* Posts by Starkadder

61 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Dec 2009


Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50


Re: Too early for a Godwin?

This article is not about the history of IBM but about the the S/360 and its descendants. These machines did not appear until twenty years after the end of WW2. Axe grinders should post their complaints elsewhere.

Elon Musk slams New Jersey governor over Tesla direct sales ban


Re: right idea

Depends on the tax law. In California, for example, I have to pay the State of California (who need the money, bless them) the sales tax rate applicable to my home, or my business if it is a business purchase. I cannot escape this as I have to show the correct tax has been paid to get my tags for the vehicle.

Ill communication delays NHS England's GP data grab for six months


No. Thanks.

DoB plus postcode are all that is needed to identify any individual in the country. 40% of GPs have already opted out, and when the rest of them are told that care.data will, in effect, publish their medical records for everyone to see many more will opt out. If my GP writes to me and tells me he will opt in then I'll think about it, but for now I have taken the only safe course and opted out.

Thought you didn't need to show ID in the UK? Wrong


Re: Yawn.

Those of us who objected to the last government's ID card scheme mostly had no trouble with the idea of an ID card per se (it contained the same info as a passport, after all). It was the monstrous register that was going to record every online use of the cards that stuck in our gullets. There were intended to be plenty of those, and the system would keep the records for all time. "We know where you've been buster, pay up or we'll tell your wife". Cardholders could look at the records, although the procedures for error correction and dispute resolution were vague? But the Security Service, UKBA, HMRC and (probably) anyone wearing a helmet could also look at your records without your knowledge. No thanks.

Health minister asks elderly patients what they think of data-sharing


It is not just about the data

On the whole the public have no great faith in the government these days. They have good reason no to. Recently census data, by law kept secret for 100 years, was revealed early because of lawsuits by a persistent troublemaker. We all know that government staff have lost confidential citizen data, and their attitude to data security often seems cavalier. A key indicator here is the law. The amount of money available for legal aid is being reduced, in part because the public sector is facing so many lawsuits brought by aggrieved citizens.

Do I trust the gummint with my personal data - no i don't. Look at the plans for ID card data, which were going to made freely available to the fuzz, spies and tax collectors. The only person who was not going to know who had been looking at my data was, er, me.

When it comes to the widespread accessibility of medical data the medical profession itself sees less benefit in having patients' data instantly available in, say, A & E, than you might think. This is largely because, if you are dealing with the aftermath of an accident, there are not too many choices as to what to do. If you are not dealing with an accident then usually the patient can give a current picture of relevant medications and physical condition. Online patient records have a nasty habit of being out of date or just plain incorrect.

A paperless NHS is not an error-free NHS, nor does it relieve the treating doctor of using his senses at first hand. Look, touch, feel are still important.

That enough, folks? Starbucks tosses £5m into UK taxman's coffers


Yes, but

“The amount of corporation tax a company pays should be a fair and accurate reflection of the profits it is making in the countries where it does business.” -

If UK companies with international subsidiaries all did that Margaret the profits remitted to the UK would decrease drastically. Is that what Margaret Hodge wants?

Rubbish IT means DEATH for UK Border Agency, announces May


Try this for size Ms. May

I have no doubt that the good folk at what used to be called UKBA will be telling the Home Secretary that they can do a wonderful job if only she would triple their budget. For three times the money they will check everyone in and out and catch lots of terrorists, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and nasty people. She will say "no way" and tell them they are incompetent. The usual civil service wrangles will follow.

But there is a way forward. If the UK implemented the Schengen agreement, as it was always supposed to, EU travellers' credentials would not be checked either in or out, so the available resources could be devoted to non-EU arrivals (and departures). This would mean relying on other EU states not to let in terrorists, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and nasty people - but they seem to be rather more efficient at that than UKBA has been. An incidental benefit is that all the other EU member states would no longer have costs in checking arrivals from the UK, which might make them feel the UK was behaving as a responsible member of the EU for once. What's not to iike?

Analysts slash Ultrabook sales estimate by over 50%


"PC buyers are more thifty." I always thought there was something funny about them. apple buyers are of course thiftless.

