* Posts by Squander Two

1057 posts • joined 26 Mar 2012

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Ex-GCHQ chief: Bulk access to internet comms not same as mass surveillance

Squander Two

Re: What database?

> The only way a filter can work is if there is a central government database.

Nonsense.

"Hello, Transco? Government here. Could you give us the names and other sundry details of anyone who paid gas bills at both these addresses over the last ten years, please?"

"Hi, Government. We'd love to, but sadly that information is on our own database. Obviously we could only provide it to you if you already held it on your own database. Sorry. Love, Transco."

> there is no way that EE can know that person A carrying phone X is, or is not, person A carrying phone Y on the Vodaphone network.

So?

> Very few crims ... are stupid enough to carry the same phone to different jobs.

According to Candice DeLong, the unofficial motto of the FBI is "Ain't you glad they're dumb?" Most criminals are thick.

http://awesci.com/the-astonishingly-funny-story-of-mr-mcarthur-wheeler/

Besides, it is obviously always true that we could make laws worse in order to make the police's job easier. That doesn't mean that, if you can think of a way in which a law isn't making the police's job as easy as it could, the law can't really exist.

> What they continually gloss over though is the fact that anyone can buy a cheap phone without any identity check and pop in a prepaid sim card, then throw it away once the job is one.

Who's glossing over that? I'm pretty sure both the Government and the police are well aware of that, and I've certainly never seen any of them try to imply otherwise. The phones-at-crime-scenes things was just an illustrative example of how the filters work, not some sort of claim of supercop prowess.

> Which gets us back to the real reason for this bill: to be able to retroactively go though the masses of data

They've drawn up a bill which prevents the police getting mass data slurps and attempts to limit the amount of irrelevant data they get in order to give the police more data?

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Squander Two

> The use of a term that absolutely everybody else uses to mean one thing

I think you're living in an IT bubble. Half the public have no idea what "blog" means and would probably simply call a blog a "website". Of those who do know what blog means, very few know that it's an abbreviation of "weblog".

I mean, seriously, "absolutely everybody else uses" the term "weblog"? When did you last hear it? I had a blog post go viral and make the news (and am still going on and on about it), and I don't think any of the coverage ever used the term "weblog".

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Squander Two
Flame

What database?

Last week, the Home Office confirmed to The Register that the system would be used by public authorities to make a "complex request for communications data". Which, put another way, is a database query.

The Register appear to think that the small matter of who owns and maintains a database is apparently not even worth mentioning. But surely it's relevant.

The National ID Card and Database thing that the Coalition stopped was to be a government database owned and maintained by the state, with all subjects' details kept in it compulsorily, available to state employees to peruse. There were also plans to add facial-recognition software and plug it into the CCTV network, so that the state could keep tabs on every one of us every minute of every day.

The new filter things proposed in Theresa May's new plans mean that the state makes a request to (say) a telco for some phone records and the telco then applies the filters before providing the data to the state, so that the state don't end up holding extra data that they don't need. The example given by the Home Office in response to The Reg's last article was very clear:

· The assertion that the request filter in the draft Investigatory Powers Bill is a “secret database of citizens’ personal lives and habits” is plain wrong. The Request Filter is a safeguard that means when public authorities make a complex request for communications data (i.e. police seeking to find out which mobile phone was at three crime scenes at the relevant times) they only get back data that is absolutely necessary.

· Currently, public authorities might approach CSPs for location data to identify the mobile phones used in those three locations at the relevant times, in order to determine whether a particular phone (and a particular individual) is linked to the three offences. This means the public authority may acquire a significant amount of data relating to people who are not of interest.

· The request filter will mean that when a police force makes such a request, they will only see the data they need to. Any irrelevant data will be deleted and not made available to the public authority.

Well, I think it's clear, but apparently The Register can't understand it.

