* Posts by Alan Brown

10756 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Click here to see the New Zealand livestream mass-murder vid! This is the internet Facebook, YouTube, Twitter built!

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Errr, censorship?

"So somebody working as a cleaner in some Facebook country visits NZ and you arrest them? On what basis?"

If you're an office cleaner at Daesh video associates and the authorities notice, you can expect to be arrested as soon as you set foot in Heathrow. Your point is?

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I disagree completely with this

"What if the host's law clashes with the client's law, and each claims legal jurisdiction?"

Happens all the time. Ask your local US state about long arm statutes as applied to "doing business with" or "doing business in" that state.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: start arresting every FB employee

"I'd be looking to charge Facebook board of directors with aiding and abetting a criminal act and start arresting every FB director who attempts to cross a participating border"

Unfortunately, red-noticing FB C-suite execs like that would get all NZ Interpol red-notices binned, pretty much permanently across most of the world.

Which would be a pity, given that there are 20-30 open at the moment for quite good reasons (sometimes all-but forgotten about - one relating to the Rainbow Warrior affair fired recently when a certain French citizen crossed the border into Switzerland - they don't expire.)

Alan Brown Silver badge

FB lawsuits

Due to the rules of NZ's extremely comprehensive state-run medical insurance schemes (ACC for injuries and the more NHS-like system for general medical care), anyone receiving medical care from a state-run or state funded medical provider (which is virtually all of them - there are no 100% private emergency rooms) automatically waives the right to sue for physical or mental injuries - and the only way to sidestep that is to decline ACC coverage at the point of first treatment (& stump up full fees)

It was a pragmatic decision made circa 1974 to stem an increasing flood of spurious claims - any right to sue rests with the insurer - ACC - and you can be sure they _DO_ sue and they have _VERY DEEP POCKETS_ along with government backing when they choose to do so.

Most of the time a simple arbitration ruling is issued, fines are levied against employers who screwed up and that's that unless there's a compelling need to rewrite Health and Safety rules (Most of the time workplace accidenmts result from such rules being ignored and NZ's H&S are well thought out without the kind of jobsworthianness found in other countries).

Occasionally an employer will contest a ruling and then the large cannons are hauled out (It's invariably multinationals who think they can subvert the H&S rules, then contest findings and they invariably lose. Local outfits are told by their lawyers to shut up and pay the fines or it'll just get more costly. NZ's laws and regulations are rooted in the general concept of "Legislate/regulate as necessary and _only_ as necessary."

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Root causes

"Start with the gun laws, seems this may be the case in NZ."

NZ's gun laws are pretty good - to the point that the vast majority of "mass killings" over the years have been performed with double barrel shotguns. More knee-jerk gun control laws won't help the issue.

OTOH _Enforcement_ of NZ's gun laws (particularly the need for psychological assessment before being declared fit to possess category E weapons and general mental health assessment) is lacking - and that's down to an overly complacent/lazy police force. (If you think "Gene Hunt" (or worse) mentality you're about right - look at the gung ho way Kim Dotcom's place was raided. UK police who've moved to NZ have generally found they can't stomach it and left again. Tales abound in e2nz.com)

I've had dealings with regional police in NZ. Unless handed everything on a silver platter they're unlikely to take action to prevent crime occurring(+) and even when organised crime rings settle in the country it takes concerted prodding to get them to notice - cf Rathkeale Rovers having a substantial number of family units circulating in the country - police now acknowledging at least 32 known offenders, but only 4 in custody/one able to flee the country in less than 24 hours after being released on bail using on a relative's passport - and this only because annoyed citizens started researching and piling material to a height which couldn't be ignored - tie ins also noted to multi-billion dollar drug smuggling, so the roofing/driveway scams seem to be a distraction tactic in both Australia and NZ - the more being dug up, the more obvious it is becoming that this organised crime 'family' has been resident in AU/NZ for at least 20 if not 30+ years)

(+) In a number of cases the _police_ have been the criminals. NZ has had a notable number of criminal convictions overturned in the House of Lords where the Law Lords pointed out obviously fabricated evidence and made very harsh criticisms of policecondust and judiciary's over-cozy relationships with them - NZ's response was to remove the House of Lords as the independent highest court so that couldn't happen anymore.

