* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Nathan Barley blamed for global GDP slump

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Freelancer is a good tax avoidance scheme

"You get to pay no NI, and you can pay yourself a low-tax wage and up to 40k in dividends at 7.5%. And corporation tax is super low for you. That's why we have so many contractors these days. "

Let me guess: you've never been a freelancer yourself. You're too high-minded? Or is there some other aspect you don't think you can hack - perhaps you can't take the risk of not landing a contract for a month or six?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I'm sceptical

"Another thought for the productivity loss - what about the syphoning off of large amounts for the purposes of tax avoidance by the major US tech companies?"

An excellent point. We have created a competitive international market for corporate taxation and are failing to compete because our economy's too big. I suppose we'll have slimmed down post-Brexit and will be able have to become a tax haven.

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Re: I'm sceptical

"For international comparisons it wouldn't be the first time - the methods used understate manufacturing productivity if a UK company outsources (say) the cleaning, which immediately becomes a service sector output, and therefore manufacturing productivity appears to decline."

Surely if this were misrecorded the productivity would appear to have risen in that a given manufacturing output would have appeared to have risen as the product had been produced with less input hours.

A more feasible explanation in manufacturing is that labour costs have been held down so that it makes more sense to employ people to do a job less efficiently in terms of time than to invest in new machinery. And as interest rates eventually rise it will seem even less attractive to invest in machinery.

UK.gov to chuck an extra £2.3bn at R&D ahead of Budget

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It will also set aside £1.7bn for "transport links and local growth", including £250m for better transport in the West Midlands the so-called "Midlands Engine".

I hope this has been better thought out than the "Northern Powerhouse" equivalent which seems to have assumed overhead electrification could be installed without checking if the tunnels had enough headroom.

MPs draft bill to close loopholes used by 'sharing economy' employers

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Re: Best solution ...

"not a test by a government to see whether or not it should bankrupt itself."

Given what's happened around the world in the last year or so I wouldn't bet against this happening somewhere.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Best solution ...

The thing I notice about people who are so anti-UI is they never seem able to come up with a viable alternative. "We can't have UI as it rewards people for doing nothing"

There's an alternative view: why are you proposing to pay money to people who don't need it? By the time you've clawed it back in tax* you'll end up just where you started give or take a few edge cases who'll be better off under one version than the other. Don't suppose that you'll save on bureaucracy**, that never decreases; you'll probably find at least as many people involved in handing out the UI and probably a few more employed to to the clawing back.

*If you don't claw it back you run into the other problem - finding the magic money tree.

**If, by some miracle, you do you'll have put them out of work - was increasing unemployment an objective?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: re Charities

"Working (actually volunteering) in the charity sector"

Volunteering isn't the same as zero hours.

"employing a whole two people and a dedicated youth worker for all the other work."

How are these people employed? It sounds is if they're regular employees.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

The missing link: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmworpen/352/352.pdf

The draft bill starts at page 28. On the whole it doesn't look good, in particular: In this Act an individual is “an independent contractor” if he is neither an employee nor worker.

We need a clear right to be in business on one's own account enshrined in law and with a better definition than "falling between the cracks".

The problems start at the beginning in 1(3): a tribunal or court may have regard to the following factors, for example: Surely it makes sense to either enumerate principles from which the tribunal or court can decide on factors and give examples or to enumerate the factors outright. This is neither.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The what?

"Really? Would be interesting to know exactly who or what pays the bills for such a grand name"

AFAIK it's what used to be the PCG. I don't know why they came up with such a daft rebranding (except that most rebrandings are daft); I'd given up my membership when I retired so wasn't a party to that discussion able to pour copious contempt on it. But, in answer to your question: its members.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"MP's own shares and get paid as shareholders.

The companies using this are the ones probably paying the MP's."

Leaving aside the double use of a grocer's apostrophe what are you actually saying here?

Are you claiming that MPs, instead of being paid a parliamentary salary, are using personal service companies to get paid? If so what's your evidence for this?

Or is this a belief in some great conspiracy where only a few powerful people own all the shares and run the economy accordingly? If so then you should be aware that shareholding is a great deal more widespread than you think. Are you a member of a company pension scheme? Then, indirectly, you are a share holder. Do you have a personal pension or a life insurance scheme? Then you are a shareholder. Or almost any other form of savings? Does your employer have an employee share scheme?

Dick move: Navy flyboy flings firmament phallus for flabbergasted folk

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"Dolls, don't forget to get your Prostrate checked"

Did you mean prostate? If so then your anatomy knowledge is faulty.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Our thoughts go out to the senior officer who has to, with a long straight face, tell a room full of pilots that this is absolutely not funny"

I'm sure it'll not happen quite like that. I'm reminded of the combined forces training story. The army complained about the other services calling them Pongoes. The navy issued an instruction that in future Army officers should not be referred to as Pongoes. The RAF issued an instruction that in future Pongoes should be referred to as Army officers.

