* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4333 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

El Reg assembles mighty Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse

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Re: Free meat!

Hmm. There's some poor spelling in there. That is the raisin d'etre for spellcheckers...

I've not even done the week of near-starvation yet, so I can only put it down to the fact that I've started eating salad now the sun's come out. Perhaps I should go back to bacon, to get my strength up?

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Re: Free meat!

What was the trick from 'Danny Champion of the World'? It was something about soaking raisons and then putting a thread through them or something I think. It's a very long time since I read it.

However, I'd have to be very hungry indeed to fancy tackling the London pigeon. Much better to cut out the middle-man, and run in cirlces in Trafalgar Square and try to catch the bread that the tourists throw to them.

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Re: Damn...

This is where I'm glad that I have my tea black. So no faffing with milk required. I was considering muesli for breakfast, but I put quite a bit of expensive (for the challenge) dried fruit into mine - so I decided to go with toast instead. I don't normally eat brekkie, but maybe this challenge will make me hungrier, so I'm budgeting for it.

It's a good point about the farm shop, perhaps I'll go there in search of spuds. As they're just a bit too expensive otherwise. My brother got some squirrel from them a while back, so I guess I could even score some cheap meat. His wife deemed it too cute to eat, so he wasn't allowed it again...

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Google guru: Android doesn't have malware, it has Potentially Harmful Applications™ instead

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Re: Delusional

I think Google really are Microsoft, circa late 1990s. They've got the same lax attitudes to security, although much less excuse given how the last 20 years of computer history. And they've got the same arrogance, as the money rolls in and it looks like there's endless growth over the horizon still to do. Plus they've got the same attitude to leveraging their monopolies into growth in other areas - and seemingly (from their dealings with the EU) the same contempt for government regulation.

There's also the new factor of the vast quantities of data they hoover up, and how public and regulatory attitudes are evolving towards it.

But the big question that's yet to be answered is this. Do they have the same attitude to writing everything down that MS had? IBM fought off the anti-trust charges for years/decades. I guess you're less likely to put things in witing in paper memos, than to dash off an email. Whereas MS's email archives were a smoking gun, that meant they went down in the matter of a few years. The lawyers couldn't save them. I wonder if Google have learned from that? Or if they don't see themselvesa as doing anything wrong, so write stuff down anyway?

It'll be interesting to see their future. MS are a mostly reformed company now (or their monopoly gives them less power anyway). But their reputation is nowhere near recovering from the twin damage of the PC security nightmare of early XP and looking rapacious and evil. Vista didn't exactly help...

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Nork hackers no pantomime villains, but a hugely unpredictable menace

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Devil

So, that leads to the next important question to which enquiring minds need to know the answer:

How many porn videos are there which feature cats?

I'm assuming that most viewers of cat videos are human, rather than cat, so we can classify purely cat porn in the category of 'cat videos' - given that there will only be a very small number of either humans (or cats) online who'll be interested in that as porn...

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I'm not sure companies should really care about rogue states using cyberwarfare teams. At least not specifically. Because I doubt that North Korea poses that much more a of a threat to any company that any other random group of cyber criminals out for profit. I suppose there's more risk of horrible publicity, making you look really stupid, which is something criminals may not bother to do.

But the problem is that companies seem to be spending far too little time on securing their networks and information, given how quickly the threat is evolving. And how smart some of the "ordinary" cyber criminals have shown themelves to be.

So a random company just needs to worry about being as secure as it can be, and multi-layered security, so that access to some things doesn't automatically mean getting hold of everything. Only people at specific threat would need to worry about the state-sponsored attacks, and should hopefully be able to call on resources from their governments.

The problem is that cyber attack is so much easier than cyber defence. I do worry that our intelligence agencies may have been too excited by the shinies on offer, and so committed too much of their resources to attack tools. And not enough has gone into protection of our own networks and economies. But then, maybe that should be a different arm of government? Perhaps we should look at regulation in this area. Systemically important banks now have to undergo annual stress-tests, to see how they'd respond to another 2008-style crisis. Perhaps we should be making our large corporations, relevant government departments and particularly national infrastructure companies do something similar? So GCHQ could penetration test them - and see what bits of their networks and information are easily accessible and easily disruptable. And they should be tested on how they could respond to this, along with how they could recover from attacks that were designed to cause harm, rather than just steal stuff.

I know a lot of this already goes on. But not enough, I'm sure. And I bet it's mostly the companies like BT, who've already got strong connections with government. I wonder how much banking has been tested, given the creaking state some of their IT is in?

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Nokia will be the mobile comeback kid in 2016 – wishful-thinking sources

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The only problem is that they were getting slaughtered in developing markets too weren't they? Having surprised everyone by how long they could keep their production costs as low as the Chinese competition, they were finally losing that battle. Having already lost at the top end. Given how cheaply reasonable Android phones can now be produced, I can't believe there's much market space for feature phones.

