* Posts by Chris Miller

3216 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Why Theresa May’s hard Brexit might be softer than you think

Chris Miller
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Re: 2 years?

£350 million is, of course, quite wrong. The correct number for our EU membership fee was £373 million a week (in 2014, according to the OBR). That's a gross figure, we get a rebate, and some relatively small further fraction comes back in the form of EU spending in the UK. But we have almost no control over how this will increase in future or what the EU chooses to spend it on.

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Chris Miller
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Re: 2 years?

Mark Carney (no Brexiteer, he) doesn't seem to agree with you regarding the City. Given that more people work in financial services in London than live in the whole of Frankfurt, exactly where do you think they're all going?

The CEO of Lloyds of London was on R4 this lunchtime. talking about their contingency plans as they're now assuming 'passporting' will be lost (they're one of the few large City operations for which it's significant, although even then only 5% of their business comes from continental Europe). They appear to involve two beancounters and a brass plate in Dublin (or possibly Riga).

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Chris Miller
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Re: So it's the Turkish customs union for the UK then

And today's winner of the spit the dummy contest is ... Dan 55!

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AI shoves all in: DeepStack, Libratus poker bots battle Texas Hold 'em pros heads up

Chris Miller
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Re: The use of games to train and test AI is prolific

The rules of Poker really aren't that difficult - working out the odds of drawing to an inside straight does not require advanced mathematics. As I understand it, the skill of pro players lies in their ability to 'read' the others at the table, but this would obviously be difficult facing a computer screen.

So, if the AI is equipped with a video camera and makes deductions such as "Tex rubs his ear when he's bluffing", I'm impressed. Otherwise, not so much.

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Mr Angry pays taxman with five wheelbarrows worth of loose change

Chris Miller
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But he could have been fobbing them off with blanks (although there isn't much point, as blanks would probably cost >1¢ to make). All banks have big machines that can count coins (and reject counterfeits) at high speed.

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Blue sky basic income thinking is b****cks

Chris Miller
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It's a pity you don't still have Tim Worstall to point out the fundamental flaws in this argument far better than I can. But here goes:

There are only two possibilities:

1. We reach a world where all possible human desires can be fulfilled by machine without anyone needing to lift a finger. In which case we would have no need of money, which is basically a mechanism for rationing finite resources. (Fans of Iain M Banks may recognise this scenario.) Personally, I look forward to this Brave New World, but I'm not sure it will come about within the lifetime of anyone now living.

2. There remain unfulfilled human desires, in which case we need to pay others if we want them to work in order to bring them about. This is what usually happens in technological revolutions. Prior to the agricultural revolution, the great majority of humanity lived a hand to mouth existence on the land. Today (in developed countries) only about 1% work in agriculture, the remainder having been displaced by tractors, seed drills and combined harvesters. Yet we don't have huge mobs of unemployed roaming the countryside, do we? They found alternative employment, at first in the factories of the early industrial towns, but these jobs in turn are now being automated away to be replaced by others.

Basic Income is a perfectly sensible idea, BTW, just not for any of the reasons advanced in the article.

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Well, well. Auditors say UK govt procurement body hasn't saved your tax cash

Chris Miller
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Re: Where does all the money go

"I have no fucking idea."

The only correct statement in your diatribe.

FYI: The world's second largest aerospace manufacturer. The world's third largest pharmaceutical manufacturer. Tenth largest car manufacturer by volume (but since ahead of us in the table are China, India and S Korea, I suspect the results by value might be slightly better). I could go on ...

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Chris Miller
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Re: Economies of scale?

Long, long ago I was taking tea and biccies with the Head of BT Martlesham. He explained that he always sent his PA out to buy the biscuits from the local Tesco: "BT spends £4 million a year on biscuits, but it's cheaper to buy them from Tesco than through central purchasing."

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Chris Miller
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Re: Bit click-baity, eh?

I can claim to be the world's greatest lover. Independent testing of that claim has raised a few question marks, sadly.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Bit click-baity, eh?

If your only purpose in existing is to save money by centralising procurement, and you're unable to demonstrate that you've actually saved any money, I think we can safely say that we're in epic fail territory.

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Sights of the Realm: Mobile app DB hooks up with IBM Watson for image, text, face recog

Chris Miller
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Re: Cheers to the subs

Well, I was thinking that you'd need to be over 60 ...

But I've a couple of nephews in their 30s who are huge fans of Yes and King Crimson (I blame my brother).

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Chris Miller
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Cheers to the subs

for the Quadrophenia reference. Now, can you sneak in one to The Hollies before Xmas?

