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We're not lazy, just busy reading (and emailing) The Reg

Procrastinate this...

Letters Oh, what? Letters time is it? Already? Sorry...I was in the middle of trying to beat my record on Minesweeper...

Anyway, it seems that I am not alone - Brits apparently lead the world at desk skiving, that is, trying to beat personal records at Minesweeper when we should be, for e.g. going through the Register postbag.

Here's what you had to say about this shocking news:

I'm staggered that the figure is so low! Here's what really happens - based on scientific observations you understand :-)

Make sure the first thing you do is log in (so timestamp is logged); then take your time making a beverage and chat to colleagues whilst complaining about the "really slow" kettle. Wander back to your desk to peruse your email and surf your favourite sites. Answer a few emails to friends. Ignore emails from people you don't like.

Mid-morning, launch your apps you need for work and then it's snack time. Tough choice: sandwich lady or go out... Either way you will need a drink. Banter with colleagues too.

At some point you will have to simulate real work - especially when faced with bosses or irritating project managers. However, there's always time to type a witty response to an office chain email or chuckle at jokes doing the round.

Ah, time for a meeting. Another drink and time to lightly snooze. Make sure that you're the first to grab the comfy chair or sofa. Keep quiet during the meeting unless someone realises that you're there. If caught, just repeat what someone else said or mutter vague promises that you have no intention of keeping.

Sigh. Meeting over. Time to round up gang for lunch... Buy sandwiches and bring back to desk. Now, which game do we play? Or would we rather IM or surf? Decisions, decisions.

Hours to go until home... Might as well do some work. Make frequent cups of tea/coffee or express a desire for a cold drink - only available at the newsagents of course. Waste more time (and appear to be generous) by asking everyone if they would like a drink. Secretly hope they will say 'no'.

Back to desk. Tap a few lines and then delete. Press and hold a key and watch lines and lines magically appear. Delete block when bored. Try a few different key combinations for 'fun'.

When really bored, make up some numbers for your timesheet. When totally brain-dead, look at the project plan.

An hour to go... Start winding down. Get your bag ready but don't close it. Spend crucial minutes arranging your bag to look as if it's been just dumped hastily.

Time for a wander. Make sure pad is in hand - everyone else thinks you're either going to or coming from a meeting. Be nosy around colleagues.

Waste more time by giving your considered opinion on work questions your colleagues may pose. Who knows, you might even be right! Gratefully accept an invitation for a smoking break, whether or not you smoke.

Countdown to home time. Start looking busy and re-check your bag. Make sure the last thing you do is log off. Wait for someone else to leave first and hastily follow. Pretend you have somewhere to go urgently. Slow your pace after leaving the office.

Relax, another day down.


Could it be that this heinous crime, the very theft of time thank you very much, is a sign of the fact that all this stressing and hunting for deadlines and high blood pressures, is actually not what people want out of life?

Could it be that we don't actually need the third tv but would rather enjoy some time off with our pals? The macho hunt for fame and riches, which passes by most people anyway and carries a high price tag in "intangible costs" to those who do manage to win the race, is that actually the kind of society that we need? When did the concept of stealing time enter the mind of that vermin creature called manager, which shows exactly the most valuable item every person has. How about all the uncompensated hours IT-workers have given to their employers over the years? How about all the lies top management has used to dupe the employees into lining the boss's pockets even more? How about all the lives lost through unhealthy and dangerous working conditions, for which no compensation was ever awarded to the victims? Do we ever hear the word theft used in that context, or is the argument invalid if you're a mere wage slave?



And what does the company call it when you're present more than 8 hours a day? Why didn't the survey try to correlate the time lost to personal productivity to the time gained from dishonest busisness practices (unpaid overtime)?

Wonkey survey combined with guilt-inspiring terminology ... make a good Reg article :) Keep it up and have on on me :) (Did none of those skyiving b***ards admit to doing double time in the pub!?)


I resent being called a skiver, the tasks you mention in your article are a necessary part of my job which is officially titled VMS Systems Administrator. Now given that this is the dog's bollocks of OSes, virtually never fails and generally has above average intelligent users who can solve their own problems then it is my duty to research what everybody else is up to, sometimes even via your very own services.

I reckon about once a month I might have to call HP to get a hardware bod to come and replace a failed component but that's hardly the fault of VMS. Last time it wasn't even the hardwares fault, an airco unit above the machine failed, all the ice on it melted and drowned the cpus.

Name withheld just in case some vengeful sub-human linux admin is pissed off with having too much work and too many dorky geeks still in nappies trying to tell him that they know a better way to do his job. The linux users should be more patient, once they are out of nappies they will be admins themselves.

"The issue here is that 'desk skiving' could be perceived as theft – theft of time – and could potentially impact a company’s productivity if taken to extremes."

So, not at all like the company's theft of the employees' time by making them stay late for pointless tasks that could have been done prior to 5.30 if people in management had any organisational skills? I think I remember seeing figures on the number of extra unpaid hours the average employee works, and I've got a feeling this more than balances out against the "theft" of the employers' time, so they can quit their whinging.


