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* Posts by Pete 2

2315 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

A budget phablet, what a curious thing: Reg puts claws to the Lumia 1320

Pete 2
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Nice but dim

The photos are good, but the biggest problem I have with my phone is the total inability to see the preview screen when outdoors and therefore to frame the shot.

Sure, you can stand there with the phone in one hand and use the other as a sun-shield, hoping you can press the photo button with your thumb whilst neither shaking the camera nor dropping it. Better would be a low tech solution: simply for the camera makers to drill a hole right through the phone's case: front to back that a photographer could peer through, just like "old fashioned" viewfinders. However the ultimate, which I'm still waiting for, would be a screen that combined the non-reflectivity of a black hole with the eyeball-searing brilliance of british sunshine (yeah, I'm kidding) so that you could actually see the image you were about the commit to posterity before you took it - and if the screen then provided DSLR-like data regarding what the sensor was seeing, being able to see that would be nice, too.

So while we still have screens that are too dim and too shiny to see in daylight, I can't see the need to upgrade. However many megapixels a new camera (that makes phone calls, too) can boast about.

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Amazon turns screws on French publisher: Don't feel sorry for Hachette, it's just 'negotiation'

Pete 2
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Power corrupts

... and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Let's face it: in the markets they operate, Amazon reigns supreme. Not merely dominant but in total control of the who, what, where, when and how much. So for a company in that position to say

"a legitimate negotiating tactic"

when the victim of it's negotiating is so powerless brings to mind all the "tactics" used by Standard Oil to suppress competition and maximise profits, at the expense of everyone it dealt with, 100 years ago.

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Fat-fingered admin downs entire Joyent data center

Pete 2
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Re: Jheez, poor bastard. :\

> And the way to see who is a good sysadmin from a bad is if he admits that he screwed up or tries to blame someone else.

Maybe. But the mark of a truly excellent (ahem!) sysadmin is that he / she gets the problem fixed before anyone else notices.

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Pete 2
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Treating the symptoms, not the disease

Unfortunately, this¹ is exactly what most companies do when faced with this sort of issue. They say "oooh, the <command> is far too powerful - let's remove it, or require an operator to get approval from the change board before it's used in future"

Although Joyent have said they are instigating a full investigation, they will find that their system has so many fundamental holes designed in that fixing them all will require not only a total re-write, but a complete redesign of their software and operational practices. A prospect that is likely (considering how poor the whole discipline of system design is) to introduce as many new problems as it fixes.

So ultimately I fully expect the expedient solutions to be applied: an extra layer of checks that will slow down operations and make life for operators even more exasperating (such as an "are you sure" dialog after every command) and will soon become ineffective due to the pressures of getting stuff done (a 10% decrease in operational effectiveness is never paid for with a 10% increase in staff numbers) and management cuts.

[1] yes, satire: I get it

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Pete 2
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Not forgetting ...

that whoever is sitting across the table from you will need a beverage with many of the same properties - but not necessarily beer flavoured ;)

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Pete 2
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Everything that 1960's SciFi "promised" us (and more)

> what tech do you want that industry does not deliver?

Natural language AI (that doesn't need a shopping trolley for the batteries)

Screens that can be viewed in sunlight

Electric vehicles that are as good as petrol for range and speed

Cheap solar power

TVs that "know" what programmes I like and will record them all for me

Room temperature superconductors

Fusion

One remote that controls *everything* (no, not a Logitech Harmony)

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Capacity planning: How to plan ahead and keep your Oracle database healthy

Pete 2
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Yesterdays problem

If you look at such esteemed techniques as ITIL you will see that they provide for a whole host of Capacity Planning processes. As it is with all methodologies that come from government sources (and are recommended by external consultancies), ITIL assumes that your organisation has an infinite amount of IT resources at its disposal. All of whom are flexible, helpful, knowledgeable, do what they're told, always have time for the odd meeting or 10 and accept the findings of others with respect and instant compliance.

However, capacity planning is based on the notion that computing kit is expensive compared to a person's time and that it makes sense to have teams of people poring over RMF reports and trying to squeeze that last MIPS out of the mainframe.

