* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

7461 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Brekkie TV host Lorraine Kelly wins IR35 ruling against HMRC, adds fuel to freelance techies' ire over tax reforms

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Re: Still smells like bullshit

But, the TV company can cancel Lorraine on no notice - and start a new show called Theresa, say the very moment that a famous Theresa loses her current high-profile job... And there's still a presenter, so they couldn't make Lorraine redundent - they'd have to keep her on as an employee and use her for something else. And this happens in the media, where you have staff people who are moved around from job to job, and contractors brought in for specific shows. Say 15 years ago when Carlton took on Ant and Dec and wrote various shows round them, until they started getting hits.

It's a grey area, because there are arguments either way. But it's not unreasonable having a private company when you've got lots of expenses (like an agent) related to multiple different media jobs - and your job security is entirely related to a show's ratings.

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Megaphone

TAXATION is 15 points in Scrabble!

NASA: We need commercial rockets! SLS: Oh no you don't!

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Happy

Re: all a waste of money

IT Poser,

Now you've ruined everything!

Another biomedical application is growing replacement organs without needing the scaffolding that is required on Earth.

So now you've created the script for some horror film! I'm imagining a darkened space station filled with eerily plusating hearts - stalked by alien horrors, feasting on human flesh - when they can't get crew... Or a crew driven made by space sickness turning cannibal.

I'm sure this was already done as a Sylvester McCoy Dr Who too - Daleks wanting new organs obviously. The only one of his I remember watching, with Alexei Sayle as a mad space DJ.

Then worse:

Budweiser is experimenting in how to brew space beer

Q. What's the connection between having sex on an icy comet nucleus and drinking space Bud?

A. They're both fucking close to water.

Our astronauts deserve proper space beer! Intergalactic Pale Ales for all!

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Re: Why add new modules

The problem with gravity, is that it requires extra structural strength. And that means extra weight. It also adds mechanical complexity - which means more astronaut time spent repairing it. I don't think we've got the lifting capacity for that yet - though that should change in the next 5-10 years.

I'd be amazed if that kind of space station is less than 50 years away. Either with much bigger/cheaper launch or space based manufacturing. For now, if we want a bit of gravity, I suspect it would be easier and cheaper to build a moon base. If we can find moon based water and build a fuel plant, the economics of space flight completely changes.

Everything in spaceflight is about baby-steps. We've built, and made a decent success of the ISS. But it's a machine, and at some point it's going to become cheaper to build a new one, that it is to keep maintaining the old one. Or maybe add new core modules to the current ISS (using its robot arms to help with placement - then de-orbit the old knackered bits - though I don't know if those arms are up to the job that the shuttle could do.

But launch costs are plummeting. And that changes everything. 20 years ago it was $400m for a shuttle launch, with a new module. Falcon Heavy is now $90m odd.

4 years ago a Falcon 9 got you 25 tonnes to LEO for $60m. Going reusable dropped that to $40m. But if they really can reuse those rockets the promised 30 times (if they can even manage 10) - then launch costs can drop into the tens of millions.

Suddenly if instead of tens of thousands of dollars per kilo we can fly stuff around for thousands or even hundreds of dollars per kilo, then stuff like pharmaceuticals or computer chips can bear that cost - if they're good enough.

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Re: all a waste of money

What's the running costs of ISS though? That huge figure comes from adding up all the historical costs of ISS over the 21 years since they launched it - and also includes design and build cost. So the question is what extra science can you get from giving up on ISS now?

Also that huge ISS figure probably includes shuttle launches at $1bn a time. Rather than the $400m they actually cost - the billion figure coming from adding in design, re-design and building costs. But shuttle was built before ISS was even an idea - and though some people talked about shuttle costing a billion a launch the point is that cancelling it didn't save you that, it only saved you $400m a launch.

Also the ISS does some science that we simply can't do with robot probes. Which is the science of how to live in space. Which may, or may not, be important - depending on whether we ever have space-based industry. Which depends on whether there are any useful processes we can do in microgravity, which again we can only really find out by having a space station.

