* Posts by Loyal Commenter

2496 posts • joined 20 Jul 2010

Combinations? Permutations? Those words don't mean what you think they mean

Loyal Commenter
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...Maybe she was doing it deliberately, and the irony went over your head.

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Re: re: pseudo-maths

Also 'Pling', which is the one I heard when at school many moons ago.

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Google adds planets and moons to Maps, but puts bits in the wrong places

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North is up

...but which North? Local North? Magnetic North? Solar North? North relative to the plane of the ecliptic? Galactic North?

Personally, I'd probably define it as parallel to the axis of rotation of the body, in whichever direction happens to be pointing in roughly the same direction as ecliptic north, but I don't know how well that will work for bodies that are noticeably titled relative to the ecliptic.

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Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs

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FAIL

Re: Nope.

Then, you have to pay to go out and correct all the signs...

Try reading the article before heading straight to the comments section. Specifically the last paragraph:

He wants the current symbol 38, denoting footballs on traffic signs, to be updated so that future street signs are done correctly. "I appreciate updating all the old ones might be considered a misuse of taxpayers' funds," he said.

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Re: Metric please

@Primus Secundundus Tertius (are you related to J R-M?)

Of course, the representations should be 0x10000 inches to a mile, a foot is 0x10 inches, rod/pole/perch is 0x10 feet, furlong 0x200 feet etc. Then you can have the beautiful confusion between hexadecimal and decimal number systems in schools, so we can easily separate our future developers from users.

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Arguably, the picture on the sign should be of a wallet having the cash removed from it, as this much better represents the purpose of the football industry. The ball itself is purely incidental at this point.

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Did you know?

The human mind has this amazing ability of being able to be used for more than a single purpose!

Whodathunkit?

For instance, it is entirely possible to be consider several things to be bloody stupid ideas simultaneously. For instance; Anything Donald J Trump says, 'Hard Brexit', eating prawn salad that has been left out for 24 hours, etc. etc.

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Re: Further inaccuracies

...or the other well-recognised pose, "in hotel room with team-mate's wife".

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Loyal Commenter
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Google 'football icon' and be prepared to be amazed!

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'There has never been a right to absolute privacy' – US Deputy AG slams 'warrant-proof' crypto

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Re: Francis Walsingham

...just to add a little more, to illustrate that history is littered with examples...

From the wikipedia page on the Royal Mail:

In 1653 Parliament set aside all previous grants for postal services, and contracts were let for the inland and foreign mails to John Manley. Manley was given a monopoly on the postal service, which was effectively enforced by Protector Oliver Cromwell's government, and thanks to the improvements necessitated by the war Manley ran a much improved Post Office service. In July 1655 the Post Office was put under the direct government control of John Thurloe, a Secretary of State, and best known to history as Cromwell's spymaster general. Previous English governments had tried to prevent conspirators communicating, Thurloe preferred to deliver their post having surreptitiously read it.

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Re: Francis Walsingham

But he didn't monitor ALL communication. Only that to/from a specific person. Something easily permitted with a warrant.

IIRC, he monitored quite a lot of communication between various people. At the time, there wasn't really the concept of having a warrant to do this.

If you want a more recent historical example of mass-interception of physical communications, I would encourage you to visit the STASI museum in East Berlin, housed in the actual headquarters of the STASI (also used for the rather good cold-war drama Deutschland 83).

I would draw your attention to the room on the first floor (second floor if you are American) where they have a section about how the STASI did exactly what is being described, along with examples of the steamers they used to routinely open the mail of ordinary people.

The STASI were a perfect example of this sort of surveillance taken to the absurd extreme. Some people seem to think that rather than being a warning from history, they should be held up as an paragon.

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Re: Francis Walsingham

Don't get me wrong - I think Walsingham was a Machiavellian arsehole, but he is history's prima facie example of data fetishism and illustrates why oversight of state actors is always required.

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Re: If...

One end may be outside your jurisdiction and you don't know enough about your end to establish probable cause.

And this, my good man, is known as a fishing expedition. If you think one of those is a good thing - well, you are just wrong.

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Re: Actually, I think he is right

What about ongoing black projects which have to be denied they even exist, whose revelation could bombshell major government relations if not start a war?

What about not having those?

