* Posts by Spudley

262 posts • joined 5 Sep 2015

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Astroboffins spot planets swimming in the mists of forming stars

Spudley
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If it hasn't cleared it's orbit yet, then it isn't a planet yet.

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British egg producers saddened by Google salad emoji update

Spudley
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Re: More inclusive?

More inclusive eh? What about those who are allergic to tomatoes?

But seriously, this whole emoji thing is getting stupid. The more of them there are, the less value they have.

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NASA makes the James Webb Telescope a looker with a heart of gold

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Re: Heart of Gold

I really should read headlines more carefully. I had hoped that NASA were about to trial an infinite improbability drive as used on the Heart of Gold.

I'm beginning to wonder re the Trump presidency, Brexit, and various other recent world events, whether they have been caused by someone, somewhere firing up an unshielded infinite improbability drive.

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Three-hour outage renders Nest-equipped smart homes very dumb

Spudley
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Can anyone point me in the direction of a product line similar to Nest that:

* does not require internet connectivity

* does not fail if the vendor's online systems fail

* cannot be bricked by the vendor if they decide to stop supporting it

* is secure

Because basically all of the gadgets I'm seeing on the market fail most, if not all of those criteria.

I can just about swallow it if I'm buying a device that won't cause any knock-on problems if it fails. But there's no way I can justifying spending money on a critical part of my home infrastructure if it fails any of those criteria.

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Uber says it's changed and is now ever-so ShinyHappy™

Spudley
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The problem for Uber is that 99% of their competitive edge comes from their willingness to bend / ignore / flout regulations. If they start playing straight, they completely lose their edge and will find it much harder to compete against established players.

The one area that will still help them succeed is their ease of use; ie the app makes it easy to access their service. But this would not be a difficult thing for others to replicate.

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Aegon conquered by UK bank holiday IT upgrade: Some users can't log on

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(It seems @TSB like to only do customer service by Twitter for some reason.)

TSB ==> Twitter Support Bank ?

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T-Mobile owner sends in legal heavies to lean on small Brit biz over use of 'trademarked' magenta

Spudley
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Re: Do they still own the claimed trademark?

I thought they merged it with their French neighbour's favourite colour to form EE, then sold it to BT.

That was just the UK instance of T-Mobile. The brand continues to exist in many other countries, and is still owned by DT. Likewise with Orange.

Indeed, one of the main reasons they changed the name to EE when Orange and T-Mobile merged rather than maintaining one or both existing brands was so that they could sell the combined entity off without having to sell the trademarks.

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Astroboffins spot the first perfect exoplanet free of clouds

Spudley
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Re: Hmm. Gas giant sized but with no clouds.....

Hmm. Gas giant sized but with no clouds.....

Highly curious.

And therefor with the potential for maximal learning.

Lots of learning, yes. But this object is clearly different (heh, pun intended) from others we know, so while it might give us a lot of data, that information may not be relevant to other gas giants.

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SpaceX Bangabandhu-1 launch held up while Dragon splashes down on time

Spudley
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I think I need to cut down on my Pratchett diet as I immediately read that as Bhangbhangduc.

Given the similarity, I would say that there's a very real possibility that someone in the naming committee for this satellite is a Pratchett fan.

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The steaks have never been higher: Swiss Lidl is selling local cannabis

Spudley
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All of which raises the question – why bother?

Because people are willing to buy it, and pay enough for it to generate a decent profit.

Surely, that's all the justification needed to sell anything. There are plenty of totally pointless products out there happily making a tidy amount of money.

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If you're a Fedora fanboi, this latest release might break your heart a little

Spudley
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That problem with stable distros providing a fixed version of everything is the biggest bugbear I have with using Linux as a platform over Windows.

I like that most of the software on my box is stable well maintained, but there are some applications for which I absolutely need the features in a newer version. Most of the time it's possible to install the newer version if you need it, but it almost always involves a lot more effort, and relying on third party repos that you may or may not want to trust.

