back to article Ah, this military GPS system looks shoddy but expensive. Shall we try to break it?

Hello, dear readers. We see you've come for your weekly dose of Who, Me? to shake off this serious case of the Mondays. So come with us to 2011, in our weekly column where Reg readers get their worst misdeeds off their chests. "Joe" was working in the British Army and had been sent a load of trial GPS kit for section level …

  1. Mr Benny

    Sorry, but...

    "Joe" and his mates sound like twats. Breaking expensive taxpayer funded kit - no matter what their opinion of it - for laughs is just pathetic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry, but...

      Perhaps worse, he didn't even remember enough to describe the contents properly! Was it surprisingly hi-tech? An embarrassing bodge? A disguised generic mobile phone? What?

    2. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Sorry, but...

      A fella I went to school with got congratulated by his CO for putting a brand new tank on its roof during a test drive.

      Not saying that this case is a glowing example, but sometimes the Army are very happy to have somebody break the kit - it lets them know how easily / badly it can be broken.

      1. Mr Benny

        Re: Sorry, but...

        Thats fare enough, but I've yet to meet any portable electronics that can't be destroyed by a sledgehammer. They weren't proving anything, they were just being dickheads and didn't even check what was inside when they were done. Why this article was even posted beats me unless "joe" is a friend of the author.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Electronics not destroyed by a sledgehammer"

          I had a discussion with a high up Navy man on a vessel.

          He pointed at the very large gun turret above us and said that it could fire a very large lump over 20 miles (not giving details here for obvious reasons.) I said that it must exert a large amount of force and he suggested that the solid projectile shrank by over an inch in length during launch.

          We then went for our meeting, where he asked if I could put some electronics and fins on the back of the projectile to make it "smart".

          When the Navy ask for stupid things, they tend to get stupid quotes in reply. It never went any further with me, but I do know that they asked at least one other outfit - and got a similar response!

          Anonymous, because even if they have no grasp of physics, they can grasp a gun!

          1. phuzz Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: "Electronics not destroyed by a sledgehammer"

            Amazingly, it is actually possible to strap a guidance kit onto an artillery shell.

            So your Navy pals weren't actually asking for the impossible AC, and you missed out on being able to charge them over one meeeeelion dollars! per shell.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: "Electronics not destroyed by a sledgehammer"

              "you missed out on being able to charge them over one meeeeelion dollars! per shell."

              It would be a lot of trouble to go to and then find they only had funds for a single salvo or maybe even less.

          2. Sam 15

            Re: "Electronics not destroyed by a sledgehammer"

            "I had a discussion with a high up Navy man on a vessel."

            I regret to inform you that the Royal Navy abandoned the use of Crows Nests quite some time ago.

            Or was this on HMS Victory?

            1. Maelstorm Bronze badge
              Pint

              Re: "Electronics not destroyed by a sledgehammer"

              @Sam 15

              You sir, have made my day. The next round of beer is on me. LOL

              1. Mark Exclamation

                Re: "Electronics not destroyed by a sledgehammer"

                Maybe it's Samantha?

          3. Tom 35 Silver badge

            Re: "Electronics not destroyed by a sledgehammer"

            They had proximity fuse shells in WWII with vacuum tubes in them.

        2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Sorry, but...

          I've yet to meet any portable electronics that can't be destroyed by a sledgehammer.

          I had to decomm a bunch of non-functioning equipment for my first sysadmin job. This meant hauling it from all over campus and putting it in a disposal bin after filling out the appropriate paper work. The bin was located next to a retaining wall down a flight of concrete stairs. I could either dump materials directly in from above or from a door in the front if they were already on the same level. One of the items to be disposed of was a CRT monitor. I had always wanted to chuck one down a flight of stairs and my chance had arrived. I threw it directly onto the screen. It bounced. There were some scuff marks, nothing more. I did not, however, perform the sledgehammer test, but I would place even odds on the monitor.

          1. Mr Benny

            Re: Sorry, but...

            You don't want to be standing near a large CRT when it implodes.

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: Sorry, but...

              Many years ago I briefly attended a MSC Skillcentre to get a introduction to Electronics.

              They used to take CRT's out the back & get the trainee TV Techs (They no longer did the full C&G 224 course by the time I got there), borrow some half bricks from the brickies course & lob them at dead CRTs to prove how robust they were.

              Came the day one guy lobbed a brick, it caught the face of the tube on the corner of the brick & did it's unexpected (to the tutor) but expected (by the average attendee) to implode (briefly) & explode (violently).

              A piece of glass at speed took a nasty chunk of meat (with a lot of blood) out of the guy standing next to the person that lobbed the brick.

              They never repeated the exercise for some completely unfathomable reason.

              1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: Sorry, but...

                but expected (by the average attendee) to implode (briefly) & explode (violently)

                Many, many, many years ago, my oldest brother was working at a plant nursery near London. At the end of the day they sometimes had a bonfire to burn up all the bits of cellulose-based rubbish (cardboard boxes, pallettes expired plants et. al.).

                Being a bunch of teenagers unaquainted with basic physics, they one day decided to chuck a few empty insecticide pressuries spray canisters on to see what happened..

                The inevitable happened - the spray-nozzle mechanism failed catastophically, turning said spray-cans in unguided missiles. The plant nursery owner was deeply unimpressed to have to replace quite a few panes of glass that now had very large holes in them. Said teenagers were suitably chastened.

                1. Nick Kew Silver badge
                  Mushroom

                  Re: Sorry, but...

                  If the owner was inflicting bonfires on the neighbourhood, getting blown up was well-deserved karma.

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Sorry, but...

            One of the items to be disposed of was a CRT monitor.

            I once heaved a TV set out of a fourth floor window. This was one that had a pane of security glass in front of the face of the tube, so pre-1960-ish. Case was left intact and the back cover was still on too, plus the impact area was well-marked and cleared of anything that might go 'ouch' or worse.

            Nearly all of the splinters were still inside, save a few that had exited via the crushed side panel into the pavement.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry, but...

          Right; it's seems to me that actually, this kit WAS pretty robust and well made

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, but...

        putting a brand new tank on its roof during a test drive.

        An excellent test of the driver's safety harness. I hope it passed.

      3. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, but...

        My late uncle once had to supervise his troop changing the sprocket wheel of a Centurion tank. Not quite remembering that there was a need to mark the exact position where the sprocket was placed onto the drive shaft they put the new sprocket on incorrectly and proceeded to use the Standard Army method of trying to get it on: i.e. hit it with a sledgehammer. When this completely failed to work they upped the 'sledgehammer' method by driving another tank at it.

        Result: One Centurion tank chassis declared Beyond Economic Repair plus one suitably admonished subaltern.

      4. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, but...

        Trying to break military equipment isn't all that uncommon (maybe it now though) but back in the day, the Army would send the dumbest, clumsiest, and often careless lads to be "testers". If the equipment survived a week or two of their testing, a box was ticked and equipment declared "ruggedized for combat".

        I should point out that "testing" didn't involve sledgehammers and the like but "usage". Tossing the equipment into the corner at the end of the day, sitting on it, dropping it, etc. In the case of vehicles, maybe knocking down some trees for kicks and grins. You get the idea...

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Sorry, but...

          If the equipment survived a week or two of their testing, a box was ticked and equipment declared "ruggedized for combat".

          From an Usenet .dig: "If being dropped from an airplane into what's essentially a minefield is considered 'moderate handling', what would be considered 'rough handling'?"

          "Being shipped USPS"

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry, but...

          Few years ago went for an interview for a company that supplied kit to civilian and military customers.

          Civilian kit - nothing special, HP PC with multi screen monitors on bog standard stands.

          Military - enclosed in metal box, metal keyboard (similar to ATM style).

          Dunno about the military, could do with some of that kit in a NHS hospital - even then I bet they'll break it.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry, but...

          Call it "real world testing"

        4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but...

          sitting on it, dropping it

          Driving an AFV over it, poking buttons at random to "see what they do", spilling tea all down it, covering it in mud..

      5. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Ochib

      Re: Sorry, but...

      no, they sound like typical squadies.

      The old joke is. "Leave a squadie in a room with a ball bearing . He'll either eat it, break it, or get it pregnant

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, but...

        "

        Leave a squadie in a room with a ball bearing . He'll either eat it, break it, or get it pregnant

        "

        Or lose it

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but...

          "Or lose it"

          Or nick it?

    4. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Sorry, but...

      Have you ever met service personnel?

      1. Wilco

        Re: Sorry, but...

        Yes, quite a few though almost all officers.

        I would describe quite a lot of them as either hyper masculine hard drinking sexist twats, or dim posh boy thicko twats. Very few of them seem to have managed to come through the experience of military life without acquiring (or magnifying) some very negative traits.

