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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3563 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

NATO nations 'will respond to a Cyber attack on one as though it were on all'

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Stuxnet did the most serious damage it could do. It wrecked thousands of extremely expensive centrifuges. I don't know what the risk was of it also contaminating the 2 enrichment sites, but that ought to be unlikely, with proper design, and pretty easy to deal with.

This is where relative power comes in. For example, Russia can happily bash Ukraine, because there's not a great deal Ukraine can do about it. Anything they do to escalate, Russia can trump. They're biggest card is to cut-off/destroy the gas pipeline between Russia and its European customers. But Ukraine is desperately trying to get support from the EU and NATO, so cutting their fuel supply might not help.

That's not quite true with the US and Iran, as there are things the US can't politically do. But you have to consider what governments want. Iran wants sanctions removed, as they're buggering-up the economy, and making them very unpopular with the middle classes. - who've already had one go at a limited revolution. So how do they retaliate over Stuxnet when they want access to EU and US financing and industry to update their oil industry?

Thirdly there's proportionality. Stuxnet was better than the alternatives. Iran chose to break the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty it signed up to. Them getting nukes is not an optimum solution. Israel trying to bomb Iran's nuclear program could be as bad, though Israel might not see it that way. And as the US would get large chunks of the blame if Israel did it, I think there was a lot of argument in Washington that the US could do a much better job (with fewer casualties and more damage), so better to get hung for a sheep as a lamb, and do it themselves.

Stuxnet appears to have been a very good idea (so far). It's killed no-one, and delayed things enough for diplomacy to work. It was also a limited attack, with limited objectives. Is it any worse than massive sanctions on the Iranian oil and finance industries? It's cost the Iranian government much less.

But in the end, international relations is much less about right-and-wrong, and much more about can-and-can't (and will-and-won't). NATO has the power to retaliate, and deal with the consequences of escalation. So NATO needs to decide whether it has the will to do so. Iran has the capability to retaliate, and the will to deal with the consequences, but limited ability to deal with escalation.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Bucky 2,

I think you're failing (along with others) to differentiate between state-sponsored espionage and cyber-warfare. A bit of hacking and eavesdropping is the normal course of daily business. It's why all powers have intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies. Normally all that happens is some ambassadors get interviews without coffee, or in the worst cases, expelled.

Cyber-warfare means attacks on government networks, banking and infrastructure. So far this has mostly been deniable, small-scale and limited duration. But an attack lasting for weeks, that damages sewerage, water and power infrastructure might call for a more robust response. It might be sanctions or cyber-retaliation. But there's nothing particularly disproportionate in saying, "you broke my power station with your computers, so I'm going to lob a cruise missile at one of yours".

More likely would be economic damage. So sanctions would seem the better tool. But if Russia (we all know who they're talking about) believes it can get away with this stuff consequence-free, they're much more likely to try it.

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Devil

Re: Cardiff?

Well, it's close enough for targetting purposes. So long as you use a large enough nuke...

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Equally, when the Germans hack John Kerry...

Seriously though, no. Spying is different to warfare.

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I'd imagine this is about the most worried NATO nations (the Baltic states probably), trying to secure help from the likes of NSA and GCHQ, should another attack happen. Especially if it lasts for weeks, rather than days.

I also wonder if it's about NATO offensive cyber-capabilities. I've read a few things about us and the Americans putting money into this. I'm sure we're not the only ones. So NATO might well respond to a cyber attack with one of its own. As well as trying to work out joint defensive measures.

Just think of the horror if we cut off Facebook and Twitter access to our enemy's ruling elite? Plus their wives and children. I'm sure they'd surrender right-sharpish-double-quick after the ferocious combined nagging that would ensue. Even worse, we could try to disrupt their access to porn! The horror! The horror! Although surely that would be a heinous breach of the geneva conventions on war crimes.

It would be a bit like the Lysistrata, but with fewer jokes about Spartan cipher rods, and more about dongles...

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CNN 'tech analyst' on NAKED CELEBS: WHO IS this mystery '4chan' PERSON?

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True with TV. But I was actually thinking journalists, epsecially the print ones. Who write copy on computers and tablets, have smartphones, are always pirating copy off Facebook and Twitter, plus whatever photos or blogs they can grab. And all busily Googling and Wiki-ing as well. You'd hope that a little bit of knowledge would rub off in this process...

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Happy

The chap's not heard of 4chan. Does that make him ignorant, or fortunate?

