* Posts by Tannin

133 posts • joined 8 Apr 2012

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Factory reset memory wipe FAILS in 500 MEELLION Android mobes

Tannin

Simple

It's not hard. Just pretend you are a normal, rational human being and use the phone until it doesn't work anymore. At that point, it's worthless, throw it away. (Or destroy it in any manner you please if the data matters enough.) Along the way, you've saved enough by not buying unnecessary new dorky consumer tech-head gear every few months to treat yourself to a holiday at the destination of your choice.

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Hacker launches ransomware rescue kit

Tannin

sigh

Fond memories of the days when blank CDs cost 20c and you could fit all of your important stuff on one or two or three of them. Use write-once CD blanks (never re-writables) and every time you make a fresh backup, thow the older set into a shoe-box. When the shoe-box is full, put it in the shed and buy some new shoes. Result: an endless set of incorruptable backups, proof against anything bar fire, a maniac with a hammer, or your girlfriend having a little tidy-up.

sigh

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

Tannin

Re: Choose a question (and answer) on car numbers

What was the registration of your first car? (Ans: PWT-377. Easy.)

What was the registration of your previous car? (Ans: I didn't *have* a car previous to my first car! Or maybe you mean the one previous to the one I have now. Easy: IOW:682.)

What was the registration of your red car? (Ans: GTE-221. Simple)

What was the registration of your father's car? (Ans: TJQ:710. I'll never forget that one.)

What is the registration of your current car? (Ans: Um ... hang on a minute .... I'll just go outside and look.)

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Tannin

easy to remermber? really?

Great post, Dan1980 but just one thing: "Bleeding obvious really - unchangeable, factual answers (like city of birth) are easy to remember but the easiest for someone else to find out."

Well, actually, no. I was born in .... well, sometimes that particular part of Melbourne is regarded as Elwood, sometimes it's East St Kilda, but people mostly save confusion and say Elsternwick (which is right next door and better known) or possibly St Kilda. On your power bill it might say "Elwood", but your electoral registration is "East St Kilda" .... and I haven't even mentioned the rates notice, which says "St Kilda, East". Then again, whichever way you think of it, it's part of the municipality of Caufield. That might be a better answer. On the other hand, maybe I should just say "Melbourne" as all these are suburbs of Melbourne. But that's too easy for third parties to guess - probably 70% of all Australiand living in Victoria were born somewhere in Melbourne.

Right: it's three years later and some stupid website is asking me where I was born so that I can get back into my account. Do I feel lucky?

(Disclaimer: I wasn't really born in the place(s) I mentioned, but in a different part of town with an equal multiplicity of possible names. Better not to menton these things on-line. At least not truthfully. Especially not when I don't even know for sure what the "truth" is! Should I just give a lat/long instead? Or possibly just go to a different website where the IT gnomes are slightly less stupid.)

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Airplane HACK PANIC! Hold on, it's surely a STORM in a TEACUP

Tannin

Please learn how to spell aeroplane.

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TPG ups offer for iiNet to AU$1.56bn, includes clever cash kicker

Tannin
Stop

This is a disaster

This is a disaster for Aussie consumers. All iiNet customers will now be handed over to TPG - a company which would be famous nationwide for cheap and lousy service if only Dodo wasn't even cheaper and even lousier.

TPG promise that they will retain iiNet as an individual "premium" business. Yer right. That's code for "charge these suckers more, give them the exact same lousy service we give all our other suckers".

Australia has basically three sorts of ISP:

1: Major telcos with fair to poor service standards, highly questionable techical competence in some cases (e.g., the Vodafail mobile network, anything that has to do with Big Pond), long lock-in contracts, and very, very high prices. Telstra, Optus, Vodafail, various other-brand fronts for them such as Virgin (which is Optus).

2: Cheap price-price-price vendors with no technical standards worth mentioning, appalling customer service on a good day and none at all on a bad day, and prices that look attractive until you actually try to use the service. (Dodo, TPG, various others.)

3: Serious players in between those two extremes with generally reasonable pricing, and generally decent service. (Internode, iiNet (which now owns Internode), hopefully there are some others but I don't know who they are, if indeed there are any others left.)

Not happy.

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House of Cards UI central to Mozilla's plans for Firefox on tellies

Tannin
Coat

Looks sensible

On first glance, it looks perfectly sensible. This leads to the following supplementary questions:

(1) Am I too old? For a moment there I thought I'd read that the Firefox UI team did it. Time for my milk and arrowroot. Where did I put my slippers?

(2) Is it actually not nearly as sensible as it seems to be after all?

(3) Did all the smart Firefox UI people (yes, both of them) stop working on the browser years ago and switch overr to TV development?

(4) Does anyone actually watch TV these days anyway? Yes? Quite a few, you say. OK, I'll take your word for it. But how many of them are under 50?

(5) But what do I know anyway? My last TV blew up one cold, rainy Tuesday and I haven't got around to replacing it yet. Life seemed nicer without it for a little while, and seeing as it blew up near-on 20 years ago, possibly I'm slightly out of date on the TV tech scene. On the other hand, I've made my living tinkering with electronic machines I don't really understand for the last three decades, so who let that stop me now?

(6) What was the question?

