* Posts by Sirius Lee

335 posts • joined 14 Dec 2009

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Hola HoloLens: Reg man gets face time with Microsoft's holographic headset

Sirius Lee

Dear OP, I will be grateful if you will ditch the idea that every computing device has to come in a tiny, light almost invisible package. It is really limiting. It is surprising to me that the we do not already use modularized computing component that we can, optionally, wear around us if we choose. A larger, longer lasting battery that fits in a pocket, a CPU unit that is not right next to the the display unit, think of a personal version of Remote Desktop which a allows a chunky CPU to be separate from a small, lower power displat CPU. And other developments.

Expecting that great technology able to last for hours will fit in a small mobile phone sized package is really limiting especially for new stuff. If you, as one of the few people able to get a look a new stuff, are constantly whining about size designers are going to be constantly concerned about size which seems to put the cart before the horse for no other good reason than that's mobile phones do. But not everything is a mobile phone or needs to be that size.

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Want a cheap Office-er-riffic tablet? Microsoft Windows takes on Android

Sirius Lee

@jim - do it. I bought the 7" model (£65+VAT) and I use it every day and I'm blown away given the price. It's running full Windows 8.1 and fits in a jacket pocket. I do use it for business but then I have a full Office 365 licence which allows me to use it on up to 5 devices - this is one of them. I run Outlook hooked up to Exchange.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the performance - especially given. It's not going to do well playing CoD but opening Word or Outlook or Excel there's no discernible difference between it any my laptop on these activities. I hope this is the way of the future. Inexpensive and functional devices in a range of sizes all running Windows.

Streams well and watching Netflix either using the Windows 8 app or in a browser is smooth.

I don't use it but did checkout that I'm able to display at 1920x1200 using the HDMI connector even though the internal display is 1280x800. Compare this with my Iconia Android device which is only able to project at the same resolution.

The one thing I had to add is a mouse app. Being a touch screen device, there is no mouse unless you plugin in a keyboard. The touch screen is very good but sometimes is is necessary to be a little more precise and a mouse cursor is needed or if the display is projected onto another monitor (not using the 'copy screen' mode). I found an app that makes the whole touch screen a mouse pad and it works very well when required.

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FERTILISER DOOM warning! PESKY humans set to WIPE selves out AGAIN

Sirius Lee

Re: CO2 alarmism

This really is desperation. The challenge climate and other 'gaia' scientists face is that they are not scientists. Science is not about looking for evidence to support your favourite hypothesis. It's about finding reasons why your hypothesis may be wrong. If there is an alternative explanation your hypothesis may be wrong.

So much of 'climate' science is about supporting the cause and precious little is about finding credible alternative explanations. It is notoriously difficult so obtain funding for research into why any climate change may have more benign explanations.

And this article is about atrocious 'science'. Civilization developed in the Holocene therefore humanity needs holocene conditions. What!? What evidence is that based on. Sure, the only human civilization we know developed in these conditions but correlation is not causation. For all we know, the decline in man-eating sabre-toothed tigers may have been equally to blame - which may or may not have required holocene-like conditions.

The challenge for climate scientists is to be taken seriously and to do that the science needs to be real. Not making measurements intended to confirm a bias but rigorously looking for alternative explanations and actively supporting those that do without labelling them 'deniers'. And this is a problem for climate science because you can never prove a theory, only ever disprove it. This is why, 100 years after Einstein proposed special relativity, with its immense experimental support, it is still prodded an poked by physicists.

In my view, climate science only wants to prove there is man-made problem and this is not science.

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Increased gov spy powers are NOT the way to stay safe against terrorism

Sirius Lee

Civil servants are supposed to be quiet, civil and servile

MI6 has decided it is the exception to a policy that the heads of departments hide behind their political spokes person. This can mean that permanent secretaries do not take responsibility for their errors leaving the minister to carry the can (think of the number of Labour Home Secretaries that resigned in the wake on manifest failures by incompetent senior civil servants such as those in the border agency). But it also means the mandarins are not directly promoting policies.

However the head of MI6 seems to have decided that this is not a policy for it. Not only has the famously secretive organization come in from the cold, it's head seems to think it right that he should speak out about public policy. The surprise is that this behaviour has not been slapped down by the politicians as interference. For me, putting this organization back in it's box is long overdue for fear that if it is not, it's claimed requirements will be promoted without anyone having the opportunity to scrutinize those claims. Or it should open up and let members of the public scrutinize its claims so there can be a real, not a one-sided, debate.

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Crap broadband holds back HALF of rural small biz types

Sirius Lee

Here's a solution

Stop whining and move. Sure, it doesn't look as nice and it costs a bit more. That's life. The reality is that high(er) speed broadband costs me the cost of living in a place where it exists.

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What do UK and Iran have in common? Both want to outlaw encrypted apps

Sirius Lee

Genie, hop in the bottle please

No, in the bottle. The bottle. Yes, in you go. Oh, come on, just get in the bottle.

