* Posts by skelband

2079 posts • joined 18 Aug 2008

Amazon sighs, may slip hands into trousers to pay some UK corp tax

skelband
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> In other words, it's the government's job to intervene.

In general terms, yes I agree. However, as we saw with committees hauling in the executives of Amazon et al to publicly harangue them over their actual legal accounting arrangements, followed by laws tailored specifically for these small number of large multi-national companies, they are rather vindictively attempting to extract money from them.

I repeat, governments should make laws that suit the majority of people in the majority of situations. This law is a specific vindictive attempt to extract additional money from companies that they believe are not paying enough tax. The reality is that whatever these companies are avoiding in tax contributions make hardly a whit of difference to the overall budget of the UK government, large as the amount sounds. It is political grandstanding, pandering to a media shit storm of entirely their own manufacture. The worst kind of petty bickering that seems to dominate what passes for politics these days.

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skelband
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> The law is catching up with the new dynamics of on line buying

My take on it is entirely different.

The law is fast realising that in the new world economy, country boundaries for trade make a lot less sense now than at any time in the past.

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skelband
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Yet again we see a government bullying a company into paying them more cash. They're fast turning into highway robbers.

These issues are for the courts to decide and for good reason.

Regardless of what you think of the business practices of Amazon, Google et al, I really would not like to see an expansion of government intervening directly in the legal, financial affairs of individuals and companies. They should stick to policy and leave execution to the independent legal apparatus.

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Windows and OS X are malware, claims Richard Stallman

skelband
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Re: So what did YOU do then ?

> because unlike GPL3, those licenses allow them to keep their own proprietary code proprietary.

Erm, did you miss the bit about RMS hating proprietary code?

The whole point about GPL2 & 3 is to eradicate proprietary software. His aims are no secret.

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More Human: Designing a World Where People Come First

skelband
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Re: @Skelband: we've tried that

I was watching Fresco's interview with Larry King in 1974 (lots of examples on youtube).

Some of his ideas were clearly whack, like using nuclear waste for heating. His views have changed as knowledge has evolved. It's kinda weird though seeing how far ahead of his time he was even then.

He foresaw (like many others of course) the scale of unemployment that would be (and should be) caused by mechanisation. What we should be doing is mechanising *everything* that we don't want to do, thus leaving us eventually free to do what we really want.

There isn't an answer to everything, but if society can get to a stage where people need not work just to live, then that's a start and people really don't need that much. Somewhere to live, food, clean water, sanitary facilities and access to information and education. Everything else is just extra.

The main objections we see to this kind of scenario is "if people didn't have to work, wouldn't they just get really lazy and do nothing?". The evidence of what we see today is that so many people do charity work or they volunteer their time for worthwhile causes, the free software movement being one example. If we have enough people willing to do the little that needs to be done, then everyone else can just enjoy their leisure. They could enrich themselves with education, travel, exploration. These are all worthwhile pastimes. We just have to get out of the mindset that those that don't "work" are shirkers.

The other side of the coin is that the vast majority of the "work" that is done these days is a total waste of time. Bureaucrats pushing paper around, anything involved with the movement of money is really just pointless time wasting and if you think about it, that's a large proportion of what people do today. It's work constructed to give people employment. Government, law, finance, anything involving "business".

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skelband
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Re: @skelband

> Evidently you don't know how cults work.

Perhaps you could enlighten us then.

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skelband
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Re: @skelband

> Jacques Fresco strikes me as a cult leader who never managed to successfully found a cult.

Weird, because Fresco keeps saying "Don't believe what I'm saying. Think for yourself."

One of his most important "mantras" if you will, is that we are ultimately shaped and restricted by our culture, including himself. He neither claims to have a perfect plan for the future, and thinks that the idea of a "utopia" is a nonsense. He promises nothing but an idea that we can reshape our future and our culture by applying technology to the practical problems of living.

Strange cult that. However, he does have a large and growing following for these ideas and is largely aligned with the Zeitgeist movement's aims, although I see that they have parted ways from a partnership that they did used to have.

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skelband
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Re: we've tried that

> Jesus, Mohammed, Hitler and Lenin all had brilliant ideas for fixing society.

Well yes, but they were all demonstrably bollocks.

Karl Marx had a lot of "interesting" ideas, but ultimately even he admitted that they would never work.

