* Posts by Chris Miller

3384 posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Brit mobile phone users want the Moon on a stick but then stay on same networks for aeons

Chris Miller
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"O2 customers are the slowest to upgrade their phones, despite being the first to decouple the hire purchase of the phone from the airtime."

I'm with O2, paying only for airtime because I don't need (or want to pay for) a new phone every 24 months.

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What's all the C Plus Fuss? Bjarne Stroustrup warns of dangerous future plans for his C++

Chris Miller
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A real Stroustrop joke*

I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.

* but was he joking?

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Dinosaurs permitted to mate: But what does AT&T Time merger mean for antitrust – and you?

Chris Miller
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Re: What does it mean to me?

This is much bigger deal in the US than (say) in the UK, because many USizens don't have an effective choice of ISP. If I don't like the deal that my UK ISP offers me, whether on straight price/performance or for other services that may be bundled with it, it's simple to change to another (albeit the actual signal will probably be carried over the same copper/fibre, probably owned by BT). For reasons partly historical and partly geographical, this isn't as straightforward in much of the US.

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Tech rookie put decimal point in wrong place, cost insurer zillions

Chris Miller
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Testing?

We've heard of it!

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watchOS 5 hints at new Apple wearables and life beyond the Watch

Chris Miller
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Re: "yes, they still make Teasmades"

Tea from 'coffee machines' is almost always ghastly, because they use ghastly 'leaf' with water that isn't boiling. But the operation of a Teasmade produces steam before the boiling water, which acts to warm the pot (good), so the quality of the tea is largely determined by the quality of the leaf being used.

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The glorious uncertainty: Backup world is having a GDPR moment

Chris Miller
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Gosh

You mean legislators have no understanding of the technology they're legislating about?

#sayitaintso

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Braking news: Tesla preps firmware fling to 'fix' Model 3's inability to stop in time

Chris Miller
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AFAIK, the 'stopping distances' chart in the UK 'Highway Code' hasn't changed since the first edition* - when a typical family saloon had drum brakes, operating on cross-ply tires a few inches wide.. There's no reason for the 'thinking distance' to change, but the braking distance really ought to be around half (or, more accurately, the assumed rate of deceleration should be doubled).

* It certainly hasn't changed since I took my test nearly 50 years ago.

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Honor bound: Can Huawei's self-cannibalisation save the phone biz?

Chris Miller
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Re: Hmmm

Me too. But we used to be relatively rare exceptions, that's no longer the case.

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Admin needed server fast, skipped factory config … then bricked it

Chris Miller
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Back in the day, our Supreme Head of Information Technology arrived from the States, but forgot to bring the power brick for her laptop. Instead of ringing the helpdesk, she decided to borrow a lead from hotel reception. Luckily it fitted; unluckily it was for a hairdryer and delivered 240V AC rather than 6V DC. I'd never seen a component physically blown off the motherboard before!

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TSB's middleware nightmare: Execs grilled on Total Sh*tshow at Bank

Chris Miller
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Obligatory Dilbert. (From more than 20 years ago, nothing changes!)

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UK rocket-botherers rattle SABRE, snaffle big bucks

Chris Miller
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In case anyone's wondering why they chose Bucks, Westcott was (until the mid-90s) a secret government rocket development site with all sorts of test-stands and control rooms. The venture park now occupying the former WW2 airfield is already home to several developers of private sector rocket engines, including SABRE.

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Apple store besieged by protesters in Paris 'die-in' over tax avoidance

Chris Miller
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Our French friends need to get with the programme - we're building a United States of Europe, whether its people want it or not. No-one in California protests against a business incorporating in Delaware, a choice normally made for financial reasons rather than for the beautiful weather in Dover. This is a dispute as to whether the democratically elected government of a country is allowed to set its own taxes. And, if you don't like the answer 'no', then you can always leave.

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How life started on Earth: Sulfur dioxide builds up, volcanoes blow, job done – boffins

Chris Miller
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Re: Curse you, Noah Webster!

The correct spelling of sulfur, as determined by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, is with an 'F'. In return, USians have agreed to spell aluminium correctly :).

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Are meta, self-referential or recursive science-fiction films doomed?

Chris Miller
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Your really need to read BtGH immediately after (or in parallel with) Starship Troopers to get the full effect.

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Chris Miller
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If Verhoeven wanted a satirical take on Starship Troopers, he should just have made Bill, the Galalctic Hero, which is much, much funnier.