In _most_ cases over the years it's come out that NZ police failed to heed warnings of erratic or extremist behaviour in the days/weeks/months leading up to an incident - Aromoana is held out as the classic case because of its horror, the use of automatic weapons and rural isolation, but there are dozens more cases of murders where the police were warned week/months beforehand but stood by and did nothing until triggers were pulled.

NZ has one of the highest per-capita gun ownership rates in the western world (at one point substantially higher than the USA) and one of the lowest firearms-involved(*) crime rates so they must be doing most things right, however when they do get things wrong, they get them very very wrong.

(*) Virtually every case has involved stolen weapons(**), locally manufactured weapons or ones which have been smuggled in/been in criminal circulation for decades (***)

(**) Securing your weapons is a big deal and having stuff stolen is grounds for license revokation. Despite individual weapons not needing registration (they used to, it was found to be ineffective) owners are required to keep records of serial numbers, etc.

(***) It's _difficult_ to smuggle things into a country that's 3 hours flight from anywhere else and some of the stuff criminals have predates effective gun laws enacted 50 years ago

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Facebook is a publisher

"Facebook will argue its current status as a common carrier is correct. "

That's the Cubby vs Compuserve defense - which falls down flat because Facebook engages in moderation and runs bang, straight into Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co. territory.

Alan Brown Silver badge

"I have noticed similar things on Facebook before, and I have reported it to them, but they come back saying it does not go against their community standards. "

At which point a pdf out of their response and the pages in question to your local anti-terrorist police hotline is the appropriate next step.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: A comment from Christchurch

You've just eliiminated yourself (and anyone you spoke to) from the jury pool.


Alan Brown Silver badge

"I suspect FB will face quite a few lawsuits"

'Supporting terrorist activity' is a pretty serious charge too - and whilst NZ has screwed up on a number of fronts, the notion of _personal_ liability for company actions is written into a number of laws there.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Why share?

"Officially they've not existed, and it's apparently even offensive now to say they are, "

New Zealand has far more problems than it likes to let on and the usual response to anyone pointing the issues out is mass ostracisation for daring to break step from the "accepted legends" of 'Rugby, Racing and Beer', 'Clean Green'(*), 'egalitarianism'(**)and the 'Fair Go'

Whatever you do, don't bother with Transparency International NZ "perceptions" reports - bearing in mind that TINZ NZ is 100% government funded, kicked out (and issued trespass notices to) its actual researchers and activists about 20 years ago and has remained 100% opaque since around 2002.

This is the "NZ Way" of dealing with problems - pretend they don't exist and if that doesn't work, shut down or take over the outfits showing them up.

(*) This one is particularly pernicious as NZ has some of the most polluted rivers in the world and spent the best part of 60 years denying increasing levels of pollutants by desperately clinging to the "it can't happen here" mentality,

(**) Unless you're a brown NZer or a poor NZer or not in the right Old Boys' Club,

It's a social environment which has allowed issues like this (and rampant systemic corruption) to fester for decades without being dealt with because the first step to dealing with such issues is to admit they're actually occurring.

Corruption has been a particularly difficult issue to address because the _only_ legal definitions of it in NZ are related to bribery - the other corrupt practices defined by the OECD aren't touched and as such are regarded as "acceptable" - in fact a number of them are "standard practice", if not outright encouraged, particularly nepotism/cronyism and influence peddling.

The government likes to deflect the issue too - I was peripherally involved in an incident in the early 2000s which resulted in the discovery that WINZ (welfare) and IRD (tax department) staff in _every_ office throughout the country were illegally selling personal information of individuals to private investigators and debt collectors(***) which resulted in thousands of staff being investigated and several prosecutions. Interestingly enough - although it was established this had been going on for many years, _nobody_ at branch management level or higher was "found to be involved" and the official government line was "These are all isolated cases of individual fraud"

(***) The IT contractors who discovered this came under severe economic and physical pressure to not take it to the police and the backlash shut their company down. The staffers who broke step and went to the police ended up leaving the country as a direct result of having been identified as the whistleblowers.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Why share? @aaaa

In this case, it means that people have been _viewing_ and _distributing_ terrorist material in the UK - are openly discussing it in a public place and are probably continuing to do so.

I'd put it to the police in those terms too - their calls are recorded, so failing to act on that information reflects badly on the forces concerned (and the OP should be escalating that up his local police's food chain until he gets to someone who realises the significamce of what's just transpired in terms of the size of the failing - I'd suggest the chief constable or area commander as a starting point)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Errr, censorship?