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Australia cracks tech giants' tax dodge code

Tannin

Re: It isn't about efficiency.

"You are assuming that Singapore levies the same tax rate on all companies."

No. I just left that aspect aside in order to avoid too much detail not directly relevant to my main points. No objection to you raising it though: the Singapore-BHP scam recently exposed by the Senate enquiry was indeed gobsmackingly unethical, and we have no reason to believe that it was particularly unusual.

I see huge difficulties with your "no company tax" notion though. To make it work, you'd need to deal with two big problems:

(1) It's very hard to tax unrealised gains, which is what the value of a company is unless you close it down or sell it. How does one even assess them? And if one does - maybe by some formula involving market capitalisation - then that leads directly to horrible complications such as a company having to sell part of itself to pay tax just because its share price went up at an inconvenient time. And if you don't use market cap, what do you use instead?

(2) This would mean that foreign-owned companies could operate in your country without paying a red cent towards the cost of all the benefits that country goves them (such as roads, police, rule of law, educated workers, willing customers, natural resources, hospitals for its staff, and so on). Only the locally-owned companies would pay any tax. That's insane.

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Tannin

Two points to make here:

(1) Australia's corporate tax rate is frequently claimed to be higher than that of other similar countries, and quite wrongly so. Australia has a single corporate income tax set currently at 30%, where many other countries have a lower headline rate but don't count various other charges which, together, add up to about the same amount - especially when you count in the extraordinarily generous diiscounts and subsidies and assorted perks. ("Investment allowances", fuel subsidies, and a host of others.)

(2) Singapore is a special case. Like all tax havens, Singapore doesn't try to tax its own companies at anything like a sensible rate. Instead, it sets absurdly low corporate tax rates and encourages foreign companies to pretend to be doing business in Singapore so that they can avoid large amounts of tax they should be paying in Australia or the UK or the USA or France in exchange for paying a very small amount in Singapore. The Singapore tax economy, in other words, is parasitic on the economies of other countries.

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Tannin

Where does the value-add take place?

Some posters above claim that the tax should apply in the jurisdiction where the value was added. Let's try that idea out then, shall we?

In the case of Apple, it costs $499 to produce an iThing in China, the branch office in Taxhavenstein buys it for $500, and sells it to the branch office in Australia for $998. The consumer buys it for $999, and Apple makes $500 but only pays tax on $1. Neat trick if you can work it.

But if the value-add is not in Taxhavenstein, where is it? This is Apple, remember. Most of it takes place in the mind of the consumer, who willingly pays $999 for a product functionally near-identical to other (non-i) Things selling for $499 retail, or sometimes as much as $599. The value-add, in other words, is located in Australia, and that's where the tax should be paid. (Or the UK, or New Zealand, or whichever other country is getting iShafted today.)

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Mozilla to whack HTTP sites with feature-ban stick

Tannin

The Firefox developers have gone totally ga-ga. They have committed more than a few stupidities over the last couple of years, but this is beyond ga-ga and well out there into completely insane. Is there no cure? Someone had better reach for the humane injection. And don't bury the corpse. Burn it to be sure it's not infectious anymore.

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Extensive 3D NAND drives very expensive to make

Tannin

Um. Last time I checked, CapEx on LCD screen production was much higher than CapEx on CRT plant. Clearly, LCD screens cost much more to produce and so can't be expected to take over the market: CRTs will remain dominant.

How was that again?

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Australia finds $1 BEELLION to replace No-SQL DATABASE

Tannin

Re: Won't somebody think if the Greybeards

^ Spoken like a kid with wet ink on his tech certicate who thinks the answer to every technical problem is a newer iPhone.

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Malcolm Turnbull proposes taxing Google and Facebook ads

Tannin

Re: A stalking horse

In one word, no.

First, the percentage of advertisers able to claim back their GST component is much smaller than your 99% estimate.

Secondly, there is usually a lag between the payment of GST on a supply and the refund of that GST via a periodic income statement. Depending on the frequency with which the GST payment is rendered by the supplier as opposed to the frequency with which the purchaser claims a GST refund via a periodic income statement, that money can sit in the ATO coffers for a considerable time, where it is (of course) used to generate interest. As I recall, large companies reconcile their GST obligations monthly, where smaller organisations do it only four times a year. So that alone adds up to enough income to be worth having.

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Tannin

Too little too late, but better than nothing. Sydney to a brick they bury this and nothing at all happens, more is the pity.

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Turnbull says no need to future-proof NBN

Tannin

Re: Demand for Labor's FTTP network: 38% at 12Mbps, 38% at 25Mbps

Two problems here:

1: takeup of faster speeds was always going to take time. In any case, most users aren't as fussed about speed (within reason) as they are about download allowance. People willingly pay more for extra download, but generally don't see the value in extra speed until they start having trouble maxing out their download allowance or see stuttering video.

2: FTTP is cheaper than FTTN. Once you average out the extra cost of replacing the cheapskate short-term upgrade Turnbull is building, over time doing it once and doing it right the first time is far more cost effective.

