* Posts by MonkeyCee

560 posts • joined 16 Apr 2013

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Bitcoin outfit 'Tether' reveals US$31m BitBuck BitHeist

MonkeyCee
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Re: Tether is not Bitcoin

" most exchanges need a validated account before they will even let you trade Tether."

My understanding is that since Tether is tied directly to fiat, the rules for depositing and withdrawing it from exchanges are the same as for fiat. Which typically requires "proper" authentication, on the same lines as opening a bank account. If you push more than a certain volume through, you also have to do the various "know your customer" stuff for anti-money laundering.

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MonkeyCee
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As noted

"how are they going to enforce that the owner of bitcoins will not be able to convert to fiat currency? "

Because no bitcoins have been stolen?

Since the Tether tokens that where stolen have now been flagged, it should be possible to stop them being used. Well, so long as exchanges comply, but they are highly likely to. Won't be able to stop them being sold directly, but I'd expect people to be cautious of buying Tether outside of exchanges until this is sorted.

Rather than it being like a theft of cash, it's more like a theft of a chequebook. The issuing bank has contacted the other banks to flag those cheques as being invalid. So it shouldn't be possible for anyone to convert the cheques to cash at a bank.

Of course, writing a crypto story without including bitcoin in the headline will only get a fraction of the hits, so even the reg can't/won't be bothered explaining the details. Or perhaps the assumption (quickly disproved by a squiz BTL) that tech types actually understand the difference between the assorted currencies.

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Tesla launches electric truck it guarantees won't break for a million miles

MonkeyCee
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Re: Silent (but deadly) trucks on the roads?

My local electric bus does a "ding" sound like a tram, which seems to work well in a "less than horn" situation. It seems to do it on proximity by the cameras, as it regularly dings at cyclists coming past.

A number of youths around my town have also fitted their petrol cars with a warning devices, that makes a "unst unst unst" noise that is apparently a combination warning and mating call. I hope our trucking brethren can pick something equally appealing :)

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MonkeyCee
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People will buy a Semi EV - won't be Tesla

I've had to write a number of rather dull papers on competition in trucking, and have had the pleasure of knowing a few people who drove and owned semis for a living.

About 40% of truck sales go to people running one or two vehicles. They buy from a particular supplier almost entirely based on service for their particular area. Most drove Scania if they where picking up the tab and when (with my economist hat on) I asked what would be a substitute, they all responded with some variant of "I'd do something else other than drive a truck".

Unless Tesla can offer something that can beat a Scania (or equivalent, eyeball your local truck park) for loyalty and service, they won't find many people willing to lease them. If they are suited to a hybrid or an EV, then they will wait until Scania brings it one out.

Tesla isn't the only one with the ear of governments. I would have also hope Musk was a good enough engineer to recognise a great piece of pre-existing art and re-use it. Trolley trucks for the future :)

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US govt to use software to finger immigrants as potential crims? That's really dumb – boffins

MonkeyCee
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Joke

But the current system is already excellent

Reminds me of the old story.

A kindly grandmother is visiting the USA for the first time. She gets to immigration, who ask her "Are you planning to overthrow the government of the USA by force or by subversion?" she thinks for a moment and replies "I do not condone violence, so by subversion then"

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MonkeyCee
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Pre-cog

I do love the ideas that come out of government. In this case, please create a "pre-cog" machine that can accurately predict (for an individual) whether they are going to commit a crime* in the future.

And once we've built this amazingly powerful piece of technology, we'll only use it on..... the section of the population with the lowest criminal activity**. Not the politicians, not the judges, not the police, not the army, not the general population, just first generation immigrants, at the point of entry.

By the way, we already do have quite accurate predictions, based on populations rather than individuals. So if American weapons are supplied to oppressive regime A, a certain number of the people fighting A will add America to their list of countries to fuck with. However, pissing people off is considered an acceptable side effect of "redistributing the wealth" from brown people with mineral assets to white people with material assets.

* WTF is up with "crime and terrorism". Any act of terrorism is automatically a crime, albeit one with a political motive.

** 1st generation immigrants are much more law abiding than the general population. 2nd gen are about as law abiding as the general population.

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Parity: The bug that put $169m of Ethereum on ice? Yeah, it was on the todo list for months

MonkeyCee
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Re: Nothing is lost

" Ethereum will hard forked the code."

So your suggestion for "fixing" a third party developers clusterfuck is to unwind ~5 months of transactions, hard fork the blockchain, and then unicorns?

How about instead Parity gets sued for incompetence and goes bust?

Those wallets aren't "frozen", like some bank account under sanctions. They appear to have had another user added to the required signatories, then that user has been deleted. Thus the required signatures can never be obtained.

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Hey, cop! You need a warrant to stalk a phone with a Stingray – judge

MonkeyCee
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Re: What about me then?

IANAL. My layman's understanding of the major right/left pondian difference is that in the USA you have the concept of "fruit of the poisoned tree", in that all acts leading up to acquiring the evidence must also meet the same standards, otherwise the evidence is tossed out.

Hypothetically speaking if the police enter your property without the correct warrant (or other legal reason) and then discover your meth lab, then they won't be able to submit said meth lab into evidence, because there was not a legally correct route for them to have uncovered said evidence.

Hence why an identity parade is possibly being tossed out, because the cops couldn't have found the accused without having used a warrant required technique without the correct type of warrant.

In the UK you can have such evidence presented against you, unless the judge decides it's not kosher.

The expectations to privacy are also interpreted differently. IIRC the UK (and NZ) view is that your phone contacting a cell tower is a public communication, and therefore not a violation of your privacy if the filth know about it. What was actually communicated is private, but the location (and various other bits of meta data) isn't.

Obviously the US courts feel differently about this if a stingray is used, I'm curious if anyone knows their stance if a non-stingray method (cell tower triangulation etc) is used instead?

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How about that time Russian military used a video game pic as proof of US aiding ISIS?

