2734 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
Re: British Military?
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today."
There certainly was, and with our shells. But a tactical defeat became a strategic victory, which was crucial in throttling Germany's economy and ending WW1. I'm rather proud that a relative of mine was a stoker on the Grand Fleet. 'course, that was in the days when our Navy actually had more than a pitiful number of ships. These days if we did something like the Zeebrugge raid we'd find we had no Navy left.
Re: Eastenders - the Game.
"But I thought that extreme and violent porn was illegal?"
I think for it to be illegal it has to be for the sexual gratification of the accused. So, according to the CPS own guidelines, if the scene is in a film subject to BBFC classifcation, then it allowed. However, "The exclusion does not apply in respect of images contained within extracts from classified films which must reasonably be assumed to have been extracted solely or principally for the purposes of sexual arousal. "
So you see, the ugly harridans behind this law are happy so long as it is not enjoyed, but enjoying it makes it a crime. More of the sort of shit headed law making that this country has been subject to for many decades now.
Re: War games.....
"excuse me? we've only bashed germans a couple of times in the last hundred years. up until then we've been on pretty good terms with them."
I think we have the opportunity to do both. Our modern culture involves bashing the Krauts, and the culture in our DNA over thousands of years involves bashing the Frogs. Both are vibrant, living trends, readily exemplified in recent British art - for example Flushed Away was suitably Franco-phobic, and Chicken Run equally respectful to our German friends, yet doing so masterfully, without a single German accent.
"fairly weighty pieces of metal being reciprocated at anything up to 9000 times a minute"
Up to 18,000 times a minute: A piston has both an up and a down stroke for each revolution of the crankshaft.
Re: and ?
"unless there are any teeth to WTO rulings"
Don't knock them! The WTO rulings can be ignored, but they in effect permit retaliation by other countries, which usually impose duties on imports from the transgressor.
China is a major importer and exporter of both commodities and finished products. So WTO rulings are important because its economy is dependent upon exports of stuff including furniture and kids toys. A WTO ruling permits other countries to exercise measures against China, and adding a 15% levy to any single category of imports could be a fairly heavy hit - for example the US imports $20bn of shoes a year from China. The US also runs a $300bn trade deficit with China - it has less to lose than the Chinese do, and if the Chinese tried to escalate they lose more than the Americans. Moreover, a serious trade dispute makes other countries look better bets, and once production moves out of China is won't come back (which could be good, for places like Thailand and Indonesia).
"they don't extract a load and then only sell the majority of it to their own countries while limiting the supply to the rest of us"
It is near enough the same thing. They do restrict exports, under the guise of limiting production. OPEC sets "production" quotas but these cannot be enforced, so domestic demand in the key producer states is served by unrestrained, untaxed, and indeed often subsidised oil. As a result per capita domestic use is incredibly high, and where they have domestic oil consuming export industries (not that many and mainly petro-chemical) these are hugely advantaged. The production limits merely hit exports, but so long as that keeps prices high it balances the huge public spending programmes that would otherwise bankrupt these countries.
So the outcome is similar enough, and it is deliberately anti-competitive. But what sanctions can you impose on a group of countries who have their hands on the swing production assets in world energy? There's too many to fight (and that policy hasn't worked out so well anyway), and starting a trade war through WTO requires you to throttle their food imports. The US might persuade its farmers not to export food to Saudi in return for more subsidies, but Is (eg) Brazil going to restrict food exports to Saudi to keep Americans driving gas guzzlers? I think not. Then you've pissed OPEC off and achieved nothing.
Aussies under the boot!
If you look at the access requests per million population, then it's interesting that the Aussies have a figure (for 2H13 data) of 34.3, compared to 33.7 for the Yanks, 22.1 for the Brits, and 1.5 for the Canucks.
Whilst I'm unhappy about the extent, nature of any government spying on its own citizens, and the lack of proper oversight, even 35 requests per million isn't exactly pervasive snooping. Arguably that's because they've already snooped and stored everything, but the subject access requests are pretty minor in volume.
