So, in the news today was the fact that the e-Borders “RING OF STEEL” cost £1.2bn to set-up and has resulted in:
- 2,000 arrests
- 48,682 alerts
- 1,000 refused entry
- 14,000 intelligence reports
So, lets put this in context. this security mechanism designed to protect us has cost us £600,000 per arrest to date. Now, I appreciate that the initial start up costs don’t reflect the future of the system, but lets assume it takes 5 years to achieve Return on Investment (most IT systems are budgeted this way) well we have now achieved a cost of £120,000 per arrest. Bargain!
So, what will £1.2bn buy you?
I will leave you to decide what value the e-Borders scheme has to you, does it make you feel more safe to know this?
We are currently house hunting and that is proving to be quite a painful experience because the market really has over-inflated the price of property in the UK. I look at some of the properties and I think, why would I pay that much?! But, I really want to build my first house, however the market for land is even more uncertain. The houses that I visit have proportions that are designed for a different generation and the market seems to be under the impression they can sell a property with some over inflated price based on the value if the property was renovated less some minimal cost to renovate*. One significant factor is that we are a couple that like to cook together and most kitchens are too small, thus you either compromise your lifestyle or factor in major structural changes. With land I find that people price it based on the potential, which isn’t fair because they haven’t actually put any effort into giving the land value. Land shouldn’t be worth some mythical value which doesn’t actually give you anything in return because at the end of the day it is a location plus dirt not a virtual house.
So, if someone reading this knows of some land to buy or has some land they want to sell then let me know! I will even pay 1% commission to anyone helping me secure the purchase of some suitable land. There is an incentive for you!
* In addition many people add in the expense of moving and selling the property plus the expense of buying their next property. More on the fairness of the property market in this article on economically sustainable housing.
Despite not being Greek myself I have very personal connections and commitments there and I was recently asked what I would do to ease the situation further (because Germany is not happy with the proposals so far). Of course I have no real influence on Greek politics but were I to be able to dictate here are my views. Warning, this is the brutal truth as I see it, it doesn’t mean I don’t like Greece but this is what I see as stopping Greece from being great again.
Personally I feel that the Greek people have let themselves get into trouble because of the way they conduct their politics. I am told that in the main the politicians are corrupt on a grand scale but as long as they do nothing that overtly and obviously affects the daily lives of the population the people won’t do anything. The people of Greece value individual liberties even if that is at the sacrifice of the common good and for all their protestations as to having been the originators of democracy they have forgotten that the cost of democracy is collective responsibility.
The unions and the people will strike because they are getting affected by the obviously unpopular cutbacks. The most notable issue is the fact that the public sector is massively bloated with probably 20-30% of people who are completely superfluous. In addition they spend huge amounts on academic research but believe that co-operating with business to commercialise efforts would taint academia. It seems that half the café workers in Greece seem to have a post-graduate degree and most of the workers seem to be regularly practising some form of tax evasion.
I love Greece but it just needs to wake up to a little self-sacrifice and the people need to take some responsibility (not just the politicians). My interim measures would be:
- Tell every government department to cut at least 1 in 4 jobs over the next two to four years. At the same time offer amnesty to non-permanent staff and let departments decide who they actually need (many good staff are on short-term contracts many lazy people have permanent contracts).
- Cap redundancy payments to limit the expense and begin a separate “back to work” scheme for those who are made redundant by the cuts.
- Don’t pay those who go on strike and let them face the responsibility of not going to work (hold firm).
- Ask politicians (local and national) to take half-pay for the next year and/or audit all expenses for the past two years.
- Force all academic institutions to fund part of their budget each year from external (non-academic) activities or cut their budgets proportionally. Starting at 5% and adding 5% each year until 20-25%.
- Modernise the power generation system to avoid dependency on ancient dirty/inefficient power stations.
- Reduce bureaucracy and paperwork by 30%.
- Cancel all non-maintenance spending on national defence (Reduce defence spending to <=3% GDP?). (Turkey isn’t really going to invade any more and they don’t need new submarines).
