2871 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
Re: In other words:
"We don't understand or care about all that 'security' jibber-jabber, so how important can it be?"
Well, in 2012 Home Depot's CIO, one Matt Carey, was paid around $3.5m, comfortably making the top ten of highest paid CIOs according to WSJ. I would suggest that the company and its owners were paying for a premium IT service, and if anybody is to blame for this it is is not reluctant chief execs or sales directors, it is the Home Deport CIO and his team.
It is the CIO's job to articulate the costs and risks and technical threats that face the firm, to place that in clear, easy to understand language for non-IT literate managers, to be situationally aware and to prioritise threats, and to shepherd the board to make the right decisions. That's what the "C" means on his job title, and that's why he's paid millions. Too bad the boy wasn't up to it. It is possible to blame the board's audit, nominations and leadership development comittees, for Carey's appointment, continued employment, and the failures of audit that are implicit. These committees are entirely composed of Home Depot's non-executives (who on their performance here might be judged to be the same ineffectual "gentlemen's club" rent-a-non-exec types found the world over).
I believe Carey is still in post, and he's been CIO since 2008, so the buck stops with him and his team. In my humble opinion he and selected senior managers should be fired immediately with prejudice and without compensation, and the non-execs should be cleared out like the contents of the Augean stables.
Re: Is it so confusing?
"The Microsoft brand has value. And a "Microsoft Lumia 890" may be a phone that sells, and sells well."
Possibly. But where I sit Microsoft is Windows, and Windows is Microsoft. In press surveys of "most respected businesses it is certainly true that a handful of clueless C level types and hangers on will grapple hopelessly in response to "what are the brands you respect?" and after a moment of terror will simply name the names on their desk in front of them. But in the consumer market people buy MS products only because there are few credible alternatives, and the repeated false starts and fails for Windows Phone have left a legacy of resentment. Android and Apple users ask themselves "why change?"
For business this is all rather different and MS has enjoyed an undeserved status as "preferred brand", but coming from so far behind can they possibly catchup now that business has already had to embrace Android or Apple? Blackberry don't look as though they can make up for a few years of complacency, and they started from a dominant position in business, and have a brand that is far less soiled than Microsoft.
Re: Only an IDIOT...
"buys the company name and then doesn't use it for something."
To be fair to Microsoft, they bought the assets and (in practical terms) only had a short term lease on the brand name. This was always the plan, because MS think they can become Apple by integrated ownership of hardware manufacture and software (overlooking Google's drive-by ownership of Motorola.
Unfortunately in the grand scheme of desirability the brand "Microsoft" sits somewhere below the brand "common cold", about par with "diaorrhea" albeit comfortably above "ebola".
Re: All nice and well..
For 2012, yes.
Re: "A little eBay shopping and you can find 128GB Micro SD cards for under a tenner"
"Even SanDisks have issues, (although I suspect I had 3 x 32gb from a bad batch)"
There was a known issue with Samsung devices and 32Gb Sandisk cards, and Sandisk are still happy to replace them more than a year after they were bought. I had a near two year old card replaced without fuss a couple of months ago.
Raise an issue via their web site, they'll ask a few questions via email, and then direct you to an on line form to fill in, after that they'll send you and RMA, and you send your card off the (IIRC) Czech republic (cost of about £1.40) then a few days later you get a new one back.
Looking at that Goomolo tyre chair, it occurred to me that combining that design with a Segway mechanism you could have an all-terrain wheelchair that would extend the mobility of the disabled and be the most remarkable fun for the able bodied. Give it a good turn of speed, and crappolo castor-wheeled office chairs could go the way of the dodo.
Re: Something about garden gnomes, ???, profit
"Spend lots of money buying stuff, lay off lots of people, ???, profit."
No. Spend lots of money, lay off the peasants, write off losses.
