* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4046 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

The voters hate Google. Heeeeyyyy... how about a 'Google Tax'?

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Who benefits?

VAT isn't a tax on turnover. It's a tax on consumption.

The reason for this is that any organisation that's VAT registered gets to claim back any VAT it pays. So any company that sells business-to-business is almost totally unaffected by VAT. You charge it, pay it on the stuff you buy from other businesses, then hand over the difference to HMRC. But becasue the companies you sell to are businesses, they claim back the VAT you charged them as well.

It's only when that final invoice in the chain hits a consumer, or a company too small to be VAT registered, that someone finally has to swallow the VAT element.

Until then, all VAT has done is create lots of paperwork and sometimes cashflow problems. Also it means you're reporting quarterly sales and costs to HMRC, which really helps with working out the state of the economy.

As you say though, corporation tax is a tax on profits. Not turnover. Hence all the arguments about Amazon seem ridiculous, given they don't make much profit. The problem with Amazon is the distortion they create with the Single Market VAT system, helping them to out-compete local companies on price.

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Re: MP's Outside business interests

Boris the cockroach,

You don't appear to understand the British political system. Almost any bill that affects the tax code is going to be written by the Treasury. Probably with mininmal influence from back-benchers. You might get some input from the treasury select committee. But the efficient way to lobby on the tax code would be to offer future employment to HMRC and Treasury officials. Or I guess the Chancellor himself (if you're feeling ambitious).

On the other hand, Gordon Brown has been the cause of a lot of the recent extra complication in our tax rules. And the introduction of various incentives (which often become loopholes). And for all his faults, I think he did it because he wasn't very good at his job as Chancellor, and becasue he has a tenedency to focus on detail. This made him a great electoral tactician, but not a very good Cahncellor or Prime Minister. I wouldn't put it down to corruption.

Quite frankly I'm sick and tired of this lazy cynicism about politics, as some sort of replacement for critical thought. The answer is more likely to be cock-up than conspiracy on almost any topic. It's basically a bollocks argument.

British politics is by any global standards very clean. Our biggest recent scandal has been about a few million quid paid out on excessive expenses - which was basically done as a dodgy backroom deal in order to avoid the bad publicity of giving MPs pay rises. But our politics compares favourably in these terms to US, French, German, Japanese, or anyone else in the G20 (with the possible exception of Canada, which I don't know anything about). I've not even mentioned Italy, Spain or Greece, let alone Russia/China etc. I bet the Scandinavians are better than us, given they place higher than us on Transparency International's list. You'll never get totally clean politics, because power attracts (and affects) money - but a fair analysis of the limits of our political system is much needed from the electorate.

Oh, and the subject of this article was about avoiding tax due to the rules of the Single Market. Which is a problem at a European level, that MPs have even less influence on.

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I ain't Spartacus
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I have no idea what the tax position of IKEA is, I know almost nothing about the company.

However I think it very unlikely that it's due to pay corporation tax on €40 billion.

€40bn is its sales. Corporation tax is paid on profits. That's likely to be a much smaller number - and therefore look far less impressive. There is a rather enormous difference between the two. It's like the mythical £6 billion Vodafone tax bill that they supposedly avoided paying. When that number appears to have been plucked out of thin air, and much of the story seems to have related to the profits of the German company they'd bought. Where whatever tax was due, was probably Germany's.

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It is when your "home country" is a brass plaque on a lawyers office in the Caribbean.

That might be so. But when you operate in the European Single Market, you only have to set up your legal entity in one of those states, to then be able to operate in all the others. That's how the system was designed, and that does convey economic benefits. There are also downsides though, and this tax issue is one of them. On the other hand, it makes it harder to tell what's being done for the purposes of tax avoidance, and what is being done becuase it's the most efficient way to run an organisation.

There will never be a perfect solution to this problem. Something will always be left to individual interpretation of what's "right" or "moral", or what the law means. Since we try to make everyone equal before the law, that means it'll go to court, and be decided on the letter of the law. And that may create political pressure to change that law. But whatever we do, someone will either be disadvantaged by an unintended consequence, or find an unintended way to profit from one of the exceptions created to avoid disadvantaging someone else. Such is politics.