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ALIEN EARTH: Red sun's habitable world spotted 470 light years away

Sirius Lee

'just' 470 light years away

How can any article include the phrase 'just' when referring to many light years?

'It's a good bit further off, at 1,100 light-years.'

I know the English have a penchant for understatement and this is an example. Light from this star left the star before William the Conqueror did his thing but it's 'a good bit further off'. Makes it sound like you'd have to go all the way to the next town over to get there. No, these are vast distances and the language should, in my opinion, reflect the (literally) astronomical distances involved.

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ALIEN fossils ON MARS: Curiosity snaps evidence of life

Sirius Lee

Re: Unconvincing hype

Well have them call me. Bad science is what you do when you look for explanations that fit your hypothesis. In this case the hypothesis is that that the the structures might have organic genesis. Good science is when you look for other, simpler, more rational explanations for the same phenomena. If there is even one simple explanation, it is likely to be more relevant. Where are the comparisons of structures here on earth that have a similar morphology but are known to not have an organic genesis. That is science. That's known as Occam's razor. Maybe scientific method is no longer taught at US universities. Bumbling about spending billions justifying sending a craft to Mars by comparing pictures that confirm a bias is not science.

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Dev put AWS keys on Github. Then BAD THINGS happened

Sirius Lee

It is going to be the case that keys are going to be posted. The question is, why does AWS allow the default to be that someone who compromises an account is able to start 20 monster E3 instances in all 8 regions?

This happened to me (no, my keys have never been public and AWS staff were unable to find any) and AWS did remove the credit. However it took a lot of correspondence to have them set the number of available instances in all regions of my account except 1 to zero and in the region I use, set it to 6 instances (3 running, 3 spare).

In my correspondence I likened AWS to a credit provider who is delinquent in their responsibilities by letting creditors run up massive bills without even trying to limit the scope of their credit.

I recommend to any other AWS users that in addition to following the advice to cycle keys regularly they also contact AWS support and ask them to prevent instances from running especially in regions they are unlikely to use.

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UK retailers in TABLET PRICE SLASH BONANZA

Sirius Lee

I bought myself a 7" Linx Windows 8 tablet for £65 from EBuyer before Christmas. It's great. OK, it only has 1GB but runs Office like any other Windows device except it is 180g and fits in my coat pocket.

Though the Atom CPU only runs at 1.3GHz (burst 1.8GHz) maybe its the quad core that works because it runs really well. I have Outlook hooked up to our Exchange server and everything is good. It streams Netflix and BBC iPlayer flawlessly unlike the 1.3GHz Asus notebook my wife has. Even better, it can project at 1920x1080 using an HDMI micro port. This is a device I use everyday now. Not for serious stuff but for watching a program when everyone wants to watch something else or to check email. Let me say it again. It's great, especially for the price.

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Ireland: Hey, you. America. Hands off Microsoft's email cloud servers

Sirius Lee

Re: This, and Google's fight against the MPAA/Hood are important.

@AO Leaping in here after the article you wrote on the Hood saga anyone would think States Attorney Hood is a friend of yours or something. I know the axe you are grinding does just have Google written on it because you take wild swings at WikiPedia as well. So what's you gripe?

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Google's first stab at control-free ROBOT car rolls off the line

Sirius Lee

Only in the US

would make this comment be made about such a vehicle:

"The ground clearance looks low enough to make speedbumps an issue and the entire vehicle looks a tad flimsy for freeway use."

The vehicle looks like a Fiat or a Smart car seen on any road in London. It does look a bit utilitarian. The Google home page of car design?

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Android gives Google a search monopoly? Not so fast, says judge

Sirius Lee

Microsoft did not 'prevent' any application running on windows. What the DoJ and the States Attorneys General claimed was that Microsoft used it position as owner of the operating system to push Internet Explorer. Many people never knew there was another alternative. Others however did know and had the choice to use an alternative. The EU commission came to the same conclusion years later.

The situation now is similar. Except that Google appear to be arguing that it is not they who are providing only one option, it is the handset manufacturers.

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EU VAT law could kill THOUSANDS of online businesses

Sirius Lee

This is a MASSIVELY irresponsible post

This is a fair but unwelcome change. However, selling knick-knacks on line is NOT AFFECTED by the rules (except if you are not a micro business because the revenue of the business already exceeds the VAT threshold).

It affects only companies selling DIGITAL SERVICES on-line. Even then, a digital service that you put on a CD and send to a buyer is not affected. In fact any service you sell that requires some human intervention to complete is not affected.

On-line digital services (selling software, streaming video, on-line training courses) are affected and there is no threshold. But most companies affected have the wit and ability to accommodate the change.

And it was announced in 2005 so its not like there has not been time to get with the programme. Even if this article had some merit, screaming about it two weeks before it is due to come into effect but 9 years late is pointless. So let's see, its pointless and inaccurate.