Like MS did with Aquantive, which involved MS' bungling executives writing off over $6bn in a failed attempt to become Google2 (and the axe for 2,600 Aquantive employees). The Nokia gamble is a destined-for-failure attempt to be Apple2. They spent $1.2bn on the Yammer social networking platform a couple of years back in an attempt to be Facebook2 - that "investment" must be due for writedown and mass sackings by now. $8bn on Skype to become who knows what, and that looks to be a profitless investment, with the commoditisation of VOIP clients and the change of VOIP users from voice to IM.
Who's on the up, and might Microsoft hope to be next year? If we can suss that then we just go long on the likely target, and sell out as soon as the bid is made. They've just blown the fat end of $3bn on Minecraft, which is staggering - buying the IP of one crap game without even the drive of the creator.
Re: Pedant alert
"Data.... *ARE* being suggested..."
Merkin pedant alert, I suggest.
I daresay the local coppers can do better than that at predicting where and when crime occurs.
Re: Killed by operators, yes, but was private equity to blame too?
"But- correct me if I'm wrong- if they'd had enough to pay off their debts, then wouldn't they have done that, closed the dead-end business down and returned the money to the shareholders?"
Why? BC partners probably knew the big middlemen in the phone market were all living on borrowed time. But by issuing a load of bonds they moved the risk onto people so stupid they should be thrown in prison for life for criminal stupidity, and the cash from the bond issue will have been passed back to BC and their mates. Meanwhile financial regulators worry about trivia, and look the other way when people try and report fraudulent corporate finance activity.
Private equity could in theory do a good job of realising value from businesses that the secondary equity markets can't support. In practice they and the big banks are in cahoots as rapacious, unregulated thieves, and we're currently back in 2006, with the PE houses doing monster re-leveraging deals to foist debt onto businesses that can't support that in the long term, the criminals and fools at the banks are lapping up this toxic debt, and (unbelievably) even tiered sub-prime debt is making an appearance, bring back the CDOs that wrought havoc in 2009.
Maybe it will end well this time? We could ask the employees of Phones4U? Or those of Maplin when that goes down trailing heavy smoke.
"Really ? I have found them to be friendly, efficient, usually well dressed and presented."
We obviously move in different markets. Presumably you're spending more than I am, and you're happy to see your money spent on plusher showrooms and salesmen with social skills and hygiene. In my world I also have to put up with the pantomime of "not sure I can do it for X, I'll have to go and speak to my boss", tasteless coffee and the like.
Re: I briefly did marketing
"they're not even doing something worthy"
Actually, done well, it is very worthy, and I commend you for having done it. In any retail business you can't personally know your customers, segmentation is (done well) an adequate approximation that covers the most profitable groups of customers, and identifies solutions that fit their needs. Now, go back to your marketing theory, and what was it about? Som't like "identifying and meeting the needs of consumers by creating appropriate offers and making customers aware"?
The problem for the marketing grads and careerists, is that they think that poncing around with "brand image", having free lunches in the name of PR, or commissioning high cost self-aggrandising ad campaigns is valuable. It isn't, it is simply what they would like to do, and within the marketing silo stuff like segmentation or writing collateral is certainly seen as unglamorous work to be dumped on the most junior employee to hand.
Re: Don't fall into those pre-defined roles.@ Fihart
"but by and large creative pros in agencies ignore all "research" and follow their instincts"
"Create pros"! Bwahahahahahahaha! You mean the weirdly dressed kn0b ends who come up with a new corporate slogan or logo, and then expect to be paid several million quid for ten minutes work that doesn't really have any impact on the company's performance?
I used to work for a high end professional services firm, and they spent a seven figure sum having some "creative" t**t change their logo and corporate colour scheme. Meanwhile, the actual winning of work was done by the fee earning partners and juniors, with some assistance from the business development team.
"I do wonder why they went into administration with high quality training and company direction like this..."
Why? Ratners were doing a treat until Gerald made his fatal faux pas, and Phones 4U's problem was simply that the MNOs decided they would cut out the middlemen.
The relationship between buyer and seller has been fraught since commerce first began, and the fake bonhommie of salesmen is equally old. And what's wrong with that? People on these forums routinely moan about sales drones, or sales droids, and similarly insulting terms, and you think that the sellers should hold YOU in high regard?