So, Canuck commentards, is it that you're all hardworking and law abiding, or that your authorities simply haven't worked out what the internet is?
Aussie commentards, you're all guilty, care to tell the rest of us what you're guilty of?
Brits commentards, the other man's grass is not always greener.
Yanks, have another burger.
Re: Apple DON'T repair your iThing
"There's a problem with Apple making their stuff easy to assemble (thus usually hard to disassemble)."
It isn't a natural follow through, and I'm not sure it is a problem. I was able to replace a cracked screen on a Nexus 7 myself, with no prior experience and very little skill in handling delicate things. What that tells me is that if Asus can make things inexpensive to assemble, yet still in a manner that permits serviceability, then Apple could. They choose not to, and whilst that puts me off, it is a commercial decision that they are entitled to take.
I don't like any of Apple's "toaster" model of technology, involving walled gardens, casting jailbroken devices into the wilderness, near impossible to service hardware, unexpandable storage, non-replaceable batteries. But that's why I buy selected Android devices. Apple users buy into the toaster model, and as far as I can see most of them are actually very happy with that, and with the higher cost that this business model involves.
"So, as you read this, the rocket ship is aboard a vessel somewhere between Bilbao and Portsmouth, ploughing inexorably forwards towards......"
a meeting with the busybodies of customs, immigration, "anti-terrorist" police, the bomb squad, all of whom will ask you difficult questions about whether you have a licence for this, whether you realise that even thinking about rockets is illegal under some dubious interpretation of a poorly drafted law rushed though in 2001, whether your dad was ever in Al Quaeda, and such like.
And as the courts have proven, it's quite OK for armed plod to shoot anybody they want, any time, for no good reason at all, and to walk away scot free. Or to taser you, even if you're blind, mentally ill, or under the age of criminal responsibility.
So good luck, gents, but look out for the welcoming committee, all of whom are there to "keep us safe".
Re: Fitness Fad
"Or are such features akin to gyms offering cheap deals in January for 12-month memberships, knowing it makes them money but will never be used?"
Broadly speaking yes. A committee will have sat down and been bored through a Powerpoint presentation on many global meta-trends, one or two of which will be "ageing fat white people", albeit under a hip and reasonably polite scenario name, like "Silver sloths".
Since interfering halfwit politicians will try and interfere if makers really offered what this market wanted, it probably isn't acceptable to offer discount deals with McDonalds (1) nor to offer free Alzheimer's Help Apps (2). And in marketing terms you might find too many in the target market believe themselves to be lithe fitness-freaks-in-waiting, and therefore to be put off by the straplines suggested below. The next best thing is therefore to appeal to lost youth and fitness, and the human inclination to put off till tomorrow what could be done today, foolishly believing that the same thinking will not apply tomorrow. Hence dubiously reliable blood pressure monitoring, fitness apps and training schedules.
1) "20% off when you supersize your meal and pay using Samsung NFC, and auto delete any salad options!"
2) "Press the big button in the middle of the screen (marked "press me") to be reminded who you are, where you live, and what medication you forgot to take today!"
Re: Could be interesting
" If I'm not mistaken the last event saw the winning cluster around 8.5 TFLOPS."
Still jerky playing the latest version of Far Cry, I'd guess.
Re: Team Size
"But it is equally important to say that such a recipe does not guarentee success. "
But it can guarantee that any failure will come quicker, and that's important, both to learn from, and because it keeps the cost of failure down.
Re: @David W.
"but drowning an article in snarky jibes about fruit is infantile, not informative."
I'm afraid you're reading the wrong website then. There's plenty of other websites if you don't like this one.
Re: Band wagon
Of course they will. The underlying economics of captive offshoring (where the company employ people in far flung places directly) are always poor. Lack of familiarity means costs of setup are high, operational costs always turn out to be higher, invariably because the original idea naievely assumed that a well trained, experienced first-worlder could be replaced by a poorly trained and educated bloke paid peanuts and still see the same volume throughput. Moreover companies always, always overlook the fact that their very presence drives up wages and encourages more companies to setup in the same locality, making the economics deteriorate fairly quickly, as well as causing high staff turnover. End result, cost and quality failures, and they have to bring the work back (rare) or outsource to a trade BPO company (common).