Number-plate spycams riddled with flaws, top cop admits


It is just plain illegal and shoud be stopped

I have a right to privacy under the European convention on Human Rights. As a European citizen I also have the right to travel freely freely wherever I want to go in the European Union. The whole ANPR system is illegal, as it spies on citizens who are not suspects and stores information about them which is private (i.e. their legal journeys). It should be scrapped. I am amazed that it is allowed to stay in operation. I am also a California resident and know that any such system would never be allowed by Californians, who actually believe in their ability to have a private life.

ICO could smack Google Street View with fine after all


Re: "Individuals can reclaim their privacy on the internet at any time"

It isn't that simple. I live in a terrace and repeated requests to remove my house have not worked (even though it was illegally photographed from a private road, where Google had no rights to be.)

NHS axes HealthSpace: 'Just too difficult' to use


Re: Another triumph for the private sector

Because HealthSpace never had a real user, it was just an NHS wet dream. When profit oriented businesses buy IT they ask what it is for, who is going to use it, and how it will save money and/or improve their business operation. HealthSpace would never have passed first base in any private business.

I registered and tried to use it. It is worse than Gutteridge said. It is not "too difficult to use," it is useless.

Brits guard Facebook passwords more than work logins – survey


Re: Remembering a password is no harder than remembering a phone number

I just checked. I have 51 login/password combinations recorded on a file that i keep "somewhere". Many of these are not used often enough for me to remember. A lot of them are passwords that were forced on me by the site and are next to impossible to remember. not the same as phone numbers at all. I'm retired, and a lot of us oldies use the web a lot, but our memories are not as good as they once were. So don't tell us to start remembering lots of passwords, 'cos it ain't going to happen.

British Medical Association calls for long, slow rollout of NHS 111


Re: Re: Re: Given that NHS Direct is already a massive waste (@teebie)

Nobody said the NHS is a massive waste. They said that NHS Direct is a massive waste, a different comment altogether. NHS Direct costs more than going to see a GP, so in that sense it is a waste, although one must be careful about the scale of "waste" in the NHS. Compared to say, some of the IT programs, NHS Direct costs are minuscule.

If you think the "hallmark of civilisation is high-quality healthcare provided free at point of delivery and available to anyone, regardless of any consideration", then why is it no country provides this? Are there no civilised countries? The NHS is a medium quality service delivered free. Many other countries which are by most counts civilised do not have free healthcare at point of delivery, although it is often heavily subsidised.

Indonesian train roof fare-dodgers given the brush off


British Rail, actually

The Lion went away in the mid-1960s, when the name was changed from British Railways to British Rail. So in the 1980s its correct name was British Rail, whose logo is an arrow pointing in both directions, known as the arrow of indecision.

New dole system is 'digital by default', like it or not


Interesting Facts

More than half the people living in social housing do not have internet access. Half the people living in social housing are disabled. Five million households are in social housing. Two thirds of households in social housing claim Housing Benefit, and most of these also claim Council Tax Benefit. Most, but I don't have a figure, social housing tenants are also claiming other benefits (disability, unemployment etc.). Do you see where this is going?

EU asks why credit cards are so expensive



Can you quote the law? Is this UK, EU or what? My understanding has been that if the correct PIN is used in a fraudulent transaction the bank washes its hands of the the problem, which is a major reason why I don't use chip and PIN cards, as the system is inherently insecure and has no protection for the cardholder.

Using phone-tracking tech? 'Fess up now, urges expert


Or just don't use a cellphone

I used to have one but gave it up when people started calling me at inconvenient moments. Life is much simpler without them. and I'm unimpressed by the need to contact people "urgently." It is seldom the case.

Gov websites' value not at all clear despite trimming


That wasn't the question

The point here is that Directgov and its companions have not shown their value, not that gov. websites in general aren't useful. Directgov is a waste of space. I always google the actual thing I need and get taken straight to it. Directgov is a miserable attempt at a portal where none is needed.

