* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3694 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Hipsters ahoy! Top Ten BOARD games for festive family fun

I ain't Spartacus
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I want Space Crusade. Picked up 2 copies and the Dreadnought expansion for a bargain-tastic total of £20, when Tesco decided they needed the space. Sadly my brother later borrowed them, and lost them.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Can anyone recommend a starter gamer for 9yr old?

I'do not realised, you can still get a truly brilliant game. It's called Bausack.

It's great because it works on so many levels. It's basically a bag of wooden blocks. With which you have to build a tower. You can either play with kids to build the highest tower, or as a nasty game where you have to pay to get rid of really difficult pieces. But you're in trouble once you run out of money, because your friends can lumber you with the worst pieces. However this is when the game gets better. Even the worst pieces have at least one flat spot so it's possible to build ludicrous towers, when everyone expected you to go out several rounds ago.

There's a couple of other games as well. This game brings out the inner child who wants to build blocks in most adults. So while the gamers are enjoying the auction side of things, non-gamers just hav3 fun playing Bob the Builder.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Can anyone recommend a starter gamer for 9yr old?

Monkeyman,

For a cheap quick cardgame there's Munchkin or Braggart. Both are quite silly/fun, although Braggart at least probably wants more than 2 players.

Another multi-player cheapy cardgame is No Thanks. It's quick, so if you cock it up you soon get another go to get your revenge. It's a reverse auction where you're paying to not get bad cards, but eventually have to take something nasty - lest you end up with worse. Again though, not 2 player, needs bigger groups.

There's a bunch of cooperative games. Flashpoint (firemen), Outbreak (fighting plague) or back to being stupid there's Red November - where you're drunk gnomes trying to save your sinking nuclear sub. Co-ops are good as teaching aids, as it's you against the system, and it's not so bad losing, as you lose together. The danger is that players can find themselves dominated, and effectively being told what to do, if they're not careful. Which becomes dull.

Ticket to Ride is always regarded as a popular starter game. I don't know if you can still get the old games like Spacehulk, but things like that and Bloodbowl with nice minatures are fun.

Claustrophobia is good. You've got nice pieces, it's two player one as the goodies and one as the demonic dungeon master. And you build the map as you play, as well as having at least ten different scenarios. So it's got good replayability. And what's not to like about slaughtering knights with hordes of demons...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Escape from...

Is Escape from Colditz any good then? I picked up a 2nd hand copy years ago, out of pure childhood nostalgia. But I got the impression that it wasn't all that good. Should I dig it out and persuade a few victims friends to play?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Oooooh... pretty!

If he likes that, try him on Braggart. Utterly stupid game, but funny. Even competitive people tend to play it more for laughs than points. Although I think it really needs at least 4 players. And the game aspect seems to work properly too, even when you do play for points.

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The Shock of the New: The Register redesign update 4

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Re: Update 3

Did you not get the singing cuddly vulture delivered by UPS yesterday? It explains the corporate rationale for the redesign, sings we wish you a Merry Christmas, and then updates you on version 3.

I thought everyone had got it.

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Judge spanks SCO in ancient ownership of Unix lawsuit

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Linux

Re: time to die

You cannot kill SCO! Darl is... [cue music] ... The McBride of Dracula! Mwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Who'd'a thunk it

Are you sure? I always thought that cockroaches were expected to survive nuclear armageddon, and replace us?

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Happy

Re: Good gawd/ess.

One clinical sign of lawyerdom is doing the same thing over and over (and over) again, each time expecting any old result, so long as you keep on getting paid... Just sayin'

jake,

I hope you don't mind it I do a little editing to improve your text...

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Johnson & Johnson snatches your .baby for $3m

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Devil

Re: " So far ICANN has pocketed over $30m in auction fees...

Interestingly ICANN has just held an auction for awarded itself .bonus.

Various corporate institutions are very sad to have lost the opportunity to have this gTLD. However after deciding between keeping fat.bonus, undeserved.bonus and fuck-you.bonus, ICANN are planning to make some extra.bonus by selling .bonus registrations to banks, global corporations and FIFA.

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How much for a wrist job? A tenner normally, but for this one, over $30k

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Devil

Re: Hmmmm...

