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* Posts by Ledswinger

2847 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Data entry REAR-END SNAFU: Weighty ballsup leads to plane take-off flap

Ledswinger
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Re: @Alan Brown

"The USA stepped up right from the outset and said "oops". The people involved were disciplined and payouts were made."

Err, they had to be dragged to the international courts to pay up.

And not only did the US award the crew combat ribbons for their performance in the gulf, the Vincennes air warfare coordinator received the USN Navy Commendation Medal, and later the commander of the Vincennes was awarded the Legion of Merit medal for his command of the ship.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Does it really matter who shot it down?

"It was obviously a mistake, whoever did it. "

What makes you say that? The alleged attack weapon was an advanced weapon capable of reaching high altitude that required multiple crew members, and two or three different ground vehicles. Whoever fired it and was able to hit a target flying six miles up at nearly 500 miles an hour miles up knew exactly what they were doing with complex anti-aircraft weaponry, and by definition would have known that civilian air traffic was operating in the area at that altitude, would have been able to deduce that this was civilian (from speed, altitude and course) and therefore knew this wasn't either a Russian air force intrusion, nor a Kiev military transport landing supplies.

Putin was on a plane through this airspace 200 miles (ie 24 minutes) behind MH17, and if you accept my suggestion that whoever launched the missile knew exactly what they were unleashing, then there are only a couple of obvious conclusions, both of which are fairly unpleasant:

1) This was an attempt to assassinate the leader of the world no.2 nuke weapon power (with more important questions than who launched the missile, like who originated the scheme, and who authorised it).

2) The Putin proximity was irrelevant, and the intention was to deliberately bring down any passing commercial transport, intending to implicate the other side (a false flag attack). I'd not be so bold as to suggest this proves anything, but the immediate enthusiasm of Western power to blame Russia first and separatists second is notable.

There is perhaps a third option, the "Vincennes excuse", in which those who launched the missile intended to bring the plane down, but in the red mist they'd ignored the obvious signs that this was a non-combatant, but that's like claiming that murdering the wrong man is only manslaughter, and doesn't wash for me.

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Ledswinger
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Provisional report's due out in a day or two, IIRC. Hopefully the report will be technical and of high quality (as most air accident investigations are), but the public voice of Western powers will be much as before - airliner shot down by advanced SAM, don't really know who fired it, it crashed in separatist held territory, so it MUST be the separatists. In the same way that because Pan Am 103 crashed in Scotland, it had to be the fault of the SNP.

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Ledswinger
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" Could they put an automatic weighing machine under the passengers queuing for that security check?"

Good idea. And then combine the baggage and passenger weight allowance to make everything fair.

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TIBCO ponders new 'financial options', including sale or merger

Ledswinger
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Business as usual

"Ranadivé says it is business as usual for the company and customers won't notice any change."

Certainly is BAU in the ERP sector. The model is:

1. Build basic ERP, recruit customers

2. Acquire other firms to extend basic capabilities

3. Go private, so PE managers can pillage the company and "improve" the financials

4. Sell out to Oracle or SAP (or Infor, who one day want to sell out to Oracle or SAP).

http://www2.erpgraveyard.com/tombs.html

Customers certainly won't notice any difference, in that their bills will continue to rise, supplier flexibility decline, and employees will (as ever) fear the thin whoosh of the scythe.

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NATO nations 'will respond to a Cyber attack on one as though it were on all'

Ledswinger
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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

"@ I ain't Spartacus....Your thought process & justifications scare me, I can see why the world is the way it is."

I wouldn't worry. Our non-Spartican friend seems to give credit to the idea of a cyber attack that disables all of our critical infrastructure. Given the motivations and morality of many of the baddies of this world, if it were feasible it would have been done. Sure you can DDOS a bank. Big deal. You can hack many companies, big deal. You can demonstrate vulnerabilities in some SCADA kit, big deal.

But the idea that the whole modern world is simply waiting to be hacked and crashed is bollocks. I've worked in infrastructure for most of my career, with an initial spell in high security defence computing, so I like to think I have a good feeling for the extent of the risk, and I say the prophets of imminent cyber doom are talking out of their arses.

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Work in the tech industry? The Ukraine WAR is coming to YOU

Ledswinger
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Re: Sanctions against@ IAS

"Did the US annex Iraq? Nope. Did US forces leave at the government's request? Yup. Are US forces leaving Afghanistan at the government's request? Yup. Did the US annex part of Afghanistan? Nope. Notice a difference?"

You're quire right, I do notice a couple of differences: Some people, in fact quite a lot of people in eastern Ukraine welcomed the very limited Russian involvement. As far as I can see NOBODY in Afghanisatan or Iraq welcomed the unjustified invasion of their countries, the dismantling of all institutions, destruction of infrastructure. And in Iraq and 'Stan there's been collectively hundreds of thousands of mostly civilian casualties.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Yup. had that in apartheid South Africa

"Apparently Russia's corporate finance needs are nearly $200bn this year, just to refinance maturing debt. And according to the German government exports to Russia in July were down 60% on last year."

