* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3688 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT

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Re: iBonk surely

Does this mean that when they produce the inevitable sports sensors built into a pair of pants, they won't go for iFronts, but for AppleCheeks?

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I've been a solid fan of smaller phones, and thought some of the monsters were getting ridiculous. Even though i'm one of the same people, who realises that other people's technology needs can differ from my own. My favourite smartphone case design was the HTC Desire and Wildfire.

But then I persuaded a friend to get a Galaxy Note 2. A stylus happened to suit him as a professional designer. The combination of hugeness but thinness is absolutely amazing. I've been jealous ever since, particularly whenever I try to look something up online on the iPhone.

However I can see very little justification for spending much over £200 on a phone, given the great stuff you can get for that money. Next time I'm in the position that the company isn't picking up the bill. So I'd probably still take smaller over pricier. But then I'm barely ever parted from my tablet. When this iPad dies, I really want something with a stylus.

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Ferraris, Zondas and ... er, a bike with a 500hp V10 under the saddle

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Re: Owning a Supercar...maybe 'seemed a good idea at the time'?

Totally the wrong kind of mindset for supercar ownership.

Yup. I remember seeing a little piece on TV. Can't remember what program it was, not something earth-shatteringly interesting. But they'd persuaded a chap who'd just bought a McLaren MPC-12-whatever to take their presenter out for a spin in it.

This turned out to be rather more literally than planned. It had snowed, but they went to some track or other, and were whizzing round doing laps, on the rather damp tarmac between plowed snowbanks. She was alternately going "wheeee" and "eek". Then he spun it, and stuffed it into a solid waist high snowbank at about 50. With a rather sad crunching noise.

The presenter was standing there looking like she was going to burst into tears, as they surveyed the sad wreckage of the front wing and bonnet. Commiserating about how terrible it was. And he just laughed and said that was what sportscars were for, and why you raced them on tracks. He was now a couple of mid-sized family cars poorer, but he'd got to play with his new toy for a bit, and such was life.

The ones who terrify me, as the guys who spend years lovingly restoring unique 1930s classics and racing cars. Spending hours, and thousands, sourcing parts, or getting new ones hand-made. Then taking them off to the track and racing them, often in the rain, at full pelt and competitively. And what they'll probably say, as they're interviewed over the smoking wreckage of their pride-and-joy is "that's racing". Then go back and do it all again. Loonies.

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Re: Alan Coren

Stephen Fry came out with it on 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue'. No idea if he came up with it, or just recycled it though.

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Hawking: Higgs boson in a BIG particle punisher could DESTROY UNIVERSE

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Coat

Yeah, you want to watch out for the marmalade virus, it's got a 100% mortality rate. If you get it, you're toast.

The other problem with it, is how easily it spreads.

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Alien Ninja Fembot Pirates vs the Jedi SAS Chuck Norris startroopers: RUMBLE

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Zombies couldn't even beat my 7 year-old nephew

Or so I discovered on Thursday night, when I was asked to babysit. He had requested his Uncle iPad I ain't Spartacus, for no ulterior motives whatsoever. Oh no.

He then requested a bedtime story in which he defeated zombies with a chainsaw. Oh dear, oh dear, youth of today, I blame the parents etc. Not wishing to discuss blood-soaked hacked off limbs flying through the air, just before turning the lights out, the conversation moved on to how zombies go to the toilet. A question that still intrigues me now, as if they eat brains then surely they've got to go... Whether dead, alive or undead, what goes up must come down.

Anyway, it turns out a 7 year-old can defeat these moaning shufflers in time for tea and medals. I'm hoping he's a good deal older before I get asked about Aliens or Kate Beckinsale in tight, wet leather.

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Microsoft's SELFIE-TASTIC Nokia 830, 730: Complete with DOG SMILE WHITENER

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Re: They really need to change

The UI is the best bit about it. As a phone. Big writing, for those of us caught on the street without our reading glasses. Big buttons for same. Shame the live tiles thing still doesn't seem to work properly. Although I don't personally want anything other than notifications on those anyway.

Plus the People Hub which is better than anything Google or Apple have managed, but possibly only about as good as the new Blackberry.

The real problem is that it's still not fully polished and consistent when using the less-common bits of the OS. Also the lack of apps, which I understand is a lot better than when I used a Win Phone, but still not as good as iOS or Android.

When it comes to SatNav and using it as a phone, my old Lumia 710 is still much better than my work iPhone 5. As a mobile computer the iPhone is way better.

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Re: Losing the shutter button is a bad idea

Doesn't the volume button now control the shutter?

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Work in the tech industry? The Ukraine WAR is coming to YOU

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Re: Yup. had that in apartheid South Africa

you overlook, that _relative_ poverty, unlike in the West, does not turn the Russians against their government

For a bit. But Putin's whole schtick is that he's going to make the economy strong, and make Russia militarily/diplomatically strong again. Thumbing his nose at the West is good. That shows he's strong. Collapsing the economy shows he's incompetent. In the long term, I don't think he can survive that and remain popular. He can resort to massive repression to keep power, but that's not the same.

At the moment he's playing Bismarck. Nationalist, and not a democrat, but definitely not a dictator, and both democratically elected and popular. It's a role he's been very successful at. The democracy may be extremely ropey, but I think it's pretty clear he's the legitimate leader the people of Russia want.

