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* Posts by Pete 2

2314 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Google lands patent for, um, estimating shipment time

Pete 2
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A universal estimator: +/- 3 days guaranteed

Well, if we're going to award patents for silly ideas, here's one that will estimate the arrival day of anything, anywhere with a guaranteed accuracy of 3 days or better - earlier or later.

Wednesday

Every day of the week is within 3 days of Wednesday, hence anything will always be delivered (assuming it's not lost in transit) within 3 days of a Wednesday.

[This was told to me last christmas by a younger member of the Pete 2 clan: "I bet I can tell when your birthday is - oh yeah, within 3 days .... Luckily 7 year-olds don't know about intellectual property]

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Q: Why do defenders keep losing to smaller cyberwarriors?

Pete 2
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Cyberwar: your worst enemies are your own people

They just aren't paranoid enough. They insist (despite all the education, procedures, regulations, warnings and threats of dismissal) on loading unapproved software or data onto supposedly secure computers. They take confidential information away on laptops or thumb drives - and then lose it. They don't bother to encrypt data they move around. They divulge passwords. They use company computers for personal entertainment and they leave them unattended with their work screens unsecured.

The biggest problem is that everything that goes on with computers is intangible. They never get to see the data that's so important and therefore disregard it. Even in cases where data is in physical form, such as paper, they STILL manage to treat it with such slapdash attitudes that it gets lost, left on trains or thrown away where anyone (who wanted it) could easily find it.

Hell, people don't even bother to cover their own tracks and delete emails that could land them, personally, in chokey.

I suppose the problem is that staff just aren't punished enough for their transgressions. Maybe that's because these systems aren't rigorously monitored and security protocols enforced: "Hey, Jim. I noticed you logged in to the central control machine yesterday without clearance. You know that's a sackable offence - pack your bags and this nice gentleman will escort you to the door." What we need for our secure and critical systems is the same sort of controls that banks have to prevent their staff sampling the product. It won't catch all offenders, but it should at least give us a better chance of repelling the invaders.

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Essex cops slaps cuffs on social media riot crusaders

Pete 2
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Arrested

> arrested for saying X on facebook ...

One thing we tend to forget is that although being arrested denies the arrestee of their freedom, which is in itself a punishment, it does not mean that the person has been charged with an offence - let alone been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

The worrying thing is if this develops into the SOP for the police, apropos Facebook. Say something on FB they don't like. Get arrested and detained for a period of time, then released without charge. You've been inconvenienced and held in the slammer - effectively put in jail - but nobody has accused you of committing a crime.

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Prime Minister recalls holidaying MPs after London riots

Pete 2
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and then what? ...

> re-introduce conscription

once they get de-scripted, they come back onto the streets except know they've been trained in the use of automatic weapons and 6 ways to kill you, using just their thumb. And the blokes are likely to be even more dangerous.

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Pete 2
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Erm, double wrong

> Everybody who voted, voted for this government, it's called democracy.

You seem to be confusing the specific and the general cases.

People who vote are supporting the principle of democratic government, but not necessarily the one that wins the election.

Just like if there was a referendum to bring back capital punishment, if I voted against it, that doesn't mean I want CP just because I voted.

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Pete 2
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A diversionary tactic?

> MPs have been told to return to the House of Commons for one day on Thursday

So is the idea to prevent further destruction of private property by presenting the arsonists and thieves with an even juicier target in Westminster?

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Tottenham MP calls for BlackBerry Messenging suspension

Pete 2
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Arab spring?

So hands up who's going to say "but this is completely different" when they are reminded how universal was the protestations when certain other countries suspended mobile phone (and internet) comminucatiosn during their "local difficulties" only a few months ago?

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LOHAN team buried under ballockets

Pete 2
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A symbolic gesture

The only thing we can say about any configuration, given the turbulent environment from the high winds at 80km, is that the top of the balloon will be higher than the bottom (where the bottom is the bit the GPS etc. hangs off).