This Modules feature sounds like it fixes that problem for me. I will be very very happy when this feature rolls out to Centos (and Debian too...? we can hope, can't we?).

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Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

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Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

Well yes of course it was.

Even the newest one was built in the 1970s. They retired in 2003. Most commercial aircraft would be considered old and would be getting expensive to maintain by the time they get to that kind of age.

The low production volume multiplies that, as do the unique capabilities and features of the aircraft.

Concorde was always going to need to be retired within that kind of time frame. The accident may have moved the retirement forward by a bit, but even without the accident, it couldn't have carried on indefinitely. For comparison, the Boeing 707 ended production the same year as Concorde. How many of those were still flying in 2003?

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Europe fires back at ICANN's delusional plan to overhaul Whois for GDPR by next, er, year

Spudley
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No they don't. They've been plain ignoring the requirement for GDPR compliance, wishing it away by pretending it wouldn't apply to them

Yes you're right, they have. But so have many *many* others. And many others just don't even realise it applies to them. And many more think they're okay but aren't.

It's going to be a mess, and there really does need to be some kind of grace period where companies can get caught and told to sort things out, but not necessarily get stung for the fine, because those fines could cause some serious damage if they're doled out to every offender from day one.

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Spudley
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Lots of ranting here about ICANN and Europe, but relatively little about the GDPR itself. Interesting.

It is true that ICANN are looking pretty bad here; they've basically set themselves up as a big target for mockery (and potentially worse once GDPR kicks in) because they've had plenty of time to resolve the problem but have ignored it until it's too late to fix it in time.

The thing is, they're not alone. They're the ones getting the press (at least here on El Reg), but there are thousands of organisations big and small that are going to fail at GDPR. Even many of the ones who are sitting smugly thinking they've got it sorted are going to fail.

If the lack of preparation that I've seen is representative, then the world is going to be in for a massive wake-up call when the first fines start getting levied. With the level of fines available and the number of organisations out there that are completely ignorant of GDPR, I reckon the EU could probably cover it's entire annual budget just through fines if it wanted to.

That's obviously not going to happen (not least because it would have a massive economic impact), but what I would say is that there is a clear need for a moratorium on fines, at least to begin with. ICANN might be making themselves look foolish, but looking at the broader picture, they do actually have a point.

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SpaceX finally Falcon flings NASA's TESS into orbit

Spudley
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Re: What about Mr Steven

They didn't attempt it on this launch. Don't know why.

The main reason is that Mr Steven is based in California, and can only realistically be deployed for Vandenberg launches.

Apparently though, they did still do the whole parachute thing to recover the fairing, albeit with a wet landing. I don't believe that they can reuse a fairing once it's got wet, so presumably they did this in order to get more data about how the parachutes perform, in order to help with the catching next time.

As far as I know, they haven't released any information about how it all went so far this time. But there's a reasonable chance that someone will photograph the boat coming home over the next few days with the fairings on board.

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 poised to fling 350kg planet-sniffing satellite into Earth orbit

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Bear in mind that both the CRS-7 boom and the AMOS 6 incident were upper-stage anomalies. The versioning for F9's upper stage is more ambiguous than for the main booster.

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Billion-dollar investor tells Facebook: Just Zuck off, already!

Spudley
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Re: Time for Zuk to join Kalanick

Zuk just doesn't get it.... Is he a Neocon obsessed with disruption, or naive about the world?

I'd go with totally naive.

People seem to forget that Facebook started out as a college kid's quick and dirty little web app to connect his friends and just spiralled out of control from there. Zuckerberg has no genius quality or leadership skills; by all accounts, he's not even that good a programmer. He just got lucky. Billions of dollars lucky, but that's all it is. Luck.

He's had a little over a decade to get used to it, so you'd think he might have learned a few things by now. But on the flip side of that, Facebook is the only thing he's ever done; he's got zero experience of the real world, and I'd bet that even now he has little understanding of how other people use this thing he's created.

He's the guy sitting in the cockpit of the rocket ship, frantically pushing buttons and thinking he's in control.

