* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5810 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Brexit campaign group fined £50k for sending half a million spam texts

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Translation

I was approached in Clinton Cards yesterday. I could have 4 cards for the price of 3. Very nice. Tthank you. As I've got about 7 birthdays to go to this month, that's actually quite useful.

Please just give me your mobile number. Huh? My email sure. I've got a spam folder, and an unsubscribe button if your mail is annoying. But nope, you don't get the mobile, so you can call me with pointless crap when I'm busy.

Just getting this from estate agents now, as they've a legit reason to ask for my mobile when booking viewings, but of course I also have to suffer the weekly "courtesy call" to see if I like the look of one of their places, but somehow am too dim to be able to phone them and book a visit.

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Russia poised to unleash 'Son of Satan' ICBM

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Re: Two steps forward...

This is the Russian response to US plans to put an anti-ICBM launch site in Poland

No it's not. That might be their official whine, but that system is not designed to deal with Russian missiles. It's designed to defend Europe from Iranian ones. Russian missiles live in Siberia, and would be fired over the North Pole.

This is part of the system the US have been working on to deal with threats like Iran and North Korea. Which is why they've so far deployed only someothing like 20-odd missiles, to Alaska and Guam. Although the US and Japan both station several Aegis ships around, specifically to deal with North Korean missile threats - as the SM3 can shoot ICBMs in space. Again Russian ones would be going the wrong way, and anyway there are too many of them for one or two ships only able to launch 1 or 2 SM3 at a time.

Obama cancelled the Polish site at one point. To keep the Russians happy. I think it only came back on the agenda after the invasion of Ukraine, though I've forgotten the current status.

You are however correct that the SS18 must have needed an upgrade pretty soon. Trident is expected to be upgraded in the 2030s, and that went operational in the 90s. But it's solid fuelled, so I'd have thought would expect to last longer. Also it goes to sea, but sealed inside a warm sub, whereas the SS18s have to live in Siberia - and I bet their silos aren't all that well heated.

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EU vetoes O2 and Three merger: Hutchison mulls legal challenge

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I don't think BT-EE was so much the problem. As BT didn't have their own mobile operator. But Orange and T-Mobile maybe shouldn't have been allowed to happen. That rocketed EE to being by far the biggest provider, and at the time 3 were way behind the big 4, and also EE ended up with a huge monopoly on spectrum. And were then outrageously allowed to launch their 4g service on the virtually free spectrum they had from way back in the 80s/90s - while others didn't have enough to launch and had to wait for the auctions.

But Ofcom were singing the praises of having 4 operators before 3 came into the market. I remember reading a piece years ago about how Ofcom thought our mobile market was superior to the rest of Europe, as many of them only had 2 or 3 operators, and Ofcom didn't want us to go below 4. I guess that's still their thinking?

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Label your cables: A cautionary tale from the server room

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Re: How can you tell when a user is lying to you?

This came in useful yesterday.

Bit of personal help for a colleague with her Outlook.com. I do the company IT that I don't outsource (i.e. I fix and de-louse the laptops), but this is personal and I've never used Outlook.com. 'The spam folder is eating everything.

OK, she admitted to me that she'd turned the setting back on that puts everything not in the addressbook into Spam. Even though I turned that off last week. She'd googled it, and apparently decided to try it, but that was admitted upfront.

So I said, have you been right-clicking on the good stuff in the spam box, to tell it that it's not spam. "Oh yes." A quick Google from me later, and it appears that Outlook.com may not recognise moving stuff from Spam to inbox as a "this ain't spam" so when done on the mobile there'll be no effect. Checked, have you done this on desktop as well as phone? Oh yes.

OK, then she says, how do you mark it as not spam again? Right click. I don't seem to be able to do that. So I show here, for some reason the menu disappears really quickly. So she's done it. Then I ask, you know you've been saying you've been doing this - but you've just demonstrated you didn't know how to? Have you been clicking stuff isn't spam.

Yes. Honest. I must have just forgotten how to do it. Really? Oh yes. I pause... Really? Are you sure? Oh yes. I think it took 5 minutes to get an admission - and now the problem I couldn't understand is solved. It was amazing how many bemused queries it took from me though.

