* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16427 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Stop forcing benefits down my throat and give me hard cash, dammit

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Everybody who is currently being paid more than minimum wage has bargaining power, by definition."

The corollary is that those being paid the minimum wage (or less!) don't have bargaining power. And there are plenty of those.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Great idea!

"When is the firm the correct structure, when the network of contractors?"

Why consider these as alternatives?

Ideally a firm would like a predictable workload growing at a manageable rate. To deal with that it would ideally like a predictable workforce.

In practice it gets neither. Workload varies as orders or contracts come along or end. The workforce varies as people quit and have to be replaced, take annual or parental leave or fall ill. The fit of available employees to work is statistically noisy.

A sensible way of dealing with that would be to set target employee levels to deal with average workloads and availability or maybe a bit lower and fill the gaps with some form of contract staff. In some cases these may be employees of an agency in others freelancers. In effect this is fitting larger amounts of work than a single firm could provide with a larger workforce than a single firm could employ; as the numbers get bigger the noise become less in proportion. The individual firms have the benefit of a core workforce used to working together and used to the firm's way of working and for the workers there's a choice of employee benefits or flexibility depending on what they value.

(Yes, I know this doesn't take into account economic fluctuations which affect lots of firms at the same time but that's going to be a problem for any system.)

Historically what we've had is a tax system designed and administered by permanent employees who simply don't get the notion that there are alternatives. (Actually some of them do get it but they then leave to become self-employed tax advisors so the system remains run by permies.) The result is that they came up with IR35 to pretend that only employees exist. This blurring of the distinction resulted in the notion that there could be a class of people who could be treated as employees when it suited the engager but denied any employment rights and hence we get zero hour [employment] contracts. And it's abuses such as this latter situation that the then IR's then political mouthpieces said that IR35 was meant to prevent.

What we need to realise is that the permanent employee, the agency employee and the freelance contractor operating as a bona fide business all have valuable roles to fill.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Technical point

"I get all of the cash that any employer is willing to offer me as that cash."

If an employer is paying you you're an employee. If you're not an employee the person paying you can't be an employer. "Engager" is a sufficiently neutral term. It might seem to be overly technical or a matter of semantics but it's such loose use of language that enables HMRC and the like to sell the lack of distinction to whichever politician is working for them this year.

It's bad enough that many commentards don't get the distinction. It's even worse that a good number of contractors don't. But Tim really should know better.

Windows 10: Buy cheap, buy twice, right? Buy FREE ... buy FOREVER

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Re: Why free?

"What Microsoft want is for everyone to take their five year old PCs and laptops, upgrade to Win10 ... and then find that the drivers are a problem, the memory needs increasing, the processor isn't up to it etc"

If so they may be disappointed. I ran the preview on an early Atom Mini-ITX board which is pretty basic H/W. The only driver issue was for an HP printer which I solved by downloading the 8.1 version from HP. As a matter of interest it would run Lotus Smartsuite (installed in backward compatibility mode) which I installed as a prerequisite for one of the old Office 97 competitive upgrade installs, also running in compatibility mode.

Will it tempt me to migrate back from Linux? No. Migration from Linux will be to BSD.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Free you say?

@ bobgameon

As far as I can make out what you say about costs is correct for those taking the free upgrade. It will only cost if you delay more than a year.

But the odd thing is the two, apparently contradictory, statements coming out of MS: this is the last version of Windows & there's an EOL already set. The "last version" implies that it will be rolling updates from here on in - they were already talking about that when they were calling it Windows Blue. But if there's an EOL set what happens after that?

What will likely drive Windows>Linux migration for home users isn't 10* but XP EOL. If there'd been a free Windows upgrade path the home XP users they'd have taken it. As it is at least some of them are moving to Linux. I migrated a couple of very ancient boxes for a cousin in law. LibreOffice opens their Works files, Firefox is faster than IE. That's all they want.

I think what's changing is the public perception that PC = Windows.

*OTOH privacy concerns with 10 might be a driver as might an upgrade that borks a lot of boxes.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Kudos for the 1970's music reference

"Kudos, a classic wank/bullshit bingo word."

Not in your dictionary? Get a better one. It's Greek, borrowed into English many years ago. More classical than classic.

Windows 10 marks the end of 'pay once, use forever' software

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Business market?

