* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4068 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Well YES, Silicon Valley VCs do think you're a CRETIN

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Un-Green!

On the other hand, the blockchain as an idea might turn out to be useful. Obviously designed not to be so computationally intensive, so that power use doen't have to go up to insane levels. And possibly using a fixed pool of computers to do the generating, but distributed enough that it's hard to build a cartel to control it. Apparently the Bank of England put out a paper on using this for various inter-bank transfers - I assume things like assets used as collaterol on the repo market, though I've not read it.

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Re: Long tail licensing

I'm no Bitcoin expert, but wouldn't using it like this start to make the blockchain unfeasibly huge, such that it needs ever greater amounts of computing power to keep registering transactions? Which is all very well while mining carries on, but eventually there's going to be an end to mining new Bitcoins, and then every transaction will have to be paid for - in order to make it worthwhile for the miners to keep on going, and keep the blockchain working.

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Re: Well,

I'm afraid I also live a barren, mostly toast-free, life. Tragic isn't it. Although my cupboard space is at more of a premium than work-top space, so my toaster lives an al fresco existence in comparison.

During the quid-a-day nosh posse thing, my toaster saw regular action - due to home made bread being so cheap - and Lidl's thoughtful provision of 46p jars of "I Can't Believe It's Not Marmalade". I've still not worked out what to do with the rest of that jar...

But normally I make small loaves, and so consume my bread in its cold sandichy state. Often with bacon in - and bacon sandwiches just aren't as nice with toast. Or with with soup.

Even the amazing M&S calvados marmalade I scored in a hamper last Christmas doesn't seem to be enough of an incentive to get me toasting. It must be some sort of disease of the brain...

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So why the hell do we bail banks out?

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Re: But uncle Tim, I want to hear them pigs squeak!

In one sense, the people who oversaw it all did get scalped. We loaned the banks central bank cash, against assets, and that kept them liquid. We also then decided that they needed even more money, to keep them solvent, and we gave them that. And took shares in return. So the government diluted the shares of the existing shareholders, in exchange for re-capitalising the banks. And that means that the people who were ultimately supposed to supervise the boards of directors did get scalped. The shareholders.

Of course shareholder democracy seems to have broken down (if it ever worked properly at all). But it's still the shareholders who own the company, and so are taking the risk on their investment. In the case of RBOS, the government now owns 70%, leaving only 30% of the company they used to own to the original shareholders.

A way to claw back bonuses, and to structure bonus incentives better, would also be good. But it's notoriously hard to do.

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Re: While of course they needed to be bailed out

OzBob,

One of the problems of banking/capitalism that Tim doesn't cover in this article is that banks are pro-cyclical.

This means that instead of countering booms and busts, they inflate the booms and worsen the busts. So during the height of the boom, when they should be saying "oh dear this is looking too bubbly, let's wind our necks in and borrow less" - they actually lend more - as that house is bound to keep going up in value for the next ten years...

Then the bust comes. And now they won't lend to anyone unless they can prove they don't actually need the money, however good their business plan or credit is. They get all cautious, having just had their fingers burnt in the preceeding boom. So they shrink their balance sheets in order to become more solvent, but this reduces the money supply, and the credit avaiable to the economy to pay for growth and investment.

Regulation often makes this worse. Because the regulators are under political pressure to rein the banks in. And so during this recession our governments were making banks expand their fractional reserves (to make them more liquid) and raise more capital (to make them more solvent). This was for good and understandable reasons. There's an argument to say that they should have told the banks that they needed to have these larger capital buffers by about 2015, but were allowed to run less safely before that. But it would be pretty politically indefensible, and took a risk - that's pretty much what the Eurozone did - they stuck their heads in the sand, then had to bail out Greece to the tune of nearly €300 billion in order to save the German and French banks who'd recklessly lent to them. They also then implemented the bailout incompetently, fucked up the Greek economy in the process, and are now blaming the Greeks for their own (and Greece's too) massive clusterfuck, such that the Greeks can't pay, the banks are off the hook and the governments have put themselves in the firing line.

Anyway an example of counter-cyclical measures would be unemployment (and some other) benefits. Because these are paid out automatically, the government will pay out more of them as joblessness increases, and pay falls, during a recession. These are called automatic stabilisers. The government now spends loads more during recessions, something that didn't happen in the 30s, and this helps to keep the economy from cratering - and makes the recessions shorter and less painful.

