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* Posts by Pete 2

2371 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Major new science: WOMEN MORE NUDE more OFTEN online

Pete 2
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What a waste of a morning

> After studying 400 avatars

> physical attractiveness [ was equated to ] the waist-chest ratios

An alternative theory is that some researcher got caught playing a computer game by his/her/its boss and made up some cockamamie story about "research" and "virtual worlds". Then they found they had to follow through when the boss said "Carry on, I look forward to reading your conclusions".

So far, so fair enough. However the really sad part of the whole affair is that after scxrambling around for an hour or two to knock together some words and meaningless statistics of dubious quality, they managed to find a publication gullible desperate enough for material to accept, and peer-review, it.

Coming next, maybe: the effect of a hang-over on FPS scores?

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Feeling poor? WHO took all your money? NOT capitalist bastards?

Pete 2
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@Nick

> All I see is that the tax take has risen,

Try here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/apr/25/tax-receipts-1963 for another view, It shows that since the 1960's the overall tax take as a proportion of GDP has always been somewhere in the thiry-percents.Even though during that half-century, the amount we have earned (our wealth?) has increased about fifty-fold.

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Pete 2
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Just a bunch of wiggly lines?

Okaaaay, so the "workers' share" dropped a bit during the Eighties: from a long-term figure in the high fifties, percentage-wise to a number a little below 55 once the hump and following dip from 1990-2000 is levelled out.

Now pardon me, but didn't the late 70's and 1980's see a sharp rise in unemployment / jobless numbers? If you have fewer people working (for whatever reason) wouldn't that reduce wages, too?

For all the words in this piece - some of which I could make sense of - I can't see what the author expects to be done. ISTM the point is that workers are getting less, and government is taking more. Maybe that's true, but that's just slicing up the same cake in different ways: it's not as if taxes are removed from society and the money is burned - it's still there and is still spent. If a government took less off us - to spend on public benefits like the NHS - wouldn't all t'workers have to spend a larger proportion of their increased wages on the stuff they no longer got for free? Things like saving for their old-age, meds, child benefits, putting cash aside for time "on the bench" instead of getting the dole / housing benefit, driving granny around instead of her having a free bus pass (and a free TV licence). So the same money would just be spent by different people, but on the same things. There would be some choice: does Johnny get a new pair of spectacles, or do we have a day at the seaside? but there would still only be the same amount of money in the country.

ISTM the main reason wages are dropping is that so few people make stuff we can sell for a profit. You can't run a country on service industries: such as Taking in each others laundry. You'd have nice, clean clothes but no food to eat. Someone, somewhere has got to make / grow / invent all the stuff to earn the money we spend. Flipping burgers and selling insurance ain't going to cover it.

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Brits are so outraged by Amazon, they voted it TOP for shopping

Pete 2
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The basic fallacy

is to believe what people say rather than what they do.

I'm sure a lot of the population would prefer companies pay more tax - just so long as that doesn't lead to those same people being charged more for the goods they buy. So when faced with the choice between buying from a "good" company or a cheap one, most people will let their wallets lead the way.

This is no different from all the wailing holidaymakers who vow never to fly on RyanAir (again), yet join the queue to squeeze their carry-on into that airlines bag-check frames every year.

Talk is cheap, web chatter is cheaper still, yet none is as cheap or fleeting as pontifications over what's moral, or right.

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Opposable thumbs for FISTS, not finesse, say bioboffins

Pete 2
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broken metacarpals

> higher pressure when hitting with a fist,

If hands did evolve for fighting, rather than tool carrying (or to whack other people with large sticks) you would expect that the bones in the hand and wrist would be strengthened, due to natural selection, so that they were less likely to break (known as a boxers fracture) when used to thump an opponent.

Since this evolutionary trait did not develop - people still break bones in their hands when they hit someone, unless they've been trained properly on how to hit - this explanation does sound unlikely.