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It would make this whole area of discussion a lot easier (and more pleasant), if people could lay off the childish point-scoring crap. MPs don't pay corporation tax, nor are most of them likely to operate across international boundaries. So they'd personally be much more likely to take advantage of loopholes in personal taxation law. Sure there are some MPs with outside business interests, who will be involved in this. But the big problems here tend to be large global corporations, who by definition operate very complicated structures across many international boundaries. And even if they were trying to pay as much tax as possible, would still have very complicated tax affairs.

Having some juvenile dig at MPs does not help matters.

In this particular case, one of the major problems is that there is almost no way a single parliament and/or government can address this issue. Even if we weren't in the EU and the Single Market, we still couldn't please ourselves on this law, as it's all subject to international tax treaties. We're plugged into a global economy. Mostly that's a good thing, and makes us all better off. But it has some downsides. There now looks to be an international consensus that corporation tax needs fixing, but even if that goes full speed ahead, and every government in the world shared the same political beliefs, it would still take years to get all the agreements hammered out and implemented.

Plus we're in the EU, which severely limits our freedom of action. As the article discusses.

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Re: more UKIP nonsense

cap'n,

I'm not sure your argument makes much sense. We can tax things that effect companies who are resident in the UK for tax purposes (Windfall taxes / bank taxes etc.). It's much harder to do that to companies that are resident in other tax jurisdictions. Particularly if they are using the rules of the Single Market to trade within the EU. I'm no tax lawyer and I haven't looked at this legislation, but Tim Worstall makes a decent argument as to why it may not comply, and will quite possibly end up being decided by the ECJ in several years time.

Having dismissed his argument, you then go onto some sort of attack, possibly on UKIP, possibly on Worstall, though you don't specify. And it's not relevant to the article.

It's possible that the UK, being the second biggest economy in Europe (although that may depend on how you measure it between us and France), has a lot more negotiating leverage than Switzerland. And can carve out a better deal. Particularly as we run a trade deficit with the rest of the EU (a surplus with the rest of the world) - and there would be lots of political pressure from big EU companies wanting to keep access to the UK market. Espeically as the only plans for Eurozone recovery seem to be based on exporting, rather than stimulating internal demand, and for that they need markets willing to import.

On the other hand, the irrationality of the way the negotiations are currently being handled with Greece suggests there's a second option, where the EU plays the rejected lover and decides collectively to punish the UK for the insult of leaving. Despite doing more damage to its own economy in the process than it does to ours. I believe if we do decide to leave, that the agreement has to be unanimously approved by all member states, the Commission and the European Parliament. There don't seem to be many genuine Federalist believers left in politics at the national level, but there are many at the EP.

It's interesting that Cameron has not even put it on his list of things to try to negotiate, any restrictions on free movement. He's decided it's just not possible, so there's no point asking, he's better to try to negotiate on things he can actually get. One of which is to try deal with the technical differences between benefits systems. Many EU countries have contributory systems, so poorer migrants have much smaller incentives to go to those places. Where as we have in-work benefits for which you don't need to have contributed beforehand. So that could be acting as an incentive for people to come here, and take low-paid jobs - and price down the wages of the lowest paid. There might be a deal there, as Germany has similar issues.

However I presume you were attacking UKIP rather than Cameron. Myself I'm no fan of UKIP, but I can understand why they've become a political force. If Cameron were to win the election, attempted to negotiate and got nothing, I'd be very tempted to vote to leave in a referendum. I don't buy the argument that our economoy couldn't thrive outside the EU - although the EU has some nice advantages. But there is a major democratic problem, and rather like Scotland, if people feel that the downsides of the political compromises required to stay in the union outweigh the upsides of the trade it promotes, then it's time to think about leaving. As democracy is really important. The Eurozone crisis proves that the voters of the EU do not feel that they are one people - whose taxes and laws should be shared - and that means if the EU pushes integration past a certain point, it will lose all legitimacy. UKIP argue that point has already been passed. On that, I think I agree with them.

