Learned in all the jobs so far: don't be too honest; it will b[iy]te you in the place where you most likely do not want to experience hurt.
When you start a new job, you always want to impress the boss by going the extra mile (or kilometer). But doing so can risk incurring the wrath of co-workers. Which brings us to this week's edition of Who, Me? and a tale contributed by a reader we'll call "Edgar" who was but a young wet-behind-the-ears apprentice back in the …
Yup. Saved a client $10M, got 'engineered' out of the company (the usual: put on impossible jobs and then given a 'Performance Improvement Program' to ward off being sued for constructive dismissal) because some people in the company had already been spending that lucre on themselves despite that being a total ripoff.
The idea is to save on termination time*. Didn't work in my case because I saw this coming a mile off. As being taken to court for such means the loss of juicy government contracts they bailed pretty quickly.
*If any newbie here ever gets the idea that HR is there for staff, here's a tip: they are not. They're there to protect the company. No exceptions found so far.
They do protect the company by protecting the staff when it's actually illegal for them not to...
It's a bit of a toss up when that will occur though, because it depends on the HR person actually knowing those laws.
Seen it work in a big company that's already been sued (and settled for $bignum) for breaking employee protection laws, but there aren't many of those.
I sometimes find being excessively honest is better than fudging things, especially when what you're being honest about seems a bit over the top or excentric/bizarre since in many cases people just don't believe you and think it's just a joke ot bravado.
A classic when fixing computers - "Should I get the 3lb Forge Hammer from the car?" - Most people just think it's a joke but those that really know me know it's not. Yes, I do carry one in the car, for removing wheels when they get stuck - well, that's the official line and I'm sticking to it.
Best part is that if someone calls your bluff in these circumstances you can prove it (and I have - several times).
Those are different lies. Lies to hide incompetence. Those usually don't last long.
The lies up for debate here are ones that are used to mask extra-curricula activity. These lies can last for years and it's common in tech.
For example, for years I worked at an MSP that only did support in office hours. I had an arrangement with quite a few clients that would enable me to log tickets during office hours, go to the client after hours, do the work and get paid in that cold hard "jack dash", then turn up for work 30 minutes late the next day because "I had been to see a client before work".
The 30 minutes was necessary because some sort of time log was required to account for the work mysteriously being done. It meant the client had to pay the MSP rate for that 30 minutes or so, but could pay me directly out of hours at half the MSP rate (which was very high indeed). Everyone was a winner...me because I was being paid way more per hour than my employer was paying, the client saved about 50% and my employer got to love in blissful ignorance.
Gotta love it when a business thinks it's spending tons of money on sales and marketing on itself but is actually just a sales funnel for one or two rogue techies.
MSPs out there reading this, yes some of your staff are on the fiddle...no it's not him, nope not that one in the suit either...yeah the quiet one over there dressed like a tramp with a £3000 laptop.
Also that guy...yeah the one in sales that only ever limps over his targets bit somehow has the nicest car in the team...he's probably in on it too.
Weeeeellllll, strictly speaking wouldn't it be "Chefs' kiss", i.e. the "kiss of chefs" (chefs plural), rather than the kiss of one individual chef?
I'm happy to be talked down on that point, but it does remind me of a protracted argument across multiple issues of Private Eye magazine about whether a popular PE column on the topic of picky corrections should be titled "Pedants corner", "Pedant's corner" or "Pedants' corner".
In the end the magazine renamed the column "Pedantry corner".
"the quiet one over there dressed like a tramp with a £3000 laptop."
If I worked there and bought myself a nice new laptop, I sure as hell wouldn't bring it into work!
If my 9-5 job requires such a laptop (phone, breakout box, TDR, VOM, wirewrap gun, screwdriver, bigger hammer, or any other tool) my employer can damn well provide it! If I have to provide the hardware, I'm a consultant, and you will pay me accordingly.
Tech professionals tend to provide their own tools and toys to carry out their job. Those that don't get paid a lot less and are usually not well equipped.
You can tell when a tech professional is using kit provided by the company he works for because they are usually marked with "Rolson" or "Amazon Basics" and they carry more than one of them in case they break.
In some cases though you can be a professional that provides your own tools and still be underpaid. Ask any Virgin installation engineer and take a look at his vast collection of blunt drill bits that he tunnels through the front of someones house with.
I really feel sorry for those guys, my local Virgin guy was really struggling, i watched him faff around with his busted tools for about half an hour...he was a young black guy in his mid twenties from South London somewhere, nice lad, he was being paid fucking peanuts and his equipment was shot to bits and his boss was raging at him on the phone to hurry up. I felt that sorry for him, that I gave him a spare hammer drill and a box of fresh drill bits to sort him out, I let him keep them. Poor guy looked like he was going to cry. Apparently, he worked for a firm that Virgin sub-contracted to and Virgin only provided the uniforms and vans. His employer provided a basic toolkit (heavily used and worn out) and that was it.
The problem is people think this outdated oppressive logic only applies to the workplace. That you should only meter your honesty in business. Religion, science, government and family are included especially.
Your comment is a prime example of taking your oppressive experiences in life and attempting to preoppress and limit other impressionable minds from going further than the mental limits you have established for yourself.
A typical boomer mentality. That has learned nothing but how to build a box, lure others in and use every trick imaginable to keep people from leaving. So you're not alone.
The real reality is that you are always alone. No one here is your friend. Anybody who says otherwise is literally being dishonest.
Even into the 1990s, 20 years after decimalisation, we would still receive the odd bank book now and again that hadn't been converted and it always seemed to be me that got them. We did a simple conversion on them so, for example, if the balance was £1 2s 3d, then they got £1.13 back (1 x pound, 2 x 5p and 3 x 1p).
I actually quite enjoyed seeing these old books and the customers always had a wee chuckle at the "fortunes" that they were getting back. After all, they'd only just found the book after being hidden or lost for all those years, so it was a windfall no matter how small. (And they were always small!)
45ish years ago, my brother bought a house in Ukiah, California. When they connected the telephone, he was surprised to discover that it was the same number as the prior owner ... something about limited numbers at the exchange. He still gets calls for that family occasionally ... and snail-mail. He takes a message on the phone calls and passes them along as a courtesy (they are friends), and uses the junk snailmail as fire starter. Xmas cards, wedding announcements/invites and the like get forwarded. Yes, after 45ish years. It would seem that some people who supposedly know the former owner STILL haven't updated their address book.
That's from the old, unconnected world.
Kind of makes me wonder how long the data that metaface, alphagoo, redmond, cupertino, amazon, etc.collect on everybody and everything that they can is going to be valid (and sellable), especially after a fair percentage of it becomes staler than last month's bread. Methinks a good deal of it is already quite stale ... What's the critical percentage of stale to valid before it's useless? Or do marketing "geniuses" care about that kind of thing?
For 3 years I was Deputy President of a national youth charity.
I used to get all of the usual 'boring' mail associated with such a position, but none of the 'interesting' invitations to attend or judge at events.
I was getting mail and so I was told that nothing was wrong - OK, I must be persona non grata.
Eventually, I found out what was going on: 'boring' mail was produced by one set of people and the 'interesting' invitations by another set. And the 'interesting' group had a mail address from when I was a County Chairman 20 years earlier and so had been sending all the mail there until they got bored with me not answering (despite the fact that I met them many times in person during that period and they assured me they were sending everything!)
A head did roll and now there is a single centralised database of members (and where they have requested to remain) ex-members.
Not to criticize, but part of the problem is that the old address/number still "works" - you're a reliable forwarder.
People can keep truckin' along without noticing anything has changed.
If important stuff started not being delivered, then people would investigate and change their address.
25 years after we moved by old house still gets Christmas cards for me. Despite sending out messages to everyone who we knew that we were moving, and following up all cards with a note saying we have moved, including a card with our new address on it.
Eventually I called one lady who kept sending cards to the wrong address: "Oh, I thought you were joking". WHAT When I have been sending you change of address for 1/4 of a century? Thats a new form of stubborn.
My other half's dad died over 20 years ago (I'll regomise him as Gerald). I took over the phone number for use in the office in case someone from the past phoned up.
I still get calls from people with a sub-continental accent saying 'hello hello, is that Gerald, it is BT calling we have noticed someone using your wifi'. Repeat with many many other scam attempts.
What I don't get is that I've never ever fallen for it, but I still get the calls. They don't learn.
Sometimes I get bored and give them an invented credit card number using my 'old man who can't find his glasses' routine. Or pretend to be from another call centre and tell them they can get a discount on a new boiler
"They don't learn."
Even when you abuse them enough to get them irate - they still ring again a few days later.
I'm just hoping that the BT "scam caller" form really does get used to identifye traceable accounts that can be blocked. Obviously not the International ones or VOIP gateways - but "withheld" or spoofed UK numbers are presumably originating in the UK system. The latest spoof appears to be a one-off number looking like your local area.
"Or do marketing "geniuses" care about that kind of thing?"
Of course they don't, those that even realise it (any advance on 1%?) - it's all revenue no matter wherther it's valid or not and if you're hitting someone outside your intended audience then that's a win as it's a potential new customer.
