* Posts by veti

2633 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

Sterling's post-Brexit dollar woes are forcing up tech kit prices

veti Silver badge

Re: and yet still

@Mephistro: nice strategic use of cutoff points there. If you look at the 1-week chart (the link you posted) sure enough, it shows that the euro is very slightly higher against the dollar than it was immediately after the referendum.

If you look at that same timescale, you'd say that the pound has dropped less than 1%:


But if you look at the one-month charts for both, I don't think you'll have any difficulty picking out the referendum results being announced:



Of course, if you take a slightly longer view, you'll see this is far from the worst thing that's happened to sterling, even in the last ten years:


The pound dropped by 25% in 1992, when it exited the ERM. It dropped by more than 30% during the 1970s. It's dropped just 10% since the referendum; even if it's got another 10% to go before it levels out, this is still not a really world-class shock.

Apple, Amazon and Google are screwing us, warns Elizabeth Warren

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Big companies are abusing their position

In other news, water is still wet.

NRA guns down 38,000 Surge.sh sites in anti-parody spray-and-pray

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Re: Misleading

"Name-calling and journalism don't really mix" - maybe not on your planet, but here on Earth they've been inseparable for at least 200 years.

"Why should they [respond]?" Because lots of news outlets, not just El Reg, is running a story about them. Normal PR practice would be to issue a statement.

Sure, very likely the "parody" was a trademark violation. But trademarks aren't covered by the DMCA, and they're not normally subject to any regime of "takedown notice". The proper place to pursue that case is in the courts, not pulling the plug on an entire domain.

Facebook crushes Belgian attempt to ban tracking of non-users

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Re: re: jurisdiction

There's a difference between the data that a website displays (on your computer, in your country), what it stores (as cookies, also on your computer and in your country), and what it processes and stores itself (on its servers, in some completely different country).

I can imagine the jurisdictional arguments getting quite involved.

No means no: Windows 10 nagware's red X will stop update – Microsoft

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It's different, because dismissing the dialogue box does not mean "OK" (something that, according to Microsoft's own UI design rules for Windows, should NEVER EVER have been allowed to happen in the first place). Also because there is - if you actually read the message in full - a transparent way to cancel the whole thing, which there wasn't in the previous generation.

Too little, too late. ("Having to read the message in full" is still a pretty outrageous requirement.) But it is something.

Brexit and data protection: A period of shock and reflection

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Re: 5 eyes will not be happy

You don't imagine 5 eyes will have less access to European data now, do you? If anything they'll be better off, with GCHQ relieved of the need to think about fig leaves.

And you know New Zealand is another of the 5, right?

Be warned, there's no clotted cream down here.

Don't go chasing waterfalls, please stick... Hang on. They're back

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Yep, and waterfall would be great if only we could have a tightly nailed down and comprehensive spec.

Sadly, not one developer in a hundred - no, make that one in ten thousand - has ever seen one of those, or would recognise it if they did. So the other 9,999 will end up delivering shit.

US House to vote on whether poor people need mobile phones

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@Dave Hilling

"Most people would be completely happy with a middle ground."

Newsflash: the middle ground is where you are now. Pretty much by definition.

Are you completely happy? No, because you think it should be somewhere else. Like most of your contemporaries. The only think you can't agree on is where, specifically, it should be. And so you end up with a compromise solution that makes nobody "completely happy".

This is how politics works. And how it's supposed to work, this is by design. I don't think Trump supporters (note, I'm not saying you're a Trump supporter, I neither know nor care whether you are or not) understand this: they think politics is a consumer business, where you decide what you want then find the company to provide it.

It's not.

Before you give up on conventional politics, reflect: the only known alternative to "compromise" is called "war".

Oz 'gifted education' program pitching WiFi, vax scare stories

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How much did they pay?

Oddly enough, reputable groups aren't exactly queuing up to provide educational materials to Victorian schools. Something to do with the budget being pitiful, and being crowded out by people willing to provide stuff for free provided it's not vetted too closely...

And so you get crap.

Inevitable consequence of public tendering with "price" as the deciding factor.

Ransomware scum build weapon from JavaScript

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Re: One tiny step, MS... one tiny step and you blow it.

Yep, this was the big one, the time they failed security forever. And why? What possible gain is there in hiding extensions?

The only - only - half-way plausible answer I can think of is, to make the computer's action less transparent to users. So instead of ".doc files open in Word", now the user is trained to know "files with a Word icon open in Word". How the computer knows to show a Word icon - is deliberately obfuscated.

