* Posts by veti

3015 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

Pope Benedict in .XXX pro-Islam cybersquat drama

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Re: Which is the more disturbing thought?

"There was a young vicar from Buckingham"

... Fill in your own limerick here.

So, what IS the worst film ever made?

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Re: Watchmen

Watchmen was undoubtedly a crime against art, for taking fine source material and turning it into an imagination-free abortion. Other comic-book adaptations in the same vein include '300' and 'Catwoman'.

But - worst ever? Nah.

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Re: I've sat through some truly awful stuff...

I shared your misfortune in sitting through that, and I agree.

It's the only movie that's ever made me feel *ashamed* to have watched it. Pretty much as if I'd paid to watch a real snuff movie.

Lawyers of Mordor retreat from The Hobbit

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You're talking about trademark rights. Trademarks are limited in scope. A company that has rights to make movies about hobbits doesn't necessarily have rights to sell meals or serve beverages themed on them.

As far as I can see, everyone involved in this story so far seems to have made the automatic assumption that just because one company controls the right to make and market movies, it also controls the right to sell drinks. That's a serious abuse of trademark - the scope is limited by design, it's not a loophole.

In this case, the pub laid themselves open by using imagery taken from the movies. That was stupid. And thanks to this "compromise", now they've effectively (by precedent) given that rapacious rhymes-with-James-Blunt the right to control "the hobbit" name as applied to pubs.

And the laughter of Mordor will be our only reward...

Thousands of Brits bombarded in caller spoofing riddle

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What kind of sense does it make to "ping" people at 3 a.m.? Are you trying to screen out those who turn their phones off or down at night, or those who sleep soundly? Seems like a pretty bizarre requirement.

No, I would attribute the whole thing to stupidity. The scumbags were probably trying to configure a system to spam people at some point in the future, and some idiot clicked the wrong button before the system was properly set up. (The time would have been mid-evening on the US west coast, or after lunch in China. Just sayin'.)

SOPA poked an angry bear and set it loose on the net

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Black Helicopters

Law changes aim at the wrong target

The article touches on this point, but doesn't follow up:

Publishers and content creators are *natural enemies*. They're doomed to fight each other over the limited pot of money that people are willing to spend on their products.

A good copyright law needs to regulate the relationship between those two parties. A copyright law that focuses on what the *consumer* can or should do - is missing the point. Yet that's exactly the kind of laws that our lawmakers - prompted by the publishing industry - have been industriously pressing, these past 25 years. Allowing themselves total freedom to screw content creators to their hearts' content. (Remember Peter Jackson's trouble with New Line Cinema, for example?)

Activist supplied illegally obtained docs to DeSmogBlog

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Re: Re: Identity theft

Who is "getting off lightly"? Heartland has sworn to see him jailed.

The Climategate leaker, by contrast, has chosen to remain anonymous. Smart move maybe, but from my point of view, one of these criminals has more honesty, integrity and courage than the other.

Don't reform copyright yet, begs publishers' body

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Article translation:

"That freeloading hippy Hargreaves wants to weaken our monopoly hold on publishing. The DCE will allow all well resourced and well connected publishers to rip off each other's work, without allowing outsiders in on the act. And isn't that what we all want?

By the way, your brown envelope is under the third door from the left."

New sat data shows Himalayan glaciers hardly melting at all

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So... we need to establish a moonbase to avert the risk that we'll all be clubbed to death by Portuguese sailors?

Newt Gingrich, is that you?

Ancient cave girl genome could crack Man's genetic puzzle

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Not medieval

The "6000 years" calculation is attributed to Archbishop James Ussher, who published it in 1658. That's some 200 years after anything that could be called "medieval" in Europe.

Why this matters is because it's post-Reformation, post-Civil War - actually, during the Commonwealth, when biblical literalism was taken extremely seriously. Ussher's position was precarious, having supported the king during the Civil War, and he was delighted to be able to produce something so meticulously calculated and documented, and so popularly appealing, to prove his Calvinist credentials.