The group most affected by the change but, perhaps, the one least able to accommodate the change is the massive number of people selling pod casts and subscriptions to drivel blogs. Neither require any technical skill to create so this group is unlikely to be able to adapt easily. So I wonder if this gets closer to an explanation of why the OP has decided to indulge in an orgy of hyperbole now.

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Whitehall at war: Govt’s webocrats trash vital digital VAT site

Sirius Lee

This is the kind of nonsense comment that show HMRC has work to do

The changes that begin on Jan 1st hit sites that sell digital products with specific requirements (that are really not that difficult). But the idea that because "we mainly sell physical products and they aren't affected" is just plain wrong.

ALL EU businesses are affected from Jan 1st whether they sell digital products or real physical things that need to be transported. At the moment most businesses charge VAT on sales to any one in the EU at the rate set by the respective national government. For a UK business selling cars to Germany then any sale will attract 20% VAT. From Jan 1st ALL businesses will charge VAT at the rate prevailing in country where the goods will be used. In the example above, the VAT on each car sale will be 19% - the rate in Germany.

Of course if the buyer is able to show they are a business by providing a VAT number then in January, as now, VAT does not have to be charged. And this is not new. Any business that is already registered in other EU states must already charges VAT at the rate in the country in which the goods are to be used. So a way of looking at it is that from Jan 1st all businesses are really registered in all EU countries so must charge VAT at the local rate.

There are some new things specifically affecting the sale of digital products. When you sell a physical product you have a good idea of where it will be used and, so, the VAT rate to use. But with digital products the buyer may or may not be in the country identified by the billing address.

So from Jan 1st it is necessary to collect 2 pieces of non-contradictory evidence to determine the location of the buyer and so the rate of VAT to apply. The country of the billing address is on piece of evidence. The country of the IP address is another. In the event that the two do not agree then other pieces of evidence can be used, such as the country of the buyers SIM card if it is available. One piece of evidence is to ask the user to confirm the billing address. This is called self-certification.

Also, if the buyer is in the EU (determined by the IP address of the browser) but the billing address is outside the EU then VAT is to be charged at the rate prevailing in the country of the IP address. This prevents someone declaring they live outside the EU to avoid VAT but then download their digital goody within the EU.

This is not difficult stuff. I've created a solution for some vendors here http://www.lyquidity.com/wpstore/ and there's more information about the change on this site. But there is all you need to know on the HMRC web site and the web site of the EU commission.

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Looking for a tip-top high-end storage array (and who isn't?) Gartner names its favorite

Sirius Lee

Gold star to the Fujitsu marketing team

So an at-best a third place gets this sub-heading:

Fujitsu box shines at OLPT, almost as good as HDS and HP

Makes me wonder what Fujitsu has to do to persuade the sub-headline writer to pop that one in which gives prominence to Futitsu and a back-handed complement to the ones leading the pack.

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Britain's MPs ask Twitter, Facebook to keep Ts&Cs simple

Sirius Lee

Pot, meet kettle

This from the people who give the tax rules and the laws (with reams of small print) that result in lengthy and difficult-to-comprehend Ts & Cs. Parliamentarians, you can resolve this one.

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HMRC dishes out tax rewards to GOV.UK... for inking deals with MEGABUCKS SIs

Sirius Lee

Re: This is Government refunding Government - nobody saves any money

Take an up vote. This comment should have been the article.

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Microsoft snorefest: For crying out loud, Nadella – just channel Ballmer!

Sirius Lee

So what you're really saying is

That Ballmer used to do your job for you now you actually have to work to find something to write about. Tough, that. After all, who wants a CEO that stays on his message and tries to make sure the organization is delivering. Much better the CEO who shoots the company from the hip, the general who makes decisions based on the last person he spoke to. Microsoft is a company that sells products to companies. It is boring. Not so many of those cool marketing gimmicks the retailers need to think up. Seems like your life just lost a little of its emotional appeal.

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Google’s dot-com forget-me-not bomb: EU court still aiming at giant

Sirius Lee

Re: European rulingNo

Not so sure your conclusion is valid. If the EU courts decides that Google must remove links from the .com site they will have contravened the law of their HQ's country opening them up to law suits there. An alternative is that they willingly ensure that the .com address is not available to browsers that have an IP address within the EU.

Google will continue to earn money from the country sites (.uk, .de, .fr, etc.) because that's how most of us here access the Google brand. However EU citizens will be the losers as they will no longer be able to see the world as others see it. Instead, we will see as Brussels wants us to see it and to my mind that's not a much better prospect that that for Chinese citizens.

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Google boss: I want Euro biz to be BIGGER THAN SEARCH

Sirius Lee

Absolutely right about the lack of investment in the EU

Why are there no Google's, Facebooks, Microsoft's Oracle's, Twitter's and so on in Europe? Why is it we have to whine about US companies gobbling our data but never have to fear that an EU will be in a position to do the same?

