* Posts by joewilliamsebs

43 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Apr 2013

Good news: HMRC offers a Linux version of Basic PAYE Tools. Bad news: It broke


Re: "for businesses with fewer than 10 employees."

(SysAdmin turned Accountant here)

I'm pretty sure there's no hard limit built into it - I've had to use it when filing corrections for previous years for a large number of employees. It's more of a "be aware of the limitations" message. Using it to actually run a payroll for any reasonably sized business would be Not Fun.

London Clinic probes claim staffer tried to peek at Princess Kate's records


"Kate was spotted at a farm shop doing a spot of shopping"

Ah yes, as the immediate heir to the throne and his wife do on the regular.

I'll see your data loss and raise you a security policy violation



Client had SBS2k3 server which, as they always did, was butting up against the Exchange storage limit.

A quick review revealed, as they always did, that high-use users had massive Deleted Items folders.

Set a quick group policy to 'empty deleted items on exit' and pat self on back for a job well done.


Several of them had worked out that hitting 'delete' was quicker than dragging a completed email to a different folder or flagging it as complete, so that was their workflow for archiving messages. It was absolutely essential, of course, that they were able to retain them.

Director of nuisance-calls company ordered to cough up £114k after ignoring £40k fine from UK data watchdog


Re: Disqualification?

The big deal with being disqualified as that it removes the limitation of liability in a phoenix company.

That means that a disqualified director can be held personally liable for ALL the debts of any subsequently incorporated company, whether they're a director or shadow director.

Companies House have just completed a consultation where they have concluded that they need to do more data checking on directors - we'll see what that actually involves at some point!

Architect of tech contractor tax fraud scheme jailed for at least five years


Re: So much for 'umbrella' services

Something I've been curious about since seeing Loan Charge paperwork flying around - how were these schemes marketed?

I've found it difficult to believe that people were genuinely thinking they'd be able to just... Not Pay Tax and get away with it.

Cheque out my mad metal frisbee skillz... oops. Lights out!


Re: Cheques still relevant... at leastt for someone

They probably follow the same rules as HMRC: if there's money of any form on offer, get it in the bank and quibble the details later.

We've had discussions with them where they have claimed that Corporation Tax returns may well have been put on the post but "we never received them". "You cashed the cheque from the envelope though."

Aw, bad day at your air-conditioned, somewhat clean desk? Try shifting a 40-tonne fatberg



How on earth do people manage to flush NAPPIES? That must take dedicated brush-poking to get round the U-bend.

PIN the blame on us, says Monzo in mondo security blunder: Bank card codes stored in log files as plain text


Re: All the no's

The difference between this and a "proper" bank is that there is no way a proper bank would disclose that this had happened.

A real head-scratcher: Tech support called in because emails 'aren't showing timestamps'


Been there, seen that

This boss followed the standard routine of getting his PA to print emails so he could scribble a response and have her type it back in, but also had to have the "best looking" PC stuck in his office so he could brag to clients about how high-tech there were.

Six months after the first components were stripped from it to fix other, more-used machines, he finally noticed that it wouldn't turn on.

All good, leave it with you...? Chap is roped into tech support role for clueless customer


On hourly work, I'll take as many "whilst you're here" and "could you just"s as I can take.

There's a very very good reason I stopped doing fixed price work years ago.

Packet switching pickle prompts potential pecuniary problems


Re: Back in my NetWare days

I'm glad we're not the only company this happened to! Legend tells that the quarterly bill was delivered in the kind of box normally used for five reams of paper and was well into five figures.

Our saving grace was that the system had been set up that way by the consulting arm of the Bruising Telco, and I believe so much hell was raised that we ended up with a large credit on the bill instead.

You were told to clean up our systems, not delete 8,000 crucial files


Re: Backups

I've had the exact same thing, which he suddenly remembered the day after approving a GPO to enable emptying the folder on exit for all users.

Apparently that's the "Things I don't want in the inbox, don't need to file away, but might want to look at again you never know" folder.

ZX Spectrum reboot scandal biz gets £35k legal costs delayed


Re: dura lex sed lex and caveat emptor

Absolutely no requirement to own shares, although they often do.

Directors are appointed by Shareholders to run the Company on their behalf. Owning shares clearly provides an incentive to perform, but it's perfectly possible to be a Director, registered as such as Companies House, without owning any shares.

Boss regrets pointing finger at chilled out techie who finished upgrade early


I had a client with a graphics design department, back in the days when designers plugged an ISDN line into their Mac in order to transfer files between themselves.