Now, if we replaced the spherical balloon with a long thin one, then it too will get errr, enlarged the higher LOHAN goes (oh do stop sniggering you at the back - any symbolism is the product of your dirty mind, I'm not even suggesting the balloon should be made from pink latex, even though there are obvious sponsorship possibilities there). So we have a long thin structure, pointing roughly skywards at all times. All that's needed is a way to get the spaceplane to launch up the side of that and it will automatically be headed upwards.

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Pete 2
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How to decide

Use the technique we have for CV selection.

Print out each design onto a separate sheet of A4. Throw them all up into the air at once. The luckiest design (or, in the case of CVs: applicant) is the one that lands on your desk. Pick that one.

Since you have no way of determining just by looking at the paper design whether it will "fly", you might as well pick one based on how inherently lucky it is. Since luck will play a heeee-ooooge part of the whole LOHAN project, you may as well get as much of it on your side as possible.

As far as using this method for job applications is concerned, there is some debate about it's efficacy. One school of thought is that the truly lucky applicants' CVs will land as far away from the selection zone as possible - thus minimising the chances that their owners would ever have to work for this organisation. In that case there's a conflict between the luck of the candidate and the luck of the employer. That's a quandry that has yet to work itself out.

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Can you handle LOHAN's substantial globes?

Pete 2
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The best counterweight

... would be another space-plane.

Not only does this double your chances of success (and the cost) but you don't have to worry about the effects of a counterweight sized thing plummeting to earth in the even the balloon's parachute doesn't play by the rules.

Plus, if the two planes' engines don't fire exactly simultaneously you have a nice bit of diversity in the trajectories.

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UK police warns off hacktivists

Pete 2
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Shades of grey

> The hackers all know what they are doing is illegal

True, but there are degrees of illegality. Is hacking a website (where the security is far too lax, akin to waling into a reception area and asking where the secrets are kept) on a par with dropping a sweet wrapper on a street or is it on the same level as shooting down a passenger aircraft? Is it _more_ illegal, or deserving a harsher penalty if the security is weapons-grade and it took nearly half an hour to crack?

At present there seems to be a disconnect between how the hackers view it I'd guess: somewhere between an abstract puzzle and minor transgression (no bunnies were hurt in the hacking of this website). Whereas any shareholders, who's stock took a dive would be less tolerant[1] - even if the puiblic viewed the target as a "bad" company <cough>BP, last year</cough> and privately thought: "go! hackers!". And if any harm was done to doe-eyed little orphans then the more rabid factions of the press would be campaigning to bring back hanging. Until we can reach a consensus it's impossible for a society to communicate just how we feel about hacking.

[1] though how blame should be apportioned between the hackers and the sloppy management that gave rise to a vulnerable taget is another debate. Maybe 50:50 is a good start, what one is sentenced to, the other (named individuals/managers/directors) should get, too.

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Belt and braces stop the network falling down

Pete 2
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Networks is hard.

The problem with specifying two of everything, or three of everything is that the duplicates or triplicates aren't really identical copies of the original. They won't have the same MAC addresses and they almost certainly won't have the same IP addresses as the "hot" or production systems. They probably won't have the same network config/routing as their peers and it's highly likely that some of them will have different firmware, too.

Because each component of a network has to be unique, testing a new network prior to roll-out, or even of reliably testing a change in anything resembling the production environment, is very difficult indeed - I don't think I've ever seen anyone do it successfully, despite what they say or claim. The differences, even with an identical cloned sandpit, may be so large (without production network loads and replicating *every* piece of kit in the production environment) that the testing adds very little value is prone to false alarms and merely doubles the cost and duration of every activity.

The best approach is to compartmentalise everything. So a fault in one segment doesn't have any effect outside it's local domain. We know this strategy works - just look how successful it was for the Titanic. After that, make changes slowly - one piece at a time. And yes there is no substitute for actually being there.

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Murdoch's PIE BOY jailed for six weeks

Pete 2
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How it breaks down

So that would be a couple of days for the pie and five and a half weeks for humiliating the government on prime time TV and showing their security theatre to be utterly ineffectual.