It's a completely different kettle of fish when you have to start killing your opponents en masse. That's a huge hit to your own self-image, as well as that of your supporters. When you can no longer excuse the odd murdered journalist and arrested opponent as cracking down on hooliganism and protecting stability. Once you have snipers picking off demonstrators then you're turning into Assad. The Yanukovych government couldn't survive doing it. Could Putin's? He's got a lot more ex-KGB people on board. But they're the foreign intelligence types. The story the KGB sells is how they fought the Cold War but Gorbachev stabbed us in the back, and surrendered. But that KGB narrative rather neglects all the Russians that they arrested, tortured and killed. The story they tell themelves, and their public, is of being Cold Warriors. Good Russian spies fighting foreigner threats. It's a lot less fun and heroic being the murdering bastards who arrest and torture fellow Russians...

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Re: Sanctions @ I ain't Spartacus

These are all valid concerns you list. I don't have definitive answers to that, except that there is still and still will be a lot of support for Russia (if not for Putin) among the general Ukrainian population and when the economic hardships will start to bite - will even Western support for the current government keep it from falling?

"I still don't undersand what the plan was."

You are not alone. But I actually think there wasn't a plan.

The Crimea was probably an overreaction but who knows? By doing that, Russia may well have spared its 2 million or so population from the destruction that fell upon Donetsk and Lugansk.

Or started a civil war in Ukraine that otherwise might not have happened. Obviously there was going to be civil strife. Democracy is about the losers, not the winners. It only works when the losers of the election trust the winners to let them have a fair chance next time round - and not to completely destroy their interests in the meantime. And I guess one thing people had learned in Ukraine is that if you don't like the government, you can always try occupying some buildings, and see if you can get it to change.

I've seen other suggestions that Crimea was a kneejerk reaction. A political tantrum almost. I can understand that. It was done quickly. In diplomatic terms it worked. Washington and London already distrusted the Russian government, but with a bit of diplomatic nicety, I'm sure Italy, Germany and France could have been kept onboard. But through stupidity and thuggishness, Russia has suffered massive diplomatic loss of trust and prestige.

Taking the winnings of Crimea and quitting while you're ahead would have made sense. Going on into Eastern Ukraine didn't.

Remember that in Syria Western governments agonised about giving shoulder launched SAMs to the rebels, and didn't arm them in the end. Even though they were getting bombed. Because those might turn up in dangerous hands. And yet Russia was sending full SAM systems to the rebels. Even if MH17 wasn't shot down by the rebels (and it looks pretty certain they did) there's been evidence of several of these things crossing the border at various times. That was almost bound to go wrong. And was massively irresponsible.

There I also don't think that Putin expected Kiev to shell the cities, I think he was confident they will negotiate once Poroshenko got through the elections. I thought so myself actually, or hoped.

I guess he may have over-estimated the Ukrainian government. Given how dysfunctional their politics have been since the collaps of the Soviet Union, I can't imagine why. Particularly as it seems to have been Russian policy to keep them that way.

This one comes down to how much Russia supported the rebellion. Was Putin taken by surprise, and started helping it because he thought he had to? Or was it basically instigated by Russia? If the latter, then Putin and his team are idiots. If the former, then Russia is as tangled up in events as everyone else. And having played the nationalist card, it's then very hard to make the compromises required for peace. As China will find with all its maritime border disputes.

It's too easy to blame Russia for the whole rebellion. But I find it hard to believe it was spontaneous, because of how fast and successful it was at taking territory, and because so many of the leaders turned out to be Russians. Suppsedly retired, intelligence types. And there were reports at the time of people in uniform helping out, who then disappeared again. It's the Crimea play-book all over again.

Finally Angela Merkel said that she'd talked to Putin and he was disconnected from reality. It's probably what moved Germany from the ignore it and keep trading camp to the sanctions side.

In that scenario I can see no peace. And you can't blame the Ukrainian government for trying to quickly chuck the Russian invaders out, before the crisis spirals totally out of control. Even if that does mean shelling their own cities. Not that this is something Putin would stop at. The Russians totally destroyed Grozny. It's endless war on the border, where Russia doesn't want to let Ukraine win, but doesn't want to take over the destroyed territory and spend money to rebuild. Given the Russian government is about to be a lot poorer, due to sanctions.

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Re: Sanctions @Vladimir Plouzhnikov

Russia will not let go of Ukraine for the reasons I outlined and sanctions will not deter it, therefore, the only practical solution to this is for the government in Kiev to stop their "anti-terrorist operation" (which is a disgrace by all accounts) and negotiate with the East and with Russia a settlement. Quite what that might be I don't know, but it will consist of some concession on autonomous powers, some guarantee of retaining influence by the East-Ukrainian "oligarchs" and some undertakings to Russia that Ukraine will not be joining NATO

Vladimir Plouzhnikov,

I disagree with quite a bit of your analysis, but see where you're coming from. However, Russia has lost Ukraine. It was a mess, with a tension between the pro-Russian and more pro-Western populations. By removing Crimea that population balance is now broken. How can there ever be a pro-Russian government again?

Current Russian government policy is a disaster on its own terms. They've gained Crimea, and may gain the Eastern parts of Ukraine, although I don't think they want them. However the cost is enormous. Any possibility of partnership with the EU is now gone. The Russian economy needs lots of foreign investment. That's unlikely to happen for years. That's going to ruin Putin's narrative of being the strong-man who sorted out the economic chaos. The oligarchs taking most of the money will look a lot worse once ordinary people are struggling like the 90s again.

