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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3306 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

James Dyson plans ROBOT ARMY to take over the world

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: In the UK?!

Christian Berger,

You do realise that the stat on how Britain had more CCTV cameras per head than anywhere else in the world was 'extrapolated' from counting cameras in 2 streets in Paddington, don't you?

i.e. it was made up.

Not that Britain doesn't have loads and loads of CCTV cameras. I just suspect that it's no more than many other wealthy economies.

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Bitcoin value plunges as Mt.Gox halts withdrawals and Russia says 'nyet'

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Re: Run on the bank?

scrubber,

You should read that Wiki link you posted. It doesn't actually say what you think it does. Or at least not from a quick scan - as it actually seems to describe fractional reserve banking reasonably accurately.

unlike regular banks which not only lend out your deposits to others but engage in fractional reserve banking where they actually lend out multiples of your savings in spite of not actually having funds to cover it.

Banks aren't allowed to lend out money they don't have. So they can't lend out multiples of your savings. Only lend them out once. The fractional reserve bit isn't about lending out money twice, it's about only keeping a small proportion of their assets in cash - and hoping all the customers don't demand their savings back on the same day. Banking wouldn't work otherwise, as there'd be no way to lend on a 25 year mortgage, unless they did this.

But the books still have to balance. In order to lend me £100,000 (that loan is an asset) they have to have 100 people saving £1,000 (the liabilities). Plus another 10 or so to keep around as cash. Then they have to charge me enough interest to cover the savings rates they'll pay to those 110 people.

The assets (loans) have to equal the liabilities (savings) on the bank's books, otherwise they're insolvent. Plus the banks need another class of assets, which can't be loans - which are the operating capital of the business.

So as well as keeping a cash 'float' around, they also have to meet a capital reserve requirement. That is they have to have enough assets to cover some loss on their loans. The Basel process, and various changes in what could be counted as an asset to meet this requirement, was one of the causes of the financial crisis. Banks were holding other banks' CDOs as core assets, but no-one could work out what they were worth, so no-one had confidence in the core capital of the banks. This whole area is a nest of vipers. You may say the banks shouldn't be so greedy, and should just have held boring (lower profit) government debt to meet their Tier 1 capital requirement.

Which is all fine and dandy, until you look at the Spanish, Greek of Cypriot banks, who are currently doing just that. Even government bonds aren't as safe as houses, and neither is cash. Even gold has to be guarded - and fluctuated in value by over 20% last year.

When you look at how complex it is to keep heavily regulated financial trading working safely, it doesn't exactly fill you with confidence about totally un-regulated trading...

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STRIPPED DOWN and EXPOSED: Business kit from the good old days

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Happy

Re: Sir

Alistair Dabbs,

Just call Special Branch, and tell them that you've found a bunch of gas masks and a mysteriously locked safe. I'm sure they'll pop round right quick and open it for you.

You may wish to take the precaution of moving all your valuables to a safe distance first...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Black Helicopters

Don't listen to him! He's an FBI agent provocateur!

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: Sir

Oi! Dabbsie! Don't take the money. Open the box!

If there's something scary in there, we'll be right behind you. Several miles behind you...

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BOFH: Attractive person is attractive. Um, why are your eyes bulging?

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Re: Did I just read a thinly veiled mysogynistic rant or what?

What you're saying is, bitches is bitches.

Nope. What I was doing was replying in a semi-jocular fashion to a piece of comedy writing. But if you want me to be a touch more serious, then people is people. And I was quite tickled by the comic suggestion that everyone has a core of crazy in them, which it would be inadvisable to awaken. Lest ye be destroyed by floods of errupting wrath.

The BOfH seems to hate people, not women - so it's mysanthropic rather than mysoginist. Should you feel the need to dignify it with such analysis... An equal opportunities bastard. Every other episode suggests that all men are curry-munching, beer-swilling, lecherous pornaholics. Myself I'm no big fan of curry...

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Re: Did I just read a thinly veiled mysogynistic rant or what?

Basically anything that touches on this type of man's enormous but fragile ego.

Corinne,

I was thinking about men's bizarre release of the CRAZY over football. But obviously map-reading/asking for directions is another one.

