* Posts by The Mole

233 posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

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Legal eagles accuse Labour of data law breach over party purge

The Mole

"then "data protection" does not apply to them using that tweet to decide you cannot vote."

The information is in the public domain yes, but the argument is that by copying the tweet into their own database, by associating that tweet with a person applying for membership, and then by using that tweet to determine whether the application should succeed then they are storing and processing sensitive personal information without informed explicit concent.

The fact it was originally public information (probably) becomes irrelevant as soon as they start to process it for other purposes.

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Oi, Google! Remove links to that removed story, yells forceful ICO

The Mole

Re: Please remove the link...

Something along the lines of:

if search.query contains "Blobbo Boggins and result contains "inflatable friend" then exclude result from list.

Annoying but no different to what they do with safe search or other types of illegal content they have to block

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Austrian court rules online radio streaming is not broadcasting

The Mole

Re: Just cos it's legal doesn't mean it's right

The court ruled that it is not illegal to own a computer and access the online version of the content without having paid the license.

The court did not rule that the broadcaster has to make the online content available to everyone, just that they couldn't prosecute against those who didn't have the license.

Unless required by law to provide the online content (which I'd be surprised at) then they can apply whatever access controls restrictions they like and as long as it isn't discriminatory then there is little the courts are likely to do.

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Ireland loses entire airport amid new postcode chaos

The Mole

Re: Privacy concern?

Because a lot of surveys ask for postcode (and no other address details) for categorizing responses into geographic areas. Generally in the UK they will only use the first 4 or 5 digits (not needing to go down to road segment level) but will get a user to enter the entire postcode as its easier than trying to explain which part they do want. If the eircode identifies the house the anonymous survey is suddenly a lot less anonymous.

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This box beams cafes' Wi-Fi over 4kms so you can surf in obscurity

The Mole

Re: Fail of fails.

In the UK librarians (as opposed to volunteers) are increasingly rare in libraries, there will be IT staff in the central office who will nominally be looking after the IT infrastructure, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Wifi was subcontracted out to a third party to operate, probably with some form of unlimitted/Gigabytes plan. A single person connecting from a long way away is not going to add any traffic spikes above what a single additional person connecting locally will do. The contractor won't care even if they did as they aren't spending their own money to monitor it. The wifi will no more be watched over than the taps are watched over by an onsite plumber...

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Blocking mobile adverts just became that little bit easier

The Mole

Well it is being done by an Israeli tech company so I'm sure they've thought long and hard about interception.

As well as the interception issues there are likely to also be copyright issues for the operators. Unlike home users modifying the content on their own machines (probably covered under fair use/private copying type provisions) the mobile operators are modifying the page content for profit (through reducing costs), at the same time they are depriving the content providers of advertising revenue meaning there are actual damages that those content providers will be able to claim for. Personally if I were a mobile operator lawyer I wouldn't want to go near it because of this reason.

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Ofcom: Oi, BT! Don't be greedy – feed dark fibre to your rivals

The Mole

My guess is because BT is able to deploy dark fibre much cheaper thanks to all the ducting, exchange buildings and other infrastructure which was 'gifted' to BT when it became a private company.

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Self-STOPPING cars are A Good Thing, say motor safety bods

The Mole

Re: Transitional period

If you are following the highway code distance then you will be able to stop in time regardless of how quickly the car in front breaks. The highway code distance is assuming something has fallen off the back of a lorry and so isn't moving, the stopping distance should be the distance required to recognise, break and come to a stop before hitting it. Most drivers don't follow the highway code however and assume that a shorter gap is sufficient, relying on the fact the car in front is unlikely to come to a sudden halt and so the total distance you have to stop over is longer than the initial gap..

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Don’t want a footie-field-size data centre? No problem (or is there?)

The Mole

Re: Not really surprising

Don't forget the level of support/warranty you are likely to get between the two offerings as well.

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Infusion pump is hackable … but rumours of death are exaggerated

The Mole

Network accessibility

Gaining access to the wifi network may be challenging if it has been properly secured, but the fact is most hospitals have been retrofitted with ethernet cabling all over the place - certainly to doctors offices and nurses stations. These networks will be connected to the wifi network (I assume the whole sales pitch of needing wifi on pumps is to allow the nurses to monitor them remotely without having to actually go look at their patients?).

The question isn't how secure is the wifi network, but how hard is it to plug a cable into a spare ethernet network port and start using the network?

A well setup network will presumably use mac address checking and the like to prevent rouge devices connecting but I don't know how easy those are to be defeated.