Cross-border shopping wars: EC proposes free online arbitration

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Good news from the European Commission

We need this yesterday. It will be a massive stimulus to online sellers who have invested in their ordering and fulfillment systems, and with luck it means bye-bye to many of the cheats and scams. No discussion of how it affects eBay trades that go wrong though.

Visa to tell shops where their punters' wallets went next

Big Brother

Tell that to the Judge

This argument would not stand up in court by itself. But a careful reading of your card's T&Cs might reveal that by using the card you gave up your right to privacy. There is also the question of who owns the transaction data - the shop, Visa, the bank, or some combination..

Big Brother

It is worth it

Ever since the banks transferred the risk in card based transactions from themselves to me, by insisting on insecure PINS rather than secure (from the customer's point of view) signatures, I have moved to cash. It has the disadvantages you mention, but the huge benefit of anonymity. I am not going to use a card these days if I can help it for the same reason I would have avoided using one of the last government's hated ID cards, with its attendant usage records. Similarly I will not have a smart meter in my house, with its potential for snooping on my behaviour.

Many shops operate on wafer thin margins, and the financial system may make more profit out of their card based transactions than they do themselves. I've never seen a shopkeeper complain when I've offered cash, and it can often get you a discount or favourable treatment.

Google leads shoppers into pay-by-wave future

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Right on

I had lunch the other day with the guy who says he introduced chip and pin to the UK banks. He was amazed when I paid by cash, waving his credit card with NFC logo at me and saying that was the way forward. My answer was that the guy at the next table had just read his card with some nifty electronics he acquired in Israel (or wherever) and paid for his own lunch on my friend's card. Since chip and pin I have pretty much gone back to cash except for unavoidable occasions - and always sign for credit card purchases. Then, and only then, do I have full legal protection against fraud and theft.

Half of Whitehall's websites axed in a year

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But it's not


NHS claws back £170m refund on duff IT system


Not so

You are confusing effort with result. The company has produced nothing useful or usable, but that does not mean that scores of folk in cubicles on CSC's payroll haven't been working on the project.



The dollar has risen by 7 cents (from $1.61 to $1.54 against the pound) since 1 April.

MPs: 999 HQ revamp FAIL cost £469m


No they can't

(actual example). "There's a burning narrowboat on the canal about half a mile east of Bridge XX on the Kennet and Avon canal. There are injured people on board including one invalid with mobility problems. (Bridge XX is a farmer's bridge, not on a road, and doesn't have a postcode . . .)

BBC website ditches modules in facelift


It's too much

The new BBC Home Page is far too busy and uninformative. If they carry this treatment over to their news stories, which are well presented, I won't be using the site at all.

'Amazon Tax' California decision pushed back a year


It isn't that hard to work out

Collecting sales tax in California is not that hard. The rates do not "vary all the time". They are available on-line through the State Board of Equalization and the rules for their application are straightforward. The quarterly sales tax return is mildly headache making if done on paper, but anyone who runs an operation of any size in California will have a computer system that tracks all this. Sales tax usually applies at the point of sale, it doesn't vary except for cars and construction materials which are taxed by point of use. The rules for the application of sales tax are fixed throughout the state, it is only the actual rates that vary by local jurisdiction.

It is actually a sales and use tax. All Californian taxpayers have to declare all purchases they have made on which they did not pay tax on their annual state tax return. That currently would include anything bought from Amazon - they must then pay the state tax at the appropriate rate, so says state law. No-one ever does though, which is why they want to collect the money from Amazon and other online retailers instead..

London public transport tap-cash plans will be 'entirely safe'


What law

This is news to me, what is the law? Is it applicable internationally?

NHS diabetic gizmo will text for help if wearer is in danger

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Diabetes doesn't "just go away." There are more than enough ignoramuses peddling "cures" out there already. And your recommendations would kill the average Type 1 diabetic in a week or two.