It is very sad when the mainstream media talk about most specialist subjects. But they are particularly pants on IT, which is rubbish considering how much they depend on DTP, t'internet, Google, Twit&Face, mobile phones and laptops.

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Re: Not forgetting regional variations

So in the grim North it changes from 'password' to 'pa££word'

MonsieurInconnu,

It's all your fault! Now the voices in my head sound like Sean Bean shouting, "passsword ye buggers!"

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Jimbo tells Wikipedians: You CAN'T vote to disable 'key software features'

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Re: salaried employees

I think you've somewhat missed the point The salaried engineers create the software, the unpaid user community are expected to use it. Question is, who runs the railroad?

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NASA clears zero-G 3D printer for mission to SPAAAAACE

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Re: 3D printing of plastic is not going to save anyone

A plastic part that keeps you alive for a couple of days is worth 100 metal parts, rated for the full mission duration, that you don't have.

Completely different tolerances, but we prototyped a float-valve on a 3-D printer. It worked for a whole day before falling apart. Which was perfect as a proof of concept, before going on to the more expensive prototyping stages.

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This is good work, and possibly a very important step for our long-term future in space.

But, it would have ruined the film Apollo 13...

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The IT kit revolution's OVER, say beancounters - but how do they know?

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Re: I'm with Autor

I'd disagree with you on cloud not having a huge productivity effect. Or at least the potential for large impact. There is still a very large section of business that has only partially computerised. This is the small business sector. Companies too small to manage IT, even when they could afford it.

Cloud CRM is now available, and although this is a bit of a time-sink, can be incredibly powerful for some companies. Cooperation, communication and sharing tools, only previously available to big companies, can allow a lot more working from home. I know this, because these are things that my small company does. Which means we spend more on IT than we do on our office. Theoretically, we could ditch the office. But it's nice to meet for real sometimes.

There's an awful lot of new areas that computers might take over. For example, 90% of the building services industry is still managed by blokes turning things on and off. Or increasingly, not doing so. As caretakers and maintenance seem to have been dropped in the hopes that magic fairies will keep all the plant maintained.

...Some people may appreciate the fact that my auto-correct has replaced cloud with clown, every time i've used it in this post...

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Cave scrawls prove Neanderthals were AT LEAST as talented as modern artists

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Re: "pre-human ape-men"

Surely it would have been too confusing had the Denisovans won out. An entire world population called Dennis? I'm Dennis, and so is my wife...

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Re: Even in the Pleistocene

The reason dinosaurs died out was Facebook.

They should have been ideal users, due to the small brains, but it turns out their arms were too short. Every time they reached for the mouse, they fell over... After falling on your face/snout/nose 15 times a day, you'd die out too...

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Re: I know what it is...

#pimpmycave

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Re: Naughts and crosses

Crosses won. Noughts hadn't been invented yet...

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Fools!

These archeologists are idiots! They claim that they can prove the age of the piece by clearing away all the old sediment. They've ruined the artwork!

This was 'Unmade Cave' by Ugh son-of-Grunt, and they've destroyed it.

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Russia: SEXY LIZARDS which landed FROM SPACE are all DEAD

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Devil

Re: That's a first..

This is Olga. She is beautiful 19 year-old Russian Olympic gold medalist and she will be your space companion this trip. She is shot-putting champion. Have nice month in orbit...

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Ninja Pirate Zombie Vampires versus Chuck Norris and the Space Marines

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Re: No Commander Shepard / mixed bag of aliens on the winning side?

The Knnn have got to be good. And whatever the aliens are called in 'Hunter of Worlds'. Plus we have the Kif and the Mri for hand-to-hand (plus teeth) nastiness.

But the most dangerous of the lot has surely got to be the nighthorses. If they ever hear that bacon is available throughout the universe, I'm sure they'll soon 'persuade' some pilots to get them into space...

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Devil

Re: R2-D2 etc ARE combat robots by design.

Only in the sense that non-lethal weapons are combat equipment because they include irritants. C3-PO, R2-D2 and Johny-5 are all more likely to provoke violence by virtue of being really annoying.

But that would make JarJar Binks the most powerful and deadly force in the universe!

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Morris Dancers.

The collective noun you are looking for is 'a morris side'. Although 'a pissed of Moris men' may also be appropriate...

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Surely the out comment for colonial marines should be, "because we know what happens to them every time they come up against aliens. They end up as lunch."

Clearly the Aliens will get representation. But perhaps there should also be a place for Ripley. She's pretty damned hard to kill, and not too shabby on the slaughtering her enemies front either.

