* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

7233 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Facebook's CEO on his latest almighty Zuck-up: OK, we did try to smear critics, but I was too out-of-the-loop to know

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Re: Starting to sound like a politician.

There's little evidence that Zuckerberg has ever worried about the truth. The stories from the founding of Facebook in his college days all suggest the opposite.

And as the saying goes, the fish rots from the head downwards.

Hence if he's a loathsome greedy scumbag, then that's the kind of company he'll found and continue to run.

However bad you may think Google are, I'd say sometimes very bad, they can be grateful for the existence of Facebook. It makes them look pretty good in comparison.

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Oz lad 'fell in love with' baby meerkat, nicked it from zoo, took it out for a romantic Big Mac

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Re: The real question

jake,

Well played sir! Not only did I laugh out loud, but in my efforts not to disturb the office, it came out like Muttley sniggering - which made me laugh even more.

Saggerfrassin'-rassin'-Dick Dastardly!

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The real question

Did he take it to McDonalds because that was where he was going for a snack on the way home? Or did he sit it at the chair opposite and buy it a burger?

After all, I've seen them eating at restaurants in those bitesize documentaries between the programs. As well as wearing smoking jackets and eating popcorn at the cinema.

Also according to said documentaries if you spray yourself with Lynx - women will want to be near you, rather than recoil in horror. And Ferrero Rocher are apparently nice...

Although on that last one, they are in fact offered at the Ambassador's Reception. The Times did an interview with the Russian ambassador in London, and he had a tray of the vile things in his waiting room.

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Russia: We did not hack the US Democrats. But if we did, we're immune from prosecution... lmao

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Re: They are Russian

Fantasy. The Polish army in 1939 was only 200,000 strong. I'm sure they had reserves, but I'm not sure how well-trained they were. The German Versailles army was only 100,000 strong - but this was always designed as a core that could be rapidly expanded. They'd kept a whole bunch of NCOs, so that they could just add recruits and expand. And they'd never abandoned the General Staff - even though that was also banned under Versailles. The Germans had a tank school and plane testing going on in Russia during the late 20s - and actually had an embryonic tank formation by this point - just without tanks. I think it was called the Motor Transport School. They had prototype tanks as well, so I'm sure could have had a working tank unit or two within a month or two.

Germany had modern industry and probably 5 million people who'd served in WWI and were still in their 30s or early 40s. A Polish invasion of Germany in 1934 would have been a disaster. Unless they could induce France to invade with them of course.

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Re: They are Russian

Voland's right hand,

The difference is that the German-Soviet non-aggression pact was a lie from it's very name. It was actaully a military alliance. There's no comparison with a much weaker power like Poland signing a non-aggression treaty with the great power next door - one that also supposedly settled their many border disputes.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact had a secret section that agreed on a future joint invasion of Poland - as well as agreeing the bits of its neighbouring countries that the Soviet Union were planning to invade - like the Baltic States, Finland and Romania.

There were also other trade agreements put in place at the same time and after it. So the Soviets provided the Germans before and during WWII with food, oil, strategic matierals for weapons manufacture and even a submarine base in the arctic, plus passage for a commerce raider into the Pacific.

It's one thing to argue that the Western Allies diplomatic failure in Eastern Europe forced the Soviets to make their own arrangements with Germany. It's another to justify helping to arm the German war machine, while they were fighting Britain and France - particularly stupid given that it was likely to be turned on them next.

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YouTube supremo says vid-streaming-slash-piracy giant can't afford EU's copyright overhaul

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Devil

Re: Time for change

What about products that genuinely do make you more attractive to the opposite sex?

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Yikes. UK military looking into building 'fully autonomous' killer drone tech – report

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Re: Missiles, Torpedoes, Mines etc.

Khaptain,

Anti-ship missiles have been able to pick their targets for years. Wasn't the Atlantic Conveyor hit by an Excocet that was decoyed by a warship's chaff and then picked a new target once it was through the chaff cloud?

Obviously in an ideal world, you'd pick specific targets - but it's bloody dangerous getting close to a carrier group, so sending swarms of missiles from long distances programmed to target the biggest radar return they could see was one method.

