* Posts by Dr. Mouse

1334 posts • joined 22 May 2007

Pay-by-bonk 'glitch' means cards can go kaching-for-crims

Dr. Mouse
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Re: surprised? anyone?

So if they set it to £20, and just bonk everyone on the tube, they'll get quite a bit fairly fast and probably get away with it.

I doubt it.

Credit card processors do not immediately release the money. I would say it would be pretty difficult to get the money out before the banks caught on.

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New GCHQ spymaster: US tech giants are 'command and control networks for TERROR'

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Easy Solution

Would you also like to make phone companies liable for criminals who spoke to each other on the phone?

What about the gardening supply store who sold a bag of fertiliser to one of them?

The car manufacturer for selling a car to the man who ran someone over?

Amazon for despatching a clock to someone which was used as a timing device on a bomb?

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: What was the question?

But in the UK it's not possible to say "this law is only for .... " since once a power has been bestowed, it is generally used for whatever the authorities deem necessary or desirable, rather than within the strict boundaries it was originally intended.

Actually, it is possible for the government to say, in the wording of the law, that it is only for use in specific cases X Y and Z, put in sufficient judicial oversight to ensure this remains the case, and punish those who abuse the powers.

The problem is the laws are never written that way. We get spun the line of "we will only use this to catch terrorists/paedophiles", without any legal backing to control it's use. Then function creep comes in, and we are stomped into the ground, often with a "why are you complaining, we are catching criminals, if you have nothing to hide..." yada yada yada.

In addition to this, most people just don't care. I know here, on a tech site, we think about these things, but the man on the street will often just say "They are doing it for our own good". It is certainly not high on their "reason to vote" list. They would rather listen to knobs telling them that all the worlds ills are caused by Europe, or work-shy scroungers, or bankers, or whatever other group is being scapegoated today to distract us from what is really going on.

As pointed out in a famous poem, they will not speak out until the government come for them, and by then there will be noone left to speak out for them.

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Mozilla promises browser just for DEVELOPERS3

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Oh goody.

You know, I really wanted a browser with more dev hooks that I never use baked in to make it slower and clunkier.

Then don't use it. Nobody is going to force you.

They are not saying they will replace FF with this, they are releasing a new product, aimed specifically at web developers. It is not intended to be a daily driver web browser, just like Eclipse is not intended to be an office suite.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

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Virgin 'spaceship' pilot 'UNLOCKED tailbooms' going through SOUND BARRIER

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Why...

I would love to know if it is normal procedure to unlock the arms at that point. From a logical point of view, arming the mechanism would appear to be best done later, after the rocket burn.

Could it have been armed accidentally?

However, I am not even a pilot, let alone a rocket ship test pilot. Mainly, I am being Captain Hindsight.

My thoughts go out to the friends and family of both pilots.

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Disney wins Mickey Mouse patent for torrent-excluding search engine

Dr. Mouse
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Re: What happened to USER requests?

If google isn't searching the way you want it too, may I suggest you pick a different search engine?

I have tried. Nothing else I have tried does what I want either.

The most irritating bit is that Google used to do what I wanted, most of the time. It was fast, efficient and accurate. Now it only does what I want some of the time, and often decides that I don't really want what I told it I wanted, and searches for something else instead.

I do think there is a market for a search engine which returns the results you requested, rather than assuming you are an idiot. Something which searches for what you want, not what it thinks your should want, or what it wants to sell to you.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: What happened to USER requests?

I have to agree.

A search engine should be a database of web pages, along with a front end to query that database and display the results. Those results shouldn't be taken down: If you want rid of the content, take down the content. If the content exists, it should exist in the database.

I believe there would be a market for a new search engine which did exactly that, along with better filtering and sorting than e.g. Google. Google has become pretty pants in some situations.

On this note, Google, if I search for something, I don't want you to search for "similar" words (which are normally very different in the context I am using them). Return me the results I ask for, not what you think I should be searching for, and not what someone has paid you to show me!

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: So the patent goes, more or less...

