73 posts • joined 30 Jun 2009
Re: On handguns
Not in the EU :P
Actually, a lot of EU countries have much less restrictive handgun laws than the UK (France, for example).
Like the author, we tend to forget this, as there don't seem to be any Europeans who are fanatically devoted to a perceived "right" to bear arms as an insurance policy against oppressive government or invasion (despite having far more historical justification for having such devotion).
Re: The key to this is in the final para
Google seems to have spent much of its time in Court arguing that it wasn't subject to the jurisdiction of the CJEU as it wasn't in Europe. It said that its servers were all in the US and therefore it couldn't be touched (presumably if/when it did build those big server boats we were briefly reading about and sent them into international waters it would've tried to pretend that even US law couldn't touch it).
This was flatly rejected as the Court pointed out that Google sold google.es ad space that was targetted at Spanish users and sold to Spanish businesses. If it does the same thing with its .com offering (and it looks like it does- I just used google.com and found that the sponsored ads were largely coming from UK businesses) then it seems to me that it would fail to convince the Court that it's not operating in the EU for exactly the same reasons that it failed to convince them on google.es.
Re: Built for America
Sight isn't everything though. When I was 17, I had better eyesight than I do today*. Was I a better driver then? Hell no.
*it's still better than 20/20 in case anyone from the DVLA is reading this
Built for America
A lot of what I read about Google's miracle car suggests that it's been designed very much for American roads. More specifically the wide, ruler-straight, multi-lane (even in the middle of towns), low speed roads of southern California, with a ban on jaywalking and a separate lane for cyclists most of the time.
When you drive down the street in Mountain View, people *do* wait a second from the lights turning green before they go. You *can* overtake a snake of cars, because you've usually got an empty overtaking lane to use. You almost always are in reach of mobile data access, because there's wifi dripping (metaphorically) from the lamp posts.
To be fair, a two year old could drive on these roads. A driverless car is a much harder proposition pretty much everywhere else in the world. I imagine these autodrivers will be worse than useless outside of their native environment, and given that we haven't heard that they've been taken on the backroads or on a narrow, twisty turny good old-fashioned European street, I suspect that Google agree with me.
So go on Google, show us a driverless car negotiating the Paris rush hour. *Then* we'll buy it.
@John Smith 19
I should clarify here, and also apologise for being less than clear before.
My understanding is that the 40 year figure relates to our *current* level of gas demand, i.e. the gas that we currently use. The government has suggested that we should be getting more of our energy from gas and less from other sources. Gas is currently around 30% of our current electricity usage- this proportion is only going to increase as it replaces coal and nuclear. Also, if electric cars (and other technologies that use electricity rather than combustion) take off, more of our energy usage will come from the grid. I think it's clear that we will be using much more gas than we currently are if the government gets its way, meaning that what's in the ground won't last anything like 40 years.
When I say "a few" years, I mean "less than the life expectancy of a power station". A power station is built to last for up to 40 years- I don't think that the shale gas will last this long in the circumstances, even if we do manage to get as much of it out the ground as the most optimistic report published so far suggests we could.
2015? It's already too late then.
Currently, the fracking being done in the UK is for exploration rather than commercial exploitation. Assuming that the exploratory wells confirm what we think we already know, commercialising those wells will take longer than 2015/16.
The amount of shale gas in the UK is tiny- what we think is there could sustain our energy needs for a few years, nothing more. The real reason the UK government is so keen is because it would see much of the revenue from what came out the ground in the form of tax.
Furthermore, the upcoming power cut issue is more to do with plants (mostly the older coal-fired plants)being decommissioned before new, cleaner, plants take their place (we prevaricated over what to build for too long), not to do with running out of gas. Car crash it may be, but it's not one we can frack our way out of.
Re: Will the free market come to the rescue?
There's an interesting question hanging in the air of what the cable providers will do once TV on demand becomes properly widespread (while on demand is no longer exclusively the domain of the early adopter, I don't see my parents or grandparents taking it up any time soon).
