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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3564 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

'You have no right to see me NAKED!' Suddenly, everyone wakes up at the Google-EU face-off

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Who wants to forget what might be an interesting question

naive,

This decision was made by the ECJ. So it was a judical, not a political one - and should have had nothing to do with the Commission.

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Trickle-down economics WORKS: SpaceShipTwo is a PRIME EXAMPLE

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Re: @Tim - Trickle-down economics

Be careful with assuming cause and effect? How do we know that any level of inequality has an effect on technological growth? It could be that growth leads to inequality after all...

Think about all the tech billionaires. It's rapid development that makes them so wealthy. If a founder creates a company, and by the time he dies it's worth billions, he'll be well off. But not insanely so. But if you can found a company in your early 20s, then sell it for billions by the time you're 30 - that's a recipe for massive extremes of wealth.

Also remember that the poorest can't have any less wealth. You can't own less than zero houses. So there's always going to be a wealth-gap, It doesn't take that much extreme wealth at the top-end to start making large differences to this ratio. So any period of rapid technological growth not run by the government is likely to increase inequality in the short term at least.

Also remember the point that Worstall makes in other places about measuring wealth inequality. In the 19th century the poorest got almost no government help. In the twenties there was some basic provision for universal primary education and some pensions. Now everyone in Britain can rely on free healthcare, free education to 18, a basic state pension until they die, housing support, sickness and unemployment benefits, as well as a lot of financial help with child rearing. Even free tertiary education so long as you don't earn over £20k a year afterwards). That's a suite of benefits that's worth many hundreds of thousands of pounds each - and we don't all pay that much tax in our lifetimes. Missing that out from any discussion of inequality is insane.

Also remember to measure who the inequality is between. Globalisation has frozen the wages of ordinary people in the Western economies since the mid 2000s. If you include housing costs in the UK, or healthcare in the US, that's probably frozen since sometime in the 90s.

But on the other hand, Africa is getting much richer. Quite quickly now in some places. China has taken hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty. As has the rest of Southern Asia. A lot of that's also down to globalisation. And technological development. We're in another uncomfortable period of social and economic change, but it's not bad for everyone.

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Re: Not Trickle-down economics...

And yet how do these villagers know which market to get their goods to? By checking their mobile phones.

And how do they get hurricane/typhoon/tsunami warnings? Again from their phones (once the fripperies of braces-wearing London stockbrokers), using data from satellites (once the province of Cold Warriors).

Who the hell knows what Spaceship 2 will lead to? It's not a technology we've explored yet. Maybe the current Space industry boom will peter out again. Or maybe we'll have orbital platforms making weird crystals in micro-gravity that start another computing boom. Or give us exotic drugs to erradicate malaria. I've read in several places that one of the benefits of microgravity manufacturing may be improvements in our ability to create difficult molecules for drugs, but I'm not enough a chemist to know if that's still true (or even if it ever was).

Or indeed maybe Virgin will give up, Scaled Composites will be starved of cash, and it'll be Elon Musk who gets us into space, with his technological leap. Who'd have thought ten years ago that a guy could start from scratch and build a space capability that can already sent several tons to LEO and (probably) also land the 1st stage rocket to re-use it? In 2-3 more years he says he'll have a man-rated re-usable capsule that can land on the moon (if it could get there). He's building capabiliites at an amzing rate, and lowering costs while doing it.

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Naselus,

Sure the government is responsible for loads of stuff. Including innovation. War (for example) is a real spur to get your thinking cap on...

But remember that in our current 'Western' economic model (since WWII), government is taxing and spending something like 40% of the economy. Varying over time and country between say 30% and 50%.

So you'd expect the government to be involved in lots of innovation. It's doing lots of stuff. Especially as peacetime military spending has been much more of a driver, due to the complication of modern weapons systems, and the fact we had a Cold War.

Railways, mass steel production, mass clothing production and mass car production all stated in the 19th Century with much less government involvement. Innovators went out and did stuff, made money and more of that stuff happened. Since then we've decided we don't want 19th Century levels of poverty, government has got much more involved in areas like science, and we've remodelled our economies.

But even where you might argue government investment has given us new technologies, you need to remember that there's more than one way to do technology. There's basic R&D to give us the shiny new frontier. Then there's boring development to get something that actually works 99.999% of the time, and doesn't blow up so often. Then there's manufacturing development to make things cheaper, so the mass market can have them. And there's cross-pollination where you take innovations in one field, and use them in another.

Very rich people, wanting to communicate mostly for business, drove a demand for mobile phones in the 80s. That's become a mass market technology that almost everyone in rich economies can afford. But because of us relatively rich (in global terms) masses buying into mobiles, they can now be had for a few quid, so even the very poorest in the developing world can afford them. So this continuing development has trickled even further down, so farmers/fishermen in remote places in Africa can now get their stuff to the right market, to get the most money, so they get richer and waste less. This has allowed and is allowing whole swathes of the developing world to leap-frog a developmental stage that we had to go through in order to get national communications. And is getting them the internet too. All of which may allow them to kickstart their economic, social and educational development in a way no plausible amount of aid money could.

