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* Posts by Pete 2

2315 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Poverty? Pah. That doesn't REALLY exist any more

Pete 2
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Surplus to requirements

> and it would be the basics, around the level of the pension, say £130 a week or so

But then what?

The thing about relative poverty - the thing that all the poverty charities love about it - is that can NEVER be fixed. Why is that "good"? Because it is their raison d'etre and will assure them recognition, moral superiority, political influence and some people a job forever.

But that 130 quid a week isn't just a sign of wealth, it's a sign of national surplus. It shows that we have broken out of the more money == more food == more surviving children cycle. However, there is a downside.

We know implicitly that you don't make everyone richer by doubling everyone's pay. So that suddenly many more people can afford that £90,000 Lexus LS. At that point demand will outstrip supply and all you will have done is stick a rocket up the bum of inflation and soon everyone will be back where they were (including the Lexus owners).

No, if you want to be able to spread the handouts around, the country has to produce more per unit of labour. That was what the industrial revolution with it's harnessing of power sources did for us. Before that the energy available to a worker was their muscle - or their horse's muscle power. After that it has trended towards the infinite.

But we've reached the limit of energy supply. Sure: we can produce more power, but there's a cost. The next step would be to increase efficiency of production: more widgets made per unit of labour. Apart from making us all wealthier, it'll also produce more Lexus's to satisfy the increased demand.

It would also raise the amount available for handouts by more than the rate of monetary inflation. So even those who don't / won't / can't work would still get a pretty nice set of wheels. Even if the roads got so jammed that you'd need a flying car, instead.

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iPhone 6: The final straw for Android makers eaten alive by the data parasite?

Pete 2
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Thinning the herd

But isn't this what happens in every industry? Consolidation.

When cars were new, there were hundreds of manufacturers. Now there are a few. When aircraft stopped being an expensive way to kill yourself and went commercial there were lots of manufacturers. Now there are a few. But in neither case does the reduction in the number of makers lead to a reduction in the number of units made: the opposite is true.

As for New iPhones at last means that Android, Google's smartphone middleware, will soon look attractive only for budget vendors I'm not convinced that the mobile device market splits neatly into "Apple" and "budget" and if Google really want to keep sucking on the data-collection teat, then surely IoT and embedded smart data sources is the direction they should be looking in.

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

Pete 2
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Prescience

And if they'd been using electronic voting machines the result would be programmed known before the polls had even opened.

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China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR

Pete 2
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Re: Pots and Kettles

> See, makes sense

Yes, I see the light.

It's not the hacking that's wrong - it's the getting caught.

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Pete 2
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Pots and Kettles

> These peacetime intrusions into the networks of key defense contractors are more evidence of China's aggressive actions in cyberspace

Because the americans would never dream of trying to gain unauthorised access to another country's military networks!

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Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport

Pete 2
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Bom bom bomb!

> The force has also defended the fact that it takes explosives to airports, saying the public was never in danger

Well, no. The chances of there ever being a bomb at an airport is extremely small. The chances of there being two bombs is infinitesimal. Therefore it makes complete sense for the security forces to take bombs to airports as it vastly reduces the chances of another one being there.

[ 'scuse me while I dig out my copy of Probability for complete idiots ]

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Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes

Pete 2
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Re: Celine Dion tunes?

Should we now assume that "illegal" downloads of her material are:

a) tracked with an intensity and vigour by every surveillance organisation in the western world

b) laden (bin laden?) with malware, virus and other nasties in the hope some will reach the target audience.

c) still an awful thing to impose on people: no wonder they get radicalised

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Boffins: Behold the SILICON CHEAPNESS of our tiny, radio-signal-munching IoT sensor

Pete 2
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Other days, other eyes

Oh whoop-de-doo! Bob Shaw's prediction comes one step closer.

Here we have a completely inert device, that is indetectably small and cheap enough to produce by the billion. Let's just wait for a version with a MEMS microphone (I suppose a camera is too much to ask for?) and you have the perfect bug. Better yet, it can be remain in its inert state for years, until needed.

It can be spread around like fairy dust, it won't transmit until it's illuminated by an RF feed and even if your bug-hunter discovers one - or ten - or a thousand in a room, it's a fair bet there will be many more not found. Even if "they" get them all, a couple of minutes will see a whole new batch introduced through the air-conditioning system. Or accidentally carried in on the clothes of people entering the room.

