* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5125 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

We bet your firm doesn't stick to half of these 10 top IT admin tips

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Nowhere to hide

my favourite saying is "Security is also providing access to those who should, as well as denying it to those who shouldn't".

This is really important. Actually I could even make an argument that in almost all cases, proper access is more important than data security. Unless of course your data has real life-and-death implications. For two reasons:

Firslty - you're probably trying to do something. If you can't do that something (whatever it is), then your whole organisation is rendered pointless.

Secondly - if you over-secure everything, so that people can't get their work done - then they'll just break the rules. And then your security it toast.

Obviously this is all subject to sensible risk assessment. Sometimes the risk of the right thing not getting done is less than the risk of the data being leaked or damaged - in which case your security needs to be more inflexible, people need to understand why this is and know they'll get hammered if they break the rules.

This is possible though. You can get people to agree to quite unreasonable procedures, so long as everyone agrees that the risk is high enough to justify the pain. And extra effort, and resources, are dedicated to helping the people on the ground to get their work done.

I give an example. My Mum works with vulnerable children. But as an outside consultant for a very well known charity, seeing as she's retired. They've got their network wrapped up nice and tight. So tightly in fact, that she's been working for them since she retired ten years ago - and only got issued a mobile phone this year. So sure, they can now remote delete this data, and enforce a password on her. But before that she had all the details on her personal phone, with no password.

She wasn't allowed to remote connect to their network (or even connect in the office) until she'd done several of those shitty online courses. But you couldn't get onto those online courses, without access to the network! Ahem. So she had to drive 60 miles to the nearest office, only for some shitty online video course thingy - that was a total bureaucratic waste of time. So because she was unable to connect to their secure (so secure you can't access it) data system, she was emailing stuff to her boss to upload, from her personal email account in the clear. And IT were no help, and just followed their procedures.

Sadly many of these big charities seem to have swallowed all the bureaucratic crap of big corporations and government - mostly I suspect by hoovering up all the crappy middle management types that are unemployable elsewhere - because they pay too many staff.

Chaos would be bad. This information is in some cases very sensitive. But just finding the names and addresses of families with disabled kids is easy - there'll often be stories in the media and charity press releases with names, that you can cross rereference with the phone book. I'd suggest that helping them is probably more important than hindering your frontline people - and there's an argument for keeping the sensitive notes in paper form, and never committing them to computer. But if you must, then you need to commit much more IT resources to the necessary hand-holding.

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Inflatable space podule set for orbital trial

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Happy

If they don't make the astronauts inflate it by blowing into a tube until they go red in the face, I shall be very disappointed. Particularly if one lets go, and it flies off round the solar system making a farting noise that nobody can hear...

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Brexit: Leaving the EU could trigger UK science patent law rejig

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Re: Divide and conquer

Len,

Nope. Leaving the EU doesn't make our democracy better. Although we could change it if we chose to. And not all the aspects you complain about are particularly relevant. The head of state has extremely limted powers and the Lords are more a delaying and revising chamber. Both do a pretty good job, and if either become politically controversial know that their days are numbered.

The downsides of a more independent (and therefore less politically accountable) civil service need to be offset against the downsides of having more political control of them - as happens in the US for example.

But finally the EU is more undemocratic. Not because it's an evil conspiracy, but because it doesn't contain a demos. There is no homogenous electorate, and so even if the European Parliament did have proper power, it still wouldn't work that well.

But one of the things you can do in Britain is to "vote the bums out!" Something not possible in the politically fractured EU. And if you don't like an EU decision it's therefore very hard to reverse. The EU is too big and unweildy to be democratic, unless the people of Europe were a lot more united (and culturally/politically similar) than they actually are.

The Eurozone crisis has I think shown the political limits of the EU. We more-or-less happily move cash to the rest of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to make up for the fact that sterling suits the South East better. The Eurozone politically cannot do that yet, becuase the peoples of Europe don't feel they're part of one group. Until that changes the EU cannot be democratic, because people will only vote in their own interest. Thus Greece and Cyprus got fucked, and to a lesser extent Ireland, Spain and Portugal, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Divide and conquer

Yeah, the EU is great at caring for the populous! It must have just been a mistake when they deliberately crippled the Greek economy last year, in order to screw them down in some particularly unpleasant negotations, plunging the country back into recession. Funny definition of caring...

Not that the EU is the fount of all evil or anything. This was just as much about German/Dutch/Finish/Slovak internal politcs, as Greek government incompetence. And is only a symptom of the fact that the Euro doesn't, and can't, work as currently constituted and desperately needs fixing or putting out of everyone's misery.

