* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3689 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Assange's WikiLeaks: Give generously this Xmas – for STATUE of our DEAR LEADER

I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: Courage?

Well the hardship can be appalling! It's a little known fact that the Vienna Convention bans all forms of chocolate in embassies, other than Ferrero Rocher. And that stuff is vile. So the poor lamb has gone ages without proper sustenance.

Incidentally the Times did an interview with the Russian ambassador a couple of years ago, and in the waiting room they have a big platter of the things. So either those adverts were based on truth, or have created a very lucractive stereotype, that certain members of the diplomatic commmunity feel they have to live up (down) to...

Either that, or the Russian ambassador has no taste, or a great sense of humour.

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Alleged Silk Road boss's lawyers want murder-for-hire evidence blocked from trial

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Re: It's ok, the jury will never knowq

The US don't have sub judice rules anyway. So this is always an issue. The job of a jury is to assess the evidence they're given in court, and only that evidence. And not to look up other stuff about it while they're doing so. You're supposed to bring your common sense to bear, but not specific knowledge relating to the case. Although those two can overlap a bit if you've got a juror with expertise in something that happens to be relevant (which can have good or bad consequences).

You're supposed to ignore stuff you aren't meant to know when making your decision. Which includes what you read about the case in the paper or online, or anything that gets said in court that the judge tells you to disregard. The only difference the internet makes is that it's easier for a juror to call up Google than it used to be to go to a newspaper library.

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I wonder why both cases aren't being tried together? That would seem the more logical way to do things, as both sets of charges are basically linked. Is it because one lot is state and the other federal?

From my two lots of jury service, I can say that I'd find it very odd to have to rule on one charge, with evidence of another but no idea how to weigh it. If you've got a previous conviction, then you know that this evidence has gone through its own jury trial, so you can rely on it. Admittedly once you've found someone guilty yourself, and they've gone off to prison, you are fully aware that the justice system isn't perfect by any means - and just how uncertain every decision must be. But to be given evidence of a related crime that you can't weigh fully, becuase you're not getting it all seems very odd. And if they are giving you all the evidence, then why aren't you finding on that case too?

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Oi, UK.gov. WHERE'S THE DETAIL on your Google Tax?

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Re: Stop taxing profits

LucreLout,

I totally agree that it's going to be impossible to raise all the tax that a government theoretically should be able to. They have set the target very low (so they're not unaware of this) It's just too complicated. I also agree that it's very hard to get the information you need to tax accurately, and companies can keep moving the goalposts (and the money) around. Finally I also agree that internationally coordinated action is far more likely to be effective at raising money, as well as being far more likely to do less harm than good.

But big corporations in the end do not set the terms of the debate. Governments do. In the extreme, if corporations make it impossible to get the information needed to tax them accurately, governments can just guess - and take any amount they want. Obviously that's liable to drive away business.

But Apples second largest market in the world is the UK. That gives the UK government a certain amount of leverage in the power-play against Apple. Should it choose to use it. I think the UK may only be third or fourth biggest for Google, but it's still many billions of profit a year. Even a few hundred million in taxes each year will not therefore drive them out of the market.

How powerful is public opionion? In the long term, quite a lot. Facebook could die in a matter of months if they truly piss the public off. They're a one-trick pony after all.

Google are becoming synonymous with tax-evasion and privacy-abuse. That's not good for the health of the brand. Look at Microsoft, they are dangerously close to becoming totally irrelevant in the personal computing market. Despite Windows Phone being rather good.

I said in my original post that it would be very hard to tax profit from global advertising (basically brand advertising from global companies). But anything that has a price in sterling, is from a UK only company, has a link to a UK sales site, or even a link to an internation sales organisation (but their UK arm), is going to be easy to track. And can therefore be taxed. If a company chooses to arse around with head-office charges, dodgy transfer pricing, franchise fees etc - then they can be tax audited to within an inch of their lives, and made to justify every single one of those charges, until it's cheaper to pay up. Or a law can be passed setting allowances for transfer pricing. Or a global company could be forced to provide a complete breakdown of their global books, down to every paperclip - and the Inland Revenue work out their liabilities and charge them for the privilage of getting say Ernst & Young to do the sums too. Governments can pass laws that say almost anything.

It's hard to know what this policy will lead to. It could just be a quick pre-election PR stunt. It could be the first part of a 20 year process (mostly involving inter-government negotiation), or something in between. And I'm sure that even if this is the first skirmish in a long war - it'll have a small effect. But it'll be interesting to watch it play out.

My point is that multi-national companies in recent years have taken unprecedented steps to avoid paying any tax. Instead of using loopholes and accounting to lower their bills - they seem to be aiming to have no bills. Part of that is the European single market rules being exploited in ways that weren't planned. I also suspect a good part of it is actually going to turn out to have been fraud (see the banking industry for examples). At one point Google were claiming all their advertising contracts were in Ireland, yet had a sales force based in England - I wonder how close to the wind they were sailing there?