I regard car salesmen as lazy, greasy, foul-smelling mobile dandruff dispensers. I doubt they hold me in any higher regard. But so long as we're tolerably polite, and I get a car at the price I want, does it matter what they call me behind my back, or what insulting headline they use for me in their segmentation model?
You have to wonder how Microsoft's corporate thought processes operate.
There two damned good reasons why people don't want touchscreens. Even MS have noticed the trend to larger screens on all device classes, and this leads into the first problemette that the viewing distance on anything above a 15 inch screen is not comfortable touch reach, and the second is that more than a few of us have greasy paws that instantly make a screen messy. This even happens on a smartphone with a top notch oleophobic coating, but at least in that instance the device is put in my pocket where the lining wipes the smears off.
There's even a third problem that for input and sophisticated control, rubbing a fat digit that covers many hundreds of pixels is a bit crappy, and you're still tied to a keyboard for primary input.
So, all in all, a big fat grease-smeared fail for W8, with three key questions:
What's plan B, Microsoft?
How will you avoid repeating your mistakes given that you don't f***ing listen?
And how will you avoid p***ing off the millions of people who have had W8 foisted on them?
"The black hole is about five light-days in diameter, while M60-UCD1 is about 300 light-years
Can you measure black holes in any "light" denominated measure?
Re: Except that...
"We have no police any more,"
Well there's around 130,000 people currently being paid as police officers, plus another 13,000 PCSOs. Over ten years that's a fairly minimal 3% reduction in real coppers, with the number of plastic plods rising by 12,000, so I'm not sure what your baseline is for "any more".
I'd agree that they are far less visible than they used to be but as their previous currency was often harassing speeding motorists on long, wide straight roads, or enforcing a motorway speed limit held in near universal contempt, I'm not sure that there's been much loss. And the advent of Highways Agency traffic officers has been a further boon for motorists, since they sort out minor incidents far quicker than the police managed.
Re: How do you know....
"How do you know if your friends are on this site? If I'm plonking down 9k "
Sorry mate, you're missing the point. The people wanted here regard 9k in the same way you or I regard1.49 for a cheesy mobile phone app. The vermin this site hopes to attract spend the money you and I regard as "house" money on a car. The money you and I spend on a car, they see as watch money. The money you and I regard as "once in a lifetime holiday" they regard as magazine money.
Put it this way: You've earned a few millions, you have bought the cars you want and a few houses, plus all the trinkets. You have a yacht if you want one. And still there's a few million in the bank. Are you going to be shopping at Aldi to eke it out? And if not, would you give a hoot about a few thousand?
Tim Worstall needs to do a piece on how money works for the obscenely rich.
Re: The real issue here
But talking of how MPs should be treated, the people of Ukraine show us how:
Re: The real issue here
"and look at who the Scots chose to partially govern them so far. When it comes to useless wankers Hollyrood is easily a match for Westminster."
Absolutely agree. But with nobody to bail them out, the SNP would only be able to indulge themselves in fairytale socialism and political graft for a couple of years, and they'd then find the hard way that if they want sustained economic growth then they would have to sort things out with less regulation, lower taxation and lower public spending.
Re: Interesting interpretation of the source that......
"the no campaign are all threats ,scare tactics and basically FUD"
At least they saved the best until last, with the OECD claiming that Scottish independence could trigger a global recession. Funny how a tiddly proto-nation with tiny oil reserves can threaten global stability just by virtue of not being ruled by the inept clowns of Westminster, yet you can knock out the oil and gas production of Iraq and Libya with no ill effects whatsoever.
Could it be that the OECD is a French poodle, and the Frogs, like the Spanish are deeply concerned about the threat posed by the spread of democracy and home rule? Surely not.
Re: The real issue here
"Do the Scottish people hate being in the same country as the English, Welsh (and Northern Irish) enough to sacrifice their economic well-being for the next umpteen decades?"