And Snow Tigerskin carpeting

How common! All my furniture is uphostered in only the finest pandaskin.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: We aren't going to make it, are we?

Oh I don't know. There's hope. Maybe in twenty years Harrods will sell you the very latest Dragon XX Weekender - for his 'n' hers special weekend spacejaunts. But if that's too common for you, you'll be able to have a special version (for 50 times the price) in all black with black buttons and a black light to light up black and tell you when you've pressed them.

Plus diamond-encrusted flying cars and solid gold personal robots to do your cooking and washing up.

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TALE OF FAIL: Microsoft offers blow-by-blow Azure outage account

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P. Lee,

We're a small company. Fewer than 10 people. We have no IT people (I'm strictly an amateur), and with two people on the road, and several working at least as much from home as the office.

So anything we do in-house would need to involve paying someone competent to set up and manage it. I can do a bunch of stuff, and the internet means I can work out a lot of the rest - however unskilled but vaguely competent isn't really good enough.

For companies like us the cloud is amazing. There are all sorts of things like CRM that we couldn't have dreamed of doing 15 years ago, and when we looked at it 10 years ago were prohibitively expensive. There are various risks with cloud providers, but these are no worse than the risks of us (basically me) buggering up running our own server(s).

So cloudy accounts and payroll for the 2 of us who need it. CRM that we can all access, including from mobiles / tablets. Office 365 - so we've got linked diaries and our CRM can link our emails in. And all for less than £4k a year. Chuck in 1 or 2 new laptops a year and that's an amazing IT budget for what we get.

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I ain't Spartacus
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We went with a cloudy online accounts package. Not picked by me, but I did a bit of research, and was not impressed to find they'd had an outage the previous year, where they'd not only been down for about 4 days, but also lost a couple of previous days work for clients. I'm guessing the incremental backups were buggered too, so they had to go back to a full one. That could actually be hard to fix, if you don't know exactly what you input when - and you've filed the paperwork as you input it.

The reason I didn't object is that they had a full post-mortem. They'd published what was happening at the time, then had blog posts every week or so for the next few months, with what had gone wrong, why, what mistakes they'd made, what they were thinking of doing to stop it in future, and then what progress they were making on setting up their systems.

It was because they'd started small, grown, then not upped the IT to match the new business. It was impressive enough that we went with them. Any cloudy accounts is a risk, but ours are simple enough that we can rebuild from our locally held copy of their backup (something they introduced after the fiasco) - and it wouldn't actually be that expensive to rebuild from the filed paperwork.

Actually they're now several years from doomsday, so I wonder if complacency will be kicking in again, and we should move to another supplier who's just had a major cock-up themselves and is now in full repentance mode?

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Scrooges rejoice! Beancounters find formula for perfect Xmas party

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Devil

Re: No names but....

+1 upvote but you failed to mention "shareholder value"

It has come to our attention at I ain't Spatacus that a few of our customers may have been affected by an omission from our previous statement. Mistakes may have been made and we would like to offer our apologies to those few people who may have been affected. I would like to assure all stakeholders that lessons have been learned, and that these learnings will be ongoing into the future in order to ensure that such problems cannot occur again. Thus increasing shareholder value and customer takeaway.

[Better? Bleurgh!]

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Happy

Re: What the sam hell is cracker pulling?

After consuming sufficient alcohol to be able to break the social bonds, but not so much as to be unable to excercise judgement, if one manages to leave the pub with a sexually attractive person one didn't arrive with - one is said to have "pulled a cracker".

I wasn't aware that they were delived to Christmas parties in boxes before, but our laws are becoming ever more liberal, so I'm not entirely surprised.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: No names but....

But in a yuletide celebratory scenario such as this, one has to leverage the synergistic opportunities presented to the management team of the gathering of all the drones human resource units in one location space. This can be bootstrapped as a valuable engagement and learning enviornment to build both excellent intra-team and inter-departmental communication and understanding. Adding in an extra management protocol of cracker gamification, intensifies the strategic impact for only a small extra resource input.

