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* Posts by Mike Smith

401 posts • joined 12 Apr 2007

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

Mike Smith
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

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

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
Thumb Up

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
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
Thumb Up

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

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

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

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Virgin Media blocks 'wankers' from permissible passwords

Mike Smith

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
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
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
Thumb Up

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
Coat

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

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

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Mike Smith
Thumb Up

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

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
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
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

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
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
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
Thumb Up

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
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
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

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
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

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

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

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

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
Thumb Up

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
Thumb Up

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
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
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
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
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.

2
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Russia to suspend US GPS stations in tit-for-tat spat

Mike Smith

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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Mike Smith
FAIL

Re: Oderint dum metuant

"you rage against those who have stood by and with you for generations, securing the lifestyle to which you are used to."

Try to understand this - America has changed a lot over the last few decades, and not for the better. There always will be some resentment against the top dog - that comes with the territory - but one thing that's become very noticeable since the collapse of the USSR is the rise of a tacit belief that America can do what the hell it wants because there's no-one around to pull the White House up short if necessary. Since the end of the Cold War, vigilance has become paranoia, exercise of power has become more reckless and Washington's attitude has changed from big brother to Big Brother and Big Bully. Your whole attitude smacks of a paranoid belief in reds under the bed and that might equals right. It doesn't, and trying to enforce it only leads to increasing resentment that eventually spills over into violence.

"With the sole exception of the UK, not a single European ally had the ability to transport, sustain, or maintain their forces in Afghanistan and Iraq."

You just don't get it, do you? Bush made a more-or-less unilateral decision to invade Afghanistan and bullied the rest of NATO in agreeing to the Iraq invasion. European defence policy doesn't include running around the world scattering high explosives like grass seed or trying to impose democracy at gunpoint. It's concerned with the defence of Europe. Could we repel an invasion? Yes, probably. Could we retaliate in kind if nuked? Certainly. Do we see it as our God-given right to run around the globe throwing our weight around? No.

"The Russians know this, they know Europe is once again weak, despite the bluster about Crimea and the Ukraine."

The Russians haven't done anything to directly provoke Europe or threaten the sovereignty of any NATO or EU country. Have you got that yet? The main threat is the continuation of the gas supplies - and Europe IS doing something about that.

"they WILL take the Eastern Ukraine, either peaceably, or just roll the tanks in and end all the speculation."

Pick your dummy up, put it back in and think about the answer to this question - WHY should Europe get involved with the affairs of two countries outside its borders? Ukraine and Russia are not in the EU, or NATO, or the common defence area.

Has any NATO country been threatened or attacked? No.

Has any EU country been threatened or attacked? No.

If Putin was trying it on with Poland or the Baltic states, you'd have a very valid point about inaction, but Europe doesn't see it as its sacred duty to run around the world throwing its weight around any more. Tens of millions of dead from two world wars has shown us where that can end up.

Same goes for Bosnia. Same goes for Libya. And Syria. And Nigeria. Britain gave Nigeria its independence over half a century ago. It's no longer our problem.

"You don't like being reminded that there are genuine psychos out there, some in command of armies, and others in charge of entire nations."

Correct, we don't, especially when one of them managed to spend eight years in the White House. If that idiot was still in power, we'd be very close to the outbreak of a third world war.

"Boku Haram is a perfect example. Almost 300 girls in Nigeria are kidnapped and who does the world turn to?"

Again - though it's an appalling occurrence, it isn't Europe's problem.

"So, to wrap-up, get your house in order and step up to the job"

Europe's house is in order. And it's not our job to tell the rest of the world how to behave. As a matter of fact, it's not Uncle Sam's either, and a lot of people are starting to get fed up with that.

"or stop yer whinin', 'cause it's startin' to seriously bug me and my friends."

Or what? Extraordinary rendition to an all-inclusive Cuban holiday with free waterboarding? A drone strike or two? Or are you just going to send the tanks in? That's what you do to people who disagree with you, right?

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Mike Smith
Mushroom

Oderint dum metuant

"You should be terrified of us."

or 'let them hate so long as they fear'. Attributed to a certain Caesar Caligula, who came to a very unpleasant end, along with his wife and child, when the hate overcame that fear.

If you have to rely on repression to maintain your position, that's as clear an indication as any that you're not fit to hold that position any longer.

