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Just thought I’d tell you about Computer Aid’s main competitor in the UK – a little known charity called Digital Links. If you compare the hard statistics, they actually do a much better job of sending computers to the developing world. I don’t work for Digital Links, I just like to know where my computers and money are going, hence I did some basic research.

Compare the stats in Computer Aid’s annual report with the stats from the Digital Links annual report, both of which are accessible from the Charity Commission web site.

Computer Aid had a total income of £1.7m and shipped 22,365 computers in the year ending March 2007. This works out as costing £76 to ship each computer. Each member of the 20 staff contributed to sending 1,100 computers to the developing world.

Digital Links shipped 20,400 computers in the year ending September 2006. In this year it had an income of £646,457. This works out as costing £31 to ship each computer. Each member of the four staff contributed to shipping 5,100 computers.

Anyway, think about these facts next time you’re deciding what to do with your computers. There are lots of charities crying out for computer donations, so why not research them before making your decision.

John Smith

June 16, 2008 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

IT qualification will be useful

Your recent article questions whether there is a need for the Information and Communication Technology Technician (ICTTech) qualification to be offered by the Engineering Council UK (ECUK) (Engineering body pushes new IT qualification, 9 June). In fact, the piece suggests that it might actually add confusion to what is described as an “already overcrowded panoply of IT qualifications”.

But the ECUK award cannot be compared with qualifications such as BCS’s Chartered IT Professional, which is not aimed at technician-level staff.

ECUK is confident that the ICTTech qualification, which has been developed in collaboration with employers and ICT sector bodies, is unique. It is the first professional qualification designed for technicians working in the sector and will provide a non-proprietary competence standard where previously none existed. It will benefit not only those who gain it – providing real recognition of their skills – but also those who employ them.

Andrew Ramsay, chief executive, ECUK

June 16, 2008 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Security training void must be filled

I was concerned to read about recent research showing that most newly qualified software developers have had little or no instruction in creating secure applications (Computing courses skim over IT security, 19 May).

Security of IT applications and resources is a specialist area that requires specific skills and knowledge. It makes sense for IT people to get trained on the specific software used by their company once they have commenced their career, but if developers do not have the basic awareness of the potential problem areas how can they be expected to understand the associated risks and available solutions?

Martin Hall, Computerlinks

June 16, 2008 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

HP’s Mini strikes right note for travel

I’m going to purchase the HP Mini-Note (Ultra-small laptops go head to head, 2 June).

I do a lot of travelling so the Mini-Note will be useful, although Vista will be dumped as soon as possible. The almost full-sized keyboard will be perfect for my work and the material from which the case is manufactured is spot on for my needs, along with the generous storage capacity.


June 9, 2008 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

No Phorm in a teacup on privacy

Phorm, in its previous incarnation as 121media, was responsible for one of the nastiest pieces of spyware of 2005 and 2006 – the Apropos rootkit (Internet service providers put user privacy at risk, 12 May). This spyware was a nightmare to uninstall. Just ask anyone who tried to do so.

Add this to the fact that Phorm and BT already ran trials in 2006 and 2007 without customers’ knowledge or consent, and you have a company with a very nefarious history.

The real question is whether or not people should trust a company with such a history in spyware to intercept their communications. I don’t, and I doubt if other readers would if they were fully informed about its history.

Name withheld

June 9, 2008 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weather problem for city broadband

The experiment in broadband-for-the-masses that Sneak reported on recently sounds very similar to the WMAN – or wireless metropolitan area network – that a company tried in Atlanta (Where do I stick it, 2 June).

The company, Biltmore Communications, thought it would be a good idea to mount 802.11b yagis and receiver drums around the city, bounce the signal around and then down into the apartments and businesses with cables. A great plan – except Atlanta has lots of hills, a terrible line of site, bad storms, and did I mention massive heat waves?



June 9, 2008 in Wireless | Permalink | Comments (0)

Doubts over business benefits of offshoring

The bank I work at has been exploring the offshoring to India option for about two years now (British public is against offshoring, 2 May). Although costs have not been reduced and projects are failing miserably, they have been marketed as being successful and cost effective, which allows top management to continue with redundancies and increase the number of offshored employees.

Costs of actual offshoring have been hidden as costs under other expenses on balance sheets or are being picked up by other projects with only local resources. When projects do come in late or over budget, they are marketed as being successful because of the need for handover periods.

Truly offshored resources are in fact cheaper than local contractors. However, for every local contractor replaced, it results in two to three offshored employees to pick up the work. Offshoring does have its time and place, but I do not feel it should be for the entire IT function.

Name withheld

June 9, 2008 in Outsourcing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Government plan is a load of junk

What an immensely practical idea from a government clearly in command of a peerless knowledge economy (Government data plans put CIOs on alert, 26 May).

A typical small mail server produces just 2GB or so every week, nearly all of which is bounced spam and other rubbish. So that’s around 100GB per year of mail logs alone. Now, let’s say there are 100,000 mail servers running in the UK. That comes to something like 1.0 x 10^16 bytes per year, aka 10 petabytes.

I would imagine that all the other stuff we generate puts another nought or two on that, giving a nice exabyte of worthless junk. How would they like us to lose that when we send our comms data across?

Les Hatton

June 6, 2008 in Storage | Permalink | Comments (0)

Not much changes

To be honest, after 25 years, I despair of the whole industry at times (Why Redmond prevails, 26 May). Re-packaging and re-inventing the same old tired arguments at 10-year intervals.

As I write, my Windows XP machine is threatening to finally succumb to “cumulative patch fatigue” – a Microsoft expression – and give up the ghost, and I wonder whether the constant promises for new technology are as good as the statement: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Perhaps I should simply grow my hair long, sprout a beard and buy a Mac?

Simon Moores


June 6, 2008 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mobile security fears are unfounded

Howard Schmidt is quoted as saying that he doesn’t know if industry is putting much focus on the security of mobile devices (Hackers to concentrate on moving targets, 19 May). I would like to reassure Schmidt that many of the leading corporate and government users of mobile devices are doing just that.

As a specialist security testing company, we have been engaged by a number of major clients to test the security of mobile devices and the bespoke applications that run on them. The functionality and storage capacity of mobile devices is ever increasing, and businesses rightly want to gain the benefits from using these devices. However, like all IT systems, they need to have adequate security mechanisms in place to protect the information that they store and process.

Neil O’Connor, Activity

June 6, 2008 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

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