Also, they already had Crimean bases. Ukraine would have agreed another lease, even if it took gas blackmail like before. Which I doubt it would. But with Ukraine as a weak state on the border still. I can't see Russia wanting to have to suppress 30m people by invading. So what's the remnant of Ukraine going to do now? Quietly hate Russia, and build up their army, while trying to get into NATO. Like Georgia I'm sure they won't be allowed more than a partnership agreement. But that will involve training and weapons sales. If Russia absorbs the rebel republics they'll have to worry about that security threat anyway. Whereas NATO would never have allowed Ukraine to join before either, so there'd have been no threat. Or at least not until they'd got a stable political system, and got some of the nastier ex-soviet elements out of the military and intelligence apparatus. If Russia doesn't absorb the rebels, but lets them form mini-states, then Ukraine may eventually re-invade. Autonomy is probably the best option, but have Russia given the rebels so much support that they'll refuse to agree to that? Then it's back to more fighting, Ukraine eventually getting the upper hand, and Russia having to recommit troops.

It's a horrible mess. If Putin had left well enough alone, Ukrainian politics would have carried on as normal, another corrupt government would have come in, and nothing much would probably have changed.

Or was his real fear not NATO. But an oligarch being overthrown, and maybe this time people getting organised to clean-up their politics? That might be too close to comfort for the current Russian system? I don't know, I still don't undersand what the plan was. Or what he's hoping to gain.

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Re: Hurting russia is easy

<blockquote.Well, if there is a sure way of getting Russian tanks rolling over Khreschatik Avenue in Kiev ASAP - that's certainly it.</blockquote>

I agree. It's Ukraine's trump card. Not as powerful as the hand the Russians are holding, and massively hurts Ukraine, but could really screw Putin's plans up.

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Re: Sanctions against the US when?

Nice job of smuggling in the assertion you are trying to prove. You begin by talking about "Russia's invasion of Ukraine", which is logically similar to "the golden mountain" - something that does not exist.

Tom Welsh,

Last year Crimea was part of Ukraine. This year it's mysteriously part of Russia. After denying the intervention of Russian troops in these events, Mr Putin awarded them medals in a televised ceremoney 3 weeks later.

Most of those troops may have started in Russian bases, allowed by treaty. But they weren't allowed by that treaty to surround the parliament building, besiege Ukrainian military bases, or administer an illegal referendum with 2 weeks notice.

That is an invasion and annexation. It may have been the will of the people, although I doubt it. But nonetheless it was still an invasion.

As for Russia having invaded the rest of Ukraine, that's harder to prove. Russia denies it, but they may be handing out medals in a few weeks... We've go reports from Russian media and social networks of troops in Ukraine and secret funerals. Western journalists on the ground saying they've seen Russian troops, as well as interviews with Ukrainians on both sides of the conflict. Statements from rebel commanders that they have holidaying Russian troops helping them. Quite a few of those commanders are ex (or maybe current?) Russian intelligence people. NATO saying it has satellite piccies of Russian armour heading into Ukraine. Oh and the Russian President changing his story of wanting negotiations to saying yesterday that he wanted an independent buffer state now, just after the Ukrainian offensive had mysteriously collapsed - amid fresh reports of massive Russian deployments in Ukraine.

Crimea was an invasion. It's now proved, and admitted. The latest is almost certainly the same. If no conventional troops are there, the rebels are still receiving massive Russian support. That is proved and admitted.

Now what was it you were saying about argument by assertion? Oh yes, using the word Junta for the Ukrainian government. Ah yes, that'll be it. I believe your next post talks about propaganda too. Shame on you.

I shouldn't really argue with you about European politicans being bought, as it's irrelevant. Perhaps a deliberate distraction from the argument? Although you might want to provide some evidence. Particularly as Tony Blair, your example, was earning £200k a year as PM for 10 years, his wife was on £500k-£1m a year for a longer period, and they bought extensive properties in our bonkers housing market. Add in that he left Downing Street and started lecturing at £50-£100k a pop - and you shouldn't really be surprised if the guy's loaded.

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Re: Sanctions against the US when?

Tom Welsh,

Just a minute? That's the Iraqi government that won the election. Not perfect, but also not the one the US wanted. The US left because they couldn't get on with them. And the government that subsequently had closer relations with Iran than with the US. You'd have to be an idiot to think that was the outcome the US wanted.

Plus they pulled their troops out. Because they were asked, but also because the US President made it part of his election strategy. They'd have left advisors, and wanted to, but couldn't come to a deal.

So no, it clearly wasn't a puppet government. It was a crap government, which was too sectarian, hence Obama used the opportunity of the ISIS attack to say they wouldn't give help until Maliki resigned.

But don't let facts get in the way of a good US-bashing. I make no claims that US and UK policy in Iraq has been perfect. Or worked. By whattabboutery that supposed Western special forces support for a government that asked for it is equivalent to an invasion of Ukraine is total bollocks.

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Re: Thanks for the neocon talking points, El Reg! @Destroy All Monsters

Frankly, RT may contain some lies and distortions - but if so, they are a great deal less obvious than those in the Western media.