        I feel bad about writing this, because I am genuinely grateful for those brave enough to risk their lives for their country. However: smashing things up for a laugh is just effing stupid. Find something productive to do.

        1. Mr Benny

          Re: Sorry, but...

          I think only certain personality types are suited for army life. You have to be prepared to kill if you're front line (obv) and for your entire life to be run by someone else 24/7, not just 9-5, plus endure god awful enviroments and situations so kudos to them for doing it, but I think it would drive most normal people nuts after a while. Navy and air force probably less so as less extreme on a day to day basis though how anyone could serve in a submarine beats me, I'd literally go insane being trapped inside a crowded metal tube with no daylight for potentially months - I can't even stand long lift rides.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Sorry, but...

            Army recruitment poster:

            Travel the World!

            Go to exciting and exotic places.

            Learn about different cultures

            Meet new and interesting people.

            And kill them

            1. Maelstorm Bronze badge
              Devil

              That reminds me...

              That reminds me of a particular song by the Village People...

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmGuy0jievs

            2. David Nash Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              ...And kill them

              Wasn't that a Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch?

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Sorry, but...

          Short version's (Not retyping & can't find the original's) of encounters with the Royal Marines.

          Deliver 10 laptops - Lock in patching closet.

          Get back to work, ask for signed receipt by boss & present signed document, then discover 6 of them have disappeared already in the time I left to get back to work (10 - 20 mins away).

          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Officer complains that each laptop arrived with a broken screen out of the box & unusable, on the third return & wondering WTF is this guy doing, we check the event log & discover it was used for at least 6 hours out of the box.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but...

          hyper masculine hard drinking sexist twats, or dim posh boy thicko twats

          The two are not mutually exclusive y'know..

          (The two most Cluefull[TM] ex-Army types I've worked with were both ex-Warrant Officers..)

        4. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but...

          Belatedly I notice your "quite a lot of them".

          It's the rest of them that make the Army work. I've been fortunate enough to come across the thoughtful, organised types that, in a civilian environment, are prepared to tell stories about the sexist twats and the posh thickos they have to put up with every day.

          Two of them went to public schools, the rest didn't.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, but...

        "Have you ever met service personnel?"

        A few NCOs who were ex-IED displosal. Great guys.

        Also been in a few situations where an armed escort was necessary.

        OTOH my last week in forensic science started with 2 days flying over to Fort George to give evidence against a squaddie who'd broken into the NAAFI. They thought they were being considerate with the extra day but I could have done with that day in the office finishing off my writing up. It also reminded me that it's unwise to go drinking with Army sergeants, especially SIB.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry, but...

      While it may have been "breaking expensive taxpayer funded kit" it's just as likely it demonstrated the lack of suitability of the kit for its intended purpose, in the process saving the taxpayers significantly more and possibly saving lives by preventing it being used in dangerous situations.

      Sounds to far fetched? Remember this:

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/20/government-fake-bomb-detectors-bolton

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sorry, but...

        " it's just as likely it demonstrated the lack of suitability of the kit for its intended purpose, in the process saving the taxpayers significantly more and possibly saving lives by preventing it being used in dangerous situations."

        Tell you what then, you go down the main entrance of whatever office building you're currently in and start beating the living daylights out of the front door with a fire extinguisher, and when security lead you away (or a police response team, or a man who puts you in a jacket that fastens snugly at the back) you can tell them you were just stress-testing the office security,

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but...

          When we added a new electronic lock to our server room door, the first thing we did was test it by kicking the door.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          demonstrated the lack of suitability of the kit for its intended purpose

          for what intended "purpose" does a GPS need to survive being hit by a sledgehammer? If you dismiss a GPS device for this reason rather than it's ability to perform the function it was designed for, your testing priorities are clearly wrong.

          Did they specify surviving sledgehammer attack for the design requirements? If they had, it would be supplied in a heavy case making it impractical for mobile location tracking. </Stating the obvious>.

          1. eldakka Silver badge

            for what intended "purpose" does a GPS need to survive being hit by a sledgehammer? If you dismiss a GPS device for this reason rather than it's ability to perform the function it was designed for, your testing priorities are clearly wrong.

            How about, a GPS where as part of its design that is required to be operated in extreme conditions (winter in northern Scandinavia, Sahara Desert in summer, Jungles of SE Asia during the wet season, bottom of a squaddies foot locker) by soldiers in combat situations, with bullets and shrapnel whizzing around, bits of buildings collapsing on them, and so on.

            Or, do you expect a soldier to refuse to go out cause it's raining and that'll short the GPS? Or can't dive into a foxhole when under fire, has to gingerly climb into it and make sure they don't lie on it because it might break? Or can't toss their webbing into a corner because that might break the GPS attached to it?

            This kit is (was) intended to be used by soldiers in combat. Bullets flying around, IEDs/artillery sending shrapnel out, bits of masonry falling, being dropped, heavy kit being thrown on it accidentally (e.g. a crate being put in the corner) and so on.

            So while specifically not a sledgehammer, certainly very rough and high impact treatment. Therefore a sledgehammer is probably not a bad substitute to simulate the most extreme effects it might be subject to. If it survives a sledgehammer, it'll survive anything likely to be thrown at in a harsh environment.

      2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, but...

        In deployment, the gear is carried by a trooper. If an adversary gets close enough to hit the gear with a sledgehammer, the trooper has more immediate difficulties than malfunction electronics.

    6. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Sorry, but...

      Nah, they should have been put in charge of BOWMAN testing.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Sorry, but...

        Now there's a name from my past, along with CLANSMAN.

        1. BugabooSue
          Happy

          Re: Sorry, but...

          CLANSMAN?

          Holy Crap!! Like you say - “a blast from the past!” :D

          I remember seeing my gunner and commander using the buttons on the front of the radio pack sometimes when climbing in and out of my Fox turret.

          Mind you, that’s often all they were fit for - footholds!!

      2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Sorry, but...

        I still twitch a bit when I see BOWMAN.

        The pills are helping, though.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Sorry, but...

          Are you two ex RACAL too?

        2. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but...

          Heh! I will see your BOWMAN and raise you a JTRS. *That* radio put the 'S' in POS. $38k each. No workie.

          1. macjules Silver badge

            Re: Sorry, but...

            I see your BOWMAN and raise you one BLOWPIPE. Once famously described as ‘trying to shoot pheasants with a drainpipe’, never in the field of human conflict has such a useless POS been deployed.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Sorry, but...

              field of human conflict has such a useless POS been deployed

              I dunno - some of the early Soviet WW2-era anti-tank devices were pretty dangerous - to the user and anyone standing near them..

              (Soviet military policy at that time being "there are a lot more of us than them so who cares if we have a 20:1 combat loss ratio?". Includes the use of penal batallions to clear minefields by charging over them..)

              1. macjules Silver badge

                Re: Sorry, but...

                Still trumped. We deployed 95 Blowpipe “missiles” to the South Atlantic: only 9 ever hit a target, usually helicopters, and in one memorable case accidentally shot down a Harrier GR3 since unfortunately we had sold the missile to Argentina as well. Apparently even the Afghan Mujahideen rejected them as unusable.

                Most definitely the Surface 1 of the military world.

        3. Wupspups
          Devil

          Re: Sorry, but...

          I raise your Bowman and Clansman and give your Larkspur (and just to be kinky how about a bit of BRUIN)

          There used to be 2 bit of kit one LARKSPUR and one BRUIN that used Hollerith cards. No matter how often you showed the ops how to insert the cards next shut the doors and then close the locking catches some ham fisted git would get it the wrong way round. Oh Oh buggered card readers and some poor sod would have to repair the damage. I used to do about 5 BRUIN ones a week best part of 4 hours for each one Do't know who passed that kit for troop use but he should have been smacked over the head with the sledge hammer

    7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Sorry, but...

      They should have documented it all, then it would have been fine.

      New kit SIR! Never used before SIR! Used initiative SIR! Did some sensible pre-deployment tests SIR! All written down here SIR!

  2. Peter 26

    yeah totally, I thought they were going to reveal what crap was inside.

    1. AbortRetryFail

      <Error 32: Punchline Missing>

      Me too.

      I was expecting "And what we found inside was...." and that this would be the payoff / point / punchline of the story.

      But, no, instead it was just "we broke something deliberately. Hurr hurr hurrrr".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: <Error 32: Punchline Missing>

        Indeed. Like an episode of Beavis and Butthead where they accidentally end up in an IT lab.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: <Error 32: Punchline Missing>

          Hey. This cable says TP. It must be some kind of butt floss.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Hmmm

    I don't think I'd be capable of {cough} opening {cough} a piece of unknown kit without thoroughly investigating what's inside.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Boffin

    Not only Military

    I love walking into our storeroom and seeing all the gear that never saw the light of day, or the light of only one day. It's a wasteful shame when higher ups make a plan from their ivory tower, only to have us in the trenches find it doesn't work as planned with out spending a ton more dosh to make it work, which isn't available...

