* Posts by Pete 2

2424 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

UK reforms on private copying and parody come into force

Pete 2
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The law is an ...

> ... parody, a concept which is new to English law

Strange, I had the distinct impression that English law had always been a parody.

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Etsy security rule #1: Don't be a jerk to devs

Pete 2
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Re: Calm down, explain your terms

> and largely unintelligible

Well, since the author's name is Pauli, you'd expect some exclusion.

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Pete 2
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Easily pleased?

> bribes to developers who report flaws including gift cards and tee-shorts which he said worked "shockingly well"

One place I worked, some years ago, had an incentive scheme where each manager had a couple of discretionary "gifts" to dole out every few months. This amounted to a "free" but receipted entry on your expenses for a meal out with a +1 (up to a limit of approx. £50: just above pizzas and a bottle of wine in value). While it was nice to get the recognition it made absolutely no difference to how an individual performed.

>a hall of fame was more important than monetary rewards

A friend is a secondary school teacher. The school has a motivational "star" system with "winners" names going on a board in the entrance lobby. However, it really only works for the 13's and under. After that, awarding a child a star is seen as an egregious insult and is more likely to have the opposite affect to the one intended.

I would suggest that if SignalSciences thinks they are actually altering the behaviour of their employees with such trivia, they are either employing immature developers who are so bereft of love and attention that they could replace their gift certificates with a lollipop and still get the same result, or that their staff scorn their rewards, are intelligent enough to have calculated that they amount to ¢¢¢'s per hour and are actually rewarding themselves in other ways from the company's coffers.

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That PERSONAL DATA you give away for free to Facebook 'n' pals? It's worth at least £140

Pete 2
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Re: Real or imaginary

> Now what else could we serve up to a man that handles goats nut on a daily basis..... whilst remaining legal...

Kebab sticks and a book of barbeque recipes?

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Pete 2
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Real or imaginary

> UK users price data revealing their sexual orientation to an unfamiliar organisation at £12.82, the study finds

So how many people reading this have ever received a cheque in the post for revealing (or making up, there's no way to tell) any personal information whatsoever? Likewise, whever I fill in an online registration form that asks for anything more than a nickname and a password, I don't hear the kerchinnng of a cash register anywhere in the registration process.

So while the average interviewee in the street might well state this pie-in-the-sky amount when asked a direct question, it doesn't seem to bear any resemblance to what actually happens to any personal information that floats around on the internet. But then again: neither does that information have anything in common with the person who submitted it.

P.S. Here ya' go El Reg. See how much you can get for this:

Name: Pete

Last name: Two

Postcode: PR8 2ZW

DOB: 01-April-1966

Occupation: Goat neuterer (no kidding!)

Income: £50,000 p.a. (mainly backhanders from the goats)

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Nicked iCloud snaps: Celebrities were 'dumb' – new EU digi boss

Pete 2
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The weakest link

> With the poor quality coding & patching & the likes of the NAS we stand very little chance if any against the hackers

Now that the panic has died down (and all the columnists have run out of ways to describe how boring outrageous this has all been), the word seems to be that these photos were accessed by people phishing for security information from the celebs in question. On the basis that this is the most likely reason it does seem to point the finger at the individuals' poor security awareness (is that another way of saying: don't bother me with details) rather than inherent flaws in the iCloud security implementation.

Now maybe Apple could have put in place tighter security protocols. But when you have individuals who hand over their own passwords or who choose weak / easily guessed answers, no matter how much you do to "help" them not to, there's always going to be leaks.

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Icahn and I DID: eBay volte-faces, spins PayPal into separate biz

Pete 2
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Can you hear a "rattling" sound?

> it would be better for eBay and PayPal to operate separately.

I wonder if that's the skeletons in PPs closet.

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Ello, 'ello, what's all this then? We take a spin on the new social network driving everyone loopy

Pete 2
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Few are called

> We will invite you as soon as we can. Ello is currently in beta, and we are inviting new users in small groups as we roll out new features.

