* Posts by Headley_Grange

202 posts • joined 24 Feb 2010

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He's no good for you! Ofcom wants to give folk powers to dump subpar broadband contracts

Headley_Grange

Up to, or it's misleading.

How will this work? I accept that the providers are pretty loose when it comes to advertising and a clamp-down wouldn't go amiss, but unless they have almost infinite bandwidth to the local cabinet they can only ever make "up to" promises. A user might get 80Gbps at 3AM when the rest of the street is asleep, but when all the street has 4 users per house gaming and on Netflix the bandwidth is going to drop.

Me - I'm on 40-years-in-the-soft twisted pair and a 20-year-old BT Voyager. I get by on 7Mbps, but at 300 yards from the cabinet I consider myself lucky and don't fall for any marketing about upgrading. I won't get much more speed until I get FTTH.

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BYOD might be a hipster honeypot but it's rarely worth the extra hassle

Headley_Grange

Re: Just a stupid idea.

It depends, doesn't it?

In the case of phones, BYOD makes sense to a lot of employees. I don't want to have to carry two phones, two chargers, two cables, two cases, and potentially have to maintain 2 calendars, 2 ToDo lists, ....etc. with me when I'm out and about or away on business. You might have the luxury of a 9-to-5 job where you can turn off at hometime, but many of us can't or don't want to.

In the case of PCs, I agree with the sentiment that allowing outside access to my personal files would be a red line for me, but if a client insisted - and the rate was good - I'm sure I could manage it with separate accounts, permissions and partitions. I already have separate work and personal accounts on my PC just to avoid the risk of embarrassment when plugging into screens at client sites.

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Oracle promises ‘highly automated’ security in self-driving database

Headley_Grange

It's the end......

......of "Something for the Weekend".

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Another month, another malware outbreak in Google's Play Store

Headley_Grange

Re: Useless Google

Good idea about the sales - and I don't believe that a law would ever be passed. But if it were, even though the US won't extradite it would mean that the Google directors could never go to a country with a UK extradition treaty.

BTW Google has a UK MD - he'd be the one going to prison.

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Headley_Grange

Re: Useless Google

@Led - that's why I said "criminally liable". It wouldn't be about lawsuits, it would be about Google's directors going to prison.

I once worked for a UK company with a US parent and it had a US MD. A customer had just pointed out a safety problem with an installation. At an internal review the MD told the PM to tell them to pay for the changes or sod off and we'd see them in court. The PM told the MD that in the UK people could be held personally responsible for H&S problems and do jail time. The MD called in the company legal director - who told him the same thing and requested that the meeting be formally minuted to record the MD's instructions. The MD went white and told the PM to fix the problem and do it sharpish, whatever the cost.

What could Google do? - I don't know, but with virtually limitless funds and the the threat of using hairy soap for a couple of years I bet they'd find a way pretty quickly

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Headley_Grange

Re: Useless Google

@Ledswinger - another option might be for governments to make store owners criminally liable for malware in their stores.

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Apple's adoption of Qi signals the end of the wireless charging wars

Headley_Grange

Re: for once...

@Sarge - you mean like the way they standardized on 3.5mm jack plugs for sound? An actual pro-consumer move -- until they changed.

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Nest cracks out cheaper spin of its thermostat

Headley_Grange

Re: My v1 Nest paid for itself within a year.

@Borg.King - My *annual* gas bill (heating/hot water) in southern England is £350. You must live in a mansion or somewhere very cold.

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Headley_Grange

Re: It is worth it, you just have to try it...

@MrXavia - good point. A Nest thermostat, or any other IoT device which wants unfettered access to my network and the web will be of interest to me only when the company signs up to a set of Ts&Cs, enforceable in the UK, which guarantee support and security upgrades for at least ten years, reference an accepted (ISO, BS) security standard and agree to be audited regularly to make sure they meet it. They'll also have to guarantee that the app which controls it will continue to be supported for free on existing OSs until the OS is declared obsolete by the vendor and then migrated free to the next version (I'm thinking of the iOs 32-64 bit problem or Parallels on the Mac, which wants £40 every time the Mac OS rolls). They'll also have to guarantee that they won't suddenly decide that, once they've saturated the market, they won't switch users to a monthly subscription model to access their device.

