* Posts by Alex 14

65 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Aug 2009


Assange movie debuts this weekend

Alex 14
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@Blofeld's Cat

Of course, it helps when Wikileaks tweets the story to 1,621,029 followers a few hours before it shoots up the rankings: http://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/243670738899451905

Also, people may be interested in reading these articles. Not that they'll change anyone's mind of course:



Medieval warming was global – new science contradicts IPCC

Alex 14

Re: Don't feed the troll

"If people read the paper (and it'd be interesting to know if Lewis did)..."

More interesting to know if he understood it before committing finger to keyboard.

Alex 14
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No doubt

That's a reasonable reaction from reading another terrible article on climate change from a site that specialises in terrible articles on climate change. It reminded me why I almost never come here anymore. Luckily, it turns out there are other websites that enjoy a more intimate relationship with facts.

Downvote me if you like, I won't see them :)

Climategate: A symptom of driving science off a cliff

Alex 14

Re: Re: The problem doesn't go away

When the idiot points at a streetlamp, thinking it's the moon, the wise man laughs at the idiot.

You argued that epidemiology was corrupt because relative risks below 3.0 have been reported for the past 30 years. Ignoring the fact that a relative risk ration [sic] of 3.0 is an inherently arbitrary threshold for declaring something more than "a coincidence" and is anything but "iron-clad", and ignoring that smaller RRRs are can be hugely important on a population level, your argument that there's too much bad science showing spurious associations should mean you WANT RRRs <3.0 to be reported. Well conducted studies designed to test these associations that find RRRs of 1.0 would refute the existence of the associations to which you're objecting (and they would do it a lot more convincingly than rhetoric).

Stallman: Did I say Jobs was evil? I meant really evil

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"The important thing about Jobs is what he directed Apple to do to those who are still living: to make general-purpose computers with *digital handcuffs* more controlling and unjust than ever before."

Apt metaphor - a lot of people in the real world find a lot of pleasure in consentual bondage.

BT cable ballsup hooks up punters to wrong numbers

Alex 14

Slightly similar experience here

Moved into a new build, found BT had already connected my line under someone else's name and of course they wouldn't disconnect the line because data protection blah blah I wasn't the account holder blah blah blah. A 4 month journey of frustrations and buck passing later, I found the person who had the account - turned out to be an equally frustrated person who was trying to get a BT line at their home and kept being told by BT that they already had one. That person lived at house number 114, I lived at 104. Pretty obvious what happened.

Funny thing is I had absolutely no intention of getting service from BT Retail because of their terrible, terrible record. You have to marvel at how they can still ruin your life without you ever being one of their customers.

Steve Jobs death certificate: 'respiratory arrest'

Alex 14

"If you're squeamish, don't click on the headline"

You mean to say "if you're squeamish, don't visit The Register" since the objectionable part of this article (and it's not just squeamish people that think this is lame) is just as evident in the headline visible on the homepage as in the article body.

Classy, Reg, living up to that vulture icon.

Spotify's rising revenues gobbled by royalties blackhole

Alex 14


First thing I did when Spotify features were integrated into Facebook was to block that silly spam from my feed. It was oversized, always near the top and unhelpful to me. Sure, one person does not a trend make but maybe I'm not alone in doing that...

Hey Commentards! [This title is optional]

Alex 14
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YES! YES! Free from the title tyranny at last! They didn't feel this happy when the Berlin wall fell.

...But do you realise the new grievance will be the fact that when you sort by date, you have no idea which original posts the replies belong to, making them all a bit useless?

Amazon solves wait-at-home-for-deliveries problem

Alex 14

@The Mole

New situation: "Amzon emails you that your package has been delivered. you recieve the email, jump in the car, drive to the shopping centre, pay for parking, hit buttons on a machine, call amazon that the machine isn't working/someone has put the wrong package in your drawer/pick it up."

Also, sometimes, the machine might catch on fire or the package might forcibly eject itself and hit the customer in the crotch.

