Re: Already in Outlook
Disabled is still OK - but "differently abled" is probably better. As in "Outlook is differently functional."
460 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Apr 2008
"the original public sector organisations WEREN'T bad. "
People my age remember when the public sector included car manufacturers who made really crappy vehicles on the occasional days that they weren't on strike, and when waiting months for the GPO to install a phone line was universal rather than being the occasional Openreach screwup it is now.
But that's not the whole picture, and you're right about some areas - the white collar public sector (NHS, education etc) was much better-resourced and more effective than it is now, and I knew people who worked directly in IT roles for the NHS and for local authorities.
But that was when the basic rate of income tax was 33%, and the top rate was in the 80s - and those working in public-sector IT didn't expect six-figure salaries. I doubt that anyone in modern Britain is about to get elected on a manifesto of putting failing public sector organisations back on their feet by upping income tax by half - much as that could well erode inequality and build a healthier and happier nation. People nowadays prefer to keep their hard-earned for spending on gambling, pay-TV, and leasing the latest chelsea tractor for the school run - they don't want some well-meaning lefty fuckwit giving any of it to the poor.
I agree completely.
But there is a genuine problem with the salary levels required for decent IT staff - public sector payscales correlate seniority with salary, and the salary expectation of a decent IT wonk would place them inappropriately high up in the management structure of any public sector organisation. No department director in a local authority wants to find themselves being paid less than a programmer or IT strategist who sits three tiers of management below them.
But it would be both wonderful if a solution to this problem could be found, and direct employment of good IT teams could be viable again in the public sector - and it would certainly save a great deal of taxpayers' money in the long run.
A generation of outsourcing public services for the sake of political ideology has left us with providers who are every bit as awful as the original public-sector organisations, but who are now too big to fail and too intransigent to reform. Reputation only matters to the accountable.
>>Why is it ever done...
Because every institution is different - whether it's a university, local authority, police service or whatever. You might think that something like a police constabulary could have a pretty standard business/process model, but talk to people from the Met and from Devon and Cornwall, and you'll find different. Local authorities are even more different - and universities strive to be distinct from each other, it's in their remit.
But this is not an argument for writing one system and nailing endless customisations onto it. It's an argument for institutions who are large enough to spend millions on SAP etc to employ their own IT staff and software developers, who are in daily contact with the institution's processes and people, and can put together a bespoke system which does AND ONLY DOES everything that institution needs. As a bonus, they get to enjoy job security by continuing to develop those systems in the light of the evolving requirements of the organisations. And the organisation gets the bonus that they are not paying for a massive amount of functionality that they will never use, but which makes the software they do use more fragile and harder to test.
Public sector services are not static systems whose entire workflow requirements for now and forever can be nailed down into a single specification and written into a contract - long experience clearly shows that this is a failed model. Instead of spending millions subscribing to cloudy products, and more millions getting contractors to customise those products - and most especially, instead of changing the established workflow of your organisation to match a one-size-fits-all product off the SAP/Oracle shelf - just spend fewer millions employing your own people who understand (and might even feel loyal to) your own organisation, to (continuously) develop a system which works how your organisation needs it to work.
And for those who will immediately cry "But what about all the time which will be wasted re-inventing the wheel???" - the wheel is being endlessly reinvented, in everything from F1 to inertial guidance systems to Swiss watches. Engineers know that wheels need to be round - but roundness is all that wheels have in common with each other*. All the other characteristics are optimised for the application, as good system design dictates - whether it's wheels or software.
*apart from Ferrari steering wheels, but they are just showing off.
You can tell I'm really old, can't you...
>>The difference is that we've spent quite a bit of time now dumping things that don't break down naturally into material that's recycled by the living environment.
The other difference is the sheer number of people who are now dumping things, compared to even 50 years ago. Stopping humans from making so many more humans has to be a part of the solution.
> we may need liberalization in the repair market.
