* Posts by AJames

178 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Feb 2008


Someone has to say it: Voice assistants are not doing it for big tech


Questionable reporting

Like the Ars Technica article yesterday, The Reg quotes the paywalled Business Insider article as their source, and draws some questionable conclusions.

Alexa is said to losing a lot of money for Amazon, but in fact the figure quoted is for Amazon's worldwide digital division, which includes things like content production for Amazon Prime. Echo hardware is said to be losing a lot of money, but of course all of Amazon's subsidised devices lose money for reasons that make sense to Amazon, and again the figure quoted is for the hardware group overall, not for Echo.

Before jumping to reactions, we should all question the information a bit more closely. Surely we've learned that in 2022.

CEO told to die in a car crash after firing engineers who had two full-time jobs


All depends on circumstances

I have fired someone for working two jobs. But:

1. That person was under scrutiny for poor performance and bad attitude. I wouldn't have bothered to investigate if they were doing their job properly.

2. They were in violation of the employment agreement they signed on hiring saying that they were required to seek approval for any outside work (not withheld in some other cases where it wasn't a significant conflict).

3. They were trying to poach fellow employees for the other company they were working for, which would have caused significant damage to their primary employer.

They were fired "for cause" and did not receive any severance compensation for their 3 years on the job.

Samsung unveils hardened SD card that can last 16 years if you treat it right


Samsung already sells a "Pro Endurance" card

Samsung has sold "Pro Endurance" cards for some time here in Canada at least (see amazon.ca). The 128 Gbyte card is rated for 5 years of writes, so with this new improved technology that would presumably be 8 years. Is Samsung just announcing slightly improved technology under the same "Pro Endurance" name?

Sucks to be you, any aliens living anywhere near Proxima Centauri's record-smashing solar flare


Exactly the subject of the novel "The Three-Body Problem"

"The Three-Body Problem" is the first of an award-winning science fiction series of 3 novels by Chinese author Liu Cixin (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three-Body_Problem_(novel)

The premise is that the characteristics of the triple-star Centauri system are inimical to the development of native intelligent life because of the frequent scouring of the planets by intense radiation flares. But what if that caused life there to develop faster and tougher than humanity on Earth? And what if those aliens decided that Earth was a much nicer and more habitable planet handily located at their nearest neighbouring star?

That's it. It's over. It's really over. From today, Adobe Flash Player no longer works. We're free. We can just leave


Narrow viewpoint

My small company produced a specialized course for law enforcement using Flash back in 2012. It's still in regular use and it's an essential part of our business. It took hundreds of hours of work to create the original course, and unfortunately today we don't have the resources to re-create the course in another format any time soon. So in an attempt to satisfy the fanatical zeal of the Flash haters by killing every possible way to run Flash, Adobe has just done a drive-by sideswipe of our business that will be hard to repair. Thanks a lot! I understand the reasons for gradually getting rid of Flash, but there was no good reason for this hard cut-off that unnecessarily cripples legitimate uses that have no security risk. I think most of the zealots have a mental picture of Flash as being used only on web pages for simple graphical animations, and think it should be "easy" to switch to an alternative format. That's too narrow a view of a tool that was used so extensively for so long.


Try the internet archive: http://archive.org/web/

I was still able to pick up some versions of Flash going back a couple of years, just in case Adobe snuck their timeout bomb in several months ago. But of course they could be removed at any time since the files themselves are not stored in the internet archive, only the pages with the needed links to the macromedia file servers.

If you can't get a browser to work, the standalone Flash player still works to play swf files - or at least the older version do.