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Re: Missing the first basic step

... a block of encrypted information does not look the same as a block of random data...

Haha! No.

As noted by other posters, if you 'encrypt' your data with something that does not give it the same entropy as random data, you have not encrypted it. You have probably used a substitution cipher, or XORd it with a repeated fixed-length string. Those things are not generally considered to be encryption.

Folks who are much cleverer than you, for example Bruce Schneier, have spent large potions of their lives learning about the mathematics and theory behind encryption to design things that do result in sufficient entropy for the result to be statistically random.

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Nobody every opened every single envelope to read and catalogue every bit of physical mail sent. Why should they have the right or ability to do that now?

No?

Francis Walsingham [Wikipedia]

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Dumb bug of the week: Outlook staples your encrypted emails to, er, plaintext copies when sending messages

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Re: By default...

If I could upvote this more, I would. Email is, and always has been, an unsecured plain-text protocol. You might be able to ensure you have SSL between you and your mail server, but then as far as the protocol is concerned, that SMTP server could be delivering the message to the next relay by semaphore, or by shouting it across a busy pub.

If you want to send something securely by email, send an encrypted attachment, don't depend on the protocol to do the work for you. Even then, you have to consider that your attachment in its encrypted form is visible to world+dog, and that if someone wanted to brute-force it they probably could, so a password-protected zip file isn't going to be much use to you unless you like typing in long high-entropy passwords.

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Star Wars: Big Euro cinema group can't handle demand for tickets to new flick

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Re: I guess they're looking for an excuse

My favourite is the 50p handling fee you pay via a certain cinema-ticket-selling site for the privilege of printing your own ticket, using your own paper and ink/toner. Why they're allowed to get away with that I'll never know.

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It's almost as if they're setting it up for another sequel!

Nah, they couldn't possibly...

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Re: it's up, but doesn't work

Maybe people should just relax a little and realise they still have two months to book their tickets...

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Dumb bug of the week: Apple's macOS reveals your encrypted drive's password in the hint box

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Re: Why, what?

There was no logic to store the password but there was logic to store the hint, obviously. Unfortunately the UI (the app, not the underlying filesystem) stored the contents of the password input into the hint field.

In a proper security design, both the UI layer and the storage layer would be explicitly checking that they hadn't been passed anything in the hint field that could be hashed down to the same as the password hash and; in the UI layer given a message that the password and hash cannot be the same; in the storage layer throw an exception.

In a proper n-layer architecture, as any fule kno, you do not trust the input from the layer above you.

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Boffin

Re: To be fair

You take the password, hash it like mad - including salting it - and then encrypt using the hash.

Here is another perfect example of why getting security right is hard.

What you would actually want to do is hash the password, with a random salt (to prevent rainbow attacks against the hash), and then store the hash and salt in order to verify the password. In turn, you would use the password (not the hash) to protect a decent length encryption key, ideally alongside something that also uniquely identifies the hardware (in order to prevent brute force attacks on stolen drives slotted into custom hardware) that cannot be spoofed, such as a master machine encryption key. You then use that key that you have protected with your password to encrypt the contents of the drive. You certainly wouldn't use the hash, which will be stored and accessible and used to validate the password when the user enters it.

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Home Sec Amber Rudd: Yeah, I don't understand encryption. So what?

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Re: Rudd

Seriously? when did you last have one? the 50s? I have never heard of that.

FWIW, it was around 2005, when I had to replace a battery on a scooter, which although new when bought from the dealer, had a battery in it that must have been made from lemon juice and a couple of nails.

Definitely had to pour the H2SO4 into the battery. I still have the burns in the ironing-board cover to prove it.

Oh, and you can do a LOT of damage with a very small amount of concentrated acid. I learned the hard way not to wear a favourite T-shirt in the lab when I was a student. Car batteries contain a significant amount of the stuff.

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Re: Rudd

I'm more worried about dihydrogen monoxide. Did you know that ALL terrorists have dihydrogen monoxide in their blood!

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Re: This is some high-order recursive stupidity

Too stupid to be able to comprehend the Dunning-Kruger effect.

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Re: Rudd

She's just banned the sale of acid to under 18s.

