* Posts by Ledswinger

7494 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

If most punters are unlikely to pay more for 5G, why all the rush?

Ledswinger Silver badge

Since it's easier to get permission to lay fiber in rural areas, we may have the last laugh. No one here is going to mind another ditch to get better service. No sidewalks to dig up.

Easier and cheaper to dig trenches, you are correct. On the other hand, in most situations the lower cost per foot of rural trenching is more than offset by the lower customer density. Which is why cable has been laid in cities far more commonly than in rural areas.

As indicative numbers (given the vast range in the real world) it is four times as expensive to lay trenches and ducts in "made up" ground compares to road verges and fields. But the customer density in a town or city will be twenty times that of rural populations, making the cost per rural customer five times greater.

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Capacity, not speed

The capacity-not-speed argument also applies to the High Speed 2 railway line. The same arguments are made (people aren't willing to pay more for faster trains); but ultimately it's about increasing capacity, not about going faster.

And there's a similar parallel that the additional capacity can be delivered far more cheaply with existing technology. Convert the Virgin Pendolino's to 100% standard class and you'd increase West Coast line capacity by 25% in a matter of months for a few million quid. Stick in two more carriages and extend the platforms and you'd get another 23% of original capacity. Longer platforms would cost several hundred million quid due to the challenge of extending platforms at constrained stations, but lets assume it costs a billion all in - I've just given a plan that costs a billion but doubles the intercity capacity of the WCML, and can be delivered in two stages, rather than the £80bn and rising cost of HS2.

Coming back to mobile telecoms, the benefits of 5G don't address any of the problems most paying customers really want addressing, and those problems would be most cost effectively met with a more ambitious HDSPA and 4G build out, plus some sensible regulation to permit domestic femto or picocells to reduce the problem of poor internal coverage (and I don't mean by just letting any Tom Dick or Harry sell crappy, poorly designed, network disrupting junk).

Ofcom asks networks, ISPs: Hey, wouldn't it be nice if you let customers know the best deal once their contract's up?

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Contracts

How did we ever get to this stage where mobiles and broadband are on (usually 1 or 2 year) contracts?

Because most people found it easier to fork out twenty or thirty quid a month rather than having to find £300-400 - and that was back in the day before phone makers realised that the gullible could be easily fleeced for £1,000+

Now we've got the value camp of people buying SIM free handsets, we've got an intermediate group buying a handset on contract and wanting to keep it beyond the contract (to whom this proposal applies). And then there's the group that want to always have the newest, shiniest, and who are happy to be perpetually paying full contract prices, renewing as soon as the contract ends (or permits an "upgrade").

But, as usual, Ofcom have flunked consumer protection, in favour of cosying up to the industry. MNOs should not be required to tell their customers they might get a better deal, they should be compelled by law to put customers onto an regulated airtime only contract when the handset's paid off.

Change is likely to come - there's a very slow moving trend that is pushing for all consumer regulation to be separated out from technical/asset regulatory bodies (Ofwat, Ofgem Ofcom, possibly FCA and CAB), and combined into a single consumer regulator, applying common standards for most consumer services. Its a long way off, but I look forward to the happy day when the clowns at Ofcom lose their consumer protection responsibilities to a body far more capable of doing the job.

Apple to splash $10bn raisin' American bit barns

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Green Credentials

Industrial scale device recycling is ambivalent to glue, and AFAIK there's been no proper analysis to compare the whole life impact of glue versus nominal repairability.

Don't overlook the additional impact of after market supply chain, which can be considerable.

Thanks to UK peers, coming to a laptop near you in 2019: Age checks for online smut

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Doh....

If the VPN use does explode in the UK I wonder how much that's going to screw up GCHQ's work.

Opera, with its built in VPN capability is suddenly looking very attractive. Yes, it all gets funnelled to China, but that's only a problem for those doing the sort of jobs that the PLA might have an interest in, or those who might have illegal interests?

Dixons Carphone smarting from £440m loss as it writes down goodwill on mobile biz

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: "Includes handing the 30,000-strong workforce £1,000 worth of shares"

Is that each, or just an insultingly small incentive per person?

Per permanent employee, although over the next three years. Total cost is £10m, against current market capitalisation of £1.65bn, so it isn't as though Dixons Carphone is on the threshold of becoming a mutual.

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: End of Year Tax loss?

sounds like an accounting maneuver for tax reasons.