Until then, I'm buggered if I'm spending anything buying a widget which can be, effectively, made unuseable because the company can't be bothered to update the product or the app or which can suddenly start costing me money because they change the funding model.

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British broadband is confusing and speeds are crap, says survey

Headley_Grange

Re: Webpages that crash

@Joe: you're right. Much like a bypass, the traffic will grow to fill the capacity. Newspaper pages run at 20-40MB if all the ads and scripts are allowed (I've seen 75MB on the Indy) for a data content (news) of a few hundred kB. Page size is set by papers' view of what readers will accept as load time, not their consideration for our bandwidth. If users had 1Gbps then the papers would just cram in more crap for the same load times.

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Energy firm slapped with £50k fine for making 1.5 million nuisance calls

Headley_Grange

Re: Spawn of Satan

Most people are so pissed off with cold calling that they just slam the phone down, and reporting is a pain in the neck, even if you know either the number or the company. How difficult would it be for BT to set up automatic reporting - just hit, say, 2868, during the call and it's automatically logged as a nuisance call. They should be able to do this even if the sender withholds their number, given that the call comes over their network.

BTW - I bought one of those call-blocking phones and I haven't had a cold call since.

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UK industry mouthpiece wants 'near-universal' broadband speeds of 30Mbps by 2020

Headley_Grange

Re: Use cases please?

I think that the problem is more of an "if you build it they will come" issue. Most of us managed to get by on 56k 20 years ago - including reading the news and looking at pretty pics on the NASA site. Bandwidth is like a bypass - it generates traffic till it's full. Some newspaper pages (Independent) are 40 - 60MB if you allow all the scripts and advertising through - for less than 100kB of useful information. Do you think that will get better or worse if they reliably have higher available bandwidth and can increase the crud without impacting load time.

So, yeah - in 10 years time when everyone in the street has installed mini-iMax 3D TVs people will be whingeing at the the poor decision to only provision for 30MB.

I'm stuffed cos I'm twisted pair back to the box, which is about 300 yards away, so my 5Mbps is pretty miraculous and won't change unless they dig the street up and install fibre.

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UK.gov cloud fave Amazon comes under fire for tax bill

Headley_Grange

Re: That's a 5.28% tax rate.

How do you get that rate?

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Headley_Grange

Worse than the Guardian

I'm boycotting Amazon because of the way they treat employees - IOW, I don't like them, but this is a crap report . At least the Gruaniad reported the facts. From yesterday's article in the Graun:

"The company received a tax credit of £1.3m from the UK authorities, which it will be able to deduct from future tax bills. Pre-tax profits halved from £48m in 2015 to £24m last year."

So the profit halved, and so did the tax.

Note also (Graun): " Amazon Europe, which is based in Luxembourg and aggregates the billions of pounds of sales the retailer makes from individual countries across the continent, reported a pre-tax profit of €59.6m last year. As a result the company, which clocked up €21.6bn in sales across Europe last year, had a tax bill of just €16.5m." So that's an approximate tax rate of about 27%

Finally - as one poster pointed out above - some of the reduced profits came from increased pay, benefits and bonuses to employees. Given that income tax is generally higher than corp tax then if any of those employees is UK based then the exchequer has probably got a good deal, even ignoring the VAT that the it will probably make from the increased disposable income.

Amazon's business model of making very small profit on a massive sales turnover will always result in low taxes - get over it. If you're going to get angry at Amazon then it should be for the way staff and contractors are treated; Amazon can afford to do better, they should do better and they will if their customers demand it.

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UK publishes Laws of Robotics for self-driving cars

Headley_Grange

Re: But but but...

@Smooth - is it a problem that the document is woolly? If UKGOV had tried to define anything (specs, protocols, etc) then it would have been slated for shackling industry, outdated after about 20 minutes and possibly also acted as a hacker's manual by helping to define attack vectors.

The woolliness might allow companies to wriggle out of stuff, but it's a feature certainly of English law; ALARP, best endeavours, the man on the Clapham omnibus etc. abound and in my experience companies take their legal responsibilities in these woolly areas just as seriously as in better defined ones. The supposedly tight, technical specs around emissions testing and compliance didn't prevent car companies trying to find ways around it and any eventual prosecutions in Europe will not simply be about not meeting the specs (which is sort of proven), but about proving an intent to defraud.

