* Posts by BigAndos

273 posts • joined 12 Jun 2012

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Violence, vandals and vomit: London's naughtiest tech Tube stations revealed

BigAndos
IT Angle

I think it was a flimsy attempt to find the IT angle!

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Tesla whacks guardrail in Montana, driver blames autopilot

BigAndos

If the car didn't detect (i.e. couldn't see) the stakes lying in the ground in the dark, he probably wouldn't have either so I suspect he would have crashed with or without this autopilot feature turned on!

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A bad day for DBAs: MIT boffins are replacing you with a mere spreadsheet

BigAndos

Not really DBAs

So it still needs a database to connect to in order to run queries? In that case DBAs will still be just as vital to keep it humming along nicely, and of course handle the query load this tool will generate.

What it really seems to be is a halfway house between writing SQL and using Business Objects, which of course needs a developer to set up the universe first. I think it would have a fairly niche audience in large companies in that case, but might come into its own for smaller companies that can't afford a fully fledged BI team.

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Replacement IT at 'high risk'. Squeaky bum time for UK tax folk

BigAndos

Re: Public administration's seem systemically

To be fair the private sector is almost as bad, or worse in some examples! I think the problem in all cases boils down to unrealistic or overly optimistic planning. I've worked for a system integrator in the past and any project where one or more of the following is true will nearly always be more complicated than it first appears:

1) The system/application is used by more than 20 users or more than one department

2) The system/application is used directly by customers

3) The system/application is required to interface with more than two internal systems/applications

4) The project requires the cooperation of two or more third party companies.

"The business" or "the government" would often be put off embarking on a project if the true cost was revealed up front which enforces overly optimistic estimation, or in fact there may be a naive project manager who simply doesn't know how to properly estimate the project (this is worrying common).

The net result is you often end up with one of the following:

1) Massive cost/time over runs (most common)

2) Project being abandoned with lots of money effectively down the drain. Prepare for another attempt in a couple of years when the scars have healed!

3) Project delivered but with so much functionality de-scoped the original business case may not stand up. "Phase 2" then gets mooted but never happens, or a new project to replace the half baked deliverable begins.

This is a big problem for IT to overcome. I think the main causes are the shortage of 1) technical people who can provide proper estimates and 2) managers who ignore those estimates or massage them to make an acceptable business case!

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No means no: Windows 10 nagware's red X will stop update – Microsoft

BigAndos

Re: Gun, meet foot

"I'm fairly sure the company I work for could ditch at least three-quarters of their Windows licences". I definitely agree with you here. Even though I'm relatively favourable towards MS (I'm a SQL Server BI dev) I think this is definitely the way things are going.

Our company switched from Lotus Notes (shudder) to Google Apps for business a while ago and we haven't looked back. The majority of people here now work in Chrome for most of the day, either using the excellent Google app suite or one of our internal applications which are now largely web based and even (shock horror) mostly run in browsers other than IE. The collaboration facilities in Google apps are a dream compared to the horror of SharePoint.

It is only really our IT staff, data analysis/reporting teams (like mine) and graphic designers who need a full fat desktop OS. The designers mostly use Mac OS anyway. I'm stuck with Windows whatever for now as I need to use Visual Studio and SQL Management Studio. Increasingly we are moving to Linux for severs so this probably won't continue for too much longer unless MS pull their finger out!

The two things I do at home which keep me on Windows are gaming and Photoshop. Photoshop I could do on a Mac but gaming isn't really there yet. Although I think Windows 10 is actually pretty decent (privacy issues aside) MS really need to come up with some good reasons to stick with it long term pretty sharpish or else their lunch will get eaten. This is why they have resorted to devious tricks to get you on W10 - the writing is on the wall!

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This local council paid HOW MUCH for an SD card?!

BigAndos

Procurement departments are a waste of space

I needed to get a new Visual Studio license recently for a contractor in my team. Our procurement department quoted me £2500 for the exact same license level that I found for $900 on Microsoft's website. This is private sector as well! Of course I wasn't allowed to buy directly, and after several weeks I'm still waiting for the license.