These days, nothing in IT (leaving aside the downtime on a major national retailer or bank - which is usually down to software cockups or hardware failures) is as expensive as the people who run it. Nothing at all. Hence the days when CP could "earn its pay" by forecasting growth, performance, response times, limitations, bottlenecks and when to add that next Gigabyte (yes, 1000 MB) of storage are long gone. At yer average cross-charge rate, slapping in another 1 TB disk is about as expensive as your senior team leader taking an hour for lunch. So when the question arises: should we add more memory, or more disk space, or more processors? then the cheapest solution is to just answer "yes" and get on with it.

Even if you don't need the capacity right that minute, you will do: soon enough. And SSDs have now removed (provided your systems architect has more than John Innes number 3 between the ears) the I-O limitations that used to plague database performance, even a few years ago. Though the inefficiencies of software production will soon use up all the benefits that SSDs, gigabit networks and 256GB of RAM can provide to servers.

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Facebook exec: I HATE the INTERNET and I REALLY hate journalism

Pete 2
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Gets no argument from me

I did once (once!) find myself on Buzzfeed's website - not in a Google searchy sort of way, I just navigated there through ignorance (or was it cat-killing curiosity?). Yik! I felt the need to wash my hands, disinfect my computer and trash my monitor: as they must all have been contaminated by it's awfulness. A feeling I haven't had since I accidentally clicked on a Daily Mail link.

However the question of "who is to blame" is harder to answer. In the first instance, a lot of blame must fall on the editorial staff and their willingness to commission and publish the stuff they do. But, looking deeper, they wouldn't be on that Road to Hell if there weren't people willing to read it, or at least get caught by the clickbait-counters that determine the advertising revenue that will accrue.

One would hope that these things are merely an aberration of a still-experimental internet, and inexperienced users who haven't yet worked out what it is that they want from the web. Whether that will turn out to be the case, or if this is the sort of stuff that's here to stay and will grow (like Japanese Knotweed) is difficult to say. Luckily it is easily avoided and here at least: once bitten, twice shy.

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Spotify boasts 10 million paying subscribers ... Um, is that all?

Pete 2
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Re: Happy to pay

> Worse than the freetard is the insultingly-low-offer-tard...

It makes no difference. As they have no intention of honouring "Unlimited", whatever the price their subscribers pay.

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Pete 2
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Happy to pay

> a fiver for the Unlimited package

provided it is actually unlimited.

I.e. no limitations

which means:

no volume constraints

no time limit

no speed cap (but since my internet speed *is* capped we'd have to work something out.)

no later changes to the Ts & Cs

In fact, for that, I'd even be willing to go up to £6. No, not per month. Six QUID. period.

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BT and Neul ink gov-funded deal: Milton Keynes to be test bed for Internet of Stuff

Pete 2
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> Always best to find the solution before defining the problem.

And there lies the path to corporate success. Just like it's always best to define the target after you take the shot.

(errr, yeah, that's what I was aiming at!)

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Pete 2
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A rubbish network

> networked bins which signal when they need collecting

Not that anyone will take any notice: "Oooh, look. The bin at number 23 is full. Quick! send a rubbish truck round immediately to empty it."

Since councils ignored all their residents when they unilaterally decided to empty bins every 2 weeks (whether they stank or not), rather than every week, the chances of them using this technology to improve the service is as likely as the urban foxes these over-full bins / bags / boxes [ delete according to which dumb scheme your council randomly selected ] attract taking the rubbish to the tip, themselves.

Much more likely is the oft-suggested scheme of charging people (a second time: on top of the council tax already paid to empty the bins) according to the quantity of refuse.

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China to become world's No 1 economy. And we still can't see why

Pete 2
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Come a rainy day

> It would seem the majority of Chinese save 50% of their income (IMF 2010).

> I don't see that in the West.

From what I have read, the reason people in other countries save large proportions of their pay is not due to sound, prudent, financial disciplne. It's due to the lack of a welfare state. If you fall ill, get pregnant and/or become old and infirm and need some expensive healthcare, there is no NHS to heal you for free - you'd better have the readies errr, ready. Same with retirement: pension? Nope. Same with losing your job: no dole until you find another one - you either live off your savings, sponge off your relatives or stand on the street corner with your hand outstretched.

