* Posts by Ledswinger

6027 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012

Fake-news-monetizing machine Facebook lectures hacks on how not to write fake news that made it millions

Ledswinger
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Re: Good idea

Face it, we're all fated to enjoy a very moronic news future, one which future civilizations (if any) will call the "Great Dumbing Down" (GDD).

Already happened. BBC News website is dominated by endless lightweight tripe around its obsession with equality, gender identity and climate change. The Guardian is reduced to a curated collection of liberal blogs from around the world (a sort of global outlet for Australian or American would-be socialists), the Daily Mail hasn't been a premium news source for decades if ever, but is now just clickbait central.

The Telegraph is slowly disappearing behind a paywall, to the same obscurity as the Times. In fact, there's a thought for you - The Times - it is possible to ask is that still a thing? I know it is, but having retreated behind a paywall with its last handful of subscribers some years ago, I can't see how it can afford any journalism at all. The Independent came along, had a flash of glory, and has now gone, with digital editions you'd have to be desperate to read. The new kids on the block (FB, Huffpost) are so lightweight that they add nothing.

If you want good, analytical, well informed, fearless and investigative journalism, where do you turn? FT and The Economist are both good in a very business focused way, but both are subscription online for anything other than a handful of articles. Ultimately, I think this all comes down to the failure of all publishers to create a proper micro-payment system, and they've then worked up what they need to charge from the minority who feel they have to pay. I can't see bitcoin mining working for big publishers, but absent a large paying readership they are going to slide out of existence. Very few people will pay the £8-10 per week for the full fat subscriptions that the publishers current demand. £400 a year for a digital news service - who are they kidding?

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Hey, big vendor: Oracle, Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook blow even more cash on lobbying

Ledswinger
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We should have a law like that in the UK - that would make really interesting reading.

There is a UK Lobbying Register, and (as ever) a civil servant who glories in the title of Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists. However, a simple search of the register for terms like Amazon, Alphabet, Google produced precisely zero results (I didn't dig down further to see if there's more detail that would help). Membership appears to be voluntary, so they might as well not have bothered.

Ministers have to disclose companies they've met with, but civil servants, regulators and other parts of the apparatus of government don't have the same obligation. So you needn't meet with politicians at all, and could influence policy by meetings with the bureaucrats - in fact, in my work alongside the "corporate affairs" team of a large company, I can assure you that actual face to face engagement with politicians is probably less than 5% of all lobbying activity. Take the recent proposals announced by government to change stamp duty on houses to include some complicated energy efficiency element. That was announced by government as their proposal, but I know where it came from, and who it came from, and they are a senior manager in a large energy company. The energy company are trying to loosen their obligations under various government energy efficiency requirements, and this idea was floated through influential industry talking shops, then with regulators, then with civil servants, who in turn drip feed it to the politicians, who then adopt it. Nobody agreed a back room deal face to face with a minister, or even a backbencher. But you can see that the lobbying was subtle, invisible and effective.

And that's part of the problem - lobbying is not just about direct contacts with politicians, or necessarily the civil servants - using third parties, tame academics or industry working groups is often the most effective way of influencing government. And that makes me deeply suspicious of the reported lobbying figures from these companies - on the basis of my UK knowledge, I reckon that they will be correct by the official US definitions of lobbying, but in reality are out by something like an order of magnitude.

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Credit insurance tightens for geek shack Maplin Electronics

Ledswinger
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Re: We need an alternative to the jungle monopoly

For the latter, it would make sense for specialists like Maplins to merge their online store with a generalist, like Argos, under a new brand.

Maybe, but Argos were bought by Sainsburys a year or two back, and the merging is moving away from Argos + specialist goods to grocery retailer + Argos. Sainsbury's hope to add the range of Argos to all of their stores, whilst shutting down as many as possible of the Argos locations. its a huge gamble, I'd be surprised if they can make it work. Argos were always pretty good at keeping control of stock, Sainsbury have been infamous for their problems in that area. And, just like Maplin's current owners, I suspect Sainsbury think that a high street presence justifies a 100% premium to on-line prices.

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Ledswinger
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Re: 'Everyone loves Maplin'

one could also say "Compared to the box containing a warm dog turd on a spring, the mismatched, extra small, white nylon socks were a tasteful and much appreciated gift."

You bastard! You total f***ing bastard! I've just spewed a gobfull of decent red wine all over my Chromebook because of you. I'm not happy with the loss of the wine, and the Chromebook's looking a bit sorry too. Bastard.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Maplin are an empty store

I think the amended title clarifies things. I take no pleasure in saying it, when the company is clearly circling the drain, but this fate has been an obvious inevitability for years. Our local Maplin is always empty when I drop in, too often (as others have already said) the products are inferior quality, out of stock, or obscenely over-priced.

