* Posts by John Diffenthal

48 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Mar 2010

Wanna slice of £6bn? Set up an IT supplier and apply to the UK.gov

John Diffenthal

Re: Just like the MoDs FATS framework

Some of these frameworks have been set up to try and break down the amount which is supplied by "the same old faces".

G-Cloud is claiming a high proportion of sales by SME vendors (about 60% to the end of March 2014) on sales of £175 million. That said, as a buyer, G-Cloud needs serious work if it is going to be genuinely useful. At present it is a long way from offering quick and easy procurements of commodity style products and services which it offered buyers at its inception.

MIT boffins moot tsunami-proof floating nuke power plants

John Diffenthal

Re: OK, but how do you get the power back to land?

The example you quote is for fixed end points - depending on the nature of the floating nuclear generator there could well be movement at one end, hence my question.

John Diffenthal

OK, but how do you get the power back to land?

I assume that someone has thought through the problems of creating a marine EHV cable capable of carrying 20kV or so?

MtGox finds 200,000 Bitcoin in old wallets

John Diffenthal

"It's surely also bad news inasmuch as it shows the outfit was not very organised. "

I think we had got that point already ...

FORCE gov.uk suppliers to stick to 'open data principles' – MPs

John Diffenthal
IT Angle

"However, the Committee said that there were too many restrictions preventing public data from being disclosed and said that there should be a shift in emphasis to ensure data is published more often."

That sentence provides the clue ... it has nothing to do with data formats and everything to do with the government's transparency agenda. There seems to be a general feeling that too many outsourced contracts put up strong defences to FOIA requests because the contract is being operated by a private contractor rather than a central or local government entity. Southwest One (now painfully unwound) certainly used the tactic and I imagine that others do too.

Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it's serious

John Diffenthal

<pedant>In the UK, nouns and verbs are often differentiated by the letters c and s. Licence is a noun and license is a verb. </pedant>

Britain's costliest mistake? Lord Stern defends his climate maths

John Diffenthal

Re: one small problem : "both halves of the debate"

Although you are clearly trying to avoid the use of the word consensus, numbers behind an argument are completely irrelevant to the quality of their position

"Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. Michael Crichton - Caltech lecture 'Aliens cause Global Warming, January 2003.

Limbaugh: If you hate Apple then you're a lefty blog-o-twat hipster

John Diffenthal

Re: Disproportionate

"The Left wing bias is also prevalent and entrenched in the media (except of course the Daily Mail) including the impartial BBC."

While I would agree about the BBC, I think you are a bit confused about the politics of newspapers (perhaps you don't read any of them?):

- Times

- Telegraph

- Express

- Mail

- Sun

would all classify as right of middle

- Independent

- Guardian

- Financial Times

would be pinko Liberals

- Mirror

left wing

Where is your prevalent and entrenched left wing bias?

Schmidt 'very proud' of Google's tiny tax bill: 'It's called capitalism'

John Diffenthal


Do you honestly believe that corporation tax isn't paid by consumers? It's in the raft of indirect expenses that the corporation has to recover from revenues so it's right there in the consumer's price ticket together with what they are paying for rent, MFPs, toner cartridges etc etc.

Apple's profits fetish could spell its DOOM

John Diffenthal

Re: Marketshare != sales

The work done by Brad Gale and Sydney Schoeffler at GE showed pretty conclusively that long term market share and long term relative market share are the key determinants of long term ROI. Gale and Schoeffler were the guys who did the brainy stuff that kept Jack Welch as the darling of the business pages for so long.

Tremble, operators: UK gets ACCURATE mobile coverage guide

John Diffenthal

some evidence that it's not just Apple having problems with maps

Needs some work - the text location of Wellington College is shown as east of Crowthorne in Berkshire when it is on the west. The difference between the two positions is about 2 miles. Can we assume similar accuracy in the location of the hexagons?

Swedish cops contain fermented herring menace

John Diffenthal

Re: Stinks a bit but is good eating

I thought the whole point was to keep it at room temperature so that it "matures" faster!

As for opening it under water - that's for wimps. Opening the tin outdoors (after the lid has risen the requisite 2cm) does send flies and mosquitoes seeking other less smelly locales which at least reduces some of the other risks of eating outside during the swedish summertime.

Pasty munchers scoff at £300m council deal with comms kingpins

John Diffenthal

Thank goodness for IBM ...

You beat me to it - Southwest One is an amazing example of an IT-led outsourcing project which has signally failed to deliver what its creators believed it would ...