DNS resolver will check requests against IBM threat database

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"the exemption in GDPR is not for police forces, but for data used for policing purposes. This system is very much subject to GDPR."

So how do you explain the police holding DNA and other data on individuals who've been cleared. Anything will be twisted into "data used for policing purposes". Until the police forces can be trusted with data they have to be able to show themselves to have clean hands on data handling.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"As it happens I'd tend to trust these people."

You might have the background to trust them. So, at one time, might I. Unfortunately, as the internet has developed, some elements of TPTB have shown themselves to be thoroughly untrustable and sufficiently powerful to be able to push their way into too many places. Trusting anyone nowadays has become increasingly risky.

The Social Network™ releases its data networking code

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Re: It's Monday morning, let's hope BT are already analysing the code on Git-Hub.

"it needs lots of horny-handed installation engineers, up ladders and digging trenches."

It also needs a lot of no longer happy customers paying higher charges for something they never asked for and don't value so that those who did want it don't have to pay for it all themselves.

User experience test tools: A privacy accident waiting to happen

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Re: Designing software to create computer illiterates

"providing an opportunity for people to become a little less ignorant"

Those who need the opportunity most will be too ignorant to take it.

Drone maker DJI left its private SSL, firmware keys open to world+dog on GitHub FOR YEARS

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Re: ahh

Maybe it's time to introduce the term "DJI effect", like the Streisand effect but aiming a larger piece of ordnance at one's foot.

Windows Update borks elderly printers in typical Patch Tuesday style

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Re: Alternative options do exist

Let's try another scenario: You buy something for work. The vendor's computer, pretending to be a till should print out a multipart invoice/receipt but fails because it's just been borked by and update. Your expenses sheet for reimbursement gets bounced by the bits of paper wallahs because you failed to provide a suitable bit of paper.

Not everything bought over the counter is bought without the need for a receipt.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Dot Matrix, that takes me back.

"Went through a crazy amount of (green lined) paper, too."

And even more so if you got your FORTRAN control characters wrong and sent form feeds instead of line feeds. No, not me but I knew someone who did.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: backward compatibility NOT a thing with Micro-shaft

"How this single task could be buggered up is beyond me."

You clearly do not have the talents to write printer drivers for Windows.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "I got myself a Mac and could still use my scanner"

"Anyway drivers are up to the HW maker, you can't really expect an OS deliver drivers for each and every device ever produced. Especially complex ones like scanners or printers which may have very specific functions."

What you can do is ensure that the driver interface is stable. If a new driver interface has to be provided then ensure that some means is available - a shim or the old module - to enable the old one to be used even if it's not the standard.

The functions of an update shouldn't include breaking things that are working legitimately.

Unfortunately this has become forgotten in the IT industry to the extent of various comments here to the effect of "so-what". Then there are complaints, maybe even from the same commentards, that essential medical diagnostics of whatever are still running on XP. And, no, you can't reasonably expect that the customer will just go out and buy the latest whatever the chunk of hardware is. The old one may not yet have performed the body of work for which its purchase was originally justified.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Dot Matrix, that takes me back.

"hammer-bank metal band line printers in the 80s. They really did sound like a machine gun if you opened the foam lined box "

And if the band broke the box wouldn't present an obstacle.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The are still used!

"It's called Windows Insider."

Isn't that the continuous alpha?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: backward compatibility NOT a thing with Micro-shaft

"A printer not working is not in anyway an OS "stability problem"."

Anything that causes the OS to stop doing what it should be doing and previously did do is a stability problem at one level or another.

It worked.

It's fallen over.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: dot matrix

Dot matrix will probably be the last printer technology to die when the paperless office really does arrive.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: backward compatibility NOT a thing with Micro-shaft

"This isn't a stability problem"

I doubt the owners of these systems are too bothered about splitting hairs. Spitting feathers, maybe.

UK private sector joins public in... Escape from DXC Max

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I don't think it takes a Harvard MBA to see how that might pan out."

I think you mean it takes a Harvard MBA to not see how it might pan out. Everyone else sees it clearly enough.

True Telecom busted by Ofcom for 'slamming', misselling and more

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Essential step needed: the moment an investigation* starts the company's bank account is frozen. When unfrozen (it doesn't need to take long, just enough to tell the bank the conditions) no payments can be made to the shareholders or directors or close relatives of the same without the investigator's express permission and to get that permission there needs to be a very good explanation; an explanation so good that it's unlikely ever to be good enough. Any other payments also need to be run by the investigator to ensure they are essential to the running of the business.

*Investigation means an investigation by any regulator, ICO, OfCom, Trading Standards or whatever.

Massive US military social media spying archive left wide open in AWS S3 buckets

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"Just 'cos we've moved to the cloud doesn't mean these fecking eejits have gone away."

It just gives them something else to get wrong.

