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* Posts by Captain Underpants

714 posts • joined 24 Jul 2009

Jeremy Hunt clings on as SpAd quits over News Corp emails

Captain Underpants

Re: I wouldn't

@Dom 1:

The funny thing is, Hunt got handed the BSkyB takeover bid when Cable was forced to step aside because he had an agenda that made him biased. It's interesting that Hunt isn't yet being forced to step aside for having an agenda that makes him biased...oh wait, a fat brown envelope of some sort was probably involved. BAU then.

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Uni plagiarism site buckles under crush of last-minute essays

Captain Underpants
Meh

Re: Appallingly bad design?

@DayDragon:

Convention is that you cite publications, on the basis that this allows the reader to look up the reference for themselves. Outside of a dissertation, most stuff an undergraduate writes is highly unlikely to see publication. Citing it, therefore, is rather problematic. And given that a substantial amount of marking in universities is not done by the individual who sets the work, you also cannot assume that the person marking your essay will have easy access to a complete set of your previous essay submissions.

Now, I think we'll both agree that someone setting essays or problem sets that can be correctly answered in large part by reusing answers submitted for previous essay questions or problem sets is clearly Doing It Wrong.

And yes, if you've been told specifically at the start of your course that reuse of material you have written is not allowed, then you have to re-write it. That's not always the case, though.

Outside of what you might call "training" for The Real World, I don't see the point in enforcing a "cite or rewrite" rule on students who are in practice unable to usefully cite their previous work.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Appallingly bad design?

@apr400:

"If you copy your own previous work rather than producing new and original material then that is still a problem."

Err....no. If you've written Essay A about a given subject, and are set a second Essay B on a related or substantially overlapping subject, and there's a Y% overlap between the two topics such that you have Y% of Essay B already written in Essay A - *what is the advantage of being compelled to re-write it*? No new information is being delivered; it's just re-expressing the same ideas again. Unless you're talking about a creative writing assignment, that's a stupid and inefficient use of their time and abilities.

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Cloudy crypto SSO firm: Passwords must go

Captain Underpants

Re: Reality says he's not.

Well, yeah, but the same "easy does approach" says "Why bother having your water well, food store and toilet in three different places? Keep 'em all in the same place and you'll cut down on inconvenient/pointless journeys".

The fact that it's easy to do doesn't render it a good idea.

Which is my point about using the exact same password for every site or service. Even saving it in a browser or password manager is a bad idea - what happens if someone nicks your laptop and spends 15 seconds booting up NTPasswd to blank your Windows password, for example?

I agree wholeheartedly that identity management systems and services are all a bit rubbish in one way or another. The thing is, it's entirely possible that a service that is useful in a corporate environment is predicated on principles that make it worse than useless for personal use. You make do with what tools you have available at the time. There's nothing new here.

I know we're talking about a cloudy sales pitch here, but a centralised access point is also a centralised point of failure, and if they want me (or anyone else) to trust them with the credentials that equate to my identity in so far as work-related information services are concerned, then they're going to have to work very %^&*ing hard to prove to me that their systems are sufficiently bulletproof to resist the presumably large number of folks who will be interested in gaining unauthorised access to them.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Managing User Accounts

Yeah, it's a funny thing but the current issue of 2600 has a letter from someone describing their experience of discovering a fairly serious zero-day vuln in a service that, if it isn't Ping, certainly has a lot in common with it. Needless to say, it's less reassuring than Ping's marketing folks would like...

You don't hand over the keys to the family car without making damn sure that the driver to whom you're giving them is a competent driver rather than, say, a drunk canine wearing a Groucho Marx mask. Personally, I believe that Ping (and any other company like them) are in fact drunk dogs dressed up as Groucho Marx until proven otherwise...

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Captain Underpants

Re: Passwords aren't the problem..

You're trolling, right?

Because, if you seriously want a system that remembers all your usernames with the assumption that the same password works with *all* of them...well, Christ, for your sake I hope you don't ever sign up for an account on a message board whose admins don't keep the vBulletin/PhpBB/whatever implementation up to date (or don't follow good practice re: salting the password hash database). Because if you do, and it's compromised, well, that's everything from your email account & social network gubbins through online-shopping all the way to personal (or even worse professional) sites/systems under someone else's control.

I'm wary of any "single solution for all authentication needs", but I'm also wary of using one password for everything because it's so eminently a silly idea.

I mean, yes, keeping track of usernames is a ballache as well, but someone finding out your login for a service is far less dangerous than finding out your password...

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Microsoft mulls backside display for mobiles

Captain Underpants

Oh now WTF?!

