Re: "...the universe is around 13.8 billion years old..."
Turn to galaxy 3, to see Kelly (23) from Andromeda - who's got a pair of Great Attractors which have been subject to inflation.
4160 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009
Turn to galaxy 3, to see Kelly (23) from Andromeda - who's got a pair of Great Attractors which have been subject to inflation.
Are you sure? Wasn't Ceres where the bugger base was in Ender's Game?
I wonder why they changed their name for the film?
its where the string went through!
This is discarded air freshener from a rather large craft.
What a foolish argument.
It's obviously been used in an intergalactic game of conkers...
I reckon the Ecuadorian embassy staff got sick of him, and strangled him about 6 months ago. Now they have to keep the pretence up forever, lest they end up doing a stretch for murder. So they just put out the odd looney press statement, hold a mop and a blue shirt up near the windows occasionally, and keep ordering in extra pizza and the odd exercise machine.
Hi-vis jacket on a couple of street beggars
"Spare any change to arrest a wanted man guv?"
The right of Sancturary in embassies seems to be pretty much generally recognised in South America. It's not in the Vienna Conventions, which everybody is signed up to, but I believe a few other countries also go along with it. We don't. UK embassy practise is apparently to try and shuffle people out the door again as fast as you can, before there's an international incident. Embassies are there to keep diplomatic relations between governments, and this sort of thing can seriously interfere with that important role.
However in South America there seems to be some tradition that if you get overthrown in a coup, you run out the back door of the Presidential Palace, and head straight for a friendly embassy. You then get besieged there for a few days/weeks, and when the new government is feeling confident they do a deal, and you get shipped off into exile.
Obviously it would be stupid to breach the Vienna Conventions by going in there, and putting all our embassies at increased risk of the same happening to them sometime.
There is an argument that Ecuador are also in breach of those conventions, but there's no world court to rule on this, so it all comes down to negotiation. I'd imagine their diplomats are sick of the situation, but they don't want to back down. The police cost doesn't come out of the Foreign Office's budget, so they can just sit there and ignore the problem. It would be a stupid precedent to set that we'll let people get away with it, just because they've run through an embassy's door, and so we all sit around until Ecuador or Assange get bored.
Although I do think we should cut off their Ferero Rocher rations...
Nope. Our St Julian is not accused of having sex without a condom. He's accused of having sex without permission. Having sex without someone's consent is generally known as rape. And that was what the High Court judged two of the charges to be.
The second was that he had sex with woman no. 2 without a condom, then when she was asleep had another go, without, even though he knew she'd said no sex no condom. Obviously less serious than using violence, but even under English law that apparently still meets the definition of rape.
The first accusation is more definitive though. Against wonman no. 1, when told no nookie without condom he's accused of trying to force himself on her. Not with violence, but by using his larger size - until she'd resisted for a bit, then he stopped and put on the condom. I think that's the one where he's alleged to have deliberately damaged it - but a quick Google seems to show the nasty courts have gone and move the links to their PDF judgements, and I couldn't be bothered to check further. Anyway forcing yourself on someone physically is definitely rape. By anyone's definition.
Whether he's guilty is a matter for the Swedish courts. Where he should fuck off to, and defend himself, if the allegations are as ludicrous as he claims.
Actually using secret documents as bog roll happened rather a lot. Brixmis was the UK military mission to East Germany carried on throughout the Cold War. The Soviets saw fit not to provide their troops with toilet paper. However headquarters were provided with large amounts of soft and absorbent onionskin paper, in order to do encryption/decrytion of signals. This was all then to be burned, but Soviet troops disposed of it in another manner.
After Warsaw Pact excercises Brixmis would rush to the area, find where the HQ had been, and go looking for poo with secret messages attached... I believe there's a saying in the army for jobs like that, "if you can't take a joke, you shouldn't have joined".
That's nothing. Nigel Farage has offered us independence from Europa...
Now, if you excuse us, Matthew has just brought in an SPB labcoat soaked in oil, blood, dissolved mud, coffee, red wine, ink and ketchup...
So what you're saying is, you fried his liver with some baked beans and a nice chianti...
Works fine for me. My triffid, spot, now understands "sit", "stay" and "walkies". Although I'm still have trouble teaching it to not kill and eat visitors...
I don't collect military vehicles either, but only because I don't have the money.
