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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3327 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport

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Re: Only an apology?

Modern plastic explosive is pretty damned stable. If they were playing around with detonators, that would be another matter entirely. But you can burn plastic explosive safely, and I believe some squaddies have even used it to boil their tea.

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Re: Department of devolving responsibility

Wasn't there a case in Japan a few years ago? Where they went even further. Instead of using identified test suitcases, they were inserting explosives into random peoples' cases. I presume this was between check-in and baggage security screening.

Apparently they didn't take note of which bags, so they could remove it afterwards. At least one bag evded the dogs, and some poor bloke got home with a very naughty suitcase. Imagine explaining that to US police on your return? "Oh no officers, I don't know how that got there. The only time the case left my sight was when I checked it in. Honest. Why don't you believe me? What's that elbow length rubber glove for?"

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Hacker publishes tech support phone scammer slammer

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Re: I'm getting stabbed...

It's very tempting though. We still get at least one call a week from these guys. I've got an old laptop handy, that I'm willing to risk. I could have it set up and ready to go. But in the end, it's probably too much hassle, when I can just tell them to bugger off. And you'll only get to hack some minion in a call centre.

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James Bond's metal-toothed nemesis Richard Kiel dies at 74

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Happy

Re: Funny or money

Ed Miliband?

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Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

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Re: Geneva Convention

James Micallef,

Cheers.

Luxembourg were very upset with the Cyprus 'bail-out'. As their financial services are 20x the size of the economy. Cyprus had several problems. The last government had argued too long, so the new one got bounced into a truly craptastic deal. Cyrpus was also a victim of the Greek bail-out. While everything was done to protect German and French banks in this deal, it appears Cyprus only got kind words and promises. And then bail-out fatigue had set in, and Cyprus was full of Russian money. So an easy target to make an example of, without risking the Euro. It was only an argument over something stupid like €8 billion, for which they basically deliberately decided to destroy the Cypriot economy to make a point. An absolutely fucking shameful disgrace of an outcome. At least Greece were mostly at fault for the mess their country was in before the bail-out...

I'd agree that Scotland's less at risk, as the rUK is more stable than Russia or Greece (two of Cyprus main trading partners). On the other hand, they'd have a separate currency, new government and institutions. That's a lot of uncertainty and instability. And being a petro-currency, when rUK no longer is, doesn't help either.

But I think the important point is the Scotland will probably have a stable economy, and do OK. It's just that they'll have to have a central bank of their own, to keep any major financial services sector. And that means their own currency. Not sharing/using sterling.

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Re: It will be business as usual.

Slx,

Italy has debt to GDP of 131% at the moment. It went up by 5-6%age points last year. Italy is in deflation this year, and back in recession.

Italy can't pay its national debt unless it leaves the Euro. Greece needs another (much smaller) bail-out, because the last one was basically designed to be politically acceptable, not to succeed. In a year or two's time those chickens will come home to roost. It nearly broke the Euro finding €230bn-odd to bail out Greece over 5 years. That's one year's bail-out for Italy.

France is also dropping into deflation, with debt-to-GDP at 95%. There's no money to bail out Italy. So it'll have to be massive QE. I'm not sure Germany will accept that, and it's hard to get to in small baby steps, like the other bail-outs have been (i.e. boiling the frog). So I'd say it's 50/50 whether the Euro survives in its current form, with either Italy or France voting to leave, or Germany doing likewise.

There also may be a banking crisis this autumn. The Eurozone is still heading into deflation, with nothing being done about it. There's a lot of distressed banks out there, and still nothing has been done to sort them out!! They're still all sitting on massive piles of assets marked up to old prices, not real ones. And the ECB stress test, to be published this month, had a worst case scenario of about 0.8% inflation. Inflation in Italy is -0.3%, and 0% in France! So this will be the 3rd botched stress test in a row. One of these two things may tear the Eurozone apart in a sudden crisis that can't bre reacted to fast enough.

There's a lot of delusional thinking going on in the Eurozone and the markets. It's too horrible if it fails, so it won't. If that psychological block once fractures, it's one emergency weekend meeting to launch QE and common bank bail-outs or goodbye Euro. And the German politicians have been lying to their electorate for too long about this to suddenly change that fast, in one big step.

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Re: Scotlands Last Chance

Did somebody discover massive gold reserves in the Cairngorms without telling us?

Nope. A rich vein of tinfoil though...

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Happy

Re: Thanks All

If you do vote yes, you wouldn't mind taking Boris Johnson as a sort of mascot would you? Only I think we need to get shot of him, before he starts getting delusions of grandeur.

I think Wee Eck should only be allowed to be head of state after he fights the Queen for it. My money's on Her Maj. She's got 80 years of repressed emotion, and anyone who's been married to Phillip for 60 years can deal with anything! Plus she's got a sword...

I agree it's mostly been a civilised discussion threat. Shame some of the voting's been a bit shonky though.

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Re: It will be business as usual.

James Micallef,

Only 2 EU states have Euro opt-outs. That's us and Denmark. And they were granted because otherwise we'd have vetoed the Maastricht treaty. It's now a condition of joining that you sign up to join the Euro. All the EU countries except those two, have promised to join. Although Sweden and the Czech republic may have their fingers crossed behind their backs.

