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Happy Birthday, New CIS!

The New Construction Industry Scheme will be officially one year old in two weeks; on April 6th 2008. After a very shaky start with plenty of mass confusion, hysteria and technical glitches, have HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the construction industry finally gotten their systems “bedded down” for new CIS compliance or are there still problems?

Windows Vista SP1 ready now, come and get it!


Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is now available to the public. It can be downloaded either through Windows Update, or via a standalone installer. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is arguably the most hotly anticipated service release of any software product in history, and promises to make vast improvements in the reliability and performance of the operating system as well as making some changes to support modern and upcoming software and hardware standards.

Microsoft: Please allow Null values to be returned from strongly typed datasets!

Recently while working on an application created in Visual Studio 2005 (also applies to 2008) on the .NET 2.0 framework I noticed a strange error when running with live customer data. The error was, “Failed to enable constraints. One or more rows contain values violating non-null, unique, or foreign-key constraints”:

Dell XPS M1330 laptop review

imageAlthough I wasn’t unhappy with my three year old Toshiba M200, it was never going to be powerful enough to handle Windows Vista and still be snappy enough for the new Visual Studio 2008 from Microsoft. Despite a very heavy day to day workload, I don’t get the chance to get out now as often as I did in my days of contracting around the UK at client sites. However, as recent sales of the new Macbook air have shown, ultra-portable machines aren’t just bought by globe trotting road warriors. Simply put, ultra portables are lighter, thinner and being designed for portability – tending to favour a tighter form factor with robust construction over features. My Toshiba M200 had the usual Toshiba robustness and reliability, but didn’t have an internal optical drive or camera. Ultra portables are nearly always premium or luxury line models, with a higher price tag for the same performance point than their larger counterparts.

How to successfully prevent a CIS penalty

It’s astonishing that as an independent software vendor how many construction contractor companies prefer to contact us to ask for advice on the new Construction Industry Scheme. The hottest topic at the moment are the CIS penalties that a lot of businesses are receiving for non-compliance with the new scheme, it’s rules and it’s deadlines.

CIS penalties have been rolling for five months now, three of which we already have the statistics for. The numbers are terrifying, a total of 118,458 penalty notices were issued in a three month period from October to December. Assuming that these three months are representative, that’s a minimum of £47 million a year in fines, paid for by construction businesses like yours.


What a day! Super-car driving and Super-phone integration.

imageIt’s been a busy day today. Today, I was at the iT Showcase Live event at Mercedes-Benz World, Brooklands. It was fairly quiet for an exhibition, although the exhibitors didn’t give much away, Mercedes did – running rides of their AMG performance vehicles all day long. I managed to get a free pass and a spine-tingling face-breaking trip in a lovely new supercharged 500bhp CLS 63 AMG. When I finally got home, news was breaking that Apple had licensed the Activesync technology from Microsoft for use in their iPhone. This means a great deal for the IT industry, and I shall explain later. First however, the car..