* Posts by Ros

31 publicly visible posts • joined 31 Oct 2007

Top Brit authors turn flamethrowers on barmy IPO


Your school probably wasn't doing anything wrong. The Copyright Licensing Agency sells licenses to schools so they can do that sort of thing. They monitor what gets copied and sort out these hard-to-collect payments on behalf of authors.

I agree with you about giving primary school kids ereaders, it's not going to be cost effective unless they're reading a lot of books that are out of copyright. They could get broken deliberately or break down, and they're not as accessible as paper, especially when you forget to charge them. And of course they're nowhere near as visually appealing as a shiny new book illustrated in full colour.

British Library wants taxpayer to gobble the web


Will it obey noarchive?

I block Archive.org from my websites, as do many other webmasters, because it's horribly abused by scrapers. Basically it's used as a source of content for webspam, scraped-content directories, email harvesting, and all sorts of other junk that ought to be blocked. If it's in the archive the originating website can't prevent this activity.

I'm not keen on the idea, it seems redundant. But if it goes ahead there had better be a way to block its spiders.

Amazon offers publishers pre-iSlate Kindle bribes


Publishers aren't useless

Most publishers do a lot more than merely act as a filter for the slushpile. You might not notice the proofreading and editing that goes into a book, but when it's absent it really shows.

I was present at a talk by one of Harper Collins' publishers, and she gave a detailed run-down of exactly what the do for their money. It's a lot. Granted, things like foreign rights sales and marketing aren't all about making a better finished product. But for an author it's not always the bad deal that the percentages make it appear.

Apple patents karaoke lessons


It's called SingStar.

Although I don't know whether Singstar is the first system to do this. Next they'll be trying to patent the wheel.

Amazon affiliates nixed in two more states


Affiliates sell advertising

Affiliates are essentially paid for putting up links, and they get paid typically 5-10% when someone clicks and buys. It's advertising. The pay scale may be tied to conversions, but it's still advertising. Are these states also going to tax the TV and radio stations according to how many sales they drive?

Where it applies, affiliates also pay income tax on what they make.

Deleted Tweets found living in the hereafter


The Noarchive Initiative

That's another good reason to opt your websites out of the search engine cache. This website explains how you can do that, and links to some discussions about why you might want to:


McAfee: Save the planet - use a spam filter


A public information campaign?

It's surprising what people don't know. A public information campaign about good email hygiene might be quite effective. They could throw in something about avoiding phishing as well, and put it on primetime TV.

But here I am suggesting the govt. do something useful, and something that would demonstrate the slightest degree of technical awareness. That's absurd. Who has been spiking my coffee?

Pirate Bay prosecutor tosses infringement charges overboard


Public Lending Right

PLR is a widely adopted system for paying authors (but not publishers) every time a book is loaned. It's worth something like 6p for each loan, up to a maximum of about £6000. Perhaps it's time for a similar system for the internet, to pay back all the creative types who lose out every time their stuff gets downloaded.


Beeb borrows copyrighted Flickr image



People were always trying to republish my photos, until I started to visibly watermark them all. Since then I've had no trouble, but it does highlight one thing: a lot of people are as clueless about copyright as this David XXXXXXX.

It helps to set up a script that will watermark images in one click.

UFO damages Lincolnshire wind turbine


It's the hacks

The local rag, the Louth Leader, is obsessed with dreaming up UFO stories. It's not so long ago that they reported on the release of some Chinese lanterns as unexplained UFOs. I kid you not.

They run these stories for the publicity, and gullible hacks from other news networks pick up on it and add fuel to the fire. There's nothing to see here, except an embarrassing regional newspaper (part of the ailing Johnston Press network) making a desperate attempt to stay afloat.

Wikipedia exceeds $6m donation goal


@Andus McCoatover

Wikipedia isn't a source for anything. It's merely a summary of facts (or otherwise) from other sources. On many topics there's better and more authoritative information available elsewhere online. We're better off without it.

Facebook rattling tin in Dubai?


Back in the day,

AOL Hometown used to be the home of all of the web's narcissists. Yesterday it was closed for good, to absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. That's where Facebook is going.

Spam swine break next-gen CAPTCHAs


Image-based captchas must die

They don't work effectively, they're not usable, and they inconvenience genuine users. So in some ways this could be a good thing, because the captcha should have been re-thought a long time ago.

419ers crank up the menaces

Paris Hilton

They don't make psychos like they used to

Time was, you couldn't say you were a real celeb unless you got a few death threats. Now they're handing them out willy-nilly, how will we be able to tell the truly famous from the merely Z-list?

BBC must reveal EastEnders costs



Eastenders is one of the programmes the BBC uses to train up the writers of the future. Another is Doctors. So it's not just dodgy entertainment, it's an investment in all the future dodgy dramas they might choose to produce in the future, a sort of trainee programme and talent-spotting rolled into one. I think trainee writers spend a year doing "shadow" scripts before they get to write stuff that actually gets used. I learnt this at a workshop with one of the BBC commissioning editors.

So whatever the actors are paid, the writers won't be getting a lot because they're mostly trainees.

Activist coders aim to deafen Phorm with white noise

Dead Vulture

A title is required.

I agree with Ralph B, this is bad for webmasters. If it doesn't respect robots.txt it shouldn't be encouraged, and if it does it will be easy to identify and filter.

Amazon sues New York over Amazon Tax


This is retarded

Affiliate marketing is simply advertising. Affiliates aren't part of Amazon, they don't act as employees. I don't think it's relevant that Amazon uses a CPA model instead of CPC for paying affiliates.