"A few folks might go for Linux/x86 as a low cost interim measure if they have a nearby geek, but as there is little or no money to be made for/from home Linux users, I don't personally expect this to be the start of a volume rollout of Linux/x86 in the home market."

You think not? What if W10 doesn't appeal to the home user & you're a H/W manufacturer? You need an OS to load on your boxes in order to sell them. There's money to be made from home Linux users by selling the HW.

UK.gov wants to stop teenagers looking at tits online. No, really

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: In the end this is about taxation...

"fill in the forms and return them (by post!)"

No, return them via a .gov.uk site that falls over the day it goes live.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"He either reads The Daily Fail, his advisors read and believe The Daily Fail, or he is pandering to the idiots who read The Daily Fail."

Cue reminiscences of the Yes Prime Minister speech on newspaper readers remembering, of course, that the last sentence was "People who read the Sun don't mind who runs the country so long as she has big tits."

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 5 minutes

"I give it 5 minutes after the "blockade" is put in place before someone puts a blog post up explaining how to bypass said blockade."

I can do that now & don't need a blog.

Q: Are you over 18?

A: Yes

Contractors who used Employee Beneficiary Trusts are in HMRC's sights

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I'd have regarded such an arrangement as being in the "not even with a bargepole" category.

Of course it's quite possible to get some off-shore arrangements past HMRC but it helps if you do business with them, e.g. buy their property & then lease it back to them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Pay your tax like everyone else

Can your friend prove that HMRC had full and accurate details of the arrangement which they'll probably deny.

HMRC have an unlimited supply of brass neck. IIRC iIn the LimeIT case the investigator wrote a 2 page apology to the tribunal admitting he handled the case wrongly but still insisted that he was right.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

" in reality were indistinguishable from employees"

at first glance indistinguishable from employees of the engaging company but in reality had no employee rights from that engager and had to make their own equivalent arrangements


It's really amazing how many permies thought that but somehow never took the freelance path themselves.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Isn't there a human rights law that states that new laws cannot be applied to events that predate those laws? Possibly that's only criminal law - not sure."

ISTR that at some point the Labour government introduced legislation which allowed HMRC to move the goalposts on taxation retrospectively.

'Fix these Windows 10 Horrors': Readers turn their guns on Redmond

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Re: MIcrosoft manichaeism

"Forcing updates onto them is the stupid idea I have ever seen - especially drivers updates, but not only. It's not only IT professional but many others who may work self-employed or in very small companies with a few devices and no domains."

No, they're not forcing updates onto them. They're forcing repurchase of the Pro or enterprise versions.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No Control of Updating

"So I'm staying with Windows 7 for the foreseeable future, and at least until MS comes back to its senses and allows us as users/power users/admins control of exactly what updates get onto a PC."

What MS is saying is that you can have a free-update from your W7 Pro but only to something you don't really want. If you want W10 Pro you've got to buy it again. This is MS. Did you really think they'd changed their spots?

Google turns cookie monster on AdSense, DoubleClick clients

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Re: Google should stop passing the buck, and support Do Not Track

Just this.

The thought that was running through my mind when reading the article is that this is what DNT is for. Insist that sites respect DNT and you really shouldn't need to bother with working out suitable texts.

SPUD – The IETF's anti-snooping protocol that will never be used

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Thumb Up

"the absolute intent is that we throw this protocol away"

There speaks a man who's read TMMM.

Bloke cuffed for blowing low-flying camera drone to bits with shotgun

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Re: 40mm Glock

"So, if the drone fell on somebody after being shot down, would the bloke with the gun be liable?"

s/drone/bits of drone/

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I sort of agree

"On the other hand the guy sounds like a bit of a dick."

Dicks all round AFAICS.

Tired tablets don't tickle the imagination, so sales fall again

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" bad news for fondleslab fans: sales are down and the market is fragmenting."

No, it's not bad news for fans, just for vendors. Or do you mean the only fans are the vendors?

US to rethink hacker tool export rules after mass freakout in security land

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At least there's one gummint dept on the planet that's capable of hearing when being told they're wrong. Now let's hope they go back to whoever cooked up the original, gives them a good kicking and asks them WTF they were thinking of in the first place.

Hurrah! Uber does work (in the broadest sense of the word) after all

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Again?