The other important thing about the ISS is the foreign policy aspect. It's one of our few remaining areas of cooperation with Russia - as well as one of its original purposes which was to keep all those Soviet rocket engineers from being sacked and going off to work for Iran and North Korea.

As happens the ISS has also given the perfect excuse for NASA to develop the COTS program, which has given us a huge growth in the private space industry, so we now have all these shiny space capabiliities like SpaceX - which we otherwise wouldn't have had. And that lowering of launch costs makes robot science missions a lot cheaper too.

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Sadly probably true. As the saying goes, "no bucks, no Buck Rogers."

Or perhaps to create my own version, "no pork, no giant flying sausage." OK, that one probably needs some work...

I don't hate US tech, snarls Euro monopoly watchdog chief – as Google slapped with €1.49bn megafine

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Happy

Re: Spank 'm!

When I lived in Brussels, all the Eurocrats appeared to be into swingers parties, rather than BDSM. Or at least that was all the stuff that was mentioned in the expat circles I moved in.

There is a lot of basement space in the Berlayment though. I think they've got 3 levels of basement carpark, and room for 5,000 cars. Surely with Brexit they'll need a few less spaces and could build a bijou dungeonette down there?

Now I'm back in Blighty, I'm an ex-expat - or a "pat" for short. Penguin icon for lack of black and white cats.

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Devil

Re: Time for Googlexit?

Couldn't the Commission spend the €8bn they had in fines off them, and create their own rival search engine called gEUgle?

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Re: Shame the UK doesnt have laws to deal with monopolies for the general public's benefit

In the future (short term) those rules stay on our books and the Competion and Markets Authority will enforce them - instead of handing the bigger cases over to the EU, as they do now. For example, didn't they just stop the Sainsbury's Asda merger?

Actually one consequence of us leaving the EU might not be our rules getting watered down, but the EU's. The German and French governments are still complaining about the Commisison stopping the Siemens Alstrom merger, and are suggesting changing EU rules to allow the creation of "European Champions" - in order to supposedly compete better globally.

What made a super high-tech home in Victorian England? Hydroelectric witchery, for starters

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Happy

Re: Cragside, worth multiple visits

Quite a lot of similar organisations have reciprocal arrangements. English Heritage has one with Cadw (the Welsh equivalent) so you can get into each others' castles at free or reduced rates.

Does this explain how Edward I managed it?

Walks up to portculllis. "Yep, there's 1,000 of us and we're all English Heritage members, so should get in free. We'll have the afternoon tea later though... What? Those 2,000 scruffy guys over there with the bows? Oh they're our butlers."

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Re: amazing...

That would be a rather odd view of history. Settling a war with a royal marriage had gone out of fashion a hundred years before. The politicians had started becoming the main movers of European history in the 18th Century - a process that was accelerated by the Napolenoic wars and especially the revolutions of 1848.

Only the Tsar was fully in control of government by WWI - and the Russians were considered to be out of date, or even backward. Kaiser Bill was one of the reasons the war happened, but he also wussed out at the last minute and tried to avoid, then limit, German mobilisation in order to avoid fighting on two fronts. Had he been fully in charge, he might even have stopped the war - although equally he might have changed his mind again.

France was a republic, and the British royal family had influence, but little actual power. Edward VII did quite a bit of the spadework for the entente with France - but that was as a diplomatic schmoozer, not the architect of the policy. He was sent to do it.

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Re: Acceptable?

I believe that according to Christopher Clark one driver of WW1 was actually the French banks,who loaned lots of money to the Russians and Serbs to buy arms (made in France), and then when they couldn't afford the repayments suggested that a nice little war might loot enough of Austro-Hungary to pay the instalments.

That doesn't tally with the history of WWI as I learned it. Though I admit my knowledge is 20 years out of date, so new sources may have been discovered.

But it wasn't Serbia and Russia pushing for war. It was Austria-Hungary and Germany. I believe the Serb nationalists who killed Archy Duke did have links to the Serbian army - but it wasn't an authorised/planned operation, and Russia were certainly not in a position to give immediate support.

