* Posts by Mike Smith

415 posts • joined 12 Apr 2007

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BOFH: Capo di tutti capi, bah. I'm having CHICKEN JALFREZI

Mike Smith
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Re: This is not going well.

Or she might soon be looking at real headlights as her car rolls down the ramp in the basement car park towards her.

Those fancy key fobs, y'know. Who would imagine that a single decisive press from an angle lower than the vehicle's sensor would unlock the steering, start the engine, drop a brick on the accelerator and drive the vehicle towards the key fob at top speed?

"OK, it's an edge case, but they still could have tested it," as the coroner is likely to say in a few weeks time.

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Review mass-snoop laws regularly, says RIPA daddy Blunkett

Mike Smith
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Re: Oh dear

"When did people become such cowards?"

Plenty of reasons. The UK happily embracing American culture, to the detriment of its own. Trusting the flatulent cant of incompetent politicians who place more emphasis on style than substance, and who put their own self-interests ahead of the people who elected them. Mainstream media (yes, I'm looking at you lot over there, BBC) too afraid to directly challenge the government, especially Blair's junta. A populace who has been conditioned to expect The Government (TM) to regard them as people, when in fact each of us is just a tiny fraction of one statistic on a minister's report. A wilful blindness to America evolving from freedom to fascism and a consequent inability to tell Washington that Europe has forgotten more about tackling terrorism then they've yet learned.

If I were planning a terrorist campaign, I think I'd start by taking out all the TV stations and assassinating everyone importing American films. Cutting off the prolefeed might, just might, provoke the somnolent, the complacent and the downright stupid into taking a long hard look at themselves once their propaganda machine had gone and they actually had to think for themselves.

Hell, we can dream...

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Blade Runner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it

Mike Smith
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Re: What's so great about Blade Runner?

Soz - for 'American' read 'Hollywood'. Maybe Harrison's a bit short of the folding stuff these days.

Some interesting responses to my pot shot at a sacred cow, but I still don't see what's so outstanding about Blade Runner. The effects were certainly good, but they weren't exactly ground-breaking. People raved about Star Wars' effects in 1977, and 2001 is still utterly stunning. Classic film noir used light and shadow to equally great effect - The Third Man springs immediately to mind.

I thought the characters were very shallow - at least, they were well hidden behind the effects and flaky dialogue. Cinema is a visual medium, and it should be possible to follow the story with the sound off. You might miss a few subtleties, but if you lose the plot completely, it's a sure-fire sign that the script relies too heavily on dialogue.

Maybe it's because I prefer French cinema, and have grown used to its conventions. My own sacred cow is Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva. Came out the year before Blade Runner and is still a superb example of bringing characters to life without them having to talk a lot.

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Mike Smith
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What's so great about Blade Runner?

I found it boring, unoriginal and stuffed to the gills with American cliches. I didn't get it then and I don't get it now.

The only thing I loved was the music, and that was created by a real master of the art. Everything else was just meh in my eyes.

Downvote if you must but before you do, tell me - just what sets Blade Runner apart from all the other hackneyed Hollywood sci-fi dribble? All I can see is a scruffy good-ish guy being compelled to hunt down bad guys with an assortment of over-sized recoilless weaponry that he doesn't seem to be able to aim properly when he needs to. What exactly am I missing?

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Hire and hold IT staff in 2015: The Reg's how-to guide

Mike Smith
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Luxury!

Huh, you were lucky! We used to dream of 'aving a keyboard. All we 'ad were punch cards. Gaffer'd tek us cards and punch us wi' 'ammer. And we were grateful forrit.

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Martha Lane Fox: YEUCH! The Internet is MADE by MEN?!?

Mike Smith
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Paris Hilton

Good Taste Rapid Response ALERT!

Martha Lane Fox is MLF?

Oh, Andrew, how could you? There's outing oneself and outing oneself. Please, a little more decency in future.

There's a much nicer lady right here ------------>

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Hey, non-US websites – FBI don't have to show you any stinkin' warrant

Mike Smith
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Re: Lazy Lunacy

"how can anyone be expected to believe in it in a court of law?"

I guess that depends on what you mean by 'anyone'. It'll be the jury that decides, and that could be the weak point for the defendant and the killer for the FBI. Twelve reasonably-educated people would probably acquit instantly because of such dodgy evidence. On the other hand, Cleetus and his eleven good ol' boy buddies from the Holy Gospel Church of God down Deliverance County way might not need that much persuasion, given that it's a goddam foreign illegal doin' drugs 'n' shit on the web, y'all.