I guess the rude answer about jarheads is probably because the article is written by an ex-swabbie.

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NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away

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Re: Even though they're highly skilled at that...

Martian research scientists will spend years trying to work out which is the 'any' key, then give up and assume that humans are irretrevable stupid and not worth contacting. Or worse, easy to defeat, and so launch their invasion.

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GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine

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Devil

Re: Fed the scum?

Are you sure he didn't mean that you should marinade the alsatians in pepper spray, then cook them over the burning braziers?

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Siri: Helpful personal assistant or SERIAL APP KILLER?

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Re: No...

Most people still have better comprehension from reading data than from hearing it. So assistants are fine for simple yes/no questions, but once things get complicated, you're better off seeing a table/map/diagram/text.

My train and bus companies have perfectly servicable we sites. But on my phone, I use the app, becuase it concentrates the stuff I want when mobile into a smaller screen space. Gives me instant links to things like the live train/bus departure boards. And can use my location too, if I choose to allow it.

Some apps also allow you to download data, for when you're offline. A problem that will reduce, but I can't see going away for many decades.

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That's a useful one to try, for a chronic over-sleeper who often gets an alarm while he's halfway through showering, because I set it to wake me if I'd gone back to sleep.

It's great for cooking too. Where you've got one hand that's dirty, wet or holding something. The other can set a timer.

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Re: Maybe... but only if it gets localised

I've found Accuweather to be OK. The Met Office don't seem to be much better at predicting rain, so I used to stick to my Accuweather based app, because I liked the pretty pictures.

But then Winter came. And I noticed that Accuweather predicted snow almost every day when the temperature was below about 2°C. I remember hearing an interview with a BBC weather forecaster talking about this, and how hard it is to predict snow in the UK - particularly the South. As it doesn't tend to drop much below zero, so you've got conditions that could give snow, sleet or rain, and it's often impossible to predict which. The Met Office were way better, so I've got into the habit of using them. I wonder if it's because the Met Office have a model tuned to the UK, and Accuweather's is set to US mode?

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Facepalm

Siri, how do I use Siri?

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Re: Typing in Cortana

I guess not, as Cortana is going to be able to operate various functions on the phone, which a search can't. Of course, if you're typing anyway, why not just go to the app?

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BOFH: The current value of our IT ASSets? Minus eleventy-seven...

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Re: You know inventory day is approaching ...

I remember an interview with someone at London Zoo. Apparently all zoos in Europe do their stocktake on 1st January. Can't remember if it's EU rules,or a global thing, so they can keep tabs on all the breeding programs. Easy to count elephants. But with stick insects they had to have someone sit and watch the tanks for a couple of hours and guesstimate...

The stock-take at Erfert Zoo in 2007 revealed that the keepers had been killing the animals and selling them to locals for barbecues. Mostly it seemed to be petting zoo type stuff, like goats, deer, antelopes etc. But someone apparently got to try anteater.

I have eaten zebra once. I wonder if I ought to have checked up on the source? It tastes like minty horse...

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

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Devil

It's the other 1% that makes them worth having.

Roj Blake,

It's no wonder you were sent to a prison planet for sexual deviancy...

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Happy

Re: hmmm

As I've said here before I'm not even an economist, I just play one on the web.

Tim,

Oooh, do you have a costume? I'll be really disappointed in you if you don't...

Faster than runaway inflation, more powerful than a blast of QE, able to leap to conclusions in a single bound. It's Supereconomist!

Quick! To the VAT-cave! There's a crisis in Gotham City. GATT-Woman is threating global trade. If her dastardly plot succeeds Mayor Ricardo will be powerless to save the economy. Commissioner Gordon Brown said he'd saved the world, but he needs your help.

...Hmmm. I'd better stop now. I wonder if I should have had those mushrooms for lunch...

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Devil

Tim Worstall is an idiot!

No one uses the internet for sex! There is no sexual material on the internet at all. It's a realm of purity, scholorship, communication and enlightenment.

As I said to my wife the other day, when she noticed that I'd been spending so much time on www.rubenesques.com. Some people just have dirty minds...

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

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

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

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Happy

Re: As I always say

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

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

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Re: When history is written

Do you have any evidence for that claim about Gordon Brown?

My recollection of events was that Barclays were after buying out Lehman Brothers globally, but wanted some quite large treasury guarantees. Which UK government refused. Perfectly understandably, as no-one had a clue what the risk was. So in the end Barclays bought Lehman's US arm afterwards instead - taking much less of the risk.