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Sick of Chrome vs Firefox? Check out these 3 NEW browsers

Tannin

Re: Disabling javascript

With addons or without, none of the major browsers offers half the simple, practical functionality Opera ddid (real Opera, obviously, not the Chrome clone rubbish). Right click, edit site preferences, untick "enable Javascript". Easy as that, and built right in as standard. I've tried two or three of the no script addons (for various Gekko browsers) and though they offer all sorts of complicated bells and whistles, they don't come even close for simplicity and practicality.

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W*nkers of the world unite to SAVE THE PLANET one jerk-off at a time

Tannin

Re: Spelling

So what is the French term for "wanker"?

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Lenovo CTO: Hey, look around – we're not the only ones with a crapware infection

Tannin

Re: Just take off...

"Finding the drivers is the pain. Tosh are the worst, their site is all over the place."

You are not kidding. Toshiba's site is appalling. It's impossible to find stuff and lots and lots of vital things just plain aren't there. The best workaround is to ignore the official Toshiba site completely and go to toshiba.co.uk on the other side of the world. Toshiba UK isn't brilliant by any means, but you can usually find the driver you need. Eventually.

It's not just inconvenience, it downright dangerous. PC manufacturers who deliberately make their drivers hard to find because their only site design priority is flogging new kit are responsible for a great many of the crapware infections we all spend our days cleaning up. That DriverSupport scumware, for example. Users can't find the driver they need, so they Google for it and wind up with something very nasty.

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For pity's sake, you FOOL! DON'T UPGRADE it will make it WORSE

Tannin

Surprising how little mention there has been in these comments of the morons who wrote that software. Are just accepting such stupidity as normal?

Are these new idiots? Or just the same idiots who used to write stuff that barely worked on Internet Explorer 6.0 and didn't work at all on anything else?

PS: not saying that .NET is always evil, just that it is patently the wrong tool for this task. Well, OK, it's only mostly evil. At least I'm sure that there are lots of good uses for it. Or at least a few. I can't think of any examples just now, but there is bound to be some. Most likely at least one. Probably.

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Evil CSS injection bug warning: Don't let hackers cross paths with your website

Tannin
FAIL

Just another IE bug

Two points:

1 If you have something to say, please say it. As things stand, the article hints at a few things and skates glibly over a few more, but doesn't actually say anything of substance. At least not that I can detect. Has any other reader managed to figure out exactly what is being said here? (If anything.) One is left to trawl the links looking for the bacon in the sandwich.

2: Having learned (I think) what the vulnerability is (no thanks to the vague Reg article), I'm damned if I can figure out what the excuse is for calling it a "CSS vulnerability" instead of what it apparently is, just another IE vulnerability which (so far as I can glean) applies only to a version of IE so ancient that one might as well write up new bugs in Netscape Navigator 4.

What is the excuse (if any) for calling an IE bug a "CSS bug"? I am left to presume that the only purpose is to scam a headline few clicks, 'coz an actual CSS vulnerability would be important must-read news, where finding another bug in the long-obsolete nine-year-old Internet Explorer 7 is like finding a lump of horse poo in a dungheap. It's hardly news.

PS: If there *is* in fact some substantial backing to justify the rather hysterical headline, and it *isn't* just another ancient IE bug, please have the goodness to tell someone about it. You could start with Reg readers.

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Kyocera: Torque among yourselves on our unbreakable ruggedmobe

Tannin

Re: Kyocera

"Kyocera: Didn't realise they also made phones, I though they were just photocopiers, solar panels and kitchen knives"

I thought they made MFM hard disc drives. In fact I still have a couple of them.

Guess my age.

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Industry research claims over half of internet users open to new domains

Tannin

Re: What a load of bollocks that was

Every now and then, you read a comment that stands out like the dog's proverbials because of its clarity, understanding of the issue, excellent sense, and fluent, simple expression. This is one of those times. Well posted sir!

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Google, Amazon 'n' pals fork out for AdBlock Plus 'unblock' – report

Tannin

Or do it the easy way

Or you could just use Opera. (Real Opera, not the third-rate Chrome clone one.) If an ad doesn't bother you, fine. If it gets in your face, right click and select "block content". Up to you whether you want to block just that exact content or (more often) all content from that source. (There are also fine-grained choices you can make here but mostly you don't need to bother.) Well-behaved advertisers get to show their stuff (which is harmless and easy to ignore), pushy morons who shove flash animations in your face or play distracting videos get blocked forever. Much, much easier than buggerising around with add-ins and extensions and proxy servers, and it works like a charm.

Sadly, Opera isn't being updated anymore and won't stay viable for much longer. Vivaldi and/or Otter may yet provide useful replacements, but neither is ready for prime time yet.

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Opera Jon weaves a brand new browser

Tannin

Re: @moiety

Opera - and I mean real Opera, not that Chromeified rubbish they pretend is "Opera" now - doesn't have a NoScript add-on because it already has that functionality built in from scratch, and has had for years.

Straight out of the box, it provides easy global settings if you want them, and fine-grained control over any desired individual site if that's what you are after. Nothing to install, just click "site preferences" and set it the way you want it. While you are there, you can add individual per-site custom CSS if you like. This is seldom needed but can be really handy. For example, one site I visit frequently doesn't like you disabling scripting and obscures half the content with a faux helpful "Javascript is disabled" notice. No problem. In Opera (real Opera), you go tools > quick preferences > site preferences > user CSS and slip in a ".js-warning {display:none}. Try doing that in any other browser.

