* Posts by Ken Hagan

4635 posts • joined 14 Jun 2007

So what the BLINKING BONKERS has gone wrong in the eurozone?

Ken Hagan
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"After WWII we should have ripped the industry out of Germany and returned it to the stone age"

After WW2? My reading of the final year of the war is that the aforementioned task was pretty much complete by the time of the surrender. The usual charge against Bomber Command is that they'd basically bombed the entire country back to the stone age, and *then* two collosal armies has swept across from either side annihilating everything in their path on a house-by-house basis.

In most other conflicts, the loser has surrendered before that point. (The question of why Germany didn't surrender is quite interesting, though perhaps not humanity's finest hour.) If you want a better example of returning somewhere to the stone age, you probably have to go back to Trajan, or perhaps the stone age.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: https://projects.propublica.org/bailout/

Very interesting. If the same is true for the UK, then my next question would be "Why are we broke?". After all, if we were OK (in 2007) and have since made a profit on bailing out the banks, we should still be OK, right?

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Ken Hagan
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Re: The 1930s

I don't have AdBlock for any site. The vast majority of sites are perfectly usable, the vast majority of the time. Every so often, some poor site gets afflicted with some rude ad that splats itself all over the page, but if you are browsing on a desktop PC then the ads are pretty ignorable most of the time.

I think I'd be much more concerned if I surfed a lot on a phone, where there frankly aren't enough pixels to start with and certainly no surplus to waste on ads. But I don't.

So if you are a long-time AdBlock user, I suggest you try switching it off for a while every year or so. You will notice the difference, but you may equally be able to live with it (at least on a desktop screen) and it isn't in *your* long-term interest to make it impossible to finance a web-site without taking subscriptions.

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Ken Hagan
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"It wouldn't have been all that bad an idea if the shareholders had lost rather more of their money than they did, just to warn for the future, but the idea that it would be OK for us to wake up and find smoking rubble where we'd once had a payment and banking system was firmly kyboshed."

Around the time of the Lehmans collapse, the standard (OK, Robert Peston) explanation for the crisis was that no-one knew where the bad debts lay and so no-one was lending to anyone else. We knew what the bad debts were (the sub-prime thingies) but each bank was keeping schtum about their holdings in that respect. It struck me at the time that this secrecy was magnifying the problem and that if the truth had been known then only a few banks (holding the debts) would have collapsed and the rest (who were quite solvent) would have taken over the business.

There were certainly banks who resisted the loans that were eventually forced upon them by central government. (Forced, that is, to avoid exposing the *other* banks as ones that actually needed the money.) There was also a large group of mutuals who everyone accepted were almost certainly solvent because they hadn't been allowed to play with the poisonous debts in the first place. Both of these groups were implicitly but massively penalised by the bail-out.

So do we now know where the debts laid? If so, has anyone worked out the consequences of central government forcing banks to declare their positions rather than forcing the taxpayer to burn squillions in a bail-out that was designed to preserve banking secrecy? If not, then I'm afraid that "waking up to find smoking rubble" is actually unproven and the biggest financial crisis in many years might turn out to have been self-inflicted.

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YOU! DEGRASSE! It's time to make Pluto a proper planet again, says NASA boffin

Ken Hagan
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Re: Purely physical critera

Charles 9: You seem to be implying that the IAU's decision on Pluto was principally motivated by a desire that there should be no more planets, ever. That seems, er, not just irrational but rather disturbed? Apparently it is so important to pull up the ladder that it didn't matter that Pluto was left behind in the rush.

No matter. Time will tell. Future generations will land on these objects and go exploring. They will want a single, short word to refer to the object they are exploring. My money's on "planet", because "moon" implies a larger near neighbour and no-one (and certainly not the IAU) is even trying to come up with a third alternative.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: It's no big deal

The problem is that not content with driving a coach and horses through established pop culture, the IAU drove through the English language as well. A dwarf planet is defined to be not a planet. "Dwarf" is not an adjective. "Dwarf planet" is a double-barrelled noun.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Nomen est omen

I think you'll find that people have been cooking for quite a lot longer than they've been classifying things in biology. So the culinary definition got there first and the biologists borrowed it *knowing* that it didn't cover exactly the same ground as they wanted, but it was close enough.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Moon?