All the EU states except us, Ireland and Rumania Bulgaria are in Schengen from memory. That may or may not be a condition of membership for Scotland. Depends on how awkward people are feeling. Some countries, like Spain and Belgium (with secessionist problems), may be very awkward indeed.

Also Scotland would lose its share of the UK rebate on EU funding. The UK will lose that eventually too, it's almost bound to happen. It's horribly unpopular, and there's no way Scotland will be allowed to get away with keeping it. And Spain would definitely veto Scottish entry if they don't continue to let the EU criminally mismanage their fisheries.

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Re: Banking Jobs

Lemon 67,

There'll be a compromise. It would be too stupid not to do it.

But there can be no currency union. It's not going to fly South of the border. We only just bailed out our own banks. If they're no longer our banks, then there's no way we'll be riskng doing it again. For the same reason the Scottish Nationalists have ruled out the Euro as an option (economic common sense and politics), sterling currency union is out. It's also incompatible with our EU membership and Scotland's.

The timing is wrong as well. The election is next year. That means the separation with Scotland will be a political issue with a capital P. I suspect there will be a bit of 'counter-nationalism' in the rUK - plus the usual hurt feelings / hurt pride you get in a divorce. I think people underestimate the 'the bastards have rejected us' vote.

The politicians will walk a difficult tightrope between sensible compromise with Scotland and outbidding each other on how tough they're going to be in negotiations.

I generalise terribly here. But if you're English it's not polite to be too nationalistic. So you carefully say "I'm British". And you're only rude about Scotland and Wales in a sporting context. Maybe we'll retain our stiff upper lip and phlegmatic attitude? Or maybe we'll weep angry tears of public rejection, shake our fists northwards and demand revenge? And cut the crotches out of all Scotland's suits, while posting all the naked photos on Facebook... I may be being facetious, but I do expect an unfavourable reaction in rUK, and especially England. And if Scotland reneges on its fair share of the debt, I expect that to be very vocal indeed, very unpleasant and demanding of punitive action.

A new Scottish currency and sensible compromise on the debt is the only solution I can see that works for both sides. Remember we lose Scottish exports, but we also export lots to Scotland. Which is the positive bit of that balance of payments equation that most people seem to ignore. We also import lots from Scotland, enough to have a much more material effect on the Scottish economy, I believe Scottish exports are about 40% to the rUK, and rUK to Scotland is only about 5% of exports. So the power in that relationship is lopsided.

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Re: Banking Jobs

h4rm0ny,

Sharing out the national debt by population or possibly by share of GDP. I think that only varies around the 9-10% mark. This seems to be the 'standard' way of doing things, in so much as there is any standard for these situations.

Salmond has talked about reneging on this debt. But the rUK would almost certainly veto EU membership and retaliate in the split of the UK's assets. Plus that would cause massive ill-feeling and result in a severe damage to confidence in the new Scottish government. They'll be trying to borrow to finance their current deficit, get investment for new oil developments and keep as large a chunk of the financial services business as possible. Be hard as a Scottish exporter to the rUK as well, and that is a large chunk of Scotland's economy.

However, I think a deal will be cut where Scotland don't pay their 'fair share' of the debt, in exchange for the rUK taking more of the joint assets. Say we keep all the foreign embassies for a couple of hundred million, We've got about 15 submarines, but is it really worth having only 1? Or even 1 and a half... That's another billion or two. This soon adds up.

We could also do an exchange rate deal. Say Scotland's currency falls against the pound by 10%, then we let them off 10% of the debt, but if it rises by 10%, then they have to pay 10% more. This would be a nice hedge against what oil price fluctuations would do to their economy, and share the risk more fairly.

I guess another option might be that they pay a reduced amount of the debt, in exchange for paying it all off in one year. They'd then have to arrange large government debts in a single year, but it would give the markets certainty about the exchange rate risk. And we could pay down some debt and cover our deficit for a year. This might be good, because Scotland is likely to keep a large financial services sector, and being in Scotland and regulated by Scotland they will virtually have to buy large chunks of Scotish government debt. If they're staying in that country it's the safest and most convertible asset to own. So there should be a demand for more government debt than the few billion the Scottish government will be borrowing.

Those are the options I can think of. There could be more. It's down to negotiation.

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Re: What’s in a name?

Slx,

I like your description of the UK/Ireland divorce. It reminds me when I was visiting Dublin Castle. Rather impressively the Governor-general seems to have stolen a 50' dining table on his way out the door. I bet the bugger nicked the cutlery too.

I was rather surprised that he didn't have it away with the throne, while he was at it.

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Re: Geneva Convention

We haven't actually ever had a truely floating currency. It was always either tied to Sterling or to a basket of EU currencies before being replaced with the Euro.

I honestly think a lot of the complications for Scotland are being completely over played.

Slx,

The world has changed since then. Most of the time that the currencies were linked was during a global exchange rate system (Bretton Woods). Although there was admittedly a huge global war in there too... But also foreign exchange markets weren't quite the red-blooded beasts that they are today.

