3570 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009
Re: Trolling for suckers
Why it almost makes me nostalgic for the old days of people telling US posters that they were late for WWII, only to be answered that "if it wasn't for us you'd be speaking German now".
An argument I haven't seen for years and years. And was obvious bollocks anyway, because even invasion, occupation and SS torture wouldn't get the British to be any good at foreign languages. Not when we can shout, "Oi Fritz! Zwei beers please!"
As I recall from the dim-and-distant past when I read Lord of the Rings Dumbledore was asked by git-wizard David Blaine to chop down the Faraway Tree because it was singing too loudly and interrupting his evil HR manager, who was trying to organise 30% redundancies in his shockingly over-manned (over-orced?) army...
Re: Can someone tell me...
It's a bloody long way to Snappy Snaps...
Re: BRIAN COX....
Whenever I've seen any Brian Cox stuff on telly, it's been dumbed down science-lite with soaring instrumentals and lots of shots of him looking moody on mountainsides. But that's not necessarily his fault, that's just TV. So I don't watch any of his telly stuff. Sadly large chunks of the rest of the BBC's TV documentary output have gone the same way, so that Horizon is now pretty much unwatchable for example. Although there's plenty of better stuff on BBC4.
But if you listen to Brian Cox on Radio 4 (the home of civilisation), you get a much better impression. I was just listening to a podcast of 'The Infinite Monkey Cage' on my way into work this morning. Which I recomend. Scientific discussion with a mix of scientists and interested comedians - hosted by Brian Cox and Robin Ince. It turns out that Brian Cox likes to be rude about homeopathy, astrology, mediums... And chemistry...
Re: Done and done
Real World? Surely you jest. There's nothing North of that thar London but an ice-filled wasteland full of wolves, bears and savages. I've seen a documentary about it. It was called Game of Thrones I think...
Re: Money Talks
Then they should sack the Board. They have the majority of the votes, or the activists would be running the company.
It's also not true that they always leave the company screwed. Apple and MS have been hoarding money for no good reason. It's up to the board to justify why they're holding on to all of that. They couldn't. So they were made to hand some of it back to its owners. That's what shareholder means. In the UK it would probably have been via dividends.
Plus it stops the board being tempted to blow a few billion on a Whatsapp...
Re: @Spartacus (No many times its NOT really their money!)
Employees get paid. That's their reward for the work they do to build the company. It would be nice if they could have share-options, so they too can become owners. But like customers, if you don't like the offer, go elsewhere. I don't see why shareholders should have their property seized, just because someone else fancies it. Obviously tax should be properly collected i.e. simplified and enforced - so everyone pays a proper share.
Remember that many shares are owned by pension funds. You can't magically tax the fat cats without accidentally nuking the pensions of ordinary workers.
As for employees' healthcare and pension benefits, I agree. Pension funds should not even be allowed to hold shares or assets from their parent company. So if it goes bust, they don't lose all their assets as well as their contributor. And so desperate execs can't borrow from the pension fund when no one else will touch them. Before going pop, and hitting staff with the double-whammy of redundancy and lost benefits.
Re: Activist Investors & Venture Captialists
What's this stakeholder thing supposed to mean? Am I a stakeholder of The Register, just for being a reader? Do I have a right to veto how much profit they're allowed to make? Can I insist that they must invest all their cash in a better forum design, rather than spending it down the pub. Or blowing it on rockets...
Shareholders are owners. It's their property. And they should have a right to do what they like with their stuff, in compliance with the law and absent a court order. The company has legal duties towards its staff of course. And fewer towards its customers. But if the customer doesn't like it, their choice is to take their money elsewhere. Again, so long as their legal rights have been met. Executive pay has bugger-all to do with them.
Until the voters tell the politicians to change the law, giving customers representation on the board. Then watch business flee our country, and our economy suffer.
It's all very fine and dandy saying how you'd like a share of other people's property. But if you do that too arbitrarily, you're no longer running a free economy - and people will start squirrelling their money away elsewhere. There's a lot of deeply unattractive stuff goes on in the City. But the side-effects of mustering the morality police and mounting our high horses could be quite dangerous. We've got plenty to do trying to regulate our banks for now.
Yes it's sad that the Glazers got to buy Man U for a song, them load it up with debt and make a killing. But that's because everyone else undervalued it, so they got it incredibly cheap. Very hard to regulate to stop that, and I'm not even sure we have any right to complain. Other than a general feeling that someone's getting more than we are...
Re: Activist Investors & Venture Captialists
You mentioned the A round, so I assumed you were talking start-up venture capital.
In the case of turnaround venture capital, you're somewhat correct. Phones 4U, Rover, Comet are all cases I can think of where the companies took them on and took too much out, or too much debt. I'd be interested to see more aggressive auditing and/or enquiries as to whether they were trading while insolvent i.e. committing fraud. Didn't the Rover directors get struck off?
