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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3446 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Achtung NIMBYs! BT splurges extra £50m on fibre broadband rollout

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Nimby here

Well, there are two sides to every story.

Our ancestors did indeed bury lots of infrastructure. They've lost some of it too. I've been involved in projects in London where we know there are sewers and water pipes, we just don't know where. Which makes connecting to them quite difficult. Plus you have to close some pretty big roads in order to get at them.

5 years ago I reported noise on my line to BT. Lots of it. They investigated, and found damp in the cables. I was rather embarrassed when I walked out of my house to find one of the 4 main roads into my town had been closed - and there was a nice 2 mile traffic jam. Which I was walking alongside thinking I hope these guys don't realise it's my fault. Got my phone fixed though, so it wasn't all bad...

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If your telco or mobe provider hikes 'fixed' contract fees you can now ESCAPE - Ofcom

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Re: @ I ain't Spartacus

I presume your "democracy is to blame" point is also an attempt at 'satire'.....

Only partially. Cameron isn't responsible for the decisions of Ofcom, which is indepenent. Although he is responsible for its existence, as he's PM. So if he doesn't like what it's doing, he can kill it. So you can argue he's overall responsible. Although that's pretty silly for a policy decision as minor as this, where the whole point of independent regulators was to take this kind of decision away from politicians.

Also Cameron did want to kill Ofcom in his bonfire of the Quangos. But the Lib Dems said no. So the voters are more responsible for this decision than Cameron. But of course neither are really responsible at all. Not that I think it's a bad decision.

You're the one that justified your anti-Cameron comments as 'the uncomfortable truth', not me. So I assumed you meant it seriously.

As for your, 'all politicians are a bunch of cunts' crap, no they aren't. Some are, others aren't. Some are useless, some good, some self-serving some do their best for what they believe to be right. Some a mix of some/all of the above.

I know it's fashionable to say all politicians are the same, and they're all greedy and crap. But in fact it doesn't make you sound deliciously cynical, experienced and wise. It puts you in the Russel Brand talentless wanker who hasn't managed to rise above teenage level debating points level of political awareness.

I'll agree the Miliband comment was irrelevant to the topic. Although slightly more justified, as it was little differentn to his intervention on the energy industry - which is economically illiterate. And desperately cynical, given that a large chunk of the cost rises he's complaining about directly relate to the climate change levy that he brought in himself as Sec State for Energy less than 5 years ago.

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Re: Since when did any government actually take responsibility for it's actions?

The Foreign Office team resigned over the Falklands. They specifically did take responsibility. Even though it was at least a decade or two of Foreign Office and MOD policy neglect that encourange the Junta to think they could get away with the invasion. That one was at least as much down to the advice the politicians were receiving - as to the decisions they were making. There were warnings within the FCO of Argentina's intentions but they were ignored and not passed on up the chain.

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Re: downvotes

"posting an unconfortable truth that I just can't process"

I think you may be over-estimating the quality of your own post here...

As happens Ofcom are independent of government so it's isn't Cameron's responsibility anyway. That is rather the point of having regulators relatively independent of political interference. One could argue that it's the voters fault - as Conservative pre-election policy was to abolish Ofcom. However the Lib Dems didn't let them. As the voters didn't give the Conservatives an outright majority at the election, perhaps they wanted to save Ofcom?

Anyway, if you were playing the 'uncomfortable truth' card in your post, perhaps it would have done better without the attempts at 'satire'...

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Re: O2

If they do it honestly and upfront, that's a good thing. Inflation does happen. There's no reason telcos shouldn't be able to put their prices up. It would be easier if they only did 12 month contracts, but then people wanted to lump £500 handsets in with their contracts, and didn't fancy paying £45 a month on top of their call costs.

If on the other hand they bury it in the small print, and don't put it in big letters at the top, then they're probably in breach of the unfair terms in consumer contracts laws.

Ofcom's job is to make things fair and transparent. It's not their job abolish inflation.

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I doubt it. Only if they put it upfront on the contract, say: 24 month contract £9.99 per month for the first year, followed by +inflation for year 2. If they hide it in the Ts&Cs, which is what they did before, then I very much doubt they can get away with it. The point is that they're selling a fixed-length, fixed-price contract with penalties if you try to leave early. So they shouldn't be allowed to change it either.

The sensible thing to do would be to sell all airtime contracts as SIM only. Then people could sort out their own phones, and maybe wouldn't upgrade quite so much. And would at least know the financial cost they were incurring for doing so, even if they'd still be free to ignore the environmental cost. But I think many people prefer their 'free' phones.

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French drug dealers regretfully announce 'temporary closure'

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Re: Allô ?