Quite. I have a sneaking suspicion that all the media buzz that this (so far) insignificant little website has generated is merely an excuse for a few journo's to brag that they got invitations before anyone else.

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How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?

Pete 2
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Listening too hard

> I think I can detect an instantly perceptible MP3-FLAC difference

Maybe you can - but does it really matter?

Most people I know listen to music as a form of entertainment, generally as relaxation. They don't listen to it on the assumption that they will be tested on it's content and clarity after hearing it. Likewise, they don't listen, eagle-eared. waiting for that instance in the third passage where the conductor's tummy rumbles - or where you can hear the tube train rolling past the recording studio.

Having said that, the first time I plugged in my home-made transmission line speakers (still with me 30+ years later) and cranked up Wish You Were Here it was a bloody revelation. I have witnessed similar reactions when I have plugged in a basic 2+1 speaker system into friends' flat-panel tellies: where did all that sound come from? after listening to tinny audio for an age and not realising there was anything better.

Although those step-changes are huge. Whereas the difference between an average quality MP3 and a FLAC is perceptable - but you're merely detecting the difference, not listening to it. And as soon as someone in the upstairs flat farts, or a car rumbles past, the difference vanishes. As it also does on anything less than my TLs.

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Poverty? Pah. That doesn't REALLY exist any more

Pete 2
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Surplus to requirements

> and it would be the basics, around the level of the pension, say £130 a week or so

But then what?

The thing about relative poverty - the thing that all the poverty charities love about it - is that can NEVER be fixed. Why is that "good"? Because it is their raison d'etre and will assure them recognition, moral superiority, political influence and some people a job forever.

But that 130 quid a week isn't just a sign of wealth, it's a sign of national surplus. It shows that we have broken out of the more money == more food == more surviving children cycle. However, there is a downside.

We know implicitly that you don't make everyone richer by doubling everyone's pay. So that suddenly many more people can afford that £90,000 Lexus LS. At that point demand will outstrip supply and all you will have done is stick a rocket up the bum of inflation and soon everyone will be back where they were (including the Lexus owners).

No, if you want to be able to spread the handouts around, the country has to produce more per unit of labour. That was what the industrial revolution with it's harnessing of power sources did for us. Before that the energy available to a worker was their muscle - or their horse's muscle power. After that it has trended towards the infinite.

But we've reached the limit of energy supply. Sure: we can produce more power, but there's a cost. The next step would be to increase efficiency of production: more widgets made per unit of labour. Apart from making us all wealthier, it'll also produce more Lexus's to satisfy the increased demand.

It would also raise the amount available for handouts by more than the rate of monetary inflation. So even those who don't / won't / can't work would still get a pretty nice set of wheels. Even if the roads got so jammed that you'd need a flying car, instead.

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iPhone 6: The final straw for Android makers eaten alive by the data parasite?

Pete 2
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Thinning the herd

But isn't this what happens in every industry? Consolidation.

When cars were new, there were hundreds of manufacturers. Now there are a few. When aircraft stopped being an expensive way to kill yourself and went commercial there were lots of manufacturers. Now there are a few. But in neither case does the reduction in the number of makers lead to a reduction in the number of units made: the opposite is true.

As for New iPhones at last means that Android, Google's smartphone middleware, will soon look attractive only for budget vendors I'm not convinced that the mobile device market splits neatly into "Apple" and "budget" and if Google really want to keep sucking on the data-collection teat, then surely IoT and embedded smart data sources is the direction they should be looking in.

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Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM

Pete 2
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Prescience

And if they'd been using electronic voting machines the result would be programmed known before the polls had even opened.

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China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR

Pete 2
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Re: Pots and Kettles

> See, makes sense

Yes, I see the light.

It's not the hacking that's wrong - it's the getting caught.

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Pete 2
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Pots and Kettles

> These peacetime intrusions into the networks of key defense contractors are more evidence of China's aggressive actions in cyberspace

Because the americans would never dream of trying to gain unauthorised access to another country's military networks!

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Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport

Pete 2
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Bom bom bomb!

