2476 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
"Quite simple really - it's about abuse of monopoly. Seriously, the entire SEO industry is built around how a single company perceives websites - not a good place to be."
They don't have to use it. I can remember the years BG, when Alta Vista briefly ruled the search roost, before that Lycos. The current lack of competition (which affects the poor darlings of the advertising industry far more than it does users) exists not because of barriers to entry, because users are fickle (so are advertisers), but because the wannabe search engines, in particular Yahoo and Bing simply don't do it well enough, or in a manner that users want. Look at how, out of the pack, Windows 8 and IE default to the garish MSN/Bing home page, full of flatulent glittery rubbish that looks like a Geocities page from 1995, all full of movement and "news" that I don't give a shit about - four screen fulls of this ordure, desperately trying to appeal to anybody. Yahoo is even worse - vast flash banner adverts, crap like horoscopes, rubbish trending on twatter, etc etc, and even the UK Yahoo page is full of irrelevant small town US news. No wonder nobody uses Yahoo.
Google won't be around for ever. And even if nobody comes up with anything better, Google will probably engineer their own downfall anyway by over-reaching user privacy. And even then it won't be Yahoo or Bing that supplant Google.
Re: A stitch in time
"Making OFCOM it's own arbiter could go very wrong, very quickly"
But that's where we are already, that regulation is toothless and beneficial to the telecoms industry.
As a general rule the civil service are not very open to bribery, so I don't see the "envelope" argument as a big challenge (they're brown, not white, by the way). And you could say that the current system is open to financial persuasion in excatly the same way, you simply bribe different people.
Re: A stitch in time
"Scrapping them and splitting off their functions to other bodies should be a priority for the government!"
I work in a sector where the current regulator OFGEM is slated for closure and replacement by the probably inevitable next (Labour) government. In practice this means that we have a lame duck regulator who's going to do nothing for the next two years, and then a further two years (minimum) to design, legislate for the new regulator, and then recruit and get up to speed.
I believe OFCOM are a crummy and ineffectual regulator, but simply moving responsibilities to new bodies won't necessarily make those new bodies any better. Far better in my view to sack Tony Blair's placeman chief executive, and make the existing organisation work.
Re: A stitch in time
"That would put the rules in place first and any challenge would only be effective if it was found to be valid by the courts"
A good start, but I think they should go further: Simply make OFCOM (in law) the arbiter of its own rules. So they set the rules, they decide what they mean, telcos that don't like it can go play in other markets they like better.
What's the point of a supposed regulator that can't set regulations without somebody else deciding what they mean? As OFCOM are appointed and overseen by government there's no big deal to allowing them to say how their own rules should be interpreted (in fact this is largely what happens in other regulated sectors).
"There are batters in rounders, but that's a childs' game and need not detain us."
The same may be said of baseball.
Re: So thats about ...@Eradicate all BB entrants
" So you have eradicated all manual writing implements from your daily life?"
Don't be a twit. Nobody has mooted that people won't be taught to write in the forseeable future, the discussion is about the progression, and what is needed for educational purposes. Writing by hand is for most people slow and laborious - a few can write quickly and well, most cannot. My own handwriting is particularly poor. Perhaps you believe that learning by rote, and copying out long passages by hand is part of the learning process - I believe that slows down understanding and assimilation of knowledge.
"As for 100% reliant on technology? No one here is in a Wall-E inspired hover chair .... are you?"
Maybe you're posting from some remote village in Afghanistan, devoid of electricity, running water or modern communications, and wiping your @rse with a stone. If that's the case then you are certainly not dependent upon technology. But I doubt that's the case, and if you think we aren't 100% dependant upon technology simply because we don't have hover chairs, then you're a fool. The whole of Western society is utterly dependant upon technology, excepting a few crofters or smallholders. Without technology most of the readers of this forum would have no useful function in society other than manual labour. Our food supply chain, our financial system, our healthcare, our communications, our energy supply, and even a good proportion of our entertainment all are 100% dependant upon technology. There's tiny bits around the edges would still work, but when the electricity or communications links to the systems break down, then there's no manual back up other than at the peripheries. How do you think 70m people survive on an island that can only feed about half that number from its own resources? Because of international trade in services, and an advanced food supply chain that spans the globe, both only possible through technology.
Re: So thats about ...
"What happens when the battery has failed while the kids are in class"
The same argument that says "the autocar will never replace the horse and cabriolet, because the autocar is short in range and relies on petrol in a tank".
We are 100% reliant on technology, and readers of this site really ought to understand that.
Re: So thats about ...
"Learning to write with a pen or pencil is part of the basics, as well as being able to read what you have written."
Funnily enough, when I drafted my response, it included a paragraph commenting on the dying need for handwriting. If handwriting were so important than there would still be a demand for novels written by monks in illuminated scripts. Funnily enough that's not evidenced.
The reason most (but not all of us) learned to write with a pen is because there wasn't any alternative. You will note how the quill got replaced with the pen, the pen by the ball point. The ball point is next to go.
Re: So thats about ...
