Where's the off switch?
On your PC - where is should be and always has been
2434 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
On your PC - where is should be and always has been
> and chose [sic] from a list of operating systems they wish to run
... it would be that new users don't want choice. They want simplicity. Just switch the puppy on and up it comes - no questions, no decisions (if they are that new, how can they make an informed choice about O/S's anyway), none of that nasty configuration and numbers with dots in them. In fact, it's better to not even ask them what timezone they are in - considering the number of emails I get from friends in the UK with an american "default" timezone in the header.
Now that's not to say the system shouldn't be configurable., Just that it shouldn't need to be configured.
If you want to teach people to be programmers that's different from teaching them to be a sys-admin - as pay scales illustrate all too well (as does the mess a lot of programmers make when they try to administer their own machines). Don't put barriers up, just provide an environment that boots with no fuss and leads 'em by the nose into their first program.
> "No government follows you as much as a social network,"
The thing about democratic governments is that they have institutions that are meant to protect citizens (whether from the government, other citizens or other institutions is a point worth debating over at least 4 pints). Social networks haven't even evolved a fully developed sense of mob rule yet - though I'm sure it's on its way.
The time to get worried is when an online group starts to wield significant influence and therefore gets courted by "real" politicians. Mumsnet is a possible example. Until something like Facebook can declare itself a state, use it's cash pile to finance hard or soft power (it probably already has more soft power than the majority of countries) and comes up with a political agenda, we're probably OK. Fortunately none of the internet power brokers have any natural resources, so they are all kept under control by their advertisers. Even more fortunately, their users are a fickle lot. So it's unlikely that any particular social website will ever last long enough to do any serious damage - except to the generation of children who were innocent enough to tell it all their secrets.
Let's hope none of those kids ever stumbles in to a position of power.
> his up-to-date version of Microsoft Word can't read Powerpoint files created in 1997
... nothing of any consequence has ever appeared on a PP presentation.
Unlike present day archaeology, where making a "find" is a rare event due to the scarcity of old artefacts, I expect the researchers of tomorrow will have the opposite problem: trying to work out which is THE ONE significant piece of work amongst the hundreds of billions of pieces of crap, spam, tweets and pr0n. After that, decoding the format (surely just stripping out all the non-ASCII is 99% of the job) will be a trivial matter.
The first ideas are usually the most obvious and therefore the longest lasting.
So the basic concept of see a target and shoot it (before it shoots you) is still the dominant feature of most games today. While the graphics has improved vastly and the "immersion", too. Most video games are still essentially the same as they were back in the 70's
> allow "a viewer to have the programme content tailored to their taste or mood"
Surely the way to do this would be a combination of features inside the telly?
It would start with image and voice recognition and end up with real-time video editing / substitution. That would allow users (or viewers, in old-fashioned parlance) to choose what attributes the individuals on their TV programmes had. So if they didn't like the voice of a particular "star" they could access a menu and change the pitch, gender or accent (maybe even language, too) of the speech that issues forth from their gob. It wouldn't be a huge step to do the same with the video, so actors clothes could be changed (or removed, or covered up - the "fig-leaf" filter) and themes added. Likewise with their faces and physical attributes.
From the broadcasters' side, this would make complaints a thing of the past. If you didn't like a programme - they it's your own fault for not tailoring it to something more palatable. Offended by the language - why didn't you use a *beep* filter?
For the users, the possibilities are endless. Not only could you substitute Her Maj. in to do the weather forecast, but you could buy add-ons and customisations and maybe even third party mashups and reworkings.
However, the best feature would be that there would never be the need to make an original programme ever again. Gone would be repeats in the orthodox sense. Yes, it would still be Dad's Army (special centenary anniversary edition) but Captain Mainwaring could be replaced with Arnie, Corporal Jones with Catherine Tate's Lauren and so on ...
Of course, you'd never be able to trust a news broadcast - or any other factual programme, ever again. But the downfall of democracy is a small price to pay for a limitless supply of crappy TV.
I think the material would have to be very, very taut to stop the bullet. The material's property is that it won't tear - but it could still deform and allow a bullet to puncture the skin and cause internal injuries. Although the bullet in question would be wrapped in (untorn) graphene when it did kill you.
