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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3563 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Never mind the astronauts' sarnies. The poor robot up there hasn't got any legs!

You'd be pretty pissed off if the bus carrying your legs kept getting delayed by several days at a time.

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Re: Say what?

James Hughes,

I guess I'd be pretty anti-Musk if I was still selling 1960s tech rockets for 3 times the price he's charging for ones he's just developed. Profits are yummy - and he should just bugger off and leave us to it!

There's going to need to be some adaptation in this market, pretty damned quickly, or Musk is going to steal everyone's money. And good luck to him.

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Small correction for you El Reg

"Today's launch has been scrubbed due to a Helium leak on Falcon 9's first stage. A fix will be implemented by the next launch opportunity on Friday April 18, though weather on that date isn't ideal," the company spokesman said, in a squeaky voice.

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Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS

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Re: What everyone needs is a £280 Nexus 5

Half the Nexus price will get you a Nokia Lumia 620 (or is it 625?). Which is a better phone address book and calendar, but much worse mobile computer. Or someone above says they paid £99 for a Moto G.

I've currently got a work iPhone 5. Free is obviously best - but when I pay for a smartphone myself, the limit is about £250. There's some really good stuff at about £100-£150, but it may well be worth springing for the latest Nexus. Except I want an SD card, so I can replace my ageing 120GB iPod.

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Re: This might make Samsung very happy

Oh no. Don't forget that phones are apparently free!

For example, in the UK market I think you get a 'free' latest iPhone or Galaxy S5 on about £40 per month. Over a 2 year contract I guess that would mean only an extra £5 per month. I'm sure we can just call that inflation, and no-one will notice...

So as you say it's probably not a big enough difference that it'll drive everyone to say "sod that! The top-of-the-range Androids are just as good, I'm going to save myself £120" I suspect many people will think that a fiver is worth it to keep their beloved iPhone. And in fact there won't be a difference, as Sammy can put up it's prices to match - or equally likely (as they've already set their prices) the phone companies can just put their prices up and pocket some extra profit.

I do find top-end smartphone prices amazing. You can get an iPad for £400, why should a phone with a quarter the expensive battery and screen cost more? The difference in Samsung's prices is even higher.

A few years back it made sense to pay top-dollar. The top-end phones were far superior to what you could get for even £250. But nowadays you can have a Nokia Lumia 620 for £130! It's not good enough if you need apps (which I don't), but it's an extremely good phone with calendar/diary/email and sat-nav. Or just over £200 for a Nexus or Moto G. Now the top-end phones are stupidly over-priced.

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Want a free Bosch steam iron? You'll have to TALK TO THE DEAD

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Re: Well.....

If one is stuggling to understand the impenetrable accent of a person from Scotland's second city, does one use a Weegie board?

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Commonwealth Bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL

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Re: Foot, meet bullet

Or like Starbucks announcing that there are absolutely no rat-droppings in their coffee...

Starbucks serve coffee?!?!

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Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'

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Re: They're welcome to it.

Yeah, but helium 3 makes awesome party balloons...

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Innovation creates instability, you say? BLASPHEMY, you SCUM

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Re: Meretricious marketing mumbling

You get that in the buidling services industry too. So maybe it's more commonplace. If I talk to a potential new customer, and then wander off to their website for a quick looksee, it's often a huge struggle. If it's a small contractor, then it's easier. The bigger contractors are often hard to distinguish from the consulting engineers.

However, if after 5 minutes of searching for information I still have no bloody idea what the company does - then it's probably a multi-disciplinary architectural/engineering practice specialising in people-centric spaces, environmental harmony and a co-operative, synergistic approach to design lifecycle management...

The whalesong in my head usually drowns out the voices telling me to burn their building down for the good of humanity...

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I spoke to an Irish guy on the phone this morning. I'd not managed to even start to focus on his name at the beginning of the call, before he'd gone on to give me his company, the quote number and 3 questions about the product codes. That was the first second of the conversation over in a blur of incomprehensible speed.

After about a minute, I'd managed to figuretively jump on him, wrestle him to the ground and wring a few words out of him. And conversation could begin. I found that the trick was to keep asking questions. He seemed to have an accelaration period, so the first ten words were audible. After which, he'd approached sufficiently closely to the speed of light for him to be inaudible in my time-packet.

I'm pretty good at accents. I was the only one of my friends who could understand Pat the glaswegian welder. Until he got excited or drunk, when only dogs could hear him.