Either because MS didn't want to burden the poor user's brain with technical details - or because they wanted Windows to look "smarter" than it really is. I know which one I'd bet on as the larger reason.

London Mayor election day bug forced staff to query vote DB by hand

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Re: If it sounds dodgy, it is dodgy

While I agree that open source is important, that's not going to make it anything like "equivalently transparent". How many people are qualified to read and fully understand the source code?

And the compiler?

And the OS it runs on?

And the hardware the OS is installed on?

If you don't understand all of that, how can you be confident you really know what it's doing?

The only really, meaningfully "transparent" system is the one where people sort bits of paper into piles, and count them. In front of as many witnesses as can be bothered to turn up. Anything else is a huge loss in transparency.

Non-US encryption is 'theoretical,' claims CIA chief in backdoor debate

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This is a trial balloon. Nobody thinks "mandatory backdoors" is going to pass. Brennan and Wyden are both going through the motions because it's their job, but there's no point getting excited about it.

We're being distracted from something, the question is: what? TTIP? Safe harbor?

Lone hacker claims to have broken into US Democrat servers

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"... much of the data within the files is several years old"

Sounds pretty authentic to me. Lots of organisations will hoard countless old versions of files on their main server, while (depending on their own competence) using only up-to-date versions for actual operations.

If there are old files - well, it's far from conclusive, but it is consistent with the "hacked DNC server" story.

'I am not a lizard' Zuckerberg proclaims in public Q&A

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Note to Jerry Seinfeld

Butlers don't open doors, unless the house is lamentably under-staffed. Porters or footmen do that. A butler's job is to manage all the other household staff.


Cats understand the laws of physics, researchers claim

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By "rudimentary understanding of gravity"...

... I gather they mean, "things fall down".

A more reasonable way of putting it would be that cats understand the concept of "containers". But I don't think that's news to anyone who's ever shared a home with a cat.

Bin Apple's $500m patent judgment, US DoJ tells Supreme Court

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I think you're reading the wrong subtext, and therefore delivering the wrong rant.

El Reg is generally very pro-IP, and I don't see anything in this article to suggest a variation from that stance. So it's probably not meant to imply "old laws are bad" at all, it's more like "tried and tested".

Surveillance forestalls more 'draconian' police powers – William Hague

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Re: Mr. Hague - this is why we need a constitution

No, before the internet surveillance included "going through your neighbour's rubbish to check they hadn't been wasting food".

This whole "privacy" thing is basically a myth, it's something that didn't really exist at all until the mid-19th century. Before that, you probably shared your home with two or three other families, or - if you were rich - with servants; either way, there was no notion of "privacy" beyond "closing the door (if your home was one of the minority that actually had internal doors, of course)".

We seem to think of "privacy" as some ancient right, like "freedom of speech". It isn't and never has been.

veti Silver badge

Re: Fear indeed

Oh please. It's easier to hide information today than it's ever been before.

Previously, if you wanted to cover up your corruption, you had to pay off a bunch of people, pay a bunch of thugs to visit others, and hope like heck that it didn't leak out through some channel you overlooked.

Now, you don't have to bother with any of that. You just call Kanye West (other celebrities available) and ask him to say something stupid, and nobody - for statistical values of 'nobody', at least - will ever notice what you did that day. Problem solved, and it doesn't matter how many people are in on your little 'secret'.

veti Silver badge

Re: Book ciphers/one off messages

Yes, of course you can do that sort of thing.

But no-one does. Well, I tell a lie. There's a very good chance that people like terrorists, who actually care about secrecy, do something like that. But they're not a significant voting bloc, so who cares about them? No-one who matters, does that.

Because encoding a message like that is a lot of work. For anything much more involved than "Hello, world!", it takes hours of tedious labour. Ain't no-one got time for that nowadays, they want a computer to do it for them.

And if a computer can encode it, another computer can break it.

EU referendum frenzy bazookas online voter registration. It's another #GovtDigiShambles

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Re: This is due to unprecedented demand.

Oh yes there has, there was a Brexit referendum in 1975.

Just sayin'.

veti Silver badge

Re: I'm in two minds about this...

Clearly, Cameron assumes that unregistered voters who've left it til the last moment are mostly gullible young people who are more likely to vote 'Remain'.

I wonder if he's right.

Is Windows 10 ignoring sysadmins' network QoS settings?