None of these companies were doing well before the VCs walked in though. It's not as if they've come along and destroyed healthy companies. They've failed to rescue crap ones. You can add to this some of the junk bond deals from the 80s, or the Man United purchase. I don't know if it would be posible to legislate so that you have to have skin in the game to be able to buy up a company and load it with debt - so you lose massively too. But it's hard. Once you've bought a company, it's your asset to borrow against. It's hard to make legislation work right.
There have also been plenty of successful turn-arounds by VCs as well. Just as the vulture has a vital niche in the ecosystem, so does the corporate raider. Sometimes you need someone to pick out and turn around the good bits, while losing the crap bits. Or the crap bits take the whole company out. Sadly VCs can cock up their companies, just as well as the original managment did. Or to be fair, sometimes the market just turns hostile, and companies are doomed.
Erm, the article misses a few rather really major points. In fact, make that enormous ones. I started numbering my points, and had to stop...
Let's start with dividends. In the US the tax regime is rather unfriendly to divvies. So US companies tend to avoid paying them. This is government's fault, not corporate greed. Hence share buy-backs being what the shareholders ask for.
Next, it's the shareholders bloody money! So yes, companies should give it back to their owners when they ask for it. I admit people can invest for short-term reasons, and it doesn't look nice. But if you buy the shares, you own the company. If management can't convince their own shareholders that they aren't going to piss their owners' money up a tree, you can't blame the shareholders for asking nicely to get it back. Didn't Apple hit $130 billlion in cash at one point? They've never made a large aquisition, had no plans for massive growth, and were using maybe $10-20 at most in some very clever supply chain management. So the only sensible thing to do is give that back to the shareholders, who own it.
Microsoft were the same. Loadsa cash, no idea what to do. Give it back. Although they did spend $7bn on aQuantive, $8.5bn on Skype and $4bn on Nokia. Oh, and I forgot Yammer for another couple. I do wonder if the shareholders wouldn't be better off if MS had given them that over $20bn instead...
Now we come to not being able to sell shares for 5 years. Firstly, what happened to property rights? Should I not have the right to do with my property as I wish? Also what happens if I'm suddenly ill/unemployed and need the cash?
Next, do you hate pension companies? They have very strict rules about how much capital they have to hold, in order not to be insolvent. If a share suddenly goes down, they may need to sell lots of it in order to not suddenly go bankrupt, taking all their pensions with them. Pension companies are often longer term investors - and reasonably cautious. So surely represent the 'good bits' of stock markets. Long term saving, and hopefully long-term thinking.
I do agree with you that executive share options are often too generous, better than other staff are allowed to get, and risk incentivising them to pump the share price then dump. On the other hand, it's really hard to incentive programs.
It's all very well to say "something should be done". Lots of people agree with that. But what? I nkow it doesn't look good when people are making out like bandits. Particularly when they're other people. But always remember the rule of unintended consequences. Standard Life went under because they were forced to sell too many shares in order to meet government regulations in the dot.com bust. Those shares bounced back within a few years, so if there'd been a way to grant them a temporary exemption including regulator supervision and board level decapitation, they'd still exist today. And their pensioners would be getting their full money. This stuff's hard to write rules for.
In my personal opinion it's going to take a change in culture to fix a lot of these issues. Which is very slow. Governments are trying regulation, but it's unlikely to be all that successful. To misquote Churchill - free market capitalism is the worst system in the world, except for all the others.
Re: Activist Investors & Venture Captialists
Steve Davies 3,
There's nothing wrong with taking value out of a company. That's called earning a profit on your investment. If the company was viable without investment, then it wouldn't take it.
The alternative is taking money from banks. Who want assets to secure it against. If you don't have that, or don't fancy risking your house, then you borrow from VCs. Or your family. Or keep your job, and start your company in your spare time.
Remember that people investing at the A round are going to lose all their money on half their projects. Assuming a hit rate of say 3 out of 10 - they have to treble their stake in each of the surviving companies, just to break even. You've then got to cover several years of inflation and add in some pay for the VC's staff and some profits.
Re: Um, no...
It's a bit of crap consipiracy. I want to buy this shiny company. You go in and bugger it up for me, then they'll sell me it cheap. By which point it'll be a knackered rubbishy company of course...
There's another huge argument against the conspiracy theory. And it's the clincher, so far as I'm concerned.
In order for it to be a conspiracy for MS to eventually eat Nokia, you have to assume that Steve Ballmer is competent, fiendishly clever, and a master or manipulation. You at the back, stop laughing!
Re: Ballmer's MIcrosoft legacy...
For the life of me I can't ever remember reading about even one single successful contribution/idea/decision that Steve Ballmer made
I think you're being unfair. Not that I think he was a good CEO, but he did do some stuff right. Or at least was in charge when it happened. So he gets the credit for not stopping it, like he gets the blame for the stuff that went wrong. He didn't have any charimsa or seemingly any feel for marketing, which I think is much more MS's problem. I think they need a marketeer in charge, rather than a technical person. Because they've got lots of good stuff, but lots of left-over bad reputation to get rid of.
