* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4046 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

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

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Price of oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re: Price of oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apple v Ericsson: Yet ANOTHER patent war bubbles over

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Re: Meh. Nothing to see here.

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

Charlie Clark,

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

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

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

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

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Re: Meh. Nothing to see here.

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

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

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

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Mushroom

Re: What?!

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

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

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Re: Nice angles

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

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

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Re: Why are they surprised

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

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

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PlayStation-processor-powered plutonium probe prepares Pluto pics

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Re: Line profile?

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

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

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Re: Yes.

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

I totally agree.

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

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

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

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Devil

Re: Visited the site, and

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

Ken Y-N,

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

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

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Re: Quantum Jump domain

Bless you!

Do you need a clean hanky?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re: How about

How about Brummie-expert.fox then?

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Re: Cry me a river

J.G.Harston,

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

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SpaceX drone hovership ROCKET LANDER BURN: Musk to try again

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Re: "floating barge"

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

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Re: "floating barge"

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

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

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Re: On the upside...

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

What about the quality of communications for dot.ninja?

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

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

Still, it's good to have high expectations.

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DAMN YOU! Microsoft blasts Google over zero-day blabgasm

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Re: Rules are rules

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

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

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Re: Rules are rules

I await the voting with interest...

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

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

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

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Re: Rules are rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Devil

Re: All that needs saying...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boybanders ONE DIRECTION launch DoS attack on open-source bods

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Re: Lordy...

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

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

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Happy

Re: Act Now!

This is, of course, impossible.

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Re: I nearly went to Kepler-1984 but....

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

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

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World's largest ship swallows 900 MEGATINS of baked beans

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Re: the equivalent of 14,500 London buses"

Just a quick correction:

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

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CES 2015: The good, the mad and the POINTLESS

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Happy

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

Well done! Keep up the good work!

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

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Dread Pirate Roberts suspect's defence holed below the waterline

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

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

Help! Please send hel...

...

...

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Sardine fishing in Kerala: Who benefits from mobile phones?

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Re: Ok, so...

Graham Marsden,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re: "Absolute" poverty

scrubber,

I'm struggling to understand your post. Are you talking about the $1 a day figure (actually I believe it's now $1.20) used to calculate the global poverty line? Because that figure isn't used in any advanced economy, so far as I'm aware.

I think the US use some weird number plucked out of the air in the 50s/60s and updated for inflation. Most of Europe seem to use a measure of relative poverty (60% of median income?). Although there have been various measure of absolute poverty used at least in the UK - you have to have enough income to be housed, decently fed, clothed, have TV/phone/fridge, and enough for a week's holiday somewhere cheap. That was the last one I remember hearing about and was done by the Rowntree Foundation, academics and the government. There's been quite a bit of debate in teh UK in recent years about what measure to use. It's kept the charities, think tanks, government and academics busy for a while. I've not read anything about it in at least a year, so I've no idea if they're close to reaching any conclusions.

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Re: "Absolute" poverty

scrubber,

measuring relative poverty rather than absolute is a political choice, not an economic definition. As Tim W says, economics has a definition for both, and there are times when different ones are the appropriate measure to use.

If I were feeling cyinical I might accuse lefties of trying to rig the debate in their favour by using a definition of poverty (relative) that allows them to call for redistribution of weatlh even if society were so rich that everybody owned a Porsche... But to be fair, absolute poverty is much harder to measure. For example, should you include for not being able to afford a short holiday in a definition of poverty? 70 years ago my Mum was relatively well off, Grandad was "skilled working class", but they didn't have a fridge. Now not having a fridge would definitely count as absolute poverty.

Twenty years ago not having a computer probably wasn't poverty, but now so much information, access to cheaper goods and government services are only availble online - that I'd argue that lack of internet and some kind of cheap PC/tablet/smartphone should count as absolute poverty. 20 years ago that might not have even been relative poverty...

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TheOtherHobbes,

No market is perfect. But some are better than others. In this case it's a case study of a market (with figures and everything, therefore not a "just so story"), which became more efficient when information flow was improved.

