* Posts by gskr

30 posts • joined 20 Mar 2012

Software update turned my display and mouse upside-down, says user

gskr

Re: Now it can be told...

Ah yes the classics. Once I once redirected a colleague's firefox shortcuts to a batch file that shut down the computer after 5 minutes. Was hilarious watching him run virus scanners etc, until I finally owned up :)

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UK third worst in Europe for fibre-to-the-premises – report

gskr
Unhappy

For the last 5 years the local exchange has been fibre, enabled but the cabinet has not.

For about the last 2 years the openreach checker has been saying "Your area is currently in our plans to be upgraded with Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), however we follow a different design and build process for FTTP so you won't see updates at each stage. When you are able to place orders you will see the Accepting Orders message. In some instances our FTTP plans change. If this happens you will move though the journey stages normally."

Very helpful BT, no time estimate, no means of obtaining a time estimate, just a choice of ADSL2+ or nothing here in the centre of Manchester, with a vague promise of something at some indeterminate point in the future, that might never happen.

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Hi Facebook, Google, we think we might tax your ads instead – lots of love, Europe x

gskr

Free Trade works when there is a level playing field.

In Europe a company can base itself where there are the lowest taxes, and is not further taxed by selling to other european countries (a flaw in the single market).

The same flaw applies when there are free trade agreements that cross to other countries that do not account for the tax regimes properly.

Now with physical goods you (normally) apply import tarrifs/custom charges at the border to account for the differences in tax regimes, and allow domestic players to compete fairly with international players that have lower costs.

Surely the way to fix this is to apply an "import tax" to digital goods sold by non-domestic companies (regardless of the domain name they put in their website, with this tax variable depending upon the tax regime of the parent company's country) If they choose to base a company domestically that's fine, but profits can only be shifted overseas by paying a profit transfer tax equivalent to corporation tax. Obviously any purchases the domestic company makes from the parent need to be taxed at the import tax too to prevent avoidance of this tax. (Eg "Brand licensing", "loan interest", "coffee beans")

So the likes of google have the choice

1) Have a UK subsidiary. Pay only domestic taxes, but ANYTHING they transfer to the parent company is taxed.

2) Be based internationally. An import tax applies to all sales, digital or not. This tax should level the playing field.

Fixing low tax bases within the European single market is a separate issue. Really its a flaw in the whole single market concept, so unless you force corporation tax to be normalised you'll need some sort of compensation tax paid to every other country in the single market that you do business (presumably based on the percentage of business done in that country * the corporation tax difference in that country)

OK realise thats not all that simple, but surely cleverer economic minds than mine can sort something!

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Microsoft extends free Windows 10 S to Win 10 Pro upgrade offer

gskr
Facepalm

Never understood why they'd try Win 10 S on a high-end computer like the Surface - its just a really poor fit.

(Sensible) people don't spend a grand on a computer to be limited to a few curated apps and light web surfing (on Edge only).

They should be giving it away free to computer manufacturers building low-end (sub £200) computers that compete more in the chromebook price range, as surely thats its only reason for existing? I imagine that in that market it might be able to shave a bit off the cost of the computer, whilst doing all that was asked of it, driving traffic to bing and the windows store + providing an upgrade option to those who wanted more. In the high-end market though... NO!

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iPhone lawyers literally compare Apples with Pears in trademark war

gskr

Gah.

Apple lawyers - Like regular lawyers, they just don't bother to shave off the pointy beard or hide the horns

Still I don't need any more incentives to avoid their products now - the products themselves are unappealing enough

I've got a 2013 Macbook Air - which at the time compared quite favourably in spec, quality and price with the equivalent Windows ultrabook-type laptops.

Now in 2017 Apple are selling a (more expensive), but more or less unchanged model (apart from a newer processor). Its still got the same RAM, storage and low res screen.

However that's still the most appealing laptop they sell, as all the others are more expensive and lose all the usefulness of things like SD card slots, regular USB ports and magsafe chargers.