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Dragon capsule bids adios to ISS

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Elmer Phud,

Nope. They have chucked rubbish in them before, but mostly that gets burned up in the European, Japanese and Russian delivery vehicles, which can't return.

I presume NASA wanted an equipment return capability because Dragon was the only one of the ISS supply vehicles designed after the shuttle was retired. And that could fulfill this requirement before. There's barely room in Soyuz for the 3 astronauts, let alone any extras.

But they're always doing experiments that require a sample return. So they send baby mice up there, to see how they develop, in comparison to ground-based siblings. Then bring them home, and before they can gloat to their mates about how they're space mice, it's off to the dissection table for everyone.

Similar stuff with fruitflies. Then there's been mini school experiments in Kinder Egg plastic toy pods, and tests on long term exposure to radiation outside the ISS. I'd be surprised if they aren't taking blood samples from the astronauts as well.

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French duck-crushing device sells for €40k

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Happy

Re: price and value

I'd love to try Ortolan, but that's outlawed now.

That's OK. So long as no little bird tells on you...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Coat

Re: 3 course meal?

I know. They're all quackers...

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I ain't Spartacus
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When my brother was looking for a country pub, one of them did fancy french grub. And they had a duck press. They're sufficiently expensive that it was individually named as part of the fixtures and fittings coming with the lease.

It was the place's signature dish. As I understand it, the waiter brings your roast duck to the table. Carves it, then shoves the carcass in the press. Crushes it, strains the resulting juices, adds a tonne of port, and serves that as the gravy.

I like gravy, but it's not exactly the nicest process that goes into making it. There can be offal, fat, juices from the roasting, other odds and ends, flour... I can't imagine why you'd want to look at it, just before you sit down to eat.

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Tabby's Star's twinkle probably the boring business of calibration

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Boffin

Re: It is aliens

It's giant mutant space jellyfish getting between us and the star. Obviously.

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PLA sysadmin gets six months house arrest for yanking US Army docs

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Re: Duh.

It was probably a low-grade security clearance. Remember that classified secret isn't all that secret. Although in the UK the lowest classification is "restricted", don't know what it is in the US.

When the Manning/Weakileaks stuff came out, it was reported that something like 200,000 people had access to that database. There's no way you can postively vet that many people, so you just have to make sure that there's nothing in there too sensitive, and that you've got decent controls to stop people from dowloading huge chunks of it.

The kind of vetting that you give to people with access to really secret information is quite manpower intensive and takes months to do. It's simply not practical for lower level clearances. Relatives of mine have been postively vetted, and they were sending questionaires round the family (and I'd assume friends and professional contacts) - where they're looking to catch discrepancies that might suggest that lies have been told in the application process. I've also known someone who got a job at the MOD in June, and wasn't allowed to take up his post until October, to give time for his security clearance.

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Experian Audience Engine knows almost as much about you as Google

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You wouldn't expect her to know anything about it. They're no different from the chuggers, who may be wearing a badge for the charity they're collecting for - but usually know nothing about it.

There's then a choice if the mark complains. You can either try and bluff it, or admit to a total lack of knowledge and just say this is your job. This depends on whether you're an alpha salesdroid, ready to bullshit your way through any objection to bring down the wildebeest - or a beta salesdroid, hoping for that vital sympathy-sale.

Of course, option A is almost bound to fail, as a genuine alpha salesbeast should be doing rather better than credit card sign-ups and chugging in shopping centres.

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Icy Hydra outshines its dirty neighbour Charon

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Happy

Oi! Elon. How's about it?

So SpaceX have given us their cargo price to Mars. What would they charge to deliver a giant rocket full of gin, and another full of tonic to this marellous source of pure ice?

I guess a big-old wedge o' lime price will also be required.

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Watch it again: SpaceX's boomerang rocket lands on robo-sea-barge

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Happy

Re: If you think this is impressive...

To properly fulfill boyhood dreams, they need more fins and to paint everything silver.

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You can always rely on the Ancient Ones to cock things up

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Happy

Re: not only sentient but sentimental

Who is to say tech isn't smarter than cats.

Lies around all the time in warm places, constantly demands to be fed, completely unreliable as to whether it will follow instructions or not, never sure whether you in fact own it - or it just tolerates you...