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Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US

Pete 2
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Re: Outlook: fine

> the America regulators are equal opportunity finers - just look at the record fines handed out to American banks

Never said they weren't - just like muggers will prey on tourists and locals alike. The difference being that locals usually know what areas to avoid and recognise the signs of someone intent on "getting a tip" from a passer-by.

But when you're fining a company (or as it always comes down to: its shareholders) amounts in the $ billions in return for letting the senior officers - the people who must have known and approved if not actually taken part in the wrongdoing - walk. or get token punishments, shows a corruption in the justice system that has gone way too far.

By that point it has long ceased to be a law-enforcement operation, as there is never any judiciary involved - just a demand for a pre-determined amount of money and is merely extortion.

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Pete 2
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Outlook: fine

> Vodafone took what it had left of that $130bn and bought T-Mobile US

The US market is probably the worst, most restrictive and most predatory in the world. Their regulators seem to consider any foreign enterprise as being fair game. Yet their idea of "fair" is to hold a meeting, lock the doors and then threaten the senior executives with jail unless billions in protection money fines are paid. With neither negotiation nor a trial to establish the legality, transparency or fairness of the punishment - or even if they were to blame for any regulatory transgressions.

So if Vodafone was to wander, innocently, into the american market with a wad of $130Bn bulging out of its back pocket, nobody should be surprised if the american government sees it coming and mugs them for it. After all: it's a quick "steal", costs their citizens nothing and is much more popular than trying to raise revenue through taxing the population.

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It's a pain in the ASCII, so what can be done to make patching easier?

Pete 2
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Built for speed, not comfort

Most software today was designed with one goal in mind: to get it out the door and money coming in, in the shortest possible time.

Hence, Version 1.0 is almost always Beta 0.1 and there are few major packages that are anywhere near usable before version 3. After that, it's a case of slapping patches on zaps on top of updates in a vain effort to plug the design holes that a faraway hacker-schoolchild with some free time discovered within a few minutes of installing a pirated copy.

What we need is a recognition that every patch we are required to install is a message from the vendor saying "this software (that we took your money for) is not fit for purpose". We need software companies to be held responsible for their shortcomings and irresponsible attitude of "we'll fix that in the next release". Maybe the answer is a "bug tax" where package makers are charged 1% of their revenues (not profits, that's too easy to manipulate and revenue is what the customers have paid) for every major weakness that is discovered by a third party and that money is then held for the customers as a sort of discount against the cost of maintenance&support contracts and future upgrades.

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Nearly there! LOHAN Kickstarter pot o'gold breaks £29,000

Pete 2
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There's not enough money in the world

> And if you bribe the Spanish official this time ...

and the local Mayor and the Police chiefs (all three of them Gaurdia Civil, Guardia Local and the ever-loved Trafico, who's motto seems to be "our hand is always extended") . Plus a "donation" to the local town's fiesta and you'll probably find there are regulations mandating safety equipment that only the Mayor's extended family can supply.

It *must* be cheaper to go to the US - or The Moon - than deal with that lot.

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BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS

Pete 2
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The BBC's commercial success

> the BBC produces quality TV that the market can't...

Yes, it can. But 60% of it's TV budget goes on BBC1 - one single channel. And that channel screens the same sort of ratings-chasing content that any commercial broadcaster with a guaranteed £1.4Bn a year to spend on a single channel and no need to make a profit from advertising, would make.

Sure, the other £1Bn of the TV budget goes to making some nice (and low-cost) documentaries. Most of which consist of electronic mood music, a slightly well-known "personality" on a metaphorical and often physical journey ("I want to find out about ... so I'm going to ... to meet someone who can tell me - presumably because I can't just phone them") that might just tell the GCSE crowd something they didn't know before.

There are also a few (remaining) arts programmes that might just, on a good day, give the Sky Arts 1&2 channels a run for their money. But once you get past these middle-brow contributions to the intellectual wellbeing of the entire nation, there's not really that much left. (Unless you like Celebrity Antiques Road Trip)

Except that is, for the BBC's two secrets to its success. The things that makes it stand out, virtually alone, from every other TV enterprise on the planet: it's guaranteed income, come good times or bad and it's lack of commercial breaks interrupting the shows. Without those features, it would be indistinguishable from any other broadcaster, no matter how many episodes of Dr. Who it made.