The iPhone has no headphone port

The Mac Pro is hugely expensive, under-powered and unexpandable.

Bad Apple.

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TVs are now tablet computers without a touchscreen

gskr

I've got a 50" Panasonic Plasma TV (TX-P50GT50) that cost £800 in 2013, and is still under warranty (just)

Fully intend to keep it for years to come assuming it keeps going, and no reason it won't.

As a late Panasonic plasma it does a fantastic picture, 3D, and the netflix and iPlayer apps still work fine. Updates stopped pretty much straight after I bought it, but its still doing its job so who cares.

I just want a great screen - got a chromecast and PS3 for supplying other smart content, and those are easily replaced.

Hate the idea of Android TV. That will be slow to start up, and will stop getting updated within a year, and then be vulnerable to the latest android exploits.

0
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Microsoft's in-store Android looks desperate but can Google stop it?

gskr
FAIL

This effort seems doomed to fail before its even started.

So If Microsoft has given up on running its own store, and accepted that most developers are likely only going to develop Android and iOS apps then why not just revive project Astoria, and pump out some more WM10 phones?

WM10 is a great OS, however its lacking phones and Apps. Project Astoria solves the app problem (as it allows android apps to run on WM10 without modification). Add a few nice phones and you're in business, running all Microsoft's services and apps naively to boot.

1
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UK's 'homebrew firmware' Chinooks set to be usable a mere 16 years late

gskr
FAIL

Re: Of all time?

Surely the badge of "most incompetent procurement of all time" belongs to the Nimrod MRA4

£3.8 Billion straight down the toilet, when it was cancelled in 2010, at which point the project was 7 years late, and 789M over budget - and all that was left to show was some scrap metal

35
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Palmtop nostalgia is tinny music to my elephantine ears

gskr

Although headphones don't interest me, I do have other tech vices. Bought a 1st gen Moto 360 smartwatch, and found it great. However after 2 years the battery had degraded from providing maybe a day and a half of use, down to dead before leaving the office. Apart from the battery it was still working fine, and fulfilling its original purpose, but the battery is kind of important!

iFixit guide to replacing the battery made it look nigh-on impossible for fat-fingered me.

Saw a Sony Smartwatch3 going for £70 in Currys, so just bought that instead!

Now I find its not going to be updated to Android Wear 2.0, (which is a shame as the built in NFC would have made it a prime candidate for android pay)

So do I buy an NFC/Android wear 2.0 compatible watch (of which the only one is the new LG watch sport) for £350 - no way, but doesn't stop me wanting it...

2
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How Rogue One's Imperial stormtroopers SAVED Star Wars and restored order

gskr
Thumb Up

Loved it

Yes!! It felt like a proper star wars film.

Not just a bratty kid as the main character (as in Ep1) or villain (as in Ep7) to sell merchandise to 12 year olds.

I actually thought the Peter Cushing CGI was pretty good, certainly not completely perfect, but close enough to not distract from the film. Carrie Fisher however was awful - so blatantly CGI I'm surprised they bothered. I appreciate she didn't get much screen time, so maybe didn't warrant the effort, but c-mon - way brighter than her surroundings, face was much rounder than real life (at time of EP4). Couldn't they have just got a similar-ish looking actress to wear a wig, and take the shot from behind, so her face wasn't in focus? It'd have worked just as well without putting that stain on an otherwise fantastic movie.

Despite that, thoroughly enjoyed it. Its a definite must-see for any fan

5
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White House report cautiously optimistic about job-killing AI

gskr

Re: Anothe aspect

@Bob - I think that's exactly what future governments are going to have to tackle.

For "Fun" I've done a bit of simple arithmetic. NB there's a lot of variables left out!