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Headley_Grange

Re: But but but...

@Big_D -- When you pay by credit card in a shop the communication link is secure but the information is available at the bank for when it's needed; e.g. to send you a statement. The government doesn't want to ban encrypted information links, it wants to make sure that the information is getatable at some place- either the user's phone or the supplier's servers.

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Google hit with record antitrust fine of €2.4bn by Europe

Headley_Grange

Re: Erm

"What you're not allowed to do is to use that monopoly (market dominance) in order to enter other markets. At which point it all becomes rather murky, as to what's being normally competitive and what's unfair competition."

The BBC has all but destroyed local newspapers and radio stations. They advertise only their own products on TV, radio and podcasts. They copy their competitor's products and compete with them (time slots) for no other reason than to disrupt their business (they get the same revenue whether they show a programme at 8 o'clock on Sunday evening or 3 o'clock on Thursday). I'm forced to pay for this, even if I never watch BBC.

I look forward to someone fining the BBC for these anti-competitive practices.

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Uber wants your top tips to mend its rotten image

Headley_Grange

Re: Tips

And always wear goggles when grinding.

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White-box webcam scatters vulnerabilities through multiple OEMs

Headley_Grange

Re: Why, oh why?

"but why the fcuk do they always need to be connected to the Interwebs?"

The main reason for security cameras is that they would be pretty useless if the burglars ran off with the laptop or server that the cameras were recording on.

Another reason is upgrades. Many people aren't tech aware enough to do their own upgrades by downloading then uploading and installing. I had to do my NAS server a year or so ago and it was a stressful nightmare. A relative phones me every so often because the flash update on Firefox hasn't worked. The conversation always goes like.

"Open a Finder window".

"What's Finder? What do you mean a window?".

"Look on the thing that pops up on the bottom of the screen for a blue smiley face thing - probably on the left hand side".

"OK. Wait a minute while I close everything that's on the screen.".

"You don't need to do that - just open Finder".

"Hang on, I'm just closing everything that's on the screen".

etc. There's lots of "...look up at the very top right, then come down a bit - just next to the green dot....". They don't know what the following words mean: App, Folder, Return Key, Window, Finder, Side Bar, Column Header, Sort, Home Folder, Default, Settings, ............

They are not stupid; they are like the vast majority of home PC users who just use them to buy stuff on eBay and watch films and have no knowledge of what happens under the hood.

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BT considers scrapping 'gold-plated' pensions in bid to plug £14bn deficit

Headley_Grange

Re: Thank the Bank of England

@Ian45 - don't know why you're getting down voted because you're correct. Quantitative easing (BoE policy to keep inflation low) hits gilt returns. Pension funds tend to have big gilt investment because they are seen as safe. Pension fund forecast returns have plummeted because gilt returns have plummeted and therefore the forecast deficits in pension funds (dictated by actuarial rules) have grown. Note that these are not real deficits - they are forecast deficits based on predicted liabilities (how long people will live, inflation) and predicted values (gilt and other investment returns). At the moment, on average, both of these are going the wrong way.

From the FT last August : 'Over the past few years, falls in bond yields used to calculate liabilities have forced many defined benefit “final salary” pension schemes into deeper deficit — with total deficits reaching a new high of £935bn in the wake of the EU referendum, according to actuaries at Hymans Robertson.

“Any downward pressure on gilt yields will feed through in the form of an ever bigger black hole in final salary schemes,” said Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at fund manager Hargreaves Lansdown.

"'

https://www.ft.com/content/995523f6-58de-11e6-8d05-4eaa66292c32

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Headley_Grange

Re: BT, a pension scheme with a telecommunications provider attached to it

Companies didn't raid pension pots; they stopped paying in because they had to pay tax on the surplus. The link below is to an old story, but explains the bones of it, including

"So-called pension holidays created a savings nightmare, the most spectacular example of which was at the Royal Mail, where successive governments paid nothing at all into its pension scheme for 13 years and ended up with colossal shortfall. "

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/10343130/Who-will-end-this-pension-scandal.html

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Uber found to be doing something awful? Yep, it's Tuesday

Headley_Grange

Unfathomably Popular?

@InNY: I don't like or use Uber, but "unfathomably popular"? Have you ever used a cab? In my town....