"Presumably the alarm went up fairly quickly."

By all accounts NZ Police contacted Facebook within minutes of the video beginning to stream, whilst it was still streaming and FB stonewalled them.

At that point I'd be looking to charge Facebook staff with aiding and abetting a criminal act and start arresting every FB employee who sets foot inside the country.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Errr, censorship?

"There is only one SINGLE reason that moderation isn't as affective as it ought to be: the almighty buck"

Yup and the only way to change that is to make it more expensive to not stop this stuff getting online than to have a bunch of (expensive) people or algorithms doing the work.

As for enforcement: That's the more-or-less easy part. Companies make money by doing business in XYZ countries. You can be DEAD sure that even if they claim that you're doing business with Facebook Ireleand despite being in France, that there are Facebook sales staff in France who can be pinned with corporate responsibliity, etc.

Once you start making individuals in the _entire_ company structure susceptable to arrest for criminality (not _just_ the c-suite, but they get to be in the firing line too) you can ensure that companies toe the line (and I'm mentioning sales staff with particular pointedness here as targetting them tends to have has the greatest "wakeup" effect along with illegality tending to flow from this area anyway)

Welcome. You're now in a timeline in which US presidential hopeful Beto was a member of a legendary hacker crew

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Nice

As I understand it, the problem with the US "medicare for all" situation is that it's perceived as "compulsary medical insurance which many low age earners can't afford to have taken out of their pay packet"

How much of that is FUD I don't know, but It's certainly been put that way to me on a number of occasions.

The thing that's never mentioned is how those same low wage earners can afford medical expenses if they're not insured and the apparent answer in the USA is "They can't" - this is like the 1850s UK Liberal party view of the world where the poor were expected to die quietly (At the same time, London alone had a murder rate of at least 30/day and the rich cowered behind 12 foot walls topped with broken glass. I think I prefer the current situation and would prefer not to go back to the "good old days", thanks)

Blighty's most trusted brand? Yeah, you wish, judge tells Post Office in Horizon IT system ruling

Alan Brown Silver badge

"According to him, whilst most frauds were committed by claimants or their relatives, "

The same attitude prevailed in New Zealand until they rolled out a (very expensive) system linking up welfare, tax and banking systems in the early 1990s.

What immediately fell out was that almost _all_ fraud was prepetrated by WINZ(DHSS equivalent) _staff_ (usually involving ficticious claimants and/or diverting payments of deceased persons), with actual genuine welfare fraud by beneficiaries being vanishingly rare.

This was later massaged to be "claimant fraud" in official histories - but it should have been detectable without spending $140million because in most cases all the payments for various claimants were going to the same bank account (NZ dropped cash payouts and went to bank transfers in the early 1980s).

The attitude still prevails, despite regular busts of similar slightly more sophisticated WINZ staff scams (they've learned to use different bank accounts and generate multiple tax identities, but "living beyond your apparent income" is hard to hide in the long term)

Alan Brown Silver badge

"a huge company swearing blind that it has 100% evidence of fraud which then turns out to be 100% made up."

Perjury, malicious prosecution, _personal_ liability of the various Post Office C-suite staff.

And that's without the families of the people (multiples, not just one) who were harrassed into suicide taking action for corporate manslaughter.

The primary reason that Post Office don't want Horizon exposed is that "certain individuals" face lengthy periods detained at her majesty's pleasure and/or being personally stripped of everything they own (or have fobbed off to the kids/wife/family trust to avoid it being nabbed), in addition to the corporate liabilities.

Hapless engineers leave UK cable landing station gate open, couple of journos waltz right in

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Cable tapping

"I watched an amazing documentary about the US tapping underwater cables owned by Russia and Russia doing the same back."

If anyone has doubts about the US's ability and determination to tap cables anywhere, look up the SSN-23 Jimmy Carter and its predecessor SSN-683 Parche

- Attributed as being a key resource of the National Underwater Reconnaissance Office, Parche is said to be "the most highly decorated vessel in U.S. history."

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Not really secret

"now if it had been a COPPER cable"

Fibre cables look just like copper cables until you chop - and as many infrastructure providers have found out to their dismay labelling them as fibre doesn't work because the scrotes who do this stuff can't read.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: "A terrorist or foreign agent would have been free to plant explosives ..."