Current system: Police ask telco for the details of every user of every mobile phone in range of three crime scenes at given times. The police receive a ton of data and start filtering it themselves. The police therefore incidentally receive details of your whereabouts and phone activity even though you're not even remotely a suspect, just because you happened to be near one crime scene at one time.

New system: Police ask telco for the details of the users of any mobile phones in range of three crime scenes at given times. The telco filter the data accordingly and send the police the filtered data, containing only details of phone users who were at all three crime scenes at the given times. The police never receive your details just because you were near one crime scene at one time.

There is no unified state database of everything here. This is quite explicitly a move to allow the authorities to access data they need while limiting their access to data they don't.

There is a principled position to be taken against all these separate corporate databases, of course, and no doubt there's a lot of overap between people who object to a unified state database and people who object to separate corporate databases, but they're still two different things. And there are surely plenty of people like me, who object strongly to the unified state database but are content to accept corporate databases. I for one don't hanker for the days when you'd ring British Gas and they'd go away to look up your details in a filing cabinet. Telcos have to organise our billing somehow.

But The Register's position appears to be simply that a database query is involved so OMG SECRET GOVERNMENT DATABASE! Even when the database in question isn't the government's. This is puerile stuff.

But – if you obey Whitehall – no one is allowed to use the word "database". Indeed, it's not mentioned once in May's proposed law.

Obviously, because May's law doesn't concern databases; it concerns requests by the government to corporations to give them data. While it is of course convenient for those corporations to keep their data in databases rather than filing cabinets for their own purposes, that is no concern of Whitehall's. When the police request some data, they don't care whether it was being kept in a database or an Excel file or a dog-eared cardboard folder; they just want the data. And surely any law that specifically mentioned databases and therefore allowed companies to dodge it by printing some data out and deleting a few rows from the DB would be a badly and downright stupidly drafted law.

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Squander Two

It's always possible that he works in an environment and was speaking in a context in which the term "weblog" has a different meaning. It's also possible that he said "Web log" and it's been mistranscribed as "weblog".

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Freebooting: How Facebook's 8 billion views could be a mirage

Squander Two
WTF?

Seriously?

Prolific Youtube users are COMPLAINING about copyright infringement?

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ASA slaps Ebuyer AGAIN - this time for ignoring regulator

Squander Two

Re: Never had a problem with Ebuyer and am happy to recommend them

I've had mixed experience with Ebuyer. I got a cheap big TV from them with a three year guarantee and its headphone port stopped working after a couple of years. They arranged courier pick-up. They no longer stocked the same TV, so credited me a full refund. Meanwhile, the price of TVs had of course come down, so I used the credit to get a better TV and they sent me £50 as well. And of course the three year guarantee on the new TV started afresh. Excellent service there.

That experience led me to get a small TV with built-in DVD-player from them. The player skips a beat every few minutes, which I find very annoying, especially if music is playing. Ebuyer took it back and looked at it and then sent it back to me again, claiming that it wasn't a fault. Apparently, they regard it as working as designed -- which is shite when you consider you can get a DVD-player from Asda for £17 which works better. So I was quite unimpressed by that. On the other hand, they didn't charge me shipping for taking back a device which they claim is not faulty and then sending it to me again.

Everything else I've had from them has been fine.

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Squander Two

You know, giving you a full refund is really not all that bad.

I had the opposite: got a TV from them that developed a fault and they gave me a full refund. The price of TVs had gone down in the interim, so I was able to get a similar but better replacement plus an extra £50.

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Squander Two

"Mainland UK"

The whole "mainland UK" thing pisses me off. Not only because I live in Northern Ireland so am often affected by it, but because it's just plain bad English. If you exclude NI, then it's not the bloody UK, is it? It's like saying "We deliver to all of North America (excluding Mexico and Canada)."

