* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

7523 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Unsupervised Brit kids are meeting STRANGERS from the INTERNET

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Re: " then they get what they get"


We evolved as groups. As happens it was the duty of all society to look after children. This was probably one of the reasons that humans did so well. The parents, who tended to be younger, could wander off hunting for food, while the older folk could look after the kids and do whatever early agriculture they were into. Probably a gross simplification - but it'll do. So it was probably granny and older siblings whose job it was to stop the kiddies from eating those tasty looking poisonous berries. As well as the dislike of bitter-tasting things, built into most children, then goes away as they grow up. But if the group as a whole failed to nurture its children, then it was likely to get out-competed by the one just over the veldt, that did.

The development of the 'nuclear family' and the raising of children being the sole responsibility of the parents is mostly quite a new thing. When most people lived in small communities that barely changed over decades, it tended to be seen as the duty of the whole village/street/whatever to raise the kids. Certainly that was still true in 1940s / 50s South London, where my Mum said that you couldn't get away with smoking on the top deck of the bus, because there was always a friend/neighbour/relative around who'd spot you - and it would eventually get back to your parents.

Society has changed. In some ways for the worse, with less sense of community. But then that whole community of everyone living in each others' pockets could also be pretty stifling. We're currently undergoing big changes in society, and we tend to be slower to adapt to those changes than they happen. So who knows what family life will be like in 30 years, or what relationship there will be between state, community, extended family and close family?

We don't want 1984 or the government issuing breeding licenses. We probably also don't want a free-for-all. It's all rather complicated I'm afraid.

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Re: Kids these days ...


Ah yes. Perhaps I should have said kittens?

Actually I am British, but I thought puppies was more of an Americanism? Not the word that first comes to mind for me. Which I guess would be boobs. Perhaps it's a generational or geographical thing, and in need of a serious sociological study...

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Re: This is exacltly why porn filters are bad

M Gale,

That's evil. It's like walking up to someone and saying, "don't think of pink elephants". Now you've released temptation and curiosity.

Although I'm pretty good at resisting. What is once seen, can never be unseen. Mind-Bleach does not exist. So far I've avoided goatse. Although I have been rickrolled, and I'm still getting over the trauma...

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Re: Good advice, 5 years ago

People certainly need to dial down the repetition of the bad parents use the TV/Internet/Games console as a virtual babysitter argument.

In some ways that's good. When I was a kid, my Mum had to get cooking and cleaning done, plus sometimes be dealing with my brothers. Therefore at certain points I was expected to be able to amuse myself. Which is actually a healthy thing for a child. Kids need to be able to develop the ability to play, and sometimes that's interacting with adults, sometimes other kids, and sometimes on their own. It's all part of growing up and shaping your adult brain.

Obviously there were no tablets for me to play with. So I had to make do with toys. Mostly Lego and cars for me. Plus a bit of TV. There weren't kids TV channels and videos, so that was also naturally limited.

There's nothing wrong with letting kids do the things they like. So long as they aren't doing only one thing all the time. I guess there is a problem now that kids can play computer games non-stop, or watch non-stop telly. Although I've never personally known any young kids that want to.

The internet does present special problems, because it's very hard to supervise, and there are real dangers there. At least in the good old days, you were safe from the bullies in your bedroom. Now they can get at you on Facebook and by text. But parenting and dangerous things is nothing new to this generation. I was allowed out on my bike on the local streets, after I was proven able to ride it, and within set limits. Had I broken those limits - or proved unable to avoid cars, then the bike would have been taken away again. One problem is the people who refuse to learn anything about computers. They've decided in advance that it's too hard, and it's a new technology they don't like. Weirdly many people will say this, even though they buy online, research for personal and business reasons online and send many emails. And I guess that blind-spot can create parenting problems. As there are tools out there to help you manage younger kids online, before they know more than you about computers and can circumvent your rules anyway...

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Re: Data appears to be mixed up.

Good point. I forgot to add that bit to my post above, about answering the question to be cool. My Mum was surveyed at school, aged about 14. So we're talking early 50s. And she said that she smoked, when asked, as did most of the kids. She even knew which brand, Senior Service, because she knew people who smoke those. But you had to say yes, because in the 50s smoking was virtually compulsory...