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Not only Military

      You're talking about boots, aren't you?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not only Military

      I worked in a company where we wanted to buy some expensive test gear (£100K for hardware & £20K for software) - why it was separated deity only knows!

      The actual purchase order was written up by the hardware team (as software were limited to £5K spend) and when told that there was not enough budget they dropped the software and got commendations for saving 20% of the cost.

      The hardware duly turned up and was left turned off for the 3 years I was still there, as no-one could find the budget for the software. (Software had the £5K limit and hardware weren't going to spend money on the software and admit they had not bought it in the first place!) The hardware team did turn on the cooling fans when manglement were conducting a tour of that lab!

      The test reports were very carefully worded to give the impression that the expensive test gear had been used, but not actually claim so in as many words!

      Happy to say that I am an ex-employee of that outfit!

      1. Robert 22

        Re: Not only Military

        I've seen pretty much the same thing - only the currencies were different.

        It is curious how often rules intended to ensure funds are used responsibly and save money have perverse consequences.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Not only Military

          Beancounters only see numbers, not consequences. Action X costs £500 Action Y costs £300. We do Y

          The fact that action Y will have other consequences such as wasted prior expenditure ( i.e. no longer in the equation) or future higher expenditure ( not yet in the equation) bothers them not a bit.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Not only Military

          "It is curious how often rules intended to ensure funds are used responsibly and save money have perverse consequences."

          The rule making mind assumes the rules will be applied along the lines that the rule-maker envisages. It never considers that the rules will simply be applied so as to achieve what the rule-follower needs to get done. And even that assumes the rules are actually followed.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: why it was separated deity only knows!

        Accountants know as well. Hardware gets amortized, software doesn't. That is why it is very important to have both lines on the invoice.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: why it was separated deity only knows!

          Quite right. Hardware depreciates over the course of years. Software goes out of date during shipping.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: why it was separated deity only knows!

          Although if you really want to mess with their heads, ask them about firmware.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Not only Military

        why it was separated deity only knows

        Different budgets - hardware depreciates but software doesn't...

    3. ItWasn'tMe

      Re: Not only Military

      Remember, stores are for storing...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not only Military

      >gear that never saw the light of day

      Welcome to Civil Service purchasing policy.

      "Quick - it's the end of budget cycle and we have £100K left! Buy some Stuff or they'll cut our budget by £100K!"

      Most of the time we tried to buy stuff that we actually needed but it wasn't always possible.

      1. iainr

        Re: Not only Military

        Had the same issue on a much smaller scale in a former job. I was asked by one of the academics why I always bought 6 months worth of toner and paper for the labs in the last two weeks of the financial year. I explained that I'd run the budget down until there was a small amount to cover emegencies and then blow that on stationary at the last minute to clear the account. Stationary was an internal order so you could order it up to two weeks before the end of the year, external orders would take about 6 weeks to be processed and although you could run these into the next financial year it caused much gnashing of teeth and screaming from the accounts folk. He started doing the same and I got a thank you from the accounts person as he had up till then been the worst offender in the "fuck I need to spend my budget today" stakes.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, I didn't *waste* money

    I was once tasked with writing up the paperwork for a decision that had already been made (it happens).

    Unfortunately, I knew from another ongoing project that the delivery time for this project was going to make its outcome useless.

    I made the mistake of naïvely mentioning that so I was immediately pulled into a maelstrom of BS to disprove me, I suspect this was because this involved millions and quite a lot of people were already busy counting their slice of it (it was a government job). It got to the point of putting me in front of someone very senior (who was known to *hate* advisers) with a large audience, with the clear aim to make me fail so disastrously that I would have no credibility left and could safely be ignored.

    It didn't work out that way.

    The Very Senior Person stated that this was the first time someone had actually come with facts, without attempting to use any incomprehensible jargon and "without bloody slide shows" (sic). I didn't fail in front of a large audience, I was complimented. The budget got re-allocated and used for something that would benefit the organisation. Contacts complimented us on this years after, but you can imagine that my management was not happy as they were the ones about to get money for something they would never need to deliver (something they repeated a few years later with a very public project).

    So the company I worked for put me on a PIP instead, and engineered me out of the organisation. Honest people are, after all, a major risk. For those who have ever been placed on a PIP for "exit engineering", you know that it's easy to starve someone of jobs if senior management wants you gone, but they were too scared of what I knew so I got them to properly pay me redundancy instead. If I'd taken them to court for constructive dismissal they would have lost access to all that loot from government work..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Well, I didn't *waste* money

      Can't quite rival your story.

      But back in '89, when employed by a contractor to the MoD, I was tasked with assessing someone's PhD thesis. The candidate had spent the first part of his career working on MoD contracts, then in his mid thirties went off to do a PhD, which was all about a new/alternative algorithm for tracking (enemy) submarines. '89 was when he submitted the thesis.

      The (boring) task was to put the algorithms through some test data, mostly synthetic but with one set of real-life tracking data at the end, and compare the new algorithm to the existing stuff, developed at huge expense to the taxpayer using regular Kalman filters. But wearing my mathematician and statistician hat, I allowed myself to extend the task into a little analysis and comment on the algorithm itself.

      The candidate was delighted to have my little bit of critique, which was diplomatically kind to him (i.e. used words like "innovative", but didn't quite point out that his own mathematical background was inadequate to see what he had done, and that he'd well and truly thrown out the baby with the bathwater). TPTB, by contrast, were furious: this was not my job; don't rock the boat.

      Bottom line: both the old and new algorithms were basically useless. The Kalman filters fell down particularly badly on the one test case with real data. My language was more diplomatic, but you'd struggle to miss the conclusion between the lines.

      I lasted less than a year in that job. But at least parted on good terms: these folks were old-school polite. In fact it's probably the only job I've done where a Cambridge degree was a matter for respect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, I didn't *waste* money

        Unfortunately the Soviet Union, with its surplus of mathematicians and physicists, apparently did a much better job of sub tracking, and using inferior radar at that. Though sadly I can't go into more details for OSA reasons.

        1. Sam 15

          Re: Well, I didn't *waste* money

          "Unfortunately the Soviet Union, with its surplus of mathematicians and physicists, apparently did a much better job of sub tracking, and using inferior radar at that. "

          I assume "radar" is a typo for "sonar"?

        2. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Re: Well, I didn't *waste* money

          Why is that unfortunate? Given that neither side actually attacked each other's submarines!

          Or is there something we're not being told?

          1. iainr

            Re: Well, I didn't *waste* money

            Depends what you mean by attacked. Noone fired torpedoes at each other but I think there were a couple of collisions and an awful lot of near misses

        3. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Well, I didn't *waste* money

          It wasn’t really ‘radar’ or even ‘sonar’. Do a search on SOKS - nonacoustic submarine detection system.

  6. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Meh

    Who's the idiot though? The person making the £50 cable tidy and selling it for £250? Or the person buying the £250 cable tidy, that costs less than £50 to make...

    One of those two is a genius...

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Pint

      Sold for £50, it probably cost less to make...

      Trebles all round for the supplier -->

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Devil

        RE: Korev

        Reminds me of the stories from NHS procurement...Hundreds of pounds for a lightbulb, a thousand pounds plus for a fastener of paper with easy-refill technology (A fucking stapler), 50 quid for a biro. Seems like corrupt money siphoners gravitate to these jobs...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "One of those two is a genius"

      No, one of those two is just following SOP for anyone selling to an organisation that not only won't buy from the pricelist but won't even make the effort to check the pricelist. The other is representing said organisation. Any genius involved is the one who discovered that and they've been dead for millennia.

    3. Mr Benny

      Its nothing compared to the audiophool world where gormless idiots with too much money will literally pay hundreds of quid per metre for speaker cable that probably cost a few quid per metre to make. Ditto turntables that are just a motor and a platter but can be priced into 6 figures because of some woo woo BS made up down the pub by the "designer" who probably had hysterics all the way to the bank.

      1. Carpet Deal 'em
        Devil

        Looks like the audiophiles are downvoting you. Don't worry, guys: there's enough coat hangers for everybody.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "turntables that are just a motor and a platter"

        They don't necessarily have to be priced into those figures but they do require a certain amount of solid engineering to ensure that they (a) revolve at a constant speed fairly similar to what it says on the tin, (b) don't have noisy bearings, (c) isolate vibration from the outside and (d) continue to do this after several years' use.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Turntables

          Turntables, transducers and actual loudspeakers are AFAIK the only parts in the chain where lots of money can be spent and get better results, basically since MOSFETs obsoleted bipolar power transistors and their crossover distortion just where you don't want it, and valves with their transformers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Turntables

            On the other end of the age spectrum, I saw a working Victrola this weekend. A hundred-year-old hand-crank record player that still works.

