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* Posts by Pete 2

2314 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

'Catastrophic failure' of 3D-printed gun in Oz Police test

Pete 2
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Re: Wait for the first "hacked" printable gun

> The same as we shouldn't trust open source software?

You can restore files from your backup ...

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Pete 2
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Wait for the first "hacked" printable gun

All these stories about downloading the plans for a plastic gun make the (basic, and if we know anything about the internet: wrong) assumption that the plans were drawn up by someone who's intention was to create a working gun.

We know from the internet's experience of viruses, and malware that not everyone's intentions are honourable. Sooner or later, someone is going to produce plans for a printable gun that is designed to kill or maim the user, not the intended victim. Whether that will be as stupid as shooting the bullet backwards, or something more subtle (purposely weakened parts?) is something only time will tell.

The key point is that we should not trust stuff we download from the internet. Especially when it has the potential not just to delete some files off a PC, but to do actual, serious, physical harm to a person.

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Stand back, everyone! Dragons' Den ace HAS FOUND THE CLOUD

Pete 2
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Any day now ...

I'm still waiting for the last small business floatation I "invested" in to show a profit - or just a break-even, that was in 1983.

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So you want to be a contractor? Well, here's how it works

Pete 2
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Re: The one basic attribute ...

> who puts Age/D.O.B on a CV anyway?

There are three routes:

I've frequently submitted CVs with no age, or indication of age (such as graduated in 19xx) and found that I get called back by agencies very quickly. The conversation usually goes: "Yes you seem to have exactly what the client is looking for. By the way, you forgot to put your age on the form ... " followed quickly by "Ah!".

Alternatively by putting an age on the CV you save the less enlightened agencies from the cost of the call or any further contact. You could always lie, but is that any way to start a business relationship?

Or just go direct to someone from your long list of previous, satisfied, clients.

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Pete 2
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The one basic attribute ...

If your CV says you're over 40, then every contract becomes 10x harder to get.

Not because the end-company, who will be using your services necessarily has any problem with "oldies" (they may even have one or two of their own), but because the agencies won't put you forward - unless they have literally no other option.

Phrases like "I don't think you'd fit in", or "The client wants a dynamic team" will be stock replies to your enquires as to why you haven't heard back from the latest application, that was a perfect fit to your CV and what you can actually do.

Whether the client did brief the agencies to "lose" all the applications from more experienced older applicants , or whether they took it upon themselves to perform this extra service for free is something that will never be made known. But if challenged they'll tell you that contracting is a young-person's game. While this is patently bollocks, the hardest part of getting a contract for anyone with a grey hair is getting past the gatekeeper and actually making it to the client interview.

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Apple chief Cook: You - senators. Get in here and redo this tax law

Pete 2
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Buying favour

Surely it's cheaper for Apple to buy contribute towards the campaigns of a few american politicians who will "revise" their tax laws than it is for them to stump up on the billions they want to repatriate from foreign profits.

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Copyright minister admits: Google has better access to No. 10 than me

Pete 2
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Over inflated sense of entitlement

The reason that Google execs have better access to the Prime Minister than some little copyright minister is because they are far more important than he is. The fact that he doesn't realise this is sad, but inconsequential - as is he.

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Who is Samsung trying to kid? There will NEVER be a 5G network

Pete 2
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5G? It will come

> There will NEVER be a 5G network

It's a marketing term and as such will be rolled out whenever the marketing people think it will help them sell more phones.

Just as most O/S's today are, to all intents and purposes, virtually identical to the ones that preceded them ... and them ... and them - going back at least 10 years and a good case could be made for longer, too. So 5G will become the "thing" as soon as 4G sales start to stagnate. There might be some insignificant new feature, that all the journos who make their living from hyping up such insignificant features <ahem>! will hail as being the best thing since sliced bread.

However, these new, more expensive, 5G phones will still be used mainly to talk to people and send them text messages - just like mobiles were used for 20 years ago.

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You thought only Google dodges UK taxes? So do all the Brit firms

Pete 2
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Re: @Pete 2

> Good. Let them go.

Maybe I wasn't explicit enough:

The companies would bugger off to somewhere more "sympathetic" making thousands of people redundant, and terminating the contracts they had with ALL the local service companies and suppliers they use, causing even greater knock-on redundancies.