- no credit cards in half the cabs and the rest whack on a £3 or 5% charge (whichever's bigger),

- filthy, uncomfortable, knackered cabs, with no heating in the rear in winter,

- drivers who don't know where they are going,

- cabs that don't turn up on time - or at all,

- no cabs on the ranks late at night,

- cabs that add on the station pick-up charge no matter where they pick you up,

- no way to complain about any of the above which gets results nor any way to find out who the bad drivers/cabs are.

The state has regulated Hackneys since the late 1600s and mincabs since the 60s and in those 300 odd years they've done virtually nothing to improve customer service other than implement general legislation (smoking, seatbelts, disabled access, etc). Getting a cab today was no different from getting a cab in 1965 - until along came Uber. I don't use Uber, their "self employed" model is disingenuous at best and they don't pay their fair share of tax (IMHO) - but they filled a hole that needed filling and, practically, one that could have been addressed by the regulating authorities any time in the last 10 years.

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Microsoft to spooks: WannaCrypt was inevitable, quit hoarding

Headley_Grange

Re: Let's mention Microsoft's Policy of hoarding patches unless you pay up.

@Dan 55 - there's a fix for Win7 taking hours to decide which updates are required. I had the same problem but I can't remember the specifics of the fix. Google it; it requires you to download and run a specific update which you've skipped in the past.

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Victory! The smell of skunkworks in your office in the morning

Headley_Grange

Re: How do you handle the legal part of governnance?

I did some work for a UK-based company which was owned by a US company. The high-paid help were briefed on Sarbanes Oxley. Briefing message: "You are responsible for what happens here and if you sign off stuff which isn't fit for purpose then you'll be in the US, wearing orange and using hairy soap."

HPH response? They pushed down acceptance/approval to the lowest level possible, including just-graduated engineers, and instigated a process that resulted in it taking weeks to get anything signed off. None of the directors would approve anything without evidence to "prove" it was someone else's fault.

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Headley_Grange

PM "How long til it's finished?"

Eng. "Couple of weeks."

PM "How's it going?"

Eng. "OK."

PM "What's the spec. again?"

Eng. "8dB min."

PM "And what's the performance?"

Eng. "9.5 dB, but I know I can get get more. Just give me a couple of weeks."

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Headley_Grange

ETC

As a newby PM in the midst of "managing" a development project I was informed by the finance director that the engineering overhead had increased by 0.8% and so I needed to adjust my estimate to complete accordingly. I told him that it was pointless because the ETC accuracy was nowhere near 0.8% and the genuine look of astonishment on his face made me realize that me and the company weren't made to be.

Skunkworks? There was a group of 3 guys who spent most of their time inventing new ways to use conditional formatting on project reports; does that count?

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Uber sued by ex-Lyft driver tormented by app maker's 'Hell' spyware

Headley_Grange

Re: ...serious driver retention problem

JimC - all those years ago I thought I was a paperboy, but in reality I was a self-employed news delivery platform.

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Why Firefox? Because not everybody is a web designer, silly

Headley_Grange

Chrome has no decent RSS reader and continually nags me for Keychain access, so I don't use it.

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Fixing your oven can cook your computer

Headley_Grange

Re: Firewall

@Tom7 "I think the problem here is the desire to make things more complicated than they are prepared to pay to actually have maintained."

I suspect it's more to do with not understanding what it means (costs) to have to support multiple configurations of hardware, firmware and software in the wild, especially if the said products rely on third party platforms (Android, iOS) and are attractive to hackers and criminals.

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Headley_Grange

Re: Coincidence?

You should have asked him to come clean.

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Headley_Grange

Firewall

Some appliance companies have taken two years (and counting) to fix dishwashers which are a fire hazard, have caused several confirmed house fires and been condemned by the fire service and in Parliament. I assume they are in the process of creating a special department of couldn't-give-a-toss for when consumers find holes in their IoT security.

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Crafty Fokker: Norfolk surgeon builds Red Baron triplane replica

Headley_Grange

Not enough wings

The model I built in my youth had five wings.

http://www.revell.com/product-images/85-1735-lg.jpg

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Boeing and Airbus fly new planes for first time

Headley_Grange

Re: Yes, they look beautiful

Disruptive could be much smaller, faster planes with long ranges. On trips under 4 hours passengers spend as much time travelling to and from airports, sitting around in the terminal and waiting for luggage as they do flying.