Actually the data is fairly clear, that Scotland's economy has consistently grown more slowly than the rest of the UK, or than comparable EU or EEA countries. Not by huge amounts, but from memory Scotland's GDP has grown half a per cent less than the rest of the UK for the past thirty years, and that adds up. With a workforce that is productive, and an excellent education system, Scotland should be doing much better than it is. Continuing to be governed from Westminster, and allowing your country to remain a public sector theme park is not a good option.
I'm not Scottish, the effect on me is minimal, but I think we can dismiss many of the arguments on both Yes and No sides. But an independent Scotland would (after a few difficult years) be in much the same economic basket as similarly sized and developed economies such as Denmark or Sweden. The Danes use somebody else's currency, the Swedes have their own, so either option is feasible, and neither really threatens the long term prosperity of Scotland.
I don't think much of Salmond and his cronies, but I would suggest that a more equal partnership of an independent Scotland and the rUK would be a better outcome for both countries, and that berk Cameron should have played this with far more neutrality, instead of the childish "you can't use the pound" and all the other rampant fear-mongering.
From a South of the border perspective, I want a Yes vote because it will help in the continuing bust up of the traditional two party cartel running Westminster. Letting the Scots run their own affairs and sending their MP's home is bad news for the traditional Westminster left, just as Frage is piddling on the Westminster right's chips. More, please!
"I wonder whether we're bigger targets because English is more widely spoken worldwide than German."
According to the blog post Krauts have marginally more spam emails per user than Brits, Frogs or Yanks, although the differences are fairly small - so language of the user has little to do with the prevalence of spam. But within the spam emails the big difference is the number of dodgy links.
It seems more likely that there are other considerations, such as (perhaps) higher levels of electronic banking in the UK versus other markets, weaker security in the UK versus other markets. Whilst gullibility may be a factor, the absence of a dodgy URL doesn't mean the spam isn't criminal, so it is difficult to conclude that Britain has a greater proportion of mugs. And reading the blog post, it seems to me that the authors define a malicious URL as one that seeks to serve malware - so potentially passive phishing isn't included.
The other component is whether particular countries ISPs are better at blocking malicious content, although the spam figures suggest there's not much to choose.
Re: Reminds me of Maplins
"Maplins is a fictional holiday camp,"
Not if the OP was referring to the individual Maplin shops collectively?
Re: Reminds me of Maplins
"not really sure what it's meant to be selling"
Add to that "over expanded into too many large shops that don't do enough trade to keep the lights on"
According to Experian data, Maplin made a loss of £180m last year, and that was up year on year from losses of a "mere" £26m back in 2009, and have negative net worth to the tune of £100m, despite an apparent £440m equity-for-debt swap the previous year. I expect Maplin to join Radio Shack in the great retail park in the sky anyday soon.
I suggest unlucky Phones 4U employees don't apply to Maplin. Don't forget you heard it here first.
Cheetah my arse! That's a cyberdog if ever I saw one
"I'll wear insulated gloves so it doesn't electrocute me as I'm giving it a bath"
The problem is that master and pet relationship soon reverses. "Daddy created him for good, but he's turned out evil." as they say in Lancashire.
Re: Good enough is the enemy of great
"Cheap smartphones appear bound to make inroads, as soon as they are good enough for what most (young) people do with their phones. "
That may be true for teenage loafers in the US or Europe, but the bulk of the growth is "good enough" phones being sold to developing markets. For somebody on a few dollars a day (if they're lucky), they aren't buying a $100 phone to play Angry Birds (or whatever shite is today's hot game). They are buying it to get advice on weather for agricultural needs, to check seed or produce prices, to get remote medical advice, to learn stuff, to arrange transport, find and buy spare parts etc.
And because developing markets can leapfrog the need for expensive fixed line infrastructure, their countries can invest in other things that are more useful, so (nationally speaking) this can avoid the need for universal fixed line telecoms that would otherwise consume billions.
"the last time I was in there, they had plenty of pay as you go phones, tablets and other stuff for sale so i'm sure they could at least run for the next year and try and diversify further to keep the business viable"
Who'd go into a mobile phone shop that didn't offer mobile phone contracts? Even on PAYG they'd struggle to compete against proper retailers with well managed inventory and supply chain (Amazon, Argos and Tesco, and the only reason they may have been competitive before would be network commissions. So they'd have a quite large shop selling the small range of phone and tech related tat normally associated with a market stall. I just can't see it working.
