* Posts by Smooth Newt

744 posts • joined 6 Jul 2009

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Northern Ireland bags £150m for broadband pipes in £1bn Tory bribe

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Re: @ Martin

Our Austerity measures don't amount to as much as you imagine. What they do do is induce economic confidence and hence reduce our cost of borrowing. By keeping interest payments down this saves vastly more money than the austerity measures themselves.

What they do is screw the economy and prevent growth. You can't cut your way to prosperity by being economically stagnant, as the results of this have sadly shown over the last decade. The idea that real-world consumers who are terrified of losing their jobs in the midst of a policy-induced recession will somehow become "economically confident" and so spend money and lift the economy out of recession is nonsense. See e.g. Mark Blyth, Professor of Political Economics at Brown University, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go2bVGi0ReE

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Smooth Newt
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Re: @ Martin

Why should the rest of us pay for the asset-rich to get social care just so they can leave those assets to their sprogs?

Especially when the whole Austerity thing is just a mechanism whereby the rest of us get penalised to pay for bailing the banks' bad debts out, i.e. ensuring that the asset-rich, whose money the banks were lending, didn't lose anything.

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Smooth Newt
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How Ruth Davidson...

...must be regretting that the Scottish Conservative Party is just a wing of the UK's Conservative and Unionist Party. She isn't even getting a bent farthing for Scotland in return for her party's support, whilst Arlene Foster walks off with a billion quid for Northern Ireland with, presumably, more to follow each time the Government has another sticky vote outside of the deal to win.

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Blighty's first aircraft carrier in six years is set to take to the seas

Smooth Newt
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Admiral Beatty's Battle Cruiser Fleet

I think it was very short sighted of Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker that they didn't build the Forth bridge taller than what they settled for. Could they not see how it would impact on the UK building big huge giant war ships?! Did they not care for the ship builders further up the Forth?!

You are absolutely correct. It caused serious concerns for the Battle Cruiser Fleet during the First World War, since it was based at Rosyth. Much effort was expended in guarding against the (in the end) imaginary risk of the Germans landing a small force to bring the bridge down and preventing this, the fast reconnaissance wing of the Grand Fleet, from being able to get to sea during a critical moment.

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Smooth Newt
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Russian planes

If a Russian plane flew into our airspace, I wonder if it would be shot down or just be told it's a really naughty boy and please go home?

You mean, would the Royal Air Force risk a war, and with a nuclear armed power at that, without asking the Prime Minister's permission first? Given her reputation for being weak and wobbly, what do you think her answer would be?

In the unlikely event of her seriously considering it, factors she would be forced to evaluate include how supportive our EU partners in NATO would be in defusing another major crisis unilaterally caused by the UK, and how reliable Donald Trump would be if push came to shove. It is entirely likely that the UK would end up being hung out to dry by its allies, and worse than that, many of the UK based Russian oligarchs who donate to the Conservative Party would take their custom elsewhere.

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IoT coverage for 95% of UK by 2019? We can't even do 4G, Sigfox

Smooth Newt
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Re: Mixing IoT with cellular networks

Privacy usually isn't an issue with such applications as they usually monitor things like pipe pressures or weather clock are still running

The people who run surveillance camera networks might disagree. And even your thermostat will tell people whether you are away on holiday or not.

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Lordy! Trump admits there are no tapes of his chats with Comey

Smooth Newt
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Mushroom

Neo-Mccarthyist nonsense

When the Soviet Union collapsed the world realised just how weak a regime it really was. Russia is significantly weaker still, by comparison, today.

I think you are confusing economically weak with militarily, politically or technologically weak. Whilst Russia has serious economic problems, it is still a powerful country controlled by a powerful leader. I don't see people writing off North Korea as threat just because it has a GDP smaller than Trinidad's.

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Queen's speech announces laws to protect personal data

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

"to modernise the courts system"

Can we all be quite clear on this. "Modernise" in the context of plumbing or electrical wiring means something. "Modernise" in the context of politics and legislation is an utterly meaningless weasel word popularized by New Labour spin doctors and used as a cover for "break" or "screw around with".

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Tesla death smash probe: Neither driver nor autopilot saw the truck

Smooth Newt
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Re: Bleh

Deceleration from 74 to 0 mph over that short a distance is also in the "quite possibly dead" category.

Particularly as kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed - 1/2 mv2 - i.e. about 13 times more energy is involved at 74 mph compared to 20 mph, and about 1.8 times as much as at 55 mph.

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Guess who's just locked up £1.5bn Australian prison mega-contract? Our very own Serco

Smooth Newt
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Serco had agreed to repay all past profit ...