Or take solar panels. In order to make them cheap enough to put on our houses, we're pushing development of this technology. Now my feeling is that this is a mistake, at least in Northern Europe. And we'd be better investing our renewables money into nuclear. But for Southern Europe or US, it could be a brilliant technology to use. Possibly both at local and grid scale. But again our relatively rich market may drive down the price to commodity levels. Then people in the poorest bits of the developing world may be able to skip the step of national power infrastructure, and go for local renewable solar electricity, and bootstrap their economies.

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Stuart 22,

I don't think you're correct at all. And I don't think you have any basis to make assumptions about other people's motives, just because you may happen to like one of them more than the other.

Elon Musk is taking a design that's barely changed for decades, and an industry that's got fat and lazy on government pork, and giving it a mighty kick up the arse. This is great for the rocket industry, as the cosy old one wasn't using newer technology to make things cheaper. Now they'll have to.

But rocketry has its limitations. Even with viable re-usable first stages.

Another way to get to orbit would be to use aerodynamics to get you as high as possible, and only rely on rockets for the last stage. That's what Reaction Engines are doing with Skylon and Virgin Galactic / Scaled Composites are doing with Spaceship 2. In the case of Skylon they're trying to solve the problem with one vehicle, whereas Scaled/Virgin are using a carrier plane to get to 40,000 feet.

This may turn out to be the most efficient. The heavy wings and engines you need for lower atmosphere work can be the most efficient possible, as that's all they do. Then the spaceship component only needs the bits for the upper atmosphere, and space itself. In principle it also ought to be safer, as you're using proven (cheap) technology to get to 40,000 feet, rather than a giant barely controlled explosion rocket.

That shuttlecock tale may be the invention that makes this technology work. Although I don't know if it's good enough for orbital speeds, or if it's possible to carry enough fuel to slow down in orbit enough that you can drop into the atmosphere at safe speed. After all, aeorbraking requires a huge heavy coating of ceramic, to cope with re-entry heating. So it may turn out more efficient to carry a less heavy amount of fuel, and do without the heat shield.

So far as I'm aware none of these 3 options are technological dead-ends. There's loads of development still to do, and materials science is advancing still. It may be we use them all for different things. Rockets will win on heavy lift, but maybe they can never be made much safer, and so spaceplanes will be the way to get people to orbit. And may end up cheaper for small payloads.

Plus there's also hypersonic travel. Concorde shaved 3 hours off the Atlantic crossing. That's nice, but not a game-changer. If you could shave 20 hours off the flight to Australia, that is an enormous difference. Paying £10,000 to fly there in 3 hours, rather than £1,000 to do it in a day, doesn't look like a ludicrous thing to do.

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Pop starlet Taylor Swift DUMPS Spotify: It’s not me, it’s you

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Re: Seems Reasonable

Spotify, and radio for that matter, are less about generating revenue, but more about generating publicity.

Lost all faith...,

Please correct me if I'm wrong, I don't use it. But isn't Spotify a subscription service where you can basically listen to what you want? So basically like renting a music collection. Whereas on radio you listen, and you get what you're given.

So in a normal market, that would make Spot ify cheaper than buying CDs / downloads. But still a significant portion of the cost. If you lease a car you pay several hundred a month. Obviously music doesn't depreciate, or need maintenance. But from the artist's point of view they need to get similar sorts of money out of the deal. Bearing in mind that only the elite few get rich from a music career.

Even if we assume that all the works of the record companies are evil, and that marketing is uneccessary... Music needs to pay enough profit for session musicians, studio time, sound engineers, producers, band management, writers, someone to drive the van, and the musicians themselves.

Now some of that can come from live ticket sales.

But quite frankly you can fuck off with your superior attitude about how someone else should work for free for the privilege of being able to give you stuff that you actually want, in the hopes that you'll throw them some scraps in the form of ticket sales. Maybe. That attitude truly pisses me off. The freeloaders need to be honest in these arguments. If they want to do without music, then fine. But if they want to listen to stuff that requires other people have to spend hours of effort to create it, then they should pay for it. Or just steal it, and be honest about the fact that they're stealing it. Rather than all these verbal gymnastics about evil record companies, some artists being somehow too rich, promotion, or whatever else. If you want it, pay for it. If you don't want to pay for it, go without.

And breathe... Ooops. Sorry. Rant over. I'm sure I'll receive a healthy crop of downvotes for this. And I apologise if I've maligned you. And you were just making a general point about marketing. But I'm leaving the post in anyway, because it's a decent summary of what I feel. And I'm sick of the hypocrisy in these arguments.

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Re: People will definitely pay for music.

Tom 13,

A lot of the people who say they'll definitely not pay for music, are people who listen to music. The ones who don't download for free or buy, probably don't care enough to talk about it.

Even those people who refuse to pay for music do value it. They derive a benefit from it, or they wouldn't go to the effort of getting it. The question is, how much is that benefit? Is there a way to stop them getting something for nothing, such that you don't piss off the people who are willing to pay? Or do you have to reduce the prices massively to get acceptance from the customers that it's more trouble not to pay? In which case we'll get less music, of a lower quality.