I think it's partly cultural, and that may (or may not) change. In the 90s recession there was a medium sized non-retail bank got into trouble in London. Nobody knew about this until something like 2005, when the Bank of England admitted it. They've got everyone together, and hammered out a solution. That was possibly the last hurrah of the old boys network in the City. Culture changed, and that kind of cooperation went out the window. So when the inter-bank system broke down in 2007-2008, the players weren't able to get together and sort things out in an orderly manner. Everyone knew the shit on their books would have to come out eventually, but seemingly couldn't bring themselves to admit it, even in secret - amongst peers who were equally deep in the brown and smelly. That would have made the crisis a lot less painful, and was in their own best interests. But the culture of the industry no longer allowed it. Equally that culture has turned out to eb riddle with deception, fraud, stupidity, lack of risk control and short-termism. Re-building banking regulations is a huge task, and it'll probably be ten more years before governments finish constructing the system. Who knows how long it'll take for the industry's culture to change. But change is inevitable.

The question isn't why do you expect you can change things? Instead it's, why do you think things will stay the same in a system that's only been like this for a handful of years?

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Re: Stop taxing profits

ratfox,

You can make Google obliged to report any profits relating to the UK. They sell advertising both globally, and specific to the UK market. Now you might not be able to capture tax on the global stuff, but anything advertised specifically to UK customers is relatively easy to demonstrate.

There's huge room for fights here. There will never be a perfect tax system that doesn't over-burden companies with regulation or tax, or let them take the piss. But we're currently at the extreme piss-taking swing of the public policy spectrum, and so naturally (as these things do) there's a reaction against that. We'll probably start moving too far back the other way.

This is another facet of globalisation. It's had many positive benefits, but also some costs. Society reacts slowly to change, and so we're still only scratching the surface of what we need to do about it. But big companies are really taking the piss on tax, they know it, everyone else knows it. They're rubbing everyone's faces in it, and maybe their executives are stupid enough to think they can get away with it forever. But times have changed, public mood has changed, and governments in the West are in desperate need of more tax revenue. Like banking, the sector as a whole needs to start behaving more reasonably, and in a manner that is sustainable in terms of long-term public opinion. Or the chances are they'll get regulated to buggery.

Populism (of right and left) is on the march in politics. Especially in Europe. That's changed the political landscape. A lot of things that have pretty much been settled for the last few decades may change dramatically. Or not. Economics is changing too. China's rise is looking likely to slow, because you can't bankrupt your customers without eventually screwing yourself too. This is a lesson that huge trade-surplus economies like China and Germany are going to learn painfully over the next few years - along with certain multi-nationals who rely on mixed market Western economies for their survival but don't want to pay the taxes that make them work.

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NASA prods sleeping New Horizons spacecraft: Wakey, wakey, Pluto's calling

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Re: My Name is on the Data disk

By the time the alien overlords arrive, they will instruct the first humans they meet to play this media for them, so they can get the list of their first 500,000 egg incubation units.

And the person will say, "what is this shiny drinks coaster you are showing me, oh powerful alien overlord? I have not seen one of these before. All my data is on my iPhone 208. My wife's got an Google Nexus 150, if you'd like to wait until she gets back from work. Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!"

After this conversation (followed by killing) has been repeated a few tens of times, the aliens will give up on the CD Rom, sharpen the sides with their laser-knives, and use it as a ceremonial decapitiation frisbee, due to their massively powerful biceps build up from all the porn they're forced to watch waiting for their ship to travel between solar systems.

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Orion hacker sends stowaway into SPAAAAACE

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Happy

Re: Why the fuck ...

Go and listen to your Cure albums or something if you don't like it.

H4rm0ny,

I just mis-read that as go and listen to your Corrs albums. Wondered what the hell you were on about, went back and re-read it. And now I have the mental image of Morrissey singing light folk/pop with his more attractive sisters, while still managing to be very very depressed...

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Manchester festival marketers fined £70,000 over spam ‘mum’ texts

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Happy

Nah, it's an ex-girlfriend, Dee Aitchel...

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Rolling the ATTACK DICE in King of Tokyo

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Re: Ameritrash...

Ticket to Ride has a decent hidden score element, so you may be a long way behind but you don't realise it which helps.

I'd never considered that as a game design element. Rather than the hidden score to be to introduce some uncertainty, and to make it hard to gang up on the leader, it's actually there to fool the crap players into thinking they're not doing to badly, so they don't storm off in a huff...

I've quite enjoyed Ticket to Ride. But you can be a long way behind by mid-game, with almost no way to catch up. And that seems to be true of quite a lot of the Euro-Games I've played. A lot of them also seem to require almost obsessive amounts of counting in order to do well. If I'd wanted to be an accountant I could have been one. I'd also want to get paid for it...