Unlikely. Tax accounts and published GAAP accounts are completely different, and since 2015, goodwill amortisation hasn't been claimable against corporation tax, so I'm confident that writing it down in one fell swoop would equally not be allowable. My money's on the exec bonus scheme driving this.

What's going on here formally is that they're admitting that the CPW merger was on unduly favourable terms to CPW, and by writing off the goodwill from the balance sheet they reduce the total value of the balance sheet, which helps with some performance ratios such as "return on capital employed". But I suspect the main thing is that by taking the pain this year, profits in future years will be higher by the amount they would otherwise have amortised, and the executive incentive scheme should pay out more generously next year. As there's a minimum profit threshold before bonuses are paid, chances are they thought "we're getting stuff all bonus this year, so what else can we incur as a cost now?"

Also, investor memories are short, and when in the next financial year the share price rises on a big jump in net profit, few will remember that c£33m of the increase is down to this goodwill writeoff. As beneficiaries of share incentives the board will be pleased if the share price improves.

Overall though, it isn't a proper "big bath" provision because in the longer term I can't see the Dixons Carphone mobile shops surviving, so there will be further closures, writedown of leases and business termination costs. Whilst the board continue to cling to the idea that there's value in selling a modest range of handsets at inflated prices on the high street, they aren't going to sort out the CPW rump.

25% of NHS trusts have zilch, zip, zero staff who are versed in security

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Re: Pay?

As long as the location isn’t somewhere like Hull or Slough, if the pay is acceptable I’d take the job

Look what happened at Equifax: A mid level IT staffer was blamed for not patching and got the boot. That person will struggle to find gainful employment in ITSec. Who round here believes that a single IT pro was responsible for Equifax' comprehensive disaster?

Likewise the NHS. You'd have complexity, resistance to change, unsupportive and incompetent senior management, stuff all resources, and plenty of responsibility with zero power to take the necessary decisions.

Would you really take the job?

Lenovo tells Asia-Pacific staff: Work lappy with your unencrypted data on it has been nicked

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Re: If Lenovo give away my bank details

Then surely they're liable for any financial loss I incur?

That will depend on where you reside, and the laws that apply to you and your data.

In the UK, Morrisons are still protesting their innocence after a staffer deliberately released similar data some years ago. They've lost a case at the Court of Appeal, but they think it worth appealing to the Supreme Court, and until that's done and dusted there's a bit of doubt about how much liability attaches to the unintentional but avoidable loss of UK employee data.

New Zealand health boards write down losses on Oracle implementation

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Re: a troubled Oracle implementation.

"public sector procurement and management combined with Oracle competence and efficiency has resulted in ...[...].....disastrous delivery and ruinous waste"

Except that it hasn't. It HAS gone badly wrong. But the costs are small change, particularly when compared to the billion dollar plus screw ups seen with unfortunate frequency across the US, Canada, UK and Australia - and those often for sub-systems like payroll rather than a full ERP and financial suite.

I'd argue the Kiwis are doing a whole lot better than other health services.

Latest Google+ flaw leads Chocolate Factory to shut down site early

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Re: fixed it within a week of it being introduced

Is that "deliberately" introduced as an excuse to shut it down four months earlier?

Why would they need an excuse? The user base waspitiful compared to competing services, and they will already be rapidly draining away to avoid a "disorderly exit" nest year. Google aren't under an contractual commitment, so they needn't worry about bringing the death sentence forward, and they have already reaped all the bad publicity of shutting down yet another failed venture (despite the fact that trying and risking failing is what businesses should do).

For any non-cash paid services I'd have thought in today's world there's no reason that they couldn't have announced closure with six months notice in the first place, after developing and publishing a couple of alternative "how to" different migration strategies for their existing users. Done properly they might even have been able to get the user base to opt for options, and transfer the data in a bulk sale to one of the competing platforms. The dopey Puritans over at Tumblr have just done the same thing, and missed an opportunity to package up and sell a big bundle of somewhere between 1-25 million users. Tumblr's decision is theirs to make (their platform, their rules), but to actually throw away millions of users rather than seek a different way of extracting value whilst still removing them from the user base - that's just daft..

Register Lecture: Right to strike when your boss sells AI to the military?

Ledswinger Silver badge

When did the first pacifist think they could refuse to work on those products but still keep their frikkin' job? 2018 AD maybe?

