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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3460 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Whaddaya mean, NO REFUND? But I paid in Bitcoins! Oh I see...

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Pissed again?

Paul Smith,

Whooooosh!

Congratulations, for doubly missing the point. Firstly, Dabbs articles are not meant to be taken too seriously. They're usually humorous rants. Although he does tend to pick deserving targets.

Secondly, the bit on refunds is entirely justified. In the real world, people don't deal entirely with bitcoins. Neither retailers, nor consumers. Therefore one party in the transaction has to bear the currency risk - I.e. Changing into and out of bitcoins. Why would the retailer wish to accept this risk? This presents a further problem when it comes to refunds, because of the massive volatility of bitcoin prices.

Finally, the worst part, is that the speaker's answer to this difficult problem was to ignore it! Rather than deal with a difficult area, his answer was simply to ignore the law.

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Re: Bitcoin - the new Second Life

Jonathan 29,

Bitcoin-like currencies do not need a 3rd party, do not need central servers, employees, HR, customer service reps or anything else that inflates the cost of the transaction. It is pure peer to peer and you absolutely can maintain an entire global transaction payment system on very low end hardware.

Your post makes no sense. Bitcoin transactions do need a third party. In fact several third parties. The miners who create the blockchain. Without the blockchain Bitcoin transactions don't happen. You can't do mining on low-end hardware. Even graphics processors aren't enough now, and they're onto custom designed chips with no other use.

This works until all the Bitcoins have been mined. At which point the miners will stop. And then there will be no further Bitcoin transactions. Well I assume that isn't true. I've read that there's a plan to carry on - I just don't know what it is. I assuming it's that every Bitcoin transaction will have to be paid for. The miners will get a small percentage of each transaction as their reward for maintaining the blockchain. At which point it will be just like using a credit card, or PayPal.

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Re: Bitcoin is strongly deflationary

There's your problem. "Common sense" is not a reliable guide to the functioning of complex systems.

As my economics teacher said to me about once every lesson for half a year... Learning economics is the stupidest I've felt in any activity. Not understanding something when you're tired, or distracted is normal. Not getting complex maths or chemistry, once the equations get too much is normal too. But it took months of trying to catch up, and understanding the odd small piece until there was a eureka moment and things started to fit together.

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Re: Bitcoin is strongly deflationary

but I don't see people criticising Paypal by considering what the economy would look like if everything (wages, taxes, etc) was done using and controlled by Paypal.

Mark. ,

No, but then Paypal doesn't have fans who say that it's the future of currency. And I've also had discussions with several Bitcoin fans who have talked about it as an alternative currency, and mentioned how deflation is a good thing as it punishes borrowers and rewards savers.

Although I suspect that's because many people who push Bitcoin on forums are holding coins, and so hoping that their stock will be the stuff being made more valuable by deflation, as well as more widespread adoption.

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Re: Bitcoin - the new Second Life

Jonathan 29,

You don't need Bitcoin in order to have micro-payments.

It may not even be possible to have micropayments. Maintaining a global payment infrastructure is not free. And is unlikely to become so in the near future.

Remember that anyone who says Bitcoin has no transaction costs doesn't understand Bitcoin. Firstly you need to buy the things. Exchanges and credit cards take their cut. Secondly the value fluctuates so wildly that you can lose 10% holding a Bitcoin for just an hour. Thirdly, the miners get paid in BTC. That's a huge transaction cost. The whole Bitcoin economy is giving money to the miners in order to maintain the blockchain.

What I don't understand is how this'll work after all Bitcoins have been mined. No-one will keep updating the blockchain for free. So presumably there will have to be costs as a reward to process each transaction, or Bitcoin will collapse.

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By this point, I was alone - without anyone to issue the punishment beating. My friend had probably seen the explosion coming, and wisely abandoned me to my fate. Although his reaction must have been similar (though far more polite than mine), because he turned up in the coffee shop about 5 minutes after me. Equally unimpressed.

I've come to the conculsion that the pretentious description by the 'artist' is the actual art. It's not pickling the sheep that's the important bit. It's the persuading other people to accept it as art, and give you large sums of money.

