* Posts by Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

231 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Nov 2011


London Stock Exchange's German mega-merger: It's a go, despite Brexit

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Tobin Taxes are Stupid but useful

...to the UK.

If the rump EU adopts Tobin taxes then London does very well. Germany used to do something very similiar which is one big reason why despite the German economy growing rather better than the UK for 70 years, Frankfurt is the 14th most important finance centre in the world and London is 1st.

The argument for Tobin taxes is:

They will reduce trading

They will raise lots of money because they won't reduce trading

The X billion will only hit banks because banks are nice and won't pass on the extra costs.

No one except speculators uses financial markets and pension funds, companie raising capital and selling things to other countries are figments of Thatcher's imagination.

Big data in action: How CompSci theory helps medics fight cancer

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: I hope someone...

I'll ask, since she'll be sat next to me, you're quite welcome as well...

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Of course, with prostate cancer...

You're right and we found that out with data analysis.

What we need is a better model of which (if any) interventions should be applied and when.


Chairman, RTC

Hands on with the BBC's Micro:Bit computer. You know, for kids

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Home educators?

Steve, my gmail is remarkably like my name, send me your details and I will speak to the BBC on your behalf. Data/Child rotection means they are limited in reaching homed educators.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: "Same memory as the BBC Micro Model A"

I apologise for my error with B's and undertake never to do this again.

Laid-off IT workers: You want free on-demand service for what now?

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Such is the power of The Register

You will note that our article appeared before the Guardian...

(Dominic, the guy who wrote this article)

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Dumbshoring

I'm sorry to read that you appear to one of our American cousins.

If you are ever in London, let me buy you a beer in small payment for sharing that word with me. It will appear in a future article.

(Dominic, the guy who wrote this article)

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: "try turning the entire bank's data centre off and on again"

You are most kind sir.

(Dominic, the guy who wrote this article)

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Company references...

Yes, you are right that *company* references are pretty worthles, in fact the FCA (UK regulator) is going to require banks to give more detailed refreences to stop bad bankers moving around.

The other sort of reference is the verbal one, when someone calls you to ask about a guy.

Obviously the frankness is a variable of whether you know the caller or not, but citing the example from my article is going to make an employer or client see the contractr as worth having.


(the guy who wrote this article)

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: So ...

The day *has* come, as you'll see elsewhere on the Reg I chari our CTO round tables and in *most* firms it is seen either as the centre or at least at the centre.

Some aren't and sadly our NDA with them prevents me sharing the names, but you can work it out by reading the financial pages for firems issuing profit warnings...

However the big firms are finding it very very hard to innovate.

Innovation doesn't just require tech clevernes (though you won't actually deliver without it), but a deep insight into how the firm works. That's business processes, knowing the limits of the existing core tech infrastrucutre and the jewels buried in its piles of data. *and what the customer will pay you for*

You don't get that in your first week or first year, maybe you never get it.at all, but if you treat IT like mushrooms (in the dark, fed on ship and with a short life expectancy) you'll get Java front ends to Oracle and nothing else at all.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: How to save money in IT

As it happens, a couple of the guys went off to start a film FX biz, so the retainer was rather usefulto them.

We all have to save costs, but the trick is to reduce the total spend, whereas what happened at SunTrust looks like moving it from one pocket to another.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Train up their replacements


(Dominic who wrote the article)

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

No, I't's still a bad move.

In my article I pointed out that when I lost a few people they'd get paid *after* they got called in to do


In other words its an incentive to actually turn up and do the job properly.

If you look at any sort of business where they get the money up front, the level of service you get is rather less good than when we pay after we get it. Same with ITPros,

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

You're right that a paper trail is a great ally in this sort of mess

Dominic (the bloke wot wrote the article)

BBC gives naked computers to kids (hmm, code for something?)

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Yep, it's a war of attrition

The BBC is making 1,000,000 but only giving away 800K, so I guess the others are for casualties.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Coding? Fine... But FFS teach them Linux first

I hereby announce a prize for the most clueless response to my article, you'd have won it if you'd not posted anonymously.

Have you any idea *at all* what happens if you show a *nix command line to an average 12 yo ?


The bloke wot rote this article

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter


Oh god dear, wake up.

1: He's nearly15, trust me when I say that he's older than 11-12year olds.