When you think about all the non-dedicated military stuff that goes into (say) the fully supply and logistics chain for drones, half the population are already involved. Making some broad guesses in a UK context: If you do payroll at Capita you could be paying drone operators, if you do fuel buying at Serco you're maintaining the fuel supply for drones, if you work at a precision metal rolling company you're making the metal that becomes the shims in the drone, and the aircraft that get it out to the warzone; If you work for a tyre maker you could be making tyres for military vehicles of all types, likewise hydraulic hose making, electrical cables, actuators, etc etc etc.

The mistake Google have made is to promote a sanctimonious corporate image (all that "do no evil" bilge"), and then to actively recruit young, shiney eyed idealists who think that offices contain ping pong tables, bean bags, free fruit and coffee, and actually believed all that claptrap. Now they're taking offence, because they do want to be part of a strong global nation that is able and willing to project lethal force, but the poor lambs at Google had believed that somebody else (probably paid a lot less, and wearing a grubby blue collar) would have to get their hands dirty.

Welcome to the real world, Googleywoogleys.

The internet is going to hell and its creators want your help fixing it

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Re: Too much pessimism

I'm glad I've been alive when it happened.?

Me too. But confidence and optimism doesn't sell as well as fear and pessimism.

And there is plenty to be optimistic about. Take a leading example: I don't LIKE Google's behaviours, on the other hand Google has done loads of things for me that weren't possible before, or has simplified them, done them better, or done them at lower cash cost than anybody thought possible. For those that disagree, it is easily possible to avoid Google's services, and with suitable ad-blockers and the like to avoid their intrusion to our lives. So for me, I take a balanced approach of using Google services, strapping down what I can through permissions, blockers and similar, and accepting the balance that I can't strap down is how I'm paying the bill.

Even behavioural people stuff like internet trolling is easily avoided - don't participate in unmoderated forums with huge, poorly behaved memberships. It has never been safely possible to shout your mouth off in partisan, ill behaved crowd of strangers - anybody (like my own mother) who thinks they should suddenly have that "right" online really haven't thought the matter through enough.

Rather than wringing their hands in fear, the panel ought to have celebrated what has been positively achieved, and where so much of the downsides can be avoided. I think that is the solution - education of internet users, so that they understand how and where companies like Google, Facebook etc make their money. How to manage permissions. How to install ad + script blockers. The difference between membership and open forums. The difference between moderated and unmoderated forums. How language can be misinterpreted to take offence. And perhaps more importantly, the value of the sites they visit.

A central problem behind a vast number of internet problems is that the internet as created by these wizzened old geeks has conditioned people to expect stuff for free. Nothing (other than air, dog mess, and other people's opinions) is free, and that means underhand cost recovery models, it means abuse of privacy, it means no money for moderation, and no willingness to reduce readership by moderation and exclusion. China, Russia, there not big issues - they're merely using the existing "free and unmanaged" nature of much of the web to play games.

The main technical solution the internet needs is a successful and widely adopted micro-payment service, so that content websites don't need to rely on advertising and behavioural data income. Looking at public domain data for the Register and parent company, I'd guess they'd be better off if they charged all users as little as 5p per week. At 10p a week they're making twice as much money (suggestions welcome for how they might invest that). Specifically doesn't need to be pay per article, and IMHO shouldn't be a rolling subscription. Facebook ought to be charging users, and work out their own market price, but like most hosting or user content aggregation platforms, that probably needs to be a subscription model. I can't see a choice of "free with ads" or "paid without ads" working well for content web sites, others may hold different views.

There's various sequential barriers to getting past the problems caused directly or indirectly by the "free" internet. But until that happens we won't change what we see now. So back to the wizzened geeks: Where is my internet education programme? And where's my micropayment platform?

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Balls

As we get more and more renewables then there will soon be a time when cheap mains electricity can be used for space/water heating in domestic situations rather than gas or oil.

Why will it be cheap? The costs of the grid, or standby fossil generation, and the renewable generation all need to be paid (and the renewables increase total costs of the system). Just because something has a very low marginal cost of operation doesn't make it free - as Hinkley Point C is demonstrating.

And there's another complication that battery storage and EV charging will flatten out short term wholesale market price variations, so the concept of having a lot of surplus power pushing down prices starts to diminish. Ofgem are already proposing various network code changes that will increase the fixed cost element of residential energy bills because the excessive renewable subsidies have allowed some households to dodge paying their share of network and operation costs.

Economy 7 storage heaters are another possible example. If we had proper smart meters that is.

E7 has operated for fifty odd years without smart meters, it works with smart meters, so I don't see what your point is. Worth recalling that E7 only existed because there were no good energy storage options, and the government had built a shed-load of huge, inflexible coal power stations that had to keep running at a minimum load during the night. As government policies rush to promote EVs, the overnight demand will increase dramatically, and there won't be this magical period of really cheap overnight electricity.