But this pathetic pretence that someone the UK are uniquely self-interested, and everyone else in the EU are just desperate to be fluffy and lovely, if only we'd stop being so awkward - well it's deeply annoying. As well as being massive bollocks.

If we leave, it should be because we're willing to pay a probably small price for more political accountability and democratic control. There's a chance we may profit out of it too, but I'd imagine that the differences either way will be small - as we're still going to want to trade with them, and they with us. Whatever happens, in or out, is a messy compromise - as so much of politics is. The EU has recently shown itself capable of staggering incompetence and nastiness though, particularly with the Eurozone and refugee crises - so please don't try to pretend that either side has any kind of moral high ground. Also the Eurogroup and European Central Bank have effectively brought down 3 elected governments in the last 4 years, Italy once and Greece twice. All three times deliberately. We're not in the Euro, so probably safe from that kind of meddling, but the Eurocrisis will probably see me voting out.

As for this story, the operative word is "could". Anything could happen. If we leave we'll be subject to the outcome of some very long, and complicated negotiations. I doubt a lot will change in the short term. Things that have come through EU laws won't all magically disappear. Some we'll have to keep, as the price to get the trading relationships we'll want, some we'll chose to keep, some may change over time. We want pharmaceuticals companies to make decent profits, so they'll invest in new drugs and the expensive regulatory systems we choose to have to try to make them safe. We want differential pricing, to allow the developing world access to drugs that they couldn't otherwise afford, even though this means we pay more for AIDS drugs than Africa for example. Our future governments may make changes and screw things up, but the EU have shown themselves perfectly capable of screwing up too. The big advantage of a smaller democracy is that it's easier to change stuff back. The disadvantage of the EU is that it's so big, and it takes so long to negotiate stuff, that it's very hard to change policy.

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Nest bricks Revolv home automation hubs, because evolution

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Re: Urrrgh

I'm happy with my Google Chromecast, it was only £30. But this certainly tells me that if Google ever produced a more expensive "Google TV" thingamijig costing serious money, that I shouldn't touch it with a 20 foot bargepole - given their pisspoor attitude to customer service.

They can obviously brick that thing at any time, as I believe it uses their servers to work. But it fulfilled a short term issue to put iPlayer stuff and NFL games on my telly - and so far it's done it well enough that I've never got round the long-term solution. When I need more, or Google kill it, I'll sort that out.

So far none of the boxes have done quite what I wanted, all seem to lock you into, or out of, other people's services, and I've not wanted to spend the time and money to get a PC set up for it. I guess a Raspberry Pi and hard disk might be the answer.

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Re: Hey, usually it's just "not supported anymore"...

Ah, the internet connected toilet. When it crashes you have to flush the cache, and if that doesn't work - analyse the dump.

I assume it'll be motion sensitive, have a web management console (with individual pooRL), auto post your uploads to Twitter and Facebook etc.

Let's just hope it doesn't also have a download feature...

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Re: Disturbing

Of course, on the other hand we're talking Google here. I wonder when they'll finally kill Google+? Even though it's still got decent numbers of users, it doesn't make them much cash, they don't seem to use it much themselves, and they're slowly stipping it out of their other systems, like Youtube and Gmail.

Also do you remember the first Nexus phone? The one where Google sold the hardware direct, but hadn't put in place a service or returns department! Great planning their guys! A month or two later they did a deal with HTC (ISTR) and got them to do their servicing and support. Incidentally they also didn't do the tax/export paperwork either, so people were getting a nice form delivered saying come to the post office to pick this up, along with your £50 import duty.

Now that's what I call professional customer service from a company turning over around $100 billion a year...

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Devil

Re: Disturbing

Be fair to Google. These things must require one, maybe two, whole servers to be permanently connected to the internet - with somefive 9s uptime and everything! That's expensive, and Google probably just don't have the spare server capacity to deal with it...

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Champagne weekend for Blue Origin with third launch

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Happy

"My commanding officer swore blind that the whole planet was about to be eaten by a giant mutant star goat."

Perhaps rather than building 3 Arks, Bezos is attempting to placate it...

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Which keys should I press to enable the CockUp feature?

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Re: ¿Puzzled?

If you're reading Dabbs articles to become informed about tech issues, you're probably doing it wrong.

If you are in possession of a working sense of humour, and wish to read (or join in) a good old grump about tech issues - then you have arrived at the right place.

If you don't find his stuff funny, then don't read it. Journalists have bylines for a reason.

I'm sure he'd say that the only point to his articles is so that he can get beer from the other side of the bar to the one he's standing on. If some people happen to find them amusing, then it's much more likely that the flow will continue.

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Re: ¿Puzzled?

