* Posts by Mark Dempster

116 posts • joined 6 Feb 2008

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Guess who doesn't have to pay $1.3bn in back taxes? Of course it's fscking Google

Mark Dempster

Re: Basic accountancy problem

>So perhaps we ought to just give up on taxing company profit, and slightly raise VAT & payroll taxes to compensate?<

So you want to move the tax burden even further from the corporates onto our own shoulders? That doesn't sound like a very good idea...

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Sailor Moon? More like sail to the Moon: Japan vows to set foot on lunar soil by 2030

Mark Dempster

Re: Just ONE astronaut?

>Just one guy, though? I don't think they've really thought this through enough.<

I don't have any more insight to their plans than you do, but what you're failing to consider is that AI/autonomous flight is far, far more advanced now than it was during the Apollo days. The spacecraft could probably do a better job of docking with each other, etc, than a human pilot could.

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Fasthosts' week to forget: 4-day virtual server summer bummer

Mark Dempster

Having worked there myself for a while, as an Operations Manager, I too am surprised that anyone stays with them. I left because I couldn't live with myself in relation to the company's attitude toward customers - the system reimaging the customer servers to an 'as new' state happened all the time, and it's only then that most customers realised that backups weren't part of the service...

I've never seen another company with a worse staff turnover problem. While it meant promotion could be quite quick for some, lack of experience was always an issue (they only pay well for certain VERY technical roles). The shift patterns for the 24/7 areas were unbearable. There was little or no training on their unique infrastructure. And management were very good at shifting blame onto those lower down the ladder, even if the reasons were very tenuous.

I gained some useful experience of managing a very large infrastructure (20,000 physical & 40,000 virtual servers when I was there), but it's not a place I regret leaving...

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Microsoft admits to disabling third-party antivirus code if Win 10 doesn't like it

Mark Dempster

Re: '34 years of development - Windows 10 is the result'

>Until the balance suddenly tips, and people actually see Linux for what it is, a decent OS.<

In order to succeed on the desktop, Linux has to lose what its supporters evangelise over so much - choice. When there are so many distros and so many GUIs to choose from, that all do things in slightly different ways, you're not going to get the standardisation that business requires to make their users productive (standard training courses or manuals, etc).

In order for corporates to adopt it you'll also want compatibility with (or at least a close alternative to) Active Directory and Group Policy. Bake those into the OS and it might stand a chance; without it, support costs go through the roof.

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Worried about election hacking? There's a technology fix – Helios

Mark Dempster

Re: @Voland "Because you can"

>On election day, you have more than 20+ items.<

I think we're talking mainly about UK elections, which aren't done in such a confusing way as in the US. You just have one sheet of paper (maybe 2 if there's both a local and general election on the same day) and you mark an 'X' next to your preferred candidate's name.

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Mark Dempster

Re: "Because you can"

>Actually in Germany we have paper ballots, they are counted by volunteers. Polling stations close at 18:00, and most polling places finish counting at about 18:30-19:00. In time for the 20:00 news there's already a "preliminary official end result".<

Do you have a relatively small number of polling stations in Germany that people have to travel to? Or are they counted in the polling station itself? In a typical constituency of the UK it would take more time than that just to get the ballot boxes from the individual stations to the counting location.

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Insert coin: Atari retro console is coming back

Mark Dempster

>If it's a retro console they are planning on building then there are already plug into a TV joysticks that come with loads of Atari games on them (not sure of the legality of them though) so why it would be years in the making I can't understand.<

It's always possible that they're just going to repackage the same tech under the official Atari brand name.

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Elon Musk reveals Mars colony rocket capable of bringing pizza joints to the red planet

Mark Dempster

Re: So many flaws

>We need to make fairer (the USA, less than 13% of world population, consume 75% resources) and better use of this planet rather than trying to colonise a totally unsuitable one, with an elite of less than 0.0001%, probably more likely 0.0000001% of people.<

There's no reason to believe that these people will be the 'elite'; they'd be giving up very comfortable conditions on Earth for a lifetime of hardship, after all. But the point you're missing is that Musk is talking about protection against an extinction-level event; massive asteroid impact, global nuclear war, or whatever. No matter how nice you make Earth before such an event, it doesn't help; the only chance of survival is simply not being there.

