back to article Stop sexing up IT and give Civil Servants Macs, says gov tech boss

The man in charge of the government's IT efficiency drive has told MPs that Whitehall should use more Apple Macs while castigating the previous government for trying to sex-up IT projects. Ian Watmore, COO of the Efficiency and Reform Group, told the public administration committee that Labour had poured cash into computer …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    You can't buy this sort of marketing.

    What next? Calls for Coca-cola to be the official government soft drink?

  2. Andrew Martin 1
    Thumb Down

    oh dear

    Government has clearly wasted huge amounts on prooly-specified, poorly-delivered IT projects. No argument there.

    But there aren't many hard-nosed businesses that have adopted Apple products for their corporate IT. There are good reasons for this, and they amount to more than prejudice and inertia.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    And the guy wants to put in Mac's?

    He's obviously an idiot when it comes to IT.

    1. Dr Who

      Yes indeed

      It's all down to a lack of attention to detail, which leads to prooly spilled wurds and hyphens where-there shouldn't be any!

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Srsly?

        "It's all down to a lack of attention to detail, which leads to prooly spilled wurds and hyphens where-there shouldn't be any!"

        Seriously? You are going to criticize someone based on a typo ("prooly" is obviously a typo, not a genuine error) and not knowing that there is no hyphen in adverb-adjective combinations? I have seen very few people (and these include journalists, authors, etc.) who accurately hyphenate, and this excludes me.

        1. Andrew Martin 1

          poorly projects

          In my defence, poorly could be an adjective as well as an adverb, especially where Government projects are concerned. Making clear that it qualifies the following adjective doesn't seem so unreasonable to me. So 'tis a grammatical slip to be sure, but from the best of motives, and without introducing additional ambiguity (which is, surely, the point of grammar).

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. GeorgeTuk
      WTF?

      Title....was dat?

      And what about sense, not many business applications run natively in OSX.

      Not talking Word, Excel thats easy, I'm talking SAP, Dynamics and any other BI or ERP.

      And tried a few Macs (for display) to test for Terminal Services too, way too much hassle and whats the point after connecting to a server you have lost the point.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        @GeorgeTuk

        Then perhaps the answer is to run cheap little low powered end-points (Linux?) with centrally served apps for the majority and VMs for those that are outside of the norm. Government is one area where I'd imagine a standardised centrally administered and secured desktop would be a bonus given their propensity to lose data.

        1. GeorgeTuk
          Thumb Up

          @ Mark65 and others

          Sorry was meant to say it was not my choice to try Macs, I am testing your theory at the moment and have been with some users for a few months.

    3. Ammaross Danan
      Linux

      Idiot

      "Watmore told the committee that in his personal view, the government should use more Apple products, just like the ones he uses at home."

      Could have guessed the "because it works at home" angle. Last I checked, a Windows Domain was a lot easier to manage and lock down. Of course, the this says just how much he knows about Apple or IT:

      "which is all about smaller, more agile, more efficient projects with a bigger emphasis on open source."

      While Open Source does make projects perhaps more agile, it definitely doesn't always lead to "more efficient" nor "smaller." Likely can save some money if a current staffer is already familiar with the FOSS in question....And no, Apple is not "Open Source," they just built a GUI on BSD.

      1. InITForTheMoney
        Megaphone

        It's not just about lock down...

        One of the key issues with mobile government data assets is that they have to be encrypted with a Government Encryption algorithm while data is at rest, this means that you need a full disk encryption product installed within all laptops and any desktops that might be kept or transported through locations of low physical security.

        At the present time, there is no software based full disk encryption solution (supporting these algorithms) that works with Mac's and there is no Hardware based encrypted disk that supports the EFI bootstrap process that Mac's use to launch OSX.

        This is the first hurdle that needs to be cleared, without it, if you put protectively marked data obove a certain confidentiality level on to a Mac, then that machine has to be kept in a physically secure location, or shipped around with an armed guard! Even with data at the lowest level it would need to be stored in a locked box that was bolted in to a vehicle if you shipped it around anywhere.

        The reason that Mac's aren't used much in government is because there is no way to get around this one simple fact and until there is a company that can put a government algorithm in to an encryption product that supports Mac's, this isn't going to change.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Wrong, wrong, wrong.

          Firstly, PGP Full Disk Encryption fully complies with Home Office requirement.s I should know, we use it on all our computers, to comply with such requirements!

          Secondly, said software is fully Mac compatible. Again, I should know, we've been installing it on MacBook Pro, MacBook Airs, and the like for the last year.

          As for AD integration with Macs, with all appropriate access control, easy - we've got our Macs bound into AD right now. Failing that, there's OD - which manages Macs natively.

          We have around 4:6 in favour of Mac in our estate, and while we do get plenty of calls from mac users, they tend to be either that the hardware has failed, or a windows based service isnt working properly. Most of the real head scratchers are Windows machines that aren't doing what they should do properly.

          Oh, and we manage our Macs very well with jamf Casper suite - which is superior to many PC based solutions like Landesk for auditing, policy control and deployment.

          The real problem is that most IT systems managers havent got the first idea what they are talking about when it comes to Mac, they just sniff and turn up their nose bcause they see them as expensive toys, and not for Real Men.

          This thread has demonstrated exactly that.

          That said, it doesn't help that Apple hasn't the slightest interest in Enterprise level software and hardware - they only want to sell laptops and desktops along with iPads and iPhones.

          That doesnt mean that integrating into enterprise is difficult or impossible!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            IT Angle

            FURTHER INFORMATION: PGP Whole Disk Encryption...

            http://www.pgp.com/caps/

            1. James 36
              FAIL

              PGP CAPS approval

              http://www.cesg.gov.uk/find_a/caps/index.cfm?menuSelected=11&displayPage=1111&id=139

              As clearly stated in the above link the only OS's that have CAPS approval for baseline are Windows OS variants . Mac is not mentioned on the CESG website which supercedes any BS you have been spun by the manufacturer. As long as your accreditor is aware it will be fine though as he/she may have accepted the risk based on its approval for Windows.

          2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Stop

              @AC 13:24

              All you've done is prove my point: Windows system managers really havent a clue how to manage Macs and thus turn their noses up.

              " Right, so when you want to set your Mac's browser home page remotely rather than go round every machine you do that via AD do you?

              No you don't. Getting Macs to authenticate with AD is far from integrating with AD, and AD provides far more than authentication. It does everything from remote configuration to application deployment."

              "Yes, I know you mentioned JAMF Casper Suite, and this really proves my point (for anyone interested, just Google it), it has about 1% of the features that AD provides natively and is an extra expense."

              1., Get out of your MS Mindset. AD is not required t manage computers, and its not a freebie. (windows server CALs aren't free).

              There's any number of LDAP systems, there's apple's own OD, for a start. One can also run a domain from UNIX if they so wish,. We do, as a parallel to our Windows domain. So even if you are a mixed environment, you dont need Windows servers.

              2. Casper Suite. At around £8 per client, with free ongoing support (including server upgrades), it does offer more than the '1% of ADs features' - in fact, to offer what Casper offers, you need to look beyond MS products and buy Landesk - which costs considerably more than Casper!

              3. If you absolutely must have AD, and dont want Casper, there are other options, such as Centrify - http://www.centrify.com/directcontrol/mac_os_x.asp. Full AD group and workgroup policy control with full desktop lockdown.

              "No but it does mean it's a complete waste of time, effort, and money because you can just do it easier and more cheaply with Windows/Linux."

              Except that in practice, that is not true. Yes, Linux is free, but it only makes sense at a server level But it makes far less sense at a desktop level.

              Windows cheaper? Not according to so many TCO studies.

              But I very much doubt you'll change your mind....

              1. web_bod
                WTF?

                @AC?

                You're not a Creationist by any chance are you?

          3. InITForTheMoney

            @AC re: Wrong, wrong, wrong

            Actually, your wrong... and I can tell you this because I regularly ask within Industry for solutions that support Macs and when they will be available, believe it or not, I am not a Windows zealot and I am a Mac user (I'm writing this on my own MBP in fact), I've been using and supporting Mac's since 93 and I think I have a pretty good grasp of their capabilities by now, having also worked in Government for the last 7 years I think I also know in which environments I can use them and which I cant. However, unlike some I am more concerned with selecting an appropriate tool to meet requirements, rather than trying to shoehorn something I like in to a function it's not suitable for.

            As has been pointed out by another poster, the target of evaluation for PGP full disk encryption does not cover the Mac version, if your accreditor is allowing you to use it, thats up to him if he wants to accept that risk, it probably means that your system has a pretty low risk profile attached and your data is probably mostly ILO-IL2 with only small amounts of IL3 data (if any). Either that, or the accreditor simply doesn't know the TOE for the product and he's mistaken in thinking that it's approved... it wouldn't surprise me.