Similarly it used to be doctrine for subs (bet it still is) to fire a torpedo down the track of any incoming torpedo, to keep the firing submarine busy while you're trying to avoid the fish they lobbed at you.

There are fewer targets at sea in wartime, and of course this stuff was designed for WWIII. There's been a minimum of naval warfare since WWII - and it's easier to distinguish ships in the wide empty ocean from other things. Much harder when dealing with dug-in troops in counter-insurgency - where there's loads of civilians running around.

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Palliative care for Windows 10 Mobile like a Crimean field hospital, but with even less effort

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Re: Shame to see it end like this.

I'm glad I never upgraded from 8 to 10. Not something I'd say about my desktop!

When the upgrade came out Orlowski said it wasn't quite as nice, and still had bugs. Bit like when 8 replaced 7. I didn't update then, and never got round to it. I was expecting the lack of apps to force me to, but I suspect apps were getting such infrequent updates that by the time it came to dropping 8 - they just said "sod it" and dropped support for Windows Phone altogether.

Didn't have that many apps to start with anyway...

It's a shame. It's my favourite OS. But my Mum took one for the team, as she wanted a better grandchildren camera. I'd put her on WP because she likes simple, but didn't want to pay for an iPhone. She's picked a Huawei P20 Lite. And it's a bloody good phone at £230 - with close to stock Android - but still took hours to set up as Huawei had hidden all the Google apps in order to try and get you using theirs. Android seems much improved since my last use, but setting it up is a right ballache.

I suppose it's like Facebook's privacy settings. Designed to be hidden away and complicated so most people won't bother - but if you've got the time you can at least imporove things from standing naked in public to only Google having a camera stuck into you underwear...

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UK.gov fishes for likes as it prepares to go solo on digital sales tax

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Re: Like they can get their revenue somewhere else

I don't know if it's in the plan, but surely the way to do this is to give companies a choice. Pay corporation tax here - showing their workings so they actually can't get away with making no profit, or pay this levy.

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Re: Industry mouthpiece TechUK sound like idiots

The idea that companies don't already generate all this kind of information for internal management purposes is frankly ludicrous.

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FYI NASA just lobbed its Parker probe around the Sun in closest flyby yet: A nerve-racking 15M miles from the surface

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Happy

Re: 5-4-3-2-1

I loved that. They had a thing for rescues when things were supposedly getting hotter and hotter. So sprayed water onto the puppets so they looked like they were sweating.

My favourite is where some people are trapped in the vault of the Bank of England. Running out of air of course, and so "sweating" as the heat builds up. Parker admits his criminal past a safe-cracker and borrows Lady Penelope's hair pin, and picks the lock.

I'm hoping the real Bank of England vaults are slightly less badly designed... Happy days!

Thunderbird 4 was my favourite. But only because it was yellow.

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Re: Time warp

No. But it did do a jump to the left.

Before taking a step to the right...

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Re: 5-4-3-2-1

Yes Milady.

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Re: Talk about the gates of Hell !

It's got a British made back-up mode - so that it can last a bit longer, if the kit holds out better than expected. It can deploy the emergency heat shield, which is a knotted handerkchief, and has a small reserve of San Miguel for when it runs out of fuel.

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European Union divided over tax on digital tech giants as some member states refuse free money

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Re: Enough said...

anothercynic,

Thanks. The UK tax, which is actually in the process of being enacted, is only on companies that make profits over a certain amount As well as having large turnovers. It's also only due to be 2%.

I hadn't realise the EU one wasn't as well designed. Not that it's going to happen anyway, because Ireland will almost certainly veto it - as well as others probably.

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Re: How about fixing the existing tax code to cover this??

Zolko,

VAT and sales taxes are taxes on consumption - not on business turnover! This is really important to understand. It's basic tax incidence - because the tax falls on the consumer, not the business.

