* Posts by Nick Kew

635 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

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Parliament takes axe to 2nd EU referendum petition

Nick Kew
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Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

Funny definition of gerrymandered.

You miss the point.

The whole point of the referendum was to deal with the Tory party split. So many things were gerrymandered in favour of the maximum Out vote, so they'd have the maximum lack of credibility crying Foul.

Hence gerrymandering the electorate, the date, and the terms of debate.

Hence "negotiating" that worse-than-useless pretend-two-wrongs-make-a-right deal.

Everyone saw it as an internal Tory party row, which of course wrong-footed most of the non-Tory-party population and the rest of the world. Even the electoral commission played along, appointing the Tory Out faction rather than the Faragists as the official out campaign to keep things within the Party.

https://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/a-hollow-crown/

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Nick Kew
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Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

Maybe the Vatican runs ISP and proxy services? Maybe the Vatican has licensed out some of its allocated IP numbers? Or other such explanations.

That would seem broadly equivalent to some of the places around the world - from Moscow to Minneapolis - that IP location services have placed me without any such thing as a VPN.

The referendum was gerrymandered, not least by reneging on the 2015 manifesto commitment to enfranchise Brits long-term abroad (as I pointed out back in February). If the same happens to this and other petitions, shouldn't that just be seen as par for the course?

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Dutch court says BREIN should get e-book uploaders' names

Nick Kew
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Isn't this a non-story?

Unless the ISPs defy the court order, this would seem a non-story. They're not taking any kind of a stand by refusing to hand over details without a court order.

Though it could become a story if something interesting happens after handing over the details. For instance, the customer was offering free wifi and can't be held responsible for its users. Or can it? Now the world is worried again over public wifi ....

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Brexit: More cash for mobile operators or consumers? Pick one

Nick Kew
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Re: UK legislation

They could. I have no insight into how such legislation might work in practice: whether there might be unintended consequences.

Maybe if the EU rules prove successful you could start to lobby the UK government to legislate along those lines for roaming outside the EU? Or maybe someone is already lobbying?

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Nick Kew
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Not a zero-sum game

If we vote for isolation, the total pot of travel is likely to be a little subdued as the UK and to a lesser extent the rest of the EU (and indeed world) take an economic hit. Though perhaps the gap will be filled with more rest-of-world visitors taking advantage of cheaper currency.

Low prices will of course also drive volumes, regardless of anything the EU and the vote may do. I tend to treat roaming data as emergency-only, and stick to wifi spots for connectivity (including VOIP for voice calls). That kind of decision by millions of individuals reacting to high charges makes for a non-zero-sum game.

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Patent trolls, innovation and Brexit: What the FT won't tell you

Nick Kew
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Trade with the US

The EU has history of standing up to US bullying. Even if it has, at times, hinged on a single courageous member (remember ThankPoland?). UK is more likely to roll over and take it from Uncle Sam.

A post-brexit UK, in need of trade agreements with anyone who'll play, will be desperate for whatever it can get. So that'll be US patents automatically enforceable here. Along with all those other little things - like no question of labelling US food imports that might contain growth hormones illegal here, lest such labelling be prejudicial to their ability to sell (and of course the corollary, nothing to be labelled as free of such things, or GM, or whatever).

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Microsoft and LinkedIn: What the CEOs are planning

Nick Kew
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Facepalm

"Microsoft SEO Satya Nadella" (sic)

A Freudian slip for our times?

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No 10's online EU vote signup crash 'inevitable' – GDS overseer

Nick Kew
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Re: “I am very surprised that it crashed” - Liam Fox MP

I take it you're not one of the many reg commentards who would've screamed loudly about UK citizens' personal data being outsourced to a commercial entity and to servers in jurisdictions lacking our level of data protection?

There are a lot of people who care about that kind of thing, and would take a dim view if it happened. They might very well seek and get a court order declaring it illegal.

Anyway, a sufficient DoS attack can bring any server down for a while (see my post below for thoughts on who might've expected to benefit from that).

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Nick Kew
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Conspiracy?

Can we say one way or the other whether anyone might have deliberately DoSed the system? Cui bono?