Has it occurred to you that he may have learned something in the last 3 years ?

2: You're a Reg reader (now how did I guess that), you are on average better educated than the general population (but clearly not smartre) and odds are you've done computing.

Do you think it possible that this has affected him a bit ?


The bloke wot rote this article

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

That won't work.

Because the article wasn't about the way teenage girls can't be bothered to learn hard subjects, I didn't enumerate the literally hundreds of different things that have been tried to get them study things more difficult and useful than learning Justin Bieber lyrics by heart that have failed.

You may think that an unreasonable, I counsel you to google around the theme of academic studies and "why girls don't study computing" or physics for that matter. "It's too hard" is one of the most common responses from teenage girls.

In 2012 about 400,000 girls took A levels.

Guess how many did Computing ?

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

Wrong, no try again, lower.

It was 243.

Yes ,really.


The bloke wot rote the artic

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Sorry to be a killjoy, bit it's dumb. @werdsmith

For 12 quid this "interweb" thing will sell you a USB connected battery that will recharge your phone of the microBit.


The bloke wot rote the article

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: The hardware isn't a problem...

Actually the syllabus has been changed big time, lots more coding.

do keep up dear,


(the poor fule wot wrote the article)

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Tell me again what problem this solves?

In researching this article (yes, I do research) I found that the BBC seems to be sticking to its core competence making lightweight stuff for people who aren't that interested in the subject.

That's why *every* BBC programme about the Solar system tells you that Jupiter is big and why it uses celebrities with no clue about the subject like Richard Hammond to explain geology.

That's for most people, ie not the kids of Reg readers.The average white Brit kid can name more England players than elements and last year (according to the numbers from the Catholic church) more Brit girls chose to become nuns than to take A level computing.

Britain has fewer girls over 16 studying Computing than countries like Pakistan where the locals shoot girls on the way to school and Nigeria where people think it OK to kidnap them whilst studying and sell them as sex slaves. We look bad compared to the dismal American system for fuck's sake.

The fact is that we have descended from the most IT literate population on the planet to mediocrity.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Some more facts from the poor sod who wrote the article

The BBC isn't paying for manufacturing them, the partners are.

UK IT teachers are a bit lukewarm about it since the BBC hasn't announced how the gear will reach kids, what course materials will be available or even the spec of the device. Lessons don't "just happen", apparently.

ASUS router-popping exploit on the loose

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Fuck, I just bought one

>Unless you've got hostile attackers in your home, nothing to see here.

I have teenage children, *of course* I've got hostile attackers in my home.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Fuck, I just bought one

I literally took delivery and plugged my shiny new Asus router in at home yesterday, even downloaded the firmware update, which I now learn is useless.

Droids - everywhere! Is Apple really even in the game any more?

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

That's 1200 *in the UK*, yes there are >5,000 Apple developers in the US, my point, if you missed it is that the first and second derivatives of the curve point firmly towards Android.

Think Betamax vs VHS.

Betamax was Sony alone, good kit.

VHS was absolutely everyone else in consumer electronics from Sharp to Amstrad.

VHS won.

Same with mobile O/S

As it happens I don't particularly like Android as a dev platform, but what I like and what wins correlate badly.

Also since when was a "Bad boy" ?

El Reg Christmas Lectures to span space, big data and GCHQ

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Outside London

The Reg is of course read throughout the universe, indeed the majority of readers aren't even lucky enough to live in the UK.

So, let's turn this around...

A lecture requires a high calibre speaker, a decent venue and publicity.

The Reg can do publicity and knows some interesting people, venues outside London are a bit harder to arrange and of course the speakers are mostly London-ish.

I've been helping out with getting venues and it is remarkably hard graft, our glorious group editor had to use his charm to get the one we are using.

So who has influence over a nice venue that is accessible by public transport ?

Why do Reg readers deserve the big bucks? Here's why...

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

You try talking about IT governance for two hours in there...

Low-ball Salary Offers

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Salaries are political

Pay is a result of a political process in any outfit.

To be fair it is hard to know exactly the "going rate" for a skill set in a given location and so it can be rational to start low and work up.

The problem is that to get more money, the boss of the group has to go to his boss or HR or the client and ask for more and sometimes he can't get it.