Thinking about it: family + car journey = high probability of CRAZY criticality

There are many subjects which are unisex-CRAZY-inducing, but a surprising number which only seem to wind up roughly half of us.

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WTF?

Re: Did I just read a thinly veiled mysogynistic rant or what?

Did I just read a thinly veiled mysogynistic rant or what?

Good God man! You're reading the BOfH, and you ask a question like that!?!?!?!

Even odder, given that the CRAZY is the pure distilled truth. Some people's CRAZY is well buried, and you're unlikely ever to see it. Some people can be set off at the slightest provocation. Because it's a weird emotional thing, it gets even more tangled when it comes to relationships between the sexes. As, in general at least, women and men tend to emotionally invest in different things. For example, I've had discussions with other men about what to wear to an event, concentrating on what social or professional impression you're trying to make. But they've never lasted longer than 2 minutes. And I don't know any man who's spent several months planning what they're going to wear to a wedding, or major party, having at least one conversation a day about it. And commenting on the absurdity of that much effort put into dressing for one event is a guaranteed way to wake the CRAZY.

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Re: Bad answers.

Not just the colour of the kettle, which is bonkers enough, but whether it went with the curtains! I wouldn't know what colour went with what anyway. Let alone care. Still at least it was easy to answer. I'm not going out with her, so no lying diplomacy required, I was simply able to state that I don't care.

"Yes! That is exactly the point! Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally? ... OK Mr Wiseguy, if-you're-so-clever what colour do you think it should be?" etc.

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All questions about clothing with a partner risk waking the CRAZY. It's a situation designed to test even the most experienced of UN diplomats. In fact, they should use that as the interview test when they pick their next Middle East peace envoy.

For goodness sake woman! I don't even know what wallpaper colour goes with which. Don't ask me what colour dress you should be wearing. When I was a kid, and was asked what colour contact lenses I wanted, I said yellow! I was 4 years old at the time, but my point still stands. I should be excused from all discussion on the matter.

My sister-in-law genuinely asked me what colour kettle I was going to get, and whether it would match the accent colour of my curtains. She may as well have been speaking Klingon.

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CERN outlines plan for new 100km circumference supercollider

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Happy

Re: Unlikely.

IanRS,

Could be, could be. Let's do the calculations:

e = mc2

Where: e = expenses; And mc = an after-dinner speaker who's eaten so many banquets, and drunk so much port, that his original weight has been multiplied by itself - and he's now pretty much cube shaped.

So what we can see is that for every year in office, the energy costs of accelerating our eurocrats to near the speed of light are multiplied by themselves - according to a ratio of how many banquets they have spoken at. With 700 Euro MPs, plus 30-odd commissioners (both numbers expanding), the energy required to do this is growing exponentially.

Worse, as you accelerate them towards the speed of light - their expenses approach infinity.

I suspect the CERN scientists would be better approaching this from the other direction. They could use their collider portal to another dimension to summon foul creatures - and use them to rob banks / blackmail a bigger budget out of the Commission. Or they could put an accountant in the radiation backscatter from one of their eldrich machines and get him to create the Special Theory of Disaster Area Accounting - where he proves that spacetime isn't merely curved, but bent. And siphon all the expenses payments into their budget...

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Devil

Re: Build it somewhere else

I was just thinking of replacing the M25 with it. Traffic would only move marginally slower than now. And if it does happen to form a black hole, we'll probably only lose London...

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New Forum Wishlist - but read roadmap first

I ain't Spartacus
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Drew,

As I recall, the comment text has just got bigger - but the handle text smaller? Or maybe it's just the handle not going up with comment text size - and it now looking smaller?

I think one thing I missed was the varying thickness grey bars you used to have on the left of posts, to indicate indentation. Which I thought was nicer than your swirly arrow thing. Although that arrow is a link back to the post it's replying to (which is often helpful).

Also, there used to be nice thick lines between posts. And everything seemed a bit more separated, and less 'flat'. It seems to be the current fashion in UI design that everything should either be white, or pale grey - and there should be as few separators as possible - presumably in order to make minimalis designers feel all gooey inside. Use of colour, lines, shading and shadows does seem to be going out the window. Grey and white seems to be the biggest contrast that modern UI aesthetics will allow. It's a trend I entirely fail to comprehend.