"I still think writing implements and books would help more"
So, the Commentariat on one of the world's premier (well, ish) tech news sites reckon that technology is inferior as a teaching aid to old fashioned paper and quill pens?
I disagree. A tablet (even if short lived) will give a kid access to a complete world of information that they'll never get in some dusty, out of date textbook. And whilst Youtube may not be the same as doing the experiment yourself, it's a zillion percent better than the probable alternative of not seeing the experiment on Youtube AND not seeing or doing it in the classroom. There's also some cool and free educational resources out there that give people access to alternative teachers (eg the Khan Academy) far better than they're likely to find in the village school. Or publicly open resources that can be mined to improve standards, such as the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching.
Some people have suggested Android because its cheaper. That's true, but there's the significant security gap between Apple and Android that makes Apple a better (admittedly not foolproof) bet to hand to kids. And the logical extension of the low cost path is the Indian government's Akash tablet debacle, where they're trying to push lacklustre low spec Android tablets to their schoolkids - which do you think will be a better learning experience: an iPad mini, or a 7 inch low spec slug running a forked version of Android tied to a non-Google app store?
And then we come to the "kids will only break it". Certainly spoilt Western kids manage that. But I'll wager that in poorer countries kids are more grateful and more careful, particularly as there's unlikely to be a free replacement paid for by the parents. Word will soon get around when Kemal breaks his tablet and has to share somebody else's, or use chalk and slate.
I'm all for this, I think the Turkish government are thinking in the right direction, and I think it can only benefit their kids. Meanwhile, those casting aspersions from UK shores should consider that the height of this country's attempts to combine IT and education amount to teaching our kids to produce lurid but fact-free presentations in Microsoft Office. Curiously enough, my eldest attends a very successful independent school, and they are moving to a digital learning programme based on guess which fruity tablet?
Re: only ... two network coverage footprints to choose from
"But the footprints will generally, and points above not withstanding, give better coverage"
Not by much, because the networks have all avoided areas of low mobile use, so the current situation is not mutually complementary coverage, but rather massively overlapping coverage. All the sharing does is some marginal reduction in operating costs that most certainly won't be passed on to you or I. O2's recent price hike shows their position on keeping costs down for customers.
Re: different frequencies
IME that's fairly unusual - I've always found Orange and T Mobile reception moves in tandem (even before mast sharing), and likewise O2 and Vodafone. There's a few individual spots where that doesn't hang true, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
Re: Welcome to Toyland!
"Big Ears Gates is stepping down...."
Only to a degree. He's still got an official status within the firm, and so his presence will linger on like a foul guff in a warm lift. You know the ones, hot, silent messengers of death, capable of turning the silvering of mirrors black, and guaranteeing that the lift will stop at the next floor for an attractive young colleague to get in the lift, and instantly give you the evil eye for crimes against humanity, before escaping to tell everybody what a beast you are (gentlemen, you've all been here).
And that's bad news for the new guy. Not only does he have a new chairman breathing down his collar, but he's got Gates hanging around, responsible for nothing, but telling him what he should do. I suppose it depends what shareholders want. If they want Microsoft to reinvent itself, Gates should go, Nadella shouldn't have been appointed, nor any other insider. If the shareholders just want MS to remain a cash generating cow hoping that nobody will take away the enterprise software market, then he should stay. But expecting not just one, but a gang of insiders to be revolutionaries is daft - all these people were complicit in the failure of Microsoft to evolve. And Nadella's got the toxic Elop hanging around, spurned for the top job, hoping Nadella will mess up, and that Elop can squeeze his backside into the sweat-stained leather throne. That's no recipe for success. A question then: Will Elop last long enough to watch Nadella crash and burn, or will Elop be pushed out, or even flounce off in a strop because he didn't get to be big cheese?
This doesn't sound like a recipe for success to me, but maybe the people who made the appointment are right - taking a view Microsoft will never evolve to put customers first, so why take the risk, when you can just sit and count the gold for the next five to ten years.
Re: Whats ...
".... the broadcast code for "Move aside. An El Reg reader is coming through.""
What about a flashing brown light?
"muahaahah, that should wake up some slow left lane clowns"
Left lane is where the slow clowns should be. That's why it's register.co.uk
Re: "there's precious few able to understand the blinkered perspective of Tom 7
"Some of us paid attention at school and university. And still like to learn. And if we've paid for it already there's no reason why we should pay for it twice"
You arrogant twerp. I do have a science degree, and a masters to boot, but obviously I take my hat off to polymaths such as yourself, able to divine the true meaning and signficance of any research paper in any field, recalling every single thing you were taught in university. And of course, you're quite right to ignore the wider and less well-educated audiences than self-proclaimed experts such as yourself.
However, I must confess I did enjoy your post, which managed to be both pompous, and yet at the same time to be infused with a sad, bitter, lefty tone.
"Every tax payer should have access to *any and all* research which is even partially funded by the tax payer"
At the moment I have to ask why? Most scientific research is readily accessible to the scientific community, and outside of it there's precious few able to understand the content of research papers. An interesting idea would be to require publicly funded papers to have (in addition to the normal scientific abstract) an "intelligent layman's summary". Some research scientists might find that writing for that audience is a bigger challenge than the research itself.