[I feel soiled now]

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Friday: SpaceX will attempt to land rocket on floating, robotic 'spaceport drone ship'

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Re: After landing

In one sense, it doesn't matter. If they can land a few rockets on a plaform successfully, they'll soon get permission for landing on dry land. And won't have to worry any more.

Obviously they'd like the rockets to survive, so they can play with them, or even re-launch one.

They could use those harpoons that helicopters do when they land on ships. But it's probably quite hard to recruit a crew to volunteer to sit on the platform and tie it down. If it doesn't blow up first.

They'll have to hope for the right weather. And presumably they can board the platform afterwards, and secure it. Assuming the weather holds out. But the landing legs are 70 feet across. and seeing as the fuel tanks will be empty, and the upper stages are in space, the rocket should be quite bottom heavy.

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Re: Fingers crossed...

I still like Elon Musk's twitter comment on the last landing (sea-ing?) test - where he said something like, the rocket wasn't able to remain vertical on entering the sea, so structual integrity was lost - i.e. KABOOM!

If there's one thing that we should know to expect from rocket tests by now, it's KABOOM! Rockets are really good at going bang.

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American bacon cured with AR-15 assault rifle

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Re: Bah!

Did you see the pictures? It looked like one of those air-fresheners you see hanging in the front of taxis. Cardboard, but with a slight aroma of somethingorother.

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Deprivation Britain: 1930s all over again? Codswallop!

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Re: When I were a lad...

Easy! In my day we had to punch it onto cards, then post it off to t'data centre to be run on t'central computer.

etc. etc. etc.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: When I were a lad...

Pah! You've got it easy! In my day we had it much tougher. You couldn't just go online and copy Pytho scripts of t'interwebs. You had to type them in manually. From memory.

Also, I don't hold with all this sex on television. I keep falling off...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: "We may not be doing all that well but we're a damn sight richer than our grandparents were. "

Most of them rented, and also slept several to a bed, let alone a bedroom. As well as outdoor toilets, no bathrooms and no central heating. Not to mention rickets, TB, polio, no antibiotics, limited healthcare...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Ah right...

And what do you stand for? As it would be nice to know your biases, so I can assess your contribution to the discussion. Oh no, that's right, you haven't made any.

You've attacked the author for the party he's affiliated with, but not any of the arguments he's made. So you've contributed fuck-all of value. Please come back when you've a problem to point out with the argument that he's actually bothered to make.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Not the economy, stupid.

The difference is that in the 1930s there wasn't very much of a social safety-net. And now there is. Inequality went down slightly during this present crash, because the poorest have a minimum wage, and (as long as it doesn't get cocked up) have a bunch of benefits available to stop them starving. So there's a basic minimum income that everyone can get. Obviously you can argue about what that should be. So yes, the drop in the size of the economy was the same in percentage terms, but the economy is so vastly bigger that this has had less effect, as there's still loads left to go round. But also we have a whole bunch of government schemes that funnel money to the poorest. Which weren't there in the 1930s.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: I agree with Tim Worstall

What I find interesting is the coincidence between Government spending as a percentage of GDP and the whole of the country (poor and rich alike) getting better off.

ST7,

Could be an interesting piece for a book. Well enormous academic economic tome I guess... Bloody hard to get good figures for.

Remember that national income and standards of living also rocketed during the 19th Century, and yet government spending didn't. Although given we spend lots on benefits for the very poorest in society, there's bound to be a strong causation for them doing better the higher government spending is.

There's bound to be a point where extra government spending makes everyone poorer, for example the Soviet Union. And there's also probably a large time lag effect.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Oh, well *that's* alright, then...

Graham Marsden,

This wasn't an article about UKIP. It was an article on the meaning of the figures that get thrown around in the discussions. Hence it's a useful attempt to be informative.

Mostly the author is also quite clear where he's reporting on the facts, and what the stats mean. As opposed to where he's making comment about his personal opinion. Although there's always the risk that he's cherry-picking data. And he does tend to chuck in a bit of anti-Guardian snark.

It's certainly not a comment on Nige's policies. Have UKIP even got any policies that don't get junked after the first contact with the enemy journalists?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Ah right...