Suppose we have a company "Acme Products" (for simplicity a fully domestic company that unlike amazon etc pays proper corporation tax and performs in house manufacturing, distribution and retail sales of its widgets). Lets say that it currently employs 10,000 people: 1000 back-office employees (ave £25k salary), 1000 involved in the manufacturing arm (ave £25k salary), 100 in distribution (ave £25k salary), and the rest (7900) in retail (ave £15k salary). Total wage bill = 171M (lets ignore heating, NI, training, uniforms etc for now)

Now lets say the company brings in £500M in widget sales each year (excl VAT), and has additional costs of £229M in terms of raw materials, rent for retail units, electricity for manufacturing etc - so makes £100M a year profit.

The company pays 20% of this profit as corporation tax (= £20M) and its employees pay ~30% of their wages as tax = £50M, so a total of £70M goes to the government as tax.

Now lets suppose the in the future it is able to automate the majority of its manufacturing, distribution and retail operations. So distribution goes to 10 (drone truck watchers), Retail to 790 (store robot supervisors) and manufacturing to 100 (factory robot supervisors). Lets say they incur no addition costs for this. So its just the wage bill that changes, to just £34.6M.

So now the company makes £236.4M profit per year = £47.28M corporation tax & the wages make just £10.38M tax for the government. ie, £57.66M total, £12.34M less than the old regime.

But its worse than that of course, because those 8100 unemployed people (who cant be retained as robot supervisors, or aren't needed anyway) now need lets say £10k each unemployment benefits = 81 M. Clearly the government cant afford this, as its now £12.34M worse off!

So in the simplest terms we'd need to increase the corporation tax to cover that £93.34M shortfall = an approx 40% increase in corporation tax to a total of 60%

Is that a solution... not really - just a starting point. I mean are people still going to be able to afford to buy widgets when so many people are now just barely getting by. The government needs new ways to prevent all the wealth ending up in a few pockets, or the entire economy is going to eventually stagnate and die.

2
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Facebook pays, er, nope, gets £11m credit from UK taxman HMRC...

gskr

What you need is a "Money Leaving the country" tax.

If the profits stay in the UK then they can be taxed at the existing corporation tax rate.

Any money that leaves the country that goes to another company in the corporate structure (however that might be - "brand licencing", "coffee beans purchase" or however the company chooses to dress it is taxed at the same rate. Obviously make it Illegal to avoid this tax by moving the money through a 3rd party or something.

If they try to avoid this by not having a taxable UK company - then just set a rule that they are forced to above a certain turnover or percentage of their global sales - even if that's just a virtual sales and marketing office - or pay a hefty export tax, that happens to be the same as the same as the corporation tax (on top of VAT of course)

Not saying its quite as simple as that, or there's no flaws that need working out - but it'd be a good start!

1
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Good God, we've found a Google thing we like – the Pixel iPhone killer

gskr

Nice phone, but the design isn't exactly thrilling, and its WAY too expensive.

The HTC 10, Moto Z, LG G5, Samsung Galaxy S7, and OnePlus 3 are all flagship phones at significantly less money. (Especially the OnePlus 3)

Are timely software updates really worth the (large) price premium when sites like XDA developers exist if you care that much?

0
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Now you can tailor Swift – Apple open-sources the whole shebang

gskr
Pint

tailor Swift?

Oh dear...

You win bad title pun of the week - congratulations!

2
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Amazon's new drones powered by Jeremy Clarkson's sarcasm

gskr

I forsee some issues...

Lets see one of those land on my apartment balcony (having to fly under the balcony above, and then drop vertically in a small area that the giant drone may or may not fit in (bit hard to judge from that video), whilst avoiding the furniture and plants. Then I'll believe its a viable service...

0
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New Nexus 5X, 6P smarties: Google draws a line in the sand

gskr
FAIL

Nice, but not worth it

Nice phones (especially the 6P) - although its just a bit too big for me.

The 5X would be a great phone were it not for some inexplicable shortcomings:

1) No QI charging

2) 16Gb/32 Gb (not expandable) storage options - come on its late 2015! good reception is not universal + data plans are not unlimited (mostly), so dont give me that everything in the cloud nonsense

3) 2Gb RAM. Most higher end phones come with at least 3GB now. I know it runs fine now with 2GB, but what about in 2 years time (afterall one of the main draws of a nexus is the long update window)

My 3 year old Nexus 4 has the same 16Gb ROM/2Gb RAM as the base 2015 5X (+ wireless charging) Doesn't seem a worthy upgrade to me!

