248 posts • joined Wednesday 4th July 2012 15:29 GMT
The beginning of wisdom...
Qualifications are extremely valuable (not just for the extra money that they might earn you). Undertaking a recognised course with an examination should show that you have been tested to prove your skills and that you can demonstrate the ability to look at a situation and offer a sensible solution to a given problem. It should also show that you have the ability to think critically about your own work; and confirm if what you think you know is correct.
Experience is what you gain as you work in a given area; and it can be highly valuable. However, experience does not always mean that someone is working to the most practical or efficient method. All too often, people find a way that works and then they use that same method whatever the situation. It can be very effective; I've seen experts look at an issue and quickly identify the problem. But equally, I've seen people leap into fixing a problem and just make it worse because they thought that they knew what the issue was without actually bothering to check all of the facts (because they "knew better than anyone else").
Personally, I would be happy to listen to anyone based upon both experience and qualification. But I would still reserve judgement until I was happy that what they said was proven to be accurate. I'm probably biased; I have some qualifications and many years experience; but that doesn't mean that I think I'm always right.
There is an old saying; "The beginning of wisdom is the statement 'I do not know'"
Re: The OS is irrelevent
>>the user would be told, "Allowing this app to have this access is rated as having a high level of risk."<<
And then the malware writer changes the text so that it reads "Apple has confirmed that installing this app will have no adverse effect" - and people click on the link because they trust it.
If you have 10 "experts" telling someone "you should not do this" and 1 "expert" saying that it's OK, they will listen to the 1; because he / she is telling them what they want to hear. That's just the way that people are.
A couple of years ago, I found out that a lot of the staff were deleting emails, but leaving them in the "Deleted Items" folder.
We had set-up a GPO to force Outlook to clear the contents of the deleted items when closing Outlook; it caused a major shit storm when people started complaining. They actually thought that this was sensible way to save emails.
Users; don't you just love them!
MPs = Hypocrites
>>"Tax is something that is a legal obligation that you should pay. <<
This is true; but no-one is under any legal or moral obligation to arrange their tax affairs for the benefit of the taxman or to pay one penny more than the law requires.
The tax laws are an omnishambles; they have become so complex that most people (including MPs) simply cannot be aware of every single possible scenario. In fact, most MPs now emply specialist advisors who tell them how to avoid paying more tax than the law requires. In particular, most of those on the committee are themselves taking advantage of some of the particular arrangements used by these large businesses to reduce their own tax bill.
Pot = kettle?
I worked with SAP systems for five years; I think that the product design is out dated, processes are bureaucratic and not easy to learn; and the implementation process is generally very cumbersome. But if it is correctly configured and managed it does actually work.
Unfortunately, IBM have a record of promising the customer that they will manage and deliver a working system, but then buy in the cheapest people that they can find to work on the project (whilst charging the client an arm and a leg). These contractors often have limited experience or knowledge of SAP or its implementation; the result is inevitable.
As for the costs; I tried to find out what would be involved in that figure of $AU1.2 billion but there don't seem to be any hard figures. If it includes new hardware, a complete redesign, transfer of data, internal staff costs etc, then I would expect it to be around a tenth of that for the size of operation. It could be that they are asking for compensation for all the trouble caused; good luck on that!
SAP will probably stay at arms length from this (as they do with most other failures). The Queensland government has a contract with IBM so they have to sue them. If they try to get at SAP, their lawyers will simply show that the software works elesewhere and it is down to the implementation. IBM will probably try to off load blame onto the contractors, staff, managers; everyone they can (and yes I've been at the receiving end of something like this)
I feel sorry for the residents of Queensland; they are the ones that will end up paying for this cockup.
I grew up in Pompey; there were whole areas where houses had been destroyed, those around them damaged and then all pulled down because they were unsafe. Whole blocks of open space where people had lived. The problem was that for a long time after the war, there was not the money to re-build these houses.