I'd expect to get 98% of a high-strength SW Irish accent at normal speed. But like the tortoise who got mugged by 4 snails, it all just happened too fast...

I'm a bit of an accent mongrel myself. My parents are South London, moved to a South East market town, so add a bit of twang (burr?) of the old, dying, county accent and a large dose of posh, picked up from grammar school in the posher town-next-door. So it all tends to be a bit variable.

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Smartwatch sales off to a very slow start

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My 2 pence worth

Battery: I don't this as that bad a problem. I usually wear my watch in bed, but I think most people take theirs off at night. So I don't see why it would be a problem, with a nice stand - and I'm sure I would get used to charging it overnight in a very short time. So it needs a battery that can stand a long weekend without you needing to take your charger with you. And I guess, intelligent software that turns it into a watch (disabling the smart features), that'll last for a couple of days on the remaining 10% of battery.

Hugeness: They all seem to be bleedin' enormous. Then again, some people will strap a Rolex the size of a dinner plate to their wrist.

Hideousness: Fugly is the word, I believe. I find a lot of the Rolexes and Omegas of this world pretty hideous as well - but in an over-the-top-blingtasic sort of a way. Most of the smartwatches look really plasticky and nasty, which added to their enormous hugeousity makes them very noticeable. I once saw a mock-up of one of the supposed watches. You know the usual fake new iPhone from Digitimes sort of thing. Anyway, it was a huge aluminium bracelet with screen on. It looked so much better than anything I've yet seen. If you've got to be huge, you may as well make a feature of it.

Function: I guess this is the same problem of hugeness and re-charging. The battery tech isn't yet up to the job. The compromises of battery and screen size seem to make it a fun toy only. I guess it's useful to some people to do a bit of inbox sorting while on a crowded train. But really, if you've got the space to operate your watch with the other hand, you've got theh space to hold your phone and do it. Therefore I really can't see the smartwatch moving out of the realm of useful geek toy. Then again, I was an enthusiastic early iPad buyer, who thought they'd never take off as a mass market thing either - as I noticed no increase in interest between my iPad and my previous tablet PC. People liked both, but didn't see the point for themselves. Now loads of people have tablets. So what do I know?

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Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE

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Re: I've got my own research project

I'm not panda-ing to anyone, just because they want an easy ride...

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Re: I've got my own research project

Evil Auditor,

Cheating? Well maybe. But as Simon Harris has so handily volunteered, it would be a shame to waste his offer.

We'll sit him down in front of that 70s classic movie Volerball. Have a ferret through his trousers, and then start things off nice and weaselly. Moving up through the sizes, and see how much he can bear.

[I think I'm missing I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue...]

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I've got my own research project

This inspires me. I'm going to do my own research project, on the variance in pain of various animal bites. So I'm thinking of testing the pain levels from the following:

Badgers on nadgers

Dogs on bollocks

Squirrels on nuts

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TripAdvisor for the disabled: Euan's Guide quietly launches

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Re: I hope this really takes off

Many people just don't think. It just doesn't occur to them to do the obvious stuff. Rather like offering vegetarians chicken because 'well veggies really eat chicken don't they?'

So they forget the one tiny step in the middle of the lobby which makes it completely wheelchair inaccessible even though the rest of it's flat and there's a lift. Or the flat I looked at when I was househunting, which had an extra wide corridor and doors plus waist high light switches. It wasted loads of useable space. And what made it excellent was the flat is on the fourth floor of a building with no lift! I guess it's perfect for the new Daleks that can fly...

My problem is all the cafes and restaurants who will insist on sticking their menus on a board behind the bar or 10 feet up - whereas if they just stuck it on the wall to the side, almost everyone could read it. Or the fuckwits in supermarkets who put price labels in 12 point type at ankle height. What am I supposed to do, lie on the bloody floor? Many shops actually use eight point type for their product labels on the shelf edge. Are they short of ink or something? Surely none of this is rocket science?

In the end it's relatively easy for me. A phone camera with zoom, reading glasses and a monocular solve most problems. Although it's frustrating because so much of could be solved so cheaply. Dealing with people with mobility problems is more expensive but should also be more obvious.

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EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app

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Re: Does anyone know a good Mobile phone Providor

O2 dropped half my calls, even when I had full signal. I guess that was network capacity issues, like with their over-sold 3G.