So all that money that citizens of some countries save is merely the flip side of paying less tax for a state-supplied safety net. It's necessary, rather than wise and anyway: savings are simply deferred inflation. So when all that cash does get spent, as people age and leave work - look out for large price rises in their economies.

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Pete 2
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Re: Delusions and Dreams. An Economic Know-Nothings in the FT

> Why China will implode

It's worth noting that the guy who wrote this (an amercian ex-politician from the Regan era) was a key official in raising the US debt from under $100 Mil. to over $2 Tn in the space of 5 years. So I guess he knows something about huge government debt.

Nowadays, he spends his time writing this sort of (IMHO) shrill, puff-pieces for right-wing publications in the US.

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Pete 2
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It's a numbers game

> we're no closer to understanding why China is doing so well

A quick count will give you the answer. Pretty dam' close¹ to 1.4 BEEEEELION people, and up by 36 MEEEEELION in the past year.

Compared to the USA's 320 Mil who are pricing themselves out of world markets.

Better start picketing for schools to dump teaching French in favour of Putonghua (and Hindi, if you want them to be truly multi-lingual) if your kids are to make anything of themselves in the next 50 years.

[1] http://www.worldpopulationstatistics.com/population-of-china-2014/

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Web firms, DON'T PANIC: The Euro Google 'right to be forgotten' isn't a problem

Pete 2
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Re: Just needs one test case

> So if BBC news says your a paedophile ... then it's just hearsay and is inadmissible

I really hope so - as I'm not (and never have been) - though it would make a lawyer very rich, if it did. Plus, I don't believe there has ever been a situation where something reported by any news media has ever been presented as evidence. It's obviously not - and places that decide guilt or innocence require much higher standards than "I read it in the Daily Mail" [link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI ] and will only ever refer back to the primary source as an acceptable account of events or facts.

So yes: anything that is on the web should be treated as suspect, as its source is second-hand (hence: hearsay, not from a primary witness or victim) and we know that people post the most exaggerated accounts, can have their websites hacked and often get stuff wrong and repeat things that are either incorrect, out of date or simply illegal.

The problem would be that there are many ways around "reporting", such as reporting that <someone else> said the things we wish to promulgate or crediting it to "a reliable source" and then claiming press immunity.

But the principle stands: there is so much misinformation, so many lies, factual errors, misunderstandings and misreportings on the web that it would be good to have its legal status downgraded to something akin to inadmissible.

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Pete 2
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Just needs one test case

If only we could get a legal precedent that classifies everything on the internet (whether search results, web content, forum chatter or social media in its entirety) as being "hearsay" and therefore inadmissable, wouldn't that solve a lot of the problems of companies and individuals taking action merely on the basis of stuff they find on the web.

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350 DBAs stare blankly when reminded super-users can pinch data

Pete 2
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Re: Rouge DBA...

Is that one who makes-up after going rogue?

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Pete 2
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What IS surprising ...

> The report says staff can cause more damage to organisations than external attackers.

... is how little abuse there is.

Given that any sysadmin worth his / her / its salt can do pretty much anything and not be detected, or that they can hack the detection to cover their tracks, why is there so little advantage taken of this ultimate power?

Apart from the oh-so-boring opportunities to sell state secrets to the baddies (or to give them away to the good guys, depending where you work), almost all the naughtiness we experience is some twerp somewhere selling lists of email addresses for the price of a beer.

Where's the wholesale reading of the CEO's email to warn of future restructuring

Where's the "checking" of the finance department's databases for insider trading gains?

Where's the planting of nasty pictures on the boss's computer to get the promotion when they are arrested and jailed?

How come so few disaffected fire-ees don't "take out" that one single, critical machine when they are let go?

Surely someone must have considered adjusting their HR file to improve their company image?

I don't believe that every instance of IT badness gets discovered, fixed and the perpetrator then gets kicked out without a fight. Apart from anything else, some industries are legally obliged to report incidents of fraud. So are we really such an honest lot, that everyone plays nicely. Are we all so afraid of being caught, that even thinking of stepping out of line makes us break out in a sweat. Are we all so good at doing these things that none are ever caught and sanctioned.