As for the companies who would replace them, if those companies wanted to be in the UK, they would already be here. It's not a case of the UK can have (say) Google, or Exxon and somehow choose who they'd like to come here. All multinationals make their own, independent, decisions of where they choose to have offices. By making the UK financially unattractive to some, it's not very likely that others would see an opportunity and pile in, instead.

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Pete 2
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Re: Shouldn't the UK Gov start upping it's game then?

> Why can they not do what they do with the rest of the populace and just take the money?

Simple. The companies would bugger off to somewhere more "sympathetic". Governments can tax their citizens into oblivion, safe in the knowledge that few (not even the rich ones - for they have better means of avoiding taxes) , very few, of those people will up-sticks and leave.

Companies however, are not so sticky. That's why they can negotiate beneficial tax terms (what: you thought they just paid up and didn't do deals with HMRC?) and grants in order to do countries the favour of setting up on their patch of land - as opposed to some higher-taxed country.

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China: Online predator or hapless host?

Pete 2
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Re: Whatever.

> blocking based on the source IP address

That's what I do.

My main home machine runs Linux and I used to find my logs showed several attacks - mainly against SSH - daily. These were generally trivial attempts to guess passwords (none of which ever worked). Over a period of time I logged the IP address of the attacker and made a list of 23 */8 address blocks that seemed to account for pretty much all the unwanted attention. A cursory check showed that these were all located in the far east, not just China.

Adding lines in to /etc/hosts.deny, of the form ALL:58. ... seems to have cured the problem almost entirely.

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Charity chief: Get with it, gov - kids shouldn't have to write by hand

Pete 2
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Good grief!

> Boys are not the most natural writers.

Rubbish.

It's apologists like this guy, who are willing to accept low standards that is the main cause of british kids' academic decline. Lowering the level of acceptable behaviour to include the worst performers (whether due to lack of natural talent, opportunities or parental/educational indifference is a separate problem that should be dealt with) does a huge disservice to those children who DO pay attention in school. Who DO do what they are told and who spend time on academic exercises rather than sitting (or being sat) in front of the TV all their waking hours.

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NEW ITV Player app IS HERE ... for Samsung fandroids only. Ha ha

Pete 2
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Re: ITV?

> ITV? Are they still going?

Despite their best efforts at repelling viewers, I'm informed that they are.

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How smart does your desk phone need to be?

Pete 2
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Re: Yes

> While "chat" is great for some things ...

Chat does have some advantages: everything "said" is on the record - there's no denying what each person committed to. It is also useful for the timid and "quiet" people, who would not normally speak up in meetings - and conversely chat tends to moderate the loudmouthed git who dominates meetings. Also, it's great for people who don't share the same native language, or accents.

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Pete 2
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Just one feature

I want a desk phone that can detect when nobody is at the desk, and won't ring ... incessantly ... until someone else gets up, disconnects the call and either unplugs the phone from it's socket (without telling the desk's absent occupant - anger ensues) or sticks it in a drawer.

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Has any employer ever delivered the training it promised?

Pete 2
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Buy a book

Going on courses is a bore. You sit in a class with other people who are not important to the day-to-day running of their employers. The instruction will always proceed at the pace of the slowest attendee (if you think otherwise, that person is you). At the end you get a binder, a certificate and a week's worth of email and backlogged work to catch up on.

You also never get to use the stuff the course was about. Or you forget it all until the boss comes by, 6 months later, and says "you went on the XYZ course, get this done by tomorrow .... please".

If all you want is some time away from the office (and lots of courses are held in London and the pricey ones are in the run up to christmas) then that's great - and we all love the company paying for a little jolly now and then. But if you want a new skill, then you need to learn it, practice it and understand it - a few days listening to someone drone on won't do it.

The best way to get training is to have a project that requires your intended skill. Do some (book based, web based, whatever you prefer) research. Read the Idiot's guide - not hard to find: the internet is full of them (idiots, that is) and start DOING it. You'll not only learn faster, but you'll get practical knowledge - or experience, as it's called on CVs - and something useful at the end of the time. It's also far more enjoyable than sitting around listening to lecturers. The only downside is that you don't get a certificate - and you still have to catch up on all that email.