On a site like that, terrorists would use thermite. Explosives are noisy and attention-getting.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: "A terrorist or foreign agent would have been free to plant explosives ..."

"The site was simply only made vulnerable to local petty theives and vandals"

two words: Copper theft

Not petty and usually fairly dramatic in effects on infrastructure sites even if the amounts removed are small.

Forget that rare-earth element crunch – we can now just extract them from industrial waste

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Landfill

"Cost is the reason we do not mind landfills. "

If there was a market for thorium, the amount in coal ash slurry ponds (thanks to concentration effects of burning off the coal) makes it economic to mine them for the Thorium and pull out a bunch of rare earths as a byproduct.

That would solve a rather nasty environmental problem and make money in one hit.

Cost is not the primary obstruction to mining landfills BTW. The primary obstruction is that most of them tend to be built over or close to/inside populated areas.

Alan Brown Silver badge

There never was a rare earth crunch

Rare earths are everywhere in our soils and slightly more concentrated in some locations.

The problem is that one of them is thorium - very slightly radioactve (15 billion year halflife) and another is uranium (only slightly more radioactive at 4-6 billion year halflife), so you can't put them back in the hole in the ground you got them from.

If some use could be found for them then the rare earth shortage would be addressed overnight. Hmmm. I wonder what possible uses they could have?

(Hint: LFTR)

All good, leave it with you...? Chap is roped into tech support role for clueless customer

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I have a rule these days.

"That bag must get a lot bigger over time ...."

I turned up at a job one day with a stationwagon packed to the brim with test equipment and didn't need any of it (or any screwdrivers). Unplugging the equipment from one outlet and plugging it into another was all was needed.

To be fair the job had been causing trouble for 20+ years and noone had ever gotten to the bottom of it - the reason I was able to solve it was because I'd arrived after 5pm on Friday to find our equipment was plugged into non-essential power (despite the label on the outlet, the circuit number next to it traced to a breaker in the non-essential cabinet) and the batteries were running down. Plugging it into a working essential power circuit 3 feet away solved the problem permanently and the sulfated battery was replaced shortly afterwards, This was very much a "kicking it $1. Knowing where to kick it $9000" job.

It ingrained a habit of not only checking the power for weird faults but where the power is coming from. I've subsequently found things like untightened grubscrews and other stupidity causing supply issues. A rubber mallet isn't a silly thing to carry in your "kit of things" as it can be used to jar loose electrical connections in the building wiring and breaker cabinets... (and is tempting to use on "loose nuts" who won't shut up)

Alan Brown Silver badge


That was a $1000+ consultancy fee you just walked away from and a point lost on whoever made you redundant (who was probably paid more than that)

Alan Brown Silver badge

"but various flavours of Excel-derived hell, deep in actuarial hell where they work out how dead you are to five decimal places..."

I can understand working as an actuary (or supporting them), but any actuary worth his salt should know that using Excel for this kind of thing is like willingly flagellating oneself with a lemon zester and then taking a bath in rubbing alcohol.

This smacks of "We've been using Excel because that's all we know" - which is similar to the "when you have a hammer every problem is a nail" issue of "I use MySQL because it's the only database I know, never mind my requirement has grown to 5 dimensional JOINs it isn't designed to handle and another DB would be 50 times faster/90% smaller/[not need constant nursemaiding because mysql never shrinks its files] - it's too haaaard to learn 8 extra syntax words or even how to optimize my JOIN and WHERE syntax" (yes, that's my current rant after seeing a sub-2GB dataset causing 8GB+ query memory bloat and 30+ second execution time thanks to poorly chosen database and query syntax.)

Excel (or any spreadsheet) is a useful tool for small tasks - but it doesn't scale up to sizes where a database is a better choice. The problem is that people start using it and keep trying to scale to infinity instead of realising that they've passed the practical limits of what you can do with it - I saw an entire Area Health Board with a bunch of hospitals and thousands of employees run on it - it's no wonder their finances were a mess (and changes took hours to ripple through)

MySQL is a fantastic database for basic queries and small to medium datasets, but it doesn't scale up to multi GB datasets and complex JOINs (If you read High Performance MySQL chapter 4 you'll understand why - the book is 2 inches thick, and it's all about getting MySQL to do stuff that "just WORKS" on Postgres and others.). The problem is that people start using it and keep trying to scale to infinity and don't realise they've gone past its practical limits.