I find all of those possibilities equally implausible. So the only alternative (almost as unlikely) is that we're all quite happy with our lot and don't seek additional gain, promotion, revenge or professional advantage. That would surely make IT the most honest group of professionals in the world.

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Brits to vote: Which pressing scientific challenge should get £10m thrown at it?

Pete 2
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A warning, not an incentive

As the article points out, the original guy got screwed out of his rightful prize.

So if the same level of honour holds with this prize, any right-thinking contestants should be very wary of taking part. And especially careful about handing over any intellectual property to the body running the competition.

Plus, in this day and age, you'd think there would be "Dragons" lining up to bung the odd 10-mil. at any individual or research outfit that could come up with anything like a half-workable solution to any of these issues.

The question then arises: is this a bona-fide "let's give science a helping hand"? Or is it merely some publicity for the organisers and the hope that (as with most commercial competitions) the value of the submitted entries far outweighs the benefits that the lucky winner will walk away with. If it's the latter, it's probably harming science, rather than helping.

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Picture special: LOHAN makes fire in the sky at 15,000m

Pete 2
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Light my fire

> got a trio of rocket motors to go bang

Meh, the russians can do that as well. Maybe their PROTONs need more gaffer tape, too.

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Welcome to Heathrow Terminal, er, Samsung Galaxy S5

Pete 2
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Link your brand with confusion and stress?

One third of all traffic through Heathrow airport (in reality, probably only 1 sixth of passengers, as they count as a landing and a takeoff), we are told, are in transit. That is they catch a plane, change at Heathrow and fly off somewhere else. No tourism in the UK, no hotels, no spending money here (apart from getting mugged by the prices in the airport itself): just in - wait - out.

So for these people all they want is to get off one plane and find out where to go to catch the next one. If their english ain't great, and the directions to the terminal for the flight out seem to indicate you'll be flying on some sort of smartphone, will that really instill confidence and ease, or will it be a WTF moment?

Guilt by association is never a clever ploy. To constantly remind travellers of the terrible time they had, wandering around LHR trying to find their terminal, every time they see an advert for Samsung doesn't sound like great marketing. I wonder it it's really Apple who are paying for this renaming exercise? Could Sammy pay for the tax office to be renamed Her Majesty's Apple Revenue and Customs in retaliation.

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Job for IT generalist ...

Pete 2
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Re: Act Appropriately Up To the Cxx Level...

When I "act appropriately at the Cxx level" it means a combination of things.

First of all: suit and tie. Imperative. Plus it saves a lot of time. (A modest, tailored, skirt/jacket if you prefer) Instead of having to spend the first 20 minutes of any meeting establishing your credentials, being dressed for the part and having "a firm handshake, a certain look in the eye and an easy smile" means you have at least 30 seconds to tell them something they need to know, before their attention wavers or their phone rings.

Second: listen.

Third: listen some more. This is more a sign of showing respect. If you've prepared properly, you will already know what they will say to you.

When you do speak, speak slowly. Use business terms (but never cliches you picked up from buzzword-bingo). Never, ever, make the person you're talking to feel stupid or insecure. Always explain everything - you don't get to be CxO by being stupid, so they pick stuff up quickly if it's in their interests to. So make it in their interests.

Leave your phone behind or switch it off. The chances of the caller being more important that your audience is almost zero.

Finally: know why you have gone into that meeting and know what you are going to ask for after you've made your pitch. The primary goal of the meeting is to tell them something to their advantage. Your goal is to get what you want. If you aren't asking for anything, there's no point being there. When you do ask, don't apply pressure - try to give them as much warning as you can (maybe a comment right at the start) and don't drop any surprises on them.

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Pete 2
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Bridge the gap

There is an almighty gap between management and technical staff. In large companies the rift can be so big that the two camps have little in the way of communication, no trust or even a basic understanding of what the other guys do.

That's where you come in. As someone with a foot on either side of the divide, you can act as a translator between tech-speak and management-speak, arbitrate technical requirements that are clearly impractical, explain management strategies that appear nonsensical and be each side's "trusted friend and ally" in the common battle to get stuff done.