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Facepalm

Re: The voters hate Osborne

and his millionaire school bottom friends.

Hadvar,

Well done for keeping the debate on such a reasoned and mature level...

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Re: Hmmm

Perhaps the way around all this is to legislate that all sales in this country must be done by a company registered in this country. That way all sales to UK clients occur in the UK and are therefore taxable at UK corporation rates. However IANAL and expect that runs contrary to some trade treaty, tax agreement or whatever. And all EU countries would likely need to enact a similar law at the same time to be effective. I dunno. Just putting it out there.

Jimmy2Cows,

I'm afraid that defeats the whole object of the European Single Market. The idea is supposed to be that any EU company in any EU country can sell to any other EU country. That means that companies only need to comply with one set of laws and taxes. It's an awful lot of hassle to harmonise this stuff, and it's taken a very long time to build the single market.

Even if we vote to leave the EU in a few years, there's still a very good chance that we'll want to stay in the single market and EEA, so we'll still have to agree to harmonised taxation and regulation.

There are some changes to tax law that might help. For example, I believe Ireland have a system where you only pay corporation tax on sales within Ireland, and none on sales elsewhere, and that's attracted many companies to operate there. If companies had to pay all their corporation tax to Ireland, it might be less attractive to move there, just for a couple of percentage points off their tax. Luxembourg are being investigated for doing special sweetheart deals to attract companies to move their headquarters there. That's the negotiation that's going on at an EU level, and that may be able to fix some of the problems.

I'm not a tax lawyer, so I've no idea if this will work. But those negotiations are going on at an EU level, and I beleive that it's also something that's been quite seriously discussed at the G20 as well, so there may well be broader international action. But all that moves very, very, very slowly.

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Paul Allen hunts down sunken Japanese WWII super-battleship

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Re: And the thrid ship

Destroy all Monsters,

Thanks for the correction. I'd completely forgotten that the Japanese pulled out first.

I believe a bunch of their cruisers were absolutely huge, and simply ignored the treaty size limis. But Japan didn't have enough cruisers. One of the things that Churchill complained about was the admiralty building bigger and bigger destroyers, to match the enormous German ones - that he said were getting towards light cruisers in size. I don't think they were close really, but they were twice the size of normal destroyers. And his argument was that you should have enough good ships, not too few great ones. The Germans suffered a shortage of destroyers. Especially after the Norwegian campaign.

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Re: AA guns

They did have a pilot training issue. And couldn't scale their aircraft industry up to cope with the losses. I'm sure it didn't help that the army and airforce did everything separately as well. I read a piece somewhere about how one of the late-war aircraft carriers was actually built by the army. They wanted to show the navy how to do it right.

Bad decisions don't help. Another piece I read was that the Japanese navy stopped building torpedo bombers before the war. They'd got enough for the carriers they operated, and so why keep building them? Odd, given that they were planning for a war, and you might expect to lose the odd plane in a war, not to mention normal training accidents.

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Re: Who trained the Japanese to torpedo bomb?

I seem to recall that he opened fire at something stupid like 5,000 yards at Matapan. Which isn't terribly sporting. And the Italians apparently decided that night naval fighting wasn't a great idea and didn't do much training for it. That would have been a pre-radar decision.

As for the Yamato and Musashi fighting the US battleships, one of the huge problems these two ships had is their horrific fuel consumption. The Japanese simply couldn't afford to use them very often. That's the downside of being so big.

The Italians had a similar problem, in that they were reliant on Germany for fuel supplies. And the Germans didn't give them enough to use the fleet. It wasn't a priority. At one point (mid 41 I think), the Royal Navy had zero operational battleships in the Med, as the two at Alexandria had been damaged by Italian frogmen - and I can't remember about those in Gibraltar. Torpedo or mine damage and/or being withdrawn for other duties.

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Re: And the thrid ship

Wasn't one of the reasons for secrecy that they were in massive violation of the Washington Naval Treaty. Which is why the Bismarck and Tirpitz were officially supposed to be only 35,000 tonnes or some such silliness.