> The force has also defended the fact that it takes explosives to airports, saying the public was never in danger

Well, no. The chances of there ever being a bomb at an airport is extremely small. The chances of there being two bombs is infinitesimal. Therefore it makes complete sense for the security forces to take bombs to airports as it vastly reduces the chances of another one being there.

[ 'scuse me while I dig out my copy of Probability for complete idiots ]

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Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes

Pete 2
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Re: Celine Dion tunes?

Should we now assume that "illegal" downloads of her material are:

a) tracked with an intensity and vigour by every surveillance organisation in the western world

b) laden (bin laden?) with malware, virus and other nasties in the hope some will reach the target audience.

c) still an awful thing to impose on people: no wonder they get radicalised

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Boffins: Behold the SILICON CHEAPNESS of our tiny, radio-signal-munching IoT sensor

Pete 2
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Other days, other eyes

Oh whoop-de-doo! Bob Shaw's prediction comes one step closer.

Here we have a completely inert device, that is indetectably small and cheap enough to produce by the billion. Let's just wait for a version with a MEMS microphone (I suppose a camera is too much to ask for?) and you have the perfect bug. Better yet, it can be remain in its inert state for years, until needed.

It can be spread around like fairy dust, it won't transmit until it's illuminated by an RF feed and even if your bug-hunter discovers one - or ten - or a thousand in a room, it's a fair bet there will be many more not found. Even if "they" get them all, a couple of minutes will see a whole new batch introduced through the air-conditioning system. Or accidentally carried in on the clothes of people entering the room.

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Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US

Pete 2
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Re: Outlook: fine

> the America regulators are equal opportunity finers - just look at the record fines handed out to American banks

Never said they weren't - just like muggers will prey on tourists and locals alike. The difference being that locals usually know what areas to avoid and recognise the signs of someone intent on "getting a tip" from a passer-by.

But when you're fining a company (or as it always comes down to: its shareholders) amounts in the $ billions in return for letting the senior officers - the people who must have known and approved if not actually taken part in the wrongdoing - walk. or get token punishments, shows a corruption in the justice system that has gone way too far.

By that point it has long ceased to be a law-enforcement operation, as there is never any judiciary involved - just a demand for a pre-determined amount of money and is merely extortion.

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Pete 2
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Outlook: fine

> Vodafone took what it had left of that $130bn and bought T-Mobile US

The US market is probably the worst, most restrictive and most predatory in the world. Their regulators seem to consider any foreign enterprise as being fair game. Yet their idea of "fair" is to hold a meeting, lock the doors and then threaten the senior executives with jail unless billions in protection money fines are paid. With neither negotiation nor a trial to establish the legality, transparency or fairness of the punishment - or even if they were to blame for any regulatory transgressions.

So if Vodafone was to wander, innocently, into the american market with a wad of $130Bn bulging out of its back pocket, nobody should be surprised if the american government sees it coming and mugs them for it. After all: it's a quick "steal", costs their citizens nothing and is much more popular than trying to raise revenue through taxing the population.

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It's a pain in the ASCII, so what can be done to make patching easier?

Pete 2
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Built for speed, not comfort

Most software today was designed with one goal in mind: to get it out the door and money coming in, in the shortest possible time.

Hence, Version 1.0 is almost always Beta 0.1 and there are few major packages that are anywhere near usable before version 3. After that, it's a case of slapping patches on zaps on top of updates in a vain effort to plug the design holes that a faraway hacker-schoolchild with some free time discovered within a few minutes of installing a pirated copy.

What we need is a recognition that every patch we are required to install is a message from the vendor saying "this software (that we took your money for) is not fit for purpose". We need software companies to be held responsible for their shortcomings and irresponsible attitude of "we'll fix that in the next release". Maybe the answer is a "bug tax" where package makers are charged 1% of their revenues (not profits, that's too easy to manipulate and revenue is what the customers have paid) for every major weakness that is discovered by a third party and that money is then held for the customers as a sort of discount against the cost of maintenance&support contracts and future upgrades.