Are you sure they're not actually the same thing?

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Wasps force two passenger jets into emergency landings

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Mushroom

Re: Cunning Plan

In the case of Australia and its wildlife, we should nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

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'Bitcoin creator' Craig Yeah Wright in meltdown

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Re: Makes sense

I still think that should be the title of a Doctor Who episode, or one of those airport thrillers with a picture of a gun and a briefcase on the front.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Odd

Didn't Rory Cellan-Jones, and the guys from the Economist and GQ just give him £5 each, so that he could send them back from the same address as some famous Bitcoin transaction - thus entirely failing to prove that he was the founder in a more complicated way than just giving them an early Bitcoin each?

So, he's made £15 profit! Now if they also bought him lunch somewhere nice, you can quadruple that.

Here! BBC. Over here! I'm Lord Lucan. Now buy me a nice dinner, there's a good chap, and I'll tell you all about it.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Megaphone

Excuse me! I'm the only one around here who's not Spartacus!

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I ain't Spartacus
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Trump is actually far more shrewd than this looser, he knows when not to go claiming something that he might actually have to prove.

I call bollocks. Trump claims to have hair!

As opposed to what he actually has, which is a dead cat, stapled to his chrome-dome.

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'Apple ate my music!' Streaming jukebox wipes 122GB – including muso's original tracks

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Re: A: he is not a real musician

I've noticed Apple's weird relationship with album art. It keeps changing. I don't know why, because when I ripped the CDs it created a folder on my PC full of the stuff. Some was wrong, but I didn't really care, so long as it was obvious what it was. But there must be some process by which it randomly goes off and gets some more, as it's now maybe 8 years since I started using iTunes - and some of my albums are on their third covers on the iPad. The music app for which has become steadily more unuseable every time they update it. I think my next tablet is going to be a Lenovo Yoga for half the price.

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Stop resetting your passwords, says UK govt's spy network

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Generating random passwords is easy. All you need is some combination that's not in the dictionary and is quite long. If someone's got a rainbow table for all passwords up to 20 characters long, then you're stuffed whatever you do - and however well generated it is. Otherwise it doesn't really matter, within reason.

Personally I'm unlikely to remember total randomness (or even an approximation of it). But a short, non-grammatical phrase with random capitalisation, the odd special character and words spelt wrong, mis-ordered and interrupted should be good enough.

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I ain't Spartacus
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I'm quite good at remembering passwords, so this may not work for other people. But I pick themes. I have a simple password for sites like El Reg, where I don't particularly care if I get hacked. Although perhaps the pain of 1,000 downvotes when my hacker fills the site with campaign ads for Donald Trump will change my mind?

But when I was being forced to reset them for work regularly, I could pick the Persian Wars of the 5th Century BC. You've then got Platea, Thermopylae, Xerxes, Marathon to play with. Nice unusual letters, but obviously vulnerable to dictionary attacks. But I can remember the capitalisations and breaks introduced into the words to split them up once I've remember the word - and there's only a limited number of words to pick from. So I can remember what I've done, and it's easy to find a new password at short notice. Then pick a new historical event, or theme (say types of sportscar) - once you've mined the previous one.

I could use a password manager, but I don't trust them. They seem like a dangerous single point of failure to me. Two factor authentication on the bank and hope for the best.

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Siemens Healthcare struck by rebranding madness

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Re: Rebrand

I quite like Swordswain myself.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: Rebrand

On the cruise ship I work on I'm both part of the crew, and the entertainment staff.

In fact, I'm the coxswain, and a sword swallower. What should my rebranded job title be?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: is that PC..?

Lester,

If your bootie has ears, might I suggest that you ask your plastic surgeon for a refund?

I've heard of journalists trying to keep their ear to the ground, but this is ridiculous!

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Devil

Re: Visioneering?

I wonder what would happen to the poor sods who went for surgery to a DevOperating theatre?

Presumably the combined surgeon/tester, or "surjester" would administer the abomination operation, while the combined anaesthetist/whalesong DJ or "ether-jockey" kept the victim patient under.

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Woman charged with blowing AU$4.6m overdraft on 'a lot of handbags'

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Happy

Re: Never

No, that's not quite right.