(I dare say it's possible in at least some of the others, but certainly difficult. I remember spending a couple of hours once bloating out my Firefox with any number of extensions in the hope of teaching it to do what Opera knows how to do straight out of the box, but without success. I got sick of mucking about and went back to Opera 12.x again. It just works. Bliss!)

Will Vivaldi ever approach Opera 12.x's best-of-breed user interface and peerless flexibility? Probably not - it took many years of work to get Opera's UI to the state of near-perfection it reached with 12.x, and it's unreasonable to expect a new project to manage that anytime soon, but good luck to them and every success.

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Australia to conduct national cyber-security review

Tannin
Gimp

Who'd a thunk it?

Strewth! What a coincidence! Who'd a thunk it?

Just at he very self-same moment that Abbott is being hammered every day by headlines all across the nation about his "no cuts to the ABC" lie the night before the election, just as he finally has to admit his failure to get the massively unpopular unfair budget passed, just as his mob is about to get right royally smashed out of office in the Victorian state election .... guess what?

By an amazing coincidence, Abbott's generals happen to suddenly break their months-long policy of military secrecy about everything to make a big announcement about dropping a lot of bombs on somebody rather nasty in Iraq. And today, by an even more amazing coincidence, Abbott pops up to make a big headline motherhood announcement about nuking some even scarier-sounding somebodies out there in cyberspace. Hey, it's got the word "security" in there, so it must be threatening and important!

Naturally, Abbott's new cyber security task force will take months to figure out what the problem is, many more months to figure out how to deal with it, and even longer to actually do anything about it, by which time that particular problem will have long since been sorted, forgotten, and replaced on the radar of working techs by three or four new and different ones, which we will deal with as and when they arise, same as always. That - clumsy and belated action to fix last year's problem - is the down-side case. The upside case, of course, is that the new committee will meet once a month for a year or two, drawing a nice fat fee meanwhile, and do absolutely nothing, same as usual.

Isn't life full of nice little surprises?

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Fake antivirus scams: It's a $120m business – and alleged ringleaders have just been frozen

Tannin

Too little too late

So a few of the scum are being prosecuted. All very well, but WTF have the authorities been doing for the last two years? FFS, this scumware has been around and widely known to anyone in the trade - certainly anyone working on the front line of support and security - for a very, very long time, and nothing whatsoever was done about it. It's good to see the scum merchants shut down, but this is IT, it is the 21st Century: we need to see action against this sort of large-scale fraud on a reasonable timescale. 18 months doesn't cut it.

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'Cleantech' a dirty word for VCs? RUBBISH!

Tannin

a couple of misconceptions

Overall, a very sensible, rational article. I won't pass comment on the details of UK administration, but those are not important to the overall thrust of the piece.

On a carbon tax, two or three misconceptions seem to be floating around.

First, it doesn't matter where you place the tax, it can be anywhere at all in the supply chain and the effect on prices, consumer behaviour, and manufacturer behaviour is the same. Economics 101. Same with any cost or any tax. (Of course, there may be practical differences of implementation: naturally, you place the tax at the point in the chain where it is easiest and most efficient to administer.)

Second, it is vital to avoid the mistake Australia made. Australia exempted imported goods, which was madness. The carbon tax became a powerful incentive to close down your local plant and import stuff from China, which at that time was a relatively high-carbon economy. Result: pain at home and less carbon abatement than there might have been. (I should note that even so, the carbon tax significantly reduced emissions in a remarkably short time. Sectors exempt from it (imports, motor fuel, agriculture) continued to increase emissions, but many other sectors improved a great deal. Since the tax was abolished they have started to get significantly worse again.)

Third, it does not matter in the slightest what you do with the money raised by the tax except insofar as we all have an interest in taxation income being used to some worthy purpose. The main benefit of the carbon tax, just like that of tobacco taxes, isn't the income the government gets from it, it is the expenditure on the part of economic actors like consumers and manufacturers. Because high-carbon goods become more expensive, consumers find ways to avoid the tax by buying cheaper, low-carbon substitutes, and manufacturers find ways to cut their costs doing things in a more efficient way. As pointed out in the article, the government does not and should not specify how manufacturers and consumers avoid paying the tax (and thus produce less carbon), the market figures that out. Markets are really, really good at doing that. It's what markets do best.

Still on the third point, once we understand that spending the funds raised by the carbon tax is largely irrelevant to its purpose, we are at liberty to do anything we like with the money. It still works just as well to reduce carbon regardless of whether we spend it on schools and hospitals, fighter jets, income tax cuts, perks for politicians, education, research, paying down debt, building wind farms, foreign aid, buying a billion tons of boiled lollies, or even just shred it and bury it in a big hole. There are individual benefits and problems with each of these possibilities, of course, and we are free to debate the merits of each one, but the key point is that these don't matter so far as the benefit of the tax is concerned. If you want to spend the tax on solar PV collectors or whichever other renewable technology you prefer, that's fine, but it will still work almost as well even if you go the boiled lolly option.