Also, having sold the farm to MS, they've presumably lost all their distribution networks and expertise. Which was another thing they were great at for ages. That seems like an awful lot to try and build back from scratch.

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Don't shoot the Messenger: NASA's suicide probe to punch hole in Mercury

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Re: Not too sure about the crater.

I think "landing" is a rather optimistic choice of word.

I know there's the saying "any landing you walk away from is a good landing, if they can use the plane again it's a bonus" - but this is ridiculous...

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You racist bastard. They're called Mercurians. Just because their skins are green, that should in no way define them as people.

Actually I guess it's speciesist isn't it? I wonder what Dan Dare would say...

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RADIOACTIVE WWII aircraft carrier FOUND OFF CALIFORNIA

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Re: As Lady Bracknell never quite said...

I remember reading about a Japanese railway engineer. He was working at Hiroshima when it got nuked. As he wasn't feeling too well (for some reason), and as he was already at the railway, he was evacuated to hospital, to be treated for his burns. Unfortunately he was evacuated to a nice safe hospital in Nagasaki, where a few days later...

Turns out there were a handful of people who ended up in the same situation for various reasons, and managed to be unlucky enough to get nuked twice and survive both.

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I imagine they left a few planes tied down on deck to see what effect the nuclear blast had on a carrier with planes on deck. So they weren't flyable after that. Would you want to test them? So it's possible they just left them there the whole time.

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Google drives a tenth of news traffic? That's bull-doodie, to use the technical term

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It's interesting that you talk about Germany. Because it's arguable that Google's fight with news organisations in Germany is what lead to this whole Commission reappraisal of the case in the first place.

Juncker was looking unlikely to be EU Commission President. No-one has ever been given the job before, if one of the large countries has objected. Actually I think every country has had a de facto veto on the Commission President. And it was only because of a power grab by the European Parliament, with their Spitzenkandidaten wheeze, that Juncker even got seriously into the running.

Even then, because Cameron didn't want him, and Merkel didn't really either, he wouldn't have got the job. Then the German press suddenly got on the case, and campaigned for him, that it was a disgrace that Merkel was over-ruling the EP's agreed scheme - that the candidate picked by the biggest party in the Euro elections should get the top job. Merkel I guess wasn't that committed eitherh way, and decided not to waste political capital on the issue, so broke her deal with Cameron and he got the job.

What's interesting is that his campaign manager had just had a meeting with Axel Springer after the elections, and then their papers ran the big campaign in Germany that got Merkel to change her mind. And Axel Springer have been fighting Google in the courts for years over news aggregation, and other things.

Plus privacy and control of personal information have been a top political issue in Germany for years. It was a big thing when I worked for a US multi-national, and we wanted to hold our employee data on our central servers in the US, but weren't legally allowed to with the German stuff. Although I have a feeling they eventually decided to just do it anyway, and pay the fine if they ever got caught... But I suspect the German staff would have ratted them out if they were ever so foolish.

So the new commission may well have been going to go after Google anyway. And that may have persuaded Axel Springer to support them. Or this may be a pay-off for a large political favour. Or just co-incidence, as the last Commission had failed to get a satisfactory resolution with Google, and so further action was inevitable.

In my opinion this has been coming for a long time. Google are way too big for their boots. They've been getting more-and-more arrogant for the last decade, and they've been obviously heading for a Microsoft monent for ages. They don't seem to have learn from MS. The damage done to their reputation by poor security and monopoly abuse is still ongoing and huge. Despite them having actually been quite good for the last nearly 10 years (in that they're now way better on security, and also much better on standards compliance). Obviously many people still regard Metro as evil, but that's not illegal-evil...

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Re: Lack of feasible competition

Google aren't being threatened with a wrist-slapping (or worse) for their search monopoly. They're allowed to operate a monopoly, which they won fair-and-square.

What they're being accused of (in various markets) is leveraging that search monopoly to win there as well. As Microsoft were allowed their Windows monopoly, but weren't supposed to use it to win the search engine wars. Or the office wars. In both cases they used un-documented hooks in the operating system, and with IE they installed it for free on new systems.

So Google are being accused of using their top-notch general search engine to push for dominance in specialist search, by downgrading the results of other companies. Hence pushing their own shopping search results (admitted by their own testers to be inferior apparently), above other companies'. The same accusation is made with maps and whatever Google call their user reviews service nowadays (over Yelp and TripAdviser).

Now in some cases you may say that Google's is better, so why worry. But then that's because you might not have seen the alternative, as Google weren't linking to them, and those alternative companies never got a chance to access the market, because Google have a monopoly on search, and blocked them.

