* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3864 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Facebook worth more than Portugal? Hell, it's worth a LOT more than THAT

I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: bootnote blessings

And, rather more importantly, the lack of value of France...

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Re: The value is actually negative

Advertising is part of GDP because someone gets paid to do it. Just like chocolate bars are part of GDP, even though they're a cost - because although someone has to pay to get them, they then get to eat them. Yum.

Tim's argument about Labour was that a company saying the've created jobs are actually saying they've added a cost to people's lives. Admittedly it also has a benefit.

The point about Facebook is that people derive pleasure from using it. Even I, logging on once a month, get a small amount of pleasure from seeing pictures of my nephews and niece. Other people are using it a whole lot more. Similarly the Register pays some salaries, buys bandwidth, servers, phones and computers - and sells adverts. But GDP shows that stuff without showing the economic benefit derived by us lucky buggers that get to read and comment on it for free. They even bought me several pints of beer the other day - and a truly life-threatening amount of pork pie.

This consumer benefit isn't picked up by GDP figures. We might even have to [vomit] start talking about measures of gross national happiness. Erk!

If someone makes something existing cheaper, then it's easier to work out the benefits. Say a new method of air travel. We know what people were doing before, we can subtract the cost of doing it the new way from the old. Then we can look at how many more people are using the new service because it's more affordable, and we can use all that to come with an idea of what society has gained from this innovation. Obviously after subtracting the cost of the changeover.

But how can we do this for something entirely new, that's also free?

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Re: A tax on business.

Stuart 22,

This is something you should be able to measure. You know your staff numbers. You know your inputs (computers, machines, raw materials) and you know your outputs (stuff produced - either by amount or by sale price). So you can work out your productivity, and check if it's changed since Facebook became common.

My suspicion would be that if employees aren't on FB, they're shopping online, reading magazines in the toilets, talking to friends on the phone, sending round email jokes or just chatting by the coffee machine. This has always been so, and forever will be.

For example I get almost no jokes by email anymore, I used to get loads. This is because I'm not on FB, and that's where those jokes get put up nowadays.

Of course the other thing you missed is that Facebook are costing you nothing. It's your employees choosing to use it. Which links to my comment above, about other methods of distraction. I've just had a conversation about shooting kangaroos with a temp we're currently employing (who's just come back from a year in Australia).

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Cheer up UK mobile grumblers. It's about to get even pricier

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I suppose we can't really complain about the UK market. We've just switched the company phones to a new EE 4G tariff. We're paying £15 a month (ex VAT) for unlimited calls and texts plus 2GB of data. There's no handsets on that, we have to buy our own, but my iPhone 5 still works, and I can get a decent Lumia or 'Droid for under £200.

My Mum's just signed up with Tesco (is that O2?) for £7.50 a month (inc VAT) and is getting a Lumia 730 plus 750 minutes, 1,000 texts and about 200MB of data. That's a pretty stonkingly good deal, and I think she could double the data for half the minutes if she preferred.

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Prosecutors have 'EVISCERATED' my defense, cries Silk Road lawyer

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Re: Imagine that...

P. Lee,

The judge's job is to make sure the jury only get relevant evidence and to then give them direction on how to assess that in relation to the charges. In my experience of jury service (done it tiwce now) defenece barristers seem to throw a lot of irrelevant questions at witnesses, simply in order to confuse the issue - or overwhelm the jury with so much information it confuses them.

I was only doing crap cases though, nothing worse than GBH with intent - so we weren't getting the highest calibre of people. But the only defence barrister we had who managed a proper bit of oration in his final speech was the one who asked the least questions of the witnesses. And kept it relevant.

Judges are very careful about witnesses giving their opinions from the box. It's the jury's job to come to those kind of conclusions. So if you're quizzing someone about their state of mind, you can have opinions, as in "I thought he was going to attack me with the knife so I threw a chair at him". There the opinion is relevant.

But you can't say, "he went behind the screen to hide the drugs" - because unless you saw him do that, you're giving an opinion. You can only say I saw him go beind the screen, and we later found drugs hidden there, and he didn't have any on him when we searched him. It's then up to other witnesses and evidence to prove he had the drugs and up to the jury to find whether he in fact did.