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BONEHEAD FANBOIS encamp outside Apple Stores

Pete 2
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"I'm standing outside ... "

> queueing outside Apple stores ahead of this evening's product announcement

It's no sillier than TV crews setting up shop OUTSIDE a building where some people INSIDE are talking - and then having the presenter read a statement prepared by a P.R. department that's in a completely different place.

Actually - yeah! it's all pretty dumb.

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3D scanning made easy: Reg man ponders terrifying Xmas pressie

Pete 2
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Promising start

This still looks like a "Mark 1" device. However it does seem that there's an inevitability about this sort of thing -- and not just as an interface to 3D printing.

With luck, some years and several £££ Billion we might just get some proper 3D telly out of this, from the 3rd or 4th generation versions.

More worrying will be when your passport "photo" is required to be a 3D image, including the back of your head. Combine that with airport style "see through your clothes" millimetre radar and city centre CCTV surveillance and we might all need a dam' sight more than tinfoil hats,

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Don't buy that phone! It ATTRACTS CRIMINALS, UK.gov will tell people

Pete 2
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Unintended consequences

> So when Manufacturer A. starts seeing its sales take a nosedive because this mad government is telling people not to buy their phones, they won't be a teeny bit cross?

Given how little government officials understand (a) technology (b) people (c) criminals it wouldn't surprise me one little bit if the publication of the most desirables list led to an upsurge in demand for those phones.

You can see the rationale: those phones get stolen most - therefore they *must* be the most desirable - therefore they are very fashionable - therefore I must have one. It may even go further: that having your highly desirable phone stolen becomes a badge of trendiness. Possibly even to the point where you don't wait until you want a different model before reporting it nicked: just to get a corporate replacement, or insurance payout.

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It's official: Brit parents want their kids to be just like Steve Bong

Pete 2
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Too early to say

> jobs as doctors, engineers and lawyers all scored higher than tech entrepreneur

The key is to build options into your career path. Although the listed jobs sound very aspirational (except lawyer: obv. We know a joke about having a lawyer in the family, don't we?), it's equally true that life is what happens while you're busy making plans.

As it turned out, my first job after university didn't even exist when I started. But because I had a good grounding in tech, computing & electronics I was a natural choice. So ISTM the secret to starting life with an exciting, interesting if not well-paid (this is the technology sector) job isn't to aim for one specific job description, but to have flexibility (and a driving licence) and not get bogged down aiming at one solitary specialism.

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Singapore slings £18k fine at text-spam-spaffing biz owner

Pete 2
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Going large

A fine of nearly nineteen grand? Amateurs!

In america, their fines are measured in the BEEELION. To such an extent that The Economist has labelled amercia's regulatory system as "the world’s most lucrative shakedown operation" - beating The Kremlin, The Mafia and The Chinese for the world's top spot. (article available online).

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Virgin Media blocks 'wankers' from permissible passwords

Pete 2
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Re: Merde!

> Passwords should only be seen by the person who created them

Maybe if the requirement was reversed: so that only phrases that were deeply personally derogatory were allowed: e.g. "I'm a pheasant plucker" (or words to that effect), then at least it would stop individuals freely handing out their passwords to all and sundry.

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Pete 2
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Re: Bollock, Bollocks

> The list also appears to taken from an American script

As is usually the case with lists of "popular" passwords.

ISTM the simplest way to obtain an uncrackable password is just to use a non-english (or non-american) word. And if you can get some non-ASCII into it, you're gÖlden.

I'm pretty sure the same applies to "bad word" filters, too.

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Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts

Pete 2
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A much better question

> make sure you ask the question: "How many developers do you have submitting code ...

Nah! Code is easy, code is "fun". You don't have to pay hobbyists to write code: they do it for free.

Documentation is boring. Documentation is dull. Documentation is hrad 2 get wright.

Testing is even worse.

Project management is next to impossible.

