
Re: makes Judge Dred look almost desirable
" A good pub night is very relaxing."
You think on current trends public sale or consumption of alcohol will be permitted by 2023? When fags are finally banned, and a broad brush law enables any legal highs to be banned before they've even been invented (including electronic fags), the public health establishment will move onto alcohol. You've already seen the "minimum sale price" proposals, already in place in Scotland, and variably enforced bans on public consumption of alcohol. Then they start raising the price; that doesn't work either, so they establish a state monopoly to sell it; then they make home brewing illegal (so far we're only up to where Sweden was ten years ago or more).
Remember, they're only trying to protect your health.
Re: Why It Matters
" Windows 8 only allows *one* default browser for both environments. If you don't have a Metro version then users will eschew you in lieu of an alternate browser."
Only for those willing to be told to use Metro. Classic Shell stops me having to even see the Metro interface, and I really couldn't give a tinkers cuss whether there is a Metro version of Firefox. I know the arrogant tossers at Microsoft can keep trying to make it more and more difficult to avoid their shitheaded design, but ultimately I think that the future MS are crafting is one where home users decide that they don't need to use Microsoft products. But for running games, I'd be using Mint already.
Re: Global Insularism In a Global Market?@ Fluffy Bunny
"You're missing the main point, that as soon as people start opting-out, the filters soon become mandatory."
Well, IWF watchlists are already in effect a mandatory baseline filter for most ISPs in the UK.
I think the fuss will go away once the filters are in place, because the people who think this is a good idea will go back to promoting other illiberal ideas, of which there are many. For example, having all but banned smoking, expect The People Who Know Better Than You (tm) to move to outlaw smoking in public open spaces, and then they'll be on to clamping down on alcohol.
Re: Global Insularism In a Global Market?@ Don Jefe
"You can't have keep it both ways."
Well, you're from the country in which topless sunbathing is largely frowned upon and even illegal, yet which is home to the world's porn industry, and the same country that defends the values of democracy through the National (domestic) Spying Agency.
Worth noting that what is proposed is "only" an opt in system. I shall be opting out (a) to look at the sort of material the internet was invented for, and (b) as a matter of principle, because I don't want lightweights like our political leaders censoring what I read. But in some ways I think a default filter is probably a good thing for those not clever enough to either install K9 or other filters for themselves, or alternatively monitor what their kids do. The common challenge of "you can work round it" is no more valid than suggesting you shouldn't lock a door because locks can be picked.
Re: the irony
The irony is perhaps that the fools want to adopt an ERP approach, choosing to overlook how the Queensland Health payroll system reach a total bill of AUD 1.2 billion, despite (or because) of the involvement of global "experts" in the shape of IBM.
If that's what it costs for a regional health service payroll system, imagine how much the contractors will be able to ream out the national government for on this one. My guess is that the bill for a single public sector ERP will be greater than Australia's GDP.
Contractors! Start your billing engines!
Re: >Lynch reckons there’s much that his Autonomy expats can offer young British startups
"Like how to flog a $1B company for $10B? A most useful talent to be sure. "
I think you credit Mr Lynch with far too much. From where I sit, it's boo ***ing hoo for the retards at HP; Poor little darlings, exercised the full extent of their corporate brains, spent millions on "due diligence" on "advice" from law firms and investment banks, and then still got caught out by suspect accounts? Did they really know nothing about the accounting that goes on in ANY enterprise software company? Currently the shallow, lightweight losers that make up HP's board are trying to sue Autonomy and the advisers, but that seems to ignore the point about why HP's directors were prepared to bid so recklessly, because even if the accounts were correct, then they still didn't support the price that HP were so keen to pay.
No, matey, if HP paid over the odds, then EVEN IF THERE WERE FRAUD, then it's all still the fault of HP's useless, value destroying board, rather than any sales talent on the part of Lynch. If HP's board aren't clever enough to undertake effective M&A, then they shouldn't be pulling down their exceptionally fat salaries. I might say the same about Microsoft, of course.......
Re: punch card?
"I wonder how much it cost to put in this entirely pointlessly hi-tech clock in system, "
Not much I'd guess, given that the hardware is so common. If they do any audit or payroll of the time recording system, then chances are that the system will save money.
"the money saved on using something other than a bio-metric reader could have been spent on better work conditions for the staff, "
Why? Wages aren't defined by the employer's other costs nor on what's left over (that's what profit or loss are), it is defined by how much you have to pay in that locale given the other options available to the workforce. As an unskilled, grotty job, the underground cleaners wage will be as low as ISS can pay and sometimes have the workforce actually turn up.