I would think it's likely to be used as a legal tactic. They can take a search engine to court over displaying search results, and tell them, "Oh, you can use our method to do this". Pledge that anyone doing so won't be taken to court for that, they just have to pay a small amount of protection money royalties and they are safe.

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BOFH: Stop your tiers – when it comes to storage, LESS is MORE

Dr. Mouse
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Re: On a Saturday?

I'm happy to get an episode at all.

While I agree, it doesn't feel right reading it first thing on a Monday morning. Even if I had read it on Saturday, part of the appeal of BOFH is that you read it on a Friday, with that strange mix of loathing (of users, who have made your life hell all week), lethargy (because it's Friday afternoon, and there's nothing you are doing which couldn't really wait until Monday) and excitement (because you get to spend two whole days without coming into the hellhole office).

Friday lunch time is the correct time for a new BOFH. I suspected they'd move it when they released the "Weekend edition", but it is wrong.

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Big Retail: We don't hate Apple, we hate the credit card companies

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Using a QR code image...

Yes, the idea (as I understand it) is that a QR code is displayed at the till. This will probably be some kind of UID representing the individual transaction.

The app will scan this QR, connect to the service over the internet, and authorise the retailer to pull money from their account for that transaction.

I have to agree that I would worry about fraud. The bank won't take responsibility, as you have authorised CurrentC to take money from your bank account. Just as with Paypal, you would have to take the matter up with CurrentC and/or the retailer if a fraudulent transaction were to take place.

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Cashing it in: Personal finance apps – the best and the rest

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Add to the list

Just had a look at that. It seems like exactly what I want, except for one thing: You have to provide your online banking login details to it!

Sorry, but whatever they say about security bla bla bla, that's not happening. Nobody gets access to any of my login details for anything. Not only that, but handing my details over to them would give the bank a get-out on any fraud. It's a breach of T&Cs.

To be honest, I have thought for a long time that banks need to get a standardised reporting interface together. I believe they have one in Germany, and it can even be used to make bill payments etc.

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Tor exit node mashes malware into downloads

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Never ever trusted TOR enough to use it

The advantages of TOR come when you only use TOR. As soon as they exit onto the real internet, you are vulnerable.

The "multiple anonymous men-in-the-middle" shouldn't be able to see your traffic, as it is all encrypted until it reaches it's endpoint. If the endpoint is an exit node, you loose that protection as soon as you exit. If the endpoint is a TOR node, your data can only be seen by it's intended recipient.

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Doctors urged to adopt default opt-out approach to care.data scheme

Dr. Mouse
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Very well said!

If successive governments around the world had not systematically destroyed any trust we had in them, this would be a fantastic system. But I do not trust that they will not misuse, abuse, or "loose" this data, and my medical history is one of the most private, intimate datasets I have.

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How iPad’s soft SIM lets Apple pit carriers AGAINST each other

Dr. Mouse
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Bad, but could be good

I will say from the off, I think this is a bad move for consumers. Apple will have complete control over which network you can use their device on. You can't just pop in a SIM you picked up from the news agents. You can choose from Apple's list of partner networks, i.e. networks which agree to pay Apple.

On the other hand, I believe soft SIMs could be good, if and only if they are operated in a fair and independent manner. They would reduce wastage and allow quicker switching. To do this, I believe they would need to be administered by either an independent party, or under a regulated world-wide standard.

I doubt it will happen any time soon.

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Pssst. Want to buy a timeshare in the clouds?

Dr. Mouse
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Resistance is futile!

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Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012

Dr. Mouse
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"all personal income be taxed at the same rate whether it is earned income, inheritance, dividend income, capital gains or whatever"

I will clarify: I am not advocating a flat rate income tax. I would suggest our current income tax structure is about right.

I would also, personally, not argue for inheritance to be taxed as income. Anything passed on when you die should already have been taxed when you earned it, and I feel it is quite unfair to tax it again when you die. Passing on property, however, should be counted the same as selling it, so capital gains would apply against the estate, based on a valuation at the time of death, and capital gains would count as income to those receiving the inheritance.