There's an idea to make banking regulation counter-cyclical. So that in the boom times, they'll have to maintain a higher fractional reserve or capital adequacy ratio. Thus meaning they can't lend as much, and stoke the bubbles as hard. Then when the recession comes, the pressure will be released somewhat, in the hopes they'll now be more willing to lend, having sustained smaller losses from the collapse of the boom, and having more money on hand. In a big scary recession like the recent one, that probably wouldn't work. But it might have made the 1990-91 recession a lot less steep, for example.

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Feds: Bloke 'HACKED PLANE controls' - from his PASSENGER seat

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Re: No Highway in the Sky

He at least had the good sense to wait until the plane was on the ground, before risking destroying it...

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Amazon boss Bezos' Blue Origins declares test flight 'flawless' ... if you overlook one snafu

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Re: Impressive, quite impressive

Thankyou. Your order has been successfully processed and will be delivered today via our special Get it There Instantly[tm] delivery option. For your records, please find a copy of your order below.

1. 1 x bouqet of flowers - $30.00

Special Delivery: Get it There Instantly[tm] - $55,000,000.00

Thank you for your order.

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Post count

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Re: Post count

Click on your own username beside you comment, and you'll see:

136 posts • joined 30 Dec 2010

However that's the publically available one, that I can see. And only counts posters where you haven't ticked the anon box, or using this username. If you've had a different handle on this account those wouldn't show up there.

I hadn't realised the "My Posts" page only shows your total up and down votes.

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Confidential information exposed over 300 times in ICANN security snafu

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Devil

Re: ICANN setting an example

As the old saying goes, if you can't be an example to your children, you can at least be a horrible warning...

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Heroic Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse tighten their belts

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Re: Kudos indeed

Indeedy! Thank you from the heart of our bottoms...

I found an actual piece of orange peel in my 49p Lidl thick cut marmalade today. Woohoo! That's the first piece I've seen all week. But at about 2p per slice of toast covered, it's surprisingly good.

The 300g of Lidl "cheese" for £1.55 on the other hand...

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Anonymous benefactor to match today's Quid-A-Day donations

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Re: Bugger!

Oh, do they not do so? I thought it was the other way round, and donations didn't show up on the team page - as I've got a few hopefully coming in today. Booo.

Anyway, thank you to our myserious benefactor.

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MONSTROUS iPhone sales are CANNIBALIZING iPads, gabbles Apple CEO

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Re: Simple

jason 7,

You had a sofa made out of catalogues? That sounds very uncomfortable!

At £1 a week, I'd say you paid way over the odds...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Simple

If that were true, how come the iPhone sells so well? The only difference is a radio chip, costing a few dollars at the most, and possibly an LED flash for the camera. Oh and the iPad is 4 times the size, so has a much more expensive screen and battery.

Actually I've used the argument of tablet prices to say that all the top-end phones are over-priced. Which I believe they are, so I won't spend more than £200-£300 on a phone (and there's some pretty good ones at £150).

But the 10" iPad isn't significantly more expensive than the premium Android tablets. Until you pay Apple's rip-off price for extra storage of course. Or in fact the £100 extra they charge for the one with a mobile radio chip costing a few dollars...

I'd say it's more likely that tablets often get left at home, and don't take as much of a hammering as phones, in battery or getting dropped terms. Plus lots of people still expect a shiny new phone with every new mobile contract - whereas they're paying the price of the tablet up-front (not as part of a disguised hire purchase and airtime contract).

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Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse taunted with sausage sarnie snap

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Re: 'two eggs/four slices of bread'

Lester,

I think we agree on the round. Mine is a modern lazy round, where I'll often cut along only the long side to make the sandwich a bit more convenient to hold. The poncier the bread, the taller it seems to be, and therefore the more likely to flop over and dump the delicious contents all over the shop.

Whereas in the days of tea at my Nan's, it was sliced white all the way. Ham and cucumber or crab paste in fact. Much squarer bread, so makes nice squares (triangles if you're feeling all posh). A round would be the 2 slices of bread's worth, so either 2 or 4 sub sandwiches (sandwich-ettes, sarnitos perhaps?). This all to be followed by Mr Kipling's finest cherry bakewells and French fancies, plus Jaffa cakes, and/or maybe even fruit cake if she'd made some.

