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* Posts by Robert Long 1

1109 posts • joined 15 Jun 2009

WHO ate all the PIs? Sales of Brit mini-puter pass 2 MEELLION

Robert Long 1
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"And yet how many are in schools being used by kids to learn how to code?"

Plenty. Just not officially.

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Your kids' chances of becoming programmers? ZERO

Robert Long 1
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Re: So fix it!

"But one finds that about 'artists' (or musicians, or poets, or ... computer programmers), they are incapable of understanding that not everyone thinks like they do - and never will."

That's because it's bollocks to say that not everyone thinks the same way - they blatantly do. Only the softest of soft shite pseudo-scientists claim that we're some strange amalgamation of unconnected alien brains inexplicably trapped in near-enough identical bodies.

"His solution was to get together a group and go around all the schools and play jazz to them. He claimed that all that was needed to love jazz was enough exposure to it."

Almost certainly true, if it were primary schools. Popular music proceeds in fads caused exactly by the fact that people like the things they are exposed to early on, fashion operates similarly and so does the "fine" art world. People like what they're used to, by and large, and that means they have a very strong tendency to like what they get used to first, when they're children.

I do wonder if some of the people on this thread actually spend any time with real people or just read about them in Nexus magazine or something.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: So fix it!

""Leaving out people with actual mental damage of some sort or another, everyone's pretty well on a par at birth."

Not true. Just...not true. The evidence overwhelmingly supports the 'nature' over 'nurture' argument. It has done for the last 24 years."

I'm just going by what I see in the real world. Maybe your evidence should too.

""Being really good at something is mostly a matter of doing it, and that's mostly a matter of motivation. Which is why you can, in fact, teach it."

You state this like a truth, but it's bullshit. Do you think someone can wake up one morning and say, "I'm going to write a number one hit single, or paint a masterpiece." Do you think the only thing that stands in their way is 'motivation'? "

Yes. Totally. If someone wants to paint a masterpiece all they have to do is devote 10-20 years to mastering the technical skills and thinking - really thinking - about what it is they want to say. I don't think it's any shock to realize that most people are not in fact motivated to do that. But it is theoretically doable. Ask any artist.

There is a huge opportunity cost, of course, but that's not a question of ability either.

The same applied to programming, mathematics, athletics, or almost any human activity you can name. Pretty well anyone can be extremely adept in any field they really want; being the best is a bit harder, of course ;)

""Art" is the act of connecting "the sublime" with "the mundane" in an understandable format. Please present me with an infallible approach to this, and I will be a very happy man."

I hope you are happy now, as the above is indeed infallible - although as I said, it is not the road to success in the art world, which is a different set of skills from merely being a good artist.

Come back in 10 years and let us know how you are getting on.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: So fix it!

"It takes a certain kind of mind to do anything - we could teach all kids to paint, but most of them would never become artists or even be able to get a job as an artist because they would clearly lack the required level of skill."

This is not true. Leaving out people with actual mental damage of some sort or another, everyone's pretty well on a par at birth, and that includes all but the very rarest of artists. Environment and parental concern for earning power may lead most kids away from art but the ones that stay with it and do will would be more or less random, there would be no actual mental difference with those that were discouraged. Being really good at something is mostly a matter of doing it, and that's mostly a matter of motivation. Which is why you can, in fact, teach it.

It's perhaps true that Leos and Vincents would still be rare, but anyone can be a talented artist if they want to be and financial success in the art world is even less about specialness than it is about politics and brass neck.

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Sony's new PlayStation 4 and open source FreeBSD: The TRUTH

Robert Long 1
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Re: Another win for the open-source world

"FreeBSD allows Sony to freely loot open source developers work without giving anything back to them. "

Exactly. FreeBSD give support to companies who oppose open source (and everyone else, of course, but you could do that with a different license). Companies using BSD as a basis for code they keep locked up is no win for anyone other than their shareholders.

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Android mobes outsell iPhones, but Apple gets MORE PROFIT THAN ALL

Robert Long 1
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Re: Junk business

"Perhaps because those who buy to use the tech, rather than buy to have the tech, tend to choose iPhone?"

Or maybe people that buy iPhones don't have any friends to, you know, phone, so they just browse the web all day?

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Who’s Who: a Reg quest to find the BEST DOCTOR

Robert Long 1
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Re: Tricky

Davison/Davidson. If he wanted me to remember how to spell his name then he should have done more than stand around alternating between looking concerned, constipated, and offended for four bloody years.