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Are you slaving away on the wrong projects?

Pete 2
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Isn't this the IT director's job?

As the name implies, they are there to direct. To strategise, to have the big picture, to know which direction the biz and the IT industry is headed. Most important of all, it's their first duty to be able to communicate the vision-thing to the minions and also to the shareholders.

If a project request doesn't come with director-level sponsorship, so it can be traced back to a corporate strategy somewhere, it's both reasonable and necessary to question its existence.

it's also the IT directors job to stay aware of shifts in high-level directions, innovations and project costs/progress (at least to the nearest million, anyway). So if a project does seem to be mired or directionless, the sooner the IT director grabs it by the 'nads and/or cans it, the better. That's what they're there for - it only takes one email, and it's why they get paid the big bucks.

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'There's too much climate change denial on the BBC'

Pete 2
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What we CAN agree on

ISTM what we have here is a room containing a group of men and women who don't realise they are blind, and possibly an elephant - or maybe it's a ravenous tiger - or maybe it's a cute little wabbit. Nobody is sure.

Everybody seems to be interpreting the situation according to what they, personally, want to believe.

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Pete 2
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Is it hot in here?

So far as climate change goes, the issue isn't whether the planet is getting warmer[1]. The arguments are about whether mankind needs to do anything about it and if so, what.

The problem with that is there are too many vested interests: from scientists who are paid from the grants they get to investigate (and who would be out of work if the answer turned out to be "no" and "none") and are therefore, themselves a dependent variable - through to companies that make an enormous amount of money (although money is really just a manifestation of expended energy) to create and then satisfy consumer demand based on the fear they generate - through to governments who have identified potential vote-winning strategies based the "yays" or the "nays", and will therefore cultivate those views for their own self-preservation.

All we can say is that historically, most research turns out to be wrong. Most commercial products turn out to be failures and almost every single government strategy turns out to be a monumental waste of time, money and effort. So whether climate change is something we should be concerned about - or not, there is no possibility that the forces at play right now are in any position to make clear, independent and unequivocal statements of degree, outcomes or remediation. At present it's just another religion.

[1] For a purely dispassionate answer, ask yourself: How many times in 100 years would you expect the statement "this is the warmest summer for 100 years" to hold true if temperature fluctuations were truly random. For extra points, find out how many times it HAS been true. What conclusion is drawn from this?

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'Missing heat': Is global warmth vanishing into space?

Pete 2
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A new conservation law?

The conservation of hot air.

The more pundits who go on about climate change, the more atmospheric heat is turned into chatter. The only problem is that after you change stored energy into speculation, you have to keep speculating. If the hype every died down, it would turn back into rising temperatures again.

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Film studios thrash BT in Newzbin site-block test case

Pete 2
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Bad news for water companies, too

Since they must know that their product kills people I can't see how they can now be permitted to keep supplying customers with a lethal product. Merely arguing that they have no knowledge of what "their" water is used for after it comes out the tap is obviously no excuse.

It's deadly and must be stopped.

Or is an unproven theory that some entertainment companies may, possibly, be losing an unknowable amount of money a more important factor than actual people drowning or dying in other water-related ways?

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Russia: 'We'll dump the ISS into the sea after 2020'

Pete 2
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Cheap, not old

> I think the Soyuz is older by about 5 years or so, and it seems pretty reliable!

And because all the design costs have been swallowed, it's quite cheap too.

Compare that with the scuttle. Not only is it expensive to build, but it costs a packet to service between each flight. That's what killed the concept: its high maintenance costs and long turnaround times.

In fact the shuttle has cast a long shadow over american space development. Even 40 years ago there were plans for much more fuel-efficient aerospike engines and better solutions than ceramic tiles as reusable heat shields. Sadly, projects like VentureStar were canned in order to keep the pork flying (remember: one mans efficiency saving is another mans unemployment).