Price: - 5X 32Gb (only one I'd consider) is £350 from some retailers.

In the same price range:

A new 32GB galaxy S6 can be had for around the same money. (And if you want to spend more you can get a bigger capacity one too)

A 32GB LG G4 can be had for around £300 new. That has expandable storage.

Both of those phones have better specs (and wireless charging - although with the G4 you need a replacement case) Decided the much better hardware in the G4 was a worthy tradeoff for having to wait slightly longer for software updates.

0
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Hands on with Google's Nexus 5X, 6P Android Marshmallow mobes

gskr
Meh

What to do...

Hm, Not exactly thrilling.

Still don't have a sure-fire replacement for the trusty nexus4

6P = too big (as was last years nexus). Quite expensive

5X = hobbled. Why only 2GB ram & 16Gb late 2015? thats the same as my 3yr old Nexus4!! Also loses the handly wireless charging.

The competition:

Sony: Small, but expensive & slow updates (& the z5 compact has only 2Gb ram)

Honor: Cheap, but unlikely to ever see an update (& has the rubbishy EmotionUI)

Samsung: Powerful, but expensive, crappy UI, slow updates, rubbish battery

LG: Too big, questionable battery

HTC: Expensive

Motorola: Probably the best of a bad bunch (decent price, gets quick updates, good battery), but the cheaper X Play isn't very powerful, and the X Style is too big!

Is it too much to ask for a reasonably sized, reasonably priced, reasonably powerful handset that lasts a full day and gets timely updates?

3
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Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330

gskr

As it's personal screens, and a fixed angle I would have thought this is the perfect case for an autosterioscopic screen (glasses free). But they'll probably cheap out and go for "passive" 3d screens (with cheap cinema type glasses)

1
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Space station 'nauts will use URINE-FUELLED ESPRESSO MACHINE

gskr
Trollface

Branding fail

Was I the only one who saw the proposed name of this contraption (ISSpresso) and mentally add a "P" to the start?

4
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Feds crack down harder on 'lasing'. Yep, aircraft laser zapping... Really

gskr
Mushroom

How about this plane?

Get the YAL-1 Airborne Laser test bed back in the air.... and then adopt a return fire policy :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_YAL-1

0
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Ho, ho, HOLY CR*P, ebuyer! Etailer rates staff on returns REJECTED

gskr

No problem with ebuyer returns personally, had a motherboard that went bad after about 10 months, contacted them and explained what I'd tested, they took it back, saying they would test it themselves, and a few days later confirmed faulty and sent me a slightly higher model replacement, as they had no stock of the original. That was a few years ago mind!

0
1

Samsung's squillionaire supremo scuttles siblings' shares snatch

gskr
Pint

Didn't even read the article - but had to post a kudos for the alliteration overload in the title.

2
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Google puts Nexus 4 back on sale, sells out pronto

gskr

Managed to snag a 16Gb one last night @5:10. 1 - 2 weeks away it says - just hoping before Christmas!

The un-expandable memory is a slight downer - but I figure I can scrape by with 16Gb, and everything else about it is awesome. The killer feature though is that its a pure google phone (sim free) so will get all the future updates from google. Any other android handset has a limited lifespan (without resorting to custom ROMs of course)

0
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Brit retailers tell Amazon and Google to pay their taxes

gskr

As I see it one of the common tax avoidance techniques works like:

Company A is based in the UK - and has a parent (company B) in Luxembourg or something.

Money that would normally remain in company' A's accounts as profits is transferred to company B as a "brand licensing fee" or something - so appears as a cost on company A's accounts.

Because its that money that's transferred from A to B that you are missing the tax on that's where you need to focus the reforms.

