Everything, Everything - April 2010

2021: J F M A M J J A S
2020: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2019: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2018: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2017: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2016: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2015: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2014: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2013: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2012: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2011: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2010: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2009: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2008: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2007: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2006: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2005: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2004: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Friday 30th April, 2010 07:13
The first poll since Brown uttered the B word shows no change for Labour and the Conservatives. It's only the Lib Dems that have changed, and their numbers went down. This kind of fits with another poll I saw where only 7% of Labour voters said they were no longer going to vote for them (and only 8% said they were now undecided). It would have been nice to see how many people weren't going to vote Labour but are now more inclined.
Oh Gordon
Wednesday 28th April, 2010 23:24
It was looking so much better for Labour. ComRes had Conservatives: 36% (up three); Labour: 29% (no change); Lib Dems: 26% (down three). YouGuv had Conservatives 33% (no change); Labour 29% (up 1%); Lib Dems 28% (down 1%). But I'd imagine there will be another shift in the polls following the media hype over Gordon Brown's (two faced) comment and subsequent apology. I'm waiting for the next Conservative poster:

I've never voted Tory before...

To be fair to Gordon, he was probably irritated because some of the things she raised appeared to be based on what she probably reads in the Daily Mail. Gillian Duffy had the following discussion:

GD: But there's too many people now who aren't vulnerable but they can claim and people who are vulnerable can't get claim, can't get it.

PM: But they shouldn't be doing that. There's no life on the dole for people any more. If you're unemployed you've got to go back to work. It's six months...

GD: You can't say anything about the immigrants because you're saying that you're... all these Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?

PM: A million people come from Europe but a million people, British people, have gone into Europe. You do know that there's a lot of British people staying in Europe as well?

That last sentence of hers started off as gibberish and ended up with a farcical question based on what appeared to be her dislike of the large number of immigrants living in her area. As the actor Simon Pegg stated on Twitter:

Seriously though, where are the Eastern Europeans "flocking in" from? My guess would be Europe, possibly East.

I am annoyed that Sky News decided to broadcast what they'd recorded off-camera, in what was clearly a private conversation (where he called her "a sort of bigoted woman"), but I can appreciate that they had a story and decided to run with it. It seems the BBC would have been unable to run with the conversation if they'd recorded it on one of their microphones (whether that's a good or bad thing, I'm undecided).
Lib Dem Third Place
Wednesday 28th April, 2010 00:00
It's okay everyone, normal service with the Lib Dems in third place will resume very shortly.

Some of the latest polls are showing Labour equal with or just above the Lib Dems. The ComRes result, with Labour and Lib Dems equal, indicates a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party, with 279 seats. The Tories would have 244 seats, and the Lib Dems 96. YouGov indicates Labour is 1% above the Lib Dems, with Labour the largest party on 282 seats, the Tories next with 247 seats, and the Lib Dems with 90 seats. Populus has Conservatives up four to 36% with Lib Dems down three (28%) and Labour down one (27%), which suggests that more Lib Dem supporters may be considering the Conservatives than Labour. I'm interested in the result of the next Ipsos MORI result.

With over a week to go, I wouldn't be surprised if support for the Lib Dems (if it ever really existed) drops even further, with most people voting Labour or Conservative. Clegg's suggestion of a coalition with the Conservatives (with Clegg presumably as deputy PM) appears to have put off many voters, and I suspect others that are keen to see the back of Labour aren't happy with the suggestion of a Lib-Lab coalition with Clegg as PM. Aim gun at foot... shoot.

But the Institute for Fiscal Studies have the Lib Dems in first place for their economic plans. The Conservatives apparently have the biggest black hole. Mr Cameron has set out plans to cut borrowing by more than his rivals over the next few years. He has set out public spending cuts of only £11.3 billion and tax rises of about £11 billion. However, there is a £52.4 billion gap in the spending plans. The Labour black hole is estimated at £44.1 billion, while the Lib Dems have the smallest unexplained gap, estimated at £34.5 billion. However, the IFS described some of the Lib Dem plans as "highly speculative".
Lloyds And RBS
Tuesday 27th April, 2010 01:32
David Cameron always opposed state ownership of these banks, calling it a "disaster for the British taxpayer, a disaster for this Government and a disaster for our country".

But the taxpayer is currently sitting on a profit of close to £10bn on its stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group after a surprise surge in their share prices.

The shares in both banks have risen sharply in recent days and outperformed the wider market amid signs that the banking crisis is coming to an end and that their bad debts have peaked.

Alistair Darling tonight claimed his bailout of the banking sector had been justified after analysis by the Guardian showed a sizeable paper profit had opened up – once recently disclosed fees paid to the government are taken into account.

RBS shares have jumped 75% in little more than two months and a £26bn combined loss on both stakes at the end of last year has now been reversed to a profit of £9.4bn. The Guardian has calculated that the profit on the 84% stake in RBS tonight stood at £7.4bn while the taxpayer's 41% share in Lloyds was worth almost £2bn more than the Treasury paid for it.