MonkeyCee
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Re: Yeah, what about them?

"The mind boggles. I don't remember a single town that the US has liberated (flattened, yes)."

Since the US, UK and assorted others have yet to deploy "troops" on the ground, that would be pretty much impossible. The special forces who are training and supporting the various factions that the US does support are part of groups recapturing settlements, but for obvious reasons their role is downplayed.

The Kurds and the Iraqis have had significant allied support, and have captured *and held* the majority of previously ISIS territory.

The Syrian regime is not that interested in fighting ISIS, at least until only ISIS and it's ilk are the remaining opposition. They'd rather crush literally every other opposing group, with extreme prejudice, then point at ISIS and say "it's us or them".

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Donald Trump's tweets: Are they presidential statements or not?

MonkeyCee
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Dear John.....

"Am I correct in thinking the primary point of the article is that ambiguity in presidential communications is bad?"

Yes

" I agree, and we are given two contrasting examples, Trump and Obama. Obama chose to have two separate Twitter accounts while Trump has only one."

No. read the article, 30 seconds of googling, or just consult your own memory. There are 3 twitter accounts being discussed here. The personal account of BO, the personal account of DJT and the POTUS account. BO kept his personal and POTUS account separate, and did not publicly tweet from his personal account while he was in office. Thus for BO, the POTUS account where clearly public statements from his position as POTUS, and stuff on his personal account was personal opinion. DJT has combined both his personal account and the POTUS account, and makes statements from both.

Hopefully you can see how these two situations are pretty much complete opposites. Separate accounts for Obama, combined accounts for Trump. Obama's tweets are clear as to which role he is in at the time, not so for Trump.

" All communications from such a person are relevant and important, by definition. "

No, FFS. A statement from your official position is different from a statement made as a private citizen. It should be clear what "hat" you are wearing at the time. It's not clear which one Trump is using, and it's clear if Trump even understands the separation between himself and his role as POTUS.

"Question. Was that "Official" Obama account ever actually used for something official, with real teeth?"

Are you serious? OK, lets be clear, Barry was a lawyer. Lawyers, as a rule, don't go around trying to do official business via social media. They tend to be fond of dead trees, parchment, procedures, all that sort of thing. So no, Obama did not use twitter for anything involving legally binding communication. It seemed to just be another form of press release, albeit direct rather than via the media.

Just a general note, if you can't explain a persons actions on their own merits, employing whataboutary is a clear indication that those actions where indefensible.

Clinton and Obama are not in government, are not currently running for government, and have been so for a year now. If it's really someone elses fault then you really need to move your scapegoats onto something else. Deep state, MSM, fluoride in the water, RINOs, take your pick. None are as appealing to certain elements as "that damn woman" and the cheeky Kenyan, but you'll make do :)

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How about that US isle wrecked by a hurricane, no power, comms... yes, we mean Puerto Rico

MonkeyCee
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It's been a little while since I checked, but I believe that PR was in fact already bankrupt (or insolvent at least) before the latest hurricane season.

How they got there is a typical mix of government pissing around, greed, and being one of those odd bits of the USA that aren't a state.

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MonkeyCee
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Re: Standards needed

Strange, I thought Trump was very keen on sticking it to PR. Well, to the Mayor at least. He's also very keen on explaining just how awesome *his* response to the disasters has been, without actually doing anything to fix the situation.

For example, look at the difference in mobilisation of FEMA. Did you vote for Trump? Then lets get cracking! Don't wait on that dumb paperwork. You don't get to vote for president at all? Well, we'll need that requisition form in triplicate, with a business case for each item, submitted before said disater occurred.

The US response has been lackluster. What's the point in having massive projection of naval power if you can't use it to save your own citizens. I'd make jokes about the French and Dutch being more militarily effective than the USA or the Brits, but that stopped being funny after about five years of the GWOT. Bit of sad day when the leader of the free world is French, but c'est la vie.

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Harry Potter to get the Pokémon GO treatment

MonkeyCee
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Ingress

"It's a pity when you consider that their first game Ingress had way more interesting mechanics, whether for playing solo or in a team."

As I understand it, Ingress was much more of a "go to cool/weird/difficult place and do stuff" game, with the urban explorer types being big fans, whereas PoGo was aimed at a very different crowd. There's also a pretty clear domination of a particular school for PoGo, which seemed pretty obvious to me. Red is pick your strongest, yellow is go for your instinct, blue is pick the best one for the situation. People who only grind out their min/max mons prtty much are guaranteed to be blue.

Almost every "OMG teh dangerz!" post about PoGo locations where all pretty reasonable (IMHO) Ingress locations. The swimming platform in Oriental Parade, Wellington is apparently fine for people to swim out to, had been a regular spot for people doing Ingress (via kayak), but was a terribly unsafe place for PoGo because the player base are idiots.

I suspect the HP game will be much the same. Everyone either gryf or slyth, idiots ignoring real life dangers etc....

I'll stick to my hufflepuff incantations - Spliffus Ignitius!

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You wanted robo-butlers. Instead, you're getting robo-BOFHs

MonkeyCee
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Why AI?

I'm reading a little into the article here, but my assumption is they are already doing this. Something breaks, they get an alert, and it gets fixed. More steps in the real world, but that's the general principle.

If you then feed an AI (in this case machine learning) with your test data, which in this case would be your server logs and service record. Then the AI should be able to be given some new data from a different source (such as current logs), and make some sort of prediction about expected service required.

Depending how you're defining your model of success/failure, it should enable people to at least process log files quicker, by flagging up stuff as either recognised behaviours that are OK, things that appear to be going wrong right now, stuff that appears to be going wrong in the near future, and stuff that is just unexpected.

This is exactly the sort of thing AI is great for. Taking an existing data processing task done by humans and automating as much as possible, freeing up the meatsacks to do something more productive. The AI might be no good at diagnosing a solution, but it will be excellent at picking up the warning signs.