Also, directors have to sign off accounts declaring that the business is a going concern. Even with a year's notice, who's going to risk being disqualified as a director, or even jail time for fraud in the hope that they can perhaps put together a business selling trinkets?
Re: So the question is what about life Mobile
"Phones 4U spent a lot of money in creating there MVNO Life mobile a few years ago, it runs on EE network, like Tesco Mobile, question is ... what happens to that?"
Did they ever trade and sign up customers - I can't see anything that says they had any customers?
If they have any, the administrators will try and sell it as a going concern if it stands on its own feet. But if it isn't viable then it will be shut down unless a competitor quickly decides that the Life Mobile customers can be bought for a lower average cost than acquiring customers organically.
Re: Now where do we go for a cheap contract?
"Problem for the rest of us is what happens to capacity, investment and the prospect of expansion when profits tank?"
Infrastructure regulation is what eventually happens, as per gas or electricity distribution systems. That's very good for preserving things as they are, it's generally poor at supporting fast innovation. Given OFCOM's poor record they'd be particularly dreadful, but other asset regulators (eg OFWAT) have shown that you can offer decent regulation that meets both customer and investor needs, and supports performance improvement.
Most of the legal infrastructure is already in place in the form of having a regulator, having a licencing regime and licenced operators. All that's needed is a bill to make network ownership and operation a fully regulated activity.
Re: Now where do we go for a cheap contract?
"Short of them resorting to actual blackmail over coverage its hard to see whats going to prop their profits up."
Too right. But in the light of this threat, you can see why these companies oppose net neutrality (hoping to get paid by upstream content providers as well as their own downstream customers), and why they keep on dancing round their corporate handbags on NFC and mobile payments, hoping to get a cut from the payment processors (ie to get another upstream payment for what is effectively use of system that the downstream customer has already paid for). Obviously on mobile payments they need to have proprietary systems to justify extra charges, and that's why they want to offer crummy carrier-specific solutions, and are hostile to industry standard approaches, where the MNO only gets paid the data rate for a handful of bytes.
The sad thing is that the network operator strategies are all so 1999, still offering mobiles as an unsatisfactory adjunct to fixed line solutions from third parties, and always hoping to find the next big thing without effort or investment. Hoping, Mr Micawber style, as though the initial revenue boom of texting is the sort of reward they might hope to be gifted in future is not a good strategy.
If they'd invest in a lot more capacity they could offer a credible domestic wireless broadband solution that would supplant the wired telecoms and cable companies, opening up a vast new market, instead of hoping that mobile data will suddenly come to the rescue as people decide to watch cat videos on a tiny handset every waking second of the day. But creating a domestic broadband proposition for a lot of multi-occupant households (rather than a few mobile-only singleton hipsters) involves more masts, and meatier backhaul, new propositions - investment, hard work, and commercial risk. Why do that when you're a fat cat incumbent?
Re: Now where do we go for a cheap contract?
"I've has my last 6 phones from Phones4U because they have consistently been massively cheaper than the Vodafone shop that's 20 yards from it."
Well there's the problem. However you cut it, selling through intermediaries costs a lot more than direct sales. In a previously growing market with high margins and lots of differentiation, that didn't matter.
But with MVNO's and cheap SIM only deals left right and centre, maxed-out levels of smart phone ownership, and promotion of cheap and competent SIM-free phones by credible brands like Google or Motorola, the major MNOs are starting to find themselves squeezed. Their (in practice) oligopoly for the bundled supply of phones and air time is under attack. And once you get onto SIM free, there's a further nightmare for the big networks - it is far easier to switch. There's no albatross of a part-paid handset to sort out, no locked in two year contracts, and subject only to reception, air time is pure commodity. This then becomes a race to the bottom.
Now consider that Phones4U had turnover of around a billion quid, and that was almost entirely a cost to the major networks - taken together there's no additional income to the networks for the Phones 4U sales, because (the networks reason) punters will still buy the most attractive deal somewhere else.