Certainly French needs to lighten up and evolve a bit. And as you say, that's exactly what's happening. Le weekend is just more convenient. And no language should be forced to stick with quatre-vingt-dix. The Belgians do perfectly well with nonante.

I must say though, there are quite a few horrible imports. 'Le ferry boat' sounds like the childrens' TV writers have taken over the announcements and sign-writing.

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Apple: That 'white screen of death' nightmare? We'll fix it... AT SOME POINT

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Re: I can't say that I've noticed any problems with WiFi

I've not noticed it on my iPhone, becuase that's also connected to the 4G network, but the 2 iPads I've had have been the flakiest network devices I've ever owned.

It's much improved over the iPad 1, where you pretty much had to give it a fixed IP address in order to make it stay on any network for more than 2 minutes. A big issue when trying to use it on networks you don't control. It took Apple 3 months to fix that bug. Then when the iPad got updated to iOS 4, the bug returned, and it had to be given a fixed IP again for a couple of months.

Nothing's been that bad since. But still, every time you use it for any length of time, you'll click on a link, nothing will happen,,and you'll look to the top left corner to see there's no radio signal for a second or two. My current iPad 3 never seems able to maintain a connection to my Bluetooth speaker for more than an hour either, without quickly dropping off for a nap. But I've never found Bluetooth to be reliable - so I'm less inclined to blame Apple for that one.

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Facebook will LOSE 80% of its users by 2017 – epidemiological study

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They do this because the first person who showed them the internet showed them this way and they never learnt any better.

I've shown several people what the address bar is, how to type into it, and how to bookmark the pages they go to all the time. I can only think of one of those people who has any bookmarks saved in their browser...

Google have only built the staggering number of data centres they have because every few months their search supercomputer becomes self aware and gets incredibly pissed off with all the idiots asking it where they can find facebook.com, goes beserk and decides to destroy the human race. So Google have to disconect it and build another datacentre and start the process all over again, because they don't know if the old one is safe to re-use.

Eventually this will end with the whole world being covered in useless Google datacentres which are too hideously dangerous to re-use, the death of the human race at the hands of our computer overlords, or users like my Mum being educated into using the address bar and bookmarks.

I'm betting on the end of the human race...

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'Netflix bitch': CEO of vid-streaming site taunts HBO chief over results

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Unhappy

I've borrowed nearly a billion dollars of your clients' money, but don't worry! I'm down wit da kidz, and can use the word bitch - which makes me like cool innit. So of course I can pay it back. I understand my market.

What do you mean I only make 5% of our total loan stock in profits each year? I'm a sober and serious businessman, look at my suit. And my professional manner in important business meetings...

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Office 365 Microsoft's fastest growing business, ever - Microsoft

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Re: How would you "sell" LibreOffice? Its free.

Everyone else here lives and breathes Outlook. The shared calendaring, email invites and all that stuff. Like the iPhones, if I were to suggest getting rid of either the sales people would have kittens. Or just push me out the window...

I'm also a bit disturbed by our reseller above, who seems to be saying I'll give the client the product that makes me the most profit. That's as bad as dealing with the financial industry - all those 'independent' brokers and high street banks trying to steal as much of your cash as possible - and fuck the quality of the product you end up with.

In my opinion MS Office is still better than OO/LO. Partly because I love Excel and dislike Calc. Plus I quite like the ribbon for everyday use (it's more annoying when you do the esoteric stuff). But our OP should have been recommending Libre Office to lots of his customers already. The ones who don't worship Outlook, and Excel with extra macros. And should still be pushing Office at the rest. Then charging for the time to set up and the expertise. I've advised a couple of friends and acquaintences on very small business IT, because I've done the research for our company, and they've all had bad experiences with local resellers/IT companies. They at least know that I'm not recommending them the most expensive thing because of the cash I'll make off it. But it would be better all round if they were using, and trusting, their local IT shop.

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Re: How would you "sell" LibreOffice? Its free.

Except Libre/Open Office don't have an equivalent to Outlook. As much as I've always personally disliked Outlook - having a proper email and calendar client can be incredibly important. There doesn't seem to be any decent alternative to Outlook, and in my experience of using it Google calendar isn't even half as good.

Once you're using Outlook, you may as well use Office. It would be nice for our chappie to make a profit out of it, but he'll have to make his profit on the value he brings to his clients. Like with a lot of hardware, the client can go online and get it for about what a reseller can. What the business needs is advice on what to buy and then someone to set it up and provide maintenance and/or training.

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Re: Fish in barrels @ I ain't Spartacus

Tom 13,

Paranoia is your friend here. You have to keep an independent copy of your data off the cloud. In case the cloudy people go nuts on you and destroy everything.

