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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

2722 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

They don't recognise us as HUMAN: Disability groups want CAPTCHAs killed

I ain't Spartacus
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If you click on the wheelchair symbol, you get an audio CAPTCHA. I've no idea what it said, or whether they were even numbers of letters. The sound was so distorted I didn't even know when it started or finished.

The visual game was good. For most people, but then most people can already do CAPTCHAs. However it added some relatively fine motor-control to being very hard to see, so added a few more people with disabilities into the mix of people who won't be able to make it work. Back to the drawing-board I'm afraid. Next time, hopefully with less scripts and crap required to run it?

Plus, I might like the taste of a remote control on my sundae? Or hate cherries?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Slow down

They are truly rubbish. There's obscuring noise, otherwise the bots would just use speech recognition, which is nearly as good as OCR nowadays.

I can barely read visual CAPTCHAs but the voice ones are worse. And I've got above-average hearing, and experience mixing live music, so I was quite surprised by that.

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I ain't Spartacus
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wowfood,

Don't know if you've got any other condition, besides nystagmus. But I recommend alcohol. I did try to get my doctor to prescribe it last time I visited...

It's a side-effect of my eye condition, not the main problem. But I can see better after one glass of life-giving booze than before, as it's a muscle relaxant. Of course after ten...

The problem with most of those puzzles is that they're machine-solvable. So if they go into common use, the spam bots will simply be re-programmed to defeat them. I was trying to think of some way of working with jokes, but everything I can think of requires a database of questions for the CAPTCHA, at which point the spamming bastards just need to replicate (or steal) it and they're good to go.

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Happy

How's about just asking the question, "are you a spamming bastard?" I'm sure they wouldn't lie, because that would be naughty. After all, it works on visa forms, where they ask if you were a member of the Nazi party...

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I ain't Spartacus
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I've seen "what colour is the text?"*, or "what is this a picture of?". Ridiculously easy for a human.

Richard 81,

CAPTCHAs are already pretty easy for a human, so long as they can see properly. The whole point of this article was that if you can't see properly, they're ridiculously hard. And the audio versions are even harder.

Screen-readers tell you what text says, they aren't designed to tell you what colour the background is. Anything they can identify, is going to be equally easy for the spammers to spot.

Admittedly it might make things easier for someone like me, who has usable vision, but struggles with the text in CAPTCHAs.

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I ain't Spartacus
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dan1980,

That post is far too reasonable and thought through. How the hell did you get access to these forums?

I've always hated CAPTCHAs. It's a rare time that I can get the buggers on the first go. I have very severe sight problems. Sadly the audio ones are even harder to decipher, and I've got pretty good hearing. So I just merrily go through a few (swearily if I'm being honest), until I get one right, like house drumpBty or somesuch. The nonsense words are particularly hard for me, because there's no context, so if there's one letter I can't read, then it's impossible to guess. Whereas if the u in house is unclear, I can get it from context.

Unfortunately the same problem applies to OCR. If it's unclear about one letter, it can go to word tables, and come up with a probability for what word it'll be. Hence making it easier for me, is probably going to do the same for the bots.

Actually I think this is the first time I've properly thought about the bloody things, and despite the fact that they're hateful, annoying and discriminatory - they're also quite hard to replace. Email confirmation isn't going to stop a well-written spam-bot. Anything that's commonly used, and available for people to just bolt-on to their site is going to be worth the spammers writing a counter to. And there's always the problem of paying peanuts to people in web cafes.

Someone suggested a simple astronomy question for their local astronomy site. Which works by security through obscurity. As soon as that solution became commonplace, bots would be written with a database of easy astronomy questions. Anything that a test can get me to look up, the spammers can also do.

Anything I can think of that's more human is even harder to make accessible. Things like cartoons, or puzzles are going to be much harder to bung through a screen-reader - and I'd have thought any questions can be looked up as easily by the spammers as the customers. Or at least put onto the spammers database, as fast as they go on the questioners database.

Perhaps the answer to spam is identity confirmation before you're allowed to register a domain, and then vigilantes with baseball bats? There are more of us than there are of them...

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Big blue Avatar movie spawns THREE SEQUELS

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Unhappy

Re: Translation

Don't mention the Hobbit! My bum is still numb, and I saw it months ago!

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Hundreds of UK CSC staff face chop, told to train Indian replacements

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Re: Training your replacement.

Ah, but then you used NSA, which is also a keyword likely to be on their filters...

Adding in the use of both NSA and filters, and the deliberate obfuscation of a priority word, I wouldn't be surprised if the black helicopters aren't circling your house right now!

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What happened to Eadon??

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Re: What happened to Eadon??

Trevor,

This should be interesting. Is this one to start a topic on El Reg Matters, or is discussion going to be launched with an article, in order to get all the commentards involved? You get a much smaller set of us on the non-article forums.

I can imagine it's time for a re-think. Unless I'm mistaken the volume of voting and comments has gone up massively, even in the last 6 months. For example, it was only early this year that I hit 2,000 upvotes (I wondered if my badge would turn silver), and it's now 4,300. Voting's been going for more than a couple of years - so this looks like acceleration. There also seem to be a lot more 100 post topics than there used to be.

