241 posts • joined Friday 27th May 2011 11:35 GMT
Re: Does it  mean that it's intelligent?
For me the issue is the word "never" in the original post.
I am sure iron age men thought we would "never" fly, or Socrates thought we would "never" get to the moon. "Never" is a long, long, long way off. Not in my lifetime, or my children's or their children's maybe, but "never"?
I concede given today's limitations we can't do this, but what of the "next" (as in multiple improvements, changes, sudden leaps to something new that we can't imagine right now) generation of silicon (maybe in 300 years time) that is tending to bio-electronic, where a little nascent brain is sitting on your desktop learning away. What if we figure out this neuropeptide/connection stuff that makes our brains work and simulate it on some badass computer somewhere? Just because it's too hard for us now does not make it too hard for people standing on the shoulders of people standing on the shoulders of people standing on...
We are biological systems, systems that are machines functioning to keep genes around (to paraphrase Dawkins, it's from the gene's point of view: "build me a human to protect me, and then get me into the next generation to keep me going") and those systems have a couple of billion years on us, and keep changing, but just because they are complicated does not make them unfathomable or unreplicateable. So, if we could "make" a new person a-la Victor Frankenstein that was a mirror (as in its chirality was reversed to ours) we'd have a living, breathing AI. It would entirely artificial and entirely sentient/intelligent. Quite what it would eat, I don't know. Quite what the point would be, I also don't really know. But then again, I don't see the point of Instagram either.
A limitation is also the really quite difficult ethical considerations of doing all of this. Not that ethics would be a barrier to Google, but creating an intelligence and considering its "rights" does make for an interesting ethical consideration.
All of this could be so far off that the entities that crack it would not even be considered as human to us, they just share our common ancestors. "Never" is a really, really long time.
Re: The good news is....
Which, to be serious for a moment, could be useful as knowing what the thing is made of could help define a suitable evasion strategy.
Moreover - if the data is of most use to James Cameron and his asteroid mining buddies, why don't they pay for part of that mission and save NASA some bucks for other things?
"...was responding to reports that suggest Facebook users are peeling away from the free-content advertising website."
You seem to have reversed two words "free" and "content" there.
Ballmer should go, there can be no debate. He lacks judgement, reads the future consistently wrongly, and seems to be doing little but suppressing any would be heirs, BUT therein lies the problem...
With whom would you replace him?
I cannot for the life of me think of who could effectively deal with MS.
The same applies to Apple. Tim Cook is not the messiah-like Jobs, he's more of an accountant. Doubtless good, but I can't see where he's going with the company.
Both of them are acting as if they don't really have a plan other than reaction.
Again, who would be the replacement for him?
Google will face this in time when its talisman step down, and dealing with it is a pretty important thing.
Would you send Bruce Dern with them? They may play poker.
Re: Lobbyists Are ANTI-DEMOCRATIC
Maybe there should be a rule that any MP receiving a any form of lobbying on behalf of a company not based (and paying taxes) in his or her constituency cannot receive any form of stipend from that company for 25 years after he or she ceases to become an MP.
Rather than the current idiocy of lobby->dinners->favours->retire as MP->nice directorship after.
Time value of Money
As you seem like an economist type, is the Cost:Benefit ratio discounted? So, are we looking at today's terms for the two at a suitable discount rate (comparing like with like), or the future vale of the benefits compared to the cost of today's (comparing unlike with unlike)?
One would assume that if not, the whole darn thing is a pile of junk and even worse than presented.
A quick note for other readers who may be confused by this - £1 today is not worth the same as £1 tomorrow, or next week, or next year. The further away it is, the less it is worth. So, saying "we will get £1.80 in 25 years" is not the same as saying"we will get £1.80 today". An accounting technique can be applied as an exchange rate over time that converts the £1.80 in 25 years to what it is the same as today, that technique is called discounting.
Has always been my thinking, so have an upvote my friend.
Moreover, if it is to be built it should have a "sealed" as in "security side" and "not in the UK" branch line from thiefrow to BHX. It can take well over an hour to get from one part of LHR to another, so why not make the extra runway at the end of a fast, dedicated line? Kill two birds with one stone.
BHX = Europe hub, no long haul (not that it has much anyway) LHR = long haul only, no Europe. City can cover some Europe stuff, BHX the rest.
Result - sorely needed jobs in the Midlands. Extra capacity for London's airspace. Big infrastructure project for whatever Government PLUS all the stuff they boast about now.
This app ecosystem thing is interesting.