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Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your 'privacy is important'

Mike Smith
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Re: Wouldn't it be a great shame

A terrible shame indeed - but I wouldn't regard myself as a ne'er-do-well for drowning Adobe's servers with garbage. I think there's some sort of moral obligation here to do exactly that.

The trick, as I think I've mentioned on here before, would be to generate a flood of traffic that appears to be legit, but which wouldn't amount to a DDos attack. The idea would be to get Adobe jizzing in their pants at the sight of all that lovely data coming in, without realising that it's nearly all random junk.

I think this might be worth looking into properly. The sooner the likes of Adobe are given a resounding DIAF for this sort of crap, the better.

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UK reforms on private copying and parody come into force

Mike Smith
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Re: Ars gratia lucri (thanks, Irony Deficient :-) )

"getting 'Kicked in the Tube Station' does bring tears to your eyes!"

And if that happened at midnight, maybe there's a parody of a Jam song in the offing...

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Mike Smith
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Devil

Ars gratia lucrum

Their website's very 1990s, but there's some telling stuff on there. The whole tone of it suggests that their view of the music business begins and ends with a record company's profit margins, but they still think that collecting backhanders is on a par with a musician's royalties. They probably spend all day insisting that their money-grubbing agenda is solely focused on rewarding artistic expression and then they deliberately kick the buskers in the tube station on the way home.

Their chief executive's bio is very telling indeed. Looks like a typical middle manager's over-inflated CV. If prostitution or drugs were made legal, she'd be quite at home heading up UK Shagging or UK Smack.

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Xbox hackers snared US ARMY APACHE GUNSHIP ware - Feds

Mike Smith
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Mushroom

"#getyourfactsstraight #getaclue"

#sodoffwiththathashtagbollocks

#thisiselregnotaretardedMyTwitBooksite

#solearnthebloodydifferencesunshine

#andsortyourspellingout

#andyourpunctuation

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Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?

Mike Smith
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Re: I don't get Britain these days

"does that count as Godwin"

Not if you change the star for a crescent.

And yep, I could see that happening too.

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'In... 15 feet... you will be HIT BY A TRAIN' Google patents the SPLAT-NAV

Mike Smith
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Re: On the other hand,

Ammonium triiodide - yes, I like that idea. Only thing is, wouldn't the impact on the pellet from firing the gun cause it to explode in the barrel?

Just asking, as my chemistry knowledge is rather ancient now.

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Mike Smith
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Re: On the other hand,

Wouldn't catch them all, unfortunately.

Cycling home last night, I saw a douchebag like that wandering towards the kerb with oversized headphones on his thick head, and an oversized smartphone in his pudgy hand. I was approaching at about 20mph, and he looked right at me. We even made brief eye contact.

And then he dropped his gaze, started fiddling with his sodding phone and stepped out directly in front of me. Fortunately, my bike's air horn was loud enough to penetrate his dim consciousness and he jumped as if he'd been shot. I swerved round him, intentionally missing him by just a hairsbreadth and rode off shaking my head.

There was no point in getting wound up about it. It wasn't the first time and I doubt if it'll be the last. But I am starting to think about supplementing the air horn with a lance. Or a paintball gun that fires something that both hurts and leaves a permanent stain.

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Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE

Mike Smith
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Trollface

Re: Yawn

"Have you thought about growing up?"

Have you thought about putting some flowers in your hair and going back to San Francisco?

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Mike Smith
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Re: Speedo?

Or

s/watch/scantily dressed female on the pavement

s/watch/kids fighting in the back

s/watch/accident

s/watch/animated billboard

s/watch/punch-up outside a pub

s/watch/you get the idea

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Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM

Mike Smith
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Re: Shock result

And President Putin immediately appeared on state TV to roundly condemn the 3% of No-voters as CIA-sponsored subversives, dissidents, intellectuals and terrorists, and to promise the firmest action possible against those who seek to undermine the free and fair democratic process.

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Mike Smith
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Re: What are your predictions?

I think 65% yes, based solely on my pet theory that the reason so many people (97%) have registered to vote is that they want change, rather than to maintain the status quo.

Plus a bit of wishful thinking. I really, really hope it's a Yes.