Well the Russian government can fix the debt rollover problem just the way the US, UK and ECB fixed their debt problems. You run the printing press.

But that line about Germany, that's the nub. The effect of sanctions against Russia will hurt Germany above all (and London, but primarily in lost profits). Reduced exports to Russia are not a big deal, but if the Russians retaliate and interrupt winter gas flows then the effects will be, shall we say, interesting. Germany has a lot of gas storage, so there will be two options for Russia - token interruptions to make a point, knowing that storage will supply end users, or prolonged interruptions towards the end of winter to disrupt end users and inflict economic harm. And with the West having sucked up to Ukraine, what will Germany do if Ukrainian gas supplies are cut, and Kiev citizens are freezing to death? Will Germany sacrifice its gas reserves to keep Ukraine warm?

I don't know the answers, but the whole mess in Ukraine is largely a Western caused mess with a Western policy response that must be the finniest thing Putin's ever seen.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Sanctions @ I ain't Spartacus

<i"Arguably, the Iranian sanctions roll-back is happening because the US has reached the end of the line with them."</i>

And because the Americans now find themselves in a bizarre, unannounced and undesired alliance with Assad and Iran to fight IS, because the US backed a thuggish crook to run Iraq, who then destabilised the place on ethnic lines, creating fertile territory for Sunni extremists. And to add further black humour to this situation, many of IS's more competent fighters were CIA trained and armed in Jordan, and are now using all that military kit the Yanks poured into Iraq, but couldn't be bothered to bring home. Separately the US is all cozy with the GCC states who have allowed funds and arms to flow to IS, and indeed spending serious money to "protect" these states against the alleged threat from Iran's antiquated military and thus pouring yet more advanced weapons into the volatile pot that is the Middle East.

When I look at the foreign policies of the various major world countries, I can see what motivates most of them. Except the US, where they seem intent on repeating mistakes of very recent years, creating new enemies where none existed, and destabilising regions they want to see stable. The only logic of US foreign policy is that it persistently maintains high oil prices, and whilst the man on the Western street might feel he suffers from high oil prices, everybody else (including Western governments, financiers, traders, and oil companies with expensive to produce US oil resources) love high oil prices.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Morals, ethics, principles...

"After all, why should business suffer just because their customers are evil war-mongers who shoot down airliners. "

Well, that's a good question. The moment MH17 was down but still smoking, Western politicians were blaming Putin and the Ukrainian rebels. When Pan Am 103 came down it took weeks indeed months of intensive work to establish who really did it (and still the evidence is not wholly convincing).

Since those early accusations over MH17, you'll have seen that no proof has been offered, that the makers of the accusations have quietly backed off and distanced themselves from the more vociferous complaints. The photos allegedly of "rebel held" AA missiles have been debunked, showing locations in far distant Kiev-controlled territories, and the US (despite having the technology to resolve the hairs on a Talibani's backside in Iraq from earth orbit) have failed to produce all the loudly and gladly anticipated evidence of a missile launch in rebel held territory.

Ukraine is a backward, ill-governed, corrupt and undemocratic part of the world, with strong ethnic and national tensions. US-sponsored interference in Ukraine's primitive politics resulted in the Maidan uprising, which surprisingly then replaced an elected pro-Russian president (a dodgy crook, I'd accept) with a not-properly elected pro-US president who's also a dodgy crook, dependent upon extremist right wing militias and continued Western cash injections, triggering the not-so-latent tensions now playing out.

So, who's the bad guy's here? And interestingly if we have a cold winter in Europe, who's on the hook for the Russian retaliation for ill-conceived sanctions? Germans. Initially their government tried to take a softly-softly line, but I daresay the population will be pleased at their government now bending over to US pressure.

The US establishment have intervened all round the world over the past decade and more, and I can't think of one instance where the outcome has been good (particularly for the Americans themselves). Forced out of Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and leaving those countries more wretched than they were before whilst creating and arming new enemies. Now the fools are again dabbling with starting a hobby war in somebody else's back garden, with no legitimacy nor any public support at home.

If there's a need for sanctions, it's sanctions on Washington (and perhaps London/NATO) to stop the madmen from their current spiral towards a new cold war.

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Video: Dyson unveils ROBOTIC TANK that hoovers while you're out

Ledswinger
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Re: sounds neato

"My neato vx-21 ( yes the name is off-putting ) ...."

Well Dyson have messed up calling a vacuum cleaner a "360 eye". If it's got tracks then they should have called it the Dyson Kursk, and given the design a suitable khaki theme. And they could have offered an expensive version with metal tracks, deliberately devoid of lubricant in order to move with a menacing squeaking and clanking (and an extra cost option of a built in speaker playing a quiet soundtrack of a 26 litre diesel). I'd have one of those.

