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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3294 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Malarial vaccine firm seeks crowdfunding for robo-saliva surgeon

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...a malaria vaccine that's made by taking parasites from the glands of mosquitos, irradiating them so that they grow to enormous size and kill everybody in the lab, which then has to be bombed by the air-force in order to destroy the mutant monster.

[I guess I ought to have emailed this to the corrections@elreg, but I've done it now.]

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Boeing shows off 7-4-heaven SPACEPLANE-for-tourists concept

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Devil

Yes. Those will be the solid rocket boosters...

That's why they're only developing the capsule. Flight testing of the boosters is already underway.

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Boffins debunk red wine miracle antioxidant myth

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Re: To aid science

You can have mine. My body is a temple.

A temple of Dionysus...

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Well red wine and choccy are still good for me. Check.

But they're not sure which component of them it is.

Conclusion: The same compound in red wine and dark choccy that makes you live longer, is also present in belgian buns and bacon.

No one can disprove me! So I've got at least ten years excuse to get noshing on that lot, before the killjoys can tell me it's bad for me.

Would it be pushing the point to try and claim the same health benefits for M&S Percy Pigs?

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Supposedly secure Dogecoin service Dogevault goes offline

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Re: Whyyyyyyy?

I still put my money in a bank, rather than keep it all under the mattress. YMMV of course :)

NumptyScrub,

Banks have this thing called a deposit guarantee. The first £100k of your money is safe. Unless the government goes down at the same time as the bank of course. But then your economy is collapsing anyway.

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Apparently someone's run off with the tulips. We're now waiting to find out whether they've taken the field as well...

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Re: Dogecoin?

Dogecoin seems appropriate. If you pronounce the 'e', you get dodgycoin. Or close enough...

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

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Re: Over their heads...

Well to be fair, if flights over LAX are in danger of crashing into the ISS, or worse the Moon, then I think LA has bigger problems to worry about than just a few delayed flights...

Where's the Space 1999 silver jumpsuit logo when you want it?

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Winklevoss twins eye up NASDAQ: Publicly traded Bitcoin fund... what could go wrong?

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Re: Pair of twits?

Have you ever seen them and Jedward in the same room? Aha!

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London cabbies to offer EVEN WORSE service in protest against Uber

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I say old chaps. I'm awfully sorry, I'm afraid I didn't catch a word of that. Would you mind repeating it in the Queen's own? Top-hole what!

For some unaccountable reason, El Reg doesn't have a twiddling moustache icon! Well I mean, dash it all! What a total shower!

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China 'in discussions' about high-speed rail lines to London, Germany – and the US

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Re: I can't say I blame them

Charles Manning,

You do realise you've got that backwards, don't you?

China has spent the last decade selling stuff to the West and not buying as much of our stuff in exchange. To balance the books they've bought debt instead. This doesn't mean they get to take over though. As it's 'credit card debt', not 'mortgage'. It's un-secured. And there ain't no bailiffs.

Therefore they're likely not to get it all back.

Some inflation, a bit of QE, an inevitable Italian default...

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How Google's Android Silver could become 'Wintel for phones'

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Re: Sony like Samsung?

I can't comment on Sony's software, having not played with any of their kit in a while. But I can comment on Samsung.

My friend has a Galaxy Note II, on my advice. A brilliant piece of kit... but...

Oh the software, oh the horror, the pain, the duplication... erk!

I believe I saw on a review that there were 247 options to choose from. The menu is huge. And has many sub-menus. It took me 3 hours to set the thing up (there's no way my mate could have done it). I admit it's my first 'Droid in a couple of years, but all I was doing was syching to the cloud Exchange server and downloading his photos. And going through page, after page, of menus. With crap defaults. Wonderful geek toy though.

Anyway, my real complaint is that not only have Samsung duplicated all of Google's software, but they're no duplicating their own! In their last update, they took away his program for making sketches on photos (the reason I recoommended the damn thing to him). Bastards! I hate updates that remove software. So I was called in to try and fix it.

It's OK though. They took away the software that allows photos to be exported to the sketch app. But they have 2 other apps, that do similar things. It's just it takes about 5 clicks to get into one, and 7 or 8 for the other!

Kudos to them for bringing back the stylus though. Shame their idea of innovation seems to be to ship every feature currently in R&D - then hope for the best.

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Google control the Play store. So I think Google have them by the balls. Even Samsung.