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Microsoft Windows Mobile 10: Uphill battle with 'work in progress'

Squander Two

Re: Onedrive downgrade

> I don't know what phone carrier you're using - but if you can push 30GB of photos to the cloud over your phone in any normal timeframe, I want to know who you're signed up with. I get 6GB/mo and that's a special deal. If I had to renew my account, I'd be lucky to get 3GB at the same price... so it would take me at least five months of solid heavy photography to fill 15.

What has the amount of storage on Onedrive got to do with the cost of your phone contract? Seriously, I don't see any link at all. You seem to be working from the assumption that the only reason to put a photo on Onedrive is that you're out and about and that no-one would ever do so at home. That assumption is completely bizarre. Windows Phone even has a setting for users to decide whether photos get uploaded via mobile or wifi, which rather indicates that a lot of users are using wifi.

> At 10 photos a day - it would take 5.5 months to fill that up.

Five-and-a-half months! Gosh. What makes you think this is a long time? I've been using Onedrive a couple of years now, and intend to use it a few more, unless the silly price hike turns out to be the first of many.

> So no - for the vast majority of people, no - you won't fill it up soon enough unless you really want to keep every photo you take online and in OneDrive.

What, the vast majority of people would never keep files for five-and-a-half months?

OK, so the idea of keeping all your photos online is obviously so crazy to you that you can't even get your head around the idea of other people doing it. But surely you've noticed the plethora of services offering that exact thing to people? Have you considered that they might be offering the service because a lot of people are in fact using it?

I keep all my photos online. Used to use Mozy's backup, then switched to just bunging everything on Onedrive because it's a hell of a lot more convenient. Available on all my devices, trivially easy to share, and all backed up. I doubt I'm that unusual.

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Squander Two

Re: Just give up already, Microsoft

> Sadly WP10 seems to be screwing things up and I'm wondering if my support for WP will come to an end, and I should give up and get an iPhone.

I'm worried about WP10. Haven't tried it yet, but reports are mixed, and it certainly sounds like they're ditching some of what makes WP8 good. But it stretches credulity to think that even Microsoft on their worst day could screw it up so badly that it would be worth getting an iPhone instead.

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Drones are dropping drugs into prisons and the US govt just doesn't know what to do

Squander Two

Re: Dungeon ?

Hey, if it's good enough for federal pension bureaucrats, why not prison guards?

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Squander Two

Work in IT, they said. See the world, they said.

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Squander Two

You know, there are times I wish I'd never told HR I was getting RSI.

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Squander Two

Shut down all the trash compactors on the detention level!

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So just what is the third Great Invention of all time?

Squander Two
Devil

Gods and dogs.

Plus the insistence that things really do have some rational causes, ones that don't change at a whim. It's rather necessary to get God out of the system, or at least out of the detailed operation of it, before that idea can properly take hold and thus the connection with humanism.

I think Pratchett and Stewart and Cohen argued very persuasively that in fact it's necessary to get gods, plural, out of the system. Once you have just one god, the idea begins to take hold that each phenomenon has a consistent cause and that therefore the same conditions will always give the same results. It's multiple gods bickering with each other that are the problem.

Anyway, you're takling bollocks again, Tim. Everyone knows mankind's greatest invention is the puppy. Can't believe that's even up for debate.

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‘Insufficient evidence’ makes Brit cops drop revenge porn probes

Squander Two

Re: I don't get it

Well said, sir. Sick to death of these self-absorbed eejits blaming the victims every time this subject comes up.

Here are some examples for the morons to think about.

Disabled people who can't perform sex the same way everyone else can and have to come up with workarounds, which may sometimes involve pictures.

Soldiers on active duty, away from their spouses for months or years at a time, whose spouses may provide them with pictures to help them through the long-term absence. Same for oil rig workers, Antarctic researchers, wildlife photographers, etc.

People having therapy to overcome intimacy problems.

It's not clear to me that any of the above are stupid bastards who deserve public humiliation.

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Squander Two

Re: This is a stupid law and a waste of police time and money

> If you allow someone to take photographs of you in embaressing positions/naked/ whatever then who is to blame?