Of course, the marketing dweebs who specified it have no imagination and probably no knowledge of history, so none of that was ever on the cards, but they could at least have called it the Dyson Panther, which has pleasant overtones of grace, speed and strength amongst those who don't have a Commando war comic moment when the term "Panther" gets mentioned.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Still missing critical feature

"Non of these robot vacuums empty their bins out requiring daily human interaction. I have given up on such robot until this has been implemented."

A software fix should enable it to identify the cat flap, reverse up to the flap and engage reverse thrust? Admittedly it'll make a mess outside until the wind blows, but I can tolerate that.

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Power station fault cuts electricity, water and internet in Cairo

Ledswinger
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Alien

Re: Please note

"A really big solar flare could take out power stations worldwide, and in many countries (including the UK) that would also cut off water supplies."

We've had a number of big solar flares over the recent half century, and they've generally failed to cause the havoc that the doom-mongers predict. The power plants are well protected, and it is the grid that would get hit, and even that has plenty of interruptors and circuit breakers than have to deal with locally more powerful phenomena (eg lightning, short circuits) on a far more frequent basis.

Some water facilities would be affected by loss of power, but as a rule UK water engineers have designed both water supply and sewerage systems to use gravity, with a combination of distributed storage and local power back ups keeping water supply going for long enough to overcome most credible interruptions.

Collect your tin foil hat over there ------->

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Verizon hit with $7.4 MEEELLION fine for slurping users' privates

Ledswinger
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How the board laughed....

When they worked out they were being fined a whole 0.006% of 2013 turnover.

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Claimed Home Depot credit card hack could be biggest retail breach yet

Ledswinger
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Re: "and they run old or outdated operating systems"

"That would be Windows Embedded for Point of Service - i.e. XP?"

Probably. But ignoring the OS, what about the EPOS system? A few large European retailers use EPOS systems written entirely in Java which is bad enough. When you then learn that the individuals who designed and coded it have only recently been released from Her Majesty's hospitality for fraud then you might conclude that the retailers have not bought wisely.

Then again, with the slightly whiffy nature of many EPOS suppliers, often involving accounting standards that are a flexible friend, and sales/purchasing practices amongst both software vendors and the retailers that would make an Afghan drug dealer blush, things can only get worse.

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Don't buy that phone! It ATTRACTS CRIMINALS, UK.gov will tell people

Ledswinger
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Re: Here's an idea....

"Y'now, those useless money eating things like, youth clubs, sports clubs, rehab clinics, homeless shelters, debt advice agency's, sure start centres, intervention teams, social services, adult education services, apprenticeship schemes."

Nulab tried that for ten years without too much obvious success, and as a result of the Cowalition's failure to make any worthwhile cuts the national debt is still rising by £100 billion quid each and every year (over £11m per hour).

How much more money do you want to spend on schemes trying to distract the feckless and where will it come from?

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Car makers, space craft manufacturers infected with targeted recon tool

Ledswinger
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Re: IE involved, again...

"Perhaps the bigger news was the compromising of the engineering software companies web site in the first place. But they fail to say *who* that was, which might help other folk know if they might be exposed or not."

How does it help the intended victims? OK they avoid software company X (possibly to the extent of that company going out of business), but the real issue is that the target companies themselves are operating vulnerable software that they need to address. The bag guys can easily move on to another industry specific watering hole, so avoiding the original launch site achieves nothing. Indeed, if the attackers are taking a strategic approach they're sitting on a catalogue of vulnerabilities to use when the current crop are patched, they'd have future watering hole sites already identified, and duplicate C&C servers in reserve against a takedown.

What troubles me is that the auto and aerospace sectors are dominated by big, technologically advanced companies, with plenty of IP to protect. They have small armies of people like the target demographic of the Reg to look after IT security. Which means that either the crooks will find the drawbridge is already up and castle defended, OR these IT security professionals (us) continue to run hideously vulnerable crudware in the first place (like Java, Flash, Acrobat Reader), and the installations are presumably unpatched as well.

I'm inclined to the latter view, but I'd welcome the view of people more directly involved.

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Singapore slings £18k fine at text-spam-spaffing biz owner

Ledswinger
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" It's unlikely to be a deterrent for the big boys who cover their tracks and operate globally with impunity"

Largely because the non-malware spamming business operates hand in glove with the global payment processors, and that's where the regulators should focus. You want to stop Vi@gra spam? Simply stop them taking payment with any major credit or debit card. So few people would know how to pay in bitcoins that the revenues from spamming would collapse.

If the regulators really wanted to stop it, they could make it illegal for payment processors to take funds from organisations undertaking criminal or unlicensed activities, on the basis of the jurisdiction of the buyer. The spamming vendors themselves wouldn't be traceable, but the regulators do know where Mastercard live, and have the necessary sticks to force them to come clean. If you could stick Mastercard for twice the entire value of all such transactions they'd soon start being careful about who they do business with - as things stand their (and resellers) merchant services divisions probably have f***ing account managers to support the spammers.