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Good news: Debian 7 is rock solid. Bad news: It's called Wheezy

Pete 2
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Re: But what can it do?

> With a free OS... but since it's not costing you anything,

Well the cost is in one's time, even for a home user. There is a measurable "cost" in terms of the hours taken to to a major software install - even if no money changes hands. This still has to be justified, unless software installs & upgrades are your hobby. For those of us who see OS's and applications merely as the means to an end - getting stuff done - upgrading is an annoyance and a risk that needs to hold out the promise of some significant benefits for the time it takes - time that could be spent on doing something we like.

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Pete 2
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But what can it do?

Having the latest versions of utilites is nice. If you're a hobbyist, that confers bragging rights within your group of nerdy friends who are still running last month's version.

Having the latest and greatest kernel can be a good thing, too. If you happen to need support for new hardware (and most kernel relases these days are for bug-fixes, hardware support and minor tweaks that nobody notices). It can also be a bad thing, when bugs creep in, or if poorly thought out changes cause more hassle than they're worth. However, ultimately an O/S is a bit like the engine in your car - it does its stuff unseen and if you do need to get involved with it, that's probably a sign that it's failing.

So, as with any new release of Linux, Windows, Android and any other software release that comes along (not just the O/S, but the apps too) the big question for people who just want to get stuff done is always:

What will this let me do, that I couldn't do before?

Maybe new user-level functionality, old stuff that's significantly (i.e. not less than 100%) faster, with all major bugs fixed, better integrated, documented properly or downright novel stuff that nobody has thought of before. When I see a release that answers these questions, rather than just listing out: this app has been updated to version 10.4 and that utility is now version 3.66 and this other one has had a major upgrade to 0.2 THEN is the time to take note. So long as releases just come with lists of version numbers, I'll continue to assume they are intended for the geeks.

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We've done it - we've gone and made LONG-LIFE BEER

Pete 2
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No excuses now

So much for the "I've GOT to drink this beer, it's nearly at its best before date". Now, with beer that has a shelf live measured in years, or decades, how will a chap justify pulling the tab (or opening the bottle) on that extra can - while getting the hairy eyeball from a disapproving partner.

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Scramjet X-51 finally goes to HYPER SPEED above Pacific

Pete 2
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On course for UK - Oz in 30 minutes

and a 6 hour wait at the airport

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Hotel marketplace Airbnb: Show us your privates if you want to book a bed

Pete 2
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Scanned ID? haven't they heard of photoshop?

So what's to stop you just grabbing any old driving licence and changing the name to the name of the new FB account you just created?

There's no verification of any of these documents, and all it does is instil a false sense of security into anyone who thinks that people who provide these (extra) forms of identity are for real.

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Oi, journos. Try NOT to get hacked again. Lots of love, Twitter

Pete 2
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At least someone still loves them

> journalists ... consider them "high value"

Even if you do have to take things extremely out of context to get there.

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Continued lack of women in tech bemoaned by ex-techie lady MP

Pete 2
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Choosing choice

> women are not choosing to enter the tech sector

Yes, they're not CHOOSING it. They have the option to enter the tech sector, some: not all, choose not to. In the past women have successfully infiltrated (if that's the right word) previous male-dominated professions, like: well, all of them - doctors, lawyers, advertising, acting, TV ... and the list could go on, and on, and on.

So there is no lack of abillity to break into a predominantly male line of work. The fact that there is little long-term change in women's numbers in IT can only be due to their lack of willingness to qualify for and take up IT jobs - compared to what they've achieved in most other walks of life. The simplest conclusion is that they prefer NOT to work in IT.

Now if you want a sector that badly needs gender-equality for the sake of all the members of society who pass through it in their formative years, lets see a similar campaign to get men (back) into teaching.

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Fried-egg sarnies kick off Reg man's quid-a-day nosh challenge

Pete 2
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Re: Calories

From the article:

> Or rather, I have to make do with just €6 for the week

But you're absolutely right. I wonder is anyone's going to wait until Sunday evening to tell Lester ...

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Pete 2
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Re: Do they not have street markets over in Spain?

If Lester's markets are anything like the ones I've been to in Spanish towns, the meat is not covered and unrefrigerated on display, of an unknown age and origin. I'd prefer to go vegetarian. Though the veggies will only be what's in season, so not a lot of choice at this time of year.