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GOOGLE is COMING FOR YOUR CHILDREN

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Re: "One day, while showing my toddlers Thomas The Tank Engine on YouTube,"

Forget that. Copyright's not important here! Thomas is everything-ist.

There was an article in the Guardian about it a few months ago, apparently seriously intentioned. Although it's hard to tell when they're trolling their readers for clickbait - or if this was just a sophisticated parody that I was too stupid to spot.

Well obviously it's sizist. Fat Controller etc. And paternalistic, and far too upper class for the Gruan. But then the author started descending into madness. It's mysoginist, because the carriages are female, and apparently most of the engines are male. Well that might be more a fair point, but it's also racist. The diesel engines are mostly black you see, and they're -the baddies. Geddit?

It was amusing anyway. Judge for yourself

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BLAST-OFF! BOAT FREE launch at last. Orion heads for SPAAAAACE

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Not Orion. That's not designed for ferry work to the ISS. And I'm not sure they're due to fly it again until they've built the new rocket to go with it.

NASA are paying Boeing and SpaceX for manned deliveries to the ISS. SpaceX unveiled the Dragon 2 about 3 months ago. I don't know when they plan to test it though. They've got all sorts of stuff to get done before they can get a whole stack man-rated.

There's still a few years to go of relying on Soyuz. Currently only China and Russia have anything they're willing to fly people in.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Degrees

How many bushels of fuel was it carrying?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Great news

There is. NASA are testing the giant space trampoline next month.

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Pub time for NASA bods? Orion spacecraft test launch called off

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Re: From your photo...

Troll/idiot/joker, or maybe he or she has a different agenda to yours Spartacus?

I have no agenda, my anonymous friend. I can't imagine many people do, as all we're doing is posting on the forums of a reasonably obscure online IT publication. I suppose timewasting might count as an agenda...

Why are you so keen to rubbish them?

Why not? Why would I post something on this forum at all? I guess to add to the gaiety of nations. Or out of boredom or a work-avoidance-strategy.

If their opinion is utter garbage then either 'Downvote' or do what most people do and just ignore them. If you do that then maybe they'll go away.

See above. Why post on here at all? I guess it was for the amusement of my fellow commentards. Also out of interest, as I've never seen such an odd argument put before. I've seen all the shadows being wrong / wavey flags / camera stuff before. That's not interesting. But I've never seen someone argue the moonlandings didn't happen because there's no Kennedy Space Centre on the moon. Yet every single one of these Orion articles has some variation of it. That's genuinely interesting.

Now I'm also interested by your motivation, for your slightly odd post. You could have ignored me, as you advised me. You could have used a username, to make it easier to reply. You could perhaps be the offended party, who I was somewhat dismissive of. Or someone leaping to their defence. Or a fellow believer in anti-moonlanding-conspiracy-nutjobbery. Who knows? What could be more interesting than the thoughts and beliefs of my fellow human beings?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Shuttle

It's supposed to be re-usable. Although it's cheating, as they throw the rocket away. Then again, the shuttle itself threw two rockets and a honking great tank away on every launch. Well I know they re-used bits of the SRBs, but not with the hoped for success.

SpaceX are getting pretty shuttley though. They've designed a re-usable capsule, and the first stage of one of their rockets is doing a test landing next week.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Why is wind a problem

Khaptain,

You just have to remember that rockets are very tall, and very thin. And most of the stuff you control them with is right at the bottom. It's hard enough to get them to go in a straight line anyway, without adding even more factors that make them unstable. Balance a pencil on its end on your finger, try and hold that upright. Now blow on it...

Winds in the upper atmosphere can regularly hit over 100 mph as well, even on calm days at surface level. This is why trans-Atlantic flight times might vary by over an hour (if the jetstream is going really fast). That's a lot of force exerted on a rocket, which it has to correct for. Although in this case it was apparently low altitude wind.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: From your photo...

However, our troll/idiot/joker is correct. There's no way the Moon landings could be real. It's an established fact that the Moon is made of cheese. So where the rockets landed and took off, you'd get a fondue effect. As no astronauts were ever seen drinking unfeasibly vast quantities of wine while eating potatoes, charcuterie, bread and pickles - it can be firmly established that the moon-landings are a fake.

Unless the Moon is made of hallumi I suppose. You can hit that stuff with blowtorches, and it doesn't even bend, let alone melt...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: From your photo...

We had a couple of odd comments about this (difference between Earth and Moon launch) on the other Orion threads. Do we have a troll, a serious moon-conspiracy nut, or is it supposed to be a joke?

I really can't decide which...

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4.2 is the answer to life, the universe and the Internet of Everything

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Stop

A warning from the future...