"Because we kick rear end and take names"

IOW, you swagger round the world pointing guns at people, launch unprovoked attacks on other countries, use international aid as a weapon and generally act like a school bully shoving a 'my way or the highway' attitude. It's a track record that not even the European empires at their worst can match.

"all show just how weak the European militaries really are"

Read this slowly, and absorb - a re-fus-al to go in with all guns blaz-ing as soon as some-thing kicks off in an ad-join-ing na-tion does not mean Eu-rope is weak mil-i-tar-ily.

There is a big diff-er-ence be-tween be-ing ab-le to re-tal-i-ate when a-tta-cked and it-ch-ing to pick a fight o-ver some-thing out-side our bor-der-s. Just be-cause Eu-rope has not joi-ned in with A-mer-i-ca's sa-bre ratt-ling does not mean we can't de-fend our-selves. We can.

If the EU or NATO were to be attacked, Putin could easily receive a very bloody nose. And that's without thinking about the enconomic consequences. With no-one to trade with, he'd be screwed. If you tot up the combined military strengths of the major European countries, you get a total that matches up to the Russians very well.

As well as that, it's possible that an unprovoked attack on Britain or France would trigger an immediate nuclear response. Neither country needs the OK from Washington to retaliate. And they can hit Russia if need be.

And that's without considering that an attack on Europe could only succeed if the aggressor could subdue 740 million people. How did your lot cope in Afghanistan and Iraq? Wasn't a walk-over, was it? And that was a long time after a bunch of ragged-arsed coolies kicked the US out of Vietnam. Attitudes like yours suggest that's a lesson that's never been fully appreciated on your side of the pond.

"And I have traveled the world"

Unless that travel was confined to visiting American military bases around the globe, I can only conclude that you went with a closed mind and refused to try to understand different people's points of view.

I too have been around the world a bit. Almost without exception, the Americans I've come across have fallen into two broad camps. One consists of those people who have seen and understood different cultures and views, and thoroughly despise US arrogance. The other - a much smaller group, I'm thankful to say - consist of morons who think that the world is their playground and there are two ways of doing things - the American way and the wrong way.

"Frankly, if it weren't for the USA,'s Marshall Plan the European economy would still be climbing out of WWII's destruction and Europe would be a forgotten player on the international stage."

Ah yes, WWII. Started because a failed artist and talented rabble-rouser was able to exploit an unstable political situation in Europe. A political situation that arose because a certain party to the Versailles treaty managed to impose a short-sighted and idealistic concept of ethnic self-determination uber alles in place of the more pragmatic solutions the European leaders favoured.

If you didn't cover that at school, there's a little hint to help your research - rearrange the following letters to get the name of the country that person led: S A U.

"We don't ask for your money, we don't ask for services, we don't ask for your vote. A simple "Thank You" will suffice."

If that was the case, anti-American sentiment wouldn't be on the increase around the world. It's becoming frighteningly obvious that the America that genuinely was a beacon of freedom after the end of the Second World War has now become a fascist oligarchy that is rapidly succumbing to God disease. I'm old enough to remember what the US used to be like - and it sure as hell isn't like that now. Washington is becoming a real menace.

9
2

NASA agonizes over plan for Mars rock sample return mission

Mike Smith
Pint

Re: Something's Wrong

Absolutely bang on. That's exactly how scientific studies should be done.

But the problem arises when people whose scientific knowledge barely registers on the scale are in positions to make decisions. Kind of like the feeling that the millenium bug was overblown because the world didn't collapse in a heap.

If I were God Emperor of the Universe, I'd prohibit people from having any authority over things they know nothing about, with a codicile that anyone with a financial background would be automatically barred from a CEO position in anything other than a finance company.

That ain't gonna happen, I know. But it's nice to dream, sometimes.

Have a pint, 'cos it's Friday.

1
0

Game of Thrones written on brutal medieval word processor and OS

Mike Smith

Nah.

REAL men use COPY CON FILENAME.ZIP

4
0

London cabbies to offer EVEN WORSE service in protest against Uber

Mike Smith
Pint

Re: There's a difference

Spot on. Have an upvote. And a pint 'cos it's Friday.

3
1
Mike Smith

You wha'?

Bang aht of ordah, me ole china. Cammon, you can rabbit on abaht it being only a bladdy app on the dog an' bone, but it's taking bread orf us Lahndan cabbies, innit? Ow we going to pay for a pig's ear dahn the rub-a-dub if these bleedin' septic tanks are trying to muscle into our manor? Bit of decent cockney twatting's wot they need, mate, I'll tell yer. When I was a saucepan, we knew 'ow to sort geezers like them aht.