"while a hard core of eight per cent admit that they are texting, doing personal emails or surfing the web for interesting stories on skiving British workers for an astounding 12 weeks per annum"

12 weeks, is that all? I reckon I spend less than 15 minutes a day doing actual work, and that's on the days I do some work, which isn't many let me assure you.

Ofcourse you've missed playing Solitaire, online shooters and Football Manager off that list - which are all essential work-shy activities.

Unfortunately I can do little to dispel the notion that this is mostly a British pass time, as although I live and work in the US, I am in fact British..

Andy - name not withheld, because I don't really care that much, I'm too busy writing replies to web stories to worry about my boss finding out that I don't really do any work.

The things boffins will come up with, eh? Fuel cells for notebook computers. Marvellous. Except, as one particularly sharp-thinking reader points out, what happens when you want to get on a plane?

I'm at best "amused" by the notion of fuel-cell powered laptops. One big reason to have a laptop is for travel, but at least in the US, travel involves airplanes, and the TSA. The amount of "shrinkage" from checked baggage pretty much mandates carryon for anything valuable, but even cigarette lighters will be banned from the cabin by the time any fuel-cell laptop hits the market.

Perhaps the boffins should concentrate on an ethanol-water fuel-cell, into which one can pour a tiny bottle of in-flight Bacardi 151 to substitute for the confiscated fuel.


More on one of your favourite subjects: mandatory DRM:

Two little gripes with your editorialising.

1) "consumers seem keener on lower prices than compatibility"

How much of that is because the market is very small and donimated by one DRM format (Apple's iTunes)? Also, if there were interoperability, would the size of the cake be bigger?

2) "Essentially, opponents argue that it should be for the market to decide which services - and thus which DRM systems - dominate"

However, DRM and the copyright/patent scheme make a monopoly. A monopoly is not a free market. Therefore the market cannot decide.

Instead of "which do we like" it is "which do we hate least". There is also no room for "no DRM", which in a free market is a valid option. If the players want government out of the way, then get rid of the government regulation of copyrights (IMO, either you are protected by copyright or you can have DRM, but both is double-dipping).



Le Gasp!

It's important to the powers that be that a piece of music bought for one platform can be played on another?

Do they actually know the music makers are actively trying to make this difficult? That a CD you've bought is not guarenteed to play on your car CD player, and that you can only copy it to a certain number of platforms due to the DRM.


Next up, a bunch of white-coated types have proposed using airships to deliver line-of-sight, wireless broadband, as cheaper alternatives to comms satellites:

It's the Proporietary Lifting Gas technology that makes me wonder.

What is there about hydrogen, helium. and the other light-than-air gases which is protectable by patents or trademarks? The Zeppelin company, amongst others, pretty well wrote the book on the subject more than half a century ago.

My guess is, they're able to make better gasbags. Hydrogen and helium are hard to keep from percolating through the gasbag and being lost, and that would be the limiting factor on the life of an aerostat.

But the idea of some new miracle gas, that's straight out of Thrilling Air Wonder Stories. Or was one of the reporters a certain Polly Perkins?


The Stratellite looks useful but is going to run into some interesting radio problems. The issue will be the same as satellite comms - line of sight.

Will it work indoors? Will it work in a built up area? For a rural area where someone puts a small aerial on the outside of the house it should work fine. I note that all the techies involved are on the aeronautical, not the radio side!


Earth stations on the ground, ay? Obviously they're trying to avoid untested technology like sky-mounted earth stations or ocean stations a hundred miles inland.


Louis, nobody likes a smartarse...

"proprietary lifting gas technology". OK, who let someone patent Archimedes' Principle?


None of you were massively keen on the idea of remotely triggered landmines. Can't say we blame you:

... Deploy unarmed munitions into enemy territory. Enemy finds and digs up unarmed munition, strips electronics and turns it into an improvised roadside bomb for free. Gosh, usually "poorly-funded indigenous resistance groups" have to wait until a war is over to recover munitions.

... great. :-(


Does this mean any Iraqi caught playing Minesweeper be suspected of being a terorrist?


No, but if he is in England, he will be assumed to be stealing time from his employer. See above.

I'd be rather concerned about "drive by mining" instead of "drive by shooting". Do those mines also come with the typical US warning stickers in the size of a cinema screen? Warning: Do not use in areas where your enemy has also a Laptop with WiFi connection. Could be a real heaven for a teenage suicide hacker. Warning: This explosive device may contain explosives.

Sorry but such rubbish can only come from the americans.


Intel went to great lengths to get press coverage this week, even sending two, probably slightly chilly, employees to the North Pole. We thought Santa and his elves would be grateful, and would set about maintaining an e-commerce system with CRM software to maintain "naughty" and "nice" lists. But it seems that the arctic demand for Wi-Fi is actually more widespread

This is a great story, but it is missing some important details... Where exactly is this? Do you have lattitude/longitude? I would hate to have to roam around the north pole looking for the wi-fi signal. War snowmobiling isn't as fun as it sounds. War dog sledding is even trickier. Cheers!

Neil in Canada

I know roaming is popular but wiring an ice floe is over the top. Bet you that the next Mars robot is gonna have a hotspot bundled in too, just in case...


And on that note, we leave you. Enjoy your weekend. ®

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