And all of those ideas are trapped in the sphere of what we know. They are all just different varieties of political and economic systems, different ways of having lords and masters and ultimately all doomed to fail.

I seriously would suggest looking into the ideas of Fresco. This is no crackpot idealist. He is talking about the technological logical extension of what we have now but taking technology to its logical conclusion. The barrier that we have to transitioning to this system is the current incumbent which assumes that there is scarcity. Nearly everything that we do and think is based on a worldview that is rapidly diverging from how things really are.

We have so many ways of producing abundant forms of energy. The barrier to achieving this? Technology? No: economic "cost".

We have plenty of land for living on. Why do we have conflicts over land? Stupidity.

There is far more food than is needed to feed everyone on the planet. Is the barrier to this technology or the will of the populous? No. Politics.

Our current social and political systems were formed when there was scarcity and most work had to be done by people. We are long past that point. So why do we have long-since defunct economic systems based on scarcity? It's idiotic. Why do you think we have so much litigation over copyright and patents these days and a gradual historic departure from making money from labour? Because labour is becoming obsolete.

The future is bleak ladies and gentlemen unless we can really sort out the kind of future that we want and manage to get over ourselves long enough to implement it.

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skelband
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The only way to fix unfixable social systems are to rip them up and start from scratch.

We can all dream about remaking society into something worthy of our race's hopes and dreams but very few people dare even talk about them because most don't really realise that there are alternatives.

Most of the alternatives that most people can conceive of are just more of the same of what we have had before, all with the same obvious flaws, and have some element of pitting ourselves against each other.

True real alternatives are few and far between but anyone interesting in thinking really big and differently listen to the lectures of Jacques Fresco and his Venus Project.

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Rand Paul stages Senate filibuster against Patriot Act

skelband
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Re: My theory on supporters...

"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." - Cardinal Richelieu

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Driverless cars deal DEATH to Detroit, says Barclays

skelband
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> When are we going to see driverless buses and trains I wonder.

The Metro Vancouver Skytrain has been driverless since 1986.

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skelband
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Re: Misses the piint

> Oh, and this rather presupposes that anyone can get a fully automated unsupervised vehicle driving on the road. I doubt that they'll ever manage that. Legally at the moment you have to be behind the wheel, sober and qualified and paying attention. Hardly seems worth it to me!

Well if we believe Google's stats on the subject (what was it? 11 incidents, all caused by humans), they seem far more capable than the equivalent meatbags. Taking that with the fact that they're still at the prototype stage, there's every reason to believe that they would be much safer than human drivers.

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skelband
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Most likely if the car is being run pretty constantly throughout the day, those miles will be like motorway miles, with the engine running hot all the time.

Coaches run pretty much constantly and the can run up a serious amount of miles between services because they are running hot rather then the cold/lukewarm of most domestic cars.

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Virtual reality pr0n on the Rift? 'Why not?' says Oculus founder

skelband
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> Virtual muck not struck from smut bucket content glut to Luckey's luck

What the f*ck?

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Milking cow shot dead by police 'while trying to escape'

skelband
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> Milking cow...

How do they manage that with hooves? Don't you really need thumbs to achieve this feat?

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Look out, law abiding folk: UK’s Counter-Extremism Bill slithers into view

skelband
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Re: RE:Well I'm still trying to get my head around what is wrong with this idea anyway.

> That- is what is wrong with the idea- the parts you missed out and the parts he left out.

I think you misunderstood, me. I agree with the sentiment that if you are law abiding, then the government should have no interest in you whatsoever. That Cameron thinks that this is now not unacceptable is what I can't get my head around.

I could have better phrased my comment, I do admit.

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skelband
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Well I read the uk.gov linked page:

Believe it or not, on the very same page:

"Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality."

...then...

"introducing Banning Orders for extremist organisations who seek to undermine democracy or use hate speech in public places, but fall short of proscription"

Jesus wept though, the content of that page is frightening...or is that the point?

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skelband
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Re: as long as you obey the letter of the law, then legally they can't currently touch you

> ...we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone

Well I'm still trying to get my head around what is wrong with this idea anyway.

Why wouldn't you leave someone alone that is obeying the law?

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

skelband
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This might be an unpopular view but I think that a lot of the measures to remove control from the driver in the drive to improve safety are generally retrograde to the attention for a lot of drivers. The less you have to do as a driver, the less attention some seem to pay.

