2039 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
What's sauce for the goose
is sauce for the gander.
So presumably they won't mind if other world powers take the same attitude and do some militarised arse-kicking of american nationals in the USA who take part in cyber attacks on other countries?
Though historically, a lot of the "attacks on the US", have come from it's own citizens inside the country.
Occam's bolt cutters
All the victims in these thefts have a vested interest in making it appear that they were turned over by master criminals or specialists, as this (somehow) reduces the burden of blame on them for having lax security and no failover/backup system.
However, it's just as likely that the stuff was nicked by a casual thief with a hookey transit and a crow-bar, and the "swag" will end up on eBay or down the scrappy for the however-many pounds per ton that gash electronics fetches these days. Obviously that doesn't put the £billion telco in such a good light, when anyone can break into their critical network hubs and knock their services offline for a considerable period.
Presumably if this had happened during Obama's visit next week it would be counted as a terrorist atrocity, or the conspiracy nuts would be having a field day with it. Maybe they still will?
Who'd want ti steal it?
Well, it's got £1500's worth of battery in it - though you'd want a proper car to haul it away.
Batteries? That's probably the true cost, so not green at all
The battery life/cost of 32p/mile is reasonable. I'd guess it is a true-cost reflection of what a rechargeable actually costs, taking into account it's manufacture and disposal costs. I doubt that Renault make any monkey out of the battery rental side (and that it will only increase, over time).
The question that then arises is whether that makes battery operation any greener than petrol/diesel operation. On the presumption that petrol taxes already cover the CO2/carbon costs in $$$/ton - even though the government has chosen not to spend the revenue on carbon reduction - the answer would appear to be NO, since the electric operation costs are so much higher than petrol costs.
But what about the insurance?
It's all very well targeting the vehicle at "young city dwellers " (does that really mean gullible/inexperienced sorts, who are desperate for a cheap set o' wheels?) but if the insurance is going to add a few £k per year on top AND the extra spondulicks for the battery, then it's not looking all that cheap.
Plus, hasn't anyone in Renault heard of car crime (or rain, for that matter). Without any doors, they may as well put a STEAL ME sign on the back, so far as city life/parking is concerned. Though maybe it's lack of desirabiity is its main defence.
Clive Sinclair would be proud.
> SpaceX, founded in 2002, has made meteoric progress
Errr, don't meteors usually disintegrate and burn up spectacularly on their rapid, crashing DESCENT.
Not a metaphor you'd want associated with a fast rising company and deffo not one in the space industry.
When you've got it you're just itching to use it
> Maybe this should also be a lesson for the police to not get so worked up over something.
But, but, but ... they've got all this cop stuff. Dogs and helos and anti-terrrrist units and robots and sniffer-thingies and emergency units and training and ... and ... if they never get to use it WHAT'S THE POINT?
Which would you rather: spend all day trying to make writing that single-page report last until knocking-off time, or being able to pretend you were Bruce Willis and you were saving the world from Dick Dastardly? Being able to strut around and shout orders and impose the overwhelming might of your will on all the local squirrels and pigeons must be better fun than trying to think of another word for "suspect".
And as far as using common sense goes. Well yes, you or I might think that (and everybody else in the country too, for that matter) but really, we have no say whatsoever. From a cop perspective, would you prefer to not get yelled at by your boss for not following the rules to the letter or NOT inconvenience hundreds or thousands of inhabitants, who just want to get home/to work/away from the place? Since they are not answerable to any of us, ordinary people in any way shape or form there is little prospect (short of elected chef constables - you know: the police who wear big white hats) that they would ever feel the need to consider our comfort, convenience or expense - especially when there just might be a bit of excitement to be had.
The Jeremy Clarkson of t'web
While you can't fault MLF's zeal and enthusiasm, I can't help but wonder WHY she thinks everybody simply must use the internet - just as I can't fathom JC's petrol-headedness¹. Sure, the internet has it's uses, just as cars do. However that doesn't mean it's everyone's cup of tea and that non-users (whether through disadvantage, inertia or personal choice) should be thought of as somehow inferior, uninformed or mistaken - and therefore in need of her "miracle cure".