Backed up by beefy statutory measures in the *repairability* market - an area where raw capitalism and especially the tech giants have failed us miserably. If you can't unscrew the case and replace the battery, you shouldn't be allowed to sell it - even if that does mean that the user pays an extra buck for it at the outset.
Correction - according to the notice, the deadline was 11:59 today, not 23:59 - so thanks to El Reg I've missed my gravy train!
Also - the contact email shown (and mailto-linked) on the notice is NASCommercail@homeoffice.gov.uk - which I can't help thinking is mis-spelled (unless Commercail is a new gummint jargon item) so probably doesn't work. I wonder how many emails they received...
>> "not even a simple error code is displayed"
As opposed to Windows Update errors, which display an error code about which no further information can be found - so useful.
If you're not going to bother publishing a list of what your error codes mean, you might as well just say "Something went wrong". Or perhaps more accurately "Sorry, but Microsoft's piece of crappy software for which you so happily pay through the schnozzle every month has fallen over again.".
Not my recollection at all.
What I remember of the Brexit campaign, especially on the BBC, was the continuous presence of Nigel Bloody Farage on every televised discussion and debate. I think at the time that the Brexit Party had one MP, but they had a voice on every panel - largely because they were officially the only pro-Brexit party, and the BBC decided that giving them an equal platform in comparison with all the Remain campaigners put together constituted "balance". So all we had by way of contribution from the Leave campaign was Farage's ignorant racist stupidity - at least until Boris saw his chance and formed his Tory breakaway group, bringing his own ignorant racist stupidity into the equation.
As some have commented above, it's difficult to achieve balance when you feel you have to give airtime to the nutjobs. If only there had been some contribution from intelligent Leavers, some informed analysis of the economic and logistical consequences of leaving, we might have ended up in a much more functional relationship with the EU than the one we now have - whichever way the vote went. As it was, the nutjobs ran the Leave show - so we left expecting to have our trading cake and eat it (which the EU were never going to let us do), and having signed up to agreements that Boris had no intention of keeping. So Northern Ireland will burn without a tear being shed in Westminster, Scotland will leave the union, we will have fuel and food shortages, and no-one will ask any awkward questions about the extra £350M a week which was promised to the NHS - because we have taken back control. Go us.
A letter in today's Guardian describes the BBC as "supine", and I think that's a fairer description than "biased" - though they are more supine towards the Tories than towards Labour, because the Tories have the power (and in some cases the inclination) to completely break the BBC's funding model, and effectively sell it off to the highest Murdoch.
I really don't think that the BBC in general propounds Tory or Labour views - but they do try really hard to avoid upsetting Tory politicians, and they sin by omission in doing so. And that's a poor show for those of us who remember the glory days of Newsnight and Paxman - I sometimes hear the words "Did you threaten to undermine him?" in my sleep...
It may be a bit heretical to say this here, but I don't agree that peoples' feelings are not a basis for any kind of policy or decision. We make decisions based on other peoples' feelings all the time.
While the article is about quantitative reporting of the percentage of people who feel bullied or harassed, the feeling of being bullied or harassed is a qualitative thing. If only 1% of the sample had experienced the feeling of being bullied or harassed, that remains a serious issue for that 1%, even if quant analysis says that it's only 1% therefore it's not a problem. And for anyone who is tempted to write off qualitative analysis as just bad science - imagine how much more wonderful work just one Alan Turing could have done if he hadn't been bullied and harassed into his grave.
What we are dealing with here is people's feelings, and until someone invents SI units for harassment, bullying and discrimination, we need to deal with this on a qualitative level - which means having strong policies in place, but also acknowledging and addressing peoples' individual fears and experiences.
If someone perceives my interaction with them as harassment, the fact that I'm not (in my own judgement) harassing them lets me off the hook for feeling bad about it. But it doesn't mean that their feelings are silly, or that there's no reason for me to change my behaviour - if I can make a tiny effort to understand what lies behind their feeling, and change the dynamic (for example by crossing the street to avoid walking behind a lone woman), then I'm cool with doing that. Importantly, changing my behaviour is not an admission of being a perp, or acknowledging that someone who doesn't know me is correct to consider me a potential perp - it's just being considerate.
