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* Posts by Steve

12 posts • joined 30 May 2007

UK fraudster gang go PIN sniffing

Steve

PAL's?

Wouldn't be too hard or costly to build permissive access links into the silicon surely? Could check for unauthorised case dismantling or check the software being run on bootup against a hardwired/coded checksum, anything amiss and it burns some links in the IC and game over.

I thought they'd already built interconnecting links between the PCB and terminal casing of the newer terminals such that if they were dismantled the thing would never work again but I guess that didn't take them to long to figure out a way round.

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Apple cuts UK iTunes prices

Steve
Flame

Record Pricing Differences

As an employee of the industry I fully expect to get flamed to death for this but try and understand the following.

A record is not like a car in that its is ultimately the same Ford company that will sell the same car to each country in europe.

Records are licensed to different labels for different territories, much like books and films are. Each label in each country has to do its own promotion, its own printing, its own pressing and its own advertising. Costs are duplicated in every country. Yes you could say a single label could release in every country, but there is not enough money in selling records in some countries for even the larger labels to have a working label in every territory. The premise of records being territory restricted is that each label can recoup its own costs without fear of the same track being parallel imported from another country, except by way of very small volume CD/Vinyl imports. If you want territory restrictions to dissapear you need centralised labels, they could only financially survive in maybe 4 European countries - UK, Germany, France and Italy. The rest would go bust in weeks.

The reason for wanting to keep the small labels in countries and support the current per territory licensing regieme - simple, these labels are also making and producing localised music and content to their specific country and culture. A lot of this is financially subsidised by licensed recordings from other countries. If you lose one you lose the local content too and that would be a crying shame.

As for US vs UK costs. In the US plastics cheaper, advertisings cheaper, staff are cheaper, music videos are cheaper, distribution is cheaper. Britain is a big rip off for anything media based and that applies at wholesale and industry service level as much as it does retail. Nigh on all UK CDs are pressed in the UK, we don't simply import US stock and the cost of pressing and pacakging alone is 4x what it is in the US. The levy applied by the mechanical copyright association in the UK is also higher than in the US. VAT takes 17.5% off the price of a CD, but the label loses another ~10% to the MCPS and 15% to its distributor before it see's any money back. With the supermarkets being so powerful they are also now demanding large discounts on wholesale price - so that can be another 20% gone for smaller titles.

I know people have the perception that the music industry is just the major labels and that they are all rolling in cash and are massive industries. But they pale in comparison to most big companies now and the power of the indie is rising. Please don't beat indies with the stick you all love to beat the majors with. We pay artists much higher royalties and offer much fairer deals. Any one who thinks the music industry makes too much profit and its the consumer thats getting ripped off really should look closer into the figures.

And before anyone says "but bands make loads from touring", yes they do, but the labels see 0% of it.

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123-Reg takes weekend off

Steve
Stop

Statement...

I'm sure it will be the usual crock of shite from these muppets - they couldn't even keep a status message live or updated for the duration of the fault so I expect fessing up to the truth is the last thing they are going to do. It might be their only chance of keeping the big customers though, those that haven't already seen enough and transferred out anyway...

Even if it was a hardware failure how long does it take to get a new DNS server built, online and a backup restored? - not two days, not if you aren't treating your customers with utter contempt at any rate. And this is completely ignoring the issue that a registry as big as this should surely have hot spares? And what are the odds that a hardware failure occured in both ns1 and ns2 together, at the same time? More likely the old proverbial spanner got thrown in by someone who maybe isn't up to the job. There had been intermittent resolving issues for a good 10 days before this happened - hardware failure doesn't quite cut it for me

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Music DRM 'dead by next summer'

Steve
Boffin

Why Not Lossless...

WAV downloads will come and indeed some outlets already sell in that format, but as for FLAC and all the rest that audiophiles constantly email me about to ask why we aren't selling its simple - they may work, they may be great, but 98% of the customers have no idea how to use them, MP3 will work for everyone and play on the default media player of all the common OS's and given that most people will play the downloads on a pair of headphones or speakers that cost less than 30 quid you can guarantee they won't notice the compression @ 320kbps. The whole problem of digital music is it has to date been to complex - MP3 takes that complexity away. Yes it doesn't please all audiophiles, but then again CD never pleased them either so it was never going to. Also worth noting that most people only know of FLAC because they download bit torrent albums in the format, I think the chance of a sale has already passed by that point. No doubt if we started selling in FLAC or the like, another group would pop up demanding 24-Bit

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AllofMP3.com owner faces jail time

Steve

Funny isn't it....

That nobody used to be so vocal or so numerous in their complaining that music was overpriced in the days before digital copying and the internet.

The record industry goes way beyond the four majors and for those of you that think music is overpriced consider this. Average return per sale for a single is around 45p. A number one single these days is lucky to sell 40,000 copies in a week. To get the track in the shops will cost well over £100k - do the profit analysis on that and you will see there isn't much, even with compilation income and the other sundries. Not every artist is in the same situation as The Beatles.

Music is probably cheaper in the UK than it ever has been - the supermarkets and digital track sales have seen to that. Yes you can buy it cheaper in Russia, but the problem is that even if allofmp3.com sends 15% of the revenue back to the Russian copyright bodies, those bodies do not send any of their money back to the western based societies like the PPL or MCPS.

I put this to you - you work here in the UK for say £15 an hour. I could probably offshore your job and save 50% on my wage bill. Given that you are happy to go and buy records abroad purely based on cost, regardless of wether the artist gets their dues I take it you won't complain when I send your job abroad will you - fat chance I'm guessing, and don't say it's different, it's not and if you say otherwise its hypocrisy.