In medieval times, if anyone had bothered to do such a calculation (which they didn't, they were concerned with more interesting questions such as the nature of angels and the colour of the soul), it would have been the subject of some rarified debate and never heard of outside a couple of monasteries. Only post-Reformation did people start publishing nonsense like this.

Alcohol DOUBLES LIFESPAN, helps resist stress

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There's a lot of rather silly digging at American beer on the spurious grounds that it's weak. Truth is, it's not particularly weak. It's just that the export versions, at least, taste like industrially produced piss. But that's an effect of their recipe and manufacturing processes, not their alcohol content.

Good beer is not distinguished by its alcohol content. A beer can be perfectly delicious at 4% or less ABV. A beer with more than 7% is probably trying too hard, in my view; anyone drinking it should seriously consider if their needs might not be better served, either by a glass of wine, or a bottle of meths.

SOPA is dead. Are you happy now?

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Near miss

"PC gaming died"? Was that before or after Bethesda spent $truckloads launching Skyrim on, among other platforms, the PC?

You're right about the control freakery of the recording industry, but you're missing the bigger picture about the law here. 30 years ago, "copyright" was a way of regulating the relationship between artists and their true natural enemies: publishers. Now, it seems the law has basically handed the reins over to publishers, to the detriment of both artists and public. We need to refocus our attention on the undisputable fact that it's *publishers* who commit the most egregious IP violations, and it's they who are driving changes to the law. They're the ones we have to rein in - not artists, and not pirates except in so far as they set themselves up as publishers in their own right.

A preview of SOPA: Web shut down before my eyes

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If only that would work... What would actually happen (c.f. the DMCA) is more like:

The US: "We've passed SOPA. Now it's your turn, UK/Europe/Etc: pass this version, which is more draconian and gives Hollywood the right to kidnap people from your country and hold them indefinitely."

Some Plucky Country: "You have to be kidding, why would we do that?"

The US: "Watch your trade with us decline. Watch as our politicians, and worse, Hollywood demonises your country in speeches, movies, blogs and news channels. Within two years your tourism will have dried up; within four years, you'll routinely see internet blowhards proposing we invade you. Within six years, at least two members of congress will have suggested it, because there is literally nothing they will not say if they think it will win them a cheap round of applause somewhere. If you don't think that's an uncomfortable position to be in, just ask the Iranians."

SPC: "Can we at least keep our trousers on?"

Experts: We're stuck with passwords – and maybe they're best

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That's a little silly...

To meet the requirement of being easy to remember, the password must be limited to words that the owner actually knows. To the average English speaker, that limits the range to something between 15,000 and 30,000 words.

If you put someone on the spot and tell them to 'think of four words', I'd bet a small fortune that at least 50% of the subjects would come up with four words chosen from a pool of no more than 2,000 in total, and 90% would have two or three words chosen from that pool.

So the *probable* range of passwords using this system is closer to 16,000,000,000,000.

Of course the *probable* range of passwords using 'random' characters is much smaller, too, since the huge majority of people base their 'random characters' on English words, and even serious security geeks tend heavily towards letters and numbers.

Bottom line: this is a silly calculation.

Ofcom grills pirates, loses report under fridge for two years

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I've done some research into this, and use of "piracy" to describe copyright infringement goes back at least to Charles Dickens. Take a look at his 'Proclamation' regarding Nicholas Nickleby:


That was published in 1838. So if you think use of the word "piracy" to describe copyright infringment is some hideous probably-transatlantic coinage, you couldn't be much further from the mark.

Just FYI.

Microsoft copies Google with silent browser updates

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I'm wondering... How exactly is this update going to be pushed out? That is - of all those computers out there still running IE6, how many even have Windows Updates switched on?

I'm sure MS has an idea of the answer to that, but I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere.

Google promises 0.001 of revenue to free the slaves

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'Slavery' in this context is quite rigidly defined, and it specifically excludes 'serfs' (whose labour is forced by economic necessity, not by whips and chains).

In terms of absolute numbers (not proportions): the upper-bound limit for estimates of the number of true slaves today is around 27 million. Historically, the peak population was probably reached in the early 19th century, when there were an estimated 8-9 million in India, 3.5 million in the USA, a million or so in the Arab world, plus substantial numbers in China, Korea and the Ottoman Empire. I haven't seen any serious attempts to estimate worldwide total numbers at that time, but it's entirely possible the number would have been lower than 27 million.