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Nearly there! LOHAN Kickstarter pot o'gold breaks £29,000

Pete 2
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There's not enough money in the world

> And if you bribe the Spanish official this time ...

and the local Mayor and the Police chiefs (all three of them Gaurdia Civil, Guardia Local and the ever-loved Trafico, who's motto seems to be "our hand is always extended") . Plus a "donation" to the local town's fiesta and you'll probably find there are regulations mandating safety equipment that only the Mayor's extended family can supply.

It *must* be cheaper to go to the US - or The Moon - than deal with that lot.

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BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS

Pete 2
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The BBC's commercial success

> the BBC produces quality TV that the market can't...

Yes, it can. But 60% of it's TV budget goes on BBC1 - one single channel. And that channel screens the same sort of ratings-chasing content that any commercial broadcaster with a guaranteed £1.4Bn a year to spend on a single channel and no need to make a profit from advertising, would make.

Sure, the other £1Bn of the TV budget goes to making some nice (and low-cost) documentaries. Most of which consist of electronic mood music, a slightly well-known "personality" on a metaphorical and often physical journey ("I want to find out about ... so I'm going to ... to meet someone who can tell me - presumably because I can't just phone them") that might just tell the GCSE crowd something they didn't know before.

There are also a few (remaining) arts programmes that might just, on a good day, give the Sky Arts 1&2 channels a run for their money. But once you get past these middle-brow contributions to the intellectual wellbeing of the entire nation, there's not really that much left. (Unless you like Celebrity Antiques Road Trip)

Except that is, for the BBC's two secrets to its success. The things that makes it stand out, virtually alone, from every other TV enterprise on the planet: it's guaranteed income, come good times or bad and it's lack of commercial breaks interrupting the shows. Without those features, it would be indistinguishable from any other broadcaster, no matter how many episodes of Dr. Who it made.

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BONEHEAD FANBOIS encamp outside Apple Stores

Pete 2
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"I'm standing outside ... "

> queueing outside Apple stores ahead of this evening's product announcement

It's no sillier than TV crews setting up shop OUTSIDE a building where some people INSIDE are talking - and then having the presenter read a statement prepared by a P.R. department that's in a completely different place.

Actually - yeah! it's all pretty dumb.

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3D scanning made easy: Reg man ponders terrifying Xmas pressie

Pete 2
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Promising start

This still looks like a "Mark 1" device. However it does seem that there's an inevitability about this sort of thing -- and not just as an interface to 3D printing.

With luck, some years and several £££ Billion we might just get some proper 3D telly out of this, from the 3rd or 4th generation versions.

More worrying will be when your passport "photo" is required to be a 3D image, including the back of your head. Combine that with airport style "see through your clothes" millimetre radar and city centre CCTV surveillance and we might all need a dam' sight more than tinfoil hats,

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Don't buy that phone! It ATTRACTS CRIMINALS, UK.gov will tell people

Pete 2
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Unintended consequences

> So when Manufacturer A. starts seeing its sales take a nosedive because this mad government is telling people not to buy their phones, they won't be a teeny bit cross?

Given how little government officials understand (a) technology (b) people (c) criminals it wouldn't surprise me one little bit if the publication of the most desirables list led to an upsurge in demand for those phones.

You can see the rationale: those phones get stolen most - therefore they *must* be the most desirable - therefore they are very fashionable - therefore I must have one. It may even go further: that having your highly desirable phone stolen becomes a badge of trendiness. Possibly even to the point where you don't wait until you want a different model before reporting it nicked: just to get a corporate replacement, or insurance payout.

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It's official: Brit parents want their kids to be just like Steve Bong

Pete 2
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Too early to say

> jobs as doctors, engineers and lawyers all scored higher than tech entrepreneur

The key is to build options into your career path. Although the listed jobs sound very aspirational (except lawyer: obv. We know a joke about having a lawyer in the family, don't we?), it's equally true that life is what happens while you're busy making plans.