          2. iainr

            Re: Turntables

            For me peak audiphile bullshit happened when someone reviewed a £200+ USB cable and recommended it.

        2. Mr Benny

          Maybe so, but thats fairly basic engineering and certainly not £10K's+ worth. A few hundred quid will buy you all that plus a pretty chrome logo to boot.

      3. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Audiophile porn?

        Pro tip... instead of spending hundred of pounds per meter for monstrous chunks of oxygen-free copper (hand oiled by Tahitian virgins), do what the pros do:

        Use ribbon cable. All odd conductors one polarity, even conductors the other. Idea is ot minimizes inductance by getting the area of the Amperian loops as small as possible. Inductance is far lower for a given cost than going with a large pair of conductors. You can run a lot of power over a 50 conductor ribbon, I run 100W avg without hesitation. Heat dissipation works well because of the geometry. Connectors are almost too cheap to meter. AND the darn speaker runs lay flat in cable trays.

        You're welcome!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Audiophile porn?

          You can run a lot of power over a 50 conductor ribbon, I run 100W avg without hesitation.

          If you're only running 100W just use some 2.5mm² mains cable. Easier to cable, less chance of crosstalk. Inductive effects at audio frequencies and low power make Amperian loop issues insignificant.

          1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

            Re: Audiophile porn?

            Sounds good. Literally. For me I experienced peak audio BS when a guy at work was talking through his, er, line out port that the gold plated digital cables give one better sound.

    4. TRT Silver badge

      Price to make cable tidy - £0.50 per metre.

      Price to supply certification and testing, £239.50 per metre.

      1. JimC Silver badge

        Indeed so

        there's a big expensive gulf between "ought to survive if the tank is hit by a shell" and "proven to survive when the tank is hit by a shell"

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Indeed so

          "And these parachutes are 100% reliable?"

          "Oh yes, sir! Well, let's just say we've never had any complaints, shall we?"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As a more accurate breakdown:

        Initial costs (units 1-20) for "product development":

        Price to make cable tidy - £0.50 per metre.

        Price to supply certification and testing, £239.50 for initial test units.

        Subsequent costs (units 20+) for "production components":

        Price to make cable tidy - £0.50 per metre.

        Price to label "certified cable" - £0.50 per unit

        Premium gin for entertainment - £100 per unit

        Profit - £139/unit

        There's likely to be a line in the contract stating that pricing for production components will be finalized in the future. During the discussions with senior management, the premium gin tends to sway the case for this and subsequent orders being "one-off" purchases that are best left as-is to ensure the procurement is completed quickly without any unnecessary additional procurement and legal costs.

  7. don't you hate it when you lose your account

    Waste tax payers money?

    Nope. Never been a MP

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wasting taxpayers' cash

    Going back a number of years, my father worked as an engineer for a local authority at a water treatment plant. They used to do their own maintenance and make many of their own parts. A brand new top of the range (expensive) metal working lathe had recently arrived and was just awaiting being hooked up to the power etc when the news came that Severn Trent were going to take over from the local authority. On top of various redundancies they also did their own maintenance and the council's workshop was no longer needed. All the kit was removed from the workshop by Severn Trent and the lathe was dumped outside in the rain. My father offered to buy it, but was refused as there were "procedures". It stood out in the rain for a year until it was a rusting heap and was eventually sold for scrap metal value. Brand new and unused.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

      This happens all the time in the public sector. It's because whenever you buy (or sell) anything, you have to go through processes to show that you're obtaining the best price/not taking a back hander.

      The problem is that the processes can be such a pain in the rear that it's simpler to just waste money than get better value for money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

        This happens all the time in the public sector.

        And in the private sector. We had a lab full of nice telecommunications blade systems (internal products, we made them), several $K each, many still in their boxes where they had been since delivery awaiting installation in the racks. Then the software project they were to be used for was cancelled. Did they get returned, refurbished, sold to customers?

        No. They were scrapped. Collected by a company that was contractually required to physically destroy them, along with many tens of $K of mounting chassis & racks. Too much paperwork & fear of liability to do anything else.

        The best we could do was to strip the nice big 2.5" hard drives off them first, to upgrade as many laptops as we could find, before reboxing them for collection.

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

          Even simpler scenario: having to hand back computers to employers when I leave them. One likes to hope they found a new use, but I'm sceptical. In one case, they'd supplied a much better monitor than I had, and I offered to buy it, but no :(

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            Happened that a coworker of mine had borrowed an older logic analyzer (Tek 1240 IIRC) to use at home (this was allowed at the discretion of his manager), and handed in his notice. He was asked if he had any company property at home, said yes, but he had misplaced it, and how much should he reimburse the company (with a nod and a wink to his manager) for it?

            An amount was proposed, which was duly deducted from his last pay stub, and everyone was happy.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            "Even simpler scenario: having to hand back computers to employers when I leave them."

            Handing back company car. They did offer to sell it to me. No way, good riddance.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

              I handed back my company car the day I left, but before I could make them an offer for it, a salesman borrowed it and rolled it. Quite impressive because rolling a Scorpio is actually quite hard work.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

                I had one job where I was issued with a brand new top of range Orion*. Being of that cast f mind I ensured it was run in carefully and so on. Moving onto another company I had a Sierra. I took that in for servicing at the local Ford dealer and there was "my" old Orion with quite a deep V-shaped depression in the front. Some people just can't be trusted.

                *Actually I was relieved of it sometime before I left. I had to swap it with some other staffer's Montego because they were afraid he was going to go over the contract mileage and they'd forgotten I also had a quite distant site to visit rarely. It might have been a coincidence that I left fairly soon after that swap. Comparison: Orion, nice car but the steering reaction did tend to have the spokes of the steering wheel try to take your thumbs off; Montego, little steering reaction at all, not even with the road. A later manager said he'd hired a turbo Montego and it put him in the ditch. A Montego with a turbo doesn't bear thinking about.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

                  Visit frequently dammit!!!

                2. iainr

                  Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

                  My dad had a montego van at one point which I boorowed on occasion I asked him why he had four paving slabs in the back and he explained that the only way to get the rear brakes to pass the MOT was to load the rear axle. The collective conclusion of everyone that drove it was that the best way to do a three point turn was to find another montego van pointed in the opposite directions and offer to swap with the other driver. I always wonder if Herbert Austin's ghost haunted them until they took the austin badge off the later versions.

                3. Intractable Potsherd

                  Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

                  The Montego Turbo was all but undrivable. A friend of mine, working as an engine specialist for a motor manufacturer had one for evaluation purposes. As a group, my friends and I were all quite experienced competitive drivers, often in (inadvisable, in retrospect) self-modified kit that needed some finesse to propel safely at speed. However, none of us could do anything with the Montego Turbo - the torque curve rose almost vertically from "it's going to stall" to "oh, fuck" between around 2000-2500 rpm (figures possibly distorted by time), and the torque-steer was vicious. It is the only car I have ever been afraid of, and refused not only to drive but to go in as a passenger.

          3. GlenP Silver badge

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            Even simpler scenario: having to hand back computers to employers when I leave them. One likes to hope they found a new use

            All our user laptops are returned to IT when the person leaves. If they can be issued to someone else (e.g. the next person in the role) they are. If they're working but not reissued they'll get reused for odds and ends such as running monitoring tasks.

            In the rare event that a director, despite my asking them not to, does agree to a user retaining their laptop as part of exit negotiations it still has to come to IT to be wiped back to the operating system.

            1. Nick Kew Silver badge

              Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

              In the rare event that a director, despite my asking them not to, does agree to a user retaining their laptop as part of exit negotiations it still has to come to IT to be wiped back to the operating system.

              Ugh. A BOFH of pointlessness.

              If it's company data you're worried about, the departing employee or contractor could very well have a copy - and will do if they have the slightest intention of misusing them.

              Otherwise ... I'd wipe it a lot more thoroughly than that before handing it to your IT. "rm" is wholly inadequate to sensitive stuff like private keys. And with a journaling filesystem, even shredding (or zeroing) a file before rm won't do the job.

        2. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

          Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

          And in the private sector

          And not just for goods.

          A colleague is visiting from India. First London then Paris. We normally (and sensibly) use Eurostar for London-Paris trips. But guess what? The travel booking tool in India only allows air transport for that, no train! So he'll be paying much more for plane tickets, plus taxi to and from airports (no one in Accounting will bother him about Tube being far cheaper), not counting all the wasted time in airport transfers, check-in and luggage collection. But that's ok cause it's all in policy!

