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* Posts by Steven Roper

1389 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Privacy crusaders: ISPs in 'conspiracy of silence' over Snoop Charter

Steven Roper
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meta name="keywords"

content=" ANFO,avoid detection,blast,bomb,contact cell,destroy,detcord,detonation velocity,diesel,disaster,FBI,Federal Reserve Bank,fertilizer,hexamine,Interpol,kill,Nitropril,Obama,police,RDX,truck,unmarked,Wall Street,White House"

That should do it.

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Human rights groups rally humanity against killer robots

Steven Roper
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Re: Good

"Or anything ... that denies the target a chance to fight back at their attacker..."

Ah yes, the old principles of honour and fair fighting in warfare. In days of old when knights were bold and all that.

There's a song from around 1979 you should listen to (if you haven't heard it already) by Chris DeBurgh, called "Crusader." Especially listen to the last verse, which is a reprise of the first with a few significant changes. It's just as relevant today as it was in the post-Vietnam era it was written to satirise. It still brings a lump into my throat when I listen to it.

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First Firefox OS developer phones to launch on Tuesday

Steven Roper
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What I want to know is

1. Will it be subject to "remote control" by Mozilla, in the same way that Android, iOS and Windows 8 all are by their respective vendors?

2. Will it "phone home" to Mozilla about everything I do, and build profiles on my surfing and usage habits to sell to advertisers and other exploitative scum?

3. Will it trap me in a walled garden where the only software I can install is that approved by Mozilla?

4. Will it require me to sign in to an online account in order to use my device?

5. Will it force me to use cloud storage over my own local storage?

6. Will it allow Mozilla to reach into my device and delete or modify apps and content a la Amazon / Google?

7. Will I be required to sign away my most basic human rights of property ownership in order to be able to use the device?

8. Will Mozilla require a free-for-all copyright licence to use any content I create with the device as they see fit without credit or renumeration to myself?

If the answer to all 8 of these questions is "No", then I'm definitely interested. Mozilla, you have a chance to give the middle finger to every fucking greedy corporation on this planet who seem to have forgotten what the words "freedom", "privacy" and "personal ownership" mean. Please don't fuck it up by joining them.

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Securing the Internet of Things - or how light bulbs can spy on you

Steven Roper
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Perhaps nothing

illustrates the extent to which corporate greed and government powerlust have perverted technology than the comments in this forum.

This is a tech site. Its readers are technically minded people; geeks, nerds, wizards, hackers, IT professionals. These are the sort of people who in the past have always eagerly embraced new technologies and looked forward to the future of computing technology; a future of immersive alternative realities, the world's information at our fingertips, artificial intelligences to augment our senses and brains and make us into superhuman demigods.

Instead, our responses now have become focused solely on how the ruling elite will use this technology to enslave, monitor and control everyone. The first thing we think of when new technologies are discussed is no longer the benefits it will bring, the advances it will provide, or the problems it will solve. Now it is all about how corporations will use it to pry into our hearts and minds, the better to manipulate us into buying paying for their permission to use their products; how governments will use it to keep us under constant surveillance to further their absolute control and regulation of every minutia of our lives.

Where did we lose it? Why have we let things come to this pass? We have allowed evil, greedy and corrupt people to dominate our society, our businesses, and our governments; we have allowed them to turn every tool we created against us, and all that remains now is that the future is a horror.

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Steven Roper
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Big Brother

Re: No

"...and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week."

Except that even Orwell couldn't have imagined the extent of this horror.

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ZTE ejects from Iran as Feds probe spy-tech export claims

Steven Roper
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Facepalm

Re: Erm.... Anon because one or more Feds might be reading this.

Erm... if "the Feds" wanted to find out who you are, they'd contact their UK counterparts who would then serve El Reg with a warrant, and El Reg's staff would hand over your email, account details and the IP addresses you've posted from for the last few years without a second's argument. Sir yes sir.

Anonymous Coward only serves as protection from other Reg commentards, it's about as effective as wet paper armour as a defence against police or governments!

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YouTube beats off $1bn Viacom copyright case once AGAIN

Steven Roper
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Devil

Those of you

commenting that if YouTube is protected by safe-harbour then so are Pirate Bay or Megaupload, are forgetting one important detail: You Tube is owned by a large multinational corporation with billions of dollars to chuck at lawyers, while Pirate Bay and Megaupload were set up by little guys with fuck all. You lot are aware that there's one law for corporations and their upper echelons and another for us little people, and that justice is only a commodity for sale to the highest bidder, right?

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PEAK APPLE: Fondleslab giant no longer world's biggest biz

Steven Roper
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Re: So which are these larger companies?