The rest of us just get more and more sick of adverts and subversive marketing both on snail mail and t'interweb.
I still get NHS snail mail for someone I never heard of, they werent even the people I bought the house from 12 years ago.
Then again during university term time I get all sorts of mail for students who got the post code wrong and have never updsated.
All this despite me returning the mail 'addressee unknown' or 'wrong post code' to the sender - I used to get upset but they wore me down.
I actually saw a shop yesterday, in a little pocket of history* on the edge of a major town, and the sign still had an exchange name and 5 digit phone number. They had added a more modern sign nearby (one of the perpendicular ones that sticks out) which had the full current 11-digit STD code on it, but it still made me do a double take. When I investigated further, they had one of those backlit shadow boxes in the window which had prices still in £sd. The current price list was in a cellophane pouch sellotaped to the door. I fear that if someone had tried to tape it to the window, the act of moving the original 1950s net curtain in order to do so would have caused the nets to disintegrate.
*The row of shops was on the old main road which had, in the late 60s, had a massive new 6 lane 'A' road driven through the houses, gardens and fields that used to be opposite. All that separated this trunk from the old road was a dense line of trees and bushes which has effectively hidden this little parade from passing eyes for 60 years. So complete is this isolation from the modern world that the pub is still called "The Black Boy", AND no-one has started a campaign to get it renamed.
In Sheffield, until it was demolished for a bypass ten years after 7-digit numbers came along, there was a shop in town that still displayed its 40-year-old *five*-digit telephone number above the shop front. It had remained through two sets of number extensions, I wouldn't have been surprised if the last time the signage was updated was when the numbers went up from four digits. ;)
Three digits?! Local exchanges varied considerably... but I recall an extract from a book... something to do with two school boys (was it Just William?) who called up their school to find the date of a battle but they didn't have a coin for the phone box. The school secretary answered the phone Hello? Hastings ten-sixty-six? I'll have to go and look that one up now.
Could have been a Jennings book actually.
It was Jennings. And the number was Linbury 1588, the date of the Spanish Armada -- and also the forgotten combination to some lock.
(after adding an icon)
Hmm ..... I'm sure there used to be three full rows of icons to choose from! Have we had two new ones, or lost one old one?
As a spotty teenager, I was not concerned with such minor details as STD codes, nor of distance charge bands.
Well, not until the bill came in after one quarter of me phoning Aberdeen several times a night when I discovered 'bulletin boards' with my Atari and 300 baud Maplin modem.
After that, I was just as concerned with STD codes and distance bands as my dad turned out to be when he saw that bill.
Oh, god, yes.
Turned 16, finished and left school. Discovered that a crappy modem (it was 2400 baud and proud of it; might have been called Linnet or something?) could open a world of wonders. Spent far too long chatting about whatever with a sysop happy for the distraction.
Just shy of seven hundred quid. [#include pissed-myself-emoji]
My mother took me to the jobcentre that day, said she'd pay the bill but I'm paying her back and all future bills.
And yes, like you I immediately paid a hell of a lot more attention to how calls were actually billed.
Nowadays? Internet 24/7 and my VoIP phone allows me to call most countries in the world (that aren't at war with the west) absolutely free. The AUP is that calls will terminate after about two hours, and I am not permitted to make more than 750h of calls in any calendar month (uh, whut?!). Pffft. Kids these days. Don't know they were born...
"I am not permitted to make more than 750h of calls in any calendar month (uh, whut?!)."
My guess is that your line can make simultaneous calls, and spamming that for multiple callers is how scam calls get started. So to either protect themselves from charges of helping a scammer or to ensure you pay more if you want to do it, they're putting on a restriction that's meaningless for a single person but would affect multiple people using the same line. Of course, if it turns out you can't place multiple calls at the same time, then I don't have a clue.
I can't place multiple calls. ;)
But maybe just some boilerplate that applies to everybody, which is essentially meaningless to domestic lines such as mine, but does indeed impact scammers and spammers.
Now you mention it, I think another of the limitations is that I can't call more than (500? 1000?) different numbers in a month. Again, gibberish for a home user (especially an introvert where it's a big deal if I make a single call in a month!) but would be an impediment to spamming.
"But maybe just some boilerplate that applies to everybody, which is essentially meaningless to domestic lines such as mine, but does indeed impact scammers and spammers."
Or maybe they are just being a little more honest than most and setting a "limit" of 750 hrs instead of stating "unlimited" :-)
I'm sure I've posted this before, but here goes...I was well aware of the costs of 'long distance' calls as I worked for the mob that made BT's exchanges and other infrastructure.
My solution:find an 0800 number that worked in the evenings, had an ACD prompt of "If you know the extension number you need, you may dial it now", and had been poorly configured so that you could dial '9' for an outgoing trunk....free international BBS time!
For some reason, these usually got 'fixed' after a month or so:-)
You do realise, I hope, that The Norman Invasion happened, and that for a while official stuff was conducted in French in England, and quite a number of words and expressions have come about as a result of the unwashed masses attempting to say something that sounds a bit like what the nobles were saying, and generally getting it wrong because French has a bunch of different sounds?
Example: the farewell "too-da-loo" is a corruption of "à tout l'heure" (when said by a native quickly, it does sound a bit like too-da-loo). And, just as with your example, the spelling is often changed to better match what is said. "Beachamp"? Confusing and complicated (and where's the 'u'?). "Beecham"? I'd bet most five year olds could say that.
It's a lot to do with history and two different languages crashing into each other, and fuck all to do with Brexit.
PS: Just to flog a dead donkey, the story is from 1970. Predates the existence of the EU by just a bit.
I remember a friend's (parents') number from the 1980s, whom I only called once, I think. I remember it because it was the old days when we used to say the number on picking up, and for some reason "Aberystwyth tri pedwar chwech pedwar" stuck firmly in my brain ... (I speak no Welsh, but know a little about it.)
Unless you had croc clips and a lever bar to operate a phone box with. I never understood why people used loose change for phone boxes...see when you put the coins in, you didn't get them back but if you had a beige box and a level bar you could use phone boxes over and over again with the same set of tools.
These days you have those phone boxes that don't have handsets in...they're usually green and at the end of your street.
Re: The Black Boy
Like the one in Hull, they recently removed the sign for the filming on Enola Holmes 2, as it was of a small "black boy", the last time I went past, it had not been put back up.
Just up the road is the museum of William Wilberforce, the leader of the abolitionist organisation, the founder of the for-runner of the RSPCA and a co-supporter of founding the RNLI.
Plenty of "Black Boy" & similar named pubs still around.
Main difference is the signs have (generally) been changed to have a young Caucasian boy covered in soot, rather than a highly offensive caricature "piccininny" style sign.
Though near me it took a depressingly long time for some of the offensive signs to go.
"You wonder how they remember to breathe" seems harsh.
"Reforming" the telephone number system implies that there was an old, bad system that was reformed to the new, good system that we shall use for ever more. Phone numbers have been subject to sporadic modification since the phone was invented. The largest change I can remember was the conversion to all-figure numbers, more like 50 years ago than 30. I suppose the 1992 change must have been the additional digits required because of the unforeseen size of the address space.
Who bothers to memorise numbers in the age of mobile phones? I can recall several numbers that I haven't used for 50 years, but I don't know my wife's mobile number.
Phone numbers have been subject to sporadic modification since the phone was invented. The largest change I can remember was the conversion to all-figure numbers, more like 50 years ago than 30. I suppose the 1992 change must have been the additional digits required because of the unforeseen size of the address space.
Indeed, and apart from the need to print new letterheards it mostly 'just worked'.
If only IPv4 -> IPv6 could have been as simple...
If I text someone then I use my mobile and their name is in the address book. On PAYG that costs me. If I use my landline the calls to mobiles are "free" - so that is used for voice calls and I have to look up or remember the number.
Incoming calls on my landline from mobiles show the CLI - so I tend to recognise the last three digits as a particular person. Anyone else goes to screening.
One place I lived, in the late 90s, the local number (non-trunk) was 44019[n].
Unfortunately, 019[nn] (slight obfuscation) was the trunk exchange code, and 44 is of course the UK international dialling prefix.
Can you tell what I'm about to say next?
Yep. Had to get the number changed within a few months because it was ringing off the hook day and night with people who had mis-programmed their phones.
As many numbers were now being written down as international numbers, due to the rise of the mobile phone and overseas holidays plus cheaper international calls, there was a lot of confusion about the formatting. Instead of storing +44 (0) 19[nn] 123456, they stored 44019[nn]123456... so when they read it off their phones and dialled it from a local landline or tried programming the memory of their landline phone... bring! bring! All. The. Bloody. Time.
To be precise, 3d is a quarter of a shilling, so, yes, it should be 1.25p. However, as stated it was a simple conversion, hence the 3p.
The accounts were all closed as being inactive - they went dormant after not being used for a period of years (maybe 7?) and after a number of other years, became inactive and were closed, any balances transferred to a suspense account. Nowadays, this money is given to charity, I believe.
"Nowadays, this money is given to charity, I believe."
It is, but only after an even longer period of dormancy. Not sure of the rules, but I heard a BBC item on the radio a while ago about rule changes and reminding people to check for old account details as the preiod was being reduced.
