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* Posts by Pete 2

2295 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

The GPL self-destruct mechanism that is killing Linux

Pete 2
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Re: @Pete : Divide and conquer

> I've done this any number of time on any number of distros

and there's the clue. We aren't talking about the self-selected collection of uber-geeks who frequent El Reg. We're talking about normal people who don't know, care or feel it's polite to ask them if they're running Debian, SuSE, Centos or any of the million other none-quite-the same distros. As for whether it's i386 or 64 bit? the blank look you get could swallow entire civilisations.

That people who can do this with ease can only scoff and look down upon those who can't is exactly the problem with GPL software and is the clearest reason why it will never be a usable solution for the "other 99%"

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Pete 2
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Re: @Pete : Divide and conquer

> exactly what things are required by the "average user" on your average Linux-based OS that require "enormous, duplicated effort by each individual who wishes to install" it

You've obviously never had to watch an ordinary, non-technical but scarily intelligent human being going through the frustration of trying to install libdvdcss2 on her machine. I'm sure more than a millisecond's thought would throw up many more examples. But that will do for now.

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Pete 2
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Divide and conquer

> the ability to freely modify whatever software is running on his computer and share it

This ideal is great for the tiny minority of highly able individuals who have both the skills, motivation and the time to do this. So far as making Linux (or other GPL projects) popular, accepted and used by ordinary people, it's completely irrelevant. A theoretical nirvana that (even more than free speech) is promoted by its ignorant or naive proponents as being something it is not - and never, ever could be.

So while a small number of geeks can take a project and fork it, they are simply diluting the brand, A few forks turn out to be more successful than the original vision and yet more forks take over from dead, dying or stalled projects. However most of them offer nothing different or innovative but are merely platforms for someone's ego. (exactly how many MP3 players or DVD rippers does one universe need?).

What this means is that the GPL world is like an undisciplined army - a horde of separate proud footsoldiers, who take orders from no-one, rushing headlong with their battle-cry of "software wants to be free" towards the organised and fatally disciplined ranks of professional software developers. Sure: the GPL-ites may have numbers on their side, even enthusisam too - but superior marketing, design processes, documentation, training and support (albeit paid for) is no match for the unwashed marauders who's doom is inevitable - even if they happen to be right.

So instead of GPL software being a directed force. Applied to fixing the problems that everyday users want fixed and supplying a free, ubiquitous, easy to use, flexible solution that would be universally adopted at low cost and without borders we have a balkanised, unstable source of software. Instead of being usable by "the average person" it requires enormous, duplicated effort by each individual who wishes to install some of its parts - usually requiring a whole load of other dependent parts, too.

What will be GPL's epitaph? Instead of a headstone, reading "We made software for everyone to use", there will be a series of tiny pebbles with poorly spelled inscriptions scratched on them - mostly the same, that when put together will read: A Lo'st oporrtinity LOL"

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Judge drops TV ad-block block: So how will anyone pay for TV now?

Pete 2
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Could herald TV's renaissance

> but logistically it's nonsense and a decision we might all live to regret.

It could also be the best thing to happen to TV since sliced bread advertisements.

Instead of having to write shows in 10 minute chunks, to be ad-break friendly, writers would have the freedom to produce, long, flowing scenes and to break the "action" into logical, rather than times, sections. It would allow programmes to break from from the staid, formulaic formats they presently have and to produce new, innovative patterns (providing the current, awful, level of TV writing can be kicked up a notch or ten). And it would allow a full 60 minues of programming per hour - as opposed to the current standard of 12 or 18 minutes of advertisements, that is de rigeur - and give the BBC a serious pause for thought.

Better yet, by requiring a better way of financing programmes, we might find that a true PAYG or subscription model comes into being. Where people only have to pay for the programmes they choose to watch, and continue watching. Rather than the hit and miss "half of everything we spend on advertising is wasted - but nobody knows which half" model we have at present - that just annoys and gives the audience a reason to switch channel.

Finally (and here's the controversial bit), by doing away with a large source of advertising, the average couch potato might not feel so pressured, or manipulated, into buying all the unnecessary garbage we currently get cajoled into thinking we must have, RIGHT NOW. Since most of the stuff we buy is imported, it'll have little affect on our industrial output (what's left of it), but could do wonders for our personal wealth. You never know, people might even start saving again.