So in the same way the prosecution can't just make stuff up, or assume stuff, neither can the defence. You can't ask a witness what they believe is the interpretation of the facts, except in limited circumstances. For example when you're examining why a witness acted in a certain way, then their interpretation of facts is relevant.

An expert witness, for example, is also allowed to draw conclusions - becuase they're supposed to be witnesses for the court rather than prosecution or defence. It's only in unusual circumstances that defence will seek their own expert witness. Although I think this is different in the US system.

Justice needs to be seen to be done and that means allowing leeway for dubious evidence to be presented and confirmed or exposed, especially if it comes from the investigators.

That's all very well. But the jury aren't lawyers. It's frustrating, I've served on a jury and felt I didn't have all the evidence I'd have liked. But part of that is that it's impossible to gather all the evidence, and almost everything is subjective. But there are also rules to try and make the system fairer, such as not always revealing previous convictions. And protecting the defence by not allowing dubious evidence to be put.

The point about rules of evidence are that things that don't fall within those rules, by definition, aren't evidence. And the opinions of the investigating officers are definitely not evidence, and would be far too dangerous to give to the jury. Given that the whole point of a jury of non-experts is to keep the system honest. We pay judges to rule on what the jury are allowed to see, lawyers to try and organise the case in favour of other side, jurors to weigh the evidence to establish our best guess of the facts, and judges to help the jury organise those facts and tell them what is relevant to the law. I recommend jury service to everyone, as it gives you a much clearer view of how things work.

If the defence think the previous opinion of the investigators was correct, they can put forward the same fact the investigators had, and see if the jury agree. Or agree with the investigators that the subsequent evidence they uncovered pointed in a different direction.

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Come and Twiddle Tek Gear's one handed keyboard

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Re: Left Handed?

The article says the keys can be reconfigured. At least to some extent, so I'd imagine you will be able to reverse them for left handedness. Although I'd be surprirsed if you can change the labels. But then you can't see the keys in use anyway.

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Re: Voice..

I use Google a bit, and Siri quite a lot - and they're OK. But still make lots of mistakes that you then have to correct with fat fingers, and fiddly (and particularly crap on phones) attempts to get the cursor in the right place. One of the major points for me would be to avoid having to get my reading glasses out, but it makes so many errors that it still needs to be properly checked for anything other than a short text message.

Add even a bit of noise into the environment and speech recognition goes crap. Just having the TV on, or even the road noise from the office window behind me defeats Siri.

You can't use voice in a meeting either. Without being really anti-social. Or in a crowded office or train. So even if (probably when) you can fix the problems above, this is the major issue. Other people can hear your voice. Politeness should put the kibosh on universal voice recognition.

That leaves us with keyboards of some description or pen input for text.

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Facebook is MORE IMPORTANT to humanity than PORTUGAL

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Re: GDP is income per year

Didn't Microsoft always pay someone to come up with a survey to say that the new version of Windows would boost the UK (or US or EU) economy by some insane figure like £250 bn over 2 years. Thus saying how great this new version of Windows must be - and allowing them to bleat about how piracy was destroying all this lovely value that would accrue to us all - and so how our governments must destroy the pirates forthwith.

On which subject, if video piracy funds terrorism, what does software piracy fund? Cancer perhaps?

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Re: "Really? But Google is the internet, surely"?

jackharbringer,

Great comment. I'm going into Carphone Warehouse tomorrow, and asking them to sell me a phone with AOL on it. That should confuse them...

Apart from anything else, where would I put all the CDs?

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Re: How many of those 4.5 million jobs were within Deloittes?

Jonathan 27,

Your fundamental mistake (understandable due to their fiendish cunning) is to believe that your cat is in your employ, rather than the other way round. Cats do not have owners, they have staff...

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Latest menace to internet economy: Gators EATING all the PUSSIES

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Re: And the prixe for

Of course beer has a future once drunk. Why do you think there's a pipe coming out of the bottom of the urinals? That leads into the bar through the wall, to the Fosters tap? It's no coincidence you know.

That's also what those weird blue or yellow urinal cakes are for. They're not actually disinfectant, but washing up liquid to give the lager its bubbly head.

My brother's pub has 2 pub cats. I must suggest to him how much more of an attraction a pub alligator would be...