Never get between a bank and its money, unless you can keep at least 5,000 miles between the bank, ant its money (and of course yourself too).

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I ain't Spartacus
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Mark 85,

Making a mistake is not a crime. And remember that the banks weren't checking carefully, but also the mortgage applications require you to say you can pay the money back. So you have to lie in order to get the money. Also, in a housing market with prices rising at silly rates like 10% a year, it's not that big an issue. If you can't pay after 5 years, you just sell, and everyone gets their money back - with you making some profit.

My brother quit as a mortgage underwriter in 2006 because he was sick of arguing with his bosses about whether to put through applications that were, in his opinion, dodgy. But even if you could prove that company did commit fraud, it wouldn't be on the people they lent to. It would be because they were then packaging up the mortgage debts and selling them on as CDOs - if you could prove that they were lending in cases where they believed the mortgages were riskier than they actually were.

Anyway the subprime mortgage crisis is not really a tale of fraud, but of market failure. There were two problems. The theory of CDOs was that you often packaged good mortgage debt with bad, in order to make the bad more sellable. Then even in a crash the good would still keep paying, and the repossessions would cover most of the loss of the bad. You sold the debt at a discount, so it was theoretically exremely low risk. Hence the AAA ratings. Unfortunately, this turned out to be bollocks.

The theory was actually correct though. Most of the UK packaged mortgage debts (CDOs) are still paying back at better than the worse predicted failure rate. So they weren't fraudulent, the calcs were correct and a lot of it was actually worthy of its AAA rating. There was some high risk paper, that was trading at bigger discounts, so you'd make more profit it it went right, but that wasn't AAA and so nobody could complain if it went wrong.

The second problem was that the market failed. Everyone panicked. Nobody trusted anybody else anymore. The banks wouldn't lend to each other, as they were scared the other banks were holding loads of worthless paper, and might go bust at any time. Which of course meant nobody would admit to what they were holding, which reinforced the crisis. Since nobody properly understood these CDOs, nobody was able to value them, so they became unsellable. Even though it's turned out that most of them were in fact correctly valued. So if you had a load, and needed cash, you had to sell at 50% of book value (to companies that have made a very nice profit since) - but that meant you were burning through twice the amount of reserves you needed to for a given amount of cash, which meant you didn't have enough reserves. That's why the banks needed bailing out. Most of them were in fact perfectly fine, but a crisis of markets and confidence made their survival impossible - hence we needed Central Banks to save the day. Which is why most of them have paid back all those loans. Hence the oft-quoted line about giving the banks money is bollocks, we lent them money because they were solvent (but illiquid) - which is the job of a Central Bank. Some we re-capitalised, and took shares in compensation.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Doh! Sorry. Basic counting error.

There's a higher limit for withdrawals from branch, although in that case you might have to fill out a form (to get larger amounts), and you'd have thought they might notice. There's also cashback on debit card transactions (if they do that in Oz), and of course they may have higher ATM limits. I'm sure I could get mine raised, but have never needed to.

The point being that it takes conscious effort to get large amounts of cash out of a bank account. Which requires thought, which implies planning, and at some point that planning may become criminal. What you need to determine "mens rea" - i.e. Did you know your actions were wrong.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: No way you could 'withdraw' 4 mill from my branch of Lloyds...

OK, it's not my money. It's just resting in my account...

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I ain't Spartacus
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I don't buy that argument. The definition of theft in the UK is to take property belonging to somebody else with the intention to permanently deprive them of it.

Taking a bit more overdraft than you're allowed, not believing your luck and getting an extra few nights out is not theft. The bank screwed up, tough titty.

Taking millions of dollars of money that's not yours, systematically over a long period of time, because someone else has obviously screwed up, knowing that you'll never be able to pay it back is another matter entirely.

There's a point at which any reasonable adult has got to say to themselves, there will be consequences. Sure, the bank offered her a loan. But we're all adults, and we know what loan means. Loan means: Repayment. With interest.

If she successfully argues that she can't count. Or was too stupid to be able to manage her money, or too stupid to realise that it wasn't her cash allowing her to literally spend millions - then fair do. I just spent the cash until the card was declined, that's how I manage my finances - could be a valid defence. Execpt when you start taking out thousands of pounds in cash, or buying Gucci handbags. Then you surely know what you're doing.