Historically people have been willing to shell out more money on music than they do now. In very recent history. So there's probably money to be had out there. What we haven't found is a way to make a market work such that if you don't think something's worth the price, you don't get to have it. You have to do without it. If that's no longer possible, then we won't have a free market in music, the consumers will underpay (I mean in economic terms here), they will have a consumer surplus, and at least theoretically the supply of music will drop until the amount people are willing to pay for meets the amount people are willing to produce.

Obviously just as there are free-loading customers, there are also musicians who'll work for free. Because they love to do it. As usual, society is moving too slowly to keep up with technology. Maybe in 20 years time we'll praise the free-loaders for having unlocked a new pargadigm of wonderfulness. Or we'll curse them for having destroyed the industry that gave them the stuff they wanted, but wouldn't pay for. Who knows? It's much more of a certainty that the record company executives will be screwing things up as usual...

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Happy

Re: Erm....

who the heck is Taylor Swift?!?

I believe she is a popular, beat combo m'lud. Or to put it another way, she sings both kinds of music. Country, and Western.

To be honest, I've no idea. The only country music I own is by Otis Lee Crenshaw. And he's not taking it terribly seriously... But as he says, "Country music is sitting on the floor, with a bottle of Jack Daniels and the lonely, salty tears rolling down your cheeks. And taking all that pain, misery and heartache, and trying to turn it into cold, hard cash."

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Re: Sorry.....

That's true in a sense. If the market won't pay, you get bugger-all. And tough luck to ya.

But, on the other hand, we have the law to protect people selling. So that the alternatives don't become greedy consumers saying, gimme your stuff for free, or I'll steal it*, and you get nothing.

That's why you aren't allowed to walk into a shop and steal an iPhone, because you think it's overpriced.

Therefore we only get to know the true value, when the choice is pay for the music, or don't get the music. So I don't buy iPhones, I don't think there's any phone out worth much more than the Lumia 730 or Moto G - at under £150. Similarly if I like some music, and want to listen to it repeatedly, I buy it. If I don't think it's worth it, I do without.

*Yes, I'm aware that copyright infringement isn't really theft. Because you're only taking a copy. But it's a fucking pisspoor argument to try to claim on one hand that someone else's work is worthless, while at the same time you're making the effort to get yourself a free copy of it, and then listening to it. I'm happy to accept the argument if you listen once, then delete, and either buy or don't. I check stuff out on Youtube before buying. But you can't argue that something has no value, and then use it at the same time. That's cheating.

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Re: Seems Reasonable

Ralph B,

That argument is total bollocks.

If artists are only getting pennies per thousand songs played from Spotify, then it's pretty much impossible to make up the profit from an album sale in per-play fees.

It's just basic maths. If I buy an album, and the artist gets £1. That means I'd have to listen to their songs 100,000 times, in order for them to make the same cash. That also negates them having the chance of selling me 2 albums, if all their stuff's on spotify.

100,000 tunes x 3 minutes / 60 mins / 24 hrs = 208.3 days of solid listening to pay them back. 312 days if I'm allowed 8 hours of sleep...

That's also not including other costs. Obviously record companies take their pound of flesh from a CD sale. Nice profits. Cocaine and hookers for the execs. But they've also got to pay marketing, photographers, people to organise the band's website, studio time.

I don't know if the writers and producers get their cash out of the artist's cut or the record companies'. But someone's got to pay it.

It looks like Spotify doesn't pay.

Maybe artists will switch all their effort to live gigs. Release enough records to get known, then just tour. But if that happens, the quality of recorded music is likely to drop. And I can listen to far more recorded music than I have time to get to gigs. Plus bands won't come to my house to play while I'm cooking dinner, or entertaining friends. Selfish gits!

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Re: Consumer or supplier

I think the answer is that Spotify is too cheap. But maybe that's all the cash consumers are willing to part with for it as a service?

Of course this does depend on how much cash Spotify keeps for itself and how much it's passing on to artists. i.e. Are they profiteering? Or are they just making bugger-all cash for everyone?

I'm sure the big name multi-millionaires will be OK, whatever happens. But it's the next level of artist who might really suffer.

If society wants to have a decent number of good professional musicians, of varying types, then we're going to have to pay them in some way. How that's organised is obviously up for grabs. But people definitely do want music. People will definitely pay for music. They have been for years. What may happen is a sudden collapse in the industry, due to too many people free-loading. But in the end we'll probably reach some sort of balance where we get what we pay for, and we decide how much that is.

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The Great Smartphone Massacre: Android bloodbath gathers pace

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Re: When I started in the phone business

I need to get some new phones. Not that I've kept any of mine, so I can't set up a museum. But I have owned a lot of phones from companies who no longer sell them. I've had

Motorola MicroTAC

Nokias - couple of green screen ones with week long battery life

Sendo - somethingorother. Plasticky but nice.

Siemens - eletric blue candybar

Sony Ericsson P800

Motorola V3 RAZR (my favourite form factor)

Samsung - slider of some sort

Nokia - candybar w. colour screen, crap battery life and kept breaking. Worst phone I ever had

HTC Wildfire (second favourite form factor)

Nokia Lumia 710

iPhone 5 (work)

I've been a bit of a phone whore. My only loyal period was to Nokia's green screens. I didn't manage an Ericsson before they sold out to Sony, and I've not had a Blackberry yet, but I've done quite well at going through the list, in the last 20 years of use. I guess I need to get an LG and a Microsoft one, before moving on to the Chinese manufacturers.