"As an extension to this, any patent or invention created as the direct result of public funding would also belong to the public (at least partially)"
An attractive, even populist move. But in the shorter term most universities do already seek to benefit from commercialisation of their research. Arguably they tend to see this too narrowly, and miss out on the benefits of prior research that (at the time) didn't have an obvious commercial application, or which do not give rise to a patent, but you can't patent the outcomes of all research.
Re: Accountant wars
"Profit and loss in the 'old' days seem to be such simple concepts, but now they seem to exist in a parallel universe."
Rose tinted spectacles you're wearing there! Corporate accounting fraud goes back as far as we've had companies and accounts. Polly Peck, BCCI, Enron are only a handful of non-tech companies that went "pop" on the back of made up numbers. Going back much further, read the first few lines of the abstract of this:
Arguably the South Sea Bubble was accounting fraud, which takes us back to the early 1700's.
The origins of the UK audit firms goes back to the need to verify accounts and prevent fraud. This works only to a limited degree, and today is made substantially worse by the corporate nature of the audit industry, cosy and long term relationships between companies and auditors, and a greater incentive to rubber stamp a company's accounts than to uncover fraud.
Re: Autonomy reported profits of £105.7m for fiscal year 2010, The real profit was just £19.6m
"Plus $105M profit on $175M turnover, how come no-one called BS on that?"
In the world of software and intellectual property that's possible. Whilst Autonomy's business was different, consider the case of a packaged office software suite, which the code owner sells to distributors at say $150. Once they've paid for the development up front, the marginal cost of producing each new sale is the cost of a cardboard box and an installation disk (if you're lucky).
In the consumer world you've got big marketing costs and fat overheads, in the B2B world they are generally far lower. I used to work for a B2B software house (not Autonomy) and our gross margins were huge, our corporate overheads minimal, our marketing budget tiny.
Curiously enough the firm I worked for's accounts were crooked, directors fraudulent, and the firm (with turnover in excess of £100m) managed to go bust on the back of debt fuelled acquisitions, despite being the largest UK company in its field, and one of the largest in the sector in the world, with a roster of blue-chip customers. Few large software companies develop their own code from scratch, they buy smaller more innovative companies, and that means a continual trail of more (or generally) less successful acquisitions, over-hyped, over-priced deals, shed loads of debt, and both sides of the deal trying to ramp up the importance of the acquired company and its product. That's the world of software, IMHO, and it's why big companies make bad deals, and often fail to deliver on the promise of the acqusition.
HP are guilty of both gross negligence in their due diligence, but also of failure of their duties to shareholders by overpaying so outrageously even on claimed profits. And strategically they are guilty of incompetence by having no realistic plan to deliver value from the acquired business, and of strategic malfeasance by their failure to learn from their own past mistakes, or those of others in the industry.
HP bought EDS, but the parasite has now taken over the host, and HP is not in my view a technology innovator, not a software house, just a lard-bottomed, poor quality outsourcer making big promises to customers that (to judge by the unhappy experience of my current globo-corp) HP cannot deliver on, despite high outturn prices. Given those opinions, I wouldn't expect them to make a success of M&A, but it's important to remember that M&A is the last refuge of scoundrel directors, seeking a smokescreen to hide their inability to run their existing business.
Re: 8.1 and 8 should be grouped together@ Test Man
"8.1 is not a service pack for 8, it's a totally separate OS, evident by the fact that you install it like a new OS, you get upgrade screens like a new OS, etc."
So in your world the definition of a unique operating system is the user experience of installing it?
Microsoft certainly dressed up 8.1 as more than a service pack, but comparing before and after I see virtually no difference, other than a function and use-free start button. If that defines a discrete OS, then you are very easily pleased.
Re: Cash registers etc.
"They will be using XP Embedded and are NOT affected by the desktop EoL"
Not all, I'm afraid. There's plenty of EPOS systems running on desktop XP, particularly away from the big chains. And even if you're a big chain running XPE, how safe are you when the s0ddin' EPOS system is written in Java?
Re: If there was any doubt@Mike Smith
"Now, I don't claim to be an expert in political analysis...."
Well you're setting out a stall for some form of analysis. I think your "rule 1" falls at a fairly early hurdle because a very large proportion of people don't vote because the three party system is so broken that they can't see the point. That's not going to change any time soon.
And looking at your parliamentary analysis, the outcome of your hoped for "50% of refuseniks to vote" would simply have been a Labour led coalition including the Liberals and a handful of other generally left wing parties. Would that have been any better? I doubt it. It would have been worse because all the damage that Blair and Brown inflicted would have gone ahead, and then you'd have "golden wish" gifts to the minority members. That sort of "golden wish" shit is why Germany is carping on at the rest of Europe over carbon even as it shuts down good quality, safe nuclear power plants, and tries to ignore industry screaming that it can't compete with the ludicrous energy prices.
