* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4082 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Is it humanly possible to watch Gigli and Battlefield Earth back-to-back?

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Re: The Crow.

Oh, I'd forgotten that. Thanks for reminding me! Ugh!

Fortunately it was on video, so I was able to walk out. A friend was a big fan, for some reason.

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Re: The parental burden

My Mum complained about Empire Strikes Back / Return of the Jedi, that the screen was often too dark to read by, which is what she did when taking us to crap kids films. But then she decided it was dark enough that she could get some sleep instead.

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Re: Hmmmm...

I didn't think Waterworld was that terrible. It was slow, and could have done with some jokes, and fun goodies, but it had a few bonkers action sequences and cheerfully nasty baddies. And as a bit of lazy TV, where you can visit the kettle during the boring bits, it's better than quite a lot of other stuff I've seen. Of course I didn't pay to see it at the cinema...

I assume there are good action sequences in Pearl Harbour, but it seems to go on for ever, and whenever I've come across it on TV, it's been in some interminable bar scene, or just dull conversation - so I've never managed to stick around long enough to see if there are any good bits. Or even interesting characters.

I've never seen Gigli and only vaguely remember switching Battlefield Earth off after a couple of minutes - so can't comment. Although my memories of the Phantom Menace are pretty dire - and whatever the 3rd one was called when Haden Christensen's total inability to act and George Lucas' appalling ear for dialogue combined into a bumb-numbing crescendo of awfulness.

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SPACE the FINAL FRONTIER: These are the images of COMET PROBE ROSETTA

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Re: Always the same

There's also a funny smell about the place.

The plane lands miles from where you expected it to. And despite expecting hot weather, you find that it's just getting sunnier and sunnier all the time, until you feel like you're going to melt.

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Hola HoloLens: Reg man gets face time with Microsoft's holographic headset

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I'm thinking about building design. Although that's probably because that's the piece of work I'm currently avoiding by reading this...

One of the big problems in current building design is that all the stages are done separately, and that space is at ever more of a premium as property prices rise. So the architects design the building, but no bugger-all about building services engineering. The modern way to do projects seems to be not to pay a designer to do a proper job, but to get the builder to do the design for you. In the bizarre hope that this will make it somehow free, rather than them just putting up their prices to you, and now being able to get away with shitty components and shoddy design choices, because you've refused to pay a few quid to have the design done properly.

Anyway when you come to try and cram all the water, electric, heating and ventilation in, it's a lot more helpful if you look at a 3D model to try and work it out, than it is to try and guess all this from flat drawings. Plus each lot of services will be on a different bit of paper, as there's only so much you can fit, and still be legible. At one drawing per floor, you'd be amazed how much paper you need for something like a 20 storey building. Plus not everyone can make the mental leap from what a flat drawing is showing, to what that means in a 3d world. This is why so many people are so awful at reading maps.

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Microsoft just saved Windows Phone... Now stop whining

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Re: They ain't THAT bad.

I guess in the US the contracts are still so expensive that they can easily lose the cost of the handsets.

Last time we wanted 4G, for the road-warriors. To be fair, they loved it, so it was worth the extra £50-odd it cost us on the monthly contract price. Even though it was a waste for me. We were paying £35 a month per user, and all got an iPhone 5. Of which 4 have malfunctioned (and we only ended the contract last month), and one of the replacement handsets has just died. Mine is developing a fault with the home button too. I'm not terribly impressed with my first Apple phone...

The new contract is £15 per user per month. And gets us unlimited calls and texts, plus 2GB of 4G data each. That £20 a month difference will fund whatever handsets we need. I may take a punt on one of the Lumia's with the fancy camera, and waste a few quid of the company cash. Or I'll just be boring and spend £150 on something that'll be perfectly fine.

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Re: They ain't THAT bad.

I can have whatever phone I want. I'll be making the purchase. Our last deal made almost no difference on what handsets we had, so we had all iPhones.

I just think they're a rip-off when they cost more than iPads which have more expensive components.

