* Posts by veti

1613 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

BoJo, don't misuse stats then blurt disclaimers when you get rumbled

veti
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Re: Words not stats

My guess is that it'll be below £100M, but I'm basing that on nothing more than a gut feeling.

My guess would be that it might be in the ballpark of £100M, but if you look at it in any other currency - or purchasing power parity - it'll be closer to minus £2900M. Did you see how the pound tanked after the referendum?

The pound in your pocket is worth about 80% of what it was at the beginning of last year. Spread across £772 billion of public spending, that means what the government gets to spend now - measured in terms of what it will actually pay for - is about £3 billion per week less than it was before the referendum.

So yeah - if Boris has a plan to claw back every penny of that £350 million, he'll still be looking at a humungous hole in the public purse.

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What's that, Equifax? Most people expect to be notified of a breach within hours?

veti
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Re: Not Qualified

30 years ago.... to call yourself a software engineer, you needed to go to a college and graduate with a 4 yr degree in an accredited engineering program.

In what jurisdiction was that?

Everywhere I've worked, it's always been a job title and nothing more. Most of the best jobs are. (See also: journalist, politician, forecaster, commentator, manager, director.)

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AWS can now bill us if you read this far. This bit will cost us, too

veti
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Err...

... so you wanna bill me for the time I spent trying to make heads or tails of your story?

Given that the server load required to feed me the story is completely independent of the time I spend reading it, I can't help but feel that something has been rather badly missed in this account.

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Senators call for '9/11-style' commission on computer voting security

veti
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Re: Their s**t don't stink?

So, because the US does it to other countries, they should just roll over and let them do it back?

What next, do the Japanese get to nuke a couple of American cities? After all, it's only fair, right?

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veti
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Re: '9/11 style' commission on computer voting security

Fifteen years into the Occupation, the Iraq Body Count is still - not as bad as the 10 years of sanctions before it.

It's easy enough to condemn the invasion, but less easy to describe the alternative.

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Pretend Python packages prey on poor typing

veti
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Re: The number of packages for a language...

Seriously, someone is still making this argument?

Clue: if you're writing everything yourself from scratch, then clearly your time isn't worth much.

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veti
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Re: This should be easy to detect.

That would only work on half of the examples listed in this article.

Which is better than nothing, sure, but it still leaves a lot of attack space.

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Facebook posts put Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli in prison as a danger to society

veti
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Re: It's called deflection

"His investors made quite a lot of money" - fine, but that doesn't actually indemnify you from what you did to make it.

If I take your $100,000, invest it on an inside tip, and return $200,000 to you - that was still insider trading, it was still illegal, and now I've implicated you in that. So even though you've done well out of it, you might reasonably feel aggrieved at me.

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123-Reg customers outraged at automatic .UK domain registration

veti
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If I provide some service - say product support, for example - through "myfantasticservices.co.uk", and my customers get into the habit of just typing "myfantasticservices.uk", then when the registration on the latter expires, I'm going to have a lot of pissed off customers. I might extend it just to avoid that.

That's why this is an underhanded move. It's an attempt to lock people in.

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UK Data Protection Bill lands: Oh dear, security researchers – where's your exemption?

veti
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Ye gods, that's awful.

Any law that gives enumerated exemptions to specific people, however defined, is unjust. (Because "justice" means you treat all people the same, regardless of who they are - what matters is what they do.)

For the same reason, an "exemption for security researchers" would be a bad idea. What's needed is a clearly defined rule describing exactly what you're allowed to do with the information once you've obtained it - which should be exactly the same, regardless of whether you're employed by GCHQ or Bob's Discount Computer Repairs.

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veti
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Re: "valid data..request..not change or withhold any of that data before giving it to.. data sub"

Doesn't need exemptions, because the wording is "with intent to". You can delete whatever you like, as long as you can come up with some other explanation for doing it.

And as ane fule kno, proving intent is pretty much impossible.