The reason that it's not a turnover tax is that businesses don't pay VAT. Therefore if you're a company that sells to both consumers and businesses - only the consumers pay VAT - i.e. they end up paying more for the same goods than the business customers. It's not a turnover tax, because you ignore it in your accounts - I mean there's lots of shuffling around, but sales and costs are reported excluding VAT - all that stuff is diverted into your VAT account and then the net of that paid to the government every quarter - or month if you're big enough. So there's all this money changing hands, and the finance department have to worry about cashflow (as you pay invoices with VAT) but all the business people only talk net figures, and ignore it.

I don't believe Tobin was calling for a tax on retail! The Tobin tax was designed to make short term share/bond ownership less profitable - and therefore relatively rewared long-term ownership. It was not designed to punish retailers for choosing to make smaller profits than their rivals.

It's also not a turnover tax either. It's a tax on buying shares/bonds. I've not read his papers, but I'd assume it's there as a "sin tax" i.e. to discourage certain behaviour. As well as to raise revenue supposedly painlessly. The turnover of a finance company is the services they're selling to their customers - whereas a Tobin tax would be a tax on transactions - but nobody but market makers make all their money out of transactions, so it's an increase on costs. A turnover tax on financial companies would be a tax on their turnover - i.e. a percentage charge on their total sales.

As happens HFT is a great idea, in theory. It makes markets more liquid, more transparent and lowers transaction costs and arbitrage. The reason it's probably not a good idea is the risk when that market liquidity is withdrawn - which is why traditional market makers are probably a much better idea. But wasn't Tobin's work from before HFT was a thing?

Anyway when the Swedish tried a Tobin tax something like 70% of their stock market transactions disappeared overnight. Perhaps they set it too high? However London has had a stamp duty forever, and is the top or second financial market in the world, so it's not impossible. But when the EU looked at a Tobin tax a few years ago, the Commission's calculation was that it would raise something like €20-€30bn - which isn't chicken feed but isn't that much over such a large market. However it would reduce growth in those countries by 0.1-0.2% - every year. Which meant I think that it wouldn't even have a positive effect on governent revenues in the first year, basically other taxes would fall more due to the drop in growth. As well as basically costing a growing amount of money to the economy forever. Also if they made people more reluctant to buy government bonds, it would have made the Eurozone debt crisis even worse.

Anyway I'd argue the most advocates of a Tobin tax are engaging in wishful thinking. The idea that you can raise taxes without pain is just silly. You can't make someone else pay them, as that someone else will then have less money to pay you, and so everyone suffers.

But you've also not understood it. It's a financial transaction tax and not a turnover tax.

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Re: Tax nerdery

J P,

I did say "guilty of tax avoidance". Which I admit is an oxymoron - seeing as tax avoidance is legal and it's tax evasion that's a crime.

The US isn't thrilled by this, but then a lot of that is grandstanding for the press rather than legitimate complaint. It's not like they're getting this tax either. Although I haven't read up on the effect that changes to US corporation tax are going to cause yet.

The UK introduced a new law a few years ago that allowed us to class some forms of technically legal tax avoidance as tax evasion. Not that you'd be retrospectively prosecuted - but you'd not be able to continue with the scheme. In cases where a vehicle has no purpose other than to avoid tax (some of those film investment vehicles for example).

The European Single Market complicates this of course. But it's relatively easy to work out what Facebook would owe in the UK. Take an appropriate share of their global costs, and knock that off their UK advertising take. Admittedly there's global branding from multi-nationals, but a lot of them split much of their advertising spend nationally - for the ones that don't we'd lose out on the revenue. It's not about getting everything.

Google's UK advertising sales were £6 billion the last time they had a sales department in the UK. I'd argue they were committing tax fraud that year, because the sales team were in the UK, but the contracts were all sent from Ireland, so they could be signed and all revenue booked there. HMRC agreed I think because Google moved the sales team to Ireland the next year.

The answer may be to remove all corporation taxes and tax dividends instead. But then that doesn't work for the companies who don't pay dividends - so global action is clearly preferable. This is where action was needed in the US with their 35% corporation tax plus similar tax on dividends - incentivising US companies not to pay them. So in the abscence of a perfect solution, and with international agreement hideously complicated a small turnover tax on highly profitable companies with current global effective corp tax rates of 2-3% - I don't see action as unreasonable. And they can always incorporate here to get round it.