Now we come to the underlying economics of offshore outsourcing. In this case, why will a company with high margins and high business acquisition costs, and lots of FX exposure be cheaper than you at managing what is usually a relative low unit cost transactional process? Answer, they won't, in fact their operating cost including overheads is usually about the same as the customer's first world process costs. But to land the business they need to undercut the customer costs by a promised 20-30% in year one, and that makes a loss. As a result they need to recoup that loss, their acquisition costs, continuing costs, plus margin. By year 4 the costs to the customer are well above the costs of doing the job onshore themselves, but hopefully the corporate memory has long forgotten the balance of cost and quality of doing the job for themselves locally. In reality the customer is unhappy, but just believes the same lies from new mouths, and churns to a new BPO provider, suffers the same "rinse and repeat" pain.
However, for the BPO companies, they are still affected by staff turnover and wage inflation, and they'd rather shove the work deeper into the jungle than see margins suffer. They are the sort of people Gartner are talking to, and they have plenty of experience of shifting processes. OK so the quality suffers, but that doesn't affect the BPO company, and that's why places like Vietnam are worth investigating. By 2022 Vietnam will be struggling to compete, and Gartner will be exhorting companies to outsource to Yemen, Belarus, Afghanistan and similar nice places.
Returning a laptop to PC World ruined this bloke's credit score. Today the Supreme Court ended his 15-year nightmare
Re: HFC@ dogged
"The Free Clothing Association?"
Might as well be.
Re: At least the plaintiff is relatively young.
"How many similarly situated elders have jumped the mortal coil before justice was rendered?"
The financial services industry can even craft a product for that situation: HSBC group was fined about £40m for flogging unsuitable products to older investors. This included advising elderly customers (average age of 83), to buy investment bonds to pay for their long-term care, even though the five-year investment period for the bonds was often longer than the customer's life expectancy.
And this shows why the solution of "fining" the banks doesn't work. It's only investors money, there's no pain. The proper remedy should have been for those who did the mis-selling, those who devised the product, and their managers (up to and including the board) to have had each of their fingers bent back until the fingernail touched the wrist.
"It just highlights the total lack of what we used to call "probity". A word that seems to be destined for the dustbin of history."
Probity and such concepts were always a myth in any area of financial services. I'm no spring chicken, but I can't remember a time when the financial services industry weren't mis-selling something or behaving in an immoral manner.
It's taken me a whole two minutes to think of the following list that covers the past thirty years or so of financial services industry crookedness: Personal pensions, endowment mortgages, split capital trusts, precipice bonds, "tied" investment advice, OEIC investment funds, Collateralised debt obligations, "tied " annuities, PPI, interest rate swaps, credit and identity protection insurance, payday loans, SIPP pension plans. And that ignores wanton lending, that is perhaps the all time and ongoing mis-sale of the financial services industry, and the one that ultimately caused the current global financial mess. Arguably the invariably high rates on point of sale finance make that a product that was always mis-sold, but that's an area which the regulators have happily turned a blind eye to since time began.
Every time it takes about a decade from the practice becoming mainstream to the industry being forced to pay compensation, and by that time there's already one further mis-selling scandal maturing, and a new scheme being hatched that will go on to be mis-sold.
The FSA was useless, it's predecessors were useless, and I'll wager that the FCA will be useless. When it comes to financial services, consumers should (sadly) expect that anything they want to sell you is not in your best interests. In fact they should add that simple lesson to the national curriculum.
Meanwhile, rather than bend the financial services industry over and put a rough stick wrapped in barbed wire up its back passage, the government have decided that the energy market needs a thorough competition and markets authority investigation. I wonder what the banks are mis-selling today, and I wonder what new products they are developing to mis-sell tomorrow?
