Invotec hires new sales guy

John Fitzpatrick HeadshotInvotec Group has announced that it has appointed a new sales account manager.

The European manufacturer of time critical, high technology PCBs has said John Fitzpatrick will join its payroll and will be responsible for the South East region.

John apparently has over 25 years’ experience working with OEMs and CEMs as well as  an in-depth understanding of customer requirements, from component to complete system level, across a range of market sectors, including automotive, aerospace, defence, security, rail and electronic manufacturing.

As he is based in West Sussex, John is also said to have an extensive local knowledge of the South East area.

Matt Bowman, Invotec Group Sales Director, said John had just the kind of knowledge and experience that the company was looking for to “strengthen” its sales and account management function.

Aston rolls out CC100 Speedster concept

aston-cc100-front-330pxAston Martin has cooked up an interesting but rather unusal speedster concept, designed with Aston’s racetrack heritage in mind. Aston tapped the design of its legendary DBR1 race car to come up with the CC100 Speedster, but although it has some ancient race track chromosomes, it features down to earth engineering under the bonnet.

The concept relies on off-the-shelf components found in Aston’s current lineup, including the AM11 6.0 litre V12 and six-speed sequential gearbox. It seems that Aston reckoned the bellow of a proper V12 is a bit more important than fuel economy, and in such a car it most definitely is.

aston-cc100-dbr1

Although it was designed to pay homage to the DBR1 and mark Aston’s 100th anniversary, the CC100 has almost nothing to do with the 20th century. The interior and exterior are build almost entirely from fibre carbon, which means it is a featherweight, although Aston is not saying what it actually weighs.

aston-cc100-int

Measuring just 4.5 meters long, the concept is a bit smaller than most Astons, although it shares some of its proportions with the DB9 and Vantage. However, the end result is quite different and although there is no denying that it looks spectacular, it also looks like they took it a step too far. It is over the top, but then again it is just a concept and even Aston has a right to go wild on its birthday.

It does not look like anything you are likely to see on your commute, as it’s never going into production, but it might be a sign of things to come in Gaydon’s upcoming road-going models.

 

 

 

Fresh claims of Google tax evasion flourish

Google the OgleCompanies have once again come under the scrutiny of the tax man with claims that some are using the lower 12.5 percent corporate tax Ireland has to offer to dodge paying large amounts to HMRC.

Over the weekend, Google was hit by fresh claims of dodging tax after an ex employee grassed it up to the media, while UK retailer Marks and Spencer is also facing claims of tax evasion over its online sales.

Google whistleblower Barney Jones worked for the company for four years, ending his time in 2006. He claims he has 100,000 emails that expose an “immoral” tax avoidance scheme used by his former employer.

According to Jones, Google managed to “pull the wool” over HMRC by diverting British profits through Ireland to a Bermuda tax haven, following claims that the company had only paid £7.3 million in corporation tax last year despite having a UK turnover of £3 billion.

He told The Sunday Times that he won contracts with major companies to buy advertising space in the UK but the deals were “closed” by staff in Ireland in a “smokescreen” scheme.

Peter Barron, Google director, external relations said in a statement: “As we said in front of the Public Accounts Committee, it is difficult to respond fully to documents we have not seen. These questions relate to Google’s business in the UK going back a decade or more and don’t change the fact that Google pays the corporate tax due on its UK activities and complies fully with UK law.”

Marks and Spencer is also going to be investigated. Over the weekend reports emerged that the squeaky clean family brand had turned to Ireland to avoid tax, with accusations that goods shipped to Europe from the UK were invoiced to an Irish subsidiary at lower rate.

According to The Guardian, which has seen an internal M&S document, the company’s structure saw it shipping goods from the UK, but using an Irish transaction to Marks & Spencer (Ireland) Limited.

Marks & Spencer  of course, refuted the claims – saying Ireland was used to host the website as it was the largest international market for M&S, and therefore the logical host for the EU site.

