Is the Microsoft Action Pack wheeze still a thing? I'm looking at 2 MAP boxes on my shelf right now, which have supplied most of my software needs for the last 15 years (yes I'm still clinging onto my Windows 7 Professional edition for grim death!) all for a few $hundred. :D
66 posts • joined 20 Sep 2011
Let's see what the sweet, kind, new Microsoft that everyone loves is up to. Ah yes, forcing more Office home users into annual subscriptions
Science and engineering hit worst as Euroboffins do a little Brexit of their own from British universities
Re: Mumsnet penetrated
Hmmmm, is this dodgy reporting by theReg? I got the mumsnet email about this and it clearly says:
> "How many people are affected? We're confident that number of users affected is 44 (2 accounts were breached twice, bringing the total occasions to 46). We have emailed these users directly. "
Apple: Good news, everyone – sales are less bad than we thought. Not amazing but not bad. $84bn is $84bn, tho
Re: What can save us from this malicious computer ransomware infestation
Yeah, because the death penalty has done such a good job of stopping all violent crime in the US hasn't it? Oh, wait...!
The issue with the death penalty, is no one doing a crime that calls for it (or pretty much any crime) believes at the time that they're going to get caught, so the ultimate sanction, is ultimately useless.
Plugging in the phone
Many moons ago, the mother in law decided she wanted to get on "that internet thing". To her credit, she'd popped down to Tesco's and pickup up a Tesco.Net CD and was studiously following the instructions therein. She called me when it wasn't working.
After much over the phone diagnostics, I discovered her mistake: when it came to plugging the computer into the "phone line", she'd actually plugged the computer into the "phone".
She had literally unplugged her 1980's style phone from the wall, then plugged the cable from the phone handset into the back of the computer... so now neither were connected to the wall socket (she was calling me on her mobile)!
Re: The Swiss are in it
Agreed, ESA has nothing to do with Brexit. From ESA's own website: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Welcome_to_ESA/ESA_and_the_EU
> "The European Union (EU) and ESA share a common aim: to strengthen Europe and benefit its citizens. While they are separate organisations, they are increasingly working together towards common objectives. Some 20 per cent of the funds managed by ESA now originate from the EU budget.
> "ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, whereas the EU is supranational. The two institutions have indeed different ranges of competences, different Member States and are governed by different rules and procedures."
Stop us if you've heard this one before: Tokyo crypto-cash exchange 'hacked' for half a billion bucks
Stolen crytocurrencies could be managed like this
I don't get it. There seems to me 3 possible solutions to stolen cryptocurrencies:
1) The Blockchain records what a legitimate transaction is and is visible to anyone. When the NiceHash wallat got raided for $60M in bitcoin, the destination wallet was there for all to see. You could go to the public blockchain and see the stolen bitcoins were still sitting in the destination wallet.
As transactions are committed when a miner solves the mathematical puzzle to prove the next block in the chain, and as miners are often part of large networks of miners working together and sharing the reward when one of them hits on the solution. Could not the exchange that was robbed submit a reversal transaction to the blockchain (effectively stealing it back) and as long as enough miners agreed to try to validate the transaction in that block, is it not possible to validate that transaction?
2) Again as the stolen currency in visible in the wallet address, could all the exchanges work with law enforcement to make sure that transactions out of that wallet are tracked, and where possible the recipients identified as handling / laundering stolen goods.
Basically you should be able to keep a track of where the money goes, because all transactions are public (at least bitcoin transactions are), and in the same way as if you buy a stolen car, that car isn't really yours, the stolen bitcoin etc could potentially be recovered, maybe bit by bit (pun INtended, haha).
3) Again because it's all public, exchanges around the world could agree to block any transaction from the wallet that's the recipient of the stolen currency, effectively freezing out those funds. Sure this would require considerable global co-operation, but it's doable. There could be a public black-list of wallets, and subsequent wallets, all of which are frozen out of the system for handling stolen goods.
Anyone then could check, or their software could check, any transaction against this public list, to flag up that they may be transacting for stolen goods. Ok this may not get the currency back, but if the people who steal currency suddenly discover that it's worthless because they can't use it for anything, that's a massive deterrent.
Re: What unpleasant memories?
Presactly! I seriously considered taking a punt of £10k in Bitcoin when it was £250 a few years ago, i.e. 40 BTC. In today's money that would have been £240,000! Cool, awesome, great, I'd have been rich!!