            A good architect will read the TOE for any security enforcing products he or she selects and will document how that product's configuration meets or contravenes the TOE so that the accreditor is informed. If you haven't read the TOE for products you utilise and your an architect in government, then you haven't done your job properly.

            Even when used in an evaluated configuration, PGP Full disk encryption is only good enough for _Baseline_ level encryption, not Enhanced Grade or High Grade, which means you can only use it on RESTRICTED (IL3) systems... you don't even need a government disk encryption product for a RESTRICTED system, you can use Vista or Windows 7's Bitlocker feature and be compliant with a tiny piece of configuration... it's hardly much of a bar to reach these days, yet the Mac has nothing that fits the bill and Apple are not concerned about addressing that issue, why should they be? It's not a core market for them.

        2. Francis Fish
          Troll

          I've had an encrypted home directory on my Mac for years

          Seriously, it's two mouse clicks.

          I would also lay money that most of the govt pc's have no encryption at all. Straw man time.

      2. Michael C

        AD easier to secure?

        Well, no actually. LDAPS is easier to secure, and especialyl in government where there are both legacy novel systems, RACF on mainframes, and a littany of Linux and UNIX servers, AD is rarely the top level authentication system.

        All you Windows trolls always assume that just because the PCs use AD that means everything else does too.

        macs are in fact AD native. they have few OU and GPO settings, but that's because they don;t need many. They natively talk to Exchange 2007/2010, connect to SMB shares, use MS Office, and are very easy to centrally manage and secure through Apple's enterprise tools and super cheap server OS.

        The TCO of individual workstations is also less for Mac than Windows, even counting as much as a $400 premium for the hardware (which is much less in corporate circles since companies don;t buy $400 laptops and desktops, macs are typically within $100 of business system cost for the same performance and size class, and in some cases are cheaper). Winn Schwartzau (probably spelled that wrong) did a great TCO analysis a few years ago for a large firm, and Macs were clear across the board cheaper, mostly because of greatly reduced IT and helpdeks hands-on support time with each machine. They also resell well vs the $50 you can sometimes get for a 4 year old Dell ,and that factors into IT finance too.

    4. Giles Jones Gold badge

      An idiot goes with the flow

      Why?

      Is it better that they go with cash in hand straight to Microsoft without evaluating the competition?

      Anyone doing a deal should always have a plan B to use as a bargaining chip. Microsoft office for instance is vastly overpriced for what it actually provides. It may have been an essential tool back when documents were laid out, printed and read. But these days you're more likely to read a website.

      1. Matthew 4
        Coat

        no..

        If you have ever worked in a Govt department you would know things are printed (in triplicate) and sent, even if never actually read.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      their idrink

      Or kool aid :D

    6. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
      FAIL

      well

      he probably wants to put in macs - and can punctuate :-)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And the justification is...?

      @AC: "And the guy wants to put in Mac's? He's obviously an idiot when it comes to IT"

      I've seen reports on ROI and support costs that rated Apple gear pretty highly. Perhaps thats no longer true, but I'd be reluctant to call someone "an idiot" for exploring that option. I don't need external data to know that Apple equipment is typically very long-lived. As with most things, you get what you pay for.

      Otherwise, it's entirely possible the suggestion stacks up. There's a good case to be made for buying quality equipment, even (or particularly) in times of austerity, bearing in mind that the initial capital cost of equipment is a small fraction of overall IT costs. I've never seen a study that showed Apple equipment to significantly raise IT costs, but please link to such a report if you've seen one.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Geoff Campbell
        FAIL

        @Ralph

        He didn't call for the option to be explored. He called for Macs to be issued, because they work for him at home. That is an idiotic thing to say.

        Moreover, I'm glad you don't need external data to know all about Apple reliability. Shame you're wrong, really:

        http://www.engadget.com/2009/11/17/laptop-reliability-survey-asus-and-toshiba-win-hp-fails/

        GJC

    8. Chris 3

      Mac's what?

      hmmm?

    9. rotting apple Silver badge
      Coat

      He wants Macs from Apple?

      After a performance like that, I hope serving Big MACS and APPLE Apple pies is his next JOB. However, McDonalds may have a high enough bar for him to fail at the first hurdle.

      Too much wishful thinking on my part. Must remember to keep taking the tablets.

    10. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Francis Fish

        Everyone knows

        "Everyone knows Macs are a fucking joke in the enterprise due to Apple's inability to provide decent server and general centralised management software coupled with the fact the enterprise needs to control it's systems, not Apple, which goes against Apple's mindset where Apple controls everything."

        We run Linux for servers, Apples for devs. Works absolutely fine and costs tons less and is far more reliable than the equivalent MS stuff. Macs talk fine to other brands of *nix. MS talks fine to ... MS.

        There is at least one govt research dept that uses Macs for the scientists (because they're generally talking to the unix-based back end systems). There are 2x more macs than PC's and 2x more MS support staff than Mac. Work it out. It's people that cost the money, the higher price for a well built machine that doesn't crash constantly and will last for 5+ years more than compensates.

        I do think they need to sort out their email and calendar clients though. The contention that they are really good at design and usability is very funny when you have to work with their awful offerings.

  4. Juillen 1
    Headmaster

    Read from a certain angle..

    There may be truth in what the guy recommends. However, there's very little detail as to why he considers this.

    Without seeing the real plans.. Think we're all in the dark as to the intent behind the phrasing..

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    A Noms project?

    Are they mad? Do they really want be be lolcatted to death?

    Anyway, come to the Mac Side. We can haz toys.

  6. Alex Brett

    Open source

    The beeb article also has some mentions around open source:

    He insisted the government was committed to using more "open source" software to save cash - but had to balance this with concerns about how easily it could be "hacked".

    I'm confused as to the logic of that statement - if they'd said something about useability concerns sure, there's an argument to be made there (not saying I necessarily agree with it, but there is contention), however to say that we can't use open source because it's easily hacked is ridiculous...

    1. Naughtyhorse
      Thumb Up

      you mean...

      you got that far before deciding this bloke is a complete ARSE!

      well done you!

      1 bit of good news for the economy, the IT gravy train will resume normal service shortly.

      1. Alan 6

        Economy

        "1 bit of good news for the economy, the IT gravy train will resume normal service shortly."

        Yes, but if he has his way it won't be the UK economy that improves, the sales will go to Cupertino...

        1. Naughtyhorse
          Happy

          ah i didn thtink that far ahead

          oh noes!!!

    2. Bill 11
      Jobs Horns

      Hacking Open Source

      So you would think but more Linux boxes are hacked than Windows boxes. This is often because the sys-admins do not know what they are doing with Linux / Unix but it is way cooler saying you are a Linux guru compared to, say, a Windows Nerd even when you're not

      Stats (zone-h 2008- 2010)

      Linux 352.468 378.744 256.648

      W2003 117.978 127.128 81.785

      W2000 21.929 12.529 2.805

      1. lurker
        Linux

        @Bill 11

        What you're completely failing to take into account there is that those are Defacement statistics for websites. Since Apache on Linux is massively more widely used than IIS on Windows, those stats are hardly surprising. But if you look at computers being subverted and becoming part of a botnet, that's almost exclusively a windows problem. Using those figures to say that 'more linux boxes are hacked than windows boxes' is misleading, to say the least.

      2. Steven Knox Silver badge
        FAIL

        @Bill 11

        Where are the Windows XP, Vista, 7, and Server 2008 boxes on this list of yours? Oh, nowhere, because your list only counts defaced websites, not hacked systems. The government doesn't store all (or even a significant* portion) of its data on web servers, and the potential for open source doesn't begin or end at web servers.

        So you've picked the one major market where Linux is much more prevalent than Windows to begin with (thus increasing the odds that a hack will hit a Linux box. Indeed if you normalized those numbers as a percentage of systems out there [i.e, the at least slightly relevant statistic in a decision of this type], I bet you'd find that the percentage of Linux-based boxes hacked would come out looking pretty good), and you're using that to justify your FUD about hackability of open source software? That's like saying that women are better drivers than men because more men crash in NASCAR races than do women (i.e, it's based on non-normalized data from a non-representative sample set -- and the data doesn't even relate directly to the question being asked anyway.)

        *Significant as in volume, not as in impact. A single piece of data stored on a public server may have a significant impact.

        1. The BigYin

          @Steven

          Also, it is rarely (if ever) Linux that gets hacked. It's usually some poorly configured web application that has had the security set to "Ass out window, underpants optional".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Yes but

      the mistake you are making in seeking logic here is to assume the man who was put in charge of huge white elephants in early 2000's, then leaves to run some football organisation, and then comes back to clean up the I.T. mess actually knows what he is talking about when it comes to I.T.

      Previously he worked for one of the big 5 firms and has adopted a classic consultancy ethos.

      Come in on the premise you are fixing something, break it, get out before the blame lands, come back and fix it again at a higher day rate...

      that is all!

    4. mfraz

      Hackers?

      Open source software is created by hackers, I think he meant to say crackers.