There was an estimate that about 10% of explosive bombs didn't explode on contact with the ground. (There were a very large number of smaller incendiaries which people often forget about.) In some cases, this was because they were rigged with devices to blow up later, often when the UXB squad were trying to make them safe. I was talking to an ex-army captain a few years ago that told me they estimate there are still many hundreds of bombs (possibly even over a thousand) that are still buried somewhere inside the M25 circle.
Re: That's "Hoist with" That's "Hoist by" ... (was: Hoist with own petard)
Actually, you are probably correct.
The "Petard" was an early explosive device; after the fuse had been lit, one of the peasants would be instructed to carry it to a position at the base of a castle wall (by a doorway or or other potential weak spot) and then to get the hell away as quickly as possible before it went off. Not always easy; those inside the castle treated attackers with various interesting ways of inflicting pain or death which could make retreat very difficult. The fuses in those days were exceptionally unpredictable and often went off before they were due to.
So the peasant (or what was left of him) would be thrown into the air by the device. However, as the remains of the petard would be heading skyward with him, both could be said to be grammatically correct; although I doubt that the poor peasant would be overly concerned about the niceties of grammar in this case!
Re: Looks like the civil servants have been rumbled
>>they promise they won't use it for shits and giggles<<
That's OK; until someone giggles and shits!
Re: Looks like the civil servants have been rumbled
>>(I've got Blunkett, Straw, Smith and May. Have I missed any) <<
After Blunkett were Charles Clarke and John Reid.
I have to agree with you; it's clear that this is not a party political agenda, but one that is being proposed / promoted by the civil servants / heads of security or military. The question is, what do they get out of it? (In most cases, it is power or money or both.)
I'd say that it has become obvious that the people promoting this dreadful idea are quite simply unfit to hold any public office; and should be removed from their positions at the earliest possibility. They should never be allowed to work in any position where they have even the slightest influence in future.
I remember the first moon landing (I sneaked downstairs and sat about a foot away from the TV screen with the volume down). I also tried to watch all of the other missions and I do recall some of the antics of Cernan and Schmitt as they collected data and drove around.
To me aged 16, it seemed inevitable that there would be further exploration; a base on the moon, radio telescopes on the far side (to avoid the "radio" pollution coming from Earth), then a mission to Mars all before the end of the century. It was great time for science, for the evolution of the Human Race.
Sadly, not to be. Politicians took control, money was spent elsewhere, the media decided that we needed more soap operas, not space operas, the urge to investigate the unknown was crushed wherever it appeared.
I salute those that took those first steps; I hope that they were not the last, just the last so far.
Re: "genetic anomalies are a key part of evolution by natural selection?"
>>What would really help is a huge database identifying all the thick / ill people, the first thing to do (at the most simplistic level) would be to eradicate these genes from our progeny. <<
A certain leader in the last century (Hr. A. Hitler) had exactly this idea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensborn
Similar plans were proposed at a number of different Eugenics conferences during the early 20th century; what's interesting is that this is now banned under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. I wonder if their database (sorry, "data infrastructure") could also be construed to be a breach of this?
A well reasoned and written article
I've asked the question before "where are these ideas originating". We see them being put forward, shot down, and then re-appearing under a different name a short while later.
It's not a party political thing; the idea has been promoted by several different Home Secretaries of differing political stripes. Whilst the author identifies one particular civil servant, I suspect that is just a semi public face that is seen by the ministers; the driver is more likely to be hiding away in darker shadows. I've no idea what their motivation is, but it cannot be to anyone's benefit.
I'm pleased that some of the MPs are starting to wake up to how dangerous this idea really is; they will not gain from it any more than the average UK citizen. In fact, they probably have more to lose; can you imagine the effect on an MP that is having a minor dalliance with a party activist? Being blackmailed as a result of information gleaned from this odious idea is just the start of their problems.
From previous projects, it's proven that they cannot be trusted to implement, manage or operate such a programme; and it is likely that we would see major cost overruns at a time when we really cannot afford to waste public money. Anyone that continues to promote this idiotic plan should be prevented from ever holding any public office at all as they are clearly one step away from tanks of sharks with frikkin' laser beams!