Of course this isn't a cure-all - some people are genuinely paranoid (ie they have an illness), and even when folks have good reasons for feeling the way they do, the dynamics can be very complicated - as in the argument about womens' space which has been taking place between younger trans woman and older feminists.
But we all get plenty of opportunities to act locally and quietly to allay peoples' everyday fears, and to support people who are on the receiving end of bad shit, or who are scared. The world will be a better place if we take those opportunities when they come along, without getting all ariated about who is right and who is wrong.
Things have moved on, and more letters have been coined. Q-Queer is increasingly used for anyone who defines their sexuality as "other than vanilla" - so might include eg polyamorists, kinky folks, and pansexuals (who have a thing for kitchenware).
Best bet if you want to avoid offending anyone is to stop worrying about labels, and just be very nice and respectful to everyone you encounter. It's rare that this is not reciprocated - though you might want to avoid leaving pansexuals alone in your kitchen.
And even if the pun wasn't intended, it was appreciated.
Ahhh - 5Quid host. The first decent hosting company you find after years of frog-kissing (still looking at you 123!) is a bit like your first proper girl/boy/nonbinary-friend. Whatever happened to those guys? I hope they are enjoying a well-earned retirement after selling up, even though I cursed them for doing so at the time.
But I'll throw in an upvote for Stablepoint, they've been pretty good so far.
<icon is Old Git, definitely NOT Windows User> -------------------------------------------^
My dad is 93, doesn't have a smartphone, and couldn't possibly get his head around learning to use one (we've tried). How is he supposed to prove his vaccination status? He has a card - does this plan make the card invalid?
Reliance on any kind of smartphone or technology device for essential public functions and services, not to mention statutory obligations, is just plain discrimination - cost-cutting is not a good enough excuse. It's humiliating enough for him that I already have to do his driving licence renewal, and a lot of his banking.
I think they are unpublished for a reason, and we're only going to get a look at them after a night of the long knives (which for those under 60 does NOT mean using actual knives, please don't call in the armed response boys ...
... oh shit, too late, there goes another front door...).
Perhaps if they put as much R&D into optimising the materials for their computer construction as they do for their engine components, they might get a comparable MTBF.
But they may find a few problems trying to run current OSs on 30-year-old hardware, even if said hardware is in full working order. WIndows10 on an 8086 with 640K RAM and EGA graphics anyone?
Yesyesyes - and they should also be sanctioned for claiming that "we are experiencing an unusually high volume of calls", when what they really mean is "We have a completely inadequate number of staff to deal with the volume of calls we receive all the time". The fines for such bullshit being be a significant proportion of global turnover of *their parent company* - so Plusnet's fine would be calculated on BT's turnover, and [every British hosting company you've ever heard of]'s fine on GoDaddys.
If that's the sum total of the "evidence" coming out of your "debugger", then perhaps you might consider that a significant number of democrats just might have thought something like this:
"Hmm, I usually can't be bothered to get off my fat ass to vote, because it usually doesn't make much difference whether the White House is red or blue. But last time I didn't bother voting, Trump got in, and that was a bit of a game-changer - and not in a good way. So today I'll just mosey on down to the polling station, because I don't fancy four more years of my great nation's leadership being an international laughing stock. Let's make America not embarrassing again."
...that some of that moolah might go into hiring a bunch of knowledgeable cloud-techies to work for the public sector directly, so they can understand the requirements and ensure best value? Rather than hiring in expensive consultancies to tell the public sector what it needs?
But the point that's being made here (not for the first time) is that keeping up with MS's ever-changing settings and rules about the acceptability of email is in itself a full-time job. And when smaller hosting companies are effectively forced to pay someone to do that job, it's fair for them to ask who put MS in charge of what constitutes acceptable email. Don't we have things called RFCs, which define how this internet thingy is supposed to work?
