1029 posts • joined 25 Aug 2009
Re: Just the Usual...
@ Nick Kew "Surely there should be a healthy market for scanners and printers incorporating a metal detector that'll complain *before* potentially self-harming if fed a stash containing staples and paperclips?"
I suspect the market for selling new printers/scanners to replace the ones that got mashed by staples/paper clips is much healthier!
Re: Software that tells you why employees keep leaving
In my case the background questions were sufficiently granular to identify people (Business Unit, Group, age range IIRC). It's not clear if the ability to narrow down answers to individuals was baked in or just a consequence of having relatively small groups (I'd opt for the occam's razor explanation). I answered honestly regardless and I suspect the morale level meant I wasn't the only one who didn't care about the witch hunt potential. That said, as mentioned above, I don't see Paulf & Co changing a damned thing as a result of that survey.
There is a Dilbert to cover every situation - including this one.
Re: Software that tells you why employees keep leaving
I'm inclined to think that an employer that doesn't already know why it is losing employees hand over fist probably won't want to hear the cold hard truth of the matter. The more sadistic companies who know why people are leaving and don't care will only want to know so they can use it again in the future (coughs, IBM, coughs).
Even if someone does pipe up the courage to tell the HR droids and PHBs why people are scrambling for the exits, it'll be dressed up as if nothing is wrong and likely the employees are wrong/at fault. My place commissioned a survey of all employees to find out why morale was at Dilbert levels and people were leaving in droves. Unusually the results were published in all their gory details showing a happiness level in the 50s% (While I'm surprised it got that high - it should have set off major warning klaxons). This of course had nothing to do with historically poor pay, then three years of pain starting with a boardroom coup, deep cuts in everything, a long bitter restructuring, and masses of redundancies which all culminated in the break up and sale of the company. How did the company deal with this crisis it was facing? They introduced a reasonably generous bonus scheme which most people got fiddled out of making the problem worse. Then they went for the big guns: a series of emails offering the opportunity to get to know the executive team.
And then in the distance, in the direction of the board room, a shot rings out, followed by someone screaming they can't find their toes.
As for, "this means the marketplace is not competitive enough, and the government should start intervening."
I'm reminded of the saying that there is no situation so dire that it cannot be made worse through Government intervention.
I think you misunderstand the difference between Gross Profit and Net Profit (my simplified understanding is below). Retailers will generally aim for a gross margin of 40% which is not far off the 50% gross demanded by Maplin's banking covenants.
Gross Profit is the difference between how much it cost to buy the thing you've just sold and the amount you charged for it.
Net Profit = Gross profit less all business expenses (CapEx and OpEx)*
* - staff costs (inc salary), corporate functions (e.g. HR, purchasing), payments for buildings/vehicles and the like, taxation (business rates, tax on profits), other operational expenses like utilities (power, water, telephone, rubbish disposal), banking facilities (cost of credit/debit card merchant account and transaction processing, cash handling, cost of corporate banking facilities), cost of breaking bulk (buying 10,000 of something then storing them and distributing to stores while you sell them one at a time to customers). Then you have CapEx things like store refurbishment, buying+equipping new sites etc, closing unprofitable sites. This list isn't exhaustive and probably only scratches the surface.
Only once all that is paid do you have Net profit which is a lot closer to your 2% figure. A lot of that will be a payment to the business owners as a return on their investment (e.g. dividends to share holders) and some will be retained for future business development or paying down debt as it becomes due. There may also be exceptional charges on the accounts to cover (e.g. acquisitions, write off of goodwill, etc).
A company will need to generate a net profit higher than 2% otherwise they will struggle to attract capital/investors simply because of the "Why should I invest in your business and get a 2% return when I can invest in that other company with similar prospects and get a 5% return?" problem.
Note retailers will generally work on a 40% Gross Margin. How much of that percolates through to the Net Margin is quite another matter if only because they start to redefine Profit and they'll do accounting shenanigans like loading up with debt as explained here with Maplin. As explained by the article Maplin would have been reasonably profitable had it not been for all interest it had to pay on the debt it was loaded up with by its Private Equity owners!
There is also something to be said about not trusting things to the average delivery company. I used to buy blank DVDs at Maplin - their prices weren't significantly more than the equivalent at Amazon (this was a few years ago!) but made much more sense as the one time I bought from Amazon they sent the caketin of blanks in a big box with very little padding. By the time YoDel (or whatever) had played football with it and it got to me several of the discs were unusable so the whole lot had to go back for a refund. While I wasn't out of pocket it was still a hassle which made the Maplin surcharge fairly reasonable in comparison.