The benefits include i) you don't have to choose between waiting at home or missing the delivery; ii) you can pick it up whenever you like i.e. when you know you'll be near a collection point anyway rather than the 8AM-8.07AM window that most Post Office depots open on a weekend; iii) you can trust a padlocked, bolted down and passworded machine in a locked up and CCTV-monitoring shopping mall more than a corner shop clerk.

I wouldn't even use it but the benefits of this option to others are obvious...

Tricky Xbox 360 hack claimed to work 1 try in 4

Alex 14
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Ever tried it?

I gave it a test run from the UK a while back. On a reasonably fast cable connection, I found games were almost playable despite the servers being an ocean away. I'm looking forward to trying it when they set up the service on the same land mass. Picture quality's pretty good (never felt short-changed by 720p on consoles) and ISPs will have to adapt or die over the long-term because services like iPlayer, 4oD, LoveFilm and now OnLive aren't going away.

Anyway, as you were, XBox 360 hack, you say?

UK could have flooded world with iPods - Sir Humphrey

Alex 14


"They go on to predict that lots of innovation will instantly materialise if the format-shifting exemption is introduced without compensation."

The review argues that rightsholders are perfectly entitled to persue compensation. They simply go about it in one of the traditional ways in which people make money - raise prices, in this case, to take account of consumers new freedom to format shift. A self-correcting "problem"!

BBC explains 'All your Twitter pics are belong to us' gaffe

Alex 14
IT Angle

Is it?

"Coverage rarely, if ever, explains that creators' rights are a universal human right, that these are automatic, and that large media companies must ask permission for your stuff."

Fair enough on the latter two points but a universal human right? It's a right granted to creators by society as an expedient method "to promote the progress of science and useful arts", as the US constitution puts it, no? It's not a right granted as a natural entitlement to all human beings.

Or is it right up there with the right to a fair trial, in which case, where is it in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights and/or the Human Rights Act?

It would be interesting if you were to make the claim that it comes under the right to own property, making the BBC's copyright infringement a human rights violation.

Police kill mobile phone service to squelch protest

Alex 14


"If you listen to professionals who are doing their job, you'll be just fine after all the dust has settled."

Jean Charles de Menezes.

Alex 14

I get what you're saying...

"in a one-off, high-stress situation (which this was), not listening to the cops is a fucking stupid thing to do. And might be fatal. Kinda my point, no?"

What you're arguing is that given that police officers are unsuited or inadequately trained to deal with high-stress situations, it's fucking stupid not to listen to them because they are quite likely to shoot you and possibly kill you. Better to sit down and shut up because you have to assume they're poorly trained at best, vindictive idiots at worst.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Hackers dump secret info for thousands of cops

Alex 14


Falsest dichotomy I've read for a very long time. You don't have to take ANY kind of "mischief"!

Sci/tech MPs want peer review, not pal review

Alex 14

Not so simple

"Government withdrawing funding from theoritical research which is failing to deliver on its promises, and putting the funding to applied research that has a tangible and measurable output inline with current government priorities."

If you thought any particular theoretical field was "promising" anything, you misunderstood. By definition, it's impossible for research to promise anything - you don't know whether theoretical research will even produce results that might potentially be useful until after you actually do the research. That's the whole point of doing research.

The idea that you can simplistically trade off theoretical research for applied research is dangerous because applied research builds on theory. If it weren't for theoretical research into electromagnetic radiation (lasers), we wouldn't have applied research into higher capacity optical storage media (DVDs etc). No-one could have predicted that all that theory would be as useful as it has been when Einstein set it out.

"Most academics think money is a bottomless pit and that their research should be funded above anyone elses. Mention measurement of success and deadlines and you get a confused and slightly scared look or outright acusations that you don't understand what they are trying to achieve."

I take it you've never had to apply for funding then. Academics are acutely aware of limited resources every time they have to compete with legions of their peers for research grants. Moreover, deadlines are an issue. Trust me. Money runs out.

Film studios thrash BT in Newzbin site-block test case

Alex 14


"It's fascinating to hear arguments such as BT's contention that it is not an internet service provider, or that Newzbin2 members were passive recipients, and just happened to have anime and pirate movies pop onto their PCs ... or that after notification from a copyright-holder, an ISP could claim that it hadn't been notified."