Fourth, once we understand that the tax income is fungible, we can immediately see that there is no "right" level for it. There is a minimum appropriate level, which depends on how much high-carbon activity you are aiming to take out of the economy and replace with low-carbon substitutes, and on how fast you want that transition to happen, but provided only that the total tax take as a proportion of GDP remains where you want it (at the current level, for example) there is no particular maximum appropriate carbon tax. Set it as high as you like, provided you reduce or abolish other taxes to compensate, and also provided that you don't ramp it up so fast that it disrupts the whole system. Economies can cope very well with change, especially known, expected changes, but very large, sudden changes tend to cause trouble, so phase it in over a few years, increasing a little at a time until it's where you want it.

Personally, my preference would be to start removing other taxes one by one as the carbon tax increases, starting with daft ones like (Australian) payroll tax (a tax on jobs! How dumb is that?) and working through as many of the others as possible. What is your most-hated tax? VAT? GST? Income tax? Poll tax? No reason we can't get rid of it and have a carbon tax instead.

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NBN Co screws lid on FTTP coffin

Tannin

Re: Do I feel lucky?

Fluffy Bunny writes: "won't settle for anything less than FTTP? Go into your local NBN shop and tell them you want the "real deal". Oh ... you will need to pay what it really costs, and deservedly so. Now get your filthy hands out of my pocket."

Oh please learn some basic economics before posting such silly nonsense. As eny fule kno, in the short-term proper FTTP costs very little more than low-rent FTTN - around 20% difference on the project cost as a whole. Over time, however, proper FTTP is vastly, repeat vastly cheaper, because you only have to do it once. Abbott's sleazy FTTP scheme is good only in the short-term: it has no future or growth in it. By the time construction of Abbott's Fraudband network is finished, we will already be tearing it out again to retrofit a true fibre system with the capability to serve for many, many years - the capacity a real NBN would have built in from the start. Total cost of Abbott's cheapskate scheme: vastly higher. Total benefit: substantially lower.

PS: the "true cost" you cite is bullshit. That's the punitive price they will charge you to be the only house in the street with fibre. Of course that is expensive; you are doing it for just one house with no benefit from shared infrastructure and no economies of scale in either equipment supply or design and construction cost.

NBN: do it once, do it right. Much cheaper in the long run.

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Tannin
Holmes

Do I feel lucky?

Which lucky suburbs are getting the permanent real NBN thing, and which new digital ghettos are getting the low-rent short-term-only fraudband service?

We know that the provision of other "universal" nation-wide services like education facilities and civic amenities is massively targeted at Coalition-held seats and a selection of key marginals (see for example "Coalition electorates favoured 3 to 1 in Abbott government infrastructure spend" at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/coalition-electorates-favoured-3-to-1-in-abbott-government-infrastructure-spend-20140615-zs675.html ) - what do we know (if anything) about the distribution of NBN construction, and why do we fear the worst?

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DAY ZERO, and COUNTING: EVIL 'UNICORN' all-Windows vuln - are YOU patched?

Tannin

Simple, for dummies details please

For dummies like me, what does this actually mean? In particular, what does it mean for people running unsupported, unpatched versions of Windows? Obviously, anyone running (say) IE on XP is going to be vulnerable, but nothing in the two or three El Reg articles I have seen gives any clear hint as to whether a system running (for example) current-release Firefox on XP is vulnerable or not. (XP, let us remember, still accounts for something like 25% of in-service web-connected systems.)

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GOD particle MAY NOT BE GOD particle: Scientists in shock claim

Tannin

Re: If it...

No. Sorry. Yank doesn't sound remotely like English.

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Firefox decade: Microsoft's IE humbled by a dogged upstart. Native next?

Tannin

Re: Curious

Opera is dead. The second-rate Chrome clone they push now is inferior in pretty much all respects - and not just inferior to real Opera, inferior also to the likes of Chrome and Firefox. It's a crying shame, as Opera was responsible for the great majority of the ground-breaking innovations in browser design we take for granted these days and consider routine, and Opera's UI has never been matched. (The next best, though a long way behind, is probably SeaMonkey, or non-Australis Firefox.)

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BOFH: SOOO... You want to sell us some antivirus software?

Tannin

This BOFH rant would be very funny, but it isn;t, 'coz it's very very true. Usually we laugh at the BOFH 'coz he exaggerates real life so cruelly and accurately, but this time it's pure and simple truth.

On an off-topic note, Foxit used to be good. Used to be. Now it's just another slab of marketing-riddled bloatware with a screen-robbing Sinofsky-inspired UI from Bedlam. Despite having used and recommended it for quite a while, I stopped installing it a couple of years ago and switched to one of the three or four excellent little free no-BS alternatives. (My favourite is PDFExchange but there are several others which seem pretty nice too.)

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Windows 8 or nowt: Consumer Win 7 fans are OUT OF LUCK

Tannin

Re: A year?

In the Southern Hemisphere, we have to deal with writers thoughtlessly using those weird back-to-front northern seasons all the time. It's routine to have to translate into the real seasons here down under - but rather annoying because you have to do it all the bloody time and you get a bit tired of it.

Now we have ONE instance back the other way and it's a capital crime. Time for you to HTFU, princess.

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Windows XP market share FELL OFF A CLIFF in October

Tannin

Re: Sounds like a flaw in their data collection

Thankyou Doug. 16 posts down and someone finally has the sense to spot the obvious.