Finally Ireland didn't have a large oil industry and a staggeringly huge financial services sector, which Scotland does. The oil introduces a lot of volatility into a currency. It's bounced the Pound around quite a lot since the late 70s, and that's an economy ten times the size of Scotlands for roughly the same amount of oil. Oil prices fluctuate so damned much. This year they've been as high as $140 a barrel (iirc), and there are predictions that they may drop as low as $80/b (at least temporarily). That kind of shift, over a couple of months could easily punt the Scottish currency 10-20% either way.

Remember that Scotland should be taking on some share of the UK debt. I suspect a deal where Scotland takes on less than the full 9-10% and gives up some of its claim on the shared assets in return. But this is difficult. It's unlikely they can raise this on the markets in one go, so they're going to be paying off government debt in a foreign currency. This is courting disaster if the currencies diverge sufficiently, and however well the Scottish manage their economy the one thing they cannot control is oil prices.

Sharing the pound is massively unpopular in the rest of the UK. See the Eurozone ongoing disaster for reasons. Also some hurt nationalist pride too I'm sure. Plus us Southern voters don't fancy underwriting Scotland's financial system (we're not very happy doing that for our own!) - and as the Euro has also shown, a single currency without a banking backstop is a huge fucking disaster area. That won't happen.

For the same reasons of both sentiment and practical economics, Scotland is unlikely to join the Euro in the immediate future.

Now we come to the other fly in the ointment. Financial services. The large debt in a foreign country is solvable. I'm sure the rUK can do a deal where if the Scottish currency plummets we forgive some of the debt. It'd be unpopular, but it's the only sane solution. Scottish financial services though, are 12x the size of their economy. In Cyprus it was only 7x, and the Eurozone decided to punish them for it. In the UK it's 5x. We nearly went bankrupt bailing that lot out. If the Euro collapses there's another financial storm coming. Scotland can only manage that properly with a central bank, and therefore a currency. And even then can't backstop a finance sector that large. Chances are that large chunks of it will move to London. That's a big hit to the Scottish economy, or a huge risk to the Scottish economy. Neither are nice choices. And that is going to be one of the biggest costs of nationhood.

If Scots believe in it that's great. Politically if they feel so different to the rest of the UK then they should leave. Even if it's just England. England dominates the Union by being over 80% of it. I'm not sure that's a soluable problem.

But there are costs. Huge ones. It won't be the paradise set out by the SNP. Scotland will almost certainly get a lot poorer, for at least a few years. Oil production is declining by 10% a year at the moment, and the financial services sector is currently huge in comparison the economy and will shrink quite rapidly. If it remains large it will distort Scottish politics (in a way it doesn't in a devolved assembly) and be a huge risk to the economy - but also give some nice benefits. But bits of it will probably always be asking for special favours or threatening to run off to London. Exports to rUK will be a large sector of the economy, and will probably fluctuate somewhat with exchange rates. And the relationship with the EU will probably be complicated and uncertain for 5-10 years. Plus I believe there'll be a massive Eurozone crisis in 2-3 years (Italian debt), which may lead to partial break-up.

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Re: You can't get thrown out of something you are not part of.

Jess,

Nope. Scotland is not part of the EU. Scotland is not a state. The EU treaties are between the UK and the various other member states.

Scottish people are citizens of the EU because all citizens of member states, are also EU citizens. If Scotland is no longer part of a member state, then it's no longer in the EU, and neither are its citizens.

Personally I'd say it makes sense for the rest of the EU to simply act as if Scotland can rejoin as soon as the divorce from the UK is finished. They'd probably lose the Euro, justice and Schengen opt-outs in the negotiation, but then become EU members on Independence Day. The rules don't allow this for various reasons, but then the rules didn't allow Euro bailouts until they were the only sensible thing to do. Then they did.

However, I'm not holding my breath waiting for common sense from the EU…

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Re: The REAL problem with Scottish independance

The UK situation will be unaffected. Unless for some bizarre reason the Scottish put an export duty on it.

Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!! The Scots can bring England to our knees at last! What will I do without my bottle glass of The Balvenie? Oh woe is me! I'd even go so far as to say, "Crivens!"

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Re: It will be business as usual.

It will be too costly for them to create their own currency, so their best bet is to attempt to join the Euro as soon as possible after independence.

I don't see why. Scotland has a decent sized economy with 5 million people. There are plenty of similar sized countries. It would cost money to set up a currency, but it's almost certainly the right thing to do. Because I don't think the rest of the UK will go for a currency union, and informally sharing the pound is a rubbish idea. As well as breaking EU accession rules.

I also don't think Scotland should join the Euro. So I think they should think Swedish. Sweden signed up to joining the Euro, after a referendum. Apparently most of their politicians are in favour, but 70% of the people are against, and it's gone down in at least one referendum. So Sweden by treaty has committed to join, but won't. That's a good position for Scotland to be in. I'd have thought it's quite hard to stop. Even if the accession treaty says they have to join in a set time, that can be fudged/ignored after the event. Depends on how tough the negotiations get.

Also in my opinion, the Euro will have partially collapsed within 3 years. So it won't matter. Italy is still in recession, and in deflation. Italy's debt to GDP is going up by over 5% per year, and it's already over 130%. Unless Italy can be got back to growth and at least a little positive inflation, they're going to need a huge bail-out in 2 or 3 years.