"Two wrongs make a... Something."
A right, always, always a right. But five exclamation marks are more of a challenge, because it's not clear whether we have an even or odd number of wrongs, nor how you apply BODMAS in this scenario. If we say that one exclamation mark is allowable, that's four Wrongs. If we do that as two groups each of two Wrongs, then after resolving the groups, we have two Rights, possibly with an additional Right for the single permissible exclamation mark.
So we've either got two Rights, or three Rights, and we know that they collectively make a Wrong. If both are true then 2R = W and 3R = W, which either makes W infinite or indeterminate, or means that R is a self deprecating value, such that the more R you have, so the individual value declines to keep the meta-value of all R constant.
This then implies that it is also true that R = W, meaning that Right is Wrong, and conversely Wrong is Right. I can't see the ICC over at the Hague liking the outcome of the universal truth revealed by mathematics.
"The lack of punctuation in that paragraph makes my eyes bleed!!!!!"
And multiple exclamation marks restore the balance of the universe, do they?
Re: Trade not aid@ The Axe
"We need to trade with third world countries and take advantage of their cheap labour."
Only for a limited range of goods. Taking advantage of cheap labour hasn't really worked well for all those manufacturing workers in Europe who have seen their jobs transferred to cheap parts of the world, has it? Or for the IT and admin guys who have seen their jobs offshored to India. And maybe it explains why most European economies have unaffordable welfare costs, and 50%+ youth unemployment across southern Europe?
Free trade and wage arbitrage only works if the importing country has useful activity for the displaced workforce (or suffers from labour shortages and wage inflation), and clearly we don't. Virtually unfettered trade has been a boon to securely employed Westerners who want a cheap iPad, but anybody who doesn't count their job as secure might want to question the expansion of free trade to exploit cheap labour.
Historically we could expand trade, and then periodically use wars to reset flagging economies and reduce unemployment; With the automation, remoteness and smaller scale of modern wars we can't even count on the second horseman to purge a depressed economy. Maybe we should take the opportunity in Crimea to kick of a pan-Europe pagga, although personally I'm a traditionalist, and prefer "everybody versus the Germans" to "everybody versus the Ruskies".
"I get on average 8% no signal in the south West.......Can't wait for my contract to run out so I can get rid of Vodafone."
I jumped ship recently from Voda to O2 purely on cost. Unfortunately fast and reliable O2 data connections are far more sparse on O2 than Vodafone when out and about, across a wide slice of the West Midlands and all the way down to London, and O2 text performance is dreadful, with texts routinely turning up days late. I'll be looking to move back to Vodafone when my contract's up with O2.
O2 also alienated me by increasing prices within a few weeks of signing a contract, base don RPI for eleven months prior to my contract. Regardless of the O2 offer I shan't be renewing with them.
Re: Where's the LiveSkin™?
" and keep me clean and non-smelly..."
Where's the fun in that? Sounds like those de-odourising underpants, 4K tellies, and other technological solutions invented by the clever-but-misguided, and now searching for a problem.
"Airlines could advertise the fact that they're carried to boost passenger confidence."
You reckon? "If your plane is lost mysteriously at sea, we'll probably find your body" lacks something as a marketing strapline in my book.
Re: French non-image is different
"I think it would be better if the countries with spy satellites taking pictures of that area, would just dump them somewhere public"
Be realistic. Nobody will be showing the opposition the finest resolution images they can do, because that becomes actionable intelligence. That's despite the fact that all the major powers operate satellites, know the physics, and can work out what the resolution would be of their opponents kit.
Crowd sourcing to the untrained is unlikely to be quick or effective, and the real problem is not the false positives (although such an approach would have many) but the risk of inexpert viewers missing stuff. I'd suggest that computerised scanning of images for anomalous shapes and colours would be the way to handle raw satellite data, and I'd be surprised if somebody somewhere wasn't doing that already.
"consumption is not an end of itself and resources are not limitless?"