Why tease? Why not share some quotes in context to demonstrate how BT supposedly claimed dogs are cats? I bet it WOULD be fascinating.

Rupert Murdoch was never Keyser Soze

Alex 14
IT Angle


"The Beeb avoided immigration because of the (genuine) historical racist overtones: however immigration really ceased being a racist issue after May 1 2004, when the largest wave of immigration the UK has ever seen began – and which was almost entirely white."

So it couldn't have been a racist issue because almost all the immigrants were white; instead, it was merely xenophobic. Was that your point?

LulzSec hacker Sabu: Murdoch emails 'sometime soon'

Alex 14

You make a valid point

You're describing a scenario where LulzSec would have done no damage and, sure, that might be what happened here but we don't know that. LulzSec certainly couldn't have known for sure that there wouldn't be incriminating evidence when they did the hack and even NI probably couldn't have known with certainty that any "house-keeping" they'd done had been 100% successful (unlikely they would have wiped entire email archives because it would look very much like perjury, they'd have been selective in the deletion if they had any sense).

LulzSec were irresponsible (behaving irresponsibly is part of the point of their whole existance after all) and even if the "best" case scenario is that the evidence was already destroyed by that point, they don't deserve anything but condemnation.

My hope is that the police, under pressure to do their jobs, had long since backed up any NI emails by the time of the hack. Even if that happened, it hasn't been publicised, AFAIK, so it's unlikely that LulzSec knew the emails were safe when they hacked.

Alex 14


Maybe grey or better to you, maybe even to most people on El Reg but to a jury of the general public who'd hear that LulzSec hack websites and publicise their data hauls because they think it's funny? Very unlikely to be sympathetic, even if they don't care that LulzSec are engaged in unambiguously criminal behaviour.

Alex 14

"It's the job of the prosecution to prove...the validity of their evidence"

I'm not saying that if LulzSec hadn't hacked the emails, a prosecutor would get a free pass to admit them as evidence. My point is that any prosecution would now have a much harder time proving the emails have validity, maybe to the point where they can't prove it satisfactorily at all, than if LulzSec had just ****ed off. The obvious argument by the defence, that incriminating emails are just a LulzSec plant could turn out to be a golden bullet to protect criminals.

Sure, there's always doubt that a suspicious email wasn't the product of a disgruntled admin or whatever, but LulzSec didn't need to add to the bog standard reasons for questioning digital data. They're just giving the defence ammunition right now.

And another point that occurs to me - if and when all these emails hit the public domain, they'll be widely reported. What are the odds that WON'T prejudice a future trial?

Alex 14

I see what you're saying

But it would be very stupid for NI to blatantly commit perjury by getting someone to make their emails "disappear".

But OK, let's assume that NI does try and disappear the emails, so the only way one could get those emails would be via LulzSec (either directly or indirectly). Prosecution would be mad to try persuading a jury that they should trust black-hat hackers with an apparent grudge against Murdoch.

Alex 14

Not in this case

They've hacked NI email servers, which may very well have contained important evidence in ongoing criminal investigations, poisoning the reliability of those emails in the process. This might well have given a future defence counsel grounds to argue that there are reasonable doubts over whether any incriminating evidence was simply planted on those servers "for the lulz".

So, great job, LulzSec, you've interfered with an important investigation. I hope your giggles were worth it because who knows how much you've jeapordised the chances of prosecutions? If you were actually principled enough to be anti-Murdoch, you would have done better to leave those emails well alone.

Awaiting the downvotes from LulzSec's band of merry supporters.

TalkTalk watchdog smackdown after ad complaint

Alex 14


"The regulator said the ad's on-screen declaration that punters could "Save over £140" was "surrounded by numerous question marks", but...it was not clear that this was a question rather than a claim."

I guess I'd need to see the offending footage but I distinctly remember learning in school that a question mark marks a question. Indeed, the clue is in the name of the punctuation. I'd have thought that text surrounded by numerous question marks would leave little room for misinterpretation that the text was, in fact, a question...

