* Posts by Lee Dowling

1188 posts • joined 28 Mar 2007

UK electric car funding - another subsidy for the RICH, say MPs

Lee Dowling
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Re: Charging

I love the way people talk as if miles of heavy-duty high-current-carrying copper along public streets is not only free, but unlikely to be the target of thieves either.

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So many devices, so little policy

Lee Dowling
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"So what are you waiting for?"

People to give up on the idea of BYOD except in the certain limited scenarios that we've always allowed anyway?

Someone obviously didn't read the comments on the previous announcement of this.

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iPhone 5 sleuth work points to $199 component costs

Lee Dowling
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Re: "any large-scale product that isn't making about 50% markup is probably

You said it yourself: A loss leader.

Fine if you are going to break into a new market and capture a huge portion and provide a boost to your other businesses. MS do it all the time (e.g. XBox is pretty non-profitable and always has been). That's not what we're discussing here, because such companies are putting HUGE MARKUPS on other things that are giving them the money to voluntarily do that.

It's like saying that giving out coupons proves me wrong. It doesn't. You get the ability to give out coupons BECAUSE you've put a markup on your previous and current normal products that will sell whether you give out a coupon or not.

Apple aren't breaking into a new market. Apple aren't trying to entice people to try something new that they might want to pay for. Everyone KNOWS what an iPod/iPad/iPhone is and does. Of course you can slice the price to nothing, but then you WON'T MAKE A PROFIT and where else are you going to. Amazon made a profit by selling books to the people with their subsidised devices while also making 100's of times that profit from their core business. This is Apple's core business now, and they already do sell content on all their products, as an integral part of their business, and still sell their products at huge markups (Why? Because people PAY that markup! As I said, if they'll pay it without grumbling, you'll do it! Want an example of grumbling? MS's recent new hardware).

A better example for yourself would have been the console markets (where Nintendo, who have NEVER sold at anything below profit have only just made their first loss ever in 120 years!) which fluctuate madly and are filled with below-cost-price hardware now. When XBox's first came out, people were ripping the drives out of them and turning them into cheap PC's!

You will price markup on your best-sellers to be around 50% at least. Apple do slightly more than that, I should think. And then you can give away whatever sidelines you want until they are an established business BECAUSE you were making as-much-again of your costs on every device you sold in pure profit prior to that. And, guess what happens when something like the Kindle takes off? The early models are "phased out", the stock is shifted, and then the newer models make them profit. Shocking that.

If Apple cuts the cost of the iPad by £100, it'll sell slightly more. We don't know how much without them actually doing it. I still wouldn't touch it, for instance. But will it sell enough compared to not doing so and selling less models at that higher price? Very, very doubtful. Apple can't capture the market. At one time they WERE the market, in smartphones, tablets and music devices. That's no longer true. The market doesn't stay captured for long and you better hope to come out of it with money on the other side or you lose once the competition catch up (a year or two at best). And the best way to do that is to either do a small loss-leader as a secondary product while generating tons of cash elsewhere on your huge markups, or to make sure you sell at a normal, business mark-up all the time.

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Lee Dowling
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Sorry, but any large-scale product that isn't making about 50% markup is probably going to be short-lived.

It's simple business. It takes people a lot of time to get their head around it but that Coke you bought in a pub? It probably cost about 10p to pour, even it if wasn't watered down horrendously. Shocked? My father-in-law used to run several popular pubs and a restaurant in Cornwall for years and they would make more money out of the fruit machine in the pub than just about anything else (mainly because it's almost all profit). That hot-dog stand you bought a hot-dog from? You just gave him about five times what it cost him to make that hot-dog.

It took me years to believe it, back when I was self-employed, but the people who told me are right. You charge what people will pay and if they don't complain that it's steep, you can charge what you like. Selling items? Sell them at 50% markup to start with and adjust accordingly. Making money from eBay? Check exactly what you set as the minimum because, believe you me, you will make a loss if you just set it at a price you "think" is right (after packaging, time, printing out invoices, driving to the post office, posting, etc.)

As a full-time employed person, with good raises every year, I've still not managed to claw my way back up to what I was earning when I was doing the same job, self-employed, setting my own prices, working for the same places, and only working 2.5 days a week. Nothing to do with inflation, economic hard times, customer availability or anything else (I am still as in-demand as previously, and I only changed because I needed more guarantee of stability for a mortgage/family).

Business is about profit. That's not a crass, over-arching target to make all businessmen ruthless bean-counters. But if you're making a product and NOT selling it for twice what it cost you, you're playing at business. You need to fund the R&D for the next product, pay wages even if sales drop off, expand, source stock, advertise and everything else EVEN IF you're selling millions of your current product. It will not last and if you don't "save" as conscientiously as a person with savings, then you won't be able to stay in business for very long.

Seriously, people. Cover stock. Cover assembly. Cover testing. Cover distribution. Cover all the things to get the product out there. Then double the price when you actually sell it. Anything else is just selling your company short and doing your staff a disservice.

You really think it costs MacDonald's 99p to make that cheeseburger? If it's more than 40p per unit, I'll be amazed.

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ASA keelhauls Ebuyer AGAIN - this time for dodgy disk ad

Lee Dowling
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Re: Sigh

Why?

Look at the sanction they got. They're not allowed to run an old advert again. That's it. End of. Case closed.

And yet they probably stung quite a lot of people out of unnecessary warranties and those who thought they were getting a good deal.

The ASA is a toothless watchdog. All bark, no bite. And not once has anyone ever really cared about whether they could rerun an ad after it's already finished showing.

Fine 'em the price of however many customers took up the offer times by the amount they paid over the odds, times by a decent factor like 5 or 10, and then you'd get decent adverts and companies NOT pulling these stunts.

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So many devices, so little policy

Lee Dowling
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BYOD - problems with security, accessibility, compatibility, disgruntled employees (you want me to pay for the item that I need to do my job properly? Are you kidding me?), etc.

Of course it's cost-saving. But you could just use methods that everyone else has for decades and supply your employees with the proper tools to do the job.