  7. Kerry Hoskin
    FAIL

    Is Wantmore for real?!

    Is this clown for real? Now I don’t doubt that new Labour tried to Billy bullshit IT projects, as they did with everything else, but what is he going on about!? On one hand wanting more open source and a move from MS products and on the other wanting more Apple toys to be used, Apple being the most insular and proprietary IT (gadget) company going.

    Our CEO is a bit of a MAC fanboi so we recently priced up a lease agreement for some MAC’s it worked out at £300 PER UNIT more expensive than the DELL Optiplex’s we normally lease and still £180 per unit more expensive than an equivalent spec DELL, as the lowest spec MAC’s were over spec for our normal requirements. And this doesn’t take in to account duplicating our software estate, extra staff training, support costs, loads more extra work integrating the bleedy things and the fact that the support is shite, back to base rather than one site and only 1yr access to their support services.

    I think Mr Wantmore YOU were part of the problem and STILL are!

  8. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Apple...

    They should "use more Apple products" during an "efficiency drive"?!

    We recently had a similar experience. One of our higher-ups decided that, for the upgraded systems we were putting in place, he wanted Macs.

    Not only did they cost more than twice the price of the faster hardware we specced for him, the software *wouldn't even run natively* on Mac OSX. We would have had to either boot them into RHEL or run RHEL in a VM to make it work.

    He just wanted Macs.

    In the end we managed to slap him with a wet kipper (well, go over his head explaining the massive waste of resources he wanted to engage in) and he got a bunch of generic very fast workstations (the sort that starts tingly feelings in unmentionable areas) for half the cost, but he wasn't happy (I WANT A MAC WAH WAH WAH!!)

    1. Thomas 4

      You are very cruel to deny him a Mac

      I'm sure you can still find a first generation iMac (the huge heavy multicoloured ones) floating around somewhere and then downgrade it to OS 9.

      1. vulcan
        Thumb Up

        Snap

        Ooo, that sounds just like the place I used to work for!

      2. Wibble
        Happy

        Or an etch-a-sketch

        http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/1995-04-03/

    2. jcipale
      Black Helicopters

      My experience with macs

      Has been that you couldnt pay me money to own one. (Hand-)Jobs has down a marvelous job of not only dumbing down the hardware/OS, but making it difficult at best for people who need to do real work on their device.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      Ahh good old Mac users...

      ...we have a user at work who has a laptop, when he had some issues with it he said "we should use Macs, they never go wrong". Sure we COULD use Macs, but then we'd never get the software to run natively on OSX, so we'd still have to bung Windows on them and have the same issues.

      Luckily this guy doesn't have any say in what hardware is purchased.

      (As it happens, I have a Mac at home, an old iMac G3, makes a great door stop, maybe one day I'll turn it into a fish tank).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Efficiency?

      My other half works in one of the new-fangled (or are they just fangled) academies. As I've been working nearby recently I often go in with her and kill time there before going to my job. Over the days I've managed to have a look at almost evey room. I noticed that there were more than the average number of imacs in the place - particularly in the offices and admin places. Most of the classroom have 25 or so HP CPUs with CTX screens. I also noticed that with the exception of the imacs in the music room, most ofd the iMacs were running Windows 7. The staff are provided with Laptops - mostly Toshibas, but a fair number of teachers appear to have provided their own and they are using Macbooks.

      This Monday morning I met one of the IT techs in the academy coffee shop (yes - and it's good coffee too!) and asked him why they had the imacs in the admin and HR departments when they appeared to be booted into Windows. He said that it was a suprise to him when he arrived and they even had them in the IT support unit. But, he said, in all honesty, Windows 7 and all our windows apps run much better and more reliably on the Macs than they do on the HPs.

      Perhaps that's the efficiency he's talking about.

  9. Elmer Phud Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Macs are cheaper?

    Blimey, can he get me one, too.

    And do they really need Macs to do thier work? Which would you prefer to steal on a train?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    An insidious smell

    How to spot an idiotic politician:

    1) Blaming previous people in power - check

    2) Not actually a trained professional in the field - check (An accountant by trade)

    3) Blaming corporate entities, when he was the managing director of a corporate entity in the field - check

    4) Despite what little understand they could glean from their background, in the end fall back on an idiotic conclusion which is quite frankly akin to what a child could infer - "Use what I use at home." - check

    I say get rid of the number cruncher and appoint someone that can form a coherent argument based on valid information.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Spot-on analysis

    And I've worked on nothing but government IT for 8 years. IT Companies knew how bad project management was, and took advantage. Even the systems that worked cost much more than they should have done.

    All we need now is for Whitehall to set up a central development organisation, pay industry rates, and give good training. They'll save a packet. An absolute packet.

  12. Newt_Othis

    Jim Henson just rang...

    ...he's missing a Muppet.

    1. david 63

      I refer the honorable gentleman...

      ...to my earlier post.

      Over here http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2011/03/30/cabinet_office_ict_strategy/

    2. whats the point of kenny lynch?
      FAIL

      jim henson rang?

      surely he's missing a psychic since he died in 1990....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Macs

    Right, so not only will the hardware be more expensive than it currently is, the licensing more than likely more expensive than it currently is, the support costs will go through the roof because most of the users are used to windows (I don't care how intuitive osx is supposed to be, some users are only capable of following procedures by rote) and in addition to this there will be loads of enterprise apps that won't work, or will need to be run in a vm / through parallels and at best requiring hours of expensive fiddling to get them to play.

    Then we have other bollocks, like the cost of getting security consultants in to re-write the secure handling of data procedures that we already know aren't adhered to in the first place.

    At least with open source the idea is that the licensing costs are non-existent.

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      OSX?

      No worries, they'll run WindowsME

  14. morphoyle

    lol

    Well, replacing everything with Apple stuff would keep things secure for about 3 months. After that, an enterprising hacker would realize that he can write trojans using 6 month old security flaws that Apple hasn't patched yet and steal loads of juicy government data.

  15. HP Cynic

    Mac Off

    He's either clueless or received a substantial incentive to recommend Macs.

    1. Nexox Enigma

      One other possibility

      I'd go with 'both.'

    2. JohnG Silver badge

      Incentive

      When Big Ben strikes "Bung!"

  16. Alan Denman

    Hitting the nail on the head.

    It really just shows where the problem lies.

    What hope does government IT have with dickheads like this in charge?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Because Mac are well know for that VALUE.

    If dont belive me then

    http://acidcow.com/pics/13085-why-you-shouldnt-buy-a-mac-1-pics.html

  18. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Troll

    letters and/or digits

    a USB key of course, much easier to pocket and harder to prove it's not mine

  19. Richard 51

    Whichever Government

    I don't know about others on this site. But I have worked with both Central and Local Government on consulting and IT projects and I doubt whether the majority of the problems can be placed at the door of some figurehead MP. The Senior Civil Servants and their project managers are generally to blame for poor project management, poor specification, constant changes and general inertia.

    So whichever government is in power the same old crap occurs.

    But its always easy to blame the last lot.

  20. Peter 39
    FAIL

    posts

    posts like these make clear the cause of UK IT generally being such a disaster

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    See the problem?

    Most of you want to stay with the same old failed systems: Windows! Look at what a success that has been. Cheap? Have you ever worked in a shop that uses mainly Dell? I have, several times. The cost of the native hardware, with Windows or Suse or Redhat (or self installed Slackware or Suse) was not much lower, especially with the Gold support needed. Then, the failure rate was "awesome". I recall getting a batch of six higher spec. laptops. All were under repair within six months, two of them twice and not for user damage, just straight, hardware failure. The desk tops were scarcely better, though the servers, once one called in the engineer to fit the ordered parts rather than what arrived, were not so bad.

    Do n't give me Linux: all the Linux sites kept Windows for the office work and engineers tended to switch to Windows straight or via virtual machine to do documents or read email, run calendars .... Plus, the maintenance was no joke (one of the firms had a very well developed means of distributing and maintaining Redhat, even so it was not wonderful to administer).

    Actually, OS X is not bad, based as it is on BSD and with full LDAP as standard. You can even buy the full MS Office suite for it (and it works). It just depends upon what software you need to run for the majority of your users. The hardware tends to be rather good in comparison with the opposition (though my old Thinkpad is nearly 11 years old and still going). Unlike you, I have come across a few OS X users of the senior sort who use them for work, in a work network. They seem to cause less trouble than most and manage more than adequately without costing a fortune.

    So, throw off your prejudices and lack of experience and listen to the man. Just because yo do not like what he says does not make him completely wrong. We can hardly claim that "professional" IT types have done a wonderful job of cost control, engineering, design or implementation. If we are all so wonderful, how is it that we could not make good, solid cases to our paymasters for our perfect plans. Just look at the rubbish interfaces most of our users have to suffer and the arrogant attitude to those not sharing our prejudices and having other priorities, like their business or entertainment.

