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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3317 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE

I ain't Spartacus
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We can ignore a 'post-scarcity' economy in economics. Because we currently have no way to achieve it. So economics (and politics) is still all about how best to divide and ration scarce resources.

It may be true that there aren't many uses for the washing machine, but itself it's a development of many different technologies. And it's still being innovated upon. It's taken other inventions, pumps, electric motors, chemicals, computers (to achieve power and water efficiencies), ball-bearings. And is still changing. They now use under half the water they did 10 years ago, thus fewer chemicals, and less energy. You can now get them with variable speed motors, cutting down on noise, vibration and power use - as well as prolonging the life of the unit. This is possible because the pump industry (and others) have pushed down the cost of inverter-driven motors.

Or you could take a similar dead-end invention with no further uses, the dishwasher. And yet some American chap has published a book, called dishwasher cookery. Now you see the benefits of capitalism! Communism would never have given us that... Oh dear, have I just destroyed capitalism with a single argument? Ooops.

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Re: As I always say

Pepper sir? Would sir like some grated mouse on his pasta?

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My big reveal as macro-economics analyst: It's a load of COBBLERS

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Because the ECB gave those LTRO loans on a two year basis. They've mostly been repaid, and are all due to be called in around February. Also, the ECB were demanding collateral. This meant that there was a shortage of assets for banks to borrow against or use. Which is why the interbank lending and repo markets are still so crap. That and the breakdown of trust between the banks.

The ECB efforts are already mostly reversed, which is one reason why Eurozone money supply has been collapsing for the last two years. The problem with the Eurozone response to the crisis, is that not only can they not agree on solutions, but when they eventually do agree a policy, it's always short term and badly compromised. Which is why the Euro was such a rubbish idea. There is no way to achieve consensus, because there is no single dominant political institution. Nor is there an electorate back that up, and force a resolution. Nor is there a single economy, for policy to work on.

Although funnily enough, interest rates always seem to be about right for Germany, even when that caused serious inflation in Spain and Ireland 10 years ago. And then partly caused depression in Spain and Ireland five years ago.

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Judge nixes HP deal for director amnesty after $8.8bn Autonomy snafu

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Re: Sorry HP, there are two sides to every purchase

That would work, except Meg Whitman was on the board at the time of the deal. You can't make $10bn purchases without board approval. The board are financially and legally responsible for oversight of the business and its executives, on behalf of the shareholders. If it wasn't a good deal, she still signed it.

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TV transport tech, part 2: From sofa to server at the touch of a button

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Unhappy

I thought the Virgin box was slow and annoying too. But then I stayed at my Mum's house for a week, and she's got Talk Talk [cue sinister music]. I don't know what they've done to their Youview boxes, but it's probably criminal...

They're not slow, snails are slow. What are ice ages? They must have known this, because they've even added something to the programming, so that after you've waited for five minutes, a little message pops up to tell you 'just finishing'. About 10 minutes later, something usually happens. I wonder if they found a job lot of old 286s? Maybe Z80s?

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Best shot: Coffee - how do you brew?

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I like good coffee as much as the next man. But I found that having to blow up my house every few months, in order to get rid of my coffee pot's makers, was just too much hassle. So I've gone back to using a french press...

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ISIS terror fanatics invade Diaspora after Twitter blockade

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Devil

The very next day...

In shock news the US and UK governments have surrendered to ISIS, after it threatened to replace the entire internet with non-stop, non-interuptable songs from Justin Bieber and 1Direction.

In a statement today David Cameron said, "I shall grow my beard forthwith. I am sorry for having destroyed Western civilsation with one careless action. I did not realise the power of sonic warfare until this moment. The British government have been ordered by our ISIS overlords to declare holy war on Radio 1. The death penalty has been introduced today for all boy-bands, girl-bands, and solo pop artists. N Dubz will be executed live on News at Ten tonight. We hope to capture Girls Aloud before they can do any more harm.

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Re: But Diaspora is Haram*!

The headlines today. An SAS mission to delivered 1Direction and Justin Bieber to ISIS has succeeded.

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BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE

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Re: children then people

When do children become people?

I'm not exactly sure. I'd say at about age 25? Once they've learned to wash regularly, mostly got a decent haircut and turned their music down.

And got off my lawn, obviously.

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Re: Not just Oz.. happening in the UK aswell

Lionel Baden,

The hoover doesn't cut the mustard. There's an escalating scale, according to a friend of mine who's terrified of them. Really small ones, she can bear to approach, and gets with the insect spray. Or if she doesn't like the look of it, she's been known to throw the can at them. Bigger ones get the hoover. But the hoover then has to be placed outside, for some friendly person to come and decontaminate. Only in the case of really huge ones does she now run screaming from the room.

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Re: *whimper*

To repurpose an old joke:

"The artifact's in Australia. I hate snakes!"

"Nah worries Indy mate. The spiders killed all the snakes."

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Devil

Insects? Pah! It's obvious the city slickers are gorging themselves on McDonalds and kebabs. Once they've worked themselves up a bit more, they'll move on to cats and small dogs. Then it'll be children, and finally people.