I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole as an employee or an employer. You have no idea where your data ends up (don't tell me you track it, because you can't), you have no idea what's stored on your employees devices when they leave, you have no right to demand search/seizure of that hardware if they run off with your data, you have no way to control what they bring in with them, you are liable if they break it while in the course of their work ("Hey, I need a new iPad... I know... I'll take it into work and claim on their insurance!"), you are liable if it blows up and injures someone else who works there (think Dell laptop batteries, etc.), you are liable if it's stolen, you are liable if it breaks the network. Additionally your employees might think it "cool" to access on their smartphone, until it interferes with their work, until they are MADE to use it because they've proved they can use it even if it's not the best tool for the job (i.e. "I couldn't read my email because the desktop PC broke" - "So, what about your phone that we KNOW works because you used it to get your email last year?"), until their normal tools suffer (or even disappear) for the sake of "allowing" them to bring in their own devices, until they realise they are footing the bill for something they use mainly at work and for work purposes (and work out the taxation on that when it's part-personal, part-business).

BYOD is just a nightmare from every angle. There's nothing wrong with being able to plug in any device you like and doing business (that's just sensible standards-compliance). There is something wrong with "approving" the use of devices that you have zero control or ownership over.

Not even a policeman can make me delete a photo or other data from my personal phone without formal confiscations and court orders. What makes you think that's a sensible path to follow with company data?

BYOD is just a management fad that nobody thought through. Literally pie-in-the-sky. What next? Bring your own desk? Just as stupid and just as many pitfalls.

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Pushdo botnet's smokescreen traffic hits legitimate websites

Lee Dowling
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"Let's hit our botnet by using HTTP requests with a constant string to a small group of static addresses."

Well done, botnet writers. That'll help you evade people watching your traffic for sure!

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Mobile phones still failing to kill people – Nordic scientists

Lee Dowling
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Re: Heard in a pub

Sounds like a job for the Mythbusters to me...

I just wanna see the egg exploding when they point an over-specced industrial-size microwave at it.

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Lee Dowling
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News isn't really news if it doesn't surprise anybody.

I work in schools and some of them have been the subject of protest because they allowed mobile phone masts onto their sites.

Strangely, the fuss died down quite quickly once things like 3G access came along and the parents could start googling the school in the morning to see what time their little darling has to be there, texting the school to say they'll be late, looking up the school Twitter account (I kid you not) for whether the after-school hockey match is cancelled, etc.

The summary is: If you think the phones are dangerous, don't put one to your ear and you'll be fine. If you think the masts are dangerous, there's not much you can do about it except measure it (and then you'll find that the radio transmitters for things like airports, minicab firms and TV/radio SWAMP them in terms of emitted power).

Inverse square law, people. If it's not presenting a danger to you while pressed next to your head, then it's certainly not doing anything to you when it's hundreds of metres away. And if it was presenting a danger to you, you'd be dead by now giving the sheer amount of them sold every day. And you'd also have died because of radio, TV, minicab firms and even just standing near an unshielded piece of electronic equipment for the last 70 years.

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Budget-slash fest shaves 10% off IT mercenaries' day rates

Lee Dowling
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I never got the "we run 1970's cobol because it ain't broke" mantra.

Sure, you don't fix it. But you should damn well have parallel systems that perform the same functions in testing and have them there for decades to check their results always tally with the old junk. If you do it right, that means that should anything happen, you can just switch to the new code and carry on.

It reminds me of the switchover for Dabs.com who started out using code hand-written by the founder and then ended up doing an "upgrade" the other year to something that couldn't cope and didn't work. Why "switchover" at any point when you should be doing a smooth transition with result-testing to make sure everything tallies no matter which code you used? And if you do smooth transitions all the time, it's not a problem to upgrade systems, staff, skills whenever you want because nothing goes into service until it's tested and nothing goes out of service because you have no-one who knows how it works.

You're honestly telling me that it's cost effective to run mainframes on decades old code that nobody understands and then paying a fortune every time even the most minor thing goes wrong, and then paying HUGE transition costs on a short schedule if you absolutely must upgrade because of the problems, rather than just adding X% to costs, cycling staff (no old-timers who cost a fortune and are necessary to keep things running), cycling hardware, etc.?

I thought these people were supposed to know about money? I thought these systems were supposed to be critical.

Running on Cobol because "it worked" is not something to be applauded. That's like NASA still using the Apollo launch computers at ground control to handle their latest launches. Where you absolutely CANNOT upgrade, it's excusable, but come on.

And, I'm sorry, but the whole "we have to run batches overnight" crap was something that seemed outdated back when I sat my A-Level Computer Science exam years ago. You're honestly telling me that your systems can't cope in real-time nowadays? Really? How comes my "amount available" is instantly reflective of every online transaction within seconds then, but I don't see my "balance" decrease until a week later? Or is it just a way to find new methods of telling people they're overdrawn for a microsecond?

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Freeview kit to require retune tomorrow

Lee Dowling
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Re: CV says flexible individual

Nobody asks you to shift all your IP addresses around just because the new numbering scheme is nicer.

If they did, they'd get the same reaction, even though it's just a "retune" of the DHCP leases and a reprogramming of your lists, favourites, shortcuts, intra-PC links, etc.

Renumbering is a STUPID idea. Who cares what number it is? I need to be able to assign MY numbers to a channel that NEVER change and always follow whatever real channel it ends up on. When channels move, I shouldn't even NOTICE, let alone have to mentally change all the numbers I've remembered (because typing in a three-digit number is INFINITELY faster than messing about with Favourites, Channel Up / Down, or the EPG.

Let me define my OWN number set, where I can throw all the shopping, music, movie and adult junk at the end and just have all my favourite channels on 1-100 and sod the rest. And then when you "retune", my box should pick up what's happened and NEVER CHANGE A SINGLE NUMBER that I've assigned and still let me end up on the same channel.

I have the same bug-bear with phone numbers, having lived through 01 -> 071 / 081 -> 0171 / 0181 -> 020 7 / 020 8 -> god knows what. The whole POINT of the numbers if quick reference to me and so that I don't have to type in the frequency, multiplex, etc. of a channel. If they shuffle every six months, they are completely pointless.

Of course, from FreeView's point of view it's like Tesco's shuffling their layout every year or so. Maybe you'll stumble across a new product you like while you're whinging about how difficult it is to find everything again.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: re: Why Not

Really? Has *anyone* ever watched the shopping channels (for anything other than entertainment, at least) since we first got them on Sky Analogue all those years ago when I was still a kid?

Overpriced tat. Complicated buying structures. Expensive postage and phone lines. Over-eager American salesmen demonstrating how wonderful a ceramic frying pan "holds heat for longer" without any mention that it takes longer to warm up (ya cannae beat the laws of physics, Jim) with THE most false product appraisals and "smiles" ever in the history of the planet.