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'If you see a stylus, they BLEW it' – Steve Jobs. REMEMBER, Apple?

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Re: Great news

It can't be compatible with previous versions. Unless Apple can magically add an extra element to the touch screen via software update. In which case they've invented Star Trek style teleportation, and won't just be the first trillion dollar company, but the first quadrillion dollar one very shortly thereafter...

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I ain't Spartacus
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I also had the P800, in the same shade of blue (though I never though of ponies at the time). And I agreed with Jobs, that any phone which couldn't be operated without a stylus sucked.

The P800, despite a resistive screen (well it was 2003), could be operated with just a finger. At least for all the basic stuff, once you got into the menus or keyboard you needed a fingernail and a steady hand. There was also a little clip-on numberpad, which simply had pins in the back to touch the screen.

I loved that phone. Incidentally, I gave it to a friend when his broke, and I'd dumped smartphones for a work RAZR V3. My trusty P800 stopped working just before Christmas last year, and he's finally had to buy a new phone.

Where Jobs got it wrong was to say that fingers are better than a stylus for detail work. The UI should be as easy as possible, and only need a finger. But typing this on the onscreen keyboard of my iPad is way slower than I could do with a stylus. That's the one feature from my old HP Vista convertible tablet that I miss.

I've had a tablet since 2007. I've tried voice recognition, onscreen keyboards, portable keyboards, Palm's Graffiti, horrible stylii on resistive screens, even more horrible stylii on capacitative screens and brilliant Wacom digitiser stylii. And Wacom win hands down for writing or drawing.

My next tablet might be Android. So far Samsung's Note ones are a bit too pricy. As Lenovo's Yoga ones are lovely to hold. But if there's an iPad with a proper stylus, I'm sold.

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'It's NOT FAIR!' yell RICH KIDS ... and that's a GOOD THING

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Re: $100 is a lot to someone living on $2/day

It's an interesting point, as it affects both sides of the equation.

I'm a pretty fair person, I usually (but not always) repress my selfish impulses - even when no-one's looking.

So in the standard experiment with £100, I'd offer a 50/50 split. It's "fair" (and so the right thing to do), we'll almost certainly both get paid this way, and people are watching. All good reasons to play nice. And the offer of an extra £10-£20 isn't very much incentive to risk getting nothing, or to look bad in front of other people. As well as the possible twinge of conscience for being "bad".

However if I'm given £1 million to split, it's rather different. Now a 60/40 split is giving me an extra £100,000! That buys a house (in some places), and is 4 years UK median wage. Much more of a dilemma about being "nice". But then there's also a much higher risk if the other person sees themselves being treated unfairly, and rejects the deal. Although they too have more incentive to say yes.

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Is is a Bird? Is it a Plane? NO! LOOK OUT it's an ASTEROID!

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Re: Am I right in assuming that...

No. When they Microwave it, it'll wake up. Then start firing it's death-rays in retaliation.

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Amazon's tax deal in Luxembourg BROKE the LAW, says EU

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According to the Torygraph article on this the Luxembourg tax authorities got the letter from Amazon proposing their transfer pricing calculations/justification - and answered that yes those figures were OK within 11 days.

I'm struggling to think of the last time I got anything written out of a tax office in that kind of timescale, let alone something as horribly complicated as working out a hundred-billion dollar global mega-corp's international tax affairs.

That's so fast it's almost as if they wouldn't have had time to check, or had agreed the amounts in advance. But obviously that can't be true...

So it must just be that Luxembourg doesn't need to collect many taxes, because their government are just so damned efficient. Yes, I'm sure that's it...

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I'll build a Hyperloop railgun tube-way in Texas, Elon Musk vows

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Re: What Brunel do if he was around now?

He would be wearing an absolutely brilliant hat.

But would be too busy suing Danny Boyle and the 2012 Olympic Games organisers for the image rights for their opening ceremony to get any serious engineering done...

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Microsoft rolls out even cheaper 'Notkia' Lumias

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My Mum's just decided to get a smartphone. She's a bit of a techophobe in her mid 70s, but skype with the grandchildren, GPS, photos and email are all very imprtant. And she loves her iPad.