Just my observations over the past five years of being involved with Greece. Perhaps I am too harsh, but it is tough love. Greece lords itself for being one of the greatest countries in the history of the world, but that is history. The Greeks must look forward with a unified vision to what they want to be and have the ambition to execute that without sacrificing the things that already make Greece great (family, social life, community spirit).
Just my two Euro-cents.
From an email I received yesterday:
One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he asked about his bill and the barber replies, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The florist was pleased and left the shop.
When the barber goes to open his shop the next morning there is a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.
Later, a policeman comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The policeman is happy and leaves the shop.
The next morning when the barber goes to open up there is a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.
Later that day, a professor comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, ‘I cannot accept money from you I’m doing community service this week.’ The professor is very happy and leaves the shop.
The next morning when the barber opens his shop, there is a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen different books, such as ‘How to Improve Your Business’ and ‘Becoming More Successful.’
Then, an MP (a member of Parliament) comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The MP is very happy and leaves the shop.
The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen MPs lined up waiting for a free haircut.
And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the members of our Government
There pop-up on the forums from time-to-time, and they complain why we don’t have one feature or another. In the latest thread on DigitalSpy they complained that our product didn’t feature 1080p, or DiVx decoding. So, I thought I wanted to post something on DigitalSpy, however common sense and experience tells me if I post it there I might regret it because it could be a reactionary posting by me, so I will post it here to vent:
“It depends on where you are targeting a product in the market as a manufacturer. We pay a licence for all technology we use (this may be different than you experience) for example we even have to pay a royalty for the use of Phono connectors. It would be a cost for us and eventually for the consumer, we already have people complaining about cost, should we limit our market further?
I won’t defend the scaler in the product, I have been over this issue countless times. Personally I recommend if you aren’t satisfied with the scaler to use the “Original” mode. We manufacture Televisions as well, and I know that the scaler chip we use can cost as much as the entire MPEG decoder chip (in a good TV). In a TV part of the cost you are paying for is the scaler, if we put a dedicated scaler chip in our STB product you would effectively be wasting the money you spent on your LCD TV and paying double.
An experience of using the scaler in a DVD player is more about ensuring the quality of the output of the DVD decoder and is mostly enhanced by using HDMI output for a digital-to-digital movement of signals.
In the end it comes down to a matter of choice, as a manufacturer we make choices that we have to balance (costs/sales) and the consumer has to make a choice to decide if the product is right for them. We make the product we feel most appropriate to make, we even take feedback, but ultimately the we are responsible for the choices and how they affect our sales. Some might even say they don’t have a choice because we are the only manufacturer of Freesat approved HD PVRs, that is still about choice, you don’t have to buy anything or you can buy a non-Freesat product or you can wait until another manufacturer decides to make a product.”
At least here I can remove it…
Well, after the disaster that was the HTC Touch Diamond I had a while ago, I decided I needed to call Orange and sort out my phones. I had been fancying an iPhone but I was loathed to move to O2 for it. I had been tracking the news around Orange because they were rumored to be selling the iPhone this year. But it being the end of November and there not being a press release in sight I decided just to call them and see what I could blackmail them in to providing.
I had seen the HTC Touch HD and thought, being the most expensive phone in the residential section I thought I should try it. I spoke to the nice lady at upgrades, she said she wasn’t authorised give me that for free and I should speak to “retentions”. I was duely transfered and speaking to the crack team; I mentioned that I wanted a good upgrade or an extreme downgrad. I asked about the HTC Touch HD and said I was looking for something like an iPhone. They said I had to pay £50 for it, I don’t normally pay for phone upgrades, however they offered me a halving of my line rental. So, I am now paying £22 per month for 1200 minutes, 900 texts, unlimited internet and I got a top of the line phone.Win!
The HTC Touch HD is much better than the Diamond, it is faster (although the processor is the same), it has a better display (a large 480×800 touch display) and all in all despite it’s relative weight it feels good to the touch. I was at a PR event last night for our company where our PR agency invited a group of journalists and we were discussing such devices. I bought out my phone and the considered opinion was that it was quite nice.
I think it won’t be going back and I can be quite happy with what I have.