All-electric plane makes first flight – while lugging 2 tons of batteries aloft


Re: The video

The El Reg story is missing something - this is not the first flight test of the Magnix engine in a commercial airplane - that was in December, in Vancouver, Canada, with Harbour Air testing it in one of their DeHavilland Beaver float planes. There is a video of the first flight (with sound) from a wing-mounted camera in this article: https://www.flightglobal.com/aerospace/harbour-air-to-resume-electric-powered-beaver-flights-as-certification-work-begins/136071.article

Harbour Air is a local airline serving the BC south coast with float planes making mostly short hops between city harbours, which makes them a good candidate for electric motors with relatively short battery life. They operate a variety of float planes including the Beaver and Cessna Caravans. The float planes have a reputation for making quite a racket on take-off from the harbour, so anything to reduce the noise would be welcome.

TeamViewer is going to turn around and ignore what you're doing with its freebie licence to help new remote workers


Not an easy company to deal with

Our small company has had an expensive Teamviewer commercial license for many years, and paid to upgrade it a couple of times because we use it for customer support. But while Teamviewer makes their software free for personal use, they seem to punish their commercial users. Their licences are tied to server hardware, and difficult to move. There are a host of obscure limitations that you have to pay for individually to expand, and it's virtually impossible to find information on what all the restrictions are for your current license. Worst of all, in spite of you having paid a lot of money for an up-to-date license, within a few months they will start nagging you and your customers who connect to you via Teamviewer to do an expensive update to the latest version. That's just bad practice.

Ring in the changes: Mandatory two-factor authentication, login alerts, targeted ads opt-out after punters voice privacy gripes


I never re-use passwords, and even if I did I don't care who wants to look at my empty doorstep. I do care that I will once again have to go through a month of broken smart home controls and hours of patching and updating because a vendor decided that I must be forced to update equipment installed in my home that I don't want to update.

A peeling solution to pothole has split the community... Yeah, they stuck a banana tree in it


Common in some countries

In Brazil, where axle-breaking potholes make many side streets an obstacle course, it's common to stick palm fronds in the pothole to mark it for drivers. That's probably where the planter idea came from. :)

Time to spin the wheel of pwnage! This week, malware can infect your…. Android set-top box!


I wish all of these security announcements would make that point about subnets clearer instead of obscurely mentioning the possibility of malware scanning the internet for directly connected boxes.

It would also be nice if they gave links to specific instructions that most users would want to follow to secure their systems, instead of vague warnings to increase security without details, often appearing to suggest measures that would cripple functionality.

Wait a minute, we're supposed to haggle! ISPs want folk to bargain over broadband


Same in Canada

In Canada you have the choice of the local telephone company (offering fibre or VDSL internet service) or the local cable TV company (offering coax cable internet service), or a dozen or more 2nd-tier ISPs who offer service through one or both of those infrastructures. The Canadian government branch responsible, the CRTC, mandates that the telephone company and the cable company must offer reasonable wholesale rates to these 2nd-tier ISPs for using their infrastructure.

Standard practice is that the telephone company or the cable company offer attractive deals for new customers in return for signing a contract of up to 2 years. At the end of that time the rate jumps significantly, usually 30-40%. If you call them and complain, they will bring the increase down to about 20%. From there it gets more difficult, as the first-tier phone agents have no further power to negotiate. You must threaten to cancel service, and they will transfer you to their "customer retention department" where the agents have the power to negotiate. There the pattern is that you must make a meaningful threat to cancel, citing a specific offer from the competition and demanding that they meet it. About half the time they will make you a significantly better offer. But unfortunately the fact remains that you will get the best price if you actually switch providers and become a new customer of the other major competitor, so the best strategy from a price viewpoint is to keep switching every two years. It's inconvenient though, and many customers don't want to do that.

Canadian ISP Telus launches novel solution to deal with excess email: Crash your servers and wipe it all


It's particularly sad and inadvertently funny if you live here in Telus territory and you get to watch the story on the evening news ("Angry customers demanding to know when Telus will fix the problem") immediately followed by a Telus internet ad with cute animals bumbling around while they tell you what great service they offer. Was the placement accidental, or was someone at the news station getting in a dig at Telus? :)

NASA's JPL may be able to reprogram a probe at the arse end of the solar system, but its security practices are a bit crap


Pranksters trigger alien attack

I'm picturing a future headline: "Pranksters hijack insecure NASA space probe, flash insulting messages to alien race investigating the probe, aliens now on the way to destroy Earth"

Microsoft gets ready to kill Skype Classic once again: 'This time we mean it'


Re: I knew it!