I've just found another use for the El Reg Dabbs article. Most weeks there seems to be someone who doesn't get it, posts something grumpy, and the Dabbs rejoinder is usually a pleasure to read.

I'm normally Mr Nice on forums. Rarely venturing further than Sarcasm Junction. But I do appreciate a quality bit of creative snark.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: ¿Puzzled?

There's no use for any of Mr Dabbs' articles on El Reg - at least so far as I can tell. That's the charm of them. And probably why they turn up on Fridays - when I should be phoning a customer about Legionella control - but I know it's going to be a looooong conversation, because he's not going to like the answers.

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You can't dust-proof a PC with kitchen-grade plastic food wrap

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Happy

Re: Oil Bath

That's OK. I thought he was trying to cook chips anyway...

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Woman scales Ben Nevis wielding selfie stick instead of ice axe

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Pint

Re: Erm

"A smart person learns from their mistakes; a wise person from the mistakes of others." - Unknown

But the brightest of all chooses not to leave the warm pub.

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Furious English villagers force council climbdown over Satan's stone booty

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Devil

Re: Belief?

Be careful. The last person to argue this (or that normal people don't marry their sisters), got burned in a giant wicker shoe.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Legal nonesense...

You mean that this rocky problem could also lead to outcomes to their detriment, and then the boot would be on the other foot, with a hard to shift obstacle in their way - and then they'd be between the devil and the deep blue sea?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Move the bloody thing

As well as being a joyless anonymous coward, unable to see how these oddities of life add to the fun of it all, I'd suggest that you've missed the obvious solution.

We don't need to smash this stone up. Moving it is in fact very easy. Simply ring the church bells at midnight, and it'll move of it's own accord.

Of course the article doesn't state where it'll move to, or stop - so some research may need to be carried out first. After all, we don't want even more claims from people whose parked cars have been whacked.

Or I guess we could just ask satan to come and reclaim it. I assume if we asked his representatives on Earth Piers Morgan or Simon Cowell nicely, they could have a word with their boss, and see what he says...

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ExoMars probe narrowly avoids death, still in peril after rocket snafu

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Re: Can't they test the instruments before they get to Mars?

I believe they usually do some sort of test and calibration of instruments after launch and the major engine burn. Then they get put into hibernation until just before arrival. Of course, if some of the rocket debris is on the same course - then when the probe slows down for insertion into Mars orbit, it's going to have a cloud of higher velocity debris right up its arse. In which case it could get near to Mars and only then go kaboom.

Of course, that depends on which way the rocket was pointing when it went boom whether they do a course correction en route and such. They've got a while to work it all out.

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MH-370 search loses sharpest-eyed robot deep beneath the waves

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Re: Waste Of Time

Vic,

True, I'm sure they're trained on all the flight modes. But as I recall, one of the conclusions of the enquiry was that pilots needed more training on the backup flight control modes where the computer is either partially or wholly ceding decision to the pilots.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Waste Of Time

Last year there was a fire onboard a plane. It was the batteries of the emergency beacon on the top of the plane that goes off if it crashes. Few planes ditch. Even fewer ditch in unknown areas. But if you make all planes carry a transmitter, then you've made all planes slightly more complicated, and slightly more dangerous. With another high-capacity battery (i.e. fire risk) required.

What the balance of safety is, I don't know. But there are arguments on both sides.

Now in this case, the satellite comms remained functional. Something you wouldn't expect in most crashes. So had they paid extra for real-time tracking they'd have a far better idea where the plane was when it ran out of fuel (still leaving a reasonably big search area).

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I ain't Spartacus
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We can. But it costs money. Satellite bandwidth is not cheap. And most of the time, planes are operating under ATC in controlled airspace. So the location is known. In most accidents the crew have time to get a radio message out. Plus, if you crash in the deep ocean, everybody's dead anyway, so it's only a matter of finding the wreckage.

Remember there was a plane a couple of years ago that had a fire in their emergency radio beacon. So there are reasons not to want any more electrics on your aeroplane than you absolutely need. And none of these things are ever "a few hundred quid", because they have to be certified. So they cost mucho dinero.

On the other hand, most planes have a satellite uplink. Used for the passenger phones (horribly expensive), passenger internet (also horribly expensive) and for data communications. So they can report back to maintenance if they're having mechanical glitches, and get the plane booked in for repairs on give diagnostic info. Many airlines also pay for extra data, and use this uplink to give course, location and speed info to their control centre, so they know exactly where all their planes are. Malaysian were losing money (as many airlines do) so hadn't gone for that expense.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Plane goes missing, search robot goes missing…

Didn't the Aussies also lose one of their nice deep-scanning sonar doohickeys in January? I seem to remember one of their survey ships having to run back to Freemantle for a new bit of kit, just as that Chinese ship was turning up last month.

