* Posts by Zebad

15 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Sep 2009

A Notepad nightmare leaves sysadmin with something totally unprintable


Re: No keep breaking things

Break things, play around, try stuff out - this is all good, and everyone should do it - it is essential to learning.

But NOT on production systems.

(Admittedly, back in the 90s, we basically only had production systems - at least where I worked (an impoverished research council - but I'll gloss over that detail...)

UK tech freelancer numbers down for first time in 5 years since IR35 tax reforms hit public sector


Real world example...

I have worked under a variety of contractual conditions - direct client contracts and through agencies, both within and outside the public sector.

I worked a few years ago at 'public sector org', outside IR35, the rate was X/day.

They struggle to find the right people with the right skills (both contract & perm), so I was asked if I would return on a number of occasions.

The last time they approached me, was after their bean-counter+legal types had decided that *all* contracts would be inside IR35, regardless of circumstances. I did the calculations and worked out that to achieve parity with the previous (outside IR35) rate, an inside IR35 rate would need to be 1.4X - I put this to them, expecting it to be rejected as too high.

To my surprise, they accepted...

The upshot is that:

* I essentially take home the same net income.

* Public sector org has to pay 0.4X extra

* HMRC collects 0.4X extra in tax, and trumpets this as a 'victory'

* Presumably:

- Public sector org somehow either obtains 0.4X from tax-payer money (i.e. what I paid...!) to deal with the higher contractor budget, or

- Public sector org suffers with an effectively reduced budget

In effect, HMRC have taxed the public sector org, not me, and the net gain to 'UK plc' is 0%.

That's the public sector - the money just goes round in circles. When this lands in the private sector, they have real money to lose if contracts start to fall within IR35.

My gut feeling is that next April, the private sector will divide into two camps:

1. The 'bums on seats' contractor users (like the banks already mentioned): These will initially place all contracts inside IR35 in a knee-jerk reaction, and not change their rates (as we see happening already). They may retain some low-end contractors who cannot easily sell their skills elsewhere, but will lose anyone who is any good. Eventually, they will need to either deal with the contracts properly, increase the rates by approx 40% to attract the skilled contractors back, or just stop using contractors.

2. Organisations who analyse why they need highly-skilled contractors, and bring them in on a time-limited basis (i.e. how it should be done): I believe, after a (hopefully short) period of turmoil next year, that they will tailor contractual arrangements correctly, and these contracts will rightfully be outside IR35. Because it is in their interest to ensure an outside-IR35 arrangement (a 40% saving, effectively), we as contractors will no longer have to battle to ensure that our contracts are outside IR35, end-to-end.

MacOS wakes to a bright Catalina sunrise – and broken Adobe apps


For Adobe 'classic' users, this is like...

... having bought a car (=Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, etc) five years ago, from the main dealer of a major manufacturer (=Adobe) at full price.

The car requires a special oil to run (=32 bit support) for some parts of the car, but the supplier of this oil (Apple) was always planning to remove it from sale in future, and advertised this well in advance - but no problem, it's relatively easy to convert the car to avoid this requirement.

Support for these 'classic' cars was provided until a couple of years ago, but they never bothered applying the conversion, as they have been working exclusively on their new fleet of lease cars.

Today, our old paid-for cars (some only two years old) will stop working. The main dealer says "We're not fixing it because 'ooh we have to move wit the times or some such platitude' Take that car down the scrappy and lease one of our shiny new cars, for many pennies. Thanks for your business, and **** you."

Most reasonable people would be happy trade-in their old car for a new one (i.e. pay a one-off price for the latest version of standalone Lightroom or whatever), but this is not an option because of 'inane platitude'='we don't make as much money that way'. They have royally screwed us over.

Nice work Adobe!

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


Re: has this actually raised any more tax?

Yep, see my reply to another post.

I am engaged at a gov dept, on a rate 40% higher than previously (when it was outside IR35). 40% -> HMRC -> Gov dept -> Contractor bill.

It's bean-counter misdirection, but they can brag about it to the press and the public with nice headline figures.

The 'increased rate' arrangement works to some extent, but it rankles that I now have to pay £1000/month from post-tax income on travel and accommodation - not something an employee engaged directly by the end-client would ever need to do.


Re: £550 million, eh?