My old mum is a prime example. She's never used the internet (nor a computer since the 80's). Not because she's incapable, or simple, or poor, or unwilling to learn new things. All the "2" clan (and the "3" generation progeny) are fully up to speed on all things digital and she is fully aware of our online activities. She just chooses not to partake - just as she chooses not to drive, go mountain climbing, or exploring the culture of places further than her bus pass will take her.
In fact, I am quite glad that she has forsaken an online presence. She was brought up in a time where a stranger would be far more likely to hand you back a dropped wallet than mug you for it. When authority figures were trustworthy and upstanding and nobody troubled you (except for Reader's Digest) with exhortations to take up this special offer, this week only, save ££££'s. With that background she would be more likely than most (despite all the warnings from everyone she knows) to divulge card or personal details, to take pity on that poor nigerian who only wants to get away from the nastiness or to click on the link that is plainly from her bank.
I also take issue with MLFs assertion that cheap PCs will fix the problem. She's nursing a logical disconnect between not having a computer and not going online. What about the tenner a month ISP subs? Why not just encourage non-liners (oooh, have I just invented a neologism?) to use their local library's faciiites? If she thinks cost is a primary factor, rather than knowledge or desire, shouldn't she be more concerned with the ongoing costs, rather than the startup price? Especially if the deal with "Three" is typical of 3G internet cost-structures.
Personally, I'm planning to stick with my recommendations to MoM (My old Mum) to not invest in internet connectivity, unless SHE wants to. The few times she has needed or wanted to do "webby" things (such as claiming a fuel-surcharge refund from British Airways) Myself or another "2" or "3" relative has been quite happy to step in and press the relevant mouse buttons, just as we are to fix her leaky taps, change a smoke-alarm battery or other household chores.
Let's never forget that up until 15 years ago, most people led a perfectly fulfilled life without any home computers, mobile phones or internet access. It's really not that big a deal. No matter what the pundits would like us to believe.
 well I can, both he and she have made a great deal of money from their chosen zealotry. I just wish they'd turn down their messianic fervour, it's tiresome and no longer entertaining.
While waiting for the knock
I'd spend a bit of time checking YouTube, too
The lengths some people will go, to be disgusted
You'd almost think they enjoyed it.
Painters and decorators across the land know that Screwfix (amongst others) supply disposable coveralls in a nice, tasteful and clearly not-mistakable-for-being-naked white. Maybe it's time they introduced various skin-toned colours to the range?
Then all the Mr. or Mrs. Spriggs' of the country can don them for a wander around their garden, safe in the knowledge that when the cops come a'knockin' they have plausible deniability.
Surely the author has seen The Jetsons
> should Navy SEALs penetrate the defensive cordon
Just toss 'em a few fish. They'll soon stop trying to balance beach balls on their noses and waddle off to partake of your snack.
Wasteful use of Helium
He is a very rare gas - since it is only produced as a byproduct of radioactive/nuclear processes. As such, it's probably THE least renewable substances we know of - and far too useful and valuable to waste of merely ferrying american soldiers around.
Sound of explosions is a bit of a giveaway
Not much point having all that sound-deadening technology if you then alert the whole neighbourhood to your presence by blowing up one that doesn't work properly. (Wonders if the added tech might have been the -cause_ of the problems?)
And after that presumably there was a bunch of americans, who were on that chopper, trying to look inconspicuous at Islamabad airport, waiting for a commercial flight back to the USA while muttering bad things about unreliable aircraft and stoooopid technology that's more trouble than it's worth.
If it wasn't there originally ...
... it sure as hell will be after "they" have finished processing it.
