* Posts by sandman

550 posts • joined 8 Jul 2009

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Why mergers LOSE money, but are GOOD for the economy

sandman

Destructive takeovers

The other form of takeover is the destructive one. If I (Megacorp plc registered Lichtenstein) feel threatened by a new upstart I can take them over, skim off any valuable IP, "redeploy" their human assets and sell off anything else worth selling. I win and the shareholders may well win because the competition has been neutered. Unrestricted capitalism naturally favours monopolies.

An advanced variation can be found if you look at what happened in Russia after the end of Communism. With a total lack of effective regulation you had a period of anarcho-Capitalism. Here the takeovers were carried out with extreme prejudice, eventually leading to huge monopoly companies which in turn became arms of the state.

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Report: Tablets to outsell ALL PCs by 2016

sandman

Creating stuff

That's fine - everyone can buy their shiny new tablets while we sit in comfort producing the content for them on our nice ergonomic keyboards, facing our multiple screens, coding, drawing, editing movies, making games and writing away merrily and making all the money :-)

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Making MACH 1: Can we build a cranial computer today?

sandman

Re: " ...converting kinetic energy ..."

Isle of the Dead - Roger Zelazny :-)

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Hm, nice idea that. But somebody's already doing it less well

sandman

Post growth?

For some strange reason, the seasonal intake of excess booze has led our household to discuss growth and consumerism (we know how to party). We came to two conclusions:

1) There hasn't been anything new on the market for a while that has made us go "ooh, must have the precious". Sure, plenty of incrementally improved stuff, but nothing worth coveting.

2) We've got enough stuff and don't see why we should go into debt to fuel a consumer led boom that may put some growth back into the economy. Sorry, I know we're being selfish, but whatever.

If more people start thinking the same way, we start to break our present model of consumer led capitalism which is dependent on constant growth - at least in the West.

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Yes, hundreds upon hundreds of websites CAN all be wrong

sandman

Far from just the internet, I've come across factual errors in paper-based books, sheer weirdness on some e-books owing to bad transcription (not entirely sure the transcriber's first language was English) and really bad errors in TV documentaries. I remember working as an advisor on a history one but was told by the directors assistant that he wasn't going to use a particular, absolutely critical source, because "that wasn't the story he wanted to tell". The end result was therefore complete bollocks and misrepresented the facts, but is now the "popularly" accepted version (if you get your history from TV that is ;-)

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Patrick Moore: Lived with cats, accompanied Einstein on the piano

sandman

A Sad Loss

Orbit in peace

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Tech titans lose our loyalty: Are fanbois a dying breed?

sandman

On the other hand...

Fanbois will never die out entirely. The whole thing would seem to me to be an extension of the human desire to belong to something. You might view it as a logical extension of youth cults (bikers, punks, hippies, mods, etc). Adults get to play too, religious sects, political parties, exclusive city clubs, etc. Of course, any group that you belong to is of course superior to any other group, you want to be one of the chosen, the holders of the secret knowledge, part of the exclusive bretheren.

In order to prove your loyalty and bolster your belief you may try to attack or convert the unbelievers, the stupid Windows users, the Capitalist lackeys or the heretical Protestants for example. It's just part of human nature and will probably always be so.

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sandman

Tech tool box

Couldn't agree more - it's all about what you need to do, not what you do it on. For instance, this is being written on a Windows lap top, and a very fast and powerful one. It's used for most of my corporate applications. I'll soon transfer to a Mac to produce some video, because Final Cut Pro gives us the easiest method of doing so and it runs on Macs. The video will be uploaded to a bunch of Linux servers via a Flash inteface but in a format that can be viewed on any screen, tablet or smart phone. I have a Blackberry for the corporate push email and an old iPhone for personal use because it runs a couple of apps that aren't available for anything else.

The software our company produces is written on Windows machines but will run on Windows, Linux, Unix, Sun servers, etc.

It's all about picking the right tools.

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Apple cultists slaver as Mothership landing now foretold in 2016

sandman

Parkinson's Law

Apart from his most famous law, Parkinson also postulated that you could tell how well a company was going to do by its HQ building. He reckoned that a growing company was too busy doing money making stuff to worry that much about the building but moving into a palatial new one was the sign of impending stagnation and decline... No axe to grind, just saying....

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Orc Assassin Rogue wins Senate seat

sandman

Re: This could be interesting.