A better explanation for why humans have shorter fingers and thumbs is surely so that its easier to send TXTs.

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Dotcom titan funds 'Mark Cuban Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents'

Pete 2
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Needs a dam' sight more than a chair

I reckon if we filled all the seats from all the olympic stadia throughout the world with the brightest legal minds on the planet, they might, just, have a fighting chance of staving off the combined stupidity of the american patent system and all the vested interests intent on their own intangible land grab.

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High-powered luvvies given new radio home: 'But DON'T disturb the neighbours'

Pete 2
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@Paul

> like concerts and theatre where you can't tolerate 0.1s delay between actors & instruments

It's a long time since I dabbled in TV (university course, back in the analog days), but I do seem to recall being told that to make the audio sound "right", there's an artificial delay of some 100's of mSec introduced specifically so that actors lips move at the same time that the sound reaches the viewers ears.

So long as the right amount of delay between sound and vision is introduced, and kept constant the absolute time delay between recording the "live" event and the time it makes it through to the TV is immaterial. I often notice that in our house a TV tuned to a terrestrial channel leads another TV tuned to the same channel on satellite (not surprisingly) by a second or two.

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Pete 2
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The weakest link

> High power users ... can't go digital because of the same quality and latency issues that prevent the entire PMSE industry adopting digital radio

Yet all our domestic TV manages quite well with digital transmission to the viewer. So I can't see the point in having higher quality "upstream" than the user is capable of receiving. If the signal was digitised as soon as possible, there shouldn't be any further loss in quality all the way through the chain, from O/B to the viewer, provided that the signal wasn't reconverted to analog at any point.

Has this premise about quality and latency ever been tested, or is it just the doom-mongers putting up roadblocks as an excuse for not wanting to make changes?

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Rude web trolls should NOT be jailed, warns prosecution chief

Pete 2
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The sad part is ...

> (ACPO) welcomed the guidelines ... as "a common sense approach"

... that it needed a QC to write a report to define what "common sense" was, rather than for ACPO to be able to work it out for themselves.

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Perl programming language marks 25th birthday

Pete 2
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Re: The internet's Cobol?

> What's wrong with semi-colons?

Absolutely nothing at all. They're concise and give a clear visual warning where the end of a statement lies.

Now, if we were to start talking about requiring levels of indentation .... <ducks, runs away>

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Pete 2
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The internet's Cobol?

I started using Perl in the late 90's and still continue to do so, today - though our relationship is by no means exclusive (yes, I do compile other languages). There are better languages for a lot of the stuff I use it for, but no other single language that can do ALL the stuff I do in Perl, with the ease (through familiarity) and third-party additions I can simply install.

Perls greatest benefit is CPAN. If any language wants an example of how to make libraries integrate with little effort for the user and less fuss they should sit back and watch as Perl modules automatically download, work out their dependencies, download them without further help, build the whole mess, test it's installed properly and then let you get on with your job..

The code may look ugly, it may not have a de-facto IDE, it may be interpreted, you do need to use semi-colons all over the place. But it's well documented, there are plenty of examples (mostly working!) and it's easy to get started. Here's looking forward to another 25 years.

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Forget about fondling that slab... within 2 years, it'll fondle YOU

Pete 2
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And you think privacy is invaded NOW?

Just wait until every pharmacy you walk past has biosensors that diagnose every little sniffle (or droop!) and instantly announce to the world: "You're coming down with .... why not pop in for 10% off some Viagra and a couple of lollipop sticks".

Even worse is when these sensors become more sensitive than our, natural, senses: the machines will know more about us than we can tell, ourselves. Not only will drug testing be ubiquitous, it'll be carried out passively and remotely without your knowledge or consent - by people you didn't even know existed.

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Wind, solar could provide 99.9% of ALL POWER by 2030

Pete 2
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Only for americans

This study really does need say it's specific to the USA, it really doesn't work elsewhere in the world.