This is imagined as being low-power due to not refreshing very often - except that if it's used to display an accurate-to-the-minute clock then every minute the display will need to refresh. D'oh.

Not to mention that when they tried this on laptops (with Vista's Sideshow tech) the market response was characterised by a tumbleweed, bouncing gently along. I'm not convinced that the same pointless idea applied to phones will be any more successful.

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Megaupload case near collapse: report

Captain Underpants

Re: The New Justice[tm]

@Sean

I appreciate that small development companies are likely to be those least able to afford the loss of earnings that software piracy will likely entail, but... you're not really suggesting that going after someone like Kim Dotcom in such a way as to fumble the legal process and thus potentially derail the court case is a good idea, are you? Nobody wins from that.

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Nokia loses $1.7bn in Q1, sales chief falls overboard

Captain Underpants
Joke

Re: Challenging my arse

Nokia's WinPho7 handsets are challenging your arse? I think you must be using it wrong...

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Lesser-spotted Raspberry Pi FINALLY dished up

Captain Underpants

@Dexter

"What could be more educational that terrorising the cat with a home-made robot?"

Heh, I was thinking along similar lines. I mean, yes you can buy remote-control toys that would fit the same purpose (some even include a webcam as well as spring-loaded toy weapons , and at least one is designed around the idea of streaming the webcam feed to you), but how much more satisfying would it be to have build the thing yourself? :D

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Captain Underpants

@toadwarrior:

"I'm not entirely sure kids want to tinker."

Well...it depends. Some kids will want to tinker and do it regardless of encouragement. Others won't, and won't do it (or enjoy it) regardless of encouragement/badgering. Still others may or may not get enough encouragement to try it out, and won't thus discover whether they have any interest in it.

In the same way, some kids like Lego^W $GENERICBUILDINGBLOCKTOYS and some don't - but it's not always obvious before you give them a chance to try it out. The Pi could be a very good low-cost platform that schools or parents can use to let their kids find out whether they're interested in tinkering and/or building stuff. I doubt this'll turn an entire generation into millionaire codemonkeys, but I would have *loved* to be able to get something like that when I was a teenager.

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Captain Underpants

Re: The 11 Euro Alternative

@Cantennas are easy and powerful

If you really think that the Pi is being aimed exclusively at households that already have several computers lying around doing nothing, you're even more challenged in the area of reading comprehension than you've demonstrated so far.

When you've explained to me why access to a parallel port is so vital for a project like this, and why its benefits can't be reaped by using cheap-as-chips USB adapters or direct connections to the GPIO pinouts, then we can evaluate whether those advantages outweigh the larger size, greater power consumption, and lack of warranty of second hand minitowers.

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Captain Underpants
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Re: The 11 Euro Alternative

@Cantennas are easy and powerful

1) They don't have a warranty, so any notion of this being feasible for schools is right out. Publicly funded educational institutes are restricted in what they can buy and where they can buy from, and procurement frameworks require that they try to account for full-lifecycle-costing by incorporating a warranty into the purchase. You *cannot* get that with second hand equipment of the sort you're espousing.

2) Second hand desktops are huge and power inefficient compared to the Pi.

3) As for the issues re: cases - this is only a given for the first round developer preview units. If you can read, go to the FAQ at http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs and you'll realise that when the education release goes ahead, cases will be available at the time of purchase.

The thing about hardware tinkering is that getting kids in a class to go soldering circuits on old desktops is unlikely to be allowed in a lot of schools, whereas if you're talking about being able to use Arduino-like connectors from GPIO ports it's a lot more feasible. Not to mention that such learning is more likely to be successful when every kid in the class can have their own unit to tinker with rather than gathering around to watch teacher do it on the one sample unit they've got.

Without good teachers, this initiative will fail. But your conviction that small, cheap, decent hardware that can be used for a variety of things won't help get kids interested in computing (or to make ICT classes more interesting for those teachers who know or learn their stuff) is at odds with reality.

I work for a university and know a number of teachers working in both primary and secondary schools, and the general concensus in the academic world is that the Pi is a good idea and will have a positive impact. What's your basis for being so convinced it's a terrible idea?

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Captain Underpants
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Re: The 11 Euro Alternative

@Cantennas are easy and powerful

Are you a second-hand computer salesdroid or something? You seem heavily invested in pointing out that nobody wants or needs a Pi, despite the evidence otherwise.

It's very nice of you to point out that I could bid on an 11 euro desktop (that's ancient and broken), but unfortunately, the disadvantages of such a machine over something like the Pi include:

1) No warranty - the Pi, as a new device, will be subject to warranty provision. Ancient second-hand electronic crapware will not.