I watch them to play the "contradiction" game - where you and a friend sit and watch them (presumably when NOTHING else is on) and point out the scientific flaws and what they actually mean when they say "It's 50% better" or whatever and point out the holes in their sales pitches.

Apart from that, who on Earth would watch them? It's like a Betterware catalogue on the TV, but not quite so classy.

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Windows 8: Never mind Office, it's for GAMING

Lee Dowling
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Re: @Sutekh: GFWL

Actually, it depends what you play. If you're part of the MW3 crowd, yeah, you'll struggle.

But almost all Valve titless can and probably will be ported (given that Valve/Steam are basically the same company). Hell, it'd be worth trying it on Linux just to play HL2:Ep3 a few days early if they really wanted to push that side of Steam.

And then you have the myriad indie titles, thousands of them, that are offered singly, through humble bundles, etc., almost all of whom already support Linux versions (e.g. Altitude, Dungeons of Dredmor, Gish, etc.). Hell, there's DOSBox-based games galore on there from the classic titles.

Sure, maybe not everything will come over, but you won't be staring at an empty game list. At least, not much worse than an XP users (and I've never bought a game that *demanded* DX10 because it just reeks of bad programming to me, given that it does little of value that isn't achievable on DX9).

Even ignoring that, quite a lot is "Wine-able" software even on the AAA list. You see bugs filed against Wine for games within seconds of them being released.

Linux drivers? The biggest impetus to AMD/nVidia to pull their fingers out might be a multi-million dollar games store running their client on Linux desktops, for example.

It's an obstacle, but no more an obstacle than, say, trying to get a GfWL game working from a bare-bones install (I just had that fun on Windows 7). And any progress is progress. Personally, I think I'd download Steam on a Linux machine just to finally revel in the thing I've been asking for for nearly a decade now and could never understand why they don't didn't it.

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RIPE NCC handing out last European IPv4 addresses

Lee Dowling
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Re: Welcome to the club

The bigger question is: Why do still almost all websites and internet services support only IPv4, and why do most ISP's still not offer proper IPv6 support?

Running out of space apparently means NOTHING to these hosting outfits and ISP's. Nothing at all. Because they still don't offer even the simplest IPv6 accessibility. And they've been warned for years.

Now, I'm with a hosting firm that offers IPv6 IP's on even their basic £10/month account if you want one. You click a request button and, bam, it gives you an address. Trouble is that it does exactly that for IPv4 as well and you can get 5 consecutive addresses, no questions asked. The fact that they're consecutive tells me that they actually allocate 5 to each customer anyway.

It honestly and truly looks like people won't give a damn (even the techy people, who are supposed to be leading the way and reading things like The Reg and Slashdot, neither of which offer AAAA records!) until they can't get an address. Especially when the doomsayers have been saying for years that we are running out, they're just not going to listen until there's none left and then they'll face some awkward questions like "Why can't we buy a website that's accessible to 99% of our customers who only use IPv4 still because that's all their ISP/router offers them?".

And for all the scaremongering, those leading the charge and reporting the shortages are the worst example: bbc.co.uk, theregister.co.uk, slashdot.org, etc. do not have AAAA records and even google's IPv6 requires your ISP to be "approved" by them for compatibility before they open it up to you. Is it hard to publish an AAAA record for a website? Not really. Certainly nothing compared to deploying a script of some kind. But nobody does it.

Sort it out, websites and other Internet services, and then maybe we can all be high-and-mighty about the end of IPv4 rather than sheepishly reporting it and hoping it doesn't happen.

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Apple 'hasn't really run out of iPhone 5s AT ALL'

Lee Dowling
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Re: Didn't people learn ANYTHING from Nintendo Wii?

Strange. I'm pretty sure there were at least 5 years where you could just walk into any store at any time and buy a Wii. Even at Christmas (though it became more tricky, it was certainly nowhere near impossible).

Maybe for the FIRST Christmas, but that people were still buying them years later, even after lots of other competitors were released and most people had one, might just point at them actually being a popular device rather than some propaganda sale.

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Boffins receive quantum key from moving plane

Lee Dowling
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Re: "far too slow for a data channel"?

And isn't the point that the data channel doesn't have to be THE communication you want to send? Set up an encryption key using the data channel, then broadcast encrypted data over the public airwaves if you like. Because there was no "sniffable" handshake and agreement on keys, data encrypted with that key is 100% secure.

All you need to do is transmit the KEYS so they can't be sniffed / interfered with. And making sure the keys are sufficiently large. 120 bits per second, call it twenty seconds to exchange keys (2400 bits), do that once a day and keep transmitting at GB/s using the agreed-upon key over more conventional channels.

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Error found in climate modelling: Too many droughts predicted

Lee Dowling
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Re: The A word strikes again.

Then maybe we should stop trying to base world-wide policies on them at all, then.

Climate change science/politics currently boils down to "We're all heading for disaster, use less plastic bags and change your bulbs for CFL - by the way, we have no idea if that's true or not". We have no idea what's happening, how much, or how to fix it if it is.

We could literally play this game for 10 thousands years and never see significant climate change and praise everyone who's ever used a Bag for Life for their work in overcoming climate change when actually it made zero difference whatsoever and they could have burned a million plastic bags a year each and never affected the climate - that's not to say it's "healthy", just that we have ZERO idea if it affects climate or not. Literally. Zero. Nothing. Nada.

Or we could just say "Damned if I know. Let's not form world economic policy around complete speculation and worry about bigger things that we *CAN* prove are detrimental and fix them now, like oil running out and the atmosphere being polluted rather than what might happen if an iceberg may/may not break off thousands of miles away within the next thousand years and potentially wipe us out / do nothing at all but provide us with some large ice cubes."

Hell, to me personally, I think we're better spending money at the moment looking for Earth-killing asteroids than anything directly related to solely climate change (which is a poor excuse to use when things like oil are running out and will be millions of times more devastating within my lifetime if left unchecked). We stand a better chance of spotting something that MIGHT wipe us out, prove whether or not it will before it comes, and still be around to say "I told you so" whichever outcome occurs.

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The perfect CRIME? New HTTPS web hijack attack explained

Lee Dowling
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So if I have my non-HTTP traffic intercepted and modified by a piece of external hardware with complete sniffing capability over all the connections my computer makes, and then it modifies the HTML in those sites to include malicious Javascript (hell, by that point, they probably have my computer anyway, but let's press on...), that then brute-force tries this technique to reveal an locally-stored authentication cookie for another website that I go on (spotted by the external machine noticing the size of said brute-force requests changing), it might let them log into that HTTPS website as me.

