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  • Businesses with more than one office have the advantage that they're unlikely to lose the use of more than one premises at the same time – assuming of course that the locations are reasonably spread out. If you're going to have two locations in the same city, then put them at opposite ends and do what you can to ensure that their power provision comes from separate substations (or even providers) and that the telecoms services are disparately provided with resilient/redundant exchanges, trunks and cable paths. If you have offices in different towns then that's fine, but remember that having working premises is only half the battle – you need your key staff to be able to get there if distributed office operation is your business continuity strategy.I've already mentioned the trucks that appeared on the streets of London carrying generators to businesses that found themselves in the dark. What I haven't mentioned is that many of those generators will have been supplied under existing contracts to companies that had thought ahead about what they'd do in the event of a power cut. After all, although the London blaze was exceptionally spectacular, it's not all that uncommon to have a common or garden power cut, and so generator provision is part of many businesses' ongoing plans – as it was for the company I consulted for in North Yorkshire.

    If you can't guarantee to get the lights back on, then one answer for those who can afford it is to rent space in a dedicated business-continuity facility. These are typically just rooms full of desks and chairs in a location with services protected in the manner of a typical data centre – N+1 power, a low flood risk, high-grade fire protection and so on.Business continuity suites are generally a highly robust way to protect your ability to work, but they come at a price: first of all you have to pay rent on a premises that you'll use very seldom, and secondly you have to equip the premises to the required standard (and monitor it constantly, and keep the PC and phone software revisions upgraded along with the core systems that are in day-to-day use, and so on). The average business-continuity suite is generally big enough to support only a portion of the employee base in order to keep a skeleton service running – an area big enough to house everybody would be economically out of the question, unless high-level continuity of the majority of one's day-to-day operation is necessary.

    A much cheaper alternative is to adopt a formal business-continuity policy of having people work at home in times of duress. It's an increasingly popular choice these days because:It's not really much more expensive to give a user a company laptop than a company desktop, so users are inherently more mobile and able to work remotely With core applications in data centres, or alternatively in the cloud, it's pretty easy to provide access for users wherever they're located Security techniques such as two-factor authentication are so easy and cheap these days that the compliance and governance issues of remote working are gradually evaporating Internet connectivity to the average home is fast and excellent (I just measured mine at 32.49Mbit/s, which is pretty normal these days) and so the user experience of business apps can be identical at home and in the office Dratel's final argument for a retrial involved two government agents, Carl Force and Shaun Bridges, who worked on the Silk Road investigation but were later found to have pilfered millions of dollars in Bitcoins for their own gain in the process. Dratel claimed that had he known about these "Rogue Agents" during the trial, information gained from the investigation into their actions could have exonerated Ulbricht. Judge Forrest disagreed.

    "That the Rogue Agents may have exceeded the scope of their authority in the ... investigation does not, in any way, suggest that Ulbricht was not the Dread Pirate Roberts," the judge wrote, referring to the screen name used by the Silk Road site operator."There is no reasonable probability of a different outcome here: the circumstances of defendant's arrest, and the evidence found in his own possession at the time of the arrest, are in and of themselves overwhelming evidence of his guilt."During Ulbricht's trial, the jury heard that he was arrested in a public library in a quiet neighborhood in San Francisco, and that he had a laptop open at the time and was communicating with a Silk Road user while logged in as "Dread Pirate Roberts." The laptop also contained a wallet full of Bitcoins and a wealth of information pertaining to the site, including a detailed diary of Ulbricht's activities that was stored unencrypted.

    If anything, Judge Forrest wrote, materials gained from the investigation of Special Agent Force tend to suggest that Ulbricht was trying to pay law enforcement for information about the Silk Road investigation. Such evidence would have done Ulbricht no favors in trial, she added – a point she said she had earlier explained to Dratel in sealed documents.With Ulbricht's motion for a new trial denied, all that appears left for him is to await sentencing. At present, that's scheduled to take place on Friday, May 15. Not surprisingly, however, Dratel is pushing to have this hearing delayed, too.According to a court filing dated last week, the government plans to introduce new evidence at sentencing to the effect that six people allegedly died from overdoses of drugs that they purportedly bought on Silk Road. Dratel argues that he will need additional time to review this material and to compose his rebuttal.In addition, Dratel wrote, not only did the Ulbricht trial require more legwork than he originally expected, but the extra work has now delayed the case of other clients he is representing. Accordingly, he has asked that Ulbricht's sentencing hearing be delayed by a month, to either of the weeks of June 15 or June 22.

    Judge Forrest has ordered the government to provide its view on the matter no later than Tuesday, April 28. It’s not unusual for a football manager to bring in his own back-room team. Yet it is unusual in Whitehall. GDS was exceptional in permitting its executives to draw quite so heavily on personal connections and old associations to fill the top ranks. It became a problem with GDS staff, the report found.Of all the reasons the Art of Work report pinpointed for low morale and high turnover, this emerges as the clearest. GDS leaders were permitted to recruit who they wanted, and they recruited very narrowly into top positions. In turn, they excluded others from the decision-making.The key personnel running GDS – chief executive Mike Bracken and deputy director Tom Loosemore – were “anointed” to lead the venture by Martha Lane-Fox, insiders say. Bracken had helped set up the NGO MySociety, where Loosemore was a director and treasurer. They also collaborated on TheyWorkForYou, and many of those volunteers would be appointed to senior positions at GDS. “Permanent staff progression was a problem if you were not in the Bracken/Loosemore fan club,” a source familiar with GDS explained. “Basically, you needed to come from a MySociety or BBC background, and be handpicked to get a good role”.

    GDS staff told HR consultants that the nepotism was an important factor: staff felt career progression could only be achieved by leaving GDS.“Reward is for the ‘chosen few’”, despaired one civil servant in the report. The consultants noted that:The appointment of staff into new roles seems to frequently bypass any internal open competition, with roles going immediately to the external market or internal people being appointed by senior management on a basis of ‘who they know’. These practices have led to frustration for team members who feel they have missed opportunities. It also noted:There is a general feeling that you have to know the right people to get noticed, there is ‘favouritism’ and people do not hear about opportunities as they are frequently offered to external staff or new roles are filled by management without any ‘open’ competition.Staff told external consultants that hiring old mates hampered career progression and created an insular organisation, convinced of its own brilliance, but unable to describe its purpose. As The Art of Work's analysis found: “Because the majority of people are bought in at Band A, often at the top of this Band, there is no future salary progression.”“There is a fine line between recruiting people you know are good, and making it a shoo-in for your mates,” one individual familiar with GDS told us.

    Of the TheyWorkForYou volunteers, ten ended up as staff or contractors at GDS, with several taking senior positions.Being favoured by the Bracken/Loosemore axis pushed out more talented IT staff, one Whitehall IT source familiar with its work told el Reg:Most of the great stuff in GDS happened because really good people either took a big pay cut on the promise of great things to come or came in as contractors. Those that took the pay cut started leaving when progression was limited and the senior roles were already cornered by people like Neil Williams who got in there early. The people that came in as contractors split into two camps: 1) the people that cared who have now mostly been cleared out, and 2) the people that are 'delivery' focused above all else, who have been kept on despite the damage they are causing.