It's quite clear that the only way we can stop this is to evacuate Australia, before the animals learn how to consume us puny humans, and then take over the world. Or maybe it's even too late for that, and we'll just have to nuke the place. But that's got to be a last-ditch solution, as the risk of giant, radioactive mega-spiders is just too high. Plus, imagine how huge the drop bears would get...

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Is it an iPad? Is it a MacBook Air? No, it's a Surface Pro 3

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Re: want a pen

The Samsung pen software isn't as good as the Microsoft stuff. Disclaimer, I'm out of date. My last major use of an MS tablet was with Vista and a rotating hinge HP laptop. Mostly it was a dodgy compromise, though at £600 I was very happy with it. But the handwriting recognition and palm rejection was excellent. And I'm sure it's improved or stayed the same since.

Neither recognition, nor palm rejection were as good on the Note II. And Samsung's software was a touch more confusing as well. Not to mention the fact that the Note came with 2 different pieces of Sammie software to do the same job, which they then changed to 3 with an update, but disabled access to the best one from the photo app. I am however a huge fan of the Note II, and Samsung for seemingly being the only people who recognised that a stylus is crap and annoying for navigating round the software, now we've got decent capacatitive screens. But that a stylus is second-to-none for text input on a mobile device. Shame they charge double for their Note tablets, over the normal ones though.

If I could have an iPad with a proper stylus for writing and drawing, I'd be a happy camper. My next tablet may not be Apple because of their irrational hatred of the stylus.

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LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!

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Re: Cowboy Playmanaught

No, no no! You've got this wrong. Only an idiot would program their autopilot to avoid trees. If you tell the aircraft that their are trees, it will find them! This is a cast-iron law of aviation. You simply whistle quietly to yourself, muttering, "Trees? Trees? No, none of those round here." Then hope it doesn't notice.

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Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies

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Re: I still dont get the asteroid thingy and why its got so much traction

sandman,

I have to dispute your statement here. Many dinosaurs survived the Late Maastrichtian period.

Obviously the Majorsaurus died out quite quickly, along with the Portillodon. But the Redwoodopteris, BillCashasaurus, Whittingdaledactyl are still very much with us. Not to mentin the IainDuncanSmithasaurus Rex...

I'd probably best get my coat.

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Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy

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The European Arrest Warrant was not designed for "serious criminals and terrorists". It's part of the EU delusion of statehood. As well as being quite a sensible response to having a single immigration and working area covering a large chunk of a continent, so that police can operate across borders (as criminals do). I don't approve of the loss of sovereignty myself, and think extradition is the appropriate tool, but if the EU really does break down the barriers to the free movement of people (so it's as easy to move house and job within the EU as the US), then there's a perfectly fine argument for it.

I'm no expert on Swedish law, but I'd imagine an arrest warrant is exactly what it is. Arrest before charging is normal. In the UK system, you usually arrest someone before an interview if you think that there is a serious chance of charging them. If someone has buggered-off (in Assange's case out of the country) after being called to that interview, you might issue an arrest warrant, to ask other police to go out and get him for you.

There's no media exaggeration. Most stories I've seen have used the term sexual offences, rather than rape. Although rape is an accurate reflection of the charge according to the UK's Supreme Court. What there actually is, is a campaign of trivialisation of serious allegations by Assange, his legal team and his supporters.

He gets the benefit of the doubt, innocent until proven guily is important. But by fleeing justice, and lying about how serious the allegations are, as well as lying about leaving Sweden with permission, when his lawyer had already been told he was wanted for questioning again, I am a lot less inclined to assume his innocence than I'd otherwise be.

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Re: Logic fail

DiViDeD,

Just to clear this up yet again, he's accused of rape. I haven't seen the sex by surprise crap defence trotted out by his supporters in a while now...

Go and look up the Supreme Court judgement: at this link here.

The court sat on the legality of the European Arrest Warrant system. I think this was the test case for it. And accepted it. That was the only legitimate matter under discussion, since the system as set up does not allow for political or judicial interference in the process. So long as a police force / prosecutor can get the right paperwork in their own country, the other country's police and courts are simply supposed to shut up and hand their citizen over. This is the reason I personally oppose the EAW system, and prefer extradition, even though it's more expensive and time-consuming.

However, the court then went on to consider Julian Assange's other legal arguments. Despite the fact that they were totally irrelevant to the UK courts, and were therefore made for PR purposes only. As I (and the court) said, the EAW doesn't give discretion to this country, we've simply handed some of our sovereignty over to the Swedish prosecutor's office.

The court decided that there was prima facie evidence for 2 counts of rape. It might have been 3, I can't remember if ripping the condom is even still on the charge sheet, or be bothered to check. The first is that he's alleged to have held the first victim down, with his weight rather than by violence, and tried to force himselve on her. She'd said no sex without condom. That is rape in anyone's book (if true). He's then supposed to have stopped that, put his condom on like a good boy, and is alleged to have deliberately damaged it while she wasn't looking.

The other accusation was that he waited until woman number two was asleep, she'd also said no sex without condom, and then had sex with her without one anyway. The Supreme Court ruled that this was also rape under UK law, as it's sex without consent. He'd have had consent with a condom, but none without and someone who's asleep, unconscious or drunk can't give consent.