Many cheaper phones can do the job just as well. In my opinion Windows Phone is the best phone OS at the moment. It's got the best address book, big buttons, and is the easiest to make calls on when wandering about. My Nokia Lumia 710 had better call quality than the iPhone 5 that replaced it too. My work phone is mostly used as a phone.

On the mobile computer side, I prefer the iPhone. But most of that is for the more fun side of life, which is a fringe benefit. The address book is shit.

For flexibility I liked Android. But I prefer my phone simple. My tablet is for fun.

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Re: They ain't THAT bad.

My colleague's just upgraded to the latest iPhone 6. My iPhone 5 still works fine, his had a convenient death at just the right time... But I resent the amount of cash Apple want. I won't waste £500 of the company's money on my next phone. I think a Galaxy Note 3 at most, if I can get it for under £250. Otherwise a Lumia 730 looks pretty good. Or one of the 800 range perhaps?

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Formatting

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Re: Formatting

It's in the house rules link, above the comment box:

You can use basic HTML to format your text - once you have had five posts accepted for publication. Currently we allow: < b >, < strong >, < em >, < i > and < span class="strike" >stricken< /span > (< strike > was dropped in HTML5). Badge holders can also use < sub >, < sup >, < ul >, < li >, < blockquote >, < code >, and < pre >.

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Netadmin wanted for 'terrible, terrible, awful job nobody wants'

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Why bother with an interview, when you can just send out the acceptance letter to yourself? With a minor detour via the payroll system to 'adjust' the salary a little...

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Prosecutors have 'EVISCERATED' my defense, cries Silk Road lawyer

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They're supposed to know the rules themselves. Judges will often let the defence run with questions for a while, to give them a fair go, before stopping them. As they don't like having their cases overturned on appeal.

The defence don't have to disclose their evidence, in the way the prosecution do, so if they gave no advanced warning, no one could have told them not to do it.

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Re: Imagine that...

P. Lee,

The judge's job is to make sure the jury only get relevant evidence and to then give them direction on how to assess that in relation to the charges. In my experience of jury service (done it tiwce now) defenece barristers seem to throw a lot of irrelevant questions at witnesses, simply in order to confuse the issue - or overwhelm the jury with so much information it confuses them.

I was only doing crap cases though, nothing worse than GBH with intent - so we weren't getting the highest calibre of people. But the only defence barrister we had who managed a proper bit of oration in his final speech was the one who asked the least questions of the witnesses. And kept it relevant.

Judges are very careful about witnesses giving their opinions from the box. It's the jury's job to come to those kind of conclusions. So if you're quizzing someone about their state of mind, you can have opinions, as in "I thought he was going to attack me with the knife so I threw a chair at him". There the opinion is relevant.

But you can't say, "he went behind the screen to hide the drugs" - because unless you saw him do that, you're giving an opinion. You can only say I saw him go beind the screen, and we later found drugs hidden there, and he didn't have any on him when we searched him. It's then up to other witnesses and evidence to prove he had the drugs and up to the jury to find whether he in fact did.

So in the same way the prosecution can't just make stuff up, or assume stuff, neither can the defence. You can't ask a witness what they believe is the interpretation of the facts, except in limited circumstances. For example when you're examining why a witness acted in a certain way, then their interpretation of facts is relevant.

An expert witness, for example, is also allowed to draw conclusions - becuase they're supposed to be witnesses for the court rather than prosecution or defence. It's only in unusual circumstances that defence will seek their own expert witness. Although I think this is different in the US system.

Justice needs to be seen to be done and that means allowing leeway for dubious evidence to be presented and confirmed or exposed, especially if it comes from the investigators.

That's all very well. But the jury aren't lawyers. It's frustrating, I've served on a jury and felt I didn't have all the evidence I'd have liked. But part of that is that it's impossible to gather all the evidence, and almost everything is subjective. But there are also rules to try and make the system fairer, such as not always revealing previous convictions. And protecting the defence by not allowing dubious evidence to be put.