I expect the merkins have a whole trove of intelligence that they can't attribute to anyone, without blowing their cover or causing even more political ructions, or even stuff they'd like to be true - if only it could be assigned to a credible (preferably dead, so they can't refute it) source.
What better than to "find" all this stuff on Osama's hard drive. It would effectively give them carte-blanche to carry out as many purges - wherever they please. All based on the transparently dodgy "it came from OBL computers, so it must be true". Don't be surprised if one of the first things to be "found" will be a list of credit card numbers/mobile phone numbers - that will belong to people the yanks don't like, but couldn't touch, before this.
I wonder if, in further efforts to smear him, they will "discover" material of dubious moral values too - or would that be over-egging it?
It's a miracle!
What with all the stuff recently about JP2 getting beatified (i.e. "promoted" in catholic-speak) I found out that you need 2 miracles to achieve sainthood. Personally I'd reckon that if someone at conference could manage to get the copyright holders of all this stuff to agree with their views, that would count as a pretty good miracle and (whoever the lucky person was) would only need one more - say getting Apple to open the iPhone hardware - to become a fully fledged saint. The world's first techno-saint. (Well, after they're dead that is - presumably providing tech support in heaven)
All that remains would be to decide how we should commemorate that particular saint's day?
Consigned to a footnote in IT history
Hands up: who remembers Icebergs? Storagetek's (at the time) rather amazing RAIDed, compressed data storage with a whopping 77GB native capacity - or 200GB for compressed data. it also had a sort of built-in data optimisation scheme, so you were never really sure where your data was. And no, it wasn't SSD it was a pile of itsy-bitys little disks with some proprietary smarts to talk to your mainframe.
The thing is, while it was super hot tech at the time, it solved a problem that was fleetingly temporary. Within a year or two disk capacity had doubled and a year or two later had doubled again. That sorta kinda made all the fantastical innards of these things ever so slightly redundant.
That's what the makers and buyers of on-the-fly compression SSDs will find. In a short time their 2011 technology will be overtaken by smaller/cheaper/faster storage and they'll be the Icebergs of this decade.
It's not really sex ...
> lonely dorks with poor social skills ... are in fact more likely to get squiffy, have sex
... if there's no-one else present
While I can appreciate that "seeing people engaged in a behaviour is a way of learning that behaviour," to some extent has merit, there's a huge difference between watching (say) an olympic swimmer and then claiming you can swim - if not exactly win a gold medal. It also takes practice, which just about brings us back to lonely teens having sex in their bedrooms.
Wireless: open, to accusations
> I figure it's only fair to let other people use [my open wireless] . ..., these few incidents represent a very small risk, literally less than one in a million.
I have to admire your altruism: being prepared to get arrested and charged with child pornography (which as has already been said is a guilty: with no chance of removing the stigma, offence) just so that some anonymous strangers can get internet access for free,
Interesting thing about drones
... they tend to level the combat-scape.
In "the good old days" air superiority required the deployment of many aircraft: none of which cost less than a small countries GDP to buy, operate and eventually crash. Even without the problems of getting someone to train up your pilots, without asking awkward questions like "well why would you want to fly a combat mission over Paris?"
In the age of videogame warfare, where all the nasty, shooty stuff is done by disposable flying robots that come free when you have enough clubcard points, the balance changes. Now every despot, along with the good guys (if there are any good guys, any more) can have a try at building their very own flying robot. Better yet, it's not the end of the world if you crash a few during testing and training. Hell! if a country like Israel (which doesn't have a drop of oil to its name) can develop some world class drones - albeit with some surreptitious outside help, then it shouldn't be too tricky for any other country that can muster a few engineering graduates to have a bash, too.
In fact, one could easiily see a niche market for small and cheap flying robots. Maybe just a couple of feet big. Just large enough to propel an armour-piercing nosecone through the bullet resistant glass of an industrialist or politician's vehicle, if that person was dumb or unlucky enough to have offended said despot, despot's family or deity. With such a small drone, moving it into the country of your choice shouldn't be too difficult and I'm sure the control systems could be made to look like perfectly ordinary spying equipment - the sort that goes through diplomatic channels every day.