2) Modest power overhead - I wouldn't want to know how much power is lost to leaky capacitors and a horrendously inefficient 10-year-old PSU, even when doing moderate amounts of work

3) Being the size of a full minitower desktop (vs being around the size of a GameBoy Advance).

Here's an example for you - if I want to build a small network for experimenting and learning, I can buy 5 cheapy ancient desktops (for £50-75, hope they all work, run them all off the mains, find somewhere to put them when they're running that doesn't constitute a fire hazard, and hope I don't have to take out a loan for the spike in power usage.

Or I could spend ~£150 on 5 Pis, at which point I've got the same hardware power only in a form factor that will fit in my desk drawer if I don't have storage space. Hell, you could mount them on a piece of wood the size of a hardback book without difficulty. And they're under warranty, so if one of 'em breaks I can get it replaced.

Please don't misunderstand me - if someone has an old desktop lying around they can (and IMO should) reuse it, even if doing so means giving it to someone else who has need for it. But there are many folks who don't have an old desktop lying around whose needs would better be met by the Pi. It is entirely possible for both options to be valid, you know.

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Captain Underpants
Facepalm

Re: Blah blah blah

Wait, you think that school pupils with internet access (on a site like El Reg that occasionally features NSFW content and practically mandates a hilarious innuendo-laden writing style, at least for headlines) are going to be seeing smut-tastic words like "wank" for the first time in my comment above?

Oh, it is to laugh :D

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Captain Underpants

Re: Blah blah blah

@James - yeah, it's a bit wank that RS have, at this point, sent out at least 4 updates about the Pi that all amount to "not yet, but soon. Ish." instead of just getting the $%^& on with shipping out the first batch and lining up the next lot.

I have to disagree with the closing part of the article though - part of the rationale for the Pi being cheap is to ensure that schools/students who *aren't* flush with cash can get their hands on a computer that they can use/tinker with/break and fix, and which is suitable for software and hardware hackery for those who are interested. Not to mention that it encourages pupils (and teachers!) to experiment beyond the confines of the world of "computers = Windows + Office".

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Oakley: 'smart' sunglasses ready to shine

Captain Underpants

Isn't the Oakley stuff just the same idea as the Vuzix range, but with a heftier pricetag and pseudo-designer bollocks attached for no good reason?

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Hacker jailed for 32 months for attack on abortion-provider site

Captain Underpants

Re: Er wrong!

Yeah, that's a bit weird.

I suspect what he meant was "finding abortion repugnant does not absolve one from the repercussions of deliberately committing offences as an act of so-called protest". It would have been niced to have a clear and unambiguous statement to that effect, though.

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Captain Underpants
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So Colin, if I believe that a legitimate response to Your Post Espousing Highest-Order Bellendery is to set your house on fire, that's ok and I'm welcome to pop around with a jerry can of petrol and some matches?

If he wants to protest, he's welcome to engage the community and draw attention through lawful means. Instead, he was a massive knob about an issue which will never directly affect him in the same way as it affected the women whose identities and information he threatened to release, so %^&* him, let him serve his time. (If you want to argue that it will affect him directly, I'd like to see the evidence showing how likely it is that he'll ever have to cope with an unplanned pregnancy. Bollockery about "what about my rights as a potential dad" won't make the cut, I'm afraid.)

None of us get to pick and choose which laws we will follow, hence he gets a paddlin' for doing something he evidently knew was naughty.

Oh, and you may find it helpful to note that resorting to emotive language and behaviour while attempting to talk about debate will tend to diminish the validity your argument.

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Ten... Living Room Gadget Treats

Captain Underpants

Re: Automation?

Yeah, but on the other hand no.

Based on the title "Hardware hacker's guide to home automation", I was hoping for an article talking about using eg Arduinos or Beagleboards to enable advanced cleverness for eg home lighting/temperature control, home security systems, etc. Maybe some stuff about how to reuse old machines as a NAS/HTPC/other, with options to replace 'em with a RasPi or one of those dinky little server-in-a-tiny-box-that-plugs-into-the-wall thingies.

Instead I got a "Here are ten probably-overpriced things for which I've been sent adverts in the last few days" article, which didn't even have anything particularly interesting or unusual in it.

I'm not moaning about the advertorial features that appear on El Reg from time to time, but it'd be nice if they weren't hidden under blatantly mislieading titles.

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Captain Underpants

Heh, I was thinking that - last time I was looking for headphones with that usage in mind I went for a pair of Sennheisers, and they cost me ~£50 (instore too, so likely available cheaper elsewhere). I'm not prepared to believe that the quality differential between a £50 and a £120 pair is going to be enough to justify the upgrade.

