2286 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Consumers have an easy way to spot liars
It's not hard for someone to tell if a cold-calling telesales person is lying. Just as soon as they say
"Hello Zir, my name is ........ William" you know you're on a loser. If the very first sentence out of their mouths is such an obvious untruth, what's the point in believing, or even listening to, anything else they say after that?
A good place to sue
if you want to sue for libel (written defamation) come to the UK. While the government here is busy outsourcing a lot of law enforcement to the USA (just ask, we'll deport anyone you wish for), London has become the de-facto favoured location for a good bit of sue-age.
I suppose it all goes back to the days of honour (long gone) when impugning the good name of a "gentleman" was the ultimate crime - much worse than killing or stealing from an ordinary person. These days we have some of the most punitive judgements in the world for the heinous crime of suggesting a rich celebrity is in any way less than perfect. Providing of course, you can afford the crippling costs of a legal team.
So now that an american hotel chain has failed in it's bid to convince a Tennessee judge (Tennessee? really?) of their case, can we see them going for "double or quits" on this side of the pond?
Step 1: no bacon
Forget rashers: too thin.
Instead take a bacon steak (essentially a thick chunk of best back, sans the fatty bits) and grill until thoroughly cooked, but not crispy. While the grill's still on, lightly toast 2 slices of hand-cut to your preferred thickness, white farmhouse bread.
While the bread's toasting, slice the bacon steak into 2 or, if you're a budding surgeon: 3, slices. Placing lovingly on one of the now toasted slices and add tomato relish (the red stuff with "bits" in) to cover. Depending on size of mouth, cut sarnie into pieces but be warned: this makes it an easy target for partners to say "wotcha got there, gizzus a bit".
Bite, crunch, enjoy. Repeat
Nothing inspires like cold, hard cash
> s our generation has pretty much done FA to inspire kids towards STEM (no concorde 2, no walking on Mars, no moonbase etc)
Most children want to be a fireman, train driver, a ballet dancer or pop star. Though when they grow up they almost certainly won't be. The point is not to inspire someone when they're 6 years old, but to give them opportunities, a scientific education and a well defined career path. That's what will get the practically minded kids studying the "right" subjects at university, not a song that was played to them 10 or 15 years before they left school.
So if you want a new generation of programmers, bio-technologists, DNA hackers or nuclear physicists, forget about "catching them while they're young". Instead make sure there are jobs available that will use their expertise when they graduate.
has all the best iTunes
Standards and Prior Art
We are told that the jury in this case effectively ignored the issue of prior-art, leaving Apple open to claim that they "invented" the concept of rounded corners, among other things. A claim that is clearly ridiculous and just by itself throws the whole system into disrepute.
The other point that is bad about software patents in general is that they act against standardisation. if every single manufacturer or software designed has to start every design from scratch, for fear that someone somewhere has patented the "for" loop, it means that users will have to learn a completely new set of operations for every product they buy. Whereas what users want is standard operations that work across the range of products from different suppliers. I don't want to have to learn a whole new set of pressy-swipey movements every time I decide to get a different tablet or Pc or phone - and I don't appreciate the extra difficulties that these software patents add to learning a new device. Imagine if every car had a different configuration of pedals and levers because someone had patented the steering wheel?
> do these WMD's have an operational time of 45 mins?
Yes, but you have to allow up to 10 working days for delivery
Re: 21st century warfare
> buying a country doesn't work.
The Americans bought (what is now) 6 whole states from the French in the 1800's. They also bought Alaska from the Russians some 60 years later. Just apply the right pressure, or wait for an opportune moment and it's a policy that seems to work - at least for one party in the deal.
21st century warfare
The chinese don't need missiles or nukes to bring the US or any other country to its knees. They just need to stop selling them stuff (or ask for the trillions of $$$s of debt they hold to be repaid). This is nothing new, we learned this lesson during the oil crashes of the 1970s.
The "old fashioned" way to take over a country was by force of arms: invade, bomb the crap out of it, enforce a blockade. All very bloody and very messy. These days, to occupy a country, all you need to do is buy it up, piece by piece.
The joys of capitalism
This sounds like one of those "only in america" stories. People are free to buy whatever they please and to take advantage of competition between vendors to get the best deal, as there is supposedly a free market. However, the flip-side is that companies are equally allowed to charge whatever the market will bear (provided they don't collude with each other).