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Watership downtime: BadRabbit encrypts Russian media, Ukraine transport hub PCs

Ledswinger
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How long before the authorities decide that BitCoin's main use is in laundering the proceeds of crime and that anyone accepting BitCoin payments is an accessory?

That will depend on how much their sponsors make, will it not? Individually the "authorities" and politicos won't make much if anything. But if their paymasters - in the widest possible sense - see any value in blockchain currencies, then there won't be a crackdown.

Now, thinking about the demonstrated moral compass of any major bank's trading division, and the opportunity to make money in a poorly regulated, semi-liquid market, what's the chance that those big banks won't let it be known that blockchain regulation could stop the very Earth's rotation?

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Google slides text message 2FA a little closer to the door

Ledswinger
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Re: @nagyeger: embrace... extend... bloat?

some of us who live in the country have shite mobile signal at home

And this affects more than a few in towns. The other downside to any form of SMS authentication (however it is implemented) is that SMS is not 100% reliable as an immediate service. I've often had family members send me a text that arrives on my phone hours and very occasionally days later. I've even seen an SMS arrive eighteen months after it was sent (and the sender had died in the meanwhile, although I suspect a MNO server SNAFU was responsible for that.

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It's time to rebuild the world for robots

Ledswinger
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Daleks don't like stairs; So the plan is...

That we spend what will ultimately be billions making the world more convenient for robots, in order to more easily automate trivial tasks (like clothes folding), or in the case of some paid tasks (from shelf stacking to delivery driving and haulage) to put some relatively low wage oik out of a job.

Where's the economic case here? Initially there might be some additional construction and automation jobs, but AFAICS the obvious solution is to make sure that robots fit the human world, rather than throwing our hands up and saying "Too difficult, not fair! Lets change the whole human world to make Google's job easier".

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Pixel 2 tinkerers force Google's hand: Secret custom silicon found

Ledswinger
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On the other hand, is a smartphone still a smartphone if you turn off all the things that make it smart?

Yes. My Chromebook is s till a Chromebook available to me even when it is shut down, my PC, my car, my TV....they're all still the same thing with the same capabilities available when I choose to use them, even if turned off, or with functionality deliberately limited for some reason of my choosing.

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Japan finds long, deep tunnel on the Moon

Ledswinger
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Re: That picture

the supermarkets don't give a flying turd about it.

Why would they? Trolleys get left out in the car park and birds crap on them, about which they can do nothing, some food packets leak juices that have a very high chance of carrying pathogenic bacteria. And I suspect the dirtiest area of a shopping trolley is the handle. There have been a number of studies in the US and UK, both of which tend to indicate that discount store trolleys carry more bacteria and superstore or upmarket supermarket trolleys and baskets, I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that (in my experience, kids in trolleys is far more common in superstores than Aldi or Lidl). The re-use of shopping bags adds another compounding influence that tends to harbour bacteria and dirt, but that's not the store's responsibility.

So when the trolleys get sh1tted up anyway, why would a supermarket pick an argument with somebody who is about to give them money? At one end of the spectrum the staff risk threats or actual violence from the sloping-forehead element of society, and at the other the customers will take offence and shop elsewhere.

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Ledswinger
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Re: That picture

It's not elongated enough for the doggie do.

Surely that depends on the dog and the diet? I've seen some that looked as though they were the product of a woolly mammoth.

Who here is old enough to remember white dog poo? There's sommat yer don't see these days. Kids o'today they derent knerr their born.......

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The case of the disappearing insect. Boffin tells Reg: We don't know why... but we must act

Ledswinger
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Re: Maybe if they collected less insects, there would be more around...

Mostly true, although you can still find the "good" stuff if you look properly.

Where, please? I'd love a can of organophosphate fly spray.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Maybe if they collected less insects, there would be more around...

It is not that - they are disappearing in the countryside too....IMHO some of it is pesticides, the rest Roundup and other herbicides.

You may be right, but the difference in use of pesticides probably gives us a very quick test of that. Ireland has the second lowest pesticide use in the EU (an order of magnitude lower than the Netherlands, Belgium or Italy. according to Eurostat), and location and prevailing weather patterns mean it is unlikely to affected by other countries use. So, if there's the same falling trend in Ireland (proper, academic research, of course), then chances are that it isn't pesticides as such, or only in some combination of factors. If the insect populations of Ireland are at the same levels as several decades ago, then there's very good reason to suspect that pesticides (although we shouldn't rule out things that have lower density in Ireland, such as vehicle or industrial emissions).

A couple of other thoughts: Having seen efforts with farmers over many decades to be more wildlife friendly (primarily benefiting birds and small mammals), have we materially changed the predator-prey balance? And why has this problem surfaced now, after all the effective insecticides (like organophosphates, DDT et al) have been banned for years or subject to stringent restrictions? Back in the 1960s humans were dispensing those pesticides through fire hoses, using air-borne sprayers, chucking sheep dip in the river etc, and we still ended up with windscreens thickly coated with insects.