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Trello boards the desktop with Mac and Windows apps

veti
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I introduced Trello to our company a couple of years ago, as a substitute for email for particular (limited) functions, and it's great. Tasks no longer get randomly forgotten. Previously something like 3, 4% of requests would simply get lost - one person swore they'd sent them, but we knew we'd never received them; or, we received them and saw they were future-dated, then forgot about them.

It does need to be limited to (extremely) clearly defined tasks, though. If there's any wiggle room about how a card can be interpreted, then it's no use.

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veti
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Facepalm

That helps, does it?

How exactly is "getting lost among browser tabs" any worse than "getting lost among the docked or taskbar apps"?

Now all we need is for every other frickin' website to have the same brainwave, and we'll be right back where we started. By which I mean, before the invention of the web. Great plan.

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It's September 2017, and .NET lets PDFs hijack your Windows PC

veti
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Re: Never mind PDF

Newsflash: "whois" data is not always 100% infallibly accurate. People can and do write all kinds of bullshit in domain registrations, daily. If you want to "fight Russian hackers", you're going to need - and probably going to get, fairly shortly now - a crash course in validating your data.

And why exactly is this relevant to - well, anything - anyway?

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Virginia scraps poke-to-vote machines hackers destroyed at DefCon

veti
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Re: Replacements

I know no more than you, but from the fact that only a small minority of the state is affected - the rest having already upgraded their systems - I take it that there exist machines that are not affected by these vulnerabilities, and the affected districts will upgrade to those. Thus ensuring that the machine manufacturers continue to get paid by the Virginian taxpayer.

(Incidentally, do you know where Diebold's main manufacturing operation is based? Ohio. That's a, arguably the key, swing state. I don't think that's entirely coincidence.)

To the ATM point: what I do know is that the requirements for an ATM are very different from those of a voting machine - and so, I presume, is the testing regime.

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You are the one per cent if you read Firefox's privacy spiels

veti
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Re: The usual Gov?

Ironic simile, because the pub landlord is only able to ask that because he knows all about your habits.

Seriously, if you want that sort of service, you should be all for people collecting data on you.

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Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report

veti
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Re: Really, that Much?

What's to stop them having a 'computer glitch' causing you to be cut off?

Who is "them"? What sort of "glitch" do you imagine could have that effect?

Because a "glitch" that could do that, could just as easily send airliners crashing into your hometown or cause every traffic light in the city to turn green at once. Some things are just - not within the scope of what "a glitch" could plausibly do.

No in a modern world energy should not be price rationed. Modern people should be able to afford the nessesaties of modern life.

Look, "the necessities of modern life" aren't free. Somebody has to generate, transmit, distribute and balance all that power, and that takes resources, and resources cost money. The purpose of electricity billing is to make sure that everyone pays as fair a share as possible of that cost.

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veti
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@Mark 65 Re: Really, that Much?

I read that article. I also, and this I suspect may make me the only person in this thread to have done this, read the paper it was reporting. The words "monumentally overblown" come to mind.

First off: the error only affects three-phase meters. That's already a pretty small minority, and even smaller of residential meters. Of single-phase meters - the type my home, like nearly everyone else's, has, it says:

Several single-phase static energy meters were measured in various setups. [...] The results can be summarized in one sentence: no deviation beyond the specification could be observed; no influence of interference due to interfering or distorted voltage, and no influence caused by interfering currents were observed.

In other words: "the ordinary, domestic meters took everything we could throw at them and shrugged it off without even flinching".

Second: to get the huge errors the "coverage" screams about, you need not only a three-phase Rogowski coil (or Hall-effect, but those meters generally under-recorded so why would you complain anyway?) meter, but also a very, very strange configuration of load. Specifically, you need your entire load to be connected in series to a dimmer switch, with the dimmer switch permanently set to 135 degrees. I can't quite begin to imagine why anyone would have load configured like that, or why they would expect ti to be cheap if they did.

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veti
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Re: Really, that Much?

Smart meters can save customers a fortune. But, and this is the kicker, not in the UK.

Here in New Zealand, we're at about 75% smart meter coverage already. But these aren't what you know as smart meters. These ones were rolled out sensibly.