The problem with capitalism is that people can't pick and choose which bits of the principle they would like - as the bits consumers don't want are exactly what attracts the vendors into the game. After all, isn't that what makes america grate?
One man's ceiling
> Citi should be entitled to recover all of its losses attributable to Nasdaq's gross negligence
It's often said that every share transaction has a winner and a loser. Either the buyer paid too much, or the seller let it go too cheaply - there's no such thing as a "fair" trade. So on that premise, if Ctitgroup made a loss, it's reasonable to conclude that someone else gained from those faulty transactions.
Presumably NASDAQ is in a position to know who the other parties were in all the trades that Citigroup is wailing about. If they are therefore required to compensate Citigroup for their losses, shouldn't they have an equal case to recoup those "mistaken" profits from the other side?
Alternatively, if Citigroup feel so hard done by, by a few random glitches that could equally have worked in their favour, it may be that they're simply not cut out for the hurly-burly of the stock market.
The biggest roadblock to widespread adoption of nuclear power is its bad press. We all know that when a PR nightmare takes place, the first step to rehabilitating the person / place / thing / company is to change its name (even if you change nothing else). Whether the people are so dim that they never make the association between the old and the new - or if it's just the press that is incapable of making the link is immaterial, it's a technique that works well and has been tested on many occasion.
However, if you want to go one step further, you can tell people that the NEW bears absolutely no relation to the OLD - and in the case of using radioactivity to power our world, that can even be true (well, as close as anything to do with atomic / nuclear P.R. is ever true).
So enter Thorium reactors. No nasty Plutonium, or icky Uranium. No bombs or past history of mistakes, leaks, failures or radiation scares. The reactors are inherently safer (though I'm sure some enterprising idiot will find a way to screw them up) and pretty much fail-safe.They can be scaled up or down, depending on local requirements for generating capacity and convenience. And they can't be used to make fission weapons - which is probably why they haven't been popularised, even though the technology has been around for yonks.
The best thing the government can do
... is leave people alone.
Sure, there's a role to play in moderating individuals' behaviour where it affects other people and you can argue a good point that it should provide some sort of safety net for people who fall out of society.
However for everyone else, who makes a conscious decision to do (or not to do) something that doesn't impact on the wellbeing of others, they should just be allowed to get on with it. By all means educate people into the consequences of their actions (whether those actions are drinking, smoking, voting or anything else) but if people are to be trusted with the power to elect governments, the same principle should be applied to how they conduct their personal lives.
> ... consume huge amounts more energy.
There's only a limited amount of fossil fuels in the planet. There's only a fraction of that which is technologically or economically (at any cost) worth extracting. Once that's gone ... it's gone and the global warming phenomenon will start to reduce all by itself - probably, well maybe, at least there's a chance, you never know: it *could* happen.
How long it will take to spray gigatonnes of water into the atmosphere and keep it there in sufficient quantities to increase the planet's albedo is not reported, but if it's any more than (guess) 100 years it'll be too late as the wells will have run dry by then, anyway - though umbrella sales could increase enormously - if there's any spare energy to manufacture such luxuries.
So, fast forwarding to 2112, what will we see? Probably very little as either the planet will be engulfed in a permanent fog; or even less as the lights will all have gone out years ago. Maybe the best solution is to use these terra-(re)forming water-pistols, not to try and head off an impending disaster, but to periodically increase and then decrease the Earth's reflectivity. This won't help "cure" excess temperatures, but it might mean we can send an SOS in Morse code that will be picked up by planet hunters in another inhabited solar-system. At least we could serve as a warning to others.
What you do when the camera's on
> We are looking for natural pictures of real IT Services people – at work, ...
So that would be updating FB, keeping their Linkedin profile polished and pushing out their CVs, then?
What happened next
> The unprovoked attack was the first time any off-Earth object has been subjected to investigation by laser and unleased awesome forces on a rock named “Coronation”.
The footage that NASA have kept to themselves in that a few seconds after being lasered, the rock got up and ran away
Isn't it time we got weekend deliveries?
Someone needs to give the courier companies a dam' good kicking - out of the 1980's.