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No Falcon Way: NASA to stick with SLS, SpaceX more like space ex

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Re: It's about pork

The problem is that the market for BFR-scale payloads is smaller than for Falcon-scale payloads (modern electronics allow for smaller satellites). This means that it will take a longer time for the BFR rocket to accumulate the same number of successful unmanned launches as the Falcon has (approaching 50).

If it costs less to fly the same weight on BFR than Falcon 9, as Musk has claimed it will, why wouldn't customers switch to using it, even if they're massively under-using the vehicle's capability?

And if that cost can be cut further by using some of that extra capacity with ride sharing, that would surely sweeten the deal even further. In other words, I don't see why most clients won't switch to BFR almost immediately.

There may be a few that want to stick with the F9 because it is known to be reliable, but that attitude won't last long; if you want proof, look how quickly SpaceX have been able to get people switching to re-used boosters.

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Spudley
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The BFR is a glint in spaceX's eye - not something that meaningful comparisons can be made to a rocket that already exists.

And if the BFR timescale is within 3 years of what Musk has said, I will eat my own hair. I would be overjoyed, just pretty certain that it's not happening.

SpaceX are already constructing the first BFR prototype, so I think the glint in the eye comment might be a little out-of-date. Sure it's not here yet, but neither is SLS. Musk has talked of it being tested next year.

The first SLS to fly will (by current plans) be next year. But it will be the smallest size version, which only just beats Falcon Heavy. It will also be launched as a proof of concept, and not carry anything meaningful (there was some talk of putting crew on board the first launch, but that idea has sensibly been abandoned).

It will take them *at least* another year to build a second SLS, by which time the BFR prototype will have been doing test hops for months.

There are only enough engines stockpiled for them to build four SLS rockets. After that, they need to restart the production line if they want to launch any more. Aerojet have quoted them a billion to do that (not counting the cost of the actual engines that get built) and a build rate that will only allow one SLS launch every 18 months.

If they really want to build this Lunar Gateway station they're talking about, it will take multiple flights, even allowing for it to be built in large "monolithic" pieces, so given the maximum possible flight rate imposed by engine build constraints, it will take them a decade to build it.

Given all the above, BFR can be delayed for *years*, and it will *still* be a better platform and available soon than SLS for most of the missions planned for SLS.

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NASA stalls $8bn James Webb Space Telescope again – this time to 2020

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No, it really will be un-servicable.

L2 really is a very very long way away and difficult to get to (it's easier to go to Mars). And even if BFR could get to it, it is not designed to be serviced; you can't just take spare parts and swap them out. And components such as the sun shield are extremely fragile once deployed and would almost certainly be damaged by any attempt to conduct repairs.

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Spudley
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Not mentioned in the article was the fact that when JWST was first proposed, the budget was $200 million (not billion), and the launch date would have been 2007.

The geek in me is still excited about what this thing will be able to do once it gets into space, but I can't stop getting a bit angry when I look at the ever-growing delays and disparity in the numbers.

Another thing to think about: JWST is booked to fly on an Ariane 5 rocket. The Ariane 5 program ends in 2022. Let's hope they finish building the thing in time to actually get it up it without having to re-negotiate the launch contract as well. (if this happens, it would have to go on an Ariane 6 for political reasons, even if BFR or New Glenn could do it for less. But Ariane is also chosen for its reliability record; they're also not going to put something this expensive on Ariane 6 until it's proven itself reliable, and given the launch rate of Ariane, that would mean another year of delay).

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NASA fungus problem puts theory of 'Martian mushrooms' on toast

Spudley
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They're going to use this to start blaming all kinds of things on fungus.

It's possible that fungus could become a bogeyman for them.

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Birmingham UK to Uber: Want a new licence? Tell us about your operating model

Spudley
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Under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who came on board after last year's big scandal about the mass data breach and subsequent cover-up, has made efforts to spruce up its image.