I really don't get this as other companies I've worked in are similar. Are the waste of space "partners" for companies like Microsoft bribing procurement departments en masse? I appreciate there may be support agreements as well, but I've never been that impressed. We had an issue with a SQL Server DB recently and our very helpful partner eventually responded asking us to send them a copy. Yes sure, we'll send you our multi terabyte DB containing loads of customer data no worries!

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Tesco Mobile does what? Hahahahahahaha. Sorry customers

BigAndos

Tesco mobile have been known for having some of the best customer service scores in the business. Wonder how they'll be doing come 2nd August...

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NHS advertises for digital director at £131k

BigAndos

Re: What IS digital ?

Digital seems to have become a buzzword version of "information technology". If a corporate drone wants to talk about an IT project, it is no longer an IT project but is "Digital enablement" or "Digital transformation".

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'MongoDB ate my containers!'

BigAndos

Re: noSQL

It depends what you're doing. We do a lot of analysis of web tracking data which can be billions of rows. Our SQL server instance may not be able to handle certain queries very quickly or we may not have sufficient disk space to build the right indexes, etc etc.

Something like MongoDB can potentially be much quicker at querying this type of data and is very easy to scale horizontally. As the previous commenter said, if we're looking at billions of rows then even a thousand rows not being returned isn't much of an issue. There is also the fact that web tracking isn't perfect (incognito mode, Ghostery etc) so the dataset will be incomplete anyway.

For any kind of financial / KPI reporting then ACID compliant RDBMS all the way please.

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SELECT features FROM bumf... What's new in MS SQL Server 2016

BigAndos

Re: Oh wont someone think of the EULA

Blimey, another one for the "excellent reasons for your SQL server not to have unfettered internet access" list!

I look forward to upgrading to this version and giving some of the new features a spin, but knowing my company I won't get the chance until the day before 2008 goes of support - if at all!

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Android Pay debuts in UK

BigAndos

Re: I really don't get it...

I'll probably start using Android Pay instead of my Oyster card for TfL. At present I have three contactless cards and my Oyster in my wallet which can make it a bit fiddly at the ticket barrier. I can just set my main debit card up on android pay and I think it'll be a bit quicker for me to get my phone out of my pocket than take my wallet out and fish about for the right card.

In App payments will be useful too. Again not critical but slightly easier than having to fish out my card each time. Other than that I don't think I see a massive use case for me personally!

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EU vetoes O2 and Three merger: Hutchison mulls legal challenge

BigAndos

Re: It's a cartel anyway ......

Yeah there is almost no competition these days. The only differentiation is network coverage, I tend to use whichever operator has the best signal where I happen to live/work.

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Windows 10 free upgrade offer ends on July 29th

BigAndos

Re: I don't mind Windows 10, but what's next?

I have been inspired to actually pull my finger out and do some reading up. It seems the telemetry can be disabled, which isn't an easy process but is at least possible. In any case it doesn't sound much worse than the data gathered if you use any Android or iOS device without changing defaults. Am I missing something or being thick? It's been a long week so both are possible!

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BigAndos

I don't mind Windows 10, but what's next?

I got Windows 10 almost immediately after it came out as I'm bit of a mug for these things. It is much faster and more responsive than Windows 7 was on my PC so I'll take that for free. I'll admit I haven't bothered to read up on the things people are getting worked up about here but there is nothing I've seen than interferes with my daily use of my PC.

The real question for me is what's next? Windows has been Microsoft's cash cow for years so so what happens for those of us who upgraded to W10? If we are in the "windows as a service" model and updates stay free how does it replace the revenue stream? For example, I paid to upgrade from XP to 7 while keeping the same PC (told you I was a mug). How will they now decide when I stop getting updates for free and I must pay if we are past big Windows version releases?

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US data suggests Windows 10 adoption in business is slowing

BigAndos

Windows 7 is still in support

My company (large household name UK retailer) only completed it's migration away from Windows XP to Windows 7 about a year ago. There is no way they will consider migrating to Windows 10 in the near future. The end of extended support for Windows 7 Enterprise is 14th January 2020. My company, and most large companies, will probably starting thinking about moving to Windows 10 (or 11 who knows?) sometime around 13th January 2020 and will then take another 6 months to plan and complete. Mind you since we moved to Google Apps for business, for about 80% of our users a chromebook would do the job now - were it not for legacy applications that need IE.

