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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3201 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Coding: 'suitable for exceptionally dull weirdos'

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Presumably in Coding Adventure, Hal and Roger have been sent in search of the lesser spotted furry geek, in order to capture a breeding pair for the Bronx Zoo.

Looking back on those books, I really wonder that social services didn't get involved. Surely there must be some sort of child labour rules that outlaw sending a 15 year-old and 12 year-old hunting dangerous wild animals on their own. It makes sending kids up chimneys look positively benign...

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Re: I've said it before

James Hughes 1,

I'm a little concerned by your use of language. I find the word cockwomble to be extremely derogatory towards womblekind. In fact, I'm reluctantly forced to the conclusion that you may even be a womblist.

Just you come down to Wimbledon Common and say that - then me and my mates will give you a proper kicking. Both underground and overground.

As for the rubbishy piece you were commenting on, I'm sure we can find a use for it. Orinoco believes that many copies will be discarded, probably halfway through reading, and these will make an excellent shelter for him to snooze under.

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How very dare you! Willard Price was my favourite author when I was 9.

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Vulture 2 paintjob: Four-year-old nipper triumphs

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Re: Distress?

The queen could have Chuck Norris any day of the week. When she takes off the ceremonial gear, and puts on her fighting crown, she's the terror of Glasgow's toughest pubs...

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Re: Distress?

The Queen owns the whole world, and therefore all swans. She's just too polite to mention it.

I think it would be fun if she re-styled herself as Queen of France though. It was George III what dropped it, and he was bonkers, and it would be amusing to see the French reaction.

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Thank you El Reg

It's very kind of you to say that I deserve some slap-and-tipple...

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Why Bletchley Park could never happen today

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u

The amount of toilet paper used by the government is (or was) an official secret.

Quite bloody right too! If people knew how much toilet paper we were getting through, then the terrorists would be able to measure exactly how scared we are at any particular time...

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Re: No war

In a real war people know who the enemy is and what victory looks like. Bletchley Park staff knew that why secrecy was paramount and looked forward to they day they could all stop doing it.

Magnus,

Except that the people involved in Bletchley Park kept the secret after the war was finished. When that same technology continued to get used in the Cold War - even though that wasn't a real war either.

And it isn't all bullshit. There is a real problem with international terrorism. It may be used as an excuse by governments and intelligence agencies to hoover up more power and money than they possibly should. But even that's no easy call. They're going to get blamed when there's a terrorist attack, as has happened with every major recent attack, for failing to stop it. And they're going to get blamed when they gather too much data in trying to do so.

There is no perfect solution. But denying there's any problem at all, is just plain silly.

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Re: It just goes to show....

Well, there actually have been some terrorist attacks. Quite big ones, that have killed quite a few people. And there have definitely been some attacks planned that have definitely been blocked. The wood just up the road from me were searched for a year, and yes they did find lots of bombs, apparently destined for aircraft. Admittedly there could have been a vast conspiracy involving about 200 police, some shadowy spooks, a bunch of lawyers and the terrorist concerned (given some of them confessed and claimed to be morally justified). But it's quite hard to believe.

So given the fact that there really are some terrorists, that do live in Britain, what level of spying is acceptable? Remember that if you say none, real people will get blown up. And if you're totally anti-spying and want all CCTV cameras removed, those real people will be even harder to catch and will kill several times before they're finally caught.

There ain't no easy answers here. One big problem is that if you give power and secrecy to a small bunch of people, some of them will abuse it. Even if you watch them carefully. But you probably need to do that for some things, such as international relations and counter-terrorism. So in an imperfect world we have only imperfect answers to difficult questions.

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Obama to Merkel: No Americans are listening to you on this call

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Re: Oh rubbish!

I don't even think it's below par that it happens. When we have peace, and love and one-world-government with perfect democracy then the spies will all be out of business. That's never going to happen though, so until then we're stuck with reality.

For example: The Germans are trying to impose a transaction tax on the City of London via the EU. They're also very happy with the single market in goods, where they're dominant - but keep blocking the single market in services, where we are. There's nothing wrong with this - they're acting in their own best interests as they see them. So long as people are grown-up about it and regard the EU (and international relations in general) as the jungle they are, this is no problem. But it is an adversarial process. We cooperate where it suits us, and not where it doesn't, and every country regards that trade-off slightly differently. The moral outrage is also part of the game. But to take that at face value is ridiculous. Only countries that don't employ spies, and also don't use the information provided to them by others that do, are in a position to complain.