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Going underground: The Royal Mail's great London train squeeze

Chris Miller
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At least one each of the locos and wagons is stored at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre in Quainton.

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US election pollsters weren't (very) wrong – statistically speaking

Chris Miller
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Re: Mandatory Voting

A popular vote system also has the property that 50.1% counts the same as 100%, unless you think Hillary should be President on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Donald the rest of the week?

The Electoral College system exists because the individual states fiercely protect their own rights and small states fear their opinion would count for less in a popular vote system. For the same reason, each state gets two senators irrespective of population. It's up to each state how they select their Electoral College representatives and, in fact, two states have a (sort of) proportional system. The EU has somewhat similar provisions - small states like Luxembourg are significantly over-represented compared to their larger brethren.

Arguing that "Hillary won the popular vote" is irrelevant for at least two reasons: (1) campaigning for a popular vote election would have been completely different, far less time spent in 'swing states', much more time in California and Texas; and (2) voter turnout would have been different, there's far less incentive for a marginal Trump voter to turn out in California or a Clinton voter in Utah - where the opponent was always certain to win.

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Guessing valid credit card numbers in six seconds? Priceless

Chris Miller
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Re: Card not present?

Not entirely: if the merchant doesn't validate CVV, then they're liable for any fraudulent transactions, not the card issuer. For relatively low value sites, they may be prepared to take that risk, particularly as every extra security check loses you a (non-trivial) proportion of potential customers.

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Six car-makers team to build European 'leccy car charge bar network

Chris Miller
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Re: @Lotaresco

Good response, with which I agree. (I'm no eco-warrior, my PHEV is for subsidy harvesting, at which it's very effective :)

I was just pointing out that 10kWh of battery isn't comparable with a litre of petrol in terms of how far you can drive a car. My 2-ton SUV brick gets over 3km/kWh, so 20 miles on a 'litre equivalent', that's 90 mpg. In cost terms, 10kWh is about £1, so slightly cheaper than a litre of petrol.

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Chris Miller
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@WolfFan

Ecotricity have created a network of fast chargers in the UK - they're at almost all motorway services. Initially they were free to use - bargain! I signed up, and they made it clear that this was for an introductory period only. I only used them a couple of times because my travel patterns generally allow me to charge at home, but they were very popular.

Now they cost £6 for 30 minutes, which (for my car) makes them 3x as expensive as petrol. If you have a pure EV, such as a Nissan Leaf, and you're running low on juice, you have no choice but to pay up.

There are still free schemes in the UK. Some of them are across metropolitan areas and (presumably) subsidised by the local authority. Some of them require a substantial monthly free, but they could still be quite attractive if home charging isn't an option.

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Chris Miller
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@Lotaresco

That's true, but you can travel much further on '10 litres' of battery than 10 litres of petrol. An ICE is rarely better than 30% efficient and often (in start-stop traffic, for example) far less than that. Electric motors are closer to 90% efficient.

I'd like to see the testing that you refer to. If Tesla were truly exaggerating their battery capacity, I'd have thought they'd be in a lot of trouble (especially in the litigation-happy US). What is certainly true is that completely draining a Li battery is not a good idea, and electric cars have battery management systems to (try to) prevent that from happening. It's also true (as any laptop or phone owner will know) that batteries gradually lose their capacity after prolonged use. So if the report is saying that it's only possible to get 81-85kWh of useful power from a fully charged 100kWh battery, that wouldn't be too surprising.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Fast, how fast?

The biggest (at present) Teslas have 100kWh batteries, so that would suggest 15 minutes to get from zero to ~80% full, which is where these systems typically stop.

In comparison, the Nissan Leaf is 24-30kWh, but that doesn't offer anything like the range needed for a general purpose vehicle (as opposed to a commuter car).

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Chris Miller
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Re: Interesting supply questions

I'm sure I'm missing something, but if the charging process is 90% efficient (seems unlikely any real-world system will do much better than that), that means 35kW of waste heat that has to be disposed of somehow without raising internal temps too high. I'm sure this has been thought of, just keen to know how it's done.

This is why existing high-power charging systems stop at ~80%, beyond that point the internal resistance of the battery is high enough for heating to become a real problem. It's possible to continue at a lower power setting to get up to 100%, but the idea (for these superfast chargers) is to plug in for 15-30 minutes and then move on.

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Inventor of McDonald's iconic Big Mac dies

Chris Miller
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Prior art?

"he felt the menu needed a rival for local burger bars' two-storey offerings"

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Vegans furious as Bank of England admits ‘trace’ of animal fat in £5 notes

Chris Miller
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I don't think many cattle are raised purely to supply tallow - it's an unavoidable byproduct of the slaughtering process. If we're going to farm cattle, it make sense to use every part of the beast, in so far as this is possible.