As Ken Clark got in trouble for saying, some rapes are more serious than others. Assange didn't force himself on some random stranger at knife-point. But what's accused of is a hell of a lot more serious than some 'bedroom hijinks'. And his supporters, and he, do their case a lot of damage by trying to pretend that these charges aren't very serious.

Given it's their word against his, I'd have thought he's quite likely to get found not guilty whatever the truth is.

Finally I don't think you can apply for an EAW unless the alleged crime carries a possible custodial sentence.

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Re: Please

Speaking as a member of the unwashed masses (an ironic comment given that Assange seems to be a bit of a soap-dodger, by the accounts of journalists he's worked with), I feel I have every right to make unfavourable comment about Julian Assange. Which I would be perfectly happy to say to his face, were the occasion to arise.

You see he's come to my country and abused its freedoms. At quite considerably cost to us poor, put-upon, unwashed tax-payers. And incdientally a few of the more credulous celebrities who chose to support him and/or his cause. He's bitched and moaned about the rather excellent due process which we allowed him. Then abused the fact that he was granted bail to fuck off to a foreign embassy to hide for a couple of years, avoiding the consequences of the mess he got himself into in another country.

I don't believe in pre-judging the outcome of trials. However he's not exactly acting like someone who's innocent. Now admittedly his suddenly developed fear of US extradition could be his well-documented paranoid tendencies showing through. But it's funny how he was willing to ask for residence in Sweden before the accusation was brought against him, and when he fled Sweden it was to the UK. Both of us have extradition treaties with the US - and that only seemed to start bothering him after he was wanted for questioning on 2 rape cases.

As you say though, he's not very good at handling PR. Or people in general, I rather suspect. And he does seem to be a rather mixed-up guy. But I find a lot to disapprove of in both his personal and professional actions. And the fact that he's so obsessive about protecting his personal details, while happy to leak others' - along with his cavalier attitude to what Wikileaks published and what its money got spent on (i.e. himself) - I'd be grateful if he'd stop ponficiting on how unfair life is on poor old Julian.

he is being used as a distraction from some serious issues that certain people need accounting for

Careful, your tinfoil hat is slipping here... Used? Used by who? If he's a distraction from the causes he supports, then that's because he continues to act like an egotistical arsehole. Getting himself mixed-up in not one, but two, rape allegations doesn't exactly help. I do feel sorry for him, as I suspect it isn't much fun to be Julian Assange. But he has a choice about what actions he takes. And he does seem to leave a trail of betrayed friends and colleagues. Which doesn't speak well for his character.

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Re: Practical Interim Cost-saving measure

Hmmm. Placebo police.

The placebo police dismisseth us.

Howsabout: Policebo? Plodcebo? Pneumati-pig / pneumati-plod? Blowbobby?

This idea has potential. Inflatable police cars in turnings near accident black-spots. Everyone slows down. We could have inflatable anti-terrorist policemen at Glasgow airport, after all they've got the hardest baggage handlers in the land (John Smeaton), so we can save the expense...

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Re: Heroes

He's not the Messiah you know, just a very naughty boy

Oh dear. Does that mean he's going to take all his clothes off, and address the adoring masses through the embassy window?

In which case, can I vote for the BBC not to send any cameras...

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I ain't Spartacus
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To be fair, the definition of a press conference is a meeting to gain media attention.

Obviously in this particular case he is an attention-whore. It's interesting that Ecuador's foreign minister was just whining in the Guardian about how the UK had apparently violated his human rights by not letting him flee from justice, but forcing him to face his accusors in court like anybody else.

He even had the cheek to say to the Guardian that only his legal team and the government of Ecuador were behaving reasonably. I don't know how the UK could have been any more reasonable. He brought his troubles here of his own accord, was given bail, a transparent legal process and the right of appeal.

Admittedly I don't approve of the European Arrest Warrants, because they're open to abuse from legal systems that are worse than our own. But I wouldn't say that about the Swedish system. And Assange can't really claim that either, given that he applied for residency in Sweden not much before running away from the place - which makes his arguments about US extradition look rather rubbish.

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Cargo truck crammed with garbage explodes IN SPAAAAACE

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Re: The real question

Nope. They just chuck everything into the big blue bin provided.

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You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference

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Re: Summoner's Tale

I appear to be suffering from a severe case of grocers' apostrophitis at the moment. I come back to El Reg to see if anyone's replied to my posts, only to find that I've used who's and it's, instead of whose and its. It's terrible.

Seems to be a typing tic, rather than my brain forgetting all the grammar that I wasn't taught in english lessons. Fortunately my latin teacher, who failed to force much latin into my head, did manage to teach me how to solve the Telegraph crossword alond with some grammar. I can't type London, without first typing Lodno and then correcting. Similarly confustion is an almost inevitable typo, but I quite like it as a word.

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FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'

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Re: is that what ElReg sarcasm looks like

Far better for daylight is to have a genuinely reflective display such as e-ink rather than a transmissive (light emitting) display such as the usual OLED / LED displays. However reflective displays are not so useful in the dark and colour accuracy depends entirely on the light source you are lighting it with.