Vodafone were OK, other than "forgetting" one month that we had a 3GB broadband allowance between 3 of our 7 company phones, and so charging us £2,300 instead of the usual £280. They fixed it, then buggered it up the next month. But only charged us £680 that time... Then couldn't work out what to bill us, and ended up giving us a random refund - which probably left us £50 up. ish... Network was less good than I expected, but OK.

EE have also buggered up our billing, and seem to have surprising holes in their network too. And I still get a bit of the full signal but nothing, then suddenly 3 missed calls thing.

3 have never given me any problems. But then I only use them 3 or 4 times a year on a PAYG MiFi.

Sorry I can't be more helpful. Orange, before the France Telecom takeover, were the dog's bollocks. the badger's nadgers? But were never the same afterwards, and I don't see that EE has improved things. Sad.

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Re: PR ftw

Translation:

Don't complain if we're defrauding you. Simply move to a different billing package, which will steal your money in a different way...

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Re: I love this standard response...

This reminds me of an email bug I had with BT over ten years ago. It was a strange incompatibility between 2 of their own servers, where you'd get up to a one week delay on mail deliveries between BT Connect and BT Internet. They were the business and domestic email systems respectively.

I remember the trouble I had getting through the script readers of 1st line support. But I managed it one day. This was when they still had UK call centres, I doubt I'd get anywhere now they've outsourced to India.

Because I had a decent bunch of emails from several different Connect users, and it was happening all the time - I managed to talk to one guy who recognised it was a problem. 2nd line support quickly sent me through to a nice chap who was an outside consultant, and clearly had been working on this problem for a while. Even though normal support didn't know about it, and it wasn't mentioned on their service support pages. 2nd line support actually opened a ticket for me, so I got some updates. They then fixed the problem. But it re-occurred after a couple more months, and I didn't succeed in getting past 1st line support again - and they said there was no ticket. So I set up a domain and swore off BT's horrible email - which they then outsourced to Yahoo.

I guess that's the way to run a bug-free system. Don't let any bugger open a ticket.

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This reminds me of the mighty WAP.

The one downside of my favourite phone ever, the Motorola RAZR V3i (replacing my original RAZR after a few years) was that it had a hard-wired WAP button. Had a nice etched globe on it, to suggest that WAP would connect you to the world. Rather than the handful of slow, rancid, unloved sites that it actually gave you access to...

Anyway on my Orange version of the phone, this button was hardwired, and impossible to disable. And they'd cunningly placed it right next to the red end-call button, which was also the return to home menu button, and the on/off switch. When you pressed it, it auto-connected to Orange's WAP portal, and cost you about 2p.

I presume someone got something out of WAP. The couple of times I used it, I never succeeded in downloading any page with the info on it that I was actually looking for.

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Napster cofounder's Jerk.com accused of acting like ... err ... jerks

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Facepalm

Nice security from Facebook there! Oh sure, anyone from a remote location can download 77 million records from our database - including private data. Can't see anything going wrong with that...

Still at least one person can't clear their 'jerk' status however much they pay. Mr John Fanning is the Jerk CEO who's just been hauled before the WTC beak. I like that sentence becasue it's correct in both its meanings. Although his company should really be called Fuckwit to be a more accurate description...

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Wookiee! CHEWIE'S BACK in Star Wars Ep VII – blab Hollywood 'sources'

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Re: Just to be on the safe side...

So that's the secret plan is it? Now I understand. In a series reboot Abrams is going to merge the Trek and Wars universes, and take them into a new parallel universe so that he can use the original characters.

In the pllot of this new film Cmdr Data will destroy the Death Star by reversing the neutron flux of the tachyon beam - thus setting up a resonance in the Death Star's dilithium crystals, causing it to explode. Meanwhile Luke will be busy saving the Star Destroyer Enterprise by battling the hordes of tribbles, with only his lightsabre. Lt Uhuru will be getting jiggy with Han Solo (who shoots first).

Darth Spock has been turned by the Emperor, but is saved from his final doom as the Emperor is unable to close the helmet over his ears - so Spock is forced to go to the space burns unit instead for his injuries. After being returned to the planet Vulcan for counselling he becomes a wookie hair-stylist, thus making the wookies considerably less grumpy as a race, and reducing the number of smuggler-pilots in the galaxy.

This creates an opening for Kirk, who therefore wins the contract to fly for Princess Leia - and lay 'er he does...

[that's enough - Ed]

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Re: Is the film going to be sponsored by Samsung?

