* Posts by h4rm0ny

4617 posts • joined 26 Jul 2008

Facebook ran $100k of deliberately divisive Russian ads ahead of 2016 US election

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Just when you thought...

>>Your analysis of the Euromaidan revolution could have been made by Sergei Lavrov himself

Well as he is a professional diplomat with a couple of decades of experience and is fluent in four languages, I'll take that as a complement. I presume you don't mean it as a criticism because he's Russian, after all! :)

>>The protests against Yanukovych started before the Nazi-leaning party joined and was not led by them

You say "Nazi-leaning party". I say "has a swastika on their flag". But regardless, I never said they were the sole force involved, merely that the USA funded them and that they attacked Crimean people. Perhaps raising this is "divisive" but remember my point in all of this discussion, is that it is important to have access to multiple views on events. Had Facebook their way, there would be no awareness that the USA had funded Nazis who beat up people who wanted to be governed by Russia. That is the problem.

>>"It was much more led by Vitaly Klitschko, the boxer."

Do you feel that this boxer was a greater contributor to the overthrow of the Ukranian president by pro-Western groups than, for example, the billion or so the USA has spent on supporting opposition groups in the Ukraine? Or the sanctions it has imposed on Russia and Ukrainians who were pro-Russian? (Yes, they sanction Ukranians too if they are pro-Russian). This Klitschko is a big man. But I find the notion that he, moreso than political interference and economic pressures, led to the overthrow of the Ukranian government a silly one.

>>Ukrainians from across the political spectrum (albeit less so in Eastern Ukraine) protested against having their country moved back into a new USSR-Lite.

"Albeit less so in Eastern Ukraine" hides a multitude of sins. Most in the Eastern Ukraine consider the overthrow of their government to be an illegal revolution and in The Crimea which I explicitly said was the area I was referring to and which is the area that has been annexed by Russia and which is the area that historically was part of Russia until it was parcelled off after WWII, the people overwhelmingly wanted to be governed by Russia.

How many people in America, do you think, know all this? That the people of Crimea regarded Russia as their protectors against those who assaulted them and overthrew the elected government? Versus those who think Russia just invaded a country against its will? That is the point - again. Not that you are wrong or I am wrong. Plainly we wont agree. But that people should not have only one narrative presented to them, but have the freedom to see things from foreign points of view.

>>And the Crimean referendum should be held in the same regard as Russia's elections. A parody of democracy.

Why? Nobody has credibly argued that it's not valid. Hell, I'm sure even you concede that the people in the Crimea overwhelmingly didn't want to be governed from Kiev but preferred Russia. Some parties did their best to scupper the referendum. For example, the Crimean Parliament had been trying to get a referendum allowed for years and the Swiss observer was forbidden from attending despite being invited because "Crimea wasn't a proper country". However, even if you doubt the referendum, later polls and studies (e.g. by Gallup) showed the people of the Crimea considered the referendum accurate and confirmed they wanted to be governed not from Kiev but by Russia. If you are trying to pretend this is not the case, then say so outright, but you seem honest enough, I hope, that you will concede the people of The Crimea did choose re-unification by Russia. Why should they be denied the right to self-determination?

And to bring this back on topic, why should anyone be denied the right to state their case? I object to a corporation like Facebook having the right to suppress foreign viewpoints because they are foreign or "divisive" - which is what has happened here. That's a universal principle that supersedes our debate here about Russia, the Ukraine or US involvement. The important thing is that the debate can happen and is equal.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Figures

>>"What's wrong with Soros? As opposed to any other mouthy billionaire trying to buy political influence and look important. Why does he get special mention? It wouldn't be the J word would it?"

Anti-Semites are drawn to George Soros like flies to shit, unfortunately. I say unfortunately both because any anti-Semitism is bad and because it obscures some of the problems Soros actually causes. Compare him to, for example, the Rothschilds - a wealth Jewish family that on the whole have done a lot of good. Both attract deeply unpleasant anti-Semites but only Soros also draws the ire of non-bigots. I'll give a couple of examples of Soros sticking his wealthy hands in world affairs.

George Soros directly cost the UK billions when he precipitated Black Wednesday for his own self-enrichment. George Soros has a net worth on record of $24bn. Enough wealth to destabilize nations and certainly enough to influence their behaviour. He shorted the UK pound in 1992 (essentially a bet that the pound would fall) and then, to make that short pay off, caused the very same fall in the pound. The Bank of England desperately tried to shore up our currency but - let me phrase this is very clear terms - Soros outspent us. With the collapsing pound, Soros raked in a fortune.