Many companies who have migrated to date are probably SMEs, who may not even use Windows enterprise/WSUS and so their users probably got the "do you want to upgrade" prompt and mindlessly clicked yes - upgrade by accident!

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Watch it Apple: time has come for cheaper rivals' strap-ons

BigAndos

I didn't know about the Casio and Citizen watches, they actually seem like good products! Only annoyance is the Citizen only seems to work with iPhone. The Casio would work with my Android but some of them are pretty ugly. Still worth keeping an eye on developments. For me I genuinely believe getting notifications on your wrist is the only case for getting one of these at the moment, and if other companies are able to deliver this sole feature with better battery life and (for Chronos at least) lower cost than an iWatch / Gear watch.....

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BigAndos

I actually quite like the look of the Chronos. It is a bluetooth module that clips on the back of your regular watch and can be set to vibrate if you get a call etc. Also, the battery lasts a few days. Not exactly vital but I'm forever missing calls /texts while phone is in my pocket.

That is pretty much the only function of an iWatch I would like, and the Chronos plans to do it for $90 on preorder - much cheaper! I may well make an order if I have some money to burn at any point.

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Smartphone growth? Not in Q1, says IDC

BigAndos

Phones are good enough

When there used to be a real difference between generations of phones people would prioritise getting a new shiny thing as soon as their contract was up. Now phones have reached the same state as PCs and tablets and are generally "good enough", people don't feel this pressure.

I used to be a right mug (sorry "early adopter") and count down the days until my contract would let me upgrade. A few years ago I swapped to SIM only and just buy a new handset outright when the old one breaks. I bought an S7 recently after my G3 bit the dust and I can honestly say I can't think of many things that would make me replace it apart from it breaking out of warranty!

I think the next big things that will move the market will be 1) a battery that lasts a week on one charge or 2) someone cracking "wearables" and actually making a Google Glass style product that is desirable and useful. Until those happen more flatlining/declining sales!

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Intel literally decimates workforce: 12,000 will be axed, CFO shifts to sales

BigAndos

Re: Profits over a billion and they cut staff?

Yes our database infrastructure rarely struggles on CPU power, it is more RAM (and by extension storage) that holds us up these days.

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UK competition watchdog gripes to Brussels about Three-O2 merger

BigAndos

There is little competition anyway

There is very limited competition in any case. Most of the operators offer a broadly equivalent set of tariffs, especially now Three have jacked their prices up. The only real competition is on network coverage, and joining O2 and Three would probably help someone else compete with EE.

I recently moved from Vodafone, whose coverage is dreadful outside of major citie, to EE, whose coverage is better where I tend to go. I did this based on checking Ofcom's coverage checker in the end and EE were the only real option. If O2 and Three's networks were combined, and invested in as promised, I might have actually had a choice on who I went with!

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Oculus Rift review-gasm round-up: The QT on VR

BigAndos

Really want a go but I'll wait to buy one

I think the WSJ sums it up for me! I'm really excited about seeing how the latest generation of VR performs but there is no way in hell I'd buy one yet. When a new (or revitalised in this case) class of tech item comes on the market you are normally bit of a mug if you rush out and buy the first one. First off competitors are launching products later this year (Playstation, HTC) and I think this market will need competition to drive prices down.

Secondly it will take a while to see which the best supported platform is! I'd rather wait a year or too until prices come down and we can see which platform has the killer apps. Or of course, see if it all dies a death!

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Samsung Galaxy S7: Big brand Android flagship champ

BigAndos

Re: Awesome Phone

I just got one as well and I love it, such a massive upgrade over my LG G3. Everything is smooth and fluid, battery lasts for ages and I can't wait to give the camera a proper workout. Touchwiz is less annoying than it was on my old S4, although I did almost immediately give in and install Nova launcher.

My only minor quibble is I find it fiddly to activate the edge panel, typically it will either register the swipe from the side as a touch on the screen in that spot, or it will register a touch on the screen AND open the edge panel. That aside, I think this is easily the best Android phone ever made. If only it had been cheaper :)

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Apple stuns world with Donald Trump iPhone

BigAndos

Re: 30 seconds of my life...

Yeah, I think the next "big" news in mobile will be when someone manages to turn a concept like Google glass into something practical and desirable. Until then incremental upgrades ahoy!