Europe also seem to be looking at Android now. Where they may be arguing that Google has abused its monopoly in online advertising/search to offer Android for free, and destroy competition from other players. That looks a lot less cut and dried.

As does news. Google have an uncomfortable amount of power in the news market, but don't actually compete in it, at least in some ways. On the other hand, if they can hoover up the lion's share (or even a big chunk) of the advertising revenue using their search dominance, it could be argued they're also abusing their monopoly. Even if not, it's a concern. As Google produce no news content themselves, and the content providers are already cash-strapped. The less money gets paid to news gathering organisations, the less quality news we'll get, and the less well our democracies will work. So this is a politically significant issue, as well as a legal/business one.

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DRONE ALONE: US Navy secretary gives up on manned fighters

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Re: All will be well then...

John Brown (with or without body),

To be fair to the Navy, automating large ships is a rather different proposition. With an aircraft, dropping the pilot might well save you a significant cost of the actual aircraft (as it doesn't require all the survival systems to keep him alive). It can also become better at its job, by being a different shape for stealth, pulling much more g force, or replacing the weight of pilot and cockpit with more fuel or weapons. Even then we're talking capital cost of the aircraft in the tens of millions.

Ships come in the hundreds of millions to billions. Their shape is decided by hydrodynamics, the speeds they wish to achieve, and how much crap they need to carry. They could certainly do without quite a lot of their crews (I would imagine weapons systems will become more and more automated as systems like AEGIS are), but they require damage conrol crews. Seeing as you need a decent number of people to still fight the ship while others are repairing it, you then end up with larger crew sizes. Whereas damage control in aircraft is something we'll have to wait for R2D2 for.

Things like missiles take up a lot of space, as does fuel. And to get a high speed and carry all that crap, you end up having to build a long thin ship anyway, to hold the engines and get the speed. So the crew are less of a burden to a system that already needs to be a decent size.

I guess there'll be a balance of increasing automation and maintaining spare crew for emergencies. For example the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers use smaller crews than the old Invincible class, which were under half the size. The new American Ford class ones are going to operate on hundreds fewer crew as well.

Also ships will often need things like landing parties, and boarding parties. They go on diplomatic visits and do disaster rescue work. What ships do is too varied. And I suspect a lot of stuff isn't automated because you need some crew around to fix it when it breaks (or gets shot), so you may as well keep the buggers busy. Finally a drone plane is only going flying for a day or two. Ships deploy for months.

It ought to make sense to have smaller drone-ships, in the few hundred tonne class of missile corvettes though, that could operate to support a larger fleet, and be maintained by them (as well as acting as their protective pickets).

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Re: "The US Navy has already used 3D printers on board ships to create working aircraft."

Does the USS Essex have a green strip painted on it somewhere, that says "Wayne 4 Sharon"? And possibly a giant set of fluffy dice?

The crew mess would be called Ritzies, and the officers mess (being posh) would be China Whites...

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Re: All will be well then...

What was that old game? Clickety-clickety-searchey... Oh yes, Carrier Command. Had great fun with that. They built 2 autonomous self-repairing, island colonising carriers, and then one was taken over by terrorists. The better one of course.

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El Reg Summer Lectures Span Dark Net, Rare Earths, and Vintage Tech

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Re: Give us streaming video

I don't think they'll live stream it, but if you look around on the site, they've got videos up for the 3 they did before Christmas. So I suspect they'll do a bit of judicious editing and then put them online a week or two later.

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But, but, but!

No pork pies? NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

The positive piles of porky perfection at the pre-Christmas performances were preposterously preponderent, yet piquant and pre-eminently palatable.

Admittedly it would be better for my waistline though. They were far too tempting.

I think I'll manage to pop along to one of them. Now it's just a question of deciding which. Or maybe more than one?

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Boost your attachment size with this one weird trick

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Re: This article's title triggered...

Well I stuck my (extra large naturally) attachment into our Exchange server, as you suggested. And now I have lacerations, major burns and pustulating blisters.

Where's my compensation?

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What's Meg Whitman fussing over: The fate of HP ... or the font on a DISRUPTIVE new logo?

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Re: "That connection is symbolic of the partnership we will forge..."

Crazy Operations Guy,

We'll know all about how they got foisted with the logo in a couple of years time, when they go the FBI and Serious Fraud Office, plus sue the people who sold it to them, and their auditors for allowing them to sign up for it...

Either that or it is a cousin with 17 fingers and no teeth or job prospects that's done it. And that person has now taken the paycheck home, and given a single downvote to every comment on this thread that's rude about the design or HP...

P.S. Dear El Reg,

Booooooo! Where's the Strategy Boutique or the mention of whalesong and joss sticks on this article?

