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* Posts by johnB

73 posts • joined 7 Dec 2007

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Tell us we're all doomed, MPs beg climate scientists

johnB

Re: Just wait

Apologies to both Clarke and Plank - I was so convinced it was a Clarke-ism I didn't check. Maybe the version I quoted was Clarke's succinct paraphrasing?

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johnB

Just wait

Scientists whose living depends on the government dole agree with the line the politicos want, which of course keeps them in a job.

According to the sage Arthur C Clarke, when asked what causes changes in science, "Old men die". We'll just have to wait & hope they don't do anything too daft before a more rational set take over.

Me, I want them on the "B" Ark.

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MPs: Ancient UK Border Force systems let GANGSTERS into Blighty

johnB
Stop

Overstaffed

I've just had the "pleasure" this morning of experiencing the Border Force in (in)action.

Four checkouts, only two staffed, for 600 ferry passengers. But they did have a chappie pointing out to us which of the two checkouts to use. Obviously I'm missing something when I go to the supermarket & have to choose a checkout all by myself. A complete waste of taxpayers money.

The guy isn't even there as a security backup - the five plods at the back of the hall doing nothing but chat amongst themselves were more than enough for that.

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First the Yanks, now us: In-flight mobe use WON'T kill us all, say Eurocrats

johnB

On more than expected

Usually the instruction to turn off the device is after bags have been stowed, seat belts fastened, the safety drill being demonstrated, & the plane toddling it's way to take off. Virtually no-one at that stage will disrupt everything to unstow hand baggage to turn off their phone if it's in the hand baggage.

I reckon most flights take off with many devices in full working mode.

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Microsoft exposes green users' privates in web quiz snafu

johnB

Re: Environmentally friendly Windows PC ..... NOT!

Ah, Eadon....

The anagram of "Deano"

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Microsoft needs to keep visible under waves of Blue

johnB

Blue ?

When I hear "blue" in an IT context the association I have is with "Big Blue", i.e. IBM. MS isn't "blue", it's "Azure", surely ?

It'll be interesting to see how MS holds on to it's revenue stream. My view is that they'll hold onto the business customers for Windows / Office in a single word: Excel. Every business outfit I know has lots of stuff on Excel that's been around donkeys. No one really knows how it does what it does & no one in their right mind would risk their job by suggesting an alternative. It's easier, cheaper & less livelihood threatening simply to pay MS's rental fees. The overwhelming majority of users neither know nor care what OS / software they're using, they just want it to work the way it did last week & no changes, thank you very much. That's a heavy inertial load in favour of MS in business for the foreseeable future.

Outside of business, there doesn't seem to be much reason to pay MS's increasingly hiked-up charges. XP still works just fine, & MS are asking £190 for W8, way more than Apple ask for OSX. Old versions of Office also work just fine & the latest versions (home & student) have had their price hacked up from £80 for 3 licences to £109 for a single licence. Unless you need or are required to use Office then Google's "Drive", at a purchase cost of zero, and a maintenance cost also of zero, seem very attractive. And, being cloud-based, it's got automatic backup built in, which means you don't need to wrestle with Windows Backup. Or as is often suggested Libre / Open Office might be worth looking at (can't say I was too enamoured of it myself when last I tried it, but that was some time ago).

I reckon that for the first time for years MS have a real fight on their hands. It'll be interesting to see how, or if, they can effectively respond.

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YouTube's hilarious cat videos could soon cost you $5 a month

johnB
Joke

Who Pays?

Surely it should be the originators of most of the dross on You Tube who should pay for foisting the stuff on us???

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Google files patent for eyewear that SHOOTS LASERS

johnB

Re: Sod that, wake me up when........

Can't see many sales for a device that shone lasers into the eye. Bit of a tricky thing to sell?

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LOHAN slips BRA over BOOBIES in ballocket backronym buffoonery

johnB

HARRIS TWEED

High

Altitude

Rocket

Release

Ignition

System

To

Watch over

Electronic

Events in

Deep space

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The hoarder's dilemma, or 'Why can't I throw anything away?'

johnB

Two-pin kettle lead

I know a chap who was asking for one of those a couple of weeks ago - he's inherited an old coffee maker that uses such a lead & there wasn't one with it.

Put it on eBay please!

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UK.gov tries to close site giving home addresses of badger cull figures

johnB

Why cull ?

