Stephen Milton's Blog

Issues that I find interesting

Stephen Milton's Blog

Exclusive: universal credit linked to higher suicide risk, says study

Exclusive: universal credit linked to higher suicide risk, says study

If it weren’t for the Brexit train wreck, the incompetent roll out of Universal credit which is costing lives, would be the story of the day. But now it is relegated to the back pages.

Draft Brexit Agreement

Now that the agreement has been finally published we all have the chance to form our own opinion as to its quality.

My preliminary view is that this deal is worse than staying in the EU, but then I am an ardent ‘Remainer‘ and I have seen no evidence that gives any grounds for thinking that my original assessment was wrong.

If you think the main drive for Brexit was protecting our boarders from foreigners coming to this country – then this deal delivers.

If you think that Brexit was about regaining control and national sovereignty, then you are missing the point of the global world in which we now live. The only question is ‘with whom are we going to share our sovereignty?’ Just ask yourself what control we have over our exchange rate in this world of instant trading – if you remember the ‘run on the Pound’ and the endless problems faced by a lone £ on its own, then you know that control is an illusion.

You can find copies of the full agreement here

Sometime science developments are so amazing that all you can do is laugh

It has been suggested that at the heart of humour and what makes us laugh, is the dissonance that sometimes arises between how we think the world works, and the actual practice.

Today I was walking along the sea front enjoying the unseasonably lovely weather and listening to a Pod Caste celebrating the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

The programme was explaining how we can now make atomic clocks of unprecedented accuracy by using lasers to cool the essential components to just a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. First you have to take on board the whole concept of using a laser to cool things down (one Nobel prize), then you have to think that a billionth of a degree above absolute zero makes it the coldest thing in the universe – even in deepest space the residual temperature from the big bang is 2 or 3 degrees above absolute zero. The assault on my expectations started to make me smile.

They then went on to explain that this was not some theoretical idea, it had actually been made and the clock can now record time to (I think) 10–15 seconds (that is 1/1,000,000,000,000,000 of a sec or an accuracy of 1 second in 31 million years).  Which you might think is amazing but of limited use!

But there is a strange effect predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of relativity. He predicted that a clock in orbit round earth  would tick at a different rate of an identical clock on the surface of the earth.  A hundred years ago this was impossible to measure which is why so many people doubted Einstein’s theories which were so contrary to ‘common sense’.

Now we have Satellite Navigation that depend on  satellites in just such an orbit and if they did not compensate for this Relativistic effect accurately, we might very well find ourselves driving the wrong way up a one-way street.  The function  of these SatNav satellites is dependant on the accuracy of their clocks which now get updated by these new super accurate clocks on Earth to increase their accuracy even further.

Just to add icing on the cake; these clocks are now so accurate that if you lift them just 5 meters you can ‘see’ the Relativistic  change in the rate of time passing, predicted by Einstein, reducing this scientific controversy of a very few years ago, to the level of established fact.

I know this isn’t a joke, but I find myself laughing out loud at the absurdity of such a miraculous achievement.

It is also a tribute to the stunning productivity of the scientific method described by Richard Feynman as:

make a guess devise an experiment to test an implication of the guess if the evidence of the experiment shows the guess to be wrong. Make another guess.

UK Health care in the run up to the 2015 election

1. Our expenditure on Health is 9.2% of GDP.
The USA spends 17.9% of its GDP for a health outcome that is not appreciably better (though substantially less equal).

2. In the future we will be able to do more to intervene against the depredations of ill health and old age, so we will inevitably want to spend a greater proportion of our GDP on staying healthy. After all, can you think of a better way of spending money than on being healthy?

3. Politicians need to recognise that the focus should be on good Operational Management of this massive enterprise. Unfortunately both labour and Conservatives have listened too well to their city advisors whose solution to all problems is a top down meddling. Mergers of companies, break up of companies are always being recommended, despite all the evidence that they both inevitably erode shareholder value. We only have to look at the introduction of competition to other natural monopolies like energy or transport; the consumer has not gained – in fact we now have to dedicated lots of time every year to making sure that we are not disadvantaged by their completely legal, but totally immoral business practices.
The fact that these advisors and bankers make large fees from their role in these games of musical chairs, obviously taints their advice.

Hoping that the introduction of a ‘competitive market’ within the Health service, will somehow magically solve the problems that are all too evident, is nonsense. It cannot deliver us from the necessity of doing the hard work to improve efficient Operations Management.
Also, the idea that GPs with years of training in medicine could suddenly be transformed into a managerial elite for the health service, or that it is even a sensible use of their valuable time, seems utterly cock eyed.

4. The concept that we take ‘health’ out of politics has a superficial appeal. But if politics is not about how we spend £1 out of every £10 and an issue that will affect every citizen in the country, it would be a tragic loss of democratic relevance.

Migrate your Small Business Server to the cloud

Looking at the Microsoft offerings for replacing the Small Business Server now that they are stopping support. If you haven’t done it already, the following summary of how to migrate to their new on cloud service may be helpful.