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Re: It will be business as usual.

I don't think Scotland will continue to use the pound. Without a formal currency union that was never an option, assuming Scotland also wishes to join (or remain in) the EU. They'll have to set up their own currency, as the Euro is also not an option. You can't join the EU without having your own central bank.

As for your comment on the EU, who knows? The logical thing to do is to keep Scotland as a member. A quick bit of negotiation on Schengen, the Euro and a few other queries later - and Scotland is a newly minted member. But I'm pretty sure that the logical thing is the last thing that actually will happen. So I'd imagine Scotland will have to leave and re-join - with some sort of associate member status to cover the mess in the short-term. With Scotland already complying with most things (being part of a member state), there should hopefully be a faster than normal acceession.

Your comment on it being an easy out for the rest of the UK is bizarre though, and irrelevant. If a nation decided to leave tomorrow, there's nothing the EU can do. But that's an unlikely scenario, so not worth worrying about.

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LOHAN enjoys some hot hardware-in-the-loop action

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Happy

Marvellous project

It's nice to see how complicated and convuluted things are getting. I can't imagine why though, it's not as if it's rocket science. Oh hang on...

On scrolling past your extensive list of sponsors 'n helpers logos, I'm afraid I tragically misread one. I therefore wish to apologise to 3T RPD Ltd for mis-reading their slogan as, "Building Success Lawyer by Lawyer".

This may upset them, unless they're patent trolls in their spare time, or they use ground up lawyers as part of their manufacturing process. In which case, please carry on.

Keep up the good work!

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Google swallows SMARTSPOON manufacturer Lift Labs

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Not only regulation. Small production runs as well.

Also in the UK, you're not selling to the customers, you're selling to the NHS or social services. Which means products don't improve as they should. As an example that's why Apple and Samsung destroyed the previous top mobile phone manufacturers, who'd forgotten who the customers were, and did everything to keep the networks happy.

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Devil

Re: Internet of toilets

Why does it tweet the water use, when it should be telling everyone the dump size? And possibly length...

Actually scrub that (if only I had some mind bleach), just why?

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This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...

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I like mobile email, sat-nav, train timetables. Most importantly I have 4,500 work contacts on my phone, and a separately managed personal contact list.

That's not possible on a dumbphone. So I have a smartphone. But no sneering, as I'd really like some sort of hybrid where I could have both.

In an ideal world, I'd have something like the Motorola RAZR 3, but with 4G access and the ability to be a WiFi hotspot. Or use Bluetooth. Then another device, probably a tablet in my case, which would do all the smart stuff and piggyback its connection off the phone. I could then choose the function to have with me at any time. Maybe the phone thingy could do a bit of email and sat-nav.

I'm unusual though, I carry a bag. Almost everywhere. It's often got 4 pairs of glasses in it, plus jewellers screwdriver (to fix them), other useful things and a tablet.

Hmm... I've just realised that makes me a mugger's delight. I rarely leave the house without over £2k worth of kit on my. £500 iPad, £500 reading glasses, £500 (work) iPhone, £200 ordinary glasses, £50 sunglasses (sometimes x2), £50 of tools (leatherman, screwdriver set, jewellers driver), £200 watch, £50 in the wallet, £200 iPod... Should I get a gun? Nah that'd be even more worth stealing. How about a bomb? Mugger turns up, reveal grenade, pull out pin, smile...

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It already is in the UK. Under the Data Protection Act, you're only allowed to collect data that's relevant to the service you're providing.

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Re: Poor model

What we need is the ability to install an app, run it, and grant or deny the permissions it requires individually, at the moment it requires them, with an option to remember the choice or not.

The fact that such a blindingly obvious and easily implemented improvement has not appeared yet tells me that the OS providers just don't want it.

That's pretty much what you get from Apple. I would complain slightly that when you download an app, you don't get a warning of everything it'll want in future, but you do get warned when it tries to access, contacts, photos or whatever.

And then a list of what apps have access to each area, and a simple slider to switch that permission off again.

The only thing they don't have is the ability to temporarily allow an app something for five minutes, and then expire it. Though you can do this manually. Also they don't have a way to deny an app network access, that's a given with everything.

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Re: Yes most apps want to many permissions

I've got the Arrivabus app on my iPhone, so I thought I'd check. It has access to location. iOS doesn't have an option for network - so I assume all apps have access to that. But it's stayed out of the photos, mic, contacts and camera.

I prefer the Apple security model. You can go to a specific list, and see which apps have access to your contacts say. None in my case, but Google are the only ones asking. And the first time they do anything, apps have to ask permission via an OS pop-up. Then, even if you've accepted (or say your nephew has before you could stop him), you just pop to that list and disallow.

I believe in Android you still check by going to the app's section of settings. Although my 'Droid knowledge is increasingly out-of-date.

I hope things improve. I really want a stylus on my next tablet, and Apple don't believe in them. So I think Android is going to be the one.

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Profitless Twitter: We're looking to raise $1.5... yes, billion

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Devil

What do you mean?

What do you mean we haven't managed to make money? We've sold shares. We're about to get lent $1 billion. We're making loadsamoney!

Oh sorry, you meant profits? Oh carry on then. I'm just off on the corporate jet to my other office in Tahiti. Let me know when you need some really vital PR Pwnage, and I'll be right back at ya...