I used to moderate on a forum for an online game, with a million users. Although most of them never posted. I don't remember ever being upset by a post on there, although I guess accidentally clicking on links to that bloody Rick Astley song counts as mentally traumatic... I've always hated those link-shortener sites since those days, as they won't let you plug the link into their site and see where it goes, before you play Russian Roulette and click on it. Hence the Rick Astley pain.

Admittedly we didn't have article authors in the same way, so there wasn't the same personal target for bile and spite. There was a game-dev forum, but I didn't moderate that, I'd imagine it suffered from those problems. I never saw a death threat, and I believe El Reg have had to put up with several of those, mostly my job was stopping the bickering getting unpleasant (for which the Scottish forums were a nightmare) and swearing (for which the Irish were worst). And spam.

Obviously you've got the legal issues as well. You don't want to be sued for something written by a commentard, and I believe there's more of a risk of that as you moderate.

As well as laying out what El Reg is thinking the options are, I think we also need to know what problems it is that these changes are meant to solve.

For example I wouldn't recommend changing policy to get rid of swearing. There's not too much on here, so I don't see it as a problem. But it opens a moderation minefield. However, if other users see that as a problem (some who browsing at work), then you'll be forced to get into it. Oh what joy...

If you're worried about not getting bad stuff off the forums quickly enough, then you could give certain users a bit of moderating-ligtht powers. Just give them a 'report post' button that temporarily hides it, until El Reg staff have had a chance to look at it. Should be easy enough to take away if they abuse it, or over-use it. Non-employee moderation is something a lot of forums do. However, I've not noticed too many bad posts, given the rough-and-tumble that is normally allowed here. But if there's a lot being modded, it may be an option to reduce the workload of paid staff, let more through and catch it afterwards.

Hmmm. Think I've gone on a bit here. So I'll shut up. Perhaps El Reg should introduce punishments for posts that are too long? Eek! Shouldn't have suggested that...

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Ye Bug List

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Re: Invisible comments?

If it's forget the blackjack and hookers, then I can see it. I'm afraid your attempt to build a cloaking device, for the invisible stealth-shed, appears to have failed...

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No more top three comments below story? :(

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Re: No more top three comments below story? :(

I'm glad they killed them. I've seen others post on here to the same effect. Of course, now they have, the people who liked them complain. I guess you can't please all the people all the time...

My reason for not liking them is that the comments appeared out of context. Also, the first comment to get a few votes would stay on there, and get many more (either up or down), due to being in prime position. Not that I care too much about that, but I've noticed more comments with huge numbers of votes than before - and I suspect that's down to the top comments thingy.

However, they do seem to have made the link to the comments less prominent in the page design.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Killed the golden goose.

Erm, a little calm and sense of perspective might be in order here. All comments are still present and correct. They just haven't got the top few listed, out of context, where the voting becomes a self-reinforcing process. Get the first few, get to be visible, get more afterwards. Not that the voting matters, but the out of context bit does.

As for getting moderated on advertorial, it depends what you mean. The Reg do run a few sponsored articles, they're normally marked. Just don't read them. I don't blame them for controlling the comments on those, seeing as that's part of how this site is paid for, and the users are getting it free - what's to complain about?

Unless you're one of those whiners (of which there are many) who call the author a shill when he's nice about a company you don't like. In which case, again, it's their house, their rules (as their forum rules say). I've seen plenty of discussion of products, saying they suck, so I assume that's not too heavily moderated. If people are calling their author's names, then tough shit if they get modded.

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I ain't Spartacus
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El Reg have done their badges a slightly odd way, which Drewc said they were thinking of changing. They've set it up to check if you've made 100 posts in the last calendar year - to give the badges, but what computer can give, computer can also take away. So if you fail to post 100 times in a calendar year, then you will be unceremoniously de-frocked.

A quick check of your posts confirms this. If you click on your username, it lists all the posts under it, and I think they do about 50 to a page. Go to page 2, and the bottom 10 or so are from before August 2012. So you must be a bit under your 100 quota. Get back in those salt mines! The El Reg staff will give you a good whipping, and I'm sure you won't make the same mistake twice...

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Highway from HELL: Volcano tears through 35km of crust in WEEKS

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“The study provides one more piece of evidence that it’s possible to get magma from the mantle to the surface in very short order,”

So when can scientists arrange for this to be delivered to my barbeque at say 7 o'clock each evening, on sunny evenings only of course, ready for me to put on the dinner?

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You're doing WHAT with friends? Zynga sues Bang With Friends maker

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Devil

Re: Until they sued them...

Either that, or the app makers motivation is to build the perfect list of people who want to get all goey with their friends (who don't agree), then release a new app called Blackmail With Friends, where you have to pay them not to reveal all.

Hmmmm. This gives me an idea - how do I sign up to write Facebook apps?

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Jurors start stretch in the cooler for Facebooking, Googling the accused

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Re: Punish Thought Crime vs Real Crime

How's that Daily Mail subscription coming along?

By the way, rapists and murderers should get early release. In order to make prisons governable you have to be able to control the prisoners. One good way is to give them a longer sentence than you expect them to serve, and then give them time off for good behaviour. Thus if they don't behave, they don't get to leave early. So long as the sentences are designed right, this needn't be a problem. You may also wish to consider rehabilitation of prisoners before returning them to society. Unless you want to bring back the death penalty, or build many more jails and go for whole-life sentences.