Maybe, once we get to the point where any decision maker of any significance can be "reached" at will, they'll all start to see the light and start making sensible decisions for the greater good. (OK, you can dream). At that point these flying robots may, accidentally, become a force for democracy and liberation rather than a way of raining down detached and anonymous death on a location that your unreliable intelligence though might just be a likely target.
RE-entered? No ... but try this for size
OK so ESA hasn't sent something up and had it come back down. But that's such a narrow definition of success that it's pretty close to meaningless.
What ESA *has* achieved is to land a probe on Titan, buzzed a few asteroids and bothered the occasional comet which I personally think is a dam' site more impressive, and not just for the distance, Maybe when SpaceX does get a soft landing on (say) The Moon, then they'll have something to start measuring up to the BIG boys with.
10/10 for optimism
> successfully flown to orbit and back once in a test flight ... this puts SpaceX on its own at roughly the same level of space punch as the 19 allied nations of the ESA.
Minus several million for an accurate comparison.
Still, I suppose he did say "roughly". Which gives me hope that the Perl script I wrote this morning will one day attain sentience.
> I haven't read the article properly before posting my comments
You'd have to make that the default, as everybody does that.
p.s. you might have suggested that in the rest of your post, but I didn't read any more ....
I'm not a great icon user as few of them "speak to me". In fact I'd have to say I don't know what most of the ones with a face on them mean - or are for. They're too small and too busy to have an immediate impact.
We keep getting told that tablets are the way of the future, providing we keep taking them. So I'd suggest a fondleslab icon - I'll leave the details of what, exactly, should be fondled up to t'committee.
something to do until Royal Wedding fever dies down.
Reassuring to know
I'm sure we'll all sleep soundly in our meetings knowing that the Beeb wouldn't kill the internet. However, whether anyone who would (if they knew how to use their technology) quote from twitter has any credibility at all, makes me wonder about the soundness of this guy's judgement.
Know why you're doing it.
As the article says, virtualisation is a strategic decision. The people responsible for company strategy and direction inhabit the boardroom (not the I.T. cupboard - if this is being driven by the IT dept, it's fundamentally running at the wrong level) and they should be able to complete the sentence:
"We are committing to Desktop Virtualisation in order to ....."
and that answers the "why are we doing this?" question. If you have the world's only talented IT director, that sentence will be followed by a qualifier "and we'll know it's succeeded when we can do <X> better/cheaper/faster/more reliably than we could before."
> how you'd get past all the exposition required
The simple solution would be to not explain, if people wanted to know the ins and outs (which for a movie, I think they'd be unlikely to question) they can read the books.
As an emergency backup choice, I'd be happy with The Mote in Gods Eye or Integral Trees - both of which ask some interesting questions about society.
next question please?
 yes, I know you asked for emails - too bad.
The "IT profession" has many meanings - probably one for everybody in it. At its broadest, pretty much anyone who earns their pay by sitting in front of a keyboard is an IT professional: from online porn workers to city traders (though you could argue that they both screw people for money, so the difference is small) to programmers, to CEOs.
When the cloud takes off (i.e. stops being merely fog) then it's reasonable to assume that almost all the the jobs performed by people who sit in front of keyboards can and will be done by semi-AI enabled chat bots with/without avatars - depending on how much the "john" is paying. This includes all call centres and telesales operations.
The question that arises naturally is what will all the people, that these technologies displace, now be able to do for a living. Since these were the people who originally worked the land, then worked in factories, then in chicken-sheds with headsets attached, then - what? exactly? and how long will this "revolution" take?
Maybe it's time to stop educating the next generation for jobs that won't be around for long: certainly gone by the time they retire and probably by the time they've paid off their student loans (maybe even by the time they graduate). Maybe we need to look at the jobs that only people can do - although just how many hairdressers does a country need?