That's a ridiculous comment. I occasionally look at RT, and it has stuff that I've not seen since the days of the Cold War Soviet propaganda.

Western media isn't perfect. Western politicians don't always tell the truth. But the UK media is free, and pretty mixed. With the Guardian, Torygraph, Indy and Times, as well as the Beeb, Private Eye and various others - there's usually a chance that the truth is out there somewhere. You have to be careful with sources. And sometimes you can't know the truth until a while afterwards, but there's almost always an indication to tell you if something's going on.

Do the papers take an editorial line? Sure. But they're mostly open about it. And you know it when you read the news stories, so you can correct for bias. Do the UK media take government propaganda and run it under orders? No. They may report government information as fact, but then they also cover the scandal if the government have told porkies. They're also mostly good at telling you what's confirmed and by who, so you can make a judgement. You don't get that in RT.

So I know that NATO says Russia has been sending weapons, and now troops into Ukraine. I also know that the Telegraph and Guardian have both had journalists on the ground who claim to have seen Russian military formations inside Ukraine. As well as the Ukrainian government. And Ukraine's rebels have admitted it in interviews too. And journalist from several sources have had interviews with residents and troops on the ground who say it.

Agains that we have Russian denials. But then didn't they just deny invading Crimea. And then admit it three weeks later, and award medals to the troops involved. Oh yes, they did. Oops. Oh and the rebels have suddenly counter-attacked, and done amazingly well. But with no help? Hmm...

Nah. I think I'll take the Western media, with a strong pinch of salt.

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Re: Thanks for the neocon talking points, El Reg!

the borderline ultra-right "government" of Ukraine

Destroy all Monsters,

Who says it's borderline ultra-right? The last government was mostly made up of Yanukvovyc's party. Just without him, as he'd buggered off.

Sure there's some far-right elements in there. And also in the army, given that militias seem to be doing as much of the fighting as the regular army. The new president was only just elected, and as I understand it was a mainstream politician/oligarch before the crisis started. There hasn't been a parliamentary election yet. Given the country's just invaded, I expect that nationalists might do well at that election as well.

But this, mostly ultra-right / nazi comment is straight out of the Putin narrative. It's a simplification in order to justify Russia's actions in Ukraine. I don't think Ukrainian politics are any different to Russia or Eastern European politics in general. There are still mainstream far-right parties and ex-communist ones, although mostly not in government, or getting more than 10% of the vote. Let's take the Russian example - Vladimir Zhirinovsky for example...

Ukrainian politics are fucked up. Which is why the county was a virtual basket-case even before their government collapsed in an almost revolution, and then got invaded by Russia. Followed by what was either a spontaneous, or Russian-backed, insurgency and another Russian invasion of the non-Crimean bit of the country.

Finally, your comment about war being prepared is rather silly. The US isn't planning a war. The US doesn't want a war. NATO could muster sufficient forces to defeat the Russian army, although I suspect there aren't the stocks of ammo and spares for a major war any more. But why would it? Russia has nukes. And what would it do with Russia once it had conquered it? Or is this a cunning plan to militarily defeat Russia just for the hell of it? It's just bizarre.

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Re: Sanctions against the US when?

Totally irrelevant if they're there with Iraqi government permission. The Iraqi government has asked for Western military assistance, so I'd actually be surprised if we didn't have special forces there.

The point about Russia's invasion of Ukraine is that it's an invasion. Aimed (possibly?) at annexing territory. Of course, Russia denies this. But then didn't they just annex Crimea? After denying the wanted to. Oh yes. Funnily enough, they did almost the same thing in Georgia a couple of years ago. Probably best we don't mention Checheya.

Did the US annex Iraq? Nope. Did US forces leave at the government's request? Yup. Are US forces leaving Afghanistan at the government's request? Yup. Did the US annex part of Afghanistan? Nope. Notice a difference?

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Re: Hurting russia is easy

There's a glut of liquid natural gas at the moment. And Europe has mothballed quite a few coal plants to meet green targets. As well as Germany turning off its nuclear plants. And the US starting to export shale gas. Europe can survive without Russian gas, it would hurt but it can be done.

Russia can't sell that gas to anyone else, as it hasn't got the LNG infrastructure or pipelines to anywhere else yet. That's a huge chunk of its exports and government revenue at risk. It would cause a massive depression in their economy, which is already in recession.

Were I the Ukraine government I'd think about mining the gas pipeline, Russia stopped delivering to them 2 months ago anyway. As well as threaten to blow up the Nordstream pipeline, which carries most of the rest. That would certainly piss off the EU, but they're not helping all that much, and it would certainly make Putin think.

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Re: Yup. had that in apartheid South Africa

Various people have been thinking about sanctions, for years. As you say, they had limited effect on South Africa. And even less on Iraq, where Saddam didn't care about the effects on the population.

But things have changed. The world economy is more tightly knit. Russia is more integrated with that economy. Russia's biggest single market is the EU.

Also, Russia is reliant on its oil and gas industry. That's where most of its government revenues come from. I believe the standard calculation is that if the oil price (gas prices are linked to oil prices) drops below $100-$110 a barrel, then the Russian government goes into deficit. No problem, they've got huge reserves. But what if Europe stops buying their gas? Or Ukraine blows up the pipeline? Then government revenues collapse. Then it's either massive cuts, or massive tax rises. Calculated to make a government popular...

