50 posts • joined 6 Nov 2007
It's the search verticals like hotels, cinema
I agree with the EU that Google prioritize their own results above others.
e.g. Search for a movie https://encrypted.google.com/search?hl=en&q=interstellar#hl=en&q=interstellar+movie and there is a special Google service only box to find the film times - with a text entry field for city! Nobody else can get a text entry field on Google.com for their service.
See the special "Hotels in New York on Google", unlike anything any competitor can add to the page.
You get a freaking great graphical map of Canada filling most of the page linking to Google Maps. No competing product until way way below the fold.
This annoys me as a user - Google's services are often better now, but they're not always under all circumstances. They should have a marketplace for these special user interface popups, not just put their own in.
Whether they should be broken up is a more complex question. I'd say they should voluntarily break themselves up, as otherwise they'll get lazy over time, and somebody will beat them.
Re: Knowledge-based ID verification
Not really, as Verify has other identity providers too.
Personally, I'm going to use the Post Office option if I possibly can.
Re: Sign me up!!
Think of it as a *protocol* (like SMTP but for money) rather than a currency, and you'll get further in understanding the impacts.
Also, BitCoin is but one Cryptocurrency. Whatever happens to it is irrelevant - the question is, what use will cryptocurrencies have in general?
Rightly so, meanwhile check out things like the Ministry of Justice's github account: https://github.com/ministryofjustice
There are lots of people at GDS trying to make Government IT better and more open, with some unheralded successes - please help them do it!
Briefly, the "mining" is cryptographically provable work done, which is used to "sign" the network's view of who owns which coins. It's quite a subtle concept, and *genuinely new*. It takes time to understand.
Nothing you try and reason about the BitCoin algorithm will be correct without fully understanding how it works. It is a totally new category of substance, unlike anything else.
It can also be extended and used in other unusual ways, not just a currency. See this talk at a BitCoin London conference to get a feel for that. http://t.co/13FBILgAEv
In my view, if you're in IT or finance and you don't understand the BitCoin algorithm, the world will rapidly become a deeeply mysterious place to you over the next 20 years.
Re: Quite satisfied
It's not just about wages - it's also about lost opportunities to do something better or at least different at another company.
Re: Always a PC
Sure, but corporate lifetime is less than 20 years these days, and all the new corporates are likely to be using Open Office w/ DropBox or Google Docs...
It's the user interfaces embedded in search results that are unfair
It's not the search results that I think are anti-competitive, it's the special user interfaces that lots of search terms give.
e.g. A stock ticker like "TSLA" half the page is filled with basically a Google Finance search result. However, it isn't a normal search result, it gets to have special formatting, a graph, and some buttons. Nobody else's service can do that!
Same with "fly to New York". Sure at the top you get some adverts marked as such, fair enough. Then the next hit is a special table callout box with a nice icon, completely different to a search result, more prominent and usable. No competitor can do that.
I wish they'd auction these GUI add-ons as well, so anyone could get in on the game. At least DuckDuckGo lets you write your own and send them a pull request.
Re: 4 Simple Points.
1) One who believes that academic articles funded by the taxpayer, and that are in the public domain, are most effectively used by society as a whole if they are freely available.
2) Yes it is - he had to plead guilty without trial to the charges to get that much reduced sentence. As far as we can tell, he both wasn't guilty (see 3 below), nor thought he was guilty. You also have to account for the cost of US federal court cases - unlike in the UK, the loser doesn't have to pay costs, and they cost millions.
3) It's not clear he committed any crime at all - see this account by an expert witness for the trial: http://unhandled.com/2013/01/12/the-truth-about-aaron-swartzs-crime/
4) How do you know what intervention they took, or what worked or didn't? Depression is a disease, and by no means a simple one for those suffering or their friends/family. We don't know exactly why Aaron died, however it seems likely to be a combination of clinical depression, along with the circumstances of his prosecution.
Greengages are pretty good green plums, and fairly common!
Re: Just not suitable for longer distances
As many as electric cars would get sold if the dealer told you "you have to go to a special station to refuel when you're commuting, it doesn't just refuel at home at night" :)
Re: But what's it for?