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Dr. Mouse
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I honestly think that the solution to this is abandoning corporation tax. I know this will be unpopular, but hear me out.

Forget corp tax. Forget calculations of profit. Any money made by a company is untaxed as long as it remains in the company. If it is re-invested, or even held as cash, it is untouched.

As soon as it comes out of the company, the individual is taxed. This would be full income tax on everything: Wages, dividends, interest etc. While we are at it, roll up NI into income tax. It is, in effect, one and the same, a tax on income. It is much simpler to administer, too, and it encourages investment. The money will be taxed, eventually, when it leaves the company.

This would also help clamp down on those who set up a company, take minimum wage and then the rest as deividends. Those dividends get added to their income and taxed at normal rates.

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Dr. Mouse
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Instead of a high corporate tax (25% or 30%) on profit, have a low (5%?) corporate tax based on income.

What you are suggesting is VAT.

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Dr. Mouse
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"You must pay X% of your UK business income to the UK government." - seems pretty simple to me. I'm sure there are side-issues and corner cases but quite what's difficult about legislating that with enough clarifications to make what you mean by "UK business income" explicit?

The definition of "UK business income" is the problem.

The company does pay X% on the UK companies profits (business income). The problem is that companies can, through various legal means, shift those profits around. International companies can shop around for the best deals. In fact, it is pretty much a legal requirement for PLCs to do so, as they have a legal obligation to maximise shareholder value.

It is not even as though we can just "close the loopholes". All (or at least almost all) the "loopholes" are actually sane, logical rules. Let's take one of the widely used ones: shifting profits by licensing IP. The companies Irish arm holds a load of patents, trademarks etc. They charge the UK arm a license fee for using them. This "loophole" can't be closed (easily). If company A licenses IP from company B, that is a valid business cost and company A can't be expected to pay tax on it. Seeing as a multinational's UK & IE arms would be separate legal entities, the rules can't easily distinguish between this case and the case of two entirely separate companies.

The tax system is complex, but it is complex for a reason.

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Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Newton?

Actually, while there were PDAs around then, that did seem innovative to me (at the time). I don't have the time (or inclinations) to check if there was anything similar around then, but I had never seen anything like it: Touch screen, with "handwriting recognition". It looked awesome!

So I will change my opinion, they have produced one innovation.

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Dr. Mouse
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All this might be true, but once upon a time Apple was famous for designing and building innovative stuff which created whole new industries and redefined and reinvigorated old ones.

This is no dig at Apple*, but they have never designed and built entirely new and innovative stuff. They have made a success out of better versions of things which already exist, making them easier to use and/or marketing them better. They did so incredibly well, and used this talent to bring new technology to the masses, but it has always existed before they got in on the act. A non-tech person probably sees them as innovative, because they never saw the tech before Apple released it, but it still existed, in a form not too dissimilar from what Apple released.

* I don't like Apple or Apple's products, but I cannot deny their skills in making things easier to use and "cooler". As a tech junkie I have been using "smartphones" since long before Apple came on the scene, but I was always ridiculed for the choice before the iPhone came along. Their impact has been to package and market new technology in such a way that everyone wants it, even if they don't want Apple's version.

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Chipmaker FTDI bricking counterfeit kit

Dr. Mouse
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If they are in critical embedded systems, they won't shouldn't have Windows Updates automatically installed (at least not directly from MS). They should be thoroughly tested before being applied. If not, they have noone to blame but themselves.

Although IMHO a critical embedded system should not have Windows installed full stop.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: So Wrong

This is changing a setting in the device. It's not making the device blow up or wiping your hard drive. Stop being babies.

As so many have pointed out, to the average user it amounts to the same thing. All they are going to see is that their device suddenly stops working.

I can see why FTDI are clamping down. The drivers they supply are supposed to be for development use only. If their chips are to be distributed in a product, they should be getting their own IDs, assigning them to the chip, and paying for a licensed copy of the drivers with the correct IDs. This is even for original FTDI chips.

