* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4334 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Chopstick-collapsing Spam musubi

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Re: Spam in Scotland

Ooh 'eck! School dinner memories. Crikey DM!

My school never served Spam, so far as I can remember. But I am now having horrible flashbacks to the ravioli. Huge catering sized tins of the stuff. It was in a sauce, that managed to be bright, radioactive orange, and watery at the same time. Heaven knows how they managed that feat. And inside the soggy, ersatz tomato coated pillows of pasta was this sort of greyish mush, with the consistency of belly-button fluff, that I presume was mince. Shudders!

The less said about the pink blancmange the better!

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'Ugly Reddit commentards made me doubt humanity'

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Re: @Antonymous Coward, re: Eadon.

I'm pleased to say that I just can't get my brain round trying to impersonate Eadon - and so I don't feel too dirty after having tried. However I did manage to get the all-important trademark ending in. So I shall end this post in similar tribute with:

I AIN'T SPARTACUS FAIL!!!!!

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Re: @Antonymous Coward, re: Eadon.

2+2=5,

An EADON post could NEVER contain praise of Microsoft! That would be totally unacceptable! Microsucks are the worst company that has ever spewed forth upon the face of the earth - and everything they did was wrong.

AND YOU ALSO MISSED THE ALL IMPORTANT ALL-CAPS SUMMARY OF THE POST AT THE END!

2+2=5 FAIL!!!

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EU squashes bogus copyright scare as red-faced Guardian slaps down Wiki's Wales

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Re: Confused...

It was an amendment to a European Parliament report. Which they then reversed.

The European Parliament does not have the power to initiate legislation. Only the Commission can do that. It's one of the oddities of the European system. The Commission and everyone else produce reports and that should all get fed into the legislating process. But the Commission then puts out all the bills. These then go to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, who have lots of fun amending them, before they can be paseed.

It's all very complicated, and also some of it has changed since the Lisbon Constitution Treaty provisions came into force after the last Parliamentary elections and the new Commission took over.

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Re: Copyright extension sucks

This isn't about copyright extension. It's about people campaigning against copyright in general claiming that new rules are coming in to make copyright stricter, when that isn't actually the case.

And also pointing out that some of the people who campaign agains it (Google for a huge example), have a big interest in weakening copyright as that would be more money for them. So perhaps they shouldn't be given a free pass when claiming to be altruistic campaigners for right and justice.

I'm not sure about the Mickey Mouse thing. On the one hand, it's part of our culture now. So at some point it should be freely accessible to all. But on the other hand I don't really care, or see that it's doing massive harm to society to pay Disney its pound of flesh for Mickey related stuff. Again, in the case of song-writing copyrights, I want artists to get paid. If an artist dies young, I also don't see why their family shouldn't still get cash. But it seems to have gone too long. And music is much more culturalurally important than Mickey. Everyone sings songs, I'm not sure I care if some people are prevented from making Mickey Mouse mugs/toys/ears/whatever.

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7/7 memories: I was on a helpdesk that day and one of my users died

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Re: Abiding memory of 7/7

That reminds me of the Sioux City (Iowa) plane crash. Perfectly timed, in that they'd just practised their drill with the local hospitals and emergency services the week before.

Although obviously that was also down to some very experienced pilots doing the right thing and doing it well. Given that I believe in post-crash simulations no-one else managed to even reach the runway.

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Ooops. Pressed the wrong button...

Obviously there was John Smeaton at Glasgow aiport.

But I remember someone from the PFLP claimed responsibility for September 11th. Almost immediately an obviously panicked leadership not only denied all knowledge but also condemned the attacks. I think I just found it grimly amusing to hear a bunch of terrorists getting scared. On the other hand, it was also a sign of how serious and effective the attacks were, that the world had obviously changed - and even a bunch of terrorist has-beens (I'm not sure they were all that effective even back in the 70s/80s) could see it immediately.

Generally though, I think black humour is a healthy sign.

It got a friend of mine a new nickname. He was in Sudan at the time. He's got a nice big beard, and his new nickname at football was Osama...

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That reminds me of September 11th, when HQ (of my company at the time) was in Boston, and a bunch of people were on their way over to California that day. And in the confusion it was impossible to find out which flights had crashed and which our guys were on.