One alternative is the US system, where loads of people are on long sentences with no possibility of parole. And they have incredibly violent prisons. Now obviously prisons are full of criminals, so this is going to happen, to some extent. But if people have no hope of release, then your only real threats are solitary confinement. Unless you want to introduce punishment beatings or something.

As a final point perverting the course of justice is a serious crime. And should be treated as such. Interfering with a defendants right to a fair trial is damaging to both the defendant (obviously) but also the processes that make society work. As well as the collateral damage of causing expensive re-trials, and putting witnesses and victims through the wringer a second time, because of it.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Oh Please

Are you serious?

Yup. It's dead serious. I've served on a jury. You can find someone guilty and they can get sent to prison for years. If you aren't taking that seriously then you're both a total idiot and a liability to the rest of society.

Banning someone from Googling the accused is no more ludicrous than checking for their name(s) in the tabloids, yet how many people did that before the internet came out?

Indeed, the above mentioned idiots and liabilities to society did used to check stuff out in the papers. Despite the fact that they are told not to. And now they search online, despite the fact they are told not to. Although online is worse, because at least the UK papers have heard (and sometimes comply with) sub judice rules. Also, the papers may not always be accurate, but they're doing a good deal more fact-checking than random bloggers.

There are rules of evidence for a reason, in order to give people a chance of a fair trial. You, as a juror, have to accept that you only get limited information. You usually don't get previous convictions for example. You have a role to play in a complex system, and it's your job to do it fucking properly. So some poor sod doesn't end up locked up when they shouldn't be. Also so the victims don't have to come back to court and go through traumatic testimony a second time, because you've buggered up the very expensive and complicated trial, and it has to be done all over again.

It's not rocket science. You're told what you have to do, and it's your job to do it, as best you can. To go all high-fallutin, its your duty to society. One of the things that makes a decent society, is a fair (ish) legal system. And while no system is perfect, at least juries allow ordinary people to be involved and hopefully keep things sane. With legal checks-and-balances to try and avoid lynch-mob-rule. The only way to ensure the system doesn't turn into a totally self-interested closed shop is to grab ordinary bods off the street, and get them to serve on juries. Which is inconvenient, but necessary. Society would be worse without it. And in my experience, you can be forced to serve on a jury, but they're mostly pretty easy-going about letting you avoid it, if you really want to.

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Galaxy S4 FIREBALL ATE MY HOUSE, claims Hong Kong man

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Happy

Oh yes, I nearly forgot the Rembrandt on the wall as well...

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NASA Van Allen probes discover PARTICLE HURRICANES

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Happy

Re: Excellent work

Wzrd1,

Ah but there's an advantage to the battleship armour thickness spaceship walls. It gives us a perfect excuse to go for the 'Project Orion' approach to spaceflight. Then we can get pretty much anything we want up there, and deal with nuclear proliferation, by 'recycling' old warheads.

Caveat: Now I like development as much as the next man. And I hate Nimbyism. However, on this particular occasion, I really must protest about the idea of Project Orion being launched anywhere near my house. I get these terrible headaches you see, and the last thing I want is something making them worse...

I can't decide between a smiley face and a big explosion icon. But I think I'll go for the smiley face, because big explosions are fun. When they're not happening to you.

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You MERCILESS FIEND... you put that audio file on AUTOPLAY

I ain't Spartacus
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Thumb Down

Re: Talking about accessibility...

'deaf semaphore'

Sometimes I despair of people on the internet, I really do. I tried to type something rational about the above comment, but I've lost the will to live.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Evil idea #21

Ah the sound of a door opening quietly in the distance, and then a piglike snuffling and grunting getting slowly closer...

Happy memories of playing Doom in the dark, with my first experience of 4.1 sound. You had to learn to look over your shoulder on the screen, not in real life. Happy days.

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Assange™ names a Senatorial stand-in

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Re: Smoke and mirrors

You really are deluding yourself if you consider what is in the press or published on the internet as total truth,its all smoke and mirrors designed to hide events and change whats written in the history books.

Arachnoid,

Take off the tinfoil hat old chap. I wouldn't disagree too much with your statement if you removed that word designed. Then we could agree that truth is hidden, very complicated and incredibly hard to pin down.

Wikileaks didn't really reveal anything we didn't already know. The diplomatic cables confirmed that sometimes diplomats and governments don't say what they really think about foreign policy - and also often negotiate with unpleasant regimes. Say it ain't so! You ought to have had that figured out once you started doing history at school. There's no excuse for not already knowing that by the time you're 18.

The Afghan war logs showed us that civilians get killed in wars. Sometimes by accident, sometimes deliberately. Again, you should have known that already. I don't recall a single case being highlighted of NATO screwing up and killing civilians that was covered up.

So what truth has St Julian unveiled to the world? That some guys who fly Apache helicopters make tasteless comments as they shoot at people milling around with guns (and it turns out an RPG), because they were afraid they had an RPG, and so might get shot down, and were covering it with bravado. Again what did that reveal? Other than Wikileaks point of view, by calling it 'Collateral Murder', and worryingly dodgy ethics by editing the version they put on Youtube...

