* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4062 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Sardine fishing in Kerala: Who benefits from mobile phones?

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: "Absolute" poverty

scrubber,

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

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

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

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TheOtherHobbes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re: Aarrr!

nematoad,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy

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

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

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Google casts about for wireless audio

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

Colin Wilson 2,

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

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

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

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

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

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Concept OK, Execution Weak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re: Concept OK, Execution Weak

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

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

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

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

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Concept OK, Execution Weak

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

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

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

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UKIP website TAKES A KIP, but for why?

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Re: Hey 123-reg

streaky,

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

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Devil

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

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Happy

Re: It was all a ruse

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

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

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THREE MILLION Moonpig accounts exposed by flaw

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Facepalm

We're only doing what we said we would.

Why complain? It's all in our name.

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

[cue: music] Moon Pig dot com

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

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Norks SCOLD Prez Obama over Sony mega hack payback sanctions

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Mad Chaz,

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

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

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Re: the U.S. government's "inveterate repugnancy and hostility" towards Pyongyang

I also like DPRK complaining that the US is "groundlessly stirring up bad blood toward it". Given that they repreatedly threatened to nuke the USA last year (along with Japan and South Korea). Which seems just a tad more hostile to me...

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Apple's DIRTY SECRET isn't that secret, or that dirty

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Re: Who are the real beneficiaries?

DeathPumpkin,

Apple have about $700 billion of shares issued. So if they paid only $3bn of divvies, that's a paltry 0.5% return on their shareholders' investment. Meanwhile GDP per head in China is 650% higher than 15 years ago. Admittedly that's not evenly distributed. But 100m people a year have been running away from the 'idyllic' rural life of the peasantry as fast as their little legs would carry them, in order to work for long hours in China's factories. Because it's slightly (or possibly a lot) better. The next generation will do better still.

For the last 30 years, the world economy hass grown every year. The Western share of that has been ahrinking every year. And yet the western economies have grown on average every year. We've been getting a slightly bigger slice of a much bigger cake. The developing economies are getting a hugely big slice of the bigger cake. Hoorray! Everyone is winning. Well at least on average.

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Hipsters ahoy! Top Ten BOARD games for festive family fun

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I want Space Crusade. Picked up 2 copies and the Dreadnought expansion for a bargain-tastic total of £20, when Tesco decided they needed the space. Sadly my brother later borrowed them, and lost them.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Can anyone recommend a starter gamer for 9yr old?

I'do not realised, you can still get a truly brilliant game. It's called Bausack.

It's great because it works on so many levels. It's basically a bag of wooden blocks. With which you have to build a tower. You can either play with kids to build the highest tower, or as a nasty game where you have to pay to get rid of really difficult pieces. But you're in trouble once you run out of money, because your friends can lumber you with the worst pieces. However this is when the game gets better. Even the worst pieces have at least one flat spot so it's possible to build ludicrous towers, when everyone expected you to go out several rounds ago.

There's a couple of other games as well. This game brings out the inner child who wants to build blocks in most adults. So while the gamers are enjoying the auction side of things, non-gamers just hav3 fun playing Bob the Builder.

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Re: Can anyone recommend a starter gamer for 9yr old?

Monkeyman,

For a cheap quick cardgame there's Munchkin or Braggart. Both are quite silly/fun, although Braggart at least probably wants more than 2 players.

Another multi-player cheapy cardgame is No Thanks. It's quick, so if you cock it up you soon get another go to get your revenge. It's a reverse auction where you're paying to not get bad cards, but eventually have to take something nasty - lest you end up with worse. Again though, not 2 player, needs bigger groups.

There's a bunch of cooperative games. Flashpoint (firemen), Outbreak (fighting plague) or back to being stupid there's Red November - where you're drunk gnomes trying to save your sinking nuclear sub. Co-ops are good as teaching aids, as it's you against the system, and it's not so bad losing, as you lose together. The danger is that players can find themselves dominated, and effectively being told what to do, if they're not careful. Which becomes dull.

Ticket to Ride is always regarded as a popular starter game. I don't know if you can still get the old games like Spacehulk, but things like that and Bloodbowl with nice minatures are fun.

Claustrophobia is good. You've got nice pieces, it's two player one as the goodies and one as the demonic dungeon master. And you build the map as you play, as well as having at least ten different scenarios. So it's got good replayability. And what's not to like about slaughtering knights with hordes of demons...

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Re: Escape from...

Is Escape from Colditz any good then? I picked up a 2nd hand copy years ago, out of pure childhood nostalgia. But I got the impression that it wasn't all that good. Should I dig it out and persuade a few victims friends to play?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Oooooh... pretty!