Based on the observations of a family member who has worked on TFL contracts, I'd be unsurprised if many of the staff were not doing this as a second job on (in their eyes) essentially casual labour terms. And that's why the idea of some biometric proof would be most unwelcome, because of fears that this proof of identity will mean data being passed back to HMRC, affecting tax credits (or possibly even benefits being claimed). I think that assumes far more organisation on the part of the public sector than actually exists, but if I'm right, in the second job cleaner's shoes, I'd not want this. But tough - if they don't like it, there's plenty of other jobs in London they are at liberty to go and do.
Re: Nokia becoming more like M$oft@ Ian 7
"Windows Phone does actually run pretty well on low-spec hardware; that was one of its design goals from the outset."
Which surely was a pointless goal. All the money is made on premium handsets so that's where user experience counts, and buyers at the bottom end are unduly influenced by whatever is topping the charts.
Samsung tried selling cheap phones with a non-Android OS (I think LG did, too) and the market still turned to Android. We'll see how the cheap phones with Firefox sell - my suspicion is that neither Firefox nor Ubuntu will endure.
If MS are banking on the capability of WP8 to run well on landfill handsets, then they're saying that phone purchasing decisions are logical. If that's the case, then why have so many of the expensive Lumias come in Chad Valley colours, why don't they have replaceable batteries, and why constrain their phone UI with an opinion polarising tile interface, with each one of these choices further sub-setting your potential market? Indeed, why produce the technically impressive, yet comically coloured, zero-battery life, camel humped 1020 if you think that the buyers of cheap handsets simply want a fluid user experience?
"surely it would make more sense to try and get these handsets in the hands of as many people as possible, rather than erect artificial and unnecessary barriers to owning one of these?"
As a premium tech product they are banking on the fact that the market for these will regard swapping network operator as no problem in return for the latest gadget. WIthin the limits of reception I don't care who my network operator is - which for me at home means O2 or Toada, but for the sort of geeky urban professionals this is undoubtedly targeted at, they probably have fairly respectable coverage from all networks. Obviously there's some behind the scenes wrestling over subsidies, bundles and promotion commitments by the exclusive network, plus the appeal to the network of an exclusive, but for the makers look at history: Exclusive deals certainly didn't do Apple any harm, so the question may simply be how attractive WinPho is, how "killer" the camera is for users, and whether the price is right.
Re: Shunning Attention
"You know what elite group is comprised almost exclusively of ultra-wealthy industrialists who employ hundreds of thousands of faceless workers, have access to nearly unlimited technology and weaponry and also shuns public attention?"
I would suggest that the political, financial and industrial leaders of the US are far more effective super villains than anybody in China.
"Where "So much" equals about 8%. Not insignificant, but not the total ownership some like to paint."
In referring to the total, you miss the point. The cause of China's US debt ownership is the trade imbalance, and that has risen now to $30 billion dollars a month. The overall trade deficit of the US was less than $40bn in the last reported month, so China is (on a continuing basis) a huge creditor to the US. The reduction in US debt held by China over recent years also disguises the fact that previous treasury purchases have been sold and investments made elsewhere, and China has thus traded paper promises to pay by Uncle Sam for tangible assets in world markets. So it looks as though they've got less call on the US, in fact they've merely sold that call to somebody else, and they continue to accrue US obligations to pay to the tune of a billion dollars a day.
Re: What is left to do?
"What more could we possibly need? That hasn't been thought of already with phones?"
Well lots of things that are available but aren't brought together in any single package, so water proof, wireless charging, decent speakers, metal chassis, with removable battery and SD slot for expansion. Now add in the stuff we want that isn't on offer, so one week to one month battery life in a package the same size, a capacitive touch screen that doesn't shatter when dropped, high def voice calls. And what about really simple stuff like enabling the phone to mute during selected sleep hours, so that I don't need to turn it off or on (and indeed a much simpler alarm/clock interface). On the software side, way better DLNA software, ideally with a decent remote control app for the phone. What about making bonk to pay actually work, and secure? Really easy integration of wireless screens, keyboards, mice and trackballs, so that when I've got the space and inclination I can flip display content to a bigger screen, and use a keyboard to type.
And that's all basic, already obvious or already patchily available stuff. Seems to me that there's plenty of things to go at without being revolutionary.