The point about rules of evidence are that things that don't fall within those rules, by definition, aren't evidence. And the opinions of the investigating officers are definitely not evidence, and would be far too dangerous to give to the jury. Given that the whole point of a jury of non-experts is to keep the system honest. We pay judges to rule on what the jury are allowed to see, lawyers to try and organise the case in favour of other side, jurors to weigh the evidence to establish our best guess of the facts, and judges to help the jury organise those facts and tell them what is relevant to the law. I recommend jury service to everyone, as it gives you a much clearer view of how things work.

If the defence think the previous opinion of the investigators was correct, they can put forward the same fact the investigators had, and see if the jury agree. Or agree with the investigators that the subsequent evidence they uncovered pointed in a different direction.

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SECRETS of the LOST SCROLLS unlocked by key to HEALTHY BOOBS

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Re: The Sun

There's a public bath in Pompeii, not exclusive or expensive. So aimed at the ordinary Roman. It's got some very graphic paintings on the wall - lots of lovelies having sex. It's quite Kama Sutra like in that each picture is a different sexual position.

The first theory was that this was just a nice bit of decoration, as who doesn't like to look at porn while having a wash?

But then they compared it to other sites and came to a much more fun conclusion. Each painting is next to a wall feature that's associated with a basket for your belongings. With a bench below. So this is basically the changing rooms. Lots of the bathers weren't literate, so numbers on your 'locker' aren't much use. But who could forget that their stuff is in the basket next to doggy-style?

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Google reveals bug Microsoft says is mere gnat

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Re: Time to redeploy those spare staff not working on Modern UI?

I was thinking that MS should deploy a patch within the 90 days that deliberately has some sort of bug in it. They can then blame Google as it's obviously their fault for forcing MS to rush the fix through testing to avoid Google arsily realeasing on exactly 90-days.

Top marks if they can manufacture some kind of bug that only breaks Google services. Or even better only breaks some tool that Google use internally (for however many Google staff don't use Apple or Linux).

Alternatively the bug could just display "Google smell of poo"...

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Wizard of Oz OFFICIALLY 'most significant movie' EVER, says PNAS

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Re: To develop a good measure of scientific citations

If that's true, and everyone does it, then that effect will be filtered out because all papers will have a floor of a certain average number of cross-references. Then you'll be left with a bunch of papers with huge numbers of references. Which will tell that that either that paper is great, or utterly crap (depending on whether they count citations even when they're disagreeing with a paper) - or at least tell the you that the authors were significant (as they managed to get so many more people to cite them).

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Come and Twiddle Tek Gear's one handed keyboard

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Re: "politeness should put the kibosh on universal voice recognition"

Ugotta B. Kiddingme,

Nice post. That made me laugh. Have an upvote!

Your cynical assumption of lack of politeness and mutual respect is of course true. However a lack of faith in human nature cuts both ways. Anyone voice-typing a business email in public near me, may be surprised by the number of times phrases such as 'donkey penis' appear in their text - something which may discourage them from being so anti-social in future.

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Re: Left Handed?

The article says the keys can be reconfigured. At least to some extent, so I'd imagine you will be able to reverse them for left handedness. Although I'd be surprirsed if you can change the labels. But then you can't see the keys in use anyway.

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Re: Voice..

I use Google a bit, and Siri quite a lot - and they're OK. But still make lots of mistakes that you then have to correct with fat fingers, and fiddly (and particularly crap on phones) attempts to get the cursor in the right place. One of the major points for me would be to avoid having to get my reading glasses out, but it makes so many errors that it still needs to be properly checked for anything other than a short text message.

Add even a bit of noise into the environment and speech recognition goes crap. Just having the TV on, or even the road noise from the office window behind me defeats Siri.

You can't use voice in a meeting either. Without being really anti-social. Or in a crowded office or train. So even if (probably when) you can fix the problems above, this is the major issue. Other people can hear your voice. Politeness should put the kibosh on universal voice recognition.

That leaves us with keyboards of some description or pen input for text.