In addition to such staggeringly selfish behaviour on such a horrific scale, he frequently dabbles in politics both domestic and international, funding groups that campaign or act according to his political goals. Sometimes subversive ones. For example, much is made of Russia "banning NGOs", but as an example of one of the NGOs banned, you have Soros's "Open Society Institute". A group that spends around $800m per year furthering political goals. With such eye-watering levels of funding of political groups, he's bound to attract a lot of attention in conspiracy theories. Mainly because if you're spending $800m per year to fund your political groups, it ain't conspiracy theory. He funded the "White Helmets" in Syria which is an anti-Assad group. Funded activists in the Ukranianian "Orange Revolution"

So yes, he gets a lot of hate from anti-Semites but I prefer to ignore their opinions as a general principle. The reason he is such a focus is because he is an active and important participant in many political events.

h4rm0ny Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Re: Just when you thought...

>>Pointing out that no news outlet is perfect does not contradict the fact that RT and Sputnik are propaganda channels and CNN and NBC are not. Both can be true.

The critical thing, is that we have access to both so that we can make judgements for ourselves. This is a story about Facebook removing posts for being "divisive". Honestly, I just read that as "challenging our groupthink."

>>'our side' implies a false equivalence. CNN, NBC etc are not directly state-controlled by an overt state propaganda arm.

Well, neither is Russia Today. It's funded by a State. But then so are the BBC and so is Al Jazeera. The question isn't "directly state-controlled" but just "state controlled". Would you pretend that CNN or Fox News don't have a political agenda? More to the point, would you be happy for Facebook to decide that you shouldn't listen to them and de-publicise them on your behalf?

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Just when you thought...

>>There are sanctions with Russia because it invaded Georgia and Ukraine.

The US sanctions in the news recently - those voted through the Senate in June, 2017 - are not in response to either the Russian annexation of the Crimea (February 2014) nor in response to the conflict in South Ossetia (Georgia) in 1994. They are because of conflicting business interests.


One category of news source that is usually more reliable than those 'for the masses' are the financial news. Because investors don't give a damn about being told who are good guys and who are bad guys - they just want to know what the reality on the ground is and any company that misleads them quickly finds itself without customers. Hence the Bloombergs, Stratfors, Financial Times are where you go if you don't want narratives and just want facts. Albeit with a somewhat amoral slant. ;)

There are older sanctions but plainly the current ones are not for the reasons you gave. This is why it is important to be able to get as many points of view as possible. To illustrate with your own examples. The Crimea has historically been Russian and is largely ethnically Russian and Russian speaking unlike some other parts of the Ukraine; its population voted overwhelmingly in referendum that they wanted to be governed by Russia and - critically - regards the US-backed overthrow of the Ukraine's President Yushchenko as illegitimate. Whilst if you ask in the Western parts of the Ukraine you'll get the opposite opinion. Note, fraud was never proven in the election of Yuschenko. However we do know for a fact that the USA Congress voted through over a billion in supporting opposition in the Ukraine. A minor and specific example, Pora members were flown to the USA for training in subversion and destabilization tactics. From the non-Western point of view, and with some good reason, Ukraine is a case of a legitimate government being overthrown by Western-funded and trained opposition. None of this is delusional conspiracy theory. Obama has spoken openly about how the USA facilitated the installation of a replacement president in the Ukraine.

Whilst we could debate back and forth on who is right, I think it's fair to point out that on an article where Russia is alleged to have paid for non-candidate supporting ads that are "divisive" whatever that means, we're now talking about proven US funding for opposition parties in foreign countries and the providing of training in organising and carrying out civil unrest for citizens in that country. To condemn Russia for ads in the face of Western interference like this, is insanity. Most of the people in the Crimea regard the Russian annexation as protecting them. Some of those that attacked them were literal Nazis with variant Swastikas on their flags. (Check out the "Azov Regiment" which became part of the new Ukranian National Guard").

The point is, foreign points of view like the above are important to be heard. Else everybody will think, as you do, things like "the sanctions against Russia are because it invaded Ukraine" and not about business interests. It is not whether your view of Russians actions are right or mine is, but that people be allowed to put their case. And this article is about preventing people from doing so. About dismissing and hiding attempts to put a foreign point of view because it is foreign. It is a plea that we stop our governments from deciding what narratives we are allowed to hear, that I am making.