I had a quick look out of idle curiosity. There are three guitar tuner apps (no idea if they work), too many ski tracker apps to count, bank apps for RBS and NatWest but not HSBC, Lloyds or Barlcays, no iPlayer (but several BBC news regurgitation a-la iOS things, and the BBC said in March it was "coming" with no date. IIRC it was some time arriving on iPad too), and no sky video, but some Sky News et al apps.
So the message would seem to be that this late entrant with low market share is "improving" in the app store stakes; the snapshot given is about 60% correct for that user depending on his bank of choice (I assume he banks with a non-RBS group bank), but if the BBC pulled its finger out and they banked with RBS group it would be down to Sky only, so a 20% accurate snapshot. Of course, that may still be a dealbreaker.
And, as ever, there is an XKCD for it all - http://xkcd.com/1174/
It's not a defence of WindowsPhone, just the ecosystem isn't as rubbish as people think based on this snapshot.
I neglected to see how many fart apps there were.
Re: But HP don't take the piss?
If the hotel was trying to avoid a VAT registration then that would be unlikely to work, you can't artificially separate a business out to avoid it.
See - http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/register/when-to-register.htm#7
I'm not saying there isn't something weird going on there, it's just unlikely to be VAT related.
Most of the tax schemes here require an overseas element, usually a low tax regime, which will have an entity billing the UK bit. That bill reduces the UK profit, which as taxes are based on profit, reduces the tax bill. Tax is then paid in the overseas place, and dependent on the tax treaty is then considered taxed, so no further tax will be payable. It's a bit more complicated than that, but it gives the gist.
Re: IP phones are expensive
I agree. I have an analogue 'phone, and I have never thought "I wish this could..." at any point. It transfers calls, forwards to any number (mobile for example), has a little voicemail notification light/button, does caller display, and has a reasonable address book. Sure I had to spend an hour setting up the address book and writing on a piece of paper who was on what key, hardly any downside.
I think it has a speaker, but as another notes above it's not cricket to use such in an open plan office, and most of us drones are open plan these days.
I think it's about 200 years old*, so as an investment it was pretty good.
Sometimes less really is more.
"Hey look I saved Apple $9M. Oh, Apple will need to spend more than that defending my doing that. Now give me $68.6M for doing that."
About that graphical representation...
I'm not too sure what I am supposed to be seeing there, and what the colours mean. My initial thoughts would be that it's some form of probability graph, that a proton/neutrino is likely to exist on there, very likely on the dark red through to not so much on the blue.
Is that right, or am I waaaaay behind the rest of the class here?
Re: Will they ditch the awful flat interface AND CAPITALISED MENUS?
It's much improved. Once at the desktop, or TIFKAM whatever application you want will just start. No more faffing around getting coffee after pressing power, then again after entering a password.
This is all very nice, but I only boot my PC once a day, thereby saving me nearly three whole minutes. Those three minutes are lost quite quickly when I have to go back into TIFCAM for whatever reason (such as opening a file I've not changed the default application for to a desktop equivalent). Likewise it feels "faster" in use, but against that is the new Office with bizarre animations that make it feel slower, such as the cursor in Word that can't keep up with me and I hate the way that the active cell in Excel has to animate across the sheet to the new active cell. I can only assume that's to aid a touch device in some way, but it's darn annoying.
This mess could be significantly improved by a simple installation option of "do you want things to default to a desktop application where one exists?" answer "yes" and it sets it all up for you. Then, boot to desktop rather than TIFKAM. Can all the touch crud where no touch device is detected. Job done.
I'm not fussed about the start button as all of the stuff I need is on the taskbar anyway, and pressing start gives me the long icon list similar to (wait for it) "launcher" in OSX, which nobody has a problem with.
Re: I will never understand...
Don't let him near Thornbridge's incredibly wonderful Jaipur in which case - awesome hops-in-yer-face-and-yer-mouth pale ale.
Plus ça change
Ind Coope made "Long Life" ale in a can in the '70s. Tasted awful.
Re: Apple price bubble
Indeed, I took an LC-II to an Apple shop to see if they could get it to boot (no, but they tried, and it was a celebrity for a while in there) and in the box with it were some colour Apple stickers from 198X when the thing was bought. The fanboi next to me at the genius bar offered me £50 for them. Seeing as they belonged to my mother-in-law I elected to say "no", but still £50 for some old stickers. Bizarro world.
Re: Beards are Best?
re: beards and age
You need to be careful, as a couple of young chaps when I was at school tried the facial hair thing to buy fags and booze, but all they could manage was a Barry McGuigan - esque couple of lip-hairs that fooled nobody.
