All entries for April 2007

April 20, 2007

Professional Closure

Writing about Ban Private Schools from flipthelid.co.uk

Comment 62 included:

In what way to doctors, lawyers and accountants have monopolies that engineers don’t?

Most members of the Bar Council, the Law Society and (I think) the Institute of Chartered Accountants spend most *of their working time on tasks where their professional body has a monopoly.

This is very different from the experience of members of the Institution of Civil Engineers the Institution of Mechanical Engineers or the Institution of Engineering and Technology

I was an associate member of the Institution of Electrical Engineering (predecessor to the IET), I couldn’t be bothered to apply for full membership and after I few years I just left. It didn’t make any difference whether I was a member or not.

A couple of examples to illustrate how a professional institution can raise the income of its members:

  • Restrict the supply of labour. Raise the level of educational qualification and experience needed for entry. This has a side effect of raising the status of the profession, by putting clear demarcations between members of the profession and less skilled people and between difference grades within the profession.
  • Stimulate the demand for labour. Claim that many tasks may only be done by your members and resist “deskilling”. Deskilling is a term used to describe the process whereby employers split a job (previous done by highly skilled people) into two parts, that which really needs a high level of skill, and the rest which can be performed by cheaper labour. By deskilling a job, the demand for high-level skills is reduced.

So an explanation for engineers being paid a lot less than lawyers doesn’t need to include such nebulous things as culture or status.

This doesn’t mean that engineers can’t get get good money, more that they have to become managers if they want to prosper. Bill Gates provides an extreme example. It’s significant that his branch of engineering is characterised by fast changing technology. I suspect that while a top manager needs no more than A-level physics to grasp the engineering issues associated with say, a major civil engineering project, keeping up-to-date with the latest software concepts might well be a far more challenging task.

Oh yeah it’s just another example where the Free Market fairy story doesn’t match reality


April 19, 2007

Proposed new Highway Code shows contempt for cycling and safety

Writing about Highway Code – written by motorists for the benefit of motorists? from Cycling to and around Warwick University

I make no apologies for copying this from here

Road safety minister Stephen Ladyman has laid the new Highway Code before Parliament. If not contested by MPs or Lords, it will be approved within 40 days.

The new Code will require cyclists to use cycle facilities ‘wherever possible’, irrespective of the consequences for their safety. Similarly cyclists will continue to be recommended to ride around the outside of roundabouts, in the place where conflict is most likely. The rule that they ‘should’ wear a cycle helmet is also retained.

70% of the 4,000 public responses to the draft Code came from cyclists, and there were as many responses from cycling organisations (41 responses) as from local authorities and road safety organisations together. Despite this, the Government has chosen to ignore completely the clear concerns expressed about the impact of the new rules on cycling safety, and the almost certain increase in counter-claims of contributory negligence that will arise when cyclists are injured.

From the outset Ladyman has refused to meet with the cycling organisations to discuss the draft document. However, there were more promising ‘leaks’ from civil servants that there would be changes. We were also told that the new Code would not be ready before 2008. Cyclists can now rightly feel aggrieved that they have been deceived and that prejudices and ignorance have ridden rough-shod over considerations about their safety.

CCN, CTC and other cycling organisations are now considering their options, but will need the support of cyclists throughout the UK to overturn this travesty, as we must. In the meantime, please encourage cyclists once more to contribute to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund and if you are likely to meet with your MP for other reasons, please make him or her aware of your concerns.


April 15, 2007

Silly enough to buy the latest technology

Follow-up to Retro Vista from George Riches: Complaints from a middle aged layabout

With 20 years professional experience with software, I should have known better.

A catalogue of the woes I’ve had with my first notebook:

  • For the first few days I focused on establishing internet and desktop-notebook connectivity. I then discovered a DVD entitled “Upgrade you Windows Vista Experience”. I ran it, expecting a few bug fixes. Instead after turning on the notebook The Windows Vista home Basic product key you typed in is invalid for activation appeared.
    Selecting “Access your computer with reduced functionality” allowed my browser to run, but no other application programs. At the bottom right-hand corner of the screen Windows Vista™ Build 6000 this copy of Windows is not genuine appeared. I tried activation by telephone – phoning 0800 018 8354. I had to enter 54 digits by touch tone before getting transferred to a robot with an American accent….... I did get it activated in the end.
  • Lotus 123 (Millennium edition) 9.0 won’t install – it works fine on XP.
  • Zonealarm won’t install
  • AVG Anti-spyware will install, but when it runs, The application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000142). Click OK to terminate the application always appears
  • It took me four hours to get DVD videos to play. When I put a video DVD into the drive, Windows Media Player cannot play this DVD because there is a problem with digital copy protection between your DVD drive, decoder and video card. Try installing an updated driver for your video card appeared. Needless to say the problem was nothing to do with the video card. After upgrading the BIOS and installing the latest audio codec driver, DVD videos (and audio CDs) do play.
  • I had to install winhlp32.exe manually
  • I can’t associate more than one program with a filetype

Perhaps a local retailer would have been better than Dell. Dell seem to have a rigid attitude to technical support. After 30 days their policy is that “all non-hardware related issues, e.g. software questions, virus removal, etc.” will only be dealt with via their chargeable software support telephone service. As I didn’t discover the problem with the audio until 44 days after delivery, that’s not very customer-friendly to me. A local retailer might have been more flexible, giving free support as long as the total time taken wasn’t excessive.

So far I’ve spent 25 hours setting up my notebook. I’ve yet to get any use or pleasure from it.


April 05, 2007

What about a British Identity?

Good that software has been added to Warwick blogs to provide spelling checking. Bad that it only understands North American.
Red lines appear under
Labour
Kerb
sympathise

It’s bad enough having to cope with muddled dates – 1 April 2007 being
shown as 04/01/07 – which to my mind means
4 Jan 2007 for the general public
2004 Jan 7 for those who like the consistency of the most significant number being at the left.


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