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Tthe Germans may be a friendly country, but then again they may not. They aren't always our allies in foreign policy terms, not that this makes them unfriendly, but it does move them to the pot of 'countries that are a legitimate target for spying'. Although in my opinion, that's every country. You spy on your enemies to see what they're up to, and on your friends to make sure they still are.

But also, the Germans are currently the big cheese in all matters Euro. And if you want my opinion, they're not making a very good job of it. Knowing what's happening in negotiations in the Eurozone affects the economies of every country on the planet. If the Euro breaks up messily, it could plunge the world into a much worse recession than we've just had.

As for the UN, some of what it does is very important. Therefore you'll get spying. I think the mistake you're making is in seeing the UN as some moral force for good, which should except it from the rules of diplomacy. It's not. If it were, then we might have had a peaceful solution to the crises in Syria and Iraq. The UN is very useful as a talking shop for countries, often helping to broker peace; as a means to get international cooperation on various projects, health, famine relief, telecoms etc.; and for lots of other stuff. So wherever you put it, you won't change anything.

Also, I'm not even sure getting caught spying is all that bad. Every country does it. No government is shocked when it happens to them. If governments make a big noise about it, it's because they wish to use that in negotiation. Any government can put out a report at any time that they're being spied on, and then take whatever action they wanted to take anyway. Admittedly it can have an affect in democracies, where popular sentiment can throw a spanner in the works of inter-governmental negotiations. But even there, that can mostly be stopped by a government that wanted to. If this harms the EU-US trade negotiations for example, that will be because European governments want it to. If they didn't, they could stop the public outrage in a heartbeat by simply putting out a statement saying, yes the US is spying on our government phones, but we're also spying on theirs.

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Re: The Core of the Special Relationship

As I understand it, we share a good deal of our communications infrastructure. I don't know if that's as true now as it was in the Cold War days. So it's not so much spying, as the sysadmin looking at the logs...

I'm sure each government must have ways of hiding things from each other, for those times when it would be just too tempting to listen in on the party line.

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Yeah, because the other 4 Permanent members of the security council are dead trustworthy. I'm sure the Russians and Chinese have never tried to spy on anyone, France isn't pure as the driven snow, and Britain has a very long history of reading other peoples' mail... After all we didn't tell many of our allies after WWII that we'd broken Enigma, and quite a few of them copied/adapted it and used similar machines for a while. I'm sure that we weren't listening in, honest...

Spying is a legitimate part of statecraft. It can certainly have bad consequences, but also good ones. One of the reasons the Cold War didn't turn hot is that each sides' spies were able to get some information on the other side, which helped stop people getting more nervous than they already were.

Weirdly, spying can actually increase trust. If a country's diplomats tell you something, you may not trust them. If you can confirm that by spying, then not only do you know what's happening, but you've also now built some trust with the diplomats.

Had our spies been more effective in Iraq for example, we might have saved an awful lot of grief, last decade. Basically were weren't getting any useful information out. So as Saddam had lied repeatedly about having got rid of his WMDs in the 1990s, only for the UN inspection teams to find another load - it was always assumed that he still had some. Especially as the UN teams had been stopped from getting all the stuff they'd discovered in the 90s (as in seen the paperwork for, not found the actual chemicals).

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Vulture 2 paintjob: Kim Jong-un battles flag-waving Brits

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Re: How about

The Japanese had a nice line on this, in pink and orange. On some of their factories, the idea being to confuse bomb-aimers. Given how poor aerial accuracy was from height back then, I'm sure it was a waste of paint. Quite striking though.

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Different colours on different surfaces...

In that case, your solution is easy. On the upper surface, you have a Union Jack design. To show the plane is the right way up, and all is tickety-boo.

On the underside, to indicate the plane is upside-down, you should have an Australian flag. For our colonial cousins who steal sheep and shove jumbucks into their tucker-bags, all while standing on their heads...

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Smartwatch deathmatch: Rivals battle for total ARM DOMINATION

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Re: It requires apps to be developed

I think the competitive stool weight would have to covered by the e-toilet. iBog, iPood, digiLoo... Obviously it would post a picture of stool with weight and size to Facebook / Twitter / G+. Presumably parents could join in the fun, as I'm sure the dad's would like to be able to compete with each other for who could managed the biggest post-curry-slurry.