A large part of our job should also be telling people that it's time they graduated from a cargo bicycle to a delivery van or a delivery van to a heavy hauler, because their support/performance/reliability issues are because they've outgrown their software.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: What about the social tech support requests

"As soon as any mention of the word computer is uttered"

Which is why I tend to describe myself as an IT storage systems specialist and have a script for those questions ("Your ISP is the best outfit to talk to for that, yes I know XYZ helpdesk is bad, have you tried one of the independents such as ABC?", "Printers have rubber pickup tyres that wear out, Have you checked yours aren't glazed and are you checking the curl in your paper to ensure you're putting it in the right way up?","Oh I only use Unix systems. I hardly ever touch Windows, Macs etc".)

My father learned the value of my work when I spent a day or so one visit cleaning up his computer on a visit (and told him he needed more memory at a cost of about $60). After I left, his kids (second marriage) removed the AV to play games & got reinfested. As I wasn't able to visit (10+ hour drive away) he took it to a local shop who charged him $400 for the delousing and quoted $200 for more memory. That entire branch of the family got a lot more respectful of my time afterwards.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: The Bane of Tier 2 and above

"Neatly bypassing all that First Line investigation, all the stuff that's designed to filter out crap"

In a lot of cases, for one very simple reason - that stuff isn't helping the customer, it's actively obstructing him getting it fixed, so when he finally gets someone - _anyone_ - competent onsite he'll grab the opportunity with both hands.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: "While you're here, could you just..."

"Should have told them to log a ticket!"


Or logged one yourself - I'm _constantly_ on at our group about this and they think I'm being anally retentive about it but the reality is that by logging all these kinds of requests you either have something to point at when the PHBs start asking you to justify your existence or something for an edict from "on high" to be sent down telling staff to stop abusing the IT geeks' better nature.

(In the case of customers, it's also useful to show how much extra billable work you actually do as an involuntary upsell when onsite)

Year 1 of GDPR: Over 200,000 cases reported, firms fined €56 meeelli... Oh, that's mostly Google

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Companies going too far.

"After speaking to them, GDPR was blamed for being unable to communicate price changes to me."

That's BS.

GDPR explicitly _doesn't_ block a company sending you notices about changes to terms and conditions of an active contract (a price change comes under that category) and trading standards can get involved in that one.

It's the kind of thing where a letter from Dewey Cheatem and Howe starting "I act on behalf of Mr Donald Duck" sends chills down spines and has them backpedalling furiously.

Microsoft changes DHCP to 'Dammit! Hacked! Compromised! Pwned!' Big bunch of security fixes land for Windows

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Disable TFTP services

"TFTP (Trivial/Telephone File Transfer Protocol) is a very insecure protocol from the depths of time"

Yup. The _only_ secure way to use it is only to enable the service when you need it, only for long enough to do exactly what you need to do and doublecheck that nothing snuck in whilst you had it enabled.

(If anything needs it for booting then it needs to be in its OWN isolated VLAN along with the TFTP server, and the server end needs to be locked down enough so that access is read-only)

It's a hard drive ahead: Seagate hits the density problem with HAMR, WD infects MAMR with shingles

Alan Brown Silver badge

Meanwhile, ssd marches on relentlessly

Dear Seagate/WD: PLease keep investing huge amounts of R&D into your technologies.

By the time you have it ready for production SSD will have undercut you(*) and you'll go out of business that much faster

(*) SSD only needs to be 2-3 times the price of spinning rust to "undercut" it. The other advantages (power consumption, density, seek speeds, no susceptability to loud noises, etc etc) mean it's a no-brainer in a data centre for a hyperscaler just as much as for a domestic user (drives this size are write once read-never anyway, as are shingled drives in general)

Linux 5.0 is out except it's really 4.21 because Linus 'ran out of fingers and toes' to count on

Alan Brown Silver badge

It's trivial to count to 99 on your fingers (The Thais have been doing it for centuries) but fair does to to Linus.

SpaceX Crew Dragon: Launched and docked. Now, about that splashdown...

Alan Brown Silver badge

"The pen is, after all, mightier than reality."

I'm sorry citizen, the UK's new smut filter has detected you using a naughty word and will have to punish you severely.