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Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

Mike Smith
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Trollface

Re: Sod the IT arguments

"bet they're from Scots who don't want Blair either"

Aye, ye're no wrong there, son. The wee shite's a disgrace tae Scotland. I'm no sure we'd be wanting him back, mind.

Best way oot wad be tae pit up the wall again, declare the ba-heid persona non grata and leave him rotting at the border post fae the rest o his life. He could apply fae asylum and swell the ranks o displaced people he helped tae create. Gie the numpty a wee taste o his ain medicine, ken?

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Mike Smith
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Re: Sod the IT arguments

Puts me in mind of an old Naked Video sketch - let's update it:

Posh party. A man in a DJ and woman in LBD are making small talk.

WOMAN: Lovely party. Oh gosh, isn't that Sean Connery?

MAN: It is indeed the world-famous Scottish actor Sean Connery. Born in Edinburgh in 1930, recognised the world over as the best-ever James Bond as well as starring in The Hunt for Red October, The Russia House and Entrapment as well as being the voice of Draco the dragon in Dragonheart.

WOMAN: Wow! And isn't that Gregor Fisher?

MAN: Yes, that is the renowned Scottish actor Gregor Fisher, who's had many wonderful character roles as well as being in Naked Video - Para Handy and 1984, as well as being recognised the world over as Rab C Nesbitt.

WOMAN: Oh, I adore Rab C Nesbitt. Oh look! Isn't that Tony Blair?

MAN: We've been very lucky with the weather just recently...

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What could possibly go wrong? Banks could provide ID assurance for Gov.UK – report

Mike Smith
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Re: Circularity

"(I have my grandfather's birth certificate."

So do I. As I'm feeling puckish, 'cos it's Friday, I'm toying with seeing if I can slip it past a counter droid somewhere. Be interesting to see if they pick up on the 1874 birth date.

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NUDE SELFIE CLOUD PERV menace: Apple 2FA? Sweet FA, more like

Mike Smith
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British site, British idioms. Whch are localiSed, cheers ears.

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Virgin Media blocks 'wankers' from permissible passwords

Mike Smith
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Re: Interesting list.

"since when was clitoris a dirty word?"

Since Puritanism gained a foothold in America.

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Drunkards warned: If you can't walk in a straight line, don't shop online, you fool!

Mike Smith
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Pint

There but for the grace of God...

I should have read this yesterday, as last night I came that close to blowing 1500 quid on an XS750 I spotted on eBay.

Thankfully, I was too plastered to complete the transaction, but I got a nasty shock when I looked at my phone this morning.

Oh, what the hell. Hair of the dog!

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Serco welcomes former CSC boss to run gov unit

Mike Smith
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Trollface

record of delivering “complex and long term contracts"

CSC delivering?

Hm, haven't heard it called that before...

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Has Europe cut the UK adrift on data protection?

Mike Smith
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Re: Little Englander syndrome

Spot on.

If every UK government that's followed Heath had put Britain's interests ahead of America's and made a determined effort to put paid to the dream that we're still a superpower, we would be well and truly in the Big Three in Europe, and Westminster would have a lot of clout right across the continent.

As it is, there's a lot of suspicion across Europre that Downing Street is just the kennel for America's pet poodle. Blair's involvement in the Iraq Crusade did nothing to dispel that impression.

Seems to me there are three possible scenarios in the next few years:

1. The referendum gets a nice big No vote and try seriously to mend fences with Brussels. Fat chance.

2. The referendum gets a nice big Yes vote, Britain flounces out of the EU and finds itself at the mercy of American corporate interests. It then finds out too late that it hasn't got the economic muscle of the EU to back it up when the trade disputes start.

3. The referendum gets a No vote, Britain continues as it is and becomes increasingly sidelined and ignored, regarded by the other 27 EU members as being neither use nor ornament.

On a personal (and admittedly selfish) level, I'm starting to hope that Scotland votes Yes in September, and can follow through on its promise to stay in the EU, as I was born there and will be back over the border like a shot the day a referendum on EU membership votes to leave. Britain without the EU will either become a third-world basket case, a fascist dictatorship to rival North Korea or the 51st State of the US, all while the middle-class inhabitants of leafy Surrey suburbs grumble about what the Daily Mail's saying about influxes of foreigners depressing house prices.

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SOULLESS machine-intelligence ROBOT cars to hit Blighty in 2015

Mike Smith
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Coat

" 'the joyride' and 'reverse driver'."

Err... things like that are how you tend to catch viruses...

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Mike Smith
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Re: I want both

"I wonder how automated cars will handle ice."