If the right people had made the right technical decisions some time around 1970, there could now be a much cheaper space programme, regularly flying SSTOs to multiple in-orbit destinations - possibly even further. However, being a government run programme, there was never a need for efficiency or to incentivise good designs or innovation. The whole space programme was only ever about appeasement: either the population, the media, the aerospace industry or local politicians.

Now it's over.

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Improving service monitoring with Watermelon metrics

Pete 2
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Colourblind watermelons

> When your monitoring dashboard is a sea of green, but the phones are ringing and the directors are on your back, you have a watermelon problem.

You may just have a colourblind operator on duty. Seriously, this is probably the most easily avoidable design choice issue in IT. It's the single most common form of colour blindness and if you count CB as a disability, deliberately making your systems hard to use may even be considered discriminatory.

A lot of companies are, finally, starting to make their websites more accessible - though the increasing use of Flash doesn't help at all. Maybe it's time companies started to consider the access issues to their internal processes and tools as well. After all, if you care more about marketing to anonymous customers than you do to looking after your own employees, what motivation is for the workers to "care" back?

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Virgin Media sees 36,000 cable customers scarper in Q2

Pete 2
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Lock in

> If you dont have EVERY form of media / communications with them then they don't really make that much out of you!

Equally important, without all your metaphorical eggs in one basket case, it's far too easy for you to switch supplier/provider (as they are finding). It's only when they have both hands on your wallet that they'll feel confident enough to turn up the heat. Safe in the knowledge that these are the customers who won't or can't or don't know how to get away from them.

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ITV eyes micropayments for Corrie specials

Pete 2
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It's better than TV subscriptions

At least with this method you only pay for what you watch. With summat like Sky or Virgin your monthly subs are due no matter how much or how little of their product you watch. To put it another way, they charge the same whether they show good programmes or crappy ones. Think! which are cheaper? they're the ones that will be shown most.

By effectively having a pay-per-view setup, there is much more incentive to screen original, popular programmes than to stuff the schedules full of reality/soap/repeats/filler with one single new episode of a "blockbuster" per night.

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Microsoft's MS-DOS is 30 today

Pete 2
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All growed up

And now it's in version 7, with a nice little graphical bit tacked on the front.

"The Space Shuttle of operating systems"

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Hacking scandal starts to spread beyond News Corp

Pete 2
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Journalistic churn

Since there are only a small number of potential employers for a journalist from a national newspaper to go to when he/she/it changes job it seems to me that there is a huge potential for cross-corruption within the whole industry.

Everybody has been bored by the new recruit who constantly compares working practices at their new job with how things were done "when I was at ... we did ...." so as soon as one maggot leaves one rotten apple and joins another (possibly not-so-rotten) you can bet that apple is on the way to a sludgy mess, too.

I can't imagine that soon after an ex-NoTW journo joins another newspaper (and by newspaper, I really mean tabloid - who else would have them?) and starts bringing in "questionable" stories, the whole lot of them will be reading the Nokia users' guide, instructions for every answering machine known to man and eagerly asking their new "colleague" if they happen to know the names of any good private investigators who can help obtain some "difficult" information.

Since they're all under the same pressure to produce stories, none of them would permit a newcomer to monopolise a particular technique; no matter how dubious/illegal - especially when t'management turn a blind eye to the practices and lap it up as eagerly as the readers do.

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Legal expert: Letters can be evidence, so can Facebook

Pete 2
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Tamper

One big difference between a written, tangible piece of evidence such as those traditionally considered and an entry in a blog, or tweet is being able to demonstrate that the pattern of bits a lawyer wishes to put before a court are the same bits that the person actually wrote.

So while it's possible, if not easy, to determine if a written entry has been forged or altered that isn't necessarily the case with a piece of computerised evidence. For example, if the website in question passes stuff through a spell checker, or censor before publication - is that then what the person actually wrote? Also is the entry put before a court the final piece of work - complete with corrections, second-thoughts about the content and rewording/clarificatiosn, or is it merely one of the drafts that best supports whichever view the lawyer wishes to promote?