J.R. Hartley,

Perhaps you'd like to contribute constructively to the discussion, perhaps even with some actual arguments. As opposed to chucking random, unfunny, catty comments at other people, while adding fuck-all of actual use?

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I ain't Spartacus
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jonathan keith,

You have to argue about relative or absolute poverty, for any of this discussion to be meaningful. The two can mean totally different things.

<blockquote.People may not actually *be* poor, according to some arbitrary chart, but if they see that those at the top of the ladder are vastly wealthier than they are, and that those people are getting more and more of the pie each day, as inequality grows, then those people *feel* poor, and angry to boot.</blockquote>

Actually inequality has gone down in the UK in this recession. Or at least had from the last figures I checked. This is becasue a lot of the rich lost quite a lot and the proportion of taxes being paid by the rich has gone up. Also because of benefits and a minimum wage, the poorest haven't got poorer - a possible exception here possibly being incapacity benefit. The people who've suffered most in this recession are probably the skilled working class / lower middle class types (in as much as those terms still have meaning).

Also if your problem is inequality, it'll never be solved. There's always been inequality in society, and there always will be. So what arbitrary chart are you planning to use to measure this?

I wasn't happy with the analysis from The Spirit Level. I'm not sure it ever sorted out what was correlation, and what was causation. It rather looked like it was cherry-picking it's figures in a lot of cases to make the graphs look better. And it ought to be easier to have lower inequality in small countries with relatively homogenous populations than bigger (more mixed) ones.

Whilst inequality can be truly toxic (see Russia for example) it can also be good. Take Google for example. That's made a small number of people vastly wealthy, because they've created a company that they own a large chunk of that's gone from nothing to global behemoth in just 15 years. Google may have it's problems (privacy, monopolistic behaviour), but it's also generated loads of wealth and helped improve society. Now it might have happened in Scandinavia too, but it didn't. Most of these huge tech companies have come from the less equal USA. But The Spirit Level doesn't seem to discuss that. Like all social questions, it's horribly complicated.

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TheOtherHobbes,

Those numbers are meaningless without context. For example a quick Google gives UK infant mortality being 4 per 1,000 live births. So if it's really 10% more (and assuming my quick Google gave comparable figures) - that would be 4.4 per thousand for those in relative poverty. Which is a difference, but a much smaller one that the weasely use of 10% would suggest.

A bit like so many health-scare bollocks stories in the press. Where a 10% rise in a tiny risk, leaving it as still a tiny risk, is played up as a hugely significant thing.

Families living in poverty can have as little as £12 per day per person to buy everything they need such as food, heating, toys, clothes, electricity and transport.

So that's £336 per week for a family of 4 (£17,500 per year). And that's apparently not including housing costs. I can feed 4 for £100 a week well and easily. So let's add in £30 for bog-roll/cleaning/sundries. Say £7k + £2k per year for heating, another £1k for phones/internet/water - that's £10k - leaving another £7,500 for clothes, travel, sundries, and a cheap holiday. That looks pretty doable to me.

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Re: Difficult calculation

Don't forget even in the seemingly easy comparisons it's all different. I can feed 10 people (or one person for a week) for a couple of quid with veggie curry. It'll taste nice, and be nutritious. Up that a tenner, and it'll have identifiable bits of meat in it too. Somewhere in between determines whether it's mystery meat, and how much there is. Make that £30 and there'll be several glasses of beer/wine and pudding. Even the expensive option is well under 1 day of the minimum wage.

I suspect the cheap option hasn't changed in price massively over the years. Although there was a period of the industrial revolution when lots of people were now livinig in towns, so didn't have the option to just grow stuff themselves, if there was no work. But the variety available has, and the posh grub at the top end has plummeted in price. For £50 a week (1 day at the minimum wage), I can eat meat twice a day, have wine with every meal, pudding, biscuits, crisps - and basically gorge myself silly. On produce from all over the world, ignoring the seasons.

I believe the rule-of-thumb in the Victorian era was you could have 1 pineapple per month per horse you owned. At least if you were prepared to collect all the horse poo, and use it to keep a mini-greenhouse toasty and fertilised. And that doesn't take into account the salary of the gardener. But if you could afford horses and greenhouses, gardeners were cheap. Hence serving pineapple with Christmas dinner was apparently a huge late 19th C status symbol.