Is it safe to assume that this study was not sponsored by Gillette?
Re: Its all a stock manipulation scheme
Sadly stock buybacks don't work that way. Buy back share, share nullified, removed, zapped.
Stock held by Apple's employees, however, might.
I can't work out from the article if...
These are "fake" or "real". The word "depict", at least to me, has an implication of some form of fiction.
Not that it should make any difference to the takedown one way or the other, I'm just a little confused.
I'm also intrigued to see if by commenting or reposting such abominable filth the users are "publishing" it, and committing an offence under the Obscene Publications Act.
Hideous, just hideous.
Not quite, but close.
In Google's case there is a bill from Ireland that neatly cancels out most of the UK profit. That bill is for "sales made for and on behalf of the UK" or something similar. (For Starbucks read "use of intellectual property" and replace "Ireland" with "Lichtenstein" below).
Once the profit is in Ireland (I think it does this for much of the EU), in turn Ireland receives a bill from Google in the Netherlands which neatly cancels out its profit. Google NL has no employees, and is a brass plaque on the wall of an anonymous office block.
Google NL then gets a bill from Google's headquarters in, wait for it, Bermuda. All of the profit is therefore pooled into Bermuda where it is taxed at ... zero percent. Once taxed (dependent on the treaty with the US, where the top company is) it won't be taxed again (yes I know it was taxed at 0%, that's still taxed), so arrives in the US net of tax. It's how many offshore jurisdictions work, this is known colloquially as a Dutch Sandwich, which sounds far more risque than it actually is.
Your substantive point is correct, if the chap on the ground is doing the legwork then the bill is not real, and not at "arms length" and therefore void, pulling profit back to the UK and subject to its laws. If that is the case, then it should be punted to the HMRC Commissioners to investigate, and if needs be prosecute/fine/ whatever.
There is a small irony here, but I am sure a google of "transfer pricing" will explain more. I would not suggest googling "dutch sandwich".
For other readers, there is an interview with Hodge in this month's Economia magazine (it's the Accountancy publication for the UK) and the FT this week has done an interesting series on how all this works, including the case for doing it and why its a Good Thing(tm).
From my point of view these are bad laws poorly implemented and poorly enforced. I can't find it offhand, but a study I read recently set out that this sort of nonsense in many poor economies removes sufficient tax revenue that if collected correctly it would remove the need for incessant and wasteful economic aid from the older economies.
The whole thing, internationally, has to be re-negotiated with respect to the needs of all countries, not just the UK/US and the G8 needs to take responsibility for helping out other economies dealing with this too.
I think we need photographs to sort this out. I think El Reg has quite a useful one of an eee PC with a human using it for scale purposes. Perhaps that could be used as a start?
I (as a former compliance officer) am a little concerned by the "give it to the rest of the family" point. Surely most people with one of these will have access to commercially sensitive and potentially confidential information, so giving it all to your children/whoever breaches your terms and conditions of working? How comfortable would you be with your lawyer's children/spouse having access to your divorce papers? Many parents seem to frequently claim they have less IT savvy than their children, so how do you know what they are doing?
Especially as the "business case" most of my previous bosses gave was that an iPad was much more convenient than paper for reading documents when out of the office, and gave unspecified and unjustified confidentiality advantages. At the time it was an obvious case of wanting the shiny, but bosses will be what bosses are.
I know children probably won't be mis-using the information, but the breach has happened. It could be an uncomfortable time in Court for someone explaining just how many people had been granted access to confidential information in the event it all goes wrong.
I'm not saying that employees never gave their work laptops to their children, that too was a breach, but these devices seem to positively encourage it.
As an aside many years ago I was curious what the firm that removed our confidential waste ( fanfold green/white paper. Yes, that long ago) actually did with it. After quite a tedious investigation we discovered that the company destroyed most by burning, but donated a significant amount to a local primary school for children to draw on the blank side. Very eco-friendly, but a tad concerning that stuck to fridges across the county were our confidential reports.
"it was all too hard for him."
I think that may just qualify as a treble-entendre.
No idea about legalities here, but was reminded of the late Dave Allen, who said:
"If I look out of my bedroom window and see the woman next door sunbathing naked in her garden, she has me arrested for being a peeping Tom. If she sees me sunbathing naked, I get arrested for indecent exposure."
May your god go with you, and all that.
Re: The UK government? @AC 12:19
Minitrue. The Newspeak word is Minitrue.
I agree, but am confused why you'd want a bottle of tea.
