* Posts by Pete 2

2389 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Schmidt bewails Blighty's boffin-v-luvvie culture clash

Pete 2
Silver badge

What kind of filter?

> "Without some form of filtering, we would drown in information. So the real question is, if not personalisation, what kind of filtering should we have?

Just a wild idea here. How about a filter based on FACTS, not opinions, biases, dogma, politics, religious belief, what some "personality" thinks or wishes. Since Google already has a ranking algorithm, would it be so hard to tweak it so that actual information is presented above conjecture, gossip, and celebrity.

The problem then is that Google takes the role of "Ministry of truth" (if it hasn't already) and gets to define what we believe.

1
1

What vegetables are best for growing in Spaaace?

Pete 2
Silver badge

fresh herbs?

So would they be including "recreational herbs" in the garden, too?

2
0

Seven lessons from the HP Touchpad fire sale

Pete 2
Silver badge

rule 0.

People will buy a "bargain" even if they never use it. (Cue the Monty Python sketch.)

If this tablet had gone on sale at $99 (or equivalent in the other 95% of the world) it would have been a minor success as "the cheap iPad". However the people who bought it would soon realise it's the I.T. equivalent of a wok. Something you can think of many uses for, but after the first couple of times, never get round to using again.

However, sell it for $hundreds off list price and suddenly the horde is scrambling for it. It'll still end up in the cupboard between the wok and the USB coffee mug warmer, but people are only buying it because it's a bargain - even without the piston engine.

7
3

Post-Jobs Apple: New research shows Cook will do fine

Pete 2
Silver badge

Three lucky guesses in a row

That's the standard definition of an "expert". The same can be applied to a CEO. So far as Jobs and Apple (more specifically, Apple's success with the iPhone/Pad) his three lucky guesses were:

- Make it look pretty. Every other phone was pushing function, features, battery life, cost, size or camera-pixels. Jobs went after the "I don't what it does, but I WANT ONE" market.

- Optimise profit per unit. When the rest of the bunch were chasing market share and making pennies per device, he bucked the trend and went for the high-end. That Apple could exploit that exclusivity, helped too.

- Its not really a phone. This was the biggie. Stevie-boy called it a phone to keep it familiar, but really it was a platform to make buying apps and content easier. It also made calls.

and a bonus, to achieve true super-hero status:

- Make people feel good about owning one. That means get it associated with success, make it visible on TV and in films (but only "good" films, of course), keep the name in the spotlight and squash any and all bad publicity.

So what should Jobs' successor do? Probably as little as possible is the answer. Apple and the i<thing> won't last forever. However the best way to hasten its demse is to mess with the successful formula. Don't introduce a cheap version, don't let the competition grab a share of the "cool" reputation, don't sacrifice "shiny" for production costs, keep up the hype with new models every year and never, ever let it become a commodity item.

So long as the new guy can resist the temptation to try and "make his mark" - the downfall of most post-messianic leaders' replacements - and just keeps playing the game, Apple's probably got another 5 or 10 years left before the maggots get it.

0
3

IDLENESS sees Brits haemorrhage cash to mobe firms

Pete 2
Silver badge

People value convenience over possible small savings

It sounds like Which? would have us spending all our time scanning the internet to search out deals that were lower in cost than what we're already paying. Fine. Some people are rate-tarts and will switch providers at the drop of a hat - or a penny off a tariff.

Many more, however are apparently satisfied with the service, phone, coverage and cost of their existing mobile phone and don't feel the need to waste hours in the pursuit of a deal that may be a little cheaper, may have more "small print", may require them to learn a new handset (when all they want to do is press a button and talk to someone), may not provide such a good service where they live/work and may balls-up the switchover and leave them stuck.

Let's face it, to the majority of people a mobile is merely a device that lets them talk to people. It's not the source for their entertainment, it's not a "lifeline" to the world, it's not a crucial part of their identity and it's certainly not a status symbol - it's just a phone: a minor annoyance, but occasionally handy to have around.

Which? also seem to be missing the bigger picture. These people, who are satisfied, actually subsidise those for whom price IS the overriding factor. If everybody chased the lowest cost deal, all the time, then phone company margins would drop. When everyone was on the cheapest possible tariff, all that would hapen is the phone companies would increase the cost of those tariffs for everyone - just to get their margins back. That would hurt those individuals who really, really needed to save 50p per month (though they'd save even more by not having a mobile - it's not a necessity; like food or rent - maybe someone should have a quiet word?) on their package, to the benefit of those who don't care much if their monthly bill is £60 or £75.

Where's the benefit to Which?'s low-cost chasing horde, then?