Except most sites don't store such cookies (because of such risks as people who can log in as you being able to "automatically" get into your bank account just by sitting on the right computer) and let's be honest, if you're in the position where someone can sniff ALL your connections and inject malicious Javascript into a non-HTTPS site that you visit, it's already game over.

It seems hugely over-hyped and far-fetched for a flaw in what is obviously XSS measures in browsers (of which neither IE nor Opera are susceptible anyway, and when IE isn't susceptible you KNOW you had some dodgy logic in there in the first place) - why can Javascript push HTTPS requests to domains foreign to the original Javascript arbitrarily (I assume this is one of the "wonders" of being able to include Javascript libraries from arbitrary domains in your HTML that should NEVER have been allowed in the first place) and nobody running the browser notice when it fails thousands of times (shouldn't that pop up a connection error to the user, anyway)?

Like BEAST, it's a nice theoretical hit if you are really determined and have an extraordinarily dumb browser on the other end, but otherwise it's completely useless. And it's a side-channel attack. At no point does it actually attack the actual TLS except (possibly) in a kind-of-obscure "known plaintext attack" on the encrypted data (if you have compression turned on, and it does what you expect, which I'm guessing is NOT a given). And it's trivially defeated - again - by using a proper SSL library that pads out such things if they are in any way reflective of the original unencrypted data.

I'm fast becoming tired of the hype surrounding what is basically a "stupid browsers allow remote injected malicious code to do stupid things" attack like BEAST was.

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Humanity facing GLOBAL BACON SHORTAGE

Lee Dowling
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Forgive me - if everyone has to abide by the new rules, why do prices have to increase? Because all your competitors have to do the same anyway, and the only loss will be the cost of the new procedures/equipment spread over your ENTIRE sales for the year. Are we seriously talking more than a percent or two?

And, surely, if we import most of our bacon now we're not really doing it the most cost-effective way anyway. Won't this be a boost for UK farms wanting to farm pigs again?

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EE screams UK iPhone 4G exclusive, rest of pack sobs quietly

Lee Dowling
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Re: Sorry for the dumb question...

You already ARE on Everything Everywhere. They own Orange and T-Mobile.

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Everything Everywhere's 4G: Why I'm sitting this one out

Lee Dowling
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More importantly - are we actually getting what we could out of 3G.

I'm still stuck on a 500Mb / month plan. I'm still waiting to get anywhere near the 28Mbit/s (or even up to 48Mbits) that are capable on deployed, real-world, 3G networks elsewhere.

Like 100Mb fibre broadband, until I have a need to use it, why would I pay for it? As the IT Manager in my workplace, I have slower broadband at home than most of the staff because although by the numbers it's less, I actually get more done over it due to lower contentions and better use of the bandwidth available (i.e. decent caching and no huge Windows Updates and things checking in all the time) and so even end up with gaming pings that few can rival (and, no, I don't have expensive networking junk at home or "killer" network cards - just a nice, silent, stable network). My downloads are timed, scheduled, managed and thus I actually deliberately let them take longer so that I don't interfere with things that are actually important (e.g. SSH sessions, etc.)

So when we get this 4G, AND I have coverage in all my usual haunts, AND I upgrade my phone, AND presumably my contract, AND I get unlimited downloads (or some useful figure that can't be measured easily in CD's/month), AND I find a use for it on my phone rather than my home network, AND it's a reasonable price, then maybe I'll look into it.

Of course, that's not their target market - their target market is people who make a point of telling you "I've got the latest iPad" or whatever. To which my reply is normally "Really? I've could have bought 5 cheap or two decent Android tablets for the same price and still have change."

Personally, 3G is more than good enough. Hell, I've streamed TV on it and the only reason that wouldn't work is because of artificial bandwidth limits, artificial "QoS" and just plain ignorance on the part of the telcos.

Don't give me 4G. Let me use Skype without having to fight against you. Let me download things so long as I don't max out the connection all day long. Or sod all that - let me actually have coverage in those places in the UK where you STILL can't get even GSM.

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LOHAN straps on satellite comms capability

Lee Dowling
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To answer my own question: Apparently, for the RockBlock, the messaging goes via some sort of email gateway at RockBlock. Send/recieve messages via email with just a single device, by the look of it.

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Lee Dowling
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I was honestly expecting the cost of that device to be exorbitant but the website suggest not. Hell, you can barely get GSM/SMS connectivity in an embedded device for the prices they charge.

£159 for the device. £8/month subscription (no annual contract!). 12p per credit (down to 4p in bulk). That's seriously competitive with SMS devices. Hell, I might even buy one to add onto my in-car Raspberry Pi project. How does the messaging work, though? I assume you need two devices to send messages to each other, but even so - that's still quite good.

Might have to rock up to Brentwood next time I'm there and see the kit for myself if that's possible.

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What a card: Brit boffin Alan Turing stars in Monopoly tribute set

Lee Dowling
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Re: Anti-malware and safe browsing

The military birthplace of computing by pure mathematical analysis of world-vital life-saving work, releasing a collection of programs to (poorly) deal with the bad programming, atrocious security, stupid users ("I'll just click OK") that infest modern programming and computing by scanning for signatures of known-bad files (unreliable and inaccurate and constantly requiring update)?

Or to produce software to do the same for websites (face it, that's all "child nanny" software is - antivirus with a different target and platform, and still playing a never-ending, unwinnable game)?

God, I think Turing would turn in his grave. I know I would. Hell, I'd dig a grave just to turn in it if necessary.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Let's do better

Hell, even Cluedo would have been closer - collect pieces of messages that logically can only have X amount of causes and narrow them down. Super Cluedo Challenge's style of gameplay would have been ideally suited with it's coded cards, multiple gameplay elements, and with a "murderer" -> "code-breaker" and "clues" -> "pieces of the code" type revamp (and is still an interesting game to play years after they stopped making the damn thing despite it being the best ever variation of that particular game). Couple that with your "Enigma-esque" idea and you have to do a bit of maths but I'm sure you could make a decent game out of "breaking the code".

Monopoly doesn't seem to suit. At all.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Go to Jail

Slightly sick, but yes. That's more accurate.

I'm torn here. Recognition of Turing (FINALLY!) is welcome, but I'm not sure that rebranding Monopoly so he can join the ranks of Manchester United and just about every town, football club and large group (e.g. National Trust) in the UK is really a sensible next step.