None of them did, because they couldn't afford it. And would almost certainly have got caught, in that a relative or friend would have spotted them misbehaving at some point, and reported them to their mothers. Mum said that was the downside of the tight-knit communities that everyone looks back to. As kids, you could be disciplined by any plausible adult, and anything you did in public was likely to get back to your Mum.

As happens she'd been buying tobacco since before she was 5, as her Mum sent her to the local shop to pick it up for her Grandad.

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Re: Kids these days ...

Well it's not like you can tempt them with puppies any more. They can see millions of those for free on Youtube...

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Primary school age = under 11. How many 11 year-olds get the chance to meet new people unsupervised? Except at parties and school - or playing round their local road/park?

I really struggle to believe that nearly 20% of them have done this. Unless they're finding the kids in their local area. I can certainly believe that some have, but I'm more prepared to believe they've misunderstood the question than that so many have done this.

Certainly we could do with some proper research into what the kids mean by this. Do they mean they've met someone in another class at school, or a kid living on their street, or a friend of an existing friend first on Facebook, then met them in real life? Or have they gone off to meet someone completely unconnected with them - which is a whole lot more worrying?

I know a few kids that age, and they expand their circles of friends in a way that was much harder before. If you've got a mate, you're going to see all their posts on Facebook, including the ones from friends that you may have never met. Say friends/relatives in another town. Now in my day, your only likelihood of ever talking to them was at a birthday, or if they came over to stay. And that usually wasn't time to build any kind of relationship. But with FB, you see their comments all the time, and can fire ones back. Then it's easy to be texting or Blackberry messaging - which can easily lead to phonecalls.

I know a 10 year-old who's met people in meat-space after only conversing online first, but that was through support groups for blind kids. And the far more dangerous thing to his mental health is that he's also met JLS, Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole. Poor kid''ll be scarred for life!

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Re: Good advice

You tell them a story about how a local kid met up with someone they'd only met online before, and were forced to listen to Barry Manilow records, while wearing uncool trainers and eating vegetables. That ought to do the trick...

Deploying Turing to see if we have free will

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Re: Basic failures

That all implies that the conscious mind can't overrule the subconscious. And I'm not sure that's true. Certainly from personal experience. Although even if it is, I don't know how you set about proving it...

Certainly I make many decisions instantly, without conscious thought. But I've often changed decisions or opinions on reflection, as well as post-rationalising others - or just not thinking about it any more.

But even here, you can program, or train yourself to react instantly in ways that you have decided beforehand. This is what sports and military training is all about. Now is that the subconscious instructing the conscious to train the subconscious? How would we prove it either way?

My personal answer to this question is that I don't particularly like the idea of pre-determination. But it's a bloody hard question to answer. However, as we can't even say how the brain works physically, or even what is consciousness, we probably don't have sufficient information to hit the bigger questions just yet. If our actions are pre-determined, but we and the universe are too complex to predict, then I guess it doesn't really matter, and we can carry on with our illusion of free will perfectly happily.

If we were ever able to predict ourselves beforehand, that might give us the option to try changing the outcome - and then we're into time travelling and prophecy paradoxes. That's why I prefer drinking to philosophy...

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Re: Free from what, exactly?


To quote from 'The Terminator', "the future is not set". Although of course it turns out that it is. Ooops.

But just because the past cannot be changed, doesn't necessarily mean that the future can't be. Although this then presents fun problems if it turns out that time travel is possible.

If there's a picnic planned tomorrow, it doesn't have to happen. I can change my mind several times, and the question is then is the picnic decision already decided for me, before I get to make it. I don't see any evidence that it is. That seems to be a circular argument that because my mind is predictable, then the outcome is predictable. But if intelligence isn't predictable, then neither is the universe, assuming it has intelligence in it - as that intelligence can change the universe.

So as far as I can see, we're back to where we started. Is the brain basically following a pattern, or are we actually thinking inside here? To some extent it doesn't matter I guess. If, 'I think - therefore I am', then why not, 'I think I influence whether there is a picnic or not - therefore I do'?

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Re: Free from what, exactly?