If he likes that, try him on Braggart. Utterly stupid game, but funny. Even competitive people tend to play it more for laughs than points. Although I think it really needs at least 4 players. And the game aspect seems to work properly too, even when you do play for points.

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The Shock of the New: The Register redesign update 4

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Re: Update 3

Did you not get the singing cuddly vulture delivered by UPS yesterday? It explains the corporate rationale for the redesign, sings we wish you a Merry Christmas, and then updates you on version 3.

I thought everyone had got it.

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Judge spanks SCO in ancient ownership of Unix lawsuit

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Linux

Re: time to die

You cannot kill SCO! Darl is... [cue music] ... The McBride of Dracula! Mwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

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Re: Who'd'a thunk it

Are you sure? I always thought that cockroaches were expected to survive nuclear armageddon, and replace us?

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Re: Good gawd/ess.

One clinical sign of lawyerdom is doing the same thing over and over (and over) again, each time expecting any old result, so long as you keep on getting paid... Just sayin'

jake,

I hope you don't mind it I do a little editing to improve your text...

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Johnson & Johnson snatches your .baby for $3m

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Devil

Re: " So far ICANN has pocketed over $30m in auction fees...

Interestingly ICANN has just held an auction for awarded itself .bonus.

Various corporate institutions are very sad to have lost the opportunity to have this gTLD. However after deciding between keeping fat.bonus, undeserved.bonus and fuck-you.bonus, ICANN are planning to make some extra.bonus by selling .bonus registrations to banks, global corporations and FIFA.

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How much for a wrist job? A tenner normally, but for this one, over $30k

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Devil

Re: Hmmmm...

And Snow Tigerskin carpeting

How common! All my furniture is uphostered in only the finest pandaskin.

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Happy

Re: We aren't going to make it, are we?

Oh I don't know. There's hope. Maybe in twenty years Harrods will sell you the very latest Dragon XX Weekender - for his 'n' hers special weekend spacejaunts. But if that's too common for you, you'll be able to have a special version (for 50 times the price) in all black with black buttons and a black light to light up black and tell you when you've pressed them.

Plus diamond-encrusted flying cars and solid gold personal robots to do your cooking and washing up.

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TALE OF FAIL: Microsoft offers blow-by-blow Azure outage account

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P. Lee,

We're a small company. Fewer than 10 people. We have no IT people (I'm strictly an amateur), and with two people on the road, and several working at least as much from home as the office.

So anything we do in-house would need to involve paying someone competent to set up and manage it. I can do a bunch of stuff, and the internet means I can work out a lot of the rest - however unskilled but vaguely competent isn't really good enough.

For companies like us the cloud is amazing. There are all sorts of things like CRM that we couldn't have dreamed of doing 15 years ago, and when we looked at it 10 years ago were prohibitively expensive. There are various risks with cloud providers, but these are no worse than the risks of us (basically me) buggering up running our own server(s).

So cloudy accounts and payroll for the 2 of us who need it. CRM that we can all access, including from mobiles / tablets. Office 365 - so we've got linked diaries and our CRM can link our emails in. And all for less than £4k a year. Chuck in 1 or 2 new laptops a year and that's an amazing IT budget for what we get.

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We went with a cloudy online accounts package. Not picked by me, but I did a bit of research, and was not impressed to find they'd had an outage the previous year, where they'd not only been down for about 4 days, but also lost a couple of previous days work for clients. I'm guessing the incremental backups were buggered too, so they had to go back to a full one. That could actually be hard to fix, if you don't know exactly what you input when - and you've filed the paperwork as you input it.

The reason I didn't object is that they had a full post-mortem. They'd published what was happening at the time, then had blog posts every week or so for the next few months, with what had gone wrong, why, what mistakes they'd made, what they were thinking of doing to stop it in future, and then what progress they were making on setting up their systems.

It was because they'd started small, grown, then not upped the IT to match the new business. It was impressive enough that we went with them. Any cloudy accounts is a risk, but ours are simple enough that we can rebuild from our locally held copy of their backup (something they introduced after the fiasco) - and it wouldn't actually be that expensive to rebuild from the filed paperwork.

Actually they're now several years from doomsday, so I wonder if complacency will be kicking in again, and we should move to another supplier who's just had a major cock-up themselves and is now in full repentance mode?

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Scrooges rejoice! Beancounters find formula for perfect Xmas party

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Devil

Re: No names but....