Hard to see why upgrades are needed
In an office environment most workers don't need much to do their jobs (note: need, not want or would like) just basic office tools, some security stuff to slow it down a bit and a nice screensaver. That's pretty much it. They don't need to play 3D/HD video, games or have a private universe in their office.
It's really only in the home, where media and games playing is big that the need for speed arises. So it's not too surprising that people's home kit is more recent than their work computer. The work machine is good enough as it stands. You could even argue that a low-spec, low-power PC at work is more environmentally responsible than having the latest multi-cored monster with a gigahertz video card: either in power consumption terms, or by lowering materials use by not buying unnecessary replacements,.
Of course if you do feel the need to be spiteful towards your employer, there are much more subtle ways of getting a replacement PC than taking a hammer to it ...
And 100% click "accept" without reading the agreement
I have some sympathy with the 18% who were flummoxed by a BBD. Given that a date such as 08/03/11 could refer to August, March or November over a span of 8 years, it's easy to see where the confusion can arise.
It's really well past time (that time was 31/12/99) that we all agreed that representing three different fields with three identically formatted values in no standard format is a recipe for confusion, if not disaster. Surely it's not that difficult to use three letters for the month and remember the lessons of Y2K and have a 4-digit year value? Though whether that year should be western, jewish, chinese or another choice still leaves a lot of room for misunderstanding.
I agree wholeheartedly. Just like my NI contributions subsidise the lifestyles of others. In that respect the "worst" offenders are the people who probably led abstemious lives: didn't drink, smoke, partake of substances, exercised regularly and ate sensibly. They will live to a grand old age, far beyond what their savings allow for and will spend many years if not decades in £500++/week nursing homes at the taxpayers expense.
Contrast that with smokers, to take an example [n.b. I don't fall into that category]. At least they have the decency to die young after generally quite short periods of incapacity/dependency - that's one reason their life insurance rates are lower than healthy peoples'.
shock news - life causes death!
Never forget, the NHS has a 100% failure rate - everybody dies at some point.
For me, the biggest question is whether I get a say in the means and timing of my demise. Do I want to drink my self to death, get knocked down by a bus on the way to a checkup, hang on grimly 'till I just fall apart or die slowly and painfully while being popped full of very expensive, yet oddly ineffective, drugs when I'm too old to care much anyway.
At some point we, as a society, have to get over this fear of death (although aversion to untimely death is reasonable) and be prepared to say: "well he/she had a good innings." or "lucky b~sterds, I hope I go like that". As part of that, we should have the right to push back against the do-gooders, nannies and experts who prognosticate, pontificate and preach that doing too much/too little of something/nothing is good./bad for us. We should be permitted to act like adults: weigh the consequences of our choices in an informed manner and just get on with it.
 other options are available.
Those figures don't look too bad
Obviously they're averages, not worst case (which would be 0 - hopefully everyone understands why). I would also expect the sample to be somewhat self-selecting, with most individuals who are satisfied with their 3G speeds to not be on the sort of crusade that would lead to search out apps to test it.
What would be more interesting would be an organised test - say to use your browser of choice (if you get any choice) to download a hefty web page and time it, from start to finish. Do this at a fixed time of day (lessay 17:30) every day for a month, outside every major rail terminus in the country and THEN see what the real-life speeds are like - correlated for location, network and phone.
Personally, I'm happy to get anything over 300kBit/sec
The logical conclusion
This (having low volume customers order "self-service" via a website) is only the first step. In the picture the author paints, it's difficult to see exactly what value the online retailer is adding. Wouldn't it be more efficient for the manufacturer to cut out the middle man, set up their own website and fulfillment operation and sell direct to the public?
I can see that most would rightly say "We're makers, not sellers - we don't have the skills." In which case the answer is outsourcing, a la Amazon Marketplace and all the other "etailers" like it.