Also the Russian army simply didn't have any plans for war with Austria-Hungary that didn't also involve fighting Germany as well. As the Tsar found out when he ordered a partial mobilisation (only the units on the Austria-Hungary border) and it turned out they couldn't do it after 3 days of trying and had to fully mobilise.

That military planning inflexibility was part of the cause of the war. The Kaiser found the same thing when he tried to change his mobilisation to only being on the Eastern border and avoid threatening France.

My understanding was that Austria-Hungary were being reckless, because Germany had given them guarantees of support. And that the German military were pushing for action because Russian military reforms and rearmament meant that they expected the Russian military to be much more effective by about 1916.

The Schlieffen plan had already been updated to move forces from the French border to the Russian, because the Russian army were more effective and faster mobilising than they had been ten years before. And the German military were horrified by the idea of a two front war, hence wanting to knock France out quickly - which is why they only had 8 corps (16 divisions) in Poland to stop the Russian army and 7 armies (over 100 divisions) on the French border. And why the plan demanded the invasion of Belgium - despite the risk that would bring Britain into the war - as it was the only way to get room for a knock-out blow on France.

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Happy

Re: The Armstrong Disappearing Gun

Why is anyone surprised that a bunch of disappearing guns have been lost?

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Re: H&S not

In the early 20th Century there was a brief craze for Radium toothpaste. Because who wouldn't want a glowing white teeth? Ah, the good old days.

linky after a quick search

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Happy

Re: sadly, electric dinner gongs never really caught on

IoT, in 19th C style should be "Internet of Thingamyjigs" perhaps?

Simply engage one's difference engine and peruse the answers to all the questions one might possibly wish to know on Ask Jeeves...

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Re: Acceptable?

I think it should be pointed out that we weren't really arming Johnny-Prussian in 1914. Although there were a few embarassing things that it turned out only they supplied (when they suddenly stopped), such as khaki dye for uniforms. Admittedly almost everybody else who had dreadnoughts seems to have got them from us, such as Austria-Hungary (so good they named it twice).

So it wasn't so much the arms dealers, as the governments buying so many that caused that. Plus a horrible miscalculation on what modern war would be like. And a German (and Austro-Hungarian) political leadership who were both hilariously incompetent and dangerously belligerant. With dishonourable mentions to the pisspoor diplomacy of Grey for Britain and the Russians.

On the other hand, Britain did rather insist on its right to arm the South in the US Civil War - because just because they were fighting to retain slavery was no reason not to take their money obviously...

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Re: amazing...

Nah, Britain was quite nice and fluffy by that point. If Johnny-Continental cut up rough then Britian wouldn't do anything so expensive ungentlemanly as to invade - but simply nick a few of their colonies and impose a naval blockade, until they jolly well stopped.

British foreign policy was aimed at making sure no European alliance got too strong in comparison to any of the others - while doing as little as possible. So that Britain could float down the river in splendid isolation occasionally sticking out a paddle to steer (to misquote Lord Salisbury ten years later).

Apple bestows first hardware upgrades in years upon neglected iPad Mini and Air lines

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Megaphone

Re: Slipping

Dave 126,

No! That's not acceptable! The modern phone/tablet design ethos of "we're going to make it ergonomically shit and force you to spend extra on a case" is really pissing me off. People who put glass backs on phones that make them hard to hold and more expensive to repair when they inevitably slide out of someone's hand should be beaten with sticks, until they learn better.

Never thought we'd ever utter these words, but... can anyone recommend a spin doctor for NASA?

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Re: Blame it on the thrusters

No, you can't blame it on the thrusters.

=============

Don't blame it on the sunshine.

Don't blame it on the moonlight.

Don't blame it on the good times.

Blame it on the Yarkovsky‐O'Keefe‐Radzievskii‐Paddack effect

BOOGIE sounds so much better than YORP, don't you think?

Boeing... Boeing... Gone: Canada, America finally ground 737 Max jets as they await anti-death-crash software patches

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Re: Yep

I'm not sure this is about Boeing wanting to save the money on getting the plane recertified as a new type. I mean everyone wants to save money but...

I think the real reason is to get sales to customers with existing 737 fleets. A 90 minute iPad based training course means no expensive pilot retraining is required. If that airline bought Airbus instead, it would be lots of expensive re-training - but then so would a new type not called the 737.