+1 upvote but you failed to mention "shareholder value"

It has come to our attention at I ain't Spatacus that a few of our customers may have been affected by an omission from our previous statement. Mistakes may have been made and we would like to offer our apologies to those few people who may have been affected. I would like to assure all stakeholders that lessons have been learned, and that these learnings will be ongoing into the future in order to ensure that such problems cannot occur again. Thus increasing shareholder value and customer takeaway.

[Better? Bleurgh!]

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Happy

Re: What the sam hell is cracker pulling?

After consuming sufficient alcohol to be able to break the social bonds, but not so much as to be unable to excercise judgement, if one manages to leave the pub with a sexually attractive person one didn't arrive with - one is said to have "pulled a cracker".

I wasn't aware that they were delived to Christmas parties in boxes before, but our laws are becoming ever more liberal, so I'm not entirely surprised.

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Devil

Re: No names but....

But in a yuletide celebratory scenario such as this, one has to leverage the synergistic opportunities presented to the management team of the gathering of all the drones human resource units in one location space. This can be bootstrapped as a valuable engagement and learning enviornment to build both excellent intra-team and inter-departmental communication and understanding. Adding in an extra management protocol of cracker gamification, intensifies the strategic impact for only a small extra resource input.

[I feel soiled now]

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Friday: SpaceX will attempt to land rocket on floating, robotic 'spaceport drone ship'

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Re: After landing

In one sense, it doesn't matter. If they can land a few rockets on a plaform successfully, they'll soon get permission for landing on dry land. And won't have to worry any more.

Obviously they'd like the rockets to survive, so they can play with them, or even re-launch one.

They could use those harpoons that helicopters do when they land on ships. But it's probably quite hard to recruit a crew to volunteer to sit on the platform and tie it down. If it doesn't blow up first.

They'll have to hope for the right weather. And presumably they can board the platform afterwards, and secure it. Assuming the weather holds out. But the landing legs are 70 feet across. and seeing as the fuel tanks will be empty, and the upper stages are in space, the rocket should be quite bottom heavy.

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Re: Fingers crossed...

I still like Elon Musk's twitter comment on the last landing (sea-ing?) test - where he said something like, the rocket wasn't able to remain vertical on entering the sea, so structual integrity was lost - i.e. KABOOM!

If there's one thing that we should know to expect from rocket tests by now, it's KABOOM! Rockets are really good at going bang.

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American bacon cured with AR-15 assault rifle

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Re: Bah!

Did you see the pictures? It looked like one of those air-fresheners you see hanging in the front of taxis. Cardboard, but with a slight aroma of somethingorother.

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Deprivation Britain: 1930s all over again? Codswallop!

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Re: When I were a lad...

Easy! In my day we had to punch it onto cards, then post it off to t'data centre to be run on t'central computer.

etc. etc. etc.

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Happy

Re: When I were a lad...

Pah! You've got it easy! In my day we had it much tougher. You couldn't just go online and copy Pytho scripts of t'interwebs. You had to type them in manually. From memory.

Also, I don't hold with all this sex on television. I keep falling off...

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Re: "We may not be doing all that well but we're a damn sight richer than our grandparents were. "

Most of them rented, and also slept several to a bed, let alone a bedroom. As well as outdoor toilets, no bathrooms and no central heating. Not to mention rickets, TB, polio, no antibiotics, limited healthcare...

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Screwball ruble closes Apple's Russia store, whole kit and caboodle

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Paris Hilton

Re: On a more serious note...

ZanzibarRastapopulous,

Not sure why you choose to advertise your short attention span, and/or lack of ability to comprehend complex arguments. But whatever floats your boat...

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Re: One-to-One?

(Not quite as extreme as a DEC salesman who told someone trying to order a microvax that for the job they wanted it for then a cheap PC plus an Ethernet card was a better solution and there was no need to buy anything from him)

I do that all the time. I believe in some sales training they call it the difference between farmers and hunters. Or some such bollocks.

We as a company are trying to maintain a reputation. Thus lots of people phone me with technical questions about how to do stuff legally and safely (I'm in the water industry). If we have a product to help, I can then try to get them to buy it. Our reputation for technical competence means we can get away with selling some stuff more expensively than our competitors (so it does the job properly and doesn't have to be built down to a price), although quite a lot of our stuff is unique.

It gets people coming back. Probably it gives people confidence that I know what I'm talking about, if I'm not bullshitting to get them to buy something all the time. Selling is what you do when you know what the project actually requires, and are now getting down to how much to pay for whatever solution they've picked. It's either that or my wonderful personality... [insert simley face here]

On some of our stuff we compete on price on commodity hardware, which is a bit different.