Oh, and dandelion and burdock. Foul, sickly stuff that coats your teeth and makes them go furry - but I did used to love it. Radio 2 on in the kitchen, the sounds of aircraft over South London, drifts away into happy nostalgia...

Anyway, you are correct. This is a vital question. We need to form a Nosh Posse Sandwich Sizing Sub-committee. Stat!

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: 'two eggs/four slices of bread'

Isn't it a round of sarnies, which is 2 slices sandwiched, then cut in half to make 2 smaller sarnies? Or some such. Otherwise I've had that confusion with people before.

Myself I'd say a sandwich is what you get with some stuff, and 2 slices of bread.

This is before we've even mentioned the abomination that is the club sandwich, which always seems to use an odd number of slices. At which I always think, should you butter both sides of the slice that's in the middle?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Sauce

Chimay bleu is about 11% alcohol, but just tastes like a nice dark beer. It's very moreish. Sadly it's about £4 a bottle whenever I've seen it in the UK - so would make a bit of a hole in the week's budget.

The strongest I've had was Carlsburg Elephant Beer, which is 13% from memory. Had it once in a Danish bar, and it was truly horrible. The danger with many Belgian beers is how many of them are so nice, and don't taste like they've got more than 7% alcohol. I guess that's why they come in half measures..

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I ain't Spartacus
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Bill Fresher,

Give people time...

I personally haven't, as I live in a flat, so can't. But also I've tried to go for a balance of my rice, which is bought in huge bags every few months anyway (and people in developing countries are likely to do the same - or store what they grow) - and buying some things in smaller packages just to use this week. On which subject I owe Lester an email, a spreadsheet and a picture of my stash of "goodies".

However, apparently the $1.50 a day figure is consumption at purchasing power parity. So this is supposedly a monetary value assigned to everything that people comsume each day - at a notional global standardised dollar's purchasing power. It's all very hard to work out - for example that figure includes housing - and I simply don't believe that you could get any kind of housing in the UK at rates of a couple of hundred a year, even a small concrete/brick single roomed one.

Also my bank won't take a couple of quid for the week as my mortgage payment - and Thames Water are probably getting £2-£3 a week off me. Not to mention electricity.

In the end this is a charity event, a bit of fun, and hopefully an excercise in thinking about what we have and what we use. It should be taken in a spirit of enquiry, with a sense of proportion, and with a sense of humour.

Yesterday I spent about 30p on frozen veg (not available to people below the poverty line, but their fresh veg is probably cheaper than ours), 39p on 6 eggs, maybe 10p on half an onion and half a potato, a little butter and made a nice omelette. Which is big enough for a dinner and a lunch, for 80p. But that doesn't include electricity to cook it.

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SpaceX in MONEY RING shot, no spare juice for tail backdown this time

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Happy

And to think that I was only telling a friend on Saturday, as we left the cinema for the pub, that I'd just ticked something off my bucket list. Which was walking down the up escalator (while moving of course), because the other was out of order and my excuse was I didn't want to wait for the lift.

I'm obviously a bit more easily pleased than you...

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So how should we tax these BASTARD COMPANIES, then?

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Re: Fair Tax?

phil dude,

The difference between a VAT and a sales tax is that a VAT is harder to avoid. To take the example of a retailer in the two systems:

VAT - They buy a bunch of goods from their suppliers and have to pay net price + 25% VAT. But this is OK, as they're going to claim that money back. They add their mark-up for their own profit, then the government's 25% VAT - and sell on to customers. Then pay the government their pound of flesh, less what they can claim back from their suppliers.

To cheat the system, they'd sell to the customers at say 10% cheaper than everyone else, pocketing the rest that they were claiming was VAT, but this is barely going to cover them for the fact that they now can't claim back the VAT on their suppliers. Ooops. You still get the issue that very small suppliers can undercut everyone else by not charging VAT, but then they also can't claim it back - so there's a limit to how much they can do.

Assuming our shop operates properly, they're paying no VAT themselves - it's just some extra admin, and a varying effect on their cash-flow.

Sales Tax - In this example of a sales tax, there is only one side to the transaction. Being business-to-business, then our shop goes out and buys their supplies, no sales tax will be payable. Thus they have the ablity to sell to the customers at a discount, and pocket some portion of the sales tax. Obviously big firms can't get away with this, but smaller ones can, and if they can undercut the big boys (who do pay) then that's going to be a route to avoidance there.