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Nexus 9: Google and HTC deliver Android 5.0 'Lollipop' at iPad prices

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Happy

One of our longest releases in its 24-bit FLAC version (a Wagner opera) takes up 2.6GB.

Proof that the Teutonic reputation for brutality is well founded. Their operas last three or four days, and they have no word for fluffy.

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I ain't Spartacus
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I've got an iPad 3, 64GB. I've got 4GB spare.

Sure, I could go through and prune out stuff to keep memory free, and maybe with lots of work have got away with a 32GB one, but why should I have to? It's bad enough that Apple take the piss on storage prices, at least they have the "honest" motive of grabbing as much filthy lucre as possible.

Google's war against storage is just bizarre. I'm not going to use Google services any less, just because they allow me to store my music on my tablet!

That's just content. I could set up some kind of home sharing for that. But I have a bluetooth speaker in the bedroom and a CD player in the sitting rooom with a USB dock. So I'd have to upgrade both of those, or use a tablet/phone/iPod anyway.

So I've got 25GB of audio. 2GB of photos. That's not to mention the gigabytes of podcasts that live on my iPod. I might want to put them on my tablet? Then we add in the apps. OK they do need a clear-out, there's some I've not used for ages, but looked useful. Then comes the games. Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 are 3.5GB! The 2 Lego apps I put on there for my nephews are 1GB each. 500MB for the CBeebies app. I've got about 10 games that I like on there, each at 1GB. I could rotate them on and off as they get used. Again, why should I, storage is cheap. Or should be.

Finally we come to video. There's none on there, that does get streamed. But next time I go on a long journey, I'll probably do some BBC iPlayer downloads, maybe even an NFL game or rent something from iTunes? That needs lots of space.

I want storage. My tablet gets used offline all the time. I won't buy a tablet that doesn't have a decent amount of it. Google need to get over themselves and realise that not everyone goes to work on a free company bus, with free company WiFi.

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How's the great dot-thing gold rush going? Well, coffee.club just sold for $100,000

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Happy

I'd like to register: ifyoulikealotofchocolateonyourbiscuitjoinour.club

Is that available?

We've just had the email through offering us .xyz, from our usual registrar. At least they seem to be charging normal prices - altough I'm not interested.

But I'm confused by the other new gTLDs. They're all charging silly money, like £30 a year, some even more. And yet all they're offering me is dot.crap. I can get a dot.com for a quarter of what they're charging.

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Virgin 'spaceship' pilot 'UNLOCKED tailbooms' going through SOUND BARRIER

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Re: Why are these guys even in charge?

Destroy all Monsters,

You seem to be under the misapprehension that this is easy. It isn't. Air safety isn't just about making sure the wings don't fall off. It's also about making sure the maintenance department do their job properly, the pilots are correctly trained and that obvious stuff doesn't get missed when things get stressful.

Air satefy has moved into the realms of trying to explain all the reasons why the accident happened, both human and mechanical, then changing all the aspects of the industry necessary to stop it happening again.

Planes have been lost for all sorts of trivially stupid reasons. In many cases there's a combination of several sets of mechanical and/or human errors that lead to a crash. Perhaps an un-recognised design flaw happens to coincide with a maintenance error on a flight where the pilots are tired, miss the signs and it all goes wrong.

Sometimes the solution is simply to add a line or two to a checklist, or to change training methods. Sometimes it's to alter the controls to be less confusing to pilots under stress. Sometimes it requires a change to maintenance regimes. Others it requires the whole aircraft be redeisgned, and modifications done to all existing models.

That's all done by an outside body, in cooperation with the manufacturer and operator. Partly to check up that they're not making basic errors, or worse covering up. But also because investigating accidents is hard, and so you need an experienced body of people to do it.

So we probably know that the tail deployed. But we need to ask why. Perhaps something weird happened. Or the controls are badly designed. Perhaps a sudden jolt of turbulence too strong for the tail to remain in correct position, once unlocked? Or maybe the craft had a pressurisation problem and the pilots were suffering from anoxia, and so making mistakes, that can be an insidious problem. Or something else entirely.

Don't knock the culture in aviation of independent safety inspections. It is one of the safest forms of travel. And the only one I can think of that beats it is rail, which also has independent accident investigation boards.

The idea is not to blame people for errors that are inevitable. But to try to improve methods of working so that these errors don't occur again. Sadly we then find different ways of screwing-up...

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Re: When can we see the apologies?

Chris Miller,

There's nothing wrong with honest speculation. But rolling out the supposed 'experts' to say that we've been warning all the time against your rocket motors, within hours of an unexplained crash is unacceptable.

There's nothing wrong with saying that such warnings were issues. So long as you make it clear that the cause is unknown. And also make it clear that engine explosions aren't the only reason planes crash. An airframe can only take a certain amount of stress, and can catastrophically fail at those kinds of speeds, if something goes wrong. As appears to have happened here.

The articles in the Guardian and Telegraph that I read were clearly trying to insinuate that Virgin and Scaled Composites were taking huge risks, that they'd been warned against, and doing it anyway. And using experts I've not heard of to back themselves up, while not explaining who those people were, or what their standing was. As against Scaled Composites.