I 'ad that Reggie Kray in the back of the cab once.

17
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Brit IT workers are so stressed that 'TWO-THIRDS' want to quit

Mike Smith
Mushroom

Stress in MY role is from telling the truth and being pulled up for it

"They also can't perform the most basic diganosis checks on things or understand simple coding concepts."

Or worse, when they do try to do some checks, make a complete balls-up of it and won't believe you when you tell show them where they went wrong.

Not long ago, I was asked to create some dummy data to populate a DB2 database for performance testing. Not exactly a taxing job - a wee bit of PL/SQL in my trusty Oracle Express and hey presto, out came some sample text files for loading into the database. A quick test by my tame DBA showed all was in order, so I generated the full set of data. No code changes needed, just a runtime parameter to control the number of records written.

So imagine my surprise when I received a flood of snot and tears from the test data development team. The files were all complete pants. The dates were ALL in the wrong format and wouldn't load. They could not sign the files off, the test schedule was completely wrecked and it was all my fault.

But there was nothing wrong with the files that I could see. One bad-tempered trip across town later, I showed the files to the whinger and stepped through each character, proving the format was OK. Nowt wrong wi 'em, lad.

"But we are using Excel to check the files," bozo told me, completely straight-faced. "And look, the dates are all wrong. The file cannot be correct." This guy was supposed to be a data expert and an experienced developer.

After I'd spent about twenty minutes trying to explain that Excel does what it likes with fields it thinks are dates, and he was wasting his time and mine on non-existent issues, Mr von Braun had to go to a project control meeting, where he would escalate his concerns.

The written summary I sent to him, his manager, my manager and half the project board landed me in a bit of hot water, but sod it. Sometimes you have to tell it like it is.

Fortunately, I no longer work for that company.

4
0

New .london domains touted tomorrow amid usual tech hypegasm

Mike Smith
Trollface

Re: Yet nobody's asked 'why .london instead of .LDN'

Actually, it took me about fifteen minutes to jot that down. However, I must hang my head in shame - I didn't realise there were so many closet Lily Allen fans on here, and I'm terribly sorry for upsetting them.

I shall now go away and write out a thousand times, "I must not disrespect Lily Allen on El Reg."

1
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Mike Smith
Paris Hilton

Yet nobody's asked 'why .london instead of .LDN'

Easy - Lily Allen's registered prior art:

Riding through the city on my bike all day

Cause the Tube's all out on strike again

It really gets me down and this ain't OK

Cause I won't get home tonight before ten

Boris says London's leading the world

Because it's getting its own domain name

There's a major risk to branding as the TLD's expanding

Because squatting's just a legal blame game

You might laugh, you might frown

Surfing round London town

Pie is in the sky

Oh why, oh why would I wanna be anywhere else?

Pie is in the sky

Oh why, oh why would I wanna be anywhere else?

When you look with your eyes

Hipsters all sound bright

But if you look twice

You can see it's all shite

Fortnum and Mason have a big shop in town

You can meet them down in Piccadilly

They're buying a domain 'cos they think they need the fame

Even though the long name is silly

Then a shyster comes along to offer a hand

And as soon as they've signed the contract

Shag 'em up the rear end, leave them with an ABEND

And vanish without leaving a contact

You might laugh, you might frown

Surfing round London town

Pie is in the sky

Oh why, oh why would I wanna be anywhere else?

Pie is in the sky

Oh why, oh why would I wanna be anywhere else?

When you look with your eyes

Hipsters all sound bright

But if you look twice

You can see it's all shite

Life

Yeah, that's city life

Yeah, that's city life

Yeah, that's city life

5
13

95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift

Mike Smith
Thumb Up

Good technologies always need backups

BOFH: Will that be all, officer?

Police Officer: Not quite. Could you explain this, please?

PFY: It looks like a bolt cutter.

BOFH: Quite a big bolt cutter, in fact. What about it?

Police Officer: Do you know where I found it?

BOFH: Oh, do tell me.

Police Officer: It was attached to the cable anchor on top of the lift car. With the remains of a hydraulic ram attached to the handles. And some wires from the ram running to what's left of the control panel.

PFY: Yeah? And?

Police Officer: Why would that be there?