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Dead pilot named in tragic Virgin Galactic spaceship crash

Sirius Lee

Re: It could have been RB (and his staff (and maiden voyage crew))

<<why all this hoo-ha when the boundaries of science are not being extended any further than is necessary to prove we can burn fuel flying for purely commercial purposes?>>

Because some people would like the experience and are willing to spend their wealth to attain that experience. It isn't safe and that is part of the thrill for some people. Are you saying that no one should do anything risky? Bungee jumping, parachuting, driving, bonfires, fireworks, own guns? Or maybe only if they have your say-so?

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Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST

Sirius Lee

The BBC recently aired a documentary about the Russian side of the space race. It's an interesting story but one observation stood out for me. At the time Gobachev did his thing and USSR split, the US invested in the Russian rocket project, not so much for the technology, it was claimed, but to find things to do for experienced rocket engineers to do for feat that they might go work for the Norks and/or Iranians.

Maybe this cold war thinking is still alive and well. OR seem to have known the engines were suspect but by giving the remaining engineers something to do by re-commissioning old engines maybe it kept them in the fold and not out causing mischief elsewhere.

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BONFIRE of the MEGA-BUCKS: $200m+ BURNED in SECONDS in Antares launch blast

Sirius Lee

$200 million?

Didn't I read that the Indians (the ones living to the east of the Arabian peninsula but not quite as far a China) put a rocket in Mars orbit and the whole project cost less than $100 million? If so, why is this launch so expensive? Is it the amount of materiel the rocket is carrying? Is the fuel more expensive?

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MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer

Sirius Lee

Re: Does it follow

What's your problem? My wife often sees me browsing while drinking a cup of coffee.

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Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8

Sirius Lee

Re: IE doesn't work on Mac or Linux (which is where we benchmark right now)

Just up-voted you but also want to add a comment to note that yours is probably the most relevant comment.

It's such a shame the fanbois and penguins can't see it and feel the need to down vote such an obvious comment. Since the benchmarks could be run on Windows it would give a perspective on performance in more likely execution scenarios. It would also provide an opportunity to compare performance across platform.

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Scientists skeptical of Lockheed Martin's truck-sized FUSION reactor breakthrough boast

Sirius Lee

A b-ITER disappointment

Hype/no hype but let's hope it's true. 3 years ago while taking a break on the coast just outside Marseilles I the family and I took a trip a few miles north to the ITER site fascinated to learn about the progress being made and the prospects for this huge (expensive) international collaboration.

What a disappointment.

At the time the site was being prepared for the creation of the reactors. I learned during the presentation that they don't like using the word 'reactor' - too many negative connotations. So the site was being prepared but, perhaps no surprise, the accommodation for 650 civil servants (yes 650) were already built and occupied. No Nissan hut for these civil servants. Instead they got to occupy a state-of-the-art building.

But the icing on the cake was to learn that the grand plan is to, maybe, have a working prototype by 2040. At that time the site will be abandoned. 2040. A prototype. That's what billon/years buys you.

So that's the state of fusion research when done by a group sponsored by the tax payer. Very uninspiring. Though on the bright side, they are unlikely to disappoint anyone. But the French have much needed employment for 650 people for the next 30 years so that's good.

Given this background, maybe it's no surprise Lockheed Martin's skunk works project is making noises. They probably realise the ITER project looks like a massive, publicly funded white elephant and that a pitch to Congress might just net them some of the cash that would otherwise go to support French employment statistics.

EDF must also have been given some money because the place had all the electrical infrastructure in place both to power the research and absorb any of the energy they, maybe, one day, hope to produce.

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Knives out for new EU rules forcing govts to reveal hacker attacks

Sirius Lee

"enablers of information society services" such as Google, Amazon, eBay and Skype"

It's a bit of an indictment that the companies chosen as example targets for the proposed directive are US. based. Are there no EU companies worthy even of being mentioned? It also makes the directive look like what it is, an attempt to try to control these US companies, the services of which very many EU citizens want to use.

How about instead of trying to regulate these companies which is a complete waste of time, try to remove the reasons why there are almost no EU companies that are able to provide these services.

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Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!

Sirius Lee

Re: What...the...fuck....

Right there with you. Because there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible scenario, my take is that this is a fake story. How would this even come up in a conversation with HR in a way that is taken seriously?

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X-Men boffins demo nanomagnets to replace transistors

Sirius Lee

It's great they are doing with research

The first port of call for this will be memory which is great because then there will be a competitor to IBMs 'Raceway' memory which also promises very hgh density storage http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racetrack_memory

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IT crisis looming: 'What if AWS goes pop, runs out of cash?'

Sirius Lee

Have you taken a look at Amazon's 10Ks and 10Qs?