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Not even CRIMINALS want your tablets, Blighty - but if that's an iPhone you're waving...

Ledswinger
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Re: @Kristian Walsh

"Market share is a measure of how many new models of each type are being sold per month or quarter. Thieves are, however, stealing from the installed base."

That is 100% correct, but I'm not sure that your subsequent assertions about Apple products having a longer service life are correct - Apple buyers are inherently of the magpie persuasion, and the traded in phones are often exported or even scrapped (no point in diluting the premium market). On the other hand a second hand Android, particularly mid to low end is worth far less when exported.

The time series data that I've seen suggested that broadly speaking the market shared had held up for the past two or three years, so I'll acknowledge your challenge when you can find better data on the installed base of devices - a quick google suggests that the installed base is dominated by Android in all major markets for which data is available, so I think my argument stands until further notice?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Stating the obvious

The reported iphone theft levels are somewhat above the prevailing market share of the device in each market. So the iPhone market share in the UK is circa 30%, in Germany circa 20%, but theft levels are in both cases around 10% higher.

What that might suggest is that iPhone users are more likely to hang out in locations where the crims conduct their trade, or are simply more careless in both making their phone ownership obvious to others ("Hallo! HALLO! I'm on the train! I SAID I'M ON THE TRAIN WITH MY NEW SHINEY IPHONE 5S), and more careless in looking out to avoid having their phone stolen.

You can argue from this that iPhone users have better social lives, but are a bit gormless. Or you could just argue that it reflects the market share in the demographic that hangs around nightclubs, and that anybody with a phone in a nightclub should expect to have it stolen.

Assuming devices are replaced like for like, the higher theft levels are a nice contributor to Apple's extravagant profits.

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Uber alles... nein! Deutschland imposes NATIONWIDE BAN on taxi app

Ledswinger
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Re: EU law proportionality test

"So expect the CJEU to urinate noisily all over the German law in question."

I doubt it. As Germany is the only solvent economy in the EU I very much doubt that the EU are going to try throwing their weight around. As it is the Eurocrats have to persuade the Germans to either pay off the debts of Southern Europe and France, or to accept a tsunami of inflation to water down those states debt. Far from seeing the netizens rise up with their pitchforks, the only people who are perhaps willing to die in a ditch over some poorly regulated hire car app are the unlucky users who get in a car driven by an inept clown.

And judging by my experience of German taxis, the cars are usually new, high end cars, well driven. I'd prefer to pay taxi prices for that, than sit in some potentially uninsured rustbucket driven by somebody with no regulation whatsoever.

Back here in the UK things are admittedly different, because the regulated taxis are (in my home town) crummy, low end rustbuckets driven by the clueless. So taking pot luck with Uber can only be worse if the Uber driver turns out to be a homicidal psychopath.

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Apple reportedly inks deal with American Express for its iPhone payments system

Ledswinger
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Re: Payment Processor

"So the point isn't that nobody accepts Amex. It's that nobody (yet) accepts Apple!"

Other sources have reported that Apple are also signed up with Visa and Mastercard, so the lack of popularity for Amex is moot. I doubt that the payment processors want to tie themselves to any particular hardware or software, so chances are that there's similar deals in the offing for other phone makers.

The thing working in Apple's favour here is the single port of call (not only the software.hardware tie up, but that Apple can and will tell the MNO's to sling their hook). In the world of Android they've got to deal with a host of hardware makers, the vampire data squid that is Google, and the network operators. And each of them is daft enough to think they stand a credible chance of coming up with some proprietary NFC solution that will get them a big slice of the payment before they've gone anywhere near the payment processors.

Personally I might use Visa or Mastercard for NFC, but I wouldn't trust Google, hardware makers, and in particular MNOs. In relative terms Apple fall somewhere in the middle of my distrust spectrum (which only runs from "not much" to "not at all, in this universe and all others"), which is a pity given that I wouldn't touch their over-priced and under-specced hardware. And even Visa & MC can sling their NFC hook until they take liability for fraudulent use of NFC credentials.

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Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning

Ledswinger
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Re: Bring it on@ Voland's Right Hand

"So while a great idea in principle, you will have to re-regulate the railways first (as in most places where they have working rail on the continent)"

Our railways are already regulated, so I presume you mean adding more regulation.

But that won't work. I work in a different industry that is currently very heavily regulated, and despite (or more likely because of that) we as an industry are under investigation by the competition authorities and the regulator who believe that the market is "not working". I can assure you that you cannot "regulate" a desired outcome through adding more and more rules, each of which has unintended consequences that require more rules to deal with.

