* Posts by ratfox

3465 posts • joined 3 Sep 2007

Google parks old pay-to-play auction in front of European Commission – reports

ratfox Silver badge

Re: EU to Google.

I think there was a typo somewhere; the EU plans to fine Google ten millions Euros a day, not ten thousand. I think that's enough to make even Google pay attention.

ratfox Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Curious to see the answer of the EU

In the end, it's the top of the google.com page which is valuable real estate. Google's price comparison engine does profit from being able to put ads there, but that's less space for Google to put text ads.

If the price comparison engine becomes a separate entity, or possibly a separate company, and Google runs an arm's-length auction to decide who gets to put their ads there, then it looks like a textbook solution to monopolies.

It's pretty much a given that FoundEm would complain, given that it's dead and buried, and the only money they can hope for is damage settlements; they have no interest in any solution. The big question is, will the EU accept it?

Google India launches payment service that sends money as sound

ratfox Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Is sound really the best way?

Wouldn't actual QR codes be harder to subvert or tamper with? I would prefer NFC myself, though I guess that wouldn't work with iPhones (they have NFC, but only Apple can use it). Sound seems a very brittle solution.

Someone checked and, yup, you can still hijack Gmail, Bitcoin wallets etc via dirty SS7 tricks

ratfox Silver badge

My bank has an app which identifies me if I scan a QR code on the computer screen, plus a password.

Of course, my bank in North America still has no 2FA whatsoever. And the password cannot contain special characters.

Apple’s facial recognition: Well, it is more secure for the, er, sleeping user

ratfox Silver badge

I wonder how precise the 3D data is. A flat picture will not work, but if all you need to do is fold it a bit imaginatively, that's not much better...

But more generally, I find this inferior to the fingerprint sensor: slower, and more cumbersome.

Sacre bleu! Apple's high price, marginal gain iPhone strategy leaves it stuck in the mud

ratfox Silver badge

Apple will be fine as long as they have an important enough percentage that they can't be ignored by most app developers and accessories makers. The fact that their customers are generally rich helps make their percentage heavier.

But it's a tricky game, and if they ever lose that, it will be near impossible to turn it around. Unlike desktops, smartphones don't command significant staying power in the workplace, so that when consumers leave, it's over.

Apple's adoption of Qi signals the end of the wireless charging wars

ratfox Silver badge


I for one welcome this. It's all nice to have competition to determine who has the best solution, but at some point it becomes really annoying when things don't follow a single standard.

I would argue that it's better to have a single standard even if it's not actually the best one. For example, Betamax might have been superior, but it was very convenient for ten years when VHS was dominant and people could expect their tapes to work with any device they were likely to encounter.

Hi Amazon, Google, Apple we might tax you on revenue rather than profit – love, Europe

ratfox Silver badge

For small companies, the cost of having to declare income in multiple jurisdictions is a nightmare. For big ones, it's a rounding error. Why not declare that the single market rule of paying tax in a single country does not apply to global corporations controlling subsidiaries in most countries? Seems to me simpler than inventing a tax on turnover.

If it makes it more difficult for mega corporations to compete with local businesses: well, that's just icing on the cake.

Crackas With Attitude troll gets five years in prison for harassment

ratfox Silver badge

Re: American justice in action

How is it in the society's interest to pay for incarceration of a non-violent offender for a few years, and then make the person effectively unemployable for life due to the criminal record

Same as most punishments: deter others from following his footsteps. Unfortunately, what he did is both easy, and terribly costly to society. There is a high risk that many other "activists" would find it a very "funny" way to fight the system. A bit like swatting.

So it's very important to send a clear message that doing this will absolutely ruin your life.

Google will appeal €2.9bn EU fine

ratfox Silver badge

But, uhm, first of all: how exactly is fining Google going to change anything?

Well, they're going to have to change the way they do their business at least. In fact, they already agreed to do that, appeal or no appeal. Which indicates that the goal of the appeal is more to reduce the fine or avoid further damage lawsuits than to reverse the decision.