Rich people prefer online shopping

jewelsAlthough there are thousands of penny pinching price comparison sites out there, it seems online shopping is pretty big among affluent consumers who really don’t need to save at all. According to  research released by the Shullman Research Centre, the rich love to do their shopping online. Apparently they don’t want to mix with their serfs, for whatever reason.

The survey found that the vast majority of affluent consumers tend to research products online and make the purchase from an online device. Most of them still rely on desktops, at 64 percent, while tablets and smartphones are used by 18 and five percent respectively.

“I do not think luxury marketers are totally aware that [consumers] are using online for research and are getting comfortable buying that way,” said Bob Shullman, founder and CEO of the Shullman Research Center. He added that consumers enjoy convenience and that is exactly what online shopping is supposed to deliver.

To some extent it sounds a bit counter intuitive, as one would expect people to actually touch and feel upmarket merchandise before reaching for their credit card, but in reality just 10 percent of affluent consumers said they prefer researching in-store as opposed to online. Furthermore, 62 percent said they are comfortable using online services to buy stuff, while just 33 percent said they felt comfortable buying in person at a brick and mortar store.

However, rich people don’t shy away from mass marketed products, either. The survey found that 73 percent of them made purchases on Amazon in the past year, which means Amazon is the top service for rich folk and proles alike.

IT geeks safe as jobs rise

Jobcentre-plus-IT job vacancies are on the rise.

According to he latest data from CWJobs.co.uk, the sector looks set to be on track to rise back to pre-recession levels.

The company cited first quarter data, which showed that the volume of permanent vacancies had risen for the fourth year in a row. It also showed that  IT jobs were  only 15 percent below where they were, pre-recession, in the first quarter of 2008, compared to 41 percent just three years ago.

As Britain’s economic outlook finally shows signs of stabilising, the company added it was likely that businesses were taking on additional staff as they anticipate expanding, or try to trigger growth.

Alongside the industry’s positive performance, maintaining steady growth is SQL, which has remained the most in demand skill over the last five years. In the last year however, new data shows that demand for C# has overtaken C as a desired skill for employees, as employers look beyond the older programming language.

As a continued result of business outsourcing functions and consumer technology development, software houses and consultancies lead the way in industry growth with vacancy rises of over 1.4 percent last year.

Other sectors are also showing signs of steady growth, such as finance and retail, have increased 0.7 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.

The only area showing less sign of prosperity is the public sector, as permanent roles decreased 0.4 percent.

blur Group hires two new sales geezers

DelThe blur Group has announced two new sales appointments, aimed at helping to drive its business.

The technology company has made Dan Murphy and Sat Ramewal (not pictured) as Head of Sales for the US and EMEA respectively.

The pair, who will report to Gerry Gross, Global Head of Sales are said to come to the company boasting a “impressive pedigrees in the IT and Communications Industry” with over 20 years collective experience in senior management positions.

Sat was most recently Commercial Director at D&B responsible for a complete turnaround of a declining business unit into one of double digit growth following senior business development roles at Colt and KPNQwest, while Dan, originally from the UK, was most recently Sales Director at Enable Labs in New York.

Commenting on the appointments, Philip Letts, blur Group CEO, said “Both Sat and Dan come to blur with experience of platform sales and developing large customers and sales teams.

“After launching 3.0 in April we’re now well on the way to establishing the sales teams who can ensure enterprise adoption and further scale blur’s rapid growth. “

April brings ray of sunshine to high street

highstreet South endApril brought a ray of sunshine to the high street with footfall improving.

According to the BRC, high streets reported a rise of 3.4 percent, the strongest performance since December 2011, followed by out-of-town, which grew by 0.3 percent.

However the better weather didn’t warm everyone with footfall in shopping centres falling by  three percent in April, its worst performance since January 2013.

And empty stores remained a problem with the national town centre vacancy rate in the UK standing at 11.9 in April, up from 10.9 percent in January 2013 and marking the highest rate since the BRC survey began in July 2011.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said it was a “major concern” that the vacancy rate has reached a record high, driven by increases in almost every part of the UK, with some regions like the South West seeing a significant leap in empty shop numbers.