So the AI hopefully will pick up potential faults that humans missed, which makes perfect sense. You need a level of reporting other than pass/fail, but the more detail, the more noise in the data. Even skimming out the "working as expected" and "temp fault but now working" messages there will be many more false positives than true positives. Or you've got other more pressing problems.

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Not even ordering pizza is safe from the browser crypto-mining scourge

MonkeyCee
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Re: It could be worse...

It's not BTC, it's Monero (XMR).

Monero is designed to be as anonymous as possible, and thus could be viewed as being a deliberate attempt at a "dark" crypto coin.

AFAIK it's only profitable to mine on a CPU, 10-20 cents profit per core every 24 hours for a Ryzen 5, Xeon or i7. That's with something written in C run locally, no idea what the coinhive code runs like.

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Google on flooding the internet with fake news: Leave us alone, we're trying really hard... *sob*

MonkeyCee
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Re: Not their job

"Can we fix things like important decisions being made by elderly men who believe being gay is a deplorable crime?"

Well no. Apparently anyway.

Even in the most tolerant of Western societies*, even after lengthy battles against discrimination, even after gay marriage being legalised, about 20% of the adult population not only think that homosexuality should be criminalised, but also are willing to publically admit this. Northern Europe it's about 25%, maybe 30% in Southern Europe and USA, and 30-50% for the rest of the world.

So unfortunately it's not tied to old men, it's pretty universal across the demographic spectrum.

*for LGBTQ stuff, which is Oz and NZ apparently

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Parity calamity! Wallet code bug destroys $280 MEEELLION in Ethereum

MonkeyCee
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Re: Oh dear

"I feel a snigger coming on. Imagine the Bitcoin price will halve tomorrow. Risk and all that."

So despite this having exactly nothing to do with bitcoin, or any bitcoin wallets, or anything other than a particular multi sig wallets for ETH, it's apparently going to cause a massive crash. Even ETH had only a minor bump from this, while BTC seems to have not even been affected.

Now, as for silly buggers trusting wallet software that has already been compromised and had funds stolen (with an integer overflow attack) is a fair point. And I'm not quite sure how they managed this latest clusterfuck, but I expect it'll be another "coding for dummys" level error.

Oh, and there are plenty of ways to trade BTC. including the usual derivatives. If you're so sure that the price is going to tank, short it and make a killing. If you're sure enough to post you should be sure enough to trade.

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Tesla share crash amid Republican bid to kill off electric car tax break

MonkeyCee
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Re: No surprise

"So the real question for the promoters, is what really has changed since 1910?"

Well, we don't hand crank our cars anymore. We use an electric motor, powered by a battery.

There's also been a few advances in battery technology. Here's a paper on energy density increases in batteries:

http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2011/EE/c0ee00777c#!divAbstract

Roughly a 10 fold increase in battery density over the last 100 years.

There are also plenty of EVs that have been in use the whole time, that somehow don't count, because they ween't for general road consumption. Used to have my milk delivered by one, and the forklifts at the first warehouse I worked in where all electric. Something about combustion engines suffocating you in an enclosed space or some such.

Framing this as EV vs combustion is foolish. We'll still need both, hybrid designs are going to more practical for many situations, and it's going to be a while before batteries match the energy density of a hydrocarbon. Commuting could be done with all EVs, but I wouldn't like to try farming or forestry without petrol.

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MonkeyCee
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Re: The US has an inverted system

It's Big John.

Wealthy conservatives have "earned" that money by correctly either inheriting it, or by allowing us the pleasure of working for them. Their wealth is morally just, and is not at all any sort of socialism, redistribution of wealth or unfair playing field. Their tax breaks are rightly earned, since tax is basically theft.

Liberals are automatically wrong. Thus their money must have always come from dubious provenance, with not nearly enough exploitation or forelock tugging that adds moral heft to wealth. Since we wouldn't have liberals in any proper capitalist system, they must only exist by having been given unfair benefits. Thus any tax breaks for liberals are a double theft, since they clearly could only have money from government handouts, so they must need a second dose.

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So, tell us again how tech giants are more important than US govt...

MonkeyCee
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Re: So much bullshit

"Get a better info source, my friend."

Care to cite yours then?

Soros being painted as the cackling jew master manipulating snowflakes is a pretty common theme on certain alt-fact sites, but claiming he's the ONLY one running the mad libs is pretty impressive even then.

As for information sources, you're usually stuck with a choice between an edited and fact checked media (where the facts are presented to produce a certain narrative) and the alt-media who have a very clear narrative that is entirely independent of verifiable facts. Then the various sides get to argue about whose narrative is more appealing.

If you're lucky, you can get a look at the reality of a situation, which almost always is going to be massively more complex and nuanced than anything that will make it into the media. But since "it's complicated" and "it's not just about choosing team red or team blue" aren't popular on either side of the aisle, it's doubtful if anyone will pay attention to you.

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MonkeyCee
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Re: Applying pressure on Twitter

" Previously they were more or less beholden to the liberal press for getting out their stances,"

I hear that there not only is there a TV network dedicated to the GoP perspective, but that Trump watches it with great regularity and likes to tweet about it.

So now you have a BS story aired on Fox (which they disavow pretty quickly once the lawyers get involved), but by that time it's been tweeted on by Trump, and then it's suddenly total fact. Because POTUS would never open his mouth without making sure his facts tally with some form of reality.

"If the Left were to just cool it for a while,"

If Trump managed to go 24 hours without provoking a scandal, or having one of his many existing scandals float to the surface, then the media coverage on his actions might die down.

But then there might be some awkward looking at how Trump's policies and political appointments are going on. Like the continuing failure to actually staff many agencies, which is either incompetence or deliberate sabotage. But he's pushing through judicial appointments (which I believe are for life) like no-ones business.

Too many people are focusing on the dumpster fire that is DJT, and not on what the GoP is working away on behind the scenes. But DJT loves the attention and the GoP (like all politicians) would rather people looked elsewhere while they go about the business of ruling the country.