Second: couldn't they have seen this coming for a long time already?

People have been complaining about this for about ten years already. What took so long is that the previous competition commissioner tried to solve this without a big fine, and that took about five years. Then they had to start over from the beginning.

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Google has a monopoly in 13 out of the 14 top commercial functions of the web

I'm kind of wondering what are the "14 top commercial functions of the web"?

And which one is not owned by Google? Cloud computing, owned by Amazon? Online shopping, owned by Amazon? Online payments, owned by... credit card companies? Bitcoin?

Extortion, owned by Oracle?

Facebook claims a third more users in the US than people who exist

ratfox Silver badge

Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

ratfox ... Your "perfect" usage can easily be replaced with email.

No it can't. I don't know the complete list of all my old friends who live in LA, or who might happen to be in LA next week. And I'm not about to spam the mailbox of hundreds of people who might or might not live in LA.

Contrary to email, what you write in Facebook does not demand more than one second of attention of anybody who isn't interested. It does not guarantee either that people will happen to read it, and that's totally a feature.

ratfox Silver badge

Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

There are people who genuinely use Facebook as an easy way to connect with people they don't see often. They say to all their contacts: "I'll be in LA next week, send me a message if you're there and want to meet". That feels to me the perfect usage, which is genuinely useful and cannot easily be replaced by another tool.

Apart from that, I mostly see: jokes, links to articles, family pics, pictures showing how cool the user is since he's on a beach/in a bar/on a mountain, pictures of vaguely interesting sceneries (like a cloud).

There are also people who treat is as a microblogging site, and post many times a day to give their opinion on some subject.

Artists tend to post pictures of whatever they're working on, at different stages. That can be interesting.

A furious think-tank boss, Google, and an academic 'fired' for criticizing ads giant

ratfox Silver badge

Re: A bit off topic, but

Near Oxford, there's two little hamlets called Upper Slaughter, and Lower Slaughter.

ratfox Silver badge

A think tank?

Isn't the very definition of a think tank that it is a lobbying organisation paid to promote the views of its backers? What's so surprising that you would be fired for saying the wrong thing?

I mean, there's a reason these people are not working for universities, or calling themselves journalists, right?

WhatsApp irons a shirt, dons a suit, prepares business services

ratfox Silver badge
Paris Hilton

What are the requirements for a messaging app?

Writing a messaging app is easy, they're dime-a-dozen. Popularity is recursively the best predictor of success. App makers generally copy me-too features while trying to differentiate themselves any way they can. But what are really the features that would push you to use one rather than the other for your business? Apart from reliability?

Sub plot subplot thickens: Madsen claims hatch fumble killed Swede journo Kim Wall

ratfox Silver badge

Yeah right

It's weird how after the third time you're found to be lying, people stop believing anything you say.

Vivaldi boss: It'd be cool if Google went back to the 'not evil' schtick

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Well...

I think they're trying to sell the robots. Couldn't figure out where to put the ads, maybe.

On topic, I'm thinking Google suspend enough accounts for wrong reasons, and there are enough people criticizing them, for it to be a coincidence. That it took almost three months to reinstate the account is just an example of Google's great customer service.

Well, whad'ya know? 'No evidence' that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower

ratfox Silver badge

Well they would say that.

Fake news! Deep government! It's all a conspiracy man!

Google's Hollywood 'interventions' made on-screen coders cooler

ratfox Silver badge

Megacorporation influencing media producers in an attempt to change public opinion

You would need very few changes to make it really creepy.

I'm not sure if learning that The Amazing World of Gumball is a thing makes it better or worse.

15 'could it be aliens?' fast radio bursts observed in one night

ratfox Silver badge

That much energy is equivalent to the total output of our sun over ten hours. What do we know requires the total output of a sun? Apart from Starkiller base?

US cops can't keep license plate data scans secret without reason

ratfox Silver badge
Paris Hilton


Can somebody explain to me the difference between the two?

Nest cracks out cheaper spin of its thermostat

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Colour me surprised

That puzzled me too. I can buy that it's more efficient or has more features, but I don't see how it can be easier to use...?