And one further thought about renewable heating. Peak heating demand is after dark on the coldest stillest winter nights, and renewables aren't going to help much. Storage would only really work if it were intra-seasonal, and in that case you only cycle the asset a handful of times a year, and that's hugely expensive (which is why nobody wants to invest in gas storage).

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: By George

Sadly not. The proposed system will be much more complex in practice compared to theory, there will be parasitic loads for control of the storage, and the theoretical efficiency will be well ahead of the real world. That's true for new and existing technologies.

When you chain multiple conversion stages, you're multiplying inefficiencies. My former employers built a plant that (at near grid scale) used surplus renewable energy to dissociate water and create and store hydrogen, which was then methanated to make it useable as "green" gas in the gas distribution network or into a steam turbine to create electricity. Sadly the net efficiency was dismal, so although the technology works, there's simply no way it can properly scale to be material. And I think this will be the same - throw money at it, and it will work. But don't expect this to be viable in most situations.

More data joy: Email scammers are buying marks' info from legit biz intelligence firms

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: At what point...

You wouldn't believe the number of times I see the scowling face of Deborah Meaden on Peter Jones trying to tell me how much money they've made by investing in Bitcoins on the lockscreen of my WileyFox phone.

That's a truly horrifying thought. My Xiaomi doesn't do crap like that, and I probably paid less (like for like) than WF buyers.

Bloodhound SSC reaches the end of the road for want of £25m

Ledswinger Silver badge

Let's try and excite people with genuinely novel engineering solutions...

The floor is yours, sir. You've criticised what others have done, let's see you come up with something considerably better. And not just a basic idea, you will presumably be happy to get a good starting percentage delivered as well.

Brit bomb hoax teen who fantasised about being a notorious hacker cops 3 years in jail

Ledswinger Silver badge

If he is he should be in Broadmoor or Rampton.

He's from Garston, he wouldn't notice. The article describes this as a village near Watford. Knowing the area rather well, I'd describe Garston as a ghastly urban dump sandwiched between the A41 and the M1, and anybody using the term "village" is deluded.

Why millions of Brits' mobile phones were knackered on Thursday: An expired Ericsson software certificate

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Re: Boo hoo

You cannot call 999 in the UK without a SIM card

How confident are you of that? AIUI calling the designated emergency service numbers is the ONLY number you can call without a SIM card.

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Re: I don't get it

Next thing they'll be blaming a lack of 50p pieces for the meter.

There's a thought. Who knows what certificatey badness lurks on the inside of smart meters? Given that these have cranky software written by hardware makers, and there's zip all standardisation, we can probably expect some vast screw up in future years. And due to the idiotic specification created by government, when a smart meter has problems it defaults to cutting the customer off.

At least nobody will be using energy without paying when the software gremlin visits.

Ledswinger Silver badge


O2 Outage Outrage

So that's O3, then? Or would it be O4?

Expired cert... Really? #O2down meltdown shows we should fear bungles and bugs more than hackers

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Bad news. The fog's getting thicker.

The fog's getting thicker.....And Leon is getting laaaaarrrrrger.

In fog, the time to worry is when the word "Scania" looms into view and is getting rapidly larger.

UK spies: You know how we said bulk device hacking would be used sparingly? Well, things have 'evolved'...

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: The underlying message

Hide in plain sight may be the only option for the <insert bad group here>

I think you'll find that the IBGH already do. They realised long ago that the US had the ability to backdoor or hack most IT and comms hardware, from user devices through modems, routers, network switches to DC hardware, and even if a digital or voice message can be securely encrypted end-to-end, it still gives things away in duration, locations, and the network of contacts.

Far safer to use a chain of disposable couriers given idiot codes. The courier doesn't understand the code, so the best the "official" side can do is hope to disrupt the transmission - and unless it knows the couriers it can't easily track and disrupt it. Even if they get lucky, intercepting the transmission and seizing the code doesn't help because it can't be cracked and the courier doesn't know what it means.

Ultimately if you throw enough surveillance at it this can be tracked from "head office" down to operatives, but just look how long it took the US to find IBL, with the entire weight of the Western world's intelligence agencies on the job, along with military surveillance assets, and for all practical terms no legal oversight or restraint. And despite the billions spent on that, the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia is drifting back into its Wahabi extremism. I really don't see how bulk EI is going to help in the failed wars on terror, drugs and motorists.