Damn straight. And so what if someone has posted the positive results of your HIV test online? Whose stupid idea was it to have the test in the first place, eh?

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OH GROSS! The real problem with GDP

Squander Two

Re: Goodhart !

That ties in with Sir John Cowperthwaite's advice on how to grow a successful economy: abolish the office of national statistics.

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Squander Two

> But then the man then has more money to spend

You're not married, are you?

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Top boffin Freeman Dyson on climate change, interstellar travel, fusion, and more

Squander Two

Re: The role of models in Science

> unless you can establish some degree of universality (and even, to some degree, if you can) you never really know what the limits of validity of a model are without testing it against the real world

The thing I should have added about pre-Keplerian astronomical models is that humans had been staring at the night sky and keeping meticulous and pretty damn accurate records of what they saw since the Babylonians, so those models were based on a hell of a lot of data -- so could easily be tested against the real world. Climatologists just don't have that advantage.

I think my point is that, to develop a simplified model, you either need real-world comparison or you need to develop complicated models that include everything and then figure out which variables can be removed. Which is a bugger.

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Squander Two

Re: The role of models in Science

> Weather, climate. Examples of 'chaotic' systems.

Weather is a chaotic system. Last I checked, climatologists were still trying to figure out whether climate is chaotic.

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Squander Two

Re: The role of models in Science

> models turn out to be most useful when they distill or abstract a particular aspect of a problem

Such as the temperature?

> in answer to specific questions

Such as "What will the temperature be?"?

Less facetiously, yes, good point. Another excellent example of successful oversimplified modelling is the various pre-Keplerian models of planetary movements. Despite their insistence on making all astronomical bodies follow paths constructed of perfect circles (often quite contrived combinations of circles), some of those models were good enough to make accurate centuries-long predictions.

Of course, we now know that the heavens are not eternally unchanging and that planetary orbits will change over very long timescales. So, whilst those models were brilliant at predicting movements within this small fraction of astronomical time human civilization exists in, they're useless at modelling the eventual departure from this apparent equilibrium and what might happen next, or at explaining what happened before.

Ferromagnetic phase transition, on the other hand, is a more universal thing: it was the same a billion years ago, it'll be the same in a billion years, and it's the same whether you're standing on planet Earth or flying through some other galaxy.

It strikes me that these are essentially different circumstances to model: something universal, or near enough universal, and something that only pertains in specific local conditions. In the latter case, we need to know the limits of what can be accurately described by a simple model so that we may then make confident predictions up to those limits and equally confidently assert "No idea" beyond them.

So the question is: have climatologists figured out those limits yet?

Meteorologists have.

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Rights groups: Darn you Facebook with your 'government names'

Squander Two
Facepalm

Re: Easy one.

Two things. Firstly, what is so wrong with a company's customers exerting pressure on that company to change their policies? This is one of many ways for a company to assess what services there is demand for. When customers do this, they're basically giving the company free market research results. It's valuable data, that well run companies welcome.

There are pub landlords out there who tell all their customers "If you don't like it, fuck off," and there are others who get in that new beer everyone's asking for and install a pool table because a couple of dozen of their customers keep asking for one. Guess which kind of pub does better.

Secondly, Facebook's users aren't their customers; they're the raw material out of which they build their product. Facebook want as much near-enough-free raw material as possible. Their business plan is entirely based on enticing users with a service that everyone on the planet will want. So "If you don't like it, fuck off" is about the most moronic policy they could possibly adopt.

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Squander Two

Re: I think we need to

> Companies would love the extra productivity from their staff.

Can't believe you would be so crass as to bring that up on the El Reg Forums.

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Squander Two

Re: Real name?

Yes, this whole idea of a "real" name is an American thing that works in some other jurisdictions and not others. As usual, a Silicon Valley company has difficulty comprehending that the whole world isn't California.

