* Posts by Richard

208 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Apr 2007


Website liable for Google-generated page summary


We need a stupidity clause

Does any vaguely intelligent person form opinions based on what they see on the google summaries? This has to be a step dumber than using wikipedia as your sole source of knowledge.

Continuing in a similar vein, this would imply that anything a reasonably skilled splicer could do with things an individual had said would result in them (the individual, not the splicer) being sued. Crazy!

Jacqui whacks shock jock crock

Paris Hilton

Of course

If we didn't have such spectacularly over-reaching libel laws over here he wouldn't be able to sue.

Paris, as she's less promiscuous than the English courts when it comes to defamation.

BNP DDoS 'mega-assault' not actually mega in the least


See, the BNP aren't racist

They've let foreign packets come over here, take down their server... and use Polish spitfires and Oregon construction workers in their election pamphlets

Why wasn't the website set up to only allow good, clean British traffic in? A touch ironic for a party that gives it big on border control.

Taxpayer coughs for AOL Connie's flat



Let's just be glad that he didn't claim for extra security that time she got mugged.

It's not as though he'll get voted out at the next election - he's retiring. Nice time to get found out if you ask me.

Banned US shock-jock demands Clinton intervention


But he _does_ have freedom of expression

He doesn't have absolute freedom of movement. *sigh*

Beeb tech boss seeks to expand TV licence online


Not the only use for iPlayer

I don't have a licence as I don't watch TV, even on iPlayer, but I do use iPlayer to catch up on the radio broadcasts. As good as I think radio 4 is, there is no way on this earth I'd pay to listen to a few programs that I'd missed - I might as well wait a few months and get them on Radio 7, the home of repeats....

English vocab poised to hit 1m words




Mine's the one with the short poem in.

Top British boffin: Time to ditch the climate consensus


Nobel prizes

Didn't Tom Lehrer give up satire when Henry Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize?

I think the whole climate change debate is a sign of the infantile manner in which pretty much every argument has to be intensely polarised today. While it was fun for a while in that it enabled media outlets to sell more copy as 'twere, it has shaped politics and societally important science into loud, shouty arguments on the with us or against us level. Mike Hulme seems to espouse neither polar viewpoint and, sadly, will therefore be vilified by both. It's ironic that he is criticising concensus when a somewhat truer concensus would necessarily be away from the 2 extremes and somewhat nearer the middle. To paraphrase the rail announcer, it's the wrong kind of concensus...

Crimestoppers benefits from recession-hit grasses


You've got to wonder about what serious means

If the payouts were exclusively for the murders then that's not even hitting £500 per informant. Somehow I suspect there were a few tips on rapes, assaults, etc in the mix so it doesn't really say much for the expected return.

Should Crimestoppers have an asterisked "typical payout £50. Terms and conditions apply. Turning yourself in may put your freedom at risk." at the bottom of their ads?

How to turn votes into tax free cash


A bit dodgy on the timeline

Tony Blair replaced John Smith in 1994 after the latter's death. Smith had replaced Kinnock in 1992

Pig plague and Twitter: The terrifying truth


So in a few months

Twitter users should start banging on about the ultimate terror liquid: Dihydrogen Monoxide.

Unless they're all dead, which can't be bad for the world's average IQ.

Sheep ad not cruel, bleats Samsung


”sentient, intelligent and complex”

To be fair, compared to the average PETA spokesperson, the average ovine looks like Marilyn vos Savant.

I don't eat PETA reps because there's no meat on them...

What on earth do you think you are doing, Darling?


Fiscal drag cuts both ways

One only has to look at the infinitely postponed council tax revaluation on house prices to realise that.

I've been thinking linking the personal allowance to the minimum wage is a good idea for a while now, but I'd extend the principle across determining all of those arbitrary tax points by some property of the economy with a requirement that the statistics must be updated at least once per Parliament (and ideally every year seeing as they are collected anyway) eg have the higher rate start at the nth percentile of earnings, inheritance tax at the nth percentile of legacies.