Getting rid of the huge-airport-shopping-centre hub approach and having small 4 to 6 seat taxi planes with long ranges and no one living more than 30 mins from a useable airport would be disruptive. Catching a plane would be almost the same as getting a cab.

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Lloyds Banking Group axing hundreds of jobs again

Headley_Grange

Re: Continued Cuts

@Steve Davis 3 - I used to go to the bank a dozen or so times a month. To cash cheques, to use the cashpoint (no Link service in the old days - Barclays customer, Barclays cashpoint; the tie up with Lloyds to share cashpoints was a miracle), to pay the gas bill, telephone bill, electricity bill, credit card bill, poll tax, etc. and to pay in cheques. I honestly can't remember the last time I went to the branch - it must be over three years ago.

Back office stuff - I get, but how much are people willing to pay to keep staff onshore? If one bank stays onshore and the rest go offshore then it'll make less money, the share price will drop, it'll get bought out and the staff laid off and offshored. They could fix this by charging customers for their banking, but free banking is a sacred cow in this country and if that means a bunch of foreigners being paid sh*t wages in sweatshop conditions with no meal breaks or fire exits then so be it, as long as I don't have to pay £10 a year for my banking.

For the past 30 years we, consumers, have been complicit as industry after industry has left the country or raced to the bottom to save money. We don't give a f**k where stuff's made, how badly staff are treated or where the profits go as long as we can buy cheap stuff. We prefer to buy trainers in well known discount sports outlets rather than the local indy sports shop and don't give a toss about the poor buggers who are treated like crap in their UK warehouses so we can save a fiver. Online shopping is so convenient - who cares if the distribution centre staff are docked wages for taking too long to piss as long as I can order a printer cartridge by lunchtime and have it tomorrow. And don't even start me on the gig economy.

Capitalism delivers what customers value. As long as customers value cheap over ethical, moral, society, family, respect, environment, participation,....., then the market will deliver cheap at the expense of everything else .

The banks will continue to go the same way until their customers give a toss about something other than cheap. Minimum wage, H&S, holiday pay, sick pay, pensions, p/maternity leave, welfare state etc. don't come cheap and most of us believe that these benefits are worth paying for, but only when they apply to our job.

/end rant - sorry it came your way Steve - not aimed at you.

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Euro Patent Office puts itself on Interpol's level, demands access to staff phones and laptops

Headley_Grange

The EU seemingly can't get rid of him. Why?

"The EU seemingly can't get rid of him. Why?"

The danger is that if someone discovers a successful way of getting rid of one useless senior EU bureaucrat then they might use it to get rid of some more. Better to keep your head down.

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User rats out IT team for playing games at work, gets them all fired

Headley_Grange

Re: You can't just fire people like that.

I once worked fora a US company where many of the permanent staff were on 12 month renewable contracts. It meant that every year the boss had to make a decision to continue your contract, or you were out the door.

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Sysadmin told to spend 20+ hours changing user names, for no reason

Headley_Grange

From a user's point of view...

Notwithstanding the PIA work in changing, from a user PoV I can see the sense in not having strict rules for email addresses. A couple of friends use their middle names because they hate their first names - so they are pissed off every day by having email addresses in their hated names due to company policy which just plucks names from the HR d/b and is cast in iron from that point on. A colleague who hails from somewhere east goes by his surname all the time, except with his mum, because his given name is about 30 characters long - yet in his first job his email address was namesurname@server.com. They had to change it eventually because back in the day some systems wouldn't take addresses >32 characters and, frankly, some people were ignoring the mails because they didn't know anyone called that.

For me, from a practical PoV, it's always good to be able to read the mail and see who it's going to by checking the email address. You know - when you're sending that sensitive mail and this time you really do check all the addresses individually (not the alias from the address book) before hitting send to avoid all that embarrassment (again).

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We're great, you don't understand competition law, Google tells Europe

Headley_Grange

"When consumers look at Google ads they do not get the best, most relevant results. Instead, they get results from advertisers willing to pay Google the most money."