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Surface Book: Microsoft to turn unsuccessful tab into unsuccessful laptop

Squander Two

Re: But why do I have to choose?

Good plan. And it would also help sales, surely, as people with the cheaper keyboard opted to upgrade it.

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What is money? A rabid free marketeer puts his foot in lots of notes

Squander Two

Re: @rob

> whom should we be rewarding and supporting more -- teachers or bankers?

Humanity keeps getting richer and education standards plummet. Is that a trick question?

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Squander Two

Re: The British economy is not an island

> Fortunately we can rely on the historical mutual love and respect between France and the UK

Well, I suppose we could try that. Or we could be cynical and use the fact that London is now something like the third-largest French city as a bargaining chip.

Nice diaspora you've got there. Shame if something were to happen to it. Like if it suddenly all went home.

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Squander Two
Facepalm

Re: The British economy is not an island

One of the things I find odd about the EU's enthusiasts is their conviction that the EU is the only possible set of international treaties available to European countries. If the UK were to leave the EU, both sides would immediately set about negotiating a bunch of treaties. OBVIOUSLY. I mean, what bizarre universe do you need to live in not to realise that?

Even Schengen wasn't an EU agreement at the start. A bunch of member states just negotiated their own treaty on their own accord, without the EU's help, and the EU later adopted it. This was not a strange event. It's what countries do.

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Squander Two

Re: ...the right to call upon the resources...

> And if you really, really, pressed an economist he'd probably tell you that unlimited free energy would mean the end of economics. Because there would be no scarcity and economics is about the allocation of scarce resources.

I can't agree with that. I don't believe that, given unlimited free energy, everyone will be content to just go on using all the already existing technology as much as they want forever. People will want new things that work in new ways. Which means that ingenuity will still be required, and ingenuity is a scarce resource. Also, one of the reasons that people will want new tech is that they will want to be able to do the same things more quickly. And that is because time is a scarce resource.

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Squander Two

Re: Smoke and Mirrors

GDP may contain all sorts of crappy assumptions, but it at least contains the same crappy assumptions wherever we measure it. So, whilst it may not be a great absolute measure of an economy, it is quite a good way of comparing economies to each other. Ish.

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Squander Two

Re: Moral dimension

Dan55,

> the debt-generating money merry-go-round which transfers bank debt to state debt and requires more bonds to be paid out at some future time than would otherwise have been.

...

> After a state takes on bank debt, the state needs to make cutbacks or raise taxes or both.

...

> Isn't a sovereign debt crisis what happens when a state cannot pay out what it has to pay out when the bonds it has sold mature? If a state doesn't gratuitously take on debt, it won't have that problem.

Perhaps I've missed something in your reasoning here, but you appear to be treating borrowing and lending as the same. You've used the phrase "take on debt" to describe both issuing bonds (debt) and nationalising mortgages and other bank loans (credit). You then describe the consequences of too much debt and assume that they are also the consequences of too much credit -- easy to do when you're using the same words to describe each. But no. If a government "takes on debt" by nationalising a bank, it has purchased an asset, which it can sell and which will probably provide an income before the government sells it -- because it is not in fact taking on debt; it is taking on credit. If a government "takes on debt" by issuing bonds, it is simply borrowing money that it will eventually have to pay back. So you're right when you say "If a state doesn't gratuitously take on debt, it won't have that problem." But you're wrong when you imply that the phrase "take on debt" in that sentence can refer to buying a bank. They're opposites.

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Mobile phones are the greatest poverty-reducing tech EVER

Squander Two

Re: Too much variation

> places where it could take all day to drive somewhere and back

Is there some other kind of place?

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Squander Two

> Yes retail banking is essential, but investment banking isn't - it provides little of value to society

Personally, when I can't see a thing's purpose, I go and find out. I don't assume that my not knowing its purpose means it has none.