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The Mole

Re: So an exploit can be delivered over WiFi. What about a harmful agent?

A lot of drugs need to be infused over a period of time otherwise they are dangerous - hence why they are being infused rather than injected in the first place. If you deliver over 30 minutes what should have been delivered over 6 hours then there is a very real chance of serious harm before it is noticed.

That said I do agree that the real risk is relatively low - though the low risk of getting caught and impersonal nature of doing it remotely may make the theoretical risk higher than that of a person walkign round fiddling with the machines.

That said I'm not sure why they would need wifi to begin with, they have a screen for a reason and I'd hope don't require regular software updates anyway given they don't actually do much.

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UK exam board wants kids to be able to Google answers

The Mole

Course Work

Of course this already exists - it is called course work, with the added bonus the time constraints don't have to be as strict (depending on how organised the pupil is or if they leave it to the last minute. Education and exams have a natural pendulum action between "course work makes it too easy restrict it and do exams" and "exams unfairly favour those good at fact retention and writing fast course work is far fairer". Personally I'd say course work reflects the real world of work far more accurately but then I also think the point of university is for academic people to be academical and advance the boundaries of knowledge so it all comes down to what you think the purpose of school, exams and university is for.

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E-voting and the UK election: Pick a lizard, any lizard

The Mole

Faster Counts and Costs

How much does running a polling station actually cost?

Looking at http://thanet.gov.uk/your-services/elections-and-voting/working-at-elections/working-at-elections/ it's a probably less than a thousand pounds covering staff, transport, pencils and hire.

It adds up but the likelyhood of an all electronic system properly maintained and updated actually coming in cheaper seems low to me.

As for the supposed benefit of poll results coming in quicker my general response is who cares? Even historically it hasn't been a big problem to wait until the next morning to find out who has formed the government, in the current situation even when the poll results have been done it is likely to be days (if not weeks) before we know who the government is anyway.

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Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

The Mole

Harm..

In many ways I have little issue with Google enhancing its search engine to embed info boxes from its own products (e.g. type a postcode it shows a map), nor is it unreasonable that if you use a combination of google products you may get an enhanced experience.

What I do have a problem with is if Google manipulates the 'organic' search results so that competitors are artificially ranked lower so that a normal user isn't likely to find them compared to results for google products. Manipulating the ranking of competitors making them harder to find would be abusing the monopoly on search results.

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Revealed: The AMAZING technology behind Apple's $1299 Retina MacBooks – a lot of glue

The Mole

Re: Objection!

I think you missed the point of the post. Apple kit (like any other) does have failures - even (as you say) if just from people being people and dropping stuff or spilling liquids on it. Making the devices next to impossible and uneconomical to repair is irresponsible and bad for the environment as for even minor breakages it is more economic to replace the whole unit regardless of the environmental cost.

There is a balance to be had but I for one don't believe that Apple's margins are so tight that they can't afford to effectively screw/clip the battery in place rather than use glue making it near impossible to replace safely,

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Sony tells hacked gamer to pay for crooks' abuse of PlayStation account

The Mole

What evidence do you have that he had a weak password, its not like the Sony network has never been compromised. Alternatively he may have been tricked into entering it on a web form, or credentials could have been sniffed off his network (no idea if it is encrypted or not).

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Euro THERMONUCLEAR REACTOR PROJECT is in TROUBLE

The Mole

Re: Hypocrites

If I remember right it is the European Commission not the European Parliament who are ones with the reallly dodgy accounts. I've always thought that Peter Mandelson must have really felt at home in the commission..

That said I'm sure the quality of the European Parliament accounts and expenses claims are superb...

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My self-driving cars may lead to human driver ban, says Tesla's Musk

The Mole

Re: Not a problem solved

I agree things do go wrong, many humans have coughing fits, distractions around them meaning they avert their eyes (which have minimal redundancy for depth perception anyway), drive erratically due to moods, fall asleep at the wheel, drive when drunk, drive with the onset of dementia, and keep driving even when warning lights, banging sounds, etc suggest that they should stop.

These are all errosr/sensor faults that already happen. A self driving car will have redundancy for important sensors and (unlike humans) will fail safe - pulling over and waiting for a service vehicle to come along and fix the faulty sensor much to the annoyance of the passenger who would just have ignored it. They will never be 100% safe but the probability of the types of errors you describe happening and causing a catastrophic failure is going to be lower than the 'faults' that a proportion of human drivers repeatedly drive with.