Tesco mobile are doing some deal for the measly sum of £7.50 a month. That's 750min of calls, 1,000 texts and about 200MB of data. And for that and a 2 year contract you get a Nokia Lumia 735 too. Which is a £170 phone! I don't know if it's about to replaced and Tesco have too many, but that's stupidly cheap for what's a decent phone.

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What will happen to the oil price? Look to the PC for clues

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Re: Price of oil

The Saudis aren't loss-leading. They seem to have the cheapest oil in the world, and apparently can break even at $20 a barrel.

They are accepting less money than they could otherwise get. But then so are others. After all, demand has dropped, but no-one else seems to want to cut their supply either.

What the Saudis aren't breaking even on is their government spending. They have lots of programs based on a much higher oil price to keep the population happy, and not much taxation on anything else. So they'll have to run a government deficit. But then when the oil price was over $100 a barrel they were raking in the cash and saving it for a rainy day, so they can easily cover this. The Gulf states all put lots of Western assets by for this sort of thing, so they can sell a few of those to keep the wolf from the door. I presume the idea is to hit Venezuala, Iran and Russia - who don't have that to fall back on. Obviously Russia would be OK had it not also got itself into bother with Western sanctions, as they had nearly $600bn of reserves at the beginning of last year - but they've already blown $150 bn propping up the Rouble because of sanctions, and committed another $100-odd billion to protect government spending as no-one will lend to the Russian government, along with many more tens of billions to help the big state-backed companies cope with their debts.

It's an interesting question as to whether this is to kill the US fracking industry and Canadian tar sands, or punishing Russia and Iran for propping up Syria (when the Gulf states have been supporting the opposition). Although I guess both could be the reason. And the drop in demand gave the opportunity. Or maybe none of that is true. Maybe it's just that demand has dropped and no-one has the self-discipline to drop output. Or at least they don't trust each other to do it, and the first one to drop production loses most. After all it was people cheating on their OPEC production promises that broke the cartel down in the 80s in the first place, and I'm not sure they've ever really recovered. Now they control even less of supply than they did then. Maybe there really is no conspiracy?

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Re: I'm more interested in the geopolitics of it

Even if the US is energy independent, it still has to worry about global oil supplies a bit. Because Europe, China and Japan definitely aren't energy independent. And they are the USA's main trading partners. If your main trading partners' economies go titsup - then so does yours.

In the end the US is the world's policeman* because no-one else wants the job. Only the US, UK and France have shown much willingness to carry out this role since WWII, to varying degrees at different times. It's probably no coincidence that all 3 are major international trading economies. No-one else looks particularly interested to take over in future either.

*Seeing as there's no functioning international system of justice, or broad agreement on what this should be, perhaps I should have typed: world's policemen / lynch-mob / vigilantes / posse. [delete as appropriate]

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Re: Price of oil

It's complicated. Politics is certainly involved, as prices tend to rise with Middle East instability. And I suspect that's partly because so many people hedge their oil price risk. For example if you're an airline, big fluctuations in oil price are a right bugger for forecasting your profits. Especially if you sell seats on the flight many months in advance. People get most pissed off with sudden fuel surcharges.

However you can buy a futures contract for your oil and feel a lot safer. It probably won't be as cheap as if you'd bought it on the spot market at the time, but on the other hand there's no risk of suddenly losing all your profits, or making your customers hate you. Obviously if political tension goes up, those futures contracts will go up - even if no event ever occurs that actualy restricts oil output - at which point whoever took the other side of that futures contract makes a profit. On the other hand, if prices soar, those counterparties take a bath.

Apparently a lot of the frackers in the US have hedged their positions too, so they won't be making the huge losses that perhaps OPEC are hoping for.

OPEC aren't the power that they once were anyway, since so much oil is coming from non-OPEC countries. And they're a lot less politically unified, given that almost no-one gets on with Iran. The Saudis still have the whip hand in OPEC, given they apparently have the cheapest production.

The final bit that everyone always seems to ignore in this equation is demand. I guess because it's so much more natural to talk about someone's cunning plan affecting the price. China's industry is getting more efficient - so using less oil, and everyone's industry isn't growing as fast as it was in the boom times last decade. There's also more alternative energy around (even if still a small amount) - and this year has been warmer than historically too, so less oil has been burned for heating and electricity.

