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* Posts by John H Woods

1273 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

Brits to do £5bn worth of their Christmas shopping online

John H Woods
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UK Question

Doesn't using click-and-collect immediately divest one of ones rights under the Distance Selling Regulations?

If I buy something online I can return it if I don't like it. I cannot be charged a 're-stocking fee' regardless of the T&Cs of the seller. The return cannot be refused because it has been 'used' or 'is not in its original packaging', despite the efforts of many big corporates to hide these rights from their customers.

But I think actually going to collect it from the shop counts as buying in the shop, albeit with online 'reservation' and the DSRs no longer apply. Or do they only cease if you *pay* in the shop, whereas you are covered if you pay online and just collect the goods from the shop? Any lawyers able to comment?

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Reg man inhales the smooth, non-cancerous, taste of USB nicotine

John H Woods
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Re: Not the same as the real thing

Actually there are cig-type e-cigs that *are* quite good, although they are more expensive. My wife is happy with V2s for smoking outdoors and a tank-type thing for smoking at home. She is a previously moderate-to-heavy smoker who hasn't smoked cigs since her brain told her to stop in Feb 2010 (by having a stroke).

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Undercover BBC man exposes Amazon worker drone's daily 11-mile trek

John H Woods
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Re: How long did he do it?

"... something like 20 minutes for lunch with 10 of them taken up by going through security to get to somewhere..."

This is probably the only really unfair thing here. Company security needs to be done on company time. But as for the walking - plenty of people do that - binmen for example. In fact, I'd love to have a non-sedentary job, but the pay tends to suck.

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FAT PIPE for ALL: Britain’s new tech firms take it from the telcos

John H Woods
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if i weren't broke...

I would register featheredbuttocks.com and put a link to this marvellous rant.

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LG: You can stop hiding from your scary SPY TELLY quite soon now

John H Woods
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Re: Encrptyed?

"Man, if I ever saw encrypted info leaving my network from one of my appliances, it would be hammer time for certain. And not just on the TV, if I ever found any of the devs..."

Make sure they give you the names of the managers and execs responsible first ...

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Wolfram's new equation: Mathematica+RPi=child geniuses everywhere

John H Woods
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If you're interested in maths education...

although somewhat limited in scope, for those parts of the curriculum where it can be used Geogebra is extremely good.

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Cryptolocker infects cop PC: Massachusetts plod fork out Bitcoin ransom

John H Woods
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Re: Opening attachments

Mike 16,

Much better expressed than my earlier ramble. It is simply not acceptable to say to people that they should not open attachments. If it were, it would be perfectly acceptable to configure the destination mail server to reject any mail with attachments. The business would put up with that for exactly 1 second before screaming to IT to change it back.

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John H Woods
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Re: To be fair ...

Sorry Keith, you're right - for Cryptolocker the documented cases are executables. It should certainly not be possible to one-click an executable from an email and have it run. In this case it is not a helper application but the email client itself which is at fault. However, I think my point - in general - still holds. One SHOULD be able to open non-executable attachments in emails, that really are PDFs, JPEGs etc, with no other risk than the content not displaying, or the user not really liking the content that is displayed - and absolutely without the risk that one's machine will be compromised.

The advice that attachments should never be opened unless you know what they contain is logically meaningless as I have already said; the advice that you should not open them unless you are expecting them gives a false sense of security when you *are* expecting an attachment; and the advice that you check the identity of the sender is (in the absence of a digital signature) is meaningless. And even if one were sure about the originator, who is to say the originator is not compromised?

So I'm sticking to my guns about helper applications, but accept that in this case I'm off topic. However, Many thanks for the heads-up about mapped drives - that is an important point.

... John

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John H Woods
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To be fair ...

... the advice about not opening attachments is not helpful. Sometimes there's nothing in the email but the attachment and sender addresses can be spoofed, so unless you have a policy that all incoming email has to be digitally signed (in which case no unsigned mail should never be delivered to the user, so they can't open it anyway) you are, at some stage, going to have to open attachments. I mean, honestly, who can say with a straight face that you shouldn't open attachments unless you are sure of their contents? If you are sure of their contents you don't need to open them at all!

The problem is in the helper applications. Adobe's PDF Reader is a particular culprit. There is no way that viewing any kind of document should EVER allow any executable code to run without further explicit confirmation from the user. We are far too lenient about applications that allow remote execution exploits.