Right now, cable subscriptions provide a large, predictable and presumably high-margin slice of revenue. Especially compared to what on-demand costs. This is even true in the UK- NowTV gives you what you'd actually want from a Sky subscription, at a fraction of the cost and (so far) with no ads. Interestingly, it's done by Sky (presumably they're of the view that the service competes with piracy and Netflix/Amazon rather than cannibalising existing subscribers). In a rational universe, the vast majority of people with a decent broadband connection would be binning their dishes and £50 p.m. TV contracts for the cheaper service.
But if everyone does this, providers will have much less revenue to play with- and what they've got coming in now doesn't go into a Scrooge McDuck-style money bin. Weaning these organisations off the money fountain that Cable TV has been for the past few decades is going to be painful for them (even if the revenue lost is just being spent on inefficiencies right now). This looks like a motive for 1) throttling and 2) (when you can't throttle) replacing the revenue stream with a levy on Netflix.
I'm not condoning throttling (quite the opposite) but I can see why they'd want to do it.
Not human rights from the European Convention on Human Rights, but fundamental rights and freedoms from the EU charter.
One's from the Council of Europe (not the EU) and is all that Human Rights stuff you're always reading about in the tabloids (hilariously, Russia is a signatory to the ECHR- some of the cases that get to Strasbourg from there are incredible).
The other is a similar charter that the EU has put together which contains all the ECHR rights but also some special rights of its own, which are a bit more up to date (while the ECHR is a post war creation the charter is from 2000). One of these rights is the right to data protection (really, Article 8 isn't a general privacy right, it's right to personal data protection). There's also a right to education and a right to science (this one is far more interesting when it's not explained).
Re: Funny How Times Change Innit
This would be the same Lord Denning who refused to hear allegations of police brutality in court as they would undermine faith in the justice system if proven correct. And the same one who didn't want ethnic minorities to serve on juries.
Denning was a great champion of liberty and justice but only for those he saw as the right sort. I suspect that he would have been absolutely fine with the state coming down on a foreigner without an NUJ card.
If you head on over to the FT, there are a load of Surface fans making the case for it as a business tablet, with its Office support and serious keyboard.
Unfortunately, Microsoft tried to pitch it as a direct competitor to the Android and Apple recreational machines, with happy clappy college students rather than middled aged people in suits who wanted a new way to flick through a spreadsheet on the sofa.
Right product, wrong target. Yes, there were other problems (e.g. the ARM/x86 issue), but I wonder whether in a parallel universe they couldn't have hacked it out a niche as the go-to corpo-slab.
Re: Wait a minute
I get the feeling that the bods at GCHQ had got fed up of their tech-illiterate superiors' demands for them to "destroy teh files" and carried out their instructions to the letter, just to shut them up.
Something tells me that, if this did come in, we'd find that half the internet lived at 221b Baker Street, 10 Downing Street, 6500 Pennsylvania Ave and a handful of other famous addresses.
Shotgun 29 Acacia Road, Nuttytown (Bananaman's house).
"Probably", yes. But there are many, many more police officers with access to the PNC than officers of the RSPCA so that's not really the issue, is it?
The real questions about potential abuse of the PNC by members of the RSPCA are: 1) is the rate of abuse greater per user than among the police?; and 2) what is done to prevent and punish abuses of the system?
Unfortunately, given the complete lack of scrutiny suggested in El Reg's report the answers seem to be 1) there's no way to find out; and 2) nothing. The second answer is especially worrying.
It's also because the businesses have studied priracy and pirates' attitudes extensively and come to the conclusion that cracking down on downloaders themselves actually *decreases* legal sales, as the downloaders (unsurprisingly) react to it with hostility and know that their individual risk of getting caught is virtually zero.
Also, they're too busy going after the people who pirate *and* charge for their bootlegged content (whether through adverts or otherwise).
Re: New 4-in-1 Bold washes whiter
"He would say that wouldn't he" was rubbish when it was coined (Rice-Davies now appears to have been lying) and is a lazy way of dismissing someone without properly looking at their research and critiquing that.
the Headlines/court cases of tomorrow
If it's anything like O2's current mobile network blocker, it'll restrict a lot of sites without a trace of p0rn on them as well. Even a nun (was going to say priest, but bad example) would need to ask for the block to be taken down for the full browsing experience.
Of course, once the filters are in place you'll have tabloid headlines of "TV personality/school teacher gets dirty internet [sic]", taken from the inevitable leaked lists.