In this case more efficient meant that the prices fell to the end users, but the producers made more profits at the same time. This was achieved mostly through cutting out waste - i.e. not delivering fish to markets (oops that word again) ports that already had all the fish everyone wanted. So instead of fish rotting on the quayside, it got eaten. Everyone was a winner, although the middlemen probably lost a bit of profit.

No market is perfect. But you have to start modeling from somewhere. The idea that you can have a market where everyone has the same information at the same time, all consumers and producers are perfectly rational and there are no distortions is obviously impossible. Many producers don't even know their own costs fully, let alone consumers knowing exactly what they need/want. How do you balance the utility between a £1 ice cream or a can of pop and some crisps costing the same anyway? Not even the most fundamentalist libertarian could believe otherwise, so to try and say that markets aren't perfect therefore "capitalism booo!", is just a straw-man argument.

This is some evidence to say that improving the efficiency of a market benefited almost everyone - and grew the size of the economy by a decent fraction. A good outcome for everyone. With extra side-benefits, because the extra profits paid for the phones, less fish were wasted (good for the environment), and people now had phones to talk to their friends/family or deal with emergencies. Now people living in coastal areas can get tsunami and typhoon warnings by text for example.

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Hubble 'scope snaps ENORMO SPACE ERECTION: Pillars of Creation 20 years on

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Happy

I hope they now point the telescope at it more frequently. We might learn more, and/or get prettier piccies. Or it'll turn out to be like one of those cartoon flickbooks. It's basically the universe repeatedly giving us the finger...

Or perhaps it's aliens with mind-bogglingly powerful ships doing likewise. Any species in the universe sufficiently advanced in stellar-manipulation to be able to create a V-sign nebula gets a visit from the ROU You Want Some Then, looking for a fight.

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Elite: Dangerous 'billionaire' gamers are being 'antisocial', moan players

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Forums are always a problem like that. Although you have to remmeber that not all players go on the forums. I used to be a Mod for a game with a million users globally. There were 15,000 in the UK. And yet the forums for the UK only had about 200 regular posters, and maybe a couple of hundred more might make one or two posts to ask questions. Probably less than 10-20% of the userbase ever even read the forums, much harder to count the lurkers.

So even if only 5% of the forum posters are complaining about a problem, that doesn't necessarily mean that there's a only a few hundred loudmouths with problems, it could be that there's thousands (tens of thousands) having the same problems, but only a few of them are posting.

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Re: Aarrr!

nematoad,

I agree. I much prefer CCP's response to exploits. You knew it was an exploit when you did it. Sure you might not the first time, but after you've rinsed+repeated for the 100th time to make you that billion you certainly did. So tough luck, you lose the lot. That is the fairest response. And the system ought to have logs that can allow them to check up on this sort of stuff - so there's no excuse. All you're effectively doing is database work.

If on the other hand you do something nasty through sneakiness and duplicity... Well it's a tough old universe out there. Well done you!

EVE could be frustrating at times. But I had lots of fun, spoke to some really nice people - and there's no other game where I've had such an adrenaline rush during a battle that I was sitting at my computer with my hand shaking for a couple of minutes afterwards. You'd analyse a battle with your mates, and so much had happened it seemed to have lasted half an hour, then look at the logs to see it was only 90 seconds. Great game, but could be an absolute time-sink, if you wanted to be any good.

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SpaceX: CATS with FRIKKIN' LASERS to blast off to space station

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They don't want to drop it in all that horrible corrosive salt water. Or come to think of it, bang it into that nasty water, it doesn't compress so it's surprisingly hard and the top keeps on wobbling about. It's also expensive to have recovery fleets to pick stuff up.

SpaceX is all about re-usability and low cost. The Dragon capsule can land on land. I don't think the current one is reusable though, as they're still playing with the reusable engines for the man-rated capsule. That will land on land, and will be re-usable. Those engines also are supposed to be able to fire up quickly, so the capsule doesn't need an escape tower to whisk the astronauts off in case of a pad explosion. And they're supposed to be re-usable for wandering around space, and for the de-orbit burn, and to land the capsule on the Moon and get it back off again. Although I'd imagine there'll be a few trips to the ISS and re-designs before they try that.