Gov websites' value not at all clear despite trimming

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What fantasy Britain do you live in...

... where whole bureaucracies can be trimmed back or abolished, just because they're as useless as tits on a crocodile?

No, the *best* case is that there's a huge fuss about how hopelessly outdated the DVLA's database is, and a huge national campaign is launched to make everyone update their details and check them at least twice a year. Then those 7000 people can be gainfully employed with spamming everyone in the country to remind them.

A more likely scenario would be that the DVLA is made responsible for 'policing' car ownership, and you won't be able to buy or sell a car without logging onto their database, identifying both parties to the transaction, creating an ID for the guy you're selling to and checking that his Brazilian driving license does indeed allow him to drive it away, certifying on pain of perjury that you haven't "modified" the car at all, applying for a rebate on your prepaid road tax, entering the odometer reading and viewing a history of every MOT, every tax disc and every reported accident the car has ever been near.

Basically, anything - *anything* - to avoid laying off civil servants.

Greenland 'lurched upward' in 2010 as 100bn tons of ice melted

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... we can set up a wind farm with this comment written on a huge board behind it, and promote it as a tourist attraction to engineering students. The guffaws of derision should power us all nicely.

There's a little something called "thermodynamics", which says that pumping (relatively) warm water into a cold place won't actually reduce the total amount of heat in the world.

New Turing petition calls for criminal pardon

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Great idea, except for the bit where "those responsible for this persecution" were enforcing laws enacted by a democratic government.

So what you're calling for is the mass imprisonment of everyone in the UK who's old enough to have voted before 1967.

veti Silver badge

When someone has been convicted of a crime and is later found to be innocent, they are pardoned. That's *how* you exonerate them. That's just the way the system works.

If you think about it, it's semantically accurate as well as legally accurate. "Exonerate" would mean "he didn't do it", which nobody (as far as I've seen) actually claims. "Pardon" means "we don't care whether he did it or not, he's still a Good Bloke", which is much closer to the truth.

Windows 8 fondleslabs: Microsoft tip-toes through PC-makers' disaster

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Shipping beta code?

There's an interesting sleight-of-keyboard in the article, where we go from discussing a BETA release in Jan/Feb and an RTM release in June, and define the period between the two as "the time between final code completion and that code being shipped".

In most companies - certainly in Apple, to take an example not at all at random - a beta release *isn't* assumed to be "final code completion". The fact that Microsoft, or at least the author of this article, seem to regard the two as synonymous might tell us a lot about what Windows 8 will be like.

I'm glad MS has gone back to numbering its releases. From now on, it looks like the rule is "avoid even-numbered Windows versions".

Assange shocker: 'Of course I'm a goddamn journalist'

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When the US constitution granted special protections to journalists, it failed to define what exactly the job meant, nor to specify a test or establish a register to prove one's eligibility for those protections.

That's partly because *there are no special protections for journalists*. The constitution guarantees "freedom [...] of the press". It makes absolutely no difference whether "the press" in question is run by a journalist, a politician or a baker. Indeed, it's pretty clear that any such rules would be unconstitutional.

So the whole "is he/isn't he a journalist?" question, from the US legal standpoint, makes not the slightest bit of difference to anything.

Man sues boss for 'condemning him to eternal damnation'

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Not at all. Being wrong about what the bible says is not heresy, even if you're making unequivocally false statements. In the middle ages, that would have made religious debate impossible, since the loser would immediately have to be burnt; but in fact, it was their most popular intellectual pastime (without, normally, the burning).

"Heresy" is when Mother Church tells you the correct interpretation, takes time to explain it to you in as much detail as you require, and you listen and acknowledge that you understand the teaching - but still insist on rejecting it and keeping your own interpretation. Then you're rejecting the authority of the Church, which is how heresy is really defined in practice.

veti Silver badge

Do you know that for a fact? Because I know at least two people who do refuse to wear clothes made from mixed fibres, so it does happen.