Far more worryingly, there's a very good chance that prosecutors would seek to have how a defendant's internet filter is set up put entered as evidence and an even greater one that the police would see an opt-out as grounds for suspicion. "He's gets teh p0rn, he must be a bad 'un!"
And all because our politicians are too gutless to tell Joe Public and the Daily Fail that, if someone's too stupid to be able to tick a box and opt in to the blocking if they want it, then they probably can't be trusted with the magic box powered by sparks that gives them the internet in the first place.
If only there was some kind of forum in which the select committee could make their opinions felt. You know, some kind of chamber, in which the members wrote laws, debated them and then, having voted on them, brought those laws into force.
Hearing an MP bleat about bad tax laws without suggesting amendments to those laws is like hearing someone who's just torched your sofa complain that it's hot in here.
Yep, funnily enough, if you confiscate all of the wealth from a significant chunk of your population and default on your debts (when no one's lending to you anyway), you'll suddenly find yourself flush with cash.
And, if you drive an even larger chunk of your population out of work (they drove women out of work as well as people from races they didn't like) then your official unemployment figures will improve.
Two one off ways of creating sudden windfalls that make you look like a genius, provided no one's actually paying attention, but which are actually extremely destructive in the long term (like the Romans, their economic policy was so inefficient that they would have faced economic ruin had they not tried to steal more stuff from their neighbours).
Re: 76 officers in London have been investigated
Indeed- I'd also bet that the number of people actually abusing the PNC has probably gone *down* rather than up, as a result of it becoming more traceable and more of a priority.
Doesn't make it any less outrageous- indeed, the fact that so many are being caught for it suggests that it's ingrained in the culture.
Re: Held prisoner at work?
There's also the issue of oil rigs, mines and similar, where it's very difficult to allow the employee to leave safely, whether or not their shift is over.
There's a very old Court case (from the 1910s) where someone quit on the spot while at the bottom of a mine shaft (it was never revealed why he waited until he was hundreds of metres underground to decide that this wasn't the line of work for him). Essentially, he accused his employers of illegally detaining him until the end of the shift (which was the earliest time the lifts became free for people rather than coal). Long story short, he failed as there was a good enough reason to keep him down there for the day.
Re: Sublimed? That was the theme of the Hydrogen Sonata
The was a certain film-like quality to his descriptions. But, on the other hand, a large part of his skill at description was in describing things that couldn't be filmed and shown to human-basics such as ourselves in a form we'd be able to comprehend: seven dimensional hyperspace, battles lasting nanoseconds, solar system-sized megastructures...
Surface Detail has raised some interesting issues on what it might be like to be made immortal through technology. Hydrogen Sonata did the same on the idea of what you might do when your civilisation runs out of steam on this plane of existence (as well as briefly raising the suggesting why the Minds are so keen on keeping the humans around).
While it's a shame not to see these ideas come to fruition, I'm grateful for them having been brought up in the first place. Thank you, Iain (M) Banks.
Depends on how it's written. Whether or not an agreement is against competition law comes down to whether or not it has the object or effect of reducing competition (that's the UK/EU wording- in the US, it's an "unreasonable restraint" that's then clarified much more wordily, but for the sake of this thread it's basically the same rule).
If the MFN clause says something like "we will pay you X and you can't offer your products for less than X to anyone else", then that's likely to be price fixing. There are some exceptions to this general rule (for example if the MFN promoted competition e.g. through the buyer opening up a new market in return for getting the best price for a limited amount of time), so even if there was a clause like this in Apple's agreement, they've not necessarily been caught out.
If the MFN clause says "we will pay you X, but if you offer a lower price to anyone else then you have to offer it to us as well", then it's not usually price fixing. You're not restricting competition here, you're just making sure that you're getting a good price.
Re: How to save the high street
Very much in agreement on the "knowing how electronics work", or anything else for that matter, point. A lot of the places that have gone titsup are those that I remember going into only to find that the staff knew absolutely nothing about what they were selling. In situations like that, there's no point in making the trip and paying the premium over online.
You never hear about Richer Sounds being about to go under and from what I can tell, they seem to be bucking the trend. This might be to do with the staff actually knowing (and caring) about the products.