The friend of mine who had the sales training about hunters and farmers worked for Computer Associates (before they were CA). They were definitely Hunters. I don't think having happy customers who'd want to come back was an objective of theirs. Although I'm not so sure about tying unhappy customers into long contracts...

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Re: On a more serious note...

...how's this likely to affect the IISS recrewing and supply missions

Roger Stenning,

They apparently get lots of their parts from abroad now. The space industry supply chain is much more international than it was 20 years ago. I guess that was one of the aims of the ISS project?

But that's OK. As they also get paid in foriegn currency for foreign astronauts. So they can buy those parts with that hard currency, and then when they convert the remainder to devalued Roubles to buy the Russian bits of the rockets, they get a huge extra boost of spending power.

This leads me to think they'll stay with the ISS program, as it gives them good publicity, prestige and hard currency. That also subsidises Roscosmos, and helps pay for now expensive foreign rocket parts for the military side of space. I guess they can also start producing more of their own parrts again, as it'll now be cheaper to produce in Russia. And it's not as if they don't still have the skills.

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Re: On a more serious note...

What a load of old tosh!

Fistly the Rusian ecnomy isn't all that big, compared to the rest of the world. In normal times a collapse like this would be only a tiny blip. In these fevered times it's possible that it could start an emerging market meltdown, that plunges the world back into recession. On the other hand, there was always going to be a withdrawal of liquidity from emerging markets, because the US have stopped doing QE. This has been happening for months, with the odd big blip in the market, but so far no collapse. What makes things easier now is that the oil price has collapsed. So although Turkey is getting hit now, it will probably recover, because its oil is only costing half as much, and it's able to produce lots of exports. Whereas 70% of Russia's exports are oil/gas, and that's just halved in value. So they've taken a 35% hit in export value over about 3 months. Painful. Not to mention that Russia's main gas market (the EU) has cut it's demand for Russian gas by a third this year, as liquid natural gas has got cheaper and more plentiful, and trust in Russia has collapsed.

There is a problem for emerging market countries that have heavily borrowed in dollars, while they were cheap, as the dollar is now heading north, so repaying their loans will cost more. Russia being one of these countries. That's one of the main worries about the global economy - after the continuing Eurozone clusterfuck.

But the economic impact of Russia's problems on the EU is minimal. Germany is the biggest trading partner. I really can't see Russian problems causing China anything more than a blip.

As for sanctions ending cooperation, I doubt it. This crisis should be reinforcing to the Russian government that they actually need the West. They chose to align their economy more with the international one, after the Soviet experiment in going it alone turned out not to work so well. They've done quite well out of it, and this is a good sign of the costs of saying fuck-you to everyone else. Whether that's a sign Putin and co will choose to ignore, I can't judge. I used to think he was a very rational calculator - but his actions in the Ukraine looked like some pretty short-termist gambling, that's turned out horribly badly. So maybe he's not so rational after all?

Anyway the Russians like their imports now. So they'll probably want hard currency. And the ISS gives them hard currency, while supporting their hi-tech space industry. Apparently that now uses a lot of foreign-made parts, which have just doubled in price. So the ISS cash ought to be welcome. The profit on that has just also doubled, as they get paid in hard currency, so can buy the parts, but then that gets twice as many roubles, so can give all their suppliers and staff a pay rise (to cushion inflation), whilst still improving profits. Exports are yummy when your currency collapses, and not to be lightly spurned.

As for sanctions, even the new ones Congress have passed are all still pretty minor. The US and EU have been very careful to only use the most limited sanctions, to make a point. They didn't aim to have this catastrophic effect (even though they always could have), but to ramp up the pressure slowly and give Putin space and time to back down. A lot of what Congress has passed gives Obama the power to impose new sanctions, which he doesn't have to use. In my opinion it would be worth offering Russia a deal to help prop up the Rouble now. The problem is Putin has lied and broken so many deals over Ukraine, that it's hard (probably pointless) to give him the reward before he's actually delievered on the promise. I guess we could just do it anyway, and hope for the best - and it's also a good way of giving confidence in the other emerging markets under attack.

By the way, we didn't sponsor the Chechen fighters. The West were specifically also worried about islamist fighters training in Chechenya - which is why we didn't protest about the hideous Russian human rights abuses there (which made Iraq look like a picnic in comparison). There was a hell of a lot of security cooperation with Russia (particularly in Central Asia), as the US in particular were keen to build a closer relationship with Russia, precisely so this kind of stuff didn't end up happening. The Russians created their own terrorist problem in Chechenya with no help from anyone else at all. Although I'm sure the usual suspects in the Middle East were funding the jihadis, as have been in Pakistan, Syria, Libya etc.