    Or do you believe that everyone who owns a domestic appliance or a car should understand how it works and how to service it, for example? Work or play, for the vast majority, computers are just a means of getting things done, not an end in themselves.

    And for those sniffy about style: most of us appreciate good design and attractive objects at home or work and expect to pay more for them. Otherwise we should all sit on packing cases at work and use planks on trestles for desks, in rooms consisting of bare concrete floors and walls etc...

  22. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    WTF?

    FFS!

    I am a committed Mac user, love 'em to bits but flipping heck, what a complete fecking plank!

    Has this nob ever heard the phrase, "Horses for courses."? Just 'cos he, like me, enjoys using one at home or for a bit or work doesn't mean they will be perfect for the bog standard admin graft of the Gov offices!

    Let's not even start on the fact that my taxes would be wasted on this cack idea! Get a bloody huge order of Dells, stuff Windows on 'em and be done. Sorted! Everyone happy, MS will cut you a bloody good deal on several thousand licenses for Windows and Office, unlike Jobs, and the users will not keep bugging the poor IT support crews with questions about an O/S most of them will most likely never have used!

  23. Blofeld's Cat
    FAIL

    Ah, yes, but.

    "I am certainly not part of the problem and I would contest that the corporate industry of this country has caused the problems."

    Unfortunately most government IT is not done by "the corporate industry of this country", but by the corporate industry of other countries.

    Perhaps that's the problem then.

  24. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Didn't Apple say something about OSX servers recently....

    Oh yes. They're stopping making them.

    So we'll have racks full of Mac Minis then.

  25. Dan 55 Silver badge
    FAIL

    A1

    Will they be using Mac Minis for servers?

    And he'd better buy them before Lion comes out because it's rumoured that Lion won't have Samba.

  26. GeorgeTuk
    Stop

    All previous businesses I have worked for...

    ...have said the same.

    Its a buzz word because everyone wants every to know they know about IT.

    Most popular buzzwords/phrases top 5:

    1. Can we not replace with Macs they are better than PCs

    2. I work on spreadsheets so I need a bigger screen so they fit on the page

    3. My machine is very old now, can I have a new one as it will save so much time and money

    4. (To IT team) Bet you guys are always on Facebook and Twitter and never do anything.

    5. (To IT Team) You don't look very busy just sitting around talking (so not discussing work then obv)

    .

  27. Kevin 43
    Grenade

    But...

    Does IE6 run on a Mac?

    If not, theres not going to be many Gov systems accessible on this new hardware...

  28. JLH

    Open source "more easily hacked"

    Mr Watmore is a senior civil servant. He has gone before a parliamentary select committe and stated that "He insisted the government was committed to using more "open source" software to save cash - but had to balance this with concerns about how easily it could be "hacked". "

    This is purely and simply FUD.

    Mr Watmore, if you read this please present the eveidence for your assertion that open source software is more easily hacked.

    Please stand up and speak at any one of the IT user groups which meet in London and give a presentation to back up the statement you make.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a committed Mac head, I'd just like to say

    This man is off his rocker. As good as Macs are (IMMHO), I suspect hiring the support expertise would be an absolute nightmare whereas support engineers for Windows and networks of Windows systems are a dime a dozen. Windows is the standard in the corporate (and government) environment and I don't see wishful thinking changing this.

    1. JLH

      OSX based on BSD

      Actually, OS X is not bad, based as it is on BSD

      Indeed. Someone please remind Mr Watmore that OSX is based on BSD - which is - errrrr..... open source, no? And therefore easily hacked. Ah well.

    2. Thomas 4
      WTF?

      Huh?

      I thought Samba was a lion. He almost got flattened by a heard of wildebeast and had to into exile or something.

      All this newfangled technology confuses me sometimes.

      1. Mr Grumblefish

        Not Samba

        It's Kamba the White Lion you're thinking off.

    3. EyeCU
      Jobs Horns

      You are a pillock, a troll or both

      Corporate bodies either public or private need things to be cost-effective

      They need to be able to scale up

      They need to have lots of redundancy

      They need the supplier to have a well defined roadmap that isn't shrouded in secrecy

      They need to be able to use their legacy apps

      They need to integrate with existing systems

      They need suppliers that don't suddenly change the rules based on the whims of the CEO

      The list goes on and on but needless to say, Apple fail on every single one which is why you don't see mega corps buying Macs except for maybe the design department cos as the marketing blurb tells us, having a Mac makes you so much more creative dontcha know

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Hammer/Nailhead

      Having spent most of the last 25 years, initially as a civil servant, latterly working for assorted companies doing the same work contracted to a Major Civil Service Department, I concur whole-heartedly with this evaluation.

    5. Eradicate all BB entrants

      Ooooh if I could just make your head explode with the power of thought...

      ..... I would in a second. We "professional" IT types do perform a wonderful job in regards to cost control, design and engineering. It's the higher up morons (those with iPhones and macs) who ruin it with stupid requests and restrictions because they like shiny. We "professional" IT types realise that the systems that actually do work are ugly and need time and attention and have no glamour associated with them at all.

      I'm sure the MET office would be happy to scrap their current system to replace it with half a million mac mini's, which won't run their DB's ...... or backups....or control software, but my.......they will look pretty won't they.

      P.S. Can we have a Michael Ironside Scanners icon?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: See the problem...

      Well said that man. May not be feasible to change Government IT over in practice but the more reliable hardware and OS and better support than you get with your average Dell type box gave us big savings (in an admittedly small business) overall. Unfortunately as one of my colleagues laments when he sees a business dogedly sticking with windows... They died and went to Dell <g>

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        eh?

        Right we have around 300 Windows Dell desktops, mainly Optiplex's plus a further 50+ precision workstations running Redhat, 50 or so various models of Latitude laptops and around 60 Poweredge servers. We don't get many problems at all, maybe 2 or 3 laptops fail in a year, the desktops are soild as a rock, I can't remember the last time we had an issue with a desktop, as are the servers. Support, nextday onsite and 4h response for the servers. Anything goes wrong either a part is shipped or a little man appears next day to fix things.

        Apple on the other hand, depending where you are, you won't even get onsite support. And under all that shiney plastic it uses the same bits as a windows box. Albeit with about a 50-100% markup (not as bad as Sun but not far off) and a slightly differant name!

    7. Daniel B.
      Thumb Down

      @AC

      "And for those sniffy about style: most of us appreciate good design and attractive objects at home or work and expect to pay more for them."

      At the expense of taxpayers, as well?

      The irony is that this bloke is saying "stop sexing up IT" and then proceeds to sex up IT by telling 'em to buy Macs! Our own Mexican Congress decided to give iPads to our representatives ... it didn't go quite well among the people. You've got people rioting over increasing college tuition, what would you think will happen if HM Government starts doling out über-expensive Macs to Civil Servants?!?!

      1. Rattus Rattus

        o.o

        "And for those sniffy about style: most of us appreciate good design and attractive objects at home or work and expect to pay more for them."

        I really don't why people think Macs have such good design. Every Apple device I've ever seen has been shiny, plasticky and damn ugly. I have seen an awful lot of PC cases that look far better than any Mac, largely because they're not all aluminium and white plastic.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All previous IT requests that I've made...

      Maybe it's cause I don't work in IT, but other than point 1 (and maybe 4 and 5 if I'm in a good mood) seem to be genuine. I've often been given some crappy 15" screen with 512MB of memory trying to run database queries, extract shed loads of data to massive spreadsheets, etc.

      Point 3 is the biggest one that never seems to be understood. If I'm waiting 5 minutes for a database query to run (or a program to load, or a calculation to run) because of a slow computer, maybe I run it 6 times a day. That's 120 hours a year. Even on minimum wage that's £700, enough for a bigger monitor and a memory boost at least.

      Often this is misunderstood by IT folk - maybe because they all conveniently have twin 20" screens, 4 gig memory, latest processor machines - and all they do is browse Facebook and Twitter all day =p

      1. Rattus Rattus

        On the other hand

        Where I work we have a policy of replacing PCs with new ones every three years (which is when the warranty expires anyway). I still get a lot of requests for new computers "because mine's so old, I've had it for at least five years now." So I check the installed date we always record and it shows the PC is a year and a half old.

        Then I get "Your records must be wrong, I'm sure I've had it for more than three years." So I go to the PC in question and look at the serial number (which for these models conveniently contains the manufacture date) and point out that it was only manufactured two years ago, and they still insist they've had it too long and want a new one. To my great satisfaction, I then get to reply "No." And walk away.

        It's taught me (well, reinforced really) that users lie, except in cases where they don't and then they're just clueless.

        1. Boring Bob

          Keyboard broke

          I work in sales and I had a colleague who used to have to visit customers with a laptop with keys missing from the keyboard. IT had got fed-up replacing his laptop every time it got a little old and his keyboard "broke".

      2. GeorgeTuk

        Yours is a common situation...

