* Posts by fwthinks

12 posts • joined 18 Apr 2019

Now on Amazon Prime: The Amazing Shrinking UK Tax Burden


I am not disagreeing with your statements, but these miss the point. The rules are to ensure consistency across all businesses. However companies like Amazon have processes which are designed to specifically maximize the ability to benefit from these rules.

You may argue that this is something that all companies could do and also represents good financial management, but I suspect that many of these internet companies are using artificial structures which do not align with the real world reality of how the company is structured.

The bottom line is that the tax collection models are still based on 20th Century (and before) business model and the Internet has fundamentally thrown that model on its head. It will take years before a new tax model is developed that is able to cope with the way these companies operate.

The issue for me is not the level of tax that is levied, but ensuring that the tax burden for each company/person is fairly distributed. So local companies can compete fairly with multi-nationals.

Web body mulls halving HTTPS cert lifetimes. That screaming in the distance is HTTPS cert sellers fearing orgs will bail for Let's Encrypt


Re: Follow the money

Automation does not solve all the issues - you just move control of the certs from a person to a scheduled task but this process needs permissions to manage your certs and for example perform the LetEncypt challenge.

I am not saying it cannot be secured, but about understanding whether new risks are being created or existing risks being moved to another part of the process. So moving to a 3 month renewal could increase risks if you are not careful.

Y'know how everyone hated it when tuition fees went up? Cutting them now could harm science, say UK Lords


Up until a year or two ago, nursing degrees were free of tuition fees - which made sense as it would encourage people to take up nursing. Why anybody in government thought it was good idea to bump up the cost to 9K is beyond belief.

If we had any sort of intelligent government, you would adjust the fees for each type of course to address skills gaps. For example charge 20K a year for a media studies degree and use this money to cross subsidise STEM courses.

Of course you would need to change the student loan model - because at present, the cost of the course is fairly irrelevant to the majority of students who will never pay off their loan in full. Personally I believe that if you want to recover costs from graduates for their course, you need to to do this fairly and charge all graduates additional tax, not just the ones that cannot afford to pay upfront.

Cloud computing's no PICNIC*: Yep, biggest security risks down to customer, not provider


Re: Problem In Chair Not In Computer, says report

Essentially you (and they) are correct - the problem is with the people using the cloud service. However I would split the issue into two conflicting issues as I have sympathy for the IT people trying to secure their cloud environments

1. Management see cloud as a cheap and simple solution to reduce staff and therefore costs - i.e. we don't need a central team, we can just let the devs create and maintain their own infrastructure.

2. The cloud providers are engaging in a technology war to extend functionality and complexity. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep up to date with the changes and new features.

If you are trying to maintain an infrastructure platform which is constantly changing and evolving under you, then unless your company pumps money into keeping staff trained, and that platform maintained and secure, something has got to give.

Apple: Ok, ok, we'll stop listening in on your Siri conversations. For now, but maybe in the future

Big Brother

Re: What the article leaves out

I am willing to accept that each company does things differently, but they are all the same when it comes to explaining what happens behind the scenes - which is to try to hide or obfuscate the process as much as possible.

To whole discussion is about the human review of recordings, but this makes one big assumption - that they have sufficient controls around segregation of duties. While there may be external teams given some recordings, I hate to think about the number of people who would have access to the raw data just from an IT admin perspective.

Working in IT - I know that often what is recorded in the security policy does not align with reality. If Apple/Amazon/Google say they are strictly controlling access to this data - how would we know this is really true unless there was impartial review. So all we are left with is their word and unfortunately they all lost my trust years ago.

Official: Microsoft will take an axe to Skype for Business Online. Teams is your new normal


Re: Bow down and accept the One True UI

For years there has been the slow decline in what I would consider enterprise level applications. developers (or more likely managers) do not seem to know the difference between an app for a home desktop/tablet and one that needs to be deployed to thousands of users or deployed on critical central servers.

Its frustrating to think about the amount of times I have complained to vendors about simple issues such as forcing installation to specific folders, lack of ability to integrate with automation tooling or making assumptions on what features to enable without providing options to disable them.

Another common issue is this current view that products need a fast release schedule or create a new replacement from the ground up (i.e. teams & Skype for business). In a complex enterprise, it can take months/years to get platforms to a stable place. In what world does Microsoft (and others) believe they are creating any business value by forcing change for the sake of it. It is obviously the need to generate revenue driving this, but I cannot see how this will provide a long term benefit. If the software becomes to unstable or requires too much effort to keep updating, businesses will simply move to different products. The old model for Microsoft was application inertia - for example people use Office for years and it worked for them. So there was a lot of resistance to change. If you force people to change UI's / Apps too often, nobody will care anymore what vendor software you use.