I'm sure that with both an interactive toy and wristband for baby, you could also have excellent competition on who had the best motor skill development today, and which parents' child was going to grow up to be a genius - judged by about 6 months. Of course, the only problem with this, is that you'd have to program your device to say that about all babies, or you'd soon get a lynch mob of unhappy parents. It's funny how my Mum, who has a degree and an MA partly in child development is incredibly dismissive of people who display this tendency. And yet all 3 of her grandchildren show amazing early development and are clearly far brighter than average...

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Profitless scrapbooking site Pinterest adds over $1bn to its book value

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Translation please...

"We hope to be a service that everyone uses to inspire their future, whether that's dinner tomorrow night, a vacation next summer, or a dream house someday," top dog Ben Silbermann said

Anyone able to translate this for me? I can get by in marketing bollocks, at least I can order a beer, dinner or book a hotel room - but I'll admit I'm not fluent. But this one has me baffled.

Is he saying that Spartacus see cupcake, Spartacus think, "Ooh shiny! That's dinner sorted out." Then... Profit...

Or possibly, Spartacus see super-posh-yummy-house, Spartacus thinks: "Ooh shiny! If I go on a crime spree, or become a drug dealer (or investment banker), then I too can afford this lovely house. Yippee!" And... Profit...

Or is he in fact talking utter drivel? Answers on a postcard please, to: I Ain't Spartacus, Duneatincake, 1 Sunkissed Drive, Grand Cayman. I'm sure the Post Office will be able to redirect it to my hovel in a small market town in rainy England.

And to think, I thought Twitter was over-valued. They actually make money! Well OK, they lose money, but they have revenue coming in, so they can at least dream about it. Facebook make a profit. I'm going to buy some shares in it now, they must be modern geniuses!

Bugger me! Everyone agrees. Facebook shares are now apparently worth $52.84.

I'm forever blowin' bubbles. Pretty bubbles in the air.

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Pirate Bay captain pleads with Swedes: Don't make me walk Danish plank

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Re: Human rights

Graham,

Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, presumably means after his arrest. Has he even been arrested yet, given he's currently in prison for a different offence - and therefore not going anywhere?

It also seems pretty unlikely. If this is a European Arrest Warrant, then their must be a Swedish version for the Swedish to be able to enforce it. Although there could be some arcane matters of legal procedure as to when the actual arrest takes place, I'm not a lawyer.

The second article you quote forbids re-trial, but not necessarily re-arrest pending investigation.

Remember this is the European Arrest Warrant. It's not extradition, where there needs to be a prima facie case made. This is the same argument that Julian Assange just lost. He's not even been charged, because under Swedish law you must have a pre-charge interview. Which he left the country before.

Now the Swedish Supreme Court may take a different attitude to ours, which was that the law was acceptable. It would certainly be funny if they were willing to accept Assange, but unwilling to give up Warg under the same law.

But it's supposed to be arrest, not extradition. It's why I think the EAW was a rubbish idea, although it's still only the second worst extradition treaty that the last Labour government signed! the dozy bunch of idiots...

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Keyboard fatigue? Now you can SCRAWL in Gmail and Google Docs

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Re: What usage ?

It's all very well making that comment from the lofty heights of Mount Wisdom, Oh Anonymous One. But what you appear to be suggesting here is that he should base his buying decision on advertising! I'd say that having your purchase decision influenced by either peer pressure, or companies' advertising is pretty equal on the no-brain scale...

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Re: What usage ?

Khaptain,

Some people seem to actively like onscreen keyboards. You can get reasonably fast with them now, so long as you're willing to put up with some errors and then fix them in the text later. Which brings into play the clumsy poking at screen trying to get tablet to insert the cursor in the right place - something else a stylus is perfect at. Although on Android you have the option of Swype, which I've never had the chance to try sadly.

Others prefer the Blackberry style keyboards, which I dislike even more than touchscreen ones, as I have big hands. I guess in my case, it's because I'm a touch typist, so something that looks like a keyboard but I can only 1 or 2 finger type on annoys me. Whereas handwriting recognition is nearly up to full writing speed.

I found, in my tablet PC days, that the sylus was a natural fit in my right hand, between index and middle finger (and base of thumb), leaving my middle finger and thumb free to poke at the screen and do the odd gestures. That was partly the limitations of the old style resistive screens and Vista tablet edition, but mostly I could run it perfectly well on finger alone (until diving into weird settings menus) and the stylus was there because it was comfortable, and instantly available for writing.