Well, aside from Exxon Mobil, there's Royal Dutch Shell, Walmart, Sinopec Group, BP, China National Petroleum Corp., Saudi Aramco, Vitol, State Grid Corp. of China, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Toyota, Total, Volkswagen Group, Japan Post Holdings, Samsung, Glencore, and Gazprom, all of which are bigger than Apple in terms of revenue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companies_by_revenue

See Apple down there at number 19?

Most of these corporations also have their fingers in a lot more pies than Apple, which is why you won't see their share values going up and down like a two-bob watch.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Let it go.

Fondleslabs, like commentards, Bulgarian airbags, the milliWales and the speed of sheep in a vacuum, is part of El Reg's lexicon and community culture. If these things annoy you, perhaps you might find Ars Technica more to your liking? It's right over there. --->

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Boffins build ant-sized battery, claim it's tough enough to start a car

Steven Roper
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Boffin

Re: Research Bad News & Laboratory Products

If people are ignorant and cynical it's because they're sick of snake oil salesmen promising the moon wrapped in cellophane and then never delivering. People aren't born cynical, they get that way because talk is cheap and bullshit is common.

My cynicism switch is triggered by people talking about inventions that improve on current technologies by orders of magnitude, like this article - that's when I start rubbing my beard and saying things like "oh yeah, sure..." because my life experience has taught me, repeatedly, that big talk goes with hot air.

For me the two biggest causes of this syndrome are data storage devices, and portable energy sources. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen articles about researchers inventing umpteen-petabyte-in-a-matchbox holographic crystal storage devices but, years later, the largest hard drive I can buy is STILL only 4 TB. I'm not expecting to see anything much bigger than a dozen TB at most come to market in the next 5 years - if it does I'll eat my own socks and post the video on YouTube.

I have the same attitude to battery promises as well. I don't know how many times I've read articles about the next big thing that will revolutionise battery technology only for it to vanish in a puff of vapourware and never mentioned again.

That's the crux of the problem and the cause of the cynicism: a single article like this appears in the likes of El Reg and Ars Technica and then is never mentioned again. No follow-up articles, no progress reports, no "this time last year we reported on...", nothing. That's why people get cynical.

And the reason that these things only ever appear once is that a lot of these "inventions" are the products of graduate students doing something for their thesis or paper in order to obtain that degree or other certificate that they hope will get them a nice cushy job in a corner office somewhere. Once they have the piece of paper and the cushy job, the invention joins the millions of other inventions buried in the archives of some university library and is never looked at again. Once the students graduate, their university projects usually come to an abrupt end - and the fabulous invention we've been promised evaporates in a puff of library dust.

So if this cynicism is crushing researchers' spirits, maybe those researchers should consider the benefits of keeping the public updated on the course of their research. If I saw even one article mentioning progress on a technology that was reported a year or so ago - even just once a year would suffice, because I understand that it can take a few years to bring a prototype to market - just keeping people updated on the development progress would go a long way toward assuring us that this wasn't just another student's graduation ticket to be buried in an archive box once they've got their bit of paper.

Until then, I'll just keep rubbing my beard and saying, "yeah, sure mate..."

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Magic mystery malware menaces many UK machines - new claim

Steven Roper
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Go

Why terrified?

Given the way those particular years have seen political correctness replace common sense and fear replace freedoms, I couldn't be happier if the last 12 years had never happened TBH!

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Eerie satnav boffinry claims it can predict THE FUTURE

Steven Roper
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Re: Flaw in theory...

And have it deliver said shock to the privates automatically, with the voltage increasing in logarithmic increments, every half-second that the idiot has his hands off the wheel.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Nanny Car

" I was dubious as to Google Nows usefulness but am becoming convinced,... slowly."

Don't become too dependent on it. Remember Google have a track record of killing off useful services once they start being used by too many people. Remember Wave, Buzz, iGoogle, etc, etc...

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Space elevators, vacuum chutes: What next for big rocket tech?

Steven Roper
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Re: Space elevated....

"...you don't want airports near populaton centres, but everytime someone builds an isolated one people start building all arond it"

And then all the NIMBY idiots building around the once-isolated airport start complaining about traffic congestion and aircraft noise...

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Oz regulator “welcomes” debate on limiting net neutrality

Steven Roper
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Yep, me too.

I read the article as far as that line and then, assuming the rest of the article would be like-minded anti-freetard rant a la AO, I just clicked into the comments section to see if there was a shitstorm over it. Well, not so much a shitstorm, but you beat me to it, so here's my support to your statement.

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'North Korea Has Launched a Missile' tweet sent by mistake

Steven Roper
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Meh

Re: Why?

...they invaded Iraq over the fact they suspected they might have WMDs with no evidence. NK has WMDs, admits it, and is threatening to use them and we do nothing...