Apart from anything else an account still in £sd would most likely have accumulated some interest over that time too, so if all they do is round up the pass-book last entry, the customer may be losing out. Back in the early-mid-80's, interest rates were pretty high for a decade or so.
"I actually quite enjoyed seeing these old books and the customers always had a wee chuckle at the "fortunes" that they were getting back. "
Been out of the UK for some time, but I can tell you that in North America you need to maintain at least 60,000 in your bank account so the interest generated covers the monthly fees. The damage these fees do to low income account holders is gut wrenching. The first year in Canada they introduced fees, they generated 6 billion dollars. They've only gone up since then and many more fees have been introduced.
… in your bank account so the interest generated covers the monthly fees.
I can tell you that if you’re still banking in North America, you should find a different bank. In my case, monthly fees disappear when maintaining a minimum $1,000 balance in a non-interest-bearing account.
UK Barclays Bank have now made it mandatory to register a mobile number if you want a current account. A landline number is not an alternative. Some account functions now need a smart phone app.
This will affect old people who only have a landline - especially as so many local branches have been closed in recent years.
I had a inkling of this a while ago when they wrongly blocked my online account - then waited for me to complain. When asked why they hadn't rung my registered landline number to tell me - they said their system could only handle mobile numbers. BT certainly have no problem delivering text messages transcribed to voice on landlines.
I’m in North America. A lot of banks will waive the monthly fee if the average balance is over a minimum, like $2000. Mine doesn’t, but the $1 monthly fee doesn’t exactly break the bank.
If you’re paying several dollars a month in fees just to have an account, find a better bank. Try a credit union.
My Grandpa told me a story about a factory where he once worked. Turns out there was an unspoken quota among the workers, don't produce over x amount of widgets a week even though you were paid by the number of widgets you produced. One summer a young guy between semesters at a nearby university start working at the factory, and the first week he doubled what the veterans produced. The second week his co-workers had a friendly chat with him, and explained the 'quota'. That second week he still produced twice what the others were doing. On Monday of the third week, he showed up to work with a broken nose and two black eyes. That week he produced the same amount as everybody else...
The "2 black eyes and a broken nose" reminded me of a story from my brother from many a decade ago.
He was w**king behind a bar, and was spending the evening winding up a lady that he went to school with. When she threatened to give him 2 black eyes and a broken nose his immediate reply was "You're not sitting on my face!"
I tried to adapt the joke, but I obviously missed by a mile!
Maybe I'll do better when I wake up! Need more coffee!
A friend's brother got a summer job whilst a student doing some kind of boring data manipulation. He realised that it was easily automatable and spent a day or so writing a programme to do it. The end was result was that he and all the other temps got rapidly given the boot...
The problem with this theory is that in a competitive world someone else will innovate and the company you work for will most likely go bust or be taken over.
I've been involved with many projects where one of the goals is to automate administrative tasks. Business users can attempt to stall, but in my experience only those who embrace the change are able to make the leap and continue having a job.
When I was the spotty yoof in the story, I had a summer job in a government department, so competition wasn't a concern.
I finished some task or other and asked my boss for more work; she had a quiet word with me about stretching the work to fit the time. So, with some time on my hands I used the desktop PC to explore the LAN until I found a Unix box to play with. A week later someone from IT asked me to stop using time on their production box =8-O
My father worked in a factory at only one point in his life - being a man of the land the remainder.
He produced about twice as much as his colleagues, but this meant that they collectively met their targets for bonuses and so it was tolerated by his colleagues.
It worked against him in the end as he kept being refused voluntary redundancy (over 3 years) as the management didn't want him to go (and let their production bonuses slip). In the end he just left without redundancy.
While a student I had a summer job at a tyre depot in Bristol. I was set to work loading tyres on delivery trucks according to a load sheet provided. It involved rolling them up a plank onto the flat bed of the lorry. I soon got the hang of it and it was quite fun. After about 30 minutes the foreman called me over and told me to slow down, as 'you make the other fellows look slow, and the drivers won't be happy either'.
A certain Educational PC supplier in Didcot's service center*, gave you a three sided workbench for one PC to be worked on, while another waited parts & the final space for imaging or other QC checks.
By selecting machines off the ever growing wall of machines awaiting attention say a dead PSU\dead motherboard etc, you could skip the initial AV scan, book the parts & have three machines done by lunchtime.
You could repeat for the afternoon, making six ready to go.
So far so good, but those extra machines now were processed & booked out on the following days worksheets
Each tech for reasons was only allowed to produce three machines a day & there was hell to pay if you exceeded that, the poor female tech I was using her ID for to order parts & she almost received a chewing out (Damn - No Paris) before the reason was pointed out.
*My contract dates got screwed, as I started later than envisaged they thought I was done on X date & I informed them my contract had another two weeks to run, so I got kicked over to the service center for the remainder as they were "running behind". Obviously someone in the higher scheme of things never looked into why they were always running behind.
The satirical film "I'm All Right Jack" (1959) had Ian Carmichael in a similar situation with a forklift truck. He was obligingly demonstrating an operation for a time & motion person - while the rest of the workers were on a break.
In the end the union rep and the incompetent management conspired to get rid of him.
One summer job I had was at a distribution company, basically putting goods ordered into boxes. I started on a temp's wage but after my first week the foreman said that my output matched that of the permanent employees so he would pay me the same as them.
There were two conditions:
1 Don't tell them.
2 Don't exceed Jim's output. "He is proud of being number 1 and will sulk all summer of you better him. I don't need that."
That was admirably fair of the foreman. Happened that now, they would make both you and the permanents work harder, but pay everyone less. Inflation*, rising costs** and stuff***, you see.
* _We_ are going to increase _our_ pricing.
** Executives bonuses.
*** Everything else that can be used to bugger you.
When I was doing my HNC many many years ago, one of the lecturers outlined how when he was a lad in a factory, that if you produced the required number of units per week, you were paid the base rate.
If you produced x more you were paid a bonus & you were known as an "A bonus man", produce 2x more you were an "B bonus man" & the next logically was "C bonus man".
Of course while the workers were happy with the extra cash & striving to keep & maintain that pay rate, the company had doubled its output & its wages outgoings was cheaper than doubling up the workforce.
The other tale he told was at one place bonus's were paid out according to a calculated graph, one year they did a really big push to clear the factory just before Christmas, so much so that they exceeded the graphs calculations of bonus rate increase, one of the engineers studied the curve & worked out the required bonus, which was a LOT & stunned the management somewhat.
Especially when it was revealed that the calculated bonus rate graph, had basically been plucked out of the air simply by just drawing a curve on graph paper.
In 1988 I was pimped out to the municipal tax department of a neighbour country for six months. They had one mini on which development, UAT, and production were run, and on top of that their file system layout was a complete mess.
I was hired to bring order to that chaos (they had a second server too by then) and arrived there on a Monday morning and got to work after introductions and expectations had been dealt with.
Just before lunch I asked the guys when we could discuss my plan. They suggested 'how about next Monday morning?'. I told them I was hoping to do it 'today' right after lunch (which we did) as I was ready to dive in :) No violence ensued.
A relative started working at a union manufacturing plant. He was put at the beginning of the production line. He worked hard that morning, only to get a talking-to at lunch - he unknowingly was setting the pace for the whole line, they had made the whole day’s quota by lunch, but couldn’t go home because their shift wasn’t up.
Equally irritating when management tells you to work slower, because you upset the rest of the workforce, or tells you to stand idle, because they aren't giving you time off or paying you for extra work.
My friend simply got paid a massive Christmas bonus. Management knew what they were paying the regular workers, and how much work they were doing, and weren't trying to screw the regular workers to work harder.
Given that "£sd" was the collection of abbreviations for Libra, solidus, and denariaus, the first symbol being a stylised 'L' with a horizontal cross-stroke across the upstroke, just pointing out the mismatch between 'd' and penny is a bit lacking. Libra was name of a standard Roman weight (roughly 330 grammes) that is usually translated as a pound (weight), and the origins of its use in English currency lie in King Offa's use of the 'Tower pound' of about 350 grammes, which was meant to be the weight of 240 silver pennies. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pound_sterling#History)
A British Pound Sterling doesn't get you a Tower Pound of silver these days. A Tower Pound (350g) of silver is roughly 180 GBP. Inflation.
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maybe it is how you are expected to use the measurement?
In car sales, higher miles/gallon sounds like a better comparison
In figuring out fuel usage, you know that to go 'x' km you need 'y' liters.
For the first one mpg is "better"
for the 2nd one, l/100km is a bit easier to figure out fuel needs (for a given distance) in your head.
I guess it shows that in the USA it's all about the marketing (not the practical use).
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This is basically folk etymology. The country used £s, shillings, and pence well before the Victorian era, and only started the £sd nonsense during the Victorian Imperial era. It was because of the usual 'England is like Rome, and the British Empire is a moral successor to the Roman Empire' nonsense. Same as the 'English is really Latin' nonsense about split infinitives and so-on, the neo-classical architecture and art, and so-on.