As it turned out, my first job after university didn't even exist when I started. But because I had a good grounding in tech, computing & electronics I was a natural choice. So ISTM the secret to starting life with an exciting, interesting if not well-paid (this is the technology sector) job isn't to aim for one specific job description, but to have flexibility (and a driving licence) and not get bogged down aiming at one solitary specialism.

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Singapore slings £18k fine at text-spam-spaffing biz owner

Pete 2
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Going large

A fine of nearly nineteen grand? Amateurs!

In america, their fines are measured in the BEEELION. To such an extent that The Economist has labelled amercia's regulatory system as "the world’s most lucrative shakedown operation" - beating The Kremlin, The Mafia and The Chinese for the world's top spot. (article available online).

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Virgin Media blocks 'wankers' from permissible passwords

Pete 2
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Re: Merde!

> Passwords should only be seen by the person who created them

Maybe if the requirement was reversed: so that only phrases that were deeply personally derogatory were allowed: e.g. "I'm a pheasant plucker" (or words to that effect), then at least it would stop individuals freely handing out their passwords to all and sundry.

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Pete 2
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Re: Bollock, Bollocks

> The list also appears to taken from an American script

As is usually the case with lists of "popular" passwords.

ISTM the simplest way to obtain an uncrackable password is just to use a non-english (or non-american) word. And if you can get some non-ASCII into it, you're gÖlden.

I'm pretty sure the same applies to "bad word" filters, too.

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Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts

Pete 2
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A much better question

> make sure you ask the question: "How many developers do you have submitting code ...

Nah! Code is easy, code is "fun". You don't have to pay hobbyists to write code: they do it for free.

Documentation is boring. Documentation is dull. Documentation is hrad 2 get wright.

Testing is even worse.

Project management is next to impossible.

So if companies want to contribute to OSS, the best thing for the community and its users would be to leave the code to the geeks who like doing it and to add far more value by testing the stuff they produce, using it, managing the change control and writing books, articles, man pages, wikis, examples (preferably working examples) and FAQs. Those are the things that are missing from most projects - and are the biggest impediments to the take-up of "free" (free as in no cost: so long as you put zero value on the hours or days it can take to wrangle some of this stuff into working shape - or realise it's irredeemable crap and you've just wasted a week on it).

That's where the biggest contributions will come from. Even though those contributors won't get the recognition and kudos. That's why companies are in the best position to donate those efforts.

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BOFH: The current value of our IT ASSets? Minus eleventy-seven...

Pete 2
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Having your assets on the line

I recall a similar situation some 20 <cough> years ago:

The auditors came a-knockin'

"OK, Asset number 78934758934734 Ada compiler. Purchased last year, value £30,000. Show me"

Us:

"It's there, on top of that filing cabinet"

"But that's just a reel of 9-track tape"

"Yup"

"That's not worth £30,000!"

<sigh>

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Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media

Pete 2
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Piles of trials

> I think that there is a strong case for saying that they should be televised: that is merely the modern extension of enabling the public to enter the courts physically

The small amount of stuff I've seen from the Pistorious trial leads me to exactly the opposite conclusion. It all seemed to be grandstanding and playing to the cameras. In the same way that televising Parliament has done nothing to improve its reputation (PMQs has probably eroded the credibility of the Commons more than all the scandals, frauds and fiddles put together) and I can't see how the slow, ponderous, proceedings of a courtroom (I once took myself down to a court, just to see what went on: dull, dull, dull - forget anything like what you see on TV) could ever make "justice" appear more desirable.

I've also seen TV from american courtrooms (I was in Boston during the Harding / Kerrigan skating trial) and can't say it impressed, or interested, me: as an outsider it appeared to just be a platform for a group of self-important individuals to further inflate their egos. As a consequence, I can't see live TV trials being any more significant than the BBC Parliament channel - and probably watched by the same number of people. Though even those numbers of viewers would beat a lot of the digital channels and the vast majority of what comes off the Astra2 satellites.

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'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder

Pete 2
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On the board

So: children still get people trying to tell them how to code.

Trendy IT "charities" still get money from government in the hope it will make them look "modern" and money from corporates in the hope it will make them look as if they're "giving back".