As you say, clearly a conspiracy.

Watch out for those Old Ones.

You'd be mad not to...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Waste Of Time

Actually, it is a waste of time only in a different way.

Mr Anonymouse,

It's not a waste of time to try and find out what happened for the families, and/or recover bodies. Though admittedly there should be limits on how much time and effort you spend on this. The Chinese are putting in a lot more than they normally would, because this has become a political issue.

However, the real reason to do this is air safety. Air travel is even safer than train travel. Which is an amazing achievement considering that trains don't have to rely on both wings and engines working to avoid crashing - and don't even need steering.

This has not happened by luck. But by dint or hard, and continuous effort. It means investigating every accident, and trying to learn the lessons from it.

As an example, that Air France crash in the South Atlantic. I believe the plane was lost for 5 years? Or was it only 3? Anyway they did lots of searching, and found the wreckage. Got hold of the black box and learned some extremely valuable lessons about pilot confusion - and the way that modern fly-by-wire planes can sometimes dump control on the pilots in an unexpected mode that they're not expecting. Basically they're trained to assume that you can't stall a fly-by-wire plane, because it won't let you make those control inputs. But if the flight computers have totally lost track of the situation, there's a failure mode where they'll just exactly follow the pilot. Hence some retraining is needed.

There was also an issue with both pilots trying to use the stick at once, again a total breach of training, but that's resulted in Airbus redesigning their controls to stop it happening again.

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Water treatment plant hacked, chemical mix changed for tap supplies

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It could be there's some bigger commercial/industrial customers whose meters are reported directly on the network's controls systems. So the billing system uses that info to charge them. Not sensible, but doesn't mean someone hasn't done it.

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Re: The.. just.. I don't even

I would imagine the billing system is probably polling information from the control system. And presumably the treatment controls are on the same system as the network/metering ones. Obviously this should be via a locked down account with no permissions - but I guess it isn't. Well, even more obviously, it shouldn't even be connected - that info should be going to an offline database first.

I can understand wanting to have central control of the system. Rather than having to control things individually at each pumping station and works. But that should be via a private network, not the internet. And there certainly shouldn't be a bloody web server.

Admittedly they do regular testing of the water. But although some of that will be manual, so not vulnerable to computer intrusion, I'd expect that this will also be moving towards automation though.

You can do an amazing amount of damage though. If you control valves, pumps, or worse pumps and valves - then you can easily cause pipes to burst. With chemical dosing you can either overdose or underdose the water and cause problems. Sewage plants are also delicately balanced, in that they have beds which use bacteria to break down some of the waste products - and if too much of certain chemicals gets in there, it kills off the colonies, and stops the treatment plant working.

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Comms 'redlining' in Brussels as explosions kill up to 30 people

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Re: getting close to home

That's what the chips are for, on the way home. With curry ketchup, rather than mayonaise though.

Duvel is 8.6%, as I learned the hard way. But I think Chimay Bleu is over 10. Hic! Which I think is the strongest beer I've had that was actually drinkable. Delicious in fact.

Although drinking fruit beer on a Summer afternoon can be dangerous, given lots of it is over 6%, but it goes down far too easily.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: 9/11 was a "lucky shot"

DougS,

What do you expect if you fly 2 planes into a building, when each has got well north of 20 tonnes of fuel onboard? Plus don't forget the hoped-for casualties from the two other planes.

Anyway the point is that Al Qaeda were after mass casualties, as well as headlines. There was a plot that got foiled a few months after to detonate bombs on 8 planes over the Pacific simultaneously. That wasn't like the Heathrow plot here, mostly home grown, but one of Bin Laden's senior lieutenants. So they were hoping for a couple of thousand casualties there.

The point is that their schtick was killing lots of people at once. More headlines that way. I guess because their only constituency is nutters. Whereas the IRA had to have some public sympathy in order to survive in the community - and had an objective that was actually sane. Even if their method of achieving it was evil. That imposed limits on them. When AQ tried to hold territory in Iraq, the locals rose up and killed/expelled them, then did a deal with the hated US army to keep them out.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: I lived in London in the 1970's ...

Nice bit of revisionist history there. If you were a soldier or a policeman you and your family were fair game for the IRA. And in fact so were children as Omagh proved. Don't try and pretend the IRA were some kind of worthy opponents

boltar,

I didn't. Try reading people's posts before flying off all in a lather.