Truth is complicated. We don't know everything. We should be sceptical of government, media and also historians and internet comments. As I said, you shouldn't need Assange to tell you that, not once you're past 16, or at the very latest, 18.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: A solution

That price is appallingly high. It's worth spending £3m every year to keep that loony confined to Ecuador's mansion flat in Knightsbridge, a bit steep but the Met have padded the figure anyway. It's not worth forgoing an Ashes win in order to get him! That's a disgusting thing to say!

There's a chance of a 5-0 slaughter here, with the opportunity to follow them home and do it all over again! This is a once in a lifetime gloating opportunity, and we might even make their captain cry and resign again. Haven't managed that since the 80s...

The Ashes is far more important than Julian Assange.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: If he were a senator though

Would he not get diplomatic immunity ?

g e,

There is is a persistent misunderstanding here. You can't award yourself diplomatic immunity. You have to be given it, from the country you're going to. Although I believe there may be some exceptions for the UN, for example I don't think the USA are allowed to block visitors to HQ in New York, because the UN has granted the immunity.

So Assange can only get immunity if the British government give it to him. Which they won't. Once granted, the only option is to declare someone persona non grata, and then they have to leave the country. Although immunity can be waived by their own government or ambassador.

There's no way for Ecuador to get Assange out, without breaking the Vienna Conventions that protect their embassy. Although there's also no sanctions built in, so the only cost would be to get a nasty note from the Foreign Office, have diplomats expelled, or diplomatic relations broken off (which would be overkill). And the legal advice to the FCO is probably that they can't make a deal to let him leave, as a court has already ruled he's off to Sweden. So unless they do a deniable deal, and turn a blind eye - Ecuador are stuck with him until they back down and kick him out - or risk escalating a diplomatic annoyance into a full-blown row. As the police have a legal obligation to arrest him, and the government have no legal right to overrule the Met in operational matters, doing a naughty little deal would have a massive chance of becoming public. The Met and the government aren't on good terms.

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Mornington Crescent

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jake Old Chap,

I'm never in Nidd! One would never do something so indecorous (if not positively disgusting). I prefer to consider it a state of an under-abundance of non-Niddness. One must try to maintain standards don't-yer-know.

I'm not sure quite why your original declaration of Mornington Crescent wasn't accepted by the chairman. Perhaps he's asleep? But by my reckoning you should have declared a crowned-and-consummated right there, and thus had irreversible title to the win. Hence the game would have had to be re-started.

But seeing as that didn't happen, you allowed another move to be made - and so forfeited your chance of the win. Now obviously Morton (the double-strike without clearing rule) would normally apply here, meaning that it's virtually impossible to ever clear Mornington Crescent and so therefore the game can never end. However, only a mad sadist would implement the rules in that way. Exactly who is the chairman anyway?

On an unrelated note - wine, cava, beer or margaritas tonight?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Good grief! Is this still going on? I've got a gig in Hull next Thursday?

Mornington Crescent!

Anyone's been able to say it for at least the last 7 moves, if only you'd bothered to read your 'Mornington Crescent for Dummies' by Rushton and Lyttleton.

Even Tim Brook-Taylor's 'My First Baby Book of Mornington Crescent - New Prince George Edition' covers this! And that was written in crayon, during one of his regular stays at Broadmoor. Well they say it was crayon, I've not seen many crimson crayons myself, they never did find where he hid the stolen kitchen knives... The smudged bits are probably just dribble though. It's amazing how no-one in the audience ever comments on the straight-jacket - and of course you can't see it on the radio. They replace Samantha with the rippling Sven only when he's having one of his dangerous periods.

As far as I know, the rule goes back to the original Greensleeves edition - so named as Henry VIII wiped his nose on his doublet while signing the original manuscript, and smeared bogies on the title page. It's Wolseley's Offence - and possibly one of the reasons Henry had him executed - that and wanting to nick his lovely palace at Hampton Court. I don't believe it's ever been superseded, so long as no signals cross-phasing has taken place at any time in the round.

I guess the next thing to do, is play a game of Bordeaux?

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ASA remit

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Re: ASA remit

It's self regulation: link to CAP website. An interesting little set-up. I can see where Lord Leveson looked for some of his ideas on press regulation, as well as some similarities with the old (discredited) press regulation systems.

It looks like the ultimate sanction is having your right to advertise taken away or at least severely curtailed. Mostly companies just get told not to run the ad again. But if you persistently offend they can get the advertising networks to refuse to take your ads (as they have a duty to make reasonable efforts not to air stuff that breaks the code). After repeated tellings off they can make you have all your ads pre-checked for compliance, backed by the same threat (as happened to FCUK a while back - the company what can't spell fuck). I'd imagine it's after that you get the plug pulled. If the advertising space sellers don't co-operate, and it makes enough noise, they might get full regulation, so they've an incentive to cooperate. Plus the ASA can refer to the OFT who can go to court, so there is a legal backstop.

Of course it's still self-regulation. It applies to pretty much all advertising, and marketing / sales promotions. Although it says that where things are unclear they will have a bias towards ruling on paid-for advertising space, which I guess means they'd be less likely to rule on a company's own website.