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Life after Nokia: Microsoft Lumia 640 budget WinPho blower

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Re: I don't get it

Well that's a bloody waste! And the only differentiation they had over the rest of the market, given you can get Office for all platforms.

I assume they're going for cheap business phones now, which fits with their big share of the business software market. But it seems a shame not to use that camera tech to get somewhere with consumers as well. They've obviously done well in the low end "first smartphone" market, but when some of those customers decide they want their next phone to have extra bells and whistles, there's not much up the range at say £300 for them to look at.

i don't believe that I'm alone in thinking the iPhones and Galaxy 6's of this world are way over-priced. I'm willing to give someone £250 for someothing really nice - and may go for that on the previous generation of Galaxy Note. Otherwise I'm having something competent for £100, which is not that much worse than the £500 jobs, let alone the mid-priced ones. I admit I'm after a phone with decent email and only light web use, with only travel and utility apps. The tablet is for fun, the phone is a tool. But I would pay for something almost as good as a compact camera.

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I don't get it

I can understand why Microsoft concentrated on bottom-end phones. There was a gap in the market, that Android didn't serve very well. And the Lumia phones are very good, even though the cheap 'Droids are also now much improved.

I can also understand avoiding too much effort fighting at the £500 flagship bit of the market. Where Apple dominate, and Samsung and HTC are very good.

But why not use the shiny camera tech they bought from Nokia more?

My next phone will probably cost around £100 - £150. Because you get something very good for that money, and I think the extra £400 on something top of the range is wasted. However a really good camera could persuade me to change my mind. They don't seem to have done much with it for a year now.

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Easy ... easy ... Aw CRAP! SpaceX rocket ALMOST lands on ocean hoverbase

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Re: Meh

Camilla Smyth,

I'm not a rocket scientist, but is the rocket even strong enough to land upside down? Remember that these things are made strong enough to surive what they do, and any extra gubbins that's fitted to make landing possible is going to compromise their ability to do their primary job.

Now everything is a compromise in engineering. That's why SpaceX use kerosene, because it's so much cheaper than mucking around with liquid hydrogen, or all those horribly corrosive chemicals. Even though it loses them power.

However there's no point in trying to hang your rocket from a wire, if that means making the thing significantly heavier.

So they'll try the landing thing first. If they can get 100% accuracy at hitting (or nearly hitting) the barge, then I'm sure they will then be allowed to attempt desert landings - which don't suffer the marine problems of bad weather and bouncing up and down.

I would imagine, though I haven't run the numbers, that it's cheaper to make the rockets worse at landing and have them regularly fall over and explode. Whereas making them better at landing costs more payload capacity - and therefore makes them worse at their primary job.

As no-one else can yet re-use their rockets, there's much less pressure on SpaceX to get this right. Whereas other people can do manned launches, and put up satellites, so that's where SpaceX should be concentrating their R&D.

After all, once they've beaten the problem of landing the things, assuming they can, they've then got to deal with actually re-using them. They've got to work out the safety margins for wear-and-tear, re-engineer stuff that isn't lasting, or decide to just replace some components after every launch. I don't believe that NASA saved much money on the Shuttle engines, as they had to be pretty much re-built after each use. At which point, SpaceX would probably be better spending R&D cash on cutting the cost of engine manufacturing (and throwing them away) - as you'll struggle to cut the labour costs much on a total rocket engine rebuild.

What they're doing now has potential, and probably shouldn't be dimissed as a failure until they've got a couple of years experience at it.

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Re: Meh

Having looked at the video it looks like a big issue is having the thing standing on its end being supported by the main engines at the bottom

Camilla Smyth,

True. But it can be done. See linky here to Grasshopper

I'm not sure how your launch escape system example helps though. They don't land on the rocket power (that's used to get them to sufficient altitude to deploy parachutes), and they're designed that way because there's a bloody great rocket under the capsule, so the launch escape system has to be bolted onto the top. As I understand it you get different control issues when you attempt to have the centre of mass below the rockets - although with modern computer autopilots I suspect it's perfectly possible to correct for either. But rockets going up, and grasshoppers managing to land again, both suggest that SpaceX aren't doing anything inherently silly. They just have to get it to work. And I'd guess it's a lower priority, as they're not paying for special launches just for testing, but only doing it with left over rockets on other missions, which were going to be destroyed anyway.

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Re: Meh

Camilla Smyth,

I presume you're trolling with your hook, in which case I congratulate you for your bumper catch.

It looks rather a lot harder to land a rocket on a hook with horribly precise manoeuvring required at the last minute - than to deploy some legs and bang the thing down on the ground. Particularly as they're not even allowed to attempt this on land, until they've got some over-water successes on their hands first - and a hook on a tall stick on a barge is going to be a much worse moving target than the barge itself.