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Winamp is still a thing? NOPE: It'll be silenced forever in December

John H Woods
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Like Tie Rack ...

... I thought it had gone away years ago.

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Google shows off scanned-in Gettysburg Address drafts

John H Woods
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My favorite version of the Gettysburg Address ...

http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/sld001.htm

... is also the best critique of PowerPoint that I have seen to date.

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Patent law? It's all about Apples, Newton and iPads

John H Woods
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Re: @John H Woods - economics in two pages never really works

Dear AC 04:21,

It is impossible to answer your question, if indeed you really seek an answer, without understanding the distinction you intend to convey by quoting "education" in that manner.

I am naturally aware, as are many people, that there is a risk that at least some medical journals may effectively operate as the part of the marketing departments of Big Pharma (Smith, 2005; Spurling et al., 2011; Handel et al., 2012).

Presumably we could agree that the ability to read and understand cogent arguments (i.e. that some journal articles should be taken with varying sizes of pinches of salt) and come to our own conclusions about them is a product of (perhaps a certain kind of) education. As, I would suggest, is the ability to go beyond feelings such as "there's no smoke without fire; it's obviously a conspiracy" and consider the evidence directly -- in this case that the benefits of MMR massively outweigh its risk.

A recent example: there was outrage a few weeks ago from some politicians that approximately £700 of the cost of an NHS childbirth was insurance premium. This was repeated ad nauseam by the journalists, and many people relayed this "news" to me (I have worked on projects for Insurance Companies, and the NHS) as if it were shocking. When I asked them what was shocking, that the risk of an accident necessitating life-long support of the child might be "as high" as a few cases in 100,000 or that the cost of that life-long support might be "as much" as a few £million, these people looked at me as if I were a special kind of idiot - of course those figures are perfectly reasonable. But, nevertheless, wasn't it shocking that insuring against this risk cost several hundred pounds?

This is what I mean by lack of education being the opposite of a public good. The politicians expressing the outrage are either uneducated themselves, or are exploiting a lack of public education to promote a political agenda. The journalists repeating it are either uneducated themselves, or are exploiting a lack of public education to report a good story. The people repeating it to me as if it were amazing are mostly intelligent people who have unfortunately missed that part of their education that would have empowered them to think critically about what is presented to them and to realize that it is not really all that amazing. In fact, I think it is mainly lack of empowerment (i.e. self confidence to apply their own intelligence and reach their own conclusions) rather than ability. Nevertheless, I did not see a single politician or pundit on the TV, Radio or in print putting forward the point of view that the insurance premium is pretty much the right order of magnitude for the insured risk. I'm sure some did, but it would certainly not have attracted the same attention.

Now that little storm in a teacup subsided without apparent harm, apart from wasting everybody's time. But it is the same sort of thing preventing us from using more nuclear power, even though the radiological risks are lower than those of fossil fuels; causing children to die of preventable illnesses, even though the risks of preventative vaccination are tiny in comparison; and numerous other public policy problems.

---

Handel et al., 2012 BMJ 2012;344:e4212

Smith R., 2005 Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies. PLoS Med 2(5)

Spurling et al., 2011, The Lancet, 378

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John H Woods
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Re: economics in two pages never really works

"The whole sorry tale of MMR and the triple vaccine is an example of what happens ... WHEN MEDICAL FRAUDS SUCH AS ANDREW WAKEFIELD PUBLISH BOLLOCKS." The very fact MMR take-up is still depressed actually supports the inverse of the hypothesis that education is a public good; i.e. that lack of education negatively impacts a society.

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LOOK UP! Comet ISON could EXPLODE in our skies – astronomers

John H Woods
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Re: Can we stop ...

I suppose some journo must have seen C2012/S1 (ISON) written down and thought the contents of the brackets was the unofficial name rather than the source of the designation.

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John H Woods
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Can we stop ...

... calling it Comet ISON? It's a bit like calling something Comet NASA. I'm pretty sure the International Scientific Optical Network is going to spot another one one day. Let's have a new media-friendly name for C2012/S1 or Nevski–Novichonok please --- I suggest maybe "Nev-Nov", which is even more appropriate given the month of its perihelion.