Anyway Brewdog could probably ignore it. This is self regulation. If the ASA felt sufficiently pissed off, they could ban them from mainstream advertising providers. If they don't market using those channels, then they might not care. I suspect they'd have to be a lot naughtier than this in order to get any serious sanctions - they're not high profile.

As for the Daily Fail, the code applies to advertising, marketing and sales campaigns. I'm sure their online ads are regulated, the same as the ones that go in the paper - and will mostly comply. The ASA don't have jurisdiction over the articles.

Although they do have the power to rule on 'advertorial' type content. Which could be interesting, given that 90% of the travel and fashion plus half the technology coverage in papers seems to be barely more than thinly disguised adverts.

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Texas man charged in multimillion-dollar Bitcoin Ponzi scheme

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Re: ISK can be used to buy play passes

M Gale,

CCP discourage it, but you can buy ISK on Ebay. Although it's reasonably hard to do without getting scammed or caught. And CCP can destroy it, if they catch you. So I can't imagine you can sell £1,000 of ISK in more than small chunks.

Of course they've also had an official market for a while now. But it's designed not to let you make a profit, but to allow people with time but no cash to play the game for free. So you buy game time for ISK in game, and people's game time bought from CCP is an in-game resource (a PLEX) until they use it. So by that method you can buy ISK for real money, but you can only sell it for game time cards. Again you can sell them in real life for cash, but then people have to trust you to give them to them in the game.

Also, rather cunningly from CCP, as these are in game assets, not only can they be scammed / stolen, but PLEXes can also be destroyed - if transported on a ship. So if that happens, CCP get to effectively steal the cash paid to them by gamers to play (as I recall there's no need to put them on a ship - so it's your own fault). Sometimes EVE can be an unfriendly place...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Oh and you got scammed in EVE - HaHa!

Tee hee. Nope. I wasn't ever rich enough to look at EVE banks and the stock market. Although I do know someone who ran a bank and didn't steal anyone's money for years. Gave good interest too.

Then I think he just got bored, and so decided to keep the lot. At one point he had over 100 billion ISK invested, so worth thousands of real pounds, if you could convert it.

Good old EVE, a hive of scum and villainy. Good for a giggle if you like blowing things up, and don't mind it all going horribly wrong every so often. Which it undoubtedly will.

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I ain't Spartacus
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"Any investment in securities in the United States remains subject to the jurisdiction of the SEC regardless of whether the investment is made in U.S. dollars or a virtual currency,"

It's a shame they hadn't said this back in the days when I was playing EVE Online. Although anyone trying to clean up the scams in EVE would need an awful lot of staff...

On a serious note, I always thought that Linden Labs were trying to encourage the use of Linden Dollars for real world transactions. Or at least trying to encourage real world companies to trade inside Second Life. So I don't see how they can also try to get away with calling it an in-game currency only.

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Badges for Commentards

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Re: Your theory is correct.. but not sure about slow

Drew,

From earlier comments, and badges then being issued, I was under the impression your badge script wasn't running all that often. Assuming you do it with a script... You've obviously now fixed that, if it's only taking 6 hours.

I was impressed that your system coped with me reaching 2,000 upvotes, and didn't downgrade me from gold to silver, assuming I was on bronze.

Talking of gold badges, shouldn't you be changing your gold one to an El Reg red one? Surely being on the staff is a far greater honour than being a mere scummy commentard with delusions of adequacy?

I think your option 1 is the best. It seems a bit odd to take someone's badge away, because they've only posted 95 times in the last calendar year. Unless you only want to reward continuous regular posters. But I presume the badges are just a bit of fun, and aren't meant to have any real purpose. So it's sad to take them away.

I suppose it could be considered a just punishment, by an angry Vulture-God, for abandoning the regular worship on the El Reg forums...

Even if you go for option 2, and have a badge page, people will probably still complain if they feel insufficiently badged. Even if it's only to ask when they're due their gold one. Plus option 2 seems like a lot more effort than just making the things permanent. You could make the badges a hyperlink though, that takes you to the badges bit of the forum rules.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: Purple Vulture

With an up:down ration of about 18:1, I heartily endorse this idea! :)

stuartnz,

You didn't want to say that. Now you've put the evil idea into my head that I can quickly change that... Just pop through a few pages of your posts and vote. Of course, it could be in a positive direction, I could see if I could boost you into the stratospheric 20-1 range.

But we all know that as an embittered old lag of an El Reg Commentard, it's going to be downvotes.

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ARTICLES without comment boxes - Climate, CO2, Anything authored by L. Page...

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Re: Solar Panels

There's always air-source heat pumps. They go inside.

Although even in conservation areas, I thought you could use solar panels if they were less than 25mm above the roof level. As for ground-source heat pumps, do you even need planning permission for those?

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Android MasterKey found buried in kiddie cake game on Google Play - report

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Re: @I ain't Spartacus

Anon,

Yup. If you want to put it like that, I'll go for it.

What does a downvote mean? How does it enhance the discussion? I don't think anything I've said here is unreasonable. You're entirely welcome to disagree. If it makes you happy, downvote away. But as I have no idea why I'm getting downvoted, I can't draw any useful information from it.

Whereas, if you disagree with something anyone's said, please fire up a post. Hopefully this can then be discussed, and we may all reach enlightenment.