There's a lot of ways of pushing notes you've taken through OCR - after you've taken out any diagrams you may have put in at the time. Which means you don't have to faff around in the meeting with concentrating on anything other than getting your notes down and the meeting. And of course, all your meeting notes are now automatically filed in date order - even if you haven't got round to naming the files.

Obviously sketching is one of the perfect uses of a stylus. My friend with his sketching on photos came up because I asked him to build a big corner cupboard for me. Because he was at mine for dinner, and we were discussing design, as well as talking about normal stuff, he rushed his measurements. So I got a call later, and had to do some of the measuring up myself. Whereas he now takes a photo when on site and sketches all dimensions on it, so he can instantly see if he's forgotten anything. Plus the workshop have a photo to consult when it comes to queries when building.

The reason I thought of all this is that we were talking yesterday. He told me that his clients are quite impressed with the shiny Galaxy Note 2 - as most haven't seen a phone that can do this stuff. He said, "they're mostly richer, brighter and have more gadgets than me". I should have commented at the time that I was one of his clients this year, so thankyouverymuch... Anyway yesterday he was with a client, and while she was making a cup of tea, he measured and sketched, took a photo of the antique handle on some piece of her furniture, and was able to send that off to his PA with notes scrawled on it, and by the time the client walked in with the tea, his PA had emailed him back a couple of matching options from their suppliers' catalogues. So he was able to turn to the client and show her the shinies available while discussing design options. This is obviously excellent for impressing clients - and that's probably half of the sale. The fact that he can sketch in 3D and upside down, while explaining a design idea to you is also pretty impressive...

But for a technophobe who struggles with all things computer - and couldn't even set up an iPhone - it's all worked rather well. And I suspect that sketching with a stylus comes more naturally.

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Re: What usage ?

Khaptain,

I'm currently, painfully pecking this out on my iPad's onscreen keyboard. Which is nowhere near as well laid out as any of the Android or WinPho ones I've tried. One hand holds iPad, one types. Because I have to look at the KB, errors creep in, and have to be corrected. In a bloody different part of the damn screen to where the idiot Apple software engineers force you to look to type, because they apparently have never tested their own stupid product. GGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I compare this to my old HP Windows convertible tablet, from 2007. Wacom digital pen held loosely in one hand, I could run the thing by touch and gesture perfectly. But for typing more than a web address, or for precise text editing, or sketches, the pen went to the screen and scribbled away. Bliss!

OK, the machine was too heavy, too hot, ran too loud and the battery life sucked, but I miss that pen, every day that I use my iPad. As Apple have decided to keep prices the same, my next tablet will probably be a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.

My friend designs handmade furniture and kitchens. He has the Galaxy Note 2. He takes a photo of the room, handwrites in the dimensions, and emails to himself and his PA for the project folder. Plus uses it to do his drawings. He says he uses it several times a day. As I recommended it to him, a technophobe, for this very reason, I'm quite pleased.

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Pimp my office: 10 cubicle comforts

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or the little device that randomly toggles caps lock?

That's called MY LEFT LITTLE FINger...

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It's the '90s all over again: Apple repeats mistakes as low-cost tablets pile up

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Re: Yes yes...

I think there is a serious threat to the iPad. Not the iPhone, as the other top-end competition is just as expensive. They're all around £500 - ish. Sure Apple don't compete at the bottom end of the phone market, but there's not much profit down there, so who cares? While the Galaxy S4 is about the same price they're safe. And Samsung also like to make huge margins at the top end.

Google could seriously kick arse with the Nexus phones, but they haven't shown the will to do that. They've not made them in the numbers, and with the distribution, required to do so, and I'd imagine that's deliberate. If Samsung ever decide to dump Android (or fork it), then the gloves might come off, and Google could unleash Motorola to make millions of high-end devices at very low profits - that could really hurt Samsung and Apple. And Nokia and HTC as well. But there's a lot of 'if' there.

In tablets however, the top-end stuff is getting cheaper. Apple were dead clever to set the iPad price at £400. Even though if you use it a lot you need at least 32GB of memory (so that's £480), plus the £100 premium for sat-nav and 3G/4G, plus as a heavy user another £80 to go up to 64GB. So the top of the tree iPad is now £739! Admittedly I see they've just gone up to 128GB.

Compare that to top-end Androids at £400 and the cheaper ones around £300. Sure the £400 model doesn't look expensive, but as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has both a stylus, and a memory card slot, and is rather good, suddenly the iPad is looking quite over-priced.