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Pete 2
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Calories

A quick tot-up at the calorie counter gives the following:

1kg rice (raw) ~ 4,000

800 gm loaf ~ 2,100

1kg chickpeas (dry) 3,700

12 fried eggs ~ 1,000

Bones - reckon on 200gm of fat @ 8cal/gm = 1,600

semi skimmed milk (iltr) ~ 600 - shoulda gone for full-fat!

and ignoring the teabags & spices as being insignificant.

That gives a total calorie intake of about 13,000 for the week, or 1,850 / day. So you might even lose a bit of weight - though I doubt that was part of the plan. Now, about those greens ...

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UK.Gov passes Instagram Act: All your pics belong to everyone now

Pete 2
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Free for all!

So let's see if I've got this right.

Once a work has become "orphaned" then this new british law will allow anyone and everyone to copy it, modify it, sell it or give it away. You can "orphan" a work by removing any meta data the image contains and doing a cursory search in a single registry to see if the piccy is listed there.

However, if you <err ... > come by an already orphaned work on a website - maybe a photo-sharing for the sake of argument, then you can do whatever you wish with it. And if it just happens to be similar to, but sufficiently different from, a famous original such that your registry search would come up negative, well, that's too bad.

Now, I can't see how the "britishness" of this law comes about. Will the ability to claim a picture only apply if it was "found" on a UK website, or can it be "found" anywhere so long as the finder was in Britain at the time (in reality, or virtually) - or what? And does it offer any protection at all if someone in another country appears on the scene and claims ownership of the image and sues your ass off in another country, of their choosing?

Finally, what is a movie, if not a series of images (none of which individually contains ownership material) all strung together in a particular order? .... I really can't see this Act doing anything except muddying the waters and giving the BIG GUYS more power, while not treating the little guys in the same way.

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Caldicott: NHS workers should 'have the confidence to share information'

Pete 2
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Instead of asking for patient consent ...

Just ask them for their FB account id. If it's possible to pull personal info from that, assume the individual has no interest in personal security. If they refuse to hand over the account details, don't have one or ask "What's Facebook?" then button 'em up, tight.

At the worst, it might give some people a well-needed lesson in personal security.

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Bill Gates offends Koreans after sticking hand down trousers

Pete 2
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Eric Pode got it right

> He had an itch and needed a scratch.

One of The Burkiss Way's more memorable passages had Mr Croydon being asked:

"Are you feeling up to it?" which brought the reply

"Naaahh, I was only scratching my leg"

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Reddit: So very sorry for naming innocent man as Boston bomber

Pete 2
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Just goes to show: the internet is a GOOD thing

Here we have a bunch of couch-surfers, complete with their biases, assumptions and prejudices fingering the wrong guy for all the wrong reasons. Luckily for him, they were only sitting at home thinking they were getting involved in something real. If this had been a pre-internet lynch-mob there could well have been a hanging. Instead the pitchforks and nooses of Ye Olde West (and East) were not in evidence and the target of this uninformed hysteria is still with us.

However I bet his lawyers are rubbing their hands with glee.

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Verizon: 96 PER CENT of state-backed cyber-spying traced to China

Pete 2
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So does the hosting country get a "pass"?

> New statistics contained in [ the american company ] Verizon’s ...

Or is there actually an espionage gap? One that represents as big a threat as the missile gap, the bomber gap or the mineshaft gap ( 'pollies to Dr. Strangelove for that last one ). If so, what is the United States of Merkins going to do to close the gap. One must assume a rapid deployment of hackers on their part to catch up.

Unless there is no gap and the USA-ian hackers just don't get caught, or have a blind eye turned (or maybe even hacked the survey?).

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Google's teeny UK tax bill 'just not right', thunders senior MP

Pete 2
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Re: Can we check one thing?

> You feel that hypocrisy is the worst of all possible offenses, and to have engaged in it in the past makes someone ineligible from ever pointing out the deficiencies of another?

I don't think hypocrisy is like having the flu. You get it for a week or two and after that you're cured: a "moment of madness" if you will. I believe it is more an intrinsic part of one's personality (or not). Now, I can accept that people can and occasionally do, change - but acts of contrition after being caught don't cut it - they just reinforce the initial impression.