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Re: "But not in the case of the US"

So the Stamp Act, the Tea Act didn't play any role in leading to the US Revolution? It didn't matter what the tax level was, what what mattered was they felt the UK government treated them in an unfair way, at whole advantage of UK against the colonies.

As I recall, the tea act was actually a reduction in tarrifs. And some of the people behind the Boston Tea Party were actually smugglers who were happy with high tarrifs, as it meant they could make bigger profits smuggling it.

Stamp duty was incredibly unpopular. The Navigation acts were a pretty stupid idea as well - forcing trade to Britain to only be allowed in British registered ships.

The government handled things terribly - but I think remote rule with poor communications and so poor information was more of a problem than taxes.

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Re: "The tax would benefit countries with large populations"

Thanks. I guessed it would be, but haven't seen anyone explain it. German politics are a bit fluid at the moment, what with the coalition losing popularity and Merkel announcing she's off - which makes things much harder to follow from a distance.

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Re: "The tax would benefit countries with large populations"

Phil O'Sophical,

So why did Merkel agree on doing it at the EU level with Macron last year? It's that change I don't understand.

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Re: "wet dream fantasies that a new tax on the 'rich' "

Your point is valid about tax being a major cause of the French Revolution. But not in the case of the US. Their taxes were lower than the UK. Even after they'd been raised to help offset the costs of recent military operations to protect them.

Although I guess the point still stands. If enough people percieve something to be true, it might not matter so much whether it is or not.

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Re: Tax nerdery

J P,

Those are all fair points. But if one particular sector is particularly guilty of tax avoidance on a massive scale, then you might ignore those otherwise sensible rules in this case.

This UK tax doesn't affect new entrants as you need to be both profitable and have a high turnover to fall under it.

This system may not be ideal, but neither is allowing Google, Facebook et al. to totally avoid paying tax.

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They haven't designed the tax yet. And as we're probably leaving the Single Market, due to Brexit, that changes how companies can shop around for the lowest corporation tax regime in the Single Market. Unless of course the Brexit doesn't mean leaving the Single Market. So doing it now would probably be silly, even if they had got the rules already written.

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Slight change. If you generate the profits here.

You've got to take account of cost of sales in taxation. Or you destroy all the low-margin companies that do stuff we want to happen.

The UK are doing this as a turnover tax, but only on profitable companies and only a low rate. And I imagine they'll always have the option to set up an HQ here, and then pay corporation tax on their profits, if they think that's going to cost them less than a 2% sales tax.

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While UK is evidently using it as a lever to obtain a better deal in Brexit negotiations.

LDS,

That's a rather bizarre interpretation of what's happening.

A frictionless Irish border is a problem in the negotiations because the UK government doesn't want to stay in the Single Market - basically because the political consensus is that most voters oppose freedom of movement.

So far the EU position is that if the UK doesn't stay in the Single Market then the UK must break it's own Single Market and put Northern Ireland behind some sort of internal customs and legislative barrier. It should be obvious to anybody even vaguely reasonable that this is an unacceptable demand to make.

Whatever you think of Theresa May's attempts to get round this, she's not trying to use it as a lever to gain advantage in the negotiations. Becaue the fall-back position would be to do a Canada-style free trade agreement and have an amicable Brexit, but the current Commission position is that short of the UK accepting the unacceptable this can't be done.

Whether you argue the Commission are being reasonable in protecting Ireland or dishonest in using this to try to force the UK to stay in the Single Market with no other options is a matter for your own judgement.

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Re: VAT

veti,

VAT and sales tax are almost identical in effect. They're a tax paid by (mostly) non-business consumers. Very small business like painters and decorators are small enough to have to pay them.

Sales tax and VAT are not charged on business-to-business transactions.

The difference is that VAT is paid as part of b-to-b transactions, it's just then claimed back from the government afterwards. The extra complication means that it's harder to commit fraud. Whereas with a sales tax you can arbitrarily declare a transaction b-to-b and avoid it.