I look forward to being able to go to the newsagents and buy my personal copy of the Sun with ads tailored specifically for me, instead of the current state where the ads are from the advertisers who've paid the Sun the most money for the column inches. Ditto ITV - I haven't got a cat, I've got a motorbike.

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Is password security at just $1/month too expensive for most?

Headley_Grange

Subscription

Security concerns aside, it's the subscription model that people don't like. I'm happy to pay a subscription for a newspaper or veg box cos I get new stuff every time I pay. I'm not happy paying for software this way cos I don't get new stuff every time I pay. Assuming I want the product then charge me a one off price, or a price per x passwords stored and I'll pay it. I'm not rational about this - the one-off cost could well be more than I'd pay on a subscription model - I just see software subscription as a rip off.

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MPs want Blighty to enforce domestic roaming to fix 'not spots'

Headley_Grange

Re: OFCOM Powers

Problem is it's not in their sole power to deliver. N. Norfolk coverage is poor in some areas with locals complaining like hell. But not as much as they complained when the networks wanted to put up a new (government funded) tower to improve coverage and the local council denied them planning permission.

Stupid network wanted to put it on a hill where it would spoil the view.

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Self-driving cars doomed to be bullied by pedestrians

Headley_Grange

Re: fun.apply(handbrake)

Adam - good point. Many cars today don't even have a proper handbrake, so I guess that pretty soon there'll be even less fun to be had on (and off) the roads. When I trade up I suppose I'll just have to run the pedestrians over - or at least wing them.

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Headley_Grange

fun.apply(handbrake)

All they have to do is to programme the Johnny Cab to yank on the handbrake when pedestrians don't get out of the way quickly enough. When I do it, it locks the back wheels up and the noise scares the sh1t out of them. Watch them run for the safety of the pavement!

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Apple's car is driving nowhere

Headley_Grange

The article makes the point that Google's approach is to have an autonomous car - in which case humans don't need good all-round visibility because the car will be taking care of what's happening at junctions.

Google would probably prefer no windows at all, just a bunch of screens which give a view of the outside overlaid with ads. They could even tweak the routing algorithm to go the long way round to get more ads in.

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Apple’s macOS Sierra update really puts the fan into 'fanboi'

Headley_Grange

Re: Swinsian

JLV: I mostly agree. I only listen to music with iTunes. i've got a 100+GB library to manage and I've never found another player that can let me create playlists like "all songs released between 1974 and 1980 which aren't Christmas songs, aren't songs I hate and which I haven't listened to in the last year"

I use "Skip" as a genre for the albums I don't want to listen to in Smart Playlists, rather than waste stars.

If you're on a Mac try "Export for iTunes" to copy playlists to other devices or memory cards.

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Headley_Grange

Midnight Chimes

I fixed the midnight chime by changing the sleep settings.

sudo pmset -a standbydelay 86400

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Is Apple's software getting worse or what?

Headley_Grange

Re: hiding things

TRT: I sort of agree with you, but the other week I was working with someone who's also a Mac user. She opens everything using the green button and puts it onto a new desktop. Every document, every spreadsheet - all on its own desktop. She's never used cmd-tab for switching and she just swipes right and left to move between stuff and was very adept - I got dizzy just watching the screen.

I guess it's horses for courses; I tried the desktop thing for a couple of days and it just annoyed me - except for apps where I almost never need the menu bar (e.g. iTunes).

Maybe the world does move on and old gits like me might have to get used to it.

BTW - just re-read that: my lawyer would like to point out that this post is not intended to imply that anyone else on this forum is an old git.

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Headley_Grange

Re: It's downhill all the way ...

Blue Pumpkin: agreed on Preview. <alt><file> will give you "Save As" in the file menu.

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OK Google, Alexa, why can't I choose my own safe, er, wake word?

Headley_Grange

It's All Vanity

I think it's because they realized that some of us might use phrases like "Oi, Bezos, you C**t".

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User couldn't open documents or turn on PC, still asked for reference as IT expert

Headley_Grange

Re: Bad references

No. Over-cautious legal departments prevent companies giving references beyond "She worked here from date x to date y." because they think it protects them from getting sued should one of their ex-employees f**k up at another company or fail to get a job cos of a bad reference. Of course, it means that they now have no way of knowing that they are about to employ a potential f**k up - so there's potential karma out there.

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