Also he did nothing for Microsoft's dysfunctional internal culture. Which by everything that I've read is hostile to anyone who's not an insider - which means robotic, sharp-elbowed, office-politics-assassin. I've also known 2 people who worked in Reading, one left with stress and the other did not paint a flattering portait of the cocaine and office politics (although he was in sales).
I think his two huge mistakes were letting Sinofsky run riot in Windows land and annoying everyone, and ignoring smartphones. In the days before iPhone, Windows Mobile 5 was not bad (for the time and available hardware). If they'd actually done some development on it, they could have taken more market share off Symbian - and might have been able to compete with Apple. Instead of getting stomped on by them, and then crushed into the ground by Google. Particularly as RIM were already kicking their arses before Apple did. As I recall they made almost no improvements in their mobile software after about 2004, and the iPhone was 2007? And it took 2 years after that for the rubbish WinMob 6.
On the other hand, he recovered quite well from the mess that was Longhorn. Vista wasn't as awful as it was painted, once the initial driver issues were sorted out. And there was some pain to be expected given how much of the codebase they had to change. Almost everyone agrees that Windows 7 is good. Best I not mention 8... MS aren't doing badly in Cloud as well. But surely their best improvement has been in servers and tools. All that active directory and group policy stuff, which keeps them safe in their corporate market. Even if PCs are living longer, so they're not getting refreshes every 2-3 years, but more like every 5-6. Surely Exchange + Outlook + Exchange Active Sync are in pretty good shape nowadays. I'm certainly not aware that there's anything else around to beat it. Even if I personally hate Exchange. I'd be lynched if I suggested moving us off it.
Re: to buy a failing company
There's no doubt they had to buy Nokia in order to stay in the mobile market (no other company wants WP). But should they have even bothered?
I guess it depends when his idea was to buy Nokia. Personally I'd have thought buying HTC might have been a better move if they just wanted to push Windows Phone. But like you, I suspect they only bought Nokia because otherwise there'd have been no-one making Win Pho.
On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with MS blowing $10 billion on a mobile strategy. They've got the money, and so much of the medium-term future of computing is in tablets and phones that it's important that they're in this area to stay relevant. They bet a lot of money on XBox, and lost a lot originally, but are now turning nice profits. Admittedly they've not done as much with it as they should. No-one seems to have been able to make the huge convergence and cash that was expected from controlling the TV. I suspect it's because TV content providers wanted as much control as they could manage to keep, and so pushed their own set-top boxes*.
Google blew billions on Android before they knew it would be a success. And that investment is paying off handsomely in terms of juicy user-data, local search, mapping, push to Google's services etc. And so would have been worth a try, even if it had failed. And of course Google have tried and failed at many things, as they've spectacularly succeeded at others.
Maybe tablets and mobiles will become a no-profit commodity soon, and all the cash (and data-harvesting opportunities) will be in cloud services for a while. So if you've got the cash, it's got to be worth spreading some money around in related areas, to catch the next big thing. The trick is not to piss off your existing big market, that funds all this experimentation. So say Google mustn't fuck up search, or scare their customers away with blatant privacy abuse. And MS mustn't upset their core desktop customers by buggering up their UI to suit a half-baked Windows everywhere strategy. Oh, hang on a minute... Doh!
*Why were they ever called set-top boxes? I don't recall seeing many CRT tellies that had a flat enough top that you'd balance the video on them. And now everyone's telly is less than 1" thick, you'd need a special self-balancing box... Why weren't they called something else? And can we now rename them?
Re: I work for a large company...
Please unsubscribe me from the redundancy list!
Re: missed on .taxi.
It was only a trifling error, in an otherwise hansom article. And anyway, the gTLD in question was referred to, in a section tuktukked away at the bottom of the page.
Perhaps the author has just had a taxiing day?
Ah well .idiot is slated to come out in the next but one tranche of new gTLDs. After .icannmoneygrab, .loadofoldbollocks and .bonusesandtreblesallround.
Re: Copyright enforcement?
Are Adobe competent enough to be able to monetise all the lovely data they're picking up?
I wouldn't mind all that, if the software wasn't the most unutterable piece of shit I've ever had the misfortune to deal with. Actually that's unfair, I'm sure I've dealt with worse, maybe.
You can't change the text size on their reader. Amazing! I was setting it up for an aquaintance's wife who has macular degeneration. Sadly she's also got arthritis, so a tablet's not really suitable either. And they'd already got a laptop before I could persuade them to get something else. But they wanted library service books, so have to use Digital Editions.
Except you can't read in fucking digital editions becauase your only option is 12 pt type. I don't think it did voice either, but anyway that's no good - as artificially read text is a real aquired taste.