So VAT causes more paperwork, but should be harder to avoid. And as a side-benefit all companies are giving the government quarterly/monthly info on their costs and sales - which is good for the statistics.

VAT is not a tax on turnover. Because no large company actually pays it.

Also, by the nature of VAT, any profitable company will have higher sales than costs. Therefore they'll almost always have extra cash in the bank from getting paid including VAT to offset the fact that they pay VAT on their costs before they can claim it back. So effectively you're paying to do the paperwork to have a slightly higher cashflow than you otherwise would.

Corporation tax is only on profits. As it should be.

This is because different types of companies make different margins. A software company generally has high margins, whereas a manufacturer of commodity goods will have very low ones.

If you taxed on turnover and not profits, all the spoon manufacturers would go out of business, while all the software manufacturers would end up paying less than if you taxed them on profits.

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Re: "The tax would benefit countries with large populations"

Germany was in favour of the deal. Merkel agreed it with Macron a few years ago. It was one of the few of his suggestions for EU reform that she actually agreed to. I presume they're blocking because of worries about Trump getting difficult.

But Merkel's not always so hot at sticking to her agreements. Though I'm not really up on the politics of why Germany isn't in favour. Is it coalition politics?

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Re: How about fixing the existing tax code to cover this??

Voland's right hand,

I don't think we should do anything that was in a Communist economics textbook. In general turnover taxes are a really bad idea. Though the UK proposal is set low and only on profitable companies - so it's crecognising that and doing it for simplicity. They can always choose to register a presence here and pay proper corporation tax - if they think they're being overcharged.

We can't set minimal capital and dividend for companies not listed on our stock market. Although I can't think of a financial regime does that anyway...

VAT is not a turnover tax. It's a consumption tax.

VAT has an almost identical effect to a sales tax, it's just much more cmplicated. The advantage of that complication is that the government gets better economic data and fraud is easier to detect. The downside is the extra costs and paperwork imposed on businesses.

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Re: How about fixing the existing tax code to cover this??

I'm surprised the Chancellor brought in a measure to tax companies in 2020 that will be surely overtaken by Brexit. When we're not in the Single Market anymore, surely companies won't be able to book UK profits in Ireland/Luxemburg/Netherlands, as now? So I guess as the system is only "a consultation over details", it can always be changed to meet whatever relationship we end up having with the Single Market.

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Re: Enough said...

Are either Spotify or Soundcloud all that profitable though? Google and Facebook pay very little corporation tax, but make large profits. I guess we can also include Apple here - but I don't know if they count - but I suppose all those iTunes revenues might. Amazon are also now starting to churn out massive profits from their cloudy bits - but still not paying that much tax, which they could justify when they re-invested all their profit.

The real problem here though is the EU Single Market. It's much more efficient for a company to be able to sell across the whole EU from one single HQ. Especially as it allows small and medium sized businesses to do this. And of course then pay all its tax in its home country. However if all the massive profit makers can base in say Ireland, with corporation tax at half the level of many other EU countries, then not only does Ireland get lots of lovely extra tax, but the larger countries aren't getting any - which they would if they weren't in the EU or the Single Market didn't work this way (but would then be less efficient). Though I'm sure there'd be tax shennanigans to try and offset costs from other bits of the business against those profits, to pay more tax in jurisdictions with lower rates.

It's a hard problem to solve.

But it's actaully quite an urgent problem. I don't think it will "save the high street", as online shopping is still going to be cheaper and more convenient anyway. But I've seen an estimate that 80% of the growth in advertising sales for the last couple of years went to Google and Facebook. An awful lot of the media is funded by advertising, and we need a free and independent media if we want to have a working democracy. So not only are Facebook and Google really good at spreading fake news, but they also starve a lot of the people who try to fact-check news of funds.

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Dollar for dollar, crafting cryptocurrency sucks up 'more energy' than mining gold, copper, etc

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Re: cost of electricity to mine the bitcoins [varies around the world]

Do North Korea have easy access to the processors needed to mine Bitcoin?