Unenforceable... unless you're after someone
Ridiculously vague offences that you couldn't possibly enforce even-handedly if you tried* are the wannbe totalitarian's wet dream.
Found someone you don't like, but can't pin any real crimes on them? Then trawl their computer for something vaguely hateful on their internet history, along with any material "useful" to a terrorist you can find (like photos of St Paul's Cathedral, based on previous reports).
As we saw with the failed prosecutions for the extreme p0rn offences, it's only once the police have been all over someone they don't like and found nothing else that they reach into the back drawer for the vague wrongspeak crimes. That's not law enforcement, that's cutting criminal justice to fit the offender.
*If Ofcom's having trouble with TV companies broadcasting in foreign language as this report suggests, then it's reasonable to assume that for every one incident they find, there are several more that they haven't. The only way you'd do it on the internet IRL is if you target someone unfairly (if you had anything concrete enough to make it fair, you'd have bust them for that already).
Re: This Morning
I was referring to Newsnight on the BBC (which didn't name McAlpine but gave enough info for him to be identified). I know This Morning is on ITV, had it been on the Beeb, there'd have been calls for the DG's head.
Quite how Schofield has been able to get off so much more lightly than Bercow and the Beeb with his moronic stunt on This Morning is beyond me.
The Beeb took some precautions (although not enough) and as is now the custom has to bow and scrape for its mistakes, while Bercow was a twit but only in the moment. Schofield's stunt has wasn't just idiocy, it was pre-planned and possibly pre-cleared idiocy without any sign of caution. Much worse IMHO.
Gordon the Gopher must be able to pull some serious strings.
Re: Don't buy an Xbox One
Sounds like there's no real difference between the control you have over the library sitting on your hard drive and the control you have over the cache you built up while using a streaming service.
What we thought was a download and buy service actually turned out just to be a really inefficient streaming service.
Why would a first class graduate ever settle for the £22k....?
The only way would be if he/she felt like a valued employee, had a share of the equity and/or got something else that working for your own startup traditionally is supposed to offer over working for a big company.
Suspect that many of the real life Lord Bongs might have different ideas on how to treat the people who merely "implement" their "vision".
Re: London centric obsessing
Indeed. In some ways, the last thing the UK needs is another industry firmly rooted within the North Circular.
OK, you're closer to the banks and the venture capitalists, but presumably they can afford to get on a train. Cambridge, Manchester and Edinburgh have much more space and (especially for Manchester) much more of a need for Westminster to take an interest in somewhere outside the South East for once.
Re: Also consider
Then again, a couple of months ago I visited some friends who live in Mountain View (one works in tech, the other at Stamford) and the rent is similarly crazy in what (at first) looks like a much more suburban area. When you factor in the telephone number healthcare costs (given that you're fired at will and insurance won't cover an awful lot of stuff, they've also been cautious and set aside a big wedge for unexpected crises in this area) and surprisingly similar overall tax rate, the cost o' living as a function of the salary isn't all that different.
Not saying that the rent isn't too damn high (as a Londoner, I can assure you that it is), just saying that Silicon Valley (if that's who we're trying to benchmark against) seems to have exactly the same problem.
Oh dear, does the site have a helpline listed that you can call instead?
Re: @ First Direct have it right...
This is when you deploy Plan B- use linkedin to look up senior management and then work out their email addresses on a firstname.lastname@domain basis.
The other week a friend of mind did this with a well-known UK retailer and found to his surprise and delight that the CEO had left his mobile phone number on his vacation response.
Funnily enough, the friend's complaint was sorted out very soon after.
Re: Nice work!
Has El Reg determined whose shirts he wears?
Re: Not just Apple
Purchases of assets in a single transaction or linked transactions totally over €15,000 trigger anti-money laundering rules (as you can launder your dirty cash through buying up shiny things and then selling them on eBay etc). Once that happens, you have to check up on who the customer is.
I suspect that someone at apple (and your charm company) has overreacted to the theoretical risk that someone might buy an iPhone every day for a month without the company noticing and decided to go overboard and check *everyone*.
Sadly, whoever has made this decision has calculated that they'll suffer less for inconveniencing everyone and grabbing their personal data unnecessarily than they will in the unlikely event they get done for failing to prevent money laundering.
Re: Its time to celebrate!