Well that's not totally true. But it would take a lot of work to get the same variety of apps out there - even for an Android fork. I don't know what tools Amazon have made available - but they've only got 20% of Android apps on there. After several years and very decent market share. And I'm not sure any of the mobile manufacturers are up to getting the software, store and developer stuff all sorted at the same time.

Look at what's happened to Microsoft and Blackberry. And I think a large component of that is lack of apps. Both the phone OSes are nice.

The place you can do well despite a lack of apps, is at the bottom end. The sub £150 smartphones. But there's almost no profit to be had there. All the cash is at the top end. People paying £30 a month plus for their calls (and hire-purchase on the handset), those people want apps. The latest and shiniest apps.

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Re: So just to clarify,,,

Does this piece criticise Google?

I read it more as a warning. There are big pros to having one company set the standard. You get interoperability, a drop in costs, simplicity, a chance of believable roadmaps.

There are also some pretty big possible cons. The risk of predatory monopoly, and the loss of interesting innovation being the two biggies. Also the fact that you're totally reliant on one company, who might cock everything up.

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Carphone Warehouse, Dixons embroiled in £3.7bn merger rumour

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Re: I was in Carphone Warehouse, during lunch,

Yeah. I've talked to Carphone Warehouse staff who knew what they were talking about - and could answer complex technical questions. When I was away a friend went in for help with his Galaxy Note II, and the guy zoomed through a bunch of settings and showed them some of what was up, and suggested a possible fix. Rather than trying to sell them a Note III, or going um.

Last time I was in PC World (with the same friend) they couldn't even tell me the spec of the laptop they were holding in their hand. All I wanted was what graphics chip it had, it was for custom CAD. It wasn't on their website either, so I had to look it up on my phone, from their small business advisor's desk.

The guy I'd asked a question of 5 minutes before simply looked down and started reading off the price/product details card a foot in front of me. Cheers! I never thought of that. Fortunately that one was turned on, so I could just ask it to tell me what goodies it had inside.

The only time I've been there and 4 of them have approached me and asked if I wanted help. Rather than the usual of having to lasso the buggers, as they run away.

There's too many elements to make anything out of the name. Other than maybe a poem? Haiku anyone...

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King's stocks are candy-crushed as its top toy suffers splurge slump

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Re: New IP?

I've got an original game idea that will save them! You have a road, with lots of cars and lorries whizzing by on it. And you have to get a frog *ahem!* I mean toad across the road to safety. It could be called toady-roady-crush...

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Re: "Player Milking System"

you get nailed again and again by huge numbers of candies from one side of the balance

So there's an imbalance in the force,

suddenly you stop having three straight yellows drop to tip the owl off

This is obviously some sort of bizarre sexual perversion. I mean I've heard of dogging, but tipping owls?

and you start getting neutral colours instead.

And after the rumpy-pumpy comes inevitable decorating...

It's possible there's more to this game than I previously thought...

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'Bladdered' Utah couple cuffed in church lawn sex outrage

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Why didn't he taser them then? Just because I wonder what the effect of tasering during sex would be?

"Did the earth move for you darling? For me it felt like 10,000 volts shooting between us!"

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Robins' inbuilt navigators pecked to bits by AM radio

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Re: Migratory Robin?

So you're basically saying that Northern robins are harder - and don't consider your winters cold. Shall we go South for winter, or just put a t-shirt on?

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Bloody migrant robins, coming here taking our nests - with their fancy magnetic beaks!

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Brit chap weaves silver bullet for wireless health scare bollocks

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Re: Fake Snake oil

OK, so much for silver. But I've got tinfoil underpants, to match my tinfoil hat. Let's see your government control-rays get through that!

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The ULTIMATE space geek accessory: Apollo 15's joystick up for sale

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Re: I agree

How long would it survive Daley Thompson's Decathlon?

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El Reg Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse crawls towards finish line

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Well done to all you deprived noshers. Keep up the good work til tomorrow. And then you can bask in the bacony delights of brekkie.

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SpaceX wins court injunction to block US Air Force buying Russian rockets

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Re: national security

Vladimir Plouzhnikov,

There was a lot going on with TNK-BP. It's always hard to know what's government sponsored and what isn't. Certainly it's not safe to rely on equity in the Russian court system under Putin. And from what I read about the case BP (and probably the UK government) had to lobby Putin in order to fix the logjam and get some sort of resolution that avoided another UK/Russian joint venture getting hijacked. And Putin's inner circle aren't exactly unknown for seizing the assets of other peoples' companies.