But that does assume that the Mars colony reaches a point where they're no longer reliant on resupply from Earth, of course...

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Labour says it will vote against DUP's proposed TV Licence reforms

Mark Dempster

>The BBC has gone so much downhill that it might as well get the coup de grace.

Most of its good stuff isn't made in-house anyway.<

I'd agree that the news/political analysis is far from what it used to be. But the only reason that so much of its content is outsourced these days is because the government forces them to. Probably a few MPs who have shares in TV production companies...

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Voyager 1 passes another milestone: It's now 138AU from home

Mark Dempster

Re: Not sure what they used...

>The Z80 wouldn't have been released in time for this mission and certainly wasn't rad-hard.<

Interestingly there WAS a radiation-hardened version of the Z80 available at one time; I remember a magazine article claiming that a few had accidentally found their way into ZX81s!

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Lockheed, USAF hold breath as F-35 pilots report hypoxia

Mark Dempster

Re: O2 many issues

>I think would it have been cheaper to equip the carriers with catapults and conventional aircraft than to flush money down the crapper on the shoddy F35's.<

From the outset, yes you're probably right. But existing catapults rely on steam generators. The US carriers are nuclear powered, so generating steam is easy. The UK carriers aren't, so would need separate steam generation facilities - and there's no room.

They were built with the 'capability' of being retro-fitted with electric catapults, but that technology's not been developed yet...

We'd probably have been better off retaining the Harriers until the new catapults are available, instead of selling them to the yanks for £1

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Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?

Mark Dempster

>"At least with the IRA,... they were not anxious to kill a lot of people,"

That's not what it seemed like at the time. MI5 weren't involved in day-to-day murder investigations so she might not have noticed.<

To be fair to them, although they were pretty brutal in Ireland they did give warnings for *most* (not all!) of their mainland bombings, meaning the buildings could usually be evacuated. Looking back at it now it seems almost civilised, in terrorist terms at least.

And that is NOT to say I condone their actions, or those of any other groups.

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Tech can do a lot, Prime Minister, but it can't save the NHS

Mark Dempster

Re: £10bn isn’t as much as it sounds either.

>And let's not forget that Labor under Bliar handed out about £15Bn to contractors ("pumped into NHS IT" is misleading BS) to get systems better. IIRC the big win was Xray and MI machines going fully digital. Useful certainly, but worth £15Bn?<

I don't agree with a lot of what Blair did, but when Labour came to power last time & invested in the NHS waiting times for operations dropped from 20 months to 18 weeks. Targets to be treated within A&E were introduced, and were consistently met by all hospitals. Since the cuts, the tories have lowered those target figures significantly and STILL every hospital in the country is missing them.

The tories simply don't believe in the NHS - they see it as an expense, rather than an investment in the health of the population.

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Mark Dempster

Re: Money is the solution

>Why not compare the NHS to the German, French or Norwegian systems instead of picking the most morally bankrupt system you could think of? The NHS isn't that good when you compare like with like...<

Well one good reason is that Jeremy Hunt has spent an awful lot of time lately meeting with US Healthcare Insurers. Coincidence?

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Mark Dempster

Re: Spawn Of Satan

>Much as I dislike May the alternatives are all politicians too, they are also more likely to steal the money and assets I have accrued over my working lifetime so I can pay my way when I retire. I'll happily pay more tax on my income, pretty average, but being penalised for saving rather than pissing everything away is not something I can vote for.<

You've just described tory policy - not any of the alternatives. Are you aware of that?

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Mark Dempster

Re: “the most ambitious programme of investment in buildings and technology the NHS has ever seen”

Let's not forget that the tories plan to implement the Naylor Report - which will force the NHS to sell off many of its buildings & land.

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Mark Dempster

Re: The long-term cost no one talks about..