The US had already decided to let Lehman go bust, as a salutary lesson. A large mistake as it turned out. I'd imagine that the UK government position was why should we bail out a US bank if they're not going to?

I remember reading subsequently about this, and noting that the US guys they interviewed were rather bitter about the Barclays deal not going through. And so blamed the Treasury. But I'm not sure if that isn't revisionism - because as I understand it the Barclays deal only came about because the US had already decided not to bail Lehman out.

Also the crisis would still have been very serious anyway. See the Eurozone for why. The banks were totally fucked, in various ways. They'd been out of control for too long. They'd taken on too much risk, they'd been committing various frauds, the UK interest-rate swaps and PPI misselling bill is going to come to something like £20-£25 billion! Even without Lehmans, the interbank market had frozen up, because all the banks knew all the others were loaded with toxic debt. Because none of them would admit the amounts, none of them could trust each other. The Eurozone was a house of cards, waiting for a recession to destroy it, the Eurozone banking system was also fucked, although for different reasons. They'd taken on some of our and the US's crap assets, but mostly what's destroyed their banking system is cross-border lending into property markets they didn't understand, political interference with local banks (Landesbanks and Cajas in particular) and all the toxic government debt.

Banking recessions are always going to be awful, because so many companies get finance from banks, so when they're shrinking their balance sheets it's almost impossible to kick-start recovery. Lehmans was the trigger which brought the crisis on, but in the end the banking sectors in the US, UK and Europe were teetering on the edge of collapse, and couldn't be saved without huge infusions of government cash. That meant they'd have to de-leverage, and that meant a massive recession. The rest was just timing.

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Re: Phlogiston quote

That's probably unfairly harsh. Sure there's politics and belief involved in people's economic theories. But they are mostly attempts to explain a very complex interplay of events, with no means for experimentation, and absolutely shockingly bad data.

Germany had a recession last year. Did you know about this? Nope? That's OK, neither did Germany. They had something like -0.1% GDP growth in Oct-Dec 2012 and -0.3% growth in Jan-Mar 2013. But they only worked those figures out in last week's GDP figures. That's over 18 months late to effect government policy.

The UK have been trying to puzzle out what bit of our huge government deficit is structural and what part is cyclical. So what do we need to cut in order to balance the books at the middle of the economic cycle (say around 2018)? Once the temporary effects of the recession have stopped lowering tax receipts and causing us to spend on extra out-of-work / low pay benefits. To know this, we need to know how deep the recession was (which was adjusted to be -0.5% of GDP worse only 4 months ago). We also need to know if the recession has had an adverse effect on productivity, so the Bank of England can try to predict inflation and wage growth, so they can set interest rates. Productivity has dropped, but is that because companies chose not to sack so many people this time, or because the recession has fundamentally changed the economy, neither r both?

That's policy, which needs accurate figures. But to form theories, you can look at older data. Except each country measure everything slightly differently. And has a different type of economy, legal system, government, culture. So absolutely nothing is properly comparable. This makes economics hard.

However, if economics didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. Politicians need a guide on how to run the economy. They've got a limited set of tools at their disposal, crap data that's always months out of date, and some very shaky theories to work with. One rule of thumb is to be very careful about the fundamentalists. People who have faith in one theory tend to ignore the good bits of the other theories. But I think we're a bit better at explaining what things correlate with other things, even if we're a hell of a lot shakier on what the actual causation is.

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

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

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

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Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?

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Coat

Re: Eye choice

Apple's alternative is of course called the iPatch...

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Re: Couple of questions

Thanks for that. It's a lot bigger than I was expecting then.

One thing I liked the idea of using it for was for reading signs. Hopefully the camera can magnify live images (I assume it acts as a viewfinder). Otherwise take snap of train departure board, then magnify and read. Although you can often go online and get stuff so that you don't have to read signs now - most train apps tell you the platform. That probably doesn't work in airports though, where a monocular comes in handy, and Google Glass could be rather useful. These places do like to put vital information on signs 20 foot up in the air. Which guarantees you can never get close enough to read them.

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Couple of questions

Alun,

Did you have a problem where all the info was going to one eye, so all that one-eyed reading gave you a headache? Or were you not using it much at any one time? It was what I first thougth of when you mentioned using it to watch video.