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A draft US law to secure election computers that isn't braindead. Well, I'm stunned! I gotta lie down

MonkeyCee
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postal votes

Personally I don't understand why there needs to be an election "day" and physical presence to do my democratic duty. Make it easier to postal vote, perhaps even allowing you to vote, online, in advance.

I've also seen (but can't for the life of me recall where) a theoretical system where a total vote tally is publicly visible, your individual vote is only visible with your own key. Thus you can check your vote is still correct whilst still preserving some anonymity.

Not that it really matters, the big political parties are very good at predicting what issues affect you individually and what will (and won't) persuade you to vote.

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Bored 'drivers' pushed Google Waymo into ditching autopilot tech

MonkeyCee
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Re: MUCH less of a problem on airplanes

"There isn't anything to hit up in the sky, and if there is it is seen with radar from miles away giving the pilot far more time to react than a driver would have when an emergency situation happens on the road. "

I'll leave out any comment on managing air-to-air collisions, the main thing that aircraft fatally collide with is the ground. There's the issue that flying a plane in many conditions requires relying on your sensors, and making allowances when those sensors get fouled up. Which is pretty hard to do for a computer, hence why we have trained meatbags.

In the example of Air France 447, it took 4 minutes from the pitot tube freezing up (which meant airspeed was not able to be measured correctly) for the pilots to take the aircraft to it's maximum operating height, stall, and then into the ground.

It's not even clear that the pilots realised that they where descending rather than flying level, or even if they realised that the aircraft had switched over to alternate law (flight control computer doesn't have enough information to exercise control) rather than normal law.

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Vietnam bans Bitcoin as payment for anything

MonkeyCee
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Re: dodgy dealings

"If you had a business that only accepted CASH and you were then able to use that "money" to buy all your worldly needs, it would be untraceable and therefore untaxable. The business would also be unaccountable - literally - and could deal illegally without fear of being found out."

I've replaced BTC with cash. Notice how it's the exact same problem, yet somehow we manage to tax cash only businesses, and also catch people who are operating illegal businesses too.

Having a legitimate business that *only* accepts BTC is tricky, as you are usually obligated to accept the local currency. But having one that only accepts cash is perfectly legal.

If you're really keen on avoiding taxes then an accountant will give you a far better result than crypto.

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MonkeyCee
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Re: Please enlighten me.

Or maybe we're just not full of shit?

Here's a couple of sites that will give you an estimate of the fees for a transaction. It's $2-$4 at the moment depending how quickly you want it verified.

https://bitcoinfees.21.co/

https://bitcoinfees.info/

Since you're posting AC, I presume that your objection is actually based on personal views, rather than any of those dull fact things. I'm basing this on your need to make up facts or make factor of 10 errors in order to support a conclusion.

In the future, I'd suggest a quick google, or counting the zeros. Or just that your answer doesn't make sense, so perhaps the calculations might be in error.

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MonkeyCee
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Re: Please enlighten me.

" I can not imagine a single reason why someone would want to use anonymous fund transfers"

Bitcoin is not inherently anonymous. Monero is (by design), and you can use various forms of transactions (tumblers, transferring balance between exchanges) to mask your activities with various amounts of success, but it's not inherently hidden.

You might notice that for the various ransomware stories, even non-tech journalists can work out how much money has arrived at a particular wallet, hence the reporting on exactly how much has been extorted.

As for usage, for all the whining about various aspects of it, I have yet to be conned or left out of pocket by a BTC transaction. As compared to about 5% of sales using credit cards or Paypal. It's pretty much the same as cash in terms of cashflow, so is preferable to people paying on account. So from my perspective as a seller it's *more* safe than anything other than cash in hand. Even bank transfers can be pulled back in certain circumstances. If you sell services then you have almost no protection against chargebacks.

I would advise being very careful about where the thought that "is used for illegal activity" line of reasoning takes you. Criminals use many otherwise legitimate things, but we don't criminalise them unless they are used in a crime. Dollars, euros or pounds are used for more criminal activity than all crypto combined. Oh, and finding the actual beneficiary of a bank account when they have made an effort to obscure it is often harder than finding a crypto wallet, and will have greater legal protections.

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A future of AI-generated fake news photos, hands off machine-learning boffins – and more

MonkeyCee
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Current laws apply

For ML and related disciplines, it's not the new laws you need to worry about, it's the existing ones.

If your decision system is a black box, you really should do some thorough testing to ensure it's not going to make a decision that would be illegal if made by a human. Also testing to ensure the system can't be gamed or manipulated would be good to.

But many people don't like doing that testing because it shows that the magic black box doesn't in fact work very well. Or more exactly, the training data was insufficient. Hence why you end up with facial recognition programs that can't tell the difference between a gorilla and a black person, because the data set used only contained images of white people.

Even more fun is anti-discrimination laws. You are not allowed to discriminate based on various protected categories* even if there is a factual basis for the conclusion. You are also not allowed to infer someones protected categories from other information. So you can't offer a woman cheaper car insurance because they female, and females have a lower rate of accidents. You also can't "ignore" the gender, but then use the fact that they have had a name change when getting married to conclude they are likely to be a woman, thus cheaper to insure.

You can, if you're clever, find other ways around this**. But you have to ensure that your application is in fact using that information, and not the other. So any black box system that is relied upon in any way is asking for trouble. Worse still, that black box might well be making correct factual conclusions that you are not allowed to use, but you are not aware of.

* in general anything the nazi's would put you in a camp for. Race, religion, gender, age, membership of a political organisation etc.

** for car insurance, you can look at what type of car they are insuring, individual accident rate, income, annual mileage and driver monitoring, which together usually manage to make a more accurate prediction than the simple gender+age model

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A picture tells a 1,000 words. Here's about 750 on Facebook using pics to school AI translators

MonkeyCee
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Re: Computer translation is terrible

@Irongut

I was about to post exactly the same thing. Roughly a third of the time when I'm using some auto translation service (Google is worse than others admittedly) from Dutch to English it adds or removes a negative in the sentence. For train tickets it almost always translates "may only be used after 0900" to "may not be used after 0900". That's from simple sentences in standard Dutch.