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It's not quite clear whether people are talking about updates to an existing copy of Windows 10, or the rammed-down-the-throat upgrades being applied to existing Windows 7 and 8.1 systems. From the involvement of Akamai, I can't imagine these are regular updates. Surely not even Microsoft would be insane enough to outsource those.

If Microsoft has engaged Akamai somehow to push their thrice-cursed upgrades, then that might also go some way to explain the tactics that have been deployed. (Particularly if Akamai is paid by the download.)

Welcome to the jumbo: Axl Rose tries to take a bite out of 'Fat Axl' internet meme

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Yeah... that's not what 'slander' means.

Or 'libel', for that matter.

The Fog of Cyberwar: Now theft and sabotage instead of just spying

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"The infamous Student worm"?

Wow, those students huh?

Hint: spellcheckers can be misleading.

Will you get reimbursed if you're a bank fraud victim? Brits think not

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Re: And what can you do...

The 'blacklisted characters' may be rejected by the web server, before they ever get passed to the database. That would be a practical precaution against SQL injection attacks, and applied probably to all fields in all forms.

Not the best way to do it, by a long shot, but practical.

'Windows 10 nagware: You can't click X. Make a date OR ELSE'

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Re: It's GWX Control Panel or Linux

@Stoneshop: you may mock, but I made those registry edits 9 months ago, and GWX hasn't bugged me since. Not once, through all the horror stories we've heard in that time.

US computer-science classes churn out cut-n-paste slackers – and yes, that's a bad thing

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The article seems to segue "naturally" from talking about schools one moment, to universities the next. Now somehow it's the schools' fault, if university graduates aren't up to snuff?

Look, if the prospective student is not up to the material, either come up with a remedial course for them, or don't admit them to the course in the first place. You don't get off the hook by saying "oh, the teaching they had before they came and paid us a humungous sum to learn better was substandard, so obviously they still don't know anything now".

As US court bans smart meter blueprints from public, sysadmin tells of fight for security info

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Re: I thought I recognized "Sensus"... We have met the enemy and he is (Sens)us

The real resonance for smart meters is that they can disconnect you remotely if you don't pay on time

Disclaimer: I work for a power company.

The process to disconnect a customer with a smart meter is exactly the same as the process without one. Granted, the actual disconnection step is a lot easier (and cheaper). But the legally mandated restrictions around taking that step are exactly the same.

If you have an old-fashioned meter, and we have to send someone to your house to disconnect you, guess who we're going to charge for that? That's $75 added to your bill right there. And, believe it or not, another $75 to be reconnected again.

If you have a smart meter? Not only can you be reconnected within half an hour, but the whole operation will only cost you $20 (each way, so that's $40 in total instead of $150).

Of course, if we've done it wrongfully (without sending you the legally mandated warnings within the required timeframe), you can sue us. But that's true either way.

In terms of disconnections, smart meters are a huge gain for the customer.

In-flight movies via BYOD? Just what I always wan... argh no we’re all going to die!

veti Silver badge

Why paper beats electronics

"I must deduce that designing, printing and distributing a leaflet to every customer around the country takes less time, effort and expense than rewriting two lines of text on a website."

Very possibly. You've got to reckon on the website being maintained by a 'Content Management System' that only two people know how to update, one of those is off interviewing for a better job and the other is too busy posting smartarsed remarks on El Reg to answer emails or any other kind of contact.

Whereas the leaflet lists prices that were actually agreed and checked properly, rather than just what some tit in marketing thought looked "sharp" last month. So they may not be the latest or cheapest, but at least they will have been correct at some time.

It's often the way. Technology gives us something wonderful, then we use it to shoot ourselves in the foot. In the case of CMS, the sheer ease of updating means that it has to be locked down securely to stop "unauthorised" people from doing it. Net result: it's, if anything, less flexible than it was, because either the process for "authorised updates" is half-secret and half-unworkable bureaucracy, or there is no process so nobody even knows how to do it.

More than half of people on UK counter-terror biometrics databases are innocent

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Only yesterday, I was reading of a "crackdown on legal highs".

Look, you can't "crack down" on something that's "legal". That's what "legal" means, if it means anything any more.

Pas de problème ... Quebec just passed a website blocking law

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Re: Ban them all

Given a choice between an ISP that blocks websites they're legally obliged to - as passed by an, I presume, elected legislature - and an ISP that blocks, not only those websites, but a bunch of others as well, which would you choose?

Which do you think Quebecois punters will choose?

So which of those ISPs would you rather be invested in?

Google Chrome deletes Backspace

veti Silver badge

Long overdue

Mapping backspace to "Back a page" was always a dumb idea, and I'm delighted they've seen the light at last.