She added that with high streets topping the agenda for many there was a real opportunity “to seize the moment and stem the tide of further closures”.

“Comparatively small steps to tackle deep-rooted issues such as parking, accessibility and rising business costs could make a huge difference to the health of town centres,” she added.

Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, added the improved weather made a “significant difference” to footfall performance across the UK in April, with an improvement from -5.2 percent year-on-year in March to 1.0 percent in April.

IDC notes strong storage growth

seagate-hddIDC’s worldwide storage tracker has noted that the personal and entry level storage market has shot up 73.4 percent year on year – reaching 20.2 million units shipped in Q1 2013, with shipment value growing 54.1 percent at $1.8 billion.

In the first quarter, there was both strong shipment and revenue growth. The market has finally recovered from the floods in Thailand several years ago which led to a worldwide shortage in hard disks. Thanks to cheaper average selling prices, better products and more user awareness about the need for storage and back up, the market is picking up nicely.

Personal storage makes up 99.1 percent of shipped PELS units and 89.8 percent of values for the quarter. Dual bay product shipments were up 43.6 percent year on year, but single bay devices are overwhelmingly still the most popular choice at 96.8 percent of all units shipped. Higher bay devices saw growth at 38.2 percent year on year.

3.5″ devices lost some market share to the 2.5″ form factor, declining 2.6 percentage points for the year. 3.5″ and 2.5″ devices did both see shipments increase, at 56 and 79.7 percent respectively.

Consumers are flocking to higher capacity storage, generally. 2TB devices made up 49.9 percent of the 3.5″ personal storage market, while 1TB devices held 50.6 percent market share for 2.5″ devices. 4TB devices had the most market share in the entry level segment at 28.3 percent of units shipped.

USB is still the dominant interface, with an increase of 76.4 percent units shipped. Ethernet grew 68.8 percent. Thunderbolt grew plenty at 5102.7 percent – but with a tiny base.

 

Market struggle leads to Dell on Earth

Michael DellDell’s quarterly net profit has slipped 79 percent as the company endures the struggle to see who will carve up the majority share and in which direction it will be taken.

That sounds rather dramatic, but in reality the company is still worth a heap. Total revenues for fiscal Q1 2014 were $14.1 billion.

In a prepared statement, Dell CFO Brian Gladden said the company had made progress in building its enterprise offerings and is “confident in our strategy to be the leading provider of end-to-end scalable solutions”. Additionally, Gladden said the company has been taking actions to improve Dell’s competitive position. “We’ll also continue to make important investments to support our strategy and drive long-term profitability” – more shopping?

Enterprise Solutions Group had revenues of $3.1 billion, a ten percent increase on the previous quarter, with a 71 percent boost in operating income at $136 million. Dell Services enjoyed two percent growth to $2.1 billion and an 11 percent increase in revenues from infrastructure, cloud and security services. Support and deployment also grew two percent, but applications and business process services dropped 15 percent. Operating income grew 10 percent to reach $370 million.

Dell software saw an operating loss on the back of $295 million in revenues. However, Dell believes this segment is “on track to be accretive” to earnings for Q1 fiscal 2015. End user computing declined nine percent, with revenues at $8.9 billion for the quarter. Desktop and thin client revenues dropped two percent, mobility declined 16 percent, and software from third parties and peripherals declined six percent.

PC sales plunged nine percent but in fairness, this is expected. The entire world is in a slump and, although Dell offers some kit at the low end of the market, no one’s really buying.

However, Dell did point out that new technologies revenues as well as services and software gained a 12 percent boost, to reach $5.5 billion.

Tin-box enterprise supremo and founder Michael Dell really wants to gain a majority share in the company so he can take it off the public market and shift it in a new direction – some whispers suggest the way of IBM, discarding a burdensome consumer unit and focusing fully on enterprise, services and related businesses. Michael Dell’s proposed buy-out, along with Silver Lake, is just short of $25 billion.

Shareholders Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management are trying to wrangle the company back from Mike and Silver Lake’s grip, insisting that the valuation is peanuts and investors should get much more for their buck. They are making their own proposals for the company, in a power struggle which has been ongoing for months.