What that means is that you don't get any "in-home display" of what power you're using, or anything similar. It's not a consumer toy. It's a tool for retailers. I work for one of said retailers, so I have some inside knowledge on this topic.

The result is - apart from cheaper meter reads - also more accurate meter reads. No more estimation, particularly when customers move in/out of their homes or switch retailers. And switching retailers has become much easier. That's because the meters don't belong to the retailers, they belong to separate metering companies that provide data to retailers.

And that has led to a veritable price war among retailers. There are at least half a dozen companies in the market now that will *only* accept customers with smart meters, because it eliminates a huge part of operational risk. And consumer prices have dropped about 20% over the past 3, 4 years.

The British rollout is just unbelievably silly. It's clearly cooked up by the (big, incumbent) retailers themselves, with an eye to keeping upstarts out of the market, and also helping themselves to huge wads of taxpayer money. But it doesn't have to be that way. Take a lesson from the Colonies.

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Well, whad'ya know? 'No evidence' that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower

veti
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Re: Gee, what a surprise!

It's worth remembering how many people Trump promised to sue, during his campaign.

This article documents 20 threats, against more than 30 different targets. Only two of them were followed through.

If you think about it, a threat is just another kind of promise. So 10% fulfilment is pretty good from Trump.

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Thousands of hornets swarm over innocent fire service drone

veti
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Send for Wee Mad Arthur

'Tis unsporting not to hit them on the wing.

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Big Tech slams Trump on plan to deport kids

veti
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Re: What will the next president do?

Not quite. The executive branch is supposed to apply the laws that the legislative branch passes. It's a subtle difference, between the executive as a purely passive agent of the legislature, and the executive as an active, independent agent of - something else. (E.g. "The people".)

The laws have passed the point of being too voluminous to read and too incoherent to understand - they passed that long before most of us were born. They are also too expensive to be enforced. So the executive branch has to make its own judgments about how to prioritise different laws.

This is by design, the legislative branch passed the laws they did only because they knew this flexibility would be left open. But before you blame them, remember that they were only doing what their constituents pressured them to do; and if they'd attempted to write better laws, they'd probably have been voted out in favour of someone who didn't insist on asking the embarrassing or uncomfortable questions.

I don't know much about Madison, but I'm always suspicious of people who use the word "liberty". "Liberty" is a word people use to send others to the guillotine. If you actually want them to be free, you talk about "freedom".

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veti
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Personally I'm all for sending the DREAMers back, because it's the logical extension of Trump's "policies" and it will help more people to see how indescribably vile the man really is. It'd also be a big boost for the Mexican economy, and a big hit to America's, thus doing some long-overdue levelling between the two

But "800,000 children born in the US to illegal parents" are surely protected by the 14th amendment. They're citizens, end of story.

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China: Cute Hyperloop Elon, now watch how it's really done

veti
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Pressure suits?

Seriously, El Reg? You know better than that.

1000 km/h is only 278 m/s. If you accelerate at a perfectly comfortable (assuming you're facing forwards) 0.5g, you'll be going that fast in little over a minute. Even at a barely noticeable 0.1g, it'd be about five minutes. Fighter piloting this ain't.

No, the casualties will happen when there's a breach in the tube - whether caused by terrorism, faulty construction or just dodgy maintenance.

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UK council fined £70k for leaving vulnerable people's data open to world+dog

veti
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Re: Fining public bodies.

The taxpayers of Nottinghamshire will be, collectively, £70,000 out of pocket. That's money that can't go to park maintenance or bin collections or any of the other useful functions.

Now the councillors will have to explain this to their voters. An honest explanation would probably go something like "Sure, this cost you £70,000 - but consider, if we had to take precautions against this kind of thing all the time, that would cost you £20,000 every year. So, since 2010, we've actually saved you £70,000."

I doubt anyone is going to be that honest, but that's how the money ties together. It was the taxpayers of Nottinghamshire who benefited from the council's lack of precautions, so why shouldn't they pay the fine? If they don't like it, it's up to them to elect some better councillors.

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P≠NP proof fails, Bonn boffin admits

veti
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Re: Let them eat Clay!