However, I feel they have gone the wrong way on this. They could have implemented this using a softer approach. For example, they could allocate one of their IDs as "Fake FTDI-compatible device", allowed the device to be used, but made it irritating (e.g. adding unreliable long term operation, frequent windows error log events, etc). This would not brick a consumer device, but would ensure the user knows they are using a fake. Possibly make the driver go into a "time limitted demo" mode. They could also ask the user to report the device, with possible discounts on equivalent originals if they do.

They way they have gone about this is, essentially, destruction of property (from the average user's point of view).

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Pay a tax on every gigabyte you download? Haha, that's too funny. But not to Hungarians

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Are you a slave?

harder and longer

*giggle*

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ARM heads: Our cores still have legs ... as shares tumble amid 'peak smartphone' fears

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Peak Processor?

You can add to that gold and many other metals.

Although you could always just use the universal label: http://xkcd.com/1123/

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Dr. Mouse
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Joke

Re: Intel threat?

It is a crack between the tables

Depends. Between tables and their existing market could be between the desktop machine and tables, which is quite a small space.

It could be between the under-desk tower unit and tables, which would often leave enough room for another computer entirely.

Or it could be between server and table. In our server room, we could fit 6-7 machines just on the floor between the rack and our table, so that would be a good market to target.

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UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan

Dr. Mouse
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There are many possible approaches to the system init process. SysV init is certainly not the best solution. It has many advantages, including how simple it is (I have written many init scripts for my own use), but it is quite messy, and pretty slow.

I have used upstart a bit. This seems just as messy, not as simple, but the parallelisation does speed things up a fair whack. This is very welcome on a desktop machine.

I haven't used systemd yet, so I won't comment.

However, when it comes to a server, I want tried and tested solutions which are simple to administer. I don't care if it takes longer to boot up, because it will rarely be shut down. My home Debian server, running on desktop-class hardware, has been running continuously for nearly a year, and was only shut down then for a hardware upgrade. Business servers get shut down only when absolutely necessary. A change from 1min to 30s to boot up makes no difference in most server environments.

What Debian need to do is preserve the choice. Allow people to use systemd if they want, but leave SysV init available too. I know this is a more complicated way to do it, but systemd is not suitable for everyone, especially a lot of their core users.

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Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Good budget tablet

My wife and I have the Tegra Note 7.

Brilliant bit of kit. OK, not much is "the best", but it does everything I need well. The stylus is really useful, the front speakers do a much better job than most for music, and it cost ITRO £130.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: None have expandable memory

So true! That really bugs me too!

Especially when non-tech publications will say it has 16GB memory in one section (meaning storage), then 1GB memory in another (meaning RAM).

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: @AC I suspect Google will fail

I remember a game we played in business studies:

We divided into teams. Every team made widgets, costing £x to build. We could sell for anywhere up to £y, and could build up to a maximum number.

The teacher had a set number she had to buy, and would buy the cheapest first. The way the numbers worked, she would have to buy at least one from every team. The objective was to make the most profit.

When we started, we all tried lots of different tactics, trying to judge what everyone else was doing to get the price and quantity right. It turned out the best thing to do was to charge the maximum and make very few. The customer would normally have to buy them all, and would always buy at least one, which was enough to cover production costs.

The idea of the game was to teach about profit. It doesn't matter how many you sell, what your top line was, profit was what you needed.

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Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Jaguars are astonishingly awful in the snow

Jaguars are essentially undrivable when it snows

I have a friend who drives a Mazda MX5. He now refers to it as the MazdaSledge(tm), after one particularly snowy period. He said more than once that he needed to start driving it in reverse, because that was the direction it always wanted to be facing.

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AndroidScript returns to Google Play Store: Ad giant YIELDS TO THE MIGHT OF EL REG

Dr. Mouse
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Re: This isn't the Droid(tm) you're looking for

IIRC trademarks apply in a particular area. The Lucas trademark on Droid will be unlikely to cover this app.

Also, as there are many apps already out there using droid, he's obviously not actively defending it in this area.

So I reckon devs can just tell Lucas "These are not the droids you are looking for".

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Hey, non-US websites – FBI don't have to show you any stinkin' warrant

Dr. Mouse
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Re: So the FBI's position is that it is legal for governments to hack US servers?