They've already got to that position! I think the US public do it deliberately, reckoning if there's political gridlock then nobody can pass too many new laws and things can just carry on regardless. (Note, this may not work in "fiscal cliff" situations, but that's what happens when a law actually does sneak through.

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ESA preps space junk radar

sandman

Lots of stuff

ESA has a whole bunch of satellites up there, with a goodly number of planned misions on the way, so a radar makes sense. With those capabilities it might also make a good ballistic missile warning radar...

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UK ice boffin: 'Arctic melt equivalent to 20 years of CO2'

sandman

You might be brilliant....

or not, of course. Let's take your idea as an extension of the Gaia hypothesis, in which the planet and its biosphere are a self-correcting mechanism. Since humans are part of the mechanism we could be unconciously polluitng in order to maintain global temperatures in the face of the oncoming cold. Conciously we believe we are doing something wrong, but it's not our fault, Gaia is making us do it ;-)

Now, I want to see an oil company executive use tha argument in public...

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Prince Charles whips out jumbo red ball for Blighty's code-breakers

sandman

Re: What would Turing think?

Indeed he would be encouraged to be open about his sexuality - you're not vulnerable to blackmail that way.

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US federal boffins insist that mermaids DON'T exist

sandman

Re: Looking in the wrong place

Dagon will rise again!

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News Corp proposes divorce, Murdoch will look after TV biz

sandman

Re: Good/Evil

Nah, that's pure evil and really, really evil.

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Stonehenge WASN'T built by ALIENS - Boffins' shock claim

sandman

Re: "Ritual significance"

I actually used that argument in an archaeology essay - got good marks for it too :-)

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Microsoft's Surface proves software is dead

sandman

Did I miss something?

Somebody better tell the company I work for that software is dead - we sell nearly half a billion dollars worth a year. Selling software to consumers might be a little poorly, but that's only a fraction of the software market.

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Apple's Retina Macs: A little too elite?

sandman

Re: External

External is the way to go - even with a laptop hard drive. We use 2TB LaCie drives plus one or two 23' external monitors. The laptop itself really just holds the software, does the processing and uploads to the online storage system. It also helps to have a portable system to carry to meetings, demos and to show your mother her old 8mm movies when you have transferred and edited them ;-)

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Steve Jobs' 'private Apple spaceship' seeks public love

sandman

Inspired by GCHQ? Closed, secretive, techie.....

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Zuck weds self to lady friend in surprise ceremony

sandman

Re: Great idea

Oh God yes - just going through a build up to a wedding that could have been scripted by Cecil B DeMille - his way is soooo much better

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America, China go ape for tablets

sandman

Post, Post Industrial

Perhaps the European population in general is the first society (barring certain demographics) to just go "meh" to new stuff. Perhaps they're cynical enough to run a cost benefit analysis on items like tablets. Obviously being broke really helps this process, but even among a lot of prosperous people I've started noticing a distinct reluctance to buy stuff just because it's "new". There's a lot of folk out there who won't replace a perfectly good CRT TV until it finally dies, who's iPhones are out of contract and who's cars are many years old. Of course, if we all did that the Capitalist system would collapse, but hey, whatever...

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Now CHINA complains of surge in cyber-attacks

sandman

Re: It wuz him what dun it

Everybody probably spies as much on their "friends" as on their enemies. You usually know where your enemies stand. Friendship, in the context of nation states, tends to be subordinated to national interest. Anyone who played the old board game "Diplomacy" knows that off by heart! It's also easier, "friendly" spies (this obviously doesn't apply to virtual espionage) usually get sent packing with a protest attached, rather than locked up, tortured or executed.

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No 10 develops Terminator iPad app 'to fire ministers'

sandman
Happy

Fun for all the family

How much fun could be had hacking that app?

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Top Gun 2: It's happening - and the choice of star is stirring controversy

sandman

Great script outline

I'd definitely go and see that version - now you need the financial backing...

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Unions: MoD 'mad to fire staff while increasing consultant spending'

sandman

Usual Story

From that great book, "Parkinson's Law"

Capital Ships in commission (British Navy) in 1914 - 62

Capital Ships in commission (British Navy) in 1928 - 20

Admiralty officials 1914 - 2000

Admiralty officials 1928 - 3569

The figures for the Colonial Office in the show a similar growth in the number of staff as the number of colonies decreased.