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Geo-boffins say 'quake lifted bits of New Zealand by 8 metres, moved at 3km/second

Chris Miller
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Re: Sandwich filler?

I don't think the 3km/s is the rate at which the rocks move during the quake - it's the rate at which the movement of the rocks propagates along the fault line (apologies, probably not the right technical terms, but hopefully you get the idea). So the earthquake occurs now, a second later it's happening 3km away.

The Japanese were working on a system using movement detectors in mobile phones to identify a quake happening at point A and broadcasting a warning a few seconds before it arrives (presumably 100 km or so away) at point B.

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Barnet Council: Outsourcing deal with Capita has 'performance issues'

Chris Miller
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I've said it before ...

both of which it is acknowledged had performance issues going back a number of years prior to contract commencement

If your management is not sufficiently competent to deliver a good service using staff whose interests (financial and career) are at least somewhat aligned with those of the organisation - what makes you think you will do any better using outsourced staff? Outsourcing is not a magic bullet that can instantly fix a crap IT operation.

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AI can now tell if you're a criminal or not

Chris Miller
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The return of phrenology?

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Facebook Fake News won it for Trump? That's a Zombie theory

Chris Miller
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Re: This.

The Guardian is just the Daily Mail with the dog whistle tuned to a different pitch.

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Chris Miller
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It isn't the completely fake news that's the problem - everyone (well, 99% of everyone to be on the safe side) can see through stories such as "World War 2 bomber found on moon". But there was a recent one that Trump had narrowly beaten Clinton on the popular vote, which was nonsense, but took a bit of digging to be revealed as such - and most people won't bother.

But I'm afraid the days of fact-checking by MSM journos have long gone, They just run stories from Twitter and Facebook like everyone else, driven by click maximisation (which, in many cases is how they're remunerated).

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'Post-truth' beats 'chatbot' to Word of the Year Crown

Chris Miller
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Re: feeling quite hygge

The Daily Mash on hygge.

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Google's neural network learns to translate languages it hasn't been trained on

Chris Miller
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Portuguese and Spanish are very closely related, to the point where native speakers of one can easily comprehend the other (though going into a shop in Lisbon and speaking Castilian won't necessarily get you a warm welcome). There are also 'half-way houses', such as Gallego and Portenhol.

This would have been a lot more impressive if the AI had learnt Basque or Finnish from scratch (let alone Khmer or Sioux ...)

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Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

Chris Miller
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What killed Concorde was the development of the 747. First generation 747s needed a significant occupancy in First Class to be profitable, but all potential First Class passengers will opt for supersonic travel if available. So you couldn't run a mixed fleet of Concordes and 747s, and the market opted for the 747.

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Trumped? Nope. Ireland to retain corporate tax advantage over the US

Chris Miller
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For Apple it was almost 0.05%

But only as long as they don't bring their profits back to the US, which means there's a limit to what they can do with them (they can't pay dividends, for example). Apple (and many other US multinationals) are holding vast sums offshore (Apple alone has hundreds of billions of dollars). They aren't bringing them home because US 'Corporation Tax' is a swingeing (by most international comparisons) 35-40% (there's a small component that varies state by state). Bring that down to 15-20% and trillions of dollars will start winging their way home. There's a large part of that which would be a one-off effect (as those offshore profits have been amassed over many years), but a reduced CT rate should mean a continuing stream of profits returning to the US as the benefits of retaining them offshore diminish.

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What went wrong at Tesco Bank?

Chris Miller
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Re: VbV

asks for selected characters of your password, implying some form of plain text storage

No it doesn't - you could store a hash for each individual character; though this does mean that if someone steals the hashes, they won't need a very big rainbow table :). A strongly encrypted password can be quite secure, but it probably depends on a secret key, which will need to be kept 'secret'.

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Web security still outstandingly mediocre, experts report

Chris Miller
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Since the main cause of XSS is failure to validate/sanitise input, it's not too surprising that such sites would also have a tendency to more SQL injection vulnerabilities.

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Accessories to crime: Facial recog defeated by wacky paper glasses

Chris Miller
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"ways to trick the system inconspicuously"

Your definition of inconspicuous is clearly different from mine :)

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Brexit may not mean Brexit at all: UK.gov loses Article 50 lawsuit

Chris Miller
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@Geoff

So you're an idle arsehole, and we should now pay attention to your childish whining, because?

Every single democratic decision ever taken has been on the basis that those who don't vote are happy to adopt whichever view is taken by the majority. No exceptions. If you don't like that fact, you should have got out of your armchair and done something about it instead of crying after the event.