Eeeh, lad, I can remember the day when a fly killer spray did what it said on the tin. The crap you get sold now only works by drowning them.

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Vodafone, EE and Three overcharging customers after contracts expire

Ledswinger
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Headmaster

Re: This:

If I ate beef once a year, one would not say that I regularly ate beef.

Surely that depends upon WHEN you eat the beef. If it is say around Christmas, you have a periodically repeating pattern of consumption. That's regular. It may not be frequent, but it is regular. Since they're claiming that they do this before and after the contract end, then so long as there is a some repeating pattern (like once every thirteen months) they are correct, if disingenuous.

You didn't come here to avoid pedantry, I hope?

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Ledswinger
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Re: Moral of the story

Also worth factoring in that many of us aren't straight off the mark when the contract ends, and its pretty common (even when knowing the end date, and planning to change) to end up paying one or two months of the old contract.

If that happens its another £24-48 in their pocket. With a decent mid range phone costing as little as £150, you wouldn't want to lose a third of that, which would pay for about one minute or so of Vittorio Colao's time, based on his £6m salary.

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Ledswinger
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Moral of the story

Go SIM free, and just buy a rolling one month airtime and data contract from whoever has the best reception and offer at the time.

Of course, its worth taking a further look to see what this little trick does for telco margins. I'll assume that the handset charge per month is the reported £22, and then guess an average airtime value of £10 a month. Vodafone made about 6% pre tax margin last year, so the profit from a customer on contract is about £1.92 per month. When they come off contract but continue to pay, we can apply the 6% to the airtime still, but the £22 is now pure profit. So, ex-contract the monthly margin rises from 6% to just under 71% of that customer's charges, a profit increase of 1,100 %. Strictly speaking, these disengaged customers shouldn't be allocated much if any of Vodafone's sales, marketing and distribution costs, and that would push the monthly margin to 73% of the revenue.

An interesting result of a quick bit of modelling: If a customer stays on for two months extra after the contract expires, the company make more profit in those two months than they did over the entire 24 month duration of the contract. If you're one of the 13-23% of customers staying on contract for an extra twelve months, then the total margin is over seven times greater.than for those who leave at the end of the contract. ICBA to work this out across the customer base, but I have an impression that around half of all domestic customer profits are made from out-of-contract customers who probably don't realise the extent to which they are being fleeced. How's that for a dirty little secret?

If Citizens Advice think that companies like Vodafone and EE are going to voluntarily walk away from the chance to make a 73% margin out anybody, then they are mistaken. But I suspect anybody expecting Ofcom to step up to the mark and take issue with this is also mistaken.

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Review: Magic Leap and Fantasy Funding Fiasco

Ledswinger
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Re: Wow. Such epic BS.

And remember supposedly competent investors....

Competent in what way? Early stage investors usually don't give a stuff if the business they are backing is not going to ever fly, all they need is to get it as far as either a secondary exit, or an IPO. The "greater mug" business model is only a variant on the dubious side of horse trading, and that's been going on since the dawn of time.

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Facebook tackles race hate problem head on with programming tool

Ledswinger
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Re: Snore! Wake me up when billionaire Tech-Titans...

I'd settle for that, as long as it can wash windows too!

Me too (well, except cooking, which is a hobby round these parts). And this housebot needs to collect, wash and dry the laundry, fold it and return to storage, mow the grass and wash the car, walk the dog on rainy nights, pick up everything the kids drop all over the house.. But there's two reasons that billionaire tech titans don't work on this:

1) Most of them have a fleet of human minions to do all this already. They don't even remember having to do this sort of dross themselves.

2) They actually think the stuff they optimised (few invented) is the be-all and end-all. Look at how Zuck thinks that Facebook is the centre of the universe. Likewise Page & Brin think that flogging adverts to the world improves the place - who needs to be freed from chores? Cook & Co think that a $1,300 phone is an advance for the world.

The main man who takes some of his billions and says "let's try something completely different" is Musk. Unfortunately for you and I, Musk still suffers from problem 1, so his diversions are stuff like cars for rich people, reuseable rocket boosters, and vacuum trains. You and I will have to wait until Japanese ingenuity combined with their demographic problem gives rise to chore-bots.

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Lucky Canada. Google chooses Toronto as site of posthuman urban lab

Ledswinger
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up to the level of a Utopian building development where people will want to live

Well, with the politest intonation, speak for yourself. Even as described, as per the artists impressions, this looks like a vision of hell to me. All that do-gooding eco-living claptrap, trying to pretend that cities can ever be anything other than a wart on the land.