There will always be little corners of the Internet where people can speak any point of view they like, but if the eyeballs of the world are in the hands of a handful of giant corporations such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, then it's important that they not be allowed to restrict it to their favoured friends. Much less be applauded for it.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Where's the substance?

By default, I take the view of a private citizen in all of this, rather than a constitutional lawyer. For illustrative purposes, suppose Saddam Hussein had taken out ads on Facebook saying Iraq had no WMD and wanted to allow full access to UN weapons inspectors? Both were in fact true, but the official narrative in the USA (where a survey showed more than 50% of Americans thought that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks!) said otherwise. By the laws we're talking about here, that could well be illegal but from my view as a private citizen, it's not only ethical but valuable. Col. Gadhafi was begging for a ceasefire and diplomatic resolution since the moment NATO got involved but we heard little to nothing about that unless you were involved. Again, an example of how foreign views and discussion points are shut down. That's ultimately what we're talking about here. We're not talking about foreign powers actually interfering in elections (although the USA has done that on many an occasion). We're talking about non-candidate backing ads being shut down because they're paid for by foreigners and "divisive".

I, as a private citizen, don't want my government countering foreign propaganda like this. We're not talking Daesh recruitment videos of people being beheaded. here. I'd be happy if ads contained the names of those who paid for them - that would be useful information. But I'm not happy with the government or in-bed corporations removing things that don't fit their preferred narrative.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Where's the substance?

>>Some people bought adverts to affect the election. Either that's ok or it isn't, doesn't really matter who they are unless there are rules about limited spend or nationality.

Facebook state that none of the ads supported a particular candidate. Only that they were "divisive". If I had to guess - and I do have to guess because Facebook wont actually show us examples - they were simply points of debate / things to do with immigration or international military interference. Things that establishment narratives should be open to challenge on. Even the Russian "hacking" is not only not proven, but isn't hacking. It's about people leaking information to the American Electorate. Yes, the public finding out that the DNC chairperson was secretly helping Clinton over Sanders can "affect" the election. But as a member of the electorate I want information on my candidates. As much as possible. That isn't "hacking" the election. "Hacking" is just a word by the media to generate hype and clicks. It's disingenuous. Similarly, generating discussion about immigration or US involvement in Syria may "affect" the election, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Just when you thought...

I'd very much like to see examples of these "ads". It's very easy to slant things when you get to describe something and don't have to actually provide examples. Rant warning, I'm afraid. But I have strong issues with attempts to limit foreign groups from having a voice in our countries by denouncing it all as "propaganda" and shutting it down. Sometimes a foreign point of view is good for us. Example: You ask anyone in the USA why they're sanctioning Russia and you'll hear something about Russian interference in elections. Despite this being unproven and even if the case, it's actually only about providing information to the US electorate about what their candidates actually said and thought behind their backs. Ask people in most of the non-English speaking world why the sanctions exist and you'll hear comments about blocking the Nordstream 2 pipeline project with Germany(1) and / or trying to overthrow Assad.

Russia does make efforts to reach people in the West with its own viewpoints. E.g. Russia Today pushes a less Western viewpoint. And I don't begrudge them trying to provide me information. If you want to know what someone else is doing wrong, read your own news. If you want to know what your side are doing wrong - read theirs. Because sure as Hell you wont hear it from your own masters. What I begrudge are attempts by ANY party to limit MY access to information. And there are very active attempts to do that in the West. Examples such as this, examples such as the EU making an agreement to limit and discredit Russian news sources in the West ("East Stratcom" project). The victim of efforts to block foreign viewpoints isn't them, it's we the public who no longer get alternative points of view.

It's blackly hilarious given the amount the USA has spent on political subversion on foreign countries itself (Ukraine, Syria, Georgia...). Also, given that I'd wager a hundred times more has been spent on Facebook campaigns to direct people's thoughts by their own governments. Spending on Social Media accounted for over half of US presidential campaigning budget of $1bn. The Clinton campaign had a million dollar project to respond to any pro-Trump comments online with attacks on Trump.