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City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub

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Re: Have a pint on me!

What are you complaining about. Everybody likes long-pig.

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'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet

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Linux

Get the petition going now!

If the ESA don't put the lander where the beak should go, then I think we should pull out of the EU immediately. Space Ducks have rights too!

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TROUT and EELS in SINISTER PACT to RULE the oceans

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Happy

Re: ETA

Except the "Microsoft file copy dialog team" and "National Rail" cells, who keep pushing back the predicted time.

I was copying some files onto a friends' PC for him the other day. About 5GB. The dialogue popped up saying 20 mins. Fair enough, it's only USB. Then it suddenly changed to "time to copy: 3 days". Erk!

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Coat

Re: ETA

Ah yes, the most regular terrorists. Their bombs always go off when predicted.

...I think I'll join you in the cloakroom, and fetch my coat too... Although I must stop to praise El Reg for the Eel IRA.

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It's a pain in the ASCII, so what can be done to make patching easier?

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Re: My personal favourites

For Windows 8, it's 105 patches, before you're allowed to install Windows 8.1 from the Marketplace. Then a few more after that. Unusually it allows you to do them all in one go, without multiple reboots in between. This will inevitably crash the PC during the patching or reboot though, so best to do it in smaller batches.

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Mushroom

Re: As in all else, Orwell is correct.

I like Adobe's approach to patching. Yes we have an auto-updater. What that does is to pop a window up that says can I update. You click yes. Then it downloads an updater. You then have to find that, and click on it. That then downloads the actual software. Then a thing pops up trying to get you to miss a tickbox so it can add some crapware from McAfee. Then it FINALLY installs. Then it launches your browser to prove to you it's installed. Then it installs and runs the McAfee security scan you forgot to untick earlier. Heaven knows what that does next.

I love unobtrusive updates...

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Quit drooling, fanbois - haven't you SEEN what the iPhone 6 costs?

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This is what makes the tablet market interesting

Notice how the tablet market has eased off, but the smartphone market not so much? OK there's more than one reason for that. Many people in the developing world have gone phone, smartphone, and never detoured via PC or laptop. They won't be going into tablet, and continuing the growth. At least not for a long while.

Another reason is upgrade lifetime. You used to be forced to upgrade your PC when it stopped running anything you needed. But my iPad 3 can do almost anything that the iPad Air can do. Although the Air is lighter, and I want one. But discipline is so far holding. The upgrade from an original iPad was worth it for the better screen. I still see mine every-so-often in use by the person I sold it to for £50. So it would still have been working perfectly fine, had I kept it. The same seems to be true in Android land. The first generation of tablets were lacking in screen and power. Since the Android 4 ones, the rate of improvement stalled. So why not stick to what you've got?

Phones do get damaged more often. But otherwise the upgrades don't seem to be going so fast any more. I'd suspect a Samsung Galaxy 2 is not that much worse than a G4. Or are we up to 5 now? However, seeing as the upgrade is "free" after 2 years, why not stay on the same contract and take it?

The funny thing is, Samsung's tablets are almost half the price of its mobiles. And yet the most expensive bit is the screen, and the tablet one is 3 times the size of the phone one. Everything else is roughly the same parts, except the bigger battery. The iPad Air starts at £150 less than the iPhone. Even the one with the massively overpriced mobile chip is cheaper.

When there was no competition it still made some sense. But you can have a really nice Lumia for £250, or a still quite nice one for £120. Or a Motorola G. I wonder if Google will bother with another Nexus phone now?

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Re: @h4m0ny, re Capitalism

On US networks (T-Mo excepted, as they don't do subsidies), non-smartphone customers are subsidising customers who buy iPhones.

I shouldn't have thought so. The data tariffs in the US are very high compared with Europe. And dumbphone customers don't pay for data. Plus the iPhone probably won't be avaiable on the minimum cost data tariff, that comes with a Moto G. It'll be on the top-dollar, bells-and-whistles and your blood and your firstborn tarriff.

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Apple's Watch is basically electric perfume

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Re: Apple Watch ... a solution looking for a problem

Couldn't the same be said for the iPad? Many of us thought so.

No. The iPad did fulfill a need. One people didn't quite know they had. A desktop PC is stuck in one place. A laptop is awkward to use. A tablet is just right, so long as you don't have to type too much. And of course everyone was now using the internet to read online news, or watch online catchup TV. Smart TVs were horrible to use as well. Still are...

I knew the iPad would sell, although I didn't expect it to go quite so mainstream. I had an HP laptop with swivelly screen. So a heavy tablet, and burdened by Vista. Which was a bit slow and lumbering, but perfectly usable with a stylus. Fingers could navigate you to use the basic stuff, but there weren't any 12" capacitative screens around, so it was resistive too.

Nonetheless I loved that tablet. I could sit in a comfy chair and read El Reg. I could write emails with the stylus in that same comfy chair. Faster than any onscreen keyboard or voice activated doohickey I've used up to now.

Other people were fascinated with it too. Whenever people saw me with it, they'd want a go, and be very impressed. But it wasn't nice looking, or all that easy to use, and it was pretty heavy. You had to be pretty strong to use it one handed, without propping it up on something. The iPad was cheaper, and but for having proper file storage and a stylus, better in every other way.