My cash card only allows me to take out £500 a day. So to get a million in cash out of my bank, I'd have to daily go to the cash machine, and take out the full whack, for 200 days! That would be, by any reasonable definition, a calculated act.

The bank fucked up. No sympathy. They put huge temptation in her way. But she took it. At some point, giving in to that temptation was a choice.

If I find £1,000 in cash somewhere, that money isn't mine. Keeping a fiver you find is fair enough, it's impossible to trace. Good luck to you. If you find £1,000 though, someone's going to seriously miss that.

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I ain't Spartacus
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She took advantage of an obvious mistake. Not obvious I'm sure, when she took the first couple of hundred of free overdraft.

Maybe she's just not competent, and kept spending. But you'd have to be pretty bloody stupid to not notice once your overdraft has hit your monthly salary. And it stretches credulity, once it's passed your annual salary.

But surely at the point when you look, notice you're overdrawn but not being charged interest, or are but the limit's not stopped growing - you make the decision to try and make your first $1,000 purchase or cash withdrawal. Surely at that point, you're doing it knowingly. It takes quite a lot of effort to spend or withdraw millions in cash. My daily cash machine withdrawal limit is only £500. And I think anything more than £1,000 over the counter has to be booked in advance, and a form filled out.

Any other argument is just sophistry. Although the bank put serious temptation in her way. So it's not like they deserve any sympathy. And they deserve to lose most of the cash when she inevitably declares bankrupt.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Unlimited Overdraft

Reckless lending isn't a crime. Though it's obviously a stupid thing to do. It's interesting as to whether the customer committed fraud. You have to prove intent to prove fraud. And this was a cock-up by the bank apparently, not a deliberate plan by the customer. On the other hand, if you're making your tenth, twentieth or thirtieth withdrawal of $10,000, which you know doesn't belong to you, and you can't pay back, surely at some point you're doing it with the intent of stealing it. The first time is a lucky accident, and a windfall. Can you still say that by the 20th?

If I give you the bag with my wallet in by mistake, instead of the one with your birthday present, does that give you right to spend all my money?

Oddly the law is not, "finders keepers". At least not in the UK, I can't speak for Australia.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Question from a Murican...

I haven't used mine in ages, and I think the bank took it away a couple of years ago. But when I first opened my account with them I had £50 of free overdraft. This meant that if I made a small mistake, I could borrow £50 - so long as my monthly salary was paid into the account. That was free.

I did briefly also have an agreed overdraft. I think this was about £200. So I could spend this extra money. But at the end of every day I'd be charged interest on it. I think it was about 10% (when the base rate would have been around 5% at the time). So whatever a day's worth is of that.

There was once an error with their cash machine software. I was £10 overdrawn, but instead of showing O/D £10 - the machine showed O/D £10,000.00! Which caused me a moment's panic, I can tell you.

There's a third type, which is the unauthorised overdraft. Some banks or accounts don't have one of these. In which case they'll just bounce the cheque, your debit card will be refused, as will direct debits and cash withdrawals. Mine would allow this. But every time you went into the unauthorised O/D they'd charge you a £10 fee, the interest rate was something like 50% annualised - and they would also charge you £20 to send you a letter to tell you to pay it back, if you were above your authorised limit for more than a couple of days.

When I lived in Belgium, I don't think even rich people were allowed overdrafts. I can't remember if it was a legal issue, or just that the banks didn't do them. Even credit cards were different. You couldn't put debt on your card, as you can in the UK. It didn't take money out of your account when you spent on it, but all the outstanding money came out of your account on the last day of the month.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: What am I missing?

Perhaps time machines are a lot cheaper than you expect?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Well no. When they cock up and the client steals lots of money, it's the client's fault.

Sure, it's fun to laugh at the banks. And also, they've fucked up big time. So they're also to blame, for incompetence and putting massive temptation in someone's way. But you can't claim that the money is magically yours, just because the bank have messed up. And if her account is showing an overdraft, then she should also know it's a loan. Taking out a loan you have no intention or ability to pay back is basically fraud - at least if you plan it that way. But that intent is hard to prove, the bank are also responsible for checking your ability to pay an unsecured debt, and there was no intent to begin with here, as it was the bank's cock-up, presumably discovered accidentally.