(We have already nuked the town of Scunthorpe and dynamited Penistone Crag)

Alan Brown Silver badge

"I even got as far as thinking about the difficulties of launching large volumes of water into space"

Sea Dragon. Enough said.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Make them an offer?

"I believe the issue with continuing with the ISS is its running costs."

The bigger issue - as seen with MIR - is mould (or mold for the Websterites)

It's a sealed environment, you can't stop all spores getting up there and once something embeds itself into the insulation it's effectively impossible to remove/kill without endangering the crew too.

Some varieties eat plastics/metals, so eventually you have problems with hull integrity to worry about.

These organisms are TOUGH too. They've happily survived prolonged exposure to vacuum and high UV levels in lab tests. The higher radiation levels seem to drive faster evolution and selection for toughness.The upshot being that any long-term orbital hab stuff needs to make provision for disposal of either the entire thing after a couple of decades or disconnection/replacement of older modules without disturbing the overall structure.

Former senior UK council officer fined for doing dodgy data dealing to help his girlfriend

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Berk

"I find it rather worrying that somebody stupid enough and dishonest enough to do this would be employed as head of building control."

Having had lots of dealings with senior council employees (district and county) over building issues - I'm not at all surprised. Brown envelopes, family connections, matching ties and special handshakes seem to be the order of the day in many of them (particularly in the southeast of England)

I'm guessing he rubbed someone senior up the wrong way at about the same time as he got caught - because most councils will simply close ranks and hush things up in order to prevent reputational damage (one example, an auditor I was working with wrote a rather damning report on the very cozy relationships between management in one section of the council and contractors.. That report never saw the light of day, the council denied the investigation ever took place and the auditor is now working elsewhere, refusing to talk about it).

Oooooklahoma, where the AI comes predictin' down the plain: Neural net spins up wind turbine power estimates

Alan Brown Silver badge

Destabilising the grid

At some point grid operators are going to be allowed to insist that wind/solar operators NOT be allowed to dump power onto the grid in an uncontrolled manner, in order to avoid repeats of the South Australian fiasco. The hidden subsidy of top dollar payments has to go too.

Elon's battery bank works well but the cost of this kind of thing should be borne by the generators, not the grid operators.

Nuisance call boss gets 8-year ban after trying to dodge firms' £700k fines

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Shoot the messenger

"I work for a telecom company, and it is totally possible"

Of course it's possible. The unspoken part is that phone companies get paid to TERMINATE calls.

BT and others only started moving when the scammers started using forged call origination data so that they weren't getting their cut of the action. The fact that they painted it up as "protecting our customers" is pure PR when it was about stopping organisations using their circuits without paying for them and any consideration about the people on the ends of the circuits was entirely secondary.

Alan Brown Silver badge

"TBH I doubt that'll stop this sort of guy."

10-15 years ago I would have agreed.

There are enough people keeping tabs on these kinds of wankers that it's a lot harder for them to get away it for very long anymore. The Internet makes it a lot easier for a bunch of pissed-off PPI call recipients to keep in contact and egg each other on(*) vs being isolated and pissed off.

(*) In terms of gathering stats and passing it to the law, not vigilante justice, nice as the fantasy of finding that one of these PPI bastards has been thoroughly scrubbed with a lemon zester, had rubbing alcohol poured over him and then been smeared in honey and staked out naked over an anthill in a sunny locale might sound.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Need a new acronym for BT Internet Security

"some of them re-route through premium lines "

Urban legend.

NONE of them will reroute you to a premium line when you ANSWER the call, and they can't change the number you're calling.

The worst they can do is attempt to dupe you into calling one.

I say, that sucks! Crooks are harnessing hoovers to clean out parking meters in Chelsea

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Getting kids interested in engineering

"Eventually they were replaced, this time with a half inch steel bar welded to the side, all the way up the tube, to prevent repetition of the loss,"

In other words "Oh zowie, a new challenge! Thanks guys!"