"In the case of the letters s and d it is generally agreed that these stand for the Latin words solidus and denarius, originally Roman. The first use of these abbreviations to indicate shillings and pence given in the Oxford English Dictionary is dated 1387."
Scans of several pages showing prices listed in £ s d from a book published in 1823.
The 14th image shows, at the bottom of the pictured page, the price for a "Peck Loaf" listed as 2s. 6d. in a publication dated 1784.
As a reminder, the Victorian era began in 1837...
"The country used £s, shillings, and pence well before the Victorian era, and only started the £sd nonsense during the Victorian Imperial era."
At the first surviving court recorded in the Wakefield manorial court rolls - 16 Oct 1274 - the second entry records half a dozen local worthies paying lxxiijjs. iiijd. for the farm of Soureby mill for a year. That's a while before Victoria.
The only reason it's as late as the second record entry is that the first, for Rastrick mill, was given in marks.
I should have added the explanation as to why Latin terms were used. In medieval times written records were usually in Latin. The original transactions in court would have been conducted in English but they were written up in Latin so naturally the words used for money, even in abbreviation, were Latin.
Given that "£sd" was the collection of abbreviations for Libra, solidus, and denariaus, the first symbol being a stylised 'L' with a horizontal cross-stroke across the upstroke, just pointing out the mismatch between 'd' and penny is a bit lacking.
And the Beatles used it in a song (Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds), it was all about money, not about drugs.
I gave a gold half sovereign*** to my eldest nephew as our family heirloom. It was in a spring loaded case that would hold several. It was a wedding present to my parents in 1937 from an elderly aunt - with the instruction it should never be spent unless absolutely needed "for bread".
***A sovereign was £1 - so a half sovereign was 10 shillings.
Well, the whole Guinea has a story behind it. It was originally a gold £1 coin, so called because much of the gold came from that part of West Africa.
Then gold increased in value relative to silver, so the gold coins became worth more than £1 -- at times up to 30s. Later the coin's value was fixed at 21s. Later still, the Guinea coins stopped being used, but the Guinea stuck around as an abstract unit.
d - denarii : From the Roman coinage.
As a side note the £ sign is just an L with a cross stroke, the L from Librae and s is Solidii both from the Roman.
Lindbeige is your man here. (about 5 mins into the video)
Edit: Norman beat me to it :)
half a dinarii for my life story….
Technically speaking, you'd give two farthings, as half a penny/dinarii. A farthing of course is derived from a fēorðing, which is old English for "fourthling", or possibly "four thing" or "quarter" in modern english. The same coin was known as a "quadrans" to the romans (depending on the era)
There's a regiment of the mealy-mouthed, mostly on the BBC, who insist on calling the delimiter in a URL "stroke". This is apparently because they think "slash" is a rude word. I feel bound to point out that if they haven't heard anything ruder than "slash" on the BBC, they haven't been listening.
I thought that if they don't like "slash" they should call it a solidus, so it's a disappointment to lean that the gods of Unicode consider them distinct characters. That said, I'd be surprised to learn that even the most fastidious metal fonts differentiated them.
U+29F8 is the “big solidus” character, a “large operator” in the “Miscellaneous Mathematical Symbols-B” block.
The “solidus” character is U+002F, AKA “slash” or “virgule”.
Neither of those should be confused with U+2044, “fraction slash”, or U+2215, “division slash”.
It's actually a pretty simple system which was very long lasting.
4 (copper) farthings/fourthlings to a (copper) penny.
3 pennies to a (silver) threepence
6 pennies to a (silver) sixpence
12 pennies to a (silver) shilling.
20 shillings to a (gold) pound coin with a value of one pound of silver coins.
These coins kept their value (and therefore inflation damn near flat) from the 8th century through to the 19th century and the advent of paper currency where "I promise to pay" [in base metal] appeared, with the promise secured on the collective wisdom and honour of politicians.
Shortly thereafter we went with debased coinage (literally coinage no longer made from base metals) and currency and inflation has exploded.
In 1800 you could buy a bread loaf for around two and a quarter pence (this was high; as a result of bad harvests and wheat shortages.) In 1930 the same sized load cost two pence. In 2022 it's around £1.30 so a twopence had a purchasing power well over a modern pound.
… from the 8th century through to the 19th century
This is not the case — take a closer look at the coinage issues of Henry VIII. (One of Elizabeth I’s goals, which she’d achieved, was to put English currency back on a sound footing.)
Henry VIII’s coins were debased;
Precisely — the debasement of coinage was an early analogue of inflation, since more coins were required to reach a given mass of precious metal.
Non-debased coinage kept its value, but your claim was that coins “from the 8th century through to the 19th century” kept their value; Henry VIII’s coins were minted in that period, but they did not keep their value.
"went with debased coinage"
Or, for an alternative viewpoint, finally started to grow the economy after centuries of stagnation. (1800 is a couple of generations after the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution and the effects of the latter probably weren't making sufficient economic waves for the politicians and bankers to notice until about this time.)
When I were a lad (back in '62), we moved from the USA to Australia. I went to a private school, learned pounds, shillings and pence, and my times tables (to 12, including the noughts -- we used to have to chant them out in class). Not zero, but nought. IIRC we never used ha'pennies, but their existence was known. Thrupence, sixpence and the extremely oversised Australian penny were common, as was the Florin coin. no half crown or crown, but there was a ten-bob-note (not that I ever had one).
Australia went decimal in '65, I believe, right as I left.
That may be regional. Seamus Heaney says, "in Hiberno-English Scullion-speak [...] 'so' operates as an expression that obliterates all previous discourse and narrative, and at the same time functions as an exclamation calling for immediate attention."
Which sounds pretty weaponized, to be sure.
On the other hand, my (Canadian) experience of it, when used to introduce a topic shift, is that it serves as a warning, to make the transition less jarring, not more so.
'But' is worse. It basically denies everything that you've just said...
"I understand your concerns and your feelings on this issue that you believe to be of fundamental importance and I want you to know that I am listening to you, that I value your input on this, and that I also value you as an individual, thinking, living human being.
But I don't think you are seeing the bigger picture."
I don't like "timesing" either, and upvoted on that basis. To me, it sounds like the word you'd use with a child who was just learning how to do it.
But I find sentence-starting "so" completely unobjectionable, when used in an informal register. In fact, I suspect that one of its uses might be to indicate informality.
I did enjoy some sums such as timesing (multiplying) something like £5 3s 18¼d
What are you some sort of masochist?
(ok might be fun a few times in class but not everyday in the sweetshop)
I am soo glad I just missed out on all that bollocks , and it amazes me american's keep up with the imperial system.
Albeit their money is decimal and has been a lot longer than ours I'd imagine
I did enjoy some sums such as timesing (multiplying) something like £5 3s 18¼d
What are you some sort of masochist?
(ok might be fun a few times in class but not everyday in the sweetshop)
Most prices, discounts etc were magic numbers that were easy to multiply in your head. You did not need a calculator or a ready reckoner (anyone remember those?)
In fact, I still sometimes do calculations by converting £p to £sd, doing the arithmetic, and converting back.My head is still stuffed full of magic numbers.
You did not need a calculator or a ready reckoner (anyone remember those?)
I still have an old copy of Newnes "Everything Within" probably from the early 1930s. It has £sd ready-reckoner tables in the back. Fascinating reading in many ways, such as the chapters entitled "Careers for Boys" and "Careers for Girls"...
> it amazes me american's keep up with the imperial system. Albeit their money is decimal and has been a lot longer than ours I'd imagine
230 years. (Long before your Victoria.)
"The Coinage Act of 1792 introduced the U.S. dollar at par with the Spanish silver dollar, divided it into 100 cents". The Spanish silver dollar is better known as the pirates' "pieces of eight", and was by far the most common coinage for several centuries. US-issue money has always been strictly decimal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_dollar
The Spanish silver Dollar (Peso, etc.) was called the "piece of eight' because in order to make change, they'd physically cut the coin in half. And in half again. And again, at which point you'd have eight pieces (reales, colloquially known in English as"bits"), which were too small to easily and equally cut further.
Thus the nickname for the American quarter dollar, "two bits". One bit was 12.5 cents, thus neatly demonstrating that Decimal coinage isn't all it's cut out to be.
I'm not quite that old. Farthing had gone and silver thruppeny bits had been replaced. The closest to a farthing for me was going into a sweetshop where we could still by "Blackjacks" or "Fruit Salads" at four-a-penny to two for a ha'penny :-)
We still had half=crowns, but crowns had gone and apart from some newspaper adverts and the top jackpot prize on The Golden Shit, no one was using Guineas any more.
I remember getting four "Blackjacks" or "Fruit Salads" for a penny too - in my case at the school 'tuck shop' (which was a table set up in the cloakroom during the morning break). Unfortunately, I think inflation had hit, as it was four to a New Penny, and I believe* fairly soon after became two to a New Penny, which dates it to when we last had galloping inflation, power cuts, and a Conservative government.
It was always a struggle to decide the appropriate ratio between the two sweets: I liked them both, but in different ways. I would occasionally stretch to buying a "Wagon Wheel", a Mars bar, or a "Curly Wurly".