My point, anyway, is not that Russia doesn't try to push its agenda online. My point is that (a) I don't want our own governments deciding other points of view are "divisive" and trying to block me from them, (b) that it is hypocritical in the extreme given that our own governments and parties not only do this both at home and in their countries but do it with a hundred times the budget and with more extreme tactics; and (c) this particular attack is seriously weak sauce. I mean "divisive"? Isn't that political discussion?

Rant over. As you can see, I am really bothered by this stuff. In the USA they are rapidly reaching the point where it can be factually described as Government by the Media. And in the UK we aren't that far behind.

(1) The USA has a shale gas bonanza and wants to sell their surplus to Europe. The Nordstream 2 pipeline is a joint project with Germany and would allow Russia to sell its traditionally drilled oil more competitively to us. Anyone in the business world sees a clear connection between the sanctions which block the deal with Germany and US interests. Many Germans are pretty pissed about the USA telling them who they can trade with, in fact.

Stephen King's scary movie reboot provokes tears from 'legit clowns'

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Spawn Spawnned An Evil Clown

Ha! Yes, that was the one. Round the Twist. I think I was too young to really understand it but I remember the scarecrow coming to life and crashing through a window to grab the girl. And she was the character I identified with so it was extra scary to me.

Loved it, though.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Spawn Spawnned An Evil Clown

In my tinier years, I recall watching a TV series set in a lighthouse. One episode had ghost clowns and a scarecrow that came to life and crashed through the window. Probably my first ever exposure to something scary. Well, it's scary when you're six years old. So scary clowns go a long way back.

And if you want really old examples, there was The Man Who Laughs, an old film from 1928 about a disfigured man in a circus.

San Franciscans unite to smite alt-right with minefield of doggy shite

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Hmmmm....

Yes. The reporter (guy in the red top who leapt in to save him) said at the time he thought "they're going to kill him". He also reported there was a line of police who could see what was happening but didn't intervene.

This clip is the same location and people a few minutes before. The person who ended up on the ground being beaten was just behind the two in this clip. These two managed to get away. To howls of "pussy" from the aggressive mob pursuing him. I would have been running from my life by that point, so I don't see why.

Very aggressive, pro-violence. And I heard someone try to support it by saying the victims were deliberately provoking the aggression by, I kid you not, "speaking against marxism".

Here are a couple of actual speakers: Link

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Hmmmm....

>>Most groups here in the states that have patriot in their title or event name don't believe in free speech.

Examples / support for that?

The Patriot Prayer meeting that this story is specifically about, is a pro-Free Speech group just for example.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: I'm going to chip in and point something out.

>>2. Hitler was far right, this whole "National Socialist" mantra was deception to get the workers. D'oh! Feyman, you are one fine earthling. Doublespeak, heard of it ?

I am sick and tired of this strawman. The eternal insistence by those that need to describe the Nazis as Right Wing that the only reason anyone considers them Left Wing is because they have Socialist in the name.

Well firstly, it's not worthless that they called themselves Nationalist Socialists. They did have socialist identification and doctrine whether you like it or not. Secondly, the argument that they were Left wing is NOT just stupid people who are easily fooled by a word. Mein Kampf contains a lot of heavy influences from Marx and Nazism also included a lot of seizure of private property and re-distribution of wealth. They had heavy state intervention in business. Wages and working hours were in numerous cases determined by "worker councils" that the Nazis set up between workers and managers, giving formal representation to workers. Not as extreme as Communism's wholesale handing over to the working class, but definitely on that spectrum far to the Left. They also formalized the Unions as the "German Labour Front" and merged this with the government department of economics. A quotes from a German business leader of the time: "These Nazis think of nothing but re-distributing the wealth."

The greatest schism between the Nazis (Fascism) and the Communists, is that the former were nationalistic and the latter internationalist.

This very tired and very erroneous meme of affecting that the only reason anyone thinks the Nazis were Left wing is because they have "Socialist" in their name needs to die a death. It's patronising and it's also wrong. It exists solely because people on the Left don't want to own up to the Nazis being part of them.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Apparently it worked.

Except they weren't White Supremacists. They were a prayer group wanting to preserve Free Speech. Threats shut down a legitimate gathering.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Yes, alt-right are idiots, but...

Taking a quote from Martin Luther King in one context and transplanting it to a very different situation doesn't make it applicable. King was dealing with very real racial segregation and disenfranchisement. These people are violently opposed to Free Speech. One is not like the other.

MLK was also a devout Christian so would likely be very sympathetic to these people who so far as I can tell, chiefly want to have a public prayer meeting. MLK was also a strong believer in non-violence, inspired by Mahatma Ghandi.