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Re: Slight edit error

Mark 65,

Any long-term measure of inflation is by definition bollocks. it's not their fault, it's just the job is impossible. If you've ever studied any kind of economic or social history, these kind of calculations are a nightmare.

The things you're comparing are just too hard. As an example, craftsmanship matters so much less, due to mass production. A hand-made pair of boots is now a luxury, even though it might actually cost a similar amount in inflation terms to the 1930s or the 1830s. Say it costs around a week's wages for a skilled worker then and now (which is probably reasonable for many periods). The difference is I don't need to spend £500 on handmade shoes, I can get cheap ones for £30 or pay £100 for something that'll last years. Those last two options weren't available, except that you could get second-hand stuff. Obviously no-one in the 1930s had iPads, or the option to pop to the supermarket for strawberries in December, or Australian wine.

So you're actually dealing with too many moving targets. Wage inflation is different to price inflation is different to the amount of new things appearing on the market. And they all move at different speeds. My parents bought a fridge when they got married in the 60s. It cost £80. They replaced it when it died in the late 80s for about the same price. The difference was that £80 had gone from being several months salary to only a few days pay.

My personal take is to compare things that are as obvious as possible, like the price of a loaf of bread, or the wage of a skilled worker. Or to look at contemporary documents. Sherlock Holmes is a great guide for example. Conan Doyle talks about incomes a lot in those books. So someone with an income of £1,000 a year in the late 19th C could probably have a home in London plus maybe a place in the country, with a couple of servants in each. Where £50 would get you a decent life. You wouldn't be able to buy an iPad with it - but then neither would the rich bugger with two houses.

When you look at ancient history, it gets even harder. And the income disparities become unimaginable. The Romans had this brief fashion in the late republic / early principate period for going slave-tastic. So to prove just how stinkingly rich you were, you'd have a slave just to hold the towels for your guests. Another just to open the door, several to fan your guests, more to take coats. Just so you could brag to your mates about how loaded you were. This was partly because the price of slaves went down due to all the military victories (hence the captives), but also because they were just getting so immensely rich.

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Screwball ruble closes Apple's Russia store, whole kit and caboodle

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Paris Hilton

Re: On a more serious note...

ZanzibarRastapopulous,

Not sure why you choose to advertise your short attention span, and/or lack of ability to comprehend complex arguments. But whatever floats your boat...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: One-to-One?

(Not quite as extreme as a DEC salesman who told someone trying to order a microvax that for the job they wanted it for then a cheap PC plus an Ethernet card was a better solution and there was no need to buy anything from him)

I do that all the time. I believe in some sales training they call it the difference between farmers and hunters. Or some such bollocks.

We as a company are trying to maintain a reputation. Thus lots of people phone me with technical questions about how to do stuff legally and safely (I'm in the water industry). If we have a product to help, I can then try to get them to buy it. Our reputation for technical competence means we can get away with selling some stuff more expensively than our competitors (so it does the job properly and doesn't have to be built down to a price), although quite a lot of our stuff is unique.

It gets people coming back. Probably it gives people confidence that I know what I'm talking about, if I'm not bullshitting to get them to buy something all the time. Selling is what you do when you know what the project actually requires, and are now getting down to how much to pay for whatever solution they've picked. It's either that or my wonderful personality... [insert simley face here]

On some of our stuff we compete on price on commodity hardware, which is a bit different.

The friend of mine who had the sales training about hunters and farmers worked for Computer Associates (before they were CA). They were definitely Hunters. I don't think having happy customers who'd want to come back was an objective of theirs. Although I'm not so sure about tying unhappy customers into long contracts...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: On a more serious note...

...how's this likely to affect the IISS recrewing and supply missions

Roger Stenning,

They apparently get lots of their parts from abroad now. The space industry supply chain is much more international than it was 20 years ago. I guess that was one of the aims of the ISS project?

But that's OK. As they also get paid in foriegn currency for foreign astronauts. So they can buy those parts with that hard currency, and then when they convert the remainder to devalued Roubles to buy the Russian bits of the rockets, they get a huge extra boost of spending power.