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Super Cali goes ballistic, Starbucks is on notice: Expensive milky coffee is something quite cancerous

Chris Miller
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Re: They should put...

There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.

Edward Abbey (1927-89)

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Autonomous vehicle claims are just a load of hot air… and here's why

Chris Miller
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SOMETHING WHICKER THIS WAY COMES

Wotchoo got against the late, great Alan?

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Take the dashboard too literally and your brains might end up all over it

Chris Miller
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The only purpose of an oil pressure gauge was to let you know you were running out. This was in the good old days when all cars leaked oil, some in copious quantity others less so. But when did you last see a modern car with an oil leak*?

* No, Land Rover Defenders don't leak oil, they just like to mark their territory.

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User asked why CTRL-ALT-DEL restarted PC instead of opening apps

Chris Miller
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The DP manager's secretary complained that erroneous characters kept appearing in her documents. She was a well-endowed young lady, and we deduced that the keyboard was being depressed by parts of her anatomy that nature had not intended for such a purpose ...

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2 + 2 = 4, er, 4.1, no, 4.3... Nvidia's Titan V GPUs spit out 'wrong answers' in scientific simulations

Chris Miller
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Re: 3 <= 2 + 2 <= 5

2 + 2 = 5

(for sufficiently large values of '2')

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Transport for NSW scrambles to patch servers missing fixes released in 2007

Chris Miller
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I thought transportation to NSW ended in the 1860s ... oh, sorry, misread the headline.

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UK.gov urged to ensure punters can 'still roam like at home' after Brexit

Chris Miller
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Re: Oink, oink, flap, flap.

I see there are plenty of true believers in the magic free Internet theory still kicking around. They should surely set up their own telcos, since they 'just know' that all these things can be done for free, without any cost to the end users. Massive profits surely await them, since it's just evil capitalists that require payment for usage of their systems.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Oink, oink, flap, flap.

That's strange, my mobile provider allowed me to 'roam like at home' long before any grandstanding from the EU, and continues to do so in many countries outside the EU as well. How is that even possible without the EU to organise everything? Must be a miracle, I guess.

But of course, it was my free choice to adopt a tariff which gave me these abilities. By requiring all contracts to cover EU roaming, the EU is effectively forcing those who stay at home to subsidise those who travel a lot - whether for business or pleasure. Odd, isn't it?

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Android P will hear no evil, see no evil, support evil notches

Chris Miller
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Polo

To a USian is a type of shirt - they have Life Savers for mints.

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Reg man wraps head in 49-inch curved monitor

Chris Miller
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Re: Stuck with training wheels if you need them or not

I bow to your greater Visio expertise, it isn't a tool I've used much. Maybe it suffers from being (by origin) a non-MS product, but the problem you describe doesn't exist in Word or Excel (though it gets belly-ached about a great deal), which is where 99% of Office users live.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Stuck with training wheels if you need them or not

All Office products (and most MS products) now include a "Quick Access Toolbar" that allows you to place your frequently used actions just one click away, Right-click on your 'Rotate Shapes' icon and add it to the toolbar.

This is exactly what I mean, people haven't been given appropriate training (even if it's just an hour or so) on how to use a product - I can't imagine how many man-hours are wasted in this way, and it really bugs me.

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Chris Miller
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The Ribbon is intended to be like training wheels on a bike, once you've figured out where the actions you need reside, right click on it and minimise.

When I was responsible for supporting a couple of thousand Office users, I had a team of three dedicated trainers who offered free classes on how to use Word, Excel etc. I'm certain their activities allowed the helpdesk to operate with half the staff that would have been needed otherwise.

Now the assumption is that everyone 'just knows' - clearly that assumption is false.

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MIT gives one-star review to Lyft, Uber over abysmal '$3.37/hr' pay

Chris Miller
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Re: Judge by what people do, not what they say they want.

@AC - obviously, when I wrote "People (in general) are pretty canny", I wasn't thinking about brain-dead trolls, such as you. Equally obviously, all those people making money through Airbnb are morons, because they should really be factoring in the wear and tear on their home.

This site is rapidly becoming a parody of "Comment is free", populated by Momentum trolls.

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Chris Miller
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Re: Judge by what people do, not what they say they want.

A typical Guardian-esque assumption that people are too stupid to run around loose and need the state to take all their decisions for them (because, historically, that has worked so much better). The MIT study assumes full depreciation, servicing, insurance costs etc etc for the motors being used - which is what you need to factor in if you're a private hire business buying or leasing your own vehicles. But many of these drivers will be using a family car they already have, so their marginal costs are mainly fuel. That paints a rather different picture.

