* Posts by Buzzword

882 posts • joined 30 Jun 2010

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Ubuntu 'weaponised' to cure NHS of its addiction to Microsoft Windows

Buzzword
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The city of Munich tried this

But found it cost too much. They recently announched a move back to Windows.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/13/munich_may_dump_linux_for_windows/

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Ad 'urgently' seeks company to build national e-ID system

Buzzword
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Children's fingerprints

Many schools use fingerprints as ID for paying for school lunch. This means kids avoid carrying cash or payment cards which could easily be lost or stolen by other kids; and it means those in receipt of free school meals don't stand out.

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H-1B visa applications from India plummet (and Trump can't claim credit)

Buzzword
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Re: Thanks, Trump

> those 70,000 workers who would have been in your country...

There are still far more applicants for H-1B visas than actual visas issued. Last year there were 230,000 applications, but only 85,000 places. (The total number of visas granted ends up around twice that, because of various loopholes; but there's still no shortage of demand.)

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Would you let DJ E-to-the-Musk set the playlist for your roadtrip?

Buzzword
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To paraphrase Peter Thiel:

"We wanted hyperloop trains, instead we got music matching algorithms."

Or as we all know, software is cheaper than hardware.

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The biggest British Airways IT meltdown WTF: 200 systems in the critical path?

Buzzword
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Re: Workers defending their territory; managers afraid to challenge them.

> Ouch! This is how the Civil Service ...

Yes, fair point. But with developers, you only get rotated around 3-4 systems, so you eventually come back to code you previously worked on. The Civil Service path is one-way, so you never have a chance to apply lessons learned elsewhere to your previous mistakes.

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Buzzword
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Re: Workers defending their territory; managers afraid to challenge them.

And why do you think it will be any different if every single one of them is perceived as cost to be shoveled off to TaTa?

I didn't say anything about outsourcing. Outsourcing doesn't solve the problem at all: it merely shifts the problem to another company, and conceals the complexity from the end client.

Rather, it's an internal problem of employees being allowed to take "possession" over their little piece of the system (or in BA's case, their 1 system out of the 200). It then becomes hard to move or replace that person, and they become very resistant to change. I've seen this happening in a lot of places, especially large government or quasi-government organisations. The way to avoid it is for management to rotate employees around different systems so that everyone knows a bit about how three or four systems work, rather than just knowing a single system in-depth. This also helps you recover if/when the critical employee leaves.

I don't have any specific knowledge of the BA situation; but 200 critical systems in an organisation with strong unions (making it hard to fire intransigent workers) suggests something like this may have happened.

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Buzzword
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Workers defending their territory; managers afraid to challenge them.

This sounds like a situation where each worker aggressively defends his or her patch. "No, you can't possibly merge my legacy paper reporting system with Bob's new email reporting system, because [insert ridiculous reason here]." Given the chance, most of us will defend the systems we maintain (and by extension our jobs): it's human nature. A manager's job is to challenge the ridiculous reasons given.

BA's management are squarely to blame here.

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Silicon Graphics' IRIX and Magic Desktop return as Linux desktop

Buzzword
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"and maybe do serious work"

You mean maybe spend the best part of two weekends fiddling about, getting everything to compile, getting your existing apps to work with it, hours spent searching obscure foreign-language forums (mangled through Google Translate) for an answer to why X won't work with Y, all for a 2% subjective improvement in the GUI? No thanks.

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'My PC needs to lose weight' says user with FAT filesystem

Buzzword
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SQL => Sequel

The first phase of the project went well; but for the next phase we need a sequel server.

I should have called the MS Access version the "prequel".

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NHS U-turns on blanket IR35 tax crackdown

Buzzword
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Re: husband-and-wife payments

That kind of income-splitting is explicitly forbidden under S660a; this is separate from IR35.

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Attempt at building kinder, gentler Reddit downvoted off the Web

Buzzword
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You don't go to McDonalds for salad

And you don't go to an internet forum for polite conversation. If I wanted to exchange pleasantries, I'd talk to my neighbours.

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IT firms guilty of blasting customers with soul-numbing canned music

Buzzword
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Suggestions for tech firms' hold music

IBM - "Getting Smaller" by Nine Inch Nails

Amazon - "Return To Sender" by Elvis Presley

Tesla - "Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant

Fisker Inc. / Fisker Automotive - "Together in Electric Dreams" by Phil Oakey

I'll let others take over from here.