I stopped using Skype soon after Microsoft took it over. Nothing against Microsoft, but it just didn't work any more. Especially exasperating was that calling from Android or desktop to iPad wouldn't ring. Adding to the frustration, every time I went to use Skype it would no longer work, and I would have to spend 10 minutes downloading and installing a new version, then trying to figure out which password it wanted. I just fired it up again yesterday because I got an email saying that an old credit was expiring. My existing desktop version (less than year old) crashed with an error on launch, and again I had to go through the fresh download, install and login process.

'Incomprehensible failure' – Canada's $1bn Phoenix payroll IT fiasco torched by auditors


Re: What could go wrong?

And that was the key problem: there were big management bonuses tied to on-time delivery. People are people. They were determined to deem the system delivered on time and get their bonuses no matter what, and they did (and they got to keep them!). Somebody forgot to specify that what they delivered should work.

You can't imagine the nightmare this has caused for employees incorrectly paid. Some have gone without pay for months and are in danger of losing their homes due to defaulted mortgage payments. Others have been overpaid, taxed incorrectly as a result, and are now trying to fix that error, which will result in more fixes next year, and fixes to the fixes the year after that etc. etc.

Nest reveals the first truly connected home


Alternative integration services IFTTT and Stringify

I've been experimenting with smart home devices in a small way just for interest: I have Google Home Mini, a Ring doorbell, a Nest Protect smoke/CO alarm, and a handful of TP-Link smart WiFi switches and bulbs. It has been fun and interesting to see what I can do with them, and I do find some of the functions useful. But I can totally appreciate the article's comments on the lack of multi-brand integration and the cost of going with a whole-home solution.

There is some hope in the form of alternative integration services than can talk to most of these devices, not just local hubs you have to purchase, but free internet services as well. IFTTT is probably the simplest and best know, while Stringify is more powerful. I can for example have the motion-detector presence sensor of the Nest alarm toggle my Home/Away status at Stringify, which in turn controls the daily on/off pattern of my home lights. And I can ask Google Home to run any Stringify routine with a key phrase.

However it does worry me how much personal information I'm giving away with all these devices. I have little idea how much data is being recorded and retained, or where it's going.

I also worry that these devices are designed for a relatively short lifespan, and the services that support them could go out of business or radically alter their cost or terms at any time. This is a far cry from home improvements that you install once and then expect to last the lifetime of the home.

Woe Canada: Rather than rise from the ashes, IBM-built C$1bn Phoenix payroll system is going down in flames


Re: The History Goes Back Further Than That

Not to mention that the government managers in charge of the project were given hefty incentive bonuses to finish the project on time so the government of the day could call it a success. Needless to say, the project was pronounced finished and everyone got their bonuses, only to reveal months later that it was the equivalent of the Irish builder's work on Fawlty Towers. No bonuses were canceled. Nobody took responsibility.

IBM lobs sueball at travel site Expedia for using some old Prodigy patents


Patent viability is mostly about how much money you have

The actual content of the patent is not really the issue here. IBM has a huge and well-funded department to file, collect, and enforce patents. By threatening to sue, they are telling the other party that they will force them to spend a large amount of money on legal defence unless they settle. Typically they choose a smaller party and settle with them cheaply first to provide an example they can point to (in this case Priceline). Then they go after the other parties with deeper pockets and attempt to force a settlement. The other party has to weigh the fact that even an eventual victory may cost them $millions in legal fees versus the amount that IBM is offering to settle for. Companies are all about the bottom line - they don't stand on principle, nor would the shareholders want them to. They'll settle.