> perched precariously on
might I humbly suggest:
Page provided perfect prose pondering performing pachyderms perched precariously, providing pencil proof planar products prove purported properties.
The possibility of stringing an invisibly thin thread of incredibly strong material across a doorway at neck height has been the subject of some SF (possibly Pournelle, mercenaries stories?). If graphene can be made into threads then I can see a whole new area of terror opening up.
> "bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, sadism-masochism (BDSM)"
... about the researchers¹.
And doing a Chi squared test doesn't impress anyone.
 Psychology: The study of people who don't need studying by those who do
The sort of experience that IS valuable isn't so much to do with languages or technical skills. After all, languages come and go, development environments likewise and programming fashions, too. Plus, it's never too difficult to pick up the latest fad since there's very little that's actually new or novel in most of them. Added to which, most interviewers can't distinguish whether "6 years experience of XYZ" means 6 years of implementing new and ever-expanding techniques - or just 1 year of experience, repeated 5 times over.
The sort of experience that good people accumulate is knowing which of a list of requirements should be implemented first, which are difficult and which are wrong. Also being able to spot a project that's going off the rails (and knowing how to get it back - or whether to just let it go) and how to handle work issues like conflicting priorities, how to meet you targets and still keep your weekends free and how to tell the boss, in the nicest possible way, that he/she is a complete 'kwit and you're going to do the project YOUR way as that's the right way to do it.
The problem is that none of this is ever brought up at interview and is difficult to put into a CV in a way that a callow, just-appointed team leader, trying to recruit for the first time would recognise as a good thing.
In the good times companies spend more, so security budgets go up
In the bad times there's more crime about - so security budgets go up
The only problem is that if you're too successful, all the threats get dealt with swiftly and silently. That leads your boss, or whoever doles out the money, to assume that there are no security issues so they are likely to cut your job. The trick seems to be to stoke their paranoia and to find new and serious threats in every change the company makes. If you're really lucky, the MD will already be paranoid and will just need to hear good news stories about "the one that nearly got past you"
> stop the giant retail businesses (Tesco etc) swamping the town with their shops
Actually I like Tesco and the other supermarkets.
The thing about shops is that you can't buy what you want - you can only buy what they stock. Small shops carry small ranges and small quantities. Go into a small shop and ask for a "number 6 widget" and they'll tell you: sorry, we've only got a number 2 or a number 4, there's no call for a number 6, If you do find a shop with a number 6 widget, the price will be much higher due to the cost of the capital tied up in (unsold) stock and the square footage of the storage space they need to keep it.
Go to a large supermarket and they have 50,000 different widgets, and by selling lots of each sort each day, they are cheaper (and maybe fresher, too).
Where the internet is concerned, it's not much of a stretch to consider all online stores put together to be one, single retail entity. Since it makes little difference to your shopping "pleasure" whether you buy from cheepogoods.com betterstuff,com specialistwidgets.co.uk or imcheapbutinchina.cn - the only differences are cost, delivery times, (possibly) security and the methods of payment.
That makes internet shopping like supermarket shopping, but more so. More choice, lower costs and even the possibility (if you add expert forums into the mix) of getting knowledgeable advice on what you should buy, or avoid.
> the proliferation of e-commerce means retailers need only 70 stores to build a national presence
That sounds a bit high, roughly 70 stores too high, when you consider the likes of Amazon as already having a "national presence".
There may be an argument for a few high-profile vanity stores, in central London, for example. But otherwise the whole point of online shopping is to NOT have the expense and hassle of maintaining actual shops.
Otherwise, the prognostications of this retail body seem blindingly obvious to anyone who's ever done any online shopping. Hopefully all the out of work shop assistants can get jobs as delivery drivers, instead. You never know, that might even lead to home delivery companies starting to deliver at convenient times - like evenings and weekends, when (those who still have jobs that require their presence) people are actually at home.
> Chinese spies have allegedly hacked into the designs of many of the United States' advanced weapons systems and platforms
Great! So we'll soon be able to buy these from the usual websites of chinese goods. Presumably at a tiny fraction of what the americans would charge and delivered in wrappers that say "Gift. Value $5" on the customs declaration.