Re: Further reading
@ARGO Agreed - yes my term for 1. is more accurately used to refer to your 3. funding early stage companies (e.g. Pied Piper). That's just my way of trying to separate "Good" Private Equity (the 1. type) from the "Bad" Private Equity (the 2. type) even if the terms aren't quite accurate.
You're spot on with your assessment of 2. I guess there is an ample supply of greedy mugs out there?
Re: Further reading
As an aside I think of two types of private involvement in companies.
1. Buying up a tired or unloved company/brand, investing in it to restore it to good financial and business health, then selling it on at a profit as a stable going concern; where the profit is recompense for the hard work involved in restoring the fortunes of said company. (Rightly or wrongly I refer to this as venture capital)
2. Buying up a healthy company, loading it with debt to fund a bumper payout to the new owners, mortgaging any assets they can lay their hands on to fund more payouts, cutting CapEx and OpEx to the absolute bone to artificially flatter the accounts in the short term, then selling it on to some mug as quickly as they can before the whole house of cards collapses under the weight of its own debt, spiraling investment needs and imminently tanking revenues. (I look at this as Private Equity - this is what Maplin suffered from since at least 2001, along with many other companies on the high street).
For those who are interested in reading further about the story behind Maplin's demise this is a worthwhile article which includes the original mail order history. It is involved (like this story) but also a fascinating insight to what happened. (Spoiler alert: The die was likely cast back in about 2001 - "In fact it has been insolvent for a very long time. It is a zombie company.")
Re: Don't need a condom.....
Having a picture of a massive cock on a condom packet does make some sense I suppose?
@Ledswinger, "Why would anybody commission such a dreadfully run company to tell them how to do anything?"
Oddly enough IBM seem pretty popular among dreadfully run companies, so there could be a link:
Salesforce supremo Benioff buys Time magazine for $190m
He was over charged - it was only £3.50 in my local Newsagents
(Sorry - obvious joke).
Re: "Reviews" on e commerce sites
The problem is the reviews you never get to see because they were deleted before you got there.
I've been mentioning this in El Reg comments for a few years now when Amazon's marketplace comes up in a story. I'm just an average Joe in the street and I get requests to remove negative reviews: both items and sellers. In one case a seller called me up one evening out of the blue and offered a 50% rebate on the item if I retracted a negative review which stated the item sent mismatched the listing photo (while the item sent still did the job and this was acknowledged in the review it didn't reflect the picture and as it was £7 it wasn't worth sending back). Amazon do obscure buyer's email addresses but phone numbers are provided as part of the invoice and delivery details (along with your invoice and delivery addresses).
I always decline such requests as deleting justified negative reviews undermines the whole review system but I'm sure there are others who are more easily tempted by refunds and the like.
One thing is certain - Amazon will not deal with this problem - they'll only do enough to make it look like they're dealing with the problem.
Re: @ Waseem Alkurdi
@ Inventor of the Marmite Laser, "I guess he means summat a bit like Crown House (and one other I cant recall) who run TV transmitters,". IIRC:
BBC Transmission > CTXI > Crown Castle > National Grid Wireless > Arqiva
IBA (Transmission bit in Winchester) > NTL > Arqiva.
So Arqiva (owned by infrastructure funds like Macquarie) now owns pretty much all the broadcast infrastructure in the UK.
Icon, Non-ionising radiation etc.
Re: Head phone socket
Same here - I'll be sorting out a replacement battery for my 6S+ before the cheap offer ends in December. That should keep me going for a few more years yet. If it hadn't been for the removal of the headphone socket I'd probably have updated to the iPhone
7S 8 last year. It might be a small point for some but I found the early smart phones (HTC and iPhone that I know of, and I'm sure others) use of a standard headphone socket refreshing and genuinely useful compared to the Nokia practice of every handset using a different proprietary standard for the headset connector.
I'm just tired of the rehashed arguments against the headphone socket, "It's an obsolete standard", "use bluetooth headphones", "use the lightning to 3.5 jack adaptor", "It's brave innovation".
"It might be old but it's not obsolete - comparisons with floppy disks are misleading (floppy disk storage capacity was long eclipsed by user requirements but audio can still travel along copper wires that terminate in a jack plug which connects to near enough any audio device)", "I don't want to spend money on new headphones to replace my Sennheiser HD-25s that will be something else that needs regular charging, plus carrying another charger", "Why should I need an adaptor for the basic action of listening to music on a fucking £700+ phone?", "removing useful functionality is not innovation (unless you're Apple)".