So next option was to use some competent reading software on said laptop. But no. You can authorise the copyright so you can read on other devices, but not on the PC itself. Horrible pile of crap. Maybe it's improved since. I'd have just broken the encryption, it's apparently easy enough, but that wasn't a process an IT illiterate couple in their late 70s were going to be capable of.
Re: Economics is like philosophy
Says the micro-economist...
Re: Economics is like philosophy
Climate scientists only have to deal with one climate. So they can look at why it behaved differently over time, and try to theorise about it.
Economists are having to look at different countries. Which all behave differently. They have different culture and different economies. So Germans save more than British people do given the same income. We both have welfare states, so they don't have the same reasons as why the Chinese save so much more than Europeans do. Is it cultural? Well their property is cheaper, because their market and history is different. But it makes the economies perform differently.
The USA have different labour laws to Europe. They tend to come out of recession much more quickly, because companies can hire people and know they can sack them again with almost no notice. But then US states differ as to exactly how this works.
So what can you compare? The UK economy is totally different to what it was 30 years ago, with completely different employment laws. So not only is it very hard to compare the early 90s UK recession with the equivalent French one, but you can't even compare it with the early 80s UK one. Without accounting for all the changes in the economy in the intervening period.
Re: Economics is like philosophy
I guess you do have a point. We'll maybe never get an over-arching theory of stuff. One theory to rule them all is pretty hard when the data is of such poor quality.
Also politics doesn't help. The politicians need answers in order to run the economy. You can't blame them for that. But you get political orthodoxies. And plenty of economists willing to defend the party line. They've stopped being scientists and started being cheerleaders.
Climate scientists should take a good long hard look at economics. And be very afraid. Then try to learn the lessons and avoid some of the pitfalls. They've got less excuse, as they don't have to try and model the sometimes irrational behaviour of markets and consumers.
Re: Economics is like philosophy
I disagree. We have quite a good understanding of lots of things. It's just we are totally unable to be precise. Because we don't have good data. Or an ability to experiment.
That's also going to continue into the future. However good our theories are, we'll never know the exact value of the various multipliers and exact price elasticities of particular goods. Nor is there any reason to suppose we can ever know where any specific tax is on the Laffer curve.
We are unable to experiment, and the system is too complex to model accurately. Economics can only ever be a guide, we'll never be able to accurately work stuff out. That's one reason why free markets are often better than governments. Because if you're going to cock up anyway, better to do it with your own money. Or at least money you were given freely by investors. Rather than money that was taken in taxation. Much better for government to try and set fair and reasonable rules, and tweak them as required. Which is why a carbon tax is likely to work better than government attempts to try and cut CO2 emissions with subsidies. Although it's almost always worth subsidising research.
Re: Economics is like philosophy
No economics is a set of tools to look at various problems. Some are better and more well understood than others. Unfortunately quite a lot of them, particularly in macroeconomics are too controversial to be of precise use, but often give at least a guide, or rule-of-thumb.
So for example, we know that if you put up the price of a good, demand will drop. Except in a few specific cases like Giffen goods (staple food in a famine). We also know this relationship is defined by the price elasticity of that good. Which tells us how strong the relationship is between price and demand. So food is quite price inelastic, you'll eat less if it costs more, but not too much less - as you're more likely to sacrifice other things from your budget first.
But then the devil's in the detail. Do you know your price elasticity? If prices rise, we also know that supply will rise to try and cash in on the lovely extra moolah now on offer. But we don't know by how much, as you may have barriers to entry to the market (regulations etc).
We also know that if you raise taxes too high, they start collecting less money. The good old Laffer curve. The problem is, no-one's quite sure what point on the Laffer curve they're ever at - or exactly what shape it is. So it's not very helpful to set specific tax rates. It can sometimes mean that you can lower a tax, and raise more income. But it's still nice to know the pitfalls when setting policy, and you may of course be deliberately setting a tax rate to discourage something, rather than to maximise revenue. In which case you may not care.
As Keynes said, economics is very good at telling you what you did wrong in the past, but not so good at forecasting the future.
On the other hand, it's the best we've got. And it's better to know more than less. And there are some obvious lessons to take. So governments should spend in recessions to help keep the economy on an even keel (and stop the unemployed starving). But there's another side to this equation, that in booms governments need to save. They need to spend a bit less than they take in tax, in order to stop the economy overheating, and so they're in a position to safely borrow lots in the bust. That's the hard bit of Keynesianism. The bit no-one ever remembers. Like the saying there are no atheists in foxholes, everyone's suddenly a Keynsian when the recession comes. Even when they were advocating massive over-spending in the boom *cough* Ed Balls *cough*.