I said that the IRA weren't always trying to maximise casualties. And their operatives were also trying to stay alive and avoid arrest. Not that they were honourable, nice, fluffy or whatever else. They sometimes issued warnings, or attacked property/infrastructure when it wasn't in use. Their objective was supposedly to cause enough constant trouble that the rest of the UK would get sick of the troubles and abandon the Unionists. This made them less of a threat to life than the modern Islamic terrorists who are often trying to maximise casualties - and be as cruel as possible.

I've no illusions about the IRA - my Dad got bombed by them twice.

Oh, and Omagh wasn't done by the IRA. It was the Real IRA - or the I Can't Believe It's Not IRA... Who were opposed to the peace process.

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Re: GSM ACC

Alexander J. Martin,

I'd imagine the legal argument is easy. Telecoms is a regulated area. You'll almost certainly need a license to operate. In the specific case of mobile phones, you have to buy a license to use the radio spectrum, and that comes with conditions. The network itself may or may not be publicly owned, but the spectrum is.

Anyway I'd imagine that the appeals for people to stop phoning were to get the numbers down, so they could switch the networks back on. As if you've got too many people trying to connect to one cell, it's probably not going to be able to discriminate between priority and non-priority callers due to volume of traffic. At which point, the most viable way to work things would be to drop to some other mode - that either limits or drops connection to the lower priority users. I'd assume you want to keep them on the network so texts and 999 calls can still get through - but drop call requests.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: I lived in London in the 1970's ...

The IRA threat was different. The World Trade Centre attack killed a similar number of people in an hour as 30 years of the troubles did. They were interested in getting away afterwards - and often not particularly trying to kill people. Whereas the current nutters seem to want to take as many people with them as they can manage - and not survive themselves. So they're harder to deter, and need more force to contain.

Not that I'm saying we should be any more worried or stop going about our daily lives. But those people in the security services paid to deal with this every day do have more of a threat on their hands. And it's their job to ask for more powers, even if society chooses to ignore them and accept a bigger risk.

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Re: Not only in the capital

They were apparently still allowing text messages (at least the government statement was urging people to use them rather than calling) - so I imagine they weren't worrying about remote triggers. Or had blocked texts at the specific cells they were worried about. Some of the second lot of London bombs and the Madrid train bombs used SMS triggers.

That's not a nice trade-off to have to make - between making people's lives even harder (given the level of disruption and lack of voice comms) and safety.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: getting close to home

Hopefully makes you think that the beer's lovely, and so are the restaurants. As is the chocolate. So now's as good a time as any to go. I'm sure the economy will be grateful, and there'll be cheap hotel rooms available too.

Not been back for a while, so perhaps it's time to plan a trip. I used to commute through Maelbeek station every day.

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Re: That's perspective for you.

I am surprised that the number of people killed was this low because we're talking peak hour traffic here.

They seem to have bombed the Metro well over an hour after the airport. And after 9am. So it willl have been a lot emptier. That's my old route to work, and it's a lot less crowded than the London Underground even at peak times. The tunnels are also bigger, and less deep - which at least makes the emergency services' job a bit easier.

I'm surprised they're even allowing text messages. That's a tough dilemma for the police. Bombs have been triggered by text message before - I know the UK system has therefore got the facility to block texts - but on the other hand people need to be able to communicate. Especially when public transport has been shut down.

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Live Below the Line Challenge 2016

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Neil,

I'm thinking about doing it, but it's no fun on your own. I may try to persuade a couple of friends to join me in the suffering... Or see what happens here. How about you?

I believe the pressure cooker is the solution to ALL cookery problems though. But I think the problem with dry chickpeas is as much the husks as the hardness. Anyway they're OK tinned, and there are other options. I'd have gone for potatoes, but I don't eat enough to use up a big sack, so end up paying more for less. But it definitely seemed against the spirit of the thing to buy loads to get them cheaper, then chick them afterwards.

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NASA's mighty SLS to burn 1.215 Olympic-sized pools

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Re: Needless confusion!?!!?!

And this is why NASA have crashed a probe into Mars and El Reg haven't.

All Hail the El Reg Standards Soviet!

And despite this, the FAA certify NASA and not El Reg. It's a travesty I tell you.

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Tech biz bosses tell El Reg a Brexit will lead to a UK Techxit

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Re: derisory renegotiations

The 54% is for National Parliaments. Sadly it's basically a non-event - though it gives legal force to an exisiting system, where if enough parliaments get together they can forced the Commisison to reconsider a measure they don't like.

In normal Qualified Majority Voting - which is what happens in the Council of Ministers (when they're not doing it by unanimity) the blocking minority is something like 35%. Both voting systems are done by population, So Germany, Britain and Poland together are a blocking minority in QMV.