I also remember the internet totally failing me. Someone got a text from a friend about it, which I didn't believe and just assumed was a plane crash. But after the BBC, Guardian, Torygraph, Sky, NBC, New York Times and a few other websites I tried all failed to respond, I decided it must be true. Went up to the MD's office and stuck a piece of wire in the back of a TV used for presentations and managed to get a signal.

I was working from home for the London bombs - so could have Radio 5 on.

Weirdly I'd say New York had more impact for me. Despite living near London, with friends there, and knowing someone who was injured on one of the tube trains (it's had a huge effect on her of course). I guess because it was a different kind of attack, and had so much impact on global politics. Maybe also because I've always associated London and terrorism? So it was almost a normal thing. My Dad narrowly avoided serious injury in the IRA's Hyde Park bomb - and was nearby for another one as well.

I also remember a couple of moments of probably inappropriate humour

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NASA chooses ace SPACE PILOTS who'll take the USA back into manned flight

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Yeah, they had one of those in The Times the other day. I just need to collect 1,000,000,000 coupons from each day's paper, and at the end of it, they'll fly me to the Moon for £1.

Terms and conditions apply. No more than one application per household. You may not fly on weekends, bank holidays, peak travel times (such as Christmas, Summer, Winter, Autumn, Easter or Spring). See paper for more details.

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Greek PM Alexis Tsipras brings the EU to its knees

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Re: Can the Eurogroup count?

Charlie Clark,

Greece has made massive reforms. It's gone from developing world levels of transparency, openess and ease of business to Southern European levels, in the last 5 years. At least according to OECD charts.

That's not wonderful of course, but it's much more than the lying wankers of the Troika are willing to acknowledge with all their shit about "Greece having to do its homework", and Greece having done no reform.

Also notice that when they keep saying Greece hasn't brought proposals to Eurogroup meetings, at least three times, that's because the Commission technical teams have refused to pass their proposals on because they were trying to force the Greeks to only produce proposals that fitted within a very narrow scope. It was then extra convenient that they could then lie about having no proposals to discuss. Although there are also times when Greece has been late with stuff, which I susepct is because their civil service doesn't function properly at the best of times - and is helping Syriza even less than it would the established parties (given it's so full of their clients). The head of the Central Bank is a former New Democracy finance minister for example.

Greece's underlying problem is political anyway. It doesn't have a functioning civil service or a fucntioning political system - and because of that people will never trust in the system and pay tax. It also doesn't have all those civil society institutions like think tanks and independent analysts of government policy. There's no way the UK government could get away with cooking the books in the way the Greeks did in the boom years, it would get spotted. The information exists, for people to draw their own conclusions on UK debt sustainability.

The Troika have never touched the political area. Which is where Greece is crying out for reform. And of course they had the almighty carrot of debt relief to offer in exchange for particular reforms too. Another proof that they haven't been honest or beneficial actors.

On debt sustainability though you're both right, and totally wrong. Greece cannot safely exit the program until it's in a position to get market access again. Even if just for 3 month paper to tide it over between high tax months and low ones. Plus the next recession - if it ever gets out of this one. No one will lend to a country with debt-to-GDP ratios of 180%, even if that's actually manageable because the interest rates are low - and maturities long.

Secondly the Troika's own failures make the debt unsustainable. The ECB, by allowing deflation, means that even if Greece grew by 2% this year, it would still go backwards on debt-to-GDP levels. This is the same for Italy, but at least Italy finally gets QE. The Greeks don't. And should have - if their central bank were politically neutral. Making the ECB a creditor was a disastrous mistake. Then again, so was creating the Euro...

But it's the Troika that keep on insisting on insane levels of Greek government surpluses, that if implemented will push Greece further into depression. The more they squeeze them for debt repayments, the less money they'll get. The Germans, of all people, should know this lesson by heart.

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Can the Eurogroup count?

For your information I include this piece from an EU thinktank. www.bruegel.org-linky

Now before you think that this is some wimpy old marxist Greek sympathiser, this is the guy who designed the Troika "bail-out" of Ireland, as he was head of the IMF's European department at the time.

So when he says that the IMF and Eurogroup have just spent the last few months negotiating in bad faith, and that the IMF should actually be forced to take losses on their Greek lending as a punishment (losing their super-seniority for the first time ever), you should listen.