It's something that should be easily available to check with many other examples online, the terms and conditions are often available in English too, so I can't understand how it's still failing to get simple translations exactly reversed.

It's also pretty iffy for translating Dutch legalese, with again many switching of negatives, but I accept that there are not always going to be decent examples for my particular case.

Relying on auto translate without any context is asking for trouble. I've also not found many ML/AI/programs that can take a statement and context and provide any sort of subtext. So how translating meaning is going to work I'm at a loss.

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Healthcare insurance cheat-bot bros Zenefits cough up $1m to make SEC probe go away

MonkeyCee
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Re: Source code available?

Based on my experience with certain MS/Cisco "qualifications" you could probably get away with just putting them on your CV anyway. It's not like anyone checks these things, until after they've been hired.

The one that took the biscuit was the "CCNA" who didn't understand what I meant by "can you ping it?" when asking about accessing a certain bit of kit. Not as in "what's the command?" but just complete incomprehension about ping and trace route. I think his team had an inkling of his uselessness, since he'd been dumped onto service desk for his first few weeks.

Last I checked he was still in the same job, six years later.

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Rob Scoble's lawyer told him to STFU about sex pest claims. He didn't

MonkeyCee
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Listen to your lawyer

What IAS said :)

There's a good reason in certain situations you hire a professional to do a job for you. Lawyers ain't cheap, so if you are in a situation where you have hired one, you really should follow their advice. They are bound to give you the best advice they can, so you should probably heed it.

If you want to fight it out in the court of public opinion, again you should hire a professional. Who will undoubtedly work in conjunction *with* your lawyer to get you the best result. Either one would have advised against this sort of public statement. It's going to count against you in to many ways.

Even if you want to be completely honest, are entirely contrite and willing to accept your punishment, you should probably follow your lawyers advice.

Unless you want to be a martyr for your cause.

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

MonkeyCee
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Re: Ransom demands in BitCoin again

"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?"

It would set a very dangerous precedent. If $thing is used for illegal laundering of money, then accepting payments for $thing is an accesory to a crime, then a whole range of things would be in danger of being banned. Real estate, cash, gold, trusts, off shore companies, etc etc.

The amount that crooks use BTC for is peanuts compared to almost any other system. Have a look at estimates of the illegal drugs, arms and people smuggling economies, there isn't enough BTC around to transact a fraction of them. By far the most common currency of crime is the greenback, then the euro, and so on. Cocaine is probably used more as an illegal currency than BTC, and it turns out that it's already pretty illegal. Property and real estate development is used for more money laundering than you can imagine, and even the Chinese are having trouble stopping that.

The authorities can also use existing legislation on proceeds of crime. If you appear to have a bunch of assets with no record of acquiring them and no visible income, then you can get investigated and charged, without needing to ban the ownership of any of the assets you acquired. Explaining away a million bucks buried in a backyard or a million in BTC/Monero is trickier. You can't even go "oh, I mined it back in the day" since a quick squiz at the blockchain will pretty quickly show you didn't.

So we don't ban cash because criminals use it, thus we don't ban BTC for the same reasons. However, if you have a bunch of cash without a legitimate reason, then that can be considered suspicious, ditto for BTC et al.

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Credit insurance tightens for geek shack Maplin Electronics

MonkeyCee
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Re: You cant have it both ways

"And lots of gambling dens, just lately - I imagine the licensing laws have been relaxed because it's that or empty shops."

That's because the most profitable part of a betting shop is the fixed odds betting terminal (computer roulette). There is a massive usage of them by a combination of gambling addicts and people laundering money. To curb this, they are limited to a set number (4 IIRC) per shop. So it's profitable to open a second shop next to the current one, just for the FOBT.

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Do fear the Reaper: Huge army of webcams, routers raised from 'one million' hacked orgs

MonkeyCee
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Re: You wouldn't let your pet do this...

"Same way we regulate dog / cat owners to make sure that they can enjoy their pet without forcing everyone else to clean up after it?"

In other words, we don't. Someone *might* get fined if they are caught letting their dog defecate in public, but in general very few of the offenders get caught or even punished.

I've yet to see anyone punished for their cat shitting somewhere. Or their cat killing other people's pets. Or anything to do with a moggy really. Seen someone get banned form having more cats, and having their herd of ~40 cats spayed and neutered at their cost, but that's about it.

The local dog owners let their animals shit in public spaces and nowt is done about it (well, it's cleaned up, but that's a tax on everyone). Several of the local cats shit in my garden, and again, nothing will get done about it.

Well, if I really want them to stop, I plant catnip. Which then leads to a a drug war, with suitably loud turf fights in my garden. But no shitting....

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Your data will get hacked anyway so you might as well give up protecting it

MonkeyCee
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Re: You'll be revived on mars, or worse...

"I do wonder if there's a legal mechanism to retain ownership of an investment portfolio ( managed on your behalf by a firm, of course ) when your brain has been frozen."

A trust would work (IANAL) I expect. In the UK they pay 1% tax every 10 years and allow avoidance of death duties if the beneficiary changes, even if that change is due to death.

I expect the problem would be in ensuring that the day-to-day trust management doesn't help themselves, or that your descendants (or worse, the state) decides to seize the trust, and expect you to file a response.

Perhaps a series of trusts, paying people to watch over other people, that sort of thing.

Personally it all sounds like a scam for extracting a lot of money for rich people with little potential downside. It's not like defrosting tech has been ever shown to work for humans, so there's no actual enforceable contract. Well, maybe the "keep you on ice until you can't pay the bills" part.