Yes, just a few simple thought experiments show how unworkable this particular knee-jerk is, even if she is just talking about strong acids (rather than, for instance, vinegar, lemon juice, or rainwater)

For example, a sixteen-year-old can legally ride a 50cc scooter on a provisional licence. All such modern scooters have electronic ignition, running off a 6V or 12V lead-acid battery. Will she therefore be making it illegal for under-18s to purchase such scooters, or will she make it so that only adults can buy the batteries? In this case, will it also be illegal for someone over 18 to buy acids, and hence acid-containing batteries for under-18s (in the same way as buying alcohol for under-18s is). To further complicate things, when you buy a replacement battery for a scooter, you often get the battery and acid in separate containers, and have to mix them.

Assuming that the group that Ms Rudd is attempting to target are under-18s using strong acids as weapons, where exactly does she think they are getting them from? Bear in mind that the most likely common source for strong acids is the sulphuric acid in car/bike batteries, how does she think making the purchase illegal is going to restrict access to these ubiquitous batteries? It's not as if someone who is going to attack another person with acid is going to balk at the idea of nicking a battery out of a car.

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Support team discovers 'official' vendor paper doesn't rob you blind

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Re: Common English words with very different meanings.....

giving this an IT bent, router has a rude meaning in Oz so they pronounce it rowter

Router (pronouncer rowter) is a power tool that routs.

Router (pronounced rooter) is a piece of network hardware that routes.

The joys of the English language, eh?

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Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck

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Re: Get your facts right

Well funded? Well organised? That's some of the finest revisionist history I've ever seen made up on the spot..

Well funded? Well for starters, Arron Banks alone gave £6m to Leave.EU Of course, Leave.EU wasn't the official leave campaign, so I'm pretty sure the amount they spent won;t show up in your official figures. Ditto the other campaigning groups, and solid media support from the Mail, Telegraph, Sun, etc. etc. all owned by strong leave supporters.

Well organised? Well there was this political party formed with a single purpose - what was its name again? Oh Yes, UKIP. And as for talking about historical revisionism, you only have to look at the crud spouted by some of its proponents.

Also, I didn't claim that the remain campaign didn't have all the major political parties backing it. The problem was that it was run through government. In practise, this meant that any 'official' remain campaigning had to be done through them. The government campaign dictated the message that campaigners should be imparting, which was the rather uninspiring (although accurate) economic message. Those who wanted to get publicity for their own message (such as those in the scientific community who will lose not only funding but the international cooperation that makes the UK a great place to do science), didn't have the opportunity, funding, or platform to communicate their message.

The leave campaigning was quite different, as it was disparate and well targeted. The people doing this campaigning have had several decades to perfect the art, whereas those groups in support of the EU had to organise from scratch - after all you don't have established campaigning groups in place to support the status quo, which is why you won't find such groups to support thinks like votes for women or the abolition of capital punishment, whilst you do sometimes find public proponents of the opposite. And yes, I am equating the anti-EU campaigning groups with regressive political ideologies; leaving the EU is regressive.

Before the referendum, membership of the EU didn't figure very highly in most people's minds. There was a small nationalist Conservative-party breakaway group that wanted out of the EU, backed by a handful of rich interested parties. They had the organisation and money to get their opinions heard, skewing public opinion. On the day of the vote, most people won't have had much more knowledge of the issues than those shouted at them in the press, and were asked to vote on what was essentially a popularity contest. The whole concept of a vote (a sop to the right-wing part of the Tory party in an attempt to hold it together) was a fools errand.

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Re: re: I'm just curious as to why

Now, if you believe that a spudger and a set of precision screwdrivers are "specialist tools", then I conclude you must be an arts graduate.

For the record, both of my degrees are in chemistry, but that was now a number of years ago.

I, too, have in the past taken apart and reassembled a smartphone, and can attest that it takes a great deal of care, especially in ensuring that the parts are all in the correct places when reassembling the case. Of course, different manufacturer's phones will all be different, and YMMV. What I can attest to is that they tend to make very good use of the space inside the case, and tend to contain a fair numbers of delicate electronic parts. You need to have a good clean environment to work in with plenty of space, and ideally, diagrams of how things should fit back together, where clips and fasteners are, etc.