(Not having a go at you here, not at all, just wondering a bit grumpily why none of the previous 15 contributors bothered to think it through and post such good sense on-topic.)

Of course, it's possible that this is just a one-time methodological glitch and the numbers will return to more typical ones next time, but my money says that it is just as you say it is - they finally found a .major problem and corrected it, carefully not telling anyone about the precious goofs.

XP nevertheless remains very common out there in the real world and there seems to be no particular reason why it won't go on doing useful work for a very long while yet. In my workshop, the pace of XP replacement work has slowed significantly over the last month or two. It's pretty rare now to get a straight XP upgrade job come in. To be sure, we are still replacing XP installs on existing hardware and replacing XP machines with new ones, but mostly now as a byproduct of some other presenting issue (such as a hardware failure or general deterioration) rather than specifically because the customer isn't happy running XP any longer. In short, the ones who haven't already switched look as though they will be running XP until the machine breaks or they can't find space for it in the nursing home.

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Swedish 'Future minister' doesn't do social media

Tannin
Coat

social media = future (not)

What sort of person thinks there is any necessary connection between social media use and taking the future seriously? The premise of this idiotic meme seems to be

(a) social media is where I waste most of my time

(b) I am young, not too bright, and have a future (probably)

(c) therefore social media = future.

If I was paying the taxes that support this minister's wages, I'd want a refund for every hour she wasted on Twitter when she is supposed to be doing useful work.

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How to hit the top of Google's rankings: 'Use a new dot-thing gTLD'

Tannin

I'm calling this one out as headline-hunting non-research. For more information, just dial Code Red on the Bullshitometer.

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Take CTRL! Shallow minds ponder the DEEP spectre of DARK CACHE

Tannin

Control-C was around and had enjoyed its original meaning for several centuries before someone - doubtless Microsoft, seeing as we blame them for everything else - hijacked it as a for-the-dummies duplicate of Control-Insert. Where were you when computing got started? Didn't you ever use CPM?

(Well, OK, probably not centuries.)

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Want to see the back of fossil fuels? Calm down, hippies. CAPITALISM has an answer

Tannin

Re: Clean energy NOW

Nuclear is not the answer. It may not even be a significant part of the answer. Why not?

No, it's not because nuclear is an evil big-capital outgrowth of the military-industrial complex. (It might be just that, there are certainly some people who think so, but for our purposes that question isn't relevant and we do not need to answer it.)

No, it's not because nuclear is horribly dangerous and produces very, very nasty waste products. (People argue that point too, again with some reason, and other people argue that it is in fact very, very safe with proper management and modern technology; they even claim that the long-term waste problem can be solved too, and provide some credible evidence to back that up. But again we don't need to decide this; again the question isn't relevant.)

No, it's not because there is a shortage in the medium to longer term of uranium ores. (There isn't. At least not enough of one to matter.)

No, it's not because widespread use of nuclear energy could and in fact does lead to proliferation of nuclear weapons in the hands of people we don't trust. (Let's face it, those people we don't like, if they have the will and the ability to make an atom bomb - which isn't something you can knock up in a handy basement over a weekend with your Acme Home Scientist kit - equally have the ability to develop and deploy any number of other only somewhat less dangerous and destructive things; so don't decide your entire future energy policy on this point either.)

It is because of one great, unanswerable, insoluble problem: money. Nuclear energy is very, very, very expensive. Why do we still use coal even though we know for certain that it's doing us and our children massive harm? Because it's cheap. That's pretty much the only reason.

In broad, we use whatever energy is the cheapest and easiest to get. In the past, that was mostly coal and oil. Today, the cost difference between fossil fuels and renewables is quite small. Take away the substantial subsidies for fossil fuel (mostly hidden away in the national accounts under other headings, different ones in different countries) and the cost difference is smaller yet. Throw in a reasonable allowance for the unpaid external costs of fossil fuels (notably carbon pollution, but there are others) and it turns out that renewables are often cheaper than new-build coal or gas plants. (That's for electricity generation; transport will take a lot longer.) Finally, add the very rapid and sustained reductions in the cost of mainstream renewable generation and storage year by year as economies of scale take effect and the technology improves, and it is - as the article says - entirely to be expected that renewables will overtake fossil fuels simply because they are cheaper.

Current expectations are that the break-even cost point for households, the price point where it makes economic sense to disconnect from the grid and be self-sufficient using rooftop solar with storage will arrive in about 5 years. (That's for warm temperate places like Australia, South Africa and the US; it might take a little longer in colder climates, and the mix of technologies will vary from place to place.) On the utility scale, similar change towards break-even is taking place. Large-scale wind installations are particularly cost-effective and have already reduced the wholesale price of electricity in many countries, and utility-scale storage is dropping in cost very fast. All the publicity goes to ever more efficient battery technology but pumped hydro storage is a real game changer - it's moderately expensive to build but that's a one-off cost: the infrastructure lasts lasts for decades, even centuries, and the running cost is practically zero. Amortised over the life of the facility, pumped hydro + wind and/or solar is already cheaper than new-build coal. It's not yet cheaper than existing coal using legacy plant which was built and paid for years ago, but that's just a matter of time. (Of course, people holding large investments in coal mines and thermal generation facilities are trying desperately hard to delay the end, and doing everything they can to hold back the tide of new, clean technology, but they can't and won't succeed.

