Apple et al and corporation tax

There is a very simple solution to the problem faced by governments trying to collect corporation tax from multinational companies operating on their territories. Replace the current method of calculating corporate tax with a new one. Corporate tax will now be levied as a fixed percentage of all sales/leases etc of goods and services in the country concerned. Then rename the tax to “Permission to Trade in the Market” tax as that, in effect is what corporate tax is.

It works like this : if Apple sell a million iThings in the UK it pays say 2% of of the gross value of all sales to the UK government. If Samsung sell a million sThings in Germany it pays 2% of of the gross value of all sale to the German government. If Huawei lease a million hThings in France it pays 2% of of the gross value of all these lease contracts to the French government.

Easy to calculate and an end to the discussion as to where profits are made.

No doubt this new regime will produce a flock of bleating complaints from the big corporations, but we let them bleat. The big corporations have proven themselves time and time again to be manipulative serial tax avoiders who show no concern for the citizens of the countries they operate in. So why should we cut them any slack now?

Yes, let them bleat, for we need roads, hospitals and schools for our children too.

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The delusional illusion of internet privacy…

I have had a good read of the latest Snowden revelations on the Guardian website. This one covers the extent to which the NSA and GCHQ are able to decrypt our ‘private’ internet activities. You know, things like email, shopping websites, banking etc which we all thought were ‘protected’ by “strong” encryption.

I am not surprised by the revelations, just dispirited. This is not just to do with the impact it has on my right to privacy as a private person, it also has implications for my working life.

Consider my situation (or anyone like me) as a IT specialist working in a country with strong privacy laws. We, like so many other organisations in the world, are tightly locked into proprietary, vertically integrated product systems supplied by large US based multinationals. Supposedly these systems sit behind impenetrable firewalls with layers of security and encryption to stop this data falling into the hands of third parties who do not have a right to view it.

However, according to the information that has been published so far, all of these commercial systems will have backdoors built in them to assist NSA/GCHQ data slurping. This could be designed weaknesses in the modules that encrypt and decrypt our data or ‘erroneously implemented’ bits of code in other parts of the systems. On top of this, once our data leaves our servers and travels out via the Internet it can be collected and read by the NSA (even if we made sure it was encrypted before it left our servers).

1) This means that, by installing and maintaining such systems we are effectively enabling the ‘theft’ of private data, not inhibiting it.

2) The fact that 850 000 people in the US have access to the NSA’s Tempora (electronic surveillance) system means that there is no way that this slurped information can be considered private.

Thus my organisation and I (together with all other organisations in a similar position) are effectively breaking the data privacy laws here in our bit of Europe.

I don’t really see a way around this one to be honest.

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Fix the organisation first

“Yes, of course Mr Blenkinsop, our ACME-fab development environment will solve all your problems. Simple install the software package and then you can produce business apps for all your target platforms, in record time and roll them out with ease…”

Companies have fallen for this kind of sales pitch time and time again leaving many of them with a disparate set of IT solutions. The truth is that most IT problems, that is to say problems that a customer blames on the technology they use, are caused by failings in the way their organisation functions. No amount of changing software will fix things, in fact the companies would be better off addressing the organisational issues BEFORE changing their IT systems radically.

H-Online has an interesting overview of two project that attempted to transition from Microsoft Office based solutions to Open Source Office solutions. You might be forgiven for thinking that switching from MS Office to Open Office should just be a case of uninstalling the former and installing the later. Of course, it isn’t that simple.

One organisation (Munich City Council) has been rather successful, the other, Freiburg City Council has been judged to be a failure.

Guess which one of the two seemed to think that swapping one application for another one would fix their problems?

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iPad (with or without wings)

Well I have just seen and touched my first one, caressed its brushed aluminium back and watched its icons vibrate orgasmically on its glistening screen.

What do I think of it, you might wonder.

My carefully considered opinion is that the iPad is the most over-rated, unintuitive and plain annoying piece of shyte ever created.

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New Look Gmail still sucks

Just did another of my periodic “New Look Gmail sucks” searches and came up against this interesting post on the website.

It is interesting because it looks at the issue of New Look Gmail now that the option to revert to the Old Look has been removed. Note that this doesn’t affect me as I chose to use the HTML Gmail interface and IMAP email clients a while back. For my webmail needs I and am slowly moving myself to my existing MyOpera email account. MyOpera email has a much more usable UI with unfashionable things such as text labels next to icons and clear separation of page elements.

Back to the article at, the interesting thing is that it makes the same points I have been making for some time, not just about usability but also about the problems of becoming dependent on Cloud computing solutions.

It is also good to read that I am not alone in my reaction to New Look Gmail and the generally undesireable direction that Google have been taking recently.

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New Google lock-in for Linux users

If you want to use a linux computer to watch Flash video content AND you want to avoid Google’s vertical lock-in, then this is about to get a little more difficult.

Versions of the Flash plug-in after version 11.2 will no longer be available as a standalone plugin for Linux users. Instead you will have to use Google Chrome.

Although, maybe it isn’t quite as bad as it seems at first glance. At least Flash 11.2 will get five years bug fixing support. A small price, (but clear price) to pay to keep Google products off your computer.

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RIP Scroogle

Scroogle, the King of Anonymous Googling, is dead.

Long live DuckDuckGo.

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“Three departments participated in the writing of this message”

Here is a screen shot of the message I got after I upgraded Firefox to v3.6.24 a couple of days ago. This is latest version that runs on this computer and I cannot upgrade to a higher version. This is because Mozilla have chosen to drop support for PPC macs from v4 onwards.

See anything wrong with the message?

Annoying Firefox "you've upgraded" message


Remember, this is the highest version of Firefox that will run on this computer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

You’re all bitching about something you choose and don’t pay for?

I’ve been trawling the Gmail help forums recently in the vain hope of a sign that Google will not force us all to use “New Look Gmail.”

One poster (38manny) made the the following point in a thread about New Look Gmail:

“Its a good thing they didn’t raise the price. O wait, it FREE. You’re all bitching about something you choose and don’t pay for? “

My response was this:

“Of course the price hasn’t changed! We still pay for it with the personal information that we entrust to Google and share with friends and family using Google products. Gmail, Reader, Google+ etc are the tools that Google use to collect information about us.

This information is used by Google to sell advertising space on Google products to other companies. It is those companies, the ones that advertise on Gmail, that are Google’s customers. We, the Gmail users are the product that Google are selling.

You might as well say that cattle are a bunch of freeloaders because they do not pay for the grass they eat.”

Some people clearly don’t get it. So here it is again, for the hard of thinking.

If you are an average Joe, and you think you are a customer of Google Inc*, you are probably suffering from delusions of grandeur.

*insert name of any company offering ad-supported “free” online services

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Gbook or FaceMail?

Why does everything have to look like everything else?

If I wanted to use Facebook, then I’d register for Facebook. Now I don’t have to, as the “New Look” Gmail conversation view now looks like Facebook (and Linkedin and Skype 5.x for mac etc etc).

Why does everything have to look like everything else?

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