Vince Cable wisely suggests that the Government shouldn't sell the shares for years (although it doesn't sound like Labour ever planned to sell them early), but Ian Gordon, banks analyst at Exane BNP Paribas suggests "It may prove increasingly attractive for the new UK government to take advantage of the current frothy price to try to claw back part of its £45.8bn investment [in RBS] without loss,".

Given that the Conservatives are keen to reduce the deficit (although George Osborne refuses to provide any kind of specific figure for "bulk" and doesn't appear to be capable of determining for himself how much to cut as he's merely repeating the advice of Mervyn King), this might be one way for them to quickly get some money back without having to increase VAT to 20% (or more) or going back on their reversal of Labour's planned increase in National Insurance.

This news also reinforces my belief that Darling has a pretty good grasp of the economy (despite the rather scary figure of £1.4 trillion of national debt, which I'd prefer we didn't have hanging over our heads); although you could perhaps argue that the banks had to be nationalised when no one else stepped in and it's possibly luck that has resulted in these profits.
Monday 26th April, 2010 23:56
The biggest mistake that The Conservative Party made in this election was their use of the word "change". They urged people to "vote for change" with their campaign slogan. They stated this was the "year of change" on their posters. So people are thinking of voting for change. Unfortunately for the Conservatives it seems that people are thinking of voting for the Liberal Democrats. Perhaps they should have stuck with "Vote Conservative" (although this does lack the energy that "change" suggests, which worked so successfully in America).

Here's a new poster that I think they should consider:

Vote for Change
Reality Check
Saturday 24th April, 2010 12:21
Seeing as other sites are doing reality checks on what the various parties are saying, I thought I'd join in. In the first televised election debate Nick Clegg mentioned that 5,000 more managers were employed in the NHS in the last year. He also claimed that the maternity ward he visited in Kingston was under threat of closure. Well here are some other statistics and opinions.

According to the NHS HCHS and GP workforce statistics (as of 30 September each year), there were 39,913 managers and senior managers in 2008. By 2009 that had risen to 44,661. That's 4,748 (close to 5,000, but technically closer to 4,500 if you decide to round to 2 significant figures instead of 1).

In the same time, the number of doctors went up from 133,662 to 140,897. The number of qualified nurses went up from 408,160 to 417,164. The number of qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff went up from 142,558 to 149,596. The number of support (to clinical) staff went up from 355,010 to 377,617. That's an overall increase of 45,884.

So there were almost 45,884 more people working in the NHS to provide care and support to the public (for transparency, there were also an extra 10,464 NHS infrastructure support staff performing central functions, and an extra 1,827 in hotel, property and estates), and there were 4,748 more managers. That's barely over 10%.

Now think about where you work. Think about your org chart. Think about how many people typically work directly under a manager. Is it a real surprise that an extra manager was recruited for every 10 other people that provide care and support? To me, it doesn't sound too shocking (although I'd prefer it were a slightly lower percentage).

Moving on to the maternity ward in Kingston that's "under threat". Well, it's not under any more threat than any other maternity wards in the area. In a statement, the clinical directors for Healthcare for South West London - Gavin Marsh, Dr Howard Freeman and Dr Martyn Wake - said:

"Hospitals and PCTs are looking to improve all healthcare services in south west London but there are no proposals to close any service in south west London."

"This work is at an early stage and has not considered any specific sites for closure nor have they agreed any numbers of hospitals that will be required to deliver A&E, maternity, complex surgery, critical care or specialist children’s care."

A spokesman for Kingston Hospital NHS Trust said:

"Kingston Hospital welcomes the debate on how healthcare provision is best organised in the future. Senior clinical staff have been working with NHS London on the south-west London Review for some time now."

"Kingston Hospital has provided the community with excellent maternity and A&E provision for many years and we look forward to continuing to provide an increasingly enhanced service to our community in the future."

Conservative Councillor Geoffrey Austin (councillor for Canbury Ward which includes Kingston Hospital) recently wrote on the 'Save Kingston Hospital' Facebook group:

"Kingston Hospital Trust stated at their quarterly public meeeting this morning (Wed) that they weren't aware of any decisions having been made - and they are actually involved in the current consultations!"

Politicans need to put their facts and figured into context, and they need to stay away from scaremongering (there are suggestions that the idea of the maternity warn closure was started by a Lib Dem activist named Dan Falchikov).
Friday 23rd April, 2010 23:55
I'm not going to debate whether we need Trident (it's nice to have, but I can understand the perceived hypocrisy), but I will go over the points made by this BBC News article.

Opponents of Britain's nuclear weapons system claim the full cost of replacing and running the Trident system on a like-for-like basis, as both Labour and the Conservatives have pledged to do, will be between £80bn and £100bn in total. That works out at around £2bn pounds per year over the system's expected lifetime of 40 years, or some 5% of the annual defence budget, which currently stands at £38bn a year.

So it's expensive, but it's only 5% of the annual defence budget.