But the reality is, when it doubled to £500 per BTC (£20,000 in total) not having a crystal ball, I probably would have sold half (20 BTC) to get my original £10k out.
Then when it doubled again to £1,000 per BTC (again worth £20,000) I probably would have sold half (10 BTC) to get another £10k out, realising a 100% return on my original investment.
I suspect I would have repeated this formula of selling half every time it doubled, so by now I'd have extracted £40k profit and still hold £10k in BTC. Don't get me wrong, £40k would have been very nice to have, but it's a far cry from the theoretical and mortgage clearing £240k it could have been.
Re: Don't call it Autopilot, for a start
> "... accidents like this will happen."
What's your point? Are you saying that "autopilot" or whatever you want to call it, is only worthwhile if it's 100.0% perfect?
Of course not, it only has to be better than humans, and as the article says, it's already 40% better than humans, a figure I expect to improve as time goes by.
If we put self driving (or whatever) on a pedestal of perfection, it's doomed to fail. It's the very fact that it's already very good, in that accidents like this are rare, that make them newsworthy. If Tesla's were crashing like this every week, we wouldn't be reading articles like this.
I typically translate the national debt interest repayments (approx £43Bn*) into Wembley stadiums (appox £800M).
Roughly we could build a new Wembley stadium every week all year long, a new one in every city in England (51) in a year. That's how much money the gov't gives away servicing (not decreasing) ours, our parents', and our grandparents' debt.
How much debt interest will we saddle on our children and grandchildren I wonder? An aircraft carrier (£6.2Bn) a month perhaps?
*When interest rates were higher, IIRC this figure was over £50Bn pa.
My iPhone 5S runs just fine...
... because I'm still running iOS v9. Yes it's annoying to have to dismiss the weekly "Do you want to upgrade?" and "Are you sure you don't?" (paraphrasing) messages, but by not upgrading the iOS I've skipped this very predictable problem entirely.
Sadly I wasn't so clever with my iPad which despite being blisteringly fast when I first got it, now struggles to notice that I'm even typing, forcing me to wait every 3rd word for it to catch up.
I realise that from a security point of view, not upgrading to the latest iOS is not ideal, but I don't do any internet banking on my phone so the risk is minimal.
Bitcoin is basically a Ponzi scheme
The only way investors who already have bitcoins can get their money out, is when new investors put their money into the scheme. That's the definition of a Ponzi scheme.
Everyone's rushing in because the returns are amazing at the moment, which is pumping more money in at the bottom.
Eventually however you'll run out of new investors (people buying bitcoins), and existing investors will want their money out but won't be able to find new buyers, and the price will crash. Simples.
Don't forget the very small matter that the Polish intelligence enigma breaking efforts were disrupted somewhat by the rather inconvenient invasion and occupation of Poland by German right near the start of the war!
Which is why (so I believe) that all their enigma breaking material was rushed out of Poland to England, so Turing et al could continue their work.
Moving tax to a tax haven explained
Of course it's more complicated than this but as many people don't seem to understand how companies like Apple move corporation tax profits offshore, I thought a simplistic example would help:
Company A in country X makes a widget for $100 and sells it for $150 making a profit of $50.
- Corporation tax in country X is 10% so they pay corp tax of ($150 - $100) x 10% = $5.
Company C in country Z buys the widget for $150 and sells it to the end-user for $250 making a profit of $100.
- Corporation tax in country Z is 20% so they pay corp tax of ($250 - $150) x 20% = $20.
With me so far? Now company C is unhappy about paying 20% corp tax, so opens a new company B in country Y. Country Y is a tax haven that charges no corporation tax. Now company B sits in the middle of this transaction so buys the widget from company A, like this:
Company B in country Y buys the widget for $150 and sells it for $250* to company C making a profit of $100.
- Corporation tax in country Y is 0% so they pay corp tax of $zero.
Now company C in country Z has bought the widget for $250* and sells it to the end-user for $250, making no profit.
- Corporation tax in country Z is 20%, but they've made no profit ($250 - $250) so they pay corp tax of $zero.
The same widget has been sold to the same end-user by the same company, but by putting a middle company in the way in a tax haven, and here's the crucial bit: inflating the price of the widget to company C, company C have made no profit from the sale. Therefore, there is no corporation tax to pay by company C and company B doesn't pay any, it's in a tax haven. Of course really they're same company group.