Flat rate income tax is a daft idea though - it suffers from exactly the same fiscal drag problems as detailed in the article.

Oldsters: If you think you'll lose your memory, you will


More cargo cult science

This is just a rehash of the old tell someone that people like them tend to do crap in a test and funnily enough they do too experiment that's been done on let's see: women, <insert nigh on every race under the sun>, blondes, people who like cheese, kittens (probably).

Obviously not being interested enough to fork out for a subscription to Geriatrics in Electrodes monthly, I have to wonder whether they've factored in whether this is exclusive to memory tests or if it's more of the "being told you're crap at _anything_ doesn't make you do better" effect that the plethora of variations on this theme and the "proofs" of stigmatisation would suggest.

Tree huggers will confuse shoppers, says Amazon



I suggest the matter be decided in a fight between representative warriors from both sides.

I look forward to buying the DVD from Amazee, erm, Amazon...

Cabinet Office promises auto-sacking for breaking email rules


One has to wonder

What if they don't sign the understanding piece of paper?

Phorm director advises UK.gov broadband minister



It's not a conflict of interest, it's a conflict of influence.

Don't for one second tell me that being on the official contact list within a department or elsewhere in the corridors of power doesn't get you something. Wouldn't this be why one T. Blair Esquire gets such a hefty retainer from Merrill Lynch?

From the same school of logic that brought you "it's perfectly within the rules". Yes it is - but the rules are wrong, as well as the behaviour.

BSA hijacks Somali pirate hype

Paris Hilton

Wrong parallel

I read an interesting article a while back noting that many Somalis only turned to piracy when European fishing vessels muscled in on the local fishing grounds thanks to some shady deals with the various factions in the region.

There's surely a more apposite parallel with the way grey imports are handled :o

Paris, because she's been conflated with the beautiful and interesting.

Labour flames whistleblowers in email smear brouhaha


If you ask me

The blogosphere and the current generation of politicos are well matched. Reactionary, deliberately misdirecting, unable to find the right end of a stick even when clearly labelled.

Face it, Labour's whining because they got caught. The Tories are whining because they were the targets and because they didn't think of it first. OK, so it's news that the smear campaign existed at all, but from the media reaction of the last few days, you'd think they'd hadn't been thought of before. Wait a tick, that's the whole point of Web 2.0 - the same old crap with a star saying "Beta".

Obesity witchhunt is a 'moral panic' - sense out of Texas


Correlation != Causation

BMI should only really be a starter for 10, not Judge Judy & executioner.

The conversation should be "I see you have quite a high/low BMI, let's have a closer look at other risk factors like your parachute jumping and interviews on the Today Programme" rather than "I see you have quite a high/low BMI, you're going to explode/implode and DIE!"

Quetelet never claimed health implications - BMI was only intended as a population classification mechanism to see if it fitted a standard probability distribution. It's the flipping insurance industry that added them as a magic risk indicator. AIG's recent performance should tell you how good magic risk indicators are...

Science-boosting thickie questionnaire backfires


Better way of answering the question

A text box.

This way you will discover :-

Some don't know that percentages are between 0 and 100.

Some don't know that percentages are numbers.

Some geeks answer in Hex.

Some think that text boxes are places to try SQL injection attacks.

Some are even more pedantic than the "what about ice and fresh water?" folks and consider the few ppm of water vapour in the atmosphere to be a criterion for being covered by, thus raising the number to close to 100%.

Concerted Linux-netbook effort needed to beat Microsoft

Gates Horns

Herein lies the problem

"According to Zemlin, companies could soon make their money back during the lifetime of any contract sold along with a netbook."

If we're comparing to the mobile market, the subsidy is to draw you into paying extortionate rates on phone calls or rather, extortionate rates per month on "free" minutes and the like that you're not going to use. So what kind of contracts could possibly be the basis for subsidising netbooks?

A killer application that only runs on Linux? Chances are that someone will produce a rough and ready clone fairly quickly if said app is paid-for, and if it's not paid-for then it isn't going to produce any money with which to do subsidies.