Wearable tech is the future, right? Or so I keep reading. And if the industry analysts say so, then they must be right!

So all you do is have a reflective display, and a head torch, which outputs the correct colour temperature. It would have a light sensor on it, and a built in Bluetooth earpiece. Perhaps a pluse sensor and a thingy that detects how long your hair has grown, and automatically books your next appointment at the barbers. This way the phone can be smaller, as it doesn't need a battery for it's backlight, and it won't at all look odd wearing a giant torch on your head.

Remember you heard it here first. Who'll fund my Kickstarter campaign?

Question to the Aussies: What's this "sun" thing you keep talking about?

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

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Re: Has this article slipped through a wormhole from 25 years ago?

Utilities are not cheaper on the continent, although railways are. I still pay 50% less for my electricity now than I did when I lived in a similar sized flat in Brussels 15 years ago. French rates are similar, and in Germany domestic rates are much higher, as they've been using green levies on domestic power to cross subsidise industrial energy costs. For which effective subsidy the European Commission is currently considering enforcement action.

By the way, it's perfectly possible to have a social conscience and believe that the more right-wing economists are correct. It says nothing about one's societal values, that you happen to believe that one economic theory works better than another. So the Scandinavians can run very free markets, but with high taxes, and very strong social safety nets.

It's all very well claiming to be more-caring-than-thou. But it's not much good to people, if in the process you fuck up their economy.

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Re: How to plan central planning

We elect the politicians. But we also pay for the newspapers. That's democracy. We can't complain that politicians both bend to loudly expressed public opinion and that they don't listen to us. People need to grow the fuck up and start taking responsibility. You can't whine about taxes, and whine about lack of government spending. It's got to be both or neither.

Many politicians go into politics because they believe in something. And would like to see some of it implemented. That means they have to deals with enough other politicians to form a governing group, and get at least some of what they wanted. That's life in the grown-up world. You can't always get what you want.

Much of this politician bashing is cheap, lazy and often ill-informed. How many people before the last election said they wanted no-one to win, and a coalition. And have complained ever since about having got a coalition? Because neither party stuck to their manifesto. Well of course they didn't! They didn't win. The voters told them to compromise. They did. They did it in a reasonably amicable and sensible manner, with the minimum of stabbing. And then the voters accused them of having no principals. The voters should take a long hard look at themselves.

Obviously no sensible politician should say that. And we should stilll keep an eye on them, so they don't get out of order.

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breakfast,

Markets aren't perfect. Very few people claim that they are. Markets don't solve all problems. What markets can allow you to do is to allocate resources in the way people want them allocated. In some ways it's democracy in action. Except you only get as many votes as you have pound notes, so it's not all that fair.

Take education as an example. Everyone knows there are good schools, OK schools and a few truly crap schools. Talk to the parents in an area, and they all know which is which, and which they really don't want. At the moment you broadly get into the good schools by living near them. So house prices are higher in the catchment area. Obviously it's more complicated than that.

But in a lot of cases, you get what you're given. There's been an attempt by government to have inspections, and try to force change on some of the worst schools. Which has had mixed success. It's a big old unweildy system, and there's a lot of competing interests pulling in slightly different directions.

Another approach might be to give all parents a voucher, and let them spend it where they will. With safeguards. It could be chaos at first, and this might make it unworkable. However, there's a chance that it might lead to a more responsive system. And fewer kids might get a chance at a decent education that otherwise wouldn't have been open to them.

One advantage of this, is that we could re-open the village schools. If parents wanted it, they'd pool their vouchers. It probably wouldn't be enough to pay for it alone, but with use of say a free church hall, some volunteer help and top-up from parents or the parish council, it could be possible to have a village primary again. Which would be a decent example of local democracy in action, something this country could do with.

To be honest I'm not sure about education vouchers, and whether they're workable. But there's a perfectly valid argument for them. Monolithic state services tend to get into a habit of saying "you'll get what you're given."

What I think would benefit from change is the NHS. Take Belgium as an example. You get a better service over there, and it costs them less money. As a country they're far to the left of us, and yet their health service is semi-private. The state and universities run the teaching hospitals, there are private ones, state ones, charity ones, union ones and company ones. Your GP will point you in the direction of where to go. Ten years ago they were doing heart bypass surgery for 1/3rd the cost of the NHS, with better survival and post-op infection rates. And virutally no waiting lists. My friend ran a company bringing UK private and government patients over for treatment. They took 1/3rd and spent it on hotels, travel, translation, hand-holding, form-filling and profit for them, the UK patients or taxpayer saved 1/3rd. Admittedly I wouldn't go for the complex mutuelle and top-up insurance system that pays for it, I'd go with taxation and vouchers. But no-one complained that GPs were never nationalised in this country, and have always been private contractors to the NHS. I think a mixed system would be much better, and could be achieved piecemeal as well.

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Re: Inefficiency

Ledswinger,

You're massively unfair on the 1945 Attlee government. They were one of the greatest governments this country has ever had. And I say that as a Conservative with certain Thatcherite economic tendencies, even if I am a social liberal.