But it was always thus. Nobody in the real world (ie excluding millionaires) consumes for itself, they consume because newer products offer more than the existing equipment, or because the old stuff has worn out. The problem for TV's, mobile phones, computers is that the speed of useful end product innovation and improvement has slowed down, and the reasons to "upgrade" are becoming less compelling. And having had significant waves of innovation-driven upgrading, the demand side is stuffed with newish kit, creating a lull in "wear out" renewals.
If the TV makers came up with a compelling reason to spend £500 on a new set, people would buy it. Over older, smaller CRT tubes, a nice big flat screen was a no brainer, offering a far better experience, and well timed for the DTTV changeover. But 4K is currently too expensive and has little content., and arguably doesn't offer enough difference in quality on living room sized sets. 3D has been and gone as a technology that didn't offer a good enough experience to make it worthwhile, and IMHO Blu-ray will eventually do the same. Smart TV's still await a really good implementation, and the opportunity to sell sets on their smart capabilities has probably been supplanted, because whilst the makers messed around the market moved on, so that for casual browsing and emailing the solution is tablets.
Resources may not be limitless, but that's not stopping anybody upgrading (more like how many 42" screens do you need?), either the lack of need, or the cost, which reflects manufacturing technology and ability to pay as much or more than resources.
"3 has been very much the outsider"
You could be wrong, but I suspect not: I can remember Orange's glory days when they were owned by Hutchison, and they were innovative and interesting. As soon as Orange were sold to Frog Telecom it was all downhill and the merger with T-Mobile has only made things worse, combing the sloth, greed and incompetence of the two largest national telecoms incumbents in Europe. Indeed, for EE customers, it really couldn't get worse (unless the cash strapped European owners sold a stake to BT).
Re: this sounds like a deal
"because let's face it - any technology related item basically get's the $ sign changed to a £ when it launches here with no actual currency conversion taking place"
Whilst that's generally how it works, there's some exceptions. Take CoPilot for Android. $7 for the premium US edition. UK and Ireland premium edition is £20.
Which is a pity, I'd buy CoPilot at the drop of hat, but for that single fact that the thieves are trying to ream me out.
Re: Erm... really?
"Was there any breakdown as to how much of that was Gift Aid matching?"
None. Gift aid is specifically included in the voluntary income side of things, and at a quick glance I don't see that they break down the Grant Aid versus actual donated sums. If we guess that 30% of voluntary income was gift aided, then we're talking about £30m of gift aid coming from the taxman. That wasn't included in my government funding figure, although I personally still see that as government spending because it was paid in tax, and is subsequently directed by the state into the hands of a charity.
I should also point out that the £160m of government funding wasn't just or directly the UK government because it includes other governments, multilateral agencies (all ultimately tax payer funded), Oxfam associate charities with no visibility on their funding. And it doesn't include an £11m contribution from DFID for "partnership programme arrangements". In the round about £160m seems a sufficiently accurate ball park figure for the money that one way or another Oxfam doesn't get from private or commercial donors.
Re: Erm... really?
"Why do they need a position on Global Warming? Or Social Justice?"
Because where they used to be privately funded to do things that didn't involve government, Oxfam (and a number of other large charities) are now ghastly, incestuous NGO's, busy lobbying and "advising" government, AND funded by the government through the departments they are lobbying to change the policies of.
So in 2013, guess what proportion of Oxfam income came from government? I'll tell you: 41%, amounting to £159.8m. Politicians (including the current government) and civil servants are still drunk on the levels of endless debt fuelled public spending and waste that Gordon Brown masterminded, and they really think that giving £160m of taxpayer's money to Oxfam is "austerity". I've had a look at a couple of other large charities, and the same is true for them.
Strange how on so many issues government won't listen to the voters, yet are only too happy to listen to the people they are giving taxpayers money to by the bucket load.
"If it uncovered these serious issues before purchase why did it spend $11bn on them?"
You inserted the word "serious" into that - the canned HP quote merely talked about irregularities. I'm sure they've previously claimed that the accusations were serious, but the more that HP squeeze out of their corporate sphincter, the more it looks to me that the irregularities weren't serious at the corporate scale.