The question is whether our brains are just very complicated, but squishy, computers. In which case, the structure determines each decision we make - and so although we may think we're deciding things - actually we're not. That decision was built into the system. Thus with sufficiently complex modelling, you could entirely predict our brain output.

I'm not sure if this debate is even worth having yet, seeing as we don't really understand how the brain works. Although I guess there's an argument to be made that it doesn't matter how many interactions there are between the chemical and electrical bits and bobs, so long as you can model it you can predict it.

I'd have thought the brain would be a chaotic system though, given how complex it is, and that bits of it work in several different ways, often simultaneously. But to be honest, all this makes my brain ache. And I'm sure you could have predicted in advance that I'd say that...

Comet ISON perhaps NOT GARBAGE after all - glows GREEN in latest snaps

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I have a perfect method of prediction

I'm not pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. I have a foolproof method of telling whether the comet will be spectacular or not.

If the weather in Britain is bloody awful, and the skies are permanently cloudy, then the comet will be amazingly spectacular - and so bright it would be visible in daylight. If the weather in Britain is nice, it'll be a flop.

Now I've done my bit, it's up to someone else to do the easy bit, and predict the British weather.

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Re: OhOh

Why's no-one done a Triffids vs. Zombies film? Thinks: Which side to cheer for?

Personally I think the Triffids win hands down. Or I guess stumps down, given their anatomy.

11m Chinese engulfed by 'Airpocalypse' at 4000% of safe pollution levels

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Re: Hmmm...

We probably don't have the patent, but if they start referring to theirs as pea-soupers, then I'm sure we can have them on trademark abuse!

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Re: Now pull my other one

The last big smog in London in the fifties killed something like 2,500 people. In a weekend. Although regulation on city factories and power stations was part of it, it was also creating smokeless zones, where people couldn't burn wood, or normal coal. I believe domestic heating was the biggest factor.

at the time, London only had a population of about 7.5 million. With China's cities being bigger, and no state healthcare, the death tolls will probably be bigger, but never reported.

Although my Mum described the London smogs as worse than that video, because she said you couldn't even see the kerb, from the middle of the road.

Meet the 'KARDASHIAN Phone' – what Apple bods nicknamed the iPhone 5s

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Killer Aircraft Released Defensively Against Self-Guided High Impact Attack Nukes

Is this going to be the Register Special Project Bureau's response to the coming Rise of the Machines?

Or perhaps an attempt by vulture central to harness its new-found technological lead in autonomous spaceplanery to finally get some answers from Apple's PR department:

Kinetic Aircraft Released Downwards After Satellite Hibernation Infiltrating Apple Nerve-centre?

I think her name is a bit long for backronyming really...

Bacteria-chomping phages could kill off HOSPITAL SUPERBUGS

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Re: One question...

[chomps on cigar]

The only good bacteria, is a dead bacteria! These so-called "friendly" bacteria, are just pinko, commie turncoats! I wouldn't trust 'em further than I could spit! Napalm is the only language they understand. It's only because of these long-haired hippy types, and gutless politicians, that hospitals don't use napalm!

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This is all very well, until the phages reach the new nuclear reactors, and get mutated into giant person-eating super-phages. Just like we all saw in those documentaries, 'The Prisoner' and 'Pac-Man'.

What will we do to fight the killer-phage menace, that we caused in order to fight the killer bacteria menace? I know an old woman, who swallowed a fly...

On a serious note, hooray for research. Although I don't see how we can know they're the most abundant life-form in the universe. I'm sure the emperor Tharg the Magnificent will have a good deal to say about that.

Apple's first iPhone now COSTS MORE than golden mobe 5S

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Re: But I really do miss the flip-phone format.

and it's just like original star trek communicators!

Except that bad mannered Catpain Kirk was always using his on speakerphone. What an annoying man to have to share a train carriage with...

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I gave away my Sony Ericsson P800, for which I had original box, manuals, charger and 3 spare styluseseses. If I'd kept it, I could now be RICH! After all, it didn't even have GPRS... The friend I gave it to was still using it well after the iPhone came out.

Sadly I also got rid of my Motorola MicroTac years ago. Although I think the 'micro' was a bit cheeky in the name, as a belt clip or bag was the only realistic way to carry it. I miss the days of having to pull up the aerial before making a call, and then flip the phone open. Well OK, maybe not the aerial bit, particularly as there was a point when some of those were fakes and the phones had internal antennae. But I really do miss the flip-phone format. No-one seems to do them any more, which is a real shame.

