* Posts by Chris Miller

2869 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Perhaps the AIpocalypse ISN'T imminent – if Google Translate is anything to go by, that is

Chris Miller
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Everyone does it

The Irish tell Kerryman jokes, the Americans laugh at Polacks, the French at Belgians, and the rest of Germany ridicules Bavarians (Bismarck: "A strange fellow, your Bavarian; halfway between an Austrian and a human being.")

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Net neutrality: How to spot an arts graduate in a tech debate

Chris Miller
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Re: Except that....

The reason that Google advocates net neutrality has little to do with technological but a very great deal to do with money.

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Chris Miller
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It is possible to have network infrastructure that has more bandwidth than the consumers can use.

You might be able to achieve this on your own premises, though I think it's unlikely if you have more than 100 users. But for an ISP connecting thousands of domestic users (which is the only place where 'net neutrality' has any relevance, as commercial organisations will have their own Ts&Cs) - not a chance.

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That thing we do in the UK? Should be ILLEGAL in the US, moans ex-State monopoly BT

Chris Miller
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Re: An American called Bas Burger

One of my former US colleagues gloried in Daniel D Diefenderfer. (I couldn't make that up, either!)

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One more thing: Swatch trademarks dead Steve Jobs' catchphrase

Chris Miller
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Nice subhead

But shouldn't it really be in Schweizerdeutsch?

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Wikiland turns to Shapps and says ‘those emails you wanted, we deleted them, sorry’

Chris Miller
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Re: FOI?

FoI does apply if a charity gets a significant portion of its funding from government - as many 'charities' do , but not (I think) WikiMedia.

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Capita: Listen up redundo staff, we know you're leaving but...

Chris Miller
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The main thing that has kept me with O2 is that their UK call centres are really rather good. Start transferring me to Bangalore and watch my business disappear (although I doubt the other providers are much better).

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Ex-SAP director: I bribed govt officials to seal the deals on software

Chris Miller
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Re: In some parts of the world, bribe (or gratuities, perhaps) are normal.

Exactly. I'm pretty confident that no government contract ever gets agreed in somewhere like Panama without brown envelopes being involved. Of course, in the UK such rewards are much more likely to take the form of a directorship once your early retirement comes through, which is all perfectly legit (apparently).

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Budget UHD TVs arrive – but were the 4Kasts worth listening to?

Chris Miller
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Re: Sky and UHD

The only time I can really spot the difference is watching tennis, where the individual strands of the net are obvious in HD.

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Chris Miller
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@Peter

I'm typing this looking at a 28" 4K monitor. I can (just!) detect the difference from my previous 26" 1920x1200 display (or so I tell myself). But (of course) I'm looking at it from 0.5m, rather closer than I normally sit from my telly! So I reckon that with a 56" screen you could probably see a difference with 4K if you sat 1m away. As most of us sit at least 2m from the gogglebox, that would imply a 112" screen, which would rather dwarf most living rooms (and, at current prices, break most bank balances - or, at least, marriages).

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Typewriters suck. Yet we're infinitely richer for those irritating machines

Chris Miller
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Re: and my first 'proper' job (1973)

Supervisors got the electric version of the Munroe calculating machine, but we mostly spurned them because the manual ones were faster in experienced hands. At my first job (see above) there was a comptometer operator and she'd been taught a technique for extracting square roots using a machine that could only add or subtract, which was rather impressive. She was actually calculating standard deviations from test results, but she had no idea that's what she was doing (and if you'd asked her what the square root of 4 was, she wouldn't have understood the question). I recalled her when learning about Searle's 'Chinese Room' argument.

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Chris Miller
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and my first 'proper' job (1973)

was as a trainee actuary. All calculations were done manually using one of these, it might surprise you to see how fast they could be 'twiddled' once you'd been doing this all day for a month or two!

Each calculation was done twice independently, and if the answers didn't agree we had to do them again. The results were hand written on a card and despatched via a pneumatic tube system down to the 'typing pool' where they were inserted into preprinted letters. If you needed a bespoke letter, you spoke into a dictation machine that recorded your epic prose onto grooves on a soft plastic disk that could again be sent to the girls (they were all girls) in the typing pool.

Later in my career, I was twice involved in automating the typing pool - once when we replaced typewriters with dedicated word processors (who remembers Wang?), and a second time when they were phased out as PCs appeared and people started writing their own letters and memos (and, even more daringly, emails).