One day you might be explaining in business terms to the CIO why he/she/it needs to spend £100k on a new storage array and the next you could be telling the developers why their pet project is doomed to fail and they need to focus on testing the new products instead.

The big problem is that most companies have their heads inserted so far ... , that they can't recognise the need for such a person as yourself. Both sides are firmly convinced that they are right, if only "those idiots could see what we are doing" and neither side has any respect for the other's point of view. You need an "in" which would probably only come from a (social) networking contact, rather than through an agency - which would be blind to this sort of role. You also need a direct (if "dotted") line to a C-level person, so I suggest you take up golf, too.

As for a job title: Recto-Cranial Removal Specialist might work.

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WORLD LOSES MIND: Uber valued at TEN BEEELLION DOLLARS, Pinterest pegged at $5bn

Pete 2
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Re: None of these sums of money are real, right?

Spot on.

If you took all the shares in Uber, or FB or any of the other internet "bubble" companies and said "right, who'll give me $10 billion?" you'd get exactly no takers. These ludicrous valuations are based upon someone, or some consortium somewhere bunging the company maybe 8 or 9 digits and taking a percentage slice in return. The media then say "oooh, if 1% was sold for $100mil, then the whole company MUST be worth .... carry the 1 ... $10 billion!!!" Until the next round of financing when someone else takes another 1% and only pays $50mil - then the headlines read: "Uber loses $5 Bn off its valuation".

p.s. Maybe the cabbies have all clubbed together to buy it?

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Pete 2
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Fare's fair

> in talks for funding that would value the startup at an astronomical $10bn

Sounds like they took the investors on the long route "to avoid the traffic"

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Who's going to look after the computers that look after our parents?

Pete 2
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Re: Why not work?

The thing about having local employment is that it pushes up property prices. If there are jobs, people will move to the area to take them. If there are no jobs, house prices drop - or become affordable, if you prefer that description.

However, there *will* be work available: the community will create the demand. It just won't be heavy industry. For example, there will be demand for a lot of caring professions: ones that are not traditionally very highly paid. So by making these communities in otherwise remote locations, those carers who chose to move to the area won't be priced out by higher-paid employees who would pay more to buy or rent in the area.

There is also a lot of scope to create brand-new sorts of jobs. Again, specifically tailored to the needs of the communities. As well as the usual sorts of services: gardeners, plumbers, decorators, meal deliveries that the elderly are less likely to "DIY", there may be a need for a "nice young man" (!!!) sort of job. One where a person (not necessarily a man) could pop over and in exchange for a couple of quid, could open that jar, get a box off the top of the wardrobe or do "that thing with the computer to make it work again". Do 40 or 50 of those 1 minute, unskilled, tasks in a day could be a nice little earner in a low pay/low cost location. Those sorts of jobs are only viable if there is sufficient demand for the services (or products) offered. In traditional mixed-population towns and cites there isn't the density of individuals needing them to make those tailored jobs attractive. But in a specific community of elderly people, providing it is large enough, a "nice young man" could make a living from it.

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Pete 2
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Social, not technical changes

People "invented" cities because they are efficient. You get more done per person in a city, there is a greater density of people and a greater density of business and a greater density of innovation. There is also a shorter distance to travel to get what you need (which is just as well, as traveling in a city is pure hell).

So what do the elderly need? Yup! their own cities. But cities, or more likely communities of a few hundred or thousand homes, that are designed just for them. Ones that don't have cracked and uneven paving slabs. Ones that don't need the infrastructure of jobs and schools to be built as well. Ones where the supermarkets don't have aisles and aisles full of babies' nappies and cosmetics - but instead have products and layouts tailored to the wants and needs of the over-70's. And of a scale where it won't take all day to get from one end to the other. And cities that don't have steps, stairs, slopes or a maze of twisty little passages, all the same. Possibly even having the streets colour-coded and homes and shops with entrance doors that don't need Harlequins' scrum to push open, oversized signage and house numbers and are visible from the road for those with less than 20-20 vision (or even proximity detectors that announce the address as you approach.