I think the UK government regarded the Litvinenko murder as official. Even if it wasn't, the Russian government made it quite clear that they were glad he was dead, and that they weren't going to do anything about it. The particular poison used is also indicative that the operation was state-sponsored. You can't just pick Polonium up in your local chemists. And the fact that the killers don't seem to have understood how dangerous the stuff was, and contaminated a couple of planes a couple of restaurants and several hotels with it (as well as themselves) - also rather strongly suggests that they weren't the brains behind the operation. Which again suggests that it was a state-organised job. Finally, everyone involved, including Putin, seems to have been ex-KGB/FSB and all seem to have known each other quite well. Not that you'd call Litvinenko totally trustworthy. At one point he was working for the FSB and Berezovsky simultaneously, as well as working/consulting for MI6 and maybe MI5, plus being a journalist. There's not much trustworthiness in that CV...

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Re: INSTANT DISQUALIFICATION!

Russia broke a treaty with the US, UK and Ukraine guaranteeing its territorial integrity. It invaded and annexed part of a neighbour. For no good reason. And did so illegally, with no negotiation or attempt at diplomacy. It followed this up by attempting to forment civil war in what remains of the same neighbour.

If you don't see those as actions that are both worrying, and deserving of some response, then you're a fool.

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Re: I like Elon.

DryBones,

We have no way of knowing if Musk is throwing a tantrum. It looks from outside like he was trying to get in on the bidding on a project, and got muscled out by a cosy group of cronies who've been ripping the US taxpayer off for years. It may be that he's unable to fulfill certain parts of the contract and therefore has no hope of winning. However, the suspicion is that underhanded things have happened.

Personally I like his tactics. I've no problem with him throwing the odd sueball. Where you have $70 billion contracts you have lawyers. 'Tis unavoidable. If you don't manage to fulrill the contract, then many lawyers will descent upon you with great wrath, evacuate your bank accounts, pillage your villages, and leave you with nothing, in the smoking ruins of your dreams.

In this case, ULA may be in breach of sanctions on Russia. Oops. But they're also massively more expensive than Musk. I seem to recall they've had more NASA money for SLS (which isn't even out of design stage yet) than he's had for his launches to the ISS. In fact, They just love their government pork. Sooooo taaaaasty!

I also like his guerilla marketing approach. In his press conference last week where he complained that he's charing (and making profits!) a quarter what they are - he made some nice comments about how many fighter squadrons and battalions of marines this would pay for. So I supect he's trying to get a bit of a war going on amongst the top brass at the Pentagon. Smart tactics.

Meanwhile, at the same time as fighting for all this lovely government cash, he's also researching like a looney.

His is the first company in history to launch a rocket into space and land the first stage vertically. The 1st private company to achieve orbit. The first man to orbit a giant cheese... They've got a capsule and rocket well on the way to man-rating. So he's extremely likely to replace US manned capability before ULA manage to get their system off the ground.

And he's taken risks, rather than just replicating old tech. So by having his capsule have the rockets on board, he can manage landings on land instead of at sea. This also gives Dragon the capability to escape a launch fire, essential to get a man-rating. And further gives it the ability to land on Mars or the Moon. Plus a re-usable first stage coming real soon now.

How much more could NASA have done with its budget over the years if it had been partnered with companies like SpaceX, rather than getting ripped off by Boeing and Lockheed Martin?

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Re: national security

Litvinenko wasn't a fat cat. He was a journalist. Although I'm not sure how successful. He'd also been involved in security for Boris Berezovsky as well as working for KGB/FSB before. But that murder did a lot of damage to relations.

There was also Hermitage Capital, where Putin's mates stole the assets of a London hedge fund. Sadly for them, the head office found out the night before and took all the money out. But they did torture and murder their accountant Sergei Magnitsky.

Then there was the seizure of the Sakhalin-2 gas field from Shell 8 years ago. And all the shennanigans with TNK-BP, where it was assumed that BP would be forced to sell at a loss. But in the end they got what looked like a reasonable price, but only as a stake in Rosneft. Which I ssuspect they can't sell to get the cash out of Russia, so it may turn out that they won't get paid on that either.

So there are many reasons for UK / Russian relations to be so cool.

Also, as to Russia having 'reasonable' relations with Germany, as Voland's Right Hand puts it, I'm not so sure. Germany seems to have sold its partners down the river to some extent. Perhaps we could have got better relations with Russia if we could have had a unified position? Rather than letting Russia use divide and conquer tactics.