Frankly, quoting MLK on racial discrimination in favour of Antifa types shit-bombing a group of Christians speaking out in favour of Free Speech is appalling misrepresentation of him.

h4rm0ny Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: I'm going to chip in and point something out.

Just to add further to you post, I've seen no proof that they are Nazis. They're a Christian Prayer group. This is starting to look like those high school girls who got bullied off a university campus and called racist and white supremacist because they were Trump supporters. Half of the USA are not Nazis. It's being levelled at anyone and everyone that Antifa don't like.

Orwell because they're determined to stamp out 'thought-crime'.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Hmmmm....

The whole anti-fascist movement has parallels with Think of the Children types, imo. Proponents say "why would you oppose laws against paedophiles / why would you defend paedophiles". But then they go and gather a lynch mob outside a paediatrician's house.

Being against Nazis - I get that. You getting to decide anyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi, not so much.

Fewer than half GCSE computing students got a B or higher this year

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: I recommended my son not to do it

I don't believe IT should be taught as a subject at GCSE or A level. There should be components in General Studies or somesuch where people are familiarised with computers. Schools should make sure people have the basic concepts of a word processor and a spreadsheet and can fulfil common tasks. But there they should stop.

It is not possible to adequately teach programming at GCSE level and not really possible to teach it at GCSE level. Programming is a huge subject that requires experience almost as much as it does instruction.

Schools should focus on fundamentals at GCSE to make sure everybody has a solid foundation in the requirements for further learning. You don't teach word processors, you teach English. You don't teach spreadsheets, you teach Maths. And you sure as fuck don't teach Java which you'll not be able to do to any level that is useful. Every child will either immediately forget most of it if they don't take it further, or could easily learn it if they do (and learn it more properly, too).

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Have you ever wondered why there are so many diet books? It's because everyone would rather hear about some new easy idea that will get them what they want, rather than exercise more and eat less.

Ideas are cheap. Effort and resource are not.

h4rm0ny Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Isn't C supposed to be average?

And therefore you would expect less than half to get a B or more?

Paris nightclub red-faced after booze-for-boobs offer exposed

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Outrageous Sexism

>>"In country's"

In country's what?

Shame on you. You were doing well until then!

h4rm0ny Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Re: Outrageous Sexism

There were lots of female programmers in the 1980's. Today, it's down to around 20% in the USA (not sure of figures for UK but likely comparable). You suggest that women have been "crowded out". I believe more likely is that women have ceased to be crowded out in other places. In the 1980's it was very hard as a woman to progress in a career in law, in medicine, veterinary science, in business and to an extent, in the Sciences. Nowadays women make up 51% of law students in the USA, make up the overwhelming majority of veterinarians and have similarly surged in management and medicine and other areas. Where did all these smart women magically come from? A lot jumped ship from IT. In the early years of computers going mainstream, it was actually seen as an outgrowth of secretarial work. Cosmopolitan magazine had an article in the 80's on what a good career it was for women and Admiral Grace Hopper (Peace be upon her) said programming was "like planning a meal - you had to make sure everything arrived when it was supposed to arrive". A peculiarly (for the time, offensive now) female way of selling the career as one suited for women.

Why suppose that women have been "crowded out" of this moderately well paying career rather than falling sexism allowing the pursuit other careers that are either more lucrative (management, medicine and law all typically pay better) or more interesting; or both?

In country's with a higher degree of sexism than the West - Iran, Indonesia for example - gender ratios in programming are actually more even. It's likely not that these countries are more enlightened than us in this one, rather specific area, and more that the prejudices prevent women progressing in more traditionally male careers such as law, management, medicine, et al.

N.b. to be very, very clear - women perform equally to men in technical areas, scoring as well in maths and in engineering in general. But what we are finding is that many women choose other areas more so than men do. Not exclusively, but to a degree that is noticeable.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Phony story

>>it's doubtful that the bartenders would bother offer anything for a simple tit flash in Paris

You don't go to a bar purely for the alcohol. You could just buy it in Tescos if you wanted. You go for the atmosphere and the people. They probably thought that it created a fun and flirty atmosphere in the club. And they were probably right, as well.

>>and even if they did why would the management feel a need to apologize?

Same reason any company feels the need to apologise for something like this - fear of the hordes of complaints, harassment and protest that comes with offending a certain online segment of society these days.