*My memory could easily be at fault here. Several decades of sitting in the grey porridge of my brain isn't the ideal preservation medium.
Farthings would buy you a small sweet eg "fruit salad" chews or aniseed balls. When the farthing dropped out of circulation then it was double the quantity for a ha'penny.
My sister was a grocery shop assistant. That often needed mental calculations for fractions of an old penny - or a quick tally with a pencil on a paper bag.
Canada no longer has even whole pennies; they were discontinued in 2012. Since then, our smallest coin has been the nickel (5 cents).
Even after being debased from copper to mostly steel, they still cost more than their face value to manufacture.
They're still legal tender, but I haven't received one in change since surprisingly few months since the Mint stopped issuing them.
I did my O-levels when £sd was still around. Try and imagine doing compound interest sums in it! Actually, we converted to pounds and decimals of pounds, did the arithmetic, and then converted the result back to £sd! But simple arithmetic operations were carried out without conversion - in some ways, it helped when you were using other number bases (e.g. octal and hexadecimal)
Of course, Britain went decimal shortly afterwards!
Incidentally, the abbreviations are actually very simple and logical - if you know Latin! Libra, Solidus and Denarius were the origins of the abbreviations, the Roman coins that were regarded as "equivalent" to the later pound (Libra means a pound weight, originally of silver!), solidus (a small silver coin) and denarius (the commonest low value copper coin). For a very long time, the only actual coin in general use was the penny (until after the Norman Conquest, I think) and the others were units of account.
...and made a spectacularly terrible job of it.
Canada, was first, with observers from Australia and NZ present. They made several mistakes that the other two spotted.
Australia went next, with NZ observing. They avoided all the Canadian problems , but discovered a few more ways to mess up.
NZ then converted, and had a pretty straight forward conversion without inventing any significant problems.
I was there at the time - by and large it 'just worked', because the sizes, shapes, colours and purchasing power of currency up to the dollar (the old ten bob note) stayed the same and the new dollar-denominated notes retained the old colours and purchasing power, e.g. the new ten dollar note bought the same amount of 'stuff' as the old fiver and was the same colour. It took most of us less than a week to feel at home with the new decimal currency.
UK? Watching what former colonies did was apparently beneath the dignity of yer average Whitehall mandarin, with the result that the UK managed to repeat most of the mistakes made by the three Commonwealth members and invented several major cock-ups of their own, chief of which were:
- retaining the pound sterling rather than normalizing the ten shilling note as a New Pound,
- inventing a new set of unfamiliar coins rather than re-purposing and retaining the old coin shapes, sizes and materials
- utterly failing to have enough inspectors to catch and deal with ripoffs
- failure to make reporting ripoffs as straightforward as possible
I've since learned that this behavior is to be expected from any UK Government and its associated civil service and watched them repeat the same routine: that of ignoring anything learnt by Johnnie Foreigner and then making a complete balls-up of their own attempt at the same thing: metrication, privatising the railways and Northern Ireland Customs arrangements being prime examples.
inventing a new set of unfamiliar coins rather than re-purposing and retaining the old coin shapes, sizes and materials
Until the new 5p and 10p coins were introduced (in 1992), the old shilling and florin coins were interchangeable with the 5p and 10p coin, and this was still the case until they were withdrawn completely in 1993, so this is not strictly true.
The old half-crown, penny, ha'penny and florin coins didn't fit neatly into the new system, so they were withdrawn with decimalisation in 1971.
Apparently a crown is still legal tender, and worth 25p (ones minted since decimalisation are worth £5), although you'd be a fool to try and spend one at its face value. A guinea is no longer legal tender, but would have a face value of £1.05 if it were.
Yes, I remember using the old shilling and two shilling as 5p and 10p, some had some very old dates on.
The two shilling was a sizeable piece of metal.
Sixpences (tanners) remained usable as currency until 1980.
I am not old enough to have used the thruppeny bit (Joey) but it remains my favourite UK coin with its 12 sides and brassy colour. I have a little collection of them.
"Yes, I remember using the old shilling"
I remember finding out on a school exchange visit to Germany that the old, still in use shilling (5p, the new coins had arrived by then, but many old shillings were still around and in use) was an almost exact match for the a German 1DM, as far as coin operated machines were concerned. Quite handy as a poor young schoolboy with not a not of spending money. That old shilling worth 5p, thanks the exchange rate at the time, was worth five times as much when used as a 1dm coin in pinball machines etc :-)
Horses are still bought and sold at public auction in the UK in Guineas.
The buyer bids in guineas and will pay the full value of their bid, that is to say £1.05 for every guinea, the seller will only receive £1 for every guinea, with the spare 5p traditionally being kept as the auctioneer’s commission. Take for example a horse sold at auction for 1,000 guineas. In this instance the buyer would pay £1,050 (1,000 x £1.05), the seller would receive £1,000 with the auction house then retaining £50. In a way, this does make it simple for the seller to keep track of how much they will receive for the horse, as they merely need to convert the guinea value directly into pounds using a one to one conversion.
They are, indeed, but not using guinea coins.
edit - and I don't know about livestock* auctions, but good luck finding an auction house that only charges 5% commission, and only to the seller!
*I'm sure I'll annoy some horsey people by referring to horses as livestock, as if they were cattle or sheep, but there we go, they are delicious.
A guinea is no longer legal tender, but would have a face value of £1.05 if it were.
And if it was the gold guinea then it'd be worth £246 as scrap as of a few months ago when I looked it up for a post in a different thread so you'd be even more of a fool to try and spend it at face value. ;)
I believe the guinea came about when banks started issuing paper banknotes, and they were becoming more common (for the Well Off) around 1800. Banks could issue their own banknotes back then.
If you bought something for £100 and paid in gold you paid £100. If you paid by banknote there was a 5% surcharge (£1 1/-, a guinea). At that time you could go to the issuing bank and exchange those notes for £100 in gold, which is more trouble to the seller and also a little riskier.
A guinea was simply the name of a coin made from gold, nominally originally worth £1.
However as it was made from Gold and other nations also used Gold coins you could quite simply convert currency from one country to another without needing a middleman company involved like today where you have to swap one worthless set of coins with an arbitrarily assigned value for another worthless set of coins with an arbitrarily assigned value.
This (along with a shortage of gold coins, especially when we sent them abroad to subsidise foreign armies at war with the French) and them being swapped with paper notes with (I promise to pay with coins the sum of #) pushed up the value of gold coins to the point that they were in fact worth 21 shillings instead of 20 shillings due to scarcity.
Paper notes became much more common as Great Britain ran out of gold. There is some fascinating history there; The French had introduced paper banknotes, shortly before they executed King Louis. After they executed King Louis and declared war the British government printed huge quantities of high quality fake French banknotes and literally sent shiploads to cause the French economy to collapse. It worked; causing huge inflation as the notes weren't backed by coins and an economic crisis in France and the collapse of the French directory followed by the rise on Bonaparte.
The British notes were backed by coins, and in response the French government tried to siphon off British gold coins to cause Britain economic problems while solving theirs by offering smugglers goods cheaply if they bought in bulk with gold coins to cause Britain to run out of gold. (eventually, silver was also targeted)
All this goes to mean that the gold £1 coin ended up being worth 21 shillings instead of 20. This meant that you could (at least theoretically for a time) swap the period equivalent of 50p coins for a £1 coin, and then sell it on for £1.10 in silver coinage. Technically speaking towards the end of the war the coin could be was actually worth about 30 shillings internationally by the prevailing exchange rates.
You'll have to explain why halving the size of a pound would have been a good idea, particularly since your very next suggestion is basically "retaining the shilling" so people are going to notice that there aren't 20 of them to a pound anymore.
Honeywell mainframes (66/60 and relatives) had something similar. I think it was the "BCD" instruction, intended for binary-to-BCD conversion, but obviously it was more general than that.
I never had cause to use it for £sd, but used it to convert (fractional?) seconds to HH:MM:SS in one go -- mixed 10s and 6es.. I can't recall whether it stuck in the colons too.
"Actually, we converted to pounds and decimals of pounds, did the arithmetic, and then converted the result back to £sd!"
My mother was a comptometer operator pre-decimal. That was basically a big mechanical calculator. She had to learn and memorise the decimal conversion. She still knew them to the day she died.
> we converted to pounds and decimals of pounds, did the arithmetic, and then converted the result back to £sd!
I'm surprised it worked out. The right approach would have been to do the calculations in pence (or farthings, depending how old you are) and then show the results in £sd for convenience.
Which is exactly what is done nowadays when doing operations with currency: convert to the smallest unit and stick to integers.
Footnote from Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:
"NOTE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AND AMERICANS: One shilling = Five Pee. It helps to understand the antique finances of the Witchfinder Army if you know the original British monetary system:
Two farthings = One Ha'penny. Two ha'pennies = One Penny. Three pennies = A Thrupenny Bit. Two Thrupences = A Sixpence. Two Sixpences = One Shilling, or Bob. Two Bob = A Florin. One Florin and one Sixpence = Half a Crown. Four Half Crowns = Ten Bob Note. Two Ten Bob Notes = One Pound (or 240 pennies). One Pound and One Shilling = One Guinea.