So a persistent low ball offer tends to mean that your immediate boss is politically weak, which in my experience is a good predictor of your job being crap.

I have had one skill which meant that for one very specialist role I was pretty much the only person in the country who could do it and had proven in the interview that the people doing it already were flatly lying.

Short version: They were using s/w I'd helped develop and the suppliers claim that "it had been in service" since before we'd ever released any version of it

This was the Docklands Light Railway, a non-trivial project and the agent who put me forward was quite smug that he'd found me and he had earned that smugness.

The DLR offered rather less than half the going rate and an expenses deal (I would have to travel often to Canada) which would have left me on shelf filler money.

I declined and the DLR kept saying "we pay X" where X was this silly little number and it was in a good market, so I was far from desperate.

I heard later they'd hired some guy who bullshitted that he'd had the skill and as you may recall the DLR has had quite a few s/w problems.

The core problem was that never spoke to anyone that actually cared.

The management level that interviewed me had financial limits and as long as they paid people according to policy they had an easy life. Their management were "Management", they neither knew nor cared how stuff worked or even if it did as they spent money at the right rate.

Even the agent didn't care, his cut was pathetic and he knew as a recruiter that if you place someone far below market rate some combination of these N things will happen

1) They will quit suddenly once they realise they are underpriced

2) Their resentment will cause them to do a bad job, somertimes a *very* bad job

3) They are fairly priced, they are only worth what you are paying and are likely to be incompetent

4) They have some non-trivial personalty defect

Join me, Reg readers, and help me UPGRADE our CHILDREN

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

To Nasty Nick

Yes, it is "giving to those who have already", if by that you mean we are helping to make smarter people smarter

As for poor kids...

You find me one poor kid who can't afford to go to the MasterClasses and I will personally make sure they *can* go, if need be with my own money, this is on record, it is so.

"Missing semcolon" is far too correct about the middle class dirty secret, back in the day my dad asked "Dave's boy is doing O levels, are you going to do them ?"

The answer was of course "No, I'm soon off to Queen Mary College to do Maths & CompSci"

The way you deal with working class lack of aspiration is to shout at them and show them your fucking car. I don't own a flash car, I have never owned a car, there exist people who buy cars for me, presumably they do the insurance and other shit like maintenance, occasionally I sign things. That's because I have money, I got that through hard work and aspiration, I'm bright enough but no one who knows me thinks the money was because I'm the smartest person they've met.

CompSci means I can now afford for my sons to go to private school and already the 13 yo is asking hard questions about the relative merits of Cambridge and Imperial (but not of course Reading "university"). I also met my wife at IBM's labs, so this is all part of me giving something back.

I'm talking to a Free School about me sharing my "soft skills" with working class (as in free school meals) with kids, or more accurately imparting the necessary arrogance that has served me so well.

As for the less able kids, if you Google long and hard enough you will find the work that I'm doing for the "other third".

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Yes it is CompSci

Yes it is *CompSci* hence the "Cruel and Unusual Logic" thing as well as algos, data structures etc, that's what call real CompSci, what do you call CS ?

Cloud Overlords

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

An underlord speaks...

El Reg writes about what is happening, or at least the subset it hears about.

Cloud is a trendy buzzword, new products, shows, etc.

10 Types of IT managers from hell

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: "I liked VB6"

If you think that being a City Headhunter could have any less credibility in the comparison of languages you are sadly mistaken.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Please explain to me

Money, sanity, keeping your job.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: I hadn't noticed Dominic's idiosyncratic habit before. (one of them anyway.)

Although I'm a City headhunter, most of my life has been writing C++ code and before that, C. Thus what you read started off in my head as a mix of #define's and VC++ v4 expanded template code, as a CompSci grad I also thought in terms of closures before C++ supported them

Thus the highly personal use of brackets serves several purposes, but most commonly coercion where the semantics of a code fragment / sentence is wantonly changed from one type to another.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

An apology from the writer of this article

This damned article hit 4,500 words, far more than it was supposed to be and had to be viciously chopped to fit, so several types of AntiManager were missed out, but I'm sure some of you can add to my list.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Not a BOFH's guide

I did not make any mention of the BOFH for that very reason, although by day I am a famous headhunter n global financial markets, as a Reg Freelancer I am less than nothing and my text can be altered by editors, sub-editors and people editors meet in pubs.