So we've had a drop in demand combined with an increase in supply. Surprisingly enough the oil price has plummeted.

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Apple v Ericsson: Yet ANOTHER patent war bubbles over

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Re: Meh. Nothing to see here.

How do you expect this to work? Who collects the money? Beyond that it's interfering with a company's right to do business, which may well lessen its desire to continue.

Charlie Clark,

Apple now have form in this not paying for standards required patents. If the courts then rule on the patents having to be really cheap, as there's no sane way for them to work out market prices because half the people involved are on cross-licensing deals, then the system will break down. And people will be less likely to put their patents in the firing line by agreeing FRAND terms. Because FRAND terms stop being fair when one of the major players in the mobile industry doesn't have any technical patents of its own. Not quite fair, but I don't believe Apple do research on the radio/networking side of things, and I don't think they've bought that much.

We definitely want to reward companies for their R&D work in this area (or they'll do less of it), and we definitely want open and inter-operable standards. However if FRAND patents are devalued, and become worth less than other ones, then we're less likely to get these things we want.

At which point it seems sensible to make the whole process transparent.

Also I don't see how fixing the price of a patent in advance is interfering with people's business any more than forcing them to do FRAND is. Surely FRAND should effectively mean everyone pays the same anyway? You could have volume discounts built into the system. There doesn't need to be a central collection organisation, although that might be just as easy, you just put the prices in the standard documentation. The patents are already in there anyway. Then there can be no disputes. It also means everyone knows how much value standards add. If they're profitable, we're likely to get more R&D, if they're not then the prices need to be upped otherwise more companies will "free ride" on other peoples' research efforts, gain a competitive advantage and the whole industry will get skewed towards companies that don't invest, and in the long term it will decline.

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Re: Meh. Nothing to see here.

I guess there's a simple solution to this. And a risk of a fragmentation of standards if we don't find one, as if the boring R&D required for standards doesn't turn a profit - companies might stop doing it.

They'll have to build the licensing cost into the standard, when they decide what patents will be included. Rather than some companies having it as part of cross-licensing deals, and others having to pay for it. Otherwise there's no way to check that everyone's paying the same amount.

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TERROR in SPACE: ISS 'NAUTS FLEE 'gas leak' to Russian module

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Mushroom

Re: What?!

Mmmmmm. SPROUTS IN SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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MAINFRAMES are SO NOT DEAD: IBM's launched a new one

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Re: Nice angles

Is that to deflect radar returns? Is this a stealth mainframe?

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DANGER: Is that 'hot babe' on Skype a sextortionist?

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Re: Why are they surprised

Hmmm. You've just given me an idea for how to respond next time the "Microsoft" people phone.

Not had one this year, was getting 2 a week at one point last year. Now they often claim to be from "Your internet service provider, and we've noticed a virus on your connection". The last one put the phone down on me before I could tell him to sod off, just from the weary and cynical way I said, "are you?" when he claimed to be from Microsoft.

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PlayStation-processor-powered plutonium probe prepares Pluto pics

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Re: Line profile?

New Horizons is still waiting for its refund, given that there's no longer an offline only version of the new Elite. It's having serious problems with lag whenever it tries a bit of PVP action. On the plus side though, it's already got a docking computer at JPL, so doesn't need to buy one.

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Would you buy a domain from Google? Industry weighs in on web giant's move

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Re: Yes.

Just some general tactical advice: I find it better to keep domains and hosting separate because you're *far* more likely to get into a dispute with your webhosts than your registrar. If your domains are separate, you just re-point the nameservers and you can be back in business somewhere else within hours; whereas if you have to extract the domains from a webhost the whole process is more complicated and time-consuming.

I totally agree.

One of the chappies quoted in the article said that small businesses don't want a domain. They want a solution. And I sort of agree, we don't have the time (or in most cases the knowledge) to manage all this nasty IT stuff, and so outsourcing either locally or cloud are the only solutions.

But our domain name is vital. It's our website and our email. The loss of emails would be critical - as many of our customers might only contact us once a year. The advantage of a separate domain name is that if the worst-comes-to-the-worst (either a technical screw-up or dispute) I can point our domain at gmail or something. Or if we lose the website I'm sure I could get a placeholder one up in a couple of hours and point the domain at that too.