I'm surprised that Google, of all people, were the ones to make this usability blunder in the first place. I thought they were all for people editing stuff online, which is precisely the activity most likely to be affected.

World goes SIM-free, leaving Sony and HTC trailing behind

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Re: "SIM free" ?

@Ivan 4: That does seem strange. If you're only using it for phone calls, have you considered getting rid of the "smartphone" and replacing it with a good old-fashioned dumb phone?

veti Silver badge

Re: Xiaomi are banking on issuing frequent, monthly or fortnightly updates"

I have a Nokia (Windows) smartphone. It's more than two years old now.

Last time I noticed it "updating" was over a year ago. It's definitely updated a great many times since, but I haven't noticed it. That's my idea of "working".

Last time it crashed, or otherwise failed to perform within reasonable parameters, was last September. I think it may have happened once, before then, but I don't remember with certainty.

What's your phone's record?

You wanted innovation? We gave you Clippy the Paperclip in your IM client

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Re: A.I. or M.I? There's a big difference

"Artificial" is just an adjective, meaning "something that's made". An artificial table is definitely a table, an artificial computer is a computer, etc. It's just that we don't normally feel we have to make a distinction for those things.

As with any other adjective, it qualifies the noun, it doesn't automatically negate it. "Dead grass" is still "grass", "splintered wood" is still "wood". Is an artificial hand a hand? Well, if your definition of the word "hand" includes "natural", then no. But I don't think mine does, so yes, it is.

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Or between irony and serious argument.


5% of drivers want Nigel Farage to be their in-car robo butler

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Re: Soothing

Trump wouldn't say 'turn right'. He'd say "Go! Go! You'll be amazed, you won't believe how good it is when you're going. You'll go so great you'll be bored with going."

And if you ask him which way, he'll say "I told you already, go now!"

It'd be like taking directions from my 4-year-old, just with a slightly wider vocabulary.

Spied upon by GCHQ? You'll need proof before a court will hear you...

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Re: Ummm.....

Give the honorable poster a cigar! This is exactly how it works.

And if you think that's unintended, I have an internet to sell you. Welcome to the world of political activism.

This is the trouble with groups like Privacy International. Not their fault, by any means, but an inevitable consequence of the way they operate. They'll make a lot of fuss, then the Powers That Be will make something that looks at first glance like a "concession" but on closer examination turns out to be nothing of the sort. It's SOP.

What the concession does is to confuse the issue, placate most of the campaigners, and basically quiet things down again. In order to understand why it doesn't mean squat, you'd need to be paying attention, and the people who play this game professionally - civil servants, mostly - know that only a vanishingly tiny fraction of the populace is doing that.

Here in NZ, we had a brouhaha a few years ago about proposed "three strikes" copyright legislation, which was promptly withdrawn. But those of us who were paying attention knew all along (1) that there was no "three strikes" proposal in the first place (the whole thing was a put-up job by a newly elected government trying to score points over its predecessor), and (2) the really important copyright provisions were, at that same moment, being negotiated in ACTA. We "won" a victory against a phantom, people celebrated and moved on - and were promptly mugged by the much bigger juggernaut that the butterfly-like public attention span didn't even want to know about.

Big Pharma wrote EU anti-vaping diktat, claims Tory ex-MEP

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Re: Hurrah!

>A machete is not a gun.

Very true.

Casualties in Dunblane attack: 18 dead, 15 wounded.

Casualties in Wolverhampton attack: no dead, 7 wounded.

If you're trying to make a case against gun control, this is a very silly comparison to draw.

Spying on you using fake social media profiles: One Scots council could

veti Silver badge

Re: The Scottish are turning out to be quite the surprise

Oh, the Scots are way more into totalitarianism than the rest of the UK.

But you know what? All this handwringing about privacy from the rest of the UK is pretty hollow, too. In Britain's finest hour, when it stood alone against the forces of totalitarianism and fascism...

... that was when people were positively encouraged to go through their neighbours' rubbish, and rat on them if they were throwing out too much food.

And that's not an isolated example. Extreme, maybe, but not isolated. "Privacy" in Britain is a very recent invention, it simply doesn't mean what most of the younger generation think it does.

What I do in the privacy of my own home is none of the government's business. Not because they don't or can't know what it is - long before I ever saw a computer, I was resigned to the fact that they absolutely can know that if they want to - but because it's nothing that requires them to intervene. That's the hill we should be fighting on - not criminalising behaviours that don't harm anyone in the first place - not "no spying".