The alacrity with which a minority of "out"ers jumped on it with cries of Judicial Review tells us someone thinks they may have something to gain from what happened: they're preparing the ground for a "vote again until you get it right" scenario. If the deadline hadn't been put back, they exclude a bunch of voters who everyone supposes to be predominantly-young, predominantly-in. A win-win for a DoS attack.

If it was regular cockup - lack of capacity - it would seem more than likely it should've gone down again before the extended deadline. As noted on Wednesday (before the event), whether it survived Thursday would provide cockup-vs-conspiracy evidence.

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England just not windy enough for wind farms, admits renewables boss

Nick Kew
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Re: Tidal?

Tidal is what we (UK) should be concentrating on above all else. Our geography more than any other country[1] gives us a huge resource to tap.

The downside there is, those countries which have committed more seriously to renewables (from China to the USA to more enlightened Europeans) have proportionally less of it and more of other sources. So noone has taken the lead in developing it. We have some pioneering projects, but only in Scotland have we got a government more-or-less prepared to back their pioneers.

And there still seems to be a lot of ignorance. Generic anti-green knee-jerks and a claim that greens don't like it have already popped up in this thread.

[1] With possible exceptions amongst tiny island countries whose total needs might be a the size of single UK power station.

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Bloke flogs $40 B&W printer on Craigslist, gets $12,000 legal bill

Nick Kew
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Re: Vexatious little ...

Welcome to the Real World.

Though I find your size-ism disturbing.

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Nick Kew
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Pirate Dave, that's usual. Something a bit like that happened to spamhaus a few years back, when some spammer sued in a 'merkin court - to take one example. For the worst abuse of all - albeit not quite the same - see the story of the pirates who used bogus patents to choke Blackberry. Courts look after their own, and 'merkin courts often have global reach.

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Will you get reimbursed if you're a bank fraud victim? Brits think not

Nick Kew
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Trollface

Re: And what can you do...

Perhaps they should blacklist the real sources of confusion. Headed by I, l, 1, and maybe |.

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Arrests for 'offensive' Twitter and Facebook messages up by a third

Nick Kew
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Re: Freedom of speech is dead in the UK

Freedom of speech without the freedom to offend is worthless.

Not worthless. Just nonexistent: it simply isn't free speech.

Je suis some-poor-bugger-probably-not-called-Charlie. 'Cos Charlie Hebdo published things far more offensive than I (or I expect many of those arrested) ever would, but got all the sanctimonious hypocrites lining up to support it.

My personal view? I'm with Voltaire: I support the right to say despicable things. I may also despise those who gratuitously abuse that right, but that doesn't mean sending the heavies after them.

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Google is the EU Remain campaign's secret weapon

Nick Kew
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There are many reasons a site might move up or down your google results. Some may be sinister, others realistic, but I don't think any fit both descriptions.

In the case of a political hot topic, it's almost certainly other sites moving up rather than your favourite moving down. Sites that google users click on and appear to stay on (google can see if you return to its results page and try another link after 30 secs). Sites that other people link to in relevant discussion. Etcetera. They've spent 20 years perfecting the engine to bring up the most relevant and interesting results for the most of their users, and doing constant battle with "SEO" spammers who try to subvert that.

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Are EU having a laugh? Europe passes hopeless cyber-commerce rules

Nick Kew
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Are you making problems?

If your spanish vendor won't ship to Poland, then they won't have Polish customers. That problem is theirs, and the remedy entirely in their hands. No business of the legislators: that's a complete red herring introduced in your article. No different to a Bristol vendor who declines to ship to Brighton.

If there's a point I'm missing, why not make it instead of introducing such feeble non-arguments?

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German boffins' clock drops 10 seconds in a billion-and-a-half years

Nick Kew
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Re: Not good enough

I'll sell you a clock with altogether less drift than that. Absolutely accurate twice a day, every day.

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Shared services centres supposed to save £128m saved £0... and cost £4m

Nick Kew
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Surely the Cabinet Office isn't the government, it's Sir Humphrey.

A man who shows clear leadership when it suits him, and not always in the direction of the government.