Some kind of service? Pretty much the only one that fits the bill with regards netbooks are ISPs, and they'd have to produce a spectacularly opaque contract that would get torn to shreds by the likes of this site before you can say "Muppet pays extra £50/Gb just to get a dinky computer".

Can't see it happening...

'Gv up txt 4 Lent,' urges bishop


40 days in Lent

Sundays are feast days so don't count. Also, patronal festivals are feast days, which is why one suspects the Irish were so keen on St Pat's day being in Lent.


Polish Spitfire shoots down BNP


If the BNP want to show the Poles what it's like

Why don't they all go over to Poland?

It would be interesting to see if their Polish equivalents are harder working on the authoritarian front.

El Reg suffers identity crisis



Biting the long tail that feeds Web 2.0

Unashamed that the Daily Mail called them respected

Unashamed that the Grauniad calls them ever-excellent

A site full of scurrilous children's toy-abusing vapid heiress-obsessed [MS|Apple|O'Reilly's bunch of badgers|Sadville|Jimbo Wales' clique of "experts"|Edit this description]-baiting memoclastic climactic sceptical articles and not enough BOFH.

Arms biz glovepuppets Parliamentary kit probe


It's not a matter of can't be bothered

It's can't do much about it.

Pretty much any part of the economy that's worth more than a few billion quid or a few tens of thousands of jobs almost always gets something approximating carte blanche from whoever is in charge. The simple threat of the elimination of a few thousand well-paid (because we're flipping paying them) jobs and the associated tax income results in a total spinectomy for most politicians in government, which is why being a multinational is so great - 10,000 workers or so in several countries give you nearly absolute latitude in all of them and all for threatening to drop less than 5% of your total workforce, which you never actually have to do due to the spine removals. Still, you occasionally do so just to remind them who's in charge.

And just to cap it off, most governments encourage overseas acquisitions as a boost to national prestige (which is almost as mercurial a property as sovereignty).

Where's the Charlton Heston icon? - The only way you're going to get away from the incumbents is out of their cold dead hands.

Stargazers peer into the 'Eye of God'


Arse of God

Surely that would be Eta Carinae: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EtaCarinae.jpg

Somewhat ironically for the AC @13:43, part of the nearby Keyhole nebula is known as the Finger of God :o

Too busy to make a jam sandwich? M&S can help


Not much has changed

Linda Smith used to do a joke about tuna flakes being for people incapable of using a fork. Same thing, innit.

Twitter breaks Jam Festival record


Wrong Chris Morris analogy

Why am I thinking of baby elephants?

Perfect example on The Daily Gush, erm Wired today:

"The nerds hate it, because they don't get it. It's out of their control," explained Howard Lindzon, of StockTwits, which won the best finance Twitter award. "If you can't say it in 140 characters, you probably don't have much to say. Those are the people who don't like it."

Amazon unveils Kindle 2.0


Flipping heck!

Does that mean Kindle's OS uses about 600MB - to read a sodding book and do a bit of networky stuff? That rather puts MS in the shade for the old bloat:functionality ratio...

Brits and Yanks struck with embarasment embarrassment


It's Phonetical Correctness Gone Mad!

The stupid thing about their (annual) whinge about "irregular" spelling is that embarrassed and millennium actually follow a regularised pattern in English spelling. For embarrassed, not having the double r & s would lengthen the a's. It's fair comment if we restrict it to the weirder side like the 18 possible pronunciations of "ough" or UK place/street names (although whether Mr Haines would like in future to be asked the question "Lester, like the city?" is another matter), but calling for a nigh on complete overhaul is ridiculous. There's an old joke knocking round on the intertubes where small changes in spelling on phonetic grounds eventually look rather Germanic - Ze drems of the Guvernmnt vud finali hav kum tru

Even more idiotically, they forget that NOT ALL PEOPLE PRONOUNCE WORDS THE SAME - FFS, the letter T would nearly disappear for the yoof of today and "innit" would be a new punctuation mark.