As it turns out, the engines don't look to be to blame. Not that this still might not be down to negligence, or rushing to meet a deadline. But perhaps some evidence might be in order first?

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Re: Why are these guys even in charge?

Erm, sorry, what point are you trying to make? I can't make head-nor-tail of your post.

The safety board have come out and said that they've found the engine and fuel tanks roughly intact. So an engine explosion is unlikely. But that the first look at the telemetry suggests the tail moved into its re-entry configuration while the rocket was still firing. The cockpit video shows the co-pilot unlocked the tail controls, but didn't command it's deployment.

So the initial guess might be that the craft broke up due to aerodynamic forces it wasn't designed to cope with. But there's still loads to look at. Is the telemetry correct, did the tail deploy? Was there a problem with controls, software or maintenance? Does design need to be changed, so the tail can't be deployed by mistake? Or is this just a co-incidence, and something else happened?

So they'll try to correlate the telemetry with the configuration of the pieces they pick up from the ground. Then try and work out what was going on from that. They'll have tons of information to go through. Telemetry, physical examination of the wreck, manufacturing logs, maintenance logs (I guess roughly the same as this is the only prototype), whatever recorders the craft carried itself, and tons of other stuff.

It is rocket science.

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Russians hear Tim Cook is gay, pull dead Steve Jobs' enormous erection

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Re: Cheap dig

How come we lock up paedos then?

boltar,

We lock up paedos because you cannot have consensual sex with someone unable to legally give that consent. So even if that was a legitimate sexual orientation, as some people have argued, exercising it is automatically going to be illegal. It's also illegal to look at child-sex materials, because these have also been created without the necessary consent.

If you can't see the difference between this and the activities of consenting adults, then you need to go back and think about your opinions again properly.

As for homosexuality being normal, well define normal. It's a minority pursuit. But it's been with us for pretty much all of recorded history, and seems to be standard practise in lots of the large primates. So people can't exactly say it comes as a surprise...

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Would you recognise the Vans shoes logo? Neither would Euro trademark bods

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It appears "skate shoes" are for people who would like to go surfing but can't swim

Or it could be they're afraid of sharks...

Alternatively they've read 'Snow Crash', and are just waiting for someone to invent the portable magnetic harpoon, before going traffic surfing at ludicrous speeds.

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Devil

Whilst I prefer the ones with the roll of carpet, shovel, quickline and gaffer tape.

Thinks: I did tick anonymouse didn't I?

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Apple Watch buyers will feel 'different' after being 'serviced' in spring 2015

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Happy

I've bought you this overpriced Chinese-made gizmo that that will be unsupported and worthless in three years'

This worries me, about the Apple Watch. Not that they'll be binned after a bit, that's just a sad reflection on current consumerism. Not good for the environment and all that.

But there's a gold one. According to Apple's website it's solid gold, rather than plated. Which is by definition going to be obsolote, and even if it could be continually updated for ten years, it's got a built-in battery that'll stop working.

So are Apple about to branch out into Cash-m-iGold?

Or are they going to sell millions a year until world gold stocks are exhausted and Fort Knox is empty?

I predict that in 2030 a company will launch who's purpose is to mine old sock drawers...

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Pro-ISIS script kiddies deface West Yorkshire egg-chasers' site

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Happy

Massive miscalculation

It's all very well getting to paradise, ready to enjoy your 72 virgins. But it's not going to be much fun if a bunch of muscly lads with northern accents are kicking the shit out of you for buggering up their website...

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Google’s dot-com forget-me-not bomb: EU court still aiming at giant

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Re: Google goes into Kevin the Teenager Mode

Censoring of search results is the realm of Beijing or Moscow rather than somewhere that values free media.

Adam 1,

Sorry, but this argument is total bollocks. The old slippery slope argument.

Censoring search results in a minor way in order to protect individuals may or may not be the right legal decision. But it's far from state control of all media. If voters fall asleep at the wheel, perhaps it'll lead to such, if they also happen to elect politicians who want to start a dictatorship, with optional reign of terror. But so far we don't have those politicians. Or the electorate to vote for them. And anyway this judgement came from the courts, not the politicians.

It's an attempt to balance the freedom of the individual, with the right to information of society, and the rights of companies to make profits. It's obviously attempting to address the reality that individuals can't realistically issue take-down notices to every website, and so tries to short-cut the system by hitting the search engines. Whether it'll work is yet to be seen. Whether it's a good idea is up for debate. But whether it's going to lead to dictatorship is an easy one to answer - no it won't.

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Re: @Spartacus

Reread my comment. I did not suggest that they could avoid compliance by blocking their IP range. There is no inherent contradiction between compliance with the law and choosing who wish to offer your services to.

Adam 1,

This is true. However your comment did have the whiff of the Kevin the teenager "it's not fair" about it. Something I often see in commentary on legal disputes between internet companies and the law. And sometimes those comments come from the internet companies' bosses themselves...

There's obviously a lack of trust in politics at the moment. Which puts lawmakers at a PR disadvantage. Also, I don't think society has yet fully decided what the internet is for, and therefore what should be allowed and what should be banned. We're still in the internet wild west phase. Things are changing much too quickly for society, law or politics to keep up.