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Jackie Fisher's original idea for the battle cruisers was that they weren't supposed to fight battleships. They were for use as sea-lane protection, because they were almost as fast as cruisers, and could blast them out of the water. I think the problem was they were very expensive and very shiny - so got collected into the main fleet. Plus they had these big guns, and could therefore sink battleships (if they could survive long enough), so if you got into counting guns, and weight of shell, you suddenly started getting delusions of adding them to the battle line.

Obviously they were useful for scouting ahead of the fleet, because they could beat up the enemy's screening force and then run away from the battleships. The problem was failing to run away at the right time.

At Jutland the British battlecruisers also suffered more losses than the Germans. Partly this is because the Germans chose to have more armour on theirs, because they didn't have a huge empire and so carried less fuel and could burn more. But another suggestion is that the Royal Navy spent a lot more timei on training for speed of gunnery than they did on saftety, so they opened all the blast-proof hatches between turrets and magazines, with the obvious danger that explosion could then travel down into the magazines and destroy the ship with one hit.

Convenenience so often trumps safety. The General Belgrano was sailing in waters its officers knew had enemy submarines in, and yet had not closed its internal watertight doors. This meant that it got sunk very quickly by 2 WWII vintage torpedoes.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Smažený sýr

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Haggis pakora is apparently the thing to deep fry.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: The Greek version - Saganki...

Off to scour your throat more like...

Still, is it any worse than akvavit? Which the Danes seem to like to chill, so you're forced to actually taste the stuff. Looks like urine, tastes like it too...

Grappa, like calvados, seems to vary from undrinkable filth, but good for cleaning the drains, to smooth, warm, tasty and mellow.

I randomly buy calvados, as price and age seem to be little guide - drink the nice stuff, and make ice cream with the rest.

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Apple Watch: HOT WRIST ACTION plus slim $1299 MacBooks - and HBO TV

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Re: This was a cringeworthy launch...

I believe the correct thing to shout into your wrist is: "KITT, I need you!"

Admittedly that needs to be a black digital watch, while wearing a black leather jacket, and talking to a black car. But I guess it explains the rumours that Apple are researching self-driving cars. There's no other reason to talk into your watch is there?

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Cash'n'Carrion restocks atomic keyrings

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Megaphone

I hope you don't have those boxes of NUCLEAR DEATH KEYRINGS stacked up next to somone's desk? Otherwise it won't only be The Daily Planet that has a reporter with superpowers.

Since going to an El Reg lecture last December I've developed the super-ability to consume my own bodyweight in pork pies in a single evening.

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Win! El Reg exceedingly fine mug collection

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Re: Ummm

It's appalling! I would never lie online, as I was saying to David Beckham and Lord Haw Haw the other day...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Black, White or Green???

Isn't the red stuff not actually tea, but from a completely different plant? I am no expert. I keep meaning to try some, and see what it's like. I've been on a tea experimenting binge for the last year, I've decided I like darjeeling, and the occasional earl grey. I've even decided I quite enjoy a fruit tea. I've got some proper fruit tea from Tea Palace, which is ordinary black tea with pieces of dried fruit in it, which is lovely, as well as some of the usual not-actually-tea stuff.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: Yorkshire Tea is fine, but...

That's right. You great Northern softies.

Daarn Saaarf, even the water's 'ard.

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What is grey tea?

I've heard of black, white and green. Is grey what you get when sweeping the leftovers off the tea warehous floor? Or a mix of black and white? Or the blend preferred by smallish aliens who like to stick probes up rural people's bottoms?

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Re: Yorkshire Tea is fine, but...

No, no, no, no! You don't warm the mug. You warm the teapot! Then you make tea in the teapot, and then pour it into the mug. That way there's the all-important second cup of tea waiting for you, when you've finished number one.

I'd also suggest using loose leaf tea, but I don't want to risk sounding like the Tealiban.

I prefer the teapot so I can have 2 cups. But it really comes into its own when you've got a few people over, as it's stilly to be trying to make 5 or 6 cups at once in individual mugs.