A vacuum cleaner, on the other hand, you can take apart and put back together in a couple of minutes on your kitchen floor and be fairly confident in not fucking it up. Even with a management degree.

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Re: Get your facts right

I was making the point that there will have been few decisions in world history with better democratic credentials.

This is simply not true.

Firstly, the act enabling the referendum explicitly states that it was advisory, and non-binding. On these grounds it was written that the vote didn't require any sort of super-majority, as any democracy would normally expect of a decision of this nature. It also excluded a significant portion of the electorate (British nationals living abroad for more than a certain number of years) on the same grounds, which significantly skewed the result.

Secondly, it asked a simple question - 'leave' or 'remain', without properly defining what 'leave' means. This allowed leave campaigners to claim it meant anything from de-facto continued membership of all the institutions of the EU at a reduced cost, to complete isolationism, depending on the audience to whom they were speaking.

This was exacerbated by the piss-poor remain campaign which was coordinated through the Tory government, thus stifling any campaigning from groups who did not wish to be politicised (such as groups representing scientists and other professionals), as well as the governments political opponents - you can't seriously think that the Labour party, for instance, would want to position itself so that it appears to be supporting a Tory government.

These things combined have allowed our government to follow a very specific interpretation of the vote and claim overwhelming public support for their position, where in reality none exists.

Recent polls have shown that, despite all the lies they were fed by the well organised and very well funded anti-EU campaigning groups (funded, might I add, by people with very vested interests such as those with money in off-shore tax havens, or those who stand to benefit from reduced workers' rights, tenants' rights, or health and safety laws), the majority of the UK population now supports remaining in the EU. This despite the daily drip-feed of propaganda from the likes of the Daily Mail, the Sun, et al (again owned by media barons who have pretty obvious ulterior motives).

Being allowed to change your mind is pretty much the essence of democracy. Claiming that a decision made a single point in time, based on flawed evidence is the paragon of democracy, is, I'm afraid, not.

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Re: re: I'm just curious as to why

A third of the price of certain mobile phones....

Even though the manufacturer of the certain mobile phone I reckon you are referring to is also a rip-off merchant, you can't argue that something that is basically a plastic shell with a motor and some control electronics in it is even 1% as complicated as a mobile phone, let alone the 40% you would seem to suggest if we are trying to justify the price on these grounds.

If you think this is the case, I would encourage you to take apart a smartphone and reassemble it (in a working condition), in the same way that you can with a vacuum cleaner. Even replacing the screen on most devices requires specialist tools, or a great deal of care in not damaging the tiny little edge connectors with fingers that are larger than the components they are manipulating.

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Re: Get your facts right

Oh, god, another remoaner

And, right there, you invalidated your otherwise cogent argument by turning into an ad-hominem.

Yes, I think brexit is a bloody idiotic idea. Allegedly living in a free society, I am free to express that, but according to you, (to paraphrase), "we had a vote so shut up". Attempting to silence the arguments as to why that vote was fatally flawed, not binding, and basically based on lies (which Boris is still spouting despite being asked nicely to shut up) exposes the desperation in the brexit camp amongst those how know they have made an error but are yet to face up to it.

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Re: Get your facts right

@AC

Well, I did do some research, and had to wade through a number of google results before finding a reference to the actual figures, and am going on the figures referenced here, where it says:

"The government doc, within the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, revealed the public funding and said it should be a boost to the area, securing '£174m of investment...creating over 500 jobs’. "

If this is misleading, then it is this article that is misleading and it certainly wasn't my intention. I always encourage anyone to verify such things for themselves.

Anyway, my point still stands; James Dyson is a multibillionaire who shuttered his UK manufacturing and moved it to the far East. He can afford to do his own research.

I'm all for UK government investment in UK technology, and that money would be much better spent by giving it to a genuine research establishment (e.g a university) than to a private business, where it would also help to train the desperately needed next generation of scientists and engineers who will be so badly harmed by brexit, rather than rewarding someone who selfishly lobbied for brexit because it suits his own tax arrangements.

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Pass the popcorn

Let's all sit back and watch Dyson bankrupt himself, or at the very least make huge losses on a fool's venture*. As a brexiturd, he deserves it.

What I'd like to know is why he is being given public money to the tune of £174m towards this, when he is already a multibillionaire. I guess it all comes down to whose palms you grease...