In the world of software sales, there's all manner of technical accounting problems about how you recognise the value software licences that have a duration, how you handle service contracts revenues, how you value bundled hardware and software etc. I won't bore people with example problems, but there are no right answers, merely a range of judgement calls, where the business hopes its auditors and the taxman will accept its view of the way that is books sales. In my experience, all computing businesses sale close to the wind on accounting, looking to maximise sales revenue, because if you're a software business your investors don't value profits or safe accounting, all they want is growth - and then more growth. That's why actual accounting fraud and mistatement of results are so common amongst IT companies.
When the dust has settled, I guess that there will be a few token accounting errors proven in Autonomy's numbers, that these were not particularly material in the grand scheme of things, that Autonomy's audited accounts weren't too far off the mark, and that the big problem was HP's corporate incompetence that compelled them to pay a ludicrous sum of money without even understanding the business they were buying. However, if that's the case, and there is nothing revealed that world + dog have not already surmised, then you have to ask why HP's histrionic outburst? A cynic might suggest this is simply a smokescreen to divert attention from the fact that Mystic Meg and her gormless board cronies all rubber stamped this deal. By throwing this at the SFO and the lawyers, she's booted the whole issue into the long grass. It took the SFO seven years to bring criminal cases against the directors of Torex Retail after it collapsed due to blatantly fraudulent accounting in 2006: Who thinks that Meg will still be in the hot seat in 2021? But in the meanwhile she's asbestos against investors wanting to sack her and the other career goons on HP's board.
"saving themselves £40m per year in fraud"
I've found one of the most reliable ways of detecting forged pound coins is to put them in machines - the ones that aren't accepted are almost always forged, although you wouldn't notice on casual handling. And if the machine gives change for notes, the chances are that any forgeries good enough to pass the machine will be paid out as change.
I don't believe it costs the BPA anything like £40m a year. If it'll pass for real in your hand, and if the machine test indicates it is real, what are the chances they won't be able to bank it?
Re: Coin recognition
"I think the figure of £500 to update each parking meter is vastly over-inflated. Given economies of scale, and the labour costs involved in physically updating machines, it's probably closer to £5, if that."
Hold on, in the world of PFI and outsourcing there's always two costs - the activity based costing that is the costs incurred by the party that does the deed, and a separate, totally unrelated cost, that is the invoice value to the customer. That cost is what they will record on their accounts payable ledger, and is driven by simply the highest value the supplier can persuade or force the customer to pay.
Are you arguing that the entropic forces that keep those two costs in separate universes can be overcome, and that the parking meter owners might actually pay something like true activity based cost plus 30% gross margin? If you are, then you're barking.
What will happen is that councils etc will pony up because they've no choice (other than to rip out parking meters and pay machines), but then they'll use that as an excuse for a vastly above inflation increase in parking charges. And as night follows day, they'll continue wringing their hands complaining that nobody visits their crappy town centre any more, and its all the fault of the out of town supermarkets.
Re: Place your bets
"10/1 it is a nuclear armed Islamic country with a reputation for hosting terrorist training camps in ungovernable badlands, a widespread fundamentalist insurgency , strong cultural and economic links to one of the big five, and a local intelligence community who are as likely working for the opposition as the home team."
Re: 3 per cent?
" 3 per cent? That sounds like a lot."
Depends where you are - I've seen quite a few poor quality forgeries, and quite a few that I couldn't tell weren't but looked "different" to all the other pound coins in my pocket. Luckily the criteria for judging authenticity in the shop is basically size and weight, so it's an open door for forgers.
Having said that, I'm most disappointed with the pound coin forgers - there's so many different designs on pound coins there's a fantastic opportunity to get their own design into circulation, with a latin edge logo something like "less dishonest than bankers".
Re: Hijacking foiled scenario?
"4. Terrorist turns off all comms that they know about.