So we've got a cloudy accounts package, but I have paper and electronic backups of our VAT returns, invoicing, bank records and receipts. As well as offline backups provided by the cloudy provider should they lose our data but be still up-and-running and able to recover. Depending on how horribly things go wrong, I'm in a position to fix it with from half an hour to a week's work. That's good enough.

With some basic work, it should be possible to ensure similar protection with Office 365. Although it would be nice if all cloud providers would have a system where they would send you (or allow you to download) a backup from their system like our accounts providers do - as it would reassure the paranoid.

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Re: fuck off

And if you are rural, like we are, with a less than adequate ADSL service, what are you expected to do when BT are looking for a wind-induced line fault? Twiddling thumbs does not keep a business moving.

David Goadby,

Local storage. Outlook allows a local copy of all emails on an Exchange server to be stored on the computer. Office 365 allows the option of storing documents on the PC, on Skydrive or both.

Our office network connection is rubbish. High latency and lots of dropped packets. One reason we don't have our server onsite now anyway.

If your network is an issue, get a 4G WiFi router as a backup. No network means no emails anyway, whether you use cloud or not. When the network was down here for 3 days, we just diverted the phones and worked from home. When the network was down at our current IT providers, we did without email. If you can't do without email, and you're a small business, then you're doomed. There is no option you can afford that's robust enough to keep you up 24/7.

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Re: fuck off

MacGyver,

In our case, we have 6 employees. 3 are road-warriors, I'm office based, and 2 work from home. A NAS is therefore no use to us, as well as not being an email/calendar server. It's a perfectly fine option for some small companies who just forget to back up. Although it's no help if there's a lightning strike that kills all the hard disks in the building, or a fire in the office.

As for the price, it's currently going down. Not sure how long that will carry on of course. But most of the cloudy options can be done in-house. They were just too expensive for very small companies with no IT people. OEM Office bought with each new PC is £150-odd a time. Laptops maybe last 4 years if you're lucky. Still cheaper. But by Office 365 I meant the £15 per user per month option, that also gives an Exchange and Lync server, plus document sharing. Not sure how useful Lync will turn out to be. But I'm seriously considering Office 365 at that price.

What is a company really worth if the only thing they own are chairs and desks.

How would our company be any better if we were the chairs, desks and the IT? We're none of those things. We are the company. All the value in the company is our reputation for giving good technical advice in a niche area and our skill and knowledge at doing it. Why we exist is because certain building engineers trust that when they pick up the phone to us, we can solve their technical problems. If that stops, no amount of complicated technology will save us.

I guess our database of contacts is worth something - and putting that in the cloud is a risk. But it has to be internet facing for us to use it, and we've got fewer security skills available to us than Microsoft or Google. And less expertise in backup and recovery.

It's an issue of comparitive risk. Very few companies with less than 20 employees have the ability to do a better job of IT than even a mediocre cloud provider.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Good luck with that when....

Rubbish. If you're operating somewhere where power or networking is an issue, then the cloud is obviously not a viable solution. If you're an ordinary company operating in an ordinary town - this isn't a problem. If there's no power, computer doesn't work. So network outage isn't an issue.

Office 365 allows local copies of emails and documents on your machine. So network congestion should be no more of an issue, as that email will only be transmitted to your PC once either way. Obviously it's a major problem if you're using it to allow hot-desking...

My company actually has an office with unreliable networking. Cabling in the town centre is old, and fibre upgrades would mean digging up the whole town centre. Our network is too crap to allow us to host the company's server here, as we're a mix of sales, office and home-workers. So cloud with local copies is the best we can manage, whatever we do.

There are many good reasons to be wary and suspicious of cloudy options. It's horses for courses. If national power and network infrastructure become unreliable in a few years (which won't happen because we can always reverse the green taxes and go back to burning coal) - then you've no better chance of running local servers than some datacentre has.

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Re: Fish in barrels @ I ain't Spartacus

MissingSecurity,

SMEs have to run more risk than large organisations. If we had all the insurance and back-up required to guarantee our existence, we'd be too expensive and go bust. That's life. And the price of flexibility.

I've advised friends who have small companies to go cloudy. Simply because they don't have the skills to manage IT risk, even though they do have the resources. IT is a very useful component that they simply don't understand. So they're better taking the risk that a company staffed by people who do understand some of the issues won't cock up, because they'll assuredly screw something up themselves. In an imperfect world, cloudy solutions are now cheaper than the alternatives for very small companies, and companies that size don't spend more than a few thousand a year on IT.

Obviously the BOFHs will be suspicious of the cloud. It's unlikely to be as flexible as they can be - and it's a threat to their jobs. At least if it's as good as the service they can provide for less cash. It's all going to come down to business size. Watching the idiots at Sainsbury's outsource their stock control IT, and then expensively brining it back in-house being a case in point. Why outsource one of the most vital components of your business? Madness! At least if you can afford the alternative. Our CRM is equally vital to the company now, but we don't have the cash or expertise to run it ourselves. So we'd either have to massively expand the company to be able to split the cost over many more sales people, or accept that we're a niche player - and accept the risk.