BOFH: Some sort of emergency release unit? Look, that's what the label says. "Emergency Release No 2."

Police Officer: I beg your pardon? Emergency release unit?

BOFH: Yes. In case the lift.... got stuck and the occupants... had to cut their way out.

Police Officer: I'm not satisfied with this. I shall be taking this for forensic investigation. You two will stay right here while I go down in the other lift.

<Ding><Whirr><Whirr><Clunk>

<CRUNCH><Whizzzzzzz><CRASH!><tinkle>

PFY: Was that...

BOFH: Yep. Emergency Release No 1.

9
0

BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*

Mike Smith
Mushroom

Re: Oh, to be a fly on the wall...

Thanks for a most intriguing suggestion. I'm still trying my damndest to sell a BOFH TV series - I've accumulated enough rejection letters now to wallpaper my office - but in spite of that I'm starting to plan the third series. In which the BOFH needs to find a new job.

Interviewed by Dominic... hmm, I can see where that's going to go. Yep, I really like that idea.

The icon's not a spoiler, because we know how it'll end up. But the journey will be entertaining, I can definitely promise that.

1
0

Dark SITH LORD 'Darth Vader' joins battle to rule, er, Ukraine

Mike Smith

Re: @Mike Smith - Try seeing it from the Kremlin's point of view

"Russia has a legitimate interest in Crimea so was justified in taking it over"

Er, let me fix that - Russia has a legitimate interest in Crimea so believed they were justified in taking it over.

"was no threat to that base except in Russian imagination and propaganda."

Quite correct - there was no immediate threat. And yes, Russian imagination and propaganda doubtless influenced their actions. Putin may have thought that might change in the future, and if he didn't act promptly now, a later objection would lose any legitimacy it might currently have.

"I believe the 'new' Ukrainian parliament did, misguidedly pass a law removing Russian as an official language (oh boo fuckin' hoo, cry me a river)"

You beat me to it with the Godwin's Law alert, but it's a good comparison. Hitler didn't unleash full-scale repression against the Jews as soon as he was appointed Chancellor - he started out by chipping away slowly. There's a useful summary here:

http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/voices/info/decrees/decrees.html

It started with book-burning and intimidation by the Brownshirts and ended with continuous deportations ten years later. When you remember the horrendous brutality the Nazis dished out to the Russians, it becomes easier to understand why people in that part of the world are so sensitive to such matters and don't see it as paranoia; because in Eastern Europe, they've got direct experience of what the eventual outcome might be.

"let's be clear about this: it's none of Russia's fuckin' business who Ukraine decides to align itself with"

Well, the Kremlin doesn't see it that way. To understand why, ask yourself this - how would Britain react if Ireland decided it was in its best interests to align itself with a country that hates our guts? How would America react if Mexico and North Korea signed a mutual co-operation and defence treaty? Would that be none of London or Washington's fuckin' business?

2
2
Mike Smith
Thumb Down

Re: Try seeing it from the Kremlin's point of view

"Which Ukraine had not threatened."

Yet. Again, try to see it from Russia's viewpoint. It probably made more sense to Putin to act quickly to secure it rather than wait for it to descend into chaos. Also, how bad would it look domestically if it looked like he was abandoning ethnic Russians to the vagaries of a lawless state?

"Also Russia has a Black Sea coast on the Caucasus side...I'm sure there's a bay on that coast somewhere that would do if needs must."

Yesss... building a major naval base from scratch in an undeveloped coastal inlet can be done for peanuts and completed in a few months. Of course. How silly to think otherwise.

"How did that suddenly turn into a 97% referendum vote the other way?"

Maybe they felt threatened by the violence and realised they were an ethnic minority in Ukraine as a whole?

"The internationally-recognised Ukrainian government, corrupt or not, has been ousted in an armed uprising."

"Bollocks!"

That's only your opinion. Again, look at it from the Kremlin's point of view. They saw instability in a neighbouring country, realised that it could have an impact on an important strategic asset and moved quickly to secure that asset.

"Iraq was legal."

I must have missed something. Very sorry indeed. Please could you quote me the UN resolution that explicitly authorised the use of force against Saddam and which was passed before the invasion took place?

"Arguably so admittedly, but there is a legitimate legal argument to say that it was legal"

There's a moral argument, certainly. Not a legal one. And if, as you assert, international law is "semi-fictional", then you need to explain how you can make a legal argument in the absence of a legal code without resorting to morals.