So I come back to why UKIP makes sense. For both parties, they've ignored voters concerns about immigration and about Europe for too long, and they still won't do anything about either. Clearly the drippy conservative leadership are not listening this time, but maybe they will after a further five years on the house of commons cheap seats. The Labour party might want to also consider who they claim to represent, because they are in a similarly poor position, and currently look set to win the next election simply by not being the current government.
If in the meanwhile we have a bit of colour added to the otherwise drab, ineffectual house of commons, that has to be a good thing.
Re: If there was any doubt@Mike Smith
"Nigel Farage will lead us out of the darkness! Viva il Duce!"
What options are there?
Not voting achieves nothing because there's no de minimis or quorum of voters that has to be achieved to elect MPs. The three main parties have all shown themselves incompetent and dishonest, with a happy enthusiasm for treating government as a trough at which they take turns, and there's precious little to choose between their policies when you stand back. Voting for that rubber faced champagne socialist Millitwat will leave us with the same policies as the current lot, just with some Canute style window dressing on energy bills, and the usual Labour enthusiasm for more laws, more red tape, and higher public spending. Liberals have shown themselves as only fit to be a minority opposition party. And there seems to be universal agreement that Cameron is an unelectable, out of touch arsehole. All three parties routinely make promises that they don't deliver on, all three are big-state enthusiasts who think mass surveillance is the best thing since their last pay rise.
Farage may be a loon, and I can't see UKIP winning many seats. But by voting UKIP I hope to (collectively) deny the Conservatives victory until they have policies I will be happy with, and a leader who isn't an arse.
Re: If there was any doubt
""it is a dangerous world and there are bad people that want to do terrible things to us"!
"terrible things to me" was what the knob end meant. I suppose I am indeed one of the "bad people", but primarily on account of my intent to vote UKIP.
Re: If there was any doubt
I don't know. My money's on stupid, because that's consistent with his obsession about foreign aid, and his persistent attacks on anything that might be termed core conservative values or voters. I suppose that's what you get by electing rich boy Oxbridge twats for you party leader,
I'd like the see the smug rich fucker burned at the stake.
Re: And so the "feature" creep begins
"WTF wants this in their car?"
Presumably anybody with a nice enough car to justify (or consider) paying £300-£800 for a Tracker installation. With Tracker you might get your car back, but only after the crims have thrashed and crashed it trying to escape the police. Remote stop works much better.
For the people (like me) driving old shit heaps or cheap everyday cars, there's less call for it. Regarding feature creep, consider what the police will think, when they can automatically disable cars if they aren't taxed, MOT'd or insured. Will that be a good thing or not?
Re: How secure is it?
And you haven't even mentioned the total lack of control in the process for writing new magnetic keys, issuing to customers, or dealing with room changes (and even avoiding double bookings). I've been issued with key cards for a room that the hotel have already given to somebody, where they've gone to the room, used their keys, are in residence, and are then very surprised when we walked in, using our key. In trying to sort this out, the hotel managed to invalidate their keys, book us into a new room which the keys they gave us didn't work, but the people we'd walked in on, their keys now worked for our room. A shambles (hello, Marriott), which proved that magnetic keys provide very little security even before criminals get involved.
"Language isn't maths and doesn't work like maths".
Rubbish. That's like saying that two wrongs don't make a right, when they clearly do.
Given that pedantry is high art round these parts, I think the linguistic pragmatists are on a hiding to nothing, and should accept that "unique" is a concept that is absolute.
Re: "Anybody who has anything to do with RBS or Natwest..."
Yo Jedit! We've a couple of downvotes apiece. Do you think our comments were too complex to be understood, or is it that there's a couple of banker-huggers around these parts?
If it's the latter we need a witch hunt to catch some bankers, and then treat them to original Spanish Inquisition treatments. Of course, it may be simply that RBS have taken a leaf out of the Young Liberals' Book of Lost Causes, and have got their social media team registering to down vote anti-RBS posts.
Re: Anyone Surprised at NitWit Bank
"It might help if the staff were trained."
Don't forget Gnatwest are part of Royal Bank of Scotland, so the most likely training would just be three part group wide training in Greed, Dishonesty, and IT incompetence.
The latest set of RBS group writedowns show that they were still lying in the previous set of results about their dodgy lending, we know they were part of the cabal that rigged LIBOR, there's good reason to suspect their Global Restructuring Group is as bent as 3 bob note, they've just set aside ANOTHER £3bn to fund PPI mis-selling, there's half a billion of provisions for mis-selling interest rate swaps to SMEs, £100m for miselading US investors on sub-prime investment products. Then there's the mis-selling of identity theft insurance. Going back further we had the 1980's pension miselling, endowment mortgages....Philip Hampton has already said he'll be asking the shareholders (the poodles at UKFI, presumably) to rubber stamp 200% bonuses for some staff. A cynic might think the only question to ask is "What form of mis-selling or fraud is their bonus for?"
Anybody who has anything to do with RBS or Natwest is voting with their wallet for the crooks who run this operation to be rewarded. If they haven't investigated the new fast account switching service with a view to banking elsewhere then they deserve this kind of service.
