* Posts by Geoff332

21 posts • joined 3 Oct 2012

Google opens 'Inbox' heir-to-email trial to biz users

Geoff332

I'm not sure how many of the wise commenters here have actually used inbox - some of the comments kind of miss the point. I've been trying it out for a few months on my personal account.

From what I see, it basically does three things:

1. Automatically grouping emails. You can teach it how to group them. This absorbs the conversations like function that gmail and outlook have had for years. It's also a little more sophisticated than the tabs that gmail introduced a year or so back.

2. Focusing on action items - so making links and the like directly visable.

3. Sleep/snooze etc items. This is similar to flags, except they're a little more clever (e.g. only trigger when I'm at home or in the office next). These can be applied to individual items or to groups.

What it practically means is that if I order something from Amazon, it groups all the emails together and at a glance I can see the delivery status of my order and click directly on the tracking link (this is without opening the email). That's quite useful. (It doesn't, unfortunately, tell me how much tax I've avoided in the process). At the same time, the forum updates I signed up to to find whatever it is I've just bought and read all the reviews are quietly shuffled off to a separate group that I can look at when I have time.

The key here is that it's mostly automated and simplified. That is radically different from Outlook where I'd have to tell it to do all of that (e.g. to open the preview pane, create a filter) and would then apply the rules to all emails in quite a dumb way. I can enhance inbox - so I've long had a set of rules to label incoming email in gmail.

Now, I'm not actually defending inbox: I'm not totally convinced by it myself. My issue is that whilst it automates things, that automation is a little opaque and I'm not always sure that it's either right or good; sometimes dumb rules that I can write/understand/fix are better. The other issue is that it's not very good at hiding items once you've actioned them. So those Amazon orders remain front and centre until I hide the whole email. I'm also conscious that it means google is processing my inbox to make all these decisions, which might upset some people's sense of privacy.

The point is, it makes sense to critique/question inbox for what it is - not what it isn't. And what it is doing is quite a few steps ahead of outlook.

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Tax Systems: The good, the bad and the completely toot toot ding-dong loopy

Geoff332

Re: @Tim Worstall

"Were it efficient and focussed, we would only need to collect about a third of the level of taxes we currently do."

Nice assertion. But it really needs a few little things, like evidence.

As I understand it, around 1/3 of the Government's expenditure is on Health Care. By your argument, privatising that would make it more efficient. Fortunately, there are a number of privatised healthcare systems around the world (both publicly and privately funded) and we know from looking at them that the more private you make healthcare, the more expensive it gets. So, yes, you could cut one third of the budget by cutting health care. But that would - if the US is anything to go by - massively increase the burden on the economy.

Another third goes on pensions. Here, it's hard to compare, because private pension funds are contribution-based, while public pensions are usually either mixed or funded in the current period.

Putting those two together, you realise that well over half of all Government spending goes on the elderly (something like 3/4 of all health spending is on the over 65s. Less than 20% covers you from 5-65). So any meaningful, order of magnitude cut to Government spending is going to involve substantially cutting funding provided to the elderly.

You have implied that these cuts could be achieved without any loss to services (i.e. the money is wasted).

What I want to know is, "how?"

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Why Apple had to craft a pocket-busting 5.5in Plus-sized iPhone 6 (thank LG, Samsung etc)

Geoff332

Re: Apple DOES NOT benefit the mobile payments space

I think you mean security "expert" Steve Gobson. His expertise is mostly self-proclaimed and largely debunked by, wait for it, security experts (no quotes).

He's best known for emotional manipulation, mis-representing information to make himself look better, and generally favouring style over substance.

And he thinks Apple's security is good? Quell surprise!

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Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax

Geoff332

Re: Tax????

It does depend which EU country you were in. The more developed EU countries (Germany, France, Denmark, The Netherlands) all spend substantially more on healthcare per capita (not to mention the private contributions through compulsory insurance).

The countries from the original EU that spend less are places like Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Then the newer EU members - which have different cost structures (i.e. they pay less) and have lower life expectancy (healthcare costs go up exponentially as you age).

When you look at all sorts of quality of care measures, then the NHS tends to be middle of the range. Not the best, but certainly not the worst. Obviously there are some things it does better and some it does worse than other EU systems.

Overall, it seems like the NHS is underfunded, but provides pretty good care when you take that into account, meaning it's a reasonably efficient system.

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Child sex abuse image peddlers dodge UK smut filters and demand Bitcoin payments

Geoff332

What a surprise...

Who'd have thought that a technological solution to a social problem would be unsuccessful. Particularly when that technological solution was conceived by non-technical people like politicians.

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Facebook to BLAST the web with AUTO-PLAYING VIDEO ads

Geoff332

Typo

You seem to have made a mistake in the first sentence.

You wrote: "the free content ad network"; it should read "the content-free ad network".

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Dark matter researchers think they've got a signal

Geoff332

Re: Hammer.

As I've always said: if you can't fix it with a hammer, it wasn't really broken.

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Google's Page drops the A-bomb: Google Glass runs Android

Geoff332
Facepalm

And the prize for 2013's least surprising tech announcement goes to...

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Steve Jobs to supervise iPhone 6 FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Geoff332

If you take homeopathy seriously, then everything is (literally) diluted bullshit - which makes it more powerful.

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iOS 6.1 KNACKERED our mobile phone networks, claim Vodafone, Three

Geoff332

Re: Throwing mud

Luckily Apple doesn't have form for being aggressively (and often unreasonably) litigious.

Wait...

Oh.