The British resisted decimalized currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated."
Of the same ilk - from "Wild Thing" by Josh Bazell:
In metric, one milliliter of water occupies one cubic centimeter, weighs one gram, and requires one calorie of energy to heat up by one degree centigrade - which is 1 percent of the difference between its freezing point and its boiling point. An amount of hydrogen weighing the same amount has exactly one mole of atoms in it.
Whereas in the American system, the answer to "How much energy does it take to boil a room-temperature gallon of water?" is "Go f**k yourself." because you can't directly relate to any of those quantities.
A Calorie is not an SI unit though. The amount of heat energy required to heat water is 4.186 Joules per Kelvin per gram. Which is still relatively easy to remember and use, because 4.2 KJ per kilo (or litre) is just one number to have to know.
Anyway, Americans don't heat up water using easily-measured electrical energy, because kettles melt their wiring, because they got the voltage all wrong. This is why they still use "stove-top" kettles like it's the 1890s.
I suppose then that you will regard it as a libel that we Over Here use the British Thermal Unit (BTU), defined as the energy required to raise a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. I have never seen it quoted for kettles and such, though I suppose that our water heater might be rated at such a figure. Usually one sees it used for furnaces, air conditioning, and so on.
My favourite is when I hear our transpondian cousins refer to their own peculiar brand of customary units as "British units", although there are significant differences between these and actual British Imperial units, such as the volume of a pint.
At least the BTU is an actual British unit, albeit an archaic one, like a groat.
There are quite a few of us who consider her, and her role, to be archaic. Of course, the problem comes when you start thinking about what or who you would have as head of state instead, even though the role has been pretty much entirely ceremonial for the past couple of centuries. One thing you can say about her is that at least she's not a populist...
> got the voltage all wrong
It is even worse: They have 240V in every house AND two different types of 120V. What how two different types of 120V? I learned it from "Technology Connections" Youtube channel about that topic.
Caught my by surprise!
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Electricians are taught that volts shock, and amps kill.
Any electric current causes your hand to spasm, however AC causes it to spasm open and DC causes it to spasm closed.
Therefore, touching a live cable at 240v AC at 13A will give you a painful jolt and your hand will spasm open while you recoil from the cable; it's inherently safe.
DC is more dangerous as it'd cause your hand to spasm closed on the cable so you couldn't release it. 12v DC though is picked for low voltage precisely because it shouldn't be particularly dangerous.
> This is why they still use "stove-top" kettles like it's the 1890s.
Not just the Americans. I used to live in Spain and electric kettles are (it at least were, back then) unheard of.
I had one and the natives would approach it with more than a trace of apprehension.
I've got no problem with that. Presumably your electric kettle has to run off a different circuit to your other appliances though, and does not run on 110V? I know that the US uses a lower voltage than the most of the rest of the world for domestic circuits (most other countries typically use 250V) for historical reasons, so there's probably a fair impedance (pun intended) to change, but it does seem to make things unnecessarily more complicated.
I also own a non-electric kettle, which gets used on a gas camping stove on the allotment - we don't have any electricity of any voltage there...
"Presumably your electric kettle has to run off a different circuit to your other appliances though, and does not run on 110V?"
No, regular outlet. They cannot make them as powerful as a British (or most other places) one (potentially could be), though, because as we surely all know W=IV, and they're starting with V less than half the value of the UK mains.
In practice, US home wiring is up to the job of running home appliances (well, they'll work, at any rate ... I have my own opinions on the quality of the parts used and relative sanity of the whole setup).
"I had one and the natives would approach it with more than a trace of apprehension."
One of my colleagues (Brit, living in NL) had an electric kettle that looked like a stove top kettle. She had some Dutch friends staying in her flat who did indeed put it on the stove top (presumably the flex was unplugged at the kettle end). The smell of the bakelite feet burning alerted them :)
An amount of hydrogen weighing the same amount has exactly one mole of atoms in it.
This isn't strictly correct either, since you used the word exactly.
An amount of 12C weighing the same amount has exactly 1/12 of a mole (because a mole is defined that way). Even if you have isotopically pure 1H, one mole of that is not exactly one gram, it is a little more, at 1.00794 g.
This is something to do with "quantum" (my degrees are in chemistry and not physics, so don't ask me to explain it, but it probably has something to do with rest masses and the energy levels of electrons).
I suspect "packing" is one of those useful abstractions like "spin" and "colour" that don't translate exactly to the underlying quantum thing they kind-of represent, in the same way that we draw little circles around pictures of berry-like nuclei to represent electron orbitals (and use the word orbital, which implies an orbit). Meanwhile, the actual orbitals are probability density distribution fields which are quantised via the Schrödinger equation, making pretty shapes like circles or hourglasses, and the actual electron could be literally anywhere, and that's before we even get into hybrid orbitals...
More like letting the cat out of the bag that the *existing* system is too complicated ;-)
But yeah, if you've been used to farthings and ha'pennies and crowns and shillings and guineas, suddenly only having to do multiply by a hundred to get the next currency unit up (and that only once!) would blow people's minds :-)
That said, India still has the crore and lakh which are used regularly. They won't refer to 150,000 rupees, but 1.5 lakh. The same goes for the crore. Makes the decimalised thing look... simplistic to the extreme.
Generally speaking, Imperial is good at division, metric is good for multiplication.
For instance in imperial, one pound goes down to ten shillings, to five shillings, to two shillings and sixpence, one shilling and threepence, to ninepence, to four and a half pence, to two and a quarter, one and a half, three quarters and then it breaks at the next level of division.
with metric, you got from £1 to 50p to 25p and it breaks at the next level of division because you don't have a halfpenny now in metric. (although they did issue one initially)
Pretty much the same story applies to measurements. Imperial is also the king of scarily accurate approximate eyeball measurements simply because so of the building trade is really in Imperial even when it's nominally in metric measurements. If you want the length of an office then counting the number of two foot square ceiling tiles in a row and doubling it to get the length in feet is quite a bit simpler than doing the same with 0.6096 meter tiles, even if it's been metricised by taking it to 0.6m.
It should be noted that I have never formally been taught imperial, but think that certain things should actually be taught to people; both systems actually have their strengths and weaknesses. For instance, when I have done scale drawing for office plans for wiring etc my favourite scale is one inch to the meter, simply because it's large enough to see without a bloody magnifying glass; one centimetre to a meter is simply too small and an architect who used my office plan knew the scale for that off the top of his head, so it's obviously not particularly uncommon!
There's a reason all these units (which IIRC date back to the ancient Sumerians) are based on 12, not ten, and this is that 12 is divisible by 2, 3, 4 and 6, which is a bit more useful than dividing something by half or into 5.
We still have 24 hours in a day (12 x 2) 60 minutes in an hour (12 x 5), 60 seconds in a minute, 360 degrees in a circle (12 x 6 x 5), divided into 60 minutes, divided into 60 seconds, and so on, because the measurement of things like time*, and angles dates back to prehistory.
*I'm not sure why we have 7 days in a week, but it's probably something to do with trying to make the solar day line up with the lunar month.
Yes, and when your coinage is actually worth something it is very relevant.
240 silver pennies to one £, when you're earning one penny a day, or even one shilling a day, one penny is important to you. The £ can be evenly divided between 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 etc.
In Scotland, "long ago", we did our tables up to 16 because 15 times 16 is the number of pennies in a pound. I believe that in England then, they just did it up to their 12s.
Nowadays, schools seem to just do it up to 10. Fiftyeight years after I started school (at 4), I still know all my times tables and will generally be able to do sums before my younger colleagues have got their calculator app running!
Does this show I am clever? No
How do I benefit? Lower stress.
Google suggests the 7 day week came about from Sumerians counting quarters of the lunar cycle (so it's a quarter lunar-month rather than a set number of days, but comes out the same)
All the caveats about a quick googling and veracity of history of course :)
Yeah, I reckoned as much, the lunar month being close enough to 28 days (plus one extra, call it a feast day).
Of course, the calendar months we have don't really line up with the lunar months (with there being 13-ish in a year), and this is even before the Romans fucked about with them and stuck some extras in.
One place | worked at some years ago used to pay us every 4 weeks rather than the more common calendar monthly. Initially, when I started, it felt like I was being paid less than a should be. But then I realised one calendar month out of 12, I got paid twice in the same month! That felt like A once per year bonus!
Nowadays, if you're paid badly and rely on universal credit to survive, then this arrangement will royally fuck you up, because the DSS in their infinite wisdom will decide that you have earned above the threshold in that month, cancel your benefits and demand a repayment.
Of course the government could fix this by setting a proper minimum wage, rather than subsidising exploitative employers via our taxes, but since they are the exploiters in many cases, they won't.
Oddly today the better half wanted to know how many hours she had worked from 9.45am to 4.15pm with 30 minute break as she was getting different answers on the fingers.
So 16.15 - 9.45 - have to borrow 1hr for the minutes = 16.75 - 10.45 = 6.30 then less lunch 6.00.
Sexagesimal isn't so hard but HP calculators have/had degree.minute.sec to decimal degree and back that could also be pressed into service.
I would assume anyone who could use a sextant wouldn't raise a sweat.