I returned to a public sector engagement (not one of the two you mentioned), in which the organisation has deemed that all contracts are within IR35. I told them it would take a 40% increase in rate (from the previous non-IR35 engagement) to make it worthwhile, expecting them to decline. They did not.

So... HM Gov dept pays me 40% extra, then another Gov dept reclaims this in tax and brags about how much money they have 'made'. Durrr...

I can see the private sector simply doing what we all hoped they would years ago, and tailoring contracts and working arrangements to be firmly outside IR35, as I can't see them rolling over and paying 40% extra so easily.

Only one Huawei? We pitted the P30 Pro against Samsung and Apple's best – and this is what we found


Right tool for the job...

Different types of cameras (and I include smartphones in this) have different characteristics - just use the most appropriate one for the situation you are in at the time. There's no need for a war about which type is 'best'

I use:

1. ... my SLR (infrequently now), but if I was shooting birds or sports etc and needed the reach & high-ISO performance - that's what I would use. Generally I don't need the extremes, so I go for less bulk - but it still has its place.

2. ... my mirrorless for most photography as it can match the SLR for most things and it's lighter and smaller - but for the extremes the SLR is still better

3. ... my phone for when I don't have either of the above. It's better than no camera, and is often quite good.

4. Various film cameras for when I want to play around a bit.

I can't speak for the P30, but I have a P20 - as soon as you switch off the default 'vivid' mode (or whatever it was called), it's pretty decent. As with any camera, you need to learn how to set it up to get the best out of it.

'Pro' mode gives you RAW files, exposure compensation, ISO adjustment, shutter speed adjustment and metering modes. The dedicated monochrome sensor is also really nice. (But I'd still rather use the mirrorless if I have it with me!).

Why millions of Brits' mobile phones were knackered on Thursday: An expired Ericsson software certificate


Re: Standby?

Exactly. Relying on a single network = relying on a single point of failure, a basic configuration to avoid if you're setting up a resilient service.

Anyway, my O2 4G is working again this morning, back to the cat pics.

B-Ark passengers to control most IT spend from 2019 onwards


Re: I hate articles like this

Holy Zarquon, singing fish! I used to think along those lines, but then realised that El Reg commentards are basically a virtual community of those friends you just never met at the time. (A bit like usenet used to be, at least the comp.something groups)

Most IT contractors want employment benefits if clobbered with IR35


Robbing Peter to pay Paul

I had a contract with GovDept a year or three ago, and they have asked me back a couple of times.

On the first occasion, the new public sector rules were about to come into play, they didn't really know how to handle it at the time, so I stayed clear.

I am now about to return for a deemed-IR35-caught contract (based on the working practices, I don't agree that it is, but this decision is now in GovDept's hands of course).

However, they have increased rates to compensate, so I'm happy to go along with it. I won't be requiring any employee rights - I'll be paying a fortune from post-tax income on travel and accommodation, but having run the calculations, my net take-home will be about the same.

The irony is that GovDept pays 30-40% more, HMRC collects that 30-40% and via the various budgetry mechanisms uses it to fund GovDept, who now have a higher bill for contract resources.

So HMRC claim "victory" - "look at all this tax we're collecting", but they don't actually gain anything tangible other than additional processes and paperwork. The money is either spent on GovDept to cope with their increased bills, or spent elsewhere (but that's just diverting funds, in essence).

GovDept either loses out (can afford fewer resources, or have to spend money they could use elsewhere) - or they are given more money to deal with the increased bills.

Contractor: No net difference

UK PLC: No net difference

Double irony applies when GovDept == HMRC

HPE UK preps the redundancy ride as Chrimbo looms



You obviously haven't been 'at the coal face' trying to work on an HPE project recently. I have - the offshore PM tries his best, but English is not his first language which makes communication very very difficult.

Also, the 'new style of project management' seems to be to tick documentation boxes and meet arbitrary deadlines at all costs, no matter what garbage that results in.

"Look at how many boxes we've ticked Mr Customer - now you must pay us". Forget actually *thinking* about what is being done, planning outside the fixed-process-cos-that's-what-we've-always-done, and the best interests of the clients.

Scientists love MacBooks (true) – but what about you?


A calculated decision

I'm a trained scientist, but have been in (Unix/flavours of) sysadmin for many years.