Rebekah Brooks quits - Murdoch accepts this time

Alex 14

Why does this fallacy always come up?

"The world, his dog and especially the good commenters at El Reg have been praising Wikileaks, Anonymous and various psychopathic, cretinous splinter groups who admit they cause damage for "the lulz"...now it's been revealed that people associated with Rupert Murdoch have being doing the exact same thing...and now the sky is falling!"

Have you been taking names of the people praising the first groups you mentioned and comparing them to the names of the people condemning Murdoch et al.? No? Then have you considered the possibility that the people praising some groups and the people condemning the other might be different people?

Or are you just that good at intuiting the pulse of the nation?

Culture sec consults Ofcom, OFT on BSkyB merger

Alex 14

They don't need to be that bright

He's proposing a vote on whether NI's takeover bid be delayed until after criminal investigations into the activities of one of their subsidiaries are complete.

Seems like something MPs are capable of voting on because it's so very obvious which way the vote should go. They're not voting on whether to approve or reject the bid, they're voting on whether to wait to find out (amongst other things) whether the bid is coming from an organisation that knowingly employs criminals in senior positions.

Disclaimer in the interests of getting this comment approved: I make no accusations, of course, but any investigation should seek to find out how far the rot went.

Nice try, Amazon: 'One-click' payment too obvious to patent

Alex 14

Star Trek's PADD

Fails the "real" test... :-p

Alex 14

Real and clever

Like the Kindle?

The freakonomics of smut: Does it actually cause rape?

Alex 14
Paris Hilton

This bit lost me

"In D'Amato's paper, he uses Freakonomics-style statistics...to try to tease out evidence of something more than just correlation"


"What he found is that the lower the internet penetration in 2004 in a US state, the higher the rape rate had risen and that the higher the internet penetration, the lower rate had fallen. We expect, for those societal reasons, that the reported rape rate will have risen over the time period. And where there's no or limited internet access, it has. Where there is high internet access it has fallen, the fall being greater than the general societal rise."

Maybe my problem is I know nothing about what 'Freakonomics' entails...maybe it's just because I'm making an assumption from context on what "the higher the internet penetration, the lower rate had fallen" means...but isn't that just saying they've found a different kind of correlation while controlling for 2 variables (reporting rate and legislative changes)?

Plus, doesn't it say that the best way to reduce rape would be increase internet access in general, not pornography specifically?

Ads watchdog bites Virgin Media over 'con' claims

Alex 14

I select the letter 'u' for this title

"The ASA obected to the provider's frequent implications that other ISPs deal with consumers dishonestly."

Right, because if you can't be dishonest in advertising, when can you be dishonest?

...That was their point, right?

Sony preps refreshed PS3 and talks down PS4

Alex 14


"I don’t think it’s possible to provide any advancement beyond what we have."

Almost 5 years worth of developments in consumer electronics say hello.

OnLive cloud-gaming on UK horizon in Q3

Alex 14
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I was the biggest naysayer about OnLive when it looked like a pie in the sky idea that required various breakages of the laws of physics. Then the demos turned out to be almost half-playable in the UK using their datacentres in the US. I'm looking forward to it being streamable without an ocean in the way.

GCHQ man: Powerline networks do interfere with radio

Alex 14

Just a few questions

After they've been taken off shelves, who would be responsible for detecting the interference from millions of devices in circulation? Who would track down their location? Would there be any compensation for people who legitimately purchased a legal device? Who would destroy them? How much would the de-PLT UK Team cost and who would pay for it?

Comet owner boosted by closure rumours

Alex 14

Don't leave us, Comet!

If you pull out of the UK, I'll have to go somewhere else to look at consumer electronics in person before I buy them online from another retailer for 20% off your sticker price :(

Mentally ill file-sharer had 'low self-esteem'

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Quality troll, would downvote again.

CPS: We won't prosecute over BT/Phorm secret trials

Alex 14


So "it could be reasonably argued that any offending was the result of an honest mistake or genuine misunderstanding of the law" and the "behaviour in question [was] unlikely to be repeated".