If communications are so clever, so good, perhaps the Einsteins at Google could explain why people should live in cities in future? Surely the one thing communications can do is to liberate people from the need to go and live cheek-by-butt-crack with other people. The whole point of a city was that it was originally some sort of critical economic mass, back in the days when work and worth always had a heavy physical component, a mass, and often a short shelf life.

We should be looking for a future where cities are demolished, not reinvented as some corporate chicken farm where humans are kept for their data. Never mind Minority Report, this is The Matrix.

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Breakfast at Jeffrey's: UK CEO admits Voda 'slightly lost its mojo'

Ledswinger
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Re: I just left them

And I just took the last household set formally with Vodafone on to a SIM only deal with iD Mobile. Signal was okay before but better with iD, but the real key was that the renewal deal from Voda was shockingly poor value, either for a new contract, or for SIM only. When I spoke to them to get a PAC code, the retentions team did a heroic attempt to retain and even cross sell, but even their best "under the counter" deal was way off the value of the iD SIM only offer (and their cross-sell offer was home broadband, but likewise was nowhere near the value that I'd wrung out of Virginmedia the week before).

When I read Colao's remark that there is potential in the UK to improve margins in relation to data, I could only conclude that, like a politician, he's lost all touch with the real world, and really thinks that his company can charge even more for the same old thing. Talkmobile (Voda's captive MVNO) has likewise seen a considerable worsening of their value proposition, so the two household handsets with them will be cancelled in a few months. And that will be it. Goodbye Vodafone group, three handsets contracts gone away specifically because you offer poor value, your retention deals stink. And it doesn't help that web site is overly complicated and crap (and has been for years).

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You can yacht be serious: Larry might be planning his own version of America’s Cup

Ledswinger
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Re: So Oracle and so larry

If you cannot win by the rules the world want to play, invent your own and unleash the demon horde of marketeers to promote them.

And thus was born "American Football".

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Microsoft Azure ████ secret ██ █████ ██ US govt's ███ ███ centers

Ledswinger
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Re: "...the blue collection of holes held together by string."

1 thumb down

Which bastard did that?

Downvoting a pro-Clangers post is a hate crime, you know.

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Ledswinger
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Re: "...the blue collection of holes held together by string."

Your next helping is 18:00 today on Cbeebies. Don't miss it.

And the fourth series should be in production at this moment.

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Yes, British F-35 engines must be sent to Turkey for overhaul

Ledswinger
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Re: Making life easier - for an adversary

But more fundamentally, does the UK really need the F35s that it can neither afford nor maintain?

Clearly not. By the time we get the F35s in any number (under our control) it will have been the fat end of a decade that the UK has had no carrier launched aircraft. Which begs the question of what is the purpose and function of the UK military, when they have got by for years without these assets, but insist on having to choose between toys because they won't buy simple, cheaper versions where they might then have a full set.

One or two carriers are of no use for coastal defence of the British Isles, and (judging by the evidence) of little use in international civil emergencies. In a real war against a serious opponent they'd be very vulnerable other than as part of an armed to the teeth NATO battlegroup ('cos the RN don't have sufficient escort ships if doing anything else at the same time). There's a use case for raining death on primitives in far off lands, but I don't think that 'Stan, Iraq, Libya or Syria show any positive outcomes for locals or western security from this type of action, so perhaps we can rule out "force projection".

The only real use I can see is for sometimes convincing other people that we are serious and could cause trouble if we wanted to. In this respect it is worth recalling that the Argentinians decided to invade the Falklands because they believed from MoD cost cutting that the UK could not and would not mount an action to retake the islands. But that seems unusual - western power (mainly the US 5th and 6th Fleets) hasn't been deterring Iran very much, nor has the 7th Fleet deterred Chinese expansion in the South China Sea, which is largely a fair accompli, likewise Fat Boy Kim is VERY undeterred by the US military.

On balance, carriers are not much of a deterrent the world over, and that's presumably our main use case for the F35. Humour aside, can anybody think of a valid military use for the F35 and carriers, that justifies the complexity, delay and expense?

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You can't find tech staff – wah, wah, wah. Start with your ridiculous job spec

Ledswinger
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Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

Typical recruitment process is that companies employ an agency. The agency find that the client is not very good at specifying what they want, so the agency says "What about skills X, Y, or Z?", and the client goes "Yes, all of them!". Then they move on to qualifications, and the client is still clueless. Agency says "Well, do you want a CompSci degree?" "Yes, Yes, of course yes!". "Do you want to restrict that to upper tier universities?" "Of course". And any degree, or cut off at a 2:1 minimum?" "Oooh, yes,2:1 and above". So although they only needed somebody good at X & Y, they've ruled out the 40-60% of people who haven't been to university, they've ruled out the 90%+ that didn't graduate in CompSci, then they've ruled half of that tiny group out on the basis of grade, and they've put in an overlay of "skills in Z" which isn't really important here.