This leads me to think they'll stay with the ISS program, as it gives them good publicity, prestige and hard currency. That also subsidises Roscosmos, and helps pay for now expensive foreign rocket parts for the military side of space. I guess they can also start producing more of their own parrts again, as it'll now be cheaper to produce in Russia. And it's not as if they don't still have the skills.

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Re: On a more serious note...

What a load of old tosh!

Fistly the Rusian ecnomy isn't all that big, compared to the rest of the world. In normal times a collapse like this would be only a tiny blip. In these fevered times it's possible that it could start an emerging market meltdown, that plunges the world back into recession. On the other hand, there was always going to be a withdrawal of liquidity from emerging markets, because the US have stopped doing QE. This has been happening for months, with the odd big blip in the market, but so far no collapse. What makes things easier now is that the oil price has collapsed. So although Turkey is getting hit now, it will probably recover, because its oil is only costing half as much, and it's able to produce lots of exports. Whereas 70% of Russia's exports are oil/gas, and that's just halved in value. So they've taken a 35% hit in export value over about 3 months. Painful. Not to mention that Russia's main gas market (the EU) has cut it's demand for Russian gas by a third this year, as liquid natural gas has got cheaper and more plentiful, and trust in Russia has collapsed.

There is a problem for emerging market countries that have heavily borrowed in dollars, while they were cheap, as the dollar is now heading north, so repaying their loans will cost more. Russia being one of these countries. That's one of the main worries about the global economy - after the continuing Eurozone clusterfuck.

But the economic impact of Russia's problems on the EU is minimal. Germany is the biggest trading partner. I really can't see Russian problems causing China anything more than a blip.

As for sanctions ending cooperation, I doubt it. This crisis should be reinforcing to the Russian government that they actually need the West. They chose to align their economy more with the international one, after the Soviet experiment in going it alone turned out not to work so well. They've done quite well out of it, and this is a good sign of the costs of saying fuck-you to everyone else. Whether that's a sign Putin and co will choose to ignore, I can't judge. I used to think he was a very rational calculator - but his actions in the Ukraine looked like some pretty short-termist gambling, that's turned out horribly badly. So maybe he's not so rational after all?

Anyway the Russians like their imports now. So they'll probably want hard currency. And the ISS gives them hard currency, while supporting their hi-tech space industry. Apparently that now uses a lot of foreign-made parts, which have just doubled in price. So the ISS cash ought to be welcome. The profit on that has just also doubled, as they get paid in hard currency, so can buy the parts, but then that gets twice as many roubles, so can give all their suppliers and staff a pay rise (to cushion inflation), whilst still improving profits. Exports are yummy when your currency collapses, and not to be lightly spurned.

As for sanctions, even the new ones Congress have passed are all still pretty minor. The US and EU have been very careful to only use the most limited sanctions, to make a point. They didn't aim to have this catastrophic effect (even though they always could have), but to ramp up the pressure slowly and give Putin space and time to back down. A lot of what Congress has passed gives Obama the power to impose new sanctions, which he doesn't have to use. In my opinion it would be worth offering Russia a deal to help prop up the Rouble now. The problem is Putin has lied and broken so many deals over Ukraine, that it's hard (probably pointless) to give him the reward before he's actually delievered on the promise. I guess we could just do it anyway, and hope for the best - and it's also a good way of giving confidence in the other emerging markets under attack.

By the way, we didn't sponsor the Chechen fighters. The West were specifically also worried about islamist fighters training in Chechenya - which is why we didn't protest about the hideous Russian human rights abuses there (which made Iraq look like a picnic in comparison). There was a hell of a lot of security cooperation with Russia (particularly in Central Asia), as the US in particular were keen to build a closer relationship with Russia, precisely so this kind of stuff didn't end up happening. The Russians created their own terrorist problem in Chechenya with no help from anyone else at all. Although I'm sure the usual suspects in the Middle East were funding the jihadis, as have been in Pakistan, Syria, Libya etc.

I would not like to think what will emerge now and frankly he was spot on in his interview at the 20 summit in Melbourn - some people are playing with fire without understanding the full consequences of what they are doing.