At best "evidence" from a website/forum seems to me comparable to evidence written in pencil: not permanent, easily altered (either before or after the evidence gathering process) and possibly only has the status of a doodle on a post-it, rather than a literary masterpiece from a professional letter-writer or diary-keeper, with the difference in intent and prior thought that goes into it.

If I was on a jury, I would definitely be highly skeptical of a FB entry presented to me as evidence. And if the evidence had been obtained from the prosecution using the owner's password to obtain it, I'd probably discount it unless the site itself could prove it was what the person had written and meant to have published.

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LOHAN: She's low orbit and helium assisted

Pete 2
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Orbit's fine

A landing (crash, splash, controlled, etc.) is merely an orbit that intersects the surface. No biggie!

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Beeb to fund ad-mungous Local TV for local people

Pete 2
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Never mind the quality

feel the bandwidth.

If the beeb have the odd £40 mil of our money just sitting around, why do they think spending it on an experimental local service is better for us licence fee payers, than using it to make some higher quality programmes for it's existing 9 TV channels?

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Rescue privacy before it vanishes forever

Pete 2
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Clarity

Maybe I didn't make myself clear.

You go to the FB home page. Where is asks you to log in, you enter one of your (registered) email addresses and the corresponding password, You are then in a FB account. You may, or may not choose to add friends to that account and you may or may not have used your real name (the FB rules say you should, but what exactly _is_ a name? Merely a tag - possibly one that a parent assigned to you). However, once logged into that account you can use it to validate an identity to register with other web services, as the original article described.

If you log out of that FB account and then log back into FB with a different email address that was registered to a different FB account, so far as their system is concerned you are a different person - even if you have used the same name as in the original account,

You don't need coffee shops, or VPNs and what an ISP does, makes no difference. The worst that FB might "think" is that two people are sharing the same computer. For convenience it may be easier to use separate browsers: Firefox, Opera, Internet Exploder, whatever Macs have, Dillo, etc. so you can keep the cookies and bookmarks separate,

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Pete 2
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Multiple personalities

Let me guess: you only have one single lousy email address and all your registrations go to that. So with only 1 email, you only have 1 FB account, only 1 twitter account and so on and so forth.

Quick tip: email addresses are free. Grab a handful. Get on Yahoo! and gmx and spamgourmet and all the others. Sign up for an account on all the social media sites from each email and then your webby footprints will be so diluted and diverse that there is no possibility they'll be traced back to your "real" account: the motherlode - unless you start being "friends" with yourself, but what you do in your own time is none of my business.

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End of an era: Atlantis hits the tarmac

Pete 2
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China and India

> They have no self-induced pride to save

Oh, I don't know. Given that this is their century (unless something goes dramatically wrong) I would suggest that a space presence would be a fitting manifestation - just as it was for the americans in their century.

It's also possible (probable?) that India and China, being the two most populous countries, will be the natural competitors for power, influence and raw materials. In which case a space-race might be a better dissipation of that competitiveness than warfare.

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Pete 2
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Not forgetting ...

The Russians (first in the game and still going strong), and the Chinese. Possibly coming soon to an orbit near you: India and maybe if they can sort out the internal squabbles ESA - though I kinda doubt it.

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STUDENTS EXPOSED in university IT blunder

Pete 2
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Saves them the trouble

> Information included dates of birth, mobile numbers, A level results and addresses.

Don't students voluntarily put all this and more on Facebook anyway?

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Complexity killed the IT quality of service ...

Pete 2
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Fixing problems that haven't happened yet

> I noticed a server that had this burnt solder smell to it

This is one of my continual bug-bears. What is the point of having tools (or noses) that detect *potential* problems, when all the business processes are intended to be reactive? In theory it's possible to raise tickets on predictions, but the priority is so low that they never, ever get addressed.