I'm fairly sure he came on board *before* that big scandal hit. Okay, sure, the actual breach and cover-up occurred before he came on board, but the scandal itself was triggered when they finally did come clean about it, which was some months after the start of his tenure.

Coming clean about it was in fact one of the things he's done to try to fix the company's image. It didn't achieve that, although once he found out about it, it was a certainly a better idea to go public with it than to continue covering it up, because it would have leaked out eventually one way or another.

(personally, I'm kinda sad that the GDPR regs hadn't already kicked in by then, because however much pain all the lawsuits around that scandal are causing for Uber, they're nothing compared to what the EU would have been able to do to them under GDPR.

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Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs

Spudley
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So it seems to me that the Boring Company is just Musk having fun. He's playing. He's got a bit of spare money, and he's enjoying himself with it.

SpaceX and Tesla are doing just fine. They're real companies with real prospects, real products and real shareholders. The Boring Company is just a game.

That might change if/when SpaceX actually gets people on Mars, because tunnelling could be very useful for a colony on Mars. But that's for the future, Right now, it's just a pipe dream. (ehm, pun intended. sorry)

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For all we know, aliens could be as careless with space junk as us

Spudley
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It's an interesting theory. The problem with it, of course, is that it means looking for a civilisation that is at *exactly* the same stage of development as we are. Any earlier (even a couple of decades) and there won't be anything significant in orbit; any later (even just a few decades), and they'll either have triggered Kessler syndrome or they'll have worked out how to clean things up.

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123 Reg suffers deja vu: Websites restored from August 2017 backups amid storage meltdown

Spudley
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I've lost stuff thanks to blundering hosting companies more than once, and not with 123Reg (because I've not used them). I've also been employed by several web hosts. 123Reg is bad, but so are many others. Behind the glossy front-end websites and control panels lies a lot of really crusty old code and scripts that are in desperate need of retirement but are kept running because the devs are too inexperienced to know better and the management are too complacent to care.

The problem is that bad practice only shows up when things go wrong, at which point its too often late.

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Java EE renamed 'Jakarta EE' after Big Red brand spat

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The open source version of Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) has been renamed Jakarta EE to satisfy Oracle's desire to control the "Java" brand.

Remember, kids, this is the same company that sued Google over the use of the Java header files.

Their desire for complete control should not be a surprise here.

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It's begun: 'First' IPv6 denial-of-service attack puts IT bods on notice

Spudley
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So the upshot of this article is that IPv6 has *finally* gotten enough adoption that it's worthwhile for the black-hats to take time to start attacking it.

After hearing endlessly for most of the last decade about how IPv6 is imminent, all I can say is, it's about time.

Let's be honest, there's no perfect security, so whatever we use, we will get attacked. If we all move to IPv6, we will get attacked via it. But we're currently getting attacked via IPv4, so nothing will change; it's not like IPv6 is more dangerous to use.

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Paul Allen's six-engined monster plane prepares for space deliveries

Spudley
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Whether this flies or not, the investment in space technology is worth taking note of.

If you'd done a survey of the world's rich in, say, 1990 or 2000, you would have found very few that were investing in space in any real way. People like Larry Ellison and Warren Buffet have had bucketloads of cash, but have kept it to themselves.

The change in the last ten or fifteen years is incredible. Musk, Bezos, Allen, Branson, and others are all pouring millions into space companies, all with very clear aims of bringing the costs down for access to space. It's a really dramatic sea change, and it is producing real results.

There's a real chance that some of these billionaires will lose their shirt on this. That's the risk you take when you spend this kind of money on this kind of project. But I do genuinely wish them all well, because even the ones who are falling behind like this project are still pushing the boundaries and discovering stuff. Exciting times.

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Inviting nearby exoplanet revealed as radiation-baked hell

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Re: First!

A true pedant never apologises for pedantry.

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Spudley
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There's been a number of breathless stories about potentially habitable exoplanets and just as many deflated follow-ups about how they're probably not habitable after all.