I wonder how far I'd get if I tried the "I didn't know it was wrong and I promise not to do it again" excuse.


Alex 14
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I love it when The Register goes off on these ridiculous rants without any understanding of the subject matter in general or the research specifically, it really is just the ticket for a Friday afternoon. Keep on shining that spotlight!

I'll be having a drink later despite evidence of the health risks, not because of intellectual flailing to discount that evidence as a result of my not liking what it says.

Apple pressures Toyota to kill jailbreaker ad

Alex 14

Stupid title stupid duuuuuur

"As we've said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably."

The use of the word "violate" obviously not an accident there, when the standard term is "invalidate". Also vaguely trollish lols at the notion that it's jailbreaking, rather than flaws in the phone itself, that could cause it to become unreliable...

TV election debate 'worm' graph found to undermine democracy

Alex 14

And also

The whole idea that it's worth scrutinising a politician in real time as if a voter can offer a meaningful judgement after every utterance, blink and cough is stupid.

TV people should stop doing it on that basis alone, never mind the whole swaying elections thing.

Microsoft man riles update-hungry Windows Phone 7 users

Alex 14
IT Angle

"The new update has to be tested by the network operators"

Why? I'm not in a hurry for the update, I'm not even a WP7 user and I know this is standard for Android updates too but...Why?

Dim Brits think TARDIS IS REAL

Alex 14

1/3 wrong about time travel existing?

More like 2/3 wrong about it not existing. That's a perfectly valid finding for a study done in Birmingham, where time goes forwards 20 years once you leave the city.

Flame me, it's Friday!

Huawei to gift underground coverage to London

Alex 14


People use mobile networks for things other than voice calling these days. Text messages are not exactly a recent invention nor is mobile internet access, all of which can be done in an appropriate degree of silence.

You're assuming that because people COULD call on an already deafening tube, they'll automatically want to. In my experience, people don't make phone calls on a packed and noisy bus, so why would they do it on the tube?

Anonymous hacktivists: We've got Stuxnet code

Alex 14

Titles are very important for internet comments

"The highly complex code might be adapted to attack other industrial control systems, at least in theory, but that hardly fits with anything Anonymous has done in the past."

Of course, Anonymous didn't have highly complex code that might be adapted to attack industrial control systems until now. It's hard to predict what those high-spirited scamps will get up to next.

Documents in Assange rape probe leak onto the net

Alex 14


You either think 9/10 of the world have had non-consensual sex under the circumstances AC described or you forgot the 'joke alert' icon for your first sentence...

Passenger cleared after TSA checkpoint stare-down

Alex 14
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Wouldn't care

Not that paranoid.

Online sync'n'store services

Alex 14


I can save to the SD card on the phone so they'll be accessible on the go and it'll still be recognised as a mass storage device in any Windows PC ;)

But, yes, your point is taken. Saving to USB storage as a single location never seemed a hassle to me but to each their own.

Alex 14


I'm sticking with a memory stick or USB HDD. It's faster than my internet connection, not dependant on having internet access, cheaper than most of these services, no subscription required, more secure...Cloud storage is handy for sharing stuff between people but other than that I feel I'm missing the point of the services.

Google flicks switch on video search results

Alex 14
IT Angle

I don't get it...

Perhaps I'm missing the point but how could this be construed as having anything to do with deterring EU regulators? How does grouping similar results make Google (seem) less anti-competitive?

"But many will wonder why, given the power of Google's online algorithmic muscle, the company hadn't offered up its vid searches in that way previously."

Sounds like a phrase you can apply every time Google rolls out a new feature, just replace 'vid searches' with whatever. There's not necessarily a Machiavellian conspiracy behind it.

And now for the downvotes...

Apple shareholders call for transparent CEO 'succession plans'

Alex 14

You're a title.

I'd have thought the CLPF would know better than to ask Apple for transparent *anything*. Whether or not one thinks they should make public succession plans, it's a pretty darn safe bet that they won't.

It's just not their way.