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Re: fuck off

I'm slightly surprised ISP's haven't cottoned-on to the managed service thing.

P. Lee,

I'm not. The ISPs, and mobile network providers too, are well aware that they want to get in on the value of what goes over their networks. They'd love to muscle in on the action, and share some of the moolah. But they just seem to be too incompetent to manage it.

It's such a universal thing, that I guess it must partly be down to the character of the companies. Big Telcos tend to be risk averse and cautious - lest they screw up very expensive and critical infrastructure. Plus full of necessary bean-counters as what they do takes investment over such long periods.

Whereas software companies can be full of fly-by-night chancer types, as software can be relatively quick to develop, the market changes faster, and the overheads are much, much less. So you can ignore the accountants for longer, and let the salesmen, the marketeers or the techies run the company.

\Many people complain about companies run by bean-counters. Often rightly. But of the groups I'd trust less to manage anything than a bean-counter, I'd personally put sales, marketing and techies at the top of the list...

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Re: Fish in barrels

Paul,

I agree with most of that. We've got an online accounts package (not my personal choice), and it changes all the time. Mostly for the better. But I find it a bit of a worry that they play so fast and loose with it.

On the subject of data migration though, there's good money in that for the resellers. And other than moving to a new cloud provider, I can't see much of it happening. Sure features may get dropped, and software will change, but I very much doubt that they'll be orphaning huge chunks of data that have been put on the system. Not unless they go bust anyway.

As an example, I'm told that upgrading from MS Exchange 2003 is really rather difficult, and you're probably better of just setting up from scratch and importing the data in. I'm sure MS will make big changes in various new versions of Exchange, but I can't see them seting up a situation like that again now they're hosting loads of users on Office 365 - or at least if they do, I'd imagine they'll write better migration tools.

Also cloud vendors don't have the same pressure to keep pumping out new versions of the software. Because they're hopeing to move to a nice permanent revenue stream. Of course, this may create the opposite problem. Of stagnation, rather than too much change. But you're less likely to have the issues that often happen now when upgrading software to the newest version. The fact that the vendors are now supporting their own software on a major scale may well improve their whole attitude to testing and upgrading. As firslty, they've got more information on what the customers are doing, and secondly, when the excrement impacts the whirling blades, they'll be on the hook for fixing it.

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Re: Fish in barrels

I'm genuinley interested to know why my comment got downvoted. I admit it's not the most coherent bit of writing I've done, but it mostly agrees with the (upvoted) comment above that the resellers don't look to be getting much advantage from this.

I did point out that there are (or may be) shiny opportunities for really small businesses to get IT they couldn't previously afford. But that doesn't seem controversial either...

I'm confused. A comment often makes far more contribution to an interesting discussion than a vote.

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Re: Fish in barrels

It's all getting massively cheaper. At least looking at it, as I do, from the point of view of a company with under 10 employees. Loads of stuff that we couldn't even imagine doing ten years ago is now possible, and easily within our budget. I don't know how this relates to the costs of companies big enough to have IT departments.

It's got to hurt the resellers. Although there could be upsides. The market will get bigger, as smaller companies can now afford stuff. But it's all going to be set-up and hand-holding. And I suspect small businesses are going to be even more cheapskate about paying for IT advice than they previously were about paying for software. Why pay for Office, when you can get some mate to put a pirated copy on your computer, and hope for the best?

But then the cloud providers are going to be hoovering up all the cash. As they're doing all the ongoing maintenance, and presumably as the Cloud software will be permanently kept at the latest version, they'll be no data migration to do. So the only consulting to sell will be whether to move to a new, shinier product - and migrate to another provider.

Plus the boring work of keeping laptops and desktops going. As I say, I don't know the economics for bigger companies. But I guess the cloudy boys will hoover up all the gains as really small businesses start using IT services they previously couldn't even dream of operating.

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Re: fuck off

For a lot of small businesses, hosting offsite is the only sensible option. Whether run by a spotty oik or not...

Even if they host the server, most of them aren't capable of running it, so they're going to have some spotty oik from their local IT shop remote desktopping in to set it up and/or fix it.

For our company, as an example, there are 6 of us. The best IT expertise is me. I can keep oru PCs going easily enough. I've got the experience to fix most problems, and usually an idea of what to look for when not. But I'm not qualified to play with servers. Again I've no fear that I couldn't find out a lot of the answers online, or go and do some training. But I'm paid to design and configure water systems, not IT systems. Plus I'd be using those skills so infrequently that I'd be forgetting stuff, almost as fast as I learned it.