Well the Phantom Morass was all about a tax dispute. So this latest one can be about a patent lawsuit. And go on-and-on-and-on-and-on...

Darth Jobs: Release your artistic side! For art leads to minimalism - and minimalism leads to the fruity side of the force!

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Devil

Is that Meerkat named after El Reg's Google-baiting, scourge-of-Metro journalist who likes Windows Phone?

Thinking about it, no-one's ever seen them both at the same time. Enquiring minds would like to know...

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I think you'll find that the familiar face in question is Alexandr Orlov. Yes, this episode is going to be subtitled 'Meerkats in Spaaaaaace!'. Will have great success with meerkat toys! Simples!

Is making memory of Jar Jar much more popular.

Remember, you heard it here first.

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Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT

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Re: Sounds a lot like those...there is an outside chance you could use a self checkout

I think one of the early problems was the supermarkets' databases (rather than the machines). Having worked for a large retailer I know that the buying teams didn't enter all the information from the suppliers into the product database. They only put in the stuff we used at the time.

So when EU regulations on packaging disposal and recycling came in, we had no data - and I rather suspect just made the figures up. Then paid a company to 'off-set' our recycling target.

In the same way, I'd imagine their databases were inaccurate on product weight. Which is why you heard so many bellowed "unexpected item in bagging area". They probably had the net weight, rather than the weight including packaging. Or just mistypes / missing data. I'm pretty sure I remember one particular product I buy regularly, that never worked. So it's a better explanation than different machines, on different days not liking it.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Once again...

That's OK. We'll rename it to noughts and kisses.

[sadly we don't appear to have a vomit icon]

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Re: sigh

So the conclusion is that if you frustrate people, they become unfriendly

Well it's as good an explanation of the player-culture in EVE Online as I can think of...

Anyone want to invest in my Bitcoin ISK banking system?

Actually I suppose it's not. Because one of the nicest things about EVE was cooperating with a group to overcome the difficulties of the game. The universe can be a cruel place.

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Apple to protect your gently roasting rear with 'iTanning' system

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I predict that this sensor will be very useful, and will tell us exactly when the iWatch is due to be released. When it stops receiving all UV data, because hell has frozen over, then-and-only-then will Apple sell a watch.

I suspect they'll be selling a 32K, curved, OLEP, 3d, 100" diamond-encrusted telly first...

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Reg slips claws across Nokia's sexy sixties handsets, fondles flagship too

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Re: A question

t just worked so I didn't investigate whether it back ground installed Zune.

Nelbert Noggins,

Nah. I think MS Killed Zune with Win Pho 8. It may even have been as early as 7.5. The Zune player and Sync software looked like something that had been coded in Flash by a monkey with a really bad hangover, and a hatred of users.

They junked it, and just pinged files across with USB - as they should have done originally.

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Re: A question

Andrew,

Thanks. I guess I'll have to wander into a shop and have a play with one soon. I don't give my poor iPod long to live. And you don't get much onto an 8GB iPhone.

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A question

Andrew O,

Have Microsoft sorted out the music player yet? I seem to remember you mentioned it in your brief reveiw of the new update to Win Phone - but didn't say much. It was pretty crap in Win Pho 7.5 - and you had to use Zune for PC sync (the software that makes iTunes look like a work of genius).

My iPod w hard disk is dying. After a good innings. And I'm looking at replacement. The idea of a cheap phone (non-work one), that can take an SD card is pretty tempting.

I don't think there's any music players of the same capacity that are cheaper. The phone can then do my 30GB of music and many podcasts. Assuming it doesn't have fits at the number of files on the card every time it reads it.

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I had a Nokia 710 (Win Pho 7.5) before the work iPhone. Brilliant phone for the £130. Actually better at handling different emails and contacts for personal and work - and easier to use as a phone. Big buttons and big writing hooray! The MS Marketplace was truly rubbish. I'm told it's better now, but not sure how much.

I was talking to my brother about this last night, and we agreed that both of us do all our mobile computing stuff on an iPad - and barely use any apps at all on the iPhone. Except he's a heavy Googlemaps user, and so will be heading for Android next. Has Nokia improved the public transport stuff on HERE maps? When I tried it 2 years ago, it didn't even have full information on London, let alone anything for my large town in the South East. My brother swears by Google Maps for all his mapping and public transport needs - although he does live in London.