Apple slams brakes on orders of (not so cheap) plasticky iPhone 5C

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Re: Not $50

Ouch! Thanks for that. I knew US tariffs were higher than in Blighty, didn't realise it was that bad.

In comparison £34 (ex VAT) per month gets you a 2 year contract, new iPhone or Galaxy 4 for nothing up-front, 1 GB 4G data and unlimited calls and texts. And that's dropping slightly as all the players are now doing 4G.

I believe 3 will give you unlimited calls, texts and bandwidth, including tethering and top-end phone for £35 per month including VAT. And when they go 4G in a month's time, they upgrade all their users for free. You can get 1/2 GB of data, some calls, many texts and a cheap phone for £15 per month (inc VAT) with them.

Do you pay sales tax on the contracts, or only the phone itself?

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Re: Want an apple but not the 5c or the 5s

What's the financial value of the apps you've invested in?

You can now get a really nice Android (Nexus 4) or Windows Phone (Nokia 820) for £200-£250. That price difference buys quite a few replacement apps. Although there's a greater likelihood that the apps you want are on Android - but I've heard the Windows Marketplace is much improved.

I think Apple are now over-priced. They weren't that much before, as the top-end phones were a lot better than the budget end, and I thought the iPads were by far the best tablets until about a year ago (and so worth the premium). But the competition has hotted up, and you can often get very good budget models. Also, unlike Apple, last year's top end is now down to £200-£300. My phone is currently what work gives me, my next tablet is unlikely to be an iPad. I've probably only spent around £50 on apps, and can get an equally good tablet for £200 less than the 64GB iPad I had to get, as there's no memory card slot.

It then comes down to OS preference. In a phone, I like simplicity and would go back to Windows. In a tablet, I rather fancy the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.

Billionaire vows to turn 007's Lotus Esprit into actual submarine car

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Re: Hmmm...

Given that he appears to have made a success out of both electric sportscars and cheap rockets, I'd be very cautious about using the word wacky about any of this guy's projects. I'm sure he's bound to screw something up, as if you keep trying hard things that's pretty much inevitable.

But he appears to have taken two established industries (rockets and cars), walked in and said, "what's so difficult about this then?" Then urinated upon the incumbent big players from a very large height, in a very short time. It's all rather impressive.

Admittedly he's also put a cheese into orbit, so I guess wacky does apply somewhat...

I'm really disappointed that he didn't put some port into orbit to go with it - major logistical screw-up there. But I hope he invited some friends round for dinner, and then proceeded to produce the world's most amazing cheeseboard. There's one-in-the-eye for your fellow billionaires!

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Re: Whatever next

I see you've decided he's a Bruce Wayne / Tony Stark good billionaire.

This is of course a possibility. However given his interest in rockets and monorails (well vacuum tube railways is close enough...) - I beg to suggest that we need to consider the alternative here. I'm afraid it's nominative determinism all over again. If you give someone a supervillain's name, such as Elon Musk, then you really can't be surprised when he goes off the rails and tries to destroy the world.

When the super-mutated-killer bacteria from his 'flying cheese into space' experiment start wiping out humanity, don't say I didn't warn you!

What's that? 5 black Tesla Roadsters have just pulled up outside? OHHHH SHHHHIIIIII......





Alarming tales: What goes on INSIDE Reg hack's hi-tech bedroom

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Re: Bright

My nice Bug DAB alarm thingy is brilliant. Sadly now discontinued. You can separately set the brightness for the clock and display when switched on from off, to barely visible, medium and 'Oh God my retinas!'. It also has 2 alarms, so I can have a buzz then a radio, or 2 radios coming on an hour apart. The screen is also on one of those boingy braided steel moveable things, like some lamps - so you can bring it close to your eyes if they fail to open properly in the morning.

It also theoretically plays (and records) to SD cards. But it's so picky about which ones it'll accept, and changeable in this, that it would be an incredibly unreliable way to wake up.