Or Hyde Park Corner in the rush hour.

Or the eastern side of the M60.

Or Swindon's Magic Roundabout.

I wonder what the rules will be on taking one abroad... watching one trying to negotiate the Place d'Etoile in central Paris at 5.30pm on a weekday would be very entertaining.

Provided I wasn't actually inside the thing, of course.

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Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees

Mike Smith
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Re: So it really is a religion...

"Just like Galileo was when he claimed that the earth went round the sun and had proof"

Ah no, he didn't. He couldn't prove it, and that was what landed him in hot water with the Inquisition. If he could have proved it, he would probably have been lauded by the church. But he still stuck to the Copernican idea of circular orbits and couldn't explain the inconsistencies in the planets' behaviour.

Newton proved it when he realised the planets' orbits were elliptical.

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Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists

Mike Smith
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Black Helicopters

Re: Blame game?

"Let's face it - that is the most likely scenario."

Not saying you're wrong, but I did wonder whether it might have been sabotage by someone working for Malaysian Airlines.

Think about the loss of MH370 a few months ago. An unexplained manoeuvre, sudden loss of all contact and then apparently an aimless flight out into the Indian Ocean that continued until the fuel ran out. Until the flight recorder's found, that's all we really do know.

What if there had been an IED a bomb on board MH370 that badly damaged the plane, including depressurising the cabin, but didn't actually blow it apart in mid-air? The crew might have had some time to react before they were overcome. It might have seemed sensible to disengage and then re-engage the autopilot for some reason during that period. Granted, that is pure conjecture, but if it's true, it could account for the plane's last known movements.

And a bomb on board this plane could account for the lack of missile video evidence. A Malaysian Airlines employee would be best placed to plant one. I'd like to think that possibility is being quietly investigated.

I'm no aviation expert, but it does seem a possibility.

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There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES

Mike Smith
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Pint

Re: My 2p

"have to wonder if the people who 'could' be good TV drama/comedy writers are being blocked by comparison with the programs on endless loop from the 70's and such."

You sir, are absolutely one hundred per cent bang on the money. Have a pint and an upvote.

I've been trying to break into the TV writers world for a few years now. Not having much luck in spite of some very good reviews from a few folks whose track records mean they know what they're talking about. That's pretty much par for the course for new writers though, so I'm not griping too much, but one thing that stands out right across the board is this - though all the production companies say they're crying out for 'new voices with stories to tell' or somesuch, what they're really looking for is people who can regurgitate the same tired old formats over and over again.

In fairness to the production companies, they have to get things commissioned, and those decisions fall to the suits at the big broadcasters. Which means that unless you're touting politically-correct comedy, medical dramas, legal dramas, historical documentaries aimed at retarded chimpanzees, singing contests or vacuous voyeurism you might as well forget it. The last time we saw any real innovation was on Channel 4 in the mid 1980s, before that idiot Grade ruined it.

And yes, I admit that I'm pretty pissed off about it and I'm trying to find a way round it. But that's where we are - it's an industry dominated by risk-averse beancounters with next to no vision or imagination.

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Snowden leaks latest: NSA, FBI g-men spied on Muslim-American chiefs

Mike Smith
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Re: Muslim-Americans?

Point taken, but it wouldn't take a lot of propaganda effort to poison that. Subtly asking the question "are you Muslim or American?" would do the trick.

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Mike Smith
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Black Helicopters

Re: Muslim-Americans?

"wouldn't that imply that the ancestors of these people came from, um, Muslia?"

Alternatively, it could be read to suggest that Muslim-Americans are, you know, not quite real Americans.

Which could help Uncle Sam no end next time it decides that public xenophobia needs a boost.

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UK gov rushes through emergency law on data retention

Mike Smith
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Big Brother

Before we all fall foul of Godwin...

... cast your minds back a few years.

A "Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board..."

Doubleplusgood.

"...on the American model"

Doubleplusungood until otherproved...

A sunset clause - plusgood.

I'm not saying that allowing unrestricted snooping on all and sundry is a good thing - it ain't - but it is worth remembering that the last government wouldn't have even bothered with such ridiculous concepts.

If you need reminding, El Reg has a lot of articles on the subject.

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Coulson GUILTY of conspiring to hack phones between 2000 and 2006

Mike Smith
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No sympathy for Crystal Tipps

"Her life and morals have been laid bare, much as the News of the World did every Sunday, and undoubtedly there must be some strains in her marriage."