For goodness sake, stop the plod using facial recog, London mayor told

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"The devil is in the details, not scare quotes."

Indeed. Let me point out an important little detail: the presumption of innocence.

Car tax evasion has soared since paper discs scrapped

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Re: excuses excuses.

"The advantage to the Government is that the cost of admin falls through the floor and far fewer administrators are required at DVLA"

What makes you think that? They may up the tax on fuel but they'll not scrap the VED. Your zero-rating OTOH...as soon as that makes a significant dent in VED, that will get scrapped.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I never pay before the 14th of the month. I use the two week grace.

"The speed limits haven't been reduced massively as an 'experiment'"

It's always an experiment - an experiment in what they can get away with.

I remember the "experimental" variable speed limits on the M25. I didn't drive there regularly but certainly drove there often enough to have been through during a control day if such a thing had existed but never saw any.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Rip off on car sales ...

"but I don't like my government to screw their tax payers."

You make it sound as if it's something new.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Except to remember not to use the colour that makes it look very like a Guinness bottle label."

Or very similar in colour to another disc in use at the same time. There was a case where the car tax disc and a much cheaper one - I think for tractors - were used at the same time. A clerk in the taxation office was issuing the cheaper one and pocketing the difference.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Where's the "Value Add" in the duty part of the cost?"

In the Treasury.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Looked at that way, everyone should pay tax for the roads so just increase VAT."

Why do people not grok that taxes do not get abolished by such schemes?

The VAT may go up but "road taxation" will not come down. Apart from anything else it's not road taxation, it's just taxation. If it equated to what was spent on roads we'd have much better roads and pay much less road taxation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"No one pays Road Tax, it's call VED"

Actually DVLA now seem to be referring to it as "Vehicle tax" in their reminders.

What's more, the Treasury won't thank you for reminding people that it's not a road tax; they prefer that people continue to think of it in that way; it makes them think they're getting better roads for what they pay although applying common sense to what they actually get in the way of roads should disabuse them of that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"And then in 10-20 years they'll realise coal fired power stations are bad, and increase the price of electricity / VED on electric/hybrid cars."

Your time frame is probably optimistic. As soon as any tax incentive is effective enough to cut into the takings it will be removed. Emissions might be used as an excuse but the Treasury wants its pound of flesh (but will take cash as a preferred alternative).

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Abolish road tax and put it on fuel instead. It's done elsewhere so why not here. You pay more or less according to your road usage. Simple, fair and no way of avoiding it."

I'm not sure where your "here" is but in the UK something like that happens - they just replace "instead" with "as well". However, your "here" might raise this money as a means of paying for construction and repair of roads. In the UK this connection is tenuous to say the least. It's all treated as general taxation with a little doled out for road expenditure.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No car tax?

"this money goes to fixing the roads."

Sort of good idea but here's a better one.

All money paid in VED goes primarily to fixing roads. If and only if there's any left over does it go to the Treasury.

This was a tax previously known as the Road Fund Licence. That, obviously, was embarrassing once the Treasury decided to use it as a form of general taxation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No car tax?

" The issue is remembering it's due."

If you ignore the form DVLA send out headed "Vehicle tax reminder" in large friendly letters I doubt the tax disk will be a more effective reminder.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No car tax?

"the police is perfectly entitled to ask for a nicely formatted dump once a month."

Under what legislation are they entitled for this?

Kaspersky: Clumsy NSA leak snoop's PC was packed with malware

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


Thanks for the last paragraph - until then I thought your posting was ironical.

Such companies are in the business of protecting their customers from threats. Knowledge of such threats is a company trade secret. No successful business is going to share its trade secrets with anybody, not if it wants to remain successful. And I doubt the local state security organisation would ever consider reciprocating.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: What's implausible ...

"the thing that most surprises me is that a NSA staffer would be working on"

Cease being surprised. It's been stated often enough that it was a contractor.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Who to trust? NSA or Kaspersky?

"Putin doesn't get off his bear for less than an international incident!"

You really deserve two upvotes. One for that & one for the rest of the post.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Mocus! Found on the PC of Bickus Dickus!

"Why on Earth would the NSA of all people want to help create a more secure OS?"

To use themselves. Clearly they need it.

Slack apologises to Europe for TITSUP* services

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Told Intern To Suspend Uninterruptible Power

US govt to use software to finger immigrants as potential crims? That's really dumb – boffins

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Given that almost the entire US population consists of immigrants or descendants of immigrants it should be a very simple algorithm: guilty. Just accept a relatively few false positives and the job's done.

Amazon Key door-entry flaw: No easy fix to stop rogue couriers burgling your place unseen

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: My favorite part of having a home

"Amazon lockers are way more fun"

Also much cheaper for next day deliveries and, IME, deliveries tend to be made there earlier than home deliveries.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Why wouldn't the thief just take the obvious looking camera with them?"

Having already been recorded looking at the camera and reaching up to get it? Maybe because it's out of reach.

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