5
2

The Torvalds of Drupal pledges HTML5 mobile love

Pete 2
Silver badge

Drupal: It's about the modules

Basically, Drupal gives you the skeleton. Whether you dress that up to produce a Jennifer Lopez or a Bella Emberg depends on which modules you base your design on - and whether they can be persuaded to work properly.

Most Drupal modules are, let's say, pieces of hobby code - written by amateurs for their own reasons. When Drupal 7 was being prepped, there was a major initiative to house-clean and "certify" some of the most popular modules, in an effort to whip the Drupal world into some sort of shape. So while the number of modules that can claim some sort of association with some version of Drupal may well be in the 6-figures, the number "blessed" by drupal.org is an order of magnitude less than that. The number that are known to work with Drupal7 is a bit over 2,000.

However, there are probably less than a couple of hundred freely available Drupal7 modules that form the core of reliable, inter-workable and documented code that website designers reach for when creating a Drupal7 site. Even then, the knowledge of HTML, XML, CSS, PHP and a whole lot more alphabetti-spaghetti that you need to know, to get them customised for a professional standard website is huge. Worse: amount of expertise necessary to work out what the hell the previous web designer did, to produce the (undocumented - for they are ALL undocumented) website you're being asked to modify is nothing short of miraculous.

One would presume that to get the next incarnation of Drupal to spit HTML5 would require these modules to change hymnsheets and go through a rewrite process similar to the ones they did to attain Drupal7 standards. It will be interesting to see how many make the grade and how much work will be needed to cut a website across from Drupal7 to Drupal8 - even with all the redesigned needed for a mobile, postage-stamp-sized screen.

5
0

Performance monitoring is Someone Else's Problem

Pete 2
Silver badge

SEP? Not forgetting it's close cousin

Bistromathics

The sort of mathematical rules that come into play when you try to divide up a restaurant bill. No matter how you do it, it never tallies with the amount on the invoice.

The problem with performance management is that no matter how you do it, it always fails. You monitor all your services. Identify a bottleneck. Spend ££££'s to fix it. Sit back in the glow of a job well done. The phone rings and it's users complaining about the NEXT bottleneck, now that the original one has been relieved.

Bottlenecks are like traffic lights: as soon as you get past one set of delays, you get a little further and the next one gets you.

So the net gain of the ££££'s spent is a small, imperceptible and soon forgotten benefit - whereas the cost is a monkey on your back forever. Each time you ask for more money to fix a performance problem, the bean counters remind your boss that the last attempt didn't work, or was only effective for a few sort weeks. Even if you have the experience to say "ah ha! we need to fix not only the prima-face problem, but all the structural issues behind it" and propose a cost-case to do it, you usually find that the problem goes so deep, the costs are so high and the upheaval so intense that you don't stand a chance of getting it approved. Certainly not for the miniscule and intangible benefits you can only _estimate_ it will bring.

Even invoking the third law of project proposals: The higher the price, the greater the chance of success.

Experience has shown that the best way to deal with performance problems is to ignore them. Leave them until they either cause something vital to crash and burn OR that they start to affect the CEO's computer. (In that case, fix his/her's machine and maybe "have a quiet word" while you're in their presence.) However, to succeed in this strategy, it's vitally important that you do not have any responsibility for systems performance, capacity planning, service quality or any of the other buzzwords that could let someone legitimately ask "Why did you let this happen?". Provided you leave it long enough, and the performance melt-down is severe enough (and can be shown to be someone-else's fault) you can get practically anything you like to fix it - except, of course, a raise.

Just as with the restaurant and settling the bill, performance is something everybody has, but nobody wants to pay for.

4
0

99% of UK gov websites are breaking the law

Pete 2
Silver badge

Q: How can you break the law if you can't be punished?

If you fine a local authority, it's the council-tax payers who have to pay it. Councils don't have any money of their own: only the money they forcibly extract from people in their region. If some of that is taken away from them in fines, the local people (who paid it) either have to pay more to make up the shortfall, or suffer from reduced services.

The council itself is never made to suffer.

So to say that a number of councils are breaking the law, and that they could be fined because they haven't done some stuff about cookies on their websites, is meaningless. They won't suffer, even if they are found to be doing something illegal. Councils are not people: you can't anthropomorphise them and apply "punishments" or "rewards" as you would to a naughty child. As an organisation, not a person, they are immune to punishment. Consequently trying to apply laws to non-people is ineffective.