HP once paid my company an £120,000 invoice twice. It took me most of a month to persuade their payments department that they'd made a mistake, and did they want their money back. Had I not bothered, and knowingly kept the cash, that would have been theft.

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Re: I believe her!

To be fair, you need an awful lot of handbags, if you're trying to carry $4.6m.

Clearly the tactic of the Gucci bag tackles the problem from both sides, as you've bought the bag, and now suddenly have much less to fit in it.

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Nerds make it rain in Nevada. The Las Vegas strip? No, cloud-seeding drones over the desert

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Trollface

Re: Messing with nature

Am I being downvoted for the suggestion of a sort of post apocalyptic Big Brother in Las Vegas for our televisual entertainment?

Or is it because I suggesed taking away the petrol? You have to do that to stop people escaping, but I do now realise that it massively limits the potential for Mad Max style chaos. For which oversight I apologise.

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Devil

Re: Messing with nature

Las Vegas running out of water would (if we also confiscated all the petrol/gas) make for an excellent reality TV show...

Corrected your obvious typo for you.

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There must be some level of making little difference, somewhere as hot as Nevada. Any rain that falls is soon going to be evapourated right back up into the air, ready to fall as rain somewhere else. I seem to remember reading a while ago about climate change in Saudi Arabia. Where they've built sufficient round fields (round because of the water distribution systems) around some towns that those places now get rainfall. Something they's almost never previously had.

I don't know what the climate effects would be of trying to green the desert though. But I don't know if they're being that ambitious, or just trying to get a little bit of rain.

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Auto erotic: Self-driving cars will let occupants bonk on the go

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Devil

Re: Just looking at the Google car

Not interested. I've heard it can be a punishing job...

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Revealed: How NASA saved the Kepler space telescope from suicide

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Old Handle,

They often go into safe mode (or one of the several safe modes), which is fine and dandy. And usually easy to recover from, though it takes ages - as NASA tend to do a lot of thinking before deciding to make changes.

In this case I guess they'll have had to react faster than they'd have liked, because they were losing so much fuel. But they obviously had some sort of major error - either bug, cosmic ray or possibly an interaction of both.

What if the main processors had been affected long enough that they couldn't reboot? Then communication would have been lost, the solar panels lock on the Sun would have gone, so no power, and therefore no way to recover the craft.

By having this backup system take over you're taking out a bit of insurance that might save your bacon at some point. And has at several points in the past. Like all insurance it has a cost, in this case wasted time on the DSN disrupting other projects, and some wasted fuel.

In a lot of cases you won't need such an expensive fail-safe, but where you're getting power from solar panels that require alignment you probably do.

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Happy

Re: Just Like Home?.

Obviously, if we did discover the planet of the Trumps (a gas giant with methane atmosphere presumably?) it would be the incentive that instantly gave us world government and a space navy, plus a mission for it. I know it's not quite the way Gene Roddenberry imagined, with the Federation's first fleet on a ten year mission to seek out and destroy all weird-hair based lifeforms.

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Australia copies UK's Google tax on 'contrived' dodges

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Re: Thre is a slight problem with this

We're going to have a tougher time dealing with this than Oz anyway. We're in the EU. One of the provisions of the single market is that you only have to set your company up in one jurisdiction, and pay tax there. So setting up in Ireland, operating from Ireland, and paying your corporation tax there is perfectly legal, and we could only stop it if we left the EU.

On the other hand, Ireland allowing transactions not from Ireland to be corp tax free is presumably going to be ruled an illegal subsidy by the ECJ.

Google were also, allegedly, selling advertising in the UK for a while, and then just having the Ireland office sign the contract. Which should surely have been UK money, to pay UK tax. Now the whole sales team is in Ireland, so there can't be an argument.

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Hacker flogs '42.5m freshly stolen logins' for seventy-five cents

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Coat

Not always. You buy 3 lots of hot dogs, and 4 lots of buns, and they last packets will finish at the same time.

Sorry, did you not want to know that...