Re: Hmmmmm this reminds of sci-fi horror flicks
Many moons ago during my degree we used to remove rat brains to study the neurochemisty of them. You need to be quite quick to do it, stun the rat (a desk being the best way), open skull, pop brain out and into little tank full of lovely chemicals to keep the thing going for a bit. You can then see what's being released (at least from the surface)..
During one session I recall thinking about this; if the brain in the pot is still doing neurochemistry, then is the now deceased rat still thinking in some way? If so, what's it thinking? "Blimey it's dark" or "that desk was moving at one hell of a rate" or what?
Which led me on to more thoughts, if a person is beheaded, for how long after the event would they still be aware of the world? I found a paper about a scientist during the French Revolution who agreed with a man about to be guillotined that he would speak to him after the execution, and if the condemned could blink in response it would be jolly helpful. IIRC the severed head blinked in response to three questions before stopping.
This has nothing to do with the article, just made me remember it so I thought I'd share.
How are they selected? Is Judge Koh the only judge able/willing to deal with tech?
I'm just curious, seems she crops up everywhere there's a fruit themed piece of US litigation.
Perhaps EA/Maxis have made a simulation of a simulation. Sim inception anyone?
Re: Fucking Disney
Upvote just for the obscure "Spaced" reference.
A small recommendation
Anyone who is interested in this area should read the rather excellent "Power Without Responsibility" by Curran and Seaton.
It's the seminal work examining the media, newspapers etc. It serves to put a lot of all this stuff into some form of historical context too.
and you get chocolate with them. Unlike ping pong balls.
Re: Nothing to do with the euro
The Economist did a graph on its rate to the US$ tracking search terms. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/03/daily-chart-12 (sub may be required)
Quite an interesting article (both that and this).
Re: Lowering Corporate tax
A good idea, but it's not that simple. Skipping over such difficult matters as defining how a company "makes £1"...
Gordon Brown had a go at this by making transfer prices (the mechanism to get profit out of the country) to be essentially illegal if they were not at "arm's length" - as in the same prices as would be charged between two separate entities, or a commercial rate. Sounds sensible. Only companies make out there is no market price to compare with. How so? I'll explain. What's the going price for the left wing of a say a Eurofighter? There is no market for one, unless you make the rest of the aircraft (and then paint it white and put the tusks on it). Usually the "rest of aircraft maker" is the same company as the "left bit" maker, so it's a unique purchaser who can set whatever price it needs to. Nobody can argue with that price - there is no market for comparison.
Starbucks do this using "royalty payments" for the use of the brand. There's no market for that, so it's difficult to set an arm's length price. At that point you haggle with HMRC. Step forward Dave Hartnett to make a cushy deal.
Forcing companies to do things they don't want to can cause them to leave. I'd not be heartbroken for a minute if Starbucks packed up and left, (someone else would fill the void I am sure) but if enough employers do it we'd be in a right old pickle.
Also, we have these pesky little double taxation treaties with other countries that would prohibit that sort of behaviour.
What can be done? Well, I don't really know. Setting a global standard Corporation Tax rate would nail it - there's no point if in every jurisdiction you pay the same. But there is no chance on earth anyone would agree to that.
If you google "Laffer Curve" you'll learn about optimal tax rates. At 0% tax you get £0 in tax. At 100% tax you get £0 in tax too - because nobody will set up a business in your country to work for no return. Somewhere in the middle is a maximum point, where you collect overall the most tax. It's not so high that it's worthwhile paying someone to work out how to reduce your tax bill, but not so low as to make it not worthwhile for a Government to collect the tax. Problem is, nobody knows what the point is, and it probably varies from person to person.
Re: John Maynard Keynes
The Keynsian response is to do something, even if it is to pay people to bury money, because they earn, they spend (UK GOv gets the VAT on spending). They buy materials from someone, who now has money, which they spend. It creates employment, the Government taxes the employment... and gets a nice new bit of infrastructure.
It worked in the '30s. The US is the easiest to think about - road building and the Hoover Dam.
Now it's a bit different. We would buy all the steel (or whatever) from China, so no cash in our economy. We'd get cheap labour from other EU countries to turn up and do the work, who would send the funds back home. No cash in our economy. Then we'd get Capita to run the IT (into the ground) and just pay cash to shareholders, most of whom already have the cash to spend. All of the contractors would be based in Lichtenstein and pay next to no tax.
Spend to grow isn't as simple as it used to be.
Message and beancounters
"After the offer expires it is likely that an EA/Maxis bean-counter will run the numbers on the games people chose and come up with a number representing either lost or missed revenue."