So you do get the grass back just by shovelling the shit back into the cow.

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Is your research hot or not? US boffins create ‘Tinder for preprints’

Smooth Newt
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Re: OMG!

Swipe (whatever way is "No!" for this idea)

Seems harsh, since it is how governments actually make research funding choices. They automatically swipe "yes" for anything to do with self-driving cars, AI or mobile phones, and "no" for new antibiotics and vaccines. I doubt they think very much about it.

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Report estimates cost of disruption to GPS in UK would be £1bn per day

Smooth Newt
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Damned capitalists

And yet those damned capitalists in the USA let everyone use theirs for free.

Sooner or later I expect it will occur to that nice Mr Trump that the Mexicans should pay for their GPS as well as their wall. All he has to do it switch the civilian signal off as the satellites overfly countries which haven't coughed up. He will have stumbled onto a good business model - drug dealers often give the heroin away until their clients are addicted.

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From landslide to buried alive: Why 2017 election forecasts weren't wrong

Smooth Newt
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Re: "'This election was won by the younger generation.'" "Well not really, Labour still lost, i"

The young? F**k em, they don't vote.

Now they have. The question is can they keep doing so? It's a habit they'd better acquire again if they don't want to be sidelined and generally ignored.

No, they won't vote in such numbers next time. The Conservatives have learnt their lesson. The next election will be called for a university holiday period when the students are out of reach of both their polling stations and the students' unions exhorting them to vote. And postal votes are delivered to their term time addresses.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: (energy price cap FFS)

on that subject (energy price cap FFS) Who do these politicians think they are? energy is a real world , finite resource that there isnt enough of . Putting a fixed value on it is akin to trying to change the time the sun comes up , or the value of Pi , or , classically, stopping the tide coming in.

Energy is a near-infinite resource whose availability is controlled by cost. If there was a market for electricity at £5 a unit, you could be sure that every green space in the country would sprout a solar panel, every industrial estate a power station and even hamsters would be turning little generators. There aren't enough suppliers in the market for proper competition, so there is a considerable amount of price gouging and screwing the customer, which is why Government intervention is needed. Markets can be powerfully influenced by Government policy - look at train tickets, heroin, and mobile phones for obvious examples.

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Two leading ladies of Europe warn that internet regulation is coming

Smooth Newt
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Meh

The two most powerful women in Europe

That will be Angela Merkel and Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.

Theresa May is on double secret probation from her party, and she can't pass any legislation without the permission of Arlene Foster and Ruth Davidson, the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Scottish Conservatives.

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Who will save us from voice recog foolery from scumbags? Magnetometer!

Smooth Newt
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Holmes

stressed that there could "never be one solution to a problem like this".

Apart from the one solution of not using voice recognition systems to verify identity.

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Boeing preps pilotless passenger flights – once it has solved the Sully problem, of course

Smooth Newt
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Re: Remote pilots?

I would have thought remote piloting (isn't there already plenty of drone technology to support this) in emergencies would better cover tricky situations like deciding to ditch in a river.

I would prefer the person in control to be sitting up front with their skin in the game and not in an office somewhere playing After Burner. It provides a stronger incentive.

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Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?

Smooth Newt
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Unhappy

"hideous ideologies" whose sole aim is to kill

It is wildly simplistic to say that terrorists' sole aim is to kill. It is much closer to the truth to say that their sole aim is to appear on television.

Acts of terrorism are performed to raise the profile of a cause, and especially to maximize media exposure so as to further the atmosphere of fear. Their goal is to influence an audience by causing fear amongst it, and killing is just a way of achieving that. "Performed" is the right word to use, because they are public performances.

Media coverage is a key incentive for terrorist acts, since mass media provides a reach across the whole population which a random act of violence in itself could not. The sad thing is that by providing days of wall to wall coverage on par with a Royal Marriage, some of the mass media are making it happen.

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Cuffed: Govt contractor 'used work PC to leak' evidence of Russia's US election hacking

Smooth Newt
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Zaphod Beeblebrox

"undermines public faith in government."

I thought that was Trump's job!

"The President is very much a figurehead - he wields no real power whatsoever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it. "

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UK surveillance law raises concerns security researchers could be 'deputised' by the state

Smooth Newt
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Big Brother

How could the gov't know?

How could the gov't know you've found a vulnerability until you publish it/tell the vendor? Me thinks horses, gate, bolted.

Perhaps by using their surveillance powers against you.

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IBM marketeers rub out chopper after visit from CEO Ginni

Smooth Newt
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Re: Just something to think about...