I'm tempted to go back to Win Phone, and may get an Android tablet next (I want a stylus). He won't be parted from his iPad, but thinks the iPhone is a waste of money compared with a Nexus one. In my opinion Apple, and to a lesser extent Google, have somewhat lost sight of the core business of a phone, i.e. making calls and the addressbook. With calendar and email a close second, browser and satnav third and everything else afterwards. But then I work on the phone all the time, I know lots of others don't.

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Not your father's spam: Trojan slingers attach badness to attachment WITHIN attachment

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Re: Don't expect software to save you

I regularly get zipped files emailed to me. It's common in the construction industry, where tender documents can get pretty huge.

Although I've noticed lots of links to Dropbox going round in the last 6 monnths, so maybe the zips aren't getting through corporate mail scanners anymore.

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Bendy or barmy: Why your next TV will be curved

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Re: Ideal for people on their own

That's OK though. Many people won't notice. A friend of mine has invested a decent amount of cash ina nice sound system. I guess the biggest goodness comes from some nice speakers. But he goes to some effort to buy media that has surround sound. However, due to the shape of his room, the focus of the sound is on the middle seat of the sofa, and he always sits in one armchair by the telly.

Even though he's fully awre where the sweet spot is, that still doesn't override sitting in the most comfy chair. And he's one of the few people I know who will sit down and just listen to some music, while not doing anythine else at the same time.

I really think that many of these technology companies massively overestimate most consumers' level of giving-a-damn about the shiny features. Even the ones who actually understand the technical aspects will sacrifice perfection for more comfort, convenience or lower price.

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WTF?

Michael Zoeller, Samsung’s European sales and marketing topper, made it clear that his brand was on a mission to change the shape of television. Having made design as important to buyers as image quality, he was confident that the time was right to make 4K UHD synonymous with curves. “There’s a lot of research out there that says the human eye is naturally drawn to strong curves,” he argued. “Our curved TVs aren’t just beautiful, they’re works of art!”

Excuse me? What did you say? I can't hear you over the sound of whalesong!

By the way old chap, you're wrong. People buy the flat panels for the nice picture - and possibly to go on the wall. The design really doesn't come into it. It's the price. I'll admit for 2 screens at the same price, people might pick on the thinner one, or one with the smallest bezel. And go for that above picture quality too!

But that should actually scare you, Dear Marketroid. Because if people are picking tellies on prettiness of surrounding plastic bits, rather than quality of screen, then you are absolutely fucked if you're hoping they're all going to rush to upgrade to 4k.

I've seen people quite happily watch in some horrible combination of settings where the TV is displaying some weird zoomed out semi-widescreen with bars on top, bottom and sides - while the original widescreen broadcast has first been compressed into 4:3 by the Sky box. So the picture covers only half the screen - and is hideously distorted via converstion through 3 different ratios. They hadn't even noticed until I pointed it out. Personally, I found it was un-watchable. Apparently I was wrong...

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Surely the answer is a doughnut-shaped screen, completely encircling your head - plus a swivel chair. 360° viewing nirvana.

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Nominet bins Optical Express' appeal against 'It ruined my life' website

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Re: remaining calm

trouble was that required having a hypodermic needle shoved through the pupil of the bad eye.

[wince, squirm, wince]

Nasty. I didn't get as far as you. Only a suspected detached retina, so only got as far as the eyeball pressure test. Where you have to sit, with you head in a metal cradle, while a manically laughing doctor pushes a metal probe into your eyeball to test the pressure. You can see it coming all the way, and you have to remain still, and not flinch.

I may be mis-remembering the bit with the manic laughter...

Back in the 70s I had soft lenses. The hard ones were less nice back then. Imagine blinking and feeling the hard edges digging into your eyes. Hence soft. Which used a cleaner with mercury in. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Turns out it's quite painful when you've not used enough rinse solution to get the toxic cleaning agents off the lenses - and are putting mercury directly into your eyes. I can't wear lenses any more - not that I have any inclination to try...

However I was talking to my Aunt the other day. Who's just had cataract surgery. And she's had a lens replacement, so apparently will no longer need the glasses she did before the cataract. I seem to remember it's an artificial lens, rather than an organ donation. I think the donor card only mentions cornea transplant?

I wonder what the relative risks of the two treatments are? Will lens replacement beat lasering eventually?

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Re: Trying to change the business...

I would imagine (speculate) that as part of getting an out of court settlement for whatever happened, she had to sign a non-disclosure clause. So no telling others how much pay-out to expect and no bad-mouthing the company from now on.