Re: All joking aside..
Think about this one: annual expenditure in the USA
NASA = $18 billion
Alcoholic drinks = $160 billion
Re: Some Obvious Reasons.....
Security - it doesn't really matter how "secure" a given product is, if the people managing it don't use suitably secure processes. The weakest link is always the person managing the system.
TCO - no it's not just a marketing term. Unfortunately, a lot of technical people have little or no understanding of finance. If you run a business, there is one mantra above all; you have to manage costs if you are to survive.
Functionality - agreed, this is subjective. However, are you aware that you can install Server 2012 as "Server Core" - basically just the shell, no GUI. All admin done using PowerShell cmdlets.
Performance - agreed that the hardware is fundamental. But software can have an impact when providing network access.
All joking aside..
There are a lot of people (in the USA and outside of it) that complain about the US space programme; one of the most common complaints is ".. all that money is wasted.." (or similar comments).
The total expenditure on the US space programme since the 1960s works out at about 5 cents per person in the USA per day over that time; are there any sweets (candies) that can still be purchased for that price anymore? (a single strip of gum for example). Most people (in the UK at least) spend more than that every day on using their mobile phone.
Meanwhile, a lot of technology (OK not all, but a lot) has been proven to have applications in many other areas; medicine, engineering, communications, navigation, meterology, amongst others. Many tens of thousands of jobs were created in the public sector, but many hundreds of thousands were created in the private sector (some of them in other countries as well).
Any large scale project of this kind can have a re-vitalising affect on a nation; just think of the feel good factor that came from the Olympics this year.
(A useful discussion can be found here http://www.freakonomics.com/2008/01/11/is-space-exploration-worth-the-cost-a-freakonomics-quorum/)
Give us the service...
...and we will pay for it.
I'd be more than happy to pay these sorts of one-off fees. I had to arrange for a leased line install at the beginning of last year and the installation fee for that was more than two grand.
I've been making the point to BT for many years that we need the connectivity now in order for the business to be a global player; and I've been able to demonstrate that we would use the faster connectivity if it were available.
We were getting by, but there is no question that the lack of a modern service offer from BT was starting to adversely impact the business; we had no option but to go to a different supplier this year and already we are starting to see some of the benefits.
I'd bet that there are a lot of other SMEs and even larger firms that could really make use of better connectivity; and once they see the advantages, they would take the same view that the ROI makes the costs of the fees a very small price to pay.
Aim for the stars..
... you might hit the ceiling.
Sometimes we need these really big projects; partly to test out what is possible but also to stimulate fresh ideas and new ways of thinking about problems.
They get a thumbs up from me
Hoist with own petard
A story that I am assured is true from the mainframe days (late 70s / early 80s).
Someone was leaving the company under a cloud and decided that he would cause a problem for the other people that were still working there (he was not well liked). He got back into the building and let himself into the server room late on the Friday and removed certain key items that would effectively cause the whole mainframe to shut down and would require many hours of work to re-install.
Unfortunately, at the same time, this caused the lock on the computer room door door to freeze as the swipe entry mechanism was controlled by one of the systems that he had disabled. The guy was stuck in the room until security found him about 6 hours later; he hadn't been able to get the mainframe back up and running. The systems manager was called in and it took another couple of hours to get in and do the repairs.
He got a ride in a police car for that little stunt!
Had a phone call from a lady who's company had bought a new version of our software. Unfortunately, the manager had messed up the install routine; so it wouldn't run. He had given the job to her of calling us up to get the problem resolved
After about 30 seconds of talking, it was clear that the poor lady had not the faintest clue of how to use a computer. I had to explain to her how to use a mouse to move the pointer around the screen; then once she understood that, I asked her to click on the "Start" button. Unfortunately she interpreted this as pressing the power button; she had turned the PC off.