The best you can do is ask nicely, "if they oh-so wouldn't mind terribly if they might (when it's convenient) please, have a little look at doing something about all the cookies their websites push out - no pressure at all. Thank you all, very much indeed." The answer, as with everything a council is asked (nicely or not) to do is that it will cost money and need more people - in a time when they have to cut costs and staff. So again: just as with paying fines, it's the tax-payers who get stuffed with the compliance costs.

4
1

Ultra-cheap HP TouchPads to hit UK at 6pm

Pete 2
Silver badge

But what does it do?

It's all very well having one of these. But apart from fondling it, using it as a frisbee or putting it on the mantlepiece as an ornament; what can you actually do with it.

It won't get any upgrades or fixes. It had hardly any apps for the webOS wotsit-thingy that it runs and nobody's going to write any new ones for it.

Now if some enterprising enterprise (or individual) was to port iOS to it, then I reckon $99+VAT would be about the right price for a slab of fondling.

0
1

Marriage makes women get fat, divorce does same to men

Pete 2
Silver badge

Think of the children

> Getting married puts women at risk of piling on the pounds

So it's got nothing to do with having children after getting married and being unable (or not incentivised) to return to a pre-childbearing weight after the sprog appears?

0
0

LOHAN rival to inflate bulging orbs with hydrogen

Pete 2
Silver badge

H2 or He makes little difference

The key is tha amount of buoyancy a given volume of gas provides, not the absolute density of the gas, itself. Air weighs about 1kg per cubic metre. He weighs a lot less (about 1/20th from memory) and Hydrogen about half of that. So the difference in buoyancy between using Helium and Hydrogen is NOT a factor of two (the difference between their densities). It's the difference between their buoyancies, which for He would be about 0.95kg/m3 and 0.98kg/m3 for H2 - that's is a difference of a few percent, or in scientific units: bugger all.

2
0

Hardware-happy HP has swallowed a Sun death pill

Pete 2
Silver badge

at the very height of its success ...

At which point the CEO turns the growth chart the right way up, mutters "oh crap" and gets on the phone to his broker ... then his lawyer ... then the first flight to anywhere

1
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Still printing money?

Presumably their printer business (last heard of: about 25% of their value) is still raking it in. As is the printer INK biz, which weight-for-weight must be as profitable as drugs - but, strangely, still legal, for all its abuses.

11
0

Average sozzled Brit sinks 5,800 pints during life

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: 2 pints a week

What about those (the _other_ gender/sex) who don't drink pints? Presumably they are the balance for a lot of the wine and liquor(???? do they mean liqueurs? sweet, alcoholic drinks like my granny knocks back?) and maybe even some of the cider. Swap it around a bit and you're up to a more "respectable" 4 pints a week

0
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Sounds like money well spent

Since the alternative is having to listen to other peoples' boring stories while sober.

8
0

Man builds gadget to silence annoying TV pundits

Pete 2
Silver badge

Pah! Had one of these for ages

It's even built into the remote control. There's a little red button (obviously completely unknown to people who continuously complain about TV programmes: "I've just watched the third episode of .... and it's still rubbish") that immediately removes both sight and sound of any annoying individual from the TV. Even better, it saves electricity while doing so.

I think this device is revolutionary - it's certainly changed the way I watch TV and I'm recommending it to all my friends. There's even a handy feature on DVR's - they can be set to record programmes you don't like and play them when you're not in.

Personally, I've never watched a programme I don't like. If I don't like it, I don't watch. Why's that so hard?

10
1

Dob in suspect blingy neighbours on Facebook, say cops

Pete 2
Silver badge

@Ru

> You did know that, right?

Which is why I drew the distinction in the first place.

0
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Are looters the new paedos?

It looks like the british people can only hate so many groups at any one time (much to the annoyance of the Daily Wail, who's sales would be much higher if there was no limit). So given the amount of venom being pointed at looters, does this mean some other group has to be bumped off the pariah's list?

Leaving aside the people (they really shouldn't be blessed with the term "rioters", that implies there was a principle at stake) who started fires and caused damage: smashed up shops, broke windows, vandalised the streets, it'll be interesting to see whether the hate being directed towrards looters can be extended to shoplifters. After all the only real difference between the two is that one steals goods when the shops are open and the other when they're closed.

0
1

Google's Moto move spells iPhone doom

Pete 2
Silver badge

Who buys Android devices?

> Second, it's critical to remember who buys Android devices versus iOS devices: kids buy Android ("It's cheap!") while adults largely buy iOS ("Pricey, but it makes me cool with the other soccer dads!"). Guess which group will be buying devices long into the future?

You jest, surely?