These are the documents all public companies are required to file with the SEC quarterly (Q) and annually (K). They paint a picture of a company investing for future. Sure, the company made a loss of over $100 million. But Amazon's stated intent is to not make a profit. On their revenues the loss is within a very small margin of error and covered many time over by their cash reserves. In other words, this is a company managing its finances very precisely and erring on making a small loss [relatively speaking] rather than pay any corporation tax. And this despite making huge capital investments. You can see that Amazon lowered it's cash holdings to 'only' $5bn by an amount almost as much as their investment in kit. Of course this was not the stated reason as a note to the accounts points out that sellers are getting paid earlier.

May be it's because we live in a time when companies no longer make major capital investments for future because it's no longer acceptable to Wall Street who want the money NOW! No software company needs much capital (for hardware) and even those that 'produce' hardware such as Apple offload the expense and risk to Chinese companies like Foxconn.

So it's not normal, and therefore note worthy to an analyst, when a company does something different. However, it's not unusual for new businesses sectors to require unusual investments upfront. Trains, telephones and broadcast TV are examples of sectors that were being funded in far greater amounts than their incomes justified the respective early days. With hindsight these were sensible investments though it probably didn't seem that way at the time.

As for the CIA, my understanding is that they are using AWS kit and software by the container load but in-house. It seems low risk to me. If AWS were to collapse, the CIA already have the hardware and software and would then have ready access to people who were looking for a job. The kit being used is commodity, right? That mean's it's available everywhere, right? So presumably even a government could procure some.

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BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS

Sirius Lee

Re: BBC produces quality TV that the market can't...

It's desperately disappointing these people are so disingenuous. A quick look at the list of 'Science & Nature' channel programs listed this morning (2014/09/10) on iPlayer shows that of the 22 programmes 18 are nature series and one of them from the 1950s and two are old David Attenborough series. Of the four non-nature 'science' programmes one is about the scary 'dark web', one about the 'romance of the Indian railways' (science, really?), one is by the long deceased Fred Dibnah (RIP) who climbed tall chimneys for a living and one about modern gadgets.

This listing is not unusual and has been the way of the BBC for a long time now. The BBC no longer does Science. It does some nature. To be fair while the recent track record is poor there have been some notable exceptions: Bang Goes the Theory (vs Big Bang Theory); the two three part series by Jim Alkalili (Periodic table of the elements/Electricity); the three part series by Michael Mosely on Pain, Puss and Poison; the two series by Brian Cox and the couple of Horizon programmes hosted by Jem Stafford were all good. But that I can list them easily and were talking about, maybe 40 hours of programming it's not a great showing.

Where is the real science? What happened to Horizon (mainly repeats or programmes 'diving into the archives'), Connections, Tomorrows World? Other channels seem to do it OK. Even Quest shows more new science stuff than the BBC (no not just endless re-runs of How's It Made).

So if I want more science in my viewing diet I *have* to look elsewhere.

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Microsoft tells judge: Hold us in contempt of court, we're NOT giving user emails to US govt

Sirius Lee

Re: they will lose customers if they fold

@AC And what market share stats are these? No, you can't include Office 365 in the Microsoft numbers unless you also include GMail. Not looking so good now, eh?

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Is it an iPad? Is it a MacBook Air? No, it's a Surface Pro 3

Sirius Lee

When a Brit does a review

A friend of mine from the US had to hire some from the UK for a job here. The interviews consisted of a string of people telling him what they *couldn't* do. This review seems to follow the same pattern. It starts out with a bunch of comments about an earlier version. What?

The review mentions some good bits, a useful caveat about DPI and a relevant observation about the USB port limitation. But spends time on irrelevancies. For example, the reviewer couldn't quite get the same battery life. Close but no cigar. Maybe the reviewer was doing different things. For example the reviewer goes on to mention that standby duration is not as long if you have Hyper-V installed. It's a *£&!ing laptop. Why would I expect that if I'm treating the machine like a server it will behave as laptop?

However the review doesn't mention whether the battery can be removed or whether the device becomes a brick in three year time when the battery can be charged or replaced.

Yesterday was GCSE day so in honour of the day I'll give this piece a solid C. A pass but a poor one.

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Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?

Sirius Lee

Well done David Allen Green

I can imagine that the job of Counter Terrorism is a tough one. Trying to work out who might be a future terrorist must be a thankless and error prone task requiring extensive and difficult intelligence work. However if the statement attributed to the Met command responsible is accurate, there seems little excuse for such careless use of words, such a cavalier attitude to, well, the law. The words, as I have read them, are those of someone who would appreciate a police state. After all, the job would be so much easier in such an environment.

So well done David Allen Green for challenging the Met.

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Brit kids match 45-year-old fogies' tech skill level by the age of 6

Sirius Lee

Channel 4 New Surf Olympics

On the back of this report evening Channel 4 news did 'surf olymics' competition yesterday between a 6 year old, a 14/15 year old and a more mature woman. The woman won. What flummoxed the teenager 'Alfie' was sending an email. Not a clue. I think I'm right in quoting him saying 'he usually sends emails using Facebook'.

Now right there is the tragedy. Email is ubiquitous and almost free but they only way a teenager knows how to send one is using platform like Facebook. Get them while they're young...