It's all pretty straightforward really.

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Re: @I ain't Spartacus

So because you think it is a reasonable point, no one can disagree. Maybe that's your issue - you don't think you can be disagreed with?

Nope. I don't expect to get downvoted for making reasonable points. I expect to get disagreed with for that. A post in response to mine saying, 'you are wrong because a', or 'I think b', is entirely welcome. It's the basis for a reasonable discussion.

There's no point debating with trolls, it's a waste of time. So correct procedure is a quick downvote (if you can be arsed) and move on. If someone posts something that you think is factually inaccurate, or you don't agree with, then the whole point of a discussion thread is to discuss it, so do so. Politely and respectfully would be nice. Then everyone can learn something.

For example, I've not owned an Android phone for a couple of years, though I've set a couple up for friends, and played with them in shops. So my knowledge is good but rusty, and I've got a couple of things wrong, and been corrected - and hopefully learnt from same. Overall though, I believe I have a good basis for my opinions, having lived with 3 of the 4 main systems.

However, you didn't bother to disagree with anything I actually said about Android - so can I presume you agreed with it?

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Re: @I ain't Spartacus

I see you got a downvote for that, for some peculiar reason, so have an upvote to redress the balance.

Alister,

I see that you got a downvote too. Ooops.

'Tis no surprise. Some of the Android fanbois, make their Apple equivalents look sane. I try my best not to troll, but I get most of my downvotes through making reasonable points about the flaws of Android. And I get loads if I ever dare to suggest that Windows Phone has some good points. Well it does. I've had one, it was fine for a cheap smartphone. No actually, it was bloody excellent for a £100 smartphone, for a full-price £500 job, WP7 would have been severely disappointing though.

I replaced my Nokia Lumia 710 with a work iPhone 5. Which is also fine. The Lumia was a replacement for the work HTC Wildfire, which was also fine - if under-powered and horribly under-updated. I know that's HTC's fault, not Google's. But it'll be Google that the public and press will blame if/when the malware shit hits the fan.

I try to be positive, and upvote the good posts, and only downvote total idiots and trolls. Disagreement is fine. I find the fanbois hard to understand. There are no vendors who are perfect, and they're always tempted to put profits ahead of security/updates/customer services.

I try to be an adult about my tech choices, and practise sensible paranoia, without prejudice for vendors' past misdeeds. Or excessive trust or hero-worship. Which are equally bad. I'll take the tool that does the job, at the right price and required effort.

In the last couple of months I've recommended an Android tablet to a couple of people, an iPad to at least one, helped a friend choose and set-up the (excellent) Galaxy Note II, and recommended Windows Phone to a couple of people as well. Plus said avoid a tablet and get a laptop to someone else. Horses for courses. But not in lasagne - I'll take my horse casseroled in red wine, with veg, tatties and dumplings thank you.

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Anonymouse,

There's malware on Android, sure. But if you're not doing anything unusual, like using other app stores, or side-loading, you're pretty unlikely to pick up any nasties. It's not like Windows XP in 2002 for example.

Although it could theoretically get that way - and with no sensible update mechanism built-in Google would then seriously struggle to fix the problem. The potential for damage to their reputation is enormous, particularly as I don't think their user lock-in is anything like as solid as Microsoft's was/in on the PC market. iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone are all serious alternatives, given that for most users a phone is just an appliance, and many don't even know what OS they're running.

I struggled to get 2 ordinary users to understand last week that the iPad/iPhone run the same OS, or that Google's nexus tablets and Samsung's tablets/phones were all running the same OS. Many users still don't think of smart-phones as computers, with similar power to desktops. Many don't even realise (because they've never thought about it) that phones are the same as tablets, but with smaller screens.

Malware on their phone would come as a rude shock to them. They have an ongoing financial relationship with the carriers, who probably sold them the handset, and they're going to expect more customer service than they get through a PC they picked up from Dixons. Plus journalists love smartphones, and talking about smartphones. It makes them feel relevant and in-touch with da yoof. It will be big news, if it happens. And Google really don't seem to understand customer service. They are riding for a big fall, if they're not careful. In major part, because most smartphone users aren't well informed about the risk of malware on 'Droid.

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FAIL

Now don't I remember a story from one of Google's security Oompa-Loompas just a month or so ago? Oh yes, that's right. If nasty vendors don't patch vulnerabilities we find in under 7 days, then we'll publicly reveal them to the world, and it won't be our fault if there are exploits. It'll be their fault for not patching quickly enough.

Hmmmm. I thought that statement was a bit of a hostage to fortune, given the piss-poor method that Google decided on for Android patching. They really need to sort that out. I've been saying it (and getting downvotes) on and off since I got my first Droid a couple of years ago. It's a great OS, but with some obvious, and quite fucking ludicrous, flaws. Patching and updating being the biggest and obvious-est.

I wonder if this will prompt them to look at sorting things out? Or are they just going to stick their fingers in their ears and sing "la la la la la".

There's going to be a big outbreak of something soon, that makes the papers. It only takes that one high-profile story, then they'll start reporting every single problem, and Android's reputation may get trashed incredibly quickly. Like the papers reporting every Dreamliner that turns back and makes an un-scheduled landing, as if that's not something that happens to airliners every day, just because of the one catching fire at Heathrow. It won't take much to knock people's confidence in it, and send them scrurrying back to Apple, or even to Windows Phone/Blackberry, all of which are perfectly fine OSes.