I am frequently able to detect and report bad things that WILL happen in the future. Whether it's disks filling up, batch jobs trending upwards over time, email response times slowing down or a multitude of other possibilities. However for most of these the support teams express no interest whatsoever. The reason is that to nurse a non-urgent change through the system takes a huge amount of time and effort, whereas an emergency change after a crash gets approved just like that <clicks fingers>.

So from an "efficiency" point of view i.e. doing the least amount of work, it's far better for the techies to wait for a failure (after all, it might not happen) and then look like a superstar by fixing it, rather than doing preventative work that takes time, but never gets noticed.

With outsourced systems it's even worse. Approach the support team with a "did you know disk X is about to fill up?" question and the best you can expect is that they'll ask you for your cost code, so they can investigate _your_ problem without paying for it themselves. We've pretty much given up trying to help these guys and now we just let their systems crash and burn.

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Pete 2
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The simple solution

The basic problem is that IT staff tend to only monitor stuff inside the datacentre - not the user experience. That might have been sufficient 20 years ago, but nowadays the only reasonable approach is to start with the users' experience and to work backwards from that.

The reason we have that situation is that the tools that come with most IT systems are really only designed for monitoring servers. Looking at a small number of parameters: CPU, memory, disk I/O and network traffic. Any dashboard is usually simply plopped on top of these metrics.

We tend to value what we measure, rather than measuring what we value.

In fact it's quite easy to do the right thing. Even better it can be done for free. Using packages such as AutoIt3 for windows or Tcl/Expect for Linux/Unix, it's quite feasible to measure response times that the users experience, or the times that queries they execute take to run. We've been doing that for a long, long time and it usually provides exactly the information needed, quickly and accurately.

With the proper analysis, it's possible to see quite small deviations from normal response times. Generally users are prepared to put up with quite a lot of pain before they'll pick up the phone to the Hell Desk and report anything, so with these techniques it's perfectly possible and practical to know before they report it that there's a problem looming.

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UK top cop: Coulson 'blindingly obviously' mixed up in hacking

Pete 2
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He's still "the man"

Apparently he has handed in his resignation, but is still the big cheese until a new top dog is appointed. He did make some sort of comment at the end of his turn in front of the committee to the effect that this would be his last appearance.

But he was still in charge at the time of his cross-examination, so it was appropriate to wear the uniform.

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Pick a winner: The Sarah Hunter Google competition

Pete 2
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You must NEVER publish this

Because if you do, in a couple of years time it will be adopted as the schools' science curriculum. A a few years after that, when those years' students become advisors to politicians it will become our national science policy.

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Yates of the Yard quits Met over phone-hacking scandal

Pete 2
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On reflection

Yes, I think you're right. They *could* be innocent but I that would surprise me even more.

Where are the political satire shows when we need them most?

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Pete 2
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Not enough

Presumably this is a simple case of deflection. By resigning, these guys are hoping that the prevailing opinion will be "well, they weren't proved to have done anything wrong and by resigning they have effectively punished themselves. So there's no reason to take this any further. Eh? What? Old bean? yes I'd love another G and T - what-ho!"

However, that ain't so. An innocent person would not fall on their sword. Two in as many days isn't "doing the honorable thing". It's a calculated attempt to minimise the damage - hoping that if they lay low, things will just blow over. Especially if the police can manage to drag their investigation out for 2 or more years. After all, you can't prosecute people while there's still an investigation going on - as the vested, establishment, interested keep telling us.

Maybe what we need is to put the investigation on hold. Prosecute some seriously deserving individuals, then restart the investigation to mop up the ones who were missed.

The tricky bit will be obtaining evidence. We found out from the De Menezes investigation that the police will all tell the same story (as they are allowed to confer before giving a statement - unlike ordinary people) and that they are willing to lie through their teeth to appear blameless in that story. We also discovered from the same investigation that it's highly unlikely that anything bad will happen to those involved. If killing an innocent person in cold blood doesn't give rise to jail time, what chance has a little police corruption got to punish the actual wrongdoers?