On the subject of links that have gone (or at least I'm sure used to be there), in the non-article forums I'm sure you used to have a nested formum titles link at the top of the page. In something like the format:

You are in: User Forums > El Reg Matters > New Forum Wishlist

Where each was a link, so you could move around within the forums more easily. If I'm mis-remembering, and that wasn't there before (and my memory is playing tricks) - well this is the Forum Wishlist thread...

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No braille for me. 5x magnification all the way baby.

I think there's some pretty snazzy braille and screen-reader kit out there now. Like smartphones, it's pretty good at re-streaming the main article text, and just giving you that. So many ads are image-based (with no ascii elements), that I'd imagine they just get dropped.

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I ain't Spartacus
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This change also makes the link to the post, in context of the forum, smaller - and even less obvious than it already was.

To be grumpy, I must say that I think your web designers keep making changes to these forums, that make things less obvious and easy to read at a glance.

In your pursuit of minimalism, readability seems to suffer at every turn. Text size gets smaller, links are removed, along with dividing lines, shading and colour. Have you secretly been taking refugees from Microsoft's Metro team?

This is in marked contrast to the articles\main pages, where you have a few too many elements for clarity. I've no objection to adverts, but because you have so much stuff, mixed in with ads, jump-lists and menus, all the stuff on the side-bars sort of merges into one.

Not to play the disability card (he says as he's doing it), but as someone with about 5-10% of average vision, I value clarity extremely highly. And I call down curses upon all web designers who choose dark brown text on a light brown background!

I admit I'm an edge-case, and discrimination legislation notwithstanding, I believe you should concentrate scarce resources on catering to the majority of your customers. But I struggle to accept that any user would prefer a lack of clarity to the alternative. I'm not saying things are bad, by any means, just that several changes in the last year or so, have been for the worse.

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Apple cash stash dash results in Icahn v CalPERS bitchfight

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Re: Are these numbers correct?

He's effectively steering the board of Apple because he's basically right. However unpleasant and noisy he is.

If the pension funds would do their fucking job, and hold company boards properly to account on behalf of their investors, then we wouldn't need these activist shareholders.

I guess it's because the pension execs don't want to rock the boat. As they're hoping to be on the same gravy-train perhaps? But anyway, they've done a piss-poor job of overseeing the renumeration committees - and in fact the boards in general. They've allowed too many CEOs to also be chairmen, so they can control the board, instead of the other way round.

Apple have no business holding on to over $100 billion! They don't do big acquisitions, so they only need enough for a fat reserve, plus Tim Cook's cleverly used supply-chain slush-fund. $30bn at most, should be enough. Holding on to any more is just willy-waving, and rather suggests that the board have forgotten it's the shareholders' money (and in fact company) - not theirs.

Sorry about the rant. ...And breathe...

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Twitter shares tank as blabbergasm implodes in full glare of unforgiving investors

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Looks like they timed the IPO perfectly then!

Actually according to the figures I saw somewhere, they actually did turn a tiny profit last quarter, for the first time ever. If you strip out the one-time IPO costs. So who knows, they may actually start making small amounts of cash. At which point they'll move to the ludicrously over-valued group, along with Facebook - for companies that make money but nowhere near as much as their share price demands. But that's better than being in the outrageously over-valued group of dead-beats, along with Zynga and Groupon...

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Video thrills the Google ad star: Susan Wojcicki becomes YouTube chief

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Trollface

Re: I don't upload to Youtube any more

My mind struggles to encompass the possibility that Youtube comments could get any worse. You'd have to come up with some truly mind-bending laws of commentard dynamics to allow that to be possible, enough to make a quantum physicist go "Huh? What? No! That can't make sense."

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How many keys can one keyboard have? Do I hear 200? 300? More?

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Re: That's progress!

I do it positionally. I have Excel and Word next to each other on my desktop, a row below Outlook, with the different browsers above that. Security tools at the top of the screen, admin stuff to the left, etc. I also have the labels turned on with icons wherever posisble, the Office ribbon, Firefox, GMail...

It's one of my least favourite features of iOS and Metro, that the UI designers stupidly won't let you have gaps between groups of icons. Or even give you divdiders. The simplest way to make it clear what things are is denied to the users by fuckwits who seem to have no conception that different people use their tech in different ways. So I have my iOS icons split into groups of similar apps, spread out over many homescreens. Which works fine until it comes to something where I can't remember how I categorised it.