But that woud be, ahem, wrong. Looking at that list I already own the only title there I want. So I may, to be bloody minded pick another (the most expensive) and download it, and register it.
But what's the value of it? This is a rather odd concept.
I (say) I wanted Battlefield, and was about to go and buy it then its value to me is the current retail price.
If I didn't want any of them then the value to me is roughly the resale value, oh, zero as it can't be resold.
The "cost" to EA is only lost revenue on the former, not the latter. Even then the marginal cost (actual money out of the door) is pretty much nil, just the extra electricity to generate a new unlock code and spin some platters to facilitate a download.
EA will, of course, never know which was which, so any attempt at saying "we lost revenue of $...." is wrong, irrelevant, and downright silly.
So not quite...
The level the MPAA suggested then - http://www.ted.com/talks/rob_reid_the_8_billion_ipod.html
Re: Just tried to play
A mystery to me is why anyone would sell a game you download that immediately has to update itself with another massive download. Why not just keep the most up to date version as the original download?
How can a firm fail to recognise the demand from presales? I mean, most of the players yesterday would have been presales, which, being already sold, means EA knows they will want to play ASAP, so the servers need to be ready for more than the number of presales.
Is there any data
On the actual level of radioactivity there? I mean, is it like some bits of Fallout's Wasteland, or more like Cornwall or that desert in Iran?
Is this something the g-mobile could record?
Actually, I disagree
Home taping didn't kill music, so let's start there.
Now I have a choice. I pay fifty quid (or whatever). I install Origin. Which persistently throws ads at me every boot up (now turned off in startup). The ads cannot be stopped, despite me paying for the bloody thing. I install my game, which won't work because the servers are overcrowded. If like Ubisoft you then DRM it so I can't move it when I rebuild my PC I have to buy it again. Then EA gets bored, turns its servers off and I can't play any more. Not only do I not have a printed manual to read, I also don't have control over the thing I bought. Sorry, leased.
I get a cracked version which skips all of that crap.
Same for DVDs, I paid for the darn thing I don't want to sit through unskippable adverts for other films, endless bloody knock-off Nigel adverts I can't skip to get to thing I bought. Well, hired.
This behaviour ENCOURAGES cracking and pirating, and actively DISCOURAGES purchases. Both Ubi and EA are my "never buy from" list, no matter how good the game looks. It's not piracy that's killing them, it's slow suicide.
Of course, in theory reality and theory are identical. In reality, they are not.
"“Sharp was the first supplier that was cut out when iPhone demand started to slow,” said Amir Anvarzadeh, Singapore-based manager for Asia equity sales at BGC Partners Inc. (BGCP) “Chances for Sharp to revive as a standalone company are zero unless becoming part of a big group like Samsung or Foxconn.”"
So, that would seem to have happened.
Samsung may be trying to get a foot in the door to access something else of interest in Sharp should a fire-sale or "white knight" of some form be required.
Re: Earning their keep
Our dog cornered and killed a rat in the stables last November. I was surprised, he's a King Charles Cavalier, a breed not exactly known for their ferocious attacks. Perhaps the rat thought the same. He still managed to get bitten on the lip, which required another expensive visit to the vet.
As a complete aside, can we also declare war on moles. There's not much meat on them I know, but I think given enough you could make some clothes out of the skins. I've taken a staggering 21 out of our lawn so far this year, and they keep on coming. It's an invasion. It looks like the battle of the Somme out there.
Sorry, I'll calm down now.
Engineering has a problem, that of identity.
When the photocopier breaks it has a sign put on it saying "engineer will be here soon". No, no (s)he won't. A bunch of highly brainy and talented people designed the machine and all of its workings. They were engineers. Then a bunch of equally clever people worked out how to make it. They were engineers. Some bloke with a screwdriver is not an engineer, as AC notes he's a technician.
Engineering is a profession - that's why there are institutes for its different branches. You pass exams and all sorts to be admitted. THEN you can call yourself an engineer. It's a badge that must be earned. Sadly the engineering professions have let that slip, so world+dog uses the term.
You don't call the nurse a doctor because (s)he isn't a doctor - (s)he has done lots of training, but not that training. You don't call a Vet a Doctor, despite the massive commonality of the two professions.
I have just built a watercooled PC and installed an OS on it. That does not make me an electrical engineer or a software engineer. I'm just a bloke with a screwdriver, too much time on his hands and a few cuts from hidden sharp bits in the case.
Engineers - be proud. Stand tall. You are the future, just as you were the future in the past. Make these people earn the bloody badge, not just be able to use it.
All this from an accountant.