Re: Of course costs multiply
"Crisps cost a multiple of what potatoes do"
They do insofar as total price is always a multiple of cost of sales, but I think you mean the sale price varies with what you think is the primary input. And in that respect you'd be wrong. Walkers use 800 tonnes of potatoes to produce 11m bags a day, if the average price they pay is £400 a tonne (which I doubt) then that's 3 pence per bag that goes on tatties.
Production process, distribution, marketing and packaging are where the costs are. Anything other than Stackers is expensive to transport (because you're paying to deliver a bag of air, and high ratios of packaging to product). Any brand spends a fortune on advertising (shop at Aldi, you know it makes sense). And anything in a nice packet will see far more spent on the quality plastic/foil and high grade printing than what goes inside.
"Take the headphones in the example, is there really any benefit in printing 3 the hard plastic and rubbery plastic components at the same time instead of just printing multiple parts and assembling them?"
At the moment no benefit in prototyping, and not a cat in hels chance of being used for manufacturing. But thinking forward to a real world manufacturing situation you'd need to balance the reduced part count of a 3D printed object against the multiple supply chains and assembly steps to create the object as per normal. 3D printing is a technology in its absolute infancy, and costs should come down and capabilities increase, which will see it move to the norm for prototyping, and eventually to be a contender for manufacturing - perhaps not the full finished part, but certainly making inroads on the way things happen now.
There's also the fact that 3D printing can produce designs that cannot be made by normal machining or injection moulding. BAES are working to get 3D printed parts certified for aircraft application, and they can produce prototypes of suitable parts quicker than any competing approach, and then go from the prototyping machine that uses plastic to metal parts on a production machine. The resultant parts are lighter, stronger and although having (for example) two hinged halves and a hinge pin are still only a single component. That isn't evidenced in the sort of simple example shapes we see here, which reflect how things are made now. But take the headphone shell, and consider the headband, ear piece shells and cushions - why are they made up of so many different parts now? Simply because we struggle to do composite moulding of this complexity with materials that have the necessary and differnet properties.
3D printing will probably only remain one approach of many, but it has the potential to be the next revolution in manufacturing, as significant as CNC machining was thirty years ago.
Re: No issues on iPhone?
"Seems that this is only an issue for Google/Android users then?"
What do you think? But even if you weren't cynical you could ask Der Speigel, who had an article just before Christmas reporting that the NSA had the iPhone completely cracked back in 2008. Do a search on Speigel iPhone Appelbaum.
Bwahahahahhahahahahhaha! (As we used to say back in Usenet days).
The Twenty Eighth Amendment says: Now wash your hands.
Have you not noticed, the rules don't apply to the government? Out of curiosity (being on the right hand side of the Atlantic) how is all this being received by the wider populace of the US? You have a government and its agencies drunk on their own unaccountability, and on the new opportunities for monitoring the masses, and the only two practical choices you have at the ballot box think this situation is just dandy. Is there mogadon in the drinking water, or something?
Re: Dear Banks@ Pen-y-gors
"I don't entirely agree - a large proportion of personal customers in the UK don't actually pay for a current account (okay, charges for overdrafts etc) but basic banking is free. Once this was funded by the fact that they didn't pay interest on current accounts, but with interest rates at zero they don't have any income to pay for the services."
Let's stop for a moment and consider why interest rates are so low. Would it be the fault of the self same banks bleating they've no money, whose reckless lending meant the state had to bail the thieving scum out in the first place, accompanied by QE and near zero interest rates?
If they have to provide "free" current accounts at a loss for a few years, simply because their collective greed, incompetence and dishonesty wrecked the whole system, then I say tough luck. If they don't want to do retail banking, then let them close or sell their high street branches.
Re: Why renationalise BT? @Tom 7
"But ignoring the fact that BT threw our future out with the bathwater can you tell me one of the big utility privatisations that has actually reduced bills for the customer?"
Having worked for the water industry during the 1990s and managed a multi-hundred million investment programme, and now working in the power sector I can help you out on both topics:
The dynamics are different by industry. Water privatisation occurred because (a) the operations and investment arms of the regional water authorities were incompetent and hugely inefficient, (b) the same public sector organisations had allowed the network infrastructure to rot, such that renewal was happening slower than the network fell to bits, and (c) government didn't want to foot the huge bill for (largely justified) EU water quality improvements. Your bill certainly went up, but operating costs (like for like) came down massively, we got to a point where network decay and renewal moved into rough balance, and the government didn't have to borrow the billions I was busy spending on water and sewage assets.
In the case of power, the inefficiency existed, and was addressed over a decade of redundancies (we're back in that part of the cycle now in response to all the ill informed whining about the cost of energy). There was a need for some asset renewal (replacement of the older less efficient coal plant by CCGT, the original "dash for gas". And your costs did come down, year on year from 1991 through to 2003, when government got bitten by the "green" bug, which led to prolonged, continuing and accelerating pressures on your energy bill to pay for windmills, carbon taxes, rebates for the poor and elderly, insulation on the homes, sometimes on real bill payers homes, but largely targeted at the Labour voting poor.,
See chart 2.1.2 in the link below for the evidence on cost.