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Re: Bitcoin is strongly deflationary

DanDanDan,

Inflation does punish savers. But there's a remedy. It's called interest. Obviously we have to ignore the problem that you can't get any at the moment. That's because we're in recovery from a once-in-a-century (hopefully) financial crisis.

If savers can make a return which just beats inflation using banks, then the economy has a mechanism which allows for extra growth, by lending. I've seen many people talk about debt as if it's a bad thing. Or savers as morally superior to borrowers in some way.

Bad debt is a bad thing. Good debt can be a brilliant thing. It's what gave us the industrial revolution. It's what allows ordinary people to buy their house - which can be a way to be financially prudent, even though it's the biggest debt they'll ever take on. Innovation often requires money. Some of the most innovative people and companies don't have enough to innovate. So they have to borrow it somehow.

I don't buy the idea of permanent deflation either

Nothing's permanent in economics. But Japan has been in deflation for nearly 20 years. That's as close to permanent as makes no odds. It takes something to break out of deflation because of deflation. If savers can just sit on money and watch it get more valuable, then they have no reason to either spend, or invest. That entrenches the group of people with money even more, because it's even more expensive and risky to borrow - and you just get richer by means of already being rich. This is great for those with money, but not so great for those without, or those who would like to innnovate.

It's also hard for businesses, because they have to drop their selling prices by 1-2% a year (that's what deflation means), but their debt is still worth exactly the same amount of money. And has to be serviced with the same amount of interest.

Inflation reduces the value of debts. But then this can be covered by setting appropriate interest rates. Then everyone can win - savers get a fair return for the appropriate level of risk, borrowers can survive, innovators can get finance, business can borrow to invest. One of the major causes of the financial crisis was interest rates being too low. This was partly caused by large global imbalances. Such as China buying $3 trillion of US government debt in order to artificially keep their currency down. This had the side-effect of stoking a bubble in the global economy, as well as the intended effect of allowing China to grow its manufacturing base more than it would have been able to otherwise, by artifically lowering the wages of its own workers.

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Re: Refunds

Danny 14,

Bitcoin isn't a method of payment, like a cheque or card. It's effectively a separate currency. Also it is so volatile that a £500 TV could lose £100 in several hours. There have been at least 2 days this month where Bitcoin has dropped about $100 in value.

Many retailers buy stock months before they sell it. Bitcoins were worth over $1,000 at one point in December last year. Last week it was fluctuating between $400-$500. So it's unlikely anyone would be paying their suppliers or staff in BTC.

Therefore if they do accept it, it'll be at exchange rates worked out at the time of transaction. And if they've got any sense, they'll want to sell those Bitcoins as soon as the transaction goes through. Refunds will then be processed in local currency, and converted back to Bitcoin at the point of that transaction.

Although I think this is all irrelevant. Personally I don't think Bitcoin will work. It looks like a fad to me. But even if it does, it was designed for international internet transactions - where you've got to deal with currencies and transaction fees anyway. That's not really an appropriate model for bricks-and-morter retail. Except maybe airport shops. Even then, you can get zero-weighted credit cards, which use the market exchange rate with no fees to the buyer. For the seller, the card fee is no more than the fluctuation risk of Bitcoins.

I once looked at the raw data from a Bitcoin exchange. They showed the last 10 tranactions on BitStamp. Now top dog, since deposing Mt Gox. Over about 5 minutes, there were 10 deals, each for either 0.1 or 0.2 of a Bitcoin. The price moved by about $10 (it was about $620 at the time). So the global trading price of Bitcoin moved by nearly 2%, over the course of a few minutes, from about $800 of transactions. What was that you said about not being volatile?

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Happy

Re: Nice piece.

You'd be welcome in many business meeting rooms too. It's always nice to have someone to say the un-sayable. Particularly if it's someone else - given the unpleasant response so often meted out to the tellers of home truths.

You could be a sacrificial-goat-for-hire. Surely there's a Shoreditch business model in there somewhere. Particularly if you're willing to work for Pringles...

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“Whaaaaat?” I heard someone shout in a rough impersonation of Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon. It was me.