Now add in the fact that Russia was already going into recession before the sanctions started. And that over the last 2 years it's lost a net $150 billlion in capital flight. That's accelerated since too.

Now add in the fact that the Russian oil and gas industry needs massive investment and modernisation. Who's going to lend them the money? Who's going to sell them the kit. The global oil and gas companies are all Western.

Russia can sell its gas to China. Once it's built a pipeline. Which will take 5 years. China agreed a price that was about a third less than what Europe is currently paying, and half what they now charge Ukraine.

The other thing that has changed is the importance of global finance. I don't just mean speculation, but loans, insurance, transfers. I've seen two rujmours from the EU negotiations on the next round of sanctions. One that Cameron suggested kicking Russia off the SWIFT payment network. Done to Iran. Then Russian companies would struggle to pay their bills, and their banks would be buggered. This can be worked round, but would waste time and money. The second was that no EU firm/bank would be able to give more than 30 days credit to a Russian one. So Russian companies would struggle to get trade financing to buy. And finance for long-term investment, which mostly comes from Western sources. That way our companies would still be able to trade with them, and the disadvantages would be equal for any company they buy from, Western or otherwise.

Of course Russia could then retaliate against Western companies. I guess they'd do that where they could get as good alternatives elsewhere.

One query with the article. Saying sanctions have had little effect so far. According to the Telegraph, no Russian company has managed to issue a bond on the Russian bond market (or the European one) since the end of June! Apparently Russia's corporate finance needs are nearly $200bn this year, just to refinance maturing debt. And according to the German government exports to Russia in July were down 60% on last year.

Finally the most developed financial markets are Europe and the US. But moving to far Eastern markets doesn't help much. The biggest banks in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore also operate in the US and EU. So have to comply with their laws. Is it worth Japanese and Singaporean banks cutting off their trade with the West, just to win some trade with Russia? Maybe some China-only banks might? But I doubt that gives Russia the cash it needs. And the terms would be awful.

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Re: Sanctions

Sanctions can work. Iran is negotiating over its nuclear program, because it wants access to Western finance and capital markets - and access to parts for its oil industry.

I think, in general, sanctions can work over countries that aren't total dictatorships. Russia isn't a true democracy, given there's little media freedom, most media is government controlled, people are barred from elections on political grounds, the courts are only partially independent etc. But there is limited freedom and democracy isn't just a pretence. Public opinion does matter, and demonstrators aren't shot on sight. Russia is quite similar to Iran in some respects, there is a genuine democratic system, it's just very limited.

If Russia's economy collapses, then Putin's whole narrative about how he restricted the peoples' freedom in exchange for stability and economic improvement might fall apart. Perhaps he can fall back on nationalism, and how it's OK to suffer for being powerful. Maybe that'll work, maybe it won't. Russians tend to be nationalist/patriotic (delete as you see fit), but does Putin want to take that risk for a bit of Ukraine with some outdated industry? Or the whole of Ukraine and a subject population of 30m odd, to buy off or crush militarily?

The oil technology and capital that Russia needs is mostly going to come from Europe and the US. While Russia can source other products from elsewhere, and get round sanctions, they'll struggle with those two. As has Iran. Remember that even the Russian oligarchs don't trust the Russian legal system, so they keep their cash in the West. Why would anyone else invest in Russia when its own leaders don't? Which is why so much of their borrowing is done in Westerm markets, mainly London, under more trustworthy legal systems. There are plenty of countries with money to lend, but they also like not to have it stolen, which is why they often do their investing via London or New York.

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NATO nations 'will respond to a Cyber attack on one as though it were on all'

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Ledswinger,

I don't believe a cyber-attack could turn off our whole infrastructure. But I'm pretty sure it's possible to quite a lot of damage, with some forward planning. Mostly it's going to be annoyances. But if you can disrupt the economy for a week, that could be the difference between low growth for the year and recession. It's not the end of the world, but costing an opponents economy a few tens of billions for the outlay of a few tens of millions is something to be concerned about.

DDoS is inconvenient but seems to be posible (sometimes easy) to work around. Although some of them seem to have got bigger recently, but I'd imagine that'll just shut a few websites, then slow things down a bit for everyone. No big deal.

SCADA kit worries me. Security doesn't even seem to have been an issue with the design, and I'm not sure it's that high a priority now. it'd be interesting to know how much of this stuff is actually hooked up to the net. Hopefully not much. Damaging offline stuff with a long-term infection via the update process (as with Stuxnet), would seem to be less of an immediate threat. But if you can get live access to various national systems, there is a possibility you could do some serious damage.

If you can control pumping systems, you can cause pressure spikes, and break pipelines in multiple places. Water, oil, and sewage have momentum. By playing around with pumps and control valves, you should be able to get serious water-hammer (I assume with sewage it's called poo-hammer?). Do that repeatedly and you start breaking pipe joints. Hopefully these control systems are properly secured. I do wonder though.

Are the 999 systems all safe from attack? Even if you can't get at the emergency systems, I'm sure you could have some fun buggering up less important government big IT. These have so many people that access them, that I'm sure a determined hacker can get in and break things.

You can also do some major disruption to the economy by attacking large companies IT. Even more if you're willing to spend the time and effort on attacking small company IT. They won't have the resources to fix things, and many are probably running without backups. Bankrupt a few thousand smaller companies, and watch the recession happen.