There's also a lot of utopianism out there. The kind that leads people to say things like, "information wants to be free", or "the internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it". That was all very well when the internet was young, full of academics and a small group of relatively well-off young-ish people. But the internet is big business now. And everyone can be on it. Which means crooks, children, little old ladies, global mega-corps, teenagers, advertising account executives, the whole lot. Will people put up with it being a total free-for-all? I doubt it. Will people demand regulation? I'm sure. Will other people complain about that regulation? That's politics. But the penalties of going mainstream are that the whole of society takes an interest, and then everyone wants their pound of flesh.

Finally, I find it hard to feel sympathy for Google. I don't understand the free-ride that some people seem to give them. Here we have a corporation that makes $10 billion a year. And yet their attitude to the law sometimes seems to be that it doesn't apply to us because... Internet. Like it's a magic word.

They've done lots of things that are good for society. And been well financially rewarded for it. The system has broadly worked in that sense. But their actions have had consequences. Some of those just to competitors. But sometimes effects on real people's privacy. Those people may need some kind of protection. Balancing the competing needs of different groups in society is what politics and the law are about. This whole area of law is going to be a problem for years.

For example, what are we going to do about the millions of teened kids who've posted compromising stuff on the internet, when they come to apply for jobs? Are we going to condemn them to have blighted careers so Facebook and Google can continue to have an easy life? Or are we going to ban companies from looking online when they hire? Those are the 3 choices I can see being available. Now in 20 years, this may be a moot point. Many HR people will have their own compromising pictures in their own past, and probably won't care. But HR people now aren't from that generation, and so didn't grow up with the internet - so their attitudes may not be so generous. That could leave us with a potentially huge social problem that either employers, the internet giants or governments will have to solve. So far the internet giants' attitude seems to be, we've got all your data and it's now ours to do with as we please. I can't see that lasting forever. If they don't cut back on the levels of hubris, then I foresee a painful reckoning, either with the politicians, the customers, or both.

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Re: Geo-location?

If I was Google I would drop all connections from ECJ offices in protest. Or pummel them with random massive streams of data through JavaScript to fill their pipe.

Or, I dunno, Google could just obey the law? Like the rest of us have to.

They're perfectly entitled to lobby to get it changed. Also like the rest of us. The difference being they've got squillions of dollars, and a big old collection of media and academic cheerleaders to back them (not all of whom they pay for themselves).

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Re: European ruling

In the end, you follow the money. The EU can easily rule on what happens under European domains. In the end, if some foreign company ignores your jurisdiction, you take their domain away. As that is within range of your courts.

At the other extreme, a company operating entirely outside of your jurisdiction and using a foreign domain is pretty hard to get at.

But the EU is a huge market of 500 million people. And Google makes much money selling advertising to companies that want to reach them. Many of these companies are in Europe. So there's a nice revenue stream for the legislators and courts to get at. Also Google employs many people here.

So Google is perfectly happy to ignore North Korea's instructions on what websites it can link to. There's no money or corporate presence. They pulled out of mainland China, to avoid the hassle of censorship. But China doesn't tell them what to put on Google.com, they simply (try to) block it at the border. Their leverage was limited, because Google didn't make that much cash in China.

In Europe, Google makes tens of billions a year. So it'll pay more taxes if it has to, and it'll comply with laws it doesn't like, if it's forced to. Because there's gold in them thar hills.

I guess the compromise may be that Google are forced to have a European version of their .com to go with their country specific domains. Which means you can get round it with a non-EU proxy.

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Me GIVE you $14 SQUILLION gadziddly-DILLION

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So I'm not the only one then

Rather than bulk deleting spam, I still find myself picking out the odd interesting nugget. I put it down to incurable nosiness.

So many of them are so boring and professional nowadays. It's rather disappointing. Just subject line of please see invoice, and then a nasty attachment. Where's the panache in that?

Whereas nothing can beat the emphasis that capital letters bring to a grammatically incorrect, appallingly spelled missive. Not just $10,000,000, or even ten million dollars. No, that's not exciting. Who would be attracted by something so boring and businesslike as that? But TEN MILLION DOLLARS just shouts MONEY!!!!

I carefully kept a favourite spam message for months. It was your bog standard nasty attachment, with a small paragraph to persuade you to open it. But amusingly they fell into the trap that so many of us have, they'd forgotten to attach the attachment. I wonder how many million they sent out, before they noticed?

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Samsung launches 'perfect pair' of skinny mid-range phones

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Re: Serious omission there

I'm a bit worried by Rear-cam Selfie mode. Particularly if it's combined with Wide Selfie. Put that with MPs, and you could be talking Eric Pickles...

Is the internet really ready for that?

I'm hoping that Palm Selfie is for getting the perfect shot of you, on a tropical beach. But I'm fearing that it's more for getting every hair in focus on all five knuckles, as they shuffle.

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So long, thanks for all the ...er, FISH BRIGHTER than boffins thought

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Re: Re:

Whilst all the fish have ever done, is swimming around in the ocean having a good time.

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Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST

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Re: A bit crowded on the Pad

Well why go to the expense of putting up permanent buildings there?