UK joins growing list of territories to ban Boeing 737 Max flights as firm says patch incoming

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Re: God, the stress involved in writing this stuff...

I'm writing the flight control software for a new large passenger jet in Javascript. Is this a problem?

Crew Dragon returns to dry land as NASA promises new space station for the Moon

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Devil

Simon Harris,

Oh ye of little faith. If you can launch 100 people on a mission, then you've got your food and compost/biomass supplies for long-duration missions all in 100 easy self-loading packages. Then you just need the right seeds and soil bacteria and you've got oxygen and food generation sorted out for the survivors primary crew of 6.

"Houston, we have a problem. OK don't worry, we now have a casserole."

Airlines in Asia, Africa ground Boeing 737 Max 8s after second death crash in four-ish months

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Chesley Sullenberger was flying a modern fly-by-wire aircraft with all mod cons. And he didn't complain about the automatic systems that Airbus had fitted stopping him from gliding. He deliberately took action to make sure he had them.

In fact, as I understand it, procedures have now been changed to match what he did. He started the APU (auxilliary power unit) in order to have the full suite of fly-by-wire computers helping him - whereas his checklist had that step at the very end and would have relied on the RAT (which is an emergency turbine giving minimal power for instruments deployed when the engines all fail, which uses the airspeed of the plane to generate it).

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Re: A distinct sort of accident...

You do need to remember that increasing safety standards mean that crashes are becoming less and less frequent. And safety features built into aircraft are therefore working, to some extent that we can probably never measure accurately.

So we now have problems where the saftey systems are so complex that the pilots sometimes aren't able to diagnose and resolve the problems when they themselves go wrong - but then we have many fewer crashes to suggest that those safety systems are also doing their job most of the time.

So while I agree that we now need to look at user interface to try and avoid confusing the pilots with too many contradictory warnings when the complex systems crap out on them - we shouldn't forget that crashes are getting more complex partly because we're not having many of the stupidly simple ones anymore. For an example see that Qantas airbus 1,000ft bounces flight, where the copilot had over 1,000 different warnings in under 5 minutes to try and scroll through on his screen making it basically impossible to get any information out of such a mess.

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Re: after second death crash (OT)

El Reg even call themselves a tabloid. And have the red top to prove it.

The strapline "biting the hand that feeds IT" might be a clue too...

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Re: I'm probably being silly...

But MCAS is a critical system. Because the plane is, if not dangerous, then at least less than pefectly safe without it working. And yet MCAS is allowed to operate with only 2 sensors, even though it's safety critical - given it can malfuntion and fly the plane into the ground.

So you need to have a way to diagnose if the MCAS is trying to save you from your own mistake, or if MCAS is screwing up because of bad sensor data and trying to kill you. And comparing its AOA readings to your artificial horizon (and other data) is therefore important in diangosing the problem - and should not just have been an optional extra / afterthought.

Strewth! Apoplectic Aussies threaten to blast noisy Google delivery drones out of the sky

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Happy

I read "Canberra trial" in the headline, and thought they were using Canberras as the delivery vehicle. I'm very disappointed that this isn't the case and it's only boring old drones.

I wonder what the noise difference would have been?

Champagne corks undocked as SpaceX brings the Crew Dragon back to Earth

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Re: Congratulations

Oh, and a brief look on Wikithingy at Banks ship names, shows that I'm too slow. Musk has already done the Gravitas gag with his new fourth drone ship, which is currently building.

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Facepalm

Re: Congratulations

Good point! I'd forgotten they'd already used that name.

How about the GCU Very Little Gravitas Indeed? That might suit Musk's Twitter persona rather nicely. Or would that be Unacceptable Behaviour?

Excession was my favourite book, and Ethics Gradient my favourite name.

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Re: Congratulations

And as the pilot joke continues it's just a bonus if you can re-use the vehicle.

I'm surprised he didn't send up a space cheese though. Surely he must have eaten the last one by now? Or if not that, then a bottle case of port.