By definition, the commercial rail operators in the UK do what they do to maximise their profits. If they are now doing things that you don't want, or not doing things that you want, then you want regulation to force them to take a course of action that will reduce their returns, and thus their willingness and ability to invest. This principle is why we are increasingly at risk of blackouts, as regulation and intervention to "improve" the energy sector has simultaneously reduced returns, raised costs to consumers, and made investment highly risky and unpredictable. The only answer to "improve" UK railways then is tax-funded subsidy, significant fare increases, or renationalisation. I remember the waste and incompetence of British Railways, I'm in no hurry to go back there, but even if that were an outcome it can only hide but not alter the fact that non-profit oriented spending diverts investment from better investment opportunities. In a state still spending around £100 billion a year more than it raises in tax, and with a £1.3 trillion pile of public debt, where will you get the money from to fritter on "improving" our railways in ways that rail users currently aren't prepared to pay for themselves? Taking the money from HS2 isn't the answer, because that's simply substituting one form of mis-allocated capital for another.

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Virgin Media blocks 'wankers' from permissible passwords

Ledswinger
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Re: Odd List

A more pressing concern than the odd list is that the w@nkers at VM actually have the time, desire and resources to censor user data that even their own employees shouldn't be able to see.

With several recent performance f*ck ups, and continuous upward price creep over recent years I'd rather they sacked the disciple of Mary Whitehouse who instigated this policy and put their effort into keeping prices down and services working.

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EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday

Ledswinger
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"That was why I have Co-pilot."

Bwahahahahahaha! Another UK victim of Copilot's predatory UK pricing. £5.49 for all of the USA, or £24 just for the Western bits of Europe. I'd quite like Copilot, due to the limitations of the free Navfree app, and the neutered Google Maps service, but if they think they're fleecing me then they can FOAD, I'll manage with the two free apps mentioned.

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Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people

Ledswinger
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"I'm still waiting for my piezoelectric shoes to charge my phone whilst walking."

Likewise, my methane harvesting underpants have not yet materialised. I can't speak for your shoes, but judging by the corrosion holes in older underwear the problem may be the need for FGD kit before the methane can be captured. From a chemical engineering perspective, my flatus must qualify as "sour gas", but I prefer to think of it as "fruity" or "mellow".

But regardless, can somebody sort out my phone charging underwear? Combine it with sweat power for those times I'm out of gas, stick in a QI charging pad and my phone can charge wirelessly and renewably in my pocket. Patent, please!

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Dodgy payday loan ads make up 83% of cases probed by UK's FCA

Ledswinger
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Re: If you need a payday loan then you shouldn't get one.

"They, at least, don't advertise on TV to make it seem like they're nice cuddly folks that just love to help tide you over."

They didn't need to. Every poor neighbourhood had one or two of these people. And I think you'll find that the "customer service" was quite obliging up front. It was only at collections and arrears that the pickaxe handle came out, and in that respect the circa 4% write off that payday lenders have can be seen as an act of absolute charity. Murphy & McBastard (Back Street Lending) LLC wouldn't have put up with £1 in every £25 not being repaid with full interest.

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Ledswinger
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Re: If you need a payday loan then you shouldn't get one.

For some people that may be true, but there's a fundamental failing on the part of the moralistic opponents of payday lenders, and that's to understand that conventional interest costs don't scale down well for very short term and small loans to higher risk borrowers.

If you're a middle class liberal, you probably have ready access to a fairly cheap rolling overdraft facility and rather more expensive card credit. The former comes with an interest rate of perhaps 7%, the latter perhaps 18%. But because you already have arrangements with these people, the risk is low, the payment arrangements are in place, and they've already done the checks to know how much they think you're good for. You probably think this is normal and fair, and that everybody should have access at that price.

Now consider a payday lender customer. By definition the customer does not have access to a rolling overdraft or available card credit (either 'cos they've maxed it out, or they don't even have a bank account). When the lender sets them up as a customer, they've got few good ways of judging your creditworthiness, so they're pricing in a shed-load of risk. Then there's the admin of loan setup, which is probably five quid a pop (fully loaded call centre & systems costs, staff time and all company overheads). You've got to send out statutory written guff that nobody reads, so there's a quid or so on printing and postage. Then there's collections and payments processes, and follow up on overdues, all time consuming and costly. And of course you've got marketing and distribution costs. None of these largely fixed costs scale well for small payments, and that leads to apparently astronomical interest rates.

There's some really good analysis done a few years back on payday lenders in Ontario which looked at the costs of the industry, and structurally will not be dissimilar to the UK:

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&ved=0CHsQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sse.gov.on.ca%2Fmcs%2Fdocuments%2F264303.pdf&ei=LbHsU7PlJKbmyQOqnYDAAw&usg=AFQjCNEOtMday8jaEpIoebbEQcs3kVvILw&bvm=bv.73231344,bs.1,d.bGQ&cad=rja

This established that the costs to the lender of a $300 loan for two weeks were $65. That's the fat end of 600% interest. Any additional fixed charges that get applied (like quite reasonably charging overdue customers quite modest fixed sums for reminder letters and for late payments) dramatically increase the measured interest rate. The liberals are outraged by all of this, but where's their answer?