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Happy

Re: Explosive Economisation

Or you could reverse it, and say that Orbital got more buck for their bang...

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Happy

That's why the cow jumped over the moon.

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Re: Wallops is out of action

But what a picture. What a photograph.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: My well-known gayness is 'a gift from GOD'

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Re: Someone

Nah, I think you go downvoted for clicking on a headline that you obviously didn't care about, then presumably reading the story you didn't care about, then clicking on comments on an article you didn't care about, then typing and posting a comment to tell us that you didn't care about it, then clicking back on that comment to see if you'd been downvoted then coming back to the article to post about how you'd been downvoted for saying that you didn't care about the thing that you'd posted about...

That's an awful lot of not caring.

Plus you also forgot the first rule of downvote club. Don't talk about downvotes.

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UK consumers particularly prone to piss-poor patching

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Re: Stupid patching!

That's not how recent Flash versions auto update. Maybe the computer was really really out of date ?

Tom Chiverton,

Nope. My work and personal computers are always up-to-date. And on both I have to manually install Flash updates. As someone else said, it may be that not all releases require this, only point releases. So I'm not noticing when it works properly in the background, only when it upgrades to a new version.

However, even this is crap behaviour - because I'm not aware of any reason to be holding out on old versions of Flash. Unlike with Java.

Fortunately almost no-one who doesn't have a professional IT department needs Java anymore. So I can kill it with no problems. Although I believe there are countries where it's a requirement to use online banking. Which must make people feel oh so secure...

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FAIL

Stupid patching!

I really hate the way that Java, Flash and PDF do their updates. On all of them, you tick the box saying automatically update. And all this does is auto-download the update, then stick a little badge in the notification area that you then have to click on to manually run the damned patch. Just leaving them there doesn't ever seem to force them to run. Certainly whenever I go to fix a friend's PC, the first things I notice are the patches hanging around in their system tray. At least I can uninstall Java most of the time.

Why can't the bastards have proper patching? Other programs seem to manage it. It's not like they haven't got permission. Their setup checkboxes actually say they'll auto-install. And if they're worried, they could give the option that Windows Update does, of auto-install, or auto-download.

Flash is the worst. They put an auto-updater in, but all it seems to be is a link to their website. You click on the bugger, and it downloads the package for the latest version - which you then install as normal. Surely it's not rocket science?

Useless buggers!

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IT JOB OUTSOURCING: Will it ever END?

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Re: Perhaps sooner for IT.

I had planned to retire by 50, but successive governments have raided my pension and changed the law such that I must now work an extra 7 years, with nobody providing input on how I should be expected to make that happen with all the offshoring and agism that's rife.

Remember that social change is slow. When I was born in the early 70s, the average bloke was expected to live to about 76. So they'd be retired for 10 years. Now, forty years later, the average bloke from my cohort is expected to reach their mid 90s. That's an extra twenty years of life expectancy just magically appeared. And the expected pension has gone from 10 to 30 years!

Society just isn't good at coping with massively disruptive changes like this. And people don't want politicians who say, "you're going to have to work 10-15 years longer or double your pension savings". They want politicians who are going to pay for the pensions they feel they've earned.

It's going to be very difficult to earn enough in a 45 year career to pay for a pension that's getting increasingly close to the same length of time. But we all grew up with the expectations that our parents' generation had about life. And so we have struggled to change what we grew up "knowing" about when we should retire, and when people get "old". Hence we still seem to be stuck with this bizarre ageism, at the same time that we're all thinking we're going to have to work until we're older, and we've supposedly got shortages of young people to keep the economy running. The obvious answer being employ and train people who are older, as they're going to live, and be healthy, longer.

How long until society catches up? Attitudes have barely changed in my experience. Yet these demographic changes are huge. I guess it's because people don't talk about this sort of long-term stuff much.

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Facepalm

Re: After last week...

John Sanders,

Which word?

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Re: Relative

Tim,

I don't see the problem with oxidisation. So your statue turns a nice pink colour. Lovely.

Obviously the price is a bit more of an issue. But if you're going to be the global scandium monopolist, then you need to make a dramatic gesture. Lowering the price might create more demand, so it's up to you to go and find more sources of the stuff. Then turn it into a nice statue, laugh your diabolical laugh... Profit.

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Re: Development is Uneven

thames,

Africa is getting much richer already. For example quite a few countries haven't employed sufficient economists. So they've been guessing their GDP based on surveying a few big companies, and then guessing the rest. This was based on the idea of having this level of subsistence agriculture that only supported limited services, and basically hadn't changed much in years/decades/centuries. Several countries have now re-assessed this, Nigeria being one big example, and discovered that they now have a lot more trade going on than they thought.

For example lots of goods (sometimes second hand from the West) like clothes and mobile phones now get right to even the remotest villages. This is why whenever you see documentaries that take cameras into the middle of rainforests, loads of people are wearing the same Chinese, Vietnamese and Banglasdeshi made tshirts as everyone else in the world.

Globalisation is still going. Not that it won't be a bumpy ride. If the next door country suddenly becomes rich, and your repressive government is seen not to be letting you join the party, then revolution looks attractive. But revolution doesn't always lead to a better government. The French are on their 5th Republic, plus having had 3 Empires and an ancien regime - all since the 1780s. Just going from memory, they went through serveral revolutions and 15 different constitutions between 1789 and 1870.