Ironically, much of the irritation between English and US spelling was because of changes made in the 18th Century to make English more like French & Greek (hence the -our and flurry of ph's), which the US largely ignored.

Parcelforce website cold-shoulders Linux lovers


Isn't it about time?

Why is it that there are still idiot developers (no doubt egged on by idiot managers and marketing droids) who insist on putting browser checks in at all?

How hard is it to have a simple "we've tested this on the following browsers, if you're using anything else we can't guarantee it'll work" message? Unless you're relying on InactiveX, there's no reason for it.

Lords say surveillance society erodes foundations of UK

Black Helicopters

Half the story

Why is it with Home Office statements in response to anything like this that I am reminded of the old sitcom favourite:

"You fat bitch!"

<Righteous indignation> "Who are you calling fat?"

Oh that's it! Because they always only respond to (at most) half of what's been said and hope that no-one notices the disparity.

CCTV and DNA _are_ essential crime-fighting tools, but there is plenty of evidence that their effectiveness tapers if overused, not to mention that they don't actually _stop_ crime (well, I suppose CCTV could, if the camera fell off its mount and knocked the ne'er-do-well out before s/he did anything). So, what of all the other database bollocks? <shuffle, shuffle> Erm, it'll keep 14 foreigners out and stop maybe one paedophile per century?

I swear, if the Home Office were ever asked about cost overruns on a Montana bunker complex they'd say something like it's very important to have enough stationery during a nuclear winter.

Half Life 2 used for firefight fire drill


That's all very well

The simulant left about 4 fire doors open on his way out - WTG as the fire spreads in his wake...

he'd be the only one that made it out alive. Mind you, if it's one of those buildings on Elvet it's probably for the best ;)

Tories choose sub-prime beard for maths post


Vorderman set theory:

Annoying and vaguely scientific: 10%

Annoying and not even vaguely scientific: 90%

Not annoying and vaguely scientific: Undefined

Not annoying and not even vaguely scientific: Oh puleeaaasse, you're 'aving a larf incha!

Which part of the Carol diagram (more appropriate spelling here to save Mr Dodgson's blushes) do you think the Maths gimmick erm Taskforce's work is going to fit into?

Wrong kind of winter brings England to a halt


BBC advice - ha!

Their Heavy Snow: At a Glance page(which I assumed would be blank) was conspicously missing a North and a Scotland until about dinner time. Presumably "Scoop" Nanook couldn't get any mobile reception.

Doner kebabs: Death wrapped in pitta bread


I don't eat kebabs

They violate my "Don't eat food that must be shaved before consumption" rule.

Spammers target Twitter


Twammers: Oh, come on!

That's got to be up there with blook as crappest made up word even it does point to "Twat" being the word for a spammed tweet.

Can't we do any better? Guano perhaps - annoying if it lands on you, but made Nauru a fortune from nitrate mining...

Google and the Great Wikipedia Feedback Loop


It isn't just Google's fault

... or rather, it is, and also indirectly - because it has become the lazy "if I'm writing an article and there's a couple of difficult words or I'm just plain copying them verbatim and might as well give them credit" linked to site of every bloke and his blogging dog.

Seeing as they who couldn't spell 10^100 think (and arguably correctly) that the major news providers are more important than the rest of the interwebs, this also points towards the lowering of journalistic standards on a large scale - ooh, I need to show a bit of background, let's link to Jimbo's Jet Set; that'll do. Of course, as the Jet Set gets more links it is more likely to appear high on the search results and the lazier the journo is the more likely they'll only click on a couple of links top and so the feedback loop is strengthened. Ad nauseam.

Linux to spend eternity in shadow of 'little blue E'


Doesn't this point to a general O/S FAIL?

The fail is that ALL O/S's have monstrously crap help systems. That get worse if you're coming over from another O/S. Microsoft has a genuine advantage (pun intended) in that, as the incumbant majority O/S writer, people are most likely to use up their "I'm learning how to use a computer" mental budget on their product, so they benefit from rubbish help in that it leaves other systems having to be nigh on impossibly easy to use so as to not confuse people too much.