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They take to it later, but when women FLOSS, they mean it

Nick Kew
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FLOSS has older people, some of them grandparents.

But we didn't start as young as today's generations. We didn't have computers, let alone incentives like Google's Summer of Code. When RMS started in the 80s you had to be pretty well-off (or a kid with rich parents) to go anywhere near it. Even much later, getting online could be something of an adventure.

(Peak age 21 is plausible, as a direct effect of GSoC).

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Nick Kew
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Sample size is the least of their problems. Wouldn't be a problem at all if it were properly sampled.

But an online poll with self-selecting sample can never lead to meaningful results. Unless the study is all about bogus sampling methods.

I think most of us who've been doing open source for a while have also answered enough of those surveys for one lifetime, and just bin the requests to do yet another. Perhaps the results tell us that women have more patience with the d*** things and a higher boredom threshold, no doubt endowed on them by biology to deal with the endless repetition involved in caring for very small children.

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Sainsbury’s Bank insurance spam scam causes confusion

Nick Kew
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What's new?

All sounds perfectly normal to me. I get lots of such acknowledgements, and usually the most immediate indication that it's bogus is never having done business with the organisation in question.

Big-name online retailers like ebay and amazon seem to be regular favourites. Along with banks, airlines, etc.

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US work visas for international tech talent? 'If Donald Trump is elected all bets are off'

Nick Kew
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Don't get hung up on geography

Working for Silicon Valley doesn't require any kind of visa for anyone.

Just regular broadband.

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Must listen: We've found the real Bastard Operator From Hell

Nick Kew
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WTF?

Re: The Original song

Wow! It really is! So not the BoFH's own invention. Are they paying royalties, since it's not original?

Definitely sounds much better than the stuff they play in DIY stores, and distressingly often in supermarkets. Or indeed anything on the BBC's monument to mindlessness, Radio 2.

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Nick Kew
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Megaphone

Four Yorkshire Railwaymen

Just down the tracks from here is a maintenance depot. So at night (when there are long gaps between passing trains) we get the trains shunting out really slowly from the depot and stopping right here to go through quite a range of maintenance regimes. The noises have to be heard to be believed.

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Nick Kew
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Thumb Up

Re: Am I the only one?

I've never heard X-Idol-Voice-Talent-Thing or Justin Beiber. At least, not knowingly: I wouldn't have a clue if I did.

But that track was a lot more entertaining than a lot of the pop that's all-too-regularly inflicted on us by the likes of the BBC. Most recently 'Prince'. When a star is celebrated, why can none of the fawning sycophants ever play us any track that varies in the slightest from a formulaic pop 4/4 allegro tedioso with all the musicality of a pneumatic drill? This track is rather fun by comparison.

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When to trust a startup: Does size count?

Nick Kew
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Um, a company of any size can lose interest, stop supporting whatever they've flogged you. Whether it's a tech that's failed in the market like betamax, or just a winding down as with windows versions reaching a certain age.

Open source offers some protection. Open source with a thriving and diverse development community is the gold standard for ensuring your investment won't prove a dead end. Invest in a startup delivering an Apache project and you have two layers of assurance beyond the company itself: the source to work with, and independent developers to give continuity if the startup itself dies.

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Barbie-brained Mattel exec phell for phishing, sent $3m to China

Nick Kew
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Cross-border cooperation

Sounds like it didn't take too much effort to persuade the chinese bank in question to block its dodgy client.

What's the chance a US bank would be so cooperative in response to a request from a Chinese victim?

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Internet users don't understand security or privacy, says survey

Nick Kew
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Thumb Down

I was about to post that. Though with the added caveat that this survey doesn't have to have been half so devious as Sir Humphrey to get the answers it wants.

The Reg should be ashamed of publishing vague articles like this. It's simply meaningless without telling us the actual questions asked.

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Confused by crypto? Here's what that password hashing stuff means in English

Nick Kew
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Re: "To obtain a certificate from a CA you have to convince them of your credentials"

The CA model is broken, as demonstrated by a fair few incidents reported in El Reg and other techie media.

In the absence of a WoT made simple enough for Joe Public, a move to a distributed trust authority is overdue. M-Pin gives us the framework for that.