But that unfortunately coincided with the start of the mid noughties boom, and the emergence of China as a force to affect world commodity prices, so that on top of green meddling there was real sustained increase in the price of gas and coal (see chart 3.2.2)
"it's not true that we don't have a credible aerospace sector - Rolls-Royce and a very significant share of Airbus manufacturing, plus the largest manufacturer of satellites outside the US. And that's just the civil stuff."
You're right. Well, insofar as we make the wings for AIrbus. As Airbus is effectively French state controlled (with a nod to the Germans) the continued wing construction at Broughton has to be considered as not a safe long term bet - I work for a European owned company, and (unlike British managed companies) they are remarkably parochial. They'll never adopt a best in class solution if there's a third rate one on offer in their home country, and if something good is being done in a foreign part of the business they'll replicate it (often badly) at home, and then centralise, closing the efficient and innovative part of the business down, because they couldn't bear to do it the other way round.
Rolls Royce I'd take my hat off to. Satellite building - good stuff, but actual job numbers and income will be small relative to the rest of the economy.
But that does lead us onto defence and BAES. They seem unable to put an aircraft of their own in the sky other than as vast Euro-boondoggle programmes with huge cost over-runs and delays. The best they can do is the three country money pit that as the Eurofighter Typhoon, meanwhile Sweden (with a population barely larger than Greater London) put the Gripen into the air without having to involve every other major European economy, and with far smaller cost overrun issues.
I'd like it to be different, and for our fantastic industrial and aviation heritage to be evidenced today, but I see no sign of it. If BAES weren't such a lard arse state-suckling mess, they might have thought about the need for a competent strike fighter in time for when the Tornadoes, Jags and Harriers were retired, and built the prototype at their own cost and without the incompetent bungling of the MoD to muck it up.
"Why not just nationalise the bloody thing again and get on with it."
You're obviously too young to remember what a success nationalisation was. It's a major part of the reasons why we don't a British owned volume car maker, why we don't have a credible aerospace sector, why the railways have barely gone beyond the network built by private Victorian companies, and indeed why Britain was for so many years the dirty man of Europe due to poor management of the publicly owned water authorities through the 70s and 80s. And when the energy sector was publicly owned, it became a huge make work scheme to keep miners employed digging out coal at much higher cost than could be bought on the world market. The miners and public sector management wouldn't modernise, and eventually we were left with no coal industry, thanks to berks like Scargill (not to mention the power station workers forcing the economy onto a three day week in the 1970s. I remember eating tea by candlelight in the socialist utopia of 1970's Britain.
If you want to see how your proposal might work out, look at the energy sector today. Although the capital is nominally privately owned, you've actually got a stealthily nationalised decision making process: Incompetent public sector processes and bureaucrats decide what assets you can build where and when, whether you have a licence to operate in the "market", the rules of the "market" for power, where and what the subsidies and taxes are (all in the name of the FoE energy "policy" of the present and last bunch of twats in Parliament). Even as people struggle with the concept of a "capacity gap" that might lead to blackouts at periods of peak demand, consumers are bleating at high energy prices, yet the generating companies are taking thermal capacity out of service because it is losing money now that DECC have buggered up the system to channel all the money into wind farms and the like.
BT is grim, anti-competitive, and towards the very back of the list of organisations I'd give my custom to, but a nationalised telecoms industry would be even further back in that queue.
Re: Mass Surveillance
"so what would you do?"
Well I'd have been realistic. Failure of existing systems enabled 9/11. That should be fixed, but instituting a new, vast automated system wasn't a fix, and never will be. Mass surveillance couldn't even stop the amateurs behind the Boston bombings (despite the Ruskies waving a red flag at the US authorities to alert them). The Times Square bomber, the shoe and underpant bombers were all foiled in their intentions by their own incompetence, not by the expensive and ineffectual NSA+GCHQ. A broadly similar situation exists in the UK over terror attacks and attempts here that the mass surveillance loved by bureaucrats has stopped nothing, and ordinary policing, luck,or incompetence of the attackers has been the main ways they've been stopped.
Unfortunately, Obama and Congress (and the British parliament) have shown their true colours. They like mass surveillance, they won't condemn it, they won't stop it, and they don't care what the public think. Unfortunately, mass surveillance will evolve as some clever but misguided fool decides that he can code a system that will predict who becomes a terrorist. Two years ago if I'd mentioned Minority Report in this context I'd have been classed as a tin foil hatter. Knowing what we know about the NSA, and its links to the tech industry, and watching how the likes of Google track everything you do to predict what you'll buy, it seems pretty obvious that soon (if not already) innocent people will be labelled by an algorithm that brings together their opinions from online activity, emails, their contacts via email, Linkedin, Facebook, their purchase and travel history, what they read, their choice of news articles they looked at on the internet. And equally, people who are guilty as sin will be overlooked because such a system is flawed.