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'Hi, I'm from Microsoft and I am GOING TO KILL YOU'

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Thumb Up

Re: People like this...

I love The Register's pro-active no-nonsense attitude to customer service!

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Re: Bear in mind...

On the Windows scam I actually checked this, so that I could feel morally allowed to tell them to fuck off. They could be on the version of the scam where they just do the script, and then the actual theft bit is done by someone else - as they hand the call over when it comes to selling the "anti-virus product".

But that's not how it works. And from talking politely to a couple of the guys who've phoned us, it was abundantly clear that they knew that they were doing was both immoral and illegal.

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Re: calling about your accident

I'm liking the amnesia idea. I think I might use that. I've not had a Windows call in weeks, but the accident ones are common.

The people who were calling me claiming to be from Microsoft have now changed their script. Now they're calling from your ISP, as they've noticed virus acivity on your broadband line. I believe some now have a script for finding virus activity on your Mac too. Not sure they've got round to bothering with one for Linux.

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Happy

My colleague did very well with one once. He was polite and slighlty confused but helpful. His voice is already quite posh, but he was playing up the RP a bit as well. The scammer must have thought he was onto a winner.

Then he suddenly changed. Incredibly aggressive tone of voice, "are you lying to me? You're lying to me aren't you. There isn't a problem with my computer! You've already lied to me once, your name isn't Bob is it?" etc.

Onto speakerphone. There was a bit of a shocked pause from scam-central. Then suddenly, "fuck off you fucking pakki!" Then they played a version of the lovers refusing to be the first to hang up, with "you fuck off." "No, you fuck off first!"

Which continued for another couple of minutes. By which point I was crying with laughter.

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Upper house of Parliament joins the drone debate

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Re: Why are we asking the EU?

Perhaps it's going via the EU as it's one of the harmonised areas of policy. A lot of product regulations come our way from the EU because of the Single Market (for example). Note that there's already been some discussion at the EU level, so the Parliamentary committees will study the issue and report to government, so that ministers and civil servants can take their opinion into account when deciding our position in EU level negotiations.

Government works slowly, and via various stages of consultation and discussion before progressing to legislation, or not. Once you add in the various extra layers in the EU process, that gets even longer, more complicated and involved.

Some of these modern drones are very large and powerful, and could pose a serious danger to other air-users, or people on the ground. Therefore government wouldn't be doing its job unless it looked at whether changes in legislation are needed. And that's happening seemingly at both national and EU level. The system (so far at least) is therefore doing what it's supposed to.

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East Timor was officially removed from the internet yesterday

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Happy

Re: While they're sorting out the country codes

That's a bit unfair. How would the Wicked Witch of the West get her email then?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Also there can be much complication with politics. In this case it's probably relatively easy. As one single country is simply changing its ccTLD. But in the case of the split up of Yugoslavia you've got 2 new successor countries, so you can't just set up automatically on the new domains.

So there are many technical pitfalls. And if you're unlucky political ones too.

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You're outta here! Baseball star strikes out sleazy trolls who targeted teen daughter

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Re: Violence for comments

Intractable Potsherd,

I don't support the use of voilence where it's not necessary. And I wouldn't respond to anything other than physical force, or the threat of it, with violence (hopefully anyway - I'm sure everyone has a breaking point somewhere).

On the other hand, sticks and stones may certainly break peoples' bones - but anyone who thinks that "words can never hurt you", is an idiot. There are plenty of things that people can say that are far worse than a bruised jaw or a bloodied nose. Of course one punch can kill/seriously injure somone. But then people who've been verbally bullied have killed themselves too.

If you got punched in a pub because you'd made obscene comments about someone's daughter, you would almost certainly find yourself lacking in sympathy.

The law and peoples' sense of fair-play/natural justice don't always perfectly coincide.

Also, caution about what you say is just common sense. You don't know how good random people you omeet are at controlling their temper. A good deal of our social conditioning is fear of the consequences of offending the group. Of getting ostracised or smacked in the chops. We might have computers and be able to put a man on the moon, but sometimes we're seemingly still just shaved monkeys. I guess it's also part of our less civilised instincts that means we celebrate when somone who's stepped out of line gets brought down a peg or two. Especially when they'd done it in the expectation of safety by being somewhat anonymous and quite far away.