I had already identified the main problem with the software; they hadn't followed instructions and she just needed to delete the empty licence file and then re-licence. But here things got worse; trying to explain over the phone how to navigate through the directory structure was not easy.
It took a further 45 minutes to talk her through finding the file, deleting it, and then I was able to read out a new licence key to her and talk her through entering the code. Total call time just under 1 hour.
After I put the phone down, I had to go outside and stand in the fresh air - I actually had a headache caused by this.
Re: Couple of points
Re: Couple of points
>>So you would deprive your ten year old child of her laptop for several months <<
a 10 year old doesn't "need" a laptop
>>causing no end of stress for the family<<
That is a valid point. I would agree that this might cause someone to consider paying off the heavies; but what if they come back next year for more? At what point would you say enough?
>>rather than pay 300 Euros to make it go away?<<
If you have done nothing wrong, why should you pay? The amount is irrelevant.
>> just to make a point that frankly won't make an iota of difference in the scheme of things<<
I disagree; if he had stood up to them, he would have set a precedent and that would then set the standard by which judges would rule in the future.
I'm sure that these guys might have wanted a quiet life, but they chose to stand up and be counted when it mattered. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolpuddle_Martyrs
Some years ago..
... I read the EULA for a piece of proprietary software (because I was bored, OK?). They had probably cropped some of the text directly from another licence and hadn't bothered to read what was there.
I had a meeting with them a few weeks later and remembered what I had seen. It turned out that we were possibly using the software illegally and I felt that they should be aware of this.
The key phrase was something like ".. in cases of lighting..." instead of "lightning". So the agreement indicated that we couldn't use the software if the lights were turned on and they took no responsibility for any problems if they occurred.
Everyone had a good laugh at this, but it did get me wondering, what would happen if a supplier did try to use an error in an agreement to their advantage.
Never did find out.
Couple of points
The 10 year old child was accused of downloading; but she wasn't able to do so and the track was bought the following day. Therefore she didn't "pinch" anything. I'd refuse to pay one penny, let it go to court and then request damages and costs and make sure that the press were given sufficient access to show these people up for exactly what they are.
Chisu is the stage name of Christel Martina Sundberg - a female, not a male. Her work, not his work.
Quote from Benjamin Franklyn
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"
Pretty much says it all.
The IT crowd
I'm currenlty dealing with an outsourced IT service group.
The password policy is age (max 35 days), complexity (chars & numbers but no specials), length (min 8 max 12), history (not one of the previous 24). However, they don't operate a single sign on, so there are multiple domains and systems, each using different account name, details and passwords.
Because of this, they get a very large number of support requests for unlocking accounts / resetting passwords. They have a user accessible password reset tool; but it only works part of the time due to network issues. They also insist that if they have to unlock an account, they also have to reset the password every time.
All of this causes them a bit of hassle; whenever they have to unlock an account or reset a password, they always change it to abcd1234. Then they stop you from changing your password for 24 hours.
Not just Governments
Some companies also censor what their staff and contractors can see on the Internet. Not just to prevent access to pr0n, but also to prevent access to such dodgy sites as news sites, certain web forums, social media (apart from the CEO's promotional blog which all staff have to read every week) etc.
I'm waiting for them to block my access to ElReg
Re: Apparently there's a 'safe place' somewhere in France...
...ne pas oublier les oignons!
Re: The LAST big mistake of cloud computing
>>most company's IT strategy<<
Currently working at a large organisation; I have to say that my current thoughts are "What IT strategy?".
I may be wrong, but I get the feeling that there are a lot of businesses that really don't actually have any real "IT Strategy" as such, just a couple of thoughts based around "we need to use technology as a differentiator" without any understanding of how it might be designed and implemented, how to use it, how to measure if it does anything or how to make it all work.
Certainly, many businesses have lots of policy documents, but these seem to be more about HR / QA ticking boxes to say "we have a policy" rather than any real intention to implement something that is practical and will work.