That's because there isn't any oil in NK (or any other exploitable resources for that matter.)

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FAA: 'No, you CAN'T hijack a plane with an Android app'

Steven Roper
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Flame

The appropriate response...

to nannies like you is to lock you securely in a little rubber room where you can be safe and sound from all the nasty tewwible evil things that can go wrong in life and in the world.

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StreetView spots possible roadside nookie down under

Steven Roper
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Joke

Re: So Obviously

@Gray Ham

Obviously, you haven't watched any Monty Python recently ...

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... time machine. Iranian Dr Who claims he invented a ...

Steven Roper
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Muad'Dib has arrived!

As the great Frank Herbert pointed out, the ability to see the future collapses the future to the observed state, so it seems that Iran finally has their Kwisatz Haderach.

Next up, Muad'Dib's Jihad establishes the One True Faith over the entire world, locking in the future he and his Iranian compatriots have forseen, until his son Leto II arrives to free us all with his Golden Path.

And even far Gangishree isnt far enough... anyone want to join the Scattering with me?

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Inuit all along: Pirate Bay flees Sweden for Greenland

Steven Roper
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Re: thepiratebay.ml next?

I can see that happening sooner rather than later. Running to Greenland won't save them, because Greenland is a dependent territory of Denmark, and Denmark is just as much up the arses of the MAFIAA as Sweden is, so they won't last long there.

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Windows 8 has put the world's PC market to sleep - IDC

Steven Roper
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It's not just the lack of a Start button or the UI changes that are keeping people away from Windows 8. It's the Appleification of the entire OS - the walled-garden app store; the requirement to sign in to a Microsoft account to use the system (or at least the constant nagging to do so if you choose not to), and the concomitant spying that goes with it; the remote-control mentality; and the emphasis on cloud rather than local storage.

No doubt the Windows 8 fankids will counter by saying "but you can get around those by..." but that's not the point. I shouldn't have to "get around" these restrictions. They simply shouldn't be there. My computer is mine, not Microsoft's, and the sooner they realise that it is this Apple-like control-freak mentality as much as the radical UI changes that is keeping businesses and individuals alike away from it, the quicker their market will recover.

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NASA-backed fusion engine could cut Mars trip down to 30 days

Steven Roper
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"...would be able to pulse every minute or so and not cause g-force damage to the spacecraft's occupants."

And how exactly are they going to pull that off? Did they invent the Star Trek Inertial Damping Field while I was asleep or something? Because in my physics book, the recoil from an FDR going off once per minute is going to have much the same effect on the astronauts and all their various clipboards, tools, equipment and bodies floating around in microgravity as firing a gun, getting slammed into the stern wall every time this thing 'pulses'...

>hmmmmNNNNNNNNZZZZZZ-BANG!!!<

>crash wham wallop ker-thumpetty thud<

"Ow! That's the fifth time you've landed on top of me you fat bastard!"

"Hey, Bob, you seen the way the solar panels wobble on their mounting on that last pulse? Come up here and take a look."

"Oo-er, they do look a bit wonky there mate, lemme get my toolkit out-"

>hmmmmNNNNNNNNZZZZZZ-BANG!!!<

>crash wham wallop ker-thumpetty thud<

"Haha, ya missed me that time fatso! Wanna try again?"

"Forget about that mate, one of the panels is definitely coming loose out there, look."

"Yeh, well if you get off me toolkit I can head to the airlock before the next pulse and go out to-"

>hmmmmNNNNNNNNZZZZZZ-BANG!!!<

>crash wham wallop ker-thumpetty thud<

"FFS this is getting beyond a bloody joke, how long did you say we were accelerating for again?"

"Well, I'd say not for much longer, because that last one just took the portside panel off..."

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Star Trek phaser sells for a STUNNING $231,000

Steven Roper
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Re: Nuts

"Madness, especially as they used to be for sale in toy shops for £2.99."

And the toy would probably be a lot less fragile than the cobbled-together-from-old-camera-parts-by-the-props-department one-use props they make for the movies!

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Library ebooks must SELF-DESTRUCT if scribes want dosh - review

Steven Roper
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Re: Profiteering

"...they also cost ~$0 to distribute, while the cost of paper is quite high..."

No, they do not cost $0 to distribute. I really don't get how people get this idea that just because digital data has no physical existence, that it somehow doesn't cost physical money to distribute. Do you think that the ebook, music, video or whatever data just magically floats though the ether into your reader/player or something?

Now before I go on, I want to state for the record that deteriorating ebooks, like all forms of DRM, is a really stupid idea and will merely encourage piracy in a big way. On that score I'm with the majority of readers here.