Your kids' chances of becoming programmers? ZERO

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: So fix it!

The NC for Computer Science contains as much CS are there is "real fruit" in Fanta.

Cheap hardware does not do much about the fact that the vast majority of Computing teachers have no qualification in the subject, a good % can't program in *any* language.

Scammed by Simply Electronics

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

It gets better

They sent me a phone that only uses Spanish, with a few screens in Finnish.

Being a Windows Phone you can't change the language.

Getting a refund required me to get heavy with Simply Electronics payment processors citing the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, financial firms really don't like that bit of the law on their plate and Simply Electronics were on the phone really very quickly.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Scammed by Simply Electronics

Embarrassing to say, I sent them money for a phone, phone never arrived, no refund.

They tried stalling tactics and if you try to phone their "Customer Support" on their premium rate line, you just get cut off.

Emails are ignored.

I'd like to write this up for the Reg, who else has been scammed ?

Wait, don't ditch that IT career just yet: UK vacancies hit 5-year high

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Maybe they'll start reading CVs, too ...

I'm sorry, what in all that was the fault of the agent ?

You do know that agents don't set pay rates don't you ?

Sometimes people do take crap money because their careers have gone a bit titsup and they need refocusing. I recall in one job, I was running a team and a guy came in with a complete bullshit CV but it quickly transpired that not was his CV true, he could not only do the job, he probably could do mine better than I did.

I explained the pretty mediocre money on offer was beyond my power to increase, but he was really just so chuffed that I'd offered him a job.

He was missing a couple of critical buzzwords from his CV and found it hard to even get an interview in his specialty, he wanted to do 6 months with me to get the buzzwords. Even though I paid him disgracefully he regarded me has having done him a major favour.

The point of that is they a pimp has to try, you have complete discretion to say no, but even though you have obviously never found yourself in his position, the life of an ITpro means it might well fall on you and taking shit money for a CV upgrade can be a very good deal.

Obviously I'd tell a client that 16 or 20 or whatever is inadequate but they are free to ignore me, imagine that I was that agent, please tell me frankly and realistically what I could have done to make things better ?

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

Well thank you Steve, glad to see my efforts are appreciated.

You are right that you should never give out referee names to agents on spec, they are looking for people to sell to and it is not unknown for you name to come up in the conversation which is not good at all.

I'll check if I've ut this in an article and will put it in if not.

The "UCL researcher" is a new one to me, thanks, it may get used in an article.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Impossible conditions

Yes it happens, clients do ask for stupid things, I like to think I can spot the worst of them and respin them but there are >500 distinct technical skills out there, do you know the current version of all of them ?

I don't.

You missed the real problem which is that "5 years" is not a meaningful measure of expertise, I interview hardcore techies and the correlation between time and understanding is quite poor.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Lots of IT jobs in London...

Shagbag, if you are registered with my firm, could could you drop me a line with your real name so that I may have you deleted from our database as you are clearly too aggressively stupid for me to recommend you to a client.

Actually Shagbag VBA/C++ is in demand at banks, most analytics at banks are written in C++ and a lot are interfaced to Excel, often tactical developers and traders use them as a base for risk and trading using VBA as glue.

This isn't trivial and I am paid to teach it to people who want to do the more mathy parts of programming at investment banks. For your information, some of the very best paid IT people in the City do VBA&C++, some of whom are my students.

Also you are wrong about "C#/C++ desirable" meaning it is not a real job, many firms have both and for instance a job that is mainly in Perl,SQL or Matlab may require you to meddle with some C++ or C# or at least interface to or read. Also there is a prejudice that if you can do one of the "harder" languages then it means you are a better VB (or whatever) programmer, I follow their logic but it is questionable.

50K is a bit cheap for 5 years C#, well here's some news for you, some jobs are crap, I've written articles on the Reg explaining this, did you not read them ?

CV fishing is indeed an issue, I don't imagine it will ever go away, the best I can say is that if a pimp pays money to say "I want GPU developers with strong CUDA and decent maths" then that is probably true even if they don't have the job the claim. You got any idea how to stop this ?

No, nor do I.

Give us your bloody money

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Give us your bloody money

Recently my son's mentor, a 6th former soon off to study medicine collapsed and died. Her heart failed on a catastrophic scale and there was nothing anyone could do.