          1. Sheherazade

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            Once I returned to IBM as a part time contractor for an international project in Japan. By IBM rules, I was only allowed to travel on the same flight as my full-time IBM colleague, and only stay at the same hotel. By the time my travel approval had arrived, it was only possible to book business class flight seat and executive floor room, in order to comply with the rule. Go figure my colleague's face.

          2. TRT Silver badge

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            I went fo a job interview at Lancaster University. Filled in the travel claim for £48 for petrol and stuff... they rejected it as I could only claim a second class single or return ticket. Duly did so and a few days later the cheque for £268 arrived in the post. The only job interview I made a profit on.

          3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            "

            So he'll be paying much more for plane tickets

            "

            Are you quite sure about that? It was recently reported that 2 plane tickets - from Gatwick to France, and another from France to Edinburgh works out cheaper than a train ticket from London - Edinburgh.

            1. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

              Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

              Train to Edinburgh, not surprising given the rip-off prices of British rail.

              I was specifically referring to London<->Paris trips for which you don't have that many direct flights. I just checked on our company travel website, plane tickets from London to Paris are typically 20% to 100% more expensive than Eurostar, so maybe the "much more" was a bit of a stretch, but there's very little reason to prefer the plane for center-to-center journeys between these 2 cities.

          4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            So he'll be paying much more for plane tickets

            One place I worked, they changed the rules about 2 years into my stay so that we could only fly economy. Being somewhat taller than average that really, really didn't work for me..

            Now I used to fly to remote offices around Europe once I had stacked up enough jobs there to make it worthwhile. However, the length of my stay was variable - I could have ten jobs queued up and it would only take me two days to clear or I could have five jobs and it would take me five days. So, rather than waste money on a fixed flight that I then couldn't necessarily catch, I managed to get permission to get a flexible ticket, which was slightly more expensive..

            Finance were not amused when they discovered that those were business-class tickets. However, my manager was and it was done with his permission so, while there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, they couldn't actually do anything about it.

            Or, as I put it at the time - a win-win. I got to travel in comfort and Finance got annoyed.

        3. Valerion

          Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

          An old colleague of mine once got asked to clear out an old storeroom. He found a couple of large boxes of expensive batteries that looked valuable and asked what to do with them. He got told to chuck them. He asked if he could have them, they said sure, and he made about 2 grand flogging them on ebay.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            I worked at a place that didn't seem to have a great grasp of when a thing should be thrown away, resulting in the following conversation after I saw an old server in the about-to-be-thrown-away pile:

            Me: I didn't know we were replacing this.

            Them: Yes. We got a new one, and this one is getting thrown away as it has a fault.

            Me: Shouldn't we take the disks out and erase them before we give the server to the disposal people?

            Them: No, we don't have to. That's the fault.

            Me: Sorry, what?

            Them: There was a disk failure, so it doesn't matter what we do with the disks.

            Me: You are throwing away a server because of a disk fault?

            Them: Yes.

            Me: Is the rest of the server faulty?

            Them: I don't know. Probably not.

            Me: Well ... ok then. Anyway, back to this disk thing, we don't need to erase these disks because they're faulty?

            Them: Yes.

            Me: And all the disks failed at once?

            Them: The machine reported a disk fault message.

            Me: There are six disks in there. Are you saying that they're all faulty?

            Them: I don't know. We're recycling this. Why are you asking me about this? Do your job.

            Me: Fine. My job is system security. I'm impounding these disks. If you're not using them, they don't leave here until they've been thoroughly erased.

            Still, they dumped a server that did not seem all that old to me. I've learned my lesson about trying to run a rack server at home, but I can't deny I was tempted to take this one as they probably would have given it to me.

            Posting anonymous just in case they read it.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

              I've learned my lesson about trying to run a rack server at home

              Make sure that you have an acoustic rack so that you don't get kept awake at night?

              Or is that just me?

              (Rack currently has an old Dell 2950 in the bottom acting only as a shelf that the successor sits on.. )

        4. tcmonkey

          Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

          "contractually required to physically destroy them"

          If people want to take recycling and waste reduction seriously, such contact terms should be illegal. The exception of course is for data storage devices. Forcing a device to go into being hazardous electronic waste just because of bloody mindedness is frigging criminal.

          1. whitepines Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            While I agree, bear in mind that in this wonderful day and age of proprietary closed-source snoopy firmware (Intel ME, AMD PSP, AMI BMC, etc.) the mainboard itself must be considered a data storage device. Once you've destroyed the mainboard for security reasons, especially on those 1U/2U servers that use a proprietary form factor, the rest of the machine is relatively useless, no?

            Of course if firmware was open source and the vendor disclosed where the data storage devices were so they could be securely erased and re-imaged (or even just socketed and replaced), then this would be a non-issue. I know it can be done, some of the newer Power stuff allows for this, but until it becomes part of the environmental laws the vendors just won't give up that juicy DRM/software lock-in/data slurp combo (think Superfish, Microsoft ARM secure boot, Windows 10 telemetry, etc.).

            1. tcmonkey

              Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

              Agreed, although I don't feel that you need to necessarily open-source the firmware. Just make it part of the law that manufacturers must provide a method by which *ALL* user specific data can be easily destroyed prior to reuse. You could make it part of WEEE for instance. I suspect this would be sufficient for all but banking and national security industries.

              1. whitepines Silver badge

                Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

                Agreed, although I don't feel that you need to necessarily open-source the firmware. Just make it part of the law that manufacturers must provide a method by which *ALL* user specific data can be easily destroyed prior to reuse. You could make it part of WEEE for instance. I suspect this would be sufficient for all but banking and national security industries.

                Without open source firmware, how do you audit this? The reason the mainboards are broken up / destroyed is because of potential data leakage and associated liability of all types -- unless there's an iron clad legal contract with the vendor where the vendor takes all responsibility for any data leaked due to "accidental" omissions of data storage devices, it's still going to be safer and probably cheaper to securely dispose of the boards through physical destruction.

                An aside: why do you think an angle grinder was taken to every chip on that Mac machine with the national secrets on it some time back? Better safe than sorry when dealing with black boxes with lots of storage and lots of reason to keep various things around on that storage.

                1. tcmonkey

                  Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

                  That's what the law is for. If the manufacturer didn't implement this properly then they'd be opening themselves up for legal action from both the customer and the government. Granted this isn't going to be sufficient in some cases, but for a good proportion of the time it'll be enough.

                  Whilst it would be nice to have open source firmware on everything, it's an absolute pipe dream. Manufacturers make far too much money selling features to people for them to do this at anything other than gunpoint.

                  1. whitepines Silver badge

                    Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

                    That's what the law is for. If the manufacturer didn't implement this properly then they'd be opening themselves up for legal action from both the customer and the government.

                    Call my cynical, but in my experience that's what EULAs are for -- effectively overriding the law and moving responsibility onto the end user. We may not like it but so far such atrocities as "licensed not sold" for software and "you must agree to telemetry to use Windows programs" have largely been upheld by various legislative bodies worldwide. The courts largely hold, for right or wrong, that using a computing device is optional, even in today's world, and therefore using or owning one is a choice. As a result you can give up rights in exchange for choosing the convenience of a computer.

                    Never mind that conflicts with the same governments forcing people to use various computing devices for access to government services, with no local office to pop down to if one chooses not to agree to some nasty privacy-invading EULA. Sigh.

                    Whilst it would be nice to have open source firmware on everything, it's an absolute pipe dream. Manufacturers make far too much money selling features to people for them to do this at anything other than gunpoint.

                    And you *can* actually get computers with open firmware these days*. While I don't expect a set top box or game console to ever come with open firmware, one shouldn't be putting confidential data on them anyway, right?

                    * Notably some of the IBM Power based stuff. Cheap ARM laptops too.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

            Forcing a device to go into being hazardous electronic waste...is frigging criminal

            Agreed, but I didn't say that. The company destroying it was required to follow appropriate laws about recycling, WEE etc. for the destroyed material. They had to break it up and weren't permitted to refurbish it or sell it as working, but obviously it didn't end up as landfill.

            1. tcmonkey

              Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

              If you think that breaking working devices up into their component parts and "recycling" them is an effective means of waste control then I've got a bridge in Brooklyn that you might be interested in... The amount of usable material reclaimed almost makes it not worth doing.

              As a case in point, in my little spot down under the recycling method for lithium ion batteries involved a shredder and a furnace. May have changed by now, but that was true up until at least 3 or so years ago.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

      "My father offered to buy it, but was refused as there were "procedures"."