One example of something investment banking does is crop futures trading, which is a large part of why we don't have starvation in modern societies and also why farmers are now able to live perfectly well when there's a bad harvest. Farmers used to starve to death because of a bit of bad weather, so that's pretty valuable.

Most people who want to stop working at some point also consider pensions to be quite valuable.

> Rather than spend billions of taxpayer's money bailing out the old banks, perhaps the government should have started a national non-profit retail bank, reducing the motive for risk taking and the likelihood of future banking crisis?

You mean like they had in Spain? Yeah, that worked.

When proposing a solution, look around to see if it's been tried before and, if so, whether it worked.

What the British Government did as part of the bailout was insist that banks have to ringfence their retail and investment arms from now on, precisely so that in future it will be possible to bail out retail banks (and thus preserve the money supply, which is what was necessary) while letting investment banking fail and fall. That condition is being enforced: the ringfencing really is happening.

Incidentally, you want to reduce the motive for risk-taking. I understand that there's this popular image of bankers as roulette players, but that's not actually the nature of risk in banking. If you want to start a small business, you need a loan. Giving you that loan is a risk. If you want to expand your small business and hire more staff, you need a bank to take a risk on you. If you want to buy a house to put your family in, you need a bank to take a risk on you. Even tiny investments -- an unemployed person buying a new suit they can't afford for a job interview; a poor immigrant using a friend's credit card to buy a professional-grade sewing machine in order to start work as a seamstress -- require someone to take a risk with some money. It's not always a bank taking that risk, but it usually is. If banks stop taking risks, we're all fucked.

> When all banking is done electronically, the overheads will be minimal, and banking services could effectively be free for all.

I assume you want a completely unregulated bank, then?

Banking services have indeed got much cheaper than they used to be, thanks largely to the electronification of money. But there is a little bit more to banking than just moving money around. Checking people's ability to pay before giving them a mortgage, for instance: takes time and effort and work to do that. And my understanding of the post-2008 environment is that banks are (rightly) expected to do more diligent checking now, not less.

Avoiding giving huge bank loans to ISIS for them to spend on grenades: again, takes lots of work to check backgrounds thoroughly, because terrorist groups do devious things like using false names and setting up legitimate fronts.

I'm guessing you dislike tax evasion, too. So do you want banks to look out for it or not?

Banking costs money because it involves work. No, really. You want it to be cheaper, remove the work requirements.

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Squander Two

> It may be the "Govenments", setting the rules

Why on Earth have you put "Govenments" in quotes? Genuine question.

> The telcos use the banks services because they have to. They are made to do so by the regulators.

To the extent that businesses are forced to use banks for this kind of transaction, there's a reason for that. You obviously don't think much of all those pesky anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorism regulations that the banks have to obey, but they are actually there for a reason. Yes, obeying the regulations makes business harder -- for the banks as well as telcos and anyone else. I have worked in a team who handled compliance with anti-terrorism watchlists for a major insurer. It's a hell of a lot of rather difficult work. But, personally, I still think it's better than handing a couple of million to the IRA or ISIS without asking too many questions.

> I've been in meetings where regulators have said "Anyone in our country can have an e-money licence", and an operator from that country said "we applied and didn't get one". The regulator said "That's because we decided that when you said you wanted it you didn't really".

Yes, I've had similar experiences with bureaucracy myself. But I find it interesting that, every time a government does something stupid, you blame banks. Why not blame the government?

> Everyone hates their bank.

Not me: I'm with First Direct.

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Squander Two

Re: "mobiles" != "mobile money"

> But then it goes on to state that it is M-Pesa (a payments system) which is the cause of the rise

No it doesn't. You're comparing different numbers.

A 10% increase in mobile phone coverage in a developing country leads to a ~0.5% GDP increase per year.

M-Pesa generated a 0.5% GDP increase in Kenya over 7 years.

And M-Pesa is only running in East Africa, not the entire developing world. It's an example of one of the mobile-enabled causes, not the cause.