Friends in the 'States tell me that their electricity consumption is higher in SUMMER than in winter. Air conditioning is considered a necessity and is expensive to run - a situation that simply doesn't feature in the UK or wider: in continental Europe. Given that is when solar PV is most plentiful, the american model doesn't fit a european climate.

Secondly, take a look at the power generation prediction website http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php

This allows you to click a point on the map and get an estimate of the amount of leccy a "1KW" solar array will generate. Even in the sunny south-east of the UK, you'll get on average 1kW*Hr per day per kW of installed capacity ... and on half the days, less than that! Brrrrr.

Thanks to the power company, we know that chez Pete 2 uses about 10 kW*Hrs of electricity a day. A quick peruse of last winter's gas bill shows that from October - March, we used just over 9,000 kW*Hr or 50 kW*Hr per day for heating/HW & cooking. So reckon on about 60kW*Hr of energy usage per day that would have to be supplied by solar and wind. And then let's ignore wind power as there are many windless days.

Going back to the aforementioned website and selecting Daily Radiation tells us that an average day in January will produce PV electricity for 8 hours at a maximum rate of 100W / m², or roughly 400Watt*Hours of electricity per day. Thus, we'd need 150m² of PV panels to supply our daily needs - assuming the sun shines during January. That figure would require the entire back garden to be filled with solar panels, plus a few more on the roof. Even if the PV generation is located remotely (rather than each household having their own), this would double the amount of land needed to support each house - and then more to supply industry and yet more for power conversion / storage and transmission.

Somehow, I don't think this is going to work ...

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The 30-year-old prank that became the first computer virus

Pete 2
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The Multics cookie monster

> created Elk Cloner as a prank in February 1982

Ahem, in the late 70's (possibly earlier, but that's when I first encountered it) there was a "daemon" running around on Multics systems. Briefly, if you became it's lucky victim, it would take over your console and type up

I wanna cookie

on your screen (yes, we did have VDUs back then). Typing "cookie" would get it to go away for a while. Telling it to 'koff would get your session terminated (logged out). From what I recall it was written in PL/1 and was only a couple of pages of lineprinter paper.

Oh and BTW:

> the industry has yet to come up with a secure operating system.

It's not just the O/S that needs to be secure (and there are secure ones around), but the way it's used needs to be secure, too. That's the real problem

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Frack me! UK shale gas bonanza 'bigger than North Sea oil'

Pete 2
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Re: Get it right next time

Putting aside the possibility that fracking will cause massive earth tremors that will destroy all our homes, infrastructure and civilisation

Hysterical much? Satirical mucher.

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Pete 2
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Get it right next time

Putting aside the possibility that fracking will cause massive earth tremors that will destroy all our homes, infrastructure and civilisation, and focussing on the positives for a second.

One of the side-effects of all the North Sea oil and gas was that the UK basically held a party for itself, with several years of lowered taxes to win elections coupled with lots of spending of the oil revenues on popular programmes. All this was essentially "free" to the taxpayer as the oil companies paid huge amounts for the privilege of sucking oil and gas out of the sea bed.

Now this time it would be nice, assuming the windfall is repeated, if some of those revenues were INVESTED in our future, instead. So how about spending the money on improving transport, making teaching attractive to the talented (instead of just the enthusiastic), becoming a world leader in something other than complaining about the weather and maybe, just maybe building up our manufacturing base, so that this "bonanza" leaves something tangible as it's legacy - apart from millions of falling-down houses.

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Shiny new UK.gov stats website a 'disaster' - MPs

Pete 2
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A success by any other name

> no way of getting an answer to that question if you are a lay person

So, at least it's met one of it's core criteria.

Afterthought: it appears the article was written with the same intent as the website in its subject: nowhere is there any mention of the URL, just references to "the site". Maybe the second of the core criteria is to make no reference to the site's address, thus preventing people from accessing it, so it can be closed down in the future due to "lack of public interest"

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In a mobile data eating contest, Brits would win - Ofcom

Pete 2
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Remarkabubble

> online consumption on the move needs plenty of mobile broadband ... Blighty is still the cheapest

People buy more stuff when it's cheap.