As for servicing my bet is that in the short-medium term then either

a) you don't buy the car you hire with servicing and insurance included (as standard insurance companies will initially not insure it)

b) They will be full of DRM/require software being reset during the servicing meaning the only genuine parts at the genuine service station are capable to do it and we will pay through the roof for the privilege.

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Battle for control of Earth's unconnected souls moves to SPAAAACE

The Mole

Re: Did I miss....

To be fair providing access (and sharing) of information on techniques and technology to improve sanitation (e.g. how to make a bio-toilet, how to use malaria nets efficiently or prevent the breading of mosquitos), farming (irrigation methods, accurate weather forecasting, prices in the local (or not so local market), and poverty reduction (solar lights, access to new markets, how to effectively reuse the materials around you) are all things that will contribute to the above. What balance between on the ground and the costs is of course an important question.

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Yahoo! wheels! out! password! on-demand! service! for! simpletons!

The Mole

Doesn't actually reduce security

If you have access to some ones phone sufficient to request the password then you will almost certainly (for most users) already have access to their email accounts that they have on their phones. All this services is effectively automating is the pressing of the 'forgotten password' link and creating the new password through the reminder email link.

Of course if you come to rely on this service you are stuffed if your phone breaks and you can't log in to setup a new phone number as you can't create a one time password to log in with...

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RIP Sir Terry Pratchett: Discworld author finally gets to meet DEATH

The Mole

Re: Oookk. OOK.

I couldn't have expressed it better myself.

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Look, no handsets: How to do telephony without a phone

The Mole

Redundancy

Combining everything onto a single network does have serious limitations though particularly if the network every fails and you want to call the IT team to tell them of that fact...

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Legalising London's bed-hopping economy is POINTLESS

The Mole

Interesting logic

The logic in the article seems to be that because this law isn't currently being enforced then there is no reason to repeal the law. This seems backwards, if the law isn't currently being enforced then councils should either be encouraged to actually enforce it, or the law should be repealed. Having unenforced laws hanging around the statute books are among the worst types of laws, they allow for malicious prosecutions and penalise the people who try to actually be law abiding - if it isn't being enforced and you are ignorant of it then you are (probably) fine, if you aren't ignorant of it and law abiding you loose out.

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Top Euro court ends mega ebook VAT slash in France, Luxembourg

The Mole

Re: VAT Fraud!

The flaw in your argument is that Bob is *generally* more likely to use his increased income to but a newer more fuel efficient car, whilst Joe is *generally* forced to by an old banger and therefore pays more VAT on the petrol he is using.

That said I agree with you it is one of the better taxes, the biggest problem with it are the oddities in some of the rules that make it inconsistent and illogical (books vs ebooks being a prime example).

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Adobe launches cashless bug bounty

The Mole

Re: The problem is cost.

They could at the very least give free subscriptions to their online services - that has a real cost of zero and would encourage people to continue looking for further issues.

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$533 MEEELLION – the cost of Apple’s iTunes patent infringement

The Mole

Re: Gotta love Apple.

What do you mean by a model? Is a computer model/mathematic proof sufficient? After-all why should Mr Smith loose out because he can't afford to manufacture his new jet engine? Without a patent he can't safely go and ask someone else with the skills and equipment to manufacture it as they could just steal the idea and will have the resources to make it quicker.

I totally agree though that the system is broken, mathematical techniques and processes shouldn't be patentable (covering most of software - that can be copyrighted), the tests for innovative, technical effect and non-obvious to someone skilled in the art should actually be enforced. Taking X and shoving it on the internet or on a mobile phone is not generally innovative or non-obvious. Thinks like bouncing menus don't have technical effects and are just processes/mathematical techniques anyway.

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Be your own Big Brother: Covert home spy gadgetry

The Mole

Re: re. 'Casio' and 'Pure' items

My guess is they are genuine Sony/Pure/Casio products.. . just with some 'after-market' modifications done to them and being sold second hand. It's legal with cars, but whether a judge would take the same view of these type of modifications is another matter.

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Evil CSS injection bug warning: Don't let hackers cross paths with your website

The Mole

Its a webserver serving a dynamic page there's no need for the url to bare any relation to files on a file system at all. The website may be configued to pass anything after showthreads.php into the php script - which the script may then just ignore.

The route of the problem would seem to be the browser is way too lenient with parsing css and will pull definitions out of any old junk.

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Win! Classic El Reg tees, plus something special for the weekend

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Your hard drives were RIDDLED with NSA SPYWARE for YEARS

The Mole

Re: Wait

What makes you think they haven't developed linux versions of the attack? The basic mechanisms wouldn't be that different.