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Facebook worth more than Portugal? Hell, it's worth a LOT more than THAT

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Re: Conclusion

If everyone was rational (and economics were simple) everyone would work exactly as many hours as required to pay for their desired levels of housing, bills, food and leisure activity. This would be a lifetime calculation, and of course would include taxes, savings and a pension. Obviously that calculation is bloody impossible, and anyway there aren't that many 32.7 hour contracts out there, and none of us can predict the future.

However that's the theory. So no, people wouldn't do some useful work if they weren't on Facebook. Economics tells us that they'd spend that time doing something else they found slightly less fun, and so their overall level of utility would be slightly less. Common sense, and human nature, tells us that if they're doing FB on company time then if FB disappeared overnight, they'd waste that time some other way. LIke posting on El Reg, for example.

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Re: Congrats to Tim...

Doctor Syntax,

No it isn't. If you break windows then repair them, at the end of the day you have the same thing, mended windows.

Before Facebook you didn't have the benefit of the fun [spit!] you get using Facebook. Seeing as Facebook has replaced certain activities for some people, by definition it has increased their overall utiltiy. But their costs have remained the same, as it's not costing them anything. Therefore there's a consumer surplus in there somewhere, although it's impossible to measure.

If charging 10c an hour to use FB made people go back to watching telly, or scratching their arses, or whatever they did with that time beforehand - then we'd be able to value it at 10c an hour. Quite a hard experiment to do though.

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Re: Wasting twice the time

This:

tie it together with the Opportunity Cost argument above you could argue that all we have done is swapped one leisure activity for another and any gain in utility (let alone something more concrete) is marginal at best.

Contradicts, this:

And that's without factoring in the fact that facebooking is an asynchronous activity that can be performed in the "quiet times" between other leisure activities.

If FB is allowing you do get 'extra' utility from your time spent watching telly, then Facebook by definition has increased your utility.

Plus the original argument is wrong anyway. If Facebooking has replaced TV watching, it's because people value it more. As they're not really paying for either (no marginal cost anyway - so long as they do some of each), then by definition by switching from one to the other they prefer, they have increased their total utility.

Hence Facebook has made society happier. Yuck! What a horrible sentence to type. But I guess it's true. That means that even JLS and the Spice Girls have made society better off too. Oh God! I need a lie down! Economics sucks!

Phew! It's OK. I've just realised that people pay for their consumption of JLS and Spice Girls. So their economic costs and benefits are measured financially. Plus we can talk about externalities. In the same way that CO2 release is an externality, as it's not captured by GDP but has a cost to everyone on the globe, I can say that noise pollution by JLS and Spice Girls records has a cost to society. I therefore propose a noise-capture program, along with cap and trade. So crap music can only be produced if those making the profits "offset" the noise pollution they so create by funding some decent music. By buying music-credits. Either that or noise sequestration. In carbon sequestration you capture the output from a coal burning power station and bury the carbon. So this could mean encasing JLS and the Spice Girls in special lead-lined barrels, then burying them at the bottom of a mine. I've proved that this is no longer a personal desire, but an economic and environmental necessity!

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Re: bootnote blessings

And, rather more importantly, the lack of value of France...

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Re: The value is actually negative

Advertising is part of GDP because someone gets paid to do it. Just like chocolate bars are part of GDP, even though they're a cost - because although someone has to pay to get them, they then get to eat them. Yum.

Tim's argument about Labour was that a company saying the've created jobs are actually saying they've added a cost to people's lives. Admittedly it also has a benefit.

The point about Facebook is that people derive pleasure from using it. Even I, logging on once a month, get a small amount of pleasure from seeing pictures of my nephews and niece. Other people are using it a whole lot more. Similarly the Register pays some salaries, buys bandwidth, servers, phones and computers - and sells adverts. But GDP shows that stuff without showing the economic benefit derived by us lucky buggers that get to read and comment on it for free. They even bought me several pints of beer the other day - and a truly life-threatening amount of pork pie.

This consumer benefit isn't picked up by GDP figures. We might even have to [vomit] start talking about measures of gross national happiness. Erk!