Report: Women make up just 17% of IT workforce, paid 15% less than men


As an employer who hired equal numbers of male/femail programmers

As an employer I hired about an equal number of male/female programmers for my company over 15 years, I would say that there was a slight majority of male applicants, but not as much as 2:1. I would say that their qualifications were generally about equal at the different experience levels we were hiring.

But I also have to say that I understand why the female staff were paid less on average, and it wasn't anything to do with a gender bias. In general the male programmers were more ambitious. They saw the job as a career opportunity. They were keen for rapid advancement, willing to work hard for long hours, put in extra effort when required, and seek out opportunities to improve their skills and take on more responsibility. The female programmers were generally less ambitious. They were content to do their job, put in extra hours and extra effort only when essential, and were more likely to turn down opportunities for advancement if it involved more work or longer hours. I could speculate that they were perhaps increasingly focused on family rather than career over time. That's certainly what many studies have shown. In any case, keep in mind that this is an average of a broad spectrum, and there were many exceptions to the general rule. But I fear that those who see gender differences in employment and compensation as purely arising from gender bias are ignoring reality.

What is the probability of being drunk at work and also being tested? Let's find out! Correctly


"Correct" method is slightly wrong

I think your rough calculation is actually closer to correct, while the one given in the article is slightly wrong. This is not a case of "removing one ball from the bag" each time as the writer has assumed. In actuality it is likely that the probability of the employee being drunk on any given day is always 12/260, independent of any previous day. In other words, the employee decides on any given day "do I need a drink today?" depending on his or her current circumstances, and is not thinking "wait, I've already gone in to work drunk 5 times this year, so maybe not today.".

Life began after meteorites splashed into warm ponds of water, say astronomers


Re: Why highlight meteorites?

You are probably correct about the quoted figure being wrong, but we can't check because the paper is behind a paywall. Yay for science!

Australia releases MH370 sea floor data but search is still off


Nice job by the Australians

The Australian government agencies have done a superb job overall, both on conducting the search and keeping the public informed. This interactive presentation is just the latest in a series of very informative public releases. I want the Australians to conduct the search if a plane ever goes missing with one of my family on board!

America throws down gauntlet: Accept extra security checks or don't carry laptops on flights


So we're supposed to check our laptops?

You must be kidding? What small percentage of laptops survive the tender mercies of the TSA baggage screeners without being stolen or broken?

FYI: You can blow Intel-powered broadband modems off the 'net with a 'trivial' packet stream



We already know that these modems are defective and should be replaced by the ISPs since Intel's mitigation measures in firmware are not very effective.

Anyone is vulnerable to a targeted denial-of-service attack. This exploit, if true, makes it a little easier to kill modems with a Puma 6 chipset, but you would still need to be targeted by someone willing to keep up a significant data stream. Honestly it doesn't significantly increase your risk.

Brazilians whacked: Crooks hijack bank's DNS to fleece victims


Re: Six months ago!

The story came from security company Kaspersky Labs, provided to the press without details identifying the actual bank, so difficult to verify. It was announced at their Security Summit getaway on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten (see https://blog.kaspersky.com/what-is-sas/14411/). The reporters that got permission to attend this event had to file some stories to justify the budget!

Now UK bans carry-on lappies, phones, slabs on flights from six nations amid bomb fears


Not in checked bags either

The rules are different in every country, but when I checked in online for my flight in Canada today, I was admonished not to put electronics like laptops with large lithium-ion batteries in my checked baggage because they are a potential fire hazard in the unattended cargo hold. So now if they're going to start banning these items in carry-on baggage and in checked bags, I guess they're going to suggest that they should be carried on the outside of the aircraft in a new hanging cargo sling? Or not at all? Anyone who must fly to or from the United States already knows that you can't put any items of value in your checked baggage because if the crooked TSA employees don't steal them, they'll pull apart your careful packing and dump everything back in scrambled together with a nice little tag saying "courtesy of the TSA".

Google, what the hell? Search giant wrongly said shop closed down, refused to list the truth






noun: libel; plural noun: libels



a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation.