I hope there are. I really hope she's been shattered by this. It would be nice to think that she'll now understand what her rag did to a lot of innocent people and will change her attitude accordingly, but I rather think she'll just spend the next couple of years stropping round in moral outrage, refusing to believe she isn't whiter than white.

What goes around comes around.

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HP Enterprise Services staff feel the burn as managers turn off the cash taps

Mike Smith
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FAIL

Alarm bells

"An HP spokeswoman sent us a statement: "These short-term initiatives are all part of our global transformation..."" </flatulence>

Morale-damaging parsimony deflected by canned PR crap could point to a company that's in serious trouble.

I've been employed by three organisations that have resorted to doing this. If HP follow the same path, the next step in Project Panic the 'Make It Better' campaign will be a top-down focus in getting as much money in as they can. Whether they call it de-rippling the revenue streams, delivering a negative customer credit paradigm, or just chasing every penny they're owed, the underlying reason will be the same - a huge fiscal hole that they're finding it increasingly difficult to hide, but which is bringing them very close to trading while insolvent.

And if that happens - well, two of the three organisations that I worked for that did that crashed and burned quite spectacularly. The third was part of a larger group and only survived because it was bailed out by the other parts.

No names, no pack drill, but I won't be buying HP any time soon.

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LinkedIn ignored SIX WARNINGS about account-hijacking bug

Mike Smith
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Trollface

FAO hackers - a simple request

I've recently updated my LinkedIn account with some major core skills - breaking wind, picking my nose, losing arguments with myself and so on - and no-one's bothered to endorse me for them. Miserable lot, pearls before swine, etc.

I hope that anyone breaking into LinkedIn will find my account and do the needful. I want to apply for a senior manager's position soon.

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ISIS: Iraq KILLS the INTERNET: VPNs, social media and chat apps blocked by government

Mike Smith
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Re: Which planet are Facebook on?

"Should the government have therefore attempted to close the internet in the UK?"

When did the armed uprising take place in the UK?

Guess I must have been on holiday or summat to have missed that...

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Mike Smith
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FAIL

Which planet are Facebook on?

"Limiting access to internet services - essential for communication and commerce for millions of people - is a matter of concern for the global community."

As opposed to trying to stop mass slaughter. But this viewpoint is perfectly understandable - after all, dead bodies can't see ads.

Good to see Facebook have their priorities right.

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CIA rendition jet was waiting in Europe to SNATCH SNOWDEN

Mike Smith
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Re: TheOtherHobbes

Spot on, have an upvote.

I seem to recall that when he was caught, Saddam Hussein snarled at his captors, "You fools, do you really think you can run Iraq?"

Looks like he was right after all.

I'm not trying to justify Saddam's brutality, but there are a lot of corpses in Iraq who might still be alive if Dubya and Benito Blair had left him alone. Just sayin', as they say.

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BOFH: On the contrary, we LOVE rebranding here at the IT dept

Mike Smith
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For a brief period, I was in the Technical Architecture Resourcing Team.

Made worse by the fact that it was exclusively male.

Took a while for someone to notice though.

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EU privacy A-Team tells Google: Get a grip and obey OUR laws

Mike Smith
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Re: Just a flight of fancy

Yes, they could do that - but as that would mean deliberately dropping the biggest chunk of disposable income on the planet, it would be a textbook case of cutting off their nose to spite their face.

But I wouldn't put that past them, given their attitude to date.

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Mike Smith
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Just a flight of fancy

"Google responded by appointing a committee of five "independent" advisors, two of whom have already called for the law to be changed."

Typical corporate American arrogance. I hope the EU response to that involves sex and travel.

But as previous commentards have already pointed out, the EU does have some clout here - forcing Microsoft to decouple IE from Windows was a small but notable victory.

If it really turned nasty, Google could find itself being blocked from Kenmare to Krakow, with all their local execs admiring the inside of European slammers. The top brass might just shrug that off - but when their crap peddlers customers start asking why 750 million people now can't see their adverts, it might be a very different story.

There are ways round a block, of course - I don't doubt that 99% of Reg readers are sufficiently savvy to work around one - but the vast majority of MyTwitBook lusers wouldn't have a clue where to begin. And that vast majority makes up the target audience for the crap peddlers - not the greasy scruff like us who know how to block adverts.

Google need to take this very seriously.