The drive for market share
FTA: "In a research note today, RBC Capital explained that aggressive pricing is Vodafone's way of gaining share rapidly. "Vodafone’s market share in fixed is significantly below mobile across Europe."
That likely explains why I'm getting, with ever increasing desperation, postal flyers every other month plus marketing MMS messages about twice a month from them. They refuse to take the hint that I'm not interested because I already have a decent ISP that doesn't fuck about with my connection (either speed or content), gives me a fixed IP address, doesn't insist on using their own router etc etc.
@ Lord Elpuss, "So making it 'Off' as opposed to OFF might have been a motivator here - to reduce support calls from muppets."
I can understand that. I did see one suggestion that they could have used force touch here - tap for "Off", press hard tap for "OFF" but I did see something the other day suggesting Apple will not include force touch in coming handsets so perhaps they knew back then that method was a dead end...
Not entirely sure what the OP was referring to, but the comment about [iOS] 10 makes me suspect it's a reference to the
frustrating bug/problem feature where turning Wifi or Bluetooth off from the Control Centre only turns it off temporarily until the next day. To turn it off properly requires a visit to Settings. Before iOS 11, Off meant off even in the Control Centre. Apple claimed this change was to improve the customer experience - ho hum.
Re: Get a Power of Attorney
@Dr Dan "I would strongly advise obtaining a dozen or so legal copies [of the death certificate]". A good post throughout but this is spot on advice. Everyone and his dog wants to see the original death certificate before lifting a finger so if you've only got one you'll be years sorting everything out. Get 10 or so copies and the paperwork become much easier to plough through.
Re: Get a Power of Attorney
Respectfully, I'm not convinced on this (IANAL). When someone dies the executors of their estate gain control of it via the process of Probate assuming they don't die intestate (i.e. without a Will) which complicates things. Once the executors have completed the process of probate they can (along with a death certificate) gain access to the affairs of the deceased (things like ownership/possessions/property/financial affairs) so they can close down their estate. This is all done in writing so I suspect the problem you faced is that you tried to do this over the phone (the solicitor should have known better). I can understand the call centre droid declining to talk to someone on the basis of "The account holder has died, honest" even if the scripted reply sounds a bit odd. On the other hand I would be quite surprised if Tesco Bank were routinely disregarding the legal process of Probate without censure, and organisations like this usually have specialist bereavement teams to deal with this process. AIUI once the executors have completed probate an organisation like Tesco Bank could only challenge their access to the accounts by challenging the probate itself (again IANAL).
Re: He Just Wanted Love
Don't hold your breath.
In terms of ex-PM honours John Major was the last in 2005 (8 years after leaving No 10). Tony Blair is pending (left No 10 eleven years ago in 2007), as are Gordon Brown and David Cameron (left No 10 in 2010 and 2016 respectively). Until they figure out a way to make a PM gong for Blair palatable to all the people who didn't like him "Call me Dave" could be waiting a long time!
Re: If political parties want our personal information
That should include their proper home address, not the address of the small 1 bedroom flat they've rented (or bought on expenses) in the constituency to adhere to the letter of the rules.
Re: so installing critical security patches
@Stephanh, "Based on this, I would assume that the infected computers are Windows 7 "
FTA (Paragraph 2): "The malware struck on Friday, and affected a number of unpatched Windows 7 computer systems and fab tools over two days."
Please call them what they are
"members of the alt-
Frankly the strike through text in the article had it spot on in the first place. Perhaps I risk down votes for putting my head above the parapet on this, but the current fashion for calling the new generation of far right fascists "alt-right" (or even alt-reich), as if they're just another right of centre political grouping that deserves equal prominence in the interest of "balance" just masks their true cause + hateful aims, and risks legitimising them.
I hope the warning shot from the DEF CON Organisers works, and they can complete the conference successfully with plenty of constructive debate and no disruptive trolls.
Re: Will the parasite kill the host?
No, the hosts (Telcos) will simply charge their customers more for service to make up for the revenue lost to the OTT "Parasites". I guess that's when people find out their "Free" OTT service has another hidden cost beyond data slurp.
Re: Parking kiosk
They do it, not because it makes sense to anyone who sees the whole picture, but because it's considered an easy win and they assume putting up parking charges will not cause any change in behaviour.
Councils used to get about half of their income from central Gubmint as a grant. That's been reduced to nil over the last 8 years leaving them to either cut services or raise new revenues from somewhere other than Council Tax (they have to hold a referendum if the put up CTax by more than 5%). Some councils are so stuffed by the current situation they're struggling to provide the bare minimum (statutory) services. Faced with that I'm not surprised they're going after the "easy wins" even if it makes bugger all sense for the reasons you cite.