For companies of our size, it's simply not sensible to have an IT deparment. But there's a lot of utility to be gained from IT. We can massively improve our marketing, project managent and communications with relatively modest investments in IT. But we're going to be at the mercy of whatever provider we use. However there's no choice in that, it's simply a choice of providers. You can deal with someone local, small and flexible (as we currently do) or go with one of the big boys. Then you're trading better kit and expertise for flexibility, and the chance to do a deal on a handshake.

For the same money we currently pay our local company, we can have Office 365, which gives us hosted Exchange, no need for a server and the latest version of Office - so we never have to buy a license again. Plus we get online document collaboration, One Note and Lync, which may or may not turn out to be useful for us. Of course, the 365 servers have been down a few times, but then so has our local firm. We can live with that.

Compared with a lot of people I know running small businesses, I'm an IT genius (which I'm not btw). If they want anything more complicated than two tin cans connected by a piece of string, then they need decent firms who can tell them what's available, then set everything up for them - with good cloudy comopanies. Hopefully at not too hideous rates. For these people the risk of the cloud provider going kaput, or screwing up, is far less than the risk of themselves forgetting to back up for a year or two. Or doing something unspeakable to their own hardware. Which is where decent resellers could come in, hold their hands and pick the best cloudy options - while making sure they've got some sort of outside back-up and their data isn't held hostage.

The benefits of cloudy CRM, group email / calendaring and accounts software are amazing for a lot of really small companies. But 5 years ago, really hard to achieve for most of them. Now it's amazing what you can have. It's all pretty cheap though, so I'm not sure there's much to excite the resellers.

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Reading this headline? You and 9.47 million others

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Happy

Re: Will it blend?

That's good work. How many sausages does that make?

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Re: Will it blend?

If you removed all the intestines of all the Register readership, how far would they stretch? That's the figure we want to know. As if they've worked it out, we know to get round their offices sharpish, and burn them down.

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Pint

It's about time they shared some of this lovely cash with the users then. After all, without us there wouldn't be any lovely moolah.

Oi! El Reg! When's the party?

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Devil

Re: Uniques?

That just makes you extra unique.

Every reader truly is a special snowflake...

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El Reg preps relaunch of Cash’n’Carrion online merchandise emporium

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The El Reg Lewis Page Dartboard [tm]. A perfect gift for your green friends, or anyone working for a large defence contractor...

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I'm not the T-Shirt type

If El Reg are setting this up again in order to fulfill a frequent request for t-shirts, then good luck to them. That's not really my bag. But if people want it and ask for it, they'd be silly not to.

I buy useful gadgets like torches and portable screwdriver sets and the like - along with USB sticks. I tend to stuff my laptop bag full of useful crap like that, and am always able to fix friends' computers and my glasses as a consequence. I fixed the interviewer's glasses when I went for a job once, with the jewellers screwdriver I carry. Got the job too...

If El Reg bought some of those nice little gadgets, of which there are loads around (some cheap crap some great), I'm sure they could sell them. Buy in reasonable bulk and slap a logo or slogan on them, they shoudln't cost much more than we could buy them for. I'd be interested in a small selection of that sort of thing. Don't know about my fellow commentards though.

P.S. the tickboxes in your survey are way too small, and not near the text or at the end of the grey bars the question text is on. Could you not make them more obvious?

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Obvious Innit

Surely what El Reg should be selling us are spaceplanes. Or even tickets to orbit.

Plus a small sideline in Playmobil re-enactments of famous historical scenes to hang on the bathroom wall.

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Nokia's Android? It's not for the likes of us…

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Watching Skype resume (and knowing it is hit or miss as to whether or not you received any notifications, while Skype was in the background) is painful.

It's not Microsoft's fault if some crappy app, written by some fly-by-night company doesn't work as it's supposed to do. Especially when its requirements weren't known to the OS designers, so they could design round it.

Oh hang on...

The Facebook and Twitter integration in the People Hub is excellent (if you like that sort of thing). In fact the People Hub is just excellent, and was my favourite feature of Win Pho. How MS managed to not build Skype into the OS as well is a total mystery to me. I guess that they were trying to keep the operators sweet, but seeing as the operators seem to have been actively working against Windows Phone, I don't see why MS didn't tell them to 'go take a running jump', and build Skype into the phone totally seamlessly. And hopefully better than Apple's sometimes weird and confusing implemetation of Facetime - which is sometimes great, but sometimes behaves very strangely indeed.

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Re: Windows everywhere, and not a fire escape in sight

Sure, Nokia had all those different OSes bubbling away in R&D. But none of them could be counted as a plan B, because none of them were anywere close to market. Partly because nobody in management seems to have been able to prioritise, and get any of them out of long-term R&D and into some kind of production pipeline.