The rocket is too heavy to be hooked by a passing helicopter or plane - and as I understand it putting wings on the rocket large enough for gliding also doesn't work.

SpaceX have proved the rockets landing thing though, with their Grasshopper testbed. So we know this is possible. They've also proved the other unknown, which is the slowing down from launch speed - and getting from the upper atmosphere to low level in controlled flight, without breaking up due to g forces. I don't know if they've tested landing on the barge though. But otherwise they've done all the separate bits, it's now just a question of bringing it all together.

The top priority has to be getting the dinner to the ISS, without blowing it up. That's what their reputation, and NASA funding, relies on. And they've got to avoid getting complacent and screwing that up. Meanwhile they've got an almost free test vehicle to keep tinkering with, each time they send a disposable rocket to the ISS - plus they've got all the R&D to do on their new Dragon2 manned capsule.

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Why not a big tank of wobbly, shock-absorbing, vodka jelly? Cushions the landing, and gives the maintenance crew something to celebrate with afterwards.

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Mushroom

Re: Meh

Camilla Smyth,

Rocket go KABOOM! People of Florida sad. People of Florida even sadder, if rocket go oopsie missy landing pad, and go crash-bang-boom on their house.

Then survivors hire lawyers. Or just get into pickups with rifle racks. And they hunt SpaceX and NASA and FAA, who allowed it. And so FAA say SpaceX have to go play whoosh-KABOOM far far out to sea...

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In some ways, dating apps are the anti-internet

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Re: My experience

I've not done the online dating thing, but I had a long nose around one of the sites a few weeks ago. And what I noticed was how short people's profiles were. How little information there was to them. Even the ones who'd bothered to write about themselves, didn't seem to have given any indication of the kind of partner they were after. So they can't really complain if they get bombarded with requests from everyone, given they haven't indicated what they don't want (along with what they do).

In those cases they may as well just put up a photo, and people can do like they do on that phone app whose name I can't remember, where you swipe away the pictures you don't fancy, and keep the ones you do.

I did notice quite a few of the women had put effectively "no timewasters please" on their profiles. But most of them didn't seem to have said much about themselves, or what they were after, so I don't know where they were expecting Mr Right to get the inspiration for his perfect message to them from...

They were effectively saying, "Dance monkey boy! Dance!" Along with, "P.S. - don't show me your penis pictures."

That was a site that didn't make you log in, or post your own profile, so maybe the others are a bit better at forcing information out of people.

From what I've read about it, online dating doesn't seem to be that nice a process to go through. Even the people who've had success from it often complain about how awful some aspects were. So the industry probably need to make a serious effort to improve their services, or someone will come along and steal their revenue. Or social change will happen, and people will abandon them as a bad idea, and try something else.

Perhaps the Supermarkets could try and take over? They're desperate for new revenue sources? Or the banks? They've got these networks of unused branches to find a use for. How's "Find Love with Lloyds" grab you? Or "get a bonk with Barclays"? The mis-selling scandal and compensation 5 years down the line would certainly be interesting...

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The other problem is that not everyone on a dating app may be looking for a date. Or even to get jiggy with anyone...

Some of them may be 15 year olds who want to send pictures of penises to women they've never met because they're 15 and penise emails are apparently funny. Actually that also seems to apply to some 60 year old married men...

They can't be trained not to do it so easily, as for them the reaction is what they're after. Even if they don't ever get to see it. I struggle to understand their motives to be honest, and that also makes it harder to stop. I guess these can be lumped in with other trolls, it's just that Eadon never showed us a picture of his willy (or even Steve Ballmer's willy) thankfully.

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Dwarf planet Ceres has TEN bright spots, astroboffins say

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Happy

They're the Clanger's dustbin lids of course. Much shinier than the rock around them. When Dawn gets in closer, the microphones will be able to pick up the talking and echoing noises.

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Conservative manifesto: 5G, 'near universal' broadband and free mobes for PC Dixon

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Re: Some political minds might be concentrated if...

Well if they don't make promises they get criticised for being vague. Witness the times politicians are attacked for only setting aims, and why aren't they targets or promises... And if they do, they get criticised for not meeting them.

Oddly enough you don't get a magical ability to predict the future when you enter politics. And your budget and ability to do stuff are contstrained by the global and national economies, and what you can influence/force/pursuade people to do.

With elections often being 4 or 5 years apart and manifestos tending to be planned a year or two before elections, circumstances can change in other ways too.

In the case of coalition governments, things get even harder, as you don't even get to attempt to implement everything in your manifesto.

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Facepalm

Re: Some political minds might be concentrated if...

Are you willing to fund the parties to have sufficient academics, accountants administrators and economists on hand to fully cost every policy?

Plus the crystal ball required to predict movements of the economy over the next 5 years - given that this is currently impossible...

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Re: What about...