By the same argument you could claim that any ecommerce website that advertises online is located wherever their advertising providers live. Insane.

Anti-Scientology crusader vaporized from YouTube


If you want to avoid censorship

Host it on your own domain, backed up by a host that won't bow to unfounded legal threats.

User-generated content is always going to be a legal minefield, and there are costs to moderating it. I can see why Google don't want the hassle.

BT: 'We did not let anyone down over Phorm... it was not illegal'


@Andy ORourke, Darren Winter


Your comment summed up exactly how I felt when I heard that crap about cookies. How many people will think they can just block cookies and stop using search engines, and then none of this will apply to them?

It was just pathetic, lousy journalism.


@Darren Winter

I'm not too keen on the idea of scripts to surf randomly. I get enough useless traffic from bots. If everyone took up this sort of thing for privacy reasons it would suck up a ton of bandwidth. And ultimately who would pay? Webmasters would suffer more excess bandwidth bills, and BT/VM customers would have to endure higher charges and slower speeds. It's not the answer. The only appropriate responses are to move to a better ISP, and make some noise about why.

Quake rocks Britain


We're not used to this in Blighty

I live in Lincolnshire, and this one woke me up. I'm not all that far from the epicentre.

Some people might have lost loose roof tiles, or experienced carelessly placed items overbalancing. That's about the extent of the crisis.

Automated crack for Windows Live captcha goes wild


@ Stefan Spelter

I've been using a text-based captcha that I developed myself for some time now, with good results. It uses a variety of types of question, which rotates on a daily basis.

The only thing is, I've found that writing good captcha questions is an art. You have to be very careful to make them entirely unambiguous, and neither too hard nor too common. I see a lot of simple maths questions used as captchas, so it's only a matter of time before they are routinely broken. Ideally every website should have a unique set of trivia questions that don't follow a set pattern.

Unfortunately this approach scales really badly for large websites, and I can't see it working for any of the major free email providers. They would need tens of thousands of questions and answers to make it work.

Brits split on ID cards

Paris Hilton

At least Reg readers aren't split

It's a moronic, hairbrained scheme.

In 2005 they were saying it would cost around £18bn. What are the chances of that price going down?

Potential suitors throw Yahoo! to the wolf



I think it all boils down to what the lawyers will consider to be an industry, and what simply counts as different features of their websites. Is web-based email an industry in its own right? If so, will they be selling off or shutting down Yahoo! mail?

Japanese whalers lash protesters to mast



Fin whale status:


"Balaenoptera physalus – Endangered"

And the other factors that make things harder for this species to recover are no justification for killing 50 more of them every year.


@ User

Fin whales are endangered, and the Japanese hunt them too.

I'm surprised at the number of people who are confusing Greenpeace with the Sea Sheperd Conservation Society. These groups have entirely different approaches. Greenpeace plan to use peaceful methods, such as spraying water to obscure the whaler's field of vision. They're not planning to board or ram the whalers.


Check out the graph of unsold whale meat on that page.

Scarlett Johansson to play Courtney Love?

Dead Vulture

Courtney should play herself.

She wore so much makeup when she was with Kurt that a few more years will barely be noticeable.

Not that I'm planning to watch it, though. If I wanted to look at junkies I could hang around in the wrong part of town.

Google preps Street View Big Mac search


Up until now

you could get away with publishing your email address as an image, and avoid 99% of all spam. If Google does this, will spammers have to bother developing their own OCR bots?

Microsoft pleads ignorance on 'one interweb per child' pork barrel


A good job it's hot air

What is the point of this in any case, when libraries are being closed, the amount spent on books goes down every year, and kids are leaving school less literate than when they started?


Is Gordon Brown hoping that the next generation will be too ill-educated to read all the bad headlines he's generating?

How to be a failure at Guitar Hero III


A wasted opportunity?

If they're going to have keyboard-style controls, why don't they bring out a "Keyboard Hero" as well? In other words, something along the same lines that actually builds up to teaching you to play the piano? That would be better.

I'm always surprised at the reluctance of games creators to make anything that's remotely useful to anyone. I'm a parent, and I'm always looking hard for games that have useful side-effects like teaching something my kid needs to know, or keeping him fit. Most console games are the enemy of thought, useless time-fillers designed to hook, frustrate and slobbify. But they needn't be.

Save the BBC - by setting it free

Paris Hilton

Who says the BEEB doesn't have adverts?

It's full of ads, just the same as all of the commercial channels. They just happen to be ads for all the other BBC services, channels, and forthcoming programmes. But the fact is, they take up almost as much time as the commercial breaks elsewhere, and are just as annoying. The BBC is spreading its content too thinly, and with this fragmentation it loses its quality.

Whois database targeted for destruction


and the non-scammers?

I use Whois all the time, most recently to look up a website that was infringing my copyright. If I had to pay every time someone did this I'd be out of pocket for no good reason.

Has anyone bothered to survey domain owners to figure out how much of a problem the Whois details can pose? In practical terms, how many of us are bombarded with spam that comes from the Whois database rather than from other sources? How many of us get stalked by weirdos, and how many get blacklisted by insurance companies or excluded from jobs because our websites give too much away about our lifestyles or our political views, and the Whois details mean that it we can't be anonymous?

Whois has many legitimate uses. How many people are badly affected by the loss of a certain amount of privacy? I want numbers.