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Re: Yes. Your point was?

DominoT,

There is a difference. The iPhone (even the original that didn't do very much) and the iPad were both nice. The Watch isn't. It's ugly. It's not a very good watch, and it doesn't seem to be pointing the way to a very good wrist computer either. They may as well have not bothered.

I don't think Steve Jobs would have made it, because I don't think the technology is available to make one that's worth it yet. Not that will sell in its millions at high profit anyway, and that's Apple's market.

Coming into a market that's maturing, but still imperfect due to technological limitations is what Apple did with the iPhone, iPod and iPad. They also integrated the things you did with your new iShiny into a suite of apps and services. Love 'em or hate 'em, Apple were bloody good at this. It's what makes me think they can get NFC payment to go mainstream, when no-one else has managed it.

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Intel's SECRET Xeons: tell us what you think Chipzilla's hiding

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Happy

Will they be doing one in strawberry flavour?

...Sorry, did I misunderstand the question again..

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Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US

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Why the regulatory problems?

Surely forced/agreed sales are a standard part of US monopolies regulation, as they are in the UK and Europe? You buy a comnpany that gives you a massive monopoly in one sector, as part of getting regulatory approval you agree to sell the bit that's causing the problem. Problem solved, takeover goes through. In the case of T-Mobile / Orange becoming EE, it was radio spectrum they had to sell, this isn't anything out of the ordinary.

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Apple's ONE LESS THING: the iPod Classic disappears

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Re: Perhaps

Obviously there will be some nerd along to explain how much better lossless MP3s sound through their iPod headphones

Lusty,

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

How shall I educate you, let me count the ways:

1. Perhaps you need to go to nerd-school for retraining. For surely it cannot be beyond your imagination that one doesn't have to use Apple headphones... Gasp! The shock! Not that it's that important, all headphones sound crap on the train, but I have a pair of semi-foldable £20 Sony things with closed backs to as not to annoy everyone else. But the other thing you can do with an iPod is plug it into a dock. Which is how I deal with kitchen podcast listening, while cooking.

2. You can't have lossless MP3s. But higher bitrate is better. Or at least better than lowest, and I couldn't be arsed to test all the way up the scale so went for 320-odd. Storage is cheap. That gives me about 25GB of music. About 200 CDs worth. But then there's another 5GB of comedy audiobook and drama CDs.

3. Podcasts are legal. I've never downloaded any music, legally or otherwise. It all comes on shiny plastic discs in order to be able to avoid having to be totally paranoid about backups.

4. Convenience. I like a big wodge of storage, so I can be lazy. I have the choice of all my music. In case I'm in the mood for something different. But I have a wide range of podcasts on the thing. And I like to have all the ones I've not listened to yet. They get deleted when its synched with the PC every week, so I can downoad more. Alistaire Cooke's 'Letter from America'. Thanks BBC, I remember that from years ago, I wonder what it's like. Download all 900-odd episodes you've released? Oh, OK. Turns out it was interesting, as a historical picture of the US from the 50s onwards. Sure I could manage it properly, micromanage each week the couple I was listening to off my PC and onto the iPod, but why? Also some BBC comedy, a few shows I like. Mike Duncan's excellent 'History of Rome' podcast. First episode's a bit dodgy, but it's great after that. And there are hundreds of them. Why muck about playing with storage? Shove it all on, listen through it over a year or two.

I find I like Radio 4's 'More or Less'. OK podcast it. But hang on, there's 4 years of back issues. Oh well, download the lot. Turns out it was interesting. Sure I could think about manging all this, or I could just tell a program on my PC to download everything that looks vaguely interesting, then bung it on a portable device and away we go. That came to about 40GB of podcasts.

Perhaps when the iPod dies I'll see if Neil Young's Pono thingy is any good. I like bright yellow, and I like Toblerone. Or my smartphone battery and storage shennanigans will have improved sufficiently to allow it to take over.

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Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch

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Happy

How about floggle-toggle?

Left hand down a bit!

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Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT

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Re: iBonk surely

Does this mean that when they produce the inevitable sports sensors built into a pair of pants, they won't go for iFronts, but for AppleCheeks?

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I've been a solid fan of smaller phones, and thought some of the monsters were getting ridiculous. Even though i'm one of the same people, who realises that other people's technology needs can differ from my own. My favourite smartphone case design was the HTC Desire and Wildfire.

But then I persuaded a friend to get a Galaxy Note 2. A stylus happened to suit him as a professional designer. The combination of hugeness but thinness is absolutely amazing. I've been jealous ever since, particularly whenever I try to look something up online on the iPhone.

However I can see very little justification for spending much over £200 on a phone, given the great stuff you can get for that money. Next time I'm in the position that the company isn't picking up the bill. So I'd probably still take smaller over pricier. But then I'm barely ever parted from my tablet. When this iPad dies, I really want something with a stylus.

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Ferraris, Zondas and ... er, a bike with a 500hp V10 under the saddle

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Re: Owning a Supercar...maybe 'seemed a good idea at the time'?

Totally the wrong kind of mindset for supercar ownership.