Provided you can persuade the elderly to vacate their 3-bed detached houses in the 'burbs (that are now worth £1million apiece) without the stigma of "going into a home" or losing their independence, a properly designed community would allow all their carers, supervisors, specialised medical facilities, media and social centres to be focussed locally, suppliers and service to be adjacent and with others around them with similar interests, common problems and outlooks the place could thrive.

The only difficulty would be for those outside the community, who'd have to find someone else to act as babysitters.

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EFF blows Snapchat a raspberry in gov't surveillance report

Pete 2
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Pretty rank

> issued its fourth annual ... report, ranking internet companies

Another self-appointed outfit giving the world the benefit of it's arbitrary opinion in an exercise of self-publicity.

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Surprise! Google chairman blasts EU's privacy ruling

Pete 2
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Re: Forget-me-not - Not!

> the contrasting right of free speech (of google)

Google (Inc.) is a company. There is no "right of free speech" for anything except people - and even for people, everywhere, that right is strictly limited.

There are, however, many aspects of freely available information that are in the public interest to be available. I would suggest that as long as the Rehabilitation of Offenders act is adhered to (some offences can be ignored after a given period - a "right to be forgotten" enshrined in law), that a person's serious criminal activity (i.e. not littering or similar), once proven, was in the public interest to be searchable.

However lapses of judgement, bad luck or accidental events: such as being in debt, drunken selfies or the like aren't really that serious (if embarrassing) and shouldn't be removable. Though I can see a strong case for _anything_ done, said or posted in childhood being forgotten automatically. We have all done silly things in our youth. We don't need reminding of them.

The difficulty is that the RoO act was written before the internet and this sort of thing seems to be a case of the internet (well: Google) being unwilling to catch up with our laws.

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Be the next tech hotshot – by staying the hell away from regulators

Pete 2
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The small, the big and the ugly

> leave people to get on with things and they'll tend to get them sorted out.

That works well at the "small business" level. Where there are lots (well, OK: a few) companies that are evolving: some will succeed and flourish, some will fail and some will mutate into something else. Early Silicon Valley startups would be prime examples. However once you get past a certain level, the lack of regulation can lead to exploitation and corruption as seen in Standard Oil monopoly and anti-trust suits around 1900 - when it controlled about 90% of the american oil/petrol market.

One might venture to think of some certain software companies as other examples - and maybe some of todays internet giants have some of those same features, too.

Now, I'm not in favour of protectionism, either for specific, powerful, lobbying, industries or for one country to erect barriers to prevent foreign competition. But there does come a time when some businesses get too large, too powerful and too influential. Then they stop being a "power for good" and mutate into entities who's primary goal is to maintain their own existence - or share price. Maybe that's one area where regulation needs strengthening: to stop the lizards from becoming Godzillas. Otherwise we may have another "financial crisis", but in a different area of business, occupied by different sorts of "too big to fail" companies.

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Europe's shock Google privacy ruling: The end of history? Don't be daft

Pete 2
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Re: Move the goalposts

> Your solution is for me to completely change my identity and start a new life. OK assume this is possible and I actually do it.

Well, thousands of women manage to do this [change their names] every year, with very little hassle, when they marry and adopt their husband's last name. The biggest problem they have seems to be "learning" a new signature. There certainly isn't anything as dramatic as "start a new life" - though I guess you could go for some plastic surgery as well, if you wanted to.

Sure, there are some hassles - like having to apply for a new passport and notifying your bank of a name-change. But you have to ask: which is more onerous? a few small administrative alterations, or dragging Google through the courts as the instigator of this whole story did, for many years, just to get one link changed.

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Pete 2
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Move the goalposts

IIRC this all kicked off because some spanish guy Googled his own name (and we all know: nothing good ever comes from doing that) and discovered that it listed a financial embarrassment from years gone by.

Now, whatever the ins and outs of that particular situation, surely the easier approach (easier than grinding your way through the courts) is to simply change your name?

So, if Mr Derek Stinky was to change his name to, say, Mr. Albert Stinky then Google would have no link between the two names - so far as they are concerned it's only data and there is no attribute (unless Mt Stinky was to explicitly add one) to link the two. Even then it would have to be an exceptionally clever little search engine to twig the fact - and since it's main function is to push advertisements, there's no reason to make it so smart. [ Now GCHQ: there's a search system to be reckoned with ].