I don't think "proving that P != NP" would let anyone "rake it in". Everyone already assumes that's the case, so proving it is just a formality - a big intellectual challenge, but in practical terms it would make sod all difference to anything.

Now, if you could prove the opposite, that would be something else entirely.

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Japanese sat tech sinks Sea Shepherd anti-whaling activists' hopes

veti
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Re: a matter of pride?

The thing is, the Japanese quota is only "sustainable" because they're the only country doing it at a significant scale. If a couple of dozen other countries took up whaling on a proportionally similar scale, most whale species would be all but extinct before you know it.

So they're kinda freeloading off everyone else's restraint. They're like the anti-vaxxer parent who relies on the herd immunity of everyone else's kids. Or the tax dodger, or the guy who parks in the disabled space, or the one who picks flowers from the beds in the public park, or... you get the picture. It's just - antisocial, on an international scale.

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India responds to internet shutdown criticism... by codifying rules to make it legal

veti
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Re: This is a Good Thing

No, it'd be far worse from a regulatory point of view - because as the evidence clearly shows, it wouldn't be enforced. The net would still be shut down, except that it would be made to look like an "accidental" outage, like Japan's last weekend.

These rules at least have the potential to be enforced. And if they're not, voters have all the information they need to ask "why not?". There's a single named official in each district who's responsible for shutdowns. That's called accountability, and it's not quite the same as transparency but it is a necessary prerequisite for it.

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veti
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This is a Good Thing

What's worse than a system where high-ranking bureaucratic or political appointees can sign an order to shut off the internet, for a defined limited time, subject to prompt review?

Well, a system where unknown bureaucrats can shut it off for as long as they deem necessary, without even signing their names to anything, without a formal review process, and without anyone even knowing who made the decision. A.k.a. "the status quo".

This is a big step forward. Why are we complaining?

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Chrome wants to remember which Websites to silence

veti
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Hallelujah

I'm not sure it's enough to make me defect to Chrome, but it's a huge step in that direction.

Mozilla, are you listening?

What's still lacking is:

- the option to kill autoplay entirely (video as well as sound)

- the option to make it apply to every site, whether you've visited it or not.

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Google routing blunder sent Japan's Internet dark on Friday

veti
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What has happened to the internet?

It grew.

The original design was never envisaged to handle anything within about five orders of magnitude of today's traffic. Not surprising it creaks a bit from time to time.

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Biometrics watchdog breaks cover, slams UK cops over facial recog

veti
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Big Brother

Re: Confidence in the police? I think it's already gone.

Don't worry, what they haven't figured out yet is that those "20 miillion" mugshots are of only about 3 million different people. That's how good their recognition system is.

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veti
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Re: Business As Usual

Hey, don't blame ACPO. They're just a talking shop. Their only role in this story is to run interference for the wankers at the Home Office.

(Not that they're "blameless", but they're certainly not the ones in charge.)

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US prosecutors drop demand for 1.3m IP addresses of folks who visited anti-Trump site

veti
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Re: Why the Trump (words I will not say)

1. There may be "genetic evidence", but you give no references and I seriously doubt you're privy to it - if anyone is.

2. Trump isn't (particularly) racist. He despises everyone equally. Racism is merely a wedge issue that's useful because it gets angry crowds out onto the streets, and that image fuels fear and builds support for a "strong" (= unaccountable) leader.

3. See (2). You're confusing means with ends. He doesn't want to cause harm - that's incidental. He really couldn't give a monkey's how many people suffer - any number between zero and seven billion, it's all the same to him. "The benefit of controlling a modern state is not the power to persecute the innocent, it's the power to protect the guilty."

4. Is there anyone, even among his supporters, who doesn't know that?

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veti
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Re: Isn't this all a huge smokescreen?

Quite possibly the NSA could provide that information - but catch them sharing it with the DoJ, particularly on a pretext like this...

You seem to be forgetting that the intelligence community as a whole despises Trump. They would call the DoJ out on its bullshit request in a heartbeat, if it were addressed to them.

And what's worse, it wouldn't be made public. Which means we'd all miss out on the not-so-subtly-coded warning in this story: "careful what sites you visit".