There were good reasons for the decision to build new steam locos after the war. They weren't in a position to transition to diesel, but they needed new rolling stock. I'm not sure if Beeching didn't cut too far. But predicting the future is hard.

Remember that they were a government who'd been through two World Wars and one Depression. They had different experiences and wanted to try and work the economy a different way. They also had to deal with horrendous war debts, damage at home, and a horrifically complicated international situation. So while creating the health service, they were actually increasing defence spending over what it had been pre-war as a percentage of GDP. Secretly building a nuclear bomb, preparing for the Cold War, dealing with the Berlin airlift. Also having to maintain rationing in Britain inorder to be able to afford to feed the Germans in the British Zone, who's economy had collapsed.

If they made some mistakes along the way, they did a fuck of a lot, in a short time. They got the NHS and social security model about right. It was later generations of politicians who failed to adapt them to changing times and society.

I broadly agree that central planning doesn't work. I'd say that politically it had to be tried in 1945, because of what had happened in the 20s and 30s. Politics often trumps economics. In the short term at least.

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Re: How to plan central planning

Pete 2,

I don't deny the need for census data, and nor does government. They just don't think they can get it. Understand that they're not dumping the paper census for all lovely computerisation. The problem isn't the paper. The problem is the people. The people who don't fill the forms out. Sadly a large proportion of these are the exact people who move around a lot, and so the ones they most want to know about.

I'd imagine what they'll do is some sort of weighted survey. Rather like the unemployment figures. They have a number gathered from people going to job centres, but the one they mostly look at is a giant survey which picks up more data. Then you have to extrapolate to the national level. The assumptions I've seen from people are that this data will be worse, but it's all we're likely to get, and being cheaper we can at least run it more often.

I certainly didn't say there was no point in even trying. For example, I support HS2, even though the economic case supposedly doesn't stack up. Because we need more north/south links, and I suspect a new motorway would be even less politically acceptable. Only government can do stuff like that.

Government is best placed to run some services. Others it could usefully outsource. Here I don't mean give it to some other monolithic incompetents like Crapita. I mean give the service users the money to spend with whoever they want. That would spread the government coffers to less avaricious local companies, and force the big boys to actually deliver the service they promise or lose all the cash. Something government seems to be terrible at doing. For an example of this I suggest the Belgian/German/Dutch healthcare systems.

Anyway ignoring that, semi-privatising parts of the NHS to make it more like the more socialist Northern European model might be better than our current system, but would be electoral suicide. There's plenty to argue about what government can and can't do, but running a full planned economy is just impossible. It's just too complex. We'd need to have a department to work out sandwich production, another for tablets, another for fizzy drinks. Plus cars, racehorses, football teams. Just look at the quality of cars that planned economies have produced.

Or take the crappy solar industry the last government bequeated us. So fat with subsidy that it was possible for the greedy fuckers in the solar PV companies to give their panels away free - in exchange for the user signing away the flow of taxpayers cash. Meanwhile the far more useful heat-pumps and solar thermal systems didn't get the subsidy, even though they actually work in this climate on domestic properties. They also subsidised them on houses, which don't often use leccy during the day (as people are out). Whereas if they'd put them on the far larger rooves of schools and offices, they'd have actually made a difference to the climate.

Government also backed wind. Which has turned out to be about half as useful as we expected. This is because governments are crap at picking winners. Actually, so is the market. Some company would have set up to deliver solar PV. And would have gone bust to the guys doing heat pumps or solar-thermal. Not that I say no government. Because none would get off the ground without government persuasion. But something like the Merton Rule or Code for Sustainable Homes would have been a better route. With smaller subsidies to retrofit on suitable buildings.

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Re: How to plan central planning

The government is crap at getting the right number of schools and hospitals in the right place. For years, successive governments have been trying to get the NHS to cut a few of the well-known inner-London hospitals, and build hospitals in outer London, where the people actually live. But no bugger will do it, and no Health Secretary wants to cop the horrendous publicity for doing it.

The last Labour government lost track of immigration from Eastern Europe between 2 censuses (censae?). Thus places like Slough and Hillingdon kept running out of money because they'd had vast increases in population which no-one was tracking. A perfectly easy problem to deal with, if only we had the information to know what to do. But we couldn't get that, because a lot of these immigrants turned out not to answer the door to the census people, or fill out the forms. There's a strong feeling that 2011 will be the last census - because the data quality is getting so much worse.

We had an un-planned net immigration spike of something like 2 million people in under 5 years. Many have since gone back - but that's an example of central planning being really hard.

How would the central planners know how many sandwiches to produce each lunchtime, for the whold nation?

It's just too damned difficult.

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Re: Inefficiency

Harri Koppel,

Remember that we can't predict GDP even a quarter in advance, to any decent degree of accuracy. Most countries can't even get their GDP calcs right in the month after the quarter has ended. It's not uncommon for major, sophisticated economies to adjust their quarterly GDP data by as much as 0.3%age points - on figures that are usually less than 1% to start with.