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Checkmate, GoDaddy – Google starts flogging dot-word domain names

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Devil

Re: Visited the site, and

Although I might cybersquat on http://www.theregister.pub...

Ken Y-N,

These people are currently testing a rocket propelled space plane missile, and you're proposing to upset them by stopping them going to the pub? Are you mad?

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2015 will be the Year of Linux on the, no wait, of the dot-word domain EXPLOSION

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Happy

Re: Quantum Jump domain

Bless you!

Do you need a clean hanky?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: .club isn't all bad.

I don't think there's much in it for me, or our small company. I can just about see the attractions of dot.london and all that geographical malarkey. Personally I think it's just going to give the marketing people the warm-fuzzies - and the customers won't even notice. But you never know. And something like dot.scot (or whatever they've gone for) might go down well.

I think there are a couple of cases where I can see things working:

Firstly is the global megacorp. A .microsoft or a .google. Particularly useful as they've all go so many properties that it can get quite confusing - whereas office.microsoft, updates.microsoft or maps.google is dead easy to understand. I was thinking about this after receiving a communication from my bank about never trusting a URL that isn't from Natwest. Only for them to be using a marketing.rbs.com site for one of the bits - which did rather defeat the whole object.

The problem with that is knowing when the URL is being spoofed, as you don't have a .com to look for, so if you don't know all the possible URLs in existence you can't tell when the domain name has stopped. So you might get fooled by a banking.natwest.2121213540884561512.phishingbastards.com - had natwest not registered that and just gone with dot.rbs.

I guess the second opportunity is the curated and expensive generic domains. So if someone properly does dot.bank - and spends decent money on marketing to the general public and security. So you know that anything followed by .bank is guaranteed to work - and guaranteed that no fraudsters are accepted and all (or the vast majority) of your country's banks have actually signed up. But that's quite a lot of if...

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Re: How about

How about Brummie-expert.fox then?

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Re: Cry me a river

J.G.Harston,

And then, after all that hassle to get them to type the domain correctly, you find they've just stuck it into the Google search box anyway, not the address bar...

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SpaceX drone hovership ROCKET LANDER BURN: Musk to try again

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Re: "floating barge"

One problem is that SpaceX have got launch facilities at Kennedy Space Centre, so they're a bit lacking in huge, flat expanses of desert to bring the rockets down in. If the worst comes to the worst and they can't land on the barge, I'm sure that won't be a problem. So long as they can prove that they can hover over a defined space with a very high degree of accuracy, they can always leave the difficult landing bit until the FAA certify them to attempt it on dry land.

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Re: "floating barge"

If you're going to do vertical landing of rocket stages, there's only one acceptable place to land them, and that's in the crater of an extinct volcano. I just don't know what the man's thinking!

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Dot-word domains 'a shakedown, designed to get money out of people'

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Re: On the upside...

I'd never even heard of .rocks. But I can well imagine that nothing good will come therefrom.

What about the quality of communications for dot.ninja?

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ROBOT-ON-DRAGON GRABHAND ACTION: SpaceX supply podule arrives at ISS

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You have to love SpaceX. They deliver everything to the ISS perfectly, return the first stage to.ground level in controlled flight (something no one else has done), then you hit one barge a bit hard and people print headlines about a failed mission.

Still, it's good to have high expectations.

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DAMN YOU! Microsoft blasts Google over zero-day blabgasm

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Re: Rules are rules

I'm not sure that even Oracle don't have the fanbois. Probably sad, wizened creatures - all looking rather like Gollum. They know they had their precious somewhere, but somehow seem to have mislaid it. None of them have yet noticed the coincidence that their precious disappeared just after the Oracle salesman came to visit.

But I'm told they exist, from someone who's observed "my database is better than yours" bunfights online.

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Re: Rules are rules

I await the voting with interest...

Apple fans got accused of being mindless downvoters ages ago, but I've never had that problem when making fair criticisms of them.

Being rude about Microsoft has been a sport for ages. If you count shooting fish in a barrel as sporting... In fact I used to get a lot of downvotes just from being nice about Windows Phone 7, back when I had one. My iPhone and my previous 'Droid were much better mobile computers, but the Lumia 710 was the best smartphone I've had at being a really good phone.

