* Posts by Alan 19

27 posts • joined 16 May 2012

Barclays.net Bank Holiday outage leaves firms unable to process payments

Alan 19
FAIL

Housing transactions crashed too

What about the knock-on effect on consumers? Barclays kept schtumm about that. Problems with Barclays started the Friday before the bank holiday and caused nightmare problems for friends who were moving house that day. Their house had just been emptied and was ready to move in to, so several truckloads of furniture duly rolled up at midday. Trouble was, the vendor’s payment had not arrived, so they weren’t given the keys nor allowed to unload.

Finally turns out (at 4 o’clock - still no money had arrived) that the problem as with Barclays Bank not being able to transfer the cash. Everyone in the chain had to get a solicitor’s undertaking to enable their respective moves to go through. The elderly vendor was deeply distraught as, in theory, she could have been rendered homeless for the duration. Meantime my friends move out on the strength of just a bit of paper worth six figures in cash. The whole episode was shambolic. Nothing works in this country any more. Well done to Barclays though for dodging a bullet and escaping the wrath of Sky News or the Daily Mail.

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123-reg still hasn't restored customers' websites after mass deletion VPS snafu

Alan 19

Insurance

All those who say their website is critical to their business should have Cyber & Data Risks insurance then, surely.

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Australia's Dick finally drops off

Alan 19

Re: Watford Eelectronics, DSE et al

If you look on Google Street view you'll find Watford Electronics was just a small retail shop and mail order business in a residential area. 33/35 Cardiff Road WD1 8ED . I loved them too. I have their Sept 1978 catalogue for OTS (old time's sake). I'm looking at an original photo of their shop.

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Alan 19
Holmes

Not surprising really

It's only reflecting what’s happened in the UK. Tandy/ Radio Shack went out of business (Tandy UK is now an online independent, selling parts), Maplin nearly got bought by Farnell but they bought CPC instead. There is no profit in flogging penny resistors at retail. Almost every hobby electronics magazines in Australia, the UK and USA has gone out of business. In the 50’s and 60’s the main electronic hobby was wireless and TV then audio and digital TTL then CMOS. There was lots to explore and develop in the 60s through to the 90’s. Electronics was also taught in schools as a subject in its own right.

Fast forward to today, it makes no sense to build boards full of logic when a single microcontroller will do the job. So you have to get into software and coding. Worse, there is far more competition for a kid’s money: music, MP3s, downloads, mobiles, tablets, VR games. So why struggle trying to learn something difficult when so much fun is instantly accessible. It’s dads (as much as anything) trying to involve their kids with Arduino, Pi that keeps the interest in electronics alive. Now you buy an Arduino or IoT box and then have to figure out an interface to the real world, that’s where the interest in discrete electronics is today. You don’t repair anything, you chuck it out. It’s the whole story of our society – instant, effortless, painless gratification. It’s also dirt cheap compared to yesteryear. Where tomorrow’s engineers will come from, I don’t know. (China and India probably.)

Only my opinion...

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'A word processor so simple my PA could use it': Joyce turns 30

Alan 19
Thumb Up

Daisy wheel heaven

I was a PCW9512 man, it was gifted to me by my Mum late 1980s. Locoscript introduced me to file and disk management, cut and paste, spell checking (which guessed my name was Alar Windgalled), pagination, and a continuous tractor feed daisy wheel printer that shook the foundations when in full flood. You could buy a separate printer sound-deadening box with Perspex cover, or (I think) a Canon bubblejet. I could also program some neat little BASIC routines. I added a scary 3.5" drive to export ASCII files onto, which I could then send in the post to my publishers. I even got as far as drafting new product proposals on it for my industry job. There was nothing like it and I will be for ever grateful to the Amstrad PCW. I still have the empty shipping carton in my attic.

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Returning a laptop to PC World ruined this bloke's credit score. Today the Supreme Court ended his 15-year nightmare

Alan 19

In the early 2000s I wandered into PC World in Hull and bought an HP laptop. Being an ethernet dunce at the time, I asked the rep about how to connect it to my modest network (no wifi then) as it had no networking. He sold me what turned out to be a PCMCIA ethernet card, and he suggested that I could snip off the adaptor's RJ connector and solder on a BNC plug instead. Or was it the other way round. He'd also discounted the laptop price heavily by bundling an extended warranty (£200+ worth IIRC). I got my revenge by cancelling the extended warranty within 28 days and I got a cash refund in the post. I found those sweaty purple shirts were hateful to deal with, and they would say anything to make a sale.

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Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?

Alan 19

Only the mid 1990's??