</cnut_mode>

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PlayStation 4 BLUE LIGHT OF DEATH blamed on power cords, TV sets, butterflies in China

John H Woods
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Re: Shows how stupid it is having one indicator that covers all possible failures

Agreed, power-on BIOS beeps can be surprisingly informative

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John H Woods
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0.4%, not 4%. so 4000 units.

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Sony scoffs at the Microsoft EX-BOX: A MILLION PS4s sell in ONE day

John H Woods
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MattEvansC3: "Also that 0.4% failure rate could be higher as there will be a significant number of PS4s that won't be opened until Christmas day."

You might want to refresh that bit about sample sizes from Statistics 101. Even if 90% of those million PS4s are under the tree, the sample size tested would be 100k units, with 400 failures. Even that that gives you high confidence that the failure rate of the full 1M units will be 0.4% to 1 significant figure. (My maths is a bit rusty but I make the 99% confidence interval 0.351 to 0.449).

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Dr Wolfram touts coding language to revolutionise mankind ... just like Wolfram Alpha did

John H Woods
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Natural language ...

Person: Go to the shops, get me a carton of milk. And if there are any avocados, get me five.

...

Robot: They did have avocados. Here are your six cartons of milk.

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Vladimir PUTIN officially HARDER than CHUCK NORRIS

John H Woods
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re: bum him

I'm sure I'm not the only person who suspects the homophobia stems from the usual place -- repressed homosexuality.

Ob. Chuck Norris Joke:

The FORCE feels Chuck Norris

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Oh Mr Darcy! You're PRESSING MY BUTTONS

John H Woods
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Re: It might be classic lit, but....

Northanger Abbey should be the one to start the kids on. Short, sarcastic and funny, with a little bit of suspense for good measure. I can't resist quoting, so apologies, but on discussing how a young lady might bashfully put aside a novel they had been reading ...

<quote>

Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of the Spectator . . . how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either the matter or the manner would not disgust a young person of taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of conversation, which no longer concern any one living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable idea of the age that could endure it.

</quote>

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Microsoft, Cisco: RC4 encryption considered harmful, avoid at all costs

John H Woods
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Click the padlock icon to see the certificate, there's normally an 'advanced' or 'more information' button that will show you additional details - these should include the encryption mechanism. My https to Google yields:

TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA, 128 bit keys

Hmm.

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Bay pride: WD slips out FOUR-DRIVE network FILE STASH

John H Woods
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Re: Rebuild times

Aaron Miller: "All RAID is not RAID-5"

Agreed -- and RAID-5 has been silly for a decade. eg http://www.baarf.com/

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Ricoh Theta 360˚ camera: Point and click immersive imaging

John H Woods
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Too late...

... nobody needs this technology any more. Just take as many overlapping pictures as you can with a high quality camera and let something like Hugin do the rest.

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ULTIMATE ELECTRIC driving machine? Yes, it’s the BMW i3 e-car

John H Woods
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Just showing my wife ...

... because my company car is up for renewal soon. But she just says it looks too much like the taxi in Total Recall ...

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Facebook hitches skirt, flashes 'Cisco-slaying' open network blade

John H Woods
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Might this approach give one more confidence there aren't backdoors in one's network kit?

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Tesla shares dip as Elon Musk admits electrocar firm ran out of juice

John H Woods
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Re: Decisions decisions.

Wouldn't shorting them create a fire risk?

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Google Nexus 5: So easy to fix, it's practically a DIY kit - except for ONE thing

John H Woods
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@Rob

Rob, do you have supplier and instruction recommendations? Just about to start on the same job myself.

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If it wasn't on Twitter, there's NO point talking to us: One in 10 Americans confess

John H Woods
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Twitter - a news feed for people who can't grok RSS

NT

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New US Apple factory will make INVINCIBLE sapphire glass for SHINY iThings

John H Woods
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Happy

Re: Ditch the aluminium

I think "frank ly" might have been referring to Star Trek IV.

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Galaxy is CRAMMED with EARTH-LIKE WORLDS – also ALIENS (probably)

John H Woods
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Nurse!

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Facebook fans fuel FAGGOT FURY firestorm

John H Woods
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Do you remember ...

... when PlayStation Home first launched? It had weird censorship - "Hello" became "****o" and "Indian" was not allowed at all!