Once internet speed had reached a point where SFTP was a viable alternative, we helped them cancel the line.

When the next quarterly bill arrived, the accountant saw that it still had a charge for "ISDN lines", so called the phone company and tore them a new one, wanting to know why they hadn't cancelled the line when requested and demanding that it be done immediately.

Later that day, their PBX, fed by 3 x ISDN2 lines, stopped receiving and making calls...

Software changed the world, then died on the first of the month


Re: @Rich 11

"And the users replied with a laugh and a taunt,

'It's just what we asked for, but not what we want!'"

Ailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm kicks crisis meeting into long grass


The poor contractor is going to find that winning the Small Claims Court action isn't actually going to help when the company has no assets and no intention of paying.

It's going bankrupt and creditors will get pennies in the pound, if that. The only question is when.

Boss made dirt list of minions' mistakes, kept his own rampage off it


Re: Not IT-related

Ooh, I remember similar deep in the bowls of the Electrical Engineering department. Things that made satisfying bangs when sliding into place, making the unwary jump several feet.

We had one group project which was using a Z80 board to control a motor. We had to design & build interface circuitry and write the control code in assembler.

Our design had a 12v supply going through some beefy MOSFET transistors, controlled by some digital logic which had a separate 5v supply.

One of our group's contribution to the project was uncovering the small flaw in our design. If you switched off the 5v supply first, it ceased it's function of controlling the MOSFETs and allowed the 12v supply to flow freely, causing an unintended excess temperature event and making the magic smoke escape.

HMRC's switch to AWS killed a small UK cloud business


85% of revenue from a single client?

If, as an IT contractor, I derived 85% of my income from a single client, HMRC would have a strong case to make that I am in fact an employee of that client and should be taxed as such.

Five ways Apple can fix the iPhone, but won't


Industry standard ports


Even my wife, with her iPad Pro, iPhone, iWatch, iPencil and eye-wateringly expensive top-of-the-range Macbook Pro, has sworn at the fact that whilst her Macbook only has USB-C ports, her mobile devices use the proprietary Lightning thing. Sure, it's better than the 30-pin monstrosity, but it surely doesn't offer any value beyond vendor lock-in.

UK mobile number porting creaks: Arcane system shows its age


Re: Porting in Ireland

Who the heck stores contacts on the SIM?

Tesla death smash probe: Neither driver nor autopilot saw the truck


Re: Bleh

The truck was turning across the road - the Tesla impacted the side, not the back.

Itchy-fingered OnePlus presses refresh, out pops value champ 3T


But I want it NOW!

I ordered one last week to replace my aging Note 3, but won't receive it until January the 5th. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas.

Major outage at broadband biz 186k


Re: Accounts overdue

Certainly sounds like it. That's not an announcement of a technical fault.

Still got a floppy drive? Here's a solution for when 1.44MB isn't enough


Embedded systems!

Still loads of old PCs sitting in expensive manufacturing equipment expecting to receive data on a floppy disk. The cleverness of this is that the hardware & software see a standard floppy, not a USB drive or an internal USB connection.

Vodafone bins line rental charges as it moves onto TalkTalk's turf


No story - it just gets bundled in elsewhere in the charging structure.

Vodafone will still be paying Openreach £9.50 or whatever the wholesale line price is. It's not suddenly becoming free.

Blah Blah blah ... I don't care! To hell with your tech marketing bull


I'm sorry for your loss - but I know that my cats would be proud of such a wonderful smack-down :D

Dell PowerEdge R730: Reg rack monkeys crack smiles over kindness of engineers


Nice kit...

...shame about the sales team.

I clearly don't buy enough hardware to get someone at Dell who has any idea what they're talking about.

Microsoft Office 365, Azure portals offline for many users in Europe


I'm pleased so many readers have the ability to run on-prem solutions with zero unplanned downtime.

Why was the modem down? Let us count the ways. And phone lines


Can't be true

The end user recognised their error and how to correct it rather than angrily blaming the tech. That's just ridiculous fantasy-world thinking.

Engaged to be worried – Verify borks married tax allowance applications


Yup. We tried to apply a few weeks ago - my wife had to identify herself to the Verify service, as she is the one sacrificing some of her allowance.

Using the Experian service, she was given a multiple-choice question for "a payment made onto your credit card xxxx in the last 3 months". None of the numbers matched any of the payments she'd made...

I eventually worked out that it meant the total of all payments made to the card over a given billing month, which took bloody hours to work out.