That is certainly true. Putin has now invaded two of his neighbours and effectively annexed some of their territory. In the case of Crimea, explicitly so. And that's something that's not happened in Europe since WWII. Even the Germans, who's foreign policy consensus has been built on trying to build bridges with Russia since the 1960s, have taken a step back and decided to try another tack.

Putin has crossed a line from being prickly, hard to deal with and (possibly over-) protective of Russian interests - to looking like an outright threat to the territorial integrity of some of his neighbours. And we have military alliances with some of them. He's also playing with fire diplomatically by doing stupid things like lying about using Russian troops to annex Crimea and in Ukraine. Then doing deals on ceasefires, while sending in more troops and arms and lying about it. This is the worst kind of Kevin-the-teenager type of diplomacy. Perhaps he thinks it's funny to face people down and outright lie to their faces. But how do you make peace with people who can't trust you? If you break treaties and agreements then no-one will give you a concession before you've delivered on your half of the bargain first. And this is very hard to stomach and embarrassing. And embarrassment is something that dictators can't take much of, because dictators maintain their power by the illusion of invincibility. Once that goes, no-one's scared of the threats any more. And then you can no longer make the odd example, you have to go and massacre or imprison thousands of people in order to stay in power. And that's bad for the self-image. If you're still playing the democrat, father of the nation role (and after all he can probably still genuinely win elections), it really hurts the self image to have to send in the troops to stay in charge. Also trust is vital in economics too, not just diplomacy. And Putin's regime aren't trusted. That's why the rouble collapse. Everyone wants to get their money out of Russia, where it's safe from being stolen.

I always thought Putin was Bismarck. Not a believer in democracy, but willing to use it, and subvert it just enough to stay comfortably in power. While keeping the people on-side with a mix of nationalism and improving the economy. Also a rational and seasoned political / diplomatic operator. That was certainly the mark of his first 2 terms as President. Now he seems to have lost the plot.

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Dr. Dobb's Journal sails into the sunset - yet again

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Re: Ah the nostalgia!

I think I preferred PCW. But when I bought my first PC, I had one of each. My brother and I sat in his room for a whole evening going through all 600 pages of ads (one magazine each), finding the likely ones, then compared notes at the end for the cheapest.

I seem to remember there was about 100 pages of content, and variable many hundred pages of ads. Plus the ones that had little postcards or discs stuck to their ad page, so the magazine would fall open to theirs first. You used to have to shake out all the leaflets, and remove those stuck in bits, before you could read it easily. And people say banner ads on websites are annoying...

P.S. - we need a nostalgia icon. Perhaps a pile of punch cards sat next to a cup of Ovaltine and a packet of Spangles?

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Re: Ah the nostalgia!

Happy days. When buying a PC online meant reading through 500 pages of adverts in PCW - then faxing / phoning an order through. My first PC was an Ambra - which was IBMs attempt to have a cheap consumer PC brand while still selling more expensive machines to businesses. 386SX at 25mhz, with 2MB of RAM and a 40MB hard drive. Ah nostalgia. I found my copy of Elite the other day, wonder if I could run it in DOSbox? If I still have a floppy drive somewhere?

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ASA slaps Ebuyer AGAIN - this time for ignoring regulator

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Re: What's the next level below Toothless Tiger?

There is an ultimate sanction. Because the ASA can say you're not fit to advertise without your ads bein pre-screened. Then everyone who's anyone in the advertising industry won't show their ads.

However they always seem very reluctant to use this power. And I'm not sure how effective it is anymore, as it probably doesn't apply so well online. I don't know if eBuyer do much press/radio/TV advertising.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

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Re: Designed by the monster behind this site.....

Martin-73,

Erk! AOL. I had to log into an AOL email account yesterday. Fixing a friend's pooter, and he's still got the old AOL account, and I didn't know where a password reminder was going to end up.

Truly their homepage is a horrific mess. Not quite as eye-watering as the other site, but close. The only thing on there that's subtle is the link to the webmail interface, which is exceedingly small, and well-hidden. Ugh!

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Re: Designed by the monster behind this site.....