5. Co-pilot alters course without alerting terrorist."
Possible, but if the terrorist knows enough about the systems to turn them off, then logically he'd be sufficiently savvy to monitor what the co-pilot is doing. Moreover, he can't rely on a coerced pilot to carry out a terror attack, so he would need to know how to fly the plane himself, and the co-pilot is surplus baggage the moment he has finished talking to Malaysian ATC. In this scenario the only reason for not incapacitating the co-pilot is so there's no change of voice to alert the ATC who have communicated with the flight outbound from KL, but then you'd expect the terrorist to take over the flying and communication with Vietnamese and subsequent ATC. So long as he communicates according to known protocols then there's nothing to alert them until the airline goes off course.
Re: So where were the committee...
"And why didn't they make more of an issue of it at that point?"
Select comittee's are parliamentary, not governmental, and often chairman'd by the opposition, so they wouldn't necessarily be consulted on the specifics of government decision making. They exist primarily to offer a (nominally) cross part group of interested MP's to hold government to account (albeit with no teeth). Because they aren't "insiders" to the decision making, as often as not they are commenting after the event.
As far as can be seen Francis Maude (who often gets a bad press) lobbied for the PAF not to be sold, and Michael Fallon lobbied successfully to ensuring that it was, so I'd blame Fallon. Purely coincidental that he used to be a director of a City brokerage.
"Like Labour hasn't cocked things up?"
Of course they have. But "the other boys are worse" isn't an excuse in my book.
"Why should Royal Mail have been deprived of one of its assets..."
Hold on, berk. Until last year we used to own the Royal Mail. The uses that the PAF has been put to, as even the select comittee have noticed now make the PAF a piece of national, critical infrastructure. And one that I've already paid to have constructed. So on the grounds that I've already paid for it, and everybody needs it, I see no reason why the chumocracy should flog it off for near enough peanuts.
And if you think that Royal Mail should keep this historic defintion of what is "theirs", how about they keep "their" pension deficit, rather than I have to fund it?
"So that's a price hike, then?"
Yes, of course it is. IIRC from press reports at the time, Cameron was specifically advised not to include the PAF in the sale, and specifically and personally decided to include it. Like every decision the shiney faced Etonian twerp makes, absolutely at odds with the best interests of the country, and common sense.
Presumably all his City chums were telling him what a hoot it would be to sell off an asset used by every satnav, every delivery firm, every utility, every council etc. This of course is just the start - in due course we can expect a foreign company to buy out Royal Mail, and then they'll sell the PAF to a private equity firm who will give the whole bundle a good squeeze.
Re: Not just Apple and Google
"b) technically they are legally too young to use them (although they are prepay cards, I believe they are still covered under the Consumer Credit restrictions - IANAL);"
There's a small number of prepay Visa compatible cards available. As they aren't credit cards there's no CCA issues, and you can get them for 13+ kids (my son has one of these), but they work fine for both on line and in-store chip and pin purchases.
There's a company called GoHenry that offers this for eight year olds, with (claimed) transaction type restrictions and parental controls, but not something I've experience of.
...somebody's making some money out of the whole Winpho debacle.
Actually, I don't mind what she writes on 'em, but I suppose the regular forum demand of "piccies or it didn't happen" will be seen as dissolute and 1970's sexist.
"Perhaps the smelly portaloos at festivals are a thing of the past."
Ignoring the practical problems of lack of sun and the high volume of deposits, I would guess that during the "bake off" the aroma could be even worse than cr@pping in a bucket of chemicals, since the heat will drive off all the aromatics and volatile components.
Re: Sounds a good idea...
"and one that is waisted (ahem) by just flushing away."
Maybe in your part of the world. In the UK raw sewage is settled into sludge and liqors, the liqors are treated to biological oxidation, further cleaned and the water returned to the watercourse, and the sludge is subjected to anerobic digestion (often with methane recovery for CHP uses). Most (about 75%) of digested sludges are used a farming fertiliser and soil conditioner.