It takes a few seconds from a Central Bank changing the base rate of interest for it to start affecting the market. Stock and bond markets first, then business and consumers' perceptions of how the economy is going. But the main effects of a change don't start to really change the real economy for around 3-6 months. And those changes can be slowly cascading through the economy for 2-3 years. All at a time when our figures on what the economy is doing are months out of date.

This is simply too complex to control. It's impossible to know what's going on in the economy now, let along what effect changes will make. And yet people think we can run a command economy?

Britain made a decent fist of it during World War II. It's the most effective example of a command economy I can think of. Most major combatants were doing the same, to various levels of success. But that was deliberately short-termist, aimed at an objective. And major nationalisations were inevitable in 1945, because so much of the capital infrastructure was worn out through over-use and under-investment. Then again, that seems to happen to most command economies, even when they're not fighting to win the biggest war ever.

Even if a command economy were desirable (which I don't believe it is), it's simply not possible. We don't have the data. Or the theory to know how to use it. Price is still the best way we've come up with to ration demand and signal what the market wants/needs.

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No Apple fanbois here: Man United BANS iPads from Old Trafford

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Re: Cunning...

I'm sure it would taste considerably nicer than the pies you get at many football grounds...

Now who's for a Wahabi Wagon Wheel to follow their Bin Laden Bovril and Jihadi Jumbo Sausage? My round, I'll just get them from the Allahu snakbar...

[it's probably best that I get my coat at this point]

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The internet just BROKE under its own weight – we explain how

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Re: IPv6 like OSI is far more complex than necessary

Of course that was far too simple but, more importantly, doesn't provide a gravy train to ride.

How exactly does one ride a gravy train, without drowning in brown liquid?

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Re: NAT is a kludge

Of course all those sub-par BT homehubs and other pieces of cheap ISP shite won't, but that's not my problem :)

Alan Brown,

Thanks for caring. Of course, when hundreds of millions of those unprotected domestic users are joined into a giant mega-botnet DDoSing and spamming their way round the network, plus turning peoples' IoT lights and heating on and off at random, you might not be quite so sanguine...

Any internet design that isn't hardened against incompetent users and cheapskate ISPs, is not fit for purpose. And whoever designed it is an imbecile.

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Re: IPv6 like OSI is far more complex than necessary

IPv6 looks to me like a slow-motion car crash. I'm no network techie, in fact although I speak geek fluently enough to order dinner or a hotel, my only possible claim to techie-dom is water systems design.

But for years now, I keep reading stories about how we're all going to have to go IPv6 RIGHT ABOUT NOW!!!! Well, it's usually in a couple of months' time - becuase someone's just found another block of v4 addresses down the back of the sofa.

And then I read about what it can't do. Because apparently NAT smells of poo. And everything must be connected to everyone else. I wasn't aware that it would bugger up backup network connections for example.

It's a bit like reading about the Euro crisis, for which I have enough economics to understand. A high priesthood have ordained a thing. And so it shall be done. But it can't be done. Oh, but it will be done [cue sinister voice]... It's all going to go wrong. No it isn't. Look guys, this isn't the ideal world where academics and dreamers live. This is the real world, where people fuck up, penny-pinch, cheat, or steal. It's all going to go horribly wrong.

The only difference is the Euro-fanatics managed to just get over the line, and get their dream built before they ran out of political momentum. Just in time for it to slowly turn into a nightmare. Whereas IPv6 seems to be stuck forever in limbo.

It makes my brain hurt. I hope all the plug and pray stuff works properly, if it ever does come in. Because I have enough trouble with home/small office IPv4 networks - and I'm never going to remember one of those huge IPv6 addresses.

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Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app

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Re: Could I be his eyes?

I think the idea is to achieve as much independence as possible. This is why blind kids are mostly put into main-stream schools now. The special schools are reserved for the much less able kids. In essence the idea is that anyone who's going to have any sort of independence goes the main-stream route, so they can learn to do their bouncing off of other people and coping early. They'll then get separate mobility and life-skills training. There are still options like Worcester College for the Blind, which is a residential secondary school. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, but it's too easy to institutionalise kids, and leave them effectively in a ghetto with few sighted friends.

For things like walks to the shops and work, there is local mobility training. People learn the number of bins, bus-stops, types of kerb, pavement surfaces, sounds, roadside railings, etc.. With a bit of practise this builds up into a map of the local area, so blind people can be independent.

I also came across a really nifty reverse sat-nav a few years ago. They built a fully talking touchscreen sat-nav. But it was too hard for many people to use. My Mum can barely use hers, and that's pretty simply, and she can see it. When you've got to find and remember your place in about 15 levels of sub-menu - with only audio cues, it's a right old bugger. So they built one that you program from your PC. It only holds about 5 destinations. And it can tell you where to go, but mostly it tells you where you actually are. Say, "you're on the corner of Oxford Street and Bond Street facing North". So you can sit on the bus and have it call out what roads you're going down, so you don't miss your stop. Or progam in an appointment beforehand. It'd be even better if they could link up to Google Maps public transport (or Nokia's HERE equivalent).

That sort of technology linking is the dream of indepence. Stuff people can control themselves. So blind kids now get laptops and scanners. Plus Braille laptops, that have 6 key input and a pin display instead of a screen. This means you can scan class work (once they're older they have to do this themselves), and then either get it read back as text, or get the Braille Note out and take it as Brailled text. This makes it a lot easier for blind people to get jobs, without needing a secretary to handle correspondence as well.