A growing portion of the music business is indie based. Indies who pay artists a fantastic royalty rate compared to majors, indies who support local industry and indies who support local talent. If you want to be a set of pirates feel free, but don't be fooled by thinking that the only people you are hurting are the majors who can afford to take the hit. There's a worrying trend that people think music should be free, purely based I'm guessing on people trying to justify their piracy habits as not being illegal. Shall we stop paying our phone bills? C'mon, BT's a big company, they will be able to absorb it!

The only reason people are so swift to say that stealing music is ok is because they know that there is little the record companies can do about it. I'm sure if someone was stealing from their business or livelihood it would be a different situation completely.

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DrinkorDie warez leader jailed for 51 months

Steve

Americans upset about Ayatollahs, still?

The US is far too sentimental if thats the case!

I dont think the fact a few of our sailors been force fed spicy food and given some dodgy outfits even registers on most Brits minds - even if it did, I think the fact we quite spectacuarly destroyed the Iranian embassy all those years ago more than makes up for it - maybe the americans should give that a go sometime? - oh wait, your 'special' forces would just cock it up again..... Or maybe there just going to invade Iran in a few years anyway - that will make everything ok won't it......... :)

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Google gets into green transport policy

Steve

Fred

You'd be surprised how efficient getting oil from the well to the pump as petrol actually is in terms of energy transfer (its about 90% depending where in the world the oil comes from) - it's a massively energy dense carrier and that's one of the principal reasons we're struggling to find a viable replacement that covers all requirements.

Not discounting the hybrid option at all - just the feed in aspect and to a certain degree the whole plug in idea. I work on fuel cell vehicles (30 years off reality currently) and hybrids are going to be the stepping stones towards hydrogen, the potential efficiency of diesel hybrids especially is phenomenal. I just wish the manufacturers would stop hybridising really ugly cars - people might actually buy more of them if they looked vaguely half decent - who except a tree hugging hippy (or media whore celeb/Scientologist/politician) wants to be seen dead in a Prius? It's the Ann Widecombe of cars...

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Steve

Errr - Plug In Hybrid Feed-In Fantasy

Not a new idea, but still a very crap one!

So we're going to put power from the grid and into battery storage at night to extract during the day, following the numbers through -

Generation Efficiency = 35%

Transmission = 93%

AC > DC = 90%

Battery Charging = 70%

Battery Discharge = 60-80%

DC > AC = 90%

Transmission = 93%

Total process efficiency = 12%

So instead of a straight ~32.5% efficiency of generation and transmission we're going to accept a reduction of 2/3 in order to use PI-HEV's as some sort of electricity reservoir, and that's meant to be green? Are they completely mental?

Not to mention that its a completely unpredictable, unreliable and unmanageable solution to transient power demand during the day. Yes electricity at night is cheaper, but its not any greener now is it.

Plug in hybrids make sense in some global markets, but far from all - and feeding back in is sheer lunacy, it's pie in the sky shite like that which gives electric vehicles a laughable rep. No doubt David Milliband would think it was a great idea though.....

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So what's in a URL? The Reg URL?

Steve

Keep both and point them at one place?

If i'm right in the thinking that you need two seperate sites to serve locally relavent content and probably most importantly sell advertising space to advertisers who want to sell into a particular market then why not just have one single site where the users IP is parsed and you then send them to the relevent edition? (clearly, undetermined IP's get sent to the UK version)

Then have something in the topbar which allows the user to select which edition they view should they not wish to view the version for their locality.

Not only does this mean you only need one site, without the need for endless subdomains blah blah, it means it scales - should you add say a Brazilian edition you just add a new edition for the locality and set up the IP parsing.

That way you can have as many domain endings as you like, just all pointing at the same place. And if you feel the need to have the site stored in several localities to minimise international transit just use a CDN platform.

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2012 Olympics logo debuts to whalesong

Steve

Sweet jesus....

a/ Which complete idiot ever approved a proof of that and I take it we can now assume the organising committee is full of yes men/yes bints fearful of disagreeing with anything.

b/ How much did the artist take them for?

It's worse than one of Alsops' masterplans for renovating/turning into a theme park some old industrial town.

Even the Web 2.0 crowd could have done better - at least a nice 'Beta' logo would have meant they could have changed it

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Not happy with PC World's customer service?

Steve

Use Collect In Store? My arse...

Often when stuck in some back water with no decent trade outlets and desperate for some random piece of overpriced IT I have used the collect in store feature.

The most usual outcome is that I stand at the desk for half an hour only to be told to some bod who would struggle to serve penny sweets at a saturday market that 'it hasn't been picked yet' despite leaving a good hour + 3 just to ensure the lazy mofo's have had time to pull their thumbs from their arses and go and get it off the shelf - I then have to go and get it myself. If it wasn't for the fact that the prices were so different I should have learnt by now just to do that straight off.

I pity any non-IT savvy who fall for the ideal of big brand = quality and who actually rely on the advic of these monkeys to buy or fix a PC. PC World makes dell customer care look distinctly 5 Star and most of the Dell call centre staff speak better english - next time your in store ask the sales rep 'can you say dime bar'....

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Westminster blows £29m to save £20k

Steve

Missing the point...

Except in the deepest darkest days of winter street lighting acts as useful night base loading for our now mainly slow transient coal and nuclear generation, the amount of which is only going to increase as the fast transient gas generation becomes more and more expensive to run. If the bulbs are more efficent at turning power to light then fine but it's a really crap way of trying to save any significant amount of energy

If people really want to save power its very simple - turn off the aircon that for some unknown reason is now appearing nigh on everywhere - its England ffs not Spain, do we actually really need it outside of plant rooms and hospitals?

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