That said, reviews of the club on TripAdvisor are pretty dire. I quote: "I'd rather go to a nightclub in Rhyl"

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Bah!

Is there any evidence that women were pressured into doing this? Seriously - "rape culture"? "counts as solicitation?" "not much different to kerb crawling?"

This sounds like someone from outside the a micro-culture poking their nose into something they don't understand and applying their own values on other people. I very much doubt the women who did this were coerced. Enticed, maybe. But enticement is not a bad thing.

Oracle has to pay top sales rep stiffed out of $250,000, US court rules

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: I wonder if...

>>But there appears to be this weird expectation that sales people have to be bribed to do the their job, if they weren't getting bribes (sorry sales based bonuses) then they will just sit back and not do their job properly.

It's a different reward model. Paying people a fixed amount is neither more nor less valid than paying people primarily by performance-based bonuses. It is simply different. You imply it is unfair where people "if they are lucky" get a bonus. But I don't know any sales person who makes a credible salary independent of bonuses. The bonuses are the primary reward for people and their salary is not.

And the reason this model is likely used rather than the flat salary model for sales people is that sales is competitive in a way that programming day in and day out is not. A programmer is not, typically, going out looking to create more work for themself. They show up, do their work (hopefully well) and go home. Competition is minimal. Maybe a little for limited advancement to senior programmer. Nor do you want your programmers to all be hyper-competitive because the only people they would be competing with are others within the same company. But Sales you want to be competitive. Because daily, they are going out and trying to snatch the meat from the jaws of your rivals. They're your front line. So you have a pay structure that rewards competitiveness.

Foxit PDF Reader is well and truly foxed up, but vendor won't patch

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Suggestions for replacement?

Just trying SumatraPDF now (was a Foxit user). It needs a way to collapse all bookmarks at once (I work with very large PDFs) but seems otherwise quick and clean. Hideous Eighties website, though!

Firmware update blunder bricks hundreds of home 'smart' locks

h4rm0ny Silver badge

>>"there you are in some far flung place that happens to have Internet and you take a look at your home and discover the front door is showing a status of not closed... Currently, I have a nice holiday and only have to worry about the front door when I get home and discover it unlocked."

The far more likely scenario is that I worry about something I don't and being able to check that it's locked is what enables me to relax. In the unlikely eventuality that I have left it unlocked, I can call a friend and ask them to pop round and lock it for me. It's not like I am helpless to do anything about it just because I am away!

h4rm0ny Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Re: Bwahahhahaaaa!

Why so hateful?

h4rm0ny Silver badge

>>Not a problem. My front door has a lever lock that requires me to turn a key to lock it.

Ever gone away and not been sure if you remembered to lock it?

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: "smart home devices"

It's pretty useful to be able to assign temporary pass codes to people for the lock and also see remotely if it's been used, if it's closed and locked or left open. These products are very popular with AirBnB hosts. Even as just an every day obsessive compulsive who always wonders if she's left the door unlocked when she goes away, a product like this has appeal.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Yep. Compare their behaviour with a company like TalkTalk. Whilst it's a cock-up, and undoubtedly a PITA to the affected customers, the company's response seems professional and pro-active. They responded quickly, reached out to customers proactively, set up a dedicated email address for customers to contact them with and arranged compensation.

The company is also a supporter of Net Neutrality. In all, they seem a good company.

Assange offers job to sacked Google diversity manifestbro

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Apparently he has a Masters in Biology and is part way through his Phd.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

You appear not to have actually read his argument. He didn't say, to use your analogy, that blue horses were worse at foot races. He argued that blue horses were less interested in average in footraces. He argued that if blue horses tended to choose to go into show-jumping then holding back pink horses, or preferentially promoting blue horses in an effort to make sure a race was fifty:fifty between colours was misguided. You can agree or disagree with him but you have heavily misrepresented his argument.

Also, why are we using analogies here, anyway? Surely men and women are concepts we're all familiar with?

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Assange shouts at world to stop forgetting him

>>And no, he wasn't 'polite'. It's fundamentally not polite to question whether your female colleagues are biologically capable of doing their jobs.

Another poster linked to it elsewhere so I've just read through it in his entirety. The person you are replying to is correct - his piece was very polite. You are very wrong - nowhere in it is he suggesting that female colleagues are biologically not capable of doing their jobs. I'll link it again here.