But where is nuclear in all this?

Basically nowhere. It costs too much. way too much. No-one is building nuclear plants anymore unless they can wangle a huge subsidy or permission to massively over-charge consumers, or both. (The latest trick to get new-build nuclear plant up seems to be to trick a government into agreeing to pay you for all the power you could produce if anyone wanted to buy it even if you don't actually produce it at all. The technical term for this sort of gun-to-head contract is "scam". Don't fall for it.

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This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...

Tannin

I like the way you think, not-Spartacus. :) Like you, I split tasks between mobile devices, albeit with a differently placed dividing line. My laptop does the bulk of the heavy lifting (yes a full-size laptop with 2 1TB hard drives and enough grunt to more-or-less replace a desktop); the phone just does phone calls and the odd SMS. Oddly enough, it's not so much the size and weight of the laptop that cuts into the ideal of use-anywhere, use-anytime, it's the mucking about you need to do with unfolding it and finding something like a table to rest it on and adding the essential accessories - real pointing device 'coz I hate those horrible touchpad thingies; broadband dongle on a longish cable 'coz the outback places I go often have marginal reception and built-in often doesn't cut the mustard. A tablet would make much more sense for travelling, but I'm not interested in anything that doesn't have the essentials of a proper keyboard and lots of storage .... and there we are, straight back into laptop land! Maybe I'll look at these new very large phones that are almost tablets; that might work for me. Or maybe I'll just carry on as usual until the ancient dumbphone self-destructs in half a decade or so.

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Tannin

Sneer all you like, but the more I learn about the current trends in smart phones, the happier I am with my ancient dumb phone. (No not a feature phone, a proper dumb phone. No apps, no games, no spyware, no problems. Oh, and the battery lasts a week between charges.)

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Intel says NO MORE BLOOD PENTIUMS by 2016

Tannin

Yes, they still have a line known as the "Pentium G". Essentially, the Intel chip naming system goes like this:

i7

i5

i3

Pentium G

Celeron

(I'm ignoring the bigger iron, just the consumer chips.)

Curiously enough, AMD have done exactly the same with their low-end chips. No-one outside of AMD marketing department can remember what their 57 different mainstream chips are called now, but their cheapest and slowest CPUs are now called "Athlon" and "Sempron". I built a very cheap low power system using an "Athlon 5150" the other day. Perfectly capable of doing the simple task it needs to do, but obviously sluggish. It's actually a part designed to power phones and tablets stuck into a standard ATX form motherboard and called 'Athlon". God only knows how slow the even cheaper "Sempron" part is! Damn shame, actually - "Athlon" is a glorious name and shouldn't be sullied by this slug. Why they choose to use the no-one-ever-heard-of-it "Sempron" (in its original incarnation a lack-lustre part which gained little market recognition) instead of the warmly-remembered "Duron" (a wonderful series of cheap, fast, reliable chips which earned a very good name with the buying public) I have no idea. Perhaps the old rumour that "Duron" unexpectedly turned out to be the Spanish word for "contraceptive" has some truth in it.

Meanwhile, the Intel (current version) Celeron and especially the Pentium G parts are remarkably good performers with dual cores and more than enough oomph to use in non-CPU-intensive roles. Cash registers and POS systems, light-duty secretarial and office work, your Granny's email and Skype, these are all good uses for a Pentium G. (For that matter, my own file server has a Pentium G. It has four 4TB hard drives storing archived data and spends most of the day doing nothing at all. When I do ask it to do stuff, it's fine. I could take an i5 or an i7 home from work and upgrade it in five minutes or so, it's the same motherboard and socket - but why?)

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Google flushes out users of old browsers by serving up CLUNKY, AGED version of search

Tannin

Re: What pleb uses Opera 12 still?

Please learn a little about the subject before posting nonsense.

1: "Opera 24" isn't Opera, it's just a buggified version of Chrome with different wallpaper.

2: The "performance improvements" (if any) delivered by the third-rate Chrome clone now masquerading as Opera are next to useless because the UI is so bad. This is not just a matter of taste or preference, many of the basic Opera functions are missing or broken or just horribly wrong. Chromepera doesn't even have a functional bookmark system. (Possibly that particular shocker is finally fixed now, I haven't checked the last couple of releases Certainly in numerous major releases of Chromepera it wasn't just broken it was completely missing. No bookmarks at all! Err ... what is this, 1987 again?)

2b: In any case, under heavy workloads Opera 12.x easily outperforms both IE and Firefox. (Under light loads, of course, performance doesn't matter 'coz any browser copes just fine.) Unlike IE and Firefox, Opera 12.x stands up robustly to very large numbers of open windows and tabs; the system remains responsive and Opera 12.x keeps running happily long beyond the point where Firefox curls up into a little ball and cries itself to death. (IE has long since given up at the Firefox death point, of course, though the later versions are at least much improved. I can't really comment on Chrome's ability to deal with high page counts - the Chome tab-management UI becomes dysfunctional quite early on, so it's doubtful anyone ever goes there with it.)

Presto is indeed obsolete; nevertheless it works just fine with with the vast majority of sites and in Opera 12.x form provides a level of functionality and user control far beyond that provided by any alternative. In particular, the ability to set per-site Javascript blocking with a couple of clicks and per-site CSS overrides almost as easily is unique.