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Watchdog slams HMRC, Amazon over 'dismal' response to UK biz hurt by online VAT fraud

MonkeyCee
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Re: Simplify taxes and make fair

Even easier than a LVT (which will end up directly on rents) is to hire more staff at the tax department. Enforce the current laws, and get a wee bit stricter on those taking the piss.

Personally I think a wealth tax rather than an income tax is a far better idea, in principle. Wages have been so depressed relevant to inflation over the last ~40 years that things that have remained roughly the same relative value (land, property, precious metals) appear to be amazing investments rather than just holding in place.

So wages have shrunk, but it's still the main place where tax is collected.

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Brit spooks 'kept oversight bodies in the dark' over data sharing

MonkeyCee
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Expectation of privacy

"Stupid people perhaps."

IANAL, but assuming you have an option when posting to set a visibility to "everyone, everywhere" and "just my mates please", and you choose the latter, you have a (legal) expectation of privacy.

That most people know that the piss will be taken, doesn't mean you lose that right.

This is in much the same way that you have an expectation of privacy in your own home/hotel room etc. So if you wander around in the buff, and someone takes pictures from a public space outside (or other place a photographer could legally be), then the photographer is violating the expected right to privacy. Yes, wandering around naked and being shocked that someone took some snaps is perhaps "stupid" but it doesn't change the fact that the people taking the pictures are the criminals.

GCHQ et al are allowed* to scoop up public data, which is anything where you don't have an expectation of privacy. Driving your car on a public highway does not confer any expectation of privacy, for example. If they want to do something that crosses that threshold, then there is supposed to be some sort of warrant like process. Exactly what aspects of meta data are public or private is always going to be a bit of a bun fight.

Just to note, this is not (and never will be) about the gathering of information on actual targets. If the security services believes you are dangerous enough to get a warrant, even a secret one, then all bets are off. This is about collecting data on people that have yet to come up on the radar.

* well, now I think they're pretty much allowed to do anything, and then get it retroactively legalized.

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NYC cops say they can't reveal figures on cash seized from people – the database is too shoddy

MonkeyCee
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Re: The reason for forfeiture laws

"That is the real reason to confiscate anything that was purchased with illegal money."

But that's the kicker here. It's not.

The assets are seized WITHOUT any evidence of their provenance. The state is allowed to assume they are illegal until they are proved legal. Since proving that to a court of law is in the region of thousands (10k being quoted here, I'd expect at least 2k), it provides a perverse incentive to seize smaller amounts.

If you seize a million bucks of a drug dealers property, you can bet that they will have a well paid lawyer (and accountant) who can sue and get some amount of the assets back (or just pick the cops up on procedural failings). If you seize $500 from Joe Public, then Joe Public either sucks it up orforks out even more.

I'm not against the principle, going after the proceeds of crime seems very reasonable. But that typically requires (in my mind) to at least prove a crime happened first.

Or, if we're going to use this to police our potentially dodgy but unconvinced not-crims, then lets start at the top. Going by estimated wealth, starting with the richest, every American has to prove they legitimately own their own property. Anything they can't fully demonstrate being paid for by legitimately earned and taxed monies gets seized.

Oooh, and how about corporations? They commit crimes and gain profit from them. Bugger all this fines and compliance nonsense, you made illegal income, seize the whole corporation....

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No, the FCC can't shut down TV stations just because Donald Trump is mad at the news

MonkeyCee
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Trumpeters whataboutary

Just a general observation.

Why is it acceptable when the current POTUS is criticized for the way they are running things, for their defenders to use "whatabout Clinton? Eh Eh EH?" as defence?

Trump's been in power for nearly a year. Other than handing out cabinet positions to billionaires and generals (who needs civilian control of the military? Wall Street should administer Wall Street!) and reprinting previously successful executive orders what has he done? Has he successfully followed up on any of his campaign policies? Or has he made a risible effort ("turns out healthcare is complex, who knew?") made some excuses then moved on?

Yeah, Clinton was part of the establishment, and I'm sure we'd all be in FEMA camps facing death panels with all our guns taken away from us if she'd been elected, but she's not enough of a bogeyman to justify the crap that this administration is pulling.

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MonkeyCee
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Re: Actually

To make sure this in context, I strongly disagree with fascist sentiments, whatever they are dressed up as. Left, right, nationlistic, ethnic whatever. If you are advocating might is right and some other group is to blame for all the ills of the world, then it's very clear down what path things will go.

Trump used his wealth and influence (well, Daddy's wealth and influence) to avoid the draft five times. He then pisses on the people in service whenever it suits him (ie when they aren't sucking up to him). Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross TWICE, and after being wounded went back to the front rather than fully recuperate.

They aren't even on the same page as far as character goes.

Hitler's actions where still horrific.

Luckily Trump is pretty incompetent at running the country. If he had any real ability to move his agenda forward, it would be dangerous. Pence is genuinely scary, since he actually understands the leavers of power. The First Lady probably has a better understanding of how the branches of government function, along with minor details like hand on heart during anthem, that sort of thing.

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Man prosecuted for posting a picture of his hobby on Facebook

MonkeyCee
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Re: Apology esp @Adam 52

@Kiwi

The NZ cops are a real mixed bag these days. There where some seriously corrupt officers in the past, and there's a bit of a hangover legacy from them. There is also a new generation who despise the previous lot. You get to see the resulting bunfight whenever one of the old guard starts angling for a top position, and they either get told to foxtrot oscar or their nasty deeds will find their way into the dom post.

The NZ cops also have terrible legal advice. They often manage to fuck up evidence gathering, get told by the courts why it was a fuckup* and then carry on doing the same thing. Then when the prosecution falls over due to the dodgy evidence, they just carry on doing the same.

In the late 80's, a kiwi friend of mine was walking on oriental parade in wellytown, when a cop car with three fellows in drove onto the footpath. One cop hopped out, told my friend to get lost, and grabbed the chap they had been looking for (apparently). The two cops in the car backed it up, and parked up about 50m down the road, facing away from the first cop.