Now, what's going on here is that the recruitment agency are trying to create a person spec because they'll only get paid when somebody is hired through them, or (for other contracts) when they put forward candidates meeting the spec. From ther point of view, they want a simple shape sorter that is easy to operate, screens out the people the client doesn't want, and bingo, its payday. Unfortunately, given the way companies tend to unwittingly gold plate the specification, this means they narrow down the pool of candidates to a miniscule subset, and then try and recruit people who can do the job so easily that they already have all the skills, stand to learn nothing new, and there's no reason why they should apply for such a Grounghog Day job. Recruiting managers rarely say "All I want is a good, experienced developer with skills in X, able to understand Y, couldn't give a toss about the academic education, but needs to fit into our corporate environment, and has suitable prior experience."

The vast majority of managers complaining about skills shortages are talking out of their arses, and their companies can't find skills purely because they rule so much of it out on spurious grounds.

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Stealth web crypto-cash miner Coin Hive back to the drawing board as blockers move in

Ledswinger
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Re: Any examples of web sites currently using this revised version?

To answer my own question, there's a test script on the Coin Hive web site. Using the default two threads it take about 60% of my CPU capacity. On my overclocked i5 that just tweaks the cooling fan up by a few hundred RPM, enough to notice, not enough to materially intrude. Using just one thread halves the number of hashes, but is barely noticeable. Interestingly the default 2 thread setting is sufficiently obvious that it tells me which other less reputable web sites are already using this or similar. In terms of interference with other tasks, very little - with several tabs open I could watch Youtube vids without interruption, piffle about here, and so forth. If you were gaming, compiling or doing other heavy lifting then you would either notice the load or need to reduce the number of threads - even then it might be too difficult. YMMV, particularly if your PC fans are noisy.

So on that basis, it works, isn't a problem on my machine and I'd tolerate it for access to decent content, with the important proviso that I wouldn't allow mining on my CPU and put up with adverts as well. It's either or.

What's this worth to the content provider? Well in ten minutes my CPU created 17,500 hashes. From Coin Hive we have:

(<solved_hashes>/30286051346) * 6.19 XMR * 0.7= 0.000143 XMR per 1M hashes

As each XMR is worth about $88, that means that 10 minutes on the Reg would earn them 2.2 US cents. If I visit the Reg for twelve minutes on 240 days per year, then they make $6.34, for half that or single thread mining, they make $3.17. From previous guesstimating, it looks as though unique users generated about 30p per year for Situation Publishing. If I assume they've lifted that to 40p per reader per year (53c), the break even point for mining would be an accumulated viewing time of 240 minutes per year, or about one minute per working day. Potentially the Reg could make more money, pay for more journalism, and not have the internal conflict inherent in "biting the hand that feeds it".

Would somebody like to check my maths out? And you might want to try running the Coin Hive script on some different machines, see how that works out?

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Ledswinger
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Any examples of web sites currently using this revised version?

I'm interested to take a gander, see how it works, what it does to PC utilisation and resources, and apart from the consent, how obvious or intrusive it is.

Quite happy to take a gander at middle-of-the-road NSFW sites if need be.

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ARM chip OG Steve Furber: Turing missed the mark on human intelligence

Ledswinger
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Marvellous

That's the sort of content that keeps me coming back to the Reg - great science, great tech, lucidly and amusingly presented. Thank you.

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Please replace the sword, says owner of now-hollow stone

Ledswinger
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Re: I prefer the more mundane explanation ...

and iron ones more easily forged

Why bother risking a prosecution for forgery, when you could just go to Wales and pull one from a stone?

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Ledswinger
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I was put in mind of a bunch of hells angels riding around having punch ups and being given free rein to tax the serfs for whatever they wanted.

I suspect that's a well worn length of the development path of most human societies. And in many places of the world, it's still the case today.

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IBM: We're now a, what's not losing money? Ah, a cognitive cloud champ!

Ledswinger
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Re: India Business Machines?

Makes you wonder, looking at those segment names. They really don't tell anybody what the division actually does. Perhaps that's the problem - management don't really know what their people are supposed to do, so like the rest of us, they guess.

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Ledswinger
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Re: Shiny

what is that box on the article picture?

That, sir, is the Dark Knight's Portaloo.

Fashionable, faceted black exterior (armoured, of course), plenty of room for a superhero to hang up his wings, struggle out of the external Y-fronts, peel off the latex, before sitting down for some blessed relief. Or, if all that palava takes too long when the crime fighting hero is already touching cloth, there's plenty of room for Alfred to scrape a bowel full of foulage out of the suit and give it a quick wash, whilst the crusader covers his modesty with his cape.