It rather assumes that she would be doing something profitable for IBM with the time saved by using a helicopter, and that the perceived "Austerity is just for you little people" message has no significant effect on the productivity of the people at IBM who aren't already spending their entire working day looking for a better job.

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UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

Smooth Newt
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Haystacks

Clearly the problem here is that the security services need much bigger haystacks...

I don't think it is about "security". After all, no one has said that anti-encryption laws would have made the slightest difference here - for one thing the investigation has only just started, so no one knows.

I think it is about being able to monitor and control dissent in society. Bombs and terrorists are just a convenient excuse for getting what they want. This is a ratchet, once they get this, they will just demand the next bit of intrusive monitoring on their list.

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Netgear 'fixes' router by adding phone-home features that record your IP and MAC address

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

Similar technical data

Technical data about the functioning and use of our routers and their WiFi network can help us to more quickly isolate and debug general technical issues, improve router features and functionality, and improve the performance and usability of our routers. Such data may include information regarding the router’s running status, number of devices connected to the router, types of connections, LAN/WAN status, WiFi bands and channels, IP address, MAC address, serial number, and similar technical data about the use and functioning of the router, as well as its WiFi network.

What is "similar technical data"? I might have a mental image of what "similar technical data" might be, but given that hotchpotch of things listed, some of which are hardly "technical", there is no reason why it should coincide with Netgear's. Why can't they be a lot more specific?

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Cloud giants 'ran out' of fast GPUs for AI boffins

Smooth Newt
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Re: Burning the midnight oil

Glad it's not just undergrads who wait until the last minute to write an essay!

This sounds like more than writing the paper, it is doing the actual research to go into it. So what are these researchers doing the rest of the time if it's not their AI models? Is it "There's a deadline coming up, so I'd better do some work"?

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WannaCrypt: Roots, reasons and why scramble patching won't save you now

Smooth Newt
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Re: The real solution is always ignored...

Raise awareness with your users. Take your time to inform the people who deal with incoming e-mail about the risks, explain (in terms they can understand, not everyone is a geek) what the danger is and why they should never "just" open any attachment and most of all: be there when it counts.

I think defence in depth is best. Yes, make users as aware as you reasonably can of these issues, but don't rely entirely on their diligence and understanding. Do all the other things you can too.

After all, I don't suppose there is anyone out there doesn't bother with user accounts and just gives all their users the root password and the injunction to be very careful. You could in principle, but I guess the results wouldn't be very pretty. So, there are other mechanisms in place, such as access and privilege controls related to job function, plus backups, recovery strategies etc.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Remember the Millenium Bug?

I hope you do realize that a majority of software relied on the underlying OS for their date calculation(s) and thus the only fixing required was the OS itself and not so much the applications.

The problems were usually not around calculating the date, but in file formats or other structures in which the year portion of the date was represented as a two digit (or two character) field, perhaps to save on storage. Hence, in such systems the only years which could be represented were (19)00 to (19)99.

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Google DeepMind's use of 1.6m Brits' medical records to test app was 'legally inappropriate'

Smooth Newt
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Re: research purposes unrelated to my care.

I'm not sure it is best to be too narrow about what constitutes "my care". For example, although your care needs now may not overlap with some specific research purposes, they may well be likely to in the future (e.g. you might get cancer, or have a stroke, which perhaps isn't in the your-care-right-now category, but might be in ten years time - your existing data might contain an as-yet unnoticed hint of future problems).

That is just another way of saying that patient data should be used for any bit of health-related research, on the rather thin basis that the participants may one day catch something.

This is explicitly not what patients currently consent too - the data is for their personal immediate care. When people consent to be participants in research projects (which includes reusing data collected for other purposes), they have to give informed consent, which means they cannot consent to a purpose they don't understand let alone don't even know about. These rules came about because many of the darkest parts of recent history are littered with medical research projects where researchers abused participants who did not even know they were part of an experiment.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: AI usage out of control?

So how do we get from this to Google's AI being used to treat real people? If Google simply flagged anomalous results for clinicians to follow up, that seems fine.

Even if that were the case, if I provide sensitive personal data to a hospital for my care, that doesn't give them the right to use it for research purposes unrelated to my care. If the outcome for me is known, and it is being used instead for someone else's care, then it is not being used for my care.

Anonymous data isn't considered to be personal, but unanomyised (or insufficiently anonymised) medical data is considered to be sensitive personal data for which there are particular safeguards. If you want to use my sensitive personal data for research then you can do so only if I give you explicit permission. Inconvenient, I know, to companies who want to make millions of dollars on the back of it, and perhaps inadvertently let it be stolen in the process, but that is how it is.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: There's a more interesting ethical question than just "the rules"

I don't see any reasonable way of delivering such an AI without at some point, the full dataset being provided to train an AI - unless we either want, no AI based diagnostics at all, or it has to practise on people individually and make catastrophic mistakes as it learns the incorrect decisions. Neither of these options seem sound either.