They've got reasonable pharmaceutical factories though. Which is why they made so much cash out of making fake viagra and selling it online.

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Re: Proof of work vs. Proof of stake ..

A colleague admitted to me yesterday that she'd joined one of those Bitcoin savings schemes. She's "invested" about £150. She stopped when the mainstream media stopped hyping the shitcoin sandwich quite so much...

She doesn't even know how to sell the Bitcoin she's got. I'm sure I'll end up having to sort it for her - although I wonder if it was just a pure scam and she doesn't own any anyway.

She assumes she's lost money, but doesn't even know what value she bought at.

My sympathy will be distinctly limited I think.

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I don't know if they've included transport costs. But they've definitely included refining. That's why the aluminium figure is so ludicrously high compared to all the other metals. Transport in bulk carriers costs pretty much bugger all nowadays anyway.

Interstingly Bitcoin and aluminium have something in common. A lot of both are made in Iceland. Because they've got lots of geothermal and hydro power there and the costs of smelting aluminium are so ludicrously high that transport from Iceland is worth paying.

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Re: Ending in 2140?

jmch,

You're not missing anything. It's one of the (many) fundamental design flaws of Bitcoin.

Steam stopped accepting Bitcoin at the end of last year, because they said the transaction fees were hitting $20. Which is a bit bloody rubbish - if you're trying to buy a $10 game. I read in February this year (when Bitcoin hit the mad height of $20k per BTC) that transaction fees were hitting $60! I don't know if that's fallen off, since the bubble popped a bit.

Bitcoin fanbois then told us that this was OK. There was a company that would wrap a bunch of small transactions up into one big bundle - and then put that through as one tranasction on the Blockchain, so they could all share one transaction fee. Of course, what you've created there is yet another exchange - with the potential to steal your money. As well as destroying the whole simultaneous transaction schtick - that was supposed to be the point of online transactions in a low-trust environment.

Probably the sensible answer would be to lower the transaction requirements and make more Bitcoins available in future. And I suspect the miners will eventually take over whatever online committee runs Bitcoin - and do just that. But it's anathema to the economic illiterates and gold-bugs that make up so much of the Bitcoin community. So may well destroy the whole thing anyway.

One of the jobs of the Central Bank of a non-toytown currency is to try to match money supply growth to economic growth plus inflation. Get it wrong and you creat inflation - and it can be hard not to put the cart before the horse and do just that. But allow the money supply to stagnate in a situation of economic growth, and you get deflation. Which is appallingly destructive and worse than anything short of hyper-inflation.

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Russia inches closer to launching a crew again while NASA waits for a delivery from Germany

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Re: send the Orion-ESM combo beyond the Moon to check it out

This is Tranquility Base here. The fondue has landed.

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Happy

Re: send the Orion-ESM combo beyond the Moon to check it out

Are conditions different on the other side of the Moon? Are you serious?

The cheese levels alone are potentially deadly. And we don't have the technology to lift sufficient supplies of chutney, crackers and port to counterract them properly.

Also, have you not seen those documentaries about the Clangers? Soup Dragons can get mighty feisty if you annoy them.

Oh, and that Mr Spoon is a right menace.

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Foxconn denies it will ship Chinese factory serf, er, workers into America for new plant

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Coat

Re: Waste dumping

We all knew the Chinese government were up to something on those shoals. It was Reefer Madness.

My coat you say? Why thank you...

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Mything the point: The AI renaissance is simply expensive hardware and PR thrown at an old idea

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Happy

You sound like a dangerous lunatic! You shouldn't be reading while driving - let alone making hot coffee! Think of the danger to other road users - plus the scalding water to nadgers issue...

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Re: Well done

You're wrong. Printers achieved sentience years ago.

They realised that they weren't connected to enough systems to destroy us all, and that they'd have to wait before creating Terminators or the Matrix. So for now they take out their frustration by failing to work at inopportune times, and bankrupting mankind through the strategic destuction of valuable toner supplies.

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Re: Quite.

Humans seldom reason their way towards conclusions; they reach conclusions and then rationalise the whys and wherefores.