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Revealed! Prime Minister's iPad 'dashboard' for controlling Britain

Pete 2
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The big red button

So does that terminate a call, or launch our nukes?

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Medical scan record that the NHS says will cost £2k to retrieve: Detail

Pete 2
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A lesson to us all

> although the scan is still on file ... it is stored in a format that can no longer be read by the hospital's computers.

A backup (or archive) is only a backup if you can restore it. Just copying stuff to some other location/format is pointless until you've verified you can read it back.

Although the hospital says they can read the file (given access to the right kit), they can't be sure it hasn't been corrupted. So until they try to access the scan there's no guarantee the scan still actually exists - just that the physical medium on which it's stored is present.

You'd hope that if the NHS does go to the effort of acquiring hardware to read this scan, they'll take the opportunity of transferring all their other MOD media onto something a little more modern, rather than just doing a one-off and shipping the reader back from whence it came. Presumably there are lots of other NHS shops in the same situation, so with even the slightest use of initiative, the cost of this activity could be shared. I hold out very little hope ...

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ALIEN DETECTION was SUPPRESSED by the BBC - top boffin

Pete 2
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Random acts of management

This decision (even thought there's bound to be more in it than we've been told) is bizarre, but well in keeping with lots of other BBC decisions - and compares well with some of the decisions they make regarding programme commissioning, cancellations, scheduling and content.

The BBC is simply too big to manage effectively. That's why it seems to have evolved lots of little (or big) fiefdoms that seem to act independently of their charter, the DG's wishes or public opinion. While they pride themselves in being "independent" of government, they are also independent of the country as a whole and only distantly related to common sense. That is the only reason I can think of for why they have developed such a knack for pinning KICK ME signs on their own arses. For which they duly and frequently get the result due to them.

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Widow lost savings in Facebook stock, sues all concerned for $1.9m

Pete 2
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Buyers remorse?

> No, she's not disappointed by a loss in the market, she's disappointed by illegal activity on the part of the banks and brokerages.

I kinda think it IS all to do with her losses. She wouldn't be suing all and sundry if the price had risen. unless she gets "pain and suffering" from trying to work out all the ways she could spend the profits she made.

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Bald? Looking old before your time? Don't panic, but you might DIE

Pete 2
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So to prevent a heart attack

... all you have to do is shave your head and cut off your ears?

Hmmm, tricky one - what would hold my spectacles on?

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Cockatoo grabs his tool, manages to get hold of boffins' nuts

Pete 2
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And after he'd made his tool ...

... he tweeted about it. Maybe not so clever, after all.

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Mmm, what's that smell: Coffee or sweat? How to avoid a crap IT job

Pete 2
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Re: My own tips...

> 1) What is a typical day (or week) in the life of this job?

> 2) What hard problems are you facing right now?

The answer to question #2 is: trying to think of a convincing answer to question #1

I have been asked #1 when I've been recruiting people. The problem is that without a great deal of background information and often an intimate knowledge of the particulars of the work situation and project(s) in play, just saying "Well, I spent the morning writing a cost case for upgrading the ... and later I was configuring some mobile gizmos for our Android doo-hickey". It's a bit like the answer you give your spouse when he/she/it/them asks if you "had a good day at work, dear?" Nobody really wants to hear the detailed answer.

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Pete 2
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We may be wholly worthless pimps ...

There are two fundamental problems that agencies face:

The first is lack of respect, that's respect OF them (though some may argue they show little or no respect to prospects, but that's a different problem). Software is essentially a creative process. Like all creative industries, respect comes from the people around you being aware of your past work and giving you respect for those achievements. Recruiters come into the software world with no background, and no IT history. They don't have the vocabulary, although they speak fluent non-sequitur. Nor do they have the experience or knowledge to converse with softies as equals - yet they control our futures and our prospects. That is not a recipe for a successful relationship.

The second basic flaw is a lack of transparency. You send off your CV and wait .... and finally someone calls you, they dismiss your 5 years of SAP development in the City and ask if you want a second tier support job in Sheffield - debuggering Windows Server 2008 apps. There is no visible connection between what a prospect sends in and what opportunities pop out. Even worse is that this happens not just between the recruiter and the applicant but also between the recruiter and their client. The end result is frustration all round. Everyone has to deal with a world full of imperfect information. However, when it's clear that the person you are relying on as the gateway to ANY new position has a PhD in obsfucation there is no possibility to build trust - as past experience is that most interviews will be a fools errand.

