Monthly Archive for February, 2007

Tackling drivers on the phone

BBC News asks, “Will stronger penalties for driving while using a mobile phone be enough of a deterrent?” This follows news that the government are introducing tougher penalties. Specifically, drivers can be fined up to £60 and have up to three penalty points put on their licensee. Previously the maximum penalty was just £30. (These are the penalties assuming the culprit chooses not to contest the charges in court. If they do, the fines are much stiffer.)

Personally I think the fine could be ratcheted up a bit more. Whether £60 or, say £250, it’s still a bit of a discount on the £1000 an offender would get if they wasted everyone’s time by contesting it in court. Nevertheless I’m not sure that stiffening the penalty is the most important aspect here.

The real problem with this offence is that it’s very difficult for the police to enforce. I see people all time talking away on their mobile phones whilst driving. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Many of us now have cameras (or camera phones) in our pockets when out and about and could record the necessary evidence (as pedestrians, of course!). I suggest that the police should offer an automatic reward (say £20) to everyone who sends in such photos (to include the license plate). That would improve enforcement somewhat. Increased fines could easily pay for the reward scheme.

Logica disposes of Aldiscon

LogicaCMG this week disposed its Telecoms Products division [Mobile Today]. It comprises more-or-less the business of the former Irish company, Aldiscon, which was acquired by Logica in 1997. Aldiscon was (and its products remain) the runaway market leader in the global market for mobile network SMS software.

I worked in Logica’s telecoms division (the core consulting one) at the time of the Aldiscon acquisition. I remember there was some genuine excitement at the time. Logica had recently broken into the FTSE 100, and many of my colleagues accepted management’s assertions that Aldiscon would enable Logica to sell a package of product, integration and consultancy to customers who were mobile operators. I’m sure there was some logic in this argument but I never really bought it. In my view a product portfolio compromised the firm’s impartiality as a independent systems integrator and consultancy. Even if impartiality is retained organisational focus is much harder to retain. This appears to have been borne about by the quote from the CEO (who was also CEO at the time of purchase):

LogicaCMG CEO Martin Read said: ‘… We have now secured an attractive sale price for the strengthened business. This divestment allows LogicaCMG to focus on its core strengths in IT and business services, using its industry and domain expertise and its strong business and technology insight to enable its customers to become more productive.’

Such a divestment would be considered ‘good practice’ for an organically grown non-core business. For an acquired non-core business it’s better to see it as a corrective U-turn.

In my view the company has lost some of its edge in recent years (although growth has continued by virtue of the buoyant IT market). I’m glad to see they’ve decided to sell the products business.

Arguably Logica still made a healthy profit on the Aldiscon sale: £265m against a purchase price of £51m. Nevertheless keener strategists ought to consider the opportunity cost of what Logica would have done with that money given the massive expansion that has happened since in it’s core IT services market.

Pocket PC auto-redialler

One of the features I miss from the SonyEricsson UIQ platform is the ability to auto-redial a busy number. (Very handy when you are trying to call the local council…)

Luckily yesterday I stumbled across Redial from pocketMax software. It actually goes one better than UIQ in that you can customise the redial functionality (delay period, number of rings and enable/disable). Best of all, it’s complete free!

Which US President am I?

It’s been a while since I last did one of these silly quizzes but here you go:

You Are Most Like Bill Clinton

No doubt, your legacy may be a little seedier than you’d like.
But even though you’ve done some questionable things, you’re still loved by almost all.

What Modern US President Are You Most Like?

Out of the post-war Presidents I must confess I probably would have gone for Bill…

Credit: You have Tim Roll-Pickering to blame for this one!

BTW the HTML that quiz generates is awful. It mis-uses the TABLE tag for presentation purposes [davepicks.com]. Tut tut… In the text above I’ve reformatted in strict XHTML. Use your browser to view the source, if you’re interested.