So if companies want to contribute to OSS, the best thing for the community and its users would be to leave the code to the geeks who like doing it and to add far more value by testing the stuff they produce, using it, managing the change control and writing books, articles, man pages, wikis, examples (preferably working examples) and FAQs. Those are the things that are missing from most projects - and are the biggest impediments to the take-up of "free" (free as in no cost: so long as you put zero value on the hours or days it can take to wrangle some of this stuff into working shape - or realise it's irredeemable crap and you've just wasted a week on it).

That's where the biggest contributions will come from. Even though those contributors won't get the recognition and kudos. That's why companies are in the best position to donate those efforts.

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BOFH: The current value of our IT ASSets? Minus eleventy-seven...

Pete 2
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Having your assets on the line

I recall a similar situation some 20 <cough> years ago:

The auditors came a-knockin'

"OK, Asset number 78934758934734 Ada compiler. Purchased last year, value £30,000. Show me"

Us:

"It's there, on top of that filing cabinet"

"But that's just a reel of 9-track tape"

"Yup"

"That's not worth £30,000!"

<sigh>

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Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media

Pete 2
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Piles of trials

> I think that there is a strong case for saying that they should be televised: that is merely the modern extension of enabling the public to enter the courts physically

The small amount of stuff I've seen from the Pistorious trial leads me to exactly the opposite conclusion. It all seemed to be grandstanding and playing to the cameras. In the same way that televising Parliament has done nothing to improve its reputation (PMQs has probably eroded the credibility of the Commons more than all the scandals, frauds and fiddles put together) and I can't see how the slow, ponderous, proceedings of a courtroom (I once took myself down to a court, just to see what went on: dull, dull, dull - forget anything like what you see on TV) could ever make "justice" appear more desirable.

I've also seen TV from american courtrooms (I was in Boston during the Harding / Kerrigan skating trial) and can't say it impressed, or interested, me: as an outsider it appeared to just be a platform for a group of self-important individuals to further inflate their egos. As a consequence, I can't see live TV trials being any more significant than the BBC Parliament channel - and probably watched by the same number of people. Though even those numbers of viewers would beat a lot of the digital channels and the vast majority of what comes off the Astra2 satellites.

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'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder

Pete 2
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On the board

So: children still get people trying to tell them how to code.

Trendy IT "charities" still get money from government in the hope it will make them look "modern" and money from corporates in the hope it will make them look as if they're "giving back".

An organisation's director is informed that part of that role is showing solidarity with your benefactors

And someone's blog gets an upswing in the number of hits.

Surely the time to voice an objection, especially for a board member, is when the corporate sponsorship is being discussed. If you realise at that point that you are unable to square what that sponsor stands for with some personal opinions you are incapable of keeping to yourself, that's the time to quit.

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Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything

Pete 2
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> Open Source software... where deliberate hobbling is not possible

Actually, it is. If the agreement you have committed to with a supplier includes limitations on the "what, how, when or how-many" you are permitted to use, it makes no difference whether you are physically or logically able to enable those features that you haven't paid for. Or whether any software that comes with (or forms) the product is Open Source or closed source. You know: all thise "I agree" boxes you tick. They can contain any limitations the author wishes to include.

Even if the software comes with its source code, if you contravene the terms of the purchase / rental / usage then that is as much a no-no as if you'd cracked any protection schemes that prevent a user from access those additional features. Though with "free" software, this is mainly down to the honour of the user - to abide by the terms they agreed they would, than hard prevention.

Hobbling can be implemented either in hardware or software - or in the contractual terms of use. It just comes down to how honest you are, whether you abide by them or not. For example, some "free" software disallows its use for military purposes. Other licences prevent the authors' "free" software being used in specific countries.

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Pete 2
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This is real "free" software

The other side of the coin is that since customers are savvy enough (and have always been) to know that these extra features cost the supplier nothing, they are a nice, easy target during the negotiations when you are thinking about what to buy. (Obv. this is intended for corporate users, not people who just walk into a shop, wave the plastic and walk out with a box under their arm).

When you are buying that $40,000 server - or, more likely, a few dozen of them, nobody actually pays the list price: most customers pay far more, since they will want an integrated package that includes warranty, support, training, installation and that funny "software" stuff - which can cost many thousands but comes on a 10p DVD.