Re: Internet of Idiots
I think the point is that all of the desirable functionality you've mentioned (and I agree it makes a lot of sense in the case of your Father) can be provided without requiring an internet/Wifi connection, and the ability to phone home to a manufacturer or connect to a smartphone app.
Re: I like Fastmail
I've been with Fastmail for 4 years now (I have two accounts, with a third for the parental units) since I moved away from the "cost free, and privacy free" services like Gmail and Y! Mail. They've been spot on with reliability which makes yesterday mornings near three hour total collapse stand out all the more.
Yes, it costs money, but the web interface is pretty slick, and they allow lots of stuff to be configured far beyond the free services do. Also their support is pretty damned good - not something you can say about Google!
As an aside, about three years ago I had a complicated support problem which ended up getting third line tech support from Bron Gondwana (yes he did resolve it). Hopefully this means he's not just a random suit but understands both the business and the tech side.
@ Derezed, Your pension provider is probably looking over their shoulder at the strict rules on verifying identity to prevent money laundering. That said the application of these rules varies wildly - some are happy to have a utility bill and a bank statement (I suspect difficult enough for many in the El Reg readership who get these electronically). In your case they've applied the rules much more strictly.
Best of luck with your complaint. In your case with the marketing muppets they definitely have no right to ask for all that stuff and they know it. IANAL but you might like to look up the DPA clause that notes data processors should only collect and process data directly relevant to the matter in hand. Asking for passport and DL is way beyond that level IMO. Unfortunately the ICO tend to be like this too - you have to give them lots of identifying information to make a complaint against the spamming slime.
Re: Mac sales declined nine per cent over the quarter
@ Gordon 10, "Fixed batteries have been a MacBook staple for years with little discernible impact on sales."
You're right but it's the degree to which things have been fixed inside that has most definitely changed.
My old Mid-2010 17" MBP can have it's battery swapped at home - unscrew the back, unplug old battery, plug in new battery and screw the back in to place again. It's not something you can do on a regular basis but it is a world away from the latest MBPs with their batteries glued in place inside and near enough impossible for someone to replace at home.
Units of Apple profit
Apple's latest results (Apple laughing all the way to the bank – with profits of $5.3m per hour) suggest that at the rate given in the story ("...imposed a penalty of $25,000 per day on Apple...") Apple could have held out for 212 days on just an hours profit. I wonder how much the lawyer time cost in comparison to get that penalty reversed...
Also "Even so, Intel may be hoping to delay document production until September, when the new iPhones debut, as a way to curry favor with Apple.". Assuming this is true I wonder how favourably Apple will look on Intel when it comes to whether they make the much predicted shift to ARM processors for macOS. Not much I imagine...
From toothbrushes to coffee makers to computers: Europe fines Asus, Pioneer, Philips for rigging prices of kit
Re: They're still at it!
I always thought different retailers having the same units, with the same base model number, but appended with very slightly different suffixes which vary in each retailer was to protect retailers, rather than the manufacturers. It meant a retailer could claim you won't find this model cheaper elsewhere - then when another retailer discounts that model they simply point out the single character difference in the model number and their promise holds (to the letter, but perhaps not the spirit).
Re: Customer Delight Providers
If some jumped up MBA type PHB (or shyster HR skank, for that matter) changed my job title from something meaningful to "Customer Delight Providers" the dying embers of their lifeless corpse would be in the bottom of a skip by the end of the day; their only company being the charred remains of the piss stained mattress, which every skip seems to contain, that was cremated with them.
Sorry, It's been a long week and I think we ran out of Coffee by Wednesday afternoon.
Re: Nothing wrong wirh reusing passwords
About 8 years ago a system I use regularly started enforcing password changing via AD. There was much grumbling as the change timer is about 3 months and the old password cannot be a prefix of the new password which immediately rules out changing totalBollocks to totalBollocks1. Then someone pointed out to me that adding numbers into the password means it's treated as a completely different password. Thus:
are all unique passwords.
This has served me well for the last 20 odd password changes.
Re: Google braced for giant Android fine from EU
@andy 103: "I came on The Reg to see if they'd actually covered the main story - a record breaking fine for Google. But no, plenty more people give a shit about an undersea cable, apparently. They'll probably report it in a few weeks, when they've woken up."