So, we have (so far) some high ranking officers leaving the force. We can't have any confidence in the police's ability or willingness to prosecute their own and we have an investigation that will nicely block any further legal action until at least 2013. On top of that, I suspect we have a cabal of politicians from all parties who have nothing to gain from turning over these particular stones, as whatever crawls out is as likely to bite them as anybody else. I would also expect that a lot of journalists and editors are also more than happy to drop this story as they, too, have nothing to gain and potentially a lot to lose from keeping it in the public consciousness.

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Blighty's top cop quits over phone-hacking scandal

Pete 2
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A new unit of measurement

I would like to propose the ARCHER as a measurement of (or lack of) integrity.

The big question that comes out of this whole NoTW, police corruption, political cosiness and influencing affair is how many people, and whom, would cause more that a flicker on the Archer-o-meter.

I have a suspicion that no matter how many people get banged up, a far greater number will be as guilty as hell - but were just better at covering up their crimes, or simply luckier at knowing who else to blackmail to keep themselves out of the limelight.

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Google: The one trick pony learns a second trick

Pete 2
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A modern day water dictatorship

If you're a ruler, the simplest way to keep the plebs under control is to give yourself (and enforce) the power to allot some vital resource. Someone does you a favour? Give them some more. Someone honks you off, cut off their supply.

We've recently seen Russia do this to some ex-USSR states and their supply of oil and natural gas.

In times gone by, the ruler used water as the subjugating force. Without it, crops died, farmers went broke, people starved.

The neat thing about this technique is that you don't need a large army or internal security force to keep yourself at the top of the pile. You only need enough power to control your resource and everything else follows from that. The bad thing is that because you don't have a strong army or defensive force, while you can control internal threats you are very vulnerable to external ones. An invading army will have little trouble taking over as what forces you do have are not used to conflict: they're used to people doing what they're told.

Historically, water dictatorships seem invulnerable when viewed from the inside but their fall is inevitable.

So it is with Google. They have a firm grip on the internet's jugular. They control who gets the eyeballs that makes the advertising pay the rent. They don't need to be competitive, or innovative. They just need to batter competitors to death with their giant wad - and if that doesn't work, turn off the eyeballs. However, as soon as someone comes along who is NOT dependent on advertisements or search hits they're screwed.

The question is who, what and when.

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Google turning us into forgetful morons, warn boffins

Pete 2
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But it's not practical to remember everything

... the access time would be too long.

Worse: you might end up forgetting something important, like how to speak, if that information got pushed out to make room for the names of the 1931 FA Cup final winners.

I'm sure that's how memory works - but I forget who told me so.

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Microsoft COO: Our greatest enemy is old Windows

Pete 2
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It's the lack of innovation wot dun it.

The question shouldn't be "why are people still running XP?" (fess: I am, and intend to continue to do so).

A better question would be "Why have we failed to induce them to upgrade?" and when I say induce, I don't mean coerce, force, threaten or demand. I mean provided new features in the new versions of XP (if this was linux, W7 would still be called XP 1.8) that would have people thinking "hey, that is really bloody excellent. I *must* have that - even though what I have now is perfectly adequate."

Now, that's not to say that other O/Ss have done any better. Apart from supporting newer hardware, fixing bugs and keeping up with the minor feature-tweaks in KDE/Gnome/whatever linux is still essentially the same old kernel and utilities and freeware that we've had to a decade or two, too.

So, why has Microsoft (and the various mutations of Linux) failed to provide any killer attractions in their new systems? I have no idea - though backwards compatibility, large installed base, poor internal culture and a focus on things that actually make money must be in the mix somewhere.

So until MS, or Ubuntu or some other bunch can come up with something that really, completely changes the rules on personal computing, I fully intend to keep running XP until the hardware fails, my virtualised environments won't support it any more, or OSX comes up with something I can't live without. So I reckon it's safe for another 10 or 20 years. Maybe XP really is all we need?

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Google's Facebook: It rocks, but who cares?

Pete 2
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Would suit me just fine

> it's not clear that a critical mass of people outside the tech world ...