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EU set to bin €500 note

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Re: For a minute there

I hope you're not just hoarding bacon. Otherwise, as soon as you cook your first post-apocalyptic bacon butty, those who prepared by arming themselves will be attracted by the smell, and will relieve you of your bacon.

Unless of course you are planning to use that to your advantage, and lure them towards you. Possibly for the twin purposes of getting more guns and ammo for trading purposes, and turning them into selling bacon. Make the streaky out of them perhaps?

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Re: ...exceedingly pleasing brick of €500 notes

I once tried to buy a flat off a drug dealer.

To be fair to me, I didn't know at the time. I thought it was a re-posession. Only found out the truth when we got the contract, and it was actually being sold by the courts service as part of his punishment. He hadn't apparently been using it for deals, it was part of his money laundering. He'd got 3 places in the town where I live, and had built a development of 12 villas in Spain. Was doing 10 years for being part of a big skunk ring (you can imagine I got googling once I saw the contract).

The funny bit is they were having so much trouble laundering all the cash they were taking in, that they had a lock-up garage locally where the police found £120,000 in a metal safe under a bit of the roof that leaked. It had turned to papier mache - because they couldn't get it out the door fast enough.

Much to my Mum's relief, I got gazumped, and decided not to up my offer when invited to join the bidding war.

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Re: ...exceedingly pleasing brick of €500 notes

My Dad bought a house for cash, in the 1980s. He'd decided to save money, by doing his own conveyancing. With a bit of help from a lawyer mate, and a book he'd bought.

And his opposite number at the vendor's solicitors decided that the honour (and the closed shop) of the legal profession must be protected at all costs. So messed him about, and it ended up for various reasons with Dad driving to the building society, taking £105,000 out in a suitcase, and driving to the solicitors. Being England, all in £50 notes.

I'm surprised the bank let him. After all, if he'd lost it on the way, it would be an unsecured loan, seeing as the old house was sold (this was the cash) and the new one not bought yet.

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That's interesting. When I lived in Belgium, up to 2002, I used to get €100 notes all the time, if I wasn't careful. As I recall you could get smaller denomination ones in your own bank, as there are two kinds of cash machines in Belgium. The ones outside the bank offer bigger notes, the ones inside are only for customers, and at least KBC had seats, and you could get more smaller notes.

I'd have been glad to see the back of the 1 and 2 eurocent coins. They were almost identical anyway, and I had to resort to using a little plastic coin holder thing. The 20 and 50 cent are also quite similar in size and colour too - but it's easier as they're bigger. UK coinage is much nicer, because you've got both colour and shape changes, which make life a lot simpler.

I think it was more of a shock to the system in places like Italy and Belgium, where they didn't use coins very much beforehand. And suddenly had loads.

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Re: The usual bollocks from the Euros

We won't have the Barber of Seville, we've got Draghi instead. And he has a very dangerous blade indeed...

Mpeler,

Without Draghi, the Euro would have collapsed already. Despite what all the hawkish German politicians have told you about the risk of inflation, does Germany currently have runnaway inflation? No. You do not. You don't even have high inflation. The ECB is currently missing its inflation target by being 1.9 percentage points under target! And the South of the Eurozone has deflation - one of the reasons that the crisis there cannot be solved and why Germany will not get paid back. This is basic economics. While their economies are barely growing, and prices are falling, debt will rise faster than they can pay it - they will only be able to reduce national debt when nominal growth is high enough.

Meanwhile your trade surplus with these countries is growing. Which is A) a breach of the Eurozone stability pact, and; B) insane, as you are lending them money to buy your goods and make your economy look bigger. But like the false profits of the banks from the boom, this money will not be paid back, cannot be paid back, and so you are effectively working to give away your exports. The solution to this problem is for Germany to buy some of the exports from these countries, to give them the means to pay back loans to German banks (which are your pension savings remember) - this reducing your trade surplus - and to try to create more inflation in the Eurozone. You lose a bit of the value of your savings, but then have a chance of being paid back. Also inflation means higher interest rates, so you don't totally lose out.

Oh and the €500 note was heavily criticised at the foundation of the Euro. By the British government for one, as its use for organised crime was obvious. Sadly, like the warnings about the inevitable problems the Euro would cause, they were ignored. And proved right in both cases. The Euro can be made to work, but it won't be easy.

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