Ten things you always wanted to know about IP Voice


Re: Crap article

Fully agree. It may be "VoIP for non-techies", but the advice is so out of date. I dread talking to a business owner who's read this article.

We haven't installed a new ISDN line for 6 years, and that was only because the customer had been tricked into a long-term BT contract and couldn't cancel.

Demon Internet goes TITSUP: Outage borks ancient ISP


Looks like a SPOF has F'ed.

We only have a single client still using them, who of course have moved everything to cloud systems but didn't think a backup connection was a worthwhile investment.

Tesla S P85+: Smiling all the way to the next charging point


Re: If only..

Nah. You'd have to keep pulling over to the hard shoulder to smooth them out again, and don't get me started on the cat fluff.

Brit iPad sellers feel the pain of VAT-free imports


"It should also be noted that tax avoidance (perfectly legal, as it uses the existing tax system to reduce payments), and tax evasion (escaping payment by illegal means) are quite distinct. We have no way of knowing into which category the sellers fall."

We could use some fairly simple maths.

"thousands of iPad minis" at "£170 each" equals "quite a lot more than the VAT registration threshold"

One also presumes that the traders are reclaiming the purchase tax on the devices - but where are they buying them from?

UK.gov dumps another £40m into unpopular SME broadband scheme



"The reason for sluggish uptake is thought to be poor connectivity, coupled with expensive high-speed leased lines."

No, the reason is that it's only available in *SELECTED* *CITIES*. You know, those big places with lots of buildings and decent internet.

I have plenty of clients who would have taken up the voucher, if it was available EVERYWHERE.

Oh, and one client who wanted to upgrade from 2Mb ADSL to 8Mb EFM, was actually in a qualifying area, but couldn't use the voucher because the "new" connection had to be over 20Mb.

Former Azzurri project manager who stole £1.3m ordered to pay back £146k


Something not right here...

Reported to the police in October and sentenced in March?

We had an accountant siphoning off funds. Whilst the police were awesome (we had a phone call one day soon after presenting them with the evidence to tell us that they'd raided his house at 5.30 that morning), the CPS and associated departments were useless. It took the better part of six months just to get the case moved from the Magistrates to the Crown court (as the mags had insufficient sentencing powers).

All in all, it took over two years to actually reach sentencing, and thanks to a procedural cock-up by the CPS he nearly got to keep all the money. We finally got a payout, of around 13% of the loss, last year - SEVEN YEARS after discovering it.

Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation


Someone here is being an idiot.

They arrival of a winding up petition would not have come as a surprise. Surely they can't have hoped that people wouldn't notice and their business wouldn't be affected?

British Gas applies to wind up UK colo outfit Alphadex


I'm joining the rats

Time to jump off the sinking ship.

We have websites, domains, and DNS hosted on a virtual server at Alphadex. The last thing we want is for that to go dark - I was trying to do an Office365 migration over the weekend of their outage, and had to roll back because I wasn't able to update the mx records. Our helpdesk is on it, our remote support software is on it.

Better to move in a managed fashion than have a panic because one Monday morning absolutely nothing is working.

Yes! New company smartphones! ... But I don't WANT one


I believe the primary driver for smartphone upgrades is not battery life, but screens :)

I was going to be quite happy with my S2 for another year or two. I'd just replaced the battery for a whole £6, so it could last the entire day again. Then I dropped it on the wooden floor one time too many and the screen finally gave up :(

I've now got that mix of "shiny toy!" and "where's all my stuff?" that comes with toting a new device (a Note 3, in case you were wondering).

End of an era as Firefox bins 'blink' tag


For REALLY important stuff...

...blink had to be combined with marquee.

Microsoft waves goodbye to Small Business Server


For small customers, hosted Exchange has made more sense than SBS since SBS2k3 bit the dust.

For large customers, onsite Exchange is still cost effective.

Its the 25-75 user companies that I'm having the greatest trouble with. O365 is an expensive monthly sub. Onsite Exchange is an expensive capital investment. Alternatives are available, but without the large support infrastructure - tying my clients down to my knowledge of the installed system.

My feelings towards MS at the moment are very much "Bah."

BT workers cuffed over fake overtime and moonlighting claims


Ah, clever...

Create parking tickets from a pretend company, give to your employer who has a policy of paying them, collect fines the account you control.

Brit IT biz boss wrongly 'terminated' in red-tape blunder


The position on Companies House does not affect an employment contract.

Why the hell aren't ProBrand filing the termination online?