Compare the various options at

Microsoft Mid Sized Business Plan 365

Let’s make some basic assumptions:

  • You are using old versions of the Microsoft Office suite of software, and therefore need to include the cost of an upgrade in the overall package.
  • You are used to having a corporate email service such as Exchange server and all staff use Outlook email clients.
  • You have a reasonable access to the Internet (24Mbps or above) and while it is pretty reliable, you will still want everybody to be able to work even if it goes down.
  • Keeping a local copy of everything is of great importance to you.
  • You haven’t used Sharepoint, but it looks like it could be a really usefully collaboration tool.

Cost of Microsoft Licenses

Then probably the service you need to get from Microsoft will be their Office 365 Midsized Business account which costs £9.80 / user / year , totalling £117.60 /user / year

What is included

It is an annual contract for

  • The latest version of the full Microsoft Office suite of products which run on the user’s PC or laptop
    • Word
    • Excell
    • PowerPoint
    • Notes
    • Publisher
    • Access
    • Outlook
    • Lyncs (for desk top sharing and VOIP calls)
    • InfoPath
  • Exchange server on the cloud
  • SharePoint on the cloud for up to 300 users and 10,000 external users.
  • Anti virus procedures as standard (though you still need it on your local machines)
  • Sky Drive Pro

Migration Issues and Admin support

It is no small matter to migrate your entire system without interruption of service, and it will require careful planning.

Local file server

Because you would need to be able to operate off line if the Internet goes down (and because you do not want to become permanently dependent on Microsoft), you would maintain a local file server that is synched with the cloud copies of your documents.  This can be done with ‘Sky Drive Pro’ as long as the file server meets certain requirements.

Exchange server

You will want to migrate all your existing settings from you existing exchange server, to the new cloud version. This will include all your contacts, calendar settings, archiving, mobile devices etc.


Sharepoint is a very powerful new tool and can really change the way an organization operates (especially if you have a lot of off-site members of the team). It makes it very easy to collaborate on shared documents, chat over Lycos (like Skype), run an intranet to capture data and experience and many other opportunities that will only become apparent once you get started.

Ask us for more information

When you set up an Office 365 account somebody has to be an administrator and you can set them up as a delegated admin – in other words you do not need to buy a license for the admin as a user.

If you need any additional information I suggest you have a word with Geoff on 0775 1239292 or email and we will be happy to talk to you.

Hastings business developments

The Hastings and Bexhill area is set to continue the last decade of development with another major step forward. Within the next few years over 42 acres of land able to support 500,000 sq ft of new business premises will make this one of the largest concentrations of employment space available anywhere in the region.

Note the Proposed Development Areas marked out in grey.  If you are a business with growth plans, this is a great opportunity. For more details go to

Data Feed opens new markets for INEA

INEA presented a new data feed that enables estate agents to add high levels of functionality to their websites at very low cost.

The Independent Network of Estate Agents yesterday launched an XML data feed that supplies a WordPress plug in with all the details of the properties the agent has registered with INEA (ie both their own and any shares). For the first time this means that an Agent’s website can easily be kept up to date with the ‘current’ details of any commissions available.

Managing data feeds between websites is a great way of keeping data current.

Vote yes for AV on the 5th May

At the last election I was fairly ambivalent as to which party I supported, which is unusual for me.  But I was pretty certain that I did not want the Conservatives to win!

  • I was sure that the Osborne form of sado-masochistic economic policy in which we bow to the rich and famous in the naive belief that what is good for them will also be good for the rest of us, was straight wrong.
  • I was sure that the extreme right wing hiding in the bushes under the Cameron PR veneer of a rehabilitated ‘Conservative brand’, were a real and present danger.
  • In fact almost every  one of their policies from schools to immigration, and from banks to Europe rang alarm bells…

The trouble was that I didn’t know how to vote against the Conservatives in my own constituency because the anti conservative vote was evenly split, and the inevitable then happened.  The Conservatives won with a minority of the vote because the anti-conservative vote was split.  Clearly AV would have solved my dilemma…….. but it becomes even more interesting if you follow through the logic.

Under an AV system all parties would understand that choosing policies that alienate large numbers of voters would not be a successful strategy, so it is very likely that extremists within all parties will loose strength. And I would maintain that anything that strengthens the middle ground of politics against the extremist fringes, is very likely to be good for he country.

Win 7 libraries

There is a quite useful new feature in Window 7 called Libraries.  In essence it is a search service

Lets assume there are customer folders on the network that you go to regularly, you can set up a new Library for ‘Customers’ and then link to the various customer folders that you use most often.

In this example I have just listed 4 customer files.

How to use it

There are a couple of tricky issues in setting this up.

First you need to make sure that the Indexing service on the storage drive is running. Its a tick box on the drive properties.

The next one took a while to work out: if you want to have multiple locations in your library, open the Library and note the link where it says ‘Includes: 3 locations’ , when you click on the link it opens a dialogue box that enable you to add additional links.