You can't lend unsecured to the financially inept for 7% annual. The welfare state has bloated beyond belief and has nothing more to give (well until the whelk-stall bunglers get in next year). And the fixed costs don't go away. So the choices are to live with it, or to regulate the interest rates down to a nice, Hampstead liberal approved number like 9%, and then wonder why there's no payday lenders, and good old fashioned unregulated doorstep lenders are back, complete with their even more expensive loans and traditional approach to late payments.

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

Ledswinger
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Re: Inefficiency @AC

"Interesting that these days there is a need to re-open railway lines in the UK that were closed as a result of the Beeching report."

So you'd have kept loss making lines open for fifty years on the off chance that demand might return? And what about the many closed routes where demand hasn't returned? Presumably you'd keep those open for another fifty years, just in case? No wonder you posted AC.

The underlying problems of the railways were monolithic government planning that treated capital investment as both free and a universal panacea, yet failed to take account of demographic change (eg more urban less rural balance of population) failed to take account of changing technology and rising living standards (more cars).

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Ledswinger
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Re: Inefficiency

"And major nationalisations were inevitable in 1945, because so much of the capital infrastructure was worn out through over-use and under-investment. "

All of the assets raddled by war were built by private enterprise with private capital, and the renewal could have been accomplished commercially (particularly if the state had paid for the damage its war requistioning had caused).

Nationalisation was simply populist Labour policy inspired by Marxist theology with no grounding in necessity. The longer term consequences of nationalisation included the loss of our previously diverse and competent aviation sector, the loss of our motor industry, and of our steel industry for that matter. The ineptly run and inefficient NCB (along with its militant employees) signed the death certificate of the UK coal industry.

And look at how government reacted to rail investment needs - first of all they built 2,500 steam locomotives which were then scrapped long before the end of their useful life (some as early as five years after being built), then they embarked on an ill advised attempt to build a vast diesel fleet using only UK makers both because failed Labour economic policies left the country bereft of foreign exchange, and because they really believed they could "create jobs" by trying to keep business in the UK by government command. Unfortunately the UK makers had little experience in the technology (primarily a handful of prototypes built by the private rail companies), leading to poor reliability, high costs and more early withdrawals. BR still failed to achieve standardisation leading to many types with small production runs, which worsened the cost problems. And in the meanwhile, despite government policies, car numbers were rising, and the rail industry would not adapt, resulting in the crisis that required the Beeching plan (which even then was not sufficient to address the move away from rail traffic).

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No more turning over a USB thing, then turning it over again to plug it in: Reversible socket ready for lift off

Ledswinger
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Re: Standards proliferation

"Should have just stuck with the USB mini A, instead of the USB mini B. Yes it's technically the wrong one for a device, and it is marginally larger. But it was at least blatantly obvious which way it should go."

Should have got it right first time more like.

Which meant one "normal" and one "small" connector, reversible plugs, and no flimsy tat that breaks or wears out after a few hundred cycles. No weird and crappy A and B types, no mini and micro. What was going through the mind of the designer?

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UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom

Ledswinger
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Re: good coverage Pah!

"Can the networks please sort out their existing coverage. 1 bar is not good enough in a large town."

And you think they will?

OFCOM seems content to regulate on the basis of network owners insisting that they offer a circa 98% success rate, when from the article quotes user experience of intermittent service (that I suspect we can all attest to) and dissatisfaction levels that in my view are unduly high - although that depends how easily pleased you are with around one in five users dissatisfied.

The problem is that the physical network owner/operators have a nice slice of the pie each, the cost of infrastructure represents a huge barrier to entry, and with no effective competition or regulation the service they can just sit on the behinds and laugh at their customers. MVNOs create a veneer of competition, but as that's just a reseller arrangement it offers no incentive to the network owners to improve their offer.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4: 4G Android tablet is easy to swallow

Ledswinger
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Re: Whither Nexus 8@ FartingHippo

"I don't have this device though my personal track record attempting procedures like this has me confident I'd break the device in the process."

But you tried in the past, and that's far more important than failing. And if the device is virtually unusable to the point of wanting to replace it, what have you got to lose?

I'd agree designing for user replaceable batteries is a far preferrable consumer outcome, and that's how I select my phones, but there's times when you can't get everything you want, and in that case the shed approach must be tried.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Whither Nexus 8@ FartingHippo

"Where indeed is the next iteration of the Nexus 7/8? Fed up with charging my Mk1 every night."

Replace the stuffing battery then. £21 off Amazon, flip the back off using mobile phone disassembly tools, £10 or less from any mobile phone accessory seller (mind that bottom bit of the case around the speaker, that's fragile), unplug the battery connector, peel the battery off the double sided sticky, push in the new one, click, click, clickety-click and Bob's your uncle.