As for being wholly worthless. I think you're selling yourself a bit short. Even a pimp has some scrap value.

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Pete 2
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Re: Free coffee

> If they replaced the free coffeee with a dishwasher I'd be out of the door!

Some places I've been, the output from the dishwasher would be BETTER than the output from the coffee machine.

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Pete 2
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A wise check to make

Keep a copy of your CV with you and query that it matches the one that your interviewer has. Agents are not above (it may even be required for some clients) rewriting them, either to emphasise certain attributes or to remove particular things, like salary requirements.

Generally in the UK, if it's not your first IT job pretty much every vacancy goes through an agency. That way companies can distance themselves from some of the most egregious biases that still exist in IT, whilst still making sure that they only get the "right sort of chap" sullying their reception areas.

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KDE 'annoys the hell of' Linus Torvalds

Pete 2
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It's what you expect from free software

> the default widget/plasmoid behavior

Generally the defaults for a piece of free software is whatever the author considers will evoke the maximum number of "Oh, cool doood, that's freakin awwwwwwesum" comments within his/her support group online friends. That's what most of them are in it for: the squeals of admiration from fellow geeks, not the silence that comes from well designed software that works intuitively with no fuss and zero learning curve.

So sure, you CAN change the defaults, if you can find where they are stored, and you can work out from the undocumented source what they do, and they aren't hard-wired into the application - which can only be rebuilt by gathering together dozens of obscure (and inter-dependent) source libraries from the 4 corners of the world - and installing all the languages they are written in AND their own sets of dependencies. But really, who has the time to futz around at that level when there's STUFF NEEDS DOING.

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El Reg seeks hoardiest reader for crap-stashtic honour

Pete 2
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Re: I seem to recall

> I turfed out my ...

Well, that's you disqualified as a hoader then.

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Debenhams cafes ban outré terms like 'espresso' and 'cappuccino'

Pete 2
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And the selection of beans available in the UK is poor....

> We've got baked, broad and runner [beans]. What are you complaining about?

Not forgetting "coulda", "shoulda" and "has" ... lots and lots of has-beans

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Pete 2
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No. I asked: you for coffee?

> Latte? Wouldn't happen to be foreign for milk, would it?

Where coffee is concerned, I thought it was the famous bull-fighting term: Au Lait, Or simply "white".

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We don’t talk any more... on the commute

Pete 2
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Hell is in "hello"

> There must be something about my demeanour that makes people want to ask me about train schedules.

it must be the peaked hat and whistle that does it.

Seriously, the absolute LAST thing I want (in a long list, after getting off and waiting in the cold for the next train) on a journey is for some stranger to try and strike up a conversation with me. I don't care about their life and I really don't care about their cats, or kids, or holiday, or hopes and I REALLY don't want to hear about their problems or whatever trivial dilemma is fully exercising however many brain cells they can currently call upon.

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The iPhone 5 WILL do 4G magic on Three ... but not until next year

Pete 2
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2014 is a lifetime in Apple years

By then won;t the iPhone 5 be in museums - replaced by the iPhone 7 or 8?

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Businessweek: 'It's Global Warming, Stupid'

Pete 2
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Re: Its the election stupid.

Though, to be fair the only way to get the americans (for they seem to be the only major cause country that is unconvinced) on board about something is for it to affect them: directly, seriously and politically. In that respect something like Sandy is the only "evidence" they will accept. Every other manifestation of climate change - whether man-made or natural - merely falls into the category of "and now some foreign news <CLICK>"

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Nationwide to perform IT equivalent of 'replacing jet engine mid-flight'

Pete 2
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Re: "Voyager"? Interesting choice of Project Name...

Maybe not a coincidence.

The Voyager spacecraft used Jupiter to gain speed in it's mission to the far end of the solar system.

Jupiter was also the name of an ill-fated Centrica project to migrate it's billing systems to .... SAP. In that case Accenture got it's arse sued off for the failures and problems after the project went live.

Hopefully that is the only commonality - as Voyager is still running well, long beyond expectations (much like banks' COBOL systems). I wonder if those SAP implementations will be able to make the same claims in 30 years time?