So, being a lazy git and always taking the path of least resistance, I would always go for the simplest solution to a problem of this size: and simply become someone else. Pete 3 has a nice ring to it.

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Boffins debunk red wine miracle antioxidant myth

Pete 2
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Newsflash!

> red wine doesn't confer some of the alleged benefits

and none of the drinkers will care one jot.

If you like it and don't overdo it, that is probably doing you some good. Mentally if not physically (but who wants to live forever, anyway?)

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LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

Pete 2
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altitude overflow?

> the system crashed because an operator entered a value that was outside limits

You aren't thinking that if you enter a flightplan with an altitude of 2^16 feet, you might just get an integer overflow, are you?

After all, nobody could fly that high, so we'd never need to test it, right?

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London cabbies to offer EVEN WORSE service in protest against Uber

Pete 2
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Re: you're having a tin mate...

> never see a penny of tax

Even if a cab driver did manage to avoid having their fares recorded, they still pay a significant amount of tax (as we all do).

There's tax on fuel: 58p per litre - tax on the fuel tax (VAT) - making UK diesel the most expensive in the world¹. Then there's VAT on buying the car, car tax and tax on the servicing costs. Do Uber cars have to pay the congestion charge? - another tax!

Even when a cabbie does get home with his (or her) untaxed wad, pretty much everything he/she buys will have 20% VAT to pay on it, too - plus any "sin taxes" like booze & ciggies. Now you might think "it's only VAT - everyone pays that" but bear in mind that VAT is the government's second biggest earner and that you pay the same rate (unlike income taxes) whether you are on minimum wage or £1million a year - and it's easy to realise that even cash in hand will never escape the clutches of the HMRC.

[1] Daily Telegraph, May 6

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Pete 2
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Gets worse before it gets better. But who said it'll get better

So, you are faced with a competitor who undercuts you, actually turns up, is prepared to take you where you want to go (sarf ov the river????) and has a more flexible business. How do you challenge that?

> the demonstration ... will attract many many thousands of cabs

Obvious, innit. Withdraw ALL of your services, leaving the other guy to be the only game in town.

Maybe what London (well, OK: what everywhere) needs is a taxi service who's only barrier to entry is the servicabillity of the vehicle and the lack of criminality of the driver. After that, let anyone with the right insurance in on the game - and let them charge whatever rate they please.

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Spy sat launch wannabe SpaceX fails to stop rival gobbling Russki rockets

Pete 2
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Once through Google translate ...

> she [ the judge ] had received letters ... explaining that the ULA deal doesn’t violate sanctions.

One assumes that's the jargon du jour for someone stratospherically high up in the administration screamed threats and abuse at her if she didn't "see the error of her ways" - and then dangled the carrot, for when she did.

Energomash - really?

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Britain'll look like rural Albania without fracking – House of Lords report

Pete 2
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Question time

> The lords ... stating there is actually "little hard evidence of public opinion" one way or another on fracking

The answer you'll get as "public opinion" depends totally on the question you ask:

Do you want to see gas companies drilling in areas of outstanding natural beauty? or:

Do you think we should be doing something to keep electricity prices down and make sure we don't run out of natural gas?

In more than one place I've worked it has been very, very difficult to get changes approved. So hard in fact that it was often easier (and sometimes quicker) to let a failure occur and then have a "whatever it takes" emergency change rushed through to get the failed system back up and working again. In relation to fracking, I would be less than surprised if all the naysayers changed their attitudes in an instant if the lights went out.

Maybe that's the time to ask the question.

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Carphone Warehouse, Dixons embroiled in £3.7bn merger rumour

Pete 2
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Short and sweet

> Sky News claimed the proposed name of the merged enterprise is Dixons Carphone Group

Car Ware Dix House, possibly shortened to Cawadiho might work. Dix Ware Car Ho has a certain, kerb-crawling, ring to it too.

Though I still can't imagine buying anything from that outfit.