You're on the train. It's 6:02 am. You're making your bleary-eyed way in to work. You turn on your phone, and bung some music to your bluetooth headphones, and lean back for a bit of relaxation before the day kicks off.

Your bluetooth headlines have received a software update, says an un-earthly robotic voice in your ear. Followed by several beeps and a few reboots. No music. Just the sound of papers shuffling and the train rattling.

Suddenly your music comes on. And you lean back in your seat, the day going OK now. You got a seat. The gentle sound of relaxing jazz soothes you.

Suddenly, in a very loud voice! SONY HEADPHONES ARE THE BEST HEADPHONES! WHY NOT GO ONLINE TODAY TO SEE HOW YOU COULD UPGRADE TO OUR LATEST MODEL? OR NOW THAT YOU'RE HAPPY WITH OUR PORTABLE BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES, WHY NOT TRY OUT OUR SURROUNDSOUND HD AUDIO AUDIOPHILE CLASSICS AT HOME? FOR A SPEICAL PRICE OF ONLY £399!!!"

Aarrgh! What was that? The jazz cuts back in. Peace. Did you dream that? Should you have eaten that cheese last night?

Beep! "Software update!" Says an unearthly electronic voice in your ear. Without further ado your headphones reboot themselves. Again you listen to the sounds of the train. Waiting for your music to come back.

You glance at your mobile phone. It's 6:21 now. The track you are listening to is displayed under the clock, you have listened to 23 seconds of it so far.

Beep. Your headphones are updated. The soothing sounds waft back into your ears, calming the momentary flaring of anger.

Beep! "HAHAHAHAHAHA! LOSER! YOUR SONY HEADPHONES HAVE BEEN HACKED BY THE 4NTI-S0NY-CRU! WE HATE SONY! YOU ARE A LOSER FOR USING SONY. YOU HAVE BEEN HEADPWNED. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

...When the train arrived at the station, British Transport Police were alerted by screaming passengers to the carnage inside. Tne people bludgeoned to death in a blood-spattered frenzy. An orgy of violence. The killer was apprehended immediately. A blood-soaked wretch found sobbing in the corner of the carriage. His mind gone - a lifetime at Broadmoor awaiting him. But they were unable to find the murder weapon. Until one pathologist had an idea and was able to grasp the significance of the unusual and tiny grains of plastic found embedded in all the victims. After months of painstaking work, he was able to piece together the remains of some earphones. The case remains unexplained to this day...

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Boffins unearth the ultimate antique art - 500,000 years old

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Re: 'Calling it "art" is stretching things a bit though.'

not been to a gallery lately then?

Tom 7,

Why yes. I have been. I decided to shelve my prejudices and go to Tate Modern. Rather than getting my opinions of modern art from the press and TV, I decided it was better to give it a fair crack of the whip.

After a couple of hours, I found myself in one particular gallery full of crap paintings and I heard somenone say (rather loudly), "this is all utter bollocks!" I must say I found myself in full agreement with their opinion, and looked round to see who this perceptive individual was.

Only to see everyone else looking around too, and at me. On replaying the voice in my head, I realised that the person speaking had been me. And decided that this was a good time to beat a tactical retreat to the cafe, and consume a pot of tea, and a very large cake. Modern art and I seemingly don't get on...

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Feast your eyes: 10 'fortysomething' smart TVs

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Some of those prices... Ouch!

OK, I know you can improve a panel with better processors, and a few extra USB and HDMI slots cost a few more pence too. But wow!

I bought a Panasonic 50" for £500 2 years ago. It's full HD and LED. The screen copes perfectly with moving action - although it's not 800Hz (or whatever we're up to now), it's got a perfectly functioning Freeview tuner. The speakers are truly awful, and you can't hear the dialogue without turning the sound up so high that all the effects deafen the neighbours. But that seems to be true of all flat tellies, and of course the crap mixing from TV and film producers who always seem to over-do the bass. It's got Digital audio out, so my HiFi can deal with that issue.

From a quick look, it seems that similar quality can now be had for under £400. You can even get el cheapo 50" ones for £300! And I saw an LG 65" for £500 advertised at the weekend.

So what the hell is a 43" 'smart' one doing at £800? And one that shows a line of lights on the screen when it's supposed to be showing black?

Good Lord there's a forty-something inch Samsung for well over a grand in there. Although I suppose that's 4k, and I've no idea what they should cost, so perhaps I shouldn't criticise.

But for all those smart mid-40s inch tellies in there at £600-£800, I could buy a good 50" panel, a Chromecast (Amazon TV / Apple TV), a reasonable Android tablet or phone to control it - and have change for a decent quality sound system that also plays my CDs and stuff from my tablet. Or a surround sound setup, if I prefer movies to music.

Or the 50" decent TV, a good DVR box and less good soundbar.

And I can update my smart components as a I chose.