I use it to for interior design. I pin photos of a room, and products I'm thinking of buying to put in it, e.g. new curtains, paint colours etc. Others do the same thing for clothes. Basically it is a visual delicious, so just as useful as a bookmarking site, but more fun/comprehensible to non-geeks.
It is based on a popular US hobby called pinboarding. It is very popular, 80% of US users of pinterest are women.
As for commercials... They get lots of intent driven sales click throughs. http://www.shopify.com/blog/6058268-how-pinterest-drives-ecommerce-sales
The obvious business model is the same as Google's. Steal other people's content, let users organise it for you for free, then charge other people to get the resultant clicks.
Given all of the above, it seems a reasonable valuation.
Because for years they've lost traffic and revenue through not having juicy stories, by not breaking the law? Goodies always get pissed off when others cheat without punishment, so naturally gloat when a naughty kid gets found out.
PushF12 - not at all!
There's a difference in performance in various ways between a virtualised EC2 image, and using an API to get the actual metal of a whole machine. Yeah, so I think this MaaS is a serviced, colocated server - with a crucial difference, you can access it using EC2-compatible APIs.
Sometimes you have to make up a new term for something that is genuinely new. Or can you point me to other places that offer the ability to get an entire machine (no virtualisation layer) using drop in compatible EC2-like APIs? And if so, what name do they use for that service?
The key thing here is the followers.
You can reasonably assume that the intent of people who followed @MayorOfLondon was to follow the Mayor of London. To then let the incumbent mayor be able to use the same people for marketing during the election is clearly unfair to other candidates.
It's quarter of a million people, so not insignificant in voting terms.
I came across this (on a Macbook) by accident at Boston airport. Skype just popped up saying "you can pay for Internet access at this rate, click here".
I didn't have a mobile phone or 3G dongle that would charge at all reasonable rates in the US. And there was no free Wifi. All told, it was very convenient (no extra signup) and pretty good value considering.
Completely useless at home in the UK when I have a phone with data plan and tethering, of course.
Concept rather than a technical review
(Disclaimer: I run ScraperWiki, which Alpha.gov used for some of this project)
@The Wegie They've deliberately not made the prototype accessible, see Alpha.gov's blog post about that here. http://blog.alpha.gov.uk/blog/accessibility
@CD001, agreed the front page is deliberately flashy with its Olympics photo. But as soon as you dig into particular apps you're supposed to find exactly what you want - completely lack of flashiness, just the stuff that you need.
@Lamont Cranston, yep they haven't migrated all the content yet. It's a prototype. Makes it harder to tell just how good it would be in the end though.
@Bram, wouldn't it! There are lots of machinations going on inside the civil service. See last couple of pages of Simon Dickson's blog with directgov tag for a feel: http://puffbox.com/tag/directgov/
Testing and staff costs of just Direct.gov are 25 million a year http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jul/05/government-websites-costs
They've spent 1% of that on prototyping a radically redone user interface, with better citizen engagement, and cost savings.
A month or two ago I did an FOI request for the background to the original Liverpool Big Society Vanguard announcement. You can see some of the emails behind its original setup here:
WebKit wasn't Apple's originally
@ThomH said "See WebKit, which is there's originally"
Not quite. WebKit was originally made by the KDE people - it's a fork of KHTML.
Yes, Apple gave it the name WebKit, have done lots of great work on it, and made first commercial use of it. But it was already an incredibly good, well written, debugged for the real world, HTML engine before Apple got to it.
I don't think the KDE people get enough credit for this. Their web browser is on every fashionable mobile phone. Everyone thought I was quirky when I used Konqueror back in 2001...
Bizarre criticism about partitions, when there is a much larger criticism lurking. That is, lack of certified hardware support.
I still can't buy a decent laptop from anyone, that is guaranteed to be supported (in full, including suspend/hibernate) for current and all future versions of Ubuntu.
Yes, Dell sometimes offer one for a few weeks, and apparently lots of others sort of work. But sort of is not good enough. There are also expensive specialists, which sell a limited range of laptops.
If only Ubuntu would do a paid service where I can subscribe to have them actually support a particular laptop (like Transgaming, where you can vote and they support a particular game)...