This isn't about whether or not datasets containing identifiable patient data should be used to train AI models. You can do what you like with medical data as long as the people that it describes have given you permission. In this case it seems that the hospital only had permission for it to be used for the direct care of their patients.

My reading of para 3 of the letter is that the hospital justified handing over the records because Streams was being used for direct patient care, and at the same time said that Streams was not being used for direct patient care because e.g. "clinical safety verification is still in progress".

Perhaps they also run prenatal clinics for people who are only a little bit pregnant.

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Never mind custody decisions, let's AI up our police cars

Smooth Newt
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Meh

Re: "those that have nothing to hide so nothing to fear"

That's relatively easy to fix if you allow officers to flag false positives and spread that information throughout the system, if officers flag "true" positives the system can also improve by itself.

"We know you're not a wanted felon or anything, but we'd still like to take some photos of you for our records anyway." Or perhaps they won't be asking for consent at all.

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Smooth Newt
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Re: "those that have nothing to hide so nothing to fear"

There is also the possibility that the system might rule out an innocent person, whereas a human officer might mistake them for a wanted felon.

But there is a variability in human facial recognition which isn't present in duplicate copies of computer software. If one car equipped with facial recognition software decides you are probably Dr Crippen, then all the other ones that drive past you will too.

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Smooth Newt
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Holmes

Lowering crime rates

The closing paragraph of the article says I think it’s undeniable that technology like this will lower crime rates.

"Lower crime rates" means reducing the number of crimes recorded. Technology like this might increase arrests or prosecution rates in certain areas of fairly low hanging fruit, but it is far from obvious that it will lower crime rates. The Police budget in the UK isn't going up, and this equipment doesn't look cheap. The money for expensive equipment has to come from somewhere. Would they "streamline" the number of policemen or perhaps take the money from crime prevention, training or just close a few more police stations?

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WannaCrypt outbreak contained as hunt for masterminds kicks in

Smooth Newt
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WTF?

"Some expensive hardware (such as MRI scanners) cannot be updated immediately, and in such instances organizations will take steps to mitigate any risk, such as by isolating the device from the main network,"

This sounds like misdirection. With 4.7% of NHS computers running XP, are they really suggesting that something approaching one computer in twenty has some fancy diagnostic equipment which is at least 8 years old attached to it? This must be a tiny proportion of the XP computers in the NHS. What about the rest?

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Lib Dems pledge to end 'Orwellian' snooping powers in manifesto

Smooth Newt
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Re: given their record

"[...] how can I trust they don't go back on their pledge once in the office, given their previous record?"

If you are talking about their pledge to oppose increasing student tuition fees when they were the minority partner in the coalition, then they certainly had their balls slammed in the door over that. It is not an experience they are likely to forget.

And what are the other options, since neither Labour nor the Conservatives have made any commitments about people's privacy, and instead have considerable form for introducing Orwellian laws. The Liberal Democrats - despite their considerable failings in other areas - have at least consistently opposed them.

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Dyson celebrates 'shock' EU Court win over flawed energy tests

Smooth Newt
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Stop

Re: 1.6 kW

Wait, what, that should be the headline there, vacuum cleaners don't need an energy source*. Or get warm when the motor runs.

So, which do you think uses more energy? A 1.6 kW vacuum cleaner used for 20 minutes a week, or a 327 kW BMW 7 Series driven for 6 hours a week. How do you think the amount of energy used in a year by vacuum cleaners in Europe compares to the amount of energy used by road transport?

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Smooth Newt
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1.6 kW

Dyson has separately sued Bosch and Siemens' parent company BSH after finding that 750W-rated appliances really draw over 1600W of power when full. A sensor puts the Siemens Q8.0 and Bosch GL80 models into low power mode in pristine conditions – such as a lab test – then ramps it up again for everyday use.

Does that mean that these models actually draw 1.6 kW? If so, I am going to buy one pronto before they change them!

The current 900 watt EU-mandated limit is stupid. If they wanted to save energy and greenhouse gases, then they should have limited the power output of cars instead, as vacuum cleaners contribute precisely bugger all to global warming. But then, as others have pointed out, a Eurocrat probably loves his 5.5 litre Mercedes-Benz but isn't going to be pushing a vacuum cleaner around.