Big old seas of icons are no more user-friendly than huge walls of text.

I was trying to assemble some flat-pack furniture the other day. And to save money (i.e. translation costs), the instructions had no text whatsoever. It was all diagrams, with pretty pictures to tell you what to do. These were shit. Sometimes a picture may paint a thousand words. Other times, 5 words make far more sense than a thousand pictures drawn by total numpties on grey re-cycled paper, in light brown ink.

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Devil

Re: That's progress!

Have these people ever heard of labels?

If you can't remember the shortcuts you need, how the hell are you going to remember what icons represent them?

Clearly what Photoshop really needs is a little paperclip in the corner, which sees what you're doing and says "it looks like you're trying to use the clone tool to airbrush a member of the party that you've just had shot. Would you like help with that?

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Syrian Electronic Army: We hijacked FACEBOOK ... honest, guv

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Re: So they didn't actually hack Facebook

It's annoying when the normal news gets it wrong, but the Reg should be getting it right!

The Reg did get it right. They cover what happened in the article, including who exactly did get hacked (as far as we know the details), and with what effect. i.e. none. And why FB didn't get hijacked.

Even the headline is pretty clear. Obviously headlines are advertising, they're trying to get you to read a story, so they can be a bit sensationalist - so long as they aren't actually lying. This headline has what the SEA claim, followed by "... honest, guv". Which is a pretty clear indication that the SEA are telling porkies. Which the article then covers. What's to complain about?

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Twitter shares plummet as first-ever earnings show weak growth

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Re: IPO-related overhead, including a $521m charge for stock-based compensation expenses

I assume that's not the fees, so much as the giving staff loads of shares so they don't instantly leave expense.

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Android users running old OS versions? Not anymore, say latest stats

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It's partly a numbers game

When version 2.x of Android was out, 'only' 200 million smartphones a year were selling. Now it's a just hit 1 billion a year. So the new is bound to outnumber the old. Plus there was that rather weird gap with Android 3, which was the emergency tablet version, that barely made it onto any phones. So there was quite a big gap between 2 and 4, and therefore a jump in hardware requirements.

I don't follow Android as closely as I did, but hasn't 4.4 been out for about 6 months now, and only has 1-2% of the market? So there's still a slower uptake of the newer OS versions. But it probably doesn't matter as much, as improvement is slowing down.

However, fragmentation was only one criticism. The more important problem is security updates. Are Google still issuing secruity updates for 4.0? And whatever version you're on, even if Google are still fixing bugs and security holes - what good is that, if you're manufacturer and telco can't be arsed to pass them on to you?

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Satya Nadella is 'a sheep, a follower' says ex-Microsoft exec

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Happy

Re: sheep?

I guess he's suggesting that there's been too much woolly thinking by the Microsoft board. That they've made a ewe-ge mistake, ram-med this decision through too quickly - and so have flocked it up.

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Badges for Commentards

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Re: Out of curiosity ...

I haven't noticed any new ones around, so I don't think there are any more. And only some of the staff seem to have been given one. I suspect they've forgotten about them, and that they could give more out if they felt like it.

They could do it like nightclub bouncers. One in, one out...

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Kaltern,

It's 100 posts for bronze. Not upvotes.

Silver then needs 2,000 up votes.

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Gene boffins: Yes, you. Staring at the screen. You're a NEANDERTHAL

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Alien

Re: Soooo....

Are you into space alien porn?!

Who doesn't like a bit of red-hot tentacle action?

Anyone? Anyone? Just me then...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: Science Express

No. Science Express is the boffin tabloid that believes that asylum seeking neanderthals murdered Diana while living on benefits that should go to native Homo Sapiens - thus lowering house prices.

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Yes, Google can afford to lose $9bn in Motorola sale. But did it really?

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Re: You lost me there

Tax law rewards you for saving loss-making companies. So I think you're allowed to take into account teh losses from the company for up to 5 years before you bought it. Assuming that's not been used already. As the whole of Motorola hadn't made profits for ages, I think that meant Google could expect 5 years losses of over a billion a year. Plus the 2 years they owned it

If so, that's $7 - $10bn of losses at about 30% corporation tax = around $3bn.