Trying to avoid doing this in meetings is a vital business skill. Not doing so is a great way of losing contracts and/or getting sacked.

I can still remember my failure in this area. I went to Tate Modern with a friend. Let's ignore the press stereotypes of modern art, and actually go and see some. It can't all be pickled sharks and unmade beds surely?

So I've wandered around a few galleries. And decided modern art isn't for me. Particularly the conceptual stuff. And as I'm looking at another lot of expensive rubbish I realised that I wasn't the only one wondering about the emperor's lack of clothing. "This is all complete and utter bollocks", said someone in a loud voice. I looked around, but couldn't see who. Then I realised that it was me...

I quickly repaired to Tate Modern's nice cafe. A chastened, lonely figure in search of a reviving cuppa.

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It's a done deal! Microsoft-Nokia merger to close on Friday

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Re: Nokia's Elop had $25 M personal stake in Microsoft deal ..

Nokia could have tried the Android route. I don't think they stood a chance of getting anywhere with any of their in-house stuff. By the time they got desperate and hired externally (Elop) that ship had sailed. See Blackberry for details.

Personally I still think Windows Phone was a better bet than Android, as only Samsung have managed to make any money from Android handsets in the last 4 years, and they were already dominant by the time Elop could have got a decent range of stuff to market. Back when he took over there was a chance that Windows Phone might have taken off quicker. There's still a decent chance that it might prosper. It's still growing in market share - even if most of that is at the bottom end of the market.

Had Nokia gone Android I think their phone division would now still be losing money, although on higher sales, but they'd have had no-one to foist a loss-making bits on. But they'd also be struggling to make any money out of their mapping division (which they've kept and is profitable), becasue you couldn't ship a mainstream Android phone without Google maps and therefore couldn't charge for their own on top.

Failure to bring their innovation to market had screwed Nokia before Elop took over. Crap management since the middle of the last decade. Makes a nice fit with Microsoft really, about whom you could say exactly the same thing. Windows Mobile 5 and Symbian were OK, for the hardware of the time - shame they didn't bother to replace them, until the competition had shat upon them from an enormous height.

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Re: Elops Job

John P,

Also don't forget Nokia senior management's descent into incompetence in the decade before Nokia's senior management hired Elop. They had all that lovely, shiny tech - and did close to bugger-all with it.

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Re: Yeh right

Dear Anon,

Do grow the fuck up please.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is automtically a shill. Also not every popular thing is best, or unpopular thing worst. As evidence of which I shall point out that The Spice Girls had 9 no. 1 singles...

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Reg man builds smart home rig, gains SUPREME CONTROL of DOMAIN – Pics

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Re: Child Labour

The problems with children, over radio controlled solid state devices are many. You've already covered expense and reliability. But we also have to consider that children have higher power requirements, are considerably noisier in operation, and much more easily lost even than the most wayward of remote controls. Even the remote for my speakers, which I keep finding in my pocket when I'm at work...

So far children only win out on fun during manufacturing - although I think you may have forgotten the remainder of the 9 month construction period, not to mention the at least 5 years of installation before they're tall enough to reach the switch. Pus the fact that you can eat them if you're feeling peckish...

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Re: @ambiguous coward[1] (was: Whatever.)

Home automation ain't exactly news, which was my point.

jake,

Of course home automation is news. That's like saying that "the honking-great-database-and-transactions problem was solved 50 years ago - so why are you still reporting on this market?".

If someone comes along and does something better, then that's news. Better can mean many things. It can mean technically better - although home automation is mostly technically simple. It can also mean cheaper or easier to use.

Easy to use is a good thing, even for people well versed in the technology. There's no merit in going with something that's hard to use just because you understand it. That's just childishly showing-off your technical skills. Unless the harder to use tech is better in some way.

Plus things don't have to be new to go in there. Home automation is something I've not thought about for a couple of years - so it was interesting to see what's available. I don't personally see the point of controlling lights. But I do see the point with heating. Which is something I'd like to investigate for my Mum's house - the heating in my place is irredeemably craptastic sadly.

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Dragon capsule arrives at space station for Easter Sunday delivery

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Which is the next milestone

So when does SpaceX get to dock with the ISS on its own, without help from the arm? Or is that still a long time in the future?