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veti
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Re: Ok...

Sadly, the "weasel move" was to demand the data, then back off only when the demand was made private. They haven't been called out on that at all.

Sure, they're not getting the data - but they never really wanted it. After all, what could they actually do with it?

But by demanding it and, crucially, waiting for Dreamhost to go public before they moderated the demand - they've already had the "chilling effect" they wanted. Now, every American will be that tiny bit more - thoughtful about what links they click on and what websites they visit. And criticism of the Dear Leader just got that little bit harder.

Mission accomplished.

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WikiLeaks a 'hostile intelligence service', SS7 spying, Russian money laundering – all now on US Congress todo list

veti
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Glad someone noticed

Good on Wyden for at least noticing how bad the language was. And now the whole of the rest of the committee can't claim they didn't realise they were shitting on the constitution.

This "quietly inventing new categories to get around laws" has got to stop. "Non-state hostile intelligence service" my arse.

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Private sub captain changes story, now says reporter died, was 'buried at sea' – torso found

veti
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Once the words "torso found" have featured in the story, exactly how much worse can it get?

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veti
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Re: Generous police

As Chanel 9 would put it: Sminky pinky accidento bizarro.

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

veti
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Re: What an utter joke

To put it in context, there are about 33 million landline phones in the UK. (According to OFCOM.)

But the TPS can also contain mobile numbers. There are a whopping 92 million of those. (Go figure.)

So those '23 million' - assuming they're all current, and remember that since the TPS is trying to sell itself to companies they have an incentive to, e.g., keep numbers that they know are long since disused - represents about 20% of the total market. Which is more than I would have guessed, but a lot less than "every home phone line".

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veti
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Re: Different planet

No, if they had a licence and used it they would only have been able to call 1.4 million people. That seems like a reasonable choice to me.

I also think the fine is not as paltry as some seem to think. Do the maths. They're selling "home energy solutions", which translated into real words seems to mean "insulation, mostly, plus a smattering of other stuff to make it sound sexier". What do you think their sales conversion rate is? I'd be quite surprised if they got much more than 5000 actual sales, out of those 1.5 million cold calls.

But what they would get is 50,000 "prospects" (aka "timewasters"), and maybe 20,000 "obligation-free quotes". Creating and following up all those is a fair bit of work. So thinking about the cost-per-sale - we're already talking several hundred pounds before a single actual tile has actually been ordered, much less delivered or fitted. And the market is reasonably competitive, so the margins on the "delivery and fitting" process can't be all that fat to begin with.

Altogether, 50 grand probably represents quite a big bite to them.

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US cops point at cell towers and say: Give us every phone number that's touched that mast

veti
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Who doesn't love saying "I told you so"?

Anyone remember the heady days of, ooh, 2005 or so, when Americans used to sneer at Brits for being so heavily surveilled by cameras?

"Just you wait", I told them. "We're pioneers. Your authorities will learn from ours, and when they build their own systems, they'll make ours look petty and amateurish by comparison."

Welcome to the future.

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I say, BING DONG! Microsoft's search engine literally cocks up on front page for hours

veti
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Re: @FSM - "A Microsoft spokesperson told us the Windows giant has nothing to say."

Saying "We have nothing to say" is quite a different statement from merely... saying nothing.

Saying nothing means you haven't noticed, or don't care enough about the person asking to acknowledge them. Saying "nothing" means the opposite.

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FYI: Web ad fraud looks really bad. Like, really, really bad. Bigly bad

veti
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Re: Advertising is often overhyped...

Believe it or not, the people who spend billions of dollars a year advertising things that we already all know about - have, actually, thought about this. They have access to a damn' sight better data than your gut instincts, or mine, or even their own. They even have all the tools at their disposal to conduct their own trials, if they feel so inclined.

And it turns out that advertising does work, one unsourced anecdote notwithstanding.

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London council 'failed to test' parking ticket app, exposed personal info

veti
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Re: Tax roundabout

The taxpayers of Islington are the ones who saved money by not testing the system in the first place. It's completely appropriate that they should be the ones to foot the bill now.