Also suprised by the boring name of the recovery ship. Couldn't find a Banks ship called Finders Keepers, so how about the Just Read The Instructions?

Dear Britain's mast-fearing Nimbys: Do you want your phone to work or not?

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Mushroom

Re: Maybe a solution

Don't be silly. I'm not supposed to tell you this, so promise you won't spread it around. But wind turbines are part of an amazing plan. Why do you think they go to all that trouble and expense of connecting them to the national grid - even when they're in the middle of nowhere?

They're not designed for generating electricity. They're designed so that Britain can fly! By 2030 - this country will be able to take off and nuke France from orbit. It's the only way to be sure!

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Happy

Re: Stop making sense!

Surely there's a simple solution.

Change planning law, so that all objections to mobile masts must be submitted on a government approved smartphone app. Then cut all radio services to that phone in all areas covered by any masts objected to.

Put down the cat, coffee, beer pint, martini, whatever you're holding, and make sure you've updated Chrome (unless you enjoy being hacked)

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Re: I now use Facebook's new browser, Slurp

Or is your post just Google love manifested through straw manning.....?

Nope. My post was attempted humour. I don't use Chrome either. Partly because of the great Google slurp, and partly because I hate the UI. The reason I put up with Firefox in it's crashy/memory leak period was the UI with actual menus - as well as the lack of Google. It's now rather fast too, and I've read accusations that Chrome sometimes does the memory-hog thing itself.

to be fair to Google, they're as bad at slurping everyone's data and lying about it as Facebook. Well they've probably not been caught lying quite so often. They're not quite so amateur. But at least they haven't also spaffed that data to everybody who got API access - which appears to be most of the internet.

As the Patrician says, if we must have crime, better that it be organised crime.

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Re: Are people still using google after all those miss steps by google?

You're right. I've dumped Chrome right out of my life. I now use Facebook's new browser, Slurp. I'm in the beta program and it's great! I only had to fill out a 350 page contract, and sign in blood on every page - but it's OK as I was allowed to use the blood of my children, so it didn't hurt at all.

Every web page I go to is now automatically linked to my Facebook timeline, so all my friends (and anyone else watching as it auto-changes your preferences to allow everyone to share the goodness) can now see what cool stuff I'm looking at and how intelligent I am.

...That Mister Man porn site has got so many likes...

Hipster whines at tech mag for using his pic to imply hipsters look the same, discovers pic was of an entirely different hipster

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Flame

No. Rare is not how one describes people, that's how one cooks them...

Uber won't face criminal charges after its robo-car killed woman crossing street

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Re: What? The car can't do emergency braking on it's own?

I seem to remember that Uber had disabled the emergency braking for some reason so both they and the driver ought to be liable.
.

As I understand it, that Volvo model has emergency as one of the normal safety features. Which Uber had disabled as they wanted their computer in control. Which makes sense - as you don't want two separate computers in charge of the brakes - plus you're testing your computer.

Of course the separate issue is that Uber had also disabled emergency braking in their own system, because it was basically shit and doesn't work properly.

For some reason they'd also turned off notification to the safety driver - that could be a design issue, incompetence, a setting that got turned off accidentally, or some other set of complicated reasons. Maybe as simple as the warning system was going off so often that people were just turning it off.

The reason that Uber should be prosecuted in my opinion is that their system is a pile of shit. Plus they'd set up housekeeping stuff for their "safety driver" to do on the computer screen while they were supposed to be driving the fucking car. Thus deliberately distracting them from the already dangerously boring job of watching the road and waiting to intervene. And for that negligent design alone, someone should be seriously punished.

Hurrah for Apollo 9: It has been 50 years since 'nauts first took a Lunar Module out for a spin

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Re: New IMAX Apollo 11 movie

I'm told the Apollo 11 film is great. It's being released this month in da USA - the adverts say "soon" for us rightpondians. I'm guessing they'll release it in July, for all the free anniversary publicity?

I've never seen a film in IMAX. I suppose I ought to try it at some point.

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Re: I'm planning aa marathon

The book is very different to the film - although some bits have been lifted straight from it. Like the astronaut selection scenes in the weird clinic in the middle of nowhere. But I love both the book and the film. Haven't read Michael Collins' book though, so I'll give that a go.