EDIT: I was making the assumption that normal people just set their favorite temperature and never ever change it. I now remember that American houses typically have crap insulation, which means that heat is perpetually bleeding out of your house, and people save money by not heating whenever they're not at home.

Tech soap-opera latest: Alexa marries Cortana, will share custody of customers

ratfox Silver badge

This is good

It's very unfortunate that interoperability is often neglected, and sometimes actively sabotaged, in the hope of keeping users in walled gardens.

A typical example was Apple deliberately stopping Palm devices from accessing iTunes. After so many years, the hardware was finally compatible, so they fixed the glitch.

Nowadays, everybody's trying to be the single point of contact for everything you do, from cloud storage to music streaming. Sometimes I wonder if megacorporations will be the religions of the future, with people of the Apple church, the Alpha church, the WeChat church discouraged from socializing with each other, to prevent them from contacting unfortunate dalliances.

US Navy develops underwater wireless battery-charging tech

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Obligatory XKCD...

Actually, in this case, considering they're practically the only customers, they can probably force this standard on the manufacturers...

Is it possible to control Amazon Alexa, Google Now using inaudible commands? Absolutely

ratfox Silver badge

Don't the assistants reply loud and clear whenever you give them an order?

PC sales to fall and fall and fall and fall and fall for the next five years

ratfox Silver badge


I find claiming to predict for 2021 is a bit silly. I bet that different analysts have wildly different predictions. But hey, everybody has to earn money some way, right?

Fewer than half GCSE computing students got a B or higher this year

ratfox Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Students plateauing

If I remember correctly, students finishing a computing GCSE also have abysmal employment rates. So my question is:

What do young people in UK do, when they are intelligent and want to learn computing?

Paris nightclub red-faced after booze-for-boobs offer exposed

ratfox Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Re: Not unusual

Films can be kept in good condition forever though, and be used to print more pictures...?

Sofa-jockeys given crack at virtual Formula 1 world championship

ratfox Silver badge

They should do the opposite

I'd pay good money to see a real-world Mario Kart.

Want a medal? Microsoft 7.2% less bad at speech recognition than IBM

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Outlook Voice Recognition

I heard that those automatic systems take into consideration the interests of the user, as extracted from their browser history, etc.

Google's Android 8.0 Oreo has been served

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Troll much. Reg?

I assume it means that whenever you finally buy a phone with Oreo, years from now, that phone will be updated more often...

Somewhere around Android Toffee, in 2022, they'll finally have a proper system for upgrades.

FTC wants AT&T to kick in $4bn to help balance US budget. Why? Some dodgy ads or something

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Small print

I'm not sure if it's different laws, or the common law system, but when I moved to North America, I was impressed by how often the fine print would contain these little surprises.

I'm happily back in continental Europe. I do think the advertising is less deceptive.

Outage outed: Bing dinged, Microsoft portal mortal, DuckDuckGo becomes DuckDuckNo

ratfox Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Is StatCounter reliable?

They show Google has an improbable lead on their rivals in South Korea and Japan, while everybody else says Naver is king in SK, followed by Daum, and Google a distant third. And Yahoo is generally shown as first in Japan.

If Anonymous 'pwnd' the Daily Stormer, they did a spectacularly awful job

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Optional

Google kicked them out already.

Google's macho memo man fired, say reports

ratfox Silver badge

"He didn't say that women are on average less able in tech! He only said that different sexes are (on average) more suited for different jobs."

... Wait, how is that different? It's not that women are less able, it's that men are more suited for tech jobs?

Google diversity memo: Web giant repudiates staffer's screed for 'incorrect assumptions about gender'

ratfox Silver badge

I remember reading that girls speak up more in math class if there's no boys in the room. It was attributed to social pressure.

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Dare I say

Yeah... The issue is that a CV sent by a black woman gets less answers than the same exact CV sent by a white male. People's judgement is tainted by the race and gender of applicants. Which is unfair, right?