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Oh dear, traders: Banker bosses are monitoring your smoke breaks

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Re: To Paraphrase Revd Niemoller

I was working in a non-selling call centre. And fully understood the legal requirements of what I could and couldn't say. But you are correct that I had little respect for the company, which perfectly matched their lack of respect for me. It was a shit job for a while, until something better came along. Something that management made more unpleasant than it needed to.

Better training and treating staff with some respect can do wonders. Even a small extra bit of pay, along with respect can give you enough staff retention to make decent levels of training worthwhile. For the right people. But that's not the way they chose to run the company.

Mis-selling is often the fault of management anyway. Pisspoor culture, and pushing badly trained staff too hard is far more likely to overcome the limited safety that scrips can achieve. Motivation need not be entirely financial. Admittedly you always risk bad eggs lying to boost their commission/bonuses - and monitoring is good for stopping them.

Too many managers treat their staff like shit, then whine when they aren't motivated or loyal - and use that as their excuse for what amounts to petty bullying and incompetent unrealistic target-setting.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: Sympathy for a banker?

Not only did my bank steal my soul, they also stole my face...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: To Paraphrase Revd Niemoller

Call centres have been doing it for years. Because the phone are operated by a centralised computer dialler, and everyone is inputting data on a system linked to it, they've got huge amounts of data available. So it's just down to how much management can be arsed to use it, and how Nazi they are.

The difference with call centres is that their staff turnover is huge, and it takes a while to train people up, so you really have to try to get sacked. The problem is the piss-poor management bullying people, but if you didn't give a fuck (like me) and were willing to sit through the odd telling off by a supervisor with delusions of adequacy, then it was no problem.

They listen into your calls to make sure you stick to the stupid script ("calls may be monitored for training purposes"), they can check how long you take between calls, measure your breaks, how long you spend typing up the answers, how long you're not available to take new calls. All types of stuff.

Of course, if you don't put the phone down after the conversation has finished, it still counts as call time, so you can get the typing up time down to zero, when they're chasing that metric. Bit hard on the people whose line you're tying up of course.

The only time our company ever took it totally seriously is when they made everyone redundant. Then they got HR in to do lots of monitoring. I'm sure the excuse was so that people wouldn't start causing trouble as they were being dumped. But actually it was so they could sack people, and avoid the tiny redundancy payouts they were having to make. I seem to remember I got a verbal warning in that process, and they managed to progress a couple of people to final written warnings, but there wasn't enough time to get away with actually sacking people before the month was up.

And to think I was just about to start doing database work for them, I'd already had the training, so I missed out on a career in IT and ended up in water engineering instead.

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Orion 'Mars' ship: Cosmic ray guard? Go. Parachutes? Go. Spacerock shield? Go!

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Re: Hold!

Ground wind violation this time.

Some of mine have been pretty loud, say the morning after curry with real ale. But no-ones ever cancelled a rocket launch on my account...

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Re: Temperature

If you're coming down from orbit, then you'll be going just a bit less than orbital velocity of 17,500 mph.

Earth escape velocity is about 25,000 mph. That's what you need in order to get to the Moon or Mars. As it takes lots of fuel to get that, it's too difficult to carry enough to slow down much on the way back. Hence you brake using the atmosphere.

From memory you only pull about 3G on normal re-entry, whereas the astronauts returning from the Moon had to put up with something like 6. And Apollo 13 was more, because they got the entry angle slightly wrong.

Obviously you want to go to Mars as quickly as possible, so there's a balance between how much you accelerate to speed up the trip, how much fuel you can take to slow down - and how much pain you're willing to put up with on aerobraking. I guess this is another reason that they want to take their Earth re-entry craft with them all the way to Mars, as it woulld take too much fuel to be able to slow back down to orbital velocity and rendevous with one (the craft may be lighter than the fuel otherwise needed). Also the Orion is a lifeboat, as you can abort directly to Earth if the rest of the Mars ship breaks down. NASA presumably decided the AA were too expensive...

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Re: Off to the Smithsonian with ot!

Dragon2 is designed to land on land. So re-using that ought to be a lot easier than something that splashes down in nasty, salty seawater. Especially if the astronauts have to blow a hatch, and the thing gets water inside it.

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It was SPACECRAFT vs BOAT at ORION LAUNCH. The boat won

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Re: Mission to Mars

There are no Twixes. My colleague just phoned about a minute ago to say Boots do not sell them, so my request for lunchtime chocolate was denied.

So I've gone to SpaceX. I'm having a Double Decker, which is how they've designed the cabin for Dragon 2. With the pilots sitting in the pointy bit above the rest of the crew.

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Meet Jack and Jill: Google’s new Android compilers

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Re: Jack and Jill

We had Janet & John. And boy were they dull...