Seems to me that publishing a statement that a business is closed, and then refusing to correct it, is damaging to that business and would qualify as libel. Time to calculate the damages!

I was authorized to trash my employer's network, sysadmin tells court


Re: This should be covered by a different clause in the contract

The key point here is that it's a civil matter, and should never have been treated as a criminal matter. He was an employee, and he was authorized to have the access he used and to perform the actions he took. What he did was wrong, but does not rise the the minimum level of "criminal". I think he's quite right about that.

That doesn't mean he isn't liable for civil damages for taking actions that were maliciously-motivated and knowingly counter to the interests of his employer. Any employment contract or company policy should have covered those areas, and the standard of proof in a civil matter is "on the balance of probability".

The criminal conviction should go. The $130,000 fine should stay as civil damages.

Want to come to the US? Be prepared to hand over your passwords if you're on Trump's hit list


Re: Latest incident at Canadian border

And still more similar incidents being reported in the last 2 days, including a Canadian-born Canadian citizen who happened to have Moroccan ancestry being stopped, questioned, required to give up his phone and password, and ultimately being refused entry with his university track team.



Latest incident at Canadian border

Reported in the Canadian press this morning, the case of a Muslim-Canadian woman with a Canadian passport, originally from Morocco (not a country on Trump's block list), traveling with her children to visit relatives in the U.S. as they have done many times before. She was stopped and detained, interrogated about her religious beliefs and her opinions of Donald Trump. They took her phone and demanded her password, then spent hours reviewing the contents. Grilled her about videos of prayer sessions. Finally blocked her entrance to the U.S. and sent her back after 4 hours because she might be a terrorist.

WTF is your problem, Netgear? Another hijack hole found in its routers


Already fixed?

I followed the link from this article to the bug description page at Netgear to the update page for my R6300v2 router, only to find that it says this bug was apparently fixed already in the firmware update I installed at the end of December (V1.0.4.6_10.0.76). I see that the bug report numbers are dated 2017, so how is it that they were supposedly already fixed in earlier firmware?

Galaxy Note 7 flameout: 2 in 5 Samsung fans say they'll never buy from the Korean giant again


I respect Samsung more now

Every company has product screwups. You judge them by their reaction. Personally I have considered Samsung and the other Korean companies very weak on service and support in the past, but in this case they did the right thing and halted shipment of a defective product. I respect them more now, not less. I am more likely to buy a Samsung product in the future than I was before.

Calgary uni pays ransomware criminals $20k for its files back



The question I always want to ask when I hear about a ransomware hit like this is: where are the backups? Surely a professional IT department of a major institution should have multiple levels of secure backups that would thwart any ransomware attempts? And if not, why hasn't the head of department been fired yet?

Boffins' gravitational wave detection hat trick blows open astronomy


Re: Curious how they eliminate one potential source of error

Yes, I understand that they did a lot of work to reduce and nearly eliminate local sources of vibration in what must be one of the most sensitive vibration detectors on earth. But the fact that they spent so much time and effort working on it shows that it's not easy, and there's no single clean solution to it. The argument that vibration transmitted through the earth from a site equidistant from both detectors wouldn't be strong enough to travel that far without being detected by other sensors is plausible, but I'd like to see data supporting that. However, I've just finished reading the paper and I see that in section IV they wrote specifically about this topic and state that the environmental sensors should be sensitive enough to detect any vibration in the same magnitude range as their gravity wave signal, and in fact the level of noise detected by the environmental sensors at that time amounted to no more than 6% of their signal magnitude.


Re: So . . . . .

Gravity waves spread out in all directions following a standard inverse-square law for power dissipation. By the time it reaches us after 1.3 billion years traveling at the speed of light it has spread to such a vast sphere that it's a very tiny signal. Working backwards they can determine that the wave was created with a burst of energy 50 times greater than the entire rest of the visible universe was producing at that instant. It basically consumed 3 x our sun's mass in an instant, converted to energy using E=mc2.