So during the negotiations, the buyer says "we want this, that and the other" to which the salesperson says "'scuse me, I'm just mentally spending the commish" then puts down the latest copy of Yatching World and replies "Ahh, but you'll also want X, Y and Z too" (and picks up the magazine again).

Once the sales person thinks the deal is done, that's when the canny buyer drops the bombshell: "Oh, how about turning on the extra-turbo-whizzy feature, too? It's only a licence key and the feature's already there - so it doesn't cost you anything". Upon the prospect of their 24-footer (!) sailing away from them, the sales person will, at that point, agree to pretty much anything. And if you time the deal to be just before the end-of-quarter, they'd probably give you a go on their new yacht, too. Hence all those "features" are really just no-cost-to-anyone negotiating points.

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Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

Pete 2
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Re: Going multicore

> If dists are built to the new Pi specification then they'll run the same way as they do now.

But they aren't - and they won't.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

First the Allwinner SoCs have a lot of pins (a LOT) that are primarily intended to drive an LCD. If you base a new Pi on these devices, people will see the new features, such as this, and want to use them. That will lead to a fork of the user-base and split the development effort. Not to mention making the boards physical layout a lot different.

Secondly, the reference SunXi Linux ports have a low-level mapping between the processor's hardware pins and their functions. This FEX file is user-configurable and is set up during boot-time. Hence a piece of software that assumes (say) pin PB22 is a serial output pin when a different cut of Linux, or a different version of the same distribution has decided that pin should be a digital input, instead, will fail in weird and improbable ways.

There are many other reasons, but these serve as illustrations that the gap between a Pi and a "next-gen" SBC is large and widening.

And it's reasons like this which are why software compatibility will go out the window and why the processor families are different from each other. Now that doesn't mean the the simple user interface and APIs used on a Pi can't be ported across. But the new SBCs are so much more powerful and have so many additional features that producing products which leave out those features will severely limit their take up - especially as there are established enterprises that are already producing fuil-featured products.

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Pete 2
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Going multicore

The problem is that once you bump the processor up to something more modern, your software compatibility goes out the window,

The Quad Cores are coming (in a month or two). But they are very different beasts from the Pi and the O/S's they run are sufficiently different that the Pi's biggest asset: it's base of user software, would have to be restarted, reported or redesigned.

While that may not be such a bad thing - it will take the wind out of the Pi's sails and given that there are so many other products already in the SBC multi-processor market, it would be difficult for the Pi to regain its old pre-eminence.

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LOHAN Kickstarter bid IS GO: Back our Vulture 2 spaceplane launch

Pete 2
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Tax attacks

> Take out the spaceport fees, kickstarter fees, the cost of the merchandise...

Wottabout taxes?

If this undertaking is being done under the auspices of El Reg (presumably already VAT registered) then won't there be VAT on the merch you sell. And maybe come corporation tax on the rest? (IANAA, but you'd already guessed that!).

If you're doing this in a personal capacity, what's your income tax situation. As for going to the USA on a commercial venture ... Does that need a visa? And I'd love to see your travel insurance application: "Oh yes, we want medical cover to go the the USA to launch a rocket ... "

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Echopraxia scores 'diamond cutter' on the sci-fi hardness scale

Pete 2
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Re: Why don't media include source links?

> In this case, links to the author's web page, or (heaven forfend the capitalism!) to one or more book sellers

I'm sure a wild stab in the dark will see you arriving at the site of an online bookstore that sells this.

(after a wild stab of my own: apparently it's on pre-order for the next few days)

Personally, I'm about to tuck in to Ancillary Justice

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LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!

Pete 2
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Re: A Very Special Project

> But maybe the nice people at White Sands will let the SPB team launch from the Trinity atomic test site!

I drove past there a few years back on my way from Albuquerque to Alamagordo. Basically, there's a gate with a lock on it which is only opened for 1 day a year. That is the only route down to the test site - and it's a long way from the road. There are a few roadside stalls selling "atomic" rocks (i.e. rocks) but that's about your lot. The test site was chosen because it's very difficult to get to.

Otherwise, there might be a town within 50 miles (I stopped to gas-up) but that's about your lot.