Basically the trajectory of this crisis is as follows. Corrupt Greek policians ran their country horribly badly. Given they were buying votes with government jobs, and few people paid their taxes, the Greek voters can't just get away with blaming their politicians either. But they were allowed into the Euro anyway, because it was a political project. And those of us who pointed out the flaws at the time were ignored/laughed at.

I'd say that William Hague's description from the 90s was rather prescient. He said that in a crisis, the Eurozone was "like a burning building with no exits". As you can see from the Greek crisis, where they have the choice of totally fucking their economy by leaving, or slowly fucking it by staying in.

When the crisis hit it was then decided to bail out the crisis countries. But in the most retarded way possible. They would be loaded up with unsustainable levels of debt in order to save the Eurozone banking system. In reality it was the French and German banks that were most exposed to Ireland and Greece. Spain were later forced to bail out their own banks, but the Germans and the French preferred to get other people to bail theirs out. Although actually Germany spent more than the UK did in its own bank bail-out, and still their Landesbanken are in a horrible mess.

However various people wanted the IMF involved. Partly as a body to duck behind for political cover. But also because the Eurosystem didn't have much crisis expertise.

However, again, the IMF's rules only allow bail-outs of countries if they're sustainable. This is normally done by making the creditors take haircuts, in exchange for some IMF loans to tide the country over until they can borrow from the markets again and tough reforms. This is also accompanied by devaluation to give a burst of inflation (and avoid the risk of deflation) and a chance of export-led growth.

There was no creditor hair-cut whatsoever! There was no devaluation. The ECB refused to reflate these countries with QE, and even raised interest rates in 2010/11!!!!! Plus no QE. And even when they finally did QE this year, they specifically designed the program not to include Greece who have 2.8% deflation at the moment, and therefore need it most.

This breaks all the IMF rules, but they re-wrote them for saving the Eurozone. Which to be fair, was probably sensible - as collapsing the Eurozone in 2010 would have buggered the world economy. Although the IMF board minutes got leaked and there were lots of objections given how awful this would be for Greece. Even the Swiss delegate said the austerity would be too harsh...

The IMF predicted the Greek economy would shrink by 5%. It shrank by 11% that year. And the same the next year. Hence the 2012 second Greek bail-out. Because the first one had failed. All the governments refused to take any losses. So the few remaining private creditors of the Greek government took the brunt of the hit. This was basically the Greek pension and banking system. Which then needed bailing out, and is one of the reasons they're now saying the Greek pension system is unsustainable. Because they buggered it up in the last bail-out.

BTW this is also what buggered up the Cypriot economy. And led to their bail-out. They were promised help, as many of their (actually well run) banks had lots of Greek government debt, as there wasn't enough Cypriot debt for them to hold as reserves. That help was never given, and they were given a deliberately crap bail-out to punish them for having too much Russian money on deposit. Interestingly the Greek and Cypriot banks were cautious, with lots of savings on deposit and reasonably high interest rates. Unlike the French, Italian, German or our banks - who had to be rescued due to their own incompetence...

In 2013 the IMF admitted that they'd screwed up on their calculations on Greece. The Greek economy had now shrunk by 26%, government spending had been cut by 25%, unemployment was 27% and youth unemployment was 50%. This is 1930s territory.

They also calculated that the Greek fiscal multiplier was more than 1. That means that for every euro of spending cuts or tax rises, the Greek economy would shrink by more than one euro! That means that the only way for Greece to pay off its debts is to stop cutting government spending (or raising taxes) until after the economy has started growing again. With debt to GDP of 180%, Greece would need to be running huge government surpluses until the mid 2020s, and their economy to be growing to get this paid down. The IMF tried to pretend that this was possible up until June this year, after the fucking negotiations had broken down, then admitted that Greeece needed €50 billion of debt relief. When it was too late.

The IMF has been run by two French politicians with ambitions for later advancement in French politics, and both of them have ignored guidance from the technical (i.e. economically literate) department. I'm sure this is just a co-incidence though...

Syriza have negotiated badly, and are inexperienced. On the other hand, the required debt relief has been refused discussion by the Eurogroup until after the referendum finally forced them to. Hence the original article I quoted, about negotiating in bad faith.