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London's $40m 'flash crash' trader is to face extradition to the US

Nick Kew
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If there's a crime exposed by this, it's the bots that saw his orders and front-ran them. And the system that allows orders to be seen by third parties in time for that to happen! The fact he could make millions tricking them just goes to show how much those parasites bleed out of honest investors, such as our pension funds.

But the beneficiaries of those keep the judiciary in their pockets, both sides of the atlantic. This poor bugger failed to grease the right palms.

Once upon a time, I heard a story of someone who had baited a 419 scammer. He could help a fellow-member of his church and suggested the scammer join and he'd help. So he got a joining fee out of the 419-er. Seems to me what this guy did is morally much the same as that!

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Hands on with the BBC's Micro:Bit computer. You know, for kids

Nick Kew
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Re: The same memory as the BBC Micro Model A of 15 years ago...

But will it still run Elite?

I want The Valley!

(seriously, I'd love to play with that again, if only to see how something that looked so infeasibly huge to have fitted into 32Kb then looks in an era of gigabytes).

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Mystery Kindle update will block readers from books after Wednesday

Nick Kew
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Re: Not very user friendly

Damn, I can just see the headache as I sort my dad out, while he moans on and on about technology never working.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Non-cloudy thinking

Cloud is extra specially pointless for books. You could carry all the books you'll ever own on one microSD card.

Yeah, I love having my precious collection all on a single point of failure.

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HERE: We're still, er... HERE

Nick Kew
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Re: Quite an uphill battle on iOS and Android

Google maps are still at best a pain forcing you (at best) to jump through hoops if you want to use maps without a data connection - and a huge bill to use them internationally.

I'd call that a killer advantage for Nokia maps as was. I still have an old Symbian 'phone which I take with me abroad just to have decent maps which I know won't slurp data unbidden. Using it on the android 'phone would leave me vulnerable to launching google maps accidentally in a "senior moment".

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Snowden WAS the Feds' quarry in Lavabit case, redaction blunder reveals

Nick Kew
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Big Brother

Scope for conspiracy theory.

Failure to run that search until it returns a blank ... implausible.

A fat-finger final search for Snodwen. Or an over-used search function in Word/whatever failing silently with EALLOC after the previous ten thousand searches in the session. Don't say there isn't a second person to double-check something like that independently? Oh, right, the PHB checked it, found the error, corrected it, then published the uncorrected version.

Or a false flag? Give the world what it expects to find so they won't look deeper and just possibly stumble upon .... [fill in the blank]. Smiley would see that as perfectly mundane.

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Rocky times for startups: Mutual funds devalue and VCs turn off money hose

Nick Kew
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Re: "But the bluster of Silicon Valley, combined with the fact that no one loses and everyone gains"

So you have a touch of the London sickness, but is it anything new there? It's fully 30 years ago I was dangled the promise of north of $150k for an assignment elsewhere in California (OK, JPL in Pasadena) and told I'd need it to cover the rent. Never happened 'cos the company in question messed up, but I still recollect the staggering money.

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Nick Kew
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Just a month ago ...

Just last month, the headline was Microsoft buys Swiftkey, with nice profits for its VC backers.

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Crap IT means stats crew don't really know how UK economy's doing

Nick Kew
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Goodhart's Law

This is the time-honoured tradition of fiddling the books. Goodhart's law applies, and measured GDP has long-since passed its use-by date, and reached a peak of systematic bias in the Blair Feelgood bubble of a decade ago when it was massively overstated.

Now it seems we're going to leverage up the con. Put the whole bias on steroids; create a new Derivative product from Goodhart. Could this be a panic response to the apparent ending of the bubble in Prime London property sales to the foreign super-rich that has served as a crutch to the stats since the big crash?

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We’re so over Uber: Italy ponders slapping taxes on workers in the ‘sharing economy’

Nick Kew
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A Big Issue.

Indeed, if you accept the principle of taxation in the first place[1] then the rules should apply to everyone. Including Uber drivers. And Big Issue sellers, ebay traders, et al. If their overall income falls below the threshold for tax then they pay nothing, but that's a different issue.