"the UN did approve the occupation."

It's called a fait accompli. What else could they do?

"There was also no annexation"

Quite right - an armed occupation is something else entirely.

"and troops were withdrawn after a government was set up."

Indeed they were withdrawn. Eventually. Leaving a lot of dead bodies and an unstable mess plagued with sectarian violence. Or is that what's meant by collateral damage?

"Notice any difference of the Russian invasion of Crimea?"

Loads. A lot less bloodshed, a lot more legitimate interest, far less posturing and no lies to all and sundry about weapons of mass destruction, state-sponsored terrorism and support for al-Quaeda.

"There is not even an arguable case for Russia's annexation to be called legal."

Depends where you're coming from. A tap-room lawyer would certainly say that. Again, in the face of "semi-fictional" international law, it's possible to make a reasonable case.

"Aha. So now the faux moral arguments and the everyone-esle-is-as-bad-too whattaboutery go by the wayside."

No, they don't. They still stand. They just have to be balanced against realpolitik because that's what it comes down to in the end.

"Russia is a serial violator of international law and a threat to world peace."

Maybe they've learned a lot from the actions of the US, the UK and Israel over the years.

"invading their neighbours. What with destroying Chechenya and massacreing thousands"

Chechnya wasn't a separate sovereign state. Bit of a difference there. I'm not excusing what Putin did in Chechnya but he didn't launch an unprovoked invasion, unlike what Bush and Blair did in Iraq.

"So rather than the childish crap about how we need to look to the beam in our own eye before addressing the mote in Putin's we need to look at the reality facing us."

Indeed we do. As far as armed aggression goes, the West, particularly the US, has a track record that doesn't put us in a particularly favourable light.

"The question is can we work out Putin's motivation - and is he acting rationally?"

It seems to me to be far more rational to secure an essential asset without bloodshed than to launch an unprovoked attack on a country on the other side of the world.

"Merkel (up to now Germany has been pretty close to Russia diplomatically) said, after speaking to Putin on the phone last week, that he was "divorced from reality"."

Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But there is still the point that Putin has not directly threatened either NATO or the EU. If he'd tried it on with Finland or the Baltic states, it would be different matter. If the EU takes a tough line with Putin, there will be some pain on both sides. Why act the hard man when the EU hasn't been threatened? Massive sanctions would hit the EU harder than the US.

"Note that at no time did Putin attempt to negotiate."

His attitude - again, remember how the Kremlin would have seen it - was, and is, that you don't negotiate with terrorists or insurgents. You crush them. Again, the West also has plenty of form in that area. It took a long time to get to the Good Friday agreement. How are the negotiations with ETA going? Or the Taliban?

And no, I'm not a Putin apologist. Or a supporter of armed aggression. I'm just an ordinary bod who's prepared to make the effort to see both sides of the argument and not automatically assume that the West is always right.

3
6
Mike Smith
Mushroom

Try seeing it from the Kremlin's point of view

Consider this:

- Sevastopol is Russia's outlet to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. It's a strategically important asset - as much as Gibraltar or Faslane is to the UK, or Pearl Harbor is to the US.

- Ethnic Russians are the majority population in Crimea.

- The internationally-recognised Ukrainian government, corrupt or not, has been ousted in an armed uprising. The fact that the immediate cause was a refusal to buddy up with the EU rather than Russia is neither here nor there.

Think how Britain would react if such an uprising had happened in Spain, or what the American federal government would do if it happened in Hawaii. They'd do their utmost to secure important assets, just as Putin has done. They wouldn't see it as sabre rattling - more like taking reasonable security precautions.

Furthermore, the West's in no position to bleat about flouting international law after what happened to Iraq. Putin's annexing of Crimea didn't involve the slaughter of thousands and the destruction of the peninsula's economy.

The Ukrainian government should have had a lot more sense. They should have realised Sevastopol's importance to Russia, known that Putin wouldn't let it go, and remembered what happened to Georgia. They should also have kept in mind that Russia is the one country on the planet that still has the ability to turn the US into a radioactive cinder if sufficiently provoked. That means that Obama and Kerry can't push Putin too far.

As things stand, Putin has what he wants - access to a secure Crimea - and doesn't need to bother with the rest of Ukraine. He can always turn the gas off if Kiev pisses him off enough.

Basically, Kiev should have seen it coming.

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