Yup. I remember seeing a little piece on TV. Can't remember what program it was, not something earth-shatteringly interesting. But they'd persuaded a chap who'd just bought a McLaren MPC-12-whatever to take their presenter out for a spin in it.

This turned out to be rather more literally than planned. It had snowed, but they went to some track or other, and were whizzing round doing laps, on the rather damp tarmac between plowed snowbanks. She was alternately going "wheeee" and "eek". Then he spun it, and stuffed it into a solid waist high snowbank at about 50. With a rather sad crunching noise.

The presenter was standing there looking like she was going to burst into tears, as they surveyed the sad wreckage of the front wing and bonnet. Commiserating about how terrible it was. And he just laughed and said that was what sportscars were for, and why you raced them on tracks. He was now a couple of mid-sized family cars poorer, but he'd got to play with his new toy for a bit, and such was life.

The ones who terrify me, as the guys who spend years lovingly restoring unique 1930s classics and racing cars. Spending hours, and thousands, sourcing parts, or getting new ones hand-made. Then taking them off to the track and racing them, often in the rain, at full pelt and competitively. And what they'll probably say, as they're interviewed over the smoking wreckage of their pride-and-joy is "that's racing". Then go back and do it all again. Loonies.

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Re: Alan Coren

Stephen Fry came out with it on 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue'. No idea if he came up with it, or just recycled it though.

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Hawking: Higgs boson in a BIG particle punisher could DESTROY UNIVERSE

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Coat

Yeah, you want to watch out for the marmalade virus, it's got a 100% mortality rate. If you get it, you're toast.

The other problem with it, is how easily it spreads.

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Alien Ninja Fembot Pirates vs the Jedi SAS Chuck Norris startroopers: RUMBLE

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Zombies couldn't even beat my 7 year-old nephew

Or so I discovered on Thursday night, when I was asked to babysit. He had requested his Uncle iPad I ain't Spartacus, for no ulterior motives whatsoever. Oh no.

He then requested a bedtime story in which he defeated zombies with a chainsaw. Oh dear, oh dear, youth of today, I blame the parents etc. Not wishing to discuss blood-soaked hacked off limbs flying through the air, just before turning the lights out, the conversation moved on to how zombies go to the toilet. A question that still intrigues me now, as if they eat brains then surely they've got to go... Whether dead, alive or undead, what goes up must come down.

Anyway, it turns out a 7 year-old can defeat these moaning shufflers in time for tea and medals. I'm hoping he's a good deal older before I get asked about Aliens or Kate Beckinsale in tight, wet leather.

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Microsoft's SELFIE-TASTIC Nokia 830, 730: Complete with DOG SMILE WHITENER

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Re: They really need to change

The UI is the best bit about it. As a phone. Big writing, for those of us caught on the street without our reading glasses. Big buttons for same. Shame the live tiles thing still doesn't seem to work properly. Although I don't personally want anything other than notifications on those anyway.

Plus the People Hub which is better than anything Google or Apple have managed, but possibly only about as good as the new Blackberry.

The real problem is that it's still not fully polished and consistent when using the less-common bits of the OS. Also the lack of apps, which I understand is a lot better than when I used a Win Phone, but still not as good as iOS or Android.

When it comes to SatNav and using it as a phone, my old Lumia 710 is still much better than my work iPhone 5. As a mobile computer the iPhone is way better.

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Re: Losing the shutter button is a bad idea

Doesn't the volume button now control the shutter?

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Work in the tech industry? The Ukraine WAR is coming to YOU

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Re: Yup. had that in apartheid South Africa

you overlook, that _relative_ poverty, unlike in the West, does not turn the Russians against their government

For a bit. But Putin's whole schtick is that he's going to make the economy strong, and make Russia militarily/diplomatically strong again. Thumbing his nose at the West is good. That shows he's strong. Collapsing the economy shows he's incompetent. In the long term, I don't think he can survive that and remain popular. He can resort to massive repression to keep power, but that's not the same.

At the moment he's playing Bismarck. Nationalist, and not a democrat, but definitely not a dictator, and both democratically elected and popular. It's a role he's been very successful at. The democracy may be extremely ropey, but I think it's pretty clear he's the legitimate leader the people of Russia want.

It's a completely different kettle of fish when you have to start killing your opponents en masse. That's a huge hit to your own self-image, as well as that of your supporters. When you can no longer excuse the odd murdered journalist and arrested opponent as cracking down on hooliganism and protecting stability. Once you have snipers picking off demonstrators then you're turning into Assad. The Yanukovych government couldn't survive doing it. Could Putin's? He's got a lot more ex-KGB people on board. But they're the foreign intelligence types. The story the KGB sells is how they fought the Cold War but Gorbachev stabbed us in the back, and surrendered. But that KGB narrative rather neglects all the Russians that they arrested, tortured and killed. The story they tell themelves, and their public, is of being Cold Warriors. Good Russian spies fighting foreigner threats. It's a lot less fun and heroic being the murdering bastards who arrest and torture fellow Russians...

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Re: Sanctions @ I ain't Spartacus

These are all valid concerns you list. I don't have definitive answers to that, except that there is still and still will be a lot of support for Russia (if not for Putin) among the general Ukrainian population and when the economic hardships will start to bite - will even Western support for the current government keep it from falling?