But ultimately, all of this is based on fairly limited data. We haven't actually seen any exoplanets; we haven't measured their atmospheres; and our data set for what actually does constitute a habitable planet is limited to just one single example. We've made inferences and deductions, and I'm fairly happy that the science is good, but it is most certainly very much incomplete.

What we really need is to get some more and bigger instruments up and running to help us find these planets, but also more importantly to *look* at them in detail after we've found them.

I'm excited about TESS, which will be launching soon (even better, it'll be on a Falcon 9), but that will just be another "finding" mission, not so much of the "looking". I'm also looking forward to JWST, which sounds like it'll be even more capable, but that keeps getting delayed.

Frankly, if we're still having debates about how much water is on the Moon (per the other Reg headline today), which is a body that we've actually been to, then I'm doubtful about how accurate we can really expect to be with what all these exoplanets look like.

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Spudley
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Coat

Please say you were being sarcastic when you referred to New Scientist as "august"!

August is in the summer.

So referring to a publication as "august" surely just means that they know how to write a good article summary?

amiright?

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Unlucky Linux boxes trampled by NPM code update, patch zapped

Spudley
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Re: So testing before deploying isn't a "thing" anymore?

What is this word "Equistrutsup"? Your comment seems to be the only Google result for it. Conglaturation!

It's what covefe turns into when you add sugar, flour, butter and egg white, blend, and then bake at gas mark 3.

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Crunch time: Maplin in talks to sell the business

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Hi Di Hi, campers.

When I was a kid, Maplins was a fictional holiday camp.

The current Maplins business seems to be in much the same state as the holiday camp industry was in the mid '80s.

(The final series of Hi-Di-Hi ended with Maplins closing down and everyone losing their jobs).

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And lo! Crypto-coins came unto the holy land. And the wise decreed they must all be taxed

Spudley
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Re: So how's this gonna work ?

It is like the annual 40% tax on the interest on my savings. Yet the gross interest is at least 1% less than the rate of inflation. So the tax isn't on an actual "gain" - but just on the practice of saving for a rainy day rather than spending everything.

There are tax-free savings options, you know. Assuming you're in the UK, you can have an ISA which allows you to save tax-free up to a certain value.

If you've got enough savings in a taxable savings account for the tax to be noticeable then you've got your money in the wrong kind of account. (and if you've got enough money to make the right kind of account not an option, then arguably you've got your money in the wrong tax haven country).

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Spudley
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Re: How will this 'tax' actually be applied?

Irrespective of what people "think" BitCoin either is, or isn't. Exactly how are they going to levy a tax against a cryptocurrency?

It's a simple capital gains tax, so it'll be done the same way they apply tax to many other things -- you complete your tax return and state that you have made X amount of money from them this year. Failure to declare it would be tax evasion, just the same as it would be for anything else. And the likelihood of them catching you is much the same too; if they suspect you, they'll audit you and you'll be in for a world of hurt.

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Mars is red, Earth is blue. Here's a space laser story for you

Spudley
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Lasers are red, Let's hope they hit the mark, but please do tell, where's the mothertrucking shark?

Unfortunately, the shark failed to reach orbit and crashed into a house in Oxford.

see here for the photo.

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World+dog ignores Rubin's Wonderdroid

Spudley
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"Much hyped"?

It had gone completely under my radar until now.

I've got RSS feeds for over a dozen tech sites in my browser toolbar, so if something is "much hyped", I would have expected to have at least been vaguely aware of it before articles about the poor sales figures start coming out.

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Uber and its 245 million reasons to settle with Google's Waymo

Spudley
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Re: Shares?

Uber crash and burn, you are no worse off.

Uber manage by some miracle to IPO and you get some unexpected cash.

Oh, you can be absolutely sure they'll IPO. Even if they are going to crash and burn, they will still do their IPO.

All those rich private stockholders need to be able to offload their shares to the unwitting public somehow.

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Elon Musk's Tesla burns $675.3m in largest ever quarterly loss

Spudley
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Rolling my eyes reading the usual rants and flames from each side of the bench. I'll try to avoid getting embroiled in that.