I came here to drink milk and kick ass. And I've just finished my milk.
[There's no milk icon]
I suspect that they're merely humouring each Home Secretary each time this comes up, safe in the knowledge that each minister won't last long enough in the job to chase them up on it.
Could've been worse, Theresa May could well have demanded Batman's sonar phones from the Dark Knight.
Re: Argos catalogue is a great example of something that should be archived
IMHO, it's the most mundane stuff (at the time) that tends to be the most interesting now. The BFI projected some films of London streets 100 years ago a few years back at Trafalgar Square. The way the streets have changed and not changed (tram tracks, horse drawn buses and signalmen on every corner have vanished without trace, other things remain virtually unchanged), was absolutely fascinating.
It was also something that people at the time tended not to bother filming because they considered it so ordinary and so the footage is extremely rare. There was an El Reg article a few days ago about how we don't have the very first version of the very first website (although still an impressive effort retrieving what they've found given the circumstances) and have to make do with a later iteration. I guess we just don't appreciate history while it's current.
Re: Warning, Rant incoming...
I don't think that site is being preserved for its value as a historical account. Instead it sounds like it's being preserved as an example of biased history-telling from our period.
Our knowledge of the period and how things developed will change as more comes out of the archives and we're able to get some distance and perhaps a bit better perspective on the era. What won't change however is how that story was told in 2013 and how it had a bearing on the contemporary culture. In that respect, I wonder if the Derry website is in fact more valuable for preservation than the University of Ulster's.
Re: Death of investigative journalism...
Demands of the news cycle I think- it has to be got out quickly and it has to be got out cheaply. When those are the primary goals, taking the time to investigate goes out the window. TV overcomes it occasionally with programmes that specialise in in-depth reports (e.g. Panorama) but occasionally they get it really wrong, partly I think as a result of a lack of specialist knowledge.
El Reg sometimes breaks the cycle too, e.g. with Lewis' articles on military spending. I suspect however that this is more of a happy coincidence and that he wasn't originally employed to write these articles and might not be paid extra to take the time to do the research. (I hope I'm wrong- Reg, give him money if I'm right!)
One interesting thing happening in the legal world at the moment is that a lot of barristers (partly to market themselves and partly because they're pissed off with the seemingly deliberate misinterpretation by the MSM of certain cases) are writing some really good explanatory pieces on legal news. Trouble is, they're not journos by trade and have an insiders' perspective (you won't find a single one examining possible merits of cutting legal aid for example).
Re: American jobs
Would certainly explain why it's sexy, goes fast and often requires repairs.
Re: the one thing that we are doing right now, which is to go global.
To be fair to Netflix, they're trying- when they made House of Cards, it was released everywhere at the same time. I suspect that the need for DRM comes more from whoever has the right to license the content in a particular territory, not on Netflix's need to compete with a genie that's already out of the bottle. Streaming providers have probably got to go to at least a token bit of effort to demonstrate to the licensor that their website does more than seed the perfect torrent.
School requiring degree level content or above...
Speaking from only my own experience, my school was desperate to get as many of us as possible into university and then into as "good" (defined as highly ranked by the Times) a university as possible. That was the thing that bumped their stats and rankings and encouraged the middle class parents to send their children to the school.
What degree you actually did when you got to university was by the by as far as they were concerned. If you could go and do Anglo Saxon* at Cambridge with no hope of getting more than a third, it was better in their eyes than going to Bath to do maths with all signs pointing to your doing amazingly well.
Our interests diverged enormously from the school's and I think that as a result of this a lot of people were pushed into doing degrees that weren't necessarily the best thing for them to do (both for their careers and for their own personal fulfilment- the latter an often-underestimated component of what path you start to forge for yourself upon finishing school).
I started University nearly 11 years ago, so I'm no spring chicken, but it wasn't too long ago. I imagine that, if anything, things have gotten worse since.
(Me? I did political science, followed by a law conversion and am now a lawyer- the "irrelevant" degree worked out pretty well for me as the skills learned fed heavily into the postgrad and my day job).
*Nothing wrong with choosing to study Anglo Saxon, I'm just saying that it's a non-vocational subject and if you get a bad mark in it, you're very unlikely to be able to do anything with it, and it certainly won't help you in life as much as a good result in Bath Math.