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Apple, publishers and ebook pricing – what does it all mean?

Captain Underpants

RE: the Business Model|Pricing Strategy Equivalence Hypothesis: Well, I don't agree, necessarily, that a business model *can* be reduced to a pricing strategy. (I've seen it used as a very simplified version of the idea around which a proper business plan would be designed, for example, but I realise as I type this that I may just be making your eyes roll back in your head as you start to froth at the mouth and emit a high-pitched whining sound that only dogs can hear....)

Even if it did, the English language (not to mention most other languages we've come up with, as a species) is hardly a stranger to the idea of having multiple terms or expressions for the same thing.

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Captain Underpants

Heh, that's the first time I've read an Orlowski piece that uses the phrase "business model" without proceeding to bitch about how it's a meaningless term.

As for the issue re: preventing collusion - I suspect the idea is that while a retailer may be negotiating with various suppliers at any time, they can't have one negotiation process that deals with several suppliers (nor, presumably, can they tell one supplier about the proposed offering from another supplier).

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Sony axes 10,000 workers, eyes up mobile and medical biz

Captain Underpants

Hmm, I guess that being a huge lumbering corp. without an obsessive controlfreak at the helm makes it a lot harder to turn a profit.

This can't really be a surprise to anyone - between looking at how an initially promising partnership went the way of the dodo (Sony-Ericsson - initially the line that set the bar for good phones with great digital cameras, eventually a line so bloated that even after pruning the catalogue it still had 98 different models) and looking at just how painfully they set themselves up with the PS3 (selling at a loss even when it cost north of £600, compared to Nintendo's less technically-proficient but always-profitable Wii), not to mention their sloppy approach to customer data, Sony have long been looking like a company that's gotten too big to be usefully responsive.

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Publishing giants sue open textbook startup over layout

Captain Underpants

The issue AFAIK is that in a substantive work like a textbook containing hundreds of pages & figures, the chosen layout constitutes a sufficiently complex design that it can be protected under copyright.

I do wonder whether prior art is an acceptable defence in these sorts of cases, or whether there's any such thing as a stock or generic layout against which such suits cannot be taken.

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Captain Underpants

Should be interesting to see how this shakes out.

Rising usage of both digital reading platforms and distribution mechanisms show textbook publishers as being somewhat behind the curve - this has long been an issue, along with the price of new textbooks for students.

I suspect there's merit to the idea that both parties are at least a bit in the wrong here. Existing publishers are clearly fondly attached to the idea of the established pricing for academic texts and are unlikely to respond well to any initiative that forces them to compete in ways they've previously been able to avoid.

That being said, it's one thing to say "the law says that facts can't be copyrighted" and an entirely different one to basically take your competitor's product, change it what you think to be *just enough* to file off the serial numbers and give it away for free. Especially if you boast that this is what you're doing. I wouldn't like to be the judge who has to point out where the line gets drawn, but I'm fairly sure that it's going to be hard to defend a set of actions whose intent has been openly stated as converting a copyrighted document into a freely-redistributable document. (Though it might have worked better in their defence if they'd gifted it to the public domain, or at least published it as a CC work...)

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Virgin Media's latest throttling rules

Captain Underpants
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Re: Oh grow up you lot!

No, mate, what you're doing is called "being a dick".

We're pointing out that commonplace current usage patterns that might have inspired someone to pony up for the Virgin XXL broadband package (buying games on steam, etc) are now penalised under this model.

If everyone who's bought a game on Steam counts as a "heavy user", then no wonder the UK network infrastructure is fucked.

This is not about "unlimited", this is about "buying 1 game on steam" will exceed the limits. And those are the *DAYTIME* limits, never mind the evening time ones. Streaming Netflix HD for 2 hours puts you over the evening limit. That is the problem here.

They made a point of selling the top-level service as unthrottled - that was my main concern, not that it would actually *be* 50Mbit, but that it would be an appreciable, unthrottled fraction of it. Now they want to throttle it but keep charging for the same thing.

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Captain Underpants
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@Dig

I have 5 machines (one of them dual-booting) in the house, 4 of which are used for gaming with Steam on different accounts. 2 games consoles. Windows updates x 5 + OS X updates * 1 + Netflix + Steam + Bittorrent (mostly legitimately free music from various chiptune artists out there, occasionally also games from the Humble Indie Bundles, software from Sourceforge, or films/tv from the likes of Vodo) + occasional commercial software purchases/trials + regular Linux ISO downloads + Youtube/Vimeo + emusic account = a %^&*load of network traffic.