You plainly have not read the piece or else have a tremendous determination to misinterpret it. Therefore you have no business telling the poster who has that they're wrong. It's actually a very interesting read and does attempt to support its points.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Obligatory xkcd

It's a bad definition. It presumes the thing you have to fear when speaking out is the government supressing your voice. That may have been true once but these days there are companies more powerful than many governments. And unlike governments which could only deprive you of printing presses, companies like Facebook and Google can deprive you of talking to your community. Because they believe they own it rather than the people it is made up of.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Well..

Hiring should be about ability to do the job well. Nothing else. By all means identify why there is a lack of candidates in a particular demographic - for example girls in school being discouraged from IT - and address it. By all means deal with cases where prejudice is preventing the hiring of qualified candidates - for example, racism. But the goal is to make hiring about the ability to contribute the most, not ham-fistedly treat a symptom rather than a cause.

Google's culture is worrying to me because they have massive influence on what people can say. Their ability to supress a view, an idea or even just a funny video, is greater than a lot of governments. Someone sent me a funny clip of Harry Potter dropping the dragon egg from one of the films and it exploding terrorist-style. Fairly dumb, quite funny. Half an hour later it was removed as "Hate Speech". Not that this is hugely consequential, but just observing that unlike governments, Google can do what it likes. Including shutting down debates. Honestly, if this person wants to discuss male vs. female careers, I'd far rather him do so openly so I can engage and challenge his views than for him to go away with them unexamined and many others to wonder if his views have to be censored that there must be something to them.

All great ideas challenge the status quo. That doesn't mean that everything which does is a great idea, but it does mean you can't institutionalise the suppression of anything that challenges your views because inevitably a few of those things will be something you were wrong about.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Biology is a thing.

>>What he *did* say was that differences in the way the sexes think might account for the lack of women joining the ranks of programmers in the first place - that they are simply drawn to other things, things that involve relating to people more.

If so then it's likely more a pressure towards IT for many males. Girls mature more quickly than boys (probably to do with cave people not having a word for 'jailbait'). Consequently a girl at school is usually more capable socially on average than a boy at the same age. Perhaps it's as simple as IT appealing to those who seek subjects dependent on simple, learnable rules. As career paths start as young as fourteen / fifteen (choosing GCSEs), perhaps if career paths settled in later in life you'd see, not more women taking IT, but fewer men.

It's a hypothesis only, but it's one I could entertain. Essentially that IT is a career perceived as not depending on social success and girls acquiring social adeptness and team mentality earlier than (not more than) boys.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Well..

Even if there are biological predispositions to certain careers, it's meaningless as a guide to who you should hire unless the disparity is, to use a statistical term, fucking enormous.

If women were - very hypothetically - 5% less capable of higher mathematics on average, it would still be insanity to use male / female as a determinant in hiring policy. And 5% is actually pretty high, if there were a difference of that much, it would have been easy to prove by this point.

Biology primarily influences women's careers by the fact women often take career breaks to have children and men seldom do. Everything other than that has always seemed to be cultural rather than biological in my experience. Certainly I have known innumerable very talented engineers who were women. I have also, from personal experience, known many girls who got put off "boy's subjects" at school. IF (and I'm breaking out the capital letters here), there is a biological difference in ability, it's so small as to be utterly inappropriate to make judgements about individuals based on it. And if there's a biological difference that inclines men and women to be interested in different careers independent of ability, then I would stake everything I own on it being far, far less a determinant than cultural factors because I have seen the latter in action repeatedly at school and at university.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Well..


Not if the differences you're referring to are roles in society. There culture, history and prejudice apply. And this discussion was about women's roles in society - specifically a career. And you cannot make a supported case that roles in society are solely down to biological differences.

Revealed: The naughty tricks used by web ads to bypass blockers

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Paying for content

I think actually it's not even about the price so much as the convenience of paying. If I read an assortment of articles on El Reg., if I occasionally follow a link to the Guardian and read an article or two there - I just do those things. Would I "subscribe" or sign up my credit card to these sites? Unlikely.

HOWEVER, what I would happily do is plonk a tenner into a central fund periodically and let sites get half a pence per story or whathaveyou. The only key requirement would be that central fund be something separate from advertising companies that would lust over it for the browsing history information.