If someone makes something existing cheaper, then it's easier to work out the benefits. Say a new method of air travel. We know what people were doing before, we can subtract the cost of doing it the new way from the old. Then we can look at how many more people are using the new service because it's more affordable, and we can use all that to come with an idea of what society has gained from this innovation. Obviously after subtracting the cost of the changeover.

But how can we do this for something entirely new, that's also free?

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Re: A tax on business.

Stuart 22,

This is something you should be able to measure. You know your staff numbers. You know your inputs (computers, machines, raw materials) and you know your outputs (stuff produced - either by amount or by sale price). So you can work out your productivity, and check if it's changed since Facebook became common.

My suspicion would be that if employees aren't on FB, they're shopping online, reading magazines in the toilets, talking to friends on the phone, sending round email jokes or just chatting by the coffee machine. This has always been so, and forever will be.

For example I get almost no jokes by email anymore, I used to get loads. This is because I'm not on FB, and that's where those jokes get put up nowadays.

Of course the other thing you missed is that Facebook are costing you nothing. It's your employees choosing to use it. Which links to my comment above, about other methods of distraction. I've just had a conversation about shooting kangaroos with a temp we're currently employing (who's just come back from a year in Australia).

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Cheer up UK mobile grumblers. It's about to get even pricier

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I suppose we can't really complain about the UK market. We've just switched the company phones to a new EE 4G tariff. We're paying £15 a month (ex VAT) for unlimited calls and texts plus 2GB of data. There's no handsets on that, we have to buy our own, but my iPhone 5 still works, and I can get a decent Lumia or 'Droid for under £200.

My Mum's just signed up with Tesco (is that O2?) for £7.50 a month (inc VAT) and is getting a Lumia 730 plus 750 minutes, 1,000 texts and about 200MB of data. That's a pretty stonkingly good deal, and I think she could double the data for half the minutes if she preferred.

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Facebook is MORE IMPORTANT to humanity than PORTUGAL

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Re: GDP is income per year

Didn't Microsoft always pay someone to come up with a survey to say that the new version of Windows would boost the UK (or US or EU) economy by some insane figure like £250 bn over 2 years. Thus saying how great this new version of Windows must be - and allowing them to bleat about how piracy was destroying all this lovely value that would accrue to us all - and so how our governments must destroy the pirates forthwith.

On which subject, if video piracy funds terrorism, what does software piracy fund? Cancer perhaps?

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Re: "Really? But Google is the internet, surely"?

jackharbringer,

Great comment. I'm going into Carphone Warehouse tomorrow, and asking them to sell me a phone with AOL on it. That should confuse them...

Apart from anything else, where would I put all the CDs?

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Re: How many of those 4.5 million jobs were within Deloittes?

Jonathan 27,

Your fundamental mistake (understandable due to their fiendish cunning) is to believe that your cat is in your employ, rather than the other way round. Cats do not have owners, they have staff...

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Latest menace to internet economy: Gators EATING all the PUSSIES

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Re: And the prixe for

Of course beer has a future once drunk. Why do you think there's a pipe coming out of the bottom of the urinals? That leads into the bar through the wall, to the Fosters tap? It's no coincidence you know.

That's also what those weird blue or yellow urinal cakes are for. They're not actually disinfectant, but washing up liquid to give the lager its bubbly head.

My brother's pub has 2 pub cats. I must suggest to him how much more of an attraction a pub alligator would be...

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'If you see a stylus, they BLEW it' – Steve Jobs. REMEMBER, Apple?

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Re: Great news

It can't be compatible with previous versions. Unless Apple can magically add an extra element to the touch screen via software update. In which case they've invented Star Trek style teleportation, and won't just be the first trillion dollar company, but the first quadrillion dollar one very shortly thereafter...

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I also had the P800, in the same shade of blue (though I never though of ponies at the time). And I agreed with Jobs, that any phone which couldn't be operated without a stylus sucked.