As a result, some vendor salesman speaks to the senior managers and sells them on the idea of (for example) cloud offerings; they buy the idea without actually understanding more than a fraction of the consequences. Then, as you say, someone else has to clean up the mess left behind.
It is a challenging target
We need to upgrade the national infrastructure; almost everyone agrees with this. Unfortunately, everyone wants to be next to be upgraded (yes me too) but it takes time to get the work done.
Unfortunately, the telecomms networks are in much the same state as the railways were back in the 50s. Too little investment - and in the case of the telecomms, it's more apparent because of the more rapid changes in technology.
BT used to have the staff to do the work, but trimmed back on their workforce a long time ago. They rely quite heavily now on some contractors to do a proportion of the work (many of whom were trained by BT!)
I'm not trying to defend BT; on the contrary, we are in this situation because of their lack of planning. But I can't see that we are going to get the network we need until there is some serious political pressure to make it happen and at the moment, I just don't see that anywhere.
I would agree that the press needs to be held to account; being able to make things up and then print them as fact has to be wrong. (This allows for genuine mistakes)
But I do get concerned at any suggestion that there should be further government intrusion. Quite simply, they are just too bloody incompetent to do a job right, they are even less trustworthy than the press and it would end up being more money from our taxes to pay for some self-important twerp(s) to sit on his (their) arse(s) and do sod all.
Do I have an answer? No; I wish I did. Breaking up some of the media groups might help, but I'm not too sure that would be enough.
Here the interesting thing; I go onto (for example) a Microsoft UK website. The behavioural ad tracking then delivers adverts in French (possibly because the company breakout is in the Netherlands).
That's fine, but then when I use the laptop from someone else's wifi, the ads in French still appear even for several days after.
As my language skills are on a par with my ability to see through walls, adverts in French don't really "couper le moutarde"; but hey, it's their money to waste.
>>Dixons Retail says it's positioned to capitalise on Comet's collapse<<
So rather than offer a better product, they just want to carry on selling the same crap and offer the same awful service to the punters that might have gone to a former competitor.
Nice business model.
There was a comment on a previous article (I think)
A man showing his daughter one of the old rotary dial phones (from c. 1965). She looked at the phone with some puzzlement then asked "how do you send texts daddy?"
It's old fart time again
>>All the “exceeds expectations” rankings this person had received were lowered to “fails to meet expectations<<
I've seen that situation; someone changed the definitions to show a below acceptable score resulting in the person being fired. However, the person had managed to keep a paper copy of all of the forms; these were handed to a legal advisor. Once the company had received a letter detailing the exact information and realised they had been caught out, they quickly agreed to a very handsome settlement out of court. The person concerned is now quite happily enjoying an early retirement with many years still to go and no need to ever work again. (And it was someone working in HR!)
The review process should be a very valuable way of motivating staff; sadly, we have too many PHBs that know bugger all apart from what bonus they should be getting.
Re: Not just London
I've used APCOA and Ringo; both set-up by mobile phone. Found them to be really easy to use at a number of locations. Also used it to extend parking when I realised I'd been a twerp and hadn't paid for the fifth day of parking. Great as well for when you are in a hurry for the train and don't have the cash to pay the parking up front. I did use their website to download invoices for the parking, so that I could reclaim my expenses; found it very easy to do.
I even managed to get some others from within the company to try it out; in all but one instance, they found it really easy to use. The only one of them with a problem was someone that seems to struggle with any form of technology (the one that insisted on having a laptop, but then never took it off the desk docking station - ever).
Not just London
There are a number of companies that offer phone to pay for parking services up and down the country.
One of the staff had an email that was supposed to be from one of these; had the logo and everything to make it look genuine. The only thing that stopped him opening the attachment was that part of the text was written rather badly and he spotted a spelling error of the company name so it didn't match the logo.
I try not to keep warning people about scam emails (on the basis that people might think I'm crying wolf) but I tend to send a message out at this time of year just to warn people to be on their guard.
What a great article; what an amazing story (the best stories are always true).