For me it's not unwillingness to pay, it's unwillingness to fill out and hand over credit card information for every one of a thousand websites I might randomly visit.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Hey Instart

Actually, I'm fine with sites containing adverts. I think it's reasonable that they do! My problems with it are the tracking and also auto-play video (which is irritating by itself, and doubly so if like me you open a row of tabs to queue up what you'll read).

I want the sites I like to make money. I just don't want Google et al. having a big profile of "went to this site at this time, bought product Y last week" for me or having to close pages unread because they're blasting crap into my headphones from half-way down an unopen tab.

TalkTalk fined £100k for exposing personal sensitive info

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Dido's lament

Baroness Dido Harding has an absurd amount of personal connections to senior Conservative Party figures and others. She laughed all the way to the bank and suffered no meaningful consequences for any of the debacles of TalkTalk security. I doubt she has much to lament in this regard.

Now if you'd said Dido's lamentable, I don't think anyone could challenge you on that!

Lauri Love and Gary McKinnon's lawyer, UK supporters rally around Marcus Hutchins

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: "98 per cent of people charged in America take a plea deal."

In addition to all of the above, it should be noted that the prison industry is worth $4.8bn in the USA per annum. Actual profits (i.e. excluding salaries) are around $700m per annum in return to investors. This creates an enormous incentive to incarcerate people. As felons are also denied their right to vote, that further reduces the ability to fight against the system through normal democratic means.

Prison labour also provides a source of captive labour to be exploited. That makes money for the prison owners and also, as with slavery, suppresses local wages of non-convicts.

We got our first private prisons in the UK in the 1990s and there have been attempts by the government since then to increase the allowance of prison labour. Prisoners can be paid less than £2 per hour.


h4rm0ny Silver badge

Whilst it's possible that they only acquired the information that he was a criminal during the convention, the more likely scenario is that they waited until he set foot in the USA because they knew that their evidence would either not be sufficient for the UK's justice system or alternately because it would expose a chain of evidence that was illegal (e.g. warrantless surveillance, unapproved spying on a European country). My money would be on the former, but I'd say either is much more likely than them just suddenly finding out he'd done something whilst there.

So either way, it implies that the USA will not be handing over evidence to us with which to try him. If they had sufficient evidence / such evidence were legally acquired, then we have some pretty generous extradition treaties with the USA that they could have used. Note, I don't know whether he's guilty of wrongdoing or not - I've no way of knowing. But the above does imply there'd be no conviction in the UK.

We all deserve a break. Pack your bags. Four Earth-like worlds found around nearby Tau Ceti

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Lifeability

Somewhere out there, there's a life-form that evolved in an environment heavy with solar winds looking at an Earth-like planet and thinking: 'but with a strong magnetosphere deflecting the solar radiation, life probably never got started'.

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Colonization dilemma

If any of those planets are inhabited then the chances of them being at a comparable level of development as ourselves are astronomical. Either they are so far behind they are to us animals, or they are so far ahead as to make US the primitives. The only chance that we are comparably developed is if technological advancement stalls at a certain point and we are already very close to that point. Which would be a depressing thought.

Carbon Black denies its IT security guard system oozes customer secrets

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Protection software spews sensitive data to third parties

I think your paranoia is unwarranted. Or at the least misdirected. It seems the company that irresponsibly went public with this first actually has some connection with one of Carbon Black's competitors. In either case, anyone who cares about security will, unless there are exceptional circumstances, notify the vendor first and allow time to respond.

Foot-long £1 sausage roll arrives

h4rm0ny Silver badge

>>Horses for courses I suppose.

Horses for main courses, I should think based on previous supermarket behaviour. ;)

WannaCry kill-switch hero Marcus Hutchins collared by FBI on way home from DEF CON

h4rm0ny Silver badge

Re: Accused of spreading the Kronos trojan.

Hell of a piece of timing to suddenly get the evidence of him spreading the Kronos trojan just when he visits the USA!

Okay, obviously that was sarcasm. So the question is, if they had evidence already then why couldn't they share it with us before now. The alleged wrong-doing was a few years ago, wasn't it? So two possibilities - it's not enough to secure a conviction under UK or European law. Or they don't want to share the evidence with us and want to be able to convict him without presenting it. There are other possibilities including it's a pretext and it is to do with WannaCry. Wouldn't surprise me. But if it isn't these are the two that spring to mind.

I suppose it's possible he bragged to the wrong person and they got evidence at the conference itself, but that seems a long shot.

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