* Posts by Ralph Online

46 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Dec 2013

Oracle at Europe's largest council didn't foresee bankruptcy

Ralph Online

The BBC article is from 2012 and is misquoted.

The original report says:

"The salaries were the same - the women did earn between £10,000 and £15,000 a year while the men got the same - but on top of that they were offered bonuses of up to £15,000 that the women weren't entitled to and never received.


As far as I can see the bonuses were being given as a workaround for having two different payscales for what were essentially different roles? Sloppy HR??

How governments become addicted to suppliers like Fujitsu

Ralph Online

Origins of Horizon

I read that the origins of Horizon go back to ICL Pathway (a tripartite agreement between ICL, the Post Office, and the Department of Social Security).

They won a contract for an electronic way of paying benefits, the Benefits Payment Card, in May 1996. The Horizon Pilot was introduced in a small number of branches in 1996. This tri-partite scheme was abandoned in 1999. Pathway cited “greater than expected complexity” and “…major implications for the degree of difficulty of the project”

Then in July 1999 Post Office and Pathway agreed to utilise the project to automate branch Post Offices. This is what is now called the Horizon System and it was rolled-out from late 1999 onwards.

So they struggled to get a system designed to address one requirement working so they then used it as a basis for an all-singing all dancing accounting system!!!!!!

Ralph Online

Re: Corruption

Originally sold to the general public... but the shares have consolidated. I think it's currently 27.58% owned by a Czech billionaire through Vesa Equity Investment SARL


Broken password check algorithm lets anyone log into Cisco's Wi-Fi admin software

Ralph Online

Re: Works as designed.

Pronounced as "Designed in a tent".

Shut off 3G by 2033? How about 2023, asks Vodafone UK

Ralph Online

Re: 2G?

Vodafone 2G/GPRS service is in use by huge number of M2M devices - most of them in the SIM cards installed in car satnavs.

While these are still out there in sufficient numbers Vodafone will be reluctant to decommission 2G. The new/next generation M2M devices support 4G, ideally 5G?

I don't think anybody would really want their voice calls to fall back to 2G - limited Codecs supported and quality was pretty bad!

US distrust of Huawei linked in part to malicious software update in 2012

Ralph Online

Re: It was probably diagnostics

"Lawful intercept" is a thing, and has been a thing for decades.

Here is a Cisco overview (though from 2008):


So Huawei will have had the REQUIREMENT to have something similar in any high-end routers.

Whether they built any nefarious ones in? Personally I doubt it - I'd bet on sloppy code or significant misunderstandings.

Samsung gets 2-year contract extensions to provide rugged handsets for UK's troubled Emergency Services Network

Ralph Online

Re: Hope I never have an emergency.....

And THAT's the BEST bit :-(

Just guess who else is involved:


WhatsApp sues India over new law requiring ‘traceability’ of messages

Ralph Online

Re: Facebook won't share

And Governments - even respectable ones - have agencies capable of pulling a fast one:


Pigeon fanciers in a flap over Brexit quarantine flock-up, seek exemption from EU laws

Ralph Online

Can't the Royal Pigeon Racing Association invoke the war?

Pigeons are WAR heroes after all.

Meet Winkie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAAUqOrAvMw

Mobile World Congress seemingly serious about in-person Barcelona event in June, shares safety plan

Ralph Online

Re: Hubris, meet nemesis

There are tests. This is worth a read: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-psychopath-test/jon-ronson/9780330492270

Copper broadband phaseout will leave UK customers with higher bills and less choice, says comparison site

Ralph Online

Re: Emergeny calls

Regarding FTTP in rural areas.... suspending fibre from posts is the cheap solution. And it's being done in many rural areas eg Fastershire serving Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.

I'm guessing it may actually be more economic to string fibre for several hundreds of meters rather than up/down every suburban pavement?

Nominet vows to freeze wages and prices, boost donations, and be more open. For many members, it’s too little, too late

Ralph Online

Re: They only had one thing to do...

Plus drive adoption of technical innovation in UK internet... like DNSSEC..

Oh wait.. https://registrars.nominet.uk/uk-namespace/registration-and-domain-management/dnssec/

Realme 7 5G: Parents, this is the phone you should have got your kids for Christmas

Ralph Online

Re: Battery

I think the India requirement is originally to do with voice - India is divided into 22 Circles, and different licenses/telecom operators in each. So there was roaming issues if you lived in one circle but regularly visited your family in another, plus also sometimes operators offered deals. I think the Indian's were generally very careful with their phone usage/billing.