The policy that I think Germany should be ashamed of is the Nordstream pipeline. After Russia cut off Ukraine's gas in the middle of Winter (2008?), obviously the pipeline goes through Ukraine, so Eastern Europe also suffered.

Germany's response wasn't to get together with its EU partners to try and arrange a system where Russia couldn't blackmail various states into submission. The Ukraine cut was heavily tied up with negotiations to renew the lease on the Sevastopol naval base. Which Russia so recently annexed...

Instead it was to build a Baltic pipeline that would bypass Ukraine and also Poland (who are supposed to be an ally), so Germany would get gas, even if everyone else was cut off. The Schroeder government pushed this, and in fact Gerhard is now on the board of Nordstream - and turned up in Moscow last week praising Putin, and saying that illegally annexing Crimea was just thee same as recognising Kosovo's independence. Which is damned well isn't. The German government were rather embarrassed by that.

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Google Glass teardown puts rock-bottom price on hardware

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Re: "A teardown report on Google Glass"

Well it's $5,000 for the kidneys, $10k for the heart, 8 pints of blood at $20 a go...

Oh' sorry, you didn't mean that kind of tear-down? Ahem! I'd best get my coat. The one with the fava beans and chianti in the pockets please.

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10 PRINT "Happy 50th Birthday, BASIC" : GOTO 10

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Devil

Re: C

Real programmers do it at 4am, hyper on pizza and coffee. Then press commit, and run away.

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My first program

10 PRINT "LUKE SMELLS OF POO!"

20 GOTO 10

Then, as my skills developed, I could do this in larger text size, cycle the screen border through many bright colours and cycle the text colour as well. I'm afraid that's as far as I got with programming, before going back to playing games. Apart from a brief course in C++ 20 years ago.

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Granny's Guardian: Acorn BBC Micro hero touts OAP watchdog kit

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Re: The next step . . . .

without the need to endure endless rounds of brain-atrophying sing-a-longs and knees-ups.

What are you talking about! My Chas-n-Dave-o-Matic-Knees-up-Mother-Brown-o-Tron is goes down a storm with the old dears, and is going to make my fortune!

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Quid-a-day Reg nosh posse chap faces starvation diet

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Re: I often

Grass is always greener... but by being single you'll be saving a fortune in not buying wine

Oh dear. I must be doing it wrong. Glug, glug. A rather nice man brought me online-ordered boozy nectar at 8:30 last night. It was all wine and port. There'll be considerably less of it after this weekend.

I can't buy veg in bulk, as I'm too lazy to have a mass cooking and freezing session to use it up. But I do currently have over 2 years supply of dishwasher tablets, as Sainsbury's had it on special offer, and gave me even more cash if I spent £25 on cleaning stuff in one shop. And dry goods like rice and pasta last. Although you do then come up against the problem of limited cupboard space.

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Fix capitalism with floating cities on Venus says Charles Stross

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Devil

There is another major advantage. When someone on your space zeppelin upsets you, then you just chuck them out the door. As they fall into the more unfriendly parts of the atmosphere, they can die in many interesting ways, simultaneously.

Much more fun than sharks, to have them crushed, boiled and dissolved.

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Voters pick luminous tech spacesuit as NASA's off-world fashion statement

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Devil

Re: Freaking ugly.

Houston, this is Quasimodo. I'm entering the air-lock now...

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The Reg Quid-a-Day Nosh challenge: What's the point, exactly?

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Friends of mine live in Nigeria. Both are on the el-cheapo old malaria drugs, which have worked for them over the years as they've wandered the globe. Not free, but affordable for at least some of those in the developing world.

But then they had kids. And it turns out that both the kids had side-effects. As in hallucinations and waking up at 3am screaming the place down. OK, no problems. They got bunged on some of the modern shiny-new drugs that don't make you see monsters. Hooray.

Boo. Those drugs cost £70 a month for 2 kids. That definitely ain't affordable to the locals. Not even close.

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Google forges a Silver bullet for Android, aims it at Samsung's heart

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Re: Absolutely

ItsNotMe,

I don't mind the manufacturers not updating the software. I think they should (Apple manage OK), but I can understand that they don't. However:

1. There is absolutely no fucking excuse for not issuing security patches. Particularly as they're written by someone else. And double particularly now they're pushing mobile payments on their phones. And in fact, patches in general. If they can't manage to make that work with the bloatware they shove on the handsets, then they need to get better software teams, or stopping filling their phones with crap.