This is how Apple, Google, Starbucks, Microsoft etc etc all divert profits to low or zero corporation tax havens. It's why Ireland's 12.5% corp tax rate attracted so many IT companies. This is why Apple are sitting on $250Bn in cash, all of which is offshore in low / no tax havens. They've saved about $50Bn in tax doing it this way!
* In reality the figure charged from company B to C flexes enough to allow company C enough profit to pay it's staff and bills, but not enough to make anything more than a token taxable profit.
Re: Pressure suits?
Only Jonathan Richards mentioned the tremendous amount of power needed for the acceleration, but I don't think anyone mentioned the nearly equally amounts of power generated by the deceleration (reduced by losses due to the minimal friction and heat).
Remember that the track is essentially a linear motor, which means for the time it's decelerating, it's essentially a linear *generator*. In order to keep running costs in terms of power down, that 86 GJ of generated electricity has got to go somewhere, somewhere preferably reusable for the next / return journey's acceleration.
Re: Some credit and debit card data was also slurped
My thoughts exactly. The 5th principle of the Data Protection Act is the one I believe is the most widely breached, as has clearly been the case here:
> Fifth principle - Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.
Re: "that buyers of driverless cars"
> "or the car automation is perfect"
> "A self driving system that is nearly perfect is more dangerous (in the long run) than one that is rubbish."
I don't agree. Car automation just has to be better than humans for it to be worthwhile.
Currently 10 people a day die on the roads of the UK. If 100% car automation is only twice as safe and so kills 5 people a day, we'll be saving 1,800 lives a year.
There's no such thing as "perfect" and to put any technology on a pedestal of expected perfection is to doom it to failure from the outset.
> "I would name and shame the guyz on the Internet, never to find a job in IT again."
Right because you've never made an IT mistake, and all the rest of us are perfect programmers too, who sprang into the world with all the knowledge we have now?
People learn far more from their mistakes than successes. Sure fire the IT dept, but can bet your boots those guys/girls won't make the same mistake twice. To suggest that for 1 mistake someone should lose their career, livelihood, then possibly their house and wife, is ridiculous.
I appreciate what you're saying Martin. Yes we'd all like less / no adverts, but the reality is that's not going to happen, so the least I can hope for is that they are made more relevant to my needs and wants.
And yes, though most people don't like to admit it, we are influenced by ads, that's an undeniable fact.
I used the example of drills just cos it was an easy stereotype. Here's a better example perhaps: last week I bought a card game (Hero Realms if you're interested, it's excellent), so if this week I were to see adverts for card sleeves perhaps, that would be a relevant crossover product. Or ads for the expansion card packs, they would be a relevant up sell advert.
That's got to be better then getting bombarded with random ads, surely?
> "Merely scanning for nearby devices is a marketer's dream"
I have never understood why people think marketers having more information is an issue? As a middle aged, balding, pot bellied man, I don't want to see adverts for Barbie dolls or frilly dresses, I want to see adverts for powertools, beer and gadgets.
Marketers being able to target ads is good for everyone concerned: I see ads for things I'm interested in buying and that are relevant to me; and they spend less money on advertising, so the cost of their product is cheaper, which helps to keep the cost to me the consumer down.
Further more, if all ads could be better targeted, that would likely lead to less adverts overall, as many marketing schemes currently just go for the blanket approach, hoping to hit their intended audience. E.g. if pizza companies know I don't eat pizza, that would save 30+ leaflets a year being shoved through my door unnecessarily.
Let's use a more practical example, if I want to buy a new case for my phone, wouldn't it be useful for the website to be able to check what phone I've got and warn me if I've accidentally picked the wrong model case, without me having to manually remember my model number, and then compare it to the probably very long list of supported models?
Now of course that's a task you and I may find easy, but my pensioner parents certainly don't!
So I see no problem with this at all, though yes of course as long as we can turn it off... at those times when we *do* want to buy that special frilly dress! :)
Re: @ Pete4000uk - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
> Your statement also suggests that at some point the EU had gone "just about far enough".
What we joined was a good idea. We joined the EEC or Common Market, which at the time was 9 very similar "western" countries in terms of economic and political development. It was a simple agreement on the trade of goods and services (a common market and customs union).
It all started to go wrong in 1993 with the creation of the European Community, which significantly extended the group's remit to include politics, not just economics. It was at this point that there should have been a 2nd referendum.
Once the free movement of labour principle was established, combined with the EU's aggressive expansionist policy of hoovering up as many disparate countries as possible, irrespective of their match, and ultimately the introduction of the Euro, the writing was on the wall for the EU. It's break up and ultimate demise became inevitable.