So Elop had a real lack of choices. Even the update to Asha, that Nokia had been working on in various ways for years didn't arrive any quicker than they got Windows Phone to market.

I assume he could have got Android to market as quick (or quicker) than Windows Phone, but decided that wasn't the right option. So you can criticise him legitimately for that, but it's impossible to know which would have worked out best. For the shareholders I suspect MS did, as they got a $2 billion subsidy from MS to tide them over the lean period, and then the phone division sold to MS - neither of which would have happened had they gone Android.

The other thing that I might criticise Elop for was not having the guts to try and restructure Nokia's management and force through whichever one of their systems he thought best. Surely as a CEO you ought to have faith in your ability to make the company you're in charge of do as you tell them? But to be fair to him, he may have decided that there wasn't anything that could be ready for market in 12 - 18 months. Plus the same problem of lack of ecosystem due to low market share would have happened with their own system, as has with Win Pho. Only worse. And with no support from MS, or $2 billion smackeroos to help ease the pain.

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Re: Royalty free

It may well be that the benefit is volume and chips. Because MS only have one vendor working at the low-end with Windows Phone (Nokia), the chip-makers probably limit their effort in that direction. Windows Phone is only certified for a limited number of chips.

So if there are loads of Androids being made at these super low prices, then there will be a much greater chance of chip makers developing a super-cheap SoC. Which probably won't work with Windows, but will with Android. If you're trying to sell a phone for $60 then a cheaper chip, that's lower power and allows a cheaper battery, suddenly is a killer feature. The lack of suitable chips may be forcing Nokia to sell their Asha phones (or any Windows alternative) for a few dollars more.

Obviously a fist full of dollars makes a big difference in the very price-sensitive emerging market. That's the good the bad and* the ugly truth.

*I'll get my coat. It started as an accident, and I couldn't stop myself. Honest!

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Pregnant? Celebrate your proudest moment ... by 3D-printing a copy of the foetus

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Stop

Re: If I had to choose...

Now that really would be bad. Not content with showing your baby photos to potential girlfriends, parents could have the ultimate weapon in the family embarrassment wars. Let's put on the DVD of your conception... Eek!

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Lenovo Yoga 10: Mediocre tech, yes, but beautifully fondleable

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It's a nice tablet. I was playing with one over Christmas, and it's the first tablet in a while that's stirred the gadget-lust in me, and endangered the credit card.

The iPad Air is nice, and the weight loss over my iPad 3 is a temptation, but not enough to seriously disturb the moths in my wallet. The Samsungs with pens are all nice, but expensive and with a messy user interface. The Lenovo Yoga laptop is also very pretty, and looks and feels lovely. I'd love to see them do a 10" Android one, if it could be almost as small as this - but I guess the keyboard makes it too big for prolonged one-handed use [fnarr, fnarr]. But I've not owned an Android device since 2.2 and my old underpowered Wildfire - and I want to get a cheapish one to play with.

Anyway, congrats to Lenovo for thinking a bit differently. It really does feel very nice in the hand, which is important in a tablet or phone. It's also got that feeling of design elegance. By which I mean it looks pretty and feels nice, but you know that this has been achieved without sacrificing practicality. So it's satisfying in a way that so many things fail to be, when they try too hard to look good.

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SPAM supposedly spotted leaving the fridge

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Happy

Just goes to show "the internet of things" is a load of bollocks.

Oh shit! Does it? When are they going to implant chips in those?

Will they be able to post on forums independent of the rest of me? I guess that might explain 4chan anyway...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Trollface

Re: Always keep you spam inside the fridge

Never take the spam out of the tin. It's disgusting! The only use for those huge tins of the stuff is to beat burglars to death with. Or to give to Vera Lynn if she happens to pop round for tea and a sing-song - and fancies some spam fritters.

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Mexican drink-driver shopped to cops - by his own gobby parakeet

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We used to have a car alarm songbird where I lived. Obviously one too many had gone off, so he'd learnt to imitate them. Suddenly the dawn chorus isn't quite so romantic, when one of them is beeping and wailing.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

How does a parakeet pronounce @...

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Hosting outfit goes PERMANENTLY TITSUP after 'lifetime' plans kill biz

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Devil

Re: "It's not remotely possible...

There is an alternative way to make lifetime deals sustainable. A business model equally open to web hosting or annuity companies. Simply hire an assassin, and you can really keep the recurring costs down of your lifetime deals...

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Two websites you should show your boss if you want to be paid in Bitcoin

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Re: Alternatively...