I suffer from a similar issue when it comes to graphics programs - if the menu structure isn't like Photoshop 7, I'll spend at least 5 minutes of confusion per use trying to figure out how to do anything.

I think the console could teach a lot when it comes to this, or at least games could. Games tend to have printed manuals (or at least PDFs), something O/Ss abandoned circa the original iMac. They come with quick reference cards. And often with (heaven forfend!) reasonably well thought out tutorial modes.

Vista offers a good example of what I mean - they've shuffled up the control panel: fine, I can live with that. They even allow you to switch to "Classic View". That's not going to last in future versions though, is it? I'm still going to have to learn the new view eventually, but you're going to make it hard for me. How about a bit in "Classic View" that actually tells me where it is in the new version - a "Where the hell is the Big blue E?" mode if you will?

USAF cops seek netflinger rifle to down ultralights, paragliders



Best not - it might remind ne'er-do-wells that the nets were most commonly fought with Tridents. Britain's so called Indepedent Nuclear deterrent would then have to be put to rather more entertaining use.

Flames, well because...

Prison warders told to can 'hurtful' language


Of course it's not political correctness gone mad!

According to the handbook*:

"Political" should not be used as it has associations with politicians, and that offends pretty much everybody.

"Correctness" is derived from "Rectus": Latin for "bottom^H^H^H "right"

"Mad" has associations with mental health issues, which should never be alluded to.

I can now imagine Scottish lags shouting "Person wi' mental health issues? Are yoo sayin' ah'm a nutter?" followed by a swift headbutt and a few days in solitary... and all because of a without speech handbook.

* I don't actually have a copy, but I'm sure this is what it says

HDTV 'pointless' without perfect peepers


Eye test within 12 months?

It's hardly surprising that such a high proportion hadn't seen the optician in 12 months. Quite a lot of us with glasses get told to come back in 2 years.

Librarians redubbed 'audience development officers'


@Adam Foxton

I don't know if the self-scan machines are different for you, but the ones in my local Asda were designed by Satan.

I love change, but when I've stretched 4 feet to my left to put the money in it is just plain evil to have the coins come out next to where you've put money in and the notes come out next to the right thigh.


Political Correctness my arse!

It's more a case of Confusocracy. Quite what the purpose is here is unclear - one could think of many reasons both good and bad, no, actually all bad:

Someone is getting paid to come up with job titles.

The head librarian thought Head of Audience Development was a cooler job title.

Some overpaid eejit with the title "Equality Officer" or similar thought up the wheeze as the title "Librarian" was demeaning.

Obfuscation of stats - Audience Development Officers will appear at a different point in any list of employees, thus making year-on-year comparison difficult (I'm suspecting this is the REAL reason given that you mention 40 may be in for the chop)

How you pay for tomorrow's scares, today


"Piracy reaches new dimensions"

Isn't that a rejected blurb for a BBC series to have featured John Barowman?

Online crime maps go live


Re: Uniformity

"Would it have been too hard for the Home Office...?"

This IS the Home Office involved, so yes. The amazing bit is that the various police forces have managed to get prima facie working systems. Had the Home Office been directly involved we'd have had neither "working" or indeed "system".

Steve Jobs dismisses death rumours


Could it be..?

That said hormone is egosterone?

BBC: Top Gear Tesla didn't run out of juice


I for one...

welcome this new breakdown simulation element on Top Gear. Now if only they'd expand that to include Clarkson's gob once in a while.

UK will save its 48-hour opt-out, says employment lawyer


@ AC "The European Parliament has voted ...

Given the 17 week measurement period and the fact that businesses do have the right to determine your holidays, the CBI is actually objecting to not being allowed to force workers to do an average of about 51 hours per week ALL YEAR. That sounds like routine to me.

So you don't want to be governed by Europe because you agree with their reasons for voting against the opt out. That is why /I/ think democracy is overrated.