"We are all being returned to a pre-industrial status, where people are merely factors of production, and the (very) few capital owners are not encumbered by government 'interference'"

By pre-industrial I suppose you mean before the introduction of the factory system. What do you mean by "factors of production". In pre-industrial society craftsmen generally enjoyed a much higher status than they did under the factory system. It was the loss of that status that provoked the Luddite riots.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Bandits

It's the stationery bandits you have to worry about. They smother you with paperwork.

Mine's the one with the triplicate invoice book in the pocket.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

@ J.G.Harston

Thanks for a knowledgeable comment. But although the requirements for driver & vehicle licensing are well spelled out & sensible it's difficult to see why the requirement exists for a dispatcher to be licensed. This appears to be an area where technology could improve - for instance the suggestion of an app displaying current locations of taxis to ensure service. The dispatcher licensing appears to be an impediment to such improvement.

Windows 10: A sysadmin speaks his brains – and says MEH

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Re: No longer my PC

"Thank the man in the sky that I have five years before the move to Linux Mint."

Why wait? Or move to BSD.

A third of workers admit they'd leak sensitive biz data for peanuts

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Re: Opinion poll

"There's a world of difference between what people tell pollsters and that they would actually do."

And part of this is due to the prior questions asked. We're not told what these were in this case.

W3C's failed Do Not Track crusade tumbles to ad-blockers' Vietnam

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Re: if they dont understand DNT

'Or simply

"I have no money and don't buy things"'

Or a flag that says "I have money and I buy things but if you shove an advert in my face I'll go out of my way to buy from someone else."

My preference is still for an add-in that, subject to a maximum bandwidth allowance, will accept some ads & send them straight to /dev/null. Everyone wins: the user doesn't see the ads, site and advertising network get paid because they don't know the ad wasn't seen and the advertiser doesn't lose potential sales by pissing off the users.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Do not eat

'"There is no benefit whatsoever to websites to pay attention to it."

Did you read the article? The benefit to advertisers is that users won't disappear behind their own privacy tools.'

That assumes that the advertising industry indulges in intelligent thought.

Malvertising campaign hits 10 MEELLION users in 10 days

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Presumably malvertising is going to result in legal action sooner or later. Who will be held liable? The site? The ad-network? Will anyone along the chain start taking action before the writ arrives?

Chat about Safe Harbour all you like, the NSA's still the stumbling block

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the European Parliament called for it to be suspended. The commission has stopped short of doing that and instead is re-negotiating the deal."

Re-negotiating would have been much quicker (i.e. less then infinite time) if they'd suspended it in the interim.

As the saying goes, when you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.

Ballmer's billion-dollar blunders: When he gambled Microsoft's money and lost

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Re: Repeat after me...

"XP came *after* ME!"

But it never caught me.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Hmmm @Mage

"we've got all this legacy code"

Often translates as: "It's paying the bills".

That's a powerful argument.

Note: I am not & never will be a VB6 coder.

That doesn't matter. You can find legacy code in all sorts of languages paying the bills, including the wage bill of its deriders as they work on all that new shiny - which, if it's good enough, will become legacy code in due course.

Today's smart home devices are too dumb to succeed

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"I purchased a Beurer connected scale, which dutifully records my weight, BMI and percentage body fat to my iPhone and HealthKit."

Some people are beyond help.

So what the BLINKING BONKERS has gone wrong in the eurozone?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Sorry for the rant, but...

"Most of us have heard about the CPI and the RPI (with RPI including housing and energy if I remember correctly and is therefore higher than the CPI, which is why G.Brown got rid of it to hide his real inflation)."

I find it difficult to believe that he was consciously using it to hide inflation; I can only assume he thought it was a real measure. Although this may seem an irrational thought it would have been nothing like as irrational as believing RPI was a better measure of inflation and still letting the housing bubble grow.

Happy birthday Alf Garnett, you daft, reactionary old git

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Tony Booth...

"Till Death was very un PC"

No it wasn't. It couldn't have been. The entire PC concept hadn't been thought of so there was no un PC for it to have been.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Dandy Nichols' comic timing deserves a mention. Else would occasionally puncture Alf's rhetoric with a beautifully delivered withering one-liner.

It’s DEJA VU: Customer forgets to tell us about essential feature AGAIN

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Re: You can probaly blame

"And they know exactly where to get those blue carpet squares and everything else for a knock down price..."

Probably the ones they lifted in the previous refurbishment.