Curious how they eliminate one potential source of error

I understand that the wide physical separation eliminates local sources when they see the same signal at almost the same time in both detectors, but how do they eliminate the possibility that the vibration originated deep in the earth at a point nearly equidistant from both detectors? After all, we're talking about very, very tiny signal. Surely the earth produces its own wide range of grumbles at depths all the way down to the core. Maybe one of those just happened to look like a merging-black-holes "chirp". Probably the reason they used the word "chirp" to describe the signal is that it's a familiar pattern produced by many phenomena.

Skype now translates in real-time into seven languages


Shame about how well it works in one language

At one time I used Skype a lot to speak with family and friends, but then Microsoft took over and thoroughly broke it. Now it needs constant updates to work at all, and I can never call anyone or receive calls using Skype because it no longer rings or beeps for incoming calls or messages on Android or iOS for any of us. Skype ignores questions about this issue this in their support forums, apparently thinking that the solution is for everyone to use Windows phones. Pretty much everyone in my circle has moved on to other apps like WhatsApp. Most of them no longer have Skype installed.

TPP: 'Scary' US-Pacific trade deal published – you're going to freak out when you read it


Re: Downloading legal in Canada? You must mean the other Canada, because it's not legal in this one.

You are referring to the so-called "notice and notice" system introduced by the Canadian government's recent Copyright Modernization Act. ISPs are required to forward copyright violation notices to customers who are identified only by an IP address. They are further required to keep the customer IP address assignment on file for at least 6 months. If the copyright complainant chooses to launch a lawsuit, the ISP is required to turn over their customer's identity in response to a court order. As always, it's up to the courts to decide guilt or innocence and set the damages within the range allowed by the law. As nobody has yet been sued for downloading, it may be a long time before any of the legal issues surrounding it are decided in a court of law. Currently copyright enforcers have sued only torrenters, since their IP address is known and they can be shown to be distributing copyrighted material by participating in the torrent. As I said, low-hanging fruit.

Perhaps you'd care to point to France as a model of enforcing copyright on the internet via a government agency? Here are the numbers from France in their first 5 years of enforcement:

37,000,000 complaints received by the agency (they say they only have resources to look at about half of them)

5,400,000 first warning notices issued

504,000 second warning notices issued

2900 third strike notices issued

2336 referred for investigation

400 referred for prosecution (only the most serious repeat offenders)

The fine can range up to 1500 euros, but so far the maximum fine issued has been 500 euros to a few who failed to respond to the prosecution notice. The highest fine issued to those who admitted guilt for repeat uploading was 300 euros.


Downloading legal in Canada? You must mean the other Canada, because it's not legal in this one.

"There is no requirement to take the material down, since Canadian law says that it is only illegal to upload, and not download, copyrighted material."

Good grief, please take the time to check statements like this for accuracy before publishing them

Copyright law says the same thing in Canada that it says everywhere else. It's illegal to make a copy of any copyrighted material without permission of the copyright holder, except in specifically designated "fair use" circumstances.

You are probably misinterpreting two things:

1. It's much more difficult to catch those downloading illegal copies from the internet because their IP address is not publicly visible the way it is when uploading or torrenting, so copyright enforcers are currently going for the low-hanging fruit. That doesn't mean that anyone should think downloading an unauthorized copy is legal. Try admitting to it publicly and see what happens.

2. It's currently a legal grey area to be determined by the courts in some future case as to whether viewing a stream without making a local copy is equivalent to "making a copy" in copyright law. There are arguments both ways.

Fancy a mile-high earjob? We've had five!


Appreciate the review, but it would have been nice to see a few specs or measurements as well.

Also, several inaccuracies on the first page gave me doubts:

1. Noise canceling headphones are always the active kind. Passive "noise-islolating" headphones may attenuate noise, but they do not in any way "cancel" noise. Please correct your terminology.