I pay for the top-level service from Virgin because I know that's what my usage pattern needs. Until these ridiculous new terms were introduced, that was fine. Now I'm in a situation where even if I can do it during what they call daytime hours, buying one new game on Steam and installing it puts me over my usage limit (every big new release I've bought since Portal 2 has been a 10GB+ download, and that's before we start about downloads on different accounts - and no I couldn't be arsed with manually copying files between machines, that's why I was paying for the fat pipe from Virgin).

If they don't understand why an uber-fast connection with stupid "fair use" limits is pointless, $%^& 'em. Why on earth would I want 120MBit broadband if the data caps are such that I'll barely have started using it before I get throttled?

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Captain Underpants

Re: The fastest UK broadband service...

@HMB

But that's still bollocks *anyway* - my torrent usage at home is split about 50/50 between crowdsourced-or-CC-licenced films/music/games (think Humble Indie Bundle and the stuff on vodo, etc) and software like LibreOffice.

The assumption that P2P = Piratical is bullshit, and if I pay for a high-tier connection one of the things I want minimised is my exposure to bullshit.

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Captain Underpants
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Re: Sounds fantastic.

@Paul

No mate, blow that out of your arse.

If you're paying for one of the higher-tier services specifically because you know your gaming purchases need a high-bandwidth connection, this move is bellendery of the worst sort. I have no problem paying for a premium product or service, but it has to actually *be* a premium product or service, not a middle-tier offering wearing lipstick and fishnets.

Of course, it shouldn't be a surprise that once again a British ISP is playing the game of selling high bandwidth connections it later realises it can't provide...

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Captain Underpants
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Oh FFS!

I'm explicitly on the top package available at the time of subscription because I *know* I'm at the heavy use end of the spectrum (2 heavy users in the house, 4 gaming machines in the house using Steam, each with accounts that have plenty of 10Gb-a-piece games installed on them, and that's before we get to digital music & video purchases).

There are 2 reasons I wanted the top end package - 1 because of the bandwidth on offer, and 2 because of the promise that there would be no traffic shaping.

Why am I discovering a Virgin policy change via El Reg, instead of via a letter from Virgin?

Thus far I've had no reason to complain about their broadband service, but they're useless at actually communicating change management information to their customers. Guess I know whose life I'll be making difficult over the phone tonight...

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Warner, Sony commit to UltraViolet in UK

Captain Underpants

Re: Bait and Switch

@Kristian:

Yeah, but absolutely no link between those sites has been demonstrated with any of the Scary Crims that were intimated repeatedly by the adverts (ironically enough, given that it's relatively easy to show such links with the physical DVD pirates - probably where they got the idea). More importantly, someone selling knock-off DVDs in the pub for £5 a go is going to very quickly bring in a lot more money than someone running TVshack, though it's arguably more labour-intensive.

There's a hell of a difference between "The money you are handing over is going to criminal gangs, drug trafficking networks and terrorists" and "by looking at that site a tiny amount of money from the advertisers goes to the site owner, who may or may not be dodgy". Not to mention that the availability of legitimate DVDs at reasonable prices makes buying knock-offs more obviously a stupid idea, whereas for many films there's still no legitimate way to buy a digital copy (especially if you don't want DRM). If the vendor won't offer you the product you want in a format you want, it's far less straightforward for them to complain that you won't instead buy the product they *did* offer that you don't want.

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Captain Underpants
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Re: Ho hum

@ekithump

So what you're saying is "hey, buy the triple-play pack" (where part of the point is that you're paying for an *additional* feature) and then *don't use the feature you've paid for* because once again, it turns out the big studio thinking on this was bellend-like?

No %^&*ing thank you, I'll stick to not buying the stupid %^&*ing "triple play" packs and not buying into their ridiculous idea of what I want. Time-limited access to a streaming-only DRM laden digital copy is not, and never will be, an adequate substitute for a digital copy of the film, presented as a file with no DRM or time limitations .This offering is basically swapping out the idea of a triple-play where you're given a file with a triple-play where you stream the file. It's still time-limited and DRM laden, and therefore pointless crap.

The horse has not only bolted, but at this point evolved into a beyond-human-intelligence space-faring species whose equine roots are not unlike the dinosuar roots of contemporary avians. If the film industry doesn't want to accept this, it's their problem.

If they want us onside, they know what we would like the opportunity to pay for - DRM-free files, with no time limitations. The music industry has understood this, why the $%^& can't the film industry grasp it?

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Captain Underpants

Re: Bait and Switch

RE:Sidenote - because the idiots producing those adverts for those DVDs were trying very hard to present downloading films as being 100% equivalent to stealing a physical object (mistake 1), that they directly funded terrorist organisations (mistake 2, particularly since most film downloads don't involve money changing hands in the first place) and that the quality of downloads is always inferior to that on original media (mistake 3, because it made people realise the advert writers were talking bollocks).