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Chris Miller
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My first vacation job (1971)

included the use of a Kodak Verifax 'wet' copier, which involved passing special 'photographic' paper through a bath of developing fluid - Xerox (from the Greek for 'dry') copiers were only just coming into the UK. As for consumables, if you think inkjet cartridges are expensive ...

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Chris Miller
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VW Beetle

And the heater control was a flap down by your feet that could either be set to 'open' or 'close' (the missus's MG Midget had a similar system).

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Labour Party website DDoS'd by ruly democratic mob

Chris Miller
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Re: Ha

Ah, but was it the CPGB or the CPGB(M-L)? Splitters!

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Chris Miller
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Re: it may backfire?

Labour has a massive problem. To win a UK election they need to recover at least some of their seats in Scotland, where they were portrayed by the SNP as 'Red Tories' - Corbyn might help them to achieve this. But in England, their votes were leaking away to UKIP, from those Labour voters who feel (rightly or wrongly) threatened by immigration - Corbyn will only acerbate this problem. And their biggest issue is that they weren't trusted on the economy, and Corbyn would make this far, far worse because he's an economic illiterate, his economic policies having been devised by a failed accountant.

Similarly, if they tack right with some of the other leadership candidates, they may regain seats in England, but will remain locked out of Scotland. Corbyn may appeal to the Russell Brand 'none of the above' voters (if any), but there are already established parties occupying this ground - UKIP, Greens, LibDems - and it's hard to see anyone winning an election from there.

In a word, they're stuffed. Labour is dead, but they haven't quite realised it yet.

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Lettuce in SPAAACE: Captive ISS 'nauts insist orbital veg is 'awesome'

Chris Miller
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Missed their chance

Should have grown Rocket.

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Put it away: Dwarf's 'supermassive' marvel is actually smallest thing boffins have ever seen

Chris Miller
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Re: moiety

The only distance measure of a black hole that makes strict sense is the circumference (or, if you prefer, the surface area) of the event horizon. Technically, the radius measured to the singularity would be infinite (from our viewpoint),.

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What a shower: METEORS will BLAZE a FIERY TRAIL across our skies

Chris Miller
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Sorry about that (it works for me, even though it's not my page ...)

Try here chilternsociety.org.uk and scroll down to the events list at the bottom (it's on the 12th, of course)

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Chris Miller
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After a week of being promised cloudy skies, the forecast is looking good for tomorrow evening. If anyone wants to join me on top of Whiteleaf Cross (hot chocolate and marshmallows, what's not to like?), we're hoping for a great show!

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'Sunspots drive climate change' theory is result of ancient error

Chris Miller
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"We are running out of fossil fuels"

You're new here, aren't you.

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Chris Miller
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FAIL

@Michael 31

You were doing so well ... and then you invoked the precautionary principle.

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Chris Miller
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Re: @RIBrsiq

Can you point to any actual comments here that fit your far-fetched description? Or is it just the voices in your head?

If I wanted to adopt your approach of erecting straw men, it would be easy to produce a description of alarmism:

"An ice age is coming - WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! No, it isn't, but the Earth is warming - WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! I have a model that predicts a global temperature rise of 2 degrees over the next 20 years. (20 years later) temperatures haven't changed significantly, but that's not because my science is wrong, the heat is going somewhere we can't see it." etc etc.

If a denier is your term of choice for someone who refuses to believe a fact in the face of irrefutable evidence (and not intended in any way to form a mental link to holocaust denier, that's just a coincidence), what's the equivalent term for someone who refuses to relinquish a belief after it's been contradicted by the evidence?

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Chris Miller
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Computer science

Computer science is to science as plumbing is to hydraulics.

The Devil's DP Dictionary (1981) Stan Kelly-Bootle

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Chris Miller
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@RIBrsiq

Nice straw man - now point out who's denying "anthropogenic global climate change"? Very few ElReg readers, I'll bet. What some people may 'deny' is that catastrophic global warming is inevitable unless we change our ways, often in ways that would themselves be catastrophic for civilisation.

Over the last century or two we've dumped perhaps 1,000 GtC into the atmosphere. As it's a greenhouse gas it would be surprising if this did not result in some elevation of temperatures. So there are two retrospective scientific questions that follow: (a) how much have global temperatures actually risen; and (b) how much of any rise is properly attributable to anthropic activity (this latter is what the article is about).

There are also prospective scientific questions, such as "if we continue carbon emissions, how might that change future temperatures?" and "what would be the effect of such a change?" (note that this requires some estimate of future emissions over many decades, which is itself not really a matter for science alone). And it's clear we really don't have that good a handle on the correct answers. And if we establish the science, that leaves the biggie: "what should we do about it?", which is a political question, though no doubt scientific input would be a good thing.