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Sky squeezes even more money from customers, gets fewer new ones

Pete 2
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It's BSkyB, not just TV

> Who said satellite dishes were for poor people

The line that pops out of the press release is the number of people taking BSkyB's TV product (they split TV, HD and Multiroom into 3 different "products" - presumably you need to have "TV" as a gateway to HD or M/R). That grew by 95,000 punters in a total TV base of over 10 million - or less than a 1% increase, Most of the new TV "product" sales - HD, etc. seem to be conversions of existing customers taking additional products.

So it would appear that so far as their TV activities are concerned, most of their growth is from existing customers taking more products, with only a small number of new customers. That lack of "new blood" doesn't bode well for future years' product stuffing.

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El Reg acquires wildly dangerous laser cannon (with lightsabre option)

Pete 2
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Next year's requisition

... will include (rather belatedly)

Laser warning signs (adhesive backed)

Food for guide dog

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Freesat downs own website after Downton quickie

Pete 2
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Re: Repeatedly repeating repeats

> if each channel only had one new programme an evening ...

But they don't. For example, just look at Comedy central No new episodes of anything on ANY of their 5 channels tonight.

> Oh and Sky don't own any satellites ...

Oh and everybody knows that. Just like the phrase: "Britain's aging population" doesn't mean that the country owns the pensioners. It's widely understood that the possessive can infer a relationship where that context makes sense - not only an ownership.

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Pete 2
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Repeatedly repeating repeats

> And I'm not talking about the crappy second rate ones that show nothing but repeats.

Actually, you are.

Once you remove all the duplicates (there are over a dozen channels for C4, alone), prime/subscriptions, smut, "plus 1's", telesales, god, foreign-language and single-topic channels there are maybe 40 or 50 "proper TV" channels out of the thousand or so that a scan of Sky's satellites throws up.

Out of those almost all of them show repeats for most of the time. Even supposedly good channels such as FX or Sky1 only have one or two new (i.e. never shown before) programmes on any given night and sometimes they have none at all. E.g. tonight: Sky1 have 1 half-hour sitcom that's new and 1 hour-long new drama.

So if you don't want "crappy second rate ones that show nothing but repeats" you won't find a solution on satellite TV (and hardly ever on terrestrial, either). Most programmes are repeats. Most new stuff is repeated 3 or 4 times in the week after first broadcast - even more on the +1's. And some channels may only have 4 or 5 hours (30% of which is advertisements) of new material in a week. The clever bit is that they have superb promotional people, who can make the stale, dull and tired content appear new, fresh and must-see. It's not.

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Samsung ships two smartphones for every one Apple sells

Pete 2
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But who has an app store up their sleeve?

I doubt that Apple is too worried about the number of units it ships. It has a whole different revenue stream that Samsung could only dream about. So for Apple, shifting hardware is merely a means to a (30% royalty/tax) end - whereas Samsung has to make all its profit from flogging kit, where margins aren't that great.

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Facebook's stock rally may be shortlived: Small advertisers enraged

Pete 2
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Laying golden eggs

Nothing on the internet lasts forever (except maybe spam and data caps). And FB has had a annoying good run. But like all the social sites that have gone before it - and all the ones that are still to come, FB will eventually go into decline.

Whether this is the start of the end or just the end of the beginning (we will fight them on the beaches ... harrumph!) will only be apparent in years to come. However if the FB management do have their finger on the pulse, it seems reasonable to squeeze as much out of the old goose as they can, even if that does hasten its demise.

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Dyson alleges spy stole 'leccy motor secrets for Bosch

Pete 2
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> 15 years and £100 million developing high-speed brushless motors

With such "world beating" technology, you'd think they would be more careful about protecting their designs - or do patent disputes only work for software?

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Wonder why you live longer than a chimp? Thank your MOTHER IN LAW

Pete 2
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The secret of old age

> Grandmothers are the secret behind humans' living such long lives

And here was me thinking the reason humans lived longer than chimpanzees was because we're far less likely to fall out of trees.

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How Bodyform's farting 'CEO' became a viral sensation

Pete 2
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Re: Wheeeeee, SPLAT!

> You just need to throw yourself at the ground and miss!

As D.A. pointed out. However, if anyone was ever in a position to do this it would have been Felix Baumgartner and even he coudn't make it work. Maybe if' he'd jumped sideways instead?

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Pete 2
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Wheeeeee, SPLAT!