That said, my company runs and maintains several e-commerce websites, including an ebook retailer, and we also have a publishing division where we set up, design covers for, proofread, typeset and lay out books (both paper and digital) for our authors. (To make a point, authors occasionally ask us about copy protection on ebooks and our stock response to them is that it's a waste of time and money. If people are going to pirate your book they will find a way, and making life difficult for legitimate customers will only compound the problem.)

It costs real money to run and maintain websites and app stores, which are the primary method of digital content distribution. Bandwidth costs money - a metric fuckton of money if you get a lot of visitors trawling through your sites. Hosting costs money. There's domain registrations, SSL certificate renewals, payment gateway fees, transaction fees, merchant account fees and of course all the plethora of government levies, taxes and tariffs on same. Then there's the small matter of hiring tech support to maintain and update the sites and sort out any issues, and people to read and answer the piles of emails and phone enquiries coming in. On top of that you also have payroll costs, worker's comp insurance, various workplace OH&S compliance costs, software licences, hardware upgrades, office rental, utility bills, accounting fees, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and there's advertising and marketing costs to factor in to all that as well, so that people know about our books and come to the site to buy them. It all adds up.

So what it amounts to is that one set of costs has been replaced by another. Instead of printing, trucking and warehousing costs for dead-tree books we have bandwidth, hosting, site maintenance and payment-gateway costs for ebooks instead. Yes, on a per-book basis the latter is certainly less than the former, and yes, our ebook prices vs paper book prices reflect that; but the cost of distributing digital content certainly isn't zero. Not even per book. Not even close.

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The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Steven Roper
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The ZX Spectrum, helping nerds and geeks not get laid since 1982.

FTFYA

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Steven Roper
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Thumb Up

Re: PET/CBM

The PET has always been my favourite case design, right up to the present day. There was something innately "Buck Rogers-ish" about the trapezoidal shape of the monitor housing, and it was all angles and lines and chunky solid shapes. Remove the green-screen CRT and replace it with a modern flat-screen and it still wouldn't look out of place in any sci-fi show you'd care to name!

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Hard luck lads, todger size DOES matter: Official

Steven Roper
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Re: Also

I'm not a fan of big tits either. As my Dad always says, anything more than a handful is a waste!

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Norkoshop: How Pyongyang well and truly forked Adobe

Steven Roper
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Re: pathetic

"i just have a distaste for subliminal persuasion and propaganda which has been going on for centuries, perpetrated by parasites in power..."

As do I, mate, very definitely. You only need to read my many rants on this forum to see that I also am very against the kind of mass social engineering, "political correctness" and abuses of psychological science used to manipulate and control the public.

Yes, many things about the USA and its allies get my stink on too, so I certainly don't follow them blindly either. And not for nothing do I refer to my own country as "the Nanny State Republic of Ausfailia" when the prissy government of this benighted shithole pisses me off.

Your original post, however, unfortunately came across as sounding very like a typical angsty post-adolescent trying to seem edgy by railing against the West in favour of any regime that is their enemy, no matter how despotic. To me such people lack perspective; the Western regime is corrupt and greedy and seriously needs a big kick up the bum, certainly, but it's nowhere near as evil as the regimes in North Korea or Syria or Congo or the like. Those regimes are far more deadly and oppressive than what we live under. So if that was not your intention, then I apologise for the snarkiness of my response.

At the same time, I agree that what we have to put up with is still completely unacceptable. People who dismiss our political issues as "first world problems" annoy me just as much as those who make overblown comparisons between Western governments and barbaric regimes like those third-world dictatorships referred to. Supporting the likes of North Korea because we're pissed off with greedy bankers and corrupt politicians is not the way to go; there's a saying relating to that mentality that goes, "out of the frying pan into the fire." That's why I jump on those angsty supporters of NK and Iran and so forth, because they're so blinded by their anger at the injustices of the West that they don't see the even greater injustices of the third world - which they would see replace our own!

It comes down to "better the devil you know", I suppose. But it's still a devil.

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Steven Roper
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FAIL

Re: pathetic

I don't know if you've been to North Korea or not, Grave, but if you have any shred of human decency about you I'd say you most likely haven't, because if you have and can still post that with a clean conscience, I'd sincerely hope you aren't going to get anywhere near any political power any time soon.

I haven't visited North Korea myself; but one of our clients had, some years back, and over a nice half-day business lunch she told us all about her 3-week stay there. Like you, she had cause to doubt "Western propaganda", and decided to go see for herself what life in North Korea was like.

During that time she was micromanaged beyond belief; she could not go anywhere without her "guide", who carefully ensured any photos she took reflected well upon North Korea, she could only go to designated areas obviously designed to dupe tourists into thinking everything was absolutely wonderful there, and the guide even dictated to which of the carefully selected locals she was allowed to speak to - and even what she was and was not allowed to say to them.