The reason mobile comms is so cheap in the UK is because we're all squeezed in so tightly together. Telcos have no need to spend oodles running a cable dozens of km (or erecting a tower) just to service a few households. Instead that same few km's of cable (or tower) can service hundreds or thousands of subscribers.

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It pays to study the habits of your email users

Pete 2
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filers, pilers and mass-deleters

An alternative strategy is to delete all outstanding mail at the end of each day / week / month - declare email bankruptcy.

Obviously it makes sense to have filing rules that drop email from your boss (and his/her/its boss) in some other space. However for the rest of the stuff, once another rule has scanned for keywords (like "beer", a sort of reverse SPAM filter) and acted appropriately, there's little value to keeping most of the stuff you get sent. If it is important, the sender will send it again and if it's REALLY important they may even lift a podgy finger and phone you.

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MPs: 'Chilling' new libel law will CENSOR THE TRUTH online

Pete 2
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One tiny little country

> take down defamatory material on request

That may work for *.co.uk but if the material "gets out" into the world it'll be beyond the reach of UK law - whether it's defamatory, true, provable or erroneous. Just like it is now.

Probably the only websites that would be affected by those are online newspapers and other commercial publications. However, since one of the biggest (and probably a lot more, besides) have a long and inauspicious history of publishing downright lies about people: who's only cause of action is to bankrupt themselves with civil action, having a way to bring them to book will be a great leveller.

It will be interesting to see if this law could be extended to getting photographs removed. If one could argue that a particular snap wasn't sufficiently flattering, had been photoshopped, or just presented anyone in it in a bad light - could they demand that photo be removed too? Here's hoping we can bring about the death of paparazzi-ism.

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Revealed: The Brit-built GRAVITY-powered light that costs $5

Pete 2
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Oh Great!

> An ingenious gravity-powered light source

Now we're going to start using up all the gravity. At least with oil, when it runs out, we don't all float off into spaaaaaace.

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Silicon Roundabout £50m THING to spew 200 startups A YEAR

Pete 2
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The beginning of the end

Silicon Roundabout got going without any of these initiatives, sponsorships or political interference (some might argue, that's WHY it succeeded). To now have the government pitching in and hijacking the concept for it's own political ends is much more likely to bring about the demise of the area, rather than to help it.

There are only so may people with an entrepreneurial spirit - you can't make more of them just by flinging money or mentoring around. The best thing any government could do to help small businesses to start, grow and flourish is to reduce the regulatory overheads and keep the hell out of the way.

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This is out of hand now: Apple attempts to trademark the LEAF

Pete 2
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Next step: sue God?

There are more apple leaves in nature than there are in Apple's marketing department. Presumably this application is simply to open the way for more litigation against whatever divine being was arrogant enough to "copy" Apple's design - though in real life, apple-tree leaves don't look much like the logo.

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The best tablets for Christmas

Pete 2
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Re: Photoshop fail

I think the hand is on an ipad mini.

Though you're right: it does illustrate just how tiny the display is. Can you really do anything useful, apart from merely consume content, on such a small screen?

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Pete 2
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Re: What about the no-names?

> If there are any good ones, I wouldn't mind knowing about them

Exactly.

Take for example the newly released Onda V972 (catchy name!) 9.7 IPS, 2GB, quad core processor (and 8 core GPU). Up for grabs at $240 - but is it any good?

It sounds great on paper, but until someone puts it head-to-head with some better known tablets, in real-life situations, it could easily be a couple of hundred quid wasted.

This is what we need to know.

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Pete 2
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What about the no-names?

Having a drool over all the tablets that your mum could pick up with the weekly shopping is all very well. However we're supposed to be TECHIES here and therefore aware of (if not altogether happy with) lots of suppliers who's wares don't appear on the high street.