But I wanted to comment just to raise issue with the sub-headline of the article:

[blockquote]$250k went into orbit with that Roadster[/blockquote]

Um, no. No it didn't. The Roadster was Musk's own personal car. Tesla didn't take a hit on it in any way at all. And even if they had it was a ten-year-old used car, and it didn't even cost $250k when it was new.

The Falcon Heavy launch cost Tesla absolutely nothing, for what is easily the best bit of car advertising ever. Frankly, given the publicity it's generated, it would have been a bargain if they'd paid full price for the launch.

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Insurance companies now telling you what tech to buy with um-missable price signals

Spudley
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Re: Definition of an actuary

More properly:

Someone who always wanted to be an accountant, but lacked the personality for it.

Hugh Grant stared in a movie once which proves that if you try hard enough it is possible to Love Actuary.

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PACK YOUR BAGS! Two Trappist-1 planets have watery oceans, most likely to be inhabitable

Spudley
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But do they have Trappist beer ?

Oceans of the stuff. Oceans, I tell ya.

(Allegedly)

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.UK overseer Nominet abandons its own charitable foundation – and why this matters

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The launch of hundreds of new generic top-level domains – like .cooking and .horse – has not been as successful as the domain name industry expected

Well no. Of course it hasn't. Those in the industry who expected it to work were being blinkered by greed.

The reality is that the massive expansion of top-level domains was always a bad idea. The only reason it was done was as a cynical money grabbing ploy by the registrars. If it's back-firing on them now, then I'm not going to cry for them.

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Yahooooo! says! its! email! is! scrahoooo-ed!

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The Register has contacted Yahoo! for comment

Did you send your contact request via email, by any chance?

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Wannabe W1 DOW-er faked car crash to track down reg plate's owner

Spudley
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Somewhat unfortunate for the victim to be named in this article (and presumably in public elsewhere), given that the whole point of the case was that his privacy had been breached.

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Chainmail tires re-invent the wheel to get future NASA rovers rolling

Spudley
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Re: Terrestrial uses ?

A shame it takes a mission to another planet to kickstart innovation which would enhance the lives of tens of thousands of earthly wheelchair users ?

Without commenting on the merits or otherwise of your specific suggestion re this tech, you're missing a major point of trickle-down invention.

In fact, kickstarting innovation is probably one of the major benefits to humanity of the space industry. There are a significant number of inventions that were first developed in the space industry which have gone on to become mainstream products.

Far from being a shame that it happened this way, you should be applauding the fact that the space industry is innovating, because some of those innovations will eventually make their way into your hands.

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Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

Spudley
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Data General also kind-of almost invented the tablet computer, too. The company's device was called the Wiinpad.

Why ***why*** does that linked article not have a published date anywhere on it?

Grrrrr.

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Elon Musk finally admits Tesla is building its own custom AI chips

Spudley
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Re: Nothing to worry then

What's the track record of Elon Musk ?

He's built three billion-dollar-plus companies in a row, all starting from nothing, and all of which have been highly successful at disrupting existing well-established and highly protective industries that have traditionally been extremely hostile environments for new entrants.

What's *your* record?

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Is Oomi the all-in-one smart home system we've been waiting for?

Spudley
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When considering devices that physically interact with my home environment, there is one single overriding consideration that trumps everything else:

Privacy.

I have backed away from Nest and other similar products because they communicate my private data from my home back to the vendor.

I get that the system is connected to the internet. I get that this is a feature because it means I can monitor it remotely. But I object very strongly to the possibility of anyone else being able to monitor it remotely.

The only IO between my home and the vendor should be software updates.

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Today is your last chance to pick up a piece of channel history

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Presumably this number plate would also be of value to anyone from Scotland who likes driving up and down the UK's major North-South motorway... except that the M1 doesn't actually get as far as the Scottish border.

Well, maybe for someone campaigning for it to be extended to Scotland, then?

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