      One of the procedures is to make sure nobody buys something they want on the taxpayer's credit card, then pretends it's not needed any more and flogs it off to himself on the cheap. Of course this isn't the case here, but it's difficult to write a policy 'don't be a dick about things'. Hence why tax law is so complicated and still full of holes.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Coat

        I don't think it is that difficult to write that kind of policy, but there is not enough popcorn in the world when it comes to enforcing it.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

      It stood out in the rain for a year until it was a rusting heap and was eventually sold for scrap metal value. Brand new and unused.

      I know of a mid-end cutting plotter, part of the inventory of a signage company that went bust. It was rendered scrap by the company taking over the remnants as one of their geniuses needed a small fan for some decoration project; the (only) person in the original company who knew how to operate the plotter and who would dearly have loved to keep it, was still owed well over the value of said plotter

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: wasting taxpayers' cash

      My father offered to buy it, but was refused as there were "procedures".

      The trick would have been to use the procedures to raise a PO to get it taken away for disposal.

  9. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    waste

    I occasionally buy bits of technical equipment from people who deal in NHS disposals. Their business is entirely legitimate and handled through all the proper procedures (which probably themselves cost another major sum to implement).

    They regularly get hold of completely unused equipment for peanuts, bought because of the common budgetary strategy of 'if you don't spend it you won't get the money next year' and then costing more in storage and unused maintenance contracts than the hospital can afford.

    If the government wants the country to run efficiently, the first thing they need to do is get rid of the accountants.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: waste

      The best way to handle that situation is to buy consumables. You know they'll be needed anyway. The accountants, however, will have ensured that they're on different budgets so you can't do that. In theory separating budgets allows you to control expenditure. In practice it stops you coordinating it.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: waste

      Ah yes, been on the receiving end of that at times ;-)

      Many many years and several work hats ago we had a local part of the NHS as a customer. We knew that they were looking at a colour printer and that the year end was coming up. We'd recently seen a nice wax transfer job at a trade show and mentioned it to the customer - who found that they has just enough budget to be spent in the next fortnight to pay for one. This was back in the days when "colour laser" meant something like a £25k Canon CLC500 plus another £10k of image processor - so something like £4k for a wax transfer job was cheap 8-O

      Phoned the manufacturer's agent to order the printer and they asked when we wanted a demo for the customer. It took a while of "no, no, we've already sold it" and "but no-one buys one without seeing a demo" conversation before we won and it was ordered - and delivered and invoiced to the customer with a few days to spare.

      As far as I know, we only ever sold them one set of consumables as they'd decided it was too expensive to actually use !

      But yes, the whole "spend it or lose it" mentality is crazy. Managing to not spend a full budget should get praise, not punishment. It may be, as has happened several times in less distant jobs, that a project has been put back - and so the expenditure goes back into a later finance year.

      1. pig

        Re: waste

        I once supported a 4 person departmental HR team that had 3 colour laser printers.

        When colour laser printers cost around £20k.

        They did like to keep their budget.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: waste

        Yeah... I was on the CommsExpress website the other day and they are currently running big banner ads that read "Looking to spend leftover IT budget? Call us today for a bespoke solution from our experts".

        "Bespoke solution", hmmm, I can imagine that conversation ....

        "Expert": So, how much budget you got left guv ?

        Customer: £20,191 and 50 pence

        "Expert": I've got just the widget you might find interesting

      3. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: waste

        1.) Years ago in my first promoted job, responsible for my team's (non-staff) budget for the year I made a skilfully designed professional budget, shaped and scheduled to allow for the difference in educational and financial years, ensuring that there was funding to get us through to the end of the financial year. A real tour de force if I say so myself.

        In February we were told that another team had overspent massively - so all spending had been stopped, and my budget was being removed, because I hadn't spent it yet.

        I don't think I ever lost that sense of injustice.

        2.) In that job I found most of the cupboards full of (mostly) envelopes, enough to last for years and years. (Except that they'd gone curly and the gum had dried out).

        And yes, you'll have guessed it, in the context of this and the previous postings. Managers before me had seen the end of year approaching and spent everything as quickly as they could on anything that might be useful. Mostly envelopes because they last ( but not, apparently forever).

        1. Dabooka Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: waste

          I think we may work with each other and not know it....

        2. ricardian

          Re: waste

          My cousin was promoted within the UK Inland Revenue department. In his new office was a locked steel 6 foot cabinet with no key available. Locksmiths opened the cabinet and it was found to be crammed full of envelopes and those gummed re-use labels all marked "On His Majesty's Service". As this was in the 1970s my cousin decided it probably wasn't worth hanging on to them "just in case"...

          My cousin also discovered that those gummed re-use labels actually cost more than 2 or 3 envelopes

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: waste

        it was ordered - and delivered and invoiced to the customer with a few days to spare.

        Back in the day, I remember ordering a VAX (not cheap). In order to be paid out of that year's budget it had to be delivered before the end of the fiscal year. A day before the deadline a big palleted crate arrived, and IT were instucted not to open it until DEC were present to supervise. All the paperwork was signed-off.

        About a month later a second crate arrived, and the first one was removed. Remarkably easily, since it was an empty box borrowed from another customer's delivery...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: waste

          Used to ship "magic crates" quite often if funding etc was time dependant.

          Then turn up with another equally size crate of "install & maintenance components" come commissioning

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: waste

          Oh yes,

          We had invoices for IT equipment which we signed as delivered so that they could be paid for out of current financial year, Two or three weeks before the bloody stuff was really delivered after the start of the new year.

          AC because even though this was years ago it was still technically fraudulent conspiracy.

      5. js.lanshark

        Re: waste

        Ah yes, year end spendout. I once spent a day with the organization finance guy waiting outside the budget committee door. They would pop out and ask the assembled masses if anyone had a, say, 10K purchase request. Those that had all the paperwork done got the money. We did out homework that year and got many goodies. Goodies we actually used mind you, but otherwise unobtainable under the normal budget process.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: waste

          Yes, I've come across this happening. Almost as blatantly, with a project being authorised because someone had a plan to hand.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: waste

      I've managed pc roll-outs over a couple of decades and the initial work to produce a reliable build which works with all the current apps is arduous and time consuming. Making the tweaks to support the 'business critical' legacy apps used to be a nightmare. This was especially true of kit which would be used to support legacy power transmission equipment which needed to be configured using an rs232 port using very, very old proprietary protocols and software. Having produced a reliable build for the standard device we would then find that processors video cards etc were then upgraded in the next batch we bought even when they had the same SKU and something would break. In order to get around this we ended up purchasing all the required devices for a project in one tranche with a number of spares to support the expected life of the deployment. Inevitably this does mean that once the devices are obsoleted there may be a number of devices which were never used but are now not worth deploying for other purposes and they get disposed of with the rest of the kit. It does seem wasteful but the ability to just swap out a laptop or PC and guarantee that a field engineer will be straight back to work justifies the expense.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge
    4. KittenHuffer

      Re: waste - In the NHS .... never!

      Nearly 3 decades ago I joined an NHS Trust in the 'middle' of a project, which involved rolling out about 200 486 PCs over about 600 square miles.

      When I joined the PCs had all already been purchased because they had to be bought in the previous financial year, and were stacked 6 deep up and down the department. And about a year after I got there I was tasked with unboxing them and prepping them to be installed.

      So I got to unpack 200 PCs that could have then been bought for half the price, and which were already out of warranty, and which had the usual 5%(ish) DOA rate!

      Surprisingly that was probably one of the best managed aspects of the entire project!

    5. Grant Fromage

      Re: waste

      If accountants dislike waste so much then surely they should dispense with the redundant a, c, o, a, n and t? Oh and preface it wit useless to more accurately describe their capabilities.

      Wrote the redundant bit once in a memo after payments were stopped and that lost a negotiated discount with a major supplier as a gentleman`s agreement. by bringing it under scrutiny at the other end.

      " I`m sorry i don`t understand this" was the response to both the memo and the concept. And yes we all did think it initially hilarious.

      That tosser cost the company more than even his salary per year and they started looking at staffing but matey trousers is secure because accountancy is of course "REALLY skilled with hard maths" I see no solid space differentials with hamiltonian operators or Fourier, or newton raphson approximations, so i say nah! basic arithmetic.

      Deja vu, new company 5 years in on..... one of the owning companies buys the others out.

      I can`t order spares for broadcast Vt`s, because the new accountants have made a name for themselves as above by stopping our Sony account, a part owner was a a US broadcaster who got a serious discount I cannot disclose, which stopped when they looked.

      You need a promotion to a high place, oh look there is this rope swinging, do you think you could get your head in that?

      Conversely I have met a very limited few who get reality and are part of the solution to making money as a something done by many together.

      PS many places have emergecy DEL ( raw exchange ) phones which are supported by a 48-50V battery when it all goes down and you are on genny. If you are a satellite earthstation with TX you need at least one for stuff going on to be controlled and normally the IP PBX picks the number out, and fails to a direct connection to that line.