Therefore the kind of people that we pay to worry on our behalf should be worrying about cyber-attacks, and how to deal with them.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Why does my thought process scare you? Just because of "big bad scary nuclear", doesn't mean that all nuclear things are equally dangerous. Reactors make more of a mess than spilled uranium enriched to 5% then 20% purity.

If you're talking about my comments on Iran's options - I don't think I made any justifications. I personally believe that the world is a worse place with more nuclear powers. Since we can't disinvent the damned things, we're stuck with having some nuclear powers though. But if Iran gets them, then Saudi and Turkey may do the same. The Middle East is already in a mess as it is.

In this situation I believe Iran hasn't retaliated because the leadership doesn't see any advantage in doing so. There's no diplomatic or economic sanctions they can use. So that leaves military ones. The biggest threat they can make is to Saudi and Kuwaiti oil supplies. Threatening to bring down the Western economies is likely to lead to a limited war. Which they'd probably lose. They did in the 80s. That's international politics as I understand it. I've made few assertions about morality.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Fukushima was serveral nuclear reactors that got hit by the world's biggest recorded earthquake and then a fucking huge tsunami. Being old designs, and working when hit, they still needed active cooling for at least a month in order to shut down safely. The contamination has mostly come from venting of coolant (as steam and water), in order to keep the reactors from melting down. Hence the contamination.

Iran will be centrifuging sub-critical amounts, unless they wanted fission inside their factory. So the risk is of direct contamination from uranium. Not from uranium fission products. Uranium's an alpha emitter, rather than beta or gamma radiation. From which your skin will mostly protect you, and a plastic suit and mask will do the rest. Therefore clean-up is easy.

As I understand it, the software wasn't even supposed to be breaking the centrifuges. Just mis-aligning them slightly so they required massive extra maintenance.

As to how Iran should respond? I did answer it. What do Iran want? Who knows? But they appear to desperately want sanctions to stop, so they can rebuild their economy. Therefore their response should be to grin and bear it. Dismantle their nuclear weapons program, and get sanctions lifted.

Alternatively they could start funding terrorists to attack the US and EU, and continue to devlop nukes. Then the US would probably agree with Israel that there was no better option, and bomb their nuclear plants. Or they could threaten to close the Persian Gulf, and stop Saudi oil exports. The last time they tried that NATO put a small fleet in, escorted the tankers, and kept the exports going. They could up the ante, and start using their air-force and surface-to-surface missiles to destroy the ships. Then the US, UK, France and gulf allies would probably bomb their air-force and missile sites. As well as blockade their oil exports.

They're not good options. I don't think Iran wants to escalate.

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Re: 'the Iranian nuclear weapons programme'

Pull the other one, it has got bells on it.

They may not have the ultimate intention of building a bomb, it's almost impossible to prove intentions, particularly in a dictatorship. Which is why intelligence deals with capabilities. They have a rocket program (space or ICBM). They built a secret uranium enrichment site, hardened against military attack, and failed to declare it to the IAEA as they are supposed to by a treay they signed (NNPT). They have been working on precision triggering of explosives, also required for nukes - and I'm not even sure if that has a civilian use. That's also from the IAEA reports. They've also refused to dismantle their uranium enrichment program when offered treaty-guaranteed cheaper nuclear fuel deals from Russia (who're building their reactor), paid for by the US.

So even if they don't have a nuclear weapons program (which they patently obviously do), they've been doing everything to make people think that they have a nuclear weapons program.

There's a theory that the Iranian leadership want the ability to build a bomb, without actually doing it. Then they can have the threat of it, without the consequences, or use it as a bargaining chip for something they want. But if true, that policy is indistinguishable from planning to build a bomb, so the response ends up being the same.

Negotiation is hard when you cheat, and then get caught. It'll be incredibly tough to get a solution to the Ukraine crisis, because Putin has blatantly, and often contemptuously, lied at every stage of the conflict. So no one is going to trust him - which makes it hard to come to any deal.

Iran has a similar problem. No-one believes its denials about its nuclear program because it's broken the terms of its treaty saying it wouldn't develop nuclear weapons, and then says it only broke the treaty in order to develop a civilian nuclear program in secret. And none of the secret stuff was military, honest guv.

Lying poisons diplomacy. If Blair and Bush had said we're going to war with Iraq for reasons of policy there'd have been much fewer problems. There were plenty of justifications to use, but none that would get a UN resolution. Going the chemical weapons route, when there was little intelligence about the state of the program was a huge risk. Everyone knew the UN had only destroyed about 80% of Iraq's stocks in the 90s, and they still had the scientists and knowledge to make more. But basing so much on such limited intelligence, and being wrong, has done massive damage to the credibility of the US and UK. And has buggered-up international diplomacy for at least the 2 decades.

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Depends on your objectives. Escalation is a choice. And not always the best one. As are the means of escalation. Warfare can be cyber or economic, as well as military. You may decide that you'd prefer to put up with this level of damage, rather than risk things getting worse.

I guess it depends on if you count sanctions as economic warfare of diplomacy though? I guess this is where your von Clausewitz comes in. War is simply another tool of diplomacy. Although I guess that would mean that nuking someone would also count as diplomacy? Hmmm.