Re: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
I completely agree that countries working together is the natural and proper progression of civilisation. We should do it as a country, and need to do it as a human race.
BUT I don't believe in Unity for Unity's sake, no matter the cost.
The artificial political construct that's overlays Europe called "The EU" has shown itself to be a morally and fiscally corrupt-to-the-core organisation, more interested in the power wielded by individuals than actually improving the lot of its constituents.
It was a good first attempt, I'm glad we joined all those decades ago, but it's time to call it quits.
Brexit is the first step in a 100 year journey of disbanding the EU version 1, and starting again, wiser and with lessons learned, with EU version 2.
Re: An AI playing StarCraft II
As I understand it, Starcraft is a very popular game in the Asian pro gamer competition circuit. Indeed it appears there's an annual $1/2M prize purse for the StarCraft II World Championship Series winner:
According to this page, there's been over $4M of prize money handed out in South Korea for Starcraft II and Starcraft leagues have been televised on 2 different channels. It's even had its own match fixing scandal with 11 players banned for life and convictions with prison sentences (suspended) for several!
Re: How to classify workers
Having been fighting IR35 as a contractor for many years, like others I'm sure, I know more than many about employment law and self-employment status test. Let's go through a few of the biggies, in no particular order, thinking "Does this point indicate employment?":
1) Personal service - does the driver have to personally perform the service, or can he substitute his brother/cousin/wife/friend etc if he feels like it?
=> YES, personal service is required, this is a pointer towards employment. [Confirmed in para 39 of the judgement.]
2) Mutuality of obligation - Is the driver obliged to turn up for work, and is Uber obliged to find work for them?
=> NO, the driver can stop when they want, this is a pointer towards SELF employment. [Para 43 in the judgement.]
3) Right of control - does Uber control "what", "how", "where" and "when" work is done?
=> YES, given that a driver accepts a job, Uber tells them what to do, where to go, and when. [Starting from para 47.]
4) Provision of own equipment - does Uber provide the equipment?
=> NO, the driver provides his car (though Uber provides the app, the car is the key here). [Para 44.]
5) Financial risk/ablity to profit - is the driver's profit the same, irrespective of their efficiency?
=> NO, if they drive a shorter / faster route, using less petrol, they make more profit.
6) Part and parcel of the organisation - does the driver look like an Uber employee?
=> NO, I'd say, though you could argue YES [Para 66]
7) In business on their own account - does the driver only use Uber?
=> NO, I'd suspect that most drivers use multiple similar apps concurrently, whereas most employees only work for a single employer, or at least don't work for 2 employers concurrently.
[However para 34 suggests that actually most divers are sole operators, which is a surprise, so maybe this should be a YES.]
Whilst it's not completely clear cut, on balance I'd say that Uber drivers are not employees as they don't have to accept work and can work for others simultaneously.
Whilst I agree that the contract is full of shocking weasel words, I suspect there's a moderate chance Uber will win at appeal.
Re: Good grief
Agreed. All this bleating about "autopilot" not being perfectly safe is completely missing the point.
Let's just say it: people will die in Tesla's that are on "autopilot", probably each and every year from now. There'll be a steady stream of news stories announcing it and bleating about it. But that's not the point.
LESS people will die that would have done. That's the point! Eventually Tesla deaths will be common, just like Ford deaths, Toyota deaths, BMW deaths etc etc, and the news outlets will get bored of running the same old story.
Do you think the papers of the day weren't scattered with "Ford Model T Driver Dies in Crash!" headlines? Of course they were, now we're just used to it because it happens every day, well not the "Model T" bit. ;)
It's the same argument for Fracking. Fracking will never be 100% safe and environmentally sound... just like every other form of power generation. It just has to be better than what we've got at the moment.
Re: Musk seems to be losing it
> "He might find a few loons wanting to spend the rest of their (possibly very short) lives on Mars"
Well when Mars One was announced, 200,000 people signed up for a 1 way trip. That's a queue of people that would have reached from London to Birmingham! And that programme didn't have anything like the credibility SpaceX does. There'd be millions of applicants for the first Heart of Gold mission to Mars, one way or not.
The reality is that many people would prefer to burn out their lives brightly (possibly literally) and possibly go down in the history books, than continue to fade away in their current insignificance.