'Massive game-changer for UK altnet industry': BT-owned UK comms backbone Openreach hikes prices on FTTP-linked leased line circuits

Ralph Online

FTTP/B hike prices to hit likes of Hyperoptic and Vodafone?

Last time I looked the customers of BT's FTTP/B products were likes of Hyperoptic (Oh, yes, "full fibre all the way" - mostly from BT - and then Cat6 inside the Multi-Dwelling Unit) and also Mobile network operators such as Vodafone for their backhaul. These operators will likely squeal like crazy - while hoping to get alternative solutions from other operators such as Virgin Media Business?

HP CEO talks up HP-ink-only print hardware and higher upfront costs for machines that use other cartridges

Ralph Online

I swear by HP printers..

And very frequently at them!

We have Huawei to make the internet more secure: Dump TCP/IP to make folks safer says Chinese mobe slinger

Ralph Online

Re: IPv6

Nobody has yet implemented RFC 3251 as far as I am aware.


Big miss! Getting that right could be a power for good!

Ralph Online

Re: I'm actually surprised

We reject: kings, presidents, and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and running code.

VMware staff in Silicon Valley can leave a pandemic, wildfire-ridden zone – if they're willing to accept less pay

Ralph Online

Re: Simples

Just recruiters..? Meet "Bob" a star programmer who outsourced his own job to China:


Brexit border-line issues: Would you want to still be 'testing' software designed to stop Kent becoming a massive lorry park come 31 December?

Ralph Online

Re: Testing? Are you having a larf?

The Irish have actually done their thinking, their planning, and their execution of their plans to bypass the UK over the last few years. The use of the UK as a "land bridge" to the Continent much reduced.

From March 2019:


From May 2020:


Vodafone chief speaks out after 5G conspiracy nuts torch phone mast serving Nightingale Hospital in Brum

Ralph Online

Carlo M Cippola

Well worth looking up Basic Laws of Human Stupidity by economist Carlo M Cippola.

He defined a "Stupid Person" as someone who repeatedly behaved in a manner which harmed everyone for no personal gain to themselves. So more based on behaviours rather than any ability to pass an IQ test.

And there are more Stupid People around than you'd imagine (for UK I'd say a first approximation could be 17.4m or maybe 13.9m?)

Don't worry, IT contractors. New UK chancellor says HMRC will be gentle pushing IR35 rules

Ralph Online

Re: "People in this country have had enough of experts"

Rishi Sunak - non-entity??? Sunak's wife is Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Indian billionaire and co-founder of Infosys, N. R. Narayana Murthy.

I think he'll know a thing or two about IT outsourcing and contractors. If he hasn't an agenda already, he'll soon be given one.

Apollo 11 @ 50: The long shadow of the flag

Ralph Online

Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history

Newtonian physics... well yeah, but I would guess most of the difficulty is solving second order differential equations. And for this they could have used Analogue Computers instead they went Digital I think because of weight constraints. Bit like giving up on a hammer drill and using a penknife?

A few reasons why cops didn't immediately shoot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

Ralph Online

Boomerang or Killer Drone

Hunting Boomerangs - apparently called kylies can take out a kangaroo or parrot at about 100m according to Wikipedia. So must be capable of taking down a drone with minimal risk of collateral damage? Just need someone trained in throwing them.

Or what about Killer Drones? Surely you just have a bigger, more powerful drone. Equip it with Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence... powered from the Cloud... and just get it to perform a quick hard reset on the intruding drone?

And Robert's your mother's brother.

'Alternative network provider' CityFibre boosts sales 36%

Ralph Online

According to their website: "CityFibre’s networks address 28,000 public sites, 7,800 mobile masts, 280,000 businesses and 4 million homes."

And I'd guess that the takeup from those 4 million homes is maybe 20-25% ?

Manchester pulls £750 public crucifixion offer

Ralph Online

If you want to act out being Noah...

Take a trip to Kentucky in the Summer!!!



Scotland's Skyscanner sold to Chinese rival Ctrip in £1.4bn deal

Ralph Online

Skyscanner - take-off and rocky ride?

I was introduced to Skyscanner by a work colleague in the early 2000's - so presumably soon after it was launched. Pretty unimpressed at the time.

Then in early 2014 I needed to book a (business) flight to Barcelona - I tried Skyscanner after a couple of work colleagues said that was how they have been arranging flights. Wow.. impressed.. took me though to a ticket agency and I got some decent flights.

However since then, whenever I've tried using Skyscanner I have been disappointed. Is it just my impression or has Skyscanner passed it's peak? And if so.. £1.4bn is a nice little stash for the owners.