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Cost-cutting Barclays bank swings axe on 5,600 IT and ops bods

Pete 2
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cockup in three ... two ... one ...

Very soon after all the hackers realise that ...

> The bank promised automation of IT platforms across the Group

... means there aren't actually any people supervising the security systems. And even when an alarm goes off, it'll take some time for whoever's on-call to get their arse out of bed, realise what's going on and escalate the problem to the few capable individuals who are still working there.

But given the speed of financial transactions, will there be any money left by that point?

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Hungry for humbler Pi? Check out kid-friendly LED-laden Pibrella

Pete 2
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Re: ...really now?

> using those bloody interrupts

On a Pi, or other SBC running Linux, wouldn't it be more like using a poll() or select(), unless you fancy writing a device driver to get down 'n' dirty with the processor's interrupt hardware.

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Nuclear reactor sysadmin accused of hacking 220,000 US Navy sailors' details

Pete 2
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Best excuse ever

> he hacked naval computers "out of boredom"

Good. I'd hate to think that someone in charge of the software that ran a reactor was overworked and constantly too busy.

And while "the devil makes work for idle hands", that's surely better than "yes I know that alert's been going off for the past 15 minutes. I'll get to it when I have a mi<BOOM>"

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Look out, sysadmins - HOT FOREIGN SPIES are targeting you

Pete 2
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Re: They'd never get me

> Hmmm... How about "a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn. "?

Ach! you spies. You know every man's weakness. But before I betray my country and my employer, tell me more about the clock.

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Pete 2
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They'd never get me

I would just like to say that I will never be bribed by the offer of hot sex, fine wines, good meals and holidays in the Carribean (even if they were on a large yacht). And I challenge any interested spy agencies to try to prove otherwise.

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ARM exec: Forget eight-core smartphone chips, just enjoy a SIX-PACK

Pete 2
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Bigger is better

> My building? ...

and that is probably why an 8-core processor is important: as a sales tool.

Just like it's "better" to have a 12 MPix camera on your phone than just an 8MPix one (so 2013, darling!)

Maybe the trick that ARM should consider is not so much the "some biggun's and some little-uns". Just go for the numbers and have 8 (or 10, or 12) of the small processors. More people will be taken in by the processor-number marketing than will be by the benchmark number marketing - neither of which bears much relationship to the users perception.

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Please work for nothing, Mr Dabbs. What can you lose?

Pete 2
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Re: The saying or the doing

Is that the observation about romantic drama writers: those who feel the need to write about it aren't doing it?

> I bet you're a romantic sweet-talker in the bedroom.

You'll never find out.

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Pete 2
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Re: Absolutely and Schools

> Still who needs to bother with such things as the period table

I think Tom Leher could help you out there. or if that's not trendy enough for today's yoof (the teachers, not the children) there's a new, graphic version - though I'm not sure if the entry for Silicon(e) was a deliberate mistake. Or did I just imagine it?

http://www.tastefullyoffensive.com/2013/05/the-new-periodic-table-song.html

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Pete 2
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The saying or the doing

> Some would suggest that I earn my money disreputably and don’t really deserve to receive any.

The difficulty with paying people to write is that so little of it contains any actionable, credible, information. And so little of the tiny minority that is actionable is worth anything..

Anyone can write "do this and you'll earn $1m" - but is the value in the information: "do this ..." or in the actual doing?

For example: a boxing promoter can suggest that Wladimir Klitschko could make millions by fighting Alex Leapai (he did, he won). But merely suggesting the match takes no effort - even though the money-making opportunity was a certainty. And so it is with most writing. Merely suggesting a course of action is a trivial enterprise (even if you had to spend time researching it, writing it and doing your own editing and publishing) and, importantly contains no investment or risk for the writer. It's the effort: the activity and the risk of failure that deserves reward, not the writing or suggestion.

After all, if writers were able to identify all these ways of turning ideas into actions - wouldn't they be too busy doing them, themselves rather than just sitting there writing about it?

Now if you were to consider yourself an entertainer, and that the product of your efforts were supposed to engage the audience, rather than direct them to ways of improvement or profit, THEN there would be a way to place a value on the content. But it would be content for its own sake, not as a means to some other end.

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