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Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold

Sirius Lee

My guess is that an idiot parliament realized it passed, at the behest of large foreign content providers, a law that could probably criminalize every young person in the country and very possibly anyone with a computer connected to the internet. That's not popular electorally. But why is it that young people break the law in this way? Maybe because the product costs too much? Because the content industry is trying to charge for the same product if, for example, you access through different channels?

What surprises me is how strident Andrew sounds when he paints the picture of the offense of breaking copyright law. Is there a history here?

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Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales

Sirius Lee

Jack, Jack, Jack, you're doing it again

Have you had an accountant, economist or MBA look over the 10Q?

Amazon is doing a great job of managing it's assets - just like investors will expect. The purpose of Amazon is not to make money because that's just a taxable amount - and who wants to pay more to the government than is absolutely necessary. The job of Amazon is to make money for its stakeholders. Shareholders are stakeholders but the ones with the least claim to the assets of the company. Management and employees are another stakeholder group but the largest group are its huge army of vendors.

Amazon's financial wizards have made sure the company made a loss of $126m which to you and me sounds a lot. But on sales of nearly $20bn that's just 0.6%. Imagine that, needing to make a loss and doing so with that precision. Maybe you do but I can't drive my car with that accuracy never mind a company of that size. The complaint really is that the accuracy it's not as good as the extremely good $7m loss in earlier quarters. But don't forget losses now mean tax offsets in future years.

You can see from the 10Q this is managed loss. The company's cash holdings have been reduced from 8.7bn to 5bn which happens to almost exactly match the increase in sales over the same period. The profile of the cash inflows and outflows does not show a 1:1 correspondence but it is the net effect. What Amazon has done in the quarter is pay a lot people reducing its accounts payable to the tune of $4.5bn over the quarter. Who has been the recipient of this largess? That's not itemized but it is a lot of money going into the economy. The justification in the notes is: "shorter payable and longer receivable cycles and the resultant negative impact on cash flow".

I think you should be celebrating Amazon not be trying to denigrate it.

Oh, and by the way, the after hours slump takes the share price back to where it was two weeks ago. Big deal. Clearly there were some over optimistic types betting on Amazon in the last couple of weeks, bets which will not pay off this week. But stock price go down as well as up. Let's see where it is next week.

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Indie labels: 5 reasons why we're hauling YouTube before Euro antitrust watchdog

Sirius Lee

Totally moronic approach

The 'indie' producers are such losers.

1) Clearly their product is not that popular or YouTube would be deluged with advertising revenue sponsoring their viewing. This cannot be happening or Google would not take the position they do.

2) In a world of cloud computing, indie producers could create their own subscription service but they don't. Presumably because they know too well there is no money to be made

3) Antitrust applies when there is no competition. It's true there is no competition to YouTube on YouTube but that's not the basis of an antitrust complaint. There's no competition for Apple in Apple stores so does that make Apple and antitrust target? No. As popular as it is, YouTube does not control the market for music videos. Many other channels are available such as Netflix, iTunes, Spotify and these are just some of the on-line ones. There's also TV, cable and, of course, shops. YouTube is very popular for people who don't want to pay for stuff but that,again, is a different thing. But if you've got very few people paying nothing it's not a great market.

Though the aficionados would beg to differ (and the zealots and marketing people always do), the indie sector does not appear to be popular and some claiming to represent that sector appear to be trying to extort money from Google without any real merit. Even the EU will see through this one.

0
7

YouTube in shock indie music nuke: We all feel a little less worthy today

Sirius Lee

It's all much more human than this

The people responsible for running YouTube have been given financial targets, not worthy ones. As a result, they are just doing the rational human thing and following the incentive plan. The question is, why has the Google board required such short-term thinking? My guess is that YouTube is not earning enough and to garner more ad revenue (and so survive) it's focusing on the content that will help revenues.

The equally big question is why are indie label manager so inept? Is stomping off complaining about poor treatment by YouTube the only response? Surely in 2014 with cloud resources just a click away, they can band together to create a streaming service of their own, market it through Facebook and generate their own ad revenue. Unless of course, most of it's crap and there really is no market for this 'indie' music.

0
0

Microsoft: NSA security fallout 'getting worse' ... 'not blowing over'

Sirius Lee

In global economy it is ludicrous for Smith to say a) the only way is for the US to stop spying; or b) governments should respect each other. Commercial companies have alternatives but its not as good for the US tax authorities.

Instead of Microsoft, Google and Amazon being US 'cloud' companies all over the world, they can facilitate the creation of local or maybe regional champions. Invest in them at an arm's length and encourage major local investors to participate. Then instead of owning the whole supply chain, some of which could be summarily chopped off, they own a significant portion of independent companies around the world but act like investors and advisers rather than owners. Of course such a strategy has its risks but, clearly, so does doing nothing.