Oh yes, another rule we don't understand, can't accurately predict, but know is roughtly true. There'll be a recession every ten years or so. We don't really know why capitalism has to be broken in this fundamental way, but it seems to be unfixable. Put it down to people being rubbish. Free market economies work on the level of the average. On average everyone gets richer over time, but that doesn't account for the people who don't - or the odd ten year blip of falling wages. So in Tim's example rare earth prices are back to roughly where they were before, but not without several companies going pop first, and the shareholders of others losing their investment. It's a messy old system.
A bit like climate change research, we only have really decent statistics starting in the 20th century. And even there, the quality is variable. And we don't have the ability to do controlled experiments. It's also bloody hard to try and forecast the future, because the accurate stats on our current economies usually take about 6 months to arrive. And even then we don't know all the inputs and outputs. But maybe as we build up a larger history of good quality data we can try and build better models, and we'll have more past scenarios to study, which is the closest we're ever going to get to experiments.
Re: After reading about the battery-killing "upgrade"...
If you factory reset your iPhone would that not get rid of Apple's update installer? Or would restoring from backup then lumber you with it again? There seems to be no way to stop the buggers from downloading again, short of disabling WiFi (as you said).
I guess a reset followed by manual re-install of stuff might do it. But that would lose all your in-app data. Which may or may not be worth considering, depending on how much the loss of that Gig annoys you.
I agree. My iPhone 5 is on iOS 8 now, so that's it's second upgrade. I was mostly happy with iOS 7, and 8 adds a few useful options. I wouldn't be sad if I hadn't upgraded to it though, there's not much I'd miss.
I've noticed no appreciable loss in the battery life or speed. I can still easily get 2 normal days of use out of it (probably 80% of the time at locations with WiFi) - and well over a day if I'm out-and-about all day and hammer the phone, plus a bit of sat-nav / WiFi hotspot.
I've not got an iPhone 4, and I'd be wary of chucking iOS 8 on that. Depends on whether any apps I used demanded it. But phone hardware has been moving very fast of late, although that seems to be flattening out. So it's no surprise that older stuff will struggle with newer software requirements.
I think this is a downside for Apple about all the media hype they get. I've talked to a couple of people about it this week, who would happily admit they know bugger-all about computers. Both said that Apple updates were designed to slow down older iPhones so you'd buy the latest one.
I'm no fan of Apple, but that sounds like bollocks to me. I certainly thought that my iPad 1 slowed down with both the updates it got. I think they must have been building down to a price, because I remember that the iPhone that came out a couple of months after it, got a newer processor, and I think more RAM. Then iOS 4 didn't go onto the iPad 1 for at least 4 more months, and I felt slowed it down - and re-introduced a bunch of WiFi bugs they'd only just squashed in iOS 3. I had to put the iPad back on a fixed IP address on the local network, as it seemed to be unable to stay connected if it had to talk to the DHCP server.
iOS 5 was a mistake, and I regretted putting the poor iPad 1 on that. There was sometimes quite severe lag in the UI, if it was trying to process stuff in the background.
On the other hand, I've since waited for updates until the reports after the first patch comes out. And my work iPhone 5 went to iOS 8 with no problems, and seems to be just as fast, and have just as good battery life as before.
One comment I would make about iOS is that it's getting awfully complicated. It used to be that there only a few settings, scattered somewhat randomly around the settings menu. But I went through them from top to bottom after my latest update, and there are absolutely loads now. Almost as many as the last 'Droid I set up (Galaxy Note 2 for a friend). Also Apple had reset some of them to their defaults after the update, that I'd specifically set the other way before. Which is rather cheeky - although backing up to iCloud worked perfectly, other than that obvious deliberate decision to re-enable all sorts of stuff that I don't want.
They need to nuke their settings and start again from scratch, in some more logical way. Quite a few useful bits are hidden away in the accessibility stuff. Although I do give them credit for having lots of accessibility options, far more than Android. And I happen to know that this is an area Tim Cook takes personal interest in pushing - as I know people with disabilities he's talked to about how to improve their systems (along with enrolling them on a testing/evaluation program). So kudos to Apple for making considerable effort in that area.
Re: @ Anomalous Cowshed "The number of times my smartphone has crashed............."
I'm surprised by Andrew O's crashing story. Not that this reveiw phone crashed, but that he's never had a crash on anything else.
My iPhone 5 has crashed quite a few times. Enough that I now turn it off in long meetings, rather than put it on silent, so I know it's getting a regular reboot. And I've had a lot less crashing since then. It does have a few apps on, but not that many, as it's my work phone. All games are on my iPad 3.
Speaking of which I've had quite a few crashes on that too. But it gets a hammering with games and using iPlayer radio via my stereo, while I'm looking at websites, or using apps. In both cases the main problem seems to be the system not responding to the touchscreen (often the home button still works), and a reboot fixes it. I think it was only on the iPad 1 that I had a full crash, where even holding down the power button couldn't force a reboot - and I had to look online how to do a full reset which I think was home+power+volume up.