The P800, despite a resistive screen (well it was 2003), could be operated with just a finger. At least for all the basic stuff, once you got into the menus or keyboard you needed a fingernail and a steady hand. There was also a little clip-on numberpad, which simply had pins in the back to touch the screen.

I loved that phone. Incidentally, I gave it to a friend when his broke, and I'd dumped smartphones for a work RAZR V3. My trusty P800 stopped working just before Christmas last year, and he's finally had to buy a new phone.

Where Jobs got it wrong was to say that fingers are better than a stylus for detail work. The UI should be as easy as possible, and only need a finger. But typing this on the onscreen keyboard of my iPad is way slower than I could do with a stylus. That's the one feature from my old HP Vista convertible tablet that I miss.

I've had a tablet since 2007. I've tried voice recognition, onscreen keyboards, portable keyboards, Palm's Graffiti, horrible stylii on resistive screens, even more horrible stylii on capacitative screens and brilliant Wacom digitiser stylii. And Wacom win hands down for writing or drawing.

My next tablet might be Android. So far Samsung's Note ones are a bit too pricy. As Lenovo's Yoga ones are lovely to hold. But if there's an iPad with a proper stylus, I'm sold.

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'It's NOT FAIR!' yell RICH KIDS ... and that's a GOOD THING

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Re: $100 is a lot to someone living on $2/day

It's an interesting point, as it affects both sides of the equation.

I'm a pretty fair person, I usually (but not always) repress my selfish impulses - even when no-one's looking.

So in the standard experiment with £100, I'd offer a 50/50 split. It's "fair" (and so the right thing to do), we'll almost certainly both get paid this way, and people are watching. All good reasons to play nice. And the offer of an extra £10-£20 isn't very much incentive to risk getting nothing, or to look bad in front of other people. As well as the possible twinge of conscience for being "bad".

However if I'm given £1 million to split, it's rather different. Now a 60/40 split is giving me an extra £100,000! That buys a house (in some places), and is 4 years UK median wage. Much more of a dilemma about being "nice". But then there's also a much higher risk if the other person sees themselves being treated unfairly, and rejects the deal. Although they too have more incentive to say yes.

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Is is a Bird? Is it a Plane? NO! LOOK OUT it's an ASTEROID!

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Re: Am I right in assuming that...

No. When they Microwave it, it'll wake up. Then start firing it's death-rays in retaliation.

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Amazon's tax deal in Luxembourg BROKE the LAW, says EU

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According to the Torygraph article on this the Luxembourg tax authorities got the letter from Amazon proposing their transfer pricing calculations/justification - and answered that yes those figures were OK within 11 days.

I'm struggling to think of the last time I got anything written out of a tax office in that kind of timescale, let alone something as horribly complicated as working out a hundred-billion dollar global mega-corp's international tax affairs.

That's so fast it's almost as if they wouldn't have had time to check, or had agreed the amounts in advance. But obviously that can't be true...

So it must just be that Luxembourg doesn't need to collect many taxes, because their government are just so damned efficient. Yes, I'm sure that's it...

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I'll build a Hyperloop railgun tube-way in Texas, Elon Musk vows

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Re: What Brunel do if he was around now?

He would be wearing an absolutely brilliant hat.

But would be too busy suing Danny Boyle and the 2012 Olympic Games organisers for the image rights for their opening ceremony to get any serious engineering done...

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Microsoft rolls out even cheaper 'Notkia' Lumias

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My Mum's just decided to get a smartphone. She's a bit of a techophobe in her mid 70s, but skype with the grandchildren, GPS, photos and email are all very imprtant. And she loves her iPad.

Tesco mobile are doing some deal for the measly sum of £7.50 a month. That's 750min of calls, 1,000 texts and about 200MB of data. And for that and a 2 year contract you get a Nokia Lumia 735 too. Which is a £170 phone! I don't know if it's about to replaced and Tesco have too many, but that's stupidly cheap for what's a decent phone.

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

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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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Happy

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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Happy

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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Happy

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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Happy

Re: Quantum Jump domain

Bless you!

Do you need a clean hanky?

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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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Happy

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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