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Apple updates maps to remove Australia’s ghost-city in the desert

Geoff332
FAIL

Maybe not a mapping fail

Pretty much all of the examples people have given (this one included) sounds like search failures.

In this case, searching for "Mildura" Apple Maps finds "Mildura Rural City" and duly directs the soon-to-be-corpse to that location (which looks to be coded as the centre of the region). Google will do similar things with some UK Postcodes - if you enter the full post code for a postcode, Google may direct you to the centre of the post code sector. The whole Luton or London things are also pretty obviously search failures.

I'm sure there are mapping errors too - but all map data will have some errors in it. If it's a search failure, this is most definitely not the fault of the map data. It is the fault of the search function. And that's entirely the responsibility of the people who wrote the search app... in this case, Apple.

Who'd have thought that Google might be good at taking ambiguous search strings and figuring out what the user might have actually meant? I mean, it's not like it's their day job or anything...

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Leveson tells media to set up independent regulator or bow to Ofcom

Geoff332

Re: Why?

The problem is that if someone relatively minor (like me) gets unjustly attacked by the press, I currently have no recourse. The PCC is weak. I can't afford to prosecute a suit against a big media organisation. And they'd not actually be breaking the law (lying itself isn't illegal - if it was, the Daily Mail wouldn't exist).

A stronger regulatory body is required to protect people against the power of the press - protection that they don't currently have - and statute is required to make sure that regulation has teeth. Statute does not require the Government to actually regulate the press. Of course, the press isn't smart enough to understand the difference.

Either that, or it's against their self-interest to understand the difference and they are deliberately mis-representing the issue.

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Apple granted patent for microphone silhouette

Geoff332

Did Apple not decline to comment...

... when contacted by The Register?

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Apple-v-Samsung $1bn iPhone fine: 'Jury foreman was biased'

Geoff332

That's basically Samsung's argument.

Apple has said, "You should have known beforehand! You probably did and you didn't tell anyone." On that basis the Jury's history should not be a valid argument for a mistrial (i.e. it's Samsung's own fault).

Samsung, in response, produced a signed affidavit saying they didn't know (lawyers lying to the court is pretty serious). In turn, they have said, "OK Apple: when did you figure it out? If you knew before the trial, then you had an obligation to tell the court as this was obviously a potential source of bias. If you didn't know beforehand, then is is reasonable to expect us to have done something that you didn't?"

It's not that they're accusing Apple of anything: they're merely attempting to neutralise Apple's argument and keep there appeal alive.

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Geoff332

Re: The jury

Is your name Velvin Hogan? You sound just like him!

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SMARTPHONES make TEENS have SEX with STRANGERS

Geoff332

Re: Nokias

Perhaps to stop you stupidly throwing it out of a 3rd floor window?

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Microsoft v Google judge could shape the world in new patent punchup

Geoff332

In the earlier case, Apple got spanked by an ITC judge. Samsung said, "you owe us X for these standards essential patents." Apple said, "see you in court." The judge said, "That's not negotiation, Apple. Go away." Microsoft has adopted a similar tactic of trying to dictate rather than negotiate prices. If this judge sees it the same way, it could get interesting.

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Google, Amazon, Starbucks are 'immoral' and 'ridiculous' over UK tax

Geoff332

it's not that simple...

This is a slightly tricky area as this is dealing not with UK tax law, but with international tax law. So it's very hard for the UK to act unilaterally (and, if they do, it gives license for other countries to act unilaterally - which does not end well). To address this requires EU-wide tax laws (many of these already exist, but those are the major loopholes). Should the UK decide to close them all by themselves, it could well have the converse effect of driving businesses currently based in the UK out of the country.

This is even more true as the world changes. Digital and electronic services can be easily produced and consumed in two different places (when you go to a website with some google placed advertisement in it, the servers that performed the analysis and placed the ad may well be located in the US. Or Asia. Or Russia. Or somewhere just up the road. How and where this sort of complex transaction should be taxed is very difficult to figure out and requires at a minimum international co-operation and, as an ideal solution - and international tax framework.

That's unlikely to happen - the nearest we could hope for in the short-medium term is a pan-European tax/regulation system. But the UK is busily pissing off (and on) the EU, so that's not very likely to happen either.

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Geoff332
FAIL

Re: Margaret Hodge - tax avoider

I'd probably look for a more objective - or at least factual - source than the Mail. They seem to shift between Revenue and Profit at will and aren't particularly clear on which is which. They report global revenue, global profits, and the percentage of revenue earned in the UK. They skip profits in the UK (which is the bit they are actually taxed on). Stemcor's explanation is they had a really bad year in the UK - consequently their profits were poor and that's what they paid tax on. They also overpaid in the previous year, further reducing their 2011 tax bill.

There may be a story here but the Mail's penchant for skipping facts to get to sensationalism has left it out.

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Geoff332

Re: A tax on a sale...

Amazon also avoid VAT: mostly by selling through places like Jersey, where there is no VAT charged then shipping to mainland UK. This gives them quite an advantage over Waterstones, WH Smiths and HMV - being able to undercut prices by 20%.

I'm not sure if Google does anything similar: they may well do.

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New science: SEAS WILL RISE due to CO2 ... but not for centuries

Geoff332
FAIL

"Existing human infrastructure that can cope with these comparatively everyday occurrences will not be much affected by rises on the 30cm scale"

I think the article may have confused mean and variance. An increase in 30cm mean is very different from a variance of 2 meters: the peaks will still occur and those peak level will also rise by 30cm.

I'm not saying that we can't absorb this increase (I really have no idea), but the (very) sloppy thinking leaves me pretty sure that it's not as simple as the article makes out.

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