The economic argument is unarguable. Greece needed debt relief in 2010, or it would never be able to pay back its debts. Surprisingly enough it's still failing to cover them. It's made the biggest cuts of any economy in modern peacetime history. It's had the deepest depression of any economy in modern peacetime history. The programme offered it by the Troika in recent negotiations is designed in such a way that it can't do anything but fail. So leaving the Euro is Greece's only option, as the Troika program would have put Greece back into recession by now even if Syriza had accepted it in January this year.

This will go down as the biggest economic fuck up in modern history. Because everyone involved knew the Troika programs would fail, but did it anyway.

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PLUTO: The FINAL FRONTIER – best image yet of remote, icy dwarf planet REVEALED

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Re: For anyone who's tried to "shoot the Moon"...

I tried to shoot the moon. But I missed.

Now I just howl at it...

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Re: Just for a laugh...

Ah, but the Saturn V was just a decoy. Admittedly quite a big decoy... But the real mission was flown by the Airforce from Edwards on the X51.

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FLYING PIG crash-lands in Utah: Rider survives, bacon saved

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Re: Quick thinking that man!

Although he did end up sandwiched between 2 piles of bricks. Butty spoke of his survival with relish - and I'm sure the journalists didn't grill him too hard.

...I should probably stop now...

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Quick thinking that man!

What, for coming up with turning the burners to full? Anyone could have done that.

No. For getting "what saved my bacon" into his press interview, of course.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: New form of lift

Make a balloon shaped like a politician

When a 100' tall grinning Tony Blair goes floating past my window, I am going to hunt you down and take revenge for coming up with that idea!

Actually he probably wouldn't do it. Much more likely is the Boris Balloon.

You're going to burn in hell...

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Router cockup grounds United Airlines flights WORLDWIDE

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Can't they just do it like Das Boot? When you want to take off you make all the fattest passengers run to the back of the aircraft, then when you get to crusing altitude you make them lie in a big heap in the aisle over the wings.

Obviously it's bad for passenger morale when the pilot comes on the PA and screams, "ALLLLAAAARRRRMMMMMM!!!!!!!!". But it's a small price to pay for getting off on time...

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Re: Sensational

The Chinese stock market is down to China not having read their history of the Wall Street Crash in 1929. Apparently 90% of their stocks are owned by individual investors - and loads of them have borrowed money to buy the stocks, which is why the Shanghai index has doubled in price over the last 18 months. So of course when the price drops, you have to sell before the value of the shares you own goes below the value of the debt you took out to pay for them. When half the other people on the market are in the same boat, things go wrong very quickly.

Margin trading is scary. Don't do it kids!

One big difference is that China's government can do whatever the hell they like. So they've suspended trading in half the market, they can make the banks write-off the loans, or just abolish the stock market.

The Chinese banking sector is in some ways quite well regulated. They have reasonably high interest rates and very high capital requirements. A lot of their bad loans are also to local government, so the national government will probably have to bail them out. On the other hand the shadow banking industry is huge, and barely regulated. Possibly they were too cautious with the banks, so people went elsewhere? And that mess will be painful to clean up.

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Berlin pours bucket of flat beer on Patriot missile hack report

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Re: Seriously?

Although there possibly was a Syrian missile battery (or several) that did odd things. When Israel bombed Syria's nuclear site a few years ago it was rumoured that they first did something horrible to their air defence network. Possibly involving shutting down their radars. Details were pretty scarce at the time, I don't know if much has come out since.

That of course could have been hacking, an inside job, special forces breaking things or any number of other shennanigans.

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Norks execute underperforming terrapin farm manager

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He went to school in Switzerland, so he's got some outside experience. Actually perhaps that's where he learnt his management techniques? Do Toblerone employ death squads? Enquiring minds would like to know...

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Pluto probe brain OVERLOAD: Titsup New Horizons explained

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Re: Deadline detector.

I thought that feature was only normally enabled on printer CPUs. Did NASA get HP to write their drivers?

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'The server broke and so did my back on the flight to fix it'

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Re: I feel your pain (quite literally)

Ah, back pain memories... Or should I say, Aaaaarrgghhh!!!!? It's astonishing how painful they can be. Rib injury that led to the whole upper back and neck going into spasm for me. Morphine took a couple of days to touch the pain, and I have no memories at all about the rest of that week.

One thing it's taught me is never to try to soldier on. Loosening excercises every half hour and maybe NSAIDs or muscle relaxants. If you're in too much pain to do stretches, then it's time for the doctor.