Better that a loss making company be rescued than not. So there are many situations when the tax write-off is a great idea. Even possibly here, as Google didn't kill Motorola they just sold it off in bits. But a company that's not looked like making a profit for that long is probably no loss to the economy, and some of its parts were worth something. Google were willing to stump up the cash adn absorb 2 years of losses (risking never being able to sell), so I guess they probably deserve the tax breaks - which have pretty much worked as designed. Even if it does look a bit icky.

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Troll-hunting cases SPIKED in 2012... but remain high

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Devil

Re: Mam test

Elmer Phud,

As a member of the post community, I find your comment both distateful and offensive! We posts have been discriminated against for too long! Don't blame me when we go on strike, and all your fences fall down.

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Language-mangling Germans fling open Handygate to selfie-snapping whistleblowers

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Re: Such a refreshing language

I hate that German thing for concatenating words. Obviously learning to pronounce longer words is harder than short ones, as you've got more chance of stumbling before you get to the end.

But my real problem was my reading glasses. Which actually have a very limited field of vision, in order to get the correct level of magnification without distortion. In fact I can't quiute read magnification without moving my head, as I can only see up to the 'o' - so that's about 12 letters of vision in one go. 12 letters barely even gets you started on some German compound words.

Can I sue Germany under the disability discrimination act? I'll take €1 from each of them to make the case go away...

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Hello Moto: Lenovo grabs Motorola biz for $3bn. But Google's KEEPING the patents

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Re: Not $9B

Interesting. If Motorola had $3bn cash, doesn't that make the patents free (or nearly so)? There's a lot of losses to set against tax. Possibly billions of corporation tax savings. $4-5 bn in selling the set top boxe and phone divisions. It doesn't take much tax write-off for those 3 to come to £9.5bn...

I knew I should have trained to be an accountant when I had the chance. There's gold in them thar hills!

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: for those who said buying Motorola was all about the patents...

I know the tax losses are huge as well, I was being a bit silly on the $9bn loss. Over $2 bn since they owned it, and I believe they're allowed to use the 5 years of losses up until then as well. So that's got to be close on $10 bn total to write off against profits.

So I guess that's $3bn odd corporation tax advantage and $4bn odd for sell-offs. Can they also claim a loss on the sale price? If not $2.5bn still seems a bit steep for those patents. It's a strange way to run a railroad...

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Re: I laughed and laughed and laughed...

That strategy has done wonders for Nokia's shareholders. Who else would have bought their failing phone division off their hands? It had finally lost its competitive advantage on the low-end phones to China and Samsung, after years of very successful supply chain fancy-footwork. And at the same time management had seen the smartphone era coming for a decade, got all the research done to lead it, but then forgot to actually finish any of their 5 (or was it 10?) competing smartphone OSes. Had they gone Android, there's a good chance that the shareholders would have to fund the redundency payouts for everyone, and years of expensive restructuring. Rather than dumping it all on MS, and letting them take the risk.

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Re: for those who said buying Motorola was all about the patents...

It seems to have been a cunning plan by Google management to take over $9 billion outside and set fire to it! I guess they're doing their bit to reverse QE...

OK, OK. I know the patents must be worth something. But it ain't $9.5 billion...

I assumed they were after the patents, but wanted the hardware division as well, otherwise why didn't they sell it earlier? It seems bizarre to buy a company you don't want, with no idea how to get rid of it, when it's losing you over $1 billion a year.

I guess it's like a mate who's into motor racing. He bought a 60s Alfa Romeo, in decent race condition, because it had a racing sump that he wanted for his. His 'cunning' plan was to swap the sump with his, give the car a nice polish, and sell it on for a profit. Well the first two bits worked anyway... After a year of having it in a lock-up garage, and hiding the purchase from his wife, he finally managed to get rid for a classified amount less than he paid. At least it was his money to waste, not his shareholders'. Ooops! As the saying goes: Q. How do you make a small fortune in motor racing? A. Start with a large fortune.

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Big tech firms holding wages down? Marx was right all along, I tell ya!