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Robber loses heist case after 'evil twin' defence, gets 60 years

Squander Two

> I'm sure I cannot be the only one who finds it disturbing that many leftpondians seem to feel that sexual abuse by other prisoners is a normal and acceptable component of punishment.

Some American politicians are campaigning against it now. I know National Review regard it as a national disgrace. So hopefully progress is on its way.

Meanwhile, in the great British tradition of adopting only the worst ideas from America and never the good ones, there seems to be a growing expectation in the UK that rape is part of prison. Sad.

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You want the poor to have more money? Well, doh! Splash the cash

Squander Two
WTF?

@ Martin an gof

> I have four children and there have always been people who seem to make it their job to make me feel guilty for that.

Agreed. Some people are utter arseholes about your having children. Especially the environmentalists.

> Now, of course, it's the government, talking about removing child-related benefits from child number 3 (or is it 4?) onwards.

Er, what? How is that trying to make you feel guilty? The government didn't pay for my last laptop, but I don't think they're trying to make me feel guilty about owning one.

> Anyone fancy a one-child policy?

Are you seriously suggesting that a government who pay you money for your first two living children and a government who outright ban you from bearing more than one child even if that first child dies are somehow behaving similarly?

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Squander Two
WTF?

Re: Long article

> Quite why anyone with anything else to do would want to visit even page 2 of one of Tim's political/econmic/general bollocks articles is beyond me.

Quite why anyone who thinks even visiting page 2 of the article is too much hassle has nevertheless gone to the effort of reading the comments and replying to one of them is beyond me.

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Robots, schmobots. The Rise of the Machines won't leave humanity on the dole

Squander Two

Re: Insurance

> Even if you assume a 'nice' company, autonomous cars aren't going to be cheap for quite some time, so you'll be paying extra to offset the company's investment. Prices will come down over time, but I suspect we're quite a long way off it being substantially cheaper than a taxi.

This is right, I think. I don't think autonomous cars are going to make taxis much cheaper short-term. I think they'll decimate the taxi industry first. Because where the investment becomes really worthwhile is in downgrading the number of cars in a family.

Think of all the families out there who have two cars, one for the husband to drive to work and one for the wife to use during the day. Now imagine the husband driving to work and then sending the car home to the wife. And there are dozens of similar situations. Most people who need two conventional cars would only need one self-driving one. Similarly, most people who need one conventional car and a taxi service wouldn't need the taxis if they had a self-driving car. As long as a self-driving car is less than double the price of a conventional car, the investment pays for itself instantly.

This is going to be a massively disruptive technology. Taxis are fucked.

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Squander Two

Re: Fun game to play.

That's a too-literal understanding of "waiter". Take a look at some of the cutting-edge sushi bars in Japan, where they use two separate tiers of conveyor belts, RFID chips in the plates, and ordering consoles on the tables. They deliver personal orders to individuals at specific tables and issue their bills, all without waiters.

They do still have kitchen staff, though. Just not waiters.

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Squander Two

Re: Satisficers rather than Maximisers

> Robots could do a lot more on factory floors more cheaply than a human

Yes, but robots can only do the existing job. Toyota figured out that humans make better employees because they are capable of noticing the various ways in which their job can be made more efficient. They have an incentive program to actively encourage production-line staff to improve processes, and a no-robot policy. And it works very well.

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Squander Two

Re: Insurance

There'll be both. For some people, using an on-call service will be ideal. But a major reason to want to own your own car is that you don't only use it to transport yourself; you also keep a load of crap in it: tools, child seats, portable DVD players for long journeys, books, blinds stuck on the windows, phone chargers, emergency biscuits.... Yes, I'm a parent.

Even without kids, people make a mess of their cars. Being obliged to leave a hired car pristine could be a hell of an imposition if you're hiring them four times a day. Hire companies currently clean cars between customers, but their customers are hiring by the day. How will that work when they hire by the minute?