"I'm sure there will be some who don't like the idea."
I most certainly don't. Partly because I don't do sufficient roaming to care (and there's a plan already working that is forcing roaming costs down), but mainly because the enthusiasts have missed the sting in the tail: new services will only be allowed if they don't interfere with "normal internet activity". Note that for brain dead euroregulators, "cloud" computing is included as an example of a new service, indeed IPTV has been with us for a few years now. If you want some overpaid, underworked political appointee in Brussels to decide what you're allowed to do with the web, to avoid supposedly inconveniencing the "normal" internet use of downloading torrents and p0rn, then you're welcome. In practice this will put evolution of the internet in treacle, and ten years hence Europeans will be whining that the Americans AND the Asians are so far ahead of Europe, and isn't it unfair that they have richer and more robust economies.
OFCOM's bad enough. Adding some further layer of state and superstate bureaucracy to the mix isn't going to make things either better or cheaper. And if you think that a European regulator will prefer the interests of consumers over the lobbying of industry, then you must have been asleep for the past sixty years.
Re: What problem is this attempting to solve? @GJC
"what problem is this attempting to solve that is important enough to throw away a decade or more of clever component packaging and miniaturisation for?"
BURN THE HERETIC! BURN HIM!
Around these parts most of us think it hugely clever to launch paper planes in space, to f@rt around finding improbable uses for Raspberry Pis, we love the idea of loons trying to reinvent the airship, or boffins playing with railguns to fire bricks at Mach 5, of geeks cobbling together disparate bits of code to cause areas of a screen to flash selectively, or the simple meccano-like act of assembling your own PC, and you, sir, you have the temerity to challenge the dream with common sense. A pox on common sense, say I.
"The phone from the ex-Nokia staffers that comes in two parts that can be slotted together."
Never mind Jolia, Nokia phones was a loss making module, slotted out of Nokia Corporation, and soon to be slotted into Microsoft's "acquisition disintegration slot". The same one previously and briefly occupied by aQuantive. And before that TellMe, Groove, Placeware, Massive, LinkExchange, Greenfield Online, Navision, Yammer.
Take your modular business, place it in the slot. Close the lid, announce to world + dog that great things will happen, press button, and Poooof! In a flash of light, hundred of millions, or maybe a few billion dollars of shareholder value are reduced to a few scattered sub atomic particles.
Re: No@ jb99
They are not using tablets or smartphones as computers. They are using them as media players and simple games consoles. They are not computers, I don't know why the press thinks they are.
Given the default messaging capabilities, the fairly high functionality inherent in any phone's music player, and the complexity in many games, I'm not sure why you can't see that a modern phone is a computer, and arguably is the democratisation of computing (certainly in access terms; in privacy terms perhaps less so).
What would your definition be? Something like this, perhaps:
com·put·er (km-pytr): A three part device. The first part is a beige box containing a little exercised but unfeasibly fast processor, located on a desk surrounded by old coffee cups, crumbs and sweet wrappers, takeaway food cartons, and out of date print outs that must obscure the input devices. The second part is a fingerprint besmirched display screen, which has only three states: Off; lines and lines of code; adult content. The third, and in many ways defining component is an unhygenic male operative slouched in front of the desk, whose conversation and social skills are indicative of mild to moderate autism. Optional extras include the operative mumbling angrily to passers-by using words like grep, starnix, buffer overflow, packet sniffing arf arf, and the like. The word "user" may be frequently uttered, but only if spoken with Rinzler's curled lip,embodying contempt and anger, to aurally imply the word is synonymous with "loser" rather than "yew-ser" which might otherwise imply appropriate employment of a tool.
Re: Saying nay
"Slimness is overrated IMO. There's no reason I should need to be able to shave with my edge of my smartphone. I'd rather have a device which feels steady in my hand."
I'll second that. All this nonsense of utlra slim phones simply means more opportunity for them to slip and get dropped, and half of them then have cases around them that doubles the thickness anyway. "Thin" looks good in marketing babble and possibly in the showroom. In the real world, I reckon there's a sweetspot for most people around about 9.5mm.
Can this proposal achieve that?
Re: Bring ALL the manufacturing back...