>Although it will hit the deficit I think paying off these PFI's will actually save money in the long run.<

Rather than paying them off I think we should find legal recourse to come out of what are plainly very unfair contracts. Their original investment has already been paid off many times over - time to stop them fleecing us

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Mark Dempster

>Labour plans to increase the annual NHS England budget by £11bn a year. Given three health think tanks reckon it needs £30bn extra in five years' time to stand still given the healthcare inflation problem (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/127abc06-4a19-11e7-a7b8-5e01acd01516) the same funding shortfall largely applies.<

They also plan to get rid of the far-more-expensive privatised services & bring them in-house again, freeing up more money. The extra funding for social care will also reduce current levels of bed-blocking, which is a major expense

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Trident nuke subs are hackable, thunders Wikipedia-based report

Mark Dempster

Re: Boom

>So you're incorrect. It's an independent deterrent until the US refuse to cooperate on maintenance. At which point the missiles have a ten year rated lifespan, and we usually have 2 or 3 boats loaded at any one time. So we could probably maintain a credible reduced deterrent for 6 months to a couple of years.

So not enough to get a replacement solution in place, but long enough that the US can't cut us off at the knees halfway through a crisis.<

And that maintainance is only a contractual obligation. I'd be VERY surprised if the Navy didn't have people with the required skills available to do the work if needed.

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Mark Dempster

Re: Boom

>Even if it were possible to launch, it wouldn't get far - our American cousins are required to provide guidance once it breaks the surface. It's only an independent deterrent to the extent we choose when and where to park it....and the US doesn't get to launch them without our approval.<

There is a HUGE amount of misinformation out there about our deterrent, and your comment is part of it!

1. We do NOT need US permission/codes to launch; it would probably be impossible to get that at time of war anyway! If the sub commander believes the UK government has been 'compromised' then he opens his sealed orders and acts accordingly

2. NO external guidance is required whatsoever. Trident uses an inertial guidance system. The missile is launched towards its target using the most accurate data available at the time. Once the missile reaches an appropriate altitude it takes sightings of several stars and makes any course corrections that might be necessary.

It would be wonderful if posting this meant that I'd never have to correct someone on it againb, but experience proves that that won't be the case...

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Mark Dempster

Re: Boom

>The reply will be a quick conversion of most of the UK to a glass lake. 16 missiles versus 1600. Not a pretty math.<

Which is why Trident can carry multiple independently-targeted warheads per missile; up to 12 each I believe, although 8 is the norm. Of course the Russians also have similar capability and more missiles, but it's overkill. What we have is enough to inflict huge damage on them, which is a sufficient deterrent to make a first strike unthinkable (except for the current crop of Tories, it appears...)

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Another ZX Spectrum modern reboot crowdfunder pops up

Mark Dempster

Re: Rick Dickinson

>So will it run OLD games with no colour clash?<

No. As it says on the website.

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30,000 London gun owners hit by Met Police 'data breach'

Mark Dempster

>Everyone is talking about the breach. What about the numbers? Why are the 25,000 shotguns in London? How many have shortened barrels and live in the back of Ford Transits?<

I'm finding it hard to decide whether this is a poor attempt at a joke, or you really don't understand what's being discussed...

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Mark Dempster

Re: FFS

>By law here in GrumpenLand, guns have to be kept in seriously heavy safes. How is that in the UK? Asking because if firearms can be extracted without opening a safe, the chances for targeted break ins are even higher.<

The actual requirement for security isn't stipulated nationally, but is down to your local Chief Constable. Some forces insist on VERY stringent measures, with thick steel cases that have to be firmly fixed to the structure of the building using tamperproof bolts etc, anti-pick locks, lock & ammo stored separately, and various other measures. Some will accept a wooden case with a simple lock. Remember also that there's a distinction between a firearm and a shotgun; the rules on shotguns are usually more lax.

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NASA agent faces heat for 'degrading' moon rock sting during which grandmother wet herself

Mark Dempster

Re: Why does the US care if people own bits of the Moon?

Russia returned samples from the moon robotically, although after Apollo 11 got there.

As for NASA's rocks, we have some of them in the UK (held by PPARC) which regularly go out on loan to schools etc. I'd be very surprised if they still have 100% of what they started with!

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Boeing details 'Deep Space Gateway' for Mars mission staging

Mark Dempster

Re: More USS Gravy Train than USS Enterprise

React. Impressive though the various Mars rovers have been, they have very limited range and analysis capabilities. Just look at the distance actually travelled by them on the surface, and how long it's taken them to do that; it's a surprisingly small distance. A human could probably do more in a few days, even on foot. With some kind of transport to take them to interesting-looking sites, much more.

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81's 99 in 17: Still a lotta love for the TI‑99/4A – TI's forgotten classic

Mark Dempster

Re: Was it really so short lived?