To put it simply, mass surveillance is a means of repression. There is no evidence of its successful use for real, democratic security, and plenty of evidence of scope creep and use by the wrong people for the wrong reasons. We expect this sort of behaviour from the Chinese and Russian governments, and we expect it to be used against the people.
The NSA have done untold damage to the international reputation of the USA, and fiddling around with "oversight" of their activities (which would still be done by the 1%, behind closed doors) doesn't deliver. So what would I do? I'd abolish the NSA as it now exists, and hunt down those allowed or who planned for it to become a data scooping Stasi, and I'd punish them. Oh, and I'd grant an unconditional pardon to Snowden and Manning, and award both the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As things stand that gong is probably being awarded to the highly paid, unaccountable bloke running the NSA. Is that what America stands for today?
"The play store lists neither the screen res or the cpu speed."
You could go to a library, and look them up in a copy of PC Pro? Or ask a knowledgeable friend to look it up on the internet for you?
Re: Tees and mugs?
"these would of course have "Something for the weekend, Sir?" written on them."
On the inside, in that transfer ink used for temporary tattoos. That'd look magnificent along the length of my boner. Although on second thoughts, maybe "Something for the weekend, Madam?" might be better, to avoid creating the wrong sort of impression with the wife.
Maybe offer both terms, all in the interests of pandering to the "diversity" fad?
Re: "without contributing to its upkeep"
" I think you'll find they do contribute by providing jobs"
And business rates. In broad brush terms a third of corporate taxes come from each of corporation tax, employer's NI, and from rates. The proportion raised by corporation tax declines still further if you choose to take the view that the employees' taxes are only created by virtue of the company's existence and activity. You could water that down further by including VAT, but I think that would still accrue from other spending choices if (say) Amazon weren't in business.
As ever, the problem is one of arsehole MPs doing some grandstanding for a bit of cheap publicity, when they are the root cause ot the problem (if one even exists). What Podge is forever whining on about can be summed up as "Big clever companies are adhering to the laws my party made, and the 1,000 odd pages of the companies act we rubber stamped without reading, and in doing so they're not paying what I think they ought to".
"Not really sure why people buy the Samsung handsets - at the low end they are ok but the high end seem over priced - my Moto G is a good handset and can see no reason to pay a lot more for a S3/S4? Suspect others are realising this as well."
As a Samsung loyalist, with a small family fleet of the things, and a works Sammy to boot, I'd beg to differ. From my experience the cheaper Sammy's are not a good ownership experience, including the "mini" versions of the high end models.
The full fat S2/S3/S4 were/are all excellent, and there's some excellent deals on S3's at the moment, presumably because they hope mugs will buy the S4 and the S3 is on run-out. And it's with the undiscounted premium models that you're correct about the cost problem. The S3 was pricey but still just manageable before it was discounted, but the S4 is simply too expensive to keep the momentum up. Added to which, the S4 doesn't really offer enough over the S3. I suspect the S5 will struggle for the same reason compared to the (presumably) discounted S4 models. If they make it bigger it becomes a Tab, and there's so many bells and whistles on the S4 that its difficult to see what they can add, other than some generational improvement in the camera, pointless acceleration of the processor.
I can see where you're coming from on the MotoG, but the S3 has a better screen, better camera, removeable battery and the opportunity to boost storage with an SD card. By my maths I'm paying about £170 for the S3 and the balance for my airtime (compared to the lowest comparable SIM free deals, albeit I';d get more minutes and data than I use). A Moto G will be around £140 or a tenner cheaper if you buy from a third party, although you get a shorter warranty of a year. Personally I chose the S3, but I think the continued high pricing is a key reason for the (fairly modest) problems of their phone division.
I suspect as well that the handset market is where the PC market was back in 2006/7 with the launch of Core 2 processors and flat screens for all. Unlike before, the machine still did what you wanted after a couple of years, and you didn't need to upgrade - nor even two years after that. Apple have luckily condiitoned their customers to pony up for a new handset every eighteen months at top dollar, with fairly lacklustre improvements model on model - as a result of which they can still go large, which is a card Sammy have already played. And even if the fanbois is happy with the technical performance of his phone after two years, most will think it worth upgrading because the battery performance will be down to 40% of the new capacity.
Curiously the killer "app" for all smartphones that would persuade punters to upgrade is staring the makers in the face, and it's a week's battery life in normal use. If that means a shorter battery service life then if its user changeable that doesn't matter to me, nor does an extra 1mm depth or an extra 30g of weight.
"The article needs updating as MS already stated they had extended the cut of from 2014 to 2015 for XP."
No, the article is correct, and you haven't read it or your link carefully enough. XP will not be patched for vulnerabilities as from 8 April. All that's happened is that MS have agreed to keep updating the rather flimsy Microsoft Security Essentials (and corporate products that use the same core) for another year.
XP and MSE were never going to keep the spooks and state-sponsored hackers from poking their unwanted noses in (should they see fit), and the better cybercrims aren't that far behind, so it will be any zero day vulnerabilities that are the main problem.