The teasmade on the other hand has a sensor to change the clock back-light depending on ambient light. It varies from as bright as the midday tropical sun to "ve have vays ov making you talk!" spotlight in the face. I have to rest a book against it at night. And I used to sleep with the curtains open and a streetlamp directly outside - which I can't now living in a ground floor flat.

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All hail the mighty teasmade!!!

Teasmades aren't a thing from the 70s! How very dare you! They're a thing from now. I have one on my bedside table. A very nice one, bought from Amazon last year for £50. It's wonderful to wake up to a cuppa in the morning.

Now admittedly there are some issues. You have to use teabags, because the chances of me successfully manipulating pot, cup and tea strainer at early o'clock are pretty close to zero. But I have found that fruit teas are very nice. As they take longer to brew, giving valuable extra snoozing time, and they fill your bedroom with a wonderful fruity aroma. That being the upside of the usual fruit tea problem, they smell so much better than they actually taste.

I can also confirm the jet engine issues. Even from the opposite side of the bed, the quick-boil kettle is incredibly loud in a quiet room, after hours of restful slumber. However, in my case this is a good thing, as I'm perfectly capable of turning off the loudest alarm clock, even if it's on the other side of the room - I can sleepwalk over to it, switch off, and be back in bed asleep before conscious thought has had a chance.

I can confirm though that climbing into the shower, with a scalding hot cup of life-giving tea on the windowsill - ready for perfect drinking when you get out 5 minutes later - is a wonderful thing.

Now, if only someone could come up with the baconsarniesmade...

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Re: why not try

I was thinking that. Or he could get one of those pillows that has a speaker built in and a headphone cable. Then you just plug into phone or iPod for your own wake-up sound.

As for putting the phone in aeroplane mode, why not just disable the beeps for tweets, linked-ins and emails. Admittedly that doesn't save you from being woken by text, but then I don't tend to get early morning texts.

iPhone 5S autopsy shows WHY it can't tell which end is up – dev

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Nah, I don't think it's the fanbois downvoting, so much as the terminally bored. That's an old, old line now. After all, you felt the need to use the joke alert icon on your post - which is almost as bad as laughing at your own jokes when no-one else is...

Personally I was hoping that the story was going to be Apple had installed the sensor upside down. After all, various rocket makers have, so I don't see why they shouldn't be allowed to join the fun.

OAR-some! 18ft SEA SERPENT discovered off US coast

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Re: "“It’s one of these rare weird things you see in Southern California,” Chace said."

Well, most people are rare. Unless you overcook them...

Mac fans: You don't need Windows to get ripped off in tech support scams

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Re: Heh

A colleague of mine engaged 'John' from Microsoft in conversation. I did have a longish chat with one or two, established that they weren't just dumb tools of the real scammers, but the first-line people know they're committing fraud, so now I can feel justified in being rude to them from the start.

So my colleague didn't try the Linux gambit this time (kudos to the commentard who went C64 on them!). He started off with sensible questions and worry about the virus. Then asked how they knew his PC was infected. Then got aggressive. "How do you know my PC has a problem? Are you spying on me? You've already lied to me once when you told me your name's John. But you're not calling from Microsoft but from India."

This got our caller surprisingly upset. Which is odd, as he was calling from India, but maybe he really was called John? He told my Home Counties accented colleague to "fuck off you fucking Paki". Weirdly he didn't hang up - but kept going on. I was killing myself laughing at this point. Then they got into the game of 'you hang up, no you hang up', except it was "you fuck off. No you fuck off first."

I've got a few call centre people grumpy before, when they deserved it, but I've never heard anything like that. It took a while to recover from laughing. Our company has an ex-domestic number, so we were getting 2 calls a week from 'Microsoft support' at one point.

Twitter snubs IPOcalypse host Nasdaq in favour of NYSE

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Re: If you aint making money

I think so I am?

How do you think the railways got built in the 19th Century? Floats of non profit-making companies. In fact, lots of them didn't have any assets at all, they were using the markets for the original purpose, to tap up investors for cash, to invest in doing something useful. Then they took the money and used it to build nice profitable railways.

Well, apart from the ones who just stole it, or bought all the supplies at inflated prices from their own companies, or built loss-making routes into markets with very few passengers... Sadly the railway boom was very much like the dot.com boom - lots of great companies were created and survived to do useful things, lots of investors lost lots of cash on the others. A few people ended up with lots of other peoples' money or in prison.