> if you can throw in a few boxes of Bodyform for the missus, that'd be handy. She's off skydiving next week.

Wouldn't a parachute be more useful? Or is that part of the surprise.

If at first you don't succeed, parachuting's probably not for you.

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Raspberry Pi SoC drivers now fully open source

Pete 2
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Maximum smoke

Knowledge is power. Now it should be possible to do some serious damage to the chip. Who'll be first to set their Pi on fire?

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Microsoft has no plans for a second Windows 7 Service Pack

Pete 2
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Learning from XP

> there are no plans for a second Windows 7 SP – breaking precedent on the normal cycle of updating Windows

Microsoft found to their cost that their biggest competitor for O/S's was .... themselves.

The success of XP, which is still casting a long shadow over O/S releases has taught them to tighten up A LOT on the planned obsolescence of their products. W7 was undoubtedly a success and stood to to be the next "XP" (given that it only had to compete with Vista - not really much of a contest). However, it seems that MS have learned from the mistake of making an O/S too successful and are ensuring that W7 will die in a timely manner, such that it's continued support doesn't stop people from being forced into upgrading.

If there was ever an opportunity for another O/S to find itself a unique selling proposition, long term support for (say) a 10 year lifespan would be a very tempting idea. Presuming the O/S in question wasn't so buggy it needed patching every month.

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How to get your bust in good shape

Pete 2
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Exactly what the office party needs

Just when photocopying your arse becomes old hat, a new technology comes along to inject a bit more "fun" into the proceedings.

Now, how to persuade your colleagues that the output from the printer really is NOT full size?

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Natwest biz banking service goes titsup overnight

Pete 2
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The power of the underpaid call centre worker

> One biz customer was told "an upgrade last night had broken the website"

Lucky for Natwest their staff are so honest. If that caller had got through to an evil agent with a grudge, the message might have been:

OH MY GOD, we've been told to not move from our desks. There are police everywhere - they're taking away boxes of stuff ... I've just seen the CEO being led away in handcuffs. Get your money out any way you can.

... and even if the misinformation was detected and a statement (eventually) put out - and it was believed, the potential damage, do-able by one, lone individual in the right place at the wrong time could have been massive.

Don't try this at home, kids.

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IBM slices UK GTS contractor rates

Pete 2
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Re: 1st rule of contracting

Indeed (having served my time with IBM). However on £425 a day the most expensive part of a cup of IBM coffee is the cost of the time it takes to walk to the machine (or cafeteria) and back again.

I did once suggest to my IBM boss that it would save them money if they employed a "waiter" to serve coffee to the "subbies" at their desks, rather than having the contractors fetch it themselves. Surprisingly, this was not well received!

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Pete 2
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1st rule of contracting

> contractors were getting their pay chopped

Rates go down - coffee consumption goes up.

IBM's bean counters may *think* they're saving money, but the reduction in pay WILL be compensated for in other ways.

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British sheep falling behind Continental sheep in broadbaaaand race

Pete 2
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Re: Sheep already HAVE twitter

> AND they've got their own subdomain

Maybe their bovine counterparts will ask for their own suffix: .cow.uk ?

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Pete 2
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Sheep already HAVE twitter

Just look at most of the comments.

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Nokia puts Symbian out to pasture ... why not release it into the wild?

Pete 2
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But what if it succeeded?

> underneath the crufty UI and bloat, there's still a remarkably reliable, low-power, real-time OS kernel. Nokia could do worse than release it into the wild

That would be a reasonable proposition if the company knew that the code was irredeemably awful and the people who saw it commented along the lines of "Wow, Nokia did a brilliant job of keeping it going as long as they did".

However, if it turned out that a collection of talented fans could turn a pigs ear into a silk purse, then questions would be asked inside Nokia, as to why their multi-billion $$ company couldn't do what a bunch of unpaid fanbois could (though the answer is in the question),

So, there's a huge potential risk to whoever was running the Symbian business, and no tangible benefit to that person. So: better to bury it, whistle innocently and claim "there's nothing to see here" than to open yourself up to embarrassing questions that can never be adequately answered.

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McKinnon case is NOT a precedent – says his own lawyer

Pete 2
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Not a precedent, but at least it's a start

This was always a special case - a cause celebre, even. However it does mark the point where one Home Secetary stopped fiddling while Rome burned, got off its arse and actually did something.