Do not adjust your set: Hats off to Apple, you struggle to shift iPhones 'cos you're oddly ethical

Ledswinger Silver badge

You are of El Reg's readership. The standard is higher here.

Most of us could root an Android and install Lineages. But as a process it is a friendly as a cornered rat, and IME the Lineages installs too often have bits that don't work properly per phone model. Why put myself through some tedium (with slight risk of bricking the phone) just to have a different OS that supports most of my phone's original capabilities?

I don't like, own or use Apple products. But I'll back the assertion of the poster claiming that Apple support their products much better and for much longer. Most Android makers give up on support no later than the end of production of the hardware.

Awkward... Revealed Facebook emails show plans for data slurping, selling access to addicts' info, crafty PR spinning

Ledswinger Silver badge

Obviously someone knew he was carrying the data to Blighty....

You remember all the crates that were shipped out from Cambridge Analytica's offices before the ICO managed to get a warrant?

Having suggested such a fine conspiracy theory, I am challenged by my own reality check: Given the dismal incompetence of the British government over EVERYTHING I struggle to credit them sufficiently that GCHQ could have any competence in cyber-ops.

Time for a little bet on Google? App-building framework Flutter now fitted for more than phones – desktops, too

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Re: Thanks, but no thanks!

PS: We definitely appear to be in an era with a glut of new programming languages :(

I can't see this sticking around for long. It'll go the way of MS Silverlight - but Google being Google, they'll persist for a while, then dump Flutter (and its few faithful users) because it hasn't got the mainstream success of Google Search or Android.

Looking at all the stuff Google have shut down, it would be a brave developer really willing to nail their colours to the mast of this one.

UK's BT: It's not unusual to pull Huawei from our core mobile networks

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Gov't worried over Chinese ownership?

If that's really the case, they might want to explain why they're building Hinkley Point C with a load of Chinese money, plan to allow Sizewell C with an even greater share of Chinese money, and then plan for Bradwell B to be built to a largely Chinese design with Chinese money....

How the mighty have fallen: Anglian Water knocks Google off perch as UK's best workplace

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Re: Surprising placements

Maybe not surprising - I've worked for a business chasing a high rating (albeit in the Sunday Times "best places to work" ranking) and the assessment criteria were known, so it became mainly an exercise in how much effort the business will apply to tick the necessary boxes. I'd liken the effort required to responding to a detailed commercial RFP - so you really need a cross-business team who's objective is to gain a high score, and executive sponsorship to both get the necessary co-operation, and ensure there's the budget for the various criteria, that can include having an active D&I programme, active H&S including mental health, decent numeric scores for management "diversity", overall safety and sickness, regular staff surveys (and again, decent numbers for employee engagement scores) etc.

Worth noting that in other ranking surveys, I've encountered the organisers being very clear that they would discount high scoring entrants unless they bought multiple ten seat tables at the events ceremony, meaning you had to perform to a very decent level, create the case and find the proof for your bid, and then to confirm your winning status you had to find a minimum of £15k for tickets at the event.

In this case, the question is raised as to how Glassdoor make money, and whether that might have some bearing on matters.

Naked women cleaning biz smashes patriarchy by introducing naked bloke gardening service

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Re: Why is it sexist

it's only sexist because a member of the political correctness police SAYS so.

No, its sexist 'cos they got it the wrong way round.

I'd imagine lady commentards (c'mon, both of you help me out here, please?) would enjoy the concept of a naked Chippendale doing the housework rather than gardening, and (speaking for myself) I'd not want a naked woman doing housework, I'd rather she was mowing the lawn, whilst I sat in fat, greasy splendour, downing a cold lager admiring the dignity of the human form in manual labour.

Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: The elephant in the back seat

So how does 5 crashes and 2 fatalities in approx 3 years and god-knows-many-miles since deployment compare with human-driven cars.

Depending on which report you read the exact figure varies, but they all seem to be around 1 billion miles of cumulative Autopilot, and around 10 billion Tesla fleet miles in all modes.


And according to OECD IRTAD data for 2017, road casualties in the US are 7.0 deaths per billion vehicle km.

Tesla Autopilot: 2 deaths per billion miles

US average: 11.2 deaths per billion miles

So at crude face value it looks like Tesla's doing well, except that's not adjusted for vehicle type and driver population, nor for the fact that Autopilot is something you'd engage on the open road. All of which I'd expect to bring the US average figure down dramatically, perhaps by a factor or 3-4, based largely on UK experience that shows that major non-urban roads are significantly safer per vehicle mile than urban and minor roads.