So I guess the same goes for the rocket. They've already tested the landing stuff with their Grasshopper test rocket. So as you might struggle to slow an unweildy rocket from hypersonic speed with parachutes without bending it, or causing it to tumble - and it's got rocket motors anyway, why not use those. And seeing as they've solved the problem of landing a rocket, why not do that too. Particuarly as if you use a parachute you might bend the thing when it hits the ground too. At which point it costs so much to re-furbish it before re-use that you may as well not bother. Like the Shuttle solid rocket boosters. You need re-usable engines in order to re-use the rocket, so none of this should be an extra problem - and parachutes are probably not much ligther than the extra fuel needed anyway.

The landing is in water now, so if they screw up and crash the rocket, it won't land on anyone's head. Eventually the plan will be to take of from Canaveral, and land right back there ready for servicing and re-use. I'd imagine they've got to hit the barge a few times before the FAA will certify them.

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Happy

Re: > make the descent while SpaceX's landing barge gets into position

I'm wondering what odds the poor little barge has got. If the rocket has a 50/50 chance of successfully landing, that is quite a big chance of missing the target altogether, added to another chance of hitting the target and going KA-BOOM! Is the barge KA-BOOM-proof?

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Google casts about for wireless audio

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Re: "Apple, notably, isn’t doing similar things".

Colin Wilson 2,

Oh sorry, you're right. AirPlay is for sending to Apple TV and the like.

I was thinking of whatever funny name Apple were giving to their version of bluetooth with decent sound quality for music. Back in the days when iPhones only seemed to do bluetooth for headsets, and wouldn't pair with ordinary speakers. Maybe that was AirPlay - and my memory is playing tricks on me?

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Re: "Apple, notably, isn’t doing similar things".

AirPlay uses bluetooth, and so is much less complicated/capable. And a lot of speakers only allow you to pair one device with them at a time, so you can't have several people at a party play their music.

Also you have to pair and unpair with different devices, so it's not so easy to move between rooms.

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Re: Concept OK, Execution Weak

I don't seem to have the big delays you are mentioning

Interesting. My internet connection quality seems to have dipped of late. I'm still getting the data, but sometimes stuff is launching slower. I suspect it may be the upload speed - and now every webpage you load seems to require 17 different links to advertising servers, 12 videos, 10 images (and a partridge in a pear tree) - so many requests for the browsers to send. So it could be that it's that. I'm considering going to BT Inifinity (only just available).

However, even a small delay is significant in listening to music, where the track duration is short. Not a problem if it's easy to build a playlist, but that's harder if you've got more than one device talking to your Chromecast, and often people wait til the end of the track then want to pick theirs.

I could set up the PC as a server, but then it's got to be permanently turned on. I suppose a NAS box might be the answer. As well as being able to deal with backups.

Amazon have surprised me though. I thought they wanted to be a content provider, and did hardware in order to sell more content. If they want to turn profits on their hardware, and become a walled garden like Apple, they need to make their hardware a lot more attractive.

You'd have thought the failure of the Fire phone might persuade them that this hardware malarkey is difficult, and the profit is in continuing to do what they do best. And keep the hardware cheap and cheerful, like the Fire tablets have been. Those also wouldn't have sold at premium prices, as they just weren't good enough.

I'm still a paper books and CDs man. And up til very recently a fan of Amazon. But I've already mostly stopped buying DVDs, as streaming got so much cheaper. CDs seem to be going up on Amazon, but I still want decent quality, uncompressed audio. And Amazon seemed the sensible place to start looking to buy ebooks. After my experience with Amazon Prime video, I now have serious doubts. And I've put a lot of money their way over the last ten years.

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Re: Concept OK, Execution Weak

I'd love to know why my downvoter did so, as if I've got something factually wrong, then there's an easy way round a couple of problems I've had with Chromecast and it would be nice to know it. Plus it's much nicer to have a discussion than to try to guess what people think from counting votes...