The only value that a retailer has is when they can offer advice (even though it's never impartial advice) and provide a modicum of after-sales support. If the retailer is on the highstreet AND customers are prepared to pay the premium attached to being able to hold and/or fiddle with the merchandise, then fine. However these days most shops seem to be populated by cashiers, rather than salespeople. - Ask them a question and all they do (while avoiding eye contact) is mumble "I'll get the manager".
Even for items or spare parts that you need RIGHT NOW, most retailers fail. With the pressures of profitability and limited shelf-space, they probably don't have specialised items in stock - or you have to drive 80 miles to find the last item in the county (and then another 80 miles to exchange it when you find they sold you the Mk2 and you need the Mk3).
So, shops are still viable for people who's hobby is buying stuff, or retail therapy to try and put a worthy spin on it (blind consumerism would be a less generous observation). Where the goal is just to buy something - anything; not because you want it, but because it feels nice to have an assistant fawning over you. However those aren't really shops; they're massage parlours for the ego and as such require a completely different online solution.
So, if this is the way of the future, the trick is to recognise which way the wind is blowing. Either as a retailer and buy-out your suppliers, or as a manufacturer and take over, or build your own, web based outlet. Either way, it looks like the shakeup in retailing has barely started.
Gets dirty with age
The way it was explained to me, at the start of their lives - before they are used to generate power - the contents of a fission reactor are fairly benign. It's only during their active life, as the nucleii split into nasty fission products and irradiate the moderator and everything around them with neutrons that they become a hazard.
We know this as the half-life of uranium is in the hundreds of millions of years. So it takes an awfully long time for it to decay. It's only when we poke it with neutrons that start the fission process that more active isotopes are produced.
The thing about RTGs is they they are different. The "fuel" in them decays rapidly and the heat it produces during this decay is used to create electricity, directly. That means the fuel must be much more radioactive - and significantly, that it can't be turned on and off - if it goes *splash* then there is a lot of nasty stuff released. Typically RTGs are powered by Plutonium (not nice) or Strontium (even less nice, as it can displace Calcium in peoples' bones and therefore stays in the body until the person dies).
So, while there is a strong case to be made for not putting RTGs in rattly old rockets, since they are "live" during the launch, the same argument does not hold for reactors, as these can be activated once they get far away from earth - and more importantly once they are on a trajectory that won't bring them back again.
From an IT perspective
Time to register that ".mars" domain
Anonymity also brings freedom
Imagine if every post, comment, tweet, blog, email or download got tagged with your name, address, phone number, mugshot and personal details. Who would ever send anything?
Everybody would be "on the record" all the time. Whether they were writing a literary masterpiece or a drunken rant at an ex-partner. We rightly guard against "big brother" in the form of the state from surveilling us - but what if we had to do it to ourselves. And not just for the information to appear in a closed and secret database, but to be displayed in public for everyone: parents, children, employers, prospective dates, to see, search and form opinions from.
We need a degree of anonymity (said "Pete 2", yes that is my real name - just ask Mr and Mrs. 2; my parents) on the internet just as we have in real life - where maybe one person in a thousand - who we encounter daily: on the train, in the traffic jam, in the shops - knows even the slightest thing about us.
So we should be able to live our digital lives with the same degree of anonymity that we enjoy in the real world. Anonymity is not the problem, however. The problem is the inhabitants of the internet who feel they have impunity when they do the electronic equivalent of running up to us, shouting obscenities in our face, and running away again - as happens daily, on almost every web-space, to a significant proportion of its users.
What the internet needs is not an end to anonymity, but a more widespread system of assessing the "people" we meet on it. Just like IRL, we should be able to recognise the psychos, idiots, bs-ers, wise people, comedians and our friends. Not just on each individual forum or platform, but across the system as a whole. The trick is to be able to do that without sacrificing too much in the way of personal information. Maybe that's where the true value of FB and its ilk lies: as a universal registration/recognition system to validate online identities, while still stopping people you annoy from coming round your house with a large stick.