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'Only NUCLEAR power can SAVE HUMANITY', say Global Warming high priests

John H Woods
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Happy

I am delighted.

I am a 'green' - not a tree hugging, knit-your-own-yoghurt, anti-progress green - but I think we should take a science-based, damage-limiting approach to our sustainability challenges.

The Fukushima Nuclear Success shows that even old technology, subject to horrendous environmental challenges, is safer than burning fossil fuels. We need a lot more nukes. Just a shame that we in the UK seem to have to borrow money from the Chinese to pay the French to build (just) one new plant.

Of course we should continue to research renewables. But if we're all going to be driving electric vehicles soon, we are going to need a lot more capacity. Maybe start now, instead of a power policy based almost 100% on nimbyism, whose medium term consequences will be loss of power and whose long term consequences will be the hurried last-minute assembly of suboptimal, and almost certainly less-sustainable, generation capacity.

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Google barge erection hypegasm latest - What's in the box?

John H Woods
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@Don Jefe

... and the other reason shipping containers are such a useful architectural resource in the states is that the USA doesn't manufacture enough stuff to return the containers that arrive - and it isn't economical to ship them back empty.

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How to spot a coders comment

John H Woods
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Smalltalk>>helpWithComments

"A good Smalltalk method probably only has one comment, which describes what the method does. Everything else should be pretty understandable from reading the code. If it isn't, that's usually the fault of the coders (the reader, the writer or both) rather than the language. Any method big enough to need inline comments is usually too big to be a single method, and should be a considered a candidate for refactoring."

^self commentOnly

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Microsoft: You've got it all WRONG. It's Apple's iPad playing catch-up with our Surface

John H Woods
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Re: And some sour grapes too.

pithy

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Met Police vid: HIDE your mobes. Pavement BIKER cutpurses on the loose

John H Woods
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Surely ...

... as these incidents were caught on CCTV, the perps have already been apprehended?

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MoJ fined £140K for EMAILING privates of 1,000 inmates

John H Woods
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Outgoing mail filter idea...

... how about diverting all outbound mail that contains, either directly or in an attachment, more than N historical dates, postcodes or NI numbers to another department for checking before sending.

It would be a start. I'm sure we can come up with a regex ...

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Unsupervised Brit kids are meeting STRANGERS from the INTERNET

John H Woods
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I prevented my daughter accessing online porn ...

... I didn't want to give her unreasonable expectations. A whole generation of girls are growing up thinking you can get a plumber or washing machine repair man round about five minutes after phoning.

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John H Woods
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Trollface

Kids these days ...

"Get in the van!"

"No!"

"The van's got wifi ..."

"Oh, ok ..."

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Whoops! Apple drops kimono, flashes 'FREE' GarageBand for iOS7

John H Woods
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Headmaster

Drops kimono...

... I think it might be "opening the kimono" or "dropping the towel"

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11m Chinese engulfed by 'Airpocalypse' at 4000% of safe pollution levels

John H Woods
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Re: And Laws of the USA/Europe are going to prevent this?

Yes, I've always wondered why USians think "could care less" is a synonym for "couldn't care less" but then I'm told they believe that "buried at sea" is how you say "chained to a radiator in a secret prison with electrodes on his testicles"

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Android's defences against malicious apps dissed by security bods

John H Woods
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Re: Permissions

Terry, you're right, but - if you want an app you usually have to compromise. I have a dashcam app on an old Android. I had to give it permissions to make calls (e.g. to the emergency services or a specified contact) so that its call-on-collision function can work, even though I keep this function switched off. But if I'd said 'no' I'd have to do without the app.

The primary defence is economic. The dashcam phone has no SIM, so it can't cost me money. My own phone is PAYG, so the highest cost I could incur is exhausting my call or text credit before the end of the month.

In terms of privacy, Google could tighten up some rules: for instance when an app asks for permission to use contacts, one should be able to deny that without forgoing access to the app, perhaps my having an OS level option to restrict the contacts available to that app to a specific group of those on the phone.

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Apple's first iPhone now COSTS MORE than golden mobe 5S

John H Woods
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are being are being s̶o̶l̶d̶ offered

FTFY

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Apple slams brakes on orders of (not so cheap) plasticky iPhone 5C

John H Woods
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Re: No surprise

<Sheldon>I refuse to contribute to the devaluation of the word genius</Sheldon>

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