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Susan Sheridan, voice of Hitchhiker's Trillian, dies aged 68

Chris Miller
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Arthur: Tricia McMillan? What are you doing here?

Trillian: Same as you, I hitched a lift. After all, with a degree in Maths and another in astrophysics, what else was there to do? It was either that or the dole queue again on Monday.

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Germans in ‘brains off, just follow orders' hospital data centre gaff

Chris Miller
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In the late 90s I was running computers across Europe for a global financial services operation. Visiting our German office in Frankfurt, they said they'd take me to see their call centre in (former) East Germany because their AS/400 system kept overheating. The computer room was sealed behind a glass screen plastered with 'Nicht Rauchen' stickers. The room had aircon, but I immediately noticed that the operators had opened all the windows, which was obviously interfering with the aircon. Why I asked why the open windows, the reply was: "If we close them, our smoking sets off the fire alarms".

My (West) German colleagues told me this was a not untypical attitude to rules for an Osti.

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Perhaps middle-aged blokes SHOULDN'T try 34-hour-long road trips

Chris Miller
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Re: Lane merging

But as NZ roads (outside of a handful of cities) see one car about every 15 minutes, it's a bit academic.

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Audi RS3: Keep running up that hill, with no problems

Chris Miller
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Re: 6x9=42

Computer bods should reckon in hex, so I'm still in my thirties.

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Chris Miller
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6x9=42

Demonstrating that God has 13 fingers.

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Another death in Apple's 'Mordor' – its Foxconn Chinese assembly plant

Chris Miller
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Re: "employees aren't statistics"

I agree on the whole, but you can't use the raw statistics for the entire population like that. These workers are (I imagine) predominantly younger people, who may well have a lower (or, indeed, higher) suicide rate than the general population.

But, overall, the Chinese should be trying to figure out what makes the suicide rate at Foxconn so low, and trying to apply that to the population as a whole.

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Hasta la Victoria Siempre, GDS! This is not the end, no way

Chris Miller
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Re: Who is pretending to be Steve Bong?

You have been assimilated - welcome to the Borg, you are 4 of 9.

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Vision? Execution? Sadly, omission and confusion rule Gartner's virty quadrant

Chris Miller
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How does a Gartner Magic Quadrant work?

Or a simpler explanation (courtesy of Ratbert) ...

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If you read anything today about ICANN taking over the internet, make sure it's this

Chris Miller
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Headmaster

Re: ROOT n branch

Yep, GB is the official international standard two-letter abbreviation for the United Kingdom of Great Britain And Northern Ireland (see ISO 3166, GBR is the 3-letter equivalent), on which all ccTLDs are supposed to be based, UK is 'exceptionally reserved' to avoid confusion. In the very early days of the Internet, we were one of the first countries to be connected and asked to use UK (apocryphally, this was to assuage Protestants in Northern Ireland) as our ccTLD. As no other country was interested in using it, that's what happened. And then the USSR broke up, and Ukraine were looking for a ccTLD (they have to put up with UA).

Those who remember X.400 (when you weren't a real man unless your email address was too long to fit on your business card), may know the 'UK' country code was GB.

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Mike Bracken suddenly decides to quit GOV.UK outfit GDS

Chris Miller
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Re: Framers will be cheering

I thought at first you might be talking about web developers who refused to follow the approved design code, but I see it's actually about agricultural payments :(

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German railways upgrade their comms tech from 2G to 4G

Chris Miller
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Since the picture shows a gauge reading in MPH, I assume it isn't a DB loco.

Mine's the anorak ...

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Stop forcing benefits down my throat and give me hard cash, dammit

Chris Miller
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@YAAc

That might be true for those taxed as self-employed ('Schedule D'), but if you've formed a limited company, it's hard to see how legitimate expenses could be denied. No doubt there could be even more stringent tests (like IR35) to identify those who are really employees and simply trading as contractors for the (largely perceived) tax advantages.

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Chris Miller
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Another advantage of being a contractor

Is that you pay legitimate expenses out of gross income (or count them as tax deductions, whichever way you prefer to think about it). This ought to include that £4,000+ season ticket for a 'seat' (good luck with that!) on the misery line. (Of course, if you're a real contractor working for several different outfits, a season ticket probably isn't appropriate in any case).

Many continental countries allow this to be done by employees anyway. So those French colleagues are not only paying about one third of your travel costs, they can charge it against tax, too.

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El Reg touches down at the ESA's Spanish outpost, sniffs around

Chris Miller
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Re: Hnag on!