It might not even be a bad attribute for a politician, if used properly. For example in negotiating with other governments it would be nice if our politicians were better liars, frauds and con-artists than the other guy's were. It's just when they do it (and so badly) to the people who pay them, that it annoys me.

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Pete 2
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Can we check one thing?

When MPs start criticising others, or companies, for dubious tax affairs - or claiming things they shouldn't ought to it's always worth looking back to inspect their records of honesty, apropos expense claims.

Maybe she's not the best person to cast the first stone

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8 in 10 small UK firms hacked last year - at £65k a pop: Report

Pete 2
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Come clean on funny money

> The average attack caused a Blighty SMB between £35,000 and £65,000 worth of damage

Now, we all know that doesn't mean that the SMBs in question had to get thirty five grand of cash out of their respective wads and spend that money on goods or services outside the company.

No. All it means is they got some of their staff to do a few hours of work at some notional internal cross-charge hourly rate and a whole lot more managers to spend time in meetings, each at a vastly higher notional hourly rate. Now some of those people might, just, have got a bit of overtime or a meal allowance - but in most cases (of personal experience) they were just told to stop what they were working on: projects, facebook updates, chatting to colleagues, long lunches, going home on time - and to sort out whatever breach had been detected.

The reason that large company's breaches cost more was in large part because they had more staff that they could apply to the problem. Work expands to fill the number of departments that can charge for their time.

What would be interesting to know, but will never ever be revealed, is how much actual cash flowed out of a company for each problem that they had to fix. I would suspect that in most cases the real monetary cost was very small indeed.

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Securing the Internet of Things - or how light bulbs can spy on you

Pete 2
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Who let the data out?

> ... data to be secured between just the device and a home hub

So all this stuff will be routed through the home's internet connection. That makes it a trivial task to simply block it going out at all. It does seem that until someone (a vested interest no doubt, but vested in what, precisely?) can answer the question: why should I give away all this information about my household? there's nothing in it for me to let this data go back to where ever it is being sent.

Sure, I can see that there is a possibility, but only a possibility, that I could get a discount on my utilities bill if I allow smart reading of the various meters - or more likely a penalty if I don't. But after that: who cares?

What do I gain if a lightbulb tells someone "Hello, I've just been switched on" or if the kettle squeaks up "this is the third cup of tea this hour!".

Just because something becomes possible, that doesn't mean that it will be adopted. Unless I can see a real, tangible benefit TO ME for all this data that would counterbalance the disadvantage it would put me at , I can't see why I should let it pass.

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Eric Schmidt defends Google's teeny UK tax payouts - again

Pete 2
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It's not a tax ...

... if you don't have to pay it - it's a donation.

Maybe the people who should be most apologetic about this whole sorry state of affairs are the UK's politicians. The thing they should be apologetic about is their inability to draft water-tight tax laws. Why, after all the years that this has been dragging on, haven't they got off their arses and DONE SOMETHING to close the loopholes?

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The politics of the data centre

Pete 2
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Stovepipes kill progress

One place I worked had a team for every possible discipline. All of whom wanted to be involved in approving every decision, as there was inevitably some aspect that would affect their "patch".

So, to do something as simple as extend a database table needed buy-in from the database team: fair enough. However the server guys could veto the decision, as the databases ran on their servers. Similarly the storage peeps had to be persuaded - as they looked after the spinning stuff and would have to allocate space. Same for the network: as all the data traffic flowed through their wires, so an potential increase needed to be assessed, modelled and impact-analysed. Add in the people who did the backups and service / continuity people and even the smallest change needed the approval of half a dozen or more teams. None of whom were looking at the big picture - merely how they could leverage the situation to get more budget, headcount or cross-charge.

As a consequence nothing ever got done. Nobody could ever agree and there was always someone else to point the finger at if a problem arose. Everyone quickly learned that trying to do pre-emptive maintenance was futile and the simplest way to get things done was to wait until some part of the operation failed, then raise an emergency change to get it working again.

Sadly this state of affairs arose because of all the problems that the earlier "free for all" organisation had suffered. Some consultants had come in, seen the opportunity and suggested ISO, or BS, or ITIL or whatever other faddy re-organisation would earn them the highest fees. The basic problem was that they were only shuffling the same people around. The people who neither wanted to do any work, nor were interested in what went on outside their little fiefdom, or had any loyalty to the IT department as a whole.