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BigAndos

Actually quite a sensible move by Apple. I think Smartphones have gotten as big as they practically can for now, and plenty of people want something small, easy to handle and unobtrusive that can still run all the big apps smoothly. The only issue is there are plenty of cheaper Android phones that have similar capabilities but Apple's strong points are:

1) Immediate delivery of iOS updates, although to less technical users this might be meaningless.

2) Ease of use. Android has made great strides here but I think Apple still offer and easier "pick up and go" experience.

3) Apps. Again, Android has caught up but big apps or updates still seem to hit iOS first.

I recently bought a Samsung S7 Edge but did toy with the idea of a 6S plus. While the S7 is great, you do get the confusion added by Samsung's bloatware - multiple calender and messaging apps etc. My previous LG G3 was similar with loads of unwanted guff added and multiple, non removable apps for the same purpose.

Now this cheaper Apple option has emerged it may be harder to decide against it next time I upgrade - I could live with a smaller screen for such a big price difference and a more streamlined experience!

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You say I mustn’t write down my password? Let me make a note of that

BigAndos

Re: XKCD

That cartoon made a very good point actually. Sentences are easy to remember but would take a long time to break in a dictionary attack. Many password policies enforce a maximum length limit, and insist on mixtures of upper/lower case, numbers, punctuation etc. Combined with the fact "single sign on" is still a distant dream in many workplaces it is no wonder people find it hard to keep track of all their passwords!

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Yelp minimum wage row shines spotlight on … broke, fired employee

BigAndos

London is going this way too

I think the solution in this case is not to work in San Francisco until you have moved up the ladder a bit and increased your earning power.

This is the exact same advice I'd give to anyone starting out on their tech career in the UK.London is also heading this way, with rents and property values spiralling out of control but entry level wages not budging.

Start out in cheaper cities like Leeds or Birmingham, then move to London only if you REALLY want and have the experience to command a better salary. As well as lower costs helping your bank balance, if enough people do this then tech companies in big cities (be it London or SF) may have to start paying a living wage in order to get the entry level talent they need.

For the UK specifically, an even better outcome is for more companies to move technical jobs to provincial cities and spread the wealth around the UK a bit more. If they can't attract the talent they need in London at a reasonable salary any more they may have to look elsewhere in the UK. The concentration in London has become unhealthy and unsustainable for any number of reasons (housing, public services, transport...).

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India to add seven new elite IT training institutes

BigAndos

Re: What exactly will they teach?

Yeah ability to think on feet while problem solving can be lacking. I think a lot of the universities in India just teach people to cram and lean to parrot back set answers in exams. While I have worked with a number of excellent IT staff who've been through an Indian university, I've unfortunately worked with far more who are seemingly incapable of thinking laterally!

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Airbnb confirms it raised $1.5bn in spite of regulatory worries

BigAndos

Air B&B is really hit and miss, you can tell they do minimal vetting of owners and listings. I've recently been trying to book somewhere and most of the owners never respond to you. The listings are usually vague with poor quality pictures e.g. a place won't tell you how many beds there are. Unless they spend a bit of that cash improving quality they may struggle in the long term. I voted with my wallet and used a dedicated cottage rental website in the end!

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Star Wars Battlefront: Is this the shooter you’re looking for?

BigAndos

Re: Move along

"Sadly this is where almost every multi-player experience I've had has ended up."

Yep! After some bad early experiences in World of Warcraft to this day I won't play multiplayer with people I don't know.

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Uber wants UK gov intervention over TfL’s '5-minute wait' rule

BigAndos

What if the uber driver was actually only a minute away? Do they have to drive round the block for 5 minutes? Or park and clog up the street and ignore you until the timer counts down?

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Seven-year itch claims Splunk CEO

BigAndos

Re: Splunk?

We use Splunk for monitoring performance of our web servers. It uses Hadoop to do lots of trendy sounding big data type things and then can present it in nice animated graphs/dashboards. (I'm a SQL developer so Hadoop et al are a bit beyond me so far).

It is also very handy to to search through terabytes of log files when you need to diagnose an issue.

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Apple's Watch charging pad proves Cupertino still screwing buyers

BigAndos

Re: Again?