Actually putting the iPad Mini price up was a bit of a shock too. And the iPad 2 looks horrifically over-priced at £329.

Maybe the profits will continue to roll in. But I think they've gone over the tipping-point. My next tablet will not be an iPad at those prices. It'll be a Galaxy Note 10 I think. Although the temptation of a £250 Nexus 10 is also pretty high.

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HUMANS all come FROM AFRICA: HERPES does not lie

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Re: No, it doesn't.

Herpes is so contagious, that's it's now combined with bird flu and mutated into a new superbug.

it's called: Herpes herpes cheep-cheep...

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Speaking as an original inhabitant of the British Isles, I can agree. They all came out of Africa, and now they're over here taking our caves.

Yours,

Mr Wool E. Mammoth

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Deploying Turing to see if we have free will

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Re: Free from what, exactly?

Kubla Cant,

I'm happy to agree that our brains work on physical processes. Although weird ones, as we get to play with electricity and chemicals.

I'm not up enough on my neuroscience to know how much of the thinking process we currently understand. But computers are a difficult analogy. Since our brains don't seem to work in the same way, and if we are conscious (whatever that actually means) then we can affect our own mental processes (programming?), thus adding to the fun and complication.

At which point I don't see any necessary contradiction between free will/consciousness and not having to invent some sort of metaphysical process to explain everything.

In the end, maybe it'll come down to the old game of I can't prove I exist, but since I think I do, I may as well get on with it, on that working assumption. Maybe the brain will be just too complex to predict, even if we think it's theoretically merely a mechanism following a set path.

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Re: Free from what, exactly?

AlexV,

In which case, I think we agree, I just misunderstood your earlier post to say that we were unable to make a decision. Sure, I can happily agree that once things have happened, they stay happened. Unless someone discovers a way around even that...

At the point that our picnic happens, the fact can no longer be changed. But if we're talking about free will vs. a deterministic system we still get to decide whether to picnic or not to picnic.

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Re: Basic failures

That all implies that the conscious mind can't overrule the subconscious. And I'm not sure that's true. Certainly from personal experience. Although even if it is, I don't know how you set about proving it...

Certainly I make many decisions instantly, without conscious thought. But I've often changed decisions or opinions on reflection, as well as post-rationalising others - or just not thinking about it any more.

But even here, you can program, or train yourself to react instantly in ways that you have decided beforehand. This is what sports and military training is all about. Now is that the subconscious instructing the conscious to train the subconscious? How would we prove it either way?

My personal answer to this question is that I don't particularly like the idea of pre-determination. But it's a bloody hard question to answer. However, as we can't even say how the brain works physically, or even what is consciousness, we probably don't have sufficient information to hit the bigger questions just yet. If our actions are pre-determined, but we and the universe are too complex to predict, then I guess it doesn't really matter, and we can carry on with our illusion of free will perfectly happily.

If we were ever able to predict ourselves beforehand, that might give us the option to try changing the outcome - and then we're into time travelling and prophecy paradoxes. That's why I prefer drinking to philosophy...

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Re: Free from what, exactly?

AlexV,

To quote from 'The Terminator', "the future is not set". Although of course it turns out that it is. Ooops.

But just because the past cannot be changed, doesn't necessarily mean that the future can't be. Although this then presents fun problems if it turns out that time travel is possible.

If there's a picnic planned tomorrow, it doesn't have to happen. I can change my mind several times, and the question is then is the picnic decision already decided for me, before I get to make it. I don't see any evidence that it is. That seems to be a circular argument that because my mind is predictable, then the outcome is predictable. But if intelligence isn't predictable, then neither is the universe, assuming it has intelligence in it - as that intelligence can change the universe.

So as far as I can see, we're back to where we started. Is the brain basically following a pattern, or are we actually thinking inside here? To some extent it doesn't matter I guess. If, 'I think - therefore I am', then why not, 'I think I influence whether there is a picnic or not - therefore I do'?

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Re: Free from what, exactly?

The question is whether our brains are just very complicated, but squishy, computers. In which case, the structure determines each decision we make - and so although we may think we're deciding things - actually we're not. That decision was built into the system. Thus with sufficiently complex modelling, you could entirely predict our brain output.

I'm not sure if this debate is even worth having yet, seeing as we don't really understand how the brain works. Although I guess there's an argument to be made that it doesn't matter how many interactions there are between the chemical and electrical bits and bobs, so long as you can model it you can predict it.