Now you might say the answer here is to have the retailer fill out loads of forms for the lovely tax man, so he can track what's going on and catch them at their dirty game. At which point, the simplicity and lack of bureaucracy that is the advantage of a sales tax has just collapsed. Now you've got the same level of paperwork going on, the same admin losses to businesses, the same level of paperwork for the government to tax - but still the easier possibility to avoid tax, as you've not got the incentive of claiming your own VAT back - that keeps (most of) the VAT people more honest.

Also, you've had a big old moan about how bloated European governments are. And sure, governments can always find ways to spend money. But even though people may resent being taxed, they also resent it if you stop spending government money on stuff. That tension is the major issue of politics. But what would you cut? Health? Defence? Unemployment benefits? Pensions? Education? The UK government has averaged just under 40% of GDP in spending in the last 35 years, which means it's going to need to average taxes of about 40% of GDP. I suspect it will be very hard to move it very far from that, and keep the voters onside.

Actually the US is a lot closer to that level of spending/taxing itself now, as federal spending has increased so much since the 50s.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Fair Tax?

phil dude,

Their FAQ is not right. They are correct to say that VAT is a consumption tax. But it does not tax every stage of production. Every business with a turnover greater than about £50k-£100k must charge VAT on everything it sells (there are some exceptions of course). But, it gets to offset the VAT on everything it buys against that.

So the company will only pay VAT on goods/services bought from companies too small to feature in the system. Hopefully sales are higher than costs, so this can even have a positive effect on cash flow.

Another useful advantage is that the government knows sales and total purchases of every company in the VAT scheme, mostly quarterly, so along with info from payroll taxes, can make better statistics on the economy.

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Quid-A-Day Nosh Challenge kicks off early for starvation veteran

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Re: Welcome back, Toby

To think that all I scoffed last night was the last of the salad and quiche - I can almost feel virtuous. There's still lager in the fridge, but a friend cleaned me out of beer last week. I did manage to polish off a couple of left-over jammy dodgers though.

Current plan is to celebrate the finish with either a bacon or a fish finger sandwich. Unfortunately there's a packet of bacon left in there, calling out to me.

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Debian ships new 'Jessie' release with systemd AND sysvinit

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Re: "needrestart"??

My Antikythera machine ran the far superior Solaris, the operating system designed by Apollo Himself. In order to start the system you were forced to make a libation of wine, and a sacrifice of ambrosia - and since Devon's finest rice pudding was a bugger to get hold of, and no-one wants to waste good wine (or even retsina), we endeavoured never to have to do so.

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China tackles vital strippers-at-funeral problem

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Devil

Re: Dan Paul Seriously speaking, why is this any different...

I've even heard of gift bags being given out at really "highbrow" Saudi funerals.

Hmmm. Interesting idea. Going to a funeral, and coming back with a doggy-bag.

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Coat

Well, if they've been interred for a few hundred years, then all I can say is "don't fancy yours".

No. She's a right minger...

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OK, OK, very funny!

You do realise that April Fool's is over now. So there's no excuse for paying Chris Morris for old rejected scripts from Brass Eye...

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Apple Watch RIPPED APART, its GUTS EXPOSED to hungry Vultures

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It's pretty shocking that it's something like a £100 "upgrade" to get an identical watch, but with a steel strap. And I believe their straps are non-standard, in order to make sure they get their full pound of flesh.

Suddenly their £30 USB cables are starting to look quite reasonably priced...

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On the other hand, what's the harm in having your ego massaged for £300?

Myself, it doesn't float my boat, and I won't be buying one. But unless you only wear brown sacking, you must have spent at least some money on such flummery. At which point, it's merely a matter of degree.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: so what if you can't upgrade it?

why would anyone expect to upgrade/replace parts in their watch??

When it's just cost them $10,000 and it needs to integrate with their phone which gets software upgrades every year - one of which will eventually make them incompatible perhaps?

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james 68,

Which leads me to the question m'lud. How did the accused know about the existence of this literature? Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case...

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Apple Watch: Exactly how many vids does it take to teach a fanboi to tell the time?

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How the UI behaves also depends on what the watch or your iPhone is doing. Swiping up will do different things if the phone is playing music or the phone is running maps.