It was only MADE for 3 years, but sold so badly they were in UK shops for a lot longer...

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SQL Server on Linux? HELL YES! Linux on Windows 10? Meh

Mark Dempster

Re: Windows ME was worse

There was a lot of software that either didn't work on ME, or needed a lot of messing about to get working. I remember Sage Line 100 being something I had to do a lot of work with at the time, as well as the Swan ERP system that was based on it.

Strangely it worked better on the NT-based kernels, although the users had to have local admin rights (same was true for a LOT of Windows software back then)

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Mark Dempster

Re: why not just run Ubuntu and put Windows in the virtual machine?

>Battery life is around 6 to 7 hours. Which is about 2-3 hours more than Windows 10 because of better CPU management.<

That's an unusual experience; battery life in Linux / Win10 is most commonly the other way around

>Also, do a clean install of Windows on any OEM machine and I guarantee most of them won't even have networking unless you download the required drivers from the manufacturers website.<

That very much depends on how old your Windows installation media is, just as it would for Linux

>Id say out of the box, by default, Linux supports more common hardware. Especially network cards.<

It has a lot of generic drivers, which might *just about* work for particular hardware, but often it's not well optimised.

>Granted Wifi on Linux can be poor, but to be fair if you end up buying a laptop with poorly supported hardware your research failed not Linux.<

But aren't you arguing the opposite in Window's case?

>Finally, if you sir are struggling to spec a laptop to fit the requirements of a piece of software then you sir are not fit for this community.<

But should you really need to in 2017? Surely it should all just work.

Linux has its uses, and its devoted fans, but it has a long way to go before it can be properly manageable in a corporate desktop environment. The very flexibility/customisability that its fans love count heavily against it - and the same is true for non-techie home users too.

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ExoMars update: Schiaparelli probe's parachute malfunctioned

Mark Dempster

Re: "should have tested"

>they could have shot it off the bottom of a plane, using some gas, like an ejector seat, 1 fail in a 100 and its time to redesign<

Firstly, I think they'd be very happy with a success rate much, much lower than 99%...

Secondly, testing in Earth atmosphere at any speed, especially after not enduring the months of travel in vacuum, is hardly a comparable test.

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Why Theresa May’s hard Brexit might be softer than you think

Mark Dempster

Re: 2 years?

>I'm still not convinced that Brexit should take 2 years. We hold all the cards.<

The only way that we hold all the cards is if it's a game where the object is to get rid of them

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Ransomware brutes smacked 1 in 3 NHS trusts last year

Mark Dempster

It's not that easy...

At my own workplace I've had to recover from 2 ransomware attacks over the last few months. Both arrived as an email apparently from a trusted source that the users dealt with regularly, so had no reason to be suspicious of. I scanned the attachment later with 3 different AV packages, and none found a problem.

Very glad that my backups were working well at the time...

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Bank robber reveals identity – by using his debit card during crime

Mark Dempster

Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank @ x 7

>There's a certain amount of truth in that, but I don't think you should be too complacent. The US has about the same, maybe slightly more doctors per capita than the UK. And in which developed country has the Red Cross recently described the state health service as suffering a "humanitarian crisis"? I live near one the hospitals particularly singled out for criticism, and my other half works in the NHS, and I know for a fact the situation is really, really bad. I'd rather become ill in the US than in Worcestershire.<

There is definitely a crisis in the NHS, brought about by the last 6 years of government deliberately running it into the ground in order that they can propose rescuing it by full privatisation. However, for the time being the health service is still free at the point of access. Did you know that the most common cause of bankruptcy in the states is medical bills? Even a heart attack can easily cost $1m.

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Could YOU survive a zombie apocalypse? Uni eggheads say you'd last just 100 days

Mark Dempster

Re: What an incredibly simplistic mathematical model.

>I'm not a biologist (or fan of zombie fiction). But it seems to me that zombies can only walk and there are a large number of inhabited islands on the planet.

Just so long as someone remembers to close the channel tunnel, I don't think we'd be troubled. Though having to become self-sufficient might be a bit of a shock to some.<

Ah, but it seems likely that zombies don't breath. Which means they could potentially walk across the seabed in order to get to other islands, etc. Maybe also infecting fish; you could be attacked by a zombie cod while fishing for food...