I'd have thought the brain would be a chaotic system though, given how complex it is, and that bits of it work in several different ways, often simultaneously. But to be honest, all this makes my brain ache. And I'm sure you could have predicted in advance that I'd say that...

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Ryanair boss Mike O'Leary hits Twitter: 'Nice pic. Phwoaaarr!'

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Re: "Look at me!!!!! I'm an attention whore!!!!"

To be fair to Michael O'Leary (oh God, did I really just say that?), in the early days he had somewhat of a point. He delivered a well directed boot to the collective arses of the big European carriers, and it was deserved. So that BA and Lufthansa could no longer get away with both charging £700 to fly from Brussels to Hamburg, as an example I happen to remember.

As the up-and-comer he could get away with being an attention-seeking loud-mouth, and Ryanair were low cost, but hadn't quite honed all their nasty little tricks to their full current evilness. In fact they were mostly OK, as they could make easy money by giving the flag carriers the kicking they so richly merited. It's only since competition has hotted up that they now feel the need to gouge the customers at every turn, making flying with them into a kind of credit card Russian roulette.

At this point, when he's one of the big players, and his company are beginning to resemble the rip-off merchants they started out fighting, his childish/egotistical/annoying pronouncements really start to get on peoples' nerves. I guess we're willing to tolerate a total git, when we share a common enemy. But now Ryanair are the enemy. I can't even be bothered to look at their website any more, I don't fancy getting a £200 bill for failing to jump through one of their check-in hoops, and I can't even be bothered to trawl through their site until they finally deign to give me the actual price to compare against.

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Unsupervised Brit kids are meeting STRANGERS from the INTERNET

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Re: " then they get what they get"

bigtimehustler,

We evolved as groups. As happens it was the duty of all society to look after children. This was probably one of the reasons that humans did so well. The parents, who tended to be younger, could wander off hunting for food, while the older folk could look after the kids and do whatever early agriculture they were into. Probably a gross simplification - but it'll do. So it was probably granny and older siblings whose job it was to stop the kiddies from eating those tasty looking poisonous berries. As well as the dislike of bitter-tasting things, built into most children, then goes away as they grow up. But if the group as a whole failed to nurture its children, then it was likely to get out-competed by the one just over the veldt, that did.

The development of the 'nuclear family' and the raising of children being the sole responsibility of the parents is mostly quite a new thing. When most people lived in small communities that barely changed over decades, it tended to be seen as the duty of the whole village/street/whatever to raise the kids. Certainly that was still true in 1940s / 50s South London, where my Mum said that you couldn't get away with smoking on the top deck of the bus, because there was always a friend/neighbour/relative around who'd spot you - and it would eventually get back to your parents.

Society has changed. In some ways for the worse, with less sense of community. But then that whole community of everyone living in each others' pockets could also be pretty stifling. We're currently undergoing big changes in society, and we tend to be slower to adapt to those changes than they happen. So who knows what family life will be like in 30 years, or what relationship there will be between state, community, extended family and close family?

We don't want 1984 or the government issuing breeding licenses. We probably also don't want a free-for-all. It's all rather complicated I'm afraid.

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Re: Kids these days ...

obnoxiousGit,

Ah yes. Perhaps I should have said kittens?

Actually I am British, but I thought puppies was more of an Americanism? Not the word that first comes to mind for me. Which I guess would be boobs. Perhaps it's a generational or geographical thing, and in need of a serious sociological study...

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Re: This is exacltly why porn filters are bad

M Gale,

That's evil. It's like walking up to someone and saying, "don't think of pink elephants". Now you've released temptation and curiosity.

Although I'm pretty good at resisting. What is once seen, can never be unseen. Mind-Bleach does not exist. So far I've avoided goatse. Although I have been rickrolled, and I'm still getting over the trauma...

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Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

People certainly need to dial down the repetition of the bad parents use the TV/Internet/Games console as a virtual babysitter argument.

In some ways that's good. When I was a kid, my Mum had to get cooking and cleaning done, plus sometimes be dealing with my brothers. Therefore at certain points I was expected to be able to amuse myself. Which is actually a healthy thing for a child. Kids need to be able to develop the ability to play, and sometimes that's interacting with adults, sometimes other kids, and sometimes on their own. It's all part of growing up and shaping your adult brain.

Obviously there were no tablets for me to play with. So I had to make do with toys. Mostly Lego and cars for me. Plus a bit of TV. There weren't kids TV channels and videos, so that was also naturally limited.