There's also a certain sense of natural justice that many people have. Which would like the punishment to fit the crime. And often wants the one who provoked someone else to get punished, not the person who was provoked (even if they've also broken the rules).

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Curiosity rover RENDERED ARMLESS by short circuit

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Happy

We all know the real reason, despite the NASA cover-up. As they've improved the capacity of the deep space network, they are now able to get video to Mars. The rover has been watching too much material of an 'artistic' nature - and obviously the wear-and-tear on the arm wasn't factored into a design that didn't expect high-grade porn to be accessible.

As to what porn a 2 tonne laser-armed space tank watches, I leave that as an exercise for the reader's imagination...

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He can't give it away FAST ENOUGH: Bill Gates richest man in world again

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Re: Most philanthropic American...

To be fair to Bill Gates, Warren Buffett also made things more difficult for him. Buffett gave his foundation a ton of money a few years ago, with the instructions that it all has to be spent quickly. I think there's more when that comes from when he dies, and Buffett has said that he wants all that spent within 5 years of his death. So he's got the short-term angle covered, and that leaves Gates organising the foundation and setting it up to spend his money over the long term.

Although I am tragically without a superyacht to my name, and it can't be right that I don't also own a submarine, a jet fighter and mansion with swimming pool. So there's room for Gates to help the poor yet...

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ICANN switches off dot-word admin portal amid security leak scare

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FAIL

Re: "just five per cent of ICANN's budget...

And that's why ICANN have awarded themselves a free gTLD, without the tedious process of applying through the normal process.

Their new 'secure' portal will be hosted at: www.icann.fuckup

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Badges for Commentards

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Re: Licence Revoked

I can confirm that what the vulture giveth, the vulture taketh away again. If you fall out of the 100 posts within the last calendar year group, the vulture will swoop down upon thee, cawing madly, and mercilessly rip the badge from your bleeding chest.

I think there's about 50 comments to a page on your post history. So go back 2 pages, and see what the dates are - and that will tell you if you're in danger of de-badgification.

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Telly behemoths: Does size matter?

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Re: Hiding your TV in the cabinet...

Nigel W,

It would have to be a very long cabinet, or you'd have to use a small TV, given that all modern ones are widescreen.

In my friend's case, he often built the original cabinet, back when people suddenly had a large TV, VCR and many tapes to hide away neatly. Although some of them are decent quality furniture they bought. And obviously like, or they'd just get rid of it.

There ought to be money in that. My Mum bought a turntable/CD/radio a few years ago that looks like a 30s radiogram in cherry (or at least cherry veneer on MDF) - which sounds awful but the old look amused her.

Thinking about it, when I was very young Mum used to play me John Pertwee records (sadly Rolf Harris ones too), on an old humungous thing that was almost the size of one of those steamer cabin trunks. You lifted the lid, and the turntable was less than 1/3rd of the length of it. That was all polished wood and huge cloth covered speakers. That got replaced by an Amstrad HiFi with twin cassette decks, turntable and radio - plus a shelf at the bottom to hold your records. All in a glass case, and that wasn't exactly small either. You certainly got your money's worth in those days...

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Re: Eyesight and subtitles

That's also a problem with all these channels. In the old days, you just pressed 1-4 on the remote, and got your channel. Job done. Now you have to read the onscreen guide thingy. Fortunately the one on my TV is nice and big. Also, if you've got a Sky box, you can use the Sky app on a tablet to remote control it. So long as you're willing to connect it to the network anyway.

I used to sit right next to the telly. I had a beanbag for the purpose for a while. Now I have a 50" telly and can sit on a comfy sofa. Better yet, I paid £500 for my 50" TV. As I recall the 29" my parents bought in the mid-80s was £400. Although that did come in a rather fetching fake wood cabinet.

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Re: Hiding your TV in the cabinet...