Only a true veteran remembers the 20p A5 1970's catalogue, or the later ones with spaceships on the cover, and Maplin's 'supersonic same day service' 'cos it was named after Maplin Sands, the proposed site of London's third airport. I still have a customer card (Customer No. four thousand and something). I chatted recently to a 20-year-Maplin-something in a local store reminiscing what things used to be like. He looked at me like I was an alien, and never before did I feel like an ancient old dinosaur. I shut him up by asking for some NFC stickers. Pricey yes, but it's retail so what do you expect, and I can't fault them for being helpful and generally knowledgeable, all of which costs money to put on. Farnell was going to buy Maplin but they bought CPC instead.

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Brit colo outfit Alphadex offline all weekend after attack

Alan 19

Wot no SLA

So they'll know better for next time then. Buy a service with a proper paid-for 100% uptime SLA. Otherwise you draft T&C for your customers stating that 100% is not guaranteed ('cos they're not paying for it). If it's that mission critical then the onus is on end-user customers to insure themselves against commercial losses and not be so daft, and also it's on the web designer/ agency to research and source a host appropriate to the level of client mission-criticality and uptime needed. This kind of stuff happens all the time, same old story of responsibilities being pushed down the line.

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Margaret Hodge, PAC are scaring off new biz: Treasury source

Alan 19

Re: "without contributing to its upkeep"

A dozen years ago there was a mad rush for sole traders to become owner/managers of limited companies. The accountancy profession should hang its head in shame as it contrived tax-saving schemes to push even a modest painter/ decorator nearing retirement, into become a Ltd. Co.

Owner/ManageXXXX Managing Directors could then (a) shield their personal assets from potential liabilities and more importantly (b) draw lump sums as dividends that are PAYE/ NI free. Sure they pay a bit of Corporation Tax on profits, so then G Brown & Co tweaked the rates to ensure they paid what he called 'the right amount of tax' whatever that is.

There remains the matter of simple tax-free dividends being used for tax-efficient reasons (not something I have a problem with, personally, as it's legal), so if Hodge is gunning for MNCs for tax efficiency then she had better shut down every owner-managed Ltd company at the same time.

Nowhere does it say that you have to arrange your tax affairs to pay the maximum possible, and exactly the same legal tax code is used against people to extract every last penny of tax from them legitimately. Hodge can't complain when the reverse is true, organising one's affairs on a complex global scale to shelter tax, all within the law.

Fact is, the world is much smaller and smarter than it was, corporate tax lawyers are many steps ahead of Governments and there will always be a way of sheltering profits to minimise tax. Change the laws, that's all they have to do.

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.2: Tablet PC, CRT screen and more

Alan 19

If it ain't bust

I still use Quicken 98 accounts on a Windows 98SE/ Dell 933 tower, buried down there in the corner. Quicken is backed up onto a USB Zip drive or sometimes over the LAN onto a Synology NAS server (thanks to the free NTFS for Windows 98 driver from those heroes at Paragon Software). In an unofficial kludge I hooked a USB port from it to an old Brother HL-1450 laser, whilst the printer's parallel port goes to a 10 year old home brew PC 3GHZ that's now running Win 7. An Aten KVM switch does the honours. :-)

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Google: Thanks for the billions in revenue, UK. Here are your taxes, that's ... £11m

Alan 19

change the law then

Can't stand the spectacle of Patricia Hodge beating people up, that's just rabble rousing and grandstanding. It's the politicians' fault, all they have to do is change the law. Exactly the same tax code is used against everyone else to ensure every last lawful penny + interest is extracted from them. Nowhere does it say that you have to organise yourself to pay the most tax possible. The smallest owner/ manager of a limited company is arguably avoiding tax (PAYE/ NIC) whilst paying themselves tax-free dividends, so let's do away with one man bands too. Preferably put up a sign saying MNCs Go Home too. As Messrs Google and Amazon and others said, they pay all tax per the law and if the law changes they'll comply with that too. Starbucks made a 'donation' of tax, how does that work? Tax is not voluntary it's compulsory.

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Now your iPhone apps can be FAT losers: Apple gobbles data diet upstart

Alan 19
Headmaster

Børk! is Danish

or Norwegian. As my Swedish ex would tell you, there is no ø character in the Swedish alphabet. More correctly it's BÖRK. Tack så mycket!

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Dell's PC biz craters as servers and networking chug along

Alan 19

I noticed in Computer Shopper April issue how for the first time in my living memory (20 years anyway) Dell is not advertising in the inside cover. A sign of the times.

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Driverless trucks roam Australian mines

Alan 19

Harvesting

An acquaintance works in Oz part of the year, driving vining machines during harvest season (good money). It takes half an hour to travel from one end to the other, the plains are that huge. All he does is snooze at the wheel and wait for the beeper to warn him that it's nearly time to turn around and go the other way. GPS guidance does everything else.

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Button batteries BURN KIDS FROM INSIDE

Alan 19
Boffin

Electrolysis of salty water produces...

caustic soda. A child or baby swallowing one's a medical emergency.

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