Moving into the contract world last year, I needed a machine which satisfied the following:-

1. Unix (flavour) OS

2. Light/portable

3. Loads of RAM (to run multiple VMs)

4. Decent display (for photo processing)

5. Able to run Lightroom (one of only two commercial applications I use) natively

The only system which met all these requirements was a Macbook.

A simple choice, and vendor agnostic.

I dislike being lumped in with the "fans" - it's a decent bit of kit (and actually quite decent value when you weigh up all the spec, including the display (and the fact that you can get them a bit cheaper if you don't buy via the usual Apple cartels)). But, it's a tool, no more.

When Lightroom runs natively on Linux, the choice for me will be different. Last year, there was one choice.

As an aside - it's perfectly possible to run Apple kit without buying into the whole Apple ecosystem. Firefox, Thunderbird, Chrome, Google (for calendar/file storage etc) - works fine. Thinking about it, I only really run the Apple desktop and Apple terminal applications, the rest are third party.

HP cuts 27,000 workers


Here we go again...

The internal memo states "At the end of 2009, we reported a workforce of about 304,000. At the end of 2010, we had almost 325,000 employees and at the end 2011, that number had ballooned to nearly 350,000. Over that same period, we saw year-over-year revenue growth of 10 percent in 2010, of 1 percent in 2011… and so far in 2012, revenues have been declining.

We’re struggling under our own weight. And we’ve got to restore a healthy balance in order to return HP to its position as a growing… thriving… innovating… industry leader. That’s what this is all about. And the workforce reduction is only one piece of a comprehensive effort. We see a lot of opportunity to remove complexity, streamline and reduce costs in a number of areas across HP."

So we employed 46000 extra people over two years of global financial downturn and are now wondering why this might have caused a problem...? FFS!!!!!

Nominet forgets what the first .uk domain name was


Probably one of the ac.uk domains on this list?

I recall my workstation (resc9.bbsrc.ac.uk - a Sun IPX, hosting some plant path electron micrograph images - along with being my general use development & games-playing system!) being the 92nd advertised web server in the uk - I can't remember which list it was on, way back in the mists of time - I do recall that at that time, .co.uk wasn't around (or at least I can't remember it).

This list has 422 known servers in the UK, 389 in the .ac.uk domain, with 100 unique .ac.uk domains - so this list was created a while later - but it's the only one I can now find that lists my workstation, so it's a starting point.

There's a high probability that the first registered domain will be among these 100.


Pay-off or lay-off: HP calls on 700 staff to heed redundo plea


The masters of corporate gobbledegook

I work for HP - I've now lost count of the number of culls of whatever-they-call-the-group-I'm-in-this-week in the 3.5 years I've been here (at EDS initially).

Every time, phrases such as "benchmarking cost structure" come out of the gobbledegook-generator. Face it, why not just say "we want to cut costs by sacking people, again"...? We all know what you really mean anyway, and it would save time. Corporate-speak impresses no one but the simple-minded...

It would be nice to think that the "bestshore" guys were better/cheaper, then at least we could resign ourselves to the reality, but in practice, we end up hand-holding them and usually substantially reworking entire projects so that they don't go down the pan. This is not-value-for-money, but of course these activities are not seen by the dividend/bonus-grabbing upper management, and are ignored by middle-management, who have no powers except the ability to update a couple of corporate reporting websites with new works of fiction.

The bean-counters don't care about the quality of work or skills/experience, just the bottom-line; this has manifested itself in the latest "700+ engineers are to go, but we're about to hire 1000s of salespeople" announcements.

So - salespeople, get yourselves to the agencies, there's loads of new jobs selling services that (very soon - we're close to it now) will be impossible to deliver.

In the same organisation, on a current project, we have an estimated one-person-year of engineering time (which is realistic, it's a reasonably large/complex project) - at the same time, we have one-person-year of project management time estimated (funnily enough, estimated by the project management office).

One-to-one project management?? If I was looking to cut costs, I know where I would be looking. I wouldn't mind if the particular PMs on this project did anything other than demand status reports against their fictional timescales, which are based on their extremely poor understanding of what the *real* work entails. [NB: This does not apply to all HP project managers I've worked with, some are excellent - they know who they are]

As soon as the market picks up properly...

AMD to reverse pay cuts



... they're the first company to cotton on that once the market picks up again, people that have been treated badly will jump ship at the first opportunity?