Eventually they realised, possibly when the IT Crowd satirised their adverts, that they'd gotten it massively wrong and managed to come across as a bunch of entitled pricks along the way. They're better now than they were before, but there's still a lot of bellendery present in DVD mastering - whether it's deliberate insertion of corrupt menu segments ("To hamper pirates" - and substantially inconvenience anyone trying to watch a legit DVD using VLC or on Linux, you %^&^s!) or unskippable trailers/adverts (again I say, you $%^&s!), some folks seem to think that "We used to do that in the old days and people put up with it" is a good enough reason to keep doing something. %^&* those people, quite frankly. They are the reason I buy DVDs and rip them to a media centre.

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Hasbro fails to win Asus Transformer Prime ban

Captain Underpants

@Miek:

Nah, fella.

If Hasbro don't hold the trademark for the name Transformer and the name Prime *as it relates to computational devices*, then Asus can use it as they see fit. It's only if they're clearly trying to tie into the alien-robots-disguiesed-as-commonplace-human-made-vehicles with the Transformer Prime that there's an issue, and, well, I don't see it.

Just because *you* (or Hasbro, for that matter) think the words Transformer and Prime can only have one possible meaning in commercial terms doesn't mean the rest of the world agrees.

To put it another way: go to http://www.ipo.gov.uk/tm/t-find/t-find-text/tmtsearch-default.aspx and type in "Transformer", then run the search. Look at how many companies other than Hasbro use the word Transformer as part of (or the entirety of) their trademarks. That should speak for itself.

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Captain Underpants
Meh

Hasbro being a bit silly? Looks like it

I remember having a quick look when this news broke in December and not finding any indication that Hasbro had registered Transfomer/Transformers as a trademark in relation to electronics & computing stuff, which would be the issue at hand.

If they *did* have such a trademark, this court would presumably have found in their favour. Doesn't bode well for Hasbro, I suspect, but if they want to piss away money on lawyers that's up to them...

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You're crap and paid too much for the little work you actually do

Captain Underpants

Re: One man's......

@Tim99

I work in a university, with the attendant joy and entertainment that a variety of funding sources brings with it. If I sometimes have to work to convince people that a warranty is worthwhile, how easy do you think it will be to convince people to contribute some of "their" funding money towards a "wasted" spare machine? (Especially when that money could go on an iPad or a junket...)

On top of this, given the variety of hardware and software requirements amongst academic users, it's very hard to define a standard environment that will easily let them swap to a different machine and resume work. As a result, it's actually much easier to get people back up and running by fixing their main machine than to get them switched to a replacement machine for a week or two.

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Captain Underpants

Re: One man's......

@John - I agree that IT is a utility. So's electricity, but I don't expect someone from EDF to choose between stopping by my desk on a daily basis to say "See the way your workstation's turned on and running? That's 'cos of the power to the building that....*self-satisfied pause* I provided." or cut power off every now and again just to make the point that we take 'em for granted.

The problem Dom's alluding to is that management depend on utilities they can't usefully measure, and he's encouraging players in the provision of said utilities to perpetuate that state of affairs by only focusing on those IT deliverables that can be easily and frequently measures, which for many organisations means ignoring a bunch of other things they should be doing. Easy example - warranty costs. My organisation requires me to buy at least a 3 year warranty with all computer equipment - since our main supplier is Dell, that means we get 3 year (or more) NBD onsite, with phone support from the folks in their Scottish callcentre (who're damn good and very helpful). I've frequently had to have the argument about whether the warranty is "Worth it", and do you know how I win it every time? I explain what happens to those users who insist on getting a MacBook Pro - how if their hard drive/motherboard dies, it's a call to Apple (so far so good), followed by scheduled collection in 2 days time (one day for the courier to do a drive-by dropping off the collection box and then legging it before you can put the box in it - and no they won't accept any other box - then another day to get them to come back and pick the damn thing up), then another week between getting to the repair centre, getting fixed, and getting sent back. So on average, a knackered Dell laptop will normally be up and running within 24 hours of making the call (real hours, not "working hours"). With Apple, it's more like a week and a half.

How do you usefully and frequently demonstrate that, short of taking a hammer to someone's laptop and then showing them the warranty process, and working out the hypothetical cost of their lost productivity?