I'd probably buy a code-breaking board game of some description from Bletchley Park. Monopoly with a vague Turing-link? Not so sure. And I pride myself as a collector of odd/unusual board games, especially those with mathematically "nice" play styles, am a computer nerd, and come from an educational background that I tried my hardest to focus on maths and cryptography (and, thus, Turing is a bit of an idol).

If it raises money, okay. But there's a point where we start producing commercial tat and losing the message.

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Google skids car insurance comparison engine onto rivals' lawn

Lee Dowling
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Re: Let me fix that.

If there are two, then I'm going to start a price comparison comparison comparison site so users can get the best deal from both of them!

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Have used...

"Just checked quinn direct out and they wanted to charge me £1022 for the year!!!"

And you just proved my point. For myself, they are still 10-50% off any quote I get. This, in itself, shows that each individual gets a different handling by each company depending on what that company prefers to insure and how they go about it. This is why there (used to?) be companies that only insured women, or older drivers, etc.

Old car, new car, old driver, new driver, no points on license, points on license, years of NCD, no NCD, 3rd party, full-com, etc. etc. etc.

Which in itself shows just how much price comparison sites are worth. Because the insurer that gives your mate a humongously expensive quote (like yours) might give me the best quote I can get anywhere else (like me!). And if you don't phone round all the insurers, you can't tell what they are going to charge you at all.

My boss was on the phone to his insurer's only the other day. After years of loyal service, they'd whacked up his quotes so he's went on a phone-round and got about 20% off the price just by negotiating with the insurer in question. But he'd already gone on a price comparison site and found something even cheaper too. Companies vary and some of them whack prices up when times are hard for them (which might be because they're being undercut by others!), or for certain customers, or even drop prices BECAUSE YOU ASK.

You can phone round 150-odd companies and play through the games if you like, spending hours on the phone which is worth more to me than any commission a comparison site might take, or you can use a price comparison site to find a really niche company that you'd never heard of and would never consider phoning and get the cheapest quote ever (like I did!). Everyone is different, and that's why price comparison sites exist. With your insurer, whoever they are so long as they're anybody that I've ever heard of and therefore checked, I would be paying 20% more than I am now. But I bet a price comparison site would find you something cheaper than what you're on now if you kept using them.

Swings and roundabouts.

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Have used...

I used one when I first passed my test (too old to mention, but just had no interest in driving up until then!) and it saved me, quite literally, thousands. I could have been there forever and all the "big names" that I'd ever heard of and tried to contact were still quoting ludicrous prices even direct. The place I ended up with, Quinn Direct, is actually in Ireland but still sells valid UK/EU car insurance.

After I found a decent price from a decent company, I stayed with them and I have to admit that NOW, I can't get a better deal on any price comparison site than what the company offer to me automatically every time renewal comes up. If I rang round 20+ companies, I still doubt I would (we're talking literally 50% of the "big name" insurer's quotes).

Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But to be honest, their X% commission is worth it if I don't have to phone around 20+ companies first. At the end of the day, if I work out how much per year I'm spending on the car, that's how much I have to earn to get to work - and if I'd phoned round every insurer that I'd ever heard of, my best quote would still be twice what a price comparison site found for me.

I think they excel in niche cases like mine (older driver with new license and crap car) but they probably pull about even overall. Hell, even the price comparison site you use makes a hell of a difference. Out of the two that have TV adverts that I'd seen, one was consistently 10% dearer, sometimes for the same insurers!

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1
Lee Dowling
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Re: Let me fix that.

Maybe they're going to build a price-comparison-site comparison site. You know, one click and it types your details into all the price comparison sites and finds you the best quote.

3
0

Dutch unleash intelligent robot bins: No ID, no rubbish

Lee Dowling
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"Charging people by the weight of rubbish they produce is an obvious step, and the only one which will make customers demand reductions in packaging. "

Or fly-tip. Or burn it in their garden surreptitiously. Or throw it over the back fence. Or dump it in a river. Or stick it in black bags, drive it across the border and throw it away in another country that doesn't charge. Sure, you'll catch some but if you have to PAY to throw things away and you have no money, what do you do? Do you create a health hazard and break the law, or do you throw it away by other means and break the law? And what if someone throws the rubbish into your garden? Are you going to want to pay to throw it away?

Why are governments so keen to charge us for the stuff we throw away? Isn't that what taxes are supposed to cover? And we *KNOW* what happens with recycled material in the UK, for instance. It was in the Metro just last week. About 90% of it is exported and/or buried. Only a tiny portion is actually recycled (and the export is usually to countries that just landfill and/or recycle very inefficiently once you consider the cost of transporting millions of tons of waste every year).

4
1

There is life after the death of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Start button

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: I too found after some use

I've just got to the point where I'm now forced to use Windows 7. This isn't my "first run" by any means - only the other week I was testing out Windows 8 on touchscreen PC's with a view to a purchase next year.

I tell you now, having been "forced" (i.e. I broke my previous laptop and you only get Windows 7 drivers etc. for things now, especially Optimus graphics) to use Windows 7 the very first thing I actually consciously did was go and download the Classic Shell program mentioned here. My way of working is just incompatible with the new-style menus no matter what the OS (Ubuntu has the same problem now).

Even to the point that I then played with all of the options on that program and turned OFF things like searching through my program lists etc. It was too annoying, and inconsistent as new programs install, to get to a program the same way every time. A nicely organised start menu (which is a rarity among people who don't use computers much but is something of a necessity to me since even Windows 3.1) is quicker, smaller, smarter, more well-organised and logical. It just is.

Literally, while pulling off the data from my old laptop to put onto the new Windows 7 one, I spent more time faffing to find programs than I did anything else. And I've barely got 1% of my software library installed on 7 as yet. In all the HOURS that it took to copy that data over, over several days, with me trying to install things that I needed as and when they cropped up, I took enough of a productivity hit from the new menus to warrant finding a replacement, downloading it, installing it, configuring it, tweaking it, etc. and still make some profit in time.

YOU may like it. I have tried it, several times over several years, for several EXTENDED tests with a view to deploying on hundreds of machines. And I'm telling you that it slows me down and gets in my way.

Don't even get me started on the "Computer" windows which I am really struggling to keep them from looking ugly while still providing the functionality I need.

Everyone has different working processes. So keeping options is a GOOD thing and people who enjoy the new interface can use it and not be hindered by those who don't. Windows 8's interface - I spent ten minutes with a colleague working out how to close a metro app without using the keyboard shortcuts - just takes away options. It's like saying "Sorry, sir? You're used to driving a car where you can move the seat? But we've made a car that has the optimal position already set and unchangeable for every driver!".