People (in general) are pretty canny when it comes to their own money., They may make a mistake and try out a gig for a week, but as soon as they identify it as a losing proposition, they'll stop,

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Swiss see Telly Tax as a Big Plus, vote against scrapping it

Chris Miller
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Is there anyone under 30 still paying a UK TV licence? The current model is clearly doomed, and will have to move to subscription sooner or later. I'm not necessarily claiming that will be a good thing, just that it's inevitable and the BBC had better be prepared to handle it.

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Home fibre in the UK sucks so much it doesn't even rank in Euro study

Chris Miller
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And many of those in giant blocks of flats - lay one fibre and you've connected 100 premises. While obstinate Brits insist on living in private houses.

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Yes, Assange, we'll still nick you for skipping bail, rules court

Chris Miller
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Re: "arguably wrong"

Some days it must really suck to be a QC.

You still get paid, though. A barrister's duty is to present the arguments in favour of their client in the best light that can be achieved. Even when those arguments are pathetically weak (as with Assange), they must still be presented. I expect both legal teams were well aware of the true position.

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Insurance companies now telling you what tech to buy with um-missable price signals

Chris Miller
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Re: Definition of an actuary

More properly:

Someone who always wanted to be an accountant, but lacked the personality for it.

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As Facebook pushes yet more fake articles, one news editor tells Mark to get a grip – or Zuck off

Chris Miller
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Re: Just a reminder.

Facebook would appear to be identifying this as "what people are saying". It is what people are saying. Those people may be deluded, or completely insane, but they''re definitely saying it.

Disclaimer: I only visit Facebook to keep up with friends from a former (now defunct) place I worked at. And I definitely don't inhale.

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Bring the people 'beautiful' electric car charging points, calls former transport minister

Chris Miller
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And they will all be powered by a mixture of unicorn tears and rocking-horse poo.

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Squeezing more out of slippery big tech may even take tax reforms

Chris Miller
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Who's got the cluestick?

Businesses pay taxes on profits*, not revenues. So saying "XYZ Corp paid only 0.1% of their revenues in tax" is completely meaningless. Even self-appointed tax scourge Margaret 'Enver' Hodge's own family business paid tiny amounts of tax on £10 billion of worldwide revenue, for the simple and obvious reason that they made a loss.

* And the tax is due where the profit is generated - it's very difficult to argue other than that Apple, Google etc generate most of their profits in the US.

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Court throws out BT's plans to reduce pension rates

Chris Miller
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@Aitor 1

As a result of tax changes Gordon Brown blundering about trying to find some more 'stealth' taxes. FIFY

BT pensioners may like to reflect on the fate of Equitable* customers, who also went to law to try to force their pension provider to pay them what they thought they were entitled to. They (and other Equitable customers) are now getting far less than they would have done had they accepted the deal they were offered.

* I'm not claiming the circumstances are identical or that neither business had done anything wrong. Just that 90% of the time, when you go to law, the only ones who benefit financially are the lawyers.

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Make Apple, er, America Great Again: iGiant to bring home profits, pay $38bn in repatriation tax

Chris Miller
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Re: Not surprized

International agreements on corporate taxation are (a) profits are taxed, not revenues (there's a good reason for this, if you think about it); and (b) they are due where the profits are made. It's difficult to argue other than the vast bulk of Apple's profits are generated in Cupertino. The US anomaly is that taxes are paid only when the monies are repatriated; and having an unusually high (by international standards) rate of corporate tax. Trump has fixed the latter issue, with the predictable results we now see.

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Chris Miller
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American companies with offshore operations previously faced the odd situation of having to pay tax in jurisdictions they make their money, then pay US taxes at 35 per cent on those profits too. Rather than pay twice, plenty left their cash offshore.

Are you sure about that? IANAtaxL, but I understood that, just as for US individuals, foreign taxes paid can be offset against US taxes due. Hence the EU tax grab is actually a raid on the US Treasury, not Apple's or Google's.

What happens if the EU repeats their retrospective tax grabs will be an interesting one for the lawyers.

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France may protect citizens' liberté with ban on foreigners buying local big data firms

Chris Miller
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But, but, but

The EU insists on the famous four "fundamental freedoms" (relating to movement of goods, services, capital and people) that are indivisible and unalterable. Which specifically includes the free movement of capital. Except in France, apparently (quelle surprise).