That episode isn't canon. A special meeting of the International Who Fanclub declared that despite airing as part of an the official series, it had failed to clear its plot of debris.

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Ken Hagan
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You appear to have argued the case for the opposite of your conclusion.

Why is it a problem that you can't yet write down a list of all planets in your textbook? Why should Mercury and Pluto be classified as different kinds of object because of their historical discovery?

Well some people in the 21st century screamed about their textbooks, so we messed up the whole classification system just to shut them up, er...

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Moon?

If the Earth was less massive, the Moon would be a double planet. Same object, but the difference lies elsewhere. If Titan orbited the sun, it would be a planet. Same object, but the difference lies elsewhere. Meanwhile, Jupiter and Mercury are both planets. Vastly different objects, but the similarity lies elsewhere.

As long as you insist on using one word to describe both the object and its position, you can't escape this nonsense, since an object and its position are only weakly correlated (by whatever rules govern the origin of solar systems).

Personally I'm quite happy to describe Pluto, Titan and the Moon as planets when I'm concerned with their geology, moons when I'm concerned with their orbit. (Pluto is a "double moon", a satellite of both the Sun and Neptune. There's no word for it, but it *is* rather awesome, so there should be. In fact, perhaps that's what the word "Plutoid" should mean.)

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John McAfee: Ashley Madison hack may ‘destabilise society’

Ken Hagan
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Re: Grudge

"I would suggest they look for a computer expert whose spouse had a affair they helped arrange."

Sadly, on John's evidence, you can scrub the "computer expert" from that profile and if AM's pre-hack publicity (about how great they are) is to be believed then that means a shortlist of a few tens of millions. The investigation could take a while.

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Universal Pictures finds pirated Jurassic World on own localhost, fires off a DMCA takedown

Ken Hagan
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Re: You've all been 'nudged'

What film? All I'm talking about is how unbelievably clueless Universal Pictures are. Was there a film somewhere in this story?

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Ken Hagan
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"Also on the list is http://127.0.0.1:4001/#/fr/."

To me that looks like an illicit web server. Whilst it is obviously not appropriate for a take-down notice, it does indicate that localhost *might* have some malware on it that *might* be distributing the master copy, which *might* indicate that the evil pirates are insiders.

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Microsoft: Stop using Microsoft Silverlight. (Everyone else has)

Ken Hagan
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Re: How times have changed

It wasn't *that* recent. It has been a few years since MS declared that Silverlight was dead and would receive no major development love. I think Netflix adopted it a couple of months before the announcement. How we laughed. And then it hung around for years and years.

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Ken Hagan
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Flame

"The Web. The only area of computing that's actually going *backwards* in time."

You forgot to mention desktop UIs, and the idea that a PC might belong to the person who fucking paid for it rather than the company they "rent" it off.

The whole damn industry's going backwards.

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Ken Hagan
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@Pascal: You forgot to mention that the cafe's own crockery is so filthy that you might catch something off it.

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Microsoft sprints to finish, emits possible Windows 10 RC build

Ken Hagan
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Re: Winaero

You should try 150% text scaling. There's *lots* of parts of Windows that don't support that. (They show up with the fuzzy magnification that means you haven't set the flags right on the EXE.) This is now, what?, 8 years after Vista defined the rules in this regard and still there are parts of the core UI that haven't had the five minutes or so of attention to make them work.