Erm, what happens if you're doing both? If I'm walking somewhere, I often listen to music, and take quick glances at the map to work out how I'm getting on.

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Amazon lifts lid on AWS money factory, says it's a $5 BEEEELLION biz

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Re: It's a tax con

It's not a tax con, because Amazon don't make profits. By definition. They're not hiding the profits in another company, they're spending their profits on growing the company. Some combination of buying lots of servers for Cloud, stupidly low pricing to buy market share and weird stuff like drones and Fire tablets/phones.

So no, the taxpayer is not being ripped off. The system is working as designed. You don't pay tax on retained profits used for investment.

You might argue that the shareholders are being ripped off though. Is the company now growing for growth's sake? Moving into more areas, and doing odd stuff, because it interests Bezos - and he's getting to play with the world's greatest train set at their expense? That's a legitimate concern, but not the government's problem, that's down to the shareholders. They can try to unseat him, and get someone who's willing to start making profits and paying dividends (or doing share buy-backs as it's a US company) - or they can sell. Or they can decide they're happy and stay there. Normally a company's shareprice is supposed to represent the potential future profits - so Facebook were massively over-valued on the assumption that they could keep increasing profits for a decade - while costs would be relatively static. Amazon have now been going nearly 20 years, and stopped even trying to make profits ages ago.

I remember them using some bizarre home-grown finance bollocks to claim they were profitable during the dot.com crash. They don't seem to have even pretended to care since.

I suppose you could argue it's a problem, as they take profits from other companies - who therefore also can't pay corporation tax. And if every company operated this way, then there'd be no corporation tax at all. But on the other hand, they don't disappear their money, or hoard it. They spend it on salaries, and stuff from other companies, who do make profits and (hopefully) pay tax. :So the government should still be getting the same pound of flesh, theoretically, just from different people.

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El Reg assembles mighty Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse

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Re: Why oh why oh why?

Lester,

Doesn't this suggest that El Reg should start doing charity auctions? Andrew Orlowski could offer to have "I love Google" tattooed somewhere on his person for say £10k.

An El Reg journo could attempt to sneak into Apple's next press event through the toilet window for £100.

Maybe £1,000 for calling Apple pretending to be The Guardian, so they actually phone you back and give you a quote for a story...

There are many options for merriment.

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Re: Baking bread

Nope. As I understand it, the global poverty line is measured at $1.50 of purchasing power parity consumption. So that's not just food, but everything.

But more crucially it's an estimate of the value of goods consumed, not what was paid for - so includes grub grown by people and stuff bartered for.

My bank won't be accepting my mortgage payment going down to 20p for next week, so I'd fail the challenge before I even started. And I guess my charge from Thames Water alone is about £4-£5 a week too.

On the other hand I struggle to buy the purchasing power parity bit at that point. Even a one roomed wooden house in the middle of nowhere in the UK is going to cost more than £100 a year. Although obviously there are lots of things that the poorest in the world just don't pay for, because they don't get. Such as the clean water and sewerage that's so cheap here.

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Re: Free meat!

My Nan bought some rabbits to breed, and cages for the garden. This was in London, and so welcome off-ration meat. The only problem was letting Mum play with them first.

When came the first Sunday dinner where they decided to eat the fruits of their labour, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And no rabbit eaten by the children.

Nan told me that she sold the rabbits to the dustman, as his kids could eat them having not been introduced first.

She also told me that she'd despatched Grandad to do the deed, but that his attempts to finish the poor buggers off failed and they resorted to her brother's bayonet. I'm assuming this would be in knife mode, but I've always had the mental image of the Bosch bunny at the wrong end of a Lee Enfield 303, fix bayonets and charge...

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Re: Damn...

More of a darjeeling man myself. But for the purposes of the challenge I'm probably going to go for Sainsbury's Red Label, which is still very nice, and save a few pennies. I think I'd rather go without something than go for value teabags. I'm assuming bags are cheaper than the loose leaf I normally use, but haven't checked yet.

It was a travesty when Lester ran that poll on how to make the perfect cuppa and came up with something with milk and sugar in it, made from a bag. But I'm not sure I know anyone of my age (or younger) who uses leaves.

I guess the diabetic thing complicates this a lot for you. And means you have to think a lot more about food in general.