So squeezing out intermediaries is a financial necessity for the network operators, and what will happen is that a three tier market (that already exists) will become even clearer: PAYG will continue much as it operates now; the major networks will offer increasingly expensive deals for fixed term handset inclusive contracts to those who are not value conscious (or are not very smart); and the value conscious will increasingly start to relinquish contract deals in favour of SIM free handsets and rolling short term SIM deals (much as Tesco's punters are now to be found thronging Aldi and Lidl).
Re: The first time I've seen Godwin's law work in reverse..
Niwdog's law, mate.
He looks old enough to have been there
In which case you have to wonder why he thinks that huge flat screens, remote controls, PVRs, on screen programme guides, loads of channels, gaming and internet connectivity (of sorts), HD quality, surround sound, DVD and VoD interfaces, screen mirroring off other devices etc are all so 1971?
I was there, and telly was pants in the 1970s. In technical terms, including the interface, television is unbelievably better than those dark days. I say Tim Cook is a berk, and the one thing that is the same as 1971 is the paucity of good content, and that's not going to be solved by his company's (prospective) over-priced but shiney tat.
In part that's probably true, although don't forget they probably need to repay the bond holders for money borrowed only last year, otherwise they'll be hammered in the courts, and BC Partners (or whoever) will find it more difficult and expensive to borrow in future.
The other reason for going home early is that without distribution contracts or an alternative and believable business model P4U won't be able to get trade credit insurance (insurance that guarantees that the owner of the goods gets paid back if the retailer can't pay its way) and in that case nobody will give them the handsets to sell.
I'd guess there probably isn't much P4U owned stock to clear (after unsold handsets are returned to the networks who still own them), and the whole operation could be history in a few days. With CPW leaping out of the frying pan, and general over-capacity in mobile phone retailing I'd guess there's not really going to be much demand for many of the shops.
Re: Frame rate
"I was expecting 3 frames-per-minute, except on really dark frames where it would be 1fpm..."
So about what we experienced when playing it on a 486SX?
Sadly, regardless of graphic detail, no subsequent game has ever re-created the frisson of genuine fear that I sometimes felt when playing the original Doom.
Political more than commercial
Abandoning WP is a daft idea from Huawei if on purely commercial grounds, because it gives them less of a stick to wave at Google, should that be necessary, and fewer short term options should they need them. Development costs for WP would be negligible in the context of the circa $5bn R&D budget.
This seems more like a strategic and political choice at the behest of the Chinese government. Just as with the "competition" probe into MS Office/WIndows, this is simply part of the long dragged out game surrounding XP and options for moving to W7, which seem from the outside to be essentially about the price China wants to pay for W7, and the price Microsoft want to be paid for W7. I suppose it also could include things that neither party will publicly discuss, like backdoors, surveillance, default search engines).
Re: I do think that both Samsung and LG should grow up...........
"I do think that both Samsung and LG should grow up"
I don't. It put a smile on my face reading this story of corporate idiocy. It does reflect badly on LG, though. Not only did they get caught, but the "yield" seems to be less than five Samsung machines. Were they smarter, they'd have re-engineered Stuxnet and injected it to the control logic of Samsung washing machines, to cause them to over-speed when on the spin cycle, because (let's be honest here) that's exactly what Stuxnet was designed for. And after many thousands of warranty claims, Samsung would still be scratching their heads. If it ever came to light, the Israelis would get the blame.
And a side benefit would be that all the thousands of home-grown terrorists that the security services keep alluding to would be foiled in their attempts at enrichment, under Al Quaeda's "Spinning@Home" project.
Re: 2015 model?
This has been motor industry practice for years, and reflects annual product cycles with mid-year launches. The "new" models (often just a trim change) are announced during the year at various motors shows. If labelled according to year of launch, then in the following spring the (often) talent free retards that sell cars are going to have a VERY hard time selling a 2014 model in spring 2015.