2. Not updating the software also doesn't wash when they so frequently issue new models on out-of-date versions. Google have been givning them more notice of their software devlopment for at least a couple of years now. If Cyanogen can get their latest version out in a couple of weeks, the manufacturers have no excuse.

Now Samsung have the Galaxy 5 linked to PayPal and pay-by-bonk I hope they get sued to buggery if they fail to issue patches in a timely manner.

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Although I expect the WP model will probably not look as stylish as the Tizen model. ;-)

Nah. Samsung won't need to do that. You can tell it's Tizen when your eyes are shut...

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Re: If this is not just an Orlowskasm

PS: Why is Android landfill? Nokia/Microsoft sell phones at the bottom end of the market at a substantial loss.

I think this may be a bit unfair now. But it's a nice phrase, and it was definitely true before. Cheap Android phones were almost universally slow, and horrible to use. A few were OK, some were truly un-usable (fit for nout but landfill). Windows Phone was much less of a resource-hog, and could maintain a pretty decent speed on worse hardware. Plus it doesn't multi-taks as much, so craply programed apps couldn't run the phone into the ground, unlike Android.

I think things have changed because Google have worked on efficiency, and there are some really good cheap SOC's now. It looks like the reason Nokia went Android is because MS only approve a limited subset of chips, and so cheap Win Pho can now be outcompteted by cheap Android running on lower-cost silicon.

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Re: The time for Tizen has come, then.

Google has already lost, thanks to Snowden and NSA.

I don't believe you.

It seems to me that most people simply don't care. Plus Apple, MS and Google are all US based - who are the top 3 smartphone OS vendors.

Also there's another problem. Microsoft's mobile phone OS has been pretty good for several years now. And it can't get out of mid-single figures marketshare. And because of that can't get enough apps. And because of the lack of apps, can't grow marketshare easily.

And quite a lot of that marketshare may have been nicked from the free-falling Blackberry as well.

It's hard to break into the smartphone market now. It's much more of an established market than 5, or even 2, years ago. And I don't think it's possible to just wade in and grab a big chunk of sales. Even for Samsung who could try and transition to Tizen and say to customers, 'but you've got the same apps'. That might work at the almost zero-profit low end, but on the high value 100% profit phones? I don't believe it for a second.

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Re: While a lot of this sounds bad from a competition perspective.....

To be fair to Google, I suspect it's both. Obviously they want all that lovely data and control - and they must be alarmed by the number of forks and Samsung trying to replicate all their apps. But also they should be really worried about malware. Maybe it won't happen, but I think there's a huge risk that some headline-grabbing outbreak of nasty will sweep through Android, like a hot knife through XP, before SP1. Microsoft are still reaping the PR damage they gained from things like Melissa and the I Love You bug.

I wonder if Google have been quietly trying to get the manufacturers to cooperate on updates for the last while. And this is the response.

One of the major problems the manufacturers have is how crap they are at cooperating. And writing software... I suspect this is why Google are going this route. It also means they'll struggle to tell Google to get stuffed, because they're always more worried about each other. They failed to cooperate on mobile payments, Symbian, keeping MS out in the Pocket PC days.

It does make me wonder though. Why didn't Google keep Motorola? They only sold it a couple of months ago. And now they're making a play to control hardware, software and updating. Maybe they think that the manufacturers will bend over and take it for Silver, but owning Motorola as well would have been just too much?

It's a shame both sides can't lose. Google are an enormous, increasingly worrying, global-data-hoover. But the manufacturers have never really given a crap about their customers. They'd always rather miss off a feature to keep a network happy, or fill their products with un-usable crapware that they then never bother to update. I mean why issue security patches to your customers, when you can just sell them a shiny new handset?

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Marauding quid-a-day nosh hack menaces teepee hippie villages

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Re: Excellent article!

'The Problem of the Poo' would make quite a good title for a short story I think.

All I need now is the address of Amazing Magazine and the ability to write.

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Re: Excellent article!

Either that, or astronauts on a trip to Mars.

The food stores in bags, as part of the radiation shield. Then once you've eaten, you poo in the bag, and back it goes into the outer skin of the spacecraft - to keep blocking the Sun's nasty mobile phone radiations.

As an extra bonus, you can harvest the methane from the capsule's atmosphere, and that gies you the fuel to power your return trip.

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The quid-a-day nosh challenge: Anyone fancy this fungus I found?

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Lester,

Given your diet this week, it wouldn't be bacon in particular I was craving. It would have to be potatoes and fresh veg. There are plenty of things I can go without for quite a while before I start pining for them, even bacon or beer. But eggs, cheese, nice bread and particularly tatties are too nice for that.