What's round that corner?
> hit enemies lurking around corners
Provided the "enemy" hasn't run off (if they're out of sight, how could you tell) and just left the Mother Superior with her charge of 12 orphans sitting quietly on a park bench, just round the corner from someone armed with one of these toys.
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but in modern, urban, warfare environments ISTM one of the basic ways of reducing civilian casualties is to be able to see what you're intending to shoot.
> gun's battery system,... must be plugged in to charge up.
Fortunately for all the innocent people unlucky enough to be near the pointy end of one of these, it seems like the range of any combat patrols will be limited to the length of the weapon's power cord.
Conflict of interest
Prevention may be cheaper than cures for a business - but for the support team it can be the kiss of death.
No support team ever got rewarded for the number of problems that don't happen. All that happens to a trouble-free IT environment is that the support staff gets cut (why do we need 12 techies, when nothing ever goes wrong? says the C-level exec). Then, when all the nipped-in-the-bud problems do turn into major crises, the whole mess gets outsourced.
The ideal situation for IT-ers who work in support but wish to keep their jobs and show how valuable they are, is to walk the tightrope between letting day-to-day problems grow to the point where they just start to cause pain, and then to fix them quickly - before they start to cause any major outages or suffering. Ideally problems should be limited to the CEOs machine, as this is almost certainly the most highly visible, yet least important box in the shop.
The tricky bit is to ensure that the number of problems remains high enough to justify the number and cost of IT support, while demonstrating "constantly improving kwality" by showing a long term reduction in outages, MTTR and cost per incident. Obviously, the most effective and reliable way to do this is to cook the monthly reports (just like every other service-orientated business group does)
To aid in this strategy, it's necessary to have a regular flow of new technologies and IT products coming into the organisation. Not to improve or expand the business - as IT almost never does this, but to provide new sources of errors, problems and outages to preserve the jobs of the support staff. As well as continued employment for all the developers, systems architects and managers.
The pet shop next door ...
Wouldn't happen to be called "Great Puppies" would it?
Follow the herd
This is hardly a surprise, the general principle has been discussed for decades. Whether you want to look at Asch's experiments in the 1950's or just think "well, duh! that's called leadership: one person says 'do X' and all the sheeple will do it.".
There are numerous examples in day to day life where people are influenced by the views of others (you could even argue that this is how democracy works), from having a social conscience, to agreeing with the views of newspaper editorials, to doing what the uniformed authority figure tells you (though this may be more due to fear than conformity) - even down to religion or bidding wars on eBay.
So, are we surprised that a lot of people will take guidance about what is right or wrong from an anonymous line of "approval" from an unknown source about subjects they don't understand? No. Should we be worried that these same people are in a position to influence the outcome of an election, even though they have no opinions of their own? Maybe. Should we be worried that media organisations have the power, desire and ability to plant views, opinions and beliefs in peoples' minds and have the readers act on them? Definitely.
ha'porth of tar?
If I had to guess, I'd say the procurement process went something like this:
Southwark: We need a system to manage our houses
SAP: Certainly, we have a very nice system - it'll cost you loadsamoney, but we're worth it
S: We can't afford that, we're crap at collecting council tax, and it's such a dump our rates are below the english average
SAP: Tough, that's the price
S: <surfs the web> Ooooh, lookee here's one that sounds nice and it's cheap. It doesn't say if it'll do what we need, though
S (boss): Cheap! - that's good enough, let's buy it.
IBM: So you want to buy our software? Has anyone explained to you what it does or how to use it?
S: Nope, but it's cheap. We want it.
IBM: Only if you're reeeeeeeelly sure.
S (massed skills of 6 negotiators): Oh, and can you knock off a bit, 'cos we're broke.
IBM: Would you settle for a tee-shirt?