For the Parliamentary red card, I think that means if the British, German, French and Italian Parliaments were to get together, they could block any Commission regulation. Of course that would mean Parliaments defying their governments, so it's sadly a good idea watered down to be mostly ineffective.

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Re: refused work visas .. And why would they do that?

The euro is steadily increasing in value against the pound.

Temporary fluctuations in foreign exchange rates are not a substitute for economic analysis.

That smart money is betting on the euro having a better future.

Smart? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Wheeze! If smart money always knew what it was doing, please explain the recent global crash?

The Euro, in it's current form, is doomed. That doesn't mean it'll collapse, just that it'll have to change, or some countries will have to leave.

Ireland's GDP is predicted to grow at 8% next year. Greece will be minus something, France and Italy will stagnate, Germany is predicted to get about 1.2% growth. Riddle me this: How is the ECB supposed to set the correct interest rate?

What do you think caused the last Eurocris? In the last boom, Germany was barely growing, as they'd decided to fuck over their fellow currency users by cutting wages for export companies (Hartz IV). This increased their exports, but at the cost of domestic demand - and with the hang-over from the unification with East Germany it left the economy very sluggish. It was also a breach of the Growth and Stability Pact, which was supposed to stop governments over-spending (France and Germany first broke that in 2003), and also to keep intra-Euro trade surpluses down and stop competitve devaluation.

Meanwhile Ireland and Spain (for 2 examples) were growing much faster. France was also growing slowly, as it has consistently done since joining the ERM (precursor to the Euro).

The ECB set interest rates quite low, to help France and Germany. Spain and Ireland were therefore saddled with interest rates lower than their inflation rate! During a boom. Thus making borrowing money effectively free. Can you see how this might go wrong, and lead to a huge speculative housing bubble? Well, guess what happened...

Germany, and the other trade surplus states, had a surplus of cash. The reason the rules on stability were there. BTW Germany's intra-Euro trade surplus has been over the 6% limit for the last 6 years. The European Commission haven't even written them the mandatory letter to tell them off, let alone taken the actions to start punishing them for their breach of the Eurozone rules. Funny how they're so great at preaching about budget deficits though...

Anyway a country with a trade surplus by definition isn't spending enough internally. So they're not buying exports from their target markets, and have cash left over. But with insufficient demand in their economy (else they'd have balanced trade), they will have excess savings. Excess savings won't find anywhere to be invested internally due to low demand, so get invested abroad. This funds the trade deficit of the other countries). Hence German banks lent loads of money (very badly) to Greece, Spain, Ireland etc. - which pumped up their booms even higher, and then made the inevitable crash far more devastating.

This is called an asymetric shock. And is what was predicted by the economists before the Euro came into being. Policy cannot be coordinated, because now Germany is growing, but Italy's economy is smaller than it was when it joined the Euro.

The correct policies for different bits of the Eurozone bugger up the other bits. This is also true of any single currency area, though the US and UK have more convergent economies than the Eurozone does. But also we have fiscal transfers. Hence we spend more on Scotland than it raises in tax, and this makes up for the oil shock. And saves Scottish workers from all having to take pay cuts (like Greece) or move South. The US Federal government also sends more cash to those states with greater needs. I quote from Tim Worstall, formerly of this parish, for the graph at the top - though I'm sure the article is also good: Torygraph linky.

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Re: Brits who live in other parts of the EU...

Net migration to the UK from the EU has been something like 2-3 million, over the last ten years. I seem to recall it's averaged something like 500k in to 200k out. So yes, there's plenty of Brits in the EU - but then there's plenty of EU citizens living here. That's a good incentive to do a deal - which looks mostly like what we've got now, but probably with less benefits on both sides. It also might make it more attractive to seek citizenship, if you're throwing your lot in with another country in the long term.

But this is politics. You have your concerns. And I believe you get a vote too. Others have their concerns. And we get to find out what the majority of people are most worried about. Other peoples' interests are harmed by the EU, and where's your concern about them?

This is what the political process is about. Resolving disputes between competing interests.

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Re: Freedom of movement.

Leaving hurts us more than 'them'.

That depends on how you slice it. Ireland would suffer massively if the EU chose the nuclear option. It would be so bad for their economy that they'd have an appalling choice of quite the Euro and leave with us and suffer a huge recession, or stay in and suffer a possibly huger recession for longer.

We have now overtaken France as Germany's number two export destination (after the US). While we export a lot less to Germany. We have a trade suprlus on our non EU trade, and trade surplus on our services industry (the second biggest in the world after the US), but a trade deficit with the EU because they sell their goods to us but keep the trade barriers up against our more competitive services. Also because the Euro is still in depression due to pisspoor policymaking, and so their imports of goods have collapsed, while they try to export their way out of trouble.