Extrapolate the attitude he takes to backups and you don't end up checking that the backup process is actually generating usable backups, or that your DR solution (assuming you've got one beyond "RUN AROUND SCREAMING LIKE A HEADLESS CHICKEN") actually works, or that any low risk, high impact contingency plans you're tasked with implementing will work. None of that's as good as making sure you're the guy who's seen to fix every problem that comes up with The Big Guy's Laptop, right?

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Captain Underpants
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Given the research that shows that quality of life tends to level out at around 60K per annum, and that Dominic's advice is basically "Learn to be more of a Massive Bellend in order to get greater financial success", I think I'll stick with trying to be an at least occasionally decent human being who understands the concept of hidden productivity gains and makes do with a modest (yet still greater than the average) salary.

God knows that the last 5 years of finding out yet more disasters from financial services companies don't exactly make me feel a great deal of faith in the City's values (which, let's be honest, pretty much boil down to "MONEY, AND %^&*ING LOTS OF IT!").

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Game Group shares halted, 'no value left' admits board

Captain Underpants
Unhappy

According to the Beeb they've openly stated they're going to file for administration. Sucks for the grunt-level staff, though no doubt the management bellends responsible will still get to trouser some decent cash. Check out the denial on display:

"Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at IHS Screen Digest, said...'there was still a place for a large specialist games retailer on the High Street, with 70% of spend on games content in the UK still in the form of physical media.' " (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17455742)

Notice how he hasn't made *any mention* of how much of that spending is on the big-ticket new-releases, nor how much of it happens through high-street retailers.

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Big Media drags 142,000 through UK's courts IN A YEAR

Captain Underpants

@Jean

What's wrong, I think, is that when it comes to paying for the Beeb (which by virtue of its size will be unable to find a single citizen who likes everything it produces, and yet probably produces at least some service that could be of use to any individual) a lot of people suddenly have a fit of Galloping Libertarian Farquar Syndrome, and because The Powers That Be continue to pretend the licence fee isn't a tax, they then fume about being forcibly made to pay Not-A-Tax for something They Don't Want.

I don't have kids, and I don't own a car. Money from my tax contributions goes towards both those things, and I'm happy for that to be the case because I understand the greater social good that comes of having such infrastructure in place. (Aside from anything else I can see what's happened with the UK rail network since the Tories decided privatisation was awesome and flogged the things off...which, in its own way, is a great argument in favour of the licence fee).

The Beeb produces enough services and creates enough public-interest content that its existence requires no further justification, in my opinion. Someone not wishing to avail of them should be paid no more heed than someone saying that because they're not sick they don't want to have to pay any tax towards the NHS.

I can give you an even starker example of why the Beeb is actually a %^&8ing good deal. Ireland has a television license scheme, and it's much like the UK one. The state broadcaster does *not* have a no-adverts policy, and its home-produced content is largely crap. This is at least partly an economies-of-scale issue, but it usefully serves as an alternative example of what *could* exist in place of the Beeb.

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Captain Underpants
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Andrew, the breakdown of BBC spending at http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/12/bbc-spending#zoomed-picture suggests that Radio 4 *isn't* actually the horrendous moneysink you seem to fearfully imagine. The fact that it costs more than the repetitive shite on Radio 1 is probably down to not having an imposed three-tier music playlist that mandates playing the same set of top-40 guff interspersed with inane witterings from some moron, and therefore having to pay someone to come up with content worth a damn. It's twice as much as Five Live, but less than 20% of total radio spend. Which, in turn, is around 17% of the total Beeb public spend.

Radio 4 is, in fact, around 3% of the total Beeb spend. Five Live is 2%, local radio services combined are 4% and BBC1 is 39%.

Since you decided to go Full Classtard with this article it's worth pointing out that at least *some* of the celebritards on higher pay packets at the Beeb (predominantly for those programmes on BBC1) skew decidedly low-to-middle on the "class appeal" spectrum (I don't imagine Wossy is some sort of upper middle class darling, though Stephen Fry probably is). So if you're going to go into some fearful "HOLY SHIT THE MIDDLE CLASSES ARE OPPRESSING TEH MASSES VIA THE LICENCE FEE! ZOMGZOR!" frenzy, you'll need to provide a more detailed breakdown explaining what middle-class-only programmes are getting all this money thrown at them.

I'm also genuinely reluctant to believe that *anyone* these days manages to make use of *nothing* funded by the licence fee. Not even using the radio, telly or websites to check the weather or catch the news/sport? Not even using the telly to plonk the young 'uns in front of CBeebies and keep 'em quiet? Not even when Little Tim *really* wants to watch Doctor Who or play the games on the website? And definitely not to watch Strictly Flailing Around The Place Like A Gibbon On Speed/World's Longest And Most Humiliating Interviews For A Crap Job (With Alan Sugar)/Get Humiliated By Self-Important Alleged Entrepreneurial Bellends/Three Cocks And A Car (you get the idea...) on the sly.