Overall, I don't think the evidence strongly points one way or the other when measuring fatalities per vehicle mile.

BT pension scheme will stay on RPI interest rates for now

Ledswinger Silver badge

Oh well.

I suppose this means that Openreach will have no choice but to keep sweating the copper assets, and avoid any pro-active investments in FTTP.

I'm not for or against the company or the pensioners in this matter - the company made promises and has to stick by them, the employees on the other hand are enjoying a state-guaranteed pension scheme that indexes by the most generous measure available. If BT go bust and government bail out the pension fund, we pay through taxes. As long as BT don't go bust they have to recover the pension deficit repair costs to customer's bills.

Shall we have AI judging UK court cases? Top beak ponders the future

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Re: Henry VI, Part 2!

I'm the IT manager for a law firm, and that is a straw man argument....

You should have yourself checked for lawyeritis.

You make a point about the complexity of wills. But given that there are a series of laws, rules and precedents that dictate how inheritance will work by default, and what is permissible to achieve a client chosen outcome, then we don't need AI, we just need a moderately complex algorithm. Relying on the memory of a human to fully understand the complexity of inheritance law when writing wills is Victorian. A computer can resolve these problems that are (at heart) just very basic algebra far faster, far better. You need people who really understand the law to write the algorithm, but you don't need that "personal touch" that's used to justify often outrageous fees.

In a subsequent post you make the point that if you pay more and your lawyer knows the process, things can be done very efficiently. But why should ALL conveyancing not be done quickly and efficiently? Given that customers are already paying a hell of a lot for something barely above administration, why should they have to pay even more for an adequate service? I have worked for a major law firm (on KM and business development), and in my view the sector is rankly inefficient, the major law firms pad their invoices something chronic, they charge full rate to recycle work they've done and been paid for before, and their commercial objectives are often diametrically opposed to that of their clients. And that seems to hold true for the top ten law firm I worked for right down to high street lawyers writing will, doing conveyancing. I suspect probate, divorce law services and the like are similarly poor value for customers, but luckily I've not had the need to find out.

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Pascal M: Let's fully automate administrative and apparently trivial tasks with the magic of our "AI"

That'll give us more time to take to the streets....

So, Mr Ludd, noting the tasks I highlighted, you'll be joining the barricades to protest the right of lawyers to earn a handsome crust through sloth, incompetence and inefficiency? I'll send my apologies, as whatever night the lawyers are rioting on I shall be busy.

All of the examples I gave are services that are expensive for us mere mortals, are notoriously slow, error prone and disproportionately costly. They are not volume employers, and I suspect about half of the searches in conveyancing are performed on digital databases already. Conveyancing and will writing are ideal for automation, offering cost savings, far greater speed (from weeks to minutes), and far fewer errors. And that's the thing about automation - it should offer a better quality outcome, and that's probably more important than the cost savings.

Looking at the replacement of manual assembly, welding and painting in car production with robots - that has enabled cheaper cars, but rather more importantly it does a far better job than people managed. Fair enough, it I buy a Morgan, I want it made by hand. But for a workaday car, I want it cheap and fault free, and automation done properly can deliver that.

Ledswinger Silver badge

come back when we have any AI to talk of.

A good pointy, in relation to heavyweight lawyering and matters involving judgement based on complex facts.

But given that the term AI applies to any programme these days, I'd draw the net a bit wider. Much (maybe most) legal work doesn't involve judgement - it is very transactional and very procedural, and doesn't need AI. All it needs is a carefully constructed algorithm that applies the same tests and creates the same outcome as a workaday lawyer would farm out to their trainee.

I've worked for a major law firm, and most have had fairly competent knowledge management systems for years. These contain all digitally created work done before, every bit extensively indexed to help the juniors be more productive and make fewer errors. Aside from litigation, huge swathes of expensive legal advice or complex document drafting are nothing more than a big and very expensive cut'n'paste. That's ripe for greater automation.

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: Henry VI, Part 2!

If we can get web-present AIs to handle all the basic stuff that makes up the majority of a lawyer's workload that would be fantastic.

There's already transactional legal work (like will writing) that is nothing more than a dumb algorithm in computing terms, with little evidence that anybody has successfully displaced meatsack will-writers with machines. Although the deregulation of will writing in 2011 could allow for automation, what actually happened was an increase in people using a qualified solicitor to write their wills rather than will writing services, so it seems Joe Public still seeks the comfort of an expensive legal professional.