To be fair, they've actually started work on doing that already. Even if quite a lot of people have criticised the method they suggested for doing so.

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Labour manifesto: Tech Bacc, not-spot zapping and hi-speed interwebs

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Re: Blessed are the believers...

I'm not sure it's the schools that matter most. Although obviously they help in getting to the best universities.

But it's the ability to do a couple of years work as a party researcher in Central London on no salary. And/or having the money to not work for a year or two while searching for a seat, and then campaigning for that seat at the election. Of course it's an advantage to have done that unpaid party-worker time in getting the seat. So the ability to live for 4 or 5 years on zero income - which tends to mean rich parents or family money.

Add to this that the electorate seem to prefer younger top politicians (or so is the perception) - it's much harder to have a previous career, and still have a chance at high political leadership.

The only solution I can see is proper party funding. In the grand scheme of things it's bugger all, but I would say each major party should have enough to employ a few economists, fund some academic studies, fund a decent central office research/policy staff and the like. So something like each MP getting a personal staff of 5 or 6, instead of the current 2 ish, and all the bigger parties getting a couple of million to do policy and research work.

The public say they don't like professional politicians. But they also don't like politicians who have ouside earnings, so I don't see how you can solve that particular problem. But I guess we could have minimum age limits for MPs and ministers if we wanted to, but we'd obviously then not have such shiny, smiley politicians. Not a bad thing in my opinion, but then people might start complaing that they're all too old, and so out of touch.

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Bloke hits armadillo AND mother-in-law with single 9mm round

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Re: It is the round, silly!

As to why you kill them...

They carry disease, dig up your garden, eat your food, spread garbage around, and dig mom's flowers... and OMG the SMELL!

That's all very well. But it's no excuse, and I'm afraid it's still illegal to shoot your mother-in-law...

[Les Dawson mode disengaged]

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HOT HOVERSHIP-ON-HOVERSHIP ACTION: SpaceX ready for barge boing

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Re: SpaceX is seriously cool

Isn't it already effectively man-ready but it's just that it has to be "proven" with multiple un-manned successful uses first?

John Brown (no body),

No. The SpaceX Dragon capsule isn't man rated. And I don't think it ever could be. It's just designed to get the dinner up to the ISS. Only half the capsule is even pressurised and heated.

The one they showed at the end of last year is the Dragon 2. Perhpas they should have called it Double Dragon...

Anyway there are several things that you need to do to get man-rating. You need extra redundencies built in. I believe the Falcon rocket (and ESA's Arianne) meet the requirements, not sure if either have bothered with the paperwork yet. You also need a history of successful launches, which Falcon has obviously done pretty well at building.

Next you need an escape tower, to get the capsule away from the launchpad in case of a pad fire. SpaceX aren't proposing to have one of these. As the Dragon2 will have fast-start multi-use engines for driving around in space and for landing, they propose to use those instead. So that will save a bit of cash, and should be no less safe.

Obviously they'll have to build the Dragon2 and do some test orbits, to prove it's safe. And then get it man-rated. And then prove it can safely dock with the ISS. And then prove that it can survive in orbit for a decent length of time (I think 6 months is what Soyuz is rated for), as the ISS team who use it to get up there keep it as a lifeboat (and to go home in).

The Dragon2 is also supposed to be re-usable, and lands on engine power on land, rather than parachuting into the water. And it's also designed to be able to land on the Moon or Mars. If it all works as planned, it'll be a very capable space exploration workhorse. Elon Musk does not lack ambition. But then he also seems to keep meeting the engineering tests he sets himself. It's deeply impressive.

In 5-10 years time he's looking to have his own space base in Texas, the Falcon 9 re-usable booster to get to the ISS and launch satellites, plus the Falcon Heavy, which will be almost as big as a Saturn V - and so could launch flights to the Moon - or new ISS or Mars-ship modules. Falcon Heavy will be made up of several Falcon 9s, and will almost all be able to land back at Texas after launch to be reused. Except the ones that go further, which he plans to land on his barges (and also re-use. Plus he'll have a re-usable man-rated capsule that can land at Texas too, and so doesn't get all contaminated with horrible seawater, and has the ability to be launched direct to the Moon, and be it's own lunar lander too. Plus you could use Falcon Heavy to launch bits of a ship to go to Mars (or an asteroid), assemble them in orbit, and send some Dragon capsules along to use as the shuttles.

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Re: SpaceX is seriously cool

Oh, and another exciting thing. One of the Bigelow inflatable habitats is being / has been sent up to the ISS. So we now have the prospect of much cheaper living space - which means cheaper space science, and another step closer to commercial manned use of space. Eventually leading to space hotels, space hookers, space nookie and space cops with laser guns...