Smart meter benefits even crappier than originally thought

Ralph Online

Re: Two reasons

Huius, Huius, Huius, Huic, Huic, Huic, Hunc, Hanc, Hoc.... and that's the lot from me!

China gets mad at Donald Trump, threatens to ruin Apple

Ralph Online

Basic problem....

1) The Yuan has been kept low to encourage exports/discourage imports into China.

2) Chinese Central Bank has essentially kept it's reserves in US$ and in the US. Built up by accepting the $$$$ from the Chinese exporters.

3) If the Yuan was allowed to rise in value then these assets are correspondingly devalued.

4) Therefore it's virtually unthinkable for the Chinese Central Bank to allow the Yuan to rise.

BIG problem....

Today is the 211th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

Ralph Online

1805: British fleet manned by migrants!

Worth noting that the victories at Trafalgar and then Waterloo ... THANKS in part to people from other countries:

"The crews of the ships that fought at Trafalgar included sailors from America, Ireland, Prussia, Sweden, the West Indies, Africa, and even France and Spain against whom the British were fighting. On Nelson's ship HMS Victory there were 22 nationalities involved in fighting on the British side."

Ditto at Waterloo..

200+ years later we think we can be great standing on our own? Errr no.

Virgin Media boss warns Brexit could hamstring broadband investment

Ralph Online

Re: Costs rising?

I would suspect that VM will be borrowing in £ in the city. [Indeed probably borrowing in the city to provide funds for other parts of LG - shipped though some Luxembourg type arrangement (?), and using interest payments made in the UK to offset/reduce their profits to zero - thereby paying no UK corporation tax.]

But ultimately LG reports its financials in $, so these will be negatively impacted as will any dividends paid to US investors.

Ralph Online

Re: Start investing and laying some fibre, then we'll listen...

All those companies (NTL, Telewest etc..) laid HFC = Hybrid Fibre Coax, so it was only fibre in the aggregation network, then a fibre node to convert to Coax cable to your home. And it was all analogue. Now it's digital.

NOBODY puts Coax in the ground anymore.

Project Lightening is laying modern fibre to the home. I think they are genuinely extending their coverage. Though I think much of it will still behave like HFC (RFoG). I would suspect they want/need better coverage to increase their potential number of customers (Homes Reached To Marketing) and compete with Sky and BT. Not sure how the reported price increases will help them though!

Ralph Online

Re: Pot -> Kettle

Just a minor correction: It's Liberty MEDIA are taking over control of F1. This is a US/media company. Liberty GLOBAL is an international telecoms company - mostly Cable, mostly Europe+South America. The latter was spun out from the former, though both are still controlled through special shares by John Malone.

British unis mull offshore EU campuses in post-Brexit vote panic

Ralph Online

Ghent has so much to offer....

Start with "Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant"

EU's one-time antitrust hammer Steelie Neelie had 'offshore interests'

Ralph Online

And Steelie would just like to say "Rot op"..

..with her classic gesture:


EU ends anonymity and rules open Wi-Fi hotspots need passwords

Ralph Online

Nicely written - inflammatory and humorous - article, but I am not convinced El Reg has its facts quite straight.

An article on IP Watch (OK, probably batting for the Sony-side of this argument) gives a more complete view. http://www.ip-watch.org/2016/09/15/wifi-providers-can-be-forced-to-require-passwords-on-rightsholder-request-ecj-rules/

To me this says that a rights holder can ask for an injunction on someone operating an open Wifi hotspot to secure their internet connection by means of a password.

So Mr Sony et al, are you going to order all open wifi hotspot operators to secure their internet connections? Really? One-by-one! Nah.. so most of the little guys will carry on BAU. At least I hope so!

As for the bigger hotspot operators - eg BT, Sky/The Cloud, or Virgin Media/Arqiva Wifi are already authenticating users.

VW Dieselgate engineer sings like a canary: Entire design team was in on it – not just a few bad apples, allegedly

Ralph Online

Re: Colour me surprised

I too had a 2008 Toyota with a D4D with the DPF fitted (a T-180 Avensis). And yes, MPG would peak at 38MPG, usually averaging about 33MPG. Much worse than the older Avensis with same engine, but without the DPF. Unimpressed.

In hindsight I think the problem was a gradual build up of soot in the EGR valve/Exhaust manifold - strip it and clean this and people claim that MPG > 40MPG can be achieved. Should have been a service item?

So were Toyota being incompetent, and/or unethical towards their customers?

VW engineers clearly were competent but highly unethical with their cheat devices.