On the other hand, only a few countries have managed to jump into the "1st World" camp in the last 50 years. Not that anyone calls it that anymore. Lots have got into the middle-income group though. Which is a much nicer place to be than the other alternative. It'll be interesting to see if globalisation will improve things for them, or leave them where they are. Countries like Chile, Brazil, Argentina (who are the only one I can think of to drop out of the top group last century), Thailand etc.

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Re: Transport costs

Remember that Germany is the world's second biggest exporter of stuff, and yet has some of the highest environmental and employment standards.

I suspect that economies of scale and the network effects of having an industry in once place, and therefore support services, hit the law of diminishing returns at a certain point. So any reasonably sized industry is able to have more than one base of operations, without much loss in efficiency.

The relevant factors are changing so fast that it's hard to keep track. Cost of dealing with difficult governments, wages, transport, environmental standards, availability of sufficiently educated staff etc.

Remember though that not everything is transported. People always sneer at the services sector. I guess because they think of waiters and call centres. But services can also be incredibly high value. I speak to building design people in the Middle East all the time, even though our company is based in South East England. This is because most of their architecture and building engineering is done by British and American companies. They've even outsoursed the building regulations. I don't think the Saudis or UAE even bother with building regs, they simply specify on the contract that the building conform to US or UK regs, depending on the company that gets the job. To my eternal shame, I did some of the design for one the Eurovision venues...

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Remember the caveat on equalisation was that it would be more like pre-industrial revolution equality. Where no part of the world was more than say 5 times better off than any other. As opposed to the 50 times that happened over the preceeding couple of centuries.

This rought equality might mean the average wage in every country being no lower than say $5k - $10k, in today's prices. Which is achieveable much more easily than getting every country in the world up to Western standards of living. That's what, Western living standards from the 50s and 60s?

At which point transport and set-up costs come into things at least as much as wage costs. But specialisation is likely to happen, at least in some industries. Take Silicon Valley for example. Wages can be incredibly high there, even compared to just moving down the road within California, or to another state. But there's an infrastructure of universities, lawyers, venture capitalists and specialist services. Plus people who've done it before, and an expectation that you can start your own company. Or London and insurance. Or Malaysia and hard disk manufacture.

It doesn't mean you'll necessarily end up with just one place in the whole world where an industry specialises. But it might be just a few areas, and so everyone else will outsource to one of those.

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Re: Relative

Tim,

Couldn't you at least have had a statue of yourself made out of scandium...

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BONFIRE of the MEGA-BUCKS: $200m+ BURNED in SECONDS in Antares launch blast

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Re: DARK STAR

Surely you just cut a hole in the side of the station (or open a window?), and stick your rear end into the vacuum of space. Then your bottom will come back in pristine, clean and smooth as a baby's.

No need for space toilets, or space loo-roll.

Can I have my Nobel Prize now please?

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China lunar mission readies for return to Earth

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Re: Probably fake

Don't be silly! Of course the moon exists.

It's just that there was a huge explosion in 1999 - that sent it hurtling through space. And the government has been covering this up ever since.

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Amazon hopes FIRE STICK will light up its video service

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Re: I loaded the PS3 Amazon player the other day.

Can't you sign up for a month's free trial of Prime, and then cancel after you've watched the show?

I've had at least 2 free trials of Prime over the years, when it was just cheap postage, and Amazon have offered it to me again this year.

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I was rather impressed with Google Chromecast. I needed a quick and dirty solution to watch American Football, as my brother was coming over. I could have lugged the computer over to the sitting room, but I also want to watch iPlayer on it. I used to have Sky, but cancelled. Now I have a Chromcast button on the BBC iPlayer app on my iPad. Access to Netflix, should I choose to sign up plus YouTube and other things, should I care.

The NFL Gamepass app doesn't yet support Chromecast, so it was a quick walk to the office, bung on the PC, launch the video player, tell Chrome to turn it back into a normal browser window by right-clicking, and there was the chromcast button. I admit that's not the best, and some proper old-schook standing up from your chair, instead of a remote control. But I could have set up the tablet for RDP, if I hadn't been hitting the margaritas with my mexican (yum).

One of the faults, back when I read the first reviews of Chromecast, was how limited it was. I'm sure that's still the case, but when the NFL turned out to have not got round to supporting it, like they'd promised, it was a matter of a few minutes to get the PC to do the job instead. I'm impressed. Especially for a £30 gadget.

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Arrrr GOSH! Argos website goes titsup to make it EVEN BETTER

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Re: Seriously?

When the invisible man's sleepin' in your bed - Who ya gonna call?

And how are they gonna get there, if they're unable to buy their Ghostbusters costume from Argos?

This are events of earth-shattering importance!

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Painfully trendy: Someone just spent $200k on ebola.com

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Devil

I've paid for the site. I've decided it's time to join the online gambling boom. Poker is passe, roulette is silly, what we need is a new online game.

I propose Tombola!

Now I can't trademark that. So my online tombola is of course called an ebola. How was I to know that I'd suddenly get all this competition for my trademark? Can I sue a virus?

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