We've had cattle for hundreds of years in Britain & Badgers are native fauna. They seemed to have got along together now just fine for a long time. So why do we now need to start shooting them ? What's changed in the last few years to make this so necessary ?

Personally I'd be looking to see what changes in farming practices have coincided with this apparent rise in the TB "threat".

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Don't delete that email! Why you must keep biz docs for 6 YEARS

johnB
Facepalm

Personal folders

So do I just put everything I'm unsure about into a sub-folder of "Personal" & it's no longer available to investigators ?

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Register SPB hacks mull chopping off feet

johnB

Yes Please

Let's go for SI units & join the rest of the human race. Honourable exception to be given to aircraft height & beer.

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If you see 'URGENT tax rebate download' in an inbox, kill it with fire

johnB

Re: Talking of Tax Rebates

Yes - if paying under PAYE the rounding system usually means you pay a few pounds less than is actually due -

e.g. allowances £6545 gets rounded in the employer PAYE calculation to £6550, so £5 @ your tax rate too little is paid.

It was explained to me, long ago, that this was to prevent small overpayments arising which would create mountains of clerical staff to calculate & repay.

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Low sunspot activity linked to rivers freezing: Mini Ice Age on way?

johnB
Childcatcher

A Choice of Catastrophe

A s Isaac Asimov pointed out: "The universe isn't hostile, it's merely indifferent".

The climate is beyond the ability of most (if not all) of us to comprehend, so to fix on a single factor, be that CO2, sunspots, or <your chosen factor goes here> isn't likely to be useful. By continuing to argue over causes (which is valid research) we're missing the wider issue that come what may, the climate will change. Surely the rational approach should be to decide what we need to do to mitigate the potential adverse effects of climate change. (E.g. stop subsidising the insurance policies of homeowners building on coastlines subject to hurricane risk to discourage such development). If, along the way we can reduce substantially CO2 emissions then, on the precautionary principle, that seems a very good idea. But unless the IPCC is way wrong, we're going to have global temperature rises across the whole of this century, at least, irrespective of sunspots, Earth's orbit, passing asteroid clouds or whatever.

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More of Kim Dotcom's booty released by court

johnB

Re: Hmmm

No, American technical isolation began when they stuck to the imperial system of measurements.

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Climate change behind extreme weather, says NASA

johnB

But only to replace VAT

I've long thought a carbon tax seems both rational & sensible - but only if it replaced VAT as a spending-type tax. Unfortunately, I just don't trust politicians sufficiently to replace VAT. On past form, it would be brought in as yet another additional tax.

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Agriboffins' site downed by DDoS after GM protest

johnB

Luddites

These ninnycompoops seem to want us to move back to the caves. I wish they would.

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Feds propose 50-state ban on mobile use while driving

johnB

Distracted driver

My favourite distracted driver was spotted in Florida. The car was weaving about the Interstate & we decided to put some distance between him and us. As we went by, we noticed the driver was steering with his knees, both hands being needed to eat his bowl of cornflakes.

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Antarctic ice formed at CO2 levels much higher than today's

johnB

CO2 levels

My main problem with the CO2 figures being bandied about is the method of presentation. We're continually given CO2 as 300 or 400 ppm, as if that were a 33% rise. But ppm is a scientific shorthand, used mainly by scientists. In straight numbers, it's a rise from 0.003% of the atmosphere to 0.004%.

It just doesn't seem to ring true that the climate system is so sensitive to such tiny changes in CO2 levels.

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Deep-space travel bad for astronauts' tickers, say boffins

johnB

Nope - some went twice

I thought as you did, it must be 27 (3 X 9), but some astronauts went twice, e.g. IIRC Jim Lovell was on both Apollos 8 & 13.

So 24 is probably correct.

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Panorama stalks alleged stalker's twin brother

johnB

Panorama

Wasn't there a serious program that used that name once ?

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Google founder sinks $45m in toy boat

johnB

He's not the only IT bod that likes the briny

Paul Allen has something approaching an aircraft carrier - with heli pad & submarine launchers.

The Hungarian that invented Excel has a nice 200+ foot cruiser called the SKAT, which also has heli pad & boat doors for the zodiacs. Saw it in Stockholm in May & it looked very desirable. No chance on being allowed on board, unfortunately.

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Civil servants touted ID cards to friends, family as flop loomed

johnB

A good idea ????

What planet is he living on?