Apparently this is "Sudden Death Syndrome", a condition so poorly understood t hasn't even got a proper name. There's a small charity called CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) who are trying to establish screening programs and identify risk factors and so my 12 year old is soon walking a marathon along the Essex way (yes, that a real place) to raise funds for them.

Nothing can be done when this happens, you can do something to help stop it before.


What heat wave? Pay still frozen over for 70 per cent at Capita ITS

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

A few broken promises

I like the way that a grotesquely overpaid executive at Capita makes light of having broken promises to its staff.

How do I know he's overpaid, because he's paid at all. Capita's record of "breaking promises" to clients and staff may be unique, as is the level of misery of those who are forced to use its services.

Be clear that Capita preys on the weak, disabled and poor through outsourcing of services which it flatly does not deliver. They make light of failing to pay benefits to people who can't afford to buy food.

The real villains however aren't Capita management, it is local authorities with whom it has "excellent personal relationships" and (surprise) whose decision making staff entirely coincidentally just happen to get well paid jobs later at Capita, what's the betting these are in the chunk of Capita who do get pay rises ?

If someone working for me awarded a contract to Capita, I'd fire them, why doesn't this happen when LA's outsource to fimr that understands "delivery£ about as well as Klingon understands veganism ?

Windows desktop VDI

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Are you some sort of educational charity ?

If so, you might want to join CAS, where we help schools etc with IT issues

A short, sharp tool kit to get you to the top in financial IT

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: Turn these into a book NOW.

Thank you Joe, the problem I face is that the market is flooded with touchy feely, "Careers" books with titles like

How the power of positivity can tubocharge your career

Unleash the superman within you

Why you are man of destiny

How any fool can be as rich as Bill Gates


To ensure that readers knew what they were getting I'd need a title like:

How to stop your career going tits up

The Antifragile Career

Shut the fuck up and code

Politics for programmers

The last one is actually a lecture I occasionally give...

My current favourite title is "Memoirs of a Mediocre Programmer", since the best (sort of ) careers book I know is "My life as a Quant" which is about bankers.

Wiley have offered to publish a book of mine, just so long as they get to keep >80% of the cash which is both standard and unacceptable.

That means it would have to hit sales of 30,000 to be remotely feasilble, Your kind words imply that I might hit that, but 99.9% of books do not and however arrogant my tone on The Register, I'd be naive to just assume that I could be the 1/1000

I could self publish and keep a bigger %, circa 60-70% of the cover price which means the number I'd need to sell would be a lot lower, but that would mean I had to do all the marketing and that can be a time vampire.

Oh yes and I'd have to write it as well.

Microsoft's murder most foul: TechNet is dead

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Up market is where IT companies go to die

I agree this move is rational, but for MS execs, not MS itself.

MS is abandoning the fight to get small firms and although they aren't each very lucrative there are a lot of them and some are the big firms of tomorrow. If you look at the Top 100 or Top 1,000 or top whatever list of firms today you see as relevant then look at the list 10 years ago you see quite a difference.

So in the short term something that pushes up margins a little reduces costs ever so slightly looks good this year and next and when the executive share options pay out.

But we are already seeing many firms start up using little or no MS S/W, do you think they'll move to SQL Server ? Why ?

Remember most firms aren't in IT, they provide some service or make something and take the path of least resistance, as long as the IT works the management don't know or care whether the server runs Linux or Windows. So if the IT guy says "I can get Linux doing what we want in a week, but for Windows we need to have a meeting with one of their partners to discuss our business needs, then work out exactly how many users we will need and and tell them so that we can negotiate prices *then* do the installation etc", which one will they pick.

You could stop MS selling to every company under 5 meg turnover and not even be able to measure the impact on their profits, they might even go up.

This year.

A few years later you have a momentum that is unstoppable, but Balmer and his cronies will be gone, in fact they will have left on a high and be interviewed saying "it all went to pot after I left"

How City IT is under attack from politicians, diesel bugs, HR

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: safety margins on the grid

I'll be honest and say I know nothing about modern road traffic management systems, if anyone would like to enlighten me, feel free.

Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

Re: 'my errant mate'

This reminds me of the debate about the death penalty, the dimwit could have a quick clean execution, or he could be made to linger for years being tormented, which would be better punishment ?