Greens wage war on clean low-carbon renewable energy

John Diffenthal

Re: Lets all cross our fingers....

My understanding is that HV line distribution efficiency is well above your figures. The losses arise partly because we authorise the creation of power generation well away from population centres - physics takes care of the rest. If you build a generator in the north of Scotland to supply power to the south coast of Hampshire then don't be surprised if you lose a proportion of it on the way.

There are alternatives, but a surprisingly simple one would be to build generators close to where the power is used.

NHS IT blunder biz CSC wilts as profit bleeds, costs staunched

John Diffenthal

Re: Stanch, not staunch

While you may well be correct for the US speakers, staunch (bloodflow) is acceptable (and common) the UK.

Panasonic chief says no to low-cost OLED TVs

John Diffenthal

Re: Been wrong before

Don't quite understand the maths of the power consumption here - 4hrs per day * 365 days = 1460 hours * 0.1kW = 146kWh. You note that this would cost €70 per year which would mean you were paying €0.48 per kWh which sounds pretty expensive to me. Is it generated by little elves half way up a mountain?

Open Data Institute pours golden £10m shower on upstarts

John Diffenthal

I'm not sure what you mean by open data - is it the incidence of supermarket trolleys found in car parks or waterways? If that's the case it is no wonder that is in wildly different formats.

I have had some contact with Transparency data and that has recommended data formats and file formats provided by Socitm and the LGA. That isn't to say that Transparency data is useful. Fraudsters have been able to use some of the data to generate income for themselves (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11407679) but I think their activity is regarded as an unintended consequence rather than an objective of the exercise.

Shoreditch a hub of 'exciting innovation', says science minister

John Diffenthal

The most intelligent man in government ...

David "2 Brains" Willetts - oh dear, do either of them work?

Apple to kick start 'iTV' production in Q2

John Diffenthal

Always emerging?

It would be difficult to argue that the MP3 player; the MP3distribution channel; and the tablet computer were emerging technologies when Apple entered those markets. They had all been around for some time and not demonstrated significant growth. What Apple did, highly successfully, was make them work seamlessly for people who didn't want complexity and ambiguity.

Two thirds of Brits crippled by mobile phone loss terror

John Diffenthal


Unfortunately, pratophobia won't protect you from nomophobia since they obviously made it up from no (meaning absence of) mo (a contraction for mobile) and phobia (the suffix for fear of). But I like your cure, which sounds absolutely correct.

PayPal dispute ends in 'violin destruction'

John Diffenthal

Proof ...

Why not get the buyer to sign a collection receipt when they collect the goods from you?

UK.gov uses Experian data to sniff out fraudsters

John Diffenthal

A spokesman for HMRC said the duration and value of the contract are confidential.

What's the defence they propose to use against a FOIA enquiry? It is after all public money that is paying Experian's invoices and the Cabinet Office has been assiduous in telling everyone how transparent their procurements will be. BTW since this was a public procurement, did it follow European rules?

Cracked emails again deployed against climate researchers

John Diffenthal

So ...

"Are the by-products from burning fossil good for anyone, no." (MacGyver)

Don't people benefit when something green that uses sunshine and C02 to grow ... uh, grows?

Coalition signs up to passenger info slurp

John Diffenthal

Your vote ...

As the anarchists used to say, "If voting changed anything then they would make it illegal!".

Big new wind turbines too close together, says top boffin

John Diffenthal

Where is Bumble when you need a good title?

"The new spacing model developed by Meneveau and Johan Meyers, an assistant professor at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, suggests that placing the wind turbines 15 rotor diameters apart—more than twice as far apart as in the current layouts—results in more cost-efficient power generation." Yup, sounds linear to me.

OFT restricts use of insurance tool

John Diffenthal


Everybody presumably knows that operating a cartel is one of the few things that you can be sent to jail for, under the Companies' Act.

Cable vendor slapped for unproven claims

John Diffenthal

Yet another RFI claim

While the court has determined that Russ Andrews should abandon its RFI claims, their web team hasn't heard the news:


Pickles throws down gauntlet on council data

John Diffenthal
Big Brother

Redaction isn't much of an escape route

Contractually sensitive information (eg daily rates for consultants) can be redacted under FOI rules but sole traders will be identified and so will the payments to them assuming that they are for more than £500 since although they are individuals, they have a commercial rather than a personal relationship with the Council. Essentially, anything that could expect a comprehensive answer under existing FOI rules relating to spend, contracts and tenders should be available for data relating to 1 January 2011 and onwards.