I suspect my reading was only rescued by Willard Price's animal Adventure books. Hal & Roger are exploited by their parents as cheap (and very under-aged) labour in very dangerous jobs. But instead of going to social services, end up populating their father's zoo with animals, while avoiding kidnappers, murderers, or just getting eaten.

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Google kills CAPTCHAs: Are we human or are we spammer?

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Re: Let's do some research (I'll be glad to see them gone)

SDoradus,

Factors affecting this are probably rather complicated. In my case it's having something like 5% of average visual accuity that buggers me up. Although weirdly the audio ones are even harder, and I've got good ears. I suspect that a matching photos one will present as many difficutties for me, as the obscured text one - it could be like doing a spot-the-difference puzzle.

Then again people with dyslexia often find that they can read much more easily by putting an orange plastic filter over black text on white. This suggests to me that there are some complicated factors involved in how our brains work on reading. So I wonder if a different way of wobbling/obscuring the letters might be more or less readable by humans. Given that our brains are set up to do pattern recognition.

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Happy

Re: I'll be glad to see them gone

If it takes you 3 tries, and "today’s artificial intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8 per cent accuracy" - then does that mean you're actually not a human?

I'm wondering the same. I always thought I was, but I've never been able to get my Captcha ratio much above 1 in 3 either. So does that mean I'm some sub-standard part of the Matrix?

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Festive streamers caught in Vulture's claws: Gadget-ogle for audiophiles, video geeks

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Re: It's all too complicated

Fink-Nottle,

Good point. Although I've not used Linux before, and haven't touched UNIX since the mid-90s. So I'd imagine it would be a bit of a learning curve getting back into it. I did consider it, but then £30 for a Pi, say £100 more for a case, hard drive and power supply (plus whatever a TV tuner card would cost) meant I was thinking I might as well spend £250 on something small and a bit more powerful. That meant research and setup that I hadn't got time (or couldn't be arsed) to do, then I thought "stuff it" and blew £30 on a Chromecast.

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Double hammer blow to ICANN and pals' internet power grab bid

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Devil

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh...

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UK slaps 25 per cent 'Google Tax' on tech multinationals

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Re: Who are you actually paying?

They are doing some stuff. EU VAT rules have just been changed. Actually that's the most recent, there was something done last year to stop the Channel Islands VAT avoidance dodge.

Also at the EU level there are changes being proposed to the way companies can move revenue around inside the single market. I think there's enough will that these will actually amount to something.

There have also been international moves (since just before the financial crisis hit) to cut some of the worst tax avasion via international banking tax havens. The crisis gave those moves quite a bit more bite.

For most of this stuff we have to negotiate very slowly at EU level, unless we choose to pull out of the EU - as lots of this stuff is covered under the Single Market. The idea being that you can set up in one country, then trade throughout the whole EU. This is good for the European economy as a whole, but has lead to certain countries being a little too eager to nick everyone else's VAT and Corporation Tax receipts. That'll probably never go away entirely, but will be (and is being) reigned in quite a lot.

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Is EU right to expand 'right to be forgotten' to Google.com?

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Re: It doesn't matter what this is about

Flocke Kroes,

Punishing big companies is easy. They're a huge target. They can't hide easily. Fines don't care if the bit of the corporate structure they're levied on is making paper profits or not.

Taxing them is much harder, as they can move the money and profits around within a maze of small targets. Plus there's competition for the jobs they offer, which incentivises loophole creation.

The difference is the multi-nationals are actively trying to avoid paying tax. But they're also actively trying to attract the money from companies and consumers in the EU jurisdiction. That gives the power to us, rather than them. With tax, it's the other way round.

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Re: Chilling phrase: "purchase a jurisdiction"

All the dystopian science fiction about the corporations taking over neglects a few things. They want our money. They need our money. Populations have successfully revolted against violent and repressive armed governments in the past - and will do so in future.

In the end there are more of us than there are of them. And we have pitchforks.

Again, corporations are only rich because lots of people are giving them lots of money. Who's got the money, us consumers. If they want to continue getting our money, they have to stop us from actively boycotting them. Our governments can also totally screw them over. They can tax them, they can arrest their executives, or if they flee to another jurisdiction, they can prevent them getting our money by telling the banks not to transact with them.

This is how the USA and EU can bring crippling sanctions onto countries like Iran and Russia, without full global or UN cooperation or agreement. Even just the US and UK between them control a huge chunk of the world's banking, insurance and other financial services.

Or remember when Wikileaks suddently weren't getting any credit card payments. That didn't even take legislation.

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Re: Prehaps we need to understand the core problem

You're certainly right about the change. Society can't keep up with changes this fast. Legislation doesn't move that fast either. So not many people have even formed a solid opinion on what the internet should and should not do.

But there's no problem with legislating for Google. Sure it's a huge multi-national. But it makes tens of billions of dollars of sales in Europe per year. And those sales are for advertising to European customers. In the end the EU can control that revenue stream (at least to some extent), and that gives it control over Google.