As speech recognition and OCR improves, this kind of stuff will only become more useful. Along with mobile phone apps, and more-and-more data being published. So barcode / RFID scanners to help with shopping, public transport info, better online maps etc.

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Re: Hmmmm

Did you go to Sight Village? I'm afraid that the current situation is a hundred times better than it used to be, even 10 years ago. Because the NHS and local government have historically dominated purchasing, we weren't getting the shiny stuff they had in the US. Of course a large single market also made it easier for small companies to trade. Whereas export is harder.

I went to one about five years ago, with the idea of starting an Internet business in this area. To try and get some of the American goodies over here. As well as to try and create an online community to talk about and review shiny tech. But a lot of that stuff had already got over here. Also, there's a lot of technology that can be repurposed to do the job. You can also pick up cheap magnifiers, binoculars, monoculars and the like. Stuff that simply wasn't affordable 10-20 years ago.

To be fair to these companies, hardware production is still relatively expensive in small runs. It's a small market. And a lot of purchasing decisions are still being made by cautious bureaucrats. None of the kit that I get from the NHS is even vaguely close to the cutting edge of what's available. And they're still buying very expensive products from the same suppliers they always used. Even though there are now much cheaper options available. Probably because the people making the decisions haven't looked at what's available in the market since they trained.

A chap in my office building was referred to a local resource centre with his wife, looking for stuff to help with her macular degeneration. I don't think any of the kit there was newer than 10 years old. Except some of the little portable CCTV's. Which are still better than trying to do the same job with a mobile phone camera. And now cost peanuts. However, all she needed to help with her reading was A4 Kindle, and help with setup. Sadly, the local library service, use Adobe Digital editions. Which is an utter pile of useless shit. It can't even enlarge text it's so primitive. It's also unable to authorise a better piece of software access content on the same device. So you'd have to authorise another laptop, in order to be able to use better software to read the content you downloaded to the first laptop. Or you just use available tools to crack the encryption. But that ended up being too much hassle, and so she stuck with the limited range of available large print books, and put up with the arthritis pain that manhandling these huge tomes causes. I guess it's still better than large print, where the Lord of the Rings runs to 13 volumes of 18 inch square and an inch thick.

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Asking for help is also an issue of independence for some people. Whereas, an app which you control and pay for, is a whole different kettle of fish.

A chap I used to know, had a roving blind spot. Unpredictably so. He said one of the worst things was being helped across the road by little old ladies...

When I've asked for help, there are plenty of times when I've got a bemused reaction, and been told that the information is on that sign over there. Even at so-called information points. Not that I'm saying people aren't mostly nice, because they are. I suppose one answer to this, would be to make things more obvious with a big fuck off pair of dark glasses. Or perhaps a flashing sign?

I did confuse the bag search at Lord's, last time I was there. Then again two pairs of binoculars, monocular, reading glasses, distance glasses, and two types of sunglasses might be considered a little excessive by some.

A lot of places seem to have just about worked out what wheelchairs are for, but do far less well with visual impairment, which is ironically easier. For example, 90% of museums put the item descriptions inside the display case. Usually in about 14 point type. So not only is it far away, but it's behind a distorting and reflective layer of glass. The cost of putting 2 signs (at either end), on the outside of the case, in say 20 point type is basically bugger all. Admittedly decent audio guides are a lot harder. But then, with proper signage, wouldn't be needed by as many people.

My local council, have just replaced the orange LED signage on the bus stops, with far prettier LCD screens that show adverts. Shame no one thought that LCDs aren't readable in sunlight. Or that halving the text size might be a bit annoying…

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Blighty in SPAAAACE: Brit-built satellite films the Earth

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To all those who complained about JJ Abrams, look at all that lens-flare? Of course he also likes to have it inside his ships...

Once Lohan gets off the ground, these images will be put in their place, and SST will be shown up for the puny organisation they are, in comparison to the mighty Vultures.

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Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage

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It's amazing how fault tolerant modern sites are.

I'm astounded how good online and cloud services have become in the last 2 or 3 years. I don't think I can remember in that time a single service falling over. I've seen all the statements. And the worst that has happened is that a few customers were affected for a short time, before the dedicated engineers solved the problem, and everything in the garden was rosy again.

I put it down to marketing becoming responsible for service status updates, rather than tech. As you will all no doubt agree, marketing (with all their MBAs) are far better qualified to run complex systems than mere IT-scum. Hence this recent vast improvement in fault tolerance.

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Microsoft: Just what the world needs – a $25 Nokia dumbphone

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Lost all faith,

I'm pretty sure it's true. Part of the deal was that MS licenced Nokia's patents for 10 years or so, and the name for 2 years I think. They only get to keep the Lumia brand permanently, and so will have to change over to that.

This gives Nokia the ability to go back to producing phones in future, should they choose to. Although I can't see why they'd bother, having only just managed to dump their phone division.