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Re: Excellent article - b u t -

Psyx,

Services are genuine work. Exporting them can be just as valuable as manufacturing. As countries get richer they're going to want pharmaceuticals, architecture, aerospace, satellites, pop-culture, building services, insurance, higher education, finance, access to legal services - all areas in which the UK economy is currently strong. Along with being the world's fifth largest manufacturing economy with a fast-growing car export sector for example.

People even on a low level of wages start to want luxuries. Sure that might not be high fashion or whisky for a while (although the factory owners and corrupt governments will be into that pretty quick) - but they might want games for their mobile phones. Or watch films / listen to music.

That's all stuff their economies don't yet do. Also there's probably something about the foreign. When you've been stuck in a poor local market for ever, and you start to get cash and open up to the outside world foreign stuff is likely to become cool. China is currently going mad for fine wines. Obviously not much use to the UK market, we need to get them to think beer, gin and whisky are the real cool. You can't be hip without a hip flask perhaps...

Economics isn't a zero sum game. We don't lose just because they grow. Where we do lose out is in competing for scarce resources. Although that's nice if you're Australia or Canada with loads of mineral resources to export. But if productivity can continue to grow, and we can get to a more sustainable energy system (fission then fusion perhaps) the world economy as a whole can keep on expanding for years.

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Re: Labour theory of Value

The Marxist point is that the 'expensive things' (the drills, pumps et al) are also produced by labour too and take their Marxist value from that.

That's precisely the point. The labour that built the mining equipment wants to get paid. Someone has to pay them. Otherwise they won't build the stuff, and the mine can't be built.

Unless the equipment workers are willing to give the mine workers credit. If so, what are they going to live on in the meantime until the gold starts to flow? If they do it from savings, then they become capitalists - and will probably want a profit from the deal, to make up for the risk they've taken with their capital.

Now of course you could have a system where the government does all this on the workers' behalf. So they tell the mine equipment builders to make it, and the miners to dig. Paying them both from debt or cash, until the mine is profitable. Planned economies like that have been tried, and turned out not to be very successful.

One of the problems with all governments, democratic and otherwise, is that they tend to stop operating on the workers' behalf, and start operating on the governments' behalf. Which can vary from subtly different to the workers' interests to purges and gulags. Democracies win here though, as they can usually change without having to shoot people.

Actually planned economies can be quite good at things like mining, at least for a time. Heavy engineering can be quite predictable, so the planners have a chance of making a good shift of things. What central planning can't do is pay the workers. Sure it can give them money. But they have to buy things with that money. And workers/consumers tend to be a lot more fickle, and less predictable, than heavy industry. So while the government might successfully work out how many mines to dig, and how much kit to equip them with, it'll never work out how many sandwich shops to build, or TVs to manufacture.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Labour theory of Value

Stephen Channell,

The problem with Marx's idea about the value of labour is that he was trying to use it to make a political point. Rather than construct a theory of how the economy works.

In your gold example, without labour that dirt is worthless. But if the capital isn't allowed to make its share of the profits then there won't be any capital. Just try mining for gold without drills, air pumps, metal pit props and all the other expensive things required to make a mine...

Also, by the same idea, if a car is entirely built by robots, the manufacturer should give it away free!

The trick is to try to make sure everyone gets a fair share. Then you too can become a capitalist. That's what a pension is after all. You stick some of your wages in a fund for 40 years, and they should have doubled every decade or two, ready for you to retire and spend the lot.

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Re: Shot feet

Psyx,

What's winning? Am I winning if I have a nice enough standard of living? Even if someone else has raked in 10 times as much as me, I've still got my nice life. Or do I have to be doing as well as them to count as winining?

Subsistence farming has it's upsides. You're your own boss, the hours are good. But the downsides are also pretty bad, which is why people have historically moved from it to some pretty grim industrial jobs.

It would be lovely if we could achieve equality. Whatever that means. But we almost certainly can't. However we ought to be able to achieve a decent life for most/all, with a balance of work, shiny toys and leisure. We'll probably have to put up with some people doing considerably better than the rest though.

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Re: Excellent article - b u t -

Psyx,

I'm not as pessimistic as you. I don't think that our standard of living has to drop, so that the rest of the world can catch up. Although it may not grow as fast as it otherwise might have, but that's hard to know.