"Do they give you a readable copy of the full contract in the shop"
Not if you're joining O2. You do get a copy of the contract to sign and keep, but the print is light grey on coloured paper, and the font is so small that I need a bright light and a magnifying glass to read the fucker. And even then it's ten trillion words because O2 are retards, and can't write a simple, concise contract in plain English, so nobody will read it if they could.
Re: Smaller is better...
"Going back rather further, hard drives could be as large as 14 inches."
14 inches? You kids of today.
I remember the day.....ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz...ZZZZzzzzzzzz.....
when 60 Mb involved about five 24 inch platters in a large plastic dustbin lid type of holder otherwise full of normal honest to goodness machine room air. Hermetically sealed, you say boy? Hermetism was ILLEGAL in those days, I tell you......
Re: Maltitol is evil incarnate."
"Haribo's products in Europe use actual sugar, & their sugar free products tend to use other ingredients than Maltitol."
Pah! Us Europeans denied the real McCoy. I suppose that's come-uppance for us having pleasant tasting beer, chocolate and bacon.
I'm not enamoured of the urgent visits to the trap that are described, but perhaps Haribo could isolate the stench-inducing compounds and market them in a new product as Haribo Death Bears. I'll wager that there's actually a big market for a product that can reliably and in short order produce "Breath of Satan" trumps. I had some fine paint-stripping flatus over the weekend following the opening of some ultra-mature cheddar (with added brewer's yeast), but having the right fuel in the portable and discrete format of a bag of Haribo, that would be the business. Pop a good handful down your gullet ten minutes before going into the post office, or when accompanying the missus on clothes shopping expeditions, and share the happy world of Haribo.
You know it makes sense.
Dream on, tech hipsters
"They don't want to be told which proprietary system they'll be stuck with either, with 57 per cent saying they wanted to be able to customise the tech after they buy. "This is a great opportunity for car makers and dealerships to reinvent themselves," said Joe Vitale, Deloitte's global automotive sector leader"
I think Mr Vitale forgot to add "but which they'll completely fail to grasp, instead coming up with a range of half baked proprietary solutions, or locking into specific phone platforms without due regard for IT security, durability, support, and in some likely cases with the most abominable functionality seen on IT devices in two or three decades."
The automotive industry is addicted to a business model that makes minimal (or even nil) profits on basic vehicles, and then seeks to reverse that self inflicted wound through over-priced options. The last thing they want is non-proprietary systems, or users customising (ie "upgrading") the tech themselves. The auto makers also need to think who owns the customer experience - if the experience of using the new Toyota Priapus owes more to Apple, Google, or some other software house, then the car makers are headed towards the sort of commoditised world of pain already inhabited by most mobile handset makers.
Re: This is a sign of screwing up
"Intel management have not worked out their future well enough to face a hostile bunch of shareholders. Thus there is only one thing they can do: cut costs drastically to keep the numbers looking reasonable."
Maybe. In my view firing a few peons is merely window dressing to buy time. The solution (that Intel have long known about) is simply to buy ARM. ARM market cap is a tenth of Intel's, so it's an easy buy. US competition authorities won't say no to a major US corporation buying some foreign outfit. The UK government and competition authorities would enthusiastically say yes (speaking as a Briton, I think the evidence is clear that our governments of all political persuasions would happily sell their own grandmothers if they could find a buyer).
Corporate customers would hate it, but it's not like they've got that many alternatives, and even then if Samsung or TSMC complained, would the US or British government listen? I think not.
The only people likely to oppose it are the EU competition authorities (one of the very, very few areas where the EU generally do a good job). But if the US government lean on the spineless national governments of Europe, I'm sure the EU competition overlords would come to their senses and rubber stamp the deal. Within a few months ARM's design skills and IP will be shipped out to the US, the UK R&D would be shut down, and we'd be like the Finns, trying to remember the days when we had a world leading tech business, and wondering how and when it all went wrong.
And it's the usual "we will abide with our own narrow interpretation of the law, that enables us to keep on doing exactly what we want".
Curiously this just brings the Americans in line with the British government position that the peasants have no rights. Don't forget Magna Carta was when the barons held the king to account, not the people.
"She will be replaced by Gerard Grech, who currently heads up global marketing at BlackBerry World."
So the deciding criteria is "prior fat cat position" rather than "can do, dynamic, straight talking, hard working type with history of success"? (1)
Why can't I secure fat cat six-figure-for-doing- jack-shit gigs? I could (if so minded) focus on the failures of my previous employers - admittedly never as epic as Bungleberry. I'd be willing to toe whatever political line of dogshit that was required, to free-lunch, to attend meetings with DCMS (and to attend them with a whole host of disempowered lackeys, as the snivel service seem to require).
Who appoints numpties to these sinecures? I am available! My principles and beliefs can be hired or put aside as the appointment demands. I promise I shall not associate myself with actually doing anything, and I shall forbid the lackeys from doing anything other than massaging statistics to prove success. Hire me!
(1) No, that's not me either. I'm just railing against the injustice that he's sucking on the taxpayer funded teat, and I'm not.
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