IANAL, but as I understand it the logic is:

The constitutional protections don't extend to the foreign nation. The protections are from the US govt. So, for example, a US agency would be violating the constitution if they forced someone to incriminate themselves, even if that person was in a country with no such protection.

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Big racks? Pah. Storage boffins have made a BIONIC BRAIN material

Dr. Mouse
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While the synapse-like behaviour is an exciting prospect, I just want to see Memristors in storage/memory products.

They promise so much, but look like fairy dust. They have been promised as the answer to all our problems for so long.

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Chap runs Windows 95 on Android Wear

Dr. Mouse
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Why would anyone want to spend time on something like this?

To quote George Mallory, "Because it's there".

Sometimes, the challenge is the most important reason.

It also minds me of my bosses attitude: "No time spent coding is wasted time". Of course he will be pissed off if we delay a project because something we did hasn't worked out, but we will have learned something in doing so.

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Vanished blog posts? Enterprise gaps? Welcome to Windows 10

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Live tiles on the desktop?

So why not place them where users actually reside and do their work, instead of on one or more special menus that have to be specially invoked and opened or switched to?

I, personally, see the Start Menu far more often than I see the desktop. The desktop is covered by all my applications (the things where I, and most users, actually "do my work"). The start menu comes out when I need to launch something new. The desktop, on the other hand, is visible for a few moments when I first turn my PC on.

However, I do agree that having the option is a good idea. I just don't see how that is good in the enterprise, where people are actually doing work.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Docking

Great stuff, thanks all who posted the Win-L/R, that works great! :-D

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Docking

I find half-screen docks incredibly useful

I have to say that I do too. I used to do the same by minimising all but 2 windows and doing "tile windows".

The only annoying thing in Windows 7 comes with multiple monitors. You can't seem* to dock a windows to the edge of a monitor which has another monitor next to it.

* At least I haven't found a way.

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UK reforms on private copying and parody come into force

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Do the quotes have limits?

Can you, for example, quote a whole book?

According to the article:

the extent of the quotation is no more than is required by the specific purpose for which it is used

I guess you could say "I am using the quotation to get around copyright law, so I need to quote the entire work", but I doubt that would stand up in court...

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Can The Register get a comment from Bono about all this?

To quote Bono('s character on South Park):

"Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!"

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Leaked: Mobile operators' SCARE campaign against net neutrality

Dr. Mouse
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The European Parliament proposals would therefore have rendered the UK Internet Watch Foundation's voluntary scheme unworkable.

I have to say... Good!

While I obviously don't agree with child porn being freely available on the internet, the IWF volutary system is a bad system. It relies on a bunch of unaccountable people effectively breaking the law (by downloading/possessing/viewing CP) to build a list which ISPs must "voluntarily" block in full. They cannot correct mistakes themselves. These busy bodies also are not legal authorities, so can (and have) banned legal images, which then affect legitimate sites who have very little recourse.

So, if the IWF is stopped, we should get an accountable, legal framework to do this properly.

Of course, this could end up being even worse, but at least it would be accountable.

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Want to see the back of fossil fuels? Calm down, hippies. CAPITALISM has an answer

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Tim's hopes for solar and wind are doomed

Hard to get the virgins these days, Squire.

I beg to differ. Just go to a comic book convention.

Oh, you meant female virgins.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Hydrogen is bad

[Hydrogen] has very low in energy density (MJ/kg)

Actually, not true. Hydrogen has a pretty damn high energy density, approx 140MJ/kg. To compare, petrol is 46MJ/kg, so H2 is over 3 times as energy dense.

Where H2 is less impressive is in volumetric energy density. At best, it rates as approx 8.5MJ/l (in liquid form). Again, compare this to petrol, which is around 34MJ/l.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Clean energy NOW

I'm not saying H2 is not dangerous, just that all combustible fuels are dangerous yet we use them anyway.

I met someone from South Africa a decade or so ago. He was absolutely astounded (when he first arrived) that we pipe natural gas into our homes.