Lots of exciting stuff for them still to do. Obviously landing a first stage is going to be superb. But I'm hoping that they can strap an astronaut into a capsule soon, instead of a cheese.

For the first time in ages, there's a prospect of exciting things happening in the space industry. For years it's been a case of utilitising existing technology to do stuff - and the future has looked to be more of the same. Refining our techniques and doing science. All very good of course, but not exciting for someone who's 40, and doesn't have long before having to give up all hope of ever going to space. But with all the developments going on now, I can dream of spending my 80th birthday in a space hotel...

Lots of other stuff is going on. But the most exciting stuff is watching SpaceX apply new technology and ideas to rockets - so even if a spaceplane/shuttle is still decades away we're still advancing again!

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We are moving forward, keep it up

I think I have to disagree with you here!

When landing a rocket it is vitally important that it be going backwards - and surely the whole point is to set it down...

OK, OK, I'll get my coat then. Hooray for rocket surgery!

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Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS

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Brilliantly done!!

Data upload from tracking plane shows first stage landing in Atlantic was good! Flight computers continued transmitting for 8 seconds after reaching the water. Stopped when booster went horizontal. Several boats enroute through heavy seas...

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Is tech the preserve of the young able-bodied? Let's talk over a fine dinner and claret

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Re: What happened to contrast?

Bloody Vista did that. And then other program developers seemed to follow Microsoft's design guidelines over the cliff as well.

Thanks for that vaguely grey but really just off white menu bar you've given me on a white page. Oh yes, I can see that perfectly. Sure. Because UI clarity is so boring, when I know you spend all that time pleasuring yourself over minimalism at art college. OK, well done you. Now bugger off!

One thing in Windows 8's favour (and Win Pho too) is that with one button click I can have black backgrounds with orange for menu bars. Nice bit of contrast, for no effort. What's that you say? It's not elegant? Doesn't meet your delicate aesthetic requirements? There there. Don't worry your pretty little head about it then. You go back to the Tate Modern website, while I get some engineering done. Then we'll both be happy - and I can spend my time making sure your buildings don't run out of water. Or poison it...

Hmm, that gives me an idea. Royal college of art? Would you like a free building design consultation? Have you heard about the new rules on Legionella compliance? What's that, you don't have Legionella in your system? Do you want some?

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I ain't Spartacus
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As someone with very poor eyesight, tell me about it. My favourite website examples are an engineering company who had mid brown writing on a brown background on their website. Cheers for that guys! You get that in catalogues and marketing bumf a lot as well. And a US band who had a landing page to their website which was a very nice picture of a tree, with many leaves. I should have just changed the url, but I wasn't going to let it defeat me! In the end I literally ran the mouse from right to left over the screen like in old 90s point and click puzzles, until the pointer turned into a hand. Then I realised that this one leaf, out of hundreds, was gently moving from side to side. Obvious really! Why didn't I see it immediately! Oh yes, because it was an identical leaf in a picture of many such, that was wobbling by about 2mm - and I've got about 5% vision. That's probably it...

Also, if you're designing a line graph and have a red line, next to a dark green one, next to a brown one, I've got a nice present waiting for you in my office. It's s baseball bat. Just look over there, while I get it...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: RE: Nobody makes things that bad by accident, surely?

Like Les Dawson playing the piano you mean?

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OK, we get the message, Microsoft: Windows Defender splats 1000s of WinXP, Server 2k3 PCs

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Re: Subtle hints

I was thinking it would go more like, "ere guv'nor. Thas's a nice PC you've got there. Got some lovely ornate software, pretty pictures of your family, nice banking records. You wouldn't want somefink to 'appen to it, now would you... Word to the wise my son. Word to the wise..."

Edit: Oh dear. Someone's already beaten me to that gag, and it turns out I can't delete this post until the editing window is over. Hmmm.

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Apple fanbois eat static as Beeb, Sky web stream vids go titsup on iOS

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I was unable to get the iPlayer to stream radio last night. Didn't try any video. I got as far as spinning thingy when clicking on the programs, but didn't even get a play button to press.