I might calculate how much my muesli costs, now you've said yours is 8p. I'd always assumed it was much more than that, but as I make it myself, I've never counted.

I'm planning to price next week up tonight - and see exactly what I can afford. So I'll have to go round the kitchen with scales and a calculator. I always think of things like muesli as expensive, as a bag of oats is £2-£4 - and the seeds and dried fruit are a fiver a big bag. But you don't use all of them each time, and once mixed it lasts for ages.

You have been a source of many ideas for this, so thank you.

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Facepalm

Re: Free meat!

Hmm. There's some poor spelling in there. That is the raisin d'etre for spellcheckers...

I've not even done the week of near-starvation yet, so I can only put it down to the fact that I've started eating salad now the sun's come out. Perhaps I should go back to bacon, to get my strength up?

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Re: Free meat!

What was the trick from 'Danny Champion of the World'? It was something about soaking raisons and then putting a thread through them or something I think. It's a very long time since I read it.

However, I'd have to be very hungry indeed to fancy tackling the London pigeon. Much better to cut out the middle-man, and run in cirlces in Trafalgar Square and try to catch the bread that the tourists throw to them.

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Re: Damn...

This is where I'm glad that I have my tea black. So no faffing with milk required. I was considering muesli for breakfast, but I put quite a bit of expensive (for the challenge) dried fruit into mine - so I decided to go with toast instead. I don't normally eat brekkie, but maybe this challenge will make me hungrier, so I'm budgeting for it.

It's a good point about the farm shop, perhaps I'll go there in search of spuds. As they're just a bit too expensive otherwise. My brother got some squirrel from them a while back, so I guess I could even score some cheap meat. His wife deemed it too cute to eat, so he wasn't allowed it again...

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Google guru: Android doesn't have malware, it has Potentially Harmful Applications™ instead

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Re: Delusional

I think Google really are Microsoft, circa late 1990s. They've got the same lax attitudes to security, although much less excuse given how the last 20 years of computer history. And they've got the same arrogance, as the money rolls in and it looks like there's endless growth over the horizon still to do. Plus they've got the same attitude to leveraging their monopolies into growth in other areas - and seemingly (from their dealings with the EU) the same contempt for government regulation.

There's also the new factor of the vast quantities of data they hoover up, and how public and regulatory attitudes are evolving towards it.

But the big question that's yet to be answered is this. Do they have the same attitude to writing everything down that MS had? IBM fought off the anti-trust charges for years/decades. I guess you're less likely to put things in witing in paper memos, than to dash off an email. Whereas MS's email archives were a smoking gun, that meant they went down in the matter of a few years. The lawyers couldn't save them. I wonder if Google have learned from that? Or if they don't see themselvesa as doing anything wrong, so write stuff down anyway?

It'll be interesting to see their future. MS are a mostly reformed company now (or their monopoly gives them less power anyway). But their reputation is nowhere near recovering from the twin damage of the PC security nightmare of early XP and looking rapacious and evil. Vista didn't exactly help...

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Nork hackers no pantomime villains, but a hugely unpredictable menace

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Devil

So, that leads to the next important question to which enquiring minds need to know the answer:

How many porn videos are there which feature cats?

I'm assuming that most viewers of cat videos are human, rather than cat, so we can classify purely cat porn in the category of 'cat videos' - given that there will only be a very small number of either humans (or cats) online who'll be interested in that as porn...

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I'm not sure companies should really care about rogue states using cyberwarfare teams. At least not specifically. Because I doubt that North Korea poses that much more a of a threat to any company that any other random group of cyber criminals out for profit. I suppose there's more risk of horrible publicity, making you look really stupid, which is something criminals may not bother to do.

But the problem is that companies seem to be spending far too little time on securing their networks and information, given how quickly the threat is evolving. And how smart some of the "ordinary" cyber criminals have shown themelves to be.

So a random company just needs to worry about being as secure as it can be, and multi-layered security, so that access to some things doesn't automatically mean getting hold of everything. Only people at specific threat would need to worry about the state-sponsored attacks, and should hopefully be able to call on resources from their governments.