Conveyancing is another area ripe for automation - all those crappy, expensive, painfully slow manual land searches and the turgid sale bureaucracy for housing is utterly unnecessary in this day and age. It could be done in minutes, and done more securely. But again, I see nobody trying to do this. Come on Zoopla, this is your sort of sh*t! Get it sorted!

Another legal job for AI: Search all stature law, and highlight all conflicts of law for resolution, and re-write the lot in the nearest possible to clear everyday English.

ICO to probe facial recog amid concerns UK cops can't shake their love for unregulated creepy tech

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Re: Significant effort and investment to make it work consistently

Do this AFTER a proper public debate and a solid set of ethical rules are arrived at.

Why would they need either, when they've successfully carpeted the UK with ANPR cameras? A quick look couldn't find how many are now operating as part of the national network, but round my way all A roads are covered, and they've even got multiple coverage of some B roads, so I'd hazard a guess that nationally there's perhaps 30,000 (not including "enrolled" cameras of private CCTV or other public sector bodies, like the Highways Agency). As any fule noes, the ANPR system hasn't made a jot of difference to the distribution of drugs, or the ability of organised criminals to conduct business.

So, with ANPR, we have (1) big cost, (2) no debate or informed consent by the public, (3) it isn't terribly effective - but (4) they've done it anyway. I suspect facial recognition will follow the same four step model. And sooner or later, some senior Plod will propose what a fantastic idea it would be to build a National Facial Recognition Data Centre, just like they've done with ANPR.

Millennials 'horrify' their neighbours with knob-shaped lights display

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Re: Well done students...

It would be interesting to know what legal means the landlord would have to evict them that quickly? Considering they haven't broken any standard letting agreement.

My oldest has just moved into a rented property, and the rental agreement is standard for the letting agency and includes a vast number of "thou shalt not..." clauses. I'd be very surprised if anybody letting properties to students would be daft enough not to include prohibition on causing offence, hazard or harm to neighbours, amongst many other things.

European fibre lobby calls for end to fake fibre broadband ads

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Re: Duck! Pigs.

A very selective industry body. If you look at the membership, it is unsurprisingly made up mainly of hardware suppliers. There's a tiny handful of small operators, and no consumer advocates.

Musk's popstar girlfriend Grimes croons about next-gen AI, plus more machine-learning news

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Re: Why not instead

Create a legal system that makes sense, one that can be flowcharted and is based on a few founding principles.

English civil law is founded on a few principles and makes sense. It's the edge cases that make for complexity, and (more so) the complexity of the problems that is asked to resolve. There's a very good reason why a vastly disproportionate volume of world trade is conducted by contracts that deem any disputes to be settled in English courts. Unfortunately, many of the things that a court has to decide on involve (as one example) tests of what is reasonable, fair, proportionate. You can write a flow chart for that, it doesn't make the decision any simpler and better suited to AI.

But I wonder what problem AI lawyers are intended to solve, and for whom? I've no love to for lawyers, but the last thing the UK needs is its highly profitable, skilled, foreign exchange earning legal sector to be replaced by CortanaLaw, which being realistic will be 99% US IP, and priced (as with meatsack lawyers) right up to the point of maximum returns to the owner.

Given that its the bunglers of the research councils doling out cash, I'd suggest maybe they should have funded a study "Unlocking the potential for unlocking of AI in designing and running effective, reliable low cost, user-fridenly shared services"

Marriott's Starwood hotels mega-hack: Half a BILLION guests' deets exposed over 4 years

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Re: Card numbers

If it started in 2014. I doubt its Oracle Cloud as it didn't exist for Hospitality ....

But what about the acquired businesses that Oracle borged? In particular, Micros, who were an EPOS and hospitality specialist, and themselves a product of the horrible "snowball acquisition" model that afflict ERP and EPOS vendors.

Mystery sign-poster pities the fool who would litter the UK's West Midlands

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Re: ye gods.

Parliament is sovereign in this country, partly to save the unwashed masses from populist stupidity

You actually, really believe that utter fucking shite? The reason we're in this mess is because the majority of voters, for a whole range of different reasons, voted against elitist politicians who'd been busy "knowing best" for the past thirty plus years. And they'd been very active signing treaties and accepting unfavourable agreements without checking what the public at large actually wanted. If the useless fuckers had listened, and shown a whole lot more spine and national interest in dealings with the EU, then I suspect the population wouldn't have been so anti-EU.