My experience of Android is probably now too out of date. My HTC Wildfire (Android 2.2.x used to crash a bit more than the iOS devices. The only solution to a couple was to remove the battery, which fortunately was possible. Including crashing a couple of times on an incoming call - and the screen just went white. But that was years ago, so I assume 'Droids have improved since, especially the ability to reset, as there's so many sealed batteries nowadays.
I don't remember my old Lumia 720 (WinPho 7.5) ever crashing. But I'd be surprised if it didn't at least once.
Re: What's a mile?
No-one knows the length of a bendy-bus. They all caught fire before the tape measure could reach the other end...
5 thumbs down, eh? Tsk, tsk! Apparently it's necessary to include the joke icon every time.
I think the problem is people just didn't follow your thread. They just didn't have that same lightbulb moment as you...
Or perhaps your sense of humour is off by just a hair?
Re: Majorana Fermion
He did. Everyone knew he was really quick, so no-one knows what position he played...
Re: It's the IT sixth sense
I was trying to talk my Mum through filling in an online form. So type in that box, then press Tab to take you to the next box. "Where's tab?"' she says.
Well of course, I learnt on a typewriter. I hit the tab key a lot of times over the years. But she didn't, and modern computer keyboards don't say the same things. So the tab key is a couple of right-facing arrows, and the shift key is an up-facing arrow. And no-one I'm helping ever seems to know what the windows key is.
Then again, I'm not exactly perfect. I still find myself telling someone to put the file in a directory, when they've been folders since Windows 95.
But there seems to be something about computers that sucks the intelligence out of people. If you're showing them what to do, they appear to switch their brain off and turn into drooling morons.
I can understand not being a fan of computers, or being interested in them outside the specific task you use them for. I don't read an online tabloid about screwdriver design, for example. I don't drool over the latest model of kitchen knife, I have a handful that do the job perfectly well enough. But I do own a knife sharpener.
I think there's one of the two companies' figures show a tiny drop in 8.1 market share for the final month (as against the month before), although the other doesn't and shows a continuation of the obvious rising trend. So they've decided to report it as a story, for some reason.
It seems to be the same kind of piss poor reporting that newspapers like to indulge themeselves in over opinion polls. So for example yesterday Yougov had the Conservatives ahead of Labour by one point, when all the last week's polls said there was about 2-4 point gap. It may of course be a huge boost from Cameron's speech, or may just be sampling error. May be better to wait a couple of days (and a couple of polls) to see. As when Lord Ashcroft's poll a couple of weeks ago had them drop by 7%age points in one week! And of course it reverted to the mean and jumped by 8 the next, but that didn't get reported as massive rise in support. I guess they missed a crappy headline opportunity there...
Re: No silver bullet
I'd forgotten how bad Windows 8 was until a couple of weeks ago. Had to set up a new laptop for a friend, and it came with Win 8. Just installing anti-virus and deleting the odd bit of vendor crap, before applying all the updates and going to 8.1 was a right pain in the arse. I'd forgotten how hard it was to do simple things like getting to the desktop, or shutting down.
With 8.1 you can right click where the start menu should be - and most stuff you want is there. And the windows key takes you from desktop to Metro, then back again. I'd totally forgotten just how unfinished it was.
Basically my work PC died, so I made a run to PC World and bought a new one, Win 8 was the only option. I think I got it about 2 weeks before 8.1 came out, so I didn't have long to put up with it. I'm used to 8.1, and so never even bothered to install Classic Shell. Though I have for a couple of friends.
Re: with no simple way to prevent users receiving the MS update nag...
It shouldn't even nag. The 8.1 update is done through the Windows Marketplace, that nobody uses.
As for the OP, the last 3 laptops people I know have bought (all in the last 2 months), came with unpatched Windows 8. So they required about 100 patches to be applied, before the Marketplace would even allow me to install Win 8.1. None of them mentioned the service pack once upgrading was complete.
Re: Do they really care?
Our school's smear-paper was "Izal".
I believe they have since change their name to ISIS. Oor is it ISIL? Their policy of inhuman brutality has remained the same...
A useful reminder. I have bacon in the fridge, but no bread - and no time to make any as I've got friends over for dinner tonight. So if I wish to feast on breakfast bacon butties tomorrow, I'll need to get some in.
As for soylent green, bleurgh! If I'm going to eat long pig, I may as well enjoy it in a long-bacon bap, or have it with apple sauce and roast tatties. If over-population is going to force us into cannibalism, then I for one do not intend to drop my standards, but to continue to enjoy my meals. "Eating" this is strictly fo rmy old age, when I'm no longer able to chomp through proper food, by which time I will of course have been shuffled off to the great Soylent Green factory myself - and so won't have to worry about it.
Is my memory failing me or was Soylent Green not shaped rather like a large bar of chocolate, only green coloured obviously?
Re: Need to speed up deliveries
Sounds like you might die of starvation before it arrives though...