There's nothing wrong with letting kids do the things they like. So long as they aren't doing only one thing all the time. I guess there is a problem now that kids can play computer games non-stop, or watch non-stop telly. Although I've never personally known any young kids that want to.

The internet does present special problems, because it's very hard to supervise, and there are real dangers there. At least in the good old days, you were safe from the bullies in your bedroom. Now they can get at you on Facebook and by text. But parenting and dangerous things is nothing new to this generation. I was allowed out on my bike on the local streets, after I was proven able to ride it, and within set limits. Had I broken those limits - or proved unable to avoid cars, then the bike would have been taken away again. One problem is the people who refuse to learn anything about computers. They've decided in advance that it's too hard, and it's a new technology they don't like. Weirdly many people will say this, even though they buy online, research for personal and business reasons online and send many emails. And I guess that blind-spot can create parenting problems. As there are tools out there to help you manage younger kids online, before they know more than you about computers and can circumvent your rules anyway...

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Re: Data appears to be mixed up.

Good point. I forgot to add that bit to my post above, about answering the question to be cool. My Mum was surveyed at school, aged about 14. So we're talking early 50s. And she said that she smoked, when asked, as did most of the kids. She even knew which brand, Senior Service, because she knew people who smoke those. But you had to say yes, because in the 50s smoking was virtually compulsory...

None of them did, because they couldn't afford it. And would almost certainly have got caught, in that a relative or friend would have spotted them misbehaving at some point, and reported them to their mothers. Mum said that was the downside of the tight-knit communities that everyone looks back to. As kids, you could be disciplined by any plausible adult, and anything you did in public was likely to get back to your Mum.

As happens she'd been buying tobacco since before she was 5, as her Mum sent her to the local shop to pick it up for her Grandad.

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Re: Kids these days ...

Well it's not like you can tempt them with puppies any more. They can see millions of those for free on Youtube...

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Primary school age = under 11. How many 11 year-olds get the chance to meet new people unsupervised? Except at parties and school - or playing round their local road/park?

I really struggle to believe that nearly 20% of them have done this. Unless they're finding the kids in their local area. I can certainly believe that some have, but I'm more prepared to believe they've misunderstood the question than that so many have done this.

Certainly we could do with some proper research into what the kids mean by this. Do they mean they've met someone in another class at school, or a kid living on their street, or a friend of an existing friend first on Facebook, then met them in real life? Or have they gone off to meet someone completely unconnected with them - which is a whole lot more worrying?

I know a few kids that age, and they expand their circles of friends in a way that was much harder before. If you've got a mate, you're going to see all their posts on Facebook, including the ones from friends that you may have never met. Say friends/relatives in another town. Now in my day, your only likelihood of ever talking to them was at a birthday, or if they came over to stay. And that usually wasn't time to build any kind of relationship. But with FB, you see their comments all the time, and can fire ones back. Then it's easy to be texting or Blackberry messaging - which can easily lead to phonecalls.

I know a 10 year-old who's met people in meat-space after only conversing online first, but that was through support groups for blind kids. And the far more dangerous thing to his mental health is that he's also met JLS, Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole. Poor kid''ll be scarred for life!

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Re: Good advice

You tell them a story about how a local kid met up with someone they'd only met online before, and were forced to listen to Barry Manilow records, while wearing uncool trainers and eating vegetables. That ought to do the trick...

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Comet ISON perhaps NOT GARBAGE after all - glows GREEN in latest snaps

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I have a perfect method of prediction

I'm not pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. I have a foolproof method of telling whether the comet will be spectacular or not.

If the weather in Britain is bloody awful, and the skies are permanently cloudy, then the comet will be amazingly spectacular - and so bright it would be visible in daylight. If the weather in Britain is nice, it'll be a flop.

Now I've done my bit, it's up to someone else to do the easy bit, and predict the British weather.

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Re: OhOh

Why's no-one done a Triffids vs. Zombies film? Thinks: Which side to cheer for?

Personally I think the Triffids win hands down. Or I guess stumps down, given their anatomy.

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11m Chinese engulfed by 'Airpocalypse' at 4000% of safe pollution levels

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Re: Hmmm...

We probably don't have the patent, but if they start referring to theirs as pea-soupers, then I'm sure we can have them on trademark abuse!