The film does seem to divide opinion though. I've rarely heard a bad word about Apollo 13, but many people don't seem to like The Right Stuff. I suspect First Man is going to be quite a divisive film too.

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Happy

Re: Sea's a bit far from the beach though.

OK. Well in that case, seas's a bit far chronologically speaking from the beach. Sure when those mares were molten, you could go for a swim in them. And at least you'd be warmer...

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Happy

Re: Fifty years later...

Sea's a bit far from the beach though. And it's rather cold for swimming.

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I'm planning aa marathon

I'm thinking of getting in some popcorn, snacks and drinkies and having a film-a-thon. I'm thinking 'The Right Stuff', 'First Man' then 'Apollo 13'. Are there any decent films about the Soviet space program?

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

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Devil

Re: Ripley and a cuddly earth

And now he's got a space vehicle with a nosecone that opens up! Flee little spaceships! Flee! SpaceX are coming to eat you!

When the bits hit the FAN: US military accused of knackering Russian trolls, news org's IT gear amid midterm elections

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I suppose nastyware on the iPhone might infect the PC and send it to a fake Windows Update server? But then why do that, and not just put all the nastyware on the iPhone in the first place?

Who knows. And given the source aren't all that trustworthy, perhaps they've missed some major points from their account.

'They took away our Cup-a-Soup!' Share your tales of bleak breakout areas with us

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Re: We have a breakout....

There are about 6 people in this building, shared between 2 companies, though we have an extra couple of home workers who come in a few times a week.

I think I've bought three 12 packs of teaspoons, and yet we've still got about the same number as when we moved in here. Yet we seem to be gathering dessert spoons, I'm wondering do they have a growth stage in their lifecycle? Or are they the reverse of amoeba, and 3 teas spoons merge into a borg-spoon.

Another way to look at Amazon's counterfeit-busting Project Zero: Making merchants cough up protection money

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Re: Disruptive...

This is the big problem with Amazon, and what I came to post. For their warehouses (i.e. everything fulfilled by them including third partie sellers - they pool all delivered goods, and then fulfill from that common pool. This is of course done to save money. The problem is that it only needs one supplier putting in fakes to utterly contaminate their supply chain.

Having allowed this contamination of their own supply chain, they've then taken the usual Silicon Valley response which isn't to say, "let's increase our costs to fix this problem we've created" - but to say, "Hey! New revenue opportunities! Let's charge our own suppliers to fix the problem we created. And... Profit!"

This isn't helped by so many companies taking the cheap option of manufacturing in China, and then wondering why the factories they use in a jurisdiction with no proper legal protections do an extra production run and sell those goods into the same supply chain and undercut them.

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

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Re: Finally....

Nope. Too early for the paperless office. We'll get the paperless toilet first.

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Re: Instant Ink?

Our small company uses Instant Ink. It's great... For us anyway. £4 a month for 150 sheets is about a third of our previous ink/toner needs. If you're doing serious amounts of printing, I don't know if it adds up.

Of course since they buggered up our billing, our 3 months free got turned into £200 credit. So I've not bought any ink in nearly 2 years. Not sure that's enough on its own to take 1% off their sales though.

Insane homeowners association tries to fine resident for dick-shaped outline car left in snow

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Re: RE. demented housing associations (tm)

Tell them you require the Geiger counters for the portable nuclear reactor required to charge your car batteries as solar charging is banned...

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Happy

Re: Went on vacation...

Nine for mortal men, doomed to die.

One bin to rule them all,

One bin to find them.

One bin to bring them all,

And in the darkness bind them.

Data breach rumours abound as UK Labour Party locks down access to member databases

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Re: Laws don’t apply to politicians

Phil O'Sophical,

They don't have to. The constitutional position is clear, they're MPs until the next election. Admittedly Carswell and Reckless did it when they went off to UKIP, but that's pretty unusual.

Although back in the 19th Century there was a tradition of resigning, and standing in a by-election, after being made a minister. Which was occasionally awkward, when someone lost and had to find another seat.

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