Virgin signs up record ultrafast broadband subs

Ralph Online

Re: Great news,,,,

There is A WIK consult document on the ACM website from July 2014 that goes through many of the issues with Docsis networks. I can't claim to understand it properly...

Ralph Online

Re: Great news,,,,

And even if Ofcom were to judge VM to have Significant Market Power (SMP) in Fixed Broadband services, I believe it's very difficult to unbundle an HFC-based network.

ACM (the Dutch regulator) is keen to impose some requirement on Ziggo to unbundle, but there seems to be many technical hurdles that nobody is very motivated to overcome.

Facebook paid £4k in tax. HMRC then paid Facebook £27k – for ads

Ralph Online

I've just been reading "The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became A Tax Haven For Fat Cats And Big Business" by Richard Brooks. It's a good read, written by an ex-tax inspector doing some investigative journalism.

However it's hard to actually comprehend how all this tax avoidance malachy is actually done - it really does seem to be down to big business and accountants working with HMRC to set favourable, and highly complex tax laws which allow multi-nationals to circumvent paying much (any?) company tax.

Gives multi-national companies an even bigger advantage over small/medium sized businesses.

Shopping for PCs? This is what you'll be offered in 2016

Ralph Online

Couple of minor requests...

What I'd like to see on the next "fleet" of business laptops is:

a) Bluetooth enabled (maybe even properly secured - if that's possible?) so that I use a Bluetooth mouse directly instead of a silly little USB dongle

b) Windows 10 - with Miracast. So somehow you can use Miracast to connect a laptop to those big screen/projectors in meeting room. So no more palaver with HDMI cables, or God forbid those old VGA cables with the bent pins!

Council of Europe gets tough on net neutrality

Ralph Online

Re: Calm down! Pay attention to which organization we're dealing with!!!

Well, OK.. I guess you are entitled to your viewpoint :-) And I hope do you know that big companies like Google/FaceBook actually support Net Neutrality because that way the telco's are not allowed to charge them for carrying traffic originating on their servers. They don't want to pay what you are calling a bribe.

But I'm not arging for/against Net Neutrality here. And I'm certainly in favour of Human Rights.

Just please, please don't waste your time on CoE declarations on Net Neutrality.

Rather pay attention to the Consilium and http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/07/08-roaming-charges/ You'll see - in the EU at least - we're heading towards a "Weak" Net Neutrality. The complications are to do with what's "reasonable traffic management", and what exactly is a "specialised service".

Oh, and BTW this stuff struggling down the EU track is framed as a "Regulation" rather than a "Directive" which means it becomes EU-wide law without having to be passed at the Member State level.

Ralph Online

Calm down! Pay attention to which organization we're dealing with!!!

Please note that he "Council of Europe" has NOTHING to do with the European Union.

The CoE is a body that represents 47 European Countries. It has more to do with Human Rights - and it includes the European Court of Justice. Concerned about freedom of expression - so WTF do such people know about Net Neutrality? As long as someone can access FaceBook or Reddit - with some degree of privacy/anonymity - their job is done!

Net Neutrality, and overall digital/telco regulation, within the EU is for EU bodies to legislate on. And yes, they've been struggling with Net Neutrality legislation for the last 2-3 years. And they are more concerned about Customer protection and balancing European investments, than human rights.

Note: the two executive EU bodies are the Council of Ministers and the Consilium, supported by the bureaucarts in the European Commission, and with the European Court of Justice being the judiciary.

Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

Ralph Online

Much of the "science" of market research is built on the election polling industry - all going back to George Gallup as far as I understand.The dismal performance of the pollsters in GE2015 makes me wonder whether market research should now be rebased on weather forecasting - after all the science, or at least the mathematical models they have, seems to be improving!

REVEALED: Titsup flight plan mainframe borks UK air traffic control

Ralph Online
Black Helicopters

ATC running on a mainframe? In this day and age that's ridiculous! Surely it's most appropriate to run these applications "in the Cloud" ;-)

Thirteen Astonishing True Facts You Never Knew About SCREWS

Ralph Online

Q: How do you know whether you should use a screw or a nail?

A: Simple: use a nail, and if the wood splits then you know you should have used a screw.

How UK air traffic control system was caught asleep on the job

Ralph Online

Re: Was expecting something more technical

I doubt that it was anything so, so COTS as those!

From what I can see it's probably a Frequentis VCS 3020X system that was at fault.

One of these systems http://tinyurl.com/oplnucd

And I think relatively widely deployed? Although possibly each system has to be customized?