[1] I do, in principle. Just not the way they spend most of it in reality, nor the way they penalise hard-earned income compared to unearned income or - worst - rentierism.

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Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

Nick Kew
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Orwell said it (more or less) ...

All sexes are equal, but some sexes are more equal than others.

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Global crypto survey proves govt backdoors completely pointless

Nick Kew
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1999 vs now

Actually even in 1999 crypto solutions were widely available to anyone who cared enough to download them. The main difference was the historic exclusion of the US from much of the community because of the legacy of silly export laws.

Then as now it was trivial to a geek. But now as then, there's a big non-techie public who will only get crypto by buying a product that supports it. That's the public some politicians expect to control.

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Let Europeans sue America for slurping their data – US Senate

Nick Kew
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Alert

Feed Our Lawyers

You and I might have a right to sue Uncle Sam. But who will sponsor it? A mere hundred million warchest would leave you entirely exposed to being bankrupted long before you got a result.

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ARM pumps fist as profits soar, warns of weaker hand in 2016

Nick Kew
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ARM was trading in a range of about 80p-120p when the iphone first came out. Even for a while after, as Apple wasn't telling the City what technology they had inside (even if it was perfectly obvious to readers of El Reg that ARM must be in there). It only started shooting up when Apple let on.

So yes, the City has form on linking Apple and ARM, and we shouldn't be surprised if they keep doing it. I'm happy to hold stock bought at under 90p, and might top up if it wasn't already my biggest single holding.

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SCO slapped in latest round of eternal 'Who owns UNIX?' lawsuit

Nick Kew
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Devil

Dickens understated it

Jarndyce and Jarndyce finally ended when the legal fees devoured the entire Jarndyce estate.

SCO vs world+dog appears to go on long after death.

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Microsoft buys SwiftKey, Britain's 'stealthiest software startup'

Nick Kew
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Re: I think they cashed out at the right time

Makes for a nice dividend, due to appear in our accounts in late April. The principal VC backers are among those raising more funds right now, if you want your share of the action in the next story.

It probably is the right time for the founders to cash in: there's only so long a techie wants to work on a particular project before moving on. But (Ian 55) not sustainable? Isn't that comment premised on the supposition that they stand still and lack the imagination that built a successful product in the first place? In which case, it applies throughout the tech industry: you can't stand still.

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GCHQ spies quashed this phone encryption because it was too good against snoopers

Nick Kew
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Re: Well I am really surprised

@Smooth Newt

That cryptic phrase is there to serve sympathetic politicians, journos, etc, looking to quote from an authoritative source in support of their cause.

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Tell us what's wrong with the DMCA, says US Copyright office

Nick Kew
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It's a weapon of terror

as documented in the story at DMCA: terror weapon

(yes, that's a pointer to my blog).

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Flare-well, 2015 – solar storm to light up skies on New Year's Eve

Nick Kew
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Re: Never mind the US

Weather forecast surprisingly has us down for clear skies tomorrow evening. At least in this part of the UK. I might actually make the effort to go out there!

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Beyond iTunes: XML boffins target sheet music

Nick Kew
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Re: The browser is the least of the problems...

I'll second that MuseScore recommendation. And I thought MusML was working fine, having successfully exchanged music with a friend using different composition software.

But I have to take issue with what you say about the screen. Yes, it's limiting if you're trying to score for substantial forces[1]. But so is paper: composers through the ages have had to deal with the limitations of the medium! And the 'puter has all the familiar advantages: edit and zoom, to name but two of the most obvious. And then when you have a presentation copy, you export it to PDF.

[1] I've written for forces up to chorus and medium-sized orchestra using musescore on 13" macbook. Part of that was double-chorus, which tipped the screen size issue from an irritation to a serious pain, and I never finished that part.

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EU privacy watchdog calls for new controls on surveillance tech export

Nick Kew
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@DrSyntax Re: Can we export GCHQ instead?

I don't see it featuring in the EU debate. It's one of those issues where the EU is pretty consistently more aligned with the people than the UK government. Can't see any of them wanting to talk about it. Probably not even Corbyn, let alone anyone with the ear of the meeja like Cameron or Farage.

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