Which leads to another problem. If you're going through this scheme to get your Bitcoins because it's such a hassle to buy them, then it's going to be equally difficult to sell them afterwards.

This isn't a problem if you're getting them to spend on stuff. But if you're getting them as an investment, which a lot of people who promote Bitcoin on forums are, then you've still got exactly the same problem. Only worse, becuase you've now got your money tied up in a volatile and high risk asset.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Sign me up!!

You don't want your salary paid in an unregulated start up currency.

So you're OK with a currency where unelected people simply print more and more, thereby diluting the value of the money in your pocket every time they do this.

Yes.

If the dollar economy collapses, then Bitcoins are as fucked as everything else. The world economy will grind to a halt, many governments will collapse, there'll be no bail-outs, my savings will be destroyed in whatever form I've made them (gold may be slightly less disastrous than anything else), and life will become rather difficult for a while. The same for sterling, but on a smaller global scale. As a British resident the effect will be equally horrific for me though.

As to central banks being un-elected, that's pretty much irrelevant. Congress just had an approval hearing for the head of the Fed. They had quite a big input, as Yellen was preferred over Larry Summers - who basically pulled out of the race, even though Obama probably wanted him, because he wouldn't get through the hearings.

Or we can look to Japan, where the new government just told their Central Bank to do as it was bloody well told. It whimpered a bit, for all of 2 months, then the governer resigned, and was replaced with the Prime Minister's choice. Hence Abenomics - not Kurodanomics... The European Central Bank mostly wants to do QE, but doesn't dare because the German government won't let it.

Central bank independence is a tightrope. Mostly the idea is to stop the politicians from lowereing interest rates just before elections, to get some cheap feel-good popularity. That mostly works. When the shit hits the fan, the Central Bankers come into line. Hence the ECB have allowed the inflation rate to drop below 1%, miss the target and risk deflation, because they're more scared of the German government than they are of the others.

Talking of deflation, that's what money printing was for. It doesn't look to have been a disaster. The current asset bublle and uncertainty over the taper is preferable to the deflation that not printing money would have caused. Deflation would have led to defaults on a massive scale. So it looks to have been a price wroth paying.

Plus QE isn't printing money. At least not technically. The fiction is that it can be later un-wound. My suspicion is it'll get slowly, and guiltily, written-off. But it's a trick that can be pulled off once every 50 years or so. Probably with relatively little damage to the economy.

Anyway, the Central bankers aren't really the problem. It's the politicians. Governments ran up all the debt, and they set the inflation targets. The Japanese got 20 years of deflation becasue they were unwilling to allow the knackered companies from the 1990s recession to fail. They got stability, at the price of stagnation. The Eurozone's problems are also mostly political. The ECB have dodged and weaved, ducked and dived and managed to keep consent with everyone, just about. While doing just enough to stop the Euro collapsing, and giving the politicians time to get their act together. Mario Draghi is a genius in my opinion. I think the Euro will still fail, because Italy will have to partially default or leave in the next 3 years. But that won't be the ECB's fault. And when it comes to the abyss (for the 3rd time), the Northern solvent countries may agree to a solution that's actually workable.

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Re: Sign me up!!

Think of it as a *protocol* (like SMTP but for money) rather than a currency, and you'll get further in understanding the impacts.

I'm not really sure that means anything. Plus, I'm disputing that Bitcoin (or any other crypto-currency) even is money. Either now, or in the immediate future.

Money is a means of exchange. Which means you need a decent number of people who'll accept it, before it can become stable. And it's hard to persuade people to use it, until it does become stable. It's certainly not an insurmountable hurdle, but will be a long struggle.

Remember the banks can do a lot of damage to any schemes like this, by charging less for their existing services. In 2001 I could transfer money more cheaply from my UK bank account to my Belgian one (including currency transaction costs), than from my Belgian account to a German or French one. This despite the fact that Belgium, Germany and France were all in the Euro. You can already get credit cards that give the market exchange rates, without any commission or loading - and no extra fees for foreign transactions. The banks will charge the fees that the market (and regulators) allow. They can cut them at the flick of a switch.

Now I admit there will always be a market for untraceable transactions. Add that to the market for cheap international payments to order online - and you have a valuable and growing marketplace. Take away the customers seeking value though, which the banks can do if threatened, and you're left with a much smaller market, that may struggle to achieve critical mass. And is going to be tarred with the the accusation that it's full of criminals, druggies and money launderers.

Therefore I'm not betting on Bitcoin. Plus while unregulated can be an advantage, it also means unprotected and no hope of bail-outs.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Sign me up!!

Is Bitcoin a high risk investment or a currency?