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Code-thief pleads guilty to pinching file system to sell to China

Buzzword
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National Health and Family Planning Commission

What an Orwellian name!

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No laptop ban on Euro flights to US... yet

Buzzword
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Weight limit

How about a simple weight limit?

If you're using a skinny iPad, you're safe. But if you're packing a 2003-era desktop replacement "portable", it goes into the hold. The exact figure for the weight limit should be determined based on how much weight of explosive would be required to cause real damage.

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UK hospital meltdown after ransomware worm uses NSA vuln to raid IT

Buzzword
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Re: IT support is outsourced.

Pity it's after pub o'clock in India.

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US Coast Guard: We're rather chuffed with our new Boeing spy drone

Buzzword
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£10m a year for a drone?

"ScanEagle was originally adopted by the British as a £30 million, three-year deal"

Ok, so it's not exactly a Parrot; but that does seem pricey. Is there no chance of using for consumer / prosumer gear in the MOD?

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VMware-Dell integration kicks off with on-prem VDI-and-PC-as-a-service

Buzzword
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Thin Client Add-On

I can understand adding on a Wyse thin client; but why is there an option to add on a full Dell OptiPlex i3 or i5 desktop PC? That basically eliminates all the benefits of VDI.

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Booze stats confirm boring Britain is drying

Buzzword
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Non-drug distractions

Games, porn, Facebook (but I repeat myself). Now that kids have so many other demands on their time, there just aren't enough hours in the day to sit in the park nursing a two-litre plastic bottle of White Lightning.

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Gig economy tech giants are 'free riding' on the welfare state, say MPs

Buzzword
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Re: "it is up to government to close the loopholes"

Companies which don't exploit loopholes get out-competed by those which do.

The broader point is that you can waste your breath shouting at people to change their behaviour; or you can legislate for it. Legislation is far more effective.

For example, consider car seat belt usage. Across the United States, 89% of drivers use their seat belt. But in New Hampshire the figure is just 70%. Why? Because the state doesn't have laws on seat belts for adults. You can huff and puff all you like at the remaining 30%; but you'll get a much quicker result by simply legislating for seat belt use.

Worse still, by wasting your breath shouting at Uber, you're letting thousands of smaller, lesser-known companies get away with exploiting loopholes. If you campaign to get the law changed, you fix the problem for both big well-known companies and thousands of smaller ones too.

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Buzzword
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"it is up to government to close the loopholes"

At last a report which doesn't blame the companies themselves, but places the blame squarely at the foot of the government for not closing the loopholes in the first place.

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Just how screwed is IT at the Home Office?

Buzzword
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IR35

> although a proportion have gone back on new deals that put them outside the regulation

I'd be interested to know how they managed that. If loopholes exist for these contractors, presumably they also exist for thousands of others, including outside IT. (The new IR35 rules have also hit locums in the NHS - I'm sure they'd be interested to hear of ways around.)

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Flatpak and Snaps aren't destined for graveyard of failed Linux tech yet

Buzzword
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Obligatory XKCD reference

Situation: There are 14 competing packaging systems.

14?! Ridiculous! We need to develop one universal packaging system that covers everyone's use cases. Yeah!

Situation: There are 15 competing packaging systems.

https://xkcd.com/927/

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Uber cloaked its spying and all it got from Apple was a slap on the wrist

Buzzword
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Symbiotic relationship

Uber needs Apple users, obviously; but Apple also needs Uber. If you're a regular Uber user and you suddenly find out you can no longer use the app because of some legal squabble, you'll rush out and buy the first Android phone you see.

Once a user has converted to Android, they're unlikely to spend $969 on a new iPhone in two years' time. That's a big loss for Apple.

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Stanford Uni's intro to CompSci course adopts JavaScript, bins Java

Buzzword
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No, COBOL is dead

A quick search through my usual job ads website reveals exactly three jobs which want COBOL skills; two of which only require the ability to read it, not to write it. The same site turns up approx. 1,200 jobs each for Java, C#, and Javascript.

Besides, for a new starter today, the correct question is "Will my COBOL skills still be in demand when I'm 60?"; to which the answer is emphatically no.

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Not auf wiedersehen – yet! The Berlin scene tempting Brexit tech

Buzzword
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People start and finish work a little later than in London

When I moved to London, the first thing I noticed was that people seem to start & finish about an hour later than elsewhere in the country. I put this down to commuting time.

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Not the droids you're looking for – worst handsets to resell

Buzzword
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Re: Give it to your kids when you upgrade

Alternatively, there's the "Give it to your parents when you upgrade" model!