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Windows Fall Creators Update is here: What do you want first – bad news or good news?

Ledswinger
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Can we completely disable one drive?

You could install O&O Shutup10, as a compromise. Sadly, this is Microsoft continuing to ignore the customer. I don't want junk like Cortana, I don't want "mixed reality", I don't want Onedrive, I don't want my UI further messed around with, I don't want my settings defaulted back to Microsoft's choices, and I want things I've installed such as Classic Shell, left in place, working as I have them set up.

How about a Windows 10 Non-creative Update, in which Microsoft do nothing other than fix the security flaws and broken bits that it shipped out in the first place?

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So the 'Year of Linux' never happened. When is it Chrome OS's turn?

Ledswinger
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Re: Work on the move

How about the early tranche of ChromeOS machines being low spec, pitiful storage.

I'll second that. Early machines had screens that were too small to offer much alternative to a full fat desktop or laptop, and many had very poor quality panels chosen for cheapness above all else. When makers got round to releasing decent sized screens and good quality ones, a Chromebook could be an excellent device. A couple of years back I retired an ageing business grade Compaq used as the household's general purpose laptop, in favour of a Toshiba Chromebook 2 (the version with the decent IPS HD panel), and everybody has been and remain delighted. The OS happily updates itself without fuss or intervention, it requires zero "sysadmin support" from me (unlike the Windows machines in the house), it comes on instantly, is easy to use, has great battery life, and a much better quality screen than the (admittedly old) 24" Dell TFT I'm using.

The only two things I'm less keen on are the low quality built in speakers (all the budget for sound was obviously used up in "Beats" branding, leaving a couple of pennies for the actual speakers), and the fact that some members of the family keep thinking the glossy, high res screen is (or should be) touch sensitive, and insist on poking and prodding the screen with their greasy fingers. As a photographer, I've a touch of OCD about keeping optical surfaces clean, and it makes me MAD. Madder than a f***ing mad thing. GET YOUR FINGERS OFF OF MY BLOODY SCREEN! Nurse! I'm having a turn! The medication, quickly! Mad! Mad I tell you!

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Ex-TalkTalk chief grilled by MPs on suitability to chair NHS Improvement

Ledswinger
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This cloud has a big silver lining

Yet another shambles on its way.

Actually, I doubt it. Due to its byzantine and un-coordinated management structure of the NHS, and the total absence of any effective central control , there's no chance that some government task force will deliver anything, other than line the pockets and flatter the pride of its appointed members. Government of all colours are forever commissioning their chums to write reports, that create a host of new quangos, cost money, but solve and deliver nothing.

This will be no different. Arguably this is a very safe place for Dido, where no matter what she says or does, it will not have any real world relevance or impact, other than the modest waste of money

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Capgemini: We love our 'flexible, flowing' spade

Ledswinger
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Re: And they paid for this ?

Not yet. But they will in due course.

Probably some "creative" agency has walked away with half a million quid for the deflated spade. But for a large company, the real costs are changing all the signs, logos, employee uniforms, reworking the Powerpoint style, the ad campaign to broadcast to the world the vital news of the new melted logo, the internal propaganda videos and materials etc. Altogether the costs of changing a dull blue logo to a dull blue logo will easily reach several million quid.

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IT at sea makes data too easy to see: Ships are basically big floating security nightmares

Ledswinger
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Re: How current is this? @ Charles 9

Phalanxes are pretty small shipwise so can be put on many ships, INCLUDING the ships on the edge of your group. Heck, put a few on ALL the ships in your group and you have defense in depth.

To reiterate something you've overlooked, Phalanx have a range of just over 2 miles. In a battlegroup under combat conditions you'd have all the ships much further apart than that unless you want to present a nice, tight target to your enemy. You can scatter Phalanx onto your entire fleet like confetti, chances are only the target ship will see a high speed missile come within range of the Phalanx.

You are in denial. Almost 30 years ago the Cato Policy Institute concluded that the carrier battle group was an utterly outmoded means of offence, because so much of the force is there to protect itself. Its on the web, search it out, read it. The only thing that has changed is that UAV, missile and torpedo technology has advanced, and that weakens the case for a huge floating target.

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Ledswinger
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Re: "but there's no convincing defence systems."

Light travels faster than an hypersonic missile....

