Jimbo: Software used for network-level smut-blocking DOESN'T WORK
Plus: 'It appears that IBM took the state of Queensland for a ride'
Quotw This was the week when IBM was banned by the Australian state of Queensland, which may well fire folks for hiring Big Blue if they're doing so for government projects.
It turns out that the tech stalwart behaved "unethically" when trying to win the bid to develop a new application for the state's Department of Health, according to the state report into the matter. The report accused Big Blue of fudging the numbers in a somewhat inaccurate portrayal of how much it actually reckoned it would cost.
The job started out in 2007 with a price tag of $6m and ended up costing over a billion dollars and not working very well at all. A report into the situation painted unflattering portraits of local government officials as well as Michael Burns, a former senior IBM executive consulting on the project. The final report alleged that Burns had displayed bias towards Big Blue, though Accenture was the preferred bidder. The report said:
The evidence is not sufficient to give a definite answer but there is substantial suspicion that the price was fixed, not by reference to IBM’s genuine assessment of what the implementation would cost, but by reference to the money remaining to Mr Bradley for the SS Initiative, and Mr Burns’ understanding that Mr Bradley would react unfavourably to a price much in excess of that budget.
However, the inquiry didn't leave the state off the hook either:
The State did not adequately communicate to IBM the business requirements for the workforce of Queensland Health which would permit IBM to design a payroll system which accommodated the number and complexity of pay rules. IBM did not actively elicit information about those requirements which would have allowed it to design such a system. The result was ongoing disputes about scope which resulted in changes to the contract, increases in price, and delays to the implementation date.
Either way, the report concluded:
The replacement of the Queensland Health payroll system must take a place in the front rank of failures in public administration in this country. It may be the worst.
Although IBM escaped any fines for its part in the project, the state said that the firm would be barred from starting any new jobs with the government "until it improves its governance and contracting practices". State Premier Campbell Newman didn't mince words:
It appears that IBM took the state of Queensland for a ride.
In Blighty, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has branded the government's network-level porn-blocking systems "absolutely ridiculous". He told Channel 4 News:
The software you would use to implement this doesn't work... Additionally, when we use cases of a paedophile who has been addicted to child porn videos online, you realise all that Cameron's rules would require him to do is opt in and just say: 'Yes, I would like porn please.' It would do nothing to stop criminals.
Tory MP Claire Perry wasn't about to let him get away with that, though, taking of course to that bastion of modern discourse, Twitter:
Jimmy Wales surprisingly confuses the issues of adult content filter+ illegal material. As PM said- child abuse images should be blocked... and internet companies have a proactive role to play rather than being told by IWF to take down or block.
A typical Twitter tussle ensued, degenerating into the "You don't even know what you're talking about", "I can't even", "I AM SHOUTING NOW" style of debate we all know and love in no time. Jimbo finished up by inviting Perry to dinner to discuss things properly:
I am happy to help formulate competent policy. This is not it.
In other political-net-related SHOUTING across the pond, Republican radio jock Rush Limbaugh has enlightened us all as to the political leanings of fanbois v fandroids.
Specifically, if not entirely accurately, Limbaugh decided that nearly all bloggers love Android and Google and Samsung, but they hate Apple - bit of a head-scratcher. But it might be because probably all the bloggers are Democrats - "young and hip, pop culture hip, that's high-tech, of course it would be". And Republicans "must seem like aliens from Mars, racists, sexists [and] bigot homophobes". Ergo:
Apple is the equivalent of the Republicans on these blogs, and Google, Android, and Samsung are the equivalent of the Democrats. They're perfect, they can't do anything wrong, they're ideal, and everybody hates Apple.
Pro-Samsung and Google, Android guys are faking data, faking news to make it look bad for Apple when it really isn't.
HURRAY FOR GOOD SENSE!
In news, the US Department of Justice has pronounced judgment on Apple, after winning its ebook price-fixing case against the fruity firm. In a sweeping set of conditions, the proposal, which needs to be approved by the court, suggests that Apple end its agreements with Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster, and don't enter new ones which would restrain it from competing on price.
Oh and don't enter any new agreements not only with ebook publishers, but also with "suppliers of ebooks, music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple's competitor retailers may sell that content". And let Amazon and Barnes and Noble sell through iTunes, and employ someone at its own expense to keep an eye on its anticompetitive tendencies.
Unsurprisingly, Apple reckons that's a bit much. Its lawyers fired back in a filing:
[The] injunction is a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple's business, wildly out of proportion to any adjudicated wrongdoing or potential harm. Plaintiffs propose a sweeping and unprecedented injunction as a tool to empower the Government to regulate Apple's businesses and potentially affect Apple’s business relationships with thousands of partners across several markets.
Plaintiffs' overreaching proposal would establish a vague new compliance regime - applicable only to Apple - with intrusive oversight lasting for ten years, going far beyond the legal issues in this case, injuring competition and consumers, and violating basic principles of fairness and due process.
And finally, the world has a new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, the man who uttered these very words on the notion of time travel:
Look, half an hour ago you were in with a shot! This is half an hour hence! We've f-cking time-travelled, yes? We're in a weird and wonderful world where everything is different! Maybe outside the polar ice caps have melted! Maybe there's f-cking robots knocking about and Davina McCall is the new Pope! Maybe you can download rice! I want you, right now, to think about your own future, OK? Think about what you are doing, get yourself back on the train to fucking Thomasville pronto, yeah? 'Half an hour'...
Though, to be fair, he was spekaing in the role of The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker at the time. ®
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