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Re: SpaceX is seriously cool

Well they're obviously doing something right, with 16 Falcon 9 launches in 4 years so far, and 10 more this year. Looks like things are on the up-and-up.

It would be great if they could do "the impossible", and land a rocket after use. Even more impressive to do it on a barge at sea.

I also look forward to seeing them get a manned capsule working.

This is truly exciting. Space has been a bit of a dead-end since the early days of the shuttles. Sure there were always lots of interesting things going on, but we always seemed to be just refining stuff we'd already done, or doing it in different combinations. But mostly using the same basic technology.

But for the last 5-10 years we've had a bumper crop of unmanned space probes, doing all sorts of exciting and difficult things. Trundling round Mars and landing on comets.

And now we seem to have progress in launcher technology again. Not only are SpaceX (and others) making it much cheaper - but every time they launch, they're trying something new - or running tests to allow them to on the next launch.

And they're doing it with a sense of proportion, and a sense of humour. So they can say mission accomplished, when they get the payload to the ISS - and still say KABOOM when the rocket doesn't quite manage to land on the platform after doing so.

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Lib Dems wheel out Digital Rights Bill pledge as election sweetener

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Re: Logic

Except that people didn't vote lib Dems for them to be in government no matter what, they voted for lib dem policies.

Vimes,

And one of the main Lib Dem policies was, and has always been, to bleat on about how wonderful and great and mature European consensus, coalition politics is. And therefore how the Lib Dems believe in consensus building with other parties, coalition, and electoral reform to make that more likely.

They also very clearly stated before the last election, that they would enter coalition talks with whoever was the largest party. They were repeatedly very clear about this. They have been very clear on this since they were founded in the late 80s.

Any voter who voted Lib Dem knew exactly what they were going to get. Or if they didn't, it's their own bloody fault. And they should stop whining and take responsibility for their own actions. This information was not hidden, or secret, or a surprise to anyone with even the vaguest knowledge. Our political system first of all needs better voters. Before we can improve our politicians and political discourse, we need voters willing to at least take a tiny amount of their time to decide. If we don't want politics to be a beauty contest, then you have to stop voting for whoever performs best on telly and start devoting at least a few hours, every four years, to working out who we agree with.

They got into government based on the votes of people that they would never have got had the voters realised what could happen as a result of voting lib dem.

Anyone who didn't want the Conservatives in power had the choice to vote Labour, or some other party. If they chose to vote Lib Dem after Clegg had said he'd do a deal with whoever got the most seats, then they were obviously willing for that coalition to happen. That is the only interpretation the Lib Dems could take, short of asking each of their voters individually why they'd voted for them. I have zero sympathy.

Now I admit that the Lib Dems seem to have been attracting a 'none-of-the-above' protest vote before 2010. And a lot of that seems to have now shifted to UKIP. This is the interpretation that many pollsters I've read have put on the quite large number of 2010 Lib Dem voters who've now switched their alleigance to UKIP (or tell pollsters they have anyway). Well, if you don't want any of the two bigger parties, why not vote Monster Raving Looney, or Respect or Socialist Labour or something? Because the Lib Dems have been talking about coalition for their entire history - and took it at the first opportunity (as they always said they would). Also how are the politicians supposed to interpret votes, if people are going to switch their votes from a socially liberal, economically centrist, massively pro EU party to a socially conservative, anti-EU one? As I said, people have got to take some responsibility for the entirely predictable consequences of their own actions.

personally speaking I think a system without any party whips where the MPs really do represent the interests of their constituency rather than those of their party would be one of the best things that could happen to this country, even if PR is completely forgotten.

This system would only be workable if the electorate were willing to invest a lot more effort into politics than they currently seem to be willing to.

Having no whips also means it's much harder for the electorate to know what they're voting for. It's all very well to talk about MPs acting on conscience, but in the system we currently have most people vote party, not MP. By voting party, they get to vote on a manifesto. That means the MPs then have the obligation to walk a tightrope between the voters who wanted the manifesto they voted for, and those who may know the MP, and have voted for them to use their conscience. There is no perfect system, but the downside of not whipping (and PR with constant coalitions) is that voters vote for one thing, and don't get to find out what they will actually get until after the election. Which is exactly the problem you're complaining about in your post.

I'm personally against PR and non-whipped MPs for this reason. However, if the main parties are unable to get more than 40% of the voters for one more election, I'll switch to voting for PR, because first past the post is too unfair if parties can get an overall majority with only 35% of the vote. Well only Labour can, due to the way our system was biased by the 97 boundary review (and cahnging demographics) - the Conservatives need about 39%, and Labour to get less than 32% (very roughly. Whereas Labour could theoretically get an overall majority on 36% each - well that's before Scotland went SNP. Who knows what'll happen now.