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Amazon's delivery drones SHOT DOWN by new FAA rules

The Mole

Total autonomy is still allowed - as long as its possible to interrupt that autonomy in an emergency. The purpose of a robot is to perform tasks more efficiently, more reliably, and (particularly for flying drones) from a position that a human can not get into easily. None of these purposes are defeated by requiring a human to be present in the field to ensure that drone doesn't malfunction or crash into another person. I'm sure farmers would much prefer to do the job sat in a chair/on a quad bike supervising then actually having to do the manual labour themselves.

Long term when we get more experience with the technology then the rules will undoubtedly get watered down and change, until that happens these seem a pretty good compromise.

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The Mole

As long as the fully automated drone has the capability for the user to override and take emergency control then it still fine - I very much doubt there are any drones which don't full into this category.

Emergency control probably boils down to dynamic route replanning (ie telling it to stop and hover, or giving it a new destination/manually defined route to fly).

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Lashed Saudi blogger Raif: Prince Charles has word with new king

The Mole

Re: Judiciary vs the Executive

"but all that the current King can do is to offer a pardon."

Yes, but I'm not sure why you say 'all' when that outcome is exactly what everybody would like. All that needs to happen is for the king to give him the pardon. (And ideally the laws get changed/no longer abused).

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Crap mobile coverage costs UK biz £30m a week, reckons survey

The Mole

Three take the alternative approach of providing an app for the phone which seamlessly hands phone and sms off over a wifi connection instead. So if the office (or house) already have wifi that the phone can use you are sorted, ditto for hotels offering free wifi (and who wants to stay in one that still try to charge through the nose for wifi?).

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What do UK and Iran have in common? Both want to outlaw encrypted apps

The Mole

Re: Good luck Dave

I almost crashed when I listened to that and realised Clegg actually understood the concept much better than the interviewer.

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Peers warn against rushing 'enhanced' DATA SLURP powers through Parliament

The Mole

Re: Not getting my vote...

I'm sure you are right there about the Greens. And the problem is, as the Lib Dems have found, it is very easy to have good policies in opposition but when in government for some reason the civil service and vested interests (and plain reality) make implementation of them turn into something quite different.

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The Mole

Re: Not getting my vote...

I agree, Labour and Conservatives are as bad and totalitarian as each other. Lib Dems (unfortunately) have got themselves into a bad position even when you give them the benefit of the doubt over what they have done behind the scenes to curb the conservatives agenda. UKIP are now seen as the place to go for a protest vote and it scares me what a government with them in would look like. I'd actually for the first time seriously considering voting for the Greens as a valid alternative party except their profile is so minimal I don't really know what they actually believe. With the right PR behind them they could come out as the alternative people who don't like UKIP go for... but I doubt they are going to get their acts together. Shame there's little to no chance of a new sensible moderate party suddenly being formed..

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Ladies and trolls: Should we make cyberbullying a crime? – Ireland

The Mole

Re: Canadian Perspective

Whilst that is a tragic occurrence you have to be careful, there's a well known legal maxim that hard cases make bad law. Even with this particular case why should the fact it was done online be special, afterall what if they hadn't emailed it and just shown it round the classroom instead or whatever? Most of these cases should be covered by existing harrasment laws - and if they don't then that's the law that probably needs improving

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No wind-up: Second New Year's honour for Baylis music box

The Mole

Re: What is all this about?

To recognise people who have made a worthwhile contribution to the United Kingdom and so deserve recognition. A good proportion of those are normal people like lollipop ladies for their contributions (perhaps the Queen has a soft spot for lollipop ladies,but every year there always seems to be one that has spent the last 40 years helping children cross the road). .

A bad proportion also seem to be for civil servants as a for of mutal back patting which hasn't really changed since the days of "Yes, Minister"

"James Hacker: I'm not going to approve any honour to any civil servant in this department who hasn't earned it.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: What do you mean "earned it"?

James Hacker: I mean "earned it". "Done something to deserve it".

Sir Humphrey Appleby: [indignantly] But that's unheard of!"

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Robox: How good could a sub-£1k 3D printer be?

The Mole

Came across the iBox printer today (http://www.iboxprinters.com/ibox-nano-1/) which also looks very interesting at only $300. UV resin based rather than extrusion which seems to give build results on their product page, I don't know how the strength of plastics compare and the ibox has limitted build area.