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Green light red face

johnB

It's all down to communications

The trouble with the formal approaches is that they tend to focus attention on completion of paperwork - progress reports, red / amber / green "flags" and the like - which diverts the PM's time & attention away from actually understanding what the reportees are actually doing. If the PM can't or won't interpret just what he / she's being told against the cold light of reality then the project will fail, no matter how many interim targets are allegedly met.

If the PM actually understands what he / she's being told - irrespective of formal targets - then it's much more likely the project will proceed to successful completion. The formal approaches only work when they are used as an aide where appropriate, & not an end in themselves.

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Project Champion Report misses targets

johnB

Jacqui Smith

Further comment is superfluous

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USB stick with anti-terror training found outside police station

johnB

Yet again...

Yet again sloppy security from those who should know better.

Why are DVD/CD drives & USB ports even available to users ? Just superglue the lot & the problem disappears.

Leaving only laptops, Blackberrys & smartphones to be left in wine bars, trains, etc.

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HMRC issues CD-rom alert to employers

johnB

Intranet based app??

Intranet-based ? Que?

This is a CD-ROM sent out to employers by HMRC. Intranet isn't relevant.

And the system is donkeys years old (which presumably is why they are replacing it with a web-based app) - when it was invented, this new-fangled interweb thingy was just a geek's wet dream.

The "autoupdate" is a user spotting an error that's slipped by QA/QC & reporting it to HMRC. Who then have to decide if it's worth doing anything about.

More akin to an error in a published book.

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HMRC staff fired for racism over benefits

johnB
Big Brother

Not the outfit I knew

This is soo sad. When I worked for HMRC we were bombarded with compulsory "diversity" courses & awareness events. I really wouldn't think anyone within HMRC would behave in this manner (or be so stupid as to think they wouldn't be caught).

And, Mr AC, HMRC mgt take extreme umbridge to any of their staff who are not 100% honest. Just because you may not like what they tell you (esp in relation to IR35), that doesn't justify the "nine bob bit" slur.

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Microsoft ends Office lovers' employee discount program

johnB

Re: Or alternatively

Maybe because they don't want software that crashes repeatedly & runs like treacle ?

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UK.gov's phone and net snooping hits record high

johnB
Black Helicopters

And what was the return ?

Pity we're not informed as to how many of these intercepts resulted in successful prosecutions. I'd hazard a guess that the answer is "not many", because if they had been successful, the results would be trumpeted from the rooftops.

The suspicion is that it's just prurient, ineffective snooping, achieving very little other than wasting police, etc., time

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BCS votes to keep spending secret

johnB

What is the point of this lot ?

I've never figured out just what the BCS are supposd to do or be about.

I first came across them in the 1970's & couldn't figure out what they were doing for me then, a lowly programmer.

Things haven't changed since - I've never come across any evidence that they have any relevance to workers or managers in IT.

I just don't see the point of them.

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Cash woes hold back National Insurance IT improvements

johnB

Hard to see how microfiches are going to go

It's hard to see how HMRC are going to get rid of microfiches at all - they've been recording up to 20M employees pay, tax & NI details per year onto microfiche for decades.(Although under electronic submission of employee data it's probably stopped now). Whilst it would no doubt be useful to transfer the lot to an electronic format, the chances of money under any foreseeable gov't being made available to do that must be pretty close to zero. The costs would be enormous & in lots of cases, human intervention would be needed to interpret images, giving rise to further occasions of error. So they'd still need to retain the originals, as actual copies of the source documents.

The problem that the NI office face is that they need to keep data going back to 1948 (start of NI [aka "Social Security] in the UK), so the data mountain just keeps growing.

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Non-Flash video surges onto the web

johnB

A long overdue death

The quicker Flash dies the better IMHO.

Buggy, slow & used by learner programmers to impress ignorant management. Looks great on the in-house Intranet, runs like a soporific tortoise on the Internet.

In 99% of cases it detracts from the user experience. And anything that Adobe has had it's hands on seems to be associated with crashes & weird PC behaviour.

</rant>

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DVLA off-road system seriously off-message

johnB
Big Brother

Just another civil service outfit

As usual with gov't dept's, things are organised for their benefit, not the customers.

My late stepmother died & I was warned that I could either a) tax her vehicle, or b) SORN it. Both required her signature - a bit tricky.

No third option - they clearly hadn't even thought of such an event happening, although it must be a relatively common thing to occur. Brainless, just brainless.

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BSkyB yanks more cash from HP's hide

johnB

EDS - unhappy customer - shurely not

EDS: customer satisfaction

NIRS ring any bells ?