IT Angle

Wrong answer, right problem

Texting or alerting an NHS professional is a silly way of solving this problem. The first thing to do is alert the diabetic that his or her blood sugar is dropping. They will normally have time to deal with the problem themselves. If they are asleep the alarm would be via an alarm or phone call. Only if the glucose level kept dropping do emergency services need to be warned. For those who live on their own the best emergency service is probably their next door neighbour.

Home Office faces £500m demand in e-Borders sacking

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But no terrorists

Which was the prime purpose of the system in the first place.

ID and Passport Service uncloaks 2012 online plans

Big Brother

Funny name

Why is it still called the "Identity and Passport Service"? The ID card scheme was scrapped last year and, as far as I know, the only function of this body is to issue passports. Or do they know something the rest of us don't?

Cabinet Office ends website test


Why does anyone use Directgov?

I never bother - just put my query into my search engine of choice and await results, which are usually pretty much what I was looking for. Any single government website is a waste of space - much better to improve the individual sites so you can actually do what you want on them (including filling in all forms online and signing digitally).

Gov coughs extra £81m for firefighter command & control


Who is doing this?

EADS and PA have been fired from the FiReControl project. Or have they? There is no one at CLG who has the least idea how to assess the Fire and Rescue Services' applications for the £81m. So I wonder who will be doing this. The announcement is fascinating for what it does not tell us.

Google: Go public on Profiles or we'll delete you


Search me, guv

Just looked at my gmail and can't figure out if I even have a profile - so don't know how to delete it (or change it for suitably incorrect information. Conclusion: is this a problem no one is actually going to bother about?

Stieg Larsson: Oxfam's number one best seller


Well, perhaps

Have you actually run the numbers? It's a plausible and attractive theory, but not necessarily true. It does raise all sorts of other questions in one's mind though. for example, what percentage of those buying Dan Brown books actually finish them (or even start them)?

Auditor declares FiReControl a 'comprehensive failure'


But they were only doing their job

The civil servants concerned were trying to implement Blair's brilliant idea about 9/11 type incidents. The idea was given shape and form by John Prescott, who clearly articulated, at the right level of technical detail the way FiReControl would work. Or so i am told. The civil servants were just carrying orders, They plodded round the Fire Brigades explaining how Blair's brilliant idea would work and got very upset when they were told what they could do with it.


They never learn

I know the person who had this bright idea. It seemed, in Whitehall, perfectly logical and reasonable. It wasn't - but their minds could not see past their civil service training into the minds of the people delivering emergency services. Whitehall deeply despised the Fire Brigades for being antiquated, inefficient, unco--ordinated and - worst of all - independent of them. Fire Brigades had a fairly healthy contempt for Whitehall which they showed (undiplomatic I know, but they had good reason).

FireControl was not about efficiency, modernisation, shiny technology etc. It was a way for Whitehall to take charge. If it had ever worked the independence of local Brigades would have gone for ever, and they all knew that. Good riddance. Er, anyone want a purpose built command and control centre designed for fire brigades only, with a thirty year lease? You could probably work out a good deal with CLG - they're stuck with the leases.

Efficiency and Reform Group 'has saved over £3bn'


The real numbers are under the blotter

It is not clear where the money all comes from. It may be a change to service contracts or a reduction in one time costs. We are not told. It may be a mix of the two. It is not hard to save money, even if the civil service are not up to their job. The present government have canned ID cards,

ContactPoint, and FireControl. They sent Raytheon off with their tail between their legs over e-Borders. And all those projects carried huge start up costs plus ongoing service and maintenance. The only way to get the private sector on their side is to pay the cost cutters by results.

Budget airlines warned over 'hidden' debit card charges


Not Quite!

You really don't understand the DD system. I was there when it was invented, there when it was revamped after torrents of customer complaint and there again when the banks did their best to avoid OFT criticisms of the system. The Dd system was introduced at the request (more like command) of large manufacturers and distributors who wanted to make sure they were paid for supplies by retail outlets. They wanted to debit the little chap's bank account at the same time (often before ) he got his goods. Insurance companies saw it as a good way of collecting premiums, and companies with annual fees (eg National Trust) realised they could crank fees up gradually and most members would not cancel their subscriptions.