And those same taxpayers of Islington are, of course, completely within their rights to fire the councillors associated with the project, who are the only people you can reasonably argue are 'responsible'. They'll get a chance to do that next May.

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Defra recruiting 1,400 policy wonks to pick up the pieces after Brexit

veti
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Re: Lies, damned lies and ...

Well, of course. If you were hired for a fixed-term contract with an employer with an AAA credit rating, wouldn't you try to carve out a permanent niche for yourself?

Some of them may not. The best and the worst, probably not. But the solidly-average employees - once they're in, they're in to stay.

Everyone who's ever devoted more than ten minutes' thought to the question always knew that Brexit would be horrendously inefficient. If only the Remain campaign had thought to mention that fact... but come to think of it, it probably wouldn't have made that much difference. The Brexit referendum was essentially a rerun of the Scottish independence referendum a year earlier - the issues were much the same and so were most of the arguments, except that the Scots actually did mention this issue, and it was still a damned close-run thing.

As I wrote at the time: "There's only so long you can go on treating voters as idiots. Even if they demonstrably are idiots."

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veti
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Re: From what I have read and seen

I'm pretty sure that's May's endgame. How else can you explain that election?

Sadly, instead of playing along, the opposition is actually trying to stop her.

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Chap behind Godwin's law suspends his own rule for Charlottesville fascists: 'By all means, compare them to Nazis'

veti
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Re: Devil's Advocate @Updraft102

You are, of course, free to try to define "fascism" as left-wing. However, most left-wingers would disown it just as vehemently as you do, and with just as solid arguments. They would say, correctly as far as it goes, that a philosophy of national solidarity inherently conflicts with one of class solidarity. They would point out that (self-described) fascist parties in Europe historically defined themselves in sharp opposition to communist, or even moderate socialist, parties, and allied with conservative parties. And so on.

The sad fact is that the terms "right" and "left" are a linguistic artifact dating back to the National Assembly of the French Revolution. And to be frank, the factors that differentiated their delegates are not terribly relevant to our time. In politics generally, "left" and "right" don't really have any clearly defined meaning at all any more.

So your insistence that "right" is by definition synonymous with "individualism" is, quite simply, a quixotic opposition to current usage, based on nothing that will withstand examination.

I'd also like to point out that certain people in American politics who describe themselves as "the right" will also routinely use "snowflake" - long a symbol of "individuality" - as a term of abuse. So if you are right about what "right-wing" means, then pretty much everyone else is wrong about it (and Donald Trump is the most left-wing president in recent memory).

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veti
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"Communism" is based on a theory of historical inevitability about the balance of economic power between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Its aim is to prevent (further) bloody revolution by eliminating the historical conflict of interest between those two classes.

It doesn't work, except as a vehicle for ruthless people to seize and hold on to power (and wealth) for a time.

"Nazism" is a particular strand of "fascism", based on a myth of national (rather than class) unity and racial purity (with the corollary that anyone of the wrong race is not really part of the "nation"). It draws on an imagined glorious past from a time before the nation it was betrayed or declined into modern decadence.

It doesn't work, except as a vehicle for ruthless people to seize and hold on to power (and wealth) for a time.

"Capitalism" is a much more limited system, based on the theory that "capital" is the most important factor of production and if its usage is optimised, national output will be maximised. I call it "more limited" because it is not, inherently, tied to any particular political theory.

Unlike the other two, it does work, precisely because its goals are much more limited. It doesn't pretend to be about rebuilding past glories or eliminating future conflicts. You want to maximise national output? - capitalism is the way to go. Of course, if you believe public policy should be about more than merely maximising output, then capitalism probably isn't the answer for you - or at least, not the full answer. But that's an "ought" discussion, and as such beyond my present scope.

Hope this helps.

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veti
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Re: Godwin not applicable here

Well, yes. The nazis themselves think Trump has sympathies, secret or otherwise, for them.

Are they right? Hell no, Trump doesn't even know what "sympathy" is. But he certainly finds them useful, both to mobilize his own base and to illustrate how the media is out to get him.

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