But I'm sure you can always find *some* reason to call people "fucking hypocrites", if it saves you the burden of having to think of them as people.

McKinnon might get UK hacking trial after all

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Extradition is *supposed* to be used when someone, having committed a crime in one country, flees to another to escape justice. The idea that you can be extradited to a country where you have never actually set foot is - disturbing, to say the least.

The counter-argument is that the Internet makes it possible to extend your actions into other countries. But in practice that has been possible for a long time. About 1376, John Wycliffe published a book that spread ripples of revolution all across Europe - but even those (many) who wanted to prosecute him for it didn't try to ship him off to Rome for the purpose; they argued that he should be tried and punished in England.

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Yeah, we'll get right on that just as soon as George W Bush presents himself for trial in Iraq.

If he can be punished under US law, then he's also protected by the US constitution, which says: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,"

Where did he commit the crime? That's where he should be tried.

Couple rewarded for naming newborn after Elder Scrolls Skyrim hero

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I'm guessing you don't have kids

Or you would surely have noticed that names nowadays aren't supposed to mean anything. The playgroups are full of toddlers with names like 'Tyler', 'Britney', 'Tyrone', and zillions of other names that translate to 'My parents can't spell'. It's abundantly clear that names are not chosen for meaning, but purely for how they sound.

Little Dovakhiin will fit right in.

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As names go, it's not bad

By the time he's old enough for his peers at school to have played the game, the game itself will have been forgotten. He'll be left with a fairly cool name with an obscure etymology, which is far from the worst option.

Just trolling: It's OK to poke fun at Christians, says ASA

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fiddley: "And yet, without exception, you all think that people who don't believe whatever one true path you happen to believe in are going to spend the afterlife in some excruciating pain. (unless you happen to have chosen to ignore that particular part of your teaching as well)"

Err... it seems to me that "without exception" doesn't really allow for an "unless" clause, but whatever floats your rant...

Meanwhile, you are aware that religious people give more to charity - yes, including secular charities - in both money and time, than non-religious people?


Dispute beliefs all you want, but you should at least consider the possiblity that religion does a lot of *good* for a lot of people.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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That was only ever a problem in Oblivion - none of its predecessors did the same.

And I haven't played Skyrim yet, but from what I hear, it's gone back to the Morrowind/earlier system whereby the level of enemies depends mostly on where you are, rather than who you are.

Killer smart meters torch Aussie homes!

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You call that fearmongering?

There's some token whinging about smart meters from the usual suspects in Australia, as well as legitimate concerns centring on the (very good) question "so what exactly is in it for us then?"...

... but for real bat-poop insanity in opposition, the Aussies can never hope to rival the Americans. Check out: http://www.bansmartmeters.com/blog/

I'm particularly fond of the comment that tells me "electrical induction [is] illegal everywhere in the so-called civilized world". Apparently, whatever "civilization" means in Texas, it's incompatible with radio technology.

Anonymous runs amock in Israel, Finland, Portugal

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Oblig: http://xkcd.com/932/

Stallman: Did I say Jobs was evil? I meant really evil

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Whining that you can't run "any app you like" on your iThing is like complaining that you can't watch movies on your radio.

It's a consumer device. It's not *sold* as a general-purpose computer. It's a device for playing games, for surfing the web, watching TV, storing and listening to audio, e-mailing, and lots of other applications of varying levels of interactivity.

And that's all it was ever supposed to be. It makes no bones about its limitations. To criticise it for not running Flash is like criticising a fridge because it doesn't have a built-in microwave.

Windows XP and iPod: A tale of two birthdays

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I USED Vista for four years, and I cordially loathed every day of it.

The biggest problem wasn't so much that the minimum hardware requirements were excessive, but that they were ludicrously *under*-specced. I was running it on a laptop with 2Gb of RAM and about 100Gb of spare HD space (when it was installed), and it took - literally, I actually timed it often enough - around ten minutes to boot. It also took several minutes to shut down, or even sleep.

And don't even get me started on the "security" confirmations, each one of which had to be clicked *twice*. Why twice? To this day I have no idea.