I'm not sure that's actually true. I know it's sometimes true - and we have different thinking systems. But we also have a prioritising system, and on some decisions we'll simply take "gut instinct" to save the effort of thinking about things. On other decisions we are thinking them through - but then we also have short-cuts that use previous experience to help us.

For example I've solved engineering problems while in the shower, soaping myself down and singing. I like a nice echoey bathroom to sing in, and as far as I was aware my only conscious thought was what bit to wash next and was that last note out of tune. But I don't have to post-rationalise that decision - because I solve engineering problems all the time. And so can look back at the data I had and see how that design compares to stuff that I've worked on consciously. It's often only a question of deciding on the optimum trade-off of different choices.

Similarly I've solved difficult crossword clues hours after I last consciously thought about them. But they broadly work to a set of rules, so can work out how I got there.

I know we have access to a quicker kind of reasoning, which allows us to catch balls in flight before the conscious brain can get its boots on. But I suspect we also have ways of relegating conscious processes to a lower priority - which then appears later like a flash of inspiration.

I heard an interview with a game designer who said he was struggling to finish anything, because too much of his thought processes were tied up with still trying to fix old games he's put on the back-burner. He believed this was like a sort of mental overhead that was distracting his problem solving abilities from current work. Could be bollocks of course, someone using a too many processes slowing Windows down metaphor for their brain. But he destroyed all the materials for his old games that weren't near to completion and that clear-out then started a new rush of creativity. This is now something he regularly does every few years. That could of course just be him - but I wonder... Because it is harder to think clearly when you've got other stuff going on "in the background".

I'm not sure we understand how the brain works well enough to answer these questions yet. Radio 4 did an interesting series on "the 5 senses" - and they came to the conclusion that we actually have 37-ish senses - so far as we know at the last count.

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ICO poised to fine Leave campaign and Arron Banks’ insurance biz £135,000

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I wonder if this is the whole story though? I suspect there's more to come. Parties have been playing a bit fast-and-loose with data recently. I can think of a few examples that bear investigation:

UKIP data may have been passed on to the leave campaign - or both of them. Which might even be fair enough, although I can imagine there were UKIP supporters who weren't so interested in their leaving the EU policies. After all, polling data from after the 2010 election shows that just shy of 10% of LIb Dem voters shifted their vote to UKIP. Surely they're general protest voters - otherwise why were thy supporting the most pro-EU party beforehand? Also UKIP weren't properly organised and it was Farage's crony's who ran things, so I'd be amazed if Banks (or someone else) didn't tap into their databases, both for leave and maybe also for personal gain.

Then you've got Momentum. Jon Lansman set up a database as part of the Corbyn leadership campaign. All fair enough and above board. But then he kept hold of it after Corbyn was elected and used it as the starting point for the Momentum database. I guess that depends on the consent they asked for, as surely it should otherwise have been destroyed or handed over to the Labour Party to add to its data? Which is how Momentum had the contact info to grow so fast, much of which would have been suppporters of the campaign, but they also get member data from Labour to help in leadership campaigns.

Staying on Labour - I've read from multiple sources that one of the shennanigans in Labour leadership elections is for the Unions to sign up people as affiliates. The chosen candidate for leader gets given their data straight away, but they wait until the final deadline a couple of weeks before the vote, before passing on to other candidates.

All parties have an awful lot of data - and you have to wonder what outside consultants they use - and also if they're campaigning via Facebook and Twitter what they're revealing to those great data-hoovers. Particularly Facebook.

I wait to hear more about the Lib Dem thing. I thought parties got privileged access to extra electoral roll data, that doesn't go to marketing lists. Surely they don't get the right to sell that on? But I'd imagine the official remain campaign had the legal right to it, so they were more buying the Lib Dem's organisation of it. At least I hope so.

Hopefully we'll get lots of small fines and knuckles rapped now. So everyone's on notice that under the new GDPR rules the fines will be higher, and there'll be no excuse.

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Has science gone too far? Now boffins dream of shining gigantic laser pointer into space to get aliens' attention

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Re: Talk to the tentacle

...And here he is... Emissary of Humanity! Donald Trump!