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Christmas Eve ERP migration derailed by silly spreadsheet sort

Mark Dempster

Re: Ah, Excel sorting

>Most spreadsheets (including Excel) allow you to modify the format of a column (/row/cell) to allow it to keep the leading zero. It's up to the user to pick the appropriate format themselves.<

But that's only temporary formatting. Try saving it as a CSV, ready to import into something else - then decide you need to edit a little more. When you open that CSV in Excel the leading zeros are all gone

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Support chap's Sonic Screwdriver fixes PC as user fumes in disbelief

Mark Dempster

It's the EM field!

Many years ago, in the early days of PCs in the workplace, I worked for the local County Council.

There was one young guy in the office who, after finishing whatever he was doing on the one PC (a genuine green-screen IBM AT!) would always push himself away from the computer desk, & ride his chair as far as he could towards his own desk.

One day I found myself stood right behind the machine as he did so, and quickly pulled the monitor power lead out of the socket on the PC; he noticed the screen go blank as he was rolling away, and expressed his surprise.

\I moved around to the front of the machine & pretended to investigate the problem without success, before the penny dropped that I'd read about this sort of thing happening. I explained to him that a PC monitor creates a strong electromagnetic field around itself when it's working, and that it can extend out from the equipment by up to 2 or 3 feet. By moving away from the PC so quickly while fully-immersed in the field, he'd actually pulled it away from the computer and broken it! If we were really lucky it might still be enveloping him while sat on the chair...

For the next 10 minutes or so I had him flinging himself and chair at the PC at various speeds and angles in the hope that the EM field would be hurled from him back into the monitor - which it eventually was, when I slipped the cable back in...

He still believed what I'd told him years later, probably still does.... ;-)

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Blue sky basic income thinking is b****cks

Mark Dempster

Not a well thought-out article. All the tax avoidance measures that are claimed will prevent UBI working are already happening in the current system. That needs to be clamped down on, whether we stay as we are, move to UBI or anything else.

As others have pointed out, UBI is meant to provide the income required for a basic standard of living; many people will choose to work as well to top up that income, but possibly only for a few hours a month. There will be a lot more job sharing than we currently have as a result.

And under UBI what's wrong with people not working if that's what they choose? Everyone gets the same base income, and if you choose to work as well you have a better standard of living. Seems quite logical to me.

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Meet Hyper.is – the terminal written in HTML, JS and CSS

Mark Dempster

Re: Dumb terminal

>What exactly is wrong with my VT220 ?<

Porn looks rubbish on it. It's also probably rather dirty after all these years - bit of a health risk!

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Ransomware scum offer free decryption if you infect two mates

Mark Dempster

Re: @MyBackDoor

>I am constantly bleating this horn and next to nobody is listening : the only valid backup system for Joe User is the optical disk. Use DVDs or BluRay, I don't care, but write your data on something that cannot be changed afterwards.<

You have a point, but if the ransomware has been sitting on your system for a while before activating its payload, then your recent backups will also be infected. For many companies, the last week's (or other time period) data is the most important of all, and yet it's too risky to restore.

That does depend on the nature of the backup, of course. But even if you only backup your documents it's quite feasible for one of them to have a macrothat triggers a ransomware download.

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ESA to try tank-to-tank fuel switch on sat that wasn't designed to do it

Mark Dempster

Re: Here's hoping it works

>The main difference being that while NASA would make a film sending Bruce Willis up to it, ESA would make a film with Benedict Cumberbatch thinking how to solve it from the ground<

Actually they made that film (Space Cowboys) which starred Clint Eastwood & several other well-known pensionable actors. Utter rubbish if you look at it with an even slightly critical eye, but quite enjoyable otherwise

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90 per cent of the UK's NHS is STILL relying on Windows XP

Mark Dempster

Re: Maybe they should consider going over to Linux?

>Long time support in Linux is 5 years, but again, you do not get the same hassle you get with Windows upgrades, where half the printers in the office (for example) are no longer supported after the upgrade ....<

Probably becasue half the printers in the office never have a linux driver unless you're prepared to write your own,anyway

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Mark Dempster

Re: Extended support?

>And people wonder why the NHS is in so much debt.