VW Dieselgate engineer sings like a canary: Entire design team was in on it – not just a few bad apples, allegedly
Everyone seems to have missed the horrifying possibility that was likely narrowly avoided in this story:
If the roof of the car and head of the "driver" was ripped off, and (maybe?) there are no critical systems in the roof, was there a possibility that the now convertible car and it's headless corpse continued on it's journey on autopilot, until the batteries expired many miles down the road?
Also, people keep using that "perfect" word.
Bus travel isn't perfectly safe, but we accept that risk.
Train travel isn't perfectly safe, but we accept that risk.
Plane travel isn't perfectly safe, but we accept that risk.
Self driving cars don't have to be perfect, they just have to be statistically better than humans driving cars, like all other forms of transport are, except space rockets of course (oh the irony!).
I recently took a canal boat holiday and one of the reasons I chose the Bridgewater canal was exactly to cross this Wonder of the Canal World.
It was very exciting I can tell you! Well, as exciting as canal boats get that is, proving once and for all, the excitement is all about context. ;)
Why is this a surprise? I did a stint at Dixon's Stores Group head office many moons ago (owners of PC World and Currys) and I hadn't been there 2 hours before one of the analysts I was working with looked up my personal purchase history on the main customer database, and whilst he was at it, looked up all my neighbours too, and told me who had the biggest TV for example.
It's one small step /cliché
The only endeavour worth a damn is to work out how mankind can sustainably leave this insignificant floating rock, before we either consume all the resources required for us to do so or we all die from some disaster (man made or otherwise).
As such, I'll take any and all space based progress you can give me. Well done RB, you're reminding people what we're really here for: the exploration and colonisation of space. :)
Personalised Ads? Ah, it's not the personalisation.
Ah so it's not the personalisation that people are bothered about, it's the ads themselves. Then install something like Adblock Plus.
Whilst I agree that few people want to see ads, if I do have to see them, I'd rather they were personalised than random.
After all, every ad you see in print or on the TV, is tailored to the audience the advertisers think are watching, which is a form of personalisation.
Personalised Ads? Bring 'em on!
I don't understand what people have against personalised ads.
As a middle aged fella (oh the horror!) I don't want to see ads for dresses, vacuum cleaners, nail polish, spar treatment weekend breaks or Fiat 500's.
I *want* personalised ads, because I want to see ads for fast cars, beer, golf holidays and TVs so big I need to build an extension... so some power tool ads would be useful too!
What's not to like about personalised ads?
I worked with a contractor who was using an EBT exactly as this article describes. He claimed he was getting 93% of his gross rate in his pocket, after tax and fees for the scheme. So was paying out about £7k in tax and (mostly) fees on his £100k income.
As his nominal salary was national minimum wage, I pointed out to him that his salary of approx £12k a year, meant that he could apply for tax credits and other means tested benefits (who all ignore loans as income), e.g. council tax benefit.
"Oh, I wouldn't want to take the p1ss!" he exclaimed, "Besides, if I then got a visit from the council, they might ask how come I have a £400k house with no mortgage but am earning £12k a year?"
I wonder if he's had one of these letters?
If only nuclear was as safe as coal mining
When nuclear started, it was billed as energy so cheap, you wouldn't have to meter it.
And that would have been true too, if the excessive safety regime hadn't been allowed. If nuclear was allowed to be as safe as coal mining for example, it would be cheap.
So cheap that you could probably supply all of Africa's needs, providing fresh clean water to the population, and irrigation to the land, wiping out famine and hunger, and provide light for education, and power for heating.
That's right, African poverty is a choice, a choice we've made by imposing the most ridiculous levels of safety on nuclear power. As others have mentioned, the deaths from nuclear are tiny, about 4,000 from Chernobyl, and sweet f.a. from everything else, even the 1 cancer death from Fukushima is in dispute.
Coal mining kills that number every year or so. In 2005 for example there were nearly 6,000 coal miner deaths in China alone. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_accidents
And when a hydro-electric dam failed, it killed 171,000 in a single incident in 1975, but no one worries about dams do they? Not to mention the people who die building the things, 96 died just building the Hoover dam in the US.
Then there's the end user deaths of burning fossil fuels, which dwarf the above figures: "According to the World Health Organization in 2011, urban outdoor air pollution, from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass is estimated to cause 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year and indoor air pollution from biomass and fossil fuel burning is estimated to cause approximately 2 million premature deaths"
So we're looking at 10's of thousands of deaths a decade from digging up fossil fuels, and millions from burning them. Make Nuclear as safe as coal, and Bob Geldoff would have all the electricity he needs to feed the world.