All of the "Homies" since McKinnon was arrested have had the ability to intervene, but they've all callously turned away and if not actively aided in outsourcing the british judicial system, at least been complicit in extending the anxiety and suffering of the guy and his loved ones.

Although the intervention here shows no sign of being a principled stance, just of the H.S. gauging the extent of public opinion and doing what politicians always do in the face of vociferous opposition. We can at least hope that at least some of the future, inevitable extreme extradition demands from our transatlantic overlords will be met with a "No!" even if that's followed by a "if you don't mind, sorrreeee!" sent quietly through the diplomatic channels.

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Canonical flings out Ubuntu 12.10 – now with OPTIONAL Bezos suck

Pete 2
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Naked yoga

> People want to be online and we want to make sure their online and offline works together well

and a big part of that "working well" is having absolute control over who can see what. Just like practising the limber arts in your own home is best done with the curtains drawn, so there's little to be gained (for the user) by conducting one's business "online" or in full view of all and sundry.

Being online, or having internet access is an enabler, not a benefit in itself (the benefit is what the internet allows us to connect to). Just like motorways allow us to get where we want to go, faster and more conveniently. However that doesn't mean we want to use them all the time, or live in the middle of the carriageway.

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Pints all round as Register Special Projects hacks hack off feet

Pete 2
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Squeeze hard

> consigning quarts ... to the dustbin

Or even putting them into a pint pot

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McKinnon will not be extradited to the US, says Home Secretary

Pete 2
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> I hope we see future governments follow in their footsteps.

Highly unlikely.

To quote Churchill:

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.

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This supercomputing board can be yours for $99. Here's how

Pete 2
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How screwups happen

> the Transputer themselves were not focussed on making something that could be economically used in making competitive products

Which is exactly WHY the transputer team needed some intervention. It's all very well being a hairy-arsed techy, but for every HAT you need someone to turn the technical solution into a marketable product - and then someone else to actually make and sell the gubbins at a reasonable price.

It's not realistic to expect people who wave soldering irons around to be able to commercialise the fruits of their labours, nor for them to know what the "market" will be looking for in the next year or two. Those are the areas that needs helping - not the scientific innovation. Fortunately, a lot of universities have woken up to this and a lot of them are getting good at turning academic developments into commercial products. Sadly, they do seem to be hampered by lack of funding, archaic interactions with government and an inability to find and cultivate people who know how to make items by the million.

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Last month ties for WARMEST September on RECORD

Pete 2
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Science denier

> "I don't think we can control what God controls."

It sounds like the best way to convince this guy is to dump all the evidence-based research, the climate modelling and most developments in physics. Instead we just need a deity to whisper in his ear and his opinions will duly follow.

I have no doubt that some sufficiently advanced technology that follows Clarke's third law could therefore have him voting billions for pretty much any cause the tech-owners wished for.

Isn't theology technology wonderful?

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Jam today: Raspberry Pi Ram doubled

Pete 2
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Re: Incremental upgrades

Don't know about incremental upgrades, but you'd kinda hope that someone was working on the Mk2 by now. The RPi foundation has had a load of beta testers for the original board for 6 months or so. The crocs in that design are well known by now and given all the hype the produce is capable of generating a newer version would be a great way to keep it all bubbling.

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Regulator spanks quiz line with record £800k fine

Pete 2
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A nice little earner

> all of which mounts up to a £800,000 fine and refunds to anyone who asks for one.

Just call our premium rate number to apply

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Facebook says it's LOSING money in the UK ... pays hardly any tax

Pete 2
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Why would you expect more?

> Facebook's European headquarters are in Dublin

So presumably all its billings are done from there. That would mean that the company had little or no earnings in the UK for it to be taxed on. However we still get a (tax) benefit from FB having an office in the UK, as it would have to pay N.I. employers contributions and its UK employees would pay UK income taxes - as well as VAT on all the stuff they bought with their wages.

This falls into the same category as people complaining that UK banks make "huge" profits - and therefore assuming that because the bank is based in the UK, all the vast profits come from UK customers. The joy of global businesses is that if you can attract them into your country's liberal, tax-friendly environment you can make many, many times more by taxing them on the income they make from foreign trading than a "fare share" policy would get, if they all buggered off to somewhere more sympathetic..

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