Windows 7 is far better. But then: http://xkcd.com/528/

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It's worse than that. I dread to think what would happen if I tried to install Win7 on my primary home machine with its 2Gb RAM.

I had enough experience trying to run Vista, at work, on a machine of the same generation. "Painful" doesn't begin to describe it.

No, *that* machine's OS is never going to be upgraded. Not to another Windows version, anyway. Maybe to Linux, when I get a new games machine, but until then it's XP forever.

War boffin: Killer cyber attacks won't happen

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I for one find it refreshing

It's good to see a "subject expert" who *isn't* making a pitch for himself to be given a budget of billions and a staff of hundreds to spend the next 20 years countering some threat that he's just pulled out of his arse.

Compare and contrast:


Anonymous shuts down hidden child abuse hub

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"The proper action would have been to Anonymously* send the particulars to a laundry list of enforcment bodies, along with a threat that if action were not forthcoming, the list would then be sent to the press."

And how exactly would that help? Evidence that's been passed through Anonymous would still be open to the defence that it may have been contaminated.

Even if, rather than the list itself, they'd just sent instructions on how to get at it - the defence could still claim that since "those lawless hackers" clearly could access it, there's no way to show that they didn't, for instance, insert names and details of people they wanted to take down.

No, any halfway competent defence lawyer would shoot this out of court in jig time. Naming and shaming is the best result that could be achieved with this "evidence".

Chaos feared after Unix time-zone database is nuked

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I think your Win7 PC might mean Nuku'aLofa, which is UTC+13.

So is New Zealand, incidentally, since daylight savings kicked in.

And that's the only real reason this information is complicated at all. If we could just agree to forget about the daylight savings nonsense, it would take about half an hour to compile all world timezones and end this nonsense right now.

The reason we can't is because they keep changing, at least twice a year in most places.

Three years ago, the NZ government decided to extend its daylight savings time by three weeks. The decision wrong-footed Microsoft, who released at least three Windows patches to reflect the change - and despite being fully patched, during those three weeks, my Outlook calendar was *still* reminding me of appointments an hour late. But Unix-based systems had no such problems.

This Dianamania is a slur on Jobs

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A couple of facts: over 20% of smartphones in the UK are made by Apple. Plus over 70% of fondleslabs, and most importantly, over 70% of MP3 players. Seriously, don't you know a few people who have iPods?

If you think that leaves them at 2% of the population, you're not paying attention.

As to those flowers: it is our capacity to feel (irrational) empathy for someone we have no real connection to that makes us capable of caring about "unnecessary child deaths" (what other kind of child death is there, by the way?). I'd be interested to see some analysis on the relative charitable giving of people who leave "tributes" like that vs those who don't.

Bank emails punters asking for their, er, email address

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Why would I want my bank to e-mail me anyway?

E-mail is too slow to be any use in an emergency (such as when they suspect my account's security has been breached), and too insecure to be trusted with sensitive information (like how much money I've got or to whom I'm paying it). I can't see any valid reason for a bank to even record its customers' e-mail addresses, much less use them.

Poll: Porn-watching, net-savvy kids are a myth

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Paris Hilton

What "myths" are being dispelled here?

So... one-third of kids, by their own report, can circumvent the restrictions that their parents think they've applied to their internet use?


And 9% have met up IRL with someone they first met online? NINE FREAKIN' PERCENT?

I don't quite see that putting "only" in front of these numbers makes them small.

Ten years after the Twin Towers: What's the Reg angle?

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Not much has changed

I had occasion to put this "Internet-as-primary-news-delivery-mechanism" idea to the test back in February, with the Christchurch earthquake.

My conclusion was - for all you can talk about faster responses, larger reporting populations and improved infrastructure - when a big story breaks, so does the web.

About an hour after the story first broke I was fed up with trying to access meaningful news from the usual sources, and tried Twitter. Lots of tweets coming out of the stricken area, surely? Well, no. Most of them were from people watching news - on TV.

Decisive victory to Old Media, I thought. And I'm convinced that if Al-Qaeda had managed to pull off something big on the anniversary, the same thing would have happened again.