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Robert Long 1
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Tricky

1 Troughton

2 Tennent

3 T Baker

4 Pertwee

5 Smith

6 Hartnell

7 C Baker

8 McCoy

9 Davidson

10 Eccelston

I've left McGann off as I've still not watched the flaming movie or listened to any of his audio episodes. I would say that I'm rating performances here and not scripts. Davidson and Eccleston never seemed to me to even know what it was they were playing; which of course could be a script problem too. Of the list, I would say I actually positively liked everyone above Davidson. My first doctor was Pertwee.

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Are you experienced? The Doctor Who assistants that SUFFERED the most

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Re: There's a difference

"Because there were too many timey-wimey things happening at at that point in time in NY and even sending a telegram there to change history after they found out the date of their death by looking at the gravestones thus making it a fixed event in the present could push the universe over the edge."

So, skip forward to 1940. And the date on a gravestone says nothing about when a time traveller died any more than it tells you who, if anyone, is in the grave.

Total shite writing. Moffat persists in the notion that a program about a time traveller is all about time travel in the same way that travel programs are presumably supposed to be all about airports. Which is all the worse when he makes plotting blunders the size of the ones in Angels Take Manhatten which has to be the worst Dr Who ever recorded.

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Bitcoin mining rig firm claims $3m revenue in just FOUR DAYS

Robert Long 1
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Re: Huh?

"Saddam Hussein was very rich and decided to do just that. He announced that he was no longer going to sell oil in dollars.

Within two months the tanks were moving..."

Two months plus 3 years.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: I really don’t understand?????

"Currency is based on its value, a coin represents a value which is determined by its 'worth' (in the UK it used to be a pound weight in gold, hence the name) "

It was a pound of silver, actually. And a troy pound at that (gold and silver are still traded in Troy ounces). Newton accidentally destroyed the value of silver as a currency by pegging the value of gold to a fixed ratio of that of silver while he was in charge of the Mint, but the theory of silver-based coinage hung on for a while even after that.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: @Robert Long 1

"Superior in every way?

When someone can filch them and be impossible to trace inclines me to award the superiority badge to the bag of brass implementation for trading tokens."

I did say for online purposes. They're certainly no easier to steal than "real" money or plastic. My wife's credit card details were stolen recently and used to buy things in the US. While we didn't lose anything from it, someone (ie, Visa) did and that happens all day every day without anyone claiming that credit cards are worthless.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: Huh?

For a currency to work it must be basically impossible to forge, so each bitcoin must be very strongly protected in terms of signing, and that signing process must keep up with computing power. So strong that it would be impossible for any one outfit to produce enough bitcoinage to be useful, so the process is farmed out to, well, anyone that wants to do the work. Their reward is the same as goldminers': they have the coinage in their hands "wholesale" and then they spend it on things, putting the bitcoins into general circulation.

Just like goldminers, there is a financial cost involved. When people say that you can't mine bitcoins with a GPU anymore what they actually means is that doing so would cost you more in electricity than the coin would be worth. You could solve that by using, say, solar power but even then the difficulty will eventually increase until the depreciation in value of your equipment will balance the value of the coins made, so each new generation of bitcoin mining machines goes from profitable to obsolete in a more or less predictable curve of profitability during which the coinage supply gets boosted.

Like gold, bitcoins have no inherent value (i.e., you can't eat them) so their value is simply as a limited, verifiable resource to use as an exchange token (but not too limited otherwise not enough people have them to make trading practical) but unlike gold they are easy to transfer electronically around the world in an instant or two. If it were not for the question mark of quantum computing, bitcoins would absolutely replace all "real" currencies online (as well as gold offline) pretty well immediately as they are otherwise superior in every way.

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Microsoft advertises Surface, Excel with maths mistake

Robert Long 1
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Re: The gift that keeps on giving

"ExFAT is patented so as to be impossible to implement if you don't pay the tax. "

And, of course, the fact that there was prior art a mile long didn't affect the validity of the patent at all.

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NO! Radio broadcasters snub 'end of FM' DAB radio changeover

Robert Long 1
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Joke

Typical

UTV says "No"!

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BitTorrent awarded distributed storage patent

Robert Long 1
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Re: is this novel..?

"I think that that's a good indication that it fails the obviousness test."

I'm pretty sure the USPO doesn't use the obviousness test any more. Basically, they take the view that if it were obvious someone would have patented it already therefore if it's not already a patent it's not obvious. This was the tack they took to justify the patent for using cookies to identify returning users and linking them to an account on Amazon, which is pretty well exactly what cookies were invented for.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: is this novel..?

"Well if they do they have not patented it, but im sure it could suddenly become prior art with a smothering of gold in a hand"

They've never published the code; would that be a problem for the US patent office or not? (There's no point reading the law on the subject as the USPTO makes it up as it goes along, I'm just curious about what they've done in the past).