Such things as:

- air bags.

- ABS

- automatic gearboxes

- automatic windscreen wipers

- automatic lights

- lane alignment warnings

- cruise control

- etc

Don't get me wrong, many of the safety features of modern cars undeniably save lives. However, there is a reason that some train drivers are given "dummy" buttons to press to keep them awake. They just don't have very much to do which is rapidly becoming the case for many cars these days.

I think that this will become worse and worse until we feel that the only way to get safety is fully autonomous vehicles.

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$19 billion made from dumped e-waste every year, says UN

skelband
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Not a single mention, that I could see in that list, of actually reducing waste at source.

Mandate that electronics sold in the EU have to have a minimum level of servicability (i.e. without the use of glue to make repair impossible) and regulations governing plans for recovery of materials when the device becomes useless.

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So what would the economic effect of leaving the EU be?

skelband
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> Life is always a game of staying just ahead of the axe. Are you suggesting we don't deal with this generation's problems because the solution doesn't also deal with the next generations?

Quite, but I think the poster's point was that importation of yet more people is not a real answer at all. The solution (even temporary) to debt is never more debt.

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Fox gives Minority Report the nod – precog goes primetime on tellybox

skelband
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Re: New exciting direction

> Also: Why do movie companies buy the rights to books and then turn out a film that doesn't resemble the book?

Also "Seventh Son" springs to mind, a travesty of the original, quite enjoyable teen book series, which I just finished the other day.

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So how should we tax these BASTARD COMPANIES, then?

skelband
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Re: @ skelband

> School, college, uni, work, rented accommodation, bought a house. You?

Your perspective is tainted by your own very limited experience.

A professional of my and your experience, 40 years ago, would have expected to be able to have a (non-working) housewife, a detached house and garden, membership of a club and servants (yes, being an employer as well) and expect to retire with a decent pension.

Now in most places in the western civilisation, if you live where work is, are white-collar professionals (married or otherwise), in order to afford even an apartment, both you and your wife will have to work long hours with a crippling mortgage with very little left over to save for retirement. You can forget about hiring others, you can't possibly afford it.

If you have kids, what little savings you have will likely be destroyed by school and college fees, costs of books etc which have increased exponentially despite the real cost of education and publishing going down. Your kids could take out student loans, you say though. What better way to get them onto the debt mill than this? Is this the future we want for our offspring?

This is no fantasy. It is the life that I live now and millions of others do every day. And all of this is caused by the perversion of our current economic systems and the scarcity of the need for labour. It will only get worse because I can think of no reason why it should get better. The downward spiral of debt and cost of living increases is built into the economic systems of our countries.

Up until now, the downward spiral has been so slow and insidious, that most people don't realise it is happening.

But don't worry. You have the latest smartphone. Technology is indeed decreasing the labour that our industries need and improving efficiency. There are acres of factories powered almost entirely by robots that were once full of people. That's great and it makes great cars and cell phones.

The problem is that our social and economic systems demand that to live, we need labour. And although service and technology industry jobs are taking their place, technology is more rapidly moving into those areas. In the last 15 years or so, we have seen an explosion of automation, driving people out. Even in that small amount of time, we are now talking *seriously* about surgery being performed more efficiently and consistently with better surgical outcomes and less pain by machines rather than humans. It will become commonplace in the next 10 years. All those surgeons had better start looking for different careers. Delivery networks are almost entirely automated. Financial systems are almost entirely automated. So much of what is left for people to do, that we call "service industry" is just organising this vast engine of economic consumption. About 95% of government is there solely to manage this monster and to chastise those that question it.

So what is the response to this from the industries that remain? Protectionism and perverse incentives to fight this technological revolution so that we can preserve the need for money to live, even though money and the labour that it purportedly represents is fast becoming irrelevant. Extreme copyright and patent extortion. The fabrication of "wars" to give people something to do and to distract them.

Up until now, this has all happened over a time scale that most people don't appreciate. The rate of change is getting faster and faster though. We can't continue to remake our labour faster than technology is developing to take it over.