There's a few areas that don't do this (eg because of heavy metal contamination of the sludges from industrial processes) but these are getting fewer and fewer as standards improve (and as China takes on the dirty work), and there's a few areas where its uneconomic to transport the solids to suitable agricultural or land reclamation sites.
Re: Sysadmins - the new buggy whip manufacturers
"The point of the article was that the skills required to build the infrastructure are being sucked up by big tech and no-one outside that area is bothering to learn."
But why should they? I'd accept that there's many situations, even the majority, where private infrastructure is cheaper and more controlled than cloud. But I can save money and have more control by doing lots of jobs that (in both business and personal contexts) I choose to outsource. Sometimes the quality of the outsourced work is poorer than a DIY approach would offer, so I tolerate higher cost, lower control, and worse quality, because the outsourced activity is something I simply don't want to do myself. At a personal level I choose to pay somebody else to maintain my car, my lawn, and do my ironing. In a business context we outsource IT infrastructure and the all desktop activity, we outsource catering, premises security, even entire facilities operations at some sites, and so forth, again because the costs and downsides of outsourcing are (if well done) less than the benefits of having somebody else do it for us.
This "get somebody else to do it" approach doesn't and never will fit all companies. But the situation hitherto was that you generally needed to build and operate your own infrastructure because there weren't adequate alternatives. There is now an adequate alternative, and there's no going back. As soon as the server virtualisation genie was let out of the bottle it opened the way for businesses like AWS to offer commodity grade solutions to businesses who don't want their fingers dirty.
Re: Your all up your own arse
"how many people have a clue what the gaping of your spark plug should be"
Equally important: What is making the spark plug gape?
Re: De-Dupe on a gloibal scale
You don't think they already do that?
Global de-duping seems to be the basis of the Play Music service, where your uploaded stuff is supposedly "converted" to a standard bitrate MP3 format. Does anybody really expect them to convert all the ripped CDs, WAV, FLAC and odd bit rate MP3's? I'm betting on uploading, scanning and track recognition, at which point they throw away the upload and grant you access to the archive version of the track.
A high risk investment
I recall the early "HD ready" Freeview sets, which turned out to be incapable of accepting HD transmissions because the tuner wasn't compatible. I'm guessing that we'll see the same thing here.
Re: Huawei offer you Android and Windows in one phone...
"So you can have a choice on whether you want a Chinese or NSA/GCHQ backdoor built in"
On balance I think I'd rather the Chinese back door on my private phone, and the NSA on the works devices.
"The fact that these activities have been going on for at least three quarters of a century with little in the way of observable oppression...."
Hold on, if the Stasi used people's neighbours to spy on them, that was OK, and opened people's mail, marked their typewriters etc, all OK? Because this automated mass surveillance is the same thing on a much larger scale.
You seem to be making the case that invading people's privacy doesn't count if you don't arrest (too many) people at 04:00 and give them a kicking? And what of the "valuable intelligence" that all this data collection produces? You could ask that diplomat's son, recently arrested by the armed cretins of the Metropolitan Police for the wicked crime of signing for a neighbour's parcel? Have a look at the press photos showing the moronic goobers of the Met and all their counter-terror experts digging up the garden - it's like something from the old Soviet Bloc. Some press coverage suggests that the parcel (never recovered according to some reports) was associated with a crime by a third party, but the facts are pretty clear - the Clowns in Blue arrested the wrong person, targeted the wrong house, and made themselves look stupid. I suppose for an organisation that shoots innocent people dead and walks away scot free there is no downside to f***ing up on the intelligence front, but I don't willingly pay my taxes for that sort of "public protection".
Meanwhile, have GCHQ made big inroads from all this intelligence on drug crime, money laundering, organised crime, human trafficking? Doesn't look like it to me.
"Never heard of solitons before"
Same here. And whilst that may be a tribute to my ignorance, I like to think I'm pretty well educated and well informed, so I doubt there's just the two of us. Perhaps in addition to dribbling on about cat poo in quiet cul-de-sacs, the Reg could actually do a bit of journalism.
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