Now I'm pretty sure I've seen you argue in the past that it's a currency. And I've explained why it isn't. It could be one in future, though I doubt it myself. But at the moment it's a very high risk investment with high returns. That's what annoys people. The claims that it's some new utopian future of currency, when it's not. At best it's currently a highly speculative investment with tentative signs of a future as a global internet currency. At worst it's a pyramid scheme (even if that wasn't deliberate).

It's too speculative to be the sort of investment that should be linked to payroll, in my opinion. This time last year, Bitcoin was collapsing from $120 to $20 over the span of 2 days. It's spent the last couple of months fluctuating between $500 and $1200.

I've no problem with people talking about it. But it would help if they understood just how volatile it is. And the massive risk to its chances of becoming a currency caused by the designed-in deflation.

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Optical filters head to Germany for Solar Orbiter build

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Happy

OK, so the satellite's got it's sunglasses. Who's building the hat?

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Boeing bent over for new probe as 787 batteries vent fluid, start to MELT

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Flame

Re: Yea! Boeing "fixed" the problem!

I liked Boeing's comment on it only being vapour. As it reminds me of their far more fun euphemism from last year. No, no, no! That batteries were NOT on fire. They were merely 'venting with flame'.

An excellent and normal failure mode, that no-one should have any worries about. We'll just stick them in big metal boxes, with an exhaust, and all will be well. Of course, some might say that if this was a known failure mode of the batteries, it might have been a teensy weensy bit of a good idea to provide these simple protections in the original design. But only the most petty-fogging of ninnies would say that Boeing were negligent in not doing so...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Fixing problems the Microsoft way

So they redesigned it to leak instead of catching fire. I stand in awe ..

That's a perfectly sensible design decision, if true. Failures are inevitable, so things should fail safe.

That still leaves it open to question whether they'd have been better off using an older, safer, battery tech though. And why they didn't design around the known failure mode of lithium batteries when they did choose to use them.

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Hong Kong’s mobile-mad cabbies told to ditch dashboard devices

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Re: Try taking one in China

That reminds me of living in Brussels. Trams have immunity. Any crash is automatically the other party's fault. On dual carriageways (with concrete tramways in the central reservation), taxis are allowed to bypass traffic by driving in the tramways. This scared the crap out of me the first time I was in a cab that did it though. I wonder how many accidentally end up going down the tram tunnels?

The result is game of chicken with 30 tonne trams! When the cab can't get off the tramway, due to trying to rejoin the normal traffic, and there's a tram zooming up behind him - things can get interesting quite quickly...

I wonder if it's a co-incidence that the tram drivers are apparently bitter that they're paid less than the taxi drivers?

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I ain't Spartacus
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I particularly enjoyed Chicago taxis. They're perfectly safe once you're in them, and seemed to have a pretty relaxed attitude to all the jams. I guess the meter's running, why worry.

It was the pick-up that was 'interesting'. Approved method seemed to be that when you stuck an arm out to hail one, the driver would simply turn the wheel until the cab was aimed directly at you, and depress the accelerator. Brakes were only applied once the cab was at least halfway up onto the kerb, pretty much exactly where you would have been standing, if you hadn't just run for cover. Whichever lane of traffic they were in didn't matter either, as none ever seemed to hesitate, or bother with indicators. They'd just come in like a kamikaze.

There were many cabs, so I can understant that speed is required, in order to avoid someone else stealing the fare. I just struggle to understand how they expect to get repeat custom, if they kill all the customers.

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Apple fails to shake antitrust watchdog loose, receives judge slapdown

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Re: Judges usually don't like to be played for fools

There's nothing wrong with not giving a fuck about court orders. So long as you don't tell the judge! That tends to annoy them.

If you then don't fully comply with their orders, they're likely to threaten you with contempt, and make things even worse for you. Best to keep the judge onside as much as possible. The only time it's worth pissing judges off normally, is when you're trying to influence a jury.

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Plastic iPhone 5Cs? Nah, we'll flog India our OLD iPhone 4 models - report

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I know several people, [stereotype alert!] all of them happen to be women, who want the iPhone 5C. They like iPhones, because they're used to them and they've got apps and iTunes. And they like the idea of a bright pink phone. I didn't ask, but should have, whether they were also reacting against Apple's horrible decision with the iPhone 4 to go all glass. Basically creating the iSoap. In my experience almost all plastic phones are less slippery than the metal ones, except with HTC's nicely ergonomic 'Desire' type ones with the rubber backing.

So I guess Apple thought the risk of losing lots of customers, and profits, in the West to a cheap plastic handset was more than the gain of having a lower priced model. Although I don't see why they couldn't just do a re-cased version of the 4 - or even update the 3GS with a bit more RAM and a slighly faster chip. Or even just have a 3rd world model, that they don't sell in the West. All the other mobile firms have models that only sell into certain markets, so I don't see why Apple couldn't.

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