A lot of it comes down to what we are used to. If we were given a container full of H2, we would treat it very gingerly. However, we are happy to have simple plastic containers full of petrol chucked in the boot of our cars. I even ride a motorcycle at motorway speeds with 4+ gallons of the stuff nestled against my nads. We have large quantities of natural gas pumped into our houses constantly, without batting an eyelid.

If cars had never been invented, and someone came along now with the idea of a metal box weighing over a tonne, powered by a highly flamable liquid, capable of 100mph+, spewing noxious gasses out of the back, it would not be allowed.

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Payment security vastly improved when you DON'T ENTER your BANK DETAILS

Dr. Mouse
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Why? Surelyit is easier to have your website open a window direct to your payment processor?

It also looks rather horrible.

This is not for a garden shed business, but a reasonably large beauty products distributor. We need to look professional.

A payment tokenisation system looks, to the average punter, as if they are sending all details straight to us. Instead, the form sends the details up to the payment processor and retrieves a token for us to charge.

Granted it is more complicated, but it looks a hell of a lot better than "OK, we have your order, now someone needs to take your money on our behalf because we can't be trusted with it".

WRT PCI DSS, tokenisation doesn't exclude you from it, it just reduces your scope, as you aren't storing any card data.

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Dr. Mouse
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We are currently implementing this on our new website. It's a great way to handle card payments: Sensitive info never touches our servers, it all goes straight to the card processor who gives us a token to use.

Personally, I could see this being moved even further away, right to the customer. Rather than them providing their card details, they generate a one-time code. This is then given to the online merchant, and they can process that one payment (and/or store it for future use, depending on the data used to generate the code). Unfortunately, this would require a standardisation on the tech involved in multifactor authentication, which banks seem unable or unwilling to do.

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Turn OFF your phone or WE'LL ALL DI... live? Europe OKs mobes, tabs non-stop on flights

Dr. Mouse
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What's the worst that could happen, someone can't make a call for 10mins

That depends entirely on what the phone call is.

If it's some ****head taking loudly to his mates, fine.

If there is an emergency (e.g. the bus has crashed on a remote road), that 10 mins could be the difference between injury and death for someone.

Personally, I would say you are being just as much of a **** as those using their phone. You are imposing your own wishes on everyone else. What about those who want to have a text conversation with someone with their phone on silent? That would have no impact on you, but you are stopping them from doing so.

Some people just think their own wishes are more important than anyone else's. What society needs is more understanding and consideration from everyone. Your attitude is that 2 wrongs make a right.

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Apple 'Genius': iPhone 6? We've had NO COMPLAINTS about our BENDY iThing

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Most people realise

"That accounts for 100% of the cases of dropping a phone in a toilet that I'm aware of"

I've heard of a few where it dropped out of a front pocket, but the funniest was a friend who had one of the Nokia phones with a waterproof case (can't remember the model, but the case split in half between screen and keypad). He found it easier to text with the case removed. You can see where this is going: texting while sat on the loo, case removed, slip, plop.

As for the iPhone issue, many people do keep their phone in their back pocket. If that's what they are used to, and it has never damaged their phone before, they are going to be peeved if they find their brand new, overpriced expensive device has bent under what they take to be normal use.

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Good grief! Have you SEEN BlackBerry's SQUARE smartphone?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: "keyboard doubles as a capacitive multitouch trackpad"

"getting good at swype, not sure I really want to go back to double-thumb-punching"

With the touchpad layer, I could see swype-style functionality being added. This would have the advantage that you could feel the keys as you swipe over them, and could be incredible.

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Huawei: Our servers are a flash in the DRAM – thanks, SanDisk

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Niche Market

Database servers and large data analysis systems, too.

Oh, and I'd shove one in my desktop if I could.

Come to think of it, if I could get lower capacity (and cheaper) ones, they'd be great for embedded machines. A single DIMM instead of a HDD/SSD (with all the additional cabling etc) would be great.

The more I think of them, the more uses I can see. I'm pretty sure they will be the future (storage on DIMMS, not necessarily using flash).

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