How British spies really spy: Information that didn't come from Snowden

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Re: David Anderson

"Personally I have nothing to hide"

No online banking? No Ebay, Paypal, Amazon etc. accounts that you have to log onto?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: OK, let me get this straight..

"It's not illegal to use the services of a US-based provider to store EU customer data as long as that company is certified under the EU-US Safe Harbour agreement."

Nor is it illegal to brew your tea in a chocolate teapot.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: OK, let me get this straight..

"For anyone that thinks having your own BOFH will lead to better security of your company just remember this:

Snowden was a BOFH and that didn't work out so well for his employer's data security."

Nevertheless, better the BOFH you know....

Crazy Chrysler security hole: USB stick fix incoming for 1.4 million cars

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: supply and demand

"There's a concern of a cornered market."

I don;t know about the US but in Europe there's a good deal of regulatory stuff that new vehicle designs need to pass. Regulations about the isolation of safety-critical systems need to be added to this. That would avoid problems with future designs but getting it made retrospective might be difficult. With such regulation in place there'd be no issues about cornered markets; non-compliant vehicles wouldn't get into the market and manufacturers would have to start paying attention to introducing security at the design stage.

NHS England backs down over another data extraction scheme

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Meanwhile the e-referrals service is going from strength to ???

Back in June I had a letter from the GP to make an appointment giving one of three possibilities

Went onto the site & put in the credentials. Not recognised.

Phoned the 0345 number instead. Amazing! They could get onto the system. Made an appointment & a few days later an appointment letter came followed by a cancellation in the next post saying another appointment would be made.

Last week, having heard nothing I phoned the hospital.

They explained the appointment had been made with the wrong clinic but couldn't log on to make another.

Rung back today & told there were no appointments available as yet.

As another hospital had been included in the original list I went back online to see if I could rebook with that. Amazing! I could get online!

System then told me that a completely different clinic had been notified & they should have been in contact by several days ago. Name and address of clinic given but only the choose & book general phone number.

Went back to the GPs secretary. She finds that the clinic is on answerphone...

NHS should really concentrate on getting its essential IT services running properly instead of playing with trendy Big Data.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

After all the fuss they've walked into by now you'd have expected them to have learned some lessons. But no.

Experience is a dear teacher but there are those who will learn by no other. It's time to start making things dear for CEOs & the like. For their own good, of course. It will help them learn.

AI finally understands primitive sketches – aka marketing presentations

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This makes a big assumption...

...namely that there's actually any meaning in marketing and other creatives' presentations in the first place.

Jeep drivers can be HACKED to DEATH: All you need is the car's IP address

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Re: Security should be baked in at the start.

"Aren't these simple questions to ask at design time?"

Probably. And the questioner gets branded as a trouble maker & told he's being negative.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

At the local filling station the other day:

One slot was occupied by a big, unattended SUV - I think it may have said Jeep on the back but not being interested in mobile bricks I didn't take too much notice. The slot continued to be occupied by it; nobody came out of the shop to drive it away. When I went in to pay I asked the attendant what was happening. It turned out that the driver had put in the wrong fuel and consequently (maybe because the engine wouldn't run) the handbrake couldn't be released.

IT as a profit centre: Could we? Should we?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Not a bad idea on the surface but reality stinks.

"Then we started acquiring "related companies" and things spiraled out of control. They merged our systems and ended up with us hosting them and fielding all service calls. The problem was that our systems and programs were many and varied and dealing with support was a struggle."

It looks as if the costs of integration should have been considered before the acquisition and allowed for in the price paid.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Not if what you get for your money turns out to make it harder to run the business. Bean counters sometimes appear to want caviar for fish-finger prices."

I've always thought that the best response to this attitude is 'OK, we'll turn it all off for a week to see how much money you can save.'

Robot surgeons kill 144 patients, hurt 1,391, malfunction 8,061 times

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: How does it compare to human-only surgery?

"we're still trying to get a number, it's non-trivial"

I'd have thought more or less impossible. How do you put together a set of control events with which to compare? That's a problem which is plaguing surgeon league tables.

What's really concerning is the fact that they seem to have had problems in getting adequate accounts, a problem clearly exacerbated by liability questions: it's going to impede improvement. Where life is clearly at risk - something which would apply to medical devices more generally - there needs to be a mandatory report/analyse/modify feedback loop.

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