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: I think I may have the solution

"Councils and central government have to spend money to maintain the roads. "

"the government" gets around £5-6 billion from "road tax" (vehicle excise duty)

It gets over £60 biillion from road fuel excise duty (that's a _large_ chunk of total income - possibly the single largest chunk by type)

Both of those go into the central fund and are used for general spending. Talk of "ringfencing" road tax is playing a shell game and hoping you don't notice the fuel taxes because roading costs about £7-10 billion to maintain and then they can say there's not enough income so you have to live with the potholes. (oh woe is us)

Councils _by law_ are not allowed to use parking(and fines) income as general revenue, but in practice they've come up with various scams to allow them to actually do so. Westminster in particular is known as a parking company with a council parasitically attached.

The more astute will have already noticed that:

1: Electric vehicles mean less fuel duty

2: Self driving vehicles can go and park themselves where the charges are lower

3: Self driving vehicles are bound to result in lower levels of vehicle ownership

Which means that in a few years central government is going to be looking to make up a substantial loss of revenue, probably by adding a fuel duty component to electric vehicle charging (~90p per litre of your fuel is tax in some form or another, the actual fuel is only about 25p) because they're not particularly imaginative. VED is a relatively small amount and they can stand the losses there but ZEVs will eventually start having an annual tax on them because they're the government and because they can.

And in a few years (probably fewer years) councils such as Westminster are going to be finding that they're going to be looking at _substantial_ income shortfalls that need to be made up.

Interestingly, public transport can actually make the road condition _worse_ - road damage is proportional to the 5th power of axle weight and the square of velocity, with the practical upshot that a 10 tonne vehicle (bus) averaging 45 passengers does roughly 8-10,000 times the damage PER PASS that a car does. This is something that several cities around the world have found out to their chagrin - having successfully reduced traffic levels in central areas and only allowing busses in sensitive areas, they tend to find that roads and surrounding continue to deteriorate just as fast as before (faster if they have to increase bus frequencies). One city (Vancouver?) made things worse on a particular downtown road by making it bus-only and funnelling the things down it, with the result that its wear rate tripled.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Useless crime enforcement

"how do you think a camera high up can tell if ....."

Whilst they're dodgng the obvious one up high they completely miss the less obvious ones peering out at shelf level.

It works wonders on my installations.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Trickle down economy?

"Cheap hookers are best - you can afford more of them."

Generally you need a first 5/8, a fullback and a couple of halfbacks too though.

Demand for HP printer supplies in free-fall – and Intel CPU shortages aren't helping either

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Finally....

You may jest, but....

Printing in our organisation was increasing by about 10% per year, every year.

About 6 years ago it levelled out for a couple of years and then started falling rapidly.

We're now down to 2004 levels

And this is _despite_ some groups increasing their print output due to legal requirements for hardcopy they didn't previously have.

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Finally....

And in the UK too - what you're looking for is a bidet toilet seat :)

Alan Brown Silver badge

Intel CPU shortages?

But that doesn't explain why they've been shoving seriously SLOW M.2 nvme drives in their desktop systems at premium pricing - as in _significantly_ slower than claimed and slower than an old Samsung 840Pro - which would be OK if it wasn't at a 100% higher cost than the _retail_ cost of gumsticks with similar performance stats.

Funny how they run and hide when called on it though - and how they refuse point blank to tell you what drive they ship with systems (there's just a murky spec on the website, which means they can ship anything - and they do)

This earnings call might explain why they've been playing artful dodger, but they've lost a few hundred thousand pounds of sales as a result. (with any luck others will take note and stay away too)

Foldables herald the beginning of the end of the smartphone fetish

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Can we please

" here's a thick phone with an 18000 mah battery:"

You won't get THAT onboard an aircraft. One of the reasons most phones top out around 3200mAh is because that's become the legal limit for carryon lithium batteries in many countries.

Alan Brown Silver badge

I DON'T want a _foldable_ device

It's still too fscking big.

Look for some inspiration from Tekwar, Earth FInal Conflict or a papyrus scroll.

Or even McFly's roller blind TV.

Spooky! Solar System's Planet NINE could be discovered in the next NINE years (plus one to six), say astroboffins

Alan Brown Silver badge

Re: Exotic orbital inclination

As Clifford Stoll pointed out in Silicon Snake Oil, the problem with trying to pin astronomical events down to history is that things get slid around a bit to big up whoever the reigning bigwig is at the time (or to drag down whoever the prevailing villain was).

In his case - when he presented his work trying to do just that to his mentor, the reknowned chinese astronomer in question said - "Nice, but if it was that easy we'd have done it years ago" - and explained why (paraphrased above)

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