I've learnt to dread that slow progressive stiffening and tightening, with increasing levels of pain, as the muscles start to spasm. And it's a right old bugger to stop major back spasms when they're taken hold. Plus hurting like someone digging knives into your brain. But I've found it mostly can be controlled early on in the process.

Now if I'd got my domestic robot and jet pack, like Tomorrow's World promised, there'd be a lot less strain on my back. Can I sue the BBC?

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Reg hack survives world's longest commercial flight

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Re: Polar Routes

Photos or I don't believe you.

I guess he didn't bring his polaroid.

Of course you can't see it, if he's got polaroids. That means he's sat on it - which is what caused them in the first place.

It brings tears to your eyes. And I thought frostbite was bad...

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Linux Mint 17.2: If only all penguinista desktops were done this way

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Re: @James Loughner Lack of upgrades is a killer for me

Linux is basically like a box of sweets: some of us like to try all of them, even the strawberry cremes.

Pervert!

I bet you eat those filthy coffee ones as well. You disgust me!

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UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends' friends

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Re: Nothing new here

As stated, it's in WinPho 8.1 already. I believe it's defaulted to on when you get the phone, but it's one of the setup questions you have to answer, so you can turn off the switch. I'd imagine that's what they'll do in the production version of Windows 10 as well.

It's more of a security risk than Apple holding your WiFi passwords when you cloud back-up your iThings. Does Android do cloud backup now (I'm out of date)?

To be honest, if you're going to go to the trouble of parking in the corporate car park, can't you just sniff some packets and break the WiFi security anyway? I thought that only took a few minutes nowadays?

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Teaching people to speak English? You just need Chatroulette without the dick pics

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Devil

Use the Force

This app will require the phone to be plugged in. And you'll have to use our special handsets, a modified 'Droid of some sort probably.

Then it will show you a picture. Or a video of someothing happening. You get text underneath, which you have to say out loud. If the speech recognition doesn't like it, then you get nice little electric shock through the phone casing.

Make more mistakes, the voltage goes up.

All stick and no carrot you say? Hmmm. You could be right there. How's about then that if you're good, and get all your lessons right, then you get access to other people failing, via the webcam - then you can press the button to shock some other poor hapless learner.

In fact, this can save us the hassle of having to write / pay for a speech recognition engine.

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Re: Ladybird or maybe ChatRoulette WITH the, er....

How about the CompuTeach from Hitch Hikers' Guide? "Now you may press the button" Then you just need to invent some sort of orgasmatron that can be built into a mobile phone.

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Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

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Re: "Not til we have some planes to go on them..."

How do they defend against Exocets, etc. these days?

Faster missiles with longer ranges and better radars. Particularly with computers better able to pick up sea skimmers from the surface clutter. And radar controlled gattling guns for last-ditch defence too nowadays.

Oh and also supposedly computers that can handle multiple targets, with multiple launchers to attack them with. One of the problems in the Falklands was with the computers getting confused, unable to prioritise which of two equally dangerous targets to engage - and going into reset mode and ignoring both. They were engaging at such close range that there wasn't time for the operators to override. I think it was at least Coventry that got it that way?

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I thought that was ICANN policy now. In order to avoid complicated and annoying bunfights, such as this one, they just followed the ISO list and let someone else sort it out.

Although I suppose that doesn't help if people just waste all your time trying to get you to change that policy instead.

It's not exactly an uncommon problem. For example the Palestinian Authority have now got FIFA menmbership, and what's one of their first actions? To try and get FIFA to ban a bunch of Israeli teams.

Although at least they have a serious dispute with Israel. Greece has wasted years of everyone's time childishly pissing around because when Macedonia left Yugoslavia, Greece has a provice called Macedonia - and it would somehow hurt national pride to allow a country to use it. Or they're not the real Macedonians, they're just very not boys... Or somesuch bollocks.

So we now have the ludicrous situation of a country called The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in order to satisfy a bunch of Greek policiticans who would have better spent their time not running their country's economy off a cliff. Although to be fair, they only crashed it into a tree, it was the IMF, EU and Germany who actually pushed the wreck over the edge of the cliff.

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Re: Get yer skates on Argentina!