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Pete 2
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Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

I think I see your problem:

> Ministry of Obstruction declined to authorise the Intercommunity transfer of explosives, citing local law

There are two points to appreciate. The first is that Spain's version of democracy makes everything illegal unless explicitly permitted. The second is that if you don't like the local laws, just go down the road - they'll be different there (repeat until you either find laws that you like, or run out of road - in which case, prepare the ever-effective and still extremely popular plain brown envelope)

A friend decided to import his venerable old Land Rover. This involved taking it down to the local MoT (in Spain: ITV - run by the government, not a local garage) testing station and starting the process of having it registered. The individual there had never seen a Landy before and duly pronounced it to be a Lorry (pretty obvious really: since it had 4 wheels and seats inside) and therefore would cost €12,000 to "process" and would have to be re-tested every 6 months - it being a "commercial" vehicle 'n' all.

Rather than do the typical brit thing of stumping up and grumbliing a bit, he took to to a different ITV station, in a place just a leeeetle more wordly (where the donkeys have straw hats) and duly got it declared a car and subject to the usual domestic arrangements for transferring to a spanish registration - which only required the payment of several hundred €€€s and was brown-envelope free.

The caveat being, that while local laws are both arbitrary and geographically inconstant (and interpreted by individuals with neither the qualifications nor the motivation to make an informed choice) they can - and frequently are - revised without any warning or notification. Worse than that: they appear to be capable of retrospective revision, with fines payable for transgressions that come about due to changes - even if things were done legally under the "old" law.

P.S. There isn't one single Ministry of Obstruction, all the Ministries serve that purpose.

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Cops baffled by riddle of CHICKEN who crossed ROAD

Pete 2
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Re: What?!

I suppose it depends on the size of the bird. A largish one could do a lot of damage to your car if you hit it at speed. Though it would almost certainly go under the vehicle - unless it took flight at the last second and hit your windscreen.

Though I do agree: anyone who puts their own life (and that of their passengers and other motorists) at risk by slowing / stopping on a motorway, simply to "save" some wildlife shouldn't be a driver.

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Tricked by satire? Get all your news from Facebook? You're in luck, dummy

Pete 2
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Rag tag

> distinguish real news from parody pieces that use ironic exaggeration

While reading this I thought that maybe FB should introduce a [BS] tag, too. Though there would be plenty more "news" sites that wouldn't need it - as their title tells you that by default.

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Top money men face up to 2 YEARS in slammer for neglecting to spot crim-cash activity

Pete 2
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A neat trick if you can do it

> they [ the financial company ] must also "verify key facts that only the customer may know

Hmmm.

"Can you tell us something that only you know? So that we can verify it"

Well, I could. But then you'd know it, too. So it wouldn't be something that only I knew.

"D'oh!"

Sounds like it's a wise idea to keep a stash of cash under the mattress. Just in case your bank suddenly and arbitrarily decides you're a terrrrrist and won't let you make any withdrawls. An oooopsie, sorreeee after the fact just doesn't cut it.

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Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media

Pete 2
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Unnatural bedfellows

> we have to protect our intellectual property.

It's not often your hear "intellectual" being used in an article about football.

But, heigh-ho - I suppose if they can find a way to block stuff that *they* have a right to - but not, say, of little Johnny knocking one into the back of the net at the local park - then good luck to 'em

It's odd though. You'd have hoped there would be more to a football match: 90 minutes and £40 than just a few seconds of a ball moving from a boot (or head, or <ahem> hand) to a net. Makes you wonder whether the entire 39 week soccer season couldn't just be telescoped down into a 5 minute mass-kicking sometime in May. You'd get all the goals and it would save a whole lot of tedious traveling, speculation, punditry and disappointment.

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Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

Pete 2
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Choosing better heslos

> across corporate America

Where, presumably the passwords are all created on a QWERTY keyboard and use anglicised spellings. (Or should that be anglicized?)

I wonder how much harder these guys would have found it to crack passwords in the other 95% of the world where words have letters not found in american: for example ñ and "password" might translate as senha or contraseña

Maybe the "secret" is to employ multi-lingual systems administrators. Who says off-shoring is always a bad idea?

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Murder accused DIDN'T ask Siri 'how to hide my roommate'

Pete 2
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Forestry

Sounds like it's not a good idea to ask how to sell any spare woodland you might find yourself owning:

Siri, how do I dispose of a copse?"