The point is that as the poorer countries get some money, they'll start importing from us. Or should have, if they so far hadn't been lending that cash back to us. Even then though UK wages didn't stagnate until about 2003-2005 - and some of that was from immigration.

Britain still makes quite a lot of cash from designing stuff. Plus there's lots of services we're good at. There's plenty of good bits of financial services that we can export, such as insurance. So in an expanding global labour force there's the challenge of more competition, but that also becomes a bigger market. What's happened in the last few years is that things have become unbalanced. Rapid change can do that.

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Re: Low pay?

It can be both. The question isn't whether tech workers are getting more than other workers. The question is whether tech shareholders are getting more of the profits than the staff otherwise would.

If there's a limited supply of skilled staff, and a large demand for them, then wages should be very high. Otherwise the shareholders are making excess profits.

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Re: Excellent article - b u t -

The horse meat issue was supermarket or food processor profiteering or price competition. Probably more competition, as it was the really cheap stuff that was full of horsemeat. In order to sell some really cheap products they were obviously screwing their suppliers down to too low a rate - or the suppliers were biddding too low knowing they could get dodgy meat. I guess it was a combination of trying to build down to a price, and long complicated supply chains, plus dishonesty.

It may also have been a one-off, as I did read that the glut of horses was down to Romania banning horses and carts on roads, so a whole bunch of horsies went to the knackers in a short period.

The CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) works in various ways. But one way is to protect EU farmers by imposing tarrifs on certain goods coming from outside the EU, into the market. Remove those, and we could buy some foreign food cheaper than (for example) small French farmers could make it. Forcing them to undergo quite a lot of pain and become more efficient, or get out-competed. Thus Africa would have been a lot richer over the last few years, but rural Europe done worse. Britain went through a lot of that pain in the farming industry in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Politically it was decided that it was better that society fund farming rather than have cheaper food. That's almost certainly un-controversial in large chunks of the EU. Which is why 40% of the EU budget is still spent on CAP.

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Re: Excellent article - b u t -

That's all true, but should be self-correcting. Over a reasonable length of time anyway. One of the issues is that the free-ish global market grew so quickly, when China, India, Brazil and others all decided to start playing within a decade of each other.

Adding a couple of billion people (potentially at least) to the global labour pool in such a short time was bound to have an effect on wages. But even though it's a really big world, it's still not infinite. There's only really Africa to add (which is happening) and then not much more.

Also, there is an offset which works against the driving down of wages. Prices also drop. If you live in Britain prices of everything you buy have plummeted over the last twenty years, except for 3 main things Food, houses and energy. Now energy inflation is to be expected - peak oil and all that malarkey. But the only reason we have had such food price inflation (at least so I suspect) is that it's the one global market that most definitely isn't free. The Americans subsidise their farmers, and the EU even more so, with a large side-order of trade barriers. If our governments had dumped these (which have consistently been the massive stumbling block in world trade negotiations for 3 decades), then we'd all be gaining quite a bit more from globalisation. Then we could use some of the subsidies to help farmers who'd lose out, and still have change for a tax cut or some more schools'n'hospitals.

The other big imperfection of globalisation has been the world savings rate. Had China been spending all the money we paid them, then the terms of trade wouldn't have been so bad, ordinary Chinese people would have been richer. So they'd have also been buying our stuff, helping our economy too. But the Chinese government instead decided to buy $3 trillion of US government bonds, in order to keep their currency lower, and to keep wages lower within China. Keeping their competitive advantage for longer. But as it turns out helping to screw-up our economies while their own domestic demand wasn't able to take the strain. That imbalance, of all the surpluses Asian governments built up to protect their currencies, all the cash from the oil exporters, not helped by all the big companies sticking trillions in overseas tax-havens to avoid corp tax, went sloshing round around lowering interest rates and people got hooked on cheap credit. It's also one of the reasons we went collectively mad and bid our house prices up so high. That and lack of building.

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Developer's rare $50,000 Twitter account @N stolen in web shakedown

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One bit I don't get is how GoDaddy support can't recover an account where the personal data has been changed.

Surely that's the first thing any hacker is going to do. When I phone up and say my first pet's name was Spot and they say no it ain't - they can see that the answer was only changed yesterday and has been Spot for the last ten years? Otherwise what the fuck is the point of any of these security questions?