Unfortunately, the first to seriously suffer will be retired people. Increasingly, people are finding that it just isn't possible to save enough for retirement. The cost of living is rising faster than wages. State pensions are drying up as governments have less money to spend on them (despite the fact that tax is rising). The baby boomers have exacerbated the situation and many people think the this is the only reason for the pension crisis. It isn't. It is just making it happen sooner and more obviously that it would otherwise. Even so, many commentators are talking about the pension crisis now in terms of people failing to save for the future. In the 80s many professionals were hoping to retire early, say at 45. Now many professionals are wondering if they will ever be able to retire at all.

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skelband
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Re: @ skelband

People are working longer hours and their standard of living is declining. In a lot of places well qualified professionals can't even afford to buy a house. Where have you been for the last 30 years?

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skelband
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Mushroom

So, what do we do for work when everything is completely automated then?

The underlying problem is that "work" is rapidly becoming obsolete. Yes, "service industries" I hear you say. AI will take care of most of that in the next 10 years or so.

All our economies will crash by then. Our money will be worthless and we will have a depression far worse than in the 30s for real, concrete reasons rather than imaginary, confidence-based ones.

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skelband
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Re: Fair Tax?

> If we were told that we have to pay 47% of our income in tax a massive evasion industry would result.

Of course the real elephant in the room is that this is an obscene level of taxation.

Most people don't seem to realise the total extent to which the government (and by proxy the EU) robs from us each year.

A 25% sales tax might be quite equitable if the government manager to reel-in its expenditure to a reasonable level. But it is not in the nature of bureaucracies to reduce their consumption.

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Canada passes controversial spook-powers law

skelband
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Almost nobody here in Canada wants this new law. The attack on Parliament wasn't even a terror attack in the political sense of the word that most people understand it.

A pox on all of the politicians that agreed to this travesty of a law. It *will* be an issue at the next election.

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Keurig to drop coffee DRM after boss admits 'we were wrong'

skelband
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> We took it away because My K-Cup wasn't going to work with our new system.

"We took it away because our new system was designed specifically to not work with My K-Cup."

There, fixed it for you.

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Online pizza order saves woman and children from knife-wielding kidnapper

skelband
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> ... and obstructing justice by depriving communication to law enforcement.

They really have a specific law for that?

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Australia cracks tech giants' tax dodge code

skelband
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Re: "but the Committee contends they are certainly cynical"

> It's immoral when a working person effectively pays more tax than a corporation (per dollar earned).

Does anyone really believe that corporations or companies give a shit about how much tax they pay?

Corporations are just legal structures.

People ultimately pay tax, either through their income or the increase in their investments such as share dividends.

Taxing companies is just taxing people....again. All this bullshit about corporation tax is just words.

The real problem is that we are swallowing these political shenanigans. If they managed to "solve" this problem then they would come up with some other target for their tax gathering frenzy.

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Brit boffins BLOW UP Li-On batteries and film the MELTING COPPER

skelband
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Re: RE: And who said science was dull?

> Well, I thought this video was very dull. No bangs, no flames; just a couple of spotty youths saying that maybe by studying batteries they could "make them safer". Yawn.

Yes, surprisingly lacking in anything informative.

So what were their conclusions exactly?

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Your new car will dob you in to the cops if you crash, decrees EU

skelband
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Re: Anyone else wonder...

> Pray tell, are there any actual downsides to permanent driving lights?

Well, since headlights draw a quite substantial amount of power from the electrical system, it makes your car surprisingly uneconomical.

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Google: We're not mad, our mobes-in-sky Project Loon is FINE

skelband
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Well making damn sure that these out of the way places have no communication with each other or the outside world is a great way to ensure their continued ignorance, starvation and general destitution.

I just cannot fathom the attitude that all "those people" need is some food and everything will be fine.

They need food, but they need infrastructure, they need prosperity and a worldview that is larger than their immediate problems.

They need to pull themselves out of stone-age mysticism and superstition that drives a lot of the conflict in this world.

The reason why, in the west, we have had the longest period of peace and prosperity in recorded history this last 60 years is first and foremost down to communication.

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skelband
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Re: Stupid

> Scalability

In what way is it less scaleable than ground stations?

You make one, develop it until you are satisfied with it, then make a lot and float them up into the air?

As mentioned above, with ground stations, you need power feed, cables, you need to purchase land and hope that the local criminals don't raid it for the materials.

I can see a lot of potential problems with this but scalability certainly isn't one of them.

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Ex-Windows designer: Ballmer was dogmatic, Sinofsky's bonkers, and WinPho needs to change

skelband
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I'm sure Bell has a lot of interesting things to say, but his text is so full of "jargon speak" that it's almost as though he is speaking another language at times.