My desktop is my desktop. Playing with it and removing features and options is like coming into my office and pushing all my stuff onto the floor. Providing the OPTION hurts no-one, because people DO work differently. Forcing people to use something new because it's "better" is like forcing people to only use electricity for tools, vehicles, heating, etc. because "it can do the job of everything else".

21
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Laugh all you want at 'the cloud' - it'll be worth '$100bn by 2016'

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

And, to be honest, the only people we actually LAUGH at are those that put their personal files or ultra-important business files ONLY on the cloud and then cry when their provider loses it all (or exposes it all via a hack or whatever).

The cloud is just a remote server from a 3rd party. Fancy virtualisation / failover / whatever technology with new names, but that's what it amounts to. There's nothing wrong with that. It's what you DO with it that makes people laugh at you.

Hell, I've seen some FANTASTIC uses of cloud - popular game gets huge amount of people flocking to it all of a sudden, ramp up some more virtual servers and they're handled. Steam's entire distribution network is really a "cloud". But in terms of laughter, it's only the poor fool who uploads all their music collection / every document they make / whatever to the cloud and then expect it to be somehow miraculously undeleteable, or the government department that uses a cheap Indian cloud provider and then are shocked that they've just broken 20 or more Data Protection rules not to mention lost their database because of a datacenter outage.

"Cloud" is a new name for an old concept. Nobody laughs at the concept, because that's what we've always had and used, but people might laugh at the name, its misuse, and people using it who don't even understand what it's supposed to mean.

3
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SSL BEASTie boys develop follow-up 'CRIME' web attack

Lee Dowling
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Re: "Chrome and Firefox are both vulnerable to CRIME"

And what about Opera?

I hate "press releases" like this. There is zero information. You've just told everyone that you're going to announce the release of a flaw which they won't know anything about until you actually release it, and they have no incentive to do anything until you do.

And, when you do, the nefarious people have not only been looking at the area you hint at specifically for the flaw you found, but they will be ready to get it and exploit it (and yet most browser manufacturers will probably wait for months, if at all, before they fix it).

Or you could have just put a patch out and let everyone get onto it at the same time.

Last time, it was actually a flaw in only some implementations SSL (OpenSSL etc.) and didn't affect some people at all. It was also due to crappy implementation of something that people had been warning for years was a bit dodgy and that other implementations had SPECIFICALLY patched for. And even then browsers etc. took months to catch up (and they were only susceptible because they HADN'T kept up with OpenSSL changes in the first place. I suspect that's the same this time around too, rather than some hugely groundbreaking hack that will kill SSL (actually TLS) on the net for everyone.

I think I opt for the "I'm using Opera, chances are they have already fixed it months ago or were never vulnerable to it" line. That's what I'd lay my money on, personally.

Everyone else - well, stop using junky software that can't even be bothered to keep up-to-date with SSL mailing lists and/or basic security patches issued years ago. I believe the flaw for BEAST had been detected and patched 9 YEARS previously in other SSL libraries.

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5

Fox to release movie downloads weeks before discs

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Sounds more like two fingers to Netflix than it does anything USEFUL for consumers.

Digital goes first, so again customers waiting for the DVD get screwed. How about this: SIMULTANEOUS RELEASE. I know it's a hard concept but I'm sure you can work it out in 2012, what with Google Calendar and everything.

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Toothbrush fixes ISS’ stuck bolt

Lee Dowling
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Re: 4 and a half hours to tighten a bolt...

You wouldn't BELIEVE the call-out charge for that distance...

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Lee Dowling
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Re: crappy toolbox....

If you don't want to scare people over the radio, refer to it as "percussive maintenance".

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Lee Dowling
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I do love the way that no matter how much was spent on something nowadays, and how modern the technology and design, eventually the equivalent of a man with a hammer and some duct tape has to go fix it.

Hell, even back in the 70's a complete failure of a critical unit onboard a spacecraft could be repaired and the crew saved by some homebrew technology.

It does seem that the human race is pretty incapable of providing a device that not only works, but has included tools enough and design enough to fix it even if it doesn't. I think that's the biggest difference between nature and man - nature actually provides things that heal, fix, repair, rebuild, regrow, regenerate, compensate, etc. and we just rely on being able to fashion some kind of tool that will bodge it enough until we can replace the whole damn unit.

It's probably going to be our next "era" - technology that repairs itself. More environmentally-friendly, less resources used, longer-lasting devices and the ability to cope with extreme situations with no assistance. But I think we have to find a way to get rid of the business plans behind such projects first, because such devices aren't conducive to direct profit.

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It's time to burn the schedules and seize control of OUR TVs

Lee Dowling
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Re: Eeeh, when I were a lad...

Luxury!

When I was a kid, we had to scribble on bits of paper for days and swish them through an empty cardboard box at 12fps to get a few seconds of "TV".

On good days, Dad would let us turn the light on so we could see what we were doing.

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: my friend's four-year-old

My kid is the same. Even from baby-like times, "computer" was synonymous with "device that plays my favourite video when Daddy presses the button". And TV was the same.

Broadcast TV is all but dead - it's only a matter of time - because I do the same thing myself. If I hear from a friend about something I should watch, I try two episodes. Anything less is potentially skipping something quite good by accidentally hitting a rubbish episode. Anything more means I should go out and buy it for myself. Then I go and buy a boxset.

Waiting for things to come on TV is like a token-ring network, newsgroups, gopher and batched email - dead.

I don't think the alternative is VoD (because that has problems - and pricing - of its own), but just pre-recorded content on personal devices. A bit like music - nobody really listens to the radio for the latest /greatest / favourite songs any more. It's background noise and a nice mixture for those who need something playing. Their music is stored in pre-recorded content on devices they own and they have EVERYTHING they want on there and NOTHING else.

If you hear a song on the radio that you REALLY like, do you a) Go and google somewhere to buy it, b) wait for it to be played again on some radio station?

It's a *good* thing. I'd rather my daughter chose what to watch than watching mind-numbing adverts for things she's NEVER going to get crammed in between programs that she doesn't like, don't hold her attention or I disapprove of. And then, when it is a rainy day, she's quite happy to go watch some pre-approved DVD that I know is "appropriate" for her for the millionth time (hell, I did stuff like that when I was a kid too, even WITH a plethora of TV available) rather than being bored by, and subjected to, blatant commercialism which I might have to "censor"/"audit"/"veto" constantly.