Argentina don't seem to have spent much money on their navy or airforce since the war. Certainly not in recent years. I had a look online a while ago, and they still seemed to have the same Daggers and Skyhawks as before, only now they're 50 years old, instead of 20. So I'd imagine they wouldn't be able to put up more than a few of them at a time.

There was a story going round a month or so ago that Argentina were looking to lease some attack planes off the Russians. Although only SU24s iirc, so nothing all that modern. It also seems a little hard on the pilots to hire a bunch of bombers, and no fighters to protect them. The MOD responded by promising to update the Falklands missile batteries in the next few years, and I guess they can always sling some more Typhoons down there, to augment the 4 they've got.

The navy seems to have even less of the old stuff left working - and also not much new.

In 1982 we had 80-odd marines and one old ice patrol ship. The garrison is now a battalion of troops, 4 modern fighters with airbase to fly in more, a modern air defence destroyer, SAMs an ice patrol ship and (I seem to remember) an armed fisheries protection ship, plus maybe a submarine.

It would taken a serious effort to amphibiously invade close to Port Stanley against a whole battalion of troops, let alone all the other stuff. Argentina could have done that in 1982 (with some losses), They'd seriously struggle now. Otherwise you've got to invade somewhere like Teal Inlet, San Carlos (where we did) or Bluff Cove and walk. Which takes a while, and allows for re-inforcements. Our strategy seems designed to make a surprise attack very unlikely, and then fly down reinforcements in case of a scary looking build up.

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Re: How about a swap?

I can't work out who the down-voters are. Is it angry Scots who don't want to speak Spanish, angry Argentinians who really, really want their dose of penguins, or people with no sense of humour?

A friend of mine's Dad is Glaswegian and his Mum is from Southern Spain. She learned english from him, so has a combined Spanish/Glaswegian accent that is just a little hard to understand.

I've not heard his spanish, so don't know whether he speaks spanwegian or not.

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How about a swap?

We keep the Falklands, and Argentina can have Scotland instead. Everyone should be happy then. Argentina get somewhere British and windswept with oil, the Scots are rid of the English, and we can get some peace and quiet without being constantly told off by their government.

I know Scotland doesn't have any penguins, but we could tell them that the pandas are giant ones. They'd never notice until it was too late...

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Ditching political Elop makes for a more Nadella Microsoft

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Re: Interesting article Trevor

Trevor,

I hope not. I've just bought one. Probably cursed it for everyone else now...

Thanks for a really good article by the way. I really enjoyed the perspective.

I never bought into the conspiracy theories either, Nokia were buggered way before he was brought in. But I did sort of feel that it was a failure of management that he didn't try to take one of their technologies and railroad it through management til their eyes watered. It seemed a bit lacking in confidence in his own abilities.

Even though I can understand the good reasons for not wanting to be the 3rd (well I guess 5th? at the time) phone ecosystem competing for customers and developers. Was WebOS still going when he took over at Nokia? Or was it just 4, with Blackberry?

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Re: Mobile vision

I've just stepped back into WinPhone. Bought a Lumia 735 at the weekend, and had it all set up in a pretty short time. But my phone demands are quite limited, I care about the address book and phone most, and knew what I was getting into. Tablets are for fun, apps and techy tinkering - the phone is a basic work tool - that also handles my personal comms. If I need more, I can just tether the iPad.

But I recommended one to my Mum over a month ago. She struggles with tech, and is in her 70s. She got the Lumia 630 for £60. I had to show her how to use it, but she's asked me one single, solitary question about how to use it since! Sorry, two, she didn't know how to put it on mute last week. I got more questions than that in the first week of her having an iPad. So it definitely is easy to use. And she's happy with it, even though it was 10% of the price of a new iPhone - which she already knows as an iPad user.

Sod's law is MS will kill it. It's certainly never had all the love it needs to make it a mainstream success.

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Layoff-happy Capita charges staff to use cutlery in canteens

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Unhappy

Re: "value-added solutions?"

Well, a spoon really does add value to scalding hot bowl of soup.

Although I'd personally prefer to introduce that PR person to some e-re-training, via a multi-disciplinary agricultural/business crossover methodology - utilising a bovine stimulation prod device.

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BOFH: Don't go changing on Friday evenings, I don't wanna work that hard

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Devil

Re: It's all in the plan

Ah, I remember this from a surprise tax inspection.

Standard procedure is firstly to panic.