This, all the while constantly insisting that the freedoms, luxuries and privileges enjoyed by the people of North Korea under the benevolent, prosperous and enlightened Kim rule far surpassed anything granted to us poor victims of greedy capitalism here in the West. And the guide gave every indication of absolutely believing everything she said.

One thing our client made very clear was that the rule of the Kim dictators goes way beyond mere totalitarianism and deep into the worst bowels of fundamentalist religion, with a fervour, zealotry and abhorrence of heresy that makes even the Inquisition or Hezbollah look like libertarians in comparison. Children are systematically taught in schools that Kim Il-Sung is to all intents and purposes God, that all good things in the world come from him, and all bad things come from disobeying him. It is dinned into them, every lesson, every day, at school and at home. Even the childrens' games involve adulation of the "Dear Guide."

And it is all done in such a convincing and manipulative manner - and my client described this as the worst horror she experienced - that she even started believing it herself within a week or so of staying there, so insidious was the constant propaganda bombardment. That was the real eye-opener. If they could come that close to convincing a skeptical western tourist in the time of a 3 week stay, of Kim's "kindness and love for his people", imagine what a lifetime of it must do to the poor sods who live there.

Now this hyper-religious despotism ruled by insanely egotistical nutjobs is threatening to murder millions of innocent people with nuclear weapons and fanatical warfare. It is not the USA, or Europe, or South Korea making these threats. It is North Korea's rulers themselves making these threats. And you have the gall to have a go at the Reg for taking the piss out of these bastards, simply to show us all how edgy and anti-establishment you are. Hooray. What a marvellous freedom-fighting hero. Clap, clap.

Yes, in your case, I really do hope "what goes around comes around", and "karma is a bitch". Hopefully you get to live in North Korea since you love it so much, if you think they're just a scapegoat for Western propaganda. You'd most likely really enjoy life there after a while.

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Mozilla floats payment simplification balloon

Steven Roper
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Re: Never, ever, will this happen for me!

I hate to break it to you matey, but your money already isn't "offline." Every time you whip out your card at a shop counter, every time you use an ATM, even if you use a passbook in a bank at a teller's booth - how do you think the transaction gets processed? It goes into the computer and gets sent out across the internet via secure link in exactly the same way as you using a browser to access a bank website or shop online. And even though ATMs use their own custom network as opposed to the wider internet, it still has the same essential vulnerabilities. If,as you say, you work in the computer security industry, you would already know this.

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Steven Roper
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Nice idea, but...

I really don't want the task of making online payments to be made so easy that it short-circuits my decision-making processes - which of course is what the advertisers and sellers want! As a web dev myself, I can see both sides of this.

By way of explanation, let me draw a comparison between buying in a shop and buying online: The difference is that in a shop, the buying decision is made at the shelf the product is stored in. You physically look at the product, decide if you want it or can afford it, and then put it back or put it in your shopping trolley accordingly. By the time you get to the checkout, the decision has pretty much been made, because very few people back out of buying something once they're at the counter. There's a kind of "public shame" associated with backing out of buying stuff once you've arrived at the counter for the cashier to ring up.

Online, however, you can click items into your cart willy-nilly, because come checkout time, there's no "public shame" and backing out of the purchase process at the last moment is easy. I know, because my job involves developing and maintaining e-commerce sites and "checkout abandonment" is a lot more common than in bricks-and-mortar shops. Finding ways of reducing this checkout abandonment is a major design issue for any e-commerce dev team, and it's what's behind this push by Mozilla.

For me, when I buy on line, I add things I like the look of to the cart as a way of "bookmarking" items I might want to buy; and the decision-making process comes when I am confronted with a credit-card entry form and see the total amount I'm about to spend. Do I really need to buy this right now? If not, just back out of the checkout and delete it from the cart. Or just abandon it altogether and keep searching for a better deal.

For this reason, my site designs always include an easy "cart <-> wishlist" transfer button next to each entry, so customers can instantly transfer items they don't want right now into their wishlist, allowing them to come back and buy it later if they wish. It's not a sale, but a wishlist is a whole lot better than an abandoned cart. And they can do that all the way up to the credit card form.

Conversely, when I'm in a bricks-and-mortar shop, I make the buying decision standing in the aisle looking at the product, because I know that once I head to the checkout it's like a psychological point of no return.

So for me, and probably for many others, eliminating the credit card form takes away that stop point. One easy click and bam - I've just spent way more than I meant to. Which, of course, is exactly what the sellers want; to eliminate the decision making process as much as possible to profit from all those impulse purchases. As a site developer, it's my job to make that happen.