Then there's more exotic code wikis, such as ScraperWiki for collaboratively developing and maintaining screen scrapers http://scraperwiki.com/ (that uses CodeMirror though)
There's been more than one vote on ID cards
@dogged because there's been more than one vote in Parliament on ID cards. "Very strongly" is the most extreme TheyWorkForYou puts - actually he turned out on every vote on introducing ID cards, and voted in favour every time. Details from Public Whip here:
Not available via FOI
@Mickey Porkpies - contracts generally aren't released under FOI, due to "commercial confidentiality". I'm guessing the coalition will later make a law change to reduce the power of that excuse...
Apple don't let you have a reliable business
This has really put me off wanting to develop for the iPhone.
Mainly because of the insecurity. I could spend lots of money developing an application, and then Apple suddenly whimsically decide that the technology I chose to develop it isn't allowed.
This isn't just theoretical - business apps like SugarCRM don't know what is going on, see earlier reg article http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/13/sugarcrm_ipad_html5/
If Apple wanted to stop apps that had bad user interfaces, or were slow, or were memory hogs, or didn't cooperatively mulitask, or that drained batteries, that would make sense.
But they haven't.
They've stopped code converters, even ones that go via C and call all the right APIs properly. Which means it must be a business decision, rather than one about usability.
Worth helping CycleStreets
@lead352 "the route it just suggested to get from North to Central London was frankly bizarre"
Please do let CycleStreets people know about routes that are bizarre - and/or help fix the underlying data.
The main advantage of CycleStreets is that it is a community project. The data (stored in OpenStreetMap) is open, so we can all collaborate to make it generate good cycle routes for everyone. Not going to happen with TransportDirect, where you have no influence over the output.
It's about risk, not certainty
@Ministry of Truth "To assume that any existing model covers all the bases is foolish." - Climate scientists have never claimed that. Their papers, and the summary reports from the IPCC, are full of risk analyses, of probabilities, of self-criticism.
The Climate Science is and always has been our current best knowledge. Yes, we should try and improve that knowledge. Yes, that means funding more science, doing more checking. It means paying for more temperature stations (see recent article in the Economist about lack of funding for that).
But meanwhile, we have to decide what to do next given what we know so far. We can decide to geoengineer the climate by digging up fossil fuels and burning them. Or we can decide to become more efficient and to use nuclear power, to use various sorts of solar power and wind power.
The current best peer-reviewed evidence we have, and economic analyses associated with it, show that the latter is the wise course in terms of sustaining our civilisation.
You will never have certainty about predicting the future. But it doesn't matter, you still have to choose an action.
Did they steal source code?
Scroll down to "The Truth About The Google Affair" on this page, to read an account translated from a Chinese blog of what happened to Chinese Google engineers when the hack attempt story first came out. There are also accusations of code theft by Communist party agents.
I've no idea whether the blog post is true - there's a battle going on here, so it is hard to tell. But what it does reveal is that Google might have sound, unspoken business motives for leaving China. If their network was compromised, and their source code stolen, it could damage their global operations.
Missing the point (I hope!)
I hope that the Tories here want innovative solutions. We're not just talking another forum or petition site, that would be pointless. The best way I can explain is by analogy.
Looking at the poor programming Q&A sites a year ago, would you have expected StackOverflow to appear from nowhere and trounce them all, with better questions, better answers, easier to use and search? It doesn't do anything specifically new, but it gets the reward mechanism right with points and badges. It uses a nice mixture of voting and quality improving editing.
In the policy arena there'll be similar surprising improvements. Maybe it'll give you a simple basic questionnaire, before you can edit the policy on any subject. Perhaps its voting will use YouGov like demographic weighting. Who knows, but there's sure lots of things to try that are betting than just shoving a bill on a wiki, or making another petition site.
Blackmail and patent pools
Why is Stallman letting the open source community be blackmailed by Microsoft - shouldn't an open source patent pool be defending us against this kind of threat by now?
Meanwhile, everyone continues to migrate to proprietary applications on the web (how many hackers do you know who would never use closed-source Outlook, but love closed-source GMail?), and basic features like suspend/resume continue not to be certified for Linux on common laptops (the Unix geeks I know seem to be slowly but surely fleeing to OSX).
I guess on the plus side the claim is that Google Wave is going to be open source, and perhaps we can all use open source Android on our laptops soon.