An organisation's director is informed that part of that role is showing solidarity with your benefactors

And someone's blog gets an upswing in the number of hits.

Surely the time to voice an objection, especially for a board member, is when the corporate sponsorship is being discussed. If you realise at that point that you are unable to square what that sponsor stands for with some personal opinions you are incapable of keeping to yourself, that's the time to quit.

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Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything

Pete 2
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> Open Source software... where deliberate hobbling is not possible

Actually, it is. If the agreement you have committed to with a supplier includes limitations on the "what, how, when or how-many" you are permitted to use, it makes no difference whether you are physically or logically able to enable those features that you haven't paid for. Or whether any software that comes with (or forms) the product is Open Source or closed source. You know: all thise "I agree" boxes you tick. They can contain any limitations the author wishes to include.

Even if the software comes with its source code, if you contravene the terms of the purchase / rental / usage then that is as much a no-no as if you'd cracked any protection schemes that prevent a user from access those additional features. Though with "free" software, this is mainly down to the honour of the user - to abide by the terms they agreed they would, than hard prevention.

Hobbling can be implemented either in hardware or software - or in the contractual terms of use. It just comes down to how honest you are, whether you abide by them or not. For example, some "free" software disallows its use for military purposes. Other licences prevent the authors' "free" software being used in specific countries.

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Pete 2
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This is real "free" software

The other side of the coin is that since customers are savvy enough (and have always been) to know that these extra features cost the supplier nothing, they are a nice, easy target during the negotiations when you are thinking about what to buy. (Obv. this is intended for corporate users, not people who just walk into a shop, wave the plastic and walk out with a box under their arm).

When you are buying that $40,000 server - or, more likely, a few dozen of them, nobody actually pays the list price: most customers pay far more, since they will want an integrated package that includes warranty, support, training, installation and that funny "software" stuff - which can cost many thousands but comes on a 10p DVD.

So during the negotiations, the buyer says "we want this, that and the other" to which the salesperson says "'scuse me, I'm just mentally spending the commish" then puts down the latest copy of Yatching World and replies "Ahh, but you'll also want X, Y and Z too" (and picks up the magazine again).

Once the sales person thinks the deal is done, that's when the canny buyer drops the bombshell: "Oh, how about turning on the extra-turbo-whizzy feature, too? It's only a licence key and the feature's already there - so it doesn't cost you anything". Upon the prospect of their 24-footer (!) sailing away from them, the sales person will, at that point, agree to pretty much anything. And if you time the deal to be just before the end-of-quarter, they'd probably give you a go on their new yacht, too. Hence all those "features" are really just no-cost-to-anyone negotiating points.

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Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

Pete 2
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Re: Going multicore

> If dists are built to the new Pi specification then they'll run the same way as they do now.

But they aren't - and they won't.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

First the Allwinner SoCs have a lot of pins (a LOT) that are primarily intended to drive an LCD. If you base a new Pi on these devices, people will see the new features, such as this, and want to use them. That will lead to a fork of the user-base and split the development effort. Not to mention making the boards physical layout a lot different.

Secondly, the reference SunXi Linux ports have a low-level mapping between the processor's hardware pins and their functions. This FEX file is user-configurable and is set up during boot-time. Hence a piece of software that assumes (say) pin PB22 is a serial output pin when a different cut of Linux, or a different version of the same distribution has decided that pin should be a digital input, instead, will fail in weird and improbable ways.

There are many other reasons, but these serve as illustrations that the gap between a Pi and a "next-gen" SBC is large and widening.

And it's reasons like this which are why software compatibility will go out the window and why the processor families are different from each other. Now that doesn't mean the the simple user interface and APIs used on a Pi can't be ported across. But the new SBCs are so much more powerful and have so many additional features that producing products which leave out those features will severely limit their take up - especially as there are established enterprises that are already producing fuil-featured products.

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Pete 2
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Going multicore

The problem is that once you bump the processor up to something more modern, your software compatibility goes out the window,

The Quad Cores are coming (in a month or two). But they are very different beasts from the Pi and the O/S's they run are sufficiently different that the Pi's biggest asset: it's base of user software, would have to be restarted, reported or redesigned.