I suspect there's one thing we could agree on, which is that the licence fee would make more sense if it were actually reformulated as an outright tax rather than a non-optional charge for owning certain types of electronics based on a paradigm that's totally out of sync with current technologies. As for the rest of it - I think you're choosing to see a classist problem where one doesn't exist.

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Vimeo takedown leads to court loss

Captain Underpants
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Re: ask a photographer why....

@the-still-understandably-AC-photographer

I'm not disputing the idea that hiring a professional photographer creates an obviously better product than hiring Our Jimmy With That Cameraphone What Has All Them Megapixies On It.

Nor am I disputing the idea that, for photographers who know their craft, high-quality & often expensive equipment for use on the day and in post-processing is necessary to generate the best possible end result, which is in both the photographer's and clients' best interests.

What I'm disputing is the idea that, once you have taken all the photos and done all the post-processing work to create the initially-agreed-upon set of prints, *you should be the only person allowed to create new prints*.

Only a fool would argue that you shouldn't offer it as a follow-on service, but once you have taken the photos and produced the prints, *that's it*. There's no expectation of a lifelong contract for most people hiring a photographer. Yes, the client should be made to understand that they're unlikely to get anywhere close to the same quality with home equipment, but it's up to them if they want to try. I mean, if the wedding subsequently goes south and the groom decides he wants to print copies of the photos onto cheap bogroll with an inkjet printer, that's his business.

I understand wanting to avoid commercial reuse of your work if you don't have control over it, but that's covered by putting a "no attribution without prior approval" clause in the contract. Beyond that, what you're talking about is establishing a steady revenue stream, not "protecting the integrity of your work". Or do you have some magical reproduction technique that prevents the client from taking a high-res scan of your prints and then doing whatever the smeg they like with them?

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Captain Underpants
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Re: ask a photographer why....

@Understandably-AC-photographer:

BAHAHAHAHA! *wipes tear from eye*

So, you insist on retaining copyright "to ensure that they only see the photos in formats which do them justice", do you? Suuuuuuure. And this has nothing at all to do with the fact that your opinion of formats which do the photos justice happens to cover only those copies which you produce and sell, right?

Are you going to try and sell me a bridge next? (Under a contract whereby I'm only allowed to buy prints of photos of the bridge from you, presumably?)

If you can get people to agree to those terms, more power to you. But drop the pretence that it's about the integrity of the work, my sides'll split if I laugh any harder.

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Captain Underpants

Interesting story but salient details required to properly interpret the verdict seem to be missing.

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15in MacBook Air will go HEAD TO HEAD with MacBook Pro in April

Captain Underpants
Facepalm

Re: ethernet

Well, no, it's not - not compared to on-board gig-e. Or are you trying to suggest that you can get gig-e performance over a USB2 ethernet adapter? (I know, I know, not relevant for home users. But hey, very relevant in an academic environment where you've got a gigabit-ethernet network and users accessing clusters for operations whose input files are of the order of 10s of GBs...)

It also completely buggers any notion you might have of using MAC addresses to identify machines connecting to a wired network, an idea whose helpfulness is of such magnitude I can't find adequate words to describe it.

Don't let that stop you from being a colossal bellend, though. You might just win Bellend Of The Day with that kind of performance.

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Captain Underpants
Unhappy

Re: ethernet

It's not really ethernet if it's an external USB dongle though, is it? It's certainly not gigabit ethernet if it's over USB 2.

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Captain Underpants

Graphics power a differentiator?

One thing to remember is that the Air is basically the new MacBook, and while the 13-inch Pro doesn't have discrete graphics the 15-inch does. So that'll be another way to distinguish the two.

(Personally I still have 2 big bugbears with the Air - no security lockslot and no onboard ethernet. If those two problems were eliminated it'd be a fantastic machine I could recommend to all my users without reservations, but as is I usually suggest a 13-inch pro instead if they're Apple-oriented...)

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Lawyers of Mordor retreat from The Hobbit

Captain Underpants
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Re: $100?

@YAAC - Disney setting the Gold Standard for Corporate Bellendery Of Intergalactic Proportions doesn't really have anything to do with this though.

Just because Disney are *even bigger* bellends than the crowd involved here doesn't mean bellend-like behaviour has been absent.

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Films-on-USB kiosks come to airports

Captain Underpants

Aye, but you still have a hard copy of the source for your efforts, which can be read with relative ease through a variety of hardware and software solutions (not to mention bypassed in a variety of ways).

No guarantees along those lines with this offering.

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