‘We save trips to the library’ – Google

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Lies, damned lies and statistics

260MWh per year for a service (utility) the size of Google sounds suspiciously modest to me. The UK as a whole consumes around 5MWh per person per year, so Google's consumption is approximately the equivalent of a very small village.

Surely Google does save at least that much power in reduced trips to the library. But I wonder what people do with the time they save? Plan road trips and holidays, maybe...

Cyber crime now bigger than the drugs trade

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The smell test

A million victims a day?

Okay, there are, give or take, 7 billion people in the world. Let's suppose half of these have Internet access. Then your chance of being scammed online, per year, is (365/3500 = about 10.5%).

So in the past five years, almost 50% of the people around you should have been victims of "cybercrime". Does that sound plausible?

Well, maybe if you stretch the definition a bit. If marginally misrepresenting something on eBay counts as "cybercrime", or if visiting a website that's been defaced by vandals makes you a "victim", then I could maybe believe that statistic. So what will Norton sell me to protect me from these outrages?

Yeah, right.

Christ appears in phone advert, secular authorities act

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OK, I don't like iPhones either, but...

I seem to have missed the Apple ad featuring Jesus, or any other religious figure for that matter.

(Unless the Jobs counts as a prophet, in which case they'd only be offending their own religion.)

Green energy and jobs will cripple the UK economy

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Step 3 missing

Unfortunately, developing new tech is not like studying to be a doctor. Specifically, you *don't* get to charge exorbitant rents for the rest of your life to anyone else in the world who wants/needs to use what you've developed.

How many times have we seen it? Country A develops technology, Country B continues on its merry way until the mistakes have been discovered and the wrinkles smoothed out, then Country B grabs whatever bits of the technology look best, makes its own improvements, and gains all the benefits for a fraction of the cost. America did it with telephones, Japan did it with cars, Korea with electronics.

It's not necessarily a bad thing. All those examples have made us all better off. But it means that the assumption that there is some kind of positive benefit in the long term needs to be much more closely examined.

Spamhaus victorious after 5-year fight with mass mailer

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Separate cases

That's how the American legal system works.

If someone takes action to stop you from testing your explosive rockets on the public highway, you sue them for interfering with your business. The fact that you've killed 47 people to date is neither here nor there, that's a separate matter between you and the state, but *this* case is about some busybody interfering with your divinely guaranteed right to the pursuit of profit.

The underlying idea is that if someone brings a case like this against you, you bring a countersuit against them for, I dunno, excessive noise or something. The end effect, as designed, is that the maximum possible number of lawyers get employed for the maximum possible amount of time.

Windows 8 ribbon entangles Microsoft

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Let's be fair?

The ribbon *is* THAT bad, however bad THAT is.

Quick: if you have a Word .docx file with figures stored in linked files, how do you get them saved in the .docx itself so that someone else can open it and see them? Which ribbon is that command on? (In case you don't have Word open right now, the ribbon names are:

Home / Insert / Page Layout / References / Mailings / Review / View )

If you answered any of the above, you're wrong.

Now suppose you want to insert a section break, so that you can vary the header/footer content between two parts of your document. Where's that command?

Or you've typed 'http://theregister.co.uk' into your document, and Word has oh-so-unhelpfully turned it blue and underlined it. You select it, but where's the "Remove Hyperlink" option?

Best of all: if you want to find out which version of Word you're using, so that you can actually get help on any of this crap? That used to be "Help/About", but try typing "About" into the "Help" box today and see where it gets you. Now you have to click that gaily patterned roudn thing that doesn't even look like a button, much less a menu, click on "Resources" and look at a whole list of buttons inviting you to try exciting operations that, if you're fool enough to try them, will suck up literally hours of your time to zero positive effect. ("Diagnostics"? Jobs save us. "Is Microsoft Office having problems?" - how the hell would I know, that depends what it's trying to do, I know *I'm" having problems, but to project those onto Office would be to assume that Office is supposed to help me, which is an assumption I currently see zero evidence for.)

I've been using Word 2007 on a daily basis for the past four years, and I've wasted more time looking at those blasted ribbons for functions that, as often as not, aren't even there, than I have actually using any of them.


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