      Having to call someone`s mobile because you know they were dealing with you is a very poor second.

      Not much traffic on these, i`ll cancel them and save money.

      1. Grant Fromage

        Re: waste

        Don`t rush the last few minutes. There was a legacy phone set up with the exchange and telco and the internal which just meant safe fallover queueing in the event of a failure, but the emergency direct lines were not on this and were there so you could get direct while on satellite. on an emergency

        That they had been disconnected due to no traffic caused one.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: waste

          My company bought quite a few fire extinguishers when we moved into the building. Not a single one has ever been used in 25 years. What a waste ...

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: waste

            fire extinguishers when we moved into the building. Not a single one has ever been used in 25 years

            ObPedant - fire extinguishers have an expiry date a lot shorter than 25 years.

            Why yes, I do clear rooms at parties. I'm available for hire..

    6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: waste

      the first thing they need to do is get rid of the accountants

      It's even more simple than that (albeit less satisfying) - just get rid of the rule that says that budget underspend results in a smaller budget next year.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: waste

        It's not a rule. It's a cost cutting manager with very little common sense. If you have an underspend they just assume you don't need the budget. That your year ( in purchasing terms) doesn't match the financial year, or that your budget needs to be averaged over two or three years seems to go over their heads. Obvious example is when you have a piece of equipment that needs an expensive ( relative) upgrade or replacement every two or three years.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The sad truth

    If they had wanted you to have kit, G4 would be called "Issues" and not "Stores"

  11. Dabooka Silver badge

    Pointless tale of destruction

    To not be told of the findings, to complain of the cost and deliberately smash it up, all seems a bit of a wasted tale to be honest. Not even any mention of a fallout or cover up.

    2/10

    1. Evil_Goblin

      Re: Pointless tale of destruction

      Seemed like the person telling the story suddenly remembered he wasn't allowed to say what was in the box...

      I've had a few like that, you get halfway through an anecdote, suddenly remember that due to NDAs, Official Secrets, whatever, you can't say the punchline, so you "think fast" and mumble something vaguely relevant instead.

      There's then that awkward pause, then everyone looks at you funny once they realise that really was the end of the anecdote, usually followed by the rustle of shoes on carpet as your now former audience goes to talk to someone else...

      1. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Pointless tale of destruction

        It's one thing talking at a function and quickly killing it dead, submitting an entire Who, me? is a little different!

  12. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Boffin

    "in the hangar in the tank park"

    It was a bit disappointing to read that no tanks were involved in the "survivability testing". Surely "being driven over by a tank" is an everyday hazard of army kit.

    1. james 68

      Re: "in the hangar in the tank park"

      It is, but it leaves too many tell tales for a faffing session. It's a good way to get replacement kit after a training exercise. Like when your SA80 receiver is buggered and fouls regularly, the powers that be won't replace it, but they will replace it if it gets "accidentally" run over by a tank. You get a grand bollicking though.

  13. Steve Kerr

    Miltary testing

    I heard that military testing of equipment was based on "can it survive being used by a soldier to hammer in a tent peg?"

    When you're cold, wet and just want to get into your tent, anything becomes a hammer

    1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Miltary testing

      When vehicle-mounted whip antenna collides with overhanging tree limbs, overpasses, and whatnot failure is definitely possibility.

      I saw an fun test method: a 6x6 oak beam extends between two buildings at a known height. A whip antenna mounted on a HMMWV going at a max speed is crashed into it. One hell of a "whaaaap!" sound is heard! Repeat to failure, record number of cycles, document failure mechanism...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Miltary testing

        And then somebody specifies the test must be used for something more solid than the attachment of the oak beam to the buildings...

    2. Cursorkeys

      Re: Miltary testing

      We used to make gear for the police. By the end of development practically everything external was described by the relevant supplier as: 'vandal proof'. Never seen such destruction of kit before!

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Miltary testing

        I used to think that the military back-pack VHF radio set my old company made was grossly over-engineered. Until I saw it being used as a base-block for the jack when changing the wheel on an armoured vehicle.

        One of the batch tests it underwent was to drill a hole in the case, fit a valve and pump it up to 120psi. Then drop it in a tank of water - if any bubbles came out of it, it failed.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Miltary testing

          Another RACAL person?

          We had a team set up to do pressure testing in that fashion & to touch up the indestructible powder coat with domestic grade paint.

          PH because wet & pressure.

    3. MGJ

      Re: Miltary testing

      The real reason the IDF stopped using the M16; they didnt work after being used as a bottle opener. The replacement (locally built one) had one built in to the stock.

      1. G.Y.

        Re: Miltary testing

        The galil's bottle opener is in the bipod

        1. G.Y.

          galil Re: Miltary testing

          and the bottles used to be opened with ammunition clips (magazines), not with the M16 rifle itself

      2. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

        Re: Miltary testing

        Not true although it does make a nice story. The M16 replaced the Galil as the IDF were getting them with a significant discount, while the Galil's were being charged at cost.

        No idea whether the Tavor has a bottle opener attachment.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Miltary testing

          No idea whether the Tavor has a bottle opener attachment.

          A Swedish friend told me that when he was doing his military service he was issued with a bottle-opener as part of his official kit. Earlier trainees had discovered that the latch/hook on the standard rifle ammunition clip was perfect for opening bottles, but after it had been used for that a few times it got bent enough to cause the weapon to jam. I couldn't tell you the type of rifle, though.

  14. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    I've destroyed millions!

    And gotten paid to do so! But it was my duty to do so, of course, all for the sake of making products that are Marine-proof.

    Highly Accelerated Life Test / Highly Accelerated Stress Screening... when used properly and in an engineering paradigm that embraces failure is an extremely powerful tool for making products robust. The idea is to drive failures as fast as possible, learn, fix, repeat. Its like fuzz testing, but in the physical domain.

    But I will admit its fun to take a one of a kind artifact and simultaneously give it 100g's of vibe on six axes, abuse its power supply input, and repetitively ramp it from -100DegC to 100DegC as fast as liquid nitrogen and cartridge heaters can take it. Parts fly off, smoke erupts, "unbreakable" boxes get a weird rattle to them software locks up. Good times!

    Your reward us that you get to see products go from crap to bulletproof very quickly.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: I've destroyed millions!

      That might make a good story in its own right, but perhaps not quite one for this column.

      Not a job I could (temperamentally) ever do: I'd be there protecting the kit from any possible harm ...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: I've destroyed millions!

        I'd be there protecting the kit from any possible harm

        We used to have a guy working here that was pretty good except for one major flaw - if something was breakable (in either hardware or software) he *would* break it. He never did it deliberately and his usage pattern was similar to mine but his stuff would always break and mine never would..

    2. red floyd

      Re: I've destroyed millions!

      I once worked on a project where everything went wrong... faulty hardware, bogus software specs, etc.. You name it.

      I was privileged to watch a sample unit undergoing explosive atmosphere testing. I could have sold video of that for a lot of money.

  15. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

    How many times can you stall an engine?

    Specifically, by slamming the brakes to the point of lock-up on a really slick surface? (Snow, ice, specially engineered ceramics while wet...)

    Vehicle in question: see my nickname!

    Goal: to characterize when/why this happens, then design some easy algorithms to prevent it.

    Result: multiple days of joyriding! (I don't get to drive it; I just log the data and watch the virtual dashboard) Especially fun when we did half-on/half-off and the vehicle lurches sideways. Feels like you're doing a doughnut but it's only 30-45 degrees.

    One day to characterize; two days to test options; three months to analyze data, make slideshows, and create the final software build; one more day to re-test both "before" and "after" scenarios -- with a customer rep, no less -- to prove it works (followed by two MORE months of data analysis and slideshows).

    And nothing truly broken -- just some parts that might be a little worse for wear (engine, transmission, 8 tires that took all those skids...)

  16. Dippywood

    VHS Tape Case as a Measurement Unit?

    Nowhere near obscure enough - the VCR tape case of choice would have to be the Philips V2000 for maximum incomprehensibility. A technically superior unit of measure therefore destined to fail...

    1. ADRM

      Re: VHS Tape Case as a Measurement Unit?

      How about the original Philips VCR cassettes used in the N1500 and later N1700 VCR machines? The actual sizes of V2000 tapes and VHS tapes were very similar. Search Techmoan V2000 for a look at V2000 which came 3rd in a two horse race.

    2. James Anderson

      Re: VHS Tape Case as a Measurement Unit?

      Really good unit of measurement. Especially as millenials will have no idea what you are referring to.