It's kinda like trying to talk to marketing people. They just seem to live in a different language realm.

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FCC hit with SEVENTH net neutrality lawsuit

skelband
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The cable companies in the US are *far* too powerful.

Here's hoping for a big slap down by the courts to put them in their place.

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What's that THUD sound? It's your Lumia's best feature after unflashing Windows 10

skelband
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Why are manufacturers making phones that can brick?

Surely a single, simple bootloader that cannot be changed and therefore always accessible via a boot key sequence is not that hard to implement?

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LA schools want multi-million Apple refund after kids hack iPads

skelband
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Re: Good for them

> Don't forget the nice professors who force their own textbook on their students and release updated editions every few years.

Some of them pretty much every year, even for subjects that are not continually updated.

It's a well-known trick for professors to mandate the latest edition so that you can't buy second hand.

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skelband
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Re: Good for them

A disturbing trend that I have been seeing with my daughter at university is the textbook/online token combination. This is publishers trying to kill the second hand text book market and they're not being subtle about it.

To complete a course, my daughter has to either buy a new text book which comes with an "online" token that she has to use to complete the course ($x) or get a second hand textbook and pay $(x-smallamount) for the token on its own. In other words, they're trying to make it more expensive to buy a secondhand book than to buy new.

The publishers are no longer content with fleecing students for the obscene costs of textbooks, but they're trying to strong-arm themselves into the business of running courses.

The universities should tell them to FO but of course, they're getting kick-backs from the publishers.

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NASA probe sent to faraway planet finds DWARF world instead: Pics

skelband
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I have to say I'm quite excited about seeing proper pictures of Pluto.

However, to call these the first colour photos of Pluto, while being technically correct, is rather overstating the importance of this very blurry blob with a slight tint.

Let's wait for some decent piccies before getting too excited, shall we?

Nice test for the camera though.

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This open-source personal crypto-key vault wants two things: To make the web safer ... and your donations

skelband
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Re: More anonymity for criminals and terrorists

> And do you seriously believe the CIA/GCHQ has the slightest interest in you?

How do you know?

If I'm not interesting, why do they want to look at my stuff?

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Sinister lobby group (AT&T, Verizon among membership) sues FCC to kill net neut

skelband
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> He claimed that the rules would slow innovation and infrastructure investment, and lead to higher costs for consumers.

You mean it could *more* expensive and *slower*?

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Microsoft goes cloud KERR-AZY, chops Windows Server to bits

skelband
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Perhaps we can look forward to a more modular Windows Server in the future.

That would be a good step forward.

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CoreOS bags $12m, touts Tectonic – a DIY Google cloud for big biz

skelband
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Re: @1980's ... Yeah but you have to like the name...

> "Tectonic ... try and copyright it. :-P"

I think the word you're looking for is "trademark".

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skelband
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> The irony of all this being essentially technology from IBM circa 1971 is also delicious. MVS, LPARs, etc. -- all ideas that the cool kids are rediscovering for themselves forty years later. I would be great to have El Reg interview some of the old IBMers...

Aint that the truth :D

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Dot-com intimidation forces Indiana to undo hated anti-gay law

skelband
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> "We are a Christian establishment. We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything."

In other words, "We won't serve gays but we'll serve everyone else".

In what way is that not literally discrimination regardless of what you think of the morality?

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Light the torches! NSA's BFF Senator Feinstein calls for e-book burning

skelband
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When politicians call for the burning or banning of books, that's the time we have to start worrying.

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Comcast: Google, we'll see your 1Gbps fiber and DOUBLE IT

skelband
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Their linked page makes interesting reading:

"We’ve consistently offered the most speeds to the most homes, but with the current pace of tech innovation, sometimes you need to go to where the world is headed and not focus on where it is today."

I suppose 512k would be the "most speeds" (highest speeds surely?) if you have no real competition. It's hardly a ringing endorsement.

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skelband
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> Comcast did not admit what the Gigabit Pro service will cost per month, and what installation fees users may incur for having a fiber line installed.

Or how much of your privacy they will rape you for.

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Tech leaders: Is your biggest threat North Korea or your own board?

skelband
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Headmaster

> Less PCs, more devices, even more security threats

"Fewer PCs" surely?

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