It's still possible to set up in a different jurisdiction and shout "ya boo sucks to you EU", and publish what you want. So long as it's legal where you are. And so long as you have no financial or physical ties to the jurisidction you're ignoring the laws of, you'll be safe. But Google are about the money, and the EU is a market of half a billion of some of the richest people in the world.

In my personal opinion, some aspects of the internet are currently under-regulated / under-governed. The chances are that that will change gradually. Knowing how society tends to work, I suspect that we may be heading for over-regulating it, and then the pendulum will swing back to a better balance somewhere in between.

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Re: Um... What Gonzalez vs Google Sp. actually said:

Which one is best, Orlowski or Worstall? There's only one way to decide... FFFIIIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTTTT!!!!!!!

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Man asks internet for $1k for pebbles. INTERNET SAYS YES

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Re: Whisky Stones

I've tried most whiskies that I like both straight, and with a little water. My current favourite is Balvenie, which I take neat (although it does taste different with water). I find that the peatier ones benefit from a small splash of water, as it seems to bring some of the sweeter flavours out past the smokiness.

I've got a bottle of cask strength 18 year old which needs water, as at 65% alcohol it physically hurts the side of your tongue if you don't swallow it almost immediately. Giving you little time to actually taste the stuff - which rather defeats the object.

So it's horses for courses. Others prefer the peatier ones, and take them neat.

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Re: Very true.

Smallbrainfield,

There's nothing wrong with adding water to whisky. That's a sensible thing to do. Some taste nicer with a drop of water. I can't remember trying a single whisky both ways, where even just a splash of water doesn't make a noticeable (to large) difference to the taste. Some I prefer with, others without.

The problem with ice is cold, not wet. Chilling whisky destroys most of the flavour. Or at least turns it off until you warm it up again.

So what they've done is to remove any possible good aspects of what ice can do to whisky, and kept only the bad effects. That's magic! The fact that he's asking for start-up funding to make something that's already been available for years, is just icing on the cake of pointlessness.

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Give nerds their own PRIVATE TRAIN CARRIAGES, say boffins

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Re: Can't we have a murder carriage?

Oh. I'm disappointed. I thought you meant a carriage where we could murder people. Would certainly reduce over-crowding...

I guess that would create its own problems though. After all, the queue for the murdering Piers Morgan carriage would be huge.

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Re: Or even...

I think the main issue with Bedford -> Cambridge is that the old line has been built over, and so it's tricky to know where to route it.

If we can get Mog_X to get his bloody bike out of the way, we'll be sorted...

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Aren't they already doing this?

The Chiltern Railways line is being hooked up to Oxford via Bicester at the moment. Then once this is done, they're re-activating the line between Oxford and Bedord.

A quick Google later: link to project

Turns out they've only got funding and approval for the Aylesbury-Oxford-MK-Bedford bit so far. It would seem a bit illogical not to then continue it, as new infrastructure appears to be in fashion again politically, and this route has already covered 2/3rds of the distance.

Also, why more transport links for a hub at King's Cross. It's already easy to get trains to Paddington from Oxford, and Liverpool Street from Cambridge. Surely it's not beyond the wit of our putative tech-pioneers to get a tube and meet in the middle at King's Cross. Or even walk...

Hell if things get too desperate, there are even buses.

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Apple patents NEVERSMASH iPHONE for fumbling fondlers

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Re: Physics.

I apologize for adding a serious comment to your query, but I value mt epidermal integrity highly, since I'm allergic to harpoons.

(They HURT!)

CaptainDaFt,

What a wuss! What's a little pain, compared with having the shiniest smartphone?

Anyway, I'm sure you exaggerate. I doubt you're really allergic to harpoons. Just harpoon intolerant...

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Orion: To Mars, the Moon and beyond... but first, a TEST FLIGHT through Van Allen belt

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Re: Project Orion

Though maybe using conventional launchers for its parts and lighting the blue touch paper in LEO would be more acceptable.

Isn't that the wrong way round? Wasn't one idea for Orion that you could get some really stonkingly heavy stuff into orbit as a one-off, or at least not-too-often exercise. So you could launch space-factories, space-mining rigs or habitats as huge launches, and then do everything else with normal rockets.

Obviously it's also a faster way round the solar system. But I'd have thought it would be too heavy to lift by normal means. After all, you need a really thick baseplate and some serious shock absorbers.

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Re: Competing with Soyuz...

MacroRodent,

That's interesting, I'd not read about that as a radiation shielding option. I'd imagine that still puts our ship in the range of 10-20 launches (including, consumables, flight and assembly crews) - so the Earth-to-orbit costs alone are going to be somewhere between $5bn and $20bn.

Although hopefully this will be a re-usable asset.