I appreciate that they originally ran their business on fast and reliable deliveries to and from businesses - and therefore based their operations on a 9-5 / Mon-Fri schedule.
However, everyone else in the country has moved on. Those are now exactly the LEAST CONVENIENT times possible to attempt to deliver stuff to a huge proportion of the population - not to mention the times when the roads are at their most congested. We know that everyone from ASDA to pizza joints can manage to deliver stuff at weekends and outside traditional office hours, so there's no reason why the "names" in courierdom couldn't, either.
Obviously they all have a nice little earner going here: Yes, ma'am ... you want it delivered on a saturday <sound of teeth being sucked> we'll have to charge you extra. Sunday? <boggle> oh no, we don't get out of bed on sundays". Even though there is a much larger labour force of competent, willing and honest deliverers available, a lot of whom would gladly take the opportunity to have a second job.
You never know, with just the tiniest bit of organisation, initiative and customer service awareness, your Amazon consignment could well turn up with your 10 inch thin-crust.
The high cost, low speed option
> I have a Dropbox icon on my iMac
... and looking at the prices they charge, a meagre 100GB will cost you $99 per year. In antediluvian terms (i.e. before the floods in Thailand) you're buying a 1TB drive every year and only using a tenth of it. But unless you have a screamingly fast internet connection you're getting "access times" of tens of millisends - and that's presuming that (so far) few other people on your branch of the internet are contending with you for a slice of that download bandwidth. It would be even worse if you and all the other dropboxers were trying to use the same few megahertz of wifi for added wireless cool. Just wait until every bod in your road tosses they hard drives and throws money at DropBox and friends. See who'll be racing back to local hardware then!
> being sued by four users that claim to be owed more than $460,000.
Do you thing they'd accept BTCs instead of dollars for the settlement payout?
Getting over the hump
I'd suggest that for those older individuals the reason for ignoring the internet has less to do with difficulty, access or cost, but more to do with lousy website design (the Disabilties Discrimination Act notwithstanding), the physical constraints of using a mouse with arthritic fingers and the poor interfaces for people who have never learned to type or who find it difficult.
After all, it's completely alien to a twenty-something webdesigner to appreciate that double-clicking can take several seconds, or that the wizzy piece of flashy (if not Flash) graphics they were so proud of is utterly irrelevant to someone with poor eyesight.
Also, you have to ask: what precisely, are the advantages of the internet to someone who doesn't surf for porn, who doesn't work in IT or who's friends don't spend all their waking hours tweeting about their last fart? Maybe the elderly aren't missing out so much as have an alternative lifestyle where the internet is just another channel on daytime TV?
So with these high and artificial barriers to adoption and little benefit from it's use, maybe it's not too surprising that a large number of people have neither reason nor incentive to get online. Did I just hear Martha Lane-Fox's head explode?
> With only one test craft remaining, ... whether or not to risk burning more expensive hardware
They've already built the craft, so there is no financial risk (except for the cost of the test flight). The question is whether they understand what went wrong on the previous 3, so that the information they've "bought" with those failures can be used to move closer to a successful trial.
What's the difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman?"
Ans; The car sales
manperson knows when they're lying.
The problem is that the minimum wage, "straight out of school and into a shiny suit" yoof that you find in phone shops¹ hasn't really got much of a clue. They'll say pretty much anything to (a) gain a sale and (b) maximise its value.
Going into a shop, or engaging with a tele-sales person to any greater level than "I want THAT ONE" will lead to disappointment and possibly bitter recriminations.
 and in most other sales emporiums where the products use electricity
What else gets you 4 years in chokey?
Well, killing someone does: Two teenagers who killed a man during a row over litter have each been sentenced to four years detention. (ref: BBC London news).
Now, arguably that's a light sentence for a 16 & a 17 y/o - though they'd expect to be out in 2 years with good behaviour. But it still bears comparison with running a dodgy website.
But leave port 80 open
Hands up if you're poikilothermic?
> A study on frogs - ...if the temperature changed unpredictably, which the researchers said could have a big impact on biodiversity and humans.
Last time I checked, my body was doing a pretty good job of regulating my body temperature - an advantage I share with all other warm-blooded animals. So to say that bad things happen to (cold-blooded) frogs when the temperature changes and then to say that this could be bad for people is one hell of a stretch. Climate change or no.