I love that website! It's vibrant and cheerful. You have to click on Mr Punch to get to the next page. And I haven't seen so much purple and yellow capital letters on a page, since the 1990s.

It's awesome!

Oh sorry, that's a typo. I meant awful. I wish I'd put my shades on first. But it was a nice bit of nostalgia. I'm still waiting for El Reg to let us use the <blink> tag...

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Uber surge pricing kicks in during Sydney siege

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Re: Risky?

Hmmm. That seems an eminently sensible idea to me. Seatbelts on toilet seats that is. After the traditional Boxing Day brussels sprout, prune and sausagemeat curry it might be a good idea to strap in for a bumpy ride...

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Thin plot, great CGI effects

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I quite enjoyed the first Hobbit film. Not brilliant, but I enjoyed it despite its flaws. I hated the second one. Now, because I'be seen two, I have to force myself not to see the third.

Actually as the huge, overlong battles sequences from LOTR were the bits the editors should have cut to get the films to a reasonable length, I guess I should give it a miss.

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Real Ale TWATS: In SPAAAACE, no one can churn your cream

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Pint

Stuff the beer!

Which was lovely by the way. The important fact about that pub was the homicidally huge piles of pork pie death they served. Either they, or The Register, were trying to kill us!

They were so delicious, and yet so unhealthy. I highly recommend pork and black pudding pie to you all. They even had a vegetarian option. Turkey pies...

Thank you El Reg.

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Yahoo! Says! Chrome, IE Users! Should! 'Upgrade'! To! FIREFOX!

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Re: "Whether Firefox should be considered an "upgrade" for users of other browsers"

There's nothing much wrong with IE nowadays. It does the job. Same as the others.

Actually the one I personally dislike is Chrome, because it won't let me have a traditional menu bar, so I have to click on the big button on the right, that then brings up the unwieldy menu of everything. But that's a relatively minor point. I still use Firefox because I got used to it, and haven't bothered to change.

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Sonic BOOM: 10 blast-tastic soundbars

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Re: Am I missing something?

I don't want the extra bass. Firstly because I'm not a big fan of sub woofers, as they always seem to end up sounding like the bass has been tacked on as an afterthought. Although great for shotguns and explosions while gaming, obviously.

I'm also no fan of ludicrous amounts of bass in general, I'm forever turning the bass down, to try and counteract the damage done by idiot music producers/engineers.

Finally, I live in a flat. And my neighbours are nice. I already worry about the amount of bass the Denon produces. Especially in films, or when the bloody adverts come on. They seem to whack up the bass as well as the volume, the bastards.

As you say, in the end I'd rather have bigger speakers. Then again I prioritised music sound quality, and assumed the thing would make the telly sound OK. And was pleased by how well it worked out.

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UK flights CRIPPLED by system outage that shut ALL London airspace

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It was when they turned the Christmas tree lights on. There was a loud bang. Everything was plunged into darkness, and then that sad whining sound you get as all the computers power down at once - and you know that it's going to be a loooooooonng time until everything is working properly...

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Jim Willsher,

What's the battery life on your UPS, to keep your PC alive? Oh, plus the phones, radios, lights, power to the other hundred PCs, links to all the radar data you need for ATC, links to airports etc? That probably takes a tad more battery than just to give 1000W at 240V to a single desktop.

Presumably the UPS has to keep everything up long enough for the generator to fire up to keep providing power. That's assuming something hasn't gone wrong with the internal power wiring, in which case there's external power coming in, it just can't be distributed (and neither can the power from the genny).

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US Navy's LASER CANNON WARSHIP: USS Ponce sent to Gulf

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Re: Wot?

[sniffily] I wouldn't know. I don't approve of slavery.

If the the good lord had meant us to muck around with ammo and all this targetting malarkey, he wouldn't have invented smartbombs.

durka durka durka durka durka

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'I'm begging you to join' – ICANN's NetMundial Initiative gets desperate

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It's alright. It turns out that Net Mundial is a multi-stakeholder organisation. There are plenty of the more sane internet organisations out there, including many that refused the offered seats, and they're all holding stakes, ready to drive them through the heart of this organisation, so it can be buried at the nearest crossroads...

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