        ...misunderstood requirements by IT department who think a one size fits all works 100%. Which it doesn't.

        Don't worry bit more flexible over here!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        time to run?

        In my experience the users computer speed is not the issue in the speed of work, it can usually be pointed to either a network connectivity speed, the user installing lots of nonsense on 'their' computer, having no training in Excel or a VBA programmer.

        I would suggest that exporting large amounts of data from a powerful database to a local spreadsheet is not the best way to work and better to spend that £700 per person on changing your process. Although £700 a year doesn't sound too much, how much time do you spend getting coffee?

        Most people who ask for a new computer ask because they want to appear important, "look at me I've got more RAM then anyone else"and so they can run the latest version of what ever random software they think is great.

        1. steogede

          Re: time to run?

          Indeed, the worst thing about spreadsheets is that people use them for functions much better served by databases - i.e. "handling shed loads of data". Copying the data to a spreadsheet and then processing there is the equivalent of printing a 'table' of data from a spreadsheet, cutting and pasting it (with glue and scissors) to sort it, then getting a calculator out to do the sums.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Big screens and powerful PCs are for managers

        "...I've often been given some crappy 15" screen with 512MB of memory...."

        That is never decided by the IT department but by senior management who believe that having a big screen and a PC powerful enough to do your job are actually status symbols to be reserved for management, much like having a big office with a big desk and a nice view. The same is true for notebooks that would allow out of hours remote support - these are really status symbols to be handed off to directors' children on which to play illegally downloaded games. (Directors obviously need local admin privileges to install such nonsense because they are important)

        1. Rattus Rattus

          Laptops for management - AC11:12GMT

          That is all far too true. None of the IT staff here have a laptop, although we do some after-hours support. This usually ends up being done from our home PCs over Citrix. All of management have laptops of course, even the ones who never take theirs out of the docking station and just leave it there in the evenings. Some of these are even ultraportables, because they're more expensive and therefore higher-status.

      5. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Be careful where you point fingers

        > Point 3 is the biggest one that never seems

        > to be understood. If I'm waiting 5 minutes for

        > a database query to run (or a program to load,

        > or a calculation to run) because of a slow

        > computer, maybe I run it 6 times a

        ...except the IT department fully realizes that if you are "waiting on a database query", then there is squat you can do about it by playing around with what's sitting on your desktop.

    9. Jon Wilson
      Thumb Up

      Don't knock it

      @Peter Gathercole

      Don't knock it - Mac Minis make decent low-cost, low-power servers for light loads (with Debian installed). Mythic Beasts have been doing it for ages:

      http://www.mythic-beasts.com/macmini.html

      (full disclosure: I've been a customer of theirs)

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, we just pay him

      Watmore does not have a Civil Service background; he is actually a New Labour political appointee from the private sector with no relevant experience. Here is a quote from this 'genius': "I don't recognise 'IT projects' - they are business projects." No doubt building a ship is also a 'business project' but it is still helpful if the f*cker actually floats.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...but same old Civil Service

      So nothing's changed in the last 20 years.

      Back then the EO and HEOs were OK and generally tried to do a good job. Management from there on up were worse than useless, only interested in feathering their retirement nest and scoring points against their peers.

      Disclaimer: I was a system designer brought in to work at HEO level for 18 months, so not a civil servant myself. We achieved nothing: the project was sabotaged by departmental in-fighting and canned just like the previous two attempts at the same project had been - and by the same squabbling managers.

    12. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Tut, tut, Mr Watmore

      Anonymous posting in your own defence? Well, it couldn't really be anybody else, could it?

      Beer because you might as well be pissed for all the difference it would make.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So does a guruplug with a eSATA hdd on it.

        Although neither scale well.

        There are much less thirsty pc's kicking about than the mac mini and if you're whacking debian on them anyway, why would you pay the apple tax?

    13. two00lbwaster
      FAIL

      You don't seem to see, or understand, the problems

      "Most of you want to stay with the same old failed systems: Windows! Look at what a success that has been. Cheap? Have you ever worked in a shop that uses mainly Dell? I have, several times. The cost of the native hardware, with Windows or Suse or Redhat (or self installed Slackware or Suse) was not much lower, especially with the Gold support needed. Then, the failure rate was "awesome". I recall getting a batch of six higher spec. laptops. All were under repair within six months, two of them twice and not for user damage, just straight, hardware failure. The desk tops were scarcely better, though the servers, once one called in the engineer to fit the ordered parts rather than what arrived, were not so bad."

      Just because you have had a piss poor experience with PC hardware and open source don't tar the rest of the industry with the same brush. The problem is with the planning and execution.

    14. Kevin 6

      wow bad luck

      Last place I worked we ordered 300 dell laptops, 100 desktops, and 4 rack mount servers in one order. One desktop was DOA, but I suspect that had to do more with the delivery, seeing the box was all beat up. Which they replaced with no issues right away.

      And we bought the cheapest dells they made at the time. To upgrade the 6-8 year old dells they had that were just starting to fail, and we couldn't find parts for anymore(also didn't help they never shut them down). If I remember right we paid $400 a desktop with monitor, keyboard,and mouse. Think we paid $450 a laptop. (lets see someone buy macs at those prices :D)

      Also owned a few dell laptops with no issues.

      1st place I worked had a horrible time with compaqs around 15 years ago. Out of 60 9 were DOA, and one monitor burst into flames, which required a fire extinguisher to put out.

    15. Ian North

      SMB on Macs

      Lion won't use Samba, it's being replaced with an SMB implementation rolled by Apple themselves. This is supposedly to get away from using GPL code.

    16. Charles Manning

      It's a common myth

      The logic: Anyone can get to and modify the source code - including malicious people. Therefore it is easy to inject back doors etc into open source code. Therefore open source cannot be trusted.

    17. sirhumph
      Linux

      There's more than one meaning of 'hacked'

      What Mr Watmore is referring to by observing that open source software is more easily 'hacked' is the ease with which civil servants will be able to 'fork' any open source application the government chooses to deploy. It is this loss of control and corresponding freedom for mandarins to hack away at the code that really scares Mt Watmore. (You may also recall that famous episode of Yes Minister involving a big IT project, and a lecture from Bernard to Jim Hacker on how to resist nominative determinism.) Hope that clears up the ambiguity.

    18. nichomach

      While I agree on quite a lot of this...

      ...I do tend to spec machines with higher resolution screens; working on large spreadsheets on poverty spec 1366x768 or 1280x800 screens is just appalling, so I usually get at least 1600x900, and the batch I have on order now are 1920x1080. Helps with architectural drawings too.

    19. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Apple silliness

      ....yes buy Macs so that you can run LDAP (a generic Unix technology) and use MS Office (a proprietary win32 application).

      Clearly you can't think of anything that Apple itself brings to the table here.

      ANY Unix can run LDAP and if you can't stop fixating on Windows-centric proprietary tools your Macs will ultimately never be anything but second class Windows boxes. Either you will be running a native version that's "behind" or using VMs to run the "real thing".

  30. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    You really don't get it, do you?

    Oh boy - have any of you ever been near government IT? I can tell you that Ian Watmore is NO dummy, so I have a different view on what is going on here.

    Since New Labour, the government has become infested with consultants. Allow me not to get into detail why, but your three main problems are accountability (lack thereof), profit and job assurance. Allowing a consultancy to make money somewhere means they take the accountability, and use the taxpayer's money to set up a nice cushy exit role for he/she who looketh the other way. This required rigging the system from end to end, so you have all these pork barrel artists looking at how they can please their new master so they can keep sucking tax money from the by now almost empty trough.

    In comes Ian Watmore, who has seen it all go to hell from his days in a Conservative Cabinet Office. His first act surely had to be warning those bloodsuckers that the game is up, and he has done so by not offering Powerpoint answers. He signals he's quite prepared to start again if need be. I would not read too much into details, he is busy warning the previous idiots that the game is finally up. This is not about technology, it's politics.

    Watmore is not an expert, but he knows at least how to identify one, and (most important) listen to them. I have more trust in him than in the seedy mass of consultants that is still washing around Whitehall. It got so bad they even had to rig the National Audit Office by installing one of their own (in my opinion it's the only reason the ID Card project actually passed audit)..

    Ian Watmore has my vote, and I know he has a hard job ahead. I suggest you give the man some time, I think he'll surprise you. Unless you're a consultant - I suggest you start fixing where you have been creative..

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @Fred Flintstone

      Intriguing PoV.

      If real this suggests interesting times ahead for govt IT.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Just wait til they get the bill for the integration, Mac's won't look so good then.

    What "Pointy Haired Bosses" worldwide seem to forget is that when it comes to operating and integrating hardware such as Video Surveilliance, Building Automation and the like, a Mac just will not do the job without a complete rewrite of all pertinent software. These equipment manufacturers hardly support Linux let alone anything other than Windows platforms. You are talking about hundreds of thousands on man hours that no manufacturer in their right mind will spend. Protocol translators and VM's just will not do the job.