Finally, a proper answer to iCloud! When I switched from iOS to Android this was the only serious thing I missed, although it has gradually improved since Android 4. Now all I'd have to do is 1) wait for an Android 6 build for my phone (probably via Cyanogenmod) and 2) for all my favourite apps to support the latest API version :-\

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Microsoft rolls out first 'major update' to Windows 10

BigAndos

Didn't even notice!

This must have been what the very brief "configuring windows" message that flashed up on PC last night was all about. They do seem to have made the update process less intrusive than it used to be, just as well as they force them on you!

I must say Windows 10 has been very smooth for me since upgrading from Windows 7. It boots up in half the time W7 did and no crashes or bugs that have affected me. To be honest though, apart from improved boot up time there are no new features I've actually used :-\. Oh well I'll take a 50% boot time improvement for free!

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NHS IT must spend a fortune to save a fortune, says McKinsey

BigAndos
Coat

Large scale NHS IT project? Nothing could possibly go wrong, bound to be a roaring success!

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EE reports flat Q3 sales, keeps mum on Power Bar recall debacle

BigAndos

Re: Customer service?

Are they really that bad compared to others? I've been with Vodafone for years but am planning to jump ship after my contract is up. I was eyeing up EE as they keep scoring highly in coverage tests (e.g. rootmetrics) and network is my main issue with Vodafone. However, I keep seeing horror stories about their service!

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Google Chromecast 2015: Puck-on-a-string fun ... why not, for £30?

BigAndos

Re: a single streaming box that can handle all of the content providers

Amazon are being especially rubbish at supporting a range of devices. Maybe I'll just vote with my feet and stop using them! Roku 3 is so nearly there, it is only missing Amazon which funnily enough is present in the UK. Rumours are Sky paid them a bung to not support their service in the UK as part of the contract to make the Now TV box for them!

This is also pretty hilarious. Isn't it up to Amazon to add Chromecast or Apple TV support to those devices?

http://venturebeat.com/2015/10/01/amazon-bans-sale-of-apple-tv-and-chromecast-because-they-dont-offer-prime-video/

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BigAndos

This still doesn't address the relative lack of content

I use my mark 1 Chromecast extensively for iPlayer, renting films via Play and netflix and it works like a dream. It has the best user experience of any streaming box I've tried. My Samsung "smart" Bluray is slow, clunky and apps like Netflix keep getting pulled.

However, the irritation with Chromecast is the lack of people making native apps for it. As the article mentions, outside of Google properties, iPlayer, Netflix and Now TV there are just a load of no name apps. I also want ITV player, All 4, Demand 5 and Amazon Instant Video. It is annoying having to stream these from my PC via casting from Chrome.

I can't find a single streaming box that can handle all of the content providers I want to watch. If Google could find a way to let you start streaming video from any source via your mobile/tablet only then Chromecast would be the best thing since sliced bread. I suppose that will wait until all content providers are using HTML 5.

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BT boss: If Ofcom backs us, we promise to speed up UK broadband

BigAndos

I like how even the "universal minimum" is a range, typical BT weasel words! Why not just say 5mpbs minimum? Obviously higher would better!

Mixed feelings on this topic. BT is an inefficient behemoth, but I'm not convinced breaking it up would help much and might just add a load more complexity and extra costs to be borne by the consumer (see the privatisation of the rail network for an example).

However, maybe the remainder of BT would be a bit more aggressive about chasing up Openreach for repairs if split into truly separate companies. Interested to see how the arguments on both sides shape up.

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Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows: The spirit of Clippy lives on

BigAndos

Re: Excel Co Authoring or not?

We use Google Docs at work, and the real time collaboration in Sheets works very nicely. However, I still have to use Excel for any serious number crunching and it would be great if they got that working properly in a future version of Office!

Were it not for Excel I would never use Office anymore, for my limited Word and PPT requirements google docs does the lot.

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Honor 7 – heir apparent to the mid-range Android crown

BigAndos

This looks like fantastic value for £250 (£210 with the money off code!). Would prefer if they just put stock android on it though, I've had 'droids from both Samsung and LG and I think the manufacturers UI skins always get in the way more than they help.