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Google leaves STUPID vuln on Nest devices

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Re: I can't be the only one

I strongly disagree. The Internet of Things is the future. As all right thinking people know. We can leverage the synergies into a new paradign of strategisation.

Also once this is done, I'm going to be the thought-leader of the next big thing. The IoW - Internet of Weapons. There are so many advantages to this. Why have journalists on the ground, when all bombs can send their camera footage direct to the BBC. Why pay expensive intelligence analysts, when the wisdom of crowds can be leveraged to gain accurate targeting information. I have seen the future, and it's online voting to set the targets for Britain's nuclear deterent*

*Obviously it'll be Paris. Or depending on how September's vote goes, Edinburgh...

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Chomp that sausage: Brits just LOVE scoffing a Full Monty

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Re: So basiclly,

For a moment there I thought you were having a go at French toast, which you may know as eggy bread. I've tried eggy bread with maple syrup at home and it's not to be sniffed at.

Richard 81,

My arteries now hate you. I've not had eggy-bread in ages. It's OK with ketchup, but I'd not tried it with maple syrup. Which I have in, as I was given some US breakfast pancake mixture by a relative.

To all other sceptics in my country I should point out that American/Scottish pancakes are an execllent substitute for the usual fried slice or toast option. Actually US biscuits are quite nice too. Although I'm not so sure about country gravy. The pancakes, bacon, sausage and maple syrup go very well together, with a bit of fried egg and some beans on the side. I'm not so sure about adding blueberries to the whole thing though.

Talking of US breakfasts I'm not a fan of the hash browns you can get in England. They're not the same as what you get in the US anyway. But I sometimes have some potato croquettes with my brekkie. Sauteed tatoes are good too.

To push the American thing even further, my brother introduced me to the breakfast burrito. TexMex at it's finest (or worst). Take a nice tortilla, spread some salsa on it, add a rasher or two of bacon, scrambled egg, a little grated cheese, roll up and consume. Yummy. Also works with sausage. The salsa should have a decent chilli kick, without being overpowering.

I must confess to eating a Linda McCartney veggie sausage with my fry-up recently. I had vegetarians over, and couldn't be bothered to cook two kinds. I had proper bacon of course, I'm not a pervert. Those things are truly horrible. I think veggies must eat them in order to avoid temptation - as a sort of re-inforcement to make them think that meat is horrible tasting. Bleurgh!

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Re: @LarsG

Your arteries say Thank You!

No. I think his arteries say:

"NnnnnnnnnNNNnnngggggggrrrrrrrrrAaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Make it stop! Yum. Yum. Nomnomnom. Aaaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhhhh!!! Yummy. Oh dear. Make it st... Oh bugger it! Moooooooorrrreeeeee! Mmmmmmmm. Yum!

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Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM

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Re: How to cut SMS spam volumes by 90%

Yes and I'm hopping mad about it!

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Re: Can you turn it off?

AMBxx,

I doubt you can turn text messages off. You can however turn their notifications off, and remove the link to the text app from the home page of your chosen mobile OS. Hide it in a folder somewhere. Then hey presto: No texts.

Personally I don't like texts. But my Mum does, as do several friends (with a mix of smartphones and dumbphones) At work sometimes, people are in bad coverage areas and need information like addresses, which can be sent by SMS. On a smartphone it's as easy to input as email anyway.

As with any technology it's horses for courses. You use what gets the job done most efficiently, and get on with your day. Adults don't get dogmatic about their favourite platform...

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Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?

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Are you sure you've got that right? Isn't it that every time a cat video is uploaded to the internet, an analyst has to release a report full of bollocks?

Stop uploading those cat videos now!

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China to test recoverable moon orbiter

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Re: Err... That does not fit my understanding of orbital mechanics

You say that, but it's not so easy. Sure you don't need much propellant to escape lunar gravity, but then you have to deal with the Clangers with their tractor-beams and death-rays. What did you think really happened to Apollo 13?

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Nuts to your poncey hipster coffees, I want a TESLA ELECTRO-CAFE

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m0rt,

Nice post. You are correct that I go for a french press/cafetiere nowadays. I dumped my drip machine a while back, as it took up too much space and the hot plate seems to bugger up the second cup. So my nice stainless steel insulated jobbie comes and sits on the coffee table by my chair. It's so much easier.

I probably need to do some investigation. To replicate tastes from my days living in Belgium, and trips to Spain/France. To repeat a good cafe au lait / cafe con leche is one job.

At least I havve managed to copy the perfect mojito from the cuban bar I used to drink at in Brussels (they closed for a month in January to go home to Cuba, and August for a European holiday).

I had a cheap-ish espresso machine with milk frother years ago, but it was too difficult to get consistent results. And I decided that I'd prefer the money in my pocket and do without. Plus the limescale in the South kills them.

It is amazing how much you can get all trainspotter-y about food. And how far you can go, if you let yourself. My brother has started curing his own ham and bacon (and salmon). Next he wants to get into smoking. Then he'll be making sausages. That doesn't appeal to me. But I've already started making bread, and I want to do all my own cakes and biccies too. It's a question of experimenting and finding what's worth doing and what's too much trouble. I decided espresso was too much trouble. Perhaps I should try an air press though.

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