I admit I've never understood pre-decimalization currency, but I don't think your division is accurate at the lower levels. I've lined your list up with the number of pence in each one. If I'm proving my ignorance of the subject, I'm curious where I went wrong.
one pound, 240 pence
ten shillings, 120 pence
five shillings, 60 pence
two shillings and sixpence, 30 pence
one shilling and threepence, 15 pence
ninepence, I have 7.5 pence
four and a half pence, I have 3.75, and this would be the last division, but assuming this is accurate
two and a quarter, half of 4.5
one and a half, that's not half of two and a quarter
If it's about dividing in two and it goes down to a quarter of a penny, it still only looks like you can do it six times, ending at three and three quarters. Of course, this is only relevant as long as a quarter of a penny is important to anyone, which if the pound retained its value today is doubtful. If you can buy something for 0.1p, then I stand corrected, but most countries haven't bothered keeping around units of money that tiny. In another thread, someone quoted a modern price of £1.30 to buy the same as two pence, meaning that in precision terms, the smallest amount of money available to someone then would be worth about 16p today anyway, so they weren't keeping around currency that was a lot more precise.
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"The British resisted decimalized currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated."
Then there is weight... 112lb = 1 hundredweight!
A 'stone' is 14lb... unless it is glass, when it's 5lb! Or unless you take a live animal to be butchered, where the live animal is weighed in 14lb stones and you get back, stone-for-stone, the dressed animal, less offal, hide, etc, in stones of 8lb
>There is the story that a major UK bank in the 1990's was still using an LSD back room mainframe process to run the bank and converting from/to decimal at the interfaces.
>Is it an urban legend?
I read the same story on here, so there is a good chance either way. Although I understood it was still running in the background until well into the 2000s.
In 1999 I worked with a guy who was part time - the rest of his time, apparently, being quite highly paid to maintain software running on some elderly IBM hardware in a couple of South African banks.
He assured me that several banks in British and Commonwealth countries still processed the accounts in Lsd, converting everything from and back to decimal on the fly. I though this was a wind-up - but he never seemed to be the kind who made that sort of joke. Ever since, whenever I have asked anyone who might know more about this, the answer has always been along the lines of "hmm, maybe..."; never has anyone laughed and told me not to believe that silly urban myth.
This - and other things I've learned over the years about that kind of environment - suggest to me that (a) the story is quite plausible and, getting back to the original topic (b) keeping this going was much more lucrative for the consultants rather than converting to a saner system.
"keeping this going was much more lucrative for the consultants rather than converting to a saner system."
While this is undoubtedly true, it's not the whole story.
The real problem is the Mainframe Model involved long-term leases. It sure looked cheap when signing that 50 year lease ... back in 1977, just four years before IBM legitimized the personal computer (in the eyes of Business) when they released the PC. I have seen two 100 year mainframe leases from the early 1960s. From the perspective of those times, it seemed to make a whole lot of fiscal sense. Long-term was the thing back then ... There were actually Nuclear Reactor salesmen pitching sixty or seventy year working lives as a part of their standard sales patter.
I can show you offices in the San Francisco Bay Area that still have functional ISDN (2B+D, no less) due to similar, but more predatory, long-term lease agreements.
A friend of mine, and former boss, retired as a senior manager from a national infrastructure company a couple of years ago. He often recounted a tale from his youthful days while he was still an apprentice back in the early 70's when unionised call out rates and overtime were de rigour.
There was a machine, on a remote site, which had an important purpose. Occasionally it would shut down for no apparent reason. Someone would be called out, it would be checked over, reset, and left to go on its merry way. No fault could ever be found.
One day, while coming to the end of his apprenticeship, due to holidays and sickness or whatever, my friend became the only on-call person over a weekend when the big machine threw another wobbly. He knew it had been serviced just a couple of weeks earlier and various of the consumable parts had been replaced but he was determined to get to the bottom of its random failures and so went the extra mile (or 1609 metres, or lots of linguini as the case may be)......
He proudly turned up for work on the Monday morning, and explained to the boss he had been called out to the big machine over the weekend, and had selfishly worked for many hours and had eventually found a loose wire on a relay contact, which may well have been the cause of the many random failures. His boss went silent for a few moments and then turned purple.... "You've done what????" "You had no authority to do that - you should have just reset it and left like you were told to do" Suitably chastised and humbled he returned to the workshop to be given the cold shoulder by the other engineers. "That was a nice little overtime earner for the lads" one of the others told him. "We all knew about it, even the boss, but no-one from HQ ever grumbled about its frequent downtime, so we made the most of it, and now you've gone and fixed it".
Many years ago I was working on a network rollout for a multi company secure system.
Long story short, one site had all of the hard coded IP addresses set up incorrectly.
I (plus one other guy) said, "We're here in [back of beyond] and there's not much to do of an evening, we can visit the machines and fix them tonight".
Met with some unexpected resistance, but eventually were allowed to do so - provided we were escorted. The escort probably wouldn't have realised if we had been up to mischief and paid us little attention - rather offhand and definitely giving us the cold shoulder. Whole job wrapped up in time to go to the pub.
Next day, we were definitely not the flavour of the month on that site (but thanked profusely by the prime contractor). Found out later that they knew the IP addresses needed changing and had drawn up plans for 5 people to spend 3 weekends at heavy overtime rates to do it; we'd inadvertently deprived them of the dosh and shown how quick/easy the job was.
No good deed goes unpunished
Back in 2008-9 was working on a bunch of banks "merging" after some of them became "financially complicated"
Drove to their secret underground bunker site. Went through a bunch of serious security and were escorted by security guards to their computer room - where the guards let us in and left.
Spent some time worrying if our liability insurance would cover me if I tripped and ripped out the rats nest of cat-5 cables strung between dozens of servers racked at random around me.
The health and safety manager in the office where I used to work very, very grudgingly allowed me a bookshelf one higher than my colleagues had because I am 6'3". However I had to promise never to put anything on it that anyone else might want to read.
A little terminal board using some obscure hard to find memory chips 2114 rings a bell.
Cue me wiring in a considerably larger chip that was still manufactured , and proudly showing to the boss, excepting a well done lad (young and foolish).
To be told its a NATO board that has been approved and cannot be changed, if it has to go through the review process they would probably replace it with a new spec from someone else.
Nice little earner, leave it alone, find the damn chips.
I was at a conference having a beer with a services guy who said they got two sorts of requests from their customer. One looked difficult to the end user, but was in fact trivial, the other looked trivial, to the end user, but was difficult (and expensive). They charged the end user the same for both sorts of problems, and over all made a reasonable profit, so every one was happy.
Yeah, I got bullied out of my first job after Uni for doing that. Turns out my supervisor's ego far outweighed her ability as a programmer, and what I thought was an innocent and helpful suggestion was taken as a cue to systemically poison the workplace for me, and undermine my credibility.
Still, the bright side of that was getting a month's garden leave and getting rid of a 2-hour commute by bus to a toxic dump of a seaside town (see if you can guess which one), the timing of which meant that they were getting an extra half an hour's work from me every day.
I'm left wondering why one individual has down-voted that, but without leaving a comment.
Do they, for instance, think workplace bullying and exploitation of young and naïve staff is a good thing, or do they think that the ethos of continuous learning is something for other people to concern themselves with? Thank $deity that my current workplace is populated by responsible and professional adults and not the sort of fly-by-night chancers that I've had the misfortune to come across in more than one previous job.
Perhaps the down-voter was the person who stitched me up for the sake of her own ego? In which case, her reward is also her punishment, and she's probably still maintaining the same hacked-together non-relational database system that runs on top of Novell Netware.
No question that £sd was an inconvenient system and nearly impossible to automate.
But there's no doubt that having to spend a lot of time at primary school practising arithmetic in £sd and Imperial units was very good training. Perhaps it was time that could have been better spent on other aspects of maths (though to my limited knowledge the subjects included at O Level, as it then was, were more advanced than those in today's GCSE maths).
nearly impossible to automate
One of the problems was that there wasn't really any settled form of implementation, the market was just too small, at least for computers.
I think the IBM 1401 had a "sterling" option fairly early on. PL/I and (some versions of) COBOL supported sterling declarations. There were (at least) two different "standards" for punching sterling values onto cards: a BSI system and an IBM system. Both systems used a single column for pence: the IBM system punched the second row for "10" and the top row for "11" and the BSI system was the opposite (as the order of numbering of the top two card rows was different...). IBM used two card columns to represent shillings (as standard numerics) whereas BSI used overpunching to represent 10-19 shillings using a single column. Both systems could potentially be mixed, so you could have BSI shillings and IBM pence or vice versa...
"I think the IBM 1401 had a "sterling" option fairly early on."
Certainly by 1961 ... My basic Sterling system is not actually installed yet, and may never be. It consists of some 267 extra SMS cards and attendant bits & bobs to make it all play nice. Some assembly required (I have the becessary manuals and schematics). It all tested OK when scavenged from a soon to be scrapped 1401 ... the old codger who helped disassemble it assured me that it would all work just fine in my '63.