However the iPlayer Radio app did work. It's totally rubbish normally, which is why I don't use it, as it has one of the crappiest UIs ever.

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Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?

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Re: having to take a teapot to work

Vladimir Plouzhnikov,

Thanks. I will. I've been looking at getting some of those glass mugs for my tea, so I guess it would be appropriate to drink Russian tea out of them.

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I ain't Spartacus
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As I recall the figure is now $2 no longer $1. To account for inflation, and the fact that the world has got richer. It's probably meaningless anyway, as lots of the people on it will be in susbsistence farming economies, and often not using money anyway.

But the figure is worked out in mythical inflation-corrected, purchasing power parity dollars. So they've accounted for the fact that dollars go further in poor countries. At least as much as is possible to work out.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: @ I aint Spartacus

Ah but would those Aldi crisps be as good quality?

:Also I question your budgeting skills on the chocolate. I'm sure you can do far better than that for £2. The Wispas in my fridge were £1 for 4 in Sainsbury's. As they know from my Nectar history I only buy Crunchies and Wispas when they're £1 for 4 (about every 8-10 weeks) - and never the normal £1.68. So we can certainly get you a few more bars.

Particularly as if you're in Aldi/Lidl they often have the bars of decent continental choccy. Usually German I think. So you could probably get 400g of 70% cocoa stuff for £2. Or the fake Mars 'chocolate caramel' bars, that are usually 5 for £1 in the supermarkets.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: having to take a teapot to work

JDX,

I already have an in mug infuser, now I come to think about it. So that's no problem. It's a rather fetching yellow plastic duck, with a basket that clips onto the bottom for the tea.

I also don't agree on the expensive tea thing. Sainsbury's Red Label is about 80p a packet. Which lasts me something like 3-4 weeks. It's not the finest tea in the world, as it's obviously blended to be non-offensive to people who don't like the more 'perfumy' notes in their tea. But it's still very nice. I haven't yet found another tea that I like more for every day (although I've been trying different ones for the last 6 months or so). I have about 6 different types of tea I have regularly - all lined up by the kettle, along with my tea duck and several different teapots.

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I ain't Spartacus
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I must admit, I'm quite tempted. A good, fun bit of fund-raising. And gives me a chance to think about budgeting food, and how much stuff costs. I've been hearing a lot of people talking recently about how poorer people in the UK can't afford to eat healthily - which I'm not sure I buy. I barely budget for my food, but I do sometimes work out what meals cost. And it's almost always much cheaper than ready-meals, and with better quality ingredients too. So it would be fun to see what's possible at this price - and whether I can get something vaguely approaching a balanced diet.

I thought that the figure was now supposed to be $2 a day - which is more like £1.20? Although from my memory of shopping in the US that should really be closer to £2 - as stuff in the US is cheaper. It's all supposed to be worked out on a PPP basis, and I'm not sure what year it's based on either, but I bet it's much more £1 a day - accounting for inflation and purchasing power.

With a budget of £5, I think the answer is a few giant family bags of crisps. Quavers for breakfast, Walkers ready salted for lunch, prawn cocktail for starters and smoky bacon for main course. Who says that's not a balanced diet?

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Re: Good luck Lester

The only problem with that is having to take a teapot to work. Going without tea at home would be bad, but not having any at work would be far worse.

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MIT boffins moot tsunami-proof floating nuke power plants

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Re: And when the Greens get pissy...

but do they have lasers on their heads?

Evolution takes its own sweet time dear boy. Even with heavy gamma ray assistance.

I think the most we can hope for the near future is terrifying glowing eyes. Obviously those will take many many years to develop into lasers.

Hopefully, if we get the dosage right, we can have the sharks acting as underwater CD players within a few centuries, working our way up to boat-puncturing lasers after that. Remember they've still got enormous teeth, so this shouldn't inconvenience them too much in the meantime...

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Happy

Re: I'm no MIT...

Easy answer. Simply call it HMS Sinkable. Or Vincible. It's bound to be safe then.

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Re: Isn't the sea ...

Godzilla! And Godzuki...

You fiend for reminding me of that!

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Devil

Re: And when the Greens get pissy...