I would not like to think what will emerge now and frankly he was spot on in his interview at the 20 summit in Melbourn - some people are playing with fire without understanding the full consequences of what they are doing.

That is certainly true. Putin has now invaded two of his neighbours and effectively annexed some of their territory. In the case of Crimea, explicitly so. And that's something that's not happened in Europe since WWII. Even the Germans, who's foreign policy consensus has been built on trying to build bridges with Russia since the 1960s, have taken a step back and decided to try another tack.

Putin has crossed a line from being prickly, hard to deal with and (possibly over-) protective of Russian interests - to looking like an outright threat to the territorial integrity of some of his neighbours. And we have military alliances with some of them. He's also playing with fire diplomatically by doing stupid things like lying about using Russian troops to annex Crimea and in Ukraine. Then doing deals on ceasefires, while sending in more troops and arms and lying about it. This is the worst kind of Kevin-the-teenager type of diplomacy. Perhaps he thinks it's funny to face people down and outright lie to their faces. But how do you make peace with people who can't trust you? If you break treaties and agreements then no-one will give you a concession before you've delivered on your half of the bargain first. And this is very hard to stomach and embarrassing. And embarrassment is something that dictators can't take much of, because dictators maintain their power by the illusion of invincibility. Once that goes, no-one's scared of the threats any more. And then you can no longer make the odd example, you have to go and massacre or imprison thousands of people in order to stay in power. And that's bad for the self-image. If you're still playing the democrat, father of the nation role (and after all he can probably still genuinely win elections), it really hurts the self image to have to send in the troops to stay in charge. Also trust is vital in economics too, not just diplomacy. And Putin's regime aren't trusted. That's why the rouble collapse. Everyone wants to get their money out of Russia, where it's safe from being stolen.

I always thought Putin was Bismarck. Not a believer in democracy, but willing to use it, and subvert it just enough to stay comfortably in power. While keeping the people on-side with a mix of nationalism and improving the economy. Also a rational and seasoned political / diplomatic operator. That was certainly the mark of his first 2 terms as President. Now he seems to have lost the plot.

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Dr. Dobb's Journal sails into the sunset - yet again

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Re: Ah the nostalgia!

I think I preferred PCW. But when I bought my first PC, I had one of each. My brother and I sat in his room for a whole evening going through all 600 pages of ads (one magazine each), finding the likely ones, then compared notes at the end for the cheapest.

I seem to remember there was about 100 pages of content, and variable many hundred pages of ads. Plus the ones that had little postcards or discs stuck to their ad page, so the magazine would fall open to theirs first. You used to have to shake out all the leaflets, and remove those stuck in bits, before you could read it easily. And people say banner ads on websites are annoying...

P.S. - we need a nostalgia icon. Perhaps a pile of punch cards sat next to a cup of Ovaltine and a packet of Spangles?

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Re: Ah the nostalgia!

Happy days. When buying a PC online meant reading through 500 pages of adverts in PCW - then faxing / phoning an order through. My first PC was an Ambra - which was IBMs attempt to have a cheap consumer PC brand while still selling more expensive machines to businesses. 386SX at 25mhz, with 2MB of RAM and a 40MB hard drive. Ah nostalgia. I found my copy of Elite the other day, wonder if I could run it in DOSbox? If I still have a floppy drive somewhere?

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ASA slaps Ebuyer AGAIN - this time for ignoring regulator

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Re: What's the next level below Toothless Tiger?

There is an ultimate sanction. Because the ASA can say you're not fit to advertise without your ads bein pre-screened. Then everyone who's anyone in the advertising industry won't show their ads.

However they always seem very reluctant to use this power. And I'm not sure how effective it is anymore, as it probably doesn't apply so well online. I don't know if eBuyer do much press/radio/TV advertising.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

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Re: Designed by the monster behind this site.....

Martin-73,

Erk! AOL. I had to log into an AOL email account yesterday. Fixing a friend's pooter, and he's still got the old AOL account, and I didn't know where a password reminder was going to end up.

Truly their homepage is a horrific mess. Not quite as eye-watering as the other site, but close. The only thing on there that's subtle is the link to the webmail interface, which is exceedingly small, and well-hidden. Ugh!

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Re: Designed by the monster behind this site.....

I love that website! It's vibrant and cheerful. You have to click on Mr Punch to get to the next page. And I haven't seen so much purple and yellow capital letters on a page, since the 1990s.

It's awesome!

Oh sorry, that's a typo. I meant awful. I wish I'd put my shades on first. But it was a nice bit of nostalgia. I'm still waiting for El Reg to let us use the <blink> tag...

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