Introduce a new tax that applies whenever a company pays a parent company (or another company owned by the parent) that is outside the country of company A, and not covered by another form of tax (eg import duty on physical goods bought from a parent company would make it ineligible for this). Tax is 27% (ie same as corporation tax). Add some checks so that company B isn't doing something like charging £1M per cardboard box that company A buys. Problem solved.

3
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Samsung readies bendy smarties for 2013

gskr
Thumb Up

I imagine with a curvy screen you could end up having it fold in half in a flip phone, but when unfolded it rests against a rigid back. Thereby you'd have a big screen phone that would actually fit in a pocket again.

I'd buy that!

2
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Affected by ebook price-fixing? Amazon has a few shiny pennies for you

gskr

Agreed - You can't lend,sell,or donate an ebook after it's first obtained. Therefore it is not as valuable as a physical book.

If the publishers wish consumers to value ebooks on the same level as physical books then there needs to be a right of transference.

Logically that only means anything if there is a 1-instance thing to transfer. So the license or whatever would need to be held centrally (not by the e-tailer - because they can go under) This central registry should be paid for by the publishers or e-tailers (obviously you'd need some EU law or something to force them to pay up & licence in this way) This should logically also extend to other forms of digital only media (films, music, software etc). I think there we are still a long way from this kind of thing, and there would be a lot of problems to overcome (not least of which the privacy concern). Still something to think about...

0
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BT to fibre up another 163 exchanges, coy on exactly where

gskr
Thumb Up

Well looks like the 2 remaining exchanges inside the M60 ring (Greater Manchester) are now on the map as "Future Exchanges" - including mine (yay!)

No guarantee they'll do my cab though.

0
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Booksellers club calls in Kobo to aid indies

gskr

Whilst it does appear everything is going digital you would have thought there could still be a way for physical booksellers to remain relevant.

For one thing you can't wrap up an e-book and leave it under a Christmas tree.

Physical bookstores could just have a bunch of e-book readers about the store that people could preview books on. - put a couple of ebook readers at the end of each row with ebooks of all the physical books in that row preloaded. (chained to the shelf to stop people walking off with it of course!)

If you want to buy an e-book they just sell you a scratchcard with the book cover picture & a code to download the e-book.

Easy!

0
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Queen unveils draft internet super-snoop bill - with clauses

gskr
FAIL

There seems to be some misunderstanding:

E-mail contents are not going to be logged.

However a record of each e-mail sent/received will be logged.

If we only consider e-mail comms for a moment...

I'm guessing they want to be able to go to an ISP and say give me all the records sent to/from an IP address (that represents an ISP subscriber) (or a physical installation address)

Presumably they are expecting said ISPs to install DPI hardware to do this given that e-mail could be sent or received through any server - often not the ISP's e-mail server.

How then does this cope with SSL encrypted comms - which are widespread even for home users using POP3 / SMTP, not to mention HTTPS webmail portals (eg g-mail)!

All they would be able to log in these cases is user X communicated with an e-mail server at IP address Y at time Z. (not the actual sender or recipient) That's only any use if the owner of the e-mail server also falls under the jurisdiction of this law. Presumably you'd only be guessing that its e-mail comms based upon the port used. If it used a non-standard port you wouldn't know that, and hence wouldn't log the communication as it would fall outside the scope of the law.

Anyway this is all speculation until details emerge, but it seems very difficult to achieve what they want - even ignoring the use of VPNs (which are widely used for legitimate purposes!)

4
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So, what IS the worst film ever made?

gskr

Cable Guy

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Superman Returns

The Day After Tomorrow

Garfield the Movie

Transformers 2

All extremely bad films - but if I had to nominate the film I think is the worst I've ever seen it would be this one:

Vantage Point - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443274/

Was trying to be clever with the same 20 mins of action shown from multiple viewpoints - it succeeded in being the most annoying film I've ever seen - in fact I think this was the only one I have ever been close to walking out of (I have a REALLY high tolerance for bad films) - so many people were walking out - an audible groan every time it reset to another viewpoint.

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