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Windows 10 blamed (partly) for stalled PC sales recovery

BigAndos
FAIL

Did they *REALLY* believe people would rush out and buy a new PC just because there is a new version of windows on it? Joe Public: "Hmm I think I may spend £500 on a laptop because Windows 10 is out".

I think since XP the general public views a new version of Windows as a bit of a pain in the bottom rather than a reason to buy new kit. In fact the majority of users probably don't really know what "new version of Windows" even means. Not saying that to sound superior, but based on my observations of non technical friends/family.

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Ashley Madison hacked potential competitor, leaked emails suggest

BigAndos

They really do sound like a thoroughly horrid company!

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Using SQL techniques in NoSQL is OK, right? WRONG

BigAndos

Re: Interesting, but

I second your article suggestion, this would be really interesting. In my previous job at a consulting firm I went on a two day MongoDB course as they were trying to build a "big data" capability without really knowing why. I found the course interesting but at the end I came away from it not that sure why I would want to use it.

The main advantage I could see was the ease of scaling horizontally with sharding as doing this type of thing is very, very difficult with a conventional RDBMS. However, I've also never encountered a situation where "eventual consistency" was deemed acceptable.

Also, with a well designed and well indexed SQL database you can handle "moderately big" data fairly well. In my current job I managed a data warehouse built using £15k of commodity wintel hardware, SQL Server 2008R2 and fast SAN storage, and we can run queries across hundreds of millions of rows of data and joining numerous tables in seconds.

What would be fascinating is to see how NoSQL could handle "properly big" data and how people get around the consistency issues. For example, I would love to import the full event stream from our Adobe SiteCatalyst instance and query it - is this the kind of thing I can turn to NoSQL for?

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Two weeks of Windows 10: Just how is Microsoft doing?

BigAndos

Works well for me so far

I was brave and installed a day after it came out. Upgrade process was exceptionally smooth, and haven't (yet) felt the need to do a clean install either. It boots incredibly quickly, my entirely subjective estimate is that the desktop is usable in about half the time from cold boot as it was in Windows 7.

Aside from that though... well it doesn't get in the way like Windows 8 did. And it looks a bit shinier. Otherwise not a giant leap forward, although I am always grateful for improved performance! For free though, I'm not complaining. I always said with Windows 8, which was also a bit quicker in the release candiate I tried, it wasn't worth £100 or more for an incremental upgrade when Apple charged £20 so glad they've listened on that front.

Be interesting to see how their lofty ambitions to keep adding features works out - whether they can find a regular stream of useful things to add, or it is a stream of tweaks for the sake of tweaks remains to be seen.

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Happy birthday, Amiga: The 'other' home computer turns 30

BigAndos
Happy

Re: First steps

I followed the same path as you! Quite liked my spectrum but only really messed around on it. Eventually got an A1200 for Christmas when I was about 12 and that started a love of computers that has never ended. Even set me on the path for an IT career!

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Reddit meltdown: Top chat boards hidden as rebellion breaks out

BigAndos

I really love Reddit. Some of the bigger subreddits (subs) are a bit too easy to get lost in and can be full of junk/spam/reposts, but there are a lot of really active smaller communities where you can get some great discussion going. For example, people set up subs for a specific series of books or a TV show. It seems a bit less prone to flamewars than older sites like Digg back in the day, although naturally you get exceptions to that rule :-)

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Time to face the Apple Music: Spotify looks worried, and rightly so

BigAndos

Re: I do hope this isn't a issue.

Yep! I love the fact I can sit at my PC in the evening, save a few new albums I want to stream and then save them offline on my Anrdoid phone to listen do during my commute. Or my girlfriend can do the same on my PC and then either download them to her iPad or her Android phone. Spotify does work really well cross device and it does have a great catalogue. I have always desperately hoped they would become profitable and stick around.

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Scientists love MacBooks (true) – but what about you?

BigAndos

I had an iMac at home for three years and I absolutely loved it. Easy to use, beautiful hardware and on the occasion I needed to run some other software I could use bootcamp with my spare Windows 7 license.

However after the three years there was no hope in hell of upgrading it to handle the latest games. So I gritted my teeth and built myself a Windows machine so I could easily rebuild in future with upgraded components.

In short, if only Macs were more upgradeable / user repairable I would still be a loyal Mac user.

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