Bl00dy techies! "The battery's worn out so I'd better buy a new one"

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£100m DMI omnifail: BBC managers' emails trawled by employment tribunal

Ledswinger
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Re: Public money

"You think it's any different in large private sector corporations?"

To an extent, yes. The BBC is public sector, it has a tax-funded ethos of easy come, easy go. I'd agree there are back stabbing shits in a good proportion of commercial businesses, but I have a choice of whether to support the business based on what it does for me. In most commercial businesses pissing £100m up the wall for no useful output would actually endanger the future of the business, and probably result in a complete change of both board and IT management.

Based on the performance over the past five years I've paid the fat end of £400 for nine episodes of Sherlock, a few news and weather bulletins, and quite a few hours of vile politically correct kiddy TV for my offspring, whilst the BBC continue to spew out cheap, neuron-neutralising pap like Antiques Roadshow, or repetitive formula crud like Masterchef. Or they rely on past glories like Dads Army, or even re-runs of once-funny but long, long-since-out-of-gas content like Only Fools & Horses, or nearly endless remakes of Dr Who. Buggers should have taken a few years off after David Tennant. And then there's the whole quality-destroying mess of BBC Worldwide, that managed to shit all over potentially attractive themes like Torchwood. And what about costume drama for the skirt wearers amongst us? That used to be a BBC crown jewel, now reduced to gloomy mumbling in infrequent outings.

Useless, uncreative bastards. Sack 'em all.

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Chinese Bitcoin farms: From scuzzy to sci-fi

Ledswinger
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"The price has been pretty stable for the last six months."

But in a non-transparent market and potentially illiquid market it is at risk of massive volatility. And that could come from any one of a number of causes:

Crims decide that Bitcoin transactions don't give anonymity in an NSA world

Big institutions find Bitcoins not worth the work after compliance and capital reserve needs

Somebody comes up with a better way of mining coins, and supply expands

etc

Bitcoin will remain a boom and bust economy whilst it remains part of the shadow financial system.

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Blighty in SPAAAACE: Brit-built satellite films the Earth

Ledswinger
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"Like much of the sat’s components, the camera is cobbled together from off-the-shelf components that have been ruggedised to withstand the rigours of space."

Assembled in a basement workshop under West Wallaby Street, I assume. Britain: Where science imitates art.

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Google leaves STUPID vuln on Nest devices

Ledswinger
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Re: I can't be the only one

"*Obviously it'll be Paris. Or depending on how September's vote goes, Edinburgh..."

What, we nuke the Scots when they fail to vote for independence? Sounds good to me.

And then we just write to the Welsh Assembly telling them they are now independent, thanking them for the slate and wishing them good luck as a sovereign nation.

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Fifteen countries KO'd in malware one-two punch

Ledswinger
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Re: Putin's unground lair?

"Talking of which, is Brennan still in the job? Does he have to personally molest Obama's cat on the White House lawn in front of cameras for something to happen??"

Yes, and no respectively. The man is clearly asbestos regardless of what he does, presumably because Yank politicians fall into two overlapping sets: Those who think he's doing a fine job, and those who have something to hide and think Brennan's people have a big list with all the details.

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Microsoft: Just what the world needs – a $25 Nokia dumbphone

Ledswinger
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Re: An Old Fogey Speaks

"Quit the generalisations and focus on the feature set. It finds a market"

Cobblers. Market segmentation is generalisation in practice. If you focus on the feature set you end up with differentiated offers like Nokia and Blackberry, where after initial success the customers just melted away.

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Ledswinger
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Re: An Old Fogey Speaks

"Just because we're old enough to remember Zmodem and WinFax doesn't mean we're technological illiterates."

That's true. But a big print screen is useful once you get past 50.

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Chomp that sausage: Brits just LOVE scoffing a Full Monty

Ledswinger
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Re: So basiclly,@ James M

"Unfortunately standards are useless if they are not kept. <cough>horsemeat<cough>"

That's true, but I'm mindful that probably the worst abbatoir safety disaster in the UK (BSE/vCJD) was as a result of misguided changes to regulations. Feeding a few TV-dinner addicts cooked horse meat is something relatively tame in comparison. I know you can argue that if people aren't abiding by the regs then anything can happen, but that's a bit different from changing the regs to knowingly allow something to happen.

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Ledswinger
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Re: So basiclly,

"You still need to learn the joys of biscuits and sausage gravy, fried potatoes, and possibly pancakes."

But returning to the subject of what constitutes a proper breakfast, the article made three important omissions: Black pudding, fried mushrooms, and baked beans. Oooh, and fried bread.

On the downside for the Full Monty, recent EU changes to standardise Europe to Bulgarian meat hygiene standards (that the spineless British government have kow-towed to) now mean that it is increasingly difficult to trust mass produced sausages unless you want to eat minced ulcer, sore, carbuncle, cancer etc with an official stamp of approval.