No, no, no, no. When the greens get pissy, you invite them out for a reassurance and fact-finding visit. then push them over the side, into the shark-infested waters.

Or if you're feeling a little more subtle, and have more spare cash, you organise a helicopter crash...

It worked for Sadam Hussein, after all. None of his gernals ever tried to overthrow him. And that's becasue all the ones who won more than a couple of battles in a row in the Iran-Iraq war, had helicopter crashes. Of course that war dragged on for years, and his military subsequently got their arses kicked, at least partly due to incompetent leadership. But you can't have everything...

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Borked Bitcoin bunker MtGox in administration: Lawyer seizes control

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Re: in spite of all this

I hope this link works

That should give you a year's prices on Bitstamp. Which I believe is now the top-dog exchange. Prices managed to crawl back above $500 this week, although it looks like they're on the way down again.

There's several interesting things to note. Firslty is the most obvious. Trading volume was steady, along with price, for 9 months last year. Then suddenly things went bonkers in December - and the price spiked up to over $1,000. Transaction volumes have been higher since, although at least some of that will be customers moving from Mt Gox (and others), as Bitstamp hasn't been top exchange for all that long.

Since the peak, prices have been much more volatile, but on a clear downward trend.

What we need is an understanding of the Bitcoin economy. Someone should be measuring its GDP. That might help explain what's going on. There looks to be a steady trade in the stuff, so I imagine there's various people selling stuff online. At least some of that is drugs and computer crime type stuff. But also legit stuff. Would be nice to know the mix? Silk Road has gone down since the price spike, and yet that doesn't seem to have dropped trading volumes. So either something's taken it's place, or it wasn't as important to the Bitcoin economy as people were suggesting.

The next question is 'what's changed'? Has there been a sustainable change in demand for BTC? As an example that CryptoLocker malware was demanding payment in BTC. It hit the big time around the December price spike. So was that the cause? Which would drop the price when it goes away.

One thing that does seem to have changed is the volatility. $100 swings in a day are not unusual. It looks to me like prices fall on large volumes of trading (as one would expect) - and several of those correlate with particular bad news days. Mt Gox's travails, and the 2 big days when China was said to be clamping down on Bitcoin.

There are also often big price jumps. Could just be natural, or people seeing the price lower than recently so aiming for a profit. After all, most people are presumably paid in real money, and converting to BTC to buy stuff. So why not buy a few days early when the price looks cheap? But given how stable the price and volume often are on other days, I suspect that we're looking at people 'investing'. People like the Winklevoss twins for example. Either seeing BTC as cheap, so investing. Or ones who've already got a holding, so are buying in whenever the price drops. In the hopes of maintaining the value of their previous investments. Looks like a losing game to me, but then it's not my money.

All guesswork of course. It would be a great project for some economist, or PHD student. EVE Online employ/consult a couple of economists, as they try to run their game economy with fewer and fewer inputs, and rely on interactions between the players.

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Re: Mighty quiet ....

The price is steadily dropping. I think it dropped down to $400 the other day, but bounced back towards $500 again. However it's been in steady decline since the heady pre-Christmas days of over $1,000.

But that's the point. Those were only days. And not very many days at that. There seems to be a steady trade in the things still. So there's definitely a value there. There's definitely a continuing market. But it's a much smaller market than the hype suggests, and therefore I think the price will probably keep dropping back towards the $100-$200 range. Maybe much lower.

All this is assuming the exchanges are giving true information. It would be easy for them to hype the prices by posting false numbers - because transaction volumes are so low. Esepcially if they're willing to trade with their customers' funds (in the way Mt Gox were considering to save themselves). It would be an easy market to rig, either by trading or by fiddling the figures. It might even be possible to do some of that legally, as it's not a regulated market.

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Whoever you vote for, Google gets in

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I have some sympathy with the politicians here. The internet is new, and there aren't many people who understand it. Because it's new, poeple are still learning who's biased in what direction and why. So it's very hard to get a handle on who's selling you a pup, who's relatively disinterested and who hasn't got a fucking clue as to what they're talking about.