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Tim Cook stands firmly behind pro-LGBT, anti-discrimination law

Robert Long 1
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Re: Nice to see America catching up to the rest of the civilised world.

""We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" seems like a nice place to start. I read that in a declaration of independence somewhere."

Yeah, the guy that wrote that (Jefferson) had plenty of time to get the words right, what with all the slaves he owned getting the other work done for him.

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Robert Long 1
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What about women, Stan?

Does the US have a national law against sex-discrimination yet, or is that rolled into this bill?

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'It's a joke!' ... Bill Gates slams Mark Zuckerberg's web-for-the-poor dream

Robert Long 1
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Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

"However, I'd probably agree with you if I knew for certain that your idea of "education" includes things such as affordable and sustainable farming and animal husbandry....or how to make a solar stove in order to cook and boil/sterilize water where no firewood is available, and certainly no kitchen facilities....or changing cultural habits for the better (to lower or eliminate disease, famine, tribal warfare, etc.) WITHOUT being required to give up valued traditions and ways of life....giving people the education and information they really need, not judging them inferior to we purportedly "civilized" folks, or being so bigoted we believe they must do things our way...and so on."

I, and anyone else, can find out about all the things you listed using the Internet. And many traditional ways of life are barbaric and cruel and flat-out morally wrong. If you don't think that murdering women for being "witches" and sacrificing young children to appease droughts is wrong, I don't think I can find it in my heart to give a shit about your opinions about civilization.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: Gates is burning a straw man

"Like when I was two I got a serious illness. I waved away doctors and medicines and instead I hired educators to teach me medicine and pharmecology. Meanwhile my parents learned how to build a plant to make the serums I had been taught I needed, which they did under my learned direction. Good job it was done in the nick of time for me, but so much better to teach a baby how to make medicine than to give it to him."

The hole in your sarcasm is that the educated doctors and the medicines they use are the result of your country being part of the high-maintenance high-tech world you live in. Gates wants that world to stay where it is, and have 2-year-olds like you simply hope that some nice monopolist somewhere has donated the required materials, or for your country to pay to import them rather than for them to be able to stand on their own feet and be independent. Which, if you think about it, has been his attitude all his life - the rich are in charge and everyone else should be kept in their place and learn to like it.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: The thing about Gates

"Is that love him or hate him, no matter how you cut it he's Robin Bloody Hood."

Not really. Robin Hood stole from the rich, Gates stole from everyone and anyone and now he's using the cash to buy himself a reputation as some sort of saint (while making sure his stocks and shares are kept high, of course). Give me back the money he stole from me, and I'LL decide which charity to give it to, thanks.

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Cisco: We'll open-source our H.264 video code AND foot licensing bill

Robert Long 1
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Re: That code will then be made available on an ongoing basis as a binary downloadable

"@Nadee Gunasena, Cisco PR

I'm sorry but WTF does that mean?"

Surely it means they're providing pre-compiled binaries for people who can't compile the source code. This is pretty standard practise, isn't it?

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Cinnamon Desktop: Breaks with GNOME, finds beefed-up Nemo

Robert Long 1
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Re: Edge Snapping == Fail

"no fiddling around finding the hover spots to resize the windows."

Hold down alt and right click and drag. No need for hover spots for resize; left click to move.

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Want to keep the users happy? Don't call them users for a start

Robert Long 1
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Re: Users...

Customers or clients are external; users are internal. I've never met anyone that had a problem with that and if I did I would assume they had other problems which are probably more worrying.

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In a meeting with a woman? For pity's sake DON'T READ THIS

Robert Long 1
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"I'm more than capable of listening to someone and simultaneously investigating whether the incoming alert on my phone is just another friend blathering on Facebook or something more important than you that demands my attention."

Yeah, people that do that sort of crap always think they're capable of "multi-tasking". And then it turns out that they're not and everyone has to repeat themselves for the benefit of Mr ADD in the corner. Generally, it's easier and more productive to just fire them and get someone in who can focus on what's going on.

XKCD

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How to spot a coders comment

Robert Long 1
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Re: Assembler programmers

"Forth Programmers don't comment. Every bit of their code is self describing to other Forth programmers."

All kidding aside, I've found Forth programmers the most reliable of documenters, partly due to the old tradition of shadow blocks which practically sucked comments out of you.

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Robert Long 1
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Programmer Forth

Comment Forth easy spot. Green if Yoda might be however.

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THIS is the kind of clout a British Prime Minister has: Facebook pulls ONE beheading vid

Robert Long 1
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Re: @Just this guy

"On your other point, slippery as it is to define "porn", sexuality is usually involved."