As someone has said earlier, it's much harder to prove where cyber-attacks are coming from. Particularly if you do most of the work via a bot-net. Although it's usually obvious. Unless a country has two enemies, both intent on destabilising them with massive cyber-attacks. Europe is rather peaceful at the moment, and the only power that's aggressively expansionist is Russia - so that makes things a little easier to work out.

But then diplomacy is also about how things look. So bombing someone for a cyber attack you can't prove they did, is going to look rather bad. Particularly as you're unlikely to get UN approval. It's easy to sow some doubt, and spout lots of propaganda. See Russia over Ukraine for an example, where there's far more concrete means of gathering evidence. Also the fuck-up over the Iraq war still haunts the diplomatic landscape.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Stuxnet did the most serious damage it could do. It wrecked thousands of extremely expensive centrifuges. I don't know what the risk was of it also contaminating the 2 enrichment sites, but that ought to be unlikely, with proper design, and pretty easy to deal with.

This is where relative power comes in. For example, Russia can happily bash Ukraine, because there's not a great deal Ukraine can do about it. Anything they do to escalate, Russia can trump. They're biggest card is to cut-off/destroy the gas pipeline between Russia and its European customers. But Ukraine is desperately trying to get support from the EU and NATO, so cutting their fuel supply might not help.

That's not quite true with the US and Iran, as there are things the US can't politically do. But you have to consider what governments want. Iran wants sanctions removed, as they're buggering-up the economy, and making them very unpopular with the middle classes. - who've already had one go at a limited revolution. So how do they retaliate over Stuxnet when they want access to EU and US financing and industry to update their oil industry?

Thirdly there's proportionality. Stuxnet was better than the alternatives. Iran chose to break the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty it signed up to. Them getting nukes is not an optimum solution. Israel trying to bomb Iran's nuclear program could be as bad, though Israel might not see it that way. And as the US would get large chunks of the blame if Israel did it, I think there was a lot of argument in Washington that the US could do a much better job (with fewer casualties and more damage), so better to get hung for a sheep as a lamb, and do it themselves.

Stuxnet appears to have been a very good idea (so far). It's killed no-one, and delayed things enough for diplomacy to work. It was also a limited attack, with limited objectives. Is it any worse than massive sanctions on the Iranian oil and finance industries? It's cost the Iranian government much less.

But in the end, international relations is much less about right-and-wrong, and much more about can-and-can't (and will-and-won't). NATO has the power to retaliate, and deal with the consequences of escalation. So NATO needs to decide whether it has the will to do so. Iran has the capability to retaliate, and the will to deal with the consequences, but limited ability to deal with escalation.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Bucky 2,

I think you're failing (along with others) to differentiate between state-sponsored espionage and cyber-warfare. A bit of hacking and eavesdropping is the normal course of daily business. It's why all powers have intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies. Normally all that happens is some ambassadors get interviews without coffee, or in the worst cases, expelled.

Cyber-warfare means attacks on government networks, banking and infrastructure. So far this has mostly been deniable, small-scale and limited duration. But an attack lasting for weeks, that damages sewerage, water and power infrastructure might call for a more robust response. It might be sanctions or cyber-retaliation. But there's nothing particularly disproportionate in saying, "you broke my power station with your computers, so I'm going to lob a cruise missile at one of yours".

More likely would be economic damage. So sanctions would seem the better tool. But if Russia (we all know who they're talking about) believes it can get away with this stuff consequence-free, they're much more likely to try it.

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Devil

Re: Cardiff?

Well, it's close enough for targetting purposes. So long as you use a large enough nuke...

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Equally, when the Germans hack John Kerry...

Seriously though, no. Spying is different to warfare.

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I'd imagine this is about the most worried NATO nations (the Baltic states probably), trying to secure help from the likes of NSA and GCHQ, should another attack happen. Especially if it lasts for weeks, rather than days.

I also wonder if it's about NATO offensive cyber-capabilities. I've read a few things about us and the Americans putting money into this. I'm sure we're not the only ones. So NATO might well respond to a cyber attack with one of its own. As well as trying to work out joint defensive measures.

Just think of the horror if we cut off Facebook and Twitter access to our enemy's ruling elite? Plus their wives and children. I'm sure they'd surrender right-sharpish-double-quick after the ferocious combined nagging that would ensue. Even worse, we could try to disrupt their access to porn! The horror! The horror! Although surely that would be a heinous breach of the geneva conventions on war crimes.

It would be a bit like the Lysistrata, but with fewer jokes about Spartan cipher rods, and more about dongles...

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CNN 'tech analyst' on NAKED CELEBS: WHO IS this mystery '4chan' PERSON?

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True with TV. But I was actually thinking journalists, epsecially the print ones. Who write copy on computers and tablets, have smartphones, are always pirating copy off Facebook and Twitter, plus whatever photos or blogs they can grab. And all busily Googling and Wiki-ing as well. You'd hope that a little bit of knowledge would rub off in this process...

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Happy

The chap's not heard of 4chan. Does that make him ignorant, or fortunate?

It is very sad when the mainstream media talk about most specialist subjects. But they are particularly pants on IT, which is rubbish considering how much they depend on DTP, t'internet, Google, Twit&Face, mobile phones and laptops.

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Happy

Re: Not forgetting regional variations

So in the grim North it changes from 'password' to 'pa££word'

MonsieurInconnu,

It's all your fault! Now the voices in my head sound like Sean Bean shouting, "passsword ye buggers!"