So, at least Brexit isn't all bad. We might have the mother of all recessions when half our export market disappears overnight, but those happy few who still have jobs - working for official receivers and Jobcentres etc - might at least be able to buy a decent vacuum cleaner.

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Police watchdog investigates illegal outsourced Indian hackers scandal

Smooth Newt
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We should be pleased

that at least they didn't get people pregnant this time.

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Smooth Newt
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IPCC

Since the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 allows the IPCC itself massive scope to carry this sort of spying, perhaps they can start by using these powers to snoop on the Metropolitan Police. Or are these powers only meant to be used against the hoi polloi.

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Just 99.5 million nuisance calls... and KeurBOOM! A £400K megafine

Smooth Newt
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100m letters

His address will be public. Can we crowd source 100m letters through his postbox? You know, he seems to enjoy this kind of thing.

He may well do, since white letter waste paper currently sells for £195 - £205 a tonne.1 100m letters = 200,000 reams at, say, 5lb each = 500 tonnes@£200 = £100k. Plus the envelopes.

1http://www.letsrecycle.com/prices/waste-paper/uk-domestic-mill-prices/2016-domestic-mill-prices/

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Smooth Newt
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Re: Fining the directors?

Or just another thing that ministers promised but were far too busy to actually deliver, and now they'll forget about it because they're busy pissing around with another election?

"far too busy" is far too generous IMHO. Political parties in the UK are almost exclusively funded by donations, and the current (and next) administration are particularly dependent upon donations from companies and their directors. So why would they piss these people off by making them liable for something? Ditto making them pay more tax, get fewer peerages etc.

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Taiwan government to block Google's public DNS in favor of HiNet's

Smooth Newt
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Stop

Re: Good News

Let me recommend OpenNIC. Non-logging and democratic.

And soon to be blocked?

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America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

Smooth Newt
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Mushroom

Re: So what about the battery

Airlines here prohibit putting Li-ion batteries in checked luggage, for very good reason - they have a habit of spontaneously combusting.

Devices containing Li ion batteries are more likely to catch fire in the hold too. Rough handling damages batteries. Passengers treat their fondleslabs with a great deal more care than baggage handlers would.

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IBM: Customer visit costing £75 in travel? Kill it with extreme prejudice

Smooth Newt
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Holmes

So...

Have they carefully estimated the cost in lost time for employees to do all this form-filling and the layers of management to process the forms, the possible impact on sales after customers find the level of support and personal contact has dropped off, and the chilling effects on the business around all this, and also set up monitoring mechanisms to check the validity of these estimates?

Or have they just applied the bean-counter's logic of "if you cut your feet off you will save lots of money on shoes"?

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Italian F-35 facility rolls out its first STOVL stealth fighter

Smooth Newt
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Re: Judgemental

Perhaps I've had a beer too many, but I can't think of a population that has done the opposite with any prayer of winning, in modern times. I could make some arguments for some of the Greek city-states, but I'm coming up quite blank from then to now.

Early days I know, but think of the French presidential election.

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Smooth Newt
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Judgemental

You can't judge an entire population by the frothings of a handful of nut jobs that miraculously found themselves wielding power.

But you can judge a population by how easily they roll over and let nut jobs seize power.

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The radio environment is noisy – so use the noise as a carrier for signals

Smooth Newt
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Pint

Re: Disney

The downside is that that your room needs to have metal walls, floor and ceiling, and feature a pole in the centre.

It just means that you'll have to go and live in a pole dancing club. Not necessarily a downside, and an added bonus is that there won't be any children there for Disney to track.

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Gig economy tech giants are 'free riding' on the welfare state, say MPs

Smooth Newt
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Re: Ebay

But if you use that "Master/Servant" relationship as the basis for deciding if someone is an employee, there can no longer be any such thing as a franchise. Because you can bet that if you have bought a McDonald's franchise, they are going to tell you that you have to clean the restaurant, wear the uniform and probably that you have to be be open for certain minimum hours.

The master/servant relationship isn't the full story, another important aspect is that employment is personal. The employee is a named individual who must personally do their employer's bidding. If your contract gives you the right to hire someone else to do the work instead of having to do it yourself then you cannot be an employee - i.e. the franchise holder would have to be required do all the cleaning, cooking and serving personally.

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Smooth Newt
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Ebay

So if a sole trader does 100% of their business through Ebay (which is the resident monopolist agent between supplier & customer), they become an employee of Ebay?

To be an employee you must be in a master/servant relationship in which you must do whatever your master tells you provided it is legal. e.g. If they tell you to clean their car, then you must do that even if it isn't part of your job description. I don't see trading through Ebay is like that, any more than running a market stall makes you an employee of the local council who rents you the pitch.

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