It's your money
> All big companies and rich people do this, they'll move heaven and Earth to avoid paying taxes.
> Because they're greedy. That simple.
Companies are not "greedy". They are inanimate entities with neither feelings or morals. The individuals who make the decisions regarding where to locate a company and how to arrange its tax affairs do so to maximise shareholder earnings.
So who are these shareholders, who benefit so greatly from tax avoidance? The quick and accurate answer, if you want to see one, is to look in the mirror. Yes! you and me. We contribute towards pension savings (itself a form of tax avoidance) that are paid to pension funds which invest OUR MONEY in .... you guessed it .... shares in large companies. The fund managers decide which companies to invest in by looking at company profits and earnings per share. So if you want all these large companies to "pay their fair share" of taxes, be prepared to lose a sizable chunk of your future pension payouts.
So when you remove all the "top 10" that contain a lawyer's favourite words and phrases (could, may, risk, might, possibly ... ) and then remove all the descriptions where no legal action has ever been brought, is there anything left?
As any right-thinking person knows, if you really, really feel an unstoppable urge to tweet something, just use a bit of common sense (yes, I realise the conflict between the "if" and the "just") and consider if you'd like someone to tweet that comment about you. Better yet, keep the thought to yourself.
suggest what would work better.
ISTM that torture has some unique advantages.
It's cheap, quick to administer, very personal and has a huge deterrent effect.
Plus, as a sideliine, you could always sell tickets to watch it.
The victim pays
The lovely thing about this is that the email recipients are council-tax payers in that area. So if the council is fined for this breach, the people who will have to foot the bill: either through increased CT to pay the fine directly, or through reduced services to make up the budget shortfall, will include the people who had their email addresses exposed.
There can't be many situations where the victim of incompetence is also the person who is punished for it, instead of the person who made the mistake. Isn't local government wonderful?
Cutting off internet services
There's also the human rights aspect regarding collective punishments.
An IP connection isn't associated with a single person. It serves a household. You can't therefore deny access to all the members of that family or house simply because of the alleged wrongdoings of a single individual. Further, in a shared environment, it's not at all clear which particular individual performed the offending action. Given that not all potential users are always present it's not even clear that you require other users to grass-up the offender as it's entirely possible that they weren't aware of who downloaded what, and when.
Laws create criminals
Yes, the correlation between the number of new laws a government enacts and the rise in "criminal activity" that follows cannot be lost on the french. Surely the best way to reduce crime is to stop making things illegal?
The answer is in the article
So in Oz, few women work in IT and the director of the ACSF reckons it's because they don't perfectly match the wish-list in the job ad.
However, the article then goes on to contradict this opinion by citing the "pitifully low enrolment rates" into australian IT courses and then the "horrifying drop-out rates for women in IT courses".
So it seems that while the hardy few who do apply and get through the course may be reluctant to apply for less than perfect jobs, the biggest failing is in getting sufficient numbers of women IT graduates, in the first place.
Maybe the guy should stop blaming the few women who "talk themselves out of applying for jobs” and instead fix whatever is broken in the education system that's an almost complete failure at attracting women into the relevant university courses and retaining their enthusiasm through those courses.
Re: Don't believe or deny. Just observe
Re: sunspot cycles
No. A cyclic event won't affect the long term data, as there will be as many "ups" as "downs". Now, the ups will contribute more record years - but a hot year during a cycle max. won't necessarily be any hotter than one during the previous or subsequent maxima - so their effect will be less significant. Also the cycle minima will nullify the effect (on your assumption that sunspot cycles affect global temperature) that some, randomly "record" years won't happen. The overall effect, therefore, of a cyclic phenomenon will be zero.
Don't believe or deny. Just observe
There's an easy way to tell IF your climate is changing - though it provides no information about WHY.
Consider the meteorological record. Let's assume that it's been measuring things like temerpature and rainfall for 100 year.
In year #1 there was no previous highs or lows.
In year #2 the odds of an average being the highest (or lowest) on record was ½ there being only 2 values.
In year #3 the odds of that year being the highest or lowest for a given attribute are 1/3rd
and so on.
So in the 101'th year, what are the odds - assuming purely random changes in temperature, rainfall or whatever else you're measuring being the highest on record?