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Re: Competing with Soyuz...

Tom 13,

I don't think your solution works. We simply don't have the technology to build anything in space. And we're not even close. The ISS was assembled, but mostly that was just bolting big stuff together. Plus a bit of plumbing. So everything on the main ship that drives to Mars is going to be built in modules on Earth, then lifted to orbit. So in order to have heavy shielding we're going to have use an absurdly large number of launches to get it up there, and then huge amounts of time doing the final assembly in orbit.

I agree that some sort of electric plasma engine is probably the way to go, and it would seem sensible to spend money on our big ship, as it can be continually refurbished and reused. Even if you had to launch another engine module from Earth every time it came back here, rather than trying to refurb the old one.

However, one of the arguments from the article is to use the Orion capsule as a lifeboat. If it can cope with high velocities for landing, then you might have a viable emergency return home option. If something horrible goes wrong with the main ship on the way to Mars, or even the way back, nothing is likely to be able to carry the fuel to decelerate you to Earch orbital speed so you can rendevouz with a landing craft. But being less massive than the main ship, you might be able to get within a sane speed to survive aeorbraking. Now it's possible that a Dragon 3 could do this as well, but I believe Dragon 2 is only designed for orbital re-entry speeds. Although Dragon ought to be a better bet for landing on Mars, as it's designed to land on dry land on its jets.

I think my idea would be to have several multi-purpose craft for all the landings, then a ship to do the long-haul bit that carries them and their fuel between planets. So a bigger Dragon, with better radiation shielding, and better heat shields. That way you've got more options if things go wrong. But it might make more sense to have separate Mars landers.

However I'm not sure Mars is the right question. It seems to me we need fuel and consumables. So capturing an asteroid seems a far better long term plan. That also saves a lot of the difficulties of landing on Mars. Although if we could use Mars as an excuse to build a ship to get us around the solar system, then I guess it would be a good first step.

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Re: Project Orion

OK. But only if they launch it from your back garden. And no cheating and going out when they launch either...

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Re: Why a heat shield?

JohnB,

What it seems to amount to is that this is the only way down, while we're launching stuff into space from Earth. One of the best reasons to go grab an asteroid and mine it, would be to get consumables like water/amonia/whatever. In orbit you've got virtually free electricity from your solar panels, so if you've got chemicals then you can get oxygen to breathe, water to drink (and grow plants) and nitrogen for atmosphere and fertilizer. If you've got water and electricity you've also got hydrogen and oxygen - i.e. rocket fuel.

If we could just get that sort of bulky stuff in space, rather than boosting it up from earth, then all sorts of things in space become much more feasible. As well as a lot less expensive, and a bit less dangerous. At that point we could have re-usable spaceplanes that refuel in orbit and can then slow down from orbital speeds before entering the atmosphere. Some horrific percentage of the shuttle's weight was heat-shield, and an even more horrific percentage was fuel.

We have these fundamental design problems that dog everything that we do. All the weight you carry up from earth must be accelerated to orbital speeds (17,500 mph ish). And the more you carry, the more fuel you need to launch it, and the more fuel you carry, the more fuel you need to lift that fuel. Which is why we mostly throw away bits of our rockets on the way up. And of course, to come back down, you have to lose that 17,500 mph somehow. Currently that's by aerobraking.

Now you could do like aeroplanes, and use lift to help get you up to a good height, before heading for space, but even then you need rockets for once you run out of atmosphere. And then you have to carry these, plus your jets, plus fuel for both, and a heat shield, as you can't carry enough fuel to slow down.

So Virgin's (Scaled Composite's really) design is to use well understood jet technology to carry their space plane to 50,000 feet. That saves loads of weight, and hassle. Then the spaceplane does the rest. Currently they're just after sub-orbital joyrides - but I presume they can also carry a smaller rocket to boost a satellite, instead of passengers with another design. I don't know if you can make a big enough carrier plane to carry a space vehicle with the weight of fuel and shielding to get a useful payload to orbit. But I'd be surprised if that's not possible.

Option 2 is what SpaceX are doing. Make rockets cheaper. No-one's seriously done re-designs on this stuff since the 60s/70s. So they dumped horrible chemicals or hard to handle liquid hydrogen. Instead they're using liquid oxygen and kerosene. Nice money saving. Then they're planning to land the first stage of their rockets instead of dumping them. So you carry a little more fuel, then land them and re-use.

Third is Reaction Engines. They're the old HOTOL lot, still going, but now Skylon. Use a SABRE engine that works like a jet at low speeds, then gets up to supersonic RAMJET speeds, and then will have to use stored oxygen once the atmosphere's too thin.

Oh, and there's an XKCD for everything apparently: linky

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Re: Once its been through Van Allens belt..

Not forgetting Van Halen's jockstrap and Lily Allen's ...radio interference LOS...

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