While that may not be such a bad thing - it will take the wind out of the Pi's sails and given that there are so many other products already in the SBC multi-processor market, it would be difficult for the Pi to regain its old pre-eminence.

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LOHAN Kickstarter bid IS GO: Back our Vulture 2 spaceplane launch

Pete 2
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Tax attacks

> Take out the spaceport fees, kickstarter fees, the cost of the merchandise...

Wottabout taxes?

If this undertaking is being done under the auspices of El Reg (presumably already VAT registered) then won't there be VAT on the merch you sell. And maybe come corporation tax on the rest? (IANAA, but you'd already guessed that!).

If you're doing this in a personal capacity, what's your income tax situation. As for going to the USA on a commercial venture ... Does that need a visa? And I'd love to see your travel insurance application: "Oh yes, we want medical cover to go the the USA to launch a rocket ... "

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Echopraxia scores 'diamond cutter' on the sci-fi hardness scale

Pete 2
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Re: Why don't media include source links?

> In this case, links to the author's web page, or (heaven forfend the capitalism!) to one or more book sellers

I'm sure a wild stab in the dark will see you arriving at the site of an online bookstore that sells this.

(after a wild stab of my own: apparently it's on pre-order for the next few days)

Personally, I'm about to tuck in to Ancillary Justice

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LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!

Pete 2
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Re: A Very Special Project

> But maybe the nice people at White Sands will let the SPB team launch from the Trinity atomic test site!

I drove past there a few years back on my way from Albuquerque to Alamagordo. Basically, there's a gate with a lock on it which is only opened for 1 day a year. That is the only route down to the test site - and it's a long way from the road. There are a few roadside stalls selling "atomic" rocks (i.e. rocks) but that's about your lot. The test site was chosen because it's very difficult to get to.

Otherwise, there might be a town within 50 miles (I stopped to gas-up) but that's about your lot.

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Pete 2
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Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

I think I see your problem:

> Ministry of Obstruction declined to authorise the Intercommunity transfer of explosives, citing local law

There are two points to appreciate. The first is that Spain's version of democracy makes everything illegal unless explicitly permitted. The second is that if you don't like the local laws, just go down the road - they'll be different there (repeat until you either find laws that you like, or run out of road - in which case, prepare the ever-effective and still extremely popular plain brown envelope)

A friend decided to import his venerable old Land Rover. This involved taking it down to the local MoT (in Spain: ITV - run by the government, not a local garage) testing station and starting the process of having it registered. The individual there had never seen a Landy before and duly pronounced it to be a Lorry (pretty obvious really: since it had 4 wheels and seats inside) and therefore would cost €12,000 to "process" and would have to be re-tested every 6 months - it being a "commercial" vehicle 'n' all.

Rather than do the typical brit thing of stumping up and grumbliing a bit, he took to to a different ITV station, in a place just a leeeetle more wordly (where the donkeys have straw hats) and duly got it declared a car and subject to the usual domestic arrangements for transferring to a spanish registration - which only required the payment of several hundred €€€s and was brown-envelope free.

The caveat being, that while local laws are both arbitrary and geographically inconstant (and interpreted by individuals with neither the qualifications nor the motivation to make an informed choice) they can - and frequently are - revised without any warning or notification. Worse than that: they appear to be capable of retrospective revision, with fines payable for transgressions that come about due to changes - even if things were done legally under the "old" law.

P.S. There isn't one single Ministry of Obstruction, all the Ministries serve that purpose.

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Cops baffled by riddle of CHICKEN who crossed ROAD

Pete 2
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Re: What?!

I suppose it depends on the size of the bird. A largish one could do a lot of damage to your car if you hit it at speed. Though it would almost certainly go under the vehicle - unless it took flight at the last second and hit your windscreen.

Though I do agree: anyone who puts their own life (and that of their passengers and other motorists) at risk by slowing / stopping on a motorway, simply to "save" some wildlife shouldn't be a driver.