I can't believe that there are many men who don't secretly fancy owning a tank or two - if only they had the space and the spare few tens of millions, such that they wouldn't notice the costs of owning and running one.
There was a guy driving round central London in the 90s in a Scimitar that he'd painted bright yellow. I guess he didn't have to worry about getting clamped, or towed away, either.
like the first to recognise how to use excreta as fertiliser and tanning agents.
Hmmm. I just suffered from some disturbing mental images after reading that sentence slightly amiss. I knew that the celebs who go orange, or even David Dickinson Brown had been using tanning products, but I'm now imagining someone saving the valuable contents of post-hangover toilets, in order to get that special shade for Mr Dickinson. Previously I'd assumed he used Cupranol quick drying wood stain. Now the slogan running through my head is, "does exactly what it says on the bowl"...
Pass the mind bleach please.
I think it's a bug. It happens to me about once a week, admittedly only since the re-design happened. Just going back to the main page and then back to a thread seems to fix it. Or closing and re-opening the browser window.
In case they're bug-hunting, I use Win 8.1 and Firefox.
I don't think I've ever seen the centering thing on the iPad, which is the other way I tend to browse El Reg.
I think what they're saying is that you have to accept their contract and their small amount of revenue and control in order to have a Youtube account and get paid for ads run with your stuff. The artists with the majors get better terms - although who knows if the big boys pass all of that across?
Otherwise you can bugger off, and no money for you. Of course at that point you can respond OK, fair enough. We don't agree terms. So I'll remove all my content from Youtube. That's fair negotiation after all.
But what Google then say is. Oh dear. Sir doesn't appear to have a Youtube account. No account, no content ID. So you can't use our automatic anti-piracy tools. It would be such a shame if loads of our users were to put up your content for free, and we get all the advertising revenue anyway. And you're left with fuck-all, and we still get your work. Oh of course we're not doing this deliberately. Of course we'll comply with the law. Ahem. You'll just have to search Youtube every few seconds, and put in a DMCA takedown for every instance of pirarcy, and we'll take that down after a few days.
What Google are saying is deal with us and we screw you. Don't deal with us and we screw you harder.
Youtube was always build on stealing other peoples' content. That's what made it popular, as a way to see stuff people had recorded. Sure you also had people uploading original stuff too, but it's always been a place to see copyrighted content for free. That mattered less when Youtube were a startup - that never made any money. Artists and content owners were sort of losing out, but as there was no real alternative, or revenue stream, they probably weren't losing much. And it's not like anyone else was getting paid either, so they weren't being stolen from - so much as maybe losing a potential opportunity for other revenues.
Then Google bought Youtube. Suddenly it was a different kettle of fish. They had to clean their act up somewhat, as Youtube was full of other peoples' stuff. But now Google owned it, and Google have money. But also Google bought it to make money. So they shoved advertising all over it. And they were forced to build tools to help copyright owners, as they were now knowingly making cash from other peoples' stuff, with no rights to it. OK Google still weren't uploading it themselves, and could try to argue they weren't responsible, but that was a pretty thin argument.
But it seems now they've decided they're powerful enough to try to go back to the old way of doing things. They've bought off the majors, who have many lawyers. And now they're trying the protection racket on the indies. "This is a nice shop you've got here. But these books are very flammable. It would be a shame if something was to... happen to them... Like a fire perhaps... Oh no! We wouldn't dream of doing anything like that. But you see those guys over there... Well we could help you control them, but well... That'd cost us you see... So hand over most of your money or else."
Google are pissing off so many people, in so many areas at once. It can't last. Despite all that money they pay to politicians, and their army of supporters, they're still cruisin' for a bruisin'. In the end there'll just be too much pressure to do something. The EU are looking likeliest. Axel Springer's support for his candidacy was what got Juncker the gig as EU Commission President. Merkel would probably have blocked him without the outcry in the German press. And that favour has been repaid already, as the new Commission have made much tougher noises in Germany. But then online privacy and data protection has been a huge political issue in Germany for the last 15 years anyway. The French don't like Google for being American, and the association with the NSA hasn't helped anything, so I suspect the EU may clip their wings somewhat. And because they compete with the mainstream media, who are getting increasingly desperate for revenue, it's going to be very easy for them to whip up some anti-Google publicity, and get the voters onside.
In my opinion Google are Microsoft of around 2000. Anti-competitive, arrogant, bloated, rich, but woefully ignorant/careless about security, making way too many enemies at once and risking massive damage to their public image that will take decades to recover from.