The truth was that any set of processes (or none at all) could have worked, if only the individuals charged with running the operation were motivated, skilled and truly a team. In the end the problem was solved by outsourcing the whole mess, so everybody lost. But at least no individual was to blame.

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Bitcoins: A GIANT BUBBLE? Maybe, but currency could still be worthwhile

Pete 2
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Is your money where your mouth is?

> Bitcoin is the greatest thing since sliced bread

So, the only question that remains is: how many have you got (and would you take an assignment that paid in BCs)?

A person who extols the virtues of any virtual currency but hasn't got any, themself, has no credibility on that topic.

Bubbles are at best ephemeral, fragile things that disappear as soon as you look at them. Virtual bubbles from virtual trading in virtual goods? Even more so. If the whole mess disappeared tomorrow, at least the BC holders wouldn't have lost anything - since they never had anything to start with.

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Ban drones taking snaps of homes, rages Google boss... That's HIS job, right?

Pete 2
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Celebrity self interest

> cheap camera-toting aircraft can be used by anyone from terrorists to quarrelling neighbours:

I think his major, probably only, reason for getting upset is that the paparazzi will start flying drones over his property and start invading his privacy. He obviously has no interest in anybody else's privacy, but when it comes "home" it's a different matter entirely.

Though to be fair, it's only a short journey from loading a camera onto a drone and flying it over his heavily guarded and impenetrable walls, to loading a gun onto the same ...

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Space elevators, vacuum chutes: What next for big rocket tech?

Pete 2
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That's what happens when you leave development up to governments

So the basic rocket used in the 1940s is little different from the ones in use today - 50+ years later. Quel suprise!

Government agencies have little reason to pursue developments - they're expensive, they don't always work and even if you do make a thingy work better, all you get is a pat on the back and a memo of thanks.

Compare that with the (commercially driven) aircraft industry. Coming out of WW1, in 1918 aircraft were still made from wood, with 1 or 2 piston engines and room for one or two "lucky" drivers (though some of the "latest" bombers could carry 6 people). And they were about as reliable as Windows 3.1 However there were lots of civil aviation companies - all competing for government contracts and commercial uptake. Hence, 50 years and a few more wars later we had Jumbo jets.

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Frightening fondleslabs branded Hannibal Lecter of UK PC market

Pete 2
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Punditry

The great thing is that in a day or two, whatever these guys say will be lost and forgotten, probably for ever. If pure, blind, random chance happens to do them a turn and this prognostication (one of how many?) happens to have a grain of truth in it, they will be blowing their own strumpets and telling the world what masters of forecasting they are. However, if it turns out they are completely and irredeemably wrong the story will get buried and never mentioned again.

The trick is to make as many forecasts as possible and just play the odds.

Now, if they were to have a significant amount of their own, personal, money riding on the outcome of this statement, then I might be persuaded to take it a bit more seriously.

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US Air Force reclassifies 6 cyber tools as weapons

Pete 2
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Air force ... cyber-weapons ... huh?

Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I'm a little confused about the armed farces.

The army I get: shoot people on land

Navy: same idea - shoot people at sea

Airforce - bomb the crap out of people from a nice, safe distance

So where does the american air force feature in goofin' around on the internet? You'd think that if someone wanted to keep critical assets away from (foreign) baddies, simply unplugging them from the web would be simple, effective and extremely sensible. I can only presume that since the fly-boys haven't got very many targets these days, they've been expanding their sphere of influence in order to preserve their enormous egos budgets.

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The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Pete 2
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Thinking Machines

Enough of the cheap, plasticky tat. A real computer is too heavy to lift. Although there's a Cray in the list, nothing beats a Thinking Machines Corp. product for sheer cool.

(Except maybe, watching a StorageTek tape robot doing its thing at full whack.)

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Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs

Pete 2
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Where lawyers go to die - or at least smell bad

> n the last 19 years 1,710,000 students studied Law though in the same period there were only ever 66,500 job vacancies ever available.

And the rest are to found polluting the internet with their own personal views of what's legal or illegal (or worse: right and wrong, though the two have no connection whatsoever). Based on no experience at all.