Resident Google Critic Andrew Orlowski published this at lunchtme: Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave
US voting systems (in Oregon) potentially could be hacked (11 years ago) by anybody (in tech support)
"election management system"
With the current ongoing revelations about Facebook, Cambridge Anal, the Trump/Brexit campaigns and the like, I suspect this phrase is now used to describe something a lot more chilling...
Unusual Promotional method
"websites that let football fans watch clips of beefy lycra-clad men inflicting violence on each other:"
Perhaps they could aim that kind of advertising strapline at the porn market to get even more $$$?
Re: Not everybody will forgive and forget
That page on the ARM website now 404s. Again Fat Freddy's Cat is correct in referring to the Internet archive:
Re: What about disturbing others?
@Flywheel, "start eating their bowls of breakfast cereal making it sound like a greasy spoon caf."
Now that is nasty - people who eat in open plan offices when others are trying to work. A personal bug bear because the guy opposite me likes eating cereal. Some people do eat at their desks and either do so during lunchtime or quietly at other times. He
eats slurps cereal most days with his mouth open so the whole damned floor can hear it - and seems completely oblivious to this being in any way wrong. Oblivious or a sociopath so should be promoted to manglement any time soon.
Oh and people who have serious problems with personal hygiene such that they stink out the whole office (you'll not be surprised that the same guy appears in that one too!)
Icon - Why bother with passive aggressive when actual aggressive is much more effective!
That story is a classic - I've just been quietly crying with laughter at my desk, getting funny looks from the boss:
"A metal thief who was seriously injured after sawing through a cable carrying 11,000 volts has been ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work. [...] Paisley Sheriff Court heard how Durnan was left "looking like the professor from the Back To The Future movie". [...] There was an explosion as he sawed through the cable at about 06:50. [...] Despite being severely injured, Durnan managed to go to a nearby house for help and was unable to talk."
Can you imagine a mute Doc Brown showing up on your doorstep, smouldering away? That does suggest a real prize though - connecting politicians and irritating schlebs to an 11kV line might stop them talking also.
Re: re: cops taking a moment to think
@Loyal Commenter "Also Clown Prosecution Service."
Please state your name: "Giggles the Clown"
And how do you plead to the multiple charges of: Not having a big red foam nose, Having sensibly sized shoes that don't squeak, driving a car with properly attached doors, and going not equipped with a bucket of glitter ?
You are hear-by sentenced to 10 custard pies in the face. You will then be released on license and will be required to wear trousers that randomly fall down when around children...
Re: re: cops taking a moment to think
@ MiguelC, and I'm not sure much has changed since then other than stopping the police from marking their own homework when prosecutions were moved to the CPS in 1986. It's stories like this that make me relieved firearms are not issued to normal Police in the UK (except pepper spray which is classified as a firearm apparently).
People complain extensively about criminals but I'd say that was very public spirited for a hardened felon to take time out of his busy schedule to install Christmas lights as part of their heist on a bank, from the roof, in broad daylight! Perhaps Her Majesty's finest could take a lesson or two from these so called ne'er do wells.
Alternatively these cops could have taken a moment to wonder why an alleged criminal was busy installing Christmas lights rather than something a bit more naughty, like cracking the safe with a stethoscope? But, as you say, it was the 1980s!
Re: rural parochialism
"Even the Prime Minister seems to have this idea.......Makes her sound like she's never left the village she grew up in."
Perhaps if she hadn't left the village she grew up in she'd be happily running through wheat fields and the country may have a proper leader* as PM. You know, someone who could stop the growing divisions in the country; whereas the current PM seems unable to unify and lead her own parliamentary party, never mind the rest of the country.
*Note a criticism of the current lot shouldn't be taken as an implicit approval of the other lot.
Atari accuses El Reg of professional trolling and making stuff up. Welp, here's the interview tape for you to decide...
Isn't CYA* a good life lesson at all times anyway? Quietly apply it to your every day life; you never know when you may need it, but when you do you'll be glad you have it. Many a time it has got me out of a sticky situation and adversaries really hate it when you hit back with facts and evidence!
*Cover Your Arse for the uninitiated
Re: Maybe they could fix their fucking billing first ?
At least you still have online billing in some form.
I'm on a very old Orange Value Plan tariff (the old Virgin EQ tariff that replicated the Virgin Mobile pay monthly plan of the early naughties - no line rental just pay for calls i.e. Pre-pay charges but with monthly billing instead of top-ups). It's an old number that I want to keep going at the lowest cost possible (I pay about £3/month for a few texts and voice mail calls) and it's handy to give to companies who demand a number as it means they don't disturb my main number. Inexplicably EE turned off the Orange online portal back in January and pushed me back to paper bills by post. How's that for progress?