Second to get a dedicated laser printer and some coffee (some to drink, and some to put convincing stains on the new documents in order to avoid them looking quite so fresh and new. That, a bit of crumpling and a few staples give a nice convincing air of versimilitude to your new creation.

Then station the nice tax inspector on the cushiest office available, on the top floor, with tea and biccies. Hoping that they'll ring down for the documents they want to see, rather than descend and climb 4 flights of stairs, giving you sufficient time to print what's missing.

There was no fraud on my part here. Just that the company's backup strategy for the accounts had been to, erm, not do any backups of that particular server. Ooops. I was one of the people brought in to fix it, and I'd reconstructed it in Excel, just not in the accounts software or the files yet.

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Happy

Re: Its a small change!

I don't understand. Surely this is the best time to make changes that go horribly wrong. At least you've got two days of oblivion drinking first, before you have to deal with it. And if you're lucky, it'll all sort itself out, someone (not you obviously) on call-out will have to deal with it, or nuclear armaggedon / asteroid strike will happen first.

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Microsoft's curious Sway comes to iPad and iPhone

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Devil

Oh the silly names. My eyes! My eyes!

So someone Skyped me that they've had a tweet to go on Yammer and look at someone's Sway about this new product, which is going to allow you to present things in a way that Google's Wave might have done if they hadn't axed it, which will save you from putting your stuff on Flickr, Pinterest or Vine.

I thought I could stop learning new languages and doing vocab tests when I left school. Seemingly not. Perhaps I should write a stiff letter to The Times, or maybe telephone Feedback on the BBC Home Service - as the wireless is a much more modern medium on which to air my complaint.

Yours,

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

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We forget NOTHING, the Beeb thunders at Europe

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Happy

Re: Right to be forgotten option

what do we raise in a celebratory toast?

Sussex now makes some of the finest sparkling wine in the world. Although as it's even more outrageously expensive then champagne that sparkling white wine from a region of the country who shall not be named, I don't drink it myself.

Apparently a small shift in climate over the last 50 years, now makes Sussex perfectly suited to produce the stuff how it used to taste. Personally I prefer Cava, at least when it comes to the prices I'm willing to pay. I've never felt rich enough to do taste testing of many £50-£100 bottles.

As an alternative, there's beer.

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Yahoo! displaces Ask in Oracle's Java update crapware parade

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Angel

Re: Liars and crooks

What Oracle? Behave unethically and dishonestly? I won't have it! They are the fluffiest, cuddliest, most loveable company-wompany in all of toyland.

Next you'll be trying to tell me that Facebook don't respect our privacy...

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Pirate MEP pranks Telegraph with holiday snap scaremongering

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What do you mean "yet"?

The European Parliament is only a semi-serious institution. Sometimes it does lots of important stuff, and takes it seriously. Sometimes it rubber stamps stuff that it can't really be bothered to debate. Sometimes it has reports and enquiries where the loonies with a cause are sort of left to get on with it by everyone else.

What it can't do, is write legislation. That's the Commission's job. Only the European Commission can initiate legislation. The EP and the Council of Ministers then have a huge bunfight over amending it, and getting something closer to what they want, then it gets voted on.

As the Commission haven't even put out their proposals yet, we don't know what they'll go for.

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Hey, Sand Hill Exchange. Shouting 'blockchain!' won't stop the Feds

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Sirius Lee,

A stable housing market is a good thing. It's not a bloody investment, it's a place to live! This is important. The reason to buy is that you're hoping to have paid the mortgage off before you retire, and that's better than renting for your entire life. You also get to make whatever improvements you want to a house you own, which might not be considered worthwhile by a landlord.

Making loads of money on a house might make you feel good, and that you've got an asset to spend against, but if every other house goes up as well, it's only a gain if you cash it in at retirement, and downsize. And if houses were cheaper, you wouldn't have been spending that cash on the mortgage anyway, so you could have put it into your pension.

The other thing wild rises cause is the huge amount of buy-to-let investors. I've no problem with people who want to be landlords, but they should be making their money by charging rent, not hoping to keep on mortgaging to buy more property then using the growth in value as security for more mortgages, thus causing a huge runaway housing bubble, and subsequent crash. Which incidentally bankrupts them, and takes out a bunch of the banks that lent to them.

As you say though, deflation is even worse.