On that photo you took when driving, with sat-nav displayed, is that the real apparent size of the text in your visual field? Or have Google made that little insert bigger in the photos than it looks in real life? I think Glass could be a brilliant tool, mainly for travelling. I'm not interested in checking my emails while walking down the street, but to be able to use sat-nav and look up info on public transport while wandering London would be very useful. As well as seeing texts from whoever I'm meeting. But my eyesight is rubbish, so I'm interested in how big the text is. I can just about read subtitles on a 50" telly at 6-8 feet (no chance on a 26"). But then subtitles may be a smaller font size than the equivalent Google use on Glass. I hope.

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Happy

Re: Re unbending legs

Surely they're arms? After all, you fold your arms, not even yoga masters can fold their legs flat...

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Re: Eye choice

I'm sure I read that Google do a left eye version. After all, pirates might want to be usin' Glass. Sat-nav be so much easier for findin' yer buried dubloons. You needs it when yer parrot has pecked out yer starboard eye, aye.

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Groupon sales reps' overtime pay suit not eligible for class action

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Devil

Re: Still around?

Don't forget them. They're in a race. Which will go bust first? Groupon or Zynga? Place bets now!

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Whither the post-pub Deathmatch?

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Whither the post-pub Deathmatch?

Don't think I've seen one of these in a while. Would be perfect for your weekend edition.

I was reminded seeing Lester's name in lights on your latest rocketry madness. Perhaps he should do something TexMex in honour of the upcoming trip to the US? I find the breakfast burrito to be an excellent snack. Bacon, salsa, scrambled egg and a bit of grated cheese wrapped in a soft tortilla. Sausages are an alternative to the bacon. There are always tortillas left over when you use them, which gives me the perfect excuse - and I like to make up big batches of salsa.

Perhaps El Reg should organise some sort of deathmatch event sometime? Could even raise funds for heart disease charities. Although that is sort of like holding a drinkathon for AA...

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Nearly there! LOHAN Kickstarter pot o'gold breaks £29,000

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Devil

Re: Why are there no STARS in space?

Why are there no STARS in space?

Because they're picky and difficult to please. And parties in space just have no atmosphere darling...

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Galileo! Galileo. Galileo! Galileo frigged-LEO: Easy come, easy go. Little high, little low

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Re: They are not insured, for a good reason

Isn't this the second and third satellited they've lost, out of the first 6 launched? I believe one of the earlier ones didn't work, although it's possible these two can be salvaged. But it's a bit sad to have lost half of the reserve of 6, in the first year of the program. On the other hand, out of 15 launches you'd expect to lose at least one, no-one's got a perfect record. It's almost as if rocket science was hard...

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China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE

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Re: Pointless idea

Nuking carrier groups has been a part of military planning since at least the 1960s. Tactical nukes were designed for relatively small, high-value targets. Whether they be Warsaw Pact bridgeheads over German rivers, NATO carrier groups, airbases or rail junctions.

Admittedly nuking a significant target and destroying $100bn worth of enemy shiny-shiny, along with killing say 10,000 of their personnel, is not likely to end well. Particularly if that nation is equipped with strategic nuclear weapons, not to mention tactical ones of its own.

Then again, by the 70s, most NATO planning for the Central European front pretty much admitted that it was either lose, or resort to nuking the Soviet spearheads within just a few days of the war starting. So part of the plan was that you act as if you'd go nuclear in your normal battle-planning, thus the other side knew that even starting a purely conventional war was a big step in nuclear escalation.

This may be China's tactic with the US? We might admit that our navy and airforce can't defeat yours, but we think this conflict is so important that we'll simply ensure we win it by going tactical nuclear, and inflict unacceptable casualties on you. Then your choice will be nuclear escalation or humiliating surrender. As neither of those are appealing, you'd better either develop a counter to getting your carrier groups nuked, or keep your nose out.

As with Russia, it's hard to know what the Chinese think their own national interest is. They're involved in as many border disputes as Russia, but the Russian ones are mostly about nationalism and ex-Soviet Russian populations abroad. Whereas the Chinese ones seem to mostly be about off-shore oil and gas. I don't think they're interested in their various land-border disputes, like they were last century. Obviously the exception here is Taiwan. On the other hand, both countries' economies are massively reliant on global markets and international trade, so even creating international tension costs them money and the economic stablity that they require to keep their populations happy and avoid potentially getting chucked out of power.

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Devil

Re: Whales

They will be shredded in this thing's wake.

The next area for research is how to fit sufficient pancakes and hoisin sauce in the submarine, in order to deal with the shredded whale problem...

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

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

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

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