Even if we hadn't so professionalised politics that it was even shorter of industry expertise than usual, the modern internet industry is still pretty new anyway - so there's not been that much time for people to filter through from industry into politics and semi-retired esablishment grandee status.

What this means is that a lot of the normal sources of information aren't available. So who do you talk to?

As sceptical as I am of Google you have to admire them for their forward planning. And their willingness to invest in the future. Some of it is probably luck, but as Gary Player (almost) said, the more I invest, the luckier I get. So sure they created Android to keep them competitive in mobile search. But then they also spent big on mapping, and that combined with all those Android mobile data reporting stations phones out there gives them a massive hoard of wonderful data. So they've got a network giving them real-time traffic information, a constantly update WiFi map of the world linked to GPS, local search data, data on physical movement of people - and all of this feeds back into improving search and advertising.

If you want to talk to someone who understands the internet, you can't go wrong in talking to Google. Of course you have to assess their biases. But their far-sightedness also translated into paying academia, think-tanks and NGOs - so that they'd have lots of 'grass-roots' support. And it took a while for anyone to notice.

Of course, there is a downside to all this. And I wonder if Google are far-sighted enough to see it. Becoming 'all powerful' is great. Until people notice. Then they start to get worried. And if you don't show some moderation to go with all that power you've accumulated - people can become hostile. And then you discover that you're not all-powerful after all. Government can be pushed around and manipulated, often quite easily. But when push-comes-to-shove they've got the guns, the law and the right to print money.

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KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline

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Devil

Re: I'm going to patent ...

Not to mention the threat to 'bath-snakes'...

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Happy

I don't wish to know that! Kindly leave the stage.

However it does explain why our friend Billy's ludicrously enormous member is now so much shorter. I'd heard that the girl next door had hit it with a rake, but this turns out not to be the case. I now hear that he retired to the bath with his copy of Playboy - and only a sponge and a rubber duck for company...

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This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices

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Re: Missing Option

That's £15 per user per month, including all the bells and whistles. So I guess it's too expensive for a family. Though I'm looking at it for our small company (as it's cheaper than running our current Exchange server). I guess it would be hard to do a cut-down family option though, that small businesses couldn't sneakily use, and save themselves a packet.

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I ain't Spartacus
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According to Microsoft's Office website, if you stop paying your subscription, all your saved Office documents become read-only. They don't delete them, or remove access to them. That's also assuming you didn't keep local copies. I checked this when I tested it.

I think you're going a bit far on "Corrupt and Disgusting" as well. They're a company charging you for a thing. If you don't want the thing, don't use the thing, and you don't have to pay for the thing. There are perfectly viable free or paid-for alternatives.

Historically Microsoft's Office has been at least somewhat better than most of these rivals over a long enough period that people have been willing to pay them many billions of dollars to use it. They may be over-charging, but the fact they still get paid when there are free alternatives suggests they must be doing something right.

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Trevor,

If productivtiy software is a commodity, what's the alternative to Outlook?

As I may have said before, I know many people who swear by Outlook. Personally I swear at it... I've never liked it myself, but I don't know of any other product that can do the same address book / email / joint calendar stuff. I've never used Lotus Notes, but I don't believe that's a possibility for small business and personal use, and anyway it seems to be universally loathed.

I also know many users who absolutely love it. If you tried to take away Outlook or the iPhones from our road warriors, they'd drag you outside and burn you in a 20' high wicker phone...

After over 15 years of using Office (bugger it really is that long!) I've made my peace with Outlook and got used to Word. But Excel is still one of my favourite pieces of software. I've tried a few other spreadsheets, and not liked them as much. For light personal use LibreOffice is great. For work, I'll pay for Excel every time.

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Hackers attempt to BLACKMAIL plastic surgeons

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Re: I'm disappointed

Tom 38,

Nice post, have an upvote. Even if you did point out my speeling miskate. There's 2 typos in my post, and both on the word dentist. Suppressed trauma perhaps? I don't remember anything too bad. Although my dentist when I was a kid did run away to Australia. But that was with £100k of NHS funds, rather than because of anything more sinister. Or so I was told anyway...

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Devil

I'm disappointed

Surely there was a third alternative?