Now, consider Harmonic series. How many "record years" would you expect in (say) temperature readings if there was no underlying trend and each year's data was independent of all previous years? The answer is 1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 ... + 1/N, which for a 100 year stretch would mean you'd expect 5 or 6 record years.
Now, check out how many "record years" there have been, where you live, in the past century. If the number is greater than 5 or 6, something's causing a temperature rise. if less, then there's cooling taking place. The underlying causes are not revealed, just the result.
P.S. This is my distortion of a piece from the book 100 Essential Things you didn't know you didn't know"
1 completed, one to go
So the Daily Wail has done a U turn. if we can get them to do a second U turn, they'll have gone round: full circle. With any luck they'll then disappear up their own fundamental orifice and never be heard from again.
Local councils helping people? Odd ... one of the perks of working for a council is that you get to make life hell for ordinary people. Then I read that they laid off 150 employees last year, so maybe this scheme is meant to redress the (self-inflicted) balance somewhat. Although a council with a conscience is rarer than a council with a "help the public" ethic, so that can't be right.
I wionder how many physicists ignored the email?
Just imagine. You get an email from <somewhere>.ru with a title Congratulations: You have won $3 Million. How many people would read that?
Maybe it's time to start paying a little more attention to my spam folder
and it STILL sounds like an absolute bargain
So even if we take the lowest figure cited, that coughing £28Bn will "only" increase GDP by 0.1%, where does that leave us?
Well the UK's GDP stands at about 1.5 TRILLION pounds, so one-tenth of a percent comes to £1.5Bn. But that's not a one-off increase - it's every year. So the country would be "investing" £28Bn and getting an annual return of £1.5Bn - just over 5% - less than it would cost us to borrow that amount. In addition, £28Bn would add somewhere in the region of a quarter of a million job*years of employment, assuming whoever got the contract was able to take registered unemployed people, rather than bring in immigrant workers, thus reducing benefits costs, too. Finally, most of those billions would be spent in the UK - not spent on buying imports, so it is essentially money going round in a circle. The people who earn a salary from being employed on pushing out BB, will pay taxes and buy stuff with their pay, so a large proportion of it will either go back to the exchequer or will boost consumption for other goods - a small fraction of which might even be british-made.
I blame "consolidation"
It's the easiest way to cut costs - i.e. staff numbers.
Instead of having 20,000 servers, each one doing it's own specialised task in it's own customised environment, why not axe a ton of the hardware and run all the mess on one single box o' tricks - maybe even virtualise it all, for added points in the buzzword bingo stakes. Even better, spin the consolidation as being "green" by persuading the gullible and terminally trendy types that we're really saving all those gigawatt*hours because we care about the planet - not for all the money it saves.
However, it does mean that you can end up with 20,000 servers all being dependent on a single DNS box, or that one honkin' great hub is responsible for *all* your enterprise's core traffic. Even if you've built a resilient or redundant system who's ever had the balls to press the big red button to see if it does actually fail-over?
So instead of an insignificant bugette or hardware failure just knocking a small part of your biz offline until the on-call engineer puts down his/her sandwich and shuffles over to press "reset" a whole long line of tits go up and suddenly all the lights go dark - and a funny smell seeps through the IT centre.
So what sounded like a good idea to the accountants who run the corporation, turns into a tangle of interdependencies and unknown unknowns that makes the Butterfly Effect look like a piece of string connected directly to a lever (with a sign saying Do not pull on it). It's not surprising that these systems fail. It is surprising that anyone ever manages to get them running again - though maybe the next major crash won't leave us surprised, at all.
I doubt it would matter. Does anyone know how a Martian would say "I don't care who you are, get your buggy off my roof"
... and we can be safe in the knowledge that all police forces will act with equal vigour and speed - whether the target is an Olympic Games contestant, or not.
(and that rumbling sound you just heard was a squadron of pigs getting ready for takeoff)
At that size ...
... it might even be worth getting a tablet. I wonder if they'd do a version with a proper fold-out keyboard and Windows - that would be the ultimate.
> Not entirely sure how you plan to "fix" 100m sprints for example
One way would be to mandate that the participants only consume the products of the sponsors for a month before their event.