Open source Google analytics
Easy to dismiss, hard to consider carefully
The main thing Stallman is wrong about is caring about the distinction between server side and client side web application code. If either side isn't open source, the application you are using isn't open source.
That's fine if you don't mind. But there are quite a few people who wouldn't dream of using a closed source, fully local email client, but happily use the utterly proprietary GMail.
I don't think open source is a panacea, or that all software should be open. But I think we should be aware that we are walking back into an entirely closed source world, via web applications, and do it consciously if that is what we want.
Meanwhile, of far more importance is that the service gives you full access to and control of your data. There are some attempts to promote that, or broader concepts. e.g. See the Open Service Definition.
Yeah, bunch of hippies
If you're worried about Climate Change, but don't want to join Greenpeace, help build up the new Serious Change http://seriouschange.org.uk/ instead.
All this clatter, and meanwhile Britain is losing out.
America, Germany, Spain, Japan, China, India... All grabbing slices of the world's new energy system for their corporations, while we're sitting here whining pathetically.
The top ten largest companies in the world at the moment are nearly all oil and oil burning car companies.
What will the top ten be in 2100? Will any of them be British?
It's an open source remaking of Google Analytics, and it's already very good and improving fast. You have to install it on your own server, but it's just PHP and MySQL so that is pretty easy to do. From then on it is as easy to configure and use as the Google stuff.
Electric because it is cheaper
You're welcome to make it expensive to fill up at the pump with hydrogen if you like, but I'd put my money on electric winning, because it's cheaper.
Electric cars are much more energy and cost efficient across the whole system (including electricity/hydrogen generation and making batteries) than hydrogen.
For the same reason, electric cars immediately reduce carbon emissions, even if you're still using old tech like coal to generate the power, you'll be using less of it.
Details in the excellent book Without Hot Air http://www.withouthotair.com
Saves carbon emissions anyway
Even though the electricity comes from coal, it still saves carbon emissions, because electric engines are so much more efficient than dirty old ICEs. See David MacKay's book for details: http://www.withouthotair.com/
And you can make it nuclear powered later.
David MacKay's book
Instead of reading random comments, you might want some actual figures, fully referenced.
If so, download "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air". Or buy a nice paper copy from Amazon.
Short answer - yes wind is worthwhile, but we need even more nuclear.
Paris, because she'd like all of the above.
Four things about electric cars
The lack of basic knowledge about electric vs. hydrogen in the comments above is astonishing.
1. You don't have to wait for battery cars to recharge, you hot swap the batteries at the filling station.
2. Recharging at home / the office is an EXTRA BONUS that saves you lots of things, including the hassle of going to the petrol station during the daily grind of commute.
3. Hydrogen cars are ludicrously expensive to refuel compared to electric. How the same people who moan about petrol prices can even countenance hydrogen astonishes me.
4. Not one, not two but THREE countries (Israel, Australia and Denmark) and TWO United States (California and Hawaii) are changing to electric cars. Nowhere is changing to hydrogen cars.
Sure, I want to see this argument electric vs. hydrogen, it's an important one. But please, actually talk about the advantages/disadvantages properly rather than ignoring major, basic features of the two technologies.
Stern has said he underestimated costs
Stern himself has said the economic costs are now known to be much more than his report said. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/18/climatechange.carbonemissions
Also a key thing to remember here is the risk - would you be prepared to, for example, have a 10% chance of a 50% cut in GDP? And would it be worth spending 2% of GDP to avoid that?
Re: Working E-Voting == Working Digital ID
@Anonymous Coward, @William: You're both mad! The problem with electronic voting is nothing to do with identifying people. It is to do with counting the votes. In the paper based system, agents of all parties can observe the entire process, and assure themselves that is is fair and well counted. With any electronic system, that cannot be done.
If I could find my tin foil hat, I suspect you both of being Government shills in here to try and sell us ID cards, on really the most spurious grounds yet (that they are needed for electronic voting).
@Shakje The Sony Vaio AR71S weighs a whopping 3.8kg (according to http://vaio.sony.co.uk/view/ShowProduct.action?product=VGN-AR71S&site=voe_en_GB_cons&category=VN+AR+Series), the new MacBook weights just 2.04 kg.