That's the curious thing about real democracy. It doesn't always produce the outcomes that middle ground liberals think of as "democracy". The sooner we have more populist stupidity in Parliament, and less of the Oxbridge humanities graduates choosing their preferred outcome the better.

Deck the halls with ... oh, no. DXC tells staff they may not have a job in the New Year

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Re: Reap What You Sow

one of the chief redundancy henchmen, is now under immediate threat of redundancy too

I doubt he'll be going under the minimalist terms offered to the proles.

Magecart fiends punch card-skimming code in Sotheby's Home website

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Not a price cut! Apple perks up soggy iPhone demand with rebate boost

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Re: market share

Apple beancounters are too busy looking at the high profit margins they still have to notice that some apps and developers are now not bothering with Apple, because Android is 90% of the market.

Starting with the statement that I have never (willingly) bought or used an Apple device, I'd still make the "citation needed" comment against your claim. Very few end users pay cash for things in the Google Play store, and I'd therefore suspect that developing for IoS has far better returns than developing for Android.

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Re: Apple's problem

People pay too much attention to share prices both as auguries and assets which is why it's also important that companies pay dividends.

Mr Clark, you are (as so often) right. And you're a voice in the wilderness. I feel like that in my day job. but hey-ho, who ever got PAID to tell the truth?

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Re: Peak Apple

Peak Apple...TBH, I think we reached it a few years ago

I'll bite. On what measure do you assert we reached Peak Apple years ago?

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Re: Who needs analysts?

Once people get sick of paying well over the odds for average technology then paying even more for Apple care then they will be finished. That day isn't too far away.

Never underestimate the power of a well managed brand. You may sneer, but since the start of modern times people have been paying more than they need to to buy products under brand names like Persil, Fairy, Gillette, Coca Cola, L'Oreal, Duracell, Audi, Moet, Walkers, and almost any single malt you care to name. Why? Because they believe that they are getting something better than a commodity item or "lesser" brands.

I'll wager that somewhere in your life you buy branded products that others would sneer at. In phone terms I see a handset as a commodity, and I usually buy AOSP phones of a large Chinese maker. As a regular tipple I'll buy a decent whisky blend. But on special occasions I'll splash out on recognised single malt.

At times, the experience of fondling premium packaging alone is worth it, or when you want to show friends that you choose to offer them a premium product. But at the end of the day, most rational buyers are better off with a well made blend, and blind tasting shows that is what most people prefer.

I can see Apple topping out certainly. Just don't expect so see Apple "finished" anytime in the next few decades.

Another Hancock-up? UK health secretary appears in piece about controversial GP app

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Re: All the same

Both sides of the House seem to actively select for members with little ability to think clearly.

I can't recall a time in the past fifty years when parliament contained any worthwhile number of intelligent, practical people, so that's nothing new. What does appear to be new is that the quality of ministers and show minsters now always goes down when the post holder changes. Brown was a worse prime minister than Blair. Corbyn is a worse leader than (even) Milliband. Most ministerial changes result in an idiot being replaced by an idiot squared. When that revolting toff Cameron resigned, I honestly believed things couldn't get worse in terms of Prime Minister, and Bagpss May has proved me handsomely and repeatedly wrong. There's a few people who have yet to prove their thoroughgoing incompetence - like or more likely not, Hammond is doing a much better job than Greasy Osborne, and Javid seems to be awaiting an opportunity to fuck up.

But as a general rule, the political parties are proving there is no absolute zero when measuring competence.

Apple heading for Supreme Court showdown over iOS App Store 'monopoly' gripe

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Re: There are alernatives...

Try changing the stereo on the newer cars. It is your "special wheel nut".

Try changing anything electrical on a newer car. Many VW group cars (and I suspect plenty of others) will gripe and complain if you fit LED bulbs in lieu of factory supplied filament bulbs, although there's a Canbus setting to make it recognise the LED. Obviously, in the interests of your well being, that can only be changed by an expensive dealer visit, unless you want to try and hack the car's system. Likewise, enabling display link, or turning on "steering" foglights. Adding after market electrical accessories is equally fraught.

Uber fined £385k by ICO for THAT hack of 57m customers' deets

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Re: Peanuts

I work out out as 14p per person.

14p per British user, circa £3.61 per Dutch user.

You could almost believe that the British government were a bunch of clueless patsies who'd been bought by US big data corporations. It'll be interesting to see how different national regulators apply GDPR rules.

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