And if you think it only takes 24-48 hours to get Microsoft to take your IPs off the naughty step, you should look through the Reg archives for similar tales of woe. It can be weeks.
(You might also want to note that GMail don't apparently feel the need to do any of this crap, but they run a perfectly decent email service without it. And also that I'm not defending 123-Reg in any way at all - they pissed me off mightily with their crappy customer service in about 2004 and I haven't been back since.)
....Outlook.com / Hotmail and Gmail.com are never ever used to send spam.
Bottom line here is that M$ have a track-record of barring whole networks of smaller hosting companies from being able to send mail to M$-hosted addresses, because either...
...a server somewhere in the rival network sent a nasty message, and M$ quite rightly ban everything from that network to make sure that none of their customers receive anything nasty;
... or ...
...M$ are very happy to see smaller hosting providers crash and burn, because if they reject enough incoming mail from enough smaller providers, the customers of those providers will eventually switch to M$ hosting (or GMail) just so that they can send mail to everyone else who uses M$ hosting.
I think it's interesting that similar stories of barred networks / hosting companies have abounded for a couple of years (https://www.theregister.com/2019/08/22/ionos_outlookcom_email_issues/), but strangely, GMail has never been affected. I guess some rivals are just too big to f*** with - but the smaller ones are easy meat.
Meanwhile, my pidgeon loft is coming along nicely...
It's the stubborn refusal to be beaten, while engaging in an illogical degree of endeavour, which marks the human species out from its more sensible competitors. I have done this kind of thing more times than I can count, and although my life might have been largely wasted (ahem), I have learned a great deal along the way - some of which I can occasionally remember.
And more importantly, on good days I have experienced that sweet moment of triumph when something finally works against all expectation (and common sense) - a feeling which makes it worth getting up in the morning.
And which is all the sweeter for providing an excuse for liquid reward---------^
...the slip fielder "standing with his legs apart waiting for a tickle".
TMS just hasn't been the same since Johnners and Blowers departed (or indeed John Arlott, a radio deity for folks of my vintage) - but it's still been lovely to have it back in the last couple of weeks, and Andy Zaltzman is good value. As comforting as the shipping forecast, or a lukewarm pint on the village green (though of course the village green is now a new-build housing development).
Goodness only knows what the leftpondians are making of this thread - or what it has to do with SpaceX...
I've been playing too, and I'm not sure that you're right about the fees - no-one seems to be talking about removing the option to "add to home screen" in Chrome/Safari, which is the old way to install PWAs. As long as this mechanism remains, PWAs *can* remain free of embuggerance by the app stores.
AFAICS as long as this option remains the option to include PWAs in the stores just means wider visibility, coupled with access to the stores' payment gateways - as detailed in the article. I can see how this would be interesting for developers aiming at mass markets - while those of us developing PWAs which are not aimed at the mass market (mine are components in larger bespoke web services) can continue to make them available from our own websites for free.
But if the OS providers start to talk about removing the Add to Home Screen option, and allowing installation *only* via the stores, then you're right and all bets are off.
Since the Royal Mail was privatised and became just another delivery company, I believe that no-one holds a definitive list of address and postcode data for the UK. Does this mean that the OS is now going to take on that role?
The use of lots of different ("competing"!) address databases causes confusion, and occupants of new-build properties are sometimes unable to receive goods by post, or even sign up for utility contracts, because their address doesn't yet exist on the database used by the supplier or carrier. It would be nice if some official gummint-backed organisation could take on the job of providing an official, definitive address database, with a public API or endpoint. The OS is well set up to do this, as (I believe) it maintains the most up-to-date records of what's actually happening on the ground.
...that the Reg hacks hacked and borked this screen themselves, specifically so they could make all those "bork on" and "never bork alone" puns in the headline?
...because the comment(ard)s above have reminded me that it's been soooo long, and I miss you so much that even an icon on a screen can send my heart (liver?) a-flutter. Please come home soon.