My mate then backs up a bit, takes out his notepad (OG roleplayer) and starts writing down what's happening. First cop gets pretty physical with their suspect (shoving him into a park bench, yelling in his face, grabbing by the throat), other cops look the other way, turning round every so often to check things haven't gotten out of hand.

After 20 minutes or so, the angry cop leaves the suspect, makes some muttered comment to my mate, and walks back to the cop car, and the fine fella's in blue drive off. My mate goes and talks to the (rather distressed) chap, and gives him his details saying he will back him up.

Fast forward nine months, complaint has been made about the cops conduct, my mate is in court being questioned by the police brief. After a bit of verbal foreplay, the lawyer suggests that my mates recall of the events is wrong, and the police version of three of them questioning a mentally unstable agitated suspect is correct. My friend produced his notepad, and went through the series of events, contradicting the cops story with highly specific testimony. Cops brief went white when he saw the notepad.

The cops story relied on the cop car being parked in a fairly specific spot, since they where clear about where they had come from, when they saw the suspect, and how they pulled up (and all supposedly left the car), and how they hadn't done a u-turn and where parked facing the "wrong" way. Unfortunately for them, there where roadworks at the time, so there was only a single direction in which they could have parked (and also why they had driven onto the pavement).

In the end, complaint upheld, assorted charges against the chap where dropped, administrative punishment for the cops involved. My mate got pulled over a lot in the next few years, but other than speeding and thoughtcrime he's a pretty well behaved chap.

Quite a few years later, my friend saw a picture of one of the cops who had been in the car. He'd just been convicted for perverting the course of justice by deliberately causing a second mistrial in a very public case involving (you guessed it) NZ cops on trial. Good to see that some things never change.

If you're in NZ and you're not sure which breed of cop you've got, always opt for the lady officer. They tend to be smart, capable and actually able to deal with certain entrenched criminal elements. After dealing with the shit they get from colleagues, dealing with proper crims is a walk in the park :)

* in public, a civvy can take pictures of anything that doesn't invade someones privacy. The cops need a warrant or court order so that the recordings can be evidence. The cops where getting away with this for about 15 years until it was challenged in a political case (terrorism).

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More and more websites are mining crypto-coins in your browser to pay their bills, line pockets

MonkeyCee
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Re: This post is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously

"But electricity cost more in Britain than other places, so we are being discriminated against."

Erm, you what now? Apart from the fact that there's no VAT on power costs in the UK (last I checked), the UK has cheaper power than Germany, Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Austria, Portugal and Sweden.

No discrimination here. Massive gouging by utility companies I'm sure, but that's always been the plan with privitisation.

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Gartner says back-to-school PC sales failed. IDC says they worked

MonkeyCee
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Re: Plus

"You're the 10th person to ask for that today. We don't stock it. No demand."

I take it you've never worked retail then :)

It's much more like:

"Certainly, here is our selection of souped up netbooks and dinky chromebooks"

"Hmm, these are not powerful enough, and the hard drives have numbers that make me cry"

"Alrighty, here is our selection of elitebooks"

"These are great, but waaay too expensive. I'd like the same thing only cheaper please"

"OK, here's a flipbook from Asus, it's kinda in the middle of these things"

"Keyboard is spongy, it's too expensive for it's specs, and Asus ran over my dog and stole my lover, so I never buy their kit"

etc etc etc

Almost always what someone wants can be had, just for a higher price than they are willing to pay. Laptops don't have a massive price difference between quality levels, a professional high end jobby (~1k) will be roughly twice the price of a mid level consumer one (450-500). Contrast that with power tools, where a professional model is typically 4-5 times the cost of a consumer model.

I'm also confused when people need to buy a laptop for work, and complain about the cost. If it's an essential tool, then it's a cost you factor into your fees, and assuming your accountant isn't an idiot, it should be a tax write off in some form or another. At the very least you should get the VAT (or local equivalent) back.

Back to the matter at hand, if any laptop manufacturer started using nice keyboards again (glares at Lenova) they'd have my business in a heartbeat. But touch typing is apparently another niche case, some laptop keyboards make me want to smash them after maybe a minute of typing. So I'm as fed up as everyone else is about the lack of real choice, and all I can do is vote with my wallet. Which for me is cheap, cheerful and disposable with about as much CPU/RAM as decent smartphone ;)

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MonkeyCee
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Re: Plus

"Designed by whom? By marketing of course. "

Well yes. Designed to make sure they make a profit, designed to be able to get into shops. Bear in mind you only get a consumer device* in shops if it's gone past a huge amount of approvals, focus groups, etc etc. Since it's easier to repeat the previous success than try something new, you end up with everything looking like clones.

I should also point out that having a niche desire doesn't mean what you want is wrong. It's just a case that there isn't enough demand for similar machines to justify making a large production run to give economies of scale. Therefore if the product you want exists, it will be more expensive than the other options.

* with perhaps the exception of crowdfunding,

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MonkeyCee
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Re: Plus

"Just seems to be very little choice in laptop market, most slavishly following a few "Niches" "

No offence, but your desire is extremely niche, and the laptop market is very much mass marketed. Students want A4 sized laptops, and not really much smaller. Elitebooks come in small sizes, but probably come under the too expensive option.

The laptop and consumer desktop market is designed around price points, not features. So you have a ~200 low end machine, 4-500 mid spec, ~750 good spec, ~1000 for full swank. The two most expensive options come in big screen or small screen varieties.

Very few people are going to want the combination of mid spec and small screen. Same way that very few people need a serial port, or various other niche designs. Or as another poster was complaining about a few weeks back, a large screen with low spec.

Laptops are always going to be some amount of compromise. Accept that if you're not willing to compromise on your hardware needs, then you need to compromise on price. Oh, and if you're complaining about something being "ludicrously overpriced" it's best to state what kind of budget you have, and what you'd expect for it.