And that is why, as a customer, I prefer to have to enter my credit card number for online purchases. It's where you stop and think about the fact that you're about to spend money; an equivalent of the in-shop counter - do I have everything I need, do I need everything in my cart? Take that away, and I suspect a lot more people will come to grief over overblown credit cards than is even happening now.

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Hubble boffins: Incredibly old supernova could explain EVERYTHING

Steven Roper
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Re: Im confused.

"ℂ is infinite in any direction, but at no point do you find the same number!"

Yes you do. There is an infinite possible number of values between 0.999...[infinite decimal places]...99 and 1.000...[infinite decimal places]...01 but all of them are equal to 1. Infinity is weird like that. Like its reciprocal zero, it isn't really a number in its own right, and is neither 'large' nor 'small', but is simply a theoretical delimiter of any number set, that has no quantal value in itself.

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Ahoy! Google asks US gov't to help sink patent 'privateers'

Steven Roper
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Big Brother

Re: Capitalism

"And, no, we don't actually have real capitalism. We have a massively corrupted form of capitalism."

Absolutely. Pure capitalism, like pure communism, is a fantastic ideal on paper or as backing for revolutions and upheavals, but because of the innate greed and perversity of human nature, neither can actually work in a real-life scenario.

Because no matter how fair or just a political ideal may be, someone, somewhere, wants to gain at the expense of the other guy, and it's the ones who discover ways to game the system to their own advantage that always end up winning; and what you then have is an inevitable return to the old aristocratic feudal society where the rich descendants of the gamesters who ruined the ideal system for their own gain, become the dynastic rulers of the new order.

Historically, humanity's method of dealing with this sort of dynastic corruption has always been revolution and upheaval; a group of disaffected revolutionaries extol the virtues of either a communist or capitalist idealistic system as described above, enlist the help of the proles in overthrowing the dynastic rulers with the promise of a bright new future for all, and if they win, for a brief golden age everything is wonderful. But invariably some new gamester appears to exploit the new system, and so the cycle continues.

Until now. With the advent of technology, and more so psychology, revolution has become impossible. With psychology, the dynastic rulers can control and manipulate public opinion, tying the disaffected up with minutiae until an absolute hierarchy prevails forever. The days of storming the Bastille with pitchforks and torches are well and truly over. One only has to look at the fate of the Occupy movement and the public perception of them to understand exactly how this works. Expressions like "first-world problems", "hippies expecting handouts", "get a bloody job", "I work my arse off so should you" echoed by huge numbers of middle-class office sheep, like many on this forum for one example, show the effectiveness of psychology and manipulation of public opinion in derailing revolutions.

Technology was supposed to free us and make our lives easier. Back in the 70s, the average working week was 38 hours, with talk of automation leading to a future where the three-day-week would be the norm. People would have more time for leisure, and everyone would benefit from the many new ways in which technology would free us from the exigencies of manual labour.

Yet it didn't happen, did it? Now, your average working and middle class wage slaves toil 60-to-80 hour weeks AND rubbish the hell out of anyone who doesn't want to do the same. The buying power of the average Joe has decreased massively: for example, in 1975 my Dad earned $108 per week working 38 hours a week and bought his house for $25,000. Today, a worker in that same job works minimum 47 hours for $620 a week and can expect to pay $350,000+ for a similar house. You work it out: 25,000 / (108 pw / 38 hrs/w) = 8,796 hours' work for a house; 350,000 / (620 pw / 47 hrs/w) = 26,532 hours' work for a house. That's less than ONE THIRD the buying power per hour of labour today than what we enjoyed in 1975.

So it would seem that the same thing has happened to the ideal of capitalism under today's leaders, as what happened to communism under Lenin and Stalin. Except that the revolution that brought the Soviet Union to its knees won't be repeated in the West. The abuse of technology, and the master manipulators of psychology and all the bleating sheep who worship their own slavery at their hands, have seen to that.

(1984 icon because Orwell beat me to it by 65 years)

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Disney shutters Star Wars game unit with 200 layoffs

Steven Roper
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Re: The LucasArts I mourn died over 15 years ago

Oh god, the memories!

There was a trio of "Fractal engine" games that LucasArts brought out for the Commodore 64, including the one you mention: Rescue On Fractalus, Koronis Rift and The Eidolon. These were groundbreaking stuff, the first to use fractally-generated 3D environments in a game, as opposed to the preset tiles method of building game worlds that had been the norm up until then.

I loved all three, and wasted many a month of my youth playing them. I particularly loved Koronis Rift; the quest to salvage spaceship parts from hulks dotted about the landscape, and the mini-game of assembling them, made for an engrossing game experience at a time when the vast majority of games were repetitive RSI-engendering button-mashing scrolly-shoot-em-ups like Delta, Sanxion, Zaxxon, Ollo and the like - if you'd played one, you'd played them all. KR was a refreshing change and kept me busy for ages, until Paul Woakes came out with Mercenary and that took over my life for most of that year!