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Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies

Tannin

Re: Will somebody please think of the Elderly

Michael, Pale Moon pretty much works just like Firefox. Real Firefox, I mean, not this psudo-Chrome Australis thing. Just install it and use it; it works the way you expect it to work. The hardest thing to get used to is that the icon is a different colour.

The guy responsible for Pale Moon has expressed a very clear intention to retain the current UI. The only thing likely to derail that is the possibility that the Sinofsky-clone Australis zealots at Mozilla.org will figure out a way to cripple the underlying codebase in future versions such that the UI can no longer be fixed without an unreasonable amount of effort and lots of difficult-to-maintain third-party code. So far, that isn't a problem. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Tannin
FAIL

Dumb and dumber

Horrible idea. First Australis, now this. If Microsoft really need some talented new people to comprehensively bork the next generation of Office and Windows products (now that MS no longer has the moronic design "skills" of Sinofsky on hand), the fruitcakes in charge of Firefox are very well-qualified.

Meanwhile, the elephant in the room is Firefox's existing tiles page, which was brain-dead at birth and hasn't improved so that anyone would notice.

(1) You can't set it to be your start page, which is pretty much the whole point in the first place. (OK, OK, there is doubtless some obscure extension or an about:config hack. The point stands.)

(2) It isn't under direct user control like a proper tiles page. Firefox sticks stuff on it without your permission and moves stuff around when you don't want it to, and can't even figure out that it shouldn't spam the page with multiple instances of the same site.

(3) It breaks the back button. try it: click on a tile, decide that you don't want that one and click "back" to return to the tiles page and go somewhere else, it doesn't work.Sorry, that's just brain-dead.

The really stupid part is that they didn't even need to think hard and invent something to get it right, they could have simply copied the original (and by far the best) speed dial / tiles page design, which was invented by Opera years ago and was part of that browser right up until Opera was replaced by a third-rate Chrome clone and everybody stopped using it.

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Carbon tetrachloride releases still too high, says NASA

Tannin

Re: hooray for carbon capture

You could try reading the article. If you did, you would discover that the worldwide release of ozone-depleting chemicals is way, way down on historical levels, and that this particular one (amongst many) is also well down, but not as far down as hoped and expected, hence the mystery.

You might also be interested to learn that the atmosphere scientists got it dead right: there was a hole in the ozone layer, it did (and still does) cause significant harm to (among other things) human health because of massively increased skin cancer rates - this is very serious business in the southern hemisphere and it would be vastly more serious if it wasn't for the huge public health campaigns which have led to a profound change in the way we expose ourselves to UV. 50 years ago, practically no-one wore a hat on the beach, sunblock cream was largely only used by girls and even them not much (everybody used to go dark brown all over every summer), and no outdoor worksite would have dreamed of treating sunblock cream and protective clothing as essential health and safety equipment to be issued to everyone as routin.

Thankfully, the cooperative worldwide controls on ozone-depleting chemicals have been largely successful and we are starting to see the ozone layer gradually recover.

You can read more at http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone/ozone-science/ozone-layer

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eBay bans CD sales of metal band Burzum, citing offensive material

Tannin

The next Hitler is alive and well and pretending to be Prime Minister of Australia.

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Gmail gains support for non-ASCII email addresses

Tannin

Re: More work

Sigh. The first of a series of well-meant but ill-informed replies, and some very dumb down-votes. I don't mind an honest down-vote when I'm wrong, or juist when someone disagrees, but these are daft. The arrogance of some people is extraordinary in missing two obvious and vital points.

(1) The post you downvoted and/or criticised was expressing a willingness to comply with these new requirements, and indeed support for them. Read the post before replying, huh? Or is that too hard?

(2) Some developers and publishers know who their their target audience is and know who visits their sites. For example, of the 20-odd sites I do the code for, I can think of one - just one - where I can even imagine a non-English speaking person wanting to participate, and even there it's marginally useful 'coz all else aside, the query would have to be written in the native language of the staff member responding to it - i.e., English. (Who could read it otherwise?) But (sigh) I'll doubtless code up the changes for it anyway, though not as any sort of priority, and might as well port that new code to the other sites too.

Out in the real world, vast numbers of Internet sites and Internet-present organisations are locally based, concerned with local people and local issues, and are neither interested in nor interesting to people outside a small geographical area. It is a crazy arrogance to claim that you know how to do someone's job better than they do when you don't even know what that job is - but sadly, far too common a thing in Geekville.It is, in fact, exactly the same ignorant arrogance you think you are complaining about only in reverse. It is just as daft to insist on adding useless cross-language features and complexity to a product which will only ever be used with one single language in one single place with one single character set as it is to refuse to add those features to a multi-country product which will be used by many different people with many different languages and character sets.

</rant>

PS: sorry about the rant, but those posts were so dumb they got right up my nose.

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Tannin
Facepalm

More work

Good idea, at least in theory. But now I'm going to have to re-code a whole stack of web stuff 'coz sooner or later some bugger will start using an "illegal" email address that is not illegal anymore and it will be rejected by my code. Revision and patch time.

More work.

Sigh.

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