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Shock! Nork-grating flick The Interview WILL be in cinemas – Sony

The Mole

Christmas Day

The thing that most surprises me is that cinema's are open on Christmas Day, and apparently have enough demand to pay the wages of the poor people who are desperate enough to take the overtime (I assume) working there.

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UK air traffic bods deny they 'skimped' on IT investment after server mega-fail

The Mole

Re: Bad Data Input/High System Utilisation.

Its relatively simple to validate each individual field in isolation, however it quickly gets to be very difficult (and impossible in many schema languages) to validate inter-relationships between fields such as X must be less than Y unless Z is set to A.

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Welsh council rapped for covert spying on sick leave worker

The Mole

I'd expect my private company to expect a sick note (or nowadays a fitness for work note) detailing from a doctor that in the doctors expert medical opinion the employee needs to be signed off for whatever reason. Once they have that note I'd expect them to either trust that doctors note, or if they have doubts (and as most contracts explicitly allow) request a second opinion paid for by the company. That is the correct process to investigating suspect sickness leave. Jumping to intrusive (and presumably expensive) surveillance within 4 weeks certainly isn't the correct appoach. More advanced employees may would instead spend that money on looking at what it is in their processes and workplace that is causing the stress and/or providing counselling/stress management resources to the employee to help them cope.

Certainly I strongly doubt public and private companies differ greatly in how they handle stress and other long term sickness - though from personal experiences I know the stress placed on public employees is often much higher and there seems to be (on average, etc etc) less capable managers.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

The Mole

Re: Is the story photo selection automated?

In that case they need better training to pick ones that are an appropriate size and quality not stretched and distorted like the eu flag.

Better still make their lives slightly less busy and don't force pictures in for the sake of it. Its an old journalism adage that the picture should add to the story, just because you are digital doesn't make it any less true.

All a massive picture of the EU flag (or other stock photo) does at the top of an article is waste space and forces immediate scrolling to read more than a line of the story - meaning you now only have 1 line to get my interest not the whole paragraph. It also pushes adverts off the screen reducing views and potential clicks.

Currently I've not installed any ad-blocking and even occasionally click the adverts to support el reg. These images are annoying me so much that I'm seriously tempted to block out all images to make the site usable again.

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EU VAT law could kill THOUSANDS of online businesses

The Mole

Agreed, what the original poster was forgetting is that delivery is part of the service you are buying (it may be 'free' but it is still part of the contract you have formed with them. So by shipping it they have accepted the delivery part of the contract and thereby the whole of it.

Of course they could still call the delivery driver and get him to return and just breach the contract - if they refund you the money you're generally going to struggle to get anything else out of them beyond 'good will' gestures for their breach of it.

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Firms will have to report OWN diverted profits under 'Google Tax' law

The Mole
FAIL

Roy-Chowdhury said: "It's a bit like reporting yourself to the police and then having to defend yourself."

He added: "It seems strange that multinationals would have to report themselves and the the onus is on them to defend their [tax activities.]"

My understanding is this is exactly what self employed/small business owners/contractors have to do whenever they fill in self assessment/tax forms and are trying to claim a reduction on their taxable income (ie expenses).It must be so hard for this struggling multinationals that only employee a few hundred accountants and lawyers to do the same.

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BORGED! Expat moves from New Zealand to Norway to be acquired by Cisco

The Mole

Re: The second thing...

Speaking from experience that may not be a bad conclusion to draw...

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As-a-service upstarts will KILL OFF THE CORPORATES?

The Mole

From the workers perspective

Of course there are also benefits of firms from a workers perspective. Being a lone trader is risky with an uncertain and unpredictable cashflow, a firm provide continuity of income spreading the risk across multiple workers. Firms can also much more efficiently get professional indemnity and other types of insurance and delegate tasks so the worker can do the work they enjoy and not the admin. Hence why lots of people prefer to work for a company rather than have higher but riskier income contracting.

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Amazon: DROP DATABASE Oracle; INSERT our new fast cheap MySQL clone

The Mole

Latency

I'm sure that AWS may be faster for queries that requiring a lot of composition and processing time. However for many queries/applications (particularly ones using libraries like spring) it will be latency and round trip time which will dominate the operation and there is no way AWS will be able to compete with that.

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Yes, Samaritans, the law DOES apply to you. Even if you mean well

The Mole

Re: stop their Radar app from processing your tweets

If they were able to predict suicide with an incredibly high accuracy, and if they were then passing the information to somebody in authority then perhaps they could argue it. But they aren't. They are passing incredibly sensitive and probably inaccurate personal data to random strangers with a strong potential to harm the interests of the data subject.

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