More than a month ago now I announced my departure from Humax as their Chief Technologist. I have since been working for nice company doing some productisation work and while that has been interesting I have missed my colleagues at Humax. Recently I was called by my former Director, we had some discussions and after some careful negotiations I am returning to Humax. I am now to be a member of the development team and as part of this I will now be working more in Korea than before. It is a nice step-up for me and I hope I can input some valuable effort to the Humax development process. My departure from Humax was part of my personal development and I think it also gave a number of parties opportunities to consider approaches. This year is, so far, not only a good one for me but also I think this will be an important year for the companies I work with. The development of the YouView set-top boxes in partnership with the TV industry will be a minor revolution for the market place and Humax is well placed to take advantage of that through foresight and determination to lead the UK TV market. Furthermore I am also looking forward to working with freesat to bring their ambitions to fruition and I think that working together with them Humax can help their platform really evolve.
Here’s to the next step!
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?
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.
Christmass came and went. Ah well, a new year is ahead now. It was really very different. It was the very first christmas in my life that I had to celebrate without my family or, to be more precise, only part of my family. It was beautiful however, something was missing, something that wasn't there, something that was left in the wrong place at the wrong time…my parents. Regarding the New Year eve that was the loneliest ever. Me being seated in the sofa, sick, strugling to keep my eyes open for the advent of the new year watching Monty Python's 'The Life of Brian'.
One whole year has passed already since I arrived in this country with one piece of luggage and the cookie bear in my back pack. One whole year of stress, worries, challenges, failure and success. I tasted them all, I possessed them all but most importantly I wan't alone. I was also loved a lot.
Aspirations for the year that lays ahead? Plenty, being a bit more secure, even wiser, better equipped, I dare say even more greedy and demanding from my life; I keep my eyes fixed in the path in front of me. It won't be easy but it is a path I chose. And as a good friend told me before I leave Ioannina '…..those who deserve; the good ones, have options, thus choices…'
I recall when I was in college, in my first year I was one of the few people who owned a computer and that was fine. People used my computer occasionally and that was fine. Then in my second year I moved into a new halls of residence and more people had computers. I found myself being called upon to fix these machines and it began to get a bit tedious. Luckily a friend of mine was studying computing and had a machine of his own. He had learnt a lot quickly and when we lived in halls together in the third year I vowed to play dumb. Whenever anyone asked about computers I pointed at my friend and let him deal with it. I would follow along and when he got stuck he would look at me and I would step in and offer my sagely advice. It was like a plot from some modern Kurosawa film.
I have continued in this vein for some time now, despite knowing a heck of a lot about IT I choose to avoid IT responsibilities. I offer advice, I step in where required but as I put it to anyone who from my childhood who said they had expected me to go into IT:
"I want computers to work for me, I don't want to work for computers."
I started at my new company two weeks ago exactly, it is a small branch office which co-ordinates a great deal. But there are less than a dozen people here. IT is co-ordinated from greatly afar and this arrangement has so far just about worked. The guy who sorts things out does his best, but there is only so much someone can do when they aren't on the same land-mass as you and it isn't really their job to do IT. The result is that things here aren't as slick in the IT domain as they could be. So I have stepped up and said that for the time being I will gently increase my responsibilities and improve the services here.
My hope is that I won't get stuck as "the it guy" and I will be able to get on with my real job as the technology expert for our products. Sometimes I hate computers and sometimes I enjoy them, so I have to be in a position to say 'no' and thus I have promised no SLA for this task I have undertaken. The advantage, however, is that I think I can build it in my image and get things working right!