If you have concerns about data which is currently redacted then make an FOI request to the Council. If you don't get a satisfactory response then bring in the Commissioner.

The point about making comparisons across different Councils is that the results may be less useful than is currently hoped. We know with precision how much we have paid to a particular supplier over any period you care to specify and which department(s) authorised the spend, but the nature of the spend and its cost coding is much more problematic. Invoices rarely describe the goods or services accurately and the person coding the transaction to the system frequently lacks the detailed knowledge of the people who may be working with the contract day to day.

Facebook trains self to recognize your face

John Diffenthal

Stunned by the technology

It can recognise these people automatically - awesome! Some of the photos that I have seen over the years wouldn't be recognised by the subject's mother.

UK IT projects must pull up socks, says hefty maven

John Diffenthal

How much did he get paid?

... a knighthood for his work on public procurement and regular fees from the Efficiency Board which was set up by the ERG.

Coalition promises to kill three-quarters of its websites

John Diffenthal

Welcome to kneejerk policy

I despair. What happened to finding out what they have and doing a needs analysis before commenting on how many should go? The right figure might be all bar one.

Hefty physicist: Global warming is 'pseudoscientific fraud'

John Diffenthal
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Money for denial!

I'm in denial ... honest. Where do I sign up?

John Diffenthal

A conspiracy, surely not?

The crux of this seems to be the way that the APS has failed to criticise Michael Mann. Mann used a variety of techniques including cherry picking his raw data and short centred Principal Components Analysis to create a hockey stick. The statistical errors were so gross that it was subsequently shown that his approach could produce hockey sticks from all kinds of other data. One of Mann's principal failures though was his stubborn refusal to tell people how he got his results and which data he had used. Many scientists other than Lewis think that this is delinquent behaviour.

Mann's hockey stick has been widely used as a poster for Global Warming whenever there is a newspaper scare as well as in the IPCC's AR3 and AR4 reports. Actually the hockey stick is a bit of diversion from Global Warming (its sole contribution is to suppress the Medieval Warm Period so that Mann could make the case that current temperatures are unprecedented) but there is no getting away from the fact that there has been warming during the last 150 years or so. If you really want to read more then get hold of a copy of Andrew Montford's book (mentioned in Lewis's letter).

Philip Green discovers ugly truth of government incompetence

John Diffenthal

What's the saving on paper then, Phil?

Unintended adverse PR from this report is that it was a Conservative Government that rejected Gershon's recommendation to develop Centralised Procurement.

Easy headlines here for Mr Green but not very much information - perhaps because, as he said, the data proved to be difficult to work with.

"...printing paper varies from £8 to £73 per box, ..."

I'm quite willing to believe that the cost of paper does vary within those limits but are we comparing apples with apples - what is the weighted price actually paid for a ream of A4, 80 gsm white paper? Knowing the range tells us nothing, it doesn't even tell us what the cost saving opportunity is. In contrast, his musings on the property portfoltio look much more interesting even if it takes time to unwind from the current holdings.

BTW since the MPs in the HoP are public employees when are we going to see their proposals for cutting their costs by 25%?

Best Buys: Budget DSLR Cameras

John Diffenthal

... it is the issue of image quality that has been a priority in this group test

So you selected the Nikon D3000 then ... did you actually look at the pics that you posted? The Nikon's performance at ISO 200 is very ugly with poor colour handling and focus - significantly worse than the Olympus. That said, the situation reverses at 1600 but that's a pretty sterile speed to be using for most applications.

John Diffenthal

NiMH kick ass over alkalines

That's true, but if you need power in a hurry then Li-ion AAs are much more common now than they used to be and deliver consistent power over very long periods. I concur with the comments here, AA is a great format and it's the ultimate convenience if you are on a prolonged trip to be able to pick up a new charge without having to carry around a lot of extra baggage - camera and lens bags are already quite heavy enough.

Academics must check contracts' effects on user rights

John Diffenthal

Private sector good, quangos bad

An independent but publicly funded body. Could that be something like a quasi non government organisation? Some of these quangos can offer up newsworthy stuff from time to time or is this just a bid for new funding by a creative team while the rest fall in the government's cull?

Funny, it looked to me for a moment as if this group was trying to protect some people from behemoths in the private sector.

Sneaky bin chipping still in the bag for UK.gov

John Diffenthal

Are you sure about this?

"if they really wanted to reduce landfill the answer is to charge the producers on a per non-recycled packaging weight system to promote them to recycle" That charge would be paid by you and me and we already vote with our feet as soon as we start comparing product prices.