Apparently there's quite a trade in turning old TV cabinets into something useful. My friend is a furniture designer (hand made bespoke stuff), and he's being asked to do something with the furniture he made for people back in the 80s to hold their TV, video and tapes. Now they've got Sky and a flat screen mounted on the wall.

He's been turning them into drinks cabinets.

I think my favourite of his over-priced stuff stories was from the mid-90s. He was doing pretty cabinets for a bathroom. The client was, of course, having gold taps. But the shower cubicle was having hand painted tiles - so they all had to go in the right order, and the guy doing the tiling was having ulcers because he couldn't break any. The cost of these tiles just, for the shower cubicle, was £14,000.

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Happy

Re: grumble grumble

I didn't want to watch Transformers Revenge of the Fallen thankyourverymuch. I want to watch The Wacky Races. Mum! Mum! It's not fair. Make him turn the telly over to proper programs! Sagafrassin' Rassin' Dick Dastardly!

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Re: 'ello Tosh....

Before the demise of my Mum's last TV (dreadful Bush HD Ready ugh!) I went round for dinner. I'd set the Sky box up to tell the telly when the piccie was widescreen and when not, as the TV didn't seem to be able to cope with this itself.

Something had gone wrong, she was watching a show that should have been in 4:3, but the sky box had decided to stretch it to widescreen, then the TV had for some reason decided that it was only showing 4:3 today. Because it was getting a widescreen signal, it had letterboxed it.

So she had a 4:3 program that had been stretched to twice its normal width, then had the top and bottom chopped off, and the TV seemed to have squashed the ends as well, so there were smaller black bars at the end. The whole picture was horribly distorted, and probably half the screen space was black.

I made some sort of comment about her picture looking truly hideous, and she said, "I can't see anything wrong with it". I pressed the buttons to make it go back to normal, and she didn't seem to think it much of an improvement. Even though the picture was twice the size, and the characters' heads were no longer horribly distorted.

I could understand ignoring it from not knowing how to fix it. The telly was crap, and the Sky box settings in an obscure menu. But not noticing it...

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Re: 2015 class joke....

old PC monitors were just as bad.

I do not have fond memories of all the juggling you had to do in order to set up a PC in the late 90s. If the monitor was 19" (or even bigger) then you had to be very careful lifting the thing around. Plus they were very awkward, as the easiest bit to hold was often the front, and all the weight was at the back. Wheeee! Smash! Ooops!

Then, once you'd heaved the bugger onto the desk, you had to plug it in. As the VGA lead was usually fixed at the back, you had to sort of slide it onto the desk, and on small ones hold it precariously at half over the side, while reaching behind to connect the cables.

When I upgraded it was funny to heave the enromous 19" lump off the desk, then pick up the 23" LCD easily in one hand, while using the other to connect the cables.

Similarly I had to go round to help my friend move his Sony widescreen 38" TV as he couldn't lift it. When the LCD he replaced it with weighs bugger-all. And yet I carried my 50" LED easily enough, I'd only need help if I wanted to wall-mount it.

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Re: Old Fart

My 50" TV looks ridiculously stupid in my small-ish living room. It's absolutely huge, and sticks out like a sore thumb. Thinking about it now, I can only bring to mind one person I know who has a 50" telly - and they've got a decently huge room to put it in. Most people have gone for the mid 30s-40s range. Even though you can now pick up a decent 50" for £400.

I sized it very carefully. I wanted to be able to read the TV guide and subtitles from over 6 feet away - which with my rubbish eyesight meant wandering into TV shops with a tape measure. I wonder if the guys in the shop thought I doubted their size labels...

Because of this, I did very briefly consider trying to hide my over-sized televisual embarrassment. I quite liked the idea of having a large painting on rails, so I could press the remote control to turn on the telly, and the painting would slide aside, with a satisfying motor hum. At which point it should probably activate the DVD player, to show a picture of circling sharks...

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Blockheads bork Bitcoin Foundation board election

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Re: Bitcoin - a fading fad

Tim Brown 1,

I don't think you're the only one who doesn't see Bitcoin lasting. A quick check on Bitcoincharts.com suggests that the price has now fallen to about $250, from that brief insanity in December 2013, when they were trading at $1,100 odd.