Sure, you might not care about style, but weight isn't about style, it's about the comfort and ease of carrying your laptop about.
US government run by freetards!
@Secretgeek "You're effectively saying that any content put on a public page then belongs to the public and no copyright should be asserted over that material. Only the most committed freetard can seriously subscribe to that view." -- well, all information made by the US government is by default in the public domain, so there is precedent for what Frank is implying...
(Just a quick note that my name is Francis Irving, not Francis Stirling, which I'm guessing an errant spellchecker has changed it to in the article!)
@Tim Parker - I give details why I don't give another email in the request. But in short, yes you're right - I am prioritising clearing up the principle about Freedom of Information and copyright above actually getting the document quickly myself.
Look up the bloody numbers
Stop pontificating your left or right wing nonsense, and actually read up on the numbers. The book at http://www.withouthotair.com/ (free download, published on paper soon) gives detailed options for energy generation in Britain that actually add up.
You lot need your heads banging together before we ruin our economy, with no long term, militarily secure, thought through energy plan.
Not wrong to try, they just tried the wrong thing
Tread Lightly was so dumb, I certainly wouldn't use it to conclude that newspapers can't influence things by campaigning. If they'd done smart things - new promises rather than tired lightbulbs, and smarter political lobbying via their readers, it would have made a difference. But just copying numerous over pointless, feel good campaigns, that doesn't work.
Monopoly vs. Monopoly
Seems fair to me...
Google are undercutting Microsoft by giving away software at no cost (office software, removing the need for a specific operating system etc.) cross-subsidised from their monopoly (search).
So why shouldn't Microsoft give away search cheaper than Google (i.e. negative cost), cross-subsidised from their monopoly (operating systems)?
My only complaint is that Microsoft are being stingy and not giving enough cash back.
Cameron doesn't mean "open source" literally
Cameron is using the term "open source" very loosely, as non-software engineers are prone to these days.
He's partly meaning "open knowledge" - i.e. having the information and data that Government produces freely available to its citizens. And he's partly talking about "open standards", i.e. allowing competition in Government IT, by preventing vendor lock in.
Both seem pretty clear wins to me.
Whether he means "open source" as in the operating system and web platform being open source vs. Microsoft is largely irrelevant to the argument, as is whether he means "open source" as in the actual source code to the application being open source.
Saying that - both those seem to be working fine over at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ (where yes, at least one bug was fixed by an eyeball from the many reading the source code)
XML does not equal structured data
@ Anonymous Coward - Two things. Firstly, XML does not structured data make. You can put unstructured stuff in XML. Specifically, Bills and Amendments are not currently published with the way they amend each other encoded in a structured way. Any internal XML that they come from is document publishing XML i.e. Basically visual markup. It isn't structured storage of the proposed law XML. If I'm wrong, post up one of the internal XML files somewhere to show me that I am! It would be fab if I am!
Secondly, that OPSI and the SLD publish Acts is irrelevant to the campaign. We're talking about Bills and Amendments - proposed laws. This is so that people can scrutinise them before they are passed. Really important stuff. We want to make sure that new laws are good quality.
Thirdly, you may note that the campaign page http://www.theyworkforyou.com/freeourbills/ itself doesn't mention XML. We only mention it briefly on the technical details page http://www.theyworkforyou.com/freeourbills/techy . XML has nothing to do with this campaign - XML is just a light layer. Doesn't mean much - it is no more interesting to say structured data is in XML than to say it is encoded with 8 bits per byte. What matters is consistency of format, reliable unique identifiers, encoding of all required structural information.
Finally - just to say that I think the recent improvements to the bill pages on parliament.uk are fantastic, and that the release of the Statute Law Database is fantastic. Well done to everyone in Government who is working on those things, and every power to them to do more similar things in the future.
(I work for mySociety)
Why give the data to Google?
It would make more sense to contribute it to OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/), so at least you get to own the data and use it how you like later.
I'm astonished how well OpenStreetMap are doing, I thought it would never take off.
Fix My Street
Meanwhile, you can report anything broken in your street (like graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or street lighting) in a properly web accessible way, wherever in the country you live.
That's over at mySociety's http://www.fixmystreet.com
Sorry we don't support barking dogs or crying babies yet! You can report dog poo though.
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