Re: The Tesla Diesel?
No, no, no! It's the Tesla Dirigible.
Electric airships to meet up with his hovering rockets, so you can simply step into your car at home, and commute to the moon.
Re: 3,520 pints a day?
I'm glad this number of pints is going to improve spatial memory, becasue after drinking my 176.6 pints in the first hour down the pub, I'm going to want to remember where the toilets are really, really, really urgently!
Re: Bribe developers with tee-shorts
The problem with handing out t-shorts is that the internal competition causes splits...
Re: Dear reader
Nice post. Although I think you over-analysed mine a touch... I just picked a couple of companies at random that seem to be investing in new things. Interesting stuff about Rolls Royce. I actaully wrote 2 paragraphs on Google, then deleted them, because I could see myself writing another 5. But they do make long-term bets and spend a lot on R&D. Their R&D is probably only aimed at the next 10 years or so, but then they're in a fast-changing industry.
Android is a great example of Google's vision. A rather disturbingly creepy vision, but nevertheless. They spent billions on it. But it has been instructive and impressive to watch all their bets coming in over the last few years. The fact that an Android phone is a mobile data-collection station for Google has been exploited brilliantly. So they invested in mapping, even drove cars around to collect pictures and that amazingly useful Wi-Fi hotspot database. Then used their phones to maintain that - while they were also using it to improve GPS and their location tracking and local search. Integration, network effects and a willingness to try lots of stuff are doing wonders for them.
Technologically they're doing a very good job, I suspect that they may have mis-understood the power of social change though. If the voters wake up to the amount of privacy they're giving up, and decide they don't like it, Google could find themselves in serious trouble. And I get the impression they don't understand that, and think they can get round it with lobbying. But look at the German public debate on data protection and privacy for an example of how things can also go. And Germany just got their EU commissioner put in charge of all this for the next 4 years. Let's see how nimble and far-sighted Google's management really are...
Why so little interest in heat pumps? Why so little interest in commercial-scale heat storage in what used to be called "calorifiers" or modern equivalent? But domestic wind power? What a silly idea that was.
The under-use of heat pumps is really sad. We spend so much energy in heating water, and yet don't use solar-thermal and heat pumps. We still call them calorifiers, and in combination with under-floor heating you're laughing. Even on a cloudy day you can usually get water up to 40°C, and heat pumps are more efficient when not going to high temperatures.
Another thing you can do is get free ground source piping, whenever you build a tall building. Simply attach plastic pipe to the piles, a few will get broken when they're driven in, but most will survive - and then you just hook them up to a heat-pump. You can then achieve 3kW of heating for 1kW of energy input.
Although domestic nuclear (maybe a car-sized reactor?) would be best. I saw it on that documentary about the future I was watching the other day. What was it called again? Tomorrow's World? No, that was it, Thunderbirds.
Re: petrochemicals -- just, not fossil fuels @I ain't Spartacus
But that windmill energy is free. It costs us no new carbon to generate it. Yes I know the turbines cost, and you'll have to burn some gas keeping plants on spinning reserve.
There's a certain percentage of capacity where wind is an advantage, as you get not to run some gas plants, and save some CO2. Obviously that gets more inefficient as you try and get more of your power mix from wind. And I've seen figures that suggest we've reached, or surpassed, that point.
At grid scale, the only solution I can see is nuclear. Which also generates power we often can't use, so it would be nice to have some sort of power storage method for that too. With some gas for back-up and emergency reserve. I guess some wind, as we've got it, and hydro is obviously good. I'm dubious about wave and tidal power, but it might have its place too.
I don't think we can do grid scale solar in this country. But it may have a place locally, especially if we use solar-thermal and PV. Along with heat pumps.
Re: I hope you're right
That's part of the point of the article. Of course people won't cut back. Not voluntarily. And there's a limit to what even the most repressive of governments can force people to do. It's the thing a lot of the greens don't seem to grasp. People will take long-term pain in order to get short-term gratification. Especially if they're not sure they believe in the long-term pain. If that weren't true, the UK economy wouldn't currently be sitting on nearly £1.5 trillion of government debt (and rising.
So in the end we can only solve climate change by making the green alternatives cheaper than the dirty ones. People will put up with the price of carbon being pushed up, but as Ed Miliband's popular success with his policy of capping energy prices shows, not too much of that either.
Fortunately I believe that nuclear can be easily pushed cheaper than coal, though probably not gas. But remember that's nuclear with the costs of cleanup being compared to gas and coal without the costs of climate change or mitigation added in.
We should be able to get thorium to work, which should be cheaper and safer. Hopefully fusion too. Solar is getting ever cheaper, and is probably not as great for the UK, but should be wonderful for many other places round the world.
Rural Africa has gone from crap communications to mobile without the expensive step of fixed-lines in between. With solar and local storage they could make a similar leap with power, which should do wonders for their quality of life.