I've thought of another problem with Chromecast that I intended to mention. Well actually it's a problem of corporate egos clashing, rather than technical. Amazon gave me a free month of Prime when ordering my presents. Which I took, thinking I could also watch some online stuff over the holidays, and decide whether they were worth an anual subscription. Turns out they're incompatible with Google. Not only have they not got a Chromecast button on their iPad app, but they seem to have taken deliberate steps to stop me from Chromecasting even when I fired up the PC and tried to view the video in the Chrome browser. Which worked perfectly fine as a workaround before the NFL updated their app to allow for Chromecast.

It's odd, as Amazon made a lot of effort to make Kindle a cross-platform way to buy books, and read them on most major platforms. But if they've fallen out with Google, then that might mean that there's no way to use Amazon's Cloud Player with Google's music cast.

Which isn't going to do what Amazon hope and make me buy one of their bits of kit to use their servvices. It's a message to me that their services aren't to be trusted, if they're going to refuse to play nicely with other peoples' hardware. So my recent thought of dipping my toes into ebooks is gone, and because CD's seem to be getting dearer, I've been thinking of starting to buy music online - but I now won't be doing that business with Amazon.

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Re: Concept OK, Execution Weak

I have a Chromecast and it's great for certain things. As described above. So I'd guess the audio-equivalent would be too. The downside is that it's much harder to point it at content that I own - so I'd find it much more hassle to set things up to play the music on my tablet. Now if I subscribed to an online streaming service, or had my stuff stored in the cloud, that would be fine. It does seem a hell of a waste of still scarce network resources though for people to upload stuff from their home to server farms somewhere, then bring it all back via their broadband every single time they want to use it. Also I currently have a data limit on my broadband which has saved me a few quid a month for the last few years.

The other doewnside of the Chromecast system is that it's bloody slow. You tell your device to move within a video and it takes absolutely ages for the Chromecast to get that message and do the same move within it's own videostream, and because there's no proper feedback between the two devices you try to move a few seconds on the progress bar and find you've moved by half an hour. Even pressing pause takes a good long time to do anything. That's going to be even more annoying with music. No one cares about a 30 second gap between a couple of TV episodes. But if you get that every time you change 3 minute pop songs, it's a bit more of an embuggerance.

I've found it a great, cheap, way to get BBC iPlayer content on my TV plus the odd American footie game, or YouTube video. If I did much of this though, I'd want to spend more money, and have something that's a bit more polished.

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UKIP website TAKES A KIP, but for why?

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Re: Hey 123-reg

streaky,

You can look up the renewal date of any domain, it says it on the WHOIS record. So 123-Reg confirming that ought to be perfectly fine.

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Devil

They employ them, it's just that they're in the pub...

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Re: It was all a ruse

Surely Chris Morris is responsible for the state of modern news broadcasting. He can't be the template for politics too can he? That's just too scary.

If I start seeing attacks by suicide crows, then we'll know that even the jihadis are taking his satire and using it as training material... It all gives me a pain in my shatner's basoon.

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THREE MILLION Moonpig accounts exposed by flaw

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Facepalm

We're only doing what we said we would.

Why complain? It's all in our name.

Our business model is to drop our trousers and display our naked arse to the entire internet...

[cue: music] Moon Pig dot com

Our policy to ignore everything and stick our fingers in our ears going oink oink oink la la la is just a bit of extra bare-arsed cheek.

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Norks SCOLD Prez Obama over Sony mega hack payback sanctions

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Mad Chaz,

You do realise the US already has heavy sanctions on North Korea, and just added a few more to make the point. It's had those sanctions for ages, has stationed it's own troops in the South for the last 65 years in order to protect them from Northern invasion, and has spent the last umpty years alternating between negotiations with the regime to reduce tensions while reducing sanctions a tad, and then raising them back again after the inevitable DPRK breaking of whatever deal was signed, and letting them stew in their own juices for a bit before inviting them back to the table. Short of a horrifically costly invasion and regime change, there's not a lot of other choices.

In this case I can see very little to criticise the US for. But don't let that interfere with your knee-jerk anti-American rant...

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