They should have agreed to pay the blackmailers. Arranged for the handover in an underground carpark (where else?), then some laughing gas and drugs later, the criminals would wake up strapped to a densist's chair in a secluded location. One denist with strong german accent, a bit of giggling and drilling later, and I'm sure they could have got all the information returned, along with a fullsome apology.

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Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'

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Re: "(from a friend who has a Kindle Fire)"

Levente Szilesky,

My friend lives in sunny Blighty. And had said that he'd tried to install a couple of apps - presumably where he'd seen something that had an Android app - and they weren't available for Kindle. I'm aware he could sideload them - although I don't think he is.

A brief search suggests that the Kindle app store has about 1/5th the number of apps as Google. Which is pretty impressive. Although I don't know if there are many US only apps.

However given you can get a decent ASUS 7" Android tablet for under £100 - which will take all of Amazon's services I wouldn't recomment the Kindles. They're quite limited in some ways. And I suspect Amazon will do the same to any phone they sell. As for Windows Phone's app store being unloved, I'd imagine it's probably at a similar level to the Amazon one. And similarly lacking in the kind of apps for museums and companies, where they just knock-up an iPhone and mostly Android app.

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I suffer from nystagmus (involuntary eye movements). So I suspect I can confuse eye-tracking tech - and make things look even worse.

However just because it doesn't work for me doesn't necessarily mean it's not a valuable piece of new tech, rather than a crappy old gimmick. I just happen to think that in this case it is a crappy old gimmick, even for people with the sight to appreciate it.

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Has the Nintendo 3DS done all that well? I thought they'd brought out a non-3d version because it hadn't. And also to cater to the people who couldn't see the 3d effect.

I suppose 3d is most likely to take off in gaming. It seems to be on the wane a bit at the cinema (although I enjoyed it in 'Gravity'), and 3d tellies have not been the huge sellers the manufacturers hoped for.

As gimmicks go, it could do well to launch an Amazon phone that had a large emphasis on games. However my impression of Amazon's app store (from a friend who has a Kindle Fire) is that there's more tumbleweed in there than in Microsoft's mobile app store. The Fire works really well for Amazon because it's tied into the books, films and music content. An area where they're very strong. But apps is a major weakness, and it's hard to fix without users - but hard to get users without apps...

My other problem is that, in my opinion at least, 3d only works on big screens. I find the effect breaks down if my eye is forced to focus on both the 3d image, and the surroundings. So if I sit too far back in the cinema during a 3d film, my brain does this weird flip between seeing the 3d - then seeing the screen as a flat picture on the wall, then going back to seeing the 3d. Headache inducing. Whereas at the front, where the screen fills my visual field, I can stay in the 3d illusion. I don't know if that's just me though?

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Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run

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Happy

Re: Say what?

I wonder if he'll be the richest man not on the planet by then? Floating around Earth in his laser-armed space station, stroking his white cat, while simultaneously planning world domination and sending off colony ships to Mars and miners to the asteroid belt. It's nominative determinism in action.

All Hail to our laser-totin', cheese-tastic, rocket-hopping, horribly be-weaponed SpaceX overlords!

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Look out, bankers! It's Lily Cole and her (Brit taxpayer-funded) WISH-PRINTING ATM

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Devil

Re: I wish

Chris Miller,

Correct. In the absence of snowballs in hell, or bears utilising the smallest room rather than the woods, there's very little point in wishing for a government that only spends our money efficiently.

Therefore I shall fall back on the advice of Dogbert. A guru who all should follow. "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines."

I take this advice to mean that if it's pointless to wish for efficient government, I'm better to wish for an inefficient government to waste some tax-payers' money, by giving it to me.

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Devil

Re: Followed the link...

Arnaut the less,

Sir! Sir! I know this one sir!

I can tell you what HP software does. It's easy-peasy.

HP software checks for updates. Then fails to connect to the server (for various different reasons). HP software then plasters warnings all over your screen that it's failed to update - then disappears. HP software then waits a couple of days, only to ambush you again with 5 pop-ups and hysterical demands to be allowed to update. Repeat. For ever.

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That's some properly horrible fonts they've used on that website.

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