"Most jobs "lost" to outsourcing aren't coming back and will eventually be lost completely as automation takes over these jobs. "
Not soon, though. The sorts of manufacturing jobs we employ people for are, for the most part, suitable for state of the art automation, but the costs of automating are not economic by serveral orders of magnitude. For example, you could use a car welding type of robot to assemble burgers in a fast food outlet. But the cost wouldn't stack up. Likewise, most human work in manufacturing production is capable of being done by robots, but not at a cost the market will pay. Automation costs are dropping, and new technologies like 3D printing are coming along, but you're talking a long time before automation can replace ten-twenty dollar an hour production jobs in the US (or twenty dollar a month jobs in China).
So for the forseeable future the equation is about exchange rates, relative labour costs, transport costs and time to market. Where automation has had an impact is through the integration of previously discrete IC's onto the main processor, as SoC. And that's simplified the manufacture, and perversely made it possible to assemble in Western locations.
"Perhaps he could take Bono with him"
Wasn't this all a cartoon in Viz? If life is mirroring art, then Sting will be next, on a journey to the bottom of the Marianas Trench.
When we've proved the concept (and made sure these people don't come back) then perhaps we can start sending politicians. I'd like Clegg, Cameron, and that Millibloke to be fired at the sun in a cermonial start to the "production" operations.
Re: Legacy of Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd
"Equally accurate would be to say "Legacy of McKinsey""
Interesting you say that - I did think about mentioning how so many of the fads that HP's management followed (M&A your way out of trouble, Offshoring, BPO, "move into software, the water's lovely", etc) were probably influenced by wretched and useless management consultants, expensively peddling stupid ideas to directors who aren't big enough to say "no".
Indeed, when you look tound at floundering mega corps, all too often you find that they ignored their own people, hired some "blue chip" (Ha!) management consultants, and then let a bunch of highly intellectual yet inexperienced Ivy league or Oxbridge graduates come up with utterly stupid ideas like "matrix organisations". Which didn't work for Nokia, didn't work for P&G, didn't work for the mega corp I'm employed by, didn't work for Citi, didn't work for P&G, and evidently didn't work for HP. The lastest fad from these sorts of charlatans is the "Target Operating Model", in which people with no experience, no expertise in benchmarking, and no common sense tell the company how many people it needs to do the job, leading to more lay offs and further damage to customer service and reputation.
Should any of the readers of El Reg ever get to board level, remember that management consultants will buy you a very good lunch, but these people are your ENEMY. If you have organisational challenges, only you arnd your colleagues may get the answer, but never some bunch of spotty kids who have never done a proper job in their lives, and who won't be around when the resultant neglect of common sense, customers and the core business comes home to roost.
Re: Legacy of Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd
" HP still makes $1bn+ (net) per quarter and will not disappear anytime soon."
When a company starts heading south, changes can come suddenly. Looking at HP accounts, revenues, costs and gross profits are all almost exactly where they were five years ago. But over on the balance sheet, shareholders equity is worth a lot less, and debt is three times what it was five years ago, and back on the P&L, net profit is almost the same as five years ago, with the simple and unfortunate difference it now has a minus sign in front of it. On the cash flow, cash from operations has declined by about 8% year on year for five years, representing almost $1bn less cash being generated from the "real" business each year.
Dell will soon disappear from the markets. Given their appalling performance HP could well be next. Activist investors and PE houses will be watching with interest, and if the useless, useless HP board would care to look over the gunwales of their ermine trimmed lifeboat, they'll see fins circling their boat. The usual response of HP management to having their boat rocked is to throw a few thousand employees into the water, but as the operating cash and debt numbers show, the day of reckoning approaches.
HP will have to break itself up, or somebody else will buy it and break it up, and evictions from benchmark indices continue the weakening of HP. Whether the divisions can be made good standalone companies, or they will just be sold piecemeal to competitors I don't know. The printers business is not too bad in HP performance terms (although both consumer and enterprise printing products look crap to me), the server business is doing OK. But the PC division needs to spun off to its own fate, as does the enterprise services BPO business. They may as well exit "distraction businesses" like financial services and software, as these are too small to make a difference despite the better margins.
All of which would be to say that HP needs to go back to its roots in business IT and printing. The whole "me too" nonsense of trying to stay competitive in PC making through acquisition has been a failure, the "me too" attempt to build a software business has been a failure, and the "me too" attempt to build a BPO operation has been a failure. Enterprise IT services seem to be profitable, but like the printers, the user experience stinks. I don't think the HP board have the wit or the gumption to see any of this, and I don't think that they have the determination or skill to improve the server, IT services, or printers businesses, having long ago cast off the skilled people who might have made the future different.