It's that simple. Perhaps you need to invest in the Ladybird Book of Democracy.

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Chris Miller
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Re: As I understand it

That was the opposite of the message promoted by those leading the Remain campaign (plus the PM, Chancellor ad nauseam). And, as we now know, no-one on the Remain campaign ever told a lie or stretched the truth - no siree bob.

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Chris Miller
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Re: There's one bit of good news though

German law does not permit dual citizenship with nations that are not EU members, so I'm afraid your theory (conspiracy or not) fails.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Re:

Whereas the Remain campaign only told the unalloyed truth - yeah, right. If you abstain in a democratic vote, you're stating that you're happy to go along with whatever the majority decide. So that's 2:1 in favour of Leave.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Handy....

What a pity we can't all have your unique ability to look inside people's heads to determine what they're thinking. I think it's equally likely that many who voted Remain will have realised they were conned by Project Fear.

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Chris Miller
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No-one doubts the sovereignty of Parliament, in particular their power to remove an executive of whose actions they disapprove. But democratically elected representatives need to think very carefully before overriding the democratically expressed will of the people who elect them.

As for the unholy combination of merchant bankers and unelected judges who achieved this result ...

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Brexit judgment could be hit for six by those crazy Supreme Court judges, says barrister

Chris Miller
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Re: Was'nt one of the " reasons" for these referendum reasserting the soverignty of Parliament?

"No,. you're not really needed to do any scrutiny here"

That's an obvious straw man - nobody is saying that. There's a Parliamentary Committee sitting on Brexit for heaven's sake!

The 16-page propaganda leaflet sent to every household before the referendum said:

"The referendum on Thursday, 23rd June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union." and "This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide."

IANAL but that seems pretty bloody clear to me and any attempt by an unelected cabal of lawyers and bankers to overturn the democratic result is likely to go down very badly.

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Whoosh! China shows off J-20 'stealth' fighters and jet drones

Chris Miller
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I'm surprised

that they managed to find anywhere in China with visibility > 100m.

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EU €120m Wi-Fi spend explained, but not excused

Chris Miller
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Re: "every MuniWi-Fi project ever launched has been switched off"

There were lots of signs up for the Glasgow system when I was there a couple of weeks ago. I didn't try to use it, since (as you say) 4G is more than adequate. Anyone know how it's going?

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EU announces common corporate tax plan

Chris Miller
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@Doug S

What you describe is indeed necessary for a successful currency. But the political reality is that Germans will simply not vote to subsidise feckless Greeks (as they - I think wrongly - see it).

The person who has probably the best claim to be called the 'architect' of the euro - Otmar Issing - is now of the view that it will inevitably collapse. You can read the gory technical details here:

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Everything you need to know about HP's three-in-one x3 deals

Chris Miller
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If you have VDI (e.g. Citrix) you can run your corporate desktop on anything that has a Citrix client; which is pretty much anything, certainly any phone (even Blackberry).

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Existing security standards are fine for IoT gizmos in electrical grids

Chris Miller
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If you think technology can solve your security problems, then you don't understand the problems and you don't understand the technology.

Bruce Schneier

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Will AI spell the end of humanity? The tech industry wants you to think so

Chris Miller
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Re: Time for Tollpuddle Mk 'N'?

You can tax companies, but they never pay the tax, because they're a book-keeping fiction and the books have to balance. They have to get that tax money from somewhere, and ultimately that is always people: customers, employees or shareholders - there's nowhere else it can come from. Passing legislation doesn't change facts about the real world, sorry.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Advanced Artificial Alien Intelligence. The Holy Trinity in Virtualisation for AAA Market Rating

Welcome back to our very own (kinda) AI.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Time for Tollpuddle Mk 'N'?

You can't tax companies, since they're a legal fiction. You can only tax people - which may be employees, shareholders (that would be my and your savings) or customers. There is no magic money tree, sorry.

But on the more positive side, two centuries ago 30% of the population of the West worked in the fields and had a nasty brutal life. Today agriculture employs less than 1%, but there aren't pitchfork waving mobs roaming in search of work - they've gone on to do more productive things. There's no reason why AI (if it ever happens, colour me doubtful if we're talking about the next century) couldn't have a similarly liberating effect.

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BlackBerry DTEK60: An elegant flagship for grown-ups

Chris Miller
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Or £100 less and go with a phone that will rarely or never receive updates.

How are S7 owners finding updates (early days, I realise)? My experience with an S3 was that they were always several months late (because there was a lot of own-brand Samsung software at the front end - some of which was very useful, but none of which was very reliable) and petered out altogether after about 18 months.

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