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Meet the Flockers... and please, do try to contain yourself

Pete 2
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The SUN never sets

> multiple apps under a single OS inside a containing structure

Isn't this what Solaris had about 10 years ago? Containers or zones (I forget - it's been a while)

> Snarky old IT folks might sarcastically recall multi-tasking under one OS and sniff in sorrow

Yup, pass the snifters. I'll have an Armagnac.

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

Pete 2
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Re: How to plan central planning

> Government also backed wind

Governments always back wind - as they have so much of it.

While we appear to be largely in agreement, it does seem to me that governments *could* plan better, but they are so easily tempted away from the true path by short-term political opportunities. As you point out vociferous opposition to closing some hospitals - even though it would save lives (but dead people can't complain).

They are also venal, self-serving bastids who value the chance to stick-it to the opposition as much as they do the possibility of doing something good. And as for bending to newspaper headlines and "quiet words" from influential parties? Well, it's amazing that they do anything at all for the people who elected them.

Our current system (if not the individuals who are currently implementing it) might not be the best, but it's probably close to being the least-worst.

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Pete 2
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Re: How to plan central planning

> There's a strong feeling that 2011 will be the last census - because the data quality is getting so much worse.

Which doesn't deny the need for the data that censuses have provided. It just means there are now better (faster, cheaper, more accurate) ways of getting the basic information required to efficiently spend the taxation that governments take from us.

> It's just too damned difficult.

The basic premise still stands: that if we want to have the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time, we need good data to permit its planning. Of course there are some cockups - anything that involves people (or governments) will inevitably go wrong - but that's no reason to say "therefore the whole thing is useless - there's no point even trying".

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Pete 2
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Re: yeah but what about the jobs...?

> a post-scarcity condition where every demand can be instantly met at no cost.

That only works for material things. As a society we all place great value on intangible things: time, choice, security, freedom, health (including a pleasant environment), knowledge and entertainment and some higher human functions such as recognition and respect. These cannot be manufactured and in some cases require the collaboration of those around us to achieve. Just as soon as one person's needs become dependent on the actions of another, you immediately find yourself back in a trade/barter situation where "what's in it for me" kicks in and you find you have to give up something you have in order to obtain something you value more.

That immediately brings cost back into the game.

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Pete 2
Silver badge

How to plan central planning

> the centre of that system can never actually access all of the required information ...to be able to plan effectively.

When it comes to the big things, like making sure there are the right number of hospitals, schools, roads and police-officers, the gummint does a pretty good job. The decadal national census is specifically to allow these sorts of things to be done, based on actual data, rather than a few middle-class activists with placards, not wanting their bitsy-little rural hospital closed - giving way to whoever shouts loudest getting the most and best infrastructure.

We also see what happens when things are left to "the market": large areas of towns and cities that have no bank branches: where people have to travel miles simply to draw cash (and if you're elderly and reliant on public transport - this is more than a mere inconvenience). Another example would be TV programming. Economic theory tells us that the most efficient way for similar products or services to compete is for them to cluster together: either geographically which is why the best place to open a restaurant is next to another one, or by providing similar "stuff" which is why all the popular TV stations seem to all show the same sort of programmes, rather than providing diversity and choice.

For some aspects of our lives, competition and capitalism work well. They allow new products, things people actually want, to flourish and for the turkeys to die off. However, some things need either the investment that only state-sized financing can provide, are a public benefit but would never be a profitable prospect or need the hand of judicious regulation to stop the public getting stiffed. If you want to see the problems that raw commercialism can unleash - just look at american mobile phone or TV provision.

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DIME for your TOP SECRET thoughts? Son of Snowden's crypto-chatter client here soon

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: One Tip...

> Dark Mail...ooo evil baddies, kiddie porrn, drugs, terrorist.

Yes, you're right. It's far too close to Daily Mail with which no self-respecting ... well .... anyone would wish to be associated.

As it is, I still feel that "secure" email is missing a trick.

We already know that a degree of intelligence can be obtained simply by knowing that there is a message being sent (and who the sender + recipients are). High-level secure comms have long used the technique of keeping the channel full at all times, whether or not it's sending anything that decrypts successfully. (And a decent encryption system would be indistinguishable from random noise.)