Dell did not issue a company outlook, citing the announcement for a merger agreement to take Dell private as the reason.

 

Google – the egregious corporation

Google the OgleDoes being the Jack of all Trades and the master of none apply to Google? I fear so. Having oodles of cash has tempted Google into all manner of strange ventures but it’s pretty clear that some of its wacky ideas are way off kilter.

Take the supply chain, for example, and Google’s venture into being a hardware company. The evidence is that it simply doesn’t have a clue about the very complicated infrastructure in Asia – the original design manufacturers (ODMs) need to be cultivated and have learned from the School of Hard Knocks that most of the trouble in the world come from vendors that make microprocessors and operating systems.

To be fair to Google, it has been consistent. It has, like Amazon, destroyed more industries than it’s created.  Bookshops. What are they?  Books? Google will take care of that problem, thank you very much. Google has also undermined the publishing and the advertising industries. You might say that is a good thing, but ask any large publisher what they think of Google and you will hear a torrent of bad language that would make a navvie quake.

Then there’s news. Google News is one of the stupidest concepts on the planet and is well on its way to destroying journalism, with hacks everywhere not bothering to cultivate contacts but simply copying what other hacks have written. So much for investigative journalism – Google News has turned hackdom into a crazy carousel.

The Google search engine is, of course, bloody useful, but it encourages laziness too and the search results are tainted by Google adverts.

Google’s motto about doing no evil implies it is doing evil.  These mottoes invariably turn into their opposites – think of the League of Nations, think of the United Nations.  Any organization that uses the word harmony contains within itself the seed of chaos.  Catchlines are minetraps.  Google is a money making organization and altruism is no part of that.

Don’t let yourself be bullied by Google. Nor by Microsoft or Intel. Rant over.

Half of men prefer gaming to sex

gamer-sex survey seems to indicate that half of British men have rather strange priorities. VoucherCodesPro.co.uk polled 1,442 men and found that half of men in relationships would rather play a new computer game than have sex with their partner. We feel the need to emphasise the “their partner” bit.

According to the survey, 49 percent of Brits would rather take the wraps off a new video game than take the lace off their significant others. 32 percent said they would rather make love not war, while 19 percent say it really depends on the game, which for some reason seems more demeaning and insulting that just saying no.

Gamers tend to be a rather picky lot, so it is not surprising that some games are more equal than others. GTA 5 tops the list, as 71 percent would choose it over sex. Football lovers are not far behind, as 67 percent would rather play out their Premiership fantasies in FIFA 14 than have sex. Elder Scrolls Online ranked third with 55, although we doubt that RPG fans have sexual partners. Well, at least real flesh and blood ones.

The survey also found that 30 percent of participants believe their partner wouldn’t expect them to make such a choice, but more surprisingly 18 percent said their partner wouldn’t be surprised. Which begs the question, how on earth are those 18 percent in relationships to begin with?

Dell says small is beautiful

Dell logoHardware company Dell has introduced two server products that  it claims are best of class.

It has introduced the Precision T1700 tower workstation which it is says is the smallest and lightest compared to the competition. The Intel based machines come with Nvidia or AMD graphics and has PCI x16 Gen 3 slots.  The T1700 SFF (small form factor) also has two front USB 3.0 ports.

In addition, Dell announced upgrades to its rack family – the Precision R6710 is suitable for datacenters.  It can support up to four single wide graphics card and can also support Nvidia Grid for virtualized graphics.

The R760 has 16DIMM slots, a 6GB/s LSI2308 SATA/SAS controller and uses dual Intel E5-2687W 160 watt eight core processors.

The R7610 workstation starts at $2,179, but Dell has still to price up the two T1700 workstations, available from June 4.

Gmail to let users attach cash to emails

google-ICAmong the flurry of announcements at the hours-long Google IO conference yesterday, there was one that threatened to step on Paypal’s turf – sending cash will soon be as simple as sending an email.