Re: Rigid Airships have a place@ Don Jefe
"Transporting equipment by helicopter sucks and is only done because there are no other options."
Actually, its not done much at all except by the military, and the military do it because it is fast, doesn't require any landing strip, and when it does land it can do so on a pocket handkerchief, a small deck area, or a bit of road. And they aren't carrying 250 tonnes, they're carrying a few troops, or a few tonnes of cargo. Being able to despatch three main battle tanks via airship doesn't get you much benefit in Iraq or Afghan.
Airships with large capacity will be slow, they will require very large cleared areas for landing, and I'm not convinced that they will be much more stable than a chopper when the airship has a cross sectional area not far off the sail area of the Cutty Sark. Think about 250 tonne point to point loads, and as I see it there simply isn't the volume of traffic in the civil sector - how many nuclear power station reactors or the like are there to transport?
Re: it will probably be an expensive @ Jess
If your in England, your already in Europe.
Speak for yourself....
(And do watch your spelling when in pedant mode, it does detract!)
Re: it will probably be an expensive @ Boothy
"I think they would be more likely to compete with ocean going freight, "
I doubt it. Do the maths on the latest (and biggest) container ships, and you'll find you're going to need a lot of airships to replace a single ship. If we "go large" with the Maersk Triple E ships under construction, they carry 18,000 TEU, with a probable cargo weight of 180,000 tonnes. That's 720 of these airships, with a highly skilled crew of at least four or more (unless you land for crew changes). Obviously the airships travel at five times the speed of a ship on routes potentially half as long, but the Maersk Triple E has a crew of only 22. You point out that this would only be for intermediate loads, but where are they?
The reason many goods travel by sea is because the product cycles aren't fast enough nor the value high enough to permit air travel. And airships won't be materially cheaper. The challenge to sea borne containers is actually proposals to revamp the rail links across Asia, which exist but are slow and unreliable - but there's no will to do that, even though the time savings would be as great as your airship proposal, and the costs a lot lower. I doubt there's much mid merit cargo desperate for airship speeds - and in fact, if that's a problem, you move production closer to demand, rather than saving money moving where labour's free, and then paying loads to transport it back.
You posit point to point travel, but that's not going to happen for routine loads. Look at air traffic management systems, look at the volume of traffic carried by road - can you really see airships landing at you local Curry's? I can't.
Re: it will probably be an expensive @ Jess
"Traveling time would go up by a factor of 5, I guess. But space would not be an issue. You'd be able to walk around or sleep. England to Europe would be fine."
You must be American. I can already catch a train to Europe from the UK, on which I can walk around, and it runs at up to twice the speed of an airship. If I want to waste a few hours I could catch a ferry, and if I want to get there quick then jet is the answer.
Cost of the airship is quoted by the company as around $55m dollars for the 250 tonne lifter. That's around what the airlines pay for a 737 with a 20 tonne cargo capacity. Obviously if you want to carry 250 tonne loads to runway free locations, there's only one choice - but if you are carrying normal air cargo then the 737 (or more likely a cheaper second hand 757 refitted) beats it hands down because most people aren't transporting 250 tonnes at a pop, most people live near enough an airport, and most people don't want to wait for an extra day for their air mail or air cargo to be delivered.
Re: Rigid Airships have a place
"I would love to see commercial passenger travel using these, but alas, it will probably be an expensive boutique operation. Translation: I won't be able to afford it."
I suspect so. And I'd guess that the main cost problem will be the low productivity of the asset, caused by its slow speed. In the time this takes to get any reasonable distance, a conventional jet could have flow there and back twice including the turnarounds. Not only does that mean that the asset is less productive, but any crew will be similarly unproductive.
I'd love to see airships come back, but I can't see that they have any real advantages in any role other than perhaps high altitude unmanned surveillance (and the Yanks seem to have taken a good look and decided that's better done with conventional drones). Other slow endurance tasks (like maritime patrol) are probably ruled out by the need to fly in very poor weather at low altitude (and for military transport, it's too slow to be used other than outside of combat zones, which makes it a slow, inflexible, single purpose piece of kit. I don't see this supplanting C130s and A400M ever.
Something about that picture makes me think of Ghostbusters.
For the next photo shoot boys, stand the short one on a box, get his hair cut, and look serious.
Well done IBM
Having offshored tens of thousands of mid-wage jobs from the US and Europe, and delivered shite service at high cost to customers from zero wage overseas call centres, you now announce that this is a commodity business you no longer want a piece of.