Samsung managed to undercut Nokia at the low end - who'd fought of competition for years, by having a really well managed supply-chain. They do lots of their manufacturing in China, so I don't see why they shouldn't be able to continue to make something on the low margin end of things.
My suspicion is that their problems are in the middle of the market (where they've got too many models), and at the top-end. In the mid-market they seem to have a lot of 'cut down' version of the top end stuff,that's still labelled Galaxy, but is £200-£300, while being worse than the sub £150 Lumias and stuff like the Moto G. At the top end, there's a lot of competition, and I suspect that although the list prices are really high, most are sold via the operators, and there's a lot of heavy discounting going on.
They're also a bit of a user-interface mess. I got my friend to buy a Galaxy Note. Lovely phone, and he got it so he could take photos onside, then sketch his designs on them, and email those back to the office for quoting. He's a cabinet maker. It took me about 2 hours to set the bugger up for him. It was too complicated for him to do it, he even struggled to set up his iPhone.
There were something like 160 settings in the main menu, and some of those had sub-menus. Plus there's setting up the main screen, short-cuts and widgets. Then getting the right apps. And it didn't help the Samsung duplicate almost all the Google apps. To be fair, some of theirs are better.
Then to add to the fun, they did a software update that broke the S pen, which was the whole point of the phone. Although they hadn't actually broken it, so much as removed the link between the original image-handling app and the pen. The update introduced another 2 s-pen image apps, but only one of these two could now be launched autmomatically when the pen was used - and the origianl app was there, but you'd have to take the pen out, find the photo you wanted to annotate, save it on the phone, then open the original app, then use that to open the photo. So I just set him up with one of the new ones, and taught him how to use that.
What this tells me is that they're a UI mess. There's probably no-one in overall charge of things, and it's all getting designed by committee or infighting. Remember Nokia guys? That didn't end well. It also suggest they're wasting loads of money on software development, given they're sometimes developing more than one app to compete with themselves. And yet their customers don't care if there's a Samsung calendar app, or a Google one. Just so long as they've got one on the phone. So they may as well save their money there. Or put their money where their mouth is and fork Android, or use Tizen.
Irony? That's like goldy or bronzey isn't it?
Actually there is one big advantage to having an older iPad. My nephews and neice are always pestering my Mum and brother to get hold of their iPad Airs. Because their boring old iPad1 (cast-off from Mum) isn't as shiny and nice. My iPad 3 is better than theirs of course, but will be rejected in preference for the newer ones...
The difference in weight between the 3, and the Airs is pretty huge. The 3 starts to feel heavy after an hour or so of reading with it. I've noticed my 3 is starting to slow down on a few of the chunkier games as well - actually it runs them fast enough, just seems to take a bit of time to load them.
So I'm jealous of the latest ones, but on the other hand, can't really justify spending all that lovely money. The 64GB is nearly £600 - for which I could get a Lenovo Yoga 10" 'Droid, an SD card to add to its 32GB of storage, and a decent new phone, and still have change for a year or two's online subscription to Netflix/Now TV/Lovefilm.
As I understand it though, all users of Windows Phone can get updates. They may not roll them out all at once to every handset, they've got rather a long schedule sometimes, but at least all handsets can potentially be updated by Microsoft.
Whereas I've been in a situation with an Android handset where the manufacturer were now selling it on a later version, but there was no update ever offered for the ones they'd already sold on the previous one.
It will be really interesting to see how the prices will change now, with a bit of competition.
The initial costs for Boeing and SpaceX I'd imagine include for a good deal of the design and factory tooling costs for the first run of capsules. Something the Russians must have paid off a loooong time ago with Soyuz.
But if SpaceX and Boeing can get this re-usability thing going, they should be able to cut those costs quite significantly. I guess they'll be flying, then dismantling, the first few vehicles. But with SpaceX able to re-use their first stages and capsules (assuming it all works), they're likely to be very competitive with everyone.
That is odd. Magic disappearing articles.
To answer your comment on the other thread though, I don't think it's 50 Dragon launches before they go for a manned mission. I think it's 50 launches of the Falcon 9 rocket. Because they also use those for satellite work too. I don't know how many launches of the new Dragon capsule will be considered enough. I'd imagine it'll have to be more than just one. And they'll have to do testing on docking with the ISS as well, as they only get close at the moment, and get pulled in by the arm.