That's why recruiters get unconscious bias training, and receive special instructions to check more carefully CVs sent by women and minorities. That's unequal treatment, but arguably, more fair.

Google drops poker face, allows gambling apps on Play Store

ratfox Silver badge

Are gambling apps allowed on iPhones? I'm not sure it would make such a big difference in market share, but maybe I underestimate how many people want to gamble with real money on their phone.

Interesting that they specify not to use Google's payments platform. Looks like they are scared of legal issues. Or maybe they worry about morals. (Seriously! Google doesn't allow ads for guns either)

Cardiff did Nazi that coming: Hackers slap Trump, swastikas, Sharia law on e-sign

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Sorry, psycho bosses, it's not OK to keylog your employees

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Play the game

I think it's fine to have a few work questions during my breaks, the same way I think it's fine to answer a call from my wife while I'm working. If I really want a complete break, I'd probably hide myself in a corner or leave the building.

Ideally, your work should be judged by its output, and not by the amount of hours you spend at your desk. But if it's the latter, then doing something else at your desk enters a grey area, because it's not clear if you're working or not... Unless you are also marking down your hours in a timesheet (bleargh).

Regarding this particular case, I think the employer is allowed to say that while at work, at your desk, you shouldn't work for other companies. But using keylogging to catch trespassers goes too far, and that seems indeed what the court said was the problem.

'Invisible Man' malware runs keylogger on your Android banking apps

ratfox Silver badge
Paris Hilton

I'm confused

There are banking apps that don't use 2FA?

How can you kill that which will not die? Windows XP is back (sorta... OK, not really)

ratfox Silver badge

My father is still on XP. People he knows who changed to 10 warned him to stay away, "because everything is different".

I told him to make sure he backups often, on a NAS and on Google Drive.

Steve Bannon wants Facebook, Google 'regulated like utilities'

ratfox Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: YOS!

Please never write a comment like this again. I don't know what was your point and I don't care.

Facebook's freebie for poor people under fire again

ratfox Silver badge

"Leap of net neutrality from 'carriers shall not charge some content more' to 'poor people shall not get free partial Internet' = astounding".

I'm not sure it's astounding; in the very minimum, it's technically correct... I mean, the point of net neutrality rules is that you shouldn't offer a data service where your own content is privileged over other people's content, because it's an unfair competition between the two types of content, right?

That said, I think there are plenty of places that offer you free wifi, but only to look at the company's website. Does that infringe on net neutrality?

Google goes home to Cali to overturn Canada's worldwide search result ban

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Extra-territorial control

Note that the counterfeiting is illegal globally, not just in Canada.

Maybe, but France is also asking Google to remove results globally, and that's to respect the European right to be forgotten, which does not exist in the rest of the world.

Google is probably terrified of having such requests escalate to completely trivial things like lèse-majesté laws in Thailand, and that's why they're fighting every lawsuit.

ratfox Silver badge

Re: Extra-territorial control

Canada isn't the only country who wants to control what Google shows in other countries. France has also asked Google to remove results globally, related to the so-called right to be forgotten. The issue is only going to grow.

Facebook may print money but thirsty Wall Street wants more

ratfox Silver badge

Re: All that lovely advertising lucre

Is it even necessary to be on Facebook to earn them money? I think that like Google, they have adverts on third-party sites, with profiles built by tracking your IP on third-party sites. No Facebook account needed.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the reason of Facebook's success was the data it gathers from third-party websites, rather than what they find on their own site. People might well display more honestly their tastes while surfing the web than with their curated image on a social network.

Microsoft ctrl-Zs 'killing' Paint, by which we mean offering naff app through Windows Store

ratfox Silver badge


I honestly don't understand why Apple doesn't include MacPaint with their OS anymore. It used to be the best app in the system.

Legal boffins poke holes in EU lawmaker's ePrivacy proposals

ratfox Silver badge

Re: I don't want to be told I'm being tracked. I want the option to tell them "No"

That makes me a cash cow and them the farmers.

...On the other hand, it is by and large what pays for the internet. Of all the websites you visit, how many are you paying for?

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019