Maybe I shouldn't complain, all this crap software is keeping me in a job until I retire.

It's happening, tech contractors: UK.gov is pushing IR35 off-payroll rules to private sector in Finance Bill


Re: Just asking (for a friend naturally)

Its an known issue - Loss Aversion.

If you have the money in your account and you need to pay the tax man, then you feel like you are losing something that you own - your are becoming poorer. However if you pay the tax upfront and you ask for a refund you feel like you are getting a bonus. However it will be very challenging moving from one model to another.

In the old days, I could understand giving people 9 months after the tax year is finished to finalise their accounts and pay due tax. However in this digital age, it doesn't make much sense. I would be in favor of reducing this for all companies. The biggest and most complex companies will have very good tax systems and know precisely what they are meant to pay. That is how the manage to reduce their taxes. The IT systems that manage this pay for themselves.

Vulture gets claws on Lego's latest Apollo nostalgia-fest


Design by Me

The pick a brick service is still there - much bigger range than they used to have and very reasonable. However they do not tend to make the rare pieces available which is a bit annoying.

The design by me service was shut in 2012 which allowed you to design your own 3d model and have a unique set box and instructions created. Very cool, but more expensive than normal sets. They shut it down because they said there was "quality" issues. Personally I would be surprised if the decision was driven by anything other than money.


DXC Technology warns techies that all travel MUST now be authorised


Travel requests

Typical travel discussion at DXC

Boss: I need to you to travel to customer site next week for an urgent meeting.

Me: OK, but can you approve my travel?

Boss: No, you need to submit a request for travel and justify your costs.

Me: But you want me to go, personally I don't want to travel

Boss: You have to follow the process or you need to explain to the customer why you can't make it.

Me: Ok - I have submitted the travel request, but it was rejected by your boss.

Boss: You need to contact them and explain why you need to travel

Repeat process for the next week until the customer makes a big fuss and eventually management relent and approves travel at the last minute forcing the company to pay more for the travel as only expensive tickets are available.

UK industry calls for delay of IR35 off-payroll tax rules to private sector


Re: I am HMRC's target

1) Flexibility has nothing to do with the amount of tax you should pay. If the tax law changes, then either the contractor needs to accept lower income or the company pays a higher rate. The tax man (and all other tax payers) should not need to subsidise the engagement by allowing a contractor to pay a lower tax rate than other people just to keep them in a job. That would be no different from the current system of tax credits for low paid work which just allows much lower rates than would be realistically required to live on.

2) There is nothing stopping your company paying your employee's (i.e. you) any benefits you want. The issue with the two tax systems is that you are both the employer and employee, you get to pick which approach is the most tax efficient. So you get the best of both worlds. I think you also overestimate the benefits and protections that permanent staff get - its very easy to get rid of people in the UK and the market trend over the last 20 years is to remove benefits - for example nobody offers a final salary pension now.

3) I agree that tax revenue may fall - but for different reasons. If a multi-national company employs someone in the UK, then they are not able to avoid tax by using international structures. So switching from contractor to permanent (in the UK) will not lower the tax revenue by itself. The real risk is that the company switches to a company like Wipro / TCS etc and the work is moved off-shore.

Apple won't be appy: US Supremes give green light to massive lawsuit over App Store prices


It's more like an duopoly / oligopoly, as between Google and Apple they dominate the mobile smartphone market.

Sometimes in duopoly this can help customers, for example AMD has historically restricted the ability of Intel to charge more for x86 processors. However when you have two or more businesses that work together, then things can go bad.

Even for a monopoly things can be unclear - there will be a period where the monopoly is great for consumers - for example Google maps is free. However sometimes you need to start breaking down the monopoly to avoid potential future consumer impact when prices are raised, but initially this just looks like you make thinks worse for the consumer. Unfortunately people tend to be very short sighted and don't see the long term benefit.

Yes, I may have advised 'some' investors to flog their Autonomy shares, analyst tells High Court


HP defense?

So several external analysts could work out that there were some funny goings on with Autonomy's accounts, but HP couldn't work this out during due diligence. Sounds like HP didn't do their job properly.

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