British governments have studied three times whether there are cheaper ways than Trident (or its predecessor) of achieving the same aims, but each study concluded that this type of system provided the most credible and reliable nuclear weapon.

Despite these conclusions, the Lib Dems want to go for a different option.

Trident's ballistic missiles have a long range, of up to 7,500 miles. One alternative that has been suggested is using cruise missiles based on different submarines. However, cruise missiles have a far shorter range, of over 1,000 miles, and are slower and more vulnerable to being shot down.

It's not a huge deterrent if it can be shot down before it reaches its target (assuming it can even reach its target).

Dr Lee Willett, head of Maritime Studies Programme at the defence and security think-tank Royal United Services Institute [...] says a cruise missile has significant consequences in terms of cost, as there is no hypersonic long-range cruise missile on the market - so Britain would have to look at developing one at great expense.

So we might be able to create a cruise missile with a similar range, but it would be expensive to develop (and could therefore cost more).

Others have suggested using a land-based delivery system, to avoid the cost of building new submarines. But that has been rejected in the past as too vulnerable to attack - and impractical on these crowded islands.

You could argue that we have nuclear power plants on this crowded island, so why not stick the missiles on land? I still think it's safer and more effective to have a submarine. I don't know how much it would cost to build something on land that could be protected from attack (but to give a very rough idea, a nuclear power plant costs £2-2.5 billion, so I'd expect it to be a bit more than that), but I'd guess that the cost of a submarine (in 2006 it was estimated at £11-14 billion for four Trident submarines, so just over £3 billion per submarine) isn't too different (might even be cheaper?), and the more nuclear material that's not stored on land the safer we'll be. It's presumably much harder for a terrorist to find and break into a submarine than do so on land.

Some say it would be cheaper to launch missiles from a long-range aircraft. However, the shorter range would again be an issue - and the aircraft could be brought down. The White Paper also examined having a large surface ship that could launch Trident missiles, but judged that the vessel would be too easy to detect.

So Trident, in its current form, appears to be the best approach. Considering how the Lib Dems (and Conservatives) frequently criticise the government for not having the right equipment (despite Labour apearing to suggest that it was a temporary imbalance caused by a change in tactics by the terrorists), it seems odd to go the route where we could end up at a huge weaponry disadvantage.
Facebook vs Politics
Friday 23rd April, 2010 18:10
Some of you may have spotted these two recent additions (an event and a group) to Facebook:
  • National Not Voting Conservative Day
  • We got Rage Against the Machine to #1, we can get the Lib Dems into office
I admit it's true that the Facebook campaign was a driving force behind RATM getting to the top of the charts (I was one of those people that downloaded the single), but when it comes to UK politics you have to be more realistic.

People bought the single for a laugh. There were no real repercussions, other than a rather unusual track will forever be listed as the Christmas number one single and over £83k has been raised for the homeless charity Shelter. The only "loser" was Joe McElderry, but the fight probably meant he sold more singles and got more royalties than if the battle hadn't happened - although it must suck for him that he hasn't (and probably never will) sold a #1 single.

The original Facebook group had around half a million members, growing to almost a million people after RATM had been announced as the winners on the Sunday before Christmas. Despite the large number of members of the group, only half a million copies of the single were actually purchased (that's all it took to get to number 1). This might sound right as it's roughly the equivalent of a copy per person, but many people in the group bought 2 copies of the song from at least 2 online stores (e.g. Amazon, Play), so you probably need to divide that number by at least 2 (if not 4) to get an accurate number of people that made the song get to the top of the chart.

Voters in the General Electon won't get that luxury (short of stealing their dad's card and wearing a fake beard...). For each member of the Facebook group for the Lib Dems, at most they can give 1 vote (and that's assuming they are all registered to vote and get around to voting). At the time of writing, they have just 142,017 members (unlike the RATM group, a large number of these people were probably already going to vote for the Lib Dems). These 142k Lib Dem voters make up a tiny fraction of the ~45 million registered voters in the UK (0.3%).

The National Not Voting Conservative Day event has 51,001 "confirmed guests", which works out as 0.1% of the vote (and many of those attending the event are probably members of the other group).

Anyone that thinks Facebook can greatly influence the General Election and get the Lib Dems into power is completely mistaken. Anyone that relies on the statistics from applications on Facebook are most likely making a mistake (unless the application adjusts the results to account for demographics, based on whatever information has been entered into the user's profile).
Wednesday 14th April, 2010 16:34
My first experience with Hyper-V didn't go very well, but in hindsight that was either down to network card drivers (possibly) or the fact I only had one network interface (probably the cause of my issues) when they recommend at least one interface is not used by Hyper-V.

But today's experience (with a server that has 2 NICs) was fantasic. Everything works. I even managed (after a bit of searching with Google to discover a VMC to Hyper-V import tool) to migrate a Windows 2003 SP2 VM created/running under Virtual Server 2005 SP1 to run under Hyper-V (it turns out that pre-SP2 is trickier to get up and running).

Quite happy :)
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