And I notice today that whilst Win8 knows where the bottom-right corner of a Window is, Win10 doesn't. (Mouse the mouse down to the bottom-right corner and explore just where the cursor changes to the NW-SE diagonal arrow. On Win10, it behaves as though there is a thick invisible border and the cursor changes when you hit that border, a few millimetres away from the actual window. On Win8, the cursor doesn't change until you actually hit the visible portion of the window frame.)

Other things left un-polished? If you have an application that uses the MDI model, such as Microsoft's own MMC.EXE, the child frames are styled as Win7 whereas the parent frame is styled as in Win8. Try it -- but bring a barf bag.

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Ken Hagan
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So I grabbed myself a copy and I was immediately strong-armed into giving up my domain account and password in favour of a Microsoft account and (somewhat weaker) password. Fine, that was expected. But part-way through the process I was invited to create a PIN that would replace even that. There was a little link saying "How the fsck can a diddly PIN be more secure?", so I clicked on it and I was told that a PIN would be safer than my existing password because I'd be choosing a PIN just for this device.

Words failed me. Apparently Microsoft have decided that the last ten years have seen a gradual step up in Windows security and a gradual step down in market share, so clearly the way to make Win10 a success is to persuade everyone to protect their devices with the same low-entropy PIN that they use on their bank cards.

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Thanks for open sourcing .NET say Point of Sale villains

Ken Hagan
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"...now that Microsoft made it available as an open-source platform have put it out to grass, more developers are expected to use it for their applications drop it like it's a turd that just talked back at you..."

FTFY

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Thunder-faced Mozilla lifts Flash Firefox block after 0-days plugged

Ken Hagan
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Has anyone got any experience of feeding a dishonest user-agent string to the BBC site and getting a flash-free experience on a Windows box? That would probably be even more useful than advising everyone to enable the click-to-activate feature.

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India ponders home-baked chips for defence and nuke plants

Ken Hagan
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Re: Baking != design

Not quite. You need to see the design. It doesn't need to be yours. I can imagine a completely open design that was "good enough" being favoured by many countries over a closed x86 product.

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Mozilla's ‘Great or Dead’ philosophy may save bloated blimp Firefox

Ken Hagan
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Happy

"almost the only browser not using the WebKit"

Awesome use of the word "almost" there.

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Run Windows 10 on your existing PC you say, Microsoft? Hmmm.

Ken Hagan
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Drivers

I had a couple of pieces of USB-based hardware that worked fine on Win7 and refused point blank to work on Win8. Since MS provide the actual USB stack (y'know, the bit that actually talks to the effing hardware?) and the kernel major version number hasn't changed for 7, 8, 8.1 and (early betas of) 10, I have to conclude that the device itself changed its higher-level protocol whilst I was installing Win8.

After all, it couldn't be a case of some numpty testing for equality of version number rather than for the existence of an interface, and neither could it be the fine hardware vendor taking the opportunity to stiff me for a new scanner. No, no.

Fortunately, the majority of hardware vendors get this right and MS can in most cases arrange to lie to the numpties who don't, but there's always one so I'd echo the advice to check your hardware before upgrading. (Edit: particularly if it is a Canon.)

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Large Hadron SMASHER: Boffins BLOW OPEN the PENTAQUARK's secrets

Ken Hagan
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"But the brain has no pain receptors?"

But it sits on the shoulders of a very large number of them.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Newton Quote

"Are there other bits of physics where an early decision based on incomplete information has led to awkward numbers?"

Spin, I suppose, might be more cleanly expressed if fermions had odd spin and bosons had even spin. Beyond that, not much as far as we (yet) know. (Quark color values may yet surprise us.)

Of course, at a trivial level, all the fundamental constants are horrible non-integral numbers of the units that we devised and standardised before we knew about the constants (length, time and c being the classic example), but I don't think that's what you meant.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Five

"If I have seen further than others, it is because I was looking the wrong way and got lucky."

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Microsoft nixes A-V updates for XP, exposes 180 MEEELLION luddites

Ken Hagan
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Re: How does this change ANYTHING?