    Enter the "Solutions Provider" otherwise know as a "Con Man" that will show the pointy haired boss something that they did for another client that does not even come close to representing the current clients software applications, but... wait for it... he demo's it on a Mac while providing an expensive lunch in a fancy restaraunt. (Con man did not tell the ignorant pointy haired boss that the software demo was running in a virtual machine) Pointy haired boss says "That's what we want!" gives Con Man millions to port the software over to Mac, fires half of the existing IT people, then the project goes into cost overruns and fails to complete, Con Man's contract terms are "Ironclad" (Unforseen circumstances blamed on the hardware provider) and the customer (and the taxpayer) is left with a steaming pile of shite while the Con Man vacations in Switzerland and the Grand Caymans where he launders his money and powders his nose.

    Now I'm no fan of Dell but when my bid documents spell out the manufacturer of the PC, I do what I'm told and we can buy extended (but mostly worthless) warranties that provide some small comfort. Windows support is relatively cheap as are non warranty replacement parts for Windows based PC's. We can support Windows in house and with the help of the competent manufacturers hardware support people (3rd tier only) we usually muddle through custom work successfully.

    Lets face it, Simon Travaglia (aka BOFH) knows that you have to kill your "pointy haired boss" when he gets ideas like this. After all, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually, that is exactly Watmore's point

      Watmore started in government IT around the time the time the Internet became important, and Open Standards were identified as the only way to do LARGE scale things (think about it, what makes the Internet actually work)? If you need a better indication of what time he got involved, think Netscape. He was also close to the eGIF team, so he knows fairly well that it starts with non-proprietary platforms.

      At that point it pretty much doesn't matter what you run on top. If politicians leaves him to do his job by giving them Macs, fine, so be it. An infrastructure that is based on open standards can handle that. Besides, Macs represent a MUCH lower workload in terms of security, patching and maintenance in general. As long as he puts in place password policies and mandates Filevault, a loss of a MacBook is at least not a security risk. It's one of the reasons a number of Swiss private banks are switching to Macs (but they use then to run Citrix)

      But I digress. Watmore knows whose opinion he can trust, and that doesn't include many consultants. He is in charge of driving down costs, but he's sensible. Most importantly, I think he will actually bring back vendor competition instead of creating cushy lock-ins. That's where the real money hides..

      1. Naughtyhorse
        FAIL

        Macs represent a MUCH lower workload in terms of security,

        the trouble with this is that is's a totally circular argument.

        macs currently have a lower security workload because the blackhats don't see them as a worthwhile target.

        Assuming HM Gov goes out and buys a squillion of the shiny shiny boxes, then that wont be quite the case, plus there is a possibility that maybe aforesaid gov may have the odd bit of data that might be of some interest to said blackhats.

        Then the woeful inadequacies of the jobsian approach to security bites us on the ass - with known vulnerabilities going un patched for months at a time. (hence the low security workload!) And that is not about to change because apples invulnerability to hacks/virii etc is due to their innate magicalness as any fule kno.

        couple that with apples iron box approach locking their lusers out of anything significant relating to the os - indeed they make a virtue of it (soz fanbois, but you are all muppets - it's a given). Add a pinch of apples 'you have a problem... but we allready have your cash, so go fuck yourself' support phillosophy.

        suddenly paying over the odds for shiny shiny dont look like such a good deal.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Stop

          Security

          How many Linux boxes are in circulation now?

          How many Linux only Viruses, trojans and the like are there?

          The argument that more macs = lower security is not one that holds water. Its based on a more secure foundation, unlike WIndows, and he almost anal control Jobs has over iOS is just to prevent this kind of infestation from appearing on the 100million + iOS devices, using the same OS core as Macs (Mac OSX).

          If anything, Macs will continue to get more secure, even as hackers turn their attention to it.

  32. deadlift

    A Mac in the Civil Service...?

    Given that I'm still waiting for a browser better than IE6, the day I get a Mac on my desk is the day I start listening to what the Cabinet Office tells us...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      When I worked in the COI (see my earlier post on that)

      Our department was all Macs. A man came in every Wednesday afterrnon (probably from Albion) to check that the server was OK. It always was.

      Then the consultants came, the Macs went and we got Elonex and Win something or other.

      Then we were shut down.

  33. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Etch-a-sketch

    Cheap, Colourfull, Low security risk, hard to hack, and no USB sockets to be left on a train

    And because it can't run Powerpoint or IE the effectiveness of any manager issued with one should increase hugely.

    There is also a reduced support overhead since it can be rebooted by simply shaking it (http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/1995-04-03/)

  34. Daniel B.
    FAIL

    Nice lock-in!

    Talking bad about "sexing up IT" and offering Macs sounds like a really bad contradiction right there. Selling Macs to any organization IS "sexing up IT" and jacking up IT purchasing expenses at the very least!

    I'd rather have them use Linux on standard PCs.

  35. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Thumb Up

    Dictionary: Add...

    ...shonky.

    Wonky's evil twin.

    Thanks for this addition to my lexographical arsenal.

  36. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Megaphone

    It was the strategy wot was wrong, wont it?

    Obviously the mandarins of Whitehall aren't to be blamed for the failure and while they might have been slightly more successful if they'd been issued stylish hardware the real problem was the development paradigm that was employed. Luckily, on my recent gravy plane flight home I read an interesting article about something called "agile" in Rich Fuckers Monthly. The article had a picture of some really rich who said going agile was a transformatory experience and has made everything so much better...

    So, now the massive fail whale projects are to be broken up, spliced and diced and distributed into myriad little barracuda projects under no overall control? That will make all the difference! Of course, we need to hire agile gurus from professional companies (they have blue logos as opposed to the last lot who had red) who will show us the ropes and the transformation of DoSaC can begin!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Bottoms Up !

    If someone was speaking from the bottom of the pile so to speak from somewhere relevent to this article the argument that end users will be confused by changing Operating Systems seems a bit of a waste of time. From their perspective staff at the lower grades don't know what they're using now. If a screen with a big "Windows" logo didn't come up every time they switched on they would be clueless. They may say 50 percent don't even know how to change the screen resolution never mind how to sort e-mails or format a letter in Microsoft Word correctly. They would be as happy with a dumb terminal with a monochrome monitor such as they may have had 20 years ago & the software that works flawlessly would happen be the same age and running in MSDOS terminal screens while everything else that slows down or breaks may be in Java. Therefore what would be the difference ? Java can crash anywhere if pushed I'm sure..

    Only a minority actually need all the functions of Microsoft Office to make pretty presentations etc in an organisation that does mostly processing work such as may have been mentioned earlier. The rest would be fine with a plain text e-mail program so all those irrelevant e-mails with word documents embedded 6 deep into them would be culled, a standard letter template and access to a decent database programme that works rather than struggle trying to make Excel run 50 users over 3 sites because Access licences are too expensive to hand out to everyone. Ergo what Operating system. Double click the pretty picture to enter the screen where you do your work....

  38. MikeyD85
    FAIL

    Ummmm....

    If replacing a Dell laptop with a MacBook Pro isn't sexing up IT, I don't know what is.

  39. Breezedave
    Megaphone

    OS X users of the Senior Sort

    Mr Coward is correct. You can have 'Senior Sorts' successfully working using OS X. That's because they only ever read, produce & re-process reports.

    Hell, I work for a government agency and I once set up a system so my head of directorate could work from his iPhone. Doesn't mean I want my Dell machine replaced with a Jesus Phone though.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MI5(spooks) 'ave em.

    Don't forget those spooks on BBC1 have macs and they keep the country safe, so they must be good.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      AC@00:32

      "MI5(spooks) 'ave em. → #

      Don't forget those spooks on BBC1 have macs and they keep the country safe, so they must be good."

      By George, I think you've got it.

  41. Gilbert Wham

    Why...

    ...must this degenerate into *yet another* Mac Vs PC debate, when we really should be reaching a consensus that killing every last MP and senior civil servant and starting from scratch would be easier, cheaper, and infinitely more satisfying?

    We could have kangaroo courts, where they are asked simple questions about what they purport to be their purview, and then hang them when their answers are irredeemably stupid.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No.

    Cheap laptops or netbooks with Ubuntu with disk encryption as default.

    The savings would be astronomical.

  43. Richard Porter
    Thumb Up

    Macs are cheaper?

    Well, actually, yes. More expensive to buy, but more reliable and not quite so vulnerable to malware so if you're a large organisation you spend less on support. You don't have to spend hours rebuilding the hard drive, reinstalling Windows or sorting out a screwed-up registry.

  44. The Alpha Klutz

    but they don't need expensive new computers

    they need some decent software to run on the ones they have.

    Imagine that you are miles away from a petrol station and your Ford Mondeo is empty. So, as you work for the government and you clearly know everything, you decide that the best solution is to have a Ford Mustang air lifted to your location. You might even think that it's a stupid idea, if you had to pay for it yourself.