Yes, you read that right ... The IBM 1401's handling of Sterling was done in hardware! Not sure what IBM was smoking ... but it worked. Quickly (for the time) and reliably (even by modern standards).
 The ol' gal claims Sterling notation makes her germanium itch something fierce. Maybe I'll have pity on her and find another unit to install it in.
I don't know for certain what is on a GCSE maths paper, but when I took my GCE O level  it was 3 papers.
Paper 1. Mensuration (numerical calculation). Everything up to and including powers - the question I remember distinctly was evaluate 27^^(2/3). No calculation aids at all except scratch paper and a pencil.
Paper 2. Algebra and plane geometry. You were allowed calculation aids (a calculator if you could afford the batteries). Simultaneous equations, quadratics (including finding the roots), ordinary geometry. I remember having to plot a rather complex function that had cubes, squares and more.
Paper 3. Calculus. Nothing too hairy (didn't need to understand the chain rule for instance) but still 'interesting'
All papers needed a minimum of 50% for a pass and a 'D' was with an aggregate average of 65%.
 This was after I left school by some years in the early 70s as I left when I was 15 which was legal at the time. Provided and proctored at a Royal Naval Air Station.
Icon for what I had when the results came back.
No question, such an exam was a hell of a lot tougher than GCSE. I remember doing O-level past papers as practice for A-level.
I basically did not work at *all* to get through the (useful) GCSE's up to and including the exams. Nobody ever complained because I passed everything to a "high" standard. I could probably have sat the exam at 13 or 14 and got reasonable grades; but you know, due process and whatnot never allowed for that.
The problem was by getting into a *very* bad habit of turning up and passing, the point I hit A-level, it was a nigh-on unassailable brick wall. The habit of "study" was was not something I had, and very much a requirement to pass with a grade worth the bother of turning up.
The lesson had to be learned the hard way; not an easy thing to do when there are far more interesting things to do like hacking Doom. I really, really should have done A-levels for another year though I had had it with living at home. University was a godsend; living by own rules, and by that point the habit forming had at least caught up enough to function in that environment.
GCSE's were a dis-service to me, and I see an awful lot of kids with a lot less ability or focus than me; with a LOT more distractions to deal with. For all of the difficulty wall there is a lot to be said for ramping up the difficulty early while your brain is more readily able to handle. Even 25 years ago, a lot of lecturers admitted the first year of many STEM degrees now is spent catching up on material that would ideally have been covered earlier.
But the establishment is happy with it's ill thought out KPI's for everything. Cause-and-effect.
I was working at a UK mobile network operator, whose new CTO was an arrogant individual. He had some bad ideas and also some good ones, many of which were issued as JFDI diktats.
One of his ideas arrived on my desk. The requirement was that it should not be possible for a user to make changes on a switch without change control authorisation; this was to be managed by disabling all user access and providing change control with a scheduler to enable relevant users’ access as per the change schedule. My job was to write the scheduler and front end; end of conversation: do it now!
To be sure that my system was meeting the requirements I created a second utility that periodically downloaded the switches’ change logs and checked to see if any changes were being made that my scheduler could not account for. I found something...
An unknown user was using an unknown access port to run unknown commands. The penny didn’t drop and so, not twigging what department this might be and me being in a rush to plug the hole I’d found, I asked various people I knew throughout the business to try to identify the miscreant.
Next thing I knew I was standing in front of the CTO with some individuals from “lawful intercept”. It turns out that a config error (not mine) had made visible to my log checker their supposedly hidden activities: I shouldn’t have seen what I had seen and certainly not gone asking questions. The CTO, who, up to that point, knew nothing about the intercept activities or my second utility, hated being shown to not know everything.
I got a proper dressing-down from the CTO that afternoon for having gone the extra mile and written the log checker, but nothing more came of things after that so I assume I hadn’t ruffled too many feathers. I deleted the logs I had uncovered and, given that no more showed up, the config error must have been fixed, not that I got any thanks.
I was tasked with reducing the number of incidents a service desk was dealing with. Server side only, the desktop call center was separate. Not my usual line by a longshot, but I took the contract as a few years earlier I briefly dated the woman who oversaw the service desk contract for the managed services provider, and I was able to negotiate a huge rate with her boss.
So I took the approach of figuring out what were the top ten most common incidents, reviewing the information in the tickets about resolution, and trying to find permanent fixes or at least ways of reducing the incidents. Some were not really solvable - one of the big hitters was due to Exchange servers having resource issues like memory or disk and fix was a reboot. All I could do was recommend increasing those resources which of course they wouldn't do because that costs money lol! Some I was able to solve and massively reduce tickets.
One eluded me entirely. This was a Fortune 100 manufacturing company, so of course IT spending wasn't a high priority. Thus there were still some Novell servers about despite the year being 2008 and Novell being woefully obsolete. I figured perhaps due to their age or increasing demand placed upon hardware that couldn't handle it, or both, they were well up the top ten cause of incidents. The thing is, there were never any information in the tickets about the nature of the problem or its resolution. The issue description would be "performance issues" and the resolution field "performance issues resolved". WTF?
To get more information, I emailed a few of the people who had resolved those tickets, but got no response. After trying that a few times I had the "ex" who brought me on board email them telling them who I was and that they needed to respond. The responses I got from them though were terse and evasive.
Eventually I gained their trust enough to get the true story. These Novell servers were on factory floors, and while it isn't clear exactly what they did they needed to function for the assembly line to move. When something goes wrong on the line, like a part is upside down or whatever the assembly line needs to halted to correct the issue. If they press the big button they have to write up some sort of report on the issue, supervisors come down to the floor, it is a big show the line workers don't want to deal with. If they unplug the network cable from the Novell server, the line stops but without all the attention, they can take a minute or two to resolve the issue then plug the server back in and the line resumes on its own.
When line stoppages due to Novell servers started happening a lot more often bosses started asking questions about why they aren't asking for them to be fixed, so they started opening tickets to cover it. Apparently at some point they had explained to the service desk people that they didn't really need to do anything for the terse "performance issues" tickets, just close them. Which they were fine with, as it helped their metrics for ticket resolution. It sounds like everyone in the factory including supervisors was in the know, as well as the service desk people, it just hadn't been communicated to the managed services provider. But since their profit is basely mostly on meeting timely incident resolution KPIs, incidents that are instantly resolved turn out to be a win for them too.
So unlike our hero in the article I ignored these tickets as there was no "fix" needed. Or possible.
Many years ago when I was conducting governmental audits I got into Dutch because of my speed. Not because I was so slow. Rather, because I was so fast. I usually completed an audit in half to two-thirds the time it took everyone else. Since the local governments had to pay for the audits I was kinda proud saving them money. Nope, I was ordered to slow down and waste time.
I am astonished, but not surprised, at the the lack of attention to detail in the article.
The first paragraph contains a glaring inaccuracy. A "mile" (as in "go the extra") would equate to 1.61 km, not 1 km. So "go the extra mile (or kilometer)" should have read "go the extra mile (or 1.61 km)"
This edition of "Yet Another Pedantic Comment" has been brought to you by the Publishers of "Pedantry in the Pursuit of Perfection is no Vice".
Sure it does. It makes PERFECT sense. You just need the historical, and I mean REALLY historical, context.
£ (a stylized L), s, d. Librum, solidus, denarius. Roman money. "Pound" and "librum" still refer to the same unit of weight, the Roman pound, and in Roman times, a 'librum', in money terms, was a pound of silver. The librum was divided into 20 solidii, each divided in turn into twelve denarii, making 240 denarii to the librum. In the Holy Roman Empire the solidus became a gold coin of 1/72 pound weight instead of a silver one of 1/20 pound, and eventually became (by a long and convoluted path) a shilling (from Dutch, schilling), and the place of the denarius was eventually taken by the penny, but the L, s, d symbols for British currency remained long after the names of the original Roman coinage were forgotten by everyone but historians.
And then of course came metrication, which finished the job of breaking any obvious connection between the £ and Roman coinage.
I used to work for a large engineering/manufacturing company. A freind of mine there was in desktop support (a very secure position since we had made the switch from Macs to Microsoft). One group seceratary was complaining about the effort required to type up memos and insert (always different) recipients and internal mailing addresses into each. Jerry (my freind) sat down with her and gave her a simple lesson in Mail Merge. She thanked him profusely. And then followed it up with a nicely worded letter to his supervision.
Next thing Jerry knew, he was called on the carpet by our Information Systems management. For undermining what could have been a large and very lucrative internal project to build and maintain a custom tool suite that would have done this very thing. Jerry quit soon after and went to work for Microsoft.
I once worked in a major police force on a system that had a team of operators transcribing criminal records from microfiche into a database that coud then upload the data to the Police National Computer (PNC). This involved convictions, including fines - some of which were in Guineas, ponds, shilings and pence - down to farthing level. The system captured this data and converted it to decima format in the process. This was quite easy - multiply each unit by the number of pennies in it (252 for a guinea, 240 for a pound, 12 for a shilling etc), add them all together, then divide by 240 and round to two decimal places.
A year or two later, when I had moved on elsewhere, I got a phone call begging me to help by explaining the process to the company who had taken over support - there was nobody in the company that had ever seen "old" money, never mind calculated using it!