The funny thing is that the Google fanbois can still be relied upon to leap to the defence of their favourite company. Google do an awful lot right, so I guess there's a lot to like, but they also do an awful lot wrong - so there's plenty to criticise too. In my opinion they'll be a much better company when they've been taken down a peg or two. It certainly improved Microsoft.

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Re: Rules are rules

Probably a lot of the down-voters were complaining about this policy, when Google pulled the same stupid, arrogant, counter-productive stunt last year.

If you say you are going to do something, then do it. There seem to be a lot of downvotes on here from people who disagree with that principle.

OK. I'm going to strangle a cute little puppy every hour, unless someone brings me beer. OK. I've said it now, I've got to stick to it. Does that magically make it moral?

MS have a monthly patch cycle. Which makes their life easier, but also their customers' lives easier. Which is the reason they did it, rather than just releasing updates as soon as they were done. They've been doing it this way for years now.

MS told Google when the fix would get deployed. It doesn't look like a serious enough bug to break their patch cycle, so for Google to release a couple of days before that patch is irresponsible, unreasonable, and a (minor) risk to the security of users.

It doesn't make me think worse of MS. They have improved their security massively in the last 10 years, though it's far from perfect - and all software has bugs. And they certainly earned their shocking reputation in the period before that.

It does make me think worse of Google though. Their arrogance and lack of restraint reminds me of Microsoft of a few years ago. Also their completely piss-poor attitude to Android security means they should be dealing with their own glass house, before chucking stones at other peoples'. They deliberately set that system up to be a security nightmare. Which was just about understandable when they were trying to grow marketshare, but they've had the dominant hand in their vendor relationships for years now, and while they've acted to defend/gain control of features and data from the vendors by shoving more and more of the gubbins into Google Play Services - they've done fuck-all to address the gaping security vulnerability they've created by leaving patching to the vendors (who they fully know won't do it). At least MS make a decent attempt to test against the more common of their vendors drivers and customers' software - and set their system up to patch everybody.

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Tax Systems: The good, the bad and the completely toot toot ding-dong loopy

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Devil

Re: All that needs saying...

I've got this idea for an oxygen tax...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Tobin/Robin Hood Tax

How about making it so that shares had to be kept for a minimum of x months before being re-sold? The idea being to force investment in companies that people actually think have a future, as opposed to FX-style speculation.

So what happens if I buy stock in say Tesco, and it suddenly plumets in value due to mis-stating its accounts? Am I stuck with it? What if my dog suddenly dies, and I need to cash out some shares to buy the gold-plated coffin?

If you make an asset less liquid, you make it more risky, and therefore worth less. Which means that you've just devalued the pensions of everyone in this country.

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I ain't Spartacus
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VAT isn't a tax on transactions, althought that's when it's paid. It's a tax on improvement (value added).

We invoice for our services with 20% extra on for VAT. Every quarter we pay that money over to the government. So if we could earn any interest on the company account, I guess my time in doing the bloody paperwork (at the moment as happens) might be compensated. But our company are small, and we have to do the accounts anyway, so actually it's not all that expensive.

We buy a bunch of goods/services that attract VAT, but then we knock it off our quarterly payment to HMRC. So the effect of VAT on us is just some paperwork and collecting a bit of cash for old George Osborne, then bunging it to him each quarter.

Every step up the supply chain, everyone's adding on their margin to the value of the goods/service plus 20% VAT they can later reclaim. Until the music stops when someone not VAT registered buys it. They are the consumer. They have to swallow that 20% VAT as they can't reclaim - hence they're paying a consumption tax.

Everyone adds 20% to their invoice, gets it back, and sells on to the next link in the chain at the ex-VAT price they bought it for, plus the margin for their work. Plus the VAT again, which the next company will re-claim. None of those companies pay the VAT - although it can bugger up their cash-flow, And it all rolls merrily along until some poor herbett at the end of the line cops all that tax. Ooooh nasty...

It's a stange way to run a railroad. But I guess one of the side-effects is that the government has a lot better statistics on what's going on in the economy than it did before. And can do much better quarterly GDP figures. As each quarter I report to them how much we've invoiced and how much we've spent on stuff - and they can work out our payroll from the income tax and NI (which get reported monthly).