Intent is part of the equation - the videos are being uploaded, in part, for the titillation of a certain type of pervert.

"A hypothetical Saudi execution video seems an unlikely candidate for that categorisation."

Not so sure I would agree - bearing in mind I'm not saying that this is the reason the videos are made.

"If, as you say, beheading videos are illegal under UK law (which?), then presumably that law will be invoked and enforced against facebook?"

Obscene publications Act ("such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons"; established case law covers "dismemberment or graphic mutilation") - Human Rights Act ("for the protection of health or morals, protection of the reputation or rights of others") and probably the Video Recordings Acts as well as various minor labelling acts.

Certainly the law should be invoked, but then copyright law should have been invoked against Google (not to mention several tax laws), so who knows?

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Robert Long 1
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Re: Horrible videos do have a place in the world

"Or how do you show the world what the world is truly like?"

This is a reasonable point, or would be in the absence of FB's blatant hypocrisy. The problem here is that the videos are not reportage uncovering some sordid hidden world, but are part of the criminals' own efforts to glorify themselves and send out warnings to those who oppose them. As such, broadcasting them is close to being an accessory. On top of that, there is the desensitizing/normalizing effect of having such material openly branded as being more acceptable than seeing a nipple. These are the "contexts" that are important beyond the simple surface meaning - when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you (although I'm not sure how that works out in Soviet Russia).

Just as it is not needed to go to the north pole to know that it's cold, neither do we need "beheading of the day" updated every day to let us know that there are parts of the world which are far from civilized.

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Robert Long 1
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@Just this guy

"Now there's no law being broken all the way along the line. Is this still something that should be opposed?"

You're the one saying that the issue is whether it's legal or not. The law is hardly the final arbiter on what is acceptable.

However, if you wanted to pull the law in on it, this is obviously porn and posted as porn and it is of a type that actually is covered by UK law.

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Robert Long 1
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Commerce and US Morals

It's a simple enough issue for Facebook: they want to sell adverts and the US public will scream if they show naked people. But violence is counted as grade-A entertainment in the US and perfectly acceptable in their highly militarised society, so these videos are a legitimate way for them to shift page views, and that means they make them money. They could not care less if the videos are uploaded for the purposes of condemnation or not, the issue is purely cash.

The simple solution for countries that don't share this sick and hypocritical view of what's acceptable is to block FB's servers at the ISPs. Which is fine by me.

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ICANN approves Arabic, Russian and Chinese global domain spaces

Robert Long 1
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Translation, please

"Icann explained its reasoning behind approving non-Latin script domains with following:

We can make more money this way. That's important because our reason to exist, and get paid, went out the window years ago, so we need to keep dreaming up new things to do regardless of how stupid they might be because we're unlikely to get new jobs at our age and with our track record of, well, stupid ideas."

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Furious French choke on chardonnay over NSA's phone spying in France

Robert Long 1
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Re: ultra conservatives did not elect Obama

"However functional the democracy, the choice is between a group with left-wing ideology that supports wholesale spying on the entire world and a group with right-wing ideology that supports wholesale spying on the entire world."

What is this new left-wing party that's suddenly running in US elections? I certainly would welcome a break up of the existing "how far to the right do you want to go?" system.

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Windows 8.1: A bit square, sure, but WAIT! It has a Start button

Robert Long 1
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Re: "Worthwhile upgrade to Windows 7" - Why?

"Dropbox would probably have been about 1% of the cost of what you have paid, and infinitely more ubiquitous."

Or scp, which is free and included in real OSs (you know, the sort that don't need rebooted just because you installed a word-processor).

Windows is Windows is Windows is shit, same as it ever was.

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UK plant bakes its millionth Raspberry Pi

Robert Long 1
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FAIL

Pointless Sarcasm

"Education Secretary Michael Gove, who appears to have decided it’s more important to teach little'uns how to program than to use the technology they will sit in front of when eventually they enter the workplace."

Unless Gove has become psychic he has no way of knowing what technology primary school kids will be sitting in front of when they enter the workplace, and even GCSE pupils are probably 7 or 8 years from their first "proper" jobs.

In that light, teaching them a general purpose skill like programming would appear to be the right move.

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TWELFTH-CENTURY TARDIS turns up in Ethiopia

Robert Long 1
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Re: £££

"Can just hear the cash registers cheer at the BBC with the prospect of fleecing us for more ££ when they remaster and put them on DVD."

It seems odd that someone that feels that way would buy the DVDs.