2. Noise canceling headphones do not make you "think" that you do not hear the noise, they actually apply energy to cancel the sound wave so that it isn't there any more.

3. You do not have to be out of your mind to wear noise-canceling earbuds during a flight. While most earbuds may be less comfortable for long-term wear, there are some well-designed ones that that can be reasonably comfortable. They can do an excellent job of passive noise isolation in addition to the active noise canceling, and they have the added advantage that on many flights you are allowed to wear earbuds during the takeoff and landing phases of flight (the noisiest) while you are not allowed to wear headphones.

Dead device walking: Apple iPod Touch 6th generation


Cheapest entry level to iOS

If there's one good reason to keep the iPod Touch around, it's because it's the cheapest entry-level iOS device. If you want to be able to use all those great iOS apps without paying for an iPhone or iPad, this is the way.

Of course there are a few significant drawbacks: the battery lifespan sucks: it will be practically dead in 2 years, and it's non-replaceable. And contrary to the comments made in this article, the sound quality of the iPod Touch also sucks (all recent models). It is distinctly worse than classic iPod models and the few remaining competing music players. I'm no snob about barely-audible differences in audio quality, but the iPod Touch is worse than it should be.

'It's better to burn out, than to fade away on worst audio in history'


Nothing new for Neil Young

He's been ranting for years about the sound quality of compressed music. The current battle over streaming quality is just his latest opportunity to go public about it again. I'm sure he's sincere, but a lot of people sincerely believe things that are wrong. Could he pass this test?: http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality

(note that a Neil Young track is included in the test suite)

Bloke called Rod struck by lightning for second time


Presumably the odds of being struck twice in a lifetime are 1 in 3000 squared, or 1 in 9 million. That would mean that it will probably happen to around 30 Americans.

Super Cali goes ballistic – Uber says it's bogus (even though its contract is something quite atrocious)


No surprise

When I was working as a morning newspaper delivery boy 30 years ago, a group challenged the newspaper over their poor treatment of the delivery boys under employment law. The newspaper claimed that they were independent contractors, but the judge ruled that the newspaper could not call them independent and still control the end price of the newspaper to customers and the delivery terms and conditions. Welcome to the law, Uber.

Spaniard sues eBay over right to sell the Sun


Prior claim

Her claim is completely invalid. I own the Milky Way Galaxy, and she hasn't been paying me rent.

Last flying Avro Vulcan, XH558, prepares for her swan song


Starring role in Thunderball

Don't forget the Vulcan's most famous on-screen role as the nuclear bomber hijacked by SPECTRE and ditched in the Caribbean for James Bond to discover in the original Thunderball.


Look out, law abiding folk: UK’s Counter-Extremism Bill slithers into view


All good citizens should conform to the norm!

Oh wait, isn't that communism? What's the one I mean, the one where the secret police round up dissenters and throw them prison?

Hated smart meters likely to be 'a costly failure' – MPs


Missing a major source of savings

Here in British Columbia, Canada the local electrical utility BC Hydro told the public that they would offset part the cost of their $1 billion smart meter program by catching and shutting down more marijuana grow operations that were stealing power. They failed to explain how smart meters would help catch these illegal operators known for bypassing their electrical meters to steal power directly from the grid. Sadly their plan doesn't seem to have worked, and instead we are facing huge increases in electrical rates to pay for the smart meters.

ALIENS are surely AMONG US: Average star has TWO potentially Earth-like worlds


What aliens would say to us if they could

Among the many theories proposed as to why aliens aren't communicating with us, one of the most disturbing is that if they could, what they would say to us is:

"Shut up, you fools!"

We're like a lost fawn bleating in the forest for its mother. We're likely to attract the attention of whatever it is that has everyone else staying quiet and hiding. That's why there has been some criticism of certain experiments attempting to broadcast from earth to other potentially-inhabited star systems. Is it worth taking the chance? Do you want someone else taking that chance on behalf of all of us?