Label the car as the "model year", which is the calendar year after launch, and hey presto! this problem goes away. In the industry everybody knows what "model year" means, punters buy with confidence that they're not buying old stock, and everybody's happy. And for the canny buyer, this creates opportunities to buy at a discount from residual stock when new models are announced. Who's got a problem with all that?
Re: Vaporpus Sapphire @Ledswinger
"As for your test, a simpler one would be to take the phone outside - sapphire is more reflective..."
Alright, ignoring wicked jokes at the (very unlikely) potential expense of the clueless. But surely a sapphire screen is going to have an anti-reflection coating. Not much use if you can't use the thing in daylight? And glass screens are bad enough in tis respect already.
Re: Vaporpus Sapphire
"Maybe it's simply not possible to reliably make millions of perfect sapphire phone screens and the whole concept is vaporware."
Maybe, but if there's any truth in the rumours, the "missing" sapphire screens are purely (as the article suggests) an outcome of the yield issue. On any new process you have a lot of defects, and a lot of early production ends in the bin, and you can only go to full production when you know you can produce enough intact parts to make the process profitable for both manufacturer and phone assembler.
Something that nobody has mentioned is whether sapphire screens are going into the distribution channel unannounced, and being sold alongside normal glass. Would make sense, to gauge performance and warranty costs. Maybe fanbois should test their devices? Usual testing mode is to take a faceted diamond (your wife's ring) and see if that marks the face.
"I really doubt we even have a regulator to timidly suggest it any more"
Actually they are too timid to enforce good practice, but every bit as important is that we don't have a proper single point regulatory and enforcement structure for both e-crime and good practice. Police can't be bothered with ecrime in the vast majority of cases. Banks deliberately don't report phishing and e-crime, and as you say engage in poor practice (and that's both a corporate and an FCA problem). The ICO buck pass on anything that isn't about everyday data administration. OFCOM are clueless. MPS deal only with UK originated marketing telephone calls because idiot civil servants drew up such tightly restrictive rules. There's not even a single government department with a clear mandate for these matters. Politicians are too busy deciding important stuff like their next pay rise, or how many watts your hoover is allowed to use, added to which the fraudsters of Westminster wouldn't know how to turn a computer on.
More concerted effort goes into parking enforcement in the UK than goes into addressing ecrime.
Re: Will Amazon invest in...
" Will Amazon invest in...The additional commuter infrastructure required?"
That depends on whether they negotiated some exemption from the Crossrail business rate supplement. Realistically, that toff Boris will have cut them a slick deal (because that's how all politicians work) and if that is the case then the infrastructure they need to shift their workforce from Slough to London will be paid for by every other business in London who don't get exemptions from the CBRS.
If Boris had any balls he'd have told Amazon they were getting special unpreferential treatment to block any presence in London until the tax dodgers stopped cheating the system, but what were the chances of that?
Re: Slough - Paradise on Earth
"Well, it wasn't bad when I lived there during the late 50's early 60's."
It was a shithole by the time I lived and worked there in the late 80s. What you and I know, but other members of the commentariat my be less aware of, is that Slough exists as a binary system with nearby Windsor. For all the tourists, Windsor is pleasantly genteel, in contrast to the post industrial, post nuclear war scabbiness of Slough. This means that anything and anybody that aren't thoroughly down market gravitates to Windsor, and Slough thus accretes shittiness exponentially. Something like a black hole, except that you can visit it and come away again.
I suspect that in the 50s and 60s, lower car ownership, and the absence of the dual carriageway known locally as the Relief Road meant that journeying from Slough to Windsor was less easy, and it was less easy for the middle classes to escape.
Re: Missing the point
"ensuring that the customer has as little freedom and control as possible and that the provider retains all control and ability to unilaterally enforce any changes to the terms and conditions (including charges) that it may see fit."
For a rare change mate you're wrong. The regulations governing what a supplier must do and how they must do it run to thousands of pages, and they can't unilaterally do anything without giving you notice and the opportunity to take your business elsewhere. Suppliers won't have their hands on the "auxiliary load switch" that can dump shed-able loads, that will rest (most likely) with either National Grid of the local distribution company. The detail data from smart meters can't even be shared with your electricity supplier without your explicit consent, and DECC are in the process of painfully establishing their own Data Communications Company who will warehouse the data from all smart meters. With government's track record in IT, energy policy, and commerce, what could possibly go wrong?