.int was one of the original 7 TLDs*. It was intended for organisations set up by international treaty, and wasn't widely used, but NATO (for example) has always been at nato.int.

* gov edu org com mil net int (plus .arpa, of course).

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Chris Miller
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I'm confused*

Why do they need to keep a 1999 model computer running? I assume it can't be just to store data in esoteric formats, so presumably the answer must be that there are programs that are still needed and won't run on anything else, but I struggle to think what they might be. Probably, I'm just missing something obvious.

* What, again?

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How much of ONE YEAR's Californian energy use would WIPE OUT the DROUGHT?

Chris Miller
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UK problem

It's not as though the UK as a whole (or even England on its own) could ever run short of water. It's just that most of it falls in the NW and most of the people are in the SE. There's clearly no way THAT problem could ever be solved. </sarcasm>

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Hurrah! Uber does work (in the broadest sense of the word) after all

Chris Miller
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@JG Harston

No, that's not correct. If you want a taxi licence (as opposed to private hire), you have to buy one from an existing 'owner'. In my part of Buckinghamshire, they go for about £30-40k.

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Exploding 'laptop batt' IN SPAAACE! Speeding lithium spaffed by nova

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World-beating TWO-QUADRILLION-WATT LASER fired by boffins

Chris Miller
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Re: A fry up or a fusion meal?

Food calories are 'large' calories (kilocalories), so this is about half a calorie (if you're watching that waistline).

For your further scientific edification, boffins (to use the ElReg approved terminology) can now produce lasers from bacon (almost).

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Invisible app ads slug smartmobes with 2GB of daily downloads

Chris Miller
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Re: @Mark

I'm sure you're right that some (I'd say many) people can't work AdBlock. There'll be others (like me) who could use it, but don't as they consider it to be freeloading (ask some of the nice people at ElReg how long they'd stay open if every reader used ad blockers).

But if you're smart enough to work out the issues with Internet ads and the 'gaming' that goes on by the ad suppliers, I'm pretty sure the people in the marketing department at $Megacorp can too.

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Chris Miller
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Re: @bazza

It's true that the Internet has captured half of all advertising revenues. That's not the same thing as those total revenues doubling - that really is 'rot' - there's a reason print media are struggling.

But, as I pointed out, if you really believe in your own position, you should start a business with no advertising (or, at least, no Internet advertising). Since everyone else is throwing their money away, you'll clean up. See you at the next Bilderberg meeting!

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Chris Miller
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@Mark

I'm irritated by online adverts, too (though I suspect we're not the typical target audience). The truth is that online advertising is a new, thoroughly immature industry. Compared to the (similarly irritating ) TV adverts that have been running for almost 75 years, where the nice people at AC Nielsen will tell you fairly precisely how many people watched your advert - they're trying (and investing huge amounts of time and money) to do the same thing for Internet ads, but it's (obviously) much more difficult.

But if you're correct and online ads put off more people than they encourage to buy a product, they will eventually stop.

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Chris Miller
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@Alan

Of course, not all advertising is equally effective* (or effective at all). But net, net it must more than pay for itself or people wouldn't do it. If you doubt this, feel free to start your own business and promote it by word of mouth only. Your product should be cheaper than your competitors, and you'll make billions. Or maybe not.

* As Viscount Leverhulme famously observed of Unilever: “I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. My only problem is that I don’t know which half.”

@moiety Yes advertising costs are tax deductible, like every other legitimate business expense, such as offices, plant or wages. It isn't some weird tax dodge.

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Chris Miller
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@bazza

You could enrol at your local continuing education establishment for a basic business economics course, or consider the following argument:

Why do businesses spend money on advertising? It's not because they like to reduce their profits by throwing money away, it's because advertising, like it or not, has been demonstrated to increase sales volumes and hence revenues. Greater sales volumes allow fixed costs to be spread over more units and hence tend to reduce prices, not increase them.

So, no, however much you may personally dislike adverts, you're not paying for them through increased prices, and nor am I.

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Hurrah! Windfarms produce whopping ONE PER CENT of EU energy

Chris Miller
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Re: Why's this a story?

And "some countries such as Denmark" have the most expensive power in the world and their industrial base is rapidly closing down or moving out as a result.

I'm glad you realise that "8% of electricity used isn't the same as 8% of energy used" - now ask yourself why it's always the former that's quoted by enthusiasts for renewables, rather than the latter; and often in a deliberately confusing form: "this wind farm will produce enough power for 10,000 homes" with the key word electrical power 'accidentally' omitted.

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