The problem is that cyber attack is so much easier than cyber defence. I do worry that our intelligence agencies may have been too excited by the shinies on offer, and so committed too much of their resources to attack tools. And not enough has gone into protection of our own networks and economies. But then, maybe that should be a different arm of government? Perhaps we should look at regulation in this area. Systemically important banks now have to undergo annual stress-tests, to see how they'd respond to another 2008-style crisis. Perhaps we should be making our large corporations, relevant government departments and particularly national infrastructure companies do something similar? So GCHQ could penetration test them - and see what bits of their networks and information are easily accessible and easily disruptable. And they should be tested on how they could respond to this, along with how they could recover from attacks that were designed to cause harm, rather than just steal stuff.

I know a lot of this already goes on. But not enough, I'm sure. And I bet it's mostly the companies like BT, who've already got strong connections with government. I wonder how much banking has been tested, given the creaking state some of their IT is in?

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Nokia will be the mobile comeback kid in 2016 – wishful-thinking sources

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The only problem is that they were getting slaughtered in developing markets too weren't they? Having surprised everyone by how long they could keep their production costs as low as the Chinese competition, they were finally losing that battle. Having already lost at the top end. Given how cheaply reasonable Android phones can now be produced, I can't believe there's much market space for feature phones.

Also, having sold the farm to MS, they've presumably lost all their distribution networks and expertise. Which was another thing they were great at for ages. That seems like an awful lot to try and build back from scratch.

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Don't shoot the Messenger: NASA's suicide probe to punch hole in Mercury

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Happy

Re: Not too sure about the crater.

I think "landing" is a rather optimistic choice of word.

I know there's the saying "any landing you walk away from is a good landing, if they can use the plane again it's a bonus" - but this is ridiculous...

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Happy

You racist bastard. They're called Mercurians. Just because their skins are green, that should in no way define them as people.

Actually I guess it's speciesist isn't it? I wonder what Dan Dare would say...

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RADIOACTIVE WWII aircraft carrier FOUND OFF CALIFORNIA

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Mushroom

Re: As Lady Bracknell never quite said...

I remember reading about a Japanese railway engineer. He was working at Hiroshima when it got nuked. As he wasn't feeling too well (for some reason), and as he was already at the railway, he was evacuated to hospital, to be treated for his burns. Unfortunately he was evacuated to a nice safe hospital in Nagasaki, where a few days later...

Turns out there were a handful of people who ended up in the same situation for various reasons, and managed to be unlucky enough to get nuked twice and survive both.

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I imagine they left a few planes tied down on deck to see what effect the nuclear blast had on a carrier with planes on deck. So they weren't flyable after that. Would you want to test them? So it's possible they just left them there the whole time.

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Google drives a tenth of news traffic? That's bull-doodie, to use the technical term

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It's interesting that you talk about Germany. Because it's arguable that Google's fight with news organisations in Germany is what lead to this whole Commission reappraisal of the case in the first place.

Juncker was looking unlikely to be EU Commission President. No-one has ever been given the job before, if one of the large countries has objected. Actually I think every country has had a de facto veto on the Commission President. And it was only because of a power grab by the European Parliament, with their Spitzenkandidaten wheeze, that Juncker even got seriously into the running.

Even then, because Cameron didn't want him, and Merkel didn't really either, he wouldn't have got the job. Then the German press suddenly got on the case, and campaigned for him, that it was a disgrace that Merkel was over-ruling the EP's agreed scheme - that the candidate picked by the biggest party in the Euro elections should get the top job. Merkel I guess wasn't that committed eitherh way, and decided not to waste political capital on the issue, so broke her deal with Cameron and he got the job.

What's interesting is that his campaign manager had just had a meeting with Axel Springer after the elections, and then their papers ran the big campaign in Germany that got Merkel to change her mind. And Axel Springer have been fighting Google in the courts for years over news aggregation, and other things.

Plus privacy and control of personal information have been a top political issue in Germany for years. It was a big thing when I worked for a US multi-national, and we wanted to hold our employee data on our central servers in the US, but weren't legally allowed to with the German stuff. Although I have a feeling they eventually decided to just do it anyway, and pay the fine if they ever got caught... But I suspect the German staff would have ratted them out if they were ever so foolish.

So the new commission may well have been going to go after Google anyway. And that may have persuaded Axel Springer to support them. Or this may be a pay-off for a large political favour. Or just co-incidence, as the last Commission had failed to get a satisfactory resolution with Google, and so further action was inevitable.