Re: British Gas tried to get me to have one
"They then did a cost check based on my annual consumption and when they came back saying this amazing deal would cost me 12% more than I currently pay even with free weekend electricity I politely declined."
I work in the industry, and we had a look at British Gas' offer and concluded that "free electricity Saturday" is a bit like Economy 7: In both cases you have to shift at least one third of your total 'leccy use into the cheap/free zone to make up for higher costs at other times. In practice this approximates to the scenarios that unless you've got electric storage heaters and immersion heaters as your only heating sources you shouldn't be on E7, and likewise you shouldn't touch the "free Saturday" offer unless you have a medium to large family and you're prepared to run all of you washing and tumble drying needs for the entire week on Saturday, and to shift any other loads like Friday's dishwasher to Saturday.
DECC are desperate to confront users with the costs of peak demand, but on a system wide level the average costs aren't that great. Instead of making things work the bozos should work to get prices down, instead of working energetically to push them.
Incidentally I was at an industry forum where some beard-and-sandal lawyer from OFGEM was quacking away about how great time of use tariffs would be when we've all got smart meters. I asked him how that complexity and lack of transparency matched up to OFGEM's view (enforced through licence conditions) that consumers must not be offered a choice of more than four single-rate-plus-standing-charge tariffs because greater choice was too confusing (including an effective ban on any tariff that didn't have a standing charge). I didn't get a credible answer, but his face was a picture, like man trying to shit a hedgehog.
Re: How do these thing save money?
Or even "no and yes respectively".
Re: How do these thing save money?
" in the UK it looks like you'll be made to have one and pay for the privilege."
Yes and no, respectively. Energy suppliers are required to have installed smart meters at all suitable metering points by 2020, or to have offered to do so. You are at liberty to refuse a smart meter, but I would expect that sooner or later DECC will change the rules to permit suppliers to install smart meters without your say so.
However, as the total programme costs are recovered through the normal energy tariffs, everybody pays for smart meters, not merely those who elect to have them.
"Any music i download from iTunes gets automatically uploaded to my Google Music account."
I'd agree that the lock in in perceptual rather than real, but you've still got to do something extra to get the freedom. Em-masse, people don't behave like that, and iTunes works very well as a barrier to exit. Your average Apple user won't have, or won't use a Google Play Music account, and I suspect most of them wouldn't be very impressed with it if they tried. Indeed, as an Android user I gave up on Play Music because it seemed unable to recognise and retain all the ripped tracks on my PC - like everything "free", Play Music has its limits and its true cost.
Re: 0% finance over the contract term
"True, but only if the bargain happens to be available when your contract is up for renewal."
That's only an issue where the buyer can't wait. The natural victims (or cash rich) probably can't wait, but I've always found my phones continue to function beyond the end of the contract, and sometimes it has been necessary to wait a couple of months for the right deal to come up (or indeed pay to exit the contract a month or two early - I've done both). Obviously the roll-on contract usually includes the "handset" charge, so you don't have that long to make your choice before the maths works against you, but over two or three months, chances are something's available on a blindingly good deal, and in practice it is usually an outgoing premium model rather than a pretender. So there's fewer deals on (say) an LG G3 than on a Sammy S4.
But even that assumes that these deals are only sporadically available. I've found that if you're relaxed about what you get and from whom then there's usually something on offer. In the sales culture that pervades mobile phone retailing, somebody is always keen to offer deals to secure market share (eg run up to Christmas), or desperate to clear excess stock in the post Christmas slack period. Same applies for the invariable Spring sales offensives, or the slack water over the Summer holiday period. As with cars the market is also distorted by sales bonuses and campaign targets. At the moment the market is pretty quiet, but I can still find offers for an S4 on contract for an implied cost fifty quid cheaper than the best sim-free deal I can find.
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