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Buzzword
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Re: Why Does This Matter?

> Who sells their phone after only one month?

I bought an iPhone SE which was less than a month old. The seller had bought it, but then decided he really wanted the larger 6S instead. I paid about 30% below the price new.

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Google's cloudy image recognition is easily blinded, say boffins

Buzzword
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Re: Autonomous cars

It's no coincidence that all the companies working on self-driving cars are in dry & sunny California...

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Confidence in £70m customs system has 'collapsed', warns Treasury Committee

Buzzword
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Re: Anything new?

Well it's the 12th of April today, no response from Tony Meggs, chief exec of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. That doesn't bode well.

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Buzzword
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Re: Anything new?

Per the article, the only thing that's new is that the Treasury Select Committee finally got round to making a statement about it. They've asked for a reply by the 12th of April, so with any luck we'll hear more then.

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Lenovo's 2017 X1 Carbon is a mixed bag

Buzzword
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8GB?

Doesn't that feel a bit cheap these days? Granted a road warrior laptop is only supposed to be used for light MS Office use; but anyone who does a bit more might feel short-changed.

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IT contractors behind IR35 calculator to leave HMRC... because of IR35

Buzzword
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Travel expenses

It's not just about National Insurance - the new rules also mean that contractors can no longer claim travel expenses. There'll be no more stories about people commuting e.g. York to London (annual season ticket price: £14,000). I've worked in London alongside contractors from all over the country who commute either daily or weekly. If they can't claim travel expenses, they'll look for alternative work closer to home.

Given that most government departments are in central London, this will undoubtedly hit government recruitment hardest.

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How to leak data from an air-gapped PC – using, er, a humble scanner

Buzzword
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re: slip a 4g dongle

One of the first steps in network security is to disable all USB ports. D+; must try harder.

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Miss Misery on hacking Mr Robot and the Missing Sense of Fun

Buzzword
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Re: I'd heard of this

Great, now you've just spoiled Westworld for me!

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Firefox Quantum: BIG browser project, huh? I share your concern

Buzzword
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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

You can disable it in the settings of all the major browsers.

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Gov may need to splash £245m per year on IT contractors – NAO

Buzzword
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Re: Why not put the NAO in charge of everything from the beginning?

Because it's easy to point out mistakes in retrospect; much harder to prevent them from being made in the first place.

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Blinking cursor devours CPU cycles in Visual Studio Code editor

Buzzword
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I think I see the problem

> VSC is based on Electron, a cross-platform framework for writing desktop apps using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

There's your problem right there. Who in their right mind tries to write desktop applications using web stuff?

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UK.gov gears up for IR35 private sector crackdown – say industry folk

Buzzword
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Re: Europe is looking better..

In my office we have contractors from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, and Portugal. Even if the British contractors don't emigrate, the foreigners have fewer ties to this country and are far more likely to try their luck elsewhere. They're already moaning enough about the exchange rate.

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National Insurance tax U-turn: Philip Hammond nixes NIC uptick

Buzzword
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There is another way to harmonise NI rates for employed / self-employed

They could LOWER the employees' NI rate to be the same as the self-employed rate. That's what one might normally expect from a Conservative government. But no, no matter who is in power, the trajectory of taxes is ever-upward.

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Thousands of NHS staff details nicked amid IT contractor server hack

Buzzword
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NI number? Why?

Why the blazing heck does a dosimetry company need to know people's NI numbers?

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UK Home Office warns tech staff not to tweet negative Donald Trump posts

Buzzword
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> it applies to all staff including contractors and temporary staff

Don't worry: according to other articles, the contractors will all be gone by 6th April.

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Police Scotland and Accenture were at odds over ill-fated IT project i6

Buzzword
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It's how the public sector works. You want to do ABCDEF, but there's no way you can get the budget for it. So you do ABC, and hope to tack on DEF as change requests later. A couple of years later, once the project has actually started, you are shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that you also need DEF. The budget simply must be produced.

In the old days when government was flush with cash, that usually worked out ok. These days it doesn't.

If Police Scotland had been honest up-front about their IT requirements, the entire project would never have been signed off, and they'd be doing things on paper. That may be no bad thing.