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Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner: Capital is top target for computer thieves, say police

Ledswinger
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Re: Lets get this straight

"perhaps as there's more commuting by public transport in the capital people tend to buy nicer devices and have them out more often?"

Reading the article suggests that business burglary is a major driver, rather than on-street robbery and pick pocketing. I'm sure both of the last two are prevalent, but if you're stealing things as a trade then a raid on an unoccupied business or even school is going to have far better pay off than snatching some bod's phone, running off very fast hoping that you don't run foul of an angry mob of commuters or a passing plod, don't get run over as you leg it, you aren't caught on high def CCTV, and that the phone is both saleable and not IMEI locked within minutes of theft.

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Ledswinger
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Re: An alternative viewpoint is...

" An alternative viewpoint is...That Londoners don't have much else worth stealing."

And yet another is that London is simply a simmering cauldron of thieves, where a third of the population work in various forms of organised white collar theft (group A, AKA the City), a third work in blue collar and manual crime (group B, the subject of this survey), and the other third (group C) create the framework for crime to prosper, either by writing bad laws to allow group A to prosper, or operating the system to ensure that group B consider the benefits of crime (against groups A & C) worth the risks whilst creating the appearance of a criminal justice process.

The sooner we build a big wall along the route of the M25 and seal them all in forever, the better.

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CryptoWall! crooks! 'turn! to! Yahoo! ads! to! spread! ransomware!'

Ledswinger
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Re: And this is why...

"Oh the irony, blocking ad's whilst using an advertising agencies software."

It's like stealing from Google. There's an ethical conundrum - based on Google performance on copyright, media-owner payments, etc etc it seems OK to steal from them, on the other hand taken to the extreme in a Google free world we'd be choosing between WindowsPhone and Apple for mobile devices, and having to use Yahoo for search.

There would appear to be no right answer, so keep stealin'

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Yosemite Siri? Apple might plonk chatty assistant on your desktop - report

Ledswinger
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Re: Disability Access

"If it's not hobbled, I could see this being useful as a tool for those with disabilities to interact with their computers."

What, a bit like Dragon Naturally Speaking, just fifteen years late?

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Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

Ledswinger
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Re: How long is the battery warranty

"Smells of conversion using an approximation followed by reconversion with an exact ratio"

Or smells of a clattering noise as the battery falls out the bottom of the car at 99,360 miles...

More seriously, what is the detail of the warranty? Most rechargeable batteries go off over time, so presumably what's being guaranteed is some percentage of the original range. With such a low starting range, and the need for a few miles contingency at all times if you're getting even 80% of the original range, then you're not going to be driving much in the countryside. Incidentally, the warranty is a bit of a crap deal - rather than having them promise me what amounts to a 95 miles range (after contingency) in five years time, I'd rather have (a) swappable batteries in some standard format, and (b) electrical control gear capable of managing a range of likely voltages and capacities, thus enabling a replacement of the batteries with something better in a few years time if better technologies become available.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Nice apart from the range

"Are e-cars getting shorter ranges rather than longer these days?"

Almost certainly. On a G-Wiz, which is essentially a wendy house on bike wheels, all of the battery capacity went to traction. On this Golf, you can see there's a pretty fitted satnav and aircon, if there's an option of heated windscreen (itself a monster energy hog) I would reason there's semi-respectable audio, electric windows, central locking, and it looks in the photos like it has the full suite of airbags and sensors. So well done VW for that bit. I really like the idea of an EV that isn't a hair shirt experience, is comfortable, well equipped and doesn't run on solid tyres...

...but the worrying comments about range suggest that the answer to the question "are we there yet?" remains a firm no. I would have thought that fast swappable batteries and 250 mile range would have made all the difference, but sadly the budget that might have achieved that was spent making the under-bonnet look as though there's a combustion engine in it.

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Wait, an actual QR code use case? TGI Friday's builds techno-restaurant

Ledswinger
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Never mind fast food

Some clueless politician who didn't even know what they were has already decided that the unloved QR codes should be used for, your energy bills:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/qr-codes-on-energy-bills-put-consumers-in-control

The larger player in this sector are resigned to idiotic and all pervasive government interference, but the smaller suppliers are less than happy about this idea about kick starting competition, because redesigning bills, and making the QR code do something useful isn't cheap. And despite all of the polticos' vacuous thinking about "competition", this won't make any difference because the real driver of higher costs is global markets, and interventions by governments as they conduct their ongoing War on Climate Change (at our expense). But luckily your gran will be getting a QR code on her energy bill, and she can use her Hudl to move to a new supplier and she can pretend that she's saved money.

On the other hand, if the Rt Honourable Ed Davey really wants to help my household cut energy bills, perhaps he could stop passing new legislation, statutory instruments, regulatory guidelines, and launching market reviews, competition enquiries with the frequency of somebody enjoying norovirus, and then he could shove his beloved renewables and EU-directed energy policy up his @rse.

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