Before the crash 60% or our exports were to the EU. Now it's down to something like 42%. Imagine how much faster our recovery would have been, had the rest of the EU tried a vaguely competent economic policy... Osborne made spending cuts (well actually lowered the rate of increase), partially offset by QE and low interest rates. The Eurozone made much deeper cuts (27% in Greece!!!!!!!), and the ECB actually raised interest rates in 2009! And didn't start QE until last year.

As for the argument that they'll punish us if we leave, there is certainly a risk of that. But I'd argue that with friends like that, who needs enemies. Either they're our allies or they're not. Germany in recent years have shown a distressing tendency to fuck over their supposed allies for short-term gain. Such as opposing the Southstream gas pipeline to Russia, on the legitimate grounds that it was a way to screw over Ukraine and divide the EU attempts at a commone energy market. Then secretly did a deal behind the rest of the EU's back to expand Nordstream (a competing pipeline that just so happens to screw over both Ukraine and Poland). Not to mention Germany's treatment of Greece, Cyprus and to a lesser exrtent Spain and Ireland. And Germany's continuing flouting of Eurozone rules by running a 7% trade surplus, while preaching loudly to everyone else about sticking to the fiscal rules. Not to mention the continuing attempt to make a unilateral German Syrian refugee policy for the whole of the EU.

I expect tough negotiations in peoples' own national interests. That means we'll lose things as well as winning some. And it'll be unpredictable. If they try to fuck us over - they risk a recession that will finally destroy the Eurozone, and possibly the EU. And an attempt to destroy say our car industry, does as much damage to their own, given how integrated it all is. Same with aerospace, pharmaceuticals, even to some extent banking and insurance.

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Re: refused work visas .. And why would they do that?

Jess,

One of the problems is that the outcome of staying in is also totally unknown.

The Eurozone is utterly doomed, unless something radical is done. Italy, Portugal, Greece and Finland can't survive in it, as currently constituted, and France, Ireland, Spain and Belgium (also possibly the Netherlands) can stay in, but at the cost of every boom being too big and inflation-y or bust being deeper than need-be. Or both.

Either there needs to be a solution involving pooling more sovereignty and some tax, spending and government debt - or a managed break-up losing some countries. Or it'll collapse - causing a hideous global recession, and possibly taking the whole EU with it.

The public are becoming more anti-EU in almost every country.

Cameron tried to get the EU to agree to take ever closer union out of the treaties. No one cares about it anymore. There are very few Federalists left in power. Almost no-one is working towards an EU superstate, the public no longer believe in it, and that generation of politicians have mostly retired or died. Germany are one of the most pro-Federalist countries, and certainly the only big country left with that opinion being mainstream. The polls still show this. Even though lots of them are unhappy with the Euro. Yet the whole tone of the debate about bailing-out Greece, or even Cyprus, Portugal and Ireland was bitter and very unpleasant. And showed that neither the people or the governments really believe they're part of the same group.

And yet they wouldn't give it to him, because that would imply a 2-speed Europe. Which we've already got of course. Us and the Danes aren't joining the Euro, we have opt-outs. Sweden promised to, but keeps losing the referendum and the Poles aren't even pretending to join anymore. Schengen is collapsing, and the core countries can only save it by kicking out the peripheral ones.

And yet apparently Cameron couldn't get a simple, basically non-controversial change through that would have made winning the referendum quite a bit easier. And that suggests that we'll again be faced with a bunch of new regulations to save bits of the EU that are currently in crisis - and told if you don't sign up we're screwing them all over. And forced into an unwilling choice to torpedo neccesary reform, or sign up to stuff we don't want.

Not that Brexit isn't also a large risk. But with the EU in it's current state, I'd argue there are no safe choices. And no ideal ones either. It's messy compromise all the way. At which point, I'm tempted by the messy compromise that involves more democracy, where if politicians screw up we can kick them out and get new ones who'll reverse it. The EU is good at new regulations, but quite bad at fixing broken old ones.

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Re: Referendum

You could of course ignore the campaigns, and do a bit of reading about it yourself. And form your own conclusions.

The problem with taking the attitude that if you ignore politics it'll go away, is that it doesn't go away. There's decisions to be made between competing interests in society, that means politics. You can ignore it, but it assuredly won't ignore you.

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Re: Freedom of movement.

I'm tending towards supporting Brexit, but haven't decided. My anger over the appalling treatment of Greece and Cyprus, and belief in democracy are currently trumping the desire for an easy life. I still believe we'll vote to stay in, so hope it's a close vote or we might suffer political revenge for staying - which is a minor threat also if we leave. There are some things that annoy me about the EU, some that are good, and bits in between. But I'd say it's almost a nailed on certainty that little will change in the short-term, whichever way we vote. Unless common sense does break down, and everyone decides to start a trade war. There was a perfectly acceptable compromise deal to do on Greece (and particularly Cyprus), and yet Merkel's government, and others, chose to posture and grandstand and totally fuck over their economies, to no purpose.