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Mars to go offline for a month as vast nuclear furnace gets in the way

Steven Roper
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Re: Simple solution...

Since, as some studies have it, the universe supposedly curves back on itself in higher-dimensional space your idea most likely has some merit. However, there is the small matter of the several dozen billion years required for the signal to wrap around, and Mars will be back in contact in a month anyway!

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'Australia's so big freight costs are high' claims don't add up

Steven Roper
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Re: You might want to check your map there, mate

"It depends, are you talking an African or a European crow?"

Nah, an Australian crow mate. Bastards are so bloody big here they could probably haul a jumbo's worth without too much trouble!

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Steven Roper
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Pint

You might want to check your map there, mate

"21 cents to get to Perth and probably Darwin, Adelaide or Cairns for that matter."

Sydney to Perth is three times the distance of Sydney to Adelaide (3,290 km and 1,160 km as the crow flies respectively). Not to mention crossing the Murray Basin is an entirely different proposition to crossing the Nullarbor. Sydney to Adelaide is in fact only half as far again as Sydney to Melbourne (710 km as the crow flies), so your freight cost to Adelaide is going to be in the 13-15 cent range.

Cost to Darwin would likely be more than to Perth though, because even though the straight-line distance is about the same (3,140 km), if you're going by road you're doing two sides of a rectangle (either Sydney-Adelaide-Darwin [4,180 km] or Sydney-Brisbane-Darwin [4,100 km], take your pick.) So the actual distance is about 1000 km more than to Perth either way, making your cost about 26-30 cents there.

Now that I've finished being pedantic about Australia's geography, your article's main point about freight cost not being a good reason for the ripoff pricing is spot on. I'm laughing at the greedy bastards with the rest of you!

Beer because you really need one after driving all that way...

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Card skimmers targeting more than ATMs, says EU

Steven Roper
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@AC 10:35 re: Ronald McDonald

How do you know the guy's name wasn't actually Ronald McDonald? Just because a major hamburger chain uses the name doesn't mean that nobody else was ever christened that. McDonald is a very common Scottish surname to start with, and Ronald isn't exactly rare either.

Like my own name. Yes, Steven Roper is my real name; it is on my birth certificate. I'm also very aware of the American syndicated comic strip Steve Roper, intrepid photographer, and his dependable sidekick Chief Wahoo. It's been a cause of people questioning my identity before now, and no doubt will again. In fact, I actually like it, because it means that people Googling me will find loads of pages relating to the comic strip, or to men of the name Steven Roper who are more successful and/or famous than I, long before they come across anything of mine (and even then it most likely will only be links to my comments on El Reg!)

So don't be too quick to assume that guy with the cheque was using a fake name, just because it happens to be linked to a famous brand. I wonder how many Michael Jacksons there are, or John Lennons? I imagine they also must have a hard time of it with people thinking they're using fake names.

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Net neutrality? We've heard of it, says Ofcom

Steven Roper
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Re: In the future

It's not the future, this is now. I for one have been using VyprVPN at $20 a month for nearly 2 years now, primarily to bypass geolocation lockouts or to protect me from being tracked surfing politically incorrect websites. I originally subscribed to it back when Conroy was pushing his internet censorship regime in Australia, and found it so useful I kept it going even after he backed down.

So far there's been no noise about blocking VPNs here, but I know it's only a matter of time, as more and more people start using them and the police/spooks start getting arsey about not being able to spy on what people are doing online. The old NTHNTF argument will be dragged out yet again to justify controls, and access to VPNs will (I predict within the next 5-10 years) be regulated or controlled eventually.

However, many legitimate businesses make extensive use of VPNs so they aren't going to be completely banned. I imagine most likely what will happen here is that some law will be rammed through requiring VPN users to be a registered business, and you'll need to apply for some kind of government permit to use one, stating your reasons for needing to use a VPN in your business context. For example, you'd probably need to have offices or customers overseas with which you need to communicate privately. You'll likely also need to have a (more expensive) business account with your ISP, with access to VPNs denied by force of law to residential accounts. That'll kill it for most people, although in my business I could make a good case for needing it myself.

From there I can see a future of darknets or even a return to the sneakernet days, where people like myself who still have access to a VPN can fill requests from friends and relatives who are denied it.

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Obama seeks $100m to unlock your BRAIN's secrets

Steven Roper
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It's actually a very inventive backronym

They should drop the unnecessary "through" though - Brain Research Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies works just fine.