Will this achievement be appearing in your corporate social responsibility report?
Re: That'll be news.
"It'd be interesting to be a fly on the wall in NSA and GCHQ over the next few months to see if there was a statistical drop in the number of important intercepts being made."
Why do you think they made any in the first place?
Re: I really don't understand this move@Doug S
"The only thing that would make me feel (slightly) more comfortable would be if I encrypt the data with a key only I have so it is delivered to Google already encrypted, and sent back to me still encrypted and I have to decrypt it to use it."
And how do you know that the encryption standard hasn't arleady been either munged by the NSA (with their hundred million dollar budget to do just that) to make it easily crackable, or they haven't found a flaw that enables the same outcome?
The only way to keep your data safe is to keep it yourself, off net. Even that can be compromised by obvious means, but in any net addressable storage you have to assume that encrypted or not, it's fully open to the National Stasi of America, or their GCHQ poodles. Chinese hacking now looks like the least of anybody's worries.
All in all a real pity. Just as the technology made cloud solutions smart, cheap solutions that enabled clever things to be done, and then the bad guys suddenly make it unwise to use for anything other than backing up family photographs.
Re: Let me see if I understand this
"At the end of the day, that's the aim of these high-level certifications: To make sure people can design and build complex systems and there's rarely a straight Yes/No answer.
Surely that is the challenge. As often as not, complex mutli factor analyses have a binary output - to invest, or not. To upgrade or buy new, To acquire or divest. Obviously the random strike rate on simple yes/no answers would be a problem, but by factoring in questions at decision points within case studies or problems, with mutliple possible answers, surely it is feasible to ask sufficient questions that the accumulative evidence enables you can sort the wheat from the chaff? Arguably that's all that happens at most interviews, and even then in an imprecise manner. As for "competency" interviews, what are they if not tick boxes?
How do I know that my CIO knows his stuff? Certainly isn't that he had to write an essay as part of his masters. Simply that faced with complex problems he has relevant knowledge to enable succinct and useful business actions or recommendations. If we're capable of having binary machines that can come within a country mile of pass the Turing test, surely the inability of exam setters to come up with machine markable answers is a reflection on them, not the concept?
Written exams all too often are simply an endurance test, serving best those who write fast and eloquently and have good recall - without doubt useful skills, but not necessarily the ones that the exam is supposed to be testing. I believe that it would be possible to set a paper with mutiple choice answers that only a very highly qualified technical professional could answer. There's no reason that you couldn't do the same for much of education, testing specifically for the skills you need, rather than using proxies like the quality of structured prose, or arithmetic ability.
"Their track record is laughable. They don't even regulate and protect Spectrum properly and someone expects them to understand the very much complex BBC?"
The most horrifying thing is that Richards got the sinecure as head of OFCOM on account of being Ghastly Blair's mate. Having led the weakest and most ineffectual regulator, completely messed up national broadband roll out, done nothing to keep (for example) telcos from ramping "fixed" contract prices during the contract term, been useless in stopping unwanted commercial calls, failing to call a halt to the crappy DAB roll out (or plan for migration to DAB+), failed to properly control BT Openreach (and arguably similarly failed to open up VM's last mile network), failed to lead a debate and plan for a post-license fee world etc etc. Even on postal regulation, OFCOM have bent over backwards to allow the PO to shaft customers with pricing arrangements that would never survive if there were any competition.
So having achieved less than nothing, whilst pocketing over £350k a year, this berk's name is now being considered for the next head of the BBC, despite this poor track record, and the fact that his CV suggests he knows nothing about programme making, entertainment, journalism, or "content" in any form.
"Not quite. You are allowed to leave up to 10% of the boxes empty if you vote below the line in the senate, and the AEC will still consider your ballot to be formal. As for other errors when voting below the line, you are allowed up to three breaks in sequence or duplicated preferences, unless it's your first preference, of which there must be one and only one."
By the sound of it, the Oz voting system is already complex and well ***ed. Why the fuss about proposals to make it worse? As with most "democracies", the end result flip flops between a couple of barely distinguishable major parties, who only ever act in their own interests and beliefs, and then seem to have a like mind on (for example) spying on their own population, unleashing a never ending torrent of poorly thought through legislation, and persistently failing to manage either the economy or the budget.
At least you've got mostly sunny weather, and Chinese commodity demand to keep the economy afloat.
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