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Showing posts from July, 2002
Night of the Long Knives

It seems that the Chancellor has also woken-up to the argument I made in CW360 last week, that while an aggressively “wired” public sector seems like a jolly good idea for some, for others, notably the National Audit Office and the Treasury, there’s growing alarm at the way the money is being spent.

Apparently, the Probation Service has, according to one revelation, been paying its support contractor £11,000 every time it called out an engineer over a weekend. With costs like these, it’s hardly surprising that Gordon Brown is disturbed and it does rather explains why the IT industry is so very keen on helping the Public Sector along its increasingly expensive path towards its 2005 goal of digital Nirvana.

Observed from abroad, the UK is generally seen as a pillar of virtue and an example to other nations and we have been busy advising other countries on their own development of electronic Government processes. However, not everyone believes that eGovernment lik…
Where Angels Fear to Tread

By the time you read this column, I’ll be behind bars, no doubt on remand in “the Scrubs”. Of course, it was bound to happen one day and I received the “Notice of Intended Prosecution” this morning.

Thanks to rapid advances in speed camera technology, this particular menace to society was caught – allegedly – making “Excess Speed” down the Old Kent Road – “a 30mph zone” – “at 16:07 on July 2nd”.

That day sticks in my memory, if only because the gridlock in South London was so bad that afternoon, that it forced me to turnaround in despair and fight my way home. In fact, I believe that if I actually managed to exceed 30 mph at any point on my route, I should be rewarded with a medal and certainly not a fixed penalty fine and points on my license.

“It’s quite simple really”, said one of my friends in high places with an ironic grin, “speed cameras are probably the only example of technology introduced by government which can actually demonstrate a return on inv…
No Sex Please – We’re British

It appears that a quarter of UK companies have sacked employees for misconduct involving peeking at online pornography over the Internet, according to a survey from Websens and that 72% of businesses have had to address the uncomfortable reality of Internet abuse or should I call that misuse?

So hands-up anyone who hasn’t ever browsed an “unsuitable” Web site? If this were France or Italy of course, readers would immediately fill the mailbag with their favourites but we’re British, which is why our politicians hide, rather than celebrate their mistresses.

Of course, one problem lies in avoiding sex on the Internet. My Hotmail inbox this morning had eleven emails, even with the spam filter turned-on. One was legitimate correspondence, three were loan offers, four were junk and four were ‘solicitations’ of one kind or another. Increasingly, the latter arrive as HTML, with embedded pictures, so regardless of whether I wish to view a ‘sample’ or not, I can sti…
Not Me .Gov

Unisys’ Brian Hadfield may be a little harsh when he says "The government needs to stop paying lip service to 'joined up government' and start doing it. Unlike many other countries, the UK has opted for the ‘Big Picture’ vision of eGovernment and a strategy that goes with it and has found, in attempting to implement it, that Government is big, very big indeed.

It’s true to say that the message from the trenches is at times, very much at odds with the message from the top. When I meet people at Local Authority level, the frequently reflect the Unisys research by telling me that they feel under-resourced and have day jobs too. They understand why we need to streamline public sector services but invariably, they feel they are being pushed too fast towards a goal they can’t possibly achieve in the time they have been given.

Through thinking big, Central Government risks losing sight of the wood for the trees. Expectations are high and there’s a risk in every countr…
Like Railtrack but with Fibre

Businessman Paul King, believes that BT’s OpenWorld Broadband service is so bad that it’s cost him as much as £30,000 in lost and interrupted business and so strongly does he feel about the matter, that he’s apparently taken his protest to the BT offices, parading his grievance on a sandwich board.

The future is Broadband and that naturally means BT. Well of course it does but reconciling the reality of our domestic market with the platitudes, promises and the rhetoric contained in their latest publicity drive are another matter entirely.

“Get yourself an ASP, ASAP”, screamed the banner headline on page twelve of BT’s newspaper Broadband supplement. “Why not outsource this work to somebody what already has the necessary know-how”? Was the subtitle. I almost collapsed in a puddle of helpless laughter.

It was November of 2000 when I chaired one of the big ASP events at the Novotel in London and Sally Davis, the President of BT Ignite told the audience why…
Drop the Dead Donkey

Are we deceiving ourselves over technology? Does what it promise actually work all the time rather than some of the time? By this I mean 99.999% rather than 95% of the time.

I’m in danger of becoming a secret Luddite. I’m starting to envy the few societies that remain firmly off-line; whose notion of advanced telecommunications is ownership of a hollowed-out coconut, a piece of string and two tin cans.

Last week, you may recall my taking a shot at BT for wasting my time and that of anyone else by not publishing their new dial-up Internet number on their website. The number is of course 0808 9933163 but BT executives clearly don’t read CW360 because as I write this the access number on their website is clearly 0808 993 3024, which is equally clearly wrong and they have been told. Perhaps they just don’t care and certainly, the mailbag is flooded by other readers sharing their own special ‘BT Moments’.

Then there’s Barclays Bank, my own and an on-line service I rely …
Time to Hang-up My Beard

I’m an equal opportunity employer. Really I am. I’m prepared to consider Linux as a serious operating alternative to anything available from the ‘evil empire’ and so it seems, do an increasing number of large businesses, encouraged by the power of the ‘Blue’ side of the ‘Force’, IBM.

It’s been almost three years since Bob Young gave me my own Red Hat to wear and since then and regardless of attempts by ‘You know who’ to marginalize the Operating System as a geeky fad, Linux has gradually emerged from its natural, open-source home among the Hobbits and has found the industry support it needs to launch it into the Enterprise Server market. Most noticeably, Oracle (9i) has announced that it is now giving Linux equal status in a market it now sees being split three ways, between Windows, Linux and Solaris. This is an enormous boost for Linux fortunes, as the OS now offers the credibility that goes with the support of both IBM and Oracle, an event that finally dismi…
It's Good to Talk - Sometimes!

It’s a secret you know, the new BT Anytime Lite Connect number. Well almost a secret but then, what kind of business genius thinks-up a name like BT Anytime Connect Lite in the first place?

Looking back on previous columns, this is far from being the first time I have had occasion to fire a broadside at BT and its Internet service. It’s bad enough that I can’t aggregate my Internet charges into my BT One bill but for heavens sake, you would have thought that if BT were going to change its access number, it would announce the new number in big red letters on its website?

Wrong. As of this evening, as I caustically pointed-out to BT Anytime Lite Connect’s telephone support number (calls are charged at 50 pence per minute) the access number is clearly given as a number which doesn’t work correctly. In fact it re-directs you to a BT OpenWorld web page called “dialleroutof date.html” and freezes Internet Explorer (more of that in a moment). Only by callin…
Forget the 21st Century, it’s the 15th you need to worry about.

Synchronicity, otherwise known as ‘acasual coincidence’. Like ‘Déjà vu’, have you ever experienced it? It’s what describes the kind of coincidence that has old friends constantly bumping into each other, against all the odds.

There’s an awful lot of Déjà vu in the IT industry but not much synchronicity. I did however find an example in the Sunday Times, which reflected what I had been saying in Monday’s ‘Thought for the Day’ about the ‘Takeaway Economy’.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison was talking about industry consolidation and predicts, that one day, there would be only three software companies left in the world, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and of course, Oracle. The remainder will of course dwindle and disappear, much as our own home-grown talent has done here in the UK and Ellison promises to retire when his ‘Killing Fields’ theory of software consolidation become self-evident; not long now then Larry?

Ellison, who is never s…