Climate change should be perfectly possible to deal with, by moving our energy to stuff that doesn't emit CO2. Then we can continue with growth perfectly happily. There are other big environmental issues, but making everyone in the world richer should help solve population growth and a lot of the damage done to rainforests and natural habitats. As well as stopping millions from living in misery, starving and dying unneccesarily. So mostly a good thing. Even if it forces us into tother policies to deal with the downsides. It's still mostly upside.
Re: Tim's hopes for solar and wind are doomed
the sun does not shine at night
It's also wrong. The Sun does shine at night. It's just hiding. If we could find a method to coax it out, and make it less shy, then we could have 24 hour sunshine. Has anyone tried sacrifices of virgins at Stonehenge?
[I'm using the smiley face, obviously. Becasue the Sun has got its hat on.]
Re: petrochemicals -- just, not fossil fuels
Wind turbines do cut it, if you've got a method of storing power. But we don't, and I'm sure there are better methods of generating leccy anyway. Nuclear is the only viable answer I can see. With lots of solar, still making big gains in efficiency, also looking like a possible good thing.
Re: Dear reader
Squaring those two is easy. GEC management were shit, did the wrong stuff. Bye bye company. Other companies do better. GE, Rolls Royce and Google are examples, even Microsoft (though management haven't done very well with the stuff they've had). The whole pharmaceuticals industry have continued to pour billions into R&D (both basic and applied) for year after year.
Market economies work on average. It's a messy business, but we have continued to get richer overall. Mistakes are guaranteed to happen, but there's a survival of the fittest element going on too. So more successful companies can kick out the old-guard if they fail to pass muster. That competition can have bad effects too, as the companies that don't think long-term might out-compete those that are spending on R&D. But that's one of the points of having things like intellectual property. We regulate the market to reward things we want, in the hopes we'll get more of them. Of course if we cock up, and reward things we don't want (patent trolls), we get more of them.
Which leads me to my next point. Government. Planned economies are the less messy alternative to market ones. Compare and contrast the shambles that was the German World War II economy to the far more rigidly planned British and Soviet ones. But that requires competent government that keeps making the right choices. Broadly the British government ran its war-economy brilliantly. But the post war attempt to carry that on failed miserably. And here you have the downside of central planning, as there's no alternative waiting in the wings, hungry to kick out the big boys and take over.
Take another example of government, UK energy policy. I lost track of the different initiatives and pay-back schemes they ran over the years. But in one of their renewable energy schemes they only consulted one company, who were the only ones certified to comply, who therefore hoovered up all the sales before anyone else could get registered. They also had this bizarre obsession with domestic solar power, which in this country is utterly unsuitable. We don't get that much sun, and we have no means of storage, so as most people are out during the day, what's the point? Whereas solar-thermal costs the same to install, but allows you to save about 40-60% of your heating fuel use - and storing heat in a tank of hot water is a well-proven system. And they seemed to ignore heat-pumps. Whereas incentives to have solar PV on office buildings, or even better combined solar-thermal and PV, would have been brilliant at cutting daytime power use.
Much better to let the capitalists fight like dogs in a sack to get your money, and just set the overall rules and watch them do it. So give incentives for not creating CO2. A carbon tax seems the easiest. Spread around liberal amounts of research money. Then sit back and see what works best.
Re: particularly acute for the long-suffering women of the western world?
my wife keeps her phone in her bra... :-/
I bet you feel a right tit when she's busy and you have to answer the phone for her...
Re: I feel left out :(
Certainly. Clown trousers are available at all good retailers. One size
doesn't fits all. With roomy elasticated waists and trousers to hold all your laptop or custard needs.
Re: Handbags at dawn
But do women carry their phones in their handbags because they haven't got the pockets? My Mum complains because when she's at home, she obviously no longer requires her handbag, but with no pockets to put the phone in it either gets left in the bag, or abandoned in whichever room she happens to take it out in first. Obviously if she's visiting me it's no problem, as it can sit by her seat with phone available. Not that anyone gets signal in my flat...
Whereas a man's phone can stay in his pocket, and be available at all times. Ready for fondling or answering, as required.
Given the annoyances women are willing to put up with in the name of fashion, should we seek another solution? If pockets spoil the line of a well cut trouser. How's about autonomous drone handbags? Either flying or wheeled, which follow you round the house, with all your bits-and-pieces.
Re: The Martian
I just hope Ridley Scott doesn't turn it into another Prometheus.....
I watched Blade Runner a few weeks ago (must have been the Director's Cut), followed by a documentary on it. I wonder if all films have quite that level of infighting...?
Ridley Scott said he'd optioned Dune at the time, but decided on Blade Running instead. I wonder what he'd have made of that? As many problems as I thought Prometheus had, it's still Citizen Kane in comparison with David Lynch's Dune. Dune has crap script, crap acting and crap special effects, all rolled into one package.
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