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NatWest suffers calamitous online banking breakdown

johnB

MBNA as well

MBNA have just told me I can't log in as their systems are down for maintenance - on PAYDAY ?!?!

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BBC to cull radio stations, halve websites in painful biz review

johnB
Megaphone

My 2-point Plan...

for the beeb to save money is simple:

Only send one reporter to cover an event. There's no need to send journos from various parts of the organisation.

Dump the pointless local radio stations. The aural wallpaper they churn out is well duplicated by the commercial sector.

John

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Wreck of 1930s flying aircraft carrier dubbed 'historic'

johnB

Just amazing

I saw some newsreel footage of one of these 'ships a few years ago & it was simply awesome. It semed - and still seems - an ideal way to patrol long seaboards.

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Multi-million investment hints at UK battery swap shops

johnB

What about partially-used batteries?

It sounds simple to swap over an exhausted battery pack for a fully charged pack, but in reality the old pack will always have some residual charge - else how did you get to the station?

So some means needs to be incorporated to give the driver credit for the unused charge. This is never mentioned - is it a practical possibility ?

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Can anyone explain the chunnel fiasco?

johnB

Railways

The standard criticism of railways is that they take you from where you don't live to where you don't work.

Thanks to this incompetent bunch, even that's beyond them.

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US politico calls for cancer warning on cell phones

johnB

The Case is Overwhelming, M'Lud

Ever seen a banker without a mobile clamped to his / her ear ?

'Nuff said.

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Gov retreats on vetting database but ain't climbing down

johnB
FAIL

Useless Parliament bypassed again

The bit I don't like about this is that Ed Balls has just decided to change what was agreed to by Parliament. Nu Labour are recidivists in removing as much of Parliament's authority as it can get away with & move powers to ministers. This is just a continuing example of them doing it.

Mind, given that many MP's seem to think their job is inventing expenses claims rather than scrutinising legislation, maybe we shouldn't be surprised when yet more dross like this gets a FAIL as soon as it gets anywhere close to reality.

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Eat frozen food and avoid line-caught fish, says eco study

johnB

Farmer protectionism

And here's cynical old me thinking that Food Miles were nothing more than an attempt by our farmers to make us feel guilty about not buying British food, enabling them to wrap protectionism in a nice, cuddly, green blanket.

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Microsoft-tested browser prosecution snares tech giants

johnB
Pirate

Who gains ?

Just what is the point of patents (and copywrights) ?

In the past they may have had a role in defending the heroic lone inventor from the rapacious capitalists. But now all they seem to do is feed lawyers. Ther's no discernable benfit to the user as far as I can see.

Scrap the lot o' them, I say.

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Court filings are protected by copyright, says lawyer

johnB
Flame

Pure greed

Greed, pure greed. They've already been (very) well paid once to do the work & now want paying again.

As Court dicta effectively change Statute law, and such dicta are based in part on lawyer's submissions, this argument adds up to a tax on the citizen seeking to read the laws he / she is bound by. Just pure greed from an already very well remunerated section of society.

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Microsoft's Windows 7 price gamble - and why it's flawed

johnB

But what's in it for me ?

W95 gave me a half-way decent screen interface;

W98 gave me easy access to the Interweb;

XP gave me the use of USB (or was it the other way round ?);

Vista gave me...a prettier screen ?

What's the in it for me to migrate to W8 ?

Please will someone (preferably not from MS) tell me ?

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johnB

Did I say W8?

If so I meant W7.

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Pressure group demands UK apes China net filter plan

johnB
Coat

Typical busybody

"There have been cases..." Typical politician use of unsupported "data" to justify sticking their nose into other peoples business.

It's a pity these self-appointed busybodies can't get it through their skulls that if someone wants porn, they'll find it. Always could, always will.

But that doesn't justify interfering with the other 99%+ of the populations PC's.

And even if the technology could be effectively fitted (unlikely), who would determine what was OK & what was not ? Wacki Jacki's hubby ?

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IR35 tax is a huge failure

johnB
Stop

Don't forget the timing

Don't forget that IR35 also gets tax into the govt's coffers - via PAYE - faster than as a dividend from the service company. But that's only a tiny crumb of comfort for Gordo. The whole IR35 is now exposed as just another anti-business ploy.

Yet another example of how the civil service will come up with any figure to support whatever bandwagon is currently being spun by useless ministers.

Roll on the election. The sooner the better.

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