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REVEALED: GCHQ's BEYOND TOP SECRET Middle Eastern INTERNET SPY BASE

Mike Smith
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Re: TRAITORS

Hey Luke,

Looking at the downvote rate, you'll be in with a chance of winning a vacuum cleaner by Friday!

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Unions mull appetite for HP strike action over 16k job cull

Mike Smith
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Re: "Make It Better"

Well, to misquote Bill Clinton, that depends on what the meaning of 'It' is.

I suspect in this case that 'It' refers to some numbers on a spreadsheet that are all red for some strange reason. To Make It Better, we just fiddle with some other numbers - the total meatware liability in this case - until It shows green numbers.

There. We've Made It Better.

I think we need the gravestone icon back.

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Still using e-mail? Marketers say you're part of DARK SOCIAL

Mike Smith
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Mushroom

Fighting back

I wonder if there's an opportunity here to really hit these nosy parasites where it hurts? The whole tone of the piece smacks of marketers thinking they've a God-given right to do what they want to flog everything the Zik-Zak MegaCorp churns out.

Can't really blame them for that, but only in the sense that you can't blame a dog for suffering from rabies.

But here's a thought - what would happen if the money spent on these marketing campaigns didn't translate into increased sales? It occurs to me that a huge concerted effort to automate clicking on ads and populating their sodding surveys and registrations of interest with crap data might have an effect if enough people did it in a concerted manner. The genuine interest could simply be drowned by a flood of noise.

I did do something like this ages ago, in response to a phishing scam. At the time, I had access to the SilkPerformer test tool and a licence for 1,000 concurrent users. We had a little IP spoofing module as well.

1,000 users submitting garbage over the Easter weekend at a rate carefully calculated not to trigger a denial-of-service detection translated into a LOT of rubbish written to the scammers' website.

That was back in the day before the world of the Open Sourcerers took off. There must be plenty of free tools that could be used in a similar manner to throw the marketers' crap back in their faces? I guess the trick would be organising and co-ordinating it - and guarding against misuse.

But it does seem to be technically feasible. And thoroughly well-deserved.

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China to become world's No 1 economy. And we still can't see why

Mike Smith
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Mushroom

"It can't happen to me!"

So thinketh Silicon Valley. Wrong, it can.

This article is absolutely bang on. However, there's one aspect that hasn't been emphasised enough, and that's complacency on the part of the West.

There's a striking parallel between what China is doing to the Western IT industry and what Japan did to the West's automotive industry in the 1960s. Consider this:

Once upon a time, there was a country called Britain that led the world in motorcycle manufacture. They'd taken a bit of beating during the second world war, but by the mid 1950s, some outstanding machines were being produced by British manufacturers. The Vincent Black Shadow, Manx Norton, BSA Gold Star, Velocette Venom, Royal Enfield Constellation and Triumph Bonneville were iconic machines that were known the world over. Some consolidation took place - BSA gobbled up Triumph and Ariel, AJS and Matchless merged to form AMC - and a few, like Vincent, fell by the wayside. Overall, the picture was quite rosy - British bikes dominated racing, worldwide sales were brisk and generally the industry's future seemed assured. After all, British bikes were the best in the world, weren't they?

Well now. Towards the end of the 1950s, British motorcycle execs were amused to see crowds of earnest-looking Japanese examining their machines at race events and exhibitions. Doubtless there was some condescending laughter about the hordes of little yellow men taking thousands of photographs of their machines and jabbering away in their idiot tongues. Good to see that the nips appreciate real engineering, old boy, what what? Another pink gin? Don't mind if I do.

Fast forward about twenty years and it had gone horribly wrong. By the end of the 1970s, only Triumph was left, desperately clinging on to a tiny market share. The once-dominant British motorcycle industry had been swept away by the Japanese invasion of bikes that had the phenomenal cheek to be reliable, easy to start, not need loads of maintenance, and have such fripperies as indicators, weather protection and electric starting. The bikes at the lower end of the market - the small 125s and the Honda and Yamaha step-throughs - made the likes of the BSA Bantam and Triumph Tiger Cub look positively antiquated. And once a new rider had bought one Honda or Yamaha, they were more likely to buy another one.

Further up the scale, the British bikes held out for a while, but once the Oriental heavy metal appeared, they too started vibrating their way down the slope, which was doubtless made more slippery by the oil pissing out through the joins in their vertically-split crankcases. Nicknames like Bloody Sore Arse and Royal Oilfield weren't bestowed without reason.