Lets see them take down a hypersonic missile in combat-representative conditions with a laser. I'll believe that when I see it. If you had a hypersonic sea skimmer, the laser control system has a whole 13 seconds to detect a tiny target a few feet above the sea after it appears over the horizon, get a fix, and put in sufficient energy to destroy it. Actually, make that 10 seconds, because at short range you can hit the missile but it will hit the target anyway. If I might suggest, you seem to have unbounded optimism in people like DARPA.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How current is this? @ Charles 9

But dumb missiles lends itself to "dumb" defenses like the Phalanx, which is gun-based so is much easier to keep stocked with ammunition and harder to evade since slugs are dumber then missiles

Sorry, mate, you need to think more about the weapons and tactics, which was my point. Phalanx is a last ditch defence, because it is short range, max 2.2 miles. As fire controller for an escort ship, you'd want to knock out all incoming missiles as far away as possible, and only rely on the Phalanx at the last moment for missiles that get through your outer defences - don't forget that at short range you might hit the missile, but if you don't trigger the warhead, chances are still high that it will hit and detonate. Imagine you're weapons controller, you're looking at what might be a swarm attack, you've got two incoming missiles showing as doing 600+ knots. They might be ancient Exocets - but how confident would you be that Phalanx will get them? Would you hold back your anti-missile missiles. and risk a carrier by hoping that Phalanx will stop both, or even one? How would that play out afterwards if you got it wrong?

Now move on to the cream of the crop weapons, and think about the fact that although 4,500 rounds per minute sounds great, a Ruskie Zircon moves at 5,300 mph. How good is your radar, your gun control motors, your barrel accuracy etc? At those sorts of speed, meatsacks are out of the equation. You think that the head on angle helps? Nope, it's the tracking speed and accuracy that counts. Your Phalanx has about 1.5 seconds of firing time when the missile is in range, say 115 rounds spread across an assumed linear path of 2.2 miles. Chances are that it'll splash the water behind the missile a treat. Even if you score a hit, if the warhead doesn't detonate then you've got a (guessing) 2 tonne mass including something like a 300 kg warhead closing on your carrier at over a mile a second. Mass x velocity squared (with a warhead as well)......By the time any Tomahawks arrive to spread democracy in the world, the real sea battle would be long over. Now play out a more complex scenario where an adversary mixes a few hypersonic, supersonic, and subsonic missiles from different angles, to arrive at similar times. That needs a mere three weapons platforms - 3 aircraft, or 2 aircraft and one ship, or one aircraft and two missile boats etc. As your adversary I expend six missiles, and probably lose all three platforms - but you're down an 80,000 tonne aircraft carrier, and the aircraft that destroyed my weapons platforms don't have a carrier to come home to any more. And we haven't even discussed supercavitation torpedos, which amount to underwater missiles, nor maritime drones.

The day of the carrier as a ship of the line is over, just as the day of the dreadnought was over, as is the day of the battleship. Carriers are great for relief operations, for bombing third world nutcases, or showing the flag, but no use as a first rate military asset. Too big, too slow, too easy to hit.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How current is this?

Large ballistic missiles tend to be used against fixed targets.

That's true. The real missile threat to carriers is swarm attacks, or hypersonic anti-ship missiles. A swarm attack needn't have to overwhelm the defence radar systems by force of numbers - it merely needs to exhaust the (usually) cassette based missile defence systems, using relatively cheap, old tech missiles until the escort vessels are out. Hypersonic missiles are something where we've yet to see them proven in combat, but there's no convincing defence systems.

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Ledswinger
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Re: How current is this?

Funny how the Brits, the US, the Chinese, the Indians, the Italians, the South Koreans and the Turks all have carriers currently under construction and Russia and Brazil have announced plans for further carriers.

An aircraft carrier is (to admirals and politicians) a big, floating codpiece. They think it makes them look big and hard, projects the idea of vast military strength, even though they've always been vulnerable.

In WW2 26 aircraft & escort carriers were sunk out of about 125 actually in service. Since the majority were only commissioned in the period 1943-45, that's not very good odds. Now consider that there was no air to air refueling to extend land based aircraft range, radar was primitive, AEW non-existent, no homing or guided missiles, few homing torpedos, bombs were all dumb. Thinking what weapons are widely available now, and any realistic assessment would conclude that in the modern threat environment, aircraft carriers only have a use as a floating airfield against an enemy with no credible air force or sea power.

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Never mind the WPA2 drama... Details emerge of TPM key cockup that hits tonnes of devices

Ledswinger
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who else has the funds to pursue this kind of attack?

$40-60k is easily within the "investment" budget for organised crime.

Their main problem is how to convert the attack into some form of blockchain currency or cash, but some form of attack on banks, money transfer operators, or corporate treasury departments would seem the obvious way. That requires diverting money transfers to different destinations, making fraudulent transfers directly, or nobbling the commercial systems to grant loans that will then be cashed out, never to be seen again.

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Ernst & Young slapped with £1.8 MEEEELLION fine for crap accounting

Ledswinger
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Re: The Big 4

For a more meaningful comparison the £1.8m should be put in perspective to EY UK's revenue. It's still not going to ruin EY UK as in 2016 it was somewhere north of £2bn.