So let us know your budget, min spec and nice-to-haves and we'll see what we can come up with. :)

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Rejecting Sonos' private data slurp basically bricks bloke's boombox

MonkeyCee
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Re: It’s not for El Reg readers, is it.

Speaking as someone from the UK born in 1980 and educated in the state school system, I must have been really lucky. My history teacher made us go through sources, and construct what had happened versus what was claimed to have happened.

I learnt more about how the UK functions, how Parliament works, the mechanics of sovereignty in a constitutional monarchy*, the various struggles to get the vote for groups other than wealthy male landowners, Peterloo and the general reformation movement. This was all in year 7-9, so before it became an elective, thus we all got a piece of it.

In various debates online, it's clear that there is a great deficit in understanding civics in the UK, unless you went to one of the schools for the future ruling class. It's almost like there's been a long ongoing struggle between those elites who hold the majority of the capital (and power), their lackeys, and the rest of the population.

Most of the millennials I've talked to about the surveillance stuff are just as bothered about it as the old farts, they are just resigned to the fact that governments will do what they want, and when caught will punish the whistle blowers and then change the laws to retroactively legalise their actions. They also assume that they can and will be tracked, and that protesting doesn't change anything.

As for which generation is at fault, it's the boomers. Sorry if you're part of it, but they've managed to screw over the previous and future generations by taking getting their kids to pay for their education, healthcare and pensions, whilst cutting the same for the following generations. For every $1 in tax the boomers paid, they received $4 of government spending. But don't you worry, it's all gen x/y/millenials fault :)

* Broadly speaking the monarch is sovereign, on the condition that they leave the actual running of things to the government formed of the majority of the elected representatives. Thus sovereignty passes from the Crown to parliament at the start of each session. Makes the Queens speech more interesting, as that's her formally handing over her rule each time.

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Microsoft is Putin a stop to Russian-sanctions-busting IT resellers

MonkeyCee
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Re: President Putin's nation

"Russia is not a President Putin's nation"

Sure sure, it's not Putin's nation. No idea where that could have sprung from. It's not like Putin controls who is allowed on the election ballets, or that any opposition parties seem to run into massive legal and logistical problems, or that the media is state controlled, or that journalists get murdered for questioning the regime.

It's not like Putin serves two terms, then becomes PM for a term, then back to being president. Or when asked what he'd like to do after being president, his reply is that he's not sure he's done being president just yet.

We'll stop calling it Putin's Russia when he steps down as it's leader. Which is safe to say probably won't be until he dies. The smooth transition of power that is a hallmark of a democracy is, I suspect, going to be absent.

I've said it before and said it again. No-one has any problem with Russia. People have a problem with the current regime in charge of Russia. It's a managed democracy, where only the "acceptable" candidates get to stand, and political opponents get imprisoned (or worse).

Russia, the US, and anyone with a external spy service meddles with other countries elections. The change in Russian tactics post Magnitsky is to just try to fan the flames around divisive issues, essentially super trolling. Not aiming to get anyone particular elected, just plunge the country into a prolonged internal struggle that won't ever really resolve. Such as brexit, and the various eastern European nationalist movements.

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Overdraft-fiddling hackers cost banks in Eastern Europe $100m

MonkeyCee
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Emptying machines

My understanding on carding fraud is that this is quite a distributed crime. So group A sets up accounts using fake documentation, passing on the legit cards to B and getting paid. B sorts the auth improvements, then sells the cards and PINs to C through Z in the compromised accounts.

C through Z will be a group of mules, usually "on holiday" outside their own country. They will have a stack of cards with the associated PINS (individual security controls may vary), and will punch through the stack at a particular machine.

While there is a transaction limit, often all that will be checked is a cached version of this. So the mules get 300 quid per card per machine. Some machines can be hit multiple times, but 50 cards can get you 15 grand a day. Assume timing withdrawals to be over the weekend, maybe three payouts per card before anything flagged.

Some ATM networks in certain countries are more vulnerable to this, due to the way they update available funds between accounts. I expect you could withdraw at least to the overdraft limit, and probably 3 times it in certain places, if you knew where to look. No idea if there is an overlap with places you could also access to approve overdrafts.

The cash goes to a local money broker, who takes their cut and pays out the boss of the end mules. Mules go home, get paid there.

The difference this time is the usual method is getting legit details through a skimmer, then loading them on a blank card and using that. This uses legitimate cards obtained with fake IDs

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1,000 jobs on the line at BAE Systems' Lancashire plants – reports

MonkeyCee
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Re: [Saudi] women will be allowed to drive, so it's fine to sell arms them now.

"Ah, but are they allowed to fly advanced military aircraft?"

Yup, Mariam al-Mansuri certainly is.

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Hipster disruptor? Never trust a well-groomed caveman with your clams

MonkeyCee
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Re: Turtlenecks, boybeards...

If you make it out of childhood, and weren't starving, then 50-60 is about right for the ancient world. 70 is a ripe old age then.

Victorians, if you strip out infant mortality, had a life expectancy of 70s.

Currently, it's low 80s for the western world.

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Amazon told to repay €250m in 'unfair state aid' from Luxembourg

MonkeyCee
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Re: Rule of Law

"I am not doubting the findings that Ireland and Luxemburg granted excessive tax reductions to Amazon and Apple."

That's pretty much the remit of the EC. Trying to prevent anti-competitive behavior by large market players, since the small ones already have it covered by various other agencies.

Giving state aid, and exactly what qualifies as state aid or not has been clarified for a number of years. Getting round to doing things is what takes some time.

The EC ruled on Apple's taxes in Ireland, that by allowing Apple to not pay them it was engaging in illegal state aid, and said "sort it out" to Ireland. Now a year deadline has passed with no action, the EC goes after the Irish government for not enforcing the ruling.

We'll see what happens, but I presume the hope for Apple is the Donald can at least get a bill for a once in a dogs lifetime low tax rate for foreign earnings for US companies through congress, and pay 8-12% on their stash, while stalling the EC until then.

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