Assange: 'Ecuadorian embassy staff are like my family'

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Re: What really pisses me off

Sweden is long, thin and bendy, and their football team play in yellow. So they're about the bananariest country you can get...

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Re: In other news....

See also Peter Stringfellow...

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Well I suppose he's got the whole internet in there with him. So an infinity of cat videos and things to hack should keep him occupied. Perhaps we could break their broadband, and he'd be out like a shot. All MI5 have to do is to persuade the Ecuadorian ambassador to go to TalkTalk - no one would ever suspect...

I'm not sure they can extend the embassy. Property near Harrods ain't cheap. And they might need FCO permission to do so. Which I doubt they'd get.

I guess it all comes down to the psychology of Assange. Is he willing to stay there for ever? He is apparently paranoid, but does he really believe his own propaganda about being shipped off to the US? Or does he know he's guilty, so doesn't fancy doing time in Sweden? Or will he leave the moment he can no longer generate publicity? After all, leaving will get him loads!

Or Ecuador will just get pissed off, and chuck him out. Or the Met let their guard down, and he sneaks out.

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Re: @FunkyGibbon

So, if someone were to engage in a homosexual act in Cameroon, then skip the country to travel here, you would expect the UK to ship them back to face trial?

Nope. It's not an offence here, and therefore under a normal extradition treaty you can't get shipped out for it.

Things are a bit more muddy under the European Arrest Warrant, which is not really an extradition treaty at all, but a hybrid of that and an arrest warrant. All part of ever-closer-union. But as happens, the Supreme Court ruled that the allegations counted as offences here anyway.

Also, that's why the Home Secretary has the final say on all normal extraditions. Except for that stupid treaty that the Labour idiots signed with the US, and the EAW (which I also think is a bad idea).

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Not worth the effort. It costs us money, it's making life difficult for Ecuador. They now want to solve it.

Apparently their last ambassador said to the a junior minister at the FCO something like, how can we resolve this diplomatic issue between us? And got the rather awesome response, "not our stone, not our shoe." Ecuador got themselves into this, it's up to them to get out of it. Not that the Foreign Office can do much anyway. They don't have the legal right to waive the arrest warrant.

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Re: Deluded

John Deeb,

Nope. It's rape. That's the accusation, as confirmed by the Supreme Court, it would also be rape here. The condom/no condom offences are less serious. The attempting to force yourself on someone physically definitely goes down on the list as rape. As does waiting til she's asleep and then going for it without condom.

I don't see how any of this can be proved, there were only 2 of them in the room at each time. So even if he doesn't seem terribly trustworthy (and he skipped bail), there's got to be reasonable doubt. But there's no doubt about the law.

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Re: What really pisses me off

Okay, he seems to be a mildly unpleasant plonker, but he doesn't seem to present any particular danger to British residents, even if he did a runner.

That's the propaganda anyway... However in reality he's not only accused of not wearing a condom, he's also accused of rape. All the Appeal Court documents are public, where they list the charges and explain how they differ (or don't) from UK offences.

He's accused of trying to physically force himself on one woman, not violently only by superior size and weight, because she said no sex without condom. Eventually he then stopped put one on, but it either split or he split it. So I guess that's an attempted rape plus something less serious. Then having a go when she was asleep, minus condom of course, when he'd only got permission for sex with. Which they said was also rape under UK law, although I'd have thought less serious than the one using force. I don't remember the details of the other woman now, it was a while ago.

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Nope. That little bit of land is still Blighty. It's just that we've done a deal. We don't walk into your embassy, and you don't walk into ours. It's called the Vienna Conventions. We could break it at any time, but only in exceptional circumstances, unless we want the same to happen to us.

So when terrorists stormed the Iranian embassy, Iran's government allowed us to send in the SAS. It's an interesting question as to what would have happened, had they refused. When a Libyan diplomat murdered a police woman from inside their embassy, we didn't go in, but chucked him out of the country.