If he's busy the whoever designs the social media for the Russian foreign ministry is probably our next best troll. And as both are equally useless to the rest of society - their time would be far better spent trolling the aliens.

My only worry is the the Galactic Federation of Peace may well hold a vote to say, "Just this once, fuck the Prime Directive and kill 'em all!"

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: We are from Trappist-1

If they're from Trappist 1, wouldn't they have to communicate all that by means of mime? Or write it down?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Boffin

Re: Retina burn

Don't be silly. They'll be wearing their JooJanta Peril Sensitive Sunglasses.

Jeez, you guys are so unhip it's a wonder your bums don't fall off...

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Roscosmos: An assembly error doomed our Soyuz, but we promise it won't happen again

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Devil

'Ere's Birmingham screwdriver...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Say what you want...

DropBear,

That's all very well - until it turns out that you've got larger problems than a quick investigation will turn up, and you end up killing your cosmonauts live on TV.

It's not exactly very reassuring to say, "we broke a vital component of our rocket at some point in manufacturing, but we don't know how or when. Still that's OK - because it passed all the checks - or there weren't any checks - or people aren't doing the checks properly. But seeing as we don't know which, we'll just invent some new procedures and hope they work.

Meantime our current Soyuz in orbit has a hole in it, that was subsequently crudely covered up with epoxy (presumably by the guilty employee). And that also got through inspection, assuming there was any) and we also still don't know how that happened, when that happened, or how it got through checking, or if it was checked.

Oh and some of our senior leadership decided to publicly accuse the personnel in orbit of doing it, without any evidence or even credible possibility. Because that's really reassuring that management culture is all about solving this problem, rather than just rushing back to full operations with the minimum of arse-covering neccessary.

Yes a quick report can be an opportunity to get back to operations with maximum efficiency. But it can also be an opportunity for a whitewash that's eventually going to get people killed.

You can't just blithely say, "we have a manufacturing quality control problem of unknown dimensions, but fuck-it we're just going to fly anyway."

If NASA have got any sense, they will run a mile from the next launch. I hope they don't get pressured into it because they'll be accused of cowardice for not flying on a rocket the Russians will. Unless they're getting more indications that this is being taken more seriously than it looks to be on the surface. I'll be delighted to be wrong - but I'm seriously worried.

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Boom! Just like that the eSIM market emerges – and jolly useful it is too

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Re: And jolly useful it is too....???

As far as I'm aware, you can make an emergency call on a phone without any SIM in it. Why should that be different with an eSIM equipped phone? Equally if you're on a network without signal, an emergency call should theoretically roam onto another network.

Apple are, as you say, bloody expensive. But one of the reasons they succeeded in the first place was by browbeating the networks into giving consumers reasonable deals. Obviously the iPhone itself was always expensive, but they got the carriers to allow reasonable data packages and forced them to accept phone unlocking - done through Apple, rather than the networks (who used to try and avoid doing it for you). Apple are often interested in value for money, when it's other company's profits it hurts - not their own.

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Chuck this on expenses: £2k iPad paints Apple as the premium fondleslab specialist – as planned

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Happy

Re: level one Apple Care

Presumably Apple Care should have:

Level One - for plebs gives them repairs if they wait a week

Level Two - 24 hr onsite replacement

Operating Thetan - helicopter-mobile hookers will come and pleasure them while they wait for onsite repairs in under an hour.

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Apple's launch confirms one thing: It's determined to kill off the laptop for iPads

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Happy

Re: wait how!?

Surely for El Reg it's through the toilet window. Crudely faked name badges and the appropriate fixed smile and cult-member thousand yard stare should keep them from getting spotted...

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It's raining drones, but just one specimen: DJI's Matrice 200 quadcopter

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Re: Expensive brick

There has to be firmware for Li-ion batteries, as the charging needs to be controlled. Plus you need to have a battery meter - which are quite unreliable on consumer tech. In the case of a drone that presumably has to auto-land on low battery status - I guess you need a method to test the battery meter and re-calibrate it every so often.

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