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Boybanders ONE DIRECTION launch DoS attack on open-source bods

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Facepalm

Re: Lordy...

It's not a denial of service attack. It's a Denial Of Hotel attack. Hence my use of the appropriate icon...

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Boffins open 'space travel bureau': Come relax on exoplanet Kepler-16b, says NASA

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Happy

Re: Act Now!

This is, of course, impossible.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: I nearly went to Kepler-1984 but....

I went with Ryanspace. I thought the flight only cost £10. It's just that taxes and fuel surcharge were £1,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Now my credit card company have hired assassins to hunt me down...

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World's largest ship swallows 900 MEGATINS of baked beans

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Happy

Re: the equivalent of 14,500 London buses"

Just a quick correction:

They're bendy and one half is full and the other half is empty on fire.

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CES 2015: The good, the mad and the POINTLESS

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Happy

That was a particularly bitter and sarcastic article. What's got into you? Did sir perhaps get out of the wrong side of bed this morning? Perhaps confused by the mirror on the ceiling...

Well done! Keep up the good work!

I'll buy an internet fridge the same day I buy IPv6 toilet paper with integrated webcam. Which is never, by the way. So don't worry.

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Dread Pirate Roberts suspect's defence holed below the waterline

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Re: « he had successfully arranged the Employee’s capture and execution »

My login's just stopped working! Does that mean this large plastic bag that's been placed here isn't for me to clear my desk, but for my body? Gulp!

Help! Please send hel...

...

...

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Sardine fishing in Kerala: Who benefits from mobile phones?

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Re: Ok, so...

Graham Marsden,

Your argument is a total straw man. Which I keep seeing repeated. No one sane believes in completly unfettered markets.

Firstly it's probably impossible to have a totally free, efficient and perfect market. The foreign exchange market has been cited for ages as one of the "best" markets around for all those things - and even that turns out to have had a cartel operating for years undetected. On the other hand, they probably only had a tiny effect, becuase one of the things that made the market so hard to monopolise/dominate/rig was the sheer volume of daily transactions, and number of participants. And I can't see how information can be perfectly distributed when even though much of the data is published globally, governments know their own data in advance and are themselves actors in the market.

One of the big arguments that free market advocates make is that you can't have a free market without property rights. Property rights by definition require government to intervene in the market. One of the reasons the Russian economy is so screwed is that they don't have good property rights. It's also one of the major risks to China's continued development, as some corrupt local party boss can just steal your business and chuck you in prison, or buldoze your house without compensation. It may be possible to have a working market economy without democracy, but it's not possible to sustain one without a mostly impartial legal system, in which it's possible to sue the government and win. And that requires at least a responsive, mostly honest and non-corrupt government, all things that dictatorships are notoriously bad at. That's why even before the Rouble crisis the Russian government was having to pay 11% interest to borrow money (with very little debt) even though the bankrupt Greek government were only paying about 7%.

Equally governments have to regulate for externalities (such as pollution and environmental damage), otherwise someone's short-term profit motive will end up trumping everyone's long-term interests.

In order to have properly working markets you also need government to regulate for safety standards (to stop the scumbags from undercutting the honest), minimum working conditions (ditto), and to deal with monopolies and cartels.

None of this is controversial with almost anyone that I've read from the right of politics, or in the free-market end of economics.

There are matters of degree of course. One man's government regulation to require minimum safety standards can be another man's deliberate attempt to block imports from their market. This is a game that is often played.

Government is a requirement of a 'free' market. The argument is over how much intervention is needed to make society more fair, and also operate more efficiently. For example, China's economy suffers from not having social security. Because people are scared of illness and unemployment, they save more than people have to do in the West, because we can rely to varying extents on the welfare state. Thus China's domestic consumption is too low to support its industry, forcing them to rely on exports, and there's too much money sloshing round the system meanning that money is being wasted in bad investments, hence China was previously destabilising our economies and helping to cause the global crash, and is now in the middle of its own unsustainable credit boom. Hence their government is now desperately trying to deflate their shadow-banking bubble, house price bubble and local government debt to regional banks without collapsing the economy.

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