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Jimbo tells Wikipedians: You CAN'T vote to disable 'key software features'

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Re: salaried employees

I think you've somewhat missed the point The salaried engineers create the software, the unpaid user community are expected to use it. Question is, who runs the railroad?

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NASA clears zero-G 3D printer for mission to SPAAAAACE

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Re: 3D printing of plastic is not going to save anyone

A plastic part that keeps you alive for a couple of days is worth 100 metal parts, rated for the full mission duration, that you don't have.

Completely different tolerances, but we prototyped a float-valve on a 3-D printer. It worked for a whole day before falling apart. Which was perfect as a proof of concept, before going on to the more expensive prototyping stages.

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This is good work, and possibly a very important step for our long-term future in space.

But, it would have ruined the film Apollo 13...

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The IT kit revolution's OVER, say beancounters - but how do they know?

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Re: I'm with Autor

I'd disagree with you on cloud not having a huge productivity effect. Or at least the potential for large impact. There is still a very large section of business that has only partially computerised. This is the small business sector. Companies too small to manage IT, even when they could afford it.

Cloud CRM is now available, and although this is a bit of a time-sink, can be incredibly powerful for some companies. Cooperation, communication and sharing tools, only previously available to big companies, can allow a lot more working from home. I know this, because these are things that my small company does. Which means we spend more on IT than we do on our office. Theoretically, we could ditch the office. But it's nice to meet for real sometimes.

There's an awful lot of new areas that computers might take over. For example, 90% of the building services industry is still managed by blokes turning things on and off. Or increasingly, not doing so. As caretakers and maintenance seem to have been dropped in the hopes that magic fairies will keep all the plant maintained.

...Some people may appreciate the fact that my auto-correct has replaced cloud with clown, every time i've used it in this post...

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Cave scrawls prove Neanderthals were AT LEAST as talented as modern artists

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Re: "pre-human ape-men"

Surely it would have been too confusing had the Denisovans won out. An entire world population called Dennis? I'm Dennis, and so is my wife...

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Happy

Re: Even in the Pleistocene

The reason dinosaurs died out was Facebook.

They should have been ideal users, due to the small brains, but it turns out their arms were too short. Every time they reached for the mouse, they fell over... After falling on your face/snout/nose 15 times a day, you'd die out too...

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Re: I know what it is...

#pimpmycave

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Re: Naughts and crosses

Crosses won. Noughts hadn't been invented yet...

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Happy

Fools!

These archeologists are idiots! They claim that they can prove the age of the piece by clearing away all the old sediment. They've ruined the artwork!

This was 'Unmade Cave' by Ugh son-of-Grunt, and they've destroyed it.

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Russia: SEXY LIZARDS which landed FROM SPACE are all DEAD

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Devil

Re: That's a first..

This is Olga. She is beautiful 19 year-old Russian Olympic gold medalist and she will be your space companion this trip. She is shot-putting champion. Have nice month in orbit...

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Ninja Pirate Zombie Vampires versus Chuck Norris and the Space Marines

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Re: No Commander Shepard / mixed bag of aliens on the winning side?

The Knnn have got to be good. And whatever the aliens are called in 'Hunter of Worlds'. Plus we have the Kif and the Mri for hand-to-hand (plus teeth) nastiness.

But the most dangerous of the lot has surely got to be the nighthorses. If they ever hear that bacon is available throughout the universe, I'm sure they'll soon 'persuade' some pilots to get them into space...

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Devil

Re: R2-D2 etc ARE combat robots by design.

Only in the sense that non-lethal weapons are combat equipment because they include irritants. C3-PO, R2-D2 and Johny-5 are all more likely to provoke violence by virtue of being really annoying.

But that would make JarJar Binks the most powerful and deadly force in the universe!

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Re: Morris Dancers.

The collective noun you are looking for is 'a morris side'. Although 'a pissed of Moris men' may also be appropriate...

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Surely the out comment for colonial marines should be, "because we know what happens to them every time they come up against aliens. They end up as lunch."

Clearly the Aliens will get representation. But perhaps there should also be a place for Ripley. She's pretty damned hard to kill, and not too shabby on the slaughtering her enemies front either.

I guess the rude answer about jarheads is probably because the article is written by an ex-swabbie.

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NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away

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Re: Even though they're highly skilled at that...

Martian research scientists will spend years trying to work out which is the 'any' key, then give up and assume that humans are irretrevable stupid and not worth contacting. Or worse, easy to defeat, and so launch their invasion.

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GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine

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Devil

Re: Fed the scum?

Are you sure he didn't mean that you should marinade the alsatians in pepper spray, then cook them over the burning braziers?

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Siri: Helpful personal assistant or SERIAL APP KILLER?

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Re: No...

Most people still have better comprehension from reading data than from hearing it. So assistants are fine for simple yes/no questions, but once things get complicated, you're better off seeing a table/map/diagram/text.

My train and bus companies have perfectly servicable we sites. But on my phone, I use the app, becuase it concentrates the stuff I want when mobile into a smaller screen space. Gives me instant links to things like the live train/bus departure boards. And can use my location too, if I choose to allow it.

Some apps also allow you to download data, for when you're offline. A problem that will reduce, but I can't see going away for many decades.

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