Daily trading volume seems to be a bit down as well, but there are far more days where trading spikes, which I guess would explain the increased price volatility. 5,000 - 10,000 transactions a day still seems to be normal, though many of those are not even for single Bitcoins. I remember checking once, and one transaction for 0.1 BTC moved the global price by over $1. Thus the volatility of Bitcoins still exceeds the transaction costs of traditional payment methods.

However, it's survived a few medium-to-big scandals and a steady 2 year decline in price, and people still seem to use it. So I guess, like the euro, it's eventually doomed - but eventually could be a long time.

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BOFH: The ONE-NINE uptime solution

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FAIL

Re: One Nine would be 90%, surely.

Our old email server had 5 Nein uptime...

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El Reg regains atomic keyring capability

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Re: Just be careful

Reminds me of an old Soviet joke:

Q. Why do KGB officers go round in threes?

A. One can read, one can write, and the other is there to keep an eye on the dangerous intellectuals.

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Happy

I'll sell you something that does. £100 for this special orc-detecting toilet roll holder. It's 100% tested. It's never failed to correctly show whether there are orcs present or not.

Obviously should orcs ever show up, the toilet roll will come in handy.

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Happy

Re: Also in US?

Surely worse than all that lot combined is the annual spate of haggis smuggling into the US for Burns Night. That's much more of a threat to your national security. Especially if the buggers deep-fry it for breakfast the morning after.

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Devil

Be fair. It's got to be delivered by special nuclear train...

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Thousands of UK drivers' details leaked through hole in parking ticket website

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One thing these scumbags definitely don't issue is "fines", in quotation marks or otherwise. Only the police or government can fine you for parking. It's a Penalty Charge Notice from the council, I think the police one is called something different. These guys aren't allowed to use the word penalty, as that would be fraudently pretending to be a fine. But Parking also begins with P, and any invoice can be a charge notice, hence parking charge notice (PCN) being so suspiciously similar. Often they even go to the trouble of making the tops of their letters stripey to look more official.

They are invoices. They are invoicing you for parking. There are various legalities that make a lot of them challengable, but in most cases they're only allowed to charge you a reasonable amount. So if it would have cost £2 an hour to park, and you over-stay by an hour, then they can invoice you for £2 + a reasonable admin fee. Not £120. So it's basically a highly speculative invoice.

They even then follow them up with fake debt collection letters. Given that they often have a trading name that's a 4-surnames-in-a-legal-sounding-row type. So they'll chase you up on behalf of, when it's actually the same company, or at least the same people running it.

There's a whole bunch of info on how to avoid paying these wankers on the excellent Money Saving Expert site: linky.

The DVLA should at least use this opportunity to say no more data for you wankers, as you lost the last lot, and put them out of business. Then legislation should sort them all out.

On the other hand, people also need to stop taking the piss and parking on private land. I used to work for a shop that had a small carpark, which was free for customers. And some people would try to park in there and go to work. Which isn't acceptable behaviour either.

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Trolls prevail because good men do nothing: boffins

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Re: @RyokuMas - "Good men"...

Graham Marsden,

That's strange. I've got one next to your name. It even shows up in the posting window, after I hit reply to your post.

I seem to recall that they initially released that to gold badge people, but then rolled it out to all badgers. And you obviously are a silver badger. Maybe they implemented it when they did the badges a few years ago, and forgot about it?

Anyway, I can see it, and I'm in Firefox. It doesn't show up in IE for some reason though.

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Dot-word sensation: Google forks out $25m for a fist of .app-y pills

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theodore,

If I remember rightly the original fee to register a request for a new domain was non-refundable. So if several pepole went for the same one, ICANN got to keep everyone's money, and run an auction for the winner to pay extra.

Similarly if your request got rejected, and no-one was allowed to use that new gTLD, then tough luck. ICANN still kept the money.

You understand they've got lawyers to feed. There's wear-and-tear on chairs, swamp insurance, dog biscuits massive quantities of cocaine and Crystal champagne, all sorts of things...

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