*Entering a globally highly competitive market with well established multi-national players in an environment where you are about to lose all your global trade deals, ironically due in part to your own lobbying.

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Why Uber isn't the poster child for capitalism you wanted

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Re: The N word

So are you saying the only difference between Labour and Tony Blairs [sic] New Labour was the word New?

Obviously not, but that's a nice straw man you've got there.

My point is that neoliberalism is essentially liberalism by another name, and that the name itself defines it as a new version of the same thing.

New Labour, on the other hand, was conservatism wrapped in a thin veneer of socialism, with a deceptive name which was used to lead people into thinking that it was something it wasn't.

It's not like this is a new trick in politics. See also: national socialism, or any country calling itself a "Democratic People's Republic".

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Re: The N word

Damn right, I've defined liberalism. The only actual distinguishing feature between liberalism, and neoliberalism, is the 'neo' part, which as anyone with a smattering of knowledge of the Greek language knows, means 'new'.

As wikipedia says:

Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism

In other words, neoliberalism is the resurgence of the failed 19th century idea of liberalism, that gave us all the wonderful standards of living seen in the 19th century, with all those lovely tenements and workhouses.

It's the resurgence in the latter part of the 20th century of ideas that had already been dis-proven a hundred years earlier, but for which that failure had gone out of living memory. Much like the resurgence of the far right in modern politics, some 70 years after it last reared its ugly head as a main player on the world's stage.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

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@DRue2514

We have exorbitant property prices because of planning constraints

It's a little more complex than that. There are a number of issues that combine to form the problems with the UK housing market. Here are a few of them:

- Use of property as an investment, rather than somewhere to live

- 'Right to buy', which itself isn't a bad thing, but couple with not replacing the social housing stock that was sold, led to a squeeze on the availability of affordable housing.

- Rules that were introduced (in the '90s IIRC) that prevented councils from borrowing to build new housing stock, despite that fact that they would have almost certainly made a profit from it.

- Planning constraints on 'greenbelt' land preventing housing from being built where it would be useful, justified by some misrepresentation of how much of our country is urbanised (93% of the country is actually rural and owned by a vanishingly small number of very rich people, for example over 3% of the UK's land is owned by the Crown Estate)

- Most of the housing that is being built is not social housing, or even truly 'affordable' housing (the definition of 'affordable' is often made as a percentage to the market price, which is anything but), it is 'luxury' housing - expensive flats that are often sold to rich foreign investors rather than to normal people to live in.

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Loyal Commenter
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Interestingly, I seem to have garnered a fair number of downvotes for my (albeit brief and simplified) explanation of the difference between socialism and neoliberalism, but no comments as to why these people think I am wrong, or refutation of the points I have made. Are the right-wing sock-puppets out in force today?

Any of those downvoters care to elaborate? Nope, didn't think so...

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Loyal Commenter
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I think you're confusing socialism (a left-wing political ideology) with neoliberalism (a right-wing economic ideology, despite its left-wing sounding name).

Neoliberalism (as practised by our conservative government) gives us deregulation, lack of public funding, and 'austerity'.

It is good for those who already have money, as they can make more profit if there is less protection for workers and consumers (such as a decent living wage, sick pay, maternity pay, protected working hours, health and safety, background checks on workers, corporate responsibility for customer protection, etc.)

It is bad for everyone else, and is why we have people working and in poverty, on zero-hours contracts or low-paid long-hours jobs. It is also why we have exorbitant property prices, unaffordable rents, lack of social housing, and tragedies like Grenfell. It is why we have a stagnating economy, as more of the capital flows from poor to rich, and why we have a crumbling transport infrastructure run for profit by mostly foreign-owned investors.

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CBS's Showtime caught mining crypto-coins in viewers' web browsers

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Re: An option for SETI@home?

I mined about 0.1 bitcoin a couple of years ago, as an experiment, when it's value was about £200 a coin. I stopped running the hardware when the pool payouts dropped to less than one in 3 months due to the increased network hash rate. The cost of the hardware and electricity (IIRC, about £200 for the USB miners and a RaspPi) are now just about paid for if Bitcoin's value stays above £3k or so.

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Re: Coin Hive's pitch is

Noscript.