Obviously it makes it harder, as you don't know if the answer was changed because the real user had been hacked and got to the account first. So you'd have to suspend the account and try to work out which of the two people was genuine.

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Facebook app now reads your smartphone's text messages? THE TRUTH

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Re: I think facebook design their mobile site

Lamont Cranston,

You say that as if the non-mobile version of Facebook is any less hideous.

As always I default to my standard belief in incompetence over conspiracy (or plan) every time...

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Re: iOS?

PS:

I decided to have a look. Surprisingly enough Google Maps also asked for permission to use the microphone. Denied. Nothing has asked for Bluetooth or phots. Only Gmail wanted contacts, also denied.

Location Services seems to be the biggie, that every app seems to want. I assume it's partly because of advertising. Here Apple are quite good, as even Apple's own apps have to ask for permission to use this. So I've allowed Apple maps, but not the camera or Safari, for example.

Apple also have an advertising bit in the privacy settings. You can limit ad tracking (whatever that does) and manually re-set your advertising tracking ID.

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Re: iOS?

iOS stuff asks for permissions as you use the feature. At least the stuff I've installed. And then there are permission lists scattered around the rather disorganised settings menu, where you can grant or remove permission for each app individually. It's then up to the dev what they want their app to do.

Some simply stop, say they need the permission activated and don't do anything else. So you have to go back to settings and enable - weirdly this doesn't seem to happen via the app.

I've just looked, and actually there's a privacy menu now, which covers most of it. Although I notice that in giving Google maps permisison to use location services (for satnav) it also gave itself a 'background app' permission I wasn't previously aware of. Hidden in another bit of the settings menu. So that it could access location services even when the app wasn't turned on. So I guess I've been updating Google on lots of stuff to help their mapping for the last couple of months since I used G maps for sat-nav. Cheeky fuckers. Or data-thieves, as they really are.

Anyway, Apple is a bit of a mess, but mostly pretty good.

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Accused fraudster Charles Shrem quits Bitcoin Foundation board

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Re: Wakey, wakey .......

If the banks' customers were paying the banks' fines, then bank profits would remain the same the year they pay the fine. As prices would go up to cover it. But they don't. Fines tend to get accounted for as a one-off cost, and so come off the profits. So no, the shareholders pay, not the customers. The shareholders employ the bosses. A lot of what's broken about the current financial system is shareholders failing to to hold boards to account.

Bitcoin isn't unique in one of its members ending up in trouble. It's just smaller. Individual bankers may get put away, but heads of Central Banks in the real world don't tend to get involved in individual transactions. Whereas this chap was on some central board, but was also running an individual company.

That's just because Bitcoin is smaller, newer, less professional and less well regulated.

Also there's probably a difference. Criminals in global banking maybe know how to cover their tracks better. i.e. Even the criminals are more professional. Whereas people involved in Bitcoin may have believed all that stuff about anonymity, or just lucked into their Bitcoin fortunes - and not been all that bright to start with. For example, it was pretty obvious that lots of the deals on Silk Road were illegal. So having dealings with Silk Road was a huge legal risk.

If you're a global bank some drug dealers will try and use you to help in their money laundering. Even if you take all the precautions and honestly try to avoid them. If you wish to deliberately deal with them, you'd be sensible to make sure you have plausible deniability. And the CEO of the bank is unlikely to even know about transactions of that size anyway. So any legal blame can be lost in the multiple layers of management, and it all gets settled with a fine, and some improved procedures.

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Snap! Nokia's gyro stabilised camera tech now on open market

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Surely this is only a minor part of Nokia's special sauce. They're using image stabilisation, but also over-sampling on bigger sensors and then a bunch of processing in the camera, before the image is passed onto the phone's chip. I thought the size of the raw images was too big for either Android or Win Phone to process, as the OSes hadn't been written with this in mind.

I'm not sure Nokia had any realistic chance of a hardware advantage. It's just that they did the work to integrate it all, and get it small enough not to make a huge bulge in the phone.

Replicating it was always going to be research budget + time.

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Do you wear specs? Google Glass offers YOU amazing live HD video

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Ragarath,

Google say that their screen is the equivalent of a 25" HD screen from 8' away.

I can't read the subtitles on my 50" screen from that far away. I told you my eyesight was bad...

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