My (admittedly slight) experience of the market is that i<products> are bought by people who like the style and feel this is an important part, or the MOST important part of owning a phone/tablet. Those people tend to the 20-somethings, singles who have plenty of monkey, or children who have wheedled one out of their parents. For the rest, most adults just don't have the time or inclination to need, want or use most of the features of an i<thing>.

Sure, I've got a smart phone (Android). Do I use any of it's features? Not in the slightest - it makes calls and that's all I want. Why did I get one? Simply because when my last contract expired, Android phones were the same monthly price as my old phone, so all the "smart" stuff was essentially free.

Would I have have paid for any of it? No, since I don't use it, it has no value to me. I would suspect most adults who have grown out of bragging about their possessions are in the same position: offer extra features at no extra cost and they will say "what the hell, I'll take it". Call it a value-add and bump up the price and they'll leave it on the sales counter.

1
2

Wikipedia: It's not for girls

Pete 2
Silver badge

Sex? gender? What about the other two?

Yes, the *first* definition (according to my OED) of gender is a technical term used in grammar. However the next definition is the property of belonging to such a [gender] class and the colloquial third definition is "a person's sex".

Also, regarding your examples. I think a fair few people will agree that spoons (no sex at all) does often lead to sex. Which is really what I wanted to steer the post around to.

7
1
Pete 2
Silver badge

If you ever want a new job ...

> I don't care that you need a double-overhead ooja wotnot to cover my flange-vibrating baboon monkey nut wrench splurch capacitor or that a double 5 inch wotnot, thingy doodah fits into a rotary, mucsle pulsing castle-nut splat-box!

There's a senior mechanics position just waiting for you at my local "%£^&*$*($(" main dealership - they don't know the square-root of sod-all about mechanical things, either.

1
1
Pete 2
Silver badge

Doesn't exist

Well I checked Wikipedia for an article called "Male bias in articles" and got the response: "The page "Male bias in articles" does not exist"

Should we therefore assume that since Wiki doesn't have an article for it, it doesn't exist?

6
0

Google SHOCK! Snaps up Motorola phone biz for $12.5bn

Pete 2
Silver badge

A new "Oracle buys Sun"?

Software company buys hardware manufacturer - and we all saw how well that went for Sun.

By Bye Moto

1
5

Bloody Moon stuffs the Perseids

Pete 2
Silver badge

Standard rules for astronomical spectacles

In roughly most-to-least likely order

1) It will occur during daytime

2) It won't be visible in this hemisphere/latitude

3) It'll be cloudy - as usual

4) The full moon will obscure it

5) Light pollution will render it invisible (unless you live in the wilds of Scotland/Wales, then see #3)

6) It'll be the night of your child's school play (they're in the lead role)

7) You'll be stuck underground/in a basement/in jail

8) You'll be looking in the wrong place

9) Or on the wrong night

10) You'll be struck blind just prior to the event

11) You'll forget to take your sunglasses off and miss it all

12) It coincides with Armageddon and you're too busy worrying about that.

4
0

The IBM PC is 30

Pete 2
Silver badge

Lucky they didn't quote boot times

... it would probably embarrass the majority of brand new W7 PCs being sold today.

1
0

Google lands patent for, um, estimating shipment time

Pete 2
Silver badge

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]

2
0

Q: Why do defenders keep losing to smaller cyberwarriors?

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

2
0

Essex cops slaps cuffs on social media riot crusaders

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

1
1

Prime Minister recalls holidaying MPs after London riots

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

4
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

10
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

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?

1
0

Tottenham MP calls for BlackBerry Messenging suspension

Pete 2
Silver badge

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?

10
0

LOHAN team buried under ballockets

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

1
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

3
0

Can you handle LOHAN's substantial globes?

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

3
0

UK police warns off hacktivists

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

0
1

Belt and braces stop the network falling down

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

0
0

Murdoch's PIE BOY jailed for six weeks

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

26
0

Are you slaving away on the wrong projects?

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

1
0

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

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

0
0

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

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

2
1

Film studios thrash BT in Newzbin site-block test case

Pete 2
Silver badge

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?

7
1

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

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

0
0

Improving service monitoring with Watermelon metrics

Pete 2
Silver badge

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?

0
0

Virgin Media sees 36,000 cable customers scarper in Q2

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

4
0

ITV eyes micropayments for Corrie specials

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

0
1

Microsoft's MS-DOS is 30 today

Pete 2
Silver badge

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"

5
11

Hacking scandal starts to spread beyond News Corp

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

1
0

Legal expert: Letters can be evidence, so can Facebook

Pete 2
Silver badge

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.

3
0

Forums