This is not a new thing. It's pretty much how the world worked before mass communication allowed some to believe it is possible to control everything from a single location. In the days before mass communication is was necessary to involve locals and act at arms length because managing day-to-today operations from some distant land was not an option.

6
0

Women found just TWO out of every HUNDRED US tech startups

Sirius Lee

Wrong focus

Earlier this week there was an article on Channel 4 (UK) in which Guru-Murthy interviewed some young woman who had been the recipient of an award for women in IT. The point of the article, of course, was gender inequality in Google. At no point did the article stop to examine other imbalances such as that 90% of nurses in UK NHS hospitals are women. Or that by 2017 60% of doctors will be women who almost exclusively will enter general practice not obstetrics, or geriatrics or general surgery.

Role on a day and there's an article on the BBC about young women creating 'tech' companies to promote beauty products. They were each (and there are many apparently) making shed loads of cash. Funny enough, there were no blokes selling these products. But that's alright.

So it seems to me that there are women starting 'tech' companies and making money but just not the way men do it. It seems to me, then, is that the complaint is that women are not acting like men. And why would they? Only from the politically correct feminist perspective is this this the problem. Is it not more reasonable that women may want to do different things to men? Or, at least, in a different way. And, if so, surely this is a good thing.

My wife has started two companies and neither is directly in technology. Both USE a lot of tech and one is even a web based company. But what she enjoys is communicating. She's happy picking up the phone for a chat or making time to go see someone for a coffee. Sitting down for hour after hour writing code (or books or poetry) is an anathema to her.

So maybe instead of lambasting companies for not employing more women to create yet more browser technology or a new web server or operating system we should be celebrating that they create different enterprises that satisfy the needs of niches that have not been served and which men may be unable to see let alone appreciate.

Oh, and one last thought. The biggest impediment to my wife starting a company was not me or even finance. It was that it may not look good in the eyes of some of her friends. In my experience the views of the friends of women are more important to them than are the views of friends to men.

3
1

You know all those resources we're about to run out of? No, we aren't

Sirius Lee

Re: Ahem.

Whoa, Graham!

What on earth do journalists have to do with this? If there's an issue of judgement, a complex story that requires a multi-faceted perspective, especially one that includes subjective input - the care of the elderly, tax on alcohol - I can see a reason to suppose there is an advantage of having a debate arbitrated by a seasoned, well rounded individual though why that individual should be a 'journalist' really is not clear to me.

But when it comes to a question like whether or not there will be adequate minerals available to meet our needs what does a journalist bring to the table? If there are divergent perspective on such a black-and-white topic they will be held by experts in the field who have credentials such as a related PhD or fellowship of a relevant chartered organization or hold a relevant position in an appropriate leading organization. They can tell us their perspective directly and, if appropriate, we can make up our minds. This does not need to be mediated, or worse interpreted, by some who read history at uni.

Now if it is the case that the world's supply of a irreplaceable mineral will end in a few years time then maybe then a journalist will have a role in explaining why that's happened and the policy decisions necessary to take any possible remedial action.

0
1

China to become world's No 1 economy. And we still can't see why

Sirius Lee

Can't understand why?

Robert Peston made a programme broadcast on the BBC at the end of last year about China - from an economics perspective. In it he revealed the secret of China's growth: unbelievably MASSIVE investment sponsored by the Chinese government as a response the the problems in 2008. I'm not an economist so I can't comment but in his programme he left viewers with no doubt that he believes and that most western economists believe, it is a level of investment that is both unsustainable and unaffordable. He showed the fruits of that investment by visiting and giving examples of many cities that have been rebuilt and massively enlarged with all modern trimmings. He traveled to those modern cities via modern trains, on modern tracks between state of the art stations where he could alight and board a modern underground system. Not just in one city in many.

It would not be surprising, then, if leading Chinese manufacturers did not benefit from some of that investment. It may be that the Chinese work hard, but it is equally likely that its just an effect of having so much money sloshing around. Peston asked the question: what happens when this level of investment has to stop? The answer for China and the rest of the world was a bit too difficult for him to dwell on much.

0
0

Scientists warn of FOUR-FOOT sea level rise from GLACIER melt

Sirius Lee

Or this report of British researchers who claim the Pine Island glacier has stopped moving.

Antarctic ice shelf melt 'lowest EVER recorded...'

Of course this report of British research is by Lewis Page so must be wrong while the bad news is by a researcher at those shining beacons NASA and UC Irvine so it must be correct.

Wake me up when the 'scientists' have agreed on what's happening. Not least because they will by then have a handle on predicting chaos and that would be the REAL result.

3
4

London cabbies to offer EVEN WORSE service in protest against Uber

Sirius Lee

Most comment miss the point. That certain modes of transport have a monopoly creates a market distortion. In this case the consequence is that the licenced taxi cab business has no need to raise its game. As a result an upstart has found it can offer a service that is attractive. I'm guessing most posters on here are men who, for the most part, do not worry about being attacked or molested. But some will have daughters.