I'd love us to have a free trade deal, with limited freedom of movement much more under our own control. And the EU to complete the single market in services (France, Germany and Italy in particular were much more eager to nail down free trade in goods, where we have a trade deficit with the EU, and have continually blocked/slowed freedom for services exports back to them from us). I'd also like to have seen some sort of associate membership for Turkey to tie them in as a democratic ally (looks too late for that now), and an end to the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies. Plus the EU to either get serious about a common security/diplomatic policy, or leave it to NATO. Sadly a bunch of those are mutually exclusive, and not all available if we leave, or if we stay.

Even if the rest of the EU were willing to grant us our fantasy, perfect deal, it'll take years. I read a piece on this that said the EU takes 4-10 years to negotiate a trade deal, the more complex the longer. And we're wanting something incredibly complex in a part of the EU that is still mostly done by unanimous voting - so if you don't get everyone on board, it gets vetoed. And there's going to be some natural resentment that we've buggered off, and that we're forcing hard negotiations on governments that they didn't want.

Additionally, the civil service have been more europhile than the politicians in every government except early Blair and Heath. And they're doing the negotiating.

So our choice is leave the EU without much of a trade deal, and suffer tariffs and discocation of trade while we slowly grind through sorting it out. Or do a deal where we do a quick and dirty shift from EU members to EFTA or EEA (there are technical differences which always confuse the hell out of me) - with the intent to slowly negotiate a few changes. Presumably once out of the EU we can discriminate on benefits against EU citizens, even though they get access to the country to work, which is a better balance than we have now. But while the Eurozone is so utterly fucked, we're going to get skilled migration from the EU, as well as unskilled, and short of deploying the army to the coasts and introducing ID cards, that's unstoppable anyway.

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A typo stopped hackers siphoning nearly $1bn out of Bangladesh

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Re: Bah

Destroy All MOnsters,

You don't appear to understand QE, or inflation (which there isn't much of at the moment), or the devastating economic effect of deflation in highly indebted economies. Given that many peoples' pensions and investments are held in government debt instruments, the alternative to QE (almost certainly deflation and massive government defaults) is too horrible to think about.

QE isn't a money injection, or money printing, as it's a reversible process designed to force down market interest rates.

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German lodges todger in 13 steel rings

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Happy

Re: Points for the image

The preciousssssss

3 rings for the Elven Kings, under the sky,

7 for the Dwarf lords, in their halls of stone,

13 for mortal Men, doomed to die,

One for the Dark Lord, on his Dark Throne, in the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.

One Ring to rule them all,

One Ring to find them,

One Ring to bring them all,

Except for those 13, which are all icky, and I don't want stinking up my beautiful Barad Dur! Thankyou!

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NASA preps stadium-size sandwich bag launch

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Re: SPB

No! No! NO!

Don't sue. Simply use the SPB logo prominently in your FAA application, but reapply with your own NASA logo as well, and try to imply that you are part of NASA. After all, turnabout is fair play. And it should certainly improve the speediness of your dealings with the FAA.

Now we just need to get working on the backronym...

Nonsensical Aeronautical Silliness Agency

Non Alcoholic (Sometimes) Aeronautics

Sorry, not having much luck with cudgelling answers from the old brain this arvo.

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Californian tycoons stole my sharing economy, says Lily Cole

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Re: Not sure about the tomato

You are Wile E. Coyote, and I claim my £5.

Meep! Meep!

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El avión de papel del proyecto PARIS aterriza en un libro de texto

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Re: Que?

La plume de ma tante, est dans le jardin...

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Alien studs on dwarf's erection baffle boffins

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Re: Oblong vs round craters

Is a frost heave what happens after your 17th bowl of chocolate ice cream?

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Yelp-for-people app Peeple is back – so we rated Julia, its cofounder

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Re: The real reason Peeple is back:

Don't be rude about her, or she'll stab you to death with her insanely pointy chin!

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Re: "That means that the answer lies in completely ignoring Peeple altogether."

El Reg have done a bad thing though:

We downloaded and logged into the app and couldn't find a single other person either through our phone's contacts or Facebook friends. So long as it stays that way, then this monstrosity of an idea will stay where it ought to be: in a grave.

So now Peeple have got an entire addressbook of El Reg's contacts to furtle.

Hence providing a vector for this internet zombie plague to spread.

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