Anyone still running XP online is *now* protected by whatever defences are provided by the root kit that took over their PC last year.

Microsoft have (through 2k3 support) been publishing zero-days for XP for over a year now. The act of connecting to the interwebs to update your Security Essentials package is probably riskier than leaving the machine offline. (In the latter case, you are limited to things that you import by hand and you have some control over those.)

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Cell division: The engine of life – and of CANCER. Now some of its secrets are revealed

Ken Hagan
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Re: a kinetochore is

Sounds awesome! Where do I sign up?

(Even if these were the *only* things I could do by telekinesis, it still sounds awesome.)

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Mighty CHASMS, craters FOUND ON MOON of Pluto

Ken Hagan
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Re: Excited

To a first approximation, being born later in history is a good thing (the approximation is even better for some sections of the population.), but you can't put it off indefinitely or you miss out on all the fun. This is a pretty good time for the sort of people who are reading this site.

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PLUTO FLYBY: Here's your IT angle, all you stargazing pedants

Ken Hagan
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Re: "...approximately 2,000 bits per second..."

"Where are the relay stations doing long elliptical orbits past Saturn?"

Unless they have dishes that are about half the (linear) size of the receiving dish on Earth, they wouldn't help. (Actually, that's the break-even point. To *help*, they'd need to be even bigger.) Also bear in mind that anything on a long elliptical orbit spends most of its time in a totally unhelpful location. You'd need *lots* of *big* dishes. Similar considerations apply to any interplanetary internet you care to imagine.

It seems to me that what we actually need is a better power source, so that the original signal can be several orders of magnitude larger. Or maybe some very carefully steered laser link, so that the limited power is directed more efficiently in the right direction.

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PC sales go OFF A CLIFF to under 300 million a year

Ken Hagan
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Re: Guess again.

Actually, you *can* blame Windows 10 for that. For the last six months, anyone who wants to see has been able to look at what Win10 will be like. Apparently, the experience has been enough to convince a few that Sinofsky's vandalism is irreparable and so they might as well buy that Apple machine and see how well it actually works for them.

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PLUTO SPACE WHALE starts to give up its secrets

Ken Hagan
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Re: Call me simple

That's why we need words that describe *what* and object is and different words to describe *where* an object is. (Suggestion: let the geologists choose the first set of words and the astronomers choose the second set.)

Pluto's orbit is actually a rather neat feature of orbital mechanics. It's in a resonance with Neptune, which means that the Plutonian system is in a region of space near Neptune that Neptune cannot clear. It's not a moon of Neptune, but the relationship has something of the same flavour.

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Flash HOLED AGAIN TWICE below waterline in fresh Hacking Team reveals

Ken Hagan
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"Why is the BBC still using flash ... ?"

...because Murdoch hasn't figured out he can run a smear campaign based on the fact that the BBC site is "forcing" the use of a known malware vector.

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What do you MEAN, 'Click on the thing which looks like a Mondrian?'

Ken Hagan
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Re: Call me a cab . . .

It's called a "turn in the road" because you are not penalised for needing 5, 7 or 85 points rather than three. Mind you, if you need 85 then you might be penalised for "failing to make reasonable progress".

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Decision time: Uninstall Adobe Flash or install yet another critical patch

Ken Hagan
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Childcatcher

Won't somebody think of the children?

Have we now reached the point where sites that *use* Flash (and thereby encourage non-nerds to have it installed and active) should be named and shamed as internet sociopaths?

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North America down to its last ~130,000 IPv4 addresses

Ken Hagan
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Re: Canecutter - 2 things wrong with IPV6

As normally deployed, the 128-bit address space is actually only 64-bits public. If your ISP gives you a /56, they're giving you 256 networks to play with. That's more than the 1 you need, but it is a far smaller chunk of the IPv6 unicast space than even a single IPv4 address is of that space, so calling it "wasteful" is harsh.