  45. John Fielder
    Headmaster

    Why?

    Why do people who have just left a job suddenly realise what should be done? They never seem to realise this when they have the job and could actually change things.

    1. Barry Lane 1
      IT Angle

      @ John Fielder

      "Why do people who have just left a job suddenly realise what should be done?"

      I imagine it's because he has gone back at a time when the government is not so concerned with "sexing up" its IT and is more worried about balancing the books. He might've been boss in his own building, but his masters were politicians who wanted to cover their own arses and look good in the apathetic eye of the public.

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Same old crap.

      > Well, actually, yes. More expensive to buy, but more reliable

      No. It's the same old crap from the same old Foxconn factory.

      You can buy 2 PCs for the price of one Mac and end up with better PCs.

      Macs are simply not business machines. They are shiny things for consumer rubes that are too ignorant to realize that they are being sold inferior hardware with a premium price tag.

  46. NogginTheNog

    Don't want to be pedantic, but...

    For all the political and civil liberty FAILs involved in the ID Cards fiasco, I don't think the actual IT side of it was ever much of a SNAFU area was it..?

  47. Paul 129
    Linux

    TUX solution

    Yes it has issues. The development of Linux and its apps, is a function of its userbase, not a function of Redmond or Cupertino. Think about it... Spend money on finding and publicising a solution vs the entire IT chain that keeps Bill and Steve so rich.

    Oh hang on its a government, how can it exist without throwing wads of cash to its cronies.... Stupid me of course TUX wont work.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's get back to the "Not me, guv."

    Value for money from the large contractors? I firmly believe they are a big part of the problem even though there are clearly deficiencies in Whitehall (Civil Service rather than MP/PM level - who are inevitably removed from the enterprise.)

    The key has to be making the contracts far better so that the reward is worthwhile enough to get bidders, and yet the penalty for failure is real. You'd have thought there were enough lawyers in Parliament to make this happen - but then again, why did these specimens leave the legal profession?

    ... as you were...

  49. Arctic fox
    FAIL

    Cutting costs/wastage?

    By buying Macs? I am not slagging off Macs quality-wise (I use one in the lab at work, fine machine) but the buy-in/set-up/support/adoption costs are prohibitive when compared to similarly specced Windows pcs of decent build quality. Especially when they are being slotted in to an existing system. The guy is just mouthing off about something he knows very little about. Another example of the same type of thinking here in Brass monkey land. The firm Mm Arctic Fox works for has just bought all their admin-staff and the senior management iPads claiming that they can justify this on the grounds of improved productivity! They asked her if she wanted one - she pointed out that as a senior research scientist any applications she needs to run in order to be productive are rather more serious pieces of soft kit than those needed by personnel and marketing! This guy is just another senior manager opening his mouth and inserting both feet in it at one and the same time - impressive in the acrobatic sense but otherwise not much of a contribution in the greater scheme of things.

  50. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    OS X is not based on BSD

    Its a XNU/Mach kernel with some bits of BSD userland.

    Watmore did say (not reported here) that he wanted to stop pumping quite so much money into Accenture, IBM and BT, who apparently take 1/3rd of all IT expenditure, and open it up to smaller, local companies. That can only be a good thing. The mac comment was stupid, but thankfully it would never happen anyway.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @Breezedave

    Spot on - the people who make decisions aren't the best people to decide usually.

    Our org hired a consultant to tell them what they wanted to hear 'agile working, hotdesking, every user has a laptop'.

    Now everyone has a laptop, when all they really needed is to have roaming profiles. However, that doesn't spend the million quid+ they've saved over the past two years by not giving us pay rises, and what consultant says "Nah, you don't need to spend a bunch of money".

    Laptops are fine if all you do is look at a few spreadsheets or reply to emails (decision maker).

    I'm a programmer. My job is to write fuck loads of code, efficiently and without errors.

    I now have to do it on a fecking wide screen laptop, so less vertical space (I can see less lines of code at a time -> reduced efficiency), with a fecking laptop keyboard (so many many more typos than with my model-m).

    It doesn't even have a full size escape key (execs don't use escape, programmers using vim use it a lot).

    Forget the lawyers, when the revolution comes, I'm gunning for management consultants.

  52. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Angling for factories

    To be fair to the fellow in question, it sounded to me as if he was angling for some juicy foreign direct investment for Apple. Does anyone know if Apple are looking around Europe to built some class of factory, data-centre etc?

  53. Paul 666
    Thumb Up

    every once is a while...

    'EL Reg presents us with Windows Wanker Meter survey!

    Well Done!!!

  54. Andy E
    Jobs Halo

    Mac Longevity

    As a previous poster said without details of the projects he's looking at we don't know what the options are. Personally I have a MacBook Pro that is used for Office, web browsing and e-mail. It's over 5 years old and will probably last at least another couple of years before the 2GB of memory can't cope with the demands of the software. A usable lifetime of 7 years is not bad for a laptop. Of course it came at a premium as I paid about £2k for it, but this included the cost of the software.

    Laptop PC's that I have had have only lasted about three years. The processors have been underpowered for the later releases of Windows and memory expansion has been limited. This might be changing with the new high spec laptops which have powerful CPU's, discreet graphics and 8 Gb of memory. But these are expensive systems too.

  55. philbo
    Unhappy

    My god, he is a hypocritical little <expletive deleted>, isn't he?

    He was in charge of a company that charged exorbitant numbers of millions for advice on how IT projects should be done - MPs followed that advice (because people charging thousands per day *must* know what they're talking about, mustn't they?), that advice generally meant that his company (or ones rather like it) were given further millions of pounds to "manage" huge projects that they really weren't up to handling the complexity.. rather than reduce complexity or scope, they simply charged even more.

    And now he comes and says it was all the Labour Govt's fault for wanting the sexy sounding things that his company pushed for. If they'd been the experts that they claimed to be, we'd not have seen the expensive debacles.

    CoI declaration: I wrote to my MP a few years ago on precisely this topic, with a load of suggestions as to how the specific project of which I had knowledge could have been done more quickly, far more cheaply (and actually have worked).

  56. Sirius Lee
    FAIL

    Same old, same old

    So the problem is not the technology - but change the technology anyway so it will be.

    What an arse.

  57. Mark .

    Shiny

    I was amused at this news - criticising expensive projects, but then it turns out he wants them to all use Apple (not to mention criticising Free Software) (and even if we ignore the premium of Apple; simply changing all the hardware would cost loads). Also with the complaints about "sexing" up IT - yet the thing that fans say about Apple products is they're good because of how "sexy" and "shiny" they are...

    At the end of the day, Apple are just yet another PC company these days. As good as any other. But I'd be wary if someone suggests everyone should use products from one company, just because that's what he has at home. Stay open minded, and pick the best tool for the job.

    Andy E: "Personally I have a MacBook Pro that is used for Office, web browsing and e-mail. It's over 5 years old and will probably last at least another couple of years before the 2GB of memory can't cope with the demands of the software. A usable lifetime of 7 years is not bad for a laptop. ... Laptop PC's that I have had have only lasted about three years. The processors have been underpowered for the later releases of Windows and memory expansion has been limited."

    Not true at all. Surely you could get other 2GB laptop PCs in the same timeframe that Apple were selling their 2GB laptop PCs? Even bottom of the range PC laptops had 1GB back in 2006. And Windows 7 works fine on my 1GB netbook; 2GB would be ample.

    In fact, given that 1GB is fine for me on Windows, whilst you're considering that even 2GB won't be enough in a couple of years, I think that's telling.

  58. umacf24
    Unhappy

    Accenture, etc, are a BIG part of the problem!

    They are supposed to be professional leaders, managers and integrators. But they didn't push back from projects that Watmore says were undeliverable -- they just carried on, bid anyway and wrote contracts that made sure they got paid regardless of success.

    I don't deny that civil servants and ministers are very culpable (for accepting fixed price contracts with so many holes that they may as well have been cost plus, if nothing else). But for Fujitsu and the rest professionalism should start with telling the truth about their capacity to deliver. If they can't do that in their claimed core competence, then they are most of the problem.

  59. johnny19
    WTF?

    These are the people who wouldn't update their systems away from IE6

    AND THE WANT TO USE MACS?! Good luck integrating all that with all the 10 year old proprietary systems. I can't even get the office mac's to work with our printers, let alone play with the Windows network.

  60. The Mad Hatter
    Pint

    Utter Genius

    So save the money in open source and spend the cash on flashy Macs (Nothing against macs as i am owner of one, so i know how expensive they compared to my company laptop) that most likely be lost with all our details on and sold around the world. What is this guy talking about, did he really go to Cambridge Uni. Looks like nothing has changed in Gov IT same old s**t people in charge.

    If i was in charge i would look at how federated the current landscape of the Government IT structure is and look at how many of these systems could be retired or consolidated onto a single platform per Gov. dept. If the work to consolidate the systems out strips the cost saving then they live with the system until such time as there is cash available to ensure a system can be put in place that serves the purpose.