However, after that incident, we did change the law to allow us to revoke diplomatic privilege under certain circumstances. So as I understand it, the threat to Ecuador was that we'd simply declare it 'no longer an embassy', then wander in at our leisure. Presumably having first given them notice. But the law was aimed at situations like the Iranian embassy, or idiot Libyan diplomats shooting out of windows - I doubt this interpretation would have got through the courts.

Also note that asylum in embassies isn't really recognised by us, or the Vienna Conventions. But is commonly accepted in South America.

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Andy S,

No I think that was Snowden. Possibly at the suggestion of Assange, the London embassy said he could have asylum. Which Ecuador then went back on I think - or certainly told the ambassador off. He may have been dumped for that, or for failing to get a deal on Assange with the Foreign Office.

Assange was in the embassy for at least a month before Ecuador confirmed they'd give asylum. That was after our ambassador botched things out there, and gave them an excuse to play the injured party. Although it may be that the embassy staff should have kicked him out before it became public. But one suggestion was that Assange had already been to the top for his permission, when he interviewed the President for Russia Today.

All-in-all, not a great advert for diplomacy. Our ambassador shouldn't have left them his written "speaking notes" (often done for clarification), then they'd have had nothing to shout to the press about. But Ecuador took a loud and sanctimonious public position, from which it's very hard to back down. They were hoping we'd do a deal, to get the problem out of our hair, but the FCO don't pay the policing budget, and have no power to just let Assange go, so Ecuador will have to back down (very embarrassing), or put up with him. Maybe buy the next door flat, and extend the embassy?

Microsoft: Everyone stop running so the fat kid Win RT can catch up

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Re: Glacial?

Jim McDonald,

You've got a point. But, and I think this is a very big but, almost all the goodies in Windows Phone 8 were under-the-bonnet stuff, not shiny user-interface stuff. Now it's also true that the under-the-bonnet stuff allows for shinier hardware, but there wasn't a great deal of extra niceness for the users to play with in the upgrade from 7-8. So yes, they're getting the technical advances in, but I think one of the frustrations at Nokia was just how slow MS were to improve the UI stuff.

The really stupid thing is that some of this stuff was dead easy! I liked the simplicity of Win Phone, and it's the last phone I bought. Now I'm on a work iPhone - but if I buy again it'll be a Nexus device or a mid-price Nokia. But there were really simple tweaks that would only take a few days of programming work to do, that really should have been done. A torch should have been built into the OS, you should have been able to link menu options on the home screen (it allowed some but not others) - or had a shortcut menu that gave access to WiFi/volume/brightness etc, rather than burying them in the settings. All this is really simple stuff that it would take an idiot not to notice. And with all Microsoft's resources it's criminal stupidity that they didn't fix. I suspect that the managers weren't listening to criticism and all use iPhones themselves, hence weren't picking up on the everyday annoyances.

Bonking boffins say bacon biters won't breed

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Re: We are all DOOOOOMED!

Don't worry about those condoms love, I've just had a bacon sandwich.

[...as said by Julian Assange... Allegedly...]

Loathed wiggly-word CAPTCHAs morph into 'fun' click-'n'-drag games

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Re: Captcha's are bad m'kay?

I guess there's no magic-bullet. You're going to have to have alternative CAPTCHAs. I can't think of anything that's going to help people like me, with serious visual impairments, that won't then screw over people with hearing problems or motor problems. And I guess you've got to spare a thought for people with dyslexia on CAPTCHAs too.

Having tried the hearing ones, they're a total dead loss. I have pretty good hearing, and I'm very good at discriminating sounds, having mixed live music - but I can't make head-nor-tail of them. Some of them are so bad that I'm not even sure what's the background noise and what's the computer generated words.

I can see well enough to complete the text ones, eventually. But the more weird contrasting backgrounds and such that people put in, the worse they get - and any decent modern image edge-detection and OCR software beats my 5% vision any day of the week. But if you can see, but struggle to control a mouse, I guess wordy-CAPTCHAs are probably the best thing for you.

I'd like to take issue with one part of the article though:

Making a bad problem worse, one in four attempts at completing a CAPTCHA fail – a figure that (although we weren't able to independent verify it) sounds about right.

One in four attempts at completing a CAPTCHA succeed...

There, corrected that for you.