Technological swings and roundabouts
So there have been cases in the past where a lack of technology has shown the wrong person to be the winner. Compare that with modern developments, not just in swimming but pretty much everywhere, where one athlete's technology (or spending power for the best equipment, training, facilities or support staff) confers an advantage over less fortunate co-competitors.
We've got to the point in most sports where the winner is not really the best athlete, but the one most able to apply assists, coaching, medical help or even just have the luxury to train 24*7. Is it really "sport" any more, or merely the application of money that makes winners?
No prizes for second best
> Baumgartner took the second-highest free-fall crown
Maybe that qualifies me for the 5-billionth "crown"?
Anyway, it's only the last few millimetres that matter
Doesn't even make the top 10
> computer attack is the most significant threat we face as a society, ...
So the guy contradicts himself in the very next breath (way to go, speech-writers). However, he's still wrong.
In no particular order, the threats I feel are most likely to have the greatest impact on ME, would be:
- economic downturn (again!)
- violent crime
- property crime
- traffic accident
- ill health
- civil unrest
- energy prices (electricity, gas, petrol)
- bad weather
- social intolerance
and add on his particular paranoia: WMDs (surely an exclusively american fear? Bizarre, since they have most of them) and people messin' with computers doesn't even feature. Obviously the guy is telling his audience what they want to hear. By appealing to their vanity, he's obviously hoping to puff-up their own self importance (as if it needs any more bolstering), but his words appear trite and self-serving. He seems also to miss the point that to 95% of the world, the USA is a foreign intelligence agency - maybe there's a kernel of truth in his keynote, after all.
> I mentioned that they only have to last for their lifetime. They were perplexed as to why I wouldn't want them to last say 200 years+.
People's desire for "200+" year life expectancy for a CD/DVD isn't unreasonable when you peel back the statistical curtain. Saying that they only have to "last your lifetime" makes it sound as id a disc with, for example, a 40 year life that's manufactured on Dec 31 1990 will do a Mission Impossible as soon as the clock strikes happy new year in 2030. It won't.
The notional life of a disk means that after that many years, a certain percentage of media will have failed. So if you had 100 discs, you will be unable to read a proportion of them. The longer the stated life, the fewer will be unreadable after a fixed amount of time - provided they are stored properly.
So all your perplexed buddies are really asking for is as small a number of failed discs as possible, not an actual lifespan measured in centuries. The obvious practical solution is to have 1 copy (plus the original) of each disc and to rewrite them at regular intervals. well within the advertised "lifespan" of the media.
Re: Archive problem
Actually, that's NOT what Matt Asay said, at all.
To paraphrase: "store pictures and anecdotes from the lives of my children." and "worry that all of my digital memories are going to be locked into a dead-end" and then "I don't want just my data, but also its presentation"
Which doesn't mandate "the web" at all. In fact, given his gloomy views on the permanence of anything web-based, it's worth considering that the web, itself, may not be permanent or exist long enough to be a viable option.
As a very general rule of thumb, the older a thing (technology, building, company but not person) is NOW, the longer it's likely to survive in the future. On that basis, stick to old technologies: cave painting, clay tablets or maybe just paper.
You should not rely on any online service to either warehouse your "memories", or keep them away from unwanted eyes. They're offering a free service and you get what you pay for.
So far as formats go, anything you decide to archive off, and store in a box in the loft today will be the equivalent of being written in "olde english" in 25 years time - if there's even any reliable hardware to access your chosen storage method. So the only viable solution is to keep the stuff you value, yourself. Hold the original source on your primary computer (and on a second computer 'natch) and occasionally add new copies in formats that seem likely to stick around for a reasonable length of time - lossless wherever possible.
While that might seem like an imposition, it'll help you decide what is REALLY worth keeping, and what turned out to be an impulsive decision to capture an obscure (and almost always) embarrassing moment for posterity. If you can't be arsed to keep your "precious" memories current, then they're probably not that precious after all.
A new excellence fad?
> the gallery has astroturf on the floor instead of carpet
Ahh, so if the OGs are successful can we expect the country's CIOs and IT manglers to replace all the datacentre carpets with plastic grass?
It's probably as likely to be effective as any of the other initiatives they've tried: (ISO9000, BS5750, ITIL etc.) and for exactly the same reasons - random chance.
p.s. Lucky they took their lead from the field events, not the aquatic ones!