It's probably a good thing, though. This country really doesn't need 90,000 new lawyers every year - though with so many excessively legal-jargon qualified, even if not all of them graduate, is it really any wonder that this country is becoming so litigious?

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Gov report: Actually, evil City traders DIDN'T cause the banking crash

Pete 2
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Investing is gambling is risk

> Quite simply, they made loans to people who said they had a great plan

So they were unable (or unwilling, given the "cooooore! look how much those other guys are raking in!" factor) to correctly assess the risk associated with their loans. That's hardly different from a punter consistently reckoning horses have odds of 4 - 1 of winning and therefore betting his/her entire pension on them if the bookie is offering 5 -1.

Now, the basic problem was that unless the bank made those bets, and won, they couldn't support a share price that was comparable to the financial sector - so the people at the top would get the chop. It turned out that HBOS was just plain unlucky with who they gambled on - though given their actions: it wasn't really luck, at all. The whole process will repeat, sooner or later, unless the quest for short-term payback is limited and possibly regulated. Without someone telling the bankers (as a whole) that their gambling is reckless and has to be brought under control, it's inevitable that someone will succumb to the "bargain" odds on offer and get it wrong.

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Gartner: RIP PCs - tablets will CRUSH you this year

Pete 2
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Crush? or a light fondling.

Some numbers from the article:

> PCs sold in 2013 ... 315 million units

> Tablet shipments ...197 million units

So even if all those tablet shipments turn into sales - and they include the $50 cheap crap devices, the market for PCs still looks pretty dam' good - though obviously in decline, as you'd expect for a saturated product where most sales are replacements, rather than new users.

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Monkey poo probe reveals secrets of middle-management brains

Pete 2
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If only someone would invent a "search engine"

> human middle managers have a harder time than their bosses and their underlings.

The researcher would have found dozens of studies, on actual people, that have been done over the past 50 years that all reached the same conclusion. And she wouldn't have had to watch 600 hours of monkey poo - just a couple of minutes in front of what might (in the future, if anyone ever develops it) be called "Google" could have saved her from wasting her life away.

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Brits, Germans, French, Dutch, Spanish and Italians ALL to probe Google

Pete 2
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Tax revenue for free

The americans have been doing this sort of thing (imposing enormous fines on foreign companies) for some time. It seems only fair that "we" get in on the act, too.

These fines are actually a nice little earner and since they don't hurt any nationals from the countries doing the regulating they provide some free money to the various exchequers. Whether or not this amounts to (illegal) trade sanctions is debatable, but if they can do it to us, why shouldn't we regulate back? It sure beats the hell out of taxing your own voters.

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I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

Pete 2
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Don't do house calls

My response to these annoyances is to tell the individual in question to "bring it over and I'll have a look". You are then at liberty to leave any computer that does actually turn up (the prospect of having to do something, themselves, seems to deter most people) in a dark corner for several weeks. If the owner does summon up the courage to enquire, just mumble something about "cross wiring the Southend bus" or somesuch and tell them you'll be in touch.

The problem with going round to their house to fix a problem is

(a) it puts you under pressure to do something immediately

(b) you're away from your tools, favourite debugger, reference sources and possibly even a viable internet connection

(c) unless you do manage to randomly fix it, it's difficult to get away when you've had enough

(d) it takes no effort on the part of the ask-er - always a bad position to be in.

The other advantage of leaving someone-else's kit to fester while you're "fixing" it, is that you could build up a stockpile. So when yet another freeloader cheefully asks for hundreds of pounds of your time (at professional rates) for nowt (or worse, in exchange for a bottle of undrinkable wine, that they were probably given on the cheap), just point to the pile and remind them that you've already got Fred from No. 6's to do first and then you promised the kids from across the street that you'd sort out their video drivers ...

Alternatively, you could just hand them your lawnmower and suggest that while you're fixing their PC, they could make themselves useful with the jobs you were about to do, before they interrupted you.

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You know how your energy bills are SO much worse than they were?

Pete 2
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On the bright side ...

If the government hadn't "forced up" the price of energy, then we'd have more money in our pockets. But then we'd probably go and spend it all on things like .... well, you know: food, and beer and fags. So a competent liar politician could argue that by forcing people to shell out to keep warm, they've actually helped to IMPROVE our health, lower our weight and keep our livers in good order.

Gawd bless 'em

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