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Re: Now pull my other one

The last big smog in London in the fifties killed something like 2,500 people. In a weekend. Although regulation on city factories and power stations was part of it, it was also creating smokeless zones, where people couldn't burn wood, or normal coal. I believe domestic heating was the biggest factor.

at the time, London only had a population of about 7.5 million. With China's cities being bigger, and no state healthcare, the death tolls will probably be bigger, but never reported.

Although my Mum described the London smogs as worse than that video, because she said you couldn't even see the kerb, from the middle of the road.

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Meet the 'KARDASHIAN Phone' – what Apple bods nicknamed the iPhone 5s

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Hmmmm. KARDASHIAN

Killer Aircraft Released Defensively Against Self-Guided High Impact Attack Nukes

Is this going to be the Register Special Project Bureau's response to the coming Rise of the Machines?

Or perhaps an attempt by vulture central to harness its new-found technological lead in autonomous spaceplanery to finally get some answers from Apple's PR department:

Kinetic Aircraft Released Downwards After Satellite Hibernation Infiltrating Apple Nerve-centre?

I think her name is a bit long for backronyming really...

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Bacteria-chomping phages could kill off HOSPITAL SUPERBUGS

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Re: One question...

[chomps on cigar]

The only good bacteria, is a dead bacteria! These so-called "friendly" bacteria, are just pinko, commie turncoats! I wouldn't trust 'em further than I could spit! Napalm is the only language they understand. It's only because of these long-haired hippy types, and gutless politicians, that hospitals don't use napalm!

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This is all very well, until the phages reach the new nuclear reactors, and get mutated into giant person-eating super-phages. Just like we all saw in those documentaries, 'The Prisoner' and 'Pac-Man'.

What will we do to fight the killer-phage menace, that we caused in order to fight the killer bacteria menace? I know an old woman, who swallowed a fly...

On a serious note, hooray for research. Although I don't see how we can know they're the most abundant life-form in the universe. I'm sure the emperor Tharg the Magnificent will have a good deal to say about that.

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Apple's first iPhone now COSTS MORE than golden mobe 5S

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Re: But I really do miss the flip-phone format.

and it's just like original star trek communicators!

Except that bad mannered Catpain Kirk was always using his on speakerphone. What an annoying man to have to share a train carriage with...

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Bugger!

I gave away my Sony Ericsson P800, for which I had original box, manuals, charger and 3 spare styluseseses. If I'd kept it, I could now be RICH! After all, it didn't even have GPRS... The friend I gave it to was still using it well after the iPhone came out.

Sadly I also got rid of my Motorola MicroTac years ago. Although I think the 'micro' was a bit cheeky in the name, as a belt clip or bag was the only realistic way to carry it. I miss the days of having to pull up the aerial before making a call, and then flip the phone open. Well OK, maybe not the aerial bit, particularly as there was a point when some of those were fakes and the phones had internal antennae. But I really do miss the flip-phone format. No-one seems to do them any more, which is a real shame.

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Apple slams brakes on orders of (not so cheap) plasticky iPhone 5C

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Re: Not $50

Ouch! Thanks for that. I knew US tariffs were higher than in Blighty, didn't realise it was that bad.

In comparison £34 (ex VAT) per month gets you a 2 year contract, new iPhone or Galaxy 4 for nothing up-front, 1 GB 4G data and unlimited calls and texts. And that's dropping slightly as all the players are now doing 4G.

I believe 3 will give you unlimited calls, texts and bandwidth, including tethering and top-end phone for £35 per month including VAT. And when they go 4G in a month's time, they upgrade all their users for free. You can get 1/2 GB of data, some calls, many texts and a cheap phone for £15 per month (inc VAT) with them.

Do you pay sales tax on the contracts, or only the phone itself?

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Billionaire vows to turn 007's Lotus Esprit into actual SUBMARINE CAR

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Re: Hmmm...

Given that he appears to have made a success out of both electric sportscars and cheap rockets, I'd be very cautious about using the word wacky about any of this guy's projects. I'm sure he's bound to screw something up, as if you keep trying hard things that's pretty much inevitable.

But he appears to have taken two established industries (rockets and cars), walked in and said, "what's so difficult about this then?" Then urinated upon the incumbent big players from a very large height, in a very short time. It's all rather impressive.

Admittedly he's also put a cheese into orbit, so I guess wacky does apply somewhat...

I'm really disappointed that he didn't put some port into orbit to go with it - major logistical screw-up there. But I hope he invited some friends round for dinner, and then proceeded to produce the world's most amazing cheeseboard. There's one-in-the-eye for your fellow billionaires!

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