* Posts by Etienne

19 publicly visible posts • joined 2 Oct 2007

Cable lays plan for graduate tax

Black Helicopters

Just softening us up ... surly

Its such an obviously absurd idea ... surly it must just be softening us up for raising higher education fees.

Bloodhound supercar is 'recession beater', says promoter


Want more engineers and scientists?

PAY THEM MORE... people aspired to be bankers, not for the job but for the rewards.

You'll always get the engineering "starving artists" who do it for the love of the subject but if you want more normal people to aspire to be engineers then you must pay more for performing that role... otherwise they'll take their strong analytical skills and become accountants or bankers.

Small pay checks don't buy nice cars and nice houses and don't get you a good looking girlfriend/boy friend... and guess what most teenager care about!

Jacqui Smith resurrects 42-days after Lords rejection


We ought always to deal justly, not only with those who are just to u

We ought always to deal justly, not only with those who are just to us, but likewise to those who endeavor to injure us; and this, for fear lest by rendering them evil for evil, we should fall into the same vice. (Hierocles)

UK.gov and UK.biz pour £60m into IT skills gap


Why not a skill academy for accountant and lawyers?

If IT workers were in really short supply then IT jobs would pay more...

Clearly its accountant and lawyers we are really short of... what we need is a skills academy to train more of them and thereby reduce the impact of their hefty pay packets on the economy...

Most 'malfunctioning' gadgets work just fine, report claims


poor product design

"Lazy consumers blamed for most product returns" -- This is more about poor user interface design than consumers being lazy.

Say what you like about apple but at least their consumer products are usable by real people with better things to do that read a 1000-page instruction manual.

Landmine charity: Ban the killer robots before it's too late!


loss of check and balance

Today any government that wants to wage war or repress its people has to have the cooperation or at least acceptance of a fairly sizable chunk of the population (the armed forces to some extent their friends and families).

This creates a check and balance on central government, especially as access to global media becomes more and more widespread.

A robot army completely removes that check and balance and puts total control in the hands of a small group of people that we hope are not incompetent and not evil... do you think those are rare traits amongst politicians?


Loss of accountability and discretion

Given the outstanding record of government for flawless and secure IT projects why not give them control over a growing arsenal of robot killing machines?

Just imagine... it won't just be muddled appointment and incorrect tax demands that civil servants could avoid accountability for ... "sorry there's a problem with computers today"

We-think, I-think ... and Groupthink


April fool?

Is this just a wind up?


one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration

The student said "she would have a great idea, but felt unable to guarantee that she wasn’t 'stealing' it."

Surly plagiarism is more concerned with people cut'n'pasting large parts of other people's work, not sharing the same ideas.

In the case of an essay the hard work is constructing the argument to support the idea, understanding the consequences of the idea and writing all this down concisely and readably. It doesn't matter if the idea is new or old, commonly held or unusual... ideas are cheap, its implementation that counts.

Everyone with any spare time comes up with hundreds of ideas for inventions, ways to improve the government, plots for books or TV shows... The silly part is then complaining that "I came up with it first" when someone else actually puts in the 99% effort to make something happen. Even if all they do is go though the pain of getting a patent.

DAB: A very British failure


The impact of replacing 100M perfectly good Radios

If people are coerced to switch it would be interested to assess the environmental impact of replacing 100M perfectly good but made-obsolete Radios?

Are organizations and government only concerned for the environment when it means we pay higher process or more tax, not when it gets in the way of their ramrodding.

BT preps 2000 per cent evening call price hike


Vote with you wallet

Switch to cable if you can or use the line only for ADSL and make the calls using Voice over IP.

Parliament ponders the weight of e-petitions


maybe that explains the lack of postings?

"At the time of writing there are a paltry nine posts on three subjects."

Have you tired logging in ... after several attempts I can't get a validated account... maybe that explains the lack of postings?

California to snatch control of citizens' air-con


there's always an override - it's just a matter of figuring it out

The apartment complex I once lived in forced these things on their tenants as part of a deal to save them some money with the electricity supplier.

They claimed it "wouldn't make any effect the temperature" if they cut off the A/C power for 20min/hour at peak time "because A/C units cycle anyway"

... Fortunately a least a few tenants had grasped enough basic high school physics point out in no uncertain term they were talking rubbish.

By the way - service techs also need to be able to get the A/C running during repairs so there's always an override - it's just a matter of figuring it out.

Citizen's panels to put DNA database under microscope


safeguards & real-world experimental procedures

Keith T has a good point: As a safeguard the number (not identity) of matches for all searches against the database should be made public record. That way Judges and Juries will be able to see for themselves whether multiple hits crop up or not.

Also the odds of a "1 in 1,000,000,000 [...]" are so large they are surly be derived theoretically not statistically from real trials. In that case is there an assumption of perfectly collected samples, perfect lab equipment and perfectly carried out experimental procedures? Surly in the real world these carry a far greater risk of producing bad results?

Thumb Up

Voting by the full population is best kept for elections

This actually seems like a great idea: I'd much rather have a report by a few ordinary people as long a they have taken the time to get *properly informed*. The alternative of having the whole country vote based on what they've had time to read in their newspaper or half-catch from a ratings-hungry TV documentary seems feeble.

Voting by the full population is best kept for elections; otherwise we'd all have to spend all out time trying to understand the gory details of every issue. Not just the titillating parts the media pre-digest and package up for us.

Clearly the selection of a subset of "ordinary" people is subject to abuse, as is the selection of the material and experts presented to them. But still there are clear parallels with the Jury system which has severed us well for centuries and hasn't been bettered.

Darling admits Revenue loss of 25 million personal records


Symptomatic of a bigger problem

The chancellor blamed mistakes by junior officials at HMRC.

Why aren't there safeguards enforcing high-level review and authorization for this type of access?

Of course junior officials must have access to *individual* records but what on earth are they doing with unmonitored access to the *entire* database?

Does this mean any junior official could just walk off with the entire database in their pocket?

Small print is ignored and needs a rethink, govt study says


There is an fix if there was a will to do so

Companies have an incentive to make these agreements difficult to read and understand because it lets them have all the terms and conditions their way and prevents consumers from shopping around.

This could be fixed by holding Companies Legally responsible to the average layman's understanding of the small print would quickly fix the problem.

How could that be judged? It would be fairly easy for companies defend themselves by showing they had conducted a survey of, say, 100 people and 95 of them understood correctly. Much larger surveys are performed for marketing purposes.

Darling won't move over gains tax


Small businesses a soft target

Has anyone seen numbers on the percentage of new tax revenues that will come from private equity vs. hardworking small businesses? If the majority is from small businesses then clearly the claim that the target is private equity is rubbish.

Increasing tax on small business is less risky to votes than increases taxes on the general public. This makes small businesses a soft target for Mr Brown who clearly more willing to risk stifle this engine of the economy than his votes. Businesses should compensate for the tax with a coordinated price rise accompanied by a clear message to all their (voting) customers about who is ultimately to blame.

Dutch pull the plug on e-voting


Keep It Simple

Designers of secure or high-reliability systems know that simple is best in these areas. Any extra complexity is just a route for loop-holes and mistakes to creep in.

Paper and pencil are a simple and elegant system that has worked well for years. It is reliable, understandable and has the confidence of the public. If speed of counting is really an issue then the machines used to score multiple choice exams work just fine. They may not be new and exciting but they are tried and tested and they would preserve the voting slips for human verification as required. It is mind boggling to me that any country would waste tax payer's money on anything else.