To take the precision down a further decimal place, EY Accountants LLP had (according to Companies House) turnover of £445m, and a profit available for distribution of £62.5m. Which tells us that the margin on accountancy services is about 14%, and the fine is therefore approaching 3% of last year's profit. That'll come out of the pocket of all partners, and they won't be happy, being a bunch of mercenary skinflints.

Regarding the quality aspect, the whole point of audit is to please the client, who pay the fee. Accordingly the auditors look to find some technical points for improvement to show they've done a great job, but really try and avoid looking too hard for toxic stuff. I can recall being asked to sign something that looked (to me) like dishonest reporting by a senior manager, and I queried it, and was told "<insert a big three letter accountancy firm> have agreed this with the director". I refused to comply and said "You won't mind signing it, then". Said senior manager gave me a sour look, but signed it (this was before PIDA, although fat lot of use that is). A few years later that company were fined £37m for fraudulent reporting. But the auditors were never named and shamed, or held to account.

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Brit intel fingers Iran for brute-force attacks on UK.gov email accounts

Ledswinger
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A kind reminder, the bend-over posture is the standard one to be assumed every time your overseas overlord is interested in your services.

You are Harvey Wankstein, and I claim my five pounds.

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Grant Shapps of coup shame fame stands by 'broadbad' research

Ledswinger
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Coup shame fame?

The only shame is that the dimwits of the Tory party didn't support the attempt to oust her, presumably because they can't see how useless and unelectable Theresa May is.

And the staggering thing is that having thrown away her parliamentary majority a few months back because of suicidal policies that pissed off people who would otherwise have been core votes, her idiot chancellor is currently trailing a budget to piss off even more of the Conservative voting base. Some people never learn.

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Beardy Branson chucks cash at His Muskiness' Hyperloop idea

Ledswinger
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stick the Virgin name on something...but get all his investment back in name licencing fees.

Lucky he didn't call his outfit BeardedBellEnd, that might not have been so lucrative, even if more accurate.

"The train approaching platform 6 is the late running 17:05 BeardedBellEnd Trains service to Manchester Piccadilly, calling at Milton Keynes Central, Crewe, Macclesfield and some other shite place."

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Ledswinger
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because a pair of iron rails is a hell of a lot cheaper.

If done properly. HS2 has been reported as costing over £400m per mile. For the 140m between London and Brum, that's £56bn (before the inevitable overspend). Assuming that we call interest at a mere 3%, and recover the depreciation over 50 years, that requires repayments of £2.1bn a year, Even if the London to Brum cost were recovered across all WCML intercity traffic (Virgin WC) of c10m journeys, that's an AVERAGE fare of £210.

Ignoring the pretend economics of HS2 traffic, extrapolate those costs to Hyperloop. Lets say it is only 50% more expensive, and we're looking at over £300 average fare, and that's for the busy bit between London and Birmingham. The remaining 250 miles to Glasgow, including the difficult geography north of Crewe is going to cost twice as much as a minimum, over the same number of journeys then your average fare is going to be in excess of £900. Obviously they'd try and match fares to journey length, but that means lower fares London-Brum, higher fares north of that - and on lower passenger volumes.

I think we can already say that this will never work financially.

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Ledswinger
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If English isn't your first language then forgiveness might just be available.

This dispensation is also be available to Merkins. But not Aussies, Kiwis, or Canucks, as you all know better. Well, apart from Maoris, Aboriginals, or other "indigenous peoples".

Québécois don't know better, but they get no dispensation on the grounds of being too French.

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Facebook, Twitter slammed for deleting evidence of Russia's US election mischief

Ledswinger
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Re: obligatory 1984 quote

They released an album in May of this year, they're still going.

Are you right?

Are you wrong?

Or are you just dreaming?

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Essex drone snapper dealt with by police for steamy train photos

Ledswinger
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@ DropBear

F*** you mate.

People working on the railway (or anywhere) should be entitled to go about their daily job without any ADDITIONAL risk of death or injury over and above the aspects that are inherent and unavoidable, and even then their employer has a very clear duty of care.

Sorry if that seems a bit aggressive, but I feel really strongly about this. I'm pretty right wing, even reactionary, but the day to day jobs that keep the human world tuning are done by people on low salaries and crap wages. The people who bash railway ballast back under the line, the people who scrape white collar workers' toilets clean, the people who maintain armco on the highways, why should they have to risk injury or death just doing a pretty poorly rewarded job?

I'm not asking you to socialise with these people (I don't), but at least accept that they should not be additionally endangered in their job by twat-head drone operators - or for that matter people speeding through roadworks, or other incremental hazard behaviours.

Alright. I retract and apologise for the "f*** you", but perhaps you might display a bit more humility about inflicting additional risk on other people? Please?

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