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Articles with no comments

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Re: @Drewc - Oh look... @diodesign

TeeCee,

The problem with that though, is that the wannabe commentard clicks on the link in the article to the thread on the forums, and comments away. But there's nothing to take them further into the other user forums. So all they've done is to create an article-linked thread, not directly linked to an article. Which doesn't take things any further really.

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Re: @Drewc - Oh look... @diodesign

Drew,

I agree with you. I don't think this has been a success.

To be brutally honest, I don't think your non-article forums have been much of a success either. You get the odd 100 post thread, but I suspect most of those are linked to/from articles. Or have been going over months, like the wishlist/bugs ones for example.

It's a bit of a vicious circle. You post something, get no reply for a while, then stop bothering to look back, so when your reply turns up, 3 days later, you don't even notice.

I don't know what the cause of that is, although I could hazard a few guesses. Personally I think it's the unwieldy forums you use, which make it harder to follow conversations, and hard to see whether/when you've had a reply. It may also be down to the users only wanting to comment on articles, and not have discussions, but I do think there's a subset of your commentards who would post on non-article forums regularly.

I presume this was an experiment to try and drive more users to the forums, given that you've tried before by having a link from an article to a discussion thread, but that's not then attracted people to other threads.

I must say though, although your staff do make an appearance on them, it's pretty rare. And when people ask questions about badges for example in the Reg Matters boards, you guys don't often come along to answer. So even replies from you guys can take days/weeks. Then you'll do several at once. So if you're not even checking out your own forums all that regularly, why would you be surprised if your users aren't?

I know what a pain in the arse this can be. My company have just appointed me chief-spokesman on Twitter, to try and build up our Google ranking via social-bollocks, and maybe get some marketing value out of it. I'm sceptical, though I can see ways that we could use Twitter and Linked-in. But I can also see that it's going to be at least half an hour a day's work for me, to get any value out of it for us.

You could probably read all the posts to the non-article forums for one day in ten minutes at the moment...

Anyway, well done for coming on here and admitting it hadn't worked. It must be annoying when people post as if they have some sort of God-given human right to spout their opinions on every article, and it must be some sort of conspiracy or major character flaw on the part of the author if they are denied. I hope when I criticise El Reg, that I'm a bit more constructive than that. And hopefully a bit less up my own arse as well... Keep up the good work!

Toodle-pip.

P.S. - Please put an article on the front page about the Ashes, even if only to annoy your Aussie office, when they wake up.

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Rotten hackers feast on mouldy Java flaws

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Re: I've removed all trace of Java from my home machines.

I remember when Sun first gave Java a 'proper' update mechanism, and being pleased - and hoping Flash would soon follow suit. Only to look at my PC one day, and realise that I currently had about 10 versions of Java all installed at once. What a shit updater that was.

Now my machines are all Java-free, after two drive-by downloads that I was amazed my virus checker actually stopped without dying. Although paranoia still forced me to waste ages scanning the system with proper tools to make sure. I now uninstall it wherever I find it.

Sadly Flash now have an auto-updater. But it only ever did it without manual intervention once. I think it must be because they're so desperate to make you download that shitty McAfee toolbar/scanner thingy, so they make you do a fresh download each time, with an extra bonus chance to forget to untick that fucking box. I wonder if I installed it, whether Flash would then update properly like it's supposed to?

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New Forum Wishlist - but read roadmap first

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Re: Reasons for reporting abuse

Good point. I reported a spammer the other day. Well I think it was. 3 posts in 2 days from signing up the account, all plugging one app.

But just reporting the one post, that was almost in context, wouldn't have made much sense. So I reported all 3, in the absence of an ability to comment.

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UK investigators finger emergency beacon for 787 Heathrow fire

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Re: If it ain't Boeing...

I suspect that when the enquiries are all finished, we'll find out that Boeing bought all the flammable bendy-buses dumped by London, stuck wings on them, painted them white and is selling them on as Dreamliners.

Now I've resolved this complex engineering problem for the world, I'm off to the pub.

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Paypal makes man 1000x as rich as the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE

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Re: Are you telling me...

>Rugby which is popular in NZ, Australia, Italy, France, Ireland, S. Africa.

Four of those are countries which were owned by the UK.

I see you stayed anonymous, you disgusting traitor! Five of those countries once belonged to England.

France was, as all should know, an English possession! In fact if memory serves (and online checking confirms) George III was the last English king to also be King of France.

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Re: If it were Baldrick

Only if it had grown into a rude and amusing shape...

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The facts on Trident 'cuts': What the Lib Dems want is disarmament

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Re: Why on earth didn't the review cost up silos?

brain_flakes,

Who knows what threat the UK faces? Or to be more precise, will face in 2030, when the new system comes on stream. The whole point is that you have to plan for a world you know very little about, as it's still over 15 years away. This is the problem with planning military capabilities. If you're serious about it, you need to over-spend, because you need to be able to respond to potential threats, or at least have enough capability to tide you over while you upgrade something that almost does the job, or build something new.