FBI director claims that videoing police is causing crime uptick

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Re: Nothing to hide : Nothing to fear

Please don't use this argument.

"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" is a bullshit argument that should be opposed, not adopted. If we force cops to wear cameras at all times, we're actually increasing the gulf between Us and Them, not closing it.

As Sam Vimes so pungently put it: "A policeman is a civilian, you inbred streak of piss!" Our rights are also their rights.

It should be a crime to install spyware on phones, thunders Plaid Cymru MP

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I would have thought the strange provisions about photography were the bigger story here.

Why is El Reg leading with "spyware"? Is that proposal (already covered, incidentally, by a law that's been on the statute books these 26 years) really more newsworthy than a law that forbids taking two or more pictures of someone without their express consent?

Hackers' paradise: Outdated Internet Explorer, Flash installs in enterprises

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Re: "ruuning an out-dated version"

I bought a new PC a little over a year ago now. I use it for all my home computing purposes, including watching movies, playing games, and interacting with all manner of websites.

It doesn't have either Flash or Java installed, and I don't miss either one.

The only site that ever makes me even momentarily regret them is the BBC, and it's honestly no hardship to do without the videos that they'd be wanting to show me. (Now, if iPlayer were available that might be a bigger temptation. But fortunately the question doesn't arise, because as a filthy expat I'm not entitled to subscribe to anything anyway.)

Congress calls for change to NSA spying law

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Once again with the "spying on citizens" meme...

Look: citizenship is not the point. It's right there in the constitution: "... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

If a person is within your jurisdiction, they're protected by the same laws, whether they're a citizen of Kansas or Karachi. Conversely, if they're not within your jurisdiction, then they're not protected by your laws, because that's basically what "jurisdiction" means.

No act of Congress can make it legal to spy on foreigners, without also making it legal to spy on Americans in the same circumstances. That law would be, quite simply, unconstitutional.

At the BBC, Agile means 'making it up as we go along'

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Re: Shocking

"I'll add that to the backlog, schedule it for the change board, and execute in the next iteration."

Careful. That comes perilously close to actually promising something.

London NHS trust fined £180,000 after second bcc fail on HIV email list

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It probably is libellous. Probably.

But given that it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to bring an action for libel, and you can't get legal aid for that expense, they're probably safe.

(Incidentally, "allegedly" is just a running joke. It doesn't, in fact, make you magically immune from libel suits. It's the cost/benefit analysis that does that.)

Cyber-moolah boss gets 20 years' porridge for money laundering

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Re: expressly?

It's all a matter of definitions, innit?

If you define "money laundering" as "any transaction carried out deliberately in such a way as to be invisible to state authorities", and "criminal" as "any person who engages in money laundering", then - yes, the proposition pretty much proves itself.

ICANN knifes Africa's internet: New top-level domains terminated

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Re: They CANNT (which people)

Google don't want people to have easily memorable domain names. Google's idea of a perfect internet is one where nobody ever enters a domain name, they just enter the name of whatever company they're looking for into Google.

Quite possibly, your suggestion might be one way to achieve that. But it seems an unnecessarily convoluted and expensive way.

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

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Re: Too Many bad Movies

I'm required to change a password every month, for a service that only allows limited length passwords (10 characters, I think, is the maximum), and has other (undocumented, naturally) limitations about what characters you can use.

When they first issue a new user with their first password, it's by default set to "day+date", e.g. "Friday06".

No prizes for guessing how I choose my new password each month. And I'm prepared to bet, 90% of users of this particular service do the same thing.

Security? Don't make me laugh.

The Lonely Pirate MEP's Holocaust copyright stunt backfires

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Pot, kettle...

For Andrew Orlowski, of all people, to accuse his opponents of having a persecution complex is truly the outside of enough.

Andrew, if you really feel that "in reality, copyright lasts about five seconds", then what exactly is your beef? Let's cut copyright terms already, since according to you they make no difference anyway.

If you want to strengthen the individual content creator's rights - not only against Google and Facebook, although I agree that those are in crying need of a hard kicking - but also against the old-school publishers, from Disney to El Reg, then that's a cause I can get right behind. But somehow, you always seem to have Googbook in your sights, you don't acknowledge the just-as-manifest evils of Sony, Pearson, News International, the BBC, Time Warner, Marvel, and all the other monstrous regimes out there.

You'll never weaken Google without weakening all of the above as well. That would be a good thing, but for some reason you shy away from arguing for it.

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