But then the Dragon 2 is going to be very different to the Dragon 1. But they can always use it to do the cargo delivery flights too, as part of its testing. And they'll have to test the launch escape system as well, where the whold Dragon capsule abandons the rocket stack and flies off on it's own - as they don't use an escape tower.
Still it's poor form to dump on the Russians just because the US State department is having a spat.
NASA have been trying to get a shuttle replacement going for a while. This isn't a sudden thing. And they did it in a sensible order, which was to pay SpaceX to learn by delivering the dinner - where we don't care so much if it explodes - and then get them to have a go at shipping the astronauts afterwards. So far SpaceX haven't incinerated any of the dinners - although they do like to blow their rockets up at sea level afterwards, to make up for that disappointment...
Some time ago there was an article about the contenders and pricing, it was mentioned that the Russians were the low cost carrier of the three.I've not been through the figures myself, so I'm happy to be corrected, but I quote from the article:
NASA administrators said the two firms were offering a cost per astronaut of $58m per launch, while the Russians are currently charging $70m.
I believe the Russian's costs are much lower than that, but obviously they're taking a nice profit on their monopoly on manned flight to the ISS. And who can blame them. So it's perfectly possible that NASA can make savings - plus it's useful to have the ability. And NASA have been getting decvent bang-for-their-buck from SpaceX - who seem to be improving global space capability pretty damned quickly, with help from nice NASA contracts.
As for your comment on tried-and-tested, that's interesting. The Russians apparently haven't changed much in the Soyuz system, so they've obviously got a lot of experience, and good, reliable hardware. On the other hand technology has moved on a lot since then. At some point new tech may allow for considerable safety improvements - even though you obviously introduce a lot of risk by doing new things. There's a point at which one outweighs the other. Plus, with new tech we can gain new capabilities, and that may be worth some extra risk. Eventually the new stuff will be tested, at which point it gets even safer.
Also the Russians have been having quite a few failures of late. Mostly on Progress, but even minor failures on the manned flights. I wonder if they've been getting complacent (as NASA did with the shuttle after a while)? Or if they've been cutting costs - something that's likely to happen now anyway, after the rouble collapse and new Russian recession.
Then BT could change their name to British Orange T-Mobile Ofcom-do-our-bidding Telecom. Or: BOTTOM
I bloody wish! I was sent the spec for a 10 storey block of flats the other day. With gym, shops, offices and whatever. There are two 400 page documents with pointless cut & paste bits of the various regulations and standards you're supposed to comply with, picked seemingly at random and mostly irrelevant. Then there were 15 un-named folders, each containing between 10 and 30 drawings, each labelled something like A005729-v1073-Zzzzbgs75680.pdf. There's no logic to the naming scheme, it seems to be random numbers you have to check against a table of drawings, in a separate PDF that's itself 20 pages long!
Admittedly a tool to simplify all this will do no good, as the needless over-complication could already be dispensed with by just using a brain. I'm assuming the person paid to organise all the data for the project just took the money, pissed off down the pub, and employed a few chimps from London Zoo to throw it all together. Literally.
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.
To be fair, the US is just an awful lot bigger than the UK, and there's a lot fewer people per square mile - so infrastructure costs are bound to be higher. Even so, my impression is that US customers pay way over the odds, and that the US carriers are far more profitable than European ones.
But UK prices for data have pretty much halved in the last 3 years. When I first got a mobile in the mid 90s, £15 a month got you about 100 minutes of calls (you paid for the rest). The handset was an up-front £80 on a 1 year contract, and text messages were 9p each. 20 years later, things are a hell of a lot cheaper - £15 in 1995 is about £30 now.
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.
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.
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?
OK. Downvote accepted.
It was surely better than Robin Hood Prince of Thieves though - apart from anything due to not having that bloody song. Another awful film only slightly redeemed by the baddie.
Surely episode 2 is the "best" of the 3 prequels? It's got 2 enormous set-piece battles, which take up most of the time, so there's less time for George Lucas' appalling dialogue. They're quite fun. Also it isn't about taxes like the Phantom Morrass. Plus the whole film doesn't hang on Haden Christensen's acting inability, in order to convince you of his motivation to go to the dark side (like the 3rd).
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.
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.
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.
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 >.
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...
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.
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?
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"...
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
And, rather more importantly, the lack of value of France...
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?
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).
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.