It's in debt because people expect it to provide more treatment than it can do on the budget it's given by this Tory government. You know, the one that says it's given an extra £10bn, although noone can find more than £4bn in the accounts. And that is funded by a further £22bn of 'efficiency' - cuts, in other words. So the £10bn extra is actually £17.5bn less. And those cuts more than account for any so-called 'debt'.

So it has very little to do with continuing to use XP. Which they can't afford to replace anyway.

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UK Parliament waves through 'porn-blocking' Digital Economy Bill

Mark Dempster

Re: Stazi

Nobody but TORY MPs

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Microsoft ❤️ Linux? Microsoft ❤️ running its Windows' SQL Server software on Linux

Mark Dempster

Re: Should work well

Well, the FIRST version of SQL Server was a rebadged Sybase - I ran that on OS/2 & the NT 3.1 a long, long time ago - but they rewrote it from scratch soon afterwards

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Capita STILL hasn't delivered usable Army recruitment IT system

Mark Dempster

Re: So long as Capita provides continuing Financial Support to the Tories ...

>So how does that explain the fat, easy money years they enjoyed under the governance of Blair and Brown?<

It's fairly easy to argue that Blair was really in the wrong party, and successfully transformed the Labour party into a 'softer' version of the Tories - so their policies continued. Corbyn is struggling to put that right due to resistance from MPs parachuted into position by Blair.

I think Brown's heart was in the right place, but once in the top job he had his hands too full dealing with the world crash to make any impact on anything else.

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Chinese 'nauts blast off for month-long space station scouting mission

Mark Dempster

UK

>@esme - well official UK government policy is that our space programme is strictly an unmanned one. So we're just not in that race at all (rightly or wrongly - discuss!)<

That used to be the case, but the UK actually paid for Tim Peake - so he became the first Brit who didn't need to change nationality to go into space

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Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works

Mark Dempster

Universal Basic Income

I think a few people are missing the point about basic income. The idea is that it's set at a level that means no-one HAS to work if they don't want to; their basic needs are covered. Much like (in theory, if not in practice) unemployment benefit, etc. It also removes the need for the welfare system as it is now, as we all get it (I imagine the severely .disabled might need additional help, but it does come down to what level the UBI is set at)

A certain proportion of the population will still want to work, to top up their income so that they can have whatever luxuries they'd like. Or just for their own personal satisfaction. Increasingly, though, full-time employment won't be needed (or, indeed, available) - so larger numbers of people might work a few hours each.

It's getting toward the nirvana promised in Star Trek, without all the whizzing around space. It's a great idea in theory, but might be very difficult to transition to. The countries that are planning to experiment with it will be very much worth watching.

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Mark Dempster

Re: Automation hasn't happened so quickly as now and not everyone's cut out to be a rocket scientist

Unemployment is only under 5% if you:

1. Sanction large numbers of welfare claimants for very dubious reasons, thus taking them off the unemployment statistics

2. Force people to go self-employed, with no guarantee of any income

3. Force others onto zero hour contracts - where they may have earned NOTHING this week, but aren't allowed to claim benefits. They may have a clause in that contract that forbids them from working elsewhere, as it limits their availability for work. And if they resign from the job they have 'made themselves unemployed' and so can't claim anything either

THIS is why food banks are everywhere these days. In what is supposedly the 5th richest nation in the world.

Not to mention all the long-term sick who have to be assessed on a regular basis for their ability to work. Do you have any idea how many people (it's in the thousands) have died within weeks of being pronounced fit to work?

But no, you carry on believing that we have near full employment if that makes you feel better...

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UK will build new nuclear bomb subs, says Defence Secretary

Mark Dempster

I think you need to do a bit more reading up on the subject. Each of the current class of submarine carries 92 independently-targetted warheads - seems to negate your 'we dont even have that many nukes so what use are they really' comment...

There's no way that ANY defensive missile system or jet fighter will take out an ICBM - they travel way too high & too fast - I think you're assuming they're something closer to cruise missiles. And the individual warheads would be even harder to target.

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Sage advice: Avoid the Windows 10 Anniversary Update – it knackers our accounting app

Mark Dempster

Re: "operating system updates end up disabling the framework"

Sage isn't an MS product. It's well-enough established in the UK that you'd think one of them would have tested it, though...

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