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Self-employed bear the brunt of Spring Budget with additional National Insurance contributions

Buzzword
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Re: Here's a thought

wolfetone,

Loopholes and dodgy tax schemes are being closed all the time. There were footballers with EBTs, there was the Jimmy Carr dodge, there was the Ingenious Film investment trick. All those were closed down. Even PSC avoidance is being closed off: first with public-sector contractors prevented from avoiding IR35 (you can be certain they'll get private-sector contractors next); and the new dividend tax clobbers the rest.

Expenses are expenses: they aren't earnings. If I drive a taxi all day and claim £300 a month in petrol as expenses, that's what I've paid in petrol. It's gone, vanished; I can't spend it again on booze & hookers.

On your example calculations you've ignored National Insurance (an income tax in all but name). With an income of £100,000, you'll hand over £34,533 to the exchequer; whereas on £30,000 you'll hand over just £6,433. There's an excellent calculator at https://listentotaxman.com/

AC,

"The top 1% income is over £250k; they take home 70% of that"

Nope: they take home 57% of that. See above for calculator link. Again, you can argue that they should be taxed more; but please ensure you know what the current level is before diving into that notion.

Overall I reject the notion that we are surrounded by overpaid wastrels with too much money (except in the Premier League). Tax has a real impact on how much work people are prepared to do. If I'm an NHS surgeon earning £99,999, I'm not going to bother doing any overtime because I know every extra hour will be taxed at 62%, and at that rate I'd rather spend the time at home with the family.

John Brown,

Yes, I've selectively quoted the figures. Everyone does. I agree that the poor pay VAT, fuel duty, sin taxes, and of course the biggest of them all, the horribly regressive Council Tax. But at least they're paying a good chunk less income tax than they used to. That's progress.

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Buzzword
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Re: Here's a thought

Big earners don't get tax breaks - quite the opposite! There's the 60% tax bracket for anyone earning £100,000-120,000; there's the 45% tax bracket for anyone earning over £150,000; there's the 12% stamp duty band for houses worth more than £1.5m; from next month there's even a tax on new cars which cost more than £40,000.

In income tax alone, the top 1% account for more than a quarter of the total receipts; at the other end of the scale, 43.8% of working-age adults didn't pay a single penny in income tax last year because the starting threshold has been raised to £10,600.

You're perfectly welcome to argue that high-earners should pay even more tax; but don't pretend that they aren't paying a lot already.

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Fancy that – the sharing economy lobby doesn't speak for the sharers

Buzzword
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The court said Uber drivers are Workers, not Employees

They are not the same thing. Employees have more rights than Workers: unfair dismissal rights, statutory maternity pay, statutory sick pay, etc.

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Salford and Liverpool City Councils plan IT trading venture

Buzzword
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Who is buying?

Presumably they'll only be selling technology & services to other local authorities? This seems eminently sensible.

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Two-thirds of TV Licensing prosecutions at one London court targeted women

Buzzword
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Daily Mail

> living in a £400,000 house

Yep, that's the kind of thing the Daily Mail would report.

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Dyson backs Britain plc with $2.5bn AI and robotics investment

Buzzword
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Re: The best bit...

"Still, Dyson said the U.K. lacks enough skilled workers."

Well he's certainly not going to find them if he's fishing in the tiny pool of talent that is Malmesbury. Yes, it's near Bristol and Swindon; but rush-hour traffic in those parts is horrendous, and the town doesn't even have a dual carriageway or a nearby railway station. Adding another 5,000 staff to those roads is just impossible. Even a theoretically perfect single-carriageway can only carry 1,900 cars per hour; and the A429 is far from perfect.

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Tech contractors begin mass UK.gov exodus in wake of HMRC's IR35 income tax clampdown

Buzzword
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Re: Online Tool

The README file is empty; and none of the code contains any comments. This doesn't bode well.

Scrolling through the code itself, I can see that the IR35 tests themselves are the usual grab-bag of questions:

- Do you provide your own equipment & materials?

- Are you paid a daily rate or a piece rate?

- Do you still get paid if you deliver substandard work?

- Is there an obligation to fix substandard work in your own time?

- Is there a right of substitution? Has it actually been exercised?

No doubt someone could reverse-engineer the code and turn it into a simple flowchart.

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FCC lops off red tape around small US ISPs, y'know, things like having to own up about connection speeds

Buzzword
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Re: Tis a wee-ISP

KCom (the main telecoms provider in Hull) has fewer than 200,000 customers, yet all their fees are clearly listed on their website. Ok, not that clearly - you have to dig out a PDF from the support pages - but still, they're all there. How hard can it be to put up a three-page document listing your fees?

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