Many years ago, I had an opportunity to work overseas. I didn't pursure it, so don't know if I would actually have got the job, but I've often wondered how different my life would have been had I gone ahead with the application. I still feel a little regret even after having read other accounts of people that had bad experiences.
Best of luck to him for his future.
In some respects, this is similar to what started to happen in the retail sector many years ago.
The bigger suprmarket chains started to look at how to cut prices and deliver more; scale is key, but also making sure that the technology is used to its maximum capability to deliver efficiencies. However, they also found that they could "persuade" suppliers to do similar things; upscale production, cut costs, deliver more for less.
Those that did well, bought out the smaller players or the ones that couldn't / didn't keep up. Remember names like Fine Fare, International, David Greig, Gateway, Ford & Lock, Victor Value, et al. In most cases, it was simply a quick way to expand, to get more customers and sell more to squeeze the supplier.
To begin with, the winner is the consumer; they get a great deal at a good price funded by squeezed margins. However, there always comes a point where the cuts are too deep and businesses are not making a profit. You can survive for a while, but as a business model, running without making a profit is insane.
It will be interesting to see how far this develops.
Re: Skills shortage
Beat me to it.
At the moment, there still seems to be a serious disconnect between businesses and their IT. I've had a couple of discussions with senior business managers and they really don't seem to be able to understand how they should be using IT within their business. If they can't identify what they need, how can they determine if they are appointing the right people with appropriate skills?
I used to deal with a company that supplied some services and they were pretty good. Then they were bought out by the group that is now called Phoenix (TGTINCP - catchy!) and service went through the floor.
They really didn't seem to be that interested any more in the Small / Medium market where they had built their business; they just seemed to want to go after big contracts. A shame as they alienated their good customers and haven't really picked up anything like the business from the bigger outfits that they thought they would.
I stopped dealing with them nearly 2 years ago and they weren't even bothered enough to find out why.
Obviously it would be better if the person going up had specific skills to make them a contributor to the actual programme; perhaps even better if they had a specific project that was going to enhance the flight.
But I suppose that the publicity she would generate for the project would be worth more than the money that she is paying, so from the point of view of maintaining interest, it's a good thing.
I still think that it's a shame that the average person doesn't get excited by the thought that we have people working permanently in space; and that they would rather watch TOWIE than something that is advancing human knowledge
Re: Anyone ever heard of due diligence
>>do I take the word of a CEO with years of management experience, that understands how company law works<<
Someone desperately trying to hang onto her job.
Fixed it for you.
Re: Anyone ever heard of due diligence
>>Maybe you should go back and read the original article and those that followed.<<
I have; and so far all I have seen is that the HP board claimed to have received information from an ex-employee. So far, they have still shown no hard evidence of any actual failings; nor have KPMG or Deloitte.
>>Leo's responsibility, and he's already gone.<<
Wrong, it's the whole board.
Re: Anyone ever heard of due diligence
Remember Enron? You cannot waive your responsibility to due diligence; you can hire in other people with more experience, but it is still your responsibility to ensure that they are doing their job.
KPMG were hired to check the accounting used by Autonomy; HP's board still have to check that they did so and that they undertook the work in the appropriate manner. If KPMG simply wrote to Deloitte and asked them if it was all OK, then they are not doing their jobs. If the HP board didn't check that KPMG were actually investigating the books, then they are not doing their job.
Now the question is, are there any inconsistencies in the accounts? If there were and they weren't picked up, then either (or both) KPMG and Deloitte are at fault. If there were none, then why are the HP board now saying that there were? (And further what evidence have they shown for their statement?) If the HP board are now saying that they were aware of financial impropriety, but still went ahead with the deal, then quite simply they should be fired on the spot.
methinks they doth protest too much...
Re: Sorry, third world, you need to STAY POOR
>>Last I heard, human ingenuity has no limits. Unless you know differently?<<
"Only two things are infinite. The Universe and human stupidity; and I'm not too sure about the first one"
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