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Of course Uber allegedly had a tool to remotely destroy evidence

Chris Miller
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"the same xenomorph-ass-kicking Ripley from the Alien movie series"

Sounds more like The Talented Mr. Ripley to me.

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Here come the lawyers! Intel slapped with three Meltdown bug lawsuits

Chris Miller
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Re: @SkippyBing

I suspect Intel's "Tick/Tock" development model with releases being pegged to a particular date in time years before they are even developed contributes to the problem.

You may well be right. But that's just another aspect of the need to get your latest fastest model out into the market asap, otherwise customers will start switching to your competitors. We see the same problem with software being released before it's quite ready. Customers don't really want security (though they will scream about it, but only after the event): they can't see it, they can't measure it; it slows things down - and they're certainly not prepared to pay extra for it.

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Chris Miller
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@SkippyBing

Airbus software is not flawless, nor is Boeing or any other large, complex, safety-critical software. Humans can't write millions of lines of perfect code, and I suspect that doing so will always be infeasible.

But (of course) safety-critical systems are (or, at least, are capable of being) developed to higher standards than 'normal' software. It would be possible for Intel or any chip manufacturer to adopt similar development processes, but the effects would be to significantly slow development, while simultaneously increasing costs. It may be that there are loads of customers out there looking to pay a lot more for a chip that's two generations behind - but I somehow doubt it.

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Elon Musk lowers his mighty erection for test firing: Falcon Heavy preps for maiden voyage

Chris Miller
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Happy

Kiss goodbye to that roadster

Even if the launch goes perfectly.

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GIMPS crack whip on plucky processor to find largest prime number

Chris Miller
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Perfect

We also have the world's largest known perfect number:

277,232,916(277,232,917-1)

It's an open question whether there exist any odd perfect numbers, but any that do exist must be greater than 101500.

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'Twas the night before Y2K and a grinch stole the IT department's overtime payout

Chris Miller
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Re: Well

The company where I was working offered a one-off payment of £750 for anyone willing to sacrifice their 'new millennium' celebrations in order to be on call over the midnight of Y2k. This was all agreed early in 1999, even though we'd clearly demonstrated that there was no issue with our PCs or servers, by the simple process of setting the clocks forward to 31st Dec on a range of test systems and watching them rollover.

Then in mid-99 they decided to eliminate the European head office and manage all European ops direct from the New Jersey head office (try to imagine how well that worked out). But those who left still got their £750 on top of a quite generous severance package. Which made for a very happy new year.

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PHWOAR, those noughty inks: '0.1%' named Stat of The Year

Chris Miller
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Re: 80% artificial...

You appear to have missed the phrase "of its size" - and Paris is more populous than London? ROFLMAO mon vieux ami! But perhaps basing your figures on the old GLC boundaries, which no longer have any relevance, is what's confusing you. 'City' figures are almost always misleading, because where you draw the boundary is either historic or arbitrary.

But here's the answer to your conundrum. Select one of your 'city' areas, but make sure it's large enough to match London's commuter area - say 8,000 square km (because that 'inadequate' mass transport system carries twice as many passengers as RATP/RER). There will be 1.5x or 2x as many people living in that area around London.

Of course there are more densely populated small areas in the world - if you take 50 sq km of Manhattan and fill it with skyscrapers you can house a lot of people. But that's precisely the point - the UK accommodates most of its population in individual housing, not massive apartment blocks. Of its size, central and southern England is more densely populated than 99% of the world - the only exceptions being a dozen or so sprawling megacities (which doesn't include Paris, let alone Madrid) and countries such as Bangladesh, which no-one is keen to emulate.

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Chris Miller
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Re: 80% artificial...

Population statistics based on the UK as a unit are heavily skewed by the fact that there are substantial areas of northern Scotland (and chunks of England too, for that matter) where very few people live. But no-one is proposing heavy new development in Caithness and Sutherland and very few new migrants seem to want to take up crofting as a career,

The fact is that London and the home counties (or, if that's too London-centric for your tastes, an area bounded by Liverpool, York, Bristol and Dover) is easily the most populous and built-up area of its size in Europe and is rivalled on the world lists only by a few fly-speck states and places like Bangladesh. Anyone trying to produce statistics to contradict this is almost certainly a property developer (or being paid by one).

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HTC U11 Life: Google tries to tame the midmarket

Chris Miller
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Re: Mid Range

One where a high-end phone costs a grand.

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