"I still don't undersand what the plan was."

You are not alone. But I actually think there wasn't a plan.

The Crimea was probably an overreaction but who knows? By doing that, Russia may well have spared its 2 million or so population from the destruction that fell upon Donetsk and Lugansk.

Or started a civil war in Ukraine that otherwise might not have happened. Obviously there was going to be civil strife. Democracy is about the losers, not the winners. It only works when the losers of the election trust the winners to let them have a fair chance next time round - and not to completely destroy their interests in the meantime. And I guess one thing people had learned in Ukraine is that if you don't like the government, you can always try occupying some buildings, and see if you can get it to change.

I've seen other suggestions that Crimea was a kneejerk reaction. A political tantrum almost. I can understand that. It was done quickly. In diplomatic terms it worked. Washington and London already distrusted the Russian government, but with a bit of diplomatic nicety, I'm sure Italy, Germany and France could have been kept onboard. But through stupidity and thuggishness, Russia has suffered massive diplomatic loss of trust and prestige.

Taking the winnings of Crimea and quitting while you're ahead would have made sense. Going on into Eastern Ukraine didn't.

Remember that in Syria Western governments agonised about giving shoulder launched SAMs to the rebels, and didn't arm them in the end. Even though they were getting bombed. Because those might turn up in dangerous hands. And yet Russia was sending full SAM systems to the rebels. Even if MH17 wasn't shot down by the rebels (and it looks pretty certain they did) there's been evidence of several of these things crossing the border at various times. That was almost bound to go wrong. And was massively irresponsible.

There I also don't think that Putin expected Kiev to shell the cities, I think he was confident they will negotiate once Poroshenko got through the elections. I thought so myself actually, or hoped.

I guess he may have over-estimated the Ukrainian government. Given how dysfunctional their politics have been since the collaps of the Soviet Union, I can't imagine why. Particularly as it seems to have been Russian policy to keep them that way.

This one comes down to how much Russia supported the rebellion. Was Putin taken by surprise, and started helping it because he thought he had to? Or was it basically instigated by Russia? If the latter, then Putin and his team are idiots. If the former, then Russia is as tangled up in events as everyone else. And having played the nationalist card, it's then very hard to make the compromises required for peace. As China will find with all its maritime border disputes.

It's too easy to blame Russia for the whole rebellion. But I find it hard to believe it was spontaneous, because of how fast and successful it was at taking territory, and because so many of the leaders turned out to be Russians. Suppsedly retired, intelligence types. And there were reports at the time of people in uniform helping out, who then disappeared again. It's the Crimea play-book all over again.

Finally Angela Merkel said that she'd talked to Putin and he was disconnected from reality. It's probably what moved Germany from the ignore it and keep trading camp to the sanctions side.

In that scenario I can see no peace. And you can't blame the Ukrainian government for trying to quickly chuck the Russian invaders out, before the crisis spirals totally out of control. Even if that does mean shelling their own cities. Not that this is something Putin would stop at. The Russians totally destroyed Grozny. It's endless war on the border, where Russia doesn't want to let Ukraine win, but doesn't want to take over the destroyed territory and spend money to rebuild. Given the Russian government is about to be a lot poorer, due to sanctions.

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NATO nations 'will respond to a Cyber attack on one as though it were on all'

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Ledswinger,

I don't believe a cyber-attack could turn off our whole infrastructure. But I'm pretty sure it's possible to quite a lot of damage, with some forward planning. Mostly it's going to be annoyances. But if you can disrupt the economy for a week, that could be the difference between low growth for the year and recession. It's not the end of the world, but costing an opponents economy a few tens of billions for the outlay of a few tens of millions is something to be concerned about.

DDoS is inconvenient but seems to be posible (sometimes easy) to work around. Although some of them seem to have got bigger recently, but I'd imagine that'll just shut a few websites, then slow things down a bit for everyone. No big deal.

SCADA kit worries me. Security doesn't even seem to have been an issue with the design, and I'm not sure it's that high a priority now. it'd be interesting to know how much of this stuff is actually hooked up to the net. Hopefully not much. Damaging offline stuff with a long-term infection via the update process (as with Stuxnet), would seem to be less of an immediate threat. But if you can get live access to various national systems, there is a possibility you could do some serious damage.

If you can control pumping systems, you can cause pressure spikes, and break pipelines in multiple places. Water, oil, and sewage have momentum. By playing around with pumps and control valves, you should be able to get serious water-hammer (I assume with sewage it's called poo-hammer?). Do that repeatedly and you start breaking pipe joints. Hopefully these control systems are properly secured. I do wonder though.

Are the 999 systems all safe from attack? Even if you can't get at the emergency systems, I'm sure you could have some fun buggering up less important government big IT. These have so many people that access them, that I'm sure a determined hacker can get in and break things.

You can also do some major disruption to the economy by attacking large companies IT. Even more if you're willing to spend the time and effort on attacking small company IT. They won't have the resources to fix things, and many are probably running without backups. Bankrupt a few thousand smaller companies, and watch the recession happen.

Therefore the kind of people that we pay to worry on our behalf should be worrying about cyber-attacks, and how to deal with them.

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