And thus, TV by its very nature, removes its own funding source (advertising) unless it moves onto VoD or ruining pre-recorded media (which is fine - do that, and I'll find a way to UNDO it just like I did for DVD CSS, etc.)

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'World's first' dog to sniff out pilfered cabling is Brit black lab

Lee Dowling
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Re: Um...

And you're telling me that a nose is any different, being a "1D" sensor ("2D" at best), and operating on the principle that the dog that turn their head and see which way smells strongest and then crawl in and out of 3D space to find the target?

When was the last time you "smelled" which direction something came from without turning your head to get more than one reading in 3D space?

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1

Bitcoin exchange shuts after heist

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Bitcoin worked exactly as intended. Someone with access to the wallet keys was able to anonymously and purposefully transfer huge sums of money.

The fact that it was unauthorised (due to lack of security of the wallet) is the problem, not Bitcoin. It's like blaming "credit cards" because you left your card in a restaurant and someone fraudulently charged it.

Actually, I'm impressed that BitCoin hasn't had some trick, or significant security flaw, that made the whole thing collapse anyway. In terms of what it was designed to do, it certainly does it well.

The question is not "Do I trust BitCoin?" at the moment as "Do I trust 3rd parties to hold/trade my Bitcoins?"

13
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Game devs beg UK taxman: Can we pay 30% less?

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

If it's not profitable, stop doing it. It's a very simple business rule.

But there seem to be no shortage of indie programmers, indie studios, smaller companies that are happily making lots of money on everything from smartphones to Steam selling games they've written. If it wasn't profitable, they wouldn't be doing it.

And I can't imagine that video games production results in a significantly large number of jobs etc. in related industries to actually make it a priority for government (yes, Game is gone but that's nothing to do with the lack of UK software developers as much as that bricks-n-mortar games stores are old-hat and behind-the-times).

Seriously, if you need a 30% tax break to write profitable video games (an unnecessary luxury, by any standard), then maybe you shouldn't BE writing video games.

I think, no matter what the government does, the games industry will continue to do what it's always done and nobody will notice any difference. Sure, that means a games publisher or two will be bought out or go out of business once every few months, but that's what's *always* happened since the industry existed and has nothing to do with the tax they pay.

There are a LOT more important industries to support at the moment. I think anything associated with non-educational video games would be at the very bottom of my list.

7
0

'Picture of Dorian Gray' borrowed in 1934 is finally returned

Lee Dowling
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Re: Hmmm...

"Yes, I'm a very slow reader but it's a very good book, I've barely put it down in... Good God, is that the year!?!?!"

3
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'Nutjob' serves half-baked Raspberry PI scam

Lee Dowling
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Re: He's taking his time...

By definition, unless you printed it yourself you wouldn't be able to.

Because buying it would make it "The Daily Steve, with a circulation of precisely two".

9
0

Organic food offers basically no health benefit, boffins find

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Science and allergies

"As far as I know it has not yet been explained why so many children today are allergic to peanuts."

Did your wife eat peanuts when she was pregnant? Because the advice is not to. To absolutely 100% stay away from them.

Did that advice exist 50 years ago? No. Are humans nut-gatherers? Yes, like most of our ape-like ancestors.

So the child grows up in a peanut-free environment and then, shock, horror, has a reaction to peanuts on first exposure when they are 10 or something.

And almost all peanut allergies, of any severity, can be cured by controlled, limited, measured exposure to - guess what - peanuts. The most effective treatment is to literally inject them with tiny, tiny proportions of peanut and gradually build up the dosage until they are "immune" to it. You get people going from certain-death allergies to being able to eat a small bag.

Same as just about everything else in modern life - not enough getting dirty.

Watch those parents who fuss about germs, who swipe the baby's high chair the second they drop anything, who cover their house in hand-gel, wet-wipes, antibacterial soaps, freshener sprays and all the other junk. Their kids will grow up with allergies, asthma, and a range of other conditions related to that.

Watch those parents who follow the "five second rule", and tell kids not to get muddy only when they have their best dress on. They, generally, won't.

I live with a geneticist who has to work in a cleanroom environment all day long. We don't have that crap at home because, and I quote, "your body doesn't need it, only the lab does" and too much exposure to it is what breeds all the bad reactions and poor immune systems. Even an antibacterial handsoap is enough to provoke a rant when we're out. Want to wash your hands? Cold water. Out of a tap, or rub them in the rain. I had to explain to my little'un lately that rain is probably cleaner than anything that comes out of a tap (when was the last time you flushed your water pipes with their manky corroding copper and leakage into the soil?) - they spent the next five minutes "washing my hands in the rain, daddy" and splashing in puddles. Yes, we all got soaked and needed a change of clothes when we got home to feel comfortable. No, none of us died.

A lot of modern "diseases" are down to modern thinking. When was the last time you let your kids get muddy or roll through a field of grass? Now when was the last time they exhibited symptoms of hayfever, asthma, etc.?

12
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Torvalds bellows: 'The GNOME PEOPLE are in TOTAL DENIAL'

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Linux (as a distro, not the kernel) has certainly gone down the MS route of "we know better" with their users. GNOME versions have been laughable and things like Ubuntu's Unity might as well just come with one big red button that says "Press this if you don't know what you're doing" and zero functionality otherwise. I've actually avoided installing Ubuntu just for the same reasons. I *do* know what I'm doing and removing functionality or claiming that a "new way" is somehow better has to be backed up by a LOT of evidence and STILL might not be the best way of working for me.

The kernel, overall, gets this. I can still deploy just about any kernel I like on just about any relatively modern distro I like, and it's very much plug-and-play. I'm sure there are people with MCA/ISA devices that are upset about the removal of that API but, on anything vaguely modern, it "just works" and always has.

It's ironic (and a little backwards) that I now deploy Slackware with a 3.something kernel for my desktops, and Ubuntu LTS for my servers, purely because that maintains the control I want over the things I want. I don't want to faff with installing and resolving dependencies on a server and I don't want to spend HOURS turning off new GUI "paradigms" to get to a basic desktop where I can work.

GNOME always, to me, was second-place because of their so-called "perfection". Their interface was never as clean, as smart, as small, as quick or even as logical as other choices. But it's not just GNOME. Breaking people's systems and changing the way they work attracts derision for a reason - it COSTS to change the way you work. Even if the other way is 0.1% more productive (which it has NEVER been, mostly the opposite), the cost of retraining even yourself might never pay off and lead to mistakes and critical timing going out of the window ("Right, we have 100 desktops, secure them before next week" and, boy, are you in trouble if it takes ten times as long to find the options - if they even exist at all - to do that).