So, onto solutions. "If you're so clever why can't you do better style." Boring suggestion, just have multiple alternative types, and pick the one you can do. Second suggestion, a tickbox that says "are you a naughty bot". Well it works on immigration forms... I've promised that I'm not a terrorist and was never a member of the Nazi party, and obviously I wouldn't lie. Third option, which would solve spam, CAPTCHA abuse at a stroke. Digital Vigilantism. There are enough clever techy people online that we can track down the spammers, after all they have to get paid, and some ship out products. So we have online search teams and digital lynch mobs, for those without the technical skills to find the spammers - but a more direct approach to percussive server maintenance...

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Re: Less annoying than mangled text?

Tufty Squirrel,

What's wrong with advertising? Seriously, if it's not intrusive and it's allowing stuff that costs money to be free it's a perfectly good thing. For example, TV ads have in the past been funny, so a short ad break with 2 or 3 20-30 second ads that are funny or have a nice tune without being annoying are perfectly acceptable in exchange for a free TV program that's decent. If the telly's not decent, don't watch it. If the ads are annoying then record the telly and skip them, or use the time to make a cuppa or have a wee.

Online banner ads that behave and don't break the browser aren't annoying, as you aren't forced to look at them. I don't even see them unless I'm looking, or they misbehave. And again, they allow publications such as El Reg to be free - so what's not to like.

In this case, you have to have a CAPTCHA anyway, so if they can come up with something that's better than the current really shit ones, what harm does it do if it's an advert? Are you so weak-willed that you can't see a picture of a bottle of Heinz Salad Cream without having to instantly buy one? Or are you so stuck in some kind of student-politics nirvana that all big business must be evil, therefore it's still evil even if it does something good?

Of course, this new system may also be rubbish. But even then, unless it's more rubbish than the current system, it still doesn't do you any harm. So just relax.

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I'm sure I did one a few months ago, that involved putting things in a kitchen in the correct place. So the egg went in the frying pan, the spoon in the saucepan or something. But I don't remember if it was a real one, or just a demo from a company promoting the idea. To be fair, it may even have been this same company...

Apple's Steve Jobs was a SEX-crazed World War II fighter pilot, says ex

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Re: I was Steve Jobs in a former life

But I was anonymous coward in another life, and so I refute your refutation...

Cannabis can CURE CANCER - cheaply and without getting you high

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Hooray! My cancer is cured!

The only problem is, I'm reeeaaalllly hungry. Anyone got any crisps?

Twitter sets up BEELLION-DOLLAR credit line ahead of IPO

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To cover all their losses. I suspect most of the IPO money will go to existing shareholders, like it did with Facebook. The difference was, Facebook makes profits. Not enough to be worth $100bn, but still plenty. Twitter doesn't. Normally an IPO is supposed to be to fund the continuing development of the company, not just to enrich the current owners. But Facebook didn't need the cash. I suspect with Twitter it's that they don't want to lose control of the gravy-train, so only want to sell 10%. But that's not enough to fund the losses, and pay and headcount rises they're going to spend to chase profits.

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Not if you're the current owners of Twitter it isn't...


Why a Robin Hood tax on filthy rich City types is the very LAST thing needed

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The point of a transactions tax, is to tax transactions.

The point of a profits tax, is to tax profits.

So you don't pay capital gains tax on the transaction of selling the shares, you only pay if you made a profit, and that profit is over your annual capital gains allowance, and various other considerations. VAT is also different, for the reasons I've stated.

The idea of a transactions tax is to tax every transaction throughout the chain. Usually it's set small enough that it doesn't hurt, or affect the market too much. Sometimes it's done to reduce volatility, others just as a means of gathering relatively painless taxes. One of the downsides is that in long transaction chains, the taxes start to build up to quite high values. Unless that's the reason you're doing it, to reduce the number of transactions, then it can have serious unintended consequences. VAT isn't cumulative. The biggest problems with the FTT would most likely be to bugger up the repo market. That would mean problems for the Southern European government debt markets and for banks trying to raise short-term cash. Killing the repo market was one of the things that caused the financial crash - banks didn't trust each other, so they stopped giving each other short term loans, which is one of the ways they balance the fact that they lend on longer terms than they borrow. Causing another banking crisis or Eurozone debt wouldn't be ideal...

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