    I worked on a Gov. project where they had 5 different systems to do the same job out of these systems one had been in dev for 3 years and still not delivered, one was so unusable that they had gone back to using spreadsheets instead of the system. The other 3 systems did small parts of the business process but would have been better just consolidating into one system.

    Mr Watmore, pretty much sums up why Gov. IT is never going to work, he just does not understand what is needed to make it work. Just saying use open source and give out some Macs in your Gov. departments means nothing. An understandable IT strategy for each of the federated departments would surely be a better strategy.

    aahhh...Nice to have a rant

  61. Colin Millar

    So why exactly should we listen to this guy?

    He was head of e-government in the mid-2000's (says the article)

    So he was the one that presided over the bureaucratic nightmare that saw CRM and other such monolithic one-size fits all projects as the best way ahead for multi-faceted complex organisations.

    Maybe we should listen to him because he has such a vast expertise in being completely clueless - at least we'd be quite clear about what to avoid.

  62. David Pollard

    They need a 'one per child' laptop

    The requirements for politicians and civil servants are in the main quite similar to those of a computer for schoolchildren: secure access and connectivity, robustness and reliability, and a selection of essential software that is easy to use.

  63. D Moss Esq

    Plenipotentiary

    Two questions:

    1. What power does Ian Watmore have?

    On past performance, very little.

    Transformational government, which he was responsible for, failed not least because the big departments of state refused to co-operate. They would not share their data. And they have no experience how to share entire systems.

    Watmore can tell the Home Office, say, to share a single user database with the NHS, say, all he likes, but he can't make them.

    In that case, he is basically just talking to himself with his grand plans for G-Cloud. Francis Maude may be listening and may be bamboozled. No-one else is paying any attention whatever. He's just another of those old men you see in the street sometimes, engaged in urgent conversation with themselves, but you give them a wide berth.

    2. Is Ian Watmore a serial failure?

    He was Managing Director of Accenture. He led Accenture's NHS assignment, working on NPfIT, which resulted in a nine-figure loss for Accenture. To be more precise, he and James Hall led the assignment together. James Hall had previously been Managing Partner at Accenture, before it incorporated.

    No wonder they left.

    Hall went on to achieve nothing at the Identity & Passport Service. He has now retired.

    Watmore went on to achieve nothing at the Cabinet Office, then in the PM's Delivery Unit, then at DIUS. Then he went on to fail at the Football Association. Now, instead of retiring, he's back for more buffoonery at the Cabinet Office.

    It's not an impressive track record. How did he get the job? How does he keep it? Is there any reason to believe that he might succeed this time?

    ----------

    1. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmpubadm/writev/goodgovit/it06.htm

    2. http://dematerialisedid.com/BCSL/Clouds.html

    3. http://dematerialisedid.com/BCSL/GPlan.html

  64. doperative
    Linux

    agile and Windows Domains?

    > Could have guessed the "because it works at home" angle. Last I checked, a Windows Domain was a lot easier to manage and lock down .., Ammaross Danan

    Right now I'm looking at both Windows and Macs that are happy to authenticate to the same Domain controller. Besides the entire infracture could be replaced by portable devices, the base system providing a screen, keyboard, mouse and Internet access. What could be more efficient than that.

    > While Open Source does make projects perhaps more agile, it definitely doesn't always lead to "more efficient" nor "smaller.", Ammaross Danan

    I've worked in IT tech support for a few decades and have never needed to use the word 'agile' in a sentence before. In my experience once a Linux/BSD/SuSE system is configured it just runs-and-runs, with Windows on the other hand you are for ever reinstalling-reinstalling-reinstalling ..

    1. Ivan Headache

      What does agile mean?

      I've been enjoying the bitchiness of this thread. It's been a good read.

      However, I'm flummoxed by the recent introduction of the word 'agile'.

      What does it mean?

  65. Sean Baggaley 1

    Meh.

    We're talking about civil servants, which includes MPs, Lords, Ministers and whatnot, not your typical office drones. A "locked-down" desktop isn't going to help you keep your IT support job for long with these egotists.

    iPads—or some rival equivalent—are probably all most of these people need: their lives involve mostly around filling in forms after all.

    For those who actually have to do some genuine work, write reports, do some research, and so on, there's the wireless keyboard option. Set up an in-house WebDAV server for these devices to use for storage, enable remote wiping (yes, even most iDevices support this now) and inform the buggers that they're entirely responsible for any losses and replacement costs should they happen to "accidentally" forget their £599+ device on a train, (and that it's also a sacking offence), and perhaps the government might actually get some useful work done in between games of "Angry Birds".

    On the other hand, given how often we've heard stories of these people's astonishing levels of incompetence, I'm not sure letting them anywhere near *anything* electrical is a good idea. It's a miracle some of them can operate a light switch without forms, signed in triplicate, sent to the Department of Office Illumination Operations to obtain a suitably trained, certified, overpaid lackey to do it for them.

    Macs? Maybe. They can be pretty easy to use and are pretty hard to break. And, being essentially BSD UNIX with a pretty face, they can run most FOSS just fine. (Hell, VMs like Parallels 6 can even run full-on, hairy-arsed games at high frame-rates now.)

    But I think the fundamental point is to just buy stuff off the shelf.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    At the University I work at...

    the same thought process has been applied. Our Associate Dean uses Apple products. They work at home. Thus, they are the best choice for our School.

    It's an interesting scheme - Apple being high mark-up, there's an increased number of decision makers who purchase them. Influencing this decision-making process, they then transfer their home experience to the work-place.

    The fact that budget holders apply their increased purchasing power to the public sector at a time of increasing cuts is remarkable. And as it's the School of Technology, the idea of having Apple products everywhere makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

  67. boardboy66

    Oh dear...

    The simple facts are:

    A) The unit price of Macs are far, far higher

    B) If you go for macs, you then cannot pick manufacturers to lower the cost of the units

    C) Windows 7 easily competes with Macs, and PC's with XP are also acceptable

    D) It's simply not Best Value to implement macs on large scale IT projects, they are far too cost prohibative

  68. Simon.W
    WTF?

    Maude sack this geezer now

    Anyone who makes statements like this, before they've even understood the entire ICT estate, shows what a know nothing bonzo they are. Most defintely got to the level he did by being promoted out of harms way. Unfortunately he's now been given a role where he can start doing harm again. OMG

  69. Fuzzygoth
    IT Angle

    What a Clownshoe

    Wow, that guy is seriously special, they could buy then but I can gareentee you no one will

    support them.

    Fuzzy

  70. Lord Lien

    I've done MAC/P.C support...

    ... for years now & people always seem to think "The grass is greener" if you were to go Apple.

    Apple churn out just as many defective hardware units as HP/Dell & all the other hardware venders do.

    If you want to be cost effective & still have the stability of OS X, the only way to go is Linux. Fedora or Ubuntu are my personal choices.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    I have a mac at home and it's really good.

    I have a mac at home and it's really good. That's all I wanted to say.

  72. Tom 13

    Damn! I keep looking at the titles for the April Fool's jokes,

    but when I look at the posting dates on the articles, it isn't the right day.

  73. cocknee
    WTF?

    despair in government IT

    As someone pointed out, he and others are part of the Government IT problem and with throw-away views like that it's no wonder they're in the mire.

    Having working in gov't IT for a long time it's full of career civil servants marking their time until pension "I used to be a programmer you know" is what you often hear - maybe back in Cobol days - not much use (I know the systems are still there) in a modern architecture and strategy.

    Most projects are in paralysis due to bureacracy, inaction and stupidity. It's easy to blame the ISV's but they're not charities and they'll only work better and smarter when their customers and contracts make them do it.

    I could cite so many examples of total cock-ups, failures that have cost millions due to the steerage from people like Whatmore and other IT Chiefs in Whitehall. He's toadying up to his new boss by blaming the previous administration. He's got a bloody cheek blaming others when his (and others like him) fingerprints are all over the crimes!

    Back to the issue at hand - what a twat.

    a) thin client is where a lot of large departments should be heading to reduce cost and shorten the time to delivery of applications (usually 6-9 months at best)

    b) as much as I like MACs - it's style of substance; what business software other than office runs on them? There's plenty that don't! Whatever you think of Windows clients, everything run's on it. For the mack apologist going on about Web is the answer - no it's not!!

  74. Nigel Hamlin
    Unhappy

    Good to see all the usual levels of ill-informed bigotry here!

    I can understand that there are Windows-hating Mac users, just as there are Mac-hating Windows users, but do they all really have to display their prejudices quite so overtly? The truth is, even in government circles, and certainly in commercial offices, both platforms, and others, have roles to play.

    Maybe The Register should be a lot more selective about just which people they allow to post comments here and save the rest of us the trouble of reading the puerile bullshit that so many choose to write.

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