GNOME isn't alone. Even down to command-line utilities like the cdrecord package that decided that everyone should use only SCSI bus numbering to access their SATA DVD-RW caught flak. And rightly so.

It's a lesson that MS will soon learn. Don't annoy the user. Every freedom you take from the user, including the freedom to turn your junk off and configure it how they like, leads to dumber and dumber users (and thus attracts only those dumber users). This is why MS think they have to enforce turning off Autorun for me, 10 years after I did it for myself on every machine I've ever owned.

Linux doesn't want dumb users, particularly. Sure, if they can manage, they are welcome. But every dumbing down leads to more users doing dumb things and less people willing to help fix them or prevent them or work on the coding side of the project at all.

Dear Software-on-my-computer, You do not need to shield me from my computer when I'm running as a normal user. The underlying OS does that. You just need to work. And do what I tell you. And if I tell you to do something, do it (maybe with confirmation if I'm being incredibly dangerous). Not letting me turn off start screens, menus, notifications, sidebars, touch gestures, change hotkeys (can we use Windows-key yet to bring up the "start menu" in some desktop environments?), or even just telling me that you "know better" is a prime way to get me to move onto something else.

I don't care that you have to move software interfaces twenty times (that suggests you design badly, and also that you have no idea how to isolate changes at that level from what the user sees). My desktop is my desktop and I expect it to remain the same over periods of DECADES. It's as rude to change the way I work on my desktop as it is to come into my office and rearrange all my furniture and paperwork. And just as disruptive. Doing it once a year is NOT helping anyone.

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2

TripAdvisor didn't defame hotel by putting it on 'top 10 dirtiest' list

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: @dotavid - hmm

Or people get different experiences, have different expectations and have their own opinions? Or that hotels learn from bad feedback and improve themselves? Or that staff and hotel-quality change over time?

A hotel I stayed in recently was given only two stars, and had reviews saying that the rooms were small and grotty and the staff belligerent. There was more than one "bad" review, and no good ones at all. But the key thing was that the guy in charge replied to them all, even if it was just a "Sorry you were disappointed" response.

I booked it, because it was a last-minute weekend getaway on the Bank Holiday and all I wanted was a room near a friend's house and it was THE last room in the whole damn county, virtually, and it turned out to be a wonderful place with huge, clean rooms, and the guy who ran it was the most lovely and friendly guy ever.

Either a) someone makes up reviews and puts them on the website or b) someone had a different guy, stayed there under a different ownership, has never really stayed in a "grotty" hotel in their life, or was just plain annoyed at something and vented their anger in the form of a vastly exaggerated review.

So much so that I went back on the site and put my own review up. So you now have several entirely opposing reviews. And in the past, I've posted devastating rundowns of problems I've had on the comments sections of hotels / B&B's that had perfect 5-star ratings. Because *I* didn't get a good service from them.

Same thing happens on eBay and Amazon, no doubt, and just about any site that allows ratings. Hell, at my favourite gastro-pub, I often see "complaints" inside the pub from people that think a 3-course meal should arrive within seconds, that the seats outside are near a road (you mean that road you just drove down to get to that pub in the first place? Shocking that!) or that because the guy in charge didn't give them free snacks while they waited 5-10 mins for their starters (on a table of 16!), they nearly started a fight.

Some people are morons and have stupid expectations and don't bother to check things. Hell, I've seen people complain on hotel websites that they "weren't allowed to smoke in the rooms" (which is illegal now!). So polar-opposite reviews do not a conspiracy make. It just means that someone had a bad experience, in their opinion, and someone else didn't, in *their* opinion.

The trick is: Ignore all ratings, stars, and everything else. See what the hoteliers responses are, and if the response is unreasonable, consider just what the stated problem was (and compare to other reviewers). A one-off "there was putrefied flesh dripping from the ceiling" actually means very little unless the hotelier ignores it, or someone else had the same experience.

And, at the end of the day, some poor sod will be the one underneath the bathroom when it leaks and have a soaked luggage while everyone else in the hotel stayed perfectly happily.

It's not about finding a hotel that doesn't have a single reported problem. You will never, ever, ever, ever do that. It's about finding a hotel where, when something goes wrong, they handle it correctly. If I *report* to you that the carpet was filthy or the room smelled or the bathroom only actually had three walls now, I expect you to do something about it. It doesn't really matter how it got like that (it's a public building and the people servicing it are human), what matters is your response to me reporting the problem. And if I don't report the problem until I've gone, how can the hotelier ever do anything about it?

9
0

Phoenix IT Group fesses up to 'accounting irregularities'

Lee Dowling
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Re: Oh?

Most probably looking for some liquid assets.

0
0

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Welcome to the public Internet, where your opinion counts for nothing against seven billion kids.

You want to play a different map? Make your own server where map voting is disabled for everyone else. That's how it was on CS 1.6, how it has been on every game since, and how it will be in the future too. Same for vote-kicking, "Go away, I only want to play with my friends", timewasters, AFK's, TK'ers and everything else.

And there are tons of maps, all being converted over to CS:GO. The problem is that there are too many and most of them are rubbish because it's HARD to make a good, balanced, fun map. The ones that are those things are being converted now and/or are already in place. There may even also be copyright issues (i.e. if someone ELSE made the map, surely you need their permission to convert it to CS:GO unless you want to try to recreate it from scratch?). And 99.9% of the map is actually making it look acceptable - there are a ton of texturing and other problems that would make even the simplest of map conversions look ugly without the original artists going back and retexturing the whole thing in greater detail.

Personally, I don't care about the maps. They are mere details. The maps I know, I've remembered in intricate detail already and they play little part in the game because they are so well balanced and you can just ignore them. Switching to new maps, I lose half my rounds just because I didn't realise you *could* hide up there, or come from behind, or snipe through that gap, or whatever else.

There is one, cast-iron, guaranteed way to solve both your problems. Run your own server. It costs hardly anything (I've never been in a clan but I've *ALWAYS* had my own server for CS 1.6 and CS:CZ), you can stop people voting the map changes and ruining your game, and you can have whatever maps you like on there. And there's nothing more satisfying, when that random idiot joins your server, than just booting them out - no questions asked, no votes required, no other-user participation necessary.

Rule #1 - if random users are annoying you, stop them getting in. Works for spam, port-scans, and idiots on game servers.

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