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Shock! Hackers for medieval caliphate are terrible coders

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Re: Considering everything else about Daesh

frankly nothing about this backwards religion surprises me any more.

I'm not a Muslim myself, but I know enough to know you are basically talking out of your arse.

Apart from the fact that Islam encompasses 23% of the human population, you are equating Islam with Daesh, which is about as Islamic as the KKK is Christian. Oh, and as for 'backwards', you might want to learn a little about the history of science if you think this is the case, since Muslim scholars were responsible for the development of, amongst other things, algebra, invented by this guy, and much of astronomy including technical words still in common use, like zenith and nadir...

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Spanish govt slammed over bizarre Catalan .cat internet registry cop raid

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Re: Fluffy.cat?

Cats drinking vermut?

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

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Re: RE: Sabroni

Sorry, you're seriously claiming that making a vote advisory in some way prevents people from participating? That has to be the most ludicrous sour grapes comment on the referendum that I've seen so far.

No, I'm claiming that the government justified excluding those couple of million ex-pats from the vote on the grounds that it was advisory and non-binding, so they didn't have to act on the result. If they had passed legislation form the start to make the vote binding, they would have had to include all British citizens, not just those it was convenient to poll. Arguably, they may also have had to include other EU nationals resident in the UK too, who also got no say in a major decision that directly affects their future.

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What, like the £1 billion that the Tories found in their 'magic money tree' to bribe the DUP.

It is worth noting that the DUP have not yet received their windfall from the magic money tree, and that it will require an act of parliament to shake that tree so that they get it. IIRC, the bill for this is due to be debated next month. No doubt this will pass, as the DUP aren't going to vote against Christmas, but it should be interesting watching the Maybot trying to justify it in the House.

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Hey downvoter - read this, and then show me where the Tories costed their manifesto promises:

Manifesto costs

Otherwise, you're down-voting me simply because you don't like being told inconvenient facts that risk invalidating your world-view...

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Re: Journalists

Having another election any time before Brexit along with the uncertainty of our position changing and possibly having to restart some of the negotiations would almost certainly be far worse than leaving the existing crowd to muddle along as they are.

Personally, I'd far prefer Kier Starmer (a man actually qualified for the job) to be negotiating with the EU than the total imbecile that is David Davis. Davis has made no noticeable progress in the negotiations, so even if we started again in a years time and rewound the negotiations right back, Starmer would probably get us more progress in a week than Davis will have managed in a year.

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Re: RE: Sabroni

If you claim that the numbers make the result invalid, then you must accept that most UK elections in the past 100 years were even less valid.

AFAIK, general elections don't tend to exclude people from voting on the grounds that the vote is only advisory, despite the fact that those people are likely to be the ones most affected by the outcome of the vote.

The referendum was, however, conducted on these terms (the bill for the referendum itself says it is only advisory, and referendums in UK law cannot actually be legally binding) and British citizens resident overseas for more than a certain amount of time (I think it was 8 years, but stand to be corrected) were excluded from voting.

So no, I'm not claiming it's the numbers that make the referendum invalid, I'm claiming that the referendum itself was defined as being invalid, and that the result was skewed by excluding a couple of million people who would almost certainly have voted the other way. To top that, I'll add that the leave campaign was based on a set of lies that those promoting it had been practising for 30 years or so, whilst the remain campaign was so ineptly run (through central Tory government) that there was never any possibility of most people being properly informed about what the vote actually meant in the first place.

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Re: RE: Sabroni

Which bit do you think is undemocratic?

I'd go for the bit where our parliament gives us very little say (one vote every five years or so) and no control over how our money is spent. A parliament which is arguably much less democratically accountable than the institutions of the EU, as it is currently led by a monomaniac who is hell-bent on subverting the representative democracy of the parliament and ruling by edict.

Of course leaving the EU will make this more democratic. I am also the last Tsar of Russia, and have this lovely bridge to sell if you're interested...

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For some value of "properly" that translates to "with imaginary money from my very own magic money tree", that is.

I seem to recall at the not-so-distant last election, that one party had a fully costed manifesto, and one did not. The party that did not then proceeded to pull a billion quid out of their collective arse to gift to a bunch of science-denying cultists in order to desperately grasp onto the last threads of power.

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