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Re: "there's no way of selling a house you don't own to speculate on falling house prices"

Can somebody explain why this is a real-world problem for normal people?

Normal people buy houses. Normal people struggle to price them, because they're not permanent members of the housing market (they only get involved when it comes time to move). This means that houses may often be mis-priced. So people may be paying too much or too little. Given it's the single biggest financial transaction (and committment) of our lives, it would be better if we got it right.

Also, a market that suffers from continual upward pressure, with limited price moderating tools is going to be more prone to bubbles and then sudden collapses, which means people get stuck in negative equity and have their financial lives ruined for years/decades.

We know the market doesn't operate too well. So then we start to try and use economic tools to look at it, and see if it teaches us anything useful.

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Re: Who stands to gain from such an Exchange being created?

There would be a theortical advantage to having a more complex housing market. The ability to hedge against risk. To be honest it would be such a complex financial package that the banks would be bound to mis-sell it, causing endless headaches, refunds and fines a decade later.

But let's say you could buy a negative equity protection mortgage. You might pay an insurance premium each month on your mortgage - or it could even be free. Then when you came to sell up, you would be protected against a market crash and get some agreed amount that was more than enough to pay off the original mortgage. But if you sell when the markets risen, you'd lose a percentage of the profit you made.

This would arguably be very good for ordinary people, who need a house to live in, not as an investment. So although they risk losing out on some profit, should they lose their job, or have to move at short notice, wouldn't get screwed if that happened to occur in the 2-3 in 20 years when that happens to be a financially disastrous decision, as prices just happen to have temporarily collapsed in their area.

This market would allow people to go short or long on the insurance costs - so the price of the insurance would be a proxy for housing market sentiment.

It is the sort of thing that the financial markets are actually really good at. Some people and companies are busy doing real things and might not want risk in their lives or businesses. Others have money to invest, and want profits. So they can use their cash (via derivatives and insurance) to make a profit from the unwanted risk of the other parties. Meanwhile thess guys lose some of thier profit in the good times, but also are insulated against losses in the bad. Hence farmers might sell their crops way ahead of harvest, because it's a choice of a guaranteed price that protects them from going bankrupt, or the possibilty of bumper profits, if there's a shortage come harvvest time.

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Kamikaze Rosetta probe to ram comet it's chased for billions of miles

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Flame

Re: Rosetta is cool?

but it bloody hurts when you spill a fresh cup of tea down your pants!

In space, no one can hear you steam...

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Google's new free music service is classic Google: Take someone's idea and slap ads on it

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Re: Songza?

Listen to Tiesto's Musical Onanism[TM] on Wangka!

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WikiLeaks spaffs files showing NSA spied on French presidents

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Re: USA/FRance Allies?

Congress banned the US government from sharing nuclear secrets, on the grounds this would give the US a massive advantage for decades. The Russians had the bomb from a combination of spying and knowing it was possible before the end of the 40s. Britain had the advantage that we'd merged our program with the US when they joined the war - so even though they weren't sharing the results, we had some of the scientists who'd generated them to replicate them. And the Labour government were willing to spend in order to get it, whereas immediate post-war France didn't have the cash yet.

Although I've read some suggestions recently that we cheated on the hydrogen bomb. We built a really huge fission bomb, lied to the Americans (and the world), claiming it was a fusion one when it was tested. And then did a deal with the US to trade nuclear info. Since we'd gone for a different method of making the hydrogen bomb to them (which wasn't working out yet), and already had some fission designs they were interested in, we did a swapsie. Naughty, naughty!

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Re: What a surprise...

Of course we co-operate. Where our interests overlap. And of course we also spy on each other, where they don't. Everyone spies on everyone. At least if they can afford it.

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Re: I'd be more suprised if they DIDN'T spy on us

But nobody in France minded the President poppping round to see his mistress. What they were disgusted by was that he did it in such a common way as to use a scooter, when he should have been going round there in a chauffeur driven limo. Got to get your priorities right.

The French government planted a bomb in their own London ambassador's official residence garden in the 80s. This was because Mitterand was coming on a visit, and they wanted to bring their own armed security, and the government wouldn't let them. So the idea was to embarrass the British Diplomatic Protection Group, and thus win the argument - and bring their own armed guards over.

Diplomacy isn't always that friendly, even amongst allies.

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