Certainly, the Japanese didn't beat the incumbents on every front at once. British bikes - at least the bigger ones - could still dish out handling lessons to the rice rockets well into the 1980s. I have a fond memory of being able to out-handle mid-range Japanese machines on my elderly BSA A65 during burn-ups on twisty roads. And they made mistakes too - the first Honda CB450 had a reputation for evil handling that was only surpassed by the Kawasaki Mach III - the notorious gas-guzzling 500cc two-stroke triple that you could keep going for ever from a breaker's, provided you didn't need a new front end.

But the Japanese learnt from their mistakes. Things like reliable electrics, oil-tight engines, indicators, electric starting and sensible maintenance regimes set owners' expectations accordingly. In 1960, crappy electrics, magnetos that conked out in the rain, batteries being boiled by iffy Zener diodes and leaking oil was pretty much par for the course. By 1980, a new rider would regard that sort of crap as completely unacceptable.

But the thing is that the Japanese would not have had such an easy time of it if it had not been for complacency on the part of the British firms. First there was a refusal to accept that the piddly little Japanese bikes were a real threat to Real Men's bikes. Instead of realising what might happen to customer loyalty - and the BSA group put a lot of effort into securing that, so there's no excuse for the execs of the time not to have understood the threat - they bumbled along by tarting up what were basically pre-war designs while their customer base became slowly eroded. When they finally realised the threat, it was far too late - the Japanese had learnt while the British gazed at their navels, and customer expectations had risen to a point where the British machines were found wanting in too many areas. The car and consumer goods markets weren't far behind the bikes.

A degree of patriotism did help. In the UK, Triumph survived - just - and Harley-Davidson managed to keep going in the US. But the mass market had vanished like snow in the sunshine, destroyed by a combination of a better offering and the stupidity of executives who could not see a threat until it was too late.

That's what happened to British automotive engineering dominance. And that's what's going to happen to American IT dominance in the next few years - and for almost exactly the same reasons.

As the gravestone's gone, the bomb will have to do.

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JJ Abrams and Star Wars: I've got a bad feeling about this

Mike Smith
Bronze badge
Meh

Feed Abrams to the crocodiles!

"The only good thing from this looming intergalactic wreck? The inevitable fact that people will rediscover the original first three films, a fact that will introduce a new generation to their brilliance and safeguard and perpetuate their legacy."

I wouldn't count on that. The more dross that gets churned out in an effort to milk the idea dry, the more likely it is that the first three films will be buried by being associated with the newer garbage.

The trick to generating a lasting reputation is to leave the audience wanting more. But you can only give them so much of that, because the audience starts to switch off as the quality drops, as it inevitably does. Sequels, prequels, call them what you will, always dilute the quality of the original offering.

Disclaimer - I saw the first Star Wars film when it first came out and utterly loathed it because it didn't live up to the hype. I was expecting something genuinely awesome, and being faced with cowboys and indians in a galaxy far, far away, complete with stereotypical characters, American accents and a simplistic world view turned me off completely. Might have been my unrealistic expectations, but there it is. R2D2 for comedy value and Darth Vader as the ultimate bad guy is about as far as my interest in Star Wars goes.

But I do appreciate other people have a different view and wouldn't want to denigrate that.

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US authorities name five Chinese military hackers wanted for espionage

Mike Smith
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Spot on

"US citizens not allowed to do business with these companies, US companies not allowed to do business with companies that do business with these companies etc etc."

And US companies lose global business to Chinese, Indian and European competitors, US companies have to increasingly rely on domestic sales, US companies implode, world moves on.

Not good for anyone, but particularly bad for the ordinary American.

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Russia to suspend US GPS stations in tit-for-tat spat

Mike Smith
Bronze badge

Re: Oderint dum metuant

"The US gets a bad rap because, for one, it is the world police and sticks its nose into other peoples business"

s/police/busybody.

And yep, I can understand the US self-righteousness, because when all's said and done, a police state is great when you're the police.

"but it only does that because we saw what doing nothing leads to."

And it worked well for a long time. Believe me, I'm very for from being a blinkered Yank-hater. When I was a kid, I was utterly in awe of what NASA was doing and really admired many things about the USA.

Fast-forward to today, and it's a very different picture. America is going down a well-trodden path towards full-blown fascism. And the saddest thing is that so many of your countrymen can't see it - you still believe you're free and doing the right thing.

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