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TripAdvisor: OK, not all our reviews are trustworthy or real

sandman

More entertainment

I rarely use Trip Advisor to look at hotels, restaurants, etc, more to get a general feel for a new area and see if there are things to see/do we might have missed. We find booking.com better for hotels, at least you know the reviewers have actually stayed there. I also like their policy of not publishing reviews until they have at least 5. Mind you, Trip Advisor reviews are quite entertaining sometimes - trustworthy, perhaps not so much.

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Govt tells science to budge up for arts at new hi-tech uni

sandman

silly

Don't forget that no government of any political persuasion uses evidence based policy unless it agrees with their own prejudices.

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sandman

Another bright idea

<mini-rant>Not wishing to make any criticism of dear old two brains, but we already have too many universities and are likely to see some going to the wall in the next few years. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, don't most existing ones already teach arts as well as science? Many universities already do the public/private partneship thing with local and multinational firms, so I'm not seeing the big idea here.

It might be more advantageous to concentrate on making secondary school science courses relevant and fun (remember experiments, those of you who are old enough), really jack up the computer science teaching (discussed ad nauseam here already) and provide good vocational courses for those who don't want to or can't (for whatever reason) go to university.

Next, how about technical colleges for the latter group? Perhaps support regional arts colleges too. You could even, if really daring, concentrate on improving what we already have rather than having a new half-baked educational initiative every year.</mini-rant>

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WHSmith Kobo Vox e-reader

sandman

Not really a "reader"

I'm beginning to think that e-book readers needs some sort of standard definition to seperate them from low-end tablets. How about something like:

e-ink screens or similar non-backlit technology (colour optional, if and when)

light weight for long periods of use

looong battery life

really, really easy to use for non-techies

and, most importantly, as little, obvious, geeky, technology stuff as possible.

The idea is to have something as easy to read as a book, with as little as possible to distract you or get in the way. Anything else is a tablet.

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Brits got Kindles for Christmas

sandman

Kith and Kindle

50% of our family now either have one or are waiting for the Touch to come to the UK. My 93 year old mother in law is particularly enamoured with hers. She doesn't have a PC/wireless connectivity, so has the 3G variety. It also helps that all her favourite books are free! To be fair we are a family of book nuts with a real storage problem for those that we've already got.

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ALIEN ARTIFACTS can best be FOUND ON MOON

sandman

Artifact

American English spelling - used to get complaints from some pedantic Americans when I wrote an archaeological website and used the English (English) spelling "artefact".

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CSC faces £1bn write-off over botched NHS IT project

sandman

Business as usual

"but surely the skills of the big players should be able to accommodate that without trying to bleed the country dry"

But where would be the shareholder value in doing that?

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Headmaster freezes schoolkids for Gaia

sandman

End of civilisation

They have heated classrooms these days? How delightfully decadent!

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Navy pays 2x purchase price to keep warship docked for 5 years

sandman

"One of the most influential of the King's officers was Robert Brygandine, who was originally appointed Clerk of the King's Ships in 1495 by Henry VII. His position was confirmed by Henry VIII in a warrant of 1509. Throughout his period of office he appears to have been stationed mainly in Portsmouth."

Stuart Vine

The History of the Mary Rose

http://www.maryrose.org/ship/index.html

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NASA wants space washing machine for ISS, Mars bases

sandman
Unhappy

Donovan

For some reason I now can't get the song "The Intergalactic Laxative" out of my head.

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Attention, mallrats: Google maps floor plans for Android users

sandman

Who's right?

Ok, Jake's taking it a bit far, but what right does anyone have to charge along the street without looking where they are going because they are a selfish prat wrapped up in their little virtual world. Hint, they do not have right of way because they are texting, etc.* I have watched in awe as someone crosses the road on a blind corner while texting, totally ignoring the tosser trolley (large 4x4 that doesn't go off-road) with the driver yacking into their mobile. Evolution in action.

*Please note the use of the non-accusatory "they", rather than the word "you" ;-)

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Microsoft tempts with WinPho demo on... iPhone

sandman

Don't be naive!

Look, the poor kids have got nothing else to brag about or identify themselves by than their choice of phone/OS/etc. They're not hard enough to join a gang, sociable enough to have real friends, or rich enough to own a car they could brag about, so technology is the only way they feel they can belong to an in-group. Of course, anyone with any taste would know that only retro phones like Motorola Pebbles are cool ;-)

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US boffins unleash piezoelectric insect cyborg

sandman

Patience, they're building up to the tail-powered laser shark version...