So a secure email system would send each subscriber the same amount of "stuff" each day (note: to each recipient oin the users "circle" - they wouldn't know who anyone else was) and require each user to send it the same amount of traffic, too . Sometimes it would decrypt as "this is not an email" and sometimes it would decrypt as "they're coming to take you away (ha ha!)". Either way, the baddies who wished to eavesdrop would not know whether the content was signal or noise until after they'd spent some significant resource cracking the message. Multiple that up by (say) a million users and the surveillance soon becomes too onerous and too costly.

Further refinements are possible, but the basic concept has been best practice for a long, long time and should be included in any modern secure comms methodology.

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PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things

Pete 2
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Strangelove

> the US (says PwC) is the laggard

Sounds like we have an IoT gap.

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Crypto Daddy Phil Zimmerman says surveillance society is DOOMED

Pete 2
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Re: He talks a good talk

> Let's not give up the benefits of our hard-won progress

Agreed. The big difference in that hygiene, education and health (or their lack) were pre-existing conditions that were "fixed" by the progress you correctly identify. It would seem that privacy (and the concomitant shame and embarrassment from it's failure) was a social norm that arose after adoption of walls, doors and curtains. Rather than the desire for privacy being the driving force for those changes.

Consequently, while we all are used to privacy as we were brought up to expect and respect it, it may be that it's not a basic desire for social animals (unlike good health). Although those same animals don't have abusive, exploitative, over-seers policing their every action and increasingly suppressing behaviour that falls outside a narrowing definition of "normal" - and it's that which is the problem.

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Pete 2
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He talks a good talk

But, sadly, he's wrong

> surveillance state to an historical anachronism

Actually, for most of recorded history people have lived in small communities where everyone knew everyone elses' business. They all knew who you'd visited, they all knew what you spent your time doing (as most people spent all the daylight hours outside, since there was no artificial light) and who was doing what to whom.

It's only since people had their own houses (not shared with their entire extended family) and had curtains to draw that we think we've got "privacy". It's also only since that time that we have things that we consider "private". In the days before doors, nobody cared who they heard shagging: so long as it wasn't their partner or livestock.

The big difference is that nowadays nobody seems to have the ability to keep what they know, hear, think or imagine to themselves. Every single little, irrelevant detail simply has to be tweeted, blogged, updated or recorded in order to bore the bollocks off future historians.

And that IS where the surveillance society kicks in. Since we now live in a time when public enemy #1 is the public, all these little tidbits can easily be collected together, filtered to remove any and all context and used to build a case for pretty much anything against pretty much anyone. That's the modern fear: not being accused of witchcraft or heresy - but being accused of the modern-day equivalents: terrorism, sexual deviancy, race/religious/gender hate - or even simply knowing the wrong things.

it's not the surveillance that's the problem. It's the way it's used to turn us all back into serfs. That's the problem.

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Twitter can trigger psychosis in users

Pete 2
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Re: what's that old axiom?

> how do they rule out occasional drug use as not a factor?

Summat like this, perhaps?

Puff - "How do you feel now?" "I'm fine, doctor ... doctor ... doctor ... doctor ... doctor."

Tweet - "how do you feel now? (in unison)" "Kill 'em all"

Maybe the actual report's original title was

Twitter can trigger Psychoanalysis in Users.

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Pete 2
Silver badge

How many doctors does it take to change a twitter user?

> A study ... based on the case ... the five doctors wrote.

Which reminds me of the old joke:

"Doctor, doctor! When I wave my arms over my head, I get a pain in my neck."

and the doctor replies: "Well stop waving your arms over your head. <ding> Next patient please."

Really. Do they have nothing better to do?

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Everyone's an IoT expert but now there's a certificate to prove it

Pete 2
Silver badge

Certifiable training

> Cisco says the new certification is needed ...

... to make money. And as the IoT hasn't been either defined or developed yet, whatever is taught in this year's course will be completely irrelevant next year or next month. So the same gullible bosses who let their staff go on the jolly valuable learning experience, combined with time off work, will just have to shell-out again for another course (presumably with the word "advanced" in the title) at a later date - whenever someone fancies a paid break in whichever desirable location takes their fancy.

I mean, you'd be mad not to.

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