Also, and partly in response to another poster's remarks about routing tables, one of the reasons why they went for a 128-bit space was so that they had bits to waste. The idea is that quite a few routing decisions can be made without complex tables at all, just by inspecting prefixes. Ironically, the protocol that now needs massive tables is IPv4, which owing to the balkanisation of the address space now requires brute-force-sized routing tables in some places. There was an El Reg article about this a few months back, but I can't remember enough of the details to google it.

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Microsoft: This Windows 10 build has 'NO significant known issues'

Ken Hagan
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Re: Hallelujah - File Explorer's file path limit is not 256 any more !

I suggest you read the documentation. The limit most certainly *is* Win32's and the "\\?\" prefixing is documented as a way to skip Win32's validation and pass the filename blindly to the lower level. It sounds like you've failed to distinguish between the Win32 personality and the NT OS layer. MAX_PATH continues to apply to the Unicode APIs if you don't use the prefix and I don't think I've ever met and end-user who did.

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Ken Hagan
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It would have been XP, but your recollection is flaky.

This has always been a problem. It was originally possible for an application to make itself the top window. This is an important feature. If you launch a child app to perform some task (and setup programs often do this) then it is quite irritating to the end-user if that child app is not visible because the parent still has the focus.

Some apps abused the feature, insisting on spewing themselves in your face every time they felt they had some "important" message to give you. Eventually MS said enough was enough and changed the rules. But there still had to be a way, and it was only a matter of time before the bad apps learned the new rules and we were back where we started.

Around the XP time-frame, MS nearly came up with a set of rules that worked. It took the twats quite while to produce a work-around. That's probably the halcyon period you were thinking of.

This is one of a class of problems where the following rule is true: For any massively rude behaviour, there will be some managers who reckon their program is important enough to justify it and some of them will employ programmers who are smart enough and unscrupulous enough to pick up the bonus for making it happen.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Hallelujah - File Explorer's file path limit is not 256 any more !

The limit is not Explorer's. It is Win32's. It was promised (back in 1991 or thenabouts) that 260 characters would be enough for any file. This was over three lines of typing in a command prompt back then and the designers clearly asked themselves what would be a stupidly long name and then doubled it.

(There is an API work-around and so Microsoft could have written Explorer to be able to handle longer names. This would let you quietly create files that your other programs couldn't handle properly, perhaps causing a buffer overrun or a truncation-related security flaw, depending on quite how they couldn't handle it properly. Microsoft presumably thought that the ability to dig yourself deeper into trouble wasn't a great feature. I'm inclined to agree.)

Of course, some people like to put all the meta-data for a file into the parent's (and n-fold grandparent's) directory name. This is typically a crap idea because you lose it the moment you move the file somewhere else, but people do it anyway. Such people can quite easily blow the 260-character limit. The view of an operating system designer is that these people are twats and they can sod off.

I would note in passing that *any* fixed limit will eventually upset some "test suite" and that having no limit at all will eventually produce an eco-system where twats store file contents in the filename and the files themselves are empty -- just because they can.

Unix has similar hard limits, but they are generally larger and less documented. The consequences are that (firstly) Windows gets the schtick and (more importantly) the equivalent failure in Unix-land depends on what application you are using. That's not actually better.

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Teaching people to speak English? You just need Chatroulette without the dick pics

Ken Hagan
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Re: why english?

"However, why we (in UK) default to learning French in School is beyond me."

The other reply is probably why we started with French. Why we persist is probably more due to the over-supply of French teachers compared to other languages. Remember, for the *main* foreign language being taught in a school, you need *lots* of teachers who are comfortable in the language.

We could change to Spanish. (One could make a case for other major languages like Arabic, but I think you'd struggle to put even one Arabic language teacher in every secondary school, let alone the numbers you'd need.) However, it would require a big push from high-up, probably ministerial level, and that would doubtless offend the French Ambassador more than it pleased the Argentinian one.