As time went by the thorny issue of "what to do when things went wrong" came up and the banks had to issue the "Direct Debit Guarantee" which appears to say that if you have been wrongly debited you are entitled to an instant refund of your money. In practice banks are extremely reluctant to refund money debited where the debit is subsequently disputed. To this day they have considerable costs in this area, because if a DD is disputed it can take a lot of bank time to resolve the problem.

The joke is that there is no need for DDs at all. They are a "pull" system (the money is sucked out of the payer's account by the payee). Standing Orders are a pull system (the payee commands his bank to pay the bill regularly) and online payment allows the payment of bills as and when the payee requires. All three systems are fully automated. whenever required to ay by Dd I always meekly sign the authorisation, cancel it as soon as one payment has been made (as my bank statement then shows me where the money went) and set up a standing order instead. The payment processing costs for the recipient are effectively the same in all circumstances and, the cash flow should not be affected.

A note to the author of the article. lines are toed, not towed, unless airplanes are pulling signs behind them, in which case they may be towed.

Alpha.gov.uk preps for beta, prays for funding


You really don't know?

It was invented by the previous (non-computer literate) government.

It is rather meaningless.

The term gov usually means "the boss".

There is no need whatever for a single website as google (insert other search engine if required) will always find what you re looking for more quickly.

Post Office going tap-cash in 2012


Back to cash then?

No way I'll be using one of these. The insecure chip and PIN is bad enough, I'll be going to the ATM more often i suppose. Oh well . . .

Cabinet Office talks to Facebook & co about new ID system


I know who I am

The UK government can make no claim to be authoritative on the score of my, or anyone else's identity. They do not own me, I am not a servant of their state. The government exists to provide certain services for the common good. My identity belongs to me, not to them.

UK net banking website falls flat on its bank


Works now

Site is working fine at 8.15 am Wednesday 19 April.

e-Borders snares 2,800 possible crims, 5 tons of baccy


Not clear on the concept

You clearly do not get the 'privacy thing'. We all have a right to go about our business without being monitored by the authorities or quizzed on the reasons for our journeys. The ANPR system is a gross invasion of privacy. Collecting information because it might be useful down the track somewhere is actually against the law - although our spineless and powerless ICO will not do anything about it. European law says that failure to provide the information demanded by e-Borders cannot be used as a reason to bar travel, and that carriers must so inform their passengers. The British have steadfastly ignored this inconvenient little fact, but it is clear that at present the entire e-Borders system is in serious breach of EU regulations - the main one being that all EU citizens have the freedom to travel from cone member state to another within the EU without our journeys being recorded. e-Borders is going to record every journey you make, even within the EU, for 10 years. Not allowed!

Labour moots using speed cameras to reward law-abiding drivers


Get Lost

The intrusive and invasive ANPR system operated by the ACPO is of doubtful legality. Our main concern should be closing it down, not using it to spy on people even more. Eagle has completely lost the plot.

Councils show true grit in the face of ... FOI requests


look elsewhere for corruption

You make an unsupported statement that many in business or the professions are corrupt, and then extend it by alleging, by a false analogy, that many council officials will be corrupt. This is a blaggardly slur for which you have adduced no evidence.

Queen set to outlaw ID cards today


Or even ennoble

Oh they do, they do. It's called HS2.

Cabinet Office claims major savings on ICT



Cutting back on stuff that makes this country work: that includes ContactPoint, ID cards, Vetting and Barring and the bodged Fire Control Centres?

A (very) senior civil servant has admitted to me that the civil servants had a lot of (very rude, they have no manners she says) Labour Ministers breathing heavily down their necks who all wanted bright gleaming IT Projects that would "Solve a major problem." Neither Labour Ministers nor civil servants understood that the approach to most big systems is necessarily incremental. Do what you know how to do, and do it well. The DVLA, for example, has never run a world shattering IT system, but what it does pretty much works, not brilliantly, but it works. That's because there are no big brownie points to be earned by introducing shiny all new all singing all dancing programs into an office staffed by relatively low rankers in Swansea. Makes you think