A techie version of facebook. Hmmm?

The thing is, it doesn't have to be one or the other - though I can't see much overlap between the predominantly child-populated FB (and their stalkers, ref: an earlier story) and a more technologically literate G+ that offers a similar platform, but delivering a different product. Hell, you could probably make a compelling argument for an "adult" version of FB ... in fact that one may even make money.

So while G+ may not eat FBs lunch - or it may wither and die altogether, it provides an alternative. And one that doesn't come with the FB associations and baggage.

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Pete 2
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Just trust them

> what hope for Google+? None. Because there won't be any women on it

And how will you tell if a person you add to one of your circles is a woman - from what their profile says?

Try that in real-life and one day you may get a surprise!

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Many parents are only on Facebook to stalk their kids

Pete 2
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As for the rest

> 24 per cent of online Brit parents consider that the only reason to use Facebook ...

Presumably the other 76% are on facebook to keep track of their partners

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ISS and Atlantis crews face 'daunting' box-shifting job

Pete 2
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Double bubble

It may even be worse than moving stuff on earth. Not only do you have to apply force to start moving each package but you have to apply an equal amount of force in the opposite direction to stop it, once it gets close to where you finally want to put it. You also have to apply more force to change the direction it's moving - to get it round corners f'riinstance.

In space you can't just put it down when you get tired of carrying it.

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News International grabs SunOnSunday.co.uk domain

Pete 2
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It's just business

> has been effectively bullied into closing by shrill crowd of ill wishers.

Not quite.

Last year BSlyB made a profit of around £1Bn

Last year News International made a profit of about £20 Mil. - That's all thepapers in the group not just the NoTW

When it comes down to the bottom line, newspapers are irrelevant to Murdoch, it is likely he would sacrifice ALL OF THEM to get a shot at BSkyB.

In fact the only reason anyone in Britian would own a newspaper is for the vanity and political clout it bestows. You certainly wouldn't do it for the money. I can see that if this whole sorry affair results in the press (free or not) being cut off at the wotsits, then the attraction of being a newspaper baron will evaporate as well. Once that happens the value of newspapers will drop faster than Rebekah Thingy's popularity and they will just close - no matter how high their circulation.

'Corse once newspapers become obsolete, the value of a TV news channel sky-rockets (pun intended) for those who want power and influence but none of the responsibility. And TV News openings are much scarcer that printing presses.

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Pete 2
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> Well i can but dream.

There could be a better way.

Both the aussies and the 'merkins have laws against bribing foreign officials. I don't know about how it's done down under but apparently the yanks take it quite seriously and have concluded that nothing focuses a CEOs mind better than the prospect of jail time. As a consequence they are quite willing to, and have a history of, pursuing the top individuals personally - rather than just slapping a fine on the company.

In this case (so I've read, tho' can't recall where) News Corp. is an american company and NI is a subsidiary.Therefore they are both subject to this law. It won't wash on the phone hacking aspect, but could do on the police backhanders issue. Normally I'm against the british government's policy of outsourcintg our law enforcement, but in this case I'm prepared to make an exception. Hell, I'd even be happy to bung the prosection a fiver to help with their case, so long as that isn't interpreted as me trying to bribe a foreign official.

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Unix still data center darling, says survey

Pete 2
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So: Unix users use Unix (shock!)

And the ones that (still) use Unix are using more Unix.

Okaaaaaay. We generally recognise that a given number of techies can handle more Unix systems than Microsoft systems and that generally those systems are less prone to "problems" and can probably be run at higher average load factors, too.

But, this survey doesn't really give any information about the number of jobs in the Unix market. It makes it sound as if the increased number of installations in Unix shops _should_ give rise to more Unix techies, but if the number of places where Unix is still spoken has decreased (albeit with a rise in it's usage where the flame is still alight) then that doesn't bode well for the lovers of forward-slashes.

I would have gone to the original report to seek the answer, but all it did was cough some error about "TCPDF error: Font file not found" I wonder if the report was produced on a Unix box

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