More generally, talk to drivers about their cars and it quickly becomes clear that it's not just about getting from A to B. People really care what their car looks like, what colour it is, how rounded the corners are, whether it has a stripe down the side, etc. That's not about to change. Not for everyone.

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Squander Two

Re: However...

> Those nuclear weapons sit in their silos. Your AK-47, that's the real weapon of mass destruction.

Absolutely. And the Ugandan genocide was done almost entirely with machetes.

This is exactly what you'd expect when you consider that technological progress tends to correlate with societal freedom. I believe there is still only one historical instance of a democracy going to war against another democracy.

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Apple's iPad Pro: We're making a Surface Pro WITH A STYLUS over Steve Jobs' DEAD BODY

Squander Two
Devil

Hats off, Kiwi. Hats off.

> Oh, just noticed the "2015 and your windoze PC can still be pwned by a web page" headline.

Oh, Jesus, that's brilliant. You've taken the word "Windows" and spelt it "Windoze", thus incorporating the word "doze", meaning a sleep or a nap, but implying the word "dozy", which originally meant "sleepy" but has come to mean a sort of vague slow stupidity -- and yet, said out loud, it still sounds exactly the same. Congratulations on a superbly executed pun, sir.

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Surface pen storage trivia

> Because where the Surface Pro 3 seems to be largely well designed, the thing that always made me laugh was how the storage place for it's stylus was... on the keyboard... which always struck me as being a typically MS-not-quite-as-well-thought-out-as-it-should-be solution!

Actually, the pen storage loop thing comes in the form of a sticker which you can attach wherever you like. You can put it on the keyboard, sure, but mine is to the side of the screen.

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Squander Two

Re: Slavishly Copied

>> Gobsmacking hipocrisy and lack of innovation.

> Copied from Microsoft.

That makes it a good idea, does it? I used to be a loyal Apple user because their OS was way better than Microsoft's. These days, Apple sell overpriced crap and have utter contempt for their customers, whilst Microsoft innovate the way Apple used to.

The Surface Pro is a wonderful bit of kit, precisely because it's the kind of thing Apple used to come up with. And this is their answer to it? Pff.

Competition is a wonderful thing. I wonder who'll be making the good stuff in ten years. Maybe someone we've not even heard of.

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Squander Two

Re: Value?

> Just give it a couple of years, and they'll "reinvent" the mouse (and/or trackpad)

Ah, I still remember when Apple invented copying and pasting. They even had a TV advert for it. Revolutionary stuff.

I had a Nokia 9500 Communicator and had been copying and pasting for years, but I'm sure that didn't count for some reason.

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Microsoft's 'successful' Nokia slurp kills off Lumia photo apps

Squander Two

Microsoft's marketing

Microsoft's marketing is truly woeful. Look at Apple's poster campaign for the iPhone 6: dozens of beautiful photos taken by actual users. Why the hell didn't MS (or Nokia) do that? The photos exist. MS even made the effort of collecting them, setting up a website for users to submit their work -- a website that was not marketed and so was only looked at by people who already had the 1020. Clueless.

Similar for the Surface. Some team of unsung geniuses at MS made the Freshpaint app -- another thing that makes people say "Wow!" when they see it -- and it's bundled free with Windows now. Anyone seen an ad for it? If Apple made the Surface, there'd be a TV ad just showing an artist painting a watercolour in Freshpaint. MS did an advert with a load of people doing a dance number with their detachable keyboards. And they keep telling us we can use Excel on it. Excel! Woo!

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You tried to hide your extramarital affair … by putting it on the web?

Squander Two

Re: Dopehead can only say, "Who are you?"

A few years ago, an attractive young lady somewhere in the UK decided to get rid of the irritating and illiterate young men who tried to chat her up on Friday nights by giving them a random phone number. That random number was mine. Used to get some great texts on Saturday mornings.

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