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Re: Logic

Vimes,

The Lib Dems are a party who've been campaigning for PR and coalition governments being a better idea for their entire existence. Not to go into coalition when there was a viable option to do so would basically be like saying "our party is a pointless waste of time".

So of course they went into coalition. It's what they went into politics for. To try and get some of their policies enacted. There was only one viable coalition to choose from. Becuase Lab+Lib Dems wasn't enough MPs to get a majority. The only two viable coalitions after the last election were Lab+Con or Lib+Con. Also although you don't need to win an election to be Prime Minister, I don't think people would have been very happy for Gordon Brown to be PM without an election and to then have comprehensively lost his first one, and still to remain in Downing Street. So both politically and practically the Lib Dems had only one viable option, as long as they were offered a reasonable agreement.

As for the tuition fee increase, we basically seem to have a graduate tax now (with a few extra bells and whistles). So perhaps that's what they should have done instead?

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HOVER ROCKET space station podule mission LIGHTNING HOLD DRAMA

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I assume they can leave the kerosene as long as they want. I seem to remember the limit on liquid oxygen is 48 hours?

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National Grid's new designer pylon is 'too white and boring' – Pylon Appreciation Society

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Devil

Re: Missed an opportunity for a great photo description...

How about "Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne's Wife Looks at Competition Winners"?

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Coat

Wasn't it Yoga that said, "there is no pylon. Only do, or do not."

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Happy

And what about rights for Pyladies?

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Fancy a wristjob from Tim Cook? TOUGH LUCK, you CAN'T HAVE ONE

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Did you buy it for a picture of a $100 bill?

Picture of Queen Victoria?

No thank you. I'm trying to give up...

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Strange radio telescope signals came from microwave ovens

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Re: Aliens, Microwaves?

That's easy to work out. Just put your cat in your fridge and close the door. You should be able to solve two problems at once.

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Re: FRB's

No. They're just intergalactic mini-cab drivers organising pickups.

"Whaddaya mean South of the Western Spiral Arm? At this time 'o night? No fear mate? You can get out on your tentacles and walk if you wanna go down there. I'm for me bed, I'm off East to galactic centre mate."

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Microsoft Lumia 640, 640XL: They're NOT the same, mmmkay?

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Nokia had a reasably decent set of names. In that there was a 600, 700 and 800. Even if they then added a 900, a 1000 and a 500. Also for some strange reason they started with the 800, but then the next release was the excellent 720 (why not 700?).

Now it's a mess. I was trying to help my Mum decide between the 630 and 635 when her contract comes up. They seem to have come out within a few months of each other - and in fact their naming is now a confusing number soup. I actually think they've inherited Nokia's horrible obsession with having a million different models, all with only one tiny feature difference to distinguish them.

Surely all you need is a range name, and then a model number (starting from 1), to tell you which is the latest model. So they could have the Cheapskate (VGA camera, no flash, little RAM), the Pensioner (big screen, cheap, tartan fluffy cover), The Self-Obsessed Wanker (dedicated Facebook button, extendable selfie-stick, 5 cameras), The Eye of Sauron (100 megapixel camera that's amazing at low-light photography) etc.

Anyway one of these is looking tempting for my next work phone. The iPhone 5 has already been repaired once (all our batch had dodgy docking connectors), and the button is now going on the replacement. Something bigger, that's actually readable in sunlight, doesn't keep breaking and has an address book not coded by gibbons is attractive.

There's some great 'Droids, and I'm tempted by a Galaxy Note, but I find them a bit complicated, and I want my phone to be as simple as possible. Big writing, big buttons make me happy. I don't like Metro on my PC, but it's great on a phone, and I'd imagine it's pretty fine on a tablet too.

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ICANN urges US, Canada: Help us stop the 'predatory' monster we created ... dot-sucks!

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Do ICANN really not have a process in place for taking domains back from registrars who are abusing them, or running them badly?

Why the hell did they write themselves a contract that doesn't give them a get-out clause? Given that they can have some byzantine appeals process that basically means you appeal to one subcommittee of the ICANN board, and then appeal against them to a different sub-committee of the same board... For an organisation that are so good at subverting any kind of due process, with vague rules and no proper oversight, I'm amazed.

Still, if they've paid themselves all the previous gTLD cash in bonuses, and can't afford any lawyers, they could always auction off dot.skint, dot.needaloan, dot.loanshark, dot.fuckup and dot.buggeriti'moffdownthepub...

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Microsoft uses Windows Update to force Windows 10 ads onto older PCs

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Re: Naughty, naughty @caffeine addict

earl grey,

QuickLime as punishment for the developers of iTunes? Yeah, that seems fair enough to me.

I know US labour laws are more lax than we're used to in Europe, but even so I wasn't aware that this was an approved method of management. I presume that means California is a 'Right to Work' state?

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