So how about a comparable look at the generic tablets available with odd-sounding names on the back that don't get much press (because they don't take out full-pages ads?) but could give the highly promoted offerings a run for their money.

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Google defames Reg columnist Verity Stob

Pete 2
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Time to google myself (again)

I am pleased to report that none of the Google images for "Pete 2" are me.

Though I do like one of the Pete2b.jpg shots.

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Will Westerners soon be getting their IT direct from Asian players?

Pete 2
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Career advice for western IT workers ...

Learn chinese. Then learn whichever IT skills are in short supply in the CST timezone (China Standard Time) . Then find a low cost place to live. Then brace yourself while the job offers come flooding in -but not in english.

For a short time the novelty of employing a native english speaker should get you a position. But after that, you'll need to have embraced the culture and be able to demonstrate a string of successful projects.

Oh and don't go flashing your iPhone during the interview.

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Explosion of DANGEROUS IT GEAR injures and CRIPPLES MEDICS

Pete 2
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Too much golf?

So why to medics have more problems than IT professionals?

It can't be due to the amount of time spent in front of a work 'puter - my local surgery only offers appointments for 3½ hours in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, with a 2½ hour break for lunch. And none of the GPs work all those shifts (and none of them work at all at weekends).

Now, it's true that their offices are dingy little rooms with trailing cables and childrens' toys scattered around (is this how they drum up business? by booby-trapping their own work spaces. H&S would have a fit, as would any IT unionised company) and poorly sited desks - but that's no worse than a lot of the IT shops I've seen.

Maybe the clue is in the "tennis elbow" remark? I may be tarring every IT worker with the same brush, but it does seem to me that in general IT people are less likely to spend time taking exercise than your average doctor. Apart from the fitness aspect, we just don't get such cushy shift opportunities with long breaks that need filling.

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2012: an epoch-defining year for home entertainment

Pete 2
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Re: For the average Brit? Not so much

> I want to buy a YouView(HD)/PVR/DVD-RW/BD-RW/WiFi/DNLA combo box, but can't tick the YouView box on that list yet.

Wot? not even a freshly hacked Dream <ahem> Openbox or Humax?

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Pete 2
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For the average Brit? Not so much

As far as home-ents hype goes, yup lots of talk. However in terms of actual stuff that ordinary people have and use: very little changed.

Probably the biggest event of the year was the turning-off of analog TV, although that was more of a ceremony than a world-shattering paradigm change.

As for 2013? I fully expect nothing much. Radio will go on as before. The internet will have slightly less SPAM and slightly more advertisements. TV will continue on its downward spiral of more repeats and fewer worthwhile programmes (although it's a racing certainty that reality TV will increase, like an annoying rash). There will be a few good films amongst the dross and possibly the same can be said for gaming, too.

I might buy a tablet.

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Internet shut-down easier, in more countries, than you think

Pete 2
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Pulling the wrong thing

It all depends what the "puller"'s motivation is.

Given that a country (and here I mean specifically a western democracy or the UK) would feel the need to deny its citizens access to news and information to/from abroad, what would they have to do to achieve that?

The first thing would be to switch off the landline & mobile phone networks. I doubt that would be too difficult and wouldn't even need the use of (much) force - just a quiet word and a soft <click> in the right ears would be enough.

To do the same to the internet wouldn't be much harder. Forget all the stuff about routing and IP and resilience, the simplest way is to attack the physical layer. Half an hour's work with some cable cutters (remember: to get to this point, we're already well past the suspension of democracy and looking Martial Law in the eye) would do the trick.

All that would leave would be a few hardy souls with direct satellite feeds. Since you'd have to be desperate, cut off and completely isolated to even contemplate the cost/slowness and inconveinece of satellite internet, those few individuals probably have little idea of what's going on, anyway.

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Hero Playmonaut lost at sea as SPEARS ditches in Channel

Pete 2
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But did it fire?