It's also a good recursive acronym with a relevant recursive first word as well, a lot better than the nonsensical PHP (PHP hypertext Processor) or GNU (Gnu's Not Unix) which contain irrelevant or meaningless words to "force" the recursion - e.g., PHP could just as easily be XHP, for XHP Hypertext Processor.

BRAIN Research Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies on the other hand is a completely valid recursive acronym with the recursive first word being completely relevant to the whole thing, so kudos to the droid that came up with that one!

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ROBOT COCKROACH SWARM unleashed in Sheffield lab

Steven Roper
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Coat

Re: So...

No, you're not alone. The thought of him being mugged and systematically dismantled by his own creations occurred to me as well... What my idea was to combine these things with RepRap technology with a view to research ultimately leading to a Grey Goo style system, and then put in motion my long-cherished plan to destroy the world, MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

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Merde! Dummkopf! Google Translate used as spam cloak

Steven Roper
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Frame-breaking has legitimate uses

I use frame-breaking code on the top-level pages of all our websites, to prevent unscrupulous operators from framing our sites to make it look like part of theirs, or to spy on or capture information about users of our sites. Big companies like Google and Microsoft have been just as guilty of this as the spammers and other scumbag operators are. So our frame-breaker helps protect your privacy and provides you with assurance that you are on the correct site, when you visit one of our sites.

Rest assured, if Google do find a way to override our frame-breaking code, we will be engaging in R&D to circumvent this and ensure our sites continue to break out of other sites' frames, including Google's.

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Giant solar-powered aircraft to begin cross-country flight

Steven Roper
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Re: I love stuff like this..

"...how the hell they can quantifiably tax sunlight."

The same way they've taxed fresh air in Australia - aka the "Carbon Tax". Trust me, the greedy fuckers will find a way.

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Oz shop slaps browsers with $5 just looking fee

Steven Roper
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@ Peter R. 1

What you should have done is set yourself up one of those pay-per-minute premium phone line like all the dial-a-psychics use at $5 - $10 per minute. It would have had the dual effect of providing you with income for your time from those who genuinely needed your advice and were willing to pay for it, and getting rid of all the freeloaders who wouldn't be willing to pay at the same time.

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EMC, Carbonite fight off patent pursuer

Steven Roper
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WTF?

A Texas court invalidated a patent?

What, was I abducted by aliens and transported to some weird parallel Earth or something?

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Next from Microsoft: 'Blue', the Windows 8 they hope you don't hate

Steven Roper
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@AC 18:53

When Microsoft released XP tablet edition people moaned they couldn't use the whole OS with touch. So they produce a fully touch capable OS and people are now complaining that their desktop is gone.

Why do we have to have one or the other exclusively? We could have, I don't know, two versions, so they could offer both a desktop version, for those who want to use big monitors, mouse and keyboard, and a tablet version, for use with touch screen devices. You, know, something called choice, that radical concept where you get the privilege of making decisions about what kind of interface you prefer to use to do a particular job?

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West Virginia seeks Google Glass driving ban

Steven Roper
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In South Australia

using Google Glass while driving would already be illegal, without any additional legislation relating to the technology itself:

Extract from SA government road-law website:

a mobile phone may only be used to make or receive a phone call (defined to exclude email, text or video messages) and only if the phone is either:

- secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle - the mounting must be commercially designed and manufactured for the purpose and attached as the manufacturer intended; or

- remotely operated - the phone must not be held by or resting on the body (driver’s pocket or pouch excluded) and there must be no touching of the keypad.

Ergo, Google Glass, (which among other things would be classed as a mobile phone under this law) already cannot be used on SA roads, because of the bolded clauses above. I wouldn't be surprised if Virginia's mobile-phone use laws are somewhat similar, so there's probably no need for specific legislation in this regard.

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Branson, Berners-Lee, Google, £2m: LET'S SAVE THE WORLD

Steven Roper
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Re: Am I being cynical .....

Translation of the above weaselese into common English:

Technically, you retain the copyright to your work. However, you give us the everlasting right to do whatever the fuck we want with it, including making money from it, without paying you a cent, or giving you any credit, so you may as well have given us the copyright since it's now worthless to you anyway.

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Freetard den isoHunt loses appeal against search ban

Steven Roper
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FAIL

@ AC 14:39 Re: Nice try

So, I just typed in "walking dead torrent" into google and the first 10 results were all links to well-known torrent sites, including torrentz, kickasstorrents and piratebay, with copies of the movie. A quick follow up shows from the torrent comments on those sites that the movie torrent is the real deal.

Nice try... now please go back to your MPAA corner office, there a good little shill...

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Apple share-price-off-a-cliff: Told you that would happen

Steven Roper
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Re: Sound like gambling, not investing.

And the difference is...?

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