> the annual consumer surplus of free services such as Facebook and Gmail at €100bn a year
This is the economics of the record companies. Assuming that a "thing" that someone downloads for free would be a "thing" they would have paid full price for and therefore the lost revenue is whatever they say it is. We all know (except the lawyers in record companies and the judges they own) that there's not a single shred of reality in this argument and that the difference between giving (or getting) something for 0 pence and having to pay 1p for it is huge, massive, enormous, possibly infinite!
So no, I don't buy the idea that Google and its ilk are blocking a more profitable internet market - one where people would pay for what they now get for free. If everything that Google "gives" away had a fee attached, the internet would be back in the 1990's, with a level of e-commerce to match. Now that might suit the bricks and mortar shops, with their unsustainable overheads and staff levels. But for consumers the internet is the best thing since slicedbread.com (although as websites go, that one is pretty poor, and noisy).
Google might not pay much tax directly - though it does pay what it's requireed to by law. However the amount of tax revenue it has enabled through internet buying and all the online businesses that have grown up simply by being successful and satisfying searches for whatever goods or services they sell, is huge, massive, enormous, possibly infinite. It's justa shame that so few of those companies are in the UK.
> Everything is going to be known about you
What a load of self-important cobblers.
Having a few snippets of information about when someone using my CC last bought some teabags online, or whether I sent my aunt an email on her birthday means nothing. Even if these sorts of items can be linked back to an individual - so what? It tells people nothing about what I want, my goals, desires or fears.
At best it just presents some slightly-less-than-irrelevant information for my ad-blocker to ignore and sends a few irrelevant emails to a spam-dump email address - never to be seen by anyone.
This "knowing everything" meme is the same as stating that white noise contains all the answers to all the questions in the universe. It may well be true, but the cost of sifting through it all to find those answers is extremely high - much higher than the value that results. Plus, like white noise, there is no guarantee that what seems like the correct answer (gleaned from an online transaction 10 or 20 years ago - and yes, I have some from 1993) is either still relevant or has made the correct inferences.
> What does the concept of victory mean?
Same as it's always meant - to be able to impose your will on others.
This guy does seem to be on a bit of a rant - asking questions that any sixth-form debating team would have got bored with years ago. Cyber war, Economic war ... who cares? It's a conflict and the people in charge like to call it a "war" because that means they can suspend the usual civil liberties: "Don't you realise ... we're at WAR!" and not have to worry about due process, legality or any of the other attributes of civilised living that gets in the way of achieving their goals (whether those goals are worthy, just or desirable - or not).
As for who wins? Jeez, talk about asking the easy questions. The winners are the arms (or IT) suppliers, duh!
There are simply too many buzzwords and trendy cliches. That tells you it was written by someone with no firm grasp (or even a single clue) what it was meant to achieve - or what problem it was supposed to solve.
The final paragraph contains this gem: essential for the BBC to remain relevant to our ever evolving audience. Well, I don't know if the BBC audience is evolving, or what it is evolving in to, but to make that claim when the Beeb is still screening 40 year old repeats of Dad's Army - and that they're getting better viewing figures than a lot of contemporary programming - shows a level of disconnection with reality that only an organisation with no concern for where it's finance comes from could ever get away with.
> Why make a gun look like a gun
Because the greatest power that a gun has is that people recognise it as dangerous and the owners hope that they will get respect as a consequence. [ Though it's worth noting that gun owners never get respect, they only ever get fear - which they like to kid themselves is the same thing. ]
If you made a bullet firing device that was accurate, deadly, but looked like something else: a teapot for example, it wouldn't have the same effect, as your intended victims would only laugh at you. To demonstrate what a "man" you were, you'd actually have to shoot someone, which although is the only purpose of a gun, mostly defeats the purpose of carrying - which is to intimidate.
> The same as we shouldn't trust open source software?
You can restore files from your backup ...
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> Boys are not the most natural writers.
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.
> ITV? Are they still going?
Despite their best efforts at repelling viewers, I'm informed that they are.
> 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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
and a 6 hour wait at the airport
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.
> journalists ... consider them "high value"
Even if you do have to take things extremely out of context to get there.
> 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.
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 ...
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.
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 ...
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.
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.
> 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"
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.