Also, if everyone is going to speak English, then teaching *any* foreign language in UK schools is more of a cultural aspiration than a business one. The choice of language is therefore not motivated purely by the number of business opportunities it opens up.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: @Anonymous Coward No True Statement...

Conversely, my own experience learning French and German was that I became more idiomatic in the target language if I attempted a direct translation of some Inspector Clouseau-like stereotype.

Sometimes, I am wondering if one can use these mistakes actually as a tool of teaching. ;)

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Script-blocker NoScript lets in ANYTHING from googleapis.com

Ken Hagan
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Re: Googleapis.com

"you'll be using C runtime, MFC, C#, DirectX, ADO, ... all of which are third party binaries "

Nit-pick. These aren't third-party binaries. Simply by booting up a closed source OS, you've already handed over the keys to the kingdom to your OS vendor and these are from the same source.

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UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends' friends

Ken Hagan
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Re: Off

If you don't know that it exists, how are you supposed to turn it off?

Quick question: what's the list of things that have to be turned off as the first thing you do with a new Windows machine?

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Ken Hagan
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No significant known issues, he said.

What ... the ... %"@!

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Why OH WHY did Blighty privatise EVERYTHING?

Ken Hagan
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Re: The Purpose of Government.

Even if you accept the "services" argument, the best way for a government to provide those services appears to be to collect the cash (using its legal authority to levy taxes) and then go into the marketplace and buy those services from someone with a clue. That is, it appears to be possible for a private concern to provide a better service *and* do it for less money (thereby leaving some left over for profit) than a public concern. This is probably because public concerns can't go bust (unless they're Greek) and deep down the civil servants know it.

Sadly, governments appear to be crap at both collecting cash and regulating, too, and it isn't obvious that these functions can be privatised in the same way. We do have some experience of regulatory capture, in various industries, but it seems to be even worse than just having ignorant politicians in charge. The French had a privatised tax system in the eighteenth century but they (the Farmers General) were, as the saying goes, "first up against the wall when the Revolution came".

And it certainly came. Took the rest of us a quarter of a century to confine it to France.

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Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

Ken Hagan
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Re: "Not til we have some planes to go on them..."

I don't think C&C time lag is necessarily the point. In principle, you could have a button that puts the drone into autonomous combat mode, whereupon it does whatever it takes (pulling rather more g-s than a pilot could, if necessary) to remove the target you've identified. In practice, I'm sure the extra sensory and processing hardware required is not yet standard issue on existing drones. However, I'm sure DARPA are working on it.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Outer Manchuria before the Falklands

Yeah, that's a *proper* Russian strongman. The present lot are just limp in comparison.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Argies are too late @Flocke Kroes

"That's the Northern Ireland that's still part of the UK right?"

That's the one, and it precisely proves the point. In the 1990s, the UK government made a public declaration that the UK had no territorial interest on the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland remains part of the UK only because the local people want it to.

(It's a slightly different case because of the size of the population, of course. There were rumours in the 90s that the UK had offered to hand over the territory in line with historic claims by Eire over the entire island, and been politely refused on the grounds that they didn't want the loyalist groups to become their problem.)

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Microsoft's magic hurts: Nadella signals 'tough choices' on the way

Ken Hagan
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Re: Apps + Windows Phone

I think the general gist of the reason why is that the API available to phone apps is not sufficiently close to the API that all those desktop apps were written to. I haven't looked too hard at the modern phone API, so I'm just guessing.

However, it was certainly true for WinCE, despite the fact that CE never ran on devices that were as feeble as the original Windows. Microsoft never really appeared to understand that you had to port more than the branding for it to actually count as a port.

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That shot you heard? SSLv3 is now DEAD

Ken Hagan
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"How can one of the big national banks (part of Lloyds Group these days) have the temerity to operate like this?"

The parent (secure.lloydsbank.com) is even worse, supporting SSLv3. BoS probably deserve some congratulations. :(

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