> test the Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board at altitude - specifically to see if it would fire the igniter

Was there any telemetry to say whether the firing took place - or will this need another test flight?

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Children increasingly named after Apple products

Pete 2
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A boy named Sue

Given how litigious Apple are, "sue" would be a good choice. Although it's not a product, it can't be long before Apple patents a method for extracting obscene amounts of money from unsuspecting competitors for very little effort and zero original work.

Shortly after, they'll be sending nasty letters to Johnny Cash's executors asking for retrospective everything.

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Home Sec: Let us have Snoop Charter or PEOPLE WILL DIE

Pete 2
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Creep

> serious crime, terrorism and child sex offences

All very laudable ... except we know from past experience of "anti-terrorism" laws that they get perverted, converted and subverted into general-purpose anti-anyone-we-don't-like laws. You can't pass a law to say "this will only be used against people we suspect of .... ", once a law is on the books, it becomes just another tool to be abused: like the chisel that gets used as a screwdriver - it wasn't designed for that, but that's what it gets used for if it's convenient.

So the scope of laws creep out from the well-intentioned uses they were first written for and become just another weight hanging around the neck of our freedoms. Great idea in theory - terrible implementation in practice.

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Clap Google, Amazon in irons to end tax shenanigans - MPs

Pete 2
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Re: @Pete 2

> *unintended* consequences ?

Yes. ISTM the government "plan" is that every company (not just Starbucks, but that's as good an example as any other) should pay HMRC more tax, but that the tax should come out of their "profits". The govt. then trousers the cash and spends it as a windfall on some schemes that weren't in their manifesto and that nobody voted for.

What I expect to happen is that all these companies will class the extra UK tax bill as a local cost of business expense and recoup that cost through increased prices. I further expect that they will use this as an opportunity to get some good PR - as being "ethical" businesses :). I would also expect that, far from just increasing their prices by the few pennies needed to cover the cost, they'll round them up and hide a price rise in the general increase. They may even have the balls to blame the increase on rising commodity prices.

After that, I would expect all the other businesses in the same sectors to make comparable price increases, even though their costs weren't affected. After all, if the dominant player in a market ups their prices, that's a good excuse for everyone else to do the same.

So what we're left with is higher prices to consumers, increased tax take to the government, a little extra profit to the newly "ethical" tax-paying companies and a larger one for all the others. In due course, those prices rises will feed through to increased inflation, slightly higher interest rates and a small, probably imperceptible rise in unemployment. Those would be the unintended consequences.

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Pete 2
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Where do the politicos think this "extra" tax will come from?

In the end, any higher cost of business will be passed on to the customers (hint: in the country where costs have risen).

So ultimately any additional tax that these companies volunteer, for PR reasons, will simply be passed on to the consumer. What will happen then is the fiscal equivalent of a rising tide lifts all boats". Since these are the DOMINANT players in their market segment, when they increase their prices all the other retailers will follow suit. So not only will a Starbucks coffee go up in price, since they set the benchmark, but every other outfit will follow. Add in the chance of an opportunistic (non-tax related) price rise hidden in there too, and all that's happened is that consumers will be paying extra for these companies to pass on a portion of the price hike to the government.

Net result: we all pay a little more tax. The "good" companies get to increase their prices/profits and inflation eases up a notch. Here come the unintended consequences.

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Google buys parcel storage service for Christmas

Pete 2
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Too much to hope for

> goods they've ordered online to be shipped to one of its pick-up stations.

> Amazon already has a similar service

Why not just deliver stuff when people are at home?

If all the delivery vans are standing idle after five-thirty and all weekend, too (as all the couriers are organised around business hours, not real people's hours) wouldn't it just be sensible to let delivery people have the chance to earn some overtime, or take a second job by offering EVENING DELIVERIES, rather than create and operate an entirely new, and inconvenient, service.

No need for innovation. Just use the existing infrastructure for longer hours.