Producers don't go out of their way to use packaging which is difficult to recycle - they try to use as little as possible, congruent with delivering a product to the consumer with the best trade off of lowest cost / acceptable delivery problems.

Getting rid of composites sounds like a great idea and I'm not a huge fan of them myself ... but the reality is that too many of us opt for composites on the shelf - the products don't degrade to the same extent as non composites and have a long shelf life when we get them home. They also allow very bright surface printing which is favoured by package designers for good visibility on the shelf. Again, don't blame the producers- blame our hypocrisy about packaging. We don't want too much of it, but we buy stuff in bright colours and we want products that are factory fresh when we can eventually break our way through the packaging.

When I was a lad I went to the grocer and most products were in bulk and then served into paper packets - the kind of model that I think that you would like to go back to. It took time to get served so it wasn't unusual to talk to people while you waited, but even if you could put up with the delay, I doubt that much of that product would be saleable these days - the H&S inspectors would have a field day combing it all for insect faeces.

John Diffenthal

What are they measuring, even with chipped bins?

This analysis would still overlook composting and garden digesters for food waste, neither of which are rewarded by the RBWM scheme. So total household recycling is almost certainly understated.

Maybe the lesson is that since there is no reward for these activities then there is no need to do them ... surely not?

Greatest Living Briton loses £30m

John Diffenthal

Millenium Dome

I'm pretty sure that the Millenium Dome design - at least the outer shell and its scale - is the one that was approved by Michael Heseltine.

Outsource back office, Gershon tells Tories

John Diffenthal

Doing a review is easier than delivering savings

The Gershon review has helped to drive down costs in public procurement by sharing good practice and using framework contracts to simplify the process where it makes sense to do so. Has it increased cashable savings? Probably a lot less than he thinks ... a lot of that money has simply been directed elsewhere.

If a department has a decrease in its costs and a demanding public with an insatiable demand for services then making those cashable savings is tough - someone is going to be unhappy and it's probably the voters.

How a Tory gov will be the most tech-savvy in history

John Diffenthal

Twitter is the big idea?

Well it would certainly restrict candidates to private industry if you want a response in seconds ... the current security restrictions for the majority of local and national government employees means that they can't view Twitter or any social networking site during the day. But you knew that, didn't you, because you understand technology!

There is a technical adjective for this article - it's tosh!

Desktop Colour Laser Printers: Best Buys

John Diffenthal

There's a reason that the cartridges come in different colours

If you use the Black toner more quickly than the other colours, replace it and keep the other cartridges until they need replacing - don't change all 4 cartridges just because you are out of one colour.

John Diffenthal
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Duplexing on the Dell

Auto: The print driver will orient the first page correctly depending on whether you are flipping the pages on the short or the long side. You then take the output and drop it into the paper tray the same way round and press the continue button on the front of the machine.

Manual: The user can take the printed output and reinsert it in the paper tray after rotating the pages 180 degrees. Send a new print instruction to the printer and collect the output.

Auto works fine, Manual can produce wayward results depending on the operator ...

John Diffenthal
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That's an excellent point for home users

Such a good point that I went back to the review of the Dell 1320c which shows quite correctly that stand-by power consumption is 35W. I doubt that my machine is in stand-by for more than 5 minutes (it is user selectable) and then it drops into Power Save mode where consumption falls to about 3.5W.

Given that print power consumption is at the lower end too, I'm more and more glad that I've bought the Dell.

My sole complaint with the machine is that some of the ideograms for the manual registration of print output are difficult to interpret, but since I have never seen them mentioned in any review I can only assume that no-one except me has ever got around to looking at them. Auto registration works fine by the way.

Dell 1320c

John Diffenthal
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The economics are better for home users

There are some ridiculously low priced deals on the 1320c at the moment and I'm happy to say that I took advantage of one. Your estimate of page costs for home users needs to take into account that refilled toner cartridges are available at substantially lower cost than Dell's toners. For comparison, a set of 4 refilled cartridges is available for less than £50 from one supplier which is less than a single cartridge from Dell. That makes printed output substantially cheaper than your calculations. Business users, tied to a service agreement would probably be required to use Dell toners.

I'm very pleased with this printer - it is quick to launch from stand-by and in its 'Fine Photograph' setting can produce very bright and solid prints of photos,unlike the Standard setting which produces rather dark, flat prints. After settting it up I experienced a slight problem with registration but I went back into the set up and now I'm delighted with the output in all colours.

People complain about its footprint, but it is no larger than my A4 dye sublimation printer and it's also considerable lighter. This is an excellent printer for a small office or home.