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Tricked by satire? Get all your news from Facebook? You're in luck, dummy

Pete 2
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Rag tag

> distinguish real news from parody pieces that use ironic exaggeration

While reading this I thought that maybe FB should introduce a [BS] tag, too. Though there would be plenty more "news" sites that wouldn't need it - as their title tells you that by default.

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Top money men face up to 2 YEARS in slammer for neglecting to spot crim-cash activity

Pete 2
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A neat trick if you can do it

> they [ the financial company ] must also "verify key facts that only the customer may know

Hmmm.

"Can you tell us something that only you know? So that we can verify it"

Well, I could. But then you'd know it, too. So it wouldn't be something that only I knew.

"D'oh!"

Sounds like it's a wise idea to keep a stash of cash under the mattress. Just in case your bank suddenly and arbitrarily decides you're a terrrrrist and won't let you make any withdrawls. An oooopsie, sorreeee after the fact just doesn't cut it.

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Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media

Pete 2
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Unnatural bedfellows

> we have to protect our intellectual property.

It's not often your hear "intellectual" being used in an article about football.

But, heigh-ho - I suppose if they can find a way to block stuff that *they* have a right to - but not, say, of little Johnny knocking one into the back of the net at the local park - then good luck to 'em

It's odd though. You'd have hoped there would be more to a football match: 90 minutes and £40 than just a few seconds of a ball moving from a boot (or head, or <ahem> hand) to a net. Makes you wonder whether the entire 39 week soccer season couldn't just be telescoped down into a 5 minute mass-kicking sometime in May. You'd get all the goals and it would save a whole lot of tedious traveling, speculation, punditry and disappointment.

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Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

Pete 2
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Choosing better heslos

> across corporate America

Where, presumably the passwords are all created on a QWERTY keyboard and use anglicised spellings. (Or should that be anglicized?)

I wonder how much harder these guys would have found it to crack passwords in the other 95% of the world where words have letters not found in american: for example ñ and "password" might translate as senha or contraseña

Maybe the "secret" is to employ multi-lingual systems administrators. Who says off-shoring is always a bad idea?

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Murder accused DIDN'T ask Siri 'how to hide my roommate'

Pete 2
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Forestry

Sounds like it's not a good idea to ask how to sell any spare woodland you might find yourself owning:

Siri, how do I dispose of a copse?"

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Meet the Flockers... and please, do try to contain yourself

Pete 2
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The SUN never sets

> multiple apps under a single OS inside a containing structure

Isn't this what Solaris had about 10 years ago? Containers or zones (I forget - it's been a while)

> Snarky old IT folks might sarcastically recall multi-tasking under one OS and sniff in sorrow

Yup, pass the snifters. I'll have an Armagnac.

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

Pete 2
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Re: How to plan central planning

> Government also backed wind

Governments always back wind - as they have so much of it.

While we appear to be largely in agreement, it does seem to me that governments *could* plan better, but they are so easily tempted away from the true path by short-term political opportunities. As you point out vociferous opposition to closing some hospitals - even though it would save lives (but dead people can't complain).

They are also venal, self-serving bastids who value the chance to stick-it to the opposition as much as they do the possibility of doing something good. And as for bending to newspaper headlines and "quiet words" from influential parties? Well, it's amazing that they do anything at all for the people who elected them.

Our current system (if not the individuals who are currently implementing it) might not be the best, but it's probably close to being the least-worst.

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Pete 2
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Re: How to plan central planning

> There's a strong feeling that 2011 will be the last census - because the data quality is getting so much worse.

Which doesn't deny the need for the data that censuses have provided. It just means there are now better (faster, cheaper, more accurate) ways of getting the basic information required to efficiently spend the taxation that governments take from us.

> It's just too damned difficult.

The basic premise still stands: that if we want to have the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time, we need good data to permit its planning. Of course there are some cockups - anything that involves people (or governments) will inevitably go wrong - but that's no reason to say "therefore the whole thing is useless - there's no point even trying".

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