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LOHAN's mighty orb launch live NOW

Pete 2
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I was particularly impressed by the video feed from the chase car.

Since there's no sound on the broadcast, next time there should be someone with a small whiteboard and marker to write commentaries for the camera as the day progresses.

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El Reg Movember lads sprout mighty Unix beards for cancer charity

Pete 2
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A different sort of IT support

> not just through the curly braces ...

Maybe for December, those of us who owe our living to the "curly braces" brigade should eschew the belts to our trousers and wear some "curly" braces instead?

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Four key mistakes to avoid when building your hybrid cloud

Pete 2
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The LAST big mistake of cloud computing

... is to NOT have an exit strategy.

Cloud computing is just another fad, It won't last forever - and it's highly likely that one (or more) cloud offerings will go belly up, have major infrastructure problems, get hacked to a crisp or simply get bought up by the next evil empire who will realise that all their customers are locked in and will squeeze them till the pips squeak.

So, on the basis that at some point in the next 10 years, a lot of outfits that are currently rushing headlong ito cloud services will want out, and want out FAST, it's important that these organisations have a way of pulling out - and that they don't wait until it's too late, but design and negotiate a solution to let them say "goodbye" with the least pain, downtime and cost.

However, this does seem to be a factor that is entirely missing from most company's IT strategy, or long term planning, I can only assume that any exit strategy that IS being planned is the exit of the decision-makers who committed all their IT to a single basket - and then ran for the door, leaving someone else to pick up the mess.

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Spaniards Joyn together to hunt and kill the Skype monster

Pete 2
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¿Cuánto?

With the recession ravaged spanish economy, this whole initiative will depend on price, Given that data services in Spain are still killingly expensive (8 EUR buys you 500MB/month on Yoigo) this service sounds like a way to INCREASE telco income, rather that compete with Skype.

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Raspberry Pi daddy: Stroke your hardware at night, land a job easy

Pete 2
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Re: Agencies - or grep

> However, replacing them with shell scripts means the company spends less money, and makes more profit, and pays more to shareholders, perhaps outside the UK. So the overall benefit to the UK economy is reduced by the income tax of one less recruiting agent

Maybe, but there's a huge benefit to the country as a whole of having the right staff doing the right job AND of getting vacancies filled speedily and reliably, with less time wasted interviewing candidates who's only talent is keyword stuffing. Those pluses more than compensate for having to pay dole to a bunch of otherwise unemployable individuals propping up an industry that really has no reason to exist.

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Pete 2
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If all else fails, there's always computing

Even before the term "IT" was coined there were non CompSci graduates taking "IT" jobs.

In two places I worked there were programmers who told the same story. They'd graduated with degrees in subjects like History, Classics and Englsh. Unsurprisingly, apart from the traditional route of teaching more students to get degrees in History, Classics and English, there weren't many career openings for these people. As a consequence, when they bemoaned their lot to their ex-tutors, careers advice offices, anyone who'd listen (or couldn't get out of the corner they'd been skilfully boxed into) they were given the same advice: computing or sales.Some went into one, and some into t'other - and some of those later swapped the shiny suit for the scruffy jeans.

The moral being: the IT world wasn't too picky about your technical skills - just so long as you could demonstrate sufficient intelligence to learn BASIC, or technical writing, or how to follow a test plan. Some of those arts graduates made a success of their computing careers and the rest became IT managers.

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Half of us have old phones STUFFED in our drawers

Pete 2
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Love a granny

> Those with children can pass them on generationally

Good luck with that. You'd have more chance of a child accepting your old clothes (sometimes they come back into fashion) than your old phone.

However old phones, the simple: press buttons, talk to people types, are ideal for the grannies of this world. They have fewer functions and longer standby times (assuming the battery isn't completely knackered) which is appealing. They also tend to have larger buttons, which for those with failing sight or arthritic fingers is also helpful.