Provided you have a Google account set up for Google Wallet with your bank, at least in the US it is now possible to send cash for free, and all you have to do is click on a $ sign under attachments. You can link up credit or debit cards as well, which Google promises will charge low fees – a flat fee of 2.9 percent. Receiving money is free.

Users will be limited to sending $10,000 per day, or $50,000 for each five day period, which will be more than enough for most casual users. Google says sending money with your Google Wallet balance is always free and “usually instant”.

For now Google is rolling out the feature to all US Gmail users who are over 18, and earlier access will be available if friends have the feature and are actively using it.

Google also says it has purchase protection which “covers you 100 percent against eligible unauthorised payments”.

The service, if it picks up, could threaten to bite at Paypal’s ankles. It doesn’t take much searching online to find complaints about the latter, and casual users are likely to be particularly interested. For small trading, sending a protected payment via email is going to be quick and easy.

Still, there will be those turned off by such services. Having an account phished or simply compromising your own password potentially puts your cash at risk.

Oracle’s new G Cloud data centre is for Oracle

consultoracleOracle’s claims that it will be opening a data centre to support the UK government’s G Cloud service for the public sector are perfectly true, but appear to be designed as a boon to Oracle rather than the UK as a whole.

While G Cloud could, of course, always do with more power, an Oracle spokesperson confirmed to ChannelEye that the data centre will primarily be for existing or potential Oracle partners.

“Oracle will make Platform as a Service available to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs),” the spokesperson said. “Oracle’s PaaS provides Oracle Database and Java as a service, hence will be available to ISVs who run on this Oracle platform”.

“These ISVs will likely be existing Oracle partners, but we of course welcome new partners to join the Oracle Partner Network,” the spokesperson added. “The ISVs themselves need to have their cloud services accepted onto the CloudStore catalogue”.

Although presented as a helpful boost to the British economy, the plan appears to be fully Oracle’s with a light dab of spin.

“This investment is funded solely by Oracle,” the spokesperson said, “justified through our internal business case criteria and assessment of market opportunity, and is being made in advance of any contracts or orders from government”.

WD ships first 5mm 2.5-inch drives

wd-ultraslimWestern Digital has started shipping the world’s first ultraslim 2.5-inch drives, designed specifically to meet the needs of Ultrabook vendors and makers of all things thin.

Measuring just 5mm at the waistline, WD’s new drives should enable even thinner devices, but as an added benefit they are quieter and more efficient than 7mm and 9.5mm drives. The new ultraslims also usher in a new era for WD, as they are the company’s first big foray into the hybrid drive market.

Seagate pioneered the hybrid drive market a couple of years ago with its Momentus XT series. It was only a matter of time before Western Digital entered the market and earlier this year they showed off their first SSHD designs. They were followed up by 5mm slim WD Black SSHD products. Mechanical 5mm drives will be marketed under the WD Blue brand. 

“With the launch of our new WD Blue 5 mm ultra slim hard drives and our WD Black SSHD products, currently shipping to OEMs, WD is delivering to our customers a variety of solutions that maximize storage capacity and volumetric efficiency, as well as performance and system responsiveness, for consumers,” said Matt Rutledge, vice president of WD’s client computing business unit. “Our engineering team took a clean-sheet approach with 5 mm to deliver an ultra-thin hard drive that enables a world of possibilities and applications for mobile computing and beyond.”

Although SSDs are slowly emerging as the preferred choice for Ultrabooks and high performance notebooks, the medium range and low end are still dominated by traditional hard drives, with a few proprietary hybrid solutions here and there, usually found in budget ultrathins powered by AMD low voltage chips and a few cheap Intels. 

Hybrid drives offer substantial performance gains over traditional HDDs, at the fraction of the cost of proper SSDs. This is what is starting to make them increasingly appealing for system integrators and end-consumers alike.

Although Western Digital’s first 5mm are shipping to disties and OEMs as we speak, they are still available in a single capacity, 500GB. The mechanical WD Blue drive is priced at $89, but WD did not release the price of the WD Black hybrid unit.

The downside? WD’s ultraslims feature a new proprietary connector, as the standard SATA and DC plugs are simply too big for 5mm drives.