      I had to suffer rods, perches and bushels so they deserve VHS tapes, starting handles and blackboard dusters.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: VHS Tape Case as a Measurement Unit?

        starting handles

        One of our cars still has one of those.

        Mind you, it's at the back of the garage somewhere so, if we actually needed to use it, it would be quicker and easier to buy another one but it still possesses the potential..

        (And when we actually needed to use it for a couple of days until we could get the electrics repaired I developed the technique of using it without breaking my wrists of destroying my lower leg - basically using the same technique as a motorbike kickstart[1]. That was more than 22 years ago though..)

        [1] Another thing the yoof of today[2] don't have experience of unless they are into old bikes or specialist bikes..

        [2] Anyone under about 35.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got a filing cabinet with several 100k of equipment sat doing nothing since at least 2000 based on when they were wrapped up

    Can't use them as they're for "obsolete kit only" (Actually fully compatible with newer versions)

    Can't dispose of them because valuable.

    Can't take them because they're company property

    I note that from a part that's left in a suspiciously empty hard case that someone has probably run into the same problem as me and has decided to fund their retirement / hobby

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The benefits of privatisation

    When I was a civil servant we worked hard to work as efficiently as possible to save taxpayers' money. The we were privatised. By the time I was six months in working as a private sector employee for a US corp delivering service to a Large Government Department I had participated in a project that pissed £800k up the wall on wasted effort but we all got a bonus because corporate success was not related to what we delivered to out customers. The more public money we wasted, the more profit margin we garnered.

    1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

      Re: The benefits of privatisation

      Hahhahahahhaha. Worked hard to be efficient?!?! You must be the only civil servant ever to do so. I never ever met one in my 12 years of government work over multiple countries.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At a former company

    The company in its infinite wisdom, decided to discontinue production of a recently announced enterprise networking product.

    An entire floor of ASIC designers and their managers were immediately laid off.

    Nobody to clean up. IT came though and removed all the laptops and monitors, except for some that were cable-locked to the desks.

    I went down a few weeks later to scavenge, and noticed that Receiving had just delivered several extremely expensive HP workstations for the recently departed ASIC designers. They were just sitting there on that empty floor on their pallets, and would have continued to sit there for I don't know how long. I had a quiet word with an acquaintance who happened to be the director of my organization, and suggested that HP just might be able to give us our money (or some portion of it) back if we returned those workstations in a timely manner. He thanked me, and they were returned.

    Do you know that it only takes a couple of strokes with a hacksaw to remove a Kensington cable lock?

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Kensington cable lock?

      Like most locks, they are a deterrent to the casual thief, not the prepared/dedicated one.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: At a former company

      Do you know that it only takes a couple of strokes with a hacksaw to remove a Kensington cable lock?

      In one of the past department moves I ended up with a desk that someone else's laptop was still chained to. Lacking a hacksaw, and not having my cordless angle grinder with me I took to the cable with my Leatherman. About two minutes later my desk was utterly devoid of any Kensingtoned laptops except my own, and the offending one was put in a cupboard with the ominous frayed cable end still attached.

      Two weeks later the laptop's owner came to collect it, and was seriously dismayed to find it not locked down, instead just put aside like that. It was my day off, and my colleagues feinted ignorance of the unKensingtoning; "We found it like that and put it in the cupboard."

      The laptop was the company's security officer (whose previous laptop was nicked by some thieving scrotes who had just heaved a pavement tile through a ground floor window and had made off with half a dozen lappies that hadn't been locked down).

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: At a former company

        heaved a pavement tile through a ground floor window and had made off with half a dozen lappies that hadn't been locked down

        One place I worked we got ram-raided - the thieves got away with about 50 computers. The joke on them was that they were all PS/2 50z machines (286 running at 12Mhz?) that were in that room as a waystation to going for disposal..

        This was in the late 90's and they had all been swapped out for spiffy 386 and 486 machines. None of which got stolen.

  20. steviebuk Silver badge

    What was the point?

    Military equipment and medical equipment is expensive due to the extensive tests they all have to go through. The whole story ended up being pointless as they never said what was in it. Even if it was a generic mobile, the cost is due to the extensive testing they've had to shell out for. So it covers the R&D and testing.

  21. alan55

    I'm calling BullSh!t

    this sounds like kit that was actually taken out of service in 2007, in fact, the stuff in 2007 was better than whatever Joe and his bullshitting mates were pissing around with.

    Sounds like El Reg were taken for a ride with this one.

  22. Crisp Silver badge

    Does anyone know the Betamax - VHS conversion ratio?

    I'm asking for a friend

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Does anyone know the Betamax - VHS conversion ratio?

      Go to the landfill, find the electronics recycling box, drop off your <Betamax,VHS> and take one of the appropriate type.

      So it's a 1.0 conversion factor.

  23. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Sledge Hammer Test

    Not conducted under actual use conditions. These units were designed to be worn in the field. So to determine survivability, one of them should have strapped one on while his buddy takes a swing with the hammer.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Sledge Hammer Test

      while his buddy takes a swing with the hammer

      ObOldJoke: "I'll nod my head and you hit it wiv an 'ammer"

  24. Robert 22

    How to fubar a mil-spec printer

    About 40 years ago, we had this mil-spec printer that was being used in a failing project (that's another story). For some reason, it had to be shipped to another location. An army fellow arrived and put it in his truck. Concerned that it might bounce around, he put a sandbag on it (evidently not realizing that this would raise the center of gravity and make it more likely to fall over, though as things turned out, that would have been a blessing). The sandbag just happened to be torn and leaking sand. The printer was sealed EXCEPT for the slot on the top that paper came out of - you can guess what happened.

  25. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Windows

    Typical Electronics Apprentice Job

    At least for me; was to take a random 10 units from any run of 110 potted, proximity sensors and chuck them off the roof of a two story building onto the tarmac carpark below.

    If any failed, the whole batch would be scrapped.

    Not as much fun as pretending dead 8ft fluorescent tubes were javelins, on the waste ground next door to the factory.

    That was a LONG time ago - icon = me nowadays.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typical Electronics Apprentice Job

      Years ago as a student I had a very good holiday job in what was then called O&M Research, in the course of which I was involved in QA of vacuum flasks - it turned out that the vacuum pump/sealing unit was sometimes out of sync so the flasks were being sealed before all the air was out.

      Once the offending batches were isolated they were placed in a warehouse and I, and another student, were invited to put them beyond use. Very large skip and a morning spent investigating new creative ways of ensuring the flasks were smashed by the time they were in the skip.

      The boss, who was an extremely nice man, asked what we were doing and we replied that we were trying to find the most productive method of flask disposal. He remarked that the foreman of another department had complained about us messing about, "but I'm going to enjoy telling him your explanation because nobody in his department ever tries to find better ways of doing things."

  26. smilerbaker

    waste

    I worked for a telco that decided to get into the TV market, they bought tens of thousands of digital set top box's and started rolling them out, a few months into it they found that the box's couldn't be upgraded over the air and where hopelessly out of date, no problem, buy a whole new system. Old box's no longer worked, the few customers we had got pissed off and cancelled and we MADE them send the old box's back to us otherwise we'd charge them.

    So we paid the postage to get the old box's back, where they sat in a warehouse (which we also had to pay for) where they staid until at least the day I left (many years later), the return postage cost more then the box was worth, someone high up seemed to think they would be also to sell them all. Last I heard (before it was all swept under the carpet) was they where going to hire someone to remove and wipe all the hard discs and sell them on.

  27. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Engineering oversight

    I was once stationed in a military compound. The buildings all had corrugated iron roofs that were supported by pretty large close-spaced beams. I eventually found out that the buildings were designed to be built with sandbags covering the roof to protect against mortar attack etc. The architect had done all the calculations to ensure that the roof beams were strong enough to support all the heavy sandbags. However what he had failed to take into account was that it would not be strong enough to support *wet* sandbags. So the buildings went up as designed, but it was decided not to fit the sandbags.

  28. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Interesting that the tales of money wastage "by government" in these comments all boil down to gouging by the private sector when doing business with the government.

    Same Ole Say "Mole".

  29. Ribfeast

    Sounds like where I work, gov-owned utility. Thousands of dollars of kit being e-wasted in perfectly good functional order (servers, switches, routers etc).

    Can't be onsold, must be destroyed. The waste just kills me.

  30. LucasNorth

    This is pathetic behaviour and yes it it is easy to mock the MOD's procurement, it is often terrible but this stuff has unique requirements from civilian kit i.e. security which often results in the kit costing an arm and a leg

  31. ricardian

    A friend of mine worked in a large government department and had designed a piece of electronic security equipment that was to be used by the Army, Navy & Air Force. It survived all the usual extremely tough field tests with flying colours but he had great difficulty with the final part of the design - how to quickly destroy it in case of an emergency

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

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