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Antarctic discovery: ALIEN LIFE may be FOUND ON MOON of Jupiter

Pete 2
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Reveals our purpose on the planet

> noxious ammonia, nitrogen, sulphur and supersaturated nitrous oxide.

So all the stuff we pump out as pollution is actually scrummy, yummy FOOD to these guys. It could turn out that the sole reason humanity exists is to prepare the way for the next wave of evolution.

Turn them coal-fired power stations up to 11 and lose the scrubbers!

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Bash Street bytes: Do UK schools really need the Raspberry Pi?

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Yes of course.

Coders (or any other worker) will never be able to match the low costs, low overheads and low wages in other countries.

Why? for a start, people in Britian believe in the "because you're worth it" mentality. They feel they have a "right" to a high standard of living: TVs, cars, heating, food, etc, whereas workers in many countries would only aspire to one or two of those pricey goals. On top of that, being an island and an overcrowded one AND one with strict green-belt / planing regulations, there will always be a scarcity of housing. That makes having a roof over your head a costly proposition simply due to supply (small) and demand (high, and growing). So people need to earn a lot just to live - even before they go for the luxuries: holidays, children and a takeaway pizza every night.

Even if we suddenly had a million new coders injected into the workforce there would be no uptake of this army of programmers, they'd simply be too expensive to employ.

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Man facing rare refusal-to-unlock-encryption charge: Court date set

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Very interesting case ....

> So *any* assemblage of random bytes can be assumed to be encrypted ?

That does seem to be the unqualified opinion.

The thing is, yer avrige copper assumes that any collection of random bytes )must_ be an encrypted file (probably because their forensic software tells them so, not due to any actual knowledge they possess). Further, they'll assume that you'd only encrypt something you wanted to hide, ergo that must be illegal, immoral or fattening.

What if every geek in the country spent a couple of minutes being subversive? If everyone sacrificed a partition of a few GB and went on record (e.g. with a youtube video) as dd'ing the contents of /dev/random into it? Once there was "proof" that blocks of random data were commonplace on peoples' disk, the suppository that it must be encrypted and it must be illegal fails.

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Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Making a stand.... or just thick ? password? what password?

>> shouldn't they first be required to produce evidence that there is, in fact, something there to decrypt?

>They should be. They aren't.

>A Section 49 notice only requires belief "on reasonable grounds" that there is an encrypted data block. And it doesn't need to be Plod issuing the notice - it can be anyone in Schedule 2.

Which is worrying in itself. Usually it's not the responsibility of the accused to prove that a crime has been committed. The police are the ones who have to produce (or at least suspect) that a law has been broken. Once they've done that, they proceed to collect evidence and if there's enough, the CPS will make a decision to prosecute. I suppose it could be argued that providing a password is part of the interrogation process and just like perverting the course of justice, lying about not knowing a password (or having forgotten it) is a bit naughty. But to be required to provide a password when there's no proof that one even exists sounds like a policeman requiring ordinary citizens to 'fess up to any crimes they may (and the presumption being that they did) have committed at any point in the past - even if there's no proof that the person has committed any.

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Amazon's secret UK sales figures revealed by Parliamentary probe

Pete 2
Silver badge

Time to bring back the Hansard Principle?

There used to be a way for people or companies who'd goofed up their tax declarations (either by accident or design) to come clean, negotiate a "fine" with the Revenue and get on with their lives. This was helpful to both sides as it produced a quick result AND it returned unpaid taxes to the exchequer.

It was canned in 1993 and since then the only recourse the Revenue has is a full-blown and antagonistic, investigation of all the person's (or company's) doings. This takes a lot longer and drags in lots of expensive consultants & lawyers on both sides - as well as the glare of publicity and the hypocritical tutting from some members of the public who want BOTH high tax takes (so long as it's not from themselves) and low retail prices. With all this current furore about unpaid taxes, it may be time to conclude that too much transparency doesn't really work in the public interest, and to allow some "behind closed doors"" deals to be done, again. With the obvious proviso that "we'll be watching you".

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