In my opinion this has been coming for a long time. Google are way too big for their boots. They've been getting more-and-more arrogant for the last decade, and they've been obviously heading for a Microsoft monent for ages. They don't seem to have learn from MS. The damage done to their reputation by poor security and monopoly abuse is still ongoing and huge. Despite them having actually been quite good for the last nearly 10 years (in that they're now way better on security, and also much better on standards compliance). Obviously many people still regard Metro as evil, but that's not illegal-evil...

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Re: Lack of feasible competition

Google aren't being threatened with a wrist-slapping (or worse) for their search monopoly. They're allowed to operate a monopoly, which they won fair-and-square.

What they're being accused of (in various markets) is leveraging that search monopoly to win there as well. As Microsoft were allowed their Windows monopoly, but weren't supposed to use it to win the search engine wars. Or the office wars. In both cases they used un-documented hooks in the operating system, and with IE they installed it for free on new systems.

So Google are being accused of using their top-notch general search engine to push for dominance in specialist search, by downgrading the results of other companies. Hence pushing their own shopping search results (admitted by their own testers to be inferior apparently), above other companies'. The same accusation is made with maps and whatever Google call their user reviews service nowadays (over Yelp and TripAdviser).

Now in some cases you may say that Google's is better, so why worry. But then that's because you might not have seen the alternative, as Google weren't linking to them, and those alternative companies never got a chance to access the market, because Google have a monopoly on search, and blocked them.

Europe also seem to be looking at Android now. Where they may be arguing that Google has abused its monopoly in online advertising/search to offer Android for free, and destroy competition from other players. That looks a lot less cut and dried.

As does news. Google have an uncomfortable amount of power in the news market, but don't actually compete in it, at least in some ways. On the other hand, if they can hoover up the lion's share (or even a big chunk) of the advertising revenue using their search dominance, it could be argued they're also abusing their monopoly. Even if not, it's a concern. As Google produce no news content themselves, and the content providers are already cash-strapped. The less money gets paid to news gathering organisations, the less quality news we'll get, and the less well our democracies will work. So this is a politically significant issue, as well as a legal/business one.

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DRONE ALONE: US Navy secretary gives up on manned fighters

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Re: All will be well then...

John Brown (with or without body),

To be fair to the Navy, automating large ships is a rather different proposition. With an aircraft, dropping the pilot might well save you a significant cost of the actual aircraft (as it doesn't require all the survival systems to keep him alive). It can also become better at its job, by being a different shape for stealth, pulling much more g force, or replacing the weight of pilot and cockpit with more fuel or weapons. Even then we're talking capital cost of the aircraft in the tens of millions.

Ships come in the hundreds of millions to billions. Their shape is decided by hydrodynamics, the speeds they wish to achieve, and how much crap they need to carry. They could certainly do without quite a lot of their crews (I would imagine weapons systems will become more and more automated as systems like AEGIS are), but they require damage conrol crews. Seeing as you need a decent number of people to still fight the ship while others are repairing it, you then end up with larger crew sizes. Whereas damage control in aircraft is something we'll have to wait for R2D2 for.

Things like missiles take up a lot of space, as does fuel. And to get a high speed and carry all that crap, you end up having to build a long thin ship anyway, to hold the engines and get the speed. So the crew are less of a burden to a system that already needs to be a decent size.

I guess there'll be a balance of increasing automation and maintaining spare crew for emergencies. For example the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers use smaller crews than the old Invincible class, which were under half the size. The new American Ford class ones are going to operate on hundreds fewer crew as well.

Also ships will often need things like landing parties, and boarding parties. They go on diplomatic visits and do disaster rescue work. What ships do is too varied. And I suspect a lot of stuff isn't automated because you need some crew around to fix it when it breaks (or gets shot), so you may as well keep the buggers busy. Finally a drone plane is only going flying for a day or two. Ships deploy for months.

It ought to make sense to have smaller drone-ships, in the few hundred tonne class of missile corvettes though, that could operate to support a larger fleet, and be maintained by them (as well as acting as their protective pickets).

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El Reg Summer Lectures Span Dark Net, Rare Earths, and Vintage Tech

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Re: Give us streaming video

I don't think they'll live stream it, but if you look around on the site, they've got videos up for the 3 they did before Christmas. So I suspect they'll do a bit of judicious editing and then put them online a week or two later.

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