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Down with Unicode! Why 16 bits per character is a right pain in the ASCII

Robert Long 1
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Go Forth

I've been using UTF-8 in my Forth code for years; it's nice to be able to use function names (all right, "words" as we right-minded Forth programmers call them) maths and logical symbols in them.

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Snowden's email provider gave crypto keys to FBI – on paper printouts

Robert Long 1
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"The only other nations left then are those hostile to the west like Russia... "

Is Russia hostile as such? I'd have said it was just very defensive in the face of decades of open and covert attacks by America, some of which came bloody close to killing us all. "Hostile" makes it sound unreasonable, IMO.

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Samsung DENIES benchmark CHEATING, despite evidence

Robert Long 1
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"What's this bear crap doing in my woods?" asked Christopher Robin

They all cheat, all the time. That's why I ignore benchmarks unless I've done them or someone I really trust has done them, and that's never the maker.

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The life of Pi: Intel to give away Arduino-friendly 'Galileo' tiny-puter

Robert Long 1
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Re: Two stools

"Welcome back to 1980. 6809 (or 6502 for dweebs) assembler."

Or, indeed, Z80.

Where's Rodney Zaks when you need him?

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US spy court says internet firms can't report surveillance requests

Robert Long 1
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So what?

"Secret spy court says..."

The secret spy court has no authority to say anything under the US constitution; indeed the constitution is there specifically to prevent secret spy courts having this power. The media should be laughing at these wannabe Nazi control freaks, not blandly reporting their ravings as if they were serious.

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Ubuntu 13.10: Meet the Linux distro with a bizarre Britney Spears fixation

Robert Long 1
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@David Cantrell

What about Windowmaker? It's back in production and even if it wasn't the version released about 6 years ago is still the best "desktop" I've ever used.

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Microsoft follows Amazon in gaining critical US gov certification

Robert Long 1
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Re: Give me a break

"Alright tough guy, which microsoft product is actually ready?"

They generally make decent mice.

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Robert Long 1
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Give me a break

The idea that the worlds least reliable software company with an almost unbroken track record of duff unfinished products released to market years before they're ready being certified for anything other than being carted away makes a mockery of the organization certifying them (yes, ISO, that means you too).

This is why we have people following Apple's maps onto runways - in the real world lousy, dangerous, and plain old inoperative products get their manufacturers into trouble and/or bankrupt. People - normal people, not IT people - have grown up with an expectation that someone somewhere is enforcing regulations on the sale of goods. So when they buy software it never crosses their minds that it might very well be expensive unreliable garbage that doesn't actually work! And then we - the IT people - take the piss out of them for being so foolish as to hold us to the same standard that the makers of tin cans and ball-point pens have been held to for a century.

And now the US government is handing out Mickey Mouse certificates that we all know are totally meaningless. That's not helping.

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Google: Thanks for the billions in revenue, UK. Here are your taxes, that's ... £11m

Robert Long 1
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Re: Blatant law abidance by international corporation shocker

"Yet again, we have a big international corporation steadfastly following the letter of the law."

Not so. In fact what they are doing is illegal, and not just in a vague "oh, well, I suppose you could look at it that way" sort of way. There are specific laws against using fake transactions to move revenue out of the tax regime of the UK, and they do get imposed from time to time, depending on whether the head of HMRC has been taken to the required number of lunches or not.

If you "minimise your taxes" by paying your wife for the use of your house and work from home, so that you have no official surplus, then you will be up before the beak toot-sweet. This is the basic idea behind Google and Amazon's scheme - payments which exist only for the purposes of making the payments, to companies whose sole reason for existence is to accept those payments which the paying company in reality get's the full value of since, duh, it's the same company.

All totally illegal, and clearly so.

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Apple iOS 7 makes some users literally SICK. As in puking, not upset

Robert Long 1
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Facepalm

Re: A split personality release

"Neither is not looking where you're going. That's probably a bigger threat to your health."

Well, if you want to police a new law that bans people from reading things while walking, go ahead and good luck.

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Robert Long 1
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Re: A split personality release

"Apple won't make those mistakes if Steve Jobs is still kicking "

Only if it affected Steve. If it didn't then the critics would be scorned as heretics.

Putting parallax effects on something people use while walking is really not a good idea.

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Revolting peasants force Wikipedia to cut'n'paste Visual Editor into the bin

Robert Long 1
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YAML

"Operating the editing system today requires a knowledge of arcane markup..."

Not just arcane but pointless. HTML and a simple filter would have done just fine. Why people still want to use this crap and Markdown, BBCode and the rest is a mystery to me when HTML has been going for decades now and can be learnt in a few minutes (assuming you just want to use lists, bold, italics, headings and paragraphs with a few links and images here and there).

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