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NHS minister's bombshell: I get emails from dead people

sandman

Waste of oxygen

I would suspect his ability to use technology (Gmail filters) is about on a par with his ability to run a health service.

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iPhone 4S is for failures who work in coffee shops - Samsung

sandman

Marketing fun

Good heavens - you chaps (mostly chaps, I suspect) take your shiny toys rather seriously don't you? I really can't imagine how sad you'd need to be to line up to buy a phone - redefines the expression. I think the advert quite justifiably took the piss out of such patently needy, juvenile behaviour.

Yes, Apple products are lovely, this is being written on a MacBook Pro and the phone in my pocket is indeed an old iPhone 3Gs, but you babies really need to get out more (actually, preferably less, I hate tripping over you while you stumble along the street gazing at your phone with rapt adoration).

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Google gives up on saving world from cheap coal energy

sandman

Business sense?

One of the mantras of modern business is "concentrate on your core activities". While Google undoubtedly employ some clever engineers, I think that serious power engineering is slightly outside their principal area of competence. Sure, give seed money to projects you like, but don't waste time and resources otherwise.

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Freebie Android anti-malware scanners flunk tests

sandman

Maybe not too exaggerated

I'm not really sure that the folks on this forum (myself included) really have much idea about the usage patterns of the average totally non-techie phone user. I would suspect that many users will see an app they like the look of, download it, click YES in any dialogue box and then suffer the consequences. It was hard enough persuading PC users in one company I worked for not to just download and install whatever they fancied, despite draconian threats, up to and including dismissal. I'm not sure that a hell of a lot of phone users are any different.

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Cheap gas is a 'crisis' for Greens, but not for us

sandman

As someone who is distincty green-tinged (not Colonial Defence Force) I don't see the problem with shale gas. Burning it still produces CO2, but a hell of a lot less than burning coal in a power station. Nuclear would be a still better option, but with long lead times and a lack of political will we need something in the interim. Even better, we don't have to get into bed with dodgy regimes (or be blackmailed by them) for our gas.

The whole fracking argument is a bit of a diversion, we've been setting off explosions underground for a long time, without causing major earthquakes or ground water contamination - it was called mining. I think the problem may lie in the name, a cross between fucking and cracking can't sound good!

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Trojan targets Mac's built-in security defences

sandman

OMG

Pitr has escaped from UserFriendly.org!

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Chaos feared after Unix time-zone database is nuked

sandman
Unhappy

Slightly gobsmacked

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are we saying that UNIX timekeeping for most of the known world depended on a couple of volunteers doing it out of the goodness of their hearts? Why, when this lawsuite came to life didn't some of the big beasts offer to act as proxy and fight the legal case for the poor sods, saving them the money and hassle? All those years working for the public good just binned - very sad and not likely to encourage open source altruism...

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'Hey, Tories, who knows what a nontrepreneur is?’

sandman

Nice Strawbs reference

Couldn't agree more - far too many pointless sites that really only exist to serve adds. Use your dominant search engine to look for virtually anything and you will usually be fed a bunch of list sites first with no useful content. However, some of us still try to produce in an add free manner...

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LibDems call for gov 'IT skills' office

sandman

Long odds

I wonder which of those two scenarios is the more likely?

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O2 tries to one-up the Apple store with SMB lounge

sandman

Of course we don't care

Why on earth should we care about the interior design of our meeting rooms. Enough plug sockets, table space and non-crippling chairs are the basic requirements, along with lighting that doesn't sear the eyeballs. Suits are entirely optional!

If you want to meet in a beautifully designed space, there is a suite at 1 Aldwych which fits the bill nicely. It has a mini conference room in a turret overlooking Waterloo bridge. This contains an octagonal table with eight high-backed chairs, more like a SPECTRE or Lord of the Rings meeting room, plus kitchenette, plus some I seem to recall. Not sure of the price per night (was upgraded to it), but say about £400. For a really posh client meeting and somewhere to sleep afterwards it's a winner!

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Why do these traders get billions to play with, unchecked?

sandman

Great article

I once had the pleasure (ahem) of working on training courses for the New York Stock Exchange an rather wish some of the writing on those had been as clear and succinct!

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A Farewell to Oates: Adios, El Reg

sandman
Unhappy

Ta and goodbye

Have fun whatever you do after you sober up!

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