S: A whole tee-shirt? it's a deal! When can you deliver (the tee-shirt, that is)?
IBM It's in the post, with the software CD
... time passes
S (boss) Times is tough. We'll have to let our negotiating team go (idle observation: if the negotiators were any good, couldn't they have persuaded the council to keep them on?)
S (massed skills of 6 negotiators): CRY! but a at least we got a tee-shirt.
... more time passes
Boss: I can't get this software to work. It can't possibly be my lack of skills, it must be faulty.
Boss's boss: So, it's your fault?
Boss: No, we must have been missold it, it must be unfit for purpose it can't possibly be my fault.
Boss's boss: Let's see if those negotiators can remember why they bought it.
6 negotiators: you sacked us, you're on your own buddy (or words to that effect)
Boss's boss: Oh dear (or words to that effect)
Boss: I know, let's sue someone. After all, we can always raise council tax to pay for the litigation (that's what we always do, for every cost we incur)
Boss's boss: Great idea
IBM's lawyer: Well, you didn't ask us if it would do what you need. But since we're nice guys we'll give you your money back, provided you return the tee-shirt.
Boss: Nope - we want to make a point (though we're not quite sure what the point is)
IBM: OK, see you in court.
El Beaky: Case dismissed. Southwark must pay all the costs for messing IBM about and not being reasonable about a settlement.
Southwark: Never mind, we'll just jack up the council tax .... oh, hang on, it's been frozen
Boss's boss: Well, I'm not losing my big fat salary, we'll just have to fire a few proles.
Boss: me neither. I still say it wasn't my fault. Let's sack the negotiators.
Boss's boss: we already did that - that's why we lost.
Boss: Oh ..... yeah.
So at least there'll be one good thing that comes out of the billions we're getting mugged for, on the olympics. So long as TfL don't quietly cancel the rollout after the games finish.
Loooong story, cut short
You got an unexpected iPad2 as a present. You aren't really sure what you're going to do with it. It has some value as a talking piece and you don't like the colour.
That probably puts you (apart from the colour intolerance) in the 95% iPad2 owner group. The rest being the small, but disproportionately vocal band of advocates.
Just send in Wayne Rooney
Given him an air rifle and provided he doesn't manage to shoot himself (which way round do you hold these things?) I'm sure he could make the guy "see sense". We know that millionaire footballers can shoot people with none of the nasty legal consequences reserved for ordinary people, so what have they got to loose - unless he misses, of course?
Do you really need an airforce to get rid of a dictator?
Or would one, well aimed, bullet be enough?
ISTM we're still playing war by the gentleman's rules of the eighteenth century. Mustn't shoot the leaders old chap, that wouldn't be sporting. Better that thousands of ordinary soldiers get killed or mained than "one of us" should suffer.
We know that western democracies (I nearly said "civilisations") are not above assassination - just look at the drone attacks in Iran/Afghanistan not to mention other countries long, if not glorious, history of killing enemies of the state remotely. Even the history of special forces ops going back to whenever they were invented. Sure, there may be some difficulty in finding suitable targets, once they are given the chance to go to ground - which may just be a good reason for doing the job sooner, rather than later (maybe just after they attain office?: "Do you enter name swear to uphold ... <bang> <thud> ... next please!")
If you really want to save lives, then addressing the seat of the problem is the fastest, cheapest and most effective way of proceeding. You never know, a few high profile examples may even make prospective baddies think twice.
Someone with a vested interest in promoting FOSS says we should have more. Big deal.
A lot of the places he mentions (I don't know about the french police) also have a larger proportion of donkeys used for transport than we have in the UK. Should we therefore be concerned about that, and push for more people to ride to work on one?
How much will the musicians get?
Let's base the damages award on the lost royalties the muso's have suffered. Then add on a suitable amount (say 5%) as an unearned "bonus" for the record companies. After all, it's not as if they've had to go to the expense of pressing vinyl, shipping product or promoting all these pirated copies.
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