The report seems to suggest that HBOS's failure was similar to the failure of Woolworths and Comet- all three were bad businesses that were giving the killing blow by the downturn. That downturn was partly down to the high finance-related credit squeeze. Saying that HBOS going down wasn't down to high finance gone mad is true, but misleading as high finance played a role in the squeeze and subsequent downturn that caused all of these sick businesses to go belly up in a short space of time.
And while HBOS would still have gone bust with tighter capital controls, it *wouldn't* have been in a hole nearly as deep as the one it ended up in. Also, in a more benign economic climate, fewer of its loans would have gone bad, making the hole smaller still.
You can't use the reasons for HBOS's failure as an argument to regulate high finance, but then again you can't use the reasons for HBOS's failure as an argument not to regulate high finance either.
Thumb up icon, because there's no gif of a thumb mostly up but wavering slightly.
Yes, that is a question. Given El Reg's (rightly) pointing out that not charging for content has been hugely damaging for newspapers going online, is it 1) experiencing the same* and 2) is it planning on charging for its news content?
*Probably none of my business, right?
Should probably start by saying that I appreciate you taking the time to do a substantive reply and go "off badge" to do so.
The Civil Procedure Rules (the laws governing how litigation in the English Court is conducted) already have a provision that hammers people for costs where they unreasonably refuse to engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). In many cases tried in this country, judges will pause claims for weeks and send the parties out to try and solve their dispute through mediation or another form of ADR, sometimes without either of the parties really wanting that.
My point is that laws just like the Royal Charter being proposed have been here for years and the sky hasn't fallen in (nor have the UK press complained about them nearly as vigourously). The point I made in my previous comments is that (barring crazy amendments- but one runs that risk with every bit of legislation every day) nothing will be unlawful that wasn't unlawful before.
You're just being pushed into ADR, in the same way that UK litigants generally are pushed into ADR every day, how is that a change to how you will operate day to day? The costs consequences I talk about above aren't the same as exemplary damages admittedly, but that's more a feature of who wrote the law, rather than the law's effect (and, I suspect that if the lawyers in parliament get a good grip on the Bill, costs consequences will replace exemplary damages).
I (and I don't think I'm alone here) think the press is blowing the issue out of all proportion because it doesn't want to be regulated, regardless of the actual merits of arguments for or against that regulation. This is causing them to reach for old school "freedom of the press" and "stalinist" dog whistles that look ridiculous when (as many others have pointed out) broadcast journalism has done amazing work in a much more tightly regulated environment.
My understanding is that defamation (a person saying something that lowers another's reputation in the eyes of a reasonable third person) through libel is actionable per se in the UK- i.e. you don't need to prove any actual damage to bring it to court (slander you do, which is why people are so keen to have internet forum rants seen as slander). Truth is a defence to a libellous comment (i.e. it gets you out of paying damages and costs), it doesn't stop the comment from being libellous and you have to go to the expense of proving in court that your comment was true. Opinion is similar.
The upshot of this is that your U-turn example would be something that a vexatious person could bring to Court under the present system. Even if it was a flimsy case, you could easily be bullied into changing your headline by an angry letter and the thought of all the legal fees. I don't think you're losing anything.
This is especially so as, having (albeit quickly) read the legislation, it doesn't seem that there is anything in there (malicious falsehood is already a tort) that you can sue for under the charter than you can't sue for already in the Courts. The Royal Charter for the press hasn't yet been finalised as parliament will doubtlessly amend it, so that's not for certain but then again, it could conceivably also contain a requirement for El Reg to keep a gibbon on the premises at all times (I would support this amendment).
The two main flashing lights of the Charter don't seem to be being addressed by anyone are:
1) Parliament isn't constitutionally supposed to be able to bind itself- the whole 2/3 majority thing can technically be overturned by a simple majority and
2) We just don't know- nor do we know what other Royal Charters the government will sign in (that's the *real* scary thing, not regulation of the printed word to a miniscule extent compared to the broadcasted word).
*Contempt of Court not only slaps down inaccurate reporting, it also slaps down anything prejudicial to the case, e.g. if someone had a history of unrelated offences, you wouldn't be able to report them before the verdict came in.
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