So is it not comforting that when your beloved daughter is going to get in a taxi - regardless of who operates it - she can let you and her friends see who it going to be providing her with the service, the route they are going to take and how long that journey will take, etc.. Seems like an excellent idea to me. It just a real pity the licenced taxi cab service did not offer this level of service years ago and that it takes a US company to make the investment to try to offer it. Then instead of embracing it - perhaps offering it as a premium service - they resort to industrial action.

If Uber were my idea the licenced business would be my first port of call so one can only imagine the businesses would have been contacted first. Presumably the licenced businesses said 'No', 'Non' and 'Nein'.

2
0

Great-firewall-busting microblog app puts AWS in China's firing line

Sirius Lee

Re: as long as Amazon doesn’t bend to government pressure

"I expect that the AWS terms of use will have some small boilerplate that would allow AWS to boot this app the minute there are any problems"

I'm sure that's true. But AWS is not free so somebody, somewhere is funding this. Since they have enough cash to have one account, they probably have the cash to have a second and third all with copies of the content so the site can be switched from account to account as the need arises.

If I were them and this was my game, I'd have a copy on the Azure platform as well. Rackspace too.

0
0

Quid-a-day Reg nosh posse chap fears for his waistline

Sirius Lee

You can eat surprisingly well on £1 a day. £1.50 and you have a feast. You just can't do it by buying fresh food to cook everyday. My meals (usually a lovely chicken Rogan Josh or Jalfrezi) cost about 60p but only because I cook a huge pot in one go and eat it in portions with a generous helping of rice. Unless you insist on some variety of rice which has been lovely tended by virgins and harvested under a full moon from Waitflower or The Cooperators, is dirt cheap. A substantial helping will cost less than 10p per meal and will easily ward off the hunger pangs. Potatoes are out because their weight means the transport costs make them expensive by comparison.

Not surprisingly, the protein is the single most expensive ingredient of my food. Iceland do a kilo of chicken breasts for about £4 and often do a 2-4-1. For me a kilo of chicken creates about 10 meals so that's 40p/meal. If I catch the 2-4-1 that's just 20p for the protein. A tin of chick peas, a couple of tins of tomatoes (the co-op do 4 tins of Italian chopped tomatoes for 70p) and an onion plus a jar of the curry paste and you can easily create a good, filling and tasty meal for 60p. That leaves 40p for some luxury items. Stay away from milk products because they are, bizarrely given the amount that's wasted, quite expensive.

If you are a labourer and into a brutal exercise regime then give it up if you want to eat for £1 day. If you are not, then there no need to eat three square meals a day and you can't burn the candles at both ends. We're conditioned to eat too much. Doctors blame sugary drinks or fast foods or tv meals for the impending obesity epidemic but I think we've just been told to eat too much of everything (including fruit). I eat one meal a day and have done so for over 10 years. I don't eat fruit except occasionally. I weigh 84kg and have done for 20 years so I'm not even eating into my fat reserves (which are more than adequate). Nor do I have rickets or some other disease from eating too little fruit and not enough vegetables.

Eating frugally while watching a supermarket ad for a lovely roast joint is a challenge so you have to learn to tune it out. I'm not recommending this to anyone (let alone everyone) but eating on a £1 a day is doable. However, it necessary to wean yourself off western eating habits and I suspect this is the hardest part. These habits seem to come less from our needs and more from the needs of Mr Kellogg, his friends Mr Proctor and Mr Gamble, their friends the Lever brothers and likes of their military friend General Mills. Plus a cadre of lazy assed health professionals who spout what we should eat (seven portions of fruit a day?) without any real evidence because the studies required would not be ethical.

2
0

US judge: Our digital search warrants apply ANYWHERE

Sirius Lee

Re: Not just a blow to Microsoft's attempts to assure non-US customers

It seems to me the solution is logically simple, if not politically so. The solution is for jurisdictions like the EU (or China or India or Australia, etc.) to only allow a company to claim they store data within that jurisdiction if they are able to do so legally. That is, they can demonstrate there is no tie to another jurisdiction which might make it possible for the company to be required to let an extra-judicial authority access the data. Then a Microsoft could store data in, say, Ireland but could not make claims about limits of access.

But maybe we in the EU have only ourselves to blame. Why is it that we use services offered by Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. and not those of an EU supplier? One reason is cost. Most services offered by EU vendors are substantially more expensive.

1
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Sirius Lee

Re: Not just a blow to Microsoft's attempts to assure non-US customers

@bazza Assuming that an Exchange clone is not a requirement and that some other mail server (Exim, Postfix, etc) will do, then this has been possible for years. The technical burden of maintaining a Linux system notwithstanding, the reason this approach is not main stream is that it assumes your connection is always on. Now I use Virgin Media at home and before that BT Home. I can assure you that they are not always on. Therefore it is necessary to have an SMTP endpoint outside your house at which point you are back to square one. And with a maintenance headache.

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