I don't think I could survive the Atkins diet...

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A real pot-boiler kicks off Reg man's quid-a-day nosh challenge

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I bought myself a pair of 'aircraft sheet cutters' the other day. They claim to cut 1.5mm thick steel sheets like scissors. No idea if they work, as I never do that sort of thing. But for getting into insane plastic packaging, say the electrical tester I'd actually gone into B&Q for, they're brilliant.

Quite why a 50g electrical socket tester should require a planet-destroying, armoured plastic case capable of surviving WWIII - is totally beyond me.

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Re: Fry me a river

I find eggy-bread particularly unhealthily satisfying. I guess it lacks the perfect evil quality when only fried in olive oil, rather than properly artery-clogging butter. But it's great with stale bread - where toast without butter is less fun.

I believe you can do all sorts of poncing around with cinnamon and flour, and I need to experiment with this. But my Mum's way was to genrly mix 3 eggs with a fork plus some salt + pepper - then quarter the bread soak the bits in the egg for a minute, and straight into the pan. Maybe a quarter teaspoon onto the top of the bread in the pan, to soak more in before it's turned over. Eat, as you cook, alone or with ketchup.

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Devil

And someone thought it was a really bright idea to put a really sticky label inside the pan, rather than on the bottom

Sod it! I've gone off world poverty. I no longer care about the need for clean water. These people can look after themselves. I've got a bigger global problem to solve!

Global Over-Adhesive Sticky Label Week is born! March with me ladies and gentleman! March to the sound of the guns! We must make the world aware of this scourge! We must end this tyranny!

I washed a mayonaise jar in the dishwasher on Friday. No effect. I took it out, still warm, and tried to peel the label. Nothing! I put it in again, for the next run. Nada! The buggers appear to have epoxied the damned thing to the glass. I don't want people to mistake my marmalade for mayo. The last casserole dish I bought took ten minutes to get the bloody label off the inside!

I don't think a week of abstention is the answer. We don't need to raise funds. We should just march on the companies responsible, and glue their designers, buyers and board together with the strongest adhesive available - and leave them to learn their lesson. Or starve, I don't really mind which ...

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Re: What's the point?

Steve Button,

It's a fund-raising and awareness thing. I think it's valuable just for thinking about it. If nothing else, it can put some of our problems into a bit of perspective. And there's a lot that money can do for malaria. It was a very under-funded area in terms of vaccine research up until recently, now much improved, but a couple of quid's worth of mozzie nets and some education can save lives on their own.

It's pretty hard to solve world poverty with cash. But you can have a lot of effect on healthcare, for example. Which as well as just being a good thing in itself (people not dying of curable stuff and not being ill) - also helps with poverty reduction. Healthy people earn more, boosting their economies, making everyone better off. And are less of a burden on their families, who have spare capacity to get some education or get better food/water etc.

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Re: Fry me a river

Lester,

For a change, can't you swap to scrambled eggs on toast later in the week? Toasted over your open fire, or done in the toaster, as laziness kicks in.

You could liven up your brekkie by doing different eggs each morning. Fried, scrambled, poached, boiled and french toast / eggy bread on day 5.

Here speaks a man who's very glad that our beloved government health advice is no longer to limit yourself to only 2 delicious eggs a week. Eggs are back to being good for you again. I'm still waiting for the official rehabilitation of the Jaffa Cake though.

Sorry I didn't join you, but I didn't have time to sort any of this out last week - and I'm off for a weekend of drunken licentiousness on Friday. Please give us a week or two more notice next year, and I'll have no excuse not to join the fun. I won't do a scary spreadsheet like Neil Barnes, but will try to be inventive.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: The rotters at work

Neil Barnes,

I don't see the problem. As any good lawyer would tell you, you're within the rules. You're happily living on food you haven't paid for. The fact that it's cake that probably cost more than your entire weekly budget isn't your fault. After all, no-one quibbles about Lester and his free pork bone - this is just the same.

There, I've written your justification for you. Eat up your cake.

Unfortunately you've now failed the challenge. As although the cake is free, my legal opinion is worth at least £200. So you're over budget...

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NASA spots 'new' star just 7.2 light years away

I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

with a surface temperature of between -48 and -13°C

So even though it's an X-Factor contestant of an excuse for a star, and it's miles from anywhere - it's still warmer and sunnier than Skegness...

Smiley face, as the sun has got his brown hat on.

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