Can you tell me who'll be governing Russia in 2030? Given they've got a few thousand nukes on ICBMs. Of course it may be that Putin is still President, in which case he's probably quite predictable...

And even that's assuming we trust the French! Well I suppose they haven't attacked us in a few years now, so maybe it's safe to turn our backs...

As for NATO guaranteeing mutual defence, do you even know if that will exist by 2030? Also it's less of a guarantee when you're talking about nukes. As no-one else will fancy a dose of the same. As was mentioned in the article. Once you're paranoid enough to feel you need nukes, you're going to be too paranoid to trust anyone else's.

Finally:

All in all it seems to me the report has been created simply to "prove" that we should keep Trident rather than actually look at all alternatives.

You are aware that the report was chaired by Danny Alexander of the Lib Dems, who wanted not to replace Trident. What he's found is that the alternatives are Trident, a bit less Trident or nothing. Anything else costs more for a less effective weapons system. Although 3 squadrons of F35s could obviously do other duties as well as nuclear ones, so would cost lots for lots of capability. But they're too short range to be a fully effective deterrent.

I suppose you could argue that land based missiles might be cheaper, if we could buy the US Minuteman system. Assuming they'd be willing to sell. And assuming the warheads were compatible, and didn't need a re-design. But the report doesn't, so I'd imagine they looked into that rather obvious idea. Plus land-based missiles are less effective at the stated job.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Still don't really see the point in Trident.

In the event of a nuclear attack on Britian there'd really be nothing left and the current scale of any British nuclear response is a rounding error in the scheme of MAD policies between gigantic nations.

16 missiles per boat x 3 warheads per missile = 48 cities with large holes in the middle. Which country has 48 cities that it wouldn't mind missing?

That's assuming an attack with no warning. And that a second boat isn't out on exercise with another lot of 48 warheads.

If a threat builds up over time, that number of warheads can also be increased. You can't build new boats in just a couple of years, but Trident can carry more warheads. I think we used to put 6 on them, but took 3 off each after the cold war. There are probably still warheads in storage, and we've plenty of plutonium to make more. So we could probably double the striking power of each boat pretty quickly.

Most nuclear policy tended to expect some warning of attack as well. After all, you've got to really piss someone off for them to want to nuke you. Even if plans were designed to cover the surprise attack. So Trident would expect to get at least 2, if not 3, boats to sea at any time of serious crisis. One will always be in repairs. So that could easily be quite a lot of nukes.

It's a rounding error in terms of the ten thousand warheads on ICBMs each side had at the height of the Cold War. But that was truly a silly number of warheads. Even accounting for the size of force needed to make a first strike even slightly, vaguely plausible.

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Re: Only £50m a year for a nuclear sub?

Well assuming that figure is accurate £50m x 20 years = £1bn. So it's a pretty big amount of cash. That'll probably be a non-inflation billion as well.

You'd have to have pretty much the same infrastructure, training and maintenance regimes whatever you do, so the difference is the cost of 1 boat, plus crew costs. As you say, the boats probably cost a lot less than the price tag, as cutting one will put the price of all the others up.

2 crews of 100 at an average of £50k per year each is £10m. Leaving £40m for the boat. So even if wrong, the figure isn't totally unreasonable.

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Re: US involvement

The UK build the warheads.

I'm not sure how it works with the missiles. As I understand it, they're drawn from a central pool of operational missiles. I don't know if after each Trident patrol they're taken out and sent back to the US to be overhauled, or if the UK do the local servicing but full regular overhauls are done in some Central facility. However given that the US also used the base at Faslane, it wouldn't surprise me if there wasn't some kind of joint facility there. The Navy are going to have a lot of experience of use and general maintenance on the missiles though, boats have to be able to fix them at sea - so they're going to know quite a lot about them.

Obviously the missiles are US designed/built. UK is responsible for its own warheads, boats and communications.

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Can we loose the annoying "auto expanding" ads?

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I have to agree. I've no objection to adverts, I recognise that poor El Reg Hacktards have to eat, and therefore us commentards have to stare at ads.

However I do object to starting to read an article, and then having it suddenly scroll zoomingly past my eyes at supersonic speed, as some advert up top has decided to go walkabouts.

The ones that really piss me off, are the ones that come down like a curtain over everything you're reading, and force you to click on a close button. They were fashionable a while back, and should that ever come back, my patience will snap and I'll use an ad-blocker. Which I currently don't. At which point it'll probably be too much hassle to train it for which sites deserver to go un-blocked.

I've done a quick bit of research. I'm running Vista on this office PC. In IE10 the ad doesn't randomly expand all over the page, it sits in its box like a good little Toshiba. In both Chrome and Firefox (latest versions), it loads up normally, has a little think, waits until you're not expecting it, and are reading the article. Then: Boo! Zoom! Whoosh! Bugger!

There seems to be a distressing tendency at the moment for web pages to jump around like epileptic fleas as they load. I don't know if this is a change in the way that browsers work or just the number of elements and bits of media from different servers that web-designers are trying to throw out. It used to be that you could load a page, and start reading the article, then other stuff would gradually turn up around the page. Now the whole thing seems to want to jump to whichever element has just loaded. This is something I particularly notice on the iPad browser. Some pages are unreadable for a whole minute, as they bounce around madly.

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