However, as they trade under 2 names, if they didn't happen to put both trading names on the legal agreement, then oops-a-daisy...

It seems to me they don't have to sneakily try and close the site down, if they don't like it. We have some of the toughest libel laws around. All they need do is to release the attack-lawyers.

Of course if theallegations happen to be true and they don't have a leg to stand on...

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Nothing's as SCARY as an overly aggressive SOFTWARE PIMP

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Re: Boring Read

Mr Dabbs,

I have to agree about Win95 - and don't understand the people who say how yummy it was. Distance in time dulling the pain? I had Win 3.1, which was quick on crap hardware, solid and almost never fell over, or did weird stuff to you.

By comparison Win 95 was like dancing on eggshells. It was good. Could be great, when it worked. But you always felt you were seconds from disaster. Lock-ups, crashes and doom. Plus you had to re-install it every so often, if you wanted to clean up the mess. It was Win95 that taught me to hit save, before I dared hit print.

My hatred for it may also have something to do with the time I came into work one Monday morning in about 99. IT had done an upgrade on all the PCs in the US mult-national I worked for. My trusty NT4 PC was still there, but when I booted it up I discovered that they'd 'upgraded' us all to Win 95! This made me sad.

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Deep desert XP-ocalypse averted as Reg man returns

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Re: Out of curiosity

It's to stop budgie-smugglers...

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'Hello, is that the space station? NASA here. Can you put us through to Moscow?'

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Re: Political Posturing

At least me and thousands of others will be alive in a Russian prison than dead in a defacto civil war, or stripped and tortured for shits and giggles by rednecks in uniforms.

Educate yourself about the Russian invasion of Chechenya before you make comments like this.

Russia virtually levelled Grozny, the capital city, in taking it / re-taking it. And Russian troops were consistently making money on the side by kinapping locals, and ransoming them back. Plus widespread rape to add to the fun.

Plus there was going to be a civil war in Iraq anyway, as soon as Sadam died or got toppled internally. A minority had been repressing a majority (plus several other minorities) for years - and this never lasts forever. As for Afghanistan, there was a civil war going on before the US invasion. One of the reasons the Taleban were briefly popular, is that it looked like they were less corrupt than anywone else, and they might actually win. Neither turned out to be true, which is why they were already in trouble before the US decided to help the Northern Alliance - and then put in troops in order to try and build a workable-ish stable-ish, democratic-ish government.

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Dark SITH LORD 'Darth Vader' joins battle to rule, er, Ukraine

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Re: Try seeing it from the Kremlin's point of view

Mike Smith,

As stated above, your arguments eem to be straying into the field of Russia can do what the hell it likes because it's a major power.

And the answer to that is, up to a point. We should certainly take account of Russia's legitimate national interests. However they don't get a free pass to do whatever the hell they like.

I'm no fan of international law. Because it's semi-fictional, has little democratic legitimacy, and doesn't have particularly effective mechanisms to make it work. However, it's what we've got. And it's a good basis for international behaviour.

Iraq gets to be legal, because Iraq was in breach of the ceasefire terms from when they were thrown out of Kuwait in 91. As well as many subsequent ones. Also they made it impossible for the weapons inspectors to find the weapons that it turns out weren't there - or verify whatever actually happened to them. That resolution only got through with weasel words - from memory it specified serious consequences rather than grave consequences (which is the normal legal term adopted by the UNSC for resolutions it backs up with military force). However it was clear what the US and UK meant by that resolution, so if France and Russia had really objected, they should have vetoed, not just watered down that word. So there was a perfectly arguable legal case, without a court to argue it in, Saddam was given nearly a year to negotiate - and the consequences of not doing so were made totally plain. Whatever you may think of the invasion it is totally different to what happened in Crimea, where Russia didn't attempt to negotiate, had no even vague legal justification, and not even a reasonable cause to resort to military force.

Even if I accepted that Russia has a legal right to use military force to retain the Sevastopol base (which it didn't), there had been no threat to it. Even when Russia cut off Ukraine's gas supplies in Winter, no threat was made to that base. U:kraine did threaten not to renew the lease in future, and that was one of the bits of leverage that got a new deal agreed.

Also, Putin has spent years lecturing everyone about non-interference in soveriegn states. That was their argument to continue to allow the Serbs to massacre the population of Kosovo, and to allow the Syrian government to continue the slaughter.

Had there been serious attacks on the Russian speaking population of Crimea, they would have had a legitimate reason to intervene. Even though it would be illegal without UN backing. As we did in Kosovo. Although I doubt there would have been a Security Council veto under those circumstances.

Basically it would cost Russia a load to build a new naval base. And that would be just their tough shit. If they're unable to negotiate to keep it.

One of the other massive problems this has created is that Russia specifically violated a treaty to respect the terriorial integrity of Ukraine. This is hugely important. As how do we negotiate with Russia now? There are plenty of other places that they might choose to invade, using the excuse of a Russian population left over from Soviet days. Including Eastern Ukraine (where they are currently massing forces). Do we allow this? We certainly can't trust them to keep their word. After all Putin said they weren't planning to invade the day before he did it.

We're treaty-bound to defend the Baltic states. We let them and Poland into NATO. We either need to dissolve NATO and admit we don't care, or signal to the Russian government that we're serious. Otherwise we could end up getting ourselves into a really stupid war. If NATO doesn't want to do the job, then I'd imagine that there's going to be an awful lot of nuclear scientists getting very busy in places like Ukraine and Poland.

I'm not a Putin apologist. Or a supporter of armed aggression. I'm just an ordinary bod who's prepared to make the effort to see both sides of the argument

There are no both sides of this argument. Russia's invasion and annexation of a neighbouring country is entirely illegitimate. Both legally and morally. It was pure, naked armed aggression. As the strategy worked, they've continued it, by mobilising troops on Ukraine's Eastern borders and threatening another invasion to peel off more of the Russian speaking bits. Where Russians are in a minority. This is proper 1930s style nationalist miltary aggression. Fortunately without the bits about master races and genocide. The question we need to known is what does Putin's regime want. And will the appetite grow with the eating? Do they have some limited objectives, which can be reasonably accommodated, or quietly ignored where realpolitik suggests it's better to give in? Or has getting away with the invasions of Georgia and Chechenya persuaded them that they can recreate some sort of Russian empire, like the good old days of the Soviet Union. Or do they really believe in all that crap about things being better in the good old Soviet days - and want to re-create it?

I remember reading a piece by Robert Service about 3-4 years ago. Where he compared 1930s Germany and Russia now. There's this feeling of the ex-KGB types running the place that they didn't lose the Cold War. That nasty Gorbachev betrayed them. He went all soft, and collapsed the USSR - even though they were superior to their Western counterparts. In Germany it was the stab in the back. The army didn't lose in France, so Versailles was somehow 'not fair'. Even though it was less harsh than what Germany imposed on France in 1870 - and what they were planning to impose on France in 1914. Instead there was this myth amongst the German nationalists that the socialists and jews on the home front lost the war for them.

I dimissed it at the time, as an old Cold Warrior who couldn't forget the past. And Putin as too rational to buy into all that rubbish, and the dangerous consequences it could lead to. Now I'm not so sure, and I'm a lot more worried. And Putin seems a lot less rational, predicable and measured in his actions than he did 5 years ago.

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Re: Try seeing it from the Kremlin's point of view

Sevastopol is Russia's outlet to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. It's a strategically important asset

Which Ukraine had not threatened. Also Russia has a Black Sea coast on the Caucasus side. I guess they probably wouldn't want it in Sochi, but I'm sure there's a bay on that coast somewhere that would do if needs must. Russia has plenty of other leverage with Ukraine to keep this base, and had it on at least ten years of lease agreed recently.

Ethnic Russians are the majority population in Crimea.

Indeed. Although in all previous votes (and recent opinion polls), they'd decided to throw their lot in with Ukraine. How did that suddenly turn into a 97% referendum vote the other way? Anything to do wtih the less than week-long election campaign, intimidation of opposition, troops and 'militia' on the streets and transparent ballot boxes I wonder?

In fact it's rather reminiscent of the vote to hold the referendum in the Crimean parliament, where at least some opposition MPs were thrown out and the place was surrounded by armed troops and/or 'militia'.

The internationally-recognised Ukrainian government, corrupt or not, has been ousted in an armed uprising.

Bollocks! The elected President ran away and went into hiding - after ordering troops to shoot at protesters. And got impreached by Parliament. Including by members of his own party - who hold a majority. That Parliament then replaced him and his government.

Whether that's all constitutional is not something I'm qualified to comment on. But that's as much of a legal process as you're likely to get, in a country in as messed-up as Ukraine. It's not ideal, and it leads to the idea that you can start storming government offices if you don't like the results of an election you lost. But Putin's on pretty dodgy ground himself if he wants to start talking about democratic legitimacy. He certainly used to have it, and I'm sure he'd have won the last election anyway, without the fraud that his supporters used to make sure.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of democratic legitimacy, um what about the current government in Crimea? In what way is surrounding the regional parliament with armed troops, installing a new government that don't have a majority, and imposing a referendum without a 'NO' option, with zero time to campaign, legitimate?

Furthermore, the West's in no position to bleat about flouting international law after what happened to Iraq.

Iraq was legal. Arguably so admittedly, but there is a legitimate legal argument to say that it was legal, and there's no court qualified to decide yay or nay in the final instance. Plus the UN did approve the occupation. There was also no annexation, and troops were withdrawn after a government was set up. Notice any difference of the Russian invasion of Crimea? There is not even an arguable case for Russia's annexation to be called legal. Of course there's also no court that can decide, only a political body (the UN Security Council), because international Law is basically semi-fictional. There are sort of some agreed norms, under most circumsntances though - and Russia just broke all of them. So yes, we have a right to lecture.

Kosovo was definitely illegal though. Which is another reason International Law is crap. The legal thing to do, in the face of Russia vetoing any intervention, was to let Serbia massacre a few more tens of thousands of people. Note though, that again no-one annexed Kosovo.

They should have realised Sevastopol's importance to Russia, known that Putin wouldn't let it go, and remembered what happened to Georgia.

Aha. So now the faux moral arguments and the everyone-esle-is-as-bad-too whattaboutery go by the wayside. And we admit the truth. Russia is a serial violator of international law and a threat to world peace. Now we're getting somewhere. Well they're a threat to world peace via their nukes, they don't have the conventional military capability for that, but are definitely capable of invading their neighbours. What with destroying Chechenya and massacreing thousands (look into what happened there before you comment on the casualties in Iraq by the way). But with Chechenya, Crimea and Georgia in the recent past and large ethnic Russian populations scattered about the place - Putin has plenty of excuses for further invasions. And a track record of already doing it.

So rather than the childish crap about how we need to look to the beam in our own eye before addressing the mote in Putin's we need to look at the reality facing us. Also ignoring all the crap about how the nasty mainstream media are being horrible about him. Because I've seen pretty balanced coverage in the Torygraph, Guardian and Beeb - including opinions that Vlad was right. So that's just a straw man, so far as I can tell. The question is can we work out Putin's motivation - and is he acting rationally? If not, we need to worry.

Merkel (up to now Germany has been pretty close to Russia diplomatically) said, after speaking to Putin on the phone last week, that he was "divorced from reality". Has power gone to his head? Has absolute power corrupted him absolutely? I don't think he's 'The New Hitler' [tm] - but I do find it disturbing how many people seem to be leaping to his defence - when his actions in Crimea are indefensible.

Note that at no time did Putin attempt to negotiate. He simply sent in the troops. That's a very bad sign indeed. And in my opinion makes the whole thing worse. No one denies that Russia has legitimate concerns and interests in Crimea. I'm certain this could have been settled by negotiation, even to the extent of Crimea rejoining Russia legally (though that would have been much harder).

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Crashed NORKS drones discovered by South Korea

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Devil

Re: Navigation Error

Perhaps the playmonaut simply heard Norks, and missed the rest of the sentence. Selective hearing and all that...

These kind of mistakes so often happen.

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Can you tell a man's intelligence simply by looking at him? Yes

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Narrow faces means they haven't eaten enough cake, that's all.

Which is a massive sign of lack of intelligence.

Therefore we have a paradox here. No sane and intelligent person would deny themselves cake. Therefore the study must be wrong. And needs to re-test with more people.

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Assange not running in new Australian election

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Re: Prohibiting eligible people running for election -- a banana republic tactic

He's not been convicted of anything overseas, as far as I'm aware. He's got a hacking conviction in Australia, from many years ago. But he's not been to court in the UK for skipping his bail, even though he's obviously guilty, as I seem to remember his guarantors have already lost their money.

Does that count as a crime, or is it contempt of court? Because